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Review: The Dirty Dozen and Call of Duty

February 25, 2011

The Middle East is conspiring against this blog. Or at least that’s what I would say if I was an insane conspiracy nut who didn’t know any better. In all seriousness, the people in Tunisia and Egypt and Libya deserve just so much credit, because they are infinitely more brave than I am. Here’s hoping that everything over there gets resolved with as little bloodshed as possible.

Anyway, on to less serious matters. Here’s The Dirty Dozen and Call of Duty.

The movie stars Lee Marvin as Major Reisman, who has to convince twelve imprisoned soldiers (including such notables as Donald Sutherland, Telly Savalas, Charles Bronson, and former Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown) to join a unit to be dropped behind enemy lines. Once there, they are to infiltrate a French château, and kill every Nazi therein.

Along the way, they have to deal with domineering Colonel Everett Dasher Breed (Robert Ryan), the skeptical Major General Worden (Ernest Borgnine), and the inherent challenges that come from organizing twelve anti-authority prisoners into an efficient Nazi killing machine.

Just as a thought exercise, let’s tick off the things that make this movie great. Lee Marvin, one of the greatest action stars in American film history. Check. Donald Sutherland, Charles Bronson, and Telly Savalas, three of the staples of World War II movies. Check, check, and check. A memorable set-piece action sequence to finish the whole thing. Fucking check.

For me, there are five great World War II movies. The Great Escape, Saving Private Ryan, The Dirty Dozen, Kelly’s Heroes, and Stalag 17. If you’re in the mood for a war movie, pick any one of the above, and you can’t go wrong. I would definitely recommend that you buy the DVD if you get the chance, because if you watch it once, you’ll end up watching it many times. Those rental fees can really pile up.

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Call of Duty wasn’t the first World War II video game; It wasn’t even the first well-made World War II game. It is notable, however, for being the first game in one of the first series that would go on to take shooting Nazis and drive it straight into the ground. At the moment, there are more than eighty games dealing with World War II. That works out to about four and a half games per year since the 1992 release of Wolfenstien 3D. God damn.

There are three distinct campaigns in Call of Duty: the American campaign, taking Private Martin of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment from the D-Day landings, a mission to a Bavarian château, and near Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge; the British campaign, leading Sergeant Jack Evans through the capture and defense of Pegasus Bridge on D-Day, destroying anti-aircraft guns guarding a German dam, sneaking aboard the Battleship Tirpitz to plant bombs and retrieve documents detailing Kriegsmarine movements, and finally destroying a mobile V-2 site; and the Soviet campaign, with Corporal Alexei Voronin, taking part in the Siege of Stalingrad, capturing and defending an apartment building under the command of Sergeant Pavlov, capturing a Nazi tank repair facility in Warsaw, and finally raising the Soviet flag over the Reichstag.

1Up gave Call of Duty an A, and it is well deserved. There’s just this sort of epic feeling that the game puts out as you’re playing, a product of the level design, the orchestral score, and the fact that all of these events actually happened. There were men who went to these places, who gave their all to defend others. Even though it was made seven years ago, it’s still one of the best World War II games out there, and I highly recommend it. If you’re working on a FPS about the war, pay attention to this game. This is how you do it right.

Comments, questions or requests? The comments section is here to help.

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