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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Fortress Movie Review




It has been a long while since I have witnessed a decent World War II film. Fortress follows a story based on true events of a squadron of B-17 bombers making strafing runs in Italy from Northern Africa.

Fortress opens with a fantastic air assault including several formations of planes making the bombing run, while axis forces, make machine gun passes across the formation in small planes. The focal plane is called the Lucky Lass and is hit with small arms fire, loses an engine and a couple of guys die inside, but the plane is landed safely.

For a low budget film I thought the aerial combat and filming were fantastic. I liked the sets, and it is obvious that some time was taken on the outfits, and items used during this time period. The attempt at the softer moments seemed a bit forced, but this was about the action. The story development, and humor was a decent try to establish the characters, but leaves one yearning for the flight sequences. The middle of the film drags a bit. There is some tension between the mechanics and airmen which is the highlight of the downtime between flying.

The final 15 minutes is a full on assault on the senses, a tense melodramatic ballet of bullets and bombs in mid-air. The action is tight and tense, and includes spinning and diving action. The inter-splicing of wide shots and close-ups added to the action by placing the viewer into all angles and stages of the combat.

The acting was consistent, no one person stealing the film, but no one detracting from it. Director Mike Phillips and writer Adam Klein obviously took their time to create this and I hope to see more of their work in the near future.

This film works on many levels, and shows how a lower budget production can be as good quality as a big budget theatrically released film. I rate this film a definite rent and a buy if you like war films. Fortress rates a 6.5 out of 10.

28 comments:

  1. I love almost any war picture, this one sounds good. I hope to get a chance to see it. Was that the 2nd. Bomb Group, 96th Bomb Squadron over Foggia, Italy.

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  2. It's a great film. It's hard work trying to make a movie on that scale on a small budget. You really feel for the characters by the end. I really hope they make another .

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  3. Just watched it. Good movie. Not the ending I expected which makes it a better movie for not being predictable. The barbed comment in the credits to the "historical accuracy buffs" is hilarious and shows the director, producers and crew really did work hard to make an accurate representation. For WW2 & aircraft movie fans this is worth watching

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  4. Fantastic film! The end credits is stuff of legends and as for no B-17's were harmed in the making of this film!!!! CLASSIC

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  5. I only got to watch the last 30 min of so...
    OK movie if it is made for TV. Everything looked CG like those documentary movies on History channel.
    Memphis Belle is far superior.

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  6. It is a great film, but falls short on some of the interior details such as the top turret assembly is missing from the interior of the aircraft while it is clearly shown on the exterior shots. This is really noticeable in the cockpit shots when you can see through to the tail. Anyone who has been in a B-17 is going to catch that as well as most aircraft fans and modelers.

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  7. Where can I buy this movie for my step dad? Please respond to cinder1952@gmail.com. Does anyone know about another B-17 movie called Fortress due out in 2012?

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  8. Does anyone know where I can buy this movie

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    1. Did you ever find out where to buy "Fortress"? I cannot find it on Amazon.

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    2. I believe I saw a copy at a Mr. K's store on Laurens Rd, Greenville, S.C. Either there or 2cd and Charles on the same road. I believe there was only one copy. Good Luck.

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  9. I am looking to buy it also, as somehow I missed it in the theatre here in L.A.

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    1. I have a copy I bought in Korea

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  10. I have seen a lot of garbage war films but this takes the first prise , they loop a B17 and pull out of a near vertical dive at 1000 ft is mind boggling it would have torn the wings off . A try at a "Memphis Belle" type of film but no comparison go back to the drawing board . Is it supposed to be a comedy ? .

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  11. I thought this movie was quite good on a limited budget. It was compelling and it kept my interest. I liked the ending, it wasn't predictable.

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  12. Lack of accuracy in the detail spoils this film for any air war affecianado. When a B17 starts it's bomb run the pilot switches control of the aircraft to the Bombardier. In this movie the Bombardier asks the pilot to hold the aircraft steady whilst he prepares to drop his bombs. As someone has already mentioned when viewing the cockpit you should be able to see the upper turret behind the pilots. I noticed these inaccuracies in the opening few minutes. This does not bode well for the rest of the movie.

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  13. This movie was so pathetic on so many levels...mediocre acting(at best),video game level graphics,terrible soundtrack, disjointed story line. I could go on and on...bottom line it seems like a cheesey knock-off of Memphis Belle(which is a fantastic movie)....Don't waste your money!

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  14. As a World War 2 aviation enthusiast, I found this move to be much more than just satisfactory. It was a breath of fresh air. Sure, the planes , both USAAF and those of the Luftwaffe, we're CGI. But, I would rather see fairly realistic CGI renditions of B-17s and ME's, than one real bomber digitally duplicated 40 times, and some hack imitation of Willys fantastic ME with inaccurate Luftwaffe markings slapped on them! For the obvious budget constraints of this move, I think it is outstanding! Much better than the sappy Memphis Bell with the fake Hollywood ending.

    I say Brava to the producers , director, and actors, for putting up a mostly accurate movie of he air war in Europe. For those who want 100% accuracy, get yourself a Orwellian time machine and head back to 1943. Enjoy!!!!

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  15. This is a truly woeful film. Avoid.

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  16. If you were a true ww2 aviation enthusiast you'd know its a bf 109. Not me 109...yes I'm being technical.

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    1. Bayerische Flugzeugwerke......

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  17. Technically not accurate - when engine No 2 is shutdown the engineer (Burt) reports engine No 3 shutdown and No 2 redlining. Also the view from the Nav's window clearly shows No 2 operating.

    No air combat squadron ever swears its head off a mechanics and ground engineers - they work together to accomplish the task. I found far too much 21st century dialogue that never existed in 1943.

    If one can suspend belief for 90 mins the movie is okay to watch I suppose, but seeing it once was enough for me. I'd rather see an old black and white classic like 12 O'Clock High or the more modern day Memphis Belle for a B17 flick.

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  18. First off I will say that I am not an expert of WWII air combat. However, my father flew a total of 50 missions over north Africa and Germany in the Army Air Corps with the 8th Air Force, the 15th and 22nd Air Forces during the last two years of that war. Further he flew in B-29's in Korea from initial placement in 1950 and left in 1952. During both wars his plane was downed, in WWII in the English channel due to fuel loss from bullet hits and in Korea from flack damage and injured and then captured just south of the 38th parallel spending 3 month in a concentration camp. The point of this is that I grew up often hearing many stories from him and his friends of the fear, comedy, tragedy and daily life of his crews, both while in the air and on the ground. And through this exposure I became a fan and learned as much about the B-17G that he flew in as I could, so I will acknowledge all that has been said about the "Inaccuracy's" of this movie, albeit not that dramatic unless you are only going to see and count the rivets and focus on the dialog or technical aspects of the planes and or the equipment. The scenes of planes shot down, breaking up in mid air, of seeing friends not able to leave their plane and watching it hit the ground, were images recounted to me by my father as daily visions on bombing runs. From what he told me, you got it right. What this movie conveys, in my opinion and I will say that my father would agree on this, is that the movie conveys, however brief, the boredom, the fear, the trauma, the visuals in air combat, the daily happenstance of life one faced on the ground and in their planes, the drunkenness and the hooch making too. This is something that while other movies with big budgets may have technical accuracy and perhaps more famous actors and wonderful research, they often don't quite get the human side of the equation. In this detail I feel they got it right, and for the feeling of the movie, this is why it ought to be seen. So, in this movie, I believe that my father would surely forgive any of these "Inaccuracy's" for the real depiction of his fears, feelings and actions to get through another day by any means as depicted here as a thank you to him and his comrades of the time. Also, I have heard on more than one occasion of tensions between ground crews and plane crews mixing it up over some safety issue or delay in getting their planes in the air. And while the swearing might not have been the same words, there were enough equivalents of the time in use and commonly heard as I have been told. Notably, 25 mission were the standard rotation for air crews, yet they did not get credit for wave-offs or aborted mission regardless of the cause in most matters. As my father would say it, in each day waiting on the ground for a mission, or while flying, your life came and went in that day, that mission, with dread of the one next to come. Thank you makers of this movie for bringing that small point out in your film. (Written in honorarium for 2nd Lt. Ellery J. Reynolds, 22nd Bomb Wing, 15 Air Force, Former POW, D.A.V., Ret. with Honors, R.I.P. Jefferson Memorial Barracks Military Cemetery)

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    1. Well stated, Mr Reynolds. For the vast majority of the American population, war is a spectator sport, played only as "away games". There is no concept of the human element, be it the experiences of those bearing arms, or the civilian populace upon whose lives and homes devastation is delivered. People who do not have to face war's stark reality of mortality day in and day out will be more concerned with the "accuracy of the placement of rivets", simply because that's something for which they can claim expertise and thus be "knowledgeable" about war.

      I salute you and your father!

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  19. Given the limitations inherent with the production of this film, it would be better to suspend the skeptism and unintelligent analysis by some of the more unrealistically critical commentators on this site. For those with negative reviews that are no more of a few contrite words, go get a proper attitude and try to develop some sense of mental abilities beyond that of a village idiot. Better yet, how about the aforementioned naysayers of this film (and you know who you are)do some actual research and make an effort write a decent critique of the film okay? This is for the "talented" (sarcasm for the less intelligent) hics and hacks in this comment section saying "avoid this movie" or "is this a comedy?". If you cant do a decent job in writing your review, if you cant be bothered with actually watching the film in its entirety and looking beyond your shallow pathetic selves, then get off the net and go pound sand.

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    1. I agree with "anonymous"..
      Although planes were CGI, it would be impossible to portray a large bomber force in the air all at once with the world's supply of flyable B-17's. The CGI representation of that many planes was well done and impressive. Like the credits said, they knew their shortcomings and challenges, but I think it was a damned good movie and I'd buy it! Good representation(as all movies are a representation), of life and death back then. Bravo!

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  20. This movie was SO MUCH BETTER than the movie "Red Tails." "Red Tails" sucked. "Fortress" probably had a nowhere near existant budget as "Red Tails" did, but managed to pull off a pretty authentic portrayl of WWII bomber action. I really liked it.

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  21. Terrible try at a ww2 but I've give credit to the low budget aspect!

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  22. Great movie, but I think Twelve O'clock High is far superior depicting the challenges of the air war and leadership.

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