The Chamber Preview

Alright, so we move forward to our Horror/Thriller section. This has always been a troublesome category for thrillers. What makes a thriller a thriller and not an action film? Or when does a thriller become not thrilling enough and float off as the dreaded drama? Hard to tell. For the most part we’ve erred on the side of Horror. The Aaaiiiirrrrbbbbaaalllll! cycle made it easy to pick Thriller, though. Hard to believe, but there are no ex-athletes that have appeared in a major horror film. So instead, we are watching the Grisham adaptation called The Chamber that costars Bo Jackson (yes, that Bo Jackson). I not only get to enjoy a thrilling tale of law and justice, but I get to read the book too. Let’s go!

The Chamber (1996) – BMeTric: 19.6


(I know! What a strange early plot. Indeed. What appears to have happened is that the movie was at 5.7 on March 8th 2005, then it suddenly dropped to 5.3 with a huge influx of votes on May 9 2005, which is then just as suddenly corrected by April 12, 2006 including a massive purge of votes! Incredible. Why does some entity hate The Chamber so much? It was probably John Grisham just creating new accounts over and over to downvote it)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars – Young lawyer feels impelled to defend a Mississippi death row inmate, convicted of a racist/terrorist bombing years ago, because the man is his grandfather. Reopening this volatile case causes pain and hardship for all involved. Curiously unmoving (and talky) adaptation of the John Grisham best-seller. O’Donnell is earnest but unconvincing; Hackman never successfully disappears into the role of a racist pig.

(Well guess what Leonard? I think this review is curiously unmoving and talky. So there. The talky bit doesn’t bode well. Think could be a snoozefest. Get my sleep on. Also, a little preview on the BMTsolution: the book is pretty talky as well. Although, it was moving. So maybe that’s what the movie missed.)

Trailer –

(I was pretty out on the trailer until the very end. Lawyers filing briefs and finding themselves in danger. Classic Grisham. But when Chris O’Donnell is running and crying and running? I’m in.)

Director(s) – James Foley – (Known For: Glengarry Glen Ross; The Corruptor; At Close Range; Two Bits; BMT: Perfect Stranger; Fear; The Chamber; Who’s That Girl?; Notes: Nominated for Worst Director, Who’s That Girl (1987). Was offered to direct Purple Rain. Was Sean Penn’s best man when he married Madonna. Yes, yes, and yes.)

Writer(s) – William Goldman (screenplay) – (Known For: The Princess Bride; Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; Misery; Maverick; All the President’s Men; The Ghost and the Darkness; Marathon Man; Chaplin; A Bridge Too Far; Absolute Power; Hearts in Atlantis; The Stepford Wives; BMT: Dreamcatcher (BMT); The General’s Daughter; Wild Card; Memoirs of an Invisible Man; The Chamber; Year of the Comet; Notes: Famously advised Damon and Affleck on Good Will Hunting (he denied credit, although rumors claim his contributions included telling them to scrap the entirety of the back half of the film involving Will working for the FBI). Also, Redford famously disliked his script for All the President’s Men and tried to replace it with a version written by Bernstein (he mostly failed). Won Oscars for that and Butch Cassidy. Wrote both the book and screenplay for The Princess Bride.)

Chris Reese (screenplay) – (BMT: The Chamber; Ghost Dad; Notes: Nothing on him anywhere. Perhaps the author of Ghost Dad is a ghost himself. That’s where he got the inspiration for the film. What a twist!)

Actors – Gene Hackman – (Known For: The Royal Tenenbaums; Unforgiven; Enemy of the State; The French Connection; The Conversation; Mississippi Burning; Superman; Crimson Tide; Runaway Jury; Superman II; The Quick and the Dead; Hoosiers; The Poseidon Adventure; Get Shorty; The Firm; Heist; The Replacements; The Mexican; The Birdcage; Bonnie and Clyde; Absolute Power; Young Frankenstein; No Way Out; Wyatt Earp; BMT: Behind Enemy Lines; Superman IV: The Quest for Peace; The Chamber; Welcome to Mooseport (BMT); Loose Cannons; All Night Long; Full Moon in Blue Water; Two of a Kind; Notes: Somewhat notably retired after Welcome to Mooseport. Writes Western novels (to some acclaim). Val Kilmer claimed he was going to be in Top Gun 2, but that turned out to be Val Kilmer being Val Kilmer)

Budget/Gross: $50 million / $14,551,359 ($22,540,359 Worldwide)

(Just an estimated budget, but it is a notable bomb. Barely hanging on to its place in the top 200 worst openings for a 2000+ theater release. Currently in 193rd place. Just behind it: Stephen King’s Thinner and Maximum Risk starring JCVD. All three of those films were released within weeks of each other in 1996.)

Rotten Tomatoes: 12% (3/25), No consensus yet.

(No consensus because it’s too old. So I’ll just make one up: Dumb movie for dumb people. If you like this then you’re dumb.)

Poster – Two Giant Faces


(Classic, classic, classic movie poster. I like it a lot. The colors, the actors, the words. All of them work for me.)

Tagline(s) – Time is running out. (D)

(Huh… this almost seems like a tagline for a different movie. There is no pun here. This is simply a statement. I think I hate it. When combined with the title it makes some sense. The Chamber, time is running out. Gas chamber, execution, struggle against time. It is just an explanation of the plot though and doesn’t get me excited.)

Notes – The character of Rollie Wedge was beefed up considerably from the novel with the aim that Jack Nicholson would play him. Things didn’t quite go according to plan and the part went to the lesser known actor, Raymond J. Barry, instead. (This is a horrible plan)

During the execution scene at the end of the film, one of the members of the crowd cheering and holding scenes at the prison holds up a cardboard sign reading, “suck gas, evildoer”. This is the trademark battle cry of Darkwing Duck, from the Disney TV series about a duck superhero who uses a gas weapon against criminals. (What? Why is this happening? How does this happen?).

Firestorm Recap


‘Ello everyone. Firestorm? More like Fire-whoever-thought-this-movie-was-a-good-idea, bam! Howie Long oh How-I Longed for you. Been missing him since 3000 Miles to Graceland. Let’s get into it.

  • The Good – Howie Long was better than expected, really hung tough with the rest of the cast (I apologize to the rest of the cast). Um … the ending was so bonkers as to be fun. If you can get to it it is pretty much worth it.
  • That being said, you ever flip through the backwoods of cable tv channels and stumble across that weird made-for-tv action movie starring the Boz or whoever and were like “oh this might be fun”, but then after 3 minutes you are like “oh yeah, no, I can feel my lifeforce bleeding out of me while watching this”? If you have, you know what Firestorm is like.
  • It does have one of the most ridiculous bad guys we’ve seen. When he has his weird blond wig and goatee on he is literally on par with Bananas from Ghosts of Mars.
  • And the aforementioned ending involving a Howie Long two hand overhead ax throw into the badguy’s chest from under water. I heard he did that at the combine to convince the Raiders to draft him. And then the bad guy comes back! Amazing.

What a weird movie. I hardly have an opinion about the movie because it is barely a movie. A little too close to made-for-tv or Van Damme territory for me, like Stone Cold (starring the Boz, natch). I was reasonably entertained though, congrats Firestorm.

And of course I want a remake. Almost any athlete vehicle can be remade because guess what? There is a whole new crop of athletes that can star in it! And of course JJ Watt will star in Perfect Firestorm. And of course the bad guy will be Ray Liotta. And of course Kaley Cuoco will costar as the spunky birdwatcher caught in the middle of it all. And of course our friends and family can be Executive Producers, it will be the number one stipulation in any screenwriting contract I sign. I’ve drawn up the paperwork, it is just waiting for a signature.


FIRESTORM! I’m not going to dive too far into the actual film. Patrick took care of that. Instead I would like to point out something interesting: it takes place in Wyoming. How is it possible that Wyoming has two major BMT titles (Have You Heard About the Morgans? and Firestorm)? Seems like the type of state that would barely scrape by with one. It also begs the question: If we were forced to make an ultimate, which of the films would be chosen? Have You Heard About the Morgans? is largely forgettable, but it is soooo Wyoming. Firestorm is fucking Firestorm, but almost seems like it’s set in Wyoming as an afterthought. What are we to do? Patrick suggests we resort to BMeTric. It’s cold and calculated… developed to replace us. These are the questions we are developing our algorithms to tackle (so you don’t have to).

For this movie I feel like Stone Cold was too on-the-nose as a real comparison. It’s almost like they are twin movies. Fire & Ice. I kept on being reminded of Bats for some reason. A wide release that was largely forgotten and has the feel of a SyFy Channel original.

For my BMTsolution, Firestorm was not based on a book. If it were based on a book, though, it would be a gritty 70’s pulp action book in the same vein as First Blood. Jesse Graves is a former smokejumper just returned from Vietnam. On his first jump back, he finds himself suddenly recalling his wartime jungle-burning experiences and nearly dies in his crazed attempt to escape his memories. In the process, he inadvertently injures the captain of the smokejumping crew. Several months later, the captain is retiring due to his injures and Graves is on desk duty. A group of prisoners, led by the psychopathic Randall Sharp, manage to escape work duty by brutally murdering the prison guards tasked with keeping them in line (who planted the weapons they used? What a mystery!). In order to hinder their pursuers, the prisoners set the Montana forest aflame. The smokejumpers jump to the rescue but find themselves ambushed by Sharp and his crew. All are slain except for Julie, Graves’ girlfriend (!), who is taken as a hostage (“and a mighty pretty one too” – a prisoner creepily notes). Can Graves jump one more time and take out these prisoners once and for all? Or will he be caught in the… FIRESTORM!

These books will be part of a series of novels I write called Based-on-the-Book, where I write books that movies would have been based on if they were adaptations… but they’re not adaptations of the films themselves. It’s a nuanced difference.


The Sklogs


Firestorm Preview

For the action film in our Aiiiirrrrrbbbbaaalll!! category (films featuring/starring athletes) I’m sure most of you thought Simon Sez starring Dennis Rodman was a sure slam dunk. But sometimes BMT eschews the most common choice to forge ahead on the road less travelled… and sometimes we forget that Simon Sez exists. Wherever the truth lies, we are actually watching Firestorm starring Howie Long this week. That’s right! The Howie Long. From those Radioshack commercials (and I guess he also played for the Raiders or whatever). This should be fun. Let’s go!

Firestorm (1997) – BMeTric: 27.2

(As one would expect. As the votes steadily increase so does the BMeTric. I do wish I had time dependent data, then I could actually see how this BMeTric is changing through time. My guess is that this is in reality quite stable and has hovered in the 25 range for a while.)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars – Wily con Forsythe and cohorts have pulled off a prison escape, incinerating a Canadian forest as their “cover.” This makes the job of smoke jumpers (who parachute into difficult fires) all the more risky. By-the-numbers script is fashioned as an action vehicle for athlete Long, who suggests what Ed Harris might look like if he couldn’t move his facial muscles.

(Hard slam by Leonard. You hear that Howie? That’s your Hollywood dreams going up in smoke. This doesn’t sound enjoyable btw.)


(Anyone else f-in amped?! Yo Smokejumpaaaaaah! Howie throws all kinds of lumberjack tools around. There is terrible CGI. He’s riding a rad motorcycle. He gets the girl (duh). They say the name of the film in the trailer. It. Has. Got. It. All.)

Director(s) – Dean Semler – (BMT: The Patriot (with Steven Segal); Firestorm. Notes: Acclaimed Cinematographer from Australia known for Dances with Wolves and the Max Mad series. The second unit director for Super Mario Bros, and recently the cinematographer for Paul Blart 2. Can’t make this shit up.)

Writer(s) – Chris Soth (written by) – (BMT: Firestorm. Notes: Author of “Million-Dollar Screenwriting”, he is a prolific script doctor apparently authoring over 40 screenplays. This is his only credited work.)

Actors – Howie Long – (Known For: Broken Arrow; That Thing You Do! BMT: 3000 Miles to Graceland (seen it); Firestorm. Notes: Also known for being an NFL Defensive End for the Raiders. This will complete his BMT filmography for us.)

Budget/Gross: $19 million / $8,165,212

(Oooooooooof. In what universe does a Howie Long vehicle earn like $40 million at the box office? Who was in charge of this?)

Rotten Tomatoes: 12% (3/25), No consensus yet.

(As a stand in for the consensus I’ll just give you this: “The action movie for which the term ‘by-the-numbers’ might have been coined.” Solid. I’m up for a by-the-numbers Howie Long action bonanza)

Poster – Crazy Eyes Howie (C)


(I liked this poster because of giant crazy-eyes Howie staring into my soul. He’s seen some shit man. He’s a smokejumper. It is pretty by-the-numbers though.)

Tagline(s) – Fight fire with fire. (F)

(Is Howie Long “fire” here? Why do I get a sneaking suspicion this tagline makes absolutely no sense. Someone had a Big Book of Cliches and just picked one from the chapter entitled “Fire”.)

Notes – First cinema feature of Barry Pepper. (of Battlefield Earth fame!)

Veteran parachutist Keith Perepelkin died after his main chute failed during a stunt where he jumped from a helicopter onto “Squamish Chief” in British Columbia, Canada. The stunt was performed in violation of the Canadian filming permit. (Oh that’s sad. It is always sad to see stunt people get hurt)

The film was originally set up at the now defunct Savoy Pictures. When Savoy had the project, the film was going to be more epic in scale, with comprehensive visual and computer effects. Savoy even offered Sylvester Stallone $20 million to star, which he accepted. However, the studio went bust before the film was made. Twentieth Century Fox picked up the script from “turnaround” and fashioned it into a more intimate, smaller budgeted movie as they were looking to only spend $30 million dollars on the picture. (Oh wow, that is super interesting stuff. Now I get to watch this with Stallone in mind.)

Juwanna Mann Recap


Last week I got to talk a whole bunch about the New Jersey State Prison that was featured in the film Lock Up. Unfortunately, I was never employed by the Charlotte Hornets, so I can’t give similar insight for Juwanna Mann. Instead I’ll take this time to speak about the athletes that were featured in the film (that’s part of the reason it was chosen after all). In the film we got to see Jamal Jeffries play for the Charlotte Beat, a fictional team consisting of him, Vlade Divac, Muggsy Bogues, Dikembe Mutombo, and Rasheed Wallace. This would probably be the most entertaining team in the history of the NBA (two seven-footers, Jamal, the shortest player in the NBA, and Rassshhheeeeed Wallace!), but a trainwreck otherwise. As far as acting goes they were all pretty solid. I was pleasantly surprised. However, they were only featured in the opening scene, which is a shame. If I could have a wish granted regarding this film, it would be that there existed some cut scene where Rasheed shows up to try out for the Banshees dressed in drag, only to get quickly ushered out by Jamal. Rasheed reveals that he knows Juwanna is Jamal (“Balls don’t lie,” says Rasheed, pointing at Juwanna’s crotch) and wants in on the action. Jamal refuses and Rasheed promises to not reveal the secret. Having been neatly tied up, the plot point is never heard from again. Sigh… if only.

I certainly would wonder how it was possible that a man could play on the team for a whole season without having a physical/drug test reveal his gender. I would have to conclude that there was a conspiracy to let it happen (for increased ratings) or that the league was so financially strapped that simple physicals weren’t even conducted. Neither option would be a good look for the league.

By the way there is a fantastic MonoSklog in this film. We knew this film probably had a MonoSklog (because… well… it just would) and it really, really delivered. Big Momma’s House level banananananananas. I call it Mi Equipo  Es muy bonito. Well worth checking out if you can find it (it does not appear to be on YouTube).

As for my BMTsolution: this film was not based on a book… but if it was it would be a 1970s postmodern novel about how Buffalo Braves star Jared Jefferson struggles to cope with the pressures of NBA stardom along with those related to his secret life as a man in the midst of a male-to-female sex change operation. I would have read the book and been touched by its stirring portrayal of Jared’s vulnerabilities in a world that has yet to know his true self. Then I would watch Juwanna Mann and realize what the film was trying to tell us all along: life’s too short. Laugh once in awhile. It would then go on to win the Smaddies Baddies Freddy Got Fingered Award for film that isn’t that bad. Alas, what could have been.


‘Ello everyone! Juwanna Mann? More like Iwanna Turn This Movie Off! Heeeeeyooooo. BMTsolution means I need to be positive …. I believe in myself, I can do this. Let’s get into it.

  • Good – I thought Pollak, despite apparently having no desire to be in this film, was pretty solid, especially in the second half of the movie. The movie’s premise isn’t as ludicrous as I thought it would be. And the movie is charming in a we-aren’t-going-to-even-address-the-absurdity-so-don’t-even-worry-about-it kind of way.
  • Bad – The premise is ludicrous and absurd. It only gets more so when they finally address the fact that Juwanna would have been immediately drug tested by the league, and then forget about it two seconds later.
  • Nunez is okay, but there is no way a movie like this should rely on him.
  • In something like Big Momma’s House or Norbit the makeup itself was enough to warrant the movie existing. It was legitimately impressive (there is a reason Norbit was nominated for an Oscar, the makeup). Here … Nunez pretty much wears some foundation and fake boobs. Congrats guys.
  • I’ll end it just by saying: in the movie his team is allowed to continue playing in the playoffs after he is caught, WTF?! That is ridiculous.

Let’s do a new game called BMT News with George Sklogonopoulos. In this game I’ll pose a social-impact question from the recently watched movie and try and answer it. Here: If the events of Juwanna Mann occurred in real life what would this mean for the WNBA, and what would happen to Jefferies?

In my opinion: The playoffs would be suspended pending a large scale investigation and most of the high-level executives for the WNBA would be removed. Jamal Jefferies would be banned for life from all sporting activities and would become a pariah, especially once allegation of sexual assault are uncovered (and they would be, he assaults all of the women throughout the film). This would be the biggest sports story in history, so explosive it would potentially take down an entire league. And it would make an incredible movie eventually, a truly heart-breaking drama of a man who wanted to play basketball so badly he lied to the world. I’m tearing up here. Get Netflix on the horn, we’re doing a reboot of the franchise.


The Sklogs

Juwanna Mann Preview

This week is Juwanna Mann. I vaguely remember this film coming out and being appalled. Didn’t seem to make sense that anyone, anywhere thought it was a good idea and I was like 14. This makes it perfect for the comedy entry in the Aiiirrrrbbbaaallllll! cycle. In Juwanna Mann we have a plethora of active (at the time) NBA talent featured. Rasheed Wallace? Vlade Divac? Dikembe Mutombo? Yes, yes, and yes. Ball don’t lie, baby. Ball don’t lie. For those keeping track, Juwanna Mann is indeed part of the (366) Days of Bummer. June 21st in the books. Yay! Let’s go!

Juwanna Mann (2002) – BMeTric: 37.4


(This trajectory makes sense because the movie came out in 2002, so the number of votes were still in the initial rise a few years later presumably. Despite a rather drastic increase in the IMDB rating (4.0 to 4.5 in the last three years, why?), the score has settled in quite nicely at around 40, which is what I would expect I think.)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars – Egocentric basketball star torpedoes his own career and no one in the NBA will hire him – until he disguises himself as a woman and joins a female team. Naturally, he’s attracted to one of his colleagues – and predictably, he suffers a crisis of conscience as the experience turns him into a better man. This is Tootsie light – or is it tootsie dark? Similarities to that classic comedy are superficial at best. Several real-life sports figures appear as themselves.

(That “tootsie dark” joke is a little passé Leonard. I would say he should scrap that one in future editions but there are no more future editions. Too late. “Several real-life sports figures appear as themselves” is the most important takeaway from all this.)

Trailer –

(Woah. That starts off with some really bad jokes. Like the stamp joke seems to belong in a spoof and not a film that purports to be set in a real world. And then he’s dancing with some twins and he yells “I got to rethink cloning.” I love the use of the word “rethink” in that joke. The implication being that Jamal has thought long and hard about the biomedical ethics of the process… but then these hot twins got him all confused! After that I blacked out and didn’t get to see the rest of the trailer. I presume it’s pretty much the same as Big Momma’s House.)

Director(s) – Jesse Vaughan – (BMT: Juwanna Mann; Notes: A 27-time emmy award winner (mostly news and sports) before directing his one and only feature film in Juwanna Mann)

Writer(s) – Bradley Allenstein (written by) – (BMT: Who’s Your Caddy?; Juwanna Mann; Notes: This entire thing is fascinating. Here’s an article about Juwanna Mann. Basically it seems like Vaughan got attached because Allenstein knew Steve Oedekerk, who worked on In Living Color with Vaughan. I have a feeling they were attempting to do this on the cheap hoping for a fast and decent return.)

Actors – Miguel A. Núñez Jr. – (Known For: The Return of the Living Dead; Life; Lethal Weapon 3; Black Dynamite; BMT: Juwanna Mann; Scooby-Doo; Street Fighter (seen it); The Adventures of Pluto Nash (seen it); Meet Dave; Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (seen it); Leprechaun 4: In Space (seen it); Notes:  Was at one time a telemarketer for the Lakers. Was cut out of Lethal Weapon where he had a fight scene with Mel Gibson.)

Budget/Gross: $15,600,000 / $13,670,733 ($13,802,599 Worldwide)

(So close to breaking even! Surprisingly there is little of interest in the actual release numbers. Not the worst release ever, but not very good.)

Rotten Tomatoes: 9% (8/83), With its tired premise, Juwanna Mann’s jokes fall flat.

(This is the saddest RT consensus I’ve ever seen. Couldn’t even get up enough to throw a cheesy pun at us? Unless “fall flat” is a play on words… is it? I don’t think it is… but is it? Nah… or maybe… nah.)

Poster – Double Basketball Photoshop Nightmare


(This may be the worst poster we have had since we started including it in the email. Dear God. Everything I hate is included in this one. Avert your eyes, it’s hideous. Why is he standing on a giant basketball? Why is everyone perched upon the title like clipart? Why isn’t Juwanna Man in the center of the poster? Is it because his head would hit the bottom two names? WHY ARE THERE SEVEN PEOPLE LISTED ON THIS POSTER?! I’M LOSING MY MIND)

Tagline(s) – The only way he can stay pro, is to play (like) a girl. (F)

(Oh my God! Could this film from concept to advertising campaign represent the nadir of filmmaking? I can’t even read this with a straight face. It is awful. Was this film a tax scam or something?)

Notes – Kevin Pollak has said that when he signed on to the film, Will Smith was set to star. (haha, in what universe do you live Kevin Pollak?)

Tyra Banks was originally cast as Michelle Langford. (alrighty then)

Chris Tucker turned down the lead role. (good for you Chris Tucker)

Found a full section on this film in the book “Sports Heroines on Film.” Spoiler Alert! Gives away the fact that Juwanna Mann gives an impassioned speech to his teammates in the film! Which is like an anti-spoiler. Makes me even more excited.

Lock Up Recap


Finally a movie that has a real anecdote to go with the watching of the film. So I taught at the prison that Lock Up was filmed at! It’s the East Jersey State Prison, formerly known as Rahway, and known in the film as Gateway. There were a lot of shots of the outside of the prison, which is instantly recognizable, and a single shot of the entrance that I used to go into the prison through. Surprisingly there were only two scenes set in the central hub of the prison, which is a big open space under the dome that contains a circular cage area that I had to wait in while they tried to get me up to the library/classroom area. It’s kinda cool looking (albeit depressing, as everything in a prison is), so I expected it to be featured more. That was it though! Only a couple other brief moments where I recognized anything. Such is life. The craziest thing was that there was a scene in the film with an electric chair and I was like, “OMG! Was there an electric chair in that prison?!?!” But I don’t think so… or at least certainly not when I taught there. There are some claims that there was an electric chair in the dome of the prison at one time, but I think that’s a myth. I believe the only electric chair in NJ was in Trenton. That would have given me the creeps if there had been one in Rahway. Anyway, that’s enough prison talk.

Well I would have really loved for this to be part of the Stallone Food Trilogy, but he doesn’t talk about food nearly enough. Instead I’ll just do my own BMT-solution. I feel like too many times in the past year we were presented with a very interesting adaptation and Patrick and I cited “time” and “work” as valid excuses for not reading the source material. No more! I resolve to read the source material for any and all films that we watch this year. I feel like this will give us a more well rounded idea of just what kind of travesties we are witnessing. Imagine if I hadn’t read Endless Love before watching Endless Love (and Endless Love)?! Impossible! Unacceptable! This is my BMT-solution. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it… Juwanna Mann’s not based on a book, right? Patrick?


‘Ello everyone! Lock Up?! More like Shlock Up! Amirite?! Except … wait for it … I kind of dug this movie. Let’s get into it:

  • It had the cheesy weird Sly moment (like him pretending he can play football, presumably to legitimatize hiring a former NFL player to truck people in the prison), but he was okay. He had a little of the incomprehensible Sly talk going, but it was okay.
  • The movie is interesting in two ways. First, they hide his (obviously) noble reason for going to jail for almost the entire film. There is a history to the film with naturally revealing exposition slowly developing his background. Digging it.
  • Second, it is a little grindhouse-y. Like Cobra. There is the ultra-violence, prison-exploitation kind of thing going. Explains the weird Maltin review to an extent.
  • And a lot of the performances and writing are solid. The only tough spot is the bonkers insanity of Sutherland. Oh … and the ending makes no sense. Like Sly is in prison forever. So yeah, that’s an issue.

I’ll leave it there. Because we need a little Prequel to this. Lock Up: Origins. Fortuitously Kiefer Sutherland is 31 years younger than his father. It has been 26 years since Lock Up was released, and the prequel would take place five years prior to that movie …. 31 years ago in 1984! The time is now! Do it! Netflix! Lock Up: Origins! The only question is who plays Stallone? Looking at pictures I think Channing Tatum would weirdly work. But since this is going to be a BMT Production on the cheap let’s get Kellan Lutz on the horn. Boom. Done.

Also, I feel like my negativity is bringing BMT down. This is supposed to be fun guys! Watching movies is fun, right? (right?…). So, introducing my 2016 BMT-solution (oooo, I’m digging that terrible name). My BMT-solution is that I’m going to be less negative in my reviews. Get back to the fun. Try and not brutalize movies like Ridiculous 6 anymore (hey, Ridiculous 6, you got me and my bros to sit down and watch a movie together, that’s something). I’ll see how long that lasts.


The Sklogs

Lock Up Preview

To celebrate the inception of the new calendar we will be ending the year with a Stallone Day! So, Happy Stallone Day! There won’t be a Stallone day for several years so relish it. As usual we would like for the film to not only star Sylvester Stallone, but to also lead nicely into the first cycle of the 2016 calendar. We have discussed and debated it and decided that the first cycle will be called Aaaiiiirrrrbbbbbaaallllll! and will be movies that feature (or hopefully star) former or active professional athletes. Without further ado, the first Stallone Day in history will be the 1989 classic Lock Up which features Sly Stallone as Frank Leone and Frank McRae in the role of Eclipse. McRae appeared in 6 games for the Chicago Bears in 1967. Let’s go!

Lock Up (1989) – BMeTric: 15.4


(Not bad for a 1989 film. Still not super high. I believe this has a bit of cult popularity associated with it playing on cable through the 1990’s. So I wouldn’t be surprised if the score was slightly deflated. Patrick’s Note: It most certainly is. The rating in 2004 was 5.4, it is now 6.3 on IMDB. It has clearly dropped significantly recently.)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars – With six months to go on his sentence, convict Stallone gets abducted from his country-club cell and transported to a hellhole run by old Hun-like adversary Sutherland. Missing are Linda Blair, John Vernon, a lesbian guard, and 15 gratuitous showers; you do get a body-shop montage backed by Ides of March’s ”Vehicle.” Bottom of the world, ma.

(Hun-like? What a weird thing to say. Guess Leonard really wanted to figure out the most tasteful way of saying that Sutherland is like a Nazi in the film. Then the whole review goes off the rails. I had to look up what the second sentence means. I guess he’s making a reference to the exploitation film Chained Heat. Finally, I have no idea why he makes a White Heat reference at the end. Maybe the end of the film is similar to the end of that film? Bar none the weirdest Maltin review I’ve ever read.)

Trailer –

(Uh… yes please. That looks amazing. It’s like a full movie of just the prison escape scenes from Tango & Cash.)

Director(s) – John Flynn – (Known For: Rolling Thunder; Best Seller; BMT: Lock Up; Out for Justice; Brainscan; Notes: Died in 2007, and was in the Coast Guard. Studied journalism at UCLA under the tutelage of Alex Haley, the author of Roots.)

Writer(s) – Richard Smith (written by) – (BMT: Lock Up; Notes: Recently passed away. He apparently did some work on a couple of the James Bond films and wrote a novel published in 2010)

Henry Rosenbaum (written by) – (Known For: ; BMT: Lock Up; The Dunwich Horror; Hanky Panky; Notes: Nothing of interest about him. Weird.)

Jeb Stuart (written by) – (Known For: Die Hard; The Fugitive; Next of Kin; Vital Signs; Blood Done Sign My Name; Hart’s War; BMT: Another 48 Hrs.; Lock Up; Just Cause; Fire Down Below; Leviathan; Switchback; Notes: Wrote an early draft of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.)

Actors – Sylvester Stallone – (Known For: Rocky; The Expendables; The Expendables 2; Escape Plan; First Blood; Rocky Balboa; Rocky II; Rocky IV; Antz; Demolition Man; Rocky III; Cliffhanger; Cop Land; Bullet to the Head; Nighthawks; Creed; Death Race 2000; Spy Kids 3-D – Game Over; Shade; Victory; F.I.S.T. BMT: The Expendables 3; Rambo: First Blood Part II; Rambo III; Judge Dredd; Rocky V; Tango & Cash; Assassins; Daylight; The Specialist; Cobra; Grudge Match; Over the Top; Driven; Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot; Lock Up; Get Carter; Oscar; Rhinestone; Zookeeper; Rambo; D-Tox. Notes: Won for Worst Actor, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot (1992); Rambo III (1988); Cobra (1986); Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), Rocky IV (1985); Rhinestone (1984). Nominated for Worst Actor, Bullet to the Head (2012), Escape Plan (2013), Grudge Match (2013); Get Carter (2000); Daylight(1996); Assassins (1995), Judge Dredd (1995); The Specialist (1994); Get Carter (2000); Oscar (1991); Rocky V (1990); Lock Up (1989), Tango & Cash (1989); Over the Top (1987); Cobra (1986). Won for Worst Supporting Actor, Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003). Nominated for Worst Supporting Actor, Driven (2001); An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn (1997). Won for Worst Actor of the Century. Won for Worst Actor of the Decade (1980’s). Geez Louise. And that’s just for acting.)

Budget/Gross: $24 million / $22,099,847

(A definitive bomb for Stallone. This was smack in the middle of a disastrous run of films for him so he might have just started to wear out his welcome. After First Blood in 1982 he followed with Staying Alive, Rhinestone, Rambo II, Rocky IV, Cobra, Over the Top, Rambo III, Lock Up, Tango & Cash, Rocky V, Oscar, and Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Oof.)

Rotten Tomatoes: 16% (2/12), No consensus yet.

(Never trust the RT on a movie this old (like Weekend at Bernie’s is a downright mediocre film according to RT). It’s nice that it’s low, but the Razzie recognition, Leonard Maltin review, and BMeTric are more important in this case.)

Poster – Black and White


(Looks pretty cheap but I guess the artistic take is nice. I’ve seen this same poster with red coloring on the letters and/or sky, which I like a bit more. But this seems official.)

Tagline(s) – How much can a man take…before he gives back? (D+)

How many times can a man be pushed to the wall…before he goes over it? (C-)

Stallone…behind bars? Not for long. (Hah)

He is only six months away from freedom. But a warden obsessed with revenge wants to take his future away. (D)

(I usually just grade the tagline that is found on the poster (which I consider official), but there isn’t one on the main poster and these are too good not to grade. They are all either too long or bonkers insane. The first and second use super weird phrasing to make their point. The third is hilarious… I can hear Stallone saying those words. The fourth is classic 70’s/80’s tagline.)

Notes – The cast includes real inmates of Rahway State Prison which is also known as East Jersey State Prison as it is located in Rahway, New Jersey, USA. A number of the prisoners appear as extras and background artists in the movie. (This is the prison I taught at in New Jersey. It’s got a very distinctive look. I wonder if I’ll recognize some of the places they show.)

The movie was nominated for three Golden Raspberry Awards at the 10th annual ceremony including Worst Picture, Worst Actor – Sylvester Stallone and Worst Supporting Actor – Donald Sutherland, but the film failed to take home a Razzie in any category.

First starring role of actor Tom Sizemore.

Actor Frank McRae, who participates in the football game sequence, had actually played gridiron as an NFL (National Football League) defensive tackle during the 1967 season playing six games for the Chicago Bears. (There it is).

Danny Trejo: As a gang member of Chink’s gang. (Keep a lookout)