Archive for May, 2012

A Soldier for a Soldier

Nine-year-old Brendan Haas started with an idea, a toy soldier, and a Facebook page. His goal was to trade his toy soldier for a trip to Disney World, not for himself but for the family of a fallen service member.

“We heard about the guy, how he traded a red paper clip up until he got a house and we wanted to do something,” says the Kingston, Mass native. Armed with his soldier and his “A Soldier for a Soldier Facebook page, Brendan began trading items and growing his network until it spanned the nation and he reached his goal: tickets to Disney World, airfare, a stay at the Disney Villas and almost $900 in Disney gift certificates. All that remained was to choose a winner.

“People just posted that they had lost some family members in the war and we put them in the raffle.” +Continue Reading

Avengers Hangover

Now that The Avengers has established all kinds of box office records, it’s time for the studio to start thinking about a sequel. We like this idea: Fear and Avenging in Las Vegas, a mashup that bolts the plot of The Hangover onto the Marvel comics universe.

2nd RIC(A): The First, Last and Only All-Black Ranger Unit

Armies are temples of ancestor worship. Basil Liddell Hart 1944

Took this at the bookstore when I bought the book. (Note: Outlaw Platoon is superb; I’ll be writing a review of it soon.)

Ed. note: We’ve revisiting classic military books and movies here at UTR.. If any of our readers have favorites they want to share, let us know.

If Korea is, as they say, the ‘forgotten war’, how much more forgotten is a small all-black unit that fought therein?

Before I met Col. McGee I’d heard about many of the all-black and all-Japanese units from the days of military segregation, but a cursory knowledge of the Tuskegee Airmen and Redtails (largely from the movies) and some of the support units (like the Airfield Security Battalions) was about the extent of it. I certainly hadn’t realized there were still completely segregated units in Korea (Executive Order 9981 was in 1948 after all), though I probably should have. +Continue Reading

Diablo 3: Nostalgia, Chagrin, Slaughter and Disappointment

The proper cover for Diablo III.

Diablo 3…hmmm.…

I was a teenager when I fell in love with its predecessor, and thirteen years later, this is far and away the biggest release I and millions of other fans been waiting for, including the drool-inducing months leading up to Skyrim, Mass Effect 3, and anything-at-all in the Assassin’s Creed series.  It is the sequel to the game which spawned an entire eponymous genre (ie., Diablo Clones), so expectations were astronomical (grunts, note: the Mad Duo said for you to look here).  As soon as I got home from work on the 15th, I plunked myself down to play this thing.  After the first wave of nostalgia wore off, though, I gradually began to question the whole ordeal.

The graphics were far and away the best thing about the game (trailers were awesome).  The movie sequences were photo-realistic and crisp, and the in-game graphics had been touched up as much as they could without coming up with a new system (3rd person clickers are, after all, rather limited).  The color palettes went a long way toward immersing the player in the story, and rewarding them with spectacular explosions and effects depending on their abilities.  Overall, I’d give graphics a 9– always room for improvement, but nothing that really wowed me. +Continue Reading

Sleep, Comrades, Sleep and Rest…

Rest comrades, rest and sleep!

Please spend a few moments, at least, doing what is right on Memorial Day. If you have watched it in person, you should. It is, in a word, humbling. Listen for the rifle salute from the funeral in the background. Watch for the woman in the wheelchair who shows her respect.

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Return to Tarawa for Memorial Day

As you prepare for Memorial Day observances this weekend, you might want to check out Return to Tarawa, showing free online this weekend courtesy of SnagFilms. Filmmaker Steven C. Barber’s documentary follows World War II veteran Leon Cooper’s return to “Red Beach.” Cooper, a veteran of the battle of “Bloody Tarawa,” returned to Tarawa in February 2008 in order to learn more about reports he had read about garbage on the fabled “Red Beach.”

In November 1943, Leon, a US Navy landing craft officer, helped launch the first major amphibious assault on a Central Pacific Japanese stronghold. Leon is dismayed to discover that this hallowed ground is strewn with garbage rotting in the sun, a painful insult to the sacrifice his fellow marines made for their country, during one of the bloodiest three-day battles in American war history. Cooper’s trip is full of wonder, anger, amazement and divine providence as he and film maker Steven C. Barber visit what Leon suspects to be the graves of hundreds of Marines still buried on Tarawa. Follow Leon Cooper’s trip back in time, as narrated by Oscar-nominated actor, Ed Harris.

SnagFilms streams over 3,000 documentaries online and offers a great selection of films in apps designed for several mobile platforms including iPad, Android, Kindle, Roku and Boxee. You can watch Return to Tarawa on the iPad app this weekend.

Did Battleship Sink G.I. Joe?

Not everyone liked Battleship as much as we did. The $209-million epic did only $25.3 million at the box office on opening weekend, just a few hundred thousand more than low-budget powerhouse Act of Valor. That crash-and-burn disaster might have given game-maker Hasbro and Paramount Pictures cold feet about this summer’s release of G.I. Joe: Retaliation.

The studio announced yesterday that they’ve canceled (sorry, delayed) the movie’s June 29th release so they can go back add convert the film to 3D. The new opening date for the action picture is March 29, 2013. +Continue Reading

Ghost Recon: The Movie

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Future Solider hit stores this week and, instead of just offering the usual gameplay trailers, Ubisoft took that extra step and made an actual 23-minute, full-production movie that acts as a prequel to the game. Ghost Recon Alpha was produced by Ridley Scott’s company, directed by François Alaux, Hervé de Crécy, and Ludovic Houplain (the Oscar-winning team behind Logorama) and written by Children of Men screenwriter Tim Sexton.

The movie stars Mark Ivanir, one of those bit part character actors you’re sure to recognize from one of the dozens of movies or TV shows in which he’s appeared and a cameo appearance by Charlotte Rampling. You can even buy your own copy of the movie on Blu-ray.

Ghost Recon Alpha is more entertaining than Battleship but not as good as Act of Valor. We’ll report back soon on the quality of the actual game.

Talking Act of Valor

Military​.com hosted the 2012 Milblog conference May 11–12 in Arlington, VA and one of the highlights was a visit from Act of Valor co-director Scott Waugh, who was in town to promote the movie’s June 5th release on Blu-ray and DVD. We loved AOV back when it opened back in February and the $12-million film’s $24.5 million opening box office weekend looks even more impressive after this past weekend’s Battleship release. That $209 million Pentagon-approved studio picture barely made it it a $25.3 million gross even after they slapped the Battleship logo all over Coke Zero cans and Subway sandwich wrappers.

Scott sat down for a wide-ranging interview with Miltary​.com editor Ward Carroll that was streamed live by our friends at the You Served military blog. They preserved the evidence so now you can watch Scott tell Ward why fellow director Mike “Mouse” McCoy wasn’t available to join us and explode a lot of myths about just how the movie got made. He’s particularly eloquent when he talks about how close he got to the SEALs and their families during production and how important it was for him to get their stories right.

Battleship Avoids Naval Disaster

Message to U.S. taxpayers: your pricey military technology may be no match for alien Master Chiefs from Planet Goldilocks. Also, Navy-approved commanders would likely get torched early in the conflict, making the world’s only hope a bunch of misfits who deserve to get kicked out of the service.

That’s the appropriate, Pentagon-approved message delivered in Peter Berg’s new movie Battleship, a Hollywood blockbuster with at least a passing connection to the Hasbro board game we all played as kids.

It’s not surprising that a movie who script was allegedly concocted on the fly is a giant mess, but it is surprising that the mess is a lot more entertaining that the sub–Transformers movie a lot of us expected. The free-spirit-who-learns-to-lead plotline is as hackneyed and boring as you’d expect and Taylor Kitsch (who also starred in that John Carter trainwreck) and former Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker really can’t act a lick, but Berg (who also directed Friday Night Lights) makes sure the supporting cast has interesting things to do. +Continue Reading