Call it the anti-Saving Private Ryan
: Terrence Malick's graceful, chaotic adaptation of James Jones' 1962 novel about the bloody, attenuated campaign to take Guadalcanal Island in 1942-43 (he also wrote From Here to Eternity
), is an intensely
internalized portrait of external pandemonium, a slippery, insidiously haunting work of poetry rather than brilliantly realized pulp. It most closely resembles APOCALYPSE NOW, both in its vaguely hallucinatory ambiance and because it's set on the Pacific front: Malick's soldiers are as out of
place in the jungle as Coppola's, and the scenery's riotous beauty makes the sudden bursts of bloody violence just that li...