The Circle Recap

Jamie

Mae is a recent grad not living up to her potential. But when she gets a job at the biggest, coolest, best company in the world, The Circle, she knows she’s going places. It soon becomes clear that the company is not exactly what it seems. So can Mae stop the founders before it’s too late? Find out in… The Circle.

How?! Mae is wasting her time answering phones at a company in her hometown before she finally decides to cash in on some powerful college connections to get an interview at The Circle, a big tech company that combines your real and online self into one entity. Impressed with her drive for reaching maximum potential, the company starts her in customer service. She soon becomes disillusioned when the company’s founder, Ty, shows her some top secret and immensely troubling developments in the company at the same time that her best friend from home is dealing with online harassment as a result of the company. Venting her frustration she steals a kayak for a midnight trip only to capsize and be rescued by one of the company’s very obviously ridiculous surveillance technologies. Following the incident and at the behest of the company’s other two founders, Eamon and Tom, Mae becomes the leading proponent of these ridiculous and satire-like technologies and shoots up the corporate ladder. While showing off the newest and most over-the-top ridiculous stupid serveillance technology she inadvertently gets her best friend killed. Clearly she can’t still be a proponent of the company right? Wrong! Instead she comes the immensely dumb conclusion that the only thing that would have saved her friend was EVEN MORE SURVEILLANCE. So she returns to the company, tricks Eamon and Tom to agree to be tracked everywhere, releases all their top secret emails, and takes over the company which requires that everything everyone does should be public. Because that’s the only rational conclusion, right? RIGHT?!!!! My god. Big Question: Is this serious or a satire? The completely awful ludicrous plot would suggest a satire. Everything else points to them being serious… which is insane.

Why?! This is actually a little confounding. Obviously most of the people in the film are craven capitalists who are out only to make money at all costs. Mae on the other hand is our main character and it seems like the film wants us to like her… except everything she does is either because she a) genuinely believes that constant surveillance of private citizens is necessary for the good of the world or b) she is also just a craven capitalist climbing the ladder. I really would have preferred option b. Would have been actually kinda refreshing to finish the film and realize she was the same as the bad guys. But instead they tried to dress her crazy ideas up as something good when they are terrible. Just terrible.

Who?! Somehow this film had one of the best random cameos of the year as we were treated to a full Beck concert as a demonstration of just how rad and cool The Circle was as a place to work. Seems like an odd thing for Beck to agree to except that he was releasing an album at the time and sang on of the singles.

What?! There was a very funny product placement in the middle of this film. When Mae first meets Ty he is awkwardly standing off to the side of a big party. Mae is also feeling awkward and laments the lack of alcohol only for Ty to pull out his secret stash of Cupcake wine. Nothing goes better with the surveillance state than a smooth glass of Cupcake wine.

Where?! San Fran, where else. Seriously, where else would you possibly set a film about a huge, monopolistic tech company that is veering into dangerous surveillance territory? This has to be an A. Can’t be anywhere else.

When?! Pretty obviously takes place over a long period of time as she works at The Circle for several months before making her dramatic rise up the corporate ladder. They don’t even go to the trouble of saying something like “Mom and Dad, I’d love to come home for TGivs, but I have too much work to do.” Missed opportunity. F.

I hated this film. I hated watching it, but I also hated the joke of a premise. It seemed like they were going for some kind of “information wants to be free” message, but for whatever reason put behind a seriously messed-up pro-surveillance plot. You keep waiting for the main character (presumably who we are supposed to identify with and root for) to turn against the company and bring it crumbling down. Instead they have her succeed in taking over the company only to turn around and RAMP UP the egregious surveillance. We even get a happy little ending where she smiles lovingly at a drone camera to tell the world how happy she is to be tracked at all times by cameras. Cooooooooool. The only good things to point to is Tom Hanks and John Boyega who are both good at acting. Everything else sucks. As for Buford’s Beach Bunnies, somehow that film had more brains than The Circle. There was even some shockingly nuanced discussions between the main characters about trauma and how they were trying to deal with abuse in their past. If it wasn’t a gross, low-production, semi-porno I daresay I’d almost recommend it. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! I think when they made this book/film they thought they were taking a bit of creative license to exaggerate the Googles and Facebooks of the world. Now … at least Facebook seems maybe rather close? Too bad the movie kind of sucks. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – The craziest thing, in retrospect, from the preview is that they ended up completely changing the ending to the film because audiences hated Emma Watson’s character so much. The ending to the book is basically that her character completely buys into The Circle and ends up betraying the original founder (Ty) in order to bring about the world domination by The Circle (or whatever, it is something like that). Ultimately they decided to soften this a bit which is nuts … we’ll get to that in the bad section. What were my expectations? Basically The Space Between Us. So some interesting ideas, some decent acting from the older stars, but kind of boring, rote, nonsense. That is what I expected … I had low expectations.

The Good – I think the journey Emma Watson goes through in the beginning is pretty interesting. The evisceration of the Silicon Valley unicorn was somewhat satisfying, even more so a few years after its initial release. I like Tom Hanks, and Patton Oswalt, and the acting in general actually. Boyega in particular does a pretty excellent job at portraying the introverted co-founder floating around on campus. There is everything here you’d want to construct a decent movie. It just isn’t really that good.

The Bad – The fact that Tom Hanks goes on stage and proposes a police state run by a corporation and half the auditorium isn’t like “wait wait wait … what?!”doesn’t feel true to form. At least, it feels like a good 50% of the engineering workforce would be just disgruntled (which I assume is the state of Facebook at the moment … I hope that is true at least). Emma Watson’s character is actually a dumb garbage person. Secrets are lies? Get the fuck out of here with that fascist bullshit. They don’t even bother presenting the other side of that important argument. The word “privacy” is only mentioned like once near the end! It is the entire argument against the “secrets are lies bullshit”! You have a right to privacy, I don’t think that many people disagree with that statement, but they can’t even be bothered to address that? The only thing that could have saved this film was the full heel turn at the end. I would have actually be genuinely impressed if they had gone through with it and had her stab Ty in the back and become an exec at the company. Pulling the punch at the end was a cop out.

The BMT – I certainly will throw it in the same bin as Transcendence and The Space Between Us. Movies with interesting ideas which either go nowhere, are sloppily done, or, in this case, pull their potentially powerful punch right at the end. I wouldn’t revisit it, nor would I recommend it to anyone. If anything it makes me want to read the book. Did it meet my expectations? By being The Space Between Us for BMT 2019? Sure. For being a bad movie that I would recommend to anyone in any capacity? No, it didn’t. But I didn’t mind watching it in the end. Some interesting ideas peppered in there.

Roast-radamus – I can’t remember a specific product placement … maybe a beer here and there? Since The Circle was so ubiquitous there wasn’t any real tech product placements. I think it has real Worst Twist (How?) potential though with Watson exposing the creators of The Circle and making it … I don’t even remember? Was the company good in the end or something? Small potential for Bad just for being sloppily made. That’s it though, pretty thin movie from a trope perspective.

StreetCreditReport.com – I guess I shouldn’t be surprised (2017 was a surprisingly strong year for bad movies it turns out, Flatliners, Bye Bye Man, Baywatch, Transformers 5, The Snowman, The Space Between Us, Rings, The Emoji Movie, Chips, Fifty Shades Darker, Geostorm, The Mummy, and those are only the ones we’ve watched for BMT. It did get a shout out on this online review. But that’s it. I think it is plausibly on a list for the worst “tech” related films. But it wouldn’t get number one, I would but Transcendence above it at the very least.

You Just Got Schooled – Nothing about the movie this week … mainly because Jamie and I started in on P&A Magazine’s 6th Puzzle Boat. Basically it is 100 or so puzzles … and you do them. We find it fun, wanna fight about it? Anyways, that’s why I didn’t watch some random Emma Watson movie to school you. Because I was schooling myself with puzzles.

Bring a Friend Analysis – Ah, I nearly forgot that I had to watch Buford’s Beach Bunnies starring Jim Hanks this week! To start with I literally texted Jamie in the first ten minutes and asked “So … can I just not watch this film?” But weirdly, as I watched the film I kind of took a shine to it. The director/writer is somewhat notable for making micro-budget films in the 80s and 90s. And unlike something like Roller Blade Seven (which was too weird to be anything but an “art film”), this was truly the work of a man who loved film. Combine that with what is, in reality, a very sensitive discussion about sexual trauma and weirdly the film is … kind of good. Well, right until the big reveal at the end where, very obviously, they couldn’t figure out how to end things so they yada-yada-hypnotize-crime-and-trial-yada-yada everything. But, all things considered, a lot better than it had any right to be. Would watch the middle again gladly, but maybe would skip the rest. B-.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

The Circle Quiz

Oh man, last thing I remember I was kayaking in the middle of San Francisco Bay, and then yada yada yada, some fog rolls in, I almost die, and then my company’s weirdo all-seeing remote cameras saved my life. Besides that I can’t remember what happened … can you remember what happened in The Circle?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) Mae (Emma Watson) is a woman working temp jobs and not living up to her potential. How does she get an interview with The Circle, a dystopian tech company run by Patton Oswalt and Tom Hanks?

2) In her first week at the company she meets Ty (Boyega), an introverted and mysterious man on campus. Who is Ty really?

3) What disease does Mae’s father have?

4) Mae has a friend Mercer who is hunted down by Mae’s followers and dies in an accident as a result. Why did Mae and Mercer have a falling out?

5) How does Mae take down The Circle?

Answers

The Circle Preview

With his cadre of Rambos leading the way, Patrick enters the BMTverse. He breathes in the dull, uninspiring air and a part of him knows it’s home. The old rickety Rambo crouches down, his knees giving off loud popping noises, and tastes the earth. “Your brother, he’s been here.” The young spry Rambo with the sad eyes tastes a different spot, “another was with him. The man in black.” At that the older garbage Rabmo hisses, “Vampiro.” Patrick steps forward, “Which way did they head?!” At that the youngest of the Rambos replies bluntly, “No.” But Patrick pleads “I need to get to him before it’s too late. Please!” The Rambos nod, “OK.” At that they head off. From the few monosyllabic statements the Rambos make Patrick is able to glean that Vampiro is a Dracula who has been sucking the BMTverse dry in some mysterious scheme and that Jamie is in grave danger. “So what is the scheme Vampiro has set up?” Patrick asks, and immediately the Rambos point to a large building dominating the skyline of New Angeles. The sign reads, “The Square.” Patrick doesn’t want to say anything but to him The Square looks pretty hip. That’s right! We’re watching the 2017 classic The Circle starring Emma Watson and Tom Hanks about a big ol’ company that totally spies on you. Sound the Ointment Alarm, cause this movie is topical. Let’s go!

Meanwhile, the man in black backflips from his skateboard and and grabs Jamie by the throat. He squints at him, “You really don’t remember me, do you?” Jamie looks closer and notices the sharp Dracula teeth of the Dracula that turned him into a Dracula at Dracula School a year ago. “Vampiro,” he wheezes. “Let him be, baby,” a young sexy voice says from behind Vampiro and four beautiful bodacious beach bunnies come out from the steam. “Sticks and Stone will not be happy if you kill him, Vampiro,” the sexiest of them coos. “Call me Buford, baby,” He replies. That’s right! We’re going for the only Jim Hanks vehicle in history, Buford’s Beach Bunnies. Tom Hanks’ bro plays the titular Buford being titillated by the titular Beach Bunnies. It should be a hoot and in no way sad probably. Let’s go!

The Circle (2017) – BMeTric: 56.8 

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TheCircleIMDb_RV

(Ooooooo for a film like this low-5s is incredibly incredibly low, that is promising. And very consistent across the years as well. Interesting.)

RogerEbert.com – 1.5 stars –  When the story turns into something akin to a nightmarish cousin of “The Truman Show” or “Network,” or the kid sister of Cronenbeg’s “ExistenZ,” you want it to get bigger, wilder, more outrageous, more frightening, and it’s too nice and reasonable and conscientious to do that. The result feels undernourished in just about every way, although Hanks’s performance, John Boyega’s brief role as a founding programmer, and a couple of frightening action sequences break through the tedium.

(Yeah I would have expected it to go very broad in the end … it is pretty concerning that it doesn’t. Like what is this movie about then?)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUlr8Am4zQ0/

(Watching that trailer and I’m thinking Firewall starring Harrison Ford. Reading the review above it … and I’m getting whiffs of The Space Between Us. Which is concerning because that movie was boring.)

Directors – James Ponsoldt – (Known For: The Spectacular Now; The End of the Tour; Smashed; Off the Black; BMT: The Circle; Notes: Went to Yale, and then got a Masters in Fine Arts from Columbia.)

Writers – James Ponsoldt (screenplay by) – (Known For: Smashed; Off the Black; BMT: The Circle; Notes: Is writing and directing a film about “wild animals in Los Angeles” called Wild City.)

Dave Eggers (screenplay by & based on the novel by) – (Known For: Where the Wild Things Are; A Hologram for the King; Promised Land; Away We Go; BMT: The Circle; Notes: Actually an amazing story concerning his parents both dying when he was a young man, and he dropped out of school to raise his youngest brother who was 8 at the time. It became the subject of his fictionalized memoir, the acclaimed A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.)

Actors – Emma Watson – (Known For: Beauty and the Beast; Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2; Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix; Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets; Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1; The Perks of Being a Wallflower; This Is the End; Noah; My Week with Marilyn; The Bling Ring; The Tale of Despereaux; Future BMT: Regression; BMT: The Circle; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actress for The Circle in 2018; Notes: She’s going to be in Little Woman later this year, obviously most famous for her roles in the Harry Potter films where she played Hermoine.)

Tom Hanks – (Known For: Toy Story 4; A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood; Forrest Gump; The Green Mile; Saving Private Ryan; Catch Me If You Can; Toy Story; Toy Story 3; Cloud Atlas; Sleepless in Seattle; Cast Away; Cars; Road to Perdition; Toy Story 2; Sully: Miracle on the Hudson; The Post; Apollo 13; Bridge of Spies; Saving Mr. Banks; Big; Future BMT: He Knows You’re Alone; Larry Crowne; Inferno; Ithaca; The Da Vinci Code; Angels & Demons; BMT: The Circle; The Bonfire of the Vanities; Notes: Ya’ll know Tom Hanks! He’s getting Oscar buzz for his role as Mr. Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.)

John Boyega – (Known For: Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi; Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens; Pacific Rim: Uprising; Detroit; Attack the Block; Half of a Yellow Sun; Imperial Dreams; Junkhearts; BMT: The Circle; Notes: British. You can hear his natural sccent in Attack the Block.)

Budget/Gross – $18 million / Domestic: $20,497,844 (Worldwide: $20,497,844)

(Hmmmm, given the budget that isn’t actually that bad I suppose, but it is a box office disappointment. Their Netflix distribution may have made a bit more of that back since. I’m a little surprised it could be made for so little.)

#55 for the Young-Adult Book Adaptations genre

thecircle2017_yaadaptations

(Our 8th BMT film of this genre. Came right as these types of films stopped making money. Weirdly, not even close to the worst box office we’ve seen beating out The Darkest Minds, Midnight Sun, The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising, and Vampire Academy)

#52 on the Worst Openings – Super Saturated chart

Rotten Tomatoes – 15% (20/135): The Circle assembles an impressive cast, but this digitally driven thriller spins aimlessly in its half-hearted exploration of timely themes.

(Yeah that sounds about right. Float through something significant, but straddle the fence and make it as milquetoast as possible. This is indeed what I expect. Reviewer Highlight: The Circle is a big honking sloppy mess of a movie, one that flops around so aimlessly that it’s baffling so many intelligent people had a hand in making it. – Will Leitch, The New Republic)

Poster – Corporate Sklog-vallience (C+)

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(It’s artsy in the framing and the color is fine. Font makes me sad. At least make the C in Circle be the company’s logo. Not just block bullshit.)

Tagline(s) – Knowing is good. Knowing everything is better. (A-)

(Do you know what’s better than a billion dollars? A gazillion dollars. While I don’t support the message of the tagline I can still recognize that it’s a good tagline.)

Keyword(s) – video surveillance; Top Ten by BMeTric: 82.3 Halloween: Resurrection (2002); 79.5 The Devil Inside (2012); 67.8 College Road Trip (2008); 65.7 Captivity (2007); 65.5 Pulse (I) (2006); 60.4 Maid in Manhattan (2002); 60.2 Sliver (1993); 56.8 The Circle (I) (2017); 52.5 Everly (2014); 52.2 Bangkok Dangerous (2008);

(This is a pretty interesting keyword. Like is that really what Halloween: Resurrection has? College Road Trip? This seems to be one of the rare ones where it is a central theme to the film.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 20) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Tom Hanks is No. 2 billed in The Circle and No. 1 billed in Bonfire of the Vanities, which also stars Bruce Willis (No. 2 billed) who is in The Whole Ten Yards (No. 1 billed), which also stars Natasha Henstridge (No. 4 billed) who is in Ghosts of Mars (No. 1 billed), which also stars Jason Statham (No. 3 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 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 4 + 1 + 3 + 1 + 4 + 1 = 20. If we were to watch Angels & Demons, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 12.

