The Great Raid director John Dahl didn't want to make a typical World War II movie. "I wanted to make something as historically accurate as possible," he says. "[Other films] have action-movie sensibilities brought to World War II. That wasn't [the veterans'] reality. It wasn't a lot of fun."
The film (which opens Friday) recounts the real-life story of a 1945 raid on a Philippines POW camp, in which 500 soldiers were rescued in what's touted as the largest liberation mission in U.S. history. The Bataan Death March remains the incident's most renowned event. "I heard about this story, but I didn't really know anything about it," says Dahl, who helmed The Last Seduction, Rounders, and Joy Ride. "World War II movies usually take place in Germany. I looked at it as a kind of new challenge."
The Great Raid doesn't star any A-listers (Spider-Man's James Franco, Gladiator's Connie Nielsen, and Law & Order's Benjamin Bratt head the cast), but its almost-anonymous actors lend the film an old-fashioned appeal. "War movies became thrill rides," says Dahl. "The main staple of action movies is this hyper action. I wanted to drive this toward more realistic characters." See Film for review. -- Michael Gallucci
The zoo hosts a chicken burn-off.
Darlene Norwood-English is a hot-sauce kinda gal, who'll put her tongue to the test at Wednesday's It's a Wing Thing! The chicken-wing cook-off among 13 restaurants -- from Buffalo Wild Wings and Jillian's to the Hard Rock Café and Wilbert's -- marks the 20th anniversary of Greater Cleveland Community Shares, which helps impoverished women. "I don't know if someone had just been to the rib burn-off [and got] the idea, but we wanted to celebrate somehow," says organizer Norwood-English, whose committee wanted to jump on the cook-off craze. If she has anything to say about it, the winning wing will definitely pack some heat. "If it makes you say, 'Mmm-mmm-mmm,' you've got a winner," she says. It happens from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's Palava Hut Pavilion, 3900 Wildlife Way. Tickets are $25 to $50; call 216-361-9920. -- Cris Glaser
War Is Swell
Classic battle movies get deployed on DVD.
What better way to celebrate the 60th anniversary of V-J Day (that would be Victory Over Japan) on Sunday than with some World War II movies. Fox Home Entertainment has just re-released a slew of titles on DVD. Our favorites: 1962's The Longest Day, in which Sean Connery, Henry Fonda, and Robert Mitchum lead a victorious D-Day assault; the still-gripping Patton (made at the height of the Vietnam War in 1970), starring Oscar winner George C. Scott as the fearsome four-star general; The Thin Red Line, Terrence Malick's metaphysical 1998 take on combat; and Twelve O'Clock High, a 1949 actioner about a group of bomber pilots, which entertained movie audiences mere years after the real thing. -- Michael Gallucci
Don't mistake the Lake County Fair for one of those freak-show-infested carnivals. "Our heart is in youth and family activities," says spokesman Bob Dawson. Families can check out tractor pulls, games, rodeos, and bull-riding demos. Sadly, no bearded ladies. It starts Tuesday and runs through August 21 from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. at the fairgrounds, 1301 Mentor Avenue in Painesville. Admission is $5, free for kids under 12; call 440-354-3339. -- Chad Felton