Sunday, January 22, 2017

Movie Reviews: Zulu Dawn and Zulu

(Image from British Battles)

As the 138th anniversary of the battles of  Isandlwana...

(Image by Kieth Rocco, found on Holts Tours)

...and Rorke's Drift neared, I asked a friend and fellow war movie aficionado if he'd seen the movies
Zulu Dawn...

...or Zulu.

He hadn't.

So a few days before today's anniversary, we staged a Zulu movie marathon.

Since these movies have been out for nearly half a century, I don't have anything new to add, other than I love both films--despite their flaws.

Zulu Dawn has a 4.2 star rating on while it's predecessor Zulu, holds a 4.7 star rating.

While I love these movies, I give them about a 4-star rating myself, for the all same reasons stated by the less-than 5-star raters.

I noticed a lot of complaints about the quality of the Zulu Dawn DVD, which is something I noticed in my own copy.  The older film Zulu, has a better image.

Both movies perpetuate a few myths about the Zulu War, and have a considerable number of editing and historical mistakes:  10 for Zulu Dawn and a whopping 45 for Zulu.

But knowing these, I still enjoy films.

For writers, check out Zulu's entry in TV Tropes.

I also have John Barry's kickass score for times when I'm not in front of a TV or monitor...

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Movie Review: Rogue One--A Star Wars Story

(Image from:
Last week, my wife and I managed to get some time off--even on some of the same days.  On one of these "date days" we caught matinee of Rogue One.

To be honest, I wasn't sure how I'd feel about this latest Star Wars movie since I wasn't all that crazy about The Force Awakens...

(Image from:  Independent) I just realized I never wrote a movie review for The Force Awakens (8.1 stars out of 10 on IMDb), which we saw about this time last year.

Well, since I'm lazy I want to save blog space, this review by Honest Trailers... funnier than anything I could write nails the good, the bad and the ugly about The Force Awakens.

Okay, now back to Rogue One.

Ever wonder how the Death Star plans ended up in Princess Leia's possession?

Well, Rogue One, which fits right into Episode IV A New Hope...

(Image from:  Muvi Blast) the story of the ragtag bunch of misfits who steal the plans, deliver them to the Rebel Alliance and--Spoiler Alert!--pay for it with their lives.

I loved this movie, and consider it one of the best Star Wars films made to date. 

I'm wondering if I'm just being a fanboy by rushing to give the film a 5-star rating.  (It also received 8.1 out of 10 stars on IMDb).  I'll probably have to watch it a few more times to actually see any plot holes.

While I love the Star Wars franchise overall, it's easy to become cynical about it, especially since it falls into the trope of having the main characters doing everything.

Seriously.  Can't the "...galaxy far, far away..." even in the expanded universe, function without Luke, Liea, Han and Chewie?

Rogue One breaks this pattern.  And this is what I love most about the movie.  Swiping the Death Star plans cost the Rebel Alliance dearly.  It's not just red shirts dying on-screen, but the main characters.  All of them.

Even though this was a story about new characters on a one-way mission, there were plenty of appearances by iconic characters, thanks to cool, but sometimes unsettling CGI.

I'm not merely referring to Grand Moff Tarkin or Princess Liea either.  I got the biggest kick out of recognizing some of the rebel fighter pilots.  I didn't see Porkins, but some fans claim they did.

If you've never seen a Star Wars movie (I know of some people who haven't), then you only need to watch the original, Episode IV: A New Hope to fully appreciate the plot.

I use to love reading movie novelizations, because I'd gain deeper insights into the characters, setting and action.  However, haven't read movie-to-book in ages.

I think Rogue One will be worth reading.

Oh, and I'll probably be purchasing any Rogue One related wargame and role playing game materials once they're published.

(Image from:

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

After Action Review: Panzer Leader, Scenario #14

What's an Ardennes Offensive scenario in Panzer Leader without the Panzerlied "theme song?"

For the third and final wargame I managed to play in 2016, my friend Joe and I decided on a "Battle of the Bulge" session of Panzer Leader--the actual campaign, not the film.

(Image found on Pintrest)
But speaking of the mediocre movie, I took some liberties with our game and added it to this after action review (AAR).  For instance, I changed the name of "Kampfgruppe Peiper" to "Kampfgruppe Hessler," and imported a couple other movie characters, and even movie quotes, into this AAR.

Our game took place at Joe's house on 17 December--72 years and a day after this phase of the German offensive occurred.  The scenario was determined by a die roll, and we came up with this:

The German spearhead was led by Colonel Martin Hessler (played by Joe):

While the Americans were led by Major Wolenski (me):

For the AAR narrative I used the names of the towns printed on the Panzer Leader Boards C & D.  Also, Joe was kind enough to indulge me in my quest for cinematic quality.  Normally in the game when units fire, they're flipped over.  Instead of that, we used various counters from his Advanced Squad Leader game to illustrate a unit's status.

Here's the pre-game set up:

I wrote this AAR using a new template provided by the Comic Life program I use.

I'm rather excited about this first issue of The Broadside!  The images are in JPEG Format, which can be clicked-on to enlarge.  (And if you're like me, with "aging eyes," you may have to use the Zoom Function on your internet toolbar to enlarge the images even more in order to read the print). 

I also have a PDF version available, which I'll try to find places to post it on.


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