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Shout 2010: Semper why?


Movie review: ‘A Marine Story’

By Chance Shirley

Review at a glance: “A Marine Story” stumbles in tackling too many issues with a broken screenplay.

A Marine Story

Dreya Weber stars as Alexandra Everett in “A Marine Story.”

A former Marine returns to her hometown after four tours of duty in Iraq. She’s barely off the train when she tackles a shoplifter at a convenience store.

Birmingham ShoutEarly in “A Marine Story,” I’m thinking I’m in for something like the 2004 “Walking Tall” remake: Military vet cleans up troubled town, but with a female lead. That’s a movie I wouldn’t mind seeing.

Instead, it’s a “message movie.” Several messages, actually.

The film screens on Sept. 25 at Birmingham Shout.

One message focuses on the American military’s shameful treatment of gay and lesbian soldiers. Other issues include the government’s questionable handling of Middle East conflicts and the economy, the role of women in the military and meth’s effects on small towns.

The plot deals with Alexandra Everett (Dreya Weber) coming to terms with her discharge, forced but “honorable,” from the Marine Corps. Her friends and neighbors must also come to terms with her sexuality. Her outing as a lesbian seems contrived, forced by the terribly unlikely machinations of the screenplay.

None of the main characters are believable. They either work as talking heads debating one of the issues or act in arbitrary ways to drive the plot.

Writer and director Ned Farr serves up some clunky dialogue. Camp, while fine in B movies, does no favors for serious social commentary. An example:

“Well, I’m a meth-head now, so …”

Has any methamphetamine addict, anywhere, ever uttered those words?

Despite those severe limitations, the movie features top-notch production; cinematography, sound and editing are all solid. The cast is capable, with many of them putting in extra work behind the scenes. Weber even performs one of the songs playing over the end credits.

Unfortunately, all that talent and dedication can’t fix a broken screenplay. “A Marine Story” is ambushed by its own multiple-message mess.

chance shirleyChance Shirley, co-founder of Birmingham-based Crewless Productions, will participate as a panelist at the “Changing Forms of Distribution” Sidetalk at the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival. He served as producer and writer on “Monster Hunt with James and Kevin,” premiering at Sidewalk on Sept. 25.

His sci-fi horror/comedy film, “Interplanetary,” should finally arrive on DVD in early 2011 from Camp Motion Pictures.

“A Marine Story” will screen at 7 p.m. Sept. 25 at the Hill Arts Center.

Video: On the set of “A Marine Story”

Video: “A Marine Story” trailer


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