Primeval Recap

Jamie

Looking for the next big story for their news network, Tim, Steven, and Aviva are sent to Burundi to track down a giant, man-eating crocodile named Gustave. But Gustave isn’t the only thing they need to worry about as the area is terrorized by a local warlord nicknamed Little Gustave. Will they be able to catch the croc before it’s too late? Find out in… Primeval.

How?! Ace reporter Tim is in some hot water. Not (yet) because of a large killer croc, but because he screwed up a news story using an unreliable source. Uh oh! In order to make it up to his boss he is sent on a sensationalist story about a killer crocodile named Gustave in Burundi with hack (or is she?) reporter Aviva and his cameraman Steven. The place is a literal war zone, so they are immediately in danger from a local warlord nicknamed Little Gustave. Add a cranky local guide and an egotistical crocodile expert determined to catch, not kill, Gustave and you got a recipe for a horror film… you know… if a big crocodile who just wants to eat and be an animal is your type of monster. After their first attempt at capture goes awry and Steven catches Little Gustave’s minions killing a local priest on camera things quickly fall apart and they are trapped in the wilds with only Gustave for company. They start to be picked off one-by-one by Gustave only for things to get even worse when Little Gustave’s men show up to finish the job. In the chaos Steven is killed by Gustave and Tim and Aviva are able to just barely get away only to fall into the hands of Little Gustave himself. Meaning to destroy the evidence of his criminal activity, he forces Tim to take him into the swamp. Tim uses this to his advantage in order to bring Little Gustave and Gustave together, much to the detriment of Little Gustave. Tim and Aviva run off and are just able to escape with their lives from the clutches of Gustave. Flying back to America they are all happy and probably smooch or something. THE END.

Why?! Fame and fortune, kinda. Aviva wants to legitimize herself in the world of journalism and uses her connection to Tim’s boss to get this crocodile story off the ground. Tim on the other hand just had a story go awry and needs to get back in his boss’ good graces. Thus is born the super team of Tim and Aviva, animal hunting journalists extraordinaire. How didn’t this spawn a franchise? The crocodile on the other hand is just a giant animal and is hungry.

Who?! Every once in a while I realize that there is a new category we should probably be looking out for in this part. That’s because none other than Kent Shocknek appears in this film as a news anchor. He is best known as… well a newscaster who parlayed his popularity into a long career in film and TV. We’ve actually already seen him in such films as First Daughter, Envy, and xXx: State of the Union. Most often he appears as a newscaster, but other times as a “contentious reporter.” Oooo, feisty.

What?! The things that go on sale from film is sometimes bizarrely wonderful. In this case you can find a closed auction for the prop corpse of Orlando Jones. I mean, I guess I can understand why the studio decided they could let that prize go, but I can’t really understand why anyone would buy it. Maybe for a bachelor party or something where you get to go around town toting Orlando Jones for funsies. But afterwards that’s going in a trash can.

Where?! The true prize of this film is the Burundi setting. It’s so in your face that you could argue that this is more of a Burundi film than a crocodile film. I thought for sure we’d be uneasily sitting here asking ourselves whether mentioning Burundi once is enough to be sure the film takes place there. Nope. This is very very very very very very much set in Burundi. A. When?! I couldn’t catch a specific time for this film, but it is interesting that it seems to be a period piece. At the end of the film they talk about a 2005 Burundi Civil War cease fire in 2005 as if it took place after the events of the film, which was released in 2007. This seems confirmed by Variety which also concluded that “Since action is set in pre-2005 Burundi, violence is still rife between warlords and anyone who gets in their way.” Weird. D+.

Meh… like, really. Meh. Not scary to a degree that makes you wonder whether they were even aware they were making a horror film. On the edge of dropping over into “Drama about a civil war in Burundi that also happens to feature a crocodile” territory, they seem even less interested in the crocodile that I was. It got to the point where in the end of the film, presumably where I was supposed to be rooting for our heroes to escape with their lives, I was mostly thinking that it was kinda lame that these randos walked into Burundi and started messing with this crocodile. The only other thing to say is that this is a good reminder why Dominic Purcell mostly spends his time promoting possible spin-offs and new seasons for the greatest thing that ever happened to him: Prison Break. He was… not good. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Like what if we made Jaws, but instead of a shark it is a crocodile whose CGI is so bad we can only really show it sporadically at night … that’s like the same thing as Jaws right? Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – Obviously I was delighted at how Burundi this film was in the preview. Always fun seeing a strong setting. Otherwise there were two defining features of the preview. First, that the film is basically just television actor galore, which is a good sign for it being ultra cheesy. And second, the ad campaign surrounding this seems nuts. It is hard to tell how much they pushed the “serial killer” angle, but it apparently was confusing enough that The Numbers genuinely defines this film as a serial killer film … it is not. What were my expectations? I figured it was going to be just a bad creature feature. Trying to play the Jaws angle for a not very impressive ultimate reveal, as bad creature features are wont to do. And I figured the main actors were going to be terrible because … I mean they are the stars of The Net 2.0 and Prison Break so …

The Good – I guess one could say the political nature of the film is a bit admirable? Like it is trying to do something at least, and I want to give it credit for that. I enjoy how directly they address the creature in the film. They don’t beat around the bush. They go to the creatures stomping grounds, set up a trap, and then the creature kind of hunts them down as they pretty effectively try to escape. No cheesy ultra-intelligent magic creature nonsense, it ends up being just mostly unfortunate that our heroes keep getting corralled back into the crocodile’s area, which is a nice change of pace.

The Bad – This actually might be the worst creature feature I’ve ever seen. A lot of it I can forgive, like the acting and some of the writing seems like an unfortunate side effect of the budget. But the political A-story (because it is just that, the main story of the film) is just gross enough to beg the question: why am I hearing about the Burundi genocide during what is basically just Lake Placid in Africa? It boggles the mind. Combine that with a bad CGI crocodile who actually doesn’t kill a good number of people in the film (I think he kills seven total, whereas I think five people are killed by other humans), and it makes me wonder whether the producers were looking for a political film or a creature feature. I can’t think of another creature feature I enjoyed watching less, so that at the very least is a thing.

The BMT – I don’t think this has much legs beyond being mentioned in connection to other creature features, but as usual … it is a bomb Burundi film obviously. It is almost guaranteed that this will remain our one and only bad Burundi film for all of time, so there we go. Did it meet my expectations? No, a bad creature feature can still be fun, especially if the creature is a practical effects nightmare that looks like a puppet and the director insists on showing too much of it. This though, is just a movie about African politics dressed up as a creature feature, and it makes the whole affair unpleasant.

Roast-radamus – Who What Where When Why How – I wish I could give an award for Best Buds in the World for Dominic Purcell and Orlando Jones, but that isn’t a category. I looooooved the Range Rover Product Placement (What?) where a character just shouts “It can’t be stuck! It’s a Range Rover!”. Obviously a fantastic Setting as a Character (Where?) for Burundi which offered both a wildlife and political backdrop to the affairs. Can you call the crocodile a MacGuffin (Why?) … I’m going to allow it, fight me in real life if you disagree. Just an okay Worst Twist (How?) for the reveal that their guide from the beginning of the movie is, in fact, Little Gustave. Pretty dumb. I don’t think it is entertaining enough to get any superlatives.

StreetCreditReport.com – Let’s see. It doesn’t get mentioned in any 2007 lists, not even for worst horror or among numerous honorable mentions (admittedly, 2007 was a murderer’s row for bad movies with such things as The Number 23 featuring shockingly low on many lists). And it doesn’t get mentioned on many worst creature feature lists which are, naturally, dominated by the B-horror of the 50s. But it does feature 8th on this Worst Giant Animal horror list! Honestly, that is about it, and the small review there is the issue: it is barely a creature feature! It is mostly like Blood Diamond than anything else.

You Just Got Schooled – Naturally when watching one of the worst creature features I’ve ever seen, it made me think of all of the great creature features I hadn’t seen. So what better time to check out Piranha from 1978. One of the copy cat features that come out after 1975  in the wake of Jaws, it uses some of the same type of technology (lots of practical puppets with not-very-good underwater camera work), and comes across as a whole lot cheesier (to the point of feeling intentionally comedic). Overall I liked the film, even though it wasn’t very scary. And that is mostly due to the two leads in the film Bradford Dillman and Heather Menzies who worked well together as a drunk and a skiptracer who kind of accidentally release the piranhas into a river. Some nice vistas, and definitely a good pair with Jaws to give you an idea of the origins of modern creature features. While Jaws is the attack of Nature against man, Piranha is the man-made abominations punishing human arrogance (like Godzilla originally), and so it kind of shows the two paths creature features tend to take. Primeval and Anaconda go the Jaws route, for example, whereas Bats is the Piranha vein. B, a little old-fashioned, feels aged, but good nonetheless.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Knock Off Recap

Jamie

Marcus Ray is a Hong Kong counterfeiter trying to go legit in the fashion world. But when a plot to use knock off products as bombs puts him in the crosshairs of his business partner/CIA operative Tommy he finds himself wrapped up in trying to stop the scheme. Can he stop the scheme (and perhaps uncover a larger conspiracy) before it’s too late? Find out in… Knock Off.

How?! Everyone loves Marcus. He’s super cool and got muscles and stuff. So he sees a way to use this charm to get out of the illegal business of counterfeiting and straight into the business of high fashion (a.k.a. jeans). But when some of his fellow counterfeiters are getting knocked off, he comes to find out that his business partner Tommy is actually a CIA agent trying to stop a dangerous international terrorist plot. Teaming up they use all of Marcus’ underworld contacts to start piecing together what’s going on… which is… uh… I guess that there are bombs and stuff in these knock off products and also everyone is getting killed and Marcus has to kick and punch people. Honestly it’s a little vague. At this point they find that their fashion world contact, Karen, is also CIA (is anyone actually working in fashion? Who is designing these dope jeans?!) and it’s revealed that the Russian mob is orchestrating the plot (or are they?). The mob kidnaps Tommy and Karen and Marcus has to go rescue them. It’s revealed that Tommy’s handler at the CIA is actually the puppetmaster pulling all the strings on the plot and Marcus and Tommy are like “what a twist?!” A big fight ensues and I mean, come on… It’s JCVD. He wins. THE END.

Why?! In a weird turn of events the good guy, JCVD, actually has somewhat interesting motivation. That’s because he just wants to be a legit fashion mogul and sell jeans to all the dope tweens of the world. Unfortunately a terrorist plot is getting in the way. As for the bad guy, why would a CIA operative turn around and orchestrate a terrorist plot. That sweet green, baby. He wants to have all these products with bombs in them distributed around the world so that then he can threaten governments with blowing them all up if they don’t pay him a ransom. “Crime pays” is almost a default motivation for every bad action film that needs a twist.

Who?! You would think that Rob Schneider would be a Planchet here. He certainly fits the bill, but not nearly to the extent that I would like. They barely make fun of him for doing a merely OK job in the investigation… you gotta really ramp up those Planchet vibes when you got a Planchet talent like Rob Schneider on hand.

What?! I do enjoy a fake product here and there. This one has a number of them, since it deals with knock off products (some real, some not). For example during the very exciting rickshaw race JCVD dons a pair of Pumma running shoes. The extra ‘m’ gives away the fact that those shoes explode off his feet midrace. We also have their main company, V-Six jeans, which apparently markets itself as jeans that specifically won’t fall apart… the knock offs obviously do.

Where?! Exclusively Hong Kong. It’s actually less common than you’d think that we get a film set entirely in one city. Usually we have people jet-setting around or schemes being concocted in remote locations. Not here. Just Hong Kong. It also plays a role in the plot due to the prevalence of knock off merchandise in the city. A.

When?! Not So Secret Holiday Film Alert. It’s not even a subtle point that the events of the film are leading up to the handing over of Hong Kong to China on July 1st, 1997. Images are shown of the event and it’s talked about a lot, but it pretty much just functions as a backdrop for the events of the film… I honestly can’t remember if it plays a role in the plot beyond that. A-.

As you can tell from the brief plot description this film seems like it was mostly written on a napkin. The parts that make sense are just standard action fare, while the rest is so incomprehensible that it slips right off your brain. It left an impression that I watched a film, but my brain assures me I did not. It really is like you’re watching a movie in an entirely different language… and yet it’s in english. I think there is a temptation to forgive a lot of this craziness on my own inexperience with Hong Kong cinema. There were moments where I had to stop and think “is this bad or do I just think this is bad because it’s different than what I’ve come to expect.” By the end I came to the conclusion that it was just bad… but I’m not sure where and how it actually went wrong. Maybe everything. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Knock Off? More like Knock It Off! Amirite? We watched … well I think it was a movie. Jean Claude Van Damme was in it, so I assume it was a movie. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I didn’t know very much about this beyond that it was a classic team up of *checks notes* Jean Claude Van Damme and Rob Schnieder? Oooof, that can’t end well. Anyways, during the prep I found out it takes place in Hong Kong and specifically during the handover to China on July 1, 1997. The Hong Kong director was also intriguing as I hadn’t seen much Hong Kong cinema (unless you count like … Hard Target or Face/Off, but I don’t). What were my expectations? I guess a Hong Kong martial arts film? Whenever there is a heavily asian cinema inspired film (see Ecks vs. Sever) there can be a bit lost in translation, so I was really hoping it was just bonkers direction instead of a rote Hong Kong action film with bad acting.

The Good – Oh man, I mean … nothing? This film is a complete mess. It is such a mess it made me wonder whether there were even people on set who could give direction to the main three leads of the film. Alright, calm down Patrick, you have to say something nice about the film, that’s the rules. … Jean Claude Van Damme kick boxes and isn’t the worst actor in the film. They use Hong Kong well I think, playing up a bunch of different aspects of the city and the transition that was happening at the time. And I think the B-story of the jean company is hilarious. At least two of those things are genuinely good things.

The Bad – Ah back in my element. Here’s the thing, the film is directed insanely. Which, after watching A Better Tomorrow which I’ll discuss below, is very odd because Hark is a titan of HK cinema. It makes me think that some Hollywood exec gave him complete control over the film, to the extent that JCVD just had to fly to Hong Kong, and the production was probably run via a multi-lingual crew, and … then some Hollywood guy got this film back and was like “Oh no, I don’t know how we are going to edit this into a releasable product.” Spoiler alert, it isn’t releasable. This film is crazy. There are like insets at one point, you’re flying through CGI shoes and computers and stuff, there’s a rickshaw race, everyone is a CIA agent by the time the film ends … what is happening!? Reminds me of Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever in the end.

The BMT – I think this film is incredibly amusing. For a JCVD night? I would definitely think of throwing this on. As a matter of fact, a line up of Universal Soldier (Emmerich), Hard Target (Woo) and this (Hark) would be pretty funny. And close out with The Quest which was directed by JCVD himself. It was basically the last major release for JCVD prior to him occasionally showing up for smaller parts like The Expendables. It has a lot of cache and is so so weird. Did it meet my expectations? Yes, I think it exceeded them in the end. I cannot overstate how weird the direction is. It was a different time in US cinema, at the tail end of a decade where any martial artist could get at least a straight-to-video release under their belt. And this really closed that era out with a bang leaving basically just Jackie Chan standing.

Roast-radamus – Who What Where When Why How – I certainly think Rob Schneider’s character fits in as a Planchet (Who?) which is fun. There is also a strong argument for Product Placement (What?) for Puma which gets mentioned multiple times via a counterfeit version of the shoe called Pumma. Obviously an amazing Setting as a Character (Where?) for Hong Kong, which dovetails nicely with a Temporal Setting / Not-so-Secret Holiday Film (When?) for the entire film taking place during the week of the handover of Hong Kong from British control to China on July 1, 1997. There is a strong MacGuffin (Why?) for the search for an elusive set of counterfeit jeans fitted with explosives. And then a solid Worst Twist (How?) with the “reveal” that the higher up CIA character played by Paul Sorvino was the bad guy all along (for reasons …). And then it will get consideration for BMT as well … wait, was this a clean sweep?! This film qualifies for all the potential awards. I think that is just a testament to how badly this film is written, it is just one giant cliche.

StreetCreditReport.com – Once again, despite all of the potential cred described above, this film is the kind of film which would have flew under the radar of critics and audiences alike. It seems to rarely get mentioned as even a bad Van Damme film, or a bad martial arts film. I think all of the cred just comes from it being a Van Damme film, and hopefully once Bad Movie Twins goes global we’ll be able to give it the recognition it deserves.

You Just Got Schooled – I have to admit, I’m just really not that familiar with Hong Kong cinema. The closest I’ve come is that I have seen Drunken Master with Jackie Chan. So what better time to familiarize myself with a true classic: A Better Tomorrow. Directed by John Woo, and starring Chow Yun-Fat, the film tells the story of two brothers on opposite sides of the law, both fighting against the criminal underworld that threatens to overwhelm their lives. This film is a bit of a revelation. It is no wonder Woo would find success in Hollywood, as this film draws from the greats of both Hong Kong cinema and US cinema to create a pretty compelling blend of both. A kind of western film set in the criminal underworld of Hong Kong. Weirdly apropos as both Knock Off and this deal with the counterfeiting criminal underworld of Hong Kong. But then the director of Knock Off produced A Better Tomorrow, and ultimately directed the poorly received A Better Tomorrow 3 and failed miserably to kick off his US career. Hark is objectively a good director, he has five films on a list of the 100 best Hong Kong films ever … perhaps Woo was just better at absorbing and reproducing elements of western cinema in his work, and that’s why things like Face/Off work so well. I don’t know, I’ve seen a grand total of three films made in Hong Kong, so I’m far from an expert. Maybe I’ll watch Police Story next though. A. An extremely good film I would recommend to anyone interested in Hong Kong cinema or gangster films like The Departed. 

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

In the Army Now Recap

Jamie

Bones and Jack are a couple of slackers with big dreams for an electronics store. To pursue this they accept an easy check from the National Guard assuming they would never see action. Wrong. They are immediately called into Chad on the verge of war. Can these unlikely heroes save the day (and perhaps get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… In the Army Now.

How?! Bones and Jack are a couple of cra-a-a-zy boys (to use their parlance) who are fired from their job at an electronics store for mostly being slackers. Immature dreamers, they have hopes of opening their own electronics store, but don’t have the money (or talent, really). Enter the National Guard, which will pay them some money to be weekend warriors. Once they are in the army they are confronted with the harsh realities of boot camp. They probably goof off and almost get kicked out, right? Wrong. They are model soldiers and grow into more responsible adults. In fact, after they leave boot camp for the water purification unit they are top of their class with their teammates Fred and Christine. Upon graduation they revert to their immature, partying ways until they are shockingly called up to the front lines of a potential war in Chad. After attempting to get out of deployment through pure, distilled homophobia, they finally accept their mission. In Chad things get tough when Bones is targeted and harassed by a macho special forces soldier… and then even tougher when their truck breaks down during a mission… and then even tougher when Bones drives them into the desert where their other truck gets stuck… and then even tougher when they wander through the desert on the verge of death. But through his leadership they are able to make it to an oasis… but then it gets tough again when they are captured by Libyan forces. At the Libyan base they find the special forces soldier injured and they all manage to escape during an air strike. Finding some sweet dune buggies dropped for the special forces they are ready to leave Libya, but are ordered back to complete the mission of taking out the Libyan chemical weapons. During the dangerous mission Bones leads the group to victory and the missiles are destroyed. Back home they open their electronics store and show how much the Army helped them be all that they can be. THE END.

Why?! That sweet green, duh. One interesting aspect of the film is that Bones and Jack are immature and all that, but once they actually join the army they are pretty immediately improved for the better. We are supposed to see them backslide into their immature ways when first called up to Chad, but the rest of the film they are not just competent, but perfectly good at their jobs. Even when they are put in a horrific position by the Army, they step-up and get it done. Afterwards they have improved so much on a personal and professional level that I actually did believe they had a decent shot at making the electronics store work.

Who?! This is, of course, the last film in which Bredan Fraser appeared as his star-making character Link. A main character in Encino Man, he then shows up for cameos in both Son in Law and then this film. Hasn’t aged particularly well at this point… I’d love to see someone’s reaction to that now if they had never seen (or probably heard) of Encino Man… I know, hard to believe, but I imagine that the youngsters these days aren’t popping down to Hollywood Video to grab a copy of that comedy gem.

What?! This is one giant advertisement for the military, which is a bit difficult to swallow. It’s even mentioned in a paper about the propaganda model in Hollywood. The paper argues that despite the reputation of Hollywood as liberal, pretty much every film about the military is primarily pro-military. Given this film, I tend to agree.

Where?! This is what this whole cycle was built for. Starting in California (and then likely moving from there to Oklahoma for basic training), we end up shipping off to Chad… what are the chances? The characters ping pong between there and Libya for pretty much the rest of the film. Interesting that it even has a role to play in the plot, as Lori Petty’s character mentions she chose water purification as a specialty because of the likely war in Chad and the need for such a service. Gotta give it an A just for that.

When?! I honestly don’t know. This is one of those films where there is a good chance there is some hidden information regarding when it takes place, but it’s not apparent for the viewer. Our only recourse is to get an original print of the film and scour the high-definition stills for the evidence. Until then this is an F.

This is… not a funny movie. Kinda hamstrings it for anyone who would even try to say it’s good. I’m not one of those people. It’s certainly not an offensive movie… or at least I wasn’t offended by how bad it was. It does have a pretty gross homophobic scene in the middle, though, where Bones and Jack try to get out of going to Chad by pretending to be lovers. Unconvinced, the commander requests that they kiss to prove it (even more offensive) at which point Bones and Jack resign themselves to the possibility that they may die. But besides that it flows along with Jack and Bones proving at each step that they are learning and maturing due to the time spent in the military. Overall, it’s impossible to say that I enjoyed the movie. To say that would be to say that I like not funny and periodically offensive “comedies”… but I guess I didn’t think it was the worst. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Amazingly we never watched a Shore film in the 500+ films for BMT. He was a star that shone so bright for an instant, and this is probably the least popular of his five major films. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I’ve (obviously) seen all of the Pauly Shore starring vehicles growing up given that I was his target demo in 1995 … except for this one. Until now. All I really knew about In the Army Now was that it was never really on television and seemed boring whenever I happened across it. Funny enough the notes suggest Pauly Shore’s agents were like “don’t do this, just be the weasel. Being something you aren’t is going to ruin your career” … and I distinctly remember just not being interested in the film partially because it didn’t really seem like a Pauly Shore film. Sounds like his agents nailed it. What were my expectations? To be bored. There was very little going for this. It isn’t that it is the worst Shore film of that era (that would be interesting). It is that it is the most uninteresting of the five films he starred in.

The Good – Weirdly, after a bit of a rough start, this film is probably Shore at his most charming. The weasel character is only funny when you are like 10 years old. As an adult I’m sure I would find Jury Duty and Bio-Dome especially grating. But here he seems like just a vaguely silly dude? It oddly works in what is mostly just a not very funny and not very interesting film. I thought the ensemble of Shore, Dick, Grier, and Petty was actually very cool. They work as a bunch of misfits who mature in the context of army training. Which brings me to the army storyline. It’s propaganda and a bit odd … but it is nice to see an anti-Stripes. Instead of the army changing to accommodate the silly slacker, the silly slacker matures to fit the army. I’ll get back to that in my You Just Got Schooled section.

The Bad – The film isn’t funny. Not at any moment. The film is also too obviously propaganda. That is the danger with going with that anti-Stripes track. Stripes, by making the army change to accomodate Bill Murray, ends up very earnestly poking fun at the U.S. military and thus doesn’t feel like propaganda. In the Army Now just feels like the message is “the army will mature you and make you a better person … join the army.” Just how mustache-twirling-ly evil the Libyans are in the film is also a little off. It doesn’t quite have the same amusing Cold War era needling of the Russians. Much like all of 90s U.S. foreign policy, it feels like they were just searching for a villain to fit the bill. What else … I mean the film is boring and unfunny, would not recommend. The end.

The BMT – We’ll finish off the Pauly Shore films eventually. That is the BMT legacy. And obviously the mapl.d.map aspect. There is very little chance another film will come along which takes place predominantly in Chad. So it’ll always have that going for it. As a matter of fact, it is possible this is the greatest obscure BMT setting we’ve ever had. I just wish the film was just a bit more good-bad. Did it meet my expectations? Yup, this film is almost precisely what I expected (except Shore being a competent soldier, that was unexpected). Unfunny, but it’s biggest crime is just being uninteresting. There are worse Shore films, and more entertaining Shore films, better Shore films, and weirder Shore films … this is the “other” Shore film.

Roast-radamus – I think this falls into a different category where a “team” is built. This is a decent team building movie. There is an odd Product Placement (What?) I think with the video game (3DO) playing at the top of the film … also it is a giant advertisement for the military as well. Obviously one of the greatest Setting as a Character (Where?) films as the film’s plot centers around an invasion of Chad. Otherwise I don’t think it’ll really have a chance at anything else … but hey, I think it has pretty good odds of snagging the Where? crown at the end of the year.

StreetCreditReport.com – It is amazing. Not only is the film not featured on any worst of lists for 1994 (including the Stinkers which gives dishonorable mentions to a ton of films), but I couldn’t even find it mentioned on worst military film lists! I think if I were to guess, it is because Son-in-Law was so well received, and the film doesn’t seem like a true travesty. Jury Duty would crater Shore’s career only one year later, so if anything this film only primed critics to wonder whether Shore had overstayed his welcome as a comedy star.

You Just Got Schooled – All of the reviews of this film focused on how this was very much not Stripes. If I hadn’t seen Stripes I would have watched that. Given that I had though I had to go a little deeper into the military comedy well: Private Benjamin. And there was a lot more in common with In the Army Now than I would have thought, particularly how Goldie Hawn matures via her training instead of the Army molding around her particular quirks. The movie itself has a strong performance by Hawn, but is very very scattered. The best bits are the basic training sequences in the middle third of the film. Then the film goes off the rails, with Hawn rising through the ranks extremely quickly, almost getting raped by her superior, parlaying that into an engagement to a rich French man, and then the film just ends with her breaking off the engagement leaving her out of the army and on the outs with her family … like what? Stripes also goes off the rails in the third act, so maybe this is just a military comedy thing. But in the end Hawn’s performance isn’t enough for me to actually recommend the film to anyone. So, much like with the In the Army Now reviews, just watch Stripes. It probably is the best military comedy ever made. C.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Sanctum Recap

Jamie

Frank MacGuire is a cave diver extraordinaire. With his estranged son Josh in tow, he and his team are trapped by a storm while exploring a giant cave. The only chance at escape is to dive deeper into the cave and find a way out. Can they do the impossible and find this previously unknown escape route before it’s too late? Find out in… Sanctum.

How?! Josh is just a moody teen spending all his time exploring a dumb cave with his dumb dad like a dumbo. Whatever. When the financier of the project shows up to check out the project he is greeted with some good and bad news. The good is that they discovered a new route through the cave system. The bad is that one of the explorers died. Oops. Even worse, a major storm descends on the area and they are all trapped in the cave with no escape route. Uh oh! Lucky they just found that new route. How convenient. Despite the danger of having a number of inexperienced divers in the crew, they are able to make it through the new tunnel without issue… you know except that one of the guys gets the bends and dies… and another one false into a giant hole in the ground and is killed… and the financier is a giant asshole and steals all their supplies and runs off cause he sucks. Not great. While Josh and his dad contemplate their lack of hope they notice some bat guano and are like wait a second. Following the guano they find an opening to the outside, but aren’t able to use it to escape. Instead they are able to find a new route into the cave system and stumble upon the financier (still a dick). He obviously sucks but still are going to help him… that is until he tackles the dad and mortally injures him. Distraught the financier makes one last effort to get to the surface without oxygen and dies. Josh is forced to put his own father out of his misery (not ideal) and then using the last of the oxygen and inspired by his dad he is just able to make it to the surface where he is rescued. When asked where his dad is Josh simply answers “Who? Never heard of him” (OK maybe not that last part). THE END. 

Why?! Truly a story of survival. Everyone wants to survive and on one side you have the financier, who is super selfish about it, and on the other you have Josh and his dad who work together and never give up. Even though his dad is a bit of an asshole, Josh comes to realize that under that tough exterior is still an asshole, but an asshole that will probably save your life.

Who?! Dedicated to the memory of Wes Skiles, who was a cave explorer and filmmaker. Seems like James Cameron knew him. He died while filming on a dive off Florida around the time that this film was being made, although it doesn’t seem like he was actually involved in the making of this film.

What?! There is probably a whole bunch of great product placement in the film, but it’s all for super great cave diving equipment or something so I didn’t notice. We do probably have to address the Deus Ex Machina in the film. There seemed to be two examples. The first is the random discovery of bat guano to lead them to a new escape route right after they sat down and were like “welp I guess we now die.” However, what this film was probably cited for was the ending where Josh seems to run out of oxygen and die… until his dead dad speaks to him and he opens his eyes and swims to the surface. It’s actually a little confusing what even happened at that point other than him simply deciding not to die.

Where?! Intertitles are used to show explicitly that we are in Papua New Guinea for some reason. Weird that they even decided to make up the cave they were diving. I guess they needed a place where it could be possible that a previously undiscovered cave would reside and Papua New Guinea could be such a place I guess… before satellites. I think this is probably a B+.

When?! I presume this takes place in the summer since Josh is a teenager and seems to be on vacation from school to spend time with his dad. The interesting question is whether that means it’s sometime in January or something given the difference in school years for Australia. My guess is December or January given that there is also a Typhoon hitting Papua New Guinea at the time… unless I missed an obvious date. D.

It’s not that bad! It’s not that bad! Dare I even say it’s slightly better than merely not that bad? I mean… I kinda liked this movie. The film is small and so has some hiccups when it comes to acting and some of the visual effects. It also was a pretty simple narrative construction as a group sets out for survival and yet are somehow picked off one-by-one as if the cave is a serial killer (spoiler alert: it’s not (note to self: movie about a serial killer that is literally a cave… perhaps involving dark magic… we’ll workshop it)). But overall I really did enjoy the claustrophobia and the story of survival that is laid out in a visually pleasing way. It’s unique and kinda goes back to what was more common in the past for film: showing you things you won’t ever get to see. I will never dive into a cave, but I feel like this gave me a feeling of what that might be with a tense survival narrative to boot. Even though James Cameron doesn’t seem like he was super involved, you could still see why he was approached about this and decided to help make it happen. Very interesting. Patrick? 

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Prior to watching Sanctum this week I had zero interest in cave diving. Afterwards I developed zero interest in watching movies about cave diving. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I didn’t really know anything about this film prior to watching it beyond that it was set in Papua New Guinea. Making the preview it made sense that it was a James Cameron produced film. It shouldn’t be surprising, but I was a bit surprised it got dunked on so thoroughly given that cred it had in the underwater filmmaking world. But it seemed like people thought the acting and sets were underwhelming which seems maybe fair. What were my expectations? I expected it to just be terrible acting is dumb looking caves with a bunch of tensionless trash. It just seems like how films like this go.

The Good – Uh wait … is this movie good? Like … is this the first true blue It’s-Not-That-Bad in a long time? I think so. The first half hour gives you a death which shocks you into realizing just how dangerous the task at hand is. The tension throughout the film is intense. The underwater filmmaking and stunts are incredible. And why is it that anyone really needed anything else? I don’t know. I know I felt claustrophobic and tense throughout the film and that it provided me with one or two great views that you really don’t see anywhere else in film. And that’s cool.

The Bad – The acting is bad and on occasion the sets look a bit off. In the case of the first whatever, they drew in some local Australian actors who could do the job and did it. Brad Pitt ain’t gonna be in a cave diving movie merely produced by James Cameron. As for the second, it is unavoidable really. My guess is actual caves look like shit too if you tried to film in them, so having caves that look awesome will immediately feel a bit off. Other than that the story beats are a bit rote, with everyone kind of waiting in line to die. The inevitability of the billionaire being a terrible person was also a bit annoying. I kind of wish the twist would have been all three getting to the end and the father realizing that only two were going to get out. And then the father being like “take care of my boy” and the billionaire getting out and them cutting to a news clip of him announcing the new cave system as being named after Josh’s father … unfortunately you lose the entire dramatic arc of the last act with the billionaire going crazy, so that doesn’t really work narratively. Just annoying that it ended up being so cliche.

The BMT – Definitely an interesting It’s-Not-That-Bad film. A film that maybe got smashed by critics because of the 3D and an unclear reason for being. I liked it though, and it further convinced me to never ever go into caves. So there we go, it’s doing a service to me not dying in a cave. Did it meet my expectations? I mean the acting was at times bad, and the caves did something look off, but it had the tension up the wazoo! So from a bad movie perspective it didn’t meet my expectations, but I ended up liking the film, so from that perspective it was a success.

Roast-radamus – Definitely a great Setting as a Character (Where?) with Papua New Guinea and the Esa’ala Cave in particular, although they took a ton of creative liberty concerning the cave itself. I think I’ll give a little shoutout for Worst Twist (How?) for the billionaire coming back to basically specifically kill Josh’s father and then wander off to die himself. So obvious that I would have been annoyed if they didn’t do it. And this will definitely be in the running for Good as well.

StreetCreditReport.com – There aren’t too many lists where this shows up, possibly it just got ignored (but also 2011 was a solid year for bad movies including Jack and Jill). I think this is by far the worst reviewed major cave diving film. This is definitely the worst film set in Papua New Guinea (and as such we were going to inevitably watch it eventually). And I think the cred comes from the 3D and James Cameron being involved as well. I’m happy with the cred in the end.

You Just Got Schooled – Sanctum didn’t have very many famous names attached to it, so there was no path to self-improvement there. But, caving made me think of a horror film I had never seen which is considered something of a modern classic: The Descent. Directed by Neil Marshall (who directed the BMT film Hellboy) it involves a group of six women who venture into a cave, get stuck, and then are systematically hunted by a race of underground humanoid creatures. First, amazing creature design, a rare design which looks great in the dark and light and benefits from the Jaws/Alien strategy of limiting their view early on. Second, great cast with enough people to get some good kills going. And third, I liked how all of the heroes almost immediately recognized and adapted to the dangers around them, that was a cool change from mostly inept horror protagonists. On the downside I thought the first third without the monsters was more tense than the back half with the monsters. I will say, it was shocking how many beats Sanctum and The Descent shared … I’m actually a bit suspicious that the Sanctum writers (inexperienced in constructing a screenplay presumably) might have lifted a few things from The Descent which would have been popular in cave exploration circles. In both cases people are trapped by a cave and need to go deeper to try and get out. Both have a big climbing scene midway through. And both play off of what appears to be a classic caving mantra: if you panic, you die. I was a bit shocked and how both films had a very similar “calm down, if you panic you’ll die” scene early on. Easily a B+. I think if the back half had more stressful climbing bits it would have been a solid A. Basically, combine Sanctum and The Descent and you are gold.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Ed Recap

Jamie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patrick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Masters of the Universe Recap

Jamie

Skeletor has conquered Castle Greyskull and He-Man only has until the next moonrise to stop his rise to power. Using a device called the Cosmic Key, he and his friends escape to Earth, but the key is picked up by a couple of teens and Skeletor is hot on their trail. Can He-Man get back to Eternia and stop Skeletor before it’s too late? Find out in… Masters of the Universe.

How?! After years of plotting, Skeletor has finally been able to get past He-Man’s forces to conquer Castle Greyskull. The power will be his once the moon rises and aligns with the Great Eye of the Universe. Wasting no time, He-Man discovers that Skeletor tricked a tiny inventor, Gwildor, into giving him the Cosmic Key, a musical invention capable of opening portals to any time or place. Dismayed, Gwildor helps He-Man use the remaining Cosmic Key prototype to enter the castle, but they find themselves outnumbered and in a desperate moment Gwildor uses the key to transport them to Earth. On Earth they find they have lost the key and begin the hunt. Meanwhile a couple of teens, Kevin and Julie, discover the key while visiting the graves of Julie’s parents who tragically died in a plane accident (somehow this is an important detail). Thinking it’s a musical instrument, Kevin, a gifted musician the likes of which we haven’t seen since Patrick Swayze, takes it to his big show at the prom before deciding that he needs the local music store owner to check it out first. While this is happening, Skeletor sends his minions to Earth to find the Cosmic Key but all they find is Julie. After destroying the school, they are on the verge of murdering her but He-Man steps in and sends them scurrying back to Eternia. Upon returning to the exploded school, Kevin is concerned for Julie, but for some reason he’s arrested by a zealous local cop. But soon they too are attacked by Skeletor’s forces and find themselves in the middle of a battle… for the universe. Descending on the local music store they hunker down to do battle, but Evil-Lyn uses some eeevil magic to trick Julie and get the Cosmic Key. When one last effort fails to stop Skeletor and the key is destroyed, He-Man gives himself up to spare his friends. While he is back in Eternia getting tortured, the rambunctious group teams up to fix the key, return to Eternia, and help He-Man take down Skeletor. With peace returned to the universe, Gwildor returns Julie and Kevin back to Earth to the time just before her parents were killed, allowing her to save them. Hooray! THE END.

Why?! Major MacGuffin alert, obviously, as the motivating factor in the film is the Cosmic Key. With its power to take people to different times and places in the world, it’s a powerful military weapon and allows Skeletor to finally enter and conquer Castle Greyskull. So while the key itself doesn’t confer the power Skeletor desires, it grants him the ability to get the power. The military mind of Skeletor also recognizes that it would also confer similar powers to He-Man, so his only goal is to destroy all the remaining Cosmic Keys. He-Man is just an all around good guy hoping to save the universe. Duh.

Who?! Is it weird that the Sorceress in this ended up playing Courtney Cox’s mom on Friends? Or that Courtney Cox’s mom in this film is also Chris Pine’s actual mom? Or that IMDb claims that Tony Carroll, who played Beastman, died in 1992?… Because I’m pretty sure that isn’t even true. I think they may have confused him with David Carroll.

What?! There are a lot of interesting props beyond the Cosmic Key in this one. I found an interesting site that catalogued all the ones that have gone on sale and the prices over the years. Some are kinda crazy, including the gold Skeletor costume that apparently went for under $1000. So you’re saying I could have been a gold Skeletor for like $700? Sold. No Cosmic Key on there though. There are some forums online that suggest that a toy collector has one of the fully functional Cosmic Key props and occasionally puts it up for private sale. They also mention that it’s exquisitely built… I find that strangely beautiful.

Where?! Julie and Kevin are a couple of California teens, although Julie is about to leave to upgrade to beautiful New Jersey. Interesting note is that originally Wikipedia implied that the film took place in New Jersey, but Patrick went ahead and fixed that glaringly obvious and terrible mistake. Sometimes, you know, you have situations like this that make you wonder about Wikipedia and humanity in general. Overall OK California film, good-to-great Eternia film. B.

When?! While there isn’t anything super specific about when this film takes place, you can be pretty confident that it’s probably sometime around May. It’s prom time and Julie implies that she’s going to skip out on graduation to make an early escape to New Jersey to try to get over the tragedy that has befallen her.

The movie is pretty insane. It’s a classic use of IP to just say, “OK, it’s He-Man… but he’s on Earth for some reason… and also there is a device he needs,” and leave it at that. No more thought seems to be put into the concept of adapting Master of the Universe. I think it looks just crazy enough to be fun and there are particular scenes, mostly involving Courtney Cox, that remind you that they also probably didn’t know what they were doing outside of failing to successfully adapt some IP. The peak of this is her character getting tricked by Evil-Lyn masquerading as her Mom, who had died in a plane crash. Even Evil-Lyn doesn’t seem convinced as she explains that she never was on the plane and survived and Courtney Cox is like “wow” and not like “so where have you been for the last few months?” Add on some super 80’s plot points and I think this is a quite enjoyable BMT film. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Masters of the Universe? Well, they certainly aren’t masters of the box office! Heyyoooooooooo. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – Long ago when Patrick was but a young child Masters of the Universe would occasionally pop up on cable television. So over the years I probably have seen the entire film in bits and pieces here and there. I’m skeptical I’ve ever actually sat down and watched it though. I obviously remember the Cosmic Key and everything, so it did make a mark in my mind nonetheless. What were my expectations? Unlike when I was a child I now know there was a time in the 80s in which non-companies like Cannon were ripping off films for that sweet IP. So I expected it to be an embarrassing piece of crap. I will say I was particularly interested in Robert Duncan McNeill who played Kevin in the film. He’s one of the stars of Star Trek: Voyager so I wanted to see his acting from when he was a young man just trying to make it in that crazy town called Hollywood.

The Good – All things considered the look of some of the costumes are at least interesting in their cheesy glory. And the film itself is definitely a piece of cinematic history. Cannon Films would soon go bankrupt partially due to this film, so that was probably a good thing for Hollywood as a whole. Cox is actually pretty good. McNeill wasn’t, although his acting was somehow more subtle than it is in Voyager (which I assume is just a consequence of the notoriously intense Star Trek film schedule from the 90s). Lundgren looks super strong. He makes a nice He-Man, especially since the film is garbage so his acting isn’t too much of a liability.

The Bad – The costumes, despite their cheesy glory, are real real bad. It is like with Howard the Duck really. You had a bunch of people wondering whether they could, when they should have been asking whether they should, if you get my drift. The idea of bringing He-Man to Earth is stupid and an obvious ploy to keep the cost down. Hey Cannon, do you know what else would keep costs down? Not trying to adapt effects-heavy IP. Skeletor is the stuff of nightmares, even if Langella maybe brought something impressive to the role. And finally, the B-story about Cox’s dead parents was just wooooooof. Unnecessary, and diverting from He-Man action. It is also a crime that we didn’t get to see Lundgren as Prince Adam. A true travesty.

The BMT – The films got that BMT cred. Notoriously bad, tons of amazing bad straight-to-video stars pretending to be real Hollywood leading actors, and the squandering of truly sweet IP. There is not very much I would ask for beyond that. Did it meet my expectations? Yeah, the movie is actually a more entertaining bad movie rewatch than I expected. I expected it to be boring, but in reality there is enough insanity and weirdness to keep things going at a good clip throughout. It’s embarrassing, but only really for Cannon and not really for the others involved … Lundgren has plenty of other things to be embarrassed about than this film.

Roast-radamus – There is just an out of this world Product Placement (What?) in this guy with everyone just chowing down on Burger King in the middle of the film, it’s wild. The film is also a pretty great Setting as a Character (Where?) with everything happening in a very Los Angeles area of Los Angeles. This is one of the quintessential dumb 80s MacGuffins (Why?) with the Cosmic Key which … uh, I guess it just allows you to instantaneously transport around? Sure whatever. And I think this will be a decent contender for BMT as well.

StreetCreditReport.com – The film historians here at BMTHQ can personally attest to how dire the state of wide release films were in 1986 and 1987. We did a whole cycle on 1986 and there are a lot of Masters of the Universe-esque non-films. And it turns out it wasn’t just us that noticed. Here’s an entire article claiming 1987 as the worst year of the blockbuster era of filmmaking! I also think there is a lot of credit to be gleaned from this movie quite literally bankrupting a production company.

You Just Got Schooled – With Masters of the Universe comes an abundance of possible things to school myself on. First, I got just a taste of the original He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon. He-Man started as just a toy, but then quickly branched into mini-comics and this animated series. Considering how ubiquitous He-Man is to at least my childhood it is quite shocking that the series only ran for a few years. I watched an episode from the second season called The Quest for the Sword which annoyingly did not have Skeletor in it. I have to say … this is like Rambo: The Animated Series level of animation. It is quite crap. But it did confirm that indeed, for some reason people have like lasers, but then He-Man is there with a sword looking like a dope. Because I’m sheltering in place and have nothing better to do on weekends I also watched the Lundgren straight-to-video film Silent Trigger from 1996. I actually really dug this film. It is directed by the same guy as Highlander, and outside of a bunch of weird and mostly bad looking flashbacks, the entire film takes place in a futuristic skyscraper on the night Lundgren is sent to assassinate a political leader. It felt very Highlander (which I also dug), with very cool set designs. It might be a bit odd to say, but this is the type of movie that could be remade into something really interesting if people were looking for sweet IP. B+ if you are into that kind of grungy Highlander style.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Bloodshot Recap

Jamie

Ray is a total badass with a hot wife. Life is good. (or is it?) When he and his wife are killed by a psycho bad guy (or is he?) Ray is shocked to find himself reanimated with robot blood and no memory. When bits and pieces start coming back, he becomes dead set on payback (or is he?). Can he take down the real bad guy before it’s too late? Find out in… Bloodshot.

How?! If you can’t tell from the short synopsis, this is a film with all sorts of twist-em-ups. We are introduced to Ray as an all around American hero. He is saving hostages one day and then heading to the Amalfi Coast with his perfectly beautiful wife the next. But this is all shattered when a psycho demands information from Ray that he doesn’t have. But just when it looks like Ray and his wife have been killed and the movie is over you are shocked (shocked!) to find out that the previously deceased Ray has been turned into a memoryless super soldier by a company, RST, using nanobots. While he’s still getting used to having all kinds of tiny robots for blood, Ray starts having flashbacks about the man who killed his wife. Enraged, he goes on a mission and uses all of his totally badass superpowers to take out anyone in his way and kill the man. But just when you think the movie is again over you are shocked (shocked!) to find that in fact Ray’s previous life is all a simulation meant to implant his next target into his brain (what a twist!). But things start going awry when on the next mission Ray is knocked out by an EMP and revived by a totally elite hacker who informs him about what is actually going on. Now really enraged (for real this time), Ray leaves and visits his wife who turns out to not be dead… and also turns out to not be his wife at all. Now even more enraged, Ray is confronted by some other RST super soldiers and is subdued. But with the help of his friends (aww) he is able to escape and proceeds to have a big ol’ fight with the super soldiers and this time wins (duh). He then murders the CEO of RST and wins the day. THE END.

Why?! Ray’s motivations are always on the side of good… or at least on the side of good as he perceives it. It’s always for revenge against those he thought killed his wife or against those that have really wronged him. The antagonist’s motivations are, as always, more interesting. Ray is just his super soldier, but he has started using him as a method of taking out his former partners in the company turned rivals. This, of course, turns out poorly because life… finds a way.

Who?! There are a whole bunch of special thanks in the film, but none are particularly interesting. A few are comic book writers who had some influence on the character or story, but not enough to get a full credit and then some people that helped with production in South Africa. Probably the best though is Eric the hacker who is a Planchet in the sense that everyone makes fun of him the whole time. The only issue is that, while talented at what he does, he is one of the enemies and easily bested by a better hacker in the end. The actor who plays him, Siddharth Dhananjay, also seems to be a Youtube rapper.

What?! Some mild product placement with people using Sony phones and tablets left and right. That’s probably what should have alerted Vin Diesel to it all being a simulation. When he looks around and everyone is jamming out on their Sony phones and tablets without an Apple product in sight he should be like “wait a second.” And Eric the hacker is like “sorry, the simulation is sponsored by Sony.”

Where?! Beautiful settings film. We start in “Kenya” and head to “Italy” before landing in the first actual location of Malaysia. We then proceed to have some sweet battles in Hungary and England. While disappointing that the first two locations turn out to be simulations, Malaysia and Hungary are two incredible spots to set this film in. B+.

When?! Sure feels like the near future, but it’s really hard to tell. They don’t give us much considering the entire plot and film takes place in a bit of a crazy super soldier computer simulation bubble where things either feel like the current day or several decades in the future. F until I find out otherwise.

I will say I was pleasantly surprised by this film. I thought from the trailers that this would be dumb garbage. It’s still not smart garbage, but I think it does a number of things a lot better than I expected. Better visuals, particularly some striking use of color that was fun to watch. Better plot, which honestly seemed like it was shaping up to be a true travesty thirty minutes into the film, but used the twist to rescue it a bit. Better set-up for an actual series, although who knows if that will actually happen now. I didn’t really like the end battle and Vinny D had two scenes where he is meant to look sad and it’s… quite something to behold, but overall that still shakes out to be a fairly good BMT film. Should I break it out? Sure. It’s not that bad! Not that bad! Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Much like Vinny D in Bloodshot, BMT Live! cannot be stopped. No, we won’t be heading out to the cinema, we managed to catch one of the qualifying films which has crashed onto streaming platforms early, and we are counting it. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – Prior to the film coming out I had an inkling this was going to be another film that got like … 35-50% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m glad I was kind of wrong, it ended up being decidedly slammed by critics … but it still felt like it was going to be disappointingly blah. That it was either going to qualify but not really be that bad (Hunter Killer), or not qualify and then I’d watch it and be like “blah” (xXx 3). So yeah, I was expecting another Hunter Killer basically. What were my expectations? I was just kind of hoping for it to be really really dumb. So dumb that it became funny that Vin Diesel keeps on getting work grumbling his lines in films not called Fast & Furious. That would make me pretty happy to be honest.

The Good – The first half of this film is legit kind of good. It starts off feeling dumb with a bunch of movie cliches, but then they pull out the twist (that is actually so large it ends up just being the conceit of the entire film) and I mostlydug it. It was really effective, and combined with it coming right after by far the best action sequence in the film I had an epiphany: this movie must just completely fall apart in the third act. There was little other explanation in my mind as to why critics would have slammed it, because the first half is good. I also like Lamorne Morris, and him doing what I assume is an intentionally bad British accent (a la Don Cheadle in Ocean’s Eleven) amused me.

The Bad – Ayup, the third act completely fell apart. It was mostly just that they screwed around in London a bit too long making the movie too long, and then they ended with a really bad action sequence at Bloodshot HQ in Malaysia. The actual worst thing in the film is Vin Diesel’s acting, but that is par for the course. He has two modes. Mode Fambly is him grumbling into the camera, and my brain just switches off at this point when Vinny D’s in Fambly Mode. The second is Super Serious Acting Mode, and he just doesn’t have it anymore. I think he once had it, but a combination of doing way too many Fast & Furious films, and him probably just getting lazy with age, means he just don’t got it any more. And when he tries to act it is actually embarrassing. Most of the rest of the film is just forgettable.

The BMT – Initially, I just kind of felt blah about the film. The first half was good-ish, the second half was bad-ish, let’s call the whole thing off. But now after writing everything out and watching Furious 7 for the Schooled section … are we sure Vin Diesel’s good? Strike that, are we sure Vin Diesel isn’t awful? Maybe that’s the legacy of this film, it’ll be the moment where I crossed the Rubicon and started to ironically enjoy Vin Diesel’s acting. That’s a decent legacy if I’m being honest. Did it meet my expectations? It wasn’t dumb enough. The twist in the middle would have had to be dumber. Like … make his wife like Guy Pearce’s wife and make her the big baddie? I’m there for that. But Vin Diesel grumbled at me, so that made me happy.

Roast-radamus – I think there is a small argument that the IT guy (Eric, played by Siddharth Dhananjay) is a Planchet (Who?), mostly serving to be dunked on by Guy Pearce and various other corporate employees. A few funny Product Placement (What?) with American Turkey Bourbon and Ford immediately coming to mind. A couple decent (if brief) Setting as a Character (Where?) with Malaysia serving as the location of Bad Company HQ, Hungary playing a big part in the first assassination, and London obviously. Probably all too small to be a real “character”, but still pretty fun. While there was a twist it wasn’t bad so I’ll leave that there. I think it has a better shot at Good than at the other superlatives, but likely it just won’t get any of those in the end.

StreetCreditReport.com – Very tough obviously to do real street credit reports this early in the year. In reality the cred comes from Vinny D who for whatever reason still headlines a bad action film outside of the F&F Universe every two years or so. I think this also gets a bit of cred by proving that cheesy comic books films are still squarely Marvel’s domain. Valiant can’t just roll in with Bloodshot and expect people to accept the ridiculous nonsense happening on screen immediately. You have to earn that cred. Finally, I mean, how can it avoid getting some bad movie cred for being a bad movie that just got torpedoed by a global pandemic? I’ll remember sheltering in place and watching Bloodshot, that’s for sure.

You Just Got Schooled – It felt like the right time to start catching up on my boy Vinny D’s filmography as I fell a bit behind on the F&F series. While I very much enjoyed Fast 5, I very much did not enjoy Fast & Furious 6. So I went into Furious 7 knowing that I probably was a bit “over” the series as a whole. And not surprisingly … the movie is just not very good. It is too long, everything looks stupid, and the script is an abomination. I know that is what they are going for, but I just don’t really get it, and that’s fine. A few positives. Obviously a good send off for the OG F&F star Walker; it’s got some great vistas, and I love vistas, including a very rare Azerbaijan setting; and the addition of Shaw, who provided an “invincible bad guy” to convincingly go up against The Fambly. Overall, some positives, but again … I don’t get it! C+.

Live Theater Review (Shelter in Place Edition) – I guess I’ll keep this short. I watched on Movies Anywhere in the comfort of my own flat. On the one hand it allowed me to watch in two pieces which is a somewhat unsatisfying experience. That’s on me though, and more about self-discipline (of which I have very little). On the other hand, I didn’t sit miserably in the theater watching a movie I didn’t really want to see. So it was a mixed bag. I guess we’ll see how the Spring session goes. C.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs