Tag Archives: Not Political

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi or Michael Bay’s 2nd Best Film

13-Hours-The-Secret-Soldiers-Of-Benghazi Poster


Heavy subject in today’s review.  As usual with anything a little bit off kilter, controversial, or political, I want to state that we at I Watch Too Many Movies will not give our own personal opinion on the movie.  We are just here to review the movie itself.


Michael Bay is one crazy dude.  Not only can the man figure out a way to kill the Transformers as a franchise with exceptional CGI and explosions, but he can also slow down long enough to direct a film like 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.  When I say slow down, I’m probably searching for the word restraint.

"Hold on you guys, this is serious material, tone it down." -Michael Bay (maybe)
“Hold on you guys, this is serious material, tone it down.” -Michael Bay (maybe)

Even if Bay twisted the explosion knob down from his usual 11, this was still an action movie after all, so yeah, there were explosions.  I will give it to Bay that he did something that I didn’t think was possible: took a highly charged political issue and made it about the event instead of the aftermath.  That takes some guts and I appreciate Mr. Bay for that action and sparing us from his opinion.

13 Hours was based off a 2014 book (13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi by Mitchell Zuckoff, who took actual accounts from the point of view of the Benghazi compound’s defenders. The book itself does not address any of the political controversy surrounding the attacks in the aftermath of the September 11th, 2012 horrible incident.

I’ll give a quick thought I had while I was watching the film.  In the beginning, the information on the screen read, “This is a True Story”.  If you’ll recall, I explained what these types of terms meant in the world of film.  When I read those words on the screen, I got to thinking about the “Chain of Custody”.  Quick definition is that when evidence or something else is handled by multiple people, each of them sign off so that anyone can quickly identify where, when, and who had the evidence.  Basically, it’s a much more accurate version of “Telephone”.

Unless you hear it from a Hamburger Phone, don't trust the Intel.
Unless you hear it from a Hamburger Phone, don’t trust the Intel.

Anyway, all I’m trying to say is that you can believe the depiction of the events in the film about as much as a packet of salt.  Here we have an author who discussed the events with the survivors, then we have Michael Bay and his writers dissecting the book and creating a screenplay from it, and finally the actors actually got a chance to discuss the events with the individuals that experienced those hellish hours.

If you want my opinion, the “Chain of Custody” had so many places to break and I believe it did.  That’s okay though.  Like I said, there were no allegations made in the film or the book, and the actors portrayed their characters who likely couldn’t care a “Lesser Hemsworth Brother” about the politics.

One is Thor and the other is living with Miley Cyrus. The different smiles say it all.
One is Thor and the other is living with Miley Cyrus. The different smiles say it all.

We’re glad they took the politics out of the event.  Great job Mr. Bay. Now, what did you fill the two hours with?  Actually a pretty solid action flick.  From the very beginning of the movie, it was obvious that our heroes were in hostile territory.  I mean even before Jim Halpert, excuse me, I mean John Krasinski‘s character lands in Libya, he’s given the evil eye about 100 times.

Yeah, I don't think I'd be too happy with someone waving a gun in my face either.
Yeah, I don’t think I’d be too happy with someone waving a gun in my face either.

At this point, it is my complete obligation to tell you that I really had a hard time separating Krasinski’s character from his portrayal of Jim Halpert in The Office.  He doesn’t deserve that at all, as there isn’t even a “Hint of Halpert” (say that five times fast) in the whole movie.  I just really kept waiting for him to turn and look at the camera and shrug his shoulders.  I saw an interview with him and he said that he never once slipped into a Halpert-ism.  In fact, all the actors do a very good job (but odd how more than two of them were from The Office). Perhaps it’s because they were allowed to discuss this particular incident directly with their real-life counter-parts or something else, but every single person took their job seriously.  It was the script that was a bit heavy handed.

Neither did we...
Neither did we…

Here is my huge issue, these guys went through hell and back.  You don’t have to spend every other minute reminding me that they either have a family, a dog, or a pet cactus.  WE GET IT, the stakes were high.  In Hollywood, there is a tendency to spoon feed the audience the emotions of the characters instead of letting the ambiance and actors do their jobs and, you know, tell the story.  Chuck Hogan, who wrote the screenplay from the novel, can do good work, I’ve seen or read it.  He wrote The Strain series with Guillermo del Toro and even wrote the novel in which the film The Town was based.  So I’m not quite sure why the audience is bashed over the head with a Skype call to family, new pregnancies, calling children, or even taking photos into battle throughout the whole movie.  If anyone had bothered to watch the trailer, they would know that there is tons of action, gunfights, and explosions, then they likely knew someone was going to die.  Come on, this is based on a real event, you could have spoiled the movie by reading a HISTORY TEXTBOOK.

Look at those smug bastards just waiting to spoil the movie for you. Just to be safe, you should Un-Friend them so they don't spoil the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Look at those smug bastards just waiting to spoil the movie for you.  Just to be safe, you should Un-Friend them on Facebook so they don’t spoil the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Other than being told repeatedly that this is a dangerous situation, the film is fine.  Typical action with plenty of gunfire, death, explosions, and the terrible feeling that you have no idea who is your enemy and who may be a sympathizer.  I was especially impressed by how the actors shot and reloaded in this scenario.   Typically, in every other action movie, an automatic weapon fires for minutes at a time and doesn’t need to be reloaded.  This wasn’t the case in 13 Hours.  Small 3-4 round bursts and dedication to actual tactical maneuvers that might be used in an actual battle.

The set was interesting in that the creators used all of the actual blueprints to construct the buildings in the film.  That’s a pretty neat bit of dedication.  Last thing that was impressive?  The beards.  Apparently, and this is true, if you’re going to be stationed in a CIA base, and you’re hired mercenaries, then you have to have an awesomely groomed beard at all times.

Ahhhh, I can smell America from here
Ahhhh, I can smell America from here

Didn’t read my fancy words, here is the short version:

Michael Bay actually showed some restraint in this film about a real-life event that was devastating for our country and he kept the political aspects completely out of the film.  The actors did play “super-hero” versions of their actual counter-parts, but they hit the right notes and didn’t ring false at all with just a few real touches.  I was a little disappointed in the script as it intravenously fed you the stakes of the event and the artificial terror of someone dying.  It’s not a bad film to see in theaters, but you’ll enjoy it just as well by streaming or buying it on Blu-Ray.  Oh, and if you even had to wonder what I consider to be Michael Bay’s best film, then shame on you.

Just can't beat the combination of Cage, Connery, Helms, and Bay
Just can’t beat the combination of Cage, Connery, Helms, and Bay



Quick little bonus for all you good boys and girls.  In the first 15 minutes of the film, I realized that all grizzled looking action stars had one thing in common: they either roll up their shirts or wear short sleeves.  Just take a look (and know this is just the tip of the iceberg):

Rolled up from 13 Hours
Rolled up from 13 Hours
Short Sleeves from Casino Royale
Short Sleeves from Casino Royale
Short Sleeve Over-Shirt from Die Hard 3
Short Sleeve Over-Shirt from Die Hard 3
Rolled Up Sleeve from Chris Pine as Jack Ryan
Rolled Up Sleeve from Chris Pine as Jack Ryan
Short Sleeves for the Thieves in Ocean's 11
Short Sleeves for the Thieves in Ocean’s 11
So many Rolled Up Sleeves in Argo
So many Rolled Up Sleeves in Argo

Now you can look for it in the next film you watch.  Have a nice day.


Wednesday Wars- 36 Days and Counting and a Salute to Intergalactic Veterans

Good Morning Bleary Eyed Fans and welcome to a special segment of Wednesday Wars!

Yes, it’s that time again that we celebrate all things Star Wars and continue our countdown till we can return to a Galaxy Far Far Away. This is a special session of Wednesday Wars as we salute the Veterans of our Local Galaxy and those from long time ago in a Galaxy Far Far Away.

First off, we want to make it clear that we at I Watch Too Many Movies will not express our own personal beliefs on war and the various outcomes.  Today is meant to honor those that chose or were chosen by their Governments, Resistances, or Empires to fight for their cause.  Even if that cause was to enslave an entire galaxy.  Now, onto our countdown!

5) The Sith Order

vader-helmetWhile many would call the Sith the primary antagonists in the Star Wars Universe, I propose that they were fighting a Holy War against the Jedi Order.  Their basic dogma was one of control and order while exploiting the Force for power, aggression or personal gain. Unfortunately for many Sith, this inevitably led to both imperial conquest and their own self-destruction.  Tyrannical despots such as Emperor Palpatine are prime examples of how their belief caused corruption, pain, and enslavement of others while engineering their own downfall.  Other Sith, such as Darth Vader, who turned to the Dark Side due to fear and love for another were manipulated into the Sith Order’s Doctrine. Above we honor Darth Vader, previously Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, by presenting the only remaining fragment of his existence. A powerful reminder to not let Religious Dogma, fear, and charismatic tyrants influence you or anyone you hold dear.

Other Sith Lords, such as Darth Maul, were merely pawns in the larger game of Intergalactic War and the eventual subjugation of an entire Galaxy

4) The Jedi Order


Similar in many ways to the Sith, the Jedi Order were an ancient monk-like peacekeeping organization unified by the belief and observance of the Light Side of the Force.  Again we have many heroes and veterans of the Jedi Order.  One of the greatest Jedi to ever have lived perished after a long life of 874 years.  We honor Jedi Master Yoda:

Mentor to many Jedi and key to the continuation of the Jedi Order through his last pupil, Luke Skywalker

Due to a cruel purge of the Jedi Order by Emperor Palpatine, many of the veterans of The Clone Wars were exterminated quickly once the Emperor seized power of the Galactic Senate and formed the Empire. One such fallen hero, Jedi Master Mace Windu, was the first to be claimed by the rise to power of Emperor Palpatine.  We honor this brave warrior:

Known as the Lightsaber
Known as the fiercest Lightsaber wielder in all of the Galaxy and one bad mother…

A final hero and veteran of The Clone Wars, Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, also known as General Kenobi, fought in a noble manner for the Jedi Order and Peace in the Galaxy.  Master Kenobi was one of the only survivors of the Jedi Purge known as “Order 66”, thus beginning a silent and lonesome war against the Galactic Empire and even his friend and apprentice Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker.

The two Jedi stand
The two brothers in arms stand together, only knowing bits and pieces of the fate that would eventually tear them apart

We salute Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi as after defeating what his friend had become, he continued honoring the Jedi Order by caring for the offspring of his fallen friend.  Master Kenobi met his end at the hands of his old apprentice, now the mechanized Sith Lord, Darth Vader.  He also assisted the Rebel Alliance by taking part in the initial rescue of Leia Organa and saving young Luke Skywalker from Vader which would eventually be key to their victory in the Battle of Yavin.  We honor Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi:

His spirit literally lives on and guides through The Living Force

3) The Galactic Empire

Galactic Empire Logo

While under the control of The Sith Lord, Emperor Palpatine, the veterans from the many engagements with the Rebel Alliance, remnants of the Galactic Senate, should be known but still held accountable for the various atrocities they were commanded to inflict upon innocents and other peaceful races and species in the Galaxy.  Before becoming the Stormtroopers of the Galactic Empire, many were part of The Grand Army of the Republic during The Clone Wars.  These veterans were once comrades in arms with the Jedi commanding during The Clone Wars. One such veteran, the Clone Trooper known as Commander Cody (CC-2224) fought with Jedi General Obi-Wan Kenobi until he was compelled to turn against his long time ally with his implanted loyalty program. Like all of his Clone brethren, Commander Cody executed Order 66, the Galactic Jedi purge, without question or ability to resist.  His career ended with betrayal but as it was engineered into his very DNA (and brain), we still honor his service:

Commander Cody

After The Clone Wars, many Clone Troopers were converted to the elite soldiers known as Stormtroopers to serve in the militia of the newly formed Galactic Empire. Once Clone production was slowed, and eventually halted, as others joined the Imperial War Machine, Stormtroopers became nameless soldiers of innumerable numbers.  The conflicts in which they battled the Rebel Alliance, Stormtroopers were considered extremely expendable by Emperor Palpatine. After being defeated at the hands of the Rebels, prisoners of the Battle of Endor, and other conflicts throughout the Galaxy, many Stormtroopers were forced to see the horrors wrought by Palpatine.  Some went into hiding and others began to develop an Imperial Remnant known as The First Order many decades later.  Today we honor the fallen, the controlled, and remorseful Stormtrooper men and women:

A Rebel artist's
A Rebel artist’s depiction of a Stormtrooper surrendering.  Mourning the loss of his comrades and feeling disgust by his actions done in the service of a Tyrannical Sith Lord

2) The Rebel Alliance


Opposing the Galactic Empire, the Rebel Alliance has many heroes to mourn and even veterans that are still forced to continue the fight for freedom from the oppressive Galactic Empire and its Remnants, The First Order.  Chief among the heroes of the Rebels is Jedi Knight (and now possibly Master) Luke Skywalker.  Trained by Jedi Master’s Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda, Skywalker was integral to the fall of the Galactic Empire.  First, single-handedly winning The Battle of Yavin by destroying the Original Death Star with The Force and Obi-Wan’s guidance, then conquering a personal battle against the Sith Lord Palpatine by refusing to kill his father, former Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, in the form of Darth Vader.  This eventually lead to the downfall of Palpatine at the hands of Darth Vader, who had been redeemed by his son.  While now in suspected isolation, Luke Skywalker remains a glorious veteran of the Galactic War.

Ever fearless, Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker
Ever fearless, Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker, seen here with his final lightsaber, battled all aspects of corruption and tyranny in the Galaxy

Considered two of the bravest and most heroic soldiers: Han Solo and his long time companion, the Wookiee known as Chewbacca or “Chewie” to Han. Both heroes became renown Veterans of the Rebel Alliance by assisting Luke Skywalker in the destruction of the Original Death Star in the Battle of Yavin, supporting multiple rescues of the Rebel leader, Princess Leia Organa, and lead attacks against the Empire in the Battle of Endor, aided by the local inhabitants of Endor, the Ewoks.  His ship, the now legendary Millennium Falcon held up against all odds and continues to be General Solo’s trusty starship.

Han and Chewie
Even decades later, he continues to fight for peace and freedom, we honor his bravery and cunning, even for a “Scruffy looking nerf herder” -Princess Leia Organa.

Other heroes and veterans of the Galactic War who fought on the side of the Rebels are also honored below:

Lando Calrissian, at first treacherous against his friend Han Solo, but later redeeming himself by becoming a hero and veteran of the Battle of Endor.  Allowed to use the Millennium Falcon to destroy the Second Death Star along with a Rebel Fleet
Veteran and Founder of Rogue Squadron, Wedge Antilles fought bravely alongside Luke Skywalker in the Battle of Yavin in Red Squadron
Finally, Jek Tono Porkins, X-Wing Pilot in Red Squadron during the Battle of Yavin, this brave soldier fell during the initial run of attacks on the Death Star.  Posthumously awarded a rank among Rogue Squadron, the Elite Pilots of the Rebellion

1) The United States Armed Services

US Flag

While not part of any Galaxy Far, Far Away, the men and women who are veterans of all wars, conflicts, and engagements are honored today in the United States on Veteran’s Day.

Sadly too many too
Sadly too many graves across the United States are filled with those who have fought for our exceptional freedoms that other Countries throughout our Earth do not share

Again, today’s Wednesday Wars post was mostly satire and fiction, we are not sharing our own personal opinions on war.  However, we mourn the loss of all life in any conflict.  This Veteran’s Day, please attempt to understand the hardships many Veterans suffer each and every day. From homelessness, neglected healthcare needs, or psychological trauma, many Veterans could use assistance.  There are many ways to support Veterans, but this is entirely your own prerogative and we leave it completely up to you.  As stated above, we are just presenting satire about the Veterans of the Star Wars Universe and some insight into what Veterans face here in the United States.

Join us next week as we choose a lighter topic for Wednesday Wars and continue the hype and countdown to the film, as we’re just over a month from the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens!  Until then, may the Force be with you and many others that need it.

This post is personally dedicated to my Grandfather (PawPaw) who is a Veteran of the Korean War and has been lucky with his care since returning home in 1953.

Depicted here alongside yours truly, doing what he does best nowadays…nothing :-)