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"What is a sign of a bad war movie?" Topic

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Action Log

08 Apr 2019 5:07 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Removed from TMP Poll Suggestions boardCrossposted to Historical Media board

Areas of Interest


1,260 hits since 5 Jan 2017
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Personal logo Jlundberg Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2017 1:55 p.m. PST

I have been watching some bad war movies -some from a cheap dvd set my wife gave me a couple of years ago and the bad ones seem to have some things in common.
All Germans are armed with MP40's
Uniforms are just wrong – in one the German "paratroopers" all wore Hauptman (Captain insignia)
Tanks are just wrong – not the fake Tiger of Kelly's Heroes but Pattons or Sheridans
Haircuts – mullets on WWII troops
Stereotypes – All officers are medal hungry glory hounds, all NCOs are hardbitten and know more about running the military

Personal logo David Manley Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2017 2:04 p.m. PST

Hollywood retelling of a historical event

GarrisonMiniatures05 Jan 2017 2:10 p.m. PST

Made in Hollywood is certainly a good starting point.

VCarter Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2017 2:19 p.m. PST

You only ever see 5 guys in the platoon (or was it a company) in the whole movie.

Very wrong kit – WWII with FN or M-113.

Uwe Boll – as in Tunnel Rats.

Norman D Landings05 Jan 2017 2:27 p.m. PST

None but the last point of the OP have got anything whatsoever to do with whether a film is "bad" or not.

They have to do with whether a film is visually accurate or not.

Warning signs for a "bad" war film: the plot conceit of having the central characters Trapped Behind Enemy Lines.
This seems to be a recent trope among the straight-to-DVD bargain-bin offerings.
When you read it on the back of the box, prepare for a zero-budget extravaganza with a cast of z-listers.

(Note that movies with a plot concerning a Mission Behind Enemy Lines are subtly different, in that they usually feature team selection, training, infiltration, etc, and include some of the best WWII cinema.)

Also; "Mockbusters"; Low budget knock-offs of recent blockbusters.
"Ardennes Fury", anybody?

Personal logo Virtualscratchbuilder Supporting Member of TMP Fezian05 Jan 2017 2:35 p.m. PST

When the tripods from the American battleships in Tora Tora Tora show up in some other naval battle movie like Midway…. or when the ship blowing up is obviously a Renwal model, like in In Harm's Way.

Dynaman878905 Jan 2017 2:39 p.m. PST

Bad acting, bad writing, bad cinematography. Patton is one of the finest war movies around and it breaks two of the rules – with the exception of Bradley not being a Glory hound.

dwight shrute05 Jan 2017 3:14 p.m. PST

exploding cannonballs , and Mel Gibson …

Personal logo Jlundberg Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2017 3:23 p.m. PST

would go with explosive projectiles for any period prior to 1850.

I would say that the visuals that I referred to earlier are signs of casual disregard and disinterest of the producers – which is also a sign of haphazard production and scant effort.

Winston Smith05 Jan 2017 3:30 p.m. PST

Hollywood retelling of a historical event.

That's about it.
I know we will have people chirping in here to ask why blah blah blah.
The reason is simple.
The purpose of a movie is to make money for the studio. Period. That means cutting expenses and maximizing sales.
The typical customer is Larry who wants to get lucky tonight. He doesn't really care if the tanks are right or if the facings on the uniform are the right shade of green.
Why do you think Hollywood should care? They are producing a product to make money.
People who actually care about such trivia make up 0.02% of the movie going populace. Get used to if you aren't already.

Tacitus05 Jan 2017 3:40 p.m. PST

if it's domestic (US) and I've never heard of anybody in it, It is not going to be good…

USAFpilot05 Jan 2017 3:41 p.m. PST

Commanders in bad war movies are always stating the obvious. Like yelling "take cover" in the middle of your position getting bombarded. Kind of obvious, don't you think. Or "commence the attack", oh really, is that what we are here for, thanks for letting us know the obvious. Or yelling "retreat" after the battle in over and your side lost, no kidding. dumb da dumb dumb…

John Treadaway05 Jan 2017 3:48 p.m. PST

All of the above. Having said that, the country financing the film putting their own influences on it so that "extra characters" are inserted to allow appeal to a… certain audience really hacks me off.

So as to avoid the dawg house for what might appear to be an attack – which it isn't – (and stretching this beyond war films) I'll include the 1986 Biggles film, the 'extravaganza' that was League of Extraordinary Gentlemen ("A modern day warrior, Mean, mean stride, Today's Tom Sawyer Mean, mean pride…") and we'll swing right back to the opening 'winning the Battle of Britain for the British' section at the start of the (already appalling) Pearl Harbour and let you all draw your own conclusions.

John Treadaway

Personal logo David Manley Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2017 4:02 p.m. PST

"The reason is simple."

Why do you have to ruin things by bringing facts into play? :)

Tomg33305 Jan 2017 4:10 p.m. PST

Mel Gibson

Personal logo Nashville Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2017 4:53 p.m. PST



wearing winter clothing and no cold breath coming from soldier's mouth


and , yes, Mel Gibson:

Personal logo Grelber Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2017 5:02 p.m. PST

Total lack of knowledge of how an army works. The latest version of Four Feathers had the British retreating and lots of troops straggling along, scattered all over. The men would have known this was a great way to guarantee they got killed by the Dervishes, one by one. There would also have been a rear guard to keep the Dervishes away from the main army. Of course, the British didn't historically suffer such a defeat.

It seems to me war movies used to be proud to proclaim that their production was "The most realistic war movie ever!" You have to wonder what happened.

Check the credits for Patton: Omar Bradley was the military adviser, so, yes, he came out looking pretty good.


robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2017 5:14 p.m. PST

The OOB looks like a totem pole. One Colonel, One Captain, One Sergeant.

Gone Fishing05 Jan 2017 5:21 p.m. PST

It's always surprised me how many WWII films get the hair wrong. First we had the mutton chops and shaggy hair visible in Cross of Iron and its ilk, and then the weird Nazi buzz cuts seen in films like Saving Private Ryan. The difficulty in getting proper tanks, even uniforms, I can understand, but haircuts? It just strikes me as odd.

Coyotepunc and Hatshepsuut05 Jan 2017 5:32 p.m. PST

#1 sign of a bad war movie: you don't enjoy it

#1 sign of a good war movie: you enjoy watching it

nevals05 Jan 2017 5:35 p.m. PST

For me is always the haircuts. Roman legionaries, Arthur's knights,Wild West cowboys, WW2 fighters- all brandishing the hair styles of the moment the movie was made. I heard Charlton Heston was a stickler for these things, especially for hair and facial hair. It had to be correct of the era. Apparently, Russell Crowe is the same.

14Bore05 Jan 2017 6:07 p.m. PST

It has to be plausible, no 2 guys vs a whole division. And my pet peeve wearing American helmets but only the inner shell, lots of movies do this.

Mako1105 Jan 2017 6:41 p.m. PST

Usually, any remake of a previous one.

VCarter Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2017 6:44 p.m. PST

Iron Triangle – mostly good movie showing how the NLF/NVA operated, however…

Jeff Bridges unit gets ambushed and he jumps on on top of a boulder in the middle of. stream yelling "take cover".

Terrement05 Jan 2017 7:17 p.m. PST


Frederick Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2017 8:10 p.m. PST

Stereotype characters – the evil Oriental/Russkie/Nazi/terrorist

Recycling the same old tired scripts

Massive close combat with the hero getting clobbered time and again and getting up (you know, getting hit in the head with a 2 by 4 slows most people down a bit)

mandt205 Jan 2017 9:10 p.m. PST

The cast includes all the most popular stars, singers, and Vegas performers (including at least one comedian), all playing themselves.

Mako1106 Jan 2017 2:36 a.m. PST

Ones not starring John Wayne.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Jan 2017 3:27 a.m. PST

Two words = "critically acclaimed."

That means it met all the important historical, political, and military criteria of people who couldn't pass civics in secondary school.

parrskool06 Jan 2017 4:58 a.m. PST

Tight trousers.

ZULUPAUL Supporting Member of TMP06 Jan 2017 5:18 a.m. PST

Brad Pitt

Personal logo Grelber Supporting Member of TMP06 Jan 2017 6:09 a.m. PST

Internal contradictions can be annoying, too. Like one character telling everybody they have to retreat, then showing us a map where they actually plan to get closer to the enemy. (LOTR, Théoden's proposed "retreat" from Edoras to Helm's Deep).


redbanner414506 Jan 2017 6:09 a.m. PST

All the tanks are Walker Bulldogs.

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP06 Jan 2017 7:37 a.m. PST

The reviews highlight that "the uniforms were very realistic"

BlackJoke06 Jan 2017 7:52 a.m. PST

Love interests dominating story, I mean this is a War movie not a chick flick.

Competent peaple doing stupid stuff, I know it is often a plot device to move things in a direcction, but come on find a better way.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse06 Jan 2017 7:59 a.m. PST

For Anciet/Medieval:

Armor is only for show, You got a thick mail coat, gambison or full plate, then someone lightly taps you with a sword and you die instantly. As seen in almost every movie made.

Everybody charging headlong into the other side, no formations no clear lines, no use of shields, basically football brawl with fake swords, as shown in almost every movie made.

Troops training with shields, but when fighting enemies drop their shields(GoT is very bad at this)

Hero taking of his helmet/not wearing a helmet so he looks cooler.

For general war movies I will parrot every one using Thompson/MP40

Stormtrooper Germans(saving private ryan anyone?)
Using Vietnam era hand signals during WW2(Saving private Ryan anyone?

Weasel06 Jan 2017 8:37 a.m. PST

Mel Gibson probably.

Scorpio06 Jan 2017 9:20 a.m. PST

Came to drag Mel Gibson, glad to see I am in good company.

14Bore06 Jan 2017 3:59 p.m. PST

Hacksaw Ridge was pretty good

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP06 Jan 2017 4:43 p.m. PST

It 'Bombs' at the cinema!

wrgmr106 Jan 2017 8:35 p.m. PST

The good guys always hit.
The bad guys always miss.

Fury: two German pak 40's shooting at four Shermans on a flat open field miss every time.
The two pak's get thumped after 2 or three shots.

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