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Gunner Palace (2004)

6.7
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 1,786 users   Metascore: 70/100
Reviews: 32 user | 58 critic | 33 from Metacritic.com

American soldiers of the 2/3 Field Artillery, a group known as the "Gunners," tell of their experiences in Baghdad during the Iraq War. Holed up in a bombed out pleasure palace built by Sadaam Hussein, the soldiers endured hostile situations some four months after President George W. Bush declared the end of major combat operations in the country.

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Javorn Drummond ...
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Elliot Lovett ...
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Storyline

American soldiers of the 2/3 Field Artillery, a group known as the "Gunners," tell of their experiences in Baghdad during the Iraq War. Holed up in a bombed out pleasure palace built by Sadaam Hussein, the soldiers endured hostile situations some four months after President George W. Bush declared the end of major combat operations in the country.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

400 American soldiers carry out their mission from a bombed-out pleasure palace once owned by Saddam Hussein. This is their story. See more »

Genres:

Documentary | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 on appeal for strong language throughout, violent situations and some drug references | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

5 September 2004 (USA)  »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$63,520 (USA) (4 March 2005)

Gross:

$607,502 (USA) (17 June 2005)
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1.85 : 1
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Trivia

Under normal circumstances more than one use of the word "fuck" would get a film an R-rating. In this instance, the MPAA reasoned that a person old enough to be recruited by the army should be allowed to view a documentary on actual army life. However the rating also carried the notice that it was awarded on appeal to provide a better cautionary warning to parents concerned about what their children are viewing. See more »

Quotes

SPC Tom Susdorf: This morning, um, the Shiites were having their holy day, doing their usual walks around Baghdad, and their pilgrimmage to some of the holy shrines in the area and they went over to Kadhimiya, and, uh, a couple explosions went off. The doctors at the hospital say at least seventy-five people were killed, thus far. When the QRF from the Knights and Dakota went over to assess the situation and try to help with medical support they got there only to be pelted by rocks and sticks and bottles and ...
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User Reviews

 
Could Have Been So Much More........
11 March 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This documentary centers around an army unit that has made its base at one of Uday Hussein's "Pleasure" Palaces. Gunner Palace, essentially, traces the lives of the members of the unit from the point of view of Michael Tucker, a reporter embedded with the unit.

What works so well in this film is the simple fact that the viewer is getting to see the actual day to day activities of soldiers stationed in Iraq. It is fascinating and interesting, in this respect. What we are seeing is going on RIGHT NOW. It is unlikely the immediacy of Gunner Palace, and its impact, will be lost on anyone.

Unfortunately, aside from the main strength of the film, the video footage shot by Mr. Tucker, there seems to have been little thought in how to present the information. It is simply not edited well. It proceeds in a somewhat chronological order, but is hampered by an almost comical voice over, I assume done by Tucker, himself. It sounds odd and overly dramatic, even for some as dramatic as war. The narration just doesn't work.

The experiences of the soldiers themselves, are at times, very intriguing and include some amusing and often endearing raps performed by the soldiers about living in Iraq. It's clear that singing about the war, either with an electric guitar or a rap beat drummed out on a jeep is helping them get through the every day stresses they face. Presented more clearly and effectively, these raps could have given a nice structure to the film but seem more random and inserted without thought. And this is a shame, because there seems to have been a great deal of material the director could have drawn from. He was stationed there with them, for God's sake.

Also, somewhat inexplicably, the director/narrator, towards the end of the film, recounts his own experiences leaving Iraq and adjusting to home life again. Why I say this is inexplicable is because one would assume it would be the final moment of the documentary with maybe an epilogue, but rather the film shifts back to Iraq and continues on. It only adds confusion and disrupts the viewers ability to track the events and people appearing in Gunner Palace.

If only to see the faces of the soldiers and citizens in Iraq, as they are actually living, this film is worth seeing. It is a shame, however, that the footage Tucker shot didn't find it's way into more capable hands. Gunner Palace could have been even more compelling and affecting.


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