Virus Recap

Jamie

Kit and Steve are part of the unlucky crew of a tugboat whose container ship gets lost in a storm (along with their financial future). Damaged, they find themselves in the eye of the storm with a ghost ship (with the most ship). Seeing a salvage opportunity, they board, but soon realize that something is amiss. Can they escape before it’s too late? Find out in… Virus.

How?! Kit is the badass XO of a tugboat whose captain has staked his entire life on one big container ship. Unfortunately that ship is now at the bottom of the ocean after they run smack into the middle of a Pacific typhoon. Badly damaged, they fortunately find their way into the eye of the storm where they are surprised to find they aren’t alone. A giant Russian research vessel is there and looking pretty rough. The captain is seeing dollar signs and as long as no survivors are found they can get a huge chunk of change for salvaging what is a very expensive ship. But things start going badly right away and they realize they aren’t alone. Not just that they find a terrified surviving crew, but when they turn on the power they feel like they are being watched and one of their crew goes missing. When they go searching for him they find an automated workshop producing robots and are attacked by a cyborg! Egad! Turns out there is a spooky alium onboard that is all electrical and shit and it is all up in those robots. They are taking people and turning them into robots too. Like a… uh… robot… uh, what’s the word I’m looking for? Oh… virus. A robot virus. Realizing they have to take out the computer brain they head off, only to be attacked by more alium robots. The captain decides to become a cyborg of his own volition (apparently so he can still salvage the ship… which will probably be a little difficult being a crazy scary cyborg person, but whatever) and the rest of the crew scatter just trying to survive. In the climax they have to fight (and kill) the captain cyborg and then ultimately sets a trap to fight (and kill) the main robot alium brain. Just as they explode the ship, Kit and Steve eject themselves off the ship and are rescued. THE END.

Why?! As usual I kinda love the motivations in a horror film. Obviously all the crew members just want to survive. Other than the captain who really doesn’t care if or how he survives as long as he can still salvage that ship. Turn him into a cyborg, he doesn’t care. Probably use his cyborg brain to get an even better deal on the salvage. Anyway, the bad guys are always more interesting and here the alien is indeed interesting to ponder. It’s electrical and, by my reading, was having a jolly time floating through space before unfortunately finding its way into a space station computer that was connected to the research vessel. Now the alien is trapped on this big dumbo ship and needs to find its way out. Solution? Get some cyborg bodies, pilot its way to a base, and upload onto the world’s computers like a big ol’ terrible alien robot virus. Check mate.

Who?! It’s been a while since I’ve had a surprise entry in this, but Ritchie (who builds the contraption that helps Kit and Steve escape the ship in the end) was played by Sherman Augustus. He was a former professional football player with the Chargers and Vikings. It sounds, though, like he might be a “former professional football player” like on The Bachelor. He apparently suffered a knee injury and never played in a game.

What?! Like Cutthroat Island, you know they were ready to unload what had to be an ungodly number of props for this film. I obviously love the ones that aren’t for sale because I like to imagine how much a fully animatronic cyborg prop would cost. Whatever number you have in mind factor in that one of the tiny robot props runs $2800.00. Yah.

Where?! In some ways this is an A. It takes place on a ghost ship (which the most ship) and that obviously plays quite a big role. However if we’re going from the actual location this is in the pacific somewhat generally. So it’s still quite good for a Middle of the Pacific film, but maybe would put this in more the B range.

When?! This seems to be unknown, although maybe you can catch a glimpse somewhere. The only thing you get is the time frame in relative terms. The alien gets beams down to the research ship before the storm and then seven days later our groups of tugboaters get damaged in the storm. I wonder why seven… maybe biblical? F+.

Much like the big ol’ dumbo ship, this is a big ol’ dumbo movie. It’s got some pretty weird and at times interesting (at other times a little cheesy) special effects. Clearly that’s all the director was interested in because most of the stuff the actors get to do is just scream and run and look at cyborg aliens (and then scream and run some more) and the script is as basic a scifi horror as they could have come up with. No wonder Jamie Lee Curtis talks about this like it’s the worst movie she ever made. Doesn’t seem like the director was very interested in giving the actors much to chew on. Everything is in service of the effects. This isn’t the worst movie though. Just a pretty one-dimensional movie. Patrick? 

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! How is it that I’ve watched multiple William Baldwin films this year? Well this one is about him fighting robo-aliums in the South Pacific, so … Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – An interesting preview since Jamie Lee Curtis hate, hate, hated this film. She has called it the worst film ever made in multiple interviews. That seems … hyperbolic. I mean, I’ve seen Battlefield Earf, so it is unlikely that Virus is somehow worse than that hot garbage. Based on a graphic novel (yeah, I’m reading that), and with a shoddy PS1 game barely released in the US (yeah, I’m playing that). What were my expectations? From the movie? I don’t know, I guess a mostly cheesy Sci-Fi film with bad effects. From the video game? The game genuinely looks like the worst game I’ve ever seen, and I recently watched someone speedrun King’s Quest 8. So that is exciting.

The Good – Some of the monster designs are okay, even if the execution is unimpressive. I also like Jamie Lee Curtis, who, despite hating working on the film, brings that Scream Queen cachet to the film to solid effect. The core idea of the electrical alien attack is trite now, but was definitely an interesting idea at the time when computer viruses were still a somewhat unknown entity in popular culture. Best Bit: Jamie Lee Curtis.

The Bad – The actual effects are awful, a poor man’s The Thing (1982). If they were done with as much effect as in that film, then I’m convinced the film would have been somewhat effective. Sutherland and Baldwin were both subpar, likely second or third choices for their roles, borderline television movie level at times. Like when Sutherland is a robot … it is Heartbeeps level weirdness, the whole thing feels like a director completely in order his head and over budget. Fatal Flaw: The aliums look like trash.

The BMT – I love films set on boats. I love films with electric aliums. I love films with William Baldwin. This film kind of had it all. It is a kind of fun movie is you squint, but it does get sunk by looking like garbage. The vitriol by Curtis is unwarranted … but you can definitely feel like the production must have been terrible. Did it meet my expectations? Yup, cheesy sci-fi film with bad effects. I was delighted that William Baldwin was as weird as ever, and who can help but be charmed by just-almost-too-old Donald Sutherland, if only he was an arsonist. Stay tuned for my video game review.

Roast-radamus – A pretty solid and rare Setting as a Character (Where?) for the boat being specifically stranded in the South Pacific. I wonder if they were near the Blue Lagoon. I think that is it. Closest to BMT I think. I personally liked it, but I’m also certain if I showed it to anyone they would be like “what the hell is this?” and laugh at it.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – Definitely a sequel. Set 25 years after the events of the original film Steve Baker has made a name for himself in the US military as they prepare for the potential return of the electro-aliums from the original film. This terror is unleashed upon the world in the form of a communication satellite infected with a new virus which beams into, you guessed it, the internet. That’s right, the Aliums are in cyberspace and they want to take over the world! Ba ba baaaaaaa! Los Angeles, the mecca of social media influencers becomes ground zero for a viral infection that makes the original film look like a radio play, you got robots up the wazoo. In flies Baker, who gets Kit Foster, now a Neo-Luddite living off the grid, out of retirement to try and contain the cyberspace firestorm. They tap into cyberspace with the military’s new VR haptic suits and fight the virus virtually, and, spoiler alert, they totally pwn those alium dweebs. Virus 2: Cryptowarz. Get fat William Baldwin on the phone stat!!

You Just Got Schooled – Another tie-in cycle film, another terrible video game. This week, the survival horror game Virus: It is Aware. Oh boy … uh, this might actually be the worst game I’ve ever played. I only ultimately played an hour or two of it, and while I think I could finish it, I don’t think I have the will to. A bit tough to find, I ultimately set up a standalone PS1 emulator and got it working. It feels a bit like a homeless man’s Resident Evil as far as gameplay is concerned. Somewhat interesting in that each level, much like Little Nicky, is standalone. After you complete the level it gives you a code (you can save, but apparently around this time for releases to secondary markets some games chose to also provide a code instead, again, like Little Nicky!), and you get all of your health and ammo back. The parallels to Little Nicky are striking, a game made on the cheap, borrowing heavily from better games, to push to market a tie-in with little thought about gameplay. Except I found Little Nicky bizarrely charming. This … is an abomination, only to be played ironically. F. Until further notice this is the worst game I’ve ever played in my life, may god have mercy on the developers’ souls.

Bonus Book Report – Oh snap, that’s right, I also read the four issue graphic novel series by Dark Horse, also called Virus. The story is kind of close to the movie, although here everyone is immediately on board with the salvage operation, and the alium takes over really quickly. In my opinion … the art style is pretty bad looking, and the two main characters are cliches. It is pretty obvious that it was written by someone who isn’t a professional writer, ultimately creating an impossibly capable everyman mechanic as his main character with really really bad dialogue. It also seems potentially like a rip off of The Thing … especially considering he wrote a sequel graphic novel to the 1982 film that same year … it seems pretty likely. That being said, a pretty enjoyable quick read, took me maybe an hour, and you can see why they thought they could brush it up into a sci-fi thriller. C+. Not a good graphic novel, but a fun read regardless paired with the film.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Cutthroat Island Recap

Jamie

Morgan Adams is a mighty pirate cut from a different cloth. When her eeevil uncle vows to find the family treasure by any means necessary, she decides to beat him to it with the help of sexy rogue William Shaw. Can she stop her uncle, find the treasure, earn the trust of her crew (and perhaps get the guy) before it’s too late? Find out in… Cutthroat Island.

How?! Morgan Adams has quite the dastardly reputation in the Caribbean. Already a fugitive from the law, she finds herself in even more hot water when her father is captured by her evil uncle Dawg Brown. Rather than give him the secret of Cutthroat Island, her father chooses to give up his own life in exchange for giving a piece of the treasure map to Morgan. Now on the run, she gets the begrudging acceptance of her father’s crew and sets sail to Port Royal to find a translator for the map. In Port Royal, dashing rogue William Shaw has also found himself in hot water having lied and swindled ladies across the isles. Now a prisoner, Morgan buys him at auction, but not before the authorities recognize her and a major shootout ensues. Across the island they catch up with Morgan’s other uncle, but before they can get the second piece of the map Dawg appears. A fight ensues, Morgan is shot and in the chaos William is able to find and keep hidden the map piece. Shaw, who has claimed he is a doctor, treats Morgan’s wounds and perchance a romantic spark is lit. But before long Dawg is in hot pursuit and they only barely keep them at bay by navigating through dangerous seas. During the storm Morgan finds William attempting to use the map for his own devices and has him locked away, meanwhile the crew revolts and sends Morgan and her loyal crew off in a tiny liferaft. Miraculously they survive and wake up to find themselves at Cutthroat Island itself. On the island they are dismayed to find that Dawg and her former crew have teamed up and also surprised when they find that William is there and has stolen the last piece of the map from Dawg! With all the pieces in hand William and Morgan find the treasure, but are found by Dawg who forces them to jump from a cliff. William survives and is taken captive, while Morgan sneaks aboard her old ship and takes it back. A big ol’ climactic fight ensues on the high seas resulting in Dawg getting killed by a cannon and William and Morgan recovering the treasure. They then smooch and such and set out on another adventure. THE END (or is it? (it is.))

Why?! As Vinny D would say: fambly. Geena Davis comes from a family of pirates who’s patriarch (her grandfather) found and hid the family treasure on Cutthroat Island. Only the whole family could together find the treasure… you know, as long as the crazy evil one doesn’t kill all of them first. So the rest is obvious. Gotta stop that crazy evil one from ruining the fambly plan.

Who?! Renny Harlin appears in the film uncredited, which isn’t all that exciting. What is exciting is that Thor the dog appears CREDITED in the role of Pirate Dog. He had already appeared in a prior Renny Harlin film, Cliffhanger, so they must have had a good rapport. Finster appears uncredited as Morgan’s monkey, which is a travesty as the role was pretty big. He is better known for his star role as the titular monkey in Monkey Trouble.

What?! Whether you think of it as four separate MacGuffins or a single MacGuffin broken into four pieces, this is a pretty good one as the entire plot focuses around getting all the pieces together. It’s also a little unclear why the treasure was hidden in the first place. Maybe to wait out the authorities. But the family had all the pieces the entire time and never cared to get together and get it until Dawg started his own quest? It doesn’t make much sense. I found this to be a little more interesting than the thousands of props for sale online, which honestly probably ended up there because the studio sold it all off trying to make a buck.

Where?! The Caribbean and primarily Jamaica. It got me thinking about mapl.de.map. There have always been some vague parameters on what would “win” the spot on the map for a particular location. Is it how prominently the setting factors into the film or is it the grade (A+ location in title wins). This makes me think the answer is the former. Would rather have a film that best represents the location take the spot. B.

When?! I could probably write a bunch on this, but I think this might be an A film. I’ll keep it short, but they tell us explicitly that the year is 1668. Why? Because at the time Jamaica had just changed from Spanish to British rule, and let’s just say the Spanish weren’t happy about it. As a result the British, aiming to keep control of the island, supported piracy to fend off the Spanish. The island then descended into lawlessness from 1660-1670 after which a treaty was signed and the piracy was reined in. Interesting.

I certainly understand the reviews for the film. It took a big swashbuckling adventure and just filled it with explosions and were like “that’s fun, right?” The complete lack of humor is glaring considering that was a big part of what made Pirates of the Caribbean such a success. They would even say lines that almost sounded like jokes, but I assure you they were not. Just kinda bland explosions most of the time. All that being said, it was still a rollicking adventure if that’s simply all that you were looking for. It also took some shots for the gender reversal with Morgan as swashbuckling captain and Shaw as gentleman in distress, but I actually thought that was deftly done. Matthew Modine plays the pretty boy liar who slithers his way out of trouble with his smile well and Geena Davis was very winning. So I disagree with that. Overall some good and bad things and not the total disaster I maybe would have thought given the reputation it earned at the box office. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Well, shiver me timbers. It is time to raise the Jolly Roger and ogle that 90’s heartthrob … Matthew Modine? Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – One of the most notorious box office bombs in history. All of the reviews seem to suggest it is … good? It does seem odd that swashbuckling adventures just were terrible in the 90s, so bad, in fact, that people thought pirate films were just done until Disney breathed new life into it half a decade later. What were my expectations? A good movie I guess. Which I don’t often say. It seemed plausible that the movie was actually pretty good, but it was just a box office catastrophe never seen before.

The Good – So … I wouldn’t call the movie good, which I’ll get to. But Geena Davis was solid, and the film is, indeed, a pretty fun adventure film. Like something like The Three Musketeers (the 90s one) maybe. The main set peces of Port Royal, the bar in Spittlefield, and the final naval battle are all incredible as well. You can definitely see where most of the money went in this financial disaster. And if you watched Masters of the Universe and thought “Man, I wish Frank Langella was allowed to really go over the top, he’s so restrained as Skeletor!”, well, then this is the movie for you. Best Bit: The set pieces.

The Bad – Unfortunately the action looks like absolute garbage. I might be being a bit harsh, but like The Three Musketeers (the 90s one) there is something about 90s films where swashbuckling action looks ultra cheesy and terrible. Something about cannonballs resulting in giant Hollywood explosions just doesn’t sit right. And something about the lackluster sword fighting in this film only serves to remind me how incredible Pirates of the Caribbean really is. And unfortunately Modine constantly feels like a second or third choice for the role, no matter how much good effort he puts in. Fatal Flaw: Bad action for how much money it costs.

The BMT – I don’t know … I kind of dug this movie. If you can excuse that it doesn’t look as polished as Pirates of the Caribbean and the action is kind of lame even compared to other swashbucklers from arond the same time, then there is a pretty entertaining pirate story sitting in there. And Geena Davis and Frank Langella are a solid good/bad team. Did it meet my expectations? Yeah, for the most part. I would have thought the movie would look better, but I can excuse that to get my swashbuckler on.

Roast-radamus – There is a halfway decent Planchet (Who?) for Captain Trotter who Ainslee just dunks on the entire film for being a dummy. Obviously a fantastic Setting as a Character (Where?) for Jamaica which, oddly, this film is rarely mentioned as being set there, but a good 50% of the film is very much explicitly in various parts of Jamaica. And then a solid MacGuffin (Why?) for the secret three part treasure map of Cutthroat Island, which isn’t on any maps! This film is very much closest to Good despite looking like garbage and having garbage action because, honestly, who hates a swashbuckling adventure story?

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – The obvious one is Sequel since they tease a sequel at the end of the film. Flashforward a few decades and Morgan Adams and William Shaw are married and ruling the roost in Madagascar as pirates extraordinaire! Suddenly, who shows up but their old enemy Dawg’s former first mate, uh … Pound Grisham (Dawg & Pound, get it? That’s the prequel I’m setting up). And who does he have as a prisoner, but Mordachai’s grandson, William Adams. Pound wants Morgan to help him to sail across the Indian Ocean and attack the great eastern pirate stronghold of … let’s go with Gao. Little does she know that this is all a ruse set up by William and Pound to attack her Madagascar fortress himself as her back is turned. Racing back to Madagascar things are bleak as it looks to be too late, but who is coming around the corner but Bowen (Christopher Masterson), and Mr. Glasspool, and all the other Caribbean pirates who now have their own crews. In the final battle blood proves thicker than gold (it makes sense, don’t think about it) and William switches sides to defeat Pound and save Morgan and Shaw’s skins. Looking to the half dozen pirate empires that rallied to her aid, Morgan openly wonders if there is any place that could stand in their way … could she, for example, rule Jamaica like Dawg once hoped? Smash cut to To Be Continued … Cutthroat Island: Escape 2 Africa. After would be Dawg & Pound: Tales from Cutthroat Island. And the third is Cutthroat Island: Black Harry’s Revenge.

You Just Got Schooled – This week’s film had another video game tie-in! Cutthroat Island for the SNES is a pretty basic brawler (think Final Fight) with a notoriously bad minecart level as level number 2. I played about an hour of this, but decided I should probably return to it after playing some brawlers. I never liked brawlers as I never had the patience to “solve” how to beat all of the different characters and things just devolved into button mashing. With this game that definitely happened, although I did eventually get to the point where I was able to get through levels 1 and 2 quite consistently. With only 10 levels there is a possibility I’ll finish this game sometime in the future. For now though I’ll have to give it a D. It is bad for a brawler, and apparently (who can tell these days) looks like garbage even for an SNES game of the time. I’ll get back to you about whether I’ve finished it sometime in the next decade.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Little Nicky Recap

Jamie

Nicky is the son of Satan and not so keen on taking over Hell. So he’s thrilled when his father announces he’s not retired. Unfortunately Nicky’s evil brothers don’t take it so well and break out of Hell to take over Earth. Can Nicky get them back before Hell freezes over and his father dies (and perhaps also get the girl) before it’s too late. Find out in… Little Nicky.

How?! Little Nicky just likes to rock out in Hell without all that evil mumbo jumbo. So when his father, Satan, decides not to retire he’s pretty thrilled. Particularly since his brothers, Cassius and Adrian, are pure evil and would have made his life a living hell (nailed it). Furious, they storm out of Hell to take over Earth as their own kingdom of evil. Unfortunately, Hell freezes over as a result and without souls Satan begins to die. Nicky is tasked with going up and capturing his brothers and bringing them back. Queue a long montage of Nicky acclimating to Earth and dying over and over again. In the process he finds all kinds of friends: a talking demon bulldog sent to help him, two satanists who are super into Satan and all that jazz, his dorky actor roommate, and the lovely Valerie. Despite the best efforts of his brothers to derail his plans, destroy his relationship with Valerie, and take over Earth, the evil within Nicky wins the day by taking down Cassius at a Globetrotters gain. Adrian responds by turning the whole city against Nicky, which ultimately leads to his arrest. But with the help of a few friends he is able to escape and lure Adrian into a trap. Unfortunately, Adrian isn’t just any foe and after a tussle Nicky sacrifices himself for Valerie. This sacrifice sends Nicky to Heaven where he meets his Mom. That’s right. He’s half good-half evil. He’s given a special orb as a weapon and returns to Earth to confront Adrian, who has taken over both Hell and Earth. They have an all-out, Popeyes fueled fight then ends with Nicky smashing the orb and revealing the ultimate weapon: Ozzy Osbourne, who captures Adrian. All is well back in Hell and Satan lets Nicky return to Earth to start a life with Valerie. THE END.

Why?! I believe the idea is that Nicky is part good and part evil… in other words, he’s human. By venturing up to Earth he realizes that that’s the place he belongs. So stopping his brothers isn’t just about saving his father, it’s about saving Earth… his home. Little twist at the end, too, where Nicky’s satanist friends are ultimately happier in Hell than on Earth. I wonder if they would eventually become the new satan(s) since Hell is where they belong? Did I just go deep on Little Nicky?

Who?! Sandler dominated these sections like young Shaq in the paint. This is just a posterizing jam here as the cameo game is pretty much on par with peak Sandler. Henry Winkler, Ozzy Osbourne, Regis, Bill Walton, Dan Marino (who weirdly went uncredited for the cameo), and then Carl Weathers playing Chubbs from Happy Gilmore. Kinda like how Brendan Fraser just kept playing Link from Encino Man over and over.

What?! This is where Sandler brings down the backboard and they have to spend a half hour putting up a new one. Probably should have just made his name Popeye, gave him a googly eye, and then have him fall in love with Popeyes because he thinks they make it just for him. That’s how major the Popeyes product placement is. Hit an A grade of product placement that will be an A+ once I come out with the BMT cut of the film titled Little Popeye. I don’t even have to mention all the other product placement, which pales in comparison (but would probably be a high point of any other BMT film).

Where?! Hell and NYC. I was trying to think of what other BMT films have Hell as a setting and Monkeybone is the first one that comes to mind, but I think that was set in Limbo technically. This might be the best one we’ve watched. Pretty good NYC film as well, but it does make we wonder where this would have been set later in Happy Madison history… does he emerge from Hell in a Cancun resort? A-.

When?! Oh I don’t know. I think it’s the summer because it’s kind of a joke that Nicky is always freezing and wearing a big coat. I usually say that I think any movie probably has something in it to pin down an exact date but… I don’t really think that would be the case here. Everything is fake. Every newspaper, tv spot, everything… maybe you could narrow it down based on advertisements around the city. But who has time for that? F.

If you want to appreciate the wonder and magic of the cinema then look no further than Little Nicky… because you realize while partaking in the film that at some point, somewhere a group of very important studio people sat around watching Adam Sandler put on a crazy annoying voice and smash Popeyes Chicken and had to think “it’s what the people want.” Cause I can’t imagine they fully understood what they were making. They just saw green and Sandler was (and is) a green machine. It’s actually pretty beautiful. A creator given full control to bring what they feel is funny fully realized to screen. The amount of set design and costumes and hair and makeup and props that went into making this real… it’s amazing. It exists and that’s a pretty crazy accomplishment, so I kinda love it for that… what’s that? What did I actually think about the movie? Didn’t care for it. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! *Take a big bite of Popeye’s chicken while watching Little Nicky* This movie is the shiznit! *openly weeps* Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – Adam Sandler films. Up until more recently we were mostly resigned to only really watching the more recent ones because we didn’t want to watch films we had already seen for BMT. Well, that is no more, so it is time to go back to what people might consider his “imperial” period, where he could do no wrong … until he did for basically the rest of his career (as far as comedies go). I think this is probably his first major miss, and it is a doozy. What were my expectations? I knew I would hate this film, because even when I was the target audience I hated this film. It isn’t funny, and Sandler is grating as the character of Nicky … so yeah, that’s what I expected.

The Good – Uh …. Well, if you are into the Happy Madison universe to some degree this is not the worst choice in the universe. Allan Covert is decent, and the set pieces (as far as Sandler comedies are concerned) are truly second to none. As a matter of fact a lot of the characters in the film could be decent, but the issue is they are usually saddled with either childish fart/homophobic/violent humor, or they are exclusively interacting with Nicky (the worse character in film history maybe, at least one of the more annoying), or both. Keitel, for example, could be decent except every few scenes he’s obligated to shove a pineapple up Hitler’s ass and it is like “ugh, this again?” Best Bit: Set pieces.

The Bad – Nearly everything else. The humor is everything that ultimately is wrong with early Sandler cranked up to 11. Homophobic humor at every turn. The solution to life’s problems being to punch someone in the face (and often the act of punching someone in the face represents growth somehow). And fill in the cracks with fart jokes, and for some reason demons with high squeaky voices. I’m not exactly sure how this film functions. It is like Sandler just gave $100 million to set designers, and then came back and improved the rest in a long weekend. It is a really really weird film. Fatal Flaw: Outdated garbage humor, and the most annoying character in film history.

The BMT – I mean, if I had to choose a single qualifying Sandler film as the BMT representative for him this is the leader in the clubhouse. And I am skeptical something like Eight Crazy Nights can stage the comeback. If Nicky was even a little less annoying as a character this film would at least be interesting to marvel at, because it really is just a production on an epic scale (especially for a comedy). It is Hollywood at its most self-indulgent. In the end it is mostly just a surreal experience. On the one hand I never want to watch this film ever again … and yet there is something deeply alluring about just how bad it is. Did it meet my expectations? More than I could imagine. It is maybe the least funny and most annoying comedy ever created. Congrats Little Nicky.

Roast-radamus – Genuine Planchet (Who?) for Covert as Nicky’s roommate in New York. His function does seem to be just to be dunked on by the Satan worshippers and to be called gay as a joke. Perhaps the greatest Product Placement (What?) in any Sandler film for Popeye’s, which is a huuuuuuuuuge part of the film. Nickey eats it at least three times, and the end scene features a giant anthropomorphic bucket of Popeye’s which walks around and the demons are obsessed with it. And quite a good Setting as a Character (Where?) for New York City which is featured in all of its weird glory. Definitely a contender for BMT I think, typically I would have went with bad, but this is so so weird it transcends badness and becomes BMT.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – Easy, a Prequel. Get a young Keitel look-alike in there, and a young Dangerfield look-alike in there, and reveal that Little Nicky’s journey on Earth isn’t entirely without precedent. When Nicky’s grandfather was set to retire he too had concerns over whether Keitel was ready to take over the throne. But when a rogue fallen angel appears in Middle Ages Britain leading a brutal raving army of criminals, Keitel is sent to Earth to sort it out before God gets wind of the encroachment in their DMZ (Earth). Learning to love and live again, Keitel defeats the angel in a joust and gets the maiden. In the end, God appears (played by …. let’s go with Chris Rock) and reveals that he knew about the encroachment all along, but knew that Keitel would have the heart to save the day without needing to escalate tensions between heaven and hell. He suggests they have a mixer sometime, and then winks at the camera. Everyone cheers. 

You Just Got Schooled – As part of the movie tie-in cycle we are mostly sticking to films which have either hit singles released as part of the film soundtrack, or video game licenses. Well, there was certainly a doozy of a video game for Little Nicky on the Game Boy Color. One of the last games made for the obsolete system (as the Advance had just come out), it is a basic platformer. A small twist is that it doesn’t have a saving mechanism, but instead relies on a set of passwords. This mechanism is combined with only having 5-7 lives during the course of the game, and being brutally slow at times as the Nicky sprite can only sprint when charged up with heat. There is some good fun here and there, the different movement mechanisms they built into the game are fun, and the ratchet-like advancement meant that beating the 24 levels was somewhat of an inevitability. And beat it I did, it probably took me about 6 hours. The final fight is actually quite good. Amusingly, as the manual is unavailable online, the game is pretty difficult to beat without seeing the film! That’s the kind of tie-in you love to see. C+. As a platformer it is probably one of the worst you can play. But I’ll throw in the plus for being a pretty entertaining diversion. I wish more weirdo video game tie-ins like this existed.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Dangerous Minds Recap

Jamie

Louanne Johnson is recently divorced and looking for work. She finds it teaching a class of low-income students. Through teaching poetry and boosting their confidence in themselves, she helps them find a voice. But can she help them in the classroom and get them off the streets before it’s too late? Find out in… Dangerous Minds.

How?! Louanne Johnson is fresh off a divorce and looking for a new start. Through a friend she gets hooked up with a job at Parkmont. Little does she know that she got the full time position mostly because they were having trouble filling it due to the low-income students in the class. But Louanne Johnson, former marine, doesn’t back down from the challenge and slowly earns the attention of the students by first teaching them karate, then rewarding them with treats, and finally speaking to them in the language of music and poetry. Soon she is building their confidence with new methods of grading and positive feedback and is reaping the rewards of finding some truly talented students amongst the group. However, all is not well. Her star student Callie is pregnant and is being pressured by the school to leave in order to attend a school geared more towards raising kids than schoolwork. Two other students are pulled out of school when their grandmother finds out they are studying poetry instead of learning something that might help them make money. Finally, Emelio, a troubled student, is threatened by a drug dealer and hides out with Louanne before trying to tell the principal of the school what’s happening. But when the principal turns him away he ends up getting shot and this sends Louanne into a tailspin. She decides to quit, but on the last day of school all the students band together and tell her how much she means to them. She ends up deciding to stay and everyone is happy. Hip hip hooray. THE END.

Why?! I mean… it’s not really a cynical movie, so that’s a positive. The motivation is teaching children and trying to make sure they have opportunities in life. While the focus is on the white teacher to the film’s detriment, it at least dispenses with any personal issues and all her thought, motivation, and strife comes from wanting to help the students.

Who?! This one is easy. Raymond and Richard Grant play Durrell and Lionel Benton, star pupils who are pulled out of school much to the dismay of LouAnne. They are actually twins (Twin Film Alert) and comprise the rap duo DJ Twinz. Uhhhhhhhhhhhh, yeah. That sound you hear is me listening to some DJ Twinz right now.

What?! Besides being a stellar advertisement for education and love (awww) it’s also got a pretty good advertisement for butterfingers as that is the candy of choice that LouAnne throws around as a reward for correct answers. Although I prefer the sweet taste of karate and expensive French dinners, the other rewards she uses in the film.

Where?! This is very much an LA film, which is fine, but also not necessarily always the most exciting since so many films are set there. This at least seems to have a reason. The real LouAnne Johnson taught in the LA area and more specifically there is an underlying commentary about the fact that the kids are being bussed in from a lower income neighborhood, only to be shuttled into a class where they are ignored (that is until LouAnne shows up). B+.

When?! This takes place over a school year more or less. We don’t really get much holiday  talk or anything like that, and LouAnne is clearly a replacement teacher, so it’s possible that she took over in the new year and we see from Jan-June or something. Doesn’t really matter, this is basically a road trip through time. No specific timing. C.

It is perfectly possible to make an entertaining and engaging tale of helping high risk youths and still totally miss the mark. Beyond being just a cliche of the white savior trope, I think there is a real fundamental lack of familiarity with the world that is being portrayed that hamstrings the film from the jump. I would assume LouAnne Johnson’s book probably does a better job (I couldn’t get my hands on a copy in time to read it), but the film completely glosses over some of the most poignant and heartbreaking aspects of the children’s stories in favor of surface level stereotypes and instead spends an inordinate amount of time on the trials and tribulations of the white teacher. It’s hard to say anything more than that. Despite the good songs, engaging filmmaking, and good acting by Pfeiffer… this is not a good film. Just not in the typical BMT way of being a bad film. Patrick? 

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! This week it was Louanne Johnson’s Dangerous Minds versus the Bad movie Twins beautiful minds. Friday night fights! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – We’ve just been living in a gangster’s paradise. I think the legacy of the film is entirely tied up with maybe the most successful song-movie tie-in in history? Maybe a Will Smith song or The Bodyguard narrowly beats it out, but the Coolio track is basically I know (or need to know) about this movie. What were my expectations? Well, Ebert spelled it out in his review: white savior nonsense. If that is the biggest complaint I fear there won’t be much to like in the film.

The Good – Fear not, there were quite a few good things with this film. Like with Rising Sun it feels pretty gross to be like “well, besides the racism, the film was pretty good!” … but I guess here goes? The film is basically that classic Stand and Deliver or Lean on Me story. The visionary teacher comes in and gets these kids to learn (and learns a thing or two him/herself!), everyone cheers or the teacher gets fired, it depends on how cynical they want to be about the American education system. And you can do worse, Pfeiffer is solid in the lead role and it does a good job avoiding an unnecessary romance angle for her character. Best Bit: Pfeiffer.

The Bad – The biggest issue is probably Courtney B. Vance’s character. I’m not sure if it was his choice or explicitly laid out in the script or what, but his character might as well be named Feckless Principal. He ends up being some sort of cartoon metaphor for how “rules” and a lack of compassion have poisoned the American education system … or something. We’ll get to the issue with the portrayal of the education system i.e. “if only teachers cared more”. But then, yeah, this film is top-to-bottom a white savior tale. That really shouldn’t be dismissed. Fatal Flaw: White savior tale.

The BMT – This is a classic addition to the BMT Discography (not a section on the website …. yet) with Coolio’s jamming tune remaining a highlight of the trailer for this film. I choose to remember this film within the lens of Coolio’s track alone. Would I watch it again? I would, especially in some bizarre “Badass Teacher”-mersion podcast me and Jamie are now definitely starting. Did it meet my expectations? It was actually a bit better than I expected. I think, outside of the Vance character and the white savior nonsense, the film is pretty entertaining and an easy watch. I was kind of expecting The Substitute, but it was basically just Lean on Me.

Roast-radamus – A minor Product Placement (What?) for Louanne tossing around Butterfingers (as Bob Dylan once said: No one better lay a finger on my Butterfinger) among other candy bars. And Setting as a Character (Where?) for the explicit setting in Palo Alto. Definitely closest to Good, although I hope that something better crops up.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – Easy, a sequel. This is about Louanne’s daughter, who herself has just gotten out of the Marines and is going back to her mother’s old stomping grounds in Palo Alto. And hooooooooooooooooo doggy she has a whole other crop of issues to deal with with her children. Cyberbullying, sexting, like … I don’t know, like meeting people on the internet? My point is that this ain’t her momma’s high school, she now has techmologies to deal with, and she is ill-prepared. So when an elite North Korean hacker starts trying to hack the election via the school’s servers, she has to assemble her ragtag group of students together to unleash their viruses, hack the Gibson, and take down Ellingson Mineral. HACK THE PLANET! We can workshop the ending, but rest assured, right at that 80 minute mark Michelle Pfeiffer busts that door down and says “Miss me boys and girls?” and the whole theater cheers. Dangerous Minds 2: Cyberwar.

You Just Got Schooled – We’re back baby! A real BMT Homework section because Dangerous Minds was also a television show! Starring Annie Potts, the first episode kind of follows the storyline from the movie, except the students in the television show are far less disruptive, and the things Louanne is teaching are just normal high school English curriculum. The first episode mainly focuses on Of Mice and Men for example. The show got cancelled after a season, which isn’t too surprising since it wasn’t very good. The biggest issue I had with it was it really cranked up that “if only American educators cared you know?” attitude to 11. Louanne is buying people books, paying for a nursery for another student, letting people stay in her enormous house … in the first episode she probably spends like $1000 of her own money on her students. And the other teachers are like “yeah, if we can all just chip in we can really make a difference!” No! These are the things the school and local government should be dealing with, not rogue teachers with, evidently, a fortune to distribute to the needy. It feels like it ends up with the moral being “yeah, the issue with the education system isn’t class sizes or underfunding … it is probably that most of the teachers don’t give a shit!” D. An interesting watch, but the movie is better and, against all odds, less preachy.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Rising Sun Recap

Jamie

Web Smith is a police liaison called in to mediate a homicide found during a big time Japanese business’s gala. Surprisingly he is asked to bring along Capt. Conner, a police expert on Japan. Soon it becomes clear that there is more to the homicide than the company will let on. Can Web and Conner untangle the dastardly web of deceit before it’s too late? Find out in… Rising Sun.

How?! Web Smith is just trying to raise his daughter and do his job as a police liaison. One night he gets a call to help mediate a homicide call at a highfalutin Japanese business gala attended by all the bigwigs in town. Curiously, he is also asked to pick up Captain Conner, a semi-retired police expert on Japan. When they get to the crime scene the party continues uninterrupted while the crime scene is teaming with the company’s men. It becomes clear that they just want the whole thing dismissed, but Web and Conner are suspicious. Particularly when they discover that some of the tapes are missing from the state-of-the-art surveillance in the building. They suspect the boyfriend of the victim, Eddie, in the crime and cover up and when the missing disc shows up it appears to confirm their suspicions. They raid Eddie’s house only to have him flee and appear to die in a fiery crash. The next day they find that Eddie attempted to contact them about the missing disc and so they decide to take it to an expert who shows them how the film was manipulated. Returning to Web’s apartment, Web and Conner are shocked to find Eddie there alive and well. Someone else had died in the crash. He gives them the original surveillance tape, but the Yakuza show up and kill him and attempt to kill Web. After regrouping they view the tape and find that the killer appears to be Senator Morton, a powerful politician who was holding up a big acquisition for the Japanese company. The tape was being used to blackmail him, but in fact showed that someone else came into the room and killed the girl after he left. Wanting to smoke out the rat, Web and Conner go to a big meeting at the company and show the tape. Panicking, one of the lawyers flees and is ultimately killed closing the case, although leaving doubts as to how high the conspiracy could have gone. Bum bum bum. THE END.

Why?! Unfortunately, Web’s motivations are the least interesting in the film. Just doing his job. The Japanese company is a bit more interesting. They want to acquire an American microchip company , which is causing some concern in the government due to the connection of that company to national defense. Senator Morton initially is blocking the merger in the name of sovereignty, but ultimately is swayed though blackmail. Low key the most interesting motivation is Conner, who is semi-retired and living it up golfing and chilling with the wealthy Japanese businessmen of LA. There is some implication that he ends up turning a blind eye to the involvement of some of the particularly powerful people involved in the crime in order to keep his good standing (and great tee times) with them… kind of a last minute anti-hero twist for Connery.

Who?! Rooted in “real” economic concerns, the film also has “real” TV news entertainment segments in it. This includes a segment with Senator Morton hosted by Michael Kinsley and including a few well known journalists. Most interesting of the bunch is Pat Choate who went on to be Ross Perot’s running mate in the 1996 presidential election. Given his political stances, it actually makes perfect sense he appears in this film.

What?! There is something to be said here about fake businesses cooked up for BMT films. Here Nakamoto is portrayed as a powerful keiretsu housed in the Two California Plaza skyscraper. In Die Hard they have the fictional Nakatomi corporation housed in the Fox Plaza. Same companies? Different companies? Doesn’t matter. It tells you where Hollywood’s headspace was heading into the early 90’s collapse of the Japanese economy. 

Where?! Extremely solid LA film, to the point where I think you’d have to give it an A. I’m not sure there is another city in the United States that you could set this film and for it to still make sense. Unless you were to change the focus and thus the name… and thus pretty much everything about it. Funny enough, I think I had always assumed this was a film set in Japan. Tells you how little I knew about it before diving in.When?! The phone call to Web to get over to Nakamoto occurs at 9pm February 9th according to the testimony we see him giving in periodic flash forwards… turns out the testimony is from after Eddie is killed, Web gets shot, and then he gets put on leave. So really it’s like a flash middle. Fun to think that the climax of the film takes place 4 days after the date given… meaning we came very close to a Super Secret Holiday Film Alert with this taking place on Valentine’s Day. A- just for that fact.

When?! The phone call to Web to get over to Nakamoto occurs at 9pm February 9th according to the testimony we see him giving in periodic flash forwards… turns out the testimony is from after Eddie is killed, Web gets shot, and then he gets put on leave. So really it’s like a flash middle. Fun to think that the climax of the film takes place 4 days after the date given… meaning we came very close to a Super Secret Holiday Film Alert with this taking place on Valentine’s Day. A- just for that fact.

There were a number of critiques levied at the book and then the film adaptation for their portrayals of Japanese culture and business practices. For good reason! The book is even harsher, but you get the drift from the film as well. An unending stream of pejorative statements about Japanese business and America’s willingness to sell to them. Crichton defended the book as a purely economic argument, which might have gone over better if the Japanese economy wasn’t in the midst of a severe crash at the time of publication and then the film’s release. So it comes off as more rooted in xenophobia than the economic reality of the situation. All that being said up front, I think the film is otherwise just an adequate buddy cop police procedural. At times it lacks some direction and forward momentum, but I actually think it’s a bit of an improvement over the book. The book is just kinda boring, with a pretty bland main character and then Conner, who was clearly written with Connery in mind (but aren’t all Crichton characters… think about it). It feels like Crichton was more interested in getting his specific (offensive) point across and then built a generic police procedural around it. Of his books I’ve read it’s pretty easily my least favorite. As for After We Collided, I enjoyed watching the first one, I enjoyed watching this one, and I’ll enjoy watching the next one. They are real dumb and chock full o’ product placement, which gives a good laugh. I will also contend that, unlike Fifty Shades, this series actually has a purpose. It is about a young girl in love with an addict and the hope and desire that their love can ultimately overcome his trauma and his disease. He is not a bad person, but he has a problem and the depiction of their relationship is done more deftly than this dumbo series kinda deserves. So it’s not total trash. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! A pinch of noir, a dash of buddy cop, and juuuuuuuuuust a little (read: a lot) of cultural insensitivity, and you got a Rising Sun cooking baby! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – This movie has actually been on my radar for a long time … although mostly because I’ve been continually disappointed it wasn’t set in Japan. It would definitely be the best set-in-Japan bad movie ever, but alas, they set it in Los Angeles like dummies. Yawn. Always fun to hit up a Crichton though, they always scream “90s” to me. Just something about him. What were my expectations? I had a problem: I hadn’t seen much noir, and I hadn’t seen much Snipes. So I was mostly going into it curious to see how it played.

The Good – I liked the dynamic between Snipes and Connery. It works as an odd couple pairing. A despite the Hollywood-style exploration of Japanese business culture that feels both racist and immediately outdated, I did enjoy the specific moment where they exposed Connery’s character’s hypocrisy, specifically his attitude towards the bribe he was effectively given early in the film. Among an otherwise muddled film there were a few things that still seemed to at least focus the film in an interesting way. Best Bit: The buddy cops.

The Bad – I mean … the immediately outdated and racist portrayal of Japanese customs and business culture? That’s it isn’t it? Even if you wanted to dismiss that all as pearl-clutching nonsense, the film was made in 1993, well after the Japanese economy entered a recession, and so at very best the Japanese business villains come across as Hollywood feeling around for a Big Bad after the collapse of the USSR. Other than that boring and borderline confusing are probably the biggest slights. Fatal Flaw: Racism.

The BMT – This is certainly a unique film at the very least. I’m not sure how many other films even exist with the Japanese business world as the bad guy … Gung Ho maybe. Remember that film? About like … making a lot of cars or something? Anyways, I think I ultimately enjoyed the underlying noir element too much to think about watching this again, but the specific time it was made makes it an interesting one time watch. Did it meet my expectations? As a noir I guess not, I kind of expected Connery to be a PI. But maybe once I watch more noir I’ll know better. As a Snipes film also maybe not? I got the distinct feeling he was playing himself in the film, but I haven’t watched enough of his films to know better. I’m giving myself an Incomplete on this assignment.

Roast-radamus – A pretty good Setting as a Character (Where?) because how can you create a noir film without setting it in LA? A very amusing, and borderline super-secret holiday film, Exact Temporal Setting (When?) for the fact that all of the events take place between February 9th and February 13th, one day off from being an incredible Valentine’s Day film! And finally Worst Twist (How?) for having the same twist as The Skulls whereby the person who was killed wasn’t actually dead until someone else came into the room and killed her! Solid stuff, with the overall film being closest to Good I think.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – The Sequel is obvious here. A year after the events of the film Webster Smith gets an urgent letter from Jingo Asakuma that John Conner is back in Japan and in serious trouble! But when Webster arrives in Tokyo neither Conner or Asakuma can be found. In fact, Conner is wanted for question in connection to the disappearance of Asakuma a week prior. Huh, how odd. Webster, using some of the connections he had developed from the first film, ends up unwinding the strange tale of Conner’s return to Japan after decades in self-exile to discover who was responsible in the death of his old friend Yoshida. Along the way the daughter of the desk bound and contrite Ishihara helps Webster to navigate the underworld of modern Tokyo and the ever changing dynamics of the international business world. You have to know what the name is right? … Setting Sun. Boom, I think I just sold that spec on title alone. Call me Crichton, you can even write the book.

You Just Got Schooled – This one a film where I couldn’t quite decide whether to do a Snipes film or a noir. I went noir as I haven’t seen many of the classics and I’ve been watching only bad movies for too long. Naturally, I had to go for one of the best with Double Indemnity, which seems to be considered the noir to watch if you are looking for a definitive list. I was definitely thrown a bit by the subject matter and dialogue, because I’m mostly used to the Maltese Falcon where it is about a private detective / femme fatale dynamic. The insurance salesman, and the way he spoke, just really threw me off. But ultimately the perfect murder plot line is very engrossing and I can see why it is considered among the creme de la creme for the genre. Edward G. Robinson was particularly good. It ended up being the perfect choice because it broke me out of the mindset of noir = private eye, and I can see now why Rising Sun is considered to at least take inspiration from film noir (even if it is closer to a buddy cop film from the 80s). A+, obviously, it is a great film.

Bring a Friend Analysis – A pretty special week since we were able to bring along a BMT sequel as a friend, After We Collided, the sequel to the YA-romance novel-turned-movie After. The film is basically nonsense, but in that very special modern filmmaking kind of way. It appears to be something like six sex scenes held together by modular “destination” plot lines (a jaunt to the ice rink, a babysitting gig, a hot yoga session, etc.). Basically, it seems like the film could have been filmed by 20 different directors and then stitched together in any order they wanted at the end. Oh, and it is also one giant commercial for Amazon. It can’t be a coincidence I was watching the film on Amazon Prime while the main character is getting a Kindle as a gift. There was a storyline in this film … it just isn’t coming to me. Something like alcoholism is bad news, and you should make amends with your dad? Something like that. B+. I love YA-nonsense. This was kind of cheating because by all accounts this should have been released to theaters if not for the pandemic. But I’m glad we get to continue our journey into this YA-romance series.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Sliver Recap

Jamie

After Carly Norris moves into a swanky new apartment in a sliver building everything seems grand. In particular the hot 20-something and the hot sex they have which is hot. What’s decidedly not cool is all the murders and stuff. Can she figure out what’s going on (and perhaps snag some sweet creepy Billy Baldwin action) before it’s too late? Find out in… Sliver.

How?! Carly Norris is a book editor who’s moving on up and moving on from a string of disastrous relationships. She finds a new apartment in a sliver building that seems to fit the bill. As she meets her new neighbors she’s taken by a young video game designer, Zeke, that seems a little too good to be true. In contrast there is an older writer, Jack, that seems to fit her usual type (and we know how that turned out). Over time she starts to get some weirdo feelings about what has happened in the building and after the death of one of the other tenants learns that the highrise has been the site of multiple grisly murders in the last few years. Bad luck or something more? Don’t ask Carly cause she and Zeke start to get hot and heavy and that… pretty much distracts her for most of the movie. They have sex everywhere and it seems like our boy Creepy Zekey (CZ for short) has caught some feelings cause he comes clean: not only is he the owner of the building but he, you know, kinda maybe sorta tricked out the entire place with a thousand video cameras and watches everyone all the time like a total CZ. But she still loves him, right? As they start to watch the footage together and continue their love affair, Jack becomes more and more crazy and all kinds of bad things start to happen in the building. Astute viewers will at this point be like “aha, I smell a red herring! It’s not Jack at all, but rather CZ.” Wrong! Just a regular old herring here because eventually Jack confronts Carly in her apartment and after a struggle Carly shoots him dead. Astute viewers will at this point be like “aha, Jack simply cracked under the cloud of suspicion, but in fact it’s still CZ all along.” Wrong! Still plain old herring as Carly dives into CZ’s video collection and finds proof that Jack indeed was the murderer. Unfortunately she also discovers that he is a fuck boy and a liar and she’s not down for that and so she destroys his video equipment and is like “deal with it.” THE END.

Why?! I feel like I’ve been struggling to grasp the motivations in some of these films lately. Maybe because I’ve been reading the books, which are just better mediums for conveying inner thoughts, and so that confuses the issue when the adaptations start to veer off course. But here goes. Carly wants love after wasting her years on some failed relationships. In the movie she is certainly more lonely and the distraction of the love affair seems more lust driven than anything else. Lust isn’t a big part of the book, probably because the book is more a horror book than an erotic thriller book. CZ is a voyeur, although in the book this goes hand in hand with him being a pathological liar. Everything in his life is driven by his voyeurism.

Who?! Been a while since we had a true blue Thanks credit that seemed interesting. Here Hans Bjerno got a thanks. He was a wescam technician at the time and really early in his career having just done his first job the year before for Basic Instinct. So I guess that early on he just got a thanks… but after that he’s big time. Like he just did Bad Boys for Life and Tenet.

What?! As Patrick points out, there isn’t much there for this other than the angle they took with Zeke being a video game designer and so there are a lot of conspicuous games and books that portray that fact in an interesting way (to us). It’s funny cause in the book I’m pretty sure the implication is that he’s lying about designing video games. He’s incredibly and independently wealthy and I think the point is that it’s a career he could pretend to have that most people wouldn’t understand that he could conceivably do from home… so he could hide the fact that he spends all his time watching people on his cameras. Then in the adaptation they seemed to miss that point and made it all so very real.

Where?! New York City for days. We’ve had a couple real good NYC films recently. This is funny just from the sliver building point of view just because they were kind of NYC specific. There had been a number built into the 80’s, but then there was push back and they were effectively outlawed at the time of both the book and the film… so I wonder if it was just more common to know what a sliver building was at the time. A.

When?! Hmmm, in the book everything takes place in the fall and then approaching Christmas… clearly from the weather that’s also the case here, but I don’t think it’s ever super clear. But come on… you think our boy Tommy Berenger would be sporting a heavy hoodie sweatshirt on anything but a crisp fall day? There is a chance there is something clearer in the film, but I just didn’t catch it, so we’ll call it a D+ for now.

The movie is certainly funny in that special 90’s sort of way. Like Billy Baldwin is a video game designer/1337 h4x0r and his come on to the ladies is like “I love volcanoes, check out this glass volcano I have,” and it’s like weird glass sculpture. And she doesn’t laugh straight in his face. She’s like cool volcano let’s have sex. And then she’s so distracted by the sex that she doesn’t immediately realize that he’s a weirdo creepster voyeur… even after he tells her. Anyway, that’s not really the problem. It’s funny but also a bit mundane and that would have probably been OK if not for the end of the film. They changed the ending so the obvious creepster weirdo is in fact not the murderer and my brain cannot accept that. Apparently it was foisted on them after the (more interesting) original ending bombed with focus groups… the one where Zeke is the killer and crashes a plane into a volcano… for real… it would have been amazing. As for the book, I actually really liked it. Short and sweet, you could easily breeze through it on a single day of vacation. The ending still isn’t good (a cat claws out the bad guys eyeballs in the end… cause he’s a voyeur… get it?) and it’s got some classic weird book ideas about the intoxicating effects of voyeurism, which probably tells us more about the author than society writ large, but it’s way more satisfying than the film. I think it at least has more to chew on in assessing the motivations of a pathological liar and how the lies all feed his underlying obsession. Easily the best I’ve read of this cycle. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! A landlord adds a few cameras to a building and the neo-Luddite tenants flip out! That is decidedly not the storyline of Sliver. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – This was Jamie’s choice for the new category this year, replacing Sci-Fi (which is just a very narrow genre and mostly fits into action or horror) with Achievement Unlocked. There are, indeed, only so many erotic thrillers of the 90s available, so I actually think we’ll be able to pretty much sweep this mini-genre up. I think that is mostly what this category is all about, sub-genres that wouldn’t normally get their own category. Mine this year I think will be “sports movies.” Regardless, that is what the preview was dominated by, the fact that this was an erotic thriller and how unerotic and unthrilling it was. What were my expectations? Well, I like Sharon Stone. I think she got unnecessary flack for getting typecast into sexy roles, just go and read the notes about how Sly treated her during the filming of The Specialist. But I hope she made a boatload of money and doesn’t regret a thing, and I hope she’s good in the film and everything else is ludicrous.

The Good – I really do like Sharon Stone. Something about her just comes across as authentic to me. I love the profession of book publisher or editor in film because it is extremely prevalent in book adaptations (Fifty Shades of Grey, and the After series come to mind) and there is something about writers writing about writing this is just so delightfully self-indulgent. There is something very prescient about the voyeur and the connection to state surveillance, although I’m not smart enough to articulate it. And finally, I love the idea of a film where people are merely known by apartment numbers. Stone lives in 20b, Gus was in 23b, Vida was in 20a, and Zeke in 13a. Only missing Berenger. Best Bit: Sharon Stone.

The Bad – I just can’t believe they are seriously trying to make me look at William Baldwin doing his 80s exercise routine and be like “ooooooo yeah, him and Sharon Stone, I see it, I dig it.” He must have been choice 50 for the male lead. There is a whole thing about volcanos that I just don’t get. The entire twist is nonsense. They ended up reediting it into Berenger being impotent and jealous of Zeke so he murders the previous tenant Naomi … that doesn’t make a lick of sense! But of course the gravest sin of all for an erotic thriller: it isn’t erotic or thrilling. Just a bunch of mundane sex with a rich weirdo who thinks everyone smells like roses.  Fatal Flaw: Maybe the least sexy erotic thriller ever made.

The BMT – This film as chosen specifically as a 90s erotic thrillers. I don’t think this is a very good one though. It doesn’t even get close to The Color of Night or even Body of Evidence. But you can’t rank erotic thrillers from the 90s without it, so it needed to be done. Baldwin saves it from blandness by being one of the more absurd casting choices ever with a weirdo character to boot. Did it meet my expectations? Yeah, I think so. I don’t think it was as absurd as something like The Color of Night, as I said. It was a little too mundane and confusing to do that. But Stone was good, and the writing was terrible, so that’s a solid 90s erotic thriller I think.

Roast-radamus – A bit of Product Placement (What?) in Zeke’s apartment with a bunch of video game boxes and posters, like the original Civilization. A good Setting as a Character (Where?) for New York City where, much like Rosemary’s Baby, the desire for a prestigious address outweighs concerns about mysterious deaths. Definitely Worst Twist (How?) for the big reveal that … Berenger is the murderer? Wait, that can’t be right. Definitely closest to BMT, as all erotic thrillers tend to be.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – Oh this is easy. We make a Backdraft 2 for this movie, Sliver 2. The story goes like this, the building still exists and it is intimated that after the events of the first film Zeke managed to avoid prosecution and retain his building by blackmailing Carly into silence. And for years he’s existed there, making video games, watching his real life soap opera, but crippled by fear that Carly will eventually get her revenge (but ready if she tries). Then one day who shows up, but a young man who claims to be his son, Carly’s son from their tryst all those years ago. Zeke, suspicious at first, slowly introduces him to the building, it is now connected to the internet, streaming the “show” to select viewers, his clientele across the globe. After getting his son to be part of the “show” he has leverage over him and feels safe in allowing him full access to his world. Then, a young woman shows up that his protege shows some interest in, and so Zeke gets her into the building and begins to try and push his son to the edge. The tension mounts, his son is resistant, Zeke’s viewers are going wild … but in an ultimate twist the man and woman turn the tables on Zeke and, indeed, expose him as a voyeur to the world. The man is, it turns out, not his son, it is the woman who is his daughter! Boom, huge cameo right at the end when Sharon Stone shows up with the police and says “your show’s been cancelled, Zeke.” Sliver 2: Webisodes. Or like … maybe Webicide? Has anyone used that pun before, Webicide? It’s terrible and I love it.

