02 April 2008

Stop-Loss Bombs

Despite tackling a current event and starring mega-hunk Ryan Phillippe, the movie Stop-Loss has officially tanked worse than a Martin Lawrence comedy. It has grossed a crappy 4.5M it's opening weekend despite a massive advertising blitz. I'm a little, uh...hunkered down right now, so I was unable to see it, but GI Kate, Alex, and Jon Soltz, all of whom are vets, weighed in on the movie. This flick may bring up a significant problem with the military, but it looks like America might not be interested. I could take the cynical-jackass route and proclaim that Americans are a bunch of dickfaces, but I think the problem may lie with the lack of authenticity. Hollywood likes to portray the military as goofball hicks, and it seems phony when they try to make a meaningful movie about Iraq, since their take on foreign policy is so misinformed. My personal hero, Greg Gutfeld, sums it up best:

Look - we don't need war movies to remind us that war is bad - we know that. Plus, mainstream media is already doing a bang up job ramming home that idea - even to the point of ignoring good or encouraging news about the conflict.

But I guess what bothers me most about the flick is being lectured by people who are fundamentally more flawed than the rest of us. Really, is the act of stop-loss worse, on a personal level, than cheating on your wife and mother of your two kids - with your saucy little costar? I'd ask Ryan Philippe that, but I'm already over him. He's no Orlando Bloom.

And if you disagree with me, then you sir are worse than Hitler.

I'm with Greg, in that I don't want to shell out 10 bones to hear about Iraq from some flaming douche sipping a martini at the Sky Bar. I think the best Iraq movies will be made by Iraq vets, much like the great Vietnam movies (Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July) were made by an Nam vet (Oliver Stone). Hollywood is just way too out of touch with the military to get it right. In the meantime, check out this post on IRR callups from Iraq Partii to grasp the problems with filling spots in a war zone, or check out the new PBS special, Bad Voodoo's War which sounds like it will be pretty good. The Iraq war movie that wins an Oscar may be a long way off.

Pretty people couldn't even save this colossal dud


Bag Blog said...

I have not even seen an ad for this movie, but then I live in Hicksville. You'd think Hollywood would advertise a movie about goofball hicks to us real hicks.

Sisu said...

My first clue I wouldn't want to see it? "From MTV films." Oooo, gonna have to miss that one. BTW, "Bad Voodoo's War" was fabulous, and just a tad more compelling than "Stop-loss." Hunker as long as you need.

membrain said...

I'm glad it bombed LT Nixon. But I'm even more glad that Redacted, the movie that makes all US Soldiers out to be rapists and murderers did even worse. JD Johannes made more money on his first embed DVD than Redacted did.

If you don't know about JD Johannes he has just released a great DVD on the Surge in 2007.

Check him out here:http://outsidethewire.com/

Keep on keepin' on LT

Anonymous said...

Interesting comments/reviews from people who haven't even bothered to see the movie...lol! If you did, you might even find that it's not so bad; maybe even okay -- maybe even pretty good! (reviews from military types who have seen it seem to be fairly positive, actually). The director's younger brother is a soldier who served in Iraq; she is hardly a stereotypical Hollywood military basher. And, despite some stereotypes in the film (moreso about Texans than anything else), it's clear that she has a lot of affection for those who are serving in uniform.

So, how about going to see it and then giving your opinion based on that -- not what you "think" it's about or some pre-conceived notions about MTV or Hollywood...(Hey; you might even like it!) ;-)

~A Troop Supporter

Long-time RN said...

"Bad Voodoo's War" should be played on all channels. Pride, fortitude, heartbreak, and tears. Kudos to PBS and all the Bad Voodoo men.

Anonymous said...

bag blog- the only "channel" I've seen ads for the movie on is MTV. I'm thinking they probably gave the film company a sweetheart deal on the advertising rates.

Grung_e_Gene said...

Isn't it a wee bit early to claim it bombed? It's been out for all of 4 days.

LT I think your observations about the stereotype (always self-destructive/ always alcoholic) is typical of those who have no idea what the military is and anything about those in the military.

I also find the use of hollywood starlets for soldiers annoying. Gunner Palace was far superior to seeing some pampered botoxed/ trainer aided chump pretending to be a Jarhead (for instance).

Anyway, I'm glad the movie was made if for nothing else than to bring the problem to the forefront of the american mind (if for only a day or two).

LT Nixon said...

Bag Blog,

I would never consider you a hick, but rather the nicest lady in the blogosphere.


I got access to Bad Voodoo's war, it was excellent!

Troop Supporter,

I admit to not having seen the movie, and the awareness is good. But from what I've been hearing the stereotypes are way cheesy.


It is good for public awareness, but hopefully some vets will turn into big time movie directors/producers. Then maybe will see some good stuff.

Bag Blog said...

Why Lt. Nixon, that was mighty sweet of you. I take back all those mean things I said about you :)

Let me get this straight. The movie is about hick soldiers from Texas? Now that might be believable

Anonymous said...

Really? You thought that Platoon was a great war movie? I always preferred Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now, but that's just me...

Anonymous said...

Hey; I didn't say that that the stereotypes weren't way cheesy (the Texas "accents" were really distracting); I just said that it's still a pretty good movie and worth seeing...lol! And, that it actually is respectful of troops and their struggles.

Obviously a movie that has to tell a whole story arc in 90 minutes or so is going to have to compress a lot of little stories into a short amount of time. And, that means that the most dramatic stories are the ones that are going to be highlighted. Of course not every vet comes back from war a big mess, but there are plenty who do (even among those who aren't in combat over there). Of the many soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen that I've supported over the past 4 years, most seem to have come through without serious problems (some readjustment problems, yes; but they manage to to get through them). On the other hand, one team of SEALs I got to know who went through some very hairy experiences all seemed to be pretty freakin' crazy by the end (one was pulled out and put in the psych ward), so it seemed plausible to me that a squad that had some very intense combat experiences could end up having some real problems leaving that behind once they got home.

I'm surprised that people don't seem to be seeing ads for the movie; it was marketed pretty heavily on "regular" TV in the DC area.

I don't think it's fair to compare the movie to "Bad Voodoo's War," which is a documentary (or likewise to "Gunner Palace," which was also terrific). They are just different forms, both of which are needed. (BTW, you can watch "Bad Voodoo's War," along with other excellent Frontline pieces about the war on their website: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/. You can also see an interesting online chat with the director of "Bad Voodoo" here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2008/03/30/ DI2008033001258.html).


A Troop Supporter

LT Nixon said...


Paul Rieckhoff of IAVA has a good review on Stop Loss, worth checking out!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the referral to Paul's review (I was just over on the IAVA site a few minutes ago, but for other reasons...lol). I first met Paul before he got IAVA off the ground (back when he just had his personal website); he's been doing some very good work over there.

I think it's probably going to be several years before any "definitive" (non-documentary) films come out about this war. Films like "Stop Loss" are just a step along the way. It has some important truth to it (including on an emotional level), but it is also flawed in important ways that can be quite distracting. When viewed in their entirety, I think there have been some very good efforts by filmakers to capture different aspects of what has been going on over there, but none of them is totally successful (with some being more flawed than others).

The one thing that is unique (and new) with this war is the level of involvement of the troops themselves in telling their stories through the lens of a camera (which are, of course, reflections of their own experiences and for that reason can't tell the "whole" story either). But, even fewer people are seeing those movies than are seeing the Hollywood-type films (e.g., I don't know how much Gunner Palace made, but I'll bet it wasn't much!).

The truth is, even if a definitive movie were released today, I think it would still bomb at the box office (everyone is too busy serving their country by going shopping, I guess...lol).

Well, I'm going to run out and see "Body of War" now; there will be a Q&A afterwards with the producers and the vet who is featured in the film. Should be interesting no matter what!


A Troop Supporter

LT Nixon said...

This is War is pretty good without all the Hollywood frills.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the "This is War" tip; I'll see if I can pick that one up some time (I checked out the website, but haven't yet ordered it). Another film worth mentioning is "Combat Diary: The Marines of Lima Company." They have a pretty heartbreaking story, losing 23 men -- including the nephew of a friend of mine -- in their year over there (RIP Nathan). (In the interest of full disclosure I should say that, although I've had the DVD for quite awhile, I still haven't gotten myself to watch it -- I know I'll need a box or two of Kleenex to get through it and I have to be in the right mood to take that on....)

I thought "Body of War" was worth seeing, although you might be put off by the anti-war message (the soldier it features becomes very involved with Iraqi Vets Against the War, but more than that, it focuses a lot on the votes on the Iraqi War Resolution in 2002). Here is what Reickhoff says about it:

"VERY powerful film. Thomas Young's story is amazing---and must be heard. I just wish the film wasn't so heavy-handed with the politics. The story of Thomas is enough to make a compelling case--without all the DC insider stuff. But it is definitely a film people should see."

I agree with him on both counts. Other than the scenes involving Tomas himself (especially a wonderful closing scene that featured a politician), I could have done without the interweaving of the "on the floor" Congressional activity. Still, it's a powerful story of a pretty remarkable young man who is finding a new purpose in his life after being dealt a very hard blow. (It's in limited release; you can see if it's coming to your town here: http://www.bodyofwar.com/.)


A Troop Supporter