BMT:CSI:SVU: We’re the Special Victims #2

This is a continuation of the long-term IMDb data analysis using the Internet Archive. Thanks Internet Archive! You can see part one of this series here. Cheers.

‘Ello everyone. A few months back (or a few days with regards to this website) I tried to solve the BMysTery of the mysterious inflection point in IMDb Data. Don’t know what I mean? The short run down is that a lot of movies seems to have two slopes, one for growth before 2011 and one for after. The previous post explored that and came to a (I think) reasonable conclusion. So what is all this about then? Well, I have a ton of data just lying around and something just kicked up and itched my brain. Time for the long story.

You guys know Material Girls right? Hilary and Haylie Duff vehicle, pretty big deal. Well, every time we do a preview for a movie we generate trajectories for both IMDb rating and votes through time. Usually this results in a scream of “WHY?! Why has the rating of this terrible film gone up over time?!” And typically it was left there, because hey, people have different tastes, and maybe it is just kind of a trait of the data. But then Material Girls!

MaterialGirls_RV

First, holy moley that 2011 inflection. Even the rating has an inflection! This was a huge red flag for me. Second, the rating jumps 2.5 points! That is patently absurd. Through all of this I couldn’t help but think maybe …. it was related to this recent blog post by fivethirtyeight. But then I was looking through some of my very old programs and stumbled onto a very prescient comment:

#Look at that variance! Awesome, basically regression to the mean.
#Movies are superlative when they come out
#End up regressing both up and down to the mean

So that’s what this (short) entry will look at: The regression to the mean in IMDb ratings. Something I clearly knew about literally 7 months ago then managed to forget pretty much instantaneously … yeah, I’m an idiot.

First start with a plot of all of the rating data I’ve got:

Ratings

Nonsense. But you can kind of see that things condense as time goes by. But it is all easier if you plot the rating change (over ten years) by the initial rating of the movie. I’ve included a regression and Material Girls is marked out by a blue square:

RatingsPlot

Nice. Pretty much the entirety of the crazy jump in ratings is explained by regression to the mean. Just look at Material Girls. And funny enough the rating at which it crosses over, 6.0, is kind of the cut off point for bad movies as well, which is fun.

It is interesting, especially looking at the first plot: the rating doesn’t just regress by some exponential, it pretty much follows the voting trajectory. But … yeah, they aren’t that correlated:

RatingsVotesPlot

The rating can’t move without votes, so it following the vote trajectory through time I think is just a consequence of that inherent underlying connection. And I think that’ll just about do it for that. The regression is interesting, but probably at this point hard to utilize for good. It could be used in tandem with a vote number trajectory predictor to try and predict vote/rating trajectories into the past. But predicting votes is the rub, and I’ve found rather difficult.

But I declare this BMysTery closed! It wasn’t that hard, I mean, I apparently knew the answer seven months ago, but yeah, bad movie IMDb ratings tend to go up (and the opposite for good movies) over time. It isn’t people waking up and realizing movies are better than their rating, it is just regression to the mean. And Material Girls probably wasn’t brigaded by guys.

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BMT:CSI:SVU: We’re the Special Victims #1

Editor’s Note: This analysis was initially performed in October of 2015. The plots have been cleaned up and updated (so that I don’t look like I’m incompetent). At the time we were basically just starting in on the use of historical data to explore the evolution of bad movies through time, an ongoing project. We are, of course, indebted to the Internet Archive which has been diligently collecting this data for years. Cheers.

Welcome to BMT:CSI:SVU (we’re the special victims). This section uses high-tech forensic science (not really) to solve the mysteries of BMT … you could even call this a BMysTery. For the first in this series I naturally decided to present my boldest analysis to date. It asked the question: What really has happened to the voting and ratings through time on IMDb? The initial idea was to start in on trying to predict ultimate vote counts based on an initial vote trajectory … I got waylaid a bit. I started by taking every movie listed on OMDB that has a release year of 2005 (658 movies). I wanted a solid 10 years of samples. I went to the Internet Archive and then took 20 vote/rating sample (the two nearest archived pages on either side of the new year from 2006 to 2015) for every movie that had a valid page (the vote number being greater than 5) prior to January 1, 2006 and after January 1, 2015. I finally just linearly approximated vote/rating pairs for each New Year Day from 2006 to 2015.

The resulting data set had 471 movies (yeah … I took about 10000 page calls, sorry Internet Archive)  each with approximate vote/rating pairs for 10 data points (New Years Day from 2006 to 2015).

RatingTime

The rating plot isn’t that interesting, it shows that the ratings have dropped a little over time without much of a trend. Although this doesn’t jive with a lot of the individual plots I generated previously which suggested rather strongly that the rating tends to increase with more votes being cast. Instead I ended up finding that there isn’t a correlation between how the rating changes and the current rating or number of votes, something to be investigated further in the future I think.

If you normalize the voting trajectories based on the number of votes on New Years Day 2015 though you get a more interesting result.

VotesNorm

Basically, it looks like the samples are split into two groups: movies that gained most of their votes after 2010 and those that gained most votes before 2010. This is in fact a trend: there is the odd anomaly in IMDb data whereby movies seemed to have an inflection point sometime in 2011. This can be more easily seen using the sum of all the votes, and in 2011 the total number of votes all of a sudden starts to increase:

VotesMean

Say what? That doesn’t quite jive with what we saw in the trajectories before. But it is true, a bunch of movies have either the 2011 inflection visible (red) or they appear to have leveled off since initial release (green, a much more expected trend). Here are the top and bottom 10 ranked by deviation from a linear trendline:

VotesExtrema

 

So in order to quantify the difference between the two trajectories I note that the mean normalized trajectory is roughly linear:

VotesNormMean

 By correcting for this the normalized and corrected vote count trajectories now go from zero to zero. If you sum across the normalized and corrected trajectories then normal trajectories will have a positive value and those with the 2011 Inflection will have a negative value. I called this value S (for sum, inventive I know).

The thing I thought was interesting was if you then plot the S value against the log(votes) from IMDB you see a rather strong correlation between the two:

SCorrelation

 Against the rating it is a bit more unclear. And while I won’t get into the nitty gritty (mutual information, distance correlation, and partial correlations all support what I’m about to say by the way, the Pearson correlation is reported above the plot and the data does appear linear so this is probably sufficient), basically I would say rather confidently that whether the 2011 Inflection is present or not is strongly linked to the popularity (number of IMDB votes) of the movie in question. Specifically, more popular movies are more likely to have the inflection.

This result is probably the strong indicator that a previously held belief about the 2011 inflection is true: the inflection has to do with IMDB expanding their smartphone/internet presence and seeing a sudden influx of new customers in 2011. Why? Because these new customers are more likely to vote on the initial wildly popular movies than something like Crispin Glover’s directoral debut. So for movies released prior to 2011, the most popular movies are much much more likely to see gains (and thus the inflection).

An alternative theory would perhaps be the international angle. As the international user base grows those users are also much much more likely to vote on the wildly popular movies (which are more likely to be available in foreign languages and released internationally). There are two reasons I think this is less likely. First, the inflection is seen in both international and US vote statistics (scraped from the much less robust Internet Archive data set of the IMDB ratings pages, and normalized by the maximum value in the windowed year average):

NationalVotes

Indeed, looking at the percentage of votes from international users and the increase (proportionally) is rather linear in reality, no inflection:

InternationalPercent

Second, I think there would be a lot more foreign language outliers in that case. A case where users from, say, Hong Kong increase, then those movies (with a much smaller number of votes) would have also seen the inflection. But in general I don’t think that was true (although I haven’t looked too closely, but I think I would have noticed that).

So that’s it. I declare this BMysTery closed! I think it is definitely due to a sudden influx of new users probably due to the widespread adoption of smartphones and development of the IMDB app. I should point out it still could be bots, because bots might try and fake out IMDB’s automated purging algorithms by voting on (likely) popular movies. But I don’t really see why that is more likely than my conclusion which I think makes total sense. Case closed I say!

Jamie’s Peer Review

I agree, particularly since you can find that around that time is when the IMDB apps became available. In June of 2010 (less than a year before the inflection) the android app launched in conjunction with a IMDB Everywhere initiative, where the company made a concerted effort at expanding their presence on mobile devices. The only thing that is a little curious is that the inflection seems pretty exact (I would wonder what kind of distribution we are talking about for the inflection point. Is it always the same point? Or are we seeing the inflection as a range starting around June 2010?). Would be weird if the initiative started in June 2010 and showed no effectiveness for a half a year before seeing a dramatic effect all at one time. Would still beg the question as to what specifically caused the dramatic effect… just curious. Probably still related to the initiative though.

The Fog (2005) Preview

Leaving The Avengers behind, we make our way to the Horror/Thriller category of the calendar. Unfortunately, the calendar is woefully bereft of thrillers so this is really just  a horror category. With that in mind, why not choose one of the worst reviewed horror films released in the 2000’s? That’s right, we’re doing the remake of The Fog from 2005. The original was directed by one of my favorite directors of all time John Carpenter, so at the very least we’ll get to enjoy watching that before being disappointed by the new version. It’s the most BMT film released on October 14th, beating out Elizabethtown, Domino, Exit to Eden, and (most interestingly) the 2011 prequel of The Thing. A different John Carpenter material made (terribly) for the modern world. What are the chances that it would be released on the exact same day 6 years later? Let’s go!

The Fog (2005) – BMeTric: 76.4

TheFog_BMeT

TheFog_RV

(So I have a theory. The past few weeks we’ve hit the 70+ BMeTric hard, and the plots have looked amazingly similar. Cat in the Hat, Taxi, The Avengers, this … they don’t half ass it. They go balls to the wall and hit that 70+ hard. Really I think that is the key. When Jack and Jill came out, for example, everyone knew this was a catastrophe (it sits pretty at 80+ these days). I think that these are movies that just seem like a bad idea on paper and then double down with terrible execution to boot. And yet … out of those four doesn’t The Fog kind of stand out? Seems like an outlier, like it doesn’t belong? For me I barely remember this thing. I wonder why people were so immediately against the film (2.9 rating early on is absurd). I have theories … see the box office section below for more. I finally put the votes/rating chart up because why? Why would The Fog’s rating rise over time? All part of the weird world of IMDb user ratings)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars – A dense fog from the Pacific creeps over a Northwest seaside village, bringing with it murderous, vengeful ghosts. Lame remake of John Carpenter’s 1980 movie alters the plot slightly but is no improvement. Carpenter and his longtime partner Debra Hill produced this. Alternate version also available.  

(This sounds like a 1.5 star review considering Leonard already didn’t like the original all that much (2.5 stars). For those that are interested, the alternate version is an unrated widescreen edition that includes a director’s commentary that I may or may not have ordered through my local library system [Editor’s note: little old library ladies seemingly don’t know what unrated means. I. Am. Furious].)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWH1WlzXbko

(Not sure what I’m supposed to get out of that trailer besides the fact that Antonio Island is perpetually shrouded in darkness. Not even sure who the main characters are.)

Directors – Rupert Wainwright – (BMT: The Fog; Blank Check; Stigmata; Notes: Say whaaaaaaaaaaaat? You telling me staple-of-the-sklogs-childhood Blank Check was (1) a bad movie, and (2) directed by the guy who directed The Fog? Count me in, this movie is definitely amazing. An apparently prolific music video director he was featured on the British Millionaire Matchmaker.)

Writers – Cooper Layne (screenplay) – (Known For: The Core; BMT: The Fog; Notes: Saaaaaaaaaaay Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? You telling me staple-of-the-sklogs-late-night-movie-watching-indulgences The Core was (1) a good movie, and (2) written by the same guy who wrote The Fog? Count me double in, this movie is definitely double amazing. There isn’t much more about him besides that he had a small part in Coneheads.)

John Carpenter (1980 screenplay) – (Known For: Halloween; They Live; Escape from L.A.; Escape from New York; The Fog; Halloween H20: 20 Years Later; Prince of Darkness; Assault on Precinct 13; Assault on Precinct 13; Eyes of Laura Mars; Dark Star; BMT: The Fog; Halloween: Resurrection; Halloween III: Season of the Witch; Ghosts of Mars; Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers; Halloween 5; Halloween; Black Moon Rising; Halloween II; Notes: A lot of these credits are for this kind of stuff, remakes. But BMT classic Ghosts of Mars is pretty special. Honestly, Halloween, Escape from New York and especially his directing credits like The Thing are all remarkable both as films, but also for their mind blowing practical effects. I can say without hesitation he is one of my favorite filmmakers of all time.)

Debra Hill (1980 screenplay) – (Known For: Halloween; Escape from L.A.; The Fog; Halloween H20: 20 Years Later; BMT: The Fog; Halloween: Resurrection; Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers; Halloween 5; Halloween; Halloween II; Notes: One of the most famous female producers of her time she worked with Carpenter on many of his early films. Was serving as producer of The Fog right around when she was diagnosed and subsequently died of cancer sadly.)

Actors – Tom Welling – (Known For: Draft Day; Parkland; BMT: The Fog; Cheaper by the Dozen 2; Cheaper by the Dozen; Notes: Owns (or maybe owned) a house on Martha’s Vineyard (what, what) where he was married. Probably best known for playing Superman on Smallville.)

Maggie Grace – (Known For: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2; Taken; Knight and Day; Faster; The Jane Austen Book Club; BMT: The Fog; The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1; Taken 3; We’ll Never Have Paris; Lockout; Taken 2; The Choice; Notes: Best known for running really weird in Taken… oh and for her work on Lost.)

Also stars Selma Blair who is becoming a BMT staple with The Sweetest Thing and Down to You in her repertoire.

Budget/Gross – $18 million / Domestic: $29,550,869 (Worldwide: $46,201,432 Worldwide)

(Actually looks OK just by the numbers, but it was considered a pretty big disappointment when it came out. Just a year before The Grudge was able to make $187 million worldwide on a smaller budget, so I think that’s what they had in mind. That obviously did not happen.)

#32 for the Horror Remake genre

TheFogAnalysis

(Bam, new plot. I made this to explore my theory on why this movie was so destroyed in BMeTric. Using a windowing method, it sums up the number of theaters showing movies of this genre on a date plus or minus a year from a date in time (blue). And also the gross per theater for these movies (over their entire domestic run, green). The Fog is shown as a dashed red line in time. Hypothesis: This movie was the last straw for horror movie fans for remakes of 80’s films. And the plot bears this out! The genre was almost born in 2000 and grew to a plateau right when The Fog came out. And right as the gross was a-tumbling. It has since appeared to almost die as a genre. But I think this is a product of the blockbuster (Star Wars, Marvel, DC, etc.) dominating and saturating the theaters over the last five year. But we’ll see. Regardless I am convinced this is part of the reason this movie was thoroughly destroyed on IMDb (and thus the BMeTric), horror fans are … particular and love to vote on IMDb it seems. Right around future BMT classics The Eye and One Missed Call as well)

Rotten Tomatoes – 4% (3/68): The Fog is a so-so remake of a so-so movie, lacking scares, suspense or originality.

(I feel like this and Taxi have the funniest RT consensuses. Just very matter-of-fact despite summing up two of the worst reviewed releases of the decade. Maybe it was just a sign of the times. Before they started shoehorning puns into everything.)

Poster – The Meh (C-)

fog

(Just meh. A bit boring, needs to pick a color other than grey, and the font is too easy to turn into the spoof poster of The Sklog. Also, where’s my tagline? Bullshit. I would have put it down into D+ range, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with it, just nothing good.)

Tagline(s) – None. (F)

(There are taglines from DVDs and stuff, but there is no official tagline from the poster or major advertising. Unacceptable.)

IMDb Keyword – fog

(I had to note this little guy. Both of the Silent Hill BMT classics make this very prestige-ish list. Get it? … The Prestige is number one on the list).

Notes – Selma Blair did almost all of her own stunts. For her underwater scenes, she spent 12 hours in a water tank, with only short surface breaks, for two days straight. (… I don’t believe you)

In between takes in Vancouver, press were granted access to the set. During Selma Blair’s interview, director Rupert Wainwright made a joke she didn’t like. In response, Blair reached into her shirt, pulled out a rubber “falsie,” and flung it across the conference room at the director, deadpanning, “That’s the Adrienne Barbeau part of the role.” (wat)

Before Tom Welling was cast, actors considered for Nick Castle included David Boreanaz, Jesse Metcalfe, Matthew Davis, Henry Cavill, Adam Garcia, Michael Cassidy, Oliver Hudson, and Peter Facinelli. Matthew Fox and Ben McKenzie, were also considered for the role and met with the director, but due to conflicting television schedules they did not read for producers. (If only the charmless walking mannequin that is Henry Cavill would have been in this, perfecto)

Fergie (of The Black Eyed Peas) was attached to play Stevie Wayne before a last-minute conflict prevented her contract from closing. (Well they lost a fan here. Everyone loves musicians and especially Black Eyed Peas in any major motion picture. The more the better and this film is worse for that egregious casting misstep. Unforgivable)

Maggie Grace beat Emilie de Ravin, her Lost (2004) co-star, for the role of Elizabeth. (And with that we end, what a loss for Emilie de Ravin)

The Avengers Recap

Jamie

At certain points while watching The Avengers I started getting that special, flighty feeling in the pit of my stomach. The feeling I got when I first laid eyes on Chris Klein dropping lines from Birches. The feeling I got when Big Momma was delivering a baby/sermon. The feeling I got when a monster-alien stood atop the mountains of Mars screaming “Bananananananas!” Namely, it was the feeling that we were on the cusp of something special (in its own special BMT way). Unfortunately, we never quite got over the hump. Each time we seemed on the verge of crossing into Hall of Fame territory, the film reeled itself back into boring or downright confusing territory. It goes back to something I’ve said before about bad movies. To make a truly bad movie you need that special sauce: freedom. You need to have such buy-in from the studio that they let you do what you want without oversight. You need to be delusional and everyone around you needs to be too afraid to let you know that it’s all a disaster (or just not care cause it’ll probably make money anyway). The Avengers didn’t have that. The studio was horrified when they tested it and hacked the movie to pieces. That makes for fun in its own right, (I dare two people to watch this film and come out with the same plot synopsis) but it also means that it’s very difficult to reach the next level of craziness that we strive for at BMTHQ. Not for lack of trying though. There was a full 10 minute sequence where Sean Connery prepares to date rape Uma Thurmon that was seriously messed up (and fortunately averted at the last moment). I’ll end on that sour note.

No commentary this week as I’m sure the studio didn’t want anyone involved to speak on record about what happened. I’m also not going to talk about the adaptation aspect of the film as it was based on a television show and there was just no way to absorb enough material to make an adequate judgement (although I did watch pieces of several episodes). Instead I’ll just do a quick game I just made up. It’s a BMIT class I teach called Settings 101 and it’s where I try to measure how well the film took advantage of the setting it chose. The Avengers almost reached peak Settings level. It was explicitly set in London (and not some vague location in England), it was cued by maps, signs and addresses in the film, it was mentioned by characters, and a major landmark of the setting plays a role in the film (Big Ben is destroyed by a lightning bolt). This is basically A- material right here as far as Settings go. How could it have gotten to A+? Why by mentioning the setting in the title, of course. Next up on the syllabus, The Making of an A+: London has Fallen.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone. The Avengers? More like My Tormentor, amirite? The Avengers got street cred coming out of every which way. A film spoken about as the crown jewel of one of the worst summers in Hollywood history. Shoe in, right? BMTHOF easy right? Well…

  • The Good – I found the “storyline” somewhat interesting and Connery somewhat compelling. I liked trying to pick out places in London. Erg, in retrospect that is it.
  • The Bad – The movie is very slow moving. It is very confusing. No one besides Connery seems like they fit their characters, everyone is replaceable. There is a scene with a bunch of people dressed as teddy bears that is the second most bonkers scene in the movie! (The first being the aforementioned quite disturbing almost-rape scene). The characters live in a bizarre non-London with zero extras akin to I, Frankenstein. It doesn’t feel like a movie, it feels like a music video or something. Oh, and it has bar none the worst CGI I’ve seen since a Sound of Thund-ah.
  • The BMT – Well yes, but maybe not 70. This is interesting though. Usually when a street cred film doesn’t live up to expectations it is because the movie is secretly ahead of its time and kind of good (Freddy Got Fingered, Ishtar). This is the first one which I can say is objectively bad because it is hacked up, but it still just seems off. It feels like a 70, and is a 70, but yet probably wouldn’t make a bad movie film festival I organized. It is an enigma that breaks the BMeTric in a way.

I’ll close the review just by saying I was getting healthy whiffs of Wild Wild West throughout the film. I guess that isn’t surprising, those two movies came out amazingly close together, both were based on old television shows but targeted at younger audiences, and both were colossal failures and notorious black marks on the 90s movie archive. But there was a weird feeling of … cynicism? This idea of screw-the-source-material in a way. Not that I’ve seen either show to any degree, but the updating just feels wrong. At least the way both movies go about it does. This movie confuses me, I’m not joking. I think that is a trend in our recent spat of 70+ BMeTric film, general confusion about whether a movie is ahead of its time or dog poo in my face.

Quick game. Let’s go Sequel Prequel Remake and make a little sequel out of this. Connery is back as a sexy octogenarian lighting monster ready to electrify Uma’s heart once again! But can the Avengers pull double duty and also stop an evil banker, Max Moneygrubber, trying to pull off a complex multi-level Ponzi scheme? Will Connery help the light of his life to zap Moneygrubber or burn them once and for all? The Avengers: Max Attack! I just vomited in my mouth.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

The Avengers (1998) Preview

I gotta tell you that I’m pretty excited for this next film. I remember when it came out and even as a middle schooler I was like “WTF mate.” It’s been bandied about for BMT before and its time in the sun is finally here. That’s right, we are watching The Avengers! Before you gasp and retire to your fainting couch let me make clear that this is not Marvel’s The Avengers. It is the 1998 adaptation of the 1960’s television show The Avengers. By all accounts the entire post-production for the film was a disaster and resulted in an incomprehensible mess. Released on August 14th (in the midst of the dump months) it is easily the worst film released on that day. Other than The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard, it’s really the only qualifying movie for August 14th period.

The Avengers (1998) – BMeTric: 78.4

Avengers_BMeT

(As usual with these types of things it just has gone up and up since IMDb became big-ish. Curiously, the rating has increased a bit over the time period. I have no idea why. Who was just clamoring to go to IMDb to give this a four or whatever? No one.)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars –  Retread of the popular British TV show of the ‘60s about two saucy secret agents tries in vain to capture its stylishness and insouciance – but Fiennes is woefully miscast, Connery gives a one-note performance as a bad guy who wants to control the Earth’s weather, and a fine supporting cast is wasted. Thurman is likable enough, but the film is utterly flat.

(Insouciance – noun – casual lack of concern; indifference. Thanks Mr. Maltin, I’ve learned a new word that I would struggle to use in any context. Funny enough he destroyed this movie on his podcast, so where the hell does two stars come from? Also this sounds boring.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgTiFsCMCo4

(Ugh. This trailers insouciance is offensive. You can almost tell they were trying their best to make a trailer out of what is definitely going to be a movie almost entirely constructed from cutting room scraps. This could either be our greatest triumph or literally the most boring moving on the planet.)

Directors – Jeremiah S. Chechik – (Known For: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation; Benny & Joon; Tall Tale; BMT: The Avengers; Diabolique; The Right Kind of Wrong; Notes: Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1999 for Worst Director for The Avengers. Weirdly sparse bio for such a oddly impressive short directing career. Has stuck to tv for about twenty years now.)

Writers – Sydney Newman (television series The Avengers) – (BMT: The Avengers; Notes: Extremely influential titan of British television including heading the the BBC for several years. Sadly passed away within a year of this movie coming out.)

Don MacPherson (written by) – (Known For: Absolute Beginners; BMT: The Avengers; The Gunman; Crossing the Line; Notes: Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1999 for Worst Screenplay for The Avengers. What a strange guy. Wrote Crossing the Line in 1990, this in 1998 and then the Gunman in 2015 … nothing much else officially credited. According to wikipedia though it seems like he is the script doctor on a ton of movies and series.)

Actors – Ralph Fiennes – (Known For: The Harry Potter Series, Hail, Caesar!; Spectre; A Bigger Splash; Schindler’s List; The Grand Budapest Hotel; Skyfall; The Hurt Locker; In Bruges; Red Dragon; The Prince of Egypt; The English Patient; The Reader; Maid in Manhattan; The Constant Gardener; Great Expectations; The Duchess; Nanny McPhee Returns; Strange Days; Coriolanus; The Curse of the Were-Rabbit; The Invisible Woman; Quiz Show; BMT: The Avengers; Clash of the Titans; Wrath of the Titans; Notes: Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1999 for Worst Actor and Screen Couple  for The Avengers. Probably most famous for his roles in Schindler’s List, The English Patient and as Voldemort in Harry Potter. Incredible British stage and screen performer with the absolutely incredible real name of Ralph Nathaniel Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes)

Uma Thurman – (Known For: Pulp Fiction; Nymphomaniac: Vol. I; Kill Bill: Vol. 1; Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief; Gattaca; Kill Bill: Vol. 2; Beautiful Girls; Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind; Dangerous Liaisons; The Producers; Les Misérables; Henry & June; The Adventures of Baron Munchausen; My Super Ex-Girlfriend; BMT: Batman & Robin; Movie 43; The Avengers; Even Cowgirls Get the Blues; Johnny Be Good; Bel Ami; Be Cool; Motherhood; Playing for Keeps; Paycheck; Chelsea Walls; Jennifer 8; Notes: Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1999 for Worst Actress and Screen Couple for The Avengers, Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1998 for Worst Supporting Actress for Batman & Robin, Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1995 for Worst Actress for Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. Very famous for her involvement with Tarantino films, her career has been somewhat winding. Once married to Ethan Hawke and Gary Oldman as well.)

Also stars Sean Connery

Budget/Gross – $60 million / Domestic: $23,384,939

(Enormous, ridiculous, astounding bomb. So bad that it was the keystone to what is widely considered to be one of the worst summers in hollywood history, the summer of 1998.)

#49 for the Action Heroine genre (Just below BMT classic Elektra)

#64 for the TV Adaptation (Live Action) genre (That is a ridiculous ranking coming in below recent bomb Entourage)

Rotten Tomatoes – 5% (4/82): A TV spinoff that lacks enough energy to spin, The Avengers is an ineptly written, woefully miscast disaster.

(Low energy. A foreboding statement indeed. Everything about these descriptions makes this sound dull. This best have crazy BMstreeT Cred)

Poster – The Worst Thing I’ve Ever Seen (F)

avengers

(This is literally the worst thing that’s ever happened to posters. If (when?) I teach a class on bad movie posters and taglines this will be used as the example for when everything goes wrong. An insane person made this.)

Tagline(s) – Two amazing secret agents. One diabolical madman. Conditions are dark. The forecast is deadly. Tea, anyone? (F, what the hell?)

Saving the World in Style (B-)

(Alright, so I guess both kind of try and get the insouciance across. The first is just … it is the longest tagline. It was like I was reading it forever. At one point I think I fell asleep while reading it, then woke up, made breakfast, and I was still reading it. The second is okay but somewhat meaningless. I mean … I get the insouciance, but not much else.)

Notes – The film’s critical and commercial failure, along with the equally unsuccessful and equally maligned The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003), was partly responsible for Sean Connery’s decision to retire from the film business. (As The Cat in the Hat would say: Ohhhh Yeaaaahhhhhhhh!)

Peter Bart’s book “The Gross” covered the film’s unfolding disaster in great detail. Among other facts: Warner Brothers greenlit the film largely on the strength of a star-packed cast and their appreciation of Jeremiah Chechik’s work on Diabolique (1996) and were horrified when seeing what the first cut was like. The first screening took place in front of a “largely Spanish-speaking, working class” audience in Phoenix, AZ who hated the film; the studio then forced Chechik to cut many of his favorite scenes and conduct reshoots; and the final cut went from 115 to 89 minutes and was completely incoherent. The studio even refused to hold further test screenings, or to have an official premiere before the film’s August 1998 release. (holy shit, yes!)

Speaking at the 2006 AFI Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony, Eddie Izzard said that he took a role in the film in order to meet Sean Connery. (ha!)

In the original script the part of Sir August was much smaller but when Sir Sean Connery joined the project he asked for the part to expanded. (Reminds me a little of Bulletproof Monk, where the role of The Bulletproof Monk was nonexistent in the material, but since Chow Yun-Fat was attached it became a main role)

At one point, David Fincher was interested in writing and directing the film with Charles Dance starring as John Steed. (If only there were alternate universes where we could see such a thing)

Producer Jerry Weintraub had hopes for sequels to the film, having spent around a decade trying to get the project green-lit. (Will be interesting to see whether the ending sets up for a sequel)

Awards – Won the Razzie Award for Worst Remake or Sequel

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Picture

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Ralph Fiennes)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Actress (Uma Thurman)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Screen

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor (Sean Connery)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Director (Jeremiah S. Chechik)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (Don MacPherson)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Original Song (Storm

 sounds like a Bond opening)

Taxi Recap

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Taxi? More like Lacks Glee (I honestly am shocked I pulled an okay one out of that). Huh, a surprisingly high BMeTric? A genuinely interesting choice at director? Queen Latifah paired with Jimmy Fallon? I kind of knew this movie has the potential to confound … but I didn’t know quite to what degree. Let’s get into it.

  • The Good – There were moments that were genuinely funny. Queen Latifah was actually quite good. I appreciated the way it inverted tropes (and was rather effective at it). The director knew his limitations and managed the action comedy admirably. Everyone seemed on board and the film was far more coherent than I could have ever expected.
  • The Bad – And yet it is a terrible movie. Boring, not funny. The music is terrible. Fallon is no good and also too bumbling to be admired or appreciated. The entire thing ends up just kind of falling apart in slow motion. And the movie is 15 minutes too long.
  • The BMT – This is a 40-50 BMeTric film for sure. But I wouldn’t watch it again unless it just happened to be on television. It isn’t entertaining or unintentionally funny enough to sustain the runtime, but it does have some cred that bumps it up. Specifically Fallon and Bunchen buoy this otherwise lifeless BMT dud. The end.

I got into it. You know what time it is … Audio Sklog-entary. That’s right, we are on a roll. This one was with the director Tim Story all by his lonesome. Things I appreciated: he was very open about his own failings as a director, and very open about how rushed this production was. That side of things was incredibly interesting. But a single person just lacks the same dynamism that a duo has by being able to play off each other. Verdict: B-.

Jamie

Not since Phone Booth have we had a film so quickly become irrelevant. Now this film would be remade and called Uber (not really, they would get sued), about a ride-sharing, racecar-driving wannabe helping out a down-on-his-luck cop. Instead, since this was made when there was no such thing as Uber, we got a complete carbon copy of the French film it was based on. And I’m not exaggerating. This film was almost shot-for-shot the same film (particularly the beginning and end), to the point where the trick at the end is just replicated. Not even a neat twist. I guess they assumed the general American audience wouldn’t watch the original like me (cause I’m insane). Even the changes that were made were all surface. The mom was just a mom in the original? Let’s make her an alcoholic. German bank robbers? Make them Brazilian super model bank robbers. The bank robbers use a cleaning service to pick up the money after the heist? Make it a garbage truck. Just slight changes for the sake of changing something. Actually made watching the film a bit dull. One of the unfortunate byproducts of obsessively consuming all related materials to the movies we watch.

The way I’ve been thinking about the commentaries is trying to sum up the main idea in a single sentence or word. In this case the word was: rushed. It sounded like he had a super short casting window and even purposefully hired a music video cinematographer because he knew the shooting schedule was tight. Probably why the movie is so similar to the French original. Easier to plan and shoot a direct remake rather than make major changes.

Going back to the BMTsolutions well for my game. Taxi is certainly not based on a book (it’s based on a French film, duh. I was literally just talking about it), but if it were, it would go… a little something… like this. Queen Latifah (yes the book also stars Queen Latifah) is a NASCAR driver. She’s on the rise and feeling super sweet. Unfortunately she gets in a terrible accident that leaves her shaken and confused. Falshforward a year after her recovery and she’s now a taxi driver, obeying the laws of the street, but longing for the race track. She hangs around the local speedway on the weekends and notices something kinda odd. A car that some of the new guys have been using have fancy tires on them that prevents blowouts. Tires that are only sold in Germany. And didn’t she see those same tires in some of the bank robbery footage on the news? She runs to the police to let them know. They, of course, think nothing of it. Who is this crazy lady who thinks she can identify thieves by their tires? Leave the police work to the police. But one officer recognizes her from her racing days and doesn’t think she’s crazy at all. In fact, he’s sure that she’s the only one that can catch these bank robbers in the act. They team up to catch the crooks. Feel the adrenaline of… TAXI.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Taxi Preview

Alright, this week we transition fully to the Calendar rotation and start in with a comedy. The Calendar is pretty good for BMT street cred, as each film is more or less the worst film released on the day in question. Because of this there is a chance that we will be able to watch a number of 70+ BMeTric films (which is an amazing score). So starting it off right, we dive into the 70.2 BMeTric rated film Taxi starring Jimmy Fallon and Queen Latifah. This is the worst film released on October 6th. Other notable films: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, Employee of the Month, and Assassins. All solid BMT, but not 70.2 BMeTric solid.

Taxi (2004) – BMeTric: 70.2

Taxi_BMeT

(Boom. Right out the gate a disaster. Barely sticking above that 70 threshold though. Really depends on the rating now (those fits and starts in the trajectory are it jumping between ratings). I was genuinely shocked at this btw. I didn’t really imagine that this film could be this reviled, I barely remember it exists on the good day.)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars –  Hotshot cabbie teams up with an incompetent hot-dog cop in this weak action-comedy. Latifah and Fallon are strangers-turned-buddies out to catch a team of bank robbers (who happen to look like supermodels). Not a good showcase for the Queen or for former Saturday Night Live member Fallon. Produced by Luc Besson, based on the 1998 French film of the same name, which he wrote and coproduced. Extended version runs 112m.

(Leonard is a little familiar with Latifah, just calling her “the Queen.” Weird. I don’t really recall that being a common thing people called her. I do like the pairing of “hotshot” and “hot-dog” that Leonard uses here. Could be used for most every buddy-cop film.)

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

(Huh. Having already watched the French version of this film I can tell you that about 30% of the scenes they showed are from the climax of the film. Including three that are from the very last stunt where they catch the bad guys. Oh shit, spoiler alert. Guess I shouldn’t have revealed that Fallon and Latifah catch them at the end. My bad. Now you won’t be surprised.)

Directors – Tim Story – (Known For: Barbershop; Think Like a Man; BMT: Taxi; Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer; Fantastic Four; Think Like a Man Too; Ride Along 2; Ride Along; Notes: The top grossing African-American director of all time (domestic at least, not sure about worldwide). Actually just retook the top spot from Tyler Perry with Ride Along 2.)

Writers – Luc Besson (earlier screenplay) – (Known For: Lucy; Léon: The Professional; The Fifth Element; Taken; The Transporter; Point of No Return; Transporter 2; La Femme Nikita; The Big Blue; Unleashed; District B13; District 13: Ultimatum; BMT: Taxi; The Transporter Refueled; Brick Mansions; Taken 3; Arthur and the Revenge of Maltazard; Transporter 3; Lockout; Arthur 3: The War of the Two Worlds; Arthur and the Invisibles; 3 Days to Kill; Taken 2; The Family; Fanfan; Colombiana; The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc; From Paris with Love; Revolver; Notes: Very influential French filmmaker. Founder of EuropaCorp, a major studio in France.)

Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon (screenplay) – (Known For: Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb; Night at the Museum; Mr. Peabody & Sherman; Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian; Herbie Fully Loaded; BMT:Taxi; Balls of Fury; The Pacifier; Hell Baby; Jessabelle; Reno 911!: Miami; Let’s Go to Prison; Notes: Never nominated for a Razzie, which is a bit of a surprise. Seems lately that Garant has been writing more independent of Lennon. Perhaps because Lennon is busy with the CBS show The Odd Couple. Or should I say the CBS smash-hit The Odd Couple.)

Jim Kouf (screenplay) – (Known For: Rush Hour; National Treasure; Gang Related; Stakeout; BMT: Taxi; Snow Dogs; Operation Dumbo Drop; Another Stakeout; Class; National Treasure: Book of Secrets; Notes: Recently in the news after a Puerto Rican film Vasos de Papel was pulled from theaters for being a blatant copy of a film he wrote called Secret Admirer.)

Actors – Queen Latifah – (Known For: Miracles from Heaven; 22 Jump Street; Barbershop 2: Back in Business; Hairspray; Chicago; Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs; Stranger Than Fiction; Ice Age: The Meltdown; The Secret Life of Bees; Juice; Jungle Fever; Bringing Out the Dead; Last Holiday; Set It Off; Brown Sugar; Just Wright; BMT: Taxi; The Dilemma; Scary Movie 3; Pinocchio; Bringing Down the House; Valentine’s Day; The Country Bears; Beauty Shop; The Cookout; The Perfect Holiday; Sphere; House Party 2; Mad Money; What Happens in Vegas; Joyful Noise; Ice Age: Continental Drift; The Bone Collector; Notes: Rapper/hip-hop artist/singer/actress. Has won a Grammy, Emmy, and nominated for an Oscar (Chicago). She’s set up pretty well for potentially completing an EGOT before her career is over.)

Jimmy Fallon – (Known For: Jurassic World; Almost Famous; Whip It; Fever Pitch; Anything Else; BMT: Taxi; Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star; Doogal; Jem and the Holograms; Arthur and the Revenge of Maltazard; Get Hard; Arthur 3: The War of the Two Worlds; Arthur and the Invisibles; Factory Girl; Notes: Who would have thought that over a decade after making this film together, Gisele would go on The Tonight Show and teach Jimmy how to walk the runway? I wonder if they reminisced about Taxi backstage.)

With a rare appearance from Gisele Bündchen!

Budget/Gross – $25 million / Domestic: $36,611,066 (Worldwide: $68,895,435 Worldwide)

#14 for the Remake – French genre

(There really aren’t any bad movies on the list besides this one. The more interesting thing is just how far down this is. Below 1989 Three Fugitives? Yeeeeeesh. Wasn’t even really a bomb either, but they must have been planning on more than $36 million domestic)

Rotten Tomatoes – 10% (11/105): Silly and unfunny remake of a French movie of the same name.

(Wow. RT got real serious on this one. Those are certainly the facts of the matter.)

Poster – Taxi Tilt (C-)

taxi

(Likes: Bright yellow base, integration of the title into the scene (clever), and actually provides a lot of visual info about the plot in the scene. Dislikes: Tilt, terrible font and block coloring for all the words on the poster, too basic/not artistic, and the weird foggy background is… not good. Almost a D+, but juuussssst better than that.)

Tagline(s) – He’s armed, but she’s dangerous. (A)

(Out of nowhere Taxi hits on a nearly perfect tagline. Short and sweet? Yup. Clever in some way? Yup. Gives an idea of the plot? Yup. Three for three.)

Notes – Ingrid Vandebosch, one of the female robbers in this film, is married to Jeff Gordon, who has an uncredited cameo in this film. (Athlete film!)

Kevin Bray was originally set to direct, but dropped out. (director of potential BMT films Walking Tall and All About the Benjamins)