Christmas with the Kranks Recap

Jamie

With their daughter away for Christmas, the Kranks decide to skip it all together, save some money, and go for a luxury cruise much to the annoyance of their neighbors. That is until their daughter surprises them on Christmas Eve. Can they turn it around and save Christmas before it’s too late? Find out in… Christmas with the Kranks.

How?! When Luther and Nora Krank’s only daughter heads off to Peru with the Peace Corps it seems like Christmas just won’t be the same. In a stroke of genius Luther concocts a scheme where they will boycott the entire holiday, save some money, and go on a luxury cruise instead. This plan immediately runs into trouble as they boycott the firemen, police officers, and boy scouts who come for the normal charity and kindness they’ve come to expect from the Kranks in the holiday season. Not this year, freeloaders! No retreat and no surrender! They particularly miff their holiday obsessed neighbors when they refuse to decorate their house along with everyone else. After suffering the entire community’s scorn they get tantalizingly close to their cruise only to get a call from their daughter surprising them with a holiday visit with her new fiance she met in Peru! Oh no! Scrambling around they find themselves unable to get guests or decorations together for a last minute Christmas Eve party. Looking for one last dose of holiday cheer Luther attempts to put up a giant Frosty decoration on his house, but nearly dies in the process. Seeing this near death experience the neighbors band together to put on the party and give the Krank clan a Christmas they’ll never forget. The End.

Why?! This is actually an interesting question. Everyone kind of assumes that they decide to skip Christmas to save a quick buck, which obviously rubs everyone the wrong way. It’s no wonder they think this either since both Luther and Nora use this excuse throughout the film. While it’s made more explicit in the book, the reality is that Luther just doesn’t really like Christmas. He thinks it’s wasteful and stressful and is basically just protesting the season. He doesn’t like the peer pressure to participate that is heaped on them by their neighbors and he wants to show how much better it is to just skip it. Spoiler alert, though, it turns out skipping it is much more stressful than actually doing it. So I guess the moral of the story is that peer pressure works really well.

What?! For a Christmas movie this was surprisingly bereft of product placement. I would note an interesting thing about the Frosty prop used in the film. IMDb claims that it was Tim Allen’s dad’s Frosty that is used in a huge number of different films. This cannot possibly be true. First, the book has the Frosty plotline, which would be super coincidental. Second, the Frosty prop is now on display in a Christmas film prop show currently in Akron. Third, there is zero evidence online to corroborate this absurd claim. For shame, IMDb.

Who?! Dedicate “in loving memory” to Alan King, a famous comedian who died the year of its release. He apparently shot some scenes in the role of Luther’s boss, but they ended up on the cutting room floor. He also has a dedication in the credits of Rush Hour 3, which is an interesting double billing. The Alan King Double Feature.

Where?! Riverside, Illinois is the home of the Kranks. Noted by a local newspaper and police. Lots of license plates around as well. Solid, but not over the top. B.

When?! A+ Setting Alert! Again, nothing like a holiday film to open the door for some title integration. Made me wonder if there is any example of a film with a double A+ setting. Both a place and a time integrated in title. A Christmas title is the best opportunity. Something like A New York Christmas or something. Autumn in New York is a good one Patrick found, but I’m not sure how I would grade that. I know how to grade this, though. A+.

I took one for the team this week and read the novella on which this film is based, Skipping Christmas by John Grisham (yes, that John Grisham). For the most part the film is an exact adaptation, made possible by the low page count. The only additions were some slapstick stunts like the freezing of a cat, which were probably deemed necessary since the book is mostly a story of a bunch of assholes being assholes to each other (with some snark thrown in here and there). I have to note one glaring omission: in the book when the Kranks hear that their daughter is bringing her new Peruvian fiance to Christmas they take a moment to note that many Peruvians are dark-skinned… alrighty. I thought I had misread it. But, then when he shows up they note with glee that he’s not dark-skinned at all, but is in fact lighter than Luther… sufficed to say that didn’t make it into the film. Nothing like a bit of casual racism to get you in the holiday spirit. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Your production company is feeling that itch for some corporate synergy. They’re wondering if a Christmas movie could be made that as a bit more … apologetic towards the rampant commercialization of the holiday season. You’ve got a can-do attitude, right?! Grab your John Grisham novel, and milk that sweet IP! Let’s get into it!

The Good (Sequel, Prequel, Remake) – Tim Allen pulls off the grumpy-dad character quite well. And while the message is gross, the ultimate pay off in the end kind of makes it all understandable. Also, credit where credit is due, I did not see the rather emotional twist at the end coming. I think I want to see the Sequel! That’s right, in the intervening years, while Blair and Enrique have come to Chicago every year for the big Christmas bash, this year Blair is pregnant and can’t travel from, you guessed it, Peru! So the Kranks are going on vacation. It’s a culture clash for the ages as the Kranks meet the Decardenals (holy shit, he has a last name!) and have a true blue peruvian Christmas! Christmas with the Kranks 2: Meet the Decardenals!

The Bad (Sklognalogy) – The message is pretty gross as all of the reviews say. Even then, the movie is kind of two movies smushed together. The first half is all about them skipping Christmas (and honestly, being jerks about it … like, you are saving $3K, you can’t give a donation to the cops, c’mon!), and then halfway through they realize they can’t anymore, so it kind of kicks into high gear at that point. As far as Christmas films go, this might be the worst I’ve seen (Saving Christmas doesn’t count), but it still has the charm of being about family and fun and Christmas. You just wish it wasn’t so heavy-handed and gross about greed-is-good mentality of embracing Christmas materialism. The Sklognalogy is … well, avoiding the obvious, let’s go with The Guardian starring Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Costner. Another movie that feels like two movies smushed together and ultimately fails to be particularly good versions of either movie it is trying to be.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – I think this could have major ramifications for BMT, but it depends on whether we are willing to sacrifice some BMT Live action. Primarily because … I think this movie could have been really fun to watch around Christmas. Which makes me think we could have three BMT Lives and a BMT Holiday extravaganza instead. If that happens, this movie will make a turning point in BMT. Otherwise, none, perfectly forgettable beyond being a not-at-all-secret BMT Holiday film. It does get a few shouts as a top ten worst holiday film. And gets shouts as one of the worst films of 2004. In other words, this had the cred. Like Deck the Halls, it had to be done as an all-time bad holiday film.

Before I go I want to do a brief analysis on the “friend” from this pair. In this case we were testing the waters concerning Christian Films, by watching Saving Christmas, breaking an unspoken BMT rule in the process. So, did we prove the rule by watching the exception and realizing even the extremes still barely qualify? Or are more religious films coming soon to a BMT near you? … Personally, it is the exception that proves the rule. Christian films are low quality, and just make me angry with what is often a disingenuous holier-than-thou attitude. Our unspoken rule of really only doing those once in a lifetime movies seems a-ok to me at this point. This is a BMT film, but it is also probably the biggest one ever released (not counting something like Passion of the Christ I suppose) … and it still barely qualifies. So doubtful any others are really worth it.

Cheerios, 

The Sklogs

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Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas Recap

Jamie

Kirk Cameron loves Christmas and is dismayed to find his brother-in-law Christian is not as enthusiastic. Can he sway his opinion about the holiday with some totally unassailable logic and deep biblical knowledge before it’s too late? Find out in… Saving Christmas.

How?! Kirk Cameron is ready to settle in with some strictly Xmas related things: hot chocolate, fireplaces, and sweaters… just some typical religious icons. But some people in this world don’t want you to enjoy all those super nonsecular things. No sir. They either want you to not be so enthusiastic or they want you to celebrate only Jesus. Booooooo. Scrooges, the lot of them. So Kirk is rightfully shocked to find his brother-in-law Christian is one of the Scrooges! Oh no! He thinks presents are dumb, Christmas trees are pagan heresy, and Santa is a capitalistic monster. Bah humbug! Luckily Kirk Cameron is there to save the day (and that day is Christmas), because he know everything about the bible and all of those things are totes in there and totally cool. Don’t worry about it. You probably didn’t pick up on all the Christmas trees in the bible because you weren’t as smart as Kirk Cameron. He’ll explain it to you. Once Christian is convinced he heads into the house for a little nog, a little dance party, and a swell Christmas dinner with his BFFs. The End.

Why?! To save Xmas, bro! Duh! People are literally at war with Christmas. They want to stamp out all of your beliefs. Kirk will help you defeat the theist and atheist fiends alike with some airtight counterpoints. Everyone else… uh… wait, there isn’t anyone else in this film. Just him talking to you while he sits in a car.

What?! The idea that this film would have a product placement is laughable. The closest we get is a prominent shot of the GMC truck that Kirk and Christian sit in for an hour while they talk at us. But yeah, it def wasn’t a product placement… right?

Who?! Solid Director-turned-actor here with Darren Doane playing second fiddle to Kirk Cameron. A little foreshadowing with my boy Doane: he also directed another of the films that is part of the Bring A Friend cycle, which is absurd. Also have to note the Christian dance troop that is featured prominently in the last 15 minutes of the film: God Squad Dance Crew. I would link to their website but I don’t actually want to go to it.

Where?! Pretty obviously takes place in LA, but not explicitly stated. You do get a straight shot of the license plate of the car they sit in for an hour and it definitely has a California plate. So you got the state. C-.

When?! A+ Setting Alert! Best part of a Christmas movie is you have the temporal setting sitting right there for the taking. Worst part is you occasionally have to see absolute trash like this. Gross. A+.

This. Film. Is. Terrible. I would never, ever, ever, ever, ever watch it again… Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! So you are want to create something wonderful for your flock to enjoy in the Christmas (with a capital Christ) season to combat the liberal War on Christmas? Who are you going to call? Child-star-turned-evangelical-icon Kirk Cameron of course! I hope he knows how to make movies … he does know how to make movies right?! Let’s get into it!

The Good (Sequel, Prequel, Remake) – The film quality is … good. Like the picture itself. They rented cameras that were good enough for a feature length production. Honestly, I’m having trouble even thinking through whether I should do sequel/prequel/remake … I mean, like, Remake. Remake this movie with real actors? Although you’d probably just end up with Left Behind starring Nic Cage. So, what is there to say? This will serve its purpose. People will watch it in Sunday school and it’ll give a few tough questions answers that sound good. But is there anything in this movie that is “good”? No, it is not a real movie. It can amuse more than you would think, but mostly it made me angry by just how disingenuous it managed to be.

The Bad (Sklognalogy) – This is a real one: at one point they talk about “santa” and about how Saint Nicholas was a real person. Then they show him beating the shit out of someone and everyone is like “man, Santa’s a badass”. That’s assault brotha, and it is nothing to celebrate, especially not in a purported Christian film. The acting is terrible, the film is not a movie. By technical definitions even. It opens with a five minute intro by Cameron talking to the camera about how much he loves hot chocolate, and then ends with (not kidding) a 20 minute sequence involving a dance party, a dinner scene, and then blooooooopies. This movie is less than an hour long. The Sklognalogy is … no not Left Behind. Even when we did Left Behind, at least that had a story. This does not, it comes across as almost stream of consciousness. It is produced by Liberty University! No, the Sklognalogy is Atlas Shrugged III: Who is John Galt? A pure propaganda film that isn’t a real movie, disingenuous, holier than thou, and wholly terrible.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – For at least a year, and this will be expanded upon more in the Christmas with the Kranks, this I think puts the nail in the coffin of doing more explicitly religious films (like God’s Not Dead 2 for example). It just isn’t really worth it. I will come out of it the same way: angry and with a simple five word review: “This is not a movie”. This had the streetcred though. Due to Kirk Cameron’s own idiotic victim mentality he went to social media to decry the unfair online reviews his movie got! … which promptly got him more negative reviews and single-handedly caused his movie to nearly sweep the Razzies. It did get a shout at 18th worst of the year at the AV Club, but often was overshadowed by Left Behind and God’s Not Dead from the same year. Every review basically calls it an experimental film trying to figure out how little actual movie can be made while still releasing to theaters.

I’ll probably leave it mostly there. I will point out something I thought was rather humorous from this entire humorless affair. Darren Doane’s character Christian sits around in his car the whole time while his wife is slaving away in the kitchen preparing this absolutely enormous dinner for friends and family … then when dinner comes around, who is at the head of the table as if he didn’t just sulk around for days on end like an asshole? Christian. The patriarchy, am I right?

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas Preview

See the Christmas with the Kranks preview for a description of all of the different movies we are doing for the Bring a Friend cycle! Some of the bonus films will be BMT (by our qualifications: <40% on Rotten Tomatoes, big box office release, released after 1980), some won’t. This week, our film is for sure qualified! Here’s what I wrote about this “friend” in particular:

Christian FilmsThese get major releases, but usually aren’t our bag. A liiiiiiittle holier than thou. Unless you’re Madea, then I love you. Saving Christmas here we come!

True to form, we’re mashing up Saving Christmas with the Kranks! Saving Christmas is by all accounts not a real film, but rather a 79 minute Youtube response video to the made up “War on Christmas.” We actually told ourselves we would NEVER watch it and yet here we are. Bring a Friend was an offer we couldn’t refuse. Ho ho ho, everyone. Let’s go!

Saving Christmas (2014) – BMeTric: 74.9

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(Consistent. A good sign. Even after the hubbub (instigated by Cameron himself like an idiot) it has maintained its ridiculously low rating. Otherwise only surprising because of how many votes it has to be honest, considering it barely was released to theaters.)

RogerEbert.com – 1 star –  Doing nothing but preaching to the converted—literally and badly to boot—”Saving Christmas” is a terrible movie regardless of one’s eschatological mindset. And while it may not be the worst Christmas-related movie ever (a title I believe is still held by the vile “Christmas with the Kranks”), it certainly does the genre no favors. However, if watching shoddily filmed presentations of shoddily constructed arguments justifying a self-absorbed perspective is the kind of thing that strikes your fancy, then it may indeed be up your alley after all.

(Shout out to Christmas with the Kranks!! What what. Amazing. Time for a little lesson: eschatological (adj.) – The part of theology concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind. Pushing it brother. Spoiler alert, it is not up my alley, and I’m prob not going to be a huge fan. But I’m ready and willing to expand my horizons.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqG1Hafyhhk

(Barf. The two people in the car are the director, Darren Doane, and Kirk Cameron. I’m genuinely curious how long the dance sequence lasts. By all accounts this movie, based on actual content, is like 40 minutes long, so I will be disappointed if that dance sequence isn’t a bloated five minutes minimum.)

Directors – Darren Doane – (BMT: Saving Christmas; Razzie Notes: Won for Worst Screenplay for Saving Christmas in 2015; and Nominated for Worst Director for Saving Christmas in 2015; Notes: Check out his wikipedia to see it incredible list of music video jobs. He’s directed a few small direct-to-video and bargain bin movies in the past, but otherwise is a hard right Christian documentary filmmaker.)

Writers – Darren Doane (written by) – (BMT: Saving Christmas; Razzie Notes: Won for Worst Screenplay for Saving Christmas in 2015; and Nominated for Worst Director for Saving Christmas in 2015; Notes: Hervey and Doane wrote the documentary Free Speech Apocalypse together. Is BMT objective? Should it be? From what I have seen about both these people they seem like disingenuous fanatic evangelicals to me, and that will color my viewing of this film. My research makes me question whether we should be watching this film … but I suppose that is the point of the bring a friend cycle in a way. I’ll leave both of these guys’ biographies there.)

Cheston Hervey (written by) – (BMT: Saving Christmas; Razzie Notes: Won for Worst Screenplay for Saving Christmas in 2015; Notes: Worked with Doane on Free Speech Apocalypse, helped write this, and was an extra in Saving Christmas as well.)

Actors – Kirk Cameron – (Known For: Fireproof; Future BMT: The Best of Times; BMT: Saving Christmas; Left Behind: The Movie; Razzie Notes: Won for Worst Actor, and Worst Screen Combo for Saving Christmas in 2015; Notes: I kind of wish he was just known as a funny kid actor from Growing Pains. Instead he’s known for making evangelical christian films. Married to fellow Growing Pains star Chelsea Noble)

Darren Doane – (BMT: Saving Christmas; Razzie Notes: Won for Worst Screenplay for Saving Christmas in 2015; and Nominated for Worst Director for Saving Christmas in 2015; Notes: Mentioned above. This movie sounds suspiciously like a Doane vehicle through and through. I wonder why it is called Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas.)

Bridgette Cameron – (BMT: Saving Christmas; Razzie Notes: Nominated for Worst Supporting Actress for Saving Christmas in 2015; Notes: Kirk Cameron’s sister.)

Budget/Gross – $500,000 / Domestic: $2,783,970

(Ugh. Legit success. This is how films like this (and I would put any film aimed at a niche audience in this camp) get made: you start will a small budget and smash it with your audience in intensely focused marketing. In this case you focus on church groups. Literal preaching to the choir.)

#50 for the Christian genre

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(This was the 59th biggest release for a film of this kind. I suppose it is interesting that while the average gross for the films isn’t great recently, that even with the massive explosion of films in the genre they didn’t drop too much. A good sign … maybe. It does seem like a genre which might be getting more niche as the years pass.)

#48 for the Christmas genre

savingchristmas_christmas

(Wow. Looks like it came right before a new boom. There were three during the last two Christmases, so one would assume there will be a few this year. The only obvious one on the schedule though is Bad Mom’s Christmas … gross. Anywho, this made no money.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 0% (0/13): No consensus yet.

(I’ll just paste a review that seems the most appropriate: Virtually everything about this production feels thrown together. In other words: you aren’t good at your job Doane. You had one job and you made a big old piece of shit instead.)

Poster – Kirk Cameron’s Saving Sklogmas (D-)

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(Messy, and Kirk Cameron’s arrogant smirk can shove it. But it is higher quality than you’d expect from a $500K film. Plus they put love and care into the font, hard to sklogify that. That saves it from an F. Dutch angles on the title though Kirk? C’mon, you’re better than that.)

Tagline(s) – Put Christ Back in Christmas (F)

(B-b-b-b-b-but cadence, and whatnot! Doesn’t matter, this is literally just the catchphrase for the War on Christmas nonsense. They didn’t make it for this movie, and it deserves no credit. Do you know what I say about that? Put the Sklog back in Sklogmas, that’s what I have to say.)

Keyword(s) – christmas; Top Ten by BMeTric: 92.1 Jack and Jill (I) (2011); 87.8 Jaws: The Revenge (1987); 84.0 Home Alone 3 (1997); 83.1 RoboCop 3 (1993); 75.6 Look Who’s Talking Now (1993); 74.9 Saving Christmas (2014); 74.4 Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (2009); 70.8 Getaway (2013); 69.6 Setup (I) (2011); 68.9 Are We There Yet? (2005);

(I would watch Getaway a million times instead of everything else on this list. Although Jack and Jill will be an interesting rewatch eventually I think.)

Notes – Kirk Cameron responded to the film’s negative reviews by pleading to his fans on his Facebook page: “Help me storm the gates of Rotten Tomatoes. All of you who love Saving Christmas – go rate it at Rotten Tomatoes right now and send the message to all the critics that WE decide what movies we want our families to see. If 2,000 of you (out of almost 2 million on this page) take a minute to rate Saving Christmas, it will give the film a huge boost and more will see it as a result! Thank you for all your help and support in putting the joy of Christ back in Christmas!” This actually resulted in a severe backlash against the film, in which Internet users traveled to the Rotten Tomatoes page and condemned the film. Cameron later blamed this action on “haters and atheists”. (Both are dumb, but I guess he started it. I won’t cry a river over Saving Christmas’ “cheap” rating is all I’m saying)

Made on a budget of $500,000.

“VeggieTales” creator Phil Vischer was asked to submit an opening segment to this film, but respectfully declined. (cooool)

Awards – Won the Razzie Award for Worst Picture

Won the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Kirk Cameron)

Won the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (Darren Doane, Cheston Hervey)

Won the Razzie Award for Worst Screen Combo (Kirk Cameron)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress (Bridgette Cameron)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Director (Darren Doane)

Cradle 2 the Grave Recap

Jamie

Jewel thief Anthony Fait’s daughter is kidnapped by international weapons dealers after he steals a load of black diamonds, which turn out to be weapons in disguise. Can he stop them and get his daughter back before it’s too late? Find out in… Cradle 2 the Grave.

How?! Anthony Fait is a thief looking for that last big score. Breaking into a high security diamond vault, he and his comrades make off with millions in jewels and some special black diamonds meant for a mysterious buyer. They begin to sense something is up when they find themselves tracked by a Taiwanese cop, Officer Su, and their contact for the sale is killed. Uh oh! Aiming to get rid of the loot and leave the country, Fait goes to get them assessed for sale. This move quickly goes awry when a group of gangsters, led by Jump Chambers, hear about the diamonds on the black market and steal them, while at the same time Fait’s daughter is kidnapped by the mysterious buyer as ransom for the diamonds. This is getting confusing. Now out both the diamonds and a daughter, Fait tracks the diamonds to a strip club owned by Jump, but again finds that he’s too late. The mysterious buyer has already scooped up the diamonds for himself! Still no diamonds or daughter in hand, Fait has only one option left. He has to track down the mysterious buyer who turns out to be an international arms dealer. In a twist it turns out the diamonds aren’t diamonds at all, but rather a secret weapon capable of destroying the world. They literally all do martial arts, beat up the baddies, save the girl, steal back the diamonds, and shoot down a helicopter with a tank in the span of like 15 minutes. The end.

Why?! Money, babbbyyyyyyyyy. All about the sweet green for all involved. Fait never wanted to steal a secret nuclear-grade weapon (why would he?). He just wanted diamonds. The antagonists only want the weapon so they can sell it. In fact, if the weapons guys were just cool about it they probably could have bargained with Fait to get them back for far less than they were gonna sell them for on the black market anyway. But nooooo, they had to go beat up poor Tom Arnold. Agent Su wants to stop everyone involved.

What?! MacGuffin Alert! The black diamonds here represent a classic type of MacGuffin: the mysterious superweapon that the baddies want to use/sell and the goodies want to keep safe. As with all good MacGuffin superweapons the explanation of exactly how they are so destructive is mostly technobabble nonsense about stripping away protons rather than adding neutrons to a substance. While I’ll be eating crow if it turns out the screenwriter of the film was a nuclear scientist and this all holds up, I do not believe this makes any sense whatsoever.

Who?! This film is chock full of all our favorite characters. We have Tom Arnold as a pretty good Planchet. Everyone thinks he kinda sucks and making fun of him is a lot of his humor. We also have DMX and fellow hip hop artist Drag-On in the crew stealing jewels. They shared a label with Ruff Ryders and as a result Drag-On appeared in both this and Exit Wounds with DMX… weird. We also have famed MMA fighter Chuck Liddell in a cameo for a cage fighting scene. Finally, Chi McBride has a notable role but chose to appear unbilled. Can only presume it was because of the product. So that’s a Planchet, musician-turned-actor, athlete-turned-actor, and major unbilled role all in one film. Word. Up.

Where?! We know for sure it’s set in CA from early in the film when the bad guys ask whether a compatriot of theirs is enjoying their time in California. It’s confirmed to be LA later whether a local news network reports that Fiat is leading the police on an X-treme ATV chase through downtown LA. Rad.

When?! The aforementioned Chi McBride is stuck in jail but so rich and powerful that he’s essentially waited on by the prison staff. That includes a weekly delivery of the latest Baseball Weekly periodical which includes an article on the Expos, Marlins coaching shuffle. March 20th, 2002 article so the date within a couple weeks of that. C.

Like DMX at the end of this film, it’s time for me to walk away from my life of crime and send this over to Patrick who will give you the straight dope. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! This week we watched Cradle 2 the Grave, a movie that promised non-stop martial arts action in our faces! Could the long-anticipated action-packed pairing of rap-badass-turned-Hollywood-megastar DMX and actual-martial-artist Jet Li live up to my self-generated hype? Could I have added more hyphens in that last sentence? Not likely on both counts, let’s get into it!

The Good (Sequel, Prequel, Remake) – I dug the heist in the beginning and the soundtrack is jamming on multiple occasions. The sidekicks of Anthony Anderson and Tom Arnold gave a surprising amount of levity to the affair. The acting wasn’t nearly as bad as one would expect. I think I’d do a two-for-one! (Two-for one! Two-for-one!) First the Sequel, where we see Anthony Fait in prison after the events of the first film. He is approached by Su, who tells him Daria and Vanessa have been kidnapped by terrorists hoping to get him and Su to organize an heist to steal a cache of weapons and money from international arms dealings. The game is afoot, as Su breaks Anthony out of prison and the crew is assembled. Can the small-time crooks make it big in international espionage? Find out in Cradle 3 the Grave: Arms Race! Follow that with a Prequel which sees Anthony Faits helping his protege Miles get out of a jam with Jump Chambers. Recruiting Tommy and enlisting the help of Archie they attempt to make one big score to save Miles’ skin. Along the way Anthony falls in love, only to lose his wife tragically at Jump’s hand a year later (this is all post-credits) leaving him a single father to Vanessa. Daria turns on Jump and joins the crew, fade out. Cradle 1 the Grave: Origins.

The Bad (Sklognalogy) – The film becomes very cliche later on, devolving to wire-work action, ludicrous pseudo-science nuclear weapons nonsense, and ridiculous explosions. The final scene whereby all three protagonists fight is terrible, with only Jet Li and Mark Dacascos giving us anything worthwhile. Even then the wire-work ruins it, no wonder the style died out, it looks dumb in anything outside of the Matrix. I didn’t hate the movie, but it certainly disappointed later on. Sklognalogy is, and this could be controversial, Stone Cold starring Brian Bosworth. A movie I kind of dug, which is partially torpedoed by the fact that the main character is not an actor and comes across as cheesy. This is higher quality overall, whereas I think, ultimately, I liked Stone Cold more.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – I feel like this movie is going to end up being the beginning of my education on martial arts in film. We’ve seen Seagal and Chuck Norris (in Expendables 2 only?) a bit, but have tended to shy away from what is, often, a straight-to-DVD genre through and through. After getting a thorough education on slasher films (which I plan on continuing), that seems like a logical place to look. The street cred is, not shockingly, low. The Rotten Tomatoes score wasn’t very low, and it came at a time when plenty of other terrible action films came out (like Bad Boys II). The claim to fame is mostly that this is the third in a series of films by the director which paired rappers with martial artists: Exit Wounds (Seagal and DMX), Romeo Must Die (Jet Li and Aaliyah), and Cradle 2 the Grave (DMX and Jet Li).

I’ll leave it there. There wasn’t any homework or extracurriculars to report on in this case.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Cradle 2 the Grave Preview

Whenever we start one of our long form Challenges like the mapl.de.map or Calendar, we always have a film in mind for a few of the spots. It’s no different for our newest challenge, The Periodic Table of Smellements. That’s right! For the Games entry of the Calendar cycle we’re hitting up Cradle 2 the Grave! Likely the most unnecessary numeral ever inserted into a title. So unnecessary that after picking it up from my local public library my wife asked me “Have you already seen the first one?” I had to inform her that this was the first one and that the 2 is there for no other reason than to amuse me and Patrick (I presume). Let’s go!

Cradle 2 the Grave (2003) – BMeTric: 37.2

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(Certainly seems like a “cult” type of film. A rating of 6.0 is genuinely solid, it is close to average for the top ten thousand films, and it is rising steadily towards average despite its critical ratings. Most of the BMeTric is from being relatively popular while being a bit below average.)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars –  As an array of baddies and rival half-baddies pursue coveted black diamonds that look like oversized Chiclets, most of the actors playing these parts pursue their dramatically diverse audience demographics. Union is around for the demographic that enjoys seeing semi-unclad lookers, but even those viewers may have trouble with a script about diamonds with nuclear capabilities. DMX’s neckwear looks as if it could pick up sandlot baseball games from Radio Havana.

(This review is semi-incomprehensible. But some deep burns. The diamonds look fake, the actors are just there to hit a checklist of demographics, Gabrielle Union in particular is just there to get naked, and even then the story is too ludicrous for any of that being fun! And then he ends with a crazy dig at DMX’s (I’m sure very classy) bling. I was with you up to then Leonard, but don’t take digs at the bling.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3FKBdIA26Q

(People flying around on wires it might as well be called. Have to say … pretty amped for this. DMX sountrack, people flipping around looking dumb, diamonds, Tom Arnold. Kind of surprised they give away that the jewels might not be jewels in the trailer to be honest, but still, I kind of dig that trailer. All I want is to get excited for the film when I watch it, and this does that admirably.)

Directors – Andrzej Bartkowiak – (Future BMT: Exit Wounds; BMT: Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li; Doom; Cradle 2 the Grave; Romeo Must Die; Notes: Primarily a cinematographer, known for his association with Sidney Lumet. He was cinematographer for Twins, which obviously inspired the BMT logo.)

Writers – John O’Brien (story & screenplay) – (Known For: Starsky & Hutch; Future BMT: The Dukes of Hazzard; BMT: Cradle 2 the Grave; Razzie Notes: Nominated for Worst Screenplay for The Dukes of Hazzard in 2006; Notes: There is nothing about this guy and I fear his name is too generic to get many certain hits elsewhere as well. Going from this to two tv-to-movie adaptations though feels a bit odd.)

Channing Gibson (screenplay) – (Known For: Lethal Weapon 4; Future BMT: Walking Tall; BMT: Cradle 2 the Grave; Notes: Prolific television writer. Won an emmy for his involvement with NYPD Blue.)

Actors – Jet Li – (Known For: The Expendables; The Expendables 2; Lethal Weapon 4; The Forbidden Kingdom; Unleashed; Fearless; Kiss of the Dragon; The Enforcer; Once Upon a Time in China; Future BMT: The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor; The One; The Emperor and the White Snake; BMT: Cradle 2 the Grave; The Expendables 3; Romeo Must Die; Notes: Was a Wushu champion in China training with the famous Wu Bin, and upon retiring at the age of 19 he went into acting. He apologized to Jackie Chan for taking part in High Risk, which has a character described as “a famous and popular action movie star famous for doing all of his own stunts. In reality, he is very lazy and lecherous.” … I have to watch this movie.)

DMX – (Future BMT: Exit Wounds; Belly; BMT: Cradle 2 the Grave; Romeo Must Die; Never Die Alone; Notes: A world renowned rapper. Recently though he is probably more well known for his legal issues moving through the court system concerning tax fraud.)

Mark Dacascos – (Known For: Le pacte des loups; Future BMT: The Island of Dr. Moreau; Double Dragon; Code Name: The Cleaner; Köshpendiler; BMT: Cradle 2 the Grave; Notes: Born in Hawaii he is a martial artist proficient in Wun Hop Kuen Do which he learned from his father. He’s studied other disciplines (including Wushu, which Jet Li is known for) as well, although is not considered a master.)

Budget/Gross – $25 million / Domestic: $34,712,347 (Worldwide: $56,489,558)

(Decent worldwide, but not great. I’ll have to look below to see how it compared to Martial Arts films of the time. That will indicate a bit more of what the studio was probably expecting, and whether the modest worldwide return would have been considered acceptable.)

#35 for the Action – Martial Arts genre

cradle2thegrave_martialarts

(This came right at the peak of people thinking Martial Arts were cool. Probably after the Matrix in 1999. The genre has basically died, but this is getting me more interested in looking into it as an “educational” opportunity. Like slashers and westerns, martial arts films never held much appeal for me, but learning the tropes and how they tick could be pretty fun. This scored around Street Fighter unfortunately.)

#15 for the Action – Wire-Fu genre

cradle2thegrave_wirefu

(Just above The Musketeer! The genre literally began with The Matrix and died out five years later. One would assume that is because wire work has been replaced by green screen and other cheaper techniques. What a time to be alive!)

Rotten Tomatoes – 26% (31/122): Dumb and by-the-numbers, but serviceable.

(Wow. Thanks Rotten Tomatoes, now I’m getting excited …. In reality this sounds boring. Dumb is good. By-the-numbers if bad. Serviceable though … sounds like they’ve put together a movie which makes sense, which for a martial arts film I think is a bad thing.)

Poster – Cradle 2 the Sklog (B-)

cradle_to_grave

(Real early 2000’s vibe on this guy. A bit too much going on, but I like the bold black with red features. Unique font and interesting spacing push it up a tad.)

Tagline(s) – Born 2 the life. True 2 the code. Bad 2 the bone. (A)

(Uh, yes. I am into this. Whether or not this has anything to do with the film itself is questionable, but I choose to believe it’s amazing.)

Keyword(s) – diamond; Top Ten by BMeTric: 94.4 Batman & Robin (1997); 89.3 Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997); 83.7 Super Mario Bros. (1993); 79.8 Littleman (2006); 70.8 The Spirit (2008); 69.6 Setup (I) (2011); 68.4 The Marine (2006); 67.9 Superman III (1983); 65.5 Thunderbirds (2004); 62.1 Bitch Slap (2009);

(Batman & Robin might be the most diamond-y movie in the history of diamond movies, fueling kick-ass puns throughout the film. All of these are great!! Setup is a crazy looking film starring Bruce Willis, 50 Cent, and Ryan Phillipe of I Know What You Did Last Summer fame! Just fantastic.)

Notes – The casting of Mark Dacascos was the result of a poll on Jet Li’s website where fans were asked who they would like to see him fight next. (The wonders of the Martial Arts movie fanbase … I don’t even know who this person is!)

Jet Li’s character only fights with one hand for a majority of the film.

Real life UFC competitors Tito Ortiz, Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell were recruited by producer Joel Silver for the cage fight sequence with Jet Li. (oooooh yeah, Couture would co-star with Li in The Expendables franchise later)

DMX was constantly late for shooting. (HA)

The film was originally developed as a remake of M (1931). (weird, may have to check that out)

When filming wrapped up on time and the editing was proceeding at a fast pace, Warner Bros. considered opening the film in late August – a mere three months after it finished shooting. They later opted to release the pic in late Feb the following year. (… after watching it)

At one point, Arnold Schwarzenegger was slated to star.

Aaliyah was set to star in the film until her untimely death in 2001. (Oh no. Last seen in Queen of the Damned I would imagine)

2nd film to star Anthony Anderson and Tom Arnold. They share more screen time in this movie than they did in Exit Wounds, where they shared the last scene together. They also have the same kinda ending in this movie where they talk about their mom’s and who would play them in a movie about what they just went through in this movie. It is also the second film to star DMX and Tom Arnold after Exit Wounds. (wait … the Tim Arnold? Yeah, it would appear so. Double weird. This movie is going to be weird as fuck)

Jason X Recap

Jamie

Jason’s back, Jack! It’s the year 2455 and Jason has been cryogenically frozen for centuries. Awakened from his slumber by some unwitting researchers from Earth II, will they be able to stop his murderous rampage before it’s too late? Find out in… Jason X.

How?! We open on Jason being held in the Crystal Lake Research Facility circa 2010. After numerous attempts to kill him with little success the scientists decide to cryogenically freeze him. Competing scientists attempt to prevent this so they can study his incredible power, but in the process set him loose. In a last ditch effort to incapacitate him, the good scientist tricks Jason into the freezing chamber, only to inadvertently freeze herself as well. Centuries later researchers from Earth II discover the scientist and Jason and bring them aboard their ship in hopes of reanimating them. When the scientist wakes up she is shocked to hear that they have brought Jason aboard but at this point he has already woken up and started his rampage (obviously). First the marines are sent to take care of him. Dead. Then the scientists try to dock with their main space station and escape, but Jason kills the pilot. Then they attempt to take an escape pod, but Jason scares a jumpy student to the point where she destroys the pod in terror. A literal robot assassin comes along, thinks she’s defeated Jason, but inadvertently creates an even more powerful super, future version of Jason (that actually happened). They are able to blow up the area of the shuttle that Jason’s on but he survives the vacuum of space and climbs back into the ship. Finally, after distracting him with a hologram simulation of Crystal Lake they are able to board a rescue ship, blow up the rest of the original ship, and Jason lands like a meteorite in a lake on Earth II. The End (or is it?… it is). This is pretty much the logical conclusion to the Jason invincible zombie storyline that they built the series on. He cannot die. Survives everything including the scourge of space. And if it sounded cool or interesting I assure you it’s not. It’s lame as shit.

Why?! Back to good old Jason Voorhees, killing machine. No thoughts or motivations except to destroy. Interestingly, like in The New Blood, there is a teacher character who has monetary motivation at stake. He wants to sell Jason to be studied for his regenerative abilities. This, of course, goes horribly awry. The rest of the characters want to get laid and survive.

What?! Obviously there aren’t a whole lot of products to be hocked in the year 2455, but there are seemingly innumerous terrible one-liners to be thrown away. One of these clunkers included a quick mention of the Microsoft Conflict, a particularly brutal civil war. I guess it’s funny because Microsoft is mentioned?

Who?! Interesting cameo by film director David Cronenberg who plays a creepy scientist intent on discovering the source of Jason’s super powers. Too bad he didn’t pop in his VHS copy of Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. Would have pretty quickly figured out it’s all due to a worm like creature contained in his body.

Where?! Boom. Gotta love the space setting. It really screams SciFi for this film that straddles both the SciFi and Horror genres. Important to the plot and as exact as we’re gonna get. A

When?! Takes place in the far future… future… future. It’s explicitly stated for expository purposes that Jason was frozen in 2010 and reanimated in 2455. It’s likely the farthest in the future we’ve traveled for BMT (although hard to say since we haven’t been noting settings for all that long). Not exact, but important to the plot. B

This film is rough stuff. Looks like shit, has a terrible script, and plays like a SyFy original. Shocking that it actually ended up in the Friday series and wasn’t abandoned. But I guess that’s the sweet allure of the intellectual property they were hoping to retain. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Jason X? More like Jason X: Leprechaun in Space! Combine a beloved horror franchise with expiring rights and ten years worth of lack of interest and what do you get? Almost no oversight apparently. This movie can be summed up in a single sentence: “fuck it, let’s just send him to space or some shit”. Let’s get into it!

The Good (Sequel, Prequel, Remake) – I think the one thing you can point to an potentially good is the fact that the film is hyper-self-aware. Jason is transporting around, everything looks super cheesy, and he basically smells premarital sex and drug use (quite literally, and one point being irresistibly lured by the actions as if by magic). If you find any rankings that place this installment anywhere but last or second-to-last it will be because of its tongue-in-cheek nature. Let’s go Sequel though! We left Jason in a new lake on Earth II 500 years in the future. I think you see him resurrected there, and, huge twist, he’s sent back in time to the middle ages! Finding himself caught up in a war between two ancient houses Jason emerges a hero leading a ragtag group of misfits in a battle for their (and his!) future! Jason X-2: King Jason and the Knights of Crystal Lake.

The Bad (Sklognalogy) – Everything. This movie is terrible. Terrible acting, terrible sets, terrible ideas, terrible dialogue, terribles kills, terrible effects, terrible ending. This movie is an abomination and doesn’t belong in any horror franchise. The turn to self-awareness and going all in as a parody doesn’t work because Jason is a real beloved character, one that cannot be so flippantly denigrated. If they wanted to make this movie (and they didn’t) I would have gone with a mock-Jason original film. But then again, that isn’t how you retain rights or make money. The analogy is, and this is going to come out of nowhere, but that garbage Wheel of Time television pilot from a few years back! A pure distilled last gasp effort for Red Eagle Entertainment to retain the rights to the Wheel of Time television show. Fuck you Red Eagle! (Good news, looks like Sony has the rights now)

The BMT (Legacy) – This film’s legacy is simple: it brings to an end the full 2017 watch of the original Friday the 13th franchise for BMT. “But what about Freddy v Jason!” you scream. Most places don’t count it as a pure Friday the 13th which is understandable. These last two taught me a lot about how slasher films lost their way in the 90s and, in many ways, the filmmakers who grew up with the franchises in the 80s managed to learn the wrong lessons when fashioning films in the 2000s. And I don’t know if we’ll ever see a true slasher franchise after Scream bit the dust a few years ago as well. Sigh.

And in a special installment of StreetCreditReport.com my definitive rankings of the ten Friday the 13th films!

  1. Friday the 13th – A lot more fun that you’d think and only hamstrung by attempting to preserve the twist of who the killer is. Solid slasher.
  2. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter – The most iconic good guy in Tommy Jarvis, good kills, best story with Jason
  3. Friday the 13th: Jason Lives – Brings back Tommy, and feels less cheap than most. Supernatural elements are introduced, but the best post-Final-Chapter.
  4. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood – Most formidable opponent for Jason, and contains the only scary bits of any post-Final-Chapter installment as well.
  5. Friday the 13th: Part 2 – Cheap, with poor character design for early Jason, but still fun kills with decent tension.
  6. Friday the 13th: Part III – The first I would call genuinely bad, only saved to a degree by being the most tongue-in-cheek of the early films.
  7. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan – Terrible film, but kind of fun idea that put Jason on a boat with nowhere to run.
  8. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning – Horrible slap in the face which tries to continue the franchise without Jason as the slasher. Not a good idea.
  9. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday – Slap in the face which again replaces Jason for the most part. New Line’s attempt to ruin a franchise succeeds.
  10. Jason X – Not a real movie.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday Recap

Jason Goes to Hell Recap

Jason’s back, Jack! When the FBI explodes our masked killer, they think he’s finally dead. They are wrong. Uh oh! His spirit possesses a new body and returns to Crystal Lake to be reborn. Can they stop him before it’s too late? Find out in… Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday.

How?! We open on an intricate fake-out. The viewer is led to believe that we are watching Jason, fresh off getting dissolved in the acid sewers of Manhattan, stalking a nubile teen at Crystal Lake. Psych! It’s an FBI sting and they straight up explode our favorite serial killer. However, once they bring the pieces back to a top secret FBI research facility an unlucky coroner is hypnotized into consuming Jason’s heart and becomes Jason! Bum bum bum! With this new body in tow Jason heads back to Crystal Lake in order to be reborn. In the meantime we jump straight into some family drama at Crystal Lake as Diana is attempting to reconcile her daughter Jessica with her baby daddy Steve. Just as Jessica returns to town to officially break it off with Steve (and reveal to him that he is a father), Jason returns and starts to wreak havoc, killing people and switching bodies at will. Turns out that Jason’s evil is rooted in a creature that lives within him and that, when killed, he must regenerate using the body of a Voorhees (what?). He can temporarily take over a body, but must switch bodies periodically to avoid decay (oh… ok). Also Jason can only ever be killed by a Voorhees. Unluckily and luckily Jessica is Jason’s niece (wait… since when?) so she is both Jason’s target and worst enemy. They of course learn all this from an eccentric bounty hunter who provides Jessica with a magical dagger to kill Jason with (for real?!). In the end Jason corners Jessica and Steve in the Voorhees old house where he is able to regenerate using Diana’s corpse. In a final epic battle Jessica stabs Jason with the magical dagger and sends him to hell where it’s hinted he finally meets Freddy Kreuger his… uh… arch enemy… I guess. New Line really did a number on this series.

Why?! By creating a totally insane explanation for Jason’s supernatural abilities they also provide a totally new motivation for him. Yes, he’s still a crazed murderer, but now he’s murdering in order to possess a new body so that he can survive to find a Voorhees to be reborn with. It’s quite the pivot. Everyone else is mostly just looking to survive. Very few do.

What?! No notable product placements in the film, but there are a couple easter eggs connecting this film to other horror films (other than being a rip off of The Hidden). The Necronomicon from The Evil Dead films is seen in the Voorhees house and the Kandarian Dagger from the same films plays a major role in killing Jason. Also there is a crate in the Voorhees’ basement that says “Arctic Expedition Julia Carpenter Horlicks University,” which is from the film Creepshow. They seemed to just reuse props for no discernable reason.

Who?! Nice little “scenes deleted” credit here to Survivor superstar Jonathan Penner. He was meant to play Vicki’s boyfriend David who gets killed by Jason (in possession of Josh) by getting his face smashed into a sink. Penner is also known to us as the writer of future BMT film The Bye Bye Man. He’s a big part of my life.

Where?! No matter your feeling on the merits of this film I think we can all agree that they totally fucked up the setting. It is just a fact that Crystal Lake and the Friday the 13th series are set in New Jersey. Well established FACT (shown on a sign in Part I). So when I see Connecticut license plates everywhere and signs for Westport, CT (where the director was born) I just find it disrespectful to the franchise. Is nothing sacred?! Why you gotta mess with what I love just to give a meaningless shout out to your hometown? C.

When?! It’s also well established fact that the temporal setting of this films is a disaster area and it’s better if we pay no mind to it. Given small indications of where this fits in relative to other films in the franchise it’s agreed that it’s probably set in the early 2000’s. But it’s all bullshit anyway. F.

This truly is a perverse corruption of the franchise perpetrated by New Line in their very first attempt at an entry. While I can’t blame a Friday fan or horror fan from enjoying what is probably the goriest and most nudity filled entry in the series, it basically throws everything that came before it in the trash. Not even for something good. They replace it with a bunch of reheated horror tropes and cliches. But I’m not the only opinion. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday? Well, New Line can go to hell! Boom, getting heated in here. So you are the new owner of a long running, eight entry, horror franchise looking to put a bit of pep in the old boy’s step, what do you do? Right, create a movie almost entirely bereft of the franchise’s beloved antagonist, over-explain his monstrous origins, and flip a huge bird to the fanbase … wait, no, that can’t be right. Let’s get into it!

The Good (Sequel, Prequel, Remake) – This movie in another world would be a niche cult classic among horror fans. Coming out of nowhere in 1993, the supernatural story with decent (at times) practical effects could have really gained a following (despite being a knockoff of The Hidden). But … that isn’t how it worked. Until now! Give me a Remake! Same story, except cut the bookends of Jason wandering around. As a matter of fact, add a horror element of the body-snatched murderers multiplying (so a zombie army is eventually developed) as well. It has a kind of alien-chest-burster meets zombie film, with the ultimate pay off being that they aren’t aliens at all, but rather demons summoned by a cult (or whatever). Bonus, it also served as a remake of The Hidden! Two-for-one! Two-for-one! I would call it Hell on Earth.

The Bad (Sklognalogy) – Woof. This is a slap in the face to Friday the 13th fans. This represents the second entry where Jason himself is almost entirely missing from the film (number 5, A New Beginning, is the other). It doesn’t feel at all like a Friday the 13th film, and it over-explains and ruins several aspects of the franchise. It is now explicitly set in Connecticut (what?), they somehow retcon a sister for Jason to want to kill (what is this Halloween?), and they introduce a much more explicit supernatural bent to the entire thing. If this wasn’t a Friday the 13th film I wouldn’t mind it. But it is and I hate hate hate this movie. And I can no longer avoid it: the Sklognalogy is Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (the sixth installment). I have seen this film, although we are likely to revisit at some point in the future to give it the proper BMT treatment. And basically it is the same: they ruin the franchise by making explicit a no-fun “solution” to why Michael Myers is the way he is. Don’t do this. It is unnecessary and cheesy.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – I think this will have strong legs for BMT. Friday the 13th is the first mini-challenge we’ve done, and I kind of knew the day would come where it well and truly crossed the rubicon from low-budget fun slasher to garbage. This is the one. I hate this film. I will never not hate this film. It could forever represent 90s horror catastrophes for me. I do want to note this guy, because the second entry there might as well be word-for-word my opinion on the movie. But for the most part Jason Goes to Hell is widely considered the worst or one of the worst of the franchise. It doesn’t get much play in a jam packed 1993, but its cred is from sinking a franchise. Thanks New Line!

I’ll leave the full blown Friday the 13th rankings for Jason X.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs