Sony Pictures’ “Jumanji: The Next Level” pulled off what’s been a difficult task in 2019: It topped its predecessor’s opening weekend at the box office with $60 million domestically over the weekend.
“It looks like ‘Jumanji’ is immune to the so-called sequel or reboot ‘curse’ that has plagued many films this year and is set for a long run throughout the holidays and into 2020,” Paul Dergarabedian, the Comscore senior media analyst, told Business Insider. “‘The Next Level’ should perform much like its predecessor that similarly had a ‘Star Wars’ movie to contend with in the early weeks of its release and have solid long-term success.”
“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” rebooted the 1995 classic starring Robin Williams with a million domestic debut. And with 2 million globally and 4.5 million domestically, “Welcome to the Jungle” was 2017’s fifth biggest movie in the world and the fourth biggest movie in North America.
Jack Black and Karen Gillan in “Jumanji: The Next Level”
A sequel was inevitable, but not a guaranteed success if this year’s box office was any indication. While there have been exceptions (i.e. “John Wick: Chapter 3” and most things Disney), sequels and reboots this year have flopped hard. Here are some examples:
“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” grossed nearly 0 million less than 2014’s “Godzilla.”
“Dark Phoenix,” Fox’s final “X-Men” movie before joining Disney, was the lowest-grossing “X-Men” movie yet with just million domestically and 2 million worldwide.
“Men in Black: International” tanked with only million domestically and 4 million globally.
“It: Chapter Two” wasn’t a flop with 2 million worldwide, but performed far worse than the first “It,” which earned 0 million.
“Terminator: Dark Fate” could put an end to the “Terminator” franchise after a measly 8 million worldwide off of a nearly 0 million production budget.
And the “Shining” sequel “Doctor Sleep” fizzled out at only million worldwide.
Sony avoided those movies’ fates by dropping “The Next Level” during a smart weekend, according to box-office experts. And “Welcome to the Jungle” also debuted the same month as a new “Star Wars” movie (then “The Last Jedi,” this time “The Rise of Skywalker”), which didn’t stop it from being a box-office powerhouse.
“[‘The Next Level’] has time to build audience enthusiasm and become a part, not a casualty, of what should be an enormous weekend for the box office when ‘The Rise Of Skywalker’ opens this week,” Dergarabedian said.
Jeff Bock, the Exhibitor Relations senior box-office analyst, said that family-friendly movies are in high demand during the holiday season and the positive response to “Welcome to the Jungle” helped its chances even further.
But the all-star cast doesn’t hurt, either. It includes Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, a global superstar and Forbes’ highest-paid actor of the year.
“Big names [can still mean] big box office game,” Bock said. “It still works if you do it right.”
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
The Super Bowl is where the stakes are highest in the world of professional football.
But for some who have played in that big game, they have staked far more than whether or not they help hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy — they’ve served in the military, signing “a blank check to the United States of America for an amount of up to and including my life,” to paraphrase a popular quote.
Here are some of the more famous names (and not-so-famous) names who served in the military and played in the Super Bowl:
1. Hall of Fame OLB Kevin Greene
While Greene is not well known, he is one of the NFL’s all-time great pass rushers, and played in Super Bowl XXX with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He also served in the Alabama Army National Guard, according to a 1986 article in the Poughkeepsie Journal, getting paratrooper wings and also at times commanding a tank platoon.
In the 2017 season, he will coach linebackers for the New York Jets.
According to NFL.com, Greene totaled 160 sacks and five interceptions over 15 seasons.
2. New England Patriots LS Joe Cardona
Cardona will be playing in Super Bowl LI with the New England Patriots, serving as a long snapper. He did the same with the U.S. Naval Academy’s football team – starting as a freshman and for all four years.
A 2015 DoD feature on military-NFL ties reports he serves on active duty, and has assignments with the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport and with the destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000).
3. Hall of Fame QB Roger Staubach
Prior to Pat Tillman, Roger Staubach was probably the most famous person who had his feet in both the military and National Football League. He played 11 years in the NFL, all with the Dallas Cowboys, throwing 153 TD passes according to NFL.com. He played in four Super Bowls, winning Super Bowls VI and XII.
Perhaps best known for his Super Bowl XXI heroics as a member of the New York Giants, including a 6-yard TD catch, McConkey wasn’t drafted by an NFL team when he graduated from the Naval Academy.
His naval service included time as a helicopter pilot, but he decided to go for his dream of playing pro football. A 2013 Buffalo News article revealed that it was a family connection to New England Patriots coach Bill Belicheck (whose father was an assistant coach at the Naval Academy) that launched McConkey’s NFL career.
A 4.4-second time in the 40-yard dash didn’t hurt, either. Over his six-season professional football career, NFL.com notes that McConkey had 67 receptions for 1,113 yards and two TDs for the Giants, Chargers, Cardinals, and one other team.
5. Retired DT Chad Hennings
Though Hennings won three Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys, he also was very well known as an Air Force pilot flying the A-10 Thunderbolt II close-air support plane, according to GoAirForceFalcons.com. According to NFL.com, Hennings had 27.5 sacks over his nine-season NFL career.
6. Retired RB Rocky Bleier
Rocky Bleier was overshadowed in the Steelers’ backfield that won four Super Bowls by NFL Hall of Fame legends Terry Bradshaw and Franco Harris.
One reason may have been the fact that in December, 1968, he was drafted by the Army and volunteered to serve in Vietnam. According to a 1969 AP report printed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Bleier was wounded on Aug. 20 of that year — shot in the thigh and hit by grenade fragments, losing part of his right foot.
According to NFL.com, Bleier only played six games in 1971 after missing all of 1970. He would rush for 3,865 yards and 23 TDs, while catching 136 passes for 1,294 yards and two more TDs.
World War I veteran John Ronald Reuel “J.R.R.” Tolkien published The Hobbit in 1937 and followed it up with The Lord of the Rings (1954-1944), books that would shape fantasy epics forever. The stories take place in Middle Earth, a medieval-esque land inhabited by humans, elves, dwarves, hobbits, dragons, orcs, and trolls, as well as sorcerers and wizards and witches and all manner of magics.
Thanks to sexy Legolas Peter Jackson, everyone has heard of Tolkien’s creations, but not everyone knows where he drew his inspiration from. Finally, the biopic Tolkien will tell the author’s tale.
Tolkien would lost two friends in the Battle of the Somme, a heavy toll for anyone to bear. Tolkien would also suffer from ‘trench fever’ — a typhus-like condition — that would heavily debilitate him for the rest of his service.
The journey from warrior to artist is a fascinating one, and Tolkien is one of the greatest. He had already begun writing some of his earliest tales, and after the war he sought employment as an Assistant Lexicographer on the New English Dictionary and later as an Associate Professor in English Language at the University of Leeds.
Based on the trailer, the film appears to celebrate Nicholas Hoult’s Tolkien, from his early education, love of language, and close friendships; to the war; and, of course, to his relationship with Edith Bratt, played by Lily Collins.
For fans of his work, the film looks promising.
For anyone who knows the toll that war can take, the film looks familiar — and perhaps promises a way “back again.”
Tolkien is directed by Dome Karukoski and will open on May 10, 2019.
“Throughout history different cultures all over the world reference a great tournament of champions. That dragon marking…I think it’s an invitation to fight for something known…as Mortal Kombat.”
In his feature film debut, director Simon McQuoid is rebooting Mortal Kombat and by the looks of this red band trailer (released simultaneously as the one approved for all audiences), he’s gonna be celebrating the over-the-top violence and gore the titular video games are known for.
MMA fighter Cole Young will join fellow defenders of Earthrealm Liu Kang, Sonya Blade, Jax Briggs, and more in a tournament against supernatural kombatants like Shang Tsung, Sub-Zero, and Mileena.
WATCH THE TRAILER:
Based on one of the most popular video game franchises of all time, Mortal Kombat will be the first live-action installment since 1995’s Mortal Kombat and 1997’s shall we say less popular Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. The film will be rated R and it will feature game-accurate Fatalities — in fact, you can watch Kano rip a heart out in the trailer above. “Kano wins.”
“The Fatalities were always in from the get-go, there was never any question from anyone at all. There was no resistance from the studio. They wanted them, I wanted them. There’s a Fatality from Kano; he ripped someone’s heart out. But what was important to me was that even when the Fatalities arrived, we couldn’t just do a Fatality and have it mean nothing. It actually becomes an important ingredient in the rhythm of the action scene.” — Director Simon McQuoid
(Mortal Kombat | Warner Bros.)
Starring Joe Taslim as Sub-Zero, Jessica McNamee as Sonya Blade, Sisi Stringer as Mileena, and Lewis Tan as newcomer Cole Young, the film teases many promising moments for fans, including a fight between Scorpion (played by Hiroyuki Sanada) and Sub-Zero. McQuoid opens his film with the face-off, which he describes as a “pretty brutal, nasty fight.”
If nothing else, viewers can expect an action-packed film with centuries worth of lore, easter eggs, and blood. Mortal Kombat will hit HBO Max and theaters simultaneously on April 16, 2021.
Every year a coalition of organizations, from pro-library groups to anti-censorship associations, come together to celebrate “Banned Books Week.” It’s a celebration of the right to read and the right of access to information. At the same time, it’s a challenge to libraries and schools to re-examine the titles they try to keep off the shelves.
The list of frequently banned books is surprising, especially considering the effect some of these books had on American history, including Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harrier Beecher Stowe, The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, and Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown.
We can celebrate Banned Books Week by catching these legendary titles, written by combat veterans and banned by people who wouldn’t understand them anyway.
1. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway was an ambulance driver for the Allied Powers during World War I, working on the Italian Front. He tried to enlist as a regular infantry troop, but was turned down due to poor eyesight. He was wounded in action by shrapnel from an Austrian mortar round – but never stopped his front line duties.
A Farewell to Arms is the author’s book about his experiences in the Great War. The novel, first released serialized in 1929, was considered overly violent and borderline pornographic at the time. If anything, read this book because F. Scott Fitzgerald sent Hemingway 10 pages of notes on it and Hemingway told Fitzgerald to kiss his ass.
2. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Then-Private First Class Vonnegut was captured by the Nazis during the WWII Battle of the Bulge. He, along with boxcars full of fellow POWs, were taken to the German city of Dresden and forced to work in the city – until it was firebombed by the Allies. Vonnegut and a few others survived the devastation, in what looked like a different, horrifying new world.
Slaughterhouse Five is named after the underground bunker in which he waited out the bombing. The book is the story of a man who became “unstuck in time,” floating back to the past at seemingly random times. It has become the PTSD flashback story and one of the most banned books of all-time.
Once called “depraved, immoral, psychotic, vulgar, and anti-Christian,” the Indianapolis-based Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library sends dozens of free copies to districts which ban the book.
3. The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
Norman Mailer was from an affluent family. He was drafter after graduating from Harvard and drafted into the Army as a typist in 1943. He did many things, including communications, cooking, and even recon. He saw a lot of action doing recon patrols in the Philippines and his experience became The Naked and the Dead.
Mailer’s book follows an infantry platoon fighting the Japanese in the Philippine island of Anopopei. The book was deemed so obscene, it was banned in Canada. CANADA. Though popular, the book is really long and detailed.
4. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
At age 19, Heller enlisted in the Army Air Corps. It was 1942 and WWII was in full swing. Heller actually enjoyed his military service as a bombardier on a B-25. He flew the required 60 missions over Europe on the Italian Front, just like John Yossarian, the main character.
Catch-22 became so popular for lampooning the bureaucracy of the military, the term stuck and is now in common parlance. It was the other language in the book that caught the ire of towns and districts in the United States for being obscene – as if fighting in WWII was supposed to be clean.
5. Animal Farm by George Orwell
Orwell didn’t just write books against Fascism, he went out and did something about it. During the Spanish Civil War, he twice traveled to Barcelona to join the fight against the Franco regime. He was shot in the throat by a sniper and barely survived. This made him unfit to fight for Britain in WWII.
Orwell, despite fighting with Communists in Spain, saw the Soviet Union as a tyrannical dictatorship and wrote Animal Farm to criticize Stalin and his regime. The book also closely follows the events of WWII and predicted the coming Cold War. Animal Farm was banned in the Eastern Bloc until 1989.
6. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Of course A Clockwork Orange was written by a veteran, and of course someone tried to ban it. Burgess was a veteran of the UK’s Royal Army Medical Corps and spent much of the war in Gibraltar. Even though he disliked authority and regularly pranked his fellow orderlies and made a general mockery of the rules, he was often promoted.
His book is set in a dystopian England, and is the violent story of a teen named Alex and his gang. The book’s true focus is about free will and how much humans are born prone to destruction versus how much they’re taught. This book is violent even by today’s standards.
7. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
J.R.R. Tolkien served in World War I France as a member of the Lancashire Fusiliers. His experiences at the WWI Battle of the Somme would not only come to color his descriptions of combat in The Lord of the Rings, it would also come to describe the worlds he created in Middle Earth.
While the descriptions of war were from personal experience, he went out of his way to inform people that there was no real-world analogy to his work. Sauron did not represent any world leader and there was no ring to rule them all. The book was banned for being anti-Christian and anti-religious – despite the idea of a King returning being foremost in Tolkien’s mind.
8. Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
Author William Styron was once a United States Marine, serving much of World War II stateside. In 1944, he was sent to the Pacific for the planned invasion of mainland Japan – but the Atomic Bombs ended that idea. His book The Long March is reflective of his time training as a U.S. Marine, especially being called up to fight the Korean War.
Sophie’s Choice was banned in a number of countries, including Poland, the Soviet Union, South Africa, and a number of localities in the U.S. for explicit sexuality and drug use.
9. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
Evelyn Waugh was 36 years old at the outbreak of World War II, but used his connections to get a commission in the Royal Marines. He fought in West Africa, North Africa, and the evacuation of Crete from advancing Axis forces, among other missions, inluding escorting Winston Churchill to a meeting with Yugoslavian leader Marshal Tito.
Though set in WWII England, the book doesn’t have much to do with the war. The principal reason for it being banned is because of the matter-of-fact depiction of homosexual characters. The book makes no judgement on whether it’s right or wrong, just that it exists.
10. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Golding joined the Royal Navy in 1940, spending much of World War II at sea, attacking submarines and battleships, even taking part in the sinking of the German ship Bismarck.
His experience prompted him to say, “I began to see what people were capable of doing. Anyone who moved through those years without understanding that man produces evil as a bee produces honey, must have been blind or wrong in the head.”
So a book about children exposed to the worst of human nature is hardly a surprise coming from a man of such experience. The book is banned for its violence and language (even though it’s necessary for the theme of the book) – and is often accused of racism.
11. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Salinger joined the U.S. Army in 1942 and stayed through the end of the second world war. He was on Utah Beach in Normandy on D-Day, drank with Hemingway in Paris, was at Hürtgen Forest, and it was his unit that first encountered the Dachau Concentration Camp.
The whole time, he carried a typewriter with him. When he couldn’t type, he wrote. And what he was writing was the Catcher in the Rye, a book that saw more military action than most of the guys on this list. And like other entries on the list, it was banned or challenged for vulgar language, sexual references, blasphemy, undermining of family values and moral codes, and promotion of drinking, smoking, lying, and promiscuity.
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.
With the long-awaited “Top Gun” sequel now delayed until the world is finished contending with the coronavirus, we’re left with no alternative but to revisit the 1986 classic for the millionth time, and as may come as no surprise to you, it still holds up. The story of Pete “Maverick” Mitchel has all the hallmarks of a modern blockbuster: fantastic action sequences, cheesy moments that make you smile despite yourself, and of course, topless volleyball.
There are, however, a few burning questions that set in as you watch Tom Cruise’s Maverick demonstrate very clearly that he should be immediately pulled from flight duty for the umpteenth time. The first is… Just who exactly are they fighting? The movie never clearly indicates whether the enemy fighters are Russian, Chinese, North Korean, or otherwise. As Brad Howard at Task & Purpose points out, even the red star on the tail of the enemy fighters doesn’t quite match any national Air Force… but it does match the color scheme utilized by the VFC-13 Aggressor Squadron. In other words, the terrifying enemy fighters may have been rocking aggressor colors because that’s exactly the role they fill in real life, just as they do in the movies.
With that mystery effectively solved, the next one to creep into your mind is… Wait a minute, are MiG-28s real?
When I was a kid, I knew the names of a handful of fighter jets, but practically nothing of the Mikoyan MiG production line. At the time, those little black MiG-28s just looked more acrobatic than the larger F-14 Tomcat, really emphasizing the idea in my mind that American pilots needed to be better than the competition in order to come out on top. It didn’t occur to me that Paramount Pictures probably didn’t get the Kremlin’s permission to borrow a few of their intercept fighters for what could arguably be called an American propaganda film.
The truth is, the MiG-28 that Maverick and Goose can’t tell you about (it’s classified) is not a real aircraft at all… it was made up specifically for the purposes of the movie.
Okay, so that’s not technically true: The aircraft you see depicted at the MiG-28 in “Top Gun” is a real aircraft, it’s just not a MiG. Heck, it’s not even Russian. It’s actually another fighter in the U.S. arsenal called the Northrop F-5 Tiger II.
The MiG-28 is supposed to be a twin-engine fighter that’s slightly slower than the F-14 Tomcat but considered to be far more maneuverable. In that regard, these fake MiGs are probably intended to stand in for the very real and similarly twin-engine Soviet MiG-29, which is indeed a bit slower than the F-14, but boasts a better thrust-to-weight ratio and is seen as more acrobatic. In video games based on the movie, the fictional MiG-28 is actually replaced by the real Mig-29, seemingly confirming its role as a stand in for the real jet.
On-screen, the small Northrop F-5 just looks more nimble than the larger F-14s, and with good reason. The F-5 measures up at just over 48 feet long, eight feet shorter than a real MiG-29, and more than 14 feet shorter than the F-14 Tomcat. Wingspan tells a similar story, with the F-5 (MiG-28) coming in at just under 27 feet, the MiG-29 at more than 37 feet, and the swing-wing F-14 measuring more than 64 feet. The decision to use the F-5 as a stand-in as the fictional MiG-28 definitely does the premise justice, making the MiG-28 and F-14 feel like two fighters with very different strengths on screen.
The F-5 may fit the aesthetic bill of a smaller and more maneuverable fighter, but when compared to its real-life counterpart in the MiG-29, the F-5 doesn’t quite keep pace. The MiG-29’s top speed is Mach 2.5, whereas the designer imposter F-5 can only reach a still respectable Mach 1.63. The Mi-29 can also cover far more ground, with a range of 890 miles compared to the F-5’s 554.
In terms of armament, the real MiG-29 isn’t that far off from its fictional cousin. The F-5 boasts the same number of hardpoints (seven) and carries, among other weapons, the AIM-9 Sidewinder missile for air-to-air engagements. According to the movie, the MiG-28 carries Vympel K-13 (NATO reporting name “AA-2 Atoll”) missiles, which are real Soviet missiles developed by reverse-engineering the America’s Sidewinder. Instead of a single 30mm cannon, however, the F-5/MiG-28 utilizes two 20mm M39A2 Revolver cannons.
It wasn’t just filmmakers who saw the Northrop F-5 as a worthy stand-in for Soviet aircraft. Throughout the 1970s and 80s, F-5s served in multiple aggressor squadrons, including the 64th and 65th aggressor squadrons out of Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. Although, it’s worth noting that the F-5 was chosen not because of its similarities to the MiG-29, but rather because it was seen as a suitable stand-in for the older MiG-21. The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps also both operated the F-5 at one point or another.
Rebecca Murga is an Army Public Affairs Officer with a passion for storytelling. Since she was commission through ROTC in 2004, documenting the stories of soldiers has become the foundation of her service.
“I became a 25 Alpha [signal officer] but at the time I didn’t realize officers don’t do the things enlisted folks do,” Murga says. “But I happened to be in a unit that didn’t have a lot of video support and they really wanted their story told, so I covered all the communications systems and all the networks in Iraq and Afghanistan.” The experience of meeting soldiers in the field and relaying their lives to viewers changed her career forever.
“I got to meet a lot of soldiers, and I think that’s where I really started to fall in love with telling these stories,” Murga recalls. “I would talk to these people on the ground. They all came from different places and had unique individual stories. I think documenting these stories is important.”
After her time in active duty, she continued serving as a contractor in the CENTCOM theater, deploying in 2011 attached to Combined Forces Special Operations Command in Afghanistan. She supported Navy SEALs and Special Forces and other SOF units doing village stabilization and cultural support. That year was the first time women were embedded with special operators in teams called Cultural Support Teams.
“Ask any Marine that was in Helmand,” Murga says. “When you can’t search a woman because of cultural sensitivities, it becomes a security problem. When you have a woman with you who can pull an Afghan woman from the field to be searched, that’s incredibly important.”
She deployed at a time when the combat exclusion rule for women was still in place. Women were not supposed to be embedded with these combat units, but the operational needs made it necessary.
Murga is now an award-winning filmmaker who has produced work for Fox, ABC, and CBS. Last year, she was one of ten selected for the American Film Institute Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women.
“The military actually gave me the courage to pursue something that I love,” she says. “It’s a struggle. It’s definitely not something that you go in to naively. You can only choose it if you absolutely love it.”
Murga’s latest work is Earning the Tab, a three-part digital series about Maj. Lisa Jaster, the third woman to graduate from the U.S. Army Ranger School.
The need for women in forward-deployed combat zones despite the rules against it, coupled with requests from those units, made Murga wonder why the controversy surrounds women graduating from Ranger school.
“It’s a leadership school,” Murga says. “It trains you how to deal with high stress combat situations. A lot of people that go to Ranger school don’t necessarily go to the 75th Ranger Regiment. They’ll get fielded out. Until this past year no women have been allowed to go to leadership schools like that. It goes to how well trained you want your force.”
Graduating from Ranger School does not automatically earn a spot in the 75th Ranger Regiment. The 75th has its own requirements and initiation processes. Murga’s point is especially important, however, because the Army’s plan to integrate women into combat functions starts with putting female officers in combat leadership positions.
“There’s talk about how they expected less from these folks and they weren’t allowed to go to certain schools,” Murga says. “But you can’t send people out to war and limit the amount of training you give. I’m talking about offering training that was not given to women.”
Maj. Jaster is a 37-year-old Army Reserve officer and engineer. She is a West Point graduate, a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and she was not eager to be a part of Murga’s series.
“I had to convince her,” Murga says. “It took a lot of convincing. She knew there would be backlash like ‘Oh, you only did this to be famous and you only did this because you wanted a TV show,’ but it’s historic. I suggested we just video tape her around her house, five days before and then you have it and if nothing ever comes of it, then nothing ever comes of it.”
Murga did not film Jaster in training at Fort Benning. Ranger training is closed to external media. The Ranger training footage in Earning the Tab was shot by the U.S. Army’s own combat camera troops. Murga interviewed Jaster before and after the training, with the idea of documenting it because of its historical importance. Murga was just as interested as any one else in the rumors surround Jaster: Did she really earn it? Did the Army lower the standard? Why did she want to go through something so rigorous?
“I wanted to know why this mother of two, who loves fitness, who loves spending time with her family, why she wanted to do this,” Murga recalls. “She gave me the same answer most men I talk to gave me which is ‘I wanted to just prove to myself and see if I can do it.'”
Though she did her best to strip away the politics, Murga still found the same polarization over women in Ranger training, even among her friends.
“The tricky part for me as a filmmaker was to try to tell this story in a way that was just storytelling,” she says. “It really wasn’t taking up a side or political position. It wasn’t examining the idea of women in combat, it was looking at this one school with this one woman and her experience there.”
Chris Hemsworth may be best known for his recurring role as Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but his new movie set to premier on Netflix called Extraction sees the leading man trade his magic hammers in for a different sort of nail driver: an M4.
The story, as depicted in this first trailer, seems to parallel plot points from the 2018 film Sicario: Day of Soldado, with Hemsworth playing a similar role to that of Benicio Del Toro’s “Alejandro.” Hemsworth is a mercenary tasked with rescuing the child of a drug lord from an unnamed (but desert-looking) city seemingly hell bent on the boy’s death.
As the trailer comes to a climax, Hemsworth’s character (named Tyler Rake) is presented with a choice: he can either desert the boy to be killed in order to escape the city, or choose to stay and continue protecting him with no clear way out. While the trailer doesn’t specifically show Hemsworth making a decision, the trailer (or movie tropes in general) make it pretty clear that he makes the good-guy call and sticks with the young man.
In another strange plot parallel with the Sicario sequel, Hemsworth’s character is depicted as a man with a death wish and singular purpose, broken inside over the loss of his own son years ago. In Day of Soldado, Alejandro spends the film saving a drug lord’s daughter–despite being broken inside over the death of his own family (which was ordered by the girl’s father).
So sure, the story may not be all that original, but when was the last time you saw an action flick break new ground in the plot department? This movie may have a lot in common with another tactical thriller, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a blast to watch.
And in truth, the vibe of this movie seems pretty far off from the Sicario approach of leveraging darkness and quiet to create suspense. Instead, Hemsworth is shown fighting his way through a city in an action packed three minutes that managed to sell me on watching this movie despite that apparent re-tread of a plot.
That action and lighter tone may be credited to the movie’s producers: the Russo brothers that helmed some of the most successful Marvel films, like Avengers: Endgame and Captain America: Winter Soldier. The Russo brothers have mastered the art of delivering gut wrenching scenes in films that are otherwise little more than action-extravaganzas, and it seems likely that we’ll see more of that in Extraction.
Netflix’s Extraction starts streaming on April 24.
Many Hollywood war movies focus on the action-packed set pieces that go into the film’s trailer, leaving out a lot of room for the character elements that elevate good stories.
When David Ayer’s “Fury” debuted in theaters, the film’s realistic and diverse characters like Gordo, Bible, and the seasoned Don “War Daddy” Collier made audiences feel the dangers of being a tanker in WWII.
Brad Pitt plays the German speaking tank commander War Daddy must to deploy his leadership skills to manage the different personalities that make up his crew.
No one said you can’t have feelings while you’re deployed in a combat zone, but leaders have to control their emotions to help maintain order. That’s exactly what War Daddy did after losing a crew member as he walked off for a moment of self-reflection.
War Daddy reminds us every great warrior needs a moment. (Images via Giphy)
2. Make your expectations clear
The Army quickly replaces the fallen crew member with an untrained boy named, Norman.
War Daddy gives the newly assigned tanker some sage advice for the hell he’s about to witness.
It sounds cold-hearted, but it’s realistic advice. (Images via Giphy)
3. Rank doesn’t always have its privileges
It not uncommon that war films feature both the war-hardened and the inexperienced “shot caller” tropes. But having a high-rank insignia on your collar or sleeve is only as good as the man wearing the shirt. Write that down.
True leaders get true reactions from their comrades. (Images via Giphy)
4. Live in the moment
Having fought the Germans for a good amount of time and seeing plenty of death, War Daddy knows the importance of embracing a special moment.
To feel alive in a time of death is priceless. (Images via Giphy)
5. Take care of each other
Even though their world is currently under a pile of sh*t, they still have their brotherhood and it’s stronger than ever.
Words only veterans can relate too. (Images via Giphy)
Oscar-nominated Sam Elliott will narrate the four-part docuseries Honor Guard, which follows U.S. Army soldiers throughout the grueling training required to serve at the 3rd Infantry Regiment. Also known as The Old Guard, the 3rd Infantry Regiment is perhaps best known for hosting the Sentinels who guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Honor Guard is the follow-up to Time to Kill Productions’ award-winning 2016 feature documentary The Unknowns, which follows the training of the Sentinels. Creators Neal Schrodetzki and Ethan Morse, who served together as guards at the Tomb, will now follow the intense training cycles that prepare soldiers for The Regiment, the Honor Guard Caisson Platoon, the U.S. Army Drill Team, or a Full-Honors funeral ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.
Morse and Schrodetzki have exclusive access provided by the United States Army to capture these never-before documented training cycles. Their mission is the same as Sam Elliott’s, and the reason he agreed to join the project: to honor the fallen.
Elliott’s contributions to military story-telling helped inspired Morse to serve in the first place. “I first became interested in the military after seeing Sam Elliott as the Union Cavalry General John Buford in Gettysburg. Fast forward a few years and I’m serving in the California Army National Guard, just like Mr. Elliott did.”
Elliott has a distinguished and longstanding reputation with the military community, due in part to the iconic roles he has played in films like We Were Soldiers and Once an Eagle.
Plus, his voice is smooth as molasses. You just know it is.
Chapter 16 “The Rescue” absolutely nailed three things: fight choreography, music, and Star Wars lore. It was so good, in fact, that I don’t know how the show will ever be able to top it, but if nothing else, season two showed that creator Jon Favreau is hitting his stride.
Spoilers through season 2 episode 8 ahead.
The hunt for Grogu the Yoda Baby is on.
The episode opens with a successful attack against Dr. Pershing’s transport ship, where Alderaan native Cara Dune faced an Imperial soldier who had proudly been aboard the first Death Star when it destroyed her planet. After exploring so many enslaved Stormtrooper stories in Episodes VII-IX, it’s nice to face an enemy with violent ideals that deserve to be quelled again.
Anyway, he’s dead now.
For Alderaan. #NeverForget (The Mandalorian, Disney+)
With Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi) and his ship captured, discovering the location of Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) becomes easy work. Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) recruits the help of some old friends, the Mandalorians Bo-Katan Kryze and Koska Reeves (Mercedes Varnado) and they devise their plan: fly the transport ship to Gideon’s cruiser under pursuit by Boba Fett’s Slave II. Once on board, Kryze, Reeves, Dune, and Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) will attack the bridge and subdue Gideon while Djarin shuts down the Dark Trooper activation and rescues the child.
Again I want to iterate, the fight sequences are just plain fun in this episode. The Mandalorian armor means new fight tactics and choreography, and the stunt coordinators really capitalized on each fighter’s different attributes. At one point Dune’s weapon jams and she just starts pummeling Stormtroopers with it like a baseball bat.
When Djarin makes it to the Dark Trooper bay, he’s a heartbeat too late: one Dark Trooper manages to open the blast door. Director Peyton Reed really nailed some of the camera shots here while Ludwig Göransson’s score is better than ever. The Dark Trooper music really is bitchin’ — it almost reminds me of Daft Punk’s Tron: Legacy work.
“Siri, play Dark Trooper music” (The Mandalorian, Disney+)
Here we get to see the full strength of the Dark Troopers. Djarin really struggles to defeat just one — his Beskar armor is the only thing keeping him alive. Meanwhile, the rest of the platoon pounds the blast doors, breaking through at any moment. Finally, Djarin’s Beskar spear destroys the Dark Trooper and he opens the external launch door and sucks the troopers out into space.
The women successfully take the bridge…but no Moff Gideon. Instead, Djarin finds him in Grogu’s cell, holding the Darksaber over the little guy’s head. Djarin fights Gideon and manages to defeat and disarm him before marching him to the bridge.
Here, things get interesting. All Bo-Katan has been wanting is to find Gideon and reclaim Darksaber, which will give her the right to rule the throne of Mandalore. Unfortunately, it turns out that she needed to have won the saber in combat — much like the Elder Wand in Harry Potter. As Djarin was the one who took it from Gideon, Bo-Katan refuses to accept the saber when Djarin yields it back to her.
Put a pin in that.
Cool weapons never get old. (The Mandalorian, Disney +)
This is when the platoon of Dark Troopers returns, boarding the ship and making quick work of the blast doors. Our group of heroes will never be able to take them…but we know from last week’s episode that a Jedi is coming…
…and sure enough, one does. The reveal is as predictable and f***ing satisfying as it could have possibly been. An X-Wing fighter appears outside the ship. Through the security footage we see a robed figure emerge and begin to battle the Dark Troopers. Finally, we see the green blade.
One by one, the Jedi and his lightsaber destroy the Dark Troopers. Little Grogu feels his presence and watches the footage with curiosity. Finally, he enters: Luke Skywalker.
Recently there’s been speculation about Sebastian Stan playing Luke Skywalker — the resemblance is uncanny and Stan (aka Marvel’s Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier) is already beloved by Disney audiences. But Favreau decided to go with a CGI version of Mark Hamill — and it’s the best CGI real human to date. Very little uncanny valley detected here.
In a heartwarming scene, Luke promises to protect Grogu with his life and train him to use the Force. Djarin removes his mask and Pascal delivers a fantastic and moving performance (considering there were so few words and he was holding a doll) as he says goodbye.
R2-D2 shows up and is cute as shit. Luke takes the baby. The day is won.
Okay, remember that pin? Let’s talk about it.
The first two seasons have all been about Djarin protecting the child. Now that Grogu is off to Luke’s Jedi Temple, what will Djarin do? Well, I have a feeling he’ll be diving deeper into his Mandalorian roots. Bo-Katan wants to rule and restore the Mandalorians — and she wants to do it with Darksaber. Will she become a nemesis to Djarin? Will they solve the ownership of the Darksaber with a friendly duel? I guess we’ll find out in season three!
Oh, and make sure you check out the post-credits for a fun little revenge scene.
Gary Sinise has had a very successful film and television career spanning over four decades.
Sinise starred on the long-running TV series “CSI: NY” and worked on major motion pictures such as “Apollo 13” and “Ransom.” Sinise is a big supporter of the men and women who serve our nation in uniform. He frequently tours across military bases all around the world entertaining troops with his cover band “The Lt. Dan Band.”
Of course, the actor is most remembered for his portrayal of Lt. Dan Taylor in the 1994 Academy Award winning film “Forrest Gump.”
In the movie, Lt. Dan is a straight-forward Army officer who comes from a long line of military tradition. In the film, it was said that every one of his relatives had served and died in every American war.
Throughout the picture, we see the character evolve into various stages showing anger, depression, acceptance and redemption.
The character is an important part of Forrest Gump’s life and his own development throughout the film. The role earned Sinise his only Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
Here are eight valuable life lessons from our favorite Lieutenant:
1. Take care of your feet
The first time we see Lt. Dan is in Vietnam when Gump, played by the legendary Tom Hanks, and his best friend Bubba report to their new unit.
Lieutenant Dan comes out of his quarters and introduces himself to the duo. After some small talk, the officer tells them that there is one item of GI gear that can be the “difference between a live grunt and a dead grunt.” He then say “socks” and he stresses the importance of keeping their feet dry when out on patrol.
Clearly Lt. Dan was a student of history. In World War I, many Soldiers suffered from trench foot, a serious problem when feet are damp and unsanitary. If left untreated trench foot can lead to gangrene and amputation.
Our feet are so vital in our everyday life. Listen to Lt. Dan! Change your socks and keep your feet dry.
It was Lt. Dan’s destiny to die in combat for his country. As morbid as it may sound, this is what the character envisioned as his life’s purpose.
Many people do not know what they were put on this earth to do. Many people give up on their dreams never achieving them. Say what you want about Lt. Dan’s destiny, but it was clear what he wanted to achieve in his life.
3. Overcoming self-doubt
After Forrest Gump saved Lt. Dan’s life, Sinise’s character felt cheated out of his purpose. Laying in a hospital bed after his legs were amputated, Lt. Dan holds a lot of self-doubt asking Gump “what am I going to do now?”
His feeling of hopelessness is something many of us experience in life for various circumstances and situations. His doubts remain throughout the movie as the character goes through changes in his life and gathers new perspectives along the way.
Eventually Lt. Dan recognizes that he cannot let his insecurities hinder him. As you will see later on, Lt. Dan sets out new goals to accomplish and eventually stops his self-loathing.
4. Sticking up for your friends
While it seemed Lt. Dan always gave Gump a hard time, deep down he valued the friendship of his former Soldier.
This is clear in a scene where Lt. Dan sticks up for Gump during a New Year’s Eve after party in a New York hotel room. The character backs up his friend after two women start to mock Gump by calling him “stupid.”
Lieutenant Dan kicks them out of the room and tells them to never call him stupid. That is a true friend!
5. Keeping your word
During their time in New York, Gump told Lt. Dan he was going to become a shrimp boat captain in order to keep a promise to his friend and fallen comrade Bubba.
Lieutenant Dan vowed if Gump became a shrimp boat captain the wounded warrior would become his first mate. As the movie progress, we find Gump on board his very own shrimp boat.
The new captain sees his longtime friend on the pier one day while on his boat. In one of the most iconic and hilarious scenes in the Academy Award winning picture, Gump jumps from his boat while it’s still steaming forward to greet Lt. Dan.
When Hanks’ character asked Lt. Dan what he was doing there, he said he wanted to try out his “sea legs” and would keep his word to become Gump’s first mate. It is important to keep your promises!
6. Making peace with himself
The Lt. Dan character lived in a world of bitterness and hatred for so many years. But serving as Gump’s first mate made him appreciate his life. Although the Lt. Dan character always seemed to be a bit rough around the edges, he showed his heartfelt side when he finally thanked Gump for saving his life during the war.
After thanking him, Sinise’s character jumps into the water and begins to swim while looking up to the sky. The symbolism in the scene is clear here as he washing away all of those years of hate and accepted a new path.
7. Invest your money
Lieutenant Dan invested the money from the Bubba Gump Shrimp Corporation in a “fruit” company. That company of course was Apple. This life lesson is pretty simple. If you can invest some money wisely go for it! You just might become a “gazillionaire.”
8. The joys of life
At the end of the film, we see a clean shaven Lt. Dan walking with his prosthetic legs, which Gump referred to as “magic legs.” With his fiancé by his side, Lt. Dan has a new lease on life.
Much like Lt. Dan, we all encounter ups and downs throughout our lives in one form or another. However, all of those experiences are part of the journey that can make life joyful in the end.
This is clear when Sinise’s character looks at Gump and gives him a big smile.