Phantoms Preview

Just moving right along in our Now a Major Motion Picture cycle we had quite a conundrum on our hands with Horror/Thriller. There is an obvious champion of the Horror-based-on-a-book genre and it’s called One Missed Call (one of the rare 0% on RT). The movie was based on a Japanese film that was based on a Japanese novel. Unfortunately the book never received an English translation! So we just couldn’t do it. We just couldn’t allow One Missed Call to turn this cycle into a sham. I must read them all, damn it! Another option was Sliver… but that was weird too because it’s an erotic thriller starring Billy Baldwin and Sharon Stone… both of whom we just saw in different BMT films (Fair Game and Basic Instinct 2). No go. Gotta keep it fresh. So instead we chose the freshest film around. A film that Ben Affleck was the bomb in, yo. That’s right! Phantoms! This has always been on our BMT bucket list, so I’m pretty excited. On top of that I’m a huge Stephen King and horror lit fan, so It’ll be nice to be able to expand my repertoire with a Dean Koontz book. I’ve never read one by him. Let’s go!

Phantoms (1998) – BMeTric: 38.7

Phantoms_BMeT

Phantoms_RV

(Obviously beautiful regression to the mean there with the rating following right along with the number of votes. It has been a while since we’ve seen a nice two plateau plot. This one is basically caused by the rating initially rising more than it should (reaching 5.0 in 2006) countering the rising in votes. After that the votes go through an inflection (going from 3000 to 10000 votes on IMDb is incredibly important for the BMeTric) and then again the rise in rating kind of counters the steady vote rise. Not super interesting, but you can kind of see the shape of the BMeTric in the plots which is kind of cool. Also 40 is solid, surprisingly so in my opinion.)

Leonard Maltin – 2.5 stars – Sisters are frightened to find a Rocky Mountain town totally deserted, except for a few dead bodies; sheriff Affleck shows up to help, followed by scientist O’Toole. The answer is a mysterious underground monster from the beginning of time: intelligent, deadly, and amorphous. Not-bad thriller with good performances, astute use of locations, and some suspenseful scenes.  

(I often facetiously say SPOILER ALERT for mundane details provided by Leonard as a joke, but Jesus Leonard: SPOILER ALERT. How am I supposed to be suspended if I already know that the bad guy is an amorphous underground monster from the beginning of time? Come on!)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HynK3ZkjtcE

(I gotta say, the effects actually look OK from the short trailer. That would be a pleasant surprise. Best part though was Affleck delivering his line as if he’s the postmaster general… cause he’s mailing it in. Ay-o.)

Directors – Joe Chappelle – (BMT: Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers; Phantoms; Notes: Got his shot in film and didn’t work out. Now a TV director and producer of some pretty big and influential shows. Includes The Wire and currently Chicago Fire.)

Writers – Dean R. Koontz (novel & screenplay) – (Known For: Demon Seed; BMT: Phantoms; Hideaway; Notes: Horror author. Still active. Actually has a number of books adapted for film, but almost all had limited or no theatrical release.)

Actors – Peter O’Toole – (Known For: Troy; Stardust; Ratatouille; Lawrence of Arabia; The Last Emperor; The Lion in Winter; How to Steal a Million; Man of La Mancha; Venus; Lassie; FairyTale: A True Story; My Favorite Year; Becket; The Stunt Man; Zulu Dawn; Bright Young Things; The Ruling Class; Goodbye, Mr. Chips; Rosebud; Lord Jim; BMT: Supergirl; Caligula; Casino Royale; King Ralph; Phantoms; Club Paradise; High Spirits; What’s New Pussycat; One Night with the King; Notes:  Nominated for 8 acting Oscars, but never won one. Got an honorary Oscar in 2003. Died in 2013. Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1987 for Worst Supporting Actor for Club Paradise; Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1985 for Worst Actor for Supergirl)

Rose McGowan – (Known For: Scream; Death Proof; Grindhouse; Machete; Planet Terror; The Doom Generation; Class of 1999; Fifty Dead Men Walking; Going All the Way; BMT: Bio-Dome; Conan the Barbarian; Monkeybone; The Black Dahlia; Jawbreaker; Phantoms; Ready to Rumble; Encino Man; Notes: She was part of an Adam Sandler related BMTMZ regarding a casting note for The Do-Over. Love it.)

Also stars Joanna Going and Ben Affleck.

Budget/Gross – N/A / Domestic: $5,624,282

(Truly an unknown budget. Can’t find it anywhere other than some hints that it was a “low-budget” film. It better have been a super low-budget film cause this shit the bed. Opened at #9 in the box office. Not good.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 13% (4/30)

(Hard to comment on a film like this. Released just before RT became big. Looking around you can find a one-star review by Ebert that basically just derides it for being unoriginal. Although, again, he says the effects are pretty good. I’m starting to get excited for this.)

Poster – Spooky Sklog Ghosts (A-)

phantoms

(This does seem to be the official poster, although you more commonly see the DVD cover. I kinda dig it. Old fashioned. Stark light against a deep black background and organized well. I kinda wish the light was less dominated by white… more green. But it’s good.)

Tagline(s) – For centuries they told us the terror would come from above. We’ve been looking the wrong way. (C+)

(Centuries? Ha, not really. I like what they were going for and way they turn it around at the end is clever. But it’s too long and clunky to get a good grade. Just can’t do it.)

Keyword(s) – town; Top Ten by BMeTric: 47.7 Vehicle 19 (2013); 42.5 Mirror Mirror: The Untold Adventures of Snow White (2012); 38.7 Phantoms (1998); 34.6 The Bay (II) (2012); 32.0 Never Talk to Strangers (1995); 17.8 Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003); 17.7 The Philadelphia Experiment (1984); 16.6 Snow Beast (2011); 15.6 The Village (2004); 14.3 A Night in the Woods (2011);

(Ha, what the hell does this keyword even mean? Like … there is a town in the movie? Weird list with an almost unknown Paul Walker film up top. Also The Village, I suspect, has a village in the film, not quite a town, so also this list is bullshit. I liked Mirror Mirror as well, although that might just be compared to the atrocity that is Snow White and the Huntsman.)

Notes – An adaptation of Phantoms was originally set to be made in the late 1980s/early 1990s by New World Pictures & Allied Vision Entertainment but was shelved after New World filed for bankruptcy. (I bet that would have been an even worse film)

Categorically one of the chief cinematic influences for Konami’s original Silent Hill (1999) on the PS1 and to the series overall, along with Jacob’s Ladder (1990) and Session 9 (2001). (Ha)

Get Carter Recap

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Get Carter? More like Retched Art, Huh?! (Holy shit, that’s the worst I’ve done, bar none). Anywho, we went to crazy town and absorbed way too much information about this film. I’ll let Jamie cover the book, let’s get into a bit about the movie (and by extension its predecessor)!

  • The Good – I’m going to be honest, not much. Rourke worked for the character they were going for. With their tone choice (see below) I didn’t mind how they twisted the story to fit the tone so much. Jeez, yep.
  • The Bad – Sigh. It’s not like I loved the original, it was just an interestingly dark drama with one of the most profoundly detestable main characters you might see as your anti-hero of choice. This movie though softens it so much in favor of a lighter tone it kind of manages to destroy whatever it had going for it in adapting the source material a second time. Sly mumbles the entire time, it is way too flashy, the Alan Cumming character is nonsense. The entire thing leaves a sour taste in your mouth and isn’t even very interesting to boot because, to be honest, the lighter tone doesn’t work. Give me Sly as a drunk thug out for revenge, not some pinnacle of Family First nonsense we know and love from Fast and Furious. As I said, sigh. I might not be as jazzed as Jamie about it, but it really is rather detestable when you sit back and look at it.
  • The BMT – Yep, you could teach a master class on it. The only thing that doesn’t kick this up a notch to the legendary range is that Sly is at least somewhat competent. You put someone who is also just way out of his league in there and you got a stew going.

I’ll leave it there and close with a very abridged Audio Sklog-entary. This was yet another Director-only commentary with Stephen Key and I quit after thirty minutes. The only thing of remote interest is hearing Kay talk vaguely (although surprisingly frankly) about how intimidated he was by the project and by extension explaining a little of where things seemed to go a little wrong. But it is boring, filled with not-very-interesting factoids, technical nonsense (you can see at one point that they had to add a filler shot and so the gatekeeper transforms into an old man! Coooool), and no funny or interesting anecdotes. I stopped. I couldn’t do it. I have better things to listen to. F. An aggressive unyielding F. Although I’m willing to listen to someone if they tell me the last hour of the commentary is decent.

Jamie 

In many ways the Get Carter remake exemplifies the spirit of BMT. The film contains MonoSklogs, a prominent and specific setting (Seattle/Las Vegas), a horrifically bad side character (John C. McGinley), a horrifically bad bad guy (Alan Cumming), mirrors featured as metaphor (a la I Know Who Killed Me), Sly Stallone having a weird character quirk (OCD), Sly Stallone mumblemouth, randomly taking place during Christmas, dutch angles, Hollywood badass bars, Chekov’s guns (or in this case a Chekov’s cookie jar), etc. etc. etc. etc. All things that we have harped on over the years. Add on top of that the fact that there is waaaaaay too much source material to deal with (a book, two previous adaptations, and a commentary) and it’s like Hollywood asked us to make a film for BMT (although in our Get Carter adaptation John C. McGinley’s character is played by Chris Klein). If it was more fun in its badness it would probably be a BMTHoF candidate. As it stands it’s simply a case study. A film that would be taught in BMT lecture halls across the world, but just doesn’t go to the extreme in any one particular area to be pushed to the next level. Still fun to watch though.

As hinted above Get Carter was a masterpiece of source material. I read the book, watched the previous adaptation, and watched the new one and have to say: remarkable how similar they all are. The original film is ridiculously true to the book. Almost Pinocchio-esque. Most changes made were minor except for the final twist in the film which is more substantially changed (I’ll get to that later). The remake is much more divergent. They really softened everything up. To be true to the source Stallone’s character would have had to been an alcoholic rage monster that kills both men and women with no regard (which is exactly what Michael Caine is in the original film). Who can blame them for balking at that and instead making him an estranged uncle looking to forge a familial bond with his niece. So how do they all rank? Well you can kinda tell the quality by simply looking at how the ending twist was handled. Alright, so in all three cases the story ends with Carter confronting the man who killed his brother (Eddie in the book). In the book the main character is about to kill Eddie but lets his rage get the best of him. Eddie gains the upper hand, stabs Carter, and takes his gun (an antique rifle Carter and his brother bought as kids). When Eddie tries to shoot Carter it blows up in his face killing him instantly (remember it was an antique). Carter dies in the forest from the stab wound while still fulfilling his task of revenge. Great ending. Shocking and satisfying. Carter was an asshole, but you also wanted him to get revenge. Perfect. In the original film they weirdly chose to have Carter succeed in killing Eddie, only to be shot by a sniper sent by the mobsters a moment later. Really an odd choice. A tad too Deus Ex Machina for my taste. Not as satisfying for that reason. Finally in the remake the studio clearly didn’t want to kill Stallone so he kills his nemesis and then goes on the run, but not before imparting some valuable life lessons to his niece. Blech. So you see: book best, original film OK, remake terrible. Just have to look at that ending.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

 

Get Carter (2000) Preview

Since the inception of the Stallonian Calendar we’ve kind of been avoiding sweeping up the last of the Stallone films available to us. That’s because we need some in the arsenal for the rare Stallone Days ahead. However, it’s really quite rare for a film in the action genre to be adapted from a source. So it was a bit hard to avoid choosing the very best of the bunch (that happens to also star Stallone). Coincidentally it was also his 70th birthday last week, so we can chalk up our viewing of the Get Carter remake to a celebration of sorts. The film is based on the Ted Lewis crime noir Jack’s Return Home. The book was first adapted into 1971’s Get Carter starring Michael Caine, which has grown into a classic. The remake? Not as much. Pretty excited to read the book, watch the original film, watch the new film, maybe watch the other adaptation (1972’s Hit Man), and listen to the director’s commentary. Welcome to Crazytown (Population: 2). Let’s go!

Get Carter (2000) – BMeTric: 52.3

GetCarter_BMeT

GetCarter_RV

(Nothing very interesting here actually, pretty standard regression to the mean in the rating, twenty-five thousand votes seems normal, and the BMeTric plot is standard stuff. Disturbingly boring.)

Leonard Maltin – 2.5 stars –  Las Vegas enforcer goes home to Seattle to investigate his brother’s death and meets one sleazy character after another who may have been involved. Routine crime drama, enlivened by high-powered car chases but burdened by show-offy visual gimmicks. Remake of the far superior 1971 film that starred Caine, whose role here is thankless. Gretchen Mol appears unbilled.

(Look at those settings. Magnifique. How in the hell does a Get Carter remake have show-offy visuals. We can only hope that there is a talking dog or an animated sidekick, because I can’t for the life of me think why this film would need to show off any visuals. Just be a badass action film.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQg27CqCV_M

(I guess now I understand what show-offy visuals are… weird coloring and the occasional dutch angle. This also might have been the peak of Sly Stallone mumblemouth. Just listen to that delivery on the line, “I’m Jack, Richie’s brother.” A simple line made incomprehensible.)

Directors – Stephen Kay – (BMT: Boogeyman; Get Carter; Notes: Directs mostly television now. Married to Piper Perabo (Cheaper by the Dozen 1 & 2). Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2000 for Worst Screenplay for The Mod Squad)

Writers – Ted Lewis (novel) – (Known For: Get Carter; The Snake; BMT: Get Carter; Notes: British author. Started as an animation specialist even working on Yellow Submarine. His Jack Carter series started the noir school of British crime fiction.)

David McKenna (screenplay) – (Known For: American History X; Blow; S.W.A.T.; Bully; BMT: Get Carter; Body Shots; Notes: Had 6 feature films made in 6 years following his break-out American History X. Used the pen name Zachary Long for Bully because he was unhappy with the finished product.)

Actors – Sylvester Stallone – (Known For: Creed; Rocky; The Expendables 2; The Expendables; Escape Plan; First Blood; Rocky Balboa; Bullet to the Head; Demolition Man; Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over; Rocky III; Antz; Rocky II; Victory; Cop Land; Cliffhanger; BMT: Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot; Driven; Rocky V; Staying Alive; Zookeeper; Get Carter; Judge Dredd; The Specialist; Rhinestone; Eye See You; Cobra; Rambo III; Over the Top; An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn; Avenging Angelo; Daylight; The Expendables 3; Reach Me; Tango & Cash; Assassins; Rambo: First Blood Part II; Lock Up; Grudge Match; Oscar; Notes: There is literally nothing I can say to emphasize how important Sly is to BMT. We named the yearly cycle the Stallonian Calendar for God’s sake.)

Razzie Cred for Stallone: Won – 2000 for Worst Actor of the Century; 1990 for Worst Actor of the Decade; 2004 for Worst Supporting Actor for Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over; 1995 for Worst Screen Couple for The Specialist; 1993 for Worst Actor for Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot; 1989 for Worst Actor for Rambo III; 1986 for Worst Actor, Worst Screenplay for Rambo: First Blood Part II; 1986 for Worst Director, Worst Actor for Rocky IV; 1985 for Worst Actor for Rhinestone; Nominated – 2014 for Worst Actor for Bullet to the Head, Escape Plan, and Grudge Match; 2011 for Worst Director for The Expendables; 2002 for Worst Screenplay, Worst Supporting Actor, Worst Screen Couple for Driven; 2001 for Worst Actor for Get Carter; 1999 for Worst Supporting Actor for An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn; 1997 for Worst Actor for Daylight; 1996 for Worst Actor for Assassins, and Judge Dredd; 1995 for Worst Actor for The Specialist; 1994 for Worst Screenplay for Cliffhanger, and Michael France; 1992 for Worst Actor for Oscar; 1991 for Worst Actor, Worst Screenplay for Rocky V; 1990 for Worst Actor for Lock Up, and Tango & Cash; 1989 for Worst Screenplay for Rambo III; 1988 for Worst Actor for Over the Top; 1987 for Worst Actor, Worst Screenplay for Cobra; 1986 for Worst Screenplay for Rocky IV; 1985 for Worst Screenplay for Rhinestone, and Phil Alden Robinson)

Also stars Rachael Leigh Cook (Texas Rangers) and Miranda Richardson (The Prince and Me).

Budget/Gross – $63.6 million / Domestic: $14,967,182 (Worldwide: $19,412,993)

(What in the fuck happened here? This is a trainwreck. This is even worse than Driven, which was released around the same time. Stallone’s worst major motion picture release until the recent Bullet to the Head (god I hate that film).)

#22 for the Action Remake genre

actionremake_22

(I. Love. Remake. Plots. The waves …. The waves! This is yet again one of those coming in at a downswing. It also looks like we are on a little downswing ourselves these days. The last three big ones were Red Dawn, Robocop, and Point Break. Oooooof. Yeah, we should probably let this genre breath for a bit boys.)

#59 for the Crime Time genre – Dramas or thrillers centered on the criminals and the world of crime.

crime_59

(Ha, holy shit. First, the steady incline through the 10’s is interesting. My theory? It is actually just a really consistent genre and the number of total theaters (either in total or reported by boxofficemojo) is just generally going up. And then, BOOM, the genre explodes and then reverts right back to pre-2010 levels again. Looking through the last five years they do seem to be very rarely very successful, so it was probably people getting all excited about The Departed, The Town, and American Gangster coming out post 2005. Get Carter came at kind of a nadir there.)

#52 for the Revenge genre

revenge_52

(A rare one where the movie we look at predates the boom. And a boom that is still ongoing, this plot doesn’t include the hugely successful Deadpool from this year. The undesirable lead has been pretty big on tv recently (Breaking Bad, Fargo, etc.) and I would guess this plot kind of reflects that same growth since the early 2000s. A movie focused on revenge will typically have pretty dark elements to the leads I would guess.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 12% (7/60): A remake that doesn’t approach the standard of the original, Get Carter will likely leave viewers confused and unsatisfied. Also, reviews are mixed concerning Stallone’s acting.

(How… strange. This consensus must harken back to the days where RT actually tried to sum up reviewers’ feelings rather than just make a witty pun. That last tacked on part about Stallone’s acting is something I don’t recall ever seeing before.)

Poster – Get Skloger (B-)

get_carter

(Not a huge fan of the black and white poster because I don’t like posters that are mostly white. I do like the white font. That’s artistic. And I like how Stallone is artistically modified as well. Can’t totally blame them for the black and white either because there is an outside chance this is based on some of the original Get Carter art. Gonna give is a mediocre B-. Nothing special, but some good things too.)

Tagline(s) – The Truth Hurts (B-)

(I understand what they’re going for here. Stallone is going to hurt you and I guess he’s the truth (?). I just don’t think it’s particularly original (a lot of movies could use it) and doesn’t hint at the story enough (in fact it might be a bit misleading). Still pretty good as a whole once you think through it.)

Keyword(s) – enforcer; Top Ten by BMeTric: 52.3 Get Carter (2000); 25.4 The Package (I) (2013); 25.3 Mercenary: Absolution (IV) (2015); 21.4 Hummingbird (I) (2013); 19.9 Repo Men (2010); 18.1 Predators (2010); 15.0 Savages (2012); 11.8 B. Monkey (1998); 10.9 Interview with a Hitman (2012); 10.4 New Jack City (1991);

(What is this list. I’m starting to regret adding this keyword thing because this one is just weird. Honestly Get Carter is the only enforcer movie we would ever consider for BMT apparently. What a weird keyword IMDb)

Notes – Franchise Pictures was reluctant to cast Mickey Rourke in light of his troubled past as a Hollywood bad boy. Friend Sylvester Stallone, who put Rourke up for the role, guaranteed a portion of his salary so if Rourke did cause any delays or problems, the production would be covered. Rourke turned up every day on time and was a complete professional. His work impressed Franchise enough that they hired him shortly after for their next film The Pledge.

When Doreen asks Carter why he went away for so long, Carter responds, “That’s a long story.” Doreen replies, “It’s a long ride back.” These lines were also spoken in Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) when John Rambo is speaking with his Vietnamese insider.

The original screenplay Stallone signed on for was much more violent and focused more on the “revenge” element.

Director Stephen Kay clashed with Franchise Pictures, the financier, over the tone of the film. Kay wanted the film to be more of an “anti-revenge” film, while Franchise wanted a more traditional Stallone action picture. (Ha. Odd, but I agree with the studio here)

There were plans to do a sequel which never materialized.

Awards – Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Sylvester Stallone)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Remake or Sequel

Pinocchio (2002) Recap

Jamie

Easily the most interesting thing about Roberto Benigni’s Pinocchio is just how true an adaptation it is from the original tale. Watchmen ain’t got shit on this. Perhaps only Gus Van Sant’s Psycho can surpass it. It’s almost a scene-for-scene, line-for-line transcription of story to screen (with some scenes excluded for time). The only thing explicitly changed is a random expansion of the Candlewick character (called Leonardo here). Benigni seemed to go out of his way to include him in as many scenes as possible. Why only change that one aspect? Hard to explain. Anyway, this is probably why many reviewers of the film regarded it as so bizarre. They chalk it up to misguided vanity that Benigni would prance around on screen spouting macabre nonsense, perhaps not realizing (or deciding to not acknowledge) that the nonsense was just the original story. It would be like if a Cinderella adaptation was made where in the end birds fly down and poke out the eyes of the evil stepsisters striking them blind for the rest of their wretched lives. Or a Snow White adaptation where the evil queen has to dance in burning hot iron shoes until she dies. American reviewers would be like “WTF, mate! This is a children’s film!” Benigni simply made the most accurate adaptation of a book that we may have ever witnessed and it probably flew over a lot of people’s heads. The real story just isn’t particularly well known here. Does that mean it’s actually good? Ha! Oh deary me, no.

Do I dare do a Settings 101 for Pinocchio? Seems so obviously Italy. Although the fact of the matter is that I can’t remember if they actually say that it’s set in Italy. It obviously is, but treats it as a given. You almost have to give it a D, just for leaving it implicit. Instead I think I’ll just make a SklogCycle for the film. Don’t know what that is? Neither does anyone else cause I just made it up. Inspired by the ridiculous(ly awful) voice cast of Pinocchio, I’m going to make up a BMT cycle featuring stars of that cast. It would be called Pi-NOPE-io cause Patrick nailed it. Let’s see:

  • Scattergories (Calendar): The Country Bears (features Queen Latifah who voiced The Dove)
  • Comedy: Underdog (features Jim Belushi who voiced Farmer George)
  • Action: The Mod Squad (features Eddie Griffin who voiced The Cat)
  • Horror/Thriller: Mary Reilly (features Glenn Close who voiced The Blue Fairy)
  • Rom Com: Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous (features Regis Philbin who voiced Ringmaster)
  • Chain Reaction: The Out-of-Towners (features John Cleese who voiced Talking Cricket)
  • Sci-Fi: Delgo (features Eric Idle who voiced Medoro)
  • Razzie: Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties (features Breckin Meyer who voiced Pinocchio)
  • Scattergories (Based-on-a-book): Christmas with the Kranks (features Cheech Marin who voiced The Fox)

This cycle would physically harm me. The Country Bears, Underdog, Delgo, Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties, and Christmas with the Kranks all in one cycle? No thanks. Pretty impressive though as I even got a Chain Reaction coming from Cheaper by the Dozen 2 and two transition points, which means this cycle could have legitimately been inserted between the Calendar and Based-on-a-book cycles. Boom. Don’t worry about it.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Pinocchio? More like Pi-NOPE-io!!!! Benigni is out of his mind, let’s get into it:

  • The Good – It is a beautiful movie. The acting, given that it is an Italian film (by which I mean, there is clearly a different style of comedic acting in Italy, far more slapstick, which you can see in other Benigni films), is rather good. It is an incredibly bold accurate retelling of a children’s tale from 1885 …
  • The Bad – Yeah, so anyone familiar with Grimm’s Fairy Tales might know that the original tales are rather, hmmm how do you say? Bonkers insane terrifying nightmare fuel? This is no different. At one point the Blue Fairy fakes her own death and effectively makes a tombstone that says “Fuck you Pinocchio, you did this!!” and he flips out only for her to be like “haha, you passed the test! Hooray!” At another point she has creepy rabbits with a coffin come in to convince Pinocchio he is dying so he’ll drink medicine. At the end of the movie he is essentially working himself to death because he “learned his lesson” about being a good boy. It is ridiculous.
  • The BMT – … I am very much glad we did this movie for BMT. It is super weird, but at the same time it makes you say “why did someone at Miramax think this would sell again?”. The Brekin Meyer voiceover is bar-none the worst voiceover in movie history. I am not at all shocked that zero people could psych themselves into saying “you know what? There is more good than bad here”. But yet it is an interesting and beautiful movie nonetheless. It is wild and weird and bad and I would totally watch it again with someone game to see a wild and weird and bad film. So there.

Phew. I’m going to cut it a bit short to announce a new project from BMTHQ. It was five years since our first BMT last February and that got me thinking about how much I’ve learned about bad movies in those years and also just how different our approach to watching bad movies is now than then. So in order to take advantage of this wealth of knowledge we have decided to introduce the Bad Movie Twins Hall of Fame (BMTHoF). Last week we voted our first class with the stipulation that it must have been over five years since we saw the movie (so if you look at the archive anything from before Norbit on June 30, 2011. In the coming months we will be producing induction speeches for each of the five movies we voted in and (and this is depressing) at least one of us will be re-watching each film. Oof. How do we find the time (it is hard, our lives are hard, pity us). Without further ado the first BMTHoF class is:

Old Dogs, Battlefield Earth, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li, Wicker Man, and Norbit.

I know that I for one am especially excited for watching Old Dogs and Norbit (still the most unpleasant movie I have ever seen) again. And Jamie is going to demolish the 1000 page book for Battlefield Earth. And when it is done a de novo preview and recap will be created for the Archives! Truly exciting times at BMTHQ.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

 

Pinocchio (2002) Preview

This week we move fully into the Now a Major Motion Picture cycle with the comedy entry. Since I’m required by BMT law to read each book that the film is based on, I requested that we do something real short for this entry just to make sure I don’t fall behind right off the bat. This worked out wonderfully as one of the worst reviewed films of all time just happens to be based on a 150 page children’s book. That’s right, we are watching Roberto Benigni’s much reviled adaptation of Pinocchio! Did I say that Basic Instinct 2 was a vanity project? We ain’t seen nothing yet. Let’s go!

Pinocchio (2002) – BMeTric: 47.1

Pinocchio_BMeT

Pinocchio_RV

(This is another super weird rating plot! It goes down and then completely recovers over years. It doesn’t make sense. Typically for a kids movie I would say this might be the youth factor, the fanbase of a shitty movie coming of age and using nostalgia to rate things. But what kind of weirdo kid was watching Pinocchio starring Roberto Benigni? No one. It is impossible. There has to be a weird “it was a hit in Italy” thing going on. It has to be foreign audience power.)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars –  A carved wooden puppet comes to life as a mischievous boy who can’t resist temptation of any kind. Benigni’s interpretation of the beloved 1885 story by Carlo Collodi emerges as a test of one’s tolerance for the bombastic comic actor. This was a big hit in Italy … but then, so was Mussolini. U.S. Version was cut to 100 m. and dubbed with Breckin Meyer (as Benigni) and a host of stars.

(Goddamn Leonard that film had a family! Let’s all revel in Leonard’s need to invoke Italy’s fascist past in order to deliver an adequate burn for this travesty of a movie. This was well known at the time as a disastrous American dubbing as well and somewhat inexplicable if not for Benigni’s Academy Award a few years prior.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnyD71SK-wk

(Well that’s unfortunate. Notice that they do not let anyone talk in the trailer other than to say the word “Pinocchio!” Didn’t want to reveal that it was foreign in hopes to attract more people. Didn’t work. From the trailer it also looks a bit like those Israeli live-action fairy tales we used to watch as a kid. The Frog Prince used to freak me out. Giant scary frog. But I loved them. So maybe I’ll love this.)

Directors – Roberto Benigni – (Known For: Life Is Beautiful; The Monster; Johnny Stecchino; The Tiger and the Snow; BMT: Pinocchio; Notes: Nominated for Best Director Oscar for Life is Beautiful. Although he only sporadically works in film now he is still beloved in Italy and very active in the political scene there.)

Benigni Razzie Notes: Won the Razzie Award in 2003 for Worst Actor for Pinocchio with Breckin Meyer; Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2003 for Worst Screen Couple with Nicoletta Braschi, Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay for Pinocchio with Vincenzo Cerami; Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1994 for Worst New Star for Son of the Pink Panther

Writers – Roberto Benigni (screenplay) – (Known For: Life Is Beautiful; The Monster; Johnny Stecchino; The Tiger and the Snow; BMT: Pinocchio; Notes: Nominated for Best Screenplay Oscar for Life is Beautiful. Also a poet and songwriter.)

Vincenzo Cerami (screenplay) – (Known For: Life Is Beautiful; The Monster; Johnny Stecchino; The Tiger and the Snow; BMT: Pinocchio; Notes: Longtime writer and assistant director collaborator with Benigni. Died in 2013 after a long illness. Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2003 for Worst Screenplay for Pinocchio with Roberto Benigni)

Carlo Collodi (novel) – (Known For: Pinocchio (1940); BMT: Pinocchio (2002); The Adventures of Pinocchio Notes: Wrote the original story as a serial in the 1800s. Apparently, the original ending to the tale was that Pinocchio was such a bad puppet that he hangs himself in despair. Solid.)

Brendan Donnison (English adaptation) – (BMT: Pinocchio; Notes: Super weird. This guy is primarily a casting director for ADR and voice work. In fact has a company Lyps Inc. based in the UK that is a major player in the ADR voice casting game. Makes one wonder how he is the only english adaptation credit for the film… particularly since he has no other writing credits.)

Actors – Roberto Benigni – (Known For: Life Is Beautiful; To Rome with Love; Night on Earth; Coffee and Cigarettes; Down by Law; Luna; The Monster; Johnny Stecchino; BMT: Pinocchio; Son of the Pink Panther; Notes: Won the Best Actor Oscar for Life is Beautiful. Had a brief moment of fame in American film in the early 90s ending with Son of the Pink Panther.)

Also starring Nicoletta Braschi his costar in Life is Beautiful (and real life wife)

Budget/Gross – €40 million / Domestic: $3,684,305 (Worldwide: $41,323,171)

(An absolute travesty of a US release. Still 150th on the worst openings for a 600+ theater release (it opened at #19!), but obviously earned enough in Italy to break even (probably). The rumor is that it was well received in Italy and that a lot of the negative reaction here in the US was due to odd and off-putting voiceover choices. Sounds like it may have come down with a serious case of the Doogals.)

#13 for the Toys Come to Life genre

toys_13

(Normally I wouldn’t show this, but … what is this genre? Turns out it is Chucky movies, the Toy Story series, Pinocchio adaptations, and, of course, the classic smash hit Small Soldiers. We’ll just forget about Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. There is obviously no trends in the all-important toy’s coming to life genre.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 0% (0/55): Roberto Benigni misfires wildly with this adaptation of Pinocchio, and the result is an unfunny, poorly-made, creepy vanity project.

(Yuuuuuup you are reading this right. This is an extremely rare 0% on RT. To name some of the BMT films with 0%: A Thousand Words, Bucky Larson Born to be a Star, The Ridiculous 6, Mac and Me, Highlander II The Quickening, and American Anthem. And guess what? Pinocchio has more actual reviews than any of them! It really is incredible.)

Poster – Sklognocchio (B+)

pinocchio

(This seems to be the primary poster. I like the base color and creativity used in both the image and the title font. Kinda striking and beautiful in its simplicity. And he can get away with it due to the popularity of the source material. Needs a tagline and almost too simple to be interesting, but doesn’t assault the senses.)

Tagline(s) – None! (F)

(Unacceptable.)

Keywords – fairy; Top Ten by BMeTric: 80.7 Movie 43 (2013); 56.1 Tooth Fairy (I) (2010); 47.8 Troll (1986); 47.1 Pinocchio (2002); 32.6 Pan (2015); 29.0 Arthur and the Great Adventure (2009); 27.5 Snow White and the Huntsman (2012); 27.2 Spanish Movie (2009); 27.1 Get Over It (2001); 25.9 Return to Never Land (2002);

(Interesting list. I still need to see Pan (not BMT unfortunately). Besides that the only for sure BMT film I think would be Get Over It which looks like an absolute travesty. I need to watch that film.)

Notes – This was the most expensive production in Italian film history, with a budget of about $45 million.

This is the first film in a non-English language to be nominated for Worst Picture at the Razzie Awards.

Roberto Benigni originally conceived this project as a collaboration, with Federico Fellini directing it. When Fellini died, Benigni became its director. (wow)

Awards – Won the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Roberto Benigni, Breckin Meyer)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Picture

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Screen Couple (Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Director (Roberto Benigni)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Remake or Sequel

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (Vincenzo Cerami, Roberto Benigni)

Fair Game Recap

Jamie

Fair Game, God damn! I love when we have a plethora of media to work our way through. I, of course, read the book that this (and the Sly Stallone masterpiece Cobra) was based on, A Running Duck by Paula Gosling. It’s a dime store thriller that was only available to me by ordering it in large-print edition (for the visually impaired) from a Wisconsin library. If there was ever anything that made me question everything that BMT stands for, it’s imagining a little old lady in Wisconsin working her arthritic fingers to the bone trying to find the only copy of A Running Duck that exists in the MN/WI area. She probably thought some other near-blind little old lady in MN wanted a thrill ride for the ages, but nope. Just me. Anyway, the book is nothing really to write home about. A standard thriller and honestly a bit boring. Someone wants to kill a woman, a Vietnam vet-turned-cop troubled by his violent past is set to protect her, they bone, he kills the bad guy. The only interesting thing to talk about with it is the odd similarities that exist between a book like this and current bestsellers like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey. Throughout the book I was hit over the head with dominance/submission overtones. The male protagonist frets constantly over the safety of the female protagonist (who always seems to be defenseless and in a daze). Much like Twilight there is a powerful force out to get the female character and eventually the male character takes over her entire life to battle this force. There is a lot of talk of “doing as I say” and “learning to obey commands” with the idea that the female character will in the end be safer. And she of course realizes that this type of relationship is what she has been missing in her life and falls in love with him. You could have really replaced the characters in the book with Bella and Edward, and the assassin with a rival vampire and you would have basically had Twilight. Certainly interesting to think about.

As for the adaptation, to truly get a full picture of it I rewatched Cobra. This turned out to be a good thing because it helped realize that both adaptations are actually pretty good. They take key aspects of the plot of the book, but twist them in slightly different directions. They are neither too close or too far from the source material. In fact they are almost complements of each other, things that are changed in Cobra are often the same as in the book in Fair Game and vice versa. I think Cobra is the slightly better adaptation, because a lot of the changes for Fair Game were pretty silly and lame (the bad guys are now Russian hackers plotting a heist, random setting of Miami, Billy Baldwin is not a particularly good cop, etc.) while Cobra kept a lot of the cool shit. This by no means implies that Cobra or Fair Game are good films. They are not. They are both ridiculous.

Word up. Once again I’m going to go with the Settings 101 game that I love so much. Right away in Fair Game we get a clear idea of the city and state that we are dealing with. That’s because whenever there are cops involved in a film you can’t just make up a police department. Billy Baldwin has to be from the Miami PD. Perfecto. What takes this up to the B grade is the fact that the bad guys spend most of their time (life?) on La Tortuga, a boat that located off the coast of Miami. How do we know where it is? Because the film continually shows a map depicting exactly where in the ocean they are floating. Wonderful. Of course, Miami itself doesn’t really get to shine all that much in the end, so it can’t really make it up to A-level. In fact I honestly can’t really think of famous Miami landmarks. Are there any? I guess they would have had to set up a sting at a Marlins game or something (a la Abduction). Anyway, just for kicks we can also give Cobra a C+ or B-. It also clearly takes place in Los Angeles with the LAPD… but that’s all it really has. Kind of the bare minimum with a clear setting without resorting to license plates.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Fair Game?! More like Fairly Lame! Kind of true. This was a weird one, let’s get into it:

  • The Good  – The movie was pretty much composed of non-stop adrenaline-fueled in-your-face action, if that’s your thing. The actions scenes were also often quite impressive from a technical perspective (even if they were often ludicrous). The movie is more of a movie than I expected, but …
  • The Bad – The movie still felt like it was barely theatrical released. Basically Billy Baldwin was all that stood in the way of this being Firestorm starring Howie Long, and it was about two levels below the other A Running Duck adaptation Cobra in quality. Cindy Crawford was genuinely terrible and there is no excuse really. Selma Hayek’s character makes no sense.
  • The BMT – Yes. More so that Firestorm. 40-50 I think. Quality stuff, but again, not as much of a “real movie”™ as one would hope. Would I watch it again? Yeah, maybe. I could imagine it fitting in quite well with a Seagal / Van Damme / Baldwin trilogy bonanza. Like … On Deadly Ground / Timecop / Fair Game would make you question everything you’ve done with your life.

I’m going to keep this a bit short, so let’s think of a quick game. I’m feeling Sequel / Prequel / Remake and especially a sequel. Imagine an older Billy Baldwin and older Cindy Crawford running around like idiots pretending like any of this still makes sense? It would be truly glorious. I would even still make the bad guys Russian and the theme of the movie would still be heavily focused on the neo-Luddite ideals of technology allowing criminals to control the world. I would call it Fair Shake and could make it on a dime Netflix.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

 

Fair Game Preview

We are finishing up our first BMT Calendar cycle and boy what a success it was! The Calendar in a way represents the worst of the worst, so every week we had some gangbuster film on tap. Don’t be fooled though, the Calendar also hides days of the year where no truly spectacular critical flop ever was released. So like the mapl.de.map that came before it, the calendar will eventually descend into sadness and disarray (hooray). But we don’t live for the future. We live for the now! And now we are officially transitioning to my favorite cycle that we’ve done. It’s time for another Now a Major Motion Picture cycle! In this cycle all the films have to be based on a book (which I will also read cause I’m insane). We start off with the classic Fair Game starring Cindy Crawford and William Baldwin. It’s based on a small dime store thriller released in Britain as A Running Duck, which was released in the US under the title Fair Game, was adapted into the Sly Stallone BMT film Cobra, rereleased in the US under the title A Running Duck (Now Filmed as Cobra), adapted into Fair Game, and released under the title Fair Game. It was an absolute terror to find through my local public library, but that’s a story for next time. For now, let’s go!

Fair Game (1995) – BMeTric: 56.1

FairGame_BMeT

FairGame_RV

(Only somewhat interesting for the fact that its rating over the last 10 years went down a bit and then up. Just a somewhat abnormal trend. Kind of crazy this movie I would have literally never heard of if not for BMT (and a movie we might not have done if not for book cycles being such a smash hit) has a 50+ BMeTric. The pull of Crawford in a rare acting role must elevate it beyond its expectations.)

Leonard Maltin – BOMB –  Totally pre-fab action thriller that almost looks as if producer Joel Silver is trying to satirize himself. Miami lawyer Crawford survives the requisite amount of firepower and fireballs during her pursuit by former KGB operatives. Baldwin is the cop trying to keep them both alive. Arguably the worst movie of 1995. In her acting debut, supermodel Crawford makes a good jogger.

(Acting debut!? Loving it! A very rare BOMB from Maltin, although his review is hardly scathing. The worst he says is what? That it is a pre-fab action thriller? People basically satirizing themselves is a new theme for BMT. I’m looking at you Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct 2)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YC3npzqwXcs

(That is a perfect BMT trailer. We have Billy Baldwin in his heyday looking sweet, whatever it is Cindy Crawford is doing and calling it acting, a mustachioed Shooter McGavin, explosions, more explosions, and even more explosions. Woooooo! Let’s do this! I’m excited! The night’s still young! Woooooo!)

Directors – Andrew Sipes – (BMT: Fair Game; Notes: One and done! One and done! A sparsely cited television writer prior to his break. He quit Hollywood in 1997 and is now a tech entrepreneur having founded eCasablanca, MyPermitting, OurHistree, and Our Stay. The latter two companies are certainly still functioning.)

Writers – Paula Gosling (novel) – (BMT: Fair Game; Cobra; Notes: Hilariously based on the same single book A Running Duck. And after both films they re-released the book under difference titles Otherwise a very successful crime novelist. )

Charlie Fletcher (screenplay) – (BMT: Fair Game; Mean Machine; Notes: Okay this guy’s filmography is amazing. He wrote Mean Machine in 2001 which is described as “A soccer star jailed for assault leads a group of inmates in a match against prison guards.” … That’s the plot of The Longest Yard with soccer (and it is literally described as an adaptation of The Longest Yard on wikipedia!). He is now best known for writing the YA trilogy Stoneheart)

Actors – William Baldwin – (Known For: Forgetting Sarah Marshall; Flatliners; Born on the Fourth of July; Backdraft; The Squid and the Whale; Internal Affairs; Bulworth; Aftermath; Noise; Three of Hearts; Adrift in Manhattan; BMT: Virus; Fair Game; Sliver; Notes:  Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1996 for Worst Screen Couple for Fair Game; Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1994 for Worst Actor for Sliver. Shockingly low number of BMT films in his filmography, although he has been mostly VOD/Direct-to-DVD for a long while.)

Cindy Crawford – (BMT: Fair Game; 54; The Simian Line; Notes:  Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1996 for Worst Actress, Worst Screen Couple, and Worst New Star for Fair Game. One of the most famous supermodels in history, also famous for the Pepsi Superbowl commercial in 1992 and was the wife of Richard Gere for a few years. Valedictorian of her high school class she got a scholarship to study Chemical Engineering (what what) at Northwestern, but dropped out to pursue modelling after one quarter.)

Budget/Gross – $50 million (estimated) / Domestic: $11,534,477

(Oooooof. We’ve been on quite the streak of box office bombs. That could explain a bit the popularity of this film relative to my expectations. People love a good box-office bomb. The bombs of the 80s and 90s particularly can be somewhat legendary for sinking studios (who couldn’t absorb failures as well as they can today seemingly). Cutthroat Island (which we still need to watch) comes to mind, which sunk Carolco pictures. Coincidentally Basic Instinct was also made by Carolco.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 13% (3/24) No consensus, so bonus Ebert review snippet: Works as a thriller for anyone who lives entirely in the present. Those with longer memories will find the film grows increasingly funny as it rolls along.

(What Ebert is tactfully trying to say with the line, “Works as a thriller for anyone who lives entirely in the present,” is that it works for dumb people… you might like it if you’re dumb. If you are not dumb though you will merely find it funny… because of how dumb it is.)

Poster – Sklog Game (D)

fair_game

(Nope, I do not like this. I don’t like when people (and all their mish-mash of colors) are the focus of a poster, the font here is not interesting or unique, and the tagline is hilariously long. I guess it has OK blocking… or something.)

Tagline(s) – He’s a cop on the edge. She’s a woman with a dangerous secret. They’ve been targeted by the Russian Mob, and now they’re both… (D)

(Fair Game… to finish the tagline for you. Way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way too long, but doesn’t get an F because I didn’t feel like giving it an F. So there.)

Keywords – russian top 10 BMeTric examples: 82.5 Street Fighter (1994), 78.0 Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987), 57.8 Tekken (2010), 57.5 Virus (1999), 57.1 A Good Day to Die Hard (2013), 56.1 Fair Game (1995), 52.7 Jupiter Ascending (2015), 51.7 The Transporter Refueled (2015), 49.1 Alex Rider: Stormbreaker (2006), 49.1 Red Dawn (2012)

(The Pacifier and Mortdecai were also close to cracking this sweet top ten. This will be our fifth seen in the top ten, and Superman 4 and Virus in particular will definitely be on the docket in future BMTs. I have no idea what actually makes any of these things “russian”. Like … I guess Zangief makes Street Fighter get the “Russian” keyword?)

Awards – Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Actress (Cindy Crawford)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Screen Couple (William Baldwin, Cindy Crawford)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst New Star (Cindy Crawford)

Notes – The Paula Gosling novel the movie is based on was previously the basis for the 1986 movie Cobra (1986) with Sylvester Stallone.

Julianne Moore and Geena Davis were originally considered for the role of Kate McQueen.

Brooke Shields and Drew Barrymore were each offered the role of Kate McQueen, but both turned down the part.

Originally set in San Francisco, changed to Miami to suit Sylvester Stallone, who subsequently left the project. (Ha, no fucking way. Was Sylvester Stallone attached to both adaptations of the book A Running Duck?! I want to live in that universe please)

Salma Hayek only took her part in the film after insisting that she rewrite it (good idea!)