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

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I Still Know What You Did Last Summer Recap

Jamie

After surviving a maniacal murderer last summer, Julie needs a little R&R. Lucky for her, she wins a trip to The Bahamas. Unlucky for her, the murderer shows up for another shot at revenge. Can she stop him before it’s too late? Find out in… I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.

How?! A year after the events of the first film, we find our hero Julie working hard at Harvard to make up for her freshman academic woes. She’s still dating Ray, the fisherman living back home, but their relationship is on the rocks. With July 4th approaching, Julie dreads heading home, so when her roommate Karla wins a trip for four to The Bahamas it provides the perfect excuse. Ray plans on surprising Julie by coming on the trip, but on his way to Boston the fisherman murderer shows up and seriously injures him. He’s left scrambling to try to make it to The Bahamas to warn Julie. With Ray nowhere to be found Julie’s totally platonic whitebread nerd-alert friend, Will, tags along as they head down to paradise… or so they think. Turns out the resort is on a secluded island that is basically deserted for storm season. Trapped by a monster storm on the horizon, Julie and her friends are terrified to find that the murderer has followed them. Turns out that [SPOILER ALERT] the fisherman murderer actually used to work at the resort and was suspected of murdering his two-timing wife decades ago before fleeing. Also turns out that Will is actually his son and they teamed up to trick Julie into going to the island. They corner her in a spooky scary graveyard, but at the last moment Ray arrives and together they defeat Will and his father. He is definitely dead this time and will never come back ever obviously because that would be ridiculous. But wait, what if… it wasn’t? Bum, bum, bum!

Why?! As is the case with most horror films the motivation lies entirely in the hands of the murderer. Julie, Ray, and the rest of the gang are just looking to get laid and paid. The murderer on the other hand is doling out years of revenge. As I see it, he is angry because: 1. His daughter was killed in a road accident and the driver wasn’t punished enough… this enraged him. 2. After murdering the driver he was hit by a car… this extra enraged him. 3. After doling out some revenge he was thrown off a boat and lost his hand… this double extra enraged him. None of this really explains his obsession with waiting for July 4th each year to enact revenge, but to each his own I guess.

What?! No great product placement here. Instead I’ll highlight another favorite of ours: when other pop culture references show up in a film. Like posters for films, books, etc. Early in this film we get a super close-up of a book that Julie is reading. It’s the sequel to Scott Turow’s book Presumed Innocent, The Burden of Proof. Sometimes they’ll drop something like this into a film as weird foreshadowing, if it relates to other works done by people associated with the film, the maker is just a fan of the work, they simply needed a prop, or it’s a joke. This feels like a “prop.” (PATRICK NOTE: I am now reading Presumed Innocent because of this, I’m a crazy person, welcome to my Bad Movie Book Book Club (BMBBC)).

Who?! The obvious highlight here is Jack Black who appears uncredited despite appearing in three major scenes in the film. He’s ostensibly comic relief as a stoner/forgettable murder victim, but his appearance almost comes across as parody. Pretty early in his career to take an uncredited role, but maybe he was aware of how badly this film would be received? Don’t know.

Where?! After very obviously being set in NC, this film takes a wild jump to international waters to The Bahamas. Really nice A- setting as it truly depends on the tropical locale. This is also a great film to foreshadow an upcoming world map game where we collect all the countries of the world. It will of course be called Backstreet’s Map, Alright!

When?! Again we have to sound the Secret Holiday Alert! The murderer loves killing on July 4th. It’s almost like they were trying to have their own Halloween franchise, but with a decidedly unscary holiday. Also a Solid A.

While I still know that I thought this film was entirely ridiculous, you have to give them a hand for those setting. Just spectacular. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! I Still Know What You Did Last Summer?! I still don’t wanna know! Two for the price of one on that NY Post headline. Actually the headline would have been something like “Audiences Didn’t Want To Know!”. So you just made a moderately successful film in the newly-minted Scream-induced resurrection of slashers, what is your next move? Yes, let’s take this to The Bahamas and introduce a ludicrously convoluted backstory for our favorite killer … Ben Willis (ooooh yeah … what you aren’t scared of Ben’s sweet hook action?). Let’s get into this!!

The Good (Sequel Prequel Remake) – One of the best comedies I’ve seen in years. When Jamie and I discussed this film there was a point in which we just described the storyline and started laughing. It is some of the funniest shit you’ll see. In the same vein: Jack Black is amazing-but-really-terrible-but-you-get-it-like-…-he’s-amazing in this film. It is like a parody film. Oh did none of this seem particularly good … yeah, this film is hilariously bad, almost mind-bogglingly so. Obviously I’m going Sequel because I need to know everything about the Willis family (Myers, VoorHees, Krueger … Willis, that is the Mount Rushmore no?). We know Ben Willis killed his wife in the Bahamas and moved to North Carolina with his son and daughter. Let’s go further. A young Ben Willis is a happy-go-lucky lad in Massachusetts, fishing with Papa Willis and having a grand old time. But one day he snaps and kills his entire family never to be seen again (perhaps he went to the Caribbean for some R&R …). Years later a traumatized Julie James and her husband Ray move into a house on Cape Cod. Little do they know the entire deal was set up by Ben Willis (who spent a few years getting his real estate license, natch) to bring them to his all-too-familiar familial home for one last shot at ice hook vengeance. It makes no sense, but you’ll learn everything about grandpa and grandma Willis in …. I Knew What You Did Last Summer.

The Bad (Sklognalogy) – This film is laughable. The acting, the premise, the fact that they felt the need to make a sequel to a mediocre slasher which is … the same movie except on a bad Caribbean set. It isn’t scary, they hide half the kills from you (probably for budget reasons), and did I mention it makes no sense. Ben Willis is from The Bahamas? Where the hell was his son during the events of the first movie? Did the son not go to highschool with the other kids? How did he get into Harvard without anyone noting the fact that two people from this incredibly small town both went to Harvard in the same year? It. Is. Ludicrous and I love it. Pure distilled trash. The analogy is probably something like Halloween Resurrection (although I haven’t seen that). That just seems like the right mix of follow-up-to-a-mediocre-slasher-that-crosses-the-rubicon-into-ridiculousness. Maybe Species II as far a ridiculous sequels to horror films go, if you want to stick to BMT.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – The legacy of this film should be quite nice. As far as BMT is concerned this is the first real post-90s slasher sequel we’ve done and it hits right at a time when the genre thought they could sustain such garbage and be fine (it can’t and didn’t). I will always remember this film for how they just blew out Ben Willis’ backstory for no reason and basically made a comedy from what would have otherwise been a boring forgettable genre sequel. And this time I’m somewhat stunned that I Still Know What You Did Last Summer got no play as far as I can tell for worst of 1998. People seemed distracted by Armaggeddon and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (of all things). I would have usually chalked this up to the fact that critics tend to ignore horror films, but Phantoms, Urban Legend, and Species II all made some lists. A travesty. The Will Benson reveal does get a little play as either a great or terrible twist though (it is terrible, for the record).

And I’ll close with a little Book Review. Little did we know I Know What You Did Last Summer was based on a book! And yes, we both read it which is crazy. The book is a very short lightweight teen thriller and in general is a pleasant enough read. Solid twist even. But I can see why the author was pissed about the adaptation … it isn’t a slasher. Almost the opposite. It is about guilt and the unforeseen consequences that chaotically reverberate across a small town from what was an unavoidable tragedy. Interesting read. Especially subsequent interviews about the movie (which, as I said, she hated). I’ll leave it there.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Blue City Recap

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of the Black & Blue Bicycle where we watched Blue City and Fifty Shades of Black in one week. The two recaps are separate but go together. Here is a link to the Fifty Shades of Black Recap]

Jamie

Prepare for a extra juicy post this week. That’s because we watched two films! A black and blue bicycle of Blue City and Fifty Shades of Black. I doubt anyone has actually heard of Blue City. It only has 755 votes on IMDb and its popularity ranking is so low that it comes in behind the 1986 gymnastics film American Anthem. This Italian Terminator rip-off is ranked higher for God’s sake!

As we all know (“You’re a crazy person,” the crowd chants in unison). Yup, I’m a crazy person. So I obviously read the book that Blue City was based on (that obviously no one has heard of either). It is a boilerplate noir thriller. Our hero returns from war to find his estranged dad murdered. With nothing to lose, he descends into the darkest corners of the city to find his father’s killers and bring them to justice, even if it costs him his life. Blue City! As far as an adaptation goes it was a pretty solid example of how some of the best films get made. Find a book of middling quality but with a solid story, tighten the screws, add some meat, and voila! Did it succeed? Ha! No. Lots of changes, merging of character, change of setting (more on that later), etc. etc. etc. But in most cases the changes were simply to try to clean up the seedy characters you are meant to root for. A general brat pack-ification of the material. As for the film itself I actually wasn’t totally disappointed by it. I’ll let Patrick discuss its finer points, but there were some bonkers MonoSklogs being thrown around and some crazy editing/directorial choices. While somewhat boring, it gave me enough to provide sense of peace with what would have otherwise been an odd choice for BMT considering just how unknown it is.

Taken in tandem is the longest post we’ve had since… well actually probably not that long ago. Still, I’ll try to keep the Settings 101 brief…ish. Blue City had a very interesting setting. The book was purposefully set nowhere. Our hero arrives in “The City” without acknowledgement of which state he is in. There is mention of Chicago being somewhat close and that The City was a big tire and rubber center, so I guess it’s a take on Akron, Ohio. But a fake state capital is explicitly mentioned, so that confirms the N/A setting for the book. The movie on the other hand was working hard for its setting. That production designer has so many “Blue City” signs and decals my head was spinning. However, the true setting was only shown once: on the side of a police car where it said “Florida” above the Blue City Police department shield. While there are a lot of mentions of Miami being nearby, there wasn’t enough to float it above C. Similarly, you can almost get an exact date for the temporal setting from a calendar on the wall and a visit to a graveyard (April 1985), but didn’t play a role and wasn’t exact. C- or maybe a C.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Blue City? More like Real Shitty! We completed the Black and Blue Bicycle, which means you’re going to get two, so let’s try and keep them each shorter. Let’s go!

  • The Good – It is an okay crime story with okay acting from Caruso and an interesting fictional grimy southern setting. I could see someone accidentally watching the film and not realizing it was incredibly reviled upon release.
  • The Bad – Nelson and Sheedy, woof! Sheedy in particular was just atrocious in this film, it kind of threw me. This was also probably an editor’s nightmare, it came across as just kind of cut to pieces and barely 80 minutes, the first time directing was exposed there. The story is also just unpleasant with undesirable characters thrown around with little regard for how they would eventually have to resolve the story.
  • The BMT – Naw, again, just kind of a blah, boring crime film with terrible characters and action that hasn’t aged particularly well. A 10 would be right in line, definitely poor, but never popular enough to make it a hit.

And I’m thinking Sequel for this one. Billy Turner, now a long time Florida politician running for Governor, is assassinated at a campaign stop in his hometown of Blue City. With no suspects and no hope his son Jim Turner returns to try and untangle the threads that tied his father to the dark underbelly of the town that tore his family apart. Was it corruption that felled Billy Turner at his moment of triumph, or is that yet another lie surrounding his tragic death? Blue City: Legacy. I’m hearing through the grapevine that I’m writing the screenplay and John Krasinski is attached to the lead role of Jim Turner.

That’s it, cheerios,

The Sklogs

Shanghai Surprise Recap

Jamie

Shanghai Surprise! I believe Patrick has a better perspective on this film so I’ll sit quietly over here and just talk a little bit about the book (‘The book?!’ exclaims the crowd, blissfully unaware until that moment that Shanghai Surprise was based on a book that Jamie would read). That’s right, the book. Originally called Faraday’s Flowers, it was written by Tony Kendrick and came out in 1985. For whatever reason (perhaps George Harrison loved the author or something), it was almost immediately optioned and adapted into a film. I ended up having to watch the film first and then read the book for practical reasons. I didn’t think this would be much of a problem since it seemed pretty straightforward from the book jacket synopsis: a man is convinced by a missionary to search for opium in 1937 China and falls in love with her in the process. But when I watched the film I was shocked by some of the more bizarre twists and turns that the storyline took. I presumed that in an attempt to spice up an otherwise incredibly boring film a screenwriter had inserted some weird-ass stuff, right? Wrong. After reading the book it is essentially a straight adaptation (with some of the more explicitly violent and sexual parts cleaned up and the order of events somewhat scrambled). The moral of all this is that you cannot blame the storyline on the filmmakers, the book is just really strange (making it all the stranger that it was targeted for adaptation). Almost Mortdecai level weirdness at times. Now as for Madonna’s horrific acting, Sean Penn’s ridiculously bad hair and makeup, and an overlong and dull storyline? Blame away.

Important day guys. That’s because for the first time since we’ve been doing Settings 101 in the email we have finally arrived at an A+ film. Shanghai Surprise not only opens with a meta-acknowledgement of the setting via intertitle and has the setting play a vital role in all aspects of the film, but also has the name of the setting in the title! I had always kind of assumed that London Has Fallen would be the first film to get the coveted A+, but I obviously forgot that any 1986 cycle would have to include Shanghai Surprise. I feel pretty good about it. It joins When in Rome, Texas Rangers, Bangkok Dangerous, Battle: Los Angeles, Ghosts of Mars, Pompeii, Sweet Home Alabama, The Haunting in Connecticut, and Harlem Nights as our clear A+ BMT settings films. There are some other candidates that would need to be debated (I Dreamed of Africa, Jupiter Ascending, etc.), but those are the solid ones. Congrats everyone. We made it.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Shanghai Surprise? More like Makes Patrick Sigh! And it does. As I watched this film I just sighed to myself and thought “Yup. This is my life”. I don’t really get some of these films. I understand that De Laurentiis was going bankrupt and was throwing shit at the wall when Raw Deal and King Kong Lives was made. That makes sense. But optioning Shanghai Surprise for a Penn / Madonna vehicle with inordinate international filming costs? Bewildering. Let’s get into it.

  • The Good – It seems like most people disagree with me, but I thought the basic storyline here was okay. No joke. I was pretty interested in the happenings for a good third of the film. The soundtrack was bonkers and banging, just so bizarre and weirdly catchy and maybe culturally insensitive. George Harrison is a madman. I can forgive how confusing the film was because it ran like Indiana Jones crossed with a Noir film, Penn is the detective in this scenario, just his skillset is supposed to be that of an adventurer.
  • The Bad – The movie is certainly dull. The back third is bizarre in a bad way with a very annoying businessman who is obsessed with baseball and talks in the third person tagging along for a solid chunk of it. Madonna might be one of the worst things we’ve seen in a BMT film, just a terrible actress. The twist at the end was telegraphed from the beginning. I wrote in my notes: “That guy is actually this other guy, book it”. Don’t be too impressed, it was literally the same actor with a terribly fake mustache on. Speaking of bad facial hair, Penn has bar none the worst makeup for the first twenty minutes of this film as you’ll ever see.
  • The BMT – Hmmmmmm, I’ve kind of psyched myself into this one a bit. I would give it a 25 probably, median BMeTric. The movie is weird, I still don’t quite understand how it has a 3.0 on IMDb, that is just so incredibly low. I just don’t really understand how anyone watches it now and proclaims it as one of the worst movies ever made. It doesn’t feel like one of the worst movies ever made. But I would watch it in a BMT movie marathon. It could sneak into some Worst of the 80s medley or something.

Phew. Let’s see. I wouldn’t want a remake to this film for Sequel / Prequel / Remake, but which would be better, a prequel (outlining the hilarious misadventures of Sean Penn’s character in his trading travels in China) or a sequel (Penn and Madonna as drug kingpins in post-WWII China)? They are both good. So why not both? We’ll get Chris Pratt for the prequel, make it kind of a Indiana Jones in China affair, except as a goof he’s always just inexplicable looking for opium. For the second old-strongman-body Sean Penn will reprise his role and we’ll run it like The Gunman, shaky cam action. Madonna’s character is gunned down in the streets as Penn realizes he’s lost the territory battle for the heroin market in 70s China. Time for some payback. The first will be called Shanghai Surprise: Legacy. The sequel will be called Shanghai Surprise 2: Street War. Oof, these both sound terrible. Netflix, I’m waiting by the phone, I’ll direct it for free.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Deadly Friend Recap

Jamie

This week we began on the Sklog’s Birthday Bonanza, all movies from 1986, with a movie based on a book, Deadly Friend. As I watched Deadly Friend I couldn’t help but think to myself “Hmmm, I would have thought I’d be having more fun watching this than I am.” After all, this was a film that featured a bright yellow robot as a main character and a death scene involving a zombie throwing a basketball at someone’s head so hard that it literally explodes! But almost everything outside of those two things was pretty meh. But I’ll leave the further analysis of the film to Patrick.

In terms of the adaptation from the book Friend by Diana Henstell, we actually got a bit of a departure going from print to screen. The book was just a classic boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, girl is killed by father, boy resurrects girl on a stormy, lightning-filled night. Just classic stuff. At its core it’s just an update of the Frankenstein story to a 1980’s love story. The movie kept a lot of the main storyline (the boy’s weird robot best friend is probably the most peculiar), but scrapped a lot of the Frankenstein heavy features, choosing instead to focus on the love story (and eventually the gore). The most prominent change made was to the motivation of the main character bringing his love interest back from the dead. In the book the boy is distraught over her death and in a fit of anger/love/insanity steals her body from the mortuary and attempts to revive her (to horrifying effect). In the film they seemed to shy away from having the main character straight-up rob a grave. Instead he plans on installing a microchip into her brain to revive her from a coma. Finding that he is too late to the hospital and she has already passed away he decided to go forward with the operation and revives her (to horrifying effect). Just a little softening to make an unlikable character… well, still pretty unlikable. Overall, I found the book to be quite the drag (mostly because the main character is a pain in the ass and super weird) and unsurprisingly the movie it inspired isn’t much better. It’s basically the worst combo. At least with a lot of the other films we watched for this cycle I enjoyed either the film or the book (or both). In this case they both were just OK. Phew… finally no more books to read.

This week Settings 101 was an exhilarating adventure. We’ve been on quite the run of films with distinct locations, so it’s nice to have to work for it this week. While watching the film there were several scenes with fairly clear license plates shown to the viewer. Unfortunately, these license plates turned out to be prop plates with “Drive Safely” written at the top rather than the state name (kind of like the “Great State” license plates of The Tuxedo). Unwilling to give up I scoured the rest of the film for any other indication of location. Fortunately the film opens with a scene of the boy moving with his mother to their new home. He is navigating the highways and byways of America and has a map on his lap. That map? A map of Illinois! Now this would hardly be definitive except that there is a line marking their route through the state ending near the city of Peoria. Now does this really mark their route? How are we to know whether this truly means that the film is set in Illinois or if they just grabbed a random prop map for the film? Who cares! Set in Illinois! A definitive D-. Literally the least amount of information that could possibly be provided and still arguably have a set location. I. Love. It.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Deadly Friend? More like Dreadful Fraud, amirite? We watched what I will describe as a very strange movie, and probably for a very strange reason. Let’s just get into it:

  • The Good – Um, honestly nothing? It isn’t really a movie I would say. It is somewhat charming in the technological youth it exhibits in its hopes and dreams of robots at that point in the 80s. But it is a barely movie through and through. Even the practical effects aren’t effective. And acting is okay for what it is I guess. But at that points in time it is a low-budget nonsense movie. I wonder why it has a cult following …
  • The Bad – I’ve already went through it a bit, but the movie is bonkers. It makes little sense in some ways (the main character is either totally insane or a sociopath) and then is only morbidly fascinating in most others. It is boring, and weird, and falls short in almost every way. As Jamie said: it should be more fun, but it isn’t.
  • The BMT – No. Too small and boring. Like Maximum Overdrive it is only BMT in showing how people completely botched horror in the 80’s. Probably the cocaine.

Ah, and why did we watch this movie? Because 1986 is amazing terrible for bad movies. It was between this and Shanghai Surprise as far as we could tell (since we have already seen Cobra) and Shanghai Surprise had to be reserved for Romance … so yeah, getting a bit sparse. This cycle … might be bad.

You know what? I’m going to leave it there. Deadly Friend isn’t very inspiring.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Bonfire of the Vanities Recap

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Bonfire of the Vanities? More like Bonfire of the Banalities. I had a tough time figuring this movie out, and I’ll tell you why. Let’s go.

  • The Good – For much of the movie it is well acted. I was rather impressed with Hanks, Willis (surprisingly), and especially Melanie Griffith. It is, for decent stretches, at least fascinating. I would say I was more confused as to whether this was supposed to our world or a truly surreal satirical take on our world, and perhaps that is what kept my attention, but there were certainly bits I did like.
  • The Bad – Where to begin … I mean, I know this movie is a satire, but it does come across as genuinely racist. Like it is painting a picture of a world it imagines exists and then takes the unfortunate tack of taking down the strawman caricatures it creates, as if that is meaningful. I kept grasping at things, trying to think how I could make the movie better in some tangible way, but the unfortunate thing is: without reading the book I didn’t know! I knew the movie’s approach couldn’t be the book’s angle because it would have been torn down and cast out of society with vigor. But how it differed I didn’t know. Reading the IMDb notes and realizing they were forced to recast the judge as black (Morgan Freeman) makes oh so much sense. At times I really couldn’t believe what I was watching. I found it shocking. I knew it was supposed to be satire, but it is so weak that occasionally you get lulled into the sense that you are watching a real movie only to be shaken awake by angry and awful people and actions. I found the first half of the film stressful, and the second half unpleasant (if slowly relieving as you realize that things are kind of going to way you’d expect them to go). So there you go. I did not think this is was not that bad, but perhaps that is the mood I was in, willing to take this silly movie a bit too seriously. And yet my feelings seem to mirror the critical reception at the time, so I’m giving myself the benefit of the doubt.
  • BMT – I’ll keep this short. I thought it was boring, but shocking enough to warrant a solid 25 and maybe (maybe) I’d throw it to someone with the tentative recommendation that you are watching a truly strange movie come to life. I do kind of want to read the book about the making of this movie. It must have been simply bonkers.

Let’s see. Sequel/Prequel/Reboot would be fun to try and figure out who would play all of the people in a reboot made this year (plus, hey, it’s not like we are having a serious discussion on race in the United States at the moment …). So in the Tom Hanks role I wanted someone with that boyish charm, who can play someone you kind of want to hate a bit, and as close to 35 as possible (a believable age for the social position Hanks was in in the movie), and I think Andrew Garfield in that role would work really well. You could definitely believe him on Wall Street and then sympathize as his world falls apart around him. Bruce Willis comes across a lot older than he actually is (also 35 at the time), but also the literal alcohol character is tough to pull off I feel like these days, they are either now much older or the perpetual party boy type deal (like Miles Teller in The Spectacular Now). I went a little older and found Danny McBride which I think could work, even has the comedy chops if they wanted to go that direction again. Jeremy Renner or Joel Edgerton could both work as well. Scarlett Johansson in the Griffith role rounds out the important bits. Recast Freeman in his own role and you got a stew cooking.

There isn’t much beyond the three leads to make this movie again if they cared. The rest of the cast you could debate back and forth, but really that is unimportant compared to actually getting the tone right.

Jamie

As we finish our Now A Major Motion Picture cycle heading into our transition week, I can start to think retrospectively about the collection of books that I’ve (largely suffered) through. In most cases the books and the films were either very similar, bordering on straight adaptations (Pinocchio, Phantoms, The Choice, and The 5th Wave) or wildly different (Fair Game, Get Carter, and Random Hearts). The Bonfire of the Vanities stands out because it’s not really in either category. The first half of the film is basically a straight adaptation, with only minor changes to how characters look or behave. Halfway through the film though, it veers wildly off course. Starting from a scene where our main character Sherman McCoy wanders out of a courtroom in which he has been indicted on charges of reckless endangerment, we, as the audience, also wander helplessly from a film that made some sense, to one that makes no sense. I was so confused by the tone change at that point (anchored by what I knew from the book) that I actually assumed for a while that what we were seeing was a dream sequence (spoiler alert: not the case). It seems at this point that the filmmaker decided that he no longer liked the film he was making (probably because all the characters are terrible people) and decided that the movie needed some bucking up. Let’s all of sudden make Peter Fallow a hero (rather than the shitty pulp tabloid man that he is in the book), let’s have Sherman comically brandish a shotgun in a crowded party, and let’s make the climax of the film be the just acquittal of our valiant hero (!!!) Sherman McCoy. In the book this climax was just only in that it took all the shitty, vain people involved in the story and destroyed them all in a blaze of glory. In the film none of the characters are developed enough to convey this (and the ones that are developed have been developed into nicer, softer characters) so that the climax is played straight. Gross.

Funny enough this probably wouldn’t have made a difference to me if I hadn’t read the book. I wondered if I would have thought the film was well-acted and well-written (albeit a bit aimless), and produced in that Hollywood way to make it pleasant enough. I thought that I might have even said It’s Not That Bad.™ With the book, though, it seemed like a disaster. In the end I think Patrick and I agreed though. The fact of the matter is that the book is considerably more shocking in its racism than the film and in that way you can see the satire. It creates caricatures of real NYC dwellers of the time, but magnifies the hidden racism that roils beneath in order to satirize the institutions in the city (police, law, finance, politics). But how the film reigned back the exaggeration and dared to soften the McCoy and Fallow characters destroys the satire and in turn makes it simple offensive. Basically, I was wrong in my assumption that I might not be offended if I didn’t have the book to anchor me. His recap proves that I would have probably been even more offended.

Perhaps it’s a byproduct of all these films being based on books, but we’ve had a nice little run of films with very distinct settings for Settings 101. Once again we have a film that gets an A! In this case The Bonfire of the Vanities is a takedown of the New York City elite. Obviously they couldn’t change the setting or else the entire message would be lost (instead they just lost the message through shitty character development). We get several shots of the New York skyline, a close-up shot of Sherman McCoy’s New York license plate, clear “Manhattan” and “Bronx” highway signs, and a climax that centers around the idea of a white Manhattanite running over an African American youth in The Bronx. Kinda hovers a bit between A- and A as there isn’t really a distinct New York landmark used as a prop. But as the setting itself is vital to the plot and unchangeable, I give it the A. Once again, misses out on the coveted A+ by not having the setting in the title of the film.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

The 5th Wave Recap

Jamie

It’s pretty easy to sum up my feelings on The 5th Wave book/movie combo. They are both equally terrible. The book was quite the slog, coming in over 500 pages but reading like if they took the beginning of The Hungers Games (before she even gets picked for the games) and just streeeeeettttcccchhhed that right out. We are made aware of an alien attack and how four waves have decimated the Earth’s population, but then spend hundreds and hundreds of pages with our characters sitting around working out their feelings of loss and despair. They just kind of repeat over and over “I was a normal kid, but now I’m not so normal. Perhaps I am no longer even human. Alas, what is human? What is humanity? What is life? What makes it worth living? Alas. Woe is me.” You spend hours in these kids heads as they mostly do nothing but sit around. It’s tough. As for the film, I would have ventured to say that it was virtually unfilmable. Not enough happens in the book to make it interesting on the screen, and yet there is so much setup (presumably for the other books) that it can’t all fit into an effective storyline. They either needed to totally change the story or combine the books into a single film and just focus on the action that’s available. They, of course, just put the book directly to screen… It was basically the worst of both worlds. Not only did they retain the noticeable lack of action, but they brutalized the characters in order to fit the book into a 100 minute package. God I hope they don’t make more of these. I really don’t want to read the next book. Patrick?

In what has become a standard in the BMT review we are once again grading this film for Settings 101. Like all YA novels, this story takes place in Ohio (fine, it’s just I Am Number Four… but isn’t is weird that a different, alien-centric young adult novel with a number in the title is also set in Ohio?). We first become aware of the setting through news network maps depicting the location of the alien mothership hovering over Ohio. There is also a hint of location during the earthquake/tsunami wave, where our main characters explains that they were able to survive since they only had to worry about a smaller wave coming in from the Great Lakes. This would have been enough for a solid C rating. Adding to the grade though is the vital role that Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (in Dayton, OH) plays in the plot! This is the alien base and is mentioned by name throughout the film. Additionally, when our main character is working her way to the base she uses a map of Ohio to do so with Dayton clearly marked and circled. Similar to Random Hearts I have to ultimately give this an A-. While the presence of Wright-Patterson as a major plot point is good, it could have been replaced by many other air force bases. It’s not iconic or irreplaceable.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone? The 5th Wave probably refers to how many overpowering waves of nausea you’ll experience while watching this film! (straight up roasts up here this week). Alright, we went YA with this, and as an expert in trash YA novels let’s get into it.

  • The Good – The acting across the board was adequate. Moretz and Schreiber (killing it again in BMT, right on the heels of his tour de force performance in Phantoms) in particular made it out mostly unscathed. The story for the most part was interesting, even if I needed Jamie to explain some of the secret book reasoning behind some choices.
  • The Bad – The love triangle was garbage, most adults in the film might as well have been faceless blobs for how relatable they are. The story structure is so classically droll (really? A voiceover flashback combination? I know it can make sense with a book, but mix it up, don’t “read” me the characterization of everybody. They end up completely botching the army storyline involving Zombie (who should have nipped that terrible nickname right in the bud when it came up, it is the worst).
  • The BMT – Yes, but especially if they can squeeze a few more adaptations out of it. I’ve read Hunger Games and Divergent and each of those tumbled straight downhill in quality. I’m tempted by Maze Runner as well (especially the Porch Trials). But this is by far the worst any of these series started out. And they almost always get worse as they go on. Give us one more, please. I need more Evan Walker in my life (not really, he was by far the worst actor in the film I thought).

Phew, I like YA novels and adaptation, especially when they are Sci Fi, but jeez louise, this is pretty mind melty. Especially when you have a true plot hole! I’m going to call this Major Sklog-servations a small discussion about a major revelation I had during Me and Jamie’s discussions about the film. In this case: In the book the revelation that (spoiler alert!) the aliens can take on human form is a rather well known fact apparently. It is a reason people distrust the army when they come around. In the movie this is not the case, they explicitly trust the army and do not find out about body snatching until the army tells them. The point at which the army tells the audience about this issue is one of crossroads for our protagonist played by Moretz. She has just missed the bus to the army base, she sees the entire refugee camp gunned down in the heat of argument, and she flees into the woods. There is no doubt that she couldn’t have heard or known about the body snatching from the army in the refugee camp … except moments later in her journal she discusses the issues concerning losing trust in humanity when anyone she knows could be an Other. Powerful stuff and a rare actual plot hole (most plot holes are usually just events that stretch credulity, not an actual plot inconsistency). She manages to intuit something inherently non-intuitive (and terrifying), that she cannot ask anyone for help because they may be an other. I would think this is clearly a plot point lost in translating the novel to the screen and either uncaught or left as a minor continuity issue. Fin.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs