Behind Enemy Lines Recap

Jamie

A disillusioned navy pilot crashes behind enemy lines in Bosnia and has to survive long enough to report the atrocities he has evidence of. Can he evade capture and rediscover his love for the good ol’ U-S-of-A before it’s too late? Find out in… Behind Enemy Lines.

What?! Lt. Chris Burnett is fed up. He’s fed up with just sitting around while peace is negotiated in the Bosnian War, he’s fed up with his asshole boss Admiral Reigart, and he’s goddamn fed up with flying pointless reconnaissance missions on Christmas Day! That’s why he’s put in his resignation letter and, phew, just a couple more days and he won’t have to deal with it anymore. What could go wrong? Well shortly thereafter his plane goes off course (not his fault), inadvertently takes some pictures of some war crimes (oops), gets blown out of the sky (boy howdy, talk about a rough day), and his co-pilot is killed by Serbian soldiers (that got dark). Now he’s stuck behind enemy lines and America, handcuffed by bullshit peace or whatever, can’t go in and roast some dudes in lethal combat in order to save him (woooooooo, war!). What follows is a long footrace across the mountains of Bosnia with Serbians in hot pursuit. He has some zany adventures falling into mass graves, getting shot at by a sniper, and eventually joining up with some Coca-Cola toting, hip hop spouting Bosnian insurgents who help him to his destination. Finally, just when Burnett retrieves some valuable evidence of war crimes, he is rescued personally by Reigart who is all like “Bet you love America now. How about we just forget about all that resignation shit.” And they laugh and laugh and laugh (mostly so they don’t cry over all the human beings that have killed in the process of the film). THE END.   

Why?! To live. In some ways it’s the motivation underlying every movie we watch (that’s deep, Jamie). Thank you. But seriously, Burnett kinda sucks but has to put all that whiny bullshit aside in order to survive and deliver justice for the war crimes he witnessed. The Serbians want to cover up all those war crimes, which is why they desperately want to snuff out Burnett. It’s a real cat and mouse game here.

What?! This has one of the greatest and most unexpected gratuitous product placements in BMT history. We get Owen Wilson, dehydrated and exhausted, picked up by a truck filled with Bosnian fighters. He begs for some water, but they don’t have any. All they have is some delicious Coca-Cola. He takes a sip and smiles, “it’s good,” he says. Oh, it’s good all right.

Who?! We get a “special thanks” credit for Phil Strub. Who’s that? Why he’s the entertainment liaison for the Department of Defense and by all accounts controls Hollywood’s access to anything military. The article suggests that this dude actually has some influence on the portrayal of the military in film to the point of requesting and getting script changes. Sounds like an amazing job, when do I start?

Where?! Just misses the coveted A+. If only it were called Behind Bosnian Lines. While a terrible title, they would have had the satisfaction of getting the top grade on our website, which is read by tens of people (probably… I don’t know. Might be single digits). A.

When?! Secret Holiday Film Alert! Tis the season to be jolly, because we got Xmas in May up in here. Just when Burnett is heading off for his mission he is lamenting the fact that they are the only crew flying on Christmas Day. The mission is an act of revenge to punish his bad ‘tude. I’m gonna go ahead and give it an A. Not in the title, but vital to the plot in an unexpected way.

We’ve been watching a number of 30-40% RT films lately and I have appreciated seeing what makes them different from the <30% dregs that we are usually watching. The direction, editing, music, and general pro-war stance should have pulled this film lower… and yet it didn’t. Why? I think it was because it was eminently watchable. It was like a Michael Bay film except not 5 hours long and I genuinely enjoyed myself. Maybe that’s what buoyed it up to the the higher edge of BMT. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! What happens when you decide to construct a film entirely out of military stock footage, slow motion shots of Owen Wilson running, and explosions? Let’s go!

The Good – This movie is not that bad, which I guess shouldn’t be that surprising since the Rotten Tomatoes score isn’t that bad. It flies along at a decent pace, Owen Wilson and Gene Hackman are serviceable to solid throughout, and the story is at least pretty interesting (if ludicrous). It is a bad military film, but it is a fine action film, which is a compliment … I think.  

P’s View on the Preview – All of my bad movie hopes and bad movie dreams were tied up in the direction of this film. Everything I read basically suggested two reasons for the bad reviews. The first was just the jingoistic nature of the whole affair, which is often unpalatable to critics. The second though was the frenetic direction which often seemed to go from quick cut incomprehensibility to just multiple versions of Owen Wilson running in slow motion. So mainly I hoped that the direction was so bonkers that it pulled this film from a boring not-great war film to something special.

The Bad – And it kind of did, the direction and soundtrack very obviously sunk the film. Reflecting on the more recent 30-40% Rotten Tomatoes the films tend to be much more tolerable that the truly dire films below 30%. Monte Carlo is a decent example, it is of a cloying teen romantic comedy, but that is kind of the only thing that makes it bad. Here the direction is quite distracting and the soundtrack is just insane. As I said this makes for a shitty military movie, but a tolerable action movie. It does one or two things right, one or two things wrong, let’s call it a draw.

Get Yo Rant On – Was there a point in time when having the bad guys in film be the international peacekeepers was in fashion? The feckless international commander (who they only heavily implied had some shadowy agreement to hide genocide) was from France, and could not have been more in the way. I cannot help but think it has at least something to do with the tacit agreement the film crew and the military struck to get those sweet aircraft carrier shots. Blatant jingoism is as American as, well … military movies I suppose. Little did the director know that Michael Bay had already perfected the art of bending over backwards for sweet military shots with his smash critical hit Pearl Harbor the same year. Rant over.

The BMT – Unfortunately no. But it was interesting to see what is considered to be a late-90s / early 00s bad war film. War films, if they aren’t Sci-Fi (*cough* Battleship *cough*) seem to rarely be very very bad. So it fills a niche there for sure.

Welcome to Earf – Easy one this week. Behind Enemy Lines stars Owen Wilson who was in I Spy with Eddie Murphy who was in Norbit with Terry Crews who was in Blended with Adam Sandler who was in Jack and Jill with Al Pacino who was in 88 Minutes with Leelee Sobieski who was in Here on Earth. Welcome to Earf! There probably is an alternative non-I-Spy path to take, but I couldn’t find it organically.

StreetCreditReport.com – Nope. None. It wasn’t even close to making lists for 2001, but also I couldn’t find a single example in specifically lists concerning war films. Turns out the hatred for The Patriot, Pearl Harbor, and Revolution (you remember Revolution … starring Al Pacino … yeah me neither) is strooooong. Such is life, sometimes you just have to check those boxes.

No homework again, but soon, I can feel it. Soon I’ll be reading some terrible book for BMT.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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Behind Enemy Lines Preview

While under the control of the reverse Amnimals machine we are reduced to our basest instincts. Watching grown men panic about being gay is suddenly hilarious and it seems we may be doomed for all eternity to watch Meet the Spartans on an infinite loop. Noooooooo! Hungry from laughing so much, we order in what we crave: delicious $5 footlongs from Subway. The patented Subway flavor crystals hit our lizard brains and the Amnimals machine is destroyed. Hooray! We are back to our super twin ways! We slam a couple Bud Lights and chase down the Obsidian Dongle with our Budweiser super speed. With the Dongle in hand we take the quickest way out of there: our personal fighter jet. Hope everything works out and this is a totally incident free flight back to the US. Hmmm, should be alright to take this flight out of Greece straight through Bosnian airspace. What could go wrong? That’s right! We’re going Behind Enemy Lines for the final stop on the backpacking tour. This takes place in Bosnia & Herzegovina and will serve as a transition to the next cycle called Mind of a Madman, where we try to watch films produced by the same people as the films we’ve inducted in the BMT HoF. Behind Enemy Lines was produced by John Davis, the same person who made Norbit (believe it or not). I’m excited. Let’s go!

Behind Enemy Lines (2001) – BMeTric: 21.4

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(A rating of 6.4 is actually quite good. It seems like it wants to end up on the other side of 6.5 even. The BMeTric successfully identifies this as borderline BMT, which matched with the Rotten Tomatoes score. A BMeTric of 20 is I think something like a 35 quartile, definitively below the median value.)

Leonard Maltin – 2.5 stars –  A cocky naval airman is shot down behind enemy lines in Bosnia and his commanding officer is unable to rescue him because of political constraints. Action yarn delivers a lot of excitement, but a hyperactive camera may produce motion sickness in some viewers. The corny finale seems to have come from a lesser-grade Hollywood movie of decades past. Followed by a direct-to-video sequel and a direct-to-DVD sequel.

(If you look at John Moore’s note below I already am rather excited about that quick edit style that is being promised. At the time it might have actually been ahead of its time considering Jason Bourne wouldn’t come out until the next year.)

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

(This soundtrack is going to be off the chains, and the camera work does indeed seem bonkers judging from the trailer. I love Gene Hackman though. Straight up.)

Directors – John Moore – (Future BMT: The Omen; I.T.; Flight of the Phoenix; BMT: A Good Day to Die Hard; Max Payne; Behind Enemy Lines; Notes: Wow all of his films are below 40%. Irish, he is known for a quite edit style, which I’ll like to see showcased in this film.)

Writers – Jim Thomas and John Thomas (story) (as James Thomas) – (Known For: Predators; Predator; Executive Decision; Future BMT: Wild Wild West; Mission to Mars; Predator 2; BMT: AVPR: Aliens vs Predator – Requiem; AVP: Alien vs. Predator; Behind Enemy Lines; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Screenplay for Wild Wild West in 2000; Notes: Brothers, that also wrote on the short lived television series Hard Time on Planet Earth which seems like an amazing one-and-done series. Critics “detested” it according to wikipedia.)

David Veloz (screenplay) – (Known For: Natural Born Killers; Permanent Midnight; BMT: Behind Enemy Lines; Notes: Weirdly appeared in the news recently when he was quoted as saying Oliver Stone was “sexist and cruel” and Stone himself made news by defending Harvey Weinstein.)

Zak Penn (screenplay) – (Known For: Ready Player One; Avengers Assemble; The Incredible Hulk; X-Men: The Last Stand; X-Men 2; P.C.U.; The Grand; Incident at Loch Ness; Future BMT: Inspector Gadget; Suspect Zero; Last Action Hero; BMT: Elektra; Behind Enemy Lines; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Last Action Hero in 1994; Notes: Apparently wrote a first draft of Antz. Apparently in Europe P.C.U. is called Politically Correct Party Animals. That film is based on Penn’s experiences with the Eclectic Society of Wesleyan University.)

Actors – Gene Hackman – (Known For: Superman; The Royal Tenenbaums; Young Frankenstein; Unforgiven; Superman II; The Replacements; Bonnie and Clyde; Mississippi Burning; Crimson Tide; The Birdcage; Enemy of the State; The Firm; The French Connection; No Way Out; The Conversation; Antz; A Bridge Too Far; Wyatt Earp; Runaway Jury; The Quick and the Dead; Future BMT: Loose Cannons; Two of a Kind; All Night Long; BMT: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace; Welcome to Mooseport; The Chamber; Behind Enemy Lines; Notes: Considering he retired after Mooseport, we really could finish off his filmography really easily. Loose Cannons looks awful.)

Owen Wilson – (Known For: Wonder; The Grand Budapest Hotel; Cars 3; Fantastic Mr. Fox; Inherent Vice; Cars; Wedding Crashers; The Royal Tenenbaums; Meet the Parents; Midnight in Paris; Zoolander; The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou; The Darjeeling Limited; Night at the Museum; Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb; Night at the Museum 2; No Escape; Bottle Rocket; Marley & Me; She’s Funny That Way; Future BMT: Anaconda; Breakfast of Champions; How Do You Know; Little Fockers; You, Me and Dupree; Are You Here; Drillbit Taylor; Masterminds; Hall Pass; Father Figures; Free Birds; Cars 2; Meet the Fockers; The Internship; Armageddon; BMT: Zoolander 2; The Haunting; Marmaduke; I Spy; Around the World in 80 Days; Behind Enemy Lines; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor, and Worst Screen Combo for Zoolander 2 in 2017; and Nominee for Worst Screen Couple in 2003 for I Spy; Notes: There was a point in time in which Owen Wilson was doing kind of half-funny action-y films. Like Anaconda, The Haunting, and this. This can out right after Shanghai Noon though, so I wonder if it was just a holdover as Wilson was trying to find his niche.)

Gabriel Macht – (Known For: Love & Other Drugs; The Good Shepherd; The Recruit; The Object of My Affection; A Love Song for Bobby Long; Grand Theft Parsons; A Bag of Hammers; The Adventures of Sebastian Cole; Future BMT: The Spirit; Whiteout; Bad Company; Simply Irresistible; Middle Men; BMT: Because I Said So; American Outlaws; Behind Enemy Lines; Notes: Star of Suits and son of Stephen Macht who was a 70s / 80s character actor, especially for bit parts on television shows.)

Budget/Gross – $40 million / Domestic: $58,856,790 (Worldwide: $91,753,202)

(Decent return. You’d think they were looking to get closer to $100 million domestic for an action feature at the time. Came out right after 9/11 though (November 2001), so I wonder if that dampened its return a bit.)

#15 for the Pilot / Aircraft genre

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(You might be tempted to try and match these to wars, but in reality it looks like it is just a wave pattern. The production of “airplane” movies just happened all at once every five years or so. Possibly it matches better with technology involving aviation filmmaking equipment? Left Behind and Stealth are the other BMT examples, and this made the most of any we’ve seen. The number one film, Pearl Harbor, does qualify though.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 37% (48/130): The plot for Behind Enemy Lines is more jingoistic than credible, and the overload of flashy visual tricks makes the action sequences resemble a video game.

(Pretty close to 40%, but I am excited to see (1) slo-mo running, (2) the apparently ridiculous soundtrack, (3) jingoistic nonsense. Sounds like a nice Saturday afternoon honestly. Reviewer Highlight – A piece of junk. – Richard Roeper, Ebert & Roeper; I just love how terse it is, right to the point.)

Poster – Behind Enemy Sklogs (A+)

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(That. Is. The. Best. I actually have goosebumps. I don’t even care that it has shit font. That’s an A+. Wooooooooooo! America!)

Tagline(s) – In War There Are Some Lines You Should Never Cross. (C-)

(Interestingly I don’t think “enemy lines” count as lines that should never be cross… maybe just not accidentally and without a plan/backup. This tagline is a sham! Also this is too long.)

Keyword(s) – navy; Top Ten by BMeTric: 68.3 Gulliver’s Travels (2010); 64.4 Stealth (2005); 42.6 Reptilicus (1961); 41.5 DeepStar Six (1989); 41.1 Battleship (2012); 40.9 Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark (2014); 40.9 Tiptoes (2003); 40.1 Navy Seals (1990); 35.9 G.I. Jane (1997); 32.1 Airport ’77 (1977);

(What a strange group of films. I am quite excited for DeepStar Six though. Should be a very interesting, especially since it is a submarine film (shout out to Jamie’s podcast Submersion, which is all about submarine films).)

Notes – In the football scene, the filmmakers actually tried to have the catapult shuttle kick the football off. Unfortunately, the shuttle completely obliterated the ball, forcing a Navy Master Chief to just chuck the ball in the air for the desired shot. (hahahaha)

The film is based loosely on the experiences of USAF Capt. Scott O’Grady, who was shot down near the town of Mrkonjic Grad in northern Bosnia in June 1995 and was stranded in Serb-held territory for six days before being rescued by US Marines. O’Grady brought a lawsuit against 20th Century-Fox for damages to his character. He claims he didn’t curse as much and never disobeyed orders. (lol, they settled)

Director John Moore was nearly killed in the scene where the tank busts through the wall. He was pulled away by a stuntman just in time.

This is the first movie to feature the US Navy’s new F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. (this is the kind of shit I come for right here)

Owen Wilson jokes that most of this movie was creating “a bunch of ways to make running dramatic.” (Almost definitely)

In the initial flyby scene of the aircraft carrier the deck crew can be seen standing in a long line across the deck. This is part of the beginning of flight operations as they search for any objects lying around on the flight deck (e.g. screws, bolts, trash, etc.) that could be sucked in the aircraft’s intake during takeoff.

The production made all of the snow out of paper. At the time of filming, it was the first winter in 104 years that it hadn’t snowed in Slovakia.

The whole town of Hac is a set, built for the movie

Coca-Cola did not pay for its product placement in the movie. (Good to know before I make fun of it in a week)

The US Navy ship used is the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), which has been used in several other films. (yiiiiiissssssss)

None of the actors playing Serbians were actually Serbian; the producers said that they hired Croats as interns and instructors to teach the actors the Serbian language, because they couldn’t find any Serbs willing to work on the film due to perceived anti-Serb sentiment shown in the film. (Huh that is pretty interesting)

The SAM missile system shown in the film is the 9K35 Strela-10 firing the 9M37M missile. It uses an electro-optical guidance, laser proximity fusing and triple channel guidance system. However, its range is only 5 km and it can only intercept up to 3,500 metres (10,600 feet).

According to the beginning of the movie, the “Cincinnati Accords” ended the war in Bosnia. This treaty is loosely based on the real-life Dayton Agreement that ended the war in late 1995. Ironically, the “Cincinnati Accords” required NATO forces to withdraw from Bosnia, while the real-life Dayton Agreement allowed a large NATO force to be sent to Bosnia to help ensure the peace deal. (Wait … they made up a treaty?)

Some of the flashback footage that’s used is from the Bosnian War movie Savior (1998). (Nice, I love some stock footage facts)

One scene had to be changed because the Department of Defense objected to a two-star general like Reigart leaking information to the press. (I love that the studio gave in too, this kind of stuff seems to happen a lot)

The heat images of soldiers are actually one guy walking around holding a broomstick.

Gene Hackman came up with the idea for Reigart to smoke so he would have a weakness. (hmmmm I like that)

Most of the helicopters in the movie are from the Slovak Air Force, but the rescue choppers are American-made.

The producers had complete cooperation from the US Department of Defense. For one scene, they even turned around the aircraft carrier so the crew could get the right shot. (Explains the above note, unless you are tricky you need cooperation to get that shot)

The jet scraps are actually two old Soviet MiG 21s that the production bought for $5,000.

Meet the Spartans Recap

Jamie

A small army of Spartans battle the fearsome Persians while also waxing poetic about the many short lived cultural touchstones of the mid-2000s that in no way grow old and stale by the minute. Can they manage to shove a whole bunch of dog poo in your face, and I guess also defeat the Persians, before it’s too late? Find out in… Meet the Spartans.

What?! You ever watch 300 and think to yourself that you needed more references to Britney Spears, Kevin Federline, the entire (and now defunct) judges panel from American Idol, Paris Hilton, Shrek, Ghost Rider, Tyra Banks, Happy Feet, Ugly Betty, and some terrible singer named Sanjaya (I don’t even know who that is)? Well boy howdy do I have a film for you. It’s just like 300 in that Leonidus takes a small army to defend Sparta from a large invading force of Persians, but… like… not that anymore because it spends the entire time dropping cultural references, hawking explicit product placements, panicking about being gay, and shoving dog poo in your face. It is… obviously amazing and I loved it. JK, lolz. It’s terrible. Whatever, it’s not even worth talking about the plot. It’s 300… just think of 300.

Why?! Ha! Why? To save Sparta I guess. Otherwise this film serves no purpose other than to exist in the moment. Every joke has a six month half-life maximum, to the point where the funniest aspect of the film is to marvel at just how quickly everything in the film became outdated. Less than a decade later and almost every joke has no meaning today. Do people even know what Ugly Betty is anymore? I hadn’t thought of that TV show in years and yet there she is as the Oracle! A major scene in the film! The only stuff that was disconnected from such references was all the humor derived solely from the idea that the Spartans are secretly gay… which is dated in a different way.

What?! I think I became immune to product placement as a result of the this film. Some are parts of actual jokes, like a Budweiser commercial hilariously claiming that the Spartans are… wait for it… closeted homosexuals. How funny. Others are just our main character munching on a Subway sandwich and exclaiming his distaste for mayonnaise… which I guess is a joke. I’m not sure anymore. In fact, I know longer know what laughter and humor is.

Who?! 100% of the spoofs of celebrity impressions are done by about three actors. The only significant cameo is Method Man, who plays a Persian warrior that gives our “heroes” a run for their money in a dance-off. Nice.

Where?! It’s in the title. While I hate to admit that something could replace my beloved Legend of Hercules on the world mapl.de.map I have to give credit where credit is due: this is a truly terrible film that deserves the spot. A+

When?! Considering Sanjaya was eliminated from American Idol on April 18, 2007 I’m tempted to say that this film takes place about 15 minutes after that. But since the film (kinda) depicts the Battle of Thermopylae I guess it actually takes place in August/September 480 BC. Whatever. D.

The more I type about this film the more I hate it so I’m just going to stop. It is terrible… and yet somehow slightly better than Epic Movie. How is that possible? Well at least there are some jokes (like that the Spartans skip everywhere they go) that at least still are jokes and haven’t crumbled away into insignificant dog poo dust. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone? You ever sit quietly and wistfully think of those moments in life where someone pushed dog poo in your face? You don’t? Huh … seems like we just keep on doing it, I was wondering what I was missing. We watched Meet the Spartans which was … let’s get into it!

The Good – Uuuuuh. I think this movie is better than Epic Movie. Only because it has a storyline (the plot of 300) it is trying to faithfully (more or less) follow. The jokes, I think, are worse in many ways, but the structure is more reminiscent of Airplane! and other successful examples from the past, so I think ultimately it works slightly better. It is also, no joke, 60 minutes long. The credits and bloopies are easily 15 minutes of the 87 minute runtime.

P’s View on the Preview – I was mainly interested to see who was in this film, because that is kind of all there is to these types of films. Unless you make a complete mess (Movie 43) the quality is entirely based on the comedic chops available. I basically didn’t recognize anyone in this case, although I vaguely recognized television’s Hercules. It is totally unsurprising that more than a few impressions were done by MadTv alums. Don’t shoot the messenger, but MadTv was terrible.

The Bad – Yeah, bad comedies can often fall into the category of “an extended SNL sketch”, see Deuce Bigelow. This? This is an extended MadTv sketch (heeeeyoooooo). The movie is the story of 300 … with an inordinate number of gay sex, puke, fart, and shit jokes. I laughed zero times. As a matter of fact, this movie sucked some of my joy and laughter from previous films back inside of me, that is how bad and soul destroying it is.

Get Yo Rant On – Many people chose to take exception at the sheer amount of product placement in the film. But me? I’m mostly insulted by the fact that the film barely makes fun of films. At least Epic movie tried to make fun of Lion Witch & the Wardrobe, Superman, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Pirates of the Caribbean, etc. Here? Reality show spoofs as far as the eye can see. Dancing competitions, American Idol judges, Paris Hilton, etc. Cheap, tired, and now out of date jokes that tear the movie down. There is, I think, a spoof of some American Idol contestant I didn’t even recognize. Just … trash. Pure and simply. Stay in your lane, and leave the reality show spoofs to television shows where they belong. Rant over.

The BMT – Just checkin’ boxes over here, nothing to see. It is the second highest BMeTric likely, so there is cred there. We’ll finish the Friedberg and Seltzer films, it just might take us 10 years.

Welcome to Earf: Meet the Spartans stars Diedrich Bader, who was in The Beverly Hillbillies with Rob Schneider, who was in Grown Ups with Adam Sandler, who was in Jack and Jill with Al Pacino, who was in 88 Minutes with Leelee Sobieski, who was in Here on Earf. Welcome to Earf!

StreetCreditReport.com – A lot of places don’t consider this a film. Not joking, one place said: “This list would most definitely be topped by ‘Meet The Spartans’, ‘Superhero Movie’ and ‘Disaster Movie’ but techniclly [sic] these aren’t films.” It does seem to be covered a bit by Disaster Movie which for whatever reason garners a lot more hatred and, somehow, came out in the same year.

And no homework, thank god, so I’ll leave it there.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Meet the Spartans Preview

Fresh off our hike to Spain, Patrick and I are captured by the Absterlutely FerSher Industries goons and thrust into the Amnimals machine. Turns out it was all a ruse (what a twist!) and they didn’t want to help us get the Obsidian Dongle at all! Instead they wanted to hook our super big brains (nbd) into the machine to triangulate the location of the Dongle and grab it for themselves so they can control the world (told you the Obsidian Dongle was rad). “No way!” we say. Time to double cross and grab the Dongle right back. They didn’t count on our ninja skillz as we totally karate chop them in the wrist and get all up in that Dongle business. However, upon fleeing using our jet packs the goons reverse the Amnimals machine to brain drain us! Oh no! We are becoming extra dumb dumbs! As we crash land in Greece we know deep down what we must do with the Obsidian Dongle but keep getting distracted by the dumbest things possible. That’s right! We’re watching Meet the Spartans. Almost certainly one of the dumbest things we’ll ever watch this is also the highest BMeTric scoring films left for BMT and obviously appears on the BMT Calendar. Perfect for our Challenges entry in the cycle. We’ve avoided it for too long. Let’s go!

Meet the Spartans (2008) – BMeTric: 95.9

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(Even this gets a little bit of that sweet sweet regression to the mean. Given that there are now nearly 100K votes on IMDb I guess it isn’t a surprise that they aren’t all ones and twos. It must get a few threes thrown to it once in a while. This is just a shade below Epic Movie as the worst (best?) BMeTric of all time.)

Leonard Maltin – BOMB –  The creators of Date Movie and Epic Movie concocted this moronic, product-placement-laden spoof of the homoeroticism of 300, aimed at adolescent boys. Plot involves King Leonidas of Sparta (Maguire) and his self-adoring, scantily clad warriors as they battle the Persians. Oodles of pop-cultural references are complete duds. Unrated version runs 87m.

(That run time pleases me, as does the kick ass hyphen game from Leonard, and that this is the second BOMB of the cycle. Funny enough looking around I think this is only the second BOMB in something like eight months, although that is slightly less clear. He is certainly precious with them.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RY-zJtYYolo

(Oooooof the Britney Spears part. That actress plays like four or five different parts and was in over one hundred MadTv episodes (that makes so much sense …). The film looks aggressively dumb and not funny. Why? Why are we doing this?)

Directors – Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer – (Future BMT: Disaster Movie; Date Movie; Vampires Suck; The Starving Games; Best Night Ever; BMT: Epic Movie; Meet the Spartans; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Director in 2009 for Disaster Movie, and Meet the Spartans; and in 2011 for Vampires Suck; and Nominee for Worst Screenplay in 2008 for Epic Movie; in 2009 for Disaster Movie, and Meet the Spartans; and in 2011 for Vampires Suck; Notes: Over a year ago it was rumored that they were working on a Star Wars spoof … I kind of hope it happens. It does have an IMDb page. So I think the title will ultimately change, seems way too close to the movies that Craig Moss produces like this and this.)

Writers – Jason Friedberg  and Aaron Seltzer (written by) – (Known For: Scary Movie; Future BMT: Disaster Movie; Date Movie; Vampires Suck; The Starving Games; Scary Movie 4; Scary Movie 2; Spy Hard; Scary Movie 3; Best Night Ever; BMT: Epic Movie; Meet the Spartans; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Director in 2009 for Disaster Movie, and Meet the Spartans; and in 2011 for Vampires Suck; and Nominee for Worst Screenplay in 2008 for Epic Movie; in 2009 for Disaster Movie, and Meet the Spartans; and in 2011 for Vampires Suck; Notes: Recently they’ve been brought up on multiple sites to slam Ready Player One. The comparison is mainly about the sheer amount of product placement they use.)

Actors – Sean Maguire – (Known For: Waterland; The Dukes; BMT: Meet the Spartans; Notes: After this film he turned down Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire, a British show, because he wanted to be taken more seriously. He reconsidered at the behest of his agent. He played Robin Hood in Once Upon a Time.)

Kevin Sorbo – (Known For: Soul Surfer; Let There Be Light; Future BMT: God’s Not Dead; Bitch Slap; Big Fat Important Movie; Kull the Conqueror; The Kings of Mykonos; BMT: Meet the Spartans; Notes: Hercules. Raised in Minnesota he’s done a number of Christian films recently. He claims he isn’t overly religious, although he endorsed Donald Trump for president saying that “Jesus would have voted for Trump”.)

Carmen Electra – (Known For: Scary Movie; Starsky & Hutch; Get Over It; Mr 3000; I Want Candy; Future BMT: Disaster Movie; Date Movie; Pledge This!; My Boss’s Daughter; Scary Movie 4; Dirty Love; Good Burger; Bedtime Stories; Uptown Girls; Christmas in Wonderland; Full of It; Perfume; The Mating Habits of the Earthbound Human; BMT: Epic Movie; Meet the Spartans; Cheaper by the Dozen 2; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Supporting Actress in 2007 for Date Movie, and Scary Movie 4; and Nominee for Worst Supporting Actress in 2005 for Starsky & Hutch; in 2006 for Dirty Love; in 2008 for Epic Movie; and in 2009 for Disaster Movie, and Meet the Spartans; Notes: I knew her mostly from MTV’s Singled Out, but her career is nuts. Fronted for a rap group in LA until being discovered by Prince, then toured with him as his opening act. Ended up getting her big break on Baywatch.)

Budget/Gross – $30 million / Domestic: $38,233,676 (Worldwide: $84,646,831)

(Solid return. Not a surprise they produced a sequel. Oh, what’s that, you think they didn’t make a sequel? Well, at one point a wikipedia page existed for Meet the Spartans 2, which now redirects to Disaster Movie. It is almost definite that they realized that making fun of 300 didn’t work any more so they transitioned the planned sequel into something more fresh. Still, not surprising that they continued on their merry way with the franchise.)

#20 for the Comedy – Spoof genre

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(This came at a peak for the Friedberg / Seltzer brand of spoof. Subsequently the genre has well and truly died I think. Fifty Shades of Black was the last real example and it made so little money I don’t think the Wayans brothers are going to do anymore. It really depends on how you define things like Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. Then again, that didn’t make much money either. Given the success of the Wet Hot American Summer television series, I wonder if we’ll see a few more TV examples in the coming years.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 2% (1/48): A tired, unfunny, offensive waste of time, Meet the Spartans scrapes the bottom of the cinematic barrel.

(Amazing. That one good review basically says “don’t expect much and this isn’t literally the worst thing you’ve ever seen” .. Reviewer Highlight: What’s the point of making a parody that’s dumber than the stuff it parodies? – Gene Seymour, Newsday)

Poster – Meet the Sklogans (F)

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(Designed like a heat seeking missile aimed at me not wanting to watch this movie. Nope. Pass.)

Tagline(s) – The Bigger the Hit, The Harder They Fall (C+)

(Oh geez. This is on the level of “From the producers of..” type self-referential taglines that I don’t like. Doesn’t tell me much about the film other than that it is a spoof… which everyone knows. Though it is at least a little clever, so climbs out of the basement.)

Keyword(s) – greece; Top Ten by BMeTric: 95.9 Meet the Spartans (2008); 82.6 The Legend of Hercules (2014); 51.0 Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003); 49.0 Mortdecai (2015); 48.7 Hercules Reborn (2014); 47.8 Alexander (2004); 41.1 Clash of the Titans (2010); 40.8 Wrath of the Titans (2012); 40.5 Hercules (1983); 40.2 Ben-Hur (2016);

(Sigh nothing will ever beat it. It will be stuck on the Mapstreet’s Map Alright! Sklogpacking Across Europe forever and ever. Good news is Alexander will be amazing to watch I think.)

Notes – Not screened for critics. (duh)

The entire movie was shot in a week. (WHAT)

The film led Sean McGuire to be cast as the title character of the short-lived fantasy comedy series “Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire”, which was discontinued after 1 season due to it’s mixed reviews.

The narrator introduces Xerxes as looking like the fat guy from Borat, he’s played by Ken Davitian who played the fat guy in Borat.

To date (2011), one of two movies written and directed by both Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, not to have the word “movie” in the title. The other is Vampires Suck (2010).

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Picture

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress (Carmen Electra)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Director (Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer)

Assassin’s Creed Recap

Jamie

Cal is a killer given a new lease on life by a company claiming to look for a cure for violence. Through the use of technology his consciousness is transported into the mind of his ancestor in order to find the powerful Apple of Eden. Can he prevent the Apple from falling into the wrong hands before it’s too late? Find out in… Assassin’s Creed.

What?! The Assassin’s Brotherhood is a group sworn to protect the world from the Templars. During the Spanish Inquisition this entails preventing them from recovering what is known as the Apple of Eden, a MacGuffin… I mean, sphere that contains the key to destroying free will and thus subjugating the human race (rad, right?). Cal is descended from these assassins and is rescued from execution by a group called Abstergo in order to find the Apple (extra cool beans). They hook him up to the Animus machine that taps into his assassin genes and relive scenes from his ancestors past (real cool stuff, believe you me). While he struggles with whether to help his captors for the promise of freedom, knowing that they might be evil, he eventually succumbs when it’s revealed that his father, who he witnessed kill his mother, is also held by Abstergo and is an assassin. He’s like “I learned it from you, dad!” and out of spite helps Abstergo discover that the Apple was hidden by none other than Christopher Columbus (badass). They then get the apple and Cal is like “oops, my bad” and quickly turns around and kills the main bad guy and recovers the apple like no big deal (cause he’s a rad, cool, badass assassin destined for several sequels). We then have 15 minutes of credits… not joking, they are actually 15 minutes long. THE END.

Why?! Cal witnessed the murder of his mother by his father as a child and grew up to be a killer himself. So his motivation for much of the movie is to be free so that he might escape what he perceives as cursed genes. This freedom will be granted only if he can deliver the Apple of Eden to Abstergo Industries, so that is what he does. Eventually when he realizes that the Apple of Eden is a MacGuffin that will allow for the Templars to control the world he changes his tune and works against them. That’s the beauty of a MacGuffin. EVERYONE must have it. NO ONE can resist.

What?! This is a truly primo MacGuffin with the Apple of Eden. I mean, it is a total mystery as to what it is, but we do know that the most powerful organization in the world would do anything to get their hands on. To me it sounded like it contained the key to discovering the genetic source to violence in humans (which also is genetically what gives us free will). However, in the video game it sounds more like a piece of the Garden of Eden, which… like… zombifies humans because of the power it holds… or something. It’s hard to explain.

Who?! We get an In Memory Of to Eli Richbourg. He was the VP of Film Development for UbiSoft and was involved in the Assassin’s Creed development. Interestingly he died in 2013 of a brain aneurysm, which gives you a sense of how long the film was in development at UbiSoft.

Where?! It is a very nice Spain movie with settings in both Madrid and Granada. Kinda jumps through hoops to make sure you understand that’s where they are in both the present and past when they very easily could have just obscured it in the beginning. Nope. Very clear and vital to much of the plot. A.

When?! We get an exact date announced for Cal’s date of execution: October 21st, 2016. While this date is not particularly important for the main storyline, the year in the past is 1492. Bet you can’t tell who plays a prominent role in the finale… spoiler alert he directed Home Alone. I say this combines to form a solid A-.

When I started this film I was getting real Transformers vibes. Not the later ones, but the first one and I had a moment where I thought, “wait, could I actually like this?” And then that all fell apart and the movie was straight garbage. It spends way too much time in the present and not enough time in the past and even when they would show you the past you knew it was useless because they more or less told you that Cal couldn’t change anything of the events. So it was like watching someone else watch a movie… cool. This all led to a ridiculously anticlimactic finale that might as well have just had Cal stand in front of the screen and say “I know this is lame, but just you wait for the sequel.” It was terrible… like really, really bad. Although it was pretty at times. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Assassin’s Creed? More like Assassin’s Crud amirite? Ubisoft thought they could make a movie (how hard could it be?) … turns out they were wrong. Let’s get into it!

The Good – The acting. Fassbender, Cotillard, and Irons all did a great job all things considered. There is something to the underlying story, although it is definitely a video game story through and through, but it is interesting in its own way. I could be beautiful at times, in the same way Warcraft was beautiful at times, although not as much as they seemed to think.

P’s View on the Preview – This film felt like it was going to be much better than the critics gave it credit for. I was convinced that I would watch it and think to myself “I guess at the time people just weren’t ready to give a silly movie a chance like they do comic book movies”. Compared to more recent mediocre responses to such films (Tomb Raider, and Rampage) this was completely destroyed in terms of reviews, and it seemed so unlikely that it was actually that bad.

The Bad – But it was. From the word go the direction was really just not where it needed to be. The story is silly, the acting is very serious, and the direction had to be able to tie those two pieces together … but instead we received bad looking crane shots with CGI dust inserted to obscure the vistas (I need me some goddamn vistas). The scenes in the past were mostly worthless as well. Oh and let’s go ahead an glorify Christopher Columbus, expert genocider and colossal garbage human to end the film … great idea.

Get Yo Rant On – I feel like I’m slowly honing on in my structure much like how Jamie ended up with the 6Ws. Here I think the sklogcabulary quiz, sklogification, sklognalysis will kind of live under the guise of me getting my rant on. We all got to vent. We know that because Bud Light told us so via the 8th wonder of the modern world: the vented beer can. Ahem … You know what I can live with? A terribly contrived and rushed plotline that seems to occur in say … three days. But there is one thing I don’t abide … fake anti-heros (coining it now as the Semi-Hero, Sklogcabulary Quiz mid-rant). Have some balls and make a real anti-hero. Cal is a murderer, great start. But wait! He killed a pimp. Aw guys, it was just a pimp. Wait a tick … why does that matter? Are we supposed to think you are some vigilante hero because you killed a pimp? Give me a break. He has the blood of assassins, he doesn’t need to have some heart of gold so we can root for him. It’s called an anti-hero, not an anti-but-depending-on-how-you-feel-about-vigilante-justice-maybe-a-regular-hero, rant over!

The BMT – Lump it in with Warcraft as a failed video game adaptation of 2016 prior to what has become a kind of rise for the genre in 2018. Sure, Rampage is barely clinging to the somewhat embarrassing distinction of being the first video game film to ever get a 50% or above on Rotten Tomatoes (currently 98-98, exactly 50%), but that is much better than those the came before. Really depends on the director I think … and maybe whether Assassin’s Creed can hold onto that Map Street’s Map Alright! Spain spot.

Welcome to Earf: Assassin’s Creed stars Jeremy Irons who was in Dungeons & Dragons with Marlon Wayans who was in White Chicks with Terry Crews, who was in Blended with Adam Sandler, who was in Jack and Jill with Al Pacino, who was in 88 Minutes with Leelee Sobieski, who was in Here on Earf. Welcome to Earf!

StreetCreditReport.com – Here the film is hidden by two factors. First, it came out on Christmas day of 2016 which means it is somewhat unlikely to make worst of 2016 or 2017 lists, and thus kind of misses out. Second, it tends to be passed over by Warcraft which came out the same year. Critics seemed to not want to throw two video game adaptations in the mix. I don’t think it’ll ever get play though, eventually I think Assassin’s Creed will end up with the (somewhat undeserved) distinction of ushering in a close-and-faithful “realistic” video game film, and could be a pre-Tomb Raider footnote … just feels like it.

I have never played any of these games, but maybe now I will. After a crazy April I’m going to start taking stock of the upcoming movies so I can start doing more of the homework. It feels like I’m letting people down here.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Assassin’s Creed Preview

Having infiltrated the super secret terrorist HQ in Budapest under the guise of the world famous Bad Movie Twins, Patrick and I attempt to locate what we were sent to recover: the obsidian dongle (bum, bum, bum). Trust us, this technological wonder is bad news and we totes gotta get it before the bad guys do or else… something bad for sure. In a stroke of bad luck my mutant disease takes hold and I reveal myself to be a bad guy working in league with the terrorists (what a twist!). Patrick knows the real me and helps me understand that I was never a mutant at all. That to overcome the disease all I had to do was believe in myself, for the nonmutant was within me the whole time! Hooray! With me now cured and our twin powers combined we handily defeat the terrorists, but at the last moment the obsidian dongle slips through our grasps. With hope seemingly lost we are approached by a representative of Absterlutely FerSher Industries. They know the way to finally rid the world of the dongle as long as we are willing to make Spain the next stop on this crazy hike we call life. That’s right! We’re watching Assassin’s Creed for the Fantasy entry in the cycle. Set in Spain both past and future, this video game adaptation did anything but break the video game curse. Despite the high level talent and effort put forth they still ended up with shit. Bad for them, good for BMT. Let’s go!

Assassin’s Creed (2016) – BMeTric: 40.7

AssassinsCreed_BMeT

AssassinsCreed_RV

(Wow, opening near 9.0 is hilarious. Dropped below 6.0 at this point which is definitely where I would have expected it as this point. Loving the VOD bump, it has been a while old friend.)

RogerEbert.com – 1.5 stars –  Unlike the actual video game, “Assassin’s Creed” isn’t ridiculous and fun, but rather ridiculous and turgid. … there’s no way to translate the hands-on action of a video game to the silver screen, so many video game adaptations either have no plot, or get bogged down in blase set-up.

(Yup. Well … no plot is a stretch. But it is either a ton of kind of boring set up (Street Fighter Legend of Chun Li’s plot is basically all set up and no fighting for example) or really ridiculous stuff constantly (Super Mario Bros. or Silent Hill: Revelations come to mind). They have plots, they are just often boring or ridiculous with no inbetween. The more successful ones, like Silent Hill, tend to reign in the ridiculous and don’t get super bogged down in the details. Sounds like they got bogged down in the details here.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfJVoF5ko1Y

(I think it doesn’t help that a film like this just … isn’t really up my alley. Like the fight choreography looks overdone and a little tired at this point. I can kind of see the seams of the film come apart a bit and see the Prince-of-Persia-with-better-production-quality showing through. That isn’t even necessarily bad … it just doesn’t feel like the first video game film to actually be “good”. Also feels like it is going to be dark. Hate the music, but whatever. I think I hated the trailer when it came out too. I never played the games, which might also be a bit unhelpful.)

Directors – Justin Kurzel – (Known For: Macbeth; The Snowtown Murders; The Turning; BMT: Assassin’s Creed; Notes: Australian. His brother is a music composer and often works with him on projects, and he has four movies in production at this point, which is pretty crazy.)

Writers – Michael Lesslie (screenplay by) – (Known For: Macbeth; BMT: Assassin’s Creed; Notes: Both him and Kurzel worked with Fassbender on Macbeth which is why they were chosen. Next on the docket: Hamlet.)

Adam Cooper and Bill Collage (screenplay by) – (Known For: Tower Heist; Future BMT: The Transporter Refueled; Allegiant; Exodus: Gods and Kings; Accepted; BMT: New York Minute; Assassin’s Creed; Notes: They do a bit more television now, including a television movie called The French Detective. It is based on a series of “bookshots” by James Patterson … I’m officially intrigued, although when did we start called short stories “bookshots”?)

Corey May, Jade Raymond, and Patrice Désilets (based on the video game series created by) (uncredited) – (BMT: Assassin’s Creed; Notes: Hugely successful video game series with, at this point, 10 main series games (20 in total). Jade Raymond was a programmer for what I consider to be the best online trivia game ever made: Sony Online Entertainment’s Trivial Pursuit Online!)

Actors – Michael Fassbender – (Known For: Alien: Covenant; Inglourious Basterds; X-Men: Apocalypse; 300; X-Men: Days of Future Past; Prometheus; The Light Between Oceans; 12 Years a Slave; X: First Class; Steve Jobs; Shame; Song to Song; Macbeth; A Dangerous Method; Eden Lake; Jane Eyre; Centurion; Frank; Haywire; Hunger; Future BMT: The Counselor; BMT: Jonah Hex; The Snowman; Assassin’s Creed; Notes: We just saw him in The Snowman. He is apparently going out with Alicia Vikander. They are a regular video game acting couple!)

Marion Cotillard – (Known For: Inception; The Dark Knight Rises; Allied; Contagion; Midnight in Paris; Big Fish; Public Enemies; Macbeth; Rust and Bone; Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues; Two Days, One Night; Le Petit Prince; Les fantômes d’Ismaël; La Vie en Rose; Rock’n Roll; It’s Only the End of the World; The Immigrant; Blood Ties; A Very Long Engagement; Love Me If You Dare; Future BMT: Nine; BMT: Assassin’s Creed; Notes: Very impressive resume considering she only has one more qualified film left. Cast in the upcoming Dr. Dolittle film.)

Jeremy Irons – (Known For: Justice League; Red Sparrow; The Lion King; Beautiful Creatures; Lolita; Die Hard with a Vengeance; Their Finest; High-Rise; The Man Who Knew Infinity; The Mission; Margin Call; Stealing Beauty; Inland Empire; Casanova; Race; Appaloosa; Damage; Dead Ringers; The Merchant of Venice; Night Train to Lisbon; Future BMT: The Pink Panther 2; The Time Machine; The Man in the Iron Mask; Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; La corrispondenza; BMT: Dungeons & Dragons; Eragon; Assassin’s Creed; Notes: Well established theatrical actor who grew up on the Isle of Wight. Currently, still, Alfred in the recent Batman films.)

Budget/Gross – $125 million / Domestic: $54,647,948 (Worldwide: $240,942,515)

(Not bad worldwide, although given the budget maybe a disappointment? But top 10 video game adaptation … they couldn’t have really hoped for more than $100 million domestic I would think.)

#18 for the Hitman / Assassin genre

assassinscreed_hitman

(Huh … I completely forgot about This Means War which juuuuust barely beats this film out for the highest grossing Hitman film we’ve seen for BMT. The giant peak is Pulp Fiction, and these days the per theater average looks a bit down. I wish Wanted qualified for BMT, that film is just god awful.)

#9 for the Video Game Adaptation genre

assassinscreed_videogameadaptation

(Naturally, perfect timing from BMT with Rampage releasing this week. Tomb Raider and Rampage this year are very likely to be the two best critically received video game films ever. They are kicking it up a notch, and given The Rock’s current hotness I imagine Rampage has a decent shot at a top three gross for the genre. Which will open the floodgates even more.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 18% (35/192): Assassin’s Creed is arguably better made (and certainly better cast) than most video game adaptations; unfortunately, the CGI-fueled end result still is still a joylessly overplotted slog.

(Joyless doesn’t sound very fun. Other reviews call it “over-cast” which is meaningless … except I think they are going for some “joyless” pub of sorts with “overcast”? Maybe, that would be kind of bonkers and I kind of love it now. Reviewer Highlight: Assassin’s Creed mistakenly assumes that the plot is the most important element of its source material. Actually, it’s the least. – Darren Franich, Entertainment Weekly (I actually agree with this, a lot of video game movies fall into the trap of trying to deliver too much fan service via the plot, when making a new story is probably the best way to go).)

Poster – Assassin’s Sklog (B-)

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(Blah, you need better coloring, bro. Embrace that blood red and wash out Fassbender’s coloring and you might have something. Like the framing and the font, but comes off bland and amateurish as it is.)

Tagline(s) – Your destiny is in your blood (B-)

(God damn! That would work amazing with the Sklog poster with “Your destiny is in your sklog.” Otherwise this is real close to not meaning anything. Probably better than it actually sounds… which is real awkward. My brain doesn’t like it.)

Keyword(s) – based on video game; Top Ten by BMeTric: 90.1 Alone in the Dark (2005); 88.6 House of the Dead (2003); 88.6 Street Fighter (1994); 87.4 BloodRayne (2005); 86.5 Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997); 85.8 In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007); 84.0 Super Mario Bros. (1993); 79.2 Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009); 72.8 Far Cry (2008); 69.7 Wing Commander (1999);

(I always forget we “haven’t seen” Mario Bros. … we have. Many times. Just not for BMT yet. It’ll come up though. This is a sublime set of movies, just a murderer’s row from top to bottom.)

Notes – The film features the highest free fall performed by a stuntman in almost 35 years. The stuntman Damien Walters performed a free fall from the height of 125 feet (38 meters), which lasted almost 3 seconds with a 61 mph impact speed. (Exciting. I appreciate the effort for practical effects)

Michael Fassbender and Ariane Labed did 95% of the fights in the film themselves.

Cal’s father, Joseph is played by Brendan Gleeson and the young Joseph is played by Brian Gleeson – who is actually Brendan’s son. (Hmmmmm. I kind of prefer janky CGI honestly).

Ubisoft gave the prop makers a detailed list of every weapon ever made for the games that they could use as a guide.

The Assassins costumes took 2-3 months to make and were all hand-crafted. There are eight versions of each costume, with an entire costume team devoted to each of the Assassins. (Kind of love the detail here actually)

80% of the film, including stunts, extras and locations, were shot on camera, without using CGI.

This movie is based on a game with the same name. The actor Michael Fassbender had never played any of the nine games in the series until just before filming commenced; he didn’t even know that the games existed until he was hired by Ubisoft. (HA)

As one of the producers, Michael Fassbender lobbied to have Justin Kurzel directing the movie following their work on Macbeth (2015). Fassbender also chose Marion Cotillard to be his co-star again. (Yes, obviously, although I think they might have needed more experiences screenwriters on the job).

Marion Cotillard told French magazine Studio Ciné Live in May 2016, that when she was on the set of Mal de pierres (2016), she received a new version of the script of Assassin’s Creed and discovered that her character and by extension the film, no longer corresponded to what she had loved. So she called director Justin Kurzel and he fully agreed with her disagreements. For fifteen days, Kurzel, Michael Fassbender and Cotillard reworked the script. (Huh, and yet none of them have a writing credit which is interesting).

In the Assassin’s Creed video game series the present-day character, Desmond, has a scar on the right side of his lip. This same scar can also be seen on the assassin from the first game, Altair, as well as the assassin from Assassin’s Creed II, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, and Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, Ezio. Coincidentally, Michael Fassbender also has a similar scar on the same side of his upper lip. (Coooooool)

The historical sequences set in 15th century Spain were shot in Spanish language. According to Justin Kurzel, they tried to do them in English first, but the decision about Spanish was too obvious and good, and it adds an exoticness and richness to the film. In the games, however, these sequences were in English, as well as all the modern-day scenes. Which was explained by the presence of built-in translator in the Animus machine.

While portraying Aguilar de Nerha, the protagonist of the past time-line, Michael Fassbender wore brown contact lenses, creating an alienating effect to the outward world and achieving the subtle difference between him and Callum Lynch, the protagonist of the present time-line. (Jeez louise. I need to curate these notes, but I kind of love them).

Michael Fassbender actively participated in the film’s post-production, including editing. (I hope he didn’t do the same with The Snowman heeeeeeeeeeeeeyooooooooo)

Kurzel didn’t want the movie to feel like a superhero film, he wanted to embrace “what it is to be human” through practical effects and parkour-intensive stunts. (Honestly … that’s a little weird. To use practical effects to make something NOT feel like something? Not sure I agree).

Originally, it was going to be 2 hours and 20 minutes. It was then shortened to only 1 hour and 48 minutes. (Wooooooof, not a ton of confidence there)

At the end of the film when the templers all meet up. The building they are in is the United Grand Lodge of England, the building is the main lodge for Freemasonry in the U.K. (That’s a fun fact).

I Spy Recap

Substandard secret agent Alex Scott is paired with cocky boxing champ Kelly Robinson to recover a missing government weapon known as The Switchblade. Can they recover the weapon, stop the baddies, and get the girl before it’s too late? Find out in… I Spy. Also test your super-spy powers with the quiz!)

Jamie

What?! Alex Scott is a bumbling stumbling spy ready to make his mark (a real Patrick type character). When a secret government weapon called The Switchblade is stolen, Alex is teamed with a cocky boxing champ with an oversized ego, Kelly Robinson (a real Jamie type character). With this Jamie and Patrick type team of super spies assembled they head to Hungary where it’s rumored that a terrorist baddy is trying to sell the weapon (a real Tolstoy type character). Through the fame of Kelly Robinson they are able to infiltrate the bad guy’s hideout and plant a tracking device on the terrorist, but nearly get caught and have to escape. The next morning they track the terrorist to a turkish bath, but it turns out to be a trap (oh no!) and Alex’s lady love is tragically killed. Angry and despondent, Kelly Robinson heads to his boxing match while Alex continues to track the weapon. He is able to find it hidden in plain sight through advanced cloaking technology, but is captured in the showdown with the terrorists (classic Patrick). In a giant twist it turns out his lady love didn’t actually die but was a traitor in league with the bad guy (what a twist!). When all seems lost Kelly Robinson (in a real Jamie move) comes to rescue and they are able to recover the weapon, albeit in the most stumbly bumbly way possible. Credits roll and we are promised a spy franchise to laugh and cry with for the next decade. THE END.

Why?! I mean… I guess it’s just Alex’s job so he has to try to stop the terrorist. He does have some hang ups about being considered a second rate spy and feels like he has something to prove in order to get with the lady spy he’s crushing on. As for Kelly he’s mostly just an egomaniac that wants a parade. Finally, the bad guy wants to sell The Switchblade for cash monies plain and simple. In fact, even after being informed that the weapon will be used by its buyer to drop a bomb on Washington DC he kinda just shrugs. He don’t care as long as he gets that cash.

What?! MacGuffin alert! The entire conceit of the film is the recovery of a super secret government plane nicknamed The Switchblade. It also has a cloaking device that makes it nearly invisible to the naked eye. While it is unclear why a plane would need that given they are detected with everything but the naked eye, the bad guys still seem pretty jazzed for it, so must be good and definitely not dumb.

Who?! I could talk about all the boxing related celebs that had cameos in this film, such as Sugar Ray Leonard, but I’m much more interested in the fact that the actual Mayor of Budapest made an uncredited appearance in this film. That is so perfect I feel like I should already give this film an A+ for setting. Oh, and the IMDb trivia claims Will Ferrell voiced a faux George W. Bush in a scene, but he is not credited or uncredited anywhere that I can find… so is it real? Can’t say.

Where?! Hungary, duh. 80% of the film takes place there and some major landmarks take center stage. A perfect grade A setting. Even more interesting are some of the minor settings such as our recently departed Monte Carlo and an opening that takes place in Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan is so rare that it’s very tempting just to use this film for that location too.

When?! I feel like some of our recent films has shaken my belief that the full setting for films are likely attainable as long as they aren’t purposefully obscured (a la The Tuxedo). But this film pulled me right back in. While there isn’t a huge amount of information available to place it, there is a newspaper where an article states that the baseball season has just opened and that the “three-time champ Yankees take up where they left off – winning.” This would place the events of the film around April 2, 2001. C+ as exact but obviously very hard to place.

Try to think of a film where you really liked the performances, but everything else in the film is cliched garbage. That’s this film. This was on the cusp of Eddie Murphy’s decline in Hollywood, but you still get a pretty solid, funny performance here (minus a couple politically incorrect jokes). Owen Wilson was really on the rise and certainly hits his comedic notes. Their dynamic worked and I think this film would have been successful if it weren’t for the fact that it was terrible. The plot is just bad and proceeds in a mundane, predictable way throughout. It seems almost like they thought “we have two superstars, don’t think too hard about the plot”… which is so on the nose I would actually believe that it happened. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! I Spy is a film that dreams big, planning and yearning for that series, a new Shanghai Noon for us Owen Wilson-heads to revel in. Sadly, the American people are idiots who can’t even bother to appreciate the gifts bestowed upon them. Pshaw, sad. Let’s get into it!

The Good – This is probably one of the later films in the Eddie Murphy filmography where his kind of arrogant charm works. And Owen Wilson is an equal delight. It makes the film go along at a solid enough clip, and Budapest is indeed rather beautiful. And Eddie Murphy boxing is … shockingly believable.

P’s View on the Preview – This was a settings film through and through, half the notes were about how they wanted to film in Budapest because you never see Budapest in films. And this is very Budapest, all the way down to the final scene on the Chain Bridge. The only other thing of interest to me was the television angle, but I didn’t get a chance to do the homework to watch an episode of the old series, so it is basically impossible to comment.

The Bad – Despite all of the good I’ve said thus far I, uh, … did not like this film. It is a zero laugh comedy. It doesn’t really use Famke Janssen well, and the entire thing feels like an episode of a television show, and not a particularly good one. The film just washes off of me like water off of a duck’s back … I’ll probably forget we watched it in a couple of weeks.

Welcome to Earf – I’m still trying to figure out where I want to put this, but since I don’t have much to talk about concerning this film well … at least I’ll explain it. Like Jamie’s Phantom Zone from his Submersion podcast, the intent is to go from I Spy to Here on Earth, but I want to do it from memory, and only going from BMT films. For I Spy you can got to (1) Norbit via Eddie Murphy to (2) Blended via Terry Crews to (3) Jack and Jill via Adam Sandler to (4) 88 Minutes starring Al Pacino to (5) Here on Earth starring Leelee Sobieski. Welcome to Earf I Spy!

The BMT – Blah. The film is basically boring. It has a television angle, a buddy cop angle, Eddie Murphy, it is a ports film, and a war film, and a spy film … and it isn’t really a good-bad movie for any of them. It doesn’t have the legs beyond being yet another piece in the eventual complete Eddie Murphy BMT filmography project.

StreetCreditReport.com – Didn’t get much notice in the 2002 lists, but I did find it on a list of the 30 worst spy films where it got 13th. We need to step up our game because on this excellent list we’ve only seen seven films, which is a shame.

As I said above I didn’t get to the homework (again). I do promise I’ll get better, this month is just a tad bit hectic. Cheerios,

The Sklogs