5 best/worst Christmas movies with questionable military plotlines - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MOVIES

5 best/worst Christmas movies with questionable military plotlines

Christmas romance movies have become a 21st century holiday phenomenon, first on the Hallmark Channel, then on Lifetime and now Netflix. There are literally hundreds of these movies, with dozens premiering in 2020 alone.

Holiday filmmakers have started to add the military to their formula, and there have been a couple of high-profile releases this year. Those movies inspired us to try to figure out just what’s going on here.

These are assembly-line products made for an audience that expects every plot to follow basic rules: Two people meet and irritate each other, but they’re irritated because they recognize a fellow special soul who doesn’t quite run with the pack.

One of them thinks the holidays are a crock. After some sassy back-and-forth, the doubter learns the meaning of Christmas, and that allows their love to flower. There are cookies, eggnog, flannel shirts and pajamas, a spectacular tree, possibly some chopping of wood, family members who saw it coming all along and, usually, a dog.

Regular readers know that we typically write about movies that feature combat, patriotism, world-changing shifts in power or the chain of command, ass-kicking and explosions, so this was a totally foreign experience.

If you’re the kind of person who gets your kicks complaining about breaches of military protocol in movies, have we got a totally new genre for you! Christmas romance movies are produced on such shoestring budgets that they make those late-period filmed-in-Romania Steven Seagal cheapies look like a Marvel movie. There’s no money for a military adviser, so they’re mostly just winging it.

It’s like these movies exist in an alternate universe. Apparently, there are actors who’ve appeared in multiple Hallmark and Lifetime movies, and the channels promote their starring roles as if they’re Brad Pitt and Jennifer Lawrence.

Let’s agree that these movies have a huge and devoted following because they make some people happy. If you’re one of those people, please continue to watch and enjoy.

This article is for the rest of us who find the whole thing kind of weird. Here are five of the most startling military Christmas romance movies we found during our investigation.

1. USS Christmas (2020)

Filmed in Wilmington, North Carolina, this Hallmark movie had the full cooperation of the Navy, so it features a few scenes filmed aboard a carrier and a lot of stock footage of planes taking off and landing. Did someone in the Navy Office of Information want to reach out to an audience that would never seen “Top Gun: Maverick” or “Hunter Killer,” two other movies that got full Navy support? Or was someone just a big Christmas fan?

This time, a sassy reporter who’s the daughter of an aviator gets convinced to join her mom and aviator sister for a holiday Tiger Cruise. The commander served with her late dad, and his son is also an aviator who hates the holidays, mostly because his parents divorced and he’s still mad at dad.

How much does he hate Christmas? Well, his call sign is “Grinch.” Yep, that’s how obvious everything is here. Grinch learns to love the holidays, forgive dad and appreciate an independent woman. Our reporter learns that maybe it’s best not to be so independent and that a military spouse‘s life might not be so bad after all.

Where these two will be in five years after a few deployments is hard to predict, but there’s reason to suspect that neither of them truly realizes what they’re getting into here.

2. Operation Christmas Drop (2020)

This 2020 Netflix movie had a higher-than-usual budget and was filmed on Guam with the full cooperation of the Air Force, so it looks a bit shinier than the usual fare. Since it’s set in the South Pacific, there’s no snow or hot cocoa or fluffy scarves.

A congressional aide has to cancel Christmas with her family to investigate just why the Air Force is wasting money on this “Christmas drop” every year. The congressional rep (played by Virginia Madsen, an actual movie star) is looking to cut budgets so she can save a base in her district. She sets her sights on Guam.

OK, they never call it “Guam” in the movie, but this is where they lose anyone with an interest in world peace. Why would we shut down an important strategic base in the South Pacifc to keep a base in some random U.S. state open? That’s a movie foul far worse than a sloppy salute.

Anyway, our aide Erika Miller (Kat Graham, “The Vampire Diaries”) doesn’t want to be there and knows her mission is to collect the dirt that will allow her boss to shut down the base. What she doesn’t expect is her encounter with Capt. Andrew Jantz (Alexander Ludwig, “Recon”), the laid-back architect of the current mission to provide presents and supplies to remote Pacific islands during the holidays.

The two clash, she finds herself falling for the captain and his island spirit, and her boss mysteriously cancels her own Christmas to fly to the island to see why Erika’s reports aren’t negative enough. Everyone goes on the holiday flight and then sees the light: Operation Christmas Drop is exactly the kind military holiday maneuver the world needs!

Erika finds her Christmas spirit. Will she find long-term love with Andrew? We’ll have to wait for an “Operation Christmas Drop 2” to find out.

3. Home for Christmas Day (2017)

Everyone knows that many civilian parents don’t want their daughters falling in love with a soldier. Long-distance romance is hard, and there’s usually a neighbor boy named Jody who’s willing to step in and help with the loneliness.

The single mom in “Home for Christmas” has an even more powerful reason to discourage her daughter. The big reveal is that her late husband was killed in combat himself, and she doesn’t want her child to face the same heartache when her new love is deployed.

To explain just how manipulative this one is, we have to go deep into spoiler territory. Our young lover learns that her mom is right when she hears her boyfriend’s name on a list of troops killed in action read aloud at a Christmas concert.

The girl is devastated, but mom realizes she was wrong to discourage her daughter’s true love and they reconcile. Have we reached a breakthrough moment in Christmas romance movies, when the harsh realities of real life must be addressed in the happy holiday world?

No, we have not! Those boobs at the Pentagon mixed up the dead troop records, and our hero is actually alive. He shows up on the doorstep, unannounced and on crutches, and everyone enjoys the best Christmas ever!!

4. A Welcome Home Christmas (2020)

This Lifetime movie takes the ethics manual, sets it on fire and throws a party in the town square. Chloe Marquee (actual character name) is working as a counselor for troubled veterans, and she’s assigned a particularly tough case named Michael Fischer.

She learns that Fischer led a toy drive while stationed overseas and recruits him to start a new one for military families here in their tranquil, picture-postcard, Christmas-loving town. What should be a great project turns sinister when Chloe starts having romantic feelings for her patient.

Well, that’s not how the movie sees it. Chloe heals Michael’s wounded soul through the power of love, and all the kids get some excellent toys after they overcome a few scheduling obstacles. Could a little eggnog and some smooching under the mistletoe be the miracle cure for PTSD that we’ve all been searching for? Lifetime says maybe!

5. Christmas Homecoming (2017)

This Hallmark movie answers the question, “What are the best cures for a grieving military widow and a wounded warrior recovering back home?” The answer may surprise you if you haven’t been paying attention. Why, it’s a little Christmas romance, of course!

Julie Benz (“Dexter,” and kind of a big star for one of these things) plays a military widow whose loss has destroyed her faith in Christmas. She rents a room in her house to an Army captain (Michael Shanks), a wounded warrior whose injuries have not shaken his love for the holidays.

The two team up to raise money to save the town’s failing military museum with a Christmas fundraising event, and these two self-described “wounded birds” find that the holiday spirit kindles a new romance.

Will both get the counseling and support they need going forward? Let’s hope so because both are coming into this relationship with a cartload of baggage. For now, though, tune in and enjoy the spell of mistletoe and twinkling lights.

Of course, there are more of these Christmas movies that try to work in military themes. If you haven’t picked up on it so far, look for titles with “home” or “homecoming” in the title, and you’ll go a long way toward finding what you’re looking for.

Of course, true fans of the genre will also be tuning in for the book editors, real estate brokers, high-powered attorneys and other assorted type-A personalities who need a little holiday spirit to help them get over themselves and fall in love.

If you want to watch them all, one movie a day, make a note on your calendar for Memorial Day 2021 and maybe you’ll have caught up by Christmas next year.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Watch R. Lee Ermey laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery

The United States Marine Corps gave its final goodbye to one of its most famous and most revered alums, actor and Vietnam veteran R. Lee Ermey, on Jan. 18, 2018 as his remains were laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. The revered Gunny died on Apr. 15, 2018 at age 74 from complications during pneumonia treatment.

His body was cremated after death, and his ashes were buried with full military honors.


5 best/worst Christmas movies with questionable military plotlines

Ermey as Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in 1987’s “Full Metal Jacket.”

There was more to R. Lee Ermey’s life than just the 1987 Stanley Kubrick film that made his career while defining the image of the Marine Corps Drill Instructor. He was the living embodiment of a Marine who never gives up, being forced into the military, working a bar and brothel after leaving the service, and taking advantage of the opportunities presented to him.

Read On: 5 little-known facts about R. Lee Ermey, the military’s favorite Gunny

The man we know as “Gunny” was medically discharged in 1972, and didn’t even make the rank of Gunnery Sgt. until after his military career. That’s how important his image is to the Corps. Even though his Hollywood career began to flag as he aged, he was always a vocal supporter of the military and the troops who comprise it.

His internment at Arlington was delayed due to the backlog of funeral services there. The backlog for eligible veterans to be buried there is so great that even a veteran of Ermey’s stature – a Vietnam War-era Marine who served in aviation and training – must wait several months before the services can be performed.

MIGHTY MOVIES

6 issues I still have with ‘Wonder Woman’

None of this has anything to do with gender or anything as asinine as that. The fact is, Wonder Woman was the best superhero movie of 2017 (yeah, I know when Logan was released, and I stand by this statement). And Wonder Woman is easily the best part of the current DC cinematic universe. But this is history.


World War I is a lot more complex than when Steve Trevor tells Diana that he’s the good guy and the bad guys are the Germans wading ashore. It was nice of her to just take his word for it. These are my issues with this mostly-fantastic film.

5 best/worst Christmas movies with questionable military plotlines

Oh yeah.

Wonder Woman does not like doors.

Ok, this isn’t historical, it’s more of a stylistic criticism. Batman and Superman get to fly in or punch their way through a group of bad guys while Wonder Woman has to explode through the wall like an ancient, mythical Kool-Aid Man.

5 best/worst Christmas movies with questionable military plotlines

How did that guy not see this coming?

The Germans look completely incompetent.

They’re not just the traditional, evil villainous henchmen — they’re bad at it, too. Maybe that’s why they need to be directed by the God of War. After chasing Steve Rogers Steve Trevor onto the hidden island of Themyscira, they encounter a group of natives who seem technologically inferior… so, obviously they have to murder them all, right?

No. World War I Germans were not the Nazis. Historically, they were as much a victim of circumstance as any other combatant in the war. Germans were arguably the best at fighting World War I. That’s why they took a lot of heat in Versailles, and that’s why World War II happened — the Germans didn’t technically lose. A general staff, a standing professional army — these are all pioneering developments from 19th/20th-Century Germany, but you’d never know it watching Wonder Woman.

5 best/worst Christmas movies with questionable military plotlines

A very important lesson for Diana.

No one lives up to their established reputation.

Eventually, the Germans who land on Themyscira all get slaughtered, despite the warship off the island’s coast that never gets used. Despite their guns and grenades, they get creamed by an Amazonian army using swords and arrows, which begs another question: Why are these highly-trained professional soldiers just standing in the open as projectiles are fired at them?

Sure, the Amazonians have never fought rifles before, but with all their superhuman abilities, why can’t they see these as projectile weapons? And the Germans can definitely see all the well-aimed arrows raining death on them, but there they are, kneeling in the open sand, waiting for death.

Germans in Wonder Woman just seem incompetent or lazy or both. Only Steve, the American, has the good sense to take cover on the beach that day.

5 best/worst Christmas movies with questionable military plotlines

Remember: They did this to save the town.

Wonder Woman does not do stairs.

There’s a sniper in the bell tower! Luckily everyone has cover, and he’s the only enemy left, so we can just head to the church and use the stars, right? No. That would require going through a door — we talked about that, remember? Let’s just throw Wonder Woman at the building and see what happens.

5 best/worst Christmas movies with questionable military plotlines

In their shoes, you’d have shot at Wonder Woman. And probably would have had trench foot.

The Germans didn’t start World War I.

They weren’t really the “bad guys,” they just happened to not be on America’s side. These aren’t Nazis and not every German soldier was responsible for the Rape of Belgium. A lot of them were conscripted, just like the guys on the other side of No Man’s Land. When it came to chemical weapons, the Allies used them on the Central Powers just as much as the other way around, and the same goes for submarine warfare, forced civilian labor, machine guns, and every other horrible thing about World War I on the Western Front.

If anything, she should be taking down Serbia and Austria-Hungary.

5 best/worst Christmas movies with questionable military plotlines

Through the goddamned window.

It’s way different for junior enlisted people.

While watching Wonder Woman for the first time, I remembered what it was like to pull security details as an E-2 while deployed. When Diana liberated Veld from the Germans, I couldn’t help but think of the circumstances surrounding it. While it’s totally awesome to watch her clear a trench, the war was almost over, and everyone knew it. The armies around Veld had been there for a year, and not much progress was made to advance either way. This means that everyone was likely just hunkering down to wait out the end of the war, content not to kill or be killed.

So, imagine being a German private, coming to work in the headquarters building, dreaming of returning home to Munich or Trier or wherever to be with your family again in just a few weeks when, suddenly, a Greek Goddess bursts in and starts murdering all your friends during frühstück and kaffee.

MIGHTY MOVIES

007 fans are really hating this ‘No Time to Die’ movie poster

James Bond fans spent this weekend celebrating James Bond Day (the anniversary of the release of “Dr. No” in 1962) analyzing the first poster for Daniel Craig’s final turn as the iconic spy. Many of them were, shall we say, less than thrilled.

The poster shows a tuxedo-clad Craig standing in front of a weathered turquoise wall, looking off into the distance. The title of the film is printed in large, white letters in a distinctive typeface.


It is, all in all, a fine poster. It doesn’t reveal any significant information about the film or particularly blow us away with its aesthetics, but it is in line with the first posters of other modern Bond films, which one fan account pointed out usually feature just the lead actor and the title of the film.

And yet, there’s something about this poster that’s very unpleasant to the kind of folks who voice their opinions about James Bond movie posters on the internet.

A bad movie can have a great poster and a great movie can have a bad poster, so it doesn’t make much sense to get riled up over a poster because you think it means the movie will be like it, particularly in this case when the poster doesn’t offer much in terms of clues to what the film will actually be like.

One fan account summed up the premature panic around the poster succinctly with the right message to stressed-out fans: stay loose.

“No Time to Die” will be released on April 8, 2020, the day that the strong opinions about this poster will presumably be crowded out by strong opinions of the actual movie, which will then give way to even stronger opinions about who the next Bond should be.

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

Articles

Coast Guard food specialists will make you want to switch branches

Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Arianna Gunn is relentless. Yes, that’s a rating in the Coast Guard. And it’s no joke to the men and women who work that job. The Coast Guard, like any force in history, runs on its stomach.

Gunn’s drive to serve fresh, delicious, inventive, bar-raising gourmet meals to the crew members of her Coast Guard Cutter, Cochito, powers that vessel as surely as the twin diesels in its engine room. As it conducts long patrols of U.S. coastal waters, searching, rescuing and advancing the mission of the Department of Homeland Security, Gunn’s role in maintaining operational morale cannot be overstated.


Like Meals Ready to Eat host August Dannehl learned when he joined the Cochito on patrol, as far as ship’s cooks go, FS2 Gunn is in a class of her own.

She’s not a recipe follower so much as a recipe pioneer. She gathers her ingredients at local markets and farm stands. She joyfully invents dishes working in a galley the size of a closet. She defines the rhythm of the Cochito’s days at sea by the anticipation and delivery of each of her remarkable meals.

“There are times during this job, during a search and rescue case off shore, we don’t sleep, it’s too rough to eat, it’s almost unbearable. And coming back into calmer waters, looking forward to that amazing home cooked meal, that just brings everybody together,” said Master Chief Petty Officer Stephen Atchley, Coast Guard Cutter Cochito.

We could wax on about the culinary virtuosity of FS2 Gunn, but instead, we’ll hit you with some optics as an appetizer.

5 best/worst Christmas movies with questionable military plotlines
Yeah… (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

5 best/worst Christmas movies with questionable military plotlines
Oh yeah… (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

5 best/worst Christmas movies with questionable military plotlines
Uncle Jesse would say “Have mercy.” (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

5 best/worst Christmas movies with questionable military plotlines
The Chef herself in her uncanny galley. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

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

This is why soldiers belong in the kitchen

What happens when a firefighter’s secret identity is revealed

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

Disney plans for 3 more Star Wars movies

Han and Luke may be gone but the Star Wars film franchise remains alive and well, as Disney’s updated theatrical release schedule revealed that three Star Wars films are slated to hit theaters over the next few years. The currently untitled movies are scheduled to be released Dec. 16, 2022, Dec. 12, 2024, and Dec. 18, 2026.

As of now, we know virtually nothing about these movies outside of their release dates, which is pretty par for the course for the tight-lipped franchise. But based on reports, the upcoming movies will look a lot different from what viewers have come to expect from a Star Wars film-going experience. After all, Skywalkers have always been at the center of the cinematic universe but these new films seem to represent a shift that will allow filmmakers to explore the rest of the Galaxy far, far away. December 2019, Rise of the Skywalker will bring a definitive end to the epic nine-picture saga about the titular family.


Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – Teaser

www.youtube.com

While the Obi-Wan and Boba Fett spin-offs may have been force-choked into oblivion, Disney has made it clear that fans can expect a lot more Star Wars movies. The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson is getting his own trilogy entirely “separate from the episodic Skywalker saga” and Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are also penning their own Star Wars trilogy that will not involve Anakin, Luke, Leia, or Kylo.

“We are looking at the next saga. We are not just looking at another trilogy, we’re really looking at the next 10 years or more,” Kennedy told The Hollywood Reporter.

As far as what all this means, right now, even searching the Force might not provide answers.

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

Why ‘Spider-Man’ was exactly the film that America needed at the time

There’s a constant debate within the nerd-o-sphere about which superhero film is best. Some score points for being accurate to the source material, some are of a higher quality than others, and some are just downright enjoyable to sit through while munching down a tub of popcorn.

In the end, this debate always boils down to personal preference, but there’s no denying that just one film truly cemented the audience’s desire for more superhero films — and that’s 2002’s Spider-Man, starring Tobey Maguire. Sure, it’s not the best filmmaking that the genre’s ever seen, nor is it even close to being the highest grossing, but what this film can claim that no other superhero film can is a crucial role in American pop culture following the horrific events that occurred the morning of September 11th, 2001.


5 best/worst Christmas movies with questionable military plotlines

I mean, the guy is so down on his luck that he has to live with his aunt.

(Marvel Comics)

For anyone unfamiliar with his role in the comic books, Peter Parker was never some big, strong superhero. He never wore a cape and he he was never really a permanent member of some greater superhero alliance. In fact, he was generally the opposite of what most people would assume a superhero would be. He’s a quiet, shy nerd who works a low-paying, entry-level job for a boss that hates him.

In both the films and the comics, Peter Parker is actually the stand-in for the audience. The general public isn’t made up of rich billionaire philanthropists or Norse gods — they’re just average Joes trying to make ends meet.

5 best/worst Christmas movies with questionable military plotlines

We told ourselves we would rebuild. And we did.

The film was in production for years and, just like in the comics, it showcased New York City a character, as much as anyone else in the film. So, in much of the film’s advertisements, they used the two most iconic buildings in the New York skyline: the Twin Towers. In promotional posters and even a stand-alone story trailer that showed Spider-Man stopping bank robbers in a getaway helicopter, the Towers placed a fairly central role.

Then, the day that none will forget came. Four passenger airliners were hijacked. Two successfully struck their target, the World Trade Center in New York City, and another hit the Pentagon. The fourth was brought down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

What seemed like an eternity to onlookers took one hour and seventeen minutes. There’s no denying that, in this moment, all American felt scared and, for once, vulnerable.

America was hurting bad. Meanwhile, certain scenes had to be re-shot that featured the New York skyline. This, of course, shuffled the release date back. But in the process, Sam Raimi, the director of the film, added one iconic moment that made the most lasting impression on pop culture — the very last twenty seconds of the film.

Spider-Man had saved the day, saved a hurting New York City, swung up to the top of the Empire State Building, and stood in front of a proud, billowing American flag.

It was exactly what most people, especially the film’s target demographic — a younger crowd that couldn’t really comprehend what had happened — needed to hear. Your average, everyday guy who just happened to be bit by a radioactive spider, is there to save the day.

And that America will be okay.

MIGHTY MOVIES

9 awesome military movie scenes no soldier actually gets to do

Military movies are a lot of fun, and the Department of Defense loves how they prime plenty of young folks to join the service. But while military service and military movies are both great, there’s a huge gap between how military life is portrayed and how it actually works. So, here are nine scenes from military movies that are fun to watch but few troops ever get the chance to do:


5 best/worst Christmas movies with questionable military plotlines

This poor man hasn’t had a peaceful cup of coffee sicne the ’90s.

(YouTube/MovieClips)

Buzzing the deck or tower

Yeah! Top Gun! And not the beach scene that makes our sisters act weird for 20 minutes afterward! But if you’re thinking about joining naval aviation in order to fly super fast past control towers on ship and shore, you should probably know that the beach scene is more likely to happen (but much less sexy) than “buzzing the tower” against orders.

See, F-14 Tomcats cost about million each. So, pilots taking dangerous risks with their birds weren’t told off by an angry commander, they were investigated and had their wings taken away. And Top Gun is a school, and the commander definitely should’ve had some pilots ready to go to school besides the one who keeps taking unnecessary gambles with aircraft.

5 best/worst Christmas movies with questionable military plotlines

Do not let this sexy archaeologist select your cup. She chooses poorly.

(YouTube/MovieClips)

Hunt for lost technology with sexy archaeologists

In The Mummy, another awesome Tom Cruise flick, the hero is an elite soldier who, after a series of illegal mishaps, finds himself searching a tomb with a sexy archaeologist. The Nazi soldiers in Indiana Jones also spend a lot of time in ruins with sexy archaeologists (I’m talking about Dr. Elsa Schneider, but if you’re into Dr. René Emile Belloq, go for it).

But actually, modern military weapons typically come from laboratories, not ancient ruins. And the number of entombed monsters the Air Force is sent to re-secure like in The Mummy is also shockingly low. You’ll spend much more time in smelly port-a-johns with a smartphone than you will in Egypt with models.

Godzilla (1998) – Godzilla Babies Scene (7/10) | Movieclips

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Tell off scientists for being too science-y

But about that weapons-coming-out-of-labs thing from the last paragraph — plenty of movies also show soldiers running into academics and being all superior because the soldiers are brave and covered in muscles and the scientists are pencil necks. For those of you lucky enough to have forgotten the 1998 Godzilla, the military ignores about 30 warnings that Godzilla may have laid eggs.

But scientists aren’t actually assigned to combat units very often. And the few scientists who do end up with military units aren’t typically biologists tracking the local zombie outbreaks that you can laugh off until you get bit. They’re usually anthropologists telling you that the local Afghans don’t like you much, mostly because of all the shooting. Thanks, scientists!

5 best/worst Christmas movies with questionable military plotlines

Alien invasions aren’t real. And if they ever are, pray the aliens don’t have miles-wide aircraft carriers.

(YouTube/MovieClips)

Fight aliens 

We loved Independence Day and hated Battlefield: LA as much as the next guy but, and brace yourselves here, aliens have never invaded Earth, and that’s not what the Space Force is for. Offensive wars against aliens don’t happen much either. We won’t be mining unobtanium from Pandora.

I know, big shocker. You might get to work against the “immigrant” form of aliens, but that’s mostly putting up barbed wire and providing medical aid while you sit in the middle of the desert during Christmas. So, I guess what we’re saying is: weigh your options.

5 best/worst Christmas movies with questionable military plotlines

Pictured: Coolest way to kill a giant bug.

(TriStar Pictures)

Slaughtering bug armies

The best kinds of armies, alien or otherwise, to kill are easily bug armies and zombies. So much killing, so much gore, so little moral squeamishness. No one worries much about the bugs in Starship Troopers, even when heroes are climbing on top of them, shooting a hole through their exoskeletons, and then throwing a grenade inside of them.

(So cool.)

Sigh. Unfortunately for die-hard action fans, American forces actually spend most of their time fighting other humans. While this is often necessary (looking at you, Hitler), it also means a lot of real people just swept up in the currents of their times are killed (looking at you, all of the Wehrmacht who weren’t dedicated Nazis). Not nearly as much fun as killing the bugs.

Survive bomb after bomb, grenade after grenade

Also, you’re not nearly as survivable in future combat as movies and video games would have you think. Bombs, artillery fire, grenades, and even bullets can kill you very easily. You’re basically a big bag of soup with a little brain pushing it around the world, and wars are filled with all sorts of flying metal that can shred your bag.

5 best/worst Christmas movies with questionable military plotlines

When the enemy shows up with massive walker tanks, they probably have a dozen weaknesses. Aim for those before you count on the common cold taking them out.

(Alvim Correa, from 1906 War of the Worlds)

Defeat the enemy thanks to their one critical weakness

Luckily, your enemies will usually have the same weakness. Unfortunately, they won’t also have one big weakness that can be exploited by some savvy Jeff Goldblum type saying, “I gave it a cold. I gave it a virus, a computer virus.” Instead, when the British start rolling the first tanks against your lines, you just have to hit them with artillery and hope they get caught in the mud.

And you press every weapon in your arsenal against the new threat. Turns out, machine guns could break off rivets inside early tanks and injure or kill the crew. High-powered rifles would split the armor and send shards into the crew. Incendiary devices could set off gas and force the crew to evacuate. So, German soldiers used all of these things.

Retrain in four jobs before the final credits roll

Remember when Jake Sully in Avatar took over his brother’s job as a scientist and pseudo-alien, then became a spy for the human military, then became a pilot for the alien resistance, then a small strike team leader? Those are all still different jobs, right?

In reality, most soldiers spend weeks or months learning their first job, and they can only switch jobs with more weeks or months of training. Any movie realistically showing them moving from job to job would need to be a biopic with a story spanning years of the soldier’s life.

Thunderball (1965) – Underwater battle (1/2)

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Underwater fighting

Fun fact: There’s only been one documented underwater submarine battle in history. And that was an exchange between two submarines in World War II. But that hasn’t stopped movie after movie that showed submarines hitting each other or even divers fighting to the death under the waves.

It is exciting, exciting stuff — I’m partial to the underwater spear gunfight in Thunderball — but actual underwater fighting is super rare since almost no military forces specialize in it or want to fight in the water. Even SEALs generally fight above the waves.

Articles

8 life lessons from ‘Major Payne’

Although it’s not considered an all-time military movie classic like “Full Metal Jacket” or “Stripes,” the 1995 military comedy “Major Payne” is an entertaining family film (with some salty language). The film stars comedian Damon Wayans as U.S. Marine Corps Major Benson Winifred Payne. Payne is a rough and tough Marine who becomes a Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps instructor after being discharged from active duty for not making lieutenant colonel. Payne’s job is to impart confidence and discipline in the rambunctious junior cadets and train them to win a military cadet competition.


The film has some funny and memorable lines – quoted in military training to this day – such as “What we have here is a failure to communicate” and “I’m gonna put my foot so far up your ass, the water on my knee will quench your thirst.” In between laughs, Major Payne bestows some surprising life lessons that apply to current service members, veterans, and society at large.

1. Career transitions are tough – expect setbacks

Major Payne is served his separation papers from the Marines in the beginning of the film. Just a week out of the service, Payne finds himself in jail after a failed attempt to become a police officer by slapping a man senseless during a training scenario.”It’s civilian life, sir. I had a minor setback,” Payne tells his former commander Gen. Decker, played by Albert Hall. Thanks to the help of his former commander, he lands the job as the JROTC instructor.

Lesson: Many people face a career change at some point in their lives. Setbacks are inevitable but it’s important to be patient. It is also important to use your network when looking for a new career.

2. Not everyone is sympathetic; mental toughness goes a long way

5 best/worst Christmas movies with questionable military plotlines

The gif above is Major Payne’s most famous quote. He gives his young cadets this verbal tirade as they struggle to complete an obstacle course in the pouring rain. Eventually, the persistence and will of the cadets lead them to overcome the obstacle course and achieve success.

Lesson: Not everyone will be sympathetic to your plight, no matter how difficult things are in your personal or professional life. When faced with challenges, being mentally strong and determined can help overcome any challenge, no matter the level of difficultly.

