Within our military community, the tools of rehabilitation and reintegration of veterans of our nation’s wars changes each year.
One of the most popular ways to take a mental break for the post-9/11 generation comes from video games. They’ve become an interactive hobby that allows you to turn your brain off for a while, focus on the story, and receive positive stimuli as you progress through the levels.
Simple mobile games like Candy Crush reward the players with in-game text that display positive messages or the opposite end of the spectrum; Dark Souls, where the challenge is the reward. These are all benefits in a world where some veterans live in constant fight-or-flight mode.
Gaming also provides an outlet for those who suffered brain trauma. Rhythm games like Guitar Hero or puzzle games like Portal are an excellent tool used by Army Therapists to work on and measure progress.
But do shooter games that take place in the setting of modern conflict played by those who fought there help?
YouTuber “Clients Incoming” — an Army combat veteran whose channel is dedicated to digital marketing strategy — said it best. In his video “Treating PTSD with Video Games” he says, “The adrenaline rush of being in the fight, knowing that death hangs in the balance, is not something you can recreate outside of combat.”
“More importantly, what I get out of the gaming experience in games like [Battlefield 3] is the team aspect,” he adds. “And if you’re with a group of guys that know what they’re doing and know how to approach the situation tactically and they communicate really well. That’s an awesome ride.”
Online gaming provides a platform for our veterans to interact with each other again. I’ll admit I don’t call the guys from my old unit as much as I’d like, but I’m always able to catch them online for a round or two of Playerunknown’s Battleground.
Things always pick up just like it was the last day we were all drinking in the barracks together.
What are your thoughts? Do you use video games as a therapy or a way to reconnect with your buddies? Let us know in the comment section.
In America, we call it “eminent domain.” In China, they call it a Wednesday. Or whatever day the government comes and decides to take your house so they can build a freeway across what used to be your living room.
Yang Youde was a 56-year-old rice farmer who one day got the word that the government wanted to develop the land on which his farm stood. He wasn’t having it. He’d heard the stories about other regular people being forced off their land. Yang wasn’t about to become a victim.
Before the Chinese government and the hired agents of the land developers could force him out, he set out to create a system of defenses that would keep them in fear of coming onto his property. Using old stovepipes and fireworks, he built a real-life cannon that could fire rockets up to 100 yards.
“My goal isn’t to hurt anyone, I just want to solve my problem,” Yang told al-Jazeera. “If I get hounded out, I’m left with nothing. What’s my future except to steal, rob, or beg?
In February 2010, they came for him determined to violently force him away. He fired rockets at 30 crews until he ran out of ammo. After a physical altercation, the local police stepped in and forced the developers to come back some other time.
Yang made more ammo. And a giant watchtower. He also converted a push cart into a mobile rocket launcher.
From that high vantagepoint, he was able to hold off 100 demolition crew workers. This time, when the police came, they came for Yang.
Yang was offered the U.S. equivalent of ,000 for his Wuhan-adjacent farm. But he had a nice parcel of land with a fishpond on it. He knew he couldn’t fight the government forever, but he wanted at least a fair price. After all, his contract for the land didn’t run out for another 19 years.
And he said the Chinese government’s compensation policies entitled him to five times the offered amount. The old farmer had been growing watermelons and cotton on the land for some 40 years.
When all was said and done, Chinese state media reported that Yang was offered upward of 0,000 for his land, which he eventually agreed to. According to al-Jazeera, Yang was also held in jail for 51 days and tortured for his famous stand.
In last year’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, they finally sealed the thermal exhaust port sized plot hole of how to destroy the First Death Star without “many Bothans” dying.
Jyn Erso, a former criminal turned rebel soldier, leads her team in the Battle of Scarif where they capture the blueprints — and vulnerabilities — of the Death Star, which helps Luke Skywalker eventually destroy the moon-sized weapon. Before she goes on that mission she’s given another: hunt down and locate Saw Gerrera for Capt. Andor to kill.
Makes sense in the logic of the series. The group labelled “The Rebel Alliance” is a ragtag group comprised of many different rebel groups to restore the Galactic Republic. Gerrera was an extremist who gave the Rebellion a bad name and needed to be removed so they could claim morale superiority over defeat the Empire and the Dark Side.
However, in Saw Gerrera’s final moments, he isn’t given the “good riddance” treatment as with most villain deaths — he has a sweet farewell. Nothing about his character was deserving of that moment.
Comparing him to all of the heinous and messed up things done by the real world Osama bin Laden isn’t too far of a stretch.
The Rebels aren’t exactly without blood on their hands. Remember, they were willing to blow up a Death Star — and everyone on it — three times.
Gerrera isn’t just a one-off character in the Star Wars canon. He’s appeared in novels, cartoons, and comics as well. In the novel “Rebel Rising,” Saw proves that he’s willing to do just about anything to achieve his ends — including gunning down thousands of innocent lives to get to just a few Imperials.
The Mujahideen did the same thing happened to Osama after the Soviet-Afghan War.
It’s very subtly talked about and most people gloss over it, but the book mentions that he trained Jyn Erso from a young age. She mentions the reason she left was because she couldn’t handle the fighting at age 16.
This is not unlike how the Taliban uses child soldiers to fight and plant IEDs. The Taliban knows that Americans and our NATO allies would hesitate before pulling the trigger on a child. So they use kids.
Just this scene in Rogue One
To set the scene: a group of soldiers are patrolling through an occupied desert city. Some on foot, others in the vehicle. An insurgent grenade is tossed in the crowded street, taking out a few. The insurgents pull weapons out of their robes and start gunning down the soldiers.
It’s true the soldiers cause collateral damage, but the insurgents intentionally kill innocent to get to the soldiers. The insurgents are not afraid to blow themselves up to kill a soldier or two.
Which am I talking about? The real life fight in Afghanistan or Rogue One: A Star Wars Story?
No action-thriller films in recent memory have received as much acclaim from both critics and audiences as the John Wick series. Ever since the credits rolled on the second film, fans have been speculating and eagerly waiting to see what will happen to the action genre’s newest beloved badass.
On the surface, it’s a very simple plot to follow. Bad guys kill a man’s dog, so (spoiler alert) man brutally kills the bad guys — but it’s so much deeper than that. The first and second films brilliantly weave in minor references to the grander world of the former-assassin-turned-world’s-most-wanted-dog-avenger. It’s fair to assume that the third film will follow in the same vein.
Throughout the series, there is only one established rule that few characters dare to break: No criminal business, especially killing, is allowed in the Continental Hotel, which serves as a neutral hub for the underworld. Nearly every hardened killer in the series is willing to obey this rule, with the exception of Ms. Perkins (portrayed by Adrianne Palicki) in the first film. For breaking this rule, she’s killed, executioner-style, by a collection of underworld bosses.
John Wick: Chapter 2 ends with John killing the man who was blackmailing him back into assassin work at that very hotel. Instead of sharing the fate of Ms. Perkins, John has a million bounty placed on his head and is given a marker, a coin that can be turned in for a favor, and an hour-long head start. Every killer in the world checks their phones and is informed of the bounty — roll credits.
It can be assumed that the next film will take place moments after the order is given.
It just feels right knowing that the same creative team gets to tell their complete, unedited story.
Details surrounding the next installment in the series remain very closely kept secrets, which doesn’t point to things faring well for our legendary assassin, but we’ve dug up a few clues.
First, we look toward the film’s IMDb page. According to the credits, several of the still-living characters are set to reappear. John Wick is still played by Keanu Reeves. Ruby Rose, Common, Laurence Fishburne, and Ian McShane are all set to reprise their respective roles. Newcomers to the series include Halle Berry and Jason Mantzoukas, both playing assassins.
Director of the first two films, Chad Stahelski, and Derek Kolstad, writer, are also taking up their former roles. Fans of the series can rejoice because this means that the tone and feeling of the third chapter will be consistent with the first two.
According to a leaked set photo, he’s somehow going to steal a Central Park horse… and for some strange reason I’m excited about that.
Principal photography is currently underway and set photos are surfacing that showcase scenes in New York City. Since the previous film ends there, it’s safe to assume that these sets will be the backdrop of Wick’s escape from New York. In an interview with Fandom for the second film, Reeves admitted that he’d love for the series to go to Jerusalem to continue with the historic feeling of the missions.
The title of the upcoming film, John Wick 3: Parabellum, is a clever nod to the Latin phrase, “si vis pacem, para bellum,” which means, “if you want peace, prepare for war” (Not to go on at length, but this is also further proof of his Marine-ness). It’s also a reference to the 9mm Luger handgun cartridge — the 9mm Parabellum round. In terms of John Wick, this means he’ll have to do a lot of shooting if he wants to find that peace.
Another interesting tidbit of information, courtesy of IMDb, is the tagline for the film: “No shout, no scream, no shoot, no fear, no fire, no sign. Just one pencil.” Fans of the series learned early on that the legends of John Wick killing two men with just a pencil weren’t exaggerated. Maybe he’ll up his tally with even more men with the very same pencil. We’ll see.
The film is scheduled for release on May 19th, 2019 — two weeks after the climactic fourth Avengers film. Here’s to hoping both films crush it at the box office.
Nothing makes a war movie pop like its soundtrack. Films that are scored by famous composers stay with us forever. Hans Zimmer did “Black Hawk Down,” “Saving Private Ryan,” was scored by John Williams, and of course, the most famous war film score ever, Maurice Jarre’s work for the WWI epic “Lawrence of Arabia.”
But not every war movie needs to be scored. There are a few movies where a well-placed pop song is an epic use of screen time. When a director uses a “needle drop,” it can push the scene into something unforgettable.
1. “What A Wonderful World” from “Good Morning Vietnam”
In a movie full of great music and memorable scenes, how do you even choose the most poignant? Barry Levinson’s 1987 film juxtaposes Louis Armstrong’s classic song with imagery of the men fighting the war, the civilians caught in the middle, and the corruption of the South Vietnamese regime.
2. “Danger Zone” from “Top Gun”
No opening sequence starts a movie better than the song that keeps Kenny Loggins in the money to this day. The Navy even used this movie as recruiting tool, with a full 90 percent of applicants reporting that they’d seen “Top Gun” the year it came out.
3. “The End” from “Apocalypse Now”
Did I say “Top Gun” has the best opening scene song? It has to compete with the first shots of “Apocalypse Now,” featuring the Doors’ “The End”.
4. “Tracks of My Tears” from “Platoon”
Charlie Sheen gives us a stark vision of his future, jamming with his friends to Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ 1965 hit, smoking all manner of things while knocking back a few beers. This scene is just as iconic as the Sgt. Elias death scene or the end of the movie, where Sheen’s character looks back on his tour.
The Trashmen’s 1963 song “Surfin’ Bird” dominates as the Americans push the NVA back from Hué City.
6. “Do Wah Diddy” from “Stripes”
I think the YouTube commenter Brian Buchanan said it best about this scene from the Bill Murray and Harold Ramis comedy “Stripes” — “Funny scene, but these two morons would be doing push up ’til they died.”
7. “Dream Lover” from “Hot Shots”
Yeah, “Hot Shots” isn’t a real war movie in the sense that anything really happened but you can say that about “The Hurt Locker” too. Even so, I’ll never forget when Topper Harley sees Ramada Rodham Hayman for the first time.
“I was really impressed with the way you handled that stallion. You know, when I saw you dig your heels into his sides, tighten up the reigns, and break his spirit, I never wanted to be a horse so much in my life.”
8. “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin” from “Top Gun”
If this movie and Kenny Loggins prompted a bunch of people to join the Navy, I wonder how many late-80s women had to put up with guys singing to them in bars until the fall of Communism.
9. “Sgt. Mackenzie” from “We Were Soldiers”
While not technically a pop song, this song was written about the singer’s grandfather’s service in WWI and is undeniably awesome. Awesome. Awesome.
Being deployed during the holidays can put a damper on the season’s celebrations. Great holiday movies tend to relieve and mentality transport your loved ones back home, even if only just for a few hours.
So the next time you visit a department store that sells DVDs, make sure you toss these films into your cart and send them to your favorite troop serving overseas.
Directed by Terry Zwigoff, the film focuses on an alcoholic con man (Billy Bob Thornton) who dresses up as Santa to rob the department stores who hire him during the holiday season.
The film isn’t considered your typically holiday movie, but the comedy perfectly fits our dark military humor.
6. Elf (2003)
Directed by Jon Favreau, the comedy features a rambunctious and tall elf named Buddy (Will Ferrell) who grew up in the north pole and sets out on a mission to the Big Apple to reconnect with his long-lost father.
5. A Christmas Story (1983)
This is the epic movie that plays for 24-hours straight on TBS every season (just in case you didn’t know). Directed by Bob Clark, this classic follows a young boy named Ralphie whose sole mission is to get a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas – even if he shoots his eye out.
4. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
The Jeremiah Chechik-directed comedy follows ambitious family man Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) and his crazy family as they gather together under one roof to celebrate Christmas. Spoiler alert: a lot of things break and catch on fire — that’s why we like it.
3. Jingle all the Way (1996)
After a father vows to get his only son the incredibly hard-to-find action figure Turbo-Man, he embarks on the ultimate foot race across town to find the famous toy while competing with a hilarious mailman.
2. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Directed by Hollywood icon Tim Burton, this animated feature film follows Jack Skellington — aka the Pumpkin King from Halloweenland — as he stumbles Christmastown and gains a new perspective on life.
In December of 2017, The New York Times published a stunning front-page exposé about the Pentagon’s mysterious UFO program, the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP). Featuring an interview with a former military intelligence official and Special Agent In-Charge, Luis Elizondo, who confirmed the existence of the hidden government program, the controversial story was the focus of worldwide attention.
Previously run by Elizondo, AATIP was created to research and investigate Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) including numerous videos of reported encounters, three of which were released to a shocked public in 2017. Elizondo resigned after expressing to the government that these UAPs could pose a major threat to our national security, and not enough was being done to deal with them or address our potential vulnerabilities.
Now, as a part of HISTORY’s groundbreaking new six-part, one-hour limited series “Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation,” Elizondo is speaking out for the first time with Tom DeLonge, co-founder and President of To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science, and Chris Mellon, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and Intelligence, to expose a series of startling encounters and embark on fascinating new investigations that will urge the public to ask questions and look for answers. From A+E Originals, DeLonge serves as executive producer.
In collaboration with We Are The Mighty and HISTORY, I had the opportunity to sit down with this warrior for an interview.
Series premieres Friday, May 31, at 10/9c on HISTORY.
Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation | Premieres Friday May 31st 10/9c | HISTORY
Luis Elizondo – Director of Global Security & Special Programs
Luis Elizondo is a career intelligence officer whose experience includes working with the U.S. Army, the Department of Defense, the National Counterintelligence Executive, and the Director of National Intelligence. As a former Special Agent In-Charge, Elizondo conducted and supervised highly sensitive espionage and terrorism investigations around the world. As an intelligence Case Officer, he ran clandestine source operations throughout Latin America and the Middle East.
Most recently, Elizondo managed the security for certain sensitive portfolios for the U.S. Government as the Director for the National Programs Special Management Staff. For nearly the last decade, Elizondo also ran a sensitive aerospace threat identification program focusing on unidentified aerial technologies. Elizondo’s academic background includes Microbiology, Immunology, and Parasitology, with research experience in tropical diseases.
Elizondo is also an inventor who holds several patents.
What was it like operating under high levels of secrecy regarding AATIP?
I think in my position as a career intelligence officer in the department of defense, I am used to working discreetly on programs of a national security nature. I think the very role of intelligence tends to be secretive, obviously for the purposes of Operational Security (OPSEC), you don’t want to inadvertently compromise your activities or efforts and have those fall into the hands of a foreign adversary. You know, it was just another day at the office.
UFO spotted by US fighter jet pilots, new footage reveals – BBC News
Well, what I think AATIP was successful in identifying signatures and performance characteristics that go beyond the typical profile of adversarial type technologies. I know from that perspective AATIP was very helpful because you’re looking at performance characteristics including; extreme acceleration, hypersonic velocities, low observability, multi-median or trans-median travel and, frankly, positive hits without any type of propulsion or flight surfaces or wings.
Put that into context of what you’re observing electro-optically on radar and what’s being reported by the military eyewitnesses. I think you have to pause for a minute and scratch your head thinking ‘you’re not looking at a conventional technology.’
What kind of repercussions are there with providing the public with this type of information?
Well, I can’t answer on behalf of the government. Obviously, there are some individuals that remained in the department that may not appreciate what I did or how I did it. At the end of the day, if the information is unclassified and is of potential national security concern, I think the public has a right to know. Keep in mind that at no point in time were [any] sources or methods compromised, vocational data or any other type of data, [that] we try to keep out of the hands of foreign adversaries.
Keep in mind, had the system worked [from] the beginning I wouldn’t have had to resign. I resigned out of a sense of loyalty and duty to the department of defense. I tried to work within the system to inform my boss, General Mattis at the time. This is the man who was the secretary of defense, and my experience with him in combat was he was a man who wants more information, not less. We didn’t have the ability to report certain information or aspects of AATIP up the chain of command to the boss — that was a problem.
Sometimes if you want to fix something, you have to go outside of the system to fix it. That’s my perspective anyway.
Let’s not forget that secretary Mattis did almost the exact same thing almost a year later, he had to resign for reasons that he thought were important to him.
UFO spotted by US fighter jet pilots, new footage reveals – BBC News
Project Blue Book insisted that UFOs were not a threat to national security, however, decades later your findings tell otherwise. What is responsible for this shift?
Do I think they’re a threat? They could be if they wanted to be.
Let me give you a very succinct analogy: Let’s say at night you go to lock your front door, you don’t expect any problems, but you lock it anyways just to be extra safe. You lock your windows, and you turn on your alarm system, and you go to bed. You do this every morning, and let’s say one morning after you wake up, you’re walking downstairs, and you find muddy footprints in your living room.
Nothing has been taken, no one is hurt, but despite you locking the front doors, the windows, and turning on the alarm system — there are muddy footprints in your living room. The question is: is that a threat?
Well, I don’t know, but it could be if it wanted to be.
For that reason, it’s imperative from a national security perspective that we better understand what it is we’re seeing.
My job at AATIP was very simple: [identify] what it is and how it works, not to determine who is behind the wheel or where they’re from or what their intentions are. What I’m saying is that other people who are smarter than me should figure out those answers.
To me, a threat is a threat, until I know something isn’t a threat, in the Department of Defense, we have to assume it is a threat. The primary function of the Department of Defense is to fight and win wars, we’re not police officers, we don’t go to places to protect and serve. I hate to say it but our job is to kill as many bad guys as possible, so from that perspective, if this was not potentially a threat it would be something someone else should look at — There are different agencies out there such as Health and Human Services, DHS, FAA, and State Department.
This is something that is flying in our skies with impunity. It has the ability to fly over our combat air space and control overall combat theaters, potentially over all of our cities and there is not much we can do about it.
I have to assume it’s a threat.
Keeping in mind that if a Russian or Chinese aircraft entered out airspace the first thing we’d do is scramble F-22s and go intercept it and it would be front page on CNN. [These things, however,] because they don’t have tail numbers, insignia on their wings or tails — they don’t even have wings or tails [at all], it’s crickets. This is occurring, and no one wants to have a conversation about it. That, to me is a greater threat than the threat itself because we can’t allow ourselves [to talk about it] despite the mounting evidence that is there.
Is there anything the public can do to put pressure on our leaders to have a more appropriate response?
First of all, in defense of the Department of Defense, people like to blame DoD “oh, these guys said it was weather balloons or swamp gas” but the reason why there is a stigma is because we made it an issue and made it taboo as American citizens and therefore the Department of Defense is simply responding to the stigma we placed on it. The DoD, for many years, wanted to look at this but the social stigma and taboo, put a lot of pressure on the DoD not to report these things. It’s a shame because of a laundry list of secondary, tertiary issues that ensue if you ignore a potential problem.
I think DoD, in defense of our national security apparatus, nobody wanted to own this portfolio because it was fraught with so much stigma. million of taxpayer dollars were used to support this and it’s problematic because how do you, as a DoD official, go to your boss and say “there’s something in our skies, we don’t know what it is, we don’t know how it works, and by the way, there is not a damned thing we can do about it.” That’s not a conversation that’s easy to have.
Now imagine having that conversation with a man named “Mad Dog Mattis.”
You want to have answers.
In this particular case, we didn’t have enough data. We need more data.
The only way you’re going to get more data is by letting the Department of Defense and Congress know that the American people support this endeavor. The reason they’re not going to respond to it is if they’re [only] getting calls from their constituents saying “what are you doing wasting my taxpayer money?”
I think that once the American people decide this is an issue that should be a priority, then I think the national security apparatus would respond accordingly.
Do you have any advice for service members that may witness strange events? How would you advise them to come forward?
I would advise them [by] letting them know that there are efforts underway in looking at this and they should report this. The Navy and the Air Force are changing their policies to be able to report this information to a cognoscente authority without the fear of repercussions.
What could the readers of We Are The Mighty expect from your work in the future?
That’s it, the truth.
By the way, there are areas which are classified, and I can’t talk about, but I only say that to you off caveat. I don’t like to speculate, I prefer to just keep it to the facts. As a former special agent, for me, it’s always just about the facts. Let’s collect as much data as we can and let the American people decide what this information means to them.
Series premieres Friday, May 31, at 10/9c on HISTORY.
Robert Downey Jr. just threw down the (infinity) gauntlet in front of his Avengers co-stars. Downey tweeted a picture of himself in between photos of Mark Ruffalo and Chris Evans. All three have mustaches, and Downey has a simple question: Who wore it best?
Ruffalo has a not quite pencil-thin, John Watters-esque lip sweater, Evans looks like he just pulled you over for doing 60 in a 55, and Downey looks just like Marc Maron, as one user pointed out. (Maron agreed.)
That’s to say that there were some strong opinions, but thankfully our world isn’t so dumb (yet) that people actually took this seriously. The Great Marvel Mustache debate was classic fun Twitter, so there were also plenty of animated gifs, memes, and general internet weirdness in the replies.
Even Ruffalo himself got in on the action. He whipped up a collage of himself rocking various ‘stache styles over the years. Or maybe he already had it ready to go, we honestly can’t say for sure.
Chris Evans has, sadly not yet weighed in, but we’re hoping to hear from him soon. Until then, he definitely has his defenders.
There are, at last count, a bajillion characters in the Marvel movies, and plenty of folks felt emphatically that Downey’s trio did not include the true Marvel mustache champion.
For our money, there is a correct answer, and we weren’t alone in making this selection. Several users replied with photos of the right guy, so without further ado, the greatest mustache in the Marvel Cinematic Universe obviously belongs to…
Now that we’ve settled that, it’s back to waiting to Endgame to finally hit theaters on April 26, 2019
This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.
Making Alita, the humanoid main character in “Alita: Battle Angel,” work next to live-action characters onscreen was the biggest challenge for the visual effects team to bring to life in the film.
You may not have realized it, but a lot of work went into making the character’s big, bright brown eyes look just right, especially after the film’s first trailer.
“We had our original design, all based on the original artwork and [producer] Jim [Cameron]’s artwork and [director] Robert [Rodriguez]’s artwork, and even after the first trailer that came out, we got some criticism online about, ‘Hey, the eyes are too big. They don’t look right. Uncanny valley,'” visual effects supervisor Eric Saindon told Insider during a visual effects press day for the film at the Walt Disney Studios lot.
Here’s how Alita looks in the first trailer released for the film.
(20th Century Fox)
Based on the Japanese manga series “Gunnm,” the film follows a female cyborg, Alita, who has trouble remembering her past.
Saindon said the visual effects team spoke with Cameron and Rodriguez after the trailer came out in December 2017 to see what they thought of the criticism and whether or not they should change Alita’s look at all as a result.
“‘Do we want to shrink the eyes?'” Saindon said. “They came back and both said, ‘Absolutely not, we’re going to go bigger on the eyes.'”
“We didn’t actually go bigger on the eyes, but we did enlarge the iris,” Saindon continued. “We reduced the amount of sclera, the white around the eyes, and it sort of just popped everything back together. It popped her to be that manga character, but to be able to sit next to a live-action character. You never questioned it.”
You can see how Alita changed from that first trailer to the final film here. It’s a subtle change you may not have noticed:
Alita’s face is also softened a bit more in the final film. The lighting in this scene is a bit brighter on her face now.
(20th Century Fox)
Why Alita’s eyes were the most important to get just right
For the team, it was important to get the eyes right because not only is that the first thing you see when you meet Alita, but they believed that was going to be one of the main things that helped sell the believability of the character to audiences.
“Eyes are really critical in an actor’s performance,” said animation supervisor, Mike Cozens. “That’s why, you know, as shots get more intimate, we cut in closer and closer… Eyes are sort of what are telling you what’s going on inside the head, keeping that performance alive in the eyes, beyond the design and into performance was really critical, a critical part of the storytelling.”
Here’s how Alita looks when she opens her eyes for the first time in the films first trailer versus the final film.
(20th Century Fox)
“Truly, the eye size shouldn’t matter,” added visual effects supervisor for Lightstorm Entertainment, Richard Baneham. “Ultimately, when we look at a screen, I think it’s point-four of a second for us to read whether there are eyes onscreen or not. We immediately, as humans, go to that, because we want to understand how somebody is emotionally, what their state is. It’s what we do when we meet people, it’s how we read the room.”
Baneham said that regardless of the eye size, you can usually tell a person’s emotional state almost instantly through posture and their facial expression. That’s why it was important to get Alita’s eyes just right.
“So long as you communicate properly the emotional state of the character, the eye size, not that it’s irrelevant, it shouldn’t be the thing that’s in the way,” added Baneham. “We often say on our side, you don’t smile with your face, you don’t smile with your mouth, you smile with your eyes… As soon as you, you can cut to a pair of eyes and tell whether somebody’s smiling.”
If you covered up everything but Alita’s eyes in this image, you would be able to tell she’s smiling.
(20th Century Fox)
This isn’t the first time a trailer’s criticism has resulted in changes to a film.
After the release of the first trailer for the Sonic the Hedgehog film in April 2019, the video game character’s design sparked criticism and jokes online.
The image on the left shows Sonic’s original design. The image on the right shows how Sonic looks after the redesign.
How does the “Alita” visual effects team feel about receiving audience criticism right away after a trailer’s release?
“I didn’t mind hearing input from the outside world. It really solidified us, though,” said Saindon of reactions to the first trailer. “It kind of got everybody together and the real choices that were made beforehand kind of held. There was hardly any change, if you will, because I remember having, we had various different sizes and stuff out there and we were pretty big on the trailer, and it just kind of stayed there. It just made everybody reconsider what they were doing.”
“Whether she had big eyes or not, towards the end, I think all of us realized it was worthwhile worrying about it, and certainly it’s all about this expression that’s getting through or not getting through and worrying about that.”
Most of Alita’s design comes directly from the performance of actress Rosa Salazar who embodies the character.
(20th Century Fox)
Baneham added that it’s about making sure the audience invests in the character and comes along for the journey.
“That’s what you care about first and foremost, is making sure when the audience watch the movie, they’re not thinking about the technical aspects of the movie in any way, sort or form. They go on this, hopefully, immersive journey with the character,” said Baneham of what he wants viewers to get out of watching “Alita.”
“All the changes that happened afterward were not about, you know, pandering to the noise in any way. It was about bettering the character,” Baneham added.
“Alita: Battle Angel” is one of 10 finalists in the visual effects category at the 92nd Academy Awards. The Oscar nominations will be announced Monday morning.
This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisinsider on Twitter.
If the E-4 mafia, those pesky 2LTs, and the old Command Sergeant Major were wrestlers, what would their gimmick be? It’s difficult for longtime wrestling fans to avoid comparing their fellow servicemembers and veterans to wrestling personalities.
Each rank, be it officer or enlisted, comes with a group of qualities that perfectly fit in the world of pro wrestling/sports entertainment. WWE is such an advocate for the military (and vice versa), and with Wrestlemania kicking off in Dallas this weekend, it seems fitting to use WWE superstars to describe your pay grade.
Young Enlisted (E-1 to E-3)
The Ultimate Warrior
Active and rambunctious, the Ultimate Warrior was known for his signature face paint, ring entrance, and infectious energy as he performed in front of thousands of fans around the world. Coming out of initial training, many young service members are full of energy, fit to fight, and looking to take on the world. Young privates feel they can accomplish anything thrown their way. Although, much like the Ultimate Warrior’s interviews and promos, they can also speak a lot of nonsense.
Specialists/Senior Airmen (E-4)
Jake “the Snake” Roberts
With the wisdom of a sergeant but the responsibilities of a private, members of the E-4 mafia are cerebral and hypnotic as they slither their way out of details and play mind games with authority figures. Like a good E-4, Roberts had the smarts to avoid the dirty work, but the skills to achieve greatness when he wanted to.
Junior NCOs (E-5 to E-6)
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin
The Texas Rattlesnake was confident, brash and would stomp a mud hole on anyone who crossed him. Those new stripes make young NCOs feel like the baddest SOB in the command. They have a sense of confidence and even stand up to authority just like Stone Cold would do to WWF owner Vince McMahon by giving him the Stone Cold Stunner. Junior NCOs are also masters at double fisting beer cans. Give them a hell yeah!
Senior NCOs (E-7 to E-8)
The first thing senior NCOs have in common with Mick Foley is the split personalities: Nice one minute, intense the next. Whether he was Cactus Jack, Dude Love, or Mankind, Mrs. Foley’s baby boy is one of wrestling’s most iconic figures. He put his body on the line every night for 20 years and just like Senior NCOs, his body has taken a pounding over the years.
They may have throbbing knees, sore backs, and carry a few extra pounds with age, but they are still tough to take the pain and keep fighting. Watch 1998’s King of the Ring “Hell in a Cell” match to see the legend of Mick Foley.
CSM/Senior Master Chief (E-9)
“Nature Boy” Ric Flair
“To be the man, you have to beat the man” WOOO! The CSM is styling and profiling as the guardian of the colors. Our E-9s have put in many years of hard work and service. It’s ok to flaunt a little bit now like the Nature Boy. And believe me those $600 alligator-skinned shoes are staying off the grass.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Before he was one of Hollywood’s A-listers, The Rock was a rank-and file wrestler working his way to the top of the card as “Rocky Maivia” when he debuted in 1996. Before they were Warrants Officers, they were enlisted Soldiers and NCOs paying their dues.Today, The Rock only returns to the ring when it is time for ‘Mania. He is rarely seen and only shows up before a big event. Sounds like our lovable warrants.
Lieutenants/Captains (O-1 to O-3)
Roman Reigns thinks he is ready for increased responsibilities. Roman has the look, the tools and the family lineage to make him a great wrestler. However, he lacks the experience and hasn’t paid his dues. Our L-Ts are groomed for greatness, and they may great one day, but are not ready to be the main event. L-Ts still have much to learn.
Field Grade Officers (O4 to O5)
John Cena lives by the slogan “Hustle, Loyalty, and Respect.” This is the motto of field grade officers. After 15 years, they are at the top of their game. Just as Cena is either loved or hated by wrestling fans, with field grade officers,Some people love them and some people hate them.
Except for maybe Hulk Hogan, the Undertaker may well be the most legendary wrestler of all-time. His presence is menacing as he looms in the shadows only to appear when we least expect it. The mere sight of that full bird brings a level of intimidation among the formation. With that eagle comes great power.
The Undertaker also had his unsettling manager Paul Bearer, who carried an urn to the ring, at his side at all times. The Colonel makes sure his Executive Officer or Aide is present at all times carrying the powerful OD green notebook.
Generals (O-7 to O-10)
Vince is the chairman and CEO of the WWE. He is the boss, the general. Bad idea to cross him. That’ll get you fired.
Ever wonder what it would be like if Gunny Hartman trained elves using the same foul mouth he developed in the Marine Corps?
Well, wonder no longer because the internet has mashed “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” with the audio from the famous barracks scene in “Full Metal Jacket.” The result is hilarious, so check it out below. Be warned: Very profane language (after all, it’s f-cking Gunny Hartman).
Veteran actor of stage, screen and TV and former US Navy sailor James Tolkan has spent a career playing the hard man. He is known to audiences around the world for his performances in Back to the Future, Top Gun and Problem Child 2, and many more films and TV shows for playing his no-nonsense style of characters, who seem to come from an organic place in his soul. The characters are tough but fair, and have a sense of dignity in them. Tolkan spent a lot of his time on stage in NYC before moving to Hollywood. Most recently, Tolkan worked on the Discovery Channel show Expedition Back to the Future. WATM sat down with Tolkan to learn more about his life, his time in service and what made him become an actor.
Tolkan’s youth was “very difficult” with his father having spent a lot of time in jail. Tolkan lived in Michigan before his family moved to Chicago. After his parents split when he was 14-years-old, Tolkan lived alone in a basement. “I got up at 5 in the morning to clean a restaurant,” he shared. “I was very unhappy. I was running with a gang and quit school at 15. I lied about my age and got a job with the Chicago Northwestern Railroad with a pick and shovel, which I hated.” His family moved to Tucson the next year and his whole life changed for the better.
Tolkan as “Mr. Strickland” with Michael J. Fox and Claudia Wells in Back to the Future. Photo courtesy of necomicons.com.
Tolkan was on a football scholarship at Eastern Arizona College and he got to play a lot of football. He put his name on a list to join the Navy – it was during the Korean War – and Tolkan was competing as an undefeated boxer in the Golden Gloves when he got the call. Tolkan completed boot camp in San Diego. He recalled, “When I went into the Navy, I was in better shape going into boot camp than at the end.” He volunteered for boxing while in the Navy and after his fellow sailors saw him in the ring, he never stood a “midwatch” (midnight to 4am shift) again. Tolkan explained with a laugh, “I was treated royally.”
Tolkan signed up for four years in the Navy and he ran a chow line in San Diego for troops in training and then was set to sail with the USS Sandoval APA-194. He was sent to Oakland to prepare for ship duty. Tolkan came down with a severe and unknown illness and was sent to the Oakland Naval Hospital. The Navy found an issue with his heart and within a year he was discharged from the service for medical reasons. He shared, “I could have seen the Navy as a career until I got sick….anyway it all worked out.”
Tolkan (center) with Anthony Edwards (left) and Tom Cruise (right) in Top Gun. Photo courtesy of necomiccons.com.
Tolkan holds onto his experiences in the Navy and he felt like a “very special individual” just having gone to boot camp. He is proud of his service overall.
Tolkan as “Stinger” in Top Gun. Photo courtesy of Amazon.com.
After his time in the Navy, Tolkan said he floundered around. He did reconnect with his father, having not seen him in seven years. Tolkan spent time in Iowa driving a cattle truck and moving cows all over the country. He shared, “I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was very lost.” He went back to school on the GI Bill at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, IA. At Coe, he majored in art and minored in music which is when he got interested in acting. He spent two years at Coe and then transferred to the University of Iowa for their large theater department. Tolkan was the big man in the theater department there.
After six years in college, Tolkan got on a Greyhound bus with $75 in his pocket to go to NYC to be an actor. He said, “I was scared to death and didn’t know what I was getting into, but I did it. It was really terrific. You have to learn to just really go for it.”
Tolkan in Sidney Lumet’s Prince of the City. Photo courtesy of TJ Breaton.
Tolkan shared, “I am most happy working in the theater. That is where I am most comfortable. The last play I did on Broadway was David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross.” The first play he did on Broadway was a play titled Wait Until Dark. Tolkan played a psychotic killer in the play across from actress Lee Remick and the play ran for two years.
Tolkan with Val Avery in The Amityville Horror. Photo courtesy of IMDB.com.
“As a New York actor I said, ‘I am never going to Hollywood til they send for me.’ And when Robert Zemeckis called me to do Back to the Future I said, ‘Ok, this is my chance to go out there and see what’s going on.’ So, I went out and did Back to the Future and Top Gun and I stayed out there for 10 years.”
He didn’t like working in the movies “by and large.” He shared about his highlights in film, “…with Back to the Future, it was a very small movie — nobody knew it was going to be an enormous thing, but with Top Gun we all knew it was going to be big all the way through. So, I was very confident in Top Gun where Back to the Future was a huge surprise.” He shared about movies, “My favorites are with Sidney Lumet. The great director Sidney Lumet. I did three movies with him, Serpico, Prince of the City and Family Business.” Tolkan recalled his work with Lumet and reflected on the leadership shown by the award-winning director. “I think of Sidney Lumet, he was so disciplined, so brilliant…you would want to emulate him…to work with him was a privilege, he made it a pleasure.”
He describes his experience with director Tony Scott on Top Gun as loose when compared to working with Lumet. Scott would have them do improv scenes, not on the board for the day. He enjoyed working with Scott, it was just different than what Tolkan had experience with. He said, “Tom Cruise was most impressive. I knew he was going to be great right from the beginning.” Tolkan talks of his time on Back to the Future — “Michael J. Fox is the easiest actor I have ever worked with. He is so talented and loose. That movie is still going strong (and that) was 35 years ago.” He enjoyed his experience on WarGames and he joked, “…that was very early in my career…I wasn’t even paid very much, but things changed a little later.”
Tolkan’s filmography is impressive and his prowess has made him a household name. But when asked what he’s most proud of, his answer is fairly simple: “The fact that I made it through. That I am here living the good life and I survived. That is what I am most proud of. It is not easy…I give thanks every day.”
Tolkan in Woody Allen’s Love and Death as Napoleon Bonaparte. Photo courtesy of IMDB.com.
Tolkan with Dolph Lundgren (right) and Chelsea Field (left) in Masters of the Universe. Photo courtesy of IMDB.com.
Tolkan with Diane Keaton in Love and Death. Photo courtesy of IMDB.com.
Tolkan with Crispin Glover in Back to the Future. Photo courtesy of IMD