Lara Croft: Tomb Raider Recap

Jamie

Lara Croft is a world-renowned archeologist/tomb raider/adventurer. When she discovers a secret key hidden by her father, she realizes it is the key to unlocking a powerful device coveted by the Illuminati. Can she find and destroy the device before the evil Illuminati get their hands on it? Find out in… Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

How?! Lara Croft is an adventurer extraordinaire in high demand for the recovery (theft?) of antiquities across the world. She’s like an even sexier Indiana Jones or the equally iconic character that Tom Cruise played in The Mummy. On the anniversary of her father’s death, and coincidentally the start of a complete planetary alignment, a clock hidden in Lara’s house begins to tick. After breaking it open she recovers a hidden mystery MacGuffin… er… I mean, key. Not knowing what it does she makes the mistake of bringing it to an appraiser who promptly tips off the Illuminati so they can steal it. Uh oh! She then coincidentally gets a letter from her father sent before his death that lays out the entire plot of the film: that key enables the bearer to recover a powerful time control device called “the triangle.” She needs to get that device and destroy it before the Illuminati takes over the world! (dun dun dun!). Following them to Cambodia she is able to recover the first piece of the triangle. Seeing that they are dealing with a total badass, the Illuminati strike a deal: we both want the triangle, so let’s make sure we get it and then figure the rest out later. Lara agrees. Heading together to Siberia, Lara is able to again recover a piece of the triangle, only to have her kinda-sorta-not-really love interest Alex West (played by Daniel Craig sporting one of the worst American accents in the history of cinema) killed. Realizing the only way to save him is to go back in time she helps complete the triangle. Then a bunch of gobbledegook that makes no sense happens: Lara Croft is transported back in time, grabs the triangle, kills the Illuminati boss, transports back to the present day minus like 3 minutes, kills the Illuminati boss a couple more times, and destroys the triangle. Or at least that’s what I think happened. The End.  

Why?! Motivations are so easy in a MacGuffin film. The Illuminati want “the triangle” which will enable them to control time and thus the world. Lara wants to destroy “the triangle” as such ultimate power should be possessed by no one. Why not just destroy the key or just stop the Illuminati rather than destroy “the triangle” itself? Well, “the triangle” can only be retrieved during the planetary alignment that happens every 5000 years. So if she destroyed the key or simply stopped them, then 5000 years later the Illuminati could try again (if climate change doesn’t kill us first, amirite?). She has to get “the triangle” and destroy it for good. It’s the only way. See? Totally super tight plot. Don’t worry about it.

What?! Shoutout to UPS. Lara Croft knows what brown can do for her. It can deliver essential plot devices/letters from her dead father right to her front door. Speaking of plot devices, this is the second film in a relatively short time span that could be called MacGuffin: The Movie (Cradle 2 the Grave was the other).The triangle in this film is the very definition of a MacGuffin. It’s such a MacGuffin I’m surprised they didn’t name Iain Glen’s character Manfred MacGuff.

Who?! Pretty solid Planchet in this film, Bryce, played by Noah Taylor. He’s Lara’s Q and is constantly called a giant nerd. Also want to note that Jon Voight got second billing for this film… he barely appears in it.

Where?! Good globetrotting settings film. Large portions set in England and Cambodia. A short segment is set in Venice. The climax is set in Siberia. Intertitles are used occasionally. B.

When?! May 15th on the nose. Just so happens that the start of the planetary alignment corresponds to the anniversary of Lara’s father’s death, which is shown on his tombstone and mentioned several times. The rest of the film takes place during the ensuing week. B+.

Brief note for Dirty Dancing (2017), it is pretty obviously the most useless thing I’ve ever watched (and I watched the entire season of the reality television show The Vineyard!). It is incomprehensible why this actually exists and isn’t shamefully hidden away. I was trying to think of an adequate comparison and I’m drawing a blank. Maybe that Arthur remake we never watched… or Red Dawn? Even that wasn’t as mind-numbingly boring and unnecessary as this TV movie. Really it would be like they made a TV musical Casablanca starring Zac Efron and Taylor Swift and had the Germans toe-tappin’ along to some swell tunes. But it’s greatest crime? Abigail Breslin cannot dance. She literally can’t do it. They spend the entire movie trying to convince you that she gets better and can dance at the end. She can’t. Watch the finale from each version back to back and you’ll be shocked and upset. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Every five years the IP gold miners dig through the Hollywood archives and wonder “what could be the next big wave, how can I get that money printing machine?” And every five years someone with very little historical awareness “discovers” video games and gets very very excited. I mean. People love video games! People love movies! And every five years BMT opens a bottle of our cheapest champagne to celebrate the video game gold rush as things like Lara Croft: Tomb Raider are made. Let’s get into it!

The Good (Sequel, Prequel, Remake) – Out of all of the video games movies I’ve seen I think this is the best one, although I can’t be certain, Silent Hill was pretty good too. Angelina is fun, they keep the story fairly tight and focused like a laser beam on a McGuffin. And ultimately you can kind of forget all of the flaws because hey, time travel, and boobs, whatever. A remake is already coming, and a sequel happened so … prequel! Let’s get a little tag-team Angelina-Craig action in here. They fall in love and steal priceless artifacts! He’s in it for the money, she just wants to feel connected to her dead father! What an odd couple! With her trusty Cockney hacker sidekick Lara Croft stars in: Lara Croft and The Golden MacGuffin!

The Bad (Sklognalogy) – First, I’ll point out how ridiculous it is that Jon Voight got second billed on this movie. Other than that this movie’s story is just pointless, and the CGI looked terrible. But hey, it is a mid 2000s video game film, that isn’t a total surprise. My main complaint with the action is that, like everything that came out close to The Matrix, the wire-work stunts were off-the-chain (by which I mean they look terrible). I think the analogy is something like Warcraft. Yeah, not a super great movie, but you can see why fans like it, and you can see why they made it, and what they were trying to do with it. It just left out all of that stuff that critics like, like character development or coherent motivation.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – The legacy of the film will be minor … until we watch the sequel maybe. The sequel is interesting because I’ve heard that some consider it superior by at least not being boring. But that seems ludicrous … so it could very well find a special place in BMT lore. As far as streetcreditreport.com goes, it got #6 on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s yearly list … remember when just random places would make lists like this? I’m finding some weird ones. It is number eight on Reel Films, but overall tends to get eclipsed by none other than Freddy Got Fingered!

So we tagged up on a TV movie with the remake of Dirty Dancing. I had never seen the original (the horror), and I have to say, it holds up. The only question they leave hanging is how long they were on vacation for. I had assumed it was all summer (Jennifer Grey sees Swayze show up during a pep talk for the staff). I was mainly curious so that I could know how unbelievable it is that Jennifer Grey becomes a professional dancer during the course of the movie. The remake on the other hand leaves no questions unanswered! They were on vacation for three weeks, the older daughter sings a duet with a black employee at the resort and everyone nods their head about the times-they-are-a-changin’, and the parents almost get divorced. The sheer number of extra storylines is insane, causing the remake to be 40 minutes longer than the original! Profoundly upsetting. The true crime though, as Jamie alluded to, is the dancing. I loved the original, it holds up well, but it rides on the power of both Grey and Swayze’s dancing. And the two leads in the new one, they don’t got it.

Was it a time crunch? Was it intentional? I can almost psych myself into the idea that they intentionally told Breslin to not get into dancing shape for the film as a kind of any-girl-can-learn-to-love-and-dance-in-three-weeks idea … but the movie rises and rises in a crescendo of trash until my mind could take no more. It is something to behold, just horrible and offensive. This convinces me that we need to pay more attention to TV Movies in the future, there are ones that I think are worth a shot. Even something like Liz and Dick might be worth a shot if we can think of a reason to do it. And with that …

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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Project X Recap

Jamie

Three high school losers set out to throw an epic birthday bash in hopes of upping their social status. As word spreads, the party begins to spiral out of control. Can they keep the police at bay, the damage under control, and still get the girl before it’s too late? Find out in… Project X.

How?! When Thomas’ parents are heading out of town during his birthday his best friend Costa plans to throw a huge rager to impress the girls that never notice them (documenting it along the way using an A/V club nerd). At school Costa attempts to spread the word of the party far and wide with seemingly little success. Following a series of misadventures getting weed and quieting the neighbors, Thomas, Costa, and their third friend JD are thrilled to find the party is more than just popular, they are already legends. Hundreds and hundreds of people show, alcohol is flowing, hard drugs are aplenty and the party spins out of control. Meanwhile Thomas is trying to balance getting with the girl he’s in love with and potentially getting with the hottest girl in town. When the neighborhood descends into chaos, riot police come in, and his house is burnt to the ground our “hero” learns a valuable lesson: even if you break a million laws and do immeasurable damage to your family and life, it’s much more important that you are cool and got really drunk that one time. Oh yeah, and he still gets the girl somehow. The End.

Why?! The party is planned by Costa with the express purpose of increasing their social cache. He wants to be known, plain and simple, and a giant rager is how he can accomplish this. In a way he totally exploits Thomas, who really just wants to get with the girl he’s in love with, Kirby. Costa hears that Thomas’ parents are going to be out of town and jumps on the opportunity to use the empty house for his own purposes. In a weird twist he literally gets no comeuppance. He expresses some remorse, but Thomas kind of waves it off. Not great lessons in Project X.

What?! Prominent role for Thomas’ dad’s Mercedes which “cannot be touched.” Which of course inevitably means that it is destroyed during the party. Also, in terms of plot devices, there is a pretty heavy Chekhov’s Gun set up where our characters steal a gnome from a maniac and then seem to assume that they will never hear from him again… he obviously shows up in the third act to burn down the house.

Who?! Shout out to Miles Teller who plays… Miles Teller in the film. Would be weird if it weren’t for the fact that most people in the film played characters that shared at least a first name with them. Jimmy Kimmel also makes a cameo at the end making a joke in an opening monologue for his late night show.

Where?! Prominently set in North Pasadena, California. Said over and over and shown in writing on the high school they go to. C+.

When?! Exact Date Alert! We get featured on screen in text that the party takes place on May 14th, 2011. This is as close as we’ve come to intertitle confirmation of an exact date. Gotta give that a B+.

As for our Bring a Friend film, xXx: Return of Xander Cage I found myself fairly entertained while also recognizing that the film is a symptom of where cinema is heading for better or for worse (big ensemble flicks with easy to digest plotlines and foreign actors catering to the international audience). It felt very much like a better version of Mechanic: Ressurection, which isn’t saying a whole lot since that movie was one of the worst we’ve watched for BMT. In fact the more Patrick and I discussed the film the more I didn’t like it. But at the moment I think it’s merely an incredibly silly, predictable popcorn movie that is slightly better than I expected (as I expected a pile of trash). Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Remember being young and you thought writing about the rad fake party with the rad fake girls in english class made sense? Remember later realizing you knew nothing about parties, or girls, and honestly the third act was always a mess? Just me? Anyways, now imagine if a hero came along and said “no, I shall live without shame! We shall show the world what a party imagined by a 14-year-old boy would look like!” This is Project X! Let’s Go!

The Good (Sequel, Prequel, Remake) – I can appreciate that this is probably one of the better found footage films we’ve watched for BMT. It has a Logical explanation of why they are carrying a camera around like idiots for an entire party; A proper three-act structure often lacking in the meandering found footage genre; And, in some ways, an attempt to show at least some of the unflattering bits of what is otherwise a rather rosy picture of a youth ruining his life right in front you your eyes. Let’s do the brutal Sequel! They helpfully mentioned that our main character was heroically convicted of multiple crimes, although it would seem (unless multiple counts are involved) that all are misdemeanors and involve at most a year in county jail. The sequel follow him descending into obscurity as he tries to stay out of trouble in his senior year in high school and his slow realization that for one night of fame … he sacrificed a decade of his life and possibly his future. The movie is a slice of life drama (also found footage) as he struggles to stay connected to Kirby, who is off to USC in the fall. Project X: Crime and Punishment. “Wow, I mean, I didn’t like the first one, but this just feels mean spirited” says Leonard Maltin.

The Bad (Sklognalogy) – I didn’t enjoy this film. It is gross and devoid of worth, but I am not the intended audience. The acting is pretty brutal, but that is expected, the third act is a mess, but that’s expected, and shoehorning a love interest plot kind of backfires because they do almost nothing to make us care about either of the people involved. Sklognalogy is I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, in that is is just … gross and devoid of worth as I said. Although this is streets ahead of that piece of literal garbage. This movie is understandably loved by the demographic it focuses on like a heat-seeking missile, and I’ll say it every time: I am not the audience. If you are, say, a woman, or a man over the age of 24, you’ll probably just watch it in disgust. That’s my opinion anyways.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – I think if I take anything from this movie it is this is a decent example of a good found footage film, but bad film, like The Gallows in a way. Also watching this and (re-watching) xXx in the same week was kind of interesting. I called both movies “misogynistic”, but that isn’t totally precise. Ultimately I settled on the definition: both films would fail basically all tests used to analyze gender equality in Hollywood. FilmSchoolRejects named it to its worst list of the year, and PopMatters put it at number 2 pointing out that there were at least three copycat parties in California after the movie was released! Pretty solid cred, including the previously discussed revulsion from Roger Ebert and Leonard Maltin. It had to be done.

Finally, a brief recap of my adventures with xXx over the week. I re-watched the first two, and yeah, basically the first one is actually not too bad outside of the fact that the tech is straight out of GI Joe and the boat at the end looks absolutely ridiculous. It is believable that Vin Diesel’s character would be able to infiltrate the hilariously one-note anarchist bad guys’ crew though. The second one is amazingly ridiculous, and obviously has the best character of the whole franchise: the Presidential Bullet Train. The third is somewhere in between. It isn’t as good as the first, but it is better than the second. But it is silly, with just explosions on stupid sets, and wholly predictable. That is its biggest sin, it can’t surprise and thus can’t really be that fun because everything feels inevitable. It doesn’t make me any more inclined to watch films above 40% on Rotten Tomatoes … as a matter of fact it makes me much less inclined to watch films with reviews above 30% these days to be honest. So, it had the opposite effect. Congrats xXx: Return of Xander Cage!

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Christmas with the Kranks Recap

Jamie

With their daughter away for Christmas, the Kranks decide to skip it all together, save some money, and go for a luxury cruise much to the annoyance of their neighbors. That is until their daughter surprises them on Christmas Eve. Can they turn it around and save Christmas before it’s too late? Find out in… Christmas with the Kranks.

How?! When Luther and Nora Krank’s only daughter heads off to Peru with the Peace Corps it seems like Christmas just won’t be the same. In a stroke of genius Luther concocts a scheme where they will boycott the entire holiday, save some money, and go on a luxury cruise instead. This plan immediately runs into trouble as they boycott the firemen, police officers, and boy scouts who come for the normal charity and kindness they’ve come to expect from the Kranks in the holiday season. Not this year, freeloaders! No retreat and no surrender! They particularly miff their holiday obsessed neighbors when they refuse to decorate their house along with everyone else. After suffering the entire community’s scorn they get tantalizingly close to their cruise only to get a call from their daughter surprising them with a holiday visit with her new fiance she met in Peru! Oh no! Scrambling around they find themselves unable to get guests or decorations together for a last minute Christmas Eve party. Looking for one last dose of holiday cheer Luther attempts to put up a giant Frosty decoration on his house, but nearly dies in the process. Seeing this near death experience the neighbors band together to put on the party and give the Krank clan a Christmas they’ll never forget. The End.

Why?! This is actually an interesting question. Everyone kind of assumes that they decide to skip Christmas to save a quick buck, which obviously rubs everyone the wrong way. It’s no wonder they think this either since both Luther and Nora use this excuse throughout the film. While it’s made more explicit in the book, the reality is that Luther just doesn’t really like Christmas. He thinks it’s wasteful and stressful and is basically just protesting the season. He doesn’t like the peer pressure to participate that is heaped on them by their neighbors and he wants to show how much better it is to just skip it. Spoiler alert, though, it turns out skipping it is much more stressful than actually doing it. So I guess the moral of the story is that peer pressure works really well.

What?! For a Christmas movie this was surprisingly bereft of product placement. I would note an interesting thing about the Frosty prop used in the film. IMDb claims that it was Tim Allen’s dad’s Frosty that is used in a huge number of different films. This cannot possibly be true. First, the book has the Frosty plotline, which would be super coincidental. Second, the Frosty prop is now on display in a Christmas film prop show currently in Akron. Third, there is zero evidence online to corroborate this absurd claim. For shame, IMDb.

Who?! Dedicate “in loving memory” to Alan King, a famous comedian who died the year of its release. He apparently shot some scenes in the role of Luther’s boss, but they ended up on the cutting room floor. He also has a dedication in the credits of Rush Hour 3, which is an interesting double billing. The Alan King Double Feature.

Where?! Riverside, Illinois is the home of the Kranks. Noted by a local newspaper and police. Lots of license plates around as well. Solid, but not over the top. B.

When?! A+ Setting Alert! Again, nothing like a holiday film to open the door for some title integration. Made me wonder if there is any example of a film with a double A+ setting. Both a place and a time integrated in title. A Christmas title is the best opportunity. Something like A New York Christmas or something. Autumn in New York is a good one Patrick found, but I’m not sure how I would grade that. I know how to grade this, though. A+.

I took one for the team this week and read the novella on which this film is based, Skipping Christmas by John Grisham (yes, that John Grisham). For the most part the film is an exact adaptation, made possible by the low page count. The only additions were some slapstick stunts like the freezing of a cat, which were probably deemed necessary since the book is mostly a story of a bunch of assholes being assholes to each other (with some snark thrown in here and there). I have to note one glaring omission: in the book when the Kranks hear that their daughter is bringing her new Peruvian fiance to Christmas they take a moment to note that many Peruvians are dark-skinned… alrighty. I thought I had misread it. But, then when he shows up they note with glee that he’s not dark-skinned at all, but is in fact lighter than Luther… sufficed to say that didn’t make it into the film. Nothing like a bit of casual racism to get you in the holiday spirit. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Your production company is feeling that itch for some corporate synergy. They’re wondering if a Christmas movie could be made that as a bit more … apologetic towards the rampant commercialization of the holiday season. You’ve got a can-do attitude, right?! Grab your John Grisham novel, and milk that sweet IP! Let’s get into it!

The Good (Sequel, Prequel, Remake) – Tim Allen pulls off the grumpy-dad character quite well. And while the message is gross, the ultimate pay off in the end kind of makes it all understandable. Also, credit where credit is due, I did not see the rather emotional twist at the end coming. I think I want to see the Sequel! That’s right, in the intervening years, while Blair and Enrique have come to Chicago every year for the big Christmas bash, this year Blair is pregnant and can’t travel from, you guessed it, Peru! So the Kranks are going on vacation. It’s a culture clash for the ages as the Kranks meet the Decardenals (holy shit, he has a last name!) and have a true blue peruvian Christmas! Christmas with the Kranks 2: Meet the Decardenals!

The Bad (Sklognalogy) – The message is pretty gross as all of the reviews say. Even then, the movie is kind of two movies smushed together. The first half is all about them skipping Christmas (and honestly, being jerks about it … like, you are saving $3K, you can’t give a donation to the cops, c’mon!), and then halfway through they realize they can’t anymore, so it kind of kicks into high gear at that point. As far as Christmas films go, this might be the worst I’ve seen (Saving Christmas doesn’t count), but it still has the charm of being about family and fun and Christmas. You just wish it wasn’t so heavy-handed and gross about greed-is-good mentality of embracing Christmas materialism. The Sklognalogy is … well, avoiding the obvious, let’s go with The Guardian starring Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Costner. Another movie that feels like two movies smushed together and ultimately fails to be particularly good versions of either movie it is trying to be.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – I think this could have major ramifications for BMT, but it depends on whether we are willing to sacrifice some BMT Live action. Primarily because … I think this movie could have been really fun to watch around Christmas. Which makes me think we could have three BMT Lives and a BMT Holiday extravaganza instead. If that happens, this movie will make a turning point in BMT. Otherwise, none, perfectly forgettable beyond being a not-at-all-secret BMT Holiday film. It does get a few shouts as a top ten worst holiday film. And gets shouts as one of the worst films of 2004. In other words, this had the cred. Like Deck the Halls, it had to be done as an all-time bad holiday film.

Before I go I want to do a brief analysis on the “friend” from this pair. In this case we were testing the waters concerning Christian Films, by watching Saving Christmas, breaking an unspoken BMT rule in the process. So, did we prove the rule by watching the exception and realizing even the extremes still barely qualify? Or are more religious films coming soon to a BMT near you? … Personally, it is the exception that proves the rule. Christian films are low quality, and just make me angry with what is often a disingenuous holier-than-thou attitude. Our unspoken rule of really only doing those once in a lifetime movies seems a-ok to me at this point. This is a BMT film, but it is also probably the biggest one ever released (not counting something like Passion of the Christ I suppose) … and it still barely qualifies. So doubtful any others are really worth it.

Cheerios, 

The Sklogs

Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas Recap

Jamie

Kirk Cameron loves Christmas and is dismayed to find his brother-in-law Christian is not as enthusiastic. Can he sway his opinion about the holiday with some totally unassailable logic and deep biblical knowledge before it’s too late? Find out in… Saving Christmas.

How?! Kirk Cameron is ready to settle in with some strictly Xmas related things: hot chocolate, fireplaces, and sweaters… just some typical religious icons. But some people in this world don’t want you to enjoy all those super nonsecular things. No sir. They either want you to not be so enthusiastic or they want you to celebrate only Jesus. Booooooo. Scrooges, the lot of them. So Kirk is rightfully shocked to find his brother-in-law Christian is one of the Scrooges! Oh no! He thinks presents are dumb, Christmas trees are pagan heresy, and Santa is a capitalistic monster. Bah humbug! Luckily Kirk Cameron is there to save the day (and that day is Christmas), because he know everything about the bible and all of those things are totes in there and totally cool. Don’t worry about it. You probably didn’t pick up on all the Christmas trees in the bible because you weren’t as smart as Kirk Cameron. He’ll explain it to you. Once Christian is convinced he heads into the house for a little nog, a little dance party, and a swell Christmas dinner with his BFFs. The End.

Why?! To save Xmas, bro! Duh! People are literally at war with Christmas. They want to stamp out all of your beliefs. Kirk will help you defeat the theist and atheist fiends alike with some airtight counterpoints. Everyone else… uh… wait, there isn’t anyone else in this film. Just him talking to you while he sits in a car.

What?! The idea that this film would have a product placement is laughable. The closest we get is a prominent shot of the GMC truck that Kirk and Christian sit in for an hour while they talk at us. But yeah, it def wasn’t a product placement… right?

Who?! Solid Director-turned-actor here with Darren Doane playing second fiddle to Kirk Cameron. A little foreshadowing with my boy Doane: he also directed another of the films that is part of the Bring A Friend cycle, which is absurd. Also have to note the Christian dance troop that is featured prominently in the last 15 minutes of the film: God Squad Dance Crew. I would link to their website but I don’t actually want to go to it.

Where?! Pretty obviously takes place in LA, but not explicitly stated. You do get a straight shot of the license plate of the car they sit in for an hour and it definitely has a California plate. So you got the state. C-.

When?! A+ Setting Alert! Best part of a Christmas movie is you have the temporal setting sitting right there for the taking. Worst part is you occasionally have to see absolute trash like this. Gross. A+.

This. Film. Is. Terrible. I would never, ever, ever, ever, ever watch it again… Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! So you are want to create something wonderful for your flock to enjoy in the Christmas (with a capital Christ) season to combat the liberal War on Christmas? Who are you going to call? Child-star-turned-evangelical-icon Kirk Cameron of course! I hope he knows how to make movies … he does know how to make movies right?! Let’s get into it!

The Good (Sequel, Prequel, Remake) – The film quality is … good. Like the picture itself. They rented cameras that were good enough for a feature length production. Honestly, I’m having trouble even thinking through whether I should do sequel/prequel/remake … I mean, like, Remake. Remake this movie with real actors? Although you’d probably just end up with Left Behind starring Nic Cage. So, what is there to say? This will serve its purpose. People will watch it in Sunday school and it’ll give a few tough questions answers that sound good. But is there anything in this movie that is “good”? No, it is not a real movie. It can amuse more than you would think, but mostly it made me angry by just how disingenuous it managed to be.

The Bad (Sklognalogy) – This is a real one: at one point they talk about “santa” and about how Saint Nicholas was a real person. Then they show him beating the shit out of someone and everyone is like “man, Santa’s a badass”. That’s assault brotha, and it is nothing to celebrate, especially not in a purported Christian film. The acting is terrible, the film is not a movie. By technical definitions even. It opens with a five minute intro by Cameron talking to the camera about how much he loves hot chocolate, and then ends with (not kidding) a 20 minute sequence involving a dance party, a dinner scene, and then blooooooopies. This movie is less than an hour long. The Sklognalogy is … no not Left Behind. Even when we did Left Behind, at least that had a story. This does not, it comes across as almost stream of consciousness. It is produced by Liberty University! No, the Sklognalogy is Atlas Shrugged III: Who is John Galt? A pure propaganda film that isn’t a real movie, disingenuous, holier than thou, and wholly terrible.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – For at least a year, and this will be expanded upon more in the Christmas with the Kranks, this I think puts the nail in the coffin of doing more explicitly religious films (like God’s Not Dead 2 for example). It just isn’t really worth it. I will come out of it the same way: angry and with a simple five word review: “This is not a movie”. This had the streetcred though. Due to Kirk Cameron’s own idiotic victim mentality he went to social media to decry the unfair online reviews his movie got! … which promptly got him more negative reviews and single-handedly caused his movie to nearly sweep the Razzies. It did get a shout at 18th worst of the year at the AV Club, but often was overshadowed by Left Behind and God’s Not Dead from the same year. Every review basically calls it an experimental film trying to figure out how little actual movie can be made while still releasing to theaters.

I’ll probably leave it mostly there. I will point out something I thought was rather humorous from this entire humorless affair. Darren Doane’s character Christian sits around in his car the whole time while his wife is slaving away in the kitchen preparing this absolutely enormous dinner for friends and family … then when dinner comes around, who is at the head of the table as if he didn’t just sulk around for days on end like an asshole? Christian. The patriarchy, am I right?

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Cradle 2 the Grave Recap

Jamie

Jewel thief Anthony Fait’s daughter is kidnapped by international weapons dealers after he steals a load of black diamonds, which turn out to be weapons in disguise. Can he stop them and get his daughter back before it’s too late? Find out in… Cradle 2 the Grave.

How?! Anthony Fait is a thief looking for that last big score. Breaking into a high security diamond vault, he and his comrades make off with millions in jewels and some special black diamonds meant for a mysterious buyer. They begin to sense something is up when they find themselves tracked by a Taiwanese cop, Officer Su, and their contact for the sale is killed. Uh oh! Aiming to get rid of the loot and leave the country, Fait goes to get them assessed for sale. This move quickly goes awry when a group of gangsters, led by Jump Chambers, hear about the diamonds on the black market and steal them, while at the same time Fait’s daughter is kidnapped by the mysterious buyer as ransom for the diamonds. This is getting confusing. Now out both the diamonds and a daughter, Fait tracks the diamonds to a strip club owned by Jump, but again finds that he’s too late. The mysterious buyer has already scooped up the diamonds for himself! Still no diamonds or daughter in hand, Fait has only one option left. He has to track down the mysterious buyer who turns out to be an international arms dealer. In a twist it turns out the diamonds aren’t diamonds at all, but rather a secret weapon capable of destroying the world. They literally all do martial arts, beat up the baddies, save the girl, steal back the diamonds, and shoot down a helicopter with a tank in the span of like 15 minutes. The end.

Why?! Money, babbbyyyyyyyyy. All about the sweet green for all involved. Fait never wanted to steal a secret nuclear-grade weapon (why would he?). He just wanted diamonds. The antagonists only want the weapon so they can sell it. In fact, if the weapons guys were just cool about it they probably could have bargained with Fait to get them back for far less than they were gonna sell them for on the black market anyway. But nooooo, they had to go beat up poor Tom Arnold. Agent Su wants to stop everyone involved.

What?! MacGuffin Alert! The black diamonds here represent a classic type of MacGuffin: the mysterious superweapon that the baddies want to use/sell and the goodies want to keep safe. As with all good MacGuffin superweapons the explanation of exactly how they are so destructive is mostly technobabble nonsense about stripping away protons rather than adding neutrons to a substance. While I’ll be eating crow if it turns out the screenwriter of the film was a nuclear scientist and this all holds up, I do not believe this makes any sense whatsoever.

Who?! This film is chock full of all our favorite characters. We have Tom Arnold as a pretty good Planchet. Everyone thinks he kinda sucks and making fun of him is a lot of his humor. We also have DMX and fellow hip hop artist Drag-On in the crew stealing jewels. They shared a label with Ruff Ryders and as a result Drag-On appeared in both this and Exit Wounds with DMX… weird. We also have famed MMA fighter Chuck Liddell in a cameo for a cage fighting scene. Finally, Chi McBride has a notable role but chose to appear unbilled. Can only presume it was because of the product. So that’s a Planchet, musician-turned-actor, athlete-turned-actor, and major unbilled role all in one film. Word. Up.

Where?! We know for sure it’s set in CA from early in the film when the bad guys ask whether a compatriot of theirs is enjoying their time in California. It’s confirmed to be LA later whether a local news network reports that Fiat is leading the police on an X-treme ATV chase through downtown LA. Rad.

When?! The aforementioned Chi McBride is stuck in jail but so rich and powerful that he’s essentially waited on by the prison staff. That includes a weekly delivery of the latest Baseball Weekly periodical which includes an article on the Expos, Marlins coaching shuffle. March 20th, 2002 article so the date within a couple weeks of that. C.

Like DMX at the end of this film, it’s time for me to walk away from my life of crime and send this over to Patrick who will give you the straight dope. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! This week we watched Cradle 2 the Grave, a movie that promised non-stop martial arts action in our faces! Could the long-anticipated action-packed pairing of rap-badass-turned-Hollywood-megastar DMX and actual-martial-artist Jet Li live up to my self-generated hype? Could I have added more hyphens in that last sentence? Not likely on both counts, let’s get into it!

The Good (Sequel, Prequel, Remake) – I dug the heist in the beginning and the soundtrack is jamming on multiple occasions. The sidekicks of Anthony Anderson and Tom Arnold gave a surprising amount of levity to the affair. The acting wasn’t nearly as bad as one would expect. I think I’d do a two-for-one! (Two-for one! Two-for-one!) First the Sequel, where we see Anthony Fait in prison after the events of the first film. He is approached by Su, who tells him Daria and Vanessa have been kidnapped by terrorists hoping to get him and Su to organize an heist to steal a cache of weapons and money from international arms dealings. The game is afoot, as Su breaks Anthony out of prison and the crew is assembled. Can the small-time crooks make it big in international espionage? Find out in Cradle 3 the Grave: Arms Race! Follow that with a Prequel which sees Anthony Faits helping his protege Miles get out of a jam with Jump Chambers. Recruiting Tommy and enlisting the help of Archie they attempt to make one big score to save Miles’ skin. Along the way Anthony falls in love, only to lose his wife tragically at Jump’s hand a year later (this is all post-credits) leaving him a single father to Vanessa. Daria turns on Jump and joins the crew, fade out. Cradle 1 the Grave: Origins.

The Bad (Sklognalogy) – The film becomes very cliche later on, devolving to wire-work action, ludicrous pseudo-science nuclear weapons nonsense, and ridiculous explosions. The final scene whereby all three protagonists fight is terrible, with only Jet Li and Mark Dacascos giving us anything worthwhile. Even then the wire-work ruins it, no wonder the style died out, it looks dumb in anything outside of the Matrix. I didn’t hate the movie, but it certainly disappointed later on. Sklognalogy is, and this could be controversial, Stone Cold starring Brian Bosworth. A movie I kind of dug, which is partially torpedoed by the fact that the main character is not an actor and comes across as cheesy. This is higher quality overall, whereas I think, ultimately, I liked Stone Cold more.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – I feel like this movie is going to end up being the beginning of my education on martial arts in film. We’ve seen Seagal and Chuck Norris (in Expendables 2 only?) a bit, but have tended to shy away from what is, often, a straight-to-DVD genre through and through. After getting a thorough education on slasher films (which I plan on continuing), that seems like a logical place to look. The street cred is, not shockingly, low. The Rotten Tomatoes score wasn’t very low, and it came at a time when plenty of other terrible action films came out (like Bad Boys II). The claim to fame is mostly that this is the third in a series of films by the director which paired rappers with martial artists: Exit Wounds (Seagal and DMX), Romeo Must Die (Jet Li and Aaliyah), and Cradle 2 the Grave (DMX and Jet Li).

I’ll leave it there. There wasn’t any homework or extracurriculars to report on in this case.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Jason X Recap

Jamie

Jason’s back, Jack! It’s the year 2455 and Jason has been cryogenically frozen for centuries. Awakened from his slumber by some unwitting researchers from Earth II, will they be able to stop his murderous rampage before it’s too late? Find out in… Jason X.

How?! We open on Jason being held in the Crystal Lake Research Facility circa 2010. After numerous attempts to kill him with little success the scientists decide to cryogenically freeze him. Competing scientists attempt to prevent this so they can study his incredible power, but in the process set him loose. In a last ditch effort to incapacitate him, the good scientist tricks Jason into the freezing chamber, only to inadvertently freeze herself as well. Centuries later researchers from Earth II discover the scientist and Jason and bring them aboard their ship in hopes of reanimating them. When the scientist wakes up she is shocked to hear that they have brought Jason aboard but at this point he has already woken up and started his rampage (obviously). First the marines are sent to take care of him. Dead. Then the scientists try to dock with their main space station and escape, but Jason kills the pilot. Then they attempt to take an escape pod, but Jason scares a jumpy student to the point where she destroys the pod in terror. A literal robot assassin comes along, thinks she’s defeated Jason, but inadvertently creates an even more powerful super, future version of Jason (that actually happened). They are able to blow up the area of the shuttle that Jason’s on but he survives the vacuum of space and climbs back into the ship. Finally, after distracting him with a hologram simulation of Crystal Lake they are able to board a rescue ship, blow up the rest of the original ship, and Jason lands like a meteorite in a lake on Earth II. The End (or is it?… it is). This is pretty much the logical conclusion to the Jason invincible zombie storyline that they built the series on. He cannot die. Survives everything including the scourge of space. And if it sounded cool or interesting I assure you it’s not. It’s lame as shit.

Why?! Back to good old Jason Voorhees, killing machine. No thoughts or motivations except to destroy. Interestingly, like in The New Blood, there is a teacher character who has monetary motivation at stake. He wants to sell Jason to be studied for his regenerative abilities. This, of course, goes horribly awry. The rest of the characters want to get laid and survive.

What?! Obviously there aren’t a whole lot of products to be hocked in the year 2455, but there are seemingly innumerous terrible one-liners to be thrown away. One of these clunkers included a quick mention of the Microsoft Conflict, a particularly brutal civil war. I guess it’s funny because Microsoft is mentioned?

Who?! Interesting cameo by film director David Cronenberg who plays a creepy scientist intent on discovering the source of Jason’s super powers. Too bad he didn’t pop in his VHS copy of Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. Would have pretty quickly figured out it’s all due to a worm like creature contained in his body.

Where?! Boom. Gotta love the space setting. It really screams SciFi for this film that straddles both the SciFi and Horror genres. Important to the plot and as exact as we’re gonna get. A

When?! Takes place in the far future… future… future. It’s explicitly stated for expository purposes that Jason was frozen in 2010 and reanimated in 2455. It’s likely the farthest in the future we’ve traveled for BMT (although hard to say since we haven’t been noting settings for all that long). Not exact, but important to the plot. B

This film is rough stuff. Looks like shit, has a terrible script, and plays like a SyFy original. Shocking that it actually ended up in the Friday series and wasn’t abandoned. But I guess that’s the sweet allure of the intellectual property they were hoping to retain. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Jason X? More like Jason X: Leprechaun in Space! Combine a beloved horror franchise with expiring rights and ten years worth of lack of interest and what do you get? Almost no oversight apparently. This movie can be summed up in a single sentence: “fuck it, let’s just send him to space or some shit”. Let’s get into it!

The Good (Sequel, Prequel, Remake) – I think the one thing you can point to an potentially good is the fact that the film is hyper-self-aware. Jason is transporting around, everything looks super cheesy, and he basically smells premarital sex and drug use (quite literally, and one point being irresistibly lured by the actions as if by magic). If you find any rankings that place this installment anywhere but last or second-to-last it will be because of its tongue-in-cheek nature. Let’s go Sequel though! We left Jason in a new lake on Earth II 500 years in the future. I think you see him resurrected there, and, huge twist, he’s sent back in time to the middle ages! Finding himself caught up in a war between two ancient houses Jason emerges a hero leading a ragtag group of misfits in a battle for their (and his!) future! Jason X-2: King Jason and the Knights of Crystal Lake.

The Bad (Sklognalogy) – Everything. This movie is terrible. Terrible acting, terrible sets, terrible ideas, terrible dialogue, terribles kills, terrible effects, terrible ending. This movie is an abomination and doesn’t belong in any horror franchise. The turn to self-awareness and going all in as a parody doesn’t work because Jason is a real beloved character, one that cannot be so flippantly denigrated. If they wanted to make this movie (and they didn’t) I would have gone with a mock-Jason original film. But then again, that isn’t how you retain rights or make money. The analogy is, and this is going to come out of nowhere, but that garbage Wheel of Time television pilot from a few years back! A pure distilled last gasp effort for Red Eagle Entertainment to retain the rights to the Wheel of Time television show. Fuck you Red Eagle! (Good news, looks like Sony has the rights now)

The BMT (Legacy) – This film’s legacy is simple: it brings to an end the full 2017 watch of the original Friday the 13th franchise for BMT. “But what about Freddy v Jason!” you scream. Most places don’t count it as a pure Friday the 13th which is understandable. These last two taught me a lot about how slasher films lost their way in the 90s and, in many ways, the filmmakers who grew up with the franchises in the 80s managed to learn the wrong lessons when fashioning films in the 2000s. And I don’t know if we’ll ever see a true slasher franchise after Scream bit the dust a few years ago as well. Sigh.

And in a special installment of StreetCreditReport.com my definitive rankings of the ten Friday the 13th films!

  1. Friday the 13th – A lot more fun that you’d think and only hamstrung by attempting to preserve the twist of who the killer is. Solid slasher.
  2. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter – The most iconic good guy in Tommy Jarvis, good kills, best story with Jason
  3. Friday the 13th: Jason Lives – Brings back Tommy, and feels less cheap than most. Supernatural elements are introduced, but the best post-Final-Chapter.
  4. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood – Most formidable opponent for Jason, and contains the only scary bits of any post-Final-Chapter installment as well.
  5. Friday the 13th: Part 2 – Cheap, with poor character design for early Jason, but still fun kills with decent tension.
  6. Friday the 13th: Part III – The first I would call genuinely bad, only saved to a degree by being the most tongue-in-cheek of the early films.
  7. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan – Terrible film, but kind of fun idea that put Jason on a boat with nowhere to run.
  8. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning – Horrible slap in the face which tries to continue the franchise without Jason as the slasher. Not a good idea.
  9. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday – Slap in the face which again replaces Jason for the most part. New Line’s attempt to ruin a franchise succeeds.
  10. Jason X – Not a real movie.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday Recap

Jason Goes to Hell Recap

Jason’s back, Jack! When the FBI explodes our masked killer, they think he’s finally dead. They are wrong. Uh oh! His spirit possesses a new body and returns to Crystal Lake to be reborn. Can they stop him before it’s too late? Find out in… Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday.

How?! We open on an intricate fake-out. The viewer is led to believe that we are watching Jason, fresh off getting dissolved in the acid sewers of Manhattan, stalking a nubile teen at Crystal Lake. Psych! It’s an FBI sting and they straight up explode our favorite serial killer. However, once they bring the pieces back to a top secret FBI research facility an unlucky coroner is hypnotized into consuming Jason’s heart and becomes Jason! Bum bum bum! With this new body in tow Jason heads back to Crystal Lake in order to be reborn. In the meantime we jump straight into some family drama at Crystal Lake as Diana is attempting to reconcile her daughter Jessica with her baby daddy Steve. Just as Jessica returns to town to officially break it off with Steve (and reveal to him that he is a father), Jason returns and starts to wreak havoc, killing people and switching bodies at will. Turns out that Jason’s evil is rooted in a creature that lives within him and that, when killed, he must regenerate using the body of a Voorhees (what?). He can temporarily take over a body, but must switch bodies periodically to avoid decay (oh… ok). Also Jason can only ever be killed by a Voorhees. Unluckily and luckily Jessica is Jason’s niece (wait… since when?) so she is both Jason’s target and worst enemy. They of course learn all this from an eccentric bounty hunter who provides Jessica with a magical dagger to kill Jason with (for real?!). In the end Jason corners Jessica and Steve in the Voorhees old house where he is able to regenerate using Diana’s corpse. In a final epic battle Jessica stabs Jason with the magical dagger and sends him to hell where it’s hinted he finally meets Freddy Kreuger his… uh… arch enemy… I guess. New Line really did a number on this series.

Why?! By creating a totally insane explanation for Jason’s supernatural abilities they also provide a totally new motivation for him. Yes, he’s still a crazed murderer, but now he’s murdering in order to possess a new body so that he can survive to find a Voorhees to be reborn with. It’s quite the pivot. Everyone else is mostly just looking to survive. Very few do.

What?! No notable product placements in the film, but there are a couple easter eggs connecting this film to other horror films (other than being a rip off of The Hidden). The Necronomicon from The Evil Dead films is seen in the Voorhees house and the Kandarian Dagger from the same films plays a major role in killing Jason. Also there is a crate in the Voorhees’ basement that says “Arctic Expedition Julia Carpenter Horlicks University,” which is from the film Creepshow. They seemed to just reuse props for no discernable reason.

Who?! Nice little “scenes deleted” credit here to Survivor superstar Jonathan Penner. He was meant to play Vicki’s boyfriend David who gets killed by Jason (in possession of Josh) by getting his face smashed into a sink. Penner is also known to us as the writer of future BMT film The Bye Bye Man. He’s a big part of my life.

Where?! No matter your feeling on the merits of this film I think we can all agree that they totally fucked up the setting. It is just a fact that Crystal Lake and the Friday the 13th series are set in New Jersey. Well established FACT (shown on a sign in Part I). So when I see Connecticut license plates everywhere and signs for Westport, CT (where the director was born) I just find it disrespectful to the franchise. Is nothing sacred?! Why you gotta mess with what I love just to give a meaningless shout out to your hometown? C.

When?! It’s also well established fact that the temporal setting of this films is a disaster area and it’s better if we pay no mind to it. Given small indications of where this fits in relative to other films in the franchise it’s agreed that it’s probably set in the early 2000’s. But it’s all bullshit anyway. F.

This truly is a perverse corruption of the franchise perpetrated by New Line in their very first attempt at an entry. While I can’t blame a Friday fan or horror fan from enjoying what is probably the goriest and most nudity filled entry in the series, it basically throws everything that came before it in the trash. Not even for something good. They replace it with a bunch of reheated horror tropes and cliches. But I’m not the only opinion. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday? Well, New Line can go to hell! Boom, getting heated in here. So you are the new owner of a long running, eight entry, horror franchise looking to put a bit of pep in the old boy’s step, what do you do? Right, create a movie almost entirely bereft of the franchise’s beloved antagonist, over-explain his monstrous origins, and flip a huge bird to the fanbase … wait, no, that can’t be right. Let’s get into it!

The Good (Sequel, Prequel, Remake) – This movie in another world would be a niche cult classic among horror fans. Coming out of nowhere in 1993, the supernatural story with decent (at times) practical effects could have really gained a following (despite being a knockoff of The Hidden). But … that isn’t how it worked. Until now! Give me a Remake! Same story, except cut the bookends of Jason wandering around. As a matter of fact, add a horror element of the body-snatched murderers multiplying (so a zombie army is eventually developed) as well. It has a kind of alien-chest-burster meets zombie film, with the ultimate pay off being that they aren’t aliens at all, but rather demons summoned by a cult (or whatever). Bonus, it also served as a remake of The Hidden! Two-for-one! Two-for-one! I would call it Hell on Earth.

The Bad (Sklognalogy) – Woof. This is a slap in the face to Friday the 13th fans. This represents the second entry where Jason himself is almost entirely missing from the film (number 5, A New Beginning, is the other). It doesn’t feel at all like a Friday the 13th film, and it over-explains and ruins several aspects of the franchise. It is now explicitly set in Connecticut (what?), they somehow retcon a sister for Jason to want to kill (what is this Halloween?), and they introduce a much more explicit supernatural bent to the entire thing. If this wasn’t a Friday the 13th film I wouldn’t mind it. But it is and I hate hate hate this movie. And I can no longer avoid it: the Sklognalogy is Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (the sixth installment). I have seen this film, although we are likely to revisit at some point in the future to give it the proper BMT treatment. And basically it is the same: they ruin the franchise by making explicit a no-fun “solution” to why Michael Myers is the way he is. Don’t do this. It is unnecessary and cheesy.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – I think this will have strong legs for BMT. Friday the 13th is the first mini-challenge we’ve done, and I kind of knew the day would come where it well and truly crossed the rubicon from low-budget fun slasher to garbage. This is the one. I hate this film. I will never not hate this film. It could forever represent 90s horror catastrophes for me. I do want to note this guy, because the second entry there might as well be word-for-word my opinion on the movie. But for the most part Jason Goes to Hell is widely considered the worst or one of the worst of the franchise. It doesn’t get much play in a jam packed 1993, but its cred is from sinking a franchise. Thanks New Line!

I’ll leave the full blown Friday the 13th rankings for Jason X.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs