I don’t know about you, but it sometimes feels like military-centric film and television (particularly the latter) have gotten a bit stale, or rather, have been stale for easily a decade.
Now, there are some serious standouts here, like Sam Mendes’ World War I drama 1917, which was a cinematic marvel and a case study in the use of tension to drive a story. For two hours you followed a pair of soldiers on a suicide mission through a war-torn hell-scape as they navigated booby traps, snipers, and all manner of death. Other notable films include the World War II dramas Dunkirk, and Fury, as well as the post-9/11 dramas The Outpost and War Machine, and a few forrays into magical realism, such as Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. When it comes to television, however, the list feels a lot shorter. Hulu’s remake of Catch-22 felt like a genuine adaptation of the book, and one I personally loved. Netflix’s animated series The Liberator may have been another World War II series, but it offered viewers something different in terms of both aesthetic and story.
Video: Top 5 fictional warplanes
While there are likely other notable war films and shows out there, I can’t shake the feeling that they’re stuck in a bit of a rut. They tend to be either action-packed World War II blockbusters, like the CGI-heavy Midway, or soon-to-be-canceled procedurals with plotlines and dialogue that sound like they were written by people whose experience with the military came from other TV shows before they were focus-grouped to death by a bunch of people who’d probably never watch that stuff anyway. It’s almost like military television peaked with HBO’s beloved Band of Brothers and Generation Kill series.
There are a few bright spots on the horizon, however. The Vietnam War classic The Things They Carried by Timothy O’Brien is getting a mini-series makeover, yet that seems more like the exception than the rule, and honestly, that’s a shame. There are a wealth of stories out there from a range of conflicts, some of which have been largely overlooked. Personally, I’d love to see Karl Marlantes’ Vietnam War novel Matterhorn made into a mini-series, with the kind of big studio backing that allowed HBO’s Band of Brothers to bring together a dedicated crew of experienced actors, and a host of fresh talent. If not that, then perhaps a series on the Frozen Chosin of the Korean War — maybe even an animated series using the same (or similar) technology that allowed The Liberator to be made at a fraction of the cost of a live-action mini-series.
There are tons of books and plenty of material to pull from, so I’m curious: What do you think? What books would you like to see turned into films or television series? Let us know in the comments below.