Godzilla (1998) Recap

Jamie

Godzilla is back, Jack! And boy is he… something. When a series of disasters are tracked to a nuclear-mutated giant lizard a military/scientific team follow it to NYC where it has gone to lay its eggs. Will they be able stop Godzilla (and perhaps get the girl (and perhaps advance their journalistic ambitions)) before it’s too late? Find out in… Godzilla.

How?! A giant lizard is on the loose, a product of nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific, and as they track it across the globe they recruit a nuclear scientist/biologist expert, Nick, to figure out what’s going on. When the lizard, called Godzilla, shows up in NYC and starts to wreak havoc, Nick figures out that it’s using the island as a nest to hide its eggs until they can hatch. Meanwhile his ex-girlfriend, Audrey, is an aspiring journalist who uses her connection to Nick to get the big Godzilla egg scoop. Unfortunately she ruins everything because this leak gets Nick kicked off the team, his theory discounted, and she doesn’t even get credit for the story. Damn… because I was really invested in this aspiring journalist storyline you spent 45 minutes on. Anyway, Nick isn’t ready to give up and teams up with some French special forces to infiltrate the city and find the eggs. Audrey also isn’t ready to give up (hmmm, seems like they have a lot in common… particularly regarding giving up and whether they are ready to do something like that) and follows Nick into the city. There they find that Godzilla has laid his eggs in none other than Madison Square Garden. Ready to blow that place to smithereens and eviscerate a species they are just a second too late and the eggs hatch into a million velocirap… I mean, baby Godzillas. Using Audrey’s journalistic skillz they broadcast from the announcing booth and alert the army to what needs to be done: blow up an NYC landmark (eeesh, how very 90’s). Managing to escape just in time, the army blows all those baby animals apart, but are surprised to find an enraged Godzilla emerge from under the city and start a rampage. Acting the hero again, Nick and his team lure Godzilla to the Brooklyn Bridge where it becomes entangled and is finally subdued. THE END… or is it? (it is).

Why?! I actually enjoyed the motivations for Godzilla. While I remember it kinda being made fun of at the time I actually think the idea that this large lizard just chilled for a while eating fish in the pacific until it was time to lay eggs at which point it found a nest in a city because the buildings allowed it to hide is kinda cool. I don’t really understand the whole “asexual reproduction” thing they came up with… seems a little Jurassic Park and unnecessary. I would have preferred for the male Godzilla to show up and be a garbage shrimpy lizard that the female Godzilla immediately eats or something… but I digress. The motivations for the human characters though are trash. Audrey is a one-dimensional, poorly written character that wants to be a journalist and that basically motivates everything she does and Nick is supposed to be a former hippy dippy nuclear activist turned scientist that then mostly just wants to destroy Godzilla off the face of the Earth. Just very strange.

Who?! Dedicated to the memory of Tomoyuki Tanaka, the long time producer of the Godzilla franchise who died from a stroke the year before this film. Additionally, while we always note Presidents and the such, I do think that city mayors are probably fairly common in their own right, particularly of NYC. This had Mayor Ebert, named after critic Roger Ebert as a dig by the director. Nice one, Roland.

What?! The product placement comes at you in this film fast and furious. Broderick is glancing at his swatch, the French secret service are holed up in their UPS van, Godzilla attacks a ship full of delicious Bumblebee tuna, etc. But my favorite is a joke where Broderick buys a Kodak disposable camera (like the type used by a stereotypical NYC tourist) to take pictures of Godzilla… right before that stereotype went out the window and completely dates the film.

Where?! This is as perfect an A as you can get. Doesn’t reach A+ because they didn’t go with the Godzilla Attacks New York title, but Manhattan is pretty much a starring character as the buildings are described as the perfect Godzilla habitat. Add on top that Godzilla uses iconic MSG as a nest and they have to blow it up (that wouldn’t fly past-2001) and you got gold.

When?! This was obscure for sure. The only thing I really saw that would potentially help with this was a poster on a wall in NYC for a concert in the beginning of March… but like those posters probably go up well before the concert and stay up for long after so not great. I bet it’s discoverable considering how much NYC shit was visible while Godzilla was rampaging about, but it would take a full reviewing of the film and that ain’t happening. F.

This movie is not good and it’s interesting that you can find articles written claiming that it’s not as bad as people remember. Sure I think the basic premise is actually pretty good but it stop at that point. The film looks bad, is about 50 minutes too long, and they spent most of the filler time between Godzilla sightings rehashing the professional motivations for the characters. Are we supposed to care that Audrey wants to be a journalist but feels like she can’t make it in a male-driven world. A Godzilla monster is attacking! Why not just make her a successful and ambitious journalist and be done with it? Seemed like a big disservice to Maria Pitillo who took a lot of heat and ended up being the only actor to get a Razzie nomination (and she won). It’s not her fault really. I think she plays the character well, it’s just that the character is trash. I think this stands as a nice part of 1997-9 trilogy with Batman & Robin and Wild Wild West. Wild Wild West is crazy and fun, this is drab and bad, and Batman & Robin is BMT. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Ah, remember simpler times. Bill Clinton is in the process of being impeached. The dot com boom is a chugging with no (discernible …) end in sight. And the US was swept by Godzilla-mania! Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – When Patrick was a young child he had a terrible affliction. That affliction? Godzilla-mania. Or at least I remember when this film came out, I remember the secrecy surrounding what Godzilla looked like, and I distinctly remember thinking it looked dumb when it was finally leaked. Very specifically I didn’t really get why it didn’t look like Godzilla. This rewatch was a long time coming.

The Good – The main actors are all fine given what they are given to do. It was an interesting premise: the idea of Godzilla just being a new species (focused less on the consequences of nuclear proliferation) and very specifically an animal, and using a biologist angle to figure out how to deal with it. The CGI is not good, but it certainly was big, and that’s something. The first half hour is that of a genuinely good film, I was supremely entertained by the first half hour.

The Bad – The next one and a half hours? Woof. I feel bad for Maria Pitillo who was fine, but got a load of shit for this film because whoever wrote it seemed to just have “Audrey looks confused” written into every scene. The side romance story ropes in a strange journalist plot that makes NYC seem rather small. The entire Madison Square Garden plot down to them blowing the building up is something that could have only happened in 1998 very specifically. Oh yeah, and who could forget what genuinely might be the worst song ever created. My god, my ears! P Diddy why?!

The BMT – Yeah, of course. It might actually be the quintessential big-budget creature feature for BMT. Most creature features are terrible, but they are also mostly low-budget and get away with it (sometimes coasting on irony alone), or they are like the fifth sequel to an originally good feature. This is a pretty rare misfire right out of the gate. And for a remake of a beloved franchise no less.

Roast-radamus – Hmmmmmm, it could sneak in for Where (Setting as a Character) for sure for New York City. And there is an outside shot it will age like a fine wine and it’ll get a nod for BMT in general. Otherwise I can’t think of an in your face product placement. I would love to say How (Worst Twist) for the baby egg hatching at the end, but I don’t really think that was a twist. More of a sequel set up. And I think Godzilla laying eggs in Madison Square Garden isn’t a notable terrible twist either.

StreetCreditReport.com – It occasionally gets onto lists of worst remakes (well deserved I think). Additionally MovieFone and Siskel and Ebert put it on their worst of lists of 1998. It has serious cred for the late 90s, although a bit of it is washed out by how bad Armageddon was received that same year. That is one I find mentioned more these days, although partially out of a kind of cult love for its jingoistic cheesiness.

You Just Got Schooled – One more bad film watched, one more animated series to sample. Godzilla (1998) indeed had a sequel in the form of Godzilla: The Series. Opening exactly where the film left off our heroes (plus a few new friends) discover the egg teased at the end of the first film which promptly imprints on Nick and escapes to New York Harbor. Quickly growing in size and displaying intelligence, loyalty, and an oh-so-important sterility, Godzilla 2.0 is chased around by the military until the gang finds a new monster in Jamaica. After Godzilla battles and defeats the beast everyone realizes that Godzilla could be the only thing standing between humanity an apocalypse at the hands of other mutated monsters. Godzilla … The Series! Honestly for a late 90s cartoon it actually was pretty good I thought. They still gave Audrey nothing to do, which would have been funny if it weren’t so sad. I would say A for adaptation because I genuinely think this was the vision for the sequel. For actual cartoon maybe a B? I would give it higher, but I don’t think people will go back and be like “this is great!” like they’ve done with Gargoyles. But this is serviceable.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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Beverly Hills Cop III Recap

Jamie

Axel Foley is back, Jack! And he’s ready to take down the bastards who killed his cranky, but beloved, boss. Tracking them back to Beverly Hills and a nearby amusement park, Axel pulls out all the stops to stop these baddies in their tracks. Can he solve the crime (and maybe get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… Beverly Hills Cop III.

How?! When a bust on a minor chop shop goes horribly awry resulting in the death of his boss, our boy Axel Foley will hold nothing back in finding (and probably killing) those responsible. It comes as no surprise that these killers are based in sunny California and so Axel heads back to his old digs in Beverly Hills. Teaming up with his pal Rosewood they start to investigate the private security firm operated by a local amusement park. Despite acting super shady and seeming like real assholes, the bad guys are able to head off Axel’s investigations though their connections to the police and the community. However, Axel knows he’s on the right track when the owner of the amusement park himself approaches him and lets him know that the security people are real shady (duh). After some dead ends, some “you better stop what you’re doing” by the Secret Service, and some more snooping, Axel is able to find that the security guys are running a sophisticated counterfeiting operation. Unable to convince the Secret Service of the plan he meets back up with the owner of the amusement park to get some evidence but they get ambushed and the owner is seriously injured. Axel now knows that he needs a final climactic confrontation to blow the case open. He goes to the amusement park and they ride on a bunch of rides and shit and everyone shoots at each other and gets shot. Finally Axel is able to kill the man who killed his boss. Approached by the Secret Service agent in charge Axel (out of nowhere) realizes that he was involved and shoots him too (what a twist!). Gravely injured, both he and Rosewood laugh and laugh whilst remembering all the people they murdered together over the years. THE END.

Why?! Every Beverly Hills Cop film is a film of revenge for the shooting of someone close to Axel. The first was Axel’s neerdowell childhood friend, the second was the Lieutenant of the Beverly Hills Police, and now it’s his boss in the Detroit PD. They also all have unnecessarily convoluted conspiracy style schemes by the bad guys. This time the bad guys were at the chop shop in Detroit to pick up the US mint level paper they needed for the counterfeiting operation. They shielded the operation behind the production of Wonder World Bucks, a new amusement park specific currency. Now why Wonder World would use their private security team to also produce the new currency in-house is something you’d have to ask the owner… seems expensive to buy all the high tech machinery needed to build the operation from the ground up.

Who?! There are a bunch of cameos in this including some prominent directors in bit parts, the singer Al Green as a minister, and most strangely George Lucas as a patron of the amusement park. Those didn’t really interest me as much as Joey Travolta showing up as Giolito, one of Axel’s coworkers in the DPD.

What?! Nothing major in this category, although should point out that the original Beverly Hills Cop film is notable as one of the later examples of a cigarette company (Lucky Strike) paying for product placement in a film geared to young people. It was brought up in several books and congressional hearings and shit. For this film I’ll just do what I’ve enjoyed doing recently, which is looking for signature props for sale. Anyone want an apparently authentic Wonder World Buck? $30… yeah, I don’t want that. Now, the Eddie Murphy version? That’s more interesting and thus more expensive.

Where?! A+ Setting, baby. This one is probably not as Beverly Hills as the previous installments of the franchise. The first one in particular plays with fancy hotels and art galleries and gated houses. This one is more of an LA picture than anything else. So even disappointing in this regard.

When?! In a funny quirk we are provided with an intertitle exactly once in order to inform us that it’s “Tuesday 1:37 am”… and? It’s not even like there is much of a countdown clock to some important event occurring on Friday. Entirely useless. Thanks. C- but only because it did give an intertitle, which is something.

Rewatching the first film in preparation made me appreciate just how good and funny that first one is. Really very, very rewatchable. The second stumbles in taking the characters to some extremes that make them all intensely unlikeable. But it’s really nothing compared to this one where almost nothing works and the plot seems like it’s from a rejected Van Damme script or something. “Beverly Hills Cop in an amusement park” should have stopped this in its tracks cause that sounds terrible. And indeed this film is terrible. Like really boring and really flat and just kind of hitting the beats that they felt like they needed to make a Beverly Hills Cop film. They even brought back minor character Serge from the first film for a couple comedic relief scenes that seem to drag on forever. I can see how this finished the franchise for good. Hard to come back from. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Beverly Hills Cop III was rejected for consideration on the worst film of all time wikipedia page, but that doesn’t mean I can’t completely hate it. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I love Beverly Hills Cop. I hated Beverly Hills Cop II. So I didn’t hold out much hope for the third film to be honest. The fact that it was set in an amusement park was intriguing though. One of at least two films we’ll watch with such a setting (the other being, obviously, 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain starring Hulk Hogan).

The Good – There are brief flashes of classic Eddie Murphy comedy in this film. The amusement park setting is actually pretty fun, as long as you buy into the secret tunnel Disneyland conspiracy aspect of the whole thing. I like Judge Reinhold, what can I say?

The Bad – Light on the comedy unfortunately, it has a lot of flatness between the gags. The gags mostly don’t work as well, feeling much more over the top than the actually-quite-serious original. The beach scene in particular is just goofy. Serge is completely out of place and misused as a weirdo arms dealer. They should have just went back to the art gallery and had him now be the owner, otherwise it feels like they were trying to punch up a boring movie. Just no laughs, which really is exactly what a bad comedy is I guess.

The BMT – Probably a classic third+ installment of a comedy franchise. Pairs up well with Another 48 hrs., and eventually things like the Police Academy sequels. You have to collect Eddie Murphy films like pogs if you are going to watch bad movies, so if anything the film was an inevitable watch.

Roast-radamus – Some maybe solid ones here. It is a solid contender for Where (A+ Setting) because it is set in Beverly Hills and boasts a very impressive amusement park setting. The film is chockablock with celebrity cameos including an incredibly long take of George Lucas at the amusement park, so a Who (Cameo) could work. Judge Reinhold is arguably a Planchet although perhaps a bit too competent by the third film for that to work. The film is arguably a candidate for How (Worst Twist) as well with about fourteen different cops ending up as part of the conspiracy in the end just to keep Axel Foley reeling. That … is a very 90s comedy sequel list of things to be, impressive.

StreetCreditReport.com – It is widely considered one of the worst sequels of all time. This list puts it at number 2. Beyond that it is also up there as one of Eddie Murphy’s worst. And as I said, you just have to collect these things like pogs. It has the cred.

You Just Got Schooled – This article is more to do with Ronny Cox from the first and second Beverly Hills Cop, but don’t worry, he still gets in a dig at Beverly Hills Cop III. The article is pretty great to be honest, with probably the most interesting bit being about inevitable BMT film Captain America (1990). He says the script is brilliant! It is hard to believe, but why would Ronny Cox lie to me man?

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

 

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation Recap

Jamie

Mortal Kombat is back, Jack! The Emperor of Outworld, Shao Kahn, decides that Mortal Kombat is dumb and decides to merge Outworld and Earthrealm together anyway. Our heroes are like “but rulez=coolz, bro” and fight against this bullshit. Can they stop Shao and save Earth before it’s too late? Find out in… Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.

How?! After returning victorious from the last film our heroes Liu Kang, Sonya Blade, Johnny Cage, Raiden, and Kitana are high fiving a whole bunch and having a pretty rad time. Suddenly the Emperor of Outworld, Shao Kahn, is like “whatever, I’m not a loser, you guys are losers,” and starts to merge Outworld and Earthrealm together anyway. Everyone is like, “WTF, mate. What about the roolz?” and Shao Kahn flips all over the place and kills Johnny Cage and everyone has to flee. Raiden splits everyone up so that they can figure out how to stop the realms from merging. Sonya heads off to get her friend Jax, who turns out to have gotten metal arms because of confidence issues (?). Together they fight and defeat Cyrax and Mileena (obviously) and some truly dire CGI monsters. Meanwhile Liu and Kitana are sent to find Nightwolf and learn his secrets. On the way Kitana is captured by Scorpion and taken prisoner. Knowing that Nightwolf is a major character that will play a major role in the film Liu continues on and learns from him that he needs to tap into his inner Animality. While trying to pass a series of ill-defined tests in order to do so he meets Jade who seems like a bad guy but is apparently a good guy (wink). Finally, Raiden meets up with the Elder Gods and is like “rules?” and they are like “whatever. Deal with it.” All back together at the Elder God temple they get attacked by Kitana’s mom and jump over to Outworld. Believing that they have to bring Kitana and her mom back together Liu goes off and rescues her while the rest subdue Kitana. This turns out to be a trick as it’s revealed that Jade is a bad guy (what a twist!) and this plan was doomed to failure. They decide to just finish it and head off to battle Shao Kahn and his toadies. Once there they square off and show that they really believe in themselves and can tap into their Animality and don’t need metal arms and shit. Victorious they return to Earth and smooch each other. God this was dumb. THE END.

Why?! It’s funny because as Patrick mentions this very much fits the definition of a MacGuffin plot… just without the MacGuffin itself. Like they have to stop Outworld from merging with Earthrealm, it is the crux and motivation for the entire plot, and they proceed to start trying to do that by… something, something, something don’t worry about it. I should also mention that this is a nice classic Dumbo’s Feather as the key to Jax winning his fight in the film is to just believe in himself, bro. Just go get it.

Who?! Always like a very minor athlete-turned-actor as Lynn “Red” Williams, who played Jax in this film, was also a star running back for Kansas in the mid-80’s and drafted in the sixth round of the NFL draft. He never was able to make it though and retired after breaking his back in the offseason and nearly getting paralyzed. He then answered an open casting call for American Gladiators and was Sabre on that for a number of seasons.

What?! I’m really disappointed in this franchise for the lack of any and all Coke products. I want them slamming Mountain Dew and getting X-treme on some Outworld ass. Not just being a product placement in and of itself. Sigh. I guess I’ll just point out that you at one point could buy a Mortal Kombat: Annihilation crew denim jacket in an online auction. Final bid? 30 pounds. A steal and quite the missed opportunity. Sigh.

Where?! Technically this takes place in a whole bunch of places since Outworld and Earthrealm are merging so the final climactic fight takes place near the Eiffel Tower. Is this then set in France. No way. Just Outworld for a large portion and then China, Hawaii, Jordan, etc. for the rest. Gotta once again go with a N/A for the fictional location that dominated the setting.

When?! Thank Elder Gods I did the heavy lifting in the original Mortal Kombat. In that film I came to the conclusion that it was likely set in August, 1994 sometime (I think). Since this film immediately follows that film then this is obviously a period piece set in the far past of 1994. I would of course have to confirm this, but choose to believe it for the moment. D- as it’s not at all clear from the film itself.

My god… what hath thou wrought? This somehow looks even worse than the previous film minus the humor and 5000x times harder to follow. Straight up convoluted mess. I stopped really knowing why things were happening halfway through because they just were and I just was… watching a movie that was a giant pile of dog poo. As happens quite often in BMT a film that is generally regarded as one of the worst of all time (or near enough to get rejected from that list) turns out to be quite bad. What a twist! Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! This week I actually got terribly ill and couldn’t watch the film for BMT. During my fever I feel like I hallucinated some nonsense with James Remar and the guy who played Night Slasher in Cobra … wait, that was the actual movie?! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – As brought to you by a director who has exclusively directed terrible films (Annabelle and Butterfly Effect 2 are his two others), and about 17 writers, two of which were involved with the catastrophic venture of Foodfight! These are the guys who are supposed to take over your martial arts video game film? Cool cool cool cool cool. This was destined to be a catastrophe, like Super Mario Bros. before it.

The Good – Uh. I like the guy who played Night Slasher in Cobra in general? Some of the set pieces, while looking like garbage, were kind of fun, the collapsing ice bridge comes to mind.

The Bad – Literally everything. I know I sometimes say that about movies … but in this case there is no hyperbole. The film is incomprehensible. Completely impossible to understand. The martial arts action looks like crap, the CGI looks like crap, and top to bottom the acting is crap. The film is, quite literally, one of the worst things I’ve ever seen. It is genuinely stunning that it was released to theaters. This should have been shoved directly to video so hard that Blockbuster’s quarterly profits would be 95% people mistakenly renting Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. This film is crazy. It makes you go crazy.

The BMT – And obvious emphatic yes! This, I think, has one of the strongest cases for not only most BMT film of the year this year, but also possibly for a Hall of Fame spot in years. The fact that we’ve now watched Universal Soldier: The Return, Highlander: The Final Dimension, Escape Plan 2: Hades, and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (that’s a whole lotta colons!) four weeks in a row … it is a testament to any sequel/franchise cycle I think. We should have done this ages ago! Looking forward to our planned cycles of the year I’m not joking when I say this could be the best year in BMT history, just from a classic bad movie perspective.

Roast-radamus – Looking ahead to the Smaddies Baddies it is interesting that the film doesn’t really have any of the things we award in the 6Ws. Maybe you could argue it is a kind of MacGuffin (Why?) because there is this very vague idea of trying to combine Kitana with her mother (whatever that means) to close the portals. But it is a stretch. It certainly will have a very strong case for The BMT award, which I suppose it good enough for me.

StreetCreditReport.com – The lists are somewhat hard to come by, but The Rifftrax guys did a list a while back which put it at 13th worst of the 90s. This video games list has a bit too much recency bias, but still manages 8th worst there which is impressive. I think it should be higher up, but for whatever reason the credible lists all got lost to time in the mid-90s.

You Just Got Schooled – Back in 2010 a short film came out called Mortal Kombat: Rebirth. Produced by Kevin Tancharoen it was meant as a launchpad for a movie reboot. But Midway Games wasn’t having it. Instead it became a web series. As an adaption the short film is problematic. It completely dumps the Outworld angle, makes most mystical things practical, and kills Johnny Cage. In other words it is exactly the type of gritty reboot the world was looking for a year after The Dark Knight. Tancharoen is mostly a choreographer, and that was what seemed to be on offer: solid fight scenes so darkly lit that you could produce them for basically nothing. I remember being intrigued at the time, but not surprised producers didn’t go for it because it diverged from the story too much. F as an adaptation, but a solid B+ for execution and as a short film. Funny enough I watched the Scorpion / Sub-Zero episode of Mortal Kombat: Legacy and lo and behold, all of the Netherworld / Outworld mysticism is back and so is the tournament … maybe that should have been in Rebirth then. The web series does seem cool though.

Phew. There you have it. Straight up amazing garbage. Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Mortal Kombat Recap

Jamie

MORTAL KOMBAT! Our heroes, Liu Kang, Sonya Blade, and Johnny Cage hold the key to Earthrealm’s victory over Outworld in the ultimate tournament of champions. Can they beat Outworld and prevent the conquering of Earth (and maybe get a girl), before it’s too late? Find out in… Mortal Kombat.

How?! Liu Kang, Sonya Blade, and Johnny Cage all have reasons to fight. These reasons are exploited to get them embroiled in a fighting tournament that will decide the fate of Earth. That’s because Shang Tsung and his Outworld warriors have assembled in an attempt to beat Earthrealm for the 10th time in a row. If they succeed then Earth will be taken over by Outworld and let me tell you… it won’t be pretty. At the tournament Raiden, the God of Thunder and protector of Earth, tries to teach our crew the necessary lessons that will help them succeed. Unfortunately Sonya is too hell bent on revenge, Johnny too obsessed with proving himself, and Liu Kang too focused on fighting Shang Tsung himself that it all seems lost. It’s only when they realize the true reason to fight (the fate of Earth and that’s some pretty serious stuff) that they can live up to their destiny. Johnny challenges Goro, a monster fighter with all kinds of muscles and arms and shit, and is able to beat him, but Shang Tsung seizes on the agreement on the fight to challenge Sonya and take her to Outworld as his captive. Hoping to have her forfeit the fight and thus lose the tournament he is sorely disappointed when our boy Liu shows up and is like “I challenge you, man” and they karate chop each other a whole bunch until Shang is thrown onto some spikes. Our best friends return to Earth victors and are like “nothing bad will happen now.” But then the sky opens up and a terrible voice is heard declaring the premise for a sequel, which is that the entire movie you watched didn’t matter at all. THE END.

Why?! Very clear motivations all around here. Shang Tsung wants to take over Earth because it’s got all this vibrant life and he wants to squeeze it dry. Raiden just wants to help Earth defend itself. Liu Kang wants revenge for his brother, Sonya Blade wants revenge for her dead partner, and Johnny Cage wants to prove to everyone that he ain’t no showbiz fake but a true martial arts master.

Who?! Surprisingly boring in this regard. Not a whole bunch of the typical tropes we look for in this category are found in this film. The best we got was a cameo by video game creator Ed Boon who got a credit as the voice of Scorpion in the film (as he is also credited in the video games). Technically speaking he is the longest running voice artist in video game history having voiced Scorpion in every iteration of the game.

What?! All kinds of gobbledegook in this film from Earthrealm to Outworld to the Shokan prince Goro. Unfortunately they are aren’t fighting for the Staff of Taijin or something, just the fate of the world. Boring. It is more or less a product in and of itself, since it’s an adaptation of a video game (and one of the most successful product placement films of all time).

Where?! We get a few scenes in Hong Kong and in China (presumably, given that Liu Kang is from a Shaolin Monastery). The film is primarily set in Shang Tsung’s island, though. Found between Earthrealm and Outworld, the island falls staunchly in the “other” category of settings. While specific, I have to give it a N/A as it is fake.

When?! This was a hard one, but very important for the sake of the series. The second film picks up right where the first left off so if we could nail this down here then we are gold for that one too. It’s hard, though, since the series exists outside of space and time for the most part. The best clue we have is a “Johnny Cage A Fake” issue of the Examiner which seems to have been released in the first week of August, 1994. The person reading it implies that this is probably somewhat recent so it’s not bad guess. Hard to read though and a little shaky. C+.

I actually was surprised at how much I didn’t mind large parts of this film. One of those silly tournament films that basically write themselves, but it also has some humor and a gigantic animatronic Goro monster that is impressive and interesting to look at. However, the computer graphics are a complete mess and why I can’t really say this is not that bad. It took some balls to do, but they are objectively terrible and the scenes where they are used (and there are a lot of them) are actually hard to watch.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Da-da da-da da-da da-da-da-da, da-da da-da da-da da-da-da-da, da-da da-da da-da da-da-da-da, da da da da da! MORTAL KOMBAT! Video game films are universally terrible … welp, there it is. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – So I don’t think I saw this in theaters, but I certainly saw it when I was a young boy. I did not remember that Christopher Lambert was in it, and it is pretty crazy this was a very early Paul W. S. Anderson film. Other than that this was really about watching what was (kind of sadly) the best reviewed video game film until Angry Birds in 2016 …

The Good – The matte paintings, Goro’s animatronics, some of the fighting action all are exactly what you want from the film. It somehow is, as the critics said, appropriately cheesy in that regard. Our three main actors’ banter and companionship were believable and fun. Lambert is somewhat amusing as well. The tournament structure lends itself to a pretty interesting mystery story that is extremely easy to follow.

The Bad – The CGI. Woof. This is actually pretty close to A Sound of Thunder (except, you know … a decade earlier). Reptile and Scorpion’s hook/chain things look just awful. So awful in fact that it probably makes Goro look better in comparison. The ending is pretty rough as well, they should have let the story breathe with the happy ending instead of immediately jumping into Mortal Kombat II.

The BMT – No, this isn’t BMT. This should have, in reality, gotten maybe like a 50% on Rotten Tomatoes, maybe a bit higher. I don’t think it is quite into “it’s not that bad” territory because of the CGI, but if they had skipped that I would have thought maybe. You kind of have to be a no-fun-having misanthrope to not at least understand why people think this film is genuinely good.

Roast-radamus – A new game! Here I’ll try and place the film we just saw into one of the Smaddies Baddies categories for end of the year awards. A truly self-fulfilling prophecy for Roast-radamus. For Mortal Kombat I think there are two options. First you could consider it for the Worst Twist (How?) Razzie for daring to make the end of the film just be the Emperor of Outworld deciding to invade Earth. More realistically this sneaks into The Good category for being a movie that wasn’t that bad. Hopefully we have better options than Mortal Kombat though.

StreetCreditReport.com – There isn’t much here as far as street credit, you’d probably be able to more easily find lists where this film is considered one of the best video game films, or an underrated action film. I did find this crazy thing. I agree kind of with their assessment, but Goro was also easily better than the terrible CGI, so they are wrong there. Since I won’t be using it in the sequel recap I’ll also point out that they are far far too kind to Annihilation (spoiler alert).

You Just Got Schooled – This week I watched the pilot episode for the 1998 live action Mortal Kombat television series, Mortal Kombat: Conquest. It premiered on October 3, 1998. The opening sequence in particular follows the game format so closely that is was, dare I say, interesting? After that though is kind of meaders about and the actions of and towards the female characters are problematic on multiple levels. The pilot is extremely long, the series looks like genuine shit, and the acting is an abomination, so I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, it is crap … but not a bad adaptation for brief moments. It was produced directly to syndication and eventually picked up by TNT to run after WCW Monday Nitro. It apparently was popular, but cost too much and only lasted a season. As an adaption I’ll give it a surprising B- mostly downgraded for lack of quality and Kombat, as a show maybe a D+, it was pretty brutal to get through but better than something like Highlander (narrowly).

One down, one terrible sequel to go. Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Here on Earth Recap

NOTE: This was an original recap from 2012 for the film Here on Earth. In a way it started the modern BMT recap, although it would still be another year before our email recap was more than a few notes. It originally included a good number of self-hosted video bits, but I’ve removed them to avoid any possibility of legal issues, and tried my best to get across the intent of each of them. But … just look at how long it is! Yeah, I had a job back then and everything. I think I wrote this in an hour long manic state of ecstasy. Enjoy!

Recap

Well boys and girls, it is with sadness that I have to report that Bad Movie Thursday has ended. What you all didn’t know was that BMT was just a pretense for me and Jamie’s search for the perfect movie, the one movie to unite the world in peace. That search ended last Thursday when we watched Here on Earth, nay! When it allowed us to view its beauty, its majesty … its message. Guided by LudaChris Klein himself we walked the shores of heaven and laughed in childlike wonder as he gently explained how the world can be, how it will be, once we pass along his message to the unconverted. Robert Frost said it best when …

Now that that is over, BMT has not ended, but it might as well have because all others can only hope to be a shadow of its greatness. It had everything, a soundtrack that reads like Best of the 90s: Vol 12, constant unnecessary slo-mo, a rich versus poor dynamic that never quits, and some of the absolute worst (read: best) performances put forth by Chris Klein and Leelee Sobieski. Meanwhile, Josh Harnett acts circles around everyone involved and they close by (spoiler alert!) Notebooking us with a surprise cancer diagnosis and death. Holy shit, needless to say it’s all I’ve been thinking about for the past couple of days. Buckle your seatbelts, and if you didn’t watch it they you should pencil in some time.

“Story”line

So we open with a little acoustic guitar riff and shots of a sweet car getting driven through the quaint town of Putnam, Massachusetts. You immediately know the dynamic of the town because as it passes through poorville Sobieski’s says: “somebody’s lost” because none of us Poory McPoors are buying a car like that. Rolston is a prep school that is, on the other hand, extremely wealthy as one can see from the fact that people row there.

The car arrives are Rolston and whoooooweeee is the principal mad. He tries to relate to Chris Klein because his father isn’t coming to graduation, but Chris goes all screw-you-old-man-you-don’t-know-me and pretends he doesn’t care because his father is making mad stacks of cash for him. He also puts down his whole class by calling them whining children. They conclude with Klein strutting about and riffing with his friends about how many ladies they’d all get with his car. With a flourish he reveals that he stole his car keys from the principal and they are going to take a little joy ride that night.

This is where things get interesting. Klein decides they’re all going to Mable’s Table where all the townies are hanging out. For some reason all the Rolston kids are terrified of going into this diner. Reminds me of my home town where all of the tourists are afraid to come to the local bar because the townies will beat the shit out of them. You know what I’m talking about Jamie. Leelee’s there with Hartnett and his friend (dubbed Mathew Lillard Jr. for his sweet bleach blonde hair and extreme sidekickness). Leelee basically tells Hartnett that it’s ovah babyyyyyy by not writing their name on the Lover’s Wall and instead takes over for her sister waiting tables. Her fear of commitment is disconcerting to Hartnett, but he’s in high school so he rolls with it.

Klein and his friends enter and Klein proceeds to verbally accost poor Leelee. Like no joke he pretty much sexually assaults her. She immediately falls in love with him (natch). We are later led to believe that Leelee falls in love with his heart, in reality we can read between the lines and I think she just kind of likes assholes and Hartnett was just too nice for her. Plus just hear these smoove lines by Klein: “What’s good here besides the help?” “Do you really make your own ice cream” “How does one make you own ice cream” Note the accent on cream in those last two. I thought Klein was just saying it weird … now I’m wondering whether it is sexual innuendo. If it is that is supremely creepy. Harnett conducts his first acting lesson of the night and Chris Klein responds by calling all the townies poor. It is quite a speech. But hey guys …. He has a good heart.

A scuffle ensues and Klein basically tells Hartnett his girlfriend is probably going to dream of him tonight. The actual word is “fantasy file” which isn’t a real phrase. Klein speeds off and Hartnett, on principle, decides to race him. This inevitably results in a huge explosion that destroys Mabel’s (no one is hurt). It would have been a much different movie if someone had died, like Sleepers style. Klein and Hartnett go to prison. They are enemies, but for survival they become reluctant allies and then friends. I’m going to call it Shawshank Redemption 2: Rich and Poe. In this version of the script Klein’s character is ironically called Poe and Harnett’s is ironically called Rich. This may also be a Fox Family series in which Poe is forced to move in with Rich and comedy ensues, they’re such an odd couple!

Anyways. Now we get to see how justice is really served in small town USA … the same way as everywhere else, in a courtroom. Klein has Nerd Alert McGee as his lawyer (complete with bow tie) who’s all like: “excuse me, but can’t my client just pay everyone a ton of money and we can lay this matter to rest?” And the judge basically responds “what world do you live in where what you said makes any sense?” Regardless, the judge decides that they’re going to have to do something different with these boys and makes them rebuild Mabel’s Table and thus Klein must live in Hartnett’s house! Everyone seems satisfied although it does seem to dawn on them that Mabel’s Table is one of the dumbest restaurant names they’ve ever heard in their life.

As an aside: the movie would have been better if Hartnett put his and Leelee’s name on the Love Wall. In the movie Leelee just kind of gets all grumpy and starts cheating on Hartnett with Klein and generally acts pretty terribly towards him. In my version Hartnett tries to make up with her and when he claims they’re on the Love Wall she can say “you burned the Love Wall down.” I never got the sense she drifted from Hartnett because of that incident (which would have made more sense), but rather out of boredom making her intentions, while perhaps more real, a bit muddied. Whatevs.

Klein moves into Hartnett’s house and his disgust with the poor accommodations is palpable. He sees a rat and everything and we feel for him because of the sheer poorness of the house. Hartnett tries to make Klein milk some cows but Klein doesn’t do peasant work and walks out. Good call by Klein, if his servants every found out he milked a cow they would probably demand wages and whatnot. Meanwhile, Leelee has inexplicably made up with Hartnett because he fails adorably at making noises with a blade of grass and then a mysterious knee injury is revealed. Afterward we get some sermon from a priest and Matthew Lillard Jr. grosses everyone out by making out with his girlfriend who runs her hands through his frosted tips never realizing how much she will regret her high school choices in the future.

And then we get it. Chris Klein monologue #1. I think it is in his contract that he gets at least 2.5 monologues a movie, so the director made up a valedictorian speech he had to miss because he’s a dipshit. It is … well it’s just Birches by Robert Frost basically. Are you kidding me? How did I not know about this when I graduated high school, this would have definitely been my speech, and no one would have been the wiser (although I would have been booed off stage …. Worth it). Leelee sees the whole thing and is intrigued to say the least.

Leelee macks the mack by bringing Klein a sandwich, everyone enjoys some solid 90s Yo Mother jokes, and then Hartnett and Klein get into a scuffle. You know it is a movie because Hartnett, who sports some sweet bird arms and is built like a scarecrow, defeats Klein, who appears to have just finished up a really worthwhile cycle of anabolic steroids. Hartnett has a heart to heart with his mother who points out that Klein might as well be an orphan so cut him some slack. In this scene Hartnett “plays” the piano. In reality piano noises just play during a close up shot of his face. It’s pretty funny how little they tried here, but if Hartnett can actually play the piano they did him a disservice.

And then we get two amazing scenes in a row. First, Leelee pretty much jumps Klein. This flirty banter is amazing. Two notes. One, Klein is shirtless which was inevitable. Two, the beginning of that scene was ridiculous. Leelee stares lustily at Klein’s bod and says “I’m hot … … … … … I’m going to get something to drink.” It sounds like she’s drunk. It actually reminds me of that video of the Brady Bunch where the one kid was stoned for a scene. The scene is similar to how me and my wife met. I was working hard during college orientation (shirtless, natch). She came over to get a drink and that was all the opening I needed. Hook-line-and-sinker. I call that move the Charlie Nash Interpol because it makes the girls go crazy.

The second scene is then their date, which is also amazing. It’s in a ballpark and they pretend to play baseball and stuff. Sobieski is the worst and also cannot even fake throw a baseball which is hilarious. They talk about life and love and then make out. Klein’s clinching line is the inexplicable: “I was just wondering if there was mustard or …” referring to the sandwich she gave him hours ago. Oscar snub that year for sure. Since my wife doesn’t read these recaps she doesn’t know that this is happening, this is going to be a date we have. And I’ll force her to read lines with me and reenact the whole thing. We’ll break up for a bit, but she’ll forgive me. I’ve trapped her.

We move quickly from here. Leelee’s family is super concerned Klein is a hit-it-and-quit it guy from Rolston. Ironically, after they do have sex, it is Leelee who ends up dying almost immediately after. Sobieski breaks it to Harnett that … well nothing really. Not great life choices here for m’girl Leelee. Poor Hartnett is just getting dragged along. This is followed by a revolting scene in which Klein kisses a bunch of Leelee’s body parts (a creepy focus is on the feet) and calls them states. Florida is her feet, North and South Carolina the knees. The belly button is Maryland. And, because he’s a classy guy, he skips over New York and New Jersey, her breasts, for New England, her face. The closing line “Massachusetts welcomes you” by Leelee completed the amazing performance.

The following scene gives us our first glimpse of Sobieski running which she is somehow worse at than throwing fake baseballs. Upon seeing this Klein’s response should have been “Are you sure you were a track athlete? Didn’t focus on the ‘field’ aspect of those sports?” Sobieski then explains to Klein that she’s going to the dance with Hartnett. Klein naturally doesn’t understand, and neither do we. There is a very confusing schedule outlined here as well: The dance has fireworks. Klein wants to meet up after but Sobieski is going to Cape Cod. So let me get this straight. The fireworks, which probably start around 9pm, will end and then Sobieski will immediately drive to the Cape from Western Massachusetts …. Yeah that isn’t happening. Lucky for everyone this plan is never mentioned ever again. Regardless, it is assumed by everyone that Leelee is attracted to Hartnett’s superior acting skills because anyone could see that Klein is objectively more attractive.

Klein is upset about this development, but accepts his fate gracefully … Oh wait … nevermind. Instead he gets shitfaced and dances with a bunch of cows. The dance sequence could only be trumped by Sobieski trying to dance, but they wouldn’t let that happen would they? Klein goes to the dance drunk and gets wrecked by Hartnett. Classic. This time the fight is a bit more fair since Klein is absolutely falling-down drunk at this point. Klein instantaneously sobers up and decides to pack it in and leave. He asks Leelee to go with him. She practically burst out laughing, but he saves it by tacking “for the weekend” onto the end. Sobieski is mulling it over when Hartnett shows up. She makes the unfortunate decision to break the news in this fashion “I can’t go … *Hartnett looks happy, 3 more beats* … With you [Hartnett]” Hartnett then bursts into tears. After this particular scene everyone should have stopped filming because Hartnett is too good. He is a legit actor. Leelee and Klein should have felt embarrassed and just called off the rest of the shoot while they recast the leads. Sobieski then hops on the bus and drives off to Boston.

At the Klein Estate Sobieski pokes fun at Klein by asking about the Butler. Klein nonchalantly explains that it is Fourth of July so he’s not here. No joke, just kind of says Jeeves got the night off. Klein wants to see if there is food in the house (there obviously is … you live in a mansion), but Sobieski runs off to embarrass herself by lying in Klein’s mother’s suicide tub. Lucky for the world that action results in this monologue which I call “Mi Mama”. It is a heartfelt display by a very alone and all but abandoned young man. I’m all in now, you’ve hooked me finally. There is only one thing you could do to screw this up, but you wouldn’t do that, right? WRONG. Sobieski dance sequence to bumping 90s tunes. They have a nice fake rain going in the monologue scene. You can always tell a good fake rain, it comes in weird sheets. Must have only had the mansion for the night.

And now for the conclusion, Klein’s absentee father returns and tells him to get his act together before he heads off to Princeton. Princeton alums shake their head in shame. MIT gets Buschemi from Armageddon and Nic Cage from National Treasure, Princeton gets ………. Chris Klein in Here on Earth. Leelee arrives home and they find out she’s been hiding doctor appointments. Leelee meets up with Klein and challenges him to a race. In the real world Klein would defeat her easily, in this movie she takes a substantial lead (there is evidently something magically efficient about swinging her arms wildly from side to side). All of a sudden the movie goes into slo mo and she falls. Klein carries her back and she gets the surprise cancer diagnosis. Klein accuses her of quitting when she can’t get treatment. “You’re just going to die?” Her response of “I’m going to live …. Just not as long as you” doesn’t help.

Hartnett tells Klein to get it together (I agree). We get a sweet montage with Sobieski dying, and Klein looking forlornly at some roses and a picture of Sobieski. We finally conclude at the grand opening of Mable’s Table where Klein shows up, sweeps Sobieski off her feet, and carves their name on the new Lover’s Wall. As Jamie pointed out, it would have been much better if he instead carved in “Fuck Cancer”, but it dawned on me later that I don’t think the movie was intended to be a comedy. Klein gets to give the eulogy. I think he just ended up giving his graduation speech, but it was hard to tell.

Conclusion

What is there left to say. This goes into the pantheon for sure. Chris Klein once again showed himself to be worthy of the Nic Cage Jr. crown. All he needs is an Oscar so that he’ll be able to get jobs for the rest of his life. Sobieski plays a character who is most notable for making poor life choices and getting cancer … they could have given her a bit more to work with in my opinion. Josh Hartnett was amazingly good, didn’t really falter despite having Chris Klein chewing the scenery during every take. There really isn’t anything else to say. Street Fighter: Legend of Chun Li, Battlefield Earth, Here on Earth. Those are now my top three of BMT history. ‘Nuff said.

Ernest Goes to Jail Recap

Jamie

Ernest is back, Jack! Right? It’s the same guy each time? Anyway, unbeknownst to Ernest he has a doppelganger on death row. A fateful turn on jury duty unexpectedly gets them switched and his whole life is turned upside down when he’s stuck in jail. Can he escape, stop the criminal, and get the girl before it’s too late? Find out in… Ernest Goes to Jail.

How?! Meet Ernest P. Worrell. A dim but well-meaning janitor at a bank. Everyone there loves him and wants him to succeed as a future bank teller except the cranky president of the bank. Booooooo. Oh and he also becomes magnetic whenever he is electrocuted instead of dying. Not sure why. Anyway, in a wild coincidence he is called to jury duty for the trial of a toady for a local crime lord, Nash, who is just days away from his time in the electric chair and is an exact doppelganger for our poor Ernest. Realizing an opportunity the criminal convinces the judge to allow the jury to tour the prison during which the crime lord pulls the ol’ switcheroo and leaves poor Ernest in his place. Double boooo. While Ernest tries to navigate the hilarious world of maximum security prison, Nash is planning to rob the bank, sexually assault Ernest’s very kind female coworker (and love interest?), and probably do a whole bunch of other nasty stuff. Ernest attempts to escape to no avail, only to find that when they try to electrocute him it merely imbues him with super electromagnetic powers. With said powers he blows that joint (with the help of a prisoner with a heart of gold, Lyle) and gets to the bank just in time to try to stop Nash from blowing the vault and killing his coworkers. An all-out brawl ensues ending with Ernest once again getting electrocuted, gaining the ability to fly via polarization, and flying the bomb into the night sky where it appears he is killed. However, he falls back to Earth right on top of Nash, incapacitating him for good and then smash cut. THE END.

Why?! I’m actually not sure… I think it has something to do with the American dream. Like sure Ernest is dumb, but he’s nice and works hard, so shouldn’t that count for something? Interestingly they don’t make any claim that Ernest is actually good at his job despite his shortcomings. In fact they make it clear that he is quite bad at it. A convicted killer on death row comes straight out of jail and is so much better than Ernest at his job that he is immediately offered the promotion that Ernest has been trying hard to get. It’s actually kinda sad when you think about it.

Who?! Big time shout out to the true friend Ernest met in Jail, Lyle. He’s a big enforcer type who turns out to have a heart of gold (and an unrivaled mane of hair). The actor was actually former professional kickboxer and heavyweight boxer Tex Cobb. He’s probably best known for getting absolutely destroyed by Larry Holmes in an unlikely title fight. Some interesting rumors surrounded his career, including some drug and gambling stuff that was allegedly connected to his sudden retirement from the sport in 1993 and a claim that he was supposed to be the opponent for Muhammad Ali’s last fight but broke his arm saving a friend from a bar fight and had to back out.

What?! In some ways you can think of the entire franchise as a product placement. Ernest started as a character used in a number of commercials and eventually he himself became the product. Ironically once that became the point all the products in this film are cartoon versions and not real product placements.

Where?! Unsurprisingly, given Ernest’s roots, this film is set in the great state of Tennessee. Even if it weren’t predictable, it’s made clear at the very least by the Tennessee license plates on some of the main characters’ cars. C.

When?! This is actually a funny question. There is a calendar in Ernest/Nash’s cell with dates being crossed off, but there doesn’t seem to be much indication of what month the calendar is supposed to represent. Likely this is just a prop calendar, but I like to think that it is actually a nonspecific generic calendar that they give prisoners. You do see a January 1990 calendar hanging in the bank. Again likely just grabbed a prop and hung it up to the first page, but gotta assume the bank is actively using the calendar and it’s accurate. KnowhutImean? B-

So I watched Ernest’s “friend” Escape Plan: Hades first and that film is a whole bunch of nonsense. At times I thought they were speaking a different language or something because it was hard to follow exactly what was happening. It looked nice, though, with its fancy robots and fancy prison and fancy fight scenes. But it’s all fluff and was actually pretty boring. As if they didn’t really care to make a comprehensible film, but rather just an entry in their visual portfolio so they could try to get an even bigger and fancier job. I can certainly see why it didn’t go to theaters. As for Ernest, I daresay I actually kinda enjoyed myself. Ernest is just a silly character and his schtick lands quite often as he mugs and goes off on some overly-serious monologue on acting or business or the like. I can understand why I liked the films as a kid even if I almost definitely didn’t understand how crazy the attempted sexual assault by Nash is or the fact that Ernest is nearly executed via electric chair. Probably a full twenty minutes where the film starts to venture into the twilight zone away from the harmless fun that otherwise makes the franchise what it is: enjoyable stupidity. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Sometimes I forget that the Ernest films were a real thing. Like … if my parents had told me that it was some Canadian TV movie and that no one else had seen it I would have just shrugged and said “yeah makes sense”. But it isn’t … this was released to over 1000 theaters in 1990. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I watched the trailer, and made the notes, and read the reviews … but I still had a sneaking suspicion I would like this film. Why? First because I watched it as a kid. Something about Ernest must just remind me of simpler times. But more important I’ve watched Ernest Goes to Camp more recently, about 7 years ago, and I thought that was actually a lot better than you might think. I was sure I was going to think the same thing here.

The Good – Ernest is goofy harmless silliness. Varney himself is top notch, with both the physicality necessary for a kids’ movie character and the ability to do some goofy impressions. As the heart and soul of the film there is little more I would ask him to do. I dig the surrealist atmosphere this movie takes, the bright pink guard uniforms, the completely open prison cells with twenty foot ceilings, a world filled with goofy caricatures. It all kind of works on a straight-to-video level.

The Bad – The film is aggressively dumb, and in that sense all of the reviews are totally justified. The love story comes across as creepy now I think as it is abundantly obvious Ernest had either a learning disability or has serious emotional issues he should be working out with a therapist. The film is crazy dark with Ernest going to the electric chair and basically killed while the prison warden looks on in glee. Super nuts. The film is extremely derivative, relying exclusively on the doppelganger / Prince and the Pauper trope to drive the story forwards.

You Just Got Schooled – The story of Ernest is pretty interesting, at least what you can glean from IMDb notes and elsewhere. This article seems like a pretty good roundup. Short story: Varney wanted to be an actor, but struggled to establish himself on the stage in NYC. Bouncing between his home in Kentucky and New York he ended up landing a spot with Cherry, an ad man. They ended up doing hundreds of commercials together, and then got a four picture deal (which Ernest Goes to Jail is part of). Afterwards they settled into a more lucrative straight-to-video deal, but unfortunately Verney died in 2000 prior to filming Ernest Goes to Space and Ernest and the Voodoo Curse (which I would have called Weekend at Ernest’s 2, but whatever). Fascinating stuff, a really really unique only-in-the-90s type franchise I think.

The BMT – Do I think Ernest is a BMT franchise … no. I don’t. Despite the fact that I would say that I’m fairly objective when it comes to films I saw when I was a kid (Hook, I’m looking at you), I can’t help but like Ernest. I think he’s harmless fun, so there. The character is sweet, and naive, and always tries to do what’s best. What’s wrong with that? Nothing I think … although they are pretty bad. I reserve the right to change my mind, but for now Ernest is pretty okay nonsense.

Sklogwords – After moving Welcome to Earth to the preview I needed a new game, and noticing that The Movie Database is a little light on keywords what bigger service could I provide the world that filling in entirely too accurate keywords for BMT films. For Ernest I chose the following ten in order: Prison, prison break, magnetism, bank robbery, janitor, electric chair, Tennessee, doppelganger, impersonation, animal actor. The funniest one is probably either doppelganger (where the film Southland Tales tends to come up a lot) or Tennessee which, fun fact, is also the setting of the Hannah Montana Movie! And now I’m the number one editor of the film Ernest Goes to Jail on TMDB. So there.

StreetCreditReport.com – There is really nothing here, which isn’t that surprising. Do you know what is surprising? That one of the main reasons listed in reviews as to why Ernest was unbearable was that he was either “too nerdy” or “too geeky”. Like, say what? It doesn’t feel like he is either of those things. At the very least he has a learning disability, but geeky? Nerdy? What was up with the early 90s yo?

Bring a Friend Analysis – As the number of wide release bad movies has dropped in the past few years I’ve often thought that it is likely that at least some of them are going direct to VOD. And Escape Plan 2: Hades seemed like a perfect test of this theory. Wrong! Wrong! The first film was surprisingly good, a decent team-up in Stallone and Arnold, a classic 80s actioner really. This? This is trash. This is dog poo thrown forcefully into my face. It has robots, and terrible actors, and AI, and … it is gibberish. It makes you feel like you are taking crazy pills. And then there is a ton of guns and killing … I just wanted some prison escapes man! This is worse that Prison Break season 2 when they forgot the show was about breaking out of prisons! On the one hand I’m glad to hear that, no, not all VOD features are suddenly on BMT’s radar. On the other I watched Escape Plan 2: Hades in real life, that is something I spent some of my short time on Earth doing. So that’s depressing. B as a friend, F- as an actual movie fit for human consumption.

Phew, long one, but I have a feeling the Bring a Friend cycle will tend to be that way. Cheerios,

The Sklogs

 

Universal Soldier: The Return Recap

Jamie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patrick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Sklogs