The Lawnmower Man Recap

Jamie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patrick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Advertisements

The Lawnmower Man Preview

Meanwhile… Poe and Brock are getting psyched for the big championship game. Suddenly Poe watches in alarm as the lawnmower men around the field stop in unison, their eyes suddenly glassy and unseeing. “Lawnmower Men,” Poe whispers while Brock stares on in shock. “Lawnmower Men? It can’t be. They… they are just silly legends used to scare kids.” But no, they are real and something has brought them out of their slumber. Poe suddenly realizes what it is and turns to Brock, “It’s Rich. He needs my help.” One of the other players begins to protest, but Brock stops them, “If you need my help, you have my bat, bro.” And they seal the deal with a Predator Handshake. That’s right! In celebration of the 500th BMT film (say what?!) we are also watching The Lawnmower Man and Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace. The sequel has been on my bad movie bucket list forever because it actually seems impossible that it got released to theaters. But it did and we couldn’t have asked for a better pairing for this celebration than the hacking computer technobabble extravaganza of Hackers and the Lawnmower Man franchise. Let’s go! 

The Lawnmower Man (1992) – BMeTric: 49.5 

TheLawnmowerManIMDb_BMeT

TheLawnmowerManIMDb_RV

(Solidly below average. If it gets a few thousand more votes it could creep back up above 50, and that seems pretty appropriate given everything I know about it now.)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars –  Scientist Brosnan needs a guinea pig for hitherto failed experiments in drug therapy and computer instruction; who better than the grinning mental defective who mows his lawn? At least the pyrotechnics at the end (simulating “virtual reality”) are full of visual buzz. Fahey in a blond wig is really tough to take. Has nothing to do with the Stephen King short story it’s ostensibly based on.

(As usual Leonard teases me with his semi-colon work, he’s a true artist. And then “hitherto”? Now I’m really into it. This review is also somehow a novel, it is incredibly long, and I love it. He clearly just hated this film.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCxFGxqLsHE/

(NOT FROM THE IMAGINATION OF STEPHEN KING. That is very very specifically not the case. That trailer makes the film look a lot more interesting that I suspect it ultimately will be.)

Directors – Brett Leonard – (Known For: Feed; T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous; Future BMT: Man-Thing; Virtuosity; Hideaway; BMT: The Lawnmower Man; Notes: Also a major music video director at the time. Won the 1994 MTV Music Award for best video for Peter Gabriel’s Kiss That Frog.)

Writers – Stephen King (title only) (credit removed following lawsuit) – (Known For: It; Pet Sematary; The Shawshank Redemption; The Shining; Stand by Me; Pet Sematary; The Green Mile; Gerald’s Game; The Mist; Carrie; 1922; Misery; The Running Man; Christine; Carrie; Cujo; The Dead Zone; Creepshow; Silver Bullet; 1408; Future BMT: Cell; The Rage: Carrie 2; The Mangler; Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice; Sleepwalkers; Graveyard Shift; The Dark Tower; Children of the Corn; Riding the Bullet; A Good Marriage; Thinner; Firestarter; Creepshow 2; The Night Flier; Needful Things; Tales from the Darkside: The Movie; BMT: Dreamcatcher; The Lawnmower Man; Maximum Overdrive; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Director for Maximum Overdrive in 1987; Notes: This is a hilarious credit (apparently removed). I’ve read The Lawnmower Man short story by Stephen King and it has literally nothing to do with this film… I haven’t even see this movie but I guarantee you that.)

Brett Leonard (screenplay) – (BMT: The Lawnmower Man; Notes: He actually did kinda start the Cyber genre with The Lawnmower Man. Only major feature writing credit.)

Gimel Everett (screenplay) – (BMT: The Lawnmower Man; Notes: Producer who worked with Leonard on a number of credits. Died in 2011 at the age of 60.)

Actors – Jeff Fahey – (Known For: Alita: Battle Angel; Grindhouse; Machete; Planet Terror; Silverado; Wyatt Earp; Too Late; Psycho III; Body Parts; Sushi Girl; White Hunter Black Heart; Future BMT: Urge; Stranded; Impulse; BMT: The Lawnmower Man; Notes: Has had a very interesting life traveling the world and doing dance, then theater, and then film.)

Pierce Brosnan – (Known For: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again; The World Is Not Enough; Mrs. Doubtfire; Mamma Mia!; The Foreigner; The World’s End; GoldenEye; Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief; Mars Attacks!; Die Another Day; Tomorrow Never Dies; No Escape; The Ghost; The Thomas Crown Affair; Final Score; Seraphim Falls; Spinning Man; The Long Good Friday; The Tailor of Panama; The Mirror Has Two Faces; Future BMT: I Don’t Know How She Does It; Urge; I.T.; Survivor; Dante’s Peak; Lessons in Love; The Love Punch; Laws of Attraction; Salvation Boulevard; Nomads; The November Man; After the Sunset; Live Wire; Love Affair; A Long Way Down; The Magic Sword: Quest for Camelot; The Only Living Boy in New York; Grey Owl; A Christmas Star; BMT: The Lawnmower Man; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Supporting Actor for Mamma Mia! in 2009; and Nominee for Worst Screen Couple for The World Is Not Enough in 2000; Notes: They just announced he is going to be working with Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams in a comedy film focused on the Eurovision Song Contest. I highly recommend Eurovision, it is hilarious.)

Jenny Wright – (Known For: St. Elmo’s Fire; Near Dark; Pink Floyd: The Wall; The World According to Garp; A Shock to the System; The Chocolate War; I, Madman; Future BMT: Young Guns II: Blaze of Glory; Queens Logic; BMT: The Lawnmower Man; Notes: Apparently people don’t even know where she currently is as they attempted to locate her for a Near Dark reunion unsuccessfully. Was apparently involved with Nic Cage for two years.)

Budget/Gross – $10 million / Domestic: $32,100,816

(That is an astonishingly high number. I’m going to assume that that is partially because the Stephen King name actually carried a lot of cache at the time. And it is absolutely no wonder they were already considering a sequel by the time the VHS was released (see the notes))

#135 for the Horror – R-Rated genre

lawnmowerman_rratedhorror

(This predates most of the other R-rated Horror films that have some out which have become a very on trend genre of late.)

#9 for the Virtual Reality genre

lawnmowerman_virtualreality

(Oh wow, I kind of didn’t realize both this and Hackers were put into this genre. That is awesome. We’ve officially doubled the number of Virtual Reality movies we’ve seen for BMT.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 35% (14/40): The Lawnmower Man suffers from a predictable, melodramatic script, and its once-groundbreaking visual effects look dated today.

(Basically all the reviews say that it is cheesy and the only thing it really has going for it are the special effects which admittedly dazzled at the time. Reviewer Highlight: So loosely based on a Stephen King short story as to constitute fraud, The Lawnmower Man goes right to the bottom of a growing list of failed King adaptations. – Richard Harrington, Washington Post)

Poster – The Lawnmower Man: Inspired by Stephen King’s The Lawnmower Man (B-)

lawnmower_man

(This entire thing is silly. Look at that poster. It is literally a man mowing grass with a giant eye in the sky with a… gyroscope? In the center? What are you supposed to think this film is about? Spacing is fine, as is the color scheme. The font is unfortunate and I know in my heart they could have done better.)

Tagline(s) – God made him simple. Science made him a god. (A-)

(I like this. Tells me what’s up and does it in a clever way. It’s a little long, but you get what you pay for.)

Keyword(s) – virtual reality; Top Ten by BMeTric: 82.8 Spy Kids 3: Game Over (2003); 78.9 Jason X (2001); 67.2 Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace (1996); 55.7 Stormbreaker (2006); 54.6 Soldiers of Fortune (2012); 52.0 Let’s Be Evil (2016); 51.9 Surfer, Dude (2008); 49.5 The Lawnmower Man (1992); 47.3 Open Windows (2014); 46.3 Kill Switch (I) (2017);

(Two of the ten! I quite like that. None of the other one except maybe Spy Kids 3 are on our radar.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 26) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Dean Norris is No. 7 billed in The Lawnmower Man and No. 3 billed in Death Wish (2018), which also stars Bruce Willis (No. 1 billed) who is in The Whole Ten Yards (No. 1 billed), which also stars Natasha Henstridge (No. 4 billed) who is in Ghosts of Mars (No. 1 billed), which also stars Jason Statham (No. 3 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Seige Tale (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 4 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 7 + 3 + 1 + 1 + 4 + 1 + 3 + 1 + 4 + 1 = 26. If we were to watch I Don’t Know How She Does It, If Lucy Fell, and The Black Dahlia we can get the HoE Number down to 15.

Notes – New Line Cinema had obtained the rights to the Stephen King short story “The Lawnmower Man”, and the producers also had an unrelated script called “Cyber God”. They simply placed King’s title on the production of “Cyber God”. King was furious at this abuse of his name, and he sued the studio to have his name and title removed from the film and promotion. They refused, until the studio was ordered to pay ten thousand dollars and full profits. (Yeah that makes more sense than actually thinking this was an adaptation)

The scene where the cop (Troy Evans) says that the missing piece of the dead man is in the bird bath, is the only thing in the movie that was taken from Stephen King’s short story.

The eight minutes of computer generated effects took seven people eight months to complete on a budget of five hundred thousand dollars. (Wow, impressive)

It was discovered through FBI tapes that this was former Waco cult leader David Koresh favorite movie

Several of the symbols Jobe (Jeff Fahey) sees flying at him, during his first VR treatment, are demon evocation seals taken from the infamous Key of Solomon.

A remote controlled lawnmower was specifically built for the movie. In another movie adapted from a Stephen King story, Maximum Overdrive (1986), a remote controlled lawnmower chases a teenager. (And in yet another movie everyone almost dies in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids! due to a remote controlled lawnmower)

Dr. Angelo’s line “I’ve decided to take my work back underground”, was used as a sample in the intro track for the Music For The Jilted Generation album by The Prodigy. (Yet another connection to Hackers, Voodoo People from that album is on the soundtrack)

There are three video games based on the movie. Scrolling action game The Lawnmower Man (1993) for Game Boy, Genesis, and Super Nintendo, loosely follows the plot of the movie. FMV adventure game The Lawnmower Man (1993) for DOS, Macintosh, and SEGA CD, uses clips from the movie, and is a direct sequel to the movie, since Its plot begins where the movie ends. Adventure game Cyberwar (1994) for DOS and PlayStation is a non-FMV sequel to the FMV game.

Mortal Kombat Recap

Jamie

MORTAL KOMBAT! Our heroes, Liu Kang, Sonya Blade, and Johnny Cage hold the key to Earthrealm’s victory over Outworld in the ultimate tournament of champions. Can they beat Outworld and prevent the conquering of Earth (and maybe get a girl), before it’s too late? Find out in… Mortal Kombat.

How?! Liu Kang, Sonya Blade, and Johnny Cage all have reasons to fight. These reasons are exploited to get them embroiled in a fighting tournament that will decide the fate of Earth. That’s because Shang Tsung and his Outworld warriors have assembled in an attempt to beat Earthrealm for the 10th time in a row. If they succeed then Earth will be taken over by Outworld and let me tell you… it won’t be pretty. At the tournament Raiden, the God of Thunder and protector of Earth, tries to teach our crew the necessary lessons that will help them succeed. Unfortunately Sonya is too hell bent on revenge, Johnny too obsessed with proving himself, and Liu Kang too focused on fighting Shang Tsung himself that it all seems lost. It’s only when they realize the true reason to fight (the fate of Earth and that’s some pretty serious stuff) that they can live up to their destiny. Johnny challenges Goro, a monster fighter with all kinds of muscles and arms and shit, and is able to beat him, but Shang Tsung seizes on the agreement on the fight to challenge Sonya and take her to Outworld as his captive. Hoping to have her forfeit the fight and thus lose the tournament he is sorely disappointed when our boy Liu shows up and is like “I challenge you, man” and they karate chop each other a whole bunch until Shang is thrown onto some spikes. Our best friends return to Earth victors and are like “nothing bad will happen now.” But then the sky opens up and a terrible voice is heard declaring the premise for a sequel, which is that the entire movie you watched didn’t matter at all. THE END.

Why?! Very clear motivations all around here. Shang Tsung wants to take over Earth because it’s got all this vibrant life and he wants to squeeze it dry. Raiden just wants to help Earth defend itself. Liu Kang wants revenge for his brother, Sonya Blade wants revenge for her dead partner, and Johnny Cage wants to prove to everyone that he ain’t no showbiz fake but a true martial arts master.

Who?! Surprisingly boring in this regard. Not a whole bunch of the typical tropes we look for in this category are found in this film. The best we got was a cameo by video game creator Ed Boon who got a credit as the voice of Scorpion in the film (as he is also credited in the video games). Technically speaking he is the longest running voice artist in video game history having voiced Scorpion in every iteration of the game.

What?! All kinds of gobbledegook in this film from Earthrealm to Outworld to the Shokan prince Goro. Unfortunately they are aren’t fighting for the Staff of Taijin or something, just the fate of the world. Boring. It is more or less a product in and of itself, since it’s an adaptation of a video game (and one of the most successful product placement films of all time).

Where?! We get a few scenes in Hong Kong and in China (presumably, given that Liu Kang is from a Shaolin Monastery). The film is primarily set in Shang Tsung’s island, though. Found between Earthrealm and Outworld, the island falls staunchly in the “other” category of settings. While specific, I have to give it a N/A as it is fake.

When?! This was a hard one, but very important for the sake of the series. The second film picks up right where the first left off so if we could nail this down here then we are gold for that one too. It’s hard, though, since the series exists outside of space and time for the most part. The best clue we have is a “Johnny Cage A Fake” issue of the Examiner which seems to have been released in the first week of August, 1994. The person reading it implies that this is probably somewhat recent so it’s not bad guess. Hard to read though and a little shaky. C+.

I actually was surprised at how much I didn’t mind large parts of this film. One of those silly tournament films that basically write themselves, but it also has some humor and a gigantic animatronic Goro monster that is impressive and interesting to look at. However, the computer graphics are a complete mess and why I can’t really say this is not that bad. It took some balls to do, but they are objectively terrible and the scenes where they are used (and there are a lot of them) are actually hard to watch.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Da-da da-da da-da da-da-da-da, da-da da-da da-da da-da-da-da, da-da da-da da-da da-da-da-da, da da da da da! MORTAL KOMBAT! Video game films are universally terrible … welp, there it is. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – So I don’t think I saw this in theaters, but I certainly saw it when I was a young boy. I did not remember that Christopher Lambert was in it, and it is pretty crazy this was a very early Paul W. S. Anderson film. Other than that this was really about watching what was (kind of sadly) the best reviewed video game film until Angry Birds in 2016 …

The Good – The matte paintings, Goro’s animatronics, some of the fighting action all are exactly what you want from the film. It somehow is, as the critics said, appropriately cheesy in that regard. Our three main actors’ banter and companionship were believable and fun. Lambert is somewhat amusing as well. The tournament structure lends itself to a pretty interesting mystery story that is extremely easy to follow.

The Bad – The CGI. Woof. This is actually pretty close to A Sound of Thunder (except, you know … a decade earlier). Reptile and Scorpion’s hook/chain things look just awful. So awful in fact that it probably makes Goro look better in comparison. The ending is pretty rough as well, they should have let the story breathe with the happy ending instead of immediately jumping into Mortal Kombat II.

The BMT – No, this isn’t BMT. This should have, in reality, gotten maybe like a 50% on Rotten Tomatoes, maybe a bit higher. I don’t think it is quite into “it’s not that bad” territory because of the CGI, but if they had skipped that I would have thought maybe. You kind of have to be a no-fun-having misanthrope to not at least understand why people think this film is genuinely good.

Roast-radamus – A new game! Here I’ll try and place the film we just saw into one of the Smaddies Baddies categories for end of the year awards. A truly self-fulfilling prophecy for Roast-radamus. For Mortal Kombat I think there are two options. First you could consider it for the Worst Twist (How?) Razzie for daring to make the end of the film just be the Emperor of Outworld deciding to invade Earth. More realistically this sneaks into The Good category for being a movie that wasn’t that bad. Hopefully we have better options than Mortal Kombat though.

StreetCreditReport.com – There isn’t much here as far as street credit, you’d probably be able to more easily find lists where this film is considered one of the best video game films, or an underrated action film. I did find this crazy thing. I agree kind of with their assessment, but Goro was also easily better than the terrible CGI, so they are wrong there. Since I won’t be using it in the sequel recap I’ll also point out that they are far far too kind to Annihilation (spoiler alert).

You Just Got Schooled – This week I watched the pilot episode for the 1998 live action Mortal Kombat television series, Mortal Kombat: Conquest. It premiered on October 3, 1998. The opening sequence in particular follows the game format so closely that is was, dare I say, interesting? After that though is kind of meaders about and the actions of and towards the female characters are problematic on multiple levels. The pilot is extremely long, the series looks like genuine shit, and the acting is an abomination, so I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, it is crap … but not a bad adaptation for brief moments. It was produced directly to syndication and eventually picked up by TNT to run after WCW Monday Nitro. It apparently was popular, but cost too much and only lasted a season. As an adaption I’ll give it a surprising B- mostly downgraded for lack of quality and Kombat, as a show maybe a D+, it was pretty brutal to get through but better than something like Highlander (narrowly).

One down, one terrible sequel to go. Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Mortal Kombat Quiz

Are you ready for Mortal Pop Quiz Hot Shot! You best be, Fight!

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) There are three main fighters of concern fighting to save Earth from the Outworld Trashpeople (that’s their team name, I think I heard it one time), Johnny Cage, Lui Kang, and Sonya Blade. Why are they in the tournament?

2) There are six main baddies on the Trashpeople side, Goro, Shang Tsung, Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Reptile, and Kane (Trashpeople are stacked!). Name their powahs!

3) What is the political structure of Outworld, from what you can glean from the movie at least?

4) Why does Shang Tsung want to kidnap Sonya?

5) Ultimately why does Kitana help our heroes defeat Shang Tsung and thus prevent Outworld from taking over Earth?

Answers

Mortal Kombat Preview

If you are looking for the Adventures of The Bad Movie Twins they continue on the Mortal Kombat: Annihilation preview. That’s right! This week we’re watching Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation to finish the Franchise-zzzzz cycle. These are films we saw in our childhood (obviously), but never got the full BMT treatment. They also serve as the transition to our second cycle of the year: The (Not Quite) Worst Films Ever. These are films that were at one time posted on the wikipedia page for the List of Films Considered the Worst. All such films are listed in the “Talk” section for the page. For people who don’t know the “Talk” section of wikipedia pages are where you can get a glimpse into the minds of crazy people. Let’s go!

Mortal Kombat (1995) – BMeTric: 40.0

MortalKombat_BMeT

MortalKombat_RV

(It’ll be above 6.0 on IMDb soon. The BMeTric is shocking high I think. I was honestly under the impression that Mortal Kombat was the first non-qualifying video game film ever. For some reason I thought it had managed near 50% on Rotten Tomatoes. Nope. Legitimately every single video game film ever qualified until Tomb Raider of last year! WTF. Watch out for May, because I have a feeling Detective Pikachu might be our first fresh video game film ever made.)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars –  Shou, Ashby, and Wilson are among those kompeting in a martial arts tournament with nothing less than the fate of Earth in the balance. Elaborate special effects and impressive set design are helpless against a weak story, uneven akting, and komikally thin karakters. Mostly one fight after another, as you might expect from a movie based on a video game. Followed by a sequel.

(Boo, Leonard got to it first, how am I supposed to add superfluous k’s to things once the joke has been done? For a 1.5 star review it is actually pretty mild. At least, you can kind of see how it ended up getting kind of reasonable reviews: set design.)

Trailer –https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHIfHL5UgFs/

(That set design though. For real though, Christopher Lambert, what you allowing them to do to your hair? And the CGI for real looks absolutely awful. The series of action shots with their names being whispered beneath them. MORTAL KOMBAT!!!! I’m in!)

Directors – Paul W.S. Anderson – (Known For: Death Race; Future BMT: Resident Evil: Retribution; Resident Evil: The Final Chapter; Resident Evil: Afterlife; Resident Evil; Event Horizon; BMT: Pompeii; AVP: Alien vs. Predator; The Three Musketeers; Mortal Kombat; Soldier; Notes: A BMT fave married to a likely future BMT fave Milla Jovovich… we just haven’t seen enough of her films I don’t think, but she has a lot.)

Writers – Ed Boon (video games) – (BMT: Mortal Kombat: Annihilation; Mortal Kombat; Notes: Is technically credited for having the record for the longest working video game voice role since he has voiced Scorpion in all the games and this film.)

John Tobias (video games) – (BMT: Mortal Kombat: Annihilation; Mortal Kombat; Notes: The character Noob Saibot is an anagram of his and Ed Boon’s names.)

Kevin Droney (written by) – (BMT: Wing Commander; Mortal Kombat; Notes: Wrote on The Highlander TV series. He also wrote a book called Le Missionnaire in the 80’s but it was only released in France… so I guess we have to learn French now.)

Actors – Christopher Lambert – (Known For: Highlander; Hail, Caesar!; Bel Canto; Kickboxer: Retaliation; Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes; Fortress; Subway; White Material; To Kill a Priest; Future BMT: Highlander: Endgame; Beowulf; Fortress 2; Southland Tales; Adrenalin: Fear the Rush; The Sicilian; Loaded Weapon 1; Gunmen; Knight Moves; Resurrection; The Hunted; Electric Slide; BMT: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance; Highlander II: The Quickening; Highlander III: The Sorcerer; Mortal Kombat; Notes: Who would have thought we’d watch two Lambert films so close together. Married to Diane Lane for several years.)

Robin Shou – (Known For: Death Race; Future BMT: DOA: Dead or Alive; Beverly Hills Ninja; BMT: Mortal Kombat: Annihilation; Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li; Mortal Kombat; Notes: Apparently trained Milla Jovovich for her role in the Resident Evil franchise.)

Linden Ashby – (Known For: Iron Man Three; Wyatt Earp; The Joneses; Mr. & Mrs. Bridge; Future BMT: Prom Night; Resident Evil: Extinction; 8 Seconds; BMT: Mortal Kombat; Notes: Replaced Brandon Lee in Mortal Kombat after his sudden death in 1993.)

Budget/Gross – $18 million / Domestic: $70,454,098 (Worldwide: $122,195,920)

(Obviously a huge success. Literally just turn around and green light the sequel, definitely can’t be a total joke catastrophe after this success right?)

#11 for the Action – Martial Arts genre

mortalkombat_martialarts

(Rush Hour 1, 2, and 3 are three of the top 4 on the list. But this is surprisingly good for a BMT film, only being beaten by The Last Airbender. Came as the genre was waning a bit in the 90s, right before Jackie Chan and The Matrix breathed new life into it.)

#6 for the Video Game Adaptation genre

mortalkombat_videogameadaptation

(This is our 15th BMT film I think. This was a true early days of the genre, prior to it struggling to land any kind of hit in the 2000s. Really has kicked up a notch since 2015 in both large theatrical releases and gross. Possibly bodes well for the future.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 38% (12/32): Despite an effective otherwordly atmosphere and appropriately cheesy visuals, Mortal Kombat suffers from its poorly constructed plot, laughable dialogue, and subpar acting.

(Appropriately cheesy? These is no such thing. The reviews are quite interesting. Most of the big print critics gave it tepidly good reviews. Reviewer Highlight: The most intriguing is a glassy-eyed follower whose right hand shoots out a hissing reptile that can extend itself for miles. Exotic creatures like these make watching Mortal Kombat feel like being in a high-tech fun house. – Stephen Holden, New York Times)

Poster – Sklog Fight (C)

mortal_kombat_ver3

(This is basically as mediocre a poster as you can get. It’s short and sweet but clearly riding on the known property that is the symbol. A little weird they chose to move away from the video game font/color scheme and make both much more boring.)

Tagline(s) – Nothing In This World Has Prepared You For This (C-)

(So I guess this is a play on the fact that it take place literally out of this world? I’m not in love with it. Long. Repeats the word this, which make it hard to think about. And only vaguely informative. Everything about the poster and tagline says “don’t ruin this for the video game fans out there… just do as little as possible.”)

Keyword(s) – based on video game; Top Ten by BMeTric: 90.3 Alone in the Dark (2005); 88.8 House of the Dead (2003); 87.9 Street Fighter (1994); 87.6 BloodRayne (2005); 86.9 Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997); 86.1 In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007); 84.7 Super Mario Bros. (1993); 79.6 Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009); 73.4 Far Cry (2008); 69.9 Wing Commander (1999);

(Getting there. Far Cry and BloodRayne don’t technically qualify, but I bet we could get one of them in via Bring a Friend fairly soon. Super Mario Bros. might very literally be one of the biggest bad movies we still haven’t watched for BMT. I’ve seen it in real life dozens of times, just not for BMT.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 12) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Robin Shou is No. 2 billed in Mortal Kombat and No. 6 billed in Street Fighter: Legend of Chun Li, which also stars Chris Klein (No. 2 billed) who is also in Here on Earth (No. 2 billed) => 2 + 6 + 2 + 2 = 12. There is no shorter path at the moment.

Notes – Ed Boon, co-creator of the original video game Mortal Kombat (1992), starred as the voice of Scorpion.

Brandon Lee was said to have been originally cast as Johnny Cage, but died before production began. (Sad stuff)

Jean-Claude Van Damme turned down the role of Johnny Cage to do Street Fighter (1994). The character in the games was originally based on him. (I mean, fine choice. There probably should have been a terrible Street Fighter sequel as well)

Bridgette Wilson-Sampras performed all her own stunts (refusing to use a double), including the fight scenes. She dislocated her shoulder during one scene, but they were able to fix it on set, without any recurrence. (I love Wilson-Sampras fun facts)

The film’s soundtrack went platinum in less than two weeks.

At around 6 minutes, Steven Spielberg, an avid fan of the Mortal Kombat series, was set to make a cameo appearance as the director in Johnny Cage’s first scene. However scheduling conflicts forced him to back out. Nonetheless, the “director” character in this scene does resemble Spielberg, which is most likely a reference to this. (Ha!)

Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa was the filmmakers’ first and only choice for the role of Shang Tsung. He came to the audition in a costume, and read his lines while standing on a chair. Shang Tsung was depicted as relatively younger in the film in order to avoid the excessive makeup that would have been required to duplicate his aged appearance in the game.

Chris Casamassa was hired to work as a stunt ninja. At the audition the producers were so impressed that he got the part of Scorpion. (I mean … you have a character whose face is covered 100% of the time. Don’t you usually hire stunt men for that? It feels like a Darth Maul or Snake-Eyes situation)

At around 1 hour 12 minutes, when Reptile in his chameleon creature form takes over the body of an Outworld statue and rises as a green ninja, you can hear, very quietly, a voice say “Reptile”. This is the voice of Shao Kahn, and was sampled directly from Mortal Kombat II (1993).

Christopher Lambert also voiced Rayden in the French dubbed version of the film.

Originally the character of Kano was Japanese-American. However, Ed Boon and John Tobias were so impressed with how Trevor Goddard portrayed him that they retconned Kano’s history in future games to make him Australian, which they thought was Goddard’s nationality. They later learned that, although Goddard gave Kano an Australian accent, Goddard himself was actually born in England but had claimed to be of Australian descent. (What the hell is this fact?)

Bridgette Wilson-Sampras had read and auditioned for the part of Sonya Blade several times, but due to the long casting process, she chose to do Billy Madison (1995) instead. Christina Applegate was also considered for the role but Cameron Diaz was cast after the producers saw dailies of her from The Mask (1994). However, Diaz broke her wrist during training, just before filming. Fortunately, filming on Billy Madison had just wrapped, making Wilson available again. She happily took the role, even if it meant that she had to be flown to the set the next day, and had to train for the big fight scenes in between shooting the rest of the movie.

The locations in Thailand were so remote they were only accessible by boat. Cast, crew and equipment had to be transported by long canoes. An outhouse was built in a secluded area near the set so that the crew didn’t have to make constant trips to and from the mainland. (That’s how you get those vistas baby!)

Robin Shou originally turned down the opportunity to audition for the movie, assuming that he’d be cast as a stereotypical Asian villain. He reconsidered at the advice of his agent. (And the rest is history I guess? Not that Shou became some mega star after I suppose)

The coined phrase “Flawless Victory” (a match where the victor sustains no attacks from their opponent) was used regarding four matches in the film. However only two of the matches meet the criteria: Sub-Zero’s first match against a henchmen and Johnny Cage’s match against Goro. (Nerd! You are such a nerd!)

Robin Shou said that in the original script he “was supposed to fall in love with Talisa Soto [Kitana]. I was looking forward to it, but they thought we have so much action, we don’t want to add romance to it. They cut it out.” (Smart move. Probably part of the reason it got reasonable reviews)

Steve James was to have played Jax but died a year before production on the film began. Gregory McKinney, who replaced James, died in 1998. Both actors died at the age of 41. (That’s nuts. Steve James died of pancreatic cancer, but I can’t find anything about McKinney surprisingly)

According to the film, the Outworld fighters have won nine straight victories of Mortal Kombat and only need one more in order to take over Earth. Given that the tenth tournament takes place in 1995, this means that the Earth-realm had been participating since 1725 (considering the battle taking place once a generation means every 30 years). (That’s a bad losing streak. I don’t necessarily hate Outworld, I just find it boring that they win all of the time you know?)

Gary Daniels, Tom Cruise and Johnny Depp were considered for the role of Johnny Cage. (Gary Daniels? Who told you that? Gary Daniels in a fake moustache?)

Michael Jai White was slated to play the role of Jax. Ultimately, he left in order to do Tyson (1995). He would eventually end up portraying Jax in Mortal Kombat: Rebirth (2010) and Mortal Kombat (2011). (Neither of those are real films though, you know?)

A music video was created for the KMFDM single “Juke Joint Jezebel” and featured clips of fight scenes from the movie, but it was pulled by MTV due to complaints about its violent content. (Oh you mean this thing?)

Quickly after the movie’s box office success, director Paul W.S. Anderson was asked by New Line Cinema to helm a sequel, but he had set his mind to doing something completely different, and accepted the offer to do Event Horizon (1997) instead.

Director Paul W.S. Anderson nicknamed Bridgette Wilson-Sampras “RoboBabe”. (That’s weird and offensive … I choose not to believe it for now)

Included in the movie novelization was a detailed opening scene of an unsuccessful joint mission of arresting Black Dragon members by the Special Forces and an international task force, which culminates in Kano killing the task force’s lieutenant who is designated therein as Sonya’s murdered partner. (I have a policy that the instant a novelization is mentioned I’m out)

Universal Soldier Preview

This film will we watched as a BONUS to go along with Universal Soldier: The Return. Go to that preview to read the ongoing adventures of The Bad Movie Twins.

Universal Soldier (1992) – BMeTric: 32.9

UniversalSoldier_BMeT

UniversalSoldier_RV

(Nearly reached 50 for a second there. Just following along the normal vote-rating trajector up to 6.0. It is a bit surprising it didn’t stall out, but then again, these types of films feel very ironic and ageless it seems. So I would guess the further away from the time in which it was unironically made, the easier it is for people to give it a good review.)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars –  Van Damme and Lundgren – well, it’s not exactly Tracy and March in Inherit the Wind. Hunks are well cast as rival cyborgs (in a runaway government experiment, natch) whose human components hated each other during Vietnam. Has the requisite number of explosions. The director slyly keeps the grocery store Muzak going during Lundgren’s one big emoting scene – right after he eats raw meat from a bin. Followed by three “official” sequels and two DVD spinoffs.

(First, Leonard Maltin said “natch” in a review, which is excellent. Second, the Inherit the Wind name drop is sublime. If this review weren’t so long winded I would say it was one of my favorites of his.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7TFssY9ZF0

(That actually seems pretty rad I have to be honest. Just some hunky dudes shooting guns and slaying ladies. 1992 was a simpler time.)

Directors – Roland Emmerich – (Known For: The Day After Tomorrow; Independence Day; Stargate; The Patriot; White House Down; Anonymous; Future BMT: Godzilla; Stonewall; BMT: 10,000 BC; Independence Day: Resurgence; 2012; Universal Soldier; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay for Independence Day: Resurgence in 2017; Nominee for Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay for Godzilla in 1999; and Nominee for Worst Written Film Grossing Over $100 Million for Independence Day in 1997; Notes: German. Notably a campaigner for gay rights, global warming, and human rights. He is openly gay.)

Writers – Richard Rothstein (story) – (Known For: Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning; BMT: Universal Soldier: The Return; Universal Soldier; Notes: Died in 2018. He retired right after Universal Soldier came out it appears, only receiving things like story or character credits from that point onwards.)

Christopher Leitch (story) – (Known For: Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning; BMT: Universal Soldier: The Return; Universal Soldier; Notes: Directed a number of television episodes in the late 2000s, but appears to have retired in 2010.)

Dean Devlin (screenplay) – (Known For: Independence Day; Stargate; Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning; Future BMT: Godzilla; BMT: Universal Soldier: The Return; Independence Day: Resurgence; Geostorm; Universal Soldier; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay in 1999 for Godzilla; and in 2017 for Independence Day: Resurgence; and Nominee for Worst Written Film Grossing Over $100 Million for Independence Day in 1997; Notes: A very interesting career as an actor turned writer turned producer turned director! He directed Geostorm in addition to writing it.)

Actors – Jean-Claude Van Damme – (Known For: The Expendables 2; Kung Fu Panda 3; Kung Fu Panda 2; Kickboxer: Retaliation; Hard Target; Kickboxer; Kickboxer: Vengeance; Sudden Death; Timecop; Breakin’; Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning; JCVD; Enemies Closer; Future BMT: Street Fighter; Derailed; Cyborg; Knock Off; Welcome to the Jungle; The Order; Double Impact; Legionnaire; Maximum Risk; Replicant; Inferno; Missing in Action; The Quest; Nowhere to Run; Pound of Flesh; Black Water; A.W.O.L.: Absent Without Leave; Last Action Hero; Bloodsport; BMT: Universal Soldier: The Return; Double Team; Universal Soldier; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Screen Couple for Double Team in 1998; and Nominee for Worst New Star for Bloodsport in 1989; Notes: Y’all know Jean-Claude. The crazy person he portrayed in Bloodsport accused him of not actually being good at martial arts. This, however, is unlikely considering Van Damme had a martial arts career.)

Dolph Lundgren – (Known For: Aquaman; Creed II; The Expendables; The Expendables 2; Hail, Caesar!; Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning; Don’t Kill It; Future BMT: Masters of the Universe; Red Scorpion; The Punisher; Black Water; Skin Trade; The Peacekeeper; Showdown in Little Tokyo; A View to a Kill; Dark Angel; Small Apartments; Rocky IV; BMT: Johnny Mnemonic; Universal Soldier; The Expendables 3; Notes: Notable partially for being a karate champion, and having a Masters in Chemical Engineering. He earned a Fulbright scholarship to attend MIT, but decided to become an actor instead.)

Ally Walker – (Known For: While You Were Sleeping; Singles; Happy, Texas; Wonderful World; Future BMT: Kazaam; Bed of Roses; Steal Big Steal Little; BMT: Universal Soldier; Notes: Started out on the soap Santa Barbara. Has had a long successful career in television including Taxi Brooklyn!)

Budget/Gross – $23 million / Domestic: $36,299,898

(Decent I think. At least, not a financial catastrophe. I’m not surprised the next one went straight-to-DVD though. I imagine that was a decision made based on quality, not finances.)

#32 for the Action – Martial Arts genre

universalsoldier_martialarts

(This genre really did just tumble down recently. Likely it is getting sucked into VOD and not getting actual releases. This came out right as the genre started to see significantly less gross per theater which is likely the reason the sequels went to DVD. Sadly the highest earning BMT film is The Last Airbender.)

#35 for the Cyborg / Android / Robot genre

universalsoldier_cyborg

(Robocops and Transformers everywhere! Oh, and Deadly Friend. This came out at a kind of peak of robot films, and since then it has mainly been touch and go. I would guess every year there is some enormous Terminator, or Transformers film, but not very many smaller releases to fill the gaps.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 25% (7/28): No consensus yet.

(I’ll make a consensus: wholly derivative, the audience is just as likely to laugh at as cheer at the repetitive action sequences. Reviewer Highlight: Though the idea is dumb enough to be fun, director Roland Emmerich does the Terminator thing without much style, and the two stars bash into each other but never connect. – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone)

Poster – Oh no! Robots! (C+)

universal_soldier_ver1

(I like the idea but it needs a bit more brightness. Font is terrible and what’s with the circle? Just OK.)

Tagline(s) – The future has a bad attitude. (D+)

Almost human…Almost perfect…Almost under control. (A+)

(It’s like the guy who made the tagline never even watched the film! It’s set in present day! But I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he meant the “future of weaponry.” Still bad. The second one is just god damned beautiful. It’s perfection. This is what I want out of a tagline.)

Keyword(s) – soldier; Top Ten by BMeTric: 96.3 Epic Movie (2007); 96.0 Meet the Spartans (2008); 90.3 Alone in the Dark (2005); 89.1 The Last Airbender (2010); 87.9 Street Fighter (1994); 87.6 BloodRayne (2005); 86.2 Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987); 86.1 In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007); 85.8 Fantastic Four (2015); 82.7 The Legend of Hercules (2014);

(Very nice. We should clean up this very soon. You would think this is just a who’s who of the worst films ever … but I actually genuinely think of soldiers in all of these films. The word is just kind of overly broad.)

Notes – (at around 18 mins) The young couple that Luc reacts to at the Hoover Dam incident are actually the same young couple in the beginning in Vietnam. (I saw that in the trailer, fun)

The production script presented a much darker depiction of the U.S. Military than what eventually ends up on the screen. In the screenplay the Colonel in charge of the Unisol project orders Dolph Lundgren’s character to ruthlessly kill off all the civilian witnesses to his pursuit of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s character. The Colonel also informs the head scientist that the terrorists at the dam were not terrorists at all, but mercenaries hired by the army to provide fake justification for the Universal Soldier program. In the finished film, these scenes are omitted so the witnesses are left unharmed and the gunmen killed by the Unisols at the dam were genuine terrorists. The Colonel and his men are actually heroic figures with a real and valid mission who just want their multi-million dollar Unisol back. Whereas military villains were de rigeur in the post Vietnam 1970s and well into the 80s, by the time of filming the reputation of the U.S. Military was at an all time high following the first Gulf War so it was considered unlikely that the audience would accept them being shown in such a poor light. (Huh cool I guess)

Though they’re all supposed to be American, the Universal Soldiers are played by a Belgian (Jean-Claude Van Damme), a Swede (Dolph Lundgren), and a German (Ralf Moeller). (Their accents are a bit off …)

The last film to be recorded in CDS, an early digital sound format. In the following year of the film’s release, sound technicians had developed DTS. This sound format was apparently of higher audio quality than CDS and has been used in most movie theaters ever since.

The Grand Canyon bus chase was re-edited years later as library footage into Fred Olen Ray’s Critical Mass (2001) produced by Andrew Stevens’ Phoenician Entertainment (a company that specialized in shooting low budget action films around stock footage). (Fun fact)

The small patch worn on the left breast of many of the UniSols is a U.S. Army Air Assault Badge, signifying that the wearer is a graduate of the Air Assault School. (Some guy on the internet knows his patches)

The first screenplay was initially called “Crystal Knights”.

Ralf Moeller and Dolph Lundgren co-starred together in Universal Soldier (1992). Years later, both actors auditioned for the role of Hagen in Gladiator (2000), with Lundgren losing it due to Ridley Scott being unimpressed by his acting and Moeller winning the role. (Damn you Ridley Scott!)

The film takes place in 1969 and 1994. (Good to know)

[NOTE: There is an inordinate number of notes having to do with weapons and weapon accoutrements … I’ve left one in so you can see what I mean]

The highly specialized load bearing equipment worn by the UniSols was custom made by Eagle Industries for the film, including the thigh holster for the Desert Eagle .357 magnum (which also held 2 extra magazines and a Cold Steel Magnum Tanto), the shoulder holster harness for the H&K; MP5K sub-machine guns and the H&K; P9S pistol, extra magazines and grenades. On the opposite thigh, the UniSols are carrying collapsible PR-24 batons.

Police Academy Recap

Jamie

When our hero Mahoney is given a choice between jail and entering the Police Academy he is dead set on flunking out as quickly as possible. When that is made impossible he is dead set on having as much fun and raising as much hell as possible. Can he have a super fun time before it’s too late? Find out in… Police Academy.

How?! Alright so that really isn’t the plot of this film. Really what happens is that The City has a new mayor who wants to bring down crime and part of that plan is to open up the police academy to all comers (and not just white straight macho males). The police don’t like this. They don’t want women or minorities being police officers and lament the days of yore where they couldn’t be (it’s all obviously very offensive). The police decide to force these misfits out of the academy by making their lives a living hell and forcing them to quit. Enter Mahoney. He is a slacker extraordinaire who specializes in razzing authority. When he has another run in with the law he is given the choice between jail and the academy. He obviously says yes to that dress and enters the police academy with the aim of getting kicked out (fat chance). The rest of the film is the zany antics of these kooky recruits as they run amok on campus and the police officer try to get them to quit. Too bad because these recruits have got guts and won’t give up because they legit want to be officers. Even Mahoney at a certain point realizes that he kinda like his pals and the potential love interest he has met there. Maybe he actually does want to be a police officer after all. Just at that moment though he ends up getting kicked out at the same time that a major riot breaks out downtown and the recruits are sent in as part of the peace keeping crew. Mistakenly sent to the heart of the riot Mahoney and a similarly dishonored recruit Hightower end up playing the heroes and are able to stop the ringleader of the riot. They end up graduating top of the class and gearing up for their First Assignment. THE END.

Why?! There is actually a very clear motivation in this film, which surprised me. Most of the characters truly want to be police officers and have finally been given this chance by the new mayor’s policy. The police officers mostly want to see these recruits quit because they don’t look or sound like the police officers of yesteryear (catch up with the times, bro). These two motivations are the driving force of a lot of the film. But really our main character is Mahoney and he doesn’t care about any of that. He floats around life with a smile on his face just looking to not be too serious and perhaps smooch with a lady here and there. When something gets in the way of his slacker lifestyle he tries to get out of it and quick by pranking people. His only clear motivating factor is to avoid jail and it’s only at the end of the film that he finally realizes that in fact he just might like this police business after all, thus setting up six sequels (duh).

Who?! The most obvious thing is that former NFL star Bubba Smith is one of the main characters in the film and is actually pretty good. Otherwise there are a couple uncredited things on IMDb that are throwing me for a loop. I saw that it was claimed that John Hawkes was in this film in an uncredited part and I was like “I don’t believe you.” But indeed there he was driving a truck and laughing like a maniac. Wow.

What?! Given that the sequel was chock full of product placement it’s a bit of a surprise that the first is not. When they do get the opportunity to get their party on about halfway through the film though the choice is obviously a refreshing Miller High Life. And that stays consistent in the second one as well, so that pretty much turns it around for me. I’m just really into narrative consistency. So now I guess I like Police Academy.

Where?! It’s been a while since we had one but this is purposefully no set anywhere. It is set in The City. None of the license plates have state names on them and it was all filmed in Canada so there isn’t even a place in the US you could say it looks like. There is a weird aspect to the sequel, but I’ll get to that in the other post. F

When?! You think this would be specified by the location would be totally hidden. What I think we’ll come to learn is that the Police Academy series exists outside of space and time. You can never pin down when for time is a flat circle for the police academy. It just is and will ever be. Over and over and over for all eternity.

This film was just as incredibly offensive as pretty much every 80’s comedy is at this point. A number of the established police officers are outspoken racists and sexists. The film is rife with gay panic. Even our hero Mahoney throws around a few homophobic slurs here and there. A major plot point is that the head of the academy mistakenly gets a blowjob from a prostitute hiding within a podium while he’s giving a speech (for real). It’s already crazy but then when he looks back at the podium Mahoney pops out and he goes into a tailspin. The thought that he received a mistaken blowjob from Mahoney makes this otherwise dumb and loveable character insist that they figure out some way to kick him out of the academy. It’s a bizarre and long gay panic joke. Anyway the only redeeming thing you could say about the humor was that generally the bad qualities are confined to the antagonists. The recruits are all colors and creeds after all, so they are pretty much fully tolerant of each other. Still, though, Mahoney does come off poorly as he spies on ladies in the shower and sexually harrasses a fellow cadet. Always strange to watch an 80’s comedy now. Other than I laughed a couple times and I can see why at the time some people liked it I guess. Funny enough it reminded me a lot of the film CHIPS… except that was made today and boy did it not work anymore. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Remember when the mayor allowed anyone into the police academy and we all became gross misogynists and homophobes? No? Well in the alternative universe of Police Academy we did apparently. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – When I told my father-in-law I was watching this film he was somewhat aghast. Because in his estimation Police Academy was on the same level of Airplane! The reviews disagree obviously, but it is definitely interesting. Bill Clinton apparently loves all of these films. Growing up things like Spaceballs (58% on Rotten Tomatoes) and Robin Hood Men in Tights (43% on Rotten Tomatoes) were films I watched multiple times a year, so it has to just be the times we live in. I guess I was ready to see why Police Academy because such a hit in that it spawned 6 sequels.

The Good – Guttenberg is very charming in the film, to the point where despite him being an objectively terrible person you still kind of like him. The ensemble cast is put together well and is well used top to bottom it feels like, they all serve a somewhat interesting purpose in the original film. This is less of an Airplane! and more of a discount-Stripes in reality. If you like Stripes, then this is a pretty good version of that type of movie I think. I also secretly love how Guttenberg plays to blowjob gag … you’d have to watch the movie to know what I mean, but that part holds up surprisingly well.

The Bad – My god, the homophobia, the misogyny. I know I shouldn’t be shocked, but it is shocking. Guttenberg sexually harasses and (possibly) assaults ladies throughout the film (but they love it don’t they? You salty dog you), everyone just cannot believe that there are gay clubs in Big City USA (and if you don’t watch out the big burly gay men will dance with you! The horror, the horror). It is on occasion played for a solid laugh, but mostly is just really dated and gross. The main issue otherwise is that the film just doesn’t seem to really have a plot. It is a cut rate Stripes. A bunch of jokers go to the Police Academy, shenanigans etc. etc., they are semi booted from the program, they have a big (somewhat self-inflicted) adventure where they become heroes. It just doesn’t have nearly the comedic chops to pull it off (and Stripes nearly doesn’t, the third act is an honest to god catastrophe!).

You Just Got Schooled – Did you know that they made two Police Academy television shows? Did you know you can watch the pilot for the 1997 live action one on YouTube complete with commercials? My main takeaway: Commercials from 1997 were wild, and also I watched too much television when I was like 10 because I remember every single one of these commercials (literally). Oh the show? Not shockingly terrible. I’m not surprised it got cancelled, but it isn’t actually as brutal as you might think. It is silly, but also kind of funny if you aren’t too concerned with it having any kind of continued story … well, except for the entire pilot hinging on the cadets beating a motorcycle gang in a ice hockey game. It is an hour long, the acting all sucks, the gags all suck, and the writing sucks. It is shocking what people would put on television in the 90s. This is 1997! Let’s just say it isn’t exactly competing with Frasier and Seinfeld for the Comedy awards.

The BMT – Of all of the franchises we could do, this is the one I think that is the most important. In the 80s there were plenty of franchises that were driven into the ground. The most notorious were horror franchises, like Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street. But comedy film franchises usually don’t grow so large. The Earnest films and Beethoven films are kids films and thus logically transition nicely to straight-to-DVD. The only equivalent I can think of is the American Pie franchise in the 2000s. Even then, it is beyond crazy that Guttenberg in particular is in the first six of these films! They were cash cows and everyone knew it and have openly stated that that is why they acted in them. It is kind of fantastic.

Welcome to Earf – Kim Cattrall is in both Police Academy and Bonfire of the Vanities with Morgan Freeman, who was the narrator of Conan the Barbarian (2011) with Ron Perlman, who was in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale with Leelee Sobieski, who was in Here on Earth. Welcome to Earf!

StreetCreditReport.com – While not actually in the list Police Academy gets a shoutout in this 10 worst list of 1984, which suggests it is a possible borderline honorable mention. Its real claim to fame is as a franchise where it basically redefined what a “franchise” meant. The fact that it is on that list which is obviously heavily skewed towards recent films still mentioned it at number three says everything you need to know about how important Police Academy is as a bad franchise.

Still got one more of these to do. Cheerios,

The Sklogs