By any measure, the latest installment of the John Wick franchise is a hit. With a $30 million opening and about $158 million in global box office as of mid-March, “John Wick: Chapter 2” is riding high.
The flick is packed with action, badassery and edge-of-your-seat thrills. But what really stands out about the movie — and what might give it its 90 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating — is the Delta Force-esque gunplay.
The leaked video of “John Wick: Chapter 2” lead man Keanu Reeves punching some paper with tactical training guru Taran Butler in the lead up to the release of the film only helped illustrate how Wick’s got a little Ninja in his blood.
So how do you make the job harder for the assassin of assassins? Ditch the irons and replace them with Nerfs — then see how he does.
Well a YouTube team attempted just that, providing a stand in for Wick and bedecking him with an arsenal of foam and plastic. And what this Nerf John Wick was able to accomplish against 14 assassins will blow your mind.
Americans love them some Navy crime drama. Nothing shows more evidence of that than the success of the Emmy-winning, long-running show, JAG. If the show’s 227 episodes weren’t enough proof, consider that this show also spun off an even more popular show, NCIS, and its own spin-offs.
That’s right, JAG has grandchildren.
But the show wasn’t going to survive on mundane drama — no one cares if Petty Officer Valle was late coming back from LIBO — it needed some real juicy crime drama. The show was among the first to use “ripped from the headlines” plots — and no one can garner headlines like the U.S. military.
The show ran from 1995-2005 and, along the way, it covered some very interesting moments in U.S. Navy history. Now, JAG has finally found a home on cable television on WGN America, so you can experience these classic episodes and many, many more.
“Valor” – Season 6, Episode 17
This episode from 2001 features a character who was found aboard a boat laden with explosives. Terrorists captured a U.S. Marine and coerced her into helping them use the boat to hit an American destroyer. The Marine in question is held as the JAG officers try to determine if she was forced to assist the terrorists or if she had been turned by them.
The terrorist plot depicted in “Valor” is based on the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole while it was refueling in Yemen’s port city of Aden. Unlike the boat in the episode, the boat that attacked the Cole was completely destroyed and had no potentially traitorous Americans aboard.
The real bombing killed both boat drivers, along with 17 sailors. The blast wounded 39 more U.S. troops.
“Defensive Action” – Season 1, Episode 13
In the 1990s, the U.S. was heavily invested in the Balkan Conflict of the former Yugoslavia, especially the areas around Bosnia. So it makes good sense that conflict found its way onto the show. On a mission to return a Hind helicopter to Serbia, a Navy F-14 Tomcat malfunctions and explodes and the Serbian Hind begins strafing the ejected pilots. The Tomcat’s wingman lights up the Hind, earning a court-martial in the process. One of those ejected Tomcat pilots survives and evades Serbian patrols on the ground until he’s eventually rescued.
This is in reference to the rescue of U.S. Air Force pilot Scott O’Grady, who was shot down in an F-16C by Bosnian Serb SAM batteries. O’Grady evaded Serbian patrols for a solid week until he was rescued behind enemy lines by a force of United States Marines.
“Clipped Wings” – Season 3, Episode 22
During an exercise in the Mediterranean, an F-14 Tomcat collides with an Italian civilian helicopter, killing six people. The Italians demand to prosecute the pilot, and the Italian people are outraged. The pilot swears there was another aircraft he was avoiding when he ran into the helicopter.
In the real world, a Marine Corps aircraft did kill a number of Italian tourists as an EA-6B Prowler cut the cable of a cable car while flying lower than it should have been near Cavalese, Italy. The falling gondola killed all 20 people aboard, and the crew of the Prowler was put on trial for involuntary manslaughter, of which they were acquitted.
“Into the Breach” – Season 5, Episode 12
On April 19, 1989, a 16-inch gun turret aboard the USS Iowa exploded, killing 47 sailors and damaging the turret. The Navy concluded that one of the crewmen purposely caused the explosion. Congress, however, hated the Navy’s explanation and sent the GAO in to do an independent review. The GAO’s scientists found that an overram of powder bags was the likely explanation for the explosion.
In this episode, Harm and Mac are working an old case for law students in a mock trial — a case in which 29 sailors were killed when a disgruntled gun captain exploded his own turret. In the process of reviewing the old case, however, the two JAG officers find new evidence and new witnesses – enough to retry it.
“The Court-Martial of Sandra Gilbert” – Season 3, Episode 2
In this episode, Sandra Gilbert is a top-rated Cobra pilot who was suddenly grounded and charged with conduct unbecoming and disobeying orders when she begins an illegal relationship with an enlisted man, a Gunnery Sergeant. As it turns out, however, the Gunny is a married man. So, Harm has to defend Gilbert as the Corps tries to railroad charges against him.
A similar incident happened to U.S. Air Force Lt. Kelly Flinn, the first female B-52 pilot in Air Force history. In 1997, Flinn was discharged from the Air Force as a result of her adulterous affair with an enlisted subordinate’s husband, lying to Minot AFB officials about the affair, and then disobeying her superior’s order to break off the relationship.
As you can imagine, the media had a field day with the news.
So, if you’re in the market for heart-pounding drama and high-stakes operations, look no further than JAG.
Jason Cabell finished his mainstream directorial debut with the film “Running with the Devil,” starring Nicolas Cage and Laurence Fishburne. The film is inspired by Cabell’s service with the Navy SEALs, dealing with the drug trade.
With completing “Running with the Devil,” Cabell becomes a rare breed in Hollywood and the military- a combat veteran Navy SEAL who wrote and directed his own feature film. The cast thoroughly enjoyed working with him; Laurence Fishburne shares details about his experience on RWTD.
Fishburne: [It was] one of the best experiences I have had in recent years, especially with a new director. Jason is incredibly well-organized and beyond enthusiastic. His script was so clever, fun and simplistic. The best things usually are simple and his simplicity brought an elegance to the story. Jason was just incredibly well prepared, which is one of the most important things a director can be. He has incredible leadership abilities because he knows how to follow. Overall, one of the best experiences I have had in recent years.
Cole Hauser, Jason Cabell, Barry Pepper and Laurence Fishburne on set of “Running with the Devil.” (Photo courtesy of: Jason Cabell)
Even with his career highlights in special operations and hard earned success as a filmmaker, he is a salt of the earth type of guy. Cabell comes from humble beginnings having been born in Chicago a couple of years after the 1968 Democratic Convention. The riots took place right across the street from where he lived. His father transferred to Colorado to get away from the inner city.
Cabell was born into a mixed family where he came to realize differences among his friends growing up. His father, an African American, was a World War II vet in the Navy as a 20mm gunner on an ammo ship. He served in the battle of Midway and Guadalcanal. After returning from WWII, he played football at Western Michigan University and tried out for the Chicago White Sox but wasn’t allowed in the clubhouse at the time due to his race. Cabell’s dad met his mom while she was working as a nurse.
Cabell’s mother was first generation from Norway. Her family fled Norway when the Nazis invaded. Cabell recalls her kindness and love throughout his childhood. “My mom always encouraged me and said I could be anything I wanted to if I worked hard enough. We always went to the movies together. That was our thing. She loved Dr. Zhivago and from an early age always took me to the Oscar contenders,” Cabell said.
Cabell’s grandfather was a carpenter and settled the family in Skokie, IL. His grandpa built houses in the Skokie area. When visiting Skokie with his family, Cabell would work for his grandfather and remembers noticing the tattoo on his tenants’ arms from concentration camps, as Skokie was a Jewish hub where many Jewish people had relocated from Europe post WWII.
His parents stressed traditional values: be polite, be courteous, always be present for Sunday dinner, have family values, obey the golden rule, be respectful to elders and others and give respect where respect is due. His parents wanted the children to take pride in their appearance and focus on details like not missing belt loops. Cabell recalled that as a military man, “My father wanted us to make our bed and be disciplined in all things.”
Cabell said his parents taught him to “Take the hard right over the easy wrong. Do what you say you will do. Be reliable. Don’t commit to anything that you can’t do. Be honest with yourself and other people. You have to deliver every time and be a man of your word.” Cabell was always close to his family. Both of his parents have passed but he continues to model their values with his own two children. Cabell pressed forward from his youth in Colorado to the next big adventure- the Navy SEALs.
Cabell had a call to adventure which led to him to the to the SEALs, where he wanted to explore the world. At the time he joined in the late ’80s, no one really knew about the SEALs. He was living in Arizona and saw an Air Show with the U.S. Navy Parachute Team- the Leapfrogs (a group of SEALs). After seeing the Leapfrogs he went to sign up for the Navy SEAL program without knowing how to swim. To learn, he worked with a coach before heading out to the Navy.
Cabell said, “In training you play with your life every day. Things are pretty dynamic, spending 320 days-a-year with your teammates. You constantly ask yourself, would I train and put my life on the line for these people? I got to see and experience the world with these guys.”
He went to well over 100 countries and got to experience places like Iwo Jima, Wake Island, and even stopped to see different atolls from WWII. One of his most memorable training events took place in Monashka Bay in Alaska. The team did a maritime training mission in the area where they experienced a really big weather front but still had to go through with the training mission. Cabell got frostbite from the mission and still has a scar from it.
His foray into the filmmaking business may surprise some people, but he believes he is on the right path. “I always seem to end up where I am supposed to be. If you listen to the universe and head in the right direction, then 1,000 hands will push you along,” Cabell said.
Nicolas Cage and Jason Cabell on set of “Running with the Devil” (Photo courtesy of: Jason Cabell)
There were not any barriers for him in transitioning from the SEALs to being a filmmaker despite having no film school education. Throughout his journey, Cabell has gained many fans and industry professionals that appreciate his work. One is Andrew Ruf, managing partner at Paradigm Talent Agency, who shares this on working with Cabell:
Ruf: Having exceptional rapport is a two-way street that requires constant collaboration to build a strong, positive relationship. When Jason and I first met, we bonded over shared personal experiences and a mutual passion for actors and storytelling. Jason is a down to earth guy who genuinely has great instincts for the work we do and has an incredibly focused drive. His work ethic is unparalleled.
Cabell led a 77-person combat assault force in Baghdad during the height of the war, which helped him tremendously in life and leadership. His leadership experiences prepared him for leading on set. On the set of “Running with the Devil” in Colombia, they had a 250-person crew, which beckons for a person that knows how to get things done.
He said, “You have to possess extreme discipline to be the best.” Cabell read over 1,000 scripts, studying both the good and bad examples, to get the beat pattern down. His experiences on a SEAL team taught him to learn quickly and taught military skills like, skydiving, flying an airplane, calling for fire, calculus and dive physics. Cabell thinks the military education system is the best education system in the world. Actor, writer, director Peter Facinelli worked with Jason on RWTD and shared his thoughts on the experience.
Facinelli: Jason’s military background was apparent; he is a commander on-set and you are part of his troop. I felt protected and that he would have my back, due to his confidence under stress. I never saw a lack of confidence at any point. Jason won’t let people see him sweat. He is efficient and keeps things moving like clockwork. He keeps the “troops” informed and lets the actors know what is expected from them- a well-run set. I have worked with a lot of directors and he has earned my respect.
Facinelli and Cabell on the set of “Running with the Devil.” (Photo courtesy of: Jason Cabell)
Cabell got his start on the creative side of the industry by writing scripts. He started small by directing an 0,000 movie, “Smoke Filled Lungs.” He produced a TV movie for MarVista titled “2020,” and just kept learning and moving.
He said, “My father always taught me you can do anything you want if you are willing to sacrifice and put the work in.” He made a lot of sacrifices to begin a new career where reinventing oneself is tough and becomes harder as age increases.
“One of the things nowadays is making excuses and being a victim,” said Cabell. “People fetishize being a victim in our culture as opposed to being a success. No one will give you anything. You have to work for it. You have to work beyond exhaustion and failure, or you will never succeed.”
He believes there are many people that are victims from societal pressures. He said, “To succeed you need to stay away from negative people that crap on your dreams. If you have the talent and are doing the right things, then keep doing it.” Cabell has never been the fastest or strongest but has found a way to grind it out.
Producer and executive Lauren Craig also experienced working on set with Cabell.
Craig: I worked with him from the beginning to the end of production. He was professional, open to ideas and it was easy to follow through on what he wanted because he was so direct with his vision. Jason found a way to separate who he is as a SEAL and who he is as a filmmaker, which greatly benefited the production. He focused on his vision and story and tried to make it as universal as possible… Jason was always trying to boost the morale of everyone on set. We were in the snow, desert, and urban areas. No matter the situation, he was always encouraging and trying to bring everyone up. Jason is the consummate professional; we were all on a team together even though he was the director. He made us feel like we were a part of something bigger.
Jason Cabell on set in the Sandia Mountains (NM) with Nicolas Cage, Laurence Fishburne and AP Lauren Craig. (Photo courtesy of: Jason Cabell)
Fishburne had positive insights into Cabell’s directing abilities.
Fishburne: A little bit of Eastwood comes through in Jason’s directing. His enthusiasm is similar to John Singleton’s enthusiasm. John was a first-time director when I worked with him. Jason’s experience as a veteran plays into his abilities as a director. He has a young man’s spirit with an older man’s wisdom. Jason is the kind of guy that will tell you he was afraid of something and he is also wise enough not to show it. Showing fear will not get you through it; moving through your fear is what truly helps you.
Fishburne provides a final thought on Cabell’s trajectory within the next 5 years. He said, “I will see Jason on set working somewhere and calling “Action,” saying “Very good, Mr. Fishburne, can we do another one?”
With the success of the film that has such a high level cast, the continued work ethic of Cabell and the agency behind him, Ruf is highly positive on Cabell’s upward trajectory.
Ruf: Jason is a very promising artist in Hollywood. I can see him being one of the highly sought after directors/writers in this industry in both film and television and running his own production company. His adaptability and leadership abilities will allow him to reach new heights in whichever field he decides to pursue but his passion for entertainment is certain and this is where I see him scoring. He is incredibly talented and knowledgeable when it comes to what the audience wants to see on screen, and we, here at Paradigm, look forward to what he has in store next.
The early reviews are in for Dark Phoenix, the twelfth and final installment of the X-Men series – and, um, they’re not exactly glowing. The film currently has an abysmal 19% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and a slew of eviscerating reviews to go along with it.
Most fans weren’t expecting the 19-year franchise to come to a satisfying end, given that Dark Phoenix‘s release date was pushed back from it’s original November date. But any dash of hope has been quickly squashed by early reviews.
The script’s writing is a main point of contention. “There’s way too much darkness, and not enough quicksilver wit,” says Michael O’Sullivan of The Washington Post. “…this plays out with all the pizzazz of a bowl of soggy cereal,” says Jo Berry of Movies4Kids. Yikes.
Emily Asher-Perrin of Tor.com is one of many reviewers to point out the missteps taken with Jean Grey, the main character played by Game of Thrones‘ Sophie Turner. “[The film] has no real interest in making Jean Grey the central character of her own film,” she writes.
Even the film’s star studded cast (Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy) couldn’t save Dark Phoenix, according to reviewers. “What’s truly amazing about “Dark Phoenix” is watching the charismatic, award-winning, star-packed cast flail about in this poorly written nonsense cartoon,” writes Katie Walsh of the Tribune News Service.
Few reviewers had anything positive to say about the film, but many are still determined to make their own assumptions. “I don’t care about the #DarkPhoenix reviews,” writes one on Twitter. “I’ll watch it for myself and decide if I liked it or not.”
Decide for yourself on June 7, 2019, when Dark Phoenix hits theaters nationwide.
This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.
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.
Uncle Jesse would say “Have mercy.” (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)
If Keanu Reeves recently became the internet’s boyfriend, that would make Chuck Norris the ex the internet still thinks about sometimes. Sure, the Chuck Norris facts that once took the internet by storm have since been repurposed for other celebrities, but the man with a supposed third fist beneath his beard clearly still holds a special place in our culture’s heart — and thanks to the History Channel, that special place is now also full of all sorts of badass vehicles.
“Chuck Norris’s Epic Guide to Military Vehicles” debuted on the History Channel earlier this month, giving the public a glimpse into some of the toughest and most capable military vehicles on the planet, including some that most service members likely haven’t gotten a chance to work with (liked the arm-able robotic vehicle known as the SMET).
CAR WEEK | Chuck Norris’s Guide to Epic Military Vehicles
Norris, an Air Force veteran, made a name for himself in TV and movies through his unique combination of American cowboy sensibilities and high kicking martial arts mastery, usually found only in Kung Fu movies of the time. Today, the former action star may look like he’s lost a step or two, but since he’s rapidly approaching 80 years old, I’d say the guy looks pretty damn good.
Norris’ show dives into a variety of military vehicles, including the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) that was developed for both the U.S. Army and Marine Corps to serve as a tougher replacement for the military’s workhorse Humvees. The JLTV is essentially just as much a tank as it is a personnel carrier — with a convex hull on the bottom to diffuse the force of IED blasts and a crew-protection system that wraps the passenger cabin in an armored shell.
The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV)
(Photo By: Michael Malik, U.S. Army)
Other vehicles Norris shows off in this show include the Stryker Combat Vehicle — a platform Army Rangers have used to great effect in the Global War on Terror. The U.S. Army recently announced plans to quadruple the number of Strykers in their arsenal that have been equipped with a powerful new 30-millimeter autocannon, making this armored personnel carrier a far more daunting opponent to near-peer competitors in places like Russia and China.
And what show about military vehicles would be complete without discussing the legendary, 65-ton M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank? The M1 Abrams has been America’s primary battle tank since the early 1980s, and thanks to repeated updates and upgrades, it remains among the most powerful and capable tanks on the planet.
Even tanks need to catch a flight from time to time.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Christopher A. Campbell)
For some of us that served our time in boots, this special may not offer a great deal of new and amazing things we’ve never seen before (aside from the aforementioned SMET robot), but even the saltiest of vets can appreciate a 60-minute demonstration of American badassery hosted by a legendary action star and U.S. military veteran.
You can catch “Chuck Norris’s Epic Guide to Military Vehicles” the next time it airs, but it’s 2019 and waiting for that sounds crazy. Instead, just swing by this link and plug in your cable provider login and you can watch it right now.
Or if you’re like me and you got rid of cable in favor of endlessly scrolling through streaming platforms, you can watch the show on Hulu.
Movies are badass! That’s why producers spend millions of dollars making them. Sometimes the films we watch are so freaking compelling audience members forget they watching a movie and believe everything they see.
We’re all guilty of falling for it.
Many moviegoers get sold on the narrative as the story unfolds across the big screen — even to the point where the performances feel real, and the delicate line between truth and fiction becomes too thin to spot.
3. Wearing dogs tags outside of your shirt is okay…especially in PT gear.
As much as we love the film “Black Hawk Down,” Sgt. Eversmann is technically out of military reg for wearing his ID tag that way.
Shame on you for setting a bad example.
4. “Military grade” crap doesn’t freakin’ exist.
Hollywood and commercial marketing love to use this term to make products sound more durable and reliable. The truth is, the techy term sounds super authentic, but unfortunately everything we use in the military can break under certain conditions.
Like they say, “You take care of your gear, your gear will take care of you.” Write that down.
We’re not saying troops don’t take life and death chances while in battle — they risk their lives all the time. But when someone consistently puts himself or others at risk, it’s time to get rid of them.
You have no idea what the hell they’re planning on doing when the bullets start flying — not someone you want to ride into battle with.
Bravery is a thing you see every day in the military. In all branches, in moments great and small, it’s an expression of the fundamental courage it takes to put your life on the line for love of country and to serve those you swore to protect.
Former Navy SEAL David Meadows proved exemplary in this capacity, serving 11 years in some of the harshest theaters of war throughout the Middle East.
But unlike many of his fellow Oscar Mike alumni, Meadows chose, upon reentry, to translate his habituated bravery into a civilian arena that would, honestly, make most servicemen and women want to crawl out of their natural born skins…
Yeah, he became an actor.
And we can tell you from experience that there are few professions that require a more constant personal brokerage with public shame, mortal embarrassment, insecurity, and rejection — in short, all of the types of feelings that normal people avoid like their lives depend on it.
Being the Special Ops-trained bad ass that he is, though, Meadows surveyed this new theater of war and then dove in head first. Acting for a living takes guts.
“I think that if there is a magic left in the world…it’s really for a person to be affected, to be changed — by one human being actually affecting somebody else on a really human, natural, soulful level. Does that make sense? And performing artists have that power. And I thought…that’s absolutely amazing. And I want to be a part of that.”
To get a taste of the kind of courage an actor has to muster every day, Oscar Mike host Ryan Curtis visited Meadows at his acting studio in Los Angeles and submitted himself to a battery of drills that actors employ to help them behave truthfully under imaginary circumstances.
Each exercise is designed to increase physical sensitivity, dial up emotional availability, and to inure actors to the fear of ridicule that can shut them down at crucial moments. Like all high-stakes training, it’s effective — but it ain’t pretty.
Today’s lesson is clear: in a successful civilian life, emotional bravery matters. But you don’t have to take our word for it, you can just watch as Curtis cracks under the pressure and and begs to postpone the big payoff in the video embedded at the top.
As an ardent Star Wars fan, I know what can come of voluntarily walking into the lion’s den of this fandom to offer any sort of commentary. Rest assured, I’m not going to challenge any well known canon (or dare mention the word midi-chlorian), but instead offer up some of the most interesting bits of Star Wars trivia, that are based more in fact than fiction.
George Lucas has never shied away from sharing the sources of inspiration that influenced the universe he created. In a 2005 interview, he told the Boston Globe:
“I love history, so while the psychological basis of ‘Star Wars’ is mythological, the political and social bases are historical.”
Star Wars, its heroes, and its villains were born from the likeness of Nazi Germany, Ancient Rome, the Vietnam War, the Knights Templar, and even U.S. Presidents. Lucas’s world reads as both commentary and cautionary tale, portraying what can happen when dark overpowers light.
Emperor Palpatine: A melting pot of authoritarianism
One of the most formidable characters Lucas created, Sheev Palpatine’s origins as both emperor of the Galactic Empire and Darth Sidious, a Sith Dark Lord, were composed of a handful of leaders throughout history who perceivably aimed to dismantle democracy. Originally, the character of Palpatine was based predominantly on Ming the Merciless, the fictional tyrannical dictator and archenemy in the Flash Gordon series, both print and screen. In the book Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, author Dale Pollock details the influence Ming had not only on Palpatine, but on Darth Vader as well.
In fleshing out a more long term vision of Palpatine as the series took off, inspiration started to come from the real world. Borrowing from the behaviors of dictators like Hitler and Julius Caesar, it was easy to see the kind of manipulation and underhandedness the character was meant to embody. The trajectory of Palpatine’s rise to power, including abusing an elected position to change or control governmental bodies, is perhaps an only slightly more dramatized version of real history.
Even the use of the title “chancellor” (prior to his invoking martial law and declaring himself Emperor) was a nod to Adolf Hitler, who bore the same title in 1933 as a result of Nazi Party electoral victories. The Nazi’s also gave the inspiration for Stormtroopers, who share a name with German soldiers from WWI as well as WWII’s Sturmabteilung, or Storm Detachment, the Nazi Party’s paramilitary organization.
The historical allusions were also found in the cinematography. A notable scene is in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, when Emperor Palpatine arrives at the Death Star and is met with an air parade of TIE fighters as well as stormtroopers, Army & Navy Troopers, officers and droids, all poised for the event within Hangar 272. The visuals in this scene were meant to resemble Russia’s May Day military parades.
One final name on the Palpatine vision board was the 37th President of the United States, Richard Nixon. Lucas started diving further into the character during Nixon’s re-election campaign, reflecting on the state of the world, and questioning how seemingly flawed but functional democracies can become dictatorships. At a story conference in 1981, Lucas was asked whether or not the Emperor was a Jedi, to which Lucas replied:
“No, he was a politician. Richard M. Nixon was his name. He subverted the Senate and finally took over and became an imperial guy and he was really evil. But he pretended to be a really nice guy.”
…not exactly the greatest way to have your legacy paid homage, but hey, at least you can say you were a muse to George Lucas.
Ewoks & The Rebel Alliance: The poster kids for intergalactic guerrilla warfare
Prior to setting his sights on Star Wars, Lucas was slated to direct the now critically acclaimed war movie Apocalypse Now, a job that ended up going to Francis Ford Coppola, following his successes with the first two Godfather movies. With the Vietnam War weighing heavily on most people’s minds, it easily seeped into both the obvious and subtle context of artistic expression, especially for those who purposefully wanted to send a message.
Love them or hate them, Lucas had a reason behind creating the polarizing, meter tall inhabitants of Endor. He wanted the juxtaposition of a group using less advanced means of fighting taking on the much more technologically adept force of the Empire. The Ewoks used primitive weapons and modes of transportation–knives, spears, hang gliders–and in terms of surviving in their natural environment, they thrived in ways the Empire’s technology was unable to adapt to. They were able to understand, respect and adapt to their terrain in a way that gave them the upper hand in a lot of ways. The defeat of the Galactic Empire was a direct comparison to the Viet Cong, who fought against American soldiers during Vietnam.
The Ewoks weren’t alone in their position of little fish in a big pond. Lucas applied the practices and techniques of both the Viet Cong as well as the People’s Army of Vietnam when thinking about the Rebel Alliance’s approach to combating the power of the Empire. He likened the Empire to the United States, a larger and more technologically advanced superpower, versus smaller groups.
“The irony is that, in both of those, the little guys won. The highly technical empire — the English Empire, the American Empire — lost. That was the whole point.”
-George Lucas, from James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction
A tale of two Empires: Neither Rome nor the Republic was built in a day
We’ve already mentioned the impact Julius Caesar had on the development of the character of Palpatine, so the leap of comparing the Star Wars Empire to that of Ancient Rome isn’t really all that far. They both began as republics, seemingly strong ones that theoretically should have been long standing parts of their development over time.
Both Caesar and Palpatine held onto their elected positions much longer than they were slated to, due to conflict and under the guise of “protecting their republic”
…which was really just an opportunity for them to gain more control and the ability to give themselves a job promotion that inevitably shifted both republics into dictatorships.
They also each had their own instances of entering into, or starting, conflicts with the reasoning of either expansion or supremacy. Rome had the Punic Wars, three separate conflicts between Rome and Carthage, who were the two major powers of the Western Mediterranean at the time. Star Wars had both the Old & New Sith Wars, as well as the Clone Wars.
The Clone Wars are probably the most integral to the recognition of the darkness it takes to overthrow a democracy, as they were masterminded and orchestrated by one person orchestrating both sides (Palpatine as Chancellor of the Republic, and Palpatine again, as Darth Sidious, at the head of the Separatists).
The Empire and Ancient Rome also share the similarity of being slowly brought down by much smaller factions, with the Roman Empire being met by force from the Huns and Germanic tribes, while the Rebel Alliance took on the Galactic Empire.
“The whole point of the movies, the underlying element that makes the movies work, is that you, whether you go backwards or forwards, you start out in a democracy, and democracy turns into a dictatorship, and then the rebels make it back into a democracy.”
The Jedi: Sharing the moral high ground with ancient warriors
Jedi are well known for being keepers of peace, guardians of justice within the Galactic Republic, and an overall force for good within the universe. Their ability to defend and protect, while also embodying the noblest of character traits is arguably what makes them the ultimate good guys (with Anakin being a divisive exception). They use the Force for good, are never self-serving, and remain committed to improving themselves through training and seeking greater knowledge.
“In a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way.”
-Jedi Master Yoda, Episode III; Revenge of the Sith
Aesthetically, Lucas modeled the Jedi after both Shaolin monks and Japanese samurai, in the kinds of clothing they wore as well as drawing some inspiration for the Jedi fighting style and lightsabers from Katana fighting. The monk and samurai belief systems can also be seen mirrored throughout the Jedi timeline.
In the bookStar Wars and History, author Terrance MacMullen puts forth another area of influence in creating the Jedi: the Knights Templar. Often referred to as “warrior monks”, the Templars were a Catholic military order, originally established in 1119 to protect Christian pilgrims in the dangerous “Outremer,” or Crusader states, following the First Crusade. Of all the warriors that built the idea of the Jedi, the most direct parallels can be drawn to the Templars.
Both Jedi and Templars went into battle fearlessly, regardless of being outnumbered or overpowered. It was this dedication to the cause, or rash invincibility complex, that distinguished them both as formidable opponents and examples of aggressive morality. This fearlessness was guided by invisible forces on both sides. For Jedi, it was quite literally the Force, while the Templars were driven by their faith.
Oppression plays a large role in the history of Templars and Jedi as well. In 1307, almost 200 years after their inception, the Templars were taken down by King Philip IV of France, who essentially just wanted to steal their amassed wealth and pay off his outstanding debts. Many high ranking members were taken tortured and ultimately burned at the stake. In 1314, two years after Pope Clement V disbanded the order, the Grand Master Jacques de Molay was burned alive. Which is essentially like if they had publicly executed Yoda.
Jedi also faced oppression at the hands of the Galactic Empire and the Order of the Sith Lords when the Great Jedi Purge was ordered, which aimed to extinguish any Jedi who remained following Order 66, a previous attempt to destroy the Jedi en masse. While the vast majority were lost, the Jedi Order, though bruised, remained intact and held together by the surviving Jedi.
The overarching reach and appeal of Star Wars is undeniable and virtually untouchable, but even more interesting still is its ability to parallel almost any moment in time. History buff that he is, Lucas was able to pick up on common tropes of humanity, and present them in an approachable and entertaining way.
“The story being told in Star Wars is a classic one. Every few hundred years, the story is retold because we have a tendency to do the same things over and over again. Power corrupts, and when you’re in charge, you start doing things that you think are right, but they’re actually not.”
-George Lucas, in a 2005 interview with Wired Magazine
With politics, world events, media and entertainment seemingly enmeshed like never before, Lucas’s legacy and continuing commentary is a great representation of art imitating life, and life imitating art (we didn’t even get to tackle Star Wars metaphors being used in politics, I’m looking at you, Ronald Reagan). In the end, it feels like the classic battle of good vs. evil is almost unavoidable, both on and off screen. What seems equally predictable however, is that light always finds a way to overpower the darkness.
Fort Jackson, SC is a major hub of military education. The base hosts, Army basic training and AIT, the Adjutant General School, Finance School, Chaplain School, and the Interservice Postal Training Activity. Consequently, hundreds of thousands of people come through the base every year. This year, the base hosted a very special guest and assisted him with research.
Michael B. Jordan spent four days at Fort Jackson to prepare for an upcoming movie role. He was hosted by the base Commanding General, Brig. Gen. Milford Beagle, Jr. “Glad we could show him Army hospitality and the training excellence that we have here,” Brig. Gen. Beagle said.
Jordan previously appeared in the blockbuster hits Creed and Black Panther. Although it is unclear what movie he was preparing for, the actor is appearing in the upcoming action thriller Without Remorse. Based on the Tom Clancy book of the same name, Without Remorse follows a former CIA Navy SEAL who seeks revenge after his wife is killed by a drug lord and finds himself in a larger conspiracy. The book exists in the same universe as Jack Ryan.
Recently, the Tom Clancy film franchise has been in a slump. Although older films based on the late author’s works like The Hunt for Red October and Patriot Games are still widely popular, recent films like The Sum of All Fears and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit have been met with mixed reviews. The Tom Clancy name was reinvigorated with the release of Amazon’s television series Jack Ryan. Moreover, the titular main character is played by 13 Hours star John Krasinski. The show has been renews for a third season.
Without Remorse was originally slated to be released by Paramount Pictures. However, in July 2020, the studio began talks with Amazon who seeks to acquire the rights to the film.
Remember the collective crushing disappointment we all felt as we got settled in to watch Pearl Harbor in 2001, expecting a Saving Private Ryan-level war movie on a grander scale and suddenly realizing it was a love story and that the attack on Pearl Harbor was actually just part of the backstory? The bad news is that Pearl Harbor is still on television.
The good news is that the director of Independence Day just made a movie about the World War II Battle of Midway. And he even remade the attack on Pearl Harbor to get started.
All this and Woody Harrelson as Chester Nimitz? I’m interested. This still is from Planet of the Apes, but we all wish Nimitz shaved his head like this before combat. I do, anyway.
For the uninitiated, the Battle of Midway may have well been the turning point in the Pacific War of World War II. While the Doolittle Raid featured in Pearl Harbor showed American resolve and boosted morale, it did little to really hurt the Japanese in the Pacific (the Doolittle Raid appears to be in the Midway movie as well). Two months later in 1942, the U.S. Navy struck a decisive blow, delivering a devastating punch to the face of the Japanese Empire at the height of its power – just six months after the U.S. Navy was supposed to be knocked out of the war at Pearl Harbor.
The Americans had a complete intelligence advantage at Midway, having broken the Japanese radio codes and determining they were on their way to attack an island code-named “AF.” In order to figure out what objective “AF” was, American intelligence sent an uncoded message that the water purification system on Midway was down, they heard Japanese radio operators reporting objective “AF” was low on water. The target was Midway, and the Navy laid a trap for the oncoming Japanese fleet.
The United States ended up with the Japanese objective, the days the Japanese fleet would arrive, and the entire Japanese order of battle. What’s more, the Japanese were unaware of the Americans’ positions or that the Navy had broken their codes, so the Japanese Navy took the further steps of so dividing their forces into four subgroups, that they were unable to support each other. This might have been a great tactic in a surprise, but not so much when the Americans knew exactly where every ship would be and when they would be there. The result was, not surprisingly, a complete rout that could only be described as a major ass-kicking.
Japanese forces took massive losses. The Imperial Japanese Navy lost ten times the number of men, along with four aircraft carriers it could not replace, two heavy cruisers, and almost 250 aircraft. The Americans lost just 307 men, 150 planes, the carrier USS Yorktown and the destroyer USS Hammann.
Not bad for the first American victory in the Pacific.
It’s been well over six months since Star Wars: The Last Jedi came out and audiences have gone through the full cycle of liking it on opening night and disliking it the longer they spend thinking about it. Now, it’s been released for viewing in homes across America and leaking potential spoilers is no longer a crime punishable by death.
That being said, this is your official spoiler alert. We are going to talk about Star Wars: The Last Jedi ahead.
And my personal question: If that was such an effective tactic, why not just attach hyperspace drives onto asteroids and use them to bombard enemies?
Still with us? Okay, here we go.
In the second act of the film, the First Order has the Resistance cornered. Vice Admiral Haldo orders her people to board the transport ships and evacuate to the nearby planet, Crait. She then pilots the Raddus and aims it right at the First Order fleet and their flagship, the Supremacy.
She floors the Raddus into near hyperspeed and smacks right into the bad guys in what was one of the coolest moments of the film. Pieces of the shattered Supremacy then domino-effect outward, into the other ships, destroying them as well.
As awesome as this moment was, it opens up many questions for the fans that could be better understood with some science. Like, is that even possible? What kind of force (not that kind) would be required to pull that off?
Everything always comes back to science.
The filmmakers behind the Star Wars universe have taken many creative liberties with the franchise, telling elaborate storiesat the expense of scientific reasoning— and that’s fine.The series is literally about magical space samurai that befriend countless alien species without translators and everyone seems to be just fine walking on random planets without wearing space suits.
In this one particular instance — the hyperspace Kamikaze move — everything seems to be perfectly in order. This all comes down to Albert Einstein’s famous mass-energy equivalency formula, otherwise known as E = mc2.
Even though many people see that formula and think it’s just some smart guy’s way of proving he’s smart, it’s actually the fundamentals of energy. It means, in basic terms, that energy and mass are interchangeable.
Cut the movie some slack. It’s far more interesting than reading science textbooks.
With a little algebra, however, this same formula can be rearranged to explain that achieving the speed of light would be nearly impossible because everything within the universe with mass would require a incalculable amount of energy to achieve such a speed. It’s challenging to send even a single atom at a fraction of light speed, let alone a massive frigate.
In the real world, achieving hyperspeed is near impossible for anything other than massless photons. But this is the universe with tiny green muppets teaching farmboys how to move rocks with their minds. Let’s pretend that the hyper-drives hand wave that all away and moving faster than the speed of light is possible and it can be achieved by things with mass.
It’s basically the idea behind the “Rod from God” that never happened.
Thankfully for the audience, the next scientific laws that apply to this scene are also very well-known: Newton’s First and Second Laws of Motion. The first says that every object in a state of uniform motion will remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it. The second states that the rate of change of momentum of a body is directly proportional to the force applied, and this change in momentum takes place in the direction of the applied force.
In normal-people words, this means that since the Raddus was extremely massive and was working up to light speed (which meant that it still had mass at that point), it had an unfathomable amount of energy behind it’s punch that could, theoretically, shred through anything with ease.
This is a magnified version of a rail gun on planet Earth. You take something heavy, use magnets to send it extremely high speeds, and crash it into something. Boom. No more enemy.
Then again, this could also explain why two missiles could destroy a Death Star and a couple of laser blasts destroy the second one.
The real question is why don’t they use it more often in the Star Wars universe? We’ve accepted that, for the sake of storytelling, that hyper-drives really work, but this Kamikaze strategy hinges on how the fictional hyper-drive works. If achieves immense speeds by reducing a spacecraft’s mass to zero — similar to that of a photon — then the spacecraft couldn’t destroy something unless it was in the process of picking up speed. This version is more in line with the destruction we saw in the film.
The problem with this option is that if the ship doesn’t have enough speed, it’ll simply bump off the target’s shields. If it has too little mass, it’ll simply squash like a fly on a windshield. The conditions would have to be near perfect to make a serious impact.
The other way a hyper-drive could work is if it creates the insane amount of energy required to bring an object past light speed. If that’s the case, then the hyper-drive would be destroyed with the collision. For scale, the energy needed to send a Ford Mustang into hyper-speed would be more than a star going supernova. When a spacecraft containing an entire military crashes and the hyper-drive that powers it blows it, it’d let off enough energy to snuff out the entire galaxy in an instant. So, it probably wasn’t that.
On Sept. 11, 2001, America was changed forever when 19 men from a terrorist network attacked our country by flying highjacked planes into both towers at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. This horrible act brought millions of Americans together and countless others wanting to strike back.
Soon after, a group of 12 highly trained Green Berets received an assignment to be one of the first units to enter into Afghanistan and strike the heart of the enemy that took responsibility for those terrorist attacks.
The mission was considered to be unsurvivable, but that didn’t stop the 12 brave men from riding through the extremely rough terrain of Afghanistan on horseback to take the fight the enemy.
12 Strong uniquely displays the perfect amount of American spirit and our will to fight for what we love and want to protect — our families and our country.
The film’s narrative and its characters will drive audiences past the brink of inspiration — nothing can fracture what it truly means to be an American.
Amid the realistic battles sequences the film brilliantly captures, it adds the additional element of authenticity about what it’s actually like working with and fighting alongside a complete group of strangers who don’t speak the same language.
These Green Berets attempt to gain and earn trust with members of the Northern Alliance in 12 Strong. (Image courtesy of Warner Brothers)
The tension of not only engaging the enemy but having to embed yourself with a fighting force where trust is yet to be earned was utterly spot on and visually described.
The film correctly exhibits the troops’ psychological pain around what it takes to build an efficient relationship with a group of people who look like the very enemy you’ve come to fight.