Lost & Found Recap

Jamie

Dylan Ramsey’s love life is a total mess at the exact moment that a stunningly beautiful, professional cello player moves in next door. Realizing he’s in love he does anything to win her affection, including steal her dog so they can search for it together. Can he… give the dog back to her, I guess (and perhaps get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… Lost & Found.

How?! Act I: Dylan Ramsey is a restaurateur extraordinaire in need of THE BIG LOAN, but his love life is a disaster. Just then he meets his new neighbor, Lila, and immediately knows this smart, super attractive, talented woman is perfect for him: a self-confident loser. If only she also had the self-confidence to realize it! Luckily the power of positivity is destined to bring them together. Or is it? Bum bum bum. That’s because Lila’s scummy ex-boyfriend, Rene, who totally cheated on her and didn’t foster her self-confidence, is in town. Uh oh! What’s a boy to do? You know, other than never go to work and steal Lila’s dog so that she all day searching for it with you. And so his life as a dognapper is born. Act II: The whole middle of the film is mostly him making snide remarks to Rene and lamenting having to spend a bunch of time with a lame dog that totally ate his best friend’s anniversary ring that he conveniently had to hold onto (that’s just good writing). Act III: Things come to a head at the big party Dylan’s restaurant is holding to try to secure THE BIG LOAN. Coincidentally Lila is also there so that she can speak to the head of the philharmonic to try to get a job. There’s a scene where Dylan sings Neil Diamond and totally gets THE BIG LOAN, but at the same time Lila finds out that he has her dog. Oh no! After a while of moping around Dylan finds that Lila actually forgives him for his transgressions and takes him back and they smooch a whole bunch. THE END. The film hinges on a regressive “low self-esteem woman needs the right man to fulfill her promise” plot with Dylan espousing the self-help stylings of The Secret. Dylan’s advice is to dream big, have confidence, and good things will happen. So the big question: Did Dylan imagine Lila into existence through the power of positive thinking?

Why?! Love, duh… at least as far as the “romantic” storyline goes. He’s smitten with Lila and all the insane things he does is tied up in that. She actually doesn’t seem as interested in love at the moment. She’s fresh out of a toxic relationship and just trying to find work in a new country (we could analyze exactly what kind of visa she has all day but I’ll spare you). Then there is the background business loan that Dylan needs to expand his successful (?) restaurant… but I choose to ignore that. Oh and a minor B-plot MacGuffin Alert as Dylan really needs to find the engagement ring he’s been tasked to keep safe… but no one else cares about that.

Who?! Movie Within A Movie Alert! Another rare type here as portions of a fake movie about a kid who has to shoot his own dog were shot for the film. The kid? Frankie Muniz. Speaking of dogs, I also appreciate when the canine actor is given an actual credit in the film. In this case Jack was played by Cody. Good dog.

What?! There are a number of small product placements, including an extended shot of a Victoria’s Secret catalogue and the forced consumption of Pepto-Bismol by a dog. I do love when there is something in there that is so small you can’t even think of how or why it would be product placement. Like there is a moment when a character is drinking conspicuously from an Orange Julius cup… did Orange Julius pay for that? If yes, why?

Where?! This is obviously set in California. From the beautiful vistas to the California license plates to the Dodgers paraphernalia. If that was it, I think I’d land this at C+/B- territory. However, there are two scenes set explicitly in the Hollywood Bowl… which means this probably jumps all the way up to an A-.  

When?! Because I’m insane, I went back through the film and made sure we couldn’t get an exact date. The closest we get is the Victoria’s Secret catalogue that Dylan gets in the mail. Clearly says Spring ‘98 on the cover and he’s getting the new issue so it is a rough estimate. Too bad I couldn’t find when those magazines were released more precisely. D+

Anyway, overall the film is pretty lightweight all-around and is particularly embarrassing at the end when Dylan secures the big loan from Martin Sheen by dressing up and singing a Neil Diamond song. I shudder even thinking about it. As for the Friend we brought, Soultaker starring Joe Estevez was a pretty enjoyable film to watch. It plot is thin, but the acting and writing are off the hook. The main actor in particular is just so weird it’s almost like meta-acting. Almost like he looked at the role and decided to play the type of actor that would take such a role instead of the role itself. The ending is nonsense too. Not bad in my opinion. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! I was lost, but now … I am found. All it took was a meandering story about a vulgar restauranteur with a heart of gold. Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – I would have thought this film on first blush was a Happy Madison joint. In reality it seemed like a weird Spade vehicle that might have started as a Spade/Farley buddy comedy that was retrofitted after Farley’s death. Late 90s Something About Mary clones are maybe a blind spot for me, so that was probably the most interesting bit. What are my expectations? I would just be happy if there is enough gay panic, gross humor, and racial stereotypes to remind be that “yup, this is what comedies used to be like”. It was a wildly different time.

The Good – I genuinely liked Spade and how they made a big part of the film the idea that he needs to get this woman to know him because he comes across as a jerk. This is something that gets glossed over elsewhere: the sarcastic schlubby guy needs to have a sweet and funny side to make the mutual attraction at the center of the film make sense. I had one good chuckle which, again, is above average. We’ll get to the intricacies of the plot in the next section, but it is a surprisingly coherent plot given together it has to hold about five different threads together (main romantic storyline, restaurant needs a loan, Spade needs to hold his friend’s ring, French ex-beau in town, Spade’s employee is obsessed with him).

The Bad – Oh boy, the gay panic, child rape jokes, a hard f-bomb. It was a wild time indeed. The storyline is one of the best examples of the “plot cloud” I’ve ever seen. And little of it makes much sense … like, why is this bank allowing this restaurant to cater an event as part of a loan application (I know I know, Spade did it at cost, but why would Martin Sheen give a shit?)? Why does Sheen basically say loans aren’t based on money … and then turns around and gives the loan after Spade lip-syncs some Neil Diamond?! None of it makes sense. And finally, while it is clear the bad guy is a bad guy because he cheated on Lila we are told … most of his actions during the film make him look fine? He’s clearly controlling and smarmy, but Spade is kind of mean and inconsiderate to his friends as well. I can absolutely see why Leonard Maltin thought the bad guy came across as better than Spade during the film, especially at the time.

The BMT – It is weak. I think you can add it to the repertoire of late-90s and SNL-alum comedies. But the film isn’t over the top with the weirdness that you have to show it to people. Like, there isn’t a four minute long gay panic scene or anything, which would have made the movie a bit more must-see. We’ll see more Spade films, specifically Black Sheep with Farley qualifies. Did it meet my expectations? I feel like we are on an interesting streak of films kind of half meeting my expectations. We got gay panic, and child rape jokes, and gross humor out the wazoo. But it was too few and far between to sustain the shock-horror throughout.

Roast-radamus – I don’t think Artie Lange is a Planchet … he’s just filling into the Laurel and Hardy / Abott and Costello mold that Farley left behind with his death. Reading Jamie’s section I do think the Orange Julius thing was a real Product Placement (What?). Because SNL must have some connection to Orange Julius. They have to. Definitely a Setting as a Character (Where?) for Los Angeles complete with a trip to the Hollywood Bowl. And then there is a discussion about the dog. It isn’t a MacGuffin, but it is a “thing” that is a linchpin to the plot. You can imagine any plot: boy meets girl, boy steals [object, e.g. a car, a dog, a prized surfboard] from her to get closer to her, hilarity ensues. It is a something, not a MacGuffin, but it is the “why” of the film. We won’t use it for the awards, but it is something to think about.

StreetCreditReport.com – Almost nothing, which shouldn’t be a surprise since I basically didn’t know this movie existed until I watched it. Roger Ebert eviscerated it which is a plus. It probably is one of the worst dognapping films. Could definitely make a list of worst David Spade films. And probably could be considered for a Worst Films Starring a French Movie Star list of some kind as well. But even those are pushing it.

Bring a Friend Analysis – This week we watched the Joe Estevez and Robert Z’Dar classic Soultaker? Never heard of it? Well, it is about four people whose souls become displaced after they die in a tragic car accident. They then must race against death itself, players by Joe Estevez … kind of, he’s like a dark angel character, but Z’Dar is like his boss as well. Anyways, it was written and stars Vivian Schilling and it was clearly a passion project for her. As a bad movie the acting is probably its strongest attribute. The weirdness of Joe Estevez and Z’Dar’s interactions help. And finally some of the weird choices like the drug dealing alcoholic asshole friend, and very strange scene with the mother are probably what you’d see online. I really liked this film. It is wild, and just entertaining enough to sustain the run time. Probably the only time is starts to die a bit is in the end when it just takes forever to get to the point. I really liked this as a friend. A B I think, very entertaining, but nothing super special and specifically interesting.

You Just Got Schooled – This time I had it easy because it turns out Soultaker is considered one of the best episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 ever made. In a poll it ranked 18th among fans, and it was noted as a favorite of current MST3K writer Elliott Kalan. The episode is very good in my estimation, having watched a number of MST3K over the years. The comparison of the main character to Tonya Harding, the constant 60 Minutes references, the riffing on the screenwriting in general, and notes concerning Joe Estevez’s status as the lesser Estevez brother are all gold. I would say that while Soultaker itself is entertaining in its weirdness, the MST3K episode made it a very easy rewatch a week later. Indeed, while I may have only occasionally indulged in Soultaker by itself, I think if someone had never seen MST3K this is a fine introduction and companion to the film. It is nice that it, in a way, lends a stamp of approval to the film as an unqualified bad movie.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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Daylight Recap

Jamie

Kit Latura is a disgraced badass ready to make everyone regret doubting him. When the Holland Tunnel collapses it’s up to him to save the remaining survivors. He totes goes in there and leads them like the leader that he is. Can he save them all (and perhaps get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… Daylight.

How?! Act I: Our main players all converge on the Holland Tunnel, where a truck filled with toxic waste (obviously) explodes when a car filled with highly flammable jewel thieves crashes into it. In an absolutely wild coincidence the former head of the EMS, Kit Latura, is driving a cab just outside the tunnel. He volunteers to head in on a rescue mission to save them all with his big muscles. Meanwhile we are introduced to the only survivors in the tunnel… which are honestly mostly criminals and cheats. Act II: Sly enters the tunnel ready to rock-and-roll. Unfortunately he enters through the ventilation system that is only a one-way entrance. Realizing that he needs to strengthen their position he decides to collapse part of the tunnel with explosives. Who does he ask for help? The pretty playwright, Maddy, of course. The biggest question here is whether Maddy is actually his love interest. She is a beautiful thirty-something, he looks like he’s been carved from an old tree. I was getting some serious father-daughter vibes, but not sure that’s what they were going for. Anyway, he blows the tunnel, but soon realizes that their position is even more vulnerable when water starts to flood and they hear the rescue workers trying to break into the tunnel (which would kill them). Attempting to find a way out, Kit leads the group to long unused areas of the tunnel (with only minimal fatalities). Finding a way out he forces the group to go to safety, while him and Maddy are stranded in the tunnel. Act III: We end with Kit and Maddy deciding that they have to try everything to survive. They decide to use the remaining explosives to blow out the tunnel and have the pressure hopefully push them to the surface of the river. This, of course, works because it’s a movie. Kit and Maddy still don’t kiss because everyone probably realized it would be weird. THE END. 

Why?! Weirdly, atonement. The backstory for Kit is that he’s been disgraced and forced to become a taxi driver because he got rescue workers killed while trying to save people. You get the sense that by voluntarily going back in he is trying to save those lives to make up for his perceived failure. Perhaps he even would have sacrificed himself for this atonement if Maddy hadn’t been there to force him to take one last drastic action. As for the main antagonist, The Tunnel, well it just wants to be a tunnel. Usually that’s not too much to ask.

Who?! For the first time ever I think I’m going to call a Nepotism Alert! Sage Stallone, Sly’s son, actually has a fairly prominent role as Vincent, one of the juvenile delinquents. Much like Kevin Costner’s daughter in The Postman I actually think he was pretty good though. I really think if I didn’t know he was Sly’s son then I would have just been like “he’s actually an OK actor.”

What?! I feel like I’ve mentioned this before, but there is a very special product placement associated with this film. It’s Sly Stallone’s Panerai watch that he wears and subsequently became associated with a number of action stars. They are big and bulky and designed for use in submarines, but Sly Stallone took one look at it in Italy and, “immediately knew it had star power.” That’s real. That’s a quote. He thought the watch was good character development and insisted his character wear one. I mean… that’s just good writing.

Where?! Very very very good NYC film. The Holland Tunnel itself is more or less a role in the film. We even get some history lessons about the construction of the tunnel and very intricate geography of exactly how it’s laid out. A all the way.

When?! I went back through it and confirmed that indeed they don’t make specific mention of when this takes place. We see some spotty snow on the ground and one character is seen contemplating whether to buy a Super Bowl ad for his company, so it’s clearly winter before the big game. I also think post-Christmas because otherwise we’d probably have a character be like “this is the worst Christmas ever,” or something. So January? D+ I think… I have to look back on my grading rubric.

This film really harkened back to an older time in action films. It felt very Towering Inferno or Poseidon Adventure. There isn’t some major terrorist plot or millions of dollars at stake. Just a few survivors of a major disaster hoping to get saved by the ultimate badass with a heart of gold. Despite being a major film it felt very small, and that was both good and bad. It was good in that the plot didn’t seem contrived and there wasn’t some silly MacGuffin to laugh at, but also bad because at times it almost seemed meandering. The survivor’s plight in the tunnel seemed so hopeless that they were just screaming “we’re going to die! What are we going to do?!” and Sly would kinda just shrug and wait it out. It’s almost like they were writing the film as they were making it… and Sly seriously didn’t know what they were going to do. Other than obviously he shouldn’t panic because he forced a rewrite where his character would survive. Overall it’s an entertaining film, but just fine otherwise. As for Roller Blade Seven, I was surprised by the coherency. It wasn’t as totally off-the-rails as I expected given the IMDb score. It did feel like there was a vision there… at least from a filmmaking perspective and not necessarily from a storytelling perspective. Like there were some Crank-type roller blade handheld camera stuff going on and the random cuts and repeats of scenes that people make fun of did seem purposeful. Like I think he was trying to say something about time and memory as part of the Zen Filmmaking idea that he espouses. So, dare I say it, I think Roller Blade Seven is maybe underrated? Is that right? That can’t be right… Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! I swear to God I’ve seen this movie before … or at least I’ve seen the ending of this film a few dozen times on TNT. Either way, let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – Last year, after finding Skyscraper absolutely insufferable, I watched Towering Inferno a few days afterwards. Disaster films from various decades are interesting, and the 90s was mostly aliens, and comets, and real large scale stuff. This was pleasantly small scale. So I was excited to see just how it compared to the various other disaster films I’ve seen in my life. What was I expecting? I was expecting a terrible acting performance from Stallone, melodrama, and for this ragtag team of misfits to go out there and beat the Holland Tunnels, yeah! The sports analogy works.

The Good – This is bar none one of the best plane movies I’ve ever watched, breezes by with no gore or nudity to embarrass you in front of nosey neighbors. Ideal. The set is incredibly impressive, and the tension is ratcheted up to 11 because they actually give a decently plausible series of minor disasters for Stallone to individually tackle to save everyone. The film was decently paced because of this. This is a very old school film, with the various characters all getting their little introduction, and you learn about them, and care for them, and in the end you’re like: “You did good kid” and you wink at Stallone, who gives you a thumbs up and everything and it is awesome, you know?

The Bad – The acting was quite bad top to bottom. This is one year prior to Stallone earning a bit of redemption for Cop Land, and you kind of see the humble, sheepish, reluctant hero in the making here as well. Almost like he was insisting that the brash 80s action hero brand was ovah baby and had already started to twist it back around … I think it is merely embarrassing here as it is clear Stallone is the only competent person in the movie and his fake humility probably got a bunch of people killed. Anyways, the storyline of the tunnel and the gigantic coincidences that put Stallone in the position to be this reluctant hero are a bit too much such that it sinks the first act. The second act is weighed down by the realization that most of the people in the tunnel are garbage people and you kind of don’t care if they live or die. And the third act is an implausible ‘splosion … when you put it that way this film really doesn’t have much going for it. Whatever it is entertaining as hell I think.

The BMT – For the set piece alone I would give it to it. As I said, I’ve watched a bunch of disaster films in my life and this lies closer to the Poseidon Adventure area. The reluctant hero saves a small group of people, some of whom die one by one (mostly the nice ones), etc. They naturally pulled the punch and had Stallone live. This is in stark contrast to the real old school flicks like Towering Inferno or Avalanche which both reveled in showing you the various ways all of the good and bad people could die (god is dead, amirite?). And also contrasts with Skyscraper is on the other end with The Rock deploying death to only those he deems the baddies with tactical efficiency leaving every good person alive and well. This is a nice (and kind of rare I think) 90s disaster film that operates on the small scale. Plus Stallone, so like … yeah, its BMT. Did it meet my expectations? Only partially. As I said the film was entertaining as hell so that makes it tough to really crap on. But also they kill off too many of the good guys on Team Stallone for my liking. The score was like what? Team Stallone 9, Holland Tunnels 4 or something? It was a lot closer than you like to see I think.

Roast-radamus – I wish there was something for the Matthew Lillard Most Sidekick-est Character award or something for Amy Brenneman, but alas. I do like the very specific Holland Tunnel as a Setting as a Character (Where?). Other than that … there isn’t much of a twist unless you could the deus ex blow-out-ea to save Stallone and Brenneman. So that really is it. I don’t think it gets a Good, Bad, or BMT nod.

StreetCreditReport.com – Amazingly it juuuuust narrowly gets onto this disaster film list by Newsweek tied for 49th out of 50. It gets a pretty decent 23rd best Stallone film list from Men’s Health. Otherwise it could get what? Worst film set in a tunnel I think for sure. I could definitely be on a list of worst 90s disaster films, although I think it might get beaten out by a few of the crazier late 90s ones (Godzilla comes to mind), and also some real crap ones (Firestorm comes to mind). Even Volcano … whatever, it would get top ten for sure.

Bring a Friend Analysis – As the first installment of the Sibling Rivalry Bring a Friend we chose Roller Blade Seven. I’m not actually sure what put this film on my radar besides that fact that it stars both Frank Stallone and Joe Estevez and thus seemed to have super sibling powers of some kind. Written and directed by Donald G. Jackson and co-written with Scott Shaw (who both also starred in the film), it comes across as part micro-budget 80s sci-fi dystopian crazy film, and part art film. Using a style he dubs zen filmmaking (see above), Jackson creates a dream-like atmosphere by replaying some clips over and over, especially during fight scenes. Starring C/Z-list actors, plus a few famous cult film stars, it comes across a lot like what I imagine Manos Hands of Fate wanted to be. While Manos was made on a bet, the intention was to partially buck the Hollywood system and show that a man with a plan and a camera could make a movie. Unlike Manos Jackson actually succeeded in breaking into Hollywood and cultivates a following with his most successful venture Hell Comes to Frogtown. It is hard to even describe what I think of this film. I think it is terribly made, terribly acted, nonsensical, and aggravating. But at the same time I find something very alluring about zen filmmaking. Something about this film makes me think I’ll watch more Donald G. Jackson in my life, and something about the film tells me that is necessary to really understand the weirdness that was 80s/90s off-Hollywood productions. As a friend I give it an A for being thought provoking. But I have to say, I’m glad we didn’t watch Rollergator this week, as that would have been too much Donald G. Jackson too quickly.

You Just Got Schooled – Without a logical choice for learning in Daylight, I decided to watch this documentary about The Roller Blade Seven (and its sequel). You can get the gist of this bizarre documentary and Zen Filmmaking as a whole in the first five minutes, it is pretty much explained in the opening crawl and the whole thing is boring and awful. Some other interesting bits: The film was entirely filmed at Golden Hour, which means it took a lot longer to finish that I would have thought at first glance. The roller cam is pretty funny and works well for the film as a whole. In a different universe these guys are genuinely funny guys making an interesting art film, but with the early-90s Hollywood quality it is just … a bit sad? The dog collar, the outfits they are wearing, the fake reporters, the chosen location. The experience of watching this “film” is very much like the tuxedo scene in Step Brothers: “Oh I get it, it’s ironic, that’s funny, that’s cool, I’m into it, let’s do this … [watches the filmmaking documentary] Oh … nope, now this all seems pretty fucked up to be honest.” … I think it now gets a B as a friend.

Phew, what a combo! Already loving this cycle. Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Dracula 2000 Recap

Jamie

Dracula is back, Jack! It’s Y2K and he’s ready to party (amiright?). When a group of cybertheives steal Dracula’s coffin and awaken the monster, he arrives in New Orleans looking for his part-vampire bride. But the Van Helsing gang ain’t having that, especially since it’s his daughter. *gulp* Can they defeat Dracula before it’s too late? Find out in… Dracula 2000.

How?! Van Helsing is an elderly antiquities collector with a dark secret. When some high tech thieves break into his office and open his locked vault they are shocked to find that it’s just filled with lame ol’ bones and a coffin. What’s extra lame is when a bunch of boobytraps kill half of them. Assuming what’s in the coffin must be extra valuable they take it and attempt to fly it back to America. On the way they inadvertently awaken the tenant of the coffin, Dracula, who has been kept in continual slumber by Van Helsing in hopes that he could figure out how to kill him. In scientific terms they are totally pwned by Dracula and turned into more draculas. Realizing that Dracula is probably going after his daughter, Van Helsing travels to New Orleans where she lives, followed closely by his assistant Simon. Once there, he attempts to take care of bizness, but finds himself outmanned by the number of vampires already on the loose. Heading back into the city he tries to find his daughter but is confronted by Dracula himself. Being an old rickety man who’s only stayed alive by infusing himself with dracula blood he is immediately killed, duh. Meanwhile Simon is able to find Van Helsing’s daughter, Mary, but they separated as they try to stay ahead of Dracula and his gang. Once separated Mary is almost immediately turned into a vampire by Dracula and they totes make out on the rooftops. He then goes on to explain exactly who he is, bum bum BUM Judas! What a twist! He’s actually Judas, unwelcome in heaven or hell for all eternity and feeding on blood and afraid of crosses, etc. etc. etc. Super twist. Simon confronts Dracula but is captured and Mary is forced to drink his blood. But then, double twist, Mary didn’t actually drink Simon’s blood and instead they do a little kungfu and hang Dracula/Judas all over again and he totally dies this time. Still worried, Mary vows to guard his ashes, setting up for the sequel that definitely will happen (spoiler alert: it didn’t). THE END.

Why?! Dracula is a monster so really just for that sweet sweet blood. He is the last of his kind and wants to make a whole mess of draculas, particularly with the help of his part-vampire bride. Van Helsing and the rest of the good guys just want to protect the world from Dracula. It’s all very straightforward… except the part where Dracula turns out to be Judas… not sure how it influences the motivations. It all just happened so quickly.

Who?! Been a while since we had a legit singer-turned-actor in one of these. No, I don’t mean Gerard Butler, star of Phantom of the Opera and formerly in a band called Speed (apparently). And no, I don’t mean Coolio (breakout star of Dracula 3000). I mean Vitamin C, who played Lucy in the film. She was the lead singer of the band Eve’s Plum before setting out on a solo career. This was pretty obviously the peak of her acting career.

What?! One of the best Product Placements we’ve had in a while. Mary works at the Virgin Megastore and boy howdy do we know it. Multiple scenes and multiple t-shirts are devoted to this fact. Is it somehow relevant to the story? The release of the soundtrack by Virgin suggests that the answer is no. There are a few props for sale, but nothing that allows me to dress exactly like Gerard Butler, so no thanks.

Where?! Can’t understate how fun New Orleans is as a BMT setting. Always know you’ll get a parade and beads and stuff and people in masks and crazy shit happening and everyone ignoring it because it’s New Orleans. There is also a significant portion that takes place in London. All around solid B+.

When?! Secret Holiday Film, Alert! This film clearly takes place during Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Normally this would just be a great A- specific setting that is promoted up from B+ because of the significance of holidays in general. HOWEVER, given the bonkers twist that Dracula is in fact Judas and given that Mardi Gras occurs the day before Lent, which is meant to prepare for the celebration of Easter, this has to be elevated to an A. I’d even hear arguments for an A+ given 2000 in the title and the significance of the particular date.

The first half of this film I was just startled by how similar aspects of it was to Vampire in Brooklyn. Not just the obvious Dracula references but like… the search for his half-vampire bride, which seems to be unique to later adaptations. Because of this I was like, ‘lame, cliche’ even as cyberhacker thieves were stealing his coffin. After a certain point I started to kinda dig the visuals though. Nice mix of artistic and early 2000’s BMT. And so I was starting to get a little torn… until the twist happened. It is nuts. Just crazy that they dropped that in there at the end. It’s such a heavy twist thrown in at the very very end of a film that it really takes some balls to do. All of a sudden you can’t even pay attention to the climax of the film anymore because your brain can’t process the casual mixing of Judas and Dracula as if such a mix is a natural addition to the classic Gothic tale. It’s the twist we deserve. As for Dracula 3000, the movie is Transmorphers garbage. They were too tongue-in-cheek and in on the joke that I couldn’t even enjoy it. On top of that Dracula looked like trash, like straight out of a kids movie or something. It’s hard to imagine how it was delivered in the state that it was. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! I’ve consumed like 14 pieces of vampire media in the last two months … for Dracula 2000! What is wrong with me? What have I done in my life that has led me here? Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I had just read Dracula and watches Coppola’s vision of that adaptation, so the big thing was obviously going to be comparing this to those two. Also skinny Gerard Butler, an actor whose BMT fame was a mere glimmer in his sexy eyes, is an interesting proposal. What are my expectations? If this movie has just wall to wall references to Dracula I think I’d pretty much be satisfied. Anything else is a cherry on top.

The Good – While the twist is the worst thing in the world (and we’ll get to that), in an alternative universe that twist is a really really cool idea for Dracula, and it is pretty sad it is wasted on this trash film. Up until they get to New Orleans the idea of the film is actually quite cool: Dracula can’t die and Van Helsing doesn’t know why, so he invents a way to live forever to watch over his sealed coffin while trying to figure out how to kill him. That’s a pretty good conceit. Unfortunately everything else goes off the rails.

The Bad – The twist is awful once you think about it for five seconds. So here’s the twist: Dracula, the original vampire, is in fact Judas, rejected by both heaven and hell and thus doomed to walk the earth forevermore. The good here: it explains quite nicely the idea of drinking his blood, much like drinking of the transubstantiated blood of Jesus, makes you his follower (a vampire as well). The bad: but why does he need to drink blood? Why does he have sharp teeth? Why does he live in Transylvania? Why does sunlight kill him? Even within this same film, why does filtering Judas’ blood through leeches render it safe to inject into our veins as Van Helsing does to stay alive forever? It completely rejects the book it is adapted from for a, only vaguely, decent twist and that is a slap in the face. That twist would have been much more fitting for a reenvisioning like Dracula: Untold than what seems to be a direct sequel. Along with that the fact that it is a long Virgin Media commercial is insane, and the acting, outside of Plummer, is terrible.

The BMT – I think so, I think this will be a good benchmark for vampire / Dracula films from here on out. It basically has enough interesting additions to the vampire lore to legitimize its existence, but yet it tosses it all away for a twist that ends up being worthless at best, and a slap in the face at worst. Did it meet my expectations? Yes, it indeed had wall to wall references to Dracula. The best being that the plane they use to transport Dracula to New Orleans is called the Demeter and the pilot is ultimately lashed to the steering wheel, which is an iconic image from the original novel and probably any film adaptation of Dracula. And they toss a bad twist in for good measure.

Roast-radamus – Obviously we have one of the greatest Product Placement (What?) examples ever with the film quite literally being a commercial for Virgin Media. It also has a strong Setting as a Character (Where?) for New Orleans. A common setting, but only effectively used in my opinion to allow weirdos like Dracula to roam around without attracting attention. We have a fantastic Secret Holiday Film (When?) for the film specifically falling on Mardi Gras in New Orleans. And naturally it’ll be stiff competition for Worst Twist (How?) for the reveal that Dracula has been Judas all along. That is a decent lineup that maybe could mean this sneaks in as a BMT in the end, but we’ll see.

StreetCreditReport.com – It didn’t get any play from the worst of lists for the year, but that is fine. It will almost always end up on a list for worst vampire films. Funny enough that description gets it wrong, Plummer isn’t a descendant of Van Helsing, he is Van Halsing. That is a pretty early reveal so I would be a bit surprised if that was a spoiler consideration, but maybe it is. I would say this deserves the title as the worst Dracula film, but that is unlikely. Not only did we watch Dracula 3000 which is obviously much much worse, but there is also Argento’s Dracula 3D which is on the worst film ever wiki page. So really it is just a really bad Dracula film, not the worst. Still enough cred for me.

You Just Got Schooled – I also read the book and watched Coppola’s 1992 adaptation. The book is very long and pretty dry, but I was genuinely surprised at how much of the Dracula lore comes directly from the book itself. Stoker really went out of his way to flesh out the character. I was also a bit surprised that Dracula could walk around in the sunlight, that seems like a strange and bold change for someone else to have made after the fact, and yet getting killed by sunlight in a major point in True Blood and ‘salem’s Lot and even Dracula 2000. The adaptation I thought was very visually cool, but I found Mina’s characterization to be off putting and a very strange choice. Almost insulting. In the book she is a woman living in a man’s world who is just as smart and capable as the men, but who ends up in trouble partially because of how delicately the men treat here. Here she is kind of played off as the cheating woman whose love for another man (Dracula) is almost her doom … it was weird and wild stuff. In the end I could give or take either, but I’m glad I read/watched both as it gives me a much better perspective on Dracula as a character.

Bring a Friend Analysis – So as a friend we naturally brought along Dracula 3000 with Dracula 2000. I guess I didn’t have much expectations, although the idea of going to space with Dracula makes sense, no sun. But this is the exact type of “friend” I don’t like. It is intentionally dumb, intentionally cheap, all the while winking at the camera like “eh, get it, we’re really dumb and cheap. That’s fun right? Like, a real cheap dumb movie, right?”. I do not find films like that amusing. The characters are annoying, the lore bastardized, the ending is just tacked on once they met the obligatory 90 minute run time. Chockablock with Dracula references, all of which are unearned. We should have done Argento’s Dracula 3D. F, terrible friend, more like Bring an Enemy, amirite?

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace Recap

Jamie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patrick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

The Lawnmower Man Recap

Jamie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patrick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Hackers Recap

Jamie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patrick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Runner Runner Recap

Jamie

Richie Furst is a former Wall Street guru turned Masters student who is cheated out of his tuition on an online poker site. Taking his evidence to the site’s founder he is offered everything he’s ever wanted: wealth and ladies. And he only has to become a criminal to get it! Can he escape his life of crime (and get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… Runner Runner.

How?! Richie Furst is a poor widdle former Wall Street guy who, having been unjustly robbed of his wealth due to the financial crisis, is now forced to get his Masters from Princeton (gross). Trying to make ends meet for tuition in the only legal way he knows how, he loses all his savings playing online poker. Given that he’s way too smart to lose he suspects treachery and uses big ol’ computers and his brain to discover that what happened is mathematically impossible. He decides to go straight to the source and confronts the owners of the poker company in Costa Rica and is all like “math, bitch.” The founder, Ivan Block, is impressed by his bravado and big brain and decides to give him a job and everything he’s ever wanted: ladies, money, and power. Richie of course suspects nothing of getting such an offer from an obviously terrible criminal like Ivan and is like “OK,” like a dope. From there he continues to act like a dope by throwing away all his scruples to blackmail and bribe people just like Ivan tells him too. Even when FBI agents are all up in his business he’s like “but Ivan said…” because he’s actually an idiot. However, when his friends start to bail on the company and one discovers that it’s actually a Ponzi scheme set up by Ivan, it finally dawns on him that literally everything is pointing towards him being involved in a terrible criminal activity. Uh oh! When his dad is used by Ivan as a bargaining chip, Richie has had enough and starts to set up an elaborate scheme to get the upper hand on Ivan. So when Ivan turns around and tries to move the company to Antigua, leaving Richie as the fall guy, Richie is already one step ahead and bribes the pilot to reroute his plane to Puerto Rico. Once there, Ivan gets arrested and Richie, with his big ol’ brain and his new girlfriend, fly off into the sunset. THE END

Why?! We can start from the beginning. We know that Richie is motivated mostly by greed. He feels somewhat robbed by having earned a bunch of money on Wall Street and watching all his money disappear while others got away with millions. He again feels somewhat robbed when he loses his tuition money in a rigged online poker game. This double swindling of our boy Richie apparently breaks his brain because this turns him into a criminal motivated only by greed. We even see him blackmail a guy who is about to have a new baby by purposefully tempting him with hookers and filming it. That’s just a shitty move, man. I know the guy is also shitty for giving into the temptation but our main character is just clearly a terrible person for purposefully setting all that up for a business deal. In fact, I’m not sure why I’m making this section so long. The motivation here is greed across the board. We are forced to watch a bunch of greedy assholes for two hours and it sucks. 

Who?! There is a very brief cameo by the DJ Deadmau5, who is DJing Ivan Block’s very exclusive party. It’s funny to think that in Hollywood you can be like, “hey we need a bunch of money to get Deadmau5 to DJ the fake party for the movie in order to lend credibility to the scene,” and then they just have a massive party and Deadmau5 is shown for less than a second. Also Laurence Mason (aka Lord Nikon and the reason we watched this terrible film) goes uncredited because his scene as the Governor of Antigue got cut… but don’t worry I saw it on the DVD extras. And indeed, totally unnecessary to the film.

What?! Lots of the classics in this one: cars, TVs, phones. I do like JT being like “no thanks” to the expensive stuff people are drinking because he can’t get enough Bud Light. Also they hide all of the evidence of Ivan Block’s nefarious deed in boxes of cereal, but mention that they use cereal that no one wants to eat… always makes me curious why companies would agree to have their cereal used in a film where the main character is like “that cereal is gross.”

Where?! Fantastic fantastic fantastic setting film. We start in Princeton and jump straight over to Costa Rica, which plays a prominent role in the plot. I’d have to look around but this almost certainly will be the top Costa Rica film we’ll get for BMT. Add it to the (imaginary) map! A

When?! The beginning of the film takes place in December most likely as it’s somewhat cold in Princeton and our boy Richie leaves just before finals (but don’t worry, he got extensions). From there it’s all lost to time. He could have been working for Ivan for a few months or over a year. Hard to tell. D.

I haaaaaaaaaaaaaated this film. I actually found it hard to watch. Despite being an objectively nice looking film (can’t go wrong with an exotic locale), I couldn’t understand how they wrote a film where I never cared what happened to any of the characters. I didn’t care whether he got the girl. I didn’t care how Richie was going to get out of the clusterfuck he got himself into. I just didn’t care. He was a criminal and a terrible person and I’m supposed to care about whether he gets out of the jam he’s gotten into through his own greed? No thanks. I’m not even sure whether the plot was coherent (probably not). And I’m not sure the acting is all that good (almost certainly not). I didn’t care. Because this movie sucked and I didn’t want to watch it. Not since Mile 22 have I had a collection of bozos I cared less about. Patrick?  

Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! This film had too little exciting poker action, and a little too much garbage people doing garbage things to each other and making me hate them … you know? Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – I didn’t have much hope for this film to be honest. Here’s the thing, we always kind of get forced into films in the chain reaction category towards the end of the year. Regardless, I suppose I was most excited for the Costa Rican settings, I want to see those vistas! What were my expectations? Again, low low expectations, but if there could be some thrills and the film didn’t make me hate the main character and gives me something to root for I would have been delighted.

The Good – Not much. I mean, it looks good. They do a lot with the interesting setting. It certainly focuses on a unique subject as far as a film goes. Online gambling doesn’t get much play in Hollywood. I like Affleck and he does a good amount with the role in the end. And he gets his comeuppance. But otherwise it is pretty rote nonsense.

The Bad – JT is genuinely awful and it is kind of no wonder he doesn’t get a lot of leading man roles. He’s a decent second banana, but he isn’t a very good main character. Speaking of which the main character is a garbage person, and I did not care for a moment whether he lived or died. He did so many bad things in the end he kind of deserved everything he was getting. The glorification of these terrible people exploiting gamblers and living glamorous lives in the Central America doesn’t really make a compelling movie in my opinion.

The BMT – Naw screw this movie. I have no intention of ever watching this again. It does have the setting going for it. We would have watched it either way eventually I imagine as it is far and away going to be the best Costa Rica movie ever released. Plus it got actually destroyed by the critics, and it isn’t the worst goal to watch every sub-10% Rotten Tomatoes film ever made … there aren’t really that many of them. Did it meet my expectations? No, JT is a terrible person in this film and I didn’t care if he lived or died. That’s all I wanted with this film and it did the exact opposite.

Roast-radamus – I actually think this has a decent shot at the Bad section of the awards as I think both Jamie and I really didn’t like the film. I initially couldn’t remember a good Product Placement (What?), but then Jamie reminded me that JT guzzles Bud Light throughout which is awesome. I think looking through the rest of the things the only obvious one is Setting (Where?) and honestly it could win it. It is such a Costa Rica film it is amazing. Every country should get such a terrible film made in / about it in my opinion.

StreetCreditReport.com – Incredibly despite being a relatively rare sub-10% Rotten Tomatoes film it gets nary a mention on the year end lists. Only a small dishonorable mention on IndieWire. I would think this is maybe like … the second worst gambling film available. I’m of course referring to 21 as being the worst. It may not have gotten as bad of reviews, but I can assure you it is terrible. It didn’t help that the book that movie is based on (Bringing Down the House) is fantastic, and they just completely throw it out for … again, wait, it just ends up being a weird techno-thriller with a love story. It is the same movie! Two peas in a pod showing the evolution of gambling from Vegas card counting to online fraud … great.

Sklognalysis – Ohhhhhhh shiiiiiiiiiiit. It’s back. You see I have like 40 films to watch over the next few weeks so I couldn’t really be bothered to go with my original plan of watching Rounders. Instead I’ll go through some thoughts I had on thrillers after watching Swimfan and Runner Runner. With Swimfan I was rather upset. You see, in that film a high school student cheats on his girlfriend with a psycho who then proceeds to frame him for murder, dope him with steroids, and generally destroy his life. In Runner Runner you have a greedy garbage person getting stuck in a jam because of his greed and terrible behavior. You see the difference? In Runner Runner the consequences were proportional to the misdeeds of our protagonist. Which made me think of how thrillers like these are often morality tales of a sort. You commit a sin (lust in Swimfan, greed in Runner Runner), you get punished, you find redemption. But the punishment has to be proportional to the crime. You blackmail a family man and bribe some officials, you get framed for drug trafficking in response. You cheat on your girlfriend in high school and … fill in the blank, but the answer isn’t that your friend is killed, you get framed for his murder, and you get doped with steroids to ruin your life … that isn’t proportional, you see? This could, perhaps, be something fairly common in many genres across the board, but thrillers seem the most appropriate. The tension of seeing someone succumb to base desires, acts often left unknown and unpunished, getting punished in a spectacular and terrifying way, and narrowly escaping to find redemption is thrilling. I guess that is where Runner Runner fails … Timberlake doesn’t just succumb to base desires, he dives head first into a pile of money like Scrooge McDuck and just expects to get away with it like a goober. It just makes you feel gross. I’ll leave it at that, but I’ll be looking at other movies for such desires going forward for sure.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs