Rings Recap

Jamie

Samara is back, Jack! Holt is off to college leaving behind his girlfriend Julia. When he stops answering her calls she races to campus to find that he’s watched the Ring video for a research project. She saves his life by watching his copy, but realizes too late that the video is mutated and can’t be copied. Can they unravel this new mystery before it’s too late? Find out in… Rings.

What?! When a Very Cool Professor (we know he’s rad because he smokes weed and sleeps with his students… uh… cool?) stumbles upon the Samara tape at a flea market he begins research into the effects of the tape. Some time later we are introduce to Holt and Julia. They are super in love and whispering sweet nothings to each other before Holt heads away to college. They keep in touch diligently until Holt straight up ghosts her one day shortly before she is meant to visit. That ain’t cool, Holt! She rushes to campus and finds that he’s been caught up in the Very Cool Professor’s project! Oh no! After witnessing the death of another subject in the experiment, Julia takes matters into her own hands and watches Holt’s copy to save his life. It’s all cool says the Very Cool Professor, but when he tries to make a copy for Julia it turns out the video is mutated and rendered unreproducible. Decidedly uncool, Very Cool Professor! Analysis of the new scenes all point to Sacrament Valley, the town where Samara was ultimately buried. When Holt and Julia go there they find a near ghost town filled only with sadness. In their explorations Holt and Julia discover that this town was where Samara’s mother Evelyn was from and that she was impregnated by the town priest and kept captive in a secret room under the church. Creepy. Unfortunately for them that very priest is still there and attempts to murder them before his secret is out. Just before he kills them, Samara pulls the ol’ switcheroo and crawls out of a phone to kill him instead. All seems well until at the very end we get a Spoiler Alert where it turns out that Sarama has possessed Julia and is spreading the Ring virus to all corners of the world. THE END.

Why?! Like the first Ring film this asks the question of how far one is willing to go for love. After Holt is roped into the video experiment, Julia makes the choice to save his life by watching a copy of his video. She took on that risk for love and honestly it didn’t work out. Should have let that dumbo die. After that their motivation is to help Samara find peace in the hopes that it cures Julia. Unfortunately that doesn’t work out because she’s pure evil. People keep making this mistake. Stop helping Samara! She is clearly a hate-filled demon that cannot be trusted.

What?! This film seems particularly focused on the effectiveness of Apple products to communicate to your long-distance beau, copy death videos for the viewing pleasure of your next victim, light up a creepy underground dungeon, or bring Samara wherever you go so she can kill the homicidal priest that’s trapped you in his house. Makes you wonder if they actually paid for this because it makes their products out to be horror devices.

Who?! God do I wish there was a Planchet in this film. Would have loved a chubby best friend cracking jokes about Samara as she crawled towards him. Since we don’t I just want to use this space to give a round of applause for writer Akiva Goldsman. What. A. Year. This, Transformers: The Last Knight, and The Dark Tower. It’s glorious.

Where?! Most of the film takes place in Washington state. First in Spokane, where Holt goes to college, and then in the made up town of Sacrament Valley, where Samara is from. I bump this up to a B for how Washington has played a big role in the entire Ring series.

When?! A true favorite of mine for a Secret Holiday Film Alert! Julia and Holt are going to see each other six weeks after he leaves for college. That’s when he has a long weekend for, that’s right, Columbus Day! In fact when Holt ghosts her we see a series of texts of her trying to reach him spanning from October 6-8, meaning that major events in this film take place on the all important date of October 9th. Boom. That’s a B+ because it’s amazing.

This film started off in the way that I kind of hoped The Ring Two would have gone: the release of the tape being part of dark web culture and researched by rogue scientists. It’s a great story. Unfortunately they abandon it almost immediately to rehash the mystery surrounding Samara’s past. Seems to be a trend in the story. Stick your toe into something different and then quickly retreat back into the thriller-mystery convention that made the first film a hit. I’m always up for some more lore when it comes to franchises, just wish it wasn’t so lame and bleak. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! The Golden Boy became the Golden Dud after he botched the sequel to the megahit (and his baby) The Ring. Meanwhile, everyone else is just copying his game with this supernatural horror shit. The Golden Boy is going he back in the game! Show these children what is what! Don’t know what I’m talking about? Read The Ring Two recap. Meanwhile, let’s get into it!

The Good (BMulTiverse Theory) – I’m glad they got some closure on the story of Samara. It would seem like with the final rebirth of Samara here they can leave the video behind and start, if they so choose, to explore more about the demon itself. I kind of hope they do it. The story itself isn’t terrible, it is just unfortunate it was done in such a trite way in movies that didn’t live up to the original’s promise. Since I’m going to do a remake in the Bad section this week let’s explore another BMulTiverse Theory. I honestly believe if The Ring had been made about 10 years later this would be The Conjuring. The Conjuring has had three films, but then a spin-off series (Annabelle) and two more spin-offs in production (The Nun and The Crooked Man). The Ring could have gone deep into the origins of Samara, and then started to explore other demonic beings that have, in their own way, touched the world, exploiting are growing dependence on technology to make their power grow. The Ring was too far ahead of its time and instead ushered in an era of bad J Horror adaptations instead, many of which I’m sure we will discuss in the future.

The Bad (Crimes Against BMT-anity) – The acting is pretty rough. They toss out a fairly interesting story (a scientist studying Samara’s abilities) in yet another Janus Device (see The Ring Two recap for the definition) whereby the movie is almost perfectly split in twain: First the discovery of the college experimentation with Samara, and then a road trip to Samara’s mother’s home town. In this case I think the back half is weakest, partially because it seems like they kind of copying Don’t Breathe’s blind-man-hunting-you-down-in-a-darkened-house routine. The biggest Crime Against BMT-anity in this film is definitely the lost opportunity in exploring Samara’s powers. The rumor is that they were hoping to create a whole Ring Cinematic Universe, and the scientist would have been a perfect jumping off point. Almost like a Stephen King thinner idea Samara represents the potential to discovering a demonic power unknown to this world. And when they drill down into that power it unleashes a pandora’s box of other demon. Johnny Galecki is a pretty big name, and could have been that evil Crichton-esque Mad Scientist and a constant to the series, insistent that the pursuit of knowledge (and by extension fame) is so pure that even death and destruction can be ignored in the face of it. It would have been an interesting twist if they had a place to go with it. Hmmm, this is almost a remake in an of itself, and could have gone into the good part as well. Maybe I need to watch more supernatural horror. I would have thought someone would have gone after the thinner idea from Stephen King books. It is a great idea, it is just that Stephen King adaptations are usually terrible.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – Like The Ring Two the legs can go on for days because The Ring likely marks a point in which BMT will start to look at a watch J Horror a bit more. Finally, we do have a bit of street cred because I can find a … it looks like a blog, but it is mentioned here. Unlike some of the recent films we’ve done I am confident Rings, being the descendant of a well respected horror film, will get some play in worst-of lists.

In this case we did have a bit of a Homework Sklog-signment in the original The Ring. I loved The Ring on second viewing. The movie isn’t really scary per se, but the investigative aspect of it is really interesting. They keep the mythos tight, don’t fall into a trap of over-explanation, and have a great twist ending (Naomi Watts you doofus, why’d you help Samara!). Others don’t agree apparently, both Leonard Maltin and Roger Ebert gave The Ring Two a better review than The Ring (I think the same scores even, 2 and 2.5 stars for the original and sequel respectively). I disagree, but I also think it depends on how many scares you require in your horror films. I would tend to punish non-scary horror films, but here I think the investigative-thriller is a fine look for the first film. It is far bigger crime that the second does half the investigation and is just as not-scary, in my opinion. Such is life. I still haven’t seen Ringu unfortunately, but I’m certainly looking forward to that. It is unlikely I’ll read the books (because they are weird as fuck apparently), or see the Japanese sequels (because they are terrible apparently). So Ringu will complete The Ring lore for me for now.

I’ll leave it there. Cheerios

The Sklogs

Advertisements

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Recap

Jamie

Years after the vanquishing of Davy Jones, our famed anti-hero Jack Sparrow finds himself on the trail of the Fountain of Youth. In an untrustworthy alliance with the infamous Blackbeard he is being chased by the Spanish and by Barbossa, now in the service of the King. Will they get the treasure before it’s too late? Find out in… Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

What?! We open in England where Jack is in search of a ship to get him back on track to search for the famed Fountain of Youth. He finds that he’s not the only one currently in search of the treasure, as Barbossa, now a profiteer for England, and the Spanish are also in pursuit. Hearing rumors of another pirate posing as Jack Sparrow he comes across a former beau, Angelica, who captures him. Once on board he realizes that his has been taken prisoner in service of Blackbeard, famed psychopath and dear ol’ dad to Angelica. Oh no! Much like characters in an old school adventure game of the past, Jack and Blackbeard need to collect a number of specific items to make the MacGuffin… er… Fountain of Youth work. These include several other MacGuffins, including a mermaid’s tears and some silver chalices. Once they collect these in a series of exciting misadventures and arrive at the Fountain, it turns into an outright brawl between Blackbeard and Barbossa’s crews. This brawl is ended by the arrival of the Spanish who promptly destroy the Fountain as sinful. In a final act of revenge Barbossa mortally wounds both Blackbeard and Angelica. With only one dose of the Fountain left to save either father or daughter, Jack tricks Blackbeard knowing that his selfish ways would doom him and save Angelica. Upon his death everyone is happy because he sucked. THE END.

Why?! This is easily the most straightforward of the Pirates of the Caribbean films and as a result the motivations are also fairly straightforward. Blackbeard wants to cheat his recently foretold death by drinking from the Fountain of Youth, Barbossa wants to kill Blackbeard for sweet revenge, and the Spanish want to destroy the Fountain. So the race is on! As for our hero Jack Sparrow, his motivation doesn’t change much in the series. He’s happy as long as he is sailing the open seas on his beloved Black Pearl, but there is always an undercurrent of a desire for immortality. That’s basically the premise of the first three films: how can Jack Sparrow sail the open seas for eternity? It’s hinted that that’s the reason he wants to get to the Fountain, but this all falls apart once the climactic melee ensues. This motivation is why I’m pretty sure there will be at least a sixth Pirates of the Caribbean film.

What?! Each entry in the series seems to ratchet up the MacGuffin level one more notch. By the time they get the fourth one we have a film based entirely on finding the Fountain of Youth that needs several other objects to work. While an ideal MacGuffin is something we don’t know or need to know the actual function of (we obviously know how the reason the Fountain is important in this case), this is still a great set of MacGuffins.

Who?! Have to give a shout out to Author Tim Powers (one of the fathers of Steampunk) who got a “Suggested by” credit for this film on the basis of his pirate adventure novel On Stranger Tides. Apparently the book was a major influence on the Monkey Island games as well. Funny story is that when Disney approached Powers about optioning the book for the fourth film he was surprised because he had thought they had already lifted elements from it for the first film.

Where?! Is the entire Pirates of the Caribbean series an A+? I say no, not precise enough. Like saying Here on Earth is an A+. On top of that they are never specific as to where in the Caribbean they are most of the time. Booo. I deem this a C- only because they are specifically in England at the start.

When?! I’m not going to be able to put an exact date on this, but it is interesting that this film give a basic time frame for the entire series. Takes place during the reigns of King Ferdinand of Spain, King George II, Prime Minister Henry Pelham, and Lord John Carteret. Sets it between 1751 and 1754. That’s a tight D- and funny because the wikipedia page says it takes place in 1750. Read yo history wikipedia. I would place it in 1751.

To finish up the recap I’ll just mention that the first film in the series not to feature Gore Verbinski at the helm really took a step back technologically and overall stuntwork. If there were three things I looked for in a Pirates of the Caribbean film it was cutting edge visual technology, some jokes from our charismatic lead Jack Sparrow, and grand and complex stunts. This basically went backwards on all three. Not great.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Johnny Depp has been calling you day in and day out. Constantly. You don’t want to do it, but you know one thing: Johnny Depp wants his money, and he wants it now. So I guess we’re making a fourth one. Get the giant set piece assembled, we get to deal with this thing again. Let’s go!

The Good (BMulTiverse Theories) – Something about this series gets me every time. I don’t understand it. They all start the same (a giant set piece action scene with Johnny Depp flying around with tons of practical effects), they get more and more ridiculous, Depp is a caricature at this point … but I like it. Something about it entertains me in a different way than Transformers (which at this point just annoys me). I like Penelope Cruz, and I forgot how much Jack Sparrow doesn’t really annoy me (it is perplexing given how other characters, like Mortdecai, are very similar and extremely grating). I didn’t mind the movie, I actually quite liked how they scaled the story back compared to the second and third film. I’m going to introduce a new game here called the BMulTiverse Theory. Similar to Sklognalogy, this looks into a different film and re-imagines what might have been given a different sequence of events. In this case the Pirates franchise reminds me of what I imagine a modern day Indiana Jones would have looked like. Sprawling sets with elaborate practical effects. Magical realism, a charming lead, all presented as a period piece. We’d be sitting at five or six Indiana Jones right now, the stories getting more and more ridiculous. Trust me, it would be the same, and we’d all be complaining about how trite the character of Indiana Jones is at this point.

The Bad (Sklog-cabulary Quiz) – The film is far too long. I love Ian McShane, but Blackbeard failed to bring any of the charm or interest that a villain needs in this series. The entire thing seemed very linear, almost comically McGuffin-esque. Half the characters only speak in order to explain things about the Fountain of Youth as all of the characters directly and unyieldingly march toward this inevitable goal. Let’s try out a new Sklog-cabulary Quiz. For Pirates of the Caribbean I think I’ll note something that is also present in the aforementioned Indiana Jones series, the:

Rube Goldberg Action Sequence – (n.) An action sequence that accomplishes by complex means what seemingly could be done simply.

A mark of the Pirates franchise in which Johnny Depp flies across chandeliers or sword fights on a giant wheel, it is really impressive when done correctly. It actually isn’t really a bad movie trope since you need a crazy amount of money to pull it off, but it is something the sticks out about the Pirates franchise.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – On Stranger Tides won’t really have any legacy, although the franchise as a whole could have a place if a sixth is made. A double trilogy where the second trilogy was torn apart by critics would be rather fun. This actually does have a bit of street cred. It is listed as the 20th worst film of the year here. Otherwise it kind of falls to the wayside in a very very impressive bad movie year. It is the year of Jack and Jill, but just look at the razzies that year. Very impressive lists all around.

I’ll leave it there because we have a whole other recap to get to.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs