I haven’t really done a movie reaction in a long time. Frankly, Hollywood hasn’t put out anything good in ages… with a few notable exceptions.

Some of you may think I’m being hyperbolic in saying this. However, my wife and I recently saw this movie. I’d been dying to see it for a while because I’m a huge WW2 history buff and a horror movie junkie. Full disclosure, my wife does NOT like watching historical films with me. I have a tendency to point out inaccuracies to the point of nitpicking.

Here’s the basic plot of the movie from Wikipedia… (Feel free to skip this section if you’ve already seen it…)

In August 1943, RAF Pilot Officer Maude Garrett is assigned to travel with a top secret package from Auckland, New Zealand, to Samoa. When she arrives at the airbase at night, she wanders the tarmac before suddenly finding herself standing right in front of her transport, an American B-17 bomber named The Fool’s Errand. The mixed-nationality Allied crew gives her a mostly derisive welcome, and she is quartered in the empty Sperry ball turret for the takeoff. With no room left for her document valise, she reluctantly allows the only friendly crew member, USAAF dorsal gunner Walter Quaid, to store it. During takeoff, Maude sees another aircraft in the clouds, confirmed by navigator Finch. Pilot Reeves and RNZAF co-pilot Williams question her ability to identify aircraft.

Still riding in the ball turret, Maude sees some sort of winged creature clinging to the underside of the bomber’s wing. She reports it, but most of the crew, except tail gunner Beckell, who also sees it, derides her claim. When she is allowed to leave the turret, the hatch malfunctions, trapping her inside. When she reacts indignantly to the crew’s comments about her situation, they abandon their attempt to open the stuck hatch and switch off her intercom. After seeing a Japanese aircraft appearing and disappearing in the clouds close to the bomber, she is abruptly attacked by the creature, a gremlin. She fights it off but ends up being injured. When the crew contacts her again to ask what happened, RAF Scottish radio operator Taggart cuts in telling them that “Maude Garrett” does not exist and is not registered for their flight. When they begin to remove her for questioning, Maude deliberately jams the turret’s gears and prepares to defend herself. Suddenly, the Japanese aircraft reappears and opens fire. In the excitement, Maude switches to an American accent as she takes control of the gun turret, shooting down the fighter and winning the crew’s grudging respect.

Maude confirms that she truly is a WASP, but admits she is actually married and boarded the B-17 under her maiden name. She refuses to reveal her mission, citing its secrecy. She again sees the gremlin continuing to sabotage the bomber. Eventually, waist gunner Dorn sights it too, but the others disregard his observation. Suspecting Maude’s assignment is the cause of their misfortunes, Reeves gives the order to open the bag, which contains an infant, Maude’s and Sgt. Quaid’s extramarital child. Forced to confess, Maude explains that she was severely mistreated by her husband. She had an affair with Quaid and became pregnant. Deciding not to inform Quaid, Maude faked her assignment to the bomber in order to escape her husband, who is following her and will kill her in his rage over the affair.

Just as Captain Reeves turns back to the airbase, three Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighters attack and the gremlin boards the bomber, injures Quaid, and kidnaps the infant. When the gremlin appears outside the turret with her baby in the bag, Maude exits the turret and fires her handgun at it, driving it off. The bag is now hanging precariously from the closest engine nacelle. Risking a perilous climb under the wing, Maude is able to retrieve her child and reboard the bomber through the now shot away ball turret opening. The gremlin attacks again, throwing Taggart out of the bomber before Maude can eject it. When Reeves, Finch, and Dorn are killed by additional Japanese machine gun fire, Maude takes command and brings down the heavily damaged bomber roughly but safely in a controlled crash landing on land. The gremlin reappears on the ground and tries to snatch the baby once again, but Maude is finally able to kill the creature, ending the threat. She and the remaining survivors watch as The Fool’s Errand burns and explodes.

So we sat down to watch the movie and the first indication that this movie didn’t really care about historical accuracy AT ALL, was when the air crew forced our heroine into the ball turret on the ventral side of the craft… Except that this turret cannot be opened and boarded when the plane is on the ground, by design, but let’s move on.

I have to admit that over the years I’ve gotten to the point where I am never surprised by human behavior. Frequently disappointed, but never surprised. This movie was terrible. Throughout the entire film, all the air crew did was act like assholes to Maude, making all kinds of inappropriate comments to her, things that would get you put in front of an HR rep if you said them and worse. Now here’s the thing… I know these were young men from a slightly simpler time when the norms and standards that exist today weren’t really recognized. However, this movie goes WAY over the top basically creating a cartoonish caricature (yes, I’m aware of the redundancy, but I’m trying to drive the point home) of chauvinism. Making it equal parts uncomfortable and nearly unwatchable, even for those who agree with the message that it’s trying to push.

At the end of the day, this movie is basically the archetype of the right-wing stereotype of movie writing in Hollywood. It’s the trope that basically, in order to push a strong female lead character, they make their lead almost saintly while making everyone else around her extremely flawed to the point of villain-level behavior. It doesn’t work, and while some films are flagrantly mislabelled this way due to… let’s just call them a “protective fanbase”, this film actually fits that mold perfectly.

So there are two crimes committed here that I see… The first is that this really doesn’t give the lead much in the way of a character. There’s no room for growth, no internal flaws to overcome, nothing that really makes her character relatable, other than her devotion to her baby. What’s worse though is that it detracts from actual women that did amazing and heroic things during the European wars, who really deserve to have their stories told.
Two good examples I’ll give you are Milunka Savic, who was basically Serbia’s version of Mulan during WW1. I’m not even kidding, look up her story! Another is the Russian 588th Night Bomber Regiment during WW2. Their deeds gained them the nickname “The Night Witches”.
These brave women deserve to have their story told and would be an awesome girl power message because they actually stood out, even among heroic men. Movies like this are unnecessary.

The second crime… where do I begin?
Rant time, baby!!

I know they’ll never read this, but whatever. You know, Roseanna Liang and Chloe Moretz… when you portray the heroes of WW2 the way you did, you’re not just doing your dollar-store version of a “girl power” message, but it really seems that what is important to you is not properly portraying history or the men and women who lived through it. It is about how you see reality, and yes, I’m aware that this movie was about gremlins, but the gremlin was barely in the movie at all and focused more on realistic elements.

Now, the problem with a view like that is that you then get the idea that you can just make up whatever you want. You can fabricate things and bend and twist the realities pertaining to some of the greatest heroes our world has ever known. You can exaggerate about history; glorify, demonize, and use these people to suit whatever narrative you want to push. You can literally make up the truth about people who went over there and lose their lives and gave everything they had during this terrible war.

As a writer, there is a reason I don’t screw around with this and you will never see me write about WW1, WW2, or beyond and the horrible events surrounding them. These are people who were drafted, who volunteered, who had war thrust upon them and many didn’t make it home. When you decide to make a movie or write a story that directly ties into them, you’re taking up the responsibility to show that and to get these things right. Again, these are WW2 soldiers, sailors, aviators, etc. Men and yes, women,  did the jobs the men in your movie did! They actually existed.
Don’t you DARE tell me that it’s just a movie! The sad fact is that the majority of people these days get their history, not from books, but from movies. As such, once again, you need to at least try to get these things right. If not, then you didn’t have to make up a movie about WW2 aviators treating a woman that way! Yes, I am aware that not everyone who fought was heroic and some men were that awful to women, but nowhere near the majority and that’s how they’re portrayed.
If you wanted total creative freedom, you could have done something in a future state or another reality where stuff like this was the norm. That I would have accepted. What I won’t accept is someone distorting people and events that still exist, that really happened, and are still very painful to a lot of people, all to suit their own agendas.
When you take this on, you have to grow up and be an adult, and actually represent these people as the heroes they were. It is as simple as that.
The funny part of all of this was that my wife shook her head at the end of the movie was like, “This stunk. Are you happy now? Can we get a refund?”
So was this the worst World War 2 movie ever? Ehhh… It’s certainly up there. However, it didn’t actually attempt to portray anyone who actually existed as a jackass like say Pearl Harbor or the newer Midway movie. It’s a terrible film with a bad plot, unrelatable, unrealistic characters, and absolutely no concern for history or even the laws of physics in some cases, but it didn’t seem like it had much reach and has flown mostly under the radar.
It’s sad, because I am a huge fan of Ms. Moretz in a lot of her other work. (Let Me In, despite being a remake is still the best Vampire movie out there!)
So all I can say is that, if you’ve seen this movie, I’m sorry. If not, I don’t recommend it. I do sincerely hope the women who actually did heroic things, suffered, died, and enshrined their names in the history books, some day get their due… because this movie does them no favors. That’s all for today! Rant over.


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

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