Hall of Fame Speech #30: The Scarlet Letter

Brief note before we start: This year we got together our sixth (!) class to be inducted into the Smaddies Baddies BMT Hall of Fame. As is typical there will be films we watched five years ago which maybe deserve to be considered the merde de la merde of BMT delight. The previews and speeches will be released leading up to the ninth (eleventh?) Smaddies Baddies for the five films ultimately chosen. Some might say the purpose of watching all genres and sizes of movie is to find another Here On Earth, the perfect BMT film. This film is kind of like Here on Earth, but instead of a young Klein, we have an Oldman. Enjoy!

Hall of Fame Induction Speech for The Scarlet Letter

We don’t typically subscribe to the Scarlet Letter school of bad movies. What I mean is that there is a meta quality to this particular film that carried over from its initial release. Sure it was a very odd adaptation and we got a taste of Gary Oldman’s hot bod, but really it was what happened off screen that stole the show. Demi Moore getting final say on composer, a complete failure at the box office, and an arrogance about the liberal changes made to the classic source material that could have been interpreted as satire of Hollywood itself. That’s what people mostly remembered: Moore saying that no one read the book anyway, so who cared. What they really should have remembered was about five minutes in the middle of the film that will be burned into my memory forever. That’s really why it’s BMT HoF.

So what did I remember from the first time I saw this:

  • I read the book and not to sound like a dumbo high school student but it was lame. Much like Moby Dick, I am aware that it is a classic, but once through was enough for me.
  • A little call back to Color of Night as yes, you definitely get a glimpse of Gary Oldman’s dick. And no that’s not the scene that is burned into my memory forever.
  • Duval was nuts.
  • I remember actually liking Demi Moore… but then again, I’m a Moore apologist.

Because I read the book in prep for watching the film, that certainly stands out in my memory and would probably be what I (and many others) would think is what makes it BMT. I didn’t like the book much and more or less agree with Moore that it’s not particularly cinematic. It feels like a short story stretched four times too long and so not much happens. Necessarily, changes would have to be made not just to make it coherent as a movie, but also for that boffo box office. That’s all fine… but you also don’t have to go out of your way to say that no one reads the book and no one cares about it. It is an American classic. They really teed that one up. Even so, no one would have taken much notice if they didn’t make a series of incredibly strange choices. So really “bad adaptation” is probably second on the list of important BMT aspects of the film. And spoiler alert, Demi Moore isn’t even on the list.   

So how did the rewatch go? There are three specific things I need to talk about in regards to this film, so pretty good sign. I’ll start off with the obvious one: Gary Oldman’s dick. It is certainly there, but really the whole scene of Oldman frolicing in the forest spring is just an amuse-bouche to the more elaborate sex scene that comes a bit later. It definitely had an outsized place in my mind given that it really is just a glimpse and otherwise unnotable. It does  introduce us to one of the first strange and off putting choices they make in the film. There is this little red bird that flits about whenever Demi Moore is getting herself into some steamy trouble and I really can’t say what it’s symbolic of. Are birds some symbol for forbidden lust? Does the bird represent the wild, untamed spirit of Moore that can’t be contained by Puritan Massachusetts? I can’t say. It feels more like the bird is a symbol for symbols that appear in films. 

The more notable strange and off putting choice is the decision to change the film into some kind of romance-action film involving the war with the Native Americans. Metacomet is a character in this film and it’s all wrapped up in King Phillip’s War. Duval shows up as Roger Prynne, who is captured by the Native Americans but is so savage (read: totally nutso) that they are like “no thank you” and send him right back to the English settlement. This all probably would have been forgiven as just some interesting footnote to the film given that it gives some context and structure to a hard to adapt book… oh, except that they also changed the ending where Dimmesdale dies having been eaten away by shame. Instead Hester and Dimmesdale survive the attack and leave the colony to raise their child together and be in love forever and smooch each other for hours. Even if you didn’t read the novel you get the sense that it can’t possibly be accurate. Doesn’t make much sense as a morality tale about shame if they live happily ever after. It is crazy.   

Nothing can be crazier than changing the ending to an American Classic that subverts the original intentions of the novel, right? Wrong. If you’ve never watched the sex scene from The Scarlet Letter run (don’t walk) to the nearest local cinema and demand they show it to you. I know that’s not how it works, but it should. Here is a simple list of the aspects of this scene: 1. Hester is told that her husband has probably died. 2. Hester and Dimmesdale immediately go out to the barn for some canoodling. 3. Hester’s servant girl, Mituba, intrigued by the barn sexy time, opens the door to the house and the red bird of lust flies in. 4. The bird flies near a candle and basically is like “yo, you know what to do.” 5. Normal Hester/Dimmesdale sex scene intermixed with Mituba preparing for a bath while staring at the bird. 6. Hester and Dimmesdale literally have sex in a pile of grain. 7. Mituba used the candle in the bath (if you know what I mean) and looks at the bird, waggles her eyebrows, and is basically like “get a load of this.” 8. Grain intermixed with climax. 9. Mituba releases the bird out the window after giving it a kiss. I just listed nine things that last five minutes and maybe twenty seconds of it isn’t weird. Everything else is so weird that you wonder if you are peering into the director’s own fantasies. It is nothing less than uncomfortable. The fact that they allegedly thought they were making a sexy sex scene and produced that is scary. True satire. Welcome to the Hall of Fame, The Scarlet Letter.

Hall of Fame Speech #29: The Fog (2005)

Brief note before we start: This year we got together our sixth (!) class to be inducted into the Smaddies Baddies BMT Hall of Fame. As is typical there will be films we watched five years ago which maybe deserve to be considered the merde de la merde of BMT delight. The previews and speeches will be released leading up to the ninth (eleventh?) Smaddies Baddies for the five films ultimately chosen. Some might say the purpose of watching all genres and sizes of movie is to find another Here On Earth, the perfect BMT film. This film is kind of like Here on Earth, except instead of the innocence of first love, we have Maggie Grace making out hard with a ghost. Enjoy!

Hall of Fame Induction Speech for The Fog (2005)

John Carpenter has it all. He has a BMT legend in Ghost of Mars. He has an iconic series that has spawned numerous BMT squeakquels in Halloween. And now he has a remake of The Fog in the Hall of Fame. But this really isn’t about the original. It is here on its own merits, damn it! This movie is trash through and through. One of the worst things ever put to screen. So bad that at times you wonder if aliens made it. Scenes occur that are so nonsensical that you can’t tell if it’s an issue with writing, directing, editing, or the concept of cinema. It makes you question art. It’s fantastic. 

So what did I remember from the first time I saw this:

  • I actually remember liking the original quite a bit (I was wrong)
  • It felt like the pinnacle of 2000’s horror, which is to say the absolute dregs of the remake phase… So maybe this saved horror by being so bad that people rethought what horror could be?
  • Maggie Grace shows why she is one of the queens of BMT.
  • Nice setting on an imaginary island off the coast of Oregon.

If I was forced to guess what the most important thing about this film was prior to the rewatch I would have guessed the significant drop in quality from the original to the remake. This turned out to be wrong. I rewatched both and the original is just OK really, other than being a showcase for Carpenter’s directing and choice of scenery. The real star here is the narrative choices made by director Rupert Wainwright, which at best makes no sense and at worst has Maggie Grace making out with a ghost and then smirking at everyone like “Yeah, I just made out with this hunky ghost. Jealous much.” It’s a masterpiece of BMT cinema that combines some of my favorite things: Maggie Grace acting, total nonsense, and ghosts. So let’s really dive in.  

So how did the rewatch go? I think this might be the greatest rise in a BMT HoF film from before to after a rewatch. I came in expecting a bad film (both me and Patrick hated it as I recalled), but nothing could prepare me for some of the scenes I got to bear witness. Just off the top of my head I can specifically remember five separate instances of laughing out loud as I was baffled and delighted by what was occurring on screen. Let me recount them:

  1. Our boy Spooner brings two ladies out on the water for some sexy time and we are treated to a hilariously 2000’s Girls Gone Wild type dance party which is basically just him trying to get them to take off their shirts while he records them on camera. It’s actually kinda sad how lame it is.
  2. A guy finds a rope in the sand, follows it into the sea while wrapping it around himself, he eventually finds himself out in some choppy waters, he panics and proceeds to drown… all this occurs for reasons that escape me.
  3. Maggie Grace is told to keep Spooner’s camera safe as it might contain footage to prove he’s innocent of murder (seems important). While carrying the camera over a small body of water she randomly falls in, drops the camera, gets all tied up in a net (which she thinks is trying to purposefully kill her), and then while climbing out stumbles upon a hiding place for an old, old diary. After all this she gets annoyed several times when people express some skepticism that the fishing net was actually trying to kill her.
  4. Maggie Grace is reading from the old, old diary during which the audience is treated to a flashback. This flashback is rudely interrupted when Nick Castle nearly crashes his car because he is so engrossed in the story. We then smash cut and only later do they finish the story… you know, for safety.
  5. Maggie Grace, feeling the inexorable draw of the ghosts walks up to their leader and he grabs her and smooches her and you see her being like “Oh, gross a ghost,” and then she’s like “Oh wait, I’m kinda digging this sexy ghost,” and then she becomes a ghost. When Nick shows up she’s basically like, “check out my hunky ghost bf. Pretty great right?” and then all the ghosts disappear and the film ends. WHAT?!

Those are all the morsels of stew meat for the big ol’ gumbo of trash that surrounds it. So one second you are laughing the next you are crying. The bad parts are really bad, the BMT parts are really BMT, and the good parts don’t exist. For real, I do not remember a single redeeming thing that occurred in the entire film. It is horrible from start to finish and it’s astonishing that anyone could make something so perfect in its terribleness. We joke at the top about how every film is our pursuit of the next Here on Earth (even a tired old horror remake). But I do think this fits nicely with Here on Earth in that it’s the type of film I’d get people to watch being like “We gotta watch The Fog.” Then, as they sat in stoney silence, I would chuckle along and be like “Right, wasn’t that so funny and crazy?” and they’d wonder why I’m so tickled by Maggie Grace getting tangled in a net.

What they wouldn’t question was why we thought the ending was so ludicrous. Maggie Grace sacrificing herself to save the town is pretty typical stuff. That sacrifice involving getting frenched by the ghost king seems like we are getting somewhere interesting, tell me more. Her becoming the ghost wife of the ghost king and all the other ghosts seeming satisfied with the arrangement is where we’ve struck gold. Now all they need is the novelization to give us a postscript where Maggie Grace and her ghost beau are looking to have a child but are having some trouble conceiving (cause they are ghosts). It’s an emotional family drama that teaches you to love again. Speaking of which, rewatching The Fog also taught me how to love again… specifically The Fog. Welcome to the Hall of Fame, The Fog.

Hall of Fame Speech #27: Hitman: Agent 47

Brief note before we start: This year we got together our sixth (!) class to be inducted into the Smaddies Baddies BMT Hall of Fame. As is typical there will be films we watched five years ago which maybe deserve to be considered the merde de la merde of BMT delight. The previews and speeches will be released leading up to the ninth (eleventh?) Smaddies Baddies for the five films ultimately chosen. Some might say the purpose of watching all genres and sizes of movie is to find another Here On Earth, the perfect BMT film. This film is kind of like Here on Earth, except instead of Chris Klein smooching Leelee Sobieski, it is bad guys’ bodies falling three stories and smooching banisters. Enjoy!

Hall of Fame Induction Speech for Hitman: Agent 47

Every year we choose six films for potential induction to the Hall of Fame, but two of them battle it out to get the fifth spot. This year that contest was between The Avengers (1998) and Hitman: Agent 47. And the winner this year was Hitman: Bodies Hitting Banisters. It isn’t uncommon that we induct a film where I can’t remember a thing about it prior to the review. This time, there is probably a reason for it: this was only our fourth BMT Live! ever. So naturally the only thing I could remember was being desperately trapped in a theater watching multiple bad guys’ falling three stories and hitting banisters. But trust me, there is a lot more to it than that.

It has been five years since we watched the film. But what do I remember?

  • What? I literally just told you that: bodies hitting banisters! But because of my lapse in memory I had to cheat a bit and look at an old recap for the rest of it.
  • I distinctly remember that my recap was all about how unpleasant the experience of watching bodies falling multiple stories onto banisters which is why I mentioned it like five times so far.
  • It was BMT Live! before BMT Live! We wouldn’t officially start the category until a year later, and so it was actually only our fourth film we watched in theaters for BMT.
  • And in Jamie’s showing half the theater walked out (not joking).
  • I remember it is globetrotting and ends in Singapore in that beautiful public garden.
  • It was also a rare appearance of the BMT:CSI:SVU (we’re the special victims). Mostly to note the film’s bizarre marketing campaign.

So which do I think is the most important? Prior to viewing I was convinced that the key was going to be the combination of how unpleasant it was and it being a BMT Live! I thought that if it were just a regular BMT I would have half-watched it and been like “blah”. It definitely seemed to represent the unpleasantly violent action films of the 2010s combined with that trapped animal feeling of BMT Live! As I desperately attempted to gnaw my own foot off to escape the trap that is BMT alas, rules rules rules. There was nothing to be done but bear it and then induct it into the Hall of Fame, right?

But really it is one of the last bastions of really really terrible directing and also what I ultimately described as being “aggressively adapted”. For a video game film it could actually be the worst adaptation ever. Hitman where Agent 47 don’t give a fuck and just murders people with helicopters? That doesn’t sound right. At least Super Mario Bros. was interesting. This managed to be unpleasantly violent, jokey, nonsensical, and plotless. Truely a quadruple threat.

How did the rewatch go? Way better than I expected. I was convinced this was going to lose handily to The Avengers (1998), but that was a boring nothing film. This? This is genuinely the worst video game adaptation ever and oddly entertaining in its own way. Overly violent, a slap in the face to established lore, horrible direction, a British hitman who is exclusively interacting with Europeans but puts on a fake American accent despite the video game character being voiced by a South African. Like … what?! It apparently is cobbled together from a number of the Hitman games, but you can hardly tell, it just seems like they went with Female Hitman and left it at that.

And of course bodies hitting banisters. They really one-two punch you early and knock you back on your heels. Meanwhile they are cracking jokes for the last two-thirds of the film. The best part? I couldn’t even tell they were jokes. I could only tell because Jamie wrote in his recap back in the day that the movie was overflowing with jokes. And then I realized that when Hitman deadpans: “Moths. Italian wool, they love it.” That is meant to be a joke. So let’s see. Overly violent film that could only be tolerated by Hostel fans … and also a jokey script that would put even Marvel to shame. A stunning decision by a director who appears to have been plucked off the street to make a giant studio film.

Every year I must remind our final inductee that there is no shame in getting that final fifth spot. Quite the opposite. You took on a legendary film in The Avengers (1998) and took it down by being an over the top disasterpiece … but who am I really kidding? It is all about ‘dem bodies hitting banisters babyyyyyyyyyyyy. Welcome to the Hall of Fame Hitman: Agent 47.

Hall of Fame Speech #26: White Chicks

Brief note before we start: This year we got together our sixth (!) class to be inducted into the Smaddies Baddies BMT Hall of Fame. As is typical there will be films we watched five years ago which maybe deserve to be considered the merde de la merde of BMT delight. The previews and speeches will be released leading up to the ninth (eleventh?) Smaddies Baddies for the five films ultimately chosen. Some might say the purpose of watching all genres and sizes of movie is to find another Here On Earth, the perfect BMT film. Well guess what Here on Earth isn’t? A monster film. They look like monsters! Enjoy!

Hall of Fame Induction Speech for White Chicks

There are some moments within BMT whereby a film’s legacy is cemented for all of time. Perhaps Billy Zane randomly mentions that he really wants to go to fashion week. Perhaps a martian zombie screams BANANAS right into our delighted faces. Perhaps an off screen extra goes “He got a guuuuuuuuuun” in an Al Pacino laugh-a-minute thriller. But on one very rare occasion it wasn’t what someone said … it just is how they were. The Wayans brothers went into the makeup studio to meticulously prepare for their surely-to-be-a-smash-hit comedy, looked the artist directly in the eye and said “We aren’t going for any Oscars today … make us look like monsters.” And that is why White Chicks deserved consideration (although it is more like a coronation) for the BMT Hall of Fame.

It has been five years since we watched the film. We’ve watched many a Wayans productions, but this is still the creme de la creme. But what do I remember?

  • They look like monsters! You can’t stop saying it throughout the film. They look like monsters! That’s the thing. Norbit this ain’t. Despite Norbit being a profoundly disturbing “comedy” it very much deserved its Oscar nomination for the abomination that is Rasputia. This? The makeup is ironic, right? They intentionally look like terrifying monsters … right?
  • Characters within the film have met the two people that the Wayans are replacing and they are like “you know what … nailed it, carbon copy of the two people I remember meeting. Definitely not men dressed up as monster versions of those people.” The film manages to sit right in that sweet spot of irony. They get very close to the idea that they know that the makeup looks absurd, but that it is 100% identical versions of the people they are replacing. In a way it is a very Bad Movie Twins storyline. Does the irony lessen the appeal as a bad movie? Nope, because they look like monsters.
  • I do vaguely remember there being a few good parts of the film, like Terry Crews is quite good. I remember he falls in love with one of the Wayans dressed as a monster … er, I mean as a young lady.
  • I also remember there is also rape storylines and gay panic involved with his character as well, so we have that to look forward to I suppose …

So which do I think is the most important? Throughout BMT you can spot the moments where madmen were given free rein to do as they please. Sandler with Jack and Jill, Murphy with Norbit, Travolta with Battlefield Earth. The moments where the power of their stardom crosses with greedy lunatics, and they go one step too far and create a masterpiece. The film where things will wane for a bit and you’ll think that the fire is dead and then BOOM, Rasputia is intentionally trying to kill a dog, or Jill is getting foot long hot dogs sent to her by Al Pacino. So perhaps that is why we are inducting this film into the Hall of Fame of all the possible Wayans films …

Who am I kidding: THEY LOOK LIKE MONSTERS!

Boom! Much like any shoe-in Hall of Fame candidate it is all about the sound clip, babyyyyyyyyyyyyy. Uh … “Billy Zane just wants to go to fashion week”? That may have single handedly propelled The Roommate into the Hall of Fame, but “They Look Like Monsters” is like that on steroids. We couldn’t stop saying it. They look like monsters! THEY LOOK LIKE MONSTERS! The comedy would wane, and Terry Crews’s character would fart again, and you’d be like “alright maybe I’m tired of this.” And then blam! Monster face. And they reel you back in. Racist characters making me sad? Monster face! Storyline about rape resulting in gay panic? Monster face! Misogynistic harpy wife character? Monster face!! All of these terrible things just wick off of me in the face of monster face. Say it with me now: They look like Monsters!

How did the rewatch go? Fuggedaboutit, they still look like monsters!!

But first, let’s go through some of the things I forgot. I forgot that there is, somehow, a whole storyline involving one of the Wayans getting in and out of monster makeup to woo a reporter (?) who is on vacation in the Hamptons, and just so happens to have broken some story about the bad guys’ money laundering scheme (?) … I literally just totally forgot the B plot! I forgot the dance sequence!! You heard that right, there is a full blown dance sequence in a club. Why? Uh, I honestly don’t know, it seems like it is important to whatever is happening since I think it gets the Wayans into a fashion show (?) after they break dance (?!). And then I forgot there are two other FBI agents who just play a dumb “who would you rather have sex with” game and one of them is Lochlyn Munro.

But besides that I pretty much nailed it. Well … there was only one thing to nail. They look like monsters. While watching the film it becomes a compulsion. The camera will switch to a Wayans in makeup making a weird face and my fingers would unconsciously type THEY LOOK LIKE MONSTERS. I took three pages of notes (for a rewatch!) and a good third of them are just me writing THEY LOOK LIKE MONSTERS over and over. It is a coping mechanism, a way for my brain to reconcile the impossibility of six foot tall monsters in pancake white makeup becoming the bee’s knees of Hamptons high society. And that’s the key. A quintessential Wayan brothers comedy with the They Look Like Monsters meme is an immediate BMT Hall of Fame lock. We knew this was in the Hall of Fame the instant we watched it. I literally called the recap the “White Chicks Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.” The instant They Look Like Monsters was written into the recap the deal was sealed. Welcome to the Hall of Fame White Chicks. May god have mercy on our souls.

Hall of Fame Speech #25: Dungeons & Dragons

Brief note before we start: This year we got together our fifth (!) class to be inducted into the Smaddies Baddies BMT Hall of Fame. At the time these films are inducted it will be officially 10 years since we started BMT! That’s absurd. But as is typical there will be films we watch five years ago which maybe deserve to be considered the merde de la merde of BMT delight. The previews and speeches will be released leading up to the eighth (tenth?) Smaddies Baddies for the five films ultimately chosen. Some might say the purpose of watching all genres and sizes of movie is to find another Here On Earth, the perfect BMT film. While Dungeons & Dragons isn’t Here on Earth, it is a gritty buddy cop film about Det. Dungeons, a laced up wall street type cop, who gets teamed up with Det. Dragons, a rogue scofflaw who doesn’t play by the rulezzz…. Alright, so I don’t remember much from this film, but trust me it’s great. Enjoy!

Hall of Fame Induction Speech for Dungeons & Dragons

Full disclosure, Dungeons & Dragons barely made the HoF. In fact I initially watched Stone Cold starring Brian Bosworth for this spot and finding myself more disturbed than thrilled, I turned to Dungeons & Dragons and my god… what a tragic mistake it would have been if this film had not made it. This isn’t just an HoF film, it is clearly one of the best films we’ve ever watched for BMT. It’s a HoF of HoF. No moment is not hilarious and it falls apart so profoundly by the end that it’s almost indescribable. I actually came very close to watching it again this weekend. I’m saying this right now: I will own this film. In some form I must be able to watch parts of this film at the push of a button. The only mystery left is how it’s possible I was ever on the fence about it.

It has been five years since we watched the film. But what did I remember?

  • Nothing! Alright, not nothing, but close to it. It’s the only explanation for why my memory of it was only great instead of amazing when we were considering nominees for this class.
  • One aspect I did remember was the monosklogs in the middle. At the time of first viewing we were all about dem sweet monosklogs and this does give you a doozy as a couple of the younger actors in the cast go back and forth yelling at each other on the verge of tears. It’s Aaaactingggg! And I loved it.
  • I vaguely remembered the ending taking place on a computer generated tower and it being real dumb. I’d say my memory was accurate except it totally undersells the climax of the film.
  • Marlon Wayans dies and he has a funny death scene and remember during my first viewing being like “that’s weird, you’d think of all the people they’d want to keep around for a potential franchise it would have been him” and then I thought how funny it would be if they just brought him back to life at the end and he was like “what up?”… and then it happens.

So I guess the point of my introduction is that nothing that I remembered about the film is actually the most important. I didn’t really remember what ended up being my favorite aspects of the rewatch. This could be a good sign or a bad sign. On the good side it means that there was so much HoF goodness in this film that I forgot more than I remembered and it still made the HoF. On the bad side it tells you the faults of memory. Could there be other HoF gems we are overlooking? Maybe, and so that’s why we are rewatching every BMT film starting today… JK (or am I?). But if I had to choose a favorite from the things I did remember it would be the monosklog as that at least still was something beautiful to behold. But, boy… this film had a lot to offer in the many things that I somehow forgot.

The film can be summed up in this way: everything that comes before the climax of the film and the climax of the film. Before the climax of the film I was a totally different person. I was a person that appreciated the earnest monosklogging of our young heroes. I enjoyed Wayans joking around with stupid looking props and Bruce Payne’s inexplicable silver lipstick. I enjoyed the tragic death of Wayans’ character even though I knew they would just bring him back in the same old stupid twist ending that I remembered from the first viewing. I really really enjoyed the double MacGuffin of the Rod of Savrille and the Eye of the Dragon (and no I didn’t just make that up). 

In fact, I think that’s the one pre-climax thing I would put a cut above the rest: the MacGuffin game is on point. The Rod of Savrille… that shit’s dumb. Like real dumb. Almost to the point of not believing that they didn’t know how dumb it was. And the rod even looks dumb. It’s perfect. A perfect MacGuffin. And all that is hall of fame worthy. It is amazing and I laughed and cried (from laughing so much) and learned and lived and loved again. But it pales in comparison to the thunder that is brought in the climax. The climax is one of the best twenty minutes in the history of BMT.

Deep breath. I get dizzy just remembering the climax of the film. Let me set the stage. A large number of golden dragons are attacking Jeremy Irons as he screams in rage about not having the Rod of Savrille (deep breath). The narrative structure of the film is breaking down along with the visual effects. So while the plot is becoming harder to follow, the world starts to melt into a series of shapes and colors. Characters literally spring through wormholes out of nowhere, likely to help edit together disparate scenes in a last ditch effort to get to the end of the film. The queen tells her dragons to stop fighting only to be seen seconds later riding one into battle. Nothing makes sense and Jeremy Irons continues to scream, this time in glee cause he’s now clutching the Rod of Savrille (deep breath). More characters jump through wormholes and there is lightning and dragons and shapes and colors and Jeremy Irons screaming, this time in terror as the Rod of Savrille is smashed and he’s eaten by a dragon. It is a beautiful expressionistic painting of an ending. It’s not about impressions of a physical world but rather the emotional experience of BMT. 

So in conclusion, while I think it’s easy to say that Dungeons & Dragons fits the all important high fantasy/hard scifi aspect of reach-for-the-stars disaster genre of BMT, home to In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, After Earth, A Sound of Thunder and Battlefield Earth, it’s so much more than just that. It’s almost a combination of all of those films. We have Jeremy Irons one-upping Ray Liotta as he stares through the screen at us, laughing maniacally at both his puny adversaries and our life choices. We have young actors channeling Jaden Smith with all their acting might. We have a man with silver lipstick who looks no less ridiculous than dreadlocked John Travolta. And finally we have a climax worthy of A Sound of Thunder. One that falls apart both visually and narratively to the point where I’m surprised it’s considered a completed film.

So Dungeons & Dragons, I’m sorry we came so close to the ultimate insult of not including you in the HoF in the first place. You are a worthy member of a stellar class that will bring us joy for years to come. In particular me… cause I will own this film… and I’ll watch it… a lot. Welcome to the Hall of Fame, Dungeons & Dragons.

Hall of Fame Speech #24: Endless Love (2014)

Brief note before we start: This year we got together our fifth (!) class to be inducted into the Smaddies Baddies BMT Hall of Fame. At the time these films are inducted it will be officially 10 years since we started BMT! That’s absurd. But as is typical there will be films we watch five years ago which maybe deserve to be considered the merde de la merde of BMT delight. The previews and speeches will be released leading up to the eighth (tenth?) Smaddies Baddies for the five films ultimately chosen. Some might say the purpose of watching all genres and sizes of movie is to find another Here On Earth, the perfect BMT film. Well, we might just have found the sequel, Here on Earth 2: Endless Lurv. Enjoy!

Hall of Fame Induction Speech for Endless Love (2014)

Earlier this week I was shaken to my core. Because I prepared the preview for this film and I just couldn’t quite figure out how we ended up picking it as a Hall of Fame candidate. All the reviews say it is boring. Even our own reviews from five years ago say the movie is worthless if you don’t watch the original film. I was preparing for the worst: a realization that we made a horrible mistake and would have to go and find another candidate for the Hall of Fame. But then … I watched the film. And I saw Alex Pettyfer and a bunch of other British people trying to specifically not do a southern accent in a film set in Georgia and I realized that we didn’t make a mistake. No, we merely matured into the correct and indisputable BMT opinions: this is a Hall of Fame film, you just need to know where to look.

It has been five years since we watched the film. But what did I remember?

  • Right there up front. Much like Billy Zane’s insatiable desire to go to Fashion Week, this film ended up becoming something of a catchphrase for BMT. Endless Lurv, always stylized as Luuuuuuuuuuuuuuurv, hit us right at the perfect moment where we were becoming more rigorous in our BMT reporting and definitely watching the 1981 film as a bonus. I think Jamie even read the book? The whole thing was a new paradigm for BMT and well well worth it.
  • The more I think about it and the endless blandness of Endless Love (2014) I can’t help but think we’ve made a mistake … but no, that can’t be possible, we never make mistakes. Instead, I have to assume that this film is basically Here on Earth 2.
  • And then I realized … wait, is Bruce Greenwood, BMT legend, the father of the leading women in both Here on Earth and Endless Love (2014)? Yes, he indeed plays both Earl Cavanaugh and Hugh Butterfield. Now those are some names!
  • And the film stars Alex Pettyfer of Beastly fame. This year’s class is definitely very actor driven. He’s an interesting actor just in that we watched all of his leading man BMT films at a good clip, Beastly in 2011, I Am Number Four in 2013, and then this in 2015. He hasn’t been in another (although he has a small role in In Time with JT, so we can still get our BMT fix if we wanted).

So which do I think is the most important? I think there is only one thing that could possibly be important here and that is just how much it evokes the feeling of Here on Earth. That combination of “I am not the audience of this film”, and “this film is amusingly cheesy” and “I kind of dig this in the same way I did The O.C. except The O.C. is good, fight me IRL.” If there is even the tiniest nugget of that in the film it will be well worth the rewatch. There is the outside shot that our enjoyment was completely driven by Endless Love (1981) and how unabashedly crazy that film is as well, so I might have to watch that again.

The genre of the film might as well be called Here on Earth, and it is an important micro-genre for BMT history. There are only so many hits. Here on Earth, of course, but this seems like it definitely was a hit, and I would argue that Midnight Sun and After both hit just the right note of teen melodrama to be an incredibly fun ride. Initially when looking through the preview a bit I had a moment of wondering whether I would watch this film and be sad realizing that we had overblown how good it is. Now I’m getting excited thinking of all the teen romance films we’ve watched and how good most of them are.

How did the rewatch go? Wonderfully. As Alex Pettyfer’s generic American accent washed over me and held me close I knew I was home. Is this Here on Earth? No, primarily because unlike that film the kids somehow aren’t the main characters. Instead, the main character is Bruce Greenwood. Come for the Alex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde teen romance, and stay for Bruce Greenwood being the biggest dick in the universe 100% of the time. There isn’t even a single moment where Bruce Greenwood isn’t a colossal dick to Alex Pettyfer. Alex Pettyfer, who, by the way, is the nicest, most down to earth teenager on the planet in this film. Here’s my impression of some dialogue:

Alex Pettyfer: “Hi, Mr. Butterfield. I just really appreciate you having me over to your house. I just want your daughter to have a good summer before going off to college, and gee, I sure do like her ever so much!”

Bruce Greenwood: “You got some goddamn nerve breaking up my family like this! I will ruin you and your father’s lives for what you’ve done.”

Alex Pettyfer: “Say whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa?”

He is one bad sad dad.

In the original recap for this film (which was email-only at the time, we were technological marvels) I stated matter of factly that you could not enjoy Endless Love (2014) without watching Endless Love (1981). I think as my BMT skillz have matured I disagree with that, there is plenty to enjoy from the 2014 film (see below). But the original certainly makes the 2014 film more confounding. You see, the original and the book are about obsessive love between two teenagers. This … is about just teenage love. Run of the mill teenage love, and tragedy, and … that’s it. I will declare this now: this is the worst adaptation of a book ever created. And that is hard to know without seeing the original which, it turns out, did an okay job at adapting the book. So it wasn’t impossible to adapt, instead the writers took a look at the plot and decided “but what if it was The O.C. instead?” Obviously, being the worst book adaptation of all time is some serious street cred.

But this film stands on its own, outside of the source material and original film, via a multitude of amusing little things you’d only really notice after multiple viewings. The fact that the main cast is basically all British and are constantly struggling to keep their non-southern American accents together. The fact that this film is the second BMT film in which Alex Pettyfer breaks into a zoo (I rediscovered that fact and now feel ashamed for not considering Beastly for the Hall of Fame as well). And finally, possibly the funniest prop in the history of filmmaking, the mugshot of the very obviously 25 year old Alex Pettyfer where it states matter of factly “age: 14” … if I saw a 14 year old who looked like this I would flip out, my mind would break. It makes no goddamn sense!

So no, Endless Love (2014) isn’t Here on Earth 2. But nothing can be. Instead it is maybe the most confounding adaptation of a book ever created, with the biggest dick of a dad ever put to film, and Alex Pettyfer looking like a 25 year old cross fit coach on the worst prop in movie history. Welcome to the Hall of Fame Endless Love (2014).

Hall of Fame Speech #22: The Legend of Hercules

Brief note before we start: This year we got together our fifth (!) class to be inducted into the Smaddies Baddies BMT Hall of Fame. At the time these films are inducted it will be officially 10 years since we started BMT! That’s absurd. But as is typical there will be films we watch five years ago which maybe deserve to be considered the merde de la merde of BMT delight. The previews and speeches will be released leading up to the eighth (tenth?) Smaddies Baddies for the five films ultimately chosen. Some might say the purpose of watching all genres and sizes of movie is to find another Here On Earth, the perfect BMT film. Welp, we definitely did that with The Legend of Hercules. I mean … Scott Adkins yelling with a beard in a genre of film right? Enjoy!

Hall of Fame Induction Speech for The Legend of Hercules

There appeared to be a moment in 2014 where film producers all watched Gladiator and were like “wait a second, we haven’t had a sword and sandals film for ages! Time to rake in dem awards and fat stacks!” Well, one of those producers actually wanted to just pay bad actors to do it, skip the awards, and go straight to fat stacks. And he got neither, and the sword and sandals genre literally died. Here it is, the amazing untold story of how The Legend of Hercules (probably) killed the sword and sandals genre. And if there is any reason to induct a film into the Hall of Fame, killing an entire genre is a pretty good one.

It has been five years since we watched the film. But what do I remember?

  • Huh … well there were certainly shirtless men in this film. A lot of them. All of the time. It is actually all they really talk about in the IMDb notes as well which is wild. I’m not joking, go and check it out, it is as if all of the notes were transcribed from a single Men’s Fitness interview with the cast.
  • Kellen Lutz, let’s really get into this. Kellen Lutz was in the Twilight films. And really not much else that would have been on our radar. He was then, randomly, in A Warrior’s Heart, a film I’ve never seen, but, for some reason, think about a lot. And then, further out of nowhere, he gets a starring role in this and Expendables 3 … say what? I actually can’t quite reason as to why we became moderately obsessed with him. After Expendables 3 his career has effectively been dead beyond a weird stint as the host of the game show Bullseye, and a now starring role in the FBI spin-off series FBI: Most Wanted. So why? Why did Kellen Lutz of all people get this role? His outstanding physique and Renny Harlin definitely being a weirdo about it.
  • The set pieces and action were just very very odd if I recall. A little like Game of Thrones, in that when they had to film a really big battle they’d film a bit against a wall with maybe like 4 people running around and then make it dark and fill it with smoke and the director would squint a bit and be like “alright, if we add a bunch of yelling and slow motion I think we can convinced people that there is a big battle going on and not run out of money”.
  • And this is an absolutely classic: “I’m hear to watch two things: Kellen Lutz’s outstanding physique. And Scott Adkins’ outstanding physique … what’s this now, a love story?” film. It is a huuuuuuge part of the film, arguably the entire film, and yet it is also the absolute last thing I want to see while watching Hercules run around. Where are the tasks goddamnit!?

The most important has to be Kellen Lutz right? If Kellen Lutz (or, let’s be honest, Jai Courtney) wasn’t in the leading role we probably wouldn’t have watched the film and we certainly wouldn’t be inducting it in the Hall of Fame now. It is possibly one of the last bastions of “this random guy who was barely in this huge teen series has a pretty good bod … let’s throw a flier out there to see if people will go and see a film that literally only stars him”. The answer is and always has been “nope”, and 2014 feels like just about the last year where something like this would actually be put into theaters instead of dumped as an Amazon Original or something.

And that is basically the same story with the genre. This and the Ben Hur remake from 2016 are two of the last true blue sword and sandals films I can think of with major theatrical releases. Turns out that you can get better and cheaper action when you don’t force yourself into a bunch of people wearing costumes and using spears and swords. Who knew? I actually just looked up 2014 for sword and sandal: Pompeii, this, Noah, Exodus, 300: Rise of an Empire, and the other Hercules … those are all huge disasters in one way or another! The genre is absolutely dead in the water after that.

You know what? I didn’t even know the thing about the genre before writing this paragraph, but I would argue that of those this is definitely the Sword and Sandal film I would want in the Hall of Fame. Right there, that’s the argument for why it deserves an induction. And then my god! It has Kellen Lutz as well? Buckle up, because this is going to be quite a rewatch.

How did the rewatch go? After describing Kellen Lutz and sword and sandals for like six paragraphs I turn on the film and it looks like absolute dog shit. It might genuinely be the ugliest film with some of the worst CGI I have ever seen. How much of that is because it was filmed in 3D and I was watching in 2D? A bit. For sure, that is part of it. But it is just astonishingly poor quality.

And then the love story is more than I even remembered. It is the entire film. There is no film without the love story, it is the A-story of this Scott Adkins / Kellen Lutz sword and sandals action film! It is so much of the film that Kellen Lutz spends what appears to be an afternoon as a slave before being freed to go back to pining over his lost love! It is at most a month.

The film is crazy, there are four different reasons to induct it into the Hall of Fame. One, it looks like crap. Two, it is a quintessential “whoops we accidentally made an action film into a rom-dram, sorry about that” film. Three, it killed an entire genre of film. And four, it stars Kellen Lutz. What the absolute hell is this thing? Where did it come from? Who is it for? It isn’t even that entertaining to watch, it is just more that scientists should study it to figure out how and why it was created in the first place.

I’ve gone on too long, but while writing this I think I went a little crazy thinking about the existence of this film and what it means for the existence of humanity itself. Welcome to the Hall of Fame The Legend of Hercules. May god have mercy on your soul.

Hall of Fame Speech #20: Tango & Cash

Brief note before we start: last July we got together yet again and worked out a fourth class to be inducted into the Smaddies Baddies BMT Hall of Fame. It has been nearly a decade since we started BMT and as usual the films from more than five years ago might just deserve a rewatch, a reassessment, and a recap. The previews and speeches will be released leading up to the seventh (ninth?) Smaddies Baddies for the five films chosen. Tango & Cash (or is it Rich & Poe?) check off all the boxes: Sly Stallone, Sly Stallone, and Sly Stallone. Enjoy!

Hall of Fame Induction Speech for Tango & Cash

There is a term in music for when an artist can, professionally, do no wrong. Songs that have no business even getting airplay just magically work and hit number one, and any project, no matter how vain, is easily launched. It is called the Imperial Period. Tango & Cash is right at the end of Stallone’s Imperial Period, falling among the entire Rambo franchise, the last three Rocky films, and other classics such as Over the Top and Cobra. This is actually an odd film in BMT lore. Patrick was off on a holiday, but had randomly watched this film previously. At that time in BMT history we were, for some reason, under the impression that we would not rewatch films for BMT. But Patrick’s absence lent us an opportunity. He enjoyed the insanity of the film so much he insisted that I watch the film to fill in the gap. And thus, a legend was made. Let’s get into it.

It has been five years since we watched the film. But what do I remember?

  • That it’s basically a spoof of action films but somehow wasn’t meant to be.
  • That it is filled with one-liners that mostly don’t make sense
  • Bromance to the max with penis jokes, cross-dressing, Stallone and Russell showering together, and homophobic jokes galore.
  • One of the greatest villains of all time with Jack Palance, who has an office with a literal hall of mirrors and mouse mazes built into it. He’s an insane person.
  • We made our Bad Movie Twins alter egos, Rich and Poe, based almost entirely on Tango and Cash.

So which do I think is the most important? Practically speaking the last point is the biggest. When writing the Bad Movie Twins storyline I spend a lot of time pondering WWT&CD? Would they buck the rulez? Yes. Would they pound some skulls for justice? Yes. Would they bro hug one minute and then slay the ladies with their shredded physiques? Yes, yes, yes. But, unfortunately, I also recognize that the influence on our own very specific disease is not necessarily the point of the Hall of Fame. So begrudgingly I’ll have to recognize that the fact that a film made entirely unironically is somehow still the best spoof of the 80’s action genre ever made is a crowning achievement for any aspiring BMT Hall of Fame candidate.

How did the rewatch go? I think every time I watch this film (and I watch this film not infrequently outside of the scope of BMT) it gets better. I pick up a new little nugget each time. For example I had forgotten that when we are introduced to Rich… I mean, Cash… he chases a bad guy through a parking garage and we are treated to a brief glimpse of classic 80’s nudity where a couple have decided to engage in sexual intercourse in said parking garage. This is obviously insane and fits right in with the idea that this film is actually a spoof… but it’s not. I also think that you can probably watch the film a thousand times and never really get the full picture of Jack Palance’s plan to frame Tango and Cash. I mean, Tango is given the information about the bust from the police chief himself. And we are supposed to believe that he would then let himself get caught despite knowing that the police are aware of the entire situation? What, is he dumb? No, obviously not because he wears glasses and trades in the stock market and wears a suit and keeps on correcting people on their eating habits. Clearly he has a big ol’ brain. So don’t even bother thinking about it. It’s nonsense. 

In fact, I think this may be the dumbest movie ever made. A true check-your-brain-at-the-door action fare that would leave you scratching your head raw if you didn’t just throw up your hands from the jump and say “Forget it, Jake. It’s Tango & Cash.” I mean, Jack Palance has an office fit with a House of Mirrors, a mouse maze, and a box filled with mice that people bring over to him to snuggle! Teri Hatcher “plays” electric drums in front of a giant fan while dancing around NOT taking off her clothes and paying customers are going nuts for it! Kurt Russell dresses up like a lady and instead of people being like “Hey that’s Kurt Russell in a dress” they are like “hey hot stuff, hubba hubba.” It’s all insane and you just have to bask in the glory that is almost every second of the film.

I actually think this goes hand in hand with Here on Earth in that it’s incredibly rare for a film to be made unironically and yet still could be considered a spoof of the very genre to which it belongs. They are two shining stars in the constellation we call BMT (and this journey we call life (and this adventure we call BMT4Life)) and for that it not only deserves its spot in the Hall of Fame, but perhaps will someday help define what it is to be BMT for the aliens that arrive to the apocalyptic wasteland that Earth has become. Welcome to the Hall of Fame, Tango & Cash.

Hall of Fame Speech #19: After Earth

Brief note before we start: last July we got together yet again and worked out a fourth class to be inducted into the Smaddies Baddies BMT Hall of Fame. It has been nearly a decade since we started BMT and as usual the films from more than five years ago might just deserve a rewatch, a reassessment, and a recap. The previews and speeches will be released leading up to the seventh (ninth?) Smaddies Baddies for the five films chosen. After Earth is this generation’s Battlefield Earth… you know if John Travolta had used Battlefield Earth as a way to insult his children. Enjoy!

Hall of Fame Induction Speech for After Earth

I wasn’t so sure about After Earth going into the Hall of Fame. Sure I had a grand old time watching Jaden Smith bumble around a CGI forest mumbling his insane futuristic dialogue and making friends with a giant bird, but was that all this was? Just a vehicle for me and Patrick to say “Bird Friend” to each other? While this has brought great joy to our bad movie addled minds, I’m not sure it means the film has proven significant in the history of BMT. But boy howdy was I wrong. Buckle up, cause this is some Operating Thetan Level 8 kind of shit. The truth was revealed. Let’s go!

It has been five years since we watched the film. But what do I remember?

  • Bird Friend, duh. Jaden Smith (aka Kitai Raige) is nearly eaten by a bird, but then tries to help it defend its nest. At the time I remember thinking “it would be hilarious if this bird now comes back and saves Jaden like some Bird Friend”… and then it does!
  • There are a couple super intense Monosklogs in the middle of the film where Will Smith speaks for approximately an hour and then Jaden says some stuff before screaming a line directly into the camera. I remember being startled when Jaden screamed in my face and it was bad.
  • Speaking of bad things, pretty much everything Jaden mumbles throughout the film. He is not only saying futuristic nonsense, but at times it’s like he’s reading a cue card or something. Or like if I was acting in a film, but the film was in French.

So which do I think is the most important? I swear, I thought Bird Friend was the most important coming into the rewatch, which made me wary. I think if I had to choose from the three things after the rewatch I would say that the Monosklogs in the middle are probably the defining feature. They are, no joke, four hours long… fine, that is a joke, but between Will Smith’s and Jaden’s monologues they stretch over five minutes long. That’s not just long, that’s super long. It’s top 100 for most hilarious monologues to perform at an audition. And it would be top 2 if the top 99 places didn’t all go to Vin Diesel’s monologue in The Fast and the Furious. But really, that’s not the most important aspect of the film. The most important aspect wasn’t even one I remembered from the first time I watched the film. So…

How did the rewatch go? This film really surprised me. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by all of the Hall of Fame entries this year, as they’ve all been unique and interesting, but I really did think this one could have dropped off the ballot after rewatching it and finding it lacking. Instead I was stunned at how the story seemed to play with real life in a way that is somewhat uncomfortable. I could talk about Bird Friend (still hilarious). I could talk about the monologue (and I already did). I could talk about Jaden saying the line “my suit turned black. I like it but I think it’s something bad,” like he’s an alien pretending to be a human (he might be). But I can’t stop thinking about the fact that Will Smith got a writing credit on a film whose plot is basically: “You think you’re as good as me, Jaden? Prove it.”

What seemed to have occurred here is that Will Smith wrote a little fable about him and his son. It was about how his son idolizes him and wants to be him, but that they disagree on whether he’s ready to take on that challenge. The moral is supposed to be that they are both proven right: Jaden wasn’t ready, but is able to grow and learn to save the day by taking on that challenge. Satisfied with his writing skillz, Will Smith took off his glasses and said what every parent would, “now we will make this for $130 million.” What’s funny is that if it was a success it would be like “Woah, Will Smith kinda magically willed his son into being a movie star.” But instead it seems like a giant dig at Jaden. The whole beginning comes across as a meta commentary on the film itself: they are on their way to some fun father-son experience but instead disaster strikes and Will Smith breaks his (physical, but also metaphorical) legs and it’s all on Jaden to save the day (i.e. the film). So by being a total disaster, the film comes across like the moral of the story is that Jaden is simply not Will Smith. Oooooooooof.

I think this works nicely with Battlefield Earth in the way that it exemplifies what can happen when an actor who has accumulated a lot of power in Hollywood decides to make something purely for himself. This is a perfect example of a vanity project, where even though the film is ostensibly not about Will Smith… it’s still all about Will Smith. It’s certainly not as ridiculous as Battlefield Earth, but it’s more tragic, I think. Battlefield Earth is just a disaster. After Earth is a psychologically damaging disaster. Welcome to the Hall of Fame After Earth.

After Earth Preview

Brief note before we start: last July we got together yet again and worked out a fourth class to be inducted into the Smaddies Baddies BMT Hall of Fame. It has been nearly a decade since we started BMT and as usual the films from more than five years ago might just deserve a rewatch, a reassessment, and a recap. The previews and speeches will be released leading up to the seventh (ninth?) Smaddies Baddies for the five films chosen. After Earth is this generation’s Battlefield Earth… you know if John Travolta had used Battlefield Earth as a way to insult his children. This is a preview, the hall of fame induction speech will immediately follow. Enjoy!

Generated on: 2020-01-12

After Earth (2013) – BMeTric: 74.9; Notability: 46 

AfterEarthIMDb_BMeT

AfterEarthIMDb_RV

(Exactly the rating I would expect, high fours is just right. The notability is much lower than you would think. I wonder if films starring huge actors tend to have lover notability even if the production is big. Since salaries have to be adjusted to accommodate the star.)

RogerEbert.com – 3.5 stars – “After Earth” is a lovely surprise. This film from producer-costar Will Smith and director M. Night Shyamalan, about a father and son marooned on a hostile future earth, is a moral tale disguised as a sci-fi blockbuster. It’s no classic, but it’s a special movie: spectacular and wise. … “After Earth” carries itself with confidence because it knows what it wants to say, and how to say it. The asteroid storm appears suddenly, as if willed into being by Poseidon stirring a cauldron with his trident. The design of the spaceship would make Odysseus feel at home: the ribs of its hull seem to be made of wood and bone. The skyscrapers on Nova Prime are built from triangular wedges that suggest a schooner’s sails. The warriors fight with blades. Ursa is Latin for bear. Kitai’s leap from a high cliff is a leap of faith. His name is Japanese for “hope.” This movie is a fable. Fables teach.

(Insane review! But I have to respect the legacy of Roger Ebert. He always had an interesting take on blockbusters and films being “good for what they are” and this review for his site basically does just that here. He liked the movie for what it is, ignoring things it didn’t necessarily need to be (well acted with a good story).)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-r9IXze_tPM/

(Looks pretty cool when you put it that way. But we know better, because we’ve seen the glory of this movie. We’ve seen Jaden Smith becoming best friends with a bird.)

Directors – M. Night Shyamalan – (Known For: Split; The Sixth Sense; Unbreakable; Signs; The Village; The Visit; Wide Awake; Future BMT: Glass; BMT: The Last Airbender; After Earth; The Happening; Lady in the Water; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay for The Last Airbender in 2011; Winner for Worst Director, and Worst Supporting Actor for Lady in the Water in 2007; Nominee for Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay for After Earth in 2014; Nominee for Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay for The Happening in 2009; and Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Lady in the Water in 2007; Notes: Has started producing television, which honestly is where I would expect him to end up in a few years. I could see him doing something like Star Trek where you just throw big idea sci-fi at the screen with a medium-to-good hit rate. That genuinely seems missing from television these days.)

Writers – Gary Whitta (screenplay) – (Known For: Rogue One; The Book of Eli; BMT: After Earth; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for After Earth in 2014; Notes: Was an editor of PC Gamer for years.)

M. Night Shyamalan (screenplay) – (Known For: Split; The Sixth Sense; Unbreakable; Signs; The Village; The Visit; Stuart Little; Devil; Wide Awake; Future BMT: Glass; BMT: The Last Airbender; After Earth; The Happening; Lady in the Water; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay for The Last Airbender in 2011; Winner for Worst Director, and Worst Supporting Actor for Lady in the Water in 2007; Nominee for Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay for After Earth in 2014; Nominee for Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay for The Happening in 2009; and Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Lady in the Water in 2007; Notes: The Sixth Sense is one of the most recent films that appear on the AFI Top 100.)

Will Smith (story) – (BMT: After Earth; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Supporting Actor, and Worst Screen Combo for After Earth in 2014; Winner for Worst Original Song, and Worst Screen Couple for Wild Wild West in 2000; and Nominee for Worst Screenplay for After Earth in 2014; Notes: Created the television show All of Us which is nearly all of his writing credits. This is his only feature film credit. Otherwise he has a single story credit for an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.)

Actors – Jaden Smith – (Known For: The Pursuit of Happyness; The Karate Kid; Skate Kitchen; BMT: After Earth; The Day the Earth Stood Still; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Actor, and Worst Screen Combo for After Earth in 2014; Notes: Noted weirdo, and I say that with total affection. He made waves a few years ago with his word-salad ramblings on social media. A rapper who claims he doesn’t see gender … or something like that.)

David Denman – (Known For: Brightburn; Logan Lucky; Power Rangers; 13 Hours; The Replacements; The Gift; Big Fish; Fair Game; Puzzle; The Nines; Smart People; Take; Beneath the Harvest Sky; Future BMT: When a Stranger Calls; Shutter; The Singing Detective; Fanboys; Men, Women & Children; BMT: After Earth; Jobs; Out Cold; Notes: You’d recognize him as Roy from The Office. He went to Juilliard with Alan Tudyk.)

Will Smith – (Known For: Spies in Disguise; Aladdin; Bad Boys; Men in Black; Independence Day; Men in Black 3; I Am Legend; The Pursuit of Happyness; Hitch; Focus; Hancock; I, Robot; Enemy of the State; Concussion; Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues; Ali; Six Degrees of Separation; The Legend of Bagger Vance; Where the Day Takes You; Future BMT: Student of the Year 2; Made in America; Gemini Man; Suicide Squad; Shark Tale; Men in Black II; Bright; Bad Boys II; Collateral Beauty; BMT: After Earth; Wild Wild West; A New York Winter’s Tale; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Supporting Actor, and Worst Screen Combo for After Earth in 2014; Winner for Worst Original Song, and Worst Screen Couple for Wild Wild West in 2000; and Nominee for Worst Screenplay for After Earth in 2014; Notes: He is playing Serena and Venus Williams’ father in the upcoming biopic.)

Budget/Gross – $130,000,000 / Domestic: $60,522,097 (Worldwide: $243,611,982)

(Pretty close to doing fine(ish). If the budget was $100 it would be roughly break even. It is … basically Birds of Prey? A bit more expensive to make, and a little less domestic take.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 11% (23/203): After Earth is a dull, ploddingly paced exercise in sentimental sci-fi — and the latest setback for director M. Night Shyamalan’s once-promising career.

(Awwww that’s actually a really sad consensus. Feels filled with resignation, as if there was no other way this film could have been. I suppose in this case Rotten Tomatoes is right. Reviewer Highlight: Mr. Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, are producers on “After Earth,” which suggests that there was no one on the production who could really say no to him. – Manohla Dargis, New York Times)

Poster – After Earf (C+)

after_earth

(Real father-son motif there, which is nice and helps me think this was all some tragic mistake and not something that Will Smith orchestrated to embarrass his son. Nice font too. I would have liked more of the blue-green in the color scheme and the construction works for a star vehicle, but doesn’t give any sense of what you are in for. It’s alright.)

Tagline(s) – Danger is real. Fear is a choice. (A-)

(A little on the nose, but works for the film. Particularly before you watch it. It grows on you the more you read it I think. Could have been a little cleverer I think, but that’s about it.)

Keyword – stranded

AfterEarth_stranded

Top 10: Dunkirk (2017), Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), Kong: Skull Island (2017), The Martian (2015), Constantine (2005), Star Trek Beyond (2016), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Prometheus (2012), Cast Away (2000), Blockers (2018)

Future BMT: 62.4 The Hills Have Eyes II (2007), 57.9 House of Wax (2005), 55.0 Coneheads (1993), 42.0 Red Planet (2000), 39.4 The Forsaken (2001), 39.4 Six Days Seven Nights (1998), 31.0 Rugrats Go Wild (2003), 28.9 Flight of the Phoenix (2004), 20.6 Last Man Standing (1996), 20.3 The Amazing Panda Adventure (1995);

BMT: The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996), Jumper (2008), Soldier (1998), After Earth (2013), Chernobyl Diaries (2012), Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid (2004)

(This seems to go in waves. Which is pretty cool. Perhaps like Patton Oswalt’s Zombie Spaceship Wasteland. This keyword is closest to Wasteland, and the idea is that the tastes of generations cycle between the three ideas. Fighting against zombies, exploration through space, and surviving a post-apocalyptic wasteland.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 21) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Will Smith is No. 2 billed in After Earth and No. 1 billed in Wild Wild West, which also stars M. Emmet Walsh (No. 5 billed) who is in Christmas with the Kranks (No. 4 billed), which also stars Tim Allen (No. 1 billed) who is in Jungle 2 Jungle (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 6 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 2 + 1 + 5 + 4 + 1 + 1 + 6 + 1 = 21. If we were to watch Hardball, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 13.

Notes – Although not credited on the finished film, co-writer/producer Will Smith was responsible for much of the movie’s direction. While M. Night Shyamalan was primarily in charge of the blocking (composition of shots, placement of the camera) and the visual aspects of the film (color and design), it was Will Smith who personally coached Jaden Smith in his performance and dictated the development of the story and the on-screen action. After both the story and acting were heavily criticized, Shyamalan decided to take the blame.

The original cut was 130 minutes long, and included more backstory on the decline of Earth and the formation of Nova Prime. However, the film was vastly re-edited after performing poorly at test screenings, and any actors playing Nova Primates were either reduced to extras or cut out entirely. The deleted footage will likely never be seen, as M. Night Shyamalan is satisfied with the theatrical cut.

The original idea for the film was a father and son on a camping trip. After the car they are traveling in careens off the road, the son makes his way through the forest to find help for the father. Realizing that the idea had greater potential, producer Will Smith and screenwriter Gary Whitta decided to adapt the basic survival concept into a much larger science-fiction project. (The original sounds better)

Will Smith, who had wanted to work with M. Night Shyamalan for several years but was unable to find a suitable project, personally hired him to direct. This became the first time in twenty years that Shyamalan accepted a project based on someone else’s screenplay, and the first film in Shyamalan’s career where he does not appear on screen.

Producer/co-writer Will Smith envisioned “After Earth” as a multi-platform franchise, including books, graphic novels, and interactive video games, which would all inform on and add to the ideas and concepts already developed in the finished film.

In a 2019 lecture at NYU’s Stern School of Business, Shyamalan publicly disowned his films The Last Airbender (2010) and After Earth (2013), calling them “junk movies.” He added: “I did a couple huge, big-budget CGI movies. There has always been this inexorable pull to join the group; a constant seduction in the form of whatever you want to tally, in the form of money, or safety, ease, not getting criticized. I did these movies, and I rightfully got crushed, because they said, ‘You don’t believe in yourself, you don’t believe in your own voice, and in you don’t believe in your values.’ I felt really lost. It just didn’t work. There’s probably something Darwinian about all this.”

Eisner Award-winning comic writer Peter David, Michael Jan Friedman and Robert Greenberger produced a 300-page “bible” covering the history of mankind, from their decision to leave Earth to the events depicted in the finished film. It was intended to serve as a resource for all kinds of ancillary materials in the After Earth (2013) franchise.

When Kristofer Hivju showed up on set, he got into a discussion with the make-up department, who wanted to cut his characteristic long hair and beard. Hivju was against it, and was even supported by Jaden Smith, but eventually lost out. To make matters worse, most of his role was eventually deleted from the final cut.

A series of spin-off novels, sub-titled “Ghost Stories”, have been planned to promote the movie, but are also intended to flesh out the concepts in the film itself. The titles of these books include ‘Innocence’, Peace, ‘Hunted’ and ‘A Perfect Beast.’ All books are written by writers Peter David, Michael Jan Friedman, and Robert Greenberger, with illustrations by Benito Lobel.

Second time that real-life father and son Will Smith and Jaden Smith play father and son on screen. The first time was in The Pursuit of Happyness (2006).

The film takes place in 3071.

M. Night Shyamalan’s first digital film. The first feature film shot with Sony’s F65 digital camera.

The original screenplay was written by Gary Whitta based on an idea by Will Smith. In pre-production, M. Night Shyamalan did a few drafts of the screenplay to familiarize himself with the material, before passing it over to Stephen Gaghan, who stayed on as the chief screenwriter during production. Mark Boal, writer of The Hurt Locker (2008) and Zero Dark Thirty (2012), also worked on the script.

To promote the movie, Harper Collins and Insight Editions published ‘After Earth: United Ranger Corps Survival Manual’ and ‘After Earth: Kitai’s Journal.’

Kristofer Hivju, Lincoln Lewis, and Isabelle Fuhrman had major supporting roles in the original cut though the majority of their scenes were deleted during post-production (In the theatrical cut Hivju has one scene, Lewis has one line, and only the back of Fuhrman’s head is visible in one shot – though her face can be seen in the trailer).

The word “ursa” is the Latin for “female bear”. The protagonist’s name Kitai is the Russian for “China”.

Awards – Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Jaden Smith, 2014)

Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor (Will Smith, 2014)

Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Screen Combo (Jaden Smith, Will Smith, 2014)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Picture (2014)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Director (M. Night Shyamalan, 2014)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (Gary Whitta, M. Night Shyamalan, Will Smith, 2014)