Whiteout Recap

Jamie

Carrie Stetko is a US Marshall assigned to an Antarctic scientific base. She’s ready to retire after serving out her time in the remote outpost, but just before the base closes for the winter she is confronted by a murder. Soon everyone is a suspect and a storm is closing in. Can she solve the case and take down the bad guy before it’s too late? Find out in… Whiteout.

How?! Carrie Stetko is a US Marshall whose heart is just not in it since a tragic incident earlier in her career. She has isolated herself by taking an assignment in Antarctica, but with another dark winter (and inopportune major storm) on the horizon, she’s decided to retire. That is until a dead body (literally) falls out of the sky. Tracking down where this body came from she starts to piece together a crazy situation involving a remote research outpost and long missing Soviet diamonds. As she gets closer, with the help of a dashing UN security agent and a pilot, a killer starts after her trying to make sure the diamonds get on the last plane out of Antarctica and she doesn’t! She’s nearly stabbed, shot, and trapped in a plane buried in the snow, but this all only brings out the best in Carrie. It may be freezing outside, but suddenly she’s got the burning desire to solve crimes and take down the baddies. This all culminates in the capture and killing of one of the other pilots. But something doesn’t sit right when it turns out that that pilot unknowingly was trying to escape with a jar full of jellybeans instead of diamonds. Saboteur! There must be a co-conspirator. Look no further than Carrie’s own friend, Dr. Fury. He admits to the crime and decides to end his own life by walking into the storm rather than be arrested. Flash forward to where Carrie has rescinded her resignation and is ready for some new assignments. Am I smelling a sequel? (hint: I’m not). THE END.

Why?! There is a little juice to Carrie’s motivation (besides crushing crime and subduing criminals left and right). That’s because she lacks confidence and belief in herself ever since her partner betrayed her and she was forced to shoot him in the line of duty. So really she’s searching for herself and solving this crime is a way to prove to herself that she’s still got it. As for Dr. Fury, well he has a classic bad guy motivation. After years of low pay and a shit assignment in Antarctica he sees the diamonds as a way to finally get his in this unjust world. Unfortunately he didn’t account for the mega-sleuthing abilities of Carrie Stetko.

Who?! There really isn’t much to note for this so I will mostly just note my surprise that Gabriel Macht played a UN security agent in the film. Back in the 80’s and 90’s the UN showed up in a lot of action films as a global body of incredible power, often dictating exactly how the world is to respond to an international disaster. Which is funny. Case in point, Street Fighter where JCVD plays Guile, no longer in the Air Force but rather part of the U.N… OK, fine, he’s part of the A.N., but it’s the same thing. Get off my back.

What?! There is a lot of food talk in this film given that the people at the base can’t ever leave, so variety seems limited. I’m sure there are some interesting products throughout the film along those lines, but the only one I remember is the fact that when they crack open the case that’s supposed to contain the diamonds they just find a bunch of what are clearly Jelly Belly’s. They really should have had one of the characters pick one up, pop it in their mouth and then spit it out and say with a grimace “black licorice.” Would have really brought it home.

Where?! Antarctica, baby, with a little flashback to Miami. If we were to make a mapl.de.map for BMT films that truly embodied a location then I think this might beat out AvP. AvP being set in Antarctica is just some weird shit. This, though, is ‘Artica (as the kids call it) through and through. In fact… this probably should have been called Antarctica and gotten the full A+. Missed opportunity. A.When?! Interesting exact date on this guy. Kate Beckinsale hacks into the mainframe and checks some flight logs for the day she thinks the original body would have been dumped (which have been *gasp* erased). The day in question? Right around Valentine’s Day! Is this a Super Secret Holiday Film Alert? Seems so. Although a previous scene suggests that it might be early March (which kinda makes more sense for when the researchers would have to leave the base for the winter) so methinks that not everyone was on the same page for this one. B.

I swear when I started this film my mind began to chant “It’s not that bad” in hot anticipation. I was digging the vibe and I was ready for them to bring it home in a freezing hot climax that would knock the socks off of BMT. Unfortunately they couldn’t do it and it fell apart in the face of a ludicrously predictable ending. I was ready to forgive the consistently terrible acting as long as it could land the finale. Alas, it was not to be. That stumble alone kinda took it right into nomansland when it comes to BMT. It’s good enough to imagine throwing on the TV, but bad enough that I would never recommend it to someone. And not really BMT in any way (unless people find it funny to know who the killer is about 1/6th of the way through a film). As for Black Eagle, I was really surprised at how competent the otherwise poorly regarded martial arts film was. Usually those types of films can end up quite boring when they fall flat. And the IMDb score certainly made me think that it would. But I really didn’t mind watching it at all. Add in a genuinely interesting (and dare I say good?) bad guy role for Jean Claude Van Damme and I think I actually would recommend the film to people. JCVD should have been a bad guy more often. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! When you want those thrillz, but you also need those chillz, but like, in a cooooool Antarctica way, who you gonna call? That’s right, super cool (literally) U.S. Marshal Kate Beckinsale. Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – As a rare film set in Antarctica this was always on our radar. Otherwise I literally knew nothing about it going in which was fun. I could have guessed it was about thrills and chills as a murderer strikes in Antarctica, but I couldn’t have named anything about it. As a matter of fact I was pretty shocked to learn they were legit at the actual South Pole! That’s fun. What were my expectations? Thrillz. In reality my expectations were that it was going to be a generic thriller. It turns out that screenwriters exhausted all possibilities for thrillers by 2002 … that’s a joke, but sometimes it feels that way.

The Good – The setting does, in fact, work wonders for the film. Ends up being super spooky, and allows for real danger in the simple act of investigation. That is something taken for granted in a normal crime thriller, the hero who has enough brains and gumption to solve the case. Here, you have to have brains, gumption, and a healthy dose of self-preservation. That’s pretty cool. Spoilies, but it is also rather excellent that they took the risk to have the protagonist lose two of her fingers to frostbite in the film. It left a solid sense of the consequences hanging over the murders that Beckinsale gets saddled with on her last day at the South Pole (she’s about to retire! Amazing that that trope is actually used here). Best Bit – Antarctica setting.

The Bad – This film is an incredibly generic thriller. If not for that I think I might have gone with it being a true It’s-Not-That-Bad BMT film. A psychologically broken woman about to quit the force catches one last case, the masked murderer hunts her in an effort to hide his crimes, it turns out a good friend was involved the whole time. Yeah, that might be the storyline in about a dozen major films, and countless cheesy police procedurals by 2004. It completely sinks the film since understandably the entire thing becomes hopelessly predictable. There are only ever two possible suspects! At least some of this is likely because it is based on a graphic novel, but that isn’t really an excuse. Fatal Flaw – Generic.

The BMT – I think the only real record this will have in the history of BMT is that it is set in Antarctica. But to be honest, if this ended up being on randomly when I was chilling with some friends on a lazy Saturday afternoon or something? Yeah, maybe I leave it on? It is pretty fun in the end, kind of like the first Alex Cross film (Kiss the Girls), the performances and setting is just good enough to be really fun I think. Did it meet my expectations? Sadly I suppose, yes. It was as generic as one would have expected. Which is too bad because it isn’t nearly as bad as one might think, a normal generic thriller.

Roast-radamus – Definitely a strong Product Placement (What?) with the cold weather gear being used. In particular there are plenty of Northface all over this film. Huuuuuuuge Setting as a Character (Where?) for Antarctica. In some ways you could argue the real murderer was Mother Nature and the continent of Antarctica … one could argue that. Great Super Secret Holiday Film (When?) for Valentine’s Day! There is a shot where it pretty clearly indicates that it is either February 14th or 15th in 2007 (if the days are to be believed). Had to be intentional. Solid MacGuffin (Why?) in that there is a whole preamble set during the Cold War concerning a mysterious downed Russian airplane, which ultimately results in a bounty of diamonds that kicks off the murders. And finally a very bad Worst Twist (How?) for the “reveal” that the murderer’s accomplice is none other (and inevitably) Beckinsale’s doctor friend played by Tom Skerritt. That is an incredible set of superlatives, and I think it has an okay shot at the Good award as well in my opinion.

StreetCreditReport.com – Interesting this is very much not the worst film set in Antarctica as I would say Alien vs. Predator takes that crown … while looking that up it has occurred to be that Alien vs. Predator also came out in 2004. That’s pretty weird. Antarctica ended up having a major thriller and horror film set there in 2004. I wonder if that was the moment that people realized they could do an entire film in CGI for the backgrounds, and thus setting a film in Antarctica became feasible. Also weird because both were based on graphic novels, although it seems like the Alien vs. Predator comics weren’t set in Antarctica. Anyways, not much cred, just an amazing coincidence.

Bring a Friend Analysis – In a white/black motif, we watched Black Eagle alongside Whiteout this week. One of the first Van Damme films. So early in his career he was still playing the bad guy (Bloodsport was released about a month prior to this which obviously made him into a leading man). I’m genuinely shocked at the reception for this film. It isn’t good by any measure, but it has like a 3.8 on IMDb which is incredibly low. I thought Van Damme was actually really good in the film. And the storyline, in real James Bond spy convolution, is complicated, and yet this terrible direct-to-video film manages to keep the events relatively coherent. The cons for the film are basically that Shō Kosugi has a lot of trouble with English. It could have used a dub I think. I don’t think it is a good film, but I think for a martial arts spy film … it’s better than Gymkata right?! So I don’t really get the rating. The film is a bit too boring to recommend beyond for those looking to complete Van Damme’s filmography. C+, a bit too boring, but is a fine martial arts spy film I think.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Whiteout Quiz

Uh oh. I was a down and out U.S. Marshal stationed at the South Pole and I am ready for a holiday (I tell you what). Unfortunately there’s a killer on the loose, and he bopped me on the head with an ice ax (how am I not dead?) and I can’t remember a thing. Do you remember what happened in Whiteout?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) We open with our hero Carrie taking a shower and talking to her best bud Dr. Fury. Why is this a very very special day for Carrie and Fury?

2) What is the reason Carrie came to the South Pole? Bonus points if you can explain vaguely why Dr. Fury is there.

3) They soon meet up with Robert Pryce while investigating (spoilees) missing diamonds from a crashed Russian Cold War aircraft. Who does Robert Pryce work for?

4) How did Carrie lose two fingers during the film?

5) Ultimately who is the culprits and what were their motivations and plan and what happens to them?

Answers

Whiteout Preview

As the monsters descend to the beautiful (not creepy) lagoon it becomes clear that they are gigantic super soldiers from General Tiniman’s army. They are outgunned and outmatched and this is where their journey will end. They hug Rio and pat Bessy on the head. They reminisce about all the fun times they had. “Remember that time we karate chopped the President in the neck?” Rich says, “and it turned out he wasn’t even a robot,” he recalls and oh boy how they laugh. Back in the real world Rich has a wife and six wonderful children. Poe has a very solid collection of old books. But most importantly they have love. Rich and Poe nod and go in for one final Predator high five. But this isn’t a time for high fives. This is a time for hugs. With tears in their eyes, they bro hug it out. Suddenly Poe is blasted away from Rich as the beam of light shoots forth once more from his chest. Screaming in pain from the quickening he is experiencing, Rich watches in joyful horror as it destroys all the foes in front of them. No matter how advanced their super armor is, the power of love emanating from Rich’s chest destroys it. The power is so great… unstoppable. Almost as if… and in that moment Rich realizes what is happening. A chill runs down his spine. So long ago, when they destroyed the Obsidian Dongle. When they made the universe whole once more. It was never destroyed. It lay in wait, embedded in the body of Rich. It brought them to Nic Cage. It brought them to this tournament. It is the ultimate prize. They are the ultimate prize. They are fighting for themselves. And with that thought everything goes white. That’s right! We’re watching Whiteout starring Kate Beckinsale. I feel like this has always been on the horizon as there is always room for another Antarctica film in BMT. This one won’t beat out AvP and its bullshit Predator-Human collaboration, but it’ll give it a shot. Let’s go!

One man takes out several guards with his bionic karate chops while the other does a patented Robot Split and takes out several more. Their prize is so close… their revenge. “Eagle has fallen, eagle has fallen!” one of the guards screams watching in horror as the men approach. They smile and then everything goes black. That’s right! We’re bringing along Black Eagle as a friend for this one. It’s a classic martial arts film from the 80’s which also features Van Damme as a bad guy and is set in Malta! What fun. Let’s go!

Whiteout (2009) – BMeTric: 47.0; Notability: 29 

(Pretty low actually. I’m always surprised when these smallish films, films I kind of barely remember existing, seem to get pretty thoroughly trounced on IMDb. I just imagine in my mind that there would be super fans of some kind flooding the ratings … but nope, hit mid-5.0 hard and hasn’t budged in years.)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars –  Good-looking but paper-thin thriller involving U.S. marshal Beckinsale, stationed in Antarctica, who struggles to exorcise her demons while investigating some gruesome killings. Even though her character is constantly in danger, Beckinsale is always perfectly coiffed; early on, she even peels off her clothes to take a steamy shower. Only in the movies … Based on a graphic novel by Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber.

(Only in the movies indeed! Very interesting he gave it what I would say is a pretty decent review? Like two stars doesn’t seem so bad. Maybe there is something salvageable from it after all.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqxjF9qR5Cg/

(Pretty intense actually. Honestly the CGI looks like garbage, and it looks like a rote thriller, but the setting is interesting.)

Directors – Dominic Sena – (Known For: Kalifornia; BMT: Season of the Witch; Whiteout; Gone in Sixty Seconds; Swordfish; Notes: Won a Grammy for Best Music Video (Long Form) for the Janet Jackson song Rhythm Nation 1814. We have officially completed his BMT filmography, and I think he retired from directing in 2011.)

Writers – Erich Hoeber and Jon Hoeber (screenplay) – (Known For: The Meg; My Spy; RED; RED 2; BMT: Whiteout; Battleship; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Battleship in 2013; Notes: They are writing a live-action Naruto film (not a good idea). They are also tagged to write the sequel to The Meg. They are brothers.)

Chad Hayes and Carey W. Hayes(screenplay) – (Known For: The Conjuring; The Conjuring 2; Future BMT: House of Wax; The Turning; The Reaping; The Crucifixion; BMT: Whiteout; Notes: Twin brothers. Amazingly they wrote ten episodes of Baywatch Nights, the straight crime-drama spin off of Baywatch. They have been tapped to write the Die Hard prequel McClane. They were non-theatrical all-stars in the late-90s, and somehow transitioned back to wide releases in the 2000s.)

Greg Rucka (graphic novel) – (Known For: Wonder Woman: Bloodlines; BMT: Whiteout; Notes: Wrote Stumptown which has been adapted into a television show starring Colby Smulders. His graphic novel Queen & Country is being adapted into a film by Ridley Scott.)

Steve Lieber (graphic novel) – (BMT: Whiteout; Notes: An illustrator. He also illustrated the sequel novel Whiteout: Melt. There was supposed to be a Whiteout: Thaw, but I don’t believe it was ever released.)

Actors – Kate Beckinsale – (Known For: The Aviator; Contraband; Much Ado About Nothing; Serendipity; Eliza Graves; Vacancy; Love & Friendship; Laurel Canyon; Farming; Everybody’s Fine; The Last Days of Disco; Haunted; Snow Angels; Fragments; The Golden Bowl; Shooting Fish; Future BMT: The Disappointments Room; The Face of an Angel; Underworld: Blood Wars; Absolutely Anything; Van Helsing; Pearl Harbor; Total Recall; Click; Underworld Awakening; The Only Living Boy in New York; Underworld: Rise of the Lycans; Brokedown Palace; Underworld: Evolution; Underworld; BMT: Whiteout; Tiptoes; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screen Couple for Pearl Harbor in 2002; Notes: Voiced Queen Aryenn in multiple Elder Scrolls games. Had a child with Michael Sheen in 1999.)

Gabriel Macht – (Known For: Love & Other Drugs; The Good Shepherd; The Recruit; The Object of My Affection; A Love Song for Bobby Long; Grand Theft Parsons; The Adventures of Sebastian Cole; A Bag of Hammers; Future BMT: The Spirit; Simply Irresistible; Bad Company; Middle Men; BMT: Whiteout; Because I Said So; American Outlaws; Behind Enemy Lines; Notes: Most famous for his role as Harvey Specter in the show Suits. This film came out right in that brief moment where he was a genuine movie star.)

Tom Skerritt – (Known For: Top Gun; Alien; Steel Magnolias; Ted; Contact; The Dead Zone; A River Runs Through It; M.A.S.H.; Up in Smoke; Harold and Maude; SpaceCamp; Singles; Lucky; A Hologram for the King; Big Bad Mama; Smoke Signals; The Turning Point; At Middleton; Ice Castles; The Big Town; Future BMT: Poltergeist III; Poison Ivy; The Rookie; The Devil’s Rain; Beer for My Horses; Knight Moves; Tears of the Sun; The Other Sister; Fighting Back; BMT: Whiteout; Texas Rangers; Notes: Nominated for two Emmys for his role in Picket Fences. This film is his last leading role in a wide release film.)

Budget/Gross – $35,000,000 / Domestic: $10,275,638 (Worldwide: $17,976,667)

(Yeah not great. The budget at least makes sense. They definitely had to build something that looked vaguely like the South Pole station. There is only so much smoke and mirrors you can pull off with blue screen and stagecraft.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 7% (8/115): Kate Beckinsale is as lovely as ever, and does her best with the material, but moribund pacing and an uninspired plot leave Whiteout in the cold.

(The reviews kind of outline the problem with most 00s thrillers don’t they? Bad plotting, bad twists, no thrillz. It seems like there was a streak of weird thrillers based around a poorly thought out twist, or just a book (in this case a graphic novel) which doesn’t adapt well. That was the issue with the (frankly cheesy) Alex Cross books. Reviewer Highlight: Even in a whiteout, you can see the plot twists coming. – Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)

Poster – Chillz

(Artistic and does its job pretty well. While I don’t understand the font they’ve chosen, I still appreciate it. I guess the only question is whether going all in on “Kate Beckinsale vehicle” was the best move or if they should have highlighted something else. Because that’s really the only story you get. B+)

Tagline(s) – See Your Last Breath. (A-)

(Huh… I think… I think I might like this. Telling me about the danger. Telling me about the cold. Short and sweet and a little bit of a twist on the phrase “Take Your Last Breath.” I dig it. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty solid.)

Keyword – antarctica

Top 10: Watchmen (2009), Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), The Thing (1982), Madagascar (2005), The Day After Tomorrow (2004), The Thing (2011), AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004), Happy Feet (2006), Good Luck Chuck (2007), Minions (2015)

Future BMT: 64.7 Norm of the North (2016), 42.3 The Brothers Solomon (2007), 27.2 The Thing (2011), 25.6 The Pebble and the Penguin (1995);

BMT: AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004), Good Luck Chuck (2007), Whiteout (2009)

(Amazing that we’ve seen three films either set in Antarctica or with plot elements concerning Antarctica. I genuinely believe such films boomed in the 00s because that was when juuuuust enough cheap CGI was available to make it look … fine, without having to set it inside or at night most of the time. Oddly, the only really good movie of the bunch is The Thing and that was made long before cheap CGI. Huh.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 17) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Kate Beckinsale is No. 1 billed in Whiteout and No. 4 billed in Tiptoes, which also stars Gary Oldman (No. 1 billed) who is in Lost in Space (No. 1 billed), which also stars Heather Graham (No. 5 billed) who is in Say It Isn’t So (No. 2 billed), which also stars Chris Klein (No. 1 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 2 billed) => 1 + 4 + 1 + 1 + 5 + 2 + 1 + 2 = 17. If we were to watch Pearl Harbor we can get the HoE Number down to 9.

Notes – Dominic Sena is a fan of the “Whiteout” graphic novel, and when rights were acquired by Dark Castle Entertainment Sena petitioned president Joel Silver for the opportunity to direct. (Oh snap, this is based on a graphic novel? That’s … a bit surprising considering the reviews)

Warner Bros. shelved the film for about two years, according to Entertainment Weekly (Issue #1085). (Whaaaaaaaaaaa?)

Screenwriter and novelist Alexander Stuart wrote an early draft of the script, while Reese Witherspoon was still attached, following a studio-sponsored research trip to Barrow, Alaska (the northernmost point in continental North America) – which scientists said was the closest location in “feel” to McMurdo Station in Antarctica. (Could have been cool)

The British Flag in the Communications room is hanging upside down. This is an inside joke common among South Pole installations. Since they are at the bottom of the world, if you were to look at the globe proper, the flag would appear to be right side up.

Both real and fake snow were used in production. (There was too much of it at times for it to be fake I think. I have to imagine they breathed in a crazy amount of it by accident)

Ed Recap

Jamie

Jack ‘Deuce’ Cooper is a flamethrowing single A baseball prospect walking a fine line between getting cut or making the big leagues. The coach knows he needs a boost so puts him in charge of the baseball playing chimpanzee mascot named Ed! Can Jack find his confidence, save Ed, get the girl, and take down the eeeevil team owner’s son before it’s too late? Find out in… Ed.

How?! Discovered throwing heat on his Oregon farm, Jack ‘Deuce’ Cooper is shipped off to single A ball to see if he can make it big. Unfortunately he isn’t having much fun playing baseball while he works out the kinks in his curveball. Knowing that Jack needs to loosen up a bit, the coach puts him in charge of taking care of the teams new mascot, a baseball playing chimpanzee cooked up as a gimmick by the smarmy owner’s son. In a big surprise to everyone this chimpanzee named Ed is not only incredibly smart (suspiciously so, even), but plays third base like… you know… Mike Schmidt or something. Not only does the team go on a big ol’ winning streak thanks to both Ed and the confidence he instills in Jack, but he also starts a major friendship with Jack and helps him in all kinds of ways. Most importantly he encourages him to ask out his neighbor and even plays babysitter for the neighbor’s daughter while Jack takes her out on a date (this is obviously a terrible parenting mistake, but we’ll let it slide). Unfortunately on the cusp of The Big Game, the smarmy owner’s son decides it’s time to cash in on Ed and sells him to the highest bidder. Everyone is super sad, but Jack makes the decision to risk making the start at The Big Game in order to go and save Ed. In the zany chase that ensues, Ed is trapped in a frozen banana truck and nearly perishes. Sad and concerned, Jack still makes the start and is able to get his team one batter away from winning The Big Game. Just as he’s about to (probably) totally blow it, Ed shows up at the game, flashes the ‘deuce’ signal for the curve ball (not hiding the signs much there, guys), and Jack wins The Big Game. Everyone celebrates and Jack smooches his neighbor or something. THE END. Big Question: How many references is too many references to the dark racist past of baseball in a children’s film about a baseball playing chimpanzee (this film contends that there is no limit. I would say any more than zero is a mistake)

Why?! Interesting question. Jack really does seem to want to make the big leagues despite having apparently not played much competitive baseball. So… for the love of the game, I guess. Same for Ed, although he apparently can play single A because there aren’t any rules against it. I’m sure there would be rules by the time he’s making his way through AAA. The smarmy owner’s son just wants to make a quick buck by flipping a baseball playing chimpanzee he bought on the cheap. Turns out to actually be a pretty savvy business move.

Who?! In a bizarre cameo, Tommy Lasorda shows up at the end of Ed to watch Matt Leblanc throw a single curve ball and be like “we need to sign this kid to a big contract to play for the Dodgers!” Gotta say… not the best for Lasorda’s legacy in baseball. I mean, you gotta do a bit more scouting than that before throwing a contract at someone.

What?! There was some pretty obvious product placement in this that was used in the typical children’s film fashion. Ed drinks a bunch of Coke and burps to much laughter and applause, etc. I did like the made up product placement of Frosted Bananas, a company that deals exclusively in frozen bananas and is wildly popular in the Santa Rosa area. Not only is everyone bananas for Frosted Bananas, but there are enough trucks randomly driving around that Ed finds one to hop into during the climactic chase.

Where?! We open briefly in Oregon and spend the rest of the movie in California. While that is made very clear in the film, I’m pretty sure this could have taken place in any number of places in the United States. It actually would have been a great Cape Cod League set film given that Jack is kinda a country bumpkin and he could have gotten involved with a local rich girl… but also there is a chimpanzee there. But just California. Whatever. B.

When?! It seems very likely that this takes place in high summer and then concludes in the beginning of September during the minor league playoffs. While the team he plays for is not real, it makes sense that he is in the California League, which finishes the second week of September. C

This movie is really nuts. Every moment brought another gasp of surprise at what they might do next. Ed is unbelievably human-like for a chimpanzee, but the complete lack of surprise at this fact by everyone who interacts with him makes it seem like it all takes place in an alternate universe where chimpanzees are basically human beings that don’t talk. Even the way the team gets Ed is confusing… they keep calling him Mickey Mantle’s monkey. So… was he? Or is this a nickname because they already knew he was the greatest chimpanzee baseball player in history? It’s weird and at times unsettling. Add on that the chimpanzee babysits a child (horrifying) and that the entire film is a misguided allegory on America’s racist history (a mistake) and I’m not sure whether this is a great BMT film or a tragic mistake. As for MVP: Most Valuable Primate, it was almost more horrifying than Ed. It felt a little… exploitative I guess. Like the whole film is just a chimpanzee doing the wide (and I mean wide) array of tricks it was taught. It’s pouring coffee, it’s putting on glasses, it’s brushing its teeth. I will say, I enjoyed seeing the chimpanzee skate… like he actually skated on ice. It’s amazing! I did not enjoy watching several actors without disabilities playing characters with disabilities so overall more horrifying than Ed. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! If I made this film I would have called it This Ape is Playing Baseball, and That’s Crazy!! With a double exclamation point at the end because that’s how crazy it is. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I’ve definitely seen this film before a long long time ago. And at the time I must have been watching Friends, otherwise how would I have known who Matt LeBlanc was. Anyways, the only thing I remember well was the scene where Ed eats ice cream because it is super duper gross. That’s it. I am very interested to see how the ape animatronic/costume holds up over time. What are my expectations? Let’s get this straight: kids’ films are very rarely good BMT films. They are usually just a bunch of fart jokes and not much else. This is exactly what I expect it to be with a healthy dose of Matt LeBlanc being a bad actor.

The Good – The film is good natured enough. You have single mothers, you have young men just trying to make their way, you have a good-hearted coach, and a chimp that can play baseball. There isn’t really a B-story that kids can’t relate to, the B-story is about a single mother and her precocious kid … that’s relatable. Like Air Bud 2 that is the type of story some child of divorce I’m sure appreciated at the time. There were a thousand ways things could have gone worse. There could have been a whole weird story about the league not wanting Ed to play and the Rockets laying their jerseys down on the commissioners desk to say “Ed can play for me coach … er, commissioner I mean.” Or there could have been a story about the team not wanting to play with a chimp. Nope, just a lot of good-natured fun and fart jokes. What can you do, really?

The Bad – After that paragraph maybe you’d think there wasn’t much to complain about. Well, the animatronic / chimp actors are terrible. Ed is just large enough to be creepily too-human on screen. And everything the animatronic does, like getting disgusting not-ice-cream all over itself, is just weird and makes me feel uncomfortable. The baseball is ludicrous, although intentionally so. He throws 125MPH?! He would be called to the big leagues immediately. He’d be unhittable. Ed is also basically human. If Ed could exist there would be a huge push for animal rights because seriously … Ed has the intelligence of a full grown adult human being. Ed should have the right to vote. There would be huge questions about Ed being a slave! On second thought … let’s not get into some of the racial undertones of the film as a whole and just leave it there.

The BMT – I do think there is a lot more room for animal films in BMT. It feels like we haven’t seen a lot of them, like Larger than Life and Operation Dumbo Drop in particular. This is also pretty fascinating as a dying gasp for animatronics in film. Or at least it feels that way. Congo was the year before, and soon cheap CGI would replace the need for such expensive tricks. Did it meet my expectations? Weirdly LeBlanc was better than I expected, possibly because the people surrounding him were worse than I expected. The sheer lunacy of the entire affair helps, but mostly it is as expected. Fart jokes and not much else.

Roast-radamus – There is very good Coca-Cola Product Placement (What?) throughout the film. Ed is drinking both Diet Coke and Coca Cola (for real, he can’t tell the difference! That’s how delicious and refreshing Diet Coke is!) and he’s loving it. Also a very interesting Setting as a Character (Where?) for Santa Rosa, California, which is just north of San Francisco. This is somewhat important because it is specifically noted that LeBlanc’s character comes from Oregon and drives down at the start of the film. It feels like out of all the possibilities, the only superlative this has a chance at is Bad mainly because it is a kids’ film. But I guess we’ll just have to see what Jamie thinks of it.

StreetCreditReport.com – There are arguments that August 1996 was the worst month in movie history (I doubt it, but the arguments exist), so it isn’t surprising it got crowded out on yearly lists. But there isn’t really even lists for worst films starring animals. Those lists are almost always about talking animals specifically. You really have to go for Worst Sports Movie … and hoo boy does it make some lists. Both Ed and MVP (see next section) exist on this list! And because sports media loves making amusing youtube videos about weird sports movies: SB Nation did a whole video on Ed! That is a lot of sports movie cred … turns out by adding an animal to your sports movie you almost immediately make all adult sports fans hate it. Ed? More like crEd, amirite?

Bring a Friend Analysis – This week we sadly watched MVP: Most Valuable Primate as another sports playing chimpanzee film. It was a rather interesting contrast to Ed. Made by people who produced Air Bud (and with the same human star) it is, effectively, just a display of what you can train a chimpanzee to do. Make coffee, wear clothing, and astonishingly ice skate? Like legit this chimpanzee ice skates and roller blades! It is actually amazing. But also it is a step backward (the chimps are mostly shot in close up, nary an animatronic to be seen) and displays a bit of how straight-to-video animal kids’ films were going to operate in the future. Here they decided against the animatronic route because it was too expensive. Eventually people would decide training animals at all was too expensive because you eventually see untrained puppies being combined with CGI to create countless Christmas Puppy Adventures or whatever. Ed and MVP pairs well in showing how the industry evolved from the mid-to-late 90s into the 00s. Eventually films starring animals were almost completely relegated to VOD or animation. A Dog’s Journey was one of the last big releases and even that got itself into hot water with the treatment of trained animals. B+, the movie is a slog, but has enough interestingly weird production stuff to make the watch worthwhile (I didn’t mention just how Canadian the entire film is! It is very very Canadian).

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Ed Preview

Steve, Adrestia and Rich stand in a circle. Rich details the prophecy read to him by Brawln and Sorsaron about the portal that he and Poe must close to stop the gamemaster’s ultimate plan. “But then when we got here there was so much chaos that we more or less forgot. Our only idea was to quell the riots with a new salacious entry in the The Platonics Solids Series.” At that Adrestia and Steve look up shocked, “No,” they exclaim, “we need the riots as a distraction!” But before he can run to stop Poe and Det. Halloway, they come around the corner smiling from ear-to-ear. They smooch tenderly before showing off the last copy of The Platonic Solids Series Part II: Love on the Blocks. “Shit,” wails Steve in despair, “this book is lit. The gucci crowd is gonna love it!” Rich and Poe are despondent. Will this mean they’ll miss their only chance to close the portal? “We don’t have time to explore all the parts of this campus,” Poe thinks out loud. “No one could,” Rich follows. Suddenly everyone looks at Steve. “Or at least no person,” Poe says excitedly. Steve looks confused and then a light sparkles in his eye. “I get what you’re putting down,” and with that he gives a shrill whistle. A monstrous alligator bursts out of a nearby sewer in terrifying fashion, but Steve calmly pats it on the head and starts to speak softly, “They don’t call me Alligator Steve for nothing, mates. Perfect cover as there aren’t any rules against alligators playing middle school water polo.” With that he looks into Bessy’s eyes. “Remember, mate. Middle school,” and Bessy responds with a growl that sounds startlingly like “Extreme friendship.” That’s right! We’re taking a dive into the world of animal films by watching a classic of the animals-play-sports genre: Ed, starring Matt LeBlanc. It’s just a simple tale of a small town boy trying to make it to the big leagues… and also a chimpanzee is on the team.

The man stares into the mirror at his face. A robot arm comes up and prods the new flesh. Nearby another man marvels at his robot legs. “Heh heh… Just call me MVP,” he says. “Most Valuable Prosthetics,” the other replies and they cackle with glee. That’s right! As a Bring a Friend companion we are going to rot our brains by consuming MVP: Most Valuable Primate… at least it isn’t Most Vertical or Extreme Primate. Not sure I could have handled that shit. Let’s go!

Ed (1996) – BMeTric: 65.4; Notability: 30 

EdIMDb_BMeT

EdIMDb_RV

(Holy crap that rating is so low. Completely makes up for the fact that less than 10K people have bothered to rate it on IMDb. And the Notability of 30 is kind of crazy. Possibly it is due to a bunch of baseball people being involved in various parts of the production and cameos and stuff? Who knows. This seems like a legendarily bad kids film though.)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars –  Nervous pitcher getting his big break on a minor-league baseball team becomes roommate with the club’s new third baseman: a full-grown chimpanzee. Uninspired vehicle for Friends star LeBlanc (and Hollywood debut for award-winning documentary director Couturie). Strikes out as a warm family comedy, though younger viewers may be amused.

(Sounds about right. It is bizarre just how big the film seems given just how dull the storyline seems. Something was really happening in the mid-90s. It seems like a bunch of production companies were flailing about with different niche genres to try and make money.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InqDF8ImCgU/

(Man I remember this trailer! Let’s see, I was like 10 at the time. I remember seeing the film, but I imagine I just caught it randomly on cable at some point after. But who knows, we were decent Friends fans so we might have rented it. I also remember the ice cream scene being disgusting.)

Directors – Bill Couturié – (BMT: Ed; Notes: A documentary filmmaker of some acclaim, winning the oscar in 1989 for best documentary about the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Him and Ken Richards I think might be partners of some kind as they’ve done multiple documentaries together.)

Writers – Ken Richards (story) – (BMT: Ed; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Ed in 1997; Notes: Has only done documentaries besides getting credited for this. He has a few about the life of a soldier in war from both wars in Iraq.)

Janus Cercone (story) – (Known For: Leap of Faith; BMT: Ed; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Ed in 1997; Notes: He wrote the book for the Leap of Faith musical adaptation as well.)

David Mickey Evans (screenplay) (as David M. Evans) – (Known For: The Sandlot Kids; BMT: Ed; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Ed in 1997; Notes: He’s uncredited as the writer of Radio Flyer, but he apparently wrote it initially and sold it for over a million dollars. He also sold The Sandlot for a lot, and has written the sequels as well.)

Actors – Matt LeBlanc – (Known For: Charlie’s Angels; Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle; Future BMT: All the Queen’s Men; Lovesick; BMT: Ed; Lost in Space; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst New Star in 1997 for Ed, Mother, She’s the One, and The Pallbearer; and Nominee for Worst Screen Couple for Ed in 1997; Notes: You know him as Joey from Friends. I know him as Don West in Lost in Space. The first of two major film roles he would have, he mostly has always done television including Episodes.)

Jayne Brook – (Known For: Kindergarten Cop; Gattaca; Future BMT: Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead; Last Dance; Clean Slate; BMT: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace; Ed; Bye Bye Love; Notes: Also mostly television including a major role in Star Trek: Discovery. She did bit parts mostly, this was her only starring role.)

Jim Caviezal – (Known For: The Passion of the Christ; The Rock; The Count of Monte Cristo; Escape Plan; The Thin Red Line; Wyatt Earp; Deja Vu; My Own Private Idaho; Frequency; G.I. Jane; The Ballad of Lefty Brown; Paul, Apostle of Christ; Ride with the Devil; The Stoning of Soraya M.; Midnight Sting; Transit; Future BMT: Ed; Angel Eyes; Long Weekend; Highwaymen; Outlander; The Final Cut; Blue Chips; High Crimes; Unknown; When the Game Stands Tall; Savannah; Notes: Has maintained that his star has faded partially due to his strong religious beliefs (part of why he took the role of Jesus in The Passion of the Christ). He was a genuine movie star from around 2000-2010, but now he kind of seems to do religious films mostly.)

Budget/Gross – $24 million / Domestic: $4,422,380 (Worldwide: $4,422,380)

(How could that budget possibly be right? I guess the animatronic chimpanzee would be pretty expensive … but for real could that possibly be right? That is more than Air Bud made. There has to be some nonsense accounting in there, there is no way anyone thinks Ed is going to make like $50 million.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 0% (0/16)

(Wow! A true blue zero-percenter! We haven’t seen one of those in years. Let’s write a consensus: Will only amuse the under-10 year old crowd, otherwise it is an unadventurous bore. Reviewer Highlight: Mr. LeBlanc … is so blank that the only impression he makes is of having teeth that are very large and unnaturally white. – Stephen Holden, New York Times)

Poster – Ape-mazing!: The Jack Cooper Story (C)

ed

(There’s something beautiful and yet sad about this poster. I want to paint it and then destroy the painting. Seriously, though, there is something actually artistic in how things are spaced in the poster and some nice red theme… those two things claw it back to a C rating. Patrick’s Shallow Fake: I think I’m getting a bit better at putting my face into poor quality posters. The poor quality also helped in that I didn’t have to worry too much about removing that giant Ed title and getting the grass “just right”.)

Tagline(s) – Minor league. Major friendship. (A+)

(Probably one of the best taglines I’ve come across. I mean… it’s near perfection. The only critique is that you don’t necessarily get a sense that it’s about a chimpanzee, but who cares? Major friendship? Sign me up.)

Keyword – baseball movie

Ed_baseball movie

Top 10: Major League (1989), Moneyball (2011), A League of Their Own (1992), The Sandlot Kids (1993), The Natural (1984), Rookie of the Year (1993), The Perfect Catch (2005), Field of Dreams (1989), Bull Durham (1988), The Rookie (2002)

Future BMT: 50.7 Major League: Back to the Minors (1998), 34.7 The Fan (1996), 32.7 The Scout (1994), 29.1 Rookie of the Year (1993), 27.0 Angels in the Outfield (1994), 23.9 Mr. Baseball (1992), 21.5 Little Big League (1994), 18.6 The Slugger’s Wife (1985), 6.7 The Final Season (2007);

BMT: The Benchwarmers (2006), Ed (1996)

(Oh wow, only our second one. Honestly the weirdest bit is how consistent baseball movies have always been. They’ve completely disappeared recently … but maybe all sports movies have moved to VOD? I’m trying to think of the last baseball or football movie I’ve seen go to theaters. That was the Affleck basketball movie. It does seem like maybe “sports” movies are getting to be smaller affairs. I’m excited to watch The Fan and Mr. Baseball since I haven’t seen those before.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 14) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Matt LeBlanc is No. 1 billed in Ed and No. 3 billed in Lost in Space, which also stars Heather Graham (No. 5 billed) who is in Say It Isn’t So (No. 2 billed), which also stars Chris Klein (No. 1 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 2 billed) => 1 + 3 + 5 + 2 + 1 + 2 = 14. There is no shorter path at the moment.

Notes – Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc’s co-star from Friends (1994), was considered for the lead role. (He ended up being a movie star for a bit in the late 90s and early 00s. He genuinely had never starred in a wide release film until Fools Rush In in 1997, so he might have actually done it if he got it)

Ed watches an episode of Friends (1994), the show that made Matt LeBlanc a star. The scene he watches features Marcel, the pet monkey of one of the characters.

Ed, the chimp, is actually “just a guy in a suit” (according to Matt Leblanc), with a mechanically controlled head. That head made so much noise that all the dialogue in the scenes which included the “chimp” had to be re-dubbed in post-production.

Texas Rangers second baseman Mark McLemore, long time friend of Matt LeBlanc, spent time during off season teaching LeBlanc how to look and play like a major league baseball player.

Awards – Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Picture (Rosalie Swedlin, 1997)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Screen Couple (Matt LeBlanc, 1997)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (David Mickey Evans, Ken Richards, Janus Cercone, 1997)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst New Star (Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer, 1997)

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