Transformers: The Last Knight Preview

There were a number of high profile candidates for BMT Live! this year, but as with any crowded BMT field we couldn’t get to all of them. One obvious candidate that missed out on that prime spot was the 5th in a major SciFi blockbuster series. That’s right! We’re finally watching Transformers: The Last Knight! The second in the Cade Yeager (actual name from the film) set of Transformers films. This one didn’t garner any better reviews than most of the entries in the series. Not surprising since they seem to unapologetically produce big screen gobbledegook in the hopes that everyone is so confused that they shrug their shoulders and say “Good for what is it.” But as Mother Teresa once said, “you can’t polish a turd,” so let’s just see how shiny they made this thing. Let’s go!

Transformers: The Last Knight (2017) – BMeTric: 60.5

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(While the vote count is a classic (I do love it when you have enough data points to see the almost perfect asymptotic approach that occurs with a limit, i.e. theatrical release) the rating is somewhat abnormal. Usually a low rating will rise as more people see a film. Here it has fallen slightly. Maybe because in VOD more people who aren’t big fans will see it? I would expect it to rise a bit over the next few years though. It is just the nature of the game.)

RogerEbert.com – 1 star –  Here’s where the chorus of Critic-Proof Franchises kicks in. Michael Bay made this for fans of the franchise and not the notoriously-hard-on-it critics. Diehards will ignore that I liked the first film and parts of the third and fourth films (the second is still a cinematic abomination). I get it. We love to forgive the failures of franchises we adore. Even critics do that. But even fans of this series have to take a hard look at the outright, shocking laziness of this movie—one that does the bare minimum to get butts in seats.

(Yup. I’ve been convinced that the Transformers producers have been bringing Bay back to try and get one thing: movie critics to just say “it’s good for what it is!” and then waltz to the bank for that cool billion dollar payday. Fast and the Furious does it, why can’t this? Mainly it is because the charisma of Vin Diesel and The Rock keep that franchise from seeming lazy. I do think Bay is gone from the series now and I don’t think they’ll ever reach that F&F place. Too bad for them.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgnO5fO46pE

(That song is a big old pile of shit. The movie seems entertaining if you kind of pretend this is the first or second in the series. The issue is they keep on revising when and how the transformers got here. First they followed the Allspark to Earth. Oh wait no there was The Fallen way long ago. Oh wait, they were at the moon landing. Oh wait, they were around with the dinosaurs. Oh wait, they’ve been in literally every war in human history. To hard to keep straight at this point. Should have jumped forward to after the war has torn Earth apart in the third movie and ignored the mythology crap at that point.)

Directors – Michael Bay – (Known For: 13 Hours; Transformers; The Rock; Bad Boys; Pain & Gain; Future BMT: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen; Pearl Harbor; Transformers: Dark of the Moon; Armageddon; Bad Boys II; The Island; BMT: Transformers: The Last Knight; Transformers: Age of Extinction; Razzie Notes: Won for Worst Director in 2010 for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen; and in 2015 for Transformers: Age of Extinction; and Nominated for Worst Director in 1999 for Armageddon; in 2002 for Pearl Harbor; and in 2012 for Transformers: Dark of the Moon; Notes: Director Hall of Famer I would guess. I’ve seen nearly all of his movies, but we have to BMTize them at some point. Bad Boys II is actually an interesting one, because people online love it for some reason. It is, in fact, a giant load of shit.)

Writers – Art Marcum  and Matt Holloway (screenplay by & story by) – (Known For: Iron Man; BMT: Transformers: The Last Knight; Punisher: War Zone; Notes: Already tabbed to write the next two (ugh) Transformers films. Wrote a script for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot which was never used.)

Ken Nolan (screenplay by & story by) – (Known For: Only the Brave; Black Hawk Down; BMT: Transformers: The Last Knight; Notes: Bother of actor Matt Nolan who has kind of bumped around doing small film parts and minor television roles, although in big projects like 24. He is one of those guys who has been in Hollywood as a full time scriptwriter for over 20 years with only a few movies produced. His first spec, In Contempt, for example, was sold for over a million dollars, but never produced. He has multiple major unproduced scripts floating about Hollywood at this point.)

Akiva Goldsman (story by) – (Known For: A Beautiful Mind; Batman Forever; I Am Legend; I, Robot; A Time to Kill; Cinderella Man; The Client; Future BMT: Batman & Robin; Lost in Space; The Dark Tower; Practical Magic; Insurgent; Silent Fall; The Da Vinci Code; Angels & Demons; BMT: Rings; Transformers: The Last Knight; The 5th Wave; A New York Winter’s Tale; Razzie Notes: Nominated for Worst Screenplay for Batman & Robin in 1998; and Nominated for Worst Written Film Grossing Over $100 Million for A Time to Kill in 1997; Notes: We mentioned him in the Rings preview obviously. He is a gigantic screenwriter, although now a producer as well. He’s executive producing the new Star Trek series for example.)

Actors – Mark Wahlberg – (Known For: The Departed; Boogie Nights; Planet of the Apes; Lone Survivor; Deepwater Horizon; Shooter; Patriots Day; Ted 2; 2 Guns; The Other Guys; Ted; Four Brothers; The Italian Job; Rock Star; Pain & Gain; Invincible; The Fighter; Date Night; The Perfect Storm; The Basketball Diaries; Future BMT: Max Payne; The Truth About Charlie; Daddy’s Home; Mojave; Broken City; Fear; Renaissance Man; Daddy’s Home 2; Entourage; The Lovely Bones; BMT: The Happening; Transformers: The Last Knight; Transformers: Age of Extinction; Razzie Notes: Nominated for Worst Actor in 2009 for Max Payne, and The Happening; Notes: Basically a Hall of Famer solely from The Happening where his performance is off the chain. We have a million to go with him … brother of Donnie Wahlberg and co-owner of the Wahlberger franchise.)

Anthony Hopkins – (Known For: Thor: Ragnarok; How the Grinch Stole Christmas; Thor; Thor: The Dark World; The Silence of the Lambs; Dracula; Noah; Legends of the Fall; Meet Joe Black; Fracture; Howards End; Red Dragon; The Elephant Man; Beowulf; Chaplin; Mission: Impossible II; The Mask of Zorro; RED 2; The Lion in Winter; A Bridge Too Far; Future BMT: Alexander; Freejack; Bad Company; Misconduct; The Wolfman; Slipstream; The Rite; Desperate Hours; Collide; Kidnapping Freddy Heineken; All the King’s Men; 360; Solace; Instinct; Surviving Picasso; Hannibal; The Innocent; The Trial; BMT: Transformers: The Last Knight; A Change of Seasons; Razzie Notes: Nominated for Worst Actor for A Change of Seasons in 1981; Notes: Obviously a giant star as well. Notably won the Oscar for Best Actor in Silence of the Lambs, a movie he appeared in for approximately 15 minutes total.)

Josh Duhamel – (Known For: Transformers; You’re Not You; Ramona and Beezus; Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!; Wrecked; Future BMT: Paradise Lost; The Romantics; Misconduct; Fire with Fire; Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen; CHIPS; The Institute; Transformers: Dark of the Moon; Life as We Know It; Don Peyote; Lost in the Sun; This Is Your Death; Strings; BMT: Movie 43; Transformers: The Last Knight; When in Rome; New Year’s Eve; Safe Haven; Notes: I’m a big Duhamel-head after Safe Haven. Interesting like. Born in North Dakota he was a construction worker at 26 and ended up kind of falling into modelling. Ultimately that lead to acting when he was specifically asked to audition for The Picture of Dorian Grey.)

Budget/Gross – $217–260 million / Domestic: $130,168,683 (Worldwide: $605,425,157)

(Reasonably. It isn’t blowing people away anymore though. They kind of want / expect / need this to be a billion dollar franchise. But a few hundred million is also nothing to sneeze at all said and done. I assume they will complete the second trilogy. We’ll see what happens then.)

#28 for the CGI Star genre

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(You might wonder what happened in 2010 to make this so highly profitable. It was Avatar. This movie is actually quite low, around the Ang Lee Hulk film as far as domestic gross. Saved by Chine it would seem. There were also 6 films with a CGI star this year! That’s ridiculous.)

#12 for the Cyborg / Android / Robot genre

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(Three this year and this guy comes in just after I, Robot which is pretty bad. The plot is pretty uninteresting though. Films about robots have been popular from around 2005 it would seem … basically when the original Transformers came out.)

#16 for the Sci-Fi – Alien Invasion genre

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(Peaked around 2012 when The Avengers came out. This is below Chicken Little! The more I read the more I realize that domestically this was an incredible bomb! Anyways, the genre is kind of waning a bit, at least the per theater take is.)

#12 for the TV Cartoon (Live Action) genre

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(Transformers has kind of fueled the genre a bit, but Alvin and the Chipmunks is also obviously pretty dominant as well. Right behind The Flintstones … my God.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 15% (31/202): Cacophonous, thinly plotted, and boasting state-of-the-art special effects, The Last Knight is pretty much what you’d expect from the fifth installment of the Transformers franchise.

(Cacophonous. Cacophonous … I’m liking the sound of that in a way. Very nice. I want to see some transforming and a plot that make literally no sense. Let’s do it.)

Poster – Sklogformers: The Last Sklog (D+)

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(This poster tells me a story. That story is “your brain will explode as you try to discern what is happening on screen just like your brain is exploding trying to understand what is going on with this mess of a poster.” Why is everything in the world on this poster? At least it has some font action.)

Tagline(s) – For one world to live, the other must die. (A-)

(Nice cadance and use of live-die. Short and sweet and a little hint at the plot. Overall this is pretty good. A fun pun would have gone a long way to hitting that A+.)

Keyword(s) – based on toy; Top Ten by BMeTric: 77.7 Bratz (2007); 75.6 Ouija (II) (2014); 62.1 Max Steel (2016); 60.8 The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (1987); 60.5 Transformers: The Last Knight (2017); 53.4 Jem and the Holograms (2015); 44.8 Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014); 40.9 G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009); 40.8 G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013); 34.4 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009);

(Ooooooh yeah. We almost watched Max Steel. We were really close. Ouija is almost obviously the creme de la creme for these guys. Just ridiculous that was made. Even more ridiculous that its sequel ended up being good!)

Notes – With a budget of $217 million dollars, the most expensive Transformers at the time of release. (Until the next one)

The scenes of Sir Edmund Burton visiting 10 Downing Street were filmed at the actual office of the British Prime Minister in October 2016. (This is what happens when you’re Michael Fucking Bay)

Mark Wahlberg announced this will be his last Transformers movie as Cade Yeager. He had signed a contract for three films, with the knowledge that he could be relieved earlier. (But… but… but… I was promised a second trilogy)

Director Michael Bay is a noted dog lover, and he cast Freya, a British dog with epilepsy that many homes had rejected, in the film. (I wanted to say this was an obvious PR plot but apparently it is not. Actual true story. Wow)

Writer Matt Holloway is a fan of the drama Downton Abbey (2010), and jokingly said that Jim Carter (who plays the butler Mr. Carson in the show) should voice Cogman. He was shocked when Michael Bay got Carter signed on as Cogman. (Again, this is just Bay seeing how far he can push his Bay-ness)

Michael Bay said that this will be the last Transformers film he will direct, for the moment. He is open to doing more films in the future, if he gets a good story. (A good story never stopped him before. Ay oh)

After the release of Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), a writers’ room was setup to plan the franchise’s future beyond the main film series. Two of the ideas pitched involved the Arthurian myth and World War II respectively. Michael Bay liked them so much that he decided to incorporate them into the script for this film. (I want an entire television series just about this writer’s room. I’ll call it Michael Bay’s Writers Room)

Shia LaBeouf and Nicola Peltz appeared in this film, although it was only their portraits. (Count it! Shia LaBeouf is in this movie)

While shooting in England, Mark Wahlberg spent time at St. Aidan’s Church incognito, and made donations. No one knew anything until afterwards. Reverend Father Des McGiven said, “It’s great that we had him in for the service, and we appreciate his generosity towards our church.” (I’m not sure how to respond to this obviously pandering imdb trivia note… good for Mark Wahlberg I guess)

This film features the myth of King Arthur. Michael Bay was previously going to direct King Arthur (2004), and had worked on that film for five years, before leaving it, due to budget issues. (Michael Bay gets the budget that he wants. No questions asked).

Michael Bay originally wanted to pass on directing this film, but was persuaded to do one more by Peter Cullen. (So you’re telling me the voice actor who voices Optimus Prime for like 2 days in a sound studio convinced Bay to return… that is just clearly bullshit).

Part of the film was shot at Stonehenge. Michael Bay requested to shoot an explosion on the location, but was denied, so he had a set of Stonehenge constructed to shoot the explosion. (Wait, Michael Bay was denied something?! That… that doesn’t make sense. Michael Bay gets what Michael Bay wants and if he wants to blow up Stonehenge then you let him do it)

Peter Cullen, Reno Wilson, and Mark Ryan are the only actors to appear in all five live-action Transformers films, with Cullen as Optimus Prime, Wilson playing Frenzy, Mudflap, Brains, Mohawk, and Sqweeks, and Mark Ryan voicing Bumblebee, Jetfire, a military drone operator, Lockdown, and Bulldog. (This is actually a really good factoid. An impossible trivia question).

The filmmakers admitted that there were production difficulties in this film, which resulted in a lot of material planned and filmed, but which never made it to the film. (Give me those cut scenes and bloopies. I needs them)

Hot Rod’s French accent was Michael Bay’s idea, as he thought it would give Hot Rod a unique character. (Well I hope he’s as racist as the Mexican robots he had in previous installments.)

Ken Nolan wrote the role of Sir Edmund specifically for Sir Anthony Hopkins. (Facts like this are said too often to actually be true. Later we’re going to hear about all the actors that were up for the part of Ken Nolan)

Though this film was successful, grossing over $600 million worldwide, this is the lowest grossing film of the Transformers franchise. (They must have been so disappointed that they immediately greenlighted Transformers 6 for a 2019 release.)

This is the third Transformers film to be outgrossed by a computer animated threequel. This film was outgrossed by Despicable Me 3 (2017). The first was Transformers, (2007) which was outgrossed by Shrek the Third (2007), and the second was Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009), which was outgrossed by Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009). But while Transformers was $89.7 million behind Shrek the Third and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was $50.4 million behind Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, this film is over $420 million behind Despicable Me 3. (This is a really weird and interesting factoid)

This is the second Transformers installment for Stanley Tucci, who played Merlin. Previously he played Joshua Joyce in Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014). (Wait… what?!)

The Autobot Topspin from Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) appears in this film, but with a head akin to Leadfoot’s, and a new name, “Volleybot”. (Wait… WHAT?!)

The original cut of the movie supposedly was much longer and roughly a whole hour’s worth of footage was cut for theatrical release. (Yeesssssss, release the Director’s Cut, Bay… do it)

Despite his seeming death during Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011), the police car Decepticon Barricade returns, and has apparently survived up to the events of this movie, with a completely new design, including a new vehicle mode. (Ha! I think Bay and the writers eventually realized that no one cares)

The film contains tributes to Transformers Prime (2010): Earth is revealed to be the planet-eating Transformer Unicron.Optimus briefly loses his identity. An ancient breed of Transformer, who can transform into a dragon appears (Predacons, Knights).The final battle is set in the sky, with the Decepticons trying to engage a machine that will destroy the Earth, and the Autobots fighting to stop them. (Wait… is this the actual plot of the film?! WTF!)

The Transformers’ creator is Quintessa is based on the Quintessons from Transformers (1984), but incorporates elements of Solus Prime, a female Transformer god from Transformers Prime (2010). (I like lore like this. It’s part of the issues I have with the series. They really screw with any coherent mythos associated with the series… which is kind of the entire attraction of a franchise)

In the movie, it is mentioned that Fidel Castro allows Transformers to live in peace in Cuba. Since then, Castro died on November 25, 2016, it implies that the movie was filmed before his passing, in the way that there wasn’t time to change his mention. (Ha! You done dated yo film Bay.)

Transformers: The Last Knight (2017) is the first film in the live-action series to feature Bumblebees true voice. (For some reason I already knew this)

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A Dog’s Purpose Recap

Jamie

Meet Bailey, the loveable dog of a loveable boy in a loveable world full of triumph and tragedy. Reincarnated over the years trying to understand his purpose on Earth, Baily is always looking out for his owners, particularly his original owner Ethan. Can he bring Ethan that ultimate joy he’s been looking for before it’s too late? Find out in… A Dog’s Purpose.

How?! I have a feeling this will be a short one. That’s because the film is not really a film at all but rather a series of vignettes strung together by a continually reincarnated dog named Bailey. As a puppy Bailey is rescued from a hot car by Ethan. Ethan and Bailey grow up together and we see him struggle with his father’s alcoholism and yet have a fulfilling life playing football and hanging with the girl he loves, Hannah. After getting a football scholarship to Michigan State, a jealous rival throws a firecracker through the mail slot of his house. Bailey wakes Ethan and helps him save his mom from the fire but not before Ethan injures his leg, dashing his hopes of a football career. Devastated he breaks it off with Hannah and heads off to agricultural school. We then get a glimpse at Bailey’s slow death (fun!) culminating in him being put down with Ethan at his side (double fun!). Over the ensuing decades we seen Bailey reincarnated as a police dog and a corgi companion for a lonely woman. Through these adventures Bailey learns two things: loneliness is bad and loneliness can be cured by finding a companion to be with. After a couple more heart wrenching dog deaths (I’m have so much goddamned FUN!) Bailey is reincarnated in Michigan and finds his way back to Ethan’s farm. Hooray! Taken in by Ethan he notices that he is lonely. From the lessons of his past life Bailey goes out and find a widowed Hannah. Reunited, Ethan and Hannah fall in love all over again and the film ends with their wedding and Ethan’s realization that his new dog is just his old dog reincarnated… for some reason he doesn’t find this amazing at all and basically shrugs it off. Presumably Bailey dies again after the credits role but the filmmakers spared us that one death at least. THE END.

Why?! Like the title suggests, this film is entirely motivated by the search by Bailey for meaning in his various lives. At first he thinks perhaps playing with Ethan is his purpose. As a police dog he learns that he can have a greater purpose in saving people, but he also sees that his owner is still sad and lonely despite their success at their job. As a corgi companion he sees that this loneliness can be cured by finding a someone to be with. Finally back with Ethan he puts this all together and realizes that life’s purpose is having fun, helping people, being with people you love, and living in the moment. Wait a second… these are all lessons humans can use too! Goddamn it, A Dog’s Purpose. You’ve done it again.

What?! Not much in the way of plot devices, props, or product placement. If anything this is a giant commercial on how a dog might die. Don’t let it get out, it might end up in the pound and DIE. Don’t leave it in a hot car, it might end up overheating and DIE. Don’t love it too much, it might grow old and make you sad when it DIES. Valuable lessons. The more you know.

Who?! I have to admit that I don’t know much about credits for animals but I would have thought this would have been a perfect candidate for IMDb to highlight an animal actor. Alas, not the case. No credits to be seen. Instead there is a plethora of Special Thanks doled out to members of the Manitoba community where the film was made. Even the owners of a local carnival, Wonder Shows, each get a Special Thanks… I’m starting to think these don’t mean much.

Where?! Clearly there are a number of locations in this film for each of the lives of the dog. Fortunately there is still a primary setting as Ethan spends his entire life in Michigan. There are also large portions of the film set in Chicago and Atlanta. A solid B.

When?! Road Trip Film Alert! That’s right, I’m calling an alert for a Road Trip Film in the When?! section. The films skips through time starting around the Cuban Missile Crisis and ending in modern day. We don’t spend a huge amount of time in one era, but get a taste of each decade (as evidenced by the style of clothes, etc.). It’s nice, but not specific most of the time. C+.

I think Patrick’s part touches on my major complaint for the film. I didn’t really understand Josh Gad’s entire role. They took what might would have been a drama and seemingly punched it up with ADR jokes by a dog. I realize this isn’t actually what happened (it’s based on a book after all), but I can’t help not liking it. Just give me the dog being a dog. Everything would be understood by what was shown on the screen. That’s what a movie is supposed to do. Besides that I think the only weird thing was that I didn’t cry during the film. It was basically a dog slaughter and yet nary a tear escaped my eye. That’s a failure in my book. I needs my sweet, sweet pathos. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! After months of meetings, editing, reshoots the film is finally here. The premier is a few weeks away, but you’re going to take the time from the office to relax a bit. The stars can handle the press junket … oh what’s this, my phone is ringing. The office? But … huh, controversy about the treatment of the dogs on your set, well that’ll probably blow over, right? Like 24 hours from now it’ll all be cleared up … right? Let’s get into it!

The Good (Sequel, Prequel, Remake) – The doggies are cute as usual. Can’t avoid that. I actually thought the transition from early 60’s to present day was super cool. Subtle enough that it isn’t really thrown in your face that there are 4 or 5 “periods” being pieced in the movie. The story was interesting at times, at least the parts not involving the main character Ethan. Did I mention the dogs were cute? Let’s see a Sequel. Or at least an idea of a sequel. We’ve completed the story of Ethan, so this thing can be a franchise! A whole universe! The dog’s purpose seemed to just be “stand by your owner no matter what, help them be the best they can be”. Great! That can be done with anyone. Let’s see one that starts now and then goes into the future. Let’s see one that starts in 1910 and goes through the depression and the world wars! It is a fine idea for a kind of “slice of Americana” or slowly shifting time frame. I wouldn’t mind it. Maybe you can try to not get a giant PR disaster to happen right before the movie is released.

The Bad (Sklognalogy) – Josh Gad adds nothing with his voice over work. It almost feels like an add on. Bailey doesn’t really have a personality, unlike Homeward Bound and others which do the same thing, here they go a bit too far into a “realistic” dog mind. In that his mind is rather simple and direct. Considering this is literally the main character and crux of the film this isn’t great. At least it isn’t very amusing. They also suggest his first “life” as a dog was just immediately getting killed, … if you’re going sickly sweet can we not have a puppy get murdered in the opening scene? Weirdly the Sklognalogy for the week is kind of the movie we just watched: The Space Between Us. Both are cloyingly sweet. Both are light, and intended to deliver a family friendly product. But yet I thought The Space Between Us was much better than this guy. This is a shadow of Homeward Bound, as I said, which holds a template on how to do the voice-over pet film (give them interesting personalities, really anthropomorphize them). Whereas The Space Between Us is kind of the be all end all of YA space romance films, which is why it is a bit more acceptable to me.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – There is likely no legacy for the film. This is becoming a trend with the year-end cycle I think. But that is kind of understandable. How many films have an impact on BMT every year? Ten? Twenty? Half of them? Considering we’ve now watched for seven years, that is somewhere in 100-200 films having an impact release between 1980 and now, about 40 years. So you’d think like 2.5-5 films a year. So most of a 9 film cycle won’t have any impact whatsoever I would imagine. We watch around 15 current-year films a year (4 Lives and 9 in the cycle, plus a few more likely) so when we cover those high impact films you’ll know it. This isn’t it. As for Street Cred the Telegraph puts it in the worst of the year (behind a paywall unfortunately, so no link), and Slate puts it in their bottom 20. It’ll get play in end of year lists for sure because of the controversy.

Was there a book? There was, right? Didn’t read it. Someday in the distant future maybe I will. I’ll put an Editor’s note here to tell me to add it to the archive when that happens … which will be never most likely.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

A Dog’s Purpose Preview

Alright, well for all our faithful fans who were worried about the treacherous route we took through the Chain Reaction this year this is the main event. Last cycle we sunk all the way back to 1983 for Jaws 3-D and now we pop back 34 years later to the Dennis Quaid sad-fest A Dog’s Purpose. Probably not at the front of everyone’s mind when it comes to 2017 BMT films, but it is a qualifier and set us up nicely for next year’s chain. It also was for a brief time the most hated film in America when it was alleged that the film engaged in animal cruelty on set. This was ultimately proved incorrect, but it was enough to get the US premiere cancelled. Then everyone forgot about it. I cannot wait to bawl my eyes out watching a dog die over and over again. Sound like a blast. Let’s go!

A Dog’s Purpose (2017) – BMeTric: 9.9

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(I straight up have never seen anything like this before. You can even see that the rating started at literally 1.0, everyone gave it a one. There were actually several days in which the rating was 1.0, but then they shut the page down again because people were piling on (I assume). It then makes its long slow trek to 7.0! This could be the highest rated film we’ve ever done (it isn’t, but it is darn close). Truly bizarre.)

RogerEbert.com – 1.5 stars –  This movie has its moments—no movie with such an adorable array of pooches could not, plus Mr. Quaid, who in addition to being movie-star handsome is also a pretty good actor, sells his fifteen or so onscreen minutes. But the tonal weirdness and the philosophical fallacies and the general level of treacle did not sit very well with me. Then again, I have to admit I’m really more of a cat person

(The reviews for this film as obviously off because they were made literally days … weeks? after the abuse scandal broke. There is a question of whether any abuse happened in the end. But I’m sure I’ll have the same reaction: a little sickly sweet, but overall okay … if I didn’t have my doubts about the intentions of the film. I am much more of a dog person though, so …)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jLOOCADTGs

(I just got diabetes from that trailer. Sickly sweet. And I know I’m going to cry too. I’m not going to like this one at all.)

Directors – Lasse Hallström – (Known For: Hachi: A Dog’s Tale; What’s Eating Gilbert Grape; Chocolat; The Hundred-Foot Journey; Casanova; The Cider House Rules; Salmon Fishing in the Yemen; An Unfinished Life; The Shipping News; My Life as a Dog; The Hoax; Once Around; Future BMT: Something to Talk About; Dear John; BMT: Safe Haven; A Dog’s Purpose; Notes: Swedish. Was nominated for Best Director in 1988, notable as the first time the Best Director category was all non-Americans.)

Writers – W. Bruce Cameron (screenplay & based on the novel by) – (BMT: A Dog’s Purpose; Notes: The writer of the original book. He is in the process of adapting the sequel as well, A Dog’s Way Home.)

Cathryn Michon (screenplay) – (BMT: A Dog’s Purpose; Notes: Has been working with Cameron for his last few movies (Cook Off! and Muffin Top: A Musical). Prior to that she worked mostly on television, so possibly she met him when he worked on 8 Simple Rules.)

Audrey Wells (screenplay) – (Known For: Under the Tuscan Sun; George of the Jungle; The Kid; Shall We Dance; The Truth About Cats & Dogs; Guinevere; Future BMT: The Game Plan; BMT: A Dog’s Purpose; Notes: Seems to be a Kids’ Film and Romantic Comedy writer. She also directed Under the Tuscan Sun, which was her only major directorial effort.)

Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky (screenplay) – (Known For: Monsters vs. Aliens; Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days; Infinitely Polar Bear; The Rocker; The Polka King; Future BMT: Seeing Other People; BMT: A Dog’s Purpose; Notes: You knew there had to be a writing team when there are five writers attached. Wolodarsky producer and wrote for the Simpsons. Forbes produced and wrote for The Larry Sanders Show.)

Actors – Josh Gad – (Known For: Murder on the Orient Express; Beauty and the Beast; Frozen; Marshall; Angry Birds; Love & Other Drugs; Thanks for Sharing; The Rocker; Wish I Was Here; Future BMT: Marmaduke; The Internship; Ice Age: Continental Drift; 21; Crossing Over; BMT: Pixels; Jobs; The Wedding Ringer; A Dog’s Purpose; Razzie Notes: Nominated for Worst Supporting Actor in 2016 for Pixels, and The Wedding Ringer; Notes: Probably in the news recently because of the 25 minute long “short” starring Olaf the snowman that was playing in front of Coco. Also was the star of The Book of Mormon in its original Broadway run in 2011.)

Dennis Quaid – (Known For: The Parent Trap; The Day After Tomorrow; Stripes; The Right Stuff; Traffic; Footloose; The Rookie; Innerspace; Any Given Sunday; Soul Surfer; DragonHeart; Wyatt Earp; Frequency; Enemy Mine; Breaking Away; Dreamscape; Truth; Far from Heaven; Postcards from the Edge; Suspect; Future BMT: Legion; Cold Creek Manor; Yours, Mine & Ours; Beneath the Darkness; G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra; Horsemen; Something to Talk About; Flight of the Phoenix; The Alamo; Caveman; Undercover Blues; Vantage Point; Switchback; Wilder Napalm; Pandorum; All Night Long; BMT: Jaws 3-D; Movie 43; What to Expect When You’re Expecting; Playing for Keeps; A Dog’s Purpose; Notes: Has a band called The Sharks, is a five-handicap golfer, and has a pilot’s license. This video makes his band seem … well, I’m sure they have their fans.)

Peggy Lipton – (Known For: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me; I’m Gonna Git You Sucka; True Identity; Future BMT: The Postman; Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects; BMT: When in Rome; A Dog’s Purpose; Notes: She was in the original and recent revival of Twin Peaks. Is the mother of Rashida Jones as well, who played Ann Perkins in Parks and Recreation.)

Budget/Gross – $22 million / Domestic: $64,321,890 (Worldwide: $196,200,124)

(Despite the controversy this was a giant success … how strange. For whatever reason I thought this completely bombed after it was torn apart for allegedly abusing dogs. It is weird to think that this would have been a much bigger deal only a year later. It this happened now this shit wouldn’t have even made it to theaters I think.)

#18 for the Controversy genre

adogspurpose_controversy

(There were a few from this year here as well, the funniest being The Great Wall for “white-washing”. Controversy films make a chunk of change it turns out. I don’t want to say “outrage culture”, but they’ve gotten a lot more popular since 2000 … just saying.)

#12 for the Dog genre

adogspurpose_dog

(Everyone loves doggies! Well … they like them less since 2010 it seems. Do you know which dog movie came out in 2010? That’s right, Marmaduke. Coincidence? Yuuuuuuup. Anyways, this comes in around 102 Dalmatians, which kind of tells you all you need to know.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 33% (43/130): A Dog’s Purpose offers an awkward blend of sugary sentiment and canine suffering that tugs at animal-loving audiences’ heartstrings with shameless abandon.

(I will almost certainly be crying during this film. If not, then it has failed because I’m a softy. Hopefully it won’t pull at my heartstrings any harder than Bing Bong did in Inside Out… I might melt.)

Poster – A Sklog’s Purpose (B+)

dogs_purpose

(Obviously great color and unique framing. Terrible font. Really bad choice. But otherwise I like what they decided to do here. Tells me everything I need to know.)

Tagline(s) – Every dog happens for a reason. (C+)

(Every dog happens… every dog… happens. Huh, that is really not rolling off the tongue. It’s short and gets at the idea of the film, but not super clever and weird phrasing. It seems like they should have been able to do better.)

Keyword(s) – reincarnation; Top Ten by BMeTric: 87.4 The Last Airbender (2010); 80.5 Dragon Wars (2007); 65.1 The Haunted Mansion (2003); 58.6 Jupiter Ascending (2015); 57.3 Little Nicky (2000); 54.0 The Return (I) (2006); 52.9 Lost Souls (2000); 51.4 Jack Frost (1998); 51.3 Tank Girl (1995); 50.3 Mannequin: On the Move (1991);

(Give me a little Fluuuuuuke … wait? No Fluke? I guess not that many people watched Fluke. Fair, but I think the story will have some passing similarities, so I’m still glad I watched Fluuuuuuke.)

Notes – Prior to theatrical release, controversy arose when behind-the-scenes footage surfaced and appeared to show a distressed dog being forcibly submerged into turbulent pool water during filming. As a result of the leaked footage, the filmmakers chose to cancel the U.S. premiere. However, it was announced on February 4, 2017 by the American Humane Association that the footage was misleadingly edited and no abuse had taken place. (I totally forgot about that. Wow.)

Bradley Cooper was originally slated to provide the voice of the titular dog; however, he was ultimately replaced with Josh Gad. (I love this fact. Would it have been the same script?… seems like wildly different choices).

The Maya segment of the film differs from the events in the book. In the book, Maya is a K9 officer who takes over handling Ellie after her first handler Jakob (Carlos in the film) is shot and injured by a kidnapper. In the movie, it is Ellie who is shot – fatally – by the kidnapper, then reincarnated as Tino the Corgi and adopted by Maya, a college student. (Damn, I forgot this was based on a book. I don’t think either of us will end up reading it. Are we losing our edge?).

Dennis Quaid plays adult Ethan, who was once starting quarterback with a full scholarship but was injured. In Everybody’s All-American (1988), Quaid played a star high school quarterback no longer playing. In Any Given Sunday (1999) he played a quarterback past his prime trying to relive his days. (We get it, Dennis Quaid. You love sports).

The Space Between Us Recap

Jamie

Gardner is a teenager born on Mars and unable to go to Earth for fear his body can’t handle it. When he connects with a girl on Earth, Tulsa, and finds information about his father he insists it’s time to return “home.” Can he fall in love and find his dad before it’s (literally) too late? Find out in… The Space Between Us.

What?! We open on the first mission to populate Mars funded by billionaire Nathaniel Shepard. On the way it’s revealed that the mission leader is pregnant. Fearing PR backlash NASA keeps the pregnancy confidential. Shortly after arrival she gives birth to a healthy child, Gardner, but dies in childbirth. Due to the differences in gravity they fear bringing the child home will kill him so Gardner is left to grow up on Mars. Flash forward 16 years and he is living a happy but isolated life with a robot friend and everything. He’s a total nerd alert, but spends his time chatting it up with an equally isolated girl in Colorado named Tulsa. He really wants to go to Earth to find his father (but we also know he wouldn’t mind finding this girl, wooing her, and getting it in). Finally NASA relents and after a rigorous physical preparation he is flown back to Earth. Hooray. When he arrives it looks like he’ll be sent right back for health reasons so he escapes to meet up with Tulsa. She is totally freaked out by this weirdo saying he’s from Mars (so much for getting it in), but helps him escape when NASA comes a-knocking. Thus begins their road trip together. They track Gardner’s father from New Mexico to Arizona to California. On the way, Tulsa and Gardner fall in love and he actually does get it in. Wow. Took you like five hours on Earth to lose your virginity. He then starts to show symptoms of an enlarged heart. When he finally finds the man he thinks is his dad he is told he was wrong the whole time. The man is actually his uncle. Sad but in love he walks into the ocean to die only to be rescued by Nathaniel Shepard, who turns out to be his real dad (duh, it was pretty obvious). They are able to save his life and get him back to Mars where we see him enjoying time with his dad. We are also treated to a scene of Tulsa preparing for her own trip to Mars. Awwwwwwww. THE END.

Why?! While Gardner is literally from Mars his motivations are primarily typical teen angst. He wants to see Earth, he wants to know what it is to be human, he wants to live, he wants to love, he wants to find belonging, and most importantly he wants to know who he is. And knowing who he is involves knowing who his father is. Thus the road trip from Mars to Florida to Colorado to California and back to Mars. As for Tulsa, while she is born on Earth she also mostly wants to know that she has belonging. She’s shuttled from foster home to foster home and feels like an alien in her own world. Trust me it’s all very deep in a highly predictable and saccharine way.

What?! I was really hoping that Tulsa would introduce Gardner to the beauty of Coca-Cola or something at one point, but alas. Gardner’s journey is mostly product placement free. Same can’t be said for Nathaniel Shepard and the sleek technology he surrounds himself with. He shuttles around in his self-driving Volvo as if it’s the ultimate replacement for his shattered dreams of space travel. Shove it, astronauts! You haven’t experienced adventure till you’ve driven the new Volvo (he says as he cries himself to sleep… don’t worry, the car drives itself. He can weep as hard as he wants without putting himself or others in danger).

Who?! As with many robot friends in cinematic history, Gardner’s robot, Centaur, is basically a Planchet. Gardner is always like “You aren’t even real, stupid robot.” and dismantles him for his own schemes. But the robot still had only unconditional love for him and it’s sad really. Even sadder is when he’s abandoned part way through the movie and never mentioned again. Bring that robot to Earth! Let him in on your kooky adventures. Anyway, I only did a Planchet this week because I didn’t want to mention that Logan Paul, a Youtube star, makes a truly terrible cameo halfway through the film. Fuck. That.

Where?! Road Trip Alert! I would put the primary settings as Mars and Colorado (I love it!), but with some stops in Florida, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. It’s an A because of how important Mars is to the plot. You could even argue it’s an A+ with the mention of “Space” in the title. But let’s appreciate it for what it is, not for what it isn’t.

When?! Future Setting Alert! From Gardner’s mother’s grave we know she died on January 25, 2018. The film takes place 16 years later so in 2034. That’s enough for me when it comes to the date of a future film. I’ll give it a C. Funny enough this was a major sticking point for reviewers. The fact that nothing really got updated from the phones to the cars to the slang used by Tulsa. Showed a single robot, a single self-driving car, and some plexiglass computers and that’s apparently all they budgeted for.

When I started watching the film I thought it was going to be terrible. It was slow and extremely predictable. Interestingly once they went a more cliched route for the latter half of the film it actually picked up pace and was pretty enjoyable. Like two films smooshed together. A somewhat boring space adventure at the front, and a typical teen romance road trip on the back half. It all added up to mostly harmless fluff. Interesting that it got hated on so much. Is it so bad that every once in awhile they make a sugar sweet film for the whole family? It’s not like it’s inherently bad just for that reason. That being said I wish it wasn’t laughably predictable. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Space is so in right now, and you want a little piece of the action. You got this weird script about some Moon boy or whatever so … hey, intern, give this a once over and set it on Mars like that Damon one. We’ll rake in that dough, I’ll grab a few drinks with some stars, no problem … Let’s get into it!

The Good (Sklog-nalogy) – The movie actually isn’t all bad. It wasn’t quite It’s-Not-That-Bad level, but it is a lot closer than you would think. The first hour is a little slow but interesting, and the second half picks up even if it is half of a YA road trip film. There are certainly things I disliked, but for a young adult romance that is over two hours long it could have been a lot lot worse. Which is why I’m porting over Sklog-nalogy from the Bad section for the week. In this case the BMT film this reminds me of is possibly the least likeable film we’ve ever done: Waiting for Forever. In both cases you have a weirdo “martian” guy stalking a girl he’s fallen in love with through misadventures. In this case the “martian” is actually a Martian and is innocuous, funny, kind, a hopeless romantic, and genuinely makes a bit of sense. In Waiting for Forever he is a creepy stalker who the lead actress should have been concerned was going to kill her. The movies have a weird core that is similar, but take drastically different turns. This film is an okay example of the genre, although it has its faults. Waiting for Forever shows exactly how such a storyline can go wrong by basically glorifying stalkers as “romantics”. That I think is probably why I liked this film reasonably well in the end, at least it kept it innocent in that regard.

The Bad (Crimes Against BMT-anity) – The film basically turns into a Young Adult road trip movie where they barely mention Mars which isn’t so great. The twist with Gary Oldman is incredibly obvious. The film is, indeed, so sugary sweet that I can understand why it got a ton of bad reviews (although 16% is much much lower than I would have expected). The last bit I’ll run through for a Crime Against BMT-anity. The faux-future stuff is off the chain. Basically everyone uses these weird plexiglass computers, but then everyone has phones that look like a current Samsung. Gary Oldman is in a self-driving car, but yet Tulsa’ Dad drunkenly flies a beat up crop duster, they drive around in a beat up pick up, and at one point Gardner gets a ride in a (driver-ful) crappy Greyhound bus. The mixed messages are crazy! It is basically an exercise in how little one can do while still getting away with setting a film nearly 20 years in the future. Most can be forgiven, it isn’t like cars look alien compared to 2000, but the phones were a very strange oversight considering they updated the computers fairly well.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – I don’t think there is legacy here. It might have at some point, if we decide it is the best bad movie we’ve watched this year. But for some reason I highly doubt that. It has been listed in a few places for worst of already. Looper, and The Playlist specifically. Ultimately I think it’ll fall away without much notice, but we’ll have to wait and see.

This does seem like one of those films that is based on a book … but it wasn’t. So no homework to report on here. I’ll just leave it there then.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

The Space Between Us Preview

It’s been a strange year for the Romance film. While there is a major ongoing BMT saga in the Fifty Shades series, with Fifty Shades Darker coming in as a BMT Live! this year, there wasn’t much besides that. Even Nicholas Sparks seems to have taken himself out of the game. We basically found ourselves choosing between the Reese Witherspoon RomCom vehicle Home Again and the SciFi/Romance The Space Between Us. I think you know which one won that battle. That’s right! We’re watching the very rare SciFi/Romance film in The Space Between Us. This film is about a boy born on Mars who yearns only about experiencing Earth, but is denied that opportunity because his body wouldn’t handle our gravity… until he takes the matter into his own brittle-boned hands. I would have loved to save this film for a Set in the Future cycle (as romances are hard to come by), but alas. Guess we’ll just have to go with Heartbeeps instead. Let’s go!

The Space Between Us (2017) – BMeTric: 19.3

TheSpaceBetweenUs_BMeT

TheSpaceBetweenUs_RV

(The number of votes is a bit surprising and the rating is very surprising. Who watched this film? How does it end up being one of the worst opening of all time and then gets 30K votes on IMDb and decent enough (average at least) ratings. It makes no sense! This could be a mystery, but I think I have to watch the movie first to see if it is worth an investigation.)

RogerEbert.com – 2 stars –  Butterfield and Robertson (who’s about 10 years too old to be playing a high-school student at this point) don’t exactly get sparkling dialogue with which to convince us of their burgeoning love. Neither does the score, which works overtime to make us feel all the feels. But hey, at least there’s an exploding barn. That’s something you don’t see on Mars every day.

(The score! I love when a score is all up in your face, it is the best. I think this film is going to be boring, but there is an outside shot it’ll be just silly and self-serious enough to keep me interested.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x73-573aWfs

(That … kind of looks interesting. Uh oh … this movie is going to be crazy boring isn’t it? How long is this? Two hours?! Goddamnit.)

Directors – Peter Chelsom – (Known For: Hannah Montana: The Movie; Serendipity; Shall We Dance; The Mighty; Funny Bones; Hear My Song; Future BMT: Town & Country; BMT: The Space Between Us; Razzie Notes: Nominated for Worst Director for Town & Country in 2002; Notes: British, his long career has seen him nominated for BAFTAs and Razzies. A classically trained actor originally he played alongside Patrick Stewart and Anthony Hopkins among the Royal Shakespeare company.)

Writers – Allan Loeb (screenplay by & story by) – (Known For: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps; Rock of Ages; The Switch; Things We Lost in the Fire; Future BMT: So Undercover; Here Comes the Boom; 21; Collateral Beauty; The Only Living Boy in New York; BMT: The Dilemma; Just Go with It; The Space Between Us; Notes: His story seems very inspiring. He was struggling and almost bankrupt when he moved to New York, joined Gambler’s Anonymous, and developed the script for The Only Living Boy in New York. This sparked his career despite only just having being produced this year.)

Stewart Schill (story by) – (BMT: The Space Between Us; Notes: Almost exclusively a television editor of all things. He’s managed to earn just about one writing credit every ten years. I assume him and Lewis punch up in their spare time.)

Richard Barton Lewis (story by) – (BMT: The Space Between Us; Notes: Almost exclusively a producer (including being the Executive Producer of The Outer Limits), it is interesting he’s a writer here as this is his first writing credit it nearly twenty years.)

Actors – Gary Oldman – (Known For: Darkest Hour; The Dark Knight; Dracula; Léon: The Professional; The Dark Knight Rises; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2; Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; True Romance; Batman Begins; Dawn of the Planet of the Apes; The Fifth Element; Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix; Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; The Book of Eli; Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; A Christmas Carol; Lawless; JFK; RoboCop; Air Force One; Future BMT: The Unborn; Lost in Space; Paranoia; Planet 51; Man Down; Criminal; Criminal Law; Quest for Camelot; Child 44; Hannibal; Romeo Is Bleeding; BMT: Red Riding Hood; The Scarlet Letter; Tiptoes; The Space Between Us; Razzie Notes: Nominated for Worst Screen Couple for The Scarlet Letter in 1996; Notes: Most of the recent news concerning him is about the Oscar buzz for Darkest Hour where he plays Winston Churchill. He also just got married for a fifth time.)

Asa Butterfield – (Known For: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children; Hugo; The Boy in the Striped Pajamas; Ender’s Game; Journey’s End; Nanny McPhee Returns; A Brilliant Young Mind; 10,000 Saints; Son of Rambow; Future BMT: The Wolfman; BMT: The Space Between Us; Notes: He broke onto the scene in Son of Rambow, but Hugo was his biggest role in his young career. Born on April Fool’s Day and a supporter of Arsenal (booooo).)

Carla Gugino – (Known For: Man of Steel; Gerald’s Game; Watchmen; San Andreas; Sin City; American Gangster; Spy Kids; Night at the Museum; This Boy’s Life; Spy Kids 3: Game Over; Faster; Race to Witch Mountain; Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams; Snake Eyes; Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael; Mr. Popper’s Penguins; The Lookout; Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco; Miami Rhapsody; Match; Future BMT: The Unborn; Rise: Blood Hunter; Michael; Elektra Luxx; The One; Son in Law; Righteous Kill; Troop Beverly Hills; The Singing Detective; Women in Trouble; Every Day; I Melt with You; The Center of the World; Even Money; Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; Hotel Noir; BMT: New Year’s Eve; Sucker Punch; The Space Between Us; Notes: Was turned on to acting by her aunt Carol Merrill, who, oddly I think, was really only a model on Let’s Make a Deal where she made $77 an episode.)

Budget/Gross – $30 million / Domestic: $7,885,294 (Worldwide: $14,793,385)

(A catastrophe. It is rare that what amounts to a YA romance is so reviled and gets released so widely when it looks to be a disaster.)

#87 for the Sci-Fi – Adventure genre

thespacebetweenus_scifiadventure

(The genre is a-boomin’ and making a ton of cash. But what I’m interested in is the boom period in the early 2000s where the genre was still not making much money. 2002 in particular is crazy: Star Trek: Nemesis; Treasure Planet; The Adventures of Pluto Nash; Star Wars Episode II – Attack of the Clones; The Time Machine. Woof.)

#12 on the Worst Openings – Saturated chart

(This chart is quite interesting. We’ve only seen three of the films above this one, although we’ll hit three or four of the others in the future for sure. Sometimes these films are just not even on the radar though. Like Won’t Back Down. Ludicrous trailer, but I doubt we ever bother with it.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 16% (19/118): The Space Between Us strands its star-crossed young lovers in a mind-numbingly vast expanse of shameless cheese that will send all but the most forgiving viewers eye-rolling for the exits.

(I had to read this consensus twice. Am I going crazy or does it not make a lick of sense? I think “mind-numbingly vast expanse” just rubs me the wrong way. Seems like it could be fun though. Like Safe Haven maybe? A boy can dream.)

Poster – The Sklog Between Us (B-)

space_between_us

(Nice artistic poster here with the moon as part of the text and an astronaut standing in a field of flowers. Not super cohesive otherwise.)

Tagline(s) – What’s Your Favorite Thing About Earth? (D)

(Ha! I guess I never thought about it. Maybe the air. Probably the air. It’s nice to breath and it makes the sky and sunsets and maybe gives you a nice breeze on a sweaty summer day. Certainly my favorite thing about Earth does not include this tagline. I could do without this nonsense.)

Keyword(s) – mars; Top Ten by BMeTric: 66.9 Ghosts of Mars (2001); 46.1 The Last Days on Mars (2013); 46.0 Mission to Mars (2000); 45.5 Mars Needs Moms (2011); 44.6 Approaching the Unknown (2016); 41.7 Red Planet (2000); 40.8 Ice Age: Collision Course (2016); 30.6 Avalanche Sharks (2014); 24.8 RocketMan (1997); 21.6 Stranded (2001);

(Wow, at least we hit up the number one. Mission to Mars, Red Planet, and maaaaybe RocketMan are on the docket I would say. Mars Needs Moms … we’ll probably have to figure out a way to choke that pile of garbage down at some point, but I don’t want to. Kind of like this weird list, just wonky.)

Notes – The original title of The Space Between Us was Out of This World.

In the scene where Gardner arrive on Earth, the space suit masks, worn by some of the scientists, are actually a brand of full face snorkel masks. (Not a surprise, I feel like I know exactly what these look like)

Highland High school in Albuquerque was used in some scenes, during school hours which caused a hassle between school administrators and the State Film commission (Oh that sounds awful)

Spaceport America in New Mexico hosted their first movie shoot. There were over 400 crew, actors and extras at the spaceport during the shoot.

With less than a month to go before its debut, STX Entertainment has changed “The Space Between Us” release date from December 16, 2016 to February 3, 2017. This will take the sci-fi drama out of the competitive holiday movie season into the less crowded mid-winter timetable where it will open against the horror sequel “Rings”. (What what)

The Space Between Us is the second space-related movie Asa Butterfield has started in, Ender’s Game being the first.

Just after the video call with Tulsa, Gardner is watching a movie left by one of the German scientists. That movie is “Wings of Desire.”

Cameo appearances by YouTube stars Joey Graceffa and Lele Pons during the classroom scene (boooooooooooo)

The Space Between Us stars Britt Robertson, who had also starred in a major role in Tomorrowland. Both movies involve futurology and “illegal” adventures.

Both Asa Butterfield and Janet Montgomery were in BBC’s Merlin as Mordred and Mithian. (Yeah, I didn’t realize Butterfield was in Merlin … my dog has watched every episode twice if that is worth anything (spoiler: it isn’t)).

Britt Robertson also plays a role in the 2-season TV show “Life Unexpected”. In both roles, she plays a foster child who is seeking emancipation.

In Ender’s Game, Asa Butterfield played Ender who had a second in command named Bean. From the Ender’s Game novels, Bean was a baby who was born as part of an illegal experiment, was highly intelligent, was reunited with his biological family, grew to extreme proportions with an over sized heart that would eventually kill him in Earth gravity, left behind the woman he loved, and went into space to prolong his life. This mirrors much of the story of The Space Between Us. (Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat I’ve read Ender’s Game but I didn’t know the backstory to Bean. Thanks random IMDb note, spoiler alert).

Rings Recap

Jamie

Samara is back, Jack! Holt is off to college leaving behind his girlfriend Julia. When he stops answering her calls she races to campus to find that he’s watched the Ring video for a research project. She saves his life by watching his copy, but realizes too late that the video is mutated and can’t be copied. Can they unravel this new mystery before it’s too late? Find out in… Rings.

What?! When a Very Cool Professor (we know he’s rad because he smokes weed and sleeps with his students… uh… cool?) stumbles upon the Samara tape at a flea market he begins research into the effects of the tape. Some time later we are introduce to Holt and Julia. They are super in love and whispering sweet nothings to each other before Holt heads away to college. They keep in touch diligently until Holt straight up ghosts her one day shortly before she is meant to visit. That ain’t cool, Holt! She rushes to campus and finds that he’s been caught up in the Very Cool Professor’s project! Oh no! After witnessing the death of another subject in the experiment, Julia takes matters into her own hands and watches Holt’s copy to save his life. It’s all cool says the Very Cool Professor, but when he tries to make a copy for Julia it turns out the video is mutated and rendered unreproducible. Decidedly uncool, Very Cool Professor! Analysis of the new scenes all point to Sacrament Valley, the town where Samara was ultimately buried. When Holt and Julia go there they find a near ghost town filled only with sadness. In their explorations Holt and Julia discover that this town was where Samara’s mother Evelyn was from and that she was impregnated by the town priest and kept captive in a secret room under the church. Creepy. Unfortunately for them that very priest is still there and attempts to murder them before his secret is out. Just before he kills them, Samara pulls the ol’ switcheroo and crawls out of a phone to kill him instead. All seems well until at the very end we get a Spoiler Alert where it turns out that Sarama has possessed Julia and is spreading the Ring virus to all corners of the world. THE END.

Why?! Like the first Ring film this asks the question of how far one is willing to go for love. After Holt is roped into the video experiment, Julia makes the choice to save his life by watching a copy of his video. She took on that risk for love and honestly it didn’t work out. Should have let that dumbo die. After that their motivation is to help Samara find peace in the hopes that it cures Julia. Unfortunately that doesn’t work out because she’s pure evil. People keep making this mistake. Stop helping Samara! She is clearly a hate-filled demon that cannot be trusted.

What?! This film seems particularly focused on the effectiveness of Apple products to communicate to your long-distance beau, copy death videos for the viewing pleasure of your next victim, light up a creepy underground dungeon, or bring Samara wherever you go so she can kill the homicidal priest that’s trapped you in his house. Makes you wonder if they actually paid for this because it makes their products out to be horror devices.

Who?! God do I wish there was a Planchet in this film. Would have loved a chubby best friend cracking jokes about Samara as she crawled towards him. Since we don’t I just want to use this space to give a round of applause for writer Akiva Goldsman. What. A. Year. This, Transformers: The Last Knight, and The Dark Tower. It’s glorious.

Where?! Most of the film takes place in Washington state. First in Spokane, where Holt goes to college, and then in the made up town of Sacrament Valley, where Samara is from. I bump this up to a B for how Washington has played a big role in the entire Ring series.

When?! A true favorite of mine for a Secret Holiday Film Alert! Julia and Holt are going to see each other six weeks after he leaves for college. That’s when he has a long weekend for, that’s right, Columbus Day! In fact when Holt ghosts her we see a series of texts of her trying to reach him spanning from October 6-8, meaning that major events in this film take place on the all important date of October 9th. Boom. That’s a B+ because it’s amazing.

This film started off in the way that I kind of hoped The Ring Two would have gone: the release of the tape being part of dark web culture and researched by rogue scientists. It’s a great story. Unfortunately they abandon it almost immediately to rehash the mystery surrounding Samara’s past. Seems to be a trend in the story. Stick your toe into something different and then quickly retreat back into the thriller-mystery convention that made the first film a hit. I’m always up for some more lore when it comes to franchises, just wish it wasn’t so lame and bleak. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! The Golden Boy became the Golden Dud after he botched the sequel to the megahit (and his baby) The Ring. Meanwhile, everyone else is just copying his game with this supernatural horror shit. The Golden Boy is going he back in the game! Show these children what is what! Don’t know what I’m talking about? Read The Ring Two recap. Meanwhile, let’s get into it!

The Good (BMulTiverse Theory) – I’m glad they got some closure on the story of Samara. It would seem like with the final rebirth of Samara here they can leave the video behind and start, if they so choose, to explore more about the demon itself. I kind of hope they do it. The story itself isn’t terrible, it is just unfortunate it was done in such a trite way in movies that didn’t live up to the original’s promise. Since I’m going to do a remake in the Bad section this week let’s explore another BMulTiverse Theory. I honestly believe if The Ring had been made about 10 years later this would be The Conjuring. The Conjuring has had three films, but then a spin-off series (Annabelle) and two more spin-offs in production (The Nun and The Crooked Man). The Ring could have gone deep into the origins of Samara, and then started to explore other demonic beings that have, in their own way, touched the world, exploiting are growing dependence on technology to make their power grow. The Ring was too far ahead of its time and instead ushered in an era of bad J Horror adaptations instead, many of which I’m sure we will discuss in the future.

The Bad (Crimes Against BMT-anity) – The acting is pretty rough. They toss out a fairly interesting story (a scientist studying Samara’s abilities) in yet another Janus Device (see The Ring Two recap for the definition) whereby the movie is almost perfectly split in twain: First the discovery of the college experimentation with Samara, and then a road trip to Samara’s mother’s home town. In this case I think the back half is weakest, partially because it seems like they kind of copying Don’t Breathe’s blind-man-hunting-you-down-in-a-darkened-house routine. The biggest Crime Against BMT-anity in this film is definitely the lost opportunity in exploring Samara’s powers. The rumor is that they were hoping to create a whole Ring Cinematic Universe, and the scientist would have been a perfect jumping off point. Almost like a Stephen King thinner idea Samara represents the potential to discovering a demonic power unknown to this world. And when they drill down into that power it unleashes a pandora’s box of other demon. Johnny Galecki is a pretty big name, and could have been that evil Crichton-esque Mad Scientist and a constant to the series, insistent that the pursuit of knowledge (and by extension fame) is so pure that even death and destruction can be ignored in the face of it. It would have been an interesting twist if they had a place to go with it. Hmmm, this is almost a remake in an of itself, and could have gone into the good part as well. Maybe I need to watch more supernatural horror. I would have thought someone would have gone after the thinner idea from Stephen King books. It is a great idea, it is just that Stephen King adaptations are usually terrible.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – Like The Ring Two the legs can go on for days because The Ring likely marks a point in which BMT will start to look at a watch J Horror a bit more. Finally, we do have a bit of street cred because I can find a … it looks like a blog, but it is mentioned here. Unlike some of the recent films we’ve done I am confident Rings, being the descendant of a well respected horror film, will get some play in worst-of lists.

In this case we did have a bit of a Homework Sklog-signment in the original The Ring. I loved The Ring on second viewing. The movie isn’t really scary per se, but the investigative aspect of it is really interesting. They keep the mythos tight, don’t fall into a trap of over-explanation, and have a great twist ending (Naomi Watts you doofus, why’d you help Samara!). Others don’t agree apparently, both Leonard Maltin and Roger Ebert gave The Ring Two a better review than The Ring (I think the same scores even, 2 and 2.5 stars for the original and sequel respectively). I disagree, but I also think it depends on how many scares you require in your horror films. I would tend to punish non-scary horror films, but here I think the investigative-thriller is a fine look for the first film. It is far bigger crime that the second does half the investigation and is just as not-scary, in my opinion. Such is life. I still haven’t seen Ringu unfortunately, but I’m certainly looking forward to that. It is unlikely I’ll read the books (because they are weird as fuck apparently), or see the Japanese sequels (because they are terrible apparently). So Ringu will complete The Ring lore for me for now.

I’ll leave it there. Cheerios

The Sklogs

The Ring Two Recap

Jamie

Samara is back, Jack! Following the events of the first film, Rachel and Aiden Keller move to Oregon to start anew. It’s not long though before the rapidly spreading video virus finds them again and Aiden is possessed by Samara hoping to regain a physical form. Can Rachel battle to save her son and put Samara to rest before it’s too late? Find out in… The Ring Two.

What?! We pick up about 6 months after the events of the first film. Rachel and Aiden have moved to a small Oregon town where Rachel takes over as editor of the local paper. Everything seems to be going well until a report comes in about a disturbing death of a local teen. It sounds eerily similar to Samara’s MO, which Rachel confirms by going to the scene of the crime. Oh no! She’s found them! The next night Aiden dreams of Samara and is totes possessed by her. When Aiden starts to show serious health concerns related to demonic possession (naturally), Rachel seeks to help of her coworker, who immediately is like “WTF, mate. Get this kid to a hospital. And put some more shrimp on the barbie.” Rachel refuses, but when Samara tricks her into almost killing Aiden, her coworker is like “I didn’t sign up for this shit,” and takes control of the situation (or so he thinks). Realizing that she needs to go figure out another piece of the Samara puzzle she finds Samara’s mother, Evelyn, in a psychiatric hospital and is told to listen to Aiden if she wants him to survive. Returning to Astoria she finds that Aiden has violently escaped the hospital and killed her coworker. In her sleep she dreams that Aiden tells her to drown him and so she drugs him and places him in the bathtub after which Samara leaves his body. Hoping to destroy her once and for all she follows Samara to her TV home and locks her back in her well. THE END.

Why?! I mean, Samara is pure evil so we don’t need to delve too deep into her motivations. It would be fun if they were more mundane (Samara just wants that big promotion at work!), but alas she’s just pure evil. As for Rachel she just wants to escape Samara. When that turns out to be impossible, though, she decides that she must trap Samara for good instead.

What?! While there isn’t much product placement in this (probably some cars and stuff), I did find a moment in the very beginning somewhat amusing. The opening deals with the teenager who dies in Astoria trying to convince an unsuspecting girl to watch his copy of the tape. He kinda makes it seem like he’s into her and the whole situation is a date and as part of his seductive dance he asks if she wants a drink. Of course she does, the hottest guy in school seems into her. Duh. Out he pops from the kitchen with what I swear is a SoBe… bad move, dude. SoBe tastes like trash. She was probably already looking for the exits before you even broached the subject of the death video.

Who?! There isn’t really something to go here. No Planchet and no credits of note. So let’s do a short meditation on who Samara is as a monster. In this film we basically get the whole backstory: her mother claimed to be impregnated by a water demon and when the child is born Samara never cries and steadily drives her mother insane. Samara is adopted and continues to drive everyone around her insane with terrible visions. She never sleeps and these visions never stop until Samara is thrown down a well and sealed inside. This limits her influence until Rachel frees her in The Ring allowing her the freedom to attempt to possess Aiden. It really is a solid backstory, particularly the idea that the demon Samara never sleeps and the child she possessed is forever asleep within. I think both Patrick and I would have liked to see them play with that “water demon” idea of it at some point (and also opens a possibility for ultimate closure). But through three entries it’s kept fairly vague.

Where?! I love this setting as it so specifically narrows in on a random town in Oregon that actually exists. Rachel and Aiden move just over the Washington border into Astoria. It’s actually a well known filming location acting also as the setting for The Goonies and Kindergarten Cop. This is a B+, but the whole series borders on an A because of how entrenched in the Northwest it all is.

When?! This is almost a secret holiday film as we get to see some commercials for Memorial Day on TV. That can only really be used for a bound, though, as they are all preparing for an upcoming long weekend without being more specific. We also see a prescription fill date for May 5th so that gives up a nice three week window to work with. Had to work for it. C-.

The first part of this film is horrific. Everything looks cheap and shitty and took a step towards One Missed Call rather than keep up with the slick appearance of the Gore Verbinski original. This culminates in a 20 minute flea market scene that was only horrifying in how dull and terrible it all was. Then a weird thing happens. The film shifts into the well-worn child possession territory and almost immediately becomes much better. There are lots of films ruined by the end (the classic being that the entire film was a dream or something equally dumb), but ruined by the beginning is much rarer. Could it be that we found one of these gems? Maybe. Still a pretty significant step back from the original in almost every way, not just in the beginning. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! You are the brilliant mind who brought J-Horror to the American masses. They. Went. Bananas. And you made the big bucks. What’s next for the Golden Boy (that’s what your coworkers call you)? Well … I mean, let’s just make that thing again right? There’s like a sequel and a book and everything, this should be easy … right? Golden Boy! Let’s go!

The Good (Sequel / Prequel / Remake) – The second half of this movie is kind of alright if you like The Ring. It is very similar. A investigative journalist needs to go investigating and encounters a spooooooky ghost. She barely knows what she’s doing and mostly causes trouble until she doesn’t (hooray!). That is the same as the first movie. And if you like thriller investigative films they both work shockingly well in that regard. So let’s imagine a Remake where the beginning of this film isn’t a complete pile of garbage. At the end of the first film Naomi Watts, Rachel, had just helped Samara (whoops) and presumably murdered someone to save her son. Honestly I think you pick up where you left off. She’s discovered the secret to saving oneself from Samara’s wrath, but there is an open question as to how to end Samara once and for all. Her method of saving herself is revealed to the world by Beth, Noah’s live-in girlfriend, which ultimately leads to an ever multiplying virus of tapes spreading across Washington. Rachel chases down as many of them as possible, but the desperate victims start to fight her influenced by the growing power of Samara. Realizing it is too late to stop the spread Rachel goes for the source, the convent that Samara (with demon in tow) was conceived and born. Can Rachel stop Samara? Or will Rachel, like a doofus, end up helping Samara achieve her ultimate desire: to be reborn again into another human vessel?

The Bad (Sklog-cabulary Quiz) – The first half of this film is garbage, but you knew that already. They never bother to address one of the weirdest mysteries of the entire series: why does this little girl demon live on a video tape? What are the rules even all about? Given it can be summed up as “it was an allegory for how technology is slowly killing us all” I think they basically gave that little mystery a pass (beyond perhaps that was her way of passing her “visions” to people far from her well-prison). The movie isn’t scary, although that is kind of expected given the first one wasn’t scary either. And finally, despite liking the second half of the film, it is pretty derivative of many films that came before it. It is basically a run of the mill child gets possessed by a demon tale. For the Sklog-cabulary Quiz I think I’ll note an interesting aspect of both the second and third Rings series which I’ll call:

The Janus Device (n.) – A plot device which acts to split a film into two disparate entities. Each half of the film can be viewed almost independently, often with distinct tones, settings, and plots.

In BMT the most famous Janus Device was from The Guardian where Ashton Kutcher’s graduation from the Coast Guard Academy perfectly splits the film into two parts. The first part sees Kutcher (aka Goldfish) butting heads with Kevin Costner among the sultry Louisiana bayou. The second half sees Kutcher (aka Speedboat) best of pals with Costner among the freezing waters of Kodiak, Alaska. Here you see basically a bunch of throwaway jump scares until Watts son lands in the hospital sick with possession. From there it kicks right back into The Ring territory, complete with changing the setting from Astoria, Oregon back to Seattle, Washington. The movie was clearly just over written by several different crews.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – I think this has got legs that go on for days my friends. I am officially a fan of J Horror. I was to watch more and get to know them. And I think I’ll try my very best to get BMT to give that to me. Stay tuned. As far as street cred, well it did get two nomination at both the Golden Schmoes (Worst Film and Biggest Disappointment) and the Stinkers Bad Movie Awards (Worst Sequel and Least Scary Horror Film). But as far as I can tell this kind of flew under the critical radar. I think it is great, whatever.

I’ll leave that there because this one is already enormous. I’ll cover The Ring in more detail in the recap for Rings.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs