The Identical Recap

Jamie

Ryan Wade and Drexel Hemsley are identical twins separated at birth. Drexel ends up gaining worldwide fame as a musician, while Ryan struggles with his passion for music and his calling to God. This ultimately results in Ryan making a name for himself impersonating his brother on stage. Can he… uh… live his dream before it’s too late? Find out in… The Identical.

How?! There’s really not much to it. Ryan and Drexel are twins born to very poor parents in the Depression. Hearing a minister speak, they decide that fate is telling them to give one of the babies to the minister and his wife. While Ryan struggles to balance being a good minister’s son and a musician, Drexel rises from poverty to international fame. Ryan becomes a huge fan of Drexel’s without knowing their relationship and when a contest is held to find the best Drexel impersonator he enters and wins. And boy does he! Because an agent sets him up touring the country singing Drexel songs and things are pretty great. Ultimately, the inability to sing his own songs and life on the road bring him back home. Ultimately he finds out about his twin too late, as he tragically dies in a plane crash. But he is able to reconcile this and begin to tour again singing both his brother’s songs and his own. THE END.

Why?! Love… of music. Duh. The motivation is really life. He grows up with music in his bones and spends his life searching for it. Ultimately he finds it, but too late to share it with the only other person who could have understood. In some ways it’s like if Patrick and I were separated at birth and never got to combined our passion for bad movies and give it to the world *shudder* a truly terrible thought.

Who?! You have to highlight the wild story of Blake Rayne, our main character, for this section. The dude basically lived the story and then read the script and was like “wait, this is what happened to me… minus the twin part,” and then got the gig… even though he wasn’t an actor. Basically he entered an Elvis impersonator contest on a dare and won and then spent years doing that.

What?! Didn’t know what to put here, really, but did notice that this won an award according to IMDb. When I checked what it was it was “Worst Picture” from the Houston Film Critics Awards. Which is kinda hilarious that they give it out. In fact they even have nominees. This beat out Blended, Dumb and Dumber To, Left Behind, and Transformers: Age of Extinction. Interestingly, it looks like the category was discontinued starting this year. Must have seen the Smaddies Baddies buzzsaw coming its way.

Where?! This opens in Alabama, where Drexel is born and raised. Ryan is then separated and lives and grows up in Tennessee. That’s where most of the film takes place, besides some roadtrip type stuff while Ryan is on tour. All around pretty solid and plays a minor role in the film given the role of music in the plot. B+.

When?! The twins (feels good writing that) are born in 1935 and so the bulk of the film takes place from the early 50’s into the 70’s. Most of it probably takes place in the 60’s. Not bad given that we get a pretty clear picture of the exact birth date for our main character. Not important though. B.

I might have been able to forgive the film’s interminable length, directionless plot, and weird Elvis knockoff story. I even thought the story was pleasant enough and acting was all around decent. But the music… the music is terrible. I had to spend the entire film listening to these not very good songs play over and over. Sure there were a few halfway decent ones, but I literally thought Ryan’s first “hit” was supposed to be bad so that people would be like “he needs some work, but he’s otherwise good.” But no, it was apparently supposed to be that way. Then the final City Lights song that is supposed to be his crowning achievement is even worse. I’m not sure how you are supposed to make an Elvis knockoff and then write terrible songs to try to sell it. Boo. As for Sorceress, great choice by us. The film is ludicrous and I honestly am shocked it doesn’t get more play in bad movie circles. It is both unpleasant to watch and mesmerizing. A perfect combo. My only thought is perhaps it’s a little too R rated to be part of culture. Perhaps, but I don’t care. The film is Twins to the max and hilarious. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! What happens when you mix Elvis impersonators with a heavy dose of Christian film production? Apparently a twin film called The Identical. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I was not looking forward to watching this film. Mainly because the preview made it incredibly obvious that it was a barely-released Christian films. One of the delights of BMT is that we tend to occasionally go out of our comfort zone to watch films where we aren’t really the intended audience. But Christian films? They are almost always boring. The one saving grace perhaps would be Ray Liotta. What were my expectations? To be bored. But perhaps with a healthy dose of Ray Liotta wearing a Ray Liotta mask and cackling at me? A boy can dream.

The Good – The main actor / elvis impersonator was better than you would expect, the expectations being so low as to effectively be non-existent. I can’t decide if Ray Liotta looking like a normal human being is a positive or negative, but his performance was more subtle that a bad movie aficionado would hope as well. It is a very very very twin film, and that has to be a positive. And at least one of the songs I think was halfway decent (Angel of Mine). And Joey Pants is great as usual. Best Bit: Low Expectations.

The Bad – The film is, as expected, a nothing film. It, indeed, had a ham-fisted attempt to insert some pro-Isreal weirdness (specifically a scene where the cast prays for Israel to win the Six-Day War), likely at the bequest of the production company. Most of that stuff is just vaguely amusing (like the “other” twin finding out he’s half Jewish), but on occasion it is so weird as to be jarring. The music is mostly crap. And I could do without one twin dying in a plane crash. Fatal Flaw: Boring nothing film.

The BMT – I’m not sure. In the future I’m sure we’ll have to pick up a bunch of Christian films in some capacity, although I’m not exactly sure how to do that properly. There is a non-insignificant number of “wide” release films, but really just films barely released to 600 theaters and they’ll mostly be like this. Let’s sum up the storyline for most of these films: Man thinks he has the perfect life, man meets adversity he can’t immediately overcome, man questions his faith in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, man has epiphany about what faith really is all about, man achieves actual perfect life. I guarantee like 80% of the films are just that with various forms of adversity plugged in. Did it meet my expectations? Sadly yeah, this film was boring. Not only that, Ray Liotta looked normal and didn’t cackle at me. So overall a disappointment I think.

Roast-radamus – Who What Where When Why How – I think I’m going to count Seth Green as a Planchet (Who?), a character who just kind of gets into trouble and the rest of the cast bemusingly pokes fun at? I can get behind that. A decent Setting as a Character (Where?) for I think both Tennessee (where most of the film takes place for obvious reasons) and Alabama (where the beginning and end up for a bit). Definitely a good Period Piece (When?) for the 50s / 60s setting to coincide with Elvis’s rise. I think the unconscious search for his twin brother counts as a MacGuffin (Why?), f-it. Closest to Bad in the superlatives.

StreetCreditReport.com – The street cred comes from it being a twin film, for it being a weirdo half-biopic of Elvis, and it being a nothing-Christian film. But interestingly 2014 was a big Christian film year. According to Rolling Stone in a 2014:God’s Not Dead, Son of God, Heaven Is for Real, Persecuted, The Identical, Left Behind, and Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas were all released! We’ve now seen three of those and God’s Not Dead will eventually be on the docket, but no wonder no list includes The Identical, it was competing with the notorious God’s Not Dead and Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas!

Bring a Friend Analysis – As a friend this week we reached deeeeeep into the depths of the early 80s Roger Corman filmography to retrieve the absolutely dire Sorceress. Starring Leigh and Lynette Harris (Playboy Playmates) the film had a somewhat notorious production. Explicitly developed to build off of the success of Conan, Jack Hill (who often worked with Corman) was roped in with the promise of a big budget, and Hill thought it could revive his career (instead this would be the last film he would direct). Amazingly, this is actually a lot more similar to The Identical than it appeared at first blush. Hill specifically wrote the script in reference to The Corsican Brothers, which sounds suspiciously similar to moments in The Identical! I can tell you this much: The Satyr in the film is the most horrifying thing I’ve ever seen, the Harris twins are not actors, the effects are horrible, and the multiple beastiality and rape scenes and jokes made me very uncomfortable. I would recommend this to no one, and may God have mercy on Roger Corman’s soul for producing this pile of garbage. And yet … I’m very very surprised that this isn’t more well known in bad movie circles (it does seem to be mentioned a lot on grindhouse lists due to it being directed by Hill) because it is like watching a slow motion car crash on screen. I’m going to give it an A. I hate it, but I cannot deny the allure. Somehow it feels like this is exactly the type of films we should be watching for Bring a Friend in general, and yet I never want to watch anything like this ever again. The juxtaposition is tantalizing. It’s the satyr. It is so horrifying that one must understand the demented mind that created it. And I can’t stop thinking about it.

Twins Analysis – How twins-y was The Identical? Extremely!! There were some extreme identical twins. You had identical twins separated at birth, both destined to be songwriting stars in their own right. When one twin dies tragically the other feels the others death instinctively without having to hear of the news. These guys were one step away from being Stigmata Twins. A. I won’t be docking points for not using twins because in most cases it doesn’t make sense. Like here, what? You’re going to go out and find twin Elvis impersonators?! That’s insane. And what about Sorceress. Five words for you: The Two That Are One. The entire plot is about twin destiny and how twins are the only thing that can defeat an evil wizard. Bomb. A-, I docked a bit for the twins being such horrible actors and besmirching the good name of twins.

The Identical Quiz

Oh man, last thing I remember I got bopped on the head while winning an Elvis impersonation contest. When I awoke I was a world famous recording artist! Go figure. Otherwise I don’t remember a thing. Do you remember what happened in The Identical?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) In the beginning of the film Brian Geraghty gives up one of his two twin boys to Ray Liotta and Ashley Judd. What promise does he make Ray Liotta keep about the boys?

2) Ryan Wade has a bestest friend in the whole world in Seth Green. What instrument does Seth Green play?

3) During the course of the film Ryan Wade has three jobs. What are they?

4) How did Ryan’s secret twin brother Drexel Hemsley die and what happened to Ryan when he did?

5) During the course of the film Ryan and Drexel see each other once. When?

Answers

The Identical Preview

With their powers combined the robot vixens are no match for Rich and Poe. They bust those robots up and boy howdy, bustin’ makes them feel good. Rich looks at Poe and realizes that this is his moment to say goodbye. “It’s time to set yourself free,” he tells him. Poe steels himself and despite the love in his heart he delivers one last crosskick that sends the bots back into the puzzle box. With a second flying kick he forces the box close, thus sealing them away. With the spell finally broken, Poe picks up the box and has a moment of contemplation. Perhaps he should just throw the box into the fire and end it. Rich steps in, “I know you’re not ready to say goodbye and perhaps… just perhaps, we’ll see that puzzle box again down the road.” With that he gives a little wink and Poe nods, leaving the box behind. As they leave the ship they are greeted by a smiling Nic Cage and the masked gamemaster. “Congratulations, Rich and Poe, you have won. Earth is saved.” They smile and breathe a sigh of relief. “Unfortunately, the universe is lost,” the other gamemaster says and begins to cackle in glee. What? This doesn’t make sense! “But we won!” they scream. “Oh yes, you won, and for that you will pay dearly, for it revealed what is inside of you… what we are destined to possess,” and the gamemaster holds up the Obsidian Dongle! With a small shard missing! Rich’s hand immediately goes to his chest. “Nic Cage! Stop him,” they plead, but he just shakes his head and smiles. He then turns to the gamemaster who slowly takes off his mask to reveal… a second Nic Cage. They’re… they’re… identical. That’s right! We are kicking off the Twins battle cycle where we watch BMT films featuring twins paired with Bring a Friend’s also featuring twins! It’s a veritable twinstravaganza! First up The Identical. ‘What’s that?’ you ask. Who cares, no one remembers it, but it was all about an Elvis twin or something. Let’s go!

The Identical Nic Cage peers at Poe. “Oh, you don’t recognize me? Of course. The face. You see I had them take my face… off. And then I had his face put… on. You getting it yet?” Poe’s aghast. Travolta! The sequence of events is still a little confusing, but before he can get it clarified Travolta uses his sorcerer’s powers to send Poe deep into the Earth… to Hell! That’s right! We are pairing The Identical with Sorceress, an 80’s film that features magical creatures in some anonymous time of the past. Oh and sexy twin warriors. Pretty appropriate stuff. Let’s go!

The Identical (2014) – BMeTric: 25.4; Notability: 18 

(Odd plot. I think maybe the initial ratings were exclusive to people who actually went and watched the film in theaters … so like Elvis impersonators? Just seems insane the drop which almost definitely coincides with the film coming out on VOD or something.)

RogerEbert.com – 1.5 stars – On January 8, 1935, a woman gave birth to twin boys in a little shack built by her husband in Tupelo, Mississippi. It is not known whether or not the twins were identical. One twin was stillborn, the other grew up to be Elvis Presley.  For the entirety of his life, Elvis missed his twin (named Jesse). He prayed to him, talked about him all the time. If you visit Graceland, there is a small gravestone for Jesse in the family burial plot outside the house. Elvis wondered if he had somehow sapped the strength of his twin brother in the womb, and if that was why he became the superstar that he did. He had guilt about it. … One positive thing about “The Identical” is that it will make you want to bust out Elvis Presley’s early Sun and RCA recordings, songs like “That’s All Right,” “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” “My Baby Left Me,” or “Good Rockin'” just to remind you that no, it didn’t happen the way it did in “The Identical”. Thank goodness.

(Oh wow … wait, this is basically some screenwriter who read this story about Elvis and made a fictionalized version of it with an Elvis impersonator? That is crazy. Do you know what else it crazy? Ray Liotta’s face which is the only thing about this film that I’m looking forward to.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LWy9hBy0Kk/

(Hmmm, they really hide the fact that this is pretty explicitly a Christian film. Not that I blame them for that, but you’d think this was just a vague fantasy biopic thingy based on the trailer. It assuredly is not.)

Directors – Dustin Marcellino – (BMT: The Identical; Notes: There is nothing about this person. I have a theory: there is a real estate agent in Tennessee with this name. This film was likely produced and shot in Tennessee where both Wade Cummins and Blake Rayne live. I think he probably directed impersonator / local commercials / real estate stuff and these two people are one in the same.)

Writers – Wade Cummins (written by) – (BMT: The Identical; Notes: Also had a cameo part in the film. He is also an Elvis impersonator!! Here’s his website.)

Howard Klausner (screenplay) – (Known For: Space Cowboys; The Last Ride; Future BMT: God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness; The Grace Card; BMT: The Identical; Notes: Seems to have transitioned to Christian films, including directing a small Kevin Sorbo film called The Secret Handshake.)

Actors – Blake Rayne – (Future BMT: Hounddog; BMT: The Identical; Notes: An elvis impersonator. Was a web designer prior to winning an Elvis impersonator content in Columbus, Ohio in 1998. His real name is Ryan Pelton.)

Ray Liotta – (Known For: Goodfellas; Marriage Story; Blow; The Place Beyond the Pines; Identity; Killing Them Softly; Field of Dreams; Sin City: A Dame to Kill For; Bee Movie; Cop Land; The Iceman; Heartbreakers; Kill the Messenger; Date Night; Wanderlust; Muppets Most Wanted; Observe and Report; Something Wild; Youth in Revolt; No Escape; Future BMT: The Son of No One; Operation Dumbo Drop; Go with Me; Crazy on the Outside; Revenge of the Green Dragons; Forever Mine; Revolver; The Lonely Lady; The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud; Slow Burn; Even Money; Better Living Through Chemistry; Powder Blue; Unforgettable; Smokin’ Aces; Hannibal; Corrina, Corrina; Crossing Over; Flock of Dudes; Pilgrim; John Q; Local Color; A Rumour of Angels; BMT: In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale; Turbulence; Wild Hogs; The Identical; Notes: Was adopted. Was a genuine A-list star in the 90s, but in more recent years he’s focused on television, like Shades of Blue with Jennifer Lopez.)

Ashley Judd – (Known For: Heat; Divergent; Natural Born Killers; A Time to Kill; Olympus Has Fallen; Frida; Barry; A Dog’s Way Home; Bug; Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood; Animal Attraction; Simon Birch; Dolphin Tale; Smoke; De-Lovely; Dolphin Tale 2; The Passion of Darkly Noon; Ruby in Paradise; Normal Life; Helen; Future BMT: Tooth Fairy; Eye of the Beholder; Allegiant; Insurgent; Kuffs; Good Kids; High Crimes; Big Stone Gap; Flypaper; Double Jeopardy; Crossing Over; Where the Heart Is; Trafficked; A Secret Sin; BMT: Twisted; The Identical; Kiss the Girls; Notes: Went to the University of Kentucky and considered a run for U.S. Senate from Kentucky in 2014, but ultimately decided not to pursue the position. Was in Twin Peaks: The Return.)

Budget/Gross – $16 million / Domestic: $2,827,666 (Worldwide: $2,840,991)

(I cannot believe the budget was actually that large … I guess maybe they knew you could pull in church groups and make bank like Tyler Perry. Weird story to try that strategy with though.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 6% (4/69): With nearly every element ringing as hollow as the ersatz Elvis at the story’s core, The Identical looks destined for a bright future on the ironic viewing circuit.

(Ironic viewing? Check. A saw a few reviews that mention the odd pro-Isreal slant the movie takes. Sounds like some weird and wild stuff. Reviewer Highlight: The script is so determined to deliver an upbeat message of faith and love, it forgets to be interesting. – Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune)

Poster – Twins: The Musical

(It’s certainly… magical looking. I won’t even say it’s a bad poster or anything. It’s fine. A little old fashioned, but I think I expected that. Just wish they tried a bit harder here and there. C)

Tagline(s) – If He is in your dreams, nothing can stand against Him. (D)

(Oh my gooooodddddddddddddddddd. I don’t even think this makes sense, but I don’t care. Run, Patrick! Run! What have we done?!)

Keyword – twins

Top 10: Doctor Sleep (2019), Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), The Great Outdoors (1988), Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008), Despicable Me 3 (2017), The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008), Dude, Where’s My Car? (2000)

Future BMT: 92.7 Date Movie (2006), 58.2 Deck the Halls (2006), 54.9 The Back-up Plan (2010), 51.2 Dude, Where’s My Car? (2000), 43.7 Double Impact (1991), 41.3 Father Figures (2017), 13.4 Little Women (2018);

BMT: Jack and Jill (2011), Pluto Nash (2002), The Identical (2014)

(Wow, how have we done so few? What a disaster. Looks like we are ready to fill up this keyword. Stay tuned because this same keyword plot will be coming at you every week for two months as we slowly watch every single BMT qualifying twin film (and I guess add the keyword to a few movies as well because this looks mighty incomplete to me!))

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 10) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Ray Liotta is No. 2 billed in The Identical and No. 3 billed in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Seige Tale, which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 4 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 = 10. There is no shorter path at the moment.

Notes – Blake Rayne is a famous Elvis Presley impersonator. He was cast after one of his performances as Elvis garnered the casting director’s attention.

Joe Pantoliano appeared in La Bamba 27 years earlier, playing Ritchie Valens’ music manager, another movie about music and set around the 1950s. (I would have deleted this note as pointless … but there are so few notes for this film I’ll leave it in. Yes, sometimes actors act in two films with an extremely tenuous and vague connection …)

Ray Liotta and Amanda Crew previously starred together in the 2010 film Charlie St. Cloud, but shared no screen time together. (How is this a note? Step up your game random people on IMDb!)

Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights Recap

Jamie

Totally filthy dancing is back, Jack! And this time it’s hot hot hot in Havana. When all-american girl (and total nerd) Katey is plopped in the middle of Havana on the eve of the Cuban Revolution she starts to feel the heat with Javier, a local who works at the hotel. Can she dance her heart out (and get the guy) before it’s too late? Find out in… Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights.

How?! Katey is a total nerd alert ready to crush it at college. That is until her dad gets a job in Cuba and they have to move during her senior year. Lame. Or is it? That’s because she pretty quickly catches the eye of a pretty rad dude. Unfortunately he turns out to be a total jerk. But she isn’t crying over spilled jerk (nailed it) cause she’s more into the waiter at the hotel, Javier, anyway. He’s nice and hard-working and moves to the groove like no one she’s ever seen (and that includes her ballroom champion parents). But nothing is going right because Javier is fired for hanging out with her! Oh no! Being poor and all he has to turn to a life of crime to support his family. Darn. But wait! What about the big dance competition where the winners get to go to America? Hooray! Training in secret (and with the help of her secret weapon, old Patrick Swayze) Katey and Javier dance their hearts out and to the shock and awe of all that know her (particularly her own parents) they make it to the finals on New Year’s Eve. Despite the angst this all creates, everyone learns to live and love again just in time for Katey and Javier to win the competition, right? Wrong! That’s because the Cuban Revolution literally happens in the middle of their routine. Katey is all like “Hooray! Viva la revolution!” but Javier knows what’s up and makes her realize that despite the fact that they’ll have to separate because of this international event, they will always have love and they will always have dance and they will always have the filthy steamy dirty memories of their dance. THE END. 

Why?! Love and dance, duh. But seriously, it’s weird, because Katey’s purpose is just like love and happiness. She’s trying to find herself as teens are wont to do and she finds that the rhythm of the beat evokes something stronger than all those nerd books ever did. But Javier is dealing with some shit. He’s trying to feed his family because his dad was killed by the government for sympathizing with the revolutionaries. So the idea of winning a dance contest and going to America is pretty sweet at first, but after the revolution not as much. It’s pretty intense and serious while Katey just goes back to America with her rich family afterwards… they are operating in two totally different worlds.

Who?! Obvs the big one is The Swayz cameo. He appears only for a bit and comes off a little differently in the role of old man briefly encouraging a young woman to dance while covered in sweat. Rather than in the original where he was an old man constantly encouraging a young woman to dance while covered in sweat. We also have a big performance by Mya during the main dance scene that kinda counts as a musician turned actress.

What?! Generally speaking I anticipate a difficult time for this section in the upcoming cycle. Past and Future films aren’t necessarily focused on delivering timely product placements. This one is slightly different in that at the time there was some press regarding a pretty intense integrated marketing campaign by Revlon. There are some appropriately silly names for the different shades of nail polish and the like… Pink Cha-Cha-Cha. Ooof.

Where?! A+ Setting Alert. They say Havana Nights and they mean Havana Nights. There is actually no moment that doesn’t take place in Havana. No scene of them moving from America. No nothing. Havana all day and all night, dancing to the rhythm of the city… Havana. A+. Weird part was that I knew this was actually shot in Puerto Rico. How? Because I recognized some of the locations from the Keanu Reeves film Replicas.

When?! Somewhere in that same city on the same night of the big dance competition is Michael Corleone. That too depicted the fall of the Batista regime on December 31st, 1958. I think the question on everyone’s mind is who wore the Cuban Revolution best? The Godfather Part II or Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. Scientists contend we may never know. Those scientists? Us. A.

There is a charm to this film. The dancing is quite steamy and I really did find myself rooting for the characters to find happiness with each other through dance. If that sounds cheesy that’s because it is. The entire thing is a cheesefest. So while it’s not a particularly good movie (it probably had more of a place on ABC Family) you can’t help but find yourself lulled into a sense of comfort by the cheese. That is until it all explodes at the end with the Cuban Revolution. Why they even felt the need to set the film in 1958 (somehow making this a prequel to the original film) with a nonsensical cameo by The Swayz (let’s call him the estranged father of Swayze’s character from the original) is almost beyond explanation. Just set it in current day Miami and you got everything you need. Namely sweaty steamy dirty filthy dancing. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! When’s a sequel not a sequel? When it is a low-key remake where the original star appears as a different character? Whatever, I still call it Dirty Dancing 2. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – After watching both Dirty Dancing films (both? What, you don’t remember the ABC original remake? It was really really bad) we somehow sidestepped the sequel-remake set in Cuba. A period piece and destination sequel? Yes please. I went into this with little knowledge about the film beyond that Patrick Swayze appears in a cameo. What were my expectations? I think this was supposed to be one of the worst sequels ever made. Anything less than a complete catastrophe would be a disappointment.

The Good – The dancing (besides being wholly inappropriate for a 50s teenager to partake in … wait, am I getting old?) is indeed hot and sexy. While you can kind of tell Diego Luna and Romola Garai were just taught how to dance right before filming, the dancing at times is still pretty cool. And unlike the original Dirty Dancing film they replace the somewhat uncomfortable central relationship (how old was Patrick Swayze supposed to be again?) and abortion story, with a charming innocence of Luna and a backdrop of the Cuban Revolution. While the movie is a shadow of the original, I take that trade ten times out of ten. Best Bit – The dancing is better than one would expect.

The Bad – The movie is a television movie pretending to be a theatrical feature. From involving a ton of television actors, to trying to build a teaching moment around the Cuban Revolution, and overall just exuding innocence. If the original was as chaste as this film is, I’m not sure it is as big of a cult film as it is. The main actress is pretty rough, slipping into a pretty obvious British accent on occasion. Finally, I don’t know whether this is a good-bad thing or just a bad thing, but the final scene in which our protagonist is flabbergasted that Luna wants to stay in Cuba after the revolution is great. It is both extremely real concerning the naivety of a teenager, and extremely hilarious in just how dumb she seems. Fatal Flaw – Television film.

The BMT – We’ve now watched all of the Dirty Dancing films! USA! USA! So including Lifetime/ABC originals I’ve managed to complete both Dirty Dancing and The Blue Lagoon in the last few months. My self-learning is getting out of control! I think for Cuba and remake-sequels this film will always have a place in the history of BMT. What more could you want. Did it meet my expectations? Nope, I truly expected this film to be a catastrophe. For some reason I thought this film was going to be like … ultra-sexy early-00s weirdness? But it is actually (much like The Blue Lagoon) the exact opposite of that, bizarrely chaste given the material. I kind of want the gross too-sexy version, but maybe we’ll find that in one of the many Step Up sequels in the future.

Roastra-damus – Who What Where When Why How – Definitely a solid Setting as a Character (Where?) for Cuba. Indeed, it is a double dose of Cuba and the temporal setting in that the climax of the film takes place during the Cuban Revolution on January 1, 1959. But that also makes it a Secret Holiday Film (When?) as the original dance competition takes place on Christmas Eve 1958 (at least around then), and the final round of the competition is on New Years’ Eve, and the night in which the Cuban Revolution kicked off. I do think those are the only superlatives it has a chance on. Bet chance on Good in the end.

StreetCreditReport.com – Ended up being named a top 25 worst Sequel ever which is pretty solid cred. Which speaks to the film’s cred in general. It is a not-really-sequel to a pretty beloved cult film. No matter how okay the film was, there was always going to be an impression that it was a disaster. Possibly the worst film set in Cuba ever made? But yeah, as is typically for certain years, the official cred is a little difficult to find.

You Just Got Schooled – Naturally, after watching Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, I was itching to see some more sexy dancing in Cuba. And Michael Mann’s Miami Vice bizarrely fits the bill perfectly. Despite the fact that I find cops-worship films pretty distasteful, there is something incredibly alluring about this film. I think it is because, despite being pretty trashy, the main characters still exude a weird charm. And the vistas and boats are beautiful, and everyone is just pouring sweat throughout the film … it is so fake-real that I can’t look away. Pretty long, and the characters mumble all of their lines, but I still couldn’t help but like it. I don’t know why! Is my brain broken? As promised Colin Ferrell and Gong Li go to Havana to get a Mojito and dance the night away. Ultimately, I think Miami Vice shows why Mann’s career stalled in the mid-00s, and predicts the failure of Public Enemies three years later. B-. Liked it, but I don’t know why.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights Quiz

Oh man, so here’s the thing. I was doing some super-sexy Cuban ballroom dancing with my beau, and then a revolution broke out! I got bopped on the head, the usual, and forgot everything. Do you remember what happened in Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot

1) Katey Miller and her family are moving to Cube in the late-50s on the eve of the Cuban revolution. Why are they moving there?

2) There she meets Javier Suarez who works at the hotel they live at. How do they meet?

3) Katey starts seeing a whole lot more of Javier once they both realize their mutual interest in dance. Why is Katey initially interested in dancing? And why does Javier agree to be her dance partner in the big ballroom dance competition?

4) In order to train for the big competition though Katey needs some alibis. Who provides them and why?

5) Finally the Cuban Revolution breaks out. How is Javier involved in the revolution in such a way that it results in him remaining in Cuba instead of going to America with Katey?

Answers

Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights Preview

Rich and Poe awaken in a world of blinding light. A light snow of ash is falling from the sky. They get up and look around, but they can’t see anything. Just the ash and the light. In front of them are footprints they begin to follow. Suddenly there is a glimmer of a man, a fleeting glimpse of a shadow fleeing. They take chase. They hear a scatter of words through the eerie silence. “Face” A mystery is afoot and they are the only ones that can solve it. “Stop, police!” they yell, but their words feel muted and no matter how they use their lightning-quick speed and muscled physiques they can’t seem to catch up to the figure. “It’s” They suddenly seem woozy, uncoordinated. “For” They are crawling, unable to keep track of where the man could have gone. “Time” The stare silently at the whirling sky of white ash. “Off” The man is above them staring down through a mask. The gamemaster laughs a horrible laugh. “Who?” Rich and Poe mumble. Or are they Jamie and Patrick now? Are they dead? Was the blinding white light, Rich’s quickening, their final moments? The gamemaster stops laughing and begins to take off his mask. Rich and Poe scream silently in horror as the face is revealed to be Nic Cage. Tears slide silently down their faces as Nic Cage slowly shakes his head. The shaking gets faster and faster until it stops revealing John Travola instead… “What?” Rich and Poe ask. They are on their feet. Travolta is in front of them clad in a leisure suit. “This is all just a dream,” he states bluntly, “but it’s no less deadly. You ready? Because when you fight with dance the whole earth is your battlefield… and all time.” That’s right! We’re making the leap from our around the world mapl.de.map cycle to a journey through time (we’re calling it The Past and Future Kings here at BMTHQ). Fortunately for us when they made an ill-advised sequel to Dirty Dancing they decided to set in Cuba during the Cuban Revolution. So let’s get ready for a blast from the past with some straight up filthy dancing to boot. Let’s go!

Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004) – BMeTric: 29.6; Notability: 32 

(Actually a lot higher rated than I thought it would be … something in the back of my mind made me think this was the worst film of 2004 or something. Not only does it eke out a 6.0 on IMDb, but it breaks 20% on Rotten Tomatoes. This might just be one vista away from being okay.)

RogerEbert.com – 2.0 stars – Romola Garai and Diego Luna. You remember him from “Y Tu Mama Tambien,” and here again he has that quirky, winning charm. She is a beauty and a gifted comedian, who played Kate in “Nicholas Nickleby” and was the younger sister, Cassandra, in the wonderful 2003 film “I Capture the Castle.” They must be given credit for their presence and charisma in “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights,” and together with the film’s general ambiance, they do a lot to make amends for the lockstep plot. But here’s an idea: Rent “Y Tu Mama Tambien,” “Nicholas Nickleby” and “I Capture the Castle,” and eliminate the middleman.

(To note, Ebert openly dislikes Dirty Dancing. He gave it one star at the time, and from what I can tell he never bothered to update the rating, despite years of cult status that followed, as he often did. In the review he wonders if he has gone soft. And honestly, while he dances (heyoooo) around it, I think by 2004 he had definitely fully developed his “good for what they are” idea behind popcorn films, which I think is going “soft” in a way. I might be satisfied by vistas and dancing? Ebert, you know me too well.)

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

(Huh the film is vaguely based around a competition at the end eh … this might be one of our best and most direct “secret sports movies” ever. Also there is a multitude of bad dancing films, and we rarely touch on them for whatever reason. Maybe watching this will change our minds. Much like vistas, watching people dance is fun regardless of how terrible the film surrounding the sequence is.)

Directors – Guy Ferland – (Known For: Telling Lies in America; Future BMT: The Babysitter; BMT: Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights; Notes: )

Writers – Kate Gunzinger (story) – (BMT: Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights; Notes: Not much information on her, it seems like she was working with Segal on this at the time.)

Peter Sagal (story) – (BMT: Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights; Notes: He is the host of the very popular radio show What Wait … Don’t Tell Me. He also wrote the Olivier Gruner classic Savage.)

Boaz Yakin (screenplay) – (Known For: Now You See Me; Safe; Fresh; Death in Love; A Price Above Rubies; Future BMT: The Punisher; The Rookie; Now You See Me 2; Boarding School; Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time; Max; BMT: Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights; Notes: His career looks like it was split in half. He was preparing to eventually direct, and was going to get his chance with Batman: Year One in 2005 … but that then became Chistopher Nolan’s Batman Begins. He then got Prince of Persia in 2010, and has been a consistent writer since, including the upcoming Idris Elba film The Harder They Fall.)

Victoria Arch (screenplay) – (Known For: Pali Road; BMT: Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights; Notes: One of the only films she has a writing credit on, but did not direct. Got a Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting.)

Actors – Diego Luna – (Known For: A Rainy Day in New York; Rogue One; If Beale Street Could Talk; The Bad Batch; Y Tu Mamá También; The Terminal; Contraband; Elysium; Blood Father; The Book of Life; Milk; Frida; Open Range; Before Night Falls; Casa de mi Padre; Mister Lonely; Wander Darkly; Rudo y Cursi; Criminal; Nicotina; Future BMT: Vampires: Los Muertos; Berlin, I Love You; Fade to Black; BMT: Flatliners; Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights; Notes: You better believe Luna started his career on a Mexican soap opera! One of his first roles was on El abuelo y yo, although only for three episodes. Interestingly his Y Tu Mamá También costar Gael García Bernal was in 90 episodes of that same show.)

Romola Garai – (Known For: Atonement; The Windermere Children; Scoop; Suffragette; Vanity Fair; Nicholas Nickleby; Amazing Grace; I Capture the Castle; Glorious 39; Inside I’m Dancing; Angel; Renaissance; Junkhearts; Future BMT: The Last Days on Mars; The Other Man; As You Like It; One Day; BMT: Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights; Notes: Was a leading actress around 2003-2005. Born in Hong Kong, she has mostly done BBC mini-series and shows in the last ten years, including The Hour and Emma both of which she was nominated for a Golden Globe.)

Sela Ward – (Known For: Gone Girl; The Day After Tomorrow; The Fugitive; Runaway Bride; Nothing in Common; My Fellow Americans; Future BMT: The Stepfather; 54; Hello Again; The Man Who Loved Women; The Badge; Rustlers’ Rhapsody; BMT: Independence Day: Resurgence; Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights; The Guardian; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Supporting Actress for Independence Day: Resurgence in 2017; Notes: You’d recognize her, she’s a huge television star, she won an Emmy for Once and Again. She was a big TV Movie star in the 80s and 90s, and was one of the stars of CSI: NY and FBI.)

Budget/Gross – $25,000,000 / Domestic: $14,161,590 (Worldwide: $27,685,016)

(Not great. I don’t know what they thought a sequel made 20 years after the original would be good for $50 million? Smells like Hollywood accounting. Doubt it made much money regardless.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 23% (25/108): Cheesy, unnecessary remake.

(Suitably succinct consensus I suppose. One of the big complaints appears to be a lack of chemistry between the leads. That was certainly not a problem in the first film, I tell you what. Reviewer Highlight: The movie, more wan than wicked, proves you can’t go home again. – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone)

Poster – Destination Sequel

(Oh boy. That dancing looks filthy. Shield your eyes! I think it’s getting the job done with an OK color scheme. Not sure why they gave the classic Dirty Dancing font the boot. That’s the one big mistake. B-)

Tagline(s) – Break the rules. Find your freedom. Live your life. (B-)

(This is a tagline classic straight from the Jamie School of Taglines. I mean, talk about arule of three. I wish the three things were better connected, but I appreciate the effort.)

Keyword – cuba

Top 10: Scarface (1983), X: First Class (2011), Die Another Day (2002), GoldenEye (1995), Fast & Furious 8 (2017), Big Fish (2003), Bad Boys II (2003), Original Sin (2001), JFK (1991), Octopussy (1983)

Future BMT: 62.5 Big Fat Important Movie (2008), 48.9 McHale’s Navy (1997), 34.0 Captain Ron (1992), 28.9 Original Sin (2001), 20.5 Live by Night (2016), 19.5 Havana (1990), 16.9 Bad Boys II (2003);

BMT: Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004)

(These graphs always seem to come in such interesting waves. Bad Boys II is probably the most “Cuba” of the remaining films. Things like McHale’s Navy and Captain Ron probably have plot points surrounding it, but they both seem to primarily take place in a more fictional Caribbean.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 17) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: January Jones is No. 6 billed in Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights and No. 3 billed in Seeking Justice, which also stars Nicolas Cage (No. 1 billed) who is in The Wicker Man (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 5 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 6 + 3 + 1 + 1 + 5 + 1 = 17. There is no shorter path at the moment.

Notes – Neither Romola Garai (Katey) nor Diego Luna (Javier) had any professional dance training. Before production began, the two spent ten weeks in Puerto Rico, training for eight hours a day with Producer JoAnn Fregalette Jansen and four additional dancers and choreographers.

The plot is loosely based on the life story of Producer JoAnn Fregalette Jansen, who moved to Cuba with her family in 1958. Thus, the “Based on True Events” title. (Huh, that’s interesting)

The movie was filmed in Puerto Rico, and made to look like Cuba. Most of it was done in the colonial part of San Juan, Old San Juan, a very popular hangout for Puerto Ricans, and a very touristy area. In order to maintain the look and esthetic of the pre-Cuban revolution era, producers secured underground parking places for people that would visit Old San Juan during the shoot, so that there wouldn’t be any modern cars parked in the streets.

Natalie Portman was considered for the role of Katey, and Ricky Martin was considered for the role of Javier. They were both the first choices. (I usually don’t leave casting stuff in the notes because it is sketchy and boring but … Ricky Martin?! If only)

Story Writer Peter Sagal is the same Peter Sagal who hosts the National Public Radio program “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” The script is loosely based on an earlier screenplay that Sagal had written as an original story, not as a Dirty Dancing sequel. (Weird)

Patrick Swayze appeared in this movie as Johnny Castle, since this movie took place in 1958, and Dirty Dancing (1987) took place in 1963. Before the ending credits, a new instrumental version of “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life” can be heard. (Weird to think about … uh, how old was Johnny Castle in Dirty Dancing?)

Rated number eleven in Entertainment Weekly’s Top 25 Worst Sequels Ever Made (2006).

Sanctum Recap

Jamie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patrick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Sanctum Quiz

Oh man, the last thing I remember I was cave diving with my son (natch, all that is definitely true) and I hit my noggin and now I can’t remember a thing! Do you remember what happened in Sanctum?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) Why is our billionaire funder funding this cave diving expedition? 

2) Where did the billionaire meet his adventurous girlfriend? 

3) While discovering St. Jude’s Cathedral, a large new cave system, Jude dies. Josh blames his father. Why? In turn his father suggests that Josh is also somewhat culpable. How?

4) Why couldn’t the group just wait in the Cathedral to be rescues, as is suggested by multiple people?

5) How many people die in the cave? 

Answers

Sanctum Preview

“Woooooo,” scream the gang as they ride Bessy the Giant Alligator through the sewers of the school. There aren’t any rules against water polo playing alligators and there aren’t any rules against having fun either. Suddenly they drop into a dank sanctum deep underground with a wondrous swirling pool of water in the middle. “The portal,” Poe whispers, beholding a link between universes and the object of their quest. “How… how do we destroy it?” asks Rich, but Adrestia sushes him and points to Rich’s chest, “The Devil’s Key. It was inside of you the whole time.” Rad. They all link hands, Rich and Poe readying to destroy the portal, but before they do a slow, sharp crack of applause rings out and sends chills down their spines. Nic Cage and the hooded gamemaster stand behind them. “Excellent,” Nic Cage says with a smile, “you quelled the riots with your silly book. But I’m curious, how did you know that the book would help uncover the larger conspiracy? That the students, inspired by chaste love, would then turn over the football coach for distributing steroids?” Rich and Poe look at each other. The Substitute 3: Winner Takes All… of course. “Yes, very curious indeed,” the game master adds shaking with fury, “and what are you doing here?” Thinking fast Rich and Poe explain that they were just looking for a place to dispose of all those bad steroids. “While rulez are coolz, everyone knows drugz are totally not coolz.” They fist bump and hold their breath. “Excellent,” says Nic Cage beaming. “Now we’re ready for the third challenge,” he says, “and remember, sometimes a good setting can go a long way.” “Oui, de Paris avec amour,” the hooded gamemaster says and kicks Rich and Poe into the portal. That’s right! We’re watching Sanctum. That film that everyone remembers. It’s a perfect transition to the next cycle as not only is it an example of a Deus Ex Machina (according to the internet), but takes place in Papua New Guinea of all places. That fits nicely with the globe-trotting mapl.de.map adventure that is the third leg of our battle for the universe. This time, though, anywhere and anything goes as we try to get some truly ludicrous settings. Let’s go!

Sanctum (2011) – BMeTric: 35.2; Notability: 21 

SanctumIMDb_BMeT

SanctumIMDb_RV

(Ha the 9.7 … I suppose the early views were by underwater filmmaking fanatics? It ended up just under 6 it looks like which is about what I would expect. The notability is a bit higher that I would expect, but then again I bet a bunch of those are famous underwater stuntmen and filmmaking technicians, so perhaps it is understandable. Hard to make an underwater film without people who are good at making underwater films.)

RogerEbert.com – 1.5 stars –  “Sanctum” tells the story of a terrifying adventure in an incompetent way. Some of it is exciting, the ending is involving, and all of it is a poster child for the horrors of 3-D used badly. The film is being heavily marketed as a “James Cameron Production,” but if this were a “James Cameron Film,” I suspect it would have fewer flaws and the use of 3-D would be much improved.

(Big oof. If you look below at the people involved … yeah, it kind of seems like the review nails it on the head. It is very much a story of Cameron asking an underwater filmmaker to make a movie his friend wrote using Australian Soap Opera stars … not really what you want.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBik92hLhAY/

(So dramatic! Probably doesn’t help that I have a long standing fear of deep water … I remember when this came out and thought “yeah, nope, I’m not watching that.” But the siren song of BMT beckons, I must watch to appear the BMT gods.)

Directors – Alister Grierson – (Known For: Kokoda: 39th Battalion; BMT: Sanctum; Notes: Apparently was offered the job while visiting the set of Avatar. I assume Cameron knew him based on his experience with underwater filmmaking.)

Writers – John Garvin (written by) – (BMT: Sanctum; Notes: Was apparently brought on due to his experience with underwater filmmaking.)

Andrew Wight (written by & story) – (BMT: Sanctum; Notes: An accomplished diver, he has been involved in a ton of underwater documentaries. The story is based on an event that happened to him. He sadly died in a helicopter crash in 2012.)

Actors – Rhys Wakefield – (Known For: Bliss; After the Dark; Broken Hill; Shadow Walkers; Nobody Walks; The Black Balloon; Paint It Black; Future BMT: The Purge; War on the Range; Bootmen; BMT: Sanctum; Endless Love; Notes: Started on Home and Away, an Australian Soap Opera. He was in over 300 episodes.)

Allison Cratchley – (BMT: Sanctum; Notes: Australian. She was featured heavily on All Saints, which is a medical drama, and that same Soap Opera Home and Away.)

Christopher James Baker – (Known For: The Purge: Election Year; Serendipity; Ned Kelly; Nim’s Island; Appropriate Behaviour; Kokoda: 39th Battalion; Future BMT: The Condemned; The Duel; Renaissance Man; The Great Raid; BMT: Kangaroo Jack; Sanctum; Notes: Ultimately he’s got a ton of work in television (along with a bunch of bit parts in the movies listed above). He’s going to be featured consistently in the upcoming Stargirl, and was in 7 episodes of Ozark.)

Budget/Gross – $30,000,000 / Domestic: $23,209,310 (Worldwide: $108,609,310)

(Whooooooooo doggy, that is actually kind of a success. I’m actually willing to bet there was no attempt at a follow-up in any capacity because of Cameron. I can imagine him seeing the project as an interesting challenge and then just walking away after it was completed.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 30% (50/167): Sanctum is beautifully photographed, and it makes better use of 3-D technology than most, but that doesn’t make up for its ham-handed script and lifeless cast.

(This all seems incredibly consistent. A beautiful film with cardboard cutouts as a cast and a terrible script written by someone who isn’t a screenwriter … what did you expect? Reviewer Highlight: Sometimes the sets look like, well, Styrofoam. So do the actors. – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone.)

Poster – Sanctum? Damn Near Drowned ‘Em

sanctum

(This is actually an exciting poster. You got cave diving and an interesting layout, with nice color and at least a little playfulness with the font. Overall I enjoy this. It’s nicely made. A; Patrick’s Shallow Fake: I didn’t really work too hard on the face this time, just kind of popped it in and colored it. The thing I really proud about it mimicking the font pretty well. It makes me think I might have the skillz to mimic basically any font in the future, which is rather helpful when I want to just write some ridiculous title onto a poster.)

Tagline(s) – The only way out is down (A)

(I also enjoy this tagline. It’s an unexpected twist and kinda gives you a sense of the film itself. Makes your breath catch a little to think that you would be diving and you think of the disorientation of having to dive further and further down to make your way out. I like it.)

Keyword – scuba diving

Sanctum_scuba diving

Top 10: Inception (2010), Licence to Kill (1989), Never Say Never Again (1983), Finding Nemo (2003), Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), Charlie’s Angels (2000), Fool’s Gold (2008), The Italian Job (2003), Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation (2018), The Abyss (1989)

Future BMT: 63.0 Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie (1997), 59.1 The Cave (2005), 55.1 Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home (1995), 39.4 Into the Blue (2005), 38.2 Masterminds (2016), 33.6 Along Came Polly (2004), 33.2 Sahara (2005), 22.8 After the Sunset (2004), 18.4 Act of Valor (2012);

BMT: Fool’s Gold (2008), Mechanic: Resurrection (2016), Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003), Ghost Ship (2002), Jaws 3-D (1983), Sanctum (2011), The Medallion (2003)

(Let’s see. Free Will 2 seems exciting, I very much want to watch that for some reason. Pretty consistent over the years. I wonder if the drop off has to do with HD documentaries becoming more available, and also travel itself getting cheaper over time. So that wide release films featuring diving are no longer needed nor seen as a novelty.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 21) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Richard Roxburgh is No. 2 billed in Sanctum and No. 5 billed in Stealth, which also stars Jessica Biel (No. 2 billed) who is in Valentine’s Day (No. 2 billed), which also stars Jessica Alba (No. 1 billed) who is in Mechanic: Resurrection (No. 2 billed), which also stars Jason Statham (No. 1 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Seige Tale (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 4 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 2 + 5 + 2 + 2 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 1 + 4 + 1 = 21. If we were to watch King Arthur, and Killer Elite we can get the HoE Number down to 13.

Notes – Ioan Gruffudd performed his own base jump stunt, which he described as his favorite part of the shoot. (That is extremely dangerous. So dangerous in fact that I don’t really believe it)

Ioan Gruffudd was the only member of the cast to be a fully qualified diver before the film began shooting. (Oh, so maybe he was already kind of qualified to base jump?)

In an unfortunate coincidence, Agnes Milowka, one of the film’s diving doubles, drowned after running out of air shortly after the film was released. (I have a feeling a bunch of the cave diving stunt people had their lives cut short)

Having trained in a diving center to prepare for his role, Richard Roxburgh claimed that the hardest thing to master was the rebreather, which he described as “fantastic in theory, but a torture in real life”.

Richard Roxburgh said that despite the on-set security, he feared for his life several times during the shoot.

The film used a tank containing seven million liters of water for its underwater scenes.

Originally the production seriously considered shooting in real underground caves. However, the practicalities of lugging all the equipment into such tight, confined spaces – not to mention the freezing cold temperatures of the water within the caves – soon precluded that.

At one point Richard Roxburgh asked the art department if they could lighten the load of the pack that he has to carry for most of the film. The next morning they presented him with the reduced weight pack, telling him that they’d managed to take 2 kgs off the total weight. Of course, they hadn’t bothered doing anything at all but Roxburgh was convinced that they had.

All the underwater sequences were shot in a large water tank at the Village Roadshow Studios in Queensland, Australia.

As of March 2011, the 10th biggest grossing Australian film at the international box office. (That is an absurd fact)

Production designer Nicholas McCallum built the caves in concrete, so that they wouldn’t move while the actors were climbing them, and so that they could be reused for underwater scenes. Once scenes with one setting were wrapped, the cave parts would be put in a water tank for the diving scenes.

Director Alister Grierson and cinematographer Jules O’Loughlin had no experience with 3D prior to working on this film. Thus, they had learn how to light the scenes, use the stereoscopic space and manipulate the cameras from scratch.

Production designer Nicholas McCallum built a 14 meter high underwater fall for the film, which propelled 20000 liters of water per minute.

Universal and Relativity paid $12 million for the rights to distribute the film internationally.

Director Alister Grierson contracted pneumonia during the shoot.

The cave itself was based on the Cheve/Chaco/etc expeditions in the Yucatan, and the father character was based on Bill Stone, the caver/diver who was instrumental in those expeditions as well as in the invention of the re-breather.

John Garvin was chosen as co-writer by James Cameron and Andrew Wight due to his considerable experience as an accomplished diver. Moreover, Garvin wrote the role of Jim Sergeant with himself in mind, hoping Alister Grierson would let him play it.

To complement the tank shoot, the production headed into the wild. Caver and producer Andrew Wight said: “We also filmed in real caves in South Australia’s cave-diving region around Mount Gambier. Filming in the limestone, water-filled caves added a scale and an authenticity to the tank shoot at the studio.”

Based on the true story of co-writer Andrew Wight. He once went cave diving under the Nullarbor plain with fourteen other people. An unexpected storm made the cave’s entrance collapse and they spent two days looking for another way out. Unlike in the film however, a rescue was organized and everybody survived. Wight told his frequent collaborator and fellow diving enthusiast James Cameron the story in 2006, who decided they should get a director and make a film about it. (Jesus, that’s pretty scary)

The Odd Couple II Recap

Jamie

Felix and Oscar are back, Jack! And boy are they an odd couple. Thirty years after becoming antagonistic roommates (and yet still friends, aww) they are reunited when their children announce their engagement. Traveling together to the wedding they just can’t seem to keep out of trouble. Will they make the wedding before it’s too late? Find out in The Odd Couple II.

How?! Oscar Madison is living it up in Florida, still a slob and still killing it with the ladies. When his son announces that he’s getting married in just a week, Oscar is shocked to find out that the lucky lady is his friend Felix Unger’s daughter. They meet up in California after thirty long years and start their roadtrip off on all the wrong feet. First Oscar loses Felix’s luggage, then Oscar loses the directions to the wedding, and finally they accidentally destroy their rental car. They get picked up by a truck driving to the nearest town, but in a kooky happenstance get arrested when it’s found that the truck is being used for smuggling. Released by the police, they first live it up with a couple of party girls before catching a ride in an excruciatingly slow car driven by an extremely old man. The old man dies, of course, and Felix and Oscar find themselves arrested again (getting the gist of the gag here?). Released again they catch a bus, but get stopped when the husbands of the party girls take them off the bus by gunpoint. This of course ends with them getting arrested again (of course). Fed up, the police personally drive them to the airport where they catch a plane to the wedding and meet up with Oscar’s ex-sister-in-law, Felice, who Felix takes a liking to. Finally at the wedding they help douse some last minute drama and happily watch their children get married. They say goodbye at the airport, with Oscar going back to Florida and Felix going to stay with Felice. But in a shocking twist we find that this all doesn’t work out and Felix shows up in Florida asking to stay with Oscar. At first he’s like “no” but eventually is like “yes.” Thus setting us up for the sequel (or not). THE END.

Why?! Unlike the original there is a clear mission here: they need to get to the wedding. End of story. In the original we have a sitcom setup, but really the motivation for both Oscar and Felix is to come to terms with their divorces and move on with their lives in a healthy way (which they do through the power of friendship, aww). But here they aren’t really coming to terms with anything… other than getting to that goddamn wedding.

Who?! This is actually a tough category as it’s a bit of a two man show. The only kinda interesting thing is that both Felix and Oscar’s wives have remarried between the first and second film. Felix’s wife’s new name is Povitch… which I can’t really see a connection to. Oscar’s wife’s new name is Melnick, which does seem to connect to Daniel Melnick, a producer who produced one of Neil Simon’s films and also apparently played poker with him.

What?! There are a number of product placements in the film. Probably my favorite was Budget, because they not only very prominently displayed the logo, but then Oscar proceeded to keep on talking about how Budget would probably send Felix his luggage in the new age of technology… in my head he screams about Budget like a thousand times, but probably he only said it once or twice.

Where?! It’s a California sandwich with Florida as the bread. It’s a very good California film because they keep on harping on how all the towns sound the same and how they need to learn a new language if they lived there and stuff. This is obviously offensive, but also interesting because Oscar lives in a retirement community in Florida. So really it just indicates how infrequently he must leave that community in order to be shocked by the prominence of Spanish in California. B+

When?! Gotta give this an F or an incomplete because I do not recall there being a clear indication for when this took place. Seems like summer given the weather and the fact that Matthau is writing about minor league baseball in Florida, but I didn’t catch any other clear indication of the date. Not like we see a wedding invitation. His own son only tells him about the wedding a week in advance.

Meh, I mean… I guess it is what it is. It’s kind of a shame that this was the sequel they went with. I almost would have preferred they scrapped all the wedding shit and just did another Odd Couple. Felix shows up in Florida after his fourth divorce. Oscar is coming to terms with being old. And through the power of friendship they are able to settle into their new lives. Somehow the film convinced me that I would have rather they harped MORE on them being old. Like… them being old is actually not really that big a part of the film. Which is really weird because they are quite old. Also if I hadn’t watched the original film in preparation (shocker: it’s good) then I would have said that Walter Matthau was just starting to babble a bit because most of his jokes seem improvised and don’t make any sense… but he’s kinda like that in the original too. Just seems like maybe it was part of his cranky, everyman charm. Spouting zingers, even if the zingers don’t always make sense. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! If I made this movie I would call it The Old Couple. Heyyyyyyooooooooooooooooooooooo!!! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I had actually never seen the original The Odd Couple, but you can obviously know it by reputation. I managed to grow up during the peak old-people-as-protagonist era of Hollywood comedies, so I became quite familiar with Matthau and Lemmon’s later work. I like them both a lot, so I expected to like the original at the very least. What were my expectations? I expected to find the film very old school, not funny, and odd. It is abundantly obviously the film is a classic roadtrip comedy … but like why is The Odd Couple a roadtrip comedy now? Bizarre choice.

The Good – Matthau and Lemmon are indeed very very charming. You can tell that both of them are really on their last legs as far as acting is concerned, but they still seem to have it and their chemistry is undeniable. There are a few amusing parts here and there, especially if you ignore that it is, you know … a sequel to The Odd Couple for no discernible reason.

The Bad – Uh, why is this a roadtrip comedy? It is just such a glaringly bizarre choice! The original film might as well have been a single set play. And now you take these characters out into the wider world? And not only that, but the world is somehow a very cartoony version of California. A version of California where not only are our heroes utterly lost in its wide openness, but then can’t help but stumble right back into the same town over and over again? Just set the film in an old folks home! Just set the film in Florida. Really, just do anything but this. It also has to be, bar none, the shortest third act in history. Once they get to the wedding it is about 10 minutes of nonsense and then the movie ends.

The BMT – Pop it in there with some of the bad sequels we watched. I also hope it’ll get us to run through the old-people-as-protagonists genre really quickly. There are only a dozen or so examples, with only a few qualifying, so it should be easy enough. Cocoon: The Return here we come! Did it meet my expectations? Unfortunately yes. The only real thing that sinks the film is the choice to make it a roadtrip comedy. I bet it gets a kind of middling “not very funny, but charming nonetheless” review if it was just The Odd Couple in a nursing home.

Roast-radamus – I do need to give a shout out for What an Odd Couple! (Who?) as this is obviously the oddest of all odd couples. A nice minor Product Placement (What?) for Budget rent-a-car which is basically a character in the beginning of the film. Definitely a nice Setting as a Character (Where?) for California. It is so crazy it just throws our heroes for a loop over and over again. I’m not going for any of the others as they are too much of a stretch. I also doubt it’ll get any of the superlatives either.

StreetCreditReport.com – It was nominated for two Stinkers that year (worst sequel, and worst comedy), but won neither. It was also picked by Siskel and Ebert for their worst of list of 1998. There aren’t many other lists, but it could just be the worst sequel to a movie based on a play that itself was not based on a play. Think about that for about ten seconds.

You Just Got Schooled – Naturally when watching the sequel one must watch the original The Odd Couple from 1968. The film is completely driven by Matthau and Lemmon obviously, and their chemistry is, like with the sequel, incredible. The script is razor sharp and surprisingly heartfelt throughout. The major complaint is that the arguments are a little too real, to the point that it makes me a bit uncomfortable at times. Also, it is a bit shocking to realize that this film came out a year after The Graduate. The type of direction is just so starkly different. This is the more old school stage play style of filmmaking, which is interesting to watch on the verge of the 70s style that was about to come into style. The film is a classic. A.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs