World War Z – How I would have changed it

I realize that there’s ideologies involved in the movie. however, let me explain how different the movie would have been if I could have written it.

My readers may well start a petition drive by the end of this short article.

First… there’s guns everywhere. Gerry shoots a man in the Walgreens, and… they run out the door, leaving that gun lying there.

Stupid. Heros should grab every gun they see in a disaster/end of the world situation.

Let’s contrast that with a horror movie I saw in the ’80’s, where the Hero breaks into a gun shop, loads up on everything he needs, and leaves a big wad of cash wrapped in rubber bands on the counter as he leaves.

Why? Essentially, you’re in an “Invading army” scenario. Reloading takes time, and sometimes it simply is far more effective to grab a second gun and shoot.

In addition, you need strength in numbers. Everyone who joins you, will need a weapon. The more you pick up as you go along, the better you’ll be.

Second… Gerry is supposed to be a UN Investigator. He’s got to have combat experience. The rundown from the ship’s captain makes that clear. He’s not very inventive about clearing out the “Zekes”, the way that a man in that job would have been. As a matter of fact, he shows he’s all too willing to drop every weapon almost as soon as he gets it.

Third – anyone with the kind of build-up they give Gerry would have immediately responded in one way upon finding out his wife and daughters were taken off the ship. “Let me speak to the Captain. Here’s how it is. I’m going to find your answers. And when I’m done, I’m coming for you.”

The movie demanded it. I’m sure the audience left unsatisfied, wanting to see vengeance over Gerry’s family being kicked off the ship.

Really, I don’t know if Max Brooks was satisfied with the movie or not. Brooks went so far as to give survival tips in his book, most of which the movie ignored. I suppose if I ever meet him, I’ll interview him to find his thoughts on the movie.

And I’ll put it up here.

That’s my thoughts. The movie was good, but I felt it could have been better


Movie Review Patton

Well, then. This was a movie I used to watch with my dad, who was Special Forces Vietnam with the Marine Corps. As far as I know, he was the only US Marine attached to a special group normally made of paratroopers and airborne rangers.

Anyway, my dad and I used to watch Patton, and my dad would lecture me as if I was the Officer Class at the Navy War College. I learned HUGE amounts about military history, combat, and etc. And one thing my dad said really stuck with me: “Patton was too good for the Army. He should have been in the Corps.”

The story of Patton showed me that brute competence often fails in the face of vanity and squawking. Incidentally, the reason I have a disdain for Field Marshall Bernard Law Montgomery is that his accomplishments failed to rise to his own pomp and expectations. Montgomery was convinced that given all the material, men, munitions and support, he could single-handedly win the war. And every time they gave him that chance, he managed to get thousands of men slaughtered, and crawl for 50 yards a day.

When Patton was given a fraction of the same consideration, he very often flew for 50 miles a day.

It was no wonder that General Frank McCarthy decided he was going to make a movie that would vindicate Patton.

Ready for some trivia about the movie?

  • General Bradley and McCarthy were standing there watching the first screen test where George C. Scott put on Patton’s uniform for the first time. “It was George Scott one minute, and George Patton the next.” Was how Bradley described it. It’s not the makeup or the uniform that does it. Sheer talent as an actor, something woefully missing today, is what did it.
  • All of the equipment was genuine. Every last airplane, tank, jeep and artillery was authentic World War 2 equipment. The soldiers were all Spanish, since Spain had been given all of the war surplus material at the end of world war 2, mostly in a reparations method after the Spanish Civil war, where Hitler had tested all of his various designs.
  • The first day of filming, George Scott sat in his trailer unable to move until one in the afternoon. He was in dread panic about his ability to play the part. He then went out at 1 in the afternoon, and by 4, they’d completed the shooting schedule.
  • The role of Hauptmann Steiger was invented by Coppola for the purpose of getting exposition into the movie.
  • The King Tiger scene almost went horribly wrong. The soldier who is run over has to pull his hand back quickly to avoid it being crushed by the tank treads.
  • There’s a scene where the Battle of the Bulge is being planned. Karl Mulden was playing Omar Bradley, and apparently they needed one more shot of everyone at the table… but Mulden couldn’t be found. So… Omar Bradley put on the coat Mulden had been wearing, and sits down for the filming. See if you can spot it.
  • One war scene was filmed when the Spanish Army decided enough was enough, and at 2 in the afternoon abruptly left the set to go get lunch. As the men marched off in the snow, the director started setting off explosions in the snow as if they were being shelled, and the panicky run of the soldiers is not faked.
  • The Patton family attended the first showing of the movie, and Scott’s portrayal of Patton was so convincing it reduced his son to tears.
  • The first actor the studio had approached to play Patton quit after reading the first draft of the script, mostly over the weird reincarnation references and the intro scene of Patton in front of the flag.
  • George SCott was opposed to opening the movie with the first scene. His complaint was not that it was weird, but that he felt the performance required was too “high” for him to maintain the entire rest of the movie, and he felt if that was how they wanted to do it, they should have filmed it first instead of last, so he could have done a better acting job!
  • George Patton had only one butt cheek, due to a serious injury he’d gotten in world war 1. They should have put a flat piece of plastic in Scott’s pants to show that.
  • The jeep driver in the “Cartheginian” scene is actually Chet Hanson, the personal aide of Omar Bradley.
  • One of the German Generals is actually the director of cinematography.
  • The camera system (Dimension 150) used for Patton was used only for one other movie: The Bible.
  • There are three distinct elements to the theme for Patton: Reincarnation, Praying Man,and Warrior.
  • Coppola wrote the movie based upon the book by Codman. The studio had purchased two other books instead.
  • George Scott’s nose is modified with clay to give the Patton “chiseled feature.”
  • The original script written by Coppola used as much authentic dialogue as he could find from the books he had on Patton.

The telling moment about Patton is not in the movie Patton, but actually in “A bridge too far”. Field Marshal Rundstedt is debating with Field Marshall Model about who will lead the assault on Holland. Model looks up, and with obvious distaste in his voice, says.. “Patton.”

Rundstedt nods. “It will be Patton, I would prefer Montgomery, but of course, Eisenhower is not that stupid.”

Eisenhower would indeed choose Montgomery.

The Lost Battalion Review

I started on this topic the other day.

If you have never seen this movie, expect to have your heart torn out. This is the kind of writing every author should aspire to.

You are introduced to Major Whittlesey in the opening scenes of the movie, and you right away know who and what he is.

You are introduced to two characters from New York, and the way they explain battlefield hazards for the new soldiers tells you EVERYTHING about them.

You know all about Private Yoder from the beginning. You know about Private Lapastie too. You get a glimpse of Krotoschevski, and it hints at greatness.

You understand Major Prinz. you understand General Alexander.

you understand Private Chen, and agonize with him. He’s been ordered to stay behind alone, and you see from his face he knows he’s going to die – yet he stays at his post anyway.

And the characters develop. One of the single greatest movie scenes of all times goes to Private Krotoschevski, with the “I took the test” speech to Private Lapastie. See if it doesn’t make your heart swell with pride! Can YOU write a speech like that?

The friendship between Private Lapastie and Yoder, which at first almost ended up in blows, is astounding. Try to write something like that!

And if you can create a character like Major Charles Whittlesey, you deserve an income rivaling that of any best selling author. Rick Schroeder’s portrayal of Whittlesey deserved awards.

Watching this movie should be required for all writers. The scene where Private Rosen slowly hands a dog tag to Major Whittlesey, who reluctantly accepts it… you should study every second of it. Put it on frame by frame, and FORCE yourself to describe it.

“Rosen stops in front of Whittlesey, tears slowly running down his grimy face. He hesitantly extends his arm, soaked with the blood of his best friend, the encrusted dog tag suspended from his weary fingers. His face becomes set, the slight nod telling Whittelsey everytihng the Major was dreading.”

“Whittelsey, the agony on his face, slowly reaches for the dog tag. The look that passes between them speaks loudly. No word is spoken. none was needed. In that understanding glance, Rosen saw the agony in Whittlesey’s face, the tears beginning to cut through the soot on the Major’s face. For every dog tag in the Major’s hands, he was inwardly dying a thousand deaths.”

“In that moment, Rosen saw who the Major was. And he vowed to himself that if the Major at that moment ordered them all to march to Berlin and hunt down Kaiser Wilhelm and make him pay for this war, make him pay for the deaths of so many fine men… Rosen would not hesitate. He would follow Whittelsey to the grave. It was the same thought he’d though a dozen times in the last four days. ‘I will follow this man, not for duty’s sake. But because he cares.'”

“Whittelsey binds the dog tag to the too-large bundle in his hand. He can put a face to every dog tag. He can recall a conversation with every man who’d had it. He can recall a moment of valor from every one of them And the knowledge haunts Whittelsey. ‘These men are dead because I ordered them to be here.’ Whittelsey, unable to bear it a moment longer, looks down, his chin trembling. ‘These men are better than me.’ He thinks again, for the hundredth time that day.”

“He will never be able to sleep well again. He glances at Captain McMurty and nods. No words need to be said. McMurty nods, and looks away. He is changed by working with Whittlesey. He now is overcome by the knowledge of how great these men who’ve died at their orders were.”

If you’re a writer, watch this movie a dozen times. Force yourself to novel-ize parts of it. the first watching of this movie is traumatic. If you do not cry at least once, you are probably a sociopath. Trust me when I say, literally, this movie should be required watching for every would-be author.