Explodes On A Screen Near You.
Disney film offers digitized F/X love story of how two American pilots despite their bitter rivalry over winning the affections of a US Navy nurse had what it took to save the world from Nazi tyranny.
By Roger Ebert Film Reviewer
for Notional Pest
Ben Affleck takes off in his Hellcat to shoot down 1500 Nazi bombers on their way to bomb London
Hollywood, NP. Fresh from its triumphant blockbuster Pearl Harbor, Disney today gave its first screening of the 'wartime story to end all wartime stories'. According to their chief media publicist, Harvey Glick, Disney's movie dwarfs any film ever made in terms of cost, special effects, and appeal to American patriotic fervour. The eight-hour epic (making it the longest feature presentation film ever made) tells how the US won the greatest war in history.
Dubyas Two begins where Pearl Harbor ended with America defeating the Japanese after their 1941 sneak attack on Hawaii. Dubyas continues with the destruction of the Nazis on the Continent of Europe in 1945 by American troops.
The film was budgeted for $750 million but the final cost may well exceed $1 billion because it is a virtual cornucopia of astonishing special effects and dazzling cinematic clichés, many of which have never been seen before. Disney is confident that the film over the course of its run will rake in several billion dollars, many times its cost.
Let me be up front with my claim that this is the best war story ever put into a digitized format. Some critics have expressed reservations about another retelling of history from a totally biased American perspective and that it ignores the contributions of other nations in defeating the Japanese, German and Italian war machines. These cynics also blather on about trivializing the greatest event in the twentieth century by ignoring important events and placing historical figures in events that never happened. Well, I have a one finger salute for these carping nobodies. One dumbass critic even complained that Winston Churchill, who he claims was the greatest statesman to come out of that conflict is not even mentioned. Well, up yours, Jack! Churchill was a limey who went crawling to Roosevelt for help when the going got tough! Some statesman!
I go to movies to be entertained and if the central characters are always Americans it doesn't bother me. I'm happy with a tender love story that is played out against the background of a world in turmoil and needing America to jump in and fix it. I won't sit through a dumb, dull Canadian or fairy infested Brit movie even if its paid for by the Pest and includes all the popcorn I can eat. And I'll bet my flat Yankee ass neither will anybody else. If I want to watch a documentary I'll turn on the History Channel.
So what if maybe some other countries played a part in World War II — big deal! As long as the film remain true to the final outcome, which is the Yanks defeating the Nazis, that's all that counts. If other countries want to make war movies about how they helped America do it, nobody's stopping them.
I give this movie my maximum FIVE
Dubyas Two — The
The script of this marvellous movie is the work of Randall Wallace, who did such a great job with Pearl Harbor. I am thrilled that I and other top critics, including Roger Ebert and Scott Upchuk, were allowed to view the just completed movie in a special pre-release screening (we were flown to Hollywood in a Disney jet but that had no bearing on our reactions to the movie; we scribblers at the Notional Pest cannot be bought):
In Dubyas Two the two Americans heroes of Pearl Harbor play key roles in saving the world from Nazi domination. Because of time limitations and to keep the plot manageable, certain minor episodes of the war — The Battle of Britain, The Eastern Front, Battle of the Atlantic, Italian Campaign, D-Day Landings, etc., — are mostly ignored (Thank God, I said to myself — the plot entanglements of the protagonists themselves were hard enough to follow!)
Ben Affleck and newcomer Gomer Hammerflueger play the two Americans (Josh Hartnett who played Ben's rival in Pearl was having his jaw re-set for an upcoming movie about how the new American nation won the war of 1812 and was unavailable for the part). In Dubyas Two it's 1942 and Ben and Gomer are top pilots in the Eagle Squadron aboard the US aircraft carrier, Charles A. Lindbergh, steaming on patrol in the English Channel. The carrier is on a mission to supply the Free French (the only reference to non American allied involvement in WW II) with a decoder device that an American destroyer had captured from the Nazi submarine U 571.
Dubyas opens with the two boys playing shuffleboard on the carrier's deck. Despite a badly infected hangnail, Ben is playing an intense, aggressive game against Gomer, his friend ever since as schoolboys they pitched hay together on an Ohio farm during the thirties. Now Ben and Gomer are rivals for the affections of a US Navy nurse, head pilot of The Corps of Flying Navy Nurses, played by Kate Beckinsale, reprising her role in Pearl.
Kate is watching the contest from the ship's bridge and we can tell from the intense interplay of emotions that mobilize her perfect features that she favors both men and wants both to win but she knows that's impossible. It's obviously a terrible dilemma for her.
The intense game takes up almost the first hour of Dubyas and just when the suspense over the outcome of the bitterly fought contest becomes unbearable, we are transported to Berchtesgaden where Hitler (played by Caesar Romero) orders his Lufftwaffe Chief, Hermann Goering (played by Danny deVito), to bomb London. Michael J. Fox (who does the several voice-overs) tells us that the Nazis have just won the war against Poland and France and want to bomb Britain into submission before invading Washington.
Danny (Goering) picks up the phone and orders 1500 Heinkle bombers to destroy London. The scene shifts back to the carrier. Kate, the American Navy nurse, is still on the bridge, apparently the shuffleboard game now over, but we are left guessing who won (we learn who at the climactic end of the movie but I won't give it away and spoil it for you). Kate is watching a glorious sunset while smoking a Lucky Strike Green (Lucky Strike Red had 'gone to war', luckily, because it would have clashed terribly with her cherry lipstick), wondering which of the two pilots will accompany her to that evening's showing of the film, Gone With The Wind in the after hangar deck.
The clock ticks ominously and we see by the bridge chronometer that it is 20 minutes shy of eight bells, when she must make her decision. The spacious after hangar deck normally houses the carrier's Hellcats but fortunately for the free world, the fighters have been transferred to the flight deck to make space for the showing of the feature movie. As luck would have it the Hellcats are pointed in the right direction (towards the front end) and can take off at a moment's notice.
Navy Nurse Kate freshens up before taking off for Berlin where she shares
the podium with Gen. DeGaulle in the Grand Berlin Victory Salute March
Past in 1945, the climactic scene in new movie , DUBYAS TWO. Photo
— Disney studios
Thinking about her two suitors, still undecided whether she will let Ben or Gomer be her escort for the evening, and perhaps, afterwards, permit the lucky suitor peck her on the cheek. (This is a bit bewildering because Kate has already let us know in a brief but discreet flashback featuring gambolling sheep being mounted by horny rams that Gomer had already humped her within an inch of her life in a wild night of passion in the ship's parachute loft. But this is a Disney film and to win a PG-13 rating, this part has been cut from the film to be shown in America. Word has it that an explicit showing of the many-splendoured night of passion among parachutes being hung out to dry will be shown to French and German audiences, which are used to frank displays of sensuality. Incidentally, all the Germans shown in the film are clearly identified as Nazis and their uniforms liberally display the hated Swastika; this struck a chord with me as my grandfather on my mother's side was a German citizen during the war and he spent the entire time in a concentration camp along with millions of his compatriots who opposed the Nazi dictatorship and the destructive war being fought under the hated Swastika.)
Anyway, Kate grinds the Lucky on the guard-rail and flicks the dying fag onto the flight deck. She is about to head below when she throws a quick parting glance at the sky. The camera focuses on her beautiful eyes that widen in alarm as she sees the sky filling up with thousands of evil looking Heinkle dive bombers obviously on their way to bomb London. Realizing there is not a second to lose, Kate pushes aside the officer of the deck (who has dozed off while reading a well thumbed copy of Stars and Stripes) and reaches for the PA mike. In a voice pregnant with authority and just a tinge of commanding hysteria, she yells: "All hands on deck! Pilots man your planes! Nazi bombers at eight o'clock!" Actually the bombers are all over the clock, but Kate has little time for accuracy. She must get those planes airborne.
Achtung! Heilige Scheiss!
For ninety minutes we are treated to gut wrenching air combat as the Hellcat squadron, headed by Squadron Leader Ben and his wing man, Lieutenant Gomer, take on the entire Nazi German Bomber Command. At 150 peak decibels — less heard than felt in concussive waves from the twenty Dolby total-surround speakers — racketing 0.5 inch machine-gun fire, ge-thumping 20 mm cannon, screeching engines and the dying groans of Nazi aircrew is a triumph of special effects. In the screening room I was actually knocked out of my chair by one arresting slow motion sequence: A 20 mm shell leaves the cannon muzzle of Ben's Hellcat and makes its unerring way towards an enemy cockpit. As the plane with its evil Swastika insignia grow to fill the giant screen, the pilot desperately tries to shake it off, but it's no use. I couldn't help but duck as the lead-jacketted slug shatters the windscreen and continues towards the pilot. As he screams to his Nazi co-pilot, "Achtung! Heilige scheiss!," the shell enters his left eyeball and his head explodes like a stolen watermelon falling off the back of a black sharecropper's wagon. I confess I felt a bit queasy as a reddish mush of brain matter is shown dribbling down the instrument panel as the altimeter spins madly counter clockwise towards zero. (Actually, according to Roger, Hellcats had no 20-mm cannon but eight 0.5 inch machine guns but that's just a minor nit-pick in an otherwise splendid film.)
Following their destruction of the Lufftwaffe, the Hellcats return to the carrier deck where the pilots (only one American plane was lost during the fight and he parachuted safely into the sea where an American fishing boat, skippered by Danzell Washington, scoops him up from thirty-meter-high waves in a terrifying, heart-stopping sequence of American derring-do) are decorated with Purple Hearts by the Captain, played by Charles Heston. (I learned from a studio source that Heston would only agree to the cameo role if during the presentation he was allowed to make a five-minute pitch for the right of Americans to carry automatic weapons in the peace that would follow the war.)
While Heston made this speech, I wondered how it was that the Hellcats took off at sunset yet when they return to the carrier they land at mid-day in brilliant sunshine, with all hands at goofing stations frantically waving American flags. But I had no time to sort out that anachronism because after the ceremony Kate announces to Ben and Gomer that Gone With The Wind has already been shown and that, anyway, they're probably both too tired to sit through an four-hour movie after shooting down hundreds of German planes. The crestfallen pilots return to the briefing room where they are told by Heston, "... get a little rest, guys, because you will be asked to help plan for the 'big one' tomorrow."
On the morrow, communicating with the Pentagon using an early version of Radar Internet (invented by an American screwball scientist played by Brad Pitt), the American heroes convince Gen. Mark Clark and his sidekick, General George Patton (comically played for laughs by Cuba Goodings, Jnr. ) to invade Europe using American marines and doughboys already carried aboard the Charles A. Lindbergh.
The last (four-hour) half of the film is taken up with shots of the retaking of France and the invasion of Nazi Germany by the American marines and doughboys. Some of the scenes were obviously borrowed from Saving Private Ryan, which Bay also directed. The film ends with a triumphant parade through Berlin's Brandenburger Gate with Eisenhower (played by Alec Baldwin) and Patton taking the tumultuous cheers of Berliners now free of the Nazi yoke. It would take a stronger woman than me not to be affected by the overpowering emotionalism of the cheering Germans waving Old Glory and tossing flowers and kisses at Eisenhower with his arm around Ben (now the Supreme Commander's aide) and Patton with his arm around Gomer (the victory Jeep's driver) . Because she raised the alarm when the Nazi bombers were on their way to bomb London, Kate is chosen to take the salute as the Jeep passes. On the podium she shares the spotlight with General Charles DeGaulle (also played by Alec Baldwin, now wearing a big, fake nose). Kate throws several kisses, but to whom? Are they for Ben or Gomer, or perhaps Eisenhower or even Patton?
Cleverly, Dubyas Two doesn't let us know but I'll bet my cherry there'll be another movie coming along to sort it all out. Incidentally, a little bird told me that Ben and Gomer are negotiating with Disney for a sequel where they plan and execute a little caper that will deal with their winning the Cold War, no less!
Dubyas Two is a great movie — despite its minor flaws — and well worth the expected $50 admission. Roger gave it five, but I'll add another for Six Stars