You Just Got Schooled – Would I dare to play one of the video games we see in Zeke’s apartment? I would. I bought Night Trap, a full motion video interactive movie from 1992 which, amusingly, was one of the main video games interrogated during the 1993 Senate hearing on violence in video games. Unfortunately for me there was a 25th anniversary edition of the game on Steam, so I couldn’t bring myself to just download the game on an abandonware site, I did actually pay like $15 for it … so that made me feel pretty dumb. It ended up being a pretty amusing play. You watch a (very very bad) movie while switching cameras and clicking a button about 80 times during the story. Very similar to something like Five Nights at Freddy’s, except with an 80s cable film behind it. It ended up being unreasonably amusing to play for about 2 hours, and quite easy to beat within 3 I would say. It is somehow an important part of gaming history, with a bad movie, and found within a different big budget bad movie! Unfortunately none of the actors from the film are in anything else, otherwise we’d definitely be doing a Night Trap friend cycle in the fall. A-. The game is terrible by gaming standards, but by bad movie standards it is amazing. Just don’t pay $15 for it, that part wasn’t fun.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Confessions of a Shopaholic Recap

Jamie

Rebecca Bloomwood has a problem. She’s deep in debt and she just got a job at a financial magazine. The irony! While doling out advice and trying to overcome her crippling shopping obsession, she’s also trying to evade her debt collector. Can she avoid public embarrassment (and perhaps get the guy) before it’s too late? Find out in… Confessions of a Shopaholic.

How?! Rebecca Bloomwood has big dreams. She wants a place in the world of fashion, writing for the top magazine Alette. Unfortunately she’s stuck at a gardening magazine while blowing all her money (and more) on the latest trends (that honestly and objectively look hideous). When she fails to get an interview at Alette she settles for an interview at the financial magazine Successful Saving helmed by Luke Brandon. She blows the interview and while drinking to forget that (and her crippling debt) she writes two letters: one to Alette telling everything she wished she could, and a second to Successful Saving raking them over the coals. Unfortunately in her drunken stupor she mixes up the letters! Uh oh! Or not so ‘uh oh’ as her spunk gets her a job at Successful Saving after all. Despite the irony of her position, Rebecca immediately charms everyone around her and starts churning out a wildly successful column tying sensible financing to the financial troubles she’s experiencing under the pseudonym The Girl in the Green Scarf. Soon she’s falling for her boss, booking appearances on TV, and trying everything to avoid her debt collector. Unfortunately on her big TV interview day disaster strikes and her debt collector is in the audience. The fallout is immense as not only does she lose her job, but her boss is also forced out. Realizing that her shopaholic tendencies have ruined all the relationships around her (including the one with her best friend), Rebecca declines a job offer from Alette to work on herself. Through Shopaholics Anonymous she organizes an auction of all her clothes (including her signature scart) and pays off her debt. Rebecca mends her relationships and finally runs into Luke, who reveals that he in fact bought her scarf and that he wants her to work with him at his new company. They then smooch a bunch probably. THE END.

Why?! Love, duh. Actually I take that back. This film is probably one of the least love-centric rom coms I can remember. Luke is very much a side character and they barely kiss before her addiction derails things. The film is much more interested in exploring the root of her addiction than love… at least on the surface. So I guess the motivation is, uh, shopping.

Who?! Funny cameo in this one as one of the members of Shopaholics Anonymous is John Salley. Yes, 4-time NBA champion and 0-time all-star John Salley. Not nearly his only BMT film, either as he also appeared in the film Eddie and Bad Boys II. I learned from wiki that he was friends with Eddie Murphy and used to do some stand up when he was on the Pistons. He was funny in this.

What?! Uhhhhhhhh, I mean, the film is a giant advertisement. It would actually be hard to list anything of particular significance as so many brands were spotlighted that they kinda washed each other out. The only thing I’ll reiterate is that I thought that a fair number of Fisher’s outfits were objectively terrible to the point where I wondered if the point was that she would realize that she was meant to be a financial writer rather than a fashion writer.

Where?! Big time NYC film, which is interesting as it’s not till the second book that the Shopaholic series went to America (and even then, just for that entry). A little weird they changed the setting and made Rebecca America, but whatever. Sprinkled in a little Miami too for good measure. A-. Could have been London.

When?! Another film, another purposeful dodging of the temporal setting. There are multiple parts where they could easily have dropped a “Sale of the Century, March 2nd” in there but they didn’t. Clearly this took place in winter and into the early Spring just given the general attire and mood of NYC. But never specified. D.

This is a hard film to review. On the one hand it’s a generic rom com that has some charming actors, some nice to look at locales, and literally no surprises (if you’re into that kind of thing). On the other hand, it takes everything good about the book and throws it in the trash in favor of shameless and mostly off-putting consumerism. I guess as far as a straightforward rom com my biggest gripe is the lack of love. There doesn’t seem to be much building of the Isla Fisher/Hugh Dancy love connection and can we get more than just a very PG-rated smooch? As far as the consumerism goes, I think this suffers mostly in trying to fit a not-very-generic rom com book into a generic rom com package. The idea of the book is kinda that Rebecca is actually very qualified for financial writing because she sees through all the lies that everyone is fed by the financial institutions because she herself has been duped into debt by them over and over. That’s a very prominent part of the book, her snide remarks as she listens to financial PR campaigns. They threw that all away in favor of someone who seemingly just bumbles and stumbles her way to success by mostly looking at her shopping bags and being like “credit cards are like… empty shopping bags…” and people are like ‘Brilliant!’ That being said, I also didn’t like the book very much. Rebecca is a giant liar in the book and it’s hard to take at times as she just keeps lying and lying and lying. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! A film about rampant consumerism literally moments after the financial collapse? What is this, Sex and the City 3?! Kind of, yeah. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I swear to god I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out how to not do this film. It just is one of those films I didn’t really have an interest in. I figured it would be boring, and if not boring it would just be Sex and the City, and if not that it would be like … a bad adaptation of the book or something. Hugh Dancy was the only thing that gave me hope, he tends to be in weird secretly-good BMT films like the weirdo animated Oz film where he was a nutcracker. What were my expectations? An unfunny film that mostly people hated because of the rampant consumerism which was unbecoming in 2009.

The Good – Isla Fisher and Hugh Dancy are very charming and play their roles well. Actually, all of the actors do a serviceable job in the film. Outside of the context of the financial collapse the consumerism is probably not quite so disgusting. Really good NYC film with a very out of place excursion to Miami. Very much felt like they left NYC solely because that’s what Hollywood films are supposed to do. Best Bit: Isla Fisher.

The Bad – Much like Sex and the City the comsumerism is really gross feeling in 2020, and the film isn’t funny. The humor is actually mostly like The Office, which I guess makes sense considering this came out in the middle of its most popular run, but the awkwardness is a bit of a shock watching in 2020. The main character is also quite unappealing. If she was just a shopaholic that would be okay, that’s something she needs to learn to get over, good for her. But she’s also a compulsive liar, and the lies are what actually gets her in trouble. Why anyone would ever believe a word she says is beyond me. Fatal Flaw: Dated humor.

The BMT – Well, I don’t think I’ll ever think of this film again. Probably, the main issue is the film is kind of okay? I didn’t mind it. Isla Fisher saved it to a large degree. I can’t imagine a single situation in which I would recommend anyone watch this film … huh, usually at the very least people could marvel at a bad-BMT film for its blandness, but this is just not really much of a film if you don’t care for the book series. Did it meet my expectations? Kind of, I do think that the rampant consumerism is why the film got terrible reviews. It would get terrible reviews today as well though for its dated awkward humor, so nothing has changed for it unfortunately.

Roast-radamus – This might actually be the greatest Product Placement (What?) in the history of BMT. Is “all fashion brands” a valid product placement? Do you think any of them had to pay for their placement? Solid Setting as a Character (Where?) for New York City. I won’t count Miami, but that is one of the worst uses of a city in a film I’ve ever seen. And a small Worst Twist (How?) for the reveal that Dancy was both bidders for the green scarf at the end. Like why both? Why not outbid the actual people there? Whatever. Closest to Good in my opinion with some distance from the financial collapse.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – This is obviously prime for a Netflix streaming remake. It is already a book series so you have built in stories for multiple seasons. From what I can tell the movie isn’t super faithful to the book, so you have an opportunity to draw in fans there as well. And you move it to London (with Rebecca still being from the US) and you have some real Emily in Paris energy going. I can see it now, a woman, trying to escape her financial obligations in the US, moves to the UK to try and turn her life around. Initially lying about her experience and her financial situation (to employers and the UK government alike), the first series would basically be like the movie except you replace the debt collector with a government employee trying to unravel Rebecca’s web of visa application lies! I would actually probably watch that.

You Just Got Schooled – Final week for the suspension of You Just Got Schooled for the Hall of Fame rewatches. This week I rewatched both Endless Love films. Those previews and the Endless Love (2014) induction are all now live. Stay tuned as this section returns next week.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Message in a Bottle Recap

Jamie

When Theresa finds a message in a bottle with a beautifully sad love note in it, it piques her interest in the writer. She tracks down Garrett, a widower and boat restorer and they embark on their own love story. But Garrett’s inability to move on from the death of his wife threatens to end it all in tragedy. Will they find love before it’s too late? Find out in… Message in a Bottle. 

How?! It’s a message in a bottle, baby. Come… come… come on and let it out. And that’s exactly what divorcee Theresa does when she finds such a bottle on a Cape Cod beach. Inside is a beautiful and yet sad love note to a long lost love. Theresa brings it back to her Chicago newspaper office and her boss subsequently publishes it in his column. Initially angered by this, the response to the letter and the fact that it results in the discovery of two other letters by the same writer make Theresa all the more excited to find the author. Tracking him down to North Carolina, she heads there and meets Garrett, a soft spoken widower who lost his wife three years prior. Taking care of his alcoholic father, Garrett’s life has stalled as he has attempted to preserve the memory of his wife in every aspect. But sparks fly when he meets Theresa and suddenly he’s taking her sailing and doing all kinds of things that he would have thought impossible. When Theresa heads back to Chicago she fears it’s the end of the affair, only to be surprised when Garrett decides to visit. They have a wonderful time, particularly in regards to Garrett’s ability to relate to her young son, but on their final night together he discovers the copies of his letters in her nightstand. He is shocked and wonders whether this was all a scheme by a journalist to get a story, but is even more shocked when it’s revealed that there are three letters… he only wrote two! The other was the final note written by his wife before her death. With this closure he is able to move on with his life and finish building a sailing boat that he designed for her. After seeing him complete the boat, Theresa tells him to call her when and if he feels ready to move on. Shortly thereafter he writes a final letter to his wife telling her he’s ready to move on with Theresa and heads out into a storm. Before turning back, though, he finds another boat in distress and tragically dies attempting to rescue the sailors. Theresa and everyone, including the viewer, are real sad because this is Sad Love by Nicholas Sparks. THE END.

