On Dec. 10, there were a lot of amazing announcements from Disney and friends, but one that stuck out the most to me was Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins’ video for her upcoming feature film Rogue Squadron. I went into it blind, and if you haven’t watched it yet, then, well, you’re not precisely going in blind, but watch the video:
The video opens on Jenkins roller blading on what looks to be a flight line. She reaches her car and takes off her blades as she casually talks to the camera.
“I love to move fast. I think that’s because I grew up the daughter of a great fighter pilot and every day I would wake up and go outside and look up and see my father and his squadron taking off in their F-4s, roaring across the sky and it was the most thrilling thing still I’ve experienced in my entire life,” Jenkins shares.
In 2017, her breakthrough hit film Wonder Woman grossed over $821 million worldwide, making it the tenth highest-grossing film of the year as well as the highest-grossing film by a solo female director (Captain Marvel, co-directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck earned $1.128 billion worldwide). The duo, and others, are proving with consistency that there’s a hunger for heroic content helmed by women.
“So when [my father] lost his life in service to this country, it ignited a desire in me to turn all of that tragedy and thrill in to making the greatest fighter pilot movie of all time.” Her father, William Jenkins, died during a NATO training exercise when she was seven years old, an event that naturally left a profound impression on her.
As her career has taken off (like, Emmy-nominated, Time Person of the Year nominated taken off), she searched for a story about flight — but couldn’t find the right one. Until now.
“Now I found a movie about two things I love, so I’m going to see you very soon,” she hinted.
And with that, she donned an iconic orange rebel flight suit and helmet and walked to an X-Wing fighter.
Rogue Squadron will mark the first time a woman has directed a Star Wars film and, according to Luscasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, the movie will usher in a new era after the Skywalker saga and “introduce a new generation of starfighter pilots as they earn their wings and risk their lives in a boundary-pushing high-speed thrill ride. The legend of Rogue Squadron has been long beloved by fans and will move us into a future era of the galaxy.”
Rogue Squadron, named for the Rogue One squad that sacrificed themselves to procure the plans to the Death Star, is the starfighter squadron formed after the Battle of Yavin in Star Wars: A New Hope. It’s featured perhaps most prominently in the Rogue Squadron video game series.
“When the perfect story arrived in combination with another true love of mine, the incomparable world of Star Wars, I knew I’d finally found my next film. I’m extremely honored and excited to take it on, and grateful to Lucasfilm, Disney, and the fans for extending that thrill to me.”
Movie-goers know Danny Trejo as one of Hollywood’s toughest dudes, mostly because of his role in “Machete” where he plays a badass who knows his way around a blade.
Trejo is about to hit the screen again in “Range 15,” a collaborative project between the veterans of the Ranger Up! and Article 15 apparel companies.
“It was an honor to be with these guys,” Trejo says of the veterans who he worked with on the ‘Range 15’ set — guys like Mat Best and Nick Palmisciano. “It’s one of the most exciting movies I’ve ever been in.”
The veterans behind the making of “Range 15” are well known to the military community as a result of their popular YouTube videos and killer t-shirt designs. This is their first major motion picture.
Watch Danny Trejo talk about his role as Zombie Machete in ‘Range 15’ (a WATM exclusive):
Get more information about the GI Film Festival coming up in the Washington DC area in a few weeks here. (“Range 15” will be screened there and the stars will be in attendance. Don’t miss it.)
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.
Along with Flash Gordon, Joseph Campbell, and about a million other things, George Lucas was inspired by The Searchers when he created Star Wars. The director even slid a few subtle references to the film into A New Hope.
The star of The Searchers, of course, is John Wayne, so it’s cool in a full-circle kind of way that his grandson is now officially part of the Star Wars universe.
Brendan Wayne got his start in the family business in a 2001 episode of Angel, and since then he’s appeared in a lot of movies and TV shows, from Fast Furious to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to Sons of Anarchy.
In The Mandalorian, the younger Wayne appears in episodes three through six as one of the doubles for the titular character. The Wayne family is now officially part of a blockbuster world their paterfamilias helped inspire.
All in all, this is very cool, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention another less cool way the Wayne family inadvertently altered the course of Star Wars history in a way that many fans did not appreciate.
George Lucas specifically cited John Wayne in the thought process behind altering the Han-Greedo standoff in A New Hope so that Han shoots second.
Han Solo was going to marry Leia, and you look back and say, “Should he be a cold-blooded killer?” Because I was thinking mythologically — should he be a cowboy, should he be John Wayne? And I said, “Yeah, he should be John Wayne.” And when you’re John Wayne, you don’t shoot people [first] — you let them have the first shot. It’s a mythological reality that we hope our society pays attention to.
John Wayne was such an influential actor that he was synonymous with a certain rugged moral masculinity, something many fans would argue led Lucas astray when he altered A New Hope to make Solo more Wayne-like. Lucas tinkered with the scene yet again, it became one of the biggest stories on Disney+ launch day, though you could hardly blame John Wayne for either kerfuffle.
You also can’t blame Brendan Wayne, whose presence in episodes 3 through 6 of The Mandalorian is the kind of cool trivia that will make fans happy, not angry.
This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.
A trailer dropped today for a Sonic the Hedgehog film and honestly I don’t know how to feel about it.
The Lego film proved that anything is on the table with regards to nostalgia and storytelling. There’s no reason not to make a Sonic the Hedgehog film — 9/10 90’s kids agree that game was radical — and yet…I just don’t know if these guys can pull this one off.
Check out the trailer — and then let’s discuss.
Sonic The Hedgehog (2019) – Official Trailer – Paramount Pictures
Now, the best thing they did was use Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise in this trailer. Coolio was both a firefighter and a crack addict and this song evokes that exact combination. It always has. It always will. When Gangsta’s Paradise plays, sh** is about to go down (which reminds me: who else was today old when they learned that there’s an entire Sonic fetish subculture? Don’t look into it at work).
The film is a live-action adventure comedy about Sonic and his new human friend Tom Wachowski (played by Cyclops James Marsden, the hero gets Jody’d in every film he’s in) as they take on Jim Carrey’s Dr. Robotnik.
In the trailer, our fast friend captures the attention of the U.S. military when he causes an energy surge that knocks out power across the entire Pacific Northwest. They team up with Dr. Robotnik to track down the little fella, presumably unaware that Robotnik is one of the most notorious 90s villains out there.
Ron Meyer with Carol Eggert, Senior Vice President, Military and Veteran Affairs at Comcast and Jared Lyon National President and CEO of Student Veterans of America (SVA) at an SVA Event. (Photo courtesy of: NBCUniversal)
From the U.S. Marine Corps to the Hollywood mailroom, becoming one of the founders of CAA to being vice chairman at NBCUniversal, Ron Meyer has experienced a lot since growing up in West L.A.
Annenberg Media: Tell me about your family and your life growing up?
Meyer: My mother and father escaped Nazi Germany in 1939. They both immigrated and met in Los Angeles. They were German Jews; my father was a lady’s dress salesman and my mother worked with him until she had me and my sister. We had a very simple life here in west Los Angeles.
Annenberg Media: What is the most distinct memory of your mother and your father?
Meyer: They were loving and supportive parents. My father traveled four out of six weeks so he was gone a lot of the time. My mother raised us on a full-time basis. They were great parents and we loved each other unconditionally.
NBCUNIVERSAL EXECUTIVES — Pictured: Ron Meyer, Vice Chairman, NBCUniversal — (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)
Annenberg Media: What challenges did you face at school and in the community?
Meyer: I created challenges for myself. We didn’t have money so that wasn’t really an issue as none of us in that neighborhood had money. I worked from the age of about 12-years-old where I delivered and sold newspapers. If I saw a shirt that I liked, I had to work to pay for it. I washed cars at every job you could imagine. I did what I had to do. I was in trouble as a kid but I created most of it, so that definitely made it more challenging for my parents to deal with me. I went to three different junior high and high schools. I spent very little time going to school and I was suspended a lot. I don’t think I ever spent a full day in high school. When I was 16, I legally dropped out. That is what led me to the Marine Corps.
Annenberg Media: What made you want to join the Marines and what was your military occupational specialty (MOS)?
Meyer: I used to box and I was told there was a boxing program in the Marines. There was an active draft back then, so I had a draft card at 17. I thought I was a tough guy and the Marine Corps seemed like a good idea. I found out that there was no boxing program after joining. It was a different kind of Corps; corporal punishment was allowed, and you could fight bare knuckles. They could put hands on you, and you could put hands on them. It was a different kind of world back then.
I was a rifleman, which was my main MOS. I worked in the motor pool and as a radio man. I was a driver as well.
Annenberg Media: What values were stressed at home?
Meyer: My parents were good, honest and hardworking people. I was taught an early lesson when we went to someone’s house for a visit. When I came back home, I had four or five quarters in my pocket. When I told my mother and made up some story, she was not having it. She made me go back down, return the quarters and apologize. My parents never tolerated stealing. They taught me my values that never changed throughout my life.
Annenberg Media: What drew you to film and media while growing up?
Meyer: When I was in the Marine Corps, I got the measles and I was quarantined. I had never read a book in my life at that point. My mother sent me two books: “Amboy Dukes” which was about kids in trouble and a book called, “The Flesh Peddlers” by Steven Longstreet about a young guy in the agency business. I thought when I got out, I didn’t want to be this jerk anymore so I went looking for a job in the agency business. I didn’t have any friends or connections in the business, I just knew about it as a viewer. When a movie came out on a Friday, I thought it was finished on Thursday. I had no concept of the process. It seemed like a good way to make a living. Agents were salesmen and my father was a salesman. I was going to be a salesman of some kind so selling talent seemed like a thing to look into, so I went after it.
Annenberg Media: What was it like starting at the Kohner Agency?
Meyer: It was a great experience and I was lucky to get the job. I was a messenger there for six years. It was a fun time to live in L.A. back then. It was hard work and I worked five days-a-week and then was on call on the weekends for Mr. Kohner. It really was the best time of my life. Hollywood was a lot of fun on the Sunset Strip with all the restaurants and bars. It was just great and looking back on the time it was very Andy Hardy-ish.
Ron Meyer with reporter, Joel Searls at NBCUniversal. (Photo courtesy of: Joel Searls)
Annenberg Media: What leadership lessons in life and from the service have helped you most in your career?
Meyer: The most lasting value comes from what the Marine Corps taught me, teamwork is everything. At CAA it was about teamwork and certainly here at NBCUniversal it is about teamwork. I felt that way at CAA, you were either for us or against us.
We are all in it together. If we succeed, we all succeed and if we fail, we all fail together. You can’t be pointing your finger as a leader. If you trusted the wrong people to do the job, then you must be responsible for it. As a leader you are in it more than anyone else. It is pretty basic: you treat people the way you want to be treated, you tell the best truth you can, you do what you say you are going to do. Once you are a team those are all the fundamentals. You do the best that you can.
Annenberg Media: What are the keywords that you live by?
Meyer: I wish I could say I invented it, but when I was very young, I saw a sign that said, “Assumption is the mother of all f***! ups.” If you assume something you are at risk, I have lived by that forever and I believe that. Don’t assume anyone else is going to take care of the problem or assume you know what someone else is thinking.
Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Tom Hanks and Ron Meyer at the APOLLO 13 premiere. (Photo courtesy of NBCUniversal/Alex Berliner)
Annenberg Media: What are your top three films while you have been at NBCUniversal?
Meyer: The films that I am most proud of being a part of are “Brokeback Mountain,” “United 93” and “Apollo 13.” I am proud of these films and they had a very important significance for me. “Apollo 13” was a perfect movie since we knew how it ended, but you were on the edge of your seat until the very ending. It entertained you and it made you care. “Brokeback Mountain” broke barriers that no one ever imagined before. It was two men falling in love with each other and the beauty of it. I was proud to be part of the studio that made it. “United 93” made you proud to be an American and it told a story of what people are capable of in the worst of circumstances. It was an extraordinary movie and it was the first post 9/11 film. There were no stars in it, and it was what really happened. I saw it with the families of the victims of Flight 93. It deserves to be a classic film and it is important for America. These are the three films that really stand out for me.
Mark Bowden is one of the greatest investigative reporters of our age.
“Black Hawk Down,” his exhaustive work on the experience of U.S. troops in Mogadishu, brought renewed attention to the oft-forgotten story. It also resulted in the film, which remains a favorite of the military-veteran community.
His most recent book, “Hué 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam,” is just as exhaustive and compelling. The book is a master work, five years in the making.
The Battle of Hué was the longest and costliest fight of the entire Tet Offensive. On the morning of Jan. 31, 1968, a coordinated attack from 8,000 North Vietnamese Army Regulars, Viet Cong infiltrators, and Vietnamese civilians quickly captured much of the city in a single night.
American and South Vietnamese troops were woefully outnumbered in Hué. Facing the Communist forces there were the ARVN 1st Infantry Division and 200 of their American and Australian advisors at the MACV compound. By the time the sun came up that day, the Communists controlled the city south of the Huong River – except the MACV compound.
A view from a Marine machine gun position on the outer Citadel wall of Hué City during the 1968 Tet Offensive.
The Marines from MACV would have to go on the offensive, fighting their way across the river to rescue the brilliant and highly-respected ARVN General Ngô Quang Truong and what remained of his 1st Infantry. Then they had to expel the Communists from the area.
Hué would become a case study in urban combat, the first time since the Korean War the Marines would fight in a city like that. The battle lasted almost a month, turning 40 percent of the city’s buildings to rubble and costing the lives of 380 ARVN troops, 147 Marines, 74 U.S. Army soldiers, 8,000 Communists, and more than 5,800 civilians.
It was also the turning point in American popular support for the war.
Bowden’s book covers the history of the war until that point, especially from 30,000-foot view from the White House and General William Westmoreland’s MACV Headquarters. What’s truly unique and fascinating about Bowden’s style is the personal narratives that drive the history of the story.
“Hué 1968” is a gripping tapestry of nonfiction storytelling, with personal stories of people on the ground woven into the history and politics of the war. The enemy is no longer a nameless, faceless mass of targets; the NVA and VC are characters in the story of the war in Vietnam, with names, families, and lives. With these stories comes the understanding of why the McNamara doctrine of “limited warfare” would never have worked against the Vietnamese.
The book gives the eyewitness account of a young Vietnamese girl who turns on the southern regime and becomes a Viet Cong operative just as much as it follows the junior enlisted Marine radio operator Jim Coolican, who was stationed at the MACV compound. Personal narratives from every side of the conflict continue like this throughout the book.
Bowden traces the details of a young VC as he traverses the Ho Chi Minh trail and moves to infiltrate the city. He even painstakingly documents the “logistics miracle” – as one U.S. Navy captain called it – of the Tet Offensive’s movement of men and weapons into South Vietnam.
NVA and VC soldiers assault the city of Hué in South Vietnam, January 1968.
If you know the history of the Vietnam War, you know what’s coming in the Tet Offensive and it keeps you turning pages. No matter how familiar you are, you get to see the war from all sides – the NVA, the VC, ARVN leadership, American troops, American leadership, even Ho Chi Minh and North Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap’s points of view are covered in remarkable detail.
The fall of Hué was the most successful attack of the entire Tet Offensive and even then the city was retaken by Feb. 24. Both sides bought into their own propaganda. The Communists believed that the South was ready to rise against the despotic Thieu regime and expel the Americans — they just needed a hand to get started.
Viet Cong forces climb on an abandoned U.S.-built Marine Armored Vehicle during the Battle of Hué.
The north came to depend on that uprising for the long-term success of the Offensive. The Americans and South Vietnamese were caught off guard because they thought the enemy was weak and could not launch an attack on that scale, let alone capture a city like Hué.
Until the Tet Offensive, a majority of Americans believed the war was going well and believed government officials who used statistics and body counts to insist that American involvement could soon come to an end. Body counts weren’t the metric used by the Communists. For the north, their success was defined by killing or wounding as many Americans as possible, destroying the ARVN, and inciting a popular uprising in the South.
Marines hold a Viet Cong flag they ripped down from the provincial headquarters in Hué.
The United States claimed a military victory in Hué but Hanoi would never be intimidated by a limited war. The prolonged violence and media bias against the war after the Tet Offensive eroded public support for it as well.
The U.S. began a strategic withdrawal from Vietnam the next year and left completely in 1973. South Vietnam fell to the Communists just two years later. Hué was just the beginning of the end.
Mark Bowden is an award-winning author and correspondent for The Atlantic. He is also a contributing editor for Vanity Fair. Filmmakers Michael Mann and Michael De Luca (who produced the 1995 heist movie “Heat”) purchased the rights to “Hué 1968” and plan to turn the book into a miniseries.
West Point graduate Sean Mullin (Amira & Sam) returns to writing with Semper Fi, a film about a police officer and Marine Corps Reservist who is faced with an ethical dilemma when it comes to helping his brother in prison. Murderball director and co-writer Henry-Alex Rubin directed the film, which is filled with stars like Jai Courtney (Suicide Squad), Finn Witrock (Unbroken), and Leighton Meester (Gossip Girl).
But it’s perfectly reasonable if you’re most excited about Recon Marine Rudy Reyes, who plays a role in the film and served as a military advisor for the production.
SEMPER FI Official Trailer (2019) Nat Wolff, Jai Courtney Movie HD
Courtney plays Cal, a police officer and Marine Corps reservist who decides to break his younger brother Oyster (played by Paper Towns’ Nat Wolff) out of prison. In doing so, he’ll question the system he has sworn to uphold, whatever the cost.
Some of the initial reactions to the trailer have included veterans and Marines saying the film goes against “what it means to be a Marine” but, given that the film doesn’t come out until Oct. 4, 2019, I’d say it’s probably too soon to tell. Furthermore, what “semper fi” means to one Marine might be different from what it means to another.
Besides, Mullin has a history of writing non-traditional veteran stories. Amira Sam, which Mullin wrote and directed, was about a veteran who comes home from war and his relationship with an immigrant. “I think every single ‘veteran comes home from war’ movie that’s ever been made is about a veteran with post-traumatic stress, and I wanted to tell the first story about a veteran who comes home and he’s okay but his country’s lost its mind,” Mullin told Military.com.
Sometimes vets are heroes and sometimes they break bad. It sounds like Courtney portrays a Marine who is navigating both roads — it’ll be interesting to see how the story plays out.
Either way, you can find out for yourself in October. In the meantime, feel free to keep the conversation going on our Facebook page: what is Hollywood’s responsibility when telling military stories?
It’s a testament to the everlasting mythology of the SEAL Teams when a screenwriter – who also happens to be an Air Force Pararescue Jumper – and his Marine veteran dad team up to write a TV show about them. That’s exactly what happened with History’s show Six, now in its second season.
David Broyles is the son of Hollywood (and Vietnam) veteran William Broyles, writer of some of the best military films and television in recent memory, including China Beach, Apollo 13, Jarhead, and Flags of Our Fathers. Now father and son can add Six to that list.
Before David joined the military, he watched the Twin Towers fall with his father, who was a lieutenant of Marines in Vietnam. He had just finished his degree at the University of Texas at Austin. Within a week, he was looking at joining the military, judging them by their special operations teams.
Yes, he considered joining the Navy to be a SEAL. What he chose was Air Force Pararescue.
(Courtesy of David Broyles)
“I looked at the SEALs, I looked at the Marine Corps, and I found Pararescue,” says David Broyles, co-creator and one of the main writers on Six. “It seemed really challenging with the high washout rate. But also the job was to save lives, so after watching the towers come down I wanted to help. I want to make a difference. And probably like most of us, I wanted to challenge myself.”
There were 82 would-be pararescue jumpers in Broyles’ initial class. By the time he graduated there were only two (and four more would graduate later). Broyles spent his career in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Karshi-Khanabad in Uzbekistan. There were good times and there were bad.
“I never felt more alive and never felt more terrified,” Broyles says. “The bonds of brotherhood that I experienced have always stuck with me and the things I saw and did have always powered my writing.”
Broyles always knew he would be a writer. After the military, he attended Columbia Film School in New York City. When the opportunity came to write Six, it was a chance to express in writing what it all meant to him and his friends that went through the war together.
“It was a way to work through that through writing,” he told We Are The Mighty. “A cathartic way to explore it and really honor the guys that were still in there and the guys that didn’t come back.”
With his father William Broyles, the two wrote the pilot for Six, the elder Broyles bringing his experience in Vietnam while the younger Broyles brought his experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. For Six, however, William Broyles was also bringing his experience as a father who watched his son go off to war.
(Photo courtesy of David Broyles)
William Broyles went off to Vietnam as a youth and didn’t really think about how his mother or father felt during his time away. his recent experiences with war put him in just that position. While his son was deployed, William Broyles would go to his cabin in the mountains and not answer the phone. It was a trying time for the families back home.
So while Six highlights the military family in the field, it doesn’t forget the family at home that gets left behind.
The father-son duo knew they couldn’t please everyone (they acknowledge how hard it is to please the entirety of the military-veteran community) but were determined to zero-in on the emotional truth of those moments of what it meant to serve and to be part of a brotherhood.
And they succeeded.
David’s friends and colleagues in the special operations community reached out to him to voice their support and admiration for the show and appreciate his message of what it means to be part of that team.
“I think they respect what we’re trying to do,” Broyles says “But, it’s the toughest group to please. There’s no doubt about it. We’re constantly straddling the line between reality and drama. We try to straddle the worlds between the hard authenticity, the tactics, the equipment, the movement. We wanted to make it as real and authentic as possible without putting any of the guys who are actually doing the job at risk.”
The other side of the coin is telling the story to those who have no experience in war and loss, but making them come to understand what is to be part of that bigger picture.
“That is drilling down to the emotional truth of the moment,” he says. “It’s not just about war, it’s about brotherhood and loss and family. I think people respond to those kind of broader, deeper issues regardless of whether or not you have military experience.”
It’s no secret that Hollywood has a knack for getting the military wrong in war movies. Whether it’s diverging from reality in movies that are “based on a true story” or it’s pretending grenades create massive fireballs when they explode, the movie industry will always favor drama and spectacular visuals over realism… and to be totally honest, I’m cool with that.
Over the years, I’ve devoted a great deal of my professional life to analyzing the way narratives take shape in the public consciousness. I’ve dug into how different nations leverage media to affect public perceptions (I even wrote a book about it). I’ve explored the ways cultural touchstones like exchanging engagement rings manifested inorganically in corporate board rooms. I’ve even pointed out the ways World War II propaganda still shapes our dietary choices. That’s a long-winded way of saying that my professional interests have long been tied to exploring the undercurrent in mass communications, and further analyzing the ways that undercurrent can shape our perspectives of the world.
With the understanding that I’ve devoted so much of my time to exploring the narrative behind messaging, you can probably imagine that I can be a real party pooper when it comes to watching war movies. Like most vets, I get frustrated when I see uniforms worn incorrectly or when dialogue between service members feels forced or clunky… but unlike many vets, I also can’t help but look past the surface level messaging to try to figure out what filmmakers are trying to say with their choices in presentation.
Film, like any art form, is really an exercise in evoking emotion. When we really love a movie, it’s almost always because we loved the way the movie made us feel as we watched it. Whether we were excited by incredible action sequences or we were enraptured by a budding romance, it’s the experience, our experience, that we actually cherish. Good filmmakers know that, so they often choose to place a larger emphasis on creating an experience than they do on recreating a realistic event. Good movies aren’t good because they’re real–in other words–they’re good because the feelings they create are.
When a movie sucks, however, it’s usually because the director fails to evoke real emotions in the viewer. Bad filmmaking can be just as realistic or unrealistic as good filmmaking. Warner Brother’s famously bad “Green Lantern” movie, as a good example, is often made fun of for its use of an entirely CGI costume on Ryan Reynolds. You might think that’s because CGI costumes are just too unrealistic to be taken seriously… until you realize that most of the costumes you see in the wildly successful Marvel movies are entirely CGI as well. The difference isn’t that one is realistic while the other isn’t–the difference is that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is better at making you care about its characters. Iron Man’s CGI suit simply becomes set-dressing for the character that you’re emotionally invested in.
Marvel isn’t the only studio to get the feeling right, even when it gets facts or realism wrong. In fact, there are a number of war movies that manage the same feat.
Full Metal Jacket (the first half)
Marines, in particular, tend to hold the first half of Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket” in high esteem, and we tend to disregard the second half of the movie as an auteur opining about Vietnam (in a way that doesn’t leave the audience nearly as invested in the characters). Depending on who you ask, they’ll tell you that Marine recruit training is exactly like the movie or not like it at all–and that likely has a lot to do with individual experiences and feelings from one’s own time at the depots.
But whether you ever had to choke yourself with a drill instructor’s hand or not, most Marines feel a distinct kinship with J.T. “Joker” Davis’ platoon. It’s safe to say that most of us didn’t see a fellow recruit shoot our drill instructor in the bathroom (or head, as we call it), but that scene does capture something about recruit training that’s not easy to articulate. For many of us, Marine Recruit Training is the first place we’d ever been where violence is a commodity. We’re learning to fight, to kill, and when you begin broaching the subject in your mind, the experience can be jarring. I recall distinctly the first time I ever truly thought about taking another person’s life and what it would entail, and it was inside a squad bay just like the one you see in “Full Metal Jacket.”
The Hunt for Red October
If we’re grading war movies on realism, it would be tough to gloss over the fact that Sean Connery’s Marko Ramius is a Russian submarine captain that talks with a thick Scottish accent. But in terms of capturing the reality of the Cold War as a feeling, “Red October” hits the nail right on the head.
In real life, would we pull a CIA analyst out of his cubicle and drop him into the ocean to climb aboard a nuclear submarine hot on the tail of a rogue Russian captain? Probably not–but by doing so in the film, “The Hunt for Red October” effectively captured the sense of urgency, confusion, and distrust that characterized so much of the Cold War for both American and Soviet officials. Many defense initiatives in the U.S. were driven by concerns that the Soviet’s had developed a technological or strategic advantage, and in a real way, intelligent men and women like Jack Ryan devoted their entire lives to both offsetting those perceived capability gaps, and of course, to preventing nuclear war amid an international, nuclear-fueled, staring contest.
“The Hunt for Red October” may not be the most realistic exploration of Cold War tensions, but it expertly crafts the feeling that permeated the defense community throughout the conflict.
I won’t lie to you, I still take great issue with certain elements of “Jarhead” — specifically its depiction of Marines as singularly driven by the desire to take lives. However, as an exploration into the emotional ride that is Marine training and service, the desire to get a confirmed kill in “Jarhead’s” second act that I find so abrasive actually perfectly captures the feelings so many service members and veterans have about not seeing combat.
The vast majority of people in the military never take that “kill shot” “Jarhead’s” Anthony Swofford (Jake Gyllenhaal) is so focused on, and to be honest, lots of service members wouldn’t want to–but therein lies the point. “Jarhead” is a war movie that tells the story of training extensively for a job that you never get to do, and then returning to a world full of other people’s expectations that you know, inside your head, you’ll never amount to.
Lots of veterans find that they don’t feel “veteran enough” after their time in uniform is up. Maybe they didn’t see combat, or they didn’t see as much combat as others. Maybe their job had them mopping floors in Japan instead of kicking in doors in Iraq, or maybe they never left the wire during their time in the sandbox. Whatever the reason, many veterans (and even active service members) carry a chip on their shoulder created by society’s expectation that we all return home like John Rambo. The truth is, every veteran is veteran enough–but “Jarhead” does an excellent job of sharing that insecurity on film.
Tears of the Sun
This nearly forgotten 2003 action drama starred Bruce Willis as Lieutenant Waters, a U.S. Navy SEAL charged with leading his team into Nigeria to evacuate a U.S. citizen and medical doctor amid a bloody coup d’etat. When Waters and his SEAL team arrive, however, the doctor refuses to leave without the rest of the members of her small community who will likely be wiped out by rebel soldiers in the area.
What follows is a fairly unrealistic depiction of how military operations are carried out, complete with bloody last stand on the nation’s border in which many of the SEALs ultimately give their lives to protect the fleeing civilians. The movie is, to be honest, some pretty heavy handed American military propaganda (honestly, some of the best war movies are), but it’s precisely because of that arguably jingoistic idealism that this movie so effectively captures the feeling that drives so many of us to sign our enlistment papers.
Most folks in the military chose to join because of a combination of personal interest and idealism. We could use a good job, some help with college, and benefits for our families–but we also want to make a difference in the world. We want to help protect not just our nation’s people, but the ideals our nation represents. “Tears of the Sun” is a story about American service members giving up their lives to do what’s right, and because of that, it strikes the patriotic chord in many of us in a way that resonates deeply, even if the movie itself isn’t a masterclass in filmmaking.
Video games are known for over-the-top weaponry. In the universe of games, a seemingly tiny blonde dude can easily swing around the giant Buster Sword (see: Final Fantasy VII) and a kid with a mask is given free reign to swing around a ridiculously shaped, dual-bladed sword (see: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask).
In real life, getting your hands on these incredible weapons is a much more painstaking endeavor than simply showing up at a store and dropping a few rupees or a couple hundred gil. Tony Swatton of Burbank, California’s Sword and Stone and the crew over at Baltimore Knife and Sword take pride in forging authentic, legitimate versions of pop-culture’s finest weaponry. Together, they formed the web series, Man at Arms: Reforged, which you can find on YouTube.
Let’s set the bar extremely high right off the bat with a look at their work on a Warhammer 40K Chainsword:
Swatton is a self-taught blacksmith who got his start working on Steven Spielberg’s Hook and has been creating weapons and armor for film and television ever since. His work can also be seen on the official World of Warcraft channel in a series called Azeroth Armory.
The show expanded to Maryland and added Baltimore’s Knife and Sword crew at the start of the second season. Since then, the channel has achieved internet stardom by bringing the viewers along for the ride as they create some of the most interesting weapons from film, television, and gaming. Behind each weapon is a very long, methodical process. Each weapon takes as long as 200 hours to forge, which is distilled down into a single 10-minute video segment.
They’re also not afraid to take on historical recreations, such as a 400-year old Chinese Dandao:
Each project requires a unique approach but, in general, they employ plasma cutting to get the desired shape out of steel, mold the intricate details out of clay for a bronze cast, spend days perfecting every minute detail, and then finally assemble, sharpen, and test their new weapon.
They create content based off of YouTube comments, so if you can think of an awesome weapon that isn’t in their nearly 150-video-long catalog, leave a suggestion!
Celebrities are celebrities for a variety of reasons but mainly because they draw massive interest from the general population in one way or another. We watch them in the movies and enjoy their TV shows because they do some pretty incredible and entertaining things, and we wonder what it’d be like in their world.
But we also wonder if they could hack it in ours.
There are a few stars who also served, but we took it a step further and imagined what it would be like if different celebs joined the military, including what branch they belong in based on their personality (or our amusement).
Prior to filming Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1980, director Steven Spielberg and writer George Lucas really, really didn’t want to cast as Harrison Ford as Indy. Instead, they wanted that guy who your mom thought was hot in the ’70s, Mr. Magnum P.I. himself, Tom Selleck. Selleck famously screen-tested for the character of Indiana Jones, but because he was locked into a contract with Magnum P.I., he couldn’t take the role! Spielberg and Lucas brought in Harrison Ford just a few weeks before filming. (Lucas didn’t want to, because he’d already cast Ford in the Star Wars movies.) The rest is history, and Harrison Ford’s (other) famous franchise was born.
But what if Selleck had been cast? A new “deepfake” video created by YouTube user Sham00K is answering that question and making the rounds on the internet. It digitally plasters Selleck’s ’80s face — including the famous mustache — over Harrison Ford’s. It’s basically a way to see (but not hear, Ford’s voice is still audible) an alternate dimension in which Selleck played Indy.
If Tom Selleck had said yes to ‘Indiana Jones’ instead of Harrison Ford
You can also watch Selleck’s screen test for Raiders with actress Sean Young below. This has been around for a while and is relevant to this thought experiment because Tom Selleck’s voice is super-distinctive in a way that is totally different than Harrison Ford. (It’s also interesting because though Karen Allen, not Sean Young, ended up playing Marion, Young did star opposite Harrison Ford in Blade Runner a few years later in 1982. So many roads not taken in these ’80s movies!)
The new “deepfake” video also assumes that there would have been Indiana Jones movies after Raiders of the Lost Ark; it features digitally altered scenes of Tom Selleck in both Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade. But, let’s get serious. Tom Selleck is fine, but the reason there were sequels to Raiders of the Lost Ark is because of the singular charm and deadpan coolness of Harrison Ford. Meaning, the idea of digitally inserting Selleck into Temple of Doom and Last Crusade is anachronistic, twice.
We’re still a long way out from a new Indy movie, but most of the old ones are still on Netflix!
This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.