Armageddon Recap

Jamie

When an asteroid is found to be hurtling towards Earth, NASA has to turn to a group of oilmen led by Harry Stamper to figure out how to blow it up. Can Harry become an astronaut, learn to trust AJ (the hotshot boyfriend of his daughter), and stop that asteroid before it’s too late? Find out in… Armageddon.

How?! We open with the destruction of a space shuttle mission and parts of several major US cities (naturally, this is Michael Bay) and NASA scrambles to figure out what it was. Turns out a giant asteroid is on its way and boy howdy do they need some help figuring out how to drill a hole in it and blow it up (I feel like there’s a metaphor here). Who you gonna call? Harry Stamper, duh. But he’s also going through his own major catastrophe as he’s just found out that his cocky hotshot partner is dating his daughter. Oh no! That’s just as bad as that asteroid stuff. No time to figure it out though because the government comes and brings him to Houston. There they are like, can you help us? And he’s like “not with these jokester astronauts. Me and my bozo gang of misfits have to be your astronauts.” So they get the gang together, go through some real intense training, and then remember what they are fighting for by visiting family and going to a strip club (to two most american things you can do). The plan is to get some fuel from the Russian space station, swing around the moon, and land on the asteroid, but things immediately go wrong when the junky Russian space station blows up. They swing around the moon but get caught in asteroid debris and one of the spaceships go down, including AJ. Noooo. The other spaceship overshoots the landing spot and has to drill through an iron plate. It’s slow going and they keep breaking parts of the driller and it looks like all is lost when the drill monster truck blows up and flies into space. Things start going nuts with the government trying to blow up the nuke from the surface and people getting “space madness,” but unbeknownst to everyone AJ is being a total hero and he and a few of the others make their way from their wreck and arrive in time to save the day. AJ pushes that drill monster truck like no one has ever pushed a drill monster truck before and totally gets that nuke in there (still feeling like a metaphor), but uh oh! The nuke can’t be detonated from the surface! Someone will have to step in. That man is Harry and he gives a rousing speech to his daughter and saves the goddamn world! After coming back everyone forgets how shitty everyone was before and greet them like heroes. THE END.

Why?! You’re probably all like “for humanity, duh.” *shakes head sadly* you learned nothing. It’s for love, man. Love. And your eyes, your eyes, your eyes. They tell me how much you care. Ooooh yes, you will always be… my… endless looooove. Armageddon.

Who?! Hail to the Chief! We have the election of an unnamed President to the BMT Hall of Presidents played by Stanley Anderson. Has he played the President in other films? Why yes. In The Rock, also directed by Michael Bay and also the greatest film ever made. Does that mean those two films take place during the same presidential term? Probably. Also need to shoutout the least heralded member of the Armageddon crew: Noonan, played by Clark Brolly. I did not remember this character until this viewing and he really does get short shrift when all is said and done. As Ben Affleck is crying over Owen Wilson’s body he just kinda implies that Noonan was also killed on impact. Who is Noonan?!

What?! Some real iconic product placement here for Animal Crackers. There is probably some more blatant placement for Nokia or TAG Hauer, but the Animal Cracker scene is perfection. I don’t want to close my eyesssss. I don’t want to falll asleep. Cause I’d miss you babe and I don’t want to miss a thaaaaannnnngggggggggg. As for props there are some real gems here. A Stamper Oil hard hat?! AJ’s space costume?! How do I choose just one?

Where?! We got scenes all over the place. These are the types of films that really would help cover a large portion of a world map. But really this is set in Texas and Space… a solid choice for the catchall setting, Space. As specific as needed and quite necessary. A.

When?! I do not believe that they make it clear when the film takes place. Seems like the summer given the sweltering look of NYC in the beginning. Usually I’m all like “but only if I could get my hands on some props,” well from the website above I can… they purposefully don’t have any dates on it. So I think they never really make it clear other than to say that the events of the film take place over almost exactly 18 days. F.

Armageddon is the greatest film ever made. Patrick?… oh, should I elaborate on that? I sat down to watch this movie and was like “It’s pretty late, I’ll watch half the movie and then finish it tomorrow.” Three hours later, with tears streaming down my face, I finished watching Armageddon. I literally didn’t want to close my eyes… didn’t want to fall asleep… cause I’d miss Armageddon and I didn’t want to miss a thing. Now, just to be clear, when I say Armageddon is the greatest film ever made I don’t mean that it’s like the best film ever made or anything crazy like that. It just hits all the right buttons for me and allows me to forgive all the bad visual effects, scientific inaccuracies, ludicrous plot devices, and the fact that Michael Bay films America like it still is 1957… even when astronauts are flying souped-up space shuttles to an asteroid to plant a nuke using a monster truck space drill. I forgive all that because Ben Affleck is playing with animal crackers and is like “I hope other people are doing this, because otherwise what are we fighting for,” and Bruce Willis telling his daughter that he’ll look in on her from time to time before sacrificing himself for the good of humanity. As A1 steak sauce would say, it gets me right here *points to heart*. Patrick?

‘Ello everyone! Sometimes for BMT we re-watch a film we’ve seen before to give it the real BMT treatment. And sometimes we … watch a film for the like 50th time and revel in it and make fun of all the no-fun-having critics who hate explosions and America. Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – You think I didn’t already know everything about Armageddon? The most interesting things were that it was nominated for several Oscars. More rare than you would think for BMT. You’d think more terrible films would still manage the technical awards. And that this was the most successful Michael Bay film outside of the Transformers films, which is also fun.

The Good – Uh … this film? The film is good? More seriously, the first half of the film is very fun. Just balls to the wall grumpy Bruce Willis telling the eggheads at NASA what’s what about drilling in space. Lots of funny characters, lots of funny lines, and great visuals that hold up. The cosmonaut character is still the best as well. Just absolutely the funniest. The last third is a bit melodramatic, and the asteroid set … has problems. But the movie is gosh darn entertaining. I would watch it again right now if you asked me to.

The Bad – The asteroid set is ludicrous. I think if they had had a bit more time they could have whipped something together that looked fine … but it doesn’t. Very melodramatic, and basically the definition of inserting a romantic subplot into an action film for no reason (and Bay would repeat the same mistake in Pearl Harbor). Some bits here and there are problematic (Buscemi suggesting he committed statatory rape being played for laughs isn’t great), but hey, it’s an action film in 1998.

The BMT – There is, in my opinion, more good than bad here. I don’t think this film comes out to the same reviews these days. I think it gets a very respectable “good for what it is” like … 50-60% on Rotten Tomatoes released today. So no. Of course it isn’t BMT. It is too good. I will never accept this film isn’t good. It is like Hook, I saw it at just the right time to love it and it’ll always tug at that bit of nostalgia. I can’t help myself.

Roast-radamus – Can we get a Where? for the asteroid? No? I’m going to give it a What? (Product Placement) though. What product? NASA and the US Military of course. Legitimately this is US propaganda, but whatever, I love it. Something about this film screams Why? to me. Is it a MacGuffin? No, but the entire thing about the 800 foot hole they are trying to drill on the asteroid is just too much. How they are all so sad when they are only at 250 feet. When they are so happy when they cross this arbitrary point. It is just so good. I have a sneaking suspicion this is a shoe in for Good as well because … well, just read my review.

StreetCreditReport.com – As usual, all of these films have a lot of cred already because Siskel and Ebert put it on their worst of list for 1998. And crazily … I can’t find any other lists where it was mentioned. There are so many bad disaster films it doesn’t even get close to the lists it seems. So good for Armageddon, it ain’t got the cred.

You Just Got Schooled – You may or may not have heard of the notorious Ben Affleck Armageddon audio commentary. The most famous bit is when he talks about how he asked Michael Bay why they couldn’t just send astronauts up to drill on the asteroid, and Michael Bay told him to shut up. (1) His Michael Bay and Billy Bob Thornton impressions are second to none. (2) His on set stories are really interesting, like about how much stuff leaked in from other projects, and how crap everything looked when you are actually doing it. (3) He basically has the same opinion as me about the patriotic aspects, he says he’s mostly a cynic about such things, but something about Armageddon he likes and he finds really powerful. People think he was drunk, but I think he was mostly just tired. If you listen to the entire thing, he is far too coherent for way too long while watching the entire film for the drunk idea to hold much water. A+ audio commentary, especially this svelte 30 minute cut which is just Affleck and not the other people:

Cheerios, and back to you Jamie!

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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Armageddon Quiz

Don’t wanna close my eyeeeeeeeees. Don’t want to fall asleep, ‘cause I’d miss you baby, and I don’t want to miss a thiiii-iiing. Did you miss anything?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) Harry is the baddest m-f-ing oil driller on the high seas, and his crew? It’s the best. AJ though, he can get a little wild. What two major mistakes does AJ make to get himself fired?

2) Let’s get into some asteroid facts! How big was the asteroid, which city do we see get hit by the asteroid in the beginning of the film, and which city is completely destroyed by the asteroid in the middle of the film?

3) Describe in as much detail as possible the actual plan to destroy the asteroid. And while you do this please laugh as little as possible.

4) Who were in the crews, who died, and how did they die? No need for names, but please, an hour of silence for our fallen heroes.

5) At the end of the film all of the remaining heroes draw straws to see who has to stay behind and detonate the bomb manually. Why do they have to detonate it manually?

Answers

Armageddon Preview

Rich and Elvira the tree monster nanny are smooching hard. It’s real sexy and steamy and inappropriate to describe the scandalous nature of their forbidden love. Oh how forbidden! What a mismatched pair! What a indecent proposal! What a fatal attraction! What a… uh… wild orchid! In between bouts of steamy make-out sessions Elivira reveals that her real name is Jade and that Elivira is just a front that Gruber convinced her to put on to further his dastardly plan. “But what’s the plan?” asks Rich, taking a break from their sensual lovemaking. But Jade doesn’t know. “Well there’s only one way to find out.” Jade protests, but Rich quiets her with a kiss. “Nothing can stop us when we’re together,” and off they go to deliver him into Gruber’s hands. As they enter the arcade, it’s empty. Were they gone for so long totally frenching? Suddenly Gruber spins around in a chair, “well, well, well Rich. How nice of you to join us. Seems like you and Elvira have been having quite the time… or should I say… Jade?” Gruber already knows! Rich rips off his shirt ready to pound on Gruber, but he puts up his finger, “Not in front of your best friend and his little old granny.” Suddenly a panel in the wall spins around revealing Poe and his granny hanging suspended above a tank of electric eels. “You bastard,” Rich says through clenched teeth, “What do you want from us?” Gruber laughs, “Always so slow. Perhaps this will give you a clue.” With that another wall panel spins. “My god, it’s Jim McBrawn, renowned astronaut and sex symbol,” Rich exclaims. Gruber laughs again, “That’s right and you’re going to impersonate him and help me… hold the moon ransom!” That’s right! We’re watching one of the greatest movies ever made, Armageddon. You’re probably like, “bro, you even watch bad movies. That shit can’t possibly qualify.” Oh but it does. By the slimmest of margins. And that’s the first mistake, because leave an opening for us to watch Armageddon and we’re gonna slither in like a couple of greased up snakes at a county fair. Hooooooo weeeeeeeeeeeeeee… anyway, this indeed was Ebert’s worst film of 1998 while Siskel gave his award to none other than Patch Adams. All I gotta say is I’m much more excited to watch Armageddon than I would be to watch Patch Adams. Let’s go!

Armageddon (1998) – BMeTric: 14.8

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(Wow, the BMeTric just collapsed. Probably appropriate. Armageddon is ridiculously fun. I’ve seen it like 15 times. It is a little shocking just how much the critics hated the film. But that’s an opportunity for us to watch a good film for BMT)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars –  Opens with a bang, and sets up an exciting (it improbable) story about NASA and the U.S. government turning to a veteran oil-well driller and his motley team to save humanity by flying to an asteroid and planting a nuclear bomb. After a while it becomes so routine, so predictable, and so redundant that all the fun is drained away.

(Hard disagree, but two stars sounds about right. It is a perfectly even film. On the one hand it is fun as hell and so so sincere. On the other it is just such a logical conclusion to 80s/90s action films that, as Leonard says, you can predict what is going to happen at every moment.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vizwnpbwO0w/

(I love it. “You have twelve days” … why? Why not just do it in 10 or 11? Why? Then you’d just have however long you want to complete the mission instead of literally (spoiler alert) blowing up the asteroid with one second to spare.)

Directors – Michael Bay – (Known For: Transformers; The Rock; Bad Boys; 13 Hours; Pain & Gain; Future BMT: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen; Pearl Harbor; Transformers: Dark of the Moon; Bad Boys II; The Island; BMT: Transformers: The Last Knight; Transformers: Age of Extinction; Armageddon; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Director in 2010 for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen; and in 2015 for Transformers: Age of Extinction; and Nominee for Worst Director in 1999 for Armageddon; in 2002 for Pearl Harbor; in 2012 for Transformers: Dark of the Moon; and in 2018 for Transformers: The Last Knight; Notes: Loves English Mastiffs, and produces a bunch of horror films like the Friday the 13th reboot.)

Writers – Jonathan Hensleigh (screenplay & story) – (Known For: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle; Jumanji; Die Hard: With a Vengeance; Kill the Irishman; A Far Off Place; Future BMT: Next; The Saint; The Punisher; BMT: Armageddon; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Armageddon in 1999; Notes: )

J.J. Abrams (screenplay) – (Known For: Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens; Super 8; Mission: Impossible III; Joy Ride; Forever Young; Regarding Henry; Future BMT: Gone Fishin’; Filofax; BMT: Armageddon; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Armageddon in 1999; Notes: His father is Gerald William Abrams a television producer from the 80s. His sister is also a screenwriter.)

Tony Gilroy (adaptation) – (Known For: Rogue One; The Devil’s Advocate; The Bourne Identity; The Negotiator; The Bourne Supremacy; The Bourne Legacy; The Bourne Ultimatum; Dolores Claiborne; State of Play; Michael Clayton; The Cutting Edge; Duplicity; Extreme Measures; Future BMT: The Great Wall; Bait; Proof of Life; BMT: Armageddon; Notes: Has two brothers. Tony Gilroy is a very accomplished editor. And Dan Gilroy is also a writer (and married to Rene Russo).)

Shane Salerno (adaptation) – (Known For: Savages; Shaft; BMT: AVPR: Aliens vs Predator – Requiem; Armageddon; Notes: Was just 21 when he began writing on NYPD Blue. He is apparently writing Avatar 3.)

Robert Roy Pool (story) – (Known For: Outbreak; The Big Town; BMT: Armageddon; Notes: A little unclear what he’s been up to for the last 20 years, but worked with Laurence Dworet, a doctor, on writing the Outbreak screenplay.)

Actors – Bruce Willis – (Known For: The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part; Pulp Fiction; Split; Unbreakable; The Sixth Sense; The Fifth Element; Die Hard; Sin City; RED; Looper; Twelve Monkeys; RED 2; Moonrise Kingdom; Sin City: A Dame to Kill For; Die Hard 4.0; The Expendables; The Expendables 2; Ocean’s Twelve; Planet Terror; Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle; Future BMT: Look Who’s Talking Too; Vice; The Cold Light of Day; The Prince; Extraction; Lay the Favorite; Precious Cargo; Breakfast of Champions; First Kill; Cop Out; Reprisal; Once Upon a Time in Venice; Marauders; Acts of Violence; Fire with Fire; Perfect Stranger; Striking Distance; Rock the Kasbah; The Story of Us; Blind Date; Rugrats Go Wild; Mercury Rising; Loaded Weapon 1; Billy Bathgate; Surrogates; Sunset; The Jackal; Last Man Standing; Tears of the Sun; Hostage; Grand Champion; Glass; Four Rooms; BMT: North; A Good Day to Die Hard; Color of Night; The Whole Ten Yards; The Bonfire of the Vanities; G.I. Joe: Retaliation; Hudson Hawk; Death Wish; Armageddon; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Screenplay for Hudson Hawk in 1992; Winner for Worst Actor in 1999 for Armageddon, Mercury Rising, and The Siege; and Nominee for Worst Actor in 1992 for Hudson Hawk; in 1995 for Color of Night, and North; and in 2019 for Death Wish; Notes: Y’all know Bruce Willis. Famously married to Demi Moore for years, now married to model Emma Heming Willis.)

Billy Bob Thornton – (Known For: Tombstone; Love Actually; The Judge; Monster’s Ball; Princess Mononoke; Faster; Bound by Honor; Whiskey Tango Foxtrot; Sling Blade; Intolerable Cruelty; Dead Man; Puss in Boots; Friday Night Lights; The Man Who Wasn’t There; A Simple Plan; U Turn; Bad Santa; Bandits; Bad News Bears; Parkland; Future BMT: The Informers; An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn; Bad Santa 2; Into the Grizzly Maze; London Fields; Indecent Proposal; School for Scoundrels; Waking Up in Reno; The Alamo; Our Brand Is Crisis; South of Heaven, West of Hell; Cut Bank; Eagle Eye; The Baytown Outlaws; Entourage; Levity; The Winner; The Badge; Jayne Mansfield’s Car; BMT: On Deadly Ground; Mr. Woodcock; Armageddon; Notes: Y’all know Billy Bob. All the news on google is about his band which I think is called Billy Bob Thornton and the Boxmasters … I would have thought it was just The Boxmasters, but given the ‘t’ isn’t capitalized it has to include his full name.)

Ben Affleck – (Known For: Triple Frontier; Justice League; Gone Girl; Dazed and Confused; The Accountant; Good Will Hunting; Argo; The Town; He’s Just Not That Into You; Field of Dreams; Daredevil; Dogma; Shakespeare in Love; Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back; The Company Men; Chasing Amy; Clerks II; Mallrats; State of Play; The Sum of All Fears; Future BMT: Surviving Christmas; Runner Runner; Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Reindeer Games; Suicide Squad; Man About Town; Pearl Harbor; 200 Cigarettes; The Third Wheel; Live by Night; Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; Smokin’ Aces; BMT: Gigli; Phantoms; Paycheck; Armageddon; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Actor in 2004 for Daredevil, Gigli, and Paycheck; Winner for Worst Screen Combo for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2017; Winner for Worst Screen Couple for Gigli in 2004; Nominee for Worst Actor in 2002 for Pearl Harbor; in 2005 for Jersey Girl, and Surviving Christmas; and in 2017 for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; Nominee for Worst Actor of the Decade in 2010 for Daredevil, Gigli, Jersey Girl, Paycheck, Pearl Harbor, and Surviving Christmas; and Nominee for Worst Screen Couple in 1999 for Armageddon; in 2002 for Pearl Harbor; and in 2005 for Jersey Girl; Notes: His next film Torrance sounds suspiciously like Hardball with Keanu Reeves. Had a giant Netflix success with Triple Frontier recently.)

Budget/Gross – $140 million / Domestic: $201,578,182 (Worldwide: $553,709,788)

(These days that would be an underperformance, but that is kind of okay in the end. Bay’s biggest success until the Transformer franchise, so I think this was basically the ceiling for the type of action film Bay was producing around that time.)

#7 for the Disaster genre

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(Absolute pinnacle of the genre in 1998. It tried to make a comeback recently, I think because people tend to like disaster stuff when things are going well in the US. Seems like that is waning now though.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 38% (45/120): Lovely to look at but about as intelligent as the asteroid that serves as the movie’s antagonist, Armageddon slickly sums up the cinematic legacies of producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Michael Bay.

(Basically nails it. Prior to the re-watch I decided this film was the logical conclusion to Top Gun and disaster films smushed together. Reviewer Highlight: It’s strictly a side issue whether mankind will survive colliding with an asteroid the size of Texas; the real question is whether Liv Tyler, who plays Bruce Willis’s daughter, gets to keep her boyfriend. – Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader)

Poster – Sklogageddon (A-)

armageddon_ver4

(It’s actually beautiful. Well spaced. I like the orange color, which is both the color of fire and Michael Bay as a whole. A little on the fence whether the font is good or not… you can barely see that it’s unique because of the fire. But it is unique.)

Tagline(s) – For Love. For Honor. For Mankind. (A)

(Yes, yes, and yes. That tagline is nearly perfect. Maybe add a dash of wit and you’d be up at the top. I also feel like it would be a good advertising scheme. Like, “For Love. For Honor. For Mankind… Four Loko.” Nailed it.)

Keyword(s) – asteroid; Top Ten by BMeTric: 74.8 After Earth (2013); 52.0 Green Lantern (2011); 48.3 Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007); 46.5 Space Station 76 (2014); 41.9 Meteor (1979); 41.6 Ice Age: Collision Course (2016); 38.4 Galaxina (1980); 38.4 The Phantom Planet (1961); 34.8 The Green Slime (1968); 34.4 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009);

(Wow, how haven’t we seen more of these? Well, I guess I’ve seen Green Lantern and all of the Transformers. I’m excited for Fantastic 4 2 though.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 16) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Michael Clarke Duncan is No. 8 billed in Armageddon and No. 4 billed in Street Fighter: Legend of Chun Li, which also stars Chris Klein (No. 2 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 2 billed) => 8 + 4 + 2 + 2 = 16. If we were to watch Pearl Harbor we can get the HoE Number down to 9.

Notes – N.A.S.A. shows this film during their management training program. New managers are given the task of trying to spot as many errors as possible. At least one hundred sixty-eight have been found. (Makes sense, I can’t help but laugh that they decided to have both space shuttles blast off at the same time)

Regarding the film’s premise, Ben Affleck asked Director Michael Bay, “Wouldn’t it be easier for N.A.S.A. to train astronauts how to drill rather than training drillers to be astronauts?” Bay told Affleck to shut up. Besides, the reasoning behind sending drillers, rather than training astronauts, is explained in the movie. (Straight from the notorious audio commentary. To be fair to Ben he acknowledges that it is explained in the movie … that explanation was “my guys are the best” which is equally ridiculous. I don’t doubt the scene was added to the script precisely because it was glaringly obvious that that was the better solution)

Steve Buscemi claimed that the role of Rockhound was pitched to him as a heroic geologist, which he eagerly accepted, wanting a change from the lowlifes, as whom he had been typecast. He noted that after he had been cast in the role, Rockhound’s sleazy characteristics were written into the script. (Great. Out of everything this aspect ages the worst. They suggest he’s a rapist basically so …)

Rockhound’s line about sitting on a million pounds of fuel in a rocket built by the lowest bidder is a variation of an actual radio transmission by Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard, just prior to lift-off. (Cool)

Because of the patriotic nature of the script, and the success of using Top Gun (1986) as recruitment material, the producers persuaded N.A.S.A. to allow Director Michael Bay and company to shoot in the normally restricted space agency. This included the neutral buoyancy lab, a sixty-five-million-gallon, forty-foot-deep pool used to train astronauts for weightlessness, and the use of two ten-million-dollar space suits. The crew was also allowed to shoot in the historic launch pad that went out of service after the Apollo 1 disaster, and parts of the movie were filmed at Edwards Air Force Base in California. (Yup. Works really well it turns out)

Michael Bay had the actors write their list of demands on the papers from which Bruce Willis read.

The shuttle launches were filmed for real. Disney (Touchstone Pictures) was allowed to put cameras (about sixteen of them) all over the place. The camera on the launch pad was shaken so hard (25G) that all the screws fell out of the lens, and it had to be returned to Panavision in a box of pieces (which they put back together).

The film crew was also allowed to shoot sequences at the top of a real launch pad, with an actual space shuttle docked to it. The only condition was that they not step into the shuttle itself. Ben Affleck admitted to stepping inside the orbiter for a brief moment, before N.A.S.A. technicians ordered him out of the spacecraft. (Maybe for contamination reasons, but that’s hilarious)

Bruce Willis has said that he did not care for Michael Bay’s directing style, and he refuses to work with him again. (ha!)

When asked why he did this film, Steve Buscemi replied, “I wanted a bigger house”.

Bruce Willis came to the film after he decided a comedy he was filming called “Broadway Brawler” could not be salvaged, and sought a way to exit the project. Disney’s then-head Joe Roth worked out a deal where Willis would star in Armageddon and two future films for the studio, and in exchange, Disney would absorb the failed project’s costs as an advance against his initial salary. The two films Willis later made under this deal were The Sixth Sense (1999) and Unbreakable (2000). (I love these silly stories from Hollywood, what a weird business)

Michael Clarke Duncan improvised the line, “Come and get Papa Bear!” This later became one of the actor’s nicknames.

Despite playing one of the principal characters, Michael Clarke Duncan’s name does not appear in the opening credits.

Michael Bay thinks Armageddon is his worst film. “I will apologize for Armageddon, because we had to do the whole movie in sixteen weeks”, he told The Miami Herald in 2013. “It was a massive undertaking. That was not fair to the movie. I would redo the entire third act if I could.” (Yeah, it is definitely the weakest part. The asteroid looks ridiculous, and the movie suffers a bit. Plus the time jumps are crazy. They’ll be like “Hey can we do this in two hours?” and then literally two seconds later “We only have ten minutes left!” It is really jarring)

Billy Bob Thornton told Michael Bay that his backstory for Truman was that he was on track to join N.A.S.A. as an astronaut, but suffered crippling nerve damage as a young man, and was only able to serve as an administrator. Bay loved the idea, and had a scene written that refers to this by showing a metal brace on Truman’s leg.

During the filming of this movie, the cast and crew worked around nineteen billion dollars worth of equipment, including a real oil rig and real space shuttle.

According to the Criterion Collection commentary, many of the errors found in the film were acknowledged by the director, and known even during filming and production and were left in deliberately (such as fire in space). Michael Bay said, “It’s a movie and not many people know about it”, so they were kept in for entertainment value.

Billy Bob Thornton has admitted to doing this film for the money and often jokes about acting in it. He has, however, called it “not THAT bad”. (It isn’t that bad)

By the time of its release, this was the Walt Disney Company’s highest-grossing live-action film (without adjustment for inflation). (Oh so times have changed)

The convenient existence of a fault plane passing right through the asteroid is not unrealistic. Several asteroids are now believed to be “contact binaries”, each apparently consisting of two separate lumps of rock that are just sitting on each other.

The original script did not include the romantic subplot between A.J. (Ben Affleck) and Grace (Liv Tyler), and instead had more emphasis on Truman. It was added after the success of Titanic (1997) with teenage girls. Most of the romantic scenes were written by Scott Rosenberg and were filmed late in production. (WHAT, that’s crazy. I think it works though, Liv Tyler’s scenes with Affleck and Willis is a touch of humanity the movie needs as cheesy as it all is)

Michael Bay said in a magazine interview that the solution in the movie for dealing with the asteroid was very clever, but not realistic, but that one idea for countering the threat was in line with actual N.A.S.A. research (anti-gravity systems). He also said that a problem with a film like this, was that it would make Americans erroneously think that if a situation like the movie actually occurred, then there was anything that could be done about it. (Yeah we’d all be dead. That being said, we would have known about the asteroid waaaaaay before that. We would have known about the errant comet and its path through the asteroid belt years before it ever happened, as if we wouldn’t track a comet flying through our solar system)

Stanley Anderson, who played the U.S. President, also played the U.S. President in The Rock (1996). (I love fake presidents)

Arnold Schwarzenegger was considered for the role of Harry Stamper. (Wow, what a movie that would be … that is blowing my mind)

Scott Rosenberg, Robert Towne, and Ann Biderman all did uncredited work on the screenplay. J.J. Abrams’ original contribution was also going to be uncredited, but Michael Bay liked it so much, that Abrams was brought back for additional dialogue work, and ended up sharing a Story credit with Shane Salerno.

Ben Affleck has practically disowned the movie, even repeatedly making fun of it on the commentary.

Bruce Willis was given a second trailer that housed a full working gym, at an estimated cost of one hundred seventy-five thousand dollars. It was reportedly never used. (HA, go get yo’ money Bruce)

Lawrence Tierney repeatedly turned down the part of Harry’s father, until he was offered a substantial pay raise. (……… he is uncredited in the film … but that must have been cut. I don’t recall a scene with Harry’s father)

DIRECTOR CAMEO (Michael Bay): As a N.A.S.A. scientist. Shown after Carl asks to name the asteroid Dottie. (I noticed this real time during the watch. It is super quick)

This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #40. (It’s in the Criterion Collection?)

Awards – Nominee for the Oscar for Best Sound (Kevin O’Connell, Greg P. Russell, Keith A. Wester, 1999)

Nominee for the Oscar for Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing (George Watters II, 1999)

Nominee for the Oscar for Best Effects, Visual Effects (Richard R. Hoover, Pat McClung, John Frazier, 1999)

Nominee for the Oscar for Best Music, Original Song (Diane Warren, 1999)

Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Bruce Willis, 1999)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Picture (Jerry Bruckheimer, Gale Anne Hurd, Michael Bay, 1999)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Screen Couple (Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, 1999)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress (Liv Tyler, 1999)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Director (Michael Bay, 1999)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (Jonathan Hensleigh, J.J. Abrams, 1999)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Original Song (Diane Warren, 1999)

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!

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

ThePostmanIMDb_BMeT

ThePostmanIMDb_RV

(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

postman_future

(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-)

postman_ver3

(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