Combustible Celluloid
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With: Derek Luke, Michael Ealy, Laz Alonso, Omar Benson Miller, Pierfrancesco Favino, Valentina Cervi, Matteo Sciabordi, John Turturro, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Leguizamo, Kerry Washington, D.B. Sweeney, Robert John Burke, Omari Hardwick, Omero Antonutti, Alexandra Maria Lara
Written by: James McBride, based on his own novel
Directed by: Spike Lee
MPAA Rating: R for strong war violence, language and some sexual content/nudity
Running Time: 160
Date: 09/07/2008

Miracle at St. Anna (2008)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Where the Buffalo Soldiers Roam

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Spike Lee adapts James McBride's 2003 WWII novel about four black soldiers stranded in Tuscany, surrounded by Germans and with an Italian traitor in their midst. Beginning in 1983 and flashing back to 1944, the film features some sure-footed genre storytelling, on par with Sam Fuller's exemplary The Steel Helmet (1951), as one of the soldiers (Omar Benson Miller) befriends a lost Italian boy. But Lee quickly inflates the film's scale, beefing up battle scenes and subplots and sprawling outward toward Spielbergian significance. The confused editing often loses track, and Terence Blanchard's score is blaringly, embarrassingly obvious. However, hidden within the two hours and 40 minutes is a very good, much smaller film, and it's worth seeking out. Derek Luke stars.

DVD Details: Touchstone's 2009 DVD release has virtually no extras, except for some trailers and some various alternate launguage tracks.

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