Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Movie Review: "Phantom"

During the first few years of this blog, one of the regular features was movie reviews. I haven't been doing as many of those lately, but I figured I owed it to my readers to take one for the team and see the new submarine movie, "Phantom". I hadn't heard that much about it, and frankly my expectations were pretty low -- I really figured it would have a low level of submarine accuracy.

As it turns out, it's clear that they had an actual Submariner as a technical adviser, and they listened to him for the most part. While I don't have specific expertise on the operations of a Soviet Golf-class submarine in the late '60s, a lot of the submarine verbiage was at least semi-accurate, and the movement of crew members throughout the boat looked pretty realistic. Except for some serious issues with the concept of ordered depths during an attempted underhull, and what seemed like some illogical sequences of operation during surfacing and submerging (although who's to say how the Soviets did things on old diesel boats?) it wasn't nearly as bad as I expected.

The story itself was pretty poor. Supposedly based on the loss of the K-129 in 1968, with a script adapted from "Red Star Rogue" by Kenneth Sewell [who also wrote a book theorizing that USS Scorpion (SSN 589) was sunk by the Soviets], you have to suspend disbelief even more than normal for a Cold War tale. Ed Harris did a good job as the CO, and David Duchovny played the character he always plays -- no better, no worse than normal.

Although I went into the movie expecting to give it "the finger", I was impressed enough by the level of accuracy of submarine operations to move it up to two annoying metaphysical endings out of five.


Anonymous NHSparky said...

Meaning basically that the top spot still belongs to Das Boot, and Crimson Tide is still teh suck. IOW, not worth the $1 at Redbox when it gets there next week.

Thanks for taking one for the team.

3/03/2013 7:19 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll spend a dollar fifty or whatever it is at Redbox, just because of Ed Harris. I guess I have to go back to the futile exercise of holding out hope that Hollywood comes up with something good someday.

3/03/2013 8:21 AM

Anonymous EW3 said...

I'd think Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea would rank as the worse. But having said that it's one of those things in my life that lured me into a technology career. Just love listening to all those old fashion SPST switches being thrown.

3/03/2013 9:23 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem with submarine movies is the subject matter: actual submarine life. Let's face it, life on a submarine designed for war is boring. Sure there are some moments of excitement but those are few and far.

Admin, training, watch, admin, training, eat, sleep and then start the day again. It is worse for those back aft because they lack the operational insight.

Don't get me wrong, I was involved in some pretty cool ops over a 24 year career, but all in all, there was a lot of boredom...not something that translates into a good movie.

Jim C.
Retired ANAV

3/03/2013 9:55 AM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

Jim--I dunno. If they could make a Seinfeld-like series revolving around Maneuvering midwatch discussions, that might end up working.

Can't be any worse than that steaming pile of a series, "Last Resort."

3/03/2013 4:17 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, that's actually not a bad idea. Maybe they could call it something like "A Bell for Adonis." (Ask not for whom the paint fades. It fades for thee).

3/03/2013 7:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So a Nuke version of 'Hey, Shipwreck'?

3/03/2013 8:55 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

looking for depictions of reality at the movies is a fool's errand....

3/03/2013 9:49 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll give it a chance Joel. Thanks for having the bravery!
OBTW, I liked last resort, it was a good show, until you brought submarine operations into it. Those @SS clowns had no idea of what it would take to keep that boat operational 24 hours a day.
I think what most are looking for is the cold acid etched humor like that of Hey, Shipwreck. Down Periscope was another great one. I don't know which was better, the sonar tech or the Radioman.


3/03/2013 9:58 PM

Anonymous Dardar the Submarian said...

"Down Periscope" was the most accurate for submarine operations.

I had both of those guys on the Gato.

3/04/2013 4:34 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Crimson Tide is probably the worst submarine movie that I have seen.

As OOD, I once tried snapping my fingers to the COB and ordering him to get my side arm...

He didn't listen.

3/04/2013 6:19 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@anon 6:19AM

I'm surprised that the COB didn't snap back at you ordering a black & bitter. But alas, this is a NEW Navy...

No leadeship, just polls.

3/04/2013 7:29 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you think Crimson Tide is bad you have not seen enough submarine movies. Steel Sharks is far far worse.

The CO is played by an aging Gary Busey, and his Admiral is Billy Dee Williams. SONAR looks exactly like a radar, and every time they "dive" Gary Busey just grabs onto something and sticks his butt out while the rotate the camera to obscene camera angles.

Crimson tide, in all honesty, is not THAT bad (especially when compared to steel sharks). Yeah, the XO does not stand much OOD in real life, but the 1MC's for SLBM ops were almost right, and some of the sets looked at least like somebody had been inside an SSBN before.

Never been on a Russian sub, but what I remember of the Engine room set in Widowmaker also makes me shake my head.

3/04/2013 8:02 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As long as, at some point in the movie, the CO did't shout the order..."Axiiary Electrician, electrify the hull!", it might be worth a watch.

3/04/2013 8:04 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Crimson Tide is actually kind of scary since Gene Hackman did a good job of channeling Skip Beard in the movie. All of the BS aside in the movie they got a lot right.

3/04/2013 10:58 AM

Anonymous Dardar the Submarian said...

They got it right, except for the whole "tactical launch" order, and "oh, by the way, it was a tactical launch exercise. Just playin'"

I like that feature on guns, when you pull the trigger, and if you don't want to really shoot someone, you recall the bullet.

3/04/2013 11:18 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least one submariner O-6 has weighed in on the "Phantom" flick: In his own words....

3/04/2013 2:19 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

God damnt Vaginis. Go away!

3/04/2013 2:58 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sewell's book is a good read. Leave it to Hwood to muck it up

3/04/2013 9:52 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to Sewell, he pretty much did everything for the movie!

BTW, been on the B-19 and I'm glad I did not serve on it!

Old chief from the dark ages

3/04/2013 10:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@8:02. On the Tullibee, the sonar looked like a radar screen. The difference was you had to manually rotate the beam to what you wanted to listen to, so it had a steering wheel also. It was the first spherical array.


3/04/2013 10:45 PM

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3/05/2013 4:27 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This just in...Rickover is now "infamous" according to this DoD article.

Who knew...?

3/05/2013 9:21 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

He is infamous and the nuclear Navy's love affair with his antiquated philosophy does more harm than good in the 21st century.

I wish more people who interviewed with him were like ADM Zumwalt and told him to shove his bad attitude and slave-labor nuclear power program. Then again, I wish more leaders in general were like ADM Zumwalt.

3/05/2013 9:37 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

^^^Why is it that we all get the very clear feeling that you don't know one single thing about Rickover's "philosophy," and that you're basically just talking shit...?

Read up, 'Z-gram' boy...and learn something before you speak. If you're a skimmer, so much the better...and let's just go on ahead and get this out of the way right now: "Rat shit, bat shit, gobble gobble's to the skimmers: FUCK YOU!"

Rickover (1981): Doing a Job

Rickover (1982): Thoughts on Man's Purpose in Life"

3/05/2013 10:29 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haven't heard this since the last sub ball when everybody got in the shyt's for singing it. That's when I stopped going. Thanks for the smile.


3/05/2013 10:44 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're retarded. Yea, fuck you to ADM Zumwalt. We should make all enlisted servicemembers live in the barracks or on base housing regardless of rate and marital status.

How's that suicide rate in the nuke pipeline doing? That's because Rickover promised he could make a nuke in 1 year as part of his sales pitch for the program. Fast forward to today and if we upheld the standards of yester-year, there'd be no one left in the program to push the boat. But we'll make you spend 80-90 hours a week studying because that's the tradition of the program.

Zumwalt passed Rickover's silly multi-day interview and declined the job. He went on to be CNO and did more for enlisted QOL and racial integration than any of his predecessors. Rickover did more to ruin enlisted QOL than almost anyone I can think of. He did it to get nuclear power to stick around, but he still did it nonetheless.

So yea, fuck that skimmer and your BAH. He's clearly a fag and you're obviously overpaid.

3/05/2013 11:00 PM

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

@11:00 PM Anon: Does doing "more for enlisted QOL" include Agent Orange? Or is that fact a little too inconvenient...?

Maybe if Zummie and his minions had been a tad more technically competent and questioning of the details -- something he'd have picked up under Rickover's tutelage -- we wouldn't have had thousands of fatalities and damage to the offspring of vets from Agent Orange.

I get the sense that you by no means served under Zumwalt, but are rather coasting on the phantom 'knowledge' of someone's skewed and fawning history book. In other words, this is all just hypothetical bullshitting on your part.

I lost a truly great uncle to one of the many grave outcomes of being exposed to Agent Orange when he was in 'Nam. No hypotheticals here.

Rest their souls, Zumwalt (by way of guilt) and his son (by way of cancer from Agent Orange) and his grandson (by way of genetic damage from his father's exposure to Agent Orange) paid a price as well.

I can forgive Zumwalt for being a technical buffoon and not asking the right, very basic questions before ordering the widespread use of Agent Orange...but I surely do not deify the guy, either. As well, his positive accomplishments while in the Navy pale in comparison to Rickover's. Rickover and his dedication to details effectively armed and won the Cold War for the U.S.. Vietnam didn't turn out so well for Zumwalt; regardless of the mitigating political buffoonery, it happened on his watch.

3/06/2013 11:11 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well. no discussion on a submariner blog about the late Admiral Z. could ever be complete without this observattion:

Elmo R. Zumwalt III (his son) died of cancer in 1988, apparently due to Agent Orange exposure.

Not only did the admiral curtail rations commensurate with sacrifice to submariners, he more than likely contributed to the premature death of his own son.

As the late Gen. Norman Shwatzkopf once said (of Saddam Husein), "...he is neither a strategist, nor is he schooled in the operational arts, nor is he a tactician, nor is he a general, nor is he a soldier. Other than that, he's a great military man, I want you to know that. - Norman Schwarzkopf

3/06/2013 7:34 PM

Blogger Scott Minium said...

I loved Down Periscope.

What about one called "The Prince of Darkness"?

3/07/2013 2:11 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


How's your 1MC practice coming along? Up to five minutes of meditation to help with all those preperformance jitters, butterflies, etc. Deep breath, PTT. Annunciate clearly, but do not overly "project" (to avoid clipping, distortion). Practice with various positions relative to the speaker to find what works best with your voice type. (Soprano? Falsetto?) Still having difficulties? (Spit out your gum).

Also, you may find that a 3x5 card "cheat sheet" somewhat helpful as an aid to making proper reports. Once you've mastered what it is your actually supposed to say - word for word (yes, it's important) - it can safely be dispensed with, over time. Allow yourself plenty of time, say, two years to get it right. No pressure. Let us know when you hit that magic milestone of two in a row.

Hope this helps, you flippin' NQP troll.

3/07/2013 6:08 AM

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3/07/2013 2:56 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The topic was interesting but the comments are pathetic. What kind of low-rate morons have you befriended here Joel?

3/07/2013 10:06 PM

Anonymous Dardar the Submarian said...

@3/07/2013 10:06 PM

Are you including the witty quip you have added - Tick Turd.

At least provide some type of ID when you pile it on.

3/08/2013 4:45 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here are some quotes for the whining, low-rate moron (skimmer?...but I repeat myself) two posts back.


3/08/2013 11:01 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dardar and your sidekick Cheers - two pathetic losers, or should I say... lovers. Great to see you two working it together. Posting with the ID Dardar seems to give you the illusion of some intellectual advantage over others. Tell me more about that. I can see that you both had to reach pretty deep into your combined intellect to come up with profound terms like tick turd and skimmer.

Cheers Dardar

3/08/2013 6:58 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


In other news: "Top Secret Submarine Program Saturday"...a presentation on NR-1 available to those of us who live in the Saratoga Springs area.

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