In Michael Bay’s “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi”, the actors were mentored by the type of warfighters they portray in the film in order to accurately depict their abilities and experiences. Each of these men was a member of an elite group called the Global Response Staff, which draws from the full suite of special operations units.
We Are The Mighty partnered with “13 Hours” to bring together spec ops vets of each branch to discuss the differences between Army Rangers and Green Berets, Air Force Pararescuemen, Navy SEALs, and Marine Recon.
Their explanations are specific and nuanced and explained as only those who’ve “been there and done that” can.
There are a lot of war movies to choose from, but not many of them are directed from the perspective of a man who lived through the mental torture that was the Vietnam War.
With Platoon, critically acclaimed writer-director Oliver Stone (an Army veteran) transports audiences back to that politically charged time in American history where the war efforts of our brave service members were met with disdain upon returning home.
Platoon, fueled by Stone’s unique vision, features some of the most electric, emotionally driven scenes to ever hit the big screen. Although the film won several awards, there are a few things you probably didn’t know about this iconic war movie.
Filipino protesters linked arms whenever forces attempted to disperse them.
(Photo by Romeo Mariano)
The Philippines Revolution of 1986
Talented actor Willem Dafoe, who played Sgt. Elias in the film, decided that he needed to head to the Philippines before the rest of the cast to get acclimated before shooting. After arriving and taking a brief nap, Dafoe awoke and opened his hotel room’s curtains only to watch a column of tanks drive down the street.
The Philippines Revolution had just kicked off.
From the moment the actors landed, they were treated like infantrymen
Capt. Dale Dye (a Marine veteran) made the actors get haircuts and speak to one another using only character names. Many of the actors were sitting pretty stateside just 48 hours earlier. Suddenly, they were being treated like soldiers.
While the actors were digging their fighting holes with e-tools in the jungle, one of the special effects masterminds on set, Yves De Bono, planted explosive charges nearby to help transform the thespians into hardened grunts.
Once Capt. Dye gave the signal, the charges exploded as planned, taking the actors by complete surprise.
Lerner (played by Johnny Depp) carries a young girl through a Vietnam village
Johnny Depp fell asleep on post
While in training, Depp was assigned to man a post when he started drifting off to sleep. The young actor woke to a gun pressed to the back of his neck. Capt. Dye informed Depp that he had just been killed.
Remember that scene where everyone got high? Well, that was real, according to actor Willem Dafoe. During an interview for a behind-the-scenes documentary, the cast got pretty high before the lights and camera were set up. However, once they were ready to film, their marijuana “high” was more like a “Mary Jane down.”
The castmates became very sleepy and, according to a chuckling Dafoe, everyone was “useless.”
“Transpecos,” winner of the SXSW Film Festival’s Audience Award, deals with what happens to a Border Patrol agent when he gets dragged to the other side by a drug cartel. It’s an impressive directorial debut from independent filmmaker Greg Kwedar.
Kwedar, whose work includes commercials, documentaries, and short films, took six years to make “Transpecos.” To research the film, he worked with the U.S. Border Patrol, an agency that’s reluctant to share its methods – for good reason. Their mission isn’t just keeping illegal immigrants out of the United States, they’re also fighting a massive, brutal enemy with unlimited funding and firepower, and no rules.
“Transpecos” is the story of three Border Patrol agents, a rookie named Davis (played by Johnny Simmons), a seasoned professional, Flores (Gabriel Luna), and salty veteran Hobbs (Clifton Collins, Jr.). They man a remote checkpoint somewhere near the U.S.-Mexican border. When one stop goes from routine to nightmarish, all three end up fighting for their lives.
“There’s this famous Western line: ‘silver or lead?,'” says Greg Kwedar, the director who co-wrote the script with Clint Bentley. “Money’s not a vulnerability for everyone. They [Border Patrol] have higher standards to live by. The leverage can be their own personal safety or that of their family. If an agent can rise above that then the cartel might say, “Who do you care about? We’ll use them.”
That’s exactly what happens in the film. Drug cartels use an agent’s family to force him to allow shipments of cocaine across the border. The Border Patrol agents find themselves torn between duty and family, between fulfilling their mission and protecting their own.
(Samuel Goldwyn Films)
To get access to the real Border Patrol agents Kwedar and his team went out into the desert and got lost (or pretended to be) in the hopes of finding agents who were on the job — a highly unorthodox and potentially dangerous process.
“Once they realized we weren’t antagonistic, that we really wanted to know more about them and their work, they really opened up to us,” Kwedar says. “They invited us into their world and from that we found real friendships, running the gamut from grabbing a beer in a one-stoplight town to sitting down with their families at dinner.”
The characters – Davis, Flores, and Hobbs – are the heart of the film. The Border Patrol depicted in “Transpecos” could just as well be any military checkpoint or remote combat outpost anywhere in the world. It’s hot and desolate. The guys manning the checkpoint can be just as bored as any troops on deployment at any given time. They even have to go out on foot patrols.
“It was 110 degrees Fahrenheit on some of those days,” says Johnny Simmons, who portrays the green Agent Davis. “Our boots were melting, we were covered in sweat at the end of the day when we took off our Kevlar. My brother is a Marine and working on this film brought me a little closer to what it must be like for him … only he and so many others do it every day.”
The credit for this realism goes to the film’s technical advisor, Sam Sadler. Sadler is a retired Border Patrol agent who joined the service at age 17. Before he retired, he was the second in command at Deming Station, New Mexico, the area where “Transpecos” was filmed. He rode ATVs; he rode horseback. He tracked people through the desert by their footprints, the way Native American tribes used to – a practice still in use by agents today. By the end of his 25 years on the border, Sadler was the go-to guy.
“[Kwedar and Sadler] gave us a great roadmap to the script,” said Clifton Collins, Jr., who plays the experienced, by-the-book Agent Hobbs. “They took us off the leash in regards to the research and I really brought a lot of that to the table.”
At heart, Kwedar made the film for Border Patrol agents and their families. Sadler taught the actors the protocol and search methods to make sure they got the details right.
“These guys are so isolated, and it takes a special person to be able to do that,” Gabriel Luna, who plays Agent Flores, said. “Working on this film really cleared up my view of the Border Patrol. These men and women are just regular people. They’re human, they’re doing this job day in and day out, and it’s such an incredible thing.”
“Transpecos” is now available nationwide on demand and digital including Comcast, DirecTV and iTunes. It will be released on DVD September 27, 2016.
So many NFL players love the military and honor military service. Many players have gone overseas on tours with the USO to visit deployed troops and many more come from military families. They go the extra yard for those who served whenever possible.
During Super Bowl Weekend, the NFL hosts a “Super Bowl Experience,” a sort of pop-up, interactive theme park where fans and their families can view the Lombardi Trophy, see what it’s like to run the NFL combine, and so much more.
Military members, current and prior, get an enhanced experience at the Super Bowl, however, courtesy of USAA, one of the U.S. military’s favorite financial services companies. USAA sponsors the Salute to Service Military Appreciation Lounge within the Super Bowl Experience.
It’s a place exclusive to service members, veterans, and their families (who don’t need to be a USAA member). It’s where a series of NFL players with deep ties and affinities for the military and military service give families a more personal experience.
USAA’s Salute to Service Lounge was the only stop of its kind during the entire Super Bowl weekend. Veterans and families meet some of their favorite NFL personalities, get signed memorabilia, and listen to NFL stars talk about their experiences in football and with the military.
(We Are The Mighty | YouTube)The NFL’s annual Salute to Service Award recognizes exceptional efforts by members of the NFL in supporting U.S. service members, veterans, and their families. Former Minnesota Viking and Carolina Panthers Defensive End Jared Allen, who stopped by this year’s Salute to Service Lounge, is a recipient of this award.
Even though these NFL legends, past and present, have busy schedules during Super Bowl weekend, not one rushed or hurried military veterans through the autograph lines. They shared stories, hugs, and selfies with any veteran who came by.
One of the joys of going to see a movie directed by Taika Waititi is that you never know what you’ll get from it. Even his most mainstream movie to date, “Thor: Ragnarok,” is one of the most unique stories in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
So it should come as no surprise that his latest movie, “Jojo Rabbit” (in theaters Oct. 18, 2019), is so unique it’s surprising it was even made in the first place.
Set in Germany during World War II, the story follows a 10-year-old boy named Jojo (played by Roman Griffin Davis) who is obsessed with all things Nazi and dreams of one day growing up to become part of Adolf Hitler’s special security detail. But when Jojo heads off to a Nazi kids training program, it becomes apparent that Jojo does not have what it takes to be a true Nazi soldier. Even a pep talk from his imaginary friend, Hitler himself (played by Waititi), doesn’t work out as Jojo, in a dramatic attempt to impress everyone, ends up getting injured trying to throw a grenade.
JOJO RABBIT | Official Trailer [HD] | FOX Searchlight
Stuck back at home with his mom (Scarlett Johansson) and an injured leg, he’s relegated to helping out in the war by going around town and dropping off propaganda. Then his mind really gets messed up when he learns that his mother has been allowing a young Jewish girl to hide in their house.
Based on the book “Caging Skies” by Christine Leunens, Waititi has crafted a very singular coming-of-age tale. We follow Jojo as his hatred for his discovered house guest leads to an unlikely friendship. But to get to that place, Waititi doesn’t hold back in exploring the mindless hate Jojo had been fed most of his life by the Nazi party.
It’s all done in such an outlandish manner that you can’t help but laugh, especially the scenes of Waititi as Hitler. That is Waititi’s intention: to examine the absurdity of hate and bigotry through comedy.
Waititi also pulls at the heartstrings. Johansson’s performance as the good-willed mother is one of her best in recent memory. To counteract the hate that her son has for the world, she uses comedy (funny one-liners, expressions, even tying his shoelaces together) and heightens the movie in every scene she’s in.
Honestly, this movie will not be for everyone. But I wouldn’t expect anything less from Waititi. It’s that journey into the unknown with him that makes it exciting. If you’re ready to throw caution to the wind, I suggest you give this one a try.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Where in our culture, do you find the difference between the artistic freedom of Star Wars and the commercial viability of Star Wars? The answer is clearly what you can and can’t say at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland. After a decidedly mixed reception to the opening of the hugely anticipated theme park attraction, one small detail emerged relevant for parents and children. Do you remember what Yoda and Obi-Wan call children-Jedi-in-training in the Star Wars prequels? Well, if you do, don’t expect the in-character staff at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to say that word.
That’s’ right, according to early reports, you can’t say “younglings” at Disneyland, and that’s because of one line for Revenge of the Sith. On June 6, 2019, Newsweek reported that according to Star Wars YouTuber Jenny Nicholson, staff will no longer say “younglings,” and instead say “kids” or “children.” The reason why is: “Parents didn’t like it because one of the only times you hear it in the movies is the phrase ‘killing younglings.'”
Now, this isn’t an officially confirmed press release from Disney or anything like that, so it’s not clear that this is 100 percent true. And though Obi-Wan does say “I’ve seen security footage of Anakin killing younglings,” in Revenge of the Sith, Yoda also warmly and affectionately calls the smallest Jedi Padawans “younglings.” It’s also notable that the word “younglings” is spoken with affection and reverence relative to young Jedi children throughout the popular animated cartoon seriesStar Wars: The Clone Wars. Also, at some point, before George Lucas sold Lucasfilm and the Star Wars IP to Disney in 2012, he was considering a spin-off series just about younglings.
If parents really are objecting to the use of the word “younglings” at Disneyland because it triggers the line “killing younglings” in the minds of their younglings, then two things become true right away.
First: these parents are letting their kids watch Revenge of the Sith enough times that this “killing younglings” line is burned in their brains. This is a dubious parenting decision. You could argue that Revenge of the Sith shouldn’t really be a movie kids should watch until they are at least in their early tweens, perhaps later.
Second: Despite the huge hoopla made in the fandom about the return of The Clone Wars, families maybe don’t really care about Star Wars cartoons? Because if their younglings were watching the programming aimed at younglings and not the murder-fest that is Revenge of the Sith, then they would know “younglings” is a word to be celebrated.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is open now, and you can start making new reservations in early July 2019
This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.
For nearly half a decade, life seemed to contain three certainties: death, taxes, and Star Wars movies making ungodly amounts of money at the box office. But a year ago, that all changed when Solo, the origin story of the smuggler-turned-hero of the rebellion, came to theaters and failed to make an impression at the box office, struggling to cross $200 million at the domestic box office. It was an unprecedented financial failure for the franchise, causing Disney to halt several planned spin-offs, including the long-rumored Obi-Wan movie starring Ewan McGregor.
Yet despite flopping at the box office, Solo was a critical hit that clearly resonated with at least some of the massive Star Wars fanbase. And on the anniversary of the film’s release, fans decided to take to Twitter and advocate for a second dose of everyone’s favorite stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder with the hashtag #MakeSolo2Happen.
Before long, thousands of users were expressing their support for the hypothetical sequel.
Several fans speculated about a potential plot for Solo 2, such as Han and Lando teaming up to do a dangerous job for Jabba the Hutt.
Some suggested making it into a TV show on the upcoming Disney+ streaming service.
A few people even admitted that while they didn’t enjoy Solo at first, they’d come to appreciate it upon rewatch.
And, of course, many people just wanted a chance to see Darth Maul back in action after his surprise cameo in Solo.
Is it likely that this hashtag activism will actually help a Solo sequel get made? Probably not but it’s still nice to see this forgotten Star Wars film get some love from fans and, at the very least, it’s clearly not destined to become a cultural punchline like the highly divisive prequels.
This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.
Landing Home takes you right into the trenches, forcing you to acknowledge the impacts of America’s 20-year war. Viewers must confront the reality of veterans struggling after they return home.
Douglas Taurel plays Luke, an Army veteran returning home after serving in Afghanistan. Taurel himself is best known for his gripping one-man play, The American Soldier, in which he plays multiple characters, bringing the viewer from the Revolutionary War to the current conflict in the Middle East. The play itself and all of his unforgettable relationships built with veterans of every walk of life inspired Landing Home.
The child of Jewish Argentinian immigrants, he grew up with his father who was in love with America and her promises. A deep love he passed to his son.
“The thing that got me going was being involved in 9/11. I was coming out of the second tower when that second plane hit it,” Taurel shared. “I couldn’t join [the military] because I was blind in my left eye. But that’s what got me involved in working with veterans.”
Taurel began furiously reading and following America’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. While researching other wars he read letters from soldiers who’d been involved in all of America’s conflicts, describing their experiences. As he was reading, he made a shocking revelation. They were all the same, whether it was written during the Civil War or modern times, the struggles of these veterans couldn’t be differentiated. That discovery led him on a six-year journey to creating The American Soldier.
But he wasn’t done yet.
“The series really came from the QA we always have after the play. Vets would come up to me after the show and share their stores. Everyone always said ‘you have to turn this into a movie’,” Taruel said. While he didn’t think it was feasible to fit all his characters into a movie, he decided to create a modern soldier who embodied those characters for a web series.
Taurel wanted it to be a real and true compilation of all of the veteran stories he’d been privy to. On set, 17 of the cast and crew were veterans themselves. Launched through Vimeo, the first episode is an immediate poignant reminder of how difficult reintegration is for veterans. Something as simple as a birthday party is overwhelming for a veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Landing Home brings viewers along on the journey of a former soldier trying to reintegrate into civilian life. The obvious struggle Luke walks through is a heartbreaking reminder of the cost of war, as his story is an accurate depiction of a true veteran. Each episode is filled with moments that bring you deep inside to feel the effects of combat.
“We have a history as a nation of not taking care of our veterans, that goes back to the Revolution,” Taurel said. “It is a beautiful country, but it has been paid in blood. If we honored our veterans more, we’d think about war a whole lot differently. It’s easy to go to war when you aren’t involved.”
There’s another scene, in a bar that stands out. Luke is obviously struggling and an older gentleman sits beside him. A quiet and heavy silence sits in the air. Then the man says, “Where did you serve?” This moment stands out because one veteran immediately knew another and their fight, on sight.
“We owe our veterans so much. I think we’ve become selfish as a country. We’ve forgotten the people who have given us the liberties and freedoms we have,” Taurel explained. He continued, “That’s why I do the projects that I have, I want people to understand what service really means.”
The series does not hold back. The raw and true compilations of the experiences of America’s veterans in Landing Home will move you. Taurel hopes that viewers walk away with a deep understanding of what “Thank you for your service” really means.
You can watch Landing Home by going to Vimeo. To learn about the other work Taurel is involved in, click here.
Hughes sat down with WATM’s Blake Stilwell and discussed his beginnings as a filmmaker and being mentored by George Lucas.
‘Day One’ is inspired by a Hughes’ experiences in Afghanistan. The film depicts a female translator’s first day accompanying a U.S. Army unit on patrol. As she quickly discovers, her job involves dealing with the brutal complexities of gender and religious barriers with lives hanging in the balance.
The D23 Expo is officially underway in Anaheim, giving Disney fans a peek at what they can expect from the massive entertainment company over the next year. And while we are all hoping for some awesome new trailers to drop, the biggest reveal so far has been about the Disney parks, as we finally got a look at the upcoming Marvel land that will be opening at California Adventure in 2020. And unsurprisingly, the entire thing looks totally awesome.
The highly-anticipated Marvel land, which will be replacing “A Bug’s Land”, will not actually be called Marvel Land. Instead, Disney announced that it will be called Avengers Campus and will be based on the idea of visitors being recruited to join the super-superteam. Avengers Campus will be opening in two phases, with the first phase set to open sometime in 2020.
So what will actually be at Avengers Campus? The big attraction appears to be a Spider-Man ride that is rumored to be an interactive shooting game that hopefully will let riders become amateur web-slingers. There are also rumors about an Ant-Man brewery, along with a Dr. Strange stage show that will probably feature some real trippy effects.
Perhaps the biggest reveal is the fact that Disney sees Avengers Campus as the first step in expanding Marvel theme parks around the globe, with a map showing another Avengers Campus in Paris, a Stark Expo in Hong Kong, and a Xandarian Outpost in Orlando. These cities are, of course, home to Disney parks so don’t be surprised if the next decade features Marvel theme parks spreading all over the world. And based on the fact that Endgame is officially the highest-grossing movie of all time, we can’t imagine anyone will be too upset.
This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.
Anyone who’s ever served in uniform has probably heard someone say the immortal line: “I would have joined the military, but…”
Lots of civilians make a trip to the recruiter with an eye toward military service, full of patriotic zeal and martial courage. But many pull out at the last minute and give their friends and family some song and dance about why they couldn’t commit.
No matter what excuse they give you for not signing on the dotted line, here are six real reasons recruiters tell us people decide not to join.
Compounding the M16’s troubles was its lack of a proper cleaning kit. It was supposed to be so advanced that it would never jam, so the manufacturer didn’t feel it needed to make them. But the M16 did jam.
“We hated it,” said Marine veteran John Culbertson. “Because if it got any grime or corruption or dirt in it, which you always get in any rifle out in the field, it’s going to malfunction.”
The troops started using cleaning kits from other weapons to unjam their rifles.
“The shells ruptured in the chambers and the only way to get the shell out was to put a cleaning rod in it,” said Wodecki. “So you can imagine in a firefight trying to clean your weapon after two or three rounds. It was a nightmare for Marines at the time.
Towards the end of 1965, journalists picked up on mounting reports of gross malfunctions. The American public became outraged over stories of troops dying face down in the mud because their rifles failed to fire, according to a story published by the Small Arms Review.
Thankfully, the reports did not fall on deaf ears. The manufacturer fixed the jamming problems and issued cleaning kits. The new and improved rifle became the M16A1.
This video features Vietnam Marines recounting their first-hand troubles with the M16: