Manos: The Hands of Fate Recap

Jamie

Michael and Margaret are on vacation but become lost in the desert. As night descends they stumble on a ranch where they take shelter only to find strange things afoot. Can they escape the clutches of the evil master, Manos, before it’s too late? Find out in… Manos: Hands of Fate.

How?! Michael, his wife Margaret, their daughter, and their dog are on their way to a ranch for vacation. After taking a wrong turn in the desert they stumble upon a ranch maintained by a satyr (who looks more like a normal person with giant legs than a mythical being) named Torgo. Asking if they can stay the night Torgo warns them that his master, Manos, won’t be happy but Michael insists that they stay there until they can find the ranch in the morning. Almost immediately creepy (but mostly suuuuuppper boring) things start to happen. When Torgo takes a liking to Margaret he goes to his hibernating master and tells him that he has enough wives and this one is his. He incapacitates Michael and imprisons Margaret only to have Manos awaken and plan all of their deaths. After a brief argument on what to do with Margaret and the child they agree that Torgo and Michael must die. Torgo is sacrificed, but when they go to collect Michael and his family they find that they have run into the desert. After a brief escape Michael and Margaret agree that the desert spells certain death and they return to the ranch to ultimately be taken prisoner by Manos for all of eternity. The End.

Why?! Our “heroes” just want a place to stay for the night and directions to the ranch. After Manos reveals himself they only want escape. As for Manos he just wants more wives and people to sacrifice. In fact we get very little insight into what, who, and why he is (but why would we… it was made by a delusional person who didn’t know how to write or make a movie). The only other character is Torgo and he’s just a sad satyr with giant legs that hops about hoping to find a wife. Sad.

What?! Not really sure what to highlight here, so I’m just not going to. This film was basically amateur hour made up of 95% awkward pauses. It’s a film that deserved to disappear forever, but instead lives on in infamy. There is no what in the entire thing. Only a distinct lack of what.

Who?! Michael is played by writer/director Harold P. Warren. He was in the amateur theater scene of El Paso and bet a local screenwriter that he could make a horror film on a low budget… I guess he lost that bet.

Where?! The location is not given specifically, but obviously filmed in El Paso and the location certainly had the feel of the Texas desert. But that won’t cut it for BMT! D.

When?! A film of this level transcends time and space. It is unknowable in so many ways, so to expect any insight into the exact date is far far far too much to expect. F.

So that’s about it. Manos pretty much was as expected. It may be one of the most boring experiences of my life. Almost the entire thing is just people staring at each other not saying a word. In the end I’m not surprised that MST3K made this film famous. Not only can they so effectively use all the dead space in the film, but they can play on how much the film messes with your head. Throughout the film you wonder what the point of the entire thing is and it drives. You. Crazy. By itself though? Just mind melting. Do not recommend and this is part of the reason we generally avoid films like this for the main entries of BMT. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! What do you get when you cross an amateur filmmaker / full-time weirdo with a bet he refuses to lose? A boring piece of garbage. Let’s get into it!

The Good (Sequel, Prequel, Remake) – I mean, it is obviously nothing, the film doesn’t make sense or anything. The only really good thing you get out of it is the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode which is often listed as one of the (if not the) best episode of the original run. During that episode the evil scientists end up apologizing for subjecting Joel and the robots (who are often weeping about how boring the movie it) to Manos: The Hands of Fate. It is honestly the only way to make it bearable since they interject during extended sequences of silence. If we were to go Sequel I think I would rather they just do another Mystery Science Theater 3000. Literally, just make the new crew do the same episode in a weird seance-like ritual to resurrection the MST3K of the past. I think it could be fun just because the movie has now been dissected so much since MST3K injected it into the collective consciousness 30 years ago.

The Bad (Sklognalogy) – Everything obviously. The acting is ridiculous. The entire thing doesn’t make sense. The lighting is awful. The story is garbage. The acting is ridiculous. The idea is creepy. The story is trash, … wait where was I? Oh yeah, Manos: The Hands of Fate is awful. Don’t watch it (although maybe just watch the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version and call it a day). The Sklognalogy is strangely obvious: Plan 9 From Outer Space. The same kind of surreal nonsensicalness. The director who is delusional and is making schlock almost as a compulsion. The stilted crazy acting. Weird choices, etc. etc. etc. If Warren, the director / writer / star, had any clout he might have been able to continue making films like a crazy person. Luckily he didn’t have an clout outside of the insurance industry.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – The legacy will be merely that we watched a movie we kind of had to watch at some point for BMT. The film, like Plan 9, is mostly boring and actually no fun to watch beyond marveling that such a thing could be created. The street cred though is up the wazoo. There aren’t many reviews online, so perhaps I’m over-blowing it, but this film is, I think, considered among the top 5 worst films ever made. The Room and Plan 9 From Outer Space are for sure there. Then there would be some debate about more modern films like Mac and Me, Ballistic Ecks vs. Sever, etc. But I think it would be hard to box it out of top 5. But that isn’t a good thing necessarily. Bad movies are bad. We want fun bad movies. This is not a fun bad movie. It is a bad movie. Remember that.

I’ll leave the discussion about pre-1980s bad movies for The Bye Bye Man recap, and just end there.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Geostorm Recap

Jamie

After the world’s weather went crazy the nations of the Earth, led by Jake Lawson, banded together to build a weather manipulation satellite system. Years later this system goes haywire and Jake is sent to fix it, only to find that it’s not a bug after all, but rather a scheme for world domination. Can Jake save the world before it’s too late? Find out in… Geostorm.

What?! We open on an extended voiceover explaining that in the near future the world’s weather began extreme fluctuations resulting in worldwide death and destruction. In an effort to curb the damage the world’s nations came together to build a complex satellite system led by a rough and tumble scientist, who don’t take no guff from nobody, named Jake Lawson. This inability to take guff sends Jake Lawson to the unemployment line and the satellite system marches on without him. Years later things start acting kooky (sorry for the technical terms) and Jake is pulled back into action and sent to space in an effort to find and fix whatever bug is causing the issue. In the least realistic aspect of the film Jake insists that there aren’t any bugs in the system (sure bro, whatever you say) and yet it becomes immediately clear that the weather catastrophes are not in fact caused by a bug at all but rather a virus that has been planted in the system. Needing the presidential kill codes to reboot and flush the virus, Jake’s brother Max rescues the President from a superstorm in Orlando and escorts him to Kennedy Space Center. They are able to upload the kill codes but not before self-destruct is initiated on the space station. Uh oh! Jake stays behind to make sure everything is rebooted and proceeds to climb aboard a satellite and ride it back to Earth an international hero. Wooooooooooooo! Geostorm! The End.

Why?! Action films provide the best motivations. Not for our main characters or course (Jake Lawson is only concerned with quelling the slanderous claims against his entirely bug-free complex satellite system), but for our vast criminal enterprise hell bent on world domination. Basically the Secretary of State has devised a plan whereby he got a lackey on the space station to upload a virus. This virus will ever so slowly begin the systematic destruction of the world in order to make it seem like an accident. The aim is to wipe out most of the world, including all those that stand in the way of the Secretary of State’s ascension to the presidency, and lead to total domination. What he didn’t plan for was Jake Lawson, international hero, stepping in and saving the day… What’s that? That actually was explicitly in the plan… get international hero Jake Lawson to take the blame and die in space. What a terrible plan… he’s Jake Lawson! International hero! He obviously would be the last person you’d want up in space trying to stop you… literally the only person. In fact wouldn’t you just go ahead and kill him before even starting the plan? I already just fixed your plan. Step 1. Kill Jake Lawson.

What?! After a long day of stopping a conspiracy to destroy your reputation for bug-free coding (and also destroy the world) there’s only one thing that will quench that thirst for justice: a nice cold Coors Light. It’s the taste of the Rockies and the choice of international hero Jake Lawson.

Who?! Two weeks in a row for fake US Presidents. This time it’s Andy Garcia’s President Andrew Palma. While it seems like President Palma is well on his way to reelection (before a Geostorm so rudely interrupts his DNC speech #DemsInDisarray, amirite?) he probably has to reevaluate his vetting criteria for his most valued advisors. I mean, having most of your cabinet wiped out in a conspiracy set in motion by your own Secretary of State? Not a great look.

Where?! Great settings film. Not just because we spend most of our time in space, DC, and Florida, but also because we so specifically spend such a long time in Orlando for a fake future Democratic National Convention. This after we spent the entirety of Jaws 3D in Orlando. Having quite the BMT moment. I give it a solid B.

When?! Little point of contention here. It’s hard to get a good idea of exactly when everything takes place for a film in theaters. I think they said things started going crazy in 2019 and in three years we built the satellite system (going off of my memory here, so might be slightly inaccurate). When we jump forward we are close to the ten year mark for the system. So we should be somewhere around the 2032 election? We’re also going through nominations for that election so must be summer 2032? This is all +/- 4 years. C+ if I go back and confirm all this from the DVD (Spoiiler Alert: I’m not going to be doing that).

Overall, the film is not well made. It was clearly rewritten and reshot (unless they meant for the beginning to just be a series of expository scenes that are super boring. If so then they just made a bad movie from the jump) and made the start of the film a mess. Once we get to space and the Geostorm starts things picked up and a lot of the scenes in space were shockingly beautiful. Funny enough there was one aspect of the film that everyone I know who saw it couldn’t help focusing on: Max Lawson a.k.a. Jim Sturgiss’ haircut. The most catastrophic disaster in the entire film, but I’ll let Patrick explain a bit more. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! GEOOOOOSTORM. What will cure those summer boxoffice blues? A disasterpiece from the maker of Independence Day (I call it ID4). GEOOOOOSTOOOOORM in my face! Yeah. What’s that? It’s been delayed by a bit? That isn’t so bad, I mean … oh, two years? It was delayed by two years and stars Gerard Butler. I mean the co-stars though … what’s that? The co-star is the guy from 21 with a terrible hair cut? Uh … you know what, I have a refrigerator to defrost, I’ll see you later, tell me how it is. Let’s get into it!

The Good (Seuqel / Prequel / Remake) – The space visuals were stunning. When I say the first one I legitimately wondered exactly how cheap it had all gotten, is this just going to be normal now? No more hilarious spikey comet set from Armageddon? If you squint you might not hate this movie because it is so dumb. This time I think I want to see the Sequel. Why? Because think of what the sequel would actually involve. Another almost Geostorm! How could such a thing happen? In this case I think we revisit Jake Lawson, but this time it’s … President Jake Lawson. The world owns Dutch Boy, and all is peachy keen until (uh oh!) it isn’t! Storms they are a-brewin’, and things are looking dire. How could this happen again!? What a twist! It was Jake Lawson causing the issues after he realizes the world had begun to recover from humanity’s ecological ruin and scientists are about to recommend that Dutch Boy be shut down completely! Wait, that sounds shaky, why would he want to keep Dutch Boy around? Because he thinks the instant humanity gets pulled back from the brink of disaster we’ll fall back into our disastrous ways (probably true). Anywho, he turns heel and audiences cheer in Geostorm 2: Jake Lawson Strikes Back.

The Bad (Crimes Against BMT-anity) – The entirety of the story on the ground was absurd. Gerard sleepwalks through the film. The bad guy is so obvious and mustache twirling-ly eeeeevil that it is almost sad when the finale comes into play. It is also aggressively stupid. Which I have decided is both a good and bad thing. It is cut to shit and at times just makes no sense, complete with super hero hacker who makes nearly anything possible and then is promptly forgotten during the finale. And now, for a new game! In Crimes Against BMT-anity I identify a specifically perplexing part of a terrible film. In this case (was there ever any doubt?) it was Jim Sturgiss’ amazingly distracting haircut. Are we to believe he dates an incredibly attractive secret service agent for three years and she never once asks who his barber is any why he still uses him? Or more likely makes him stop cutting his own hair. The most ludicrous part of the story bar none. Congrats Jim Sturgiss’ haircut! You have a non-zero chance of getting a nomination for Worst Screen Couple at the Razzies this year.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – This has some serious cred potential. It is one of those movies that will kind of vaguely live in the collective conscious of a generation because it’ll just be like always on Netflix or something. Out of all of the bad movies of 2017 it is the one I can imagine people talking about along the lines of “you know what was a decently fun movie everyone thought was terrible at the time …”. An Armageddon for another generation. It was one of the worst reviewed films of the year, although it did manage to avoid an incredible sub-10 on Rotten Tomatoes (which seemed quite possible for a time). Still, for both legacy and street cred this I think measures up very well among BMT Lives.

A quick BMT Theater Review and I’m out. I went with the much posher Fulham Vue this time around and it was a pleasure indeed. And given the movie not a wary eye was cast at the lonesome creeper catching a movie on Tuesday night. There were some noticeable guffaws when something particularly ridiculous happened, but for the sparsely populated theatre (as the Brits call it) the tone was expectedly muted. Can’t say I don’t miss the raucous crowds I would expect at something like Transformers 11, but it was pleasant enough. B-. Nice theater, muted crowd.

And with that our BMT Live season is complete. A highly successful season I think marked by a patience we didn’t exercise last year much to our own chagrin.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

First Daughter Recap

Jamie

Samantha MacKenzie dreams of being just another girl heading off to college. One problem, she’s the daughter of the President. While attempting to blend in she falls for the hot RA down the hall. When it turns out he’s actually a secret secret service agent her world is turned upside down. Can she gain her independence and get the guy before it’s too late? Find out in… First Daughter.

What?! We open in 1952… or at least the movie seems like it in a totally wholesome gee whiz kind of way. Samantha is a sheltered young teen ready to leave for college, but unlike most teens she’s also the daughter of the President. When she heads off to the University of Redmond in the middle of election season there is a lot of pressure for her to not screw up, but the only thing that Samantha cares about is fitting in (and the secret service agents aren’t helping). After a particularly embarrassing overreaction at a frat party Samantha insists they tone down her security and she seems to get her way. At the same time she meets cute the new hot and steamy 40-year-old RA down the hall. After discovering that they both belong to the Maggie Grace Running Fan Club:

 Samantha is smitten and decides to bring her new beau home for a fabulous ball. While there she discovers that this 40-year-old man is not actually a college student (whaaaaaa?) and is actually a secret secret service agent. Devastated she decides to go on a bunch of dates and act the fool to make him jealous. Predictably this ends badly and she’s pulled from school to focus on her dad’s reelection. Everything is basically shit for a while, but after she valiantly plays the good daughter and Prez Mac is reelected she is rewarded with a one way ticket back to school sans all the pressure, minus a few agents, and plus a long distance secret service boyfriend. The End.   

Why?! The may actually be the most wholesome movie I’ve ever watched. In fact everyone almost seems like they were cast with the question “would this person seem out of place in a film from the 1930’s?” in mind. Samantha’s only motivation is to feel normal. She’s been First Daughter since she was fourteen and just wants to go off to college and find herself. She’s wide-eyed and naive and as a result just seems to want to sip malts down at the soda shop with her new beau. Unfortunately there is a larger national motivation of her dad’s reelection that throws a monkey wrench into all of it. It’s interesting that the movie actually has her motivation take a back seat to the election in the end without anyone really saying, “wow, that really sucks for her.” It seems like they expect her to accept it and she does so valiantly.

What?! There is only one thing that Samantha MacKenzie reaches for after a long day of running around with a hot secret service agent avoiding the droves of paparazzi on her tail. A nice cold Diet Dr. Pepper. Mmmm, there’s nothing diet about it.

Who?! 4x the Who?! action this week as we have singer Amerie doing a serviceable job in the major role as Samantha’s roommate. We also have a fictional POTUS alert, with Michael Keaton as Prez Mac. We get a several cameos with Jay Leno, Joan Rivers, and Vera Wang all portraying themselves. Finally, Michael Kamen, an Oscar nominated composer, got an “In Memory” credit after passing away during production. That’s a lot of BMT magic right there. Bah dah bah bah bah. I’m loving it.

Where?! The majority of the film takes place in Redmond, CA at the University of Redmond. These places are of course made up and it’s always interesting to have a fake university in a film that is meant to be on par with institutions like Georgetown. Some parts of the film also take place in Washington, D.C., but not enough to get an A. B.

When?! Takes place at the start of college (end of August) and finishes at the Inauguration Ball after her father’s election. So the film takes the entire fall and into winter. Gonna bump up the grade as well for a clear Halloween scene where Samantha gets too drunk and makes a fool of herself while dressed in a skimpy costume. Not a secret holiday film, but close. B-.

As for our mockbuster Friend this week, Transmorphers is pretty much the most useless thing I’ve ever watched and I almost exclusively spend my time watching terrible movies. It’s not even dog poo in our faces. It’s like they computer generated some dog poo and then tried to push it into your face and claim that it was just as gross and that you totally experienced dog poo in your face. But you didn’t. At least a real dog poo in your face makes you feel something. This film made me feel nothing except sorrow that I was still watching it. I can assure you we will not being watching any more mockbusters any time soon. They are terrible. The Asylum should be ashamed. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Teeny bop romantic comedies are all about three things: a hot guy to bring on the romantical storylines, growing up and learning some valuable and wholesome lessons, and, of course, a relatable young starlet. And what is more relatable that being literally the daughter of the President of the United States!? Well … at least two movies thought so, let’s get into it!

The Good (Sequel, Prequel, Remake) – I thought how they handled her life in the university was perhaps somewhat realistic (all the way down to her just bouncing to go campaigning for months without a second thought). I’m also pretty shocked Amerie hasn’t really been in anything else, she was better than you would think. Besides that basically the only bright spot was Michael Keaton as the President. Let’s get a Prequel! Like I could see him being the same character from Gung Ho! working his way up from the auto industry, through the reinstated union system. We open on his election campaign for the governor of Pennsylvania where he is struggling to get go-get-em attitude across to the down-and-out workers across the commonwealth. Abandoning a fundraising event, he walks anonymously through a rural coal mining town when who should he meet-cute but a young bar owner Melanie who shows him a thing or two about what the locals really value. After a day or two his ruse falls apart as his campaign absence begins to make national news. Can he get back into Melanie’s (and Pennsylvania’s) good graces? Gung Ho! 2: First Daughter 2 … huh, we’ll have to work on the name, that makes no sense.

The Bad (Sklognalogy) – Katie Holmes cannot run, it is not quite Here on Earth level, but it isn’t far off. The “twist” is so obvious I literally couldn’t figure out whether I had seen the movie before. I was like “wait, yeah, now I remember, he’s a secret service agent … wait, I thought I had seen Chasing Liberty not this … does that have the same twist?!”. It really sinks the movie. In the current political climate it is also bonkers that she takes her friends on a joyride on Air Force One. Like, that is thousands of taxpayer dollars dude, chill out on exploiting your father’s position. I feel like the relatively recent Down to You with Julia Stiles is the Sklognalogy here. Just how silly it is, and the collegiate setting I guess. Mainly because the real analogy is Chasing Liberty, which we have not seen. [Editor’s Note: Wait… we haven’t seen Chasing Liberty? I feel like we’ve watched it… or maybe it was just us watching this movie.]

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – I don’t think this has a legacy unless it turns out Chasing Liberty is basically an identical movie. In which case it would have serious double feature potential. As far as StreetCreditReport.com, it it likely tough given that the mid-00s were chock-full of terrible films. And indeed, besides a smattering of IMDb lists, this film just gets lost among Ella Enchanted and Christmas with the Kranks it would seem. Only so many places for a terrible light-hearted comedy (more like light-on-the-comedy, amirite?) to go I suppose.

Finally, a blessedly short word about our Friend Transmorphers! This was a Mockbuster friend and as one would expect from a cheap intentionally-bad knockoff, it was so-intentionally-bad-it-is-actually-somehow-worse. Ten minutes into this film I thought to myself “you know, I could probably just turn this off and pretend I watched it. Jamie would never know”. I almost walked out of BMT … it was a devastating moment. Existential even. BMT has been so good to me over the years I would never dare question its role in my life, but somehow Transmorphers made me question the unquestionable. How DARE you Transmorphers you big ol’ pile of shit. How dare you. Mockbusters are out! You hear me Transmorphers!? ONE STRIKE AND YOU ARE OUT …

Cheerios, 

The Sklogs

Clan of the Cave Bear Recap

Jamie

After an earthquake kills her mother a Cro-Magnon child, Ayla, is rescued by a clan of Neanderthals. While most accept her into the clan, she is tormented by the future leader, Broud, and struggles to abide by the strict customs of the clan so alien to her own. Can she overcome the evolutionary gap before it’s too late? Find out in… The Clan of the Cave Bear.

How?! We open on Ayla’s mother getting sucked into the earth due to an earthquake. Left to fend for herself she wanders about, eventually getting attacked by a lion and surviving only long enough to be found by a Neanderthal clan looking for a new cave. The leader of the clan wants to abandon the child, but eventually relents when Ayla leads them to a perfect new cave. She seems destined to be one of their own. Over the years Ayla is slowly accepted into the clan, except by the jealous future leader Broud who resents the freedom that Ayla seems to have. While she bucks the strict cultural dogma of the clan by secretly learning to use a sling, Broud takes pleasure in beating her and forcing himself upon her, eventually leading to her pregnancy. Soon thereafter she is caught using the sling when she saves a young boy from a wolf attack. Exiled for a month in the harsh winter there seems to be little chance of her survival, but through her adaptation skills and ingenuity she gives birth and survives the winter alone (seems unlikely, but whatever). After her return, her place in the clan only grows, much to the chagrin of Broud. In the end Broud is officially named leader of the tribe whereby Ayla is exiled and forced to forge her own way in the world. This injustice causes an irreparable rift in the clan meant to show how unwillingness to adapt is the eventual downfall of the Neanderthals. Science! I know that synopsis sounds uneventful, but I assure you it’s even less eventful than I described. The End.

Why?! Motivations in the film are few and far between. As in the book, the film spends most of its time speculating on the lives of Neanderthals. The day to day struggles of Ayla are rooted in her having a different sense of self and concept of gender roles due to differences in the brain of Neanderthals compared to Cro-Magnon humans. This is of course based on science… JK LOLZ. It’s not. The Neanderthals can see into the past and the future and shit with their crazy Neanderthal brains and are basically magic. If there is any motivation at all it’s for the clan to survive and Ayla to fit in. The clan cannot adapt to her feminist ways and her exile presages the decline of the Neanderthals as a dominant species on Earth. Boom roasted, Neanderthals. You might be magic, but Ayla can do math. You donzo.

What?! There is nothing more I would have loved than to see product placement in this film. Would have made up for a somewhat bizarre but mostly boring BMT film. But alas, no quick draughts of Coca-Cola before the big musk ox hunt and I’m unfamiliar with the brands of cocaine from the 80’s.

Who?! We get a true celebrity appearance in this film. During a large clan gathering there is a bear fight. The bear is played by none other than Bart the Bear, one of the most famous animal actors ever. We’ve seen him before in On Deadly Ground and we’ll see him again in Meet the Deedles. The funniest rumor is that he got enough votes to be nominated for an Oscar for the 1988 film The Bear, but rules precluded animals from receiving nominations, so it couldn’t go forward. I guess the Oscars figured out what the officials in Air Bud couldn’t.

Where?! The book is pretty clear exactly where this all takes place (Ukraine), but the film obviously doesn’t have a good way of talking about the setting. Doesn’t even really try. But ignorance is no excuse for the law. Jamie’s law of settings is ironclad. F.

When?! Likely takes place in the Late Pleistocene period when the Neanderthals were heading towards extinction. Impossible to get any more accurate than that. D-.

I could not resist the allure of reading the smash hit novel that this film was based on, even if it was a 500 page feminist novel from the 80’s. In the end it was a pretty slow go. I liked the characters and it was certainly interesting to read the speculation on the life and biology of Neanderthals (although a lot of the magic memory stuff she did was more than laughable). At the same time I don’t think the message and construction of the book aged very well. It’s primarily an allegory pertaining to the second-wave feminism of the 60’s and 70’s, which makes the life and culture of the Neanderthals oddly modern feeling and yet the message dated. This actually penetrated the film as well where a major complaint by reviewers was how modern everything seemed. Overall it was a pretty straight adaptation with some events merged together and small changes near the end… but largely faithful probably to its detriment. Patrick?  

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Have you ever had a dream where things are happening around you but it is all kind of fuzzy and unfocused and when you wake up you can’t remember it? When you are awake and that happens to you it’s called a Clan of the Cave Bear. Let’s get into it!

The Good (Prequel, Sequel, Remake) – You can appreciate why the book exists and what the author was trying to do. She had researched the time period and decided to make a fictionalized version of this world she knew so well. The movie basically has some decent sets and settings. Other than that though … let’s remake it! So, the one good thing really was the setting. So we get back to Vancouver, start shooting those vistas! No sign language, as a matter of fact I want this to be action packed! Hunting, the empowerment of young women, a strong independent lead living in Clan of the Cave Bear. I’m going to go ahead and cut out the multiple rape scenes as well, and let’s go ahead and give the main villain his comeuppance and the lead a happy ending, and … What’s that? Yes, I said multiple rape scenes, it is … not fantastic. You know what? This is irredeemable, I don’t even want to watch my own remake!

The Bad (Sklognalogy) – First, this movie is stone cold boring. It is effectively an art piece showing in painful detail the machinations of caveman sign language. Second, there are, as I said, multiple uncomfortable rape scenes and in general the struggle of the lead is neither particularly fulfilling nor ultimately redemptive. They stayed a bit too close to home in creating a villain and then never bothering to punish him, and creating a hero and never bothering to save her. Dare I say the film comes across as somewhat nihilistic even. It takes place before any familiar religion so … alright, this is getting a bit heavy, but let’s say by the end I just kind of felt horrible for early human beings more than anything else. Finally, and maybe it is a matter of a brutal filming schedule or demanding make-up process, but some of the actors look a little zonked out. I don’t want to speculate about drugs or anything else, but I literally laughed out loud a few times as the actors looked around with unfocused deadpan looks on their faces. It was weird. I’m going to go with an old favorite of BMT for the Sklognalogy with God and Generals. This 4+ hour epic is basically just an exercise in filming accurate portrayals of Civil War troop maneuvers. And it is as exciting as it sounds. The one thing I thought it lacked was detailed sign language though.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – Legacy will be the same as Gods and Generals in which I might remember it for being so boring. Unlike Gods and Generals though it didn’t have a comically long running time going for it, so it is more likely just remembered as a more-bad-than-BMT film of this year. I’m kind of stunned, but the film has almost no cred. No Razzies (an Oscar nod even) and nowhere really mentioned it as a particularly bad film. It just kind of got forgotten. Hey, look at that … we all agree.

You can read the review of Air Bud: Golden Receiver separately, but does it change our minds about Kids’ films? Actually … the more I reflect on it the more it kind of does. I liked watching Air Bud 2. I thought it was fascinating from two levels. First, the B story is kind of an interesting part of the kids’ film genre, and exploring that more could be very fun. Second, something like a nearly-direct-to-DVD sequel has its own kind of charm. Little Giants, The Big Green, The Mighty Ducks, all had that kind of charm. Perhaps sports movies are the key? Regardless it is definitely something to consider, especially in the new year when we are considering a modification to the cycle. Stay tuned.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Air Bud: Golden Receiver Recap

Jamie

Everything is going smoothly for Josh and his basketball playing dog Buddy until a new man shows up in his Mom’s life. Turning to football to get out of the house he finds that Buddy is just as good at catching a pass as scoring some hoops. Can they team up to win the big game and become emotionally open to his Mom’s new beau? Find out in… Air Bud: Golden Receiver.

How?! When we last saw Josh in Air Bud he was just coming to terms with his father’s tragic death through the magic of his basketball playing dog. Now we jump forward and Josh’s mom is looking for that companionship that has been missing for the last several years. One day while out rollerblading she meets cute the new veterinarian in town and boy howdy do the sparks fly. Josh is pretty confused about all this and turns to football to take his mind off things and get him out of the house when the vet comes over (of course this backfires and only brings them closer. Gah!). Happily taking up the role of backup QB, Josh is thrust into action following a shoulder injury to the starter. Oh no! But they suck! He’ll look like such a loser! But wait! Buddy runs onto the field and helps Josh score a touchdown. Suddenly Buddy is the new star player of the team and no one seems to have an issue with this (even when a dog is chasing kids down to force fumbles… which seems problematic). On the day of the big championship game Buddy is kidnapped by a couple of Russian circus owners (in a completely forgettable subplot), leaving the team to fend for themselves. After going down big, they’re saved when the vet rescues Buddy and brings him to the game. On the final play Josh finds the Air Bud within himself and tosses a Hail Mary to an actual human player for the big win! That’s not the only win of the day either because the vet wins in Josh’s heart and the family lives happily ever after. The End.

Why?! I got to say, you can make fun of this film all you want (and there’s a lot to make fun of… a dog plays on a football team after all), but the motivations in this film are actually touching and done with a nuance that you see surprisingly rarely in kids films. Josh’s entire motivation for playing football is to get out of the house when his Mom’s new boyfriend comes over. He wrestles with the emotions that comes with watching her date again and wondering whether liking this new man in his life is a betrayal to his dead father. Buddy once again helps him find love in the sport and grow to realize that not all change is bad and that just because you love football doesn’t mean you love basketball any less (get it?)… it’s nice.

What?! I barely mentioned the subplot of the film which is a pair of Russian circus owners going around the country stealing talented animals. It is a film ruiner and something that should have just been cut in favor of literally anything else. Why do I mention this terrible storyline in the What?! Section? Because one of the owners gets his kicks by watching the 1976 film Gus about a field goal kicking mule who can kick 100 yard field goals. I ran the numbers and indeed that would make them almost undefeatable. A team averages 12 possessions a game. If they could score three points on each they would average at least 36 points a game! They better add a “No Mules” rule… but leave the question of dogs playing open.

Who?! By the second film the original Buddy has passed away, so his part was portrayed by four different dogs: Chance, Zak, Chase, and Rush (sounds like fraternity buddies at Delta Omega Gamma, boom). Surprisingly none of them reprised their role in the subsequent films.

Where?! Like its predecessor this film is set in beautiful Fernfield, Washington. Of course they bely the Vancouver filming location by the ridiculously Canadian way that everyone says “sorry.” B.

When?! We open on the first day of school and end at the football championship. So we can safely say this runs from September to November… however, no exact date was observed so have to keep this a D+.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! A sad boy sits at home, his mother on a date, his world reeling. The babysitter asks “Do you want to watch a movie?” Fine. What’s this? A sequel to Air Bud? He likes dogs, he liked that movie. Whatever. But the movie speaks to him! He understands! Just because his mother might go on dates or even get married doesn’t mean she doesn’t love him! And he doesn’t need to forget his father! Air Bud 2 you did it!! One problem: he doesn’t like Air Bud anymore because this movie was trash. It’s a wash! Let’s get into it.

The Good (Sequel / Prequel / Remake) – As I hinted at in the intro the film, much like its predecessor, has its heart in the right place. The B-story works. Which, for a kids film is rare. Examples of real B-stories from children’s films: In Old Dogs Robin Williams and John Travolta are trying to sign Japanese baseball players to a sports marketing contract; In Nine Lives Kevin Spacey’s protege is trying to push him out and force a hostile takeover of his company … in what universe are kids interested in such things? Here, the B-story is that a kid’s mother is starting to date again a few years after the sudden tragic death of his father, and the conflicted feelings of what this means in the young boy’s life. That is a real B-story which probably actually did help some poor kid get through a tough time. The guy who plays the coach also is a very well-written character with a great message to give to the kids. I can appreciate those parts outside of the quality of the surrounding film. I want a sequel though. In this long-awaited sequel we find Air Bud finding success in the most unexpected of all places: high finance! When Air Bud shows an uncanny ability to pick stocks, Josh, now a small fry at the biggest investment bank on Wall Street, quickly finds himself climbing the corporate ladder. Trying to keep his secret weapon under wraps he ultimately uncovers a terrible conspiracy: his boss is selling highly leveraged real estate options to the state teacher union pension fund in an immoral get-rich-quick scheme! Uh-oh! Can Josh expose his boss (and get the girl) before it is too late?! He better, because if he doesn’t Air Bud might just do it for him! Air Bud: Board of Direct-Furs!

The Bad (Sklognalogy) – The Boris and Natasha-esque bad guys are by far the worst part of this film. They probably would have been cut if not for the fact that the film would then be a svelte, far more entertaining 60 minutes long. The first half of this film has basically no football playing dog which is a tragedy. But its biggest crime is the football itself. A few things: (1) The images of a dog chasing down children in a fun middle school football game is terrifying. Immediately parents would be like “nope, this is actually too far. It was funny for a second, but dogs actually can’t play middle school football”. (2) A kid destroys Air Bud in the championship game and injures him! Insane, but well within the rules set out in the Air Bud universe. (3) The first touchdown by Air Bud should have resulted in a  too many men on the field penalty since he comes off of the sideline to catch the ball. Completely takes you out of the movie. What? Did they line up with ten men to start? Get out of here! I didn’t even get to the announcers, and the bumbling Abbott and Costello-esque fat-and-skinny refs which appear solely for the Championship game. I’m going to go future on the Sklognalogy because I think the closest film I can think of is Little Giants, a staple of childhood viewing for us, but not yet a BMT film. Ludicrous, actually the same B-story (her father dating, and a bonus am-I-not-feminine-enough? tom-boy story … huh, kid’s films are kind of all the same), and the rags-to-riches tale of a down-and-out sports team winning the championship against all odds.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – This could have a solid legacy if it revived our trust in bad kids films. And even then it is probably the most entertainingly bad kids film I’ve seen in quite a while. So it has that going for it. No street cred, but that isn’t a surprise. I was somewhat stunned to see Leonard Maltin even have a review for the film. And people like Ebert tend to pick on the “big boys” of the year like Armageddon. Both films this week with no cred, for shame.

I’ll leave the bring a friend analysis for the Clan of the Cave Bear recap. And, no, I did not feel the need to rewatch Air Bud, which I have seen. So no homework to report. Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Flatliners (2017) Recap

Jamie

Looking to scientifically explore the concept of the afterlife, a medical student, Courtney, has four of her peers stop her heart and then resuscitate her. Finding that the procedure improves her mental capacity, they each in turn try the risky procedure to deadly consequences. Can they stop the game before it’s too late? Find out in… Flatliners (2017).

What?! Courtney is a star student at the University of Anonymous Medical School. However, she is haunted (figuratively) by the death of her younger sister in a car accident caused by her own distracted driving. Looking to explore the afterlife, she recruits a few of her fellow students to help her stop her heart and then resuscitate her a minute later. When the experiment is a success and Courtney seems to gain increased mental acuity and memory (straight out of Limitless) the rest of the morons are super into the idea of almost dying too. These supernatural abilities are cool for a second, but it totally turns out that they’ve opened the door to their worst sins coming to life and trying to murder them. Uh oh! After Courtney (now literally haunted by her sister) is killed by what they had assumed were hallucinations, the rest of the dumbos realize they must apologize to those they’ve wronged or suffer the same fate. Once they go through this process they are free from their hauntings and ready to focus on what’s important: scrubbing away all evidence of their involvement in Courtney’s death (that is a real fact, the film ends with them disposing of evidence in a river… not sure what moral we are meant to learn from all this). The End.

Why?! Much like the original film each character in Flatliners has their own motivation for flatlining. Courtney claims to want to make scientific history by proving the existence of the afterlife, but we get the feeling that what she really wants is to overcome the guilt associated with the death of her sister. The next to go is Jamie who simply wants to gain worldwide fame as a Dr. Oz type television personality. Seeing how Jamie and Courtney gain special abilities from the experience, Sophia wants to go next so that she won’t struggle so much in finishing med school. Finally Marlo is just super competitive and goes last. Ray is the fifth member who doesn’t actually flatline and plays the moral compass of the group looking to make sure none of them die.

What?! I’m going to settle this score once and for all. Everyone who says that this isn’t a remake but rather a sequel hasn’t done their due diligence. Yes, Kiefer Sutherland appears in a cameo, but his name is Dr. Barry Wolfson. It’s not Nelson like in the original. “But Jamie, maybe he changed his name after the horrors of the first film.” That would be a good point if it weren’t so dumb. Why would that be the case and they end up doing nothing with it? No sly wink to Courtney/the camera. No “Be careful. Reaserch can be a real killer,” delivered with a smirk  so that all the Flatlinerheads in the cinema can get amped and cheer. Nothing. Just boring old Dr. Barry Wolfson cameoing away. This film is clearly a remake.

Who?! A little case of nepotism up in here. Avery Bederman played the younger sister of Courtney in the film and just so happens to be the daughter of executive producer Michael Bederman. While I could mention that he’s quite successful and was executive producer on Best Picture winner Spotlight, I will instead highlight that he was an uncredited line producer of one of our very favorites of 2014. That’s right! Endless Looooovveeeeeeeee. I have endless love for that book/movie/movie.

Where?! It’s a rarity for us to find a film that goes out of its way to not have a setting. The Tuxedo is a famous example where they digitally scrubbed the film of NYC references following 9/11 to avoid controversy. For Flatliners (2017) I can only presume they just didn’t want to spend the money making Toronto look like Chicago (where the original was set). Instead an unrecognizable city skyline and “Great State” license plates told us all we needed to know: welcome to the great state of Americana, where we bleed red, white, and blue and eat hot dog pie. F.

When?! Temporal settings are hard as it is, even when you have a DVD to pause. In the theater? Forget about it. It might be there, but I’ll have to wait until it’s out on DVD so I can never watch it again probably. F.

My theatrical experience was quite different from BMT Live’s of the past. That’s because my showing was absolutely packed (shocking, I know). I went on a Friday and it was filled to the brim with teenyboppers jockeying for seats next to potential beaus. Despite this, a few of them must have been paying attention because they actually chuckled at the jokes, jumped at some of the scares, and seemed to have a bit of fun. I did not. I had assumed the film was a slim 85 minutes when I entered the theater, but realized an hour in that that was an impossibility. How did you make a 110 minute long ABC television pilot of a film? How and why? Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! While reflecting on the remake of Flatliners I liked to imagine the conversation Kiefer had with the writer of this film prior to signing on. Am I playing the same character? Maybe. Well, do I have the same name? Maybe. But are we shooting a scene where I’m the character from the first movie? Probably, but we’ll see if we edit it out in the end … any other questions, Kiefer? Nope, sounds chill. Let’s get into it!

The Good (Sequel, Prequel, Remake; Homework Sklog-signment) – The story is as interesting as ever, and the cast is fine (specifically Luna, Page, and, after a bit of a false start, Clemons). If the original didn’t exist it would be a forgettable albeit still terrible supernatural horror film. Nothing more. Which I guess is a positive. Since this is already a remake might as well get the review of Flatliners (1990) out of the way: I dug the Gothic look a ton, and the cast was incredible (even if the acting wasn’t always). I loved the idea … right up until they were getting haunted by spooky ghosts. There is a better story concerning doctors exploring life after death, which I guess is why Flatliners is more on the cult side of cult classics. And … why they really needed to do something new for this remake. A group of doctors one-upping themselves. Going further. Getting addicted. Breaking down psychologically, and the one that dreamt it up (and dreamt of fame) finally snapping when he realizes he’ll have to share the spotlight with those he considers less than him. Go true blue low-budget mad scientist. At least then you’d bulletproof against it being a bomb, and you don’t devolve into the supernatural (at least, when you don’t have anything new or interesting to say).

The Bad (Sklognalogy) – The supernatural part of the story is the weakest and ends up handcuffing the film into a trite jump-scare horror that is honestly not scary, not interesting, and no fun. There is also a major divergence from the original in which the doctors go a little limitless (although The Fly is what came to mind initially) after flatlining. Bullshit, people would have noticed they were geniuses after dying for a minute. A recent Sklognalogy is Godsend. Although there at least you get that awesome mad scientist character in DeNiro. Here, Page ended up dying halfway through, and wasn’t even the same kind of unhinged madman that Kiefer eventually morphed into in the original.

The BMT (Legacy; StreetCreditReport.com) – This is the second year in a row August didn’t serve up a serviceable Summer Live, but we did wait it out to get something with a truly dire Rotten Tomatoes score. We’ll see about the legacy. I think it depends on the Razzies, and it has a better chance than Mechanic Resurrection did last year of snagging a few. I think the 4% Rotten Tomatoes score speaks for itself for street cred, but there won’t be worst-of lists for a while to confirm. I’m on the edge of my seat!

I already did the Homework Sklog-signment, but I might as well give a little BMT Live Theater Review! I watched at the Cineworld on Fulham Road and, wow, what an absolutel shithole. No offense, but it is just kind of getting run down, and I have a feeling it will close soon. The Fulham Broadway Vue is way better, not to mention the enormous (and posh) Westfield Vue. Anyways, there was a surprising number of people, mostly older, one who just couldn’t figure out how not to eat popcorn ridiculously loudly. No audience reaction at all. Which for a purported horror film is not the best I think. The only really remarkable thing though is that there were (count em!) 30 minutes of commercials and trailers before the film. Mostly commercials. This is the first time I’ve ever gotten angry about that, but it was just way too many. I could have left my house after the movie started and easily got there before the movie actually started. No fun … maybe I’m getting old.

Cheerios, 

the Sklogs

Jaws 3-D Recap

Jamie

Jaws is back, Jack! Just when the latest SeaWorld resort is set to open, our titular shark swims into the park with a baby in tow ready to wreak havoc. Can Michael Brody stop the terror and get the girl before it’s too late? Find out in… Jaws 3-D.

How?! SeaWorld is about to open a new resort and things are popping. They got waterskiers, they got dolphins doing tricks, and they got our old friend Mike Brody getting hot and heavy with his lady love. Life is good and nothing could go wrong. When a maintenance man goes missing on a routine dive, Mike goes searching for his body only to discover that a shark has gotten loose in the resort! Uh oh! Springing into action the trainers are able to corner the shark and capture it alive… which seems suspect.You would think it would be a lot harder to capture a monster shark alive. They literally had to blow it to smithereens and electrocute it to death in the past. But oh well, nothing to see here (or is there?). Obviously it soon becomes clear that the shark they captured is just the baby of the true monster Jaws that we’ve come to love and respect. By the time Mike realizes this it’s too late, the resort is in the midst of its grand opening. As the shark wreaks havoc across the limited scope of a theme park, they devise a plan to lure it into a tunnel and suffocate it to death. When this plan fails there’s only one thing left to do: delicately remove the pin from a water grenade held by a dead guy chilling in the mouth of the shark (even more ridiculous than it sounds). After a grand 3D explosion we are treated to a couple dolphins doing neato tricks. THE END.

Why?! Sadly this legitimately becomes a question in the Jaws series as the Brody family is continually stalked by killer sharks. In the first two films you could chalk it up to the shark being hungry and heading to Amity to snack nearer to shore. So its motivation is simply to eat because it’s essential to life. However, this film would take place a decade later in a totally different state and Michael and Sean Brody would once again encounter a monstrous shark that wants to eat them. So we must ask what the shark’s real motivation is. My guess? It’s an assassin sent from the future to kill the Brody family as their offspring are all that stands in the way of the successful shark uprising of 2044. Wait… did I just make this movie rad?

What?! This film is peppered with product placement but you simply can’t ignore the fact that it’s essentially a five hour commercial for SeaWorld (Wait, this film wasn’t five hours long?) Halfway through the film they open the park to great fanfare and it actually made me sad. I don’t want to watch a commercial for SeaWorld! Why did you make me, BMT?

Who?! No Planchet character to be seen. In fact very little humor at all. One interesting fact is that the actor who portrayed Sean Brody, John Putch, eventually turned full time to directing, mostly for television. I presumed he wouldn’t have directed anything for BMT… I presumed wrong. He is none other than the director of Atlas Shrugged II: The Strike. It’s a small BMT world.

Where?! Have I mentioned that this is set at SeaWorld in Florida? Because it’s set entirely in a theme park in Florida. This really should be an A+, but can only get an A because it happens to not be called SeaWorld: The Movie. A.

When?! I didn’t get anything exact. It can be presumed that it’s the beginning of summer since Sean Brody arrives on the scene fresh off final exams at school. I wouldn’t be surprised if I missed something more specific, but for now it stands as a measly D.

This film is terrible. An unacceptable jump down from a serviceable first sequel in Jaws 2. The storyline could never have been made successfully and they obviously got a director who didn’t have the chops to bring the tension that either Jaws or Jaws 2 had (albeit in two totally different ways). Not a surprise that he didn’t direct ever again. I did not like it at all. As for our Friend, D-Tox starring Sly Stallone I’ll let Patrick talk about the merits of the film. Instead I’ll limit my comments to the book on which it’s based, Jitter Joint. The film and book are only very tenuously connected, to the point where I wonder how the author ended up with a credit. Other than the basic idea of a cop heading to rehab and dealing with a string of murders, they are entirely different. The book ended up having a more sensical and original killer (son of an alcoholic targeting alcoholics) and a nice ambiguous ending (not sure whether he ends up living or dying), so I guess I enjoyed that one more, although I didn’t much enjoy the book. It’s just that the film didn’t have much of anything of value. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! So you’re the new PR director for SeaWorld and you want to make … a splash! Luckily you got connections up to wazoo, and you’ve been hearing that Jaws is not only going three-dimensional but also, more excitedly, they are looking for some corporate synergy! Can they guarantee all patrons to SeaWorld will look 100% super happy and 100% super alive throughout? … No? Whatever, let’s get that money making machine rolling! Let’s get into it!

The Good (Sequel, Prequel, Remake) – Lea Thompson is as cute as ever, and Dennis Quaid obvs looks great too. I dug the classic 70s/80s bar scene. There is so little good here I’m actually having a hard time figuring out what to do, because the idea behind Sequel/Prequel/Remake is to take the nugget of good and try and correct everything around it to make a good movie. But … honestly this comes across as more of one of the knockoff Jaws films that were being made in the late-70s and early 80s. So I guess Remake it, but don’t make it a Jaws film. Strip all of it out, and almost go Jurassic Park with it: Shark World. A bold SeaWorld-like amusement park which claims the world’s largest and most dangerous sea life on display! But uh-oh, everything goes wrong and a small group of patrons are trapped underwater fighting for their lives against the park’s most dangerous pets. Meanwhile, on the surface there is a scramble to secure the facility in the face of a greedy owner who only cares about money and himself, in that order. Shark World 3D! Underwater, they are the dominant species!

The Bad (Sklognalogy) – This film looks like a cheap 70s film you’d see on Mystery Science Theater 3000. In fact, the Sklognalogy is from MST3K: The Return, the disasterpiece Avalanche! This movie very much comes across as similar to that, cheap with weirdly well-known main actors and only appealing to the genre nuts. The director clearly had no idea how to film underwater, the connection to SeaWorld is gross and perplexing, and there is never really a coherent storyline (at least not one you care about). It also shits all over the Jaws franchise. In a way that is actually unrecoverable. This movie took a series that had kind of a silly but inevitable sequel, to a laughable franchise that would eventually be poked fun of in Back to the Future II.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – For us I think Jaws 3D joins a film like Can’t Stop the Music as being just kind of perplexing. I could see myself watching it again if, for whatever reason, I found myself watching all four at once. But I doubt it. It is probably still going to be one of the technically worst films we see in BMT, because films that look this technically bad probably wouldn’t be released any year after around 1988. And street cred would be hard to determine if not for the Razzies where it got nominated for nearly every award (it won none of them), and, blessedly, a very amusing clip by Siskel and Ebert for their worst of the year.

Definitely a catastrophe at the time.

There was a small Homework Sklog-signment here in that I had never previously seen Jaws 2. And honestly? In many ways I dug it. I agreed with the choice to show more of the shark since the surprise in the first one was already blown. I liked the teenage characters and the tension when they were stranded on a flotilla of broken sailboats. It worked all the way up to the end, when a terrible looking fiberglass island comes into play, and the shark is electrocuted to end it all. And, obviously, the fact that the Amity Island selectmen wouldn’t believe Brody that a shark was attacking after seeing a shark eat a bunch of people ten years prior is ludicrous.

The more important bit was out Bring a Friend, where we brought along a true blue straight-to-DVD picture. D-Tox starring Sylvester Stallone would remind anyone that watching straight-to-DVD garbage just isn’t worth it. It is boring, and honestly the entire movie is cut in such a way as to make little-to-no sense. I don’t think it is going to change our mind in our tendency to avoid non-theatrical releases, but maybe we just have to find the right one. The set and much of the acting was amusing though, so it did get pretty close. I don’t think I would have necessarily batted an eye if that had come up in BMT, besides that it might be the most poorly edited together film I’ve seen. I’ll leave it there. Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past Recap

Jamie

Connor Mead is a world famous photographer/womanizer who does not believe in marriage. One problem, he has to attend his brother’s wedding this weekend! Uh oh! When he ruins everything, Connor is visited by three ghosts who try to show him the error of his ways. Can he save the day (and get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… Ghosts of Girlfriends Past.

How?! Truly a classic rom com storyline. We have our wildly wealthy man about town, Connor Mead, who does NOT believe in love (gross! That’s for sissies!). He slays the ladies but we get the feeling that he really only sleeps around because he can’t face that he’s still hung up on the one that got away, his (also wildly successful) childhood friend Jenny. Connor heads off to his brother’s wedding and almost immediately begins to ruin everything. After one too many drinks he is taken on a journey of discovery to cure him of his wild ways by the ghost of his long dead womanizing uncle and three ghosts of girlfriends past (who hasn’t, right? College). First he is shown his past where we see a young Connor in love with Jenny but fated to screw it up. Then he is shown how his womanizing is hurting everyone that comes in contact with him in the present. Finally he is shown how if he doesn’t stop he’ll end up dying a sad and lonely man. While all this is happening he also manages to get the wedding cancelled… so not doing so hot on picking up what the spooky ghosts are putting down. After realizing that love is real he madly dashes to save the wedding and get the girl… which he does. The End.

Why?! The motivation in rom coms are just as straightforward as in horror films. Except instead of death, hate, and mayhem the motivation is love (awww). Someone is searching for love but can’t find it, only to figure out that it was right in front of them the entire time (awww). Pretty much the case here as while Connor isn’t actively searching for love he learns through the film that love is what he needs and Jenny has been there the whole time (awww).

What?! Connor is as much a scrooge about love as Scrooge was about Christmas spirit. Bah humbug on the whole thing. So when he has to suffer through his brother’s wedding he does the only thing he apparently likes to do more than have sex with any woman who passes his way: drink. And not just any drink, it’s Johnnie Walker Blue all day and all night. Expensive habit.

Who?! Double dose here as we have musician Christina Milian appearing unbilled as the subject of a Connor Mead photograph in the opening scenes. This completes a BMT trilogy for Milian with Be Cool (gross) and Torque (less gross). Don’t worry though, she has plenty more.

Where?! While the movie was filmed at the Crane Estate in Ipswich, MA, which I stayed at on my wedding night, it surprisingly wasn’t set in MA. In the opener, which takes place at Connor’s studio in NYC, he mentions that he has to travel to Newport for the wedding. This is an obvious reference to Newport, RI which is famous for its mansions. Pretty rare state. Rare enough that we used a film called Evening to hit it for mapl.de.map. What a disgrace. C-.

When?! A little debate at BMTHQ as to whether this is a holiday film. It’s certainly an adaptation on The Christmas Carol and at one point Connor even directly quotes the classic tale by asking a kid whether it’s Christmas yet (but he might just be joshing). It’s never directly acknowledged so can’t really count it, but diving deep into the uncredited roles listed on IMDb there are no less than three actors credited as “Unemployed Santa.” I think I’d remember a few jobless Santas in the film if they actually appeared, but that just might make this a super secret holiday film. D-.

Much like the recently BMT’d Made of Honor this film is almost pleasant in its genericness. Just plods along a plot that we’ve watched a million time. Unfortunately it totally botches the one thing that allowed Made of Honor to stand out from the crowd: an endearing main character and a realistic relationship to root for. In this case Connor Mead may just be the most unpleasant protagonist we’ve had to suffer through (not counting everyone Gerard Butler has played). He’s just an obnoxious, rich asshole who suffers no consequence for his years of being an obnoxious, rich asshole. All that being said, Emma Stone was fun. As for our foreign flick, Asterix at the Olympic Games, that shit was the Frenchest thing I’ve ever seen. I’m not totally sure why it was that French audiences rejected it so thoroughly (I thought it was silly but amusing). I presumed that it was the fact that our heroes Asterix and Obelix are somewhat minor characters in the film, but according to reviews I read that wasn’t the problem. Apparently this film was guilty of one too many French pop/athlete references and cameos… I didn’t notice because I didn’t get many of those references. The moral of the story? Bad movies are not a universal language. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Your boss is a hotshot producer and wants a fresh spin on an old classic. Well it’s coming onto Christmas, and you know what that means … you’ve forgotten to buy gifts and you need to smash out this spec in like ten minutes before hitting the mall! Oh, and obviously your idea is just a rehash of A Christmas Carol. But then you remember that Bill got fired for pulling the same trick last year … whatever, let’s have it star a horribly smarmy womanizer and release it in May. Bing bang boom, let’s get into it!

The Good (Sequel, Prequel, Remake) – The main players do a fine job with what they are provided, and the movie looks good as well. Oh, the bumping 80s tunes were a definite A+. But, there is very little else good about this, which we will obviously get into. But let’s make a Remake! About time we got this right. First, make it an adaptation of It’s a Wonderful Life, Michael Douglas isn’t the warning miser, he’s the angel who wants his wings! He took in his nephews as his own, and for all he tried he couldn’t put Connor on the right track. And before he’s allowed his place in heaven, he needs to change the course of the young man’s life before it is too late! Going through the past he shows all the good he did, and where he went wrong, and the love he missed out on, and in the end the angel gets his wings. Yeah, also don’t fill the entire movie up with cliches.

The Bad (Sklognalogy) – Let’s just get the Sklognalogy out of the way: this movie is basically identical to Made of Honor. The beats are all the same: The womanizer who realizes the one that got away is the one, but before he can get the girl he has to convince her (and himself) that he’s changed! The main difference: Made of Honor was half-way filled up with cliches. This guy had the smarmy lead, the psychoanalyzing ex, the honorable brother, the bridezilla, the bridesmaid who wants to bone him, the groomsmen who wants to be him, the sultry future mother-in-law and scary military father-in-law … sigh, it is just incredible. Not to mention that this entire movie reads as rich-white-people-problems put to film (like Made of Honor …). Anywho, long story short: turns out making a movie that is one-hundred percent rom-com cliches makes for innocuous by ultimately unsatisfying results. Go figure.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – The one-two combination of this and Made of Honor is actually quite tantalizing for a footnote of 2017. It could come up there. I love McConaughey (Foooool’s Gold, it’s not that bad, it’s not that bad), so perhaps as the pinnacle romantic comedy lead … I could see it. CNN has it fifth worst for 2009, but it doesn’t get much play elsewhere for what is a truly impressive bad movie year. Two 2009 movies in a row! And plenty to go it would seem.

Along with Ghosts of Girlfriends Past we watched a Foreign Film this week for the Bring a Friend requirement: Asterix and the Olympic Games. This basically proved to me why we don’t do foreign films: I’m missing context. I thought it was actually rather funny (especially Brutus), I laughed more than I did during Ghosts of Girlfriends Past for example. But I feel like there was something missing. Were these actors good? Were they playing with or against type? If Will Smith was sitting there mugging it on screen I would possibly think a movie was great fun … but Disaster Movie has nobodies mugging constantly and is merely sad and tragic. It had two prequels (I didn’t watch them), and is based off of a beloved comic / cartoon … so there is possibly a level of offense as well with hurting the source material. I’m adrift. I thought it was fine (its bad-movieness saved by hilarious back-to-back-to-back French sports figure cameos to end the film), but people really seem to hate this thing, so I can merely defer to their opinion.

Some foreign films I think we could maybe gain context over time (Hong Kong cinema in particular, and possibly French comedy), but it would be difficult. I have a similar problem with films prior to 1980. That issue though I think is remedied easily: watch a ton of good movies from that era to get a feel for a typical 1970s film, for example. Same goes for martial arts and westerns actually. We just did it with slashers, a genre I had almost no knowledge of prior to this year! So there are opportunities. BMT brings opportunities, truly one of the greatest things ever to be invented ever.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Friday the 13th (2009) Recap

Jamie

Jason is back, Jack! This time he’s been rebooted and he ready to kill afresh. A group of douchey college kids are at Crystal Lake trying to get paid and laid, unfortunately Jason is there to rain on their… parade. Can they take him out before it’s too late? Find out in… Friday the 13th (2009).

How?! In a rare double pre-title sequence we open with a brief recap of the events of the original film. We see Jason’s crazy mom, we see her head being cut off, and we see Jason pick up a locket off her dead body. Flash forward to “Present day” and a bunch of jokesters are hiking through the woods. Most of them think they are just there from some fun in the sun, but secretly two of them have heard of a marijuana stash in the woods and hope to strike it rich a la The Beverly Hillbillies but with weed instead of oil. Sufficed to say they all get brutally murdered by Jason (or do they? Bum bum bum) after enjoying some crisp cold Pabst Blue Ribbon. Flash forward again some time later and we have another group of jokesters heading to the lake for some more fun in the sun (deja vu). On the way they bump into Clay, the brother of one of the girls in the first camping party, who’s searching for his sister. Pretty much from the jump you get the feeling that this dude is actually the main character of the film and everyone else is just there to die. And boy do they! Almost immediately the carnage begins and they are picked off one by one. Clay manages to escape and finds his sister taken prisoner by Jason in tunnels below the decrepit Camp Crystal Lake. In the final showdown they are able to get Jason all twisted up in a woodchipper and send him to the bottom of Crystal Lake for good… except he totally jumps back out of the lake ready for another sequel! Classic, Jason. What a trickster.

Why?! They did add a lot more motivation to this one. While most of the teens are just at the lake to get paid and laid (and killed), the main character actually has a mission. He wants to find his sister. It’s a little fan service to a similar character from Part IV, except this time he’s the main character and actually finds and saves his sister. Additionally, this is the first time we see Jason keep someone alive for an extended period of time. Seems like the motivation for him is that the girl looks a bit like his deceased mother, so he keeps her alive as a comfort or out of confusion. This isn’t wholly out of character for Jason either. Part II is a notable case where Jason is stopped in part because a character pretends to be his mother and confuses him. So seems again to be a little twist on a fan service call back. Other than that he seems like his usual territorial killing machine.

What?! There’s nothing more American than ice cold Pabst Blue Ribbon, camping with your buds, and MURDER. We get all three in the second pre-title sequence. That’s not the only product placement (this is a Michael Bay production after all), but it’s the most fun.

Who?! Aaron Woo plays a Planchet of sorts. A big stoner, loveable loser, and all around jokester, he doesn’t get made fun of enough for my taste in Planchets. No fun cameos either. Cameos don’t work very well in horror. Would just feel a little weird if John Cena showed up in a scene and was like “Oh man, that Jason guy’s even bigger than me, America’s favorite pro wrestler John Cena.” There are two funny “The producers wish to thank” credits, Tony Fussell and Randy V. Michna. From what I can gather from some simple online sleuthing Tony Fussell sells boats in the area of Texas where the film was shot and Randy V. Michna seems to also work and lives there. My guess? They were the guys who donated the use of the sweet lake house and boat for production in exchange for a simple acknowledgment. Bad move, guys. I would hold out until they named a character after me. Wouldn’t even care if he was the biggest bumbling idiot in the whole film. In fact that would be even better.

Where?! I like to imagine Michael Bay saying “Hey, can this be set in Real America™ and not New Jersey,” and then someone punched him in the face. It’s obvious at this point that Crystal Lake is in NJ and we get license plates to back it up. It’s also obvious that it was filmed in Texas because the setting looks nothing like NJ. C.

When?! Online there are claims that the film takes place on June 13th, 2009, exactly 29 years after the initial intertitle placed the events of the first film. Not sure how they arrived at that conclusion other than assumption or maybe a copy of the script. There is a note on IMDb claiming that the date can be seen in the police station… but there isn’t such a scene. So perhaps it’s a cut scene. Anyway, never made explicit. D-.

I’m actually being unfair to Michael Bay, who is obviously a big horror fan (he’s rebooted five different franchises!). It shows a bit in this film as it fits nicely into the series as a whole. Biggest critiques are that the teens are just a bit too unlikeable, the pacing gets a little slow for a modern horror, and it has little ambition to be anything more than a straight reboot. But besides that I was pleasantly surprised. I got to see some teens killed, got to see some boobs, and there was some great fan service to boot. What more could I ask for? As for Freddy vs. Jason and Black Friday, our two nonqualifying films for the week, I’ll let Patrick handle that business. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! You are Michael Bay and you have all this sweet IP. Well … you have a ton of old horror intellectual property, but let’s call it sweet IP for now. What do you do? That’s right, you remake all of them in the hopes that one pans out into a franchise. I mean … what are the chances literally all of them are bad? Let’s get into it!

The Good (Sequel / Prequel / Remake) – Alright I’m going to say it … I kind of dug the movie. I thought the first 20 minute sequence with the five teenagers (who just want two things: sex and that sweet ganja) was excellent. I liked fast-Jason, it is that “new” element you kind of expect from a Friday the 13th sequel. I thought the homages were well done, and probably two of the kills were decent stuff. I’ll say it: This was as good as a remake of Friday the 13th could have probably been, and I honestly wish it had got another shot to show off the direction they wanted to take the new Jason in. But alas, all good-bad things must come to an end. But … I want the Sequel! At the end Jason may or may not have come back to life and murdered the two survivors. Personally, I think people overlook how likely it is that that was indeed a dream sequence (given that the first three original movies ended with a similar dream sequence event). We pick up with Clay and Whitney arriving at the hospital amid a firestorm from the local police. An officer is dead along with roughly 15 other people, and the body of Jason is gone. Suspicious to say the least. Stuck in jail as the parents of the recent victims arrive looking for blood, Clay and Whitney decide to reveal the location of Jason to mollify the police chief. When they hear that no body (or mask …) is to be found, Clay and Whitney immediately know that a massacre is afoot. Seeking revenge against the two that got away the police stand no chance against the cunning backwoodsman Jason as he Assault-On-Precinct-13’s the ill-equipped Crystal Lake station. Can Clay and Whitney survive a second night against the unstoppable Jason Voorhees? Friday the 13th Part 2 (2018)!

The Bad (Sklognalogy) – The film is still a remake of a slasher and doesn’t do a particularly good job at motivating Jason. They try with a weird girl-looks-like-Jason’s-mother routine, but Jason kidnapping Whitney is probably the worst part of the movie. It isn’t in character. Jason murders, he has a single purpose. And that girl isn’t his mother. We see his mother’s head in the beginning of the film, so there isn’t any Part II trickery available either. The film sags quite a bit in the middle as they transition from the excellent opening sequence to a rich guy’s house full of terrible people, and also stretched the number of kills a bit with a frenetic pace to end (although that isn’t out of character for the series). Still, for the record, I think this is probably above average for the series. It is better than 3, 5, 8, 9, X, and Freddy vs. Jason I think. The Sklognalogy is probably something like Ghost Ship (the most ship!). A movie you can kind of acknowledge isn’t an actual “good” movie, but it fun to watch regardless.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – The end of an era for us! We watched all 12 Friday the 13th films in a year. This year should have been the 13th (what what) but Paramount was like “naw, I don’t like money”. All Friday the 13th films will forever have a special part in BMT lore. And, I would say as expected, the half-way decent remake of Friday the 13th didn’t make a single worst-of list for the year. That year was amazing though. Old Dogs, I Love You Beth Cooper, All About Steve, and Miss March? Ridiculous year for bad comedy.

We did have a small Homework Sklog-signment with this film, the not-really-a-Friday-film Freddy vs. Jason. It was an Elm Street film, and honestly … I don’t like funny Freddy. I like the Freddy from the first one. I loved the first one, so watching where the franchise went was interesting. But it was a bad Friday film, not a very good Jason and he’s kind of not used enough to make it all worth it in my opinion. Meh. Maybe I’ll change my mind once I watch the Elm Street franchise.

And naturally, since we are such big Doane-heads (don’t you see? He saved Christmas. We owe him a lot, guys), we watched the second Darren Doane film of the cycle! Black Friday, the Bargain Bin entry, and a poor man’s Gary Daniels film (so straight Z-list). This … barely exists. I’m actually not entirely convinced Jamie and some of his bowling buddies didn’t shoot this piece of garbage in their spare time on the weekend. I can kind of see why some people enjoy these films though, it is oddly fascinating. While I wouldn’t go quite so far Z-list in the future, a nice C-list starring a has-been like Dolph Lundgren or Steven Seagal I do think is more likely now that I’ve seen the worst possible example of the bargain bin. I no longer fear the Z-list, I transcend reality and observe it from my elevated enlightened position. Like with Sandler films.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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