Mostly a great and powerful movie
The battles of Glory are anything but glorious. They're chaotic, frenzied, clumsy, and loud. They start with men in lines trying to blast each other faster with unwieldy rifles, struggling to keep doing so even as the men next to them die, and end with them charging at each other screaming and slashing for each other's blood. The best fighters are the ones who can think quickly on their feet, and even then could use a bit of luck and a six shot revolver. There's no Bloodless Carnage and you'll thank heaven for the Gory Discretion Shots. And no character is safe at any point of then. If I were to suggest any film's battle scenes as a rebuttal to Truffaut's claim that no movie can make a war look inglorious, Glory's would be my first pick. But the battles are not the focus of Glory, in fact, there's only three of them. The real story is about the men who we follow being trained to set an example for all the black men of America. Each one has to come to terms with their personal values. Thomas is enthusiastic about the chance to be a symbol of good, but then deals with struggling to keep those ideals when meeting the harsh reality of Training From Hell and savage battle. Trip fights because he can, but is the most pessimistic of all the leads because he's met nothing but cruelty all his life and is sure that there will be nothing but more after the war is over, no matter who wins. Morgan Freeman's character John Rawlins is perhaps the most static of all of them, but still manages to convey a reason for his steady wisdom even after his own life of hardship. The film's weak point is its protagonist Robert Shaw, played by Matthew Broderick. The director admitted the danger in using the White Male Lead trope as a way of avoiding black protagonists, and I see his point about how Col. Shaw is essential to the story. But they could have cast someone better than Broderick. His innocent and naive manner is one useful for exactly one scene, the first. After that, the script called for him to project leadership, strength, and even harshness, something Broderick could not do. He doesn't kill the film, but he does dampen it. Of note is that Glory's images felt a bit too sharp. Was this filmed with a higher frame rate? Whatever it was, it was a little unnerving.