What An Opportunity

Posts Tagged ‘war’

Act of Valor

In Culture, Life on April 17, 2012 at 6:35 am



Before venturing to the theater and forking over ten or twelve dollars to see the newest release, moviegoers typically check movie review sites to hear about critics’ and viewers’ experiences. And why not? Hearing a variety of reviews almost always provides an accurate picture of the movie’s quality, so viewers can avoid wasting their time and money on a dud. I almost always check Rotten Tomatoes before I go see a movie – going in blind is just not worth the risk. I’ve had some really bad movie watching experiences doing that.

With that being said… critics’ opinion should not always be the final word. It seems to me that a good deal of the people who evaluate movies for a living eventually lose touch with what is actually good. (And don’t even get me started on the Academy.) In one particular case recently, I was extremely glad that I disregarded the critics’ acrimony; otherwise, (well… I hate to exaggerate… actually, never mind, I’m not exaggerating) I would have missed one of the greatest movie watching experiences I have had the pleasure of enjoying. Act of Valor was simply tremendous.

When my friends and I heard that a movie starring real Navy SEALs was being made, we immediately made mental reservations for opening weekend. We were disappointed when that weekend arrived, and with the movie came a 25% critical approval rating. We could only conclude that it was poorly written, horrifically produced, dreadfully directed, or some combination of the three. Nevertheless, we decided to press on, because of something between a desire to support the members of our military who acted in the film and a desire to just enjoy an action-packed “guy movie.”

With my expectations lowered, I was nothing short of astounded by Act of Valor. This movie has it all. I experienced an extensive range of potent emotions in those 101 minutes, an agreeable departure from a typical “guy movie.” But it’s no chick flick either – there’s an abundant amount of superbly executed action (not surprising, given the real Navy SEALs in starring roles). In addition, even beyond these traits, it was Act of Valor’s intangibles that took it right into the stratosphere of movie experiences. The burning reaction of patriotism, gripping depth of gratitude, and even several reflexive (and audible) “wow’s” that this movie engendered from me were simply breathtaking to experience. It is a real art to be able to powerfully move an audience to such deep emotion, and I commend those who accomplished this through their work on this film.

Given this analysis, it’s pretty clear that I find the 25% critics’ rating completely ridiculous. In scenes heavy on dialogue, it was pretty clear that the Navy SEAL actors weren’t professionals… but I thought that added a terrific dimension of sincerity and realness to their characters. In fact, the line between documentary and feature film gets slightly hazy, which was extremely cool as well. The plot flies forward, the action pulls you aggressively in, and you are wholly immersed in a unique movie experience from the moment the lights go down. I could talk all day, but I’m gonna stop here. Just go see the movie. I can’t wait to see it again.

By the way, Act of Valor’s audience agrees with my assessment. The viewers’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes was 80%.


In Life on April 12, 2012 at 4:24 am

The day had come.

He was shipping out.

It was a Tuesday like any other.

There was early talk radio.

There was construction.

There was traffic on the early morning express.

But the driver cutting off the car with his family in it didn’t know how much those extra seconds meant.

When they arrived at the naval base, he hugged each family member one by one.

First his dad. Then his little siblings. His longtime girlfriend. And then his mom.

Maybe it’s because there isn’t supposed to be emotion, but as slowly as they had arrived, he was gone that quickly.

In a blink of an eye, all of their hopes and dreams for him were in the hands of Fate

(not that they aren’t at all times… but we would like to think that we can somehow influence the occurrences of those we care the most about. And maybe we can).

As the family settled back in the car, there was silence.

Quiet prayers left the van as the gravity of this moment stayed upon them.

His father turned from the front seat,

“He wanted me to read this after he was gone…”

His dad unfurled a nicely folded piece of paper.

Tears fell as his dad began the first words.

His mother squeezed his father’s hand.

The note read:

To you little guys,

Thanks for helping me laugh.

As i leave this beach dock, remember the seagulls.

Like “Finding Nemo”, everything’s mine but you guys always make me laugh.

Thank you for being my seagulls.

To you, Mom and Dad:

It was you who said that this was going to be more than just a dream.

That this was more than I could see right now.

And that this would be something great.

You said that I would fit where He put me.

And grow where He planted me.

And you never stopped praying.

As I leave, thank you for being my rock.

To you baby:

You said that I was stubborn.

Unabashedly stubborn.

Ambitious. Driven.

And I would say the same for you.

But that would only prove that you’re right.

And I have too much pride for that.

But you always understood the words I never said.

And pushed me to see why the wedding ring is worn on the fourth finger.

So as long as there is a moon, thank you for being my sea.

I guess that life is a continuous search for where we fit.

Maybe not so much fitting in.

But where we are supposed to be.

Not that we won’t mess that up.

Or try to be something we aren’t. try to fit where we aren’t supposed to.

But that’s the beauty in the whole thing.

You get an entire lifetime to find where you fit.

To find the entities in life that best exhibit how amazingly original and irreplaceable you are.

So finally, please remember the sand.

For sand, under the most trying flame, becomes glass.

And for us, we have been through it all.

But in all of it, you have have been the mirror that showed my true reflection.

And helped me find where I fit.

And for that, I love you so much.

Thank you for being my sand.

The quiet never left.

They watched the ship leave.

And wondered what change the next 6 months would bring.

So much could be different. Would be different.

And so they waited. and prayed.

(In the most trying times, sometimes the best remedy is patience and prayer.)

In his house, there are odd anecdotes that accent each room.

Each child has a “Finding Nemo” lunch box.

His parents have a rock carved with the family name sitting on the dresser in their bedroom.

His girlfriend has a coke bottle full of seawater on her table.

And on the front porch, under the American flag,

there is a another glass coke bottle full of sand.

Momentarily gone.

Never forgotten.


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