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The Armchair Movie Critic

World Trade Center

- Reviewed by Chris G

What year did 9/11 take place? In a Washington Post poll conducted last week, 30% of the people couldn't answer the question. Breaking it down, of that 30%, 6% said an earlier year, 8% gave a later year, and 16% are still smiling cheezily.. "Umm, hold up. I know it.. let me see, 9/11.. uhh. Give me a hint."

9/11 marked a turning point for this site. It was on that day that the more personal styled writing began to formulate.

Originally when I said News Blurbs, it was really a blurb, one paragraph and done. The observations personal and analytical were left for The Offramp - hence the name. But that morning what took place, and the little that I personally witnessed and experienced, had to be front and center. I can't act like it only affected this site, because the blog world on a whole, really took off following the attacks. It was an outlet for people to vent and connect.

World Trade Center brought a lot of those feelings back.

After the movie there was one guy standing outside the theatre with a spray painted sign that said "Don't Let Hollywood Profit from 9/11!" My guess is he didn't see the movie, outraged just from the thought of it, because if he had, he would know this was no exploitation of a tragic event. Police and Fire officials personally involved with the rescue efforts helped with the script, if anyone should be upset it would have been them.

Save the art project. If his heart was that invested in 9/11 he'd be in the theatre with tears streaming down his face. I wasn't crying, but it was that touching.

What They Say

"Only one thing would have made "World Trade Center" better - having Ann Coulter next to me being forced to watch the new Oliver Stone Sept. 11 dirge in its entirety with her eyelids taped back and her hands shackled to the seat - a la Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange."

You might remember how the conservative author and fashionably long-legged hate monger accused Sept. 11 widows of enjoying their husbands' deaths in her new book, "Godless: The Church of Liberalism."

Try saying that again after watching "World Trade Center," Ms. Coulter. I dare you."
- Mike Ward, Richmond.com

"Unlike "United 93," whose emotional impact was contained by its unruffled efforts to plausibly reconstruct speculative events, Stone's film seeks to stoke the embers of the audience's collective grief while re-awakening the spirit of boundary-breaching, can-do solidarity that trailed the 9/11 attacks."
- Gene Seymour, Newsday

"It's in the smaller moments that the film shines… The telling details -- McLoughlin's tardiness in building a kitchen for his wife, Donna (a quietly devastating Maria Bello), Jimeno arguing about baby names with his pregnant wife, Allison (a tightly wound Maggie Gyllenhaal) -- become a lifeline. Stone cuts from the men to their families at home, waiting for news, any news.

This material could have played like a by-the-numbers docudrama. But the script, by newcomer Andrea Berloff, who worked with both couples to get the details right, has the sting of reality to work against any sugarcoating." - Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

My Opinion

Unlike United 93 which I had major problems with because of the speculation involved, considering there is no way to know what happened on that plane. I'm not even thinking of the conspiracy theories, what was most annoying was the good guy, bad guy characterizations; the passengers are all sweet, making calls to their families, the terrorists are running back and forth like monkeys in a cage.. "Hey, stop talking!" Is that really how it happened? Yeah, they were innocent victims, 'calls' were made, but ultimately the movie's only purpose was to make people wave the flag for such heroism.

What's wrong with that? It's speculation. Can we get a black box? Did every one of the black boxes on all four planes involved in the attacks get destroyed beyond any possible use? They did find them, but supposedly they weren't in working order. In the most horrific plane crashes the black boxes make it out unscathed, that's why people are always amazed and comedians make the joke.. put me in the black box. The Space Shuttle explodes entering the earth's atmosphere and somehow those black boxes make it to the surface of the earth in working order. Haha. Umm. I'm dipping into conspiracy stuff.. I'll stop.

I saw this movie blind, meaning I purposely went in knowing nothing other than what it was about, 9/11: read no reviews, no summaries.

"This movie is based on recollections of the survivors of the World Trade Center attacks."

Those words (or something like them) are what you see when the movie begins and did a lot to give an immediate sense of 'OK, they're going to stick to the facts.' And that they did. On a whole the movie is a zoom lens look at the attacks from the perspective of the members of a police unit who were trapped in the rubble. From that level you see them going to work that morning, planes hitting the buildings, the buildings falling, and the whole time they don't know what the hell is going on.

There they were in the lobby of the Tower One and most of them have heard but don't believe the second tower was hit. It's a reality that is hard to fathom, but real. Personally I was miles away, walking home on 2nd avenue going toward the towers. One moment I saw the smoking buildings, then saw a cloud of dust.. it took awhile to realize that they had crumbled. Imagine being in the lobby of the building when that happened. That's where World Trade Center takes you, and it happens fast, like 20 minutes in. With a 2 hour movie you're thinking, what happens now?

400 firefighters and police entered the buildings, only 20 were pulled out. Nicholas Cage and William Jimeno's characters represent numbers 18 and 19. Those officers offered their personal recollections for the foundation of the movie, the realness of it, and it extends to the emotional swings their families went through.

With them ultimately being rescued from the rubble, there is a point that I was thinking how I would feel if knew someone in the rubble who didn't get out. There would be no way I could watch the movie and not feel crushed (pun not intended).

It's a point that some people have complained about, but it's actually covered at the end of the movie in two ways: a woman in the hospital who tells one of the wives the last words she said to her missing son (brother?) was during an argument; and more broadly with the infamous wall of missing people. We all saw it on TV, thought it was sad or even looked at it blankly - you know, when it doesn't happen to you.. but the meaning of it was suddenly amplified when put in the perspective of these two men who were rescued and.. those people who were not. It's seeing what the families went through that makes brings the wall to life for the other families. Those were real people and the pictures were cries for help. It's a sad thing.

Oliver Stone is known for touching the conspiratorial edges, while he does throw in little things like the explosions heard in the buildings and the first news flash that mentioned Flight 93 as Flight 76.. that kind of sensationalism is at the absolute minimum.

I hope that guy protesting outside the theatre (insert this guy walking ahead of me looking at him, jaw dropped, in shock.. me laughing) realizes the movie does more to humanize what happened than any newscast or documentary. I'm going as far to say it will be (and should be) the definitive 9/11 film. With two movies on the market, there is no need to say, ok.. now let's take it from the fireman's perspective.. how about the telephone operators, the guy in the building across the street, the people trapped up top. Nah. This is it.

Four butters. That's a first from me and hopefully not the last, movie tickets cost $10.75.

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