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Monday, October 20, 2014


I went to see the movie Fury this weekend, which took #1 at the box office, with Gone Girl at #2.  Rotten Tomatoes reviewers did not think especially highly of the film, rating it at 79%, but the audiences generally loved it, 90%.

Will the film get nominated for an Oscar?  Will Brad Pitt?  Or Logan Lerman (left, he was in Noah as Ham--and in case you were wondering from where came the title of the film)?  My wild guess is no for the film, but yes for Pitt (Best Actor), who plays the battle-tested and jaded tank sergeant, and Lerman (Supporting Actor), as the rookie who grows from scene to scene.  Fury is much like the 2009 Inglorious Bastards, also with Pitt, except the action for the former occurs mostly in and around a tank.

Thus, more than anything else, this was a tank flick.  I remember being curious about tanks when young, and enjoyed getting into them during Armed Forces Day.  Now I border on claustrophobia.  One of my nephews became a tank commander of a platoon and eventually quit the Army because his group never made it to the Middle East War in Iraq.  The military sent the first team, then a reserve outfit, and the insult was too much to take.  But he went on to become a doctor.  The Abrams tank (right) is used today and  apparently did not fare well in the Iraq War. Here are two hours of CNN Shock and Awe.

Anyway, there was a fight between Pitt's Sherman tank (above) against the vaunted German Tiger (below).  It is said that Germany felt they had miscalculated by never building a heavy bomber, like a B-29, so went overboard with the Tiger.  Hitler picked Henschel over Porsche in the competition to build the Tiger.  Designers married their legendary 88 mm howitzer unto the largest tank ever built (actually, to be perfectly correct, Germany built one Panzer Mouse, left, designed by Porsche, which was almost three times the weight of the Tiger).  The armor at the front would be more than twice that of the Sherman.  However, they had to minimize weight, so the rear was not so thick and therefore vulnerable.

Here is a 10 minute video comparing the American Sherman (though all the allies, including Russia, built their version of this) versus the German Tiger.  Can't really tell the physical difference unless you go to the vital statistics:
                                                                Sherman M4                 Tiger II

Number produced                                      49,234                           984

Primary canon                                           75 mm                         88 mm

Speed, up to                                             30 MPH                      26 MPH

Range                                                     120 miles                    75 miles

Armor  (front)                                           76 mm                         185 mm

Weight                                          66,800 pounds            153,800 pounds

Philosophy                                        support troops               destroy tanks
                                                           avoid tanks

The German shell is to the extreme right, while the American is third from the right.  The U.S. strategy about tanks was to build more.  This was necessary because Germany orchestrated tank battles at greater than a third of a mile, so, as the movie mentioned, Tigers destroyed something like 10 Shermans to one of theirs.  But this is Hollywood, so guess how smart Pitt was about strategy and who wins the battle?  Anyway, I'm not giving much away, for the real climax follows.  If you like a lot of shooting and gore in an R movie, go to Fury.

It would have made for a more interesting movie if they had also followed the crew of the German Tiger tank around, for much of what the Americans did were stretched out and somewhat boring.  As a minor aside, some say that the Russian T-34 was the best tank of World War II, but that will need to survive the test of another movie.  That could be a sequel, maybe this next time with George Clooney.  Oh, yes, John Wick opens this Friday, with Keanu Reaves, rated 100% by Rotten Tomatoes reviewers.


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