I respectfully disagree...
...and disrespectfully say that this is right stupid. From David Poland's review of Flags of our Fathers, Clint Eastwood's first of two films about the Battle of Iwo Jima:
Even though the flag raising on Iwo Jima seems like perfect Eastwood material, it is not. Not because he can't handle a war film or that it is too complex. His strength is working from simplicity and then turning it upside down and inside out. The problem is that there is no villain in the story. There is no standard from which hypocrisy can rise and, ultimately, fail under the weight of good, flawed men. The story of Iwo Jima and the flag raising - at least as Eastwood and Haggis tell it - is not that interesting and, more importantly, the life and death of soldiers was as random as the flip of a coin. In the specific of the flag raisers, three survived the island and three did not. And for all the "he was the best soldier ever" crying, it could have easily been the three who died that survived and vice versa.
There is a lot of bollocks in that review (sorry, been watching a bunch of Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares on BBC America), so it was hard to pick just one element. Did we see the same movie? This quote suggests he completely missed one of the film's central ideas, that pure random luck, good or bad, fuels all the events in a war. Poland demands a villain here in this quote, and again elsewhere in his review, suggesting we again saw two totally different films: the one I saw began and ended with two very pointed voiceovers about the nature of heroes and villains, that clearly enunciated Eastwood's thesis. That Eastwood never shows the Japanese is obviously a stylistic choice, one that works well within the film's thematic framework (particularly when we know Clint will be following the film with a companion piece showing the Japanese perspective of the battle).
My full review will come next week at The Reeler but I needed to unburden myself.