7 life lessons we learned from 'Stripes' - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MOVIES

7 life lessons we learned from ‘Stripes’

We’ve all seen the classic movie trope where the slacker guy who failed at life because of missed opportunities and maybe a little laziness wants to pull out of his personal nose dive and succeed. In the early 1980s, Hollywood gave us some hilarious films like “History of the World: Part 1,” “Cannonball Run,” and one of the most authentic military comedies of all-time, “Stripes.”


Although the film does have a slapstick “don’t take me too seriously” comedic tone, we can learn a lot about life if we take a deeper look into the classic hit.

So check out these life lessons that we could all learn from our beloved “Stripes.”

1. Answering the call

Most people have thought about joining the military at one point in their life, but it takes a personal epiphany to decide you’re ready to take the first step.

7 life lessons we learned from ‘Stripes’
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2. Only tell the government what they need to hear

And not a single word more.

7 life lessons we learned from ‘Stripes’
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3. Always set goals for yourself

In the military, what you put into it is what you get out of it. True story.

7 life lessons we learned from ‘Stripes’
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4. Don’t let your battle buddy quit

Military training can be difficult, but it’s up to your battle buddies to keep your motivation high and physically threaten the people that are trying to quit.

7 life lessons we learned from ‘Stripes’
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5. Leadership can be found in anyone

It’s amazing just what you’ll find in a person when you peel back some of their raw layers.

7 life lessons we learned from ‘Stripes’
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6. Brain takes brawn

You can be up against a dangerous force, but some intelligence and quick thinking can get you out of nearly any jam.

7 life lessons we learned from ‘Stripes’
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7. Never count out the lovable loser

They always seem to surprise us in those awesome 80’s comedies.

7 life lessons we learned from ‘Stripes’
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MIGHTY HISTORY

Abraham Lincoln’s wrestling skills made him the John Cena of his time

You know Abraham Lincoln as the emancipator and one of America’s greatest presidents, but a wrestler?


At 6-feet-4, 180 pounds, the frontier man was a highly regarded grappler who went 12 years with only one defeat in approximately 300 matches. According to Lincoln biographer Carl Sandberg, Abe was also an accomplished trash talker once challenging an entire crowd of onlookers after beating a foe: “I’m the big buck of this lick. If any of you want to try it, come on and whet your horns.”

Related: Here’s what America’s 6 sailor presidents did when they were in the fleet

Historians recount Lincoln’s badassery to as early as his teenage years. At age 19, he defeated the Natchez thugs by throwing them overboard during their attempted to hijack Lincoln’s stepbrother’s river barge. Ten years later, while working for an enterprising storekeeper in New Salem, Illinois, he doubled as a prize fighter for his boss who promoted his famous match against county champ, Jack Armstrong. Lincoln won by knockout when he threw Armstrong off his feet.

Lincoln was neither the first nor last president to succeed in wrestling. At age 47, George Washington famously defeated seven members of the Massachusetts militia during the American Revolution, Teddy Roosevelt cross trained in boxing and Jiu-Jitsu. Andrew Jackson, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant and William Taft were also champions, wrote Jennie Cohen for History.

Legend has it that Lincoln once beat a man by picking him up and tossing him 12 feet during a campaign speech. This American Heroes Channel video perfectly shows why you don’t want to get into a scuffle with honest Abe.

Watch:


American Heroes Channel, YouTube
MIGHTY MOVIES

This milspouse made the latest cut on ‘American Idol’

American Idol is back this year on ABC with Ryan Seacrest and new judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan. They’ve just announced the Top 24 and there’s a military spouse who’s made it this far in the competition.

Jurnee (just one name and she says it’s real) is an 18-year-old hostess from Denver, CO. Her wife, Ashley, serves in the U.S. Army.


Check out Jurnee’s audition video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01XhRdvPZxY

www.youtube.com

After Hollywood Week, Jurnee learned she made it to the Top 24 and performed Never Enough for her Idol Showcase. Ashley, who’s soon to be deployed, made it to Los Angeles for the performance.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRMBMs6ZLPw

www.youtube.com

Longtime Idol viewers will notice the way that the producers are presenting her (ahem) journey means that they’re setting up Jurnee to have a long run on the show (if she continues to perform with the ability she’s demonstrated so far). We’ll be tuning in and following her progress in the weeks to come.

Articles

This Air Force prototype had a long life as a comic book fighter

The Blackhawks are one of the lesser-known superheroes in the DC Comics pantheon today, but from the 1940s to the 1960s, they were big names. The only hero who outsold them during the early years of their run was Superman.


Part of the appeal was their planes. In the 1950s, their primary mount was the Lockheed F-90, which they used to fight off their monster and alien foes.

But here’s the kicker – the plane they flew has some origin in fact, but it never got past the flight test stage.

7 life lessons we learned from ‘Stripes’
F-90 with the Blackhawks. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Dubbed the “XF-90,” the experimental plane’s tale is one of the few real failures that came from Lockheed’s legendary Skunk Works.

According to aviation historian Joe Baugher, the Air Force was looking for a long-range jet fighter to escort bombers to targets. Lockheed went with the F-90, and proceeded to build it in a very sturdy fashion.

The good news was that this was one tough plane, and had six 20mm cannon (enough to blast just about any plane out of the sky), but it weighed 50 percent more than its competitor, the XF-88 Voodoo from McDonnell.

From the get-go, the XF-90 had problems. The plane was underpowered and was outperformed by the F-86A — even when afterburners were added to the plane’s two XJ34 jet engines. The Air Force chose the XF-88 Voodoo to be its penetration fighter, but that never went into production.

Only two XF-90s were built.

7 life lessons we learned from ‘Stripes’

Lockheed had tried a number of other options, including the use of a single J47 engine to boost the F-90s performance, but there was too much re-design work involved. The first F-90 version the Blackhawks used, the F-90B, did feature a single engine. The second version, the F-90C, was said to be lighter version of the F-90B.

The Blackhawks eventually faded — partially due to some bad 1960s storylines — and the super hero team was eventually eclipsed by Batman and many of the superheroes who are familiar today.

And as for the XF-90 prototypes? One was tested to destruction by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, and the other was banged up in the nuclear tests of the 1950s.

That second plane is currently in storage at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Is the rereleased version of ‘Avengers: Endgame’ worth your time?

“Avengers: Endgame” just got re-released in theaters with bonus content.

The movie, which initially hit theaters in April 2019 and went on to hit $1 billion at the box office, returned on June 28, 2019. Prior to the re-release, Marvel revealed that the new version would have an introduction from Anthony Russo, an unfinished scene that didn’t appear in the final movie, and a sneak peek at “Spider-Man: Far From Home” (which comes out on July 2, 2019).

Keep reading for a breakdown of what to expect from the latest version of “Endgame,” and whether or not it’s worth seeing in theaters.


7 life lessons we learned from ‘Stripes’

Anthony and Joe Russo.

(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Before the movie plays, codirector Anthony Russo shares a few words with viewers

“On behalf of all of us at Marvel Studios, we want to thank you for joining us on this journey,” Russo says. “Make sure you stick around after the credits. We have something special to share with you. Enjoy.”

7 life lessons we learned from ‘Stripes’

(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

After the film, there’s a touching tribute to Stan Lee

Once the three-hour film ends, you’ll have to wait for all the credits to roll before Marvel honors the comic book legend who died in November 2018 at the age of 95. The tribute, which lasts about three minutes, is stuffed with plenty of behind-the-scenes footage that shows Lee interacting with cast and crew members over the years. There’s also a recap of his cameos and Lee says that he remembers every single one.

You can see him chatting with Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau on the set of 2008’s “Iron Man,” and you can spot Brie Larson leaning on him while filming his quick appearance in the 2019 movie “Captain Marvel.”

“Not only did I not think I would be doing a cameo in such a big movie, I hadn’t dreamt it would be such a big movie,” Lee says. “In those days, I was writing those books, I was hoping they’d sell so I wouldn’t lose my job and could keep paying the rent.”

He goes on to talk about the success of his comic characters and the “blockbuster movies.”

“In the days [when] I was writing these things, I never thought it would turn into something like this,” Lee says.

He adds: “I can’t believe I lucked out.”

The tribute concludes with silver text on the screen that says, “Stan We Love You 3000,” a heartwarming nod to Tony Stark’s line from “Endgame.”

7 life lessons we learned from ‘Stripes’

Mark Ruffalo in “Avengers: Endgame.”

(Disney/Marvel)

The unfinished deleted scene shows Hulk being heroic

Russo returns to the screen to say that it’s a moment that they “loved, but just couldn’t keep in the final cut of the film.”

The scene opens with a burning building and several firefighters arriving at the site. Then Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) shows up, looking a little different because the CGI work hasn’t been completed. As the firefighters panic over how to rescue people stuck on the 40th floor, the superhero valiantly arrives and gets the job done. Then Hulk answers a phone call and says, “Steve who?,” presumably referring to Steve Rogers (Chris Evans).

It’s unclear where this scene would have fit into the final version of “Endgame,” but perhaps it was meant to highlight what he was doing after the Avengers tracked down Thanos and killed him in the garden. Following the five-year jump, Professor Hulk seemed to become popular in town, as shown during one “Endgame” scene in which three kids approached him at a diner so they could snap a photo with him.

7 life lessons we learned from ‘Stripes’

Cobie Smulders and Samuel L. Jackson in “Avengers: Endgame.”

(Sony Pictures/Marvel)

The final treat gives fans a glimpse of what to expect from ‘Far From Home’

The scene opens in Ixtenco, Mexico and shows Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) evaluating the damage done in the area by a cyclone that seemingly had a face. Then, Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio appears and says, “You don’t want any part of this.”

That sneak peek just reiterates what fans have already seen in the trailer for the “Spider-Man” sequel. The movie focuses on new threats, referred to as Elementals, who take the form of earth, fire, water, and air.

7 life lessons we learned from ‘Stripes’

“Avengers: Endgame” is the culmination of several Marvel movies.

(Walt Disney Studios)

Is the new version of ‘Endgame’ worth your time?

“Endgame” is not too far from surpassing “Avatar” and becoming the highest-grossing film of all time, and this re-release of “Endgame” seems like Marvel’s attempt at dethroning James Cameron’s 2009 movie. But fans flocking to the theater might not feel like the new content was worth the time or money spent.

If you’re lucky, you might snag a cool “Endgame” poster from the theater you attend. But other than that, you might be left feeling unsatisfied. While the Lee tribute is emotional and full of nostalgia, it’s not necessary to see it now.

“Endgame” will be available on digital on July 30, 2019, and you can purchase the Blu-ray beginning on Aug. 13, 2019, and it’s likely that the tribute will be included as an extra.

And because “Far From Home” hits theaters in a few days, the sneak peek at the end of “Endgame” isn’t strong motivation to catch the re-release. You’re better off just waiting to see “Far From Home” when it’s released, since it marks the final film in phase three of the MCU and teases where future movies in the universe will be headed.

This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisinsider on Twitter.

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MIGHTY MOVIES

This small military office influences some of Hollywood’s biggest films

A small office in Los Angeles is responsible for determining whether the Department of Defense will support some of Hollywood’s biggest military blockbusters.


Overseen by former Navy videographer Phil Strub at the Pentagon, the Wilshire Blvd. office houses personnel from the Air Force, Navy, Army, and Marines. In Hollywood, it’s the first place filmmakers look if they need support from the military.

“Our criteria [for which films we support] are very broad and rather subjective,” Strub told the Army Times in 2013. “We’re looking for an opportunity to inform the American public … At the same time, we look at whether we can support it logistic­ally. We’ve been pretty busy.”

From Business Insider:

Hollywood is usually willing to play ball with Strub because his blessing means a huge break for a film’s production budget.

[Last year’s] Oscar-nominated “Captain Phillips,” for example, used a U.S. military guided missile destroyer, an amphibious assault ship, several helicopters, and members of SEAL Team Six, who play themselves but are not on active duty — all courtesy of the U.S. Navy, who were able to work the shoot into their training.

Hollywood has enjoyed support from the U.S. military for almost as long as films have been made. Indeed, the first film to receive an Academy Award for Best Picture in 1927 was the silent film “Wings,” which had support from the Army Air Force to accurately portray training and combat during World War I, according to DoD Live.

In addition to films, the office also helps with television shows, music videos, and video games. Recent projects that were supported include “Iron Man 2,” “Army Wives,” and “Terminator Salvation.” But it has also offered support to other massive Hollywood blockbusters, such as “Top Gun,” “Act of Valor,” and “Black Hawk Down” — which received military technical advisors, weapons, vehicles, helicopters, and even a real-life Ranger regiment to ensure accuracy, according to About.com.

Not all military movies get the Pentagon green-light however. “Apocalypse Now,” “Platoon,” and “The Deer Hunter” received no military support, according to About.com. The same goes for recent films like “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Argo,” according to Business Insider.

“Films are denied Pentagon support by Strub if they show the military in a negative light, such as scenes that include drug use, murder, or torture without subsequent punishment,” writes Aly Weisman at BI.

NOW: 11 vets with some of the coolest jobs in Hollywood

Articles

This Iraq vet kayaker will make you rethink PTSD


Army veteran Russell Davies knows all about taking the big plunge back into civilian life after military service. As a member of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, he served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and became a recipient of the Purple Heart.

Now a professional whitewater kayaker, Davies has made a name for himself both in competition and as a dominator of the biggest, burliest whitewater on the planet.

7 life lessons we learned from ‘Stripes’
“Yeah, sometimes Class V just isn’t enough.” “Totally.” (Go90 Oscar Mike screenshot)

“Oscar Mike” host Ryan Curtis caught up with Davies in Horseshoe Bend, Idaho, to see what a day on the water is all about, but what he found there goes a whole lot deeper.

As a civilian, Davies has given himself a new mission: to help returning veterans address the challenges of PTSD and depression through participation in extreme sports. His organization aims to connect vets to the kind of positive, purpose-driven adrenaline rush that he found through kayaking.

But, lest you fear the day was all mutual support and quiet healing, our host — true to form — came through with an 11th hour challenge that once again pushed him to the brink of washing out.

Watch as Davies shows Curtis why real men wear (spray) skirts and the only water worth knowing is white in the video embedded at the top.

Watch more Oscar Mike:

Watch this Vietnam War vet school a young soldier in stunt driving

This is why you don’t challenge an ex-sniper to a duel

This Army vet is crazy motivated

This is what happens when you put a sailor in a stock car

MIGHTY MOVIES

This is what’s in Batman’s utility belt

Over the years, it has become a running joke of sorts that Batman’s glorified fanny pack contains whatever items he needs to fulfill his current mission, regardless of how unlikely a scenario the caped crusader may find himself in. This leads us to the query of the hour- what has Batman’s utility belt been shown to contain?

Up until the release of Detective Comics #29, which formally introduced the idea of Batman having a utility belt, Batman’s costume had, for all intents and purposes, an ordinary belt that stored a single gadget- the bat rope with a grappling hook.


Whats in Batmans Utility Belt & Other Bat Gadgets? – Know Your Universe | Comicstorian

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In Detective Comics #29, writer Gardner Fox decided to expand his tool-set, establishing that the Dark Knight wore a belt with numerous pouches containing various gadgets he may need while fighting crime- the first revealed being small glass pellets that when thrown released a large cloud of obscuring, choking gas.

From there things became a bit more elaborate. For example, among other things the utility belt was shown to include a giant balloon figure of batman that can be inflated remotely (Batman #115), a mini Geiger counter (Batman #117), and even a small disk made of asbestos inexplicably revealing his secret identity (Detective Comics #185).

In the 1958 comic Batman #117, it even shows him carrying shark repellent, for all those times one needs to fend off sharks while fighting crime on the streets of Gotham… If you’re curious, in this case Batman was underwater on an alien planet. Lucky for him, he remembered to pack his shark repellent and used it against an angry alien, reasoning that “if it works on the killers of the deep on Earth” it might just scare away a similar creature on an alien planet. We mention this because it gives the infamous scene in the 1966 Batman film where Adam West fends off a shark in mid-air with some handy Shark Repellent Bat Spray some context. Glorious, 1950s era context with pure West.

Related: The real ‘Batman’ served during World War II

Later comics also establish that Batman has gadgets specifically designed to counter single members of his rogues gallery such as an antidote to the Joker’s Joker toxin, a Bat-heater to combat Mr Freeze, and special gloves that augment his punching power to fight on a more even playing field with the superhumanly strong villain Bane. Not just for enemies, Batman also apparently keeps what’s needed on hand to take out his allies as well, including a little bit of kryptonite, just in case.

It should also be noted here that in his very earliest comic outings, Batman’s utility belt had space for a handgun. Yes, as sacrilege as this would be in modern times, early versions of Batman had no qualms about shooting bad guys dead.

As for more day to day things, Batman’s utility belt further carries: A first aid kit containing basic surgical tools and various anti-toxins, an acetylene torch that can “cut through the hull of a battleship”, a forensic kit for analysing crime scenes, batarangs, a communication device, keys for the Batmobile, a rebreather in case Batman is ever submerged underwater, Batcuffs (special handcuffs designed to restrain even superpowered individuals), a lockpick, a high resolution camera and in some cases and the aforementioned grappling hook. In addition, the belt also contains numerous darts and pellets designed to subdue, incapacitate or otherwise stun criminals non-lethally when thrown. It also is variously shown to have a flamethrower, and EMP, a sonic devastator, remote claw, napalm, explosive gel, a cryptographic sequencer, and grenades of various type.

Bat addiction: The US wanted an army of Batman paratroopers in WW2

Batman’s Utility Belt // Supercut

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Batman’s Utility Belt // Supercut

In the Batman and Robin film, the belt is even shown to contain a bat-credit card, which, if Batman is to be believed when he flashes it, is something he never leaves home without. And, to be honest, while this scene is often made fun of by the masses, it does at least accurately demonstrate a way for Batman to use his greatest super power- being rich.

In any event, as you might be gathering at this point, writers for Batman really do use his utility belt as a deus ex machina of sorts, usually introducing an amazingly specific gadget seemingly perfectly suited to solve whatever problem Batman has at a given time, with that gadget often never being mentioned again in later depictions.

In an effort to explain away their lazy writing in a semi-plausible way, the comic authors established in Batman canon that the hero obsessively plans every encounter to the most minute detail and has safeguards in place for any eventuality. Thus implying that the exact contents of his utility belt at any given time vary considerably from day to day, though even just going with the staple items that are supposedly always there, the storage capacity of this belt would give Hermione Granger’s handbag a run for its money.

Also read: 6 DC comic heroes who served in the Army

Speaking of planning for any eventuality, the belt has numerous inbuilt security systems to prevent unauthorized use including a tracking beacon and an explosive charge so Batman can destroy it as a last resort if he ever loses it. The belt can also only be accessed by Batman and the various compartments and pouches will only open in response to a specific finger pattern.

The belt is also supposed to be constructed from a titanium alloy that makes it near indestructible, except, we guess from whatever explosive he used for its self destruct mode.

Of course, it’s at this point we feel compelled to point out that in the 1960s Batman TV show, early editions of his utility belt can very clearly be shown to be made up of common household kitchen sponges clipped to a yellow belt…

But to sum up, Batman’s superhero fanny pack contains a bafflingly array of equipment to fight crime, from shark repellent to kryptonite, that somehow all fits neatly into his tiny belt thanks to the magic of lazy comic writing.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

Bonus Fact:

  • Speaking of Batman’s obsessive planning, the comic JLA: Tower of Babel notes that Batman has plans in place to take out his own teammates, keeping detailed dossiers describing how to best deal with heroes such as Superman, Wonder Woman and the Flash. Batman’s obsession with being prepared for every scenario is such that he even keeps a file detailing how to kill himself should the need arise. For anyone curious, Batman notes that the easiest way to kill him would be to distract him by taking an innocent person hostage then take him out like any other mortal man. Although, given countless villains have used this exact strategy against him with little effect, we’re thinking maybe Batman’s planning abilities may be a little overestimated.

This article originally appeared on Today I Found Out. Follow @TodayIFoundOut on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Watch bunnies prepare for war in new ‘Watership Down’ trailer

The BBC released the first trailer for mini-series Watership Down, based on the 1972 Richard Adams novel, and it looks pretty intense. This group of rabbits in Southern England is up against the entire world. When Fiver (Nicholas Hoult) starts having visions of his home being destroyed, all of the rabbits go on a journey to find someplace new to live. It’s terribly dangerous, though. Humans, dogs, foxes, birds, and other rabbits are trying to kill them.


This book was made into an animated movie in 1978, which looked like it was made for kids. It was not and infamously scarred a generation of young children. There’s a lot of brutal death in the novel and it’s a little similar to Lord of the Rings, so don’t be fooled by the adorable rabbits.

Watership Down: Trailer – BBC

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The voice cast for this mini-series is stacked. Nicholas Hoult (The Favourite) and James McAvoy (Glass) lead the cast as brother rabbits. John Boyega (The Last Jedi), Olivia Colman (The Favourite), Ben Kingsley (The Jungle Book), Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) and Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who) also lend their voices to characters in Watership Down. Sam Smith recorded the song “Fire on Fire” for the film as well.

Watership Down‘s story will be told in four parts. It’s going to be released on the BBC in the United Kingdom on Dec. 22 and Dec. 23, 2018, and it’ll come to Netflix on the Dec. 23, 2018. That’s just in time for the holidays, but remember the movie is probably not suitable for young children — unless they can handle a lot of animal death.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

6 Reasons Why We Love Netflix’s ‘6 Underground’

It’s winter blockbuster season, and this year, you don’t even have to brave the snow or leave the comfort of your couch.


Ryan Reynolds stars in 6 Underground, which centers around six individuals from around the globe who have been chosen to join a tight-knit team on a mission to topple a dictator. And though they all have, you know, a particular set of skills, they’re mainly there to escape their pasts—by faking their deaths.

If that isn’t enough to convince you to switch whatever you’re watching right now—it’s a Friday afternoon, we know you’ve got Netflix open already—these are the six reasons you should settle in right now for some classic high-stakes action:

7 life lessons we learned from ‘Stripes’

1. Michael Bay is back!

What can we say? We love action movies, and no one delivers like Michael Bay.

True to form, 6 Underground is back in the director’s seat of a high octane action flick, littered with explosions, car chases, and enough infrastructure damage to remind you that it’s pretty nice living in the real world.

7 life lessons we learned from ‘Stripes’

2. Call outs specifically for the military community

In the beginning of the film you can see “The Operator” wearing a Black Rifle Coffee Company shirt, and in a different scene he’s wearing a Bottle Breacher shirt. It’s the little things that make his character authentic.

We’re all about authenticity with military characters, and these are the details that really make his background—even more than the training and badass moves—shine through. Civilians may not notice, but we definitely appreciate these call outs.

3. Their cast got put through their military paces/training

Of course, there was plenty of military training involved! With guns and explosions dominating the film, it’s no surprise that the case trained with one of the best—Navy SEAL Remi Adeleke, whose fascinating life story rivals those of the film’s characters.

The actors spent several weeks with Adeleke, and Corey Hawkins, who portrays “The Operator,” describes the grueling obstacle courses Remi put them through on top of weapons and ammunition training.

7 life lessons we learned from ‘Stripes’

4. Ryan Reynolds at his finest

The man who brought you two cinematic versions of Daredevil is perfect in Michael Bay’s combo of badassery, high-stakes, and comedic timing. If you weren’t already expecting one-liners, you are now.

We have no idea how he hasn’t managed to work with Michael Bay until now, but this is an action movie match made in heaven.

5. The bad guy gets what’s coming to him

Of course you saw this coming, but we always like to see the hero overcome evil. He’s not based in reality, but, you know, that never mattered to other action movies — remember Schwarzenegger’s nemesis in Commando from the fictional country Val Verde?

Call us old-fashioned. We don’t care. We’ll be munching away on popcorn watching some sweet, sweet justice.

7 life lessons we learned from ‘Stripes’

6. Did we mention explosions?

Explosions in explosions in explosions. Explosion-ception.

I mean, is it even a Michael Bay movie otherwise?

MIGHTY MOVIES

‘Assault on VA-33’ director Christopher Ray understands veterans, because he is one

Christopher Ray is a Navy veteran film director behind the new action movie ‘Assault on VA-33.’ He was a Deck Sea Man, Quartermaster and photographer during his active duty years. Ray made the film with hopes of opening a conversation on veteran issues such as PTS. People can experience an emotional or mental health crisis due to a wide range of situations. For veterans, these crises can be heightened by their experiences during military service. If you or someone you know may be in crisis or need support, please contact the Veterans Crisis Line. The Veterans Crisis Line provides free, confidential support and crisis intervention — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Simply call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1.

To learn more about Assault on VA-33, We Are The Mighty had the incredible opportunity to sit down with Ray for an exclusive interview.

That scene where the main character is retelling his experience overseas at his VA appointment was so authentic, so raw. What was it like to direct that?

RAY: You know, two of those guys are vets. One is a vet who just got home and it was something he needed to do. We asked him if he was going to be okay with it because he’s going to be the guy missing the arm. It was one of those situations where you just have to step away for a minute. What we did was very authentic; the smoke and you can’t really see anything. We actually got the rest of the crew out while we filmed two of the actors together. It was definitely unnerving to say the least. It turned out really well.

One of the first thoughts I had watching the movie was ‘Wait a minute. That’s Conner from Boondock Saints!’ Veterans love the hell out of Sean Patrick Flanery, how did you end up casting him?

Sean Patrick Flannery during filming of Assault on VA-33.
Sean Patrick Flannery during filming of Assault on VA-33. (Courtesy of Paramount & Saban Films.)

RAY: A good friend of mine, Richard Gabai, is good friends with him. Looked at the script, thought this actor would be great. I looked him up and it was amazing. Working with Sean was great. He would show up and everything he added helped the film. He is an amazing actor and an amazing person.

How did you navigate the redtape of the VA for filming?

RAY: It was one of those things where since the VA-33 doesn’t exist and we’re bringing attention to something people forget about it was easier. Even though it is an action film, we try to focus on this often enough where we had signs that said ‘If you have a problem, reach out’ and actual hotline phone numbers throughout the film. It was important to have that message along with the action film.

The movie is filled with action stunts. What was your favorite moment during production with the crew?

7 life lessons we learned from ‘Stripes’
(On set image courtesy of Paramount & Saban Films.)

SRAY: ean Patrick Flanery vs Mark Dacascos. The actors were having a good time, the crew was having a good time. That fight sequence was a major highlight.

Are ‘Red appointments’ a real thing?

RAY: It is. We change the name so we didn’t have any [OPSEC] issues with it. The evaluation of different soldiers are sometimes done by private psychiatrists is a real thing.

What’s next for you as a director?

7 life lessons we learned from ‘Stripes’
(On set image courtesy of Paramount & Saban Films.)

RAY: I produce a lot of films for lifetime and hallmark. I also have a series coming out called FraXtur. We’re finishing that now – two other films in the works [too]. To vets, look us up, we’re hiring veteran cameramen. We try to bring in as many vets as we can. If anyone is interested. I have no problem with anyone emailing me or seeking me out. Come out! Work hard! That’s how people get going in this business.

Is there anything you would like to say to the readers of We Are The Mighty?

RAY: Give it a run and have a good time with this. It was a fun film to work on and make. We also want to make sure that we bring enough attention to the need, different actions one can make, and how to do it. There’s help out there and even though it was fun filming an action movie, we are not making light of what the film is about.

Paramount and Saban Films’ ASSAULT ON VA-33 arrived in select theaters April 2 and On Demand and on Digital April 6. The action/thriller is directed by Christopher Ray (“FraXtur”) and stars Sean Patrick Flanery (The Boondock Saints), Michael Jai White (“Black Dynamite”), Mark Dacascos (John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum), Rob Van Dam (“WWE Raw”), Weston Cage Coppola (“NCIS: Los Angeles”) and Gina Holden (Final Destination 3).

Articles

Watch this Vietnam War vet school a young soldier in stunt driving

Bet you think you’re a good driver. No one can knife across three lanes of traffic and make an exit doing 73 mph like you can, hoss. You even throw around the occasional courtesy wave.


Former Army Engineer and “Oscar Mike” host Ryan Curtis fancied himself above average in the driving department until he met Jim Wilkey at Bobby Orr Motorsports, where the two-tour Vietnam Vet proceeded to hand our host his ass.

7 life lessons we learned from ‘Stripes’
The authentic look of a man being taken to school. (Go90 Oscar Mike screenshot)

A former Navy Seabee, Wilkey is now one of Hollywood’s most highly-regarded stunt drivers, flipping cars and drifting in such modest cinematic offerings as “The Dark Knight” trilogy and “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

When he’s not rolling on “action,” Wilkey teaches the art of stunt driving to amateur road warrior wannabes on his home track in Camarillo, CA.

Watch as Wilkey puts Ryan through a day’s worth of paces and Ryan makes an unwise decision to challenge the master in a timed stunt lap, in the video embedded at the top.

Watch more Oscar Mike:

This Iraq vet kayaker will make you rethink PTSD

This is why you don’t challenge an ex-sniper to a duel

This Army vet is crazy motivated

This is what happens when you put a sailor in a stock car

MIGHTY MOVIES

5 military movie mistakes and how to fix them

It happens every single time a veteran sits down to watch a movie with friends and family. The civilians grab a bag of popcorn while the veteran starts biting their lower lip. The civilians start to enjoy themselves and the veteran starts offhandedly remarking on how “that’s not how it actually happens.”

Before you know it, the veteran hits pause and proceeds to give a full-length presentation on why the film is a disaster because they put the flag on the wrong side of the soldier’s uniform.

Most of what makes a military film bad isn’t intentional, of course. No one wants to spend millions on making a bad movie. But when done right, as so many have been before, troops and veterans will keep it on their top ten film list. So, Mr. Hollywood Producer, when you set out to make the next military blockbuster, use the following advice about the five biggest military movie mistakes.


7 life lessons we learned from ‘Stripes’
I’m 100% certain that Dale Dye just knifehands his way into the wardrobe department and just makes his own characters because no one has the guts to tell him no — and I’m okay with this. (Tristar Pictures)

Hire a good military adviser (and listen to them)

This may come as a shock to some veterans, but there are people on film sets whose entire job is to point out what would and wouldn’t happen in the real military. They’re called military advisers. The great military films are made or broken by how much the cast and crew decide listen to said adviser.

On a magnificent film set, like Saving Private Ryan, for example, everyone from Steven Spielberg to the background extras listened to every single word Dale Dye spoke. A good adviser knows they’re not on set to interrupt the creative team’s ideas. If they speak up to say something is wrong, it’s for a good reason.

7 life lessons we learned from ‘Stripes’
I mean, just because it’s a war film doesn’t mean you can get sloppy when writing characters. HBO managed an entire company of fully-developed soldiers over the span of one miniseries.
(HBO)

Writing that reflects reality

When there’s something fundamentally wrong with a film, it can often be traced back to the writer. One of the first things they tell up-and-coming screenwriters is, “you can make a bad movie from a good script, but you can’t make a good movie from a bad script.” And the best writers are those who can make is something feel authentic and realistic, no matter how extraordinary the setting.

Military films are no exception. The fact is, no two troops are the exactly same. This goes for every character in the film. Every character, lead or background, should be fully dimensional and the audience should have a reason to care if they get unexpectedly shot in Act 2B.

7 life lessons we learned from ‘Stripes’
It’s funny because “get this guy” can apply to damn near every military film.
(Warner Bros. Pictures)

Don’t expect a three-act character arc in the matter of one deployment

While we’re still poking fun at writers, let’s talk about the all-too-common problem of trying to turn real stories into scripts by shoehorning their actions into the Aristotelian structure. For those unfamiliar, this is your basic story of a random nobody becoming a legendary hero. Luke Skywalker did it — but it took him three movies, the loss of his mentor, and multiple failures to finally become a Jedi master.

Don’t expect to apply that same structure to a biopic that begins with a troop being a nobody at basic training and ends with them becoming a battlefield legend. In fact, some of the greatest war films rely on something simple, like “we need to go get this guy” to carry the story. A good story doesn’t need to be humongous in scope to be compelling.

7 life lessons we learned from ‘Stripes’
Just because it’s technically apart of a military uniform, don’t assume people actually wear it…
(Columbia Pictures)

Use authentic wardrobe

Despite how it may seem, there is no law that states that you must mess up uniforms if you’re to use them in a film. In fact, there’s actually a Supreme Court ruling that states you can use real uniforms in the arts — so there’s no excuse.

Use a military adviser and give them a say in the wardrobe department. Or, if you want to keep it simple, hire at least one veteran from whichever branch as part of the wardrobe team.

7 life lessons we learned from ‘Stripes’
I know I keep coming back to it, but look at the D-Day scene in ‘Saving Private Ryan.’ The largest amphibious landing and one of the biggest moments in military history — told entirely through the sole perspective of Captain Miller.
​(Dreamworks Pictures)

Retell the big scenes with smaller moments

It’s called a “set piece.” It’s the huge, elaborate moment that costs a boat-load of cash to capture. It’s what fits perfectly in the trailers. These are the scenes that action sensations, like The Fast and the Furious films, are known for. And yet, they often leave us feeling like something’s missing when done in military films — the personal touch

And that’s what really makes military movies different — sure, there are explosions in war, but it’s an intensely personal moment for the troops fighting. The gigantic scenes will sell much better if they focus on the fear in someone’s eyes more than flying a telephoto lens over the battlefield.

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