Notes – Bill Paxton died before the film’s release. Glenne Headly, who played his wife in the film, died the same year after the film’s release. (What? I knew Pacton died, but I didn’t realize Glenne Headly died.)

Re-shoots took place four months before release, aimed at making Emma Watson’s character more appealing, but test audience reactions were even worse than previous test screenings. (Jesus THAT was their attempt at making her MORE appealing? She’s insane in the movie)

The scene where Annie video calls Mae was shot by Karen Gillan’s crew while they were filming Gillan’s feature film; The Party’s Just Beginning (2018) in Scotland. (Wow that is interesting)

In the U.K. this film did not get a cinema release but went straight to streaming service Netflix. (Yeah I noticed)

The logo of The Circle was created before the Uber redesign, despite them looking very similar.

The lead role of Mae was first offered to Alicia Vikander, which according to her, was one of three roles offered simultaneously, alongside the roles of Maria in Assassin’s Creed (2016) and Heather in Jason Bourne (2016). Due to fan factor, she opted to do Bourne, thus the producers moving on to casting second choice Emma Watson.

Received a “D+” CinemaScore, which is quite rare. [Variety 2017] (Not surprised)

This is the second time that Tom Hanks has a role in an adaptation of a novel by Dave Eggers. The first was A Hologram for the King (2016). (Never heard of it)

The auditorium scenes were filmed at Citrus Community College’s Haugh Performing Arts Center in Glendora, California.

Opening bridge shot is Dumbarton Bridge in Northern California near Silicon Valley. Fake image of the Circle building located on the Coyote Point recreation park.

The ending was changed significantly for the film adaptation. In the novel, Mae, fully believing in The Circle’s goals and mantras, betrays Ty in his attempt to bring down the company and he is effectively silenced. (WHAT?! THAT IS CRAZY)

Awards – Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Actress (Emma Watson, 2018)

Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace Recap

Jamie

Jobe is back, Jack! And he’s got a new face and a new plan to take over the world with his VR brilliance. But not so fast! Dr. Trace is on the case with his gang of rambunctious teens. Can they stop Jobe (and perhaps get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace!

How?! Jobe is back, Jack! And boy howdy was he all burned up in that fire that we definitely remember. Unwittingly a virtual reality company reconstructs his face (what?) but can’t save his legs (alright) and they just prop him up in a chair so he can start coding up a virtual reality world while they pretend they can’t find a wheelchair for him. Meanwhile Jobe’s old friend Peter is living on the streets of post-apocalyptic LA with his gang of rad teens. They just love hooking into cyberspace and cruising around when suddenly Jobe is there and he’s like “I need help. Find me Dr. Benjamin Trace who totes is important.” Trace lost the patent to a powerful VR tool back in the day but now lives a reclusive life. Peter convinces him to come see Jobe, but when Peter enters cyberspace to let him know Jobe is a straight up crazy person and is all ready to rule the (virtual) world that he’ll convince everyone to hook into. He just needs a little help with a program called Egypt, but Trace refused. Enraged, Jobe send all kinda of subway cars at them, but they escape. Coming up with a plan, Dr. Trace gets in contact with his ex-girlfriend who still works at the company and with her help they steal the Chiron Chip. Unfortunately, they realize too late that they stole a fake and Jobe has bypassed Egypt and is ready to take over the world. In their last ditch effort they break into the company again and enter the virtual world. There they do battle with Jobe with virtual swords and shit and totally own him. Feeling sorry they find him a wheelchair (finally) and take him outside where sunshine makes him smile. THE END. 

Why?! Jobe is still evil and wants to rule the world with his superior intellect. The company is evil and wants to make money. The good guys are by definition not evil and want to stop them. There is also the MacGuffin of the Chiron Chip, which is the key to virtual reality. But as we’ve learned from the Lawnmower Man franchise, perhaps VR is too powerful for us mere mortals.

Who?! It’s claimed on IMDb that Molly Shannon played a homeless woman in the film, but I don’t really recall that. There was also someone portraying the President of the United States in the film who was one of the worst actors I’ve ever seen. I was excited to see who the actor was but apparently he went uncredited and IMDb/the internet can’t help me with the trivia. So Hail to the Chief, President Uncredited is in the house.

What?! There are some props for sale, but they are just boring ol’ ID cards. I wonder who from the crew got away with Jobe’s bonkers gold, bejeweled suit? There was also a video game sequel released at the time of the film, but it involved Dr. Angelo going into Cyberspace to battle Jobe, so not particularly close to the film. And just as poorly received as the first video game adaptation.

Where?! This time we are told explicitly that we are in post-apocalyptic Los Angeles. Surprisingly, they don’t seem particularly interested in explaining why that is. Only a cursory, “Oh, I moved here with my mom and then she died,” without ever mentioning that apparently the world also pretty much ended in that time span as well.

When?! When Dr. Trace and Peter’s GF Jade totally hack the Gibson to figure out where to go after Jobe they are given a time signature: January 24th, 3:35PM. As for the year, it told us that it was set in “The Future” in an intertitle at the beginning so that’s good enough for me. Although judging by Peters age it can’t be much later than 1997. B+.

This film has been on my bucket list for ages. The idea that it was released to theaters in any capacity is high comedy. Whenever I get so hyped for a BMT film it usually ends in disaster. Not the case here! I screamed in silent joy for the entire run time of Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace. Somehow it surpassed even my wildest expectations for what it could be. Did I expect it to take place in a Super Mario Bros-esque post apocalyptic LA hellscape? Nope, but it did. Did I expect Jobe to be a legless man played by a Jim Carrey act-alike? Nope, but he was. Could I have possibly expected our heroes to subdue their VR corporate foes and then help Jobe (the bad guy of the film) return to the world full of joy? Definitely not, and yet there Jobe was laughing and laughing and laughing while looking at a sunset. Nothing will ever surpass Here on Earth in exemplifying what it means to be a BMT film, but this came mighty close. This is what an instant BMT classic feels like and… I’m… I’m getting a little emotional. Forgive me. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! 500th film guitar riff, and I have to say, we picked a doozy. Sometimes you think after 500 films there can’t possibly be more bananas films to watch, but … let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – I actually knew more about the original The Lawnmower Man than this one. I remember maybe my older brothers watching The Lawnmower Man, or maybe I caught a bit on television. This I was stunned to see was directed by the Max Headroom guy, and that the neighbor in Honey I Shrunk the Kids was Max Headroom himiself, and is Jobe in this! The entire thing looked crazy, like Highlander 2: The Quickening so … I guess I was just very excited? What were my expectations? B-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-bonkers shit. If there are 10 b’s on the bonkers chain then I would be happy as a clam with regards to the 500th BMT film.

The Good – Nothing is genuinely good in this film. Nothing. Things are ironically good, but as everyone knows irony is dead and we take things super duper seriously here at BMTHQ. So genuinely nothing is good in this film, so … let’s get to the good stuff.

The Bad – Hooooooooooo doggie … Where to begin? The graphics are awful. Somehow deciding to just film people in a forest and declaring “this is a computer simulation” is worse than The Lawnmower Man’s graphic’s version of VR. The film has nothing to do with the original, and it is kind of offensive that they even bothered to try and connect it. Matt Frewer was awful and is a completely different character than the original Jobe. They have a weird thing about him being a double amputee, and in the end … my God, the end! In the end they go out into the real world and back in the sunshine and I guess he’s no longer a megalomaniacal genius? Future dystopian LA as the setting is crazy and unnecessary … like how did we get from The Lawnmower Man to this in 10 years? Why not connect it to The Shop? It is just bullshit. The bad guys are one-dimensionally bad, moustache twirling garbage with literally “money! crime!” as their motivation. The kid actors are awful. Initially I tried to write this section as a stream of consciousness, but it came out basically as a garbled word salad, so I rewrote it, but that is basically how this film makes me feel.

The BMT – Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. This is like Highlander 2: The Quickening, but watched at a time where my BMT tastes have somewhat matured. While watching the beginning I almost cried when Jobe appears in the simulation the first time. I’m not joking, I’m 100% serious, I got emotional. That is how incredibly terrible/amazing this film is. It is one of hte first honest to god, so-bad-its-good films I’ve seen in years. Years! Did it meet my expectations? Heeeeeeeeeeeell yeah.

Roast-radamus – It has an outside shot for Setting as a Character (Where?) for it’s very Double Dragon post-apocalyptic LA. In the same vein it could get something for its time period (of “future!!” with two exclamation points), but we tend to always go for secret holiday films. It definitely has a good chance for MacGuffin (Why?) with the mysterious Chiron Chip … which honestly, I’m not sure I know what it does still, it like … makes an internet maybe? And of course this might be the favorite for the BMT film of the year. A good crop.

StreetCreditReport.com – Again, I’m not surprised it didn’t hit on any the worst of lists for 1996, this one in particular would definitely fly below the radar for most critics. Like The Lawnmower Man it was also on the list of films with virtual reality. This one really has credit because it is … just well known as a bad movie. It has an astonishingly low 2.5 on IMDb, and goes hand in hand with Highlander 2: The Quickening (which is on wikipedia’s worst movies ever list … this really should be there as well).

You Just Got Schooled – Matt Frewer has been a character actor for years, but he kind of started out as Max Headroom, which I vaguely knew of because of the Max Headroom incident in Chicago. I decided to watch an episode. There was an original TV Movie, a talk show, a television show based on the movie, and then a revival of the talk show. I naturally watched the last one because it was short and easy to find. And … it is awful.

Holy shit. All of the jokes are try hard garbage, Frewer is exasperating, and the interactions with Max ends up being so difficult for the guests to deal with that … it hurts me. I am physically hurt by this show. I am interested in the original television movie though, but that is for another time. Interestingly I commented to Jamie that I thought Frewer should have avoided his characterization of Jobe in Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace because it was too reminiscent of Jim Carrey (especially as The Riddler in Batman Forever which had come out the year before). But in reality he was just playing Max Headroom. And apparently Jim Carrey has said that many of his manic characters are somewhat based on Frewer’s portrayal of Max Headroom. So I guess I should have scolded Jim Carrey for stealing Frewer’s thunder instead. Good to know.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

The Lawnmower Man Recap

Jamie

Dr. Angelo has unlocked the key to super smartness through virtual reality, but when he shares it with his developmentally delayed lawnmower man, Jobe, he soon finds it out of control. With new telekinetic powers Jobe is ready to take over the world. Can Dr. Angelo stop him (and maybe get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… The Lawnmower Man.

How?! Dr. Lawrence Angelo is a super smart scientist who has unlocked the key to learning through virtual reality. When the most talented of his ape subjects goes berserk and kills a bunch of people before being killed itself, Dr. Angleo kinda loses his shit. Soon his life is in shambles and he decides to take the testing underground and prove that it works on human patients without the aggressive factors his funders want him to use. Working with his developmentally delayed landscaper, Jobe, he soon makes him super smart just like him… except like way smarter. Like he’s beating everyone in video games smart… and he also all of a sudden has a super smokin’ bod and all the ladies are like “who’s that?”… and also he starts having headaches and can hear what people are thinking… oh, and also he can move stuff with his mind. Anyway, While Dr. Angelo is out of town meeting with his funders, Jobe decides to share his powers with his lady love and unknowingly uses the old formulation and busts her brain. Enraged, he decides that it’s time to take over the world and goes off on a killing spree against those that he feels have wronged him or others that he cares about. Dr. Angelo learns of the swapped drugs and comes back in time to try to stop Jobe in his ultimate goal of entering cyberspace and taking over everyone’s minds. He is able to lock Jobe out of communication with the internet, leaving him trapped in the computer that Dr. Angelo has rigged with explosives. Just before they go off, though, Jobe is able to find a backdoor out. Feeling pretty jazzed Dr. Angelo is ready to go off and probably smooch on some ladies but BUM BUM BUM… Jobe is out there. Uh oh! THE END.  

Why?! Science! Dr. Angelo sees the promise in virtual reality for expanding the mind. Particularly for helping those that have trouble learning. His funder though, termed The Shop, see it differently and insist he use aggressive factors. Dr. Angelo is pretty short sighted apparently, because this obviously is because The Shop wants to make a new weapon using VR. As for our unwitting antagonist, Jobe, he just wants to be a lawnmower man… you know before he decides that the world must bow down before his great intellect.

Who?! Not much to highlight here, so I’ll just mention the curious fact that this was originally marketed as Stephen King’s The Lawnmower Man after combining an unrelated script called CyberGod with one of his short stories. King is well known to not like adaptations that veer from the source, so I could understand that this would drive him bonkers. What’s even crazier is that the studio kept on ignoring the court orders and he had to sue them over and over. Anyway, I read the story before and I honestly didn’t even think it was that crazy of an adaptation. They took a very short story about a Greek god/satyr/killer lawnmower man and made it about a man that is turned into a god and becomes a killer lawnmower man… it’s at least inspired by Stephen King.

What?! There is so little to highlight here that I started to read about the video game adaptations that came out. Apparently it’s a mix of action and puzzles and flying and mostly got bad reviews. In fact at the time it made it on some lists of the worst video games ever made. I think I just got an idea for a new blog.

Where?! Patrick and I had a long discussion about this. Mostly stemming from the fact that Wikipedia has this listed as a film set in California. While it obviously is filmed in LA, I contest that there is just no way it is set there. Dr. Angelo has a meeting in Washington DC. We see him escape at night and start the drive back to his house. The next morning he arrives at his house. It just has to be in New York or perhaps, given the source, Maine or something. But I’m pretty confident it’s not set in California. Or at least confident that Wikipedia can’t be confident it’s set in California. Regardless, D-.

When?! Fortunately for us (and the criminal justice system) Dr. Angelo keeps a running diary of his illegal human experimentation. We seem him start it in early May and then finish it on July 10th. So the whole movie runs about two months. You can say a lot of things about Dr. Angelo, but you can’t say he didn’t get results in his unethical underground human trial. B+

I think there are a lot of interesting things going on in this film and probably the only BMT thing about it is that you get the sense that it’s been hacked to shit. Like… Dr. Angelo’s wife is there for three seconds and then just disappears, never to be heard from again. No wonder the Director’s Cut is like double the length. But really the thing you hear about it is the computer graphics and how dated they are but… I didn’t really mind them. They were actually very clever given the limitations of the time. Like abstract art. I was actually impressed more than anything else. My biggest gripe with the film is that Dr. Angelo is allegedly our “hero” but is more or less a criminal. He seems to have no issue with the fact that he experiments on a human being and is very invested in the “end justifies the means” method. Then, when this all blows up in his face due to the unethical nature of his funders, he doesn’t reflect on the fact that what he did was wrong and had disastrous consequences. In fact, at the end of the film he is still talking about having to take his work underground… mere seconds before his work causes a worldwide disaster! He’s a pretty bad dude, but the film never really addresses or acknowledges that fact. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! So what happens when we schedule a film and forget that the previous one also qualifies? Well … we watch three movies in a weekend. We don’t leave men behind here at BMTHQ. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – The main thing is the computer graphics. Those can easily sink an otherwise fine film. I was also genuinely curious about Pierce Brosnan. Just because outside of James Bond I don’t think I’ve really seen young Pierce Brosnan act very much. Fahey had a little outside shot at the Tropic Thunder Simple Jack corner going on as well, I was very curious as to how he would act out his character early in the film. What are my expectations? I was I guess hoping the entire thing would be a silly disaster with people going into computers TRON style and everything just going off the rails in the end. Otherwise it is just a stepping stone to its sequel.

The Good – I actually thought this film was pretty decent for the most part. The computer graphics have aged in such a way that it all kind of makes sense. I think the recent trend towards 8-bit and cheap-looking graphics helps immensely to make it seem mostly stylized at this point. I was also pleased with the evil corporation, which was giving me whiffs of RoboCop. Once you get past some of the early issues, the film does mature a bit into a decent techno-thriller.

The Bad – The beginning of the film is a mess, in particular the character of Pierce Brosnan’s wife was obviously cut from the film … except they couldn’t cut her so they just had her leave at one point. The entire film also spreads itself too film. The Lawnmower Man has beefs with: the abusive father, the abusive priest, the abusive guy at the gas station, the evil corporation / government entity, and Pierce Brosnan. Too many. They should have cut the priest and merged the gas station attendant and the abusive father. It would have focused Fahey’s simmering anger onto a single figure and clarified things. There is a decent argument that the eeeeeeeevil corporation / government entity was a bit too moustache twirlingly eeeeeeevil, but what can you do, it’s the 90s.

The BMT – Only by association. I think this is a lot closer to Good than Bad in the end, and its association with its sequel is what makes it BMT. If Highlander got bad reviews it would have been the same thing with Highlander 2: The Quickening. Did it meet my expectations? No I don’t think so. Or at least, not as a bad movie. It wasn’t nuts enough and the computer graphics weren’t terrible enough to get it over the top. As a good movie, it was a pleasant surprise though.

Roast-radamus – I think it has a very very outside shot at Good. And maybe the only other category it has a chance at is Worst Twist (How?). The twist being The Lawnmower Man getting into the telephone system and making all of the phones in the world ring all at once in the end, his birth cry as he says. I guess by itself it is jarring and perhaps a bit scary. But it is also incredibly obvious, and it is completely thrown away in the sequel. It is just a weird choice. The film won’t get anything in the end I don’t think.

StreetCreditReport.com – I’m not surprised it didn’t hit on any of the worst of lists I could find. It did get a shoutout at 35 for worst computer graphics in film (fair). And then both Lawnmower Man films get a shoutout on this list of films with virtual reality. Otherwise I can’t really think of another category it would qualify for … maybe for actors playing a disabled person, or worst Pierce Brosnan films.

Sklognalysis – Again, no time for schooling people. Here, … let’s go with a short analysis of eeeeeeeeevil scientists in BMT. The main one I always go back to is Dr. Alexander McCabe in the movie Bats, who ultimately is hoisted by his own petard when his mutant bats tear him apart with their razor wings. Brosnan is definitely an evil scientist. His arrogance convinces him that he can save humanity, that his science trumps the ethics surrounding human testing of new scientific methods. And in the end he creates a living god who can kill at will and take over the world. Sure the eeeeeeeevil corporation / government entity causes some of the issues by trying to hijack his research to create the ultimate weapon, but Brosnan’s inability to see that he is already creating a weapon with or without the enhanced aggression protocol is his downfall. I do love the neo-luddite aspects of evil scientists in film (a staple of Michael Crichton). Unfortunately, Brosnan misses it a bit as they pull the punch and place most of the blame on The Shop, the weird corporation / government entity that is funding him. I would have enjoyed the movie even more if Brosnan created his God and then sacrifices himself to save humanity from his abomination. It would have further simplified an already pretty messy film as well.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Hackers Recap

Jamie

Dade Murphy is an elite hacker just looking to have some fun. After moving to NYC he gets involved with a hacking group that finds itself the target of an evil corporate hacker who is worried they will expose his criminal scheme. Can they stop the evil hacker (and get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… Hackers.

How?! Dade Murphy aka Zero Cool aka Crash Override is just a regular ol’ high school student… other than being a totally elite hacker! C00ool! As a kid he crashed a bunch of Wall Street computers and has spent his youth on probation. So when he moves to New York City he goes through all the trials and tribulations of the “new kid” while also being drawn into the hacker scene that he’s been barred from enjoying. When one of the hacker gang, Joey, gets caught hacking a Gibson supercomputer run by an eeeeevil oil company they have to figure out why they are claiming the Joey is part of a hacker group looking to use a virus to crash oil tankers. Due to his record Dade is intimidated into giving over a copy of the disk Joey partially copied off a garbage file on the Gibson. Realizing his mistake, he joins up with his crew to figure out what the hell is going on. Using his beautiful mind hacking skillz, Dade figures out that the garbage file contains a worm that the oil company’s computer security expert/elite hacker, The Plague, has been using to steal millions of dollars. Worried that Joey may have copied everything in the file, The Plague is using the virus as a cover so he can blame the hackers for the theft. Realizing that they are going to take the fall, Dade concocts a scheme to hack the Gibson and download the whole garbage file to get definitive proof. They band together a worldwide network of hackers to distract The Plague with viruses. In an epic hack battle (as the kids say) they are able to copy the garbage file and take down the Gibson before getting arrested. But with the new proof they are able to implicate The Plague and Dade totes smooches his lady love Kate. Rad. THE END.

Why?! The Plague wants money. He sees himself as a hired hand. A cowboy out there taming the wild west of the computer world and so has little qualms stealing from the people he considers beneath him. As for the hackers they just want to free information for the good of the people. They see the government and corporations using the power of computing to ruthlessly make money and spy on people. They just expose this information to the people for examination. When this gets them mixed up with The Plague this turns the motivation towards a MacGuffin. The garbage file in the mythical Gibson supercomputer. Unhackable… or is it? It’s like a bank heist where the safe is the Gibson and the treasure is the garbage file. Solid.

Who?! For films like this I knew there would be interesting credits like what you find for Dave Buchwald, who served as a “computer hacking consultant”. This is the only one on IMDb, but on the film itself there are several other Hackers credited in that capacity (including Emmanual Goldstein, Cereal Killer’s real name). There is also a performance by Urban Dance Squad near the end of the film. Fun fact: the band also had a song on the soundtrack for Gigli. Nice. Oh and as Patrick pointed out, Joey is actually a really nice example of a Planchet. 

What?! The sheer number of Coca-Cola product placements is impressive, not to mention an in-film commercial for Jolt Cola. I obviously would have loved to garb myself head-to-toe in Dade’s wardrobe if possible, but unfortunately, while some of it is listed online, it seems that they are just for show and not for sale. Well, duh. Who would willing part with such treasure?

Where?! This is a fantastic NYC film. Really of the city with the hacker culture, the techno music, Stuyvesant, and just ‘blading up and down town. You could say that there are a number of cities it could take place, but I disagree. Just wouldn’t feel the same anywhere but New York. A.

When?! This actually made me angry. It certainly seemed like summer when they moved to NYC and then Dade starts up at school that Fall and seems to pretty quickly integrate into the Hacker crowd. So when they said the Da Vinci virus was going live on the 14th was pretty set on a vague October 14th date. Then Dade checks his watch the day of the big hack and it says it’s Wednesday, October 18th 1995. WTF, Hackers. You just told me that it was all going down on the 14th and then whoever is responsible for getting a shot of Dade’s watch fumbles the perfectly lobbed pass? At that point I turned off the film and vowed never to watch it again. B+. Nice exact(ish) date, but not necessary to the plot.

I certainly had a fun time watching this movie. In fact, if you removed some of the sillier looking visuals used for the computers and hacking stuff, then I’m not sure I’d say there was much to it that was even BMT. It’s still enjoyable to watch and I think better written than perhaps its given credit for. It’s always fun to watch something like this for BMT because we end up paying so much more attention to the plot. Not just about the intricacies of The Plague’s entire scheme, but about The Plague himself. The film intentionally sets up the world of hacking, which is a world of curiosity, not crime. They are using computers to bring freedom, in that they use their skills to enter and expose things to the light that people want hidden. It’s their belief that they aren’t committing crimes, and in fact the people and companies they are hacking are often the ones committing crimes and then covering it up under the guise of going after the hackers. Is The Plague a hacker, then? Not according to the film. He is obviously elite (duh), but he also is using his skills to keep things hidden (mostly his own crimes). He thinks he’s a hacker, but he’s not. He even tries to be a hacker with his skateboard and disdain for the government agents, but it’s a disguise. One that he exchanges at the end in his attempt to escape to Japan. See? BMT movies that actually aren’t all that bad always get me thinking a lot more than I expect. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! I have seen Hackers approximately 30 times … so yeah, let’s go ahead and pretend this is a bad movie. This sounds like a fun game. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – Nothing can convince me this is a bad movie. There are ways for me to realize it is maybe a messy movie, or a dumb movie. But a bad movie? Impossible. But I was amused to see if my viewing changed at all given we were now doing it for BMT. What are my expectations? To pop a big bowl of popcorn and enjoy a movie night in. I had no plans to think any less of this movie so don’t even try.

The Good – The movie is pure entertainment, in the cheesiest more hilarious early 90s computer-y way. The choice of doing the computer sequence practically ages incredibly well. While I could imagine these days the film could have aged into its effects over time, there would have been a ten year period from maybe 2000-2010 where Hackers would have looked dumb as shit with out-of-date graphics. Instead the “graphics” still kind of look state of the art because … well, they aren’t graphics, they are models. Lillard and Jolie are really good and it is kind of incredible they are in this movie. It makes New York look mythical, even though in reality it had a pretty bad crime problem at the time. Oh, did I mention it is an incredibly entertaining movie I love?

The Bad – The movie is a complete mess from a directing perspective. I know it is apparently his trademark, but the random pop culture clips they occasionally cut to haven’t aged very well because, to be honest, it has been done better since then. Additionally, they completely botch the timeline of the film which makes it incredibly confusing. It was only now, on probably my 30th watch, and with the intention of close watching the film that I fully discerned The Plague’s ploy and how all of the pieces fit together. The film is non-linear at times, and it is definitely not intentional. The hackers are more criminal than they seem to want to make you believe, but it is all in good fun but like … poor Agent Gill. Mostly messy, with some brutal acting.

The BMT – I love this movie and I’m offended it even qualifies. So no, it is not BMT. It probably enters into a select list of “genuinely good movies” we’ve watched for BMT. Freddy Got Fingered, Tango & Cash, and this. Genuinely good movies. I declare it. Did it meet my expectations? Actually yeah. I’m pretty shocked that I noticed new things during the viewing. The power of BMT close watching I guess. Who knew I still had wonderful things to learn from this film.

Roast-radamus – This will easily enter in The Good for the year. Wait .. is Joey a Planchet (Who?) … I think he is! That’s pretty wonderful. If we had realized this we could have named it the Joey instead. What a life, I love you Jesse Bradford. The Product Placement (What?) is off the chain for this film, but the craziest one I think is for Jolt Cola which runs an honest to god ad in the middle of the film during Razor and Blade’s show. And I do think this is a Setting as a Character (Where?) in that New York City, the city that never sleeps, is quintessential to the plot. Also a great MacGuffin (Why?) with the Gibson and the garbage file, which most characters only know as the thing that Ellingson Minerals really really wants for some reason. That is quite the list for a genuinely good film.

StreetCreditReport.com – While I obviously disagree, CNN did throw it onto a list of worst “tech” films. I have now seen all but Antitrust on that list. Also they admit it is a cult classic, so I think that is a win. Otherwise I couldn’t find it on either underappreciated or worst of lists for 1995. I would put it at number one best Jesse Bradford movies ever. Unfortunately it can’t be on Matthew Lillard’s best of list because Freddy Prinze Jr. isn’t in it.

You Just Got Schooled – Since I watched three movies this weekend I didn’t have time to watch anything else to “school” you. Luckily, the Hacker Manifesto from January 8, 1986 is pretty short and also still online, preserved in Phrack Magazine where it originally appeared. “This is our world now… the world of the electron and the switch, the beauty of the baud.  We make use of a service already existing without paying for what could be dirt-cheap if it wasn’t run by profiteering gluttons, and you call us criminals.” That was pretty much read out loud in the film. The rest of it sounds frighteningly like the “lazy genius” nonsense you hear people claim sometimes, but … well in this case Loyd Blankenship is actually probably a genuine genius and those fundamental misunderstandings with adults probably did happen when growing up in Texas in the 70s.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace Quiz

Hmmmm, let’s see. I remember being resurrected from cyberspace in dystopian LA, but to be perfectly honest I didn’t really pay much attention to what’s been happening. Did you? Do you know what happened in Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) In the beginning of the film Jobe is recovered and revived. Why?

2) Peter Parkette now lives in post-apocalyptic LA with his gang of wiley orphans (what happened to his mother? Who cares, I guess she’s dead, did you hear what I said? We’re in dystopian LA! It’s Double Dragon all over again!). Where is their hideout located?

3) In the middle of the film a government official of some kind visits the facility. Why? And what happens to him?

4) Ultimately, Dr. Benjamin Trace the inventor of the Chiron Chip is coaxed out of hiding. What is his plan to stop Jobe before it is too late!?

5) And when that doesn’t work, what is the plan to infiltrate cyberspace and stop Jobe in his natural habitat: VR ‘puter-town? I’m pretty sure that is what the weird city they created is called.

Answers