Sanctum Recap

Jamie

Frank MacGuire is a cave diver extraordinaire. With his estranged son Josh in tow, he and his team are trapped by a storm while exploring a giant cave. The only chance at escape is to dive deeper into the cave and find a way out. Can they do the impossible and find this previously unknown escape route before it’s too late? Find out in… Sanctum.

How?! Josh is just a moody teen spending all his time exploring a dumb cave with his dumb dad like a dumbo. Whatever. When the financier of the project shows up to check out the project he is greeted with some good and bad news. The good is that they discovered a new route through the cave system. The bad is that one of the explorers died. Oops. Even worse, a major storm descends on the area and they are all trapped in the cave with no escape route. Uh oh! Lucky they just found that new route. How convenient. Despite the danger of having a number of inexperienced divers in the crew, they are able to make it through the new tunnel without issue… you know except that one of the guys gets the bends and dies… and another one false into a giant hole in the ground and is killed… and the financier is a giant asshole and steals all their supplies and runs off cause he sucks. Not great. While Josh and his dad contemplate their lack of hope they notice some bat guano and are like wait a second. Following the guano they find an opening to the outside, but aren’t able to use it to escape. Instead they are able to find a new route into the cave system and stumble upon the financier (still a dick). He obviously sucks but still are going to help him… that is until he tackles the dad and mortally injures him. Distraught the financier makes one last effort to get to the surface without oxygen and dies. Josh is forced to put his own father out of his misery (not ideal) and then using the last of the oxygen and inspired by his dad he is just able to make it to the surface where he is rescued. When asked where his dad is Josh simply answers “Who? Never heard of him” (OK maybe not that last part). THE END. 

Why?! Truly a story of survival. Everyone wants to survive and on one side you have the financier, who is super selfish about it, and on the other you have Josh and his dad who work together and never give up. Even though his dad is a bit of an asshole, Josh comes to realize that under that tough exterior is still an asshole, but an asshole that will probably save your life.

Who?! Dedicated to the memory of Wes Skiles, who was a cave explorer and filmmaker. Seems like James Cameron knew him. He died while filming on a dive off Florida around the time that this film was being made, although it doesn’t seem like he was actually involved in the making of this film.

What?! There is probably a whole bunch of great product placement in the film, but it’s all for super great cave diving equipment or something so I didn’t notice. We do probably have to address the Deus Ex Machina in the film. There seemed to be two examples. The first is the random discovery of bat guano to lead them to a new escape route right after they sat down and were like “welp I guess we now die.” However, what this film was probably cited for was the ending where Josh seems to run out of oxygen and die… until his dead dad speaks to him and he opens his eyes and swims to the surface. It’s actually a little confusing what even happened at that point other than him simply deciding not to die.

Where?! Intertitles are used to show explicitly that we are in Papua New Guinea for some reason. Weird that they even decided to make up the cave they were diving. I guess they needed a place where it could be possible that a previously undiscovered cave would reside and Papua New Guinea could be such a place I guess… before satellites. I think this is probably a B+.

When?! I presume this takes place in the summer since Josh is a teenager and seems to be on vacation from school to spend time with his dad. The interesting question is whether that means it’s sometime in January or something given the difference in school years for Australia. My guess is December or January given that there is also a Typhoon hitting Papua New Guinea at the time… unless I missed an obvious date. D.

It’s not that bad! It’s not that bad! Dare I even say it’s slightly better than merely not that bad? I mean… I kinda liked this movie. The film is small and so has some hiccups when it comes to acting and some of the visual effects. It also was a pretty simple narrative construction as a group sets out for survival and yet are somehow picked off one-by-one as if the cave is a serial killer (spoiler alert: it’s not (note to self: movie about a serial killer that is literally a cave… perhaps involving dark magic… we’ll workshop it)). But overall I really did enjoy the claustrophobia and the story of survival that is laid out in a visually pleasing way. It’s unique and kinda goes back to what was more common in the past for film: showing you things you won’t ever get to see. I will never dive into a cave, but I feel like this gave me a feeling of what that might be with a tense survival narrative to boot. Even though James Cameron doesn’t seem like he was super involved, you could still see why he was approached about this and decided to help make it happen. Very interesting. Patrick? 

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Prior to watching Sanctum this week I had zero interest in cave diving. Afterwards I developed zero interest in watching movies about cave diving. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I didn’t really know anything about this film prior to watching it beyond that it was set in Papua New Guinea. Making the preview it made sense that it was a James Cameron produced film. It shouldn’t be surprising, but I was a bit surprised it got dunked on so thoroughly given that cred it had in the underwater filmmaking world. But it seemed like people thought the acting and sets were underwhelming which seems maybe fair. What were my expectations? I expected it to just be terrible acting is dumb looking caves with a bunch of tensionless trash. It just seems like how films like this go.

The Good – Uh wait … is this movie good? Like … is this the first true blue It’s-Not-That-Bad in a long time? I think so. The first half hour gives you a death which shocks you into realizing just how dangerous the task at hand is. The tension throughout the film is intense. The underwater filmmaking and stunts are incredible. And why is it that anyone really needed anything else? I don’t know. I know I felt claustrophobic and tense throughout the film and that it provided me with one or two great views that you really don’t see anywhere else in film. And that’s cool.

The Bad – The acting is bad and on occasion the sets look a bit off. In the case of the first whatever, they drew in some local Australian actors who could do the job and did it. Brad Pitt ain’t gonna be in a cave diving movie merely produced by James Cameron. As for the second, it is unavoidable really. My guess is actual caves look like shit too if you tried to film in them, so having caves that look awesome will immediately feel a bit off. Other than that the story beats are a bit rote, with everyone kind of waiting in line to die. The inevitability of the billionaire being a terrible person was also a bit annoying. I kind of wish the twist would have been all three getting to the end and the father realizing that only two were going to get out. And then the father being like “take care of my boy” and the billionaire getting out and them cutting to a news clip of him announcing the new cave system as being named after Josh’s father … unfortunately you lose the entire dramatic arc of the last act with the billionaire going crazy, so that doesn’t really work narratively. Just annoying that it ended up being so cliche.

The BMT – Definitely an interesting It’s-Not-That-Bad film. A film that maybe got smashed by critics because of the 3D and an unclear reason for being. I liked it though, and it further convinced me to never ever go into caves. So there we go, it’s doing a service to me not dying in a cave. Did it meet my expectations? I mean the acting was at times bad, and the caves did something look off, but it had the tension up the wazoo! So from a bad movie perspective it didn’t meet my expectations, but I ended up liking the film, so from that perspective it was a success.

Roast-radamus – Definitely a great Setting as a Character (Where?) with Papua New Guinea and the Esa’ala Cave in particular, although they took a ton of creative liberty concerning the cave itself. I think I’ll give a little shoutout for Worst Twist (How?) for the billionaire coming back to basically specifically kill Josh’s father and then wander off to die himself. So obvious that I would have been annoyed if they didn’t do it. And this will definitely be in the running for Good as well.

StreetCreditReport.com – There aren’t too many lists where this shows up, possibly it just got ignored (but also 2011 was a solid year for bad movies including Jack and Jill). I think this is by far the worst reviewed major cave diving film. This is definitely the worst film set in Papua New Guinea (and as such we were going to inevitably watch it eventually). And I think the cred comes from the 3D and James Cameron being involved as well. I’m happy with the cred in the end.

You Just Got Schooled – Sanctum didn’t have very many famous names attached to it, so there was no path to self-improvement there. But, caving made me think of a horror film I had never seen which is considered something of a modern classic: The Descent. Directed by Neil Marshall (who directed the BMT film Hellboy) it involves a group of six women who venture into a cave, get stuck, and then are systematically hunted by a race of underground humanoid creatures. First, amazing creature design, a rare design which looks great in the dark and light and benefits from the Jaws/Alien strategy of limiting their view early on. Second, great cast with enough people to get some good kills going. And third, I liked how all of the heroes almost immediately recognized and adapted to the dangers around them, that was a cool change from mostly inept horror protagonists. On the downside I thought the first third without the monsters was more tense than the back half with the monsters. I will say, it was shocking how many beats Sanctum and The Descent shared … I’m actually a bit suspicious that the Sanctum writers (inexperienced in constructing a screenplay presumably) might have lifted a few things from The Descent which would have been popular in cave exploration circles. In both cases people are trapped by a cave and need to go deeper to try and get out. Both have a big climbing scene midway through. And both play off of what appears to be a classic caving mantra: if you panic, you die. I was a bit shocked and how both films had a very similar “calm down, if you panic you’ll die” scene early on. Easily a B+. I think if the back half had more stressful climbing bits it would have been a solid A. Basically, combine Sanctum and The Descent and you are gold.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Sanctum Quiz

Oh man, the last thing I remember I was cave diving with my son (natch, all that is definitely true) and I hit my noggin and now I can’t remember a thing! Do you remember what happened in Sanctum?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) Why is our billionaire funder funding this cave diving expedition? 

2) Where did the billionaire meet his adventurous girlfriend? 

3) While discovering St. Jude’s Cathedral, a large new cave system, Jude dies. Josh blames his father. Why? In turn his father suggests that Josh is also somewhat culpable. How?

4) Why couldn’t the group just wait in the Cathedral to be rescues, as is suggested by multiple people?

5) How many people die in the cave? 

Answers

Sanctum Preview

“Woooooo,” scream the gang as they ride Bessy the Giant Alligator through the sewers of the school. There aren’t any rules against water polo playing alligators and there aren’t any rules against having fun either. Suddenly they drop into a dank sanctum deep underground with a wondrous swirling pool of water in the middle. “The portal,” Poe whispers, beholding a link between universes and the object of their quest. “How… how do we destroy it?” asks Rich, but Adrestia sushes him and points to Rich’s chest, “The Devil’s Key. It was inside of you the whole time.” Rad. They all link hands, Rich and Poe readying to destroy the portal, but before they do a slow, sharp crack of applause rings out and sends chills down their spines. Nic Cage and the hooded gamemaster stand behind them. “Excellent,” Nic Cage says with a smile, “you quelled the riots with your silly book. But I’m curious, how did you know that the book would help uncover the larger conspiracy? That the students, inspired by chaste love, would then turn over the football coach for distributing steroids?” Rich and Poe look at each other. The Substitute 3: Winner Takes All… of course. “Yes, very curious indeed,” the game master adds shaking with fury, “and what are you doing here?” Thinking fast Rich and Poe explain that they were just looking for a place to dispose of all those bad steroids. “While rulez are coolz, everyone knows drugz are totally not coolz.” They fist bump and hold their breath. “Excellent,” says Nic Cage beaming. “Now we’re ready for the third challenge,” he says, “and remember, sometimes a good setting can go a long way.” “Oui, de Paris avec amour,” the hooded gamemaster says and kicks Rich and Poe into the portal. That’s right! We’re watching Sanctum. That film that everyone remembers. It’s a perfect transition to the next cycle as not only is it an example of a Deus Ex Machina (according to the internet), but takes place in Papua New Guinea of all places. That fits nicely with the globe-trotting mapl.de.map adventure that is the third leg of our battle for the universe. This time, though, anywhere and anything goes as we try to get some truly ludicrous settings. Let’s go!

Sanctum (2011) – BMeTric: 35.2; Notability: 21 

SanctumIMDb_BMeT

SanctumIMDb_RV

(Ha the 9.7 … I suppose the early views were by underwater filmmaking fanatics? It ended up just under 6 it looks like which is about what I would expect. The notability is a bit higher that I would expect, but then again I bet a bunch of those are famous underwater stuntmen and filmmaking technicians, so perhaps it is understandable. Hard to make an underwater film without people who are good at making underwater films.)

RogerEbert.com – 1.5 stars –  “Sanctum” tells the story of a terrifying adventure in an incompetent way. Some of it is exciting, the ending is involving, and all of it is a poster child for the horrors of 3-D used badly. The film is being heavily marketed as a “James Cameron Production,” but if this were a “James Cameron Film,” I suspect it would have fewer flaws and the use of 3-D would be much improved.

(Big oof. If you look below at the people involved … yeah, it kind of seems like the review nails it on the head. It is very much a story of Cameron asking an underwater filmmaker to make a movie his friend wrote using Australian Soap Opera stars … not really what you want.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBik92hLhAY/

(So dramatic! Probably doesn’t help that I have a long standing fear of deep water … I remember when this came out and thought “yeah, nope, I’m not watching that.” But the siren song of BMT beckons, I must watch to appear the BMT gods.)

Directors – Alister Grierson – (Known For: Kokoda: 39th Battalion; BMT: Sanctum; Notes: Apparently was offered the job while visiting the set of Avatar. I assume Cameron knew him based on his experience with underwater filmmaking.)

Writers – John Garvin (written by) – (BMT: Sanctum; Notes: Was apparently brought on due to his experience with underwater filmmaking.)

Andrew Wight (written by & story) – (BMT: Sanctum; Notes: An accomplished diver, he has been involved in a ton of underwater documentaries. The story is based on an event that happened to him. He sadly died in a helicopter crash in 2012.)

Actors – Rhys Wakefield – (Known For: Bliss; After the Dark; Broken Hill; Shadow Walkers; Nobody Walks; The Black Balloon; Paint It Black; Future BMT: The Purge; War on the Range; Bootmen; BMT: Sanctum; Endless Love; Notes: Started on Home and Away, an Australian Soap Opera. He was in over 300 episodes.)

Allison Cratchley – (BMT: Sanctum; Notes: Australian. She was featured heavily on All Saints, which is a medical drama, and that same Soap Opera Home and Away.)

Christopher James Baker – (Known For: The Purge: Election Year; Serendipity; Ned Kelly; Nim’s Island; Appropriate Behaviour; Kokoda: 39th Battalion; Future BMT: The Condemned; The Duel; Renaissance Man; The Great Raid; BMT: Kangaroo Jack; Sanctum; Notes: Ultimately he’s got a ton of work in television (along with a bunch of bit parts in the movies listed above). He’s going to be featured consistently in the upcoming Stargirl, and was in 7 episodes of Ozark.)

Budget/Gross – $30,000,000 / Domestic: $23,209,310 (Worldwide: $108,609,310)

(Whooooooooo doggy, that is actually kind of a success. I’m actually willing to bet there was no attempt at a follow-up in any capacity because of Cameron. I can imagine him seeing the project as an interesting challenge and then just walking away after it was completed.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 30% (50/167): Sanctum is beautifully photographed, and it makes better use of 3-D technology than most, but that doesn’t make up for its ham-handed script and lifeless cast.

(This all seems incredibly consistent. A beautiful film with cardboard cutouts as a cast and a terrible script written by someone who isn’t a screenwriter … what did you expect? Reviewer Highlight: Sometimes the sets look like, well, Styrofoam. So do the actors. – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone.)

Poster – Sanctum? Damn Near Drowned ‘Em

sanctum

(This is actually an exciting poster. You got cave diving and an interesting layout, with nice color and at least a little playfulness with the font. Overall I enjoy this. It’s nicely made. A; Patrick’s Shallow Fake: I didn’t really work too hard on the face this time, just kind of popped it in and colored it. The thing I really proud about it mimicking the font pretty well. It makes me think I might have the skillz to mimic basically any font in the future, which is rather helpful when I want to just write some ridiculous title onto a poster.)

Tagline(s) – The only way out is down (A)

(I also enjoy this tagline. It’s an unexpected twist and kinda gives you a sense of the film itself. Makes your breath catch a little to think that you would be diving and you think of the disorientation of having to dive further and further down to make your way out. I like it.)

Keyword – scuba diving

Sanctum_scuba diving

Top 10: Inception (2010), Licence to Kill (1989), Never Say Never Again (1983), Finding Nemo (2003), Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), Charlie’s Angels (2000), Fool’s Gold (2008), The Italian Job (2003), Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation (2018), The Abyss (1989)

Future BMT: 63.0 Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie (1997), 59.1 The Cave (2005), 55.1 Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home (1995), 39.4 Into the Blue (2005), 38.2 Masterminds (2016), 33.6 Along Came Polly (2004), 33.2 Sahara (2005), 22.8 After the Sunset (2004), 18.4 Act of Valor (2012);

BMT: Fool’s Gold (2008), Mechanic: Resurrection (2016), Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003), Ghost Ship (2002), Jaws 3-D (1983), Sanctum (2011), The Medallion (2003)

(Let’s see. Free Will 2 seems exciting, I very much want to watch that for some reason. Pretty consistent over the years. I wonder if the drop off has to do with HD documentaries becoming more available, and also travel itself getting cheaper over time. So that wide release films featuring diving are no longer needed nor seen as a novelty.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 21) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Richard Roxburgh is No. 2 billed in Sanctum and No. 5 billed in Stealth, which also stars Jessica Biel (No. 2 billed) who is in Valentine’s Day (No. 2 billed), which also stars Jessica Alba (No. 1 billed) who is in Mechanic: Resurrection (No. 2 billed), which also stars Jason Statham (No. 1 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Seige Tale (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 4 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 2 + 5 + 2 + 2 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 1 + 4 + 1 = 21. If we were to watch King Arthur, and Killer Elite we can get the HoE Number down to 13.

Notes – Ioan Gruffudd performed his own base jump stunt, which he described as his favorite part of the shoot. (That is extremely dangerous. So dangerous in fact that I don’t really believe it)

Ioan Gruffudd was the only member of the cast to be a fully qualified diver before the film began shooting. (Oh, so maybe he was already kind of qualified to base jump?)

In an unfortunate coincidence, Agnes Milowka, one of the film’s diving doubles, drowned after running out of air shortly after the film was released. (I have a feeling a bunch of the cave diving stunt people had their lives cut short)

Having trained in a diving center to prepare for his role, Richard Roxburgh claimed that the hardest thing to master was the rebreather, which he described as “fantastic in theory, but a torture in real life”.

Richard Roxburgh said that despite the on-set security, he feared for his life several times during the shoot.

The film used a tank containing seven million liters of water for its underwater scenes.

Originally the production seriously considered shooting in real underground caves. However, the practicalities of lugging all the equipment into such tight, confined spaces – not to mention the freezing cold temperatures of the water within the caves – soon precluded that.

At one point Richard Roxburgh asked the art department if they could lighten the load of the pack that he has to carry for most of the film. The next morning they presented him with the reduced weight pack, telling him that they’d managed to take 2 kgs off the total weight. Of course, they hadn’t bothered doing anything at all but Roxburgh was convinced that they had.

All the underwater sequences were shot in a large water tank at the Village Roadshow Studios in Queensland, Australia.

As of March 2011, the 10th biggest grossing Australian film at the international box office. (That is an absurd fact)

Production designer Nicholas McCallum built the caves in concrete, so that they wouldn’t move while the actors were climbing them, and so that they could be reused for underwater scenes. Once scenes with one setting were wrapped, the cave parts would be put in a water tank for the diving scenes.

Director Alister Grierson and cinematographer Jules O’Loughlin had no experience with 3D prior to working on this film. Thus, they had learn how to light the scenes, use the stereoscopic space and manipulate the cameras from scratch.

Production designer Nicholas McCallum built a 14 meter high underwater fall for the film, which propelled 20000 liters of water per minute.

Universal and Relativity paid $12 million for the rights to distribute the film internationally.

Director Alister Grierson contracted pneumonia during the shoot.

The cave itself was based on the Cheve/Chaco/etc expeditions in the Yucatan, and the father character was based on Bill Stone, the caver/diver who was instrumental in those expeditions as well as in the invention of the re-breather.

John Garvin was chosen as co-writer by James Cameron and Andrew Wight due to his considerable experience as an accomplished diver. Moreover, Garvin wrote the role of Jim Sergeant with himself in mind, hoping Alister Grierson would let him play it.

To complement the tank shoot, the production headed into the wild. Caver and producer Andrew Wight said: “We also filmed in real caves in South Australia’s cave-diving region around Mount Gambier. Filming in the limestone, water-filled caves added a scale and an authenticity to the tank shoot at the studio.”

Based on the true story of co-writer Andrew Wight. He once went cave diving under the Nullarbor plain with fourteen other people. An unexpected storm made the cave’s entrance collapse and they spent two days looking for another way out. Unlike in the film however, a rescue was organized and everybody survived. Wight told his frequent collaborator and fellow diving enthusiast James Cameron the story in 2006, who decided they should get a director and make a film about it. (Jesus, that’s pretty scary)

Ed Recap

Jamie

Jack ‘Deuce’ Cooper is a flamethrowing single A baseball prospect walking a fine line between getting cut or making the big leagues. The coach knows he needs a boost so puts him in charge of the baseball playing chimpanzee mascot named Ed! Can Jack find his confidence, save Ed, get the girl, and take down the eeeevil team owner’s son before it’s too late? Find out in… Ed.

How?! Discovered throwing heat on his Oregon farm, Jack ‘Deuce’ Cooper is shipped off to single A ball to see if he can make it big. Unfortunately he isn’t having much fun playing baseball while he works out the kinks in his curveball. Knowing that Jack needs to loosen up a bit, the coach puts him in charge of taking care of the teams new mascot, a baseball playing chimpanzee cooked up as a gimmick by the smarmy owner’s son. In a big surprise to everyone this chimpanzee named Ed is not only incredibly smart (suspiciously so, even), but plays third base like… you know… Mike Schmidt or something. Not only does the team go on a big ol’ winning streak thanks to both Ed and the confidence he instills in Jack, but he also starts a major friendship with Jack and helps him in all kinds of ways. Most importantly he encourages him to ask out his neighbor and even plays babysitter for the neighbor’s daughter while Jack takes her out on a date (this is obviously a terrible parenting mistake, but we’ll let it slide). Unfortunately on the cusp of The Big Game, the smarmy owner’s son decides it’s time to cash in on Ed and sells him to the highest bidder. Everyone is super sad, but Jack makes the decision to risk making the start at The Big Game in order to go and save Ed. In the zany chase that ensues, Ed is trapped in a frozen banana truck and nearly perishes. Sad and concerned, Jack still makes the start and is able to get his team one batter away from winning The Big Game. Just as he’s about to (probably) totally blow it, Ed shows up at the game, flashes the ‘deuce’ signal for the curve ball (not hiding the signs much there, guys), and Jack wins The Big Game. Everyone celebrates and Jack smooches his neighbor or something. THE END. Big Question: How many references is too many references to the dark racist past of baseball in a children’s film about a baseball playing chimpanzee (this film contends that there is no limit. I would say any more than zero is a mistake)

Why?! Interesting question. Jack really does seem to want to make the big leagues despite having apparently not played much competitive baseball. So… for the love of the game, I guess. Same for Ed, although he apparently can play single A because there aren’t any rules against it. I’m sure there would be rules by the time he’s making his way through AAA. The smarmy owner’s son just wants to make a quick buck by flipping a baseball playing chimpanzee he bought on the cheap. Turns out to actually be a pretty savvy business move.

Who?! In a bizarre cameo, Tommy Lasorda shows up at the end of Ed to watch Matt Leblanc throw a single curve ball and be like “we need to sign this kid to a big contract to play for the Dodgers!” Gotta say… not the best for Lasorda’s legacy in baseball. I mean, you gotta do a bit more scouting than that before throwing a contract at someone.

What?! There was some pretty obvious product placement in this that was used in the typical children’s film fashion. Ed drinks a bunch of Coke and burps to much laughter and applause, etc. I did like the made up product placement of Frosted Bananas, a company that deals exclusively in frozen bananas and is wildly popular in the Santa Rosa area. Not only is everyone bananas for Frosted Bananas, but there are enough trucks randomly driving around that Ed finds one to hop into during the climactic chase.

Where?! We open briefly in Oregon and spend the rest of the movie in California. While that is made very clear in the film, I’m pretty sure this could have taken place in any number of places in the United States. It actually would have been a great Cape Cod League set film given that Jack is kinda a country bumpkin and he could have gotten involved with a local rich girl… but also there is a chimpanzee there. But just California. Whatever. B.

When?! It seems very likely that this takes place in high summer and then concludes in the beginning of September during the minor league playoffs. While the team he plays for is not real, it makes sense that he is in the California League, which finishes the second week of September. C

This movie is really nuts. Every moment brought another gasp of surprise at what they might do next. Ed is unbelievably human-like for a chimpanzee, but the complete lack of surprise at this fact by everyone who interacts with him makes it seem like it all takes place in an alternate universe where chimpanzees are basically human beings that don’t talk. Even the way the team gets Ed is confusing… they keep calling him Mickey Mantle’s monkey. So… was he? Or is this a nickname because they already knew he was the greatest chimpanzee baseball player in history? It’s weird and at times unsettling. Add on that the chimpanzee babysits a child (horrifying) and that the entire film is a misguided allegory on America’s racist history (a mistake) and I’m not sure whether this is a great BMT film or a tragic mistake. As for MVP: Most Valuable Primate, it was almost more horrifying than Ed. It felt a little… exploitative I guess. Like the whole film is just a chimpanzee doing the wide (and I mean wide) array of tricks it was taught. It’s pouring coffee, it’s putting on glasses, it’s brushing its teeth. I will say, I enjoyed seeing the chimpanzee skate… like he actually skated on ice. It’s amazing! I did not enjoy watching several actors without disabilities playing characters with disabilities so overall more horrifying than Ed. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! If I made this film I would have called it This Ape is Playing Baseball, and That’s Crazy!! With a double exclamation point at the end because that’s how crazy it is. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I’ve definitely seen this film before a long long time ago. And at the time I must have been watching Friends, otherwise how would I have known who Matt LeBlanc was. Anyways, the only thing I remember well was the scene where Ed eats ice cream because it is super duper gross. That’s it. I am very interested to see how the ape animatronic/costume holds up over time. What are my expectations? Let’s get this straight: kids’ films are very rarely good BMT films. They are usually just a bunch of fart jokes and not much else. This is exactly what I expect it to be with a healthy dose of Matt LeBlanc being a bad actor.

The Good – The film is good natured enough. You have single mothers, you have young men just trying to make their way, you have a good-hearted coach, and a chimp that can play baseball. There isn’t really a B-story that kids can’t relate to, the B-story is about a single mother and her precocious kid … that’s relatable. Like Air Bud 2 that is the type of story some child of divorce I’m sure appreciated at the time. There were a thousand ways things could have gone worse. There could have been a whole weird story about the league not wanting Ed to play and the Rockets laying their jerseys down on the commissioners desk to say “Ed can play for me coach … er, commissioner I mean.” Or there could have been a story about the team not wanting to play with a chimp. Nope, just a lot of good-natured fun and fart jokes. What can you do, really?

The Bad – After that paragraph maybe you’d think there wasn’t much to complain about. Well, the animatronic / chimp actors are terrible. Ed is just large enough to be creepily too-human on screen. And everything the animatronic does, like getting disgusting not-ice-cream all over itself, is just weird and makes me feel uncomfortable. The baseball is ludicrous, although intentionally so. He throws 125MPH?! He would be called to the big leagues immediately. He’d be unhittable. Ed is also basically human. If Ed could exist there would be a huge push for animal rights because seriously … Ed has the intelligence of a full grown adult human being. Ed should have the right to vote. There would be huge questions about Ed being a slave! On second thought … let’s not get into some of the racial undertones of the film as a whole and just leave it there.

The BMT – I do think there is a lot more room for animal films in BMT. It feels like we haven’t seen a lot of them, like Larger than Life and Operation Dumbo Drop in particular. This is also pretty fascinating as a dying gasp for animatronics in film. Or at least it feels that way. Congo was the year before, and soon cheap CGI would replace the need for such expensive tricks. Did it meet my expectations? Weirdly LeBlanc was better than I expected, possibly because the people surrounding him were worse than I expected. The sheer lunacy of the entire affair helps, but mostly it is as expected. Fart jokes and not much else.

Roast-radamus – There is very good Coca-Cola Product Placement (What?) throughout the film. Ed is drinking both Diet Coke and Coca Cola (for real, he can’t tell the difference! That’s how delicious and refreshing Diet Coke is!) and he’s loving it. Also a very interesting Setting as a Character (Where?) for Santa Rosa, California, which is just north of San Francisco. This is somewhat important because it is specifically noted that LeBlanc’s character comes from Oregon and drives down at the start of the film. It feels like out of all the possibilities, the only superlative this has a chance at is Bad mainly because it is a kids’ film. But I guess we’ll just have to see what Jamie thinks of it.

StreetCreditReport.com – There are arguments that August 1996 was the worst month in movie history (I doubt it, but the arguments exist), so it isn’t surprising it got crowded out on yearly lists. But there isn’t really even lists for worst films starring animals. Those lists are almost always about talking animals specifically. You really have to go for Worst Sports Movie … and hoo boy does it make some lists. Both Ed and MVP (see next section) exist on this list! And because sports media loves making amusing youtube videos about weird sports movies: SB Nation did a whole video on Ed! That is a lot of sports movie cred … turns out by adding an animal to your sports movie you almost immediately make all adult sports fans hate it. Ed? More like crEd, amirite?

Bring a Friend Analysis – This week we sadly watched MVP: Most Valuable Primate as another sports playing chimpanzee film. It was a rather interesting contrast to Ed. Made by people who produced Air Bud (and with the same human star) it is, effectively, just a display of what you can train a chimpanzee to do. Make coffee, wear clothing, and astonishingly ice skate? Like legit this chimpanzee ice skates and roller blades! It is actually amazing. But also it is a step backward (the chimps are mostly shot in close up, nary an animatronic to be seen) and displays a bit of how straight-to-video animal kids’ films were going to operate in the future. Here they decided against the animatronic route because it was too expensive. Eventually people would decide training animals at all was too expensive because you eventually see untrained puppies being combined with CGI to create countless Christmas Puppy Adventures or whatever. Ed and MVP pairs well in showing how the industry evolved from the mid-to-late 90s into the 00s. Eventually films starring animals were almost completely relegated to VOD or animation. A Dog’s Journey was one of the last big releases and even that got itself into hot water with the treatment of trained animals. B+, the movie is a slog, but has enough interestingly weird production stuff to make the watch worthwhile (I didn’t mention just how Canadian the entire film is! It is very very Canadian).

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Ed Quiz

Whoooooooo dogggy, the last thing I remember I was picking up this amazing ball player at the bus station. But then some animal knocked me on the noggin and I don’t remember anything else! Do you remember what happened in Ed?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) How do the coaches of the Santa Rosa Rockets decide on whether to cut a player after 30 days? What happens with LeBlanc? 

2) Why is Ed brought onto the team and where does he come from?

3) Why does LeBlanc seem to have terrible luck to start his single-A baseball career, why does he keep on getting smashed?

4) When Ed is subbed in for the first time he does something very special, so special the coach says it is the first time he’s ever seen such a thing. What is it? 

5) Eventually LeBlanc finds his luck, throws his fastball, and starts cooking with fire. How fast can LeBlanc allegedly throw a baseball?

Answers

Ed Preview

Steve, Adrestia and Rich stand in a circle. Rich details the prophecy read to him by Brawln and Sorsaron about the portal that he and Poe must close to stop the gamemaster’s ultimate plan. “But then when we got here there was so much chaos that we more or less forgot. Our only idea was to quell the riots with a new salacious entry in the The Platonics Solids Series.” At that Adrestia and Steve look up shocked, “No,” they exclaim, “we need the riots as a distraction!” But before he can run to stop Poe and Det. Halloway, they come around the corner smiling from ear-to-ear. They smooch tenderly before showing off the last copy of The Platonic Solids Series Part II: Love on the Blocks. “Shit,” wails Steve in despair, “this book is lit. The gucci crowd is gonna love it!” Rich and Poe are despondent. Will this mean they’ll miss their only chance to close the portal? “We don’t have time to explore all the parts of this campus,” Poe thinks out loud. “No one could,” Rich follows. Suddenly everyone looks at Steve. “Or at least no person,” Poe says excitedly. Steve looks confused and then a light sparkles in his eye. “I get what you’re putting down,” and with that he gives a shrill whistle. A monstrous alligator bursts out of a nearby sewer in terrifying fashion, but Steve calmly pats it on the head and starts to speak softly, “They don’t call me Alligator Steve for nothing, mates. Perfect cover as there aren’t any rules against alligators playing middle school water polo.” With that he looks into Bessy’s eyes. “Remember, mate. Middle school,” and Bessy responds with a growl that sounds startlingly like “Extreme friendship.” That’s right! We’re taking a dive into the world of animal films by watching a classic of the animals-play-sports genre: Ed, starring Matt LeBlanc. It’s just a simple tale of a small town boy trying to make it to the big leagues… and also a chimpanzee is on the team.

The man stares into the mirror at his face. A robot arm comes up and prods the new flesh. Nearby another man marvels at his robot legs. “Heh heh… Just call me MVP,” he says. “Most Valuable Prosthetics,” the other replies and they cackle with glee. That’s right! As a Bring a Friend companion we are going to rot our brains by consuming MVP: Most Valuable Primate… at least it isn’t Most Vertical or Extreme Primate. Not sure I could have handled that shit. Let’s go!

Ed (1996) – BMeTric: 65.4; Notability: 30 

EdIMDb_BMeT

EdIMDb_RV

(Holy crap that rating is so low. Completely makes up for the fact that less than 10K people have bothered to rate it on IMDb. And the Notability of 30 is kind of crazy. Possibly it is due to a bunch of baseball people being involved in various parts of the production and cameos and stuff? Who knows. This seems like a legendarily bad kids film though.)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars –  Nervous pitcher getting his big break on a minor-league baseball team becomes roommate with the club’s new third baseman: a full-grown chimpanzee. Uninspired vehicle for Friends star LeBlanc (and Hollywood debut for award-winning documentary director Couturie). Strikes out as a warm family comedy, though younger viewers may be amused.

(Sounds about right. It is bizarre just how big the film seems given just how dull the storyline seems. Something was really happening in the mid-90s. It seems like a bunch of production companies were flailing about with different niche genres to try and make money.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InqDF8ImCgU/

(Man I remember this trailer! Let’s see, I was like 10 at the time. I remember seeing the film, but I imagine I just caught it randomly on cable at some point after. But who knows, we were decent Friends fans so we might have rented it. I also remember the ice cream scene being disgusting.)

Directors – Bill Couturié – (BMT: Ed; Notes: A documentary filmmaker of some acclaim, winning the oscar in 1989 for best documentary about the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Him and Ken Richards I think might be partners of some kind as they’ve done multiple documentaries together.)

Writers – Ken Richards (story) – (BMT: Ed; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Ed in 1997; Notes: Has only done documentaries besides getting credited for this. He has a few about the life of a soldier in war from both wars in Iraq.)

Janus Cercone (story) – (Known For: Leap of Faith; BMT: Ed; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Ed in 1997; Notes: He wrote the book for the Leap of Faith musical adaptation as well.)

David Mickey Evans (screenplay) (as David M. Evans) – (Known For: The Sandlot Kids; BMT: Ed; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Ed in 1997; Notes: He’s uncredited as the writer of Radio Flyer, but he apparently wrote it initially and sold it for over a million dollars. He also sold The Sandlot for a lot, and has written the sequels as well.)

Actors – Matt LeBlanc – (Known For: Charlie’s Angels; Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle; Future BMT: All the Queen’s Men; Lovesick; BMT: Ed; Lost in Space; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst New Star in 1997 for Ed, Mother, She’s the One, and The Pallbearer; and Nominee for Worst Screen Couple for Ed in 1997; Notes: You know him as Joey from Friends. I know him as Don West in Lost in Space. The first of two major film roles he would have, he mostly has always done television including Episodes.)

Jayne Brook – (Known For: Kindergarten Cop; Gattaca; Future BMT: Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead; Last Dance; Clean Slate; BMT: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace; Ed; Bye Bye Love; Notes: Also mostly television including a major role in Star Trek: Discovery. She did bit parts mostly, this was her only starring role.)

Jim Caviezal – (Known For: The Passion of the Christ; The Rock; The Count of Monte Cristo; Escape Plan; The Thin Red Line; Wyatt Earp; Deja Vu; My Own Private Idaho; Frequency; G.I. Jane; The Ballad of Lefty Brown; Paul, Apostle of Christ; Ride with the Devil; The Stoning of Soraya M.; Midnight Sting; Transit; Future BMT: Ed; Angel Eyes; Long Weekend; Highwaymen; Outlander; The Final Cut; Blue Chips; High Crimes; Unknown; When the Game Stands Tall; Savannah; Notes: Has maintained that his star has faded partially due to his strong religious beliefs (part of why he took the role of Jesus in The Passion of the Christ). He was a genuine movie star from around 2000-2010, but now he kind of seems to do religious films mostly.)

Budget/Gross – $24 million / Domestic: $4,422,380 (Worldwide: $4,422,380)

(How could that budget possibly be right? I guess the animatronic chimpanzee would be pretty expensive … but for real could that possibly be right? That is more than Air Bud made. There has to be some nonsense accounting in there, there is no way anyone thinks Ed is going to make like $50 million.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 0% (0/16)

(Wow! A true blue zero-percenter! We haven’t seen one of those in years. Let’s write a consensus: Will only amuse the under-10 year old crowd, otherwise it is an unadventurous bore. Reviewer Highlight: Mr. LeBlanc … is so blank that the only impression he makes is of having teeth that are very large and unnaturally white. – Stephen Holden, New York Times)

Poster – Ape-mazing!: The Jack Cooper Story (C)

ed

(There’s something beautiful and yet sad about this poster. I want to paint it and then destroy the painting. Seriously, though, there is something actually artistic in how things are spaced in the poster and some nice red theme… those two things claw it back to a C rating. Patrick’s Shallow Fake: I think I’m getting a bit better at putting my face into poor quality posters. The poor quality also helped in that I didn’t have to worry too much about removing that giant Ed title and getting the grass “just right”.)

Tagline(s) – Minor league. Major friendship. (A+)

(Probably one of the best taglines I’ve come across. I mean… it’s near perfection. The only critique is that you don’t necessarily get a sense that it’s about a chimpanzee, but who cares? Major friendship? Sign me up.)

Keyword – baseball movie

Ed_baseball movie

Top 10: Major League (1989), Moneyball (2011), A League of Their Own (1992), The Sandlot Kids (1993), The Natural (1984), Rookie of the Year (1993), The Perfect Catch (2005), Field of Dreams (1989), Bull Durham (1988), The Rookie (2002)

Future BMT: 50.7 Major League: Back to the Minors (1998), 34.7 The Fan (1996), 32.7 The Scout (1994), 29.1 Rookie of the Year (1993), 27.0 Angels in the Outfield (1994), 23.9 Mr. Baseball (1992), 21.5 Little Big League (1994), 18.6 The Slugger’s Wife (1985), 6.7 The Final Season (2007);

BMT: The Benchwarmers (2006), Ed (1996)

(Oh wow, only our second one. Honestly the weirdest bit is how consistent baseball movies have always been. They’ve completely disappeared recently … but maybe all sports movies have moved to VOD? I’m trying to think of the last baseball or football movie I’ve seen go to theaters. That was the Affleck basketball movie. It does seem like maybe “sports” movies are getting to be smaller affairs. I’m excited to watch The Fan and Mr. Baseball since I haven’t seen those before.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 14) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Matt LeBlanc is No. 1 billed in Ed and No. 3 billed in Lost in Space, which also stars Heather Graham (No. 5 billed) who is in Say It Isn’t So (No. 2 billed), which also stars Chris Klein (No. 1 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 2 billed) => 1 + 3 + 5 + 2 + 1 + 2 = 14. There is no shorter path at the moment.

Notes – Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc’s co-star from Friends (1994), was considered for the lead role. (He ended up being a movie star for a bit in the late 90s and early 00s. He genuinely had never starred in a wide release film until Fools Rush In in 1997, so he might have actually done it if he got it)

Ed watches an episode of Friends (1994), the show that made Matt LeBlanc a star. The scene he watches features Marcel, the pet monkey of one of the characters.

Ed, the chimp, is actually “just a guy in a suit” (according to Matt Leblanc), with a mechanically controlled head. That head made so much noise that all the dialogue in the scenes which included the “chimp” had to be re-dubbed in post-production.

Texas Rangers second baseman Mark McLemore, long time friend of Matt LeBlanc, spent time during off season teaching LeBlanc how to look and play like a major league baseball player.

Awards – Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Picture (Rosalie Swedlin, 1997)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Screen Couple (Matt LeBlanc, 1997)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (David Mickey Evans, Ken Richards, Janus Cercone, 1997)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst New Star (Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer, 1997)

Masters of the Universe Recap

Jamie

Skeletor has conquered Castle Greyskull and He-Man only has until the next moonrise to stop his rise to power. Using a device called the Cosmic Key, he and his friends escape to Earth, but the key is picked up by a couple of teens and Skeletor is hot on their trail. Can He-Man get back to Eternia and stop Skeletor before it’s too late? Find out in… Masters of the Universe.

How?! After years of plotting, Skeletor has finally been able to get past He-Man’s forces to conquer Castle Greyskull. The power will be his once the moon rises and aligns with the Great Eye of the Universe. Wasting no time, He-Man discovers that Skeletor tricked a tiny inventor, Gwildor, into giving him the Cosmic Key, a musical invention capable of opening portals to any time or place. Dismayed, Gwildor helps He-Man use the remaining Cosmic Key prototype to enter the castle, but they find themselves outnumbered and in a desperate moment Gwildor uses the key to transport them to Earth. On Earth they find they have lost the key and begin the hunt. Meanwhile a couple of teens, Kevin and Julie, discover the key while visiting the graves of Julie’s parents who tragically died in a plane accident (somehow this is an important detail). Thinking it’s a musical instrument, Kevin, a gifted musician the likes of which we haven’t seen since Patrick Swayze, takes it to his big show at the prom before deciding that he needs the local music store owner to check it out first. While this is happening, Skeletor sends his minions to Earth to find the Cosmic Key but all they find is Julie. After destroying the school, they are on the verge of murdering her but He-Man steps in and sends them scurrying back to Eternia. Upon returning to the exploded school, Kevin is concerned for Julie, but for some reason he’s arrested by a zealous local cop. But soon they too are attacked by Skeletor’s forces and find themselves in the middle of a battle… for the universe. Descending on the local music store they hunker down to do battle, but Evil-Lyn uses some eeevil magic to trick Julie and get the Cosmic Key. When one last effort fails to stop Skeletor and the key is destroyed, He-Man gives himself up to spare his friends. While he is back in Eternia getting tortured, the rambunctious group teams up to fix the key, return to Eternia, and help He-Man take down Skeletor. With peace returned to the universe, Gwildor returns Julie and Kevin back to Earth to the time just before her parents were killed, allowing her to save them. Hooray! THE END.

Why?! Major MacGuffin alert, obviously, as the motivating factor in the film is the Cosmic Key. With its power to take people to different times and places in the world, it’s a powerful military weapon and allows Skeletor to finally enter and conquer Castle Greyskull. So while the key itself doesn’t confer the power Skeletor desires, it grants him the ability to get the power. The military mind of Skeletor also recognizes that it would also confer similar powers to He-Man, so his only goal is to destroy all the remaining Cosmic Keys. He-Man is just an all around good guy hoping to save the universe. Duh.

Who?! Is it weird that the Sorceress in this ended up playing Courtney Cox’s mom on Friends? Or that Courtney Cox’s mom in this film is also Chris Pine’s actual mom? Or that IMDb claims that Tony Carroll, who played Beastman, died in 1992?… Because I’m pretty sure that isn’t even true. I think they may have confused him with David Carroll.

What?! There are a lot of interesting props beyond the Cosmic Key in this one. I found an interesting site that catalogued all the ones that have gone on sale and the prices over the years. Some are kinda crazy, including the gold Skeletor costume that apparently went for under $1000. So you’re saying I could have been a gold Skeletor for like $700? Sold. No Cosmic Key on there though. There are some forums online that suggest that a toy collector has one of the fully functional Cosmic Key props and occasionally puts it up for private sale. They also mention that it’s exquisitely built… I find that strangely beautiful.

Where?! Julie and Kevin are a couple of California teens, although Julie is about to leave to upgrade to beautiful New Jersey. Interesting note is that originally Wikipedia implied that the film took place in New Jersey, but Patrick went ahead and fixed that glaringly obvious and terrible mistake. Sometimes, you know, you have situations like this that make you wonder about Wikipedia and humanity in general. Overall OK California film, good-to-great Eternia film. B.

When?! While there isn’t anything super specific about when this film takes place, you can be pretty confident that it’s probably sometime around May. It’s prom time and Julie implies that she’s going to skip out on graduation to make an early escape to New Jersey to try to get over the tragedy that has befallen her.

The movie is pretty insane. It’s a classic use of IP to just say, “OK, it’s He-Man… but he’s on Earth for some reason… and also there is a device he needs,” and leave it at that. No more thought seems to be put into the concept of adapting Master of the Universe. I think it looks just crazy enough to be fun and there are particular scenes, mostly involving Courtney Cox, that remind you that they also probably didn’t know what they were doing outside of failing to successfully adapt some IP. The peak of this is her character getting tricked by Evil-Lyn masquerading as her Mom, who had died in a plane crash. Even Evil-Lyn doesn’t seem convinced as she explains that she never was on the plane and survived and Courtney Cox is like “wow” and not like “so where have you been for the last few months?” Add on some super 80’s plot points and I think this is a quite enjoyable BMT film. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Masters of the Universe? Well, they certainly aren’t masters of the box office! Heyyoooooooooo. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – Long ago when Patrick was but a young child Masters of the Universe would occasionally pop up on cable television. So over the years I probably have seen the entire film in bits and pieces here and there. I’m skeptical I’ve ever actually sat down and watched it though. I obviously remember the Cosmic Key and everything, so it did make a mark in my mind nonetheless. What were my expectations? Unlike when I was a child I now know there was a time in the 80s in which non-companies like Cannon were ripping off films for that sweet IP. So I expected it to be an embarrassing piece of crap. I will say I was particularly interested in Robert Duncan McNeill who played Kevin in the film. He’s one of the stars of Star Trek: Voyager so I wanted to see his acting from when he was a young man just trying to make it in that crazy town called Hollywood.

The Good – All things considered the look of some of the costumes are at least interesting in their cheesy glory. And the film itself is definitely a piece of cinematic history. Cannon Films would soon go bankrupt partially due to this film, so that was probably a good thing for Hollywood as a whole. Cox is actually pretty good. McNeill wasn’t, although his acting was somehow more subtle than it is in Voyager (which I assume is just a consequence of the notoriously intense Star Trek film schedule from the 90s). Lundgren looks super strong. He makes a nice He-Man, especially since the film is garbage so his acting isn’t too much of a liability.

The Bad – The costumes, despite their cheesy glory, are real real bad. It is like with Howard the Duck really. You had a bunch of people wondering whether they could, when they should have been asking whether they should, if you get my drift. The idea of bringing He-Man to Earth is stupid and an obvious ploy to keep the cost down. Hey Cannon, do you know what else would keep costs down? Not trying to adapt effects-heavy IP. Skeletor is the stuff of nightmares, even if Langella maybe brought something impressive to the role. And finally, the B-story about Cox’s dead parents was just wooooooof. Unnecessary, and diverting from He-Man action. It is also a crime that we didn’t get to see Lundgren as Prince Adam. A true travesty.

The BMT – The films got that BMT cred. Notoriously bad, tons of amazing bad straight-to-video stars pretending to be real Hollywood leading actors, and the squandering of truly sweet IP. There is not very much I would ask for beyond that. Did it meet my expectations? Yeah, the movie is actually a more entertaining bad movie rewatch than I expected. I expected it to be boring, but in reality there is enough insanity and weirdness to keep things going at a good clip throughout. It’s embarrassing, but only really for Cannon and not really for the others involved … Lundgren has plenty of other things to be embarrassed about than this film.

Roast-radamus – There is just an out of this world Product Placement (What?) in this guy with everyone just chowing down on Burger King in the middle of the film, it’s wild. The film is also a pretty great Setting as a Character (Where?) with everything happening in a very Los Angeles area of Los Angeles. This is one of the quintessential dumb 80s MacGuffins (Why?) with the Cosmic Key which … uh, I guess it just allows you to instantaneously transport around? Sure whatever. And I think this will be a decent contender for BMT as well.

StreetCreditReport.com – The film historians here at BMTHQ can personally attest to how dire the state of wide release films were in 1986 and 1987. We did a whole cycle on 1986 and there are a lot of Masters of the Universe-esque non-films. And it turns out it wasn’t just us that noticed. Here’s an entire article claiming 1987 as the worst year of the blockbuster era of filmmaking! I also think there is a lot of credit to be gleaned from this movie quite literally bankrupting a production company.

You Just Got Schooled – With Masters of the Universe comes an abundance of possible things to school myself on. First, I got just a taste of the original He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon. He-Man started as just a toy, but then quickly branched into mini-comics and this animated series. Considering how ubiquitous He-Man is to at least my childhood it is quite shocking that the series only ran for a few years. I watched an episode from the second season called The Quest for the Sword which annoyingly did not have Skeletor in it. I have to say … this is like Rambo: The Animated Series level of animation. It is quite crap. But it did confirm that indeed, for some reason people have like lasers, but then He-Man is there with a sword looking like a dope. Because I’m sheltering in place and have nothing better to do on weekends I also watched the Lundgren straight-to-video film Silent Trigger from 1996. I actually really dug this film. It is directed by the same guy as Highlander, and outside of a bunch of weird and mostly bad looking flashbacks, the entire film takes place in a futuristic skyscraper on the night Lundgren is sent to assassinate a political leader. It felt very Highlander (which I also dug), with very cool set designs. It might be a bit odd to say, but this is the type of movie that could be remade into something really interesting if people were looking for sweet IP. B+ if you are into that kind of grungy Highlander style.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Masters of the Universe Quiz

Man, as a He-Man in my He-Man would I can tell you what, I get a ton of concussions. The last thing I remember was something about a Cosmic Key and then Skeletor popped out and bopped me on the head! Do you remember what happened in Masters of the Universe?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) What does the Cosmic Key do?

2) How does the crew lose the key while going to Earth?

3) Where is Courtney Cox moving a why? A rough answer will suffice.

4) Why does Cox betray her friends and steal the Cosmic Key?

5)  Ultimately, Skeletor gets the Cosmic Key and makes He-man his slave, leaving Cox to die. The End. Oh, that wasn’t the end? Oh yeah, that’s right they get back to Eternia soon after to save the day. How?

Answers

Masters of the Universe Preview

“Down!” Adrestia shouts as she tackles Rich to the ground. A shot rings out and a window shatters. “Go!” Rich barks and with that they are out the door. They see a man disappear around the corner of the school, but before Rich can pull out his patented Twin Speed, Adrestia is off like a flash. Rich is stunned. Thinking fast, he stops at the nearest soda machine for the unrivaled energy and refreshment of a delicious Mountain Dew. Doing the Dew, Rich is able to catch up to Adrestia just in time to help take down the fleeing shooter. “Nice running,” says Rich and before he can even ask Adrestia points to her legs. Robot legs, of course. At that they unmask the suspect to reveal none other than Alligator Steve! “Of course, it only makes sense it was you all long,” says Rich, but Steve protests and pulls out a badge, “Det. O’Malley, Mate. I swear I wasn’t trying to kill you. I was trying to save my world.” Rich is confused. Save his world? From the gamemaster? And Steve nods. “The gamemaster is pulling all the strings. The rogue cops, the riots, everything. It’s all to stop you from completing the task. And if we don’t stop you he’ll destroy my home… my fambly,” he finishes, descending into a low, emotional growl. Suddenly Steve looks up and his eyes are shining, “but now I see… what’s inside of you. It’s not just my home that is at stake is it?” And Rich shakes his head. With that Steve pulls himself up from the ground and extends his hand, “Crikey, then I’m in… let’s go save the whole universe, Mate.” That’s right! We’re going back in time to our youth to watch the classic action figure turned cartoon turned major motion picture, Masters of the Universe. We are using this as the MacGuffin entry of the cycle as The Cosmic Key is an all-timer when it comes to unexplainable, mostly magical objects of power in cinematic history. So get ready to blast out some sweet synth notes as we jam out to Masters of the Universe. Let’s go!

Masters of the Universe (1987) – BMeTric: 50.1; Notability: 53 

MastersoftheUniverseIMDb_BMeT

MastersoftheUniverseIMDb_RV

(Huh, I wonder why it increased so much in the early 2000s … unclear. Very nice how low it is and is staying. I’ve seen pieces of this film before, at the very least it looks like complete crap.)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars –  He-Man (Lundgren) comes to Earth seeking a key that controls the power of the universe, stolen by cosmic crub Skeletor (unrecognizable Langella); somehow two teen puppy-lovers get involved. Elaborate comic book nonsense (which has had another life in kiddie animation) is dumb but inoffensive.

(I love dumb but inoffensive. That “somehow” is doing some heavy lifting, and can basically be used to describe any ridiculous sci-fi / action B-story issue. Like Pearl Harbor: “Somehow a love triangle becomes the focus of the film.”)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CF20B8p4F08/

(Wow, Skeletor’s costume looks even worse than I remembered. Truly horrific. Reminds me of Howard the Duck and The Garbage Pail Kids’ Movie. That level of shooting incredibly far over their budget/technological capabilities at the time.)

Directors – Gary Goddard – (BMT: Masters of the Universe; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Tarzan the Ape Man in 1982; Notes: He founded Landmark Entertainment Group for which he directed many of the biggest theme park videos (T-2 3D, Jurassic Park intro, etc.))

Writers – David Odell (written by) – (Known For: The Dark Crystal; Future BMT: Supergirl; BMT: Masters of the Universe; Notes: He wrote on the Muppet Show in the 80s and wrote on a few other Muppet things over the years. He seems to have effectively retired in 1990.)

Stephen Tolkin (rewrite) (uncredited) – (Future BMT: Captain America; BMT: Masters of the Universe; Notes: Mostly wrote for television. His brother, Michael, was nominated for an Oscar for The Player, and his father was an Emmy nominated comedy write from the 50s all the way into the 80s.)

Gary Goddard (rewrite) (uncredited) – (Future BMT: Tarzan the Ape Man; BMT: Masters of the Universe; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Tarzan the Ape Man in 1982; Notes: He created a Captain Power television program prior to Masters of the Universe which he wrote on. It was canceled after one season.)

Actors – Dolph Lundgren – (Known For: Aquaman; Creed II; Hail, Caesar!; The Expendables; The Expendables 2; Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning; Don’t Kill It; Future BMT: Red Scorpion; The Punisher; Black Water; Skin Trade; The Peacekeeper; Showdown in Little Tokyo; Dark Angel; A View to a Kill; Small Apartments; Rocky IV; BMT: Masters of the Universe; Johnny Mnemonic; Universal Soldier; The Expendables 3; Notes: A world class kickboxer, he also has an advanced degree in Chemical Engineering. Apparently he still does some work with his brother who is a scientist.)

Frank Langella – (Known For: Captain Fantastic; Lolita; Red Dragon; Noah; The Ninth Gate; Superman Returns; Unknown; Small Soldiers; Muppets Most Wanted; Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps; Draft Day; Frost/Nixon; Dave; The Box; Good Night, and Good Luck.; 5 to 7; The Tale of Despereaux; Robot & Frank; Dracula; The Prophet; Future BMT: Junior; Eddie; Cutthroat Island; Grace of Monaco; And God Created Woman; All Good Things; Bad Company; Brainscan; 1492: Conquest of Paradise; Sweet November; The Caller; BMT: Body of Evidence; Masters of the Universe; Notes: Started out as an acclaimed Broadway actor, winning a Tony for his role in Seascape in 1975. Nominated for an Oscar for Frost/Nixon.)

Meg Foster – (Known For: Overlord; They Live; 31; The Lords of Salem; The Emerald Forest; Blind Fury; The Osterman Weekend; Ticket to Heaven; The Minus Man; Relentless; Future BMT: Jeepers Creepers 3; Leviathan; Best of the Best II; Stepfather II; BMT: Masters of the Universe; Notes: We’ve actually seen her before in a Friend of BMT, Future Kick. She starred in that film. She had quite the straight-to-video career in the early 90s.)

Budget/Gross – $22 million / Domestic: $17,336,370 (Worldwide: $17,336,370)

(An unmitigated disaster that apparently helped Cannon Films to go under. So that, maybe, is a net positive? I kid, but for real every Cannon film I’ve seen looks like garbage, so I wasn’t surprised to hear they produced this movie.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 17% (4/23): Masters of the Universe is a slapdash adaptation of the He-Man mythos that can’t overcome its cynical lack of raison d’etre, no matter how admirably Frank Langella throws himself into the role of Skeletor.

(I just love the stories about Langella in this. He either hated working on this or loved it. He either thought everything was trash or he loved it. Mixed signals from everyone. It’s going to sound obvious but I think he may have done this movie for one reason: $$$. Reviewer Highlight: The result is a colossal bore. – Variety)

Poster – Masters of the MacGuffinverse (C+)

masters_of_the_universe

(This poster is really telling a story… and it’s not a great one. It seems like if I were a huge fan of Masters of the Universe I would probably be like “just please don’t make it the case that He-Man and the gang are transported to Earth for some reason.” Then I would see the poster and be like “well, Shit.” Spacing is bad and too much going on, but some nice on-brand font and general blue tone. Patrick’s Shallow Fake: I was going for speed in this case, and I came in at just around 60-70 minutes. Which is quite good. It took me about 50 minutes for the words, and then the face went pretty quickly. Not the best face I’ve done, but again, this one was for speed and I think looks pretty good.)

Tagline(s) – A battle fought in the stars, now… comes to Earth. (D)

(Lol, what? If you think about the synopsis of the cartoon, all events take place in a relatively small kingdom of Eternia. So when was the battle fought in the stars? They aren’t in spaceships or anything. This feels very much like “let’s get those Star Wars butts in the seats,” and I don’t appreciate that.)

Keyword – based on toy

MastersoftheUniverse_based on toy

Top 10: The Lego Batman Movie (2017), Transformers: The Last Knight (2017), Trolls (2016), Bumblebee (2018), Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), Transformers (2007), The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019), The Lego Movie (2014), Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011), UglyDolls (2019)

Future BMT: 65.0 Max Steel (2016), 57.1 Jem and the Holograms (2015), 41.0 G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009), 37.4 UglyDolls (2019), 34.4 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009), 27.9 Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011), 2.6 Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer (1985);

BMT: Transformers: The Last Knight (2017), Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013), Masters of the Universe (1987), Bratz (2007), Ouija (2014)

(Amazing. Basically bad production companies like Cannon producing schlock in the 80s. After those companies went under the big production houses knew better in the 90s. And then Transformers changed the game again in the 2000s. Looks to be slowing in the last decade. A lot of the future BMT I’ve actually already seen, although I am excited for Max Steel and Jem and the Holograms.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 17) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Dolph Lundgren is No. 1 billed in Masters of the Universe and No. 8 billed in Expendables 3, which also stars Jason Statham (No. 2 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Seige Tale (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 4 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 1 + 8 + 2 + 1 + 4 + 1 = 17. If we were to watch Zoom we can get the HoE Number down to 16.

Notes – The Throne Room set of Castle Grayskull was originally two large, adjoining sound stages. The wall between the sets was knocked down to make one gigantic sound stage. At that time, this was the largest set Hollywood had seen in over 40 years.

Frank Langella went on record in an interview stating that playing Skeletor was one of his favorite roles. His young son was a huge fan and was running around the house shouting “By the power of Grayskull,” so he took the role for him. He wrote some of his own lines, like: “Tell me about the loneliness of good, He-Man. Is it equal to the loneliness of evil?”

Anthony De Longis trained Dolph Lundgren in the use of a sword. He also choreographed the sword fight between He-Man and Blade and the climatic duel between He-Man and Skeletor. De Longis also played Skeletor during the final fight, instead of Frank Langella.

Mattel, the toy company that produced the original He-Man toys, ran a contest where the winner would get a role in the new He-Man movie. The production was under a great deal of pressure to finish in time and under budget, so director Gary Goddard had to squeeze the contest winner into the shoot. The winner, Richard Szponder, is Pigboy, who hands Skeletor his staff when he returns from Earth. He was even listed in the ending credits. (Ha, funny)

Dolph Lundgren said in a French magazine that working on this film was “a nightmare”. The shooting schedule was five months, including two months of night shooting. He said he was approached to do a sequel during shooting, and he turned down the offer. However in an interview with the IO9 website promoting The Expendables (2010), Lundgren said he would return to appear in a new “Masters of the Universe” movie, as either a cameo or He-Man.

A script for the sequel, to be titled “Masters of the Universe 2: Cyborg” was written. It followed He-Man, who returned to Earth to battle Skeletor, who had left Earth a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The film was to feature Trap Jaw and She-Ra, and Albert Pyun was hired to direct. Because the film bombed at the box office, Mattel and Cannon decided to cancel production on the sequel. Pyun rewrote the script, which became Cyborg (1989).

Mattel, which owned and produced the “Masters of the Universe” toyline, mandated early in production that He-Man could not kill anyone on screen. That’s why Skeletor’s troops are robots. (Basically the same thing with Disney properties now. They always kill like … clones and robots, or mindless aliens or something)

Meg Foster said that she based her character on Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth. In the film’s beginning, she is a pantomime villainess but obviously deeply in love with Skeletor. As the storyline progresses, she gradually comes to realise that he does not truly care for her. In the end, she abandons him to his fate, her withdrawal of her forces leads to his eventual defeat. In Foster’s opinion, the character progresses from evildoer to scorned woman to tragic heroine.

A total of three working Cosmic Key props were built for the film, each personally constructed by Richard Edlund. The props were extremely fragile and broke down easily, so a special team of prop technicians had to be on hand at all times to repair damage during filming. As of 2012, they are valued at $6,000 each.

Because of financial difficulties, Cannon Cinema made a decision to discontinue all filming three days before its scheduled end, leaving the movie in a quandary. All the climactic scenes were completed bar the final battle and resolution between He-Man and Skeletor. After two months, the Cannon Cinema executives allowed director Gary Goddard to film the ending in a complete, albeit rushed manner.

Production designer William Stout took an existing fast food stand in Lake View Terrace and transformed this into “Robby’s Ribs ‘n’ Chicken” where Julie Winston works. According to Stout, the same fast food place was later the site of the infamous Rodney King beating. (That is a wild fact)

At the 1987 Cannes Festival press conference, producer Menahem Golan announced that lead actor Dolph Lundgren was set to reprise his role as He-Man and that he had already signed on for two more movies. However, Lundgren refused to reprise his role when he was offered it while filming Red Scorpion (1988) and went on record in a 1989 interview with Comics Scene magazine that he felt playing He-Man was his “lowest point as an actor”. His role was recast with surfer Laird Hamilton but the “Masters of the Universe” sequel ultimately never happened. (Wild, that guy ended up not really acting in anything)

The character Gwildor was created to replace Orko from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983). (Obviously)

The original budget of $17 million increased to $22 million and this became Cannon Films’ most expensive film.

During production, Gary Goddard developed Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future (1987) which premiered on American television the same year as the release of Masters of the Universe (1987). (Uh …. Do I watch that then? No, surely I watch some of the He-man cartoon instead …)

In the official “Masters of the Universe” comic book adaptation, an alternate ending is used that was written for the movie but never filmed. In the comic, after the final battle between He-Man and Skeletor, Man-At-Arms comes from the depths of Castle Grayskull carrying a NASA and United States flag. The NASA flag has “Starfinder 5. July 10, 2221” written on it, revealing that the first humans on Eternia were actually from a future American space mission. (WHAAAAAA)

Cannon Films originally had plans to make a Spider-Man movie but opted instead to take the money and split it in two for two other films: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) and Masters of the Universe. The plan was to take the profits from both movies and make a large-budget Spider-Man movie. Both movies bombed at the box-office and the Cannon-produced Spider-Man movie never materialized.

Gary Goddard came up with the idea of Skeletor in a bottomless pit filled with bubbling red water at the very end of the film. After filming the final battle between He-Man and Skeletor which took one day to shoot. Gary Goddard told Frank Langella his idea for the very end of the film and that Frank Langella approved. Boss Studios prepared a vat of bubbling red liquid and Gary Goddard walked Frank Langella in full costume and make up to the vat of bubbling liquid and told him that “You get there in full make up and costume and you pop up and says “I’LL BE BACK!”. And they got the shot and this was the last shot of the day.

Awards – Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor (Billy Barty, 1988)

The Glimmer Man Recap

Jamie

When a kooky new age cop with a shady background, Jack Cole, is partnered with Jim Campbell on a serial killer case it seems like they might drive each other crazy. But as the case gives way to a larger conspiracy, they join forces to punch and kick their way to justice. Can they stop the bad guys before it’s too late? Find out in… The Glimmer Man.

How?! Jack Cole is a different breed of cop: a peaceful warrior with a shady past. He’s partnered with Jim Campbell, a straight-laced cop who finds Cole’s methods a little odd. Oh boy, hopefully they can solve the Family Man murders before they drive each other up the wall! In a wild coincidence, they stumble into the middle of a hostage situation that puts them at odds with one of the most powerful men in LA, Frank Deverell… who happens to be behind a string of contract killings being disguised as part of the Family Man murders. In an even crazier twist of fate, Cole’s ex-wife and new husband are the next victims of the Family Man… or so it would seem. Suddenly, Campbell is a bit suspicious of his partner (I mean… there have been several major coincidences in the 48 hours since he showed up) and Cole is starting to think all these things must be connected. Cole gets a lead on the real Family Man killer and realizes that the latest killings are the work of a pro right before having to blow him away. Deverell starts to suspect that things are unravelling and sends his hitman after Campbell who narrowly escapes. Cole and him quickly go and save Johnny from getting snubbed by his own father and find out that this is all part of a plan by Deverell to sell chemical weapons to the Serbian Mafia. They confront the contract killer downtown during the sale and a climactic shootout ensues in which Cole shows just why they called him… The Glimmer Man. THE END.

Why?! Fate? Or so it would seem considering the coincidences that were in play. Deverell loves money and wants to get some by selling weapons to the Serbian Mafia. How could he know that the person he hired to take care of loose ends would also happen to be the former employer of the cop investigating the murders that he’s using as a cover… and that this cop’s ex-wife is married to his son’s psychiatrist… and that this cop would also save said son during a police stand-off… all in a matter of a week.

Who?! Do we not consider Steven Seagal a musician? No? But are you sure? Still no? OK. The only other thing of note is that this was an early film for Alexa Vega, who went on to star in the Spy Kids films. She gets a very brief scene as Steven Seagal’s daughter.

What?! Major marketing push here for powdered deer penis. They really get a lot out of that joke and I’m sure sales got the classic Seagal bump following the release of the film. As for props there isn’t really much for sale… but there is a 1996 Glimmer Man t-shirt for sale on Etsy. Feels appropriate that it only comes in XL. I also want to point out that this has several clear films shown within the film. Most notably Casablanca (which plays a prominent part in the film) and Now, Voyager. So maybe check out those before checking out this one.

Where?! Los Angeles for days. I wouldn’t necessarily say that this is super LA… the climactic scene takes place in some run down hotel (so not exactly chasing the baddie through Dodger stadium or anything), but they really hammer home that Cole is a little out of the norm for the LAPD. B+

When?! During the investigation there are some phone records pulled up that clearly show that Cole’s ex-wife got a phone call right before her murder on a date in February 1996. For a second I thought there was a chance this took place on Patriot’s Day 1993, but alas… just a post-Valentine’s Day treat for us. B-

I think Patrick and I may end up disagreeing on the merits of this film. This is mostly because I think it’s much less common to find bad movies that are actually so-bad-they’re-good than the number of podcasts and blogs about the subject suggests. This certainly wears out its welcome over it’s slim(mer man) running time, but before that it veers so wildly outside the lines of logic that you can’t help but laugh at it. Throw in a number of bizarre writing choices and one-liners and I have to say I enjoyed myself. In particular the sheer magnitude of the coincidences in play have to be seen to be believed. I mean… no wonder Wayans thinks he might be the killer. I’m not sure even to this day we can fully rule him out. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! The Glimmer Man? More like Not-So-Slimmer Man! Get it? Seagal is starting to look a bit heavy in this film. It’s a fat joke and I feel bad about it. I’m against body shaming. That doesn’t mean I won’t make the same joke fourteen times in this recap! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I actually knew nothing about this film going in besides that it was vaguely about a serial killer. And given that we’ve watched over 500 bad films we’ve watched surprisingly few Seagal films. Seeing Seagal transform from an extremely tall aikido master into a fat Buddhist weirdo (no offense …) is always a delight. What were my expectations? Hopefully it is Seagal being a fat Buddhist weirdo? It’s all about Seagal babyyyyyyyy. Give me tons of that Seagal.

The Good – The story is actually pretty coherent all things considered. I also like Wayans who comes across as just skeptical enough of this bead-wearing Buddhist weirdo that has all of a sudden shown up in LA to investigate a serial killer. A pretty good LA film as well. I also appreciate that they didn’t feel the need to give either Seagal or Wayans a love interest. Wayans is unabashedly single, and Seagal is on his second marriage in the film. Easy peasy, see how simple it is to have your heroes have normal personal lives?

The Bad – Alright this is the last time I’ll mention it … Seagal is overweight in this film and it is incredibly amusing. The martial arts are sub par. Especially by Wayans, who for whatever reason is required to try and kick people every so often. While this is a great LA film, there is a very confusing fact that it is constantly raining in this film. It is raining so much that no joke, a weatherman has to come on a television at one point and explain it is one of the wettest winters in history! Finally, the film relies on an incredible number of coincidences. Seagal comes to LA and happens to show up on the day in which a serial killer murder occurs, on the way back from the scene they (against protocol) take a suicide case, this case happens to involve the son of the guy who is working with Seagal’s former employer to smuggle chemical weapons into the US, and at the same time Seagal’s ex-wife’s husband is the kid’s therapist and thus they are targeted to be killed as part of this scheme … like, WHAT?

The BMT – Eh, I guess. I think the main thing is just that we need to watch all of Seagal’s films eventually. It is inevitable. And thus all of this just ends up as homework. I think the thing that saves it is Seagal’s performance. There isn’t much else going for it, too many buddy cop films do the buddy cop shtick better than it. But not many films allow you to witness a martial artist go insane right in front of your eyes. Did it meet my expectations? I think so. Basically if you want to pinpoint the moment in which Seagal misunderstood his own fame and went insane because of it, it is this movie. He has beads, he’s a Buddhist, and he kills like twenty people in cold blood. There isn’t much else to say about it, that’s all you need to know.

Roast-radamus – Definitely gets a shoutout for Setting as a Character (Where?) for Los Angeles. A setting so good apparently it gets shouted out in books about films set in LA. Otherwise I can’t think of any other categories it really qualified for. I think there is an outside shot for BMT as well, just based on Seagal’s performance. Surprising for a quality bad Seagal film if I’m being honest. I would have expected more from it.

StreetCreditReport.com – All of the cred comes from Seagal. Lists ignore this film (which is interesting, this isn’t too long after Under Siege and Executive Decision, both of which were relatively well received), and even someone like Siskel & Ebert don’t put it in their fairly expansive worst of show for 1996. This is basically just another Seagal BMT that we eventually have to watch. It is our duty. 

You Just Got Schooled – So this week I had a tough decision. I could watch Seagal’s first film (Above the Law) or arguably his best film (outside of Under Siege, which I obviously have to save for when we watch its sequel) in Executive Decision. Well … I think I might have chosen wrong with Executive Decision. Not because it wasn’t good. It is pretty serviceable. As far as a plane hijacking movie it has a lot going for it. Poirot is the bad guy. Platt and Russell are fun as the non-military heroes. And they have a ton going on at all times (they’re trying to figure out how to take down the terrorists, they are defusing the bomb, and they are trying to signal Washington, all at the same time). I kind of wish someone would make a film like this now, it just comes across as so earnest and serious about “getting things right”. No, it was a poor decision because (spoilees!) Seagal dies like 30 minutes into the film. I thought he was the co-star! I should have known better. Regardless, a fun movie in the end, and one more notch in my Steven Seagal belt. B-.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs