Three Great Older Movie Reviews for Men

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Great Quotes About How Movies Affect Us

“I have a theory that movies operate on the level of dreams, where you dream yourself.”

Oscar Winning Actress, Meryl Streep

"A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet."

Director, Producer, and American Film Icon, Orson Welles

"I think cinema, movies, and magic have always been closely associated. The very earliest people who made film were magicians."

Academy Award Winning Director, Francis Ford Coppola


When a film comes along that makes someone want to be a better person, it's worth talking about. It's not often this happens, but when it does, the movie is forever stored away in the hearts of those so moved. They're the stories that change people, often because the story relates to them on a personal level. And when phenomenal acting is partnered with an engrossing and inspirational story, perhaps backed by a powerful soundtrack, the resulting film becomes more than entertainment. Entertainment is casual, for enjoyment. Life-changing stories are much, much more.

The three movies described here are part of American culture. They strive to display what can happen when people push themselves beyond the norm - their actions and fortitude are the stories.

They are films that made those who saw them think. It's easy to get caught up in our own personal trials in life, and sometimes it's helpful to be reminded how much worse it can get. For the characters in these stories do have low points, but it's their willingness to rise above and overcome that affect those watching the most.

On a personal level, I found all three of these movies to be inspiring beyond belief. To me, they are masterpieces. The time spent watching these movies, and I've seen all several times, was a great investment of time. And each film is etched in my memory, the cinematic experience so powerful that they can never be forgotten.

The Tragedy of War as Depicted in Saving Private Ryan

There have been dozens of great war films made over the years, and they've often delivered for the studios that made them. When it was revealed that Steven Spielberg was directing the definitive picture depicting the horrors that took place in France and Germany during World War II, the public waited with anticipation for its release. Often great films come out of nowhere to stun audiences, but this one had Spielberg directing, and the great actor, Tom Hanks, starring in it. Expectations by the public were high, and when it was released in 1998 as Saving Private Ryan (distributed in the US by Dreamworks), the accolades rolled in.

The entire story is really built around two characters, Tom Hanks' Captain John Miller, and Matt Damon's Private James Ryan. Hanks is charged with finding Ryan on the battlefields of France, and Ryan is completely unaware that his three brothers have all been killed in action.

The film, on the whole, is enough to dissuade anyone from believing war is a rational undertaking. But it's the scenes on the beaches of Normandy that had most people turning away in despair at the sheer numbers of men being gunned down, portrayed so realistically, before even setting foot on French soil. The image of the giant German forts with machine guns cutting down young men trying to make the beach was enough to turn stomachs and leave people weeping.

Saving Private Ryan is an unforgettable movie about the evils of war. It doesn't depict the Germans in a flattering light, by any means. But it helped all who watched to understand that soldiers follow orders and often die doing so.

The vivid violence and senselessness of the killing in this film are enough to make anyone ask, Why am I watching this? There were many who could not, at least not all of it. But those that watched realized how different war had been depicted before this movie came along. Spielberg refused to spare the viewer from the reality that war is a hellish and tragic device of mankind.

The movie affected so many that it changed the way many people in many countries thought about war. Because Saving Private Ryan did something no other movie had ever done before, it put human faces on the tragically high numbers of casualties. And when war was discussed after, more people shook their heads and said, What a tragic waste of life, what can we do to avoid it?

Gonna Fly Now from Rocky

The Redemption and Rise of Rocky

The 1976 film, Rocky, has a story behind the story. Sylvester Stallone, who wrote the script, refused to let any studio buy it unless he could play the title role. In days when few stood up to Hollywood executives, Stallone stood firm in his resolve to make the picture the way he wanted to public to see it.

It's a gritty story that starts at the bottom, with Rocky Balboa working the docks as a small-time gangster's debt collector/leg-breaker. He's also a part-time club fighter, and his best boxing days are apparently behind him. The head trainer at a dank and dark gym, Mickey Goldmill (depicted expertly by the late Burgess Meredith), had given up on Rocky as a fighter long ago, and there's a scene where he even gives his locker away to another fighter.

This film is all about hope. It makes people better for watching it because the setting and characters are believable. Though it might be a stretch to believe a boxing champion would give an unknown a shot at the title, it's what Rocky does after he's called into Apollo Creed's agent's office and offered the deal.

Rocky explores the defects in its characters expertly. Paulie has a drinking problem, Rocky's mobster boss is too nice, and the girl Balboa desires is plain and shy. It's these flaws, and the flaws in Rocky himself, that caused people to identify with it. It's easy to cheer for greatness, but this movie had people cheering for the down and out, for the loser. And in the end, the losers win, Rocky puts on an amazing show in the ring, and the viewer is left with the hope that, with a lot of perseverance, things can turn out all right.

Matt Damon and Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting

Working Through Problems with Good Will Hunting

The scene in Good Will Hunting where psychologist Sean Maguire (Robin Williams) talks to Will Hunting (Matt Damon) about real life, while they sit on a park bench, is utterly riveting. It's the turning point in the movie, the time when Will finally starts to let his guard down during his sessions with Maguire.

This story is based around two very different people who came from the same neighborhood in Boston. Sean is a realist who has experienced plenty of heartbreak in his life, including the death of his wife from cancer. Perhaps having experienced an even tougher road is Will, an orphan. Where Sean confronts problems with reason and dialogue, Will wants his past to stay forever hidden.

This is a film about holding one's own self back, and how two people deal with their past. Though Will's reason here is neglect and abuse as a child, the story is one of working through real-life issues. If there weren't people who cared what happened to Will, he might have been left to solving math problems on a chalkboard as a night janitor at MIT. It is the math professor who wants to fix Will, and the subsequent meetings with Sean, that show what can happen to anyone if they're willing to share and open up with others.

The two leading men, Matt Damon and Robin Williams, portray their characters with such expertise that these two people are forever etched in cinematic time, their battles with the difficulties of life there for everyone to see and learn from.

All three of these movies aren't easy to watch and stay removed. They are engrossing stories meant to show viewers the bad and good that is reality. There's no glossing over the bad parts with these films.

For those wishing to improve themselves, watching these movies is beneficial. The messages behind the tales aren't subtle. Captain Miller loves his wife and home so much he'd admittedly do just about anything to make that dream come true. Rocky Balboa never gave up on himself, though it might have seemed that way. No, when opportunity presented itself, he responded with a knock-out punch. And Will Hunting found intimacy where, in the early stages of the movie, this was unthinkable.

The reason these movies make those of us who watched them better people is because people need inspiration. Not everything goes right in life all the time. These movies show that resilient people overcome. It is the hardships they've endured that made them who they are in the movies - hardships they used to their own advantage to better themselves, and us.

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Comments 21 comments

Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

I agree! I agree and I agree with your three movie choices. I actually caught the message in these awesome movies. Rocky is one of my favorite flicks of all time.

I would also add Crash to my list of movies to learn from. That movie was underrated and yet again the critics were WRONG. I saw the movie at least 15 times and I continue to get messages on how to be a better person.

Fantastic hub Jason!!!


kelleyward 4 years ago

I agree! My husband has many examples of how he has learned more about life through movies, like the ones you mentioned. At first I thought he was crazy to think that movies could really help me learn to problem solve etc. But I've come to understand how much I can learn about how others handle difficult situations. Even if it is an actor in a movie. Voted up and Shared! Great hub! Take care, Kelley


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

Hi, Yes I totally agree, I think Movies can make you laugh or cry purely because there is something in them that makes you sit back and say, now I understand. I do agree with Sunshine about the film Crash, that was an amazing film too, cheers nell


Jason Marovich profile image

Jason Marovich 4 years ago from United States Author

@Sunshine625 - Rocky's got the same appeal for me, I love his story, and it's not easy to remember that he sprang from Stallone's pen. Mr. Sylvester Stallone's creation is forever remembered as a part of American history.

@kelleyward - It's not good to associate our lives with fictional lives portrayed, so I can understand your concern there. But, so long as we remember what we're seeing is "entertainment", I think we'll be OK. I know that some of the moments in these films are more than entertainment, and their messages are real, but still, they are movies. To sit back and observe, with the reality that what we are seeing is portrayal and not reality, puts us in a safe place where we can discern for ourselves what message is being amplified by the scenes in the film. And you know, and I know, after watching Saving Private Ryan, that no words needed be said, the scenes were enough.


Jason Marovich profile image

Jason Marovich 4 years ago from United States Author

@Nell Rose - thanks for reading and commenting. I do agree with you and Sunshine625 both, Crash is a life-changing film. Last I remember, they still held a day in honor of Crash in Los Angeles, every year.


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 4 years ago from San Francisco

interesting concept. i like your choices. i was my own movie. i have my favorites and perhaps bits and pieces influenced me. Thank you for this


josh3418 profile image

josh3418 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

Excellent choices, these movie are incredible and definitely inspiring! Voted up and awesome!


deleadedapo 4 years ago

What happened? 'Shawshank Redemption' was missing, 'Pursuit of Happiness' too. 'Taxi Driver'?


Jason Marovich profile image

Jason Marovich 4 years ago from United States Author

@deleadapo - I went to my stats page and it said over 1400 words in this article. If I even delved into Shawshank or Pursuit, we'd be here a long, long time. Two of my very favorites. I love the grittiness of Taxi Driver, too, but it's so garish that even my steel nerve winced. The political assassination aspect of the movie made me feel it, and that's what movies are all about, eh. Thanks for reading and commenting.


Jason Marovich profile image

Jason Marovich 4 years ago from United States Author

@Mhatteroo - your insight is spectacular. That's all I was trying to 'say' here, is that certain movies influence each of us differently. Obviously, a daughter of a WWII combat vet is going to feel differently about 'Saving Private Ryan' than I will. Still, making the movie involved me, and I felt that daughter's pain and outrage.


Jason Marovich profile image

Jason Marovich 4 years ago from United States Author

@josh3418 - thanks, of the three, good will hunting probably applies more to the majority. Oh my, if only people listened to what was being said in that movie, how they might avoid isolation and heartache. Thanks for stopping by.


josh3418 profile image

josh3418 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

You are welcome anytime! :) Yes I agree!


DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 4 years ago from Iowa

I love how you explore the deeper meanings of these three great movies. I have to say, though, that I was one of those who had a really tough time with Saving Private Ryan because of all the violence. But the graphic violence did help hammer home the message. Great hub.


ChristyWrites profile image

ChristyWrites 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Good Will Hunting is one of my favourite movies. Isn't it amazing how just watching a movie can change your day, your week, and even yourself!


Janine Huldie profile image

Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

Totally agree that movies are very influential in people's daily lives. I might have chosen different movies, but still do like your choices. Voting this up and sharing, thanks!!!


Jason Marovich profile image

Jason Marovich 4 years ago from United States Author

@DeborahNeyens - Don't feel that you are alone, even some tough old guys hid their face in their hands at the carnage on Normandy depicted in Saving Private Ryan. Thanks for stopping by.

@ChristyWrites - I agree, Good Will Hunting was a life changing movie for many people who'd hesitated to address issues in their past. Thanks for reading and commenting.

@Janine Huldie - There are a bunch of movies that would fit nicely onto this hub, and maybe I'll add more in the future, but these three were the kind that came to mind when thinking of the phrase, 'become a better person by watching these movies'. Rocky, for instance, influenced an entire generation of movie goers. The music, the stars, and the story all came together to change people for the better. To make something more of their lives, that there's something better out there if you're willing to take on challenges that others might deem unrealistic. Thanks for stopping by and reading.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia

Hey Jason you have picked an outstanding trilogy of movies.....I have seen each of these movies many times over and they do indeed provided some very important life lessons in them. The fact that each of these movies is still mentioned today just shows you how much these movies have meant to so many different people.....job well done...voted up and across the board.


Jason Marovich profile image

Jason Marovich 4 years ago from United States Author

Thanks for reading and commenting, Cogerson. My favorite one to watch, since all three are quite regularly shown on cable, is Rocky. The other two are a little harder to sit through, due to the nature of the films. Rocky is a joy to sit through, probably because the film is so gritty, realistic, and inspirational.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago

Your article is brilliant about these three fine films. I enjoyed it very much. Thank you!


Jason Marovich profile image

Jason Marovich 4 years ago from United States Author

I appreciate your comment, James A Watkins. Thanks for stopping by and reading!


Beth37 2 years ago

You're right, all great, inspiring movies. I found myself wishing that Good Will Hunting was based on a real life character, though I suppose any good story about humanity is a true life story to some extent. Good hub. :)

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