The Cat in the Hat Preview

The Cat in the Hat (2003) – BMeTric: 77.9

CatInTheHat_BMeT

(Woof. Just a blast off right from the start. This movie should remain in the pantheon of bad movies for ever more. I doubt many films drop below 4.0 on IMDb and yet have over 35 thousand votes, it makes almost no logical sense.)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars –  A brother and sister spend an eventful day in the company of a magical cat while their single mom is off at work. Brightly colored adaptation of the beloved rhyming book for young children is a betrayal of everything that Dr. Suess ever stood for, injecting potty humor and adult (wink-wink) jokes into its mixture of heavy-handed slapstick and silliness. Hayes also provides the voice of The Fish. Officially known as Dr. Suess’ The Cat in the Hat, which is an official insult.

(I’m going to play a little game of “find the half star.” Where does Leonard find a half star to give this “official insult” and “betrayal of everything that Dr. Suess ever stood for”? Is it in the bright colors? Is it Sean Hayes? I just don’t see how this isn’t a BOMB review.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OSStCz6EdY

(Welp, this is going to be the worst. Great.)

Directors – Bo Welch – (BMT: The Cat in the Hat; With BMeT: (77.9) The Cat in the Hat; Notes: Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2004 for Worst Director (The Cat in the Hat). Four time Oscar nominee in Production Design for The Color Purple, The Little Princess, The Birdcage, and Men in Black.)

Writers – Dr. Seuss (book) – (Known For: How the Grinch Stole Christmas; Horton Hears a Who!; The Lorax; The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.; BMT: The Cat in the Hat; Notes: Gained some traction in Hollywood after writing the Oscar winning animated short Gerald McBoing-Boing. Following that he created his only original screenplay, The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, which came in at a startling 1200-pages.)

Alec Berg (screenplay) – (Known For: The Dictator; EuroTrip; BMT: The Cat in the Hat; Shark Tale)

David Mandel (screenplay) – (Known For: The Dictator; EuroTrip; BMT: The Cat in the Hat)

Jeff Schaffer (screenplay) – (Known For: The Dictator; EuroTrip; Brüno; BMT: The Cat in the Hat; Shark Tale)

Combine Notes for Berg, Mandel and Schaffer – Got the gig after doing punch-up work on the Grinch film. Won the 2004 Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (Cat in the Hat). These three are pretty much responsible for assuring that no other Seuss books were ever adapted into live-action films because Dr. Seuss’ widow was so offended by the non-family friendly nature of the film. Not wonder, look at their filmography! Additionally they are still all heavily involved in television. Berg is the exec producer of Silicon Valley, Mandel is exec producer of Veep, and Schaffer is the creator of The League.

Actors – Mike Myers – (Known For: Inglourious Basterds; Shrek; Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery; Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me; Shrek 2; Wayne’s World; Shrek the Third; Austin Powers in Goldmember; Shrek Forever After; Wayne’s World 2; So I Married an Axe Murderer; BMT: The Love Guru; The Cat in the Hat; View from the Top; 54; Mystery, Alaska; Notes: Wow, interesting how few bad movies he actually ever made. It just seems like he made a lot because The Cat in the Hat and The Love Guru were so reviled.)

Mike Myers Razzie Notes – Nominated for a Razzie as Worst Actor of the Decade (The Cat in the Hat and The Love Guru), Won the Razzie Award in 2009 for Worst Actor (The Love Guru), Won the Razzie Award in 2009 for Worst Screenplay (The Love Guru), Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2004 for Worst Actor (The Cat in the Hat), Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2004 for Worst Screen Couple (The Cat in the Hat)

Also stars Spencer Breslin and Dakota Fanning

Budget/Gross – $109 million / Domestic: $101,149,285 (Worldwide: $133,960,541)

(That looks like a gigantic bomb to me. They were deceived by How the Grinch Stole Christmas methinks, whose success is probably more down to the holiday connection than anything else.)

#28 for the Family – Children’s Book Adaptation genre

(This is more of a massive bomb because of its budget if nothing else. Look at Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events, a bomb because it cost $140 million (!). But below Cat in the Hat is Jumanji which was nothing but a resounding financial success because it only cost $60 million. This category is a fascinating hodge podge).

Rotten Tomatoes – 10% (16/157): Filled with double entendres and potty humor, this Cat falls flat.

(Did you really have to end the consensus with “this Cat falls flat”? That is giving me chills at just how bad that is. Why did you do that?)

Poster – Sklog and the Dog (D+)

cat_in_the_hat_ver3

(Too much going on. Too many colors. The font would probably only trip up Patrick for a moment if he spoofed the poster (I would make it “The Sklog and the Dog” and it would be him and his dog. Nailed it). And as for the tagline…)

Tagline(s) – Cats with hats only! (F)

(Oh no! Oh deary me, no! Sweet summer child. That… that is meaningless. Interestingly, imdb posts several taglines including “The ultimate game of cat and house,” which I would have probably scored a B. Kinda clever, kinda fun, not totally sensical, but sensical enough. It just seems to be a phrase said in the trailer and not really used anywhere else.)

Notes – Mike Myers was unaware that a piece of the house would fall behind him near the end of the film. His reaction was real. (cooooooooooool)

As a result of this film, Audrey Geisel, the widow of Dr. Seuss decided to reject any future live-action adaptations of her husband’s work claiming that this film differed from her late husband’s Family Friendly Material. (As mentioned in the note above)

According to Mike Myers, less than a month before the film was released, the producers had already begun plans for a sequel based on The Cat in the Hat Comes Back. Because of the film’s negative reception, it was abandoned. (Sounds about right, also probably wouldn’t have been able to secure the rights even if they thought they could fix the issues)

Tim Allen was originally cast as the title role, but couldn’t do it because he was filming The Santa Clause 2 (2002) (Also starring Spencer Breslin, what?! Were you busier than him, Tim? Oh you were …)

Awards – Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst ‘Comedy’ of Our First 25 Years

Won the Razzie Award for Worst Excuse for an Actual Movie (All Concept/No Content!)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Picture

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Mike Myers)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor (Alec Baldwin)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress (Kelly Preston)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Screen Couple

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Director (Bo Welch)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (Alec Berg, David Mandel, and Jeff Schaffer)

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Harlem Nights Recap

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Harlem Nights? More like Meh, Alright! This movie is so weird, let’s get into it:

  • The Good – I liked the style. The music, costumes, opening credits, feel of it was genuine. It didn’t feel like a bunch of comedians wandering around in costumes looking like idiots. Very very ambitious. There are moments when vintage Eddie Murphy shines through.
  • The Bad – He wasn’t bad, but Pryor just sleepwalks through this. Too often profanity it used as a stand in for actual jokes. The storyline is just kind of boring. It is like noir films, when you hit it it is amazing, but when you miss it just seems like you’ve seen all the twists elsewhere. I was joking throughout the film that it felt like I had been watching it for years. It is so slow it does feel like it takes three hours to get through everything.
  • The BMT – This is a rare one: Nope! Too slow. Too boring. Not enough street cred to warrant wasting your time unless you are an Oscar / Razzie / Eddie Murphy completionist. I would say like 10. Maybe 15 on the BMeTric. But maybe I just wasn’t in the mood.

No game this week because I performed a little installment of what I call BMT:CSI:SVU (we’re the special victims!). This is generally data science work about bad movies and is what ultimately resulted in the BMeTric all those months ago. The first installment can be found here, and in general our bad movie musings (quantitative and qualitative) will be held in The Bad Movie Institute of Technology (BMIT), found here.

Jamie

I really have very little to say about Harlem Nights. I actually thought there was a lot of things done right in the film. The music was great (shout-out to Herbie Hancock), costumes were bomb, and it generally looked nice. The whole story was a mess, though. Just slow and bizarre. So bizarre, it’s hard even to say whether it was a good or bad film in the end… it just was. If you had to try to compare it to something else from that era the obvious choice would be Nothing but Trouble, the Dan Aykroyd disaster. Just like Murphy, Aykroyd was given complete creative control of every aspect of his film. In the case of Nothing but Trouble this resulted in a monumentally unpleasant film that borders on unwatchable. In the case of Harlem Nights it resulted in an ambitious period piece that looks beautiful, but misses badly with an underdeveloped storyline. Clearly one is better than the other. Congrats, Harlem Nights.

Harlem Nights is not based on a book. I would have loved to read that book though. Nice slow, character-driven burn. But I don’t care to talk about a fake book this time. Instead I’ll do a classic Prequel, Sequel, or Remake and I have to say: I think a solid remake could be great, especially if they move fully away from comedy. Cast? Michael B. Jordan in Murphy’s role, Denzel Washington in Pryor’s role, and Danny Glover in Foxx’s role. That would get me pretty excited. Give the film a darker tone, with the major heist at the end cut together with the concurrent boxing match and you got gold I tells yah. Let’s get on the horn, Patrick, and take this train to Oscar town. Of course, the only person who would actually end up getting nominated for an Oscar would be Christopher Walken playing the crooked cop because… well you know why.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

BMeTric Live! #1: MPAA Ratings

[This is an ongoing series concerning the development of a new bad movie metric actively being researched by Patrick. This is installment #1]

The MPAA Rating Factor

To quote a famous bad movie researcher:

[The major flaw with the BMeTric is that it] is ever changing. As the current movie vote/rating data changes so does the baseline. And as a movie’s vote/rating changes its BMeTric changes.

Patrick, Distinguished Professor of the Bad Movie Science and Technology, badmovietwins.com (February 2016)

This flaw also makes calculating the BMeTric of a film prior to release impossible due to its reliance on temporal data. Specifically, the number of votes and rating on IMDb is non-existant prior to release and unreliable until such time as the vote count reaches a relative steady-state. This project hopes to remedy this difficulty by forming a time-independent BMeTric, or BMeTric Live!

To start, it is important to identify some of the parameters we might look at in a time-independent BMeTric. A good starting point is looking at the available data from omdbapi. The parameters from that are: title, year, rating, runtime, genre, release date, director, writer, cast, Metacritic score, IMDb rating, IMDb votes, poster, plot, language, country, awards, tomatoMeter, RT reviews, RT fresh reviews, RT rotten reviews, RT consensus, RT userMeter, RT userRating, RT userReviews, box office gross, production company.

Most of these can be immediately eliminated. Specifically, because they are temporal: Metacritic score, tomatoMeter, IMDb rating, IMDb votes, awards, RT reviews, RT fresh reviews, RT rotten reviews, RT userMeter, RT userRating, RT userReviews, RT consensus, and box office gross are all gone. Analysis of the title, plot, or poster is also rather difficult so throw those guys out for now. The year is rather useless since it will only be applied to upcoming releases, and country and language as well because we tend to watch US releases in English exclusively. That leaves a rather svelte initial set: MPAA Rating, runtime, genre, release date, director, writer, cast, production company. That list honestly look really good to me, kind of exactly what I would hope to incorporate into a time-independent BMeTric.

So let’s quickly look to the first one just to see what we can see. MPAA rating. First and foremost: Only consider movies with a MPAA rating of G, PG, PG-13 and R. Simple rule. To quickly point out: the G, PG, PG-13 and R cover all movies we’d likely consider for the time-independent BMeTric And as far as backtesting and fitting are concerned all movies (except maybe Showgirls?) also fit into those four major categories. There might be some bias because PG-13 was introduced in 1984, but besides the rare few borderline cases (Gremlins, Temple of Doom, etc.) I personally don’t think it will effect the data all that much. Films prior to 1980 are rarely considered by BMT so any excluded because they don’t have an MPAA rating shouldn’t throw things off too much.

So to start, a hypothesis: I think G will have a lower BMeTric in general and PG-13 will have a higher BMeTric in general. This is because I think G-rated films will just generally have less votes, and PG-13 rated films will cover films appealing to a “wide base” of viewers (more votes and lower rating).

Initial results: Here, all I wanted to look at basically is the mean, median and major quantiles (25 and 75) of the rated groups relative to the the wider population (all rated films). Box and whisker is pretty standard (although I went sans-whisker which is typically 5 and 95 percentiles. For those interested it is because the BMeTric is constrained to be between 0 and 100 and is more exponentially shaped than normally shaped, so the 5th percentile is pretty much zero and the 95th is around 85 for every rating and just makes the graph look dumb while providing no information), and guess what?

RatingAnalysis

Totally nailed it! If this isn’t obvious from this incredibly information dense figure, long-story short: G-rated is lower, PG-13 is higher, the other two a enigmatic. I put error bars on the mean (the dot) and then error bars on the median (the red line) and the 25th and 75th percentile (bottom and top of the box respectively) all via bootstrap (although the data isn’t much different using a central limit theorem approach, I checked, it was just easier to subsequently get error bars on the factors). As a first pass we can generate a factor for each rating:

RatingFactors

Rating Mean Factor 25th Percentile Factor Median Factor 75th Percentile Factor
G 0.73 0.43 0.54 0.64
PG 1.00 0.67 0.83 1.01
PG-13 1.26 1.25 1.35 1.34
R 0.91 1.07 0.97 0.90

Pretty much in line with what would be expected. Note that the PG and R are a little mixed up. It is basically because the R rating tend to have a more narrow distribution (higher 25th percentile, lower 75th percentile), and PG-rated movies are the opposite. It is something I want to make sure to account for in the future if possible so I listed all of them. If I were to make a metric right now though I would take the easy way out and just adjust the mean, that’s it. I was also surprised at how definitive it all was. The error bars kind of leave no doubt: PG-13 rated movies have a higher BMeTric in general, and G-rated movies have a lower BMeTric in general. Nailing it all day over at BMIT (natch)!

What contributed to the upgrades and downgrades? Looking to the votes and ratings individually:

  • IMDB Rating / log(Votes): 6.34 / 3.93 (Total)
  • IMDB Rating / log(Votes): 6.61 / 3.81 (G)
  • IMDB Rating / log(Votes): 6.37 / 3.85 (PG)
  • IMDB Rating / log(Votes): 6.28 / 4.14 (PG-13)
  • IMDB Rating / log(Votes): 6.33 / 3.88 (R)

Basically, G-rated films have the highest ratings and lowest number of votes, and PG-13 movies tend to have the highest number of votes and lowest ratings. I guess people don’t like to just go onto IMDb and slam kids’ movies? Otherwise pretty much exactly my hypothesis. Interesting stuff. I’m also kind of impressed with the BMeTric’s ability to cut through the noise. Look at the rating/votes number and then the BMeTric numbers and it seems to me that the BMeTric is pretty good at not only reducing the dimensionality of the data, but also its combination amplifies the numbers as well. It is nice.

How might we use this to help determine BMT Live!? To give an example maybe we need to choose between two movies. On Apirl 29 2016, for example, maybe you are struggling to choose between Garry Marshall instant classic Mother’s Day and the video game adaptation Ratchet and Clank. You don’t know anything about the films except that Mother’s Day is PG-13 and Ratchet and Clank is PG. This analysis would suggest that Mother’s Day would be the better bet (and I would agree). But I’m also willing to bet that this won’t end up being a hugely important factor, how we mix these factors will come at the end of the study. I am liking the path we are on at the moment though, I am a bit more confident that a metric with some value might come of this analysis.

Harlem Nights Preview

Alright, so this week we move onto our Razzie category. We needed a Razzie nominee with a one-and-done director and what better one to do than Eddie Murphy’s only directorial effort, Harlem Nights. In 1989, with Robert Townsend and Spike Lee, there was a bit of a black directing renaissance going on in Hollywood. Eddie Murphy was the it guy and was given the chance to direct a film. He wanted to work with his heroes, so he cast Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx and they cooked up Harlem Nights. Sounds pretty cool and this has definitely got a bit of a cult following over the years, so don’t be surprised if we come back saying some good (or at least alright) things about it. Let’s go!

Harlem Nights (1989) – BMeTric: 23.5

HarlemNights_BMeT

(Yet another weird example of a movie going from “really bad” about 10 years ago (4.8 rating on IMDb) to “mediocre to good” now (5.9 on IMDb). I have to admit, I don’t totally get the migration, but I assume it is just a general IMDb trend, the more people you have voting the higher the average rating tends to be. If this trend keeps up this will end up not even really registering for BMT at all, it if gets to 6.2 it will be near to 15 or so with the BMeTric. Vaguely interesting stuff guys.)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars –  Proprietor of an after-hours club in 1930s Harlem (Pryor) and his adopted son (Murphy) try standing up to a white mobster determined to cut in on their take of put them out of business. Murphy’s debut as a writer-director is skimpily scripted and completely devoid of energy. Even pryor’s effortless charisma can’t breathe much life into this one.

(That sounds about right. Not good, but not off-the-rails bad… two stars. Not sounding like the best BMT film.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=En27DgNW0nY

(Huh. A super understated trailer for what is apparently a super understated movie. I’m starting to get the feeling … oh yeah I’m there, I have a bad feeling this movie is “bad” because it is aggressively and unrelentingly boring. I hope I’m wrong.)

Directors – Eddie Murphy – (BMT: Harlem Nights; Notes: Only directorial effort of his career. His quote about directing: “It was a question of wearing too many hats, and as a result, everything was half-assed. All my peers were directing: Keenan [Ivory Wayans], and Robert [Townsend] and Spike [Lee]. I was like ‘Shit,’ I’m the big cat on the block; let me see what it’s like to direct. So I just did it. I didn’t dig it.”)

Writers – Eddie Murphy (written by) – (Known For: Coming to America; Beverly Hills Cop II; Boomerang; BMT: Norbit (BMT); Vampire in Brooklyn; Another 48 Hrs.; Harlem Nights; Notes: Involved in a well publicized lawsuit, Buchwald v. Paramount, involving the Coming to America screenplay. Murphy’s treatment for the script was alleged to be stolen from a screenplay written by Art Buchwald and the trial ended up being settled. Written about in the book Fatal Subtraction.)

Actors – Eddie Murphy – (Known For: Coming to America; Shrek; Mulan; Shrek 2; Trading Places; Beverly Hills Cop; Shrek the Third; Shrek Forever After; Tower Heist; Dreamgirls; Life; 48 Hrs.; The Nutty Professor; Doctor Dolittle; Beverly Hills Cop II; Dr. Dolittle 2; Bowfinger; Boomerang; Imagine That; BMT: Norbit (BMT); Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (Seen it); The Adventures of Pluto Nash (BMT); Vampire in Brooklyn; The Haunted Mansion; Meet Dave; Holy Man (Seen it); I Spy (Seen it); Beverly Hills Cop III; Showtime; Daddy Day Care; Metro; Another 48 Hrs.; The Golden Child; A Thousand Words (BMT); The Distinguished Gentleman; Harlem Nights; Notes: Major movie star and stand-up comic. One of the most prominent BMT actors of our age.)

Eddie Murphy Razzie Notes – Won 2010 Worst Actor of the Decade; Won 2008 Worst Actor, Supporting Actor, and Supporting Actress Norbit, 1990 Worst Screenplay Harlem Nights; Nominated 2013 Worst Actor A Thousand Words, 2010 Worst Actor Imagine That, 2009 Worst Actor Meet Dave, 2003 Worst Actor The Adventures of Pluto Nash, I Spy, Showtime, 1990 Worst Director Harlem Nights, 2008 Worst Screenplay Norbit, 2009 Worst Screen Couple Meet Dave, 2008 Worst Screen Couple Norbit, 2003 Worst Screen Couple with Robert De Niro (Showtime) and Owen Wilson (I Spy).

Also stars Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx

Budget/Gross – $30 million / Domestic: $60,864,870

(Quite a big hit, although not nearly the hit that the producers anticipated (if stories are to be believed). The more famous story from its release is a couple of shooting that occurred in and around theaters during its release. Led to the first metal detectors installed in theaters.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 21% (3/14): No consensus yet.

(Too old for a consensus, so I’ll make one up: Great cast and sharp 1930’s look, can’t make up for the bizarrely unfunny script by first-time-director Murphy. Maybe stick to acting.)

Poster – Classic (A)

harlem_nights

(It’s just classic. I would hang this on my wall. I feel like all the art aspects of this film were off the chain.)

Tagline(s) – They’re up to something big. (D)

(Does this mean something? I’m confused. Is this a film where Eddie Murphy is made into a 50-foot monster through the reverse use of a shrinking ray? Are Murphy, Pryor, and Foxx tasked with transporting an Elephant somewhere? It only doesn’t get an F because it doesn’t offend my senses.)

Notes – In the autobiography, “Pryor Convictions and Other Life Sentences (1997)”, Richard Pryor states that he ” . . . never connected with Eddie [Murphy]. People talked about how my work had influenced Eddie, and perhaps it did. But I always thought Eddie’s comedy was mean. I used to say, “Eddie, be a little nice” and that would piss him off . . . I finished [Harlem Nights (1989)] thinking that Eddie didn’t like me”.

By his own admission, Eddie Murphy felt that he didn’t dedicate enough thought or care to the directing of his debut. He was more concerned at the time with figuring out where the next party was going to be.

Awards – Oscar Nominated for Best Costume Design (Joe I. Tompkins)

Won the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (Eddie Murphy)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Director (Eddie Murphy)

Eragon Recap

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Eragon? More like Era-Don’t! (I could think of something that actually rhymed, this was honestly the best I could do). Oh, I get to tell you guys the story of Eragon, what an absolute pleasure (I guess sarcasm is the main place that an email like this fails where a podcast would succeed, but such is life):

  • The Good – The landscapes were beautiful. The CGI was amazing (especially for the time). I’ve seen worse swords-and-sorcery movies. Jeremy Irons was solid. The story itself has something there, I can feel it. It’s just that …
  • The Bad – The story is so tired and the way it is told is so cookie-cutter and the overall result is just banal from top to bottom. As is usual when you get a bunch of professional actors together dress them up in ridiculous costumes and tell them to do what you want the performances were … spotty. The absolute reliance on this being a trilogy (eventual tetralogy) is kind of nuts.
  • The BMT – The more I think about it the more the movie kind of comes apart at the seams. It is kind of lower-mid table as far as its genre, so maybe 30/100 on our bad movie scale. Above average, but nothing special. The fact that it has a 60+ right now is a testament to just how angry fans of the book series got about it.

Audio Sklog-entary! Listened to the director commentary. The guy seems like a really solid visual effects supervisor. He was obsessed with sets and CGI and knew his stuff. But holy shit, he was just putting a movie together like it was a puzzle. Paint-by-numbers movie, what time is it? Can I talk to my CGI artists in Germany yet? Explains a bit I think. Seems like he probably just had no interest in directing a movie after the reception Eragon got.

Sequel/Prequel/Remake I’m going to go with Prequel. Tell me more about Bron the dragonrider and his adventures with the mad king Galbatorix! All real words. I’ll keep it short, because Jamie’s review is loooooong.

Jamie

Eragon fits nicely into the relatively rare subgenre of Sword and Sorcery and as BMT progresses we get a nice broader picture of these small subgenres. We can start to rank and put films into a bit of a hierarchy. I would say that we’ve watched five films that would fit the genre: Conan the Destroyer, Seventh Son, Eragon, Dungeons & Dragons, and In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (I love writing out its full title). I’m sure you’re all gnashing your teeth and rending your clothes at the fact that I’ve left off Highlander II: The Quickening and The Legend of Hercules, but playa please. We’re talking true, blue Sword and Sorcery, not a film that takes place on Earth. I want imaginary worlds and made up bullshit, thank you very much.  So where do these five films fit in our BMT Sword and Sorcery landscape? Like a beautiful Bob Ross painting, Seventh Son is the happy little mountains in our fantasy realm. Eragon is a happy little tree off to the side and Conan the Destroyer is a happy little lake from which happy deer drink happily to sate their thirst. Dungeons & Dragons is unfortunately a happy little castle that Bob accidentally painted pink and couldn’t change it cause it was too late and besides he only has thirty minutes to paint this and the viewers probably won’t notice anyway… right? As for In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale. Well that is the happy little toxic waste spill that poisons our happy little lake and ends up wiping out the entire happy little deer population in the valley. It’s poison leaks into the ground water destroying the ecosystem in the area for generations to come and causing widespread illness among the populous in our happy little valley. Oh woe are those in our Sword and Sorcery Valley. Woe indeed. Oh! And if you didn’t follow the metaphor: Seventh Son > Conan the Destroyer = Eragon > Dungeons & Dragons >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale.

Obviously for my game I’ll be doing my BMTsolution. Eragon was definitely adapted from a book and I, of course, read it. It’s a *gulp* 500 page young adult novel following the adventures of our titular hero as he discovers he’s super lame (oh, and a dragon rider too). Probably the funniest thing about the book is just how similar it is to Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey, except replace Edward/Christian Grey with a dragon and Bella/Anastasia with Eragon (no, I didn’t make a mistake in how I classified the characters). Eragon is super headstrong. He’s always getting into trouble and subsequently getting saved by his dragon. The dragon is always like, “I can’t handle you being in danger, you have to stay with me all the time so you can be safe,” and Eragon has to fight for his independence while also being like, “I love you so much dragon. It flips my world upside down. I was an ordinary boy a second ago and now you make me feel so special with your love.” Then if you thought it couldn’t get any weirder, Eragon rides his dragon for the first time and it hurts him badly. He is then resistant to riding the dragon again, for he is afraid of how much it hurt him the first time they did it. But the dragon is reassuring and wants him to ride her because that is how they are meant to be. Then when he finally plucks up the courage he realizes that flying doesn’t have to hurt and in fact is wonderful and they can look through each other’s eyes and souls while they fly together. Oh it’s beautiful! How it feels to fly with a dragon you feel so connected to!… … … Incredibly uncomfortable stuff. The whole time I was like, “He’s basically having sex with this dragon… and it’s weird as fuck.” Besides that, the book is a blatant rip-off of Wheel of Time (not Star Wars like the reviewers claimed for some reason), and so I probably would have loved if it came out when I was in 6th grade. Who am I kidding, I didn’t mind reading it now and I’m an adult(ish).

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Eragon Preview

So this week is also an extra special week. No, we are not watching Bulletproof Monk again. Instead we are here to celebrate watching 300 BMT films! It’s a sad day when you can say you are almost to the point where you have an entire year of bad movies under your belt, but we are getting mighty close. We only started the website recently, so you can’t see much of our thoughts on a majority of these films, but trust me we watched them… we certainly did (Jamie says, staring wistfully into the distance). We are sticking to the Stallonian Calendar for this milestone and watching Eragon as the Sci-Fi/Fantasy entry in the one-and-done director cycle. Directed by Stefen Fangmeier, a visual effects artist from ILM that got a chance to direct the film as his first (and last) feature. This one’s got everything: a book it’s based on, a movie that horrified its core fanbase, a failed franchise, and a director’s commentary to listen to in our free time. Perfect as #300. Let’s go!

Eragon (2006) – BMeTric: 62.4

Eragon_BMeT

(Look at that beauty. Took a few months to hit 50 and then never looked back. I’m actually shocked it didn’t get any play for the Razzies because I remember this getting hit hard when it came out. Although it did get some play at the last Stinkers Awards (remember those? Weirdly enough neither do I. And it was much more well known than the Razzies for like 20 years). Anyways, the score suggests I should be rolling down the aisle Pompeii style. Do not make such promises BMeTric, my heart can only take so much.)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars –  Orphaned farm boy finds a mysterious egg that hatches the last of an extinct breed of magical dragons. The boy, the dragon, and his world-weary, wise old mentor travel across magical lands to save the oppressed people of his home kingdom from an evil king and his henchman wizard. Scenery is pretty and CGI effects are fine, but the movie is a patchwork quilt of conventions borrowed from other fantasy films and stories (with none of their entertainment value). Based on the first in a series of popular books by Christopher Paolini.

(Oh dear, Leonard. You clearly know this is based on a book series written by a 15-year-old kid. Did you not think the story was going to be a patchwork quilt of conventions borrowed from other fantasy material? Otherwise he seems pretty OK with the film. Things are looking up.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZRHO0d9Nao

(Anyone else amped?! Yeah. Dragons bro! Killing it. Can’t wait for the second and third in the Inheritance trilogy. Get to see that sweet Malkovich Con-Air crazy come out. Boom.)

Directors – Stefen Fangmeier – (BMT: Eragon; Notes: Accomplished visual effects artist nominated for three Oscars in the field for Twister, The Perfect Storm, and Master and Commander. Spent most of his career at ILM before leaving to try directing with Eragon. Since then he has sporadically done visual effects work, most recently on future BMT Allegiant.)

Writers – Peter Buchman (screenplay) – (Known For: Jurassic Park III; Che; BMT: Eragon; Notes: Started as a playwright in Seattle and caught a break when one of his plays was purchased by Scorsese, prompting a move to LA. Another script of his caught the eye of Spielberg who hired him for Jurassic Park III.)

Christopher Paolini (novel) – (BMT: Eragon; Notes: Doesn’t talk about the film adaptation much other than to say that he’s grateful it was made and that a film is the vision of the filmmaker and the book the vision of the artist, so both need to be enjoyed separately. Nice outlook.)

Actors – Ed Speleers – (Known For: Howl; A Lonely Place to Die; BMT: Eragon; Plastic; Notes: Now probably best known as a regular on Downton Abbey. Was on the shortlist for John Boyega’s part in Force Awakens.)

Also stars Dungeons and Dragons legend Jeremy Irons

Budget/Gross – $100 million / Domestic: $75,030,163 (Worldwide: $249,488,115)

(Worldwide success, but lackluster domestic haul is probably why it didn’t spawn the franchise that I’m sure the studio wanted. The 29th highest grossing young adult adaptation of all time. The worst wide-release? A vampire movie called Blood and Chocolate… which I don’t remember coming out, but stars Legends of Oz and Evening BMT hall of famer Hugh Dancy (that’s what he’s known for right?).)

Rotten Tomatoes – 16% (20/124): Written by a teenager (and it shows), Eragon presents nothing new to the “hero’s journey” story archetype. In movie terms, this movie looks and sounds like Lord of the Rings and plays out like a bad Star Wars rip-off. The movie spins the tale of a peasant boy who is suddenly entrusted with a dragon and must, with the help of a mentor, train, grow strong, and defeat an evil emperor. The way the critics picture it, the makers of Eragon should soon be expecting an annoyed phone call from George Lucas.

(Right off the bat hitting at the author. In fairness, he did not write the film. Also, harping on something because it “ripped off” Star Wars simply because it has a character who must grow strong and fight an evil-doer is hilarious. Is there any fantasy film or book where that isn’t the plot? Are they also going to be getting annoyed phone calls from Bobby Jordan?)

Poster – Yup … That’s a poster. (C-)

eragon_ver7

(Let’s see. I kind of like the symmetry. The color scheme is okay (I wish it wasn’t just generally blue and blah), but otherwise, again, uninspired. I think that might be the theme of the day boys and girls. Uninspired. This film feels uninspired. We do continue our streak of bomb fonts though. Look at that, impossible to fake!)

Tagline(s) – You are stronger than you realize. Wiser than you know. What was once your life is now your legend. (D)

Riders Wanted (D+)

As Darkness Falls, The Last Dragon Will Choose Its Rider. (C+)

(I am less than impressed with all of these. The first is two long and, honestly, try and read it and allow your mind to naturally parse that monster … it doesn’t make sense. The second is fun, but is more suited to a fun kids animated film like How to Train Your Dragon. The last is probably the best, it is just uninspired. And “darkness falls” seems a bit misplaced to me, but I can’t really put my finger one it … well, nothing solid in the lot.)

Notes – Many fans of the book were upset at Stefen Fangmeier’s decisions to take out crucial characters and plot lines.

Plans were made to adapt the other books in the series, but they were dropped.

Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart were offered the role of Brom, but turned it down because of their commitment to X-Men: The Last Stand (2006). (and probably because they thought it was going to be terrible …)

Alex Pettyfer was offered the role of Eragon, previous to the casting of Ed Speleers. Pettyfer said he had turned down the role partly because Eragon was filmed in Budapest and he’s afraid of flying. (Nooooooooooo. My sweet sweet Pettyfer. It is only a few days by train to Hungary. Even if he was in the US at the time there is a boat that takes ten days to England. Easy peasy. What a BMT Disaster!).

Bulletproof Monk Recap

Jamie

There are a lot, lot, lot of things to talk about with Bulletproof Monk. I’ll let Patrick take control of talking about the film itself, while I talk about my true passion: settings. Remember when we watched The Tuxedo a couple weeks back and I was all like, “wait, why does this movie go out of its way to specifically not be set in NYC?” I even created a whole new game, BMysTeries, asking the question of why films occasionally are not set anywhere in particular. Who would have thought that just weeks later, Bulletproof Monk would also seemingly go out of its way to not be set in NYC? And who would have thought that it would provide information that (partially) solves the mystery? Here’s what I learned. Both were filmed in Toronto in 2001 (in fact several locations in the films were filmed in the same buildings). In the writers’ commentary for Bulletproof Monk (which Patrick and I try to listen to now) they mentioned how the film was originally set in NYC, but they decided to scrub out all the references to New York. Why? September 11th! Of course! Basically it was deemed unnecessarily dicey to set a film in NYC, especially one where there may be a shootout or threat of an attack. So in post they CGI’d all the NYC references out. So those “Great State” license plates? More than likely CGI, used to replace the NYC plates with the generic plates that are typically used in films without a setting. So the specific Tuxedo BMysTery was solved! And not only that, solved by our crazy decision to start listening to DVD commentaries while we run. Already paying dividends.

While Bulletproof Monk was not based on a book, it was based on a three-part graphic novel series! And guess who used the fantastic public library system in his local community to obtain said graphic novel series? That’s right, this guy. The series was pretty good. Nice mix of action and Far East philosophy. Really took that part seriously. Reminded me a little of Wanted though. Like I hated the characters. They kinda sucked. But otherwise a good story. So how was the adaptation?… well “adaptation” may be a strong word. The writers and producers were pretty open about just wanting to use the title. It started out with just the words “Bulletproof Monk.” Chow-yun Fat liked that idea and wanted to play that character, so they bought the rights and made a film where he was a character. Everything you see in the film is only loosely based on anything in the comic. Which in some ways is a good thing, since the comic ends after the third issue and doesn’t actually finish the story. The creator just stopped making them for reasons that we can only speculate on. Probably the most troubling thing is that the entire cast of the graphic novel is Asian. The film? Not so much. Kar and Jade are both whitewashed. This would have been huge news if this happened today (see: Gods of Egypt) and may have even stopped production for recasting, but at the time no one thought twice about it. The final note, generally when Patrick and I are looking to see if a film is based on other material we look to writers credits on IMDb. Oddly, the writers of Bulletproof Monk did not get credits on the film. In fact, only the creator of the comic got credit as a producer. I tried to figure out why this is and it would seem the creator is just kind of an asshole. It seemed like he may have created the comic in order to sell it to Hollywood, because once he accomplished that feat he closed up shop, never continued the series (which was written as more of a prequel to a larger story), and became a talent agent in Hollywood. He claimed he couldn’t get credit for everyone because they would have pulled the adaptation, but everyone involved in the comic seems to think that’s bullshit and he just kind of threw everyone under the bus. Fantastic.

Told you there was a lot to talk about.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Bulletproof Monk? More like Man This Goof Stunk! Watch out everyone, we tried something new, but more on that later, let’s get into it:

  • The Good – Chow Yun-Fat and Seann William Scott were pretty solid, funny and clearly into the project. Uh ….. Um …. I laughed during the movie.
  • The Bad – Ooof. The longer I think about it the more it seems like a surreal dream. The movie is a complete mess, hacked together into a loose storyline that really doesn’t make sense. The fight scenes were bad. The Nazi centric storyline was bonkers. And sorry, but Jamie King was simply awful. The movie is very dark and grimy as well, but I think that was a comic book thing.
  • The BMT – Again, the more I think on it the more I think this is a solid 50 in BMeTric terms. But the first two thirds are so boring I tend towards a 40. I’ll have to watch it again obviously.

This movie was really rather crazy. Hacked to shit is putting it kindly. And that new thing I mentioned? I listened to the commentary from the writers! (My life! This is my life! What hath our mere human minds created!?) Here is a quick takeaway. I loved listening to it, it was basically them telling stories about production for two hours. It actually operates perfectly as a podcast. And the writers … yeah, they sounded kind of like sellouts. The entire time they were talking about how everything changed due to producer or director pressure and seemed quite cheery about it all. Just like “Oh yeah, the director told us he wanted someone to die, so we said ‘bye Mako’”. They killed off a top ten billed character because the director felt like the Nazis had to kill someone at some point … the scene doesn’t even make sense! Whatever. Really fun. I look forward to Audio Sklog-entaries becoming a new thing in my life.

Quick game I’ll call WTF Did I Just Hear … That Can’t Be Right. Here I’ll highlight a line from the movie that just boggles the mind. This exchange was between Seann William Scott (SWS) and Jaime King (JK):

SWS: “Coming with me takes some gut. Guts and insanity. An interesting mix.”

JK: “Not making it out alive. That would really suck. Under the circumstances.”

SWS: “Yeah, definitely.”

Seriously …. What did I just hear?

Cheerios,

The Sklogs