Posts Tagged ‘war’

Movie Review – Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2016)

Recently I had the opportunity to see Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, an American war drama directed by Hollywood legend Ang Lee.  Based on the book of the same name, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk focuses on a squad of Army soldiers, and in particular Billy Lynn, who became famous for their actions in combat in Iraq, and they’re treated as war heroes during a Dallas Cowboys’ halftime show on Thanksgiving.

The film stars Joe Alwyn in the role as soldier Billy Lynn.  Also in the film are Kristen Stewart as Kathryn Lynn, Billy’s sister; Chris Tucker as Albert, a film producer; Vin Diesel as Shroom, one of the squad’s sergeants; and Steve Martin as Norm Oglesby, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys.

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2016) – movie poster

Taking place around 2004-05, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk begins with hidden camera footage of Billy Lynn (Joe Alwyn) coming to the aid of Virgil “Shroom” Breem (Vin Diesel) while under fire from enemy forces.  Although Shroom dies from his injuries, Billy’s heroism catapults him and his squad into the national spotlight.  The squad (named “Bravo Squad” by the media) is back in the U.S. to tour the country and help draw support for the war.  Their main performance takes place today during the halftime show for the Dallas Cowboys’ football game on Thanksgiving.

From their hotel, Cowboys’ PR agent Josh (Ben Platt) and film producer Albert Brown (Chris Tucker) escort the soldiers to the football stadium.  While Josh tries to keep the soldiers updated as to their schedule at the game, Albert is trying to work out a film deal so that a Hollywood company will bring the story of Billy Lynn and Bravo Squad to the movie theaters. Read more…

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - May 10, 2017 at 10:46 pm

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Movie Review – Lone Survivor (2013)

Opening limited on December 25, 2013 and widespread on January 10, 2014 is Lone Survivor, a war film telling the story of Navy SEAL Team 10‘s failed mission Operation Red Wings.

Operation Red Wings was a special ops mission that took place in Afghanistan starting on June 27, 2005.  Once the soldiers were discovered by locals and the mission was compromised, what followed was a massive firefight with Taliban fighters.  The fighting ultimately claimed the lives of three of the four-man SEAL team along with sixteen more soldiers that were part of the quick reaction force.

This is their story.

Lone Survivor (2013) - movie poster

Directed by Peter Berg, Lone Survivor stars Mark Wahlberg as Marcus Luttrell.  Supporting him in the film are Taylor Kitsch as Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy, Emile Hirsch as Danny Dietz, Ben Foster as Matthew Axelson, and Eric Bana as Lieutenant Commander Erik S. Kristensen.

Lone Survivor begins by taking a brief look at soldiers training to become Navy SEALs.  It’s a brutally tough and mentally challenging program with an extremely high rate of failure for the candidates.  It’s no wonder that those soldiers who succeed and become Navy SEALs are modern day warriors capable of overcoming any challenge.

The film then transitions to Afghanistan and we see combat medics working hard to save the life of Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg).  His body is bloody and beaten, and at this point it’s uncertain if the medical team will be able to save his life.

Lone Survivor then goes back a few days and we see what looks like an ordinary morning on an army base in Afghanistan.  The soldiers wake up and start their day.  Some of them compete in a physical fitness race while others communicate with loved ones back home.  It’s just another ordinary morning for the soldiers.

Later that day, Lieutenant Commander Erik S. Kristensen (Eric Bana) leads a mission briefing for the Navy SEALs.  Operation Red Wings is designed to capture or kill notorious Taliban leader Ahmad Shah.  The secondary target is a man named Taraq, Shah’s right hand man and accomplice.  The mission itself will be carried out with a four-man SEAL reconnaissance team.  It’s noted that because of the mountainous terrain, there may be communication problems between the SEAL team and their headquarters. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - January 12, 2014 at 10:35 pm

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Book Review – Orson Scott Card’s “Empire”

Today’s society seems more polarized than ever when it comes to the world of politics and social issues.

Take this recent election as an example.  The political mud throwing and the name calling by the candidates’ supporters seemed to reach a new low as each side tried to prove how stupid and reckless the opposite side was.  You had fascists on one side, socialists on the other, and the impartial media trying their best to swing voters to their heavily biased point-of-view.

When you consider the deeply opinionated views and the narrow margin between winning and losing, it’s safe to say that the country is divided as a whole.  There is no sense of national unity at this point in time.  Throw in the talk about states wanting to secede from the union and there you go.  The country is ripe for a major event to split us apart.

Orson Scott Card --- Empire

Science fiction writer Orson Scott Card takes this frighteningly real scenario and takes it a few notches further with his 2006 novel, Empire.

Empire begins with a special forces raid somewhere in southern Asia, presumably Afghanistan.  U.S. Army Captain Reuben Malich leads his squad against an opposition force in a small town.  The commando raid itself is successful as all enemy forces are killed and his unit didn’t suffer any casualties, but the town’s village elder is shot and killed.

Empire transitions to some time later when Malich is studying at a local college.  He’s under extra pressure as one of his professors continually calls him “Soldier Boy” and wants to debate him on various subjects in history.  Malich keeps his cool while under pressure from the professor and he passes his class.  It turns out that his professor somehow knows about Malich’s secret missions overseas, and he recruits Malich to perform some top secret duties here in the U.S. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - October 5, 2013 at 9:22 pm

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Movie Review – The Last of the Mohicans (1992)

From 1754 through 1763, a bloody conflict known as the French and Indian War ravaged North America from Maryland to the northern reaches of Canada including Montreal, Quebec and Nova Scotia.

This was a war between the British colonies with those of French origin, and many Native American forces siding with the French.  In a way, not only was this the first major conflict between European forces in North America, but this was also a stepping stone for the American Revolutionary War that would begin roughly thirteen years later.

The Last of the Mohicans (1992) - movie poster

The Last of the Mohicans is an adventure / war / romance film that takes place during the French and Indian War.  Set in upstate New York along the Hudson River, the film tells the tale of Hawkeye, an American who was adopted by a tribe of Mohican Indians, and his quest to escort a general’s daughters to his fort.  Along the way he falls in love, and when the daughters are captured by the Huron Indians, it’s up to Hawkeye and his fellow Mohicans to rescue them before it’s too late.

Directed by Michael Mann and given a killer soundtrack by Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman, The Last of the Mohicans stars Daniel Day-Lewis in the title role of Hawkeye, an American by birth and raised by a small tribe of Mohican Indians.  Supporting him is Madeleine Stowe as Cora Munro, Jodhi May as Cora’s younger sister Alice, and Steven Waddington as Major Duncan Heyward.  Russell Means and Eric Schweig play the Mohicans Chingachgook and Uncas, while Wes Studi plays the menacing role of Magua, a Huron Indian.

The Last of the Mohicans (1992) - Hawkeye and Uncas are tracking and hunting a deer.

The Last of the Mohicans (1992) – (c) 20th Century Fox

The Last of the Mohicans takes place in 1757, three years into the bloody war.  By this point in time England and France had formally declared war upon the other, and fighting is also taking place outside of North America.  The film begins with Nathaniel “Long Rifle” Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis), Chingachgook (Russell Means) and Uncas (Eric Schweig) tracking a deer and ultimately shooting and killing it.  They pause and show respect to the fallen animal before heading to the Cameron residence on the outskirts of the forest.  While at the house they hear from Jack Winthrop (Edward Blatchford) that the British army is recruiting local militia to fight against French forces moving south into New York.

The next day more settlers gather at the cabin as a British lieutenant (Jared Harris) tries his hand at recruiting the local people to fight for England.  He needs the men to join the forces at Fort William Henry and fight against the French.  The militia feels the need to join England and support King George II, but they’re hesitant to leave their homes undefended to possible Indian attacks. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - July 22, 2013 at 12:00 am

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Movie Review – Gettysburg (1993)

Michael Shaara’s award-winning novel The Killer Angels brought the famous Battle of Gettysburg from the American Civil War (a.k.a. War Between the States) into a new perspective.

Nineteen years after the first publishing of The Killer Angels the world was presented with an epic scale film adaptation of the novel.  Released in 1993, the film was simply called Gettysburg.

Gettysburg (1993) - movie poster

Directed by Ronald F. Maxwell, produced by Turner Pictures, and given an outstanding music score by Randy Edelman, Gettysburg stars Tom Berenger as Confederate General James Longstreet, Jeff Daniels as USA Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, and Martin Sheen as CSA General Robert E. Lee.  Supporting them are Sam Elliott as USA General John Buford, Stephen Lang as CSA General George Pickett, Kevin Conway as USA Sgt. Buster Kilrain, C. Thomas Howell as USA Lt. Thomas Chamberlain, and Richard Jordan as CSA General Lewis Armistead.

Fans of the Civil War prequel Gods and Generals will notice that most of the actors play the same role in both films even though ten years separates the two movies.  Apart from different actors playing the roles of Generals Lee and Longstreet, the biggest difference is that Stephen Lang plays two separate roles, both of them major characters.  In Gods and Generals Lang stars in the role of CSA General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, and in Gettysburg he has a smaller but still important role in that of CSA General George Pickett.

Gettysburg begins in late June of 1863 after the Confederate victory at the Battle of ChancellorsvilleGeneral Robert E. Lee has taken the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia north through Maryland and into southern Pennsylvania.  By taking his army north he hopes to accomplish two tasks: show the Yankees that their towns can also be threatened by the war and having their citizens put pressure on their politicians about ending the bloody war, and by drawing the Army of the Potomac out into the open so it can be destroyed, thus leaving Washington unguarded and ripe for attack.

Remember that by this point in time CSA General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, General Lee’s right hand man and arguably one of the greatest generals in the Confederacy, has been killed.  He was accidentally wounded by friendly fire at the Battle of Chancellorsville and died a few days later.  A couple of months prior to that General Lee suffered from a minor heart attack.  These are heavy factors in the mind of General Lee, and at this point in time he wants this bloody war to end.  He’ll take a few risks and attempt to destroy the Army of the Potomac if he’s presented with an opportunity.

Gettysburg (1993) - Harrison discovers the presence of Union cavalry.

Gettysburg (1993) – (c) New Line Cinema

On June 29, 1863, Henry Thomas Harrison (Cooper Huckabee), an actor who became a spy for the Confederacy, makes a startling discovery.  He finds Union cavalry in northern Maryland, roughly twenty miles away from the Army of Northern Virginia.  Where there’s cavalry, infantry will follow.  Alarmed by the northern speed of the Army of the Potomac, Harrison races north and finds the Confederate encampment.

Harrison presents this information to CSA General James Longstreet (Tom Berenger), who then takes Harrison to meet with CSA General Robert E. Lee (Martin Sheen).  As crazy as the information about the Federalists sounds, Lee cannot afford to not take the spy’s report as false.  Lee orders his army to turn south and meet the approaching Union army.  It’ll be a confrontation at a Pennsylvanian town called Gettysburg.

Meanwhile, in the Army of the Potomac, Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (Jeff Daniels) is now in command of the 20th Maine Infantry.  His younger brother, Thomas Chamberlain (C. Thomas Howell), has been promoted to the rank of lieutenant and he’s one of the regiment’s officers.  During the battles, Joshua frequently has his brother positioned some distance away from him so that a stray cannon shot won’t kill both of them and give their mother real bad news.

One morning Sgt. Buster Kilrain (Kevin Conway) wakes Colonel Chamberlain with news that they’re about to receive a whole company of mutineers, 120 men, from the disbanded 2nd Maine.  The men signed a three-year agreement to fight with the 2nd Maine.  When the 2nd Maine was disbanded and the rest of the men who signed a two-year agreement were sent home, the 120 men who mistakenly signed a longer contract decided to rebel and no longer fight.  Company commanders decided to send the mutineers to the 20th Maine for Col. Chamberlain to handle. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - July 21, 2013 at 4:55 pm

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Movie Review – Gods and Generals (2003)

As we approach the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War, let’s take a step back and look at the earlier parts of that critical period of American history.

Based on Jeff Shaara’s bestselling novel Gods and Generals, the film documents the early stages of the American Civil War and primarily focuses on life and times of General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.  Gods and Generals takes viewers from just prior to the outbreak of war to the Battles of First Manassas (Bull Run), Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.  The film ends in June of 1863 as General Lee takes his army north into Pennsylvania and the Army of Northern Virginia’s fateful encounter at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Gods and Generals (2003) - movie poster

Directed by Ronald F. Maxwell, produced by Ted Turner, and given a musical score by John Frizzell, Gods and Generals is a prequel to Gettysburg, an epic film from 1993 detailing the historic three-day battle and turning point of the American Civil War.  Gods and Generals stars Stephen Lang as General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson (CSA), Jeff Daniels as Lt. Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (USA), and Robert Duvall as General Robert E. Lee (CSA).

Supporting them are Kevin Conway as Sgt. Buster Kilrain, C. Thomas Howell as Sgt. Thomas Chamberlain, Bruce Boxleitner as General James Longstreet, Mira Sorvino as Fanny Chamberlain, and Kali Rocha as Anna Jackson.  Gods and Generals has a running time of a whopping 219 minutes.

Gods and Generals (2003) - Colonel Robert E. Lee resigns from the United States Army.

Gods and Generals (2003) – (c) Warner Bros. Pictures

Gods and Generals begins in April of 1861 in Washington City (a.k.a. Washington D.C.).  Colonel Robert E. Lee (Robert Duvall) is given the opportunity to command the Union Army, complete with the ranking of major general, and fight against the rebellion growing in the south.  Col. Lee will not fight against his home state of Virginia, so he resigns from the Unites States Army.  He then returns home to Virginia. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - July 2, 2013 at 5:54 pm

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Movie Review – Red Dawn (1984)

Imagine one day you’re out and about, whether it’s at work, at school, out running errands, whatever.  It’s an otherwise normal day.

You glance into the sky and see soldiers parachuting to the ground, landing about a hundred yards away.  It doesn’t matter who the soldiers represent.  They could be Russians, Chinese, Hispanics, Eskimo warriors, giant walking boogers from Venus, etc.  The soldiers scramble to assemble weapons and then begin firing on anybody who approaches, killing people right there on the spot.  Chaos erupts and people flee for their life.

You and a few of your friends manage to escape to a safe area.  While hiding from the soldiers, you ask yourself what you’re going to do next.  Do you stay in hiding and wait out the conflict?  Do you keep running and try to find safety?  Or do you fight back, fighting not only for your country but for your friends and town as well?

Red Dawn (1984) - movie poster

That’s the dilemma facing a group of high school students moments after Soviet troops take over their town in 1984′s thriller, Red Dawn.  The teenagers are suddenly placed unfairly in the middle of a battlefield.  The Soviet troops seize their town and send many of the parents and “troublemakers” to an indoctrination camp.  As tensions escalate, the teens make the decision to take matters into their own hands, conducting guerrilla warfare against the enemy and fighting to save their town.

Red Dawn begins with text explaining the deterioration of conditions around the world and how the United States became an isolated country with the dissolving of NATO, the alliance of countries in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.  The Warsaw Pact, on the other hand, was spreading aggressively and expanding through Central America.

Red Dawn (1984) - Teacher notices soldiers landing outside of the school.

Red Dawn (1984) – (c) Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer Studios, Inc.

It’s an ordinary September morning for residents in the small town of Calumet, ColoradoJed Eckert (played by Patrick Swayze) drops his brother, Matt (played by Charlie Sheen), and friend off at school.  Jed heads off to work at the shop as everybody else heads to class.  While teaching the class about Genghis Khan, their history teacher, Mr. Teasdale, sees soldiers parachuting and landing outside the classroom.  He thinks they’re just ROTC cadets and way off course, but when the teacher tries to talk to the soldiers, they open fire and kill him.  They’re really Soviets.  The soldiers then fire upon the school, killing some students and sending others running for their life.  Cars are shot and most of the students are captured. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - November 14, 2012 at 1:10 am

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Movie Review – Battleship (2012)

What do you get when you combine a massive amount of CGI, an unoriginal plot, and just about every politically correct cliché in today’s military-themed movies?

The answer, folks, is the action-filled and utterly craptastic movie, Battleship.

Battleship (2012) - movie poster

Yes, it seems that not even simple board games are safe from the clutches of Hollywood.  Unfortunately, this really isn’t a surprise these days.  Oh well.

Battleship (2012) - An alien Earth-like planet has been discovered.

Battleship (2012) – (c) Universal Pictures

Battleship begins in 2005 as a dorky scientist at NASA announces the discovery of an Earth-like planet outside of our solar system.  They blast out a signal to the planet using a massive communication array and further boosted via satellites in outer space.  Gee, I hope the extraterrestrials can not only receive the signals in a timely manner, but also understand them and their origins and pay us a peaceful visit. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - May 19, 2012 at 2:46 am

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Movie Review – Rough Riders (1997)

Originally aired as a mini-series on TNT back in 1997, Rough Riders tells the tale of Theodore Roosevelt and his creation of the 1st US Volunteer Cavalry regiment, also known as the Rough Riders.

Rough Riders (1997) movie poster

Rough Riders takes place in 1898 during the Spanish-American War.

Taking place over thirty years after the bloody American Civil War, the United States is once again in another armed conflict.  After the mysterious sinking of the U.S. battleship USS Maine (“Remember the Maine, to Hell with Spain!) in Havana Harbor, Cuba, the U.S. ultimately declared war on Spain.  While battles between the U.S. and Spain took place all over the world from the Philippines to Guam to Cuba and Puerto Rico, the most famous part of the war took place in Cuba.  Specifically, Roosevelt’s Rough Riders and their heroic charge up San Juan Hill.

Rough Riders follows the timeline of the Rough Rider regiment, starting at the sinking of the USS Maine.  Following the sinking, we see the declaration of war, call to service, and the formation and training of the Rough Rider volunteer cavalry regiment.  After that follows the unit being sent to Cuba via Florida, and then the bloody action begins.

Rough Riders (1997) - General Fightin' Joe Wheeler

Rough Riders (1997) – (c) TNT

Rough Riders stars Tom Berenger as Teddy Roosevelt.  Berenger does an amazing job recreating the former president’s speaking style and mannerisms, giving us an accurate glimpse of the legendary adventurer and leader of the free world.  Also starring in Rough Riders is Sam Elliott as Captain Bucky O’Neil, the person responsible for training and leading some of the men.  One of the better supporting roles is Gary Busey as General “Fightin’ Joe” Wheeler, a former Civil War leader.  Other faces appearing in the movie are Brad Johnson as Henry Nash, George Hamilton as William Randolph Hearst, and R. Lee Ermy as Secretary of State John Hay. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - March 1, 2012 at 1:21 am

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Movie Review – Enemy at the Gates (2001)

During World War 2, the Eastern Front was primarily a tale of slaughter and carnage.

In particular, the Russian city of Stalingrad experienced unspeakable terror as the Nazis put the city under siege, hoping to break the Russian backbone and conquer the city.  If the Russian stronghold fell, then the Third Reich would be able to conquer southern Asia and all of its valuable natural resources.  The city was a battleground as the two military forces fought it out during the fall and winter of 1942-43.

Enemy at the Gates (2001) movie poster

Enemy at the Gates tells the story of Russian sniper, Vassili Zaitsev, from his time in the Red Army’s infantry through his climb to glory.  Along the way he loses friends in combat, battles a German marksman (Major Erwin Konig), and manages to fall in love with Tania, a local Stalingrad girl.

It’s the sniper battle with Major Konig where the brunt of the movie takes place.

Enemy at the Gates - Vassili the Russian sniper.

Enemy at the Gates (2001) – (c) Mandalay Pictures

Upon the Major’s arrival in Stalingrad, the movie becomes a cat-and-mouse game as the two skilled hunters battle wit and strategy, hoping to catch the opponent in his sights.  Each of the snipers use his tricks to outwit his opponent, and each one nearly gets shot in the process.  Of course, one of them ultimately falls in battle.  It’s interesting though how the movie reaches that pinnacle, the very moment when the loser realizes that the battle (and his life) is finished. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - February 28, 2012 at 10:06 pm

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Book Review – Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game”

Just yesterday I finished reading the classic science fiction tale, Ender’s Game.

Ordinarily, I’m not a fan of the sci-fi genre.  Well, at least in books.  I love a good science fiction movie, whether it’s a sci-fi/horror film like Event Horizon, an action-oriented movie like The Fifth Element, or just an interesting tale such as 2001: A Space Odyssey.  But when it comes to actually reading science fiction books, that’s normally where I fall a bit short.

I guess the main reason why I normally turn away from science fiction books is that it’s just too difficult for me to imagine the scenarios, whether it’s aboard a super advanced spaceship or involving a weird alien creature or strange world.  That’s a big reason why I have yet to really sit back and start reading fantasy novels.

Ender’s Game has changed my outlook on science fiction literature.

Orson Scott Card --- Ender's Game

Ender’s Game follows along as Andrew “Ender” Wiggin is selected to become part of the I.F., the International Fleet.  His fighting and decision skills have been noted and the six-year-old boy has been selected to attend the elite Battle School, where graduation could ultimately lead to commanding not only a starship but an entire fleet of them.  But first he has to survive Battle School and earn the respect of his fellow classmates, all while avoiding being killed by a bully. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - March 22, 2011 at 2:09 am

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