3. Keep trying to improve

In a classic drill instructor tone, Major Payne tells the young men, “You’re still a shit sandwich, you’re just not a soggy one” following a drill and ceremony routine. In his own unique way, the rough and tough character is acknowledging the effort put in by the boys to improve.

Lesson: Never stop trying to improve. You can always get better.

4. Don’t give up

5 best/worst Christmas movies with questionable military plotlines

For Major Payne, failure is not an option. He wants victory at all costs! In order to win the military games, he puts the cadets through hell. He shaves their heads, PTs them all day and makes them run in dresses in front of the whole school. Despite their disdain for the man and his tough training methods, the kids don’t quit.

Lesson: Life will bring challenges. Don’t let that prevent you from achieving your goals.

5. Teamwork is important

5 best/worst Christmas movies with questionable military plotlines

The cadets are a ragtag group from the beginning. Despite their differences, they build cohesion, delegate responsibilities and establish a common goal to win the military games.

Lesson: The value of camaraderie is vital in bringing a group of people to work well together no matter their differences. Working effectively as a team will bring success to any project whether you are in the civilian or military sector.

6. Loyalty is crucial

Major Payne is given the chance to return to active duty at the rank of lieutenant colonel. Initially, he chooses to take the job offer and leaves the boys high and dry before the competition. Eventually, his love and loyalty to the cadets brings him back to see his boys in the final event of the competition. He stays on as a JROTC instructor.

Lesson: It seems the thought of loyalty as a core tenet is slipping away to self-interest these days. Being loyal to friends, family or co-workers takes time and sacrifice. Believing in and devoting yourself to someone or something you care about is a great value to have for the rest of your life.

7. Self-confidence is essential

Major Payne instills confidence in all of his cadets, especially the smallest one in the group “Tiger.” He tells him a frightening version of “The Little Engine that Could,” and makes him the drill team leader. This gives Tiger the confidence he needs to trust his abilities. Tiger’s self-confidence shines through as the boys do a drill routine with a classic 90’s hip-hop beat and old-school rhymes. Tiger even breaks it down with the “Cabbage Patch” dance and some vintage Michael Jackson moves. His self-confidence helps him lead the team to victory.

Lesson: Trusting in your abilities will help you accomplish your goals. Believe in yourself.

8. Lighten up

Major Payne is a military badass. He takes his life and his work seriously but he begins to lighten up a bit during the movie. He even has a little fun on the dance floor with some sweet robot moves.

Lesson: There are times in life to be serious, but it’s ok to lighten up. Being able to enjoy life, relax, and not be so uptight can make life more enjoyable. YOLO.

MIGHTY MOVIES

The reason LEGO cancelled its V-22 Osprey set

On July 21, 2020, LEGO announced that the upcoming LEGO Technic V-22 Osprey had been cancelled. Set number 42113 was an officially licensed model of the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft used by the US Navy, Marines, Air Force and Japanese Self-Defense Forces.


Despite being just 10 days away from its August 1 release date, LEGO pulled the Osprey from its website and announced that shipments of the new set would not go out to retailers. In their official statement, LEGO said:

The LEGO Technic Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey was designed to highlight the important role the aircraft plays in search and rescue efforts. While the set clearly depicts how a rescue version of the plane might look, the aircraft is only used by the military. We have a long-standing policy not to create sets which feature real military vehicles, so it has been decided not to proceed with the launch of this product. We appreciate that some fans who were looking forward to this set may be disappointed, but we believe it’s important to ensure that we uphold our brand values.

LEGO’s policy of not making sets based on military vehicles goes back to its very beginning. In fact, the original LEGO brick colors in the 1950s didn’t even include grey because LEGO feared that they could be used to make military vehicles like tanks.

5 best/worst Christmas movies with questionable military plotlines

Orange trim wasn’t enough to distance the V-22 from its military use (LEGO)

In recent years, LEGO has limited the scope of their military restriction to modern military vehicles. This allowed them to create sets based on historic military vehicles like the WWI-era Sopwith Camel biplane and Fokker Dr.1 triplane.

Licensed IPs like Indiana Jones and Star Wars have also allowed LEGO to make sets with military themes that weren’t modern or real. Indiana Jones set number 7198 included an armed Pilatus P-2 with Luftwaffe markings from The Last Crusade and set number 7683 featured the fictional Nazi flying wing bomber from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Under the Star Wars license, LEGO has created molds for fictional blasters that come from the galaxy far, far away.

However, while LEGO has not released a licensed modern military set, it has released some that bear striking resemblances to modern military vehicles. LEGO Creator 3-in-1 sets have featured vehicles that look remarkably like the AH-64 Apache (31023), F-14 Tomcat (4953), Rafale M (5892), F-35 Lightning II (31039) and even the V-22 (31020). LEGO City set number 60021 City Cargo Heliplane is a dedicated set that also bears a striking resemblance to the V-22. The main difference between the aforementioned sets and the cancelled V-22 seems to be the official licensing by Bell and Boeing, who make the real-life aircraft.

5 best/worst Christmas movies with questionable military plotlines

It looks like a V-22, but it isn’t (LEGO)

In July, the German Peace Society issued a warning against LEGO releasing the licensed V-22. Despite rebranding of the aircraft in the set to make it a search and rescue aircraft, the German Peace Society released a statement saying:

On 1. August 2020 LEGO® plans to release its first ever military set while internal corporate value documents forbid the production of current military vehicles. The German DFG-VK also criticises the license placed on the set. With every buy, customers help to finance arms companies.

Despite the set being ready for release with advertisements and stock ready to go, LEGO has marked all packaged sets of the V-22 for return to circulation. While LEGO stores will never receive the set, some smaller retailers did receive their first orders early and buyers have been quick to scoop up the rare sets. New Zealand seems to have received the most shipments as Ebay listings for the V-22 all ship from New Zealand and are selling for well over id=”listicle-2646785825″,000. Some retailers are even returning their stock to LEGO rather than selling them.

While this turn of events has been a major disappointment for LEGO fans, the fact that the set got so close to release can be seen as a sign of things to come. While the V-22 is used exclusively by armed forces, it’s not unreasonable to think that military aircraft with civilian variants like the C-130 Hercules or the CH-47 Chinook might be turned into licensed LEGO sets in the future.

5 best/worst Christmas movies with questionable military plotlines

Commercials were filmed and ready. Note the “Rescue” markings. (LEGO)

MIGHTY MOVIES

Green Berets remember first mission in Afghanistan after 9/11 (Part II)

The movie “12 Strong” arrives in theaters this Friday, and tells the harrowing story of the first U.S. special forces mission in Afghanistan following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The following is the second part of an Army.mil exclusive three-part feature recounts the events of the Green Berets’ first mission in Afghanistan, as they sought to destroy the Taliban regime and deny Al-Qaida sanctuary in that country.


ON THE GROUND

Special operations forces have a famously tight bond. As the Green Berets stepped off the SOAR’s highly modified MH-47 Chinooks into Afghanistan, they stepped back in time, to a time of dirt roads and horses. They stepped into another world, one of arid deserts and towering peaks, of “rugged, isolated, beautiful, different colored stones and geographical formations, different shades of red in the morning as the sun came up,” said Maj. Mark Nutsch, then the commander of ODA 595, one of the first two 12-man teams to arrive in Afghanistan. The world was one of all-but-impassable trails, of “a canyon with very dominating, several-hundred-feet cliffs.” It was a world of freezing nights, where intelligence was slim, women were invisible, and friend and foe looked the same.

They arrived in the middle of the night, of course, to the sort of pitch blackness that can only be found miles from electricity and civilization, at the mercy of the men waiting for them. “We weren’t sure how friendly the link up was going to be,” said Nutsch. “We were prepared for a possible hot insertion. … We were surrounded by — on the LZ there were armed militia factions. … We had just set a helicopter down in that. … It was tense, but … the link up went smoothly.”

HORSEMEN

5 best/worst Christmas movies with questionable military plotlines
Starting Oct. 19, 2001, 12-man Special Forces detachments from the U.S. Army Special Operations Command’s 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) began arriving in Afghanistan in the middle of the night, transported by aviators from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Battalion (Airborne). They were the first ground Soldiers of the war on terrorism following 9-11 and their mission was to destroy the Taliban regime and deny Al-Qaida sanctuary in Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Special Operations Command)

The various special forces teams that were in Afghanistan split into smaller three-man and six-man cells to cover more ground. Some of them quickly found themselves on borrowed horses, in saddles meant for Afghans who were much lighter and shorter than American Green Berets. Most of the Soldiers had never ridden before, and they learned by immediately riding for hours, forced to keep up with skilled Afghan horsemen, on steeds that constantly wanted to fight each other.

But that’s what Green Berets do: they adapt and overcome. “The guys did a phenomenal job learning how to ride that rugged terrain,” said Nutsch, who worked on a cattle ranch and participated in rodeos in college. Even so, riding requires muscles most Americans don’t use every day, and after a long day in the saddle, the Soldiers were in excruciating pain, especially as the stirrups were far too short. They had to start jerry-rigging the stirrups with parachute cord.

“Initially you had a different horse for every move … and you’d have a different one, different gait or just willingness to follow the commands of the rider,” Nutsch remembered. “A lot of them didn’t have a bit or it was a very crude bit. The guys had to work through all of that and use less than optimal gear. … Eventually we got the same pool of horses we were using regularly.”

Also Read: ’12 Strong’ showcases the best of America’s fighting spirit

Nutsch had always been a history buff, and he had carefully studied Civil War cavalry charges and tactics, but he had never expected to ride horses into battle. In fact, it was the first time American Soldiers rode to war on horseback since World War II, and this ancient form of warfare was now considered unconventional.

“We’re blending, basically, 19th-century tactics with 20th-century weapons and 21st-century technology in the form of GPS, satellite communications, American air power,” Nutsch pointed out.

AUDACITY

And there were military tactics involved. Even the timing of the attacks was crucial. Nutsch remembers wondering why the Northern Alliance wanted to go after the Taliban midafternoon instead of in the morning, but it accounted for their slower speed on horseback, while still leaving time to consolidate any gains before darkness fell. (They didn’t have night vision goggles.)

5 best/worst Christmas movies with questionable military plotlines
U.S. Army special operators confer with Afghan chieftains and resistance fighters. Starting Oct. 19, 2001, 12-man Special Forces detachments from the U.S. Army Special Operations Command’s 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) began arriving in Afghanistan in the middle of the night, transported by aviators from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Battalion (Airborne). They were the first ground Soldiers of the war on terrorism following 9-11 and their mission was to destroy the Taliban regime and deny Al-Qaida sanctuary in Afghanistan. They scouted bomb targets and teamed with local resistance groups. Some of the Green Berets found themselves riding horses, becoming the first American Soldiers to ride to war on horseback since World War II. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Special Operations Command)

Supported by the Green Berets, Northern Alliance fighters directly confronted the Taliban over and over again. Some factions, like Nutsch’s, relied on horses for that first month. Others had pickup trucks or other vehicles, but they usually charged into battle armed with little more than AK-47s, machine guns, grenades and a few handfuls of ammunition. Meanwhile, the Taliban had tanks and armored personnel carriers and antiaircraft guns they used as cannons, all left behind by the Soviets when they evacuated Afghanistan in the 1980s.

It took a lot of heart, a lot of courage. “We heard a loud roar coming from the west,” said Master Sgt. Keith Gamble, then a weapons sergeant on ODA 585, as he remembered one firefight. “We had no clue what it was until we saw about 500 to 1,000 NA soldiers charging up the ridge line. I called it a ‘Brave Heart’ charge. What the NA didn’t realize was that the route leading up the ridgeline was heavily mined. The NA did not fare too well, as they received numerous injuries and had to retreat. We continued to pound the ridge line with bombs until the NA took it that evening.”

“They weren’t suicidal,” Nutsch, who worked with different ethnic groups, agreed, “but they did have the courage to get up and quickly close that distance on those vehicles so they could eliminate that vehicle or that crew. We witnessed their bravery on several occasions where they charged down our flank (to attack) these armored vehicles or these air defense guns that are being used in a direct fire role, and kill the crew and capture that gun for our own use.”

Green Berets remember first mission in Afghanistan after 9/11 (Part I)

MIGHTY MOVIES

Watch as WATM parties in LA with the posse behind ‘Range 15’

The wholly irreverent, veteran-fueled, zombie killing adventure ‘Range 15’ hit Los Angeles last week – and We Are The Mighty was invited to the party. WATM host Weston Scott ripped off his sleeves and dove into the fun with the guys of Article 15 and Ranger Up, taking over Ye Rustic Inn before taking over the red carpet at the Vista Theater in Hollywood.


Enjoy this look behind the scenes of “the most decorated movie of all times” (as Ranger Up!’s Nick Palmisciano puts it).

MIGHTY MOVIES

The new ‘This is Us’ military arc is deeply personal

U.S. Marine Corps veteran James LaPorta is “nervous as hell” for season four of the critically-acclaimed NBC drama This is Us because for him, the story couldn’t be more personal.

An infantry Marine with multiple Afghanistan deployments, LaPorta understands the impact of war. He also has some strong opinions about Hollywood’s depiction of it, which he shared for Newsweek when This is Us explored the Vietnam War during season three.

“While Hollywood has improved upon its depiction of military veterans in recent years, the majority of characters produced are still one dimensional. Usually, the audience is delivered a stereotype of either the incredibly heroic service member or the tragically broken veteran who is unable to function. In reality, these are plot vehicles for lazy writing that garner cheap emotional responses and that can contribute to the civilian-military divide that is already occurring,” he wrote.

Many in the military community agree and are quick to condemn military stories in film and television, but it was the Vietnam storyline that first caught LaPorta’s attention. In his opinion, This is Us had figured out the right way to tell veterans’ stories — though he couldn’t have predicted that he would sign on to be part of the team that would tackle the war in Afghanistan.

A war that, in LaPorta’s own words, is “being forgotten even as it’s being fought.”


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzmL4KNtcb0
This Is Us Returns for Season 4

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Watch the Season Four trailer:

LaPorta, already a fan of This is Us, was impressed by the Vietnam storyline and its depiction of how our veterans of that war were treated when they came home. LaPorta reached out to This is Us creator Dan Fogleman, who told Newsweek that the story was “not just about combat in war—[it was] about what veterans, and in particular, veterans of that generation, kept from their families, from significant others. Things they may have even kept from themselves at certain times.”

Fogleman invited LaPorta to visit the set and talk with the staff writers, which lead to LaPorta’s involvement on the show. He was hired as a military advisor for season four, which introduces the character of Cassidy Sharp (played by Jennifer Morrison), a soldier who struggles to return home from Afghanistan.

The story comes with pressure to “get it right.” LaPorta didn’t want to depict another military caricature, but the balance between telling an entertaining story and showing what it’s truly like for veterans is a tricky one. For LaPorta, it’s not only personal in that he shares his own experiences, but he also wove the stories of people he served with into this season.

Late post from last night’s @NBCThisisUs premiere. Actor Rich Paul is also a @USMC veteran. His character is Sgt. Lasher, which is also an homage to another #Marine I served with in Afghanistan. Lance Cpl Jeremy Lasher was killed in combat on July 23, 2009 https://thefallen.militarytimes.com/marine-lance-cpl-jeremy-s-lasher/4207099 …pic.twitter.com/njME4HVT35

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LaPorta not only provided guidance about uniforms and weapons, but he was intent on getting every detail right, down to the proper tourniquets for the military units or the red dye in the beards of Afghan locals. He wanted it to be visually authentic at a minimum.

But he took his role as military advisor further by truly bridging the divide between the military and civilians in the cast and crew. One of the more meaningful ways he did this was by making and gifting memorial bracelets to honor the memories of fallen service members.

Among those who received bracelets were Fogleman and Morrison, the writing team, Executive Producer and Director Ken Olin, and Milo Ventimiglia, who plays a Vietnam War veteran in the show (and whose father was an actual Vietnam War veteran).

It was quite powerful and important to us my friend. Our North Star for her story this season. #ThisIsUshttps://twitter.com/JimLaPorta/status/1176714723280244736 …

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When I asked what he was most excited about with this season’s story, LaPorta mentioned that female veterans in particular are underrepresented on-screen. “We’ve seen my story before, in terms of the male infantryman. We’ve seen it. But we haven’t really seen what women go through,” he insisted.

Then, about two weeks prior to his first meeting for season four, Navy cryptologist Shannon Kent had just been killed in an ISIS suicide attack.

While Cassidy Sharp isn’t based on Kent or any one veteran in particular, she is a character who is serving in a combat zone, which many Americans are surprised to discover is the reality of post-9/11 wars. Female service members are risking their lives every day and their experience is unique.

“As we’re making this storyline, there are actually people fighting these wars,” LaPorta shared. “It’s something I’ll never forget, and I wanted to give the memorial bracelets so the cast and crew can remember that fact, too. It was a way to thank them for telling this story.”

This is not how we expected Cassidy to cross paths with the Pearsons…pic.twitter.com/dVtxFAVwws

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Watch This is Us Tuesday nights on NBC at 9/8c.

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