Down to You Recap

Jamie

Was there some fad in the early 2000s that I don’t remember where romance films eschewed the typical “meet cute” device in favor of a super earnest “we were always meant for each other even if we didn’t always know it but we still kinda knew it” device? Why do I ask? Because Down to You and Here on Earth are essentially the same movie and were released within weeks of each other. I’m not saying that Down to You is as good a BMT film as Here on Earth. That would be impossible. Here on Earth is a unique star in the BMTverse that shines with no comparison. But it feels the same. So if there wasn’t some earnest teen romance film fad, then I like to think they this is some bizarre example of a twin film scenario. Like Deep Impact and Armageddon or White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen. As if Miramax heard that Fox was putting Here on Earth into production and Harvey screamed at his assistant, “Get Freddie on the phone, we’re making a movie,” while dusting off an old script of Here on Earth he had lying around and grabbing the closest intern to be the director. They even play the same god damned song in the middle of the movie! You know, the song that plays when Chris Klein is dancing in the barn before drunkenly crashing the fair… what am I saying, obviously you remember it. That’s all my mind was able to focus on while watching the film… it was just so similar. And yet, it wasn’t nearly the BMT film that Here on Earth was. Felt a little in on the joke… which makes sense, it’s a comedy after all.

Quick game for me. This film was not based on a book. Strangely, though, Stiles is a book cover artist in the film and in the end gives Freddie a book called Down to You that she illustrated. So what was that book about? My guess? It’s the story of an endless love between a girl and a boy who always and forever knew they were meant for each other. Life gets in the way, but they always find their way through. Yeah, she cheats on him and he can’t handle their drifting apart, but when all’s said and done they recognize their own faults and how they make each other better… Oh, and the book also stars Chris Klein and is the best and is actually called Here on Earth: the Book and it won the Pulitzer. Perfect.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Down to You? More like Down on This Movie! And I was, let’s get into it.

  • The Good – I think I’ve said this every week in our one and done director cycle, but passion. The writer-director here had a vision (I think). He wasn’t that successful, but I appreciate it. See below for more details. I did appreciate that they shot it in NYC though. It was obviously NYC. It was so NYC it hurt.
  • The Bad – I don’t think I appreciated how not-good Freddie Prinze Jr. was as an actor until this movie. The movie was really kind of gross-weird in a gross-weird kind of way (you know?). The fact that the characters talk directly to the camera was just a horrible horrible (horrible) decision.
  • The BMT – What? Yes. I would give it a 50 on the BMeTric which is where it was really. It is a poor man’s Here on Earth. But who would be shocked? Freddie Prinze Jr. is a poor man’s Chris Klein (in BMT terms). Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Not sure.

One last thought on the film. Basically, I have the distinct feeling this movie was the director’s passion project. It is extremely reminiscent of Cusack films like One Crazy Summer. A little bit more drama (so maybe throw in a bit of Hughes for good measure), The main characters talked directly to the camera, it felt like a person telling their own story of their one great college romance (and how fleeting that can be and feel), and there is a strange surreal storyline woven throughout the film with Zak Orth as a porn auteur. And yet … the film kind of falls flat on its face throughout. Who to blame? Impossible to know. Perhaps seeing a young writer-director’s singular vision of a film just slo-motion explode is punishment enough, I don’t know. I think I’ll have to come back to this movie someday (ugh), just to really sort through things ….

Quick Sequel Prequel Remake, Sequel duh. Fast forward 16 years, the movie is called Down to Earth (I’m already excited about the potential Here on Earth, Down to Earth, Down to You trilogy!) and shows our protagonists struggling to rekindle the romance after ten years of marriage and two kids later. Hard drama. Revolutionary Road style, it comes out to rave reviews and snags both leading actor awards at the Oscars. One reviewer notes the “real pain behind Freddie Prinze Jr’s revelatory performance, … demanding your attention and admiration all at once”. First time writer-director Patrick Smadbeck was shut out of all major awards much to his chagrin. Bah, now I’m angry.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Down to You Preview

Alrighty girls, time to settle down with your boo and bust out that bottle of wine, because this week is a romantic … comedy? Drama? I actually can’t tell. Teen Romance. There it is, that is a genre, right? Anywho, BMT legend Freddie Prinze Jr., teen star legend Julia Stiles, and a one-off writer-director once got together and made what is apparently a truly baffling movie. There is a story here, I know there is!

Down to You (2000) – BMeTric: 46.7

DownToYou_BMeT

(Nice. Looking like it will just stay a shade under 50 BMeT for all of time. Congrats Down to You, you did it! Otherwise a pretty standard chart at this point. I am genuinely surprised at how high the BMeT is though, 45+ is still incredible.)

Leonard Maltin – BOMB –  Prinza and Stiles futilely try chumming us up by speaking directly into the camera, explaining how their once-idyllic college romance went bust (though not as bust as the movie). Somehow, this manages to find room for subplots about a TV cooking show (hosted by Winkler as Prinze’s dad) and a buddy who dabbles as an adult-movie entrepreneur with a kind of bohemian/intellectual porn actress. Numbingly inept comedy.

(Holy cow Maltin, BRUTAL. Buzzed right past passive aggressive and slid face first into straight-up aggressive! This movie is straight busted. The irony is just dripping off of that “somehow”, dirty. And the closer. So succinct and just soul destroying. I’m obsessed with this review for some reason, he just murders this film.)

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

(That looks like the 90s alright. Really just sickly sweet stuff. Cannot wait to sit down with my boo and watch that. I hope they get together in the end!)

Directors – Kris Isacsson – (BMT: Down to You; Notes: see below)

Writers – Kris Isacsson (written by) – (BMT: Down to You; Notes: one-time director and writer? Uh, yes please. He is also an anomaly in that I can find very very little information about him. I think I found his twitter (~100 tweets, mostly retweets) and his instagram (~100 posts, nothing interesting). I don’t really know what happened to him. He did a few tv movies up through 2008, but nothing else on IMDb. There is a story here … [Jamie’s Note: Here’s a little bit of his background. Also here is a link to the short film he did that won a Sundance award.])

Actors – Freddie Prinze Jr. – (Known For: The House of Yes; Brooklyn Rules; BMT: I Still Know What You Did Last Summer; Scooby-Doo; Wing Commander (BMT); Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed; Happily N’Ever After; Summer Catch; Down to You; I Know What You Did Last Summer; Boys and Girls; Head Over Heels; She’s All That; Delgo; Notes: Best buds with BMT darling Matthew Lillard (in my dreams). Only son of late comedian Freddie Prinze. Now more known for his voice acting work, and was heavily involved with WWE for years. Nominated Razzie Award 2003 Worst Supporting Actor Scooby-Doo)

Julia Stiles – (Known For: 10 Things I Hate About You; Silver Linings Playbook; The Bourne Identity; The Bourne Ultimatum; The Bourne Supremacy; Save the Last Dance; O; Closed Circuit; State and Main; Hamlet; It’s a Disaster; Edmond; I Love You, I Love You Not; The Business of Strangers; BMT: Down to You; The Omen; A Guy Thing; The Prince and Me (BMT); Out of the Dark; Girl Most Likely; The Devil’s Own; Misconduct; Mona Lisa Smile; Notes: We saw her last in Prince and Me. Her filmography is incredible considering she hasn’t been a leading lady for years. A former vegan.)

Budget/Gross – $35 million / Domestic: $20,069,008 (Worldwide: $24,419,914 Worldwide)

#28 for Teen Romance (right above another Prinze gem, Summer Catch)

(Ooooooooof. First, how could this movie cost that much? I guess maybe the NYC setting and actors? And yes, this was actually shot in NYC according to IMDb. I suppose you expect a Prinze/Stiles film to do better, but first time writer-director? There is a story here, I feel it.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 3% (2/59): Down to You is ruined by a bland, by-the-numbers plot and an awful script.

(That is a spectacularly low score. Also, everything about this film screams “This person had no idea how to write or direct a film and yet was somehow given total control”. The question is why and how? My guess … we’ll never know.)

Poster – Hideous Purple Background (D-)

DownToYou

(I have a confession to make: I hate this poster. I hate how they are just kind of cut into it. I hate the background color and pattern. I hate the font and how easy it would be for me to change this into Down to Sklog with me and my dog Tolstoy hugging (and no, I didn’t do it … I was too busy, otherwise you’d be looking at my fake poster right this minute). Why isn’t it an F? Because I like Prinze and Stiles, so there.)

Tagline(s) – A new comedy about giving first love a second chance. (B-)

(Above average, you heard me right. First love. Second chance. I hate the “new comedy” bit, but I like the idea. And hey, as far as taglines goes there are far far far far far worse. Change that to “Sometimes first love needs a second chance” and you got a solid B.)

Notes – First time that Shawn Hatosy and Julia Stiles worked together. Later they would both join the cast of Dexter during Season 5. (cooooooooooool)

Maximum Overdrive Recap

Jamie

Hello students. Welcome to Dr. Smadbeck’s lecture on Trucks and its adaptations. I am the foremost authority on this subject as I’m actually the only person currently alive that has read the original short story by Stephen King, watched its first adaptation known as Maximum Overdrive, and the 1997 Canadian TV Movie that returned to the original title of Trucks. Let’s begin.

There is nothing in the short story that screams “I must be adapted.” Nothing. The story simply details a bunch of people hanging out in a truck stop while driverless trucks prowl about outside. People die, they end up pumping gas for the trucks (becoming their slaves), and end the story contemplating whether one day they may once again be free from their new masters. Like most Stephen King tales, the story is somewhat abstract in its creepiness. It makes one confront a fear that they may not have even known they had (like the helplessness that would go along with our own creations turning against us).

So you might expect that Stephen King (the director of his own adaptation) must have looked at this particularly abstract scary story and thought “I’ll have to jazz this up to get this to work on screen.” You would be wrong. As King is wont to do, he instead made an nearly exact replication of his work. Few details were added other than a shitty explanation for why the machines have come to life (answer: Earth passing through the tail of a comet… cool beans, bro). It was boring, it was silly, and it had a terrible ending. Worst of all it just wasn’t any fun, and that’s usually what I love about King. A pulpy 50’s feel.

Anyway, you’d think it couldn’t get worse. You’d be wrong again, because I then watched Trucks, a TV movie adaptation of the same work that originally aired on the USA network back in 1997 (egad! What has my life come to?). Oddly, I had a sneaking suspicion that whoever made the film ripped off Maximum Overdrive as several key elements, which were not in the original source material, appear in the TV movie. How little creativity do you need to have to steal from the adaptation that absolutely tanked? Even odder? I think this absolutely terrible TV movie managed to have a better ending than the major motion picture (double egad!).

I also have a more minor gripe I’d like to voice. Emilio Estevez is understandably cool as ice in this film. He looks cool, he seems cool, he is cool. A short time into the film a girl enters his life. She looks cool, seems cool, and is cool as well. They are basically the heroes. They run around saving people. She seems tough as nails and so does he. It’s perfect. It was one of the few things working in the film. Obviously, though, they end up boning (why wouldn’t they? They are both rad). Immediately after boning our once badass chick is no longer running around saving people. She throws on a short skirt, kisses Emilio, and tells him to be safe. She stays behind waiting for him to come back and kiss on her some more. It’s super duper lame. What happened to the badass chick that I liked so much?! It was really infuriating. From what I’ve read it was actually a conscious choice by the producer Dino De Laurentiis. He told King to stop dressing her in pants and to have her just be a typical girl in a short skirt for guys to ogle. Talk about having an old fashioned feel. Guess Dino never saw Alien.

With that I’ll conclude the lecture. I hope you’ve learned enough to never have to watch either of these films.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Maximum Overdrive?! More like Movie That Patrick Derides! Weak, but I think this is a historic moment, the first Bad Movie Title Pun (BMTP) with my name? Maybe. Anyways, I hated Maximum Overdrive. Oops, spoiled it one sec:

  • The Good – I liked Emilio. I liked Laura Harrington. Some tense moments, although few and far between.
  • The Bad – I hated this movie (there it is). Let’s see. Most of the acting was terrible. The entire movie is bookended by title cards explaining (unnecessarily) an origin for the machines awakening. The movie looks like it was made in 1975. By extension, this movie had the opportunity to have seriously sweet practical effects, but I’m convinced King as director waylaid any hope of pulling off anything interesting. The ending was straight hot garbage.
  • The BMT – Not really. I mean, for street cred purposes sure. But in general I would never really want to watch this film again. Borderline I guess.

But that kind of exemplifies the problems we often have with watching films from the 80s for BMT. Context. In context what did people think of this film in 1986? It really does look like it was made in 1975, it looks like Jaws. Did people notice that? Were 1980s horror fans going in and just baffled by the quality. Or was it just a shrug and a “not very scary, kind of boring” attitude. Without context for me it makes this movie very puzzling. I don’t like the movie either as a movie or as a BMT film. It satisfies Bad Movie Street Cred (BMSC) and nothing more.

Game? I do actually want a remake. I think there is something here with one simple change. Play it straight to start. Hey we can just wait out the trucks. They’ll run out of gas. Whatever is causing this will end. But no. The machines get their energy elsewhere, they don’t need gas. Show them rebuilding their fallen brethren. Evolving into better machines. Until it dawns on our protagonists that they are doomed. This movie comes across as silly without a sad ending unfortunately.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Maximum Overdrive Preview

Alright, for this week’s film we continue on our cycle of one-and-done directors with horror/thriller. While the previous entries in the category typically involve an actor taking a stab at directing, or a commercial/music video/television director getting a shot, this film is one of the few examples where a novelist was given the chance to adapt his own work. That’s right, we are watching Maximum Overdrive! Perhaps emboldened by Clive Barker’s success with Hellraiser, Stephen King decided he really, really, really wanted to direct this adaptation. Then afterwards he decided that he really, really, really didn’t want to ever direct again. Let’s go!

Maximum Overdrive (1986) – BMeTric: 40.8

MaximumOverdrive_BMeT

(While fairly standard I am kind of startled by how rapidly this movie’s rating has risen. You can kind of see it here, but the rating has risen from 4.3 in 2007 to 5.4 now! How?! This is a weird trend I see a lot and I think it is because as the “population” of IMDb increases less discerning people (or at least people less willing to just rip a movie apart) join up. Still weird. But 40+ for a film from 1986? Uh, yes please)

Leonard Maltin – BOMB – Customers and employees at an interstate truck stop are terrorized by the trucks themselves, which have come to demonic life as a part of a global rebellion of machines. Novelist King, making his directorial debut, said he set out to create a junk movie, nothing more… but he made it stupid and boring. Remade as a 1997 cable movie, TRUCKS.

(I searched high and low but can’t seem to find the source for where King implied he set out to create a junk film. I can only presume that it was in some interview lost to time because it is referenced ad nauseum when talking about the film. Patrick and I will have to draw straws to determine who is going to go out of their way to watch the 1997 TV movie.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygWMy-QQNbw

(Is this some sort of sick joke? Stephen King was hopped up on coke while making this film? You don’t say.)

Director(s) – Stephen King – (BMT: Maximum Overdrive; Notes: Nominated for Worst Director, Maximum Overdrive (1986). World famous author. ‘It’ is one of my favorites books. I love it.)

Writer(s) – Stephen King (film by, written for the screen by) – (Known For: The Shining; 1408; The Running Man; Pet Sematary; Christine; Creepshow; Cujo; Salem’s Lot; Stephen King’s ‘The Langoliers’; Stephen King’s ‘Storm of the Century’; Stephen King’s ‘Silver Bullet’; Stephen King’s ‘Cat’s Eye’; BMT: Dreamcatcher; Maximum Overdrive; Creepshow 2; Stephen King’s A Good Marriage; Stephen King’s ‘Thinner’; Stephen King’s ‘Sleepwalkers’; Stephen King’s ‘Graveyard Shift’; Notes: Famous author. Has said the only adaptation of his work he remembers hating is Kubrick’s The Shining. This hatred led to him making his own TV movie adaptation of the film.)

Actors – Emilio Estevez – (Known For: The Breakfast Club; Young Guns; Bobby; St. Elmo’s Fire; Repo Man; The Way; Mission: Impossible; The Outsiders; BMT: The Mighty Ducks; D2: The Mighty Ducks; Maximum Overdrive; D3: The Mighty Ducks; Men at Work; Freejack; Young Guns II; National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1; Notes: Nominated for Worst Actor, Maximum Overdrive (1986). Has not acted in a significant role since 2010’s The Way. Now more focused on directing.)

Budget/Gross: $10 million / $7,433,663

(I heard it was supposed to be a spring film, but King needed a break or something so they moved the release date to July in exchange for him doing a lot of promotion… which didn’t help and it failed miserably. Not the worst release ever for a major Stephen King adaptation… 4th actualy. The worst two are the Mangler and future BMT pick Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace.)

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

(Old films never have a huge number of reviews, although RT is getting better at collecting them. I’ll write a consensus: King’s directorial debut proves that if you want something done right, you better not do it yourself.)

Poster – Jeez Louise! (F)

maximumOverdrive

(Holy Moly! That is listed as the theatrical poster! Did Stephen King also make that himself? That is startling.)

Tagline(s) – Stephen King’s masterpiece of terror directed by the master himself. (F)

(There are lots of taglines associated with the theater release/VHS/laserdisc/DVD over the years. I just use the one that’s on the original poster. Obviously it is trash. Nothing more to say.)

Notes – In the movie trailer, Stephen King said he decided to direct the film himself after writing several because he wanted to see Stephen King done right. “If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself.” When asked why he hasn’t directed a movie since “Maximum Overdrive”, Stephen King responded “Just watch Maximum Overdrive.” (perfect one and done for real)

Stephen King, being a former cocaine addict, later admitted that he was “coked out of my mind” the entire time he was making this picture and often didn’t know what he was doing. He remarked that he’d like to try directing again someday, this time sober. (This is what I like to hear Stephen. I’m willing to bet a solid portion of weird ass movies from the 80s have a similar origin story)

An accident occurred on July 31, 1985 during shooting in a suburb of Wilmington, North Carolina where a radio-controlled lawnmower used in a scene went out of control and struck a block of wood used as a camera support, shooting out wood splinters which injured the director of photography Armando Nannuzzi; as a result, he lost his right eye. Nannuzzi sued Stephen King on February 18, 1987 for $18 million in damages. The suit was settled out of court. (Yeah, there is a bit of a sad tale there. Obviously losing an eye is not ideal for a director of photography).

On Deadly Ground Recap

Patrick

‘Ello everyone. On Deadly Ground? More like Not Made For Patrick! Let’s get into it.

  • The Good – The directing was shockingly solid. You heard me right. Makes me think Seagal just didn’t like directing. The action was brutal, some of the practical effects were genuinely amazing, and the entire part with Caine is kind of strangely appealing in a cynical fuck-you-corporate-America kind of way.
  • The Bad – It often comes across as a barely film. McGinley is terrible. The lines often cross into WTF-am-I-hearing territory, no human beings would talk like this. An unnecessary hallucination sequence in the middle which is just baffling. And a crazy monologue at the end which could not have been more trite.
  • The BMT – Of course. But I was right, it is like a 40 (borderline but not quite legendary), not a 60. Nailed the Seagal Adjusted BMeT (SABMeT).

I kept that part short on purpose because something happened while I watched this film, and it kind of relates to the SABMeT. Every so often when I watch a movie I think to myself “oh this is unpleasant”. Usually it is with movies like Sabotage where I get physically repulsed by the amount of violence and gore on screen. I’m a sensitive lad. Super violent movies just aren’t my jam. That happened during this film. Which is weird. I’ve only seen two Seagal films (On Deadly Ground and Fire Down Below, both for BMT), but for some reason I had the impression he was like JCVD, whose movies I find far more palatable (and with super karate action! Is it karate? I honestly have no idea).

And then it struck me: “Oh, this movie isn’t made for me”. It appears (I assume) to be serving a niche underserved market. People who want to watch Aikido (or perhaps any martial art), ‘splosions, and people getting shot in the face and blown up by claymore mines in gruesome and unyielding detail. No wonder Seagal appears to exist in his own realm of movies. Such unpleasant films are few and far between I imagine. Get yo money Seagal. Get yo money.

No time for another game. I was going to do a Tril-Oh-Geez (landmines featuring Double Team and this gem: I. Am. Not. Joking. ). But I’ll just leave it here. So philosophical these last couple of week. Loving the One-and-Done Director Cycle!

Jamie

There is a set of actors in the bad movie universe (not the BMTverse… there’s a distinct difference) where I’m not totally sure why they are so appealing to their loyal fanbase. On the rare occasions that we actually watch one of their films, I like to take the opportunity to try to better understand them. Steven Seagal is one of those actors (Jean-Claude Van Damme and Tyler Perry are two others that I can think of off the top of my head). We have watched one other film starring Seagal (Fire Down Below) and I can tell you I did not understand his appeal AT ALL after watching that shit. But that was late Seagal. Not fat Seagal, but still late. His star was fading. This was the first true blue Seagal film I have actually ever seen (shocking, I know). And I can tell you: I now get it. Seagal is three things: swearing like a sailor, the environment, and gruesomely murdering people that he deems deserving. Can I see why people are into that? Uh fuck yeah (minus the whole environment thing, which is kinda a Seagal quirk). Am I into it? Not totally. While fun, I was getting a bit queasy around the seventh time he shot someone in the face at point blank range. Regardless, I get it. And that’s what BMT is all about.

One small thing to note is that this film didn’t just take place in Alaska. It is Alaska. I loved it. Great setting film.

Anywho, this movie was not based on a book (although two Seagal films are: The Patriot and Exit Wounds), but if it was it would be based on a book called The Rainbow Warrior where an Inuit warrior, Aklark, fed up with the oil company destroying his home, decides to fight back. While the oil company may have the firepower, The Rainbow Warrior has the power of nature behind him. The book is notable for the number of times that Aklark calls upon the animal kingdom to gruesomely murder someone, as well as a climactic scene where Aklark transforms into a bear and mauls the president of the oil company to death. Reviews for the book were… poor.

On Deadly Ground Preview

Alright, onto this week. Once upon a time a boy named Steven Seagal stumbled inadvertently into fame after giving an aikido demonstration for a bunch of Hollywood talent execs hopped up on cocaine (probably). They thought it was totally kick ass and immediately allowed him to star in five major motion pictures, culminating in Under Siege (a wild success). After reading The Art of the Deal by Donald Trump (probably) he was all like “I have leverage” and was like “I totally won’t do Under Siege II unless you let me direct my next film.” The execs were horrified. They needed the sweet, sweet Under Siege II dollars to fuel their obsessive speedboat collecting habits. So they said yes and he made a little movie called On Deadly Ground and everyone in the world lived happily ever after. That’s the story of our next film. The only directorial effort by the late, great Steven Seagal (Patrick’s Note: Steven Seagal is not dead). He apparently decided not to direct again because how can you improve at something you’ve perfected? We now get to watch his perfection. Let’s go!

On Deadly Ground (1994) – BMeTric: 62.8

OnDeadlyGround_BMeT

(BMT University Alert! Months ago I postulated that an adjustment to the BMeTric needed to be made, a Genre Adjusted BMeTric (GABMeT, the first part of an adjusted BMeT+), in order to account for the fact that Horror films have a small bizarrely devoted fanbase who watches everything and is perfectly willing to throw out ratings on IMDb. It artificially inflates the BMeTrics of Horror films and leaves us baffled. I’m going to say it now: Seagal is the same. His straight-to-video film from 2015 has 2000 votes on IMDb … 2000! How?! Who watches these things?! Baffling. So this is probably like … a 40 in my Seagal Adjusted BMeTric (SABMeT). Book it.)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars – After the critical/popular success of Under Siege, Seagal was allowed to direct this fast-fader about the raping of Alaska’s interior by an oil company run by evil Caine. Spiritual mumbo-jumbo halfway through look like an outtake from The Doors, and the star’s anticlimactic final speech (and the obligatory wrist-snapping) had fans bolting for the exits. Caine looks as if he’s undergone cosmetic surgery by Dwight Frye.

(Leonard should have just stopped at “evil Caine.” No need to say more. I’m in. He then descends into film nerd jokes that only he would get. I do not understand either The Doors reference or the Dwight Frye thing. Finally, I can’t wait to enjoy Seagal’s anticlimactic speech. I feel like BMT was built on anticlimactic speeches.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyD_6_jFB8A

(I wonder if this is the only case of the White Savior trope being used in reference to the inuit people? Probably. Love, love, love the line “I’m gonna reach out and touch somebody here.” Bwhahahahaha.)

Director(s) – Steven Seagal – (BMT: On Deadly Ground Notes: For Razzie info see below. His lone directorial debut. It is said that he got to do this because he agreed to be in Under Siege II: Dark Territory. This was a small production until Seagal was attached at which point its budget ballooned.)

Writer(s) – Ed Horowitz (written by) – (BMT: On Deadly Ground; Exit Wounds; Notes: Nominated for Worst Screenplay, On Deadly Ground (1994); Teaches at UCLA and is known for his work with Segal in addition to writing for La Femme Nikita.)

Robin U. Russin (written by) – (BMT: On Deadly Ground; Notes: Nominated for Worst Screenplay, On Deadly Ground (1994); Teaches as University of California Riverside and the author of Screenplay: Writing the Picture.)

Actors – Steven Seagal – (Known For: Machete, Executive Decision, Under Siege, The Perfect Weapon, Above the Law; BMT: On Deadly Ground, The Patriot, Half Past Dead, Fire Down Below, Ticker, The Foreigner, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory,  Into the Sun, The Glimmer Man, Exit Wounds, Maximum Conviction, Hard to Kill; Notes: For Razzie info see below. We all know Seagal. We rode that sweet high-octane martial arts wave from the late eighties, through the 90s, and (like many a-wave rider) became a parody of himself in the 2000s. He is still making movies, but basically straight-to-video stuff. His fanbase does appear strong though judging by the number of IMDb votes his recent movies receive (that I’ve never heard of, let alone seen). Make yo money Seagal, haters gonna hate.)

Razzie Info for Segal: Won for Worst Director, On Deadly Ground (1994); Nominated for Worst Actor, On Deadly Ground (1994), Fire Down Below (1997), and Half Past Dead (2002); Nominated for Worst Supporting Actor, Executive Decision (1996); Nominated for Worst Original Song, Fire Down Below (1997) For the song “Fire Down Below” (!!!!!! He genuinely helped write that song!)

Also stars Michael Caine!

Budget/Gross: $50 million / $38,590,458

(Oooooooooooof. Why does this movie cost $50 million? Why would they give that to Seagal for his directoral debut? How much of that budget went to ‘splosions? Hopefully a lot. In reality Seagal probably gave most of it to Caine and himself and then laughed all the way to the bank.)

Rotten Tomatoes: 10% (3/30), No consensus yet.

(Bah, I’m going to give it a consensus. Not even evil Michael Caine can save this disastrous directorial debut. Explosions galore, but ultimately underwhelms.)

Poster – Bob Ross-esque (B-)

ondeadlyground

(There is something mesmerizing about this poster despite it being a bit crowded. I like the title font and really like the tones. Seagal’s giant orange face mixes nicely with the burning building and the sunrise and all that fades picturesquely into the darker background. It’s like a painting that Bob Ross would have painted. I can’t stop staring at it. This means something…)

Tagline(s) – His Battle To Save The Alaskan Wilderness And Protect Its People Can Only Be Won… (D)

(… On Deadly Ground. Let me just finish that little guy for you. Way too long. Almost a perfect example of informative, but boring. And stupidly incorporating an already stupid title into the tagline, just not a good look all around.)

Notes – The final scene when Forrest Taft gives the speech about the oil companies and air pollution, was originally 11 minutes long. Audiences complained that it was overlong and preachy. The scene was re-edited before release. (fuck you audiences, do you think I can find this?)

There were allegations that Michael Caine and Steven Seagal didn’t get along. However, in Caine’s memoir, The Elephant To Hollywood, he stated that he liked working with Seagal and the crew, but hated filming in Alaska, even joking that “On Deadly Ground” was an apt title. (This has been settings facts, brought to you by Jamie’s weird obsession)

Steven Seagal agreed to appear in Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (1995) if Warner Bros. allowed him to direct this film. (good deal bro)

After Warner offered Steven Seagal the directorial reins for this film, then titled Rainbow Warrior, the budget blew out when bigger and more explosive action scenes were written into the screenplay. Warner turned to indie production company Largo Entertainment to share some of the cost. In return, Largo would get the international rights to the film. However, after Under Siege (1992) opened, and performed beyond Warner’s expectations, Warner decided to fully finance the film themselves.

On Deadly Ground was not Steven Seagal’s first choice to make his directorial debut. He was initially offered the mafia drama “Man of Honor” as a starring/director/writer vehicle by Twentieth Century Fox and Morgan Creek Productions, but cost overruns, and Fox’s unwillingness to plonk down $30+ million dollars for the film, forced the pic to shutdown, just weeks away from filming.

Razzie Awards 1995, Won for Worst Director, Steven Seagal

Razzie Awards 1995, Nominated for Worst Picture

Razzie Awards 1995, Nominated for Worst Actor, Steven Seagal

Razzie Awards 1995, Nominated for Worst Actress, Joan Chen

Razzie Awards 1995, Nominated for Worst Screenplay, Ed Horowitz, Robin U. Russin

Razzie Awards 1995, Nominated for Worst Original Song, Mark Hudson, Klaus Meine, For the song “Under The Same Sun”.

The Tuxedo Recap

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! The Tuxedo? More like The Tuxe-don’t!!!! No time to waste, I got BMT Theories to attend to:

  • The Good – I am nearly always charmed by Jackie Chan. The ending was a solidly entertaining twist on a tired trope (the guy finally getting the girl he fawned over in the beginning, asll you need is confidence!). Some of the practical effects were genuinely impressive (if terrifying for a kids movie). The directing choices showed passion (this is becoming a theme)
  • The Bad – The plot is linear but convoluted, so weird that it make suspension of disbelief nearly impossible. They utilize wire-work in such a way as to make me not enjoy the one thing I should be enjoying in a Jackie Chan film (martial arts), unbelievable and not fun same as in the Medallion. Hewitt was a bland sidekick (more on this later). The entirety of Jackie Chan pretending to be James Brown, the scene is a travesty to filmmaking in general. The directing choices are out of date (diagonal wipes for scene transitions? What is this, Star Wars?!).
  • The BMT – Yes, although Jamie and I disagreed a bit on the exact level. If you recall the actual number is 50+ (amazing). Jamie thinks that is about right. I thought this was more like a 30-40. Really just bonkers crazy, but it ain’t no Medallion. Which brings me right to my game.

Welcome to BMT University and a new edition of BMT Theories where I give you a probably terrible theory on bad movies. Let’s roll out the main big budget Chan movies/franchises between ‘98 and ‘08: Rush Hour, Shanghai Noon, The Tuxedo, The Medallion, and Around the World in 80 Days. These all have three common denominators besides Jackie Chan. First, martial arts. Second, a kind of ridiculously convoluted plot. Third, a companion, someone who can make fun of how Jackie Chan looks, speaks, and is in general (comedy!).

My Theory: you can pretty much just rank these movies by the interest of the companion. Chris Tucker and Owen Wilson are a bit neck and neck, but I go Owen Wilson all day (and I like Shanghai Noon over Rush Hour, so there). After that we have The Tuxedo, Hewitt did an admirable (although overly silly/bland) job in the role. The Medallion had Lee Evens in a perpetual gay panic, so that was not a great look. And then Around the World in 80 Days had Steve Coogan sleepwalking around Epcot Center-level sets. Voila, it works!

I do think this movie was slightly better than The Medallion which is where the 30-40 BMeTric assessment comes in. I think The Medallion is 50+, but this one was saved slightly by Hewitt. I’m excited to see how the theory holds up with Spy Next Door where Jackie Chan is paired with three children.

Jamie

As usual I allowed Patrick to tell the story of The Tuxedo to our loyal audience, while I concerned myself more with some of the underlying themes and characteristics that interest us in the BMTverse. Briefly I’ll say that I thought The Tuxedo was bonkers. A great BMT film. Really hacked to shit in editing, super odd pacing to a confounding story arc, and a scenery-eating antagonist extraordinaire. I liked it a lot. Some might disagree.

I’m tired of making up fake book adaptations. Instead, I’ll play a new game called BMysTeries. The Tuxedo provides a perfect opportunity for me to talk way too much about one of my favorite BMT subjects: the setting. I love settings. I find it fascinating to try to figure why particular films are set in particular places. Is it necessary that Chill Factor take place in Montana? Nope. Could have been Small Town, U.S.A., but they chose Montana. Why? Hard to say. But it’s easy to see why New Year’s Eve takes place in New York. Interestingly it’s rare for us to watch a film that doesn’t have an identifiable setting, and even rarer for a film to go out of its way to obscure where it takes place. The Tuxedo is one such film. How do I know it’s not set anywhere? Well whenever I watch a BMT film I always look for evidence pointing to where a film is set (I’m a weirdo): license plates on cars, landmarks, business cards, etc. In The Tuxedo every license plate was the same: “The Great State” listed on top, “Freedom” on the bottom. Additionally, the home address of one of the characters is shown explicitly on screen no less than three times. The state on the address? LI. A made up state abbreviation! Perhaps an underhanded way of implying Long Island = New York… but hard to say as the town names are all made up. You have to give the film credit for going all in on not having a setting. But why? It’s the question I’ve been asking myself all week. Why? Why is it important that the film have no setting? I could understand having fake license plates (cheaper?), but a fake state abbreviation doesn’t save anything (other than saving you from having to specify a setting). It’s a BMysTery. BMysTery #1: Why do settingless films not have a setting?

I will be researching this topic for future entries. Perhaps if I collect enough datapoints, I’ll be able to figure out the benefit that The Tuxedo gained being set in The Great State of LI. For now it’s a spooky mystery.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs