The War Tapes Image
Metascore
77

Generally favorable reviews - based on 24 Critics What's this?

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7.7

Generally favorable reviews- based on 6 Ratings

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  • Summary: In March 2004, just as the insurgent movement strengthened, several members of one National Guard unit arrived in Iraq, carrying digital video cameras. The War Tapes is the movie they made with Director Deborah Scranton and a team of award-winning filmmakers. It's the first war movie filmedIn March 2004, just as the insurgent movement strengthened, several members of one National Guard unit arrived in Iraq, carrying digital video cameras. The War Tapes is the movie they made with Director Deborah Scranton and a team of award-winning filmmakers. It's the first war movie filmed by soldiers themselves on the front lines in Iraq. (SenArt Films) Expand
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 24
  2. Negative: 0 out of 24
  1. There's a lot to process when watching The War Tapes, and that's probably why the documentary gets even better a few days later.
  2. 100
    It's an experience that blows your mind, clears it and educates it.
  3. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    88
    We get to know three of these courageous, funny, smart and perhaps permanently damaged men in a film that largely avoids telling us what to think and makes an effort to get near the truth of the soldiers' experience.
  4. Reviewed by: Mark Olsen
    80
    The film acutely captures the topsy-turvy uncertainty of life during wartime, where there's Burger King and land mines and Pizza Hut and snipers.
  5. The latest in a series of big-screen documentaries dealing with the conflict, and it does so in a particularly involving, fly-on-the-wall manner.
  6. Whatever your opinion of the war - and however it has changed over the years - this movie is sure to challenge your thinking and disturb your composure. It provides no reassurance, no euphemism, no closure. Given the subject and the circumstances, how could it?
  7. On a strictly experiential level, Deborah Scranton's The War Tapes is remarkable, tactile, and affecting; as a piece of sociopolitical culture with context and ramifications of its own, it's a worthless ration of war propaganda--ethnocentric, redneck, and enabling.

See all 24 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Jwv
    Jan 9, 2014
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. I very much like the idea of this kind of soldier-journalism. What I found particularly useful is the short introduction of every soldier filming. There's the immensely patriotic Mike Moriarty, the intelligent Zack Bazzi and then there's Steve Pink. It's interesting to see how the ideology and personality of each of these soldiers colours their journalism. I liked the parts of Zack best, he's not as ignorant and influenced as other soldiers and understands the problems the army has. He's a sharp analyst. What the army needs, as Zack rightly sees, is a cultural training before being shipped off to an unknown country.

    When you have met the sensible and intelligent Zack, its hard to feel any sympathy for the average ignorant, patriotic American soldier, like when Moriarty and one of his friends criticizes Zack for socializing with the local people. Even though he puts his life on the line for his American home country, they still treat him as an outsider, which show their extreme ignorance and intolerance. "Today we kill Bazzi, and everyone that looks like Bazzi. That makes for a lot of targets today."

    Steven Pink also brightens up this documentary by his writing. He too, sees the ignorance and barbarism of his fellow soldiers. "The debate we had earlier in the day over the consistency and texture of a severed limb was not some far-off grotesque assumption. It was a genuine argument between the guy who swears it resembles hamburger, ground up but uncooked, and the guy who believes it looks more like a raw pot roast." The film features some emotionally strong and violent scenes that you would be able to see anywhere else on the mainstream media. Not for the faint of heart.

    Ultimately, even the ever so patriotic Moriarty begins to question the true motives for the war. Moriarty: "I feel like the priority of KBR (Burger King) making money outweighs the priority of safety." When the soldiers' deployment in Iraq ends, the film also looks at how the soldiers cope back home with the traumatic experience they went through. Hell and Back Again is a complementary must-see if you're interested in this.

    The strength of this documentary lies in the directness of the account of these soldiers. A great deal of the film's intellectual thought provoking strength comes from the account of Zack Bazzi. For me, he is really the one that elevated the documentary to its intellectual level, and provided the documentary makers with what they were really looking after.

    "I love being a soldier, the only bad thing about the army is that you can't pick your war." Zack Bazzi
    Expand
  2. VLadimirG.
    May 29, 2006
    8
    In a world where documentaries oftentimes seek to indoctrinate rather than inform it's refreshing to see a movie where the makers In a world where documentaries oftentimes seek to indoctrinate rather than inform it's refreshing to see a movie where the makers suppressed their own biases as much as possible. The result is a nuanced and complex portrait of the war, not the standard one fed the public by each of the parties and from the general news media. Well-worth a watch. Expand

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