Bloggers review “United 93″

posted at 7:42 pm on April 30, 2006 by Allahpundit

I won’t see it. Saw this yesterday on Google Video and realized it was enough. The first reviews are being posted around the blogosphere this morning, though, and I’m going to try to round them up. If you’ve posted a review and want it mentioned here, trackback to this post or e-mail me at allah -at- hotair.com. And if you missed our Vent about U93 on Thursday, now’s your chance.

The most comprehensive blog review thus far is Rick Moran‘s:

In the end, Greengrass lets the story do all his talking. A wise choice since … it would have been a relatively simple matter to have made a histrionic, flag waving spectacular instead of the intensely personal drama U-93 turned out to be. For some, that intensity will open old emotional wounds from 9/11 making it very difficult for them to see this film. I would urge them to make the effort anyway. For United 93 will not heal the hurt but rather recall in a vividly personal, emotionally charged manner who and what caused our souls to be scorched that terrible day.

Ace hasn’t seen it yet but many of his commenters have, including Patterico contributor See-Dubya, who describes himself as “utterly numb.” Ms. Underestimated reports feeling the same, and says it was a common reaction inside the theater. Sissy Willis notes the scene that intercuts shots of the passengers praying with similar shots of the hijackers praying and comments that it “caught her up short.” Annika’s not worried about the niceties of particular scenes, though; she wants blood (content warning). As does Right Wing Nation, who says he found himself reaching for his gun at certain points during the movie. He also uses the film as a jumping-off point to describe his trip to Shanksville; lots of photos at the link.

Update: A largely negative review from Jason Apuzzo at Libertas, the conservative film blog. He praises U93 as being expertly made, but finds its refusal to judge what happened on Flight 93 — its “realism” — maddening.

[W]hile we were endlessly assured by media professionals that everything had changed after 9/11, really nothing had changed. And so here, basically, is the problem with United 93, a film which is in other respects a very commendable effort … it’s already old. It’s a film about a period of time that no longer really exists – a period before Michael Moore, before the Patriot Act, before orange alerts, before Valerie Plame, before the French stabbed us in the back, before you could download the latest Bagdad beheading onto your iPod. Before the massive meta-debate that has emerged over the significance of 9/11 – namely, what do we do about it?… The victory conservatives seem to be celebrating with this film – that Hollywood (actually it’s a group of British filmmakers) has finally made a sober film about 9/11 – strikes me as being a somewhat hollow one.

Update: Three reviews are already up at Blogcritics. The best of them is by James Frazier, who notes a scene in which a European passenger tips the hijackers to the passengers’ impending revolt. Fact or fiction? Update: Debbie Schlussel e-mails to say that Frazier has it wrong:

While there is ABSOLUTELY NO such scene of [the passenger] tipping off hijackers, he repeatedly counsels against fighting the terrorists for the entire flight, claiming “they will not harm us if we do what they say, and we’ll be safely returned to the airport.”

Debbie wrote one of the first blog reviews of U93, calling it “Movie of the Year” in a post published on Tuesday, and followed up yesterday with a response to those who accused her of deliberately omitting Mark Bingham from her first review because of his homosexuality.

Update: Mary K caught a sneak preview a week ago and says she gained new respect for the professionalism of the air traffic controllers who had to respond that day. She also describes the killing of the first hijacker as “quite possibly the most satisfying, cinematic moment I’ve ever experienced.” Josue Sierra wants a new 9/11 film made every year, and takes time to respond to a Kos commenter who questions the timing of the film’s release.

Update: Bloggers are reviewing the reviewers, too. Moran is back for a second bite at the apple, the “apple” in this case being Slate critic Dana Stevens. Cranky Insomniac de(con)structs Paul Farhi’s front-page treatment of the film at WaPo. Psychologist Robert Godwin responds to some of the choicer comments at the Huffington Post as part of his longer essay on the psychology of envy. Meanwhile, Varifrank talks about his own “survivor’s guilt” and challenges conservatives who complain about Hollywood’s silence on the war to put up or shut up at the box office.

Update: Vanderleun’s also reviewing the reviewers, and pans NYT critic Manohla Dargis. The Ugly American echoes Mary Katherine Ham’s reaction to the scenes inside the control room, while Right Truth asks himself the inevitable question, “What would I have done?” Brainster, who offers another rave, includes this interesting tidbit:

Oddly, they don’t specifically indentify anybody other than the hijackers, although there are clues throughout for those in the know–Jeremy Glick is the one who wants to talk to Liz, Todd Beamer is the one who asks the operator to call his family. Mark Bingham is the guy with the rugby shirt who’s the last to board the plane.

Update: Dave from Garfield Ridge: “I won’t lie to you– United 93 is the toughest film I’ve ever sat through, tougher than anything. But it was worth it.” Deep Keel says it’s too late for “never forget”; we’ve already forgotten. Like Varifrank, Fake Turkey has his eye on the box office. And here’s an interesting post at TheRealUglyAmerican.com responding to MyDD’s complaint about U93 initially being marketed only on conservative blogs.

Update: Twenty-four hours since the last update. Today’s reviews are more reflective, using the film as a starting point for grander themes. Start with this moving treatment by my pal Vanderleun, who plays Cassandra in concluding, “On one of our days to come, there will be another test. You’d best have an answer prepared.” Pieter Dorsman of Peaktalk watches himself watching the film and catches himself misremembering details as a way of making sense of the day’s events. Barb at Righty in a Lefty State reports some memory side effects as well.

See-Dubya is guest-blogging at Junkyard Blog for whoever the slacker is who runs that joint. See-Dub notes yet another memory effect: so intense is the film that he honestly can’t remember details well enough to resolve the dispute between Debbie Schlussel and James Frazier about the foreign passenger. Laura Lee Donoho says she does remember, and that the passenger does indeed try to warn the hijackers. Laura calls it dhimmitude in microcosm.

Publius Rendezvous and TechnoChitlins note a common reaction: absolute silence in the theater at the film’s end. WC at the Gathering Storm says there was no silence in his theater. There was something else.

Finally, Craig Henry at Lead and Gold imagines what the reviews for U93 would look like if applied to films about other American traumas — and re-writes them accordingly.

Update: Captain Ed is back from the theater, and pronounces the filmmakers’ decision to intercut scenes in the control room inspired:

I think that the wider focus on the frustration, anger, and anxiety in the control centers helps the movie in two distinct ways. First, it allows the audience to remember the context of United 93 in the course of 9/11, making the timing easier to understand. More importantly, when the passengers finally rally and start to plan the attack, the amount of time left in which to do something comes as a shock to everyone. Rasche, who plays civilian pilot and passenger Donald Greene, tells the group that the plane is flying too low to allow the hijackers much more time, and that the counterattack had to separate them from the controls immediately. Any attempt to dive would not allow enough time to pull up.

That time frame could not be overcome, although the movie shows the passengers reaching the cockpit and engaging the terrorists on the flight deck. The last images of United 93 come from the cockpit window, where the Pennsylvania countryside spins ever close to the plane, until the screen suddenly goes black.

Other blog duties are calling, so here’s the Technorati link for those who want to stay on the trail.


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