I thought this movie was absolutely incredible. It has a great story line and really had me at the edge of the couch and completely in tune to the movie. At one point, my friend who I was watching it with said to me, “Jaimie, relax its just a movie.” And i think the director would have been very happy with that comment because I believe that was his goal! This poor young child’s whole world it torn upside down and the movie takes you along the heart pulling ride with him. He is separated from his mother and younger siblings, he watches his grandfather, father, and brother get killed right in front of his eyes and then he is taken into this twisted “family” of men and boys and trained at the mere age of 8 years old to fight, survive, and more than anything, to kill. As I was watching the movie I couldn’t help but to try and put myself in his position both as him, and secondly as his parent and thinking of my own son having to go through that. When Agu (the young boy) is found by this group of men he honestly has no choice but to join them. He is lost, by himself, wandering through the land and has no one and no where to go. He had to go through an initiation process which in itself was hard enough to watch and that was just the beginning. There’s a dramatic part of the film where the commander has Agu perform sexual acts on him and its just absolutely horrible. My heart ripped out of my chest for that poor boy at that part of the film. The viewer sees Agu slowly start to lose himself after that happens. There was one part of the film when he thinks he sees his mother and younger sister in one of the villages they go into and he is hysterical and then he realizes that its not his family and ends just shooting the innocent mother just because it was not his mother. He turns from a young boy to a grown man in the matter of months, mentality wise. I was thinking to myself, if this boy ever makes it out of this he will never have a normal childhood again and later in the film he says that himself.
The scenery in the movie is incredible!! There are some great shots from up above of the whole forest and they are beautiful. The battle scenes are good and many are very gruesome but they get the point across of just how bad it’s supposed to be. I’m assuming that the villages they entered were real villages? If not they did a good job of setting them up and making them look real. Also, towards the end of the movie the men were staying in an area where there was like mud, I don’t really know how to explain it but I thought this was a greatttttt scene, it really stuck out to me.
I feel the actors all did a good job. I loved how the writer included the young kid “Strika” who becomes basically like a brother to Agu and they are the two youngest boys. There was also an element of question about Strika because he never spoke… I wondered if it was because he really couldn’t speak or he was scarred so bad that he didn’t want to. He plays a vital part in this film though as he becomes Agu’s confidant and then Agu ends up losing him too because towards the end Strika gets shot in his arm and ends up dying.
Two things that I wish were different about the film or two things I would critique is, first, when Strika dies, I wish they would have placed more emphasis on it. I know we see that Agu is really upset and the other young boys put the palm leaves on him but we never see the commander’s response or the older boys’ responses and they were all apparently close. I know that death was just part of what they were involved in but I still would’ve just liked to see a little more recognition of his death. The other is the ending. I wasn’t really crazy about how it ended. I get the idea that it was supposed to be Agu trying to be a kid again but what happens next? Does he ever find his mom? And honestly, where the hell is he? Also, what ever did happen to the commander? There were just some unanswered questions and I expected a little better ending because I thought the movie was so great.
Overall, I did really like the movie and I thought it was brilliant and well shot and well planned. I would definitely recommend it to someone who has not seen it (as long as they can handle movies violent nature).