I saw a screening of Act of Valor in early December and found it to be an odd mix of superawesomeincredible action and painfully stilted melodrama. Using real SEALs made the action feel hella more authentic than pampered Hollyweird stars who've had a few days of "boot camp" training with Dale Dye would deliver, but the plot parts suffered from tired tropes (e.g. if you can't immediately spot which one has the call sign of "Dead Meat", you've never seen a movie) delivered by earnest warriors with the looks and acting skills of Peyton Manning. I tried to imagine how it would've played with all real actors or more of a pseudo-documentary "found footage" execution and couldn't decide which would've been better. (It's like how Clerks probably wouldn't have worked as well with real actors as Mallrats showed.)
However, the movie is the latest political football for hyper-liberal commentators to get their hate on for the military, war in general, and "BUSHITLER! WAR FOR OIL! LIES!!!" The Huffington Post has been wringing their dainty hands over the idea that our soldiers be portrayed as anything but the raping killers (as seen in Redacted), duped victims of corporatist war (e.g. Lions For Lambs), damaged thrill jockeys (Hurt Locker), and/or ticking time bombs threatening civilians back home (In the Valley of Elah) they imagine soldiers as being, not that they actually would deign to know any real soldiers. War is bad, mmmkay, and anyone in the military is either a fascist skinhead warmonger or a poor exploited minority. Right. (It's ironic that the same people who are hating on this movie are cheering Obama for "getting bin Laden" and on the night of the State of the Union a month ago, SEALs were rescuing an American held hostage by Somali pirates in a manner similar to a rescue dramatized in this very movie.)
On the other hand, conservative pundits are wildly overpraising Act of Valor as the greatest thing since film stocks moved from nitrate to acetate bases. It's easy to understand why: When the only positive depictions of the military to counter the narrative detailed in the previous paragraph seems to show up when we're fighting robots or aliens. (Not that Battle: Los Angeles was roundly bashed for being too pro-soldier, cuz we all know they're crazed Nazi timebombs rapist murderers.) Act of Valor isn't as great as the Right says and as terrible as the Left wants to smear it.
Drew's review is revealing in how allergic he is to values that exist outside of the Hollyweird bubble of liberal secular humanism. For someone so close to the movie BUSINESS as he is, he seems deeply offended that there are Christian (gasp!) and pro-military (to the fainting couch!) filmmakers who aren't militantly dedicated to offending the Flyover rubes who watch NASCAR and drink domestic beer and are actually making a buck doing so. I'm sure it's due to his deeply-held beliefs and not just because he lives and works in an industry where political affiliations are literally make or break for one's livelihood. However, reviews like this one with its, "Can you believe there are morons who fall for this stuff?", tone indicates that he can't even imagine anyone who doesn't align with his personal views being here and reading and if there are, they should have their incorrect thinking slapped around.
I've never understood why Hollyweird has chosen insult their customers and hand each other trophies for movies the unwashed rabble have no interest in seeing when there are piles of money for the taking if only they could mask their utter contempt for the paying customers. The self-anointed enlightened liberal elites can't stop vomiting over the success of movies like The Blind Side - let's not even mention a certain movie that Mel Gibson made which sits at #17 of the all-time domestic chart - but I can give you 309 million reasons they're fooling themselves. The denizens of Hollyweird doesn't need to actually become conservative or practice any of those archaic Judeo-Christian values in their own lives; they just need to stop screaming, "WE HATE YOU PEOPLE AND ALL YOUR STUPID BELIEFS!!!", with their movies. Stop insulting the customers and they'll give you money. Just fake it and take it. Is that too hard?
The commercial success or failure of the film is going to be spun by each side. If it flops, liberals will crow that it's because it was a terrible movie and if it succeeds, they'll dismiss it as being red meat for Red State bubbas who are terrible people. Conservatives will say....aw, who cares what THOSE PEOPLE think, right?
The polarization is even effecting evaluation of the most impressive and least political part of the movie, its look. Shot mostly on HDSLRs (Canon 5D MkII and 7D), it looks SLICK - Michael Bay slick. The HDSLR has been the indie filmmakers best friend since the Canon XL1, but it's typically been used for shakycam mumblecore stuff, not Big Action Movies and if I hadn't been tipped by the intro my screening had that HDSLRs were used, I would've been even more stunned by learning that. However, when noted photographer and HDSLR prophet Vince Laforet blogged about how remarkable a technical achievement achievement the film was, his comments section was overrun with comments like this: "Hey.. great another macho film… Yep show it to kids in the school, so they can serve as front line meat again. It seems we’ve had enough of that Vincent. There’s nothing glorifying about these guys." Lovely.