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MIGHTY MOVIES

Watch: The Pentagon is ready for zombies

The DoD has a detailed strategy set for a possible zombie apocalypse, complete with a contingency for zombified chickens.


 

Bad-ass George Washington picture credit goes to http://sharpwriter.deviantart.com/
MIGHTY MOVIES

The Dark Troopers in the Mandalorian were darker than you think

The second season of The Mandalorian brought much content out of the Star Wars franchise Legends and into the new Canon. From Boba Fett’s return to the Krait Dragon, season 2 was a Star Wars fan’s dream come true. Included in the revival of Star Wars past were the Empire’s deadly dark troopers. More than just a commentary on the color of their armor, dark troopers were among the most feared of the Empire’s tools of war. While a garrison of them seemed more than a match for Mando and his allies (but not a Skywalker in a hallway), there’s an aspect of dark troopers that was touched on that made them darker than you may think.

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Clone Troopers were bred for combat (Lucasfilm)

The Clone Wars that led to the rise of the Empire saw the Grand Army of the Republic’s clone troopers pitted against the Confederacy of Independent Systems’ droid army. Whereas the droids could be more easily mass-produced and overwhelm their enemy with superior numbers, the clones were more creative and genetically-based on the legendary bounty hunter Jango Fett. However, the clones had to be modified with an age accelerator that doubled their growth rate in order to meet the manning needs of the GAR. As a result, clones reached the end of their combat life more quickly than a regular person. Anyone in the military will tell you that time in the service already adds additional years of wear and tear on the body. For the clones, three years of constant and intense combat on top of their age acceleration took a heavy toll.

When the Empire rose from the ashes of the Republic, the fate of the ageing clone troopers came into question. The vulnerability of a genetically-pure army was made apparent during the Clone Wars and the Empire needed to cut spending across the military to fund the Death Star. Rather than continue to clone and raise their army from birth, the Empire returned to more traditional recruitment and training to fill the ranks. However, these new recruits could hardly match the lethality and professionalism of the clones that came before them. “Since the Empire has redirected the clone trooper program to other pursuits and stepped up recruiting inferior humans from the Outer Rim, the operational effectiveness of this army has declined significantly,” noted Clone Commander Cody. Cody was a Clone War veteran and one of the best-trained clones that the Republic had produced. His years of experience made him, and other clones like him, a valuable asset to train the new recruits. However, there was one other program that could make use of the clones’ combat experiences.

While the bodies of the clone veterans were deteriorating past their combat usefulness, their minds were full of tactical, operational, and strategic knowledge that could still be useful to the Empire. This idea led to the creation of the Dark Trooper Program. Using much of the same cyborg technology used to transform Darth Vader into a cyborg after his duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi on Mustafar, the Empire began transforming clone troopers into cyborg dark troopers. The process involved integrating the trooper’s brain and nervous system with a mechanical exoskeleton that could perform even better than a clone in his prime. With over 70% of their bodies replaced with enhanced cybernetics, the clones were able to return to combat deadlier deadlier than ever. Equipped with more heavy weaponry than a regular human could carry, the dark troopers were also fitted with jump packs that allowed them to transit the battlefield quickly. Like Vader, the clones were more machine than man; their bodies discarded and their minds now sealed in durasteel.

In the finale of The Mandalorian Season 2, the evolution of the dark troopers is revealed. When Mando asks how many troopers are armed in the dark trooper suits aboard Moff Gidedon’s cruiser, he gets an answer that he doesn’t like. “These are third-generation design. They are no longer suits,” Doctor Pershing explained. “The human inside was the final weakness to be solved. They’re droids.” Though the fate of the cyborg dark troopers is not revealed, it’s unlikely that the Empire gave them a severance package and a gold watch so that they could retire peacefully on Naboo. Despite their loyal service to the Republic as clone troopers and their sacrifice to continue serving the Empire as cyborg dark troopers, it’s likely that they were attritted out of service or simply discarded like other obsolete military equipment. Whatever the case, the gruesome fate of the clones who were turned into dark troopers is yet another tragic story from the galaxy far, far away.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Interview with HISTORY’s Travis Taylor: The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch

For the first time ever, HISTORY is gaining full, unprecedented access to one of the most infamous and secretive hotspots of paranormal and UFO-related activities on earth, Skinwalker Ranch, in a new one-hour nonfiction series, “The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch” premiering Tuesday, March 31 at 10PM ET/PT. Few have ever gained official access to Skinwalker Ranch, and none have ever been able to bring cameras onto the property for a television series, until now.

I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Travis Taylor, the lead astrophysicist of “The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch” about his journey and his experience investigating the unexplained phenomena in Utah’s Uinta Basin. Scientific research, tribal legends, and the unexplained converge at Skinwalker Ranch that you must see to believe.


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Photo by History Copyright 2020

WATM: Why and how were you chosen for this project?

Dr. Travis Taylor: Well, first of all for the why and the how I don’t know what you know about me or how much you’ve read of my bio and that sort of thing. I have a PhD and a dual disciplinary degree in electrical engineering and physics called optical science of engineering – it’s basically quantum physics. I have another PhD in aerospace engineering, building and designing spacecraft and rockets. I have a Master’s degree in astronomy. I have a Master’s degree in physics. I have a Master’s degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering. I have a Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. Since I was 17, I’m 51 now, I’ve published about two dozen referee journal articles and well-respected peer review physics, and optics and military defense type journals.

As far as I know, I’m the only person besides my co-author of the book who has taken the idea seriously and written a textbook and a detailed examination on how we would defend the planet if we were actually invaded by aliens. Different types of invasions and what our military approach should and could be. In fact, I’m the only one who teaches from that text on the topic to the Air Force officer’s space school at Maxwell Air Force base. Now, I do that pretty much yearly and have for a while.

My background has been building spacecraft, rockets and high-energy laser weapons and things like that for DOD for a long time. I also am a science fiction writer and have written twenty-something best-selling science fiction novels, mostly military hard science fiction. With that background in mind, I was invited to start doing TV shows in the early 2000s which led to the next TV show and the next TV show and so on. When HISTORY and Prometheus were approached by the new billionaire owner of the Ranch to do an investigation, they said, “Well you need someone who is an experimentalist and who also is experienced with talking on TV and we recommend this guy.”

And that’s how that happened.

The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch: DANGEROUS RADIATION at UFO Hotspot (Season 1) | History

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The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch: DANGEROUS RADIATION at UFO Hotspot (Season 1) | History

WATM: What was the first thing that stuck out to you about this investigation when you joined the team of researchers?

Travis Taylor: Well, when the invitation came to me to become a part of the investigation team and to lead the experiment portion of the research, at first I was very skeptical of the phenomena on the ranch being real or being some natural phenomena that maybe causes hallucinations, or unnatural phenomena that causes actual phenomena like lights in the sky or maybe there was a classified defense project. At no time did I think that I was going to find strange, unexplainable physical phenomena at least from the start. That was my philosophy or my thought going into it. But I did have an open mind that, hey, what if I find something that is unexplainable?

WATM: How was evidence gathered of the phenomena at the Ranch?

Travis Taylor: The way we approached it is, we had scientific instrumentation and sensors — as many as we could afford based on the budget we had — spread about the ranch that were collecting data continuously, 24/7. We also had security cameras placed in certain locations to give us as much of a full view of the ranch as possible that were running 24/7. Plus we had game cameras placed in locations that we could move if we thought there was a need to move them. We collected all this information and we went through the video and data pretty much on a daily basis. Plus, there was also multiple cameramen, camera crews and camera sites set up continuously throughout the investigation.

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Photo by History Copyright 2020

WATM: Based on the evidence that you have gathered, what are your thoughts on why this phenomena specifically happens at Skinwalker Ranch?

Dr. Travis Taylor: That is an excellent question and we ask ourselves this all the time. Now, the first thing that I will say is that when the team and I talk about this, in no way do we believe that our man-made farming fences along the border of the 500 acres is keeping out any super, you know, physics hyper paranormal — whatever you guys want to call it, phenomenon within the borders of the ranch. In fact, people in the local in Fort Duchenne, Roosevelt and the other town that’s nearby, are all the time reporting phenomena occurring outside of the boundaries of the ranch. Now, that being said, if you look at the Uintah Basin on Google Earth, to me it looks like an ancient meteor impact crater. It looks like it came from the east to the west at a low inclination. And that’s what splattered the salt flats to the west of the Uintah Basin.

There’s Gilsonite all around the Uintah Basin which typically is only found in a meteor impact crater, plus all of the petroleum that is underneath the Uintah Basin. There are a lot of geologists and natural physicists now beginning to think that impact craters cause a phenomena that creates petroleum. If you look at this impact crater, the ranch is dead center give or take but it’s pretty much dead center. Perhaps [it has] something to do with the bowl shape of the basin or whatever caused the basin, made this the central or the nexus for whatever the activity might be.

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Photo by History Copyright 2020

WATM: Would the government hide the evidence of extraterrestrials? What impact would that have on the population if they did or did not disclose evidence?

Dr. Travis Taylor: I honestly don’t believe the Brookings Report. I don’t think that people are going to go nuts. What does an invasion of something that’s invisible do to society? Well guess what it makes it’s all go hide in our houses and be afraid to touch anybody. That’s exactly what’s happening right now, as an alien invasion, with this COVID-19. Well I’m not saying the virus is from outer space.

What I’m saying is it’s alien to us and we’re having to defend it in the way that we figure out how to defend it. If there were an alien invasion, we’d have to figure out what type of invasion it were and then how to – what type it was and then go from there. It could be a bazillion possibilities on the type of invasion.

I don’t believe in big conspiracies. There’s no way that humans are adept enough and trust each other enough to create conspiracies so large it would take hundreds and hundreds of people to maintain it. Now there is the possibility that things have been classified for national security reasons.

At such time when it could be disclosed and not reveal a national security advantage, then I could see that taking place but what’s it going to do to the general public? Most people, the general public, believe there are aliens anyway. I don’t think it’s going to do anything except assure them — I’ll tell you what it will do to politics: it will improve the funding for programs to do research like the AATIP program, or like advanced spacecraft technology or like advanced spacesuit technology. Why all of our soldiers don’t have Iron Man suits I can’t explain that. We should be – that should be one of the biggest defense projects we have.

But we don’t spend any money on it. So that’s the things that will change is where we’re spending our money based on what we think the threats are. That’s all I think disclosure will do. The everyday person, I think, they’ll just say ‘I knew it all along, I told you so.’

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Photo by History Copyright 2020

WATM: Is it possible that the phenomena observed is man-made, such as Top Secret weapons testing?

Dr. Travis Taylor: So, as a person who does weapons testing for his day job, I can tell you that would be so highly crazy illegal [and] that it’s nonsense. There would be people in jail. What I observed the first day on the ranch, we had a long discussion that if what we were observing was man-made. [What if] someone was violating federal laws and [what we would do] – we needed to alert the authorities if we could prove it was man-made. Then from that point on I realized what we were measuring was impossible even for mankind to make. At that point is when I dropped that line of discussion because I realized just flat out mankind was not doing what we are doing and it’s probably a skeptics coping mechanism because I did it too.

The first conclusion to an odd strange thing is ‘Oh that’s a classified government program’ and ‘Oh they’re doing human testing’ honestly like, you know, there were programs that the CIA did back in the 60s and 70s that I don’t think they’re proud of and where people were involved in those experiments. [So, if] you look at it nowadays, we realize now that you can’t do that and you won’t get away with it forever and somebody will go to jail. I just am thoroughly convinced that this is not some top-secret weapons testing program on people or whatever. Number one: there’s no site nearby that is doing that type of work and number two: they would eventually get caught and go to jail. There is oversight committees on classified programs in Congress and in the Senate. Eventually somebody would say, ‘Wait a minute you all can’t do that.’

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Photo by History Copyright 2020

WATM: Okay, so now that we know that there isn’t a government conspiracy or illegal weapons testing — What is happening at Skinwalker Ranch?

Dr. Travis Taylor: So I’m not going to tell you what evidence was observed and what phenomena were observed because and, you know, it would be spoilers for the show. What I will tell you is yes, when you watch the show and you see the evidence we acquired that is scientifically verifiable, you’re going to be blown away because I was. I’m still amazed to this day and still have a hard time believing what I saw.

You can watch the new one-hour nonfiction series “The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch” premiering Today, Tuesday, March 31 at 10PM ET/PT.

MIGHTY MOVIES

From gangs to the Navy and then to acting, James Tolkan has seen it all

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. 

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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.”

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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. 

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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.” 

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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.

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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.”

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Tolkan in Woody Allen’s Love and Death as Napoleon Bonaparte. Photo courtesy of IMDB.com.

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Tolkan with Dolph Lundgren (right) and Chelsea Field (left) in Masters of the Universe. Photo courtesy of IMDB.com.

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Tolkan with Diane Keaton in Love and Death. Photo courtesy of IMDB.com.

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Tolkan with Crispin Glover in Back to the Future. Photo courtesy of IMD

Articles

How a new generation of Air Force pilots flew a mission for a fallen WW2 brother

On Dec. 23, 1944, 2nd Lt. Charles E. Carlson was killed in action when Nazi planes shot down his P-47 Thunderbolt. Carlson would be missing for almost 73 years until he was identified and buried with full honors at Indiantown Gap National Cemetery in Pennsylvania on Aug. 4, 2017.


When the “missing man” formation was flown, it was done by four F-35s.

The F-35s belonged to the 62nd Fighter Squadron, one of 23 assigned to the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, according to the wing’s official webpage. The 56th operates both F-35s and F-16s.

But long before it had the mission to train pilots on the Air Force’s newest multi-role fighter, the 56th Fighter Wing was a combat unit, as was its predecessor, the 56th Fighter Group.

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2nd Lt. Charles E. Carlson, who was killed in action when his P-47 Thunderbolt was shot down on Dec. 23, 1944. (USAF photo)

A July 28 release by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency noted that Carlson’s remains had finally been identified. It noted that Carlson’s wingman had believed that the pilot got out, but German officials had claimed his remains had been recovered near the crash site.

The release stated that Carlson would be returned to his family for burial. So, how did the F-35s end up flying the missing man formation?

Back in World War II, the 56th Fighter Group was known as the “Wolfpack,” which included the 62nd Fighter Squadron. Among the pilots who flew with that unit was the legendary Robert S. Johnson, a 27-kill ace who later wrote the book, “Thunderbolt!”

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Four F-35’s participated in a missing man formation fly-over during 2nd Lt. Charles E. Carlson’s funeral in Pennsylvania more than 70 years after being shot down over Germany in World War II when he was assigned to the 62nd FS. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jensen Stidham)

According to an Air Force News Service report, it was because Carlson had been a member of the 62nd when he was killed in action. Squadron commander Lt. Col. Peter Lee had been browsing Facebook when he noticed the patch for the 62nd Fighter Squadron.

“I clicked on the link and that’s how I found out. It started with something as simple as a Facebook post…and next thing you know we’re flying four airplanes over and talking with the family,” he said.

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F-35 Lightning II fighters fly the missing man formation during the funeral of 2nd Lt. Charles E. Carlson. (Youtube Screenshot)

The F-35s flew the missing man formation for Carlson, led by Capt. Kyle Babbitt, who said, “If it had been me on the other side, I would really appreciate this for my family. It’s definitely an honor to take on this responsibility.”

You can see a video about this mission by the 62nd Fighter Squadron below.

MIGHTY MOVIES

‘The Mandalorian’: An honest-to-god old western

Author’s note: If you haven’t seen “The Mandalorian” yet, go watch it and come back — spoilers ahead. For the rest of you: this is the way.

The internet has been buzzing about “The Mandalorian,” the “Star Wars” series that follows a Mandalorian bounty hunter (of the same tribe and iconic armor as Boba Fett) who finds a young, force-sensitive creature who looks like a baby Yoda. The series hasn’t just produced a slew of new memes, it’s crushed the ratings on several platforms — IMDB has it at an 8.9, and Rotten Tomatoes rates it at 94 percent on the Tomatometer (with an audience score of 93 percent).


It has all the familiar, nostalgic elements of “Star Wars” — spectacular scenes in space, fun action-adventure, weird creatures, the conflict of good and evil, and, of course, the force. However, “The Mandalorian” also includes a host of cowboy movie tropes, which adds a freshness to the story. It’s not like any old Western we’ve seen — after all, it’s set in space with little alien wizards. It’s also not a repeat of other “Star Wars” stories because it’s basically an old Western set in a fantasy universe.

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We can’t publish an article on “The Mandalorian” without showing “the child” at least once.

(Photo courtesy of Disney+)

In order to understand old Western films, we need to understand where they came from. Many of the old Western tropes are American, but some are borrowed from older Japanese cinema. The obvious connection is the Japanese classic “Seven Samurai” being remade into the American cowboy classic “The Magnificent Seven.” While this is the most famous connection between the two genres, it’s not the only one. The music, the stories, the filmmaking techniques — watch any film by Akira Kurosawa and you’ll see elements of the Western left and right.

“The Mandalorian” borrows from both.

It makes sense to begin with the Mandalorian’s religion — his weapons. Our protagonist carries around his handheld blaster and a disintegration rifle (known as a modified Amban Rifle). These are clearly the equivalent of a revolver and a rifle, the cowboy’s typical loadout in most Westerns. Mando generally draws and fires his blaster from the hip, just like the classic Wild West draw. Any bigger weapons brought onto the battlefield are typically large, mounted weapons — the equivalent of the evil antagonist breaking out a Gatling gun mounted to a train or on a tripod. The lasso is another quintessential tool for the cowboy of old Westerns — depicted in “The Mandalorian” by his grappling line. Mando wraps a few enemies up in his “lasso” throughout the story, hog-tying his targets.

The Mandalorian

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Several specific moments also call directly back to the films of the Wild West. For example, the classic “horse whisperer” scene where Mando tames and breaks a blurrg. He is bucked and thrown as the wise, old man watches from the edge of the corral. Finally, our hero mounts the beast and they ride into a few sunsets together.

We mentioned that the Japanese film “Seven Samurai” was the direct inspiration for “The Magnificent Seven” — both films feature bandits who are hell bent on raiding a village, forcing the townspeople to enlist the help of some elite warriors to train them and defend them against the next onslaught. Sound familiar? This same story played out in a chapter of “The Mandalorian” with some unique, sci-fi twists — we don’t remember an AT-ST in “Seven Samurai.”

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The comparisons are obvious.

(Photo courtesy of Disney+.)

On top of congruent storylines, one of the most significant ways that Japanese cinema inspired old Westerns was with its music; “Star Wars” also features some of the most iconic music in film history. Ludwig Goransson’s score of “The Mandalorian” fuses the two by combining elements from old Westerns (and perhaps old Japanese films) like the heavy beating of drums with “primitive” sounding percussion, bizarre flutes, and interesting stringed instruments. The hollow melody of the main title would be just as at home if it was played over a lone gunslinger in the Wild West, riding off to save a small town from nefarious bandits. The score cloaks the Mandalorian himself in a shroud of mystery.

Start with some old Japanese film score elements, mix in a bit of Ennio Morricone, then top it off with heavy sprinkles of classic “Star Wars” sweeping scores — and you’ve got yourself a soundtrack fit for the halls of Mandalore.

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“The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly” (left), and “The Mandalorian.”

(Photos courtesy of United Artists and Disney+.)

The setting and wardrobe also highlight the connection of this magical, dystopian science-fiction narrative to the Wild West. Most of the events in “The Mandalorian” are set in barren places — not on the lavish planet of Naboo or the bustling cities of Coruscant, but out in the lawless desert where guns and criminals abound. And Pedro Pascal (the Mandalorian) sports a cape eerily similar to how Clint Eastwood wears his poncho in classics like “A Few Dollars More” and “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” Instead of high-tech visors, many of the inhabitants of these barren locations wear old-school goggles, and they wear their blasters low on their hip just like the cowboys we know from the Old West. The Mandalorian even keeps rounds strung across his chest — one wouldn’t expect the need for that in a science-fiction universe, but it all falls in line with the classic Western aesthetic.

A lot of old Westerns are films about rugged individualism. They follow rough characters who have to navigate their way through an even rougher world. The protagonist then finds at least one redeeming aspect about the unforgiving, desolate landscape on which they fight — something precious among the thorns. Upon that discovery, the cowboy or lawman or mercenary finds that their ability to fight, to be strong, to kill — it all suddenly has meaning — it suddenly turns into the ability to protect a village, a woman, a friend… or a child.

Jon Favreau has taken a beloved franchise and breathed new life into it by fusing it with these classic elements from old Western films, and it’s been a wild success. Audiences around the world have expressed how thrilled they are at this new installment of “Star Wars,” and I, for one, can’t wait for the second season.

Embedded With Special Forces in Afghanistan | Part 2

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This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Why we’re pumped about the new ‘Overlord’ film

There’s a special place in our hearts for zombie films. It’s a fun little escape to the smokepit conversations every troop has while deployed, like, “who would your zombie apocalypse team be?” And, “where would you go looting first?” Obviously, the only correct answers are your squadmates and the nearest gunshop, respectively, but I digress.

Zombie films have a strange place in the cinematic landscape. The ones that embrace the campiness of the genre tend to be more successful financially and the lower the budget of a zombie film, the more fun (or funny) it’ll probably be. This is part of what made the veteran-made Range 15 so enjoyable to other veterans who enjoy that special, corny magic typical of zombie films.

It was recently announced that J.J. Abrams is set to produce the upcoming film Overlord. From the looks of things, it’s going to be a zombie film set during the events of the Battle of Normandy — also known as Operation Overlord.


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Kind of like the Norwegian film ‘Dead Snow.’

(Euforia Films)

There is a bit of historical precedent for the film. The Nazis never created zombies (obviously), but their fascination with the occult and fringe sciences has been well documented. Hitler, in addition to being a mass-murdering f*ckhead, was obsessed with everything occult in trying to get an edge. This ranged from having officers study Nordic runes to sending troops into Tibet in search of Shangri-la and all sorts of messed-up stuff to create their so-called “übermensch.”

There is no historical record of the Nazis ever trying to reanimate the dead in any Frankensteinian or Lovecraftian manner, but it isn’t too far of a stretch to play on Hitler’s “thousand year army” dream to include “thousand year soldiers.”

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The biggest homage has got to be given to the 1985 film, ‘Re-Animator.’

(Empire International Pictures)

Judging by the trailers, this film seems like it’s going to be an homage to both the war and zombie genres of film. Of course, fans have been quick to point out the similarities between it and Call of Duty‘s Nazi Zombie mode or Return to Castle Wolfenstein, if you want to actually want to get your gaming history right. In the film’s defense, it’s actually making far more references to the mutated Nazi monsters and transformation scenes in An American Werewolf in London.

It’s also interesting to note that this is the first rated-R film for both Bad Robot and J.J Abrams. It’s been said numerous times by Abrams himself that the film is not going to be a part of the Cloverfield franchise. While he’s known for his misdirection, it seems like he’s telling the truth, you know, since the Cloverfield alien was from space and this film is set in Nazi-occupied France.

The film also has plenty of great actors attached who have an impressive action-feature resume. Jovan Adepo of The Leftovers, Jacob Anderson of Game of Thrones, Bokeem Woodbine of The Rock and Riddick, and Wyatt Russell from the Black Mirror episode ‘Playtest’ are all co-leads against Pilou Asbæk’s (Euron Greyjoy from Game of Thrones) evil Nazi scientist character.

Overlord is going to be directed by Julius Avery, the director of the Australian indie film, Son of a Gun. Billy Ray, the writer of Captain Phillips, and Mark L. Smith, screenplay writer for The Revenant, co-wrote the script.

The film is scheduled for release on November 9th, 2018, but you can watch the trailer below right now.

Articles

This epic video game’s ‘ultimate edition’ facelift paid off

As we endure the long wait for titles like “No Man’s Sky,” “Battlefield 1,” and “Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare,” We Are The Mighty decided to dust off some old games in the archives.


“Gears of War: Ultimate Edition” is the re-mastered version of the 2006 game known for its chainsaw kills, ‘roided up characters, and brutal gameplay. It allows players to fight as Delta Squad soldiers against the dreaded Locusts, an army of bug-like monsters, in H.D. Players control Marcus Fenix or Dominic Santiago in a mission to map Locust tunnels and deploy a Lightmass Bomb – imagine a cross between napalm and a nuclear bomb.

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The Lightmass bomb would be pretty useful in real life. (GIF: Gears of War: Ultimate Edition on Xbox 1)

For most of the game, Delta squad consists of four members which the player can give simple orders to as they face off against Boomers – massive infantrymen who fire explosive grenades, Berserkers – unstoppable linebackers who will charge players, Locust Drones – standard infantrymen, and others.

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The fights progress from the ruins of major cities and through underground tunnels and mines before culminating on a moving train. Features of the different areas, such as whether or not the area is exposed to satellites or is lit by the sun, change the combat mechanics and keep the player on their toes.

The main antagonist, General RAAM, is the head of all Locust forces and is known for his ruthlessness. He executes one human after another in brutal ways and is able to control a flock of krill, bat-like creatures that will attack Delta soldiers en mass and tear them apart.

Considering how far out the game’s plot and enemies are, it features surprisingly realistic combat mechanics. Players need to maneuver carefully and use cover to bring down the Locust grunts and massive monsters. In two-player mode, players can support each other during attacks, even when the map forces them to use two different routes.

Players have to endure a number of different scenarios in the main game, everything from defending a stranded outpost like they’re on a firebase being overrun to assaulting an enemy strongpoint defended by elite warriors.

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Players need to support each other in multiplayer mode. Despite the small teams, the fighting is still intense. (GIF: Gears of War: Ultimate Edition on Xbox 1)

In multiplayer mode, modern gamers may be surprised that most game types support four versus four multiplayer, and one only supports two versus two. But, these smaller teams make the fighting feel less hectic and more personal, creating less chaos and supporting tactical play.

Of course, the re-mastered graphics make everything in “Gears of War: Ultimate Edition” look more realistic and prettier than in the original. While this breaks from the aesthetic of the 2006 version, a notoriously gritty experience, it still feels like Delta Squad is in the suck.

For gamers who haven’t gotten into “Gears of War” yet or who want a refresher before the release of “Gears of War 4” in October, the Ultimate Edition is great fun.

MIGHTY MOVIES

A special ops veteran and his Marine dad created History’s ‘Six’

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.

Related: 6 things military veterans will love about History’s ‘Six’

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.

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David Broyles during his Air Force PJ days.
(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.

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WIlliam Broyles and his fellow Marines in Vietnam.
(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.”

History’s Six airs Wednesday nights at 10pm.

MIGHTY MOVIES

6 reasons ‘Full Metal Jacket’ should have been about Animal Mother

In 1987, Warner Brothers released one of the most iconic Vietnam War dramas ever recorded on film: Full Metal Jacket.


The story follows Joker, a young Marine reporter who wants to be the first kid on his block to get a confirmed kill during his tour in Vietnam.

Although the film is epic, did you ever wonder how different it would be if it followed Animal Mother instead of Joker? Well, we did.

Related: 11 things your platoon medic would never say

6. The boot camp could have been even more interesting.

We’re all fans of watching Gunny Hartman train those recruits — especially Gomer Pyle — in the first act of the film. With Animal Mother in the platoon, we bet that not only would he be the squad leader, but the blanket party scene would have come much sooner.

Soap wrapped in a towel is a common tool to use during a blanket party. (Image via Giphy)

5. There would have been way more sh*t talking — and we like that.

We can all say Animal Mother was a hardcore killer and has minimal social skills, especially when Marine reporters from Stars and Stripes show up.

Although he tends to fire off his mouth as often as he fires his M60. Seeing him verbally torment more of the film’s characters would be freakin’ funny to watch.

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4. The film’s coverage of the Tet Offensive would have been much different.

We only see a small fraction of the bloody campaign that takes places through Joker’s lens. Once Joker and Rafterman meet up with Hotel Company 1/5, Crazy Earl tells us a quick story of how they came to Hue City and took on a massive enemy force.

We would have loved to have seen that footage through Animal Mother’s POV.

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Crazy Earl and his deceased counterpart. (Source: WB)

3. The film would have had a sex scene for sure.

Remember when Animal Mother c*ckblocked Eightball when that Vietnamese girl came around? Sure you do. Well, we think it would have been interesting to catch a glimpse of him and her having sex doing their taxes in the following scene.

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We Are The Mighty does not condone prostitution. (Source: WB)

2. More erratic shooting.

Animal Mother was known for being trigger happy and spraying rounds everywhere.

We understand that it’s not the most accurate way of discharging your weapon, but when you’re shooting that thing on full auto — it’s f*cking hard to control.

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The only way to fire your weapon is while you’re sporting your war face. (Source: WB)

Also Read: 5 ways your platoon would be different if ‘The Punisher’ was the CO

1. Animal Mother’s backstory and how he got that epic name.

Joker wasn’t the most exciting character in the film, yet we knew slightly more about him than anyone else. We’re curious what someone has to do to earn the name Animal Mother.

A little more backstory would have been cool, but apparently Stanley Kubrick didn’t want to show any humanity in the film.

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WATCH

One of the best celebrity trainers in Hollywood learned how to train in the Army

Whether you’re a war fighter currently serving down range, a veteran looking to stay fit in the work-a-day world, or just some, poor, lost, no-compass-having civilian who somehow stumbled onto the vast digital military base that is We Are The Mighty…


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Old Macdonald had a farm… (Go90 Max Your Body screenshot)

Max “The Body” Philisaire wants to Pump: you up.

Max is an Army veteran. Max DEXA scans at about 7% bodyfat. Max regularly ruck runs Runyon Canyon humping 50 lbs of ballast (check that out here). Muscle separation is Max’s way of promoting healthy bones…through fear. In California, corn mazes happen when Max tells corn to “fall in!”

We’re saying, if you have a body and you’re looking to max it, you could not be in better hands (So calloused! So clenchy!).

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Dumbbells. And how not to drop them on your face. (Go90 Max Your Body screenshot)

So, in this episode, Max targets upper body strength training to aid steady rifle posture and accurate fire. If any one of your component muscle groups — shoulders, biceps, triceps, core — is weak and under performing, proper firing posture can break down and accuracy can suffer.

That kind of thing happens in boot camp and everybody suffers.

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This is what happens when doe-eyed civilians wander into WATM country… (Photo from U.S. DoD)

With a few simple (that’s not to say, easy) exercises, Max will help you strengthen your shoulder girdle, buck up your biceps, and carve your core out of solid mahogany. Then, whatever your target — ballistic lethality or Tinder superiority — your aim will be tried and true.

Watch as Max makes mincemeat of your excuses, in the video embedded at the top.

Watch more Max Your Body:

This elite veteran trainer is why your ammo shows up on time

Our trainer will make you want to play Ruck Ruck Goose

This is how squats can open doors for you

This trainer will make you a card-carrying member of the log-carrying elite

This is how to beat the rope-a-dope

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