In any case, while the legendarily-troubled production of Apocalypse Now has been said to have drained (if not all-but extinguished) the life from director Coppola, it gave Milius some of the clout he needed to emerge as a visionary in his own right in the decade that followed. Along with Red Dawn, he wrote and directed cult classics like Conan the Barbarian and Flight of the Intruder, the latter of which has been called a response to Apocalypse's version of Vietnam.


In the 90s and early 2000s, Milius turned his attentions more toward television and other projects. While making the Teddy Roosevelt actioner Rough Riders for TNT, he got involved with a campaign to award Roosevelt - unsurprisingly a personal hero of his - a posthumous Medal of Honor for events depicted in the film (the movement succeeded). Later, he'd co-create the hit HBO series Rome. More unexpectedly, he was involved in the creative planning for the early days of the Ultimate Fight Championship. The UFC's now-famous Octagon fighting space? He came up with that.

It's likely that the same unique mix of qualities that made him at once invaluable yet occasionally out-of-place in Hollywood - military history expertise, love of epic mythmaking, and genuine screenwriting talent - are what have made Milius suddenly seem so appropriate for the videogame world. Movies, with their emphasis on broad third-person narratives, have had great difficulty rediscovering the concept, whether mythic or real, of glory or even simple heroism in a wartime setting in the lingering shadows of Vietnam and the similar, growing shadow of Iraq. But videogames set in the theater of war, particularly first person shooters like Homefront, are a different story. With perspective often narrowed to the experience of only a single character, war games have become the New Millennium's home for tales of soldiering as a character-building experience.

For good or ill, the Call of Duty-era of shooters sells not just gameplay, but the opportunity to experience an often starkly-real(ish) simulation of the Great Warrior Myth: the lone soldier, pitted against hundreds on a bloodied battlefield a thousand miles from home with only his skill and determination to see him through. It's a story Milius has been telling his whole career. We'll know soon enough if this marriage of man and medium yields worthy results in Homefront, but I for one hope it's not the last the gaming world sees of this particular Hollywood visitor.

Bob Chipman is a film critic and independent filmmaker. If you've heard of him before, you have officially been spending way too much time on the internet.

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