The Postman Recap

Jamie

In the dystopian future of 2013 a wandering actor escapes from the clutches of a militaristic dictator and dons the guise of a mailman in order to gain access to local communities. His ruse inadvertently spurs a revolution and thus the ire of the dictator. Can he realize his destiny as a leader, defeat the dictator, and perhaps find love before it’s too late? Find out in… The Postman.

How?! Wandering across the West following a devastating disaster that has left the United States in a dystopian ruin, an actor uses his (meager) skills to get food. While performing in a town he is taken captive by a military dictator who leads a group called The Holnists. There he is told that he better be all cool with their way of life and there are a bunch of rules including one where the leader of the Holnists is whoever can defeat their leader in hand-to-hand combat. But don’t even worry about that because you’ll never defeat their leader played by Will Patton… wait… is that right?… Will Patton? Anyway, our actor hero is like “no way” and is able to escape. Finding shelter in a mail delivery truck he gets an idea and dresses up in a postman uniform. This uniform turns out to be magic and he becomes our hero The Postman, a man so powerful that he might just be able to beat up a middle-aged Will Patton (spoiler alert… also not all facts in recap are true). The minute people see this dude in a postal uniform they are super jazzed and he’s hailed as a hero. Literally women throw themselves at him and he totally bones the beautiful Abby as her request to get her pregnant with his powerful postman babies. While visiting the next town (and actually delivering letters) the Holnists catch up and blow everything up. The Postman is able to escape with Abby and they hide in the mountains and recover from their injures. Coming down from the mountains, they are surprised to find that a movement of Postmen has started and are bringing hope of a new United States. The Postman takes this movement over, but eventually after the death of several people he cares for he decides to disband it. Trying to get Abby to safety he finds that everyone he meets is super inspired by him and he realizes that perhaps his movement isn’t based on a pile of lies after all and once again he dons his Postman cape and collects an army. They ride to confront the Holnists, but he’s like “remember your rulez?” and challenges Will Patton. They tussle like a couple of dopes on the ground until The Postman prevails and unites everyone under the flag of The Postman. THE END.

Why?! Ah, one of the rare cases where the motivations of the hero are more interesting and complex than the bad guy. The dictator is just evil and insane and honestly doesn’t even look like he works out much, bro, so not sure why no one has come along and crushed him in hand-to-hand combat yet. The Postman on the other hand just wants a hot meal every once in a while, thus the reason he becomes a postman. He’s pretty cynical about the meaning of the movement this creates and tries to stop it couple times. It’s only at the end that he realizes that the world can be better (and not just in the tall tales he tells) and that he can lead the country back to unity. It brings a tear to my eye just thinking about it… it’s just… just so boring.

Who?! All of Costner’s children appear in the film, including Annie who appears in a not small role as *checks imdb* Ponytail… that was her name apparently. Anyway, I thought she was actually OK in the role and a little surprised she hasn’t acted a bit more. Only odd bit was where her character seems like she wants to bone The Postman at a local dance. It’s weird not just because he’s a million years old but also because he’s portrayed by her dad. The singer Tom Petty also appears as the Mayor of Bridge Town and it’s a super weird performance. Really subdued. Doesn’t really seem all that comfortable acting.

What?! A number of articles online point out that the film acts as a pretty intense example of product placement for the USPS. Obviously had to be in the film because it was the basis of the books, but it is funny to think that it got an entire epic war drama devoted to it. The mere idea of delivering mail is the impetus for breaking away from a literal dystopia to found a new United States of America. Nuts. As for props I was specifically interested in whether the giant Kevin Costner statue shown at the end was ever for sale. The answer: yes, obviously. $610 at the time. Not bad. I also found a picture posted by the guy who owns it where it’s sitting in his garage next to his car. Weird and wild stuff.

Where?! We had considered this at one time for the Oregon entry of our mapl.de.map. Would have been a pretty good choice seeing as we get multiple intertitles telling us that that’s where we are. All in all I liked how the setting was used. B+.

When?! Takes place in the far future of 2013. It never gets old for a film to be set in a year that has already passed. Ages like a fine wine. Getting more specific is difficult. Presumably the film opens in the late summer or fall and then the middle takes place as Costner gets trapped in the mountains in the winter. After the thaw it seems to proceed fairly quickly to the climactic battle, so everything seems to occur over one year. However if they told me that it actually took place over a five year period I wouldn’t be surprised. Took me about that long to watch. A-yo. B-.

This movie is real long (read: boring) and can be separated into three pieces. I thought the first was fine or whatever… kinda sad. The second, where The Postman and Abby were recovering in the mountains, I thought was actually pretty good and reminded me of a traditional western. The third was actually quite bad. Unfortunately that third part dominated the film and just had a bunch of actors smiling at The Postman like he delivered rainbows and unicorns to them. They couldn’t get enough of this dude and how he delivered mail. It was unsettling. I love inspiring, sugar sweet movies (I am a red-blooded human person after all), but this was too much. I felt like they were waiting for the audience to stand up and applaud for two hours straight. Tone it down, Costner. We get it, you’re a hero. Patrick?

Patrick 

‘Ello everyone! There are only so many “The Postman is long and boring” jokes you can make before they feel trite, but I still think I got a solid dozen more available to me no prob. The Postman is so long and boring Rip Van Winkle was like “wow, this movie needs an editor!”. Heeeeeyooooooo. Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – I’ve never seen Robin Hood, or Dances with Wolves. I liked Waterworld well enough. Basically I had never really seen the Costner Classics. I liked him in Field of Dreams and such. But what I’m getting at it this: This is a Costner vehicle known for being long and boring, so I kind of knew what to expect going in … a Costner vehicle that was long and boring. And yet I was kind of excited because I hadn’t actually seen that many Costner vehicles. That’s all.

The Good – Most of the story is solid. You can definitely imagine the book (which, sadly, I didn’t read beforehand) being extremely good. If you don’t mind the cheesiness the film can deliver what is a pretty simple but good-hearted message to the people: believe in yourself, each others, and the goodness of man and you can change the world, you can make it better.

The Bad – The movie is two films kind of smooshed together. There is a war film in which a drifter is absorbed into a dictator’s army and reluctantly leads a rebellion against him. And then, about 40 minutes into the film he finds a postman outfit ( I forgot that was what the movie was about while I was watching the beginning, no joke) and there is this second film stuck right in the middle in which he kind of wanders around being a fake postman and being shot up and ill in the woods. I think the middle part is more interesting, and the entire beginning should have be cut. You can have the run in with the army being the instigating event without then spending thirty minutes with him joining the army. I don’t care that they would have to explain why Costner can challenge Will Patton to a fight, hell, they can merely explain that he was part of the army at one point in time, it doesn’t matter, it is more important that this movie be 30 minutes shorter than it is. Because it is long and boring.

The BMT – I would never watch the film again, nor recommend it as a bad movie. It is the perfect storm of why you wouldn’t want to: it is long, boring, and the message is so cloyingly sweet that to make fun of it makes you feel kind of dirty. It had to be done for BMT, but I don’t think it has the joyful badness to stand the test of time. It is a checkmark. Just look at the cred. It legit just had to be done.

Roast-radamus – Let’s see. It definitely has some Where? (Setting) appeal with Oregon, a very unique kind of post-apocalyptic setting there. The Who? (Cameo) option on Tom Petty is interesting, if underwhelming. He pops in and it like “I’m Tom Petty playing myself!” … coooool. What? (Product Placement) is there, Ford, Mercury, the cigarettes … the Postal Service? (Some people probably wish the Postal Service was some corporation which sponsored The Postman), but those are probably all mostly from the book and don’t really count. I think that is all of the plausible ones. It is neither Bad, Good, or BMT.

StreetCreditReport.com – So it definitely appears on some worst of the 90s lists, but I think this list of the 6 (!) most boring films is even funnier. On this weird ass site you can see that it is definitely in the top 5 worst flops ever. And then it won five Razzies. Triple threat. Not only is it long and boring and hated by audiences, but it then made no money and was also hated by critics. It’s got the cred, just not bad movie joy, ya heard?

You Just Got Schooled – Originally like a normal person I was going to read the book … but then I didn’t. Then I was going to watch Dances with Wolves … but I didn’t. So instead read this article! It is much shorter than both of those. Also … it isn’t really good? It is kind of weird. I’m not one to criticize other media, I mean … have you read the crap we write most of the time? But suggesting critics misunderstood Will Patton? I don’t think they did, his performance is hammy. To suggest audiences rebelled because dark edgy films like Seven were the flavor of the month at the time? This movie is cheesy no matter the context. As cheesy as Forrest Gump, but with worse performances and a worse story. And then ends with “Most people who hated Air Force One would criticise it for its blandness” … who hates Air Force One? This article is weird. Usually I enjoy these types of review because they give you nice nuggets about filming and the context of the film, but this is just making excuses for a film that is frankly long, boring, and pretentious (as Leonard Maltin would say).

Cheerios, and back to you Jamie!

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The Postman Preview

Jamie and Patrick enter the cocktail party at Colonel Stanley Von Freed’s posh ski chalet dressed in tuxedos and looking dapper. They scope the scene and begin to mingle with the crowd. Masters of smalltalk they express dismay at the latest news out of the Asian markets and hint at promising developments at their racehorse farm. Hands touch arms and laughter rings out until they realize they’ve been cornered by several sultry minxes eyeing them hungrily. They can’t be distracted. Patrick signals to the jazz band and a funky beat begins to play. Stripping to the waists, Jamie and Patrick perform their award winning breakdance routine that the New York Times deemed “the essence of pure masculinity.” Through a combination of hip thrusts and backflips Jamie and Patrick dispatch the sultry minxes and amongst fading cheers abscond upstairs. In the master bedroom they find a safe and hold their breath as they try the lock. It’s already open! Inside? Nothing. “Ah yes, I wondered why you two were here. Simple party crashers? I think not. You are looking for the medallion.” Out of the darkness Colonel Von Freed leans forward, his sad eyes searching Jamie and Patrick. Patrick speaks hesitantly, “We… we need it… to save the world.” The Colonel sighs, “of course you do, but what is there to save? This world is already dead.” Jamie steps toward the Colonel. “Come with us and find out what’s left to fight for.” The Colonel looks between them and for a moment a light shines in his eyes, “Who… who are you two?” he shakes his head, “It was taken. Long ago. By a fraudster who pretended to be my mailman. He took it to The Waste. We’ll find it there.” They shake their heads. Of course. Exactly where they started. That’s right! We’re watching what is considered one of the biggest bombs in film history, The Postman starring (and directed by) Kevin Costner. Good thing I definitely have three hours to kill this weekend, otherwise it would have been pretty annoying to watch … Let’s go!

The Postman (1997) – BMeTric: 32.5

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(Wowza, up to 6.0. I can imagine it ages well. Costner seems like he has to be a competent director, so perhaps once you have some distance and are choosing to watch this 3 hour epic is probably skewing things upwards a bit. By all accounts this films is)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars –  Long, boring, pretentious allegory about an itinerant performer in the post-apocalyptic future who passes himself off as a U.S. mail carrier. In that guise, he personifies hope for several isolated communities who’ve been beaten down by the cruel tactics of a demagogue (Patton, in a one-note performance). A well-meaning (but complete) misfire. That’s Costner’s son in the film’s final shot; one daughter plays a mail carrier, the other sings “America the Beautiful.” Mary Stuart Masterson appears unbilled.

(It feels like Maltin really slams films who strive to be something great and completely fail. Pretentious and boring. I can see it. I mean … you don’t hear much more about this film except that it is long and boring.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BC8FxxvXYTY/

(Wow, even the trailer is long, boring, and pretentious. I’m being serious, that felt like the longest trailer in the history of film.)

Directors – Kevin Costner – (Known For: Dances with Wolves; Open Range; BMT: The Postman; Razzie Notes: See the acting category Notes: An oddly limited directing career considering he won an Oscar with his first effort, and Open Range was well received as well … maybe he hates it. Nope.)

Writers – David Brin (novel) – (BMT: The Postman; Notes: His novel Startide Rising, part of his Uplift series, won the Nebula award in 1984, the year before he published The Postman (which was nominated for a Hugo and Nebula award))

Eric Roth (screenplay) – (Known For: A Star Is Born; Forrest Gump; The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Ali; Munich; The Good Shepherd; The Insider; Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close; The Horse Whisperer; Wolfen; The Onion Field; Suspect; Mr. Jones; The Drowning Pool; Future BMT: The Concorde… Airport ’79; Lucky You; BMT: The Postman; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Screenplay for The Postman in 1998; Notes: Was sadly a victim of Bernie Madoff losing his retirement fund in the grift.)

Brian Helgeland (screenplay) – (Known For: A Knight’s Tale; L.A. Confidential; Legend; Mystic River; Robin Hood; 42; Green Zone; The Taking of Pelham 123; Conspiracy Theory; Payback; A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master; Blood Work; Future BMT: The Sin Eater; 976-EVIL; Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant; Assassins; BMT: The Postman; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Screenplay for The Postman in 1998; Notes: Was a fisherman in New Bedford, MA for a short time before driving cross country to Hollywood.)

Actors – Kevin Costner – (Known For: The Highwaymen; Molly’s Game; Man of Steel; Hidden Figures; Dances with Wolves; Waterworld; The Untouchables; Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves; Mr. Brooks; No Way Out; Field of Dreams; Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit; JFK; Open Range; Bull Durham; Silverado; The Big Chill; Draft Day; Thirteen Days; Wyatt Earp; Future BMT: The New Daughter; Play It to the Bone; Dragonfly; The Bodyguard; 3 Days to Kill; Message in a Bottle; Swing Vote; Criminal; Revenge; Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; Black or White; The War; BMT: Rumor Has It…; The Postman; 3000 Miles to Graceland; The Guardian; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Director, and Worst Actor for The Postman in 1998; Winner for Worst Actor, and Worst Remake or Sequel for Wyatt Earp in 1995; Winner for Worst Actor for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves in 1992; Nominee for Worst Actor in 1993 for The Bodyguard; in 1996 for Waterworld; in 2000 for For Love of the Game, and Message in a Bottle; and in 2002 for 3000 Miles to Graceland; Nominee for Worst Screen Couple in 1995 for Wyatt Earp; and in 2002 for 3000 Miles to Graceland; and Nominee for Worst Actor of the Century in 2000; Notes: Y’all know Kevin Costner. He has seven children. The oldest is 34 and the youngest is 9. Quite the range.)

Will Patton – (Known For: Halloween; Remember the Titans; No Way Out; American Honey; The Mothman Prophecies; After Hours; Copycat; Desperately Seeking Susan; Rex; The Client; Brooklyn’s Finest; Silkwood; A Mighty Heart; The Scent of Rain & Lightning; Meek’s Cutoff; Wendy and Lucy; The Rapture; Jesus’ Son; A Shock to the System; In the Soup; Future BMT: Code Name: The Cleaner; Breakfast of Champions; Fled; The Fourth Kind; The Puppet Masters; Entrapment; The November Man; Knucklehead; Trixie; Gone in Sixty Seconds; The Punisher; The Canyon; Inventing the Abbotts; Boarding School; Armageddon; Everybody Wins; The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond; Romeo Is Bleeding; BMT: The Postman; Notes: Has narrated over forty audio books. Also … how is this first Will Patton film we’ve done? That is insane.)

Larenz Tate – (Known For: Crash; Girls Trip; Ray; Menace II Society; Dead Presidents; Love Jones; Why Do Fools Fall in Love; Future BMT: Biker Boyz; A Man Apart; Waist Deep; BMT: The Postman; Notes: Both of his brothers are also actors, although neither of them have worked much as actors in the last ten years.)

Budget/Gross – $80 million / Domestic: $17,626,234

(Two in a row, some great box office bombs recently. Unfortunately I think late-90s box office bomb might be the same as saying it is long and boring)

#56 for the Future – Near genre

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(Right at a little peak in futuristic films, and right near other weird ones like Soldier which came out in 1998. Booming now. A genre which feels like it only gets bigger as cheap CGI becomes readily available.)

#87 for the Sci-Fi – Adventure genre

postman_scifiadventure

(Star Wars has this genre a-booming again. Somehow The Postman made less money than Battlefield Earth, so let that sink in for a bit.)

#52 for the Sci-Fi – Based on Book genre

postman_scifibook

(I can’t believe Jumper is the highest grossing BMT film for this sub-genre. I’m starting to get these graphs. They are all just variations on the same graph: sci-fi films from 1990 to present. The shapes are all kind of the same.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 9% (3/35)

(I’ll have to make a consensus: So earnest it somehow loops back around and becomes a joke. So long you’ll forget what it’s like to not be watching The Postman. Reviewer Highlight: Star/director Kevin Costner’s futuristic folly The Postman is so loopy that, for a while, one wants to shield it from a critical storm that has already begun. – Mike Clark, USA Today)

Poster – Postman: The Scorch Trials (C-)

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(There is just too much going on. There is another version without the American flag and that’s better but still not the best. Everything is off about this, but not offensively bad. Also… like who wants to see this? Costner is a major star but even at the time I feel like people would look at this and be like “so we just watching him wander in the desert. No thanks.”)

Tagline(s) – The year is 2013. One man walked in off the horizon and hope came with him. (C-)

(Way too long, but love the specificity of the year considered that we have now blown by it. Ages like a fine wine. Also it hints at the incredible cheesiness of the film and I admire that. But still not good.)

Keyword(s) – drifter; Top Ten by BMeTric: 84.9 Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011); 75.5 Anaconda (1997); 63.4 I, Frankenstein (2014); 60.8 Conan the Barbarian (2011); 51.0 Graveyard Shift (1990); 49.8 Frogs (1972); 46.3 Cabin Fever (2002); 46.0 Ator the Invincible (1982); 43.7 The Dark Tower (2017); 43.6 Coyote Ugly (2000);

(This can be split up into three groups. The “so bad we had to watch them” starts it off. Then three horror films. Then three kind of off the wall selections. Coyote Ugly is a funny one. Sometimes I forget that qualifies.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 16) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Kevin Costner is No. 1 billed in The Postman and No. 2 billed in 3000 Miles to Graceland, which also stars Kurt Russell (No. 1 billed) who is in Tango and Cash (No. 2 billed), which also stars Sylvester Stallone (No. 1 billed) who is in Expendables 3 (No. 1 billed), which also stars Jason Statham (No. 2 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 4 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 1 + 2 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 4 + 1 = 16. If we were to watch Love Happens, and The Black Dahlia we can get the HoE Number down to 14.

Notes – The actors did their own stuntwork on the rope bridge scene and Kevin Costner, a skilled equestrian, did his own horse-riding. He also performed the cable cart scene himself, with the cart winched through the air by helicopter.

Kevin Costner’s children all appear in the film.

Tom Petty mentioned back in 1982 while filming the video for his song “You Got Lucky” (a post apocalyptic themed story) he wanted to do a small part in a futuristic movie. He said he wanted to portray a post war character, which he finally did in this movie. (ugh, what a terrible story)

The area of Metaline Falls, Washington (where a lot of the filming took place) did not have much to offer for housing film crews (like hotels) so many of the crew stayed at local campsites, rented rooms from locals. Kevin Costner rented a house from a resident of the nearby town of Ione, Washington. The stars and crew treated the locals very kindly even when approached for autographs when eating in local restaurants. (Sounds like fun)

Residents of an apartment building in Metaline Falls, Washington were paid to have their windows blown out during the “Hannibal at the gate” scene that takes place in Benning. The apartments were later repaired and cleaned up, returning them to new.

The Postman’s fake president was named “Richard Starkey”, the real name of Ringo Starr. (Ah, I didn’t get that)

An open mining pit in Tucson was used in the movie. It was one of the largest film sets ever dressed, at least two miles wide, and 1200 feet deep to create Bethlehem’s camp. Engineers looked over the drawings for buildings of the future to see if they were structurally sound. They built Bridge City on the face of the dam that supplies half of Seattle’s power. (These are cool notes)

Visual effects supervisor Tricia Henry Ashford was fired several weeks before the end of production and replaced by storyboard artist David J. Negron Jr.. This was reportedly due to various “creative differences” between her and Kevin Costner; she wanted most of the effects to be done in post-production, while Costner wanted them to be done in-camera and on-location.

In the sequence where Kevin Costner’s character names Richard Starkey (Ringo Starr) as President, he continues with another reference to The Beatles by telling the assembly “It’s getting better. Getting better all the time” from the band’s song “Getting Better”. (Also didn’t get that one)

We never learn The Postman’s real name.

The crew referred to the film as “Dirt World”.

Tom Petty plays himself. When The Postman and Abby met The Mayor of Bridge City (Tom Petty), The Postman says to him “I know you. You’re famous.” (Well … I guess if he was supposed to be like 60 in those scenes.)

At one point, this was in development as a project for Ron Howard, with Tom Hanks set to star. (I don’t believe it)

The Postman (1997) takes place the same year as another post apocalyptic movie – John Carpenter’s Escape From L.A. (1996). Both films take place in the year 2013. (Extended universe!)

It was the extras that referred to the production as “Dirt World”. This was never to be spoken within earshot of Kevin Costner, because he would fire anyone he heard saying it. (Ah I get it, like Waterworld … that’s pretty good)

Awards – Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Picture of the Decade (2000)

Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Picture (Jim Wilson, Steve Tisch, Kevin Costner, 1998)

Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Kevin Costner, 1998)

Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Director (Kevin Costner, 1998)

Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (Eric Roth, Brian Helgeland, John, John Wilson, 1998)

Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Original Song (John Coinman, Joe Flood, Blair Forward, Maria M. Machado, Jono Manson, 1998)

Universal Soldier: The Return Recap

Jamie

Luc Devereaux is back, Jack! And boy howdy is he ready to fight more Universal Soldiers. When the Universal Soldier program’s AI computer, SETH, goes rogue, Luc and his new reporter friend Erin have to figure out how to take it out. Will they stop SETH, save Luc’s daughter, and perhaps find love before it’s too late? Find out in… Universal Soldier: The Return.

How?! Luc Devereaux is living his life in Texas working for the Universal Soldier program. He was still totally a dead person at one point but apparently was cured of that and his junk apparently still works because he even has a daughter. She seems fine with having a dad that was dead for a very long time. Anyway, the UniSol program is told that they are being shut down because the government is a little wary of this whole bringing-people-back-to-life-as-soldiers thing and Luc and his colleagues are shocked (shocked!). None more than their AI computer system SETH. He’s like “fuck that” and starts going rogue. He kills a whole bunch of people, make a new set of soldiers, and even gives himself a rad new body with some killer abs and karate skillz. SETH knows that a safe guard will shut him down in eight hours unless he can crack a code that only Luc has. Luc is like “Over my dead body” and along with a reporter that was snooping around, Erin, heads out to figure out what they can do. They end up going to a strip club because obviously that place will have internet and he is able to figure out that SETH has been in contact with a disgraced elite hacker. They head over to Squid’s place where it is revealed that SETH is going to use Luc’s daughter as a pawn to get the code. They head to the hospital where Luc’s daughter is being taken care of but they are too late and know that a direct confrontation is their only chance. Back at Universal Soldier HQ, Luc and SETH totally battle with martial arts skills and punch and kick each other for a while. SETH cracks the code and is like “guess I didn’t need you after all. Time to die,” and Luc is like “when Hell freezes over” and whatever other puns you can think of and is able to quick freeze SETH and shatters him into a million pieces. THE END.

Why?! This time the driving force of the film is not the snooping reporter but the Universal Soldier program itself. The government gets cold feet about their crazy morally bankrupt dead soldier venture and SETH can’t handle rejection. I think SETH wants to take over the world at this point but it’s actually hard to tell. I’m not entirely sure what his end game is… perhaps creating a Universal Soldier utopia in Texas? Whatever it is Luc wants to stop it and save his daughter and smooch on that reporter’s face.

Who?! I can no longer say someone gave us the worst acting performance we’ve ever seen because we’ve seen so many terrible acting performances, but WWE wrestler Bill Goldberg gifts us an all-timer. I also didn’t realize he was a legit NFL football player. He actually played for the Falcons for a number of years and started a game and everything.

What?! I think there is an argument to be made that the super secret code that turns off the safe guard against SETH is a MacGuffin of sorts. It is what SETH needs and he will do whatever necessary to get it. The only problem is that we know exactly what it does and it’s not some random piece of magic or technology. You know what it needed to be? It needed to be on a dongle. And perhaps that dongle could be made of some important material… say… I don’t know, obsidian?

Where?! When JCVD is jet skiing about from minute one I thought perhaps they had moved the Universal Soldier program to Louisiana so he could be near his folks. Nope, shortly thereafter they mention explicitly that this is all occurring in Central Texas and then JCVD ends up at the famous strip club in Dallas, The Clubhouse. B.

When?! I almost hoped there wouldn’t be an exact date for this one because they used intertitles to tell you unnecessarily specific times. So it would flash on screen like “9:22 PM CST” in case you might be confused as to whether they meant Greenwich Mean Time or something. Unfortunately computer whiz JCVD realized that SETH must be communicated with an elite haxor on the outside and we see that he called said haxor on October 3rd 1999. Since we see SETH make this last call this almost definitely sets the exact date of the film. B+.

Alright so I’ll let Patrick tell you about the two Universal Soldier made-for-TV films that preceded this one. Rest assured that they made me sad and curiously thirsty for some delicious Labatt Blue. As for this film, it did not make me sad. It made me BMT happy. Universal Soldier: The Return is bonkers from the jump. We open with a jet ski chase and head right into a HAL rip-off eeeevil computer. Goldberg is terrible at acting but somehow better than JCVD. There are explosions and full body burns everywhere because it was directed by a stunt man. An elite haxor shows up who is straight up off the chain and played by the middle aged actor who played The Sidler in Seinfeld. I could go on and on and on. This film was pedal to the metal for 90 minutes and never let up. It’s like they knew the BMT formula and took it to the extreme. The only problematic thing about its perfection is that an argument could be made that this is just a straight-to-DVD film that somehow made it onto a release schedule. That it can’t be judged the same way as other films because it was never meant to be consumed by a mass audience. That it only ended up in theaters because an evil magician put a curse on a producer (probably). These are all things that will have to be judged as part of next year’s Smaddies Baddies and perhaps the retrospective look will turn it into a pumpkin. Until then I’m just enjoying all the memories we had together. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! I know after watching the two television films in the Universal Soldier series we were all a-clamoring for more Universal Soldier. Or my brain melted and I in a daze I accidentally turned on The Return. Either way I watched the second (or fourth depending on what you consider canon … actually The Return isn’t canon either) Universal Soldier film. Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – The trailer for this film is bonkers, so I kind of knew it was going to be nuts in the first place. But the main thing that obviously sticks out is that they decided to retcon the television movies. It is obvious why you do that but still … it isn’t like the films did anything drastic with the story really. They could have vaguely had the story continue from where the third left off. But you know the series isn’t getting taken care of properly when the original production company went bankrupt, sold it to Showtime, and then yada yada yada they make a direct sequel in 1997. Doesn’t bode well.

The Good – Hmmmmmm. Unfortunately I don’t think you see many buns in this film. They even cover up Michael Jai White’s buns, do what am I supposed to do with that? Plenty of cyborgs though. A weird peak into what a strip club in 1999 might have looked like. A really big ‘splosion, and some full body burns. You could ask for less, right?

The Bad – The movie is nuts. There is an AI called SETH, and a l33t h4XX0r names Squid. And JCVD isn’t a cyborg anymore (he’s a regular human who apparently isn’t sterile despite being legit dead for like … 25 years at one point, because he has a human child). The AI bit really does it. You immediately can’t take the movie seriously the instant they introduce it, and the reasoning behind its existence is non-existent. It really is just a masterstroke of terrible filmmaking.

You Just Got Schooled – Right when it looks like we took a step forward it is time to take a step back with a recap of the third film, Universal Soldier III: Unfinished Business. In this film our two heroes Luc and Veronica are back on the trail of the Universal Soldier program and trying to take it down. It killed his brother Eric, and boy is he steamed about it. Meanwhile the eeeeevil scientist and Burt Reynolds are a-scheming to create a little Eric clone to fight Luc (boy oh boy, how eeeevil). Ultimately Luc karate chops all the other cyborgs, and they self destruct Eric after he magically gets his memory back (oh did I forget to mention that they give him super-aging serum to make him precisely the same age as when he died …). In the end Burt Reynolds kills himself and the Unisol program continues to operate in the shadows in season 1 of the smash hit Showtime series Universal Soldier … what’s that? That didn’t happen? Oh, then they totally leave us hanging forever since this garbage film was retconned out of existence. F——.

The BMT – Now we’re cooking with fire! Frontrunner for most BMT film of the year right here. The main thing that will hold it back in the future? It’s a bit too small maybe? Like it qualifies and everything, but it feels a bit like punching down when you pick JCVD’s last theatrical release (literally). But we tend to ignore such things, and the film is pretty entertaining. I’m sure it will be just as entertaining in 5 years (wait … are we going to still be doing BMT in 5 years … surely not …).

Welcome to Earf – With the new found knowledge I gained with my own SETH (a python shortest path script and cast lists from The Movie Database) I think the likely best path is something like JCVD was in Universal Soldier with Dolph Lundgren, who was in Expendables 3 with Jason Statham, who was in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale with Leelee Sobieski, who was in Here on Earth. Welcome to Earth!

StreetCreditReport.com – A little disappointing, but somewhat expected I think that the few lists wouldn’t necessarily acknowledge this one. It is, as I said, a bit too small. Almost straight-to-DVD. Still, you can find it on random blogs like this, and that is good enough for me.

The Universal Soldier marathon is complete. My life, what am I doing? Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Universal Soldier Recap

Jamie

When Luc Devereaux is killed in Vietnam by the crazed Andrew Scott they are both secretly reanimated as super soldiers. Years later, Luc  and Scott begin to regain their memories and Luc has to help a snooping reporter escape from Scott’s clutches. Can they stop Scott and perhaps find love before it’s too late? Find out in… Universal Soldier.

How?! Luc Devereaux is an all-American hero with an all-American Cajun accent (duh). In Vietnam one of his fellow soldiers, Andrew Scott, goes insane and kills a bunch of villagers before turning the gun on Luc. They end up killing each other and are regenerated in super soldiers as a part of a secret military project.They are used to great effect until Luc and Scott begin to regain their memories. At the same time a reporter, Veronica, discovers the secret to the program and to the shock of the military Luc helps her escape. Now in hot pursuit, the Universal Soldiers leave a wake of destruction while Luc relearns all the basic functions of life and Veronica ponders whether falling in love with a dead guy is A-OK because he’s not really dead… right? Luc and Veronica try to find out more about the program, always staying a step ahead of Scott, who eventually goes completely rogue. Finally, in the bayou of Louisiana, Luc is reunited with his mother and father. Happiness is short-lived, however, as Scott finds them and an all out brawl ensues resulting in Luc pushing Scott into a farm machine. He is gruesomely murdered but he was already dead so through a loophole in the law Luc isn’t tried for murder. He is crowned champion of the Universal Soldiers and he and Veronica probably get married but never (NEVER) talk about how he’s actually a dead person. THE END.

Why?! A lot of this is pure coincidence really. The main thrust of the plot is driven by Veronica wanting to get the big scoop about the UniSol program. She just got fired and wants to really stick it to her bosses. By sneaking into the top secret Unisol base she becomes a fugitive whose only hope is a totally confused Luc. He just wants to figure out what the fuck is up because he’s pretty sure he’s a dead person but everyone else is telling him he’s not a dead person. Andrew Scott is crazy and acts accordingly.

Who?! There is so much for the who in this. Basically every Unisol GR unit is notable in some way. One is Tiny Lister, former wrestler and POTUS in The Fifth Element. One is Eric Norris, youngest son of Chuck Norris and race car driver. One is Ralf Moeller, who was a professional bodybuilder and competed in Mr. Olympia. And finally one is Simon Rhee, who is a big martial arts stunt actor. Added bonus is JCVD’s son Kris appeared uncredited as a younger version of his dad.

What?! Solid product placement with Pepsi where we get JCVD, relearning all the pleasures of life, sitting down to eat at a restaurant and tasting a delicious Pepsi for the first time. Next thing you know and he’s slammed twenty Pepsi’s because who can resist such refreshment? No one. It’s a universal pleasure.

Where?! Veritable Road Trip Alert with this guy. We get an opening in Vietnam that transitions to the Hoover Dam in Nevada. Once JCVD and Veronica are on the run they travel to Arizona, Utah, and eventually Louisiana for the climax (all with specific intertitles). The best part is that I’m not sure what I would classify as the dominant setting… Louisiana I guess, but Utah has an argument too. B+.

When?! The grades for these sections aren’t exactly set in stone (shocking I know), but if I were to make a hard and fast rule I think the “Present Day” intertitle is a good example of a D score. Sure it’s telling you something, but as vaguely as possible. Otherwise I didn’t catch any other specifics about the date and time. But that’s on me.

I enjoyed this movie plain and simple. I can understand the bad reviews. It’s a knock-off of a Sly Stallone or Schwarzenegger film with worse acting. There is just no way this actually gets good reviews… because it’s bad. But there is something fun about the movie (not surprising as it’s early Emmerich) and I think this is also probably the best you’ll see JCVD in terms of acting. Unlike other films where he has to act like an actual person here he gets to act like a robot person who doesn’t remember he’s human. He barely talks and mostly just has a vacant look in his eyes. I was like “woah, he’s actually doing a good job.” Until I saw the sequel to the film and realized it was only made possible by constraints of the script. Made me think that the rest of the series would just be boring rehashes of the same shit… boy was I wrong.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Sometimes you just get that feeling, that JCVD feeling, JCVD … feeling, baby, JCVD feeeeeeling. And when you get that feeling you get to watch Universal Soldier! Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – The instant I saw this was an early Emmerich I knew it was going to be kind of good. Combine that with pre-straight-to-DVD JCVD and Lundgren in peak Rocky IV shape and you got a stew going, baby. Honestly, this is exactly the type of film critics at the time would have dumped on, and now people (like me) will pick up and be like “rad”, so I went in expecting to like it.

The Good – And like it I did. One thing that can always save terrible actors like JCVD? Making him play a robot. The role he was meant to play to be honest. The idea of intentionally creating controllable zombies as soldiers is oddly unique and appealing. It immediately made me think about how in some sort of Evil Scientist Extended Universe they’d be making werewolves (gene splicing), and mummies (preserved sentient corpses) and stuff. Fun idea even if it is a bit wasted in the end. Oh, and of course … JCVD’s bodacious buns.

The Bad – I mean these guys aren’t good actors. The film felt a bit cheap, especially in the set designs which kind of just look like they were left over from the 80s to be honest. And the story is very derivative (JCVD’s Loc-bot 2000 might as well learned to give a thumbs up he’s such a rip off of The Terminator) and road trippy (although it mostly works). And finally the ending was telegraphed and pretty dumb with the super soldier serum. But all of these are either completely tolerable or very minor critiques of what is ultimately a pretty not-bad film that got dumped on at the time.

You Just Got Schooled – Well lucky for me there were two television films, so let’s discuss the first one a bit. Basically this was a sort of pilot for Showtime it seems. The main character is played by Matt Battaglia and … woof, he is just awful. He alone makes the film almost unwatchable. The main storyline is that Gary Busey is in charge of the Universal Soldier program and he’s going to sell it to the highest bidder (mercenaries!). Meanwhile Luc’s never-before-mentioned brother Eric has been activated and is helping Luc take Busey down. The film is boring, incomprehensible, and extremely Canadian (complete with retconning Luc’s hometown as being in Pennsylvania to excuse the obviously cold shooting temperatures). Straight hot garbage F——-.

The BMT – This one will get nothing, but will likely get a shout at the end of the year for being one of the genuinely decent films we watched in the course of 2019, it’s got that going for it. And it’ll be thrown onto the JCVD pile. I think of all the martial artists turned actors JCVD is on top of the second tier. The first tier might only have Jackie Chan in it BTW.

Welcome to Earf – This gets pretty easy. Dolph Lundgren is in both Universal Soldier and Expendables 3, which also stars Sly Stallone who was in Zookeeper with Kevin James, who was also in Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 with Neal McDonough, who was also in Street Fighter: Legend of Chun Li with Chris Klein, who was also in Here on Earth. Welcome to Earth! (BTW I’m creating a program that does this now. It isn’t complete, but even in its current form it would have suggested I go straight from Expendables 3 through Statham to In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale which stars Leelee. Idiot! I’ve actually used that path before).

StreetCreditReport.com – It shouldn’t really be that big of a surprise that it didn’t get much notice in 1992. It was considered bad, but not that bad. And it has its charm. This well and truly is just along for the ride with The Return. It is too bad there isn’t a better resource for this stuff though, it feels like the instant you venture away from the 2000s there is basically no worst-of lists to speak of. At least not online.

I’ll see you soon with the recap of The Return, the second (er … fourth?) in the Universal Soldier series. Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Universal Soldier: The Return Preview

Dear Diary, Jamie writes, I know I haven’t written to you in awhile but I met someone. I know, very exciting. Less exciting? I met someone else. Classic Jamie, right? Anyway, I need some advice. On the one hand you have beautiful… actually now that I think of it I don’t know their names. Classic Jamie you know and love. So Demon #1 is beautiful and a lawyer, but also a demon. Demon #2 is beautiful but also a liar and still a demon. The choice is tearing me apart, like hooks into my flesh. What do I do?! Gah! Classic Jamie. But having talked it out with you I think I have my decision. I will just have to marry both of them and live forever in this puzzle box. It’s the only logical choice. Thanks Diary. With that Jamie looks up and find himself back in the alleyway where they cornered the Predator. “Wha… what?” He asks stunned. Patrick comes over and places a hand on his shoulder, “A gust of wind blew by and closed the puzzle box while you were writing for the last twelve hours.” Jamie nods, but can’t help but wonder if he could have found happiness in that demon world. Probably not… because they were demons. Suddenly light floods the alley and they are surrounded by police. “Freeze, Predator dirtbag! Wait… where is it?” Asks the Commander. Jamie and Patrick look at each other and toss the puzzle box into a nearby sewer. “That Predator won’t be bother anyone else, Commander. We made sure of that.” The Commander is impressed. First a multimillion dollar t-shirt business and now this. He approaches Jamie and Patrick, “ I have a new assignment for you. Ever heard of the Super Duper Commando Program?” That’s right! We’re crushing the Universal Soldier franchise by watching the only two qualifying films in the franchise. Weirdly this is actually the first and the fourth films made. That’s because after the first film they made a couple Universal Soldier TV movies before deciding those never happened and starting over again with a new sequel Universal Soldier: The Return. It’s just weird enough that I made sure to get the TV movies from my local public library so I could torture myself with them. This is the Chain Reaction part of the cycle as Xander Berkeley was in both Proud Mary and Universal Soldier: The Return. Perfect. Let’s go!

Universal Soldier: The Return (1999) – BMeTric: 76.8

UniversalSoldierTheReturn_BMeT

UniversalSoldierTheReturn_RV

(Oh shit, it was at 3.0 for a hot second there. It has “recovered”, although mostly because you can’t really stay below 4.0 without being a truly legendary film while accruing votes. This should be a truly dire experience. I’m excited.)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars –  The muscles from Brussels is back and must stop an out-of-control super-cyborg from world domination. Derivative but not boring rehash of the original. Features two tough heroines, Schanz and ESPN fitness guru Tom, but it you’re threatened by the enlightened sexual politics, there’s also a gratuitous brawl at a nudie bar. In his acting debut, WCW superstar Bill Goldberg proves he has all the dramatic range of Foghorn Leghorn.

(WCW star. Check. An ESPN fitness guru. Check. Brawl at a nudie bar. Check. Uh, this might be the greatest thing I’ve ever read. My body is ready, but will my mind melt when I watch this? There is only one way to find out.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2SxMcP-UFo

(That looks way dumber than the original! It looks so bad. Just explosions, and guns, and stunts, and Michael Jai White … woof!)

Directors – Mic Rodgers – (BMT: Universal Soldier: The Return; Notes: A stuntman, and, I can’t believe I’m saying this, most notable for being Mel Gibson’s personal stunt double for over ten years.)

Writers – Richard Rothstein (characters) – (Known For: Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning; BMT: Universal Soldier: The Return; Universal Soldier; Notes: Died this year. He made the television series Deadly Nightmares.)

Christopher Leitch (characters) – (Known For: Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning; BMT: Universal Soldier: The Return; Universal Soldier; Notes: Worked with Rothstein briefly on Deadly Nightmares, which is possibly why he got the job at the time.)

Dean Devlin (characters) – (Known For: Independence Day; Stargate; Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning; Future BMT: Godzilla; BMT: Universal Soldier: The Return; Independence Day: Resurgence; Geostorm; Universal Soldier; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay in 1999 for Godzilla; and in 2017 for Independence Day: Resurgence; and Nominee for Worst Written Film Grossing Over $100 Million for Independence Day in 1997; Notes: Advised the games company ZeniMax in the early 2000s, they own Bethesda.)

William Malone (written by) – (Future BMT: Supernova; BMT: Universal Soldier: The Return; Notes: He was the designer of the Michael Myers mask in Halloween!)

John Fasano (written by) – (Future BMT: Darkness Falls; Megiddo: The Omega Code 2; BMT: Universal Soldier: The Return; Another 48 Hrs.; Notes: Died in 2014. He began his career creating industrial films for IBM.)

Actors – Jean-Claude Van Damme – (Known For: The Expendables 2; Kung Fu Panda 3; Kung Fu Panda 2; Kickboxer: Retaliation; Hard Target; Kickboxer; Kickboxer: Vengeance; Sudden Death; Timecop; Breakin’; Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning; JCVD; Enemies Closer; Future BMT: Street Fighter; Derailed; Cyborg; Knock Off; Welcome to the Jungle; The Order; Double Impact; Legionnaire; Maximum Risk; Replicant; Inferno; Missing in Action; The Quest; Nowhere to Run; Pound of Flesh; Black Water; A.W.O.L.: Absent Without Leave; Last Action Hero; Bloodsport; BMT: Universal Soldier: The Return; Double Team; Universal Soldier; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Screen Couple for Double Team in 1998; and Nominee for Worst New Star for Bloodsport in 1989; Notes: Y’all know Jean-Claude. He was a karate champion in Belgium, including appearances on the Belgian team which won the 1979 European Karate Championship. After a successful fill-contact career he became an actor.)

Bill Goldberg – (Known For: American Satan; Looney Tunes: Back in Action; Future BMT: Ready to Rumble; The Longest Yard; BMT: Universal Soldier: The Return; Notes: Was a pro football player for a bit (he played for the Falcons, Rams, and Panthers). Had a horrible sounding abdominal injury which ended his career. He then became a WCW star, and even the Heavyweight champion!)

Heidi Schanz – (Known For: Se7en; The Truman Show; Future BMT: Virtuosity; Kiss the Girls; BMT: Universal Soldier: The Return; Notes: Was at one point a model, and has been in a smattering of television programs as well. Appears to have retired from acting in 2003.)

Budget/Gross – $40-45 million / Domestic: $10,667,893

(Oh that is terrible, although I’m somewhat skeptical that it actually cost that much. Considering the crew they had going and the cast besides (an older) Van Damme … where would the money even go!)

#87 for the Action – Martial Arts genre

universalsoldierthereturn_martialarts

(Oooof worse than Double Team! This kind of came at a nadir of the genre. Possibly, this was a last gasp for testing Van Damme (and any martial arts) films in theaters.)

#43 for the Cyborg / Android / Robot genre

universalsoldierthereturn_cyborg

(Juuuust narrowly beats out Deadly Friend, which is atrocious. Basically the only super successful robot films recently were transformer films.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 5% (3/58): Universal Soldier – The Return fails on almost every level, from its generic story to its second rate action and subpar performances.

(Oh, that sounds delighful. And sub-10% is incredibly bad. Getting more excited. Reviewer Highlight: It’s actually the fourth entry in the series, after a couple of straight-to-cable sequels. That’s a lot of pulp to squeeze out of a concept that was fairly juiceless to begin with. – Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly)

Poster – Robo Soldier v2.0 (A-)

universal_soldier_the_return

(Gotta be honest with you… this is working more me. The balance, the sepia tone, the kooky font. Yes, yes, yes. Just a tad bit less going on… like what’s with the circle?)

Tagline(s) – Prepare to become obsolete (B)

(Am I a soldier in the scenario this tagline is commenting on? Why am I preparing? Shouldn’t Van Damme be preparing? Anyway, it’s short and comments vaguely on the premise, but not really all that clever other than a weak double entendre with obsolete.)

Keyword(s) – time bomb; Top Ten by BMeTric: 90.3 Alone in the Dark (2005); 89.7 Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997); 87.9 Street Fighter (1994); 85.7 Spice World (1997); 84.4 Movie 43 (2013); 84.0 RoboCop 3 (1993); 77.9 Torque (2004); 76.8 Universal Soldier: The Return (1999); 68.9 On Deadly Ground (1994); 68.4 Double Team (1997);

(Oh shit, we need to watch Street Fighter stat! Kind of a great list to be honest, a decent range, but also a few terrible films.)

Notes – The role of Romeo was originally intended for WWE wrestler “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. However, without notifying Steve, his agent turned down the offer of $55,000 to star in the film. The role was subsequently offered to WCW star Bill Goldberg, who accepted the role, for a fee of $250,000. When Austin found out about this, he expressed his anger to Vince McMahon for not letting him know about the movie offer. (Austin would have been better. I haven’t even seen the film and I know this)

Subsequent Universal Soldier films ignore the events of The Return, and outright contradict it in several ways. While still an official entry, it is no longer considered part of the franchise canon. (Reeeeeeally … I don’t believe you)

Michael Jai White (S.E.T.H.) also appeared in the original Universal Soldier (1992) as a soldier.

(At around one hour and eleven minutes) During the final fight sequence between Seth and Luc, when Seth finally breaks the termination code, the first part of the code is NCC1701, the same as the numbers that are on the outside of the Enterprise, of Star Trek fame. (Oooooooo I like that)

Was released theatrically despite the previous sequels having been made-for-television.

The last feature to be theatrically released starring Jean-Claude Van Damme until JCVD (2008). (Wow. It was kind of strange how abruptly Seagal and Van Damme retired into straight-to-DVD stardom)

(At around one hour and six minutes) When Bill Goldberg’s character Romeo tears his shirt off, and starts to fight with the security guards, he uses one of his signature wrestling moves, the spear. (natch)

Certain subterranean scenes were filmed in Texas, in the tunnels dug for the U.S.’s Superconducting Supercollider project. After the project was canceled in 1993, the tunnels were used as storage by Ellis County. (That’s sad)

William Malone was originally going to direct the film, but left just before the start of shooting due to creative differences with the producers, and was replaced by Mic Rodgers. (Hmmm Malone had at least a little more experience as a director, so probably unfortunate that happened)

Universal Soldier Preview

This film will we watched as a BONUS to go along with Universal Soldier: The Return. Go to that preview to read the ongoing adventures of The Bad Movie Twins.

Universal Soldier (1992) – BMeTric: 32.9

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(Nearly reached 50 for a second there. Just following along the normal vote-rating trajector up to 6.0. It is a bit surprising it didn’t stall out, but then again, these types of films feel very ironic and ageless it seems. So I would guess the further away from the time in which it was unironically made, the easier it is for people to give it a good review.)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars –  Van Damme and Lundgren – well, it’s not exactly Tracy and March in Inherit the Wind. Hunks are well cast as rival cyborgs (in a runaway government experiment, natch) whose human components hated each other during Vietnam. Has the requisite number of explosions. The director slyly keeps the grocery store Muzak going during Lundgren’s one big emoting scene – right after he eats raw meat from a bin. Followed by three “official” sequels and two DVD spinoffs.

(First, Leonard Maltin said “natch” in a review, which is excellent. Second, the Inherit the Wind name drop is sublime. If this review weren’t so long winded I would say it was one of my favorites of his.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7TFssY9ZF0

(That actually seems pretty rad I have to be honest. Just some hunky dudes shooting guns and slaying ladies. 1992 was a simpler time.)

Directors – Roland Emmerich – (Known For: The Day After Tomorrow; Independence Day; Stargate; The Patriot; White House Down; Anonymous; Future BMT: Godzilla; Stonewall; BMT: 10,000 BC; Independence Day: Resurgence; 2012; Universal Soldier; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay for Independence Day: Resurgence in 2017; Nominee for Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay for Godzilla in 1999; and Nominee for Worst Written Film Grossing Over $100 Million for Independence Day in 1997; Notes: German. Notably a campaigner for gay rights, global warming, and human rights. He is openly gay.)

Writers – Richard Rothstein (story) – (Known For: Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning; BMT: Universal Soldier: The Return; Universal Soldier; Notes: Died in 2018. He retired right after Universal Soldier came out it appears, only receiving things like story or character credits from that point onwards.)

Christopher Leitch (story) – (Known For: Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning; BMT: Universal Soldier: The Return; Universal Soldier; Notes: Directed a number of television episodes in the late 2000s, but appears to have retired in 2010.)

Dean Devlin (screenplay) – (Known For: Independence Day; Stargate; Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning; Future BMT: Godzilla; BMT: Universal Soldier: The Return; Independence Day: Resurgence; Geostorm; Universal Soldier; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay in 1999 for Godzilla; and in 2017 for Independence Day: Resurgence; and Nominee for Worst Written Film Grossing Over $100 Million for Independence Day in 1997; Notes: A very interesting career as an actor turned writer turned producer turned director! He directed Geostorm in addition to writing it.)

Actors – Jean-Claude Van Damme – (Known For: The Expendables 2; Kung Fu Panda 3; Kung Fu Panda 2; Kickboxer: Retaliation; Hard Target; Kickboxer; Kickboxer: Vengeance; Sudden Death; Timecop; Breakin’; Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning; JCVD; Enemies Closer; Future BMT: Street Fighter; Derailed; Cyborg; Knock Off; Welcome to the Jungle; The Order; Double Impact; Legionnaire; Maximum Risk; Replicant; Inferno; Missing in Action; The Quest; Nowhere to Run; Pound of Flesh; Black Water; A.W.O.L.: Absent Without Leave; Last Action Hero; Bloodsport; BMT: Universal Soldier: The Return; Double Team; Universal Soldier; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Screen Couple for Double Team in 1998; and Nominee for Worst New Star for Bloodsport in 1989; Notes: Y’all know Jean-Claude. The crazy person he portrayed in Bloodsport accused him of not actually being good at martial arts. This, however, is unlikely considering Van Damme had a martial arts career.)

Dolph Lundgren – (Known For: Aquaman; Creed II; The Expendables; The Expendables 2; Hail, Caesar!; Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning; Don’t Kill It; Future BMT: Masters of the Universe; Red Scorpion; The Punisher; Black Water; Skin Trade; The Peacekeeper; Showdown in Little Tokyo; A View to a Kill; Dark Angel; Small Apartments; Rocky IV; BMT: Johnny Mnemonic; Universal Soldier; The Expendables 3; Notes: Notable partially for being a karate champion, and having a Masters in Chemical Engineering. He earned a Fulbright scholarship to attend MIT, but decided to become an actor instead.)

Ally Walker – (Known For: While You Were Sleeping; Singles; Happy, Texas; Wonderful World; Future BMT: Kazaam; Bed of Roses; Steal Big Steal Little; BMT: Universal Soldier; Notes: Started out on the soap Santa Barbara. Has had a long successful career in television including Taxi Brooklyn!)

Budget/Gross – $23 million / Domestic: $36,299,898

(Decent I think. At least, not a financial catastrophe. I’m not surprised the next one went straight-to-DVD though. I imagine that was a decision made based on quality, not finances.)

#32 for the Action – Martial Arts genre

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(This genre really did just tumble down recently. Likely it is getting sucked into VOD and not getting actual releases. This came out right as the genre started to see significantly less gross per theater which is likely the reason the sequels went to DVD. Sadly the highest earning BMT film is The Last Airbender.)

#35 for the Cyborg / Android / Robot genre

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(Robocops and Transformers everywhere! Oh, and Deadly Friend. This came out at a kind of peak of robot films, and since then it has mainly been touch and go. I would guess every year there is some enormous Terminator, or Transformers film, but not very many smaller releases to fill the gaps.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 25% (7/28): No consensus yet.

(I’ll make a consensus: wholly derivative, the audience is just as likely to laugh at as cheer at the repetitive action sequences. Reviewer Highlight: Though the idea is dumb enough to be fun, director Roland Emmerich does the Terminator thing without much style, and the two stars bash into each other but never connect. – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone)

Poster – Oh no! Robots! (C+)

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(I like the idea but it needs a bit more brightness. Font is terrible and what’s with the circle? Just OK.)

Tagline(s) – The future has a bad attitude. (D+)

Almost human…Almost perfect…Almost under control. (A+)

(It’s like the guy who made the tagline never even watched the film! It’s set in present day! But I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he meant the “future of weaponry.” Still bad. The second one is just god damned beautiful. It’s perfection. This is what I want out of a tagline.)

Keyword(s) – soldier; Top Ten by BMeTric: 96.3 Epic Movie (2007); 96.0 Meet the Spartans (2008); 90.3 Alone in the Dark (2005); 89.1 The Last Airbender (2010); 87.9 Street Fighter (1994); 87.6 BloodRayne (2005); 86.2 Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987); 86.1 In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007); 85.8 Fantastic Four (2015); 82.7 The Legend of Hercules (2014);

(Very nice. We should clean up this very soon. You would think this is just a who’s who of the worst films ever … but I actually genuinely think of soldiers in all of these films. The word is just kind of overly broad.)

Notes – (at around 18 mins) The young couple that Luc reacts to at the Hoover Dam incident are actually the same young couple in the beginning in Vietnam. (I saw that in the trailer, fun)

The production script presented a much darker depiction of the U.S. Military than what eventually ends up on the screen. In the screenplay the Colonel in charge of the Unisol project orders Dolph Lundgren’s character to ruthlessly kill off all the civilian witnesses to his pursuit of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s character. The Colonel also informs the head scientist that the terrorists at the dam were not terrorists at all, but mercenaries hired by the army to provide fake justification for the Universal Soldier program. In the finished film, these scenes are omitted so the witnesses are left unharmed and the gunmen killed by the Unisols at the dam were genuine terrorists. The Colonel and his men are actually heroic figures with a real and valid mission who just want their multi-million dollar Unisol back. Whereas military villains were de rigeur in the post Vietnam 1970s and well into the 80s, by the time of filming the reputation of the U.S. Military was at an all time high following the first Gulf War so it was considered unlikely that the audience would accept them being shown in such a poor light. (Huh cool I guess)

Though they’re all supposed to be American, the Universal Soldiers are played by a Belgian (Jean-Claude Van Damme), a Swede (Dolph Lundgren), and a German (Ralf Moeller). (Their accents are a bit off …)

The last film to be recorded in CDS, an early digital sound format. In the following year of the film’s release, sound technicians had developed DTS. This sound format was apparently of higher audio quality than CDS and has been used in most movie theaters ever since.

The Grand Canyon bus chase was re-edited years later as library footage into Fred Olen Ray’s Critical Mass (2001) produced by Andrew Stevens’ Phoenician Entertainment (a company that specialized in shooting low budget action films around stock footage). (Fun fact)

The small patch worn on the left breast of many of the UniSols is a U.S. Army Air Assault Badge, signifying that the wearer is a graduate of the Air Assault School. (Some guy on the internet knows his patches)

The first screenplay was initially called “Crystal Knights”.

Ralf Moeller and Dolph Lundgren co-starred together in Universal Soldier (1992). Years later, both actors auditioned for the role of Hagen in Gladiator (2000), with Lundgren losing it due to Ridley Scott being unimpressed by his acting and Moeller winning the role. (Damn you Ridley Scott!)

The film takes place in 1969 and 1994. (Good to know)

[NOTE: There is an inordinate number of notes having to do with weapons and weapon accoutrements … I’ve left one in so you can see what I mean]

The highly specialized load bearing equipment worn by the UniSols was custom made by Eagle Industries for the film, including the thigh holster for the Desert Eagle .357 magnum (which also held 2 extra magazines and a Cold Steel Magnum Tanto), the shoulder holster harness for the H&K; MP5K sub-machine guns and the H&K; P9S pistol, extra magazines and grenades. On the opposite thigh, the UniSols are carrying collapsible PR-24 batons.

Proud Mary Recap

Jamie

Mary is a hitwoman working for the mob (with a heart of gold) who takes a young boy under her wing out of guilt for killing his family. A mob war breaks out as a result of her actions and things quickly spiral out of control as she attempts to leave the mob life. Will she be able to escape and keep Danny safe before it’s too late? Find out in… Proud Mary.

How?! Proud Mary is totally a hitwoman with a heart of gold. During one of her hits she realizes too late that her target has a young son, Danny, that she has made a orphan. Feeling guilty she begins to follow him around and try to keep him safe, but he ends up working for a rough mobster from a rival gang. When they begin to abuse Danny, Mary snaps, take the kid in and kills the mobster. This begins a mob war that puts everyone in danger and Mary has to try to cover up her own involvement in the hit. Meanwhile the other hitman in the mob, and her former flame, becomes suspicious when he starts to put the pieces together about where Danny came from. The mob boss also starts to take a shine to Danny and begins to groom him to be part of the family. Seeing her chance at escaping the mob world closing and Danny being sucked into it along with her, she makes one final dash for freedom. Unfortunately the mobsters are there first and take Danny as bait. You know what that means! Extended fight scene choreographed to music! Hooray. She indeed kills everyone to the bopping tunes of Proud Mary and everyone in the audience is bopping along too and is like “you know what, I actually kinda like this movie now that I have a sweet soundtrack to the merciless killings I’m witnessing.” They then escape and laugh about how many people they saw die. THE END.

Why?! The biggest question in the movie is Mary’s motivations. It becomes clear that Mary sees something of herself in Danny. She grew up on the street and Benny ended up taking her under his wing and training her as a hitwoman. Now she can’t ever escape. Clearly things were and are heading that way for Danny too and she wants to desperately keep that from happening.

Who?! I wonder what this film would be like if you inserted a Planchet into the middle of it. Just a chubby bumbling fool who just wants to do good by Benny but everyone shits on him. The movie’s already better. Also have to give a shout out to our boy Neal McDonough. *Italian chef kiss* Magnifique.

What?! I believe this film was fully financed as an extended commercial for Maserati… what’s that? It wasn’t? Could have fooled me. That’s because Mary’s Maserati had more character development than our primary antagonist Tom, the slab of meat hitman with a heart of shit. I actually felt more sadness when the car got all shot up and broken at the end than the five hundred people that were killed. But that car kept on trucking… solid Italian engineering.

Where?! Boston, baby. I was trying to find out what towns they filmed in and there were a bunch of articles claiming that the film was made in Boston, but is meant to be set in New York. Ha! Nope. This is Boston through and through, from the MA license plates, to the T rides, to Danny being from Jamaica Plain, and the real time baseball game they attended at Fenway Park (one of those may not be entirely true). B+.

When?! I didn’t espy anything that would indicate when this took place. I guess maybe the summer because Mary never seems particularly concerned or interested in getting Danny to go to school or do anything but sit in her apartment. Although I also feel like there were a lot of jackets… probably means that this is an F.

This movie is just not very good. For the first thirty minutes it was very expository in just trying to set up the story and felt either confusing or boring or both. Once it got past that, though, I liked the mob family dynamic and the two action scenes so it was fine… I guess the young actor was good. He had a little ‘tude (as the kids say)… that’s all I got. You know it isn’t a great BMT film when I can only gather a couple lackluster sentences about it. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Every year we go through the worst of the worst of the year … and somehow every year we end up watching weirdo films that no one will remember in a year. Midnight Sun? Death Wish (2018)? Proud Mary? Ain’t nobody gonna have time to watch those in a year. I guess all the more reason to do them now. Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – Coming off of the small-feeling Midnight Sun I became somewhat hesitant about what appeared to be an equally small Proud Mary. Some bits of the preview suggested the film was a catastrophe, the IMDb rating in particular, but other bits made it seem just not as cool or fun as people wanted. I was hoping it was going to be a fun catastrophe because honestly … usually small bad films that aren’t are just boring.

The Good – The main character is good. The last third of the film gets its engine going and it just crazy enough to be a bit of fun. The film looks polished, even if the direction and writing often isn’t. All things considered remaking Gloria in this vein wasn’t a terrible idea, it was just not executed very well. It isn’t like Gloria is some amazing 80s masterpiece, and the remake feels like it has a point to make as well.

The Bad – The writing is terrible and the film does seem very small. The first third is pretty boring and kind of dumb. The actors besides the main character are either old and don’t seem to care (Danny Glover) or television actors or children and thus don’t really cut it, even for a film trying desperately to be an action film. The action at the end pushed it a bit too far into ludicrousness, not an inch of her car is not covered in a bullet hole and I’m supposed to believe she somehow survived? That’s probably the hardest bit to swallow, that even when they end up stumbling into an interesting bit it still feels like the director missed on how to make everything work.

You Just Got Schooled – Not much to really do here since I didn’t watch Gloria. I should have, but I didn’t. So I’ll just say that Proud Mary being both a song title and a movie title is not at all very rare. Which is surprising. Some of the examples are pushing it (like Ghostbusters, where the song is just the theme for the movie itself), but there are three bad movies which share the name of a song which are worse than Proud Mary by BMeTric. Deck the Halls (the Christmas film starring Matthew Broderick), My Girl 2, and Johnny Be Good (with Anthony Michael Hall). All three of those films are suppose to be terrible, and we’ve seen none of them. So at the moment Proud Mary is the worst film we’ve seen which shares its name with a song title! The more you know.

The BMT – Hmmmmmm. As I reflected on in the intro we do tend to end up watching kind of random films in this cycle for some reason. I don’t think this would make the cut when thinking back on 2018 in bad films in particular. I had had hopes, but unless the director hits it big, or some trend (like remaking 70s/80s films with predominantly black casts) becomes the next big thing, I don’t really see why Proud Mary would stand out for any reason whatsoever.

Welcome to Earf! – This is actually an easy one. Neal McDonough is in Proud Mary and Street Fighter: Legend of Chun Li, which also stars Chris Klein, star of Here on Earth. Welcome to Earf!

StreetCreditReport.com – We have real lists now! From the AV Club, Variety, and Rolling Stone. You may or may not be surprised to learn that we actually haven’t seen many of the films on these lists. Part of that is because we are a bit more strict in our criteria than critics can be (Jurassic World 2 simply does not qualify), but mostly it is because a lot of these films are late summer, most are action films and thus can’t all be done in a cycle, and others are just too small to legitimize … but yeah, I wish these lists came out earlier because it would help a ton in getting a good cycle going.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs