NASA astronaut breaks down space scenes from film & TV - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MOVIES

NASA astronaut breaks down space scenes from film & TV

Retired NASA astronaut Nicole Stott experienced two spaceflights and 104 days living and working in space on both the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle. She was the 10th woman to perform a space walk and, just for funsies, she painted the first watercolor in space (it’s now on display at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum).

In the video below, Stott breaks down scenes in classic space films, from Total Recall to Gravity to getting sucked into space in Alien: Resurrection. If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if an astronaut’s helmet cracks in space or what happens when a member of the crew is exposed to the vacuum of space (“there was a case of a guy who was doing a spacesuit test and somehow got exposed to the vacuum; he reports that he felt the boiling of his spit on his tongue…” she shared, to my horror), Stott has answers. 

In Total Recall, a cracked helmet results in convulsions and eyes popping out of their sockets, emitting a laugh from Stott. “The helmet itself is really very durable. We try our best to avoid contact with anything, because they can scratch, too. When we do space checks, we’re always talking about doing a glove check or a crew member check where you look each other over and make sure you don’t see anything that might be a problem,” she explained. “But overall, the suits and helmets overall are really very durable and have done a great job of protecting us in space.”

She had a lot of great things to say about the realism in Gravity, although “there’s definitely not as much chatter as what you’re hearing [in the film]. We try very hard to keep it to what the tasks are about. We might be playing music inside the shuttle but that’s not something you’ll hear throughout all the comm that’s going on.” 

She described how choreographed a space walk is, down to five minute increments. For safety, there’s always someone inside the shuttle during a space walk, as well.

“The thing that stands out the most to me is that you’d never have George Clooney, or any other crew member, just jet-packing around while the space walk was going on,” she clarified.

NASA astronaut Nicole Stott describes the real jet packs astronauts wear on a space walk. (YouTube screenshot | Wired)

She went on to describe emergency procedures (and why unexpected debris in space is rather unlikely), as well as what she described as one of the greatest fears of any spacewalker: spinning out into space. She also commented on astronaut training, including simulation and virtual reality. 

Stott giggled a bit before breaking down the ludicrous speed in Spaceballs, comparing it to the 17,000 miles per hour (5 miles per second!) that the Space Shuttle travels. 

The topic of training came up again with the Armageddon training montage. “The underwater work looks just like what we would do if we were training to do a space walk. Thankfully, in space, it’s easier to move around in those suits! You just have to figure out how to stop if you start moving too fast!” she recalled with a bit of wistfulness in her voice. 
Check out the video above for more Armageddon and everything from pulling G’s in Interstellar to the artificial intelligence of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

MIGHTY MOVIES

How you can visit Disneyland’s Star Wars park a month early

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge may not officially open until the end of June 2019, but for some fans, it could happen even sooner. Nearly a month sooner, to be exact, according to an update from Disneyland on April 22, 2019, which revealed how visitors can snag early passes to the park.

“If you are planning to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at the Disneyland Resort between May 31 and June 23, 2019, a reservation and theme park admission are required,” the resort posted on its website, adding that reservations do not cost extra but that they are “subject to availability.”


Registration will open on May 2, 2019, at 10 a.m. PT on Disneyland.com after more specific instructions are posted two hours prior at 8 a.m. PT. Guests will need to have a Disney account before registering, which Disneyland recommends creating ahead of time.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge | Behind the Scenes at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort

www.youtube.com

Additionally, anyone who wants a guaranteed reservation can book a room at one of the park’s three official hotels (Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Paradise Pier, and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel) between May 31 and June 23, 2019. Each guest over the age of three will receive one reservation for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

Based on confirmation emails that Disneyland has sent to visitors who have already booked rooms, the hotel reservations are good for strict four-hour time slots. Not only are guests required to leave as soon as their four hours are up but Polygonreports that the email notes, “If you decide to leave Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge before your reservation time is over, you will not be allowed to reenter.”

For anyone who doesn’t get a reservation, the new Star Wars land will open to the general public on June 24, 2019, in Hollywood and on Aug. 29, 2019, in Orlando.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Gerard Butler totally gets why troops hate military movie mistakes

There’s nothing more irritating to troops and veterans than sitting down and watching a military film only to be distracted by inaccuracies. We’re not just talking about uniform infractions or other minor goofs — everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes, however, the scripts are just so fundamentally flawed that us veterans can’t help but start chucking things at the screen.

Thankfully, for every stinker that insists on ignoring the on-set military advisor, there’s a great film that gets it right.

The team here at We Are The Mighty recently got a chance to sit down with Gerard Butler, star and producer of the film Hunter Killer, to discuss the production crew’s commitment to portraying the lives of U.S. sailors as accurately as possible in the upcoming thriller.


The wardrobe department pulled off some outstanding attention to detail. From the bottom of our hearts at We Are The Mighty, BZ, ‘Hunter Killer’ wardrobe department! BZ!

(Summit Entertainment)

There really isn’t any better way for filmmakers to faithfully capture the essence of military life than by deferring to those who serve — and that’s exactly what Gerard Butler and the crew of Hunter Killer did throughout pre-production and rehearsal.

Butler spent three days aboard a real Virginia-class submarine, carefully watching every detail and nuance of actual submariner life to better tell their story. Even the tiny details — like the order in which commands are given — were analyzed, written down, and implemented when it came time to shoot. And when they put theory into practice, the authenticity was immediately apparent.

That extra step helped put all the actors into the frame of mind they needed to truly portray submariners in the heat of combat. Butler told us,

“We actually wrote [the details of submariner life] into the script and we realized it was a whole other character in the story. And when we started — the difference that it made!”

Butler knows full-well that the devil’s in the details when it comes to military movies. He told us about his time aboard the USS Houston, when he sat down to watch a much-beloved naval film with the sailors. It was the eye-opener to say the least.

“When I sat to watch… with the submarine crew, and they’re all like taking ownership of the movie and they’re like, ‘that’s bullsh*t!’ while the captain is like, ‘That’s sh*t! You think that’s good, but that’s bullsh*t! He’d never wear that hat! What are those stripes? He wouldn’t say that!'”

Needless to say, Butler and the rest of the Hunter Killer crew recognized how important these details are for us and our community.

Be sure to check out Hunter Killer when it’s released on October 26th.

MIGHTY MOVIES

This is the state that looks most like Afghanistan, according to Hollywood

If you’re looking to make a movie about the Afghanistan War, it should be obvious that you’re not going to be filming in Afghanistan itself. We’re coming up on the 19th anniversary of the war’s beginning, and things are still far too violent in the country to allow a movie crew to work safely.

That hasn’t stopped Hollywood from making films about the war, and they’ve tried multiple locations around the world in an attempt to capture that unique Hindu Kush vibe.

Movies like “Rock the Kasbah” have traveled to Morocco, a country that has also been a stand-in for Iraq (“American Sniper”), Libya (“13 Hours”) and Somalia (“Black Hawk Down”). The Gen. David Petraeus-inspired satire “War Machine” filmed in Abu Dhabi.

Most recently, “The Outpost” was filmed in Bulgaria, a Balkan nation with mountains that did a convincing job of subbing for Kamdesh, Afghanistan. Director Rod Lurie told Page Six that he originally wanted to film in Morocco, but local rules made that impossible.

“Places to film were Bulgaria or Morocco, but Morocco wouldn’t allow us to bring weapons. Soldiers need weapons. Morocco needed to know how many blanks we’d fire. So we went to Bulgaria. Great equipment, crews, props, makeup people. We stayed in a castle in Sofia.”

Things certainly have changed in Morocco since Ridley Scott made “Black Hawk Down” in the African country back in 2000.

Morocco, Bulgaria, Abu Dhabi. They’re all far from home and expensive. What if there was a location that was a quick two-hour flight from Los Angeles, gave excellent tax credits to motion picture companies, and had killer cuisine based on a local variety of chiles?

New Mexico welcomes you. The state has a booming movie and television economy and has been home to television series like “Breaking Bad,” “Better Call Saul,” “The Night Shift,” “Longmire,” “Get Shorty” and “The Brave.”

It’s also been a location for movies like “The Avengers,” “Only the Brave,” “No Country for Old Men,” “Hostiles,” “Hell or High Water” and “Logan.”

New Mexico’s got the infrastructure and the crews, and it’s got the mountains and desert that have allowed three outstanding movies to tell stories about Afghanistan.

Let’s all hope that someday we get to see a great movie about Afghanistan that’s actually filmed there because the country has found peace and stability.

In the meantime, here are the best Afghanistan war movies shot in New Mexico.

Lone Survivor

Director Peter Berg and actor Mark Wahlberg began a long and fruitful collaboration with this movie based on Navy SEAL Markus Luttrell’s memoir about the 2005 Operation Red Wings mission to capture Taliban leader Ahmad Shah.

Luttrell was the only team member to survive the mission. Michael Murphy, Matthew Axelson and Danny Dietz lost their lives in an ambush after the team elected not to kill a young goat herder who stumbled across the mission.

The movie, nominated for two Oscars, proved there was an audience for well-made military films about our modern wars and kicked off a cycle of successful military films. Berg and Wahlberg have gone on to make “Deepwater Horizon,” “Patriots Day,” “Mile 22” and “Spenser Confidential.”

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Based on journalist Kim Barker’s Afghanistan War memoir “The Taliban Shuffle,” “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” stars Tina Fey as “Kim Baker,” a television journalist who learns the war correspondent ropes from journalists played by Margot Robbie and Martin Freeman.

Billy Bob Thornton shines as Baker’s primary military contact, and Nicholas Braun (now famous as Cousin Greg on “Succession”) plays her cameraman.

12 Strong

It’s hard to believe that it took until 2018 for Hollywood to make a movie about the legendary “horse soldiers,” the Green Berets who landed in Afghanistan in early October 2001 to lay the groundwork for the overthrow of the nation’s Taliban government.

Maybe they were waiting for the war to be over. Maybe they were worried how to film the horseback riding battle scenes while working with unfamiliar animal handlers in a foreign country.

Whatever the reasons, Black Label Media stepped up and figured out that it could make the movie in New Mexico after working there to film “Sicario,” “Only the Brave” and the sequel “Sicario: Day of the Soldado.”

Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon and Michael Pena star as Green Berets based on the real men who led the critical mission that began our military response to 9/11.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

These R. Lee Ermey bloopers are priceless

America’s favorite Gunny Sergeant, R. Lee Ermey was famous for his portrayal of Senior Drill Instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket. Ermey also went on to host a History Channel show called Mail Call, where he answered viewer questions about weapons, equipment, and military culture.

Lucky for us, the bloopers from Mail Call are available to watch — and they’re amazing. In Ermey’s own words,

“Now a SNAFU [Situation Normal: All F***ed Up] can come at any time at any size and at any shape and when things get screwed up, well, the Gunny just can’t hold his tongue… and that’s why you’re never gonna see this stuff during prime time!”


Check out this video to catch some incredible bloopers, in which Ermey somehow manages to make the f-bomb as wholesome as it is hilarious:

One of my favorite moments is at 2:20 when Ermey says, “Well, John, the answer to your damn, stupid-ass f***in’ question here…” before he dissolves into laughter.

The best thing about blooper reels is how they show the real personality of the actor — in this case, we get to see that Ermey had a great sense of humor in addition to abundant intelligence and a good nature. The video feels like hanging out with an old friend. Every time Ermey cracks up, I crack up.

At 17:35, he tackles a malfunctioning Browning Automatic Rifle and it’s glorious — he’s not even phased. “A little malfunction. Pull. Push. Aim.” The gun goes off and he cackles victoriously.

The man knew what he was talking about, and he had fun doing it.

Watching the video, I had fun, too. It’s a must see, so raise a toast to Ermey and enjoy.

 

r lee ermey

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Patrick M. Johnson-Campbell)

“Almost overwhelming, the urge to say jack s***, you know? Isn’t it?”

Every day, Gunny. Every damn day.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Visual effects team explains Rey’s new lightsaber

One of the biggest reveals in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” other than Rey’s identity, came at its very end when the character revealed she had her own new lightsaber with a distinctive yellow-orange hue.

What color exactly is the lightsaber and how did the visual effects team land on it?

“A fair number of colors have been used in lightsabers. So there was a design challenge there in terms of what color it should be,” “TROS” visual effects supervisor Roger Guyett told Insider Monday of the direction given for the lightsaber seen at the movie’s very end.


“There was an optimistic kind of quality to that, but we also wanted [Rey] to have a very unique color,” he added of coming up with the color we see on screen. “We ran some tests and decided in the end what color it would be.”

Rey prepares to slice through Kylo Ren’s ship with Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber.

(Lucasfilm)

Is there a specific name to Rey’s lightsaber color? We’re going with ‘yellow optimism.’

“That specific color yellow, if you go too pale — this is getting really in the weeds here — if you go too pale and you make it too light, it’s going to look white a lot of times,” Industrial Light Magic (ILM) visual effects supervisor Patrick Tubach said of one factor that helped them land on that precise color. “Colors on film, sometimes they bleed away depending on the exposure and the quality of the light in the scene.”

“Making it that more golden yellow gives you that optimistic feeling, and it also allows you to make it supersaturated and still feel like it’s in the ‘Star Wars’ universe,” he added.

Yellow sabers aren’t anything new to “Star Wars” lore, but they are uncommon. In the past, yellow lightsabers have mostly been limited to Jedi temple guards, who wielded double-bladed sabers.

Here’s Kanan Jarrus going up against a Jedi Temple guard on the animated series “Star Wars Rebels.”

(Lucasfilm)

When asked if they had a specific name for the color, optimism was a word that came up frequently to describe the tone they were going for with the look of Rey’s lightsaber.

“We definitely went for things like golden and sun and optimism,” said Tubach.

“I think the optimism carried that choice,” added Guyett.

“I’m going to paint my house ‘yellow optimism,'” joked creature and makeup effects creative supervisor Neal Scanlan.

Did the hilt of Rey’s lightsaber look familiar? It should have.

(Lucasfilm)

Rey’s lightsaber does include a yellow kyber crystal

“Yeah, it’s supposed to be a yellow crystal,” said Tubach.

It was not a clear crystal that changed color after chosen by Rey. Neither was it a purified version of a red kyber crystal as Ahsoka Tano did in the past to create her white lightsabers.

Insider thought Rey’s saber color may have contained a healed version of Kylo Ren/Ben Solo’s cracked red kyber crystal, but it seems that’s not the case.

Did the hilt of Rey’s lightsaber look familiar? It should have.

(Lucasfilm)

The small detail within Rey’s new lightsaber you may have missed: The hilt of her lightsaber comes from her original staff.

“That was the concept,” said Guyett of the inspiration behind the hilt of Rey’s lightsaber. “The art production design and the art department, we all contribute to the designs of various things… [director] J.J. [Abrams] just thought it was logical that she had the staff, and, therefore, the saber should somehow be linked to that.”

In hindsight, when you go back to “The Force Awakens,” Rey’s staff always looked like it could eventually be transformed into the perfect lightsaber hilt.

“The Rise of Skywalker” is currently in theaters. You can read our review here.

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

Read more:

MIGHTY MOVIES

Some veterans went balls out and made a ‘Jurassic Park’ fan film

The craziest thing we could do for this franchise was to fly people and equipment to Hawaii and try to tell a story that has all the elements people love about Jurassic Park but from a tactical military perspective,” producer and Army veteran Gregory Wong told We Are The Mighty.

It was crazy — and somehow he pulled it off.

Wong brought members of the military, firearms, and Jurassic community together to execute his vision: an epic fan film for one of the most iconic franchises of all time.

Hold on to your butts.


Whatever it takes to get the shot.

“We had so many partners on this project and every one of them helped with different aspects of the film. Paradise Park welcomed us in to their home for two days in the most authentic ‘Jurassic Jungle’ any filmmaker could dream of,” said Wong.

The cast and crew had 5 days to get every shot they needed on the island. Like any indie filmmakers could attest, it meant a brutal schedule. Dogs of War helped with three locations and active duty service members stationed on the island helped transport cast and crew — and jumped in for stunts and background work.

Back at base camp, Travis Haley conducts tactical training.

Force Reconnaissance Marine Travis Haley, along with his company, Haley Strategic, was involved with development of prototype gear and equipment just for the film. Haley brought his Spec Ops background and weapons expertise to the film, and he got to learn first-hand how challenging it can be to navigate the military-Hollywood divide.

His knowledge brought authenticity to the film that’s often difficult for filmmakers to get right. Military operations might not always look dynamic on film, but Haley was up to the challenge of portraying realistic tactics while telling an entertaining story.

Cast members pose with two Jurassic Park jeeps provided by Sidney Okamoto and Jacob Mast.

The cast and crew were predominantly veterans, including U.S. Marines Travis Haley, Sean Jennings, and Robert Bruce; U.S. Army vets Byron Leisek and Greg Wong himself; U.S. Navy Corpsman Nic Cornett — who directed the project; and U.S. Air Force vets Mike Jones and (We Are The Mighty’s own) Shannon Corbeil.

Many had never acted on-camera before. Jones, AKA Garand Thumb, has a thriving social media channel and enthusiastic fan base of his own, but traditional film-making was a new adventure for him.

Shannon Corbeil and Mike Jones talk about Air Force things. Probably.

“The filming schedule was rough but the people made it worthwhile. Most of us did this on our own dime and I hope the audience sees the passion we had for bringing this vision to life,” reflected Jones.

Baret Fawbush, a pastor and fundamental shooting instructor, was another social media influencer new to a narrative film set, but he was more than prepared to lend his expertise to the film, personally demonstrating the “manual of arms” for each cast member with a weapon.

Professional actors, like Jamie Costa (who is no stranger to fantastic fan films) and Barrett James, heightened the quality of the film with their talent, while also diligently training with their weapons and tactics.

U.S. Marine Robert Bruce conducts location scouting on Oahu.

Many, many brands came together to help Wong bring the film to the screen. A few of the major ones included Evike, JKarmy, PTS, Krytac, GP, and GG, who donated replica prop firearms and uniforms for the production. Ballahack Outdoor helped outfit the film’s leads with tip-of-the-spear footwear. There’s even a raptor puppet involved, created by Marco Cavassa, a prop builder for the film industry.

The film was primarily shot on a Sony A7Sii by Nero Manalo and VFX artists Kerr Robinson and Joe losczack crafted some very impressive weapon and dinosaur effects.

The obvious way to head to Costa Rica.

“I think a lot of people will appreciate the attention to detail and production value. Never before has a Jurassic fan film been so ambitious and daring. The making of such a project was a wild ride which we hope to embark on again soon,” said Wong.

Congratulations, Greg, you did it. You crazy son of a bitch, you did it.

Check out the film right here:

youtu.be

MIGHTY MOVIES

Top 10 funniest war movie characters

Well, here it is, the ten funniest war movie characters of all time. Oddballs. Gallows humor. Hard asses. In exact order. Presented as fact. With absolutely no room for improvement. Don’t think so? Take it up with the complaint department below, because now that we think of it, everything is subjective and you probably have a very good idea that was missed by this perfect list.


Brad Pitt in “Inglorious Bastards”

Hearing an undercover soldier from the deep south try to say “Gorlami” in an Italian accent is absolute comedic bliss. Watching him scalp some Nazis is bliss of another kind. Brad Pitt anchors this list off with this classy badass in the instant classic from the mind of Tarantino.

Cuba Gooding Jr. in “The Way of War”

Okay, so this one isn’t technically a comedy. But in the same way that a tomato isn’t “technically” a vegetable. If you haven’t seen heard of this movie– you are not alone. In fact, you are very, very crowded. I don’t think JK Simmons has heard of this movie, and he is in it. Watch it if you want to see Cuba Gooding: kill a guy with a shower curtain, call himself “the wolf” for no discernible reason, and threaten to murder the entire family of an innocent shopkeeper who SAVED HIS LIFE. It has a 4% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is generous.

Damon Wayans in “Major Payne”

The idea of getting a wounded Marine’s mind off a shoulder wound by breaking his pinky is something only Major Payne could make funny. That and comforting a child with a hell-torn Fallujah version of “The Little Engine that Could.” This movie is silly. This movie is stupid. But so are you if you don’t laugh at it.

Alan Alda in “M*A*S*H”

Uh oh, this one’s not even a movie–don’t care— there’s no way a list about the funniest war characters was going to leave out M*A*S*H. While there are probably 3-4 characters from M*A*S*H that could make the list (I’ll give you a hint, one wears a dress, and it’s not Margaret Houlihan). However, Alan Alda is so effortlessly sarcastic in this, that he left an impression on all dads in the US born between 1950-1969 with a TV.

Donald Sutherland in “Kelly’s Heroes”

I don’t think my father would continue to claim me as his own if I didn’t include Kelly’s Heroes on here. Donald Sutherland as “Oddball” is an offbeat performance which really captures the existentialism of conflict. Some men are fighting, some men are repairing a downed vehicle–Oddball is just “drinking wine and eating cheese and catching some rays, ya know?”

Sam Elliot in “We Were Soldiers”

“Good morning Sgt. Major.” … “How do you know what kind of God damn day it is?” Sam Elliot (a.k.a the voice in those “Coors Banquet Beer” commercials) keeps this entire movie on its feet by his rugged portrayal of the hilariously pissed off Sgt. Major Plumley. Plus his voice sounds like beef jerky tastes.

Robert Downey Jr. in “Tropic Thunder”

“I know who I am. I’m a dude playing a dude disguised as another dude.” This line alone about sums up Robert Downey Jr.’s “Tropic Thunder” performance. One of only three other Oscar-nominated performances on this list (almost, Cuba), Robert Downey’s ballsy meta performance is as controversial as it is hilarious.

Robin Williams in “Good Morning Vietnam”

This one is just a requirement. Like it feels like if it wasn’t on here, there would (rightfully) be an uproar. Not to say that Robin Williams isn’t hysterical in this–he is. In fact, he’s so good that it’s an unexciting pick. It’s like, duh, Good Morning Vietnam is amazing, and Robin Williams is unbelievably funny. And he improvised a lot of it. It should be higher, but this list is subjective, and nothing matters.

Bill Murray in “Stripes”

This role spawned (or popularized, rather) an entire archetype in comedies–the slack off reluctantly leading a rebellion of misfits. Bill Murray’s portrayal of John Winger is played seemingly with a wink to the audience throughout the whole movie. The character was even adapted by Dan Harmon as the lead in the popular series “Community” and named “Jeff Winger.”

Peter Sellers, Peter Sellers, and Peter Sellers in “Dr. Strangelove”

Everything is up for debate except for this spot. Peter Sellers plays three completely unique and separate characters, and they all have made me spackle my laptop screen with Doritos bits with laughter. The scene where Peter Sellers plays “Dr.Strangelove” an obvious Nazi scientist who is eternally fighting against one arm that is permanently possessed with exaltation for the Third Reich. It is physical comedy at its purest form. Legend has it that this scene is the only thing that has ever made Stanley Kubrick laugh on set–and apparently to tears. Even in the final cut, you can see some background actors bite their lips to stop smiling, and hear stifled laughter.

www.youtube.com

MIGHTY GAMING

How this video game was one of the best Army recruiting tools

The U.S. Army Recruitment Command has always struggled to find new and innovative ways to connect with the ever-evolving youth. A poster of Uncle Sam saying he “wants you for the U.S. Army” may have worked wonders for one generation, but in 2002, young adults needed something new. The answer was a video game: America’s Army.


Conceived by Colonel Casey Wardynski, the Army’s Chief Economist and a professor at West Point, the idea was to provide the public with a virtual soldier experience that was engaging, informative, and entertaining. Wardynski felt that the best way to convey this was through the booming video-game market.

(U.S. Army)

America’s Army approached the market in a pretty unique way (by 2002 standards). First of all, it was completely free to play — all it required to get started was an internet connection. The game was developed, published, and distributed entirely within the U.S. Army and was built upon the Unreal Engine.

The next major selling point was the game’s realism. When the first iteration of America’s Army was released, many of its competitors were over-the-top action games, like Grand Theft Auto: Vice City or 007: Nightfire. Others popular titles of the time, like Splinter Cell or Ghost Recon, portrayed the military in a fun but unrealistic manner.

The game makes it realistic by having a Drill Sergeant scream at you after you load into Fort Benning. 10/10.
(U.S. Army)

America’s Army went in a different direction. It put a heavy emphasis on little things. The focus was on immersion rather than spectacle. The game’s tutorial, for example, placed you with a virtual Drill Sergeant and gave pointers on real-world weapon etiquette — things more important to real life than to the game itself. The game also focused on the Army’s seven core values.

Realism wasn’t just about details, though — it was about gameplay. For example, being shot in the leg would make your character go limp and slug around. The game even went into great depth regarding practical medical aid lessons, and has since been credited with saving lives after a player remembered skills developed in-game as he approached a horrific car accident.

The lesson was given via the most, uh, accurate-to-real-Army-life wayu00a0possible… Powerpoint.
(U.S. Army)

Above all, the game was enjoyable. It’s hard to find accurate recruitment numbers related to the game as it was released on the first 4th of July following the September 11th attacks, but the game was highly decorated within the gaming community and even earned Computer Gaming World Magazine’s Editor’s Choice Award in 2002.

To this day, the series continues to be free-to-play. The 2015 release of America’s Army: Proving Grounds still has an active player base.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why finding war allegories in Tolkien’s work is complicated

There’s an old saying within the writer’s world. “Write what you know.” Meaning that every artist should always put a bit of their own life experiences into their creations to help create the feeling that the world they’re creating is real enough – regardless of its fictional setting. This is especially important when it comes to analyzing works created by war veterans when they tell stories dealing with war.

This leads us to literature’s biggest question about authorial intent: Is The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien an allegory for WWI? From the mouth of Tolkien himself, it’s not. Yet scholars still debate this.

The honest answer is that it’s much deeper than a surface level “the orcs are really these guys” and “the ring actually means this thing.”


If you’re still not convinced… If the One Ring was about the bomb, then the eagles would have definitely been the ones to drop the Ring in Mt. Doom and not about the struggles of two hobbits going in on foot.

(United States Department of Energy)

The novel was released in 1954, and, as people do, there was speculation that it was about either World War I or World War II. The straight-forward nature of Sauron being purely evil and the works of the Fellowship purely good puzzled Tolkien’s life-long friend and Jesuit priest, Father Robert Murray, who also questioned if it was a message about Christianity – since Tolkien himself was a devout Catholic.

His response to both was included into the forward to the second edition of The Lord of the Rings, which Tolkien has this to say:

As for any inner meaning or ‘message,’ it has in the intention of the author none. It is neither allegorical nor topical…. I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence.

Later on in life, many questioned if the One Ring was also symbolic of atomic weapons. This is easily debunked by the simple fact that he began writing The Lord of the Rings in 1934 – many years before the Manhattan Project was even known.

Need to come up with a war-torn hellscape that’s riddled with death and decay? Tolkien’s mind went to the worst hell he could imagine: the swamped trenches of the Battle of the Somme.

(Warner Bros.)

In Tolkien’s eyes, his work were, and always should be viewed as, a fairy tale. This is why the chapters of The Hobbit feel slightly disconnected from each other – because they’re meant to be bedtime story-sized chunks to read to children at night.

When it came time for his magnum opus, The Lord of the Rings, it was intended as a more mature follow-up to that world while still holding true to its fairy tale spirit. Sauron is the unequivocal embodiment of evil. Frodo Baggins, though flawed and unlikely to be the hero, was a nuanced embodiment of good. The core of the series is always that good, no matter where it comes from, will always triumph over evil.

The debate lies in the unexpected journey of how that happens, which brings us back to writing what you know.

To be fair, this place would be what Tolkien’s friend Father Murray may have called an allegory for Heaven.

(Warner Bros.)

As every combat veteran can tell you, war is a hell that you can never really get out of your mind. Tolkien himself saw his two best friends die within the first day of combat, a first aid station he was at destroyed with many inside, and he would be sent back to the rear for health reasons. He would eventually learn his battalion, and everyone he knew would be destroyed by the end of the war.

Tolkien’s survivor’s guilt would haunt him throughout the rest of his life. This is reflected in the most powerful moment of The Lord of the Rings – Frodo’s return to the Shire. Frodo lost many of his friends along the way. What was once a happy, cheery little town felt alien to him. He couldn’t just slip back in like nothing had happened because, it did. His scars healed but still hurt while his mind wandered. This is not unlike what happened to Tolkien, but it’s not unique to him.

But this isn’t where Frodo’s story ends. Neither is it for every returning veteran. For all of his good deeds, Frodo is allowed passage into the Undying Lands. He can be free of his pain and know that he fought the good fight. His battles with his trauma were over. This pained and injured hero can finally have his happy ending.

There is no allegory for the pure good and pure evil of The Lord of the Rings. The Orcs weren’t the Germans (from either war), and the Hobbits weren’t the peaceful Welsh. The story is meant to be interpreted by anyone who sees themselves in Frodo’s shoes (well, in the metaphorical sense. Hobbits never wear shoes.)

Tolkien wrote the fairy tale he’d have wanted to hear as a returning veteran. To be told that no matter where you’re from, no matter how big or small, no matter the pain you endure, no matter the friends you lose along the way, your story will eventually have a happy ending.

This is the basis for the Fox Searchlight film Tolkien about how his life experiences influenced his writing. Check it out in theaters May 19th.

MIGHTY MOVIES

The new LEGO Star Destroyer is the same size the ‘real’ one

The first spaceship ever on-screen in a Star Wars movie was Princess Leia’s little Rebel blockade runner, the Tantive IV. But, the first spaceship everyone remembers on-screen in Star Wars is the giant Imperial Star Destroyer that was chasing Leia’s ship. In the world of Star Wars, an Imperial Star Destroyer is about 5,200 ft long, but a new LEGO version of the dreaded starship consists of 4,784 pieces and is 43 inches long. Basically, at 3.5 feet-long, this Star Destroyer is bigger than your average toddler.


Interestingly, though the new LEGO Star Destroyer doesn’t come close to the fictional length of a Star Destroyer in Star Wars (that’s like four Empire State Buildings) this new toy is almost exactly the same size of the very first Star Destroyer used during the filming of Star Wars in 1976. The shooting-model of the first Star Destroyer was about 48 inches, or 4 feet long, and this new LEGO Star Destroyer is also 43 inches and 3.5 feet long. So, this Star Destroyer is almost exactly as big as the first real Star Destroyer IRL!

So, saying this LEGO set is big is kind of an understatement. But now, if you decide to buy it (fork over 9.00!) you can tell your kid that it’s pretty much to scale of what you see in a real Star Wars movie. And yes, the new Star Destroyer comes with a Blockade Runner, too!

LEGO version of Rebel Blockade Runner.

Maybe it’s time to make some home movies?

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

No one will stand the heat like a soldier in the kitchen

 

Consider the values that military service instills. Honor. Purpose. Prestige. Service members wake up with a daily mission to embody those values and while on active duty, they are provided the means and the circumstances to do so.


But when they leave the service, does the drive to live by military values diminish? Veterans across the country will assure you, it does not. That’s why the transition back to civilian life is such a hot topic. Finding a new outlet for warrior values is a bear that every veteran has to wrestle and tame.

From fighting Fascism to fighting Fast Food: veteran chefs of the Culinary Institute of America. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

So what if there was a school whose founding mission was to teach returning veterans the skills necessary to put those values to work? As it turns out, that school exists. It’s the Culinary Institute of America and it was founded to teach returning WWII vets the fighting arts of gourmet cooking.

The troops, lined up for inspection. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

Meals Ready To Eat host August Dannehl visited Hyde Park, NY, to get a first hand taste of daily operations at CIA.

It sure beats latrine duty. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

What he found there was an atmosphere of rigor, discipline, and sky high expectations — in other words, a culinary boot camp. And why not? A busy kitchen is its own kind of battlefield and cooks are the troops who serve there. At CIA, students, including notable veterans, learn what it takes to become a new generation of American chefs.

 

Watch more Meals Ready To Eat:

These military chefs will make you want to re-enlist

This veteran farmer will make you celebrate your meat

What happens when a firefighter’s secret identity is revealed

This Galley Girl will make you want to join the Coast Guard

This is the food Japanese chefs invented after their nation surrendered to the Allies

MIGHTY MOVIES

Marvel gives fans first look at Loki’s spin-off TV show

Disney is aiming to make Disney+ an essential, if not the essential, streaming service by taking advantage of its extensive collection of properties. That means a robust selection of old titles like, oh, the entire Disney vault along with new shows inspired by proven franchises that Disney either created or acquired. That’s why we have the first-ever live-action Star Wars series, a Monsters, Inc. series, and a slew of shows set in the Marvel Cinematic Multiverse to look forward to. Now, we’re getting our first look at one of the most highly anticipated of those Marvel shows, Loki.

Disney just released photos from its Investor Day event, which took place on April 11, 2019. It was at this event that the details of the service were announced, and one photo shows Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige — the man as responsible for the MCU as anyone — talking to the audience with an image from Loki behind him.


The photo is frustratingly out of focus, but there are still plenty of clues for Marvel fans to pour over.

(Disney)

It shows a blurry figure resembling Tom Hiddleston — reprising the titular role — walking in front of what looks like an AMC Gremlin, next to the trunk of a less distinctive car with a similarly retro aesthetic. The cars match the vintage coats worn by a man and a woman walking away from the camera.

But the reason we’re confident that at least part of Loki will take place in the 1970s is the marquee behind Hiddleston. It reads JAWS in big red letters. Spielberg’s fourth film hit theaters in 1975, so the marquee matches the time period of the rest of the clues and offers a bit more specificity.

When we last saw Loki, he was in 2012 New York, a time and place before his death in Infinity War. He teleports away using the Time Stone, a move that, according to Joe Russo, creates a branched reality.

So our best guess is that the series will take place in that reality, one that takes place in the past and, if the Hollywood Reporter is right, will show him as he “pops up throughout human history as an unlikely influencer on historical events.”

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