Why?! Love… or more accurately getting over love. Both Theresa and Garrett are getting over lost loves in different ways. Theresa has recently divorced, while Garrett lost his wife. Now they kind of have to heal each other with the power of love. Unfortunately for them this is also a Nicholas Sparks novel so death is always right around the corner to snatch that sad love away.

Who?! There are a couple great little casting tidbits in this guy. First off there is a kinda nerdy looking dude that a friend of Theresa’s is like “yo, girl get on that accountant… he’s a real successful accountant or something,” and Theresa is like thanks but no thanks. That guy is the Director of Photography, Caleb Deschanel… yes, that Caleb Deschanel. The father of Zooey and Bones. Then the little girl that Garrett saves from the sinking boat at the end (before tragically dying) was played by a young Hayden Panettiere.

What?! This is a Budweiser film. Full Stop. Paul Newman plays Garrett’s father and he’s a recovering alcoholic who is allowed a beer a day. His beer of choice: Bud, of course. They are so delicious and refreshing that Garrett has to count them daily and pay the local kids to watch his father so he doesn’t slake his thirst a little too much.

Where?! North Carolina meet Chicago, cause we get some pretty sweet settings in this guy, particularly in the many sights and sounds of Chicago. Funny because the novel had Theresa based in Boston, which makes a little more sense in her finding the bottle, but I think I get why they made the change… it seems a bit odd in the book that Garrett seems totally unwilling to move to Massachusetts. It’s not that different from North Carolina given his passion in life is sailing. B+

When?!  I couldn’t really find a specific date for this one, although I think it runs similar to the book. She discovers the message in the bottle during the summer when her son is off with his father during summer break. Then she heads down to NC at the tail end of summer. After that it’s a couple months of distance dating before sometime in the winter he launches the boat. We know from his note that he launched “on the 25th.” I presume January as Theresa’s first article in the paper appears next to a couple articles from early January 1998… so it’s tenuous, but that’s where I place it. C-.

Saaad Love. I guess I appreciate the fact that the film didn’t pull the punch of the book and have Garrett live or something. But it is pretty rough stuff to have the whole book be like “isn’t love grand… until it’s shattered by death?” and then expect the reader to be like “but at least she loved, right?” I don’t know… still pretty sad. The book was fine and the film was fine. I guess I wish there was more to it than that. I thought Robin Wright was pretty good and charming, but Kevin Costner probably needed to give me a bit more than mumbling along and looking like he’s carved out of wood. Make me feel that Draft Day Jennifer Garner spark, Kevin Costner. Anyway, Nicholas Sparks was just starting out and didn’t yet have the clout to throw around his “yes, there is a ghost in Safe Haven and we’re keeping it in the film” weight. So pretty straight forward. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! He’s a message in a bottle baby, come on and let Kevin Costner out. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – The OG Sparks, it is a little stunning to realize that basically every Nicholas Sparks adaptation has gotten bad reviews besides The Notebook (and even that only got 53% on Rotten Tomatoes). We’ve seen his most recent for BMT already as well, The Choice. He seems to have slowed down with writing, he only wrote two novels since 2016. Can’t have bad adaptations if you don’t write novels I suppose, real 3D chess moves. What were my expectations? It is a bit weird, because prior to watching the trailer I legit thought the film was just about a lonely dude who threw bottles in the ocean. But it is about a broken dude who just needs that one special lady to mend his broken heart. Awwwwwww. I expected to weep uncontrollably in my living room.

The Good – I’ve seen quite a few Kevin Costner films over the past few months and years, both good and bad. And unlike something like Wyatt Earp (where his acting is almost a joke, especially as “young” Wyatt Earp), I feel like Message in a Bottle is directly in his wheelhouse. You can moan about the writing and ridiculous situations good actors are put into, but the actors themselves I think are doing their best with what they are given. The vistas are nice, always love a good Cape Cod / NC crossover, real Dawson’s Creek vibes. Best Bit: Setting.

The Bad – I can see why critics hated this film. It is a total waste of a decent story and some decent actors with situations and a plot which gives them nothing to really work with, and at worst (like in the end) launches itself into pure melodrama. I know they need to be like “I’m sad and forever broken, vague allegories about religion and forever love” because it is a Nicholas Sparks novel, but, again, I think the critics are mostly right in that the ending of the book and thus film let down what is otherwise a decent story. I will say that the “man’s man who never speaks and is so broken he lives with the ghost of his dead wife” doesn’t age well. The guy doesn’t need love, he needs a therapist and to actually work through his feelings instead of bottling them up (and throwing them in the ocean). Fatal Flaw: Poor ending.

The BMT – We’ll work through all the Nicholas Sparks novels, even if they are done one Based on a Book cycle at a time. There is also something about Kevin Costner here. Something magical about just how 90s his stardom was. You can watch him anchor a three hour epic in JFK and be completely lost in his character come to life, and then watch Wyatt Earp and be like “what the hell is he doing with his mouth … is he wearing fake teeth, what is happening?” Did it meet my expectations? Not really. I found Costner’s character so closed off and broken that I actually started to become concerned about his mental state. Surely this is just a changing mentality towards depression over the past 25 years, but still, it made it difficult to fully invest in the tragic love story which was so obviously being force fed to me. I didn’t shed a single tear. Now, that’s a tragedy.

Roast-radamus – Big Product Placement (What?) energy as both Costner and Newman guzzle Budweiser while giving each other haircuts and whatnot. That’s how you know Kevin Costner was made in America, he drinks all-American delicious Budweiser. Great Setting as a Character (Where?) for Chicago (where Robin Wright lives), Cape Cod (where she finds the bottle), and North Carolina (where every Nicholas Sparks book is contractually obligated to be set). At least part of this film is secretly during July 4, but nary a firework is to be seen. Disappointing. Closest to Good.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – This is an easy Netflix series. The first four episodes are from two different periods of time. Flashbacks to the two years prior and two years after Catherine’s death in North Carolina. And simultaneously the discovery of the first bottle, and then hunt for the other two bottles he sent out dealing with his love and loss of Catherine. Then the trip to North Carolina and a recap of that last year of his life mid-season. The final six episodes are then effectively the movie. The meet cute, dating in North Carolina, the trip to Chicago, one episode which is just the sex scene over and over in black and white (this is directed by David Lynch) … fine it is the big dramatic blow up about the story, the big dramatic finale, and then a closing episode wrapping things up. Boom, beautiful. Why aren’t there more Nicholas Sparks television shows? They seem really easy and cheap to make overall.

You Just Got Schooled – We are still working through the Hall of Fame. This week? Oooooooo Endless Luuuuuuuuuurv (the 2014 one, but of course I rewatched the 1981 one as well, get right on outta here!).

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

The Rite Recap

Jamie

Michael is a soon-to-be priest sent to Rome to study exorcism. He’s at a crossroads of his faith, but soon after starting to witness exorcisms under Father Lucas he begins to question his nonbelief in the devil. This comes to a head when he and Father Lucas are both confronted with possession. Can Michael stop the demon before it’s too late? Find out in… The Rite.

How?! Michael never really even wanted to be a priest. But it was either that or helping run his father’s funeral home, so celibacy it was. While he excels at the academics of the seminary, his profound skepticism about his own faith put him on the road to failure. But after witnessing Michael provide relief at the site of an accident, one of his teachers decides that maybe Michael is meant for something bigger. Enter exorcism school (note to self: write Exorcism School). He’s sent to Rome to study exorcism and due this skepticism is sent to study under Father Lucas. Suffice to say he starts to see some crazy shit, most pointedly in the exorcisms of a pregnant woman who seems to be in particular distress. One night, upon returning from an exorcism, they hear that the young woman is in the hospital and when they get there she is in the midst of a powerful possession. Later that night she and her baby die and Father Lucas is despondent. Michael, meanwhile, is dealing with his own tragedy as he gets word that his father has died. He attempts to head home but his travels are disrupted. Returning to Rome amidst a plethora of supernatural phenomena, Michael finds Father Lucas in full on DEFCON 1 level possession. Unable to get a hold of anyone else, Michael is forced to perform the exorcism himself and totally nails it because guess what: he does believe. And like Dumbo before him, the power was within himself the whole time. Hooray. THE END.

Why?! God. I thought about just leaving it at that, but I’ll elaborate. The whole film can be summed up in the overused quote: the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. It’s all about belief, brotha. Once you get past that point apparently Baal ain’t got shit on you.

Who?! Literally this is so boring that there aren’t even characters to be like “wow, isn’t that an interesting character.” The least they could have done is throw me a pope. The best I can come up with is the fact that the demon depicted here is specifically Baal. So if we ever want to do an angels and demons challenge then… I guess we can mark Baal off the list. Let’s see apparently he is the commander in chief of the armies of Hell and *puts on glasses* Grand Cross of the Order of the Fly. Well then.

What?! You’re probably thinking, “a ‘serious’ film about exorcism? There is no way we have a rock solid product placement… it’s not like they would have him walking the streets of Rome, fresh from seeing demonic possession, and have him espy a McD’s. A gleam would hit his eye as he remembers the fresh taste of a McCafe coffee, the taste of home. They couldn’t do that, right?… RIGHT?!” Wrong, actually. That’s exactly what happens.

Where?! I’m not sure where in America the first part of the film is supposed to take place. In the book it was California, but that certainly doesn’t seem to be the case here. Looked more like Jersey or Pennsylvania or something. Regardless, this film is a Rome/The Vatican film through and through. Not the first exorcism film we’ve seen in BMT where people fly to The Vatican to learn more about the process… it’s like the place is used as currency: you know things are for serious with exorcism because The Vatican teaches it… so it must be true. A-.

When?! Patrick noted in the quiz for the film that this has one of the craziest temporal settings we can remember. When Michael gets the news that his father has had a stroke and he attempts to get home, his plans are foiled by an eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland, which would place that point in the film on April 15th, 2010 when air travel was first disrupted. Now that in itself isn’t too crazy for a setting, but given the context of the film there is only one conclusion that the viewer can possibly make: some force made that volcano erupt so that he couldn’t get home. Maybe Baal wanted Michael to stick around so that he could also possess him… or maybe God was forcing Michael back to Rome to help Father Lucas. Either way we can rest assured that that volcanic eruption in 2010 was unnatural. The Rite told us so. B+.

I did not like watching this movie. It was boring. It just kinda meanders along with our main character being like “I just can’t believe it” even as a girl throws up black liquid that turns into nails and a horse looks at him with gleaming red eyes. Man… either you believe in this shit or you are going crazy. It’s one of the two. Somehow Anthony Hopkins, the same man who barely got out of bed to act in Bad Company, gave the liveliest performance in this one, particular at the end when he’s all crazy possessed. Gotta give him some props. But that’s about it. As for the book? Well, the less said about that the better. It’s a terrible book. Laughable even, as it reads more as making fun of those that believe in exorcisms than anything else. The main argument it makes in favor of exorcisms being real? More people want exorcisms now than ever so they must be real, right? Riiiight. Can’t believe I read that terrible book. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! This is at least the second BMT film where a priest is sent to the Vatican to attend their very new (and very cool) exorcism course … that’s crazy. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I didn’t really know this film existed prior to making the preview. I certainly don’t recognize the main actor in it … so that bodes well. I was getting strong The Devil Inside whiffs coming off of this. I’m pretty sure it has the same origin story: someone found out about the Vatican’s spiffy new exorcism class, yada yada yada, they wrote a screenplay. I think the only real hope is that it is actually secretly good, because Ebert liked it. What were my expectations? Please be good. It really is the only hope. Otherwise it is boring. There isn’t an in between here, either Ebert is right and it is good, or everyone else is right and it is boring. And I hate boring movies. Hot take, I know.

The Good – I think if you don’t view this film as a horror film, and especially if you don’t view this film as endorsing the reality of possession and exorcisms … then there is a kernel of something good here. It is a slow and methodical look at a man turning towards faith in the face of the horrific realization that possession is real. Cool idea I suppose. Hopkins is quite good in the film, and, as inevitable as the final twist is, the ending is a better possession/exorcism finale that you see most of the time. Best Bit: Hopkins.

The Bad – I think the movie is made with the explicit idea that the audience buy into possession and exorcisms. Is that how all exorcism movies operate? I don’t know. I liked The Exorcist a lot, and I don’t think you necessarily have to buy into the religious bits of the film to understand the horror of “my daughter is sick and science can’t explain it” which is at the core of that film. In The Exorcist there is a deep understanding that what is happening to Regan could just be a devastating mental illness. Here they get really close to getting to that point, with the main character indicating that the “possessed” individuals might just be mentally ill people faking it. But in the end it feels like the movie scoffs at it and leans too heavily into possession/exorcism/catholicism being really explicitly real and that people who don’t think so are just arrogant know-it-alls or something. Plus it is kind of boring and the lead actor is a whole lotta nothing. Fatal Flaw: Possessions are fake and the movie seems like maybe it doesn’t think so.

The BMT – I always love adding a film to a mini-genre. In this case exorcism focused horror films, or I suppose more broadly religious-themed horror films. This is actually maybe one of the better ones? It is hard to tell. We’ve watched some real stinkers and this one basically is just one wink and nod about all this probably being fake from me declaring it either not-that-bad or merely boring. That’s pretty good. Did it meet my expectations? I think so. I was far more intrigued by this film than I thought I would be. It is a bit boring, sure, but there are enough fresh ideas in there to make it one of the better bad religion-focused horror films we’ve watched.

Roast-radamus – A true classic Product Placement (What?) as the film is genuinely brought to you by McDonald’s and their delicious American style coffee. When you’re off learning exorcisms Italian stizzle, and you’re yearning for the taste of home, there’s nothing better on a chilly Roman night than a McCup of delicious McCoffee. Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba I’m lovin’ it. A solid Setting as a Character (Where?) for Rome, where all the big exorcism action is happening. And a Worst Twist (How?) for the inevitable possession of father Trevant at the end of the film. Probably closest to Good.

Prequel, Sequel, Remake – Prequel. Michael mentions that his entire family have been morticians and priests. Well, this is truer than he ever knew! Flashback, Michael’s grandfather in World War II, naive with innocent blue eyes shining, enters the military as a chaplain. When a strange blue eyed charm starts being found at the scene of gruesome massacres, though, the American military sends Michael’s grandfather out to investigate. Ultimately, he discovers a plot by a cabal of eeeeeeevil satan worshipping priests to possess soldiers with demons to create super soldiers for the Nazis. Along the way Michael’s grandfather picks up a precocious Welsh boy sidekick (you guessed it! It’s Lucas Trevant!!) and they take down the cabal before they can possess Hitler with Satan himself. Ba ba baaaaaaa! Years later, Michael’s grandfather is killed during an exorcism, leaving behind a son, Istvan, who vows never to dabble in the exorcism rites. Smash cut to Michael entering Rome from the first film. Kovak Origins: The Rite 2. The subsequent sequel would then serve to dig further into the blue eyed charm and the (still surviving) cabal behind it, and the destiny of the blue eyed exorcists that Michael descends from.

You Just Got Schooled – Check out the Legend of Hercules Hall of Fame speech. I got that together this week in lieu of expanding my exorcism knowledge via a good exorcism movie.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Solo (1996) Recap

Jamie

Solo is just a robot who feels a little too much. So when his program prevents him from killing civilians as collateral damage, the US military tanks the project. But Solo escapes and makes his home in a peaceful village that needs his help. Can he protect the village and evade capture by the US before it’s too late? Find out in… Solo.

How?! Solo is the ultimate fighting machine… except for the whole part where his advanced AI system has taught itself to care about human life. ‘Dang,’ thinks the US military, ‘we can’t have this weapon caring about humans,’ so they scrap the project and set Solo up for a memory wipe. Sensing that this is the equivalent to a death sentence for him, Solo decides to escape and heads deep into the jungles of [insert anonymous Central American country]. There he finds a peaceful village who helps him get back up and running. The village is constantly terrorized by some anonymous rebels and Solo helps them learn how to defend themselves. This involves mostly montages and laughing. They successfully drive the rebels off, but this gets interest from the military. They send in an eeeevil black ops group who teams up with the rebels to overtake the village and hold Solo’s friends hostage. Returning to the village, Solo basically owns everyone cause he is a killer robot and is way faster and stronger. I mean, come on. He’s got robot muscles and junk… it’s really no competition. That is until the military drops in a new, advanced black ops killer robot and Solo is like ‘oh, shit.’ They do battle in an ancient temple where it looks like the bigger, badder robot is going to win, but they forgot one thing: love. Solo is able to use the uniquely human skills he learned from the villagers (like bluffing) to fool the eeevil android and kill him. Everyone assumes both robots died, but not so fast… methinks Solo may be out there somewhere laughing his robot ass off and loving life. THE END.

Why?! Why indeed. Solo just wants to live and to figure out what living means for him. In the book there is a lot of concern that he’ll end up basically being Skynet once he figures out that all the ills of the Earth are caused by humans so that’s why there is so much urgency to get out and kill him. It’s hinted that Solo loves amnimals and the implication is that if left to his own devices it’s actually more likely he would just become the greatest zoologist of all time because that’s his passion… which is kind of nice… until he figures out that humans are killing all the amnimals.

Who?! Probably the best aspect of the film is that the super duper badass robot they bring in after Solo kills William Sadler’s eeevil black ops character is a… William Sadler robot. First of all, not the most intimidating model of your killer robot. Second, is that a dual role I smell? Not too many films I can think of off the top of my head where someone has a dual role: one human, one robot. Nice.

What?! Is Solo a MacGuffin. That’s the question I have to ask… literally because I can’t think of anything else to do for this section. I mean, he’s an object of incredible power that everyone wants to get their hands on and his capture is central to the plot. That sure sounds like a Solo MacGuffin to me.

Where?! The book is very explicitly set in Nicaragua, but that is not made clear here. It’s definitely Mesoamerica given the spanish speaking population and the ball game that is shown being played, but given that by 1996 it no longer made sense for it to involve the Contras it seemed like they just left it ambiguous. D  

When?! Just like the location, it seems like when this is set is just an ambiguous present. The world is almost like a cartoon… there isn’t much in the way of reality to hang onto. Would have loved for them to give us a Mesoamerican specific holiday to really spice this part up. Alas. F.

Solo is based on a book called Weapon. The film follows the plot pretty closely, although the book goes much more in depth on the philosophy of what an AI machine like Solo might do when confronted with the ethical questions of war and is more of the time, being set during the  American anti-communist efforts using the Contras in Nicaragua. It started off pretty badly, but I rather enjoyed it by the end. Not a half bad beach read if you’re looking for a little techno-action. They really dumbed it down when it came to this (should have been straight-to-video) schlock. 1996 must have really been peak action if this managed to make it into theaters. You can tell a little by Seagal and JCVD. Just a mere two years later and they were in the straight-to-video realm after both releasing two (!) films in 1996. The script is bad, everything looks cheap, and they even whip out a crazy nonsense ending involving a robot William Sadler. At that point it seemed like even the director gave up. At least we had some explosions and the main character was a robot so there wasn’t an unnecessary love interest… although that would have been hilarious and great. In fact, I count that against the film. Patrick?  

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! When you think of action star, you think Mario Van Peebles. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – The thing that really stands out for Solo is that the poster absolutely looks awful. Like, comically bad. Other than that I welcome the return of Mario Van Peebles who we last saw in Highlander: The Final Dimension I think. So yeah … he isn’t a great actor, or at least he was in some wild films in the mid-90s. The film seems like a borderline straight-to-DVD knockoff of Terminator 2. That has to be fun … right? What were my expectations? Basically a straight-to-video film from the mid-90s. Which can definitely be fun, especially with someone like Mario Van Peebles in the lead. But there is an outside shot it is just boring.

The Good – This is the type of straight-to-video film I would dig watching as a BMT Friend. Big robot arm guns, ripping off the plot of Seven Samurai, poorly directed action. Like, yeah, sign me up. Feels a bit like Sudden Death with Van Damme in that regard. There is probably a kind of worthwhile message about the US military-industrial complex hidden in there (as with so many films of the 90s). And the film can be funny at times. Best Bit: Light 90s action.

The Bad – Some reviews suggest Van Peebles is okay, but I really don’t get it. He’s acting like a robot, sure, but it feels like either a play off of Arnold in The Terminator without being an enormous bodybuilder, or just a “beep boop I am a robot” schtick from a cable movie. The storyline is generic and boring, and the twists at the end are obvious. The acting (including Adrian Brody) is awful as well. It is hard to point at a single thing (the explosions maybe?) and say it was done well. This film feels like a straight-to-video film because that is what it is. They just accidentally released it to theaters for some reason. Fatal Flaw: Looks like garbage.

The BMT – In some small way this is exactly what BMT is meant to do, find those forgotten films, resurrect them, and mine them for BMT gold. There is no gold in these hills. I have no interest in watching this film again. I have no interest in recommending this film to anyone. Even trying to search for a related bad movie for the You Just Got Schooled section was basically impossible, the only possible analogues are garbage like Runaway starring Tom Selleck. Did it meet my expectations? No, sadly. Most straight-to-video films from the 90s are amusingly entertaining in some small way. There is nothing here. As I feared, the film is merely boring. Pass.

Roast-radamus – Very very borderline Setting as a Character (Where?) for … Central America I guess? There are definitely some Mayan ruins in the film. It isn’t a great setting, but it is a character. It does have a pretty great Worst Twist (How?) for the eeeevil colonel not being the final boss after all, instead a robot version of him with a gun arm is! That’s fun. The film is a BMT I think, just because of Peeble’s bizarre performance and the improbable elevative of the film above its seemingly inevitable straight-to-video quality.

Sequel, Prequel, Streaming – So after the original’s origin story for Solo I think the sequel needs to get serious. And what could be more serious in these trying times than a hard boiled Washington political drama? Solo is elected as a Senator representing Florida (which is where he settled due to his snake wrangling abilities). Our robot friend is trying to revamp a flagging VA office, but gets wrapped up in a scandal when his field reports are leaked to the press. Can Solo navigate the minefield that is modern political discourse to figure out who is trying to take him down? Find out in Solo Goes the Washington. Twist ending, the President is a robot, the ultimate military weapon: a robotic Commander in Chief, which sets up the finale to the trilogy, President Solo.

You Just Got Schooled – There wasn’t anything that popped out to me that seemed like a good Schooled movie this week. With Hall of Fame inductions coming up I think I’ll start skipping it in lieu of watching some of those during the week.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs