Thursday, October 13, 2011

Is "Act of Valor" the Movie the "Call of Duty" Generation Has Been Waiting For?

Here's a production-backstory that will make some people kinda queasy and others kinda thrilled:

"Act of Valor" supposedly began life as a bigger-budget-than-usual, up-to-date Navy SEAL recruitment film; but was reworked into a "traditional" feature film (one has to assume public-interest in the SEALs following the killing of bin Laden played a part, yes?) and is now being released in February by Relativity Media. The Navy still seems to have "signed off" on the project, though - so all the gear, tech and tactics are as authentic as possible and (most interestingly of all) the main hero-cast are played by actual SEAL members.


Raso said...

Sooo.... It's still a recruitment video except we'll have to pay to see it in theaters?

That's not Orwellian or creepy at all. I give them credit for at least flat out admitting they had recruitment in mind rather than trying to down play it as just an awesome movie meant to be authentic while ignoring the more depressing dregs of war.

Anonymous said...

So very, very doubtful that all of those people are actual seals and not just ZZZ-list actors payed to play the part based on declassified mission files and advice on methodology from ex-seal members... Because, really, putting real seal faces "out there" seems like a really good way for really bad things to happen to them when they're not on a mission.

Jannie said...

They already made a modern FPS movie. It was called "The Expendables". Spoiler warning: it was AWESOME.

And it also inadvertently killed Scott Pilgrim, and Michael Cera's career with it, thus proving that real heroes DO still exist and there IS good in the world worth fighting for.

Anyway...I too doubt these are actually going to be actual SEALS. Frankly the whole thing smacks to me of some kind of marketing scheme, to generate hype for the movie much the same way that Blair Witch did with its guerrilla marketing. But hey why not, why should J.J. Abrams and Chris Nolan get all the fun viral marketing stuff.

Anonymous said...


Oooh, you'd better hope Moviebob doesn't read that, he'll come down on you like a ton of bricks!
Just watch his Escape to the Movies
episode on the Expendables :(

Jannie said...

Oh, I've seen Bob's "review" (finger quotes for days) of Expendables. It was wildly inaccurate and frankly I doubt he even saw the movie since he seemed to either gloss over or ignore a lot. Like, for example, he said there was little or no blood in it...which was amusing to me, because the movie BEGINS with a guy being blown apart like a water balloon filled with ketchup by a grenade launcher. Really, I just figure he didn't see it, took the money and went to see Blue Valentine again or something and wrote the review based on what he thought the trailer looked like. But I could rant all day about that...

Plus, come down like a ton of bricks, please. What's he going to do, internet-rage at me? Ban me? Make me watch Drive with my eyes pinned open till I appreciate Ryan Gosling's inability to act?

Also I'd like to think he's AT LEAST mature enough to accept a dissenting opinion, but maybe that's just my naivete showing through. He's certainly shown a shockingly high degree of emotional fragility in the past.

And anyway, my point stands: Expendables is an awesome movie. This, I'll give it a shot but I'm not convinced.

Jannie said...

Gah, hit post right as I thought of this:

He also said there were no "interesting kills" in it (which, happily, shows he has at least SOME familiarity with action movies since he knows that unique enemy kills or one-liners are important to them, but I digress) but that's bullshit because there are at least four I can think of.

Five if you count the "lets set the whole city on fire with an airstrike" scene with Rambo and Chev Chellios. Or at least, I imagined it was Chev and Rambo.

Anyway, in order:

Somali pirate gets turned into a Jackson Pollack by Dolph "Tyrannosaurus Pecs" Lundgren.

Dude get's decapitated by Rambo using the world's biggest hunting knife.

Stone Cold gets stunned (HA!) by Randy Couture and set on fire. As a wrestle-nerd this made me has a sad, but whever, he said he's coming back in part two anyway and it looked awesome. :)

Eric "Ultimate 80's Villain" Roberts get shot six times and then impaled on a machete just as any good 80's action movie villain would.

Spongey Blob said...

@ Jannie

To be fair, I thought that Scott Pilgrim was frigging badass, just for more reasons than "OMG NES SOUNDTRACK SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" As for The Expendables, it was ok, nothing more nothing less, but MovieBob's review did seem like he was scraping the barrel for reasons not to like it; "Oh dear god no! It wants to be like a burly stupid cheesy macho 80's action flick, which I love, but this one was made recently so BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

To make this more about Act of 'Valour' (learn to spell, rest of the world, we invented the goddamn language), I'm annoyed about the Call of Duty comparisons but I can see why they were made. Call of Duty has always had an air of authenticity and realism (as realistic as you can get in a game where Russia is STILL the bad guy and the main villian is Ming the Merciless, at least) and this film is certainly going for that. However, this is where the comparisons end. This film seems to be massively 'pro-war' with lines like "You don't expect your family to understand, you just gotta hope that people in this city show scum like the Joker that I'm the goddamn Batman", while Call of Duty has always tried to be about just how dehumanising war is, and just what it does to people. Remember your crews in CoD4? They were good guys, sure, and no-one could not love Price and Gaz for their interactions with you, but they were also morally-questionable thugs who were capable of truly cold acts of brutality, and the game did little to refute that. It was also, in all honesty, very very silly for the standards of a war game; there were plenty of moments of levity and chit-chat between your teammates that reminded you that they WERE human beings, capable of feeling emotions, and for all the talk of realism, the multiplayer modes are ridiculously cathartic affair, and need I mention zombies? CoD fans like the game for the above reasons, not for the fact that it involves an army.

So, to answer your question MovieBob, beyond superficial elements I don't think Act of Valour is the movie that has been eagerly anticipated by the so-called 'Call of Duty generation' (because, you know, Call of Duty is the only thing that defines the most recent generation, just like how everyone who grew up in the eighties are called the 'Jem' generation)

Jannie said...

@Spongey Blob

Well, I will admit the soundtrack for Scott Pilgrim was awesome, and the fight scenes were "meh" to "good" though I've seen better superhero fight scenes (e.g., when Hulk fought the Army in Incredible Hulk, or the whole prison fight in Watchmen). That being said the movie was just too "hipster" for me, the characters were intensely unlikable save for the gay guy whose name escapes me, and Ellen Wong who was a delightful breath of non-hipster air in the movie, and frankly I'm sorry, I can't stand Mary-Elizabeth Winstead's acting. Wow. So bad. Like, I know she's hot, and you guys want to see her because she's hot, I get that--I mean, you all make allowances so I can see Taylor Abs in Twilight so I'm willing to do the same for her and Zooey Deschenel--but Jesus Christ almighty, that woman CAN NOT ACT to save her life. When you make Michael "I Only Have One Expression" Cera look, just wow.

I loved Expendables though. It harkens back to a time when "irony" and "postmodernism" didn't exist, and frankly I couldn't have been happier with it. I'm the kind of girl who loves those "macho" 80's action movies, I personally find a lot of the modern broody action movies FAR more stupid and offensive (I'm looking at you Bourne series) but I understand that that's just MY personal tastes, obviously. Still, I stand by what I said, awesome movie.

And agreed completely on COD. People who harp on about the realism factor forget that, while that appeals to military tech nerds like me who masturbate to Top Gun (and not just because Tom Cruise is in it, but that helps obviously) forget that MOST people who play it are NOT into gun stuff, and play it either for the competitive multiplayer or because it does, in fact, have likable characters and story. A story which, I may add, is DECIDEDLY anti-war and anti-military. The entire plot of MW2 is that the American general is the bad guy NOT the Russians, who are innocent pawns in his insane scheme for revenge. People just gloss over that because admitting it would negate their "it's all propaganda" argument.

And I refuse to put 'U's in words where they don't belong. Or should that be "beloung"? *rimshot* ;)

Jannie said...


I'd imagine Bob would prefer the 80's to be called the "Nintendo Generation".

Mainly because I believe Bob thinks everything should either be made in Japan, owned by Nintendo, or preferably both, including whole decades of history.

Spongey Blob said...

@ Jannie

-glares at the word 'belong'- You win this round... though I don't get the argument of having u's where they don't belong when it's called English for a reason; we invented the language (or, rather, amalgamated it from the various languages of our umpteen billion invaders) so we should be right by default. Oh, and as an aside, LEISURE! IS! NOT! PRONOUNCED! LEE-SH-URR! That is dumb. It's leh-shur. There's an 'i' in it, as there is a 'h' in herbs. ;D

Jay said...

To kind of come up in Scott Pilgrim's grill and try to protect it's sweet ass like Wally does (yes, it's a joke), the movie suffers greatly from Adaptation Distillation. Both Scott and Ramona had a lot of growing up to do in the comic that just isn't shown in the movie. So while it's a parallel universe, you have to treat them as two separate entities. Also, I think people are kind of harsh on Cena, just as they can be on his lookalike Eisenberg.

In regards to Expendables, I couldn't watch it. It WAS an 80s action snorefest, where I couldn't focus on just a few characters and feel any type of connection. Instead, EVERYONE is the same type of military fighter. I just couldn't watch it because the cliches (done poorly) just kept piling on. I've seen this in the new Rambo movies. I've seen this in every action movie of the US. It's boring. It doesn't do anything new. Yes, I get they're doing an homage to the originals of the 80s and 90s, but those movies did it better without having to say "Oh hey, look at us fighting to be relevant".

Jannie said...


Well, all I can say really is, I just disagree with you about Expendables.

But more to the point, I've read the Scott Pilgrim comics after the fact (I got them online, I wasn't about to pay for it) and frankly it was worse than the movie in my opinion. But frankly, that's probably just because I kept imagining Ramona sounding like Mary Elizabeth Winstead and it just made me want to slit my wrists.

And again, I know, I get it, guys find her hot. Fine. But you know, it's REALLY, REALLY disconcerting how she seems to just cross her arms and steadfastly refuse to fucking ACT while making pouty lips at the camera.

Though she was a little better in the Thing prequel...but I get the impression that the director was just off screen coaching her.

"Ok now, Mary, your character...she's afraid!"

"Acknowledged. Oh. Oh my god. I'm so afraid. There, done. May I begin pouting now?"

"No, Mary, she's REALLY scared!"

"Negative. I am a cybernetic organism, living flesh over a metal endoskeleton. I feel no fear."

"Yes but the character does."

"Interrogative: should I pout more."

"No, you're supposed to be AFRAID. It's a shape-shifting alien, you're SCARED of it!"

"Acknowledged. Downloading 'Dull Surprise Face' mod from Steam."

"That's...*sigh* close enough."

"Acknowledged. Begin pouting program. Deploying adorable doe eyes. Doe eyes deployed."

Jannie said...

Off the record:

I went to see 12 Rounds because John Cena was in was a middling to ok action movie, but I spent half of it imagining myself in his arms. His powerful, powerful arms.

So really I have no right to talk shit.