Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life Recap

Jamie

Lara Croft is back, Jack! And boy does she have a Cradle of Life to find. Hot on the tail of an ancient lost treasure, Lara finds out that it’s linked to a mythological plague and an eeeevil scientist is interested in releasing it. Can Lara stop the scientist (and perhaps find love) before it’s too late? Find out in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life.

How?! When an earthquake uncovers Alexander the Great’s lost treasure, Lara Croft is the first one there ready to make bank. But before she can leave she’s ambushed by a bunch of evildoers who take nothing but a curious orb. Turns out that orb is a link to Pandora’s Box and the Cradle of Life (and the unstoppable plague it holds) and the buyer is Johnathan Reiss, a Nobel Prize winning scientist-turned-bioterrorist. MI6 begs Lara to help them track and stop Reiss, but she’s like “I need my lover Gerard Butler/Terry stat.” They don’t like that because Terry is a criminal asshole, but relent for the sake of the world. Releasing Terry from prison, Lara and him extreme sport their way into China to confront the thieves. Lara is able to defeat the main bad guy in hand to hand combat and find out where the orb is being sold. They attempt to stop the transaction, but Reiss is able to get away, but not before Lara puts a tracker on the orb. Using that they are able to infiltrate the bad guy’s hideout and get the orb. Success! Lara drops Terry like a hot potato and figures out where the Cradle of Life is in Africa. Extreme sporting her way into Africa, she is dismayed to find that before she can get to the Cradle of Life, Reiss is able to use Lara’s friends to lead him to the location as well. He forces Lara to help him infiltrate the Cradle and slam dunk their way to Pandora’s Box. When all hope seems lost, Terry comes to the rescue and Lara is able to defeat Reiss in hand to hand combat. Phew. Everything is safe, right? WRONG! Terry is like “who cares about the world, this plague is worth a fortune!” and tries to convince Lara to steal it with him. With sadness in her eyes she must kill her former lover to keep the world safe. THE END. Big Question: What is Terry’s plan? Sell a plague for money… that will be worth nothing when the world’s economies collapse as a result of the plague? Smart.

Why?! Lara seems to be generally a treasure hunter, but once that’s out of the picture her main motivation is to save the world I guess. It’s actually a little interesting that MI6 requires the help of Lara for this mission given that she probably routinely breaks international law, but whatever. Everyone else is generally evil.

Who?! In a shocking turn of events we jumped from one insane Nobel Prize winning scientist film to another insane Nobel Prize winning scientist film in The Island of Dr. Moreau and this. Very unexpected. I’ll also note the fact that there is about five second of screentime for a submarine that comes to rescue Lara and yet Graham McTavish is somehow credited as “submarine captain.” Funny.

What?! I mean, I’m obligated to mention the Jeep Rubicon product placement in the film because, along with I, Robot, it generated a lot of discussion at the time of where product placement was heading (namely towards significant funding of a film’s production). However, I also have to point out that apparently the actual orb from this film has been listed for auction! So we could have an actual MacGuffin in our possession for the low price of *check price* nevermind.

Where?!  Oh, we’re a-globetrottin’. We start in Greece, head to Lara’s home in England, free Terry from prison in Kazakhstan(!),  and then set out for a long period of time in China before finishing in Tanzania. Despite the climax being in Tanzania, I think I’d have to say this is primarily a China film given the stretch of time spent there. Pretty great as a “road-trip” style settings film. B+ bordering on A- given the necessity of a few of the locations.

When?! Went back through the film and unfortunately there is no clear mention or hint at when this takes place. There is a Chinese newspaper shown at one point, so I’ll start learning Mandarin and report back on whether that sheds some light. Until then, F.

I was fully ready to say that this film was not that bad and even had a whole thing about how films of the early 2000s like this one set the stage for where the Fast and Furious franchise has taken things. It’s actually pretty fun how most of the film is just a series of extreme sports stunts mixed with classic James Bond spy shit and Indana Jones (with a bunch of jokes thrown in there). It’s like they started looking at these films and were like “well we can’t just keep on doing stunts and jokes, right?” and eventually they realized that they could. Unfortunately, the end of this film exists and it is complete garbage. Somehow they ruin the film in about ten minutes with some of the most ludicrous logic I’ve ever seen put to screen. I mean… Gerard Butler actually seems to think he can sell an unstoppable plague and everything will turn out OK for him. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. As for DOA, it is everything it’s advertised as. Shameless lingering shots of particular aspects of the female actor’s bodies combined with almost cartoony action scenes. Some of those are fun and Jamie Pressley is actually pretty good in it (she clearly trained like a champ for this and actually looks like a fighter), but that’s more or less the positives. A lot more negatives, most notable the acting and the fact that the latter half of the film is just Eric Roberts wearing “super sunglasses” fighting people. Patrick? 

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! If this was my movie I would call it Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: Pandora’s Plague Box (ft. Gerard Butler). That sounds like the song of the summah to me folks. Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – Back in the day we used to not do our homework. For shame! So sometimes there is some BMT flotsam to rescue from the BMT ocean. And Cradle of Life fits the bill. The original I remember being somewhat silly … but what did I think at the time? Turns out I thought it was pretty good, and possibly the best video game film we’d seen! That is promising, because the preview suggests the sequel was actually more well received than that original film. What were my expectations? Honestly a good time. I liked the original well enough, and it feels doubtful that a film that was more critically acclaimed could actually be worse. I also expected Gerard Butler to be a terrible actor.

The Good – The film itself is indeed rather entertaining. It tickles the exact spot you’d hope it would tickle: hey, what if they crossed James Bond and Indiana Jones. And the film felt like a perfect mix of Die Another Day and the fourth Indiana Jones film. What? Those films aren’t that bad! They are slightly better than the typical BMT standard. Angelina is really good in the film as well.

The Bad – Gerard is indeed not great, and neither is the bad buy, complete with James Bond-esque introduction on a plane involving henchmen and Ebola. Ultimately the entire film kind of falls apart in the last act. They needed something for the Cradle of Life, but Pandora’s Box complete with a pool of Pandora’s acidic tears? No thanks, that is a step too far. The CGI is still pretty bad.

The BMT – It is too bad they didn’t make a third of these films. I feel like after two valiant attempts they could have really managed a stinker of a film. Instead we got two kind of above average video game films. I’m not sure, but I think I liked the first one better, at least there you could psych yourself into some solid National Treasure Voight vibes. Here you just have Gerard Butler. And I’ve seen too many Gerard Butler films to appreciate him at this point. Did it meet my expectations? Yeah, it was basically a good time with some poorly acted scenes by Gerard Butler. I wish it had either gone overboard earlier (and gone full BMT), or later (and been Not That Bad), but instead we basically just got the first one again.

Roast-radamus – I’m going to throw out a tentative (Who?) for Q Conundrum, whereby every spy needs their Q, and in this case Lara Croft has *checks notes* Bryce. There is a decent Product Placement (What?) for the Jeep Rubicon which ends up becoming the star of the film once the gang arrives in Tanzania. I think I can throw out a good Setting as a Character (Where?) for China in particular, complete with terracotta warriors. But booooooooy howdy was there a MacGuffin (Why?), the Cradle of Life complete with Pandora’s plague sitting in a pool of acid tears. Natch. Let’s just throw that in a cave where physics doesn’t apply and be done with it! And definitely a Worst Twist (How?) for Gerard somehow being the most greedy and craven person in the world. A mercenary willing to sell a horrific world ending plague for money. What are you going to even do with that Gerard … the world will be all plagued! You’ll probably die! It’s absurd. Outside shot at Good although I highly doubt it.

StreetCreditReport.com – I can’t find a single list here, but it gets most of its cred from (1) being a video game adaptation, and (2) being a sequel to a video game adaptation. I do think this could be on some list of terrible Greek myth films, which is fun. And It is probably one of the worst action-adventure archeologist films as well. Decent cred there if you go looking for it.

You Just Got Schooled – Hmmmmm what could I possible put here. Oh wait, there was a remake just last year with Tomb Raider! I would say that Vikander is quite good in the film, as is Dominic West. The first half of the film is quite good, with a dispirited Lara fighting and biking her way through some serious depression. I liked those parts best. Once we get into the real mystery things just kind of become boring. I liked the ultimate twist (the eeeeeevil Japanese queen actually was just an asymptomatic carrier of a plague who killed herself to save her people) was really good and I liked the more down to earth mystery of that bit. I’m not sure if a sequel would end up being good or bad though. Usually I would say that getting out from under the origin story means a sequel can be its own thing. But the origin bits in London were by far the most interesting bits to me, so I’m not sure if that means a sequel would almost inevitably be worse. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. B+ adaptation I think, better than the two originals, but not by as much as you would hope.

Bring a Friend Analysis – And as a friend we brought another video game adaptation along in DOA: Dead or Alive. And holy shit is this a piece of shit. But you would have to know that going in. The most bizarre bit is just how big the film is. Over 40K votes on IMDb, a 26 notability (it really is an impressive cast), and a budget of $30 million according to reports. And yet it comes back to the US and barely gets released! The film makes you feel gross though. It was a different time (yada yada), but my god to they go out of their way to give you gratuitous butt and boob shots. It is distressing. And yet, you have a film that is basically led by five women, and at the very least Jaime Pressly seems pretty annoyed that it didn’t get a release (I’m sure when you get into that good of shape for a role to see it just die a slow death is pretty annoying). It isn’t the worst video game film I’ve seen, but it is close. B friend, pretty fun if you can see past the grossness.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life Quiz

Hmmm, last thing I remember I fell into a deep whole where a super fancy box was sitting in a pool of acid … wait, how isn’t this magic again? Whatever. Do you remember what happened in Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) We open with Lara Croft Tomb Raider, with a little help from her Greek friends, discovering Alexander the Great’s Lunar Temple underwater. What event helped lead our intrepid explorer to the location of the fabled temple?

2) In the Lunar Temple our hero obtains (and then loses) two items, an orb and a medallion. What, in the course of the story, are the purpose of each?

3) We meet out villain, a Nobel Prize winning biochemist turned terrorist, who wants the orb and medallion. On his plane he flexes his power by killing a turncoat using what disease (which he obviously has a cure for)?

4) Meanwhile, Lara is recruited by MI6 to find the orb first as it is the key to the Cradle of Life which houses Pandora’s box. Lara though insists they have to get her friend Gerard Butler. Why is Butler in prison and where is he being held?

5) Where is Pandora’s box in the end?

Answers

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life Preview

Rich and Poe are surprised to be greeted by a convoy when they arrive on the Isle of Dr. Killmore. They had meant to slip in, grab the Staff of Gabragorn, and slip out without notice, but apparently their arrival was kept less than secret. Dr. Killmore laughs at their look of shock. “There are no secrets on this island,” he explains, “I knew when and why you were going to arrive, but rest assured, the Staff of Gabragorn is not here. Also rest assured that I’m assuredly, most obviously, not insane.” At that Dr. Killmore chuckles and a couple of cat monsters throw black licorice jelly beans into his mouth. The man is clearly deranged. As they walk to inspect the island Poe suddenly has a thought. “What if, my dear Rich, the Staff was never stolen at all?” Everyone is puzzled at the theory, but Rich is picking up what he’s putting down, “Ah, you mean…” suddenly he whirls on Dr. Killmore, “he was the culprit in the first place!” (what a twist!) Dr. Killmore babbles incoherently before breaking under the breathtaking minds of Rich and Poe. “Magnificent,” Dr. Killmore exclaims, “and exactly what we hoped would happen.” Rich and Poe are befuddled and only become more baffled as the cat monsters reveal the Staff and snap it in half. “A mere knicknack,” he explains, “but necessary to prove that you were capable of the real task.” (what a double twist!). Dr. Killmore goes on to describe Hammerthorn’s Sword, which is found in the ancient tomb of the goblins. Legend foretold that only a couple of truly rad explorers (check) with beautiful minds (check) and abs for days (also check) could wield the Sword and defeat the gamemaster. “So we’ll basically be a couple of totally cool…” That’s right! We’re (finally) finishing the video game franchise Tomb Raider by watching the sequel Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life. Ohhhh, so close to the double colon. They didn’t have the balls and ultimately that is (probably) the reason the film failed. Fortunately for us the Tomb Raider reboot everyone forgets exists didn’t qualify for BMT, so this should do it for the franchise. Let’s go!

Meanwhile, a hand reaches from smoldering rubble. It struggled to pull a battered and broken body to the surface. An equally battered and bruised body lays nearby. “Are we… are we… dead or alive?” it croaks. That’s right! We’re pairing Tomb Raider with another video game meant as a means by which men can ogle women doing flips and kicks. This one didn’t quite get the desired theatrical release for a full-blown BMT film, but we thought it would be a good Bring a Friend. It’s DOA: Dead or Alive and as far as I can tell it’s women fighting in bikinis. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it. Let’s go!

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003) – BMeTric: 51.2; Notability: 56 

LaraCroftTombRaiderTheCradleofLifeIMDb_BMeT

LaraCroftTombRaiderTheCradleofLifeIMDb_RV

(This is a lot lower than I would have expected. This film feels like something like … Die Another Day. And yet that film is floating around 6.0 on IMDb. That’s where I would have expected this to be … maybe this is a lot worse that I expected.)

RogerEbert.com – 3.0 stars – This is a better movie than the first one, more assured, more entertaining. The director is Jan de Bont (“Speed”), who demands a certain logic from his screenwriters, so that although the story is completely preposterous, of course, it is consistent within its own terms. I was relieved to discover I am not tired of movies like this after all. They have to be good, is the thing.

(Wowza. Ebert was one to take films on their own terms. And this (and Speed, as referenced) are certainly films that require you to buy into odd logic presented in ultra-serious terms. Respect Ebert.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5VugO68swI/

(The Chinese setting is pretty insane. And then when I thought things couldn’t get any better … super young Gerard Butler, and submarines and shit. C’mon this looks rad as fuck. Get the fuck out of here, I’m loving these wing suits!!!)

Directors – Jan de Bont – (Known For: Speed; Twister; BMT: Speed 2: Cruise Control; The Haunting; Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Director in 1998 for Speed 2: Cruise Control; and in 2000 for The Haunting; and Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Speed 2: Cruise Control in 1998; Notes: He was the cinematographer for the ill-fated film Roar which is famous for using real (and dangerous) wild animals in production.)

Writers – Dean Georgaris (screenplay) – (Known For: The Meg; The Manchurian Candidate; Future BMT: Tristan + Isolde; BMT: Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life; Paycheck; Notes: Created a wrote the Jimmy Smits television series Bluff City Law.)

Steven E. de Souza (story) – (Known For: Die Hard; The Running Man; 48 Hrs.; Commando; Die Hard 2; Ricochet; The Return of Captain Invincible; Future BMT: Street Fighter; The Flintstones; Knock Off; Jumpin’ Jack Flash; Bad Dreams; BMT: Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life; Judge Dredd; Beverly Hills Cop III; Hudson Hawk; Another 48 Hrs.; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Screenplay for Hudson Hawk in 1992; Notes: Seems mostly retired, but relatively recently wrote a rebooted graphic novel of Sheena, Queen of the Jungle.)

James V. Hart (story) – (Known For: Bram Stoker’s Dracula; Contact; Tuck Everlasting; Muppet Treasure Island; Epic; The Last Mimzy; Future BMT: Sahara; Hook; BMT: Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life; Notes: Developed the HartChart story mapping tool with WriterDuet creator Guy Goldstein, it is available online.)

Actors – Angelina Jolie – (Known For: Maleficent; Girl, Interrupted; Salt; Mr. & Mrs. Smith; Wanted; Beowulf; Kung Fu Panda; Kung Fu Panda 3; Come Away; Changeling; The Good Shepherd; Kung Fu Panda 2; Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow; Playing by Heart; Pushing Tin; A Mighty Heart; Hell’s Kitchen; Future BMT: Alexander; By the Sea; Life or Something Like It; The Tourist; Shark Tale; Playing God; Original Sin; Taking Lives; Foxfire; Beyond Borders; The Bone Collector; Maleficent: Mistress of Evil; Lookin’ to Get Out; BMT: Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life; Lara Croft: Tomb Raider; Hackers; Gone in Sixty Seconds; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actress in 2002 for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and Original Sin; in 2003 for Life or Something Like It; in 2004 for Beyond Borders, and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life; and in 2005 for Alexander, and Taking Lives; Notes: Y’all know Angelina. Recently announced she’s going to develop a television news show for children on the BBC. Nick News is back jack!)

Gerard Butler – (Known For: 300; How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World; Den of Thieves; RocknRolla; Olympus Has Fallen; How to Train Your Dragon; The Vanishing; Tomorrow Never Dies; Reign of Fire; How to Train Your Dragon 2; Coriolanus; Beowulf & Grendel; Nim’s Island; Mrs Brown; Dear Frankie; Harrison’s Flowers; The Cherry Orchard; Future BMT: Tale of the Mummy; The Ugly Truth; The Game of Their Lives; A Family Man; Machine Gun Preacher; BMT: Movie 43; Dracula 2001; Geostorm; Gods of Egypt; Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life; The Bounty Hunter; Timeline; Gamer; Playing for Keeps; London Has Fallen; Angel Has Fallen; Hunter Killer; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actor in 2011 for The Bounty Hunter; and in 2017 for Gods of Egypt, and London Has Fallen; and Nominee for Worst Screen Couple/Worst Screen Ensemble for The Bounty Hunter in 2011; Notes: Y’all know Gerard. Recently it was announced that he’d carry the torch for one leg of the journey towards the Olympic games this summer.)

Chris Barrie – (BMT: Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life; Lara Croft: Tomb Raider; Notes: He played Rimmer on Red Dwarf for over 70 episodes.)

Budget/Gross – $95,000,000 / Domestic: $65,660,196 (Worldwide: $160,099,222)

(That seems really expensive for the time. And it isn’t a very good return. Maybe the foreign take made them think with a slightly better reception they could make a return on a third? There was some planning for that at the time, but it fell through.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 25% (42/171): Though the sequel is an improvement over the first movie, it’s still lacking in thrills.

(Better than I would have thought. Why did I think this film was like a 15% or something. I guess the Ebert review was closer to average than I thought. Reviewer Highlight: Scenery can’t save this blindingly dull sequel. – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone.)

Poster – Bad Movie Twins: Sklog Raiders – The Obsidian Dongle: Quest for Fire (C-)

lara_croft_tomb_raider_the_cradle_of_life

(Wow, I mean. It’s bold. It tells me one thing and one thing only, and it has nothing to do with the plot of the film. Or perhaps Angelina Jolie is the plot of the film. I like the font, though. Goes with the bold style. Everything else is bizarre. Why is she splashing in the water? You know what, I don’t need to know.)

Tagline(s) – None (F) 

(Boooooooo, but it’s true. No tagline because it would have been the same as the poster. That’s the tagline. They aren’t even trying to tell you anything about the thrills and adventure that are in store. They just want to make it very clear that Angelina Jolie will appear in a skin-tight cat suit.)

Keyword – based on video game

LaraCroftTombRaiderTheCradleofLife_based on video game

Top 10: Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019), Tomb Raider (2018), Warcraft: The Beginning (2016), Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018), Resident Evil (2002), Rampage (2018), Assassin’s Creed (2016), Mortal Kombat (1995), Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016), Street Fighter (1994)

Future BMT: 89.1 House of the Dead (2003), 88.2 Street Fighter (1994), 87.9 BloodRayne (2005), 54.8 Resident Evil: Retribution (2012), 50.1 Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016), 40.8 Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010), 33.6 Ratchet & Clank (2016), 30.7 Pokémon 3: The Movie (2000), 27.6 Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004), 25.5 Pokémon the Movie 2000 (1999);

BMT: Warcraft: The Beginning (2016), Assassin’s Creed (2016), Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), Silent Hill (2006), Doom (2005), Super Mario Bros. (1993), Max Payne (2008), Silent Hill: Revelation (2012), Need for Speed (2014), Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997), Hitman (2007), Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003), Hitman: Agent 47 (2015), Double Dragon (1994), In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007), Alone in the Dark (2005), Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009), Wing Commander (1999)

(How do we still have so many of these left?! I even have a tone left in the top 10. I’ve seen so many of them too! Anywho, they’ve been trying to make video game films happen for a decade now. They tried in the early 2000s as well, but eventually they wore themselves out in the late 00s and had to rethink things. This is one of the bigger ones clearly.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 12) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Angelina Jolie is No. 1 billed in Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life and No. 3 billed in Gone in 60 Seconds, which also stars Nicolas Cage (No. 1 billed) who is in The Wicker Man (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 5 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 1 + 3 + 1 + 1 + 5 + 1 = 12. If we were to watch The Bone Collector we can get the HoE Number down to 11.

Notes – In Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), Angelina Jolie had to wear bra padding, in order for her bust size to measure up to the videogame character. Jolie wears considerably less (and possibly no) padding in this film, as the decision was made to give Lara more realistic dimensions.

In the scene where Lara Croft and Terry Sheridan jump off a building wearing “flying suits”, called wingsuits, the stunt was performed by the two men who developed the suits. No CGI, wires, nets, or other special effects were involved. This suit was invented by Patrick De Gayardon, who died in a parachute accident in April 1998, while testing a new type of parachute in Hawaii.

At one point in the movie, Lara Croft attacks a bad guy using very sophisticated movements with an antique rifle. Her movements are taken from the Queen Anne Salute used by the U.S. Army Drill Team. (Yeah, its real dumb)

The skin on Lara’s upper left arm is rarely seen exposed in this film. Angelina Jolie sports a large tattoo on her upper left bicep which requires make-up to cover up. The fact her left arm is rarely bared in this film (her opening scene in a bikini is shot in such a way her right arm, not her left, dominates) may be due to criticism that the tattoo was sometimes poorly concealed in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001).

Just as in the first film, there are several scenes in which the live-action Lara mimics the computer game version, in particular, a scene in which she climbs around a pagoda and pole vaults to a helicopter.

The character of Jonathan Reiss exposes his private jet passengers to a form of Ebola. The “antidote” is a clear capsule with small black pills in it. In reality, this is an herbal medicine made in China, and is a cure for an upset stomach. (Weird, why would anyone know this)

In the film, Lara (Angelina Jolie) and Terry (Gerard Butler) walk into a mall in Hong Kong called “Times Square”, after which they make their way to a then-unfinished taller building, called the “IFC tower”. The film treats the two buildings as if they are attached, but in fact they are a subway train ride apart. The large skylight that looks up the IFC tower from Times Square was digitally added into the scene.

Jan de Bont’s last directorial credit.

Much of the background story of this film revolves around Alexander The Great (Alexander of Macedonia). Angelina Jolie portrayed Alexander’s mother, Olympias, in Alexander (2004). (oooo Fun, I forgot about that)

Initial trailers and publicity material credited the story to Producer Lloyd Levin and Production Designer Kirk M. Petruccelli, as well as James V. Hart. However, just before the film was released, the Writers Guild of America decided to credit the story to Hart and Steven E. de Souza. (Huh, I wish there was more information about this kind of stuff)

Awards – Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Actress (Angelina Jolie, 2004)

Serenity (2019) Recap

Jamie

Baker Dill is a simple charter boat captain on Plymouth Island trying to make a living. When his ex-wife shows up wanting him to kill her new, abusive husband for the sake of their child he has a choice to make… but that’s not the craziest thing about this film. Oh no. Can he stop the abusive husband (and reunite with his son… sorta), before it’s too late? Find out in… Serenity.

How?! Baker Dill, a charter boat captain on Plymouth Island, just wants to make a buck and catch Justice, the giant Tuna that has evaded capture for as long as he can remember. This obsession with the fish is turning business bad, but things only get worse when his ex-wife, Karen, shows up begging him to save her and their son Patrick from her abusive husband Frank. You see, she has convinced Frank to go on a fishing trip with Baker and she wants him to get him drunk and toss him overboard. But Baker is hesitant and tries his darndest to get out of it, even while Frank proves over and over to be worthy of killing. At the same time Baker is getting the weird feeling that he is somehow communicating with his son which is confirmed when a strange man reveals that in fact everything we are watching is occuring in an AI built video game that his genius son has created (what a twist!). As long as the game sticks to the rules of catching fish then Frank can’t die. Overcome by this earth-shattering totally logical revelation, Baker goes on a drinking binge all while the game continually throws roadblock after roadblock in front of him trying to prevent him from killing Frank. Unfortunately for the game Baker isn’t one to be daunted and realizing his role in the plan takes Frank out on the fateful fishing trip and when Justice takes a nibble on the line lets a totally wasted Frank take the reel and gets pulled to the bottom of the ocean. Here, faithful viewers, we are informed that Patrick has killed Frank in real life. He then uses his beautiful mind to rework the game so that he and his dad can spend time together. Hooray! THE END. Big Question: Is Patrick coding the game or is the AI just kinda making it up as it goes along… or is this all nonsense?

Why?! There is a little play on the classic MacGuffin here, as Baker Dill’s whole purpose in life is seemingly to catch an impossibly huge Tuna named Justice. They kinda turn it on its head, though, as they acknowledge that this is simply an arbitrary goal of the game and has no real meaning. In the end the motivation is for Patrick to kill his abusive stepfather, which is played out by the AI McConaughey character letting Justice drag him into the sea. Ya dig?

Who?! Actor Hakeem Kae-Kazim promoted the film a bit and clearly had a role in it, but ended up with a “special thanks” credit. Interesting, as we’ve even seen in other films where actors are cut they usually just go uncredited on IMDb. At least they acknowledged him, I guess, despite that fact that he did not ultimately appear in it.

What?! Now this is what I live for. There are several scenes in the film where people are drinking beer from Phoenix Brewery, as well as some coasters bearing its logo. This is a brewery on Mauritius… so like… how does the film not take place on the real island of Mauritius? Or did the AI machine in Patrick’s computer decide that that beer would also be brewed on Plymouth Island. Riddle me that, Patrick?

Where?! Clearly takes place on the imaginary island of Plymouth. Likely the island is a fake former French colony in the Caribbean (given some connections to Miami) and is perhaps modelled after Montserrat, whose capital, Plymouth, became a ghost town due to a volcanic eruption. In reality this is all made up and the entire film takes place in Miami where Patrick lives and codes on his sweet ‘puter. Uh… I don’t know. I guess it’s an A despite being fake.

When?! Time and space are not really a thing in the film as explained above. It can be whatever time the little boy genius wants it to be. Perhaps even the entire film takes place in the moments before he kills his stepfather. Perchance it all occurs in the beat of a butterfly’s wings. Deep, man. Deep. F.

I can’t believe they actually got huge movie stars to sign onto Serenity. It thinks it’s way smarter than it actually is and does the “nothing in this film is real or matters” so hard that you just kinda have to laugh at it. It’s real weird though, which is a plus I guess. It really went for it and was interesting. Particularly Anne Hathaway… I feel like she must be in on the joke, but she is acting so hard that it’s difficult to tell. For the Bring a Friend, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation is astonishing. It’s the lowest budget, lowest quality major horror franchise film I’ve ever seen. The beginning is so horrible that I would have probably turned it off if I wasn’t obligated to watch the entire thing. Strangely it’s revealed near the end that the (new) motivation of the family is their part in a large illuminati type conspiracy cult where the fear the family instills in its victims is part of what gives the group its power… It’s like a mini Cabin in the Woods and if you just read the concept you might even say it’s interesting. But it’s just a cheap, terrible rip-off of the original so you can’t really say that. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! I remember watching Serenity in theaters, it was in New York City with my bro- … huh? This is a different Serenity? Like they just reused the same name? Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – I didn’t know much about the film going it beyond that it was a huge bomb with big stars. If you watch the trailer before watching the film you should be able to figure out the twist … which maybe suggests it isn’t really a twist? Something to chew on when analyzing things. What are my expectations? I was just hoping it wasn’t boring. I don’t really like noir films to be honest. They kind of stress me out because I end up getting frustrated when I can’t untangle the plot.

The Good – Honestly, I liked this film more than I should have. I think it is because the twist is so very obvious that I no longer got stressed about figuring things out … I had already figured out the important bit. Everything else, indeed, turned out to be rather straightforward. I do wonder whether the director thought the twist was good and so he hid it from critics, and once they realized it was bad they put it into trailers hoping people would just enjoy the ride. Well guess what? I enjoyed the ride. The film’s twist is trash, but the acting and visuals are good. Which at least made it not boring to me.

The Bad – The twist is awful, and it ends up really being the entire film. There is no other point to the film beyond the twist. Sadly I actually find the plot pretty interesting, but then if you didn’t have the twist it would be the worst noir ever made (like … a guy’s ex-wife hires her ex-husband to kill he husband and he does … the end). So you end up being stuck between a bad twist and a bad noir … and they chose the bad twist. I think they made the right choice though, the film would have been unwatchable if the ending was just him getting $10 million and seeing his son again.

The BMT – As a tropical noir I think it’ll be remembered if that niche genre ever crops up again. Otherwise, again it will only be notable for its we-all-live-in-a-game twist which I can definitely see being reused in the future. Those are the only two reasons I can think for ever revisiting the film, I have no intention of recommending it to anyone. Did it meet my expectations? Yes, but because I kind of ignored the twist and enjoyed the very straightforward noir plot for what it was. I doubt very many people would get much out of this film if they even remotely like noir though.

Roast-radamus – I think this has a really really interesting Setting as a Character (Where?) in that the setting is the fictional Plymouth Island and is almost literally a character in the film. I’ll throw in Worst Twist (How?) as well since it is much maligned. I agree that it is dumb … but I still didn’t mind it all that much. It has an ubbelivable MacGuffin (What?) … almost a MacGuffin as a Character in the shape of a large tuna that McConaughey can’t seem to catch. I think it’ll sneak into BMT Live! as well, although I don’t think it’ll win when we vote.

StreetCreditReport.com – This is probably the most well known of the big bombs that came out this year, mainly because it has a bunch of those Big Targets that people like to take aim at (not to say the film doesn’t deserve it, but this is the type of film that if you didn’t want to watch bad movies you could write a hell of a lot about without having seen it given how notable the cast is). But it also has some of that real cred, is it is 12th on the AV Club list. It manages to appear on the Variety list as well. And the Hollywood Reporter! See? People can’t help but hate this film, it is just too tempting!

You Just Got Schooled – I needed a place to put my review of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, so you’re going to get that and the Bring a Friend analysis below. Now, fans of the franchise seem to either hail this as a hilarious send up of the first, or a travesty which besmirches the franchise’s good name. Surprisingly, I lean more towards the former. I am no one to promote horror-comedy, far too many end up being not very good comedies or horror films in the end. This is no different really, it is a terrible horror film. But there is just enough fun over-the-top nonsense to entertain me. I actually think this is one of the best horror film follow-ups to a classic I’ve seen. Rehashing the films never work, this at least gave you a bigger, badder version of what you liked in the first place (which necessitated a level of comedy). A solid B from me, I kind of wish the series had gone a bit more in this direction, at least it had interesting bad guys.

Bring a Friend Analysis – Ah, you might have been wondering why I’ve been reviewing four Texas Chainsaw Massacre films during the recap of Serenity. And here it is, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. You know … that horror classic starring Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger (wait … wow, yeah it does). So we get to see the original McConaughey, and now the risen-from-the-ashes hot-off-the-presses McConaughey … they’re kind of the same, it is amazing how this man ages. The film itself is awful. A remake of the original, but somehow people forgot how to make horror films using no money? Hint: it isn’t just by filling an old house with garbage and having a guy moan with a mask on. There is actually more to it. Like having interesting bad guys, or interesting good guys, or people without robot legs. The film is straight up dog poo in my face, I can’t believe they released it to theaters! F, how dare you make this and besmirch the good name of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. How daaaaaare you.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III Recap

Jamie

Leatherface is back, Jack! With their relationship falling apart, Michelle and Ryan see if a cross-country road trip might patch things up. Unfortunately they are duped and captured by the crazy, chainsaw wielding family of backwater misfits we know and love. Can they take out Leatherface before it’s too late? Find out in… Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III.

How?! Michelle and Ryan are going through a rocky time in their relationship. He seems like kind of a snob and she’s not into it. Stopping for gas, they are saved from a creepy gas station attendant by a man named Tex. While they flee the gas station, taking Tex’s advice for directions, it appears that Tex is murdered by the attendant. A series of creepy things start to occur on the backcountry Texas road including, but not limited to, Leatherface attacking their car with a chainsaw and an injured man forcing them to crash into a weekend survivalist’s jeep. The weekend survivalist, Benny, helps them from their car, but doesn’t believe the crazy things that have occured. That is until a crazy hook-handed man drives up offering help, but clearly only offering to chop him up with a chainsaw. Wandering the woods, Michelle and Ryan are periodically chased by Leatherface, eventually resulting in the capture of Ryan. Meanwhile Benny is also chased by Leatherface, but he’s helped by an escaped captive of the family to evade him. Instead he encounters the gas station attendant and throws him into a swamp when it becomes clear he’s just an unhelpful crazy person. Eventually Michelle ends up in the family home where instead of finding help she finds a new crazy family of Leatherface, including Tex (what a twist!). They nail her to a chair for dinner and have her watch them murder Ryan. Then, after giving Leatherface a new chainsaw as a present, they are going to murder Michelle, but Benny shows up and blows half the family away with a machine gun. Running away, they dispatch Tex and take down the gas station attendant and drive away just as we see Leatherface start up his chainsaw. Bum bum bum! THE END. Big Question: I honestly wonder whether the creepy little girl that is part of Leatherface’s family was meant to play a big role going forward. She and Leatherface are the only two that clearly survive.

Why?! To survive, duh. The motivation for the family is pretty consistent for the first three films (and then changes wildly for the fourth one). It’s all just for fun and food as the people they capture are turned into BBQ for family dinner and to sell at their local gas station or in BBQ competitions… for real.

Who?! I’m pretty interested in the idea of a movie monster, particularly one where a stuntman can launch a career off of how they portray an iconic figure. Leatherface is much more like Michael Myers in this way in that there are eight total films and seven different people have portrayed him. Probably the most famous is Gunnar Hanson from the first one, just because he was the first, while Andrew Bryniarski is the only one to play him twice, in the remake and its sequel from 2003 and 2006 (both future BMT films).

What?! Apparently you can buy a replica of the iconic chainsaw from this film. Something to think about for the Xmas season. Additionally, I saw that the Texas Chainsaw Massacre films are mentioned in the context of product placement somewhat frequently. Mostly negatively as they talk about how you will see a soft drink in the background while a girl runs around screaming and covered in blood. Overall minor in the series though.

Where?! Classic example of an A+ setting as every film in the series almost by definition must be placed in rural Texas. They never went crazy and took Leatherface to Manhattan or anything like that I don’t think.

When?! In the first four films it’s almost played like a joke that each one takes place at the time of the release of the film, so large chunks of time separate the massacre events where there was a survivor to tell the story. The first has an exact date. The second takes place during the OU-Texas rivalry football game, so approximate. This one is more like a general time, summer 1990 probably. The fourth then jumps back to being more specific: May 1995. C for the third entry, the worst grade of the bunch.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series seems to struggle for lack of imagination a bit. The first one is really great and ahead of its time and it’s amazing it was made in the early 70’s. The second is super fun and a very good, different sequel that at time cribs from the original, but it is interesting in its own right. This one though, starts to fall backwards as it attempted to reboot the series in a heavy metal, 90’s kind of way. They threw away all the characters from the first two and made a whole new family… without it really making much sense where they came from. It also makes it clear that they were striving for that Freddy/Jason/Michael kind of vibe with Leatherface, with the rest of the family being peripheral… and I think that is just a mistake. The family in its entirety had value, but then they just started throwing out everyone but Leatherface. Anyway, I thought it was a poor film, clearly suffering from the edits that had to be made for rating (to the point where sometimes it was hard to understand what was happening in certain scenes), but got slightly better as the film went on. I’ll save my Next Generation through for the Serenity recap. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! If there is one thing in BMT that I well and truly love, it is the opportunity to watch like … five films in a week from a horror franchise. It sounds like a joke, but while the task is difficult, it is very rewarding. Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – So here’s the deal: I had watched the original long ago and found it rather disturbing and unpleasant and never ended up watching the second one (which also didn’t qualify). This one seemed to be the goriest of the original series, but I’ve also watched a lot more horror films and have become rather desensitized to gore in particular. So what I actually looked forward to was watching the original two and seeing how I felt about the series as a whole. What were my expectations? I expected to find the second film dumb, and the third to be unnecessarily gross and probably misogynistic (it is the way of horror after all). But sometimes horror surprises me, sometimes the bad ones are just boring (which is honestly a more pleasant option).

The Good – I don’t mind the core idea of the franchise, which is very much the same as The Fast and the Furious: it’s all about Fambly. Leatherface has the mind of a child, but is supremely good at killing (well … you assume he is usually, he had an off day in this film), and thus attracting an insane family of cannibals around him wherever he goes. As a direct sequel to the first film I think they could have made this point a bit clearer, but it comes through well enough to be interesting.

The Bad – Mostly everything else. I think there is a pretty specific mistake the third and fourth film make which is to retain the idea of Leatherface having the mind of a child. As a demented killer controlled by his brothers in the first and second film it is fine, he’s a terrifying side player. But once you remove that part of the equation (assuming the first is always canon) then Leatherface becomes maybe the most boring of all of the slasher villains. He kills, he barely knows why beyond that that is how he gets food, the end. It is boring. Given the tone of the second film, I think there was an opportunity to continue in that more comedy vein, but reverting back to the classic slasher tropes was a huge mistake in the end and doesn’t work at all. I also really really didn’t appreciate that they reused the gas station twist from the original.

The BMT – It’s a franchise. Out of the three main horror franchises we’ve seen (Friday the 13th, Dawn of the Dead, and this), this is by far the worst of the three. It has a decent second film (kind of Halloween II level), but then falls completely apart without building any interesting lore around its killers or protagonists. Ends up being more of a missed opportunity than anything, given it is probably the biggest cannibal horror franchise to date. Did it meet my expectations? Actually yeah. It didn’t go insane with gore (to avoid an X rating), and didn’t seem to revel in the torture of its female protagonist. It gave me just enough to chew on that I walked away not very disappointed in watching the film in the end.

Roast-radamus – You have to throw a bone to the A+ settings, so Setting as a Character (Where?) for Texas (Chainsaw Massacre) seems pretty natural. I’ll also throw out the Worst Twist (How?) for reusing the twist from the first film. Of course Viggo’s in on it, of course so is the gas station attendant, of course, of course. I don’t think it’ll get into any of the superlatives, so that is about it.

StreetCreditReport.com – It is going to be tough to find the third on any lists. It seems like it tends to be overshadowed by the worst of the remakes (which is 3D apparently), and the worst of the originals (the fourth). It ends up mid-table on this list by collider. As a matter of fact, I’m not sure this film ends up qualifying if not for the fact that the original is so beloved. Which actually makes sense, it is the one they tried to make the most like the other franchises (Nightmare in particular), and they kind of just made a meh one with a boring secondary villain (Viggo).

You Just Got Schooled – Since this will be posted first I’ll put by review for the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre here (the second will go with Serenity). As I said up top when I watched the film originally I remember feeling a bit queasy. I was unaccustomed to gore and really didn’t enjoy it. This time? It is one of the best horror films ever made. Probably most notably for creating an impactful horror classic on a shoestring budget, but you can throw most of the movie away just for the final family dinner scene. Suddenly, it goes from the single masked killer, to a family of manipulative cannibals. There is so much to explore … and yet the creators fritter it all away. Sigh. Still, like Halloween, Black Christmas, and The Thing, it is required viewing for anyone wanting to learn about horror. A-. The minus is mainly because the first hour of the film is pretty useless.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Serenity (2019) Quiz

I think my years of living off the grid and drinking massive amounts of run on Plymouth island has given me brain damage because I can’t remember a thing. Do you remember what happened in Serenity (2019)?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) In the beginning of the film McConaughey is out fishing with some tourists. When one of the rods gets a nibble McConaughey takes over, much to the chagrin of his paying customers. Why does he take it over?

2) Might as well get this over with: Where is Plymouth Island located?

3) What three ways do we see McConaughey make money during the course of the film?

4) What two gifts does he receive to help him catch the giant tuna Justice?

5) Oh yeah, the plot of the film … McConaughey is asked to kill his ex-wife’s abusive husband. How much would he be paid to complete this task, and why is this person so rich and powerful?

Answers

Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III Quiz

Hmmmmm. I remember getting captured by a cannibal family, and then getting a series of light concussions from a nearly-dead old man trying to hit me in the head with a hammer. Do you remember what happened in Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) At a creepy gas station our heroes Michelle and Ryan are accosted by the creepy attendant and saved by the handsome Tex. After witnessing Tex getting shot, Ryan insists they go down a back road. Why?

2) Soon after it becomes dark Michelle and Ryan crash their car into Benny, a gun-loving militia man. What caused them to crash?

3) After getting split up from Michelle and Ryan, Benny meets another woman in the woods. Why is she wandering around the swampy backwater?

4) Michelle and Ryan, unfortunately, are captured by a psychotic cannibal family. Can you name the people in the family?

5) Who survives the whole ordeal, both the good and bad guys we’ve met throughout?

Answers