It’s one of the most cinematic forms of storytelling in war or action movies. Morale is down and all of the dejected troops look up to their great leader, the protagonist of the film, to deliver some sage words of wisdom and inspire them onto the pathway to glory.
We, the audience, know that the protagonist is more than likely going to win the battle and we can assume that, in real life, there’s no speech powerful enough to miraculously change troops’ minds about wanting to, you know, not die. That being said, whenever we see our sublime hero stand in front of their troops and deliver one hell of a speech, it gets our blood pumping.
And don’t just take our word for it — the films that feature the top four speeches on this list also swept the Oscars when they were released. Critics and moviegoers both love a powerful, pre-battle speech.
Ragnar Lothbrok — ‘Vikings’
There’s a disconnect between Hollywood and actual warfare. Normally, before a gigantic battle or fight, a leader won’t stand in front of their warfighters and give a rousing speech. The fight is just moments away — there’s no time to wax eloquent. In History’s Vikings, they get it right.
This is typically how pre-battle speeches typically go down in real life: “Don’t do anything stupid. Let’s kill the enemy. Here’s a a few tactics we should follow.”
In the brief speech below, delivered during the first episode of the series, we get a good look at how these speeches probably looked during the viking golden age.
Agent Maya — ‘Zero Dark Thirty’
This one also falls under the “how it actually happens” category. The fact is, the closest that pre-battle speeches usually get to the front lines is on base, miles away. The speech outlines mission objectives and is (typically) subject to questions/snarky comments from the people going into the fight.
There is honestly no better example in film history of this actually being done right than in Zero Dark Thirty, moments before SEAL Team Six flies out to finally get Osama Bin Laden. The speech is even complete with a “he’s there… and you’re going to kill him for me.”
President Whitmore — ‘Independence Day’
The world is under attack by hostile aliens and it’s up to the what remains of the military to stop them. Realistically, there’s no chance at survival, but just the right people are listening in to this speech, gaining the strength to fight on.
Not only does the speech unite everyone that’s about to go fight the aliens, but it also calls for human to unite and stand together. And you know, it also includes one of the best title drops in cinematic history.
General Maximus — ‘Gladiator’
Character introductions are one of the hardest parts of a script to write. The audience needs to know, in an instant, who a character was before the movie started, what we need to know about them now, and why they deserve to be the main character. There is perhaps no greater introduction than the one for Roman General Maximus, shown at the height of his power
After making sure that everything is going according to plan, Maximus has a little time to joke with his troops and tells them that he will be going back to his farm. It takes Maximus all of twenty seconds to put instill his men with pride and confidence as the enemy rides ever nearer.
General George S. Patton — ‘Patton’
This speech is far deeper than most people realize today. Yeah, it’s technically being given to the Third Army right before battle, but the film, instead, depicts it as being delivered in a theater.
That’s because the speech isn’t being directed at the troops. It’s directed at the audience, 1970s movie-going America. It’s brilliantly re-purposed and given a new meaning by being presented in a way that highlighted much of the uncertainty and debate surrounding the then-ongoing Vietnam War.
Aragorn — ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’
Everything in the Lord of the Rings leads up to one moment. A gathering all of the living warriors across Middle-Earth is charged with taking down the unstoppable scourge of Sauron’s forces. While the audience knows that Frodo and Sam are alright, Aragorn and his men believe them to be dead. They believe that Frodo has been killed, the ring was not destroyed, and it is instead in the hands of the enemy.
In their eyes, there was no way to win. They were all gathered just to die in front of the Black Gates. But not this day. They may all die, but they’ll make a valorous attempt to survive, spurned on by Aragorn’s courage.
William Wallace — ‘Braveheart’
William Wallace had finally banded the clans of Scotland together to finally make their stand against the English, but when they see the massive army they’re going against, they lose the will to fight. They come to the sudden realization that this “mythical” William Wallace that was supposed to lead them in battle is a mere man and, just as quickly, everyone wants to go home.
This is the perfect example of how the pre-war speech is supposed to go down. It’s up to William Wallace to remind everyone that there is no going back. There is no alternative to fighting, even if it means many of them will die. But if they die, they’ll go knowing they were slain for freedom.
Mel Gibson has returned to the director’s chair after a 10-year hiatus with the WWII epic “Hacksaw Ridge.”
The film tells the tale of real-life Army medic Desmond Doss. Torn between his conscientious objection to violence and his desire to serve his country in its time of greatest need, Doss joined the Army as a medic but refused to carry a weapon.
Despite suspicion and contempt from his fellow soldiers, Doss repeatedly braved danger and even disobeyed orders to make sure his countrymen made it home alive. Doss received the Medal of Honor for his actions, one of only three conscientious objectors to ever do so.
Gibson is no stranger to the classic American war film, having previously starred in “We Were Soldiers” and “The Patriot.” “Hacksaw Ridge” is the actor’s first directing outing since 2006’s “Apocalypto,” but that film and 1995’s “Braveheart” proved Gibson is right at home capturing epic battles on film.
“Hacksaw Ridge” is now playing in theaters nationwide. Watch the trailer below.
Author’s note: If you haven’t seen “The Mandalorian” yet, go watch it and come back — spoilers ahead. For the rest of you: this is the way.
The internet has been buzzing about “The Mandalorian,” the “Star Wars” series that follows a Mandalorian bounty hunter (of the same tribe and iconic armor as Boba Fett) who finds a young, force-sensitive creature who looks like a baby Yoda. The series hasn’t just produced a slew of new memes, it’s crushed the ratings on several platforms — IMDB has it at an 8.9, and Rotten Tomatoes rates it at 94 percent on the Tomatometer (with an audience score of 93 percent).
It has all the familiar, nostalgic elements of “Star Wars” — spectacular scenes in space, fun action-adventure, weird creatures, the conflict of good and evil, and, of course, the force. However, “The Mandalorian” also includes a host of cowboy movie tropes, which adds a freshness to the story. It’s not like any old Western we’ve seen — after all, it’s set in space with little alien wizards. It’s also not a repeat of other “Star Wars” stories because it’s basically an old Western set in a fantasy universe.
We can’t publish an article on “The Mandalorian” without showing “the child” at least once.
(Photo courtesy of Disney+)
In order to understand old Western films, we need to understand where they came from. Many of the old Western tropes are American, but some are borrowed from older Japanese cinema. The obvious connection is the Japanese classic “Seven Samurai” being remade into the American cowboy classic “The Magnificent Seven.” While this is the most famous connection between the two genres, it’s not the only one. The music, the stories, the filmmaking techniques — watch any film by Akira Kurosawa and you’ll see elements of the Western left and right.
“The Mandalorian” borrows from both.
It makes sense to begin with the Mandalorian’s religion — his weapons. Our protagonist carries around his handheld blaster and a disintegration rifle (known as a modified Amban Rifle). These are clearly the equivalent of a revolver and a rifle, the cowboy’s typical loadout in most Westerns. Mando generally draws and fires his blaster from the hip, just like the classic Wild West draw. Any bigger weapons brought onto the battlefield are typically large, mounted weapons — the equivalent of the evil antagonist breaking out a Gatling gun mounted to a train or on a tripod. The lasso is another quintessential tool for the cowboy of old Westerns — depicted in “The Mandalorian” by his grappling line. Mando wraps a few enemies up in his “lasso” throughout the story, hog-tying his targets.
Several specific moments also call directly back to the films of the Wild West. For example, the classic “horse whisperer” scene where Mando tames and breaks a blurrg. He is bucked and thrown as the wise, old man watches from the edge of the corral. Finally, our hero mounts the beast and they ride into a few sunsets together.
We mentioned that the Japanese film “Seven Samurai” was the direct inspiration for “The Magnificent Seven” — both films feature bandits who are hell bent on raiding a village, forcing the townspeople to enlist the help of some elite warriors to train them and defend them against the next onslaught. Sound familiar? This same story played out in a chapter of “The Mandalorian” with some unique, sci-fi twists — we don’t remember an AT-ST in “Seven Samurai.”
The comparisons are obvious.
(Photo courtesy of Disney+.)
On top of congruent storylines, one of the most significant ways that Japanese cinema inspired old Westerns was with its music; “Star Wars” also features some of the most iconic music in film history. Ludwig Goransson’s score of “The Mandalorian” fuses the two by combining elements from old Westerns (and perhaps old Japanese films) like the heavy beating of drums with “primitive” sounding percussion, bizarre flutes, and interesting stringed instruments. The hollow melody of the main title would be just as at home if it was played over a lone gunslinger in the Wild West, riding off to save a small town from nefarious bandits. The score cloaks the Mandalorian himself in a shroud of mystery.
Start with some old Japanese film score elements, mix in a bit of Ennio Morricone, then top it off with heavy sprinkles of classic “Star Wars” sweeping scores — and you’ve got yourself a soundtrack fit for the halls of Mandalore.
“The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly” (left), and “The Mandalorian.”
(Photos courtesy of United Artists and Disney+.)
The setting and wardrobe also highlight the connection of this magical, dystopian science-fiction narrative to the Wild West. Most of the events in “The Mandalorian” are set in barren places — not on the lavish planet of Naboo or the bustling cities of Coruscant, but out in the lawless desert where guns and criminals abound. And Pedro Pascal (the Mandalorian) sports a cape eerily similar to how Clint Eastwood wears his poncho in classics like “A Few Dollars More” and “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” Instead of high-tech visors, many of the inhabitants of these barren locations wear old-school goggles, and they wear their blasters low on their hip just like the cowboys we know from the Old West. The Mandalorian even keeps rounds strung across his chest — one wouldn’t expect the need for that in a science-fiction universe, but it all falls in line with the classic Western aesthetic.
A lot of old Westerns are films about rugged individualism. They follow rough characters who have to navigate their way through an even rougher world. The protagonist then finds at least one redeeming aspect about the unforgiving, desolate landscape on which they fight — something precious among the thorns. Upon that discovery, the cowboy or lawman or mercenary finds that their ability to fight, to be strong, to kill — it all suddenly has meaning — it suddenly turns into the ability to protect a village, a woman, a friend… or a child.
Jon Favreau has taken a beloved franchise and breathed new life into it by fusing it with these classic elements from old Western films, and it’s been a wild success. Audiences around the world have expressed how thrilled they are at this new installment of “Star Wars,” and I, for one, can’t wait for the second season.
Embedded With Special Forces in Afghanistan | Part 2
Bravery is a thing you see every day in the military. In all branches, in moments great and small, it’s an expression of the fundamental courage it takes to put your life on the line for love of country and to serve those you swore to protect.
Former Navy SEAL David Meadows proved exemplary in this capacity, serving 11 years in some of the harshest theaters of war throughout the Middle East.
But unlike many of his fellow Oscar Mike alumni, Meadows chose, upon reentry, to translate his habituated bravery into a civilian arena that would, honestly, make most servicemen and women want to crawl out of their natural born skins…
Yeah, he became an actor.
And we can tell you from experience that there are few professions that require a more constant personal brokerage with public shame, mortal embarrassment, insecurity, and rejection — in short, all of the types of feelings that normal people avoid like their lives depend on it.
Being the Special Ops-trained bad ass that he is, though, Meadows surveyed this new theater of war and then dove in head first. Acting for a living takes guts.
“I think that if there is a magic left in the world…it’s really for a person to be affected, to be changed — by one human being actually affecting somebody else on a really human, natural, soulful level. Does that make sense? And performing artists have that power. And I thought…that’s absolutely amazing. And I want to be a part of that.”
To get a taste of the kind of courage an actor has to muster every day, Oscar Mike host Ryan Curtis visited Meadows at his acting studio in Los Angeles and submitted himself to a battery of drills that actors employ to help them behave truthfully under imaginary circumstances.
Each exercise is designed to increase physical sensitivity, dial up emotional availability, and to inure actors to the fear of ridicule that can shut them down at crucial moments. Like all high-stakes training, it’s effective — but it ain’t pretty.
Today’s lesson is clear: in a successful civilian life, emotional bravery matters. But you don’t have to take our word for it, you can just watch as Curtis cracks under the pressure and and begs to postpone the big payoff in the video embedded at the top.
This article was sponsored by WGN America. Be sure to tune in to the All-Day All-Night M*A*S*H Marathon, Saturday, December 8th, starting at 9am/8am central.
The millennials out there know what I’m talking about. As kids, nothing made you keenly aware that your TV-watching session had run well past your bedtime quite like those distinctive opening chords and telltale yellow letters that meant a rerun of your parents’ favorite show was coming on.
But now that we’re all grown up and don’t need a constant stream of slapstick comedy, cutesy characters, and teenage drama to sustain our attention, it’s time to revisit and start binge watching one of the greatest television shows ever made — and I promise your dad didn’t tell me to write this.
Before you dive in (you’ll thank me later), here’s what you need to know to start watching M*A*S*H.
Inside a real MASH operating room during the Korean War, from a real-world Korean War doctor, Dr. Robert L. Emanuele of Chicago.
(Photo by Dr. Robert L. Emanuele)
A MASH was a real thing
In the Korean War, a MASH unit was a frontline medical unit, a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. Wounded troops would be treated by a medic or corpsman, then taken to an aid station if necessary. Once there, if they needed more care, they would be evacuated, sometimes by the newly-developed helicopter, to a MASH for surgery. These units were as close as ten miles to the front.
What later became a movie and a legendary TV show, M*A*S*H got its start as a book, written by Richard Hornberger under the pen name Richard Hooker. Hornberger was a real-life surgeon in a MASH unit and the book documented a few things the author says were based on real events — though he never says which ones.
While the setting of the series is important, it’s all the characters that really drive the show. Here’s who you’ll meet:
Alan Alda as Hawkeye Pierce.
Capt. Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce
Hawkeye is a talented surgeon and pacifist from Maine who was drafted at the outset of the Korean War. He won’t use a weapon but he’ll let himself be sent to the front line if it means it’ll save a life. Like almost everyone in the 4077th, he enjoys a drink after work, even going as far as constructing a still in his tent, nicknamed “the Swamp.” His nickname comes from the book, The Last of the Mohicans.
Wayne Rogers plays Trapper John.
Capt. “Trapper” John McIntyre
Trapper is Hawkeye’s best friend on the camp for the first three seasons of the show (actor Wayne Rogers left the series after season three) before being replaced by Capt. BJ Hunnicutt. Trapper, a former football player at Dartmouth, was drafted from a hospital in Boston and was sent home from Korea before the end of the first year. He shares a tent with Hawkeye and Maj. Frank Burns, and spends his spare time drinking and chasing nurses.
Loretta Swit as Maj. Houlihan.
Maj. Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan
Major Houlihan is the chief nurse at the 4077th, a career member of the Army Nurse Corps, and a military brat – her father was an artillery officer. She’s a by-the-book kind of officer and the most capable nurse in the OR, but she’s carrying on an illegal relationship with Maj. Frank Burns.
With Frank, she is constantly battling the practical jokes from Hawkeye and Trapper and doesn’t respect the leadership style of the 4077th’s commander, Lt. Col. Henry Blake, who she is constantly trying to undermine.
Larry Linville as Major Burns.
Maj. Frank Burns
In the U.S., Frank Burns is an Army reservist with his own successful practice who married into a wealthy family in Indiana. In Korea, Major Burns is carrying on an illicit affair with Major Houlihan and, with her, trying to undermine the authority of Lt. Col. Blake. Despite his higher rank, Burns isn’t respected as a doctor, having flunked out of medical school twice. His actions in and out of the operating room reflect his ineptitude in medicine and in life.
McLean Stevenson as Lt. Col. Blake.
Lt. Col. Henry Blake
Henry Blake is an Army reservist and the commanding officer of the 4077th who was sent to Korea after asking a general if he took cream and sugar with a coffee enema. Blake is also a skilled surgeon but a chronic alcoholic. He’s a friend to Hawkeye and Trapper and puts medical needs ahead of Army formalities. He knows he’s not the best choice to be a commander of anything, but asserts his authority when needed.
Blake was sent home in the third season of the show and replaced by Col. Sherman Potter for the rest of the series. But the producers famously wrote a final scene into the third season finale that only Alan Alda knew about as they were filming the episode. It wasn’t until they finished shooting the regular script that the actors were told, and they filmed the final scene where Radar announces that Henry Blake’s plane was shot down over the Sea of Japan.
Cpl. Walter “Radar” O’Reilly
Gary Burghoff was the only actor to play his character in both the 1970 M*A*S*H film and the CBS television show. He’s the company’s enlisted clerk, and one of the only two enlisted recurring characters, the other being Cpl. Max Klinger. His nickname comes from the fact that he acts on orders before they’re given and can predict things before they happen.
Cpl. Maxwell Klinger
Corporal Klinger was only supposed to be an extra in one episode, but viewers loved Jamie Farr’s character so much he was brought back in the regular cast for the rest of the show. Klinger was drafted from Toledo, Ohio, and is constantly looking for ways to get kicked out of the Army, most famously trying to be considered crazy and get a section eight discharge for wearing women’s clothes.
Capt. B.J. Hunnicutt
Captain Hunnicutt was a young doctor fresh out of residency when he was drafted and replaced Trapper John at the beginning of the show’s fourth season. Where most of the other doctors are loose with their morals when it comes to women and war, Capt. Hunnicutt is true to his wife and the Hippocratic Oath.
He still enjoys having drinks with his colleagues, though.
Col. Sherman Potter
Colonel Sherman Potter is also a fourth season replacement, coming in for the dearly departed Lt. Col. Blake. Unlike Blake, Potter is a career U.S. Army surgeon who pays closer adherence to Army regulations – though hardly as strict as Maj. Houlihan and Maj. Burns would like. He fought in World War I as an enlisted cavalry troop at age 15 who was captured by the Germans. He later earned a commission after going to medical school in the years between World Wars. He was also in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.
It’s not known how old Col. Potter is during the Korean War.
Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester III
Major Winchester is a classically-trained physician and surgeon from an aristocratic family who isn’t accustomed to the “meatball surgery” performed at a MASH unit. He enters the show in season six as a replacement for Frank Burns who went crazy after Maj. Houlihan got married to someone else and was promoted out of the Korean War for it.
Winchester gets stuck at the 4077th after winning so much money betting against his commanding officer in Tokyo that his CO exiles him to the Korean War. He’s a much smarter, more conniving foil to Hawkeye and BJ’s antics.
Father Mulcahy is an Irish-Catholic chaplain at the 4077th and is surprisingly non-judgemental about the extramarital affairs of the unit’s doctors and nurses. Even though most of the staff is not religious (and Klinger is an avowed atheist), everyone treats the Chaplain with respect – even more because he tends to win all the base betting contests and poker games.
Things like not saluting superior officers.
So, how do Army officers get away with all this stuff?
As you can imagine, talented surgeons were hard to find in the Army. Of course some existed, but in a war like the Korean War, the numbers of military surgeons working on the front lines were augmented by conscription – in other words, they were drafted. The doctors of a MASH unit were doctors first, then Army officers if time allowed.
Now that you’ve read this primer, the only thing left to do is dive into the show and experience it for yourself. And believe me, there’s a reason why the show captured the attention of an entire generation of TV fans.
Be sure to tune in to the All-Day All-Night M*A*S*H Marathon, Saturday, December 8th, starting at 9am/8am central.
With the long-awaited “Top Gun” sequel now delayed until the world is finished contending with the coronavirus, we’re left with no alternative but to revisit the 1986 classic for the millionth time, and as may come as no surprise to you, it still holds up. The story of Pete “Maverick” Mitchel has all the hallmarks of a modern blockbuster: fantastic action sequences, cheesy moments that make you smile despite yourself, and of course, topless volleyball.
There are, however, a few burning questions that set in as you watch Tom Cruise’s Maverick demonstrate very clearly that he should be immediately pulled from flight duty for the umpteenth time. The first is… Just who exactly are they fighting? The movie never clearly indicates whether the enemy fighters are Russian, Chinese, North Korean, or otherwise. As Brad Howard at Task & Purpose points out, even the red star on the tail of the enemy fighters doesn’t quite match any national Air Force… but it does match the color scheme utilized by the VFC-13 Aggressor Squadron. In other words, the terrifying enemy fighters may have been rocking aggressor colors because that’s exactly the role they fill in real life, just as they do in the movies.
With that mystery effectively solved, the next one to creep into your mind is… Wait a minute, are MiG-28s real?
When I was a kid, I knew the names of a handful of fighter jets, but practically nothing of the Mikoyan MiG production line. At the time, those little black MiG-28s just looked more acrobatic than the larger F-14 Tomcat, really emphasizing the idea in my mind that American pilots needed to be better than the competition in order to come out on top. It didn’t occur to me that Paramount Pictures probably didn’t get the Kremlin’s permission to borrow a few of their intercept fighters for what could arguably be called an American propaganda film.
The truth is, the MiG-28 that Maverick and Goose can’t tell you about (it’s classified) is not a real aircraft at all… it was made up specifically for the purposes of the movie.
Okay, so that’s not technically true: The aircraft you see depicted at the MiG-28 in “Top Gun” is a real aircraft, it’s just not a MiG. Heck, it’s not even Russian. It’s actually another fighter in the U.S. arsenal called the Northrop F-5 Tiger II.
The MiG-28 is supposed to be a twin-engine fighter that’s slightly slower than the F-14 Tomcat but considered to be far more maneuverable. In that regard, these fake MiGs are probably intended to stand in for the very real and similarly twin-engine Soviet MiG-29, which is indeed a bit slower than the F-14, but boasts a better thrust-to-weight ratio and is seen as more acrobatic. In video games based on the movie, the fictional MiG-28 is actually replaced by the real Mig-29, seemingly confirming its role as a stand in for the real jet.
On-screen, the small Northrop F-5 just looks more nimble than the larger F-14s, and with good reason. The F-5 measures up at just over 48 feet long, eight feet shorter than a real MiG-29, and more than 14 feet shorter than the F-14 Tomcat. Wingspan tells a similar story, with the F-5 (MiG-28) coming in at just under 27 feet, the MiG-29 at more than 37 feet, and the swing-wing F-14 measuring more than 64 feet. The decision to use the F-5 as a stand-in as the fictional MiG-28 definitely does the premise justice, making the MiG-28 and F-14 feel like two fighters with very different strengths on screen.
The F-5 may fit the aesthetic bill of a smaller and more maneuverable fighter, but when compared to its real-life counterpart in the MiG-29, the F-5 doesn’t quite keep pace. The MiG-29’s top speed is Mach 2.5, whereas the designer imposter F-5 can only reach a still respectable Mach 1.63. The Mi-29 can also cover far more ground, with a range of 890 miles compared to the F-5’s 554.
In terms of armament, the real MiG-29 isn’t that far off from its fictional cousin. The F-5 boasts the same number of hardpoints (seven) and carries, among other weapons, the AIM-9 Sidewinder missile for air-to-air engagements. According to the movie, the MiG-28 carries Vympel K-13 (NATO reporting name “AA-2 Atoll”) missiles, which are real Soviet missiles developed by reverse-engineering the America’s Sidewinder. Instead of a single 30mm cannon, however, the F-5/MiG-28 utilizes two 20mm M39A2 Revolver cannons.
It wasn’t just filmmakers who saw the Northrop F-5 as a worthy stand-in for Soviet aircraft. Throughout the 1970s and 80s, F-5s served in multiple aggressor squadrons, including the 64th and 65th aggressor squadrons out of Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. Although, it’s worth noting that the F-5 was chosen not because of its similarities to the MiG-29, but rather because it was seen as a suitable stand-in for the older MiG-21. The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps also both operated the F-5 at one point or another.
On March 4, 2019, the long-awaited U.S. premiere of Captain Marvel will take place in Hollywood, California — but it’s going to have a little more shock and awe than a normal film because the Thunderbirds will be sending a formation of six F-16 Fighting Falcons Vipers for a flyover.
“This flyover is a unique moment to honor the men and women serving in the Armed Forces who are represented in Captain Marvel,” said Lt. Col. John Caldwell, the Thunderbirds Commander/Leader. “Being part of this event is a tremendous opportunity, and we look forward to demonstrating the pride, precision, and professionalism of the 660,000 total force Airmen of the U.S. Air Force over the city of Los Angeles.”
Captain Marvel ‘Combat Training’ Featurette with Brie Larson
Watch Brie Larson train with real Air Force pilots
“Thing thing that I found so unique about this character was that sense of humor mixed with total capability in whatever challenge comes her way, which I realized after going to the Air Force base is really what Air Force pilots are like,” said Brie Larson, the titular star of the film.
Captain Marvel is the first solo-female Marvel Cinematic Universe feature-length film, so there is a lot of symbolic meaning built into this release, but the film is also Marvel’s 21st feature in this canon of storytelling and the penultimate story of “Phase Three,” a timeline that began over a decade ago with the 2008 release of Iron Man.
This film will tell the story of Carol Danvers, an Air Force pilot who becomes one of the most powerful beings in the universe, and, as fans (and comic book readers) speculate, perhaps the best hope for defeating Thanos in the upcoming Avengers: Endgame.
[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/BeHYSKxA4mk/?utm_source=ig_embed expand=1]Don on Instagram: “Awesome time today showing the F15C to @brielarson and telling her the history, can’t wait for @captainmarvelmovie to come out!! @marvel…”
During production, the Thunderbirds hosted Larson as well as director Anna Boden for Air Force immersion and an F-16 flight at Nellis Air Force Base. The team also advised on the film to help with authenticity and accuracy.
The Captain Marvel flyover will include six high-performance fighter aircraft flying less than three fee from each other in precise information. It’s not something that the residents of Hollywood see every day, but it’s the kind of sight (and sound) that’s hard to forget.
This kind of immersion bridges the civilian-military divide. Just as Top Gun inspired a generation of aviators, Captain Marvel is going to have effects on military recruitment that will change our generation.
Take a second to admire the precision BECAUSE IT’S CRAZY.
The Thunderbirds welcome and encourage viewers to tag the team on social media in photos and videos of their formation with the hashtags #AFThunderbirds, #CaptainMarvel, and #AirForce – but we want to see them, too. Tag #WeAreTheMighty so we can check out your pics — we’ll be sharing our favorites.
The new trailer for Godzilla: King of Monsters came out and, like other Godzilla movies of the last twenty years, it has one fundamental mistake: it has nothing to do with the extensive lore behind Godzilla and the large cast of supporting (and opposing) monsters.
On one hand, that’s exciting. A fresh take on giant monster fights might be exactly what the Godzilla series needs — and we’re sure it’ll be worth the popcorn money. But on the other hand, it’s a shame that the newer Godzilla films have all moved away from their original, more nuanced meanings.
If you go back and rewatch the original films by Ishiro Honda, in addition to a skyscraper-sized brawl, you’ll get a snapshot of Japan’s post-war foreign relations — if you can properly assemble the metaphors.
You can understand why a McCarthy-era America would tone down the Anti-American sentiment, even if it was delivered through the lens of a giant monster.
First, let’s take it all the way back to 1954’s Godzilla. To be clear, we’re not talking about the Americanized version, which was heavily censored. Instead, we’re talking about the Criterion Collection version, which keeps the original dialogue, strictly translated, and the metaphor very much intact.
For those who haven’t seen it, here’s a summary: Godzilla is a monster, created by American nuclear weapons, that destroys Japanese cities. The film was made just nine years after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and seven years after U.S. troops established dominance over the islands and Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution (the no-armed-forces clause) was enacted.
This context is dramatically underplayed in subsequent films, but the key to understanding the original, unaltered version. Still don’t get it? Godzilla is the American military.
Kinda puts the Godzilla Versus… films into a whole new light when you piece together the metaphors.
While Godzilla once reflected the horrors of nuclear weapons and their wielders, his character arc shifts vastly in the dozens of Godzilla films that followed.
Godzilla later started aiding the people of Japan against other Kaiju (Japanese for “strange beast”) and became a beloved icon. It’s no coincidence that these films cropped up as the Japanese public warmed up to the benefits of the Japan-America Security Alliance. During the Cold War, other nations like the Soviet Union, Communist China, and North Korea started muscling Japan, but America’s presence was enough to keep Japan safe.
Mothra, a giant, moth-like creature, was at first a villain, but became a good guy after the 1965 Treaty of Basic Relations between Japan and South Korea passed. Rodan, a giant pterodactyl beast, debuted around the time Soviet aggression over the Kuril Islands, when the Russians made liberal use of flybys. The arrival of King Ghidorah, the three-headed monster, just so happened to coincide with China’s development of nuclear weapons and the other two communist countries in Asia, North Korea and North Vietnam, taking aggressive stances against Japan.
The secret metaphor behind the American 1994 reboot of Godzilla? That we don’t understand metaphors…
Godzilla, like the United States, was once a hostile, unstoppable force that became the protector of post-war Japan. This metaphor shines through all of the classic movies.
Unfortunately, this metaphor was lost after the Cold War and the subsequent films became simple cash-grabs. So, if you’re looking forward to a fun, explosive, high-stakes action flick, the newest Godzilla is right up your alley. If you’re looking for a little bit of social commentary with your giant monster, revisit the classics.
“Ranger Games,” by former Seattleite Ben Blum, is something of a genre mashup, part journalism and part family memoir.
The journalistic part pieces together, in high definition, the brazen 2007 robbery of a South Tacoma bank by a group of Army Rangers from Fort Lewis. The robbery, Rick Anderson’s coverage of which for Seattle Weekly gets brief mention (“Soldiers of Fortune,” Nov. 29, 2007), is a stranger-than-fiction tale in which a possibly psychopathic Army specialist convinces a “cherry” private and a small group of others that their training makes them well-suited to take out a bank.
As Blum describes it, the robbery sounds like something that would have been fun to watch were you not facing the barrel of one of the AK-47s the robbers hoisted: Rangers vaulting over barriers, calling out precise time checks, and then respectfully thanking everyone when it was done, all within 2 minutes. Astoundingly, the elite soldiers’ dexterous robbery was undone when they drove away, with security cameras watching, in one of their own cars with the license plates in full view. Arrests were made within a day.
None of these details are spoilers, by the way; so rich is this book that the facts of the robbery are dealt with quickly in the first few pages.
Which brings us to the family memoir part of the book: Blum’s insight into this piece of local history is sharpened by the fact that his cousin was one of the robbers—or the get-away driver, to be precise. Pfc. Alex Blum’s Audi with Colorado plates was the team’s undoing, and a large portion of Ranger Games is devoted to Ben Blum trying to figure out how Alex wound up involved in such a fiasco. As described by the author, the Blum family is an all-American sort, which is not necessarily a flattering look: they are wealthy, white, apathetic toward the Iraq War Alex would soon be fighting in, and sitting ducks for the looming housing crisis.
Blum’s portrait of his cousin is unsparing, peppered with quotes that make you kind of hate him. “I play a tough guy on the exterior, but a kid gives me a card, I hang it in my office. He signed it himself, in his little retard writing,” Blum quotes his cousin at one point in full bro mode.
Indeed, it is Ben Blum’s love-hate relationship with his cousin that is the driving tension of the book. The central question is how willing a participant in the robbery Alex was. Through breezy explanations of Ranger culture and prisoner psychology, Blum builds a plausible case that Alex was completely at the mercy of his military chain of command, and so when a superior told him to drive to a bank with a bunch of guns in the back seat he had no choice but to follow orders.
This theory was endorsed by none other than Philip Zimbardo, the psychologist who orchestrated the Stanford Prison Experiment in 1971. At one point, Zimbardo and Alex appeared on the Dr. Phil show to explain how it all worked in Alex’s brain. “So what you’re telling me,” Dr. Phil says at one point, speaking for the entire world, “is that you did not know that you were involved in an armed. Robbery. Of a bank.”
Blum shares Dr. Phil’s skepticism. The author is careful to note the holes in this explanation, and as the book progresses those holes grow and shrink. The book reaches its climax when Blum has an 8-hour interview in a federal penitentiary with Luke Elliott Sommer, the ranger who orchestrated the heist. Blum contemplates whether Sommer is a psychopath—with the help of a clinician from Washington’s McNeal Island—to uncertain results.
What’s clear is the guy is highly manipulative and fucking nuts, a dangerous combo if there ever was one. He was prone to forcing subordinates to do “suicide checks” at Fort Lewis, which entailed giving soldiers a gun and demanding they hold it to their head and pull the trigger, to prove loyalty and trust. Blum writes that he could empathize with those who obeyed the crazy orders.
“At the distance of a small table from Elliott, there was a strange double quality to my consciousness,” Blum says in describing falling into Sommer’s trap, “one half telling myself I could see right through him, the other half helplessly interacting on his terms.”
More than anything else this is a book about uncertainty: Uncertainty in one’s consciousness, in one’s family lore, in Dr. Phil, in what we can call free-will. Uncertainty in why the robbers didn’t cover up the Audi’s license plate.
The Punisher is one of Marvel fans’ all-time favorite antiheroes, giving the corrupt and twisted what they have coming to them. When The Punisher first showed up in comics, Frank Castle was more of a run-and-gun crazy lunatic. But as Castle evolved, so did The Punisher’s tactics.
Early iterations of the character fell into some common Hollywood traps, though.
The film Punisher War Zone was almost near-complete adaptation of The Punisher comics. The film employed crazy, off-the-wall action and run-and-gun tactics — we all know the famous image of Punisher and his two uzis. Though the movie captured The Punisher’s persona, it fell short of its military fans’ expectations.
In 2004’s The Punisher, we saw a more tactical side of Frank Castle. Using a bow to take out opponent after opponent was far more interesting than shooting up a room full of bad guys. This idea kept up with how a special operator would actually work: swiftly, silently, and deadly.
This brings us to the Netflix original series, The Punisher. After watching Daredevil for two seasons, I was so excited The Punisher was getting his own show. Jon Bernthal’s portrayal of Frank Castle was masterful. He clearly knows that many fans of The Punisher are those with ties to the military.
In this first season, we see a modern Punisher setting up improvised explosive devices, placing weapons all around his place of residency, and using shoot-and-move tactics. There is a saying, “movement without shooting is suicide, shooting without movement is a waste of ammo.” How Frank Castle moves with each weapon embodies this expression, showing a level of detail that films typically only mimic.
When Frank Castle explained that he’d rather have a knife than a pistol in certain situations, it had some very sound tactical advice behind it — and made for some really intense action sequences.
The new The Punisher series on Netflix is a good show to binge watch. They took the time to get the tactical concepts right — something refreshing to finally see on-screen.
The major downfall, however, comes when Frank barks and yells. In combat, information is key, so noise discipline is necessary. Barking and loosing a war cry works in some cases, but not every time.
So far, Netflix has done a great job of not making Frank Castle feel so “Hollywood,” making many Marine fans of The Punisher quite happy and ready to move on to the next season.
“Transpecos,” winner of the SXSW Film Festival’s Audience Award, deals with what happens to a Border Patrol agent when he gets dragged to the other side by a drug cartel. It’s an impressive directorial debut from independent filmmaker Greg Kwedar.
Kwedar, whose work includes commercials, documentaries, and short films, took six years to make “Transpecos.” To research the film, he worked with the U.S. Border Patrol, an agency that’s reluctant to share its methods – for good reason. Their mission isn’t just keeping illegal immigrants out of the United States, they’re also fighting a massive, brutal enemy with unlimited funding and firepower, and no rules.
“Transpecos” is the story of three Border Patrol agents, a rookie named Davis (played by Johnny Simmons), a seasoned professional, Flores (Gabriel Luna), and salty veteran Hobbs (Clifton Collins, Jr.). They man a remote checkpoint somewhere near the U.S.-Mexican border. When one stop goes from routine to nightmarish, all three end up fighting for their lives.
“There’s this famous Western line: ‘silver or lead?,'” says Greg Kwedar, the director who co-wrote the script with Clint Bentley. “Money’s not a vulnerability for everyone. They [Border Patrol] have higher standards to live by. The leverage can be their own personal safety or that of their family. If an agent can rise above that then the cartel might say, “Who do you care about? We’ll use them.”
That’s exactly what happens in the film. Drug cartels use an agent’s family to force him to allow shipments of cocaine across the border. The Border Patrol agents find themselves torn between duty and family, between fulfilling their mission and protecting their own.
(Samuel Goldwyn Films)
To get access to the real Border Patrol agents Kwedar and his team went out into the desert and got lost (or pretended to be) in the hopes of finding agents who were on the job — a highly unorthodox and potentially dangerous process.
“Once they realized we weren’t antagonistic, that we really wanted to know more about them and their work, they really opened up to us,” Kwedar says. “They invited us into their world and from that we found real friendships, running the gamut from grabbing a beer in a one-stoplight town to sitting down with their families at dinner.”
The characters – Davis, Flores, and Hobbs – are the heart of the film. The Border Patrol depicted in “Transpecos” could just as well be any military checkpoint or remote combat outpost anywhere in the world. It’s hot and desolate. The guys manning the checkpoint can be just as bored as any troops on deployment at any given time. They even have to go out on foot patrols.
“It was 110 degrees Fahrenheit on some of those days,” says Johnny Simmons, who portrays the green Agent Davis. “Our boots were melting, we were covered in sweat at the end of the day when we took off our Kevlar. My brother is a Marine and working on this film brought me a little closer to what it must be like for him … only he and so many others do it every day.”
The credit for this realism goes to the film’s technical advisor, Sam Sadler. Sadler is a retired Border Patrol agent who joined the service at age 17. Before he retired, he was the second in command at Deming Station, New Mexico, the area where “Transpecos” was filmed. He rode ATVs; he rode horseback. He tracked people through the desert by their footprints, the way Native American tribes used to – a practice still in use by agents today. By the end of his 25 years on the border, Sadler was the go-to guy.
“[Kwedar and Sadler] gave us a great roadmap to the script,” said Clifton Collins, Jr., who plays the experienced, by-the-book Agent Hobbs. “They took us off the leash in regards to the research and I really brought a lot of that to the table.”
At heart, Kwedar made the film for Border Patrol agents and their families. Sadler taught the actors the protocol and search methods to make sure they got the details right.
“These guys are so isolated, and it takes a special person to be able to do that,” Gabriel Luna, who plays Agent Flores, said. “Working on this film really cleared up my view of the Border Patrol. These men and women are just regular people. They’re human, they’re doing this job day in and day out, and it’s such an incredible thing.”
“Transpecos” is now available nationwide on demand and digital including Comcast, DirecTV and iTunes. It will be released on DVD September 27, 2016.
Composer Ramin Djawadi had a formidable task ahead of him for the final season of “Game of Thrones.” Back when he was working on the seventh season in 2017, Djawadi didn’t know his music written for Jon and Dany would also need to play right as Jon Snow plunged a dagger into Daenerys’ heart.
Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss had “talked a little bit in riddles” about Dany’s fate and the music Djawadi needed to write, the composer said in an interview with INSIDER on June 11, 2019.
“They said, ‘OK, this needs to be a really romantic theme, but make sure that it’s a love theme that can imply complications,'” Djawadi said. “That’s how they started me out. They said things turn differently and things go wrong.”
Their love “theme” (the term Djawadi uses to refer to the melody unique to a character’s scenes that you can hear on the soundtrack) was worked into a track on the season eight score called “The Iron Throne.”
Daenerys and Jon embracing just before her death.
The song played just as Jon and Dany kissed, mimicking the way she believed they were going to have a happy ending. But it was cut short, right as Jon stabbed his queen. Djawadi says “The Iron Throne” is one of the songs he’s most looking forward to playing live later this year when the “Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience” goes on tour.
Keep scrolling to read INSIDER’s full interview with Djawadi, in which he reveals the “positive” message of the final scene with Jon Snow.
Kim Renfro: The final song heard on the show, called “A Song of Ice and Fire,” is obviously such an important endcap to the series. What were the emotions that you wanted baked into that particular track?
Ramin Djawadi: The thought was to really create a bookend to the whole show. We have our main title song that really represents everybody and the entire series, and we thought there’s no better way to end the show than with our main title theme. But this time it was with a full choir. We have men and women and children actually singing it.
Jon leading the remaining wildlings beyond the Wall.
We’ve heard that main title so many times at every beginning of the episode, so we wanted to leave the show with that — including the very last note on our small dulcimer [instrument]. The main title ends when the title card goes to black and they have that little “dum dum ba ba bum bum” on the dulcimer, and those are the same last notes people will hear on the show.
Renfro: Did you have any conversations with showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss about what is going on with Jon specifically? I feel like the shows ends on this optimistic note, where he’s half-smiling and there are children around him. The children’s presence felt really important in that scene, because it’s this mark of the future and possibility. At the same time it’s a little sad, because he’s going into exile, basically, and leaving behind his past life. Were there conversations about that?
Djawadi: Yeah, absolutely. The idea is really that he stops and he looks back, and then the main title starts, and it’s the idea of a new beginning. It’s supposed to be positive and yeah, like you said, the fact that there are children around and [other] people — he’s not just by himself.
Jon taking one last look at Castle Black before heading into the North.
Djawadi [continued]: Originally [he was] with the Night’s Watch, and you’re not allowed to have a wife and children and all that, but this is him going out there with the wildlings, and you can interpret it like he’s starting a new life. He’s a changed man, and he’s leaving the past behind, and so it’s definitely supposed to be something positive. There are many possibilities now — that’s how we can look at it.
Renfro: I’d to talk about Brienne and Jamie, and the music you wrote for their important scenes. How did you approach that aspect of season eight, and especially the romantic element with both of them?
Djawadi: What’s interesting is their theme together came out of what I call the “Honor Theme” […] over the seasons, when they met and the way they treated each other, it was always an honorable theme. So that became their music. And the other big scene which I loved so much there, when she gets knighted, it was used there, and then, yeah, then we basically every time, I’m pretty certain with the development of their relationship, their theme was playing.
Djawadi: Yeah, I was going to get to that [laughing]. I just threw that in there because I thought it would be a subtle nod to their relationship. When she sits there and she thinks about him and writes down all the things he had done, the second half is the ‘Honor’ theme, but yeah a big chunk of that [song] is the wedding theme.
It’s just a hint of what their relationship — if they had stayed together, if he was still alive — what it could have been. What they could have become. That’s why I put that in there. I was amazed some people picked up on it. I was hoping people would go, ‘Wait a minute, that’s from season two.’ And that was exactly my intent. I thought it would be very appropriate.
Renfro: People absolutely loved that. A lot of fans were so attached to their relationship, and I think that it was really special to get a hint at that dream. Like Jaime and Brienne could have been married in some alternate timeline.
Brienne writing down Jaime’s deeds in the White Book.
Djawadi: Exactly. That was exactly my intention. It just shows the power of music, right? There were no words [in that scene] but by putting that in there your imagination goes [into] where this could have gone. I wanted people to have that emotion, and have those thoughts. I’m glad it was picked up.
Renfro: What was the most challenging scene to write music for this season?
Djawadi: I find almost everything challenging [laughing]. I guess maybe “The Night King.” I definitely knew that I wanted to really try to wrap up [on the show] things nicely with all the themes that we know and have come to love, so there were opportunities for that, but there were opportunities for new things.
Obviously “The Night King” theme was our big new theme this season, and writing that piece was challenging in many ways. One is because we decided to for the second time in “Game of Thrones” history to really focus on the piano again. We felt this was an opportunity to have a big piano piece, and we wanted to call back to “Light of the Seven.”
Game of Thrones S8 – The Night King – Ramin Djawadi (Official Video)
Djawadi [continued]: But then of course I had to reinvent myself, and here I was, thinking, “OK, how can I beat myself? I need to have something that has the same impact at this particular moment on the show and call back to ‘Light of the Seven,’ but it can’t be the same piece.”
If I had done an arrangement of “Light of the Seven” again it wouldn’t have made any sense. Cersei was nowhere to be seen, and that piece belongs to Cersei. But it was a very long scene, just like “Light of the Seven.” There were a lot of similarities, so I definitely made a connection [between them]. For example, I end up in the same key and tempo as the “Light of the Seven” by the end of “The Night King.”
But I also [wrote it knowing] when the piano drops people would sit up and go, “Oh, piano’s coming. This means something’s happening now. What’s going on here?” And the idea was that it would have the reverse effect. That you’d see the Night King on his final march towards Bran, and you’d think back to the Cersei theme and that this is all going his way and he’s going to win and it’s over.
We just had 50 minutes of action music and battle and they tried and tried, and they just can’t do it. It was supposed to feel like a finale and that they were all going to die. And then of course the big surprise happens at the end.
Arya surprised everyone when she killed the Night King.
Renfro: I know for past seasons there were times when Benioff and Weiss would give you some advance notice of an arc that was coming, because you needed to start planting those musical themes a little bit sooner. Did you have any advance notice that Dany was going to die, or that she was going to have this kind of turn at the end? The theme you used for her and Jon, called “Truth” on the season seven score, comes back into play right as she’s dying. Did you know when you wrote it that it was going to be a part of her death?
Djawadi: They showed me this season very early, earlier than any other season. But they weren’t that specific about Dany dying back in season seven. We’ve had such a good working relationship; they always give me exactly the information I need to know at the time.
When I wrote [Jon and Dany’s] theme, they said, “OK, this needs to be a really romantic theme, but make sure that it’s a love theme that can imply complications.” That’s how they started me out. They said things turn differently and things go wrong […] they talked a little bit in riddles.
To be honest, I never even thought about who was going to die, but I just took it as, “I need to write a love theme that has some drama to it, that can show complications.” That’s really the word they used, that things will go wrong and [it’s] “complicated.” That word gave me enough information.
The Jon and Daenerys love theme played during their season seven finale sex scene.
Renfro: So the “Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience” is coming back. I’m super excited. I live in LA now, so I get to go to the Hollywood Bowl version. What made you decided to go with an outdoor/amphitheater vibe versus in the indoor arena setup from the past two iterations?
Djawadi: We just want to try different things. The Hollywood Bowl is a historic venue, and performing there has been on my bucket list. With venues like the Hollywood Bowl and others in all the different cities, these outdoor concerts can be very special. It’s just another way of performing it, and obviously the stage brings different challenges by being outside, but it’s exciting.
I’m actually really majorly reworking [the show] right now, because there’s so much material from season eight — we could have done a concert just with season eight alone. I’m trying to keep a cohesive story from seasons one through eight, which is tricky because I only have that limited amount of time. It’s exciting that I have choices, which is great. So I’m in the process of doing that right now. I can’t wait. Hollywood Bowl will be amazing.
Renfro: Is there a particular part of season eight you’re most excited to perform live for people?
Djawadi: Well, of course “The Night King” because it’s just a great set piece, and it’ll be fun and exciting to perform. And another one, I have to say, is actually [“The Iron Throne”]. It’ll be in there in one way or another. That’s the theme from when Dany dies, and it was such an emotional scene for me to write. I’m just really attached to it. I think it’s such a powerful scene, with Drogon, and so that piece is just special to me. I’m very excited to play that live with an orchestra.
Renfro: Well, I can’t wait to see it. Thank you for bringing all this music to life, and congratulations on finishing out this series. It’s really incredible that it’s come all this way, and that you’ve been there from the start.
Djawadi: Thank you. I think it still hasn’t caught up with me fully that [it’s over]. The live concert tour is helping me with it, because I just don’t want to let go, just how many fans probably don’t want to let go of the show. It helps me to still be working on the music and just stay in that world longer.
And yes, looking back it’s crazy when I think of how this all started out in 2011. And now with the concert tour, all this music that I’ve written and just going through it, I feel very lucky that I’ve been part of this. It’s been unbelievable.
For nearly half a decade, life seemed to contain three certainties: death, taxes, and Star Wars movies making ungodly amounts of money at the box office. But a year ago, that all changed when Solo, the origin story of the smuggler-turned-hero of the rebellion, came to theaters and failed to make an impression at the box office, struggling to cross $200 million at the domestic box office. It was an unprecedented financial failure for the franchise, causing Disney to halt several planned spin-offs, including the long-rumored Obi-Wan movie starring Ewan McGregor.
Yet despite flopping at the box office, Solo was a critical hit that clearly resonated with at least some of the massive Star Wars fanbase. And on the anniversary of the film’s release, fans decided to take to Twitter and advocate for a second dose of everyone’s favorite stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder with the hashtag #MakeSolo2Happen.
Before long, thousands of users were expressing their support for the hypothetical sequel.
Several fans speculated about a potential plot for Solo 2, such as Han and Lando teaming up to do a dangerous job for Jabba the Hutt.
Some suggested making it into a TV show on the upcoming Disney+ streaming service.
A few people even admitted that while they didn’t enjoy Solo at first, they’d come to appreciate it upon rewatch.
And, of course, many people just wanted a chance to see Darth Maul back in action after his surprise cameo in Solo.
Is it likely that this hashtag activism will actually help a Solo sequel get made? Probably not but it’s still nice to see this forgotten Star Wars film get some love from fans and, at the very least, it’s clearly not destined to become a cultural punchline like the highly divisive prequels.
This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.