Top Ten Military Movies 2000-2009

Ready for a fight? Want to watch the best war movies that debuted in the past nine years? Here are the Real Military Network’s pick for the best War films of the past nine years:

1. Gladiator (2000): For the quintessential story of a Roman soldier, the fictional General Maximus Decimus Meridius played by Russell Crowe, who journeys from a General who led legions in battle, to a slave, to a gladiator who defied an Emperor. The opening battle scene is one of the most dramatic ancient Roman war scenes ever filmed.

2. Taegukgi (2004): This Korean made film is the “Saving Private Ryan” of the Republic of Korea and worth your time. It vividly portrays the Korean war (1950-1953), with superbly crafted battle scenes, from perspective of both South and North Koreans.

3. 300 (2007): Highly stylized, but exhilarating, this film depicts the passion and fury of the famous stand of the Spartan 300 against the Persians at narrow pass at Thermopylae. Thermopylae is an important battles to the development of western culture and this is a must see war film to understand why the story of the 300 Spartans resonates to this day.

4. The Alamo (2004): As much as I respect John Wayne movies, this is, bar none, the best Alamo movie ever made. Most historians agree that “The Alamo (2004)” is the most accurate depiction the battle for the beleaguered Texan fortress ever filmed. It is also the most dramatic.

5. “Flags of Our Fathers” (2006) and Letters from Iwo Jima (2006): For an excellent depiction of the ferocity of the fighting for Iwo Jima (1944) and for showing both sides of the battle.

6. Kingdom of Heaven (2005), for superb battle scenes of the Crusades and the depiction of the Battle (Siege) of Jerusalem.

7. Enemy at the Gates (2001), depiction of the Battle of Stalingrad; for the depiction of the dramatic and monumental Battle for Stalingrad, 1942-1943.

8. The War (in Russian: ?????) (2002) , for its graphic depiction of modern combat in Chechnya during the second Chechen War 1999-2000. This film provides accurate insights to the corrupt Chechen militia, incompetent Russian Army, and the Russian’s careless attitude concerning the plight of their soldiers who were captured by the Chechens. The film was made in Russia, but was produced in Russian and English.

9. Napoleon (2002) (TV mini-series): For an exciting view of Napoleonic Warfare. The first episode dramatically depicts young Napoleon’s first Italian campaign and his heroic leadership at the Battle of Arcole. This mini-series also depicts the Battles of Eylau, Austerlitz, Waterloo and the retreat from Russia.

10. The Great Raid (2005), for telling a forgotten story of great courage by a group of US Army Rangers who rescue U.S. and Pilipino POWs from a Japanese prison camp during WWII.

Honorable Mentions:

1. The Lost Battalion (2001), for the only WWII war movie of substance created within the 2000-2009 time period.

2. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003), for brining to life the tactics of naval warfare during the Napoleonic Wars.

3. Saints and Soldiers (2003) for an excellent tale about the Battle of the Bulge during WWII, (December 1944)

4. Hannibal – Rome’s Worst Nightmare (2006), this BBC TV depiction of the Second Punic War). The epic battle of Carthage and Rome is dramatically shown in this excellent film.

5. The Patriot (2000), depiction of the American Revolution and particularly for the depiction of the tactics used in the final battle, which is based on the Battle of Cowpens. In the Patriot, Mel Gibson plays the Benjamin Martin, a character loosely modeled after Francis Marion, the famous Southern militia leader known as the Swamp Fox.

Maverick Approach to Movie Making

The term maverick is used to describe people that are viewed as unconventional and independent, and do not think or behave in the same way as other people. There are many aspiring indie filmmakers out there that take a maverick approach to making movies and end up failing. They waste their talent, time, and money trying to run before they can walk.

Being a maverick filmmaker is cool so long as you understand what it takes to succeed in the movie business. “Know the rules before you break them” is a good saying to remember. You can’t make a name for yourself in the movie business if you do not know how it works. If you’re the type of person that does not listen to sound advice or is a know-it-all, then there is no benefit in continuing reading. If you’re the type of person that is open-minded to new information then this will speak to you.

Some aspiring indie filmmakers are influenced by what they read and hear about famous filmmakers. So and so refused to compromise their creative vision and made the studio back down. That’s how they game is played in Hollywood, but not at the true independent film level. A independent filmmaker that lets their ego control their actions is doomed to fail. The cast and crew on a indie movie are not being paid enough, if they are being paid at all, to deal with a indie filmmaker that is too difficult to work with.

They will either walk off your project or turn in lackluster efforts that will be painfully obvious when you go to edit your movie. Post production never lies. Independent film budgets are tight with no wiggle room for extra shooting days. Many times the seed money to produce a indie movie comes from friends and family of the filmmaker. Not to compromise your creative vision when it’s absolutely necessary to finish the movie is insanity, not to mention selfish. If I personally invested money into a friend or relatives movie I would hope they would control their ego in order to finish the movie.

I’ve always felt making a movie does not give a person the creative license to waste other peoples money. Especially if that money comes from friends and family. I treat investors money as it were my own. Before you shoot your movie it’s a good idea to highlight scenes of your script that are crucial to your creative vision. This is only my opinion, but I have yet to see a movie where every scene is epic. I have yet to talk to another screenwriter that told me that every bit of dialogue and scene they wrote is amazing. Some dialogue and scenes are simply there to keep the story moving. I hang out with an honest bunch of indie filmmakers and we pretty much agree every movie has filler written into it.

It might hurt a unrealistic filmmaker to think that way, but brutal honesty is amazing for the growth of a healthy creative spirit. When you are going through your script highlight filler scenes that are not crucial to your creative vision. Those will be the first scenes to be cut down or removed all together when time and money begin to run out. At the indie movie making level time and money always run out. Be prepared to make changes to your movie and creative vision if push comes to shove. During production of my first feature Consignment I had to rewrite scenes on the spot or the movie would die. I do not feel I compromised my creative vision by making radical changes on the set. I was able to overcome obstacles to finish the movie. Isn’t finishing a movie what it’s all about?

That lead to what I wanted to share with you today, Avoid being a inflexible film snob. Sometimes the situation will demand you adapt your creative vision. Coming in with the attitude that you are flexible will help you deal with things that can kill a movie. Like an actor quitting, a difficult crew member, the loss of a location, or a equipment problem. A lot can go wrong when you are making movie. The more open you are to not to waste energy fighting against what is and finding a fix, the better off you will be as a movie maker.

By no means do you have to be a doormat when making your movie, but you don’t have to be a razor blade either. Blessed is the indie filmmaker that can find and connect with their creative balance. There are a lot of solid life lessons I’ve learned making movies. If you take nothing else from what you’ve read here, take this, “control your ego, do not let your ego control you.” This is indie filmmaker Sid Kali typing FADE TO BLACK.

Starting Your Screenplay With a Popular Film Opening

The beginning of your script must always have an original scent to it, while at the same time it must have a feeling of familiarity. Many screenwriters are stumped on this aspect of scriptwriting, and that is exactly why I will be discussing a few of the popular and classic openings to a movie. Let’s get the script piñata and beat the crap out of it, shall we?

THE BIG-BANG OPENING. This is a brilliant format for action-adventure type movies. You can start with a set piece that will place your characters right in the middle of action. When you think most of the action genre, think of the successful James Bond franchise. Generally, Bond will be somewhere doing some abstract mission and beating the crap out of the enemy. This automatically shifts the audience into fifth gear and tells them that this movie is going to be action packed. Remember not to go overboard with the action sequences within your set piece since later on you’ll need to climax the action. If you start high, you’ll have to create an even higher climax. Sometimes overloading the audience with too much action is a really bad idea.

“WHO ARE THEY” OPENING SCENE. In this opener you will not reveal the identities of your characters, but rather allow them to reveal themselves through their dialogue. Your skills in letting the facts seep through dialogue must be impeccable. This is a brilliant strategy to leave the audience guessing who the characters really are. Think of the comedy-crime movie Snatch (Sony Pictures Entertainment) for a second–the opening scene is in the elevator where the bearded Rabbi’s are talking about the Bible. All of a sudden they break into a set piece of robbing a diamond vault, and then finally the characters are introduced. British filmmaker Guy Richie uses other techniques to introduce his characters, but you can learn from his techniques from watching this movie.

“HOW DID WE GET HERE” OPENING SCENE. This opener takes you right to a mini climax in the movie that will be revealed later. This could be your hero on the verge of being sacrificed to a bunch of savage cannibals. Right before calamity strikes, you go to the next scene where your character is in a more normal situation, thus the audience will be wondering how the hell he got to that predicament later.

THE ORIGIN OPENING SCENE. Screenwriter and actor Seth Rogan, in the movie The Green Hornet (Columbia Pictures), expertly implemented this opening whereby he goes to the little curly headed fat kid standing up for the lesser people and being scolded by his father. Remember that this is a very cliché opening so you’ll need to add in your own twists and turns to reveal a deep secret that will give your audience a deeper understanding of how your hero thinks, acts, and reacts to situations.

There is no right or wrong way of beginning you opening scene. Use your creative juices to combine any of the above mentioned scenes to create an original opening. Ultimately it is up to you.