Highlander: Endgame Recap

Jamie

Kell is the new immortal on the block gaining power by quickening up the wazoo. But Conner MacLeod and his best bro Duncan have plan. Can’t get killed by Kell if you’re already dead (think about it) and if you’re dead then the other can gain your quickening skillz. Can Duncan stop Kell (and perhaps get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… Highlander: Endgame.

How?! This shall be my greatest challenge ever. Remember the whole prize thing, well once again forget that Conner ever won that. Instead let’s start at the beginning where Conner, newly immortal, returns to his hometown. Considered a monster he is captured and his mother is burned at the stake. Enraged, Conner escapes and destroys the whole village, including the local priest, Kell. Years later he befriends a fellow immortal from the clan MacLeod, Duncan, and they begin decades of adventure together, obviously never mentioned in any previous installments of the franchise. Anywho, they meet up in NYC and are best bros, but tragically Conner’s adopted daughter is killed in an explosion set off by *gasp* the also immortal Kell (what a twist!). A grief stricken Conner then hides away in The Sanctuary, a place where The Watchers lock away immortals to keep Kell from winning the ultimate prize. But that doesn’t exactly work as Kell breaks into The Sanctuary and murders everyone (or does he?). Our boy Duncs goes to investigate but has to battle Kell and his army of immortals and is nearly killed. Instead he is captured by The Watchers who want to compel him to stay locked away like Conner. Duncs is like no way and with the help of some friends he escapes. Once freed he finds that Conner is actually alive, being saved for last by Kell as a form of revenge. Duncan also now knows that his former boo Kate is amongst Kell’s army and they flirt and stuff, but Kate can’t forgive him for the eternity of pain Duncan inflicted on her by turning her immortal (wait, what?). While Kell gathers strength by Quickening to the x-treme via the beheading of his army, Conner and Duncan fight one last time so that Conner, tired of his immortal life, can sacrifice himself to give his Quickening strength to Duncan. In a final climactic fight, Kell and Duncan face off and, duh, Duncs tots wins for sure. In the end we see that Kate has also survived and is ready to bone Duncan for the next 1000 years or whatever. THE END.

Why?! To win the prize allegedly. Although no matter how many times someone wins the prize they don’t seem to actually win the prize and then eventually they die. Makes you wonder whether there is even a prize… or is the ultimate prize really the friendships Conner made along the way (awww).

Who?! Two interesting casting choices here. Damon Dash, cofounder of Roc-A-Fella Records, made his screen debut in the film as one of Kell’s immortals. Probably ended up being his biggest film too, which is interesting. The wrestler The Edge also made a brief appearance in his feature debut… also the biggest thing he ever did.

What?! The Prize and the general immortal storyline is vague enough to probably constitute a MacGuffin on their own. Although not in the traditional sense. And hold up… you’re seriously telling me that Kell’s fake decapitated head went up for auction and didn’t get sold?! I can’t wait until I’m rich enough to need subjects of conversation for my rich person cocktail parties. “You know what this is?” I will say, pointing to a prop head that looks startlingly like Damodar from Dungeons & Dragons.

Where?! A lot of the film is set in New York City and Scotland, like the original. Some brief moments in Europe, but really the NYC aspect of Highlander is fun to have preserved. I have such nostalgia for the first one and the kinda grimy Madison Square Garden wrestling match in the beginning and stuff. It’s great. B

When?! Superb Secret Holiday Film Alert as this is explicitly set during Christmas. At first I was like “hmm, is that a Christmas tree in the background?” and then a minute later a character was quipping “Merry Christmas” to a dude just before he killed him. It is glorious. It’s just too bad that the film is such a piece of shit or I would say pair it up with Cobra and Turbulence and have a very merry Christmas trilogy. Also interesting the Highlander wiki has the film set in 2004… probably something to do with the TV timeline or whatever. A- just for Xmas sake.

I cannot accept that this film was actually released to theaters. It is straight up incomprehensible. Even for giant Highlander fans it would be incomprehensible. I have watched the critically reviled second entry enough to have actual opinions on it… like I have a whole theory that a good cut of Highlander 2 could be made, but in fact has never been made. But despite how much I have thought about the franchise, this fourth entry had me scratching my head wondering whether I was supposed to already know the subtle nuances of highlander lore they seemed to take as a given. Had I overestimated my Highlander acumen? Well I soon learned this was supposed to bridge nearly a decade of the Highlander tv series and finally bring Conner and Duncan MacLeod together. Ah! What everyone across the country was clamoring for! A continuation of the straight-to-syndication show that people probably caught momentarily while taking a sick day that one time. No wonder they released it to 1500+ theaters. Anyway, the movie makes no sense and looks exactly like what it is… a 90’s straight-to-syndication TV series. On a positive note, I actually didn’t mind the final Conner and Duncan fight, it was kind of sweet to show how Conner was ready to die for the fate of humanity after years of losing so many people he loved, and there was some surprisingly good martial arts, but I just can’t shake the fact that they thought this was a good idea. Highlander’s greatest strength was rising from the ashes to reset and forget the tragically misguided last entry in the series… it’s the only way you can get through something like Highlander 2 to claim the vaunted prize: a syndicated TV show. And yet once that prize was attained they decided we must remember everything forever. No wonder the immortal series finally died. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! There can only be one! … left, there is only one Highlander movie left to do, and it is Endgame. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – There can only be one! Or four or whatever. The most intriguing thing about the film was just how much of the film seemed like Highlander: The Series: The Movie. That, that seems crazy. Because there was six seasons of that show and it ended two years before this film was made … so they wouldn’t actually do that right? What were my expectations? Totally incomprehensible nonsense. There is no other way you can make a Highlander sequel and you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Good – There is a genuinely good martial arts scene in the middle of this film. So good, in fact, that I’m fairly convinced that Donnie Yen choreographed it. This isn’t the worst of the bunch, surprisingly. Luckily I brushed up on the lore from the television series so I didn’t have too much trouble following what was actually an impossible to follow plot. And Lambert and even Adrian Paul I think were quite good, or at least, it wouldn’t have really felt like a Highlander film without them. Best Bit: That one fight scene.

The Bad – The madmen did it, they made a movie that was the fourth in a franchise, but also the direct sequel to a six season syndicated television series, and then they released it to 1500 theaters. How is such a thing possible? What were they doing in the 90s where they thought releasing a sequel to a television show to kick off another television show required a theatrical release. Bananas. As a theatrical film it looks bad, it is directed poorly, most of the actors are bad, most of the fight scenes are bad, and the whole thing makes no sense unless you had happened to watch the television show. What the hell is happening?! That’s some wild stuff. Fatal Flaw: Six seasons of television as required viewing for a sequel to an 80s film …

The BMT – In many ways this film is legendary. A late sequel to a series we’ve done in three parts to finish it off. It is maybe the only direct sequel to a television series where you have to watch the show first or else it makes no sense. Martial arts, and Christopher Lambert, and quickenings. The whole thing is just a wild ride while also impossible to recommend. How do you tell someone “man, if you think about just how weird it is that the television show is required to watch this movie … then you’ll get it.” Hard sell. Did it meet my expectations? I think it exceeded them in every way. And after all that you want to hear a wild thing? I kind of dug the film! Or at least I liked it better than the third, and it is more well put together than the second. Really weird.

Roast-radamus – A for real deal Secret Holiday Film (When?) because the climax of this film is set during Christmas in maybe the best way possible! There is an extremely quick moment where a guy is going to interfere with the immortals, and you can see Christmas decorations in the background, and then another guy shoots him and is like “Merry Christmas”!!!!!!! Great stuff. Highlanders are always good for a MacGuffin (Why?) because you know they all are looking for the sweet Quickening. And also a genuine Worst Twist (How?) for Conner sacrificing himself to Duncan to give him a level up Quickening right before his super Kell Quickening at the end. Duncan is a super Highlander now I think. Definitely right in there for BMT, it is a highly amusing film.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – I don’t think you necessarily need to remake anything, it would be more like a retcon to fix the lore (I do love lore). But let’s call it a Remake for clarity. I think the first film is perfect, even though it makes it a bit more complicated. MacLeod versus the Kurgan to become the last Immortal. But here’s the twist. He’s won the game, and the final quickening happens, and then … the game starts anew with MacLeod as an Immortal outside of the game, a new batch of Immortals born into the world. Being outside of the game he founds The Watchers, an organization which observes and reports on the happenings of the game to gently help good Immortals (like Duncan, whom Conner takes under his wing as an apprentice), hoping to prevent another Kurgan from gaining the ultimate immortality. Eventually, as the game cycles, new Immortals win the game (Duncan being the second), until a final film where a fourth is set to join and it is revealed (much to our heroes’ chagrin) that they are, in fact, the four horsemen of the apocalypse, and that is the point of the game, to mark the end of the Earth. So it becomes a race to prevent the completion of the last game. There must be two! The end. Tight stuff, I’m open to discussing the option terms Netflix.

You Just Got Schooled – Lots of good stuff here as well. First, the film was supposed to tie in heavily with Highlander: The Raven which was running in 1998-1999 when the film would have at least been in pre-production (but it was then canceled). I did watch the pilot called Reborn. Have to say … kind of okay, better than I remember the original series being, which I think makes sense, one was a syndicated show from 1992 and the other from 1998. This was cheesy, but mostly seemed like it was going to be a procedural cop show involving Immortals and all that jazz which is a pretty cool idea actually. I’m going to give it a B-, entertaining for a syndicated show from the 90s.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Highlander: Endgame Quiz

Oh boy, so here’s the thing. I’m an immortal and I’m just chopping off heads and quickening and stuff all the time. Like, I quickened maybe twice last week (not to brag). Anyways, I was fighting this guy and do you know what he does, he hits me right in the head! I chopped his head off, but also sustained a severe concussion and now can’t remember a thing. Do you remember what happened in Highlander: Endgame?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) In the beginning of the film Conner MacLeod’s daughter is murdered most foul. How is she killed?

2) Why does Jacon Kell want to Kill Conner MacLeod … well beyond that there can only be one?

3) What is the purpose of the Sanctuary which is run by rogue watchers?

4) How does an Immortal become immortal?

5) Why does Conner let Duncan kill him (basically forces him to)?

Bonus Question: I do love relationship questions. So how long do Kate and Duncan version 2.0 stay together?

Answers

Highlander: Endgame Preview

Having woken from their slumber, Jamie and Patrick rush to the computer. The internet is poppin’ and full of newly minted reviews for The FMV Rich & Poe: The Music Video Game VR Experience: Legends Never Die starring Jason Derulo. They hold their collective breaths and sigh in relief as they gather the consensus: it’s a smash. “This ironic twist on the tragedy that was the monster cat themed previous entry in the Rich & Poe saga certainly has this reviewer singing a different tune when thinking about the latest entry. While definitely not canon, no matter how much the creators insist, we welcome even more ironic sendups of these beloved characters we had thought wore out their welcome.” Jamie and Patrick predator high five, tears shimmering in their eyes. But wait, what’s this other chatter burning up the R&P message boards? “Release Date Postponed!” it screams and Jamie and Patrick’s shoulders slump. All this work on the hype machine and their cyborg nemeses got ahead of it. “The end of August,” Patrick says in despair, “classic dump month.” Jamie slams closed the internet window and falls heavily into a chair. “What do we do now? We can’t just keep pumping out FMV gold!” But Patrick’s mind is already turning. If the FMV game isn’t canon, then maybe only films are… and if only films are then… “Preemptive sequel,” he mutters and Jamie sits up straight in his chair. They’ll turn the new movie into a prequel and show that Rich and Poe never died. If their film is bad, Rich and Poe survive. If it’s gold, like usual, they keep the hype machine going. “So we have a plan. Now we just need an endgame,” Patrick says cryptically, leaning on the entirely useless box that’s not even worth mentioning. That’s right! We’re taking the final (?) baby step on the journey of finishing Highlander with the fourth entry in the series, Highlander: Endgame. With a title like that you are assured it’s the last Highlander ever released (hint: this is not true). Or at least the last one you’ll have to watch for BMT (now that is true). Let’s go!

Highlander: Endgame (2000) – BMeTric: 64.3; Notability: 34

StreetCreditReport.com – BMeTric: top 3.6%; Notability: top 46.0%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 7.2% Higher BMeT: Battlefield Earth, Dungeons & Dragons, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, Urban Legends: Final Cut, 102 Dalmatians; Higher Notability: Little Nicky, Gone in Sixty Seconds, The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, Coyote Ugly, Mission to Mars, Ready to Rumble, Lost Souls, Proof of Life, 102 Dalmatians, Thomas and the Magic Railroad, Reindeer Games, Rules of Engagement, Bless the Child, Hollow Man, Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, Isn’t She Great, Final Destination, Pay It Forward, Supernova, Dude, Where’s My Car?, and 25 more; Lower RT: The in Crowd, Battlefield Earth, Bless the Child, Lost Souls, Turn It Up, Circus, The Skulls, Urban Legends: Final Cut, Dungeons & Dragons, Supernova, I Dreamed of Africa, Ed Gein, Screwed, The Ladies’ Man, The Watcher; Notes: Loving the sup-5.0 on IMDb, that is obviously a huge number. It is astonishing that Highlander IV is above 30 Notability. At this point it was borderline straight-to-video and they were still pumping money into it, just amazing.

Leonard Maltin – BOMB – Tedious sequel in which 500-year-old Lambert goes up against fellow immortal Payne, a vengeance-seeking, power-hungry rogue. Also involved is Lambert’s clan brother (Paul, from the TV series). Of interest only to die-hard series fans.

(Another BOMB?! We are racking them up now. Of interest only to die-hard Highlander fans … great, so this movie was made for us.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7mqpGNx8FI/

(Basically this is Highlander: The Series: The Movie!!! The television show is terrible, and this looks just as terrible. And then they bust out what appears to be the Hackers soundtrack at the end? Just incredible. Looks like nonsense.)

Directors – Douglas Aarniokoski – (Known For: Nurse; The Day; BMT: Highlander: Endgame; Notes: He wrote the fourth and fifth Puppet Master films, and currently he produces a ton of television (including Star Trek: Picard). Was previously married to producer Suzanne Todd.)

Writers – Gregory Widen (characters) – (Known For: Highlander; Backdraft; The Prophecy; OtherLife; BMT: Highlander II: The Quickening; Highlander III: The Sorcerer; Highlander: Endgame; Notes: Wrote the sequel to Backdraft as well. He wrote the original Highlander while in school. Still writing, he’s attached to an upcoming film called Yasuke.)

Eric Bernt (story) – (Known For: The Echo; Future BMT: The Hitcher; Virtuosity; Surviving the Game; BMT: Highlander: Endgame; Romeo Must Die; Notes: Was a writer and producer on the television show Z Nation in the mid-2010s.)

Gillian Horvath (story) – (Known For: On the Other Hand, Death; BMT: Highlander: Endgame; Notes: Was a creative consultant on the Highlander television. She seems to have been a freelance sci-fi writer for a ton of shows including Xena.)

William N. Panzer (story) (as Bill Panzer) – (Known For: Steel; BMT: Highlander II: The Quickening; Highlander III: The Sorcerer; Highlander: Endgame; Notes: Was the original producer of the series and has been executive producer on basically all of the Highlander stuff forever. Has a story credit on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th films.)

Joel Soisson (screenplay) – (Known For: Piranha 3DD; Cam2Cam; Trick or Treat; Children of the Corn: Genesis; Blue Tiger; The Supernaturals; Pulse 2: Afterlife; Pulse 3; Hambone and Hillie; BMT: Dracula 2001; Highlander: Endgame; Notes: Has written dozens of films, mostly straight-to-video horror sequels, has directed a number of films, and was a producer on Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Clearly very involved in moviemaking.)

Actors – Christopher Lambert – (Known For: Highlander; Beowulf; Hail, Caesar!; Southland Tales; Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes; Kickboxer: Retaliation; Sobibor; Subway; Bel Canto; White Material; Resurrection; The Sicilian; Knight Moves; Nirvana; Fortress 2; Un + une; 10 Days in a Madhouse; Why Me?; Vercingétorix; Future BMT: Fortress; Gunmen; Loaded Weapon 1; The Hunted; BMT: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance; Highlander II: The Quickening; Highlander III: The Sorcerer; Highlander: Endgame; Mortal Kombat; Notes: By all accounts and incredibly nice person. Apparently he has a puppet on the satirical French show Les Guignols de l’info.)

Adrian Paul – (Known For: Love Potion No. 9; Black Rose; Susan’s Plan; Outpost 37; Merlin: The Return; Apocalypse Pompeii; Last Rites; The Heavy; Nine Miles Down; Eyeborgs; The Breed; Dikaya liga; Kids vs Monsters; War of the Worlds: Goliath; Nemesis Game; Seance; Moscow Heat; Masque of the Red Death; Throttle; Code Hunter; BMT: Highlander: Endgame; Notes: Has become involved in a few different production companies and also has written several scripts (although from what I can tell they weren’t produced, or he wasn’t ultimately credited on them). Started as a dancer and appeared in a few music videos in the 80s.)

Bruce Payne – (Known For: The Keep; Necronomicon; Absolute Beginners; Sweepers; Creators: The Past; For Queen & Country; Vendetta; One Point O; Steal; Prowl; One Tough Bastard; Ripper; Re-Kill; Pyrates; The Rizen; Brothel; Breakdown; Age of Kill; The Fruit Machine; Privates on Parade; Future BMT: Passenger 57; Switch; BMT: Dungeons & Dragons; Getaway; Highlander: Endgame; Notes: Apparently was considered for the lead role in Burton’s Batman, which usually I wouldn’t mention, but he would have played Bruce Wayne … and his name is Bruce Payne. That’s crazy.)

Budget/Gross – $25,000,000 / Domestic: $12,811,858 (Worldwide: $15,843,608)

(No, that is no good. Something tells me this film did not, in fact, cost $25 million to make though. Although, then again, maybe that is why the sequel went straight-to-video. It is pretty unbelievable this ended up in thousands of theaters in the first place.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 11% (6/54): The fourth and supposedly last Highlander movie is a confusing mess, complete with bad acting and dialogue.

(So, I guess at the time maybe they were claiming this was going to be the conclusion to the franchise? Didn’t happen, they made a fifth which apparently is worse than even the second one! Reviewer Highlight: Highlander: Endgame looks sensational, moves like lightning. But its script (by Joel Soisson) makes no pretense about being logical or even comprehensible. – Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times)

Poster – Highlander 4: Found Another Highlander

(Hmmmm, this does the job. The framing and stuff is good and the big ol’ sword is fun. Got a slight highlander font to boot. Not bad. B.)

Tagline(s) – It will take two immortals to defeat the ultimate evil. But in the end, there can be only one. (D)

(You literally keep saying that but it hasn’t been true yet. The highlander doth protest too much and we are three entries past the point where they should have just rewritten the lore. It should just be that a bunch of highlanders crop up periodically to fight evil that threatens the Earth. Once the evil is gone the highlanders compete to be the only one left for the centuries between the next evil. Is that so hard? Anyway this is trash and it’s too long. I hate it, but it is comprehensible so not the worst.)

Keyword – immortality

Top 10: Wonder Woman 1984 (1984), Suicide Squad (2016), The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011), Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001), Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 (2017), Death Becomes Her (1992), Deadpool 2 (2018), Deadpool (2016)

Future BMT: 89.4 Vampires Suck (2010), 89.1 House of the Dead (2003), 72.2 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (2011), 71.1 The Spirit (2008), 61.9 The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008), 52.0 Green Lantern (2011), 51.1 Dylan Dog: Dead of Night (2010), 50.0 The Sin Eater (2003), 44.0 Fred Claus (2007), 42.2 Pan (2015);

BMT: Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997), Gods of Egypt (2016), X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), The Mummy (2017), Hellboy (2019), Jupiter Ascending (2015), Dragonball Evolution (2009), The Last Witch Hunter (2015), Queen of the Damned (2002), Dracula 2001 (2000), I, Frankenstein (2014), Highlander II: The Quickening (1991), Bulletproof Monk (2003), The Medallion (2003), The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising (2007), Highlander: Endgame (2000), Highlander III: The Sorcerer (1994)

(Lots of vampire stuff here. Humans really fear death huh? Look at all these things which posit the consequences of a lack of mortality. Anyways, The Spirit is a giant piece of garbage, I’ve seen like thirty minutes before and it is astonishingly bad, so I can’t wait to see that one in full.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 14) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Christopher Lambert is No. 1 billed in Highlander: Endgame and No. 1 billed in Mortal Kombat, which also stars Robin Shou (No. 2 billed) who is in Street Fighter: Legend of Chun Li (No. 6 billed), which also stars Chris Klein (No. 2 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 2 billed) => 1 + 1 + 2 + 6 + 2 + 2 = 14. If we were to watch Passenger 57, Murder at 1600, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 12.

Notes – The film’s trailer contained many sequences and elements not in the film, including scenes suggesting that the villain Jacob Kell possessed supernatural abilities, and a scene showing Connor and Duncan leaping through a “magical portal.” It was later revealed that certain scenes were shot exclusively for the trailer, to make the film look more interesting.

The original trailer featured Connor MacLeod splitting Jacob Kell in two with his sword and becoming two people. This never happened in the film.

Billy Idol and Jean-Claude Van Damme were both considered for the role of Jacob Kell.

As Duncan travels toward his rendezvous with Connor, there is a shot of his vehicle passing Silvercup Studios, the scene of the final battle between Connor and Kurgan in the original Highlander.

The interior of the Sanctuary was an abandoned salt mine 200 yards underground in Romania. The only access was a single elevator, and the crew had to be transported down a few at a time.

The film was intended as a bridge between Highlander (1992) and Highlander: The Raven (1998). The TV series was cancelled, and cast availability problems caused production delays. Dimension Films soon realized that their plans for the film were not going to meet expectations, and scaled back on its release.

Other titles at various stages of production included “Highlander IV: The Immortals” and “Highlander: The Search for Connor”.

Connor MacLeod’s “Trophy Room” from the first film was reconstructed in detail here, though the hardwood floor is different. The original set had a radial central floor which supported the weight of MacLeod’s old blacksmith’s anvil in the middle.

Earlier drafts of the script differed greatly from the final cut in several aspects. The character of Kate was originally named Alexis, most of the flashbacks occurred in Shanghai instead of Ireland. Methos and Duncan were living in Paris rather than London as they did in the end of the TV series. Hugh Fitzcairn and May Ling Shen were to appear in the Shanghai flashbacks.

Lucy Lawless was unable to take the role of Kate/Faith due to her commitment on the TV series Xena: Warrior Princess (1995).

Not screened for critics prior to release.

Earlier versions of the screenplay had a subplot whereby Kell would gain an unholy power when he had killed 666 immortals, and would become too strong for any immortal, or even an army of immortals, to kill. In this version Kell’s wiping out his own followers was an attempt to quickly reach that number, but he was foiled after Jin Ke took his own life before Kell could behead him, leaving him needing to kill Duncan in order to reach 666 kills. This subplot was deleted from the final version of the film, though allusions to it remain, with Kell’s kill count halfway through being 661.

Cutthroat Island Recap

Jamie

Morgan Adams is a mighty pirate cut from a different cloth. When her eeevil uncle vows to find the family treasure by any means necessary, she decides to beat him to it with the help of sexy rogue William Shaw. Can she stop her uncle, find the treasure, earn the trust of her crew (and perhaps get the guy) before it’s too late? Find out in… Cutthroat Island.

How?! Morgan Adams has quite the dastardly reputation in the Caribbean. Already a fugitive from the law, she finds herself in even more hot water when her father is captured by her evil uncle Dawg Brown. Rather than give him the secret of Cutthroat Island, her father chooses to give up his own life in exchange for giving a piece of the treasure map to Morgan. Now on the run, she gets the begrudging acceptance of her father’s crew and sets sail to Port Royal to find a translator for the map. In Port Royal, dashing rogue William Shaw has also found himself in hot water having lied and swindled ladies across the isles. Now a prisoner, Morgan buys him at auction, but not before the authorities recognize her and a major shootout ensues. Across the island they catch up with Morgan’s other uncle, but before they can get the second piece of the map Dawg appears. A fight ensues, Morgan is shot and in the chaos William is able to find and keep hidden the map piece. Shaw, who has claimed he is a doctor, treats Morgan’s wounds and perchance a romantic spark is lit. But before long Dawg is in hot pursuit and they only barely keep them at bay by navigating through dangerous seas. During the storm Morgan finds William attempting to use the map for his own devices and has him locked away, meanwhile the crew revolts and sends Morgan and her loyal crew off in a tiny liferaft. Miraculously they survive and wake up to find themselves at Cutthroat Island itself. On the island they are dismayed to find that Dawg and her former crew have teamed up and also surprised when they find that William is there and has stolen the last piece of the map from Dawg! With all the pieces in hand William and Morgan find the treasure, but are found by Dawg who forces them to jump from a cliff. William survives and is taken captive, while Morgan sneaks aboard her old ship and takes it back. A big ol’ climactic fight ensues on the high seas resulting in Dawg getting killed by a cannon and William and Morgan recovering the treasure. They then smooch and such and set out on another adventure. THE END (or is it? (it is.))

Why?! As Vinny D would say: fambly. Geena Davis comes from a family of pirates who’s patriarch (her grandfather) found and hid the family treasure on Cutthroat Island. Only the whole family could together find the treasure… you know, as long as the crazy evil one doesn’t kill all of them first. So the rest is obvious. Gotta stop that crazy evil one from ruining the fambly plan.

Who?! Renny Harlin appears in the film uncredited, which isn’t all that exciting. What is exciting is that Thor the dog appears CREDITED in the role of Pirate Dog. He had already appeared in a prior Renny Harlin film, Cliffhanger, so they must have had a good rapport. Finster appears uncredited as Morgan’s monkey, which is a travesty as the role was pretty big. He is better known for his star role as the titular monkey in Monkey Trouble.

What?! Whether you think of it as four separate MacGuffins or a single MacGuffin broken into four pieces, this is a pretty good one as the entire plot focuses around getting all the pieces together. It’s also a little unclear why the treasure was hidden in the first place. Maybe to wait out the authorities. But the family had all the pieces the entire time and never cared to get together and get it until Dawg started his own quest? It doesn’t make much sense. I found this to be a little more interesting than the thousands of props for sale online, which honestly probably ended up there because the studio sold it all off trying to make a buck.

Where?! The Caribbean and primarily Jamaica. It got me thinking about mapl.de.map. There have always been some vague parameters on what would “win” the spot on the map for a particular location. Is it how prominently the setting factors into the film or is it the grade (A+ location in title wins). This makes me think the answer is the former. Would rather have a film that best represents the location take the spot. B.

When?! I could probably write a bunch on this, but I think this might be an A film. I’ll keep it short, but they tell us explicitly that the year is 1668. Why? Because at the time Jamaica had just changed from Spanish to British rule, and let’s just say the Spanish weren’t happy about it. As a result the British, aiming to keep control of the island, supported piracy to fend off the Spanish. The island then descended into lawlessness from 1660-1670 after which a treaty was signed and the piracy was reined in. Interesting.

I certainly understand the reviews for the film. It took a big swashbuckling adventure and just filled it with explosions and were like “that’s fun, right?” The complete lack of humor is glaring considering that was a big part of what made Pirates of the Caribbean such a success. They would even say lines that almost sounded like jokes, but I assure you they were not. Just kinda bland explosions most of the time. All that being said, it was still a rollicking adventure if that’s simply all that you were looking for. It also took some shots for the gender reversal with Morgan as swashbuckling captain and Shaw as gentleman in distress, but I actually thought that was deftly done. Matthew Modine plays the pretty boy liar who slithers his way out of trouble with his smile well and Geena Davis was very winning. So I disagree with that. Overall some good and bad things and not the total disaster I maybe would have thought given the reputation it earned at the box office. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Well, shiver me timbers. It is time to raise the Jolly Roger and ogle that 90’s heartthrob … Matthew Modine? Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – One of the most notorious box office bombs in history. All of the reviews seem to suggest it is … good? It does seem odd that swashbuckling adventures just were terrible in the 90s, so bad, in fact, that people thought pirate films were just done until Disney breathed new life into it half a decade later. What were my expectations? A good movie I guess. Which I don’t often say. It seemed plausible that the movie was actually pretty good, but it was just a box office catastrophe never seen before.

The Good – So … I wouldn’t call the movie good, which I’ll get to. But Geena Davis was solid, and the film is, indeed, a pretty fun adventure film. Like something like The Three Musketeers (the 90s one) maybe. The main set peces of Port Royal, the bar in Spittlefield, and the final naval battle are all incredible as well. You can definitely see where most of the money went in this financial disaster. And if you watched Masters of the Universe and thought “Man, I wish Frank Langella was allowed to really go over the top, he’s so restrained as Skeletor!”, well, then this is the movie for you. Best Bit: The set pieces.

The Bad – Unfortunately the action looks like absolute garbage. I might be being a bit harsh, but like The Three Musketeers (the 90s one) there is something about 90s films where swashbuckling action looks ultra cheesy and terrible. Something about cannonballs resulting in giant Hollywood explosions just doesn’t sit right. And something about the lackluster sword fighting in this film only serves to remind me how incredible Pirates of the Caribbean really is. And unfortunately Modine constantly feels like a second or third choice for the role, no matter how much good effort he puts in. Fatal Flaw: Bad action for how much money it costs.

The BMT – I don’t know … I kind of dug this movie. If you can excuse that it doesn’t look as polished as Pirates of the Caribbean and the action is kind of lame even compared to other swashbucklers from arond the same time, then there is a pretty entertaining pirate story sitting in there. And Geena Davis and Frank Langella are a solid good/bad team. Did it meet my expectations? Yeah, for the most part. I would have thought the movie would look better, but I can excuse that to get my swashbuckler on.

Roast-radamus – There is a halfway decent Planchet (Who?) for Captain Trotter who Ainslee just dunks on the entire film for being a dummy. Obviously a fantastic Setting as a Character (Where?) for Jamaica which, oddly, this film is rarely mentioned as being set there, but a good 50% of the film is very much explicitly in various parts of Jamaica. And then a solid MacGuffin (Why?) for the secret three part treasure map of Cutthroat Island, which isn’t on any maps! This film is very much closest to Good despite looking like garbage and having garbage action because, honestly, who hates a swashbuckling adventure story?

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – The obvious one is Sequel since they tease a sequel at the end of the film. Flashforward a few decades and Morgan Adams and William Shaw are married and ruling the roost in Madagascar as pirates extraordinaire! Suddenly, who shows up but their old enemy Dawg’s former first mate, uh … Pound Grisham (Dawg & Pound, get it? That’s the prequel I’m setting up). And who does he have as a prisoner, but Mordachai’s grandson, William Adams. Pound wants Morgan to help him to sail across the Indian Ocean and attack the great eastern pirate stronghold of … let’s go with Gao. Little does she know that this is all a ruse set up by William and Pound to attack her Madagascar fortress himself as her back is turned. Racing back to Madagascar things are bleak as it looks to be too late, but who is coming around the corner but Bowen (Christopher Masterson), and Mr. Glasspool, and all the other Caribbean pirates who now have their own crews. In the final battle blood proves thicker than gold (it makes sense, don’t think about it) and William switches sides to defeat Pound and save Morgan and Shaw’s skins. Looking to the half dozen pirate empires that rallied to her aid, Morgan openly wonders if there is any place that could stand in their way … could she, for example, rule Jamaica like Dawg once hoped? Smash cut to To Be Continued … Cutthroat Island: Escape 2 Africa. After would be Dawg & Pound: Tales from Cutthroat Island. And the third is Cutthroat Island: Black Harry’s Revenge.

You Just Got Schooled – This week’s film had another video game tie-in! Cutthroat Island for the SNES is a pretty basic brawler (think Final Fight) with a notoriously bad minecart level as level number 2. I played about an hour of this, but decided I should probably return to it after playing some brawlers. I never liked brawlers as I never had the patience to “solve” how to beat all of the different characters and things just devolved into button mashing. With this game that definitely happened, although I did eventually get to the point where I was able to get through levels 1 and 2 quite consistently. With only 10 levels there is a possibility I’ll finish this game sometime in the future. For now though I’ll have to give it a D. It is bad for a brawler, and apparently (who can tell these days) looks like garbage even for an SNES game of the time. I’ll get back to you about whether I’ve finished it sometime in the next decade.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Cutthroat Island Quiz

Man, wild story. I was looking for buried treasure on an uncharted Caribbean island, when I fell off a cliff and really bonked my head when I hit the water. I don’t remember a thing. Do you remember what happened in Cutthroat Island?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) Where was the final piece of the treasure map hidden at the beginning of the film? Who has the other two pieces? 

2) What profession does Shaw, played by Matthew Modine, claim to be at the party where he is arrested for theft? Why do the pirates, led by Morgan Adams, break him free?

3) Where did Morgan’s uncle hide the second piece of the map?

4) How do they ultimately get the third piece of the map, the one Dawg carries around throughout the film?

5) Where is the treasure hidden on Cutthroat Island?

Bonus Question: What ultimately happened to Cutthroat Island?

Answers

Cutthroat Island Preview

“It’s gonna be a hell of a lot of work, I mean,” Patrick clarifies as he starts in on a pretty sweet boolean array. Jamie’s head is spinning. “Rabbit. Flu shot. Somebody talk to me,” he exclaims in exasperation. The coding jargon Patrick is throwing around is more suited to a haxxor than little ol’ Jamie. Rachel pats him on the shoulder and suggests that he just work on the rocking tune. No need to say more as Jamie whips out his harmonica, gives it a quick toot, and begins to warm up his angelic voice with a series of complicated and largely unnecessary vocal exercises. The scene is electric. Patrick on one side, his eyes glazing over like dolls eyes as he spits hot fire on the k’board. Jamie on the other, a VR headset strapped to his head and he composes in 3D-4K. “It’s a game about a couple of underdogs who come from behind to save the universe,” Patrick says, coding in their gritty origin story. “Yeah, underdogs with abs for days and it opens with the titular song, Starring Jason Derulo: Just a couple of jokesters living in the bayou making ends meet busking on the street, starring Jason Derulo. Brothers in arms, armed to the teeth, justice and truth are all that they seek, starring Jason Derulo,” Jamie croons, tears in his eyes. “Nice half rhyme,” comments Patrick as his code springs to life. Patrick is in the zone, guided by the lyrical picture that Jamie has painted about the legendary lives of Rich & Poe (who definitely didn’t die). He waves Jamie away. “Go down the street to the local pirate radio stations and start getting some underground buzz going for this game. I got some 1337 coding to do.” Jamie shrugs, “shiver me timbers.” That’s right! We’re watching the notable box office bomb, Cutthroat Island, which had a tie-in video game that was critically panned. It barely qualifies for BMT, but it doesn’t feel that way as the production was such a disaster that a studio collapsed. Should be fun. Let’s go!

Cutthroat Island (1995) – BMeTric: 38.7; Notability: 72

StreetCreditReport.com – BMeTric: top 12.0%; Notability: top 4.4%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 33.5% Higher BMeT: Showgirls, Vampire in Brooklyn, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, Batman Forever, Congo, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, Tank Girl, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, The Babysitter, Judge Dredd, Nine Months, A Kid in King Arthur’s Court, Operation Dumbo Drop, Jade, The Scarlet Letter, Johnny Mnemonic, Man of the House, Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh, Virtuosity, Money Train, and 1 more; Higher Notability: Batman Forever, Congo; Lower RT: A Kid in King Arthur’s Court, It Takes Two, The Hunted, The Tie That Binds, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, The Pebble and the Penguin, Bushwhacked, Johnny Mnemonic, Vampire in Brooklyn, The Scarlet Letter, Four Rooms, Three Wishes, Jade, Canadian Bacon, Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde, Houseguest, Man of the House, Reckless, Rough Magic, Two Much and 42 more; Notes: A higher BMeTric than I would have thought considering it is mostly known for being a giant flop as opposed to an actual bad movie. Hugh Notability again! I do love hitting up those Notability films. We’ve seen the other higher ones from 1995 as well it looks like.

RogerEbert.com – 3.0 stars – This is, in short, a satisfactory movie – but it doesn’t transcend its genre, and it’s not surprising or astonishing. I saw it because that was my job and, having seen it, I grant its skill, and award it three stars on that basis. But unless you’re really into pirate movies, it’s not a necessary film. Sorry.

(An incredible score from Ebert, coming off the top rope. So let me get this straight … if I like swashbuckling adventure then I’ll like this film. Alright then … it sounds like a good movie.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IV5JD490ZL4

(Oh boy, the 1812 Overture is something else in that trailer. What a very very strange choice. It comes across as cartoonish and cliche, right? Even the trailer looks cheap as far as swashbuckling action is concerned. I guess that’s to be expected when your production company is teetering on bankruptcy.)

Directors – Renny Harlin – (Known For: Cliffhanger; Die Hard 2; Deep Blue Sea; The Long Kiss Goodnight; A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master; The Dyatlov Pass Incident; Cleaner; Skiptrace; Prison; 5 Days of War; Bodies at Rest; Gu jian qi tan zhi liu yue zhao ming; Future BMT: Exorcist: The Beginning; 12 Rounds; Mindhunters; The Adventures of Ford Fairlane; BMT: The Legend of Hercules; Driven; The Covenant; Cutthroat Island; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Director in 1991 for The Adventures of Ford Fairlane; in 1996 for Cutthroat Island; in 2002 for Driven; in 2005 for Exorcist: The Beginning; and in 2015 for The Legend of Hercules; Notes: Just inducted his film The Legend of Hercules into the BMT Hall of Fame. Has an extramarital affair with his assistant which resulted in his son Luke and subsequent divorce.)

Writers – Michael Frost Beckner (story) – (Known For: Spy Game; Sniper: Ultimate Kill; Prince Valiant; Future BMT: Sniper; BMT: Cutthroat Island; Notes: Only gets credited for the many straight-to-video Sniper sequels as far as films are concerned, but does some television work, most recently the mini-series To Appomattox.)

James Gorman (story) – (BMT: Cutthroat Island; Notes: Produced Sniper, so I would guess he’s a writing partner of Beckner to a degree. His only writing credit, but he produced a few things like Gunman starring Christopher Lambert and Mario Van Peebles, who would then both star in Highlander III a year later.)

Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon (story) – (Known For: Stand by Me; Starman; Mr. Brooks; Made in Heaven; A Man, a Woman and a Bank; Future BMT: Kuffs; BMT: Jungle 2 Jungle; Cutthroat Island; Notes: Nominated as a team for an Oscar for Stand by Me. They haven’t written anything since 2007.)

Robert King (screenplay) – (Known For: Vertical Limit; The Nest; Under the Boardwalk; Bloodfist; Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge; Dragon Fire; Future BMT: Speechless; Clean Slate; Red Corner; BMT: Cutthroat Island; Notes: Nominated for four Emmys for The Good Wife. His career started with cheap horror and bad martial arts films, but he has a few big budget films made in the late 90s.)

Marc Norman (screenplay) – (Known For: Shakespeare in Love; The Killer Elite; Breakout; The Aviator; Oklahoma Crude; Zandy’s Bride; BMT: Cutthroat Island; Notes: Won the Oscar for Shakespeare in Love. Wrote a single episode of the original Mission: Impossible in 1970.)

Actors – Geena Davis – (Known For: Ava; Beetlejuice; Thelma & Louise; A League of Their Own; The Long Kiss Goodnight; Tootsie; Stuart Little; Earth Girls Are Easy; When Marnie Was There; Fletch; Quick Change; Stuart Little 2; In a World…; The Accidental Tourist; Marjorie Prime; Accidental Hero; Don’t Talk to Irene; Angie; Me Him Her; Accidents Happen; Future BMT: Transylvania 6-5000; Speechless; BMT: Cutthroat Island; Notes: Was married to Renny Harlin at the time. Won an Oscar for the accidental tourist, and was nominated for Thelma & Louise. Is an Olympic level archer.)

Matthew Modine – (Known For: Wrong Turn; The Dark Knight Rises; Full Metal Jacket; Breaking News in Yuba County; Notting Hill; Sicario: Day of the Soldado; Any Given Sunday; 47 Meters Down; Vision Quest; Transporter 2; Short Cuts; Pacific Heights; Married to the Mob; Memphis Belle; Speed Kills; Backtrace; The Hotel New Hampshire; Birdy; Army of One; Foster Boy; Future BMT: The Divorce; Mrs. Soffel; Gross Anatomy; Fluke; BMT: Cutthroat Island; Jobs; Bye Bye Love; Notes: Probably most notable recently for his supporting role in Stranger Things. Both his son and daughter are in the industry. Ruby Modine in particular was in 20 episodes of Shameless. Boman modine is a director.)

Frank Langella – (Known For: The Trial of the Chicago 7; Red Dragon; Captain Fantastic; Lolita; Superman Returns; All Good Things; Noah; Unknown; The Ninth Gate; Small Soldiers; Draft Day; Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps; Muppets Most Wanted; Good Night, and Good Luck.; The Box; Frost/Nixon; Dave; 5 to 7; The Tale of Despereaux; Grace of Monaco; Future BMT: Junior; Eddie; Brainscan; 1492: Conquest of Paradise; Sweet November; BMT: Body of Evidence; Masters of the Universe; Cutthroat Island; Notes: Nominated for an Oscar for Frost/Nixon. Was a stage actor, and somewhat notable for taking some specifically weird roles, like Skeleor (in absurd makeup) in The Masters of the Universe.)

Budget/Gross – $98,000,000 / Domestic: $10,017,322 (Worldwide: $10,017,322)

(Yeah it is a notorious catastrophe. I actually think it was considered the biggest financial loss for a motion picture in history for quite a while. It managed to sink a genre (pirate films, until Pirates of the Caribbean) and a production house (Carolco Pictures).)

Rotten Tomatoes – 38% (15/40): Cutthroat Island may aspire towards the earnest thrills of classic swashbucklers, but a distinct lack of charm and stilted script make this adventure a joyless hodgepodge of the pirate genre’s flotsam and jetsam.

(I mean, I don’t really see that many pirate films so I have a district feeling I might just like this one. I can’t say I’m going to scoff at it being like “so trite, I’ve see it all before. Blah.” Because I haven’t … I’ve pretty much just seen Pirates of the Caribbean. Reviewer Highlight: In this $90m revisionist swashbuckler, we get Geena Davis doing the all-action honours, and a hotchpotch script that seems to think pirate movies are so funny in themselves the need for more humour is superfluous. – Trevor Johnston, Time Out)

Poster – Pirates of the Cutthroat Island

(I love this. I would unironically hang this on my wall… alright, there would be a bit of irony involved. But still. Font! Framing! Color scheme! Adventure galore! It’s got it all. A.)

Tagline(s) – The Course Has Been Set. There Is No Turning Back. Prepare Your Weapons. Summon Your Courage. Discover the Adventure of a Lifetime! (F)

(As usual, this travesty of a tagline is not featured on the actually good poster. You know why? Because they knew this was absolute shit and wouldn’t let it get near that poster.)

Keyword – pirate

Top 10: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), The Goonies (1985), Aquaman (2018), Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 (2017), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), The Princess Bride (1987), Hook (1991), Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), Moana (2016)

Future BMT: 66.2 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1993), 59.6 Virus (1999), 42.2 Pan (2015), 39.4 Into the Blue (2005), 39.4 Six Days Seven Nights (1998), 35.5 Playmobil: The Movie (2019), 35.3 Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008), 34.0 Robinson Crusoe (2016), 31.2 The Ice Pirates (1984), 29.8 The Pirate Movie (1982);

BMT: Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (2017), Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011), Conan the Barbarian (2011), The Expendables 3 (2014), Rambo (2008), Epic Movie (2007), Cyborg (1989), Cutthroat Island (1995), Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous (2005), Double Impact (1991)

(Nothing says pirate like Pirates of the Caribbean. I’m excited for Virus, which we are actually watching next! So that’s fun. Swashbuckling pirates to space pirates I presume.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 16) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Matthew Modine is No. 2 billed in Cutthroat Island and No. 1 billed in Bye Bye Love, which also stars Amy Brenneman (No. 5 billed) who is in 88 Minutes (No. 4 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 3 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 2 + 1 + 5 + 4 + 3 + 1 = 16. If we were to watch The Art of War, Murder at 1600, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 15.

Notes – Oliver Reed was originally cast as Mordechai Fingers. He was fired after getting in a bar fight and mooning at Geena Davis.

Matthew Modine described Oliver Reed – “I’d heard these stories about Oliver Reed I think it is all bunk. Oliver was a gentleman. Sure, he had a reputation as a man who enjoyed a drink. But only off set. His reputation as an actor is stellar. Professional. I stand by that. God rest his soul.”

Morgan Adams’s flag was flown by “Calico” Jack Rackham, one of the only Caribbean pirates to have women on his crew (Anne Bonny and Mary Read). He later turned his ship over to them.

Dawg Brown’s flag is the oldest known “Jolly Roger” flag, flown by Captain Emmanuel Wynne.

According to “The Guinness Book of Records”, this film is the biggest financial loss ever. It cost $115 million to make, and made $10 million at the box office, a loss of $105 million.

Several years later, Matthew Modine explained some of the reasons why the film’s costs spiraled out-of-control. Among other things, dozens of cases of V8 juice were shipped out to Malta, expressly for Renny Harlin and Geena Davis. An entire room of V8 was left towards the end of the shoot, so it was served to everybody. Every scene had three cameras in constant use, resulting in yards and yards of film used for every shot.

When Renny Harlin fired the chief camera operator following a dispute, more than two dozen crew members quit.

Michael Douglas originally agreed to do the film on two conditions: filming had to start immediately because he was only available for a limited time, and his character had to have the same amount of screen time as Geena Davis. Douglas eventually pulled out, claiming that Davis’s role was expanded at his character’s expense. Davis wanted to quit when Douglas did, but she was contractually obligated to finish the film. After Douglas quit, Renny Harlin was so preoccupied with trying to find a male lead that set construction and script work were done without his input. Harlin didn’t like what he saw when shooting was set to begin, leading to massive, expensive rebuilding and rewriting.

Renny Harlin is famous for pushing actors to do their own stunts whenever possible. While promoting the film, Geena Davis appeared on talk shows with clips of her doing stunts over and over (including one take where she fell out of the window too soon, rolled down the roof and under the carriage) and explained the bruises and injuries she sustained while filming. (Jesus, that botched stunt sounds terrifying)

Carolco Pictures, which financed the film, filed for bankruptcy six weeks before it reached theaters.

At the time, Renny Harlin was dating Geena Davis, who was known for light comedies. He convinced Mario Kassar to cast Davis as the lead, sure it would turn her into an action-adventure star. The couple married prior to production, and affectionately called the movie their ‘honeymoon’.

Renny Harlin spent $1 million of his own money to rewrite the script. Carolco was in so much debt that they couldn’t afford it.

Frank Langella considers Dawg to be one of his three favourite roles (the other two are Richard Nixon in Frost/Nixon (2008) and Skeletor in Masters of the Universe (1987)), because he got to not only be a pirate, but a scenery-chewing over-the-top bad guy pirate.

Carolco Pictures had finished pre-production on another mega production at the time, called ‘Crusade’, to be directed by Paul Verhoeven and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Filming was slated to begin, but the movie was canceled at the last moment, when Carolco could not finance two blockbusters at the same time. They opted to do this film, which was supposed to have been less costly, but which later went massively over budget, and put the already ailing studio further in debt. Verhoeven went on to make Showgirls (1995) instead, largely as a favor to Mario Kassar in an attempt to save Carolco from financial downfall. After both Cutthroat Island and Showgirls bombed at the box office, the studio was bankrupted, and Crusade was shelved indefinitely.

One of a number of pirate movies made between the mid 1970s and mid 1990s which were a flop at the box-office. The other films were Pirates (1987), Yellowbeard (1983), Scarlet Buccaneer (1976), Savage Islands (1983), The Pirate Movie (1982). (None of those are big films. The actual closest to a big budget Pirate film in the 80s/90s is probably Hook)

Awards – Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Director (Renny Harlin, 1996)

Stone Cold Preview

Brief note before we start: This year we got together our fifth (!) class to be inducted into the Smaddies Baddies BMT Hall of Fame. At the time these films are inducted it will be officially 10 years since we started BMT! That’s absurd. But as is typical there will be films we watch five years ago which maybe deserve to be considered the merde de la merde of BMT delight. The previews and speeches will be released leading up to the eighth (tenth?) Smaddies Baddies for the five films ultimately chosen. Some might say the purpose of watching all genres and sizes of movie is to find another Here On Earth, the perfect BMT film. But wait, this is going in the Hall of Fame? Maybe, it’s going head to head with another film for the final spot in this year’s class. That preview will follow. Enjoy!

Stone Cold (1991) – BMeTric: 21.8; Notability: 35 

StreetCreditReport.com – BMeTric: top 27.6%; Notability: top 31.2%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 21.1% Higher BMeT: Cool as Ice, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, Problem Child 2, Child’s Play 3, Suburban Commando, Nothing But Trouble, Mannequin: On the Move, Kickboxer 2: The Road Back, King Ralph, Double Impact, Zandalee, Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time, Hudson Hawk, V.I. Warshawski, House Party 2, The Butcher’s Wife, Curly Sue, Scenes from a Mall, Drop Dead Fred, Ernest Scared Stupid, and 21 more; Higher Notability: Hook, Hudson Hawk, Mobsters, Switch, Flight of the Intruder, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, Life Stinks, The Five Heartbeats, Necessary Roughness, He Said, She Said, The Marrying Man, Oscar, Out for Justice, Rock-A-Doodle, Billy Bathgate, Teen Agent, Driving Me Crazy, F/X2, Another You, King Ralph, and 12 more; Lower RT: Nothing But Trouble, Cool as Ice, Mobsters, Problem Child 2, Drop Dead Fred, Pure Luck, The Marrying Man, Strictly Business, Another You, Oscar, The Hitman, Mannequin: On the Move, Curly Sue, Driving Me Crazy, One Good Cop, Suburban Commando, Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time, Ernest Scared Stupid, Life Stinks, Eve of Destruction and 11 more; Notes: It jumping to 6.0 is pretty weird. Overall, kind of middling on all counts, but that I think it is inevitable with smaller films from the 80s and early 90s. And this … is a small film.

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars –  Football’s “Boz” infiltrates a gang of Mississippi bikers whose extortion antics have caught the attention of both the Feds and the Mob. Only some amazing stunts save this silliness from the BOMB scrap heap. Written and executive produced by Walter Doniger, who once directed Mantle and Maris in Safe at Home!

(Good to hear about the stunts. Maybe a bit foreboding that they don’t specifically call out the Boz for his acting. It means they either didn’t give him enough to do to embarass himself, or he is just so blandly boring it wasn’t notable.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bNfag1hosI/

(Oh my God … how is this a real trailer? It is the most 90s and worst thing I’ve ever seen. This is for a widely released film, correct? Not for a straight-to-DVD Billy Drago film? Absurd.)

Directors – Craig R. Baxley – (Future BMT: Action Jackson; Dark Angel; BMT: Stone Cold; Notes: A legendary stunt coordinator, and part of the three generation Baxley stunt coordinator family. His grandson is a stunt performer, so it is very possible they will be a four generation stunt family, coordinating stunts for over 70 years.)

Writers – Walter Doniger (written by) – (BMT: Stone Cold; Notes: Nominated for a Golden Globe in 1949 for Rope of Sand. Worked for Universal in the 40s and made U.S. Army films during the war. Directed 173 episodes of Peyton Place.)

Actors – Brian Bosworth – (Known For: What Men Want; Three Kings; Future BMT: The Longest Yard; Do You Believe?; BMT: Stone Cold; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst New Star for Stone Cold in 1992; Notes: Was a huge college football star and is considered to be somewhat of a bust in the NFL playing for Seattle. Maybe most notable for being trucked by Bo Jackson in a high profile game.)

Lance Henriksen – (Known For: Aliens; The Terminator; The Quick and the Dead; Falling; Jennifer’s Body; Dog Day Afternoon; Alien³; Close Encounters of the Third Kind; Network; Tarzan; The Right Stuff; Near Dark; Hard Target; Dead Man; Powder; Mom and Dad; Jagged Edge; Appaloosa; Pumpkinhead; Omen II: Damien; Future BMT: Piranha Part Two: The Spawning; When a Stranger Calls; Harbinger Down; Scream 3; House; House III: The Horror Show; Man’s Best Friend; Phantom; Jennifer Eight; Nightmares; The Slammin’ Salmon; Excessive Force; The Next Man; Modigliani; BMT: Super Mario Bros.; Color of Night; AVP: Alien vs. Predator; Stone Cold; Notes: Just saw him in X-Files, as he plays Frank Black in the spin-off series Millenium (for which he was nominated for three Golden Globes).)

William Forsythe – (Known For: Once Upon a Time in America; The Rock; Dick Tracy; Cold Pursuit; Raising Arizona; The Devil’s Rejects; American Me; Extreme Prejudice; The Substitute; Cloak & Dagger; City by the Sea; Patty Hearst; Hell’s Kitchen; Weeds; The Waterdance; The Hollow; Palookaville; Lethal Vengeance; Future BMT: Freedomland; Virtuosity; Hard Ca$h; Halloween; Awake; Career Opportunities; Out for Justice; Blue Streak; The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag; Loosies; War on the Range; Dead Bang; Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead; The L.A. Riot Spectacular; Run with the Hunted; BMT: Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo; Firestorm; 88 Minutes; Stone Cold; Notes: Firestorm also stars an NFL player, Howie Long. You probably know him from John Doe, the Fox series starring Dominic Purcell … no, you don’t remember that series? 10PM on Fridays, absolutely killer time slot, right after Firefly.)

Budget/Gross – $25 million / Domestic: $9,151,887 (Worldwide: $9,151,887)

(Ooof, that budget can’t be right though can it? Unless the Boz was getting paid a ton. No matter how you cut it I don’t think $10 million is what they were hoping for as a return.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 33% (3/9)

(Another consensus for me: The Boz is serviceable in a rote actioner which ends up being too dumb to be fun. Reviewer Highlight: Brian Bosworth’s acting debut in Stone Cold carries about the same wallop The Boz did in the late stages of his very brief career in professional football. – Richard Harrington, Washington Post)

Poster – Frosted Tips

(First, I’ll say I like the custom font and I like the color scheme. Maybe a bit on the nose with stone/cold = blue, but I still think it works. It is advertising the film in the only way it knows how: The Boz, front and center, something about bikes. The only odd bit is the tagline is soooo small and just floating in the sky, and it looks a bit cheap. B+.)

Tagline(s) – A cop who enforces his own brand of justice. (C+)

(Generic. That describes about 100 films since the early 80s unfortunately. I don’t think it is necessarily bad, it just doesn’t do anything to add to the film itself, so it gets a medium grade.)

Keyword – undercover cop

Top 10: The Departed (2006), Bad Boys for Life (2020), Batman Begins (2005), Baby Driver (2017), BlacKkKlansman (2018), Scarface (1983), Point Break (1991), The Fast and the Furious (2001), American Gangster (2007), Sin City (2005)

Future BMT: 58.7 The Mod Squad (1999), 49.1 Showtime (2002), 46.7 Cop Out (2010), 44.7 Tomcats (2001), 42.1 Sleepless (2017), 41.6 Boiling Point (1993), 40.7 Brick Mansions (2014), 38.8 Action Jackson (1988), 37.1 Fled (1996), 36.9 Bulletproof (1996);

BMT: Fast & Furious (2009), Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000), Gangster Squad (2013), Ride Along (2014), Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (1985), Beverly Hills Cop III (1994), Exit to Eden (1994), Ride Along 2 (2016), Stone Cold (1991), Exit Wounds (2001), No Mercy (1986)

(I have to say, not super into most of the films available with this keyword. Action Jackson is maybe notable for having the same director as this film though. He certainly had a type.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 12) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: William Forsythe is No. 3 billed in Stone Cold and No. 5 billed in 88 Minutes, which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 3 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 3 + 5 + 3 + 1 = 12. There is no shorter path at the moment.

Notes – Michael Douglas was executive producer of the film but received no credit, according to his wishes.

Brian Bosworth has said in an interview that as a keen biker, he had previously built the bike that his character rides in the film and suggested that it be used instead, since he was more comfortable with it.

Lance Henriksen wrote his own lines for every scene.

In a Q&A with the audience after a special screening of the film in Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse in 2014, Brian Bosworth talked about how original director Bruce Malmuth was fired due to some “personal issues that he couldn’t control which poured out on set”, and his firing caused all the original backstory for Bosworth’s character to be removed and changed after Craig R. Baxley was hired to direct. About four weeks was spent filming scenes with Bosworth’s character and his family (wife, child and sister), which in the end were completely axed out after $4 million was spent shooting them.

The meal Brian Bosworth makes for his Nile monitor (the big lizard) is not at all suitable for that animal.

Shooting began June 4, 1990. Craig R. Baxley replaced Bruce Malmuth as director in late June 1990. Production was halted due to an IATSE dispute, resulting in the departure of director of photography John R. Leonetti and other IATSE members of the crew. Completed shooting September 26, 1990. (IASTE = International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees)

Chains states, “God forgives, The Brotherhood doesn’t.” This is based on the slogan of The Outlaws Motorcycle Club, an actual outlaw motorcycle club.

The United States Military Academy’s Army football team had adopted GFBD as a team slogan for many years, players having first heard it in this film. The Academy officially removed the slogan in 2019 after learning that the phrase originated with the Aryan Brotherhood.

Awards – Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst New Star (Brian Bosworth, 1992)

The Legend of Hercules Preview

Brief note before we start: This year we got together our fifth (!) class to be inducted into the Smaddies Baddies BMT Hall of Fame. At the time these films are inducted it will be officially 10 years since we started BMT! That’s absurd. But as is typical there will be films we watch five years ago which maybe deserve to be considered the merde de la merde of BMT delight. The previews and speeches will be released leading up to the eighth (tenth?) Smaddies Baddies for the five films ultimately chosen. Some might say the purpose of watching all genres and sizes of movie is to find another Here On Earth, the perfect BMT film. Well, nothing says “I’m a producer and I have no idea what I’m doing” like making a film starring Kellen Lutz. Enjoy!

The Legend of Hercules (2014) – BMeTric: 83.1; Notability: 33 

StreetCreditReport.com – BMeTric: top 0.4%; Notability: top 38.8%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 0.4% Higher BMeT: Left Behind; Higher Notability: Transformers: Age of Extinction, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Exodus: Gods and Kings, A Million Ways to Die in the West, Dracula Untold, Transcendence, Think Like a Man Too, Dumb and Dumber To, Annie, The Monuments Men, A New York Winter’s Tale, Horrible Bosses 2, Ride Along, The Expendables 3, Need for Speed, Men, Women & Children, Walk of Shame, Lessons in Love, Vampire Academy, Blended, and 6 more; Lower RT: Left Behind; Notes: Absurdly low IMDb rating for that number of votes. It is crazy that anything beat it at all, congrats to Let Behind I guess. This is definitely in that same small-but-terrible camp that seems to just churn out Hall of Fame films in the mid-2010s.

RogerEbert.com – 1.5 stars – It may or may not be a good thing that summer will bring a second attempt at reviving Hercules on the big screen with Dwayne Johnson in the lead and directed by Brett Ratner. But with the bar set this low, surely the performer formerly known as The Rock doesn’t have to strain himself too hard to pump up the entertainment value.

(It is pretty funny that both of these movies came out, and both were bad. Shockingly the one with The Rock isn’t even close to good, and thus it has been completely forgotten. The complete catastrophe that is this film didn’t really help with that.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0GMzQwO2l0/

(Holy crap, this looks like such a load of crap. I … just don’t understand. They really don’t make films like this anymore. Hell, they barely made films like this in 2014! This feels like a movie some guy who got rich buying up real estate in 2007 would make before going bankrupt.)

Directors – Renny Harlin – (Known For: Die Hard 2; Deep Blue Sea; The Long Kiss Goodnight; Cliffhanger; The Dyatlov Pass Incident; A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master; Prison; Bodies at Rest; Future BMT: Exorcist: The Beginning; 12 Rounds; Cutthroat Island; 5 Days of War; Skiptrace; Cleaner; Mindhunters; The Adventures of Ford Fairlane; BMT: The Legend of Hercules; Driven; The Covenant; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Director in 1991 for The Adventures of Ford Fairlane; in 1996 for Cutthroat Island; in 2002 for Driven; in 2005 for Exorcist: The Beginning; and in 2015 for The Legend of Hercules; Notes: Finnish, and is probably the most successful Finnish director in Hollywood history. Was married to Gena Davis for five years.)

Writers – Sean Hood (screenplay) – (Known For: Cube 2: Hypercube; Future BMT: Halloween: Resurrection; The Crow: Wicked Prayer; BMT: The Legend of Hercules; Conan the Barbarian; Notes: Claims to have retired from screenwriting in 2018, but has an announced television series, so perhaps it is just that he is no longer pursuing feature films.)

Daniel Giat (screenplay) – (BMT: The Legend of Hercules; Notes: Nominated for two Emmys for Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and Path to War.)

Renny Harlin (screenplay) – (Known For: Prison; BMT: The Legend of Hercules; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Director in 1991 for The Adventures of Ford Fairlane; in 1996 for Cutthroat Island; in 2002 for Driven; in 2005 for Exorcist: The Beginning; and in 2015 for The Legend of Hercules; Notes: Only wrote a few films including Born American starring Chuck Norris’s son Mike Norris.)

Giulio Steve (screenplay) – (BMT: The Legend of Hercules; Notes: A very prolific Italian producer … I have to imagine this has something to do with cheap production in Europe in some capacity.)

Actors – Kellan Lutz – (Known For: Twilight; Immortals; The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2; The Twilight Saga: Eclipse; What Men Want; Science Fiction Volume One: The Osiris Child; Experimenter; Future BMT: Prom Night; The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1; Extraction; A Nightmare on Elm Street; Tarzan; Love, Wedding, Marriage; Guardians of the Tomb; Speed Kills; Java Heat; Syrup; A Warrior’s Heart; Accepted; Stick It; As Blood Runs Deep; BMT: The Legend of Hercules; The Twilight Saga: New Moon; The Expendables 3; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actor, and Worst Screen Combo for The Legend of Hercules in 2015; Notes: Naturally started his film career as a model. He was born in North Dakota and moved to Hollywood originally to attend Chapman University to study Chemical Engineering (what what). He dropped out to pursue acting.)

Gaia Weiss – (Known For: Judy; We Are Boats; Future BMT: Overdrive; BMT: The Legend of Hercules; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actress for The Legend of Hercules in 2015; Notes: French. Originally trained as a professional ballerina.)Scott Adkins – (Known For: Zero Dark Thirty; Doctor Strange; The Bourne Ultimatum; Yip Man 4; The Expendables 2; Triple Threat; Avengement; Unleashed; Accident Man; Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning; Ninja: Shadow of a Tear; Close Range; Savage Dog; Future BMT: The Pink Panther; The Accidental Spy; Grimsby; American Assassin; Criminal; Dead Reckoning; BMT: The Legend of Hercules; The Medallion; X-Men Origins: Wolverine; Notes: Trained in Taekwondo, Kickboxing, Ninjutsu, Krav Maga, Karate, Wushu, Jiujitsu, Muay Thai, Capoeira and Acrobatic Gymnastics. Dat’s a lotta martial arts.)

Budget/Gross – $70,000,000 / Domestic: $18,848,538 (Worldwide: $61,279,452)

(Woof. Who thought a Kellen Lutz film was going to gross like $140 million dollars? In what universe was this going to ever make enough money to be worth it. It just doesn’t make any sense. Is this one of the biggest bombs of 2014?)

Rotten Tomatoes – 5% (4/83): Cheap-looking, poorly acted, and dull, The Legend of Hercules is neither fun enough to qualify as an action movie nor absorbing enough to work on a dramatic level.

(I don’t think they were ever thinking of the drama angle to this stuff. What they were hoping for was maybe Kellen Lutz mugging for the camera while rock music played .. or something. Who knows. Reviewer Highlight: The dialogue isn’t dubbed, but is written and delivered so indifferently that it might as well have been. – Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, AV Club)

Poster – The Legend of Smirk-ules

(It is definitely of the time. I personally don’t like the blue-toned “grittiness” of posters which I think were popular at the time. I think the weirdest bit of the poster is that it is just a full picture of Kellen Lutz … and yet his name isn’t on the poster. They are advertising it as essentially: Just imagine whomever you want in this role, he barely needs to even have a face to be what we want, which is a generic Hercules person. I’m giving it a C+, I think it delivers what the filmmakers wanted, but I don’t like the bland color scheme. Bumping it up for the font.)

Tagline(s) – Every man has a destiny (D)

(I actually hate it and I’ll explain why. Is Hercules a man? In this movie he might be, I can’t remember. But in the stories he’s the son of a god … so yeah, the son of a god would obviously have a destiny! I can’t think of a good one, but I would have tried to go more with the “legend” part of it, how a mortal man destined to save his people became a legend.)

Keyword – sword and sandal

Top 10: Gladiator (2000), Braveheart (1995), Aladdin (2019), 300 (2006), Troy (2004), The Beastmaster (1982), Kingdom of Heaven (2005), Immortals (2011), Legend (1985), Clash of the Titans (2010)

Future BMT: 49.7 The Last Legion (2007), 47.9 Alexander (2004), 46.9 Kull the Conqueror (1997), 45.3 A Kid in King Arthur’s Court (1995), 42.9 Hercules (1983), 42.5 Samson (2018), 41.2 Clash of the Titans (2010), 40.8 Ben-Hur (2016), 34.4 Il mondo di Yor (1983), 33.9 Immortals (2011);

BMT: Gods of Egypt (2016), Conan the Barbarian (2011), Eragon (2006), Conan the Destroyer (1984), Pompeii (2014), In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007), Red Sonja (1985), The 13th Warrior (1999), The Legend of Hercules (2014), Season of the Witch (2011), Meet the Spartans (2008)

(Every so often they try and bring these sword and sandal films back and it never quite works. I think it is because they try and make them action films. The ones that end up being good seem to hire big name actors and bring the drama to the story. The bad ones hire a Kellen Lutz who looks good without a shirt and go from there.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 24) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Kellan Lutz is No. 1 billed in The Legend of Hercules and No. 15 billed in Expendables 3, which also stars Jason Statham (No. 2 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Seige Tale (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 4 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 1 + 15 + 2 + 1 + 4 + 1 = 24. If we were to watch Immortals, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Pearl Harbor we can get the HoE Number down to 15.

Notes – Scott Adkins’s character, King Amphitryon, is seen at two different ages in the film, younger and older, and Adkins created two different looks for the character. He said he wanted to look extremely “lean and ripped” for the younger scenes, showing highly defined eight-pack abs in a shirtless scene, as compared to very “muscular and bulky” for the older scenes, where he just had to show his biceps in sleeveless costumes. He said for the younger scenes, he ate very carefully and trained a lot to achieve the ultra-cut look but for the older scenes, he trained just as hard but ate what he wanted because the focus was on size and not muscle definition, and he did not have a shirtless scene anymore. (This is a very very detailed note)

This was the second Greek mythology movie to star Kellen Lutz. The first was Immortals (2011), where Lutz portrayed Hercules’ uncle, Poseidon. (Whaaaaaaa?)

Director Renny Harlin mandated that all the male actors shave their legs along with their torsos, because the film was being shot natively in 3-D and he said that hair stuck out when you shot with stereoscopic cameras. (Whaaaaaaa?)

Director Renny Harlin said that he chose Scott Adkins for the role of King Amphitryon because of “his acting skills, his incredible physical ability and his incredible physique.” He said that King Amphitryon “had to be the biggest badass the audience had ever seen, and only Scott Adkins fit that bill.”

Kellan Lutz said his co-star Scott Adkins had the body of a god and that his physique was so great, it looked green-screened. He also said it “did not make his Hercules character look too well.”

Kellan Lutz said that because he was shirtless through much of the movie, he could constantly do push-ups and ab-crunches on set before takes without fear of sweating into his costumes and staining them. He said it allowed him to look pumped on camera, greatly enhancing his looks, and he ended up doing more than a thousand push-ups and ab-crunches every day on set for the duration of the shoot. (Jesus, these notes are just like … descriptions of gym workouts)

Due to the heavy armor worn by his character throughout the film, Johnathon Schaech was bitterly disappointed that he was unable appear shirtless in the film. He had been following a punishing bodybuilding and dieting regime to prepare for the role. (Jesus, what the hell are these notes! Was this all from a Men’s Fitness interview or something?)

Hebe, in Greek mythology, is actually the Goddess of Eternal Youth and the daughter of Zeus and Hera. Considering that Hercules is the son of Zeus, that would actually make the two love birds half-siblings.

When Kellan Lutz first landed the role, he said that physique-wise he wanted to get really big to portray Hercules. However, director Renny Harlin told him not to get any bigger as he found it very stereotypical for Hercules to be “a pile of meat.” Instead, he instructed Lutz to “get his abs to pop out more” as he thought it would be a great effect in 3-D. So Kellan Lutz adopted a special Paleo (caveman) diet for the role, ensuring that no fat accumulated on his body and that his abs visibly popped throughout principal photography. (What. The. Hell. Are. These. Notes.)

Awards – Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Picture (2015)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Kellan Lutz, 2015)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Actress (Gaia Weiss, 2015)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Director (Renny Harlin, 2015)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel (2015)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Screen Combo (Kellan Lutz, 2015)

Solo (1996) Recap

Jamie

Solo is just a robot who feels a little too much. So when his program prevents him from killing civilians as collateral damage, the US military tanks the project. But Solo escapes and makes his home in a peaceful village that needs his help. Can he protect the village and evade capture by the US before it’s too late? Find out in… Solo.

How?! Solo is the ultimate fighting machine… except for the whole part where his advanced AI system has taught itself to care about human life. ‘Dang,’ thinks the US military, ‘we can’t have this weapon caring about humans,’ so they scrap the project and set Solo up for a memory wipe. Sensing that this is the equivalent to a death sentence for him, Solo decides to escape and heads deep into the jungles of [insert anonymous Central American country]. There he finds a peaceful village who helps him get back up and running. The village is constantly terrorized by some anonymous rebels and Solo helps them learn how to defend themselves. This involves mostly montages and laughing. They successfully drive the rebels off, but this gets interest from the military. They send in an eeeevil black ops group who teams up with the rebels to overtake the village and hold Solo’s friends hostage. Returning to the village, Solo basically owns everyone cause he is a killer robot and is way faster and stronger. I mean, come on. He’s got robot muscles and junk… it’s really no competition. That is until the military drops in a new, advanced black ops killer robot and Solo is like ‘oh, shit.’ They do battle in an ancient temple where it looks like the bigger, badder robot is going to win, but they forgot one thing: love. Solo is able to use the uniquely human skills he learned from the villagers (like bluffing) to fool the eeevil android and kill him. Everyone assumes both robots died, but not so fast… methinks Solo may be out there somewhere laughing his robot ass off and loving life. THE END.

Why?! Why indeed. Solo just wants to live and to figure out what living means for him. In the book there is a lot of concern that he’ll end up basically being Skynet once he figures out that all the ills of the Earth are caused by humans so that’s why there is so much urgency to get out and kill him. It’s hinted that Solo loves amnimals and the implication is that if left to his own devices it’s actually more likely he would just become the greatest zoologist of all time because that’s his passion… which is kind of nice… until he figures out that humans are killing all the amnimals.

Who?! Probably the best aspect of the film is that the super duper badass robot they bring in after Solo kills William Sadler’s eeevil black ops character is a… William Sadler robot. First of all, not the most intimidating model of your killer robot. Second, is that a dual role I smell? Not too many films I can think of off the top of my head where someone has a dual role: one human, one robot. Nice.

What?! Is Solo a MacGuffin. That’s the question I have to ask… literally because I can’t think of anything else to do for this section. I mean, he’s an object of incredible power that everyone wants to get their hands on and his capture is central to the plot. That sure sounds like a Solo MacGuffin to me.

Where?! The book is very explicitly set in Nicaragua, but that is not made clear here. It’s definitely Mesoamerica given the spanish speaking population and the ball game that is shown being played, but given that by 1996 it no longer made sense for it to involve the Contras it seemed like they just left it ambiguous. D  

When?! Just like the location, it seems like when this is set is just an ambiguous present. The world is almost like a cartoon… there isn’t much in the way of reality to hang onto. Would have loved for them to give us a Mesoamerican specific holiday to really spice this part up. Alas. F.

Solo is based on a book called Weapon. The film follows the plot pretty closely, although the book goes much more in depth on the philosophy of what an AI machine like Solo might do when confronted with the ethical questions of war and is more of the time, being set during the  American anti-communist efforts using the Contras in Nicaragua. It started off pretty badly, but I rather enjoyed it by the end. Not a half bad beach read if you’re looking for a little techno-action. They really dumbed it down when it came to this (should have been straight-to-video) schlock. 1996 must have really been peak action if this managed to make it into theaters. You can tell a little by Seagal and JCVD. Just a mere two years later and they were in the straight-to-video realm after both releasing two (!) films in 1996. The script is bad, everything looks cheap, and they even whip out a crazy nonsense ending involving a robot William Sadler. At that point it seemed like even the director gave up. At least we had some explosions and the main character was a robot so there wasn’t an unnecessary love interest… although that would have been hilarious and great. In fact, I count that against the film. Patrick?  

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! When you think of action star, you think Mario Van Peebles. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – The thing that really stands out for Solo is that the poster absolutely looks awful. Like, comically bad. Other than that I welcome the return of Mario Van Peebles who we last saw in Highlander: The Final Dimension I think. So yeah … he isn’t a great actor, or at least he was in some wild films in the mid-90s. The film seems like a borderline straight-to-DVD knockoff of Terminator 2. That has to be fun … right? What were my expectations? Basically a straight-to-video film from the mid-90s. Which can definitely be fun, especially with someone like Mario Van Peebles in the lead. But there is an outside shot it is just boring.

The Good – This is the type of straight-to-video film I would dig watching as a BMT Friend. Big robot arm guns, ripping off the plot of Seven Samurai, poorly directed action. Like, yeah, sign me up. Feels a bit like Sudden Death with Van Damme in that regard. There is probably a kind of worthwhile message about the US military-industrial complex hidden in there (as with so many films of the 90s). And the film can be funny at times. Best Bit: Light 90s action.

The Bad – Some reviews suggest Van Peebles is okay, but I really don’t get it. He’s acting like a robot, sure, but it feels like either a play off of Arnold in The Terminator without being an enormous bodybuilder, or just a “beep boop I am a robot” schtick from a cable movie. The storyline is generic and boring, and the twists at the end are obvious. The acting (including Adrian Brody) is awful as well. It is hard to point at a single thing (the explosions maybe?) and say it was done well. This film feels like a straight-to-video film because that is what it is. They just accidentally released it to theaters for some reason. Fatal Flaw: Looks like garbage.

The BMT – In some small way this is exactly what BMT is meant to do, find those forgotten films, resurrect them, and mine them for BMT gold. There is no gold in these hills. I have no interest in watching this film again. I have no interest in recommending this film to anyone. Even trying to search for a related bad movie for the You Just Got Schooled section was basically impossible, the only possible analogues are garbage like Runaway starring Tom Selleck. Did it meet my expectations? No, sadly. Most straight-to-video films from the 90s are amusingly entertaining in some small way. There is nothing here. As I feared, the film is merely boring. Pass.

Roast-radamus – Very very borderline Setting as a Character (Where?) for … Central America I guess? There are definitely some Mayan ruins in the film. It isn’t a great setting, but it is a character. It does have a pretty great Worst Twist (How?) for the eeeevil colonel not being the final boss after all, instead a robot version of him with a gun arm is! That’s fun. The film is a BMT I think, just because of Peeble’s bizarre performance and the improbable elevative of the film above its seemingly inevitable straight-to-video quality.

Sequel, Prequel, Streaming – So after the original’s origin story for Solo I think the sequel needs to get serious. And what could be more serious in these trying times than a hard boiled Washington political drama? Solo is elected as a Senator representing Florida (which is where he settled due to his snake wrangling abilities). Our robot friend is trying to revamp a flagging VA office, but gets wrapped up in a scandal when his field reports are leaked to the press. Can Solo navigate the minefield that is modern political discourse to figure out who is trying to take him down? Find out in Solo Goes the Washington. Twist ending, the President is a robot, the ultimate military weapon: a robotic Commander in Chief, which sets up the finale to the trilogy, President Solo.

You Just Got Schooled – There wasn’t anything that popped out to me that seemed like a good Schooled movie this week. With Hall of Fame inductions coming up I think I’ll start skipping it in lieu of watching some of those during the week.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Solo (1996) Quiz

On man, so get this. I’m a robot, you see, and I decide to escape because they are going to reboot me. But then I crash my helicopter and I totally can’t remember anything! Can you remember what happened in Solo?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) What is the first mission the Solo prototype is sent on?

2) What directive is violated in that mission which results in its failure and ultimately the termination of the Solo program?

3) When trying to decide on a face to give Solo what person does the robot see which he ultimately uses to determine which soldier to base him on?

4) What do the villages think Solo is when he comes back to life at his funeral?

5) Solo agrees to help the villagers from the beginning of the film in exchange for what?

Bonus Question: How long does Solo stay in the village after the events of the film?

Answers