It’s been four months since the kinda disappointing Game of Thrones finale, but HBO is trying to make it up to us with new shows set in the same universe. Filming on a pilot starring Naomi Watts has already wrapped, and now the network appears close to ordering another.
The as-yet-untitled series would take place 300 years before Thrones and focus on the origins of House Targaryen, that of the Mad King, the Mother of Dragons, and — outdated spoiler alert — Jon Snow himself.
The concept for the show was created by writer and producer Ryan Condal and George RR Martin. It’s based on Fire Blood, a series Martin created as a spin-off to the A Song of Ice and Fire and reportedly represents a new take on one of the five prequel scripts HBO commissioned in 2017.
The tagline of Fire Blood is “when dragons ruled Westeros,” which means instead of Daenerys’s three miracle dragons the spin-off should feature way more winged beasts and, we can only presume, a healthy dose of aerial combat.
To date, only the first volume of Martin’s series has been published, which makes us wonder if Martin could be in another situation where a TV series of his lurches ahead of the books it’s ostensibly based on.
Three hundred years is a long time in anyone’s family history, so don’t be surprised if there’s some complicated family tree math to be done connecting the characters in this show to those we meet in Game of Thrones, drawings not unlike those you’d find in the front of one of Martin’s books or on your mail-in DNA test results page.
This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.
Prior to filming Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1980, director Steven Spielberg and writer George Lucas really, really didn’t want to cast as Harrison Ford as Indy. Instead, they wanted that guy who your mom thought was hot in the ’70s, Mr. Magnum P.I. himself, Tom Selleck. Selleck famously screen-tested for the character of Indiana Jones, but because he was locked into a contract with Magnum P.I., he couldn’t take the role! Spielberg and Lucas brought in Harrison Ford just a few weeks before filming. (Lucas didn’t want to, because he’d already cast Ford in the Star Wars movies.) The rest is history, and Harrison Ford’s (other) famous franchise was born.
But what if Selleck had been cast? A new “deepfake” video created by YouTube user Sham00K is answering that question and making the rounds on the internet. It digitally plasters Selleck’s ’80s face — including the famous mustache — over Harrison Ford’s. It’s basically a way to see (but not hear, Ford’s voice is still audible) an alternate dimension in which Selleck played Indy.
If Tom Selleck had said yes to ‘Indiana Jones’ instead of Harrison Ford
You can also watch Selleck’s screen test for Raiders with actress Sean Young below. This has been around for a while and is relevant to this thought experiment because Tom Selleck’s voice is super-distinctive in a way that is totally different than Harrison Ford. (It’s also interesting because though Karen Allen, not Sean Young, ended up playing Marion, Young did star opposite Harrison Ford in Blade Runner a few years later in 1982. So many roads not taken in these ’80s movies!)
The new “deepfake” video also assumes that there would have been Indiana Jones movies after Raiders of the Lost Ark; it features digitally altered scenes of Tom Selleck in both Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade. But, let’s get serious. Tom Selleck is fine, but the reason there were sequels to Raiders of the Lost Ark is because of the singular charm and deadpan coolness of Harrison Ford. Meaning, the idea of digitally inserting Selleck into Temple of Doom and Last Crusade is anachronistic, twice.
We’re still a long way out from a new Indy movie, but most of the old ones are still on Netflix!
This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.
2018 marks the 20th anniversary of Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan, an iconic film that remains one of the most honest depictions of war.
“It was a mentally demoralizing experience for us,” Spielberg told film critic Roger Ebert. Nevertheless, it was important for the director “to show America the dark side of the face of war.”
(Photo by DreamWorks Studios and Paramount Pictures)
Spielberg made many deliberate decisions to ensure the authenticity and the truth of war portrayed in this film, and the behind-the-scenes footage is riveting. The D-Day invasion scene took over two weeks to shoot and involved thousands of extras — including Irish Army reservists and real amputees.
Even the camera movements and lenses were all designed to follow the movement of combat and obscure the viewer’s vision, replicating the chaos and confusion of battle. Spielberg shot the film chronologically, which is an unusual choice for filmmakers.
“We shot in continuity, from beginning to end. We were all reliving the story together…but I didn’t realize how devastating that was going to be for the whole cast to actually start off with Omaha Beach and survive that as a film team, and then move into the hedgerows, move into the next town, as we all began to get whittled down by the storytelling.”
It was important for Spielberg to honor those who fought in World War II. “I think it is the key — the turning point of the entire century. World War II allowed my generation to exist.” His own father, Arnold Spielberg, enlisted in the U.S. Army after the attacks against Pearl Harbor.
(Photo by DreamWorks Studios and Paramount Pictures)
Saving Private Ryan perfectly balanced the inhumanity of war with the very-human warfighters, and continues to be one of the most celebrated films of all time.
To honor the 20th anniversary, the film is now available on 4K UltraHD™ as well as Blu-Ray™ and Digital. Check out the video below for a deeper look at how it was made:
But a lot will change for the MCU after this year.
Disney, which owns Marvel, will own the film rights to the X-Men and the Fantastic Four after merging with Fox. The producer Kevin Feige has said he expects that to happen within the first six months of 2019, at which point he’ll get the green light to develop projects with those characters.
It comes at a good time, as “Endgame” marks the end of this era for the MCU, and veteran actors like Chris Evans (who plays Captain America) are expected to retire from their roles.
But before the MCU faces a big shakeup, we ranked all 21 movies — including “Captain Marvel” — from worst to best.
Here’s every Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, ranked:
The MCU has since become a well-oiled machine that knows how to balance it all. But in 2010, it was still working on that.
20. “Thor” (2011)
Directed by Kenneth Branagh
There’s nothing particularly horrible about “Thor,” but there’s nothing memorable either. It’s impressive that the movie works at all, considering that Thor, an alien god with daddy issues, was such a little-known character at the time, and Chris Hemsworth was not the superstar he is now. But James Gunn managed to turn even lesser-known and weirder characters into MCU standouts in “Guardians of the Galaxy.” It would take a while for Thor to really come into his own.
We now know Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk, but in the second MCU movie, Edward Norton was in the role.
Out of all the MCU movies, “The Incredible Hulk” feels the least connected to the universe. Liv Tyler’s Betty Ross, Banner’s love interest, has never appeared again, and neither has Tim Blake Nelson, who was teased as the Hulk’s archnemesis, the Leader.
But even with that tease, a sequel never happened, and the only character besides the Hulk to have any meaningful connection to the MCU has been General “Thunderbolt” Ross, played by William Hurt, who popped up again in 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War.”
(Disney / Marvel)
18. “Thor: The Dark World” (2013)
Directed by Alan Taylor
It’s almost pointless to compare the first two “Thor” movies, as they’re both toward the bottom of the MCU barrel. But “The Dark World” is a tad more fun than “Thor,” and it’s integral in introducing one of the Infinity Stones (the Reality Stone) that Thanos ends up using to destroy half of humanity.
But Marvel still hadn’t realized that Hemsworth’s best attribute in the role is his humor, and the character — and the first two movies — suffer because of it.
17. “Doctor Strange” (2016)
Directed by Scott Derrickson
“Doctor Strange” is the most overrated movie in the MCU. By 2016, movies like the Russos’ “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Civil War” had progressed the MCU into new territory, but “Doctor Strange” felt like a step back. Sure, the magic was cool, but it also relied on a formulaic plot with a forgettable love interest. (How do you not give Rachel McAdams more to do?!)
16. “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015)
Directed by Joss Whedon
This “Avengers” sequel made the same mistake as “Iron Man 2”: cramming too much into its plot to serve the future of the franchise.
The movie features some cool action sequences, notably the Iron Man-Hulk battle. But it fails to distinguish Ultron, the Avengers’ biggest enemy in the comics, from other two-dimensional MCU villains, and it spends too much time setting up future movies. (What exactly is Thor doing?)
15. “Ant-Man” (2015)
Directed by Peyton Reed
“Ant-Man” is a fun little Marvel movie, but not much else. Paul Rudd is charming in the lead role, and Evangeline Lilly is more than just a love interest as Hope van Dyne (the future Wasp). But the movie still falls into familiar territory, including a lackluster villain in Corey Stoll’s Yellowjacket.
(Disney / Marvel)
14. “Captain America: The First Avenger” (2011)
Directed by Joe Johnston
“The First Avenger” is arguably the first movie that “mattered” in the MCU. While “Iron Man” is better, “The First Avenger” sets up “The Avengers” better than “Iron Man,” which basically acts as a prequel to the big team-up movie.
“The First Avenger” would prove essential to the movies that came after — even “Infinity War” with the unexpected return of a character thought to be dead.
13. “Iron Man 3” (2013)
Directed by Shane Black
“Iron Man 3” is the most divisive movie in the MCU, and for good reason. It takes some wacky turns, with a major twist that ruined the movie for plenty of people. But I admire that Black just went for it with this movie and delivered something that fans still argue over.
12. “Ant-Man and the Wasp” (2018)
Directed by Peyton Reed
While it’s not necessarily an “essential” MCU movie, it improves on the first “Ant-Man” in nearly every way, with plenty of heart and humor.
Reed came back to direct after replacing Edgar Wright at the last minute on the first movie, and “Ant-Man and the Wasp” feels as if he was more adjusted to the job, with some well-polished action sequences and a great handle on the characters.
11. “Captain Marvel” (2019)
Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
Maybe in time “Captain Marvel” will inch higher on this list. But for now, it’s a solid entry into the MCU, but not a fantastic one.
Boden and Fleck are at their best in the character-driven aspects of the movie. Unfortunately, it’s the action the movie is lacking, which hurts it by the end.
Brie Larson is perfect in the title role, though, and her chemistry with Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury makes the movie. There are also some surprising twists that elicited plenty of reactions from theater audiences. If anything, this is a worthy appetizer for “Avengers: Endgame.”
10. “Spider-Man: Homecoming” (2017)
Directed by Jon Watts
I didn’t have a strong positive reaction to “Homecoming” when I first saw it, but it’s grown on me. Peter Parker’s motivations throughout the movie to be a hero — impressing Tony Stark — rubbed me the wrong way at first. But it’s hard not to like Tom Holland’s spot-on portrayal of the character, and the movie knows exactly what it wants to be: high-school ’80s classic meets modern superhero flick. And Michael Keaton is truly menacing as Adrian Toomes/Vulture in what began a hot streak for villains in the MCU.
9. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” (2017)
Directed by James Gunn
Though “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is a step back from the first movie, it’s still the most underrated MCU movie. The “Guardians” movies are unique entries in the franchise, and it’s a shame Gunn was given the boot from the third movie, which is in limbo.
8. “Iron Man” (2008)
Directed by Jon Favreau
The first movie — and still among the best — “Iron Man” kicked off what has become the most lucrative movie franchise of all time. But in 2008, it was just a fun superhero origin movie that defied the odds.
Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark, and it’s hard to think of anyone else who could have embodied the role with so much of the necessary charisma to sell a character who casual audiences hadn’t cared about.
7. “The Avengers” (2012)
Directed by Joss Whedon
Four years after “Iron Man,” “The Avengers” proved that Marvel had what it takes to pull off a connected universe of movies. It’s even more impressive considering that the early MCU movies, like “Thor,” “Iron Man 2,” and “The Incredible Hulk,” are some of the worst in the franchise. But “The Avengers” course-corrected, delivering a bona fide blockbuster that hadn’t been achieved before.
(Disney / Marvel)
6. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (2014)
Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo
2014 marks the point when the MCU really got it together. There have been minimal low points since, and it’s because Kevin Feige and crew finally had the machine running smoothly with low-profile directors who could deliver surprising superhero movies.
Among those filmmakers were the Russos, who have become somewhat of the architects of the universe. After “The Winter Soldier,” an expertly crafted espionage thriller posing as a superhero movie, they went on to direct “Civil War,” “Infinity War,” and “Endgame.”
(Disney / Marvel Studios)
6. “Thor: Ragnarok” (2017)
Directed by Taika Waititi
“Thor: Ragnarok” is the most absurd movie in the MCU, but that’s only part of what makes it so good. This is when Marvel finally realized that Chris Hemsworth is an extremely funny guy with loads of charm and built a movie around that.
It’s also probably the closest thing we’ll get to another Hulk movie in the MCU.
4. “Captain America: Civil War” (2016)
Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo
“Civil War” is loosely based on a 2007 comic-book event of the same name that pits Marvel’s superheroes against one another over the ethics of a registration act making it illegal for any superpowered person to not register their identities with the government.
The MCU version is obviously more contained, but that’s what makes it so good. It takes a huge storyline and successfully tells it through Captain America’s perspective, making it even more personal.
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
3. “Black Panther” (2018)
Directed by Ryan Coogler
“Black Panther” is a lot of firsts: the first superhero movie to be nominated for best picture, the first movie to win Oscars for Marvel Studios, the first superhero movie with a predominantly black cast.
It was more than just an MCU movie — it was a cultural event. And its box office reflects that. It was the highest-grossing movie in the US in 2018, breaking barriers and riding its success all the way to Oscar gold.
2. “Avengers: Infinity War” (2018)
Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo
“Infinity War” is an order of magnitude bigger than “Avengers” or “Civil War.” With a cast of over 20 characters, “Infinity War” is the culmination of 10 years of universe-building.
The Russos pulled it off, and they’re not done yet. After the most shocking ending in an MCU movie, the story will continue in “Endgame.”
But on its own, “Infinity War” is an impressive balancing act, and Josh Brolin’s Thanos lives up to the hype.
1. “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014)
Directed by James Gunn
“Guardians of the Galaxy” was the first MCU movie that really felt disconnected from the rest of the universe, but not in a negative way like “The Incredible Hulk.” It’s an important entry in the franchise from a story standpoint — but it’s also just a hilarious, fun, self-contained movie that turned an unknown group of characters into fan favorites.
It’s the most rewatchable movie in the MCU, with a brilliant soundtrack, but it’s the characters that really make it, from the dynamic between Rocket and Groot to the oblivious Drax. They don’t like each other at first, but the audience loves them as soon as they’re introduced.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
After last week’s disaster of an episode, The Mandalorian brought its A-game, and some major fan-favorites, to Chapter 11: The Heiress. Spoilers ahead.
Din Djarin, the Child and Frog Lady make it safely to the watery moon of Tresk, where Djarin’s passenger is reunited with Frog Man at long last. Let the fertilization begin! Djarin and the Yoda Baby head to a restaurant for some chowder (some living chowder…why??) and information, where the Mon Calamari server tells Djarin where he can find the other Mandalorians.
Turns out, those sumbitches were trying to murder the Yoda Baby and our Mandalorian! They kick the baby basket into the cage of a watery-sarlacc looking thing, prompting Djarin to dive in after him. Luckily for him, not one but three Beskar-armored fighters come to his rescue (and Ludwig Göransson’s score is, per usual, fantastic).
His rescuers include Bo-Katan of Clan Kryze, whom fans may recognize from Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. Played by Katee Sackhoff (who also voiced the animated character), Bo-Katan is a Mandalorian whose past includes run-ins with Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Maul; she became Lady of House Kryze and Regent of Mandalore after overthrowing Maul, but she was deposed when she refused to submit to Emperor Palpatine.
Upon removing their helmets, they explained to Djarin that he is a “Child of the Watch,” which she described as a cult of religious zealots who broke away from Mandalorian society with the goal of reestablishing the ancient way. Until this point, he’d believed that all Mandalorians were like him — but Bo-Katan offers a new path.
He remains committed to his mission of returning the Yoda Baby to the Jedi; Bo-Katan promises to take him to a Jedi — but first she needs his help raiding an Imperial ship for weapons. Here, director Bryce Dallas Howard delivers some nostalgic battle scenes, with blaster fire against Stormtroopers in ship corridors.
During the skirmish, we learn that its commanding officer (played by Titus Welliver) would rather destroy it — along with everything and everyone on board — than see it in the hands of the Mandalore “pirates.” Bo-Katan isn’t satisfied with their findings or the deaths of her enemy. She’s looking for something more: The Darksaber, an ancient black-bladed lightsaber passed down to her to rule Mandalore. It fell into the hands of Moff Gideon during the Great Purge of the Mandalorians.
With a common enemy, I expect we’ll see more of Clan Kryze; but for now, she and Djarin part ways after she tells him he can find a Jedi by the name of Ashoka Tano, a Star Wars: The Clone Wars fan-favorite long-rumored to be played by Rosario Dawson.
Editor’s note: This review deals with a graphic, mature-rated game. Some of the imagery in the video above and the GIFs below reflect the violent nature of the game.
The newest game in the “Doom” franchise, named just “Doom” despite coming after “Doom 3,” was released May 13 to great fanfare, and it’s a solid throwback to the shoot-em-up, arcade feel of the original “Doom” games.
Fans of “Doom 3” may be disappointed that Bethesda moved the series away from the survival horror genre, but players of the earliest games in the franchise will love just how overpowered the Doom Marine feels in most situations, shooting his way through dozens of enemies.
The game opens with the Doom Marine chained naked to a table during a demonic ritual. His first move is to smash a hellspawn to death against said table before breaking out.
The combat that follows is loosely wrapped around a story, but it’s hard to follow in-game because you’re far too busy ripping apart demons to pay attention to any sort of plot.
The broad strokes version is that a brilliant scientist found a way to send energy across the solar system and, instead of beaming geothermal energy collected from volcanic vents on other planets, electromagnetic energy harnessed in planetary fields, or solar energy absorbed from the sun, the scientist decided to open portals to Hell from Mars and use Hell’s energy because … reasons.
This plan goes predictably wrong.
One of the scientists at the station, influenced by all of the Hell energy, has decided that a literal Hell-on-Mars might not be such a bad idea and unleashes destruction on the Mars facility. (Guess whose job it is to fix it.)
While the story is a bit weak and there are a few head-scratching moments, they’re all an excuse to mow down demons, which is what we all came here to do. And there are no human survivors to worry about.
This leaves the Doom Marine free to attack the hordes with no qualms about collateral damage, so the player can fire everything from the plasma rifle to the super shotgun to the beloved BFG with abandon and without remorse. For players unfamiliar with the BFG, it’s name is an acronym for “Big F-cking Gun,” and it delivers.
These high-powered weapons can be upgraded and modified. This is necessary since classic monsters like the Hell Knights, the Revenant, and others are back to ruin the rest of the Doom Marine’s life.
To help players take down the soldiers of Hell, the game also offers “Rune Challenges” that allow for character upgrades that last between battles. These upgrades make it much easier to survive and smash through enemies and can be combined with temporary power-ups that grant special abilities.
Players who combine rune upgrades and power-ups can become devastating weapons of war, capable of single-handedly bringing down entire legions.
Rampaging across the maps is pretty fun, but can get repetitive. Players who want a real challenge can select “Nightmare” difficulty. This makes the game significantly tougher but doesn’t fix the “been there, done that” feeling of fighting a room full of demons after fighting a room full of demons after fighting a room full of demons.
To break up the campaign, “Doom” also offers a multiplayer mode with a few new twists on standard fare. The most significant addition to all game types is the ability to play as one of your favorite demons after grabbing a pentagram power-up – players start out with the rocket-wielding Revenant unlocked. There’s also a new version of King of the Hill called “Warpath” with a capture point that rotates around the map on a set circuit, and a new game type called Freeze Tag where, unsurprisingly, instead of dying you freeze in a block of ice until your teammates thaw you out.
Players who want something new with great graphics and plenty of opportunities to massacre bad guys should definitely pick up the newest “Doom.” Gamers who are looking for something new from first-person shooters might think about sitting this one out.
In America, we call it “eminent domain.” In China, they call it a Wednesday. Or whatever day the government comes and decides to take your house so they can build a freeway across what used to be your living room.
Yang Youde was a 56-year-old rice farmer who one day got the word that the government wanted to develop the land on which his farm stood. He wasn’t having it. He’d heard the stories about other regular people being forced off their land. Yang wasn’t about to become a victim.
Before the Chinese government and the hired agents of the land developers could force him out, he set out to create a system of defenses that would keep them in fear of coming onto his property. Using old stovepipes and fireworks, he built a real-life cannon that could fire rockets up to 100 yards.
“My goal isn’t to hurt anyone, I just want to solve my problem,” Yang told al-Jazeera. “If I get hounded out, I’m left with nothing. What’s my future except to steal, rob, or beg?
In February 2010, they came for him determined to violently force him away. He fired rockets at 30 crews until he ran out of ammo. After a physical altercation, the local police stepped in and forced the developers to come back some other time.
Yang made more ammo. And a giant watchtower. He also converted a push cart into a mobile rocket launcher.
From that high vantagepoint, he was able to hold off 100 demolition crew workers. This time, when the police came, they came for Yang.
Yang was offered the U.S. equivalent of ,000 for his Wuhan-adjacent farm. But he had a nice parcel of land with a fishpond on it. He knew he couldn’t fight the government forever, but he wanted at least a fair price. After all, his contract for the land didn’t run out for another 19 years.
And he said the Chinese government’s compensation policies entitled him to five times the offered amount. The old farmer had been growing watermelons and cotton on the land for some 40 years.
When all was said and done, Chinese state media reported that Yang was offered upward of 0,000 for his land, which he eventually agreed to. According to al-Jazeera, Yang was also held in jail for 51 days and tortured for his famous stand.
The 1994 movie “True Lies” is a classic Arnold Schwarzenegger action-comedy flick with several memorable scenes, but perhaps none more iconic than Arnold flying in an AV-8B Harrier to (spoiler alert) rescue his daughter from terrorists. That twenty minutes or so of film time involving the Harrier is particularly important for a relatively small community of Marines, Harrier mechanics and pilots, that I happen to be part of.
This may come as a shock to a lot of you: these scenes are riddled with mistakes and inaccuracies. Imagine how betrayed we all felt by the movie that has the bad guy successfully jump a motorcycle from the top of a hotel to land in the pool across the street without a scratch. The movie where Jamie Lee Curtis (Helen Tasker) drops a MAC-10 machine pistol down a flight of stairs, and the gun fires a burst of rounds during every bounce on the steps, dispatching an entire squad of terrorists and leaving the female lead unharmed. The nerve of these Hollywood types to take creative license with the jet we know and love. They went too far!
Alright, the truth is, most of the people I know saw the movie before they even knew what a Harrier was, and even after the fact, the movie is entertaining and good for a chuckle. But on the other hand, picking apart mistakes made by military movies is a favorite past time of all veterans, and we in the Harrier community are no exception. There are some things that stood out to me as immediately wrong, but as I have mentioned, I wasn’t the most knowledgeable Harrier guy on the block, either. I had to put some of these questions to my more qualified friends from those days, and got a lot of help from a current Harrier pilot who asked to remain anonymous. So let’s get to dissecting these discrepancies, one by one.
Harriers are LOUD
The amount of hearing loss alone that would have taken place in this movie is devastating. The “ground noise” of an AV-8B is 140 decibels, which actually falls slightly under that of similarly-sized aircraft like the F/A-18 or F-35, but still well over what it takes to cause permanent hearing damage. When we worked on the flightline and a jet was turning nearby, we were actually supposed to wear double hearing protection in the form of ear plugs and our “cranials” (basically a plastic helmet with earphones). Admittedly, I didn’t always wear both (maybe those class-action lawsuit guys will stop bothering me now that I’ve admitted that publicly), but let’s just say no hearing protection at all would have put a real strain on my marriage considering my wife already gets frustrated with how deaf I am.
However, no hearing protection at all is exactly what we see in multiple scenes. First, the two Harrier pilots land at the end of Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys (1:59:10), where a significant amount of police are seen directing the confused and frightened civilians away from the bridge, and Tom Arnold’s character (Gibb) is instructing them to avoid looking at the flash from the imminent nuclear blast. Presumably, most of these people did not have earplugs handy, but they appear somehow unphased by the two ear-splitting beasts descending upon them.
Within a couple of minutes, Arnold’s character (Harry Tasker) has found out his daughter Dana has been kidnapped, and commandeers one of the Harriers to take matters into his own hands (2:02:10). Once again, plenty of bystanders nearby are mostly unphased by the turning jet only about 50 yards away. One could make the flimsy argument that the police and Gibb have had their hearing ruined by years of service involving firearms, but this seems less likely for Harry’s wife, Helen, who instead uses her hands to cover her mouth in concern.
Then, our protagonist (who, by the way, also has no hearing protection) receives a situation report from their man on the inside using a handheld radio (2:06:15). The only problem is, there’s no way that he could hear a single thing on that radio, according to my pilot source. So the critical information he receives about the location of his targets and the ever-important hostage never would have been possible.
The whine of the Pegasus turbofan engine is only faintly heard while Harry instructs a frantic Dana to “Hang on!” or when the boss bad guy, Salim, trains his AK-47 on Harry and demands he take the plane down. Any pilot or maintainer would be happy to tell you that none of this dialogue would be taking place, and while you couldn’t hear it, they would just be screaming something to the effect of, “Oh my God! I think my brain is leaking out of my ears!”
The gun doesn’t work that way
The Harrier’s GAU-12 Equalizer five-barrel Gatling cannon fires a devastating burst of 25mm rounds at a rate of 3,600-4,200 rounds per minute. There’s just one problem: Harriers are only armed with 300 rounds. Sparing you the math lesson on proportions, that’s a total of five seconds, at best, before the Harrier expends all its ammunition. Were the guns fired for longer than five seconds in the movie? Let’s take a look.
Before Harry takes control of one of the jets, both pilots fire a realistic burst of about four seconds at one of the trucks trying to get across the bridge. The second pilot neutralizes the lead vehicle (1:53:10). Nice shooting, sir!
But that’s the last we see of the cannon, right? Nope. Harry’s first move when he gets to the skyscraper is to hover menacingly up to the floor with the bulk of the terrorists, pausing briefly to allow his badassery to soak in while his enemies realize the error of their ways. He then unloads a 12-13 second burst from what would have been an empty gun (2:07:44).
Then three adversaries in a helicopter begin firing upon Harry as he is trying to retrieve his daughter from the crane she is stranded on. He yaws the jet to his right and returns fire with another six or seven-second burst before the helicopter escapes behind another building (2:09:16). This was a fun trip to imagination-land where a Harrier carries an additional 1,000 rounds or so!
To be fair, “True Lies” is far from the first movie to take liberties with a weapon’s capacity, and it won’t be the last. But there’s another problem with these scenes besides the unlimited ammo cheat code: The Harrier’s GAU-12 runs on bleed air from the engine. While the jet is in its trademark hover, that bleed air is prioritized for use by the Reaction Control System (RCS) that keeps the jet from spinning out of control. My pilot source tells me that it would be “theoretically plausible” to squeeze off a few rounds before the gun jammed, if all the conditions (wind, temperature, weight distribution, fuel load) are perfect, but nothing like the firestorm Harry unleashes.
Hovering is incredibly difficult, for both pilot and jet
Making a 20,000-pound aircraft float on air is no simple task. From the pilot’s perspective, hours upon hours of training are necessary to master the skill, without even mentioning all of the time dedicated to conventional flight. Our hero, Harry Tasker, is evidently a former Harrier pilot. His partner, Gibb, conveniently informs us when he says, “Do you realize it has in fact been ten years since you’ve been behind the wheel of one of these things?”
Ten years… Harrier pilots have to train constantly and are required to qualify multiple times per year in various scenarios just to prove they are worthy of the cockpit. But Harry Tasker is one of the government’s top intelligence operatives. We can play along and cast aside that he hasn’t flown in a decade, because he’s basically a superhero capable of retaining skills at a level far above the average human. Fine, I’ll bite.
But unless “True Lies” takes place in the same universe as the “Terminator” franchise, and Harry becomes one with the jet because he is actually another cyborg sent from the future to prevent a nuclear war (wait a minute, that actually almost makes sense), then there are some things that even he couldn’t do. There is a sequence where Harry keeps the jet steady, while he is focused on trying to keep his daughter alive and also fending off a knife attack from Salim (2:10:15). My pilot source, in particular, takes issue with this:
“Hovering is very intensive with control inputs. There’s no way he let’s go of the stick for more than a couple seconds without the jet going into an irrecoverable situation.”
This is all before mentioning how taxing maintaining a hover is on the jet. Harry is only in a hover for about five minutes of movie time, which actually is line with the Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization (NATOPS) flight manual that governs aviation for the Navy and Marine Corps. However, I asked my very helpful pilot about the stresses that would be placed on the jet in this action-packed sequence, and his expert opinion is that the engine would have flamed out at some point.
It would take a dissertation to explore all the different possibilities and permutations, but a brief summary will suffice for our purposes. There are only 90 seconds worth of water in the Harrier. This is both to cool the engine and to improve the aircraft’s performance in a hover, as it creates heavier air for the jet to produce upward thrust. Given the conditions, like increased weight due to ordnance (or children hanging from the nose), and warmer temperatures like you’d expect in Miami, the engine likely wouldn’t have the performance numbers to maintain a hover much longer than that 90-second window.
Then there’s the issue of fuel consumption. The Harrier consumes about 160-170 pounds of fuel per minute while in a hover. Once again accounting for conditions, our pilot says that “best-case scenario” is that Harry’s Harrier (hey, do you think they did that on purpose?) could only have had about 1,200 pounds of fuel remaining in order to be able to take off vertically. It is roughly a 100-mile flight from the end of Seven Mile Bridge to downtown Miami. Considering that time was of the essence in this situation, we can safely assume Harry was at full power and guzzling fuel along the way. Then he is in a hover for five to six minutes during the downtown battle, and all of this coming after a takeoff that is very demanding in itself. The numbers add up to Harry hitting “E” sometime before he safely lands on the street below.
Misunderstandings of the Harrier’s durability
Surprisingly, I’ll start with an instance of the movie actually underestimating the Harrier. The windscreen and canopy of Harry’s aircraft have the structural integrity of a lightbulb when they take a few rounds from an AK-47 (2:08:40), but there are plenty of videos online that show how bulletproof glass will stand up to that. It wouldn’t be in particularly good shape, and you wouldn’t be able to see much through it, but it would still be there.
That is where the slights of the Harrier ended, though. The average viewer of the movie snickers during Harry’s “rusty” take-off where he very likely would have obliterated his nose landing gear, bouncing it off the road and then running over a police car (2:02:25). Every Harrier maintainer, on the other hand, just grimaced and had flashbacks to conditional/hard landing inspections.
That being said, damage to the nose landing gear wouldn’t have jeopardized Harry’s impromptu mission. After all, Captain William Mahoney landed his Harrier on the USS Bataan in June 2014 without the use of his nose landing gear at all. Catastrophic damage to flight controls, on the other hand, would have given the movie a very different ending.
While Harry puts up his heroic fight to maintain control of the jet, the aircraft backs into another skyscraper, sending the entire aft portion of the aircraft crashing into a high-rise office (2:10:50). Skyscrapers, it turns out, are made of quality steel and glass, not paper mache. Harry pulls the jet back out of the wreckage and it’s no worse for the wear, while Harrier mechs everywhere threw up their hands and said “Oh, c’mon!”
In the aviation community, Harriers or otherwise, we were taught that pebbles and screws can take down an entire aircraft by getting into the intake or jamming up flight controls. It’s called FOD (foreign object debris), and we walk shoulder to shoulder across the flight line at least twice a day hunting for it like a reverse easter egg hunt (because you hope you don’t find anything).
So seeing no noticeable decline in performance after a significant impact with a sturdy building that surely would have caused severe damage to the vertical stablilzer, rudder, and rear RCS (at the very least), is a tough pill to swallow for anyone that got yelled at for forgetting their pen on the flight line.
More fun with weapons
There are a few other minor gripes with the movie’s depiction of the Harrier’s weapons that can’t really be proven or disproven, but still cause raised eyebrows for anyone who can’t just watch the damn movie and enjoy it. One thing my overthinking brain had to challenge was a Cherry Point, NC-based Harrier squadron “on maneuvers” out of Naval Air Station (NAS) Key West, as Gibb informs Harry (1:51:50). This part is rare, but not impossible. The two jets armed to the teeth with Mavericks, rockets, Sidewinders and gun pod for a training sortie? Now that’s where I draw the line, and my pilot source confirms:
“Carrying actual AIM-9 (Sidewinders) is super rare. I don’t know any Harrier pilot who has shot a live one… LMAVs are super expensive and rare to shoot as well. For training we typically get maybe one live one a year, if that. If it was a dedicated air to surface sortie, a more plausible loadout would be gun and 2x Mk-82 or GBU-12.”
Fast-forward again to when Harry is about to put an end to the terrorist threat for good. Right before he sends Crimson Jihad’s leader screaming through the air on a missile towards his comrades in the helicopter, he flicks the “Master Arm” switch on. This is a little strange considering he has fired the gun twice in the last few minutes, but maybe he’s just cautious and responsible, and flicked it off after both bursts. If Harry had a motto, it would be “safety first,” right? In fairness, this is the aviation equivalent of every movie bad guy chambering a round in their pistol because it’s cool and intimidating, even though they’d just eject a perfectly good round. Once again, “True Lies” is not the only guilty party on this one.
And finally, there is Salim being attached to the Sidewinder missile itself. The Sidewinder weighs about 190 pounds, and its propulsion system is designed for… 190 pounds. I am not aware of any tests where one was fired with roughly 200 pounds of dead weight attached to it, but it’s at least worth asking how much doubling up its weight and killing its aerodynamics would have on its performance. Where are the Mythbusters these days? I’ve got a job for them.
It’s all in fun
All of this being said, I’ll be the first to recognize some of these criticisms fall into “splitting hairs” territory. The movie is obviously very entertaining, and we Harrier folks still appreciate our fifteen minutes of movie fame from “True Lies” after being overshadowed by F-14s. And yes, veterans are sure to jump all over errors or omissions in military-themed movies, but we’ll also give credit where it’s due. We’re just here to keep you honest, Hollywood. You’re welcome.
There’s a special place in our hearts for zombie films. It’s a fun little escape to the smokepit conversations every troop has while deployed, like, “who would your zombie apocalypse team be?” And, “where would you go looting first?” Obviously, the only correct answers are your squadmates and the nearest gunshop, respectively, but I digress.
Zombie films have a strange place in the cinematic landscape. The ones that embrace the campiness of the genre tend to be more successful financially and the lower the budget of a zombie film, the more fun (or funny) it’ll probably be. This is part of what made the veteran-made Range 15 so enjoyable to other veterans who enjoy that special, corny magic typical of zombie films.
It was recently announced that J.J. Abrams is set to produce the upcoming film Overlord. From the looks of things, it’s going to be a zombie film set during the events of the Battle of Normandy — also known as Operation Overlord.
Kind of like the Norwegian film ‘Dead Snow.’
There is a bit of historical precedent for the film. The Nazis never created zombies (obviously), but their fascination with the occult and fringe sciences has been well documented. Hitler, in addition to being a mass-murdering f*ckhead, was obsessed with everything occult in trying to get an edge. This ranged from having officers study Nordic runes to sending troops into Tibet in search of Shangri-la and all sorts of messed-up stuff to create their so-called “übermensch.”
There is no historical record of the Nazis ever trying to reanimate the dead in any Frankensteinian or Lovecraftian manner, but it isn’t too far of a stretch to play on Hitler’s “thousand year army” dream to include “thousand year soldiers.”
The biggest homage has got to be given to the 1985 film, ‘Re-Animator.’
(Empire International Pictures)
Judging by the trailers, this film seems like it’s going to be an homage to both the war and zombie genres of film. Of course, fans have been quick to point out the similarities between it and Call of Duty‘s Nazi Zombie mode or Return to Castle Wolfenstein, if you want to actually want to get your gaming history right. In the film’s defense, it’s actually making far more references to the mutated Nazi monsters and transformation scenes in An American Werewolf in London.
It’s also interesting to note that this is the first rated-R film for both Bad Robot and J.J Abrams. It’s been said numerous times by Abrams himself that the film is not going to be a part of the Cloverfield franchise. While he’s known for his misdirection, it seems like he’s telling the truth, you know, since the Cloverfield alien was from space and this film is set in Nazi-occupied France.
The film also has plenty of great actors attached who have an impressive action-feature resume. Jovan Adepo of The Leftovers, Jacob Anderson of Game of Thrones, Bokeem Woodbine of The Rock and Riddick, and Wyatt Russell from the Black Mirror episode ‘Playtest’ are all co-leads against Pilou Asbæk’s (Euron Greyjoy from Game of Thrones) evil Nazi scientist character.
Overlord is going to be directed by Julius Avery, the director of the Australian indie film, Son of a Gun. Billy Ray, the writer of Captain Phillips, and Mark L. Smith, screenplay writer for The Revenant, co-wrote the script.
The film is scheduled for release on November 9th, 2018, but you can watch the trailer below right now.
To be a great actor, one must be able to pull from their real-life experiences. Moments they’ve lived become the actor’s mask. When it comes to military films, there is nobody better suited to play a troop than a veteran. This is that opportunity. The new film, Greyhound, is looking for extras to play Navy crewmen.
Greyhound is an adaptation of the C. S. Forester novel, The Good Shepherd. The screenplay is written by and will star the legendary Tom Hanks. Aaron Schneider, director of Get Low and the Academy Award-winning short Two Soldiers, will be directing. Gary Goetzman, a five-time Emmy winner for works like The Pacific and Band of Brothers, will produce the film.
That pedigree and care for WWII stories will now tell the Navy’s tale in the Atlantic. (Image via Wikicommons)
The novel follows the fictional Commander Krause as he assumes command of the escort protecting the Atlantic force in the Battle of the Atlantic as America enters the Second World War. Krause is a career Navy officer who must hide his fears, self-doubt, and fatigue to prove he belongs and can inspire his men as the war begins.
The story also happens to spotlight the hell of the Naval battles in the Atlantic, the cruelties of the sea, and the exhaustion of remaining at constant alert for an ever-lurking enemy.
The studio prefers people with military experience. Male actors from ages 19 to 49 who are clean-shaven and have a 1940’s Navy style crewman haircut (or willing to be styled this way) are needed to play background extras. They would be needed throughout principal photography, from mid-February to early April, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
You need to apply through Backstage, found here. The role is paid and available to non-Screen Actors Guild actors.
Disney+ launched a Comic-Con@Home 2020 panel for their new scripted series The Right Stuff, which will explore the early days of the U.S. space program through the “Mercury Seven” — the military pilots who became the first NASA astronauts during the space race of the Cold War. “Competing to be the first in space, these ordinary men achieve the extraordinary, inspiring America to turn toward a new horizon of ambition and hope,” boasted Comic-Con International.
The first original scripted series from National Geographic for Disney+ promises to take a “clear-eyed look” at the newly-formed NASA. Set to release in late 2020, the series debuted a first look in a panel moderated by Former NASA Astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison.
Yes, that Dr. Mae Jemison.
Jemison was not only the first African American woman selected for the NASA astronaut program — she was the first woman of color in the world to go into space. Watch the full panel right here:
Blast Off with Disney+’s “The Right Stuff” | Comic-Con@Home 2020
The panel revealed the first official clip of the series, introducing Alan Shepard to the uninitiated. Shepard, of course, went on to become the first American to travel to space and he remains on the short list of men who have walked on the moon.
“You gentlemen are accustomed to testing dangerous, unproven aircraft and yet somehow you’ve made it this far in one piece. Most of you have families. You have careers. You have lives. That could all come to an abrupt halt if you sign on to this endeavor. We want to take thirty-two of you to Lovelace Clinic for medical evaluations, but only seven of you will have what it takes. And those seven will be the Mercury Astronauts,” intone the recruiters in the clip.
Warning of the Russian advances, the clip sets the stage for America’s acceleration in space.
The original seven astronauts who flew for Project Mercury were Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Deke Slayton, and of course, Alan Shepard. Also known as the Original Seven and Astronaut Group 1, they were among America’s finest military pilots. Each of the trailblazers is now deceased, but their legacy lives on.
Top Gun is an iconic movie, no doubt about it. The action flick, which came out in 1986, was a blockbuster hit and has stayed popular in the three decades since.
The sequel comes out this summer and its trailers have already made us crave the need…. the need for speed.
The movie’s lexicon has permeated into our everyday language over the years. We tell others to “Cover me, Goose,” “Be my wingman anytime,” or “take me to bed or lose me forever.”
If you have ever been stationed in or have visited San Diego, you might have sung “Great Balls of Fire” at Kansas City Barbeque, sang “Highway to the Danger Zone” as you watched jets fly around Miramar, or hummed, “Take my Breath Away” as you hung out on a beach in Oceanside. The San Diego Padres have even tried several times to make “You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling” their version of the Red Sox’s “Sweet Caroline.”
One of the most iconic parts of the movie has to be the call signs.
Everyone loves call signs. They can be badass, cool, funny, and always give some glimmer of personality to a person in a military that tends to dissuade individuality.
(When my unit first got to Iraq, our command floated the idea of letting us pick a call sign. For an afternoon, I went back and forth between “Indian Outlaw” and “Buckeye” (my parents were from India and I left Ohio State to enlist in the Marines). Unfortunately, the movie 300 had recently come out, and after having every junior enlisted Marine fight over why they deserved to be called “Spartan” or “Leonidas,” the idea was scrapped, and we were assigned call signs based off our rank and last name.
Hence, instead of “Indian Outlaw,” I became “Echo4Juliet”… [puke]
On the flip side, Top Gun had some amazing call signs.
So let’s rank them from worst to first. We went off how awesome they sound, if they fit the character, and if they resonate with the audience. Here we go!
Charlie, played by Kelly McGillis, was based on a real-life civilian mathematician and maritime air superiority expert Christine “Legs” Fox. Her character did showcase the amount of data and analytical studies that went into studying and perfecting the art of aerial warfare. But the call sign Charlie was pretty lazy (the character’s first name was Charlotte) and really didn’t add anything to her personality.
Chipper is barely in the movie and is more of a seat filler. The lack of character doesn’t really give us much to wonder about his name. Doesn’t look very chipper to me.
When you think of the name Merlin, you think of wizardry and magic. You would think that someone with that call sign would either be doing some type of aviation wizardry. Instead, Merlin, played by Academy Award winner Tim Robbins pretty much looks like he’s about to crap is pants most of the time. Merlin is more apt for Andy Dufrense because of his escape from Shawshank and less Robbins character in Top Gun.
“Slider…. You stink…” Does it have to do with how he gets with the ladies? Or sliding in behind the enemy? Did he slide off a runway when in training and end up in the backseat as a result? Or was he a college baseball player that just had one pitch? I don’t know why this name doesn’t sit well, but it just doesn’t.
Maybe Cougar liked to go after older women. But, he probably was named after a ferocious animal. Its not a bad call sign, but not that original. His character, losing his edge, didn’t help.
Wolfman should have been called Cowboy. He wore a cowboy hat in class, after all. But he does have a personality that shines through all throughout the movie and comes across like an old school radio DJ ala Wolfman Jack. So that pushes him up on the list.
“Your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash!” Lines like that make it obvious why Stinger is well, Stinger. His butt-chewings would make him a great first sergeant, and when he speaks, he means business. “And if you screw up just this much, you’ll be flying a cargo plane full of rubber dog s**t out of Hong Kong!”
Hollywood looks good and acts the part. He’s got the shade and swagger and doesn’t seem to lose his cool. The name fits so much that after he is shot down and ends up ejecting and needed to be rescued out of the water, he still looks Hollywood-like.
It might have to do with the fact he is African American. It might have to do with the fact when he flies in, the sun goes down, and darkness arrives. Or both.
Regardless it is an awesome name. The helmet is even more bad ass.
Goose normally would suck, but it fits its characters personality so well. A guy with a callsign, Cobra wouldn’t be serenading women in bars, yelling “Great Balls of Fire” after getting in trouble, or taking Polaroids of MiGs…. WHILE INVERTED. Anthony Edwards, the actor who played Goose, later gave insight on why writers came up with the name.
“You can run kid, but you can’t hide” Jester is probably the perfect name of an instructor. He is wily, knows all the tricks, and is keen to remind you of why you are the student while he is the teacher. He also will break the rules and then throw them back in your face when you break them. (He did go below the hard deck first…..)
Jester was played by veteran actor Michael Ironside, whose own last name should be a call sign.
“That’s right…. Ice…Man… I am dangerous.”
Iceman chomps his teeth at him.
Everyone in the military fashions themselves to be the Iceman type. Cool. Calm. Collected…and Cocky. You keep your cool under pressure and stick to your training and planning. Nothing gets under his skin, and he thrives at the hint of competition.
Iceman looks Maverick right in the face and tells him why he is dangerous but doesn’t go running to higher command. He takes it as a challenge and goes out and wins. The only time he starts to crack is when he’s taking on five MiGs by himself (and can you really blame him on that?)
Based on Vietnam veteran, Top Gun instructor, and technical advisor Rear Admiral Pete “Viper” Pettigrew (holy Harry Potter name), Viper is a bad ass based on a real-life bad ass.
Vipers might look slow and sluggish but will deliver a quick strike. In the same manner, Viper doesn’t go around yelling like Stinger or Jester. He is quiet and calm and gives off the demeanor of tranquility… until he is in the air.
There he makes short work of his pupils.
Did you really think this name wasn’t going to be number one? Maverick has become synonymous with breaking the rules and flaunting the fact you’re doing it. It has been co-opted by politicians, someone you served with, and is now the #73 most popular boy’s name in America.
The name fits the character perfectly.
Jester : His fitness report says it all. Flies by the seat of his pants. Completely unpredictable. Viper : He got you, didn’t he? Jester : [pauses] Yeah.
Maverick knows what it takes to get the job done and has the talent to do it. He also does what drives a lot of the military brass (and Iceman) crazy. He thinks outside the box.
Once he is able to reconcile being a good wingman while still utilizing his talents, it is game over for the enemy MiGs. All we can do is enjoy the ride with the “oh crap” look that Merlin has.
Let us know if you had a great call sign in the military! Comment your call sign and why you got it!
Ray Allen, a 10-time NBA All-Star, recently participated in a USO holiday tour with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford. On this tour, the athlete, along with other celebrities, visited service members in Turkey, Qatar, Afghanistan, and Germany.
Now back in the states, Allen has spoken about much the trip meant to him, both as the son of an Air Force metals technologist and as a retired athlete.
NBA Legend Ray Allen meets with service members during a troop engagement at Incirlik Air Base, Dec. 5, 2016. (Photo: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro)
One of the topics Allen touched on during an interview with Sports Illustrated was the way military terms pop up in sports discussions, even though they don’t really fit:
In the NBA, often times we’ll be in the locker room and we’ll talk about “going to war” and “going into battle” and “being in the foxhole,” all these terminologies that we equate with being at war. I have such a greater appreciation for the conflicts going on around the world, now I try to not use those terms out of respect.
NBA legend Ray Allen, left, fires an M240 machine gun at the 7th Army Training Command’s Grafenwoehr Training Area during this year’s USO Holiday Tour, Grafenwoehr, Germany, Dec. 8, 2016. (Photo: U.S. Army Visual Information Specialist Gertrud Zach)
Allen also told SI about how a comment from Dunford helped him appreciate the military’s expeditionary mindset, and how service members are constantly working to make sure that conflicts rarely come to American shores:
One of the things that General Dunford said that resonated with me was, “We’re over here at war, my job is to make sure that we have all away games.” So when I got back on U.S. soil, I thought about how privileged we are.
While speaking to USA Today, the NBA player took a moment to discuss how different life is in a combat zone, but that being there with professional warfighters made him feel safe:
“I (felt) more protected than I’ve ever felt in my life, being on that tour. I had some bad guys with me. Guys who knew how to handle weapons, that had been in combat. I’m looking to my left and right, and I’m like ‘I’m safe, I feel good about where I am, because these guys know what they’re doing.’ And that’s what I want to tell everybody, any athlete, from the NBA to baseball to football…join up with the USO and take a tour. It’ll give you a greater perspective on war, it’ll give you a greater perspective on the people that are fighting the war.”