The Snowman Recap

You think you know everything there is about Harry Hole … wait, that name can’t be right? He’s called Harry Hole? Whatever, take the quiz!

Jamie

Harry Hole is a gritty Oslo detective struggling with alcoholism. When a string of murders start, he and his partner suspect it’s the work of a savage serial killer. Can they catch the monster before it’s too late? Find out in… The Snowman.

How?! Oh man, Harry Hole is such a mess. Waking up drunk, not going to work, and dealing with a break-up with his ex-girlfriend (as he struggles to continue to be in her son’s life). But he’s obviously the best goddamned police detective Oslo has, so back off! Anyway, he just needs a juicy new case to keep his head straight. Turns out this case is the work of a serial killer that his new partner is already familiar with. While Harry seems to find links between the women murdered and their personal life involving adultery and children out of wedlock, his partner becomes convinced that it’s the work of a prominent businessman in town. As they investigate each murder the killer seems to toy with Harry, sending him notes, setting him up to meet victims before they are murdered, and framing a suspect as The Snowman. This culminates in the murder of his partner by The Snowman as she attempts to further investigate the businessman. When Harry finally gets too close to the murderer it is revealed that he is his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. He has kidnapped her and her son and taken them to his childhood home. In a final confrontation The Snowman is killed by falling through the ice on a frozen river. Harry wins again just like he always does and always will in the many sequels this wildly successful film will have… jk. This was terribly boring and unsuccessful. THE END.

Why?! Due to the nature of this film this is actually difficult to answer. Harry Hole is solving the crime because he is a detective. Duh. Boring. But the killer seems to be killing women because they have affairs… or is it that they are having children out of wedlock… or is it that they are having children who never know their fathers… or is it that they are having abortions? It’s all a little murky because the killer’s MO seems to change depending on his mood. Oh yeah and he also kills random people to try to cover his tracks… whatever. It all stems from his childhood in which he was the product of a violent affair that resulted in the suicide of his mother.

What?! No major product placement or plot devices so I’ll use this space to talk about the adaptation from the book, which I read years ago. I commend them on the changes they made to fit the story to a cinematic release. It’s pretty common now to take a story with a built in fan base and adapt it straight. They certainly didn’t do that here. At the same time almost all the changes made were for the worse or at least more confusing… that’s all I got.

Who?! There is a very special thanks to Truls Kontny, head of the Film Commission Norway, for obvious reasons. I’d rather reiterate the weirdness of Val Kilmer in this film. It’s understandable but still shocking that not more was made of his involvement in the film. He obviously has been significantly impacted physically from his illness and it was at times hard to watch him struggle through his scenes. Hate to say they should have recast his part but… yes, they probably should have.

Where?! Norway, duh, they gave a special thanks to Truls Kontny after all. If they had kept the book’s ending of Harry hanging off the iconic ski jump that overlooks Oslo then this would get an A… as it is it is just heavily set in Oslo but able to be set elsewhere. Like, if this film was made 20 years ago it would have been set in Alaska and starred Sly Stallone who wouldn’t have been an alcoholic but rather addicted to health and fitness. B+.

When?! Harry buys concert tickets as a birthday present for Friday, November 21st. We see him go to the concert so all the events of the film occur on or around that day. Weird thing is that you have to jump to 2020 or go back to 2014/2008/etc. to get a November 21st on a Friday. I guess I would think maybe this took place in 2008 or before since the book was set in 2004 and written in 2007… or they didn’t really care much. B+.

The murkiness of the motivations is part of the mess that is this film. Not only does it sometimes seem like parts of the film are missing, but it also seems to mix and match it with portions of the book. This messes with the internal logic of the film because while we see some motivation of the killer derived from childhood trauma (slightly different than in the book), the rest of the murders aren’t changed significantly enough to match the new motivation. Problematic. It’s actually startling that this film was released in this state. Should have thought about reshoots maybe. It did no one any favors and seems to have harmed the reputation of a young director in the process. And I didn’t even mention Val Kilmer. Egad. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! When I am shaken awake by a terrible dream, sweating in the cold moonlight, staring out into the clear London night, I tremble, my mind running a thousand miles per hour over the anxieties to come upon morning. My heartbeat slowing, I whisper to myself “At least I’m not the person who had to edit The Snowman” and fall soundlessly asleep. Let’s get into it.

The Good (Sklognalysis) – I like Fassbender and many of the side actors in the film. The vistas are beautiful, what more could you ask for? Well … we’ll get to that. But if this movie was a screensaver it would be just magnifique. Unfortunately it’s actual intention is to entertain, sooooo … A tiny Sklognalysis to end it. The rumors surrounding this movie are basically that the production started before the director even got on board, they couldn’t afford to film in Norway as long as necessary, and thus only about 85% of the script was actually filmed. This is what I would call an uneditable film. The material wasn’t there to fashion a story out of the pieces, it is an editor’s nightmare. Given the condition of Val Kilmer (his voice still recovering from throat cancer and thus totally dubbed) it is pretty obvious they were not allowed to reshoot … it is just bonkers. Just, absolutely incredible stuff. Once the Bad Movie Twins Media Empire is launched we’ll get to the bottom of these mysteries.

The Bad (Sklogcabulary Quiz) – Val Kilmer is completely dubbed in this film and barely appears in it. I needed to come up with a catchy description of what this kind of represented and settled on:

Star Poser (n.) – An actor hired to bring star power to a film who instead, ironically, ends up being the weakest part.

Val Kilmer, in this film, is a Star Poser. It is no slight to Val Kilmer, but someone had to tell him he just couldn’t do it. His voice is shot and the voiceover is just … you couldn’t find a voice actor who could kind of sound like him? It is just weird. I’ve covered it several times, but the film is just put together very very poorly. They must have just had nothing to work with because the result is kind of indescribably bad.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – The legacy I think is that this is kind of a rare example of a film I watched juuust after the Razzie awards were given where I thought “huh, kind of surprising this didn’t get a nod”. Most of the time we hit the big targets, so it is pretty surprising we hit something just a little too late to put it in our current year worst at the Smaddies Baddies. And street cred? Woof. Fourth worst at both AV Club and Variety. What more could we ask for really?

I did not read the book this was based on, but I can say with assurance this was very very Norway. Continue to check out the evolving Map Streets Map Alright! as we add more European countries Sklog-packing across Europe.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Advertisements

The Country Bears Recap

 

If you think you are the world’s number one Country Bears groupie, then you need to get on this quiz. Jamie, naturally got 100% so … good luck.

Jamie

Beary feels like he just doesn’t belong and so runs away to find his place in the world with the help of his heroes The Country Bears. Will he be able to get the band back together, save Country Bear Hall, and discover the meaning of life before it’s too late? Find out in… The Country Bears.

How?! Beary Barrington seems just a little different. That’s because he’s a bear and his family are humans. Thinking that he might fit in better elsewhere he runs away to get advice from those he identified most with: The Country Bears. They are of course a band of animatro… I mean, totally real bears who used to be one of the biggest bands in the world. After mauling several civilians to death (one can only presume), Beary arrives at Country Bear Hall to find that it is about to be demolished by the evil Reed Thimple. Oh no! Beary suggests that the band get back together and tots put on a huge concert to earn the necessary funds to save the hall. A series of misadventures and oddly placed dance and music numbers ensue, culminating in the band reuniting, but getting in a big fight and deciding not to play the concert. A distraught Beary realizes that the being a family doesn’t mean you have to look alike, but that it’s the love that’s inside that counts. Awwwww. Rushing back home he is greeted not only by his loving family but also The Country Bears who have been inspired by his courage to play the big concert after all. Double awwww. Just at that moment though the country bear bus (and several members of the band) are kidnapped by Reed Thimple. This lasts approximately five seconds before Beary and his family bust them out, rush over to Country Bear Hall, and put on the big (clearly overpriced) concert to earn the $20000 they needed. THE END.

Why?! Like many kids’ films this is primarily about feeling different but realizing that that’s OK. Beary wants to feel like he belongs somewhere, most importantly with his family. Only once he gets a taste of human flesh (probably) and sees that even a band (which seems so tight knit) might have their problems does he realize that fitting in is more about love than looks. Everyone else just wants to get paid and laid. They are a world famous band after all. The Country Bears hooking up with groupies is probably on the extended DVD.

What?! Is this a product placement for itself? Like was this not supposed to get people all jazzed about the Country Bear Jamboree and want to see them up close and personal? If this was a major blockbuster a la Pirate of the Caribbean would we have Country Bear World instead of Harry Potter World? Also funny reading up on the attraction and realizing there are literally like a thousand bears in the show. We really only got the… bear minimum (AY-OH).

Who?! Big Al is like a Planchet, but awesome and everyone loves him. He talks real slow, loves his grass, and puts one over on those that mean to do harm to The Country Bears. Love you, Big Al. More importantly there are like a trillion musician cameos in this film. The most prominent of those are Jennifer Paige and Krystal, who both get solo songs to sing (and were apparently never heard from again). Elton John, Willie Nelson, Don Henley, etc. etc. etc. all appear as themselves in a Making the Music type documentary shown at the beginning and end of the film.

Where?! Tennessee, baby! It’s pretty obviously TN, but I had trouble proving it for most of the movie. Luckily there was a close-up of a license plate and some police officer uniforms that confirmed it. C+.

When?! My best guess here is September 2001. This is based on a table calendar on a desk in an office store (so not an exact science). For obvious reasons I would expect that the events of the film took place in the beginning of the month… unless 9/11 didn’t happen in the human-bear world that the film took place in… which is real weird to think about. C+.

I was actually a little surprised how much I didn’t mind this film while at the same time realizing that it is bonkers insane. The entire film takes place in a world where humans and talking bears coexist and everyone just understands and accepts this. Bears are just sprinkled here and there throughout the world. If this weren’t a kids’ film I would say there might have been some allegory to race in America, but no… right?… wait… right? Once you get past that it’s pretty much a harmless kids’ film with some pretty elaborate song and dance numbers performed by C-list musicians. Real weird but not totally bad. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Sometimes, when you feel like you just don’t belong, there is only one thing to do … watch a kids movie about how to feel like you belong. Spoiler alert: it turns out you belonged the whole time! Thanks, Country Bears! Let’s go!

The Good (Sklognalysis) – The movie is extremely linear, which makes it pleasant enough at times. Basically Beary Barrington doesn’t feel like he belongs with his human family, so he goes to live with his heros the Country Bears, who he helps to save Country Bear Hall … the end. Literally that is the entire movie. And if you were to make this movie, maybe you could make it better, but at least they can say you couldn’t streamline it any more than they did. They got some decently solid comedic actors to be in this. I wanted to pop a little Sklognalysis here mainly because we here at BMTHQ started to turn around a bit on watching kids’ movies for BMT. This is mainly because of the B-story in these movies, like the hostile corporate takeover in Nine Lives, which are endlessly fascinating, why would a kid want to watch that? Well, here you see a kids film without a B-story at all. It is so linear that they couldn’t even really squeeze in a short section where Mr. Barrington is whistleblowing on his logging company or whatever. Is this good? I think so, it kind of reminds me of Air Bud, where even the B-story (Air Bud’s original owner comes and tries to get Buddy back) is really a part of the A-story, and makes for a more pleasant and clear watching experience. But it certainly makes the movie less fun as well. So kind of a mixed bag. We’ll keep you up to date on our evolving kids’ movie thoughts.

The Bad (Sklog-quel) – The musical acts are not the worst musical acts I’ve seen in a movie. … Er, well … beside one:

My god, is it weird that I’m only mainly concerned about where the guitar player came from? The animatronics are disquietingly creepy (as one reviewer put it). Walken as the bad guy is just weird, and leads to some poor directorial decision making (like the triple take smashing of a model Country Bear Hall:

which is just weird). Diedrich Bader pulls double duty, but his live action performance in particular is very not good. For the Sklog-quel I think I want a remake. Basically, the suggestion that the bears kind of inexplicably just live in the real world (and people seem to think they are indistinguishable from humans?) is very problematic for me. Let’s see a movie where the bears kind of live in the woods in a secret community. Make Tobolowsky the manager in a logging company and Walken his eeeeevil boss who wants nothing more than to destroy the Country Bears home. The concert is more of a coming out party, to make the world aware of the Bears, and the main character is merely Tobolowsky’s (human) son who discovers and decides to help them save their home. I’m just imagining the Ewok Village of a set they would have built for this and am enamored with the idea. Would it suddenly make the movie much better? Maybe, maybe not. But for me it extracts one of the more perplexing choices they decide to make, which is having the Country Bears just kind of … around.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – The legacy I think is all part of BMT coming home to one of its original genres, the kids’ movie. If kids’ movies continue to grow in popularity with the Bad Movie Twins, then so shall the legacy of trailblazers like The Country Bears. The StreetCreditReport.com is also pretty solid. Mentioned in at least a few worst of lists in a year marked by some truly dire options like Ballistic Ecks vs Sever. It is mostly dismissed as a kids movie, but still finds some play here and there.

Now how is it as an adaptation … actually quite good. All things considered what do you do with The Country Bears? You make a big animatronic romp. And given that requirement they dish in spades, I mean … there are a ton of animatronics. I think I give it a B+. If it was actually a good movie you’d be seeing Pirates level of adaptation grades there.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Batman & Robin Recap

Jamie

Batman is back, Jack! The new baddies in town are Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, and Bane. Can Batman and Robin work together (perhaps with a little help from Batgirl) to take them down before it’s too late? Find out in… Batman & Robin.

How?! While Batman and Robin struggle to learn to work as a team a new bad guy has risen and is stealing all the diamonds in sight. His name is Mr. Freeze and he requires his body to be kept at a super low temperature at all times due to a lab accident. The diamonds he steals both power a cryogenic suit he wears and fund his continued research into curing his wife of MacGregor’s Syndrome. In a wild coincidence Alfred has just come down with MacGregor’s Syndrome and is steadily dying (if only someone was doing some research into curing that!). His niece Barbara comes to visit and basically disappears for most of the movie. At the same time a researcher in a Wayne Enterprise funded botany lab is accidentally turned into a powerful plant-human hybrid called Poison Ivy who vows revenge on Bruce Wayne. These two baddies converge on a trap laid by Batman at a fundraiser featuring the showing of a large diamond. While Mr. Freeze attempts to steal the diamond, leading to his capture, Poison Ivy demonstrates her ability to pit Batman and Robin against each other through the use of pheromones. After Poison Ivy breaks Mr. Freeze out of Arkham, Batman and Robin learn to trust each other again and go after her. Remember Barbara? She’s back and is now Batgirl for some reason. Great. They all converge on Poison Ivy’s hideout and take her out like it ain’t no thang. They then go after Mr. Freeze and totes crush him too and save Gotham from getting frozen. Having captured Mr. Freeze they then remember that he can cure Alfred and they’re like, “What up, give us the cure,” and Mr. Freeze is all like “OK.” They then cure Alfred and everyone laughs and they ask Barbara to stay because she is a vital and interesting character for the series. THE END.

Why?! Batman and Robin are same old, same old. As for Batgirl, she dropped out of school and is trying to earn money to free Alfred from his servitude before he dies. Only after he accidentally reveals Batman’s secrets to her does she understand the importance of his work and decide to take part (not really for justice or anything). Poison Ivy wants to kill everyone basically because she wants Mother Earth to fight back against the human race that is killing it. Finally, Mr. Freeze is the weirdest character we have in the series because he’s not really insane. He steals the diamonds because he needs them for his suit and research. It’s actually pretty confusing. Just help the dude. He’s sick and just wants to do valuable research. He doesn’t even want to kill Batman until Poison Ivy tricks him into thinking Batman killed his wife.

What?! Another Batman film, another case of an almost product placement. When Poison Ivy seduces Batman and Robin at the charity auction they get in a bidding war ending with Batman pulling out the official Batman credit card. It should have of course been a Visa or MasterCard or something. But no. It just says Batman on it… wonder what the bank makes of the fact that Bruce Wayne keeps paying Batman’s credit card bills.

Who?! Coolio appears in this film in a comically minor role. It may be my favorite example of a musician-turned-actor in the history of film. Also notable is Vivica A. Fox playing the hot love interest (?) of Mr. Freeze for exactly 12 seconds before unceremoniously being ejected from the film. It’s actually unclear why she is even in the film at all.

Where?! Gotham, duh. But in seriousness Gotham doesn’t have a location in this iteration of the Batman adaptations. This is pretty clear from the license plates that simply read “Gotham” at the top. In the comics there have been a number of hints dropped that it’s in New Jersey, which is apparently made explicit in Suicide Squad. Exciting. F.

When?! While Batman Forever was an amazing settings film, this film did turn out to purposefully obscure when this took place as well. To the point where an invitation to an event is clearly shown with no indication of where or when the event takes place… terrible planning. F.

This movie is terrible, but not nearly terrible as everyone seems to make it out to be. It is pretty obviously rushed and put together in a slapdash kind of way. This is best demonstrated by Batgirl who is forgotten for long stretches of the film in what was apparently unhappiness by the studio at her having gained some weight and them forcing Schumacher to cut her scenes… which is really just sad. This and the excessive use of quips and puns by Mr. Freeze is what seems to have set it apart in people’s minds when thinking about bad films. But I was somewhat shocked at how coherent it was given all that. Yes it strayed pretty far into the goofy side of Batman, but not really much further than Batman Forever already had. I truly blame the quips… and maybe that time that all the bad guys played hockey and then Batman and Robin did too and then the NHL had to fold (I think). Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! What do you get when you cross a deluded director trying to make a live action cartoon, and the Dark Knight himself? The highest BMeTric of all time, that’s what. Let’s go!

The Good (Pop Quiz Hot Shot!) – The film is shockingly coherent given its reputation. It is also ludicrously fun, way beyond it has any right to be. I think the bright spot across the entire Burton-Schumacher series is that the performances are usually great, and Uma, Clooney, and Arnold all do rather well (despite the puns). And without further ado: Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

  1. When Poison Ivy and Bane interrupt the charity bachelorette auction they are dressed as what animal?
  2. When Robin is frozen at the end of the opening heist how long does Mr. Freeze claim Batman has to thaw him to prevent his death?
  3. Barbara Wilson (Batgirl) comes to Gotham after dropping out of what fictional school in England?
  4. When Alfred contracts MacGregor’s Syndrome he composes a cd detailing Bruce Wayne and his secret identity to be delivered to his brother in India. What is Alfred’s brother’s name?
  5. Both Robin and Barbara Wilson enter a underground motorcycle street race. Robin, naturally, has a Robin painted on his helmet, what is painted on Barbara’s helmet?

A tougher one this week which I think is indicative of a film with a rather simple plot line. Just trivia, but I hope someone who had recently finished the film could get two or three, the last two are tough for sure.

The Bad (Homework Sklog-signment) – The writing is, as usual, sloppy. The movie is too cheesy for its own good. The sick Alfred storyline is just not a great one, worst personal issue Bruce Wayne goes through in a series which is kind of excellent at exactly that. But … it is hard to judge, but it is easier to explain with a Homework Sklog-signment. I watched all four Burton-Schumacher films and I have to say: the Burton ones are kind of messy, dark, and not very fun. They are good, especially the second, but not head and shoulders above the others like I expected. Forever is actually fine if you can get past Lee and Carrey acting like idiots. And this one, while terribly cheesy, is actually a lot more fun than I remembered … but it is hard to tell how much watching this film multiple times when I was ten has warped my mind. It is a danger of re-watching films for BMT. If I saw this movie clean I probably would have been rolling on the floor laughing, but I knew every beat before it happened, so nothing surprised. Nothing was shocking. I think it is a problem.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – This could, eventually, mark a turning point for BMT, possibly for the better. I think there is a clear issue with watching a movie we’ve seen before. It distracts from the analysis. Perhaps we need to consider recruiting others into the fold for a guest review? We’ll have to have a think on whether this is a problem or not. I’ll just leave this here if you ever thought to doubt the cred on this one.

I’ll forgo the detail in the adaptation grade to lighten things up, but I think it is a C+, too silly given how Batman evolved in the 80s basically. Worse than Forever, but, given how Batman is just straight murdering people in the first two, not bad relatively to the Burton films. The answers to this week’s quiz are: (1) Gorillas, very impressive costumes actually; (2) 11 minutes, which was later referred to in the climax of the film as the time it would take for everyone in Gotham to die as well; (3) Oxbridge, an intentional mix of Oxford and Cambridge; (4) Wilfred Pennyworth; (5) A very creepy looking angel.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Batman Forever Recap

Jamie

While Batman struggles to guide a young orphan, Dick Grayson, whose parents deaths he feels responsible for, Two-Face terrorizes Gotham and a new nemesis, The Riddler, rises. Can he stop the baddies before it’s too late? Find out in… Batman Forever.

How?! Let me set the scene: Batman is still the coolest cat in Gotham. He’s slaying it with a smoking hot Dr. Chase Meridian (both as Bruce Wayne and as Batman) and torching Two-Face daily. Unfortunately even the worst bad guys get lucky and Two-Face is able to kill Dick Grayson’s family in a botched bombing attempt. So while Bruce Wayne takes in and struggles to connect with the loner orphan who reminds him so much of himself, he allows for a much more competent bad guy, The Riddler, to rise. Using Two-Face’s criminal enterprise (he’s otherwise useless), The Riddler is able to take over Gotham through the sale of a 3D TV type technology which is wildly popular (in what is the least realistic aspect of the film). This technology not only turns the denizens of Gotham into mindless consumer zombies (not sure I’m picking up on this metaphor, wish it was a little heavier) but supplements the smarts of The Riddler, making him the smartest man in the world. After deducing that Bruce Wayne and Batman are one and the same The Riddler kidnaps Chase and baits Batman (and his new sidekick Robin) into a final showdown… which Batman immediately wins. Oh and Two-Face dies in an embarrassing way because his character is an embarrassment. The End.

Why?! Batman exists because of his parents’ deaths. Same with Robin. Plain and simple. They are out for justice. Two-Face wants to kill Batman because he didn’t prevent acid from being thrown into his face… which seems a little vain. I understand that it’s not fair that Batman didn’t save you but you gotta deal with it man. The Riddler wants to kill Bruce Wayne because he dismissed him as a crazed lunatic when he worked at Wayne Enterprises… granted Wayne was correct about that, but still.

What?! The original Batman franchise is notable for stepping as close to product placement without actually getting all the way there. Case in point, in the beginning of Batman Forever Batman tells a concerned Alfred that he’ll “get drive thru” for dinner. I waited with bated breath to see the Batmobile zoom through a McDonalds drive thru and snag a greasy bag of snacks. Instead… nothing happened. I could have sworn that I remembered Batman zooming through a drive thru. Turns out that was tied into an actual commercial that aired on television and not in the film itself. Didn’t want to soil the Batman brand I guess.

Where?! Gotham, duh. See: recap of Batman & Robin. It’ll tell you all you need to know. F.

When?! You would think this would be an F, since almost everything is obscured in this series, but it’s actually a Secret Holiday Film Alert! That’s right! This film takes place on and around Halloween as evidenced by The Riddler and Two-Face ambushing Alfred wearing Halloween costumes and pretending to be trick-or-treaters.

This entire series is much worse than I remembered it being. Two-Face is pretty easily the worst character in the entire series and it really dives deep into the camp with The Riddler given that the rest of the film is played straight. But while the highs didn’t seem as high as maybe I used to think as a kid, the lows also didn’t seem as low. The entire Burton directed/produced series took Batman to an extreme that I don’t think aged particularly well, but also can be appreciated for the ambition and vision that it had. Just doesn’t work anymore.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! This year we have decided to hit up some of the old faves from our youth to really give them the proper BMT treatment. Batman Forever has it all, Jim Carrey with ridiculous orange hair, Jim Carrey in a sparkly green jumpsuit, Jim Carrey in a sparkly silver jumpsuit … honestly, Jim Carrey off-the-wall performance was really the only thing I remembered about this film. Let’s get into it!

The Good (Pop Quiz Hot Shot!) – I liked Kilmer in this, it was kind of shocking trying to evaluate all of the Batmans across the series. They were all actually kind of good in their own way and for what they were asked to do. At least Carrey’s performance is insane, otherwise Tommy Lee Jones’ horrible Two-Face would have dragged to movie completely down. There is a lot to like in this movie, I think it is actually not that much worse than Burton’s two films despite what critics say. Mainly it is just that the Burton-Schumacher Batmans as a whole are quite a bit worse than I remembered them being. Trying out a new segment called Pop Quiz Hot Shot! which will posit a few questions, try and play along at home!

  1. Nicole Kidman’s Dr. Chase Meridian (great name) gives Bruce Wayne a dream doll that is meant to protect his dreams. From which country did this doll come from?
  2. Throughout the movie Bruce Wayne is haunted by the memory of his parents’ wake in which he sees a leather bound book sitting atop a table in Wayne Manor. What book is this and/or what writings did it contain?
  3. Throughout the film you see Two-Face toss his famous coin into the air. What is displayed on both sides of this coin?
  4. Prior to becoming Robin, Dick Greyson discovers the batcave is hidden behind a locked door near the main staircase in Wayne Manor. What did Alfred claim was behind this door earlier in the film?
  5. While trying to decide on his super-villain persona Edward Nigma rejects four possibilities before settling on The Riddler. Name any of these four options.

If you watched the film recently I think the first four questions are possible. The fifth is tough and is the only one I probably wouldn’t have gotten myself. Check below to see how you did!

The Bad (Too Sklog; Didn’t Watch) – The movie is just kind of written sloppily, the plan by The Riddler and Two-Face is probably the best scheme in any of the four Burton-Schumacher Batman films, but it manages to basically make no sense because of how it is presented. Two-Face is a horribly designed villain played lazily by Jones. In trying to brighten up the dingy Gotham in the Burton films Schumacher loses some of the charm of the series (even though I do think he made the series more fun in the process). Somehow the worst final fight of a series which had exactly zero satisfying villain fight scenes. Another new segment! In Too Sklog; Didn’t Watch I’ll try and highlight a single portion of the film that really embodies what makes this a great bad movie. For Batman Forever it is definitely the scene where Two-Face meets The Riddler:

Watch these five minutes of film … it tells you everything about what makes this film both ludicrously entertaining, and just complete garbage at the same time.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – I don’t think this has legacy beyond maybe being a great example of the fleeting nature of BMT. This film wasn’t BMT qualified a month ago, and now it is, this is legit the first time I’ve seen that happen for sure for a film that wasn’t just released. Batman Forever somehow escaped street cred, although that is likely because, as this list points out, it is so disposable people barely remember it. Jones makes a list for worst performances by good actors though. And let’s just say, some people didn’t give Forever as much slack as I did in this rewatch.

I’ll leave a small Adaptations Grade here: oddly, among all of the Burton-Schumacher Batman films this is probably the best adaptation. First, unlike the Burton films Batman isn’t running around violating his one rule and killing people. Second, it gets that dingy gothic look while also being garish and colorized when it needs to for the villains. For this one I think I would give it a B. I’ll leave the homework assignment for the Batman & Robin recap.

The answers to this week’s quiz are: (1) Malaysia; (2) His father’s journal, Bruce Wayne was upset knowing his father would never write in it again; (3) The statue of liberty’s head, scratched out on one side; (4) The silverware closet; (5) The Puzzler, The Gamester, Captain Kill, and Question Mark Man.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Marmaduke Recap

Jamie

It’s a big dog in a new city when Marmaduke moves from Kansas to LA. Can this dog navigate the cliques at the local dog park, help his owner get the bg marketing deal done, and maybe get the girl? Find out in… Marmaduke.

How?! Marmaduke is loving life in Kansas with his family, the Winslow’s. How do we know? Why he talks directly to the camera of course. Great! When the patriarch of the family, Phil, gets a new high-powered marketing job offer in Cali the family is pretty skeptical, Marmaduke most of all, but takes the risk anyway. Phil is tasked with getting a big deal done with Petco to market an organic dog food nationwide and is pretty stressed. Meanwhile Marmaduke finds himself relegated to the “mutt” clique at the dog park and is harassed relentlessly by the alpha dog Bosco and crushing hard on the local hottie Jezebel. With the help of his friend Mazie, a rad dog surfing competition, and a staged fight with his cat friend Carlos, Marmaduke breaks through with the cool crowd. Hooray! At the same time Phil continues to struggle with his work-life balance. This is further thrown out of kilter when Marmaduke throws a huge rager and ruins the house. Sent to the back yard as punishment Marmaduke runs away thinking he’s just a bad dog  and no one loves him anymore. A distraught Winslow family goes off in search (his garbage plot point of a job be damned) only to find Mazie and Marmaduke sucked into a sinkhole (for real). Jumping in after him (like an idiot), Phil almost dies but I guess it’s cool because he doesn’t and saves Marmaduke instead. A video of Phil saving Marmaduke goes viral, Petco loves it and gives him the big deal, and everyone lives happily ever after. THE END.

Why?! At its essence the film is a high school comedy (about a giant gangly dog that literally doesn’t fit anywhere) meaning that the motivation is primarily to fit in. Marmaduke wants to be part of the cool crowd and most of the plot centers on how he goes about accomplishing that. Only at the end does he realize that friends are what truly matters, not being cool. The rest of the plot and motivations are meaningless kids film garbage to the highest degree.

What?! The obvious candidate is Petco, which is the name brand associated with Phil’s big marketing deal all the kids can’t wait to hear more about. Enough with the cute talking puppies! How will Phil figure out how to expand a regional brand to the middle of the country?! Gah!

Who?! The film is Fergalicious… what’s Fergalicious? Well apparently its definition is “make them boys go loco.” I certainly went loco once I found out that Fergie from our beloved Black Eyed Peas voiced the temporary love interest of Marmaduke. Not sure why the rest of Black Eyed Peas weren’t represented in the voice cast. I was less loco about that.

Where?! Caaaalllifffoorrrnia. Early contender for Location as a Character award for next year’s Smaddies Baddies. This is about California all day and every day and even has a scene where Marmaduke watches an episode of The OC in preparation for his big move… it was terrible but also reminded me how much I liked The OC so I was OK with that. A.

When?! I believe Marmaduke exists outside of time. Really there were few spots to even look for a date as we were mostly dealing with dogs that have little use for time. I didn’t see one, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t one. Still, it currently stands at an F.

Not unexpectedly this movie is a pile of trash meant to get kids in the theater (but who cares what they think or care after than. Also welcome to hell, parents.). Much like Nine Lives, this boasts a ridiculous storyline that aims to interest kids in… pet food marketing? It really begs the question why kids films often have plots that are more boring than a car commercial. What isn’t questioned is our wisdom in bringing kids films back in the BMT fold. They are ridiculous and good for a bunch of bad movie tropes that I sorely missed: 1. Fart jokes 2. People getting hit in the balls 3. Inexplicable music videos 4. Things that are mildly racist. Children are basically a bunch of terrible people laughing at the misfortune of others and it can be fun sometimes to harken back to when we too were blissfully ignorant of how terrible we are as people. Not so fun when the film is Marmaduke though. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Oh what a life I live. A wonderful family, a good job, and, of course, a fun and exciting hobby to keep me occupied. Watching bad movies is a breeze. I wonder what we are watching today … Marmaduke? … Welp, it was a good run boys, pack it in. Sigh, why can’t I quit you BMT? Let’s get into it.

The Good – I liked Judy Greer, and William H. Macy in this. And the voice cast is off the chain. Other than that this movie is a big pile of dog poo shoved forcefully into my face. So, no, I refuse to discuss anything else “good” about this film. As somewhat of a departure I’m actually going to skip a game here so that I can write a longer remake in the next section.

The Bad (Sequel, Prequel, Remake) – Pheeeew giant doggie. Let’s see, the story line is a classic A/B kid’s combo. The A story is that of Marmaduke, a dog from the Midwest just trying to find a place in his new home of Los Angeles. The B is that of a man trying to build a better life for his family as the marketing director for a dog food company. Why kids would have any interest in B I have no idea. The animated animals look terrible, like really bad. The jokes aren’t funny. The story makes little sense. The film ends with an aggravating sequence of Lee Pace saving Marmaduke and everyone living happily ever after. But I have to Remake it. I have to. In my remake the fundamental storyline is roughly the same, Lee Pace is a marketing director for a dog food brand who is trying to woo Midwestern customers. He loves his dog Marmaduke, despite the fact that he never listens to him, and within the inner monologue it is revealed that Marmaduke is basically afraid of everything and that is why he never listens to his owner. This also makes him an outcast at the dog park: he is a gentle giant who tends towards fear, and that gets him bullied. But Lee Pace’s new client loves Marmaduke: he is so goofily large. They insist that Marmaduke be in the commercial. This interferes with Marmaduke’s social status because the alpha dog in the park is the top dog actor in Los Angeles. Combine this with the fact that Marmaduke runs wild after trying to be coaxed into a trick during the commercial shoot and this dooms Lee Pace’s chance at making a good impression with his boss. Marmaduke, sad about his owner being mad at him and his friends all feeling betrayed by his sudden celebrity, decides to run away. When Marmaduke sees his friend-dog get swept away in a river he jumps after her realizing only his bravery can help his friend. Stuck in the roiling river Marmaduke is afraid and doesn’t know what to do, but there is his owner yelling for Marmaduke to trust him and to “come”. Marmaduke loves his owner, and takes the plunge, trusting that following his orders will save his life, which it does. Lee Pace convinces the dog food company that featuring “real” dogs in their ads is what will convince Midwestern owners to buy their food. The dog park rejoices because now all of the dogs, not just the beautiful purebreds, get to share in the Hollywood dream. The End.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – This piles in with things like Furry Vengeance, Nine Lives, and Dudley Do-Right for sure. It is probably best paired with Nine Lives because of how they use a very not-kid friendly B-plot to propel the story illogically forward. Someday I think we’ll kind of cut through our issues with kids’ films and really get to dig into them a bit, and Marmaduke, being objectively bad and having that B-plot adults can latch onto, would be right up there as some of the best-worst we’ve seen. As for street cred, I think kids’ films can kind of duck under the fray a bit. But Marmaduke did make the AV Club list for the year, so that is actually pretty impressive all things considered.

As far as adaptations I’m not sure what to say. The original strip is just kind of about a big dog … so they nailed that I think. Not to toot my own horn, but I think the remake I proposed would have done a bit better job at least highlighting Marmaduke being too big and uncooperative for the owner to handle, which … is kind of all the strip is about really. I would give the adaptation a C-, it is fine, it is passing, but it doesn’t even really get the one thing it needed to get right right, so I have to punish it for that.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

The Women (2008) Recap

Jamie

When her perfect world seems to crumble all at once with the loss of her job, husband, and best friend, Mary Haines has to figure out what it means to be her (what it means to be a woman?) to help put back the pieces. Can she do it before it’s too late? Find out in… The Women.

How?! Mary Haines has the seemingly perfect life. A good job working in fashion for her father, a super successful husband, a wonderful daughter, and a group of supportive best friends. But when this all goes down the tubes with the discovery of her husband’s infidelity with a curvaceous aspiring actress and the loss of her job, she finds herself lost in the woods. Wallowing in self-pity and undecided on how to proceed in her once happy marriage, she eventually discovers that maybe she needs to figure out what she wants out of life before any of these things can be fixed. She starts a new company, rediscovers the meaning of being a mother and best friend, and finds happiness. Only then can she attempt to fix what had fallen apart with her husband. This very simple and straightforward story is of course told over two hours, which seems impossible. Oh and not a single male actor is seen or heard from in the entirety of the film… which is bonkers and actually pretty deftly done.   

Why?! Interesting question. Mary’s motivation throughout the film is her struggle to decide what to do about her husband’s infidelity. She starts out trying to ignore it (the advice given to her by several older women in the film), then she kinda gives up on everything, and finally on the advice of a (randomly and conveniently placed) successful independent women she starts her own company and sets out on her own. In this she realizes that the underlying reason for her husband’s infidelity may not totally be his fault. By not really knowing who she was herself, and thus not being able to give all of herself over to her husband, how could they have built a truly successful marriage? And so she is able to make a decision in the end: give it a shot with him and if he can love her true self then perhaps they can find true happiness in a second chance.

What?! We are on a role in terms of major product placements. This film is a walking advertisement for Saks Fifth Avenue. Almost the entire first half of the film takes place in the store. This all hits a crescendo when a character leans and very seriously tells a child that “no one hates Saks.” Gotta say, that line itself got me mighty close to hating Saks. The film is also heavily sponsored by Dove. We get some noticeably placed hand creams throughout along with a postcredits advertisement for a short film “The Women Behind The Women” which was part of Dove’s Real Beauty campaign.

Who?! While we’ve been on a role in terms of major product placements, I can’t even remember the last Planchet we’ve had. Doesn’t change here. Do want to point out that Mick Jagger apparently was a producer on this film, which seems weird. It’s only made weirder that IMDb also claims he’s a producer on a 2004 short film titled The Women… alright Mick. We get it.

Where?! This is basically as close to being an A+ film without having the title be The New York City Women or like, I don’t know, Sex and the City or something. It’s all about Saks Fifth Avenue and as such is all about living it up in the cit-ay. A.

When?! All times forever really. The story jump from summer to fall to Halloween (which plays an unexpectedly large role in the plot) and finished on Xmas. I hesitate to say that it’s a Secret Holiday Film Alert because this film kinda flows through time as if time is not a concept that it understands, but it’s still pretty solid. B.

Will I do it? Can I say it?… This film is just not that bad (It’s not that bad! It’s not that bad!). I think it suffered through some rough directing by a novice filmmaker that they unfortunately tried to patch over with some weird choices in post, but this film had something to say and had interesting people saying it. It occasionally got lost in some extracurricular screwball elements (looking at you random birth scene at the end), but I did not mind this film and I thought it did a nice job telling a story of the complications of love and marriage in the age of successful women. Here’s hoping our next film is similarly good. Let’s see, that would be… Marmaduke… … … alright. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Bust out that gallon jug of white wine, time for Patrick and Jamie to have a girls night in. With nary a man to be seen, we’re dishing on life, love, work, and play. Ain’t nothing going to stop us from travelling with Meg Ryan and the gang as they teach us what it really means to be …  The Women! Let’s go!

The Good (Sklognalogy) – The first hour or so of this film, I thought, was quite good. I liked all of the characters, I liked the story they were going after: when infidelity strikes a perfect (upper-class …) life, what is the expectations of a modern woman? The film gets lost in the middle, but the conceit of not once showing a male (non-newborn-baby) character works super well in the context of this film. I’m pretty shocked with how this film was treated by the critics, and I can now totally understand Ebert’s review where he gave it three stars. This is a 2.5 / 4 film, just not that bad (it’s not that bad! Except for the whole part in the middle where it was). A natural Sklognalogy is the other ensemble piece that came out that year: Sex and the City. One could forget that the original actually got okay reviews and the show that preceded it was at the time cutting edge. This is more familiar and comfortable than that, but I think both illustrate where we were at with movies directed towards women at this point in time.

The Bad (Sklog-cabulary Quiz) The film has a sequence that appears to take place over the span of several months where Meg Ryan is going to like a canoeing retreat, and her daughter is dressing up … all of that doesn’t work. The film gets seriously lost in the woods after they blow up the question of how the modern family woman is expected to act in the face of infidelity, an interesting question in the context of a film being a remake of a film/play from the early 20th century. There is also something fascinating about romantic comedies where they almost need to function in a world where monetary problems don’t exist. All of the characters in this film are fabulously wealthy. Thus all of the problems focus solely on their relationships. I’m going to try my best to fashion Sklog-cabulary Quiz about this:

Ab Initio Genre (n.) – A genre reduced to first principles, stripping out all characteristics that distract you from the purpose or function the genre serves

I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a real thing, but it is like how you can have a comedy where the focus is really only on the jokes (not even concerned with making sense), or an action film where the action itself is the focus, no romantic lead, no comedy. Hard Sci-Fi csan fall into the category as well. The Ab Initio Romance film takes every other problem out of the film: no money problems, no personal crises, all relationship, all the time. And for romance the ab initio approach seems quite popular … we’ve seen like three “upper-class Manhattanites falling in love” romance films in the last year. It is pretty amusing. They might as well be called Rich People Problems.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – I don’t think this film is much of anything as far as bad movies go (perhaps something with the large female cast? The issue is it really isn’t that bad!). It could make an appearance in the beginning of 2019 if I remember that I actually liked the film for the Smaddies Baddies film that wasn’t that bad award. Considering how strong of a bad movie year 2008 it isn’t a terrible surprise there isn’t much as far as StreetCreditReport.com, although it did get a small mention in this Vulture poll. The first Sex and the City film came out the same year as The Women which is pretty bizarre.

I ain’t reading a play, and I’ve been too busy to watch the original The Women from the 30s (the films from that era are always like two and a half hours long). I know I’m failing you guys in the adaptations cycle. I promise to be better as the year goes on. I promise. Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Ouija Recap

Jamie

Laine Morris is struggling with the apparent suicide of her closest friend and ropes a group of teens into attempting to contact her through a mysterious ouija board. Instead they unintentionally awaken an evil spirit. Can they subdue the spooky ghost before it’s too late? Find out in… Ouija.

How?! When Laine Morris’ BFF forever Debbie dies in an apparent suicide she is shocked. Laine is tormented by the fact that she didn’t get to say goodbye, so when a mysterious Ouija board shows up she decides to communicate with Debbie one last time. Her friends and her gather together in Debbie’s house and think they’ve contacted her, only to realize too late that they’ve instead communicated with an evil spirit (Disclaimer: Hasbro does not support the use of its board games for communicating with evil spirits). Oh no! While the spirit kills them off one by one and grows stronger they race to solve the mystery. The find out that the spirit was a little girl murdered by her mother and they need to find her body and free her spirit to put her to rest. In a totally original twist that we definitely didn’t just see in the Ring franchise, it turns out that this was all a trick and they actually make the spirit even stronger. Double oh no! In a final confrontation Laine does battle with the spirit over a rousing game of Ouija while her sister is able to destroy the body. Phew. They did it… or did they? Bum bum bum. THE END.

Why?! The impetus for a bunch of high schoolers to gather together and play a little Ouija is entirely due to Laine wanting to have one last goodbye with her best pal Debbie. All the other teens are basically like “We’re only doing this because you are clearly struggling to process this tragedy and we’re here to help you.” Unfortunately this empathy gets them all killed. The spirit is just evil, having been driven mad through being used as a medium in seances. The spirits she communicated with told her to do terrible things and boy howdy does she.

What?! You mean besides the lame board game that this is a (really bad) advertisement for? Doesn’t seem like a super fun addition to game night. That is unless you awaken a spooky ghost who’s tormented only by its own enthusiasm for board games.

Who?! The editor Ken Blackwell makes an appearance in the film as Internet Expert… whatever that is. I don’t remember why there would have been an Internet Expert in the film. It also seems unnecessarily cruel that he had to show up on set and do a scene when they were also giving him a pile of useless film and making him edit it over and over with different stories and reshoots added in. Almost like the film was created as a form of torture for Ken Blackwell.

Where?! This film is set in California. It just obviously is. However I couldn’t make out the license plate clearly on my burn of the film so technically unknown. My theory is bolstered by the fact that the prequel, set in the same house as this film, is very explicitly set in Los Angeles. D.

When?! With how closely they seemed to keep the setting hidden (or more likely just didn’t care much about it), I thought for sure I would have to do without any inkling of when this took place. Not the case! In the age of cell phones you can always count on the possibility that a character looks at a spooky text and the date and time are in full view. That is the case here where we are informed that it is in fact March 8th. The cell phone date is the temporal setting equivalent to a license plate. Weak but precise. B-

You can tell by how little I wrote for the recap that the film is very basic. Pretty much as basic a ghost story as you can get. Take The Ring and strip away everything of substance and you might end up with something like this. It is also incredibly poorly made. Clearly taken apart, reshot, and put back together you can see where characters were inserted or changed throughout the story. It is actually so bad that it makes The Bye Bye Man look like a masterpiece in comparison. And that’s quite the feat since Bye Bye Man was hilarious. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Hasbro wants those Marvel bucks (who doesn’t?) but their big greed is now your big problem. They need a hit to start their board game universe off right! Well … horror films are easy peasy and cheap as shit. Call up the cheapest director available, what could possibly go wrong? Let’s get into it!

The Good (Sequel / Prequel / Remake) – Uh … the movie is better than you would expect of a cut-to-shit horror film based on a board game. That is really really really it. For the good version of Sequel / Prequel / Remake I kind of want to highlight Ouija: Origin of Evil. So, the entire underlying story of Ouija (a mother dabbles in channelling ghosts, but her daughter succumbs to the evil they find in their dark magic) was completely invented during reshoots. You can kind of tell the movie knows that the background story is interesting, but they can’t really do much with it because they just didn’t have the material to fill the space. So, after the modest success of the film, they just made the obviously more interesting prequel. And it worked! The movie got 82% on Rotten Tomatoes and is apparently great! That’s crazy impressive stuff. I cannot wait to watch that film and see what they did with it, I’ll try and report back when I do.

The Bad (Tril-Oh-Jeez) – The acting is quite bad, all the way down to bad horror film all-star Douglas Smith from recent BMT The Bye Bye Man. The kills look silly and cheap. There is not a single moment in the film that is scary. The twist is obvious (don’t help the ghost girl idiots, you just got Ringed!), and it is clear it only comes about because the movie was cut to pieces desperately trying to get something other than an F cinemascore. As for the Tril-Oh-Jeez how about the don’t-help-the-little-girl-ghost trilogy with Rings, One Missed Call, and Ouija. Can we talk about these dummies and how they deal with ghosts. For reals … don’t help the ghosts. Oh, you have to help the child! You have to help her stop the mother! No. No you don’t. The mother hasn’t done shit for the last like 60 years. Why do you think all of a sudden it is your job to solve all this anyways? Obviously, helping the girl is what it wants. Obviously she is going to ouija your ass the instant you help her out. Y’all dumb. Don’t help the ghosts! … don’t help the ghosts!!

The BMT (StreetCreditReport.com) – Paired with The Bye Bye Man in close proximity the film has that Douglas Smith one-two punch. The brand of so-not-scary-it-is-actually-funny horror film would have probably bored me a year ago, but I find them somewhat fascinating now. Like … how do you manufacture a scare from a disparate set of not-scary shots I wonder. It has to be just impossible. Like … a loud sound and shake the camera a bit? Brutal. As for StreetCreditReport.com … amazingly there is nothing. You have a bunch of horror nerds complaining about how terrible the film is, but there is a somewhat surprising lack of acknowledgement in the media. I remember even we balked at bothering with the film at the time. Our mistake.

As far as the Adaptation is concerned? I mean … Ouija isn’t a board game. It is barely a board. So what can you really do with that? Honestly, if I were to give one decent compliment to the film, I would say they did a pretty good job making Ouija seem like a thing people do and think about. I could have done with a bit more ghost conjuring perhaps, a few more potent Ouija scenes, but otherwise as far as adapting Ouija is concerned … this was a good start. And they ended up making a very good sequel apparently! So I’ll give it a B. Solid prep for what ended up being a surprisingly adept adaptation in the prequel all for something that had no business being adapted into a movie in the first place.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs