Supernova Recap

Jamie

Nick Vanzant is a recovering addict with a new job as the co-captain of a hospital ship. When a distress signal comes from deep space they make the jump but disaster strikes. It goes from bad to worse when the man they have come to rescue, Karl, turns out to be a psycho. Can they stop Karl and avert universal destruction before it’s too late? Find out in… Supernova.

How?! Nick is a former military pilot with a dark past. Recovering from addiction, he’s taken a post as co-captain of a hospital ship used for deep space rescue headed by Dr. Kaela Evers. A distress signal comes in, but some on board recognize the name and are worried. They make the dimension jump anyway, but the captain’s safety equipment malfunctions during the trip and he is killed. Now in charge, Nick determines that they have just enough time to gather fuel and jump back to safety before crashing into a nearby blue giant star. This would all make for a very boring movie, but luckily for the viewer, and unlucky for them, the man who sent the distress signal crashes on board the ship to spice things up. That’s because he turns out to be a creepy young man, Karl, who snuck aboard a container filled with multi-dimensional matter. One of the crew comes in contact with it and all of a sudden is made younger, faster, and stronger. Nick is concerned and upon further analysis they find that the artifact is a universal bomb meant to destroy civilizations with the gall to open it. Nick goes down to the nearby mining planet to try to find fuel, but is stranded there by Karl, who proceeds to kill everyone with his big multi-dimensional muscles and try to woo Kaele, his former lover from before he got all young and hot again using the alien machine. Can’t stop Nick, though, as he comes back and is able to subdue and trick Karl just long enough to eject him and the artifact into the blue giant. He and Kaela jump back to Earth just in time and learn two things. One, she’s pregnant (from them boning? Maybe. From them dimension-jumping together? Also maybe). Two, the artifact exploded and it’s just a matter of time before it reaches Earth. Am I smelling a sequel? (Hint: I’m not). THE END.

Why?! For most of the film they are just doing their job. They are a hospital ship, they get a distress signal, and regardless of their hesitancy due to the source of the signal they come to the rescue. Once disaster strikes it’s just a matter of survival. Karl’s motivation also seems rather simple. He’s a psycho, he’s always been a psycho, and now he’s under the control of an alien artifact that makes it so his psychotic tendencies could lead to the destruction of the universe. Very cool, Karl.

Who?! As mentioned, this is one of the very very few BMT qualifying films where the director (here Walter Hill) decided to go under a pseudonym. Not Alan Smithee, that was already played out, but Thomas Lee. While Patrick already notes that this will complete the pseudonymous directors for BMT proper, I will note that we will certainly get another as a Bring a Friend with Birds II: Land’s End. 

What?! The alien artifact here is almost certainly a MacGuffin. Even more so that in the other Hellraiser in Space, Event Horizon. This is legit a little glowy pod that everyone is like “woah, this is super powerful and everyone will want it and it can do crazy damage and also make people younger and also contains ninth-dimensional matter.” And then everyone fights over it for an hour. Classic MacGuffin.

Where?! I do believe this is set entirely in deep space. At no point are we really ever sure of where they are except perhaps at the end when I think they jump close to Earth. This is through and through a space movie and nothing else. But that still means something as that setting is super necessary to the plot. A.

When?! Everywhere you look talks about how this was set in the early years of the 22nd century. I don’t necessarily recall how that is know besides maybe context clues (or maybe the presumption that it occurs about 100 years after present day), but I just gotta trust it. I’ll give it a B.

This was a hard film for me to assess. On first blush, I was surprised to see that this film was entirely disowned by the director(s). It had a dark, interesting style with some special effects that were impressive. The plot of coherent, with only a few parts where you could see the heavy post-production work show through (most notably a random sex scene between Nick and Kaela, which really confuses the pregnancy aspect of the end of the film). The last part of the film is not good and starts to veer into Lost in Space territory, with a final battle that just looks silly. But would I have guessed that the movie was considered a well-known disaster? Not really. The second half is straight-up bad and the whole thing is a little too self-serious to have fun with, but otherwise there were things I liked. Would I recommend it? Deary me, no. But it was more of a standard bad movie than I expected, given the reputation. Could it be one of those Ishtar type cases where the drama of the production ended up coloring the reviews at the time? Don’t know, but that’s my impression. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! We’re going back to outer space and dabbling in Black Holes with Supernova. More like Superdupernova, amirite? Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – This film and Event Horizon were always confused in my mind. I could never really remember which was the horror film I found spooky scary, so I avoided both in the end. This isn’t a horror film though, it is a thriller that ended up being a mess and the director disowned it. A few fun facts in the preview though, like how the reshoots were performed by Francis Ford Coppola. That’s fun. What were my expectations? For this film to be cut to shit. Well and truly just butchered in the editing room. It was abandoned by its director and reshot twice … surely the film cannot be remotely coherent.

The Good – For the first half of the film the style, and in particular the sets, are extremely interesting. Like, I was intrigued by the storyline, and the deep space travel, etc. I was also surprised by Spader. I mostly know Spader by his later work, in particular his short stint on The Office, and his speaking style and mannerisms come across as really weird out of context. Seeing that same speaking style coming out of a very young and svelte Spader was jarring, but I couldn’t help but wonder how he didn’t become a major leading man in the early 00s instead of dropping into television. He was quite good. Best Bit: Spader.

The Bad – The film does completely fall apart in the second half. By the end of the film the ship ends up looking like Jason X due to the sheer silliness of what is happening within it … Somehow I liked the ship’s design in the first half, and then ended up feeling lost within a silly set in the second half. It was a weird feeling. The rest of the cast (in particular Peter Facinelli) were quite poor. And while the idea of the film is fine, the ultimate wishy-washy “welp … maybe Earth is going to be destroyed in 250 years … see you later!” ending didn’t help with the feeling that you were seeing only part of a film. Finally, for a thriller it was distinctly non-thrilling. It would have been better served just leaning heavily into horror. Fatal Flaw: Over-edited Nightmare.

The BMT – I think we’ve now completed a pretty solid stable of bad outer space films, and while this is mostly upper mid-table in badness, it still is an interesting note. Probably most notable as a Smithee film. This is, in fact, only the second BMT film where the director used a pseudonym … that sounds crazy, but I think it is because not very many wide release films get disowned in the end. Are there even any others available … let me do the analysis … Yeah, we have now completed all of the disowned BMT films available! Just Visiting and Stealing Home have people with pseudonyms, but I think that was for other reasons, and An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn wasn’t actually released widely. Kind of incredible. That genuinely means Hellraiser: Bloodline was the only (bad) Alan Smithee film ever released widely to theaters. That is insane! Did it meet my expectations? I think so, just for that early 00s shiny spaceship look and Spader being Spader I think it ended up being a pretty funny film to watch.

Roast-radamus – Unfortunately the setting and time period is a bit too vague to actually get any awards I think. Definitely love the MacGuffin (Why?) though for the alien nuclear bomb, and Worst Twist (How?) for the magic alien technology being said bomb designed to kill off other intelligent life in the universe. I think this is easily closest to BMT for the superlatives.

StreetCreditReport.com – The issue with finding lists for films from the 2000s is that you end up finding “worst films of the 00s in total” lists. I couldn’t find it on any of those. I do think this would give “worst black hole / supernova films” lists a run for their money. And I think it could even get to worst space films as well. But it definitely ends up on a short list of non-Smithee disowned films. Walter Hill hates this film. Now that’s some cred!

You Just Got Schooled – The wikipedia article for Supernova noted similarities with this film and the TV movie Alien Cargo! Obviously, I had to complete the trilogy (alongside Event Horizon). Debuting on January 28th, 1999 on UPN’s Movie of the Week (!) the film is actually kind of okay? Cheap looking, but the storyline of a space cargo ship drifting away from the solar system after parts of the crew kill each other in inexplicable anger is actually pretty neat (and indeed, quite similar to Supernova). In the end it turns out the Alien Cargo is a trap likely deployed by a sinister alien race who were attempting to use it to infect and destroy humanity. The most interesting bit is the methods by which Jason London (star of last week’s schooling film The Man in the Moon) helps save the sleeping crew of his cargo ship. C. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you are ready to watch an old UPN movie of the week. But also you can almost definitely do worse.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Supernova Quiz

Man, the last thing I remember we brought the random dude on our spaceship and he had this gnarly looking crystal. I was ready to dump it, but before I knew what was happening the guy became a super sexy monster man and bopped me on the head, and now I don’t remember a thing. Do you remember what happened in Supernova?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) We only see the actual captain of the Nightingale 229 briefly at the beginning where we see him preparing to get his PhD. What is the subject of his PhD?

2) Spader is revealed to be really over-qualified to be involved with a deep space rescue ship. Why did he choose to join the crew on their current mission?

3) Who else is on the crew and what are their positions?

4) Explain in your own words what the alien artifact actually is and what the supposed intention of it was.

5) In the end the bomb is ejected. What is the consequence of this action as explained in voice over?

Answers

Supernova Preview

We flash back to the year 2000….

Rich and Poe were just a couple of rad dudez. They got their bubblegum a-poppin’, their cargo shorts a-baggin’, and their frosted tips a-glistenin’. Despite the heat of the bayou they are rocking their dopest threads: matching denim jackets. The world is their oyster and they are on a mission with their two best friends, Ernie and Jellyroll. A mission for love. That’s right, the big L-O-V-E. That’s because the megahit sensation B*Witched is coming through Rabideaux and they just gotta score some tix. “Man, think about it, four of them, four of us. It’s destiny!” Young Rich exclaims excitedly. Jellyroll laughs nervously while eating a candy bar and Ernie trips on a root, nearly breaking his glasses. Young Poe rolls his eyes, but he’s also excited. B*Witched is in town and love is in the air. “Rich?” he asks, “how do you think I’ll know when I’m in love?” Young Rich puts his arm around his buddy and lays it out there. “First you’ll feel like a spooky ghost has possessed you,” he says. Ernie and Jellyroll gape in disbelief. “Then you’ll sweat all over like you just scored a winning touchdown,” Young Poe nods in understanding. “Finally,” Young Rich pronounces, “you’ll woo her with your most bodacious dance move. If she doesn’t like it, then you’ll know she’s not the one.” At that Jellyroll proceeds to pull up his shirt and do his patented Jellyroll Bellyroll and they laugh and laugh. 

Poe closes his diary ready to bust a move. Unfortunately, while he was reading the puzzle box went from a portal to a full blown supernova. And Rich and his robot loves are nowhere to be seen! That can’t be a good sign. That’s right! We’re watching Supernova starring James Spader. It’s basically Hellraiser in space… wait, didn’t we just watch this? No? But I could’ve sworn… Let’s go!

Supernova (2000) – BMeTric: 58.0; Notability: 51 

(Impressively low rating there, you might think this is the kind of film which would get a cult following, but clearly the film is bad enough that that isn’t happening. Also this is, I think, the first 50+ notability film in a long while. Turns out that is rare. I should do a full analysis again for all qualifying films … actually, you know what I’m going to go do that right now … alright, 25% of BMT films are above 50 notability and around 21% of all qualified films fit the bill. So you’d kind of expect that at least a fifth of 2020 films would have 50+. This is the sixth of the year which is just about right (17%, so a little below expectations), although I was also right, this is the first 50+ film since April so it has been over three months straight of smaller films. Well, that was fun, good talk.)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars –  Alan Smithee gets competition that neither he nor the industry needs; [Thomas] Lee is a pseudonym for director Walter Hill, who took his name off this costly but listlessly derivative space adventure. Story deals with a hospital ship rescuing a battered freighter that has sent out a distress call in “black hole” territory. Spader and Phillips are so pumped up that you wonder where they’re getting the celestial weightroom time.

(Huh, this is in actuality one of only like five or six major films to use a non-Smithee pseudonym in the brief moment around 2000 where people decided that the Smithee pseudonym had been played out. Weird that the sole complaint here is that it is derivative.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUdy0Cu3f_o/

(Holy shit the music … is this real life? This is apparently the “infamous” trailer in which the film is cut to suggest it is a comedy. It is not. It is a thriller mostly. It is actually not funny at all.)

Directors – Walter Hill – (Known For: The Warriors; 48 Hrs.; Streets of Fire; Bullet to the Head; Red Heat; Southern Comfort; Crossroads; Geronimo: An American Legend; Undisputed; The Driver; The Long Riders; The Streetfighter; Extreme Prejudice; Johnny Handsome; Trespass; Future BMT: Tomboy; Last Man Standing; Brewster’s Millions; BMT: Supernova; Another 48 Hrs.; Wild Bill; Razzie Notes: ; Notes: Went by Thomas Lee, which is a rare non-Smithee pseudonym by a director who disowned their films. Originally attached to Geoffrey Wright, then reshot by Jack Sholder, and re-edited by Francis Ford Coppola, apparently little of Hill’s work actually appears in the theatrical cut.)

Writers – William Malone (story) – (BMT: Universal Soldier: The Return; Supernova; Notes: Mostly a television director, he directed House on Haunted Hill in 1999. Originally pitched in 1990 as Dead Space, that timeline makes a bit more sense as a Hellraiser in Space concept.)

Daniel Chuba (story) – (Known For: Big Fish & Begonia; BMT: Supernova; Notes:  Founded Hammerhead Productions in 1992 which has worked on visual effects for over 100 films. Studied painting at the University of Michigan.)

David C. Wilson (screenplay) (as David Campbell Wilson) – (Known For: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.; The Perfect Weapon; BMT: Supernova; Notes: The Perfect Weapon is a fun one, a starring vehicle for the little-known martial artist Jeff Speakman. Was also directed by one of the directors of Kickboxer. Just wild stuff.)

Actors – James Spader – (Known For: Avengers: Age of Ultron; Pretty in Pink; Stargate; Secretary; Lincoln; Crash; 2 Days in the Valley; Wall Street; Wolf; Sex, Lies, and Videotape; The Homesman; Less Than Zero; White Palace; Shorts; Baby Boom; Dream Lover; Bad Influence; Bob Roberts; Jack’s Back; The Rachel Papers; Future BMT: The Watcher; Mannequin; Keys to Tulsa; Tuff Turf; BMT: Supernova; Endless Love; Notes: He was a genuine movie star in the 90s although he is now more known for his many starring television roles (Boston Legal and The Blacklist most notably). He’s won three Emmys for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series.)

Peter Facinelli – (Known For: Twilight; The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2; The Twilight Saga: Eclipse; Can’t Hardly Wait; The Scorpion King; Riding in Cars with Boys; Hitman Redemption; Walter; The Big Kahuna; Dancer, Texas Pop. 81; Future BMT: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1; Gallows Hill; Running with the Devil; Freezer; Finding Amanda; The Wilde Wedding; Foxfire; Loosies; Telling You; BMT: The Twilight Saga: New Moon; Supernova; Countdown; Notes: Seems to do mostly guest spots on television shows and supporting roles on non-theatrical releases these days. Was the asshole boyfriend in Can’t Hardly Wait. Was married to Jennie Garth aka Kelly from 90210.)

Robin Tunney – (Known For: Horse Girl; The Craft; Hollywoodland; Vertical Limit; Monster Party; The Secret Lives of Dentists; Niagara, Niagara; Future BMT: Looking Glass; End of Days; Encino Man; The In-Laws; The Zodiac; Paparazzi; August; The Darwin Awards; Empire Records; The Burning Plain; My All-American; BMT: Supernova; Notes: Probably most well known now for her starring role in The Mentalist. She was also in the first (and only good) season of Prison Break.)

Budget/Gross – $90,000,000 / Domestic: $14,230,455 (Worldwide: $14,828,081)

(Holy shit that is catastrophic. I can’t remember the last time I saw a return that negative … I would usually make a joke about Supernova 2: Origins or something, but that genuinely makes me sad.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 10% (6/61): This is an insult to the Sci-fi genre with no excitement and bad FX.

(Yep, basically everyone is quite perplexed by how dull the film is, and how it manages to say a whole lot of nothing for the entirety of the runtime. Reviewer Highlight: Appears headed for a deep-space rendezvous with audience indifference. – Godfrey Cheshire, Variety)

Poster – Super Duper Nova

(Egad, that’s like… well, like I made it. It’s terrible. I like the blue and I like that they went kooky with the font (almost too kooky, I thought for a second they had misspelled January, but the font was just confusing me). But there is A LOT going on here and most of it is not good. Feels like a poster for a film that they gave up on. C)

Tagline(s) – All hell is about to break loose (D)

(I feel like I do have to start being harsher for taglines like this. Sure it’s short and tells me about the film… but also, it’s generic and shows a real lack of creativity. There was no value added.)

Keyword – outer space

Top 10: Avengers: Endgame (2019), Interstellar (2014), Ad Astra (2019), Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019), Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Spaceballs (1987), SpaceCamp (1986), Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Future BMT: 68.7 Supergirl (1984), 66.8 Thunderbirds (2004), 63.9 Underdog (2007), 59.6 Virus (1999), 59.2 Space Chimps (2008), 58.7 Apollo 18 (2011), 58.2 Deck the Halls (2006), 56.9 Suburban Commando (1991), 55.0 Coneheads (1993), 53.6 Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie (1995);

BMT: Battlefield Earth (2000), X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019), Event Horizon (1997), Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), Armageddon (1998), Transformers: The Last Knight (2017), The Predator (2018), Independence Day: Resurgence (2016), Masters of the Universe (1987), Jupiter Ascending (2015), Geostorm (2017), Gods of Egypt (2016), Howard: A New Breed of Hero (1986), Battleship (2012), Doom (2005), Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), After Earth (2013), The Space Between Us (2017), The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008), Lost in Space (1998), Jason X (2001), Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987), Mac and Me (1988), Soldier (1998), Ghosts of Mars (2001), Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989), Highlander II: The Quickening (1991), Species II (1998), Supernova (2000), Hellraiser IV: Bloodline (1996), Pluto Nash (2002), Critters 2 (1988), Wing Commander (1999)

(I think somewhere around Empire Strikes Back people started realizing they couldn’t halfass space films anymore, and then somewhere around 1996 people thought “hey … can we do these things on the cheap with CGI now?”. Otherwise the graphic seems to state the obvious: people like space films. I can’t wait to watch Virus, it has been on the BMT shortlist for ages.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 18) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Robert Forster is No. 3 billed in Supernova and No. 8 billed in Firewall, which also stars Harrison Ford (No. 1 billed) who is in Hollywood Homicide (No. 1 billed), which also stars Josh Hartnett (No. 2 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 3 billed) => 3 + 8 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 3 = 18. If we were to watch The Black Dahlia we can get the HoE Number down to 15.

Notes – Walter Hill said in interview some years after the movie was released that his version was much darker, had a very different setup and that the ending was much different from the final cut. He also expressed strong dislike for the way studio ruined the movie but he said that James Spader did a great job with his role.

Four different endings were filmed.

This was the first post-Alan Smithee film. For many years, a director who for whatever reason wished not to be credited for a movie and disassociate themselves from it, would have their name replaced with the fake name “Alan Smithee”. After the film An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn (1997), the name was too well known, and so the Director’s Guild of America decided to replace the name “Alan Smithee” with the name “Thomas Lee”. (They would eventually return to Smithee, probably because they realized people would figure out it was a pseudonym regardless due to the trades)

According to Walter Hill, problems began when he did a rewrite of the script, not knowing that the president of United Artists (Lindsay Doran) was very attached to the script. He also said that the budget of the film was cut halfway through production.

Tommy Malone originally pitched the film in 1990. He envisioned it as a modestly budgeted film which would cost around $5-6 million and be like “Dead Calm (1989) in space”. (Wait a tick … on Wikipedia it says he pitched it as Dead Calm in space! Now that makes a whole lot more sense, because that is what is mentioned on TV Tropes when I tried to figure out a horror corollary! I was supremely confused by the Hellraiser bit while watching the film).

Many promotional stills show lots of deleted scenes which were not included in deleted scenes section on the DVD and Blu-Ray releases of the movie. These include; * Kaela and Danika dressing up the Flyboy robot. * Nick investigating the Titan mining colony and more areas of it. * Nick finding more cocooned dead bodies of miners and examining them. * Karl’s original monster-like look.

The original script was about a space expedition that discovers artefacts from an alien civilisation and brings them back to Earth; one of the artefacts unleashes an evil force. Tommy Malone and producer Ash R. Shah asked H.R. Giger to produce some conceptual sketches to help promote the script. (Now that sounds like Hellraiser in space. I wonder if they changed it up a bit once Giger produced the drawings.)

The infamous theatrical trailer, featuring songs “Fly” by Sugar Ray and “Momma Told Me Not To Come” by Three Dog Night, shows many alternate takes of some scenes, extended versions of some others, parts of few deleted scenes including the one where Nick finds real Troy on the Titan moon turned into fetus and Troy begging Nick to help him, and couple shots of original ending where Karl is killed by dimensional jump. (It is insane!)

The film takes place in 2101.

Due to the troubled production, James Spader disowned the film and expressed his regret in participating, citing this film as the one in his career that people should avoid.

Walter Hill, having grown frustrated with the studio interference, walked out of the film production midway and refused to be involved with the reshoots. Francis Ford Coppola stepped in to direct some reshoots before he also walked out, and Jack Sholder came aboard to finish directing the reshoots and oversee the final edit. The latter two remained uncredited as directors, with Hill receiving sole director’s credit under the pseudonym “Thomas Lee.”

Originally, main villain Karl transformed into a demon-like monster during the final part of the movie. Although much time and effort was spent on special make up effects for these scenes, MGM decided that they didn’t like that because they “couldn’t see the actor”, so all the creature footage was cut and re-shot with Karl being only partially transformed in the final cut.

Dialogue by ship’s computer Sweetie in theatrical ending where it tells Nick and Kaela that Supernova will either destroy Earth or make it and humankind better and that Kaela is pregnant was added later in post production during one of the re-editings of the movie, most probably during the one supervised by Francis Ford Coppola. Original dialogue only said that Supernova will destroy Earth in 257 years and that it’s unstoppable. (That is a wild ending)

The Darkest Hour (2011) Recap

Jamie

Sean and Ben are aspiring tech bros traveling to Moscow to sell their new social media app. Unfortunately while getting their tech stolen there is also an alien invasion and they must fight for their lives (along with a few other lucky survivors). Can they learn how to beat the seemingly invincible aliens (and maybe find love) before it’s too late? Find out in… The Darkest Hour.

How?! Sean and Ben are totes ready to expand their big new social media travel app (that hopefully will also help them snag some chicks… tight) to Russia. Despite having a fully functional app with actual users, they still manage to get their app entirely stolen by the Russian company somehow. Despondent they head to a rad Moscow bar where they meet up with some hot chicks, Natalie and Anne, using their (or not, I guess) app. Drinking their worries away, they have a great time until some glowy orange things start to descend from the sky. Everyone is like, ‘cooool’, that is until the glowy things start disintegrating people. Hiding for several days, they manage to evade the initial onslaught along with the Swedish dude who stole their app (what a coincidence!). Creeping around Moscow they come to realize that the aliens are totally invisible (except that they make electrical equipment go wild when their energy field touches them) and can’t see through glass. This knowledge allows them to make it to the American embassy where they realize that there has been a global invasion and a submarine rescue is planned for survivors. At that point they start getting picked off one-by-one as they meet up with a crazy inventor survivor, who has a theory on how to kill the aliums, and start to make their way to the submarine. They get rescued by a survivalist militia who agree to help them. On the way Ben is killed and Natalie is separated from the group. Sean begs for help to save her and with the help of the submariners are able to figure out how to start killing the aliens. In a climactic battle they are able to take out a number of the baddies and save Natalie. The survivalists vow to use the knowledge in the new war against the aliens and Sean and Natalie head off into the sunset on their submarine dream machine. THE END.

Why?! Survival, duh. Per usual, the motivation of the good guys is so pure that it’s almost boring. More interesting is the motivation for why the aliens have invaded Earth. In this case it’s the well-worn idea that the aliens need Earth for its sweet sweet natural resources and humans are just an extraneous nuisance that must be exterminated. Not so fast, Aliums! You underestimate the human race.

Who?! As the beginning of Crimson Tide tells us, one of the most powerful men in the world is a submarine captain. It certainly seems like this film had one such powerful man, however it’s a little hard to tell from the credits who that is. I think perhaps the character was given the name Anton Batkin? Really need to make this more clear… I mean… he’s a pretty powerful man.

What?! Add this to the list of Faraday cage related films we’ve watched (looking at you, Transcendence). On top of that there was also a whole article about how 2011 was the year of the tourism product placement where it seemed like every film released was set in a new and interesting location. But really the real winner of this film was the oft forgotten Hollywood Badass Bar. We don’t get to talk about it much but these bars are far too bright, far too quiet, and super “cool” in a “girls dancing in a cage” kind of way. And this one had a really nice example.

Where?! Russia for days. It’s funny to see that article about tourism product placement because most of what I learned about Russia from this film is that people steal your sweet IP, you mostly just meet other Americans, and aliums fall from the sky. Not the most ringing of endorsements in my opinion. A.

When?! I have no idea. I wonder if there is more indication of when this took place than I think, just because I really wasn’t paying attention. Def not Xmas, no matter what the tagline led us to believe, though. They would have been freezing if that were the case. So tagline, you lied. F… for now.

It’s hard to really like a film whose main character seems like a terrible person and never really acknowledges that fact… he just kinda wins and gets the girl and that’s fine because obviously it’s better that he beats the aliums. But it also seems like a little carry over from a time when tech bros were all the rage and, well, that hasn’t aged well as of late. Add on top that the CGI only held up as long as the aliens were virtually invisible (not a great sign) and we were looking at what felt like a prequel… or sequel… or concurrent-quel to Skyline that was similarly interesting to watch in a trainwreck kind of way. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! When some baaaaaaaad ‘tricity comes down from the clouds in Moscow, whatchu gonna do? Run to that submarine, you know it! Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – For real we’ve almost done this film like ten times in BMT history. It was one of the worst reviewed films of 2011, the year we started BMT, but prior to when we like … spent money on watching recent films or even really organized things in a coherent fashion. And it almost got bumped again. But finally, we’re going to watch this film about … aliens I think. They’re bad electricity or something. At the time I remember being rather confused about it. What were my expectations? I was hoping for a crap Independence Day knock off and not much more. Set Independence Day in Russia and that’s what I hoped this film was.

The Good – Parts of this film play like a video game. They get a microwave gun, and can freeze the enemies with it. They can then use water to chain the freeze mechanism across multiple aliens, etc. It is precisely the kind of thing you’d see in a video game … makes you wonder why they didn’t just do that? Have they? They could actually try and do the opposite. Make the good video game after the terrible movie adaptation. That would be a new one. Other than that the setting is pretty fun all things considered. And there is a submarine which is always very very fun. Cool gadgets and a submarine? That’s a bit more than I expected from the film. Best Bit – The alien design.

The Bad – Absolutely terrible CGI. Despite a cool and innovative alien design, it suffers from some of the worst CGI you’ll see in a BMT film and that is saying something. Emile Hirsch has a redemption arc in the film that is fully undeserved. It is made abundantly clear that he’s flakey and kind of a dick. Instead of holding a mirror up to him to show his previous attitude as dangerous, it instead decides to double down by revealing that he’s actually a genius and just the right kind of street smart to get their group through the mess they are in … wha? If you can ignore how cheap the film looks, then that is really what sinks it, especially once they kill off multiple much better characters. Fatal Flaw – Deplorable main character.

The BMT – We had to eventually do this film. It came out at a perfect time for BMT, less than a year after we started, we had matured our formula a bit … and yet we just didn’t do it. Well we finally have. And it’ll stand in a pantheon for some of the worst alien invasion films we’ve seen (and we’ve seen a few), and some of the worst CGI we’ve seen as well. Plus I don’t think it’ll get supplanted as a worst Russia-set film anytime soon. That’s some sweet BMTness right there. Did it meet my expectations? It kind of did. I was surprised that the alien design didn’t suck more, but it more than made up for it by spending maybe $10 dollars on CGI to bring that vision to life. So yeah, really just dumb enough for me to find enjoyable.

Roast-radamus – Definitely some solid Product Placement (What?) with McDonald’s getting featured multiple times while panning over a devastated Moscow. Obviously a good Setting as a Character (Where?) for Russia in general, and Moscow specifically. There are multiple references to “Welcome to Russia” and the Russian attitude. I think there is an okay argument for the single-minded pursuit of getting to the submarine as a kind of MacGuffin (Why?) in the context of the film.

StreetCreditReport.com – This one isn’t really mentioned anywhere. Probably because it was kind of buried in early early 2012. Once you get into that January releases you won’t make the lists which will be compiled in mid-December. Besides that I’m a bit shocked no one seemed to put it on a list of worst alien invasion films. It certainly feels like one of the worst alien invasion films ever made.

You Just Got Schooled – I was quite pleased with myself here in that I was racking my brain trying to think of an equivalent “good” version of this film. I finally settled on The War of the Worlds from 1953, and it turned out to basically be a perfect analogue. Weird aliens descend suddenly on Earth, humanity is overrun in the face of what appears to be impenetrable alien defenses, humanity solves the issue … fine in this case, spoiler, it turns out the aliens can’t live on Earth due to not having immunity to any of our diseases (apropos indeed!). If you like the pacing of 50s films this is one of the better ones I’ve seen. The entire thing operates as a thought experiment on how scientists and the military might respond to an attack from an unknown and formidable opponent. A-, would highly recommend especially if you’ve seen the Spielberg version, but again, it has 50s pacing and effects.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

The Darkest Hour (2011) Quiz

Oh boy, last thing I remember is glowing things falling from the sky, and then I got bopped on the head and woke up a week later in a desolate city. Do you remember what happened in The Darkest Hour?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) We open on our heroes, Sean and Ben, heading off to Russia to close a big deal for their startup. But what does their startup do?

2) After that deal … doesn’t happen, the boys hit the town and meet up with Natalie and Anne. How do they know / have heard of these two women before?

3) After the aliens attack the, now fivesome, hide in a storage room in the bar. After that they make a plan to escape to where?

4) In the shopping center they figure out a way to detect the aliens, a way to hide form the aliens, and later on with the help of Sergei, how to kill the aliens. How?

5) In the end, the reason the aliens have come to Earth is alluded to. Why?

Answers

The Darkest Hour (2011) Preview

As Rich and Poe karate chop the necks of the old buffoons ogling Rio, the creepy old men try to explain all the terrible rich people problems that have driven them to this point. “My wife is cheating with my best friend!” one screams. The other nods his head, “that’s right, and I’m disillusioned with my materialistic life and that drove me to find thrills sleeping with his wife!” Oh boy. Rich and Poe roll their eyes at the tired excuses. Time to take them to the Twin Chip Zone. But just as they are about to finish the job, Rio steps in. Hugging them both she explains how she no longer needs their protection. That she is a strong woman who can defend herself against these weak willed old men going through whatever midlife crisis has brought them to this beautiful (and certainly not creepy) blue lagoon. “Don’t let them change the beauty of this place with violence. We can keep it natural. Beautiful. Love.” Bessy, Rich, and Poe wipe tears from their eyes and let the old men run off into the jungle. They roast s’mores and enjoy some refreshing Coca-Cola on the beach as the sun is setting. “It’s beautiful,” sighs Rio, “I’ll miss it when I’m off becoming a detective.” Bessy snorts happily, but Rich cocks his head quizzically. “It’s so… uh… green?” he says as a chill runs down his spine. Indeed the sky is streaked in green and while those creepy old men were ultimately harmless it seems that the civil war has arrived after all. The sky becomes smokey and what appears to be monsters begin to descend from the sky. Everything is plunged into darkness. The hour of battle has arrived. That’s right! We’re finally, finally, finally watching The Darkest Hour. There are a number of films from 2011-2012 that were coming out around the inception of BMT where we’d see the trailer on TV and be like “word, that would be fun for BMT” and then we just never watched the movie. And it would come up all the time over the years… and we’d still not watch the movie. And now we’re here and we’re watching The Darkest Hour. Which is weird because probably no one remembers what The Darkest Hour even is. Rest assured, it’s very much set in Moscow. Let’s go!

The Darkest Hour (2011) – BMeTric: 68.2; Notability: 26 

(Oh … this is going to be garbage. It hits 4.9 like a heat-seeking missile. I’m actually a bit surprised, because after Emile Hirsch torpedoed his own career I would have imagined people might go online to pile on his real stinkers.)

Leonard Maltin – 2.5 stars –  In Moscow, a group of young Americans is among the few survivors of an attack by invisible aliens. They have to make their way across the deserted city in hopes of meeting other survivors. Well-made by standard alien-invasion stuff (thank you, H. G. Wells), distinguished primarily by the Moscow locations.

(I’m glad I nailed this actually. I wanted to make sure I watched a good “learning” film and was working through in my mind which alien invasion films make the most sense. I settled on an older adaptation of War of the Worlds because it fit the bill of alien invasion across the globe in insurmountable odds against humanity. Leonard’s little “thank you H.G. Wells” is certainly an allusion to how much of a rip off this film is of that book.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgXzLMQuQ6Y/

(Oooof. It just looks bad. There is no way around it, the CGI and effects just look terrible.)

Directors – Chris Gorak – (Known For: Right at Your Door; BMT: The Darkest Hour; Notes: Production designer on the smash Stephen Baldwin classic Sub Down. Was the art director for Minority Report and studied architecture before getting into film.)

Writers – Jon Spaihts (screenplay & story) – (Known For: Doctor Strange; Prometheus; Future BMT: Passengers; BMT: The Darkest Hour; The Mummy; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for The Mummy in 2018; Notes: One of the writers of the upcoming Dune film. Passengers was an unproduced script he wrote that made the 2007 blacklist.)

Leslie Bohem (story) – (Known For: Twenty Bucks; Future BMT: A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child; Tracers; Nowhere to Run; Dante’s Peak; House III: The Horror Show; The Alamo; BMT: The Darkest Hour; Daylight; Notes: Won an Emmy for the 2002 miniseries Taken. Played bass in the 80s band Gleaming Spires. You’d recognize their song Are You Ready for the Sex Girls.)

M.T. Ahern (story) – (BMT: The Darkest Hour; Notes: I believe this is Megan Ahern who is the daughter of Emmylou Harris. I have a theory that Ahern came up with the story, Bohem helped her out with it knowing her via some musical connection, and then Spaihts was brought on to finish the shooting script.)

Actors – Emile Hirsch – (Known For: Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood; Into the Wild; Lone Survivor; Freaks; The Girl Next Door; The Autopsy of Jane Doe; Savages; Alpha Dog; Killer Joe; Lords of Dogtown; Speed Racer; Milk; Never Grow Old; An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn; Taking Woodstock; Prince Avalanche; The Emperor’s Club; 10,000 Saints; The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys; Roxxy; Future BMT: All Nighter; The Outsider; The Air I Breathe; Imaginary Heroes; Venuto al mondo; BMT: The Darkest Hour; Notes: Amazingly consistent career … well, right up until he was convicted of a pretty grotesque assault of a movie producer in 2015. He’s been blacklisted from what I know, although his recent appearance in Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood probably will help him get back on his feet in the coming years.)

Olivia Thirlby – (Known For: No Strings Attached; Juno; Dredd; United 93; Above the Shadows; The Stanford Prison Experiment; The Senator; 5 to 7; Margaret; The Wackness; Solitary Man; Nobody Walks; Snow Angels; Being Flynn; Uncertainty; Between Us; Breaking Upwards; Love Comes Lately; Future BMT: New York, I Love You; Damascus Cover; Just Before I Go; Arlen Faber; Welcome to Happiness; BMT: The Darkest Hour; What Goes Up; The Wedding Ringer; Notes: Married a sound designer she met on the set of Dredd. This was one of her first starring roles.)

Max Minghella – (Known For: The Social Network; Horns; Agora; Into the Forest; The Ides of March; Syriana; 10 Years; About Alex; Brief Interviews with Hideous Men; Bee Season; Future BMT: The Internship; How to Lose Friends & Alienate People; Art School Confidential; The 9th Life of Louis Drax; BMT: The Darkest Hour; Notes: Son of Anthony Minghella, who won an Oscar for directing The English Patient. Directed the film Teen Spirit starring Elle Fanning which got a limited 4 theater release.)

Budget/Gross – $30,000,000 / Domestic: $21,443,494 (Worldwide: $64,626,786)

(That’s not super great, partially because that $30 million figure was probably quite above the initial budget considering they decided to film in 3D and there were a lot of issues in Russia during production.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 12% (7/59): Devoid of believable characters or convincing visual effects, this may be The Darkest Hour for the careers of all involved.

(Rough, the film is compared unfavorably towards the Transformers sequels. Makes sense though, lots of grinding machine noises without many ideas. Reviewer Highlight: Not since Mark Wahlberg trembled in fear beside a menacing houseplant in The Happening has a film tried to provoke terror with such an unlikely object of menace. – Nathan Rabin, AV Club)

Poster – Bad ‘Tricity

(It’s posters like this that had me going “WTF, mate?” back in 2011 and assuming that we would have watched it for BMT ages ago. Giving me flashbacks to The Avengers. I guess I like the orange color scheme and the russification of the font. C-)

Tagline(s) – Survive The Holidays (C)

The Invasion Begins Christmas Day (D)

(They really went all in on the Christmas release date, didn’t they? I don’t love taglines like these primarily because they are using something wholly separate from the film in order to try to be clever with the tagline. These would be OK for a Christmas film, but I don’t think this is even a secret holiday film… so what’s the point? First is better than the second and would actually be good if it pertained to the film at hand.)

Keyword – end of the world

Top 10: Avengers: Endgame (2019), Justice League (2017), Interstellar (2014), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Zombieland: Double Tap (2019), Suicide Squad (2016), Terminator: Dark Fate (2019), Man of Steel (2013)

Future BMT: 65.6 Pulse (2006), 61.0 Legion (2010), 57.5 Little Nicky (2000), 56.1 Spawn (1997), 54.8 Resident Evil: Retribution (2012), 50.1 Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016), 48.4 Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007), 47.5 The Dark Tower (2017), 44.3 The Reaping (2007), 40.2 End of Days (1999);

BMT: Transformers: The Last Knight (2017), Geostorm (2017), Fantastic Four (2015), Hellboy (2019), 2012 (2009), Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), Independence Day: Resurgence (2016), The 5th Wave (2016), Gods of Egypt (2016), Pixels (2015), The Last Witch Hunter (2015), Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997), The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008), The Darkest Hour (2011), Left Behind (2014), Maximum Overdrive (1986), Skyline (2010), R.I.P.D. (2013), Bless the Child (2000)

(Absolutely amazing dip right when this movie is made. I have a feeling I know what it is: the financial crisis. The reasons could be twofold. Mainly I just think disaster films are ultra-expensive so they put all of them on the back burner. But also psychologically I imagine people struggling to find work have no interest in watching films where the world falls apart, so that could be part of it as well. I’m excited for Legion, that looks like a giant pile of shit.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 23) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Olivia Thirlby is No. 3 billed in The Darkest Hour and No. 3 billed in What Goes Up, which also stars Steve Coogan (No. 1 billed) who is in Around the World in 80 Days (No. 2 billed), which also stars Jackie Chan (No. 1 billed) who is in The Medallion (No. 1 billed), which also stars John Rhys-Davies (No. 5 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Seige Tale (No. 2 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 4 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 3 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 1 + 5 + 2 + 4 + 1 = 23. If we were to watch Suicide Squad, Nights in Rodanthe, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 20.

Notes – Shot in 3D as opposed to post-conversion. (Whaaaaaaaaaaaaa)

Production was suspended for a planned two weeks due to the extraordinary air pollution caused by heavy smoke from the wild fires surrounding Moscow in August 2010. It eventually resumed three weeks later. Even with this precaution, smoke still made it into a lot of shots and had to be digitally removed in post production.

The involvement of Timur Bekmambetov as producer afforded the production the opportunity of using Russia as a backdrop instead of the usual USA locations. Bekmambetov owns a film production company in Moscow called Bazelevs where most of the movie was made.

Not screened in advance for North American critics.

The crew was made up of about 30% American and 70% Russian.

The boat the refugees use to try to reach the submarine is named “Orca” (spelled “orka” in Cyrillic).

Masters of the Universe Recap

Jamie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patrick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Masters of the Universe Quiz

Man, as a He-Man in my He-Man would I can tell you what, I get a ton of concussions. The last thing I remember was something about a Cosmic Key and then Skeletor popped out and bopped me on the head! Do you remember what happened in Masters of the Universe?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) What does the Cosmic Key do?

2) How does the crew lose the key while going to Earth?

3) Where is Courtney Cox moving a why? A rough answer will suffice.

4) Why does Cox betray her friends and steal the Cosmic Key?

5)  Ultimately, Skeletor gets the Cosmic Key and makes He-man his slave, leaving Cox to die. The End. Oh, that wasn’t the end? Oh yeah, that’s right they get back to Eternia soon after to save the day. How?

Answers

Masters of the Universe Preview

“Down!” Adrestia shouts as she tackles Rich to the ground. A shot rings out and a window shatters. “Go!” Rich barks and with that they are out the door. They see a man disappear around the corner of the school, but before Rich can pull out his patented Twin Speed, Adrestia is off like a flash. Rich is stunned. Thinking fast, he stops at the nearest soda machine for the unrivaled energy and refreshment of a delicious Mountain Dew. Doing the Dew, Rich is able to catch up to Adrestia just in time to help take down the fleeing shooter. “Nice running,” says Rich and before he can even ask Adrestia points to her legs. Robot legs, of course. At that they unmask the suspect to reveal none other than Alligator Steve! “Of course, it only makes sense it was you all long,” says Rich, but Steve protests and pulls out a badge, “Det. O’Malley, Mate. I swear I wasn’t trying to kill you. I was trying to save my world.” Rich is confused. Save his world? From the gamemaster? And Steve nods. “The gamemaster is pulling all the strings. The rogue cops, the riots, everything. It’s all to stop you from completing the task. And if we don’t stop you he’ll destroy my home… my fambly,” he finishes, descending into a low, emotional growl. Suddenly Steve looks up and his eyes are shining, “but now I see… what’s inside of you. It’s not just my home that is at stake is it?” And Rich shakes his head. With that Steve pulls himself up from the ground and extends his hand, “Crikey, then I’m in… let’s go save the whole universe, Mate.” That’s right! We’re going back in time to our youth to watch the classic action figure turned cartoon turned major motion picture, Masters of the Universe. We are using this as the MacGuffin entry of the cycle as The Cosmic Key is an all-timer when it comes to unexplainable, mostly magical objects of power in cinematic history. So get ready to blast out some sweet synth notes as we jam out to Masters of the Universe. Let’s go!

Masters of the Universe (1987) – BMeTric: 50.1; Notability: 53 

MastersoftheUniverseIMDb_BMeT

MastersoftheUniverseIMDb_RV

(Huh, I wonder why it increased so much in the early 2000s … unclear. Very nice how low it is and is staying. I’ve seen pieces of this film before, at the very least it looks like complete crap.)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars –  He-Man (Lundgren) comes to Earth seeking a key that controls the power of the universe, stolen by cosmic crub Skeletor (unrecognizable Langella); somehow two teen puppy-lovers get involved. Elaborate comic book nonsense (which has had another life in kiddie animation) is dumb but inoffensive.

(I love dumb but inoffensive. That “somehow” is doing some heavy lifting, and can basically be used to describe any ridiculous sci-fi / action B-story issue. Like Pearl Harbor: “Somehow a love triangle becomes the focus of the film.”)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CF20B8p4F08/

(Wow, Skeletor’s costume looks even worse than I remembered. Truly horrific. Reminds me of Howard the Duck and The Garbage Pail Kids’ Movie. That level of shooting incredibly far over their budget/technological capabilities at the time.)

Directors – Gary Goddard – (BMT: Masters of the Universe; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Tarzan the Ape Man in 1982; Notes: He founded Landmark Entertainment Group for which he directed many of the biggest theme park videos (T-2 3D, Jurassic Park intro, etc.))

Writers – David Odell (written by) – (Known For: The Dark Crystal; Future BMT: Supergirl; BMT: Masters of the Universe; Notes: He wrote on the Muppet Show in the 80s and wrote on a few other Muppet things over the years. He seems to have effectively retired in 1990.)

Stephen Tolkin (rewrite) (uncredited) – (Future BMT: Captain America; BMT: Masters of the Universe; Notes: Mostly wrote for television. His brother, Michael, was nominated for an Oscar for The Player, and his father was an Emmy nominated comedy write from the 50s all the way into the 80s.)

Gary Goddard (rewrite) (uncredited) – (Future BMT: Tarzan the Ape Man; BMT: Masters of the Universe; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Tarzan the Ape Man in 1982; Notes: He created a Captain Power television program prior to Masters of the Universe which he wrote on. It was canceled after one season.)

Actors – Dolph Lundgren – (Known For: Aquaman; Creed II; Hail, Caesar!; The Expendables; The Expendables 2; Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning; Don’t Kill It; Future BMT: Red Scorpion; The Punisher; Black Water; Skin Trade; The Peacekeeper; Showdown in Little Tokyo; Dark Angel; A View to a Kill; Small Apartments; Rocky IV; BMT: Masters of the Universe; Johnny Mnemonic; Universal Soldier; The Expendables 3; Notes: A world class kickboxer, he also has an advanced degree in Chemical Engineering. Apparently he still does some work with his brother who is a scientist.)

Frank Langella – (Known For: Captain Fantastic; Lolita; Red Dragon; Noah; The Ninth Gate; Superman Returns; Unknown; Small Soldiers; Muppets Most Wanted; Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps; Draft Day; Frost/Nixon; Dave; The Box; Good Night, and Good Luck.; 5 to 7; The Tale of Despereaux; Robot & Frank; Dracula; The Prophet; Future BMT: Junior; Eddie; Cutthroat Island; Grace of Monaco; And God Created Woman; All Good Things; Bad Company; Brainscan; 1492: Conquest of Paradise; Sweet November; The Caller; BMT: Body of Evidence; Masters of the Universe; Notes: Started out as an acclaimed Broadway actor, winning a Tony for his role in Seascape in 1975. Nominated for an Oscar for Frost/Nixon.)

Meg Foster – (Known For: Overlord; They Live; 31; The Lords of Salem; The Emerald Forest; Blind Fury; The Osterman Weekend; Ticket to Heaven; The Minus Man; Relentless; Future BMT: Jeepers Creepers 3; Leviathan; Best of the Best II; Stepfather II; BMT: Masters of the Universe; Notes: We’ve actually seen her before in a Friend of BMT, Future Kick. She starred in that film. She had quite the straight-to-video career in the early 90s.)

Budget/Gross – $22 million / Domestic: $17,336,370 (Worldwide: $17,336,370)

(An unmitigated disaster that apparently helped Cannon Films to go under. So that, maybe, is a net positive? I kid, but for real every Cannon film I’ve seen looks like garbage, so I wasn’t surprised to hear they produced this movie.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 17% (4/23): Masters of the Universe is a slapdash adaptation of the He-Man mythos that can’t overcome its cynical lack of raison d’etre, no matter how admirably Frank Langella throws himself into the role of Skeletor.

(I just love the stories about Langella in this. He either hated working on this or loved it. He either thought everything was trash or he loved it. Mixed signals from everyone. It’s going to sound obvious but I think he may have done this movie for one reason: $$$. Reviewer Highlight: The result is a colossal bore. – Variety)

Poster – Masters of the MacGuffinverse (C+)

masters_of_the_universe

(This poster is really telling a story… and it’s not a great one. It seems like if I were a huge fan of Masters of the Universe I would probably be like “just please don’t make it the case that He-Man and the gang are transported to Earth for some reason.” Then I would see the poster and be like “well, Shit.” Spacing is bad and too much going on, but some nice on-brand font and general blue tone. Patrick’s Shallow Fake: I was going for speed in this case, and I came in at just around 60-70 minutes. Which is quite good. It took me about 50 minutes for the words, and then the face went pretty quickly. Not the best face I’ve done, but again, this one was for speed and I think looks pretty good.)

Tagline(s) – A battle fought in the stars, now… comes to Earth. (D)

(Lol, what? If you think about the synopsis of the cartoon, all events take place in a relatively small kingdom of Eternia. So when was the battle fought in the stars? They aren’t in spaceships or anything. This feels very much like “let’s get those Star Wars butts in the seats,” and I don’t appreciate that.)

Keyword – based on toy

MastersoftheUniverse_based on toy

Top 10: The Lego Batman Movie (2017), Transformers: The Last Knight (2017), Trolls (2016), Bumblebee (2018), Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), Transformers (2007), The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019), The Lego Movie (2014), Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011), UglyDolls (2019)

Future BMT: 65.0 Max Steel (2016), 57.1 Jem and the Holograms (2015), 41.0 G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009), 37.4 UglyDolls (2019), 34.4 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009), 27.9 Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011), 2.6 Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer (1985);

BMT: Transformers: The Last Knight (2017), Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013), Masters of the Universe (1987), Bratz (2007), Ouija (2014)

(Amazing. Basically bad production companies like Cannon producing schlock in the 80s. After those companies went under the big production houses knew better in the 90s. And then Transformers changed the game again in the 2000s. Looks to be slowing in the last decade. A lot of the future BMT I’ve actually already seen, although I am excited for Max Steel and Jem and the Holograms.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 17) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Dolph Lundgren is No. 1 billed in Masters of the Universe and No. 8 billed in Expendables 3, which also stars Jason Statham (No. 2 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) => 1 + 8 + 2 + 1 + 4 + 1 = 17. If we were to watch Zoom we can get the HoE Number down to 16.

Notes – The Throne Room set of Castle Grayskull was originally two large, adjoining sound stages. The wall between the sets was knocked down to make one gigantic sound stage. At that time, this was the largest set Hollywood had seen in over 40 years.

Frank Langella went on record in an interview stating that playing Skeletor was one of his favorite roles. His young son was a huge fan and was running around the house shouting “By the power of Grayskull,” so he took the role for him. He wrote some of his own lines, like: “Tell me about the loneliness of good, He-Man. Is it equal to the loneliness of evil?”

Anthony De Longis trained Dolph Lundgren in the use of a sword. He also choreographed the sword fight between He-Man and Blade and the climatic duel between He-Man and Skeletor. De Longis also played Skeletor during the final fight, instead of Frank Langella.

Mattel, the toy company that produced the original He-Man toys, ran a contest where the winner would get a role in the new He-Man movie. The production was under a great deal of pressure to finish in time and under budget, so director Gary Goddard had to squeeze the contest winner into the shoot. The winner, Richard Szponder, is Pigboy, who hands Skeletor his staff when he returns from Earth. He was even listed in the ending credits. (Ha, funny)

Dolph Lundgren said in a French magazine that working on this film was “a nightmare”. The shooting schedule was five months, including two months of night shooting. He said he was approached to do a sequel during shooting, and he turned down the offer. However in an interview with the IO9 website promoting The Expendables (2010), Lundgren said he would return to appear in a new “Masters of the Universe” movie, as either a cameo or He-Man.

A script for the sequel, to be titled “Masters of the Universe 2: Cyborg” was written. It followed He-Man, who returned to Earth to battle Skeletor, who had left Earth a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The film was to feature Trap Jaw and She-Ra, and Albert Pyun was hired to direct. Because the film bombed at the box office, Mattel and Cannon decided to cancel production on the sequel. Pyun rewrote the script, which became Cyborg (1989).

Mattel, which owned and produced the “Masters of the Universe” toyline, mandated early in production that He-Man could not kill anyone on screen. That’s why Skeletor’s troops are robots. (Basically the same thing with Disney properties now. They always kill like … clones and robots, or mindless aliens or something)

Meg Foster said that she based her character on Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth. In the film’s beginning, she is a pantomime villainess but obviously deeply in love with Skeletor. As the storyline progresses, she gradually comes to realise that he does not truly care for her. In the end, she abandons him to his fate, her withdrawal of her forces leads to his eventual defeat. In Foster’s opinion, the character progresses from evildoer to scorned woman to tragic heroine.

A total of three working Cosmic Key props were built for the film, each personally constructed by Richard Edlund. The props were extremely fragile and broke down easily, so a special team of prop technicians had to be on hand at all times to repair damage during filming. As of 2012, they are valued at $6,000 each.

Because of financial difficulties, Cannon Cinema made a decision to discontinue all filming three days before its scheduled end, leaving the movie in a quandary. All the climactic scenes were completed bar the final battle and resolution between He-Man and Skeletor. After two months, the Cannon Cinema executives allowed director Gary Goddard to film the ending in a complete, albeit rushed manner.

Production designer William Stout took an existing fast food stand in Lake View Terrace and transformed this into “Robby’s Ribs ‘n’ Chicken” where Julie Winston works. According to Stout, the same fast food place was later the site of the infamous Rodney King beating. (That is a wild fact)

At the 1987 Cannes Festival press conference, producer Menahem Golan announced that lead actor Dolph Lundgren was set to reprise his role as He-Man and that he had already signed on for two more movies. However, Lundgren refused to reprise his role when he was offered it while filming Red Scorpion (1988) and went on record in a 1989 interview with Comics Scene magazine that he felt playing He-Man was his “lowest point as an actor”. His role was recast with surfer Laird Hamilton but the “Masters of the Universe” sequel ultimately never happened. (Wild, that guy ended up not really acting in anything)

The character Gwildor was created to replace Orko from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983). (Obviously)

The original budget of $17 million increased to $22 million and this became Cannon Films’ most expensive film.

During production, Gary Goddard developed Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future (1987) which premiered on American television the same year as the release of Masters of the Universe (1987). (Uh …. Do I watch that then? No, surely I watch some of the He-man cartoon instead …)

In the official “Masters of the Universe” comic book adaptation, an alternate ending is used that was written for the movie but never filmed. In the comic, after the final battle between He-Man and Skeletor, Man-At-Arms comes from the depths of Castle Grayskull carrying a NASA and United States flag. The NASA flag has “Starfinder 5. July 10, 2221” written on it, revealing that the first humans on Eternia were actually from a future American space mission. (WHAAAAAA)

Cannon Films originally had plans to make a Spider-Man movie but opted instead to take the money and split it in two for two other films: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) and Masters of the Universe. The plan was to take the profits from both movies and make a large-budget Spider-Man movie. Both movies bombed at the box-office and the Cannon-produced Spider-Man movie never materialized.

Gary Goddard came up with the idea of Skeletor in a bottomless pit filled with bubbling red water at the very end of the film. After filming the final battle between He-Man and Skeletor which took one day to shoot. Gary Goddard told Frank Langella his idea for the very end of the film and that Frank Langella approved. Boss Studios prepared a vat of bubbling red liquid and Gary Goddard walked Frank Langella in full costume and make up to the vat of bubbling liquid and told him that “You get there in full make up and costume and you pop up and says “I’LL BE BACK!”. And they got the shot and this was the last shot of the day.

Awards – Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor (Billy Barty, 1988)

The Island of Dr. Moreau Recap

Jamie

When UN negotiator Edward Douglas’ plane crashes in the Pacific he is rescued and taken to the reclusive Island of Dr. Moreau. He soon learns that Dr. Moreau has used his big ol’ brain to create an animal-human tribe that regards him as a god… but not for long. Can Edward escape the island (and purr-haps find love) before it’s too late? Find out in… The Island of Dr. Moreau.

How?! Edward Douglas is in for a house of horrors when his UN plane crashes in the Pacific on its way to peace negotiation. First, his fellow companions fight to the death over the lack of rations on their lifeboat (not ideal), then he gets picked up by a crazy scientist, Mongomery, who looks shockingly like Val Kilmer (crazy, right?), and finally when he is delivered to safety on an island he finds it occupied by horrific animal-human hybrids created by the obviously and completely crazy Dr. Moreau (not the best). Weirdly, Dr. Moreau seems like a comparably normal guy next to Montgomery, who spends his time preventing Edward’s rescue and partying with the animal monsters. From here the film descends into chaos as Edward vacillates between complete horror one moment to almost resignation the next, all while palling around with Dr. Moreau’s cat-human daughter Aissa. When the punishment of one of the animal-humans ends up in death, his hyena-hybrid friend is distraught and on inspection of his corpse discovers the source of their control by Dr. Moreau. He is able to remove it from his own body and thus begins a mutiny against Dr. Moreau. Confronting him in his house they question their own creation at his hands and then subsequent relegation to their distant village. When Dr. Moreau attempts to resort again to punishment they kill him and take over the compound. Montgomery at first attempts to stop them, but then eventually destroys the serum that prevents them from going full animal and implants himself as the god. But the hyena-hybrid is having none of that and has him and Aissa killed and Edward brought to him. Edward is able to trick the animal-humans into fighting amongst themselves, which results in the deaths of the aggressors. The remaining animal-humans let Edward leave on a boat so they can live in peace. THE END. Big Question: Who hurt this film most, Val Kilmer or Marlon Brando (hint: Kilmer).

Why?! Wow, this is certainly an interesting question. Edward is mostly motivated by escape, but he seems incredibly relaxed throughout the film given what is happening. The only explanation is that he is a UN peace negotiator, so perhaps there is a moment where he realizes his only chance of survival is to use his skillz. That probably entails being calm and collected despite any level of pressure. Montgomery and Moreau are just insane and motivated by their own egomania and delusion.

Who?! I feel like every once in a while we make a discovery in one of these categories that I didn’t even know was possible. When they show that Dr. Moreau won a Nobel Prize all of a sudden I’m like, “wait, how many fake Nobel Prize winners have we seen in BMT before?” Well here’s to our first and hopefully not our last (the next will come sooner than you think).

What?! I’m shocked to see that there isn’t a crazy number of props available from this film. I can only find one measly piece of Ron Perlman’s staff, and that ain’t no fun. I literally want a full Dr. Moreau costume and apparently no amount of money can accomplish that for me. Harumph.

Where?! We are on some random island in the Pacific. Presumably it’s under no real jurisdiction considering it’s only inhabited by Dr. Moreau, Montgomery, and their creations. This will almost certainly hold the spot for “Unknown Location in the Pacific” for some future mapl.de.map. I give it a B even though it’s unnamed. They are pretty clear we’re on Dr. Moreau’s island.

When?! Now this was interesting. It’ll end up coming in at a C- at best, but on wikipedia they claim the film takes place in 2010. Which is just bizarre because it is not made clear in any which way. I suspected this was from some version of the script, as this film is a super famous disaster so people would have interest in reading original scripts, and Patrick found one. Weirdly this script actually says the film took place in 2007, but that the story is being recounted in 2010. And yet there it is on Wikipedia.

I’m fairly certain that without Kilmer and some obvious and unnecessary Producer meddling, this film could have been a success. The costumes are pretty incredible and the (original) director, Richard Stanley, certainly had a vision that he set up and then almost immediately couldn’t put to screen. Watching the documentary about the film, it seemed like the producers panicked after Brando took a shine to Stanley and began the process of destroying the film. Once he was fired you get the sense that they just wanted to finish the film ASAP and as a result it’s just a super rushed mess of a narrative. They also don’t really take advantage of Brando, who is off the wall, but in a way that could have been interesting if used better. Same for Kilmer, except he seems the more destructive of the two given his role in the film. David Thewlis just seems sad to be there. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! If I made this movie I would call it The Island of Dr. Moreau … because it is based on a book. What else could I call it? The Island of Creepy Half-Animal People? I guess that does explain what it is about a bit better. Whatever, Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – I had definitely seen this film before, but all I could really remember was being supremely creeped out by the animal people … which was probably the point. Other than that, Marlon Brando’s performance is legendary, although prior to this viewing I didn’t quite realize that Val Kilmer was considered the real problem actor on set. Makes sense his career started to tumble in the 2000s. What were my expectations? Off the wall b-b-b-b-bonker shit. That’s about it, this is considered one of the more confounding and strange bad movies ever made. So much so, they made a whole documentary about the making of the film.

The Good – The film has a lot of interesting ideas, as do most adaptations of The Island of Dr. Moreau (obviously). They transition quite seamlessly from the original concept of the book (something like a elixir that allows transitions between animals and humans … a very pre-genetics idea) to the much more scientifically motivated animal-human hybrid idea (which reeks of eugenics debates essentially). The adaptation doesn’t really suffer from the modernization of ideas, it is just that the movie around it is a complete mess. 

The Bad – Val Kilmer and Marlon Brando are competing on who can chew up the scenery faster. The animal costumes are so disturbing (especially in the odd shanty town set) that it makes the film almost impossible to enjoy. The film devolves into darkness so quickly that in the back half it is almost impossible to see what is really happening or where anyone is. Ultimately the film sinks under the weight of the botched production, a mishmash of ideas all spliced together in some gross adaptation-original hybrid … man I wish I was a reviewer in 1996, that is a bomb closing line for a review.

The BMT – It’s a classic for a reason. This is likely one of the quintessential troubled production bad movies. Brando’s performance is a legend, and it is the peak of managing to try both practical (the costuming) and CGI (… some disturbing shots of the animals jumping around) and getting both profoundly incorrect. It is actually a little better than you might think though, just because the ideas themselves are solid. If not for the production difficulties it might have met some mixed reviews. Did it meet my expectations? Certainly. It was b-b-b-b-bonkers shit, and is a confounding and strange bad movie. I was surprised at how much sense it made though, that made it all the more pleasant to watch.

Roast-radamus – Oddly this film gets almost no award consideration. There is no product placement, there is no secret holiday or coherent setting. No one really has a direct and clear motivation even (!). I’ll give it a small Worst Twist (How?) for the obvious combo-twist of Thewlis finding out he was brought to the island intentionally so that his genetic code could be used, and the obvious and inevitable reveal that Fairuza Balk is part cat. It is going to get closest to BMT in the end as a supremely entertaining bad movie.

StreetCreditReport.com – This film came out in a month that has been written about as one of the worst ever … well it has by another blog. Surprisingly, Siskel and Ebert didn’t put it in their worst ten of 1996. But when you have a documentary made about how troubled the production is that is credit enough. This could very well be the worst animal-human creepfest ever … wait, nope, we just watched Cats didn’t we? So this could be the second creepiest animal-human hybrid film.

You Just Got Schooled – For this I had a few choices. I could read the book, but I already had at some point, plus it takes too long. I could have watched one of the original old adaptations, but those would be hard to find. There is also a making of documentary, but I didn’t want to watch that before watching the actual film. So naturally I went for the 1977 adaptation with Burt Lancaster as Dr. Moreau, and Michael York (whom you might know as Basil from the Austin Powers series) in the lead role. The film is quite good, if very old fashioned for the time. With Close Encounters and Star Wars coming out the same year, this film comes across as more of a 60s film than anything else. The ideas are excellent though, and it was interesting to watch both adaptations back to back. I’m convinced at least two sets in the 1996 film are homages to the 1977 film (the staircase up to Thewlis’ room, and a creek looking out to the ocean near where Thewlis arrives on the island). Being able to possibly recognize that makes watching the film worthwhile. B- adaptation of the story. Closer to the original vision, but old-fashioned and thus a bit boring for modern tastes.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs