Tigerland

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Tigerland

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Tigerland

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A low-budget, Dogma 95-style melodrama set in an infantry training camp during the Vietnam War, Joel Schumacher's Tigerland was reportedly borne out of a creative crisis the director experienced after the drubbing he took for Batman & Robin. Why he didn't get the same hollow feeling after St. Elmo's Fire, Flatliners, Batman Forever, A Time To Kill, or any of his other horrible movies probably has more to with their healthy box-office returns than his sense of artistic fulfillment. Whatever the case, Schumacher's renewed vigor has resulted in his best work since The Lost Boys, a derivative but passable rehashing of tropes found in Full Metal Jacket, Hamburger Hill, and others of their ilk. Leading a stellar cast of unknowns, charismatic Irish actor Colin Farrell stars as a rebellious draftee determined to get himself and his fellow soldiers discharged from the Army. It's 1971, and the air of futility and disillusionment about the war effort has begun to infect some in the unit who admire Farrell's stubborn resistance to the camp's sadistic rituals, which are ostensibly designed to prepare them for the front lines. Farrell's increasing influence over the other troops—most notably the narrator (Matthew Davis), a would-be writer who wants to channel his war experience into novels like James Jones or Hemingway—results in his ironic ascent to squad leader. The idea of one man conducting a protest from within (and in doing so, echoing the tenor of the time) is the most novel aspect of Tigerland, driven home entirely on the strength of Farrell's superb performance. But beyond his sly deflation of army braggadocio, the rest of the film is a middling run-through of dehumanizing camp routines, with familiar character types and too many poetic speeches. The use of handheld cameras and natural light, courtesy of Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Requiem For A Dream) cinematographer Matthew Libatique, gives at least a superficial impression of realism and urgency. But, despite Schumacher's calculated attempt to escape the Hollywood style, Tigerland isn't all that far removed.

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