I won't call Flags of our Fathers a disappointment, mostly because I wasn't expecting a great film. From the early previews, it appeared to be fairly derivative of recent war movies. Take one part Saving Private Ryan, one part The Thin Red Line, one part Windtalkers, two parts Band of Brothers. . . blend.
That said, the formula produced a good movie, a satisfying wartime drama with a simple message: the real heroes in war are rarely the ones who survive.
Good performances across the board, excellent effects, and the steady hand of Clint Eastwood's direction make Flags of our Fathers a quality film. Especially noteworthy is Adam Beach as the American Indian Marine Ira Hayes-- Hayes is consumed with survivor's guilt, and Beach does an effective job capturing a proud-yet-broken man.
The combat sequences are well done, although again, nothing terribly original. Ryan's shadow is a long one, and it's difficult to make any war movie these days that doesn't feel like it owes something to Spielberg's revolutionary film. There are no "wow" moments in Fathers, but that's reflective of Eastwood's style: he's made a drama with effects, not an effects movie with dramatic moments.
The only fumble in the movie is its framing device-- employing a bracketing narration by the son of one of the flag-raisers (and author of the book in which the film is based on). It may be accurate, but it feels a little too pat and cloying. Keeping the movie in 1945 would probably have made for a more honest picture.
It's still worth your time.