News Ticker

Hollywood’s Fascination With War Movies

With the recent release of Michael Bay’s film ’13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi’, the PCU Crew got to talking about whether or not there was an uptick in big-budget war-themed movies.  Aside from 2015 (in which there were smaller-budget war films released) there seems to have been at least one put out every year for the past few years.

2014 saw the release of ‘Lone Survivor’; the story of four Navy SEALs on a covert mission to neutralize a high-level Taliban operative, when they are ambushed in the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan.  Starring Taylor Kitsch, Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch, Eric Bana, & Alexander Ludwig; the film received largely positive reviews, and has been hailed for portraying the story in as true-to-life form as possible.

In 2012 (in the USA) & 2013 (worldwide), moviegoers filled theaters to see Kathryn Bigelow’s superbly-directed story of the manhunt to find Osama Bin Laden, ‘Zero Dark Thirty’.  With a cast headed up by Jessica Chastain & Chris Pratt, the film rated quite high on the critic radar (yet received mixed reviews from the public), and was the recipient of multiple awards.

January of 2012 brought us the WWII tale of the experimental Tuskegee program, in the film ‘Red Tails’.  Director Anthony Hemingway made his big-screen directorial debut with this historical drama, which was released to relatively poor reviews nationwide.  Many critics panned the film for being a “cheap-looking, message-heavy machine of poor dialogue, worse performances, and some of the blandest action pieces put to film”.  Rotten Tomatoes stated that it suffered from “one-dimensional characters, corny dialogue, and heaps of clichés”.

2011 gave us the release of the highly-acclaimed ‘War Horse’.  In the Spielberg-directed film (nominated for a Best Motion Picture’ Academy Award), Jeremy Irvine masterfully portrayed the character of ‘Albert Narracott’; a young man who enlists in the army to serve in World War I after his beloved horse is sold to the cavalry.  Albert’s search for his childhood horse takes him out of England and to the front lines, as the film portrays a gritty yet heartfelt look at the bonds of friendship.  ‘War Horse’ garnered rave reviews, and went on to be nominated for a total of 67 awards – winning 16 of those.

In March of 2010, ‘Green Zone’ (starring Matt Damon) was brought to US audiences.  Based on the nonfiction book, Imperial Life in the Emerald City, the movie mirrored events at the time about the search for weapons of mass destruction in, and the subsequent invasion of Iraq by US military forces.  The film had a budget of $100 million to produce, but only grossed $94,882,549 in global revenue.  Critics were torn on the film, with high marks coming from Roger Ebert, who called it “one hell of a thriller”, and low marks coming from The Daily Mail in the UK, calling the movie, “a preachy political thriller disguised as an action flick”.

Historically, there have been classic war movies such as ‘Saving Private Ryan’, ‘Full Metal Jacket’, and of course, Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘Apocalypse Now’.  However, each of those came out many years apart.  Today’s world political climate seems rife with material for these films, but does it really necessitate putting out war films so frequently?

There are those among the film & sociopolitical communities who would say that a lot of the recent films have been an attempt at propaganda.  in 2012, a documentary called ‘Hollywood and the Pentagon: A Dangerous Liason‘ was produced, which detailed (and exposed) the working “relationship” that Hollywood has with the US government.  The film showed that in order to get access & allowed use of current military equipment, filmmakers have to allow the Pentagon to review (and make changes to) their scripts.  Additionally, movies such as 1986’s wildly popular ‘Top Gun‘ and Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Full Metal Jacket‘ were purported to be a driving cause behind public enlistment into the military.  Some people believe that the reason behind this is that these movies elicit feelings of patriotism in their audiences, which makes people want to go out & sign up to protect their homelands.

Regardless of how you feel about the state of the world as it is now, it seems that art will continue to imitate life, and Hollywood will continue to pump out these gritty, high-budget war films.  At least practical special effects experts will continue to have work.

About Doug T. (491 Articles)
A lifelong gamer, disabilities advocate, avowed geek, and serious foodie. Doug was born in South America, currently resides in Northern VA, and spends the majority of his time indulging in his current passions of gaming & food, while making sure not to take life or himself too seriously.
%d bloggers like this: