The Postman Preview

Jamie and Patrick enter the cocktail party at Colonel Stanley Von Freed’s posh ski chalet dressed in tuxedos and looking dapper. They scope the scene and begin to mingle with the crowd. Masters of smalltalk they express dismay at the latest news out of the Asian markets and hint at promising developments at their racehorse farm. Hands touch arms and laughter rings out until they realize they’ve been cornered by several sultry minxes eyeing them hungrily. They can’t be distracted. Patrick signals to the jazz band and a funky beat begins to play. Stripping to the waists, Jamie and Patrick perform their award winning breakdance routine that the New York Times deemed “the essence of pure masculinity.” Through a combination of hip thrusts and backflips Jamie and Patrick dispatch the sultry minxes and amongst fading cheers abscond upstairs. In the master bedroom they find a safe and hold their breath as they try the lock. It’s already open! Inside? Nothing. “Ah yes, I wondered why you two were here. Simple party crashers? I think not. You are looking for the medallion.” Out of the darkness Colonel Von Freed leans forward, his sad eyes searching Jamie and Patrick. Patrick speaks hesitantly, “We… we need it… to save the world.” The Colonel sighs, “of course you do, but what is there to save? This world is already dead.” Jamie steps toward the Colonel. “Come with us and find out what’s left to fight for.” The Colonel looks between them and for a moment a light shines in his eyes, “Who… who are you two?” he shakes his head, “It was taken. Long ago. By a fraudster who pretended to be my mailman. He took it to The Waste. We’ll find it there.” They shake their heads. Of course. Exactly where they started. That’s right! We’re watching what is considered one of the biggest bombs in film history, The Postman starring (and directed by) Kevin Costner. Good thing I definitely have three hours to kill this weekend, otherwise it would have been pretty annoying to watch … Let’s go!

The Postman (1997) – BMeTric: 32.5

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(Wowza, up to 6.0. I can imagine it ages well. Costner seems like he has to be a competent director, so perhaps once you have some distance and are choosing to watch this 3 hour epic is probably skewing things upwards a bit. By all accounts this films is)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars –  Long, boring, pretentious allegory about an itinerant performer in the post-apocalyptic future who passes himself off as a U.S. mail carrier. In that guise, he personifies hope for several isolated communities who’ve been beaten down by the cruel tactics of a demagogue (Patton, in a one-note performance). A well-meaning (but complete) misfire. That’s Costner’s son in the film’s final shot; one daughter plays a mail carrier, the other sings “America the Beautiful.” Mary Stuart Masterson appears unbilled.

(It feels like Maltin really slams films who strive to be something great and completely fail. Pretentious and boring. I can see it. I mean … you don’t hear much more about this film except that it is long and boring.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BC8FxxvXYTY/

(Wow, even the trailer is long, boring, and pretentious. I’m being serious, that felt like the longest trailer in the history of film.)

Directors – Kevin Costner – (Known For: Dances with Wolves; Open Range; BMT: The Postman; Razzie Notes: See the acting category Notes: An oddly limited directing career considering he won an Oscar with his first effort, and Open Range was well received as well … maybe he hates it. Nope.)

Writers – David Brin (novel) – (BMT: The Postman; Notes: His novel Startide Rising, part of his Uplift series, won the Nebula award in 1984, the year before he published The Postman (which was nominated for a Hugo and Nebula award))

Eric Roth (screenplay) – (Known For: A Star Is Born; Forrest Gump; The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Ali; Munich; The Good Shepherd; The Insider; Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close; The Horse Whisperer; Wolfen; The Onion Field; Suspect; Mr. Jones; The Drowning Pool; Future BMT: The Concorde… Airport ’79; Lucky You; BMT: The Postman; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Screenplay for The Postman in 1998; Notes: Was sadly a victim of Bernie Madoff losing his retirement fund in the grift.)

Brian Helgeland (screenplay) – (Known For: A Knight’s Tale; L.A. Confidential; Legend; Mystic River; Robin Hood; 42; Green Zone; The Taking of Pelham 123; Conspiracy Theory; Payback; A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master; Blood Work; Future BMT: The Sin Eater; 976-EVIL; Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant; Assassins; BMT: The Postman; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Screenplay for The Postman in 1998; Notes: Was a fisherman in New Bedford, MA for a short time before driving cross country to Hollywood.)

Actors – Kevin Costner – (Known For: The Highwaymen; Molly’s Game; Man of Steel; Hidden Figures; Dances with Wolves; Waterworld; The Untouchables; Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves; Mr. Brooks; No Way Out; Field of Dreams; Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit; JFK; Open Range; Bull Durham; Silverado; The Big Chill; Draft Day; Thirteen Days; Wyatt Earp; Future BMT: The New Daughter; Play It to the Bone; Dragonfly; The Bodyguard; 3 Days to Kill; Message in a Bottle; Swing Vote; Criminal; Revenge; Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; Black or White; The War; BMT: Rumor Has It…; The Postman; 3000 Miles to Graceland; The Guardian; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Director, and Worst Actor for The Postman in 1998; Winner for Worst Actor, and Worst Remake or Sequel for Wyatt Earp in 1995; Winner for Worst Actor for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves in 1992; Nominee for Worst Actor in 1993 for The Bodyguard; in 1996 for Waterworld; in 2000 for For Love of the Game, and Message in a Bottle; and in 2002 for 3000 Miles to Graceland; Nominee for Worst Screen Couple in 1995 for Wyatt Earp; and in 2002 for 3000 Miles to Graceland; and Nominee for Worst Actor of the Century in 2000; Notes: Y’all know Kevin Costner. He has seven children. The oldest is 34 and the youngest is 9. Quite the range.)

Will Patton – (Known For: Halloween; Remember the Titans; No Way Out; American Honey; The Mothman Prophecies; After Hours; Copycat; Desperately Seeking Susan; Rex; The Client; Brooklyn’s Finest; Silkwood; A Mighty Heart; The Scent of Rain & Lightning; Meek’s Cutoff; Wendy and Lucy; The Rapture; Jesus’ Son; A Shock to the System; In the Soup; Future BMT: Code Name: The Cleaner; Breakfast of Champions; Fled; The Fourth Kind; The Puppet Masters; Entrapment; The November Man; Knucklehead; Trixie; Gone in Sixty Seconds; The Punisher; The Canyon; Inventing the Abbotts; Boarding School; Armageddon; Everybody Wins; The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond; Romeo Is Bleeding; BMT: The Postman; Notes: Has narrated over forty audio books. Also … how is this first Will Patton film we’ve done? That is insane.)

Larenz Tate – (Known For: Crash; Girls Trip; Ray; Menace II Society; Dead Presidents; Love Jones; Why Do Fools Fall in Love; Future BMT: Biker Boyz; A Man Apart; Waist Deep; BMT: The Postman; Notes: Both of his brothers are also actors, although neither of them have worked much as actors in the last ten years.)

Budget/Gross – $80 million / Domestic: $17,626,234

(Two in a row, some great box office bombs recently. Unfortunately I think late-90s box office bomb might be the same as saying it is long and boring)

#56 for the Future – Near genre

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(Right at a little peak in futuristic films, and right near other weird ones like Soldier which came out in 1998. Booming now. A genre which feels like it only gets bigger as cheap CGI becomes readily available.)

#87 for the Sci-Fi – Adventure genre

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(Star Wars has this genre a-booming again. Somehow The Postman made less money than Battlefield Earth, so let that sink in for a bit.)

#52 for the Sci-Fi – Based on Book genre

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(I can’t believe Jumper is the highest grossing BMT film for this sub-genre. I’m starting to get these graphs. They are all just variations on the same graph: sci-fi films from 1990 to present. The shapes are all kind of the same.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 9% (3/35)

(I’ll have to make a consensus: So earnest it somehow loops back around and becomes a joke. So long you’ll forget what it’s like to not be watching The Postman. Reviewer Highlight: Star/director Kevin Costner’s futuristic folly The Postman is so loopy that, for a while, one wants to shield it from a critical storm that has already begun. – Mike Clark, USA Today)

Poster – Postman: The Scorch Trials (C-)

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(There is just too much going on. There is another version without the American flag and that’s better but still not the best. Everything is off about this, but not offensively bad. Also… like who wants to see this? Costner is a major star but even at the time I feel like people would look at this and be like “so we just watching him wander in the desert. No thanks.”)

Tagline(s) – The year is 2013. One man walked in off the horizon and hope came with him. (C-)

(Way too long, but love the specificity of the year considered that we have now blown by it. Ages like a fine wine. Also it hints at the incredible cheesiness of the film and I admire that. But still not good.)

Keyword(s) – drifter; Top Ten by BMeTric: 84.9 Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011); 75.5 Anaconda (1997); 63.4 I, Frankenstein (2014); 60.8 Conan the Barbarian (2011); 51.0 Graveyard Shift (1990); 49.8 Frogs (1972); 46.3 Cabin Fever (2002); 46.0 Ator the Invincible (1982); 43.7 The Dark Tower (2017); 43.6 Coyote Ugly (2000);

(This can be split up into three groups. The “so bad we had to watch them” starts it off. Then three horror films. Then three kind of off the wall selections. Coyote Ugly is a funny one. Sometimes I forget that qualifies.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 16) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Kevin Costner is No. 1 billed in The Postman and No. 2 billed in 3000 Miles to Graceland, which also stars Kurt Russell (No. 1 billed) who is in Tango and Cash (No. 2 billed), which also stars Sylvester Stallone (No. 1 billed) who is in Expendables 3 (No. 1 billed), which also stars Jason Statham (No. 2 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 4 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 1 + 2 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 4 + 1 = 16. If we were to watch Love Happens, and The Black Dahlia we can get the HoE Number down to 14.

Notes – The actors did their own stuntwork on the rope bridge scene and Kevin Costner, a skilled equestrian, did his own horse-riding. He also performed the cable cart scene himself, with the cart winched through the air by helicopter.

Kevin Costner’s children all appear in the film.

Tom Petty mentioned back in 1982 while filming the video for his song “You Got Lucky” (a post apocalyptic themed story) he wanted to do a small part in a futuristic movie. He said he wanted to portray a post war character, which he finally did in this movie. (ugh, what a terrible story)

The area of Metaline Falls, Washington (where a lot of the filming took place) did not have much to offer for housing film crews (like hotels) so many of the crew stayed at local campsites, rented rooms from locals. Kevin Costner rented a house from a resident of the nearby town of Ione, Washington. The stars and crew treated the locals very kindly even when approached for autographs when eating in local restaurants. (Sounds like fun)

Residents of an apartment building in Metaline Falls, Washington were paid to have their windows blown out during the “Hannibal at the gate” scene that takes place in Benning. The apartments were later repaired and cleaned up, returning them to new.

The Postman’s fake president was named “Richard Starkey”, the real name of Ringo Starr. (Ah, I didn’t get that)

An open mining pit in Tucson was used in the movie. It was one of the largest film sets ever dressed, at least two miles wide, and 1200 feet deep to create Bethlehem’s camp. Engineers looked over the drawings for buildings of the future to see if they were structurally sound. They built Bridge City on the face of the dam that supplies half of Seattle’s power. (These are cool notes)

Visual effects supervisor Tricia Henry Ashford was fired several weeks before the end of production and replaced by storyboard artist David J. Negron Jr.. This was reportedly due to various “creative differences” between her and Kevin Costner; she wanted most of the effects to be done in post-production, while Costner wanted them to be done in-camera and on-location.

In the sequence where Kevin Costner’s character names Richard Starkey (Ringo Starr) as President, he continues with another reference to The Beatles by telling the assembly “It’s getting better. Getting better all the time” from the band’s song “Getting Better”. (Also didn’t get that one)

We never learn The Postman’s real name.

The crew referred to the film as “Dirt World”.

Tom Petty plays himself. When The Postman and Abby met The Mayor of Bridge City (Tom Petty), The Postman says to him “I know you. You’re famous.” (Well … I guess if he was supposed to be like 60 in those scenes.)

At one point, this was in development as a project for Ron Howard, with Tom Hanks set to star. (I don’t believe it)

The Postman (1997) takes place the same year as another post apocalyptic movie – John Carpenter’s Escape From L.A. (1996). Both films take place in the year 2013. (Extended universe!)

It was the extras that referred to the production as “Dirt World”. This was never to be spoken within earshot of Kevin Costner, because he would fire anyone he heard saying it. (Ah I get it, like Waterworld … that’s pretty good)

Awards – Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Picture of the Decade (2000)

Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Picture (Jim Wilson, Steve Tisch, Kevin Costner, 1998)

Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Kevin Costner, 1998)

Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Director (Kevin Costner, 1998)

Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (Eric Roth, Brian Helgeland, John, John Wilson, 1998)

Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Original Song (John Coinman, Joe Flood, Blair Forward, Maria M. Machado, Jono Manson, 1998)

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Solarbabies Preview

This week we get to do SciFi/Fantasy. The film for this genre has been set from the jump for this cycle. That’s because one of the biggest bombs of the year (and all-time) was a post-apocalyptic rollerblading film called Solarbabies… that’s the actual title and plot of the film. It doesn’t even sound real. Oh but it is. And we’re watching it. Should be weird and wild stuff. For those interested How Did This Get Made? did this film a few weeks ago and a rather interesting oral history was developed for it by Slash Film. It includes an interview with the writer Metrov and also an interview with Mel Brooks the producer of the film. Let’s go!

Solarbabies (1986) – BMeTric: 29.6

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(And we’re back to the classic 1980s BMeTric plot (i.e. pretty linear). Boring stuff once you’ve seen basically the same plot over and over again (linear BMeTric, regression to the mean rating, steadily increasing vote count). If anything the only startling thing is how high the IMDb rating is. Remember Shanghai Surprise has a 3.0 on IMDb. This is more than a point better and far above the likes of other barely-movies like Theodore Rex and Barb Wire.)

Leonard Maltin – BOMB –  Futuristic teen junk has Gertz and her mostly male cohorts imprisoned by Nazi-like Jordan inside a fortress; the group plots an escape with the help of “Bohdi” — an ancient mystical force. Appallingly bad stinker from (Mel) Brooksfilm that barely got released.

(Nice. Semi-colon. Work. Leonard. With that out of the way this is going to probably be the first true blue barely-a-film we’ve seen in a long while. We tend to avoid them, but The Room, Troll 2, and Plan 9 From Outer Space were all at one point seen for BMT. Theodore Rex was probably the most recent … Barb Wire? This certainly has Barb Wire vibes coming all out of it. … Steel might have been the last one. Hmmm, nevermind, we’ve seen quite a few.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFcDCJyP9fo

(Oooooo that is bumping yo. I’m amped for Solarbabies now. Definitely not going to be one of the worst things I’ve ever seen. Definitely not going to be Nukie-esque (look it up, Nukie). Trailers were certainly … different back then.)

Directors – Alan Johnson – (Known For: To Be or Not to Be; BMT: Solarbabies; Notes: He was a choreographer mostly and on many of Mel Brooks’ films. To Be or Not to Be is Brooks as well. He is a three-time Emmy award winner and probably most well known for choreographing Springtime For Hitler in The Producers.)

Writers – Walon Green (screenplay) – (Known For: WarGames; The Wild Bunch; Dinosaur; Sorcerer; The Border; The Hi-Lo Country; Crusoe; BMT: RoboCop 2; Solarbabies; Eraser; Notes: One of the most expensive screenwriters of the time he merely wrote the revised script for Brooksfilms if Metrov is to be believed (see: Oral history). So apparently a hearty chunk of the budget for the film was for basically nothing. An Emmy and Oscar winning writer, he has been more involved with television in recent year, specifically the Law & Order series)

D.A. Metrov (screenplay) (as Douglas Anthony Metrov) – (BMT: Solarbabies; Notes: Trained as a fine arts painter he ultimately wrote a short treatment for Solarbabies which was picked up and promoted by the producer Mark Johnson. I would highly recommend the Slashfilm oral history for more information, but he has continued to write and direct mostly short films since.)

Actors – Richard Jordan – (Known For: Dune; The Hunt for Red October; Logan’s Run; Gettysburg; Klute; Rooster Cogburn; The Secret of My Succe$s; Interiors; Raise the Titanic; The Friends of Eddie Coyle; The Yakuza; Lawman; The Mean Season; Romero; BMT: Solarbabies; Posse; Notes: A stage, film, and television actor who died in 1993 from cancer. His career spanned 30 years and he’s probably most well known for Logan’s Run.)

Jami Gertz – (Known For: The Lost Boys; Sixteen Candles; Twister; Less Than Zero; Mischief; Crossroads; Seven Girlfriends; BMT: Endless Love (BMT); Solarbabies; Quicksilver; Renegades; Keeping Up with the Steins; Sibling Rivalry; Notes:  Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1997 for Worst Supporting Actress for Twister. Made her acting debut in Endless Love, just like Tom Cruise! Classic BMT. She’s more known for television work now. Part owner of the Milwaukee Brewers apparently, fun fact)

Jason Patric – (Known For: The Lost Boys; Sleepers; My Sister’s Keeper; The Losers; In the Valley of Elah; The Abandoned; Narc; Rush; Geronimo: An American Legend; After Dark, My Sweet; The Journey of August King; Your Friends & Neighbors; Roger Corman’s Frankenstein Unbound; Expired; Keyhole; Three Days of Rain; BMT: Speed 2: Cruise Control; The Prince; Solarbabies; The Outsider; Cavemen; The Alamo; Notes:  Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1998 for Worst Screen Couple for Speed 2: Cruise Control, and Sandra Bullock. I feel like Speed 2 might have derailed his career a bit. Grandson of Jackie Gleason, according to IMDb he is very good friends with Laura Dern.)

It should be noted that Lukas Haas of Material Girls fame is also in this, it was his third feature film a year after Witness.

Budget/Gross – $25 million / Domestic: $1,579,260

(Huge bomb. In the oral history there should be a link to the interview with Mel Brooks. Interesting stuff. Mel Brooks thought the script was a disaster, but kind of produced the film to help a friend out. He indicates it got him very close to financial ruin because he immediately broke the number one rule: don’t give more money to a failing movie. The original budget was something like $10 million and the director basically spent that immediately. They used way too much film if I recall and Brooks ended up taking out loans just to get it made and released. Leonard is not joking, the film was barely released. Metrov indicates as much as well referring to the film as a miracle in and of itself because by all accounts it shouldn’t exist. It is an interesting story if only from a production standpoint.)

#42 for the Post-Apocalypse genre

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(Right on the downswing of the early 80s boom of post-apocalyptics with the Mad Max series and Escape from New York. There isn’t really a good corollary with older BMT films either, this is in the class of low-budget sci-fi which we’ve never really ventured into before. Post-apocalyptic films naturally go in waves. Reminds me of the Patton Oswalt book Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, that there are three types of nerds in the world. The zombie enjoys the idea of a civilization broken down, one where you infrastructure exists but you effectively operate on your own. The spaceship looks outwards to aliens, the unknown coming to a world much like our own (or us going to a totally alien world). The wasteland is about society in complete obliteration with no infrastructure at all remaining. I’m guessing these types of films going in waves like that. I think we came down from zombie a while back and wasteland took over bit by bit. Wasteland (Maze Runner, and Hunger Games to an extent) is now coming down and we are seeing a resurgence of alien. And thus the cycle will continue. Maybe. I’m sure there are counterexamples).

Rotten Tomatoes – 0% (0/6): No consensus yet.

(Zero percent. Like Theodore Rex these kind of movies even having a score is kind of a flukey bad-movie-people-review-DVDs type deal. I’ll make a consensus based on Ebert’s original 1986 review: Dull and derivative of the Road Warrior films that preceded it, Solarbabies boasts impressive locales and costuming, so it is a wonder that such care and attention was never devoted to the script as well.)

Poster – Sklog it, baby! (D+)

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(Hahahahaha, that is just the worst. The coloring, the spacing. Only positive would be the unique font for the font. Would be tough to make Sklogbabies out of it.)

Tagline(s) – Who will rule the future? (C+)

Spectacular science-fiction/adventure on blazing skates! (Wha?)

(Don’t know where either of these come from (the poster doesn’t have a tagline, although it certainly had a lot of empty space to include one) so I kept them both. The first is simple and short and gives a little hint at the plot. Pretty much meh. The second explodes my brain. Can’t wait to see those blazing skates!)

Keyword(s) – post apocalypse; Top Ten by BMeTric: 87.7 Battlefield Earth (2000); 78.2 Ultraviolet (2006); 72.2 Barb Wire (1996); 70.9 After Earth (2013); 63.6 The Darkest Hour (2011); 58.8 The Crow: City of Angels (1996); 56.3 Cell (I) (2016); 56.2 Beowulf (1999); 55.9 The 5th Wave (2016); 55.3 Vanishing on 7th Street (2010);

(Great great list right there. The Darkest Hour has been on the BMT shortlist a ton of times. The others there are also interesting because they are rarely if ever mentioned for BMT. The Cell is an interesting one though, direct to VOD, so again, we are seeing the VOD creep into BMT.)

Notes – All of the main characters’ names are from enlightenment legends and myths from various cultures.

The movie was filmed on location in Spain, a country selected for its abundant desert landscape. Ironically, production was held up for several weeks due to–of all things–rain. (Classic, same thing happened to the Death of Don Quixote, or whatever, the Gilliam production which has failed to come through two or three times now)

A year later Jami Gertz and Jason Patric would appear in The Lost Boys together.

The key speechless character, named “Bodhi”, is also referred to in the film as the “Sphere of Longinus”.

The end theme song, “Love Will Set You Free” performed and written by Smokey Robinson, is about Jesus offering an invitation for Christian discipleship, with direct quotes from Jesus’ sermons in the Bible. (Fun fact right there)

The name Solarbabies refers to the characters’ seeing themselves as the children of the Sun in the dry water-less future in which they live. (So it’s like the opposite of Waterworld?)

The movie has several religious references. The orb can perform what could be described as miracles, one of the red tents in the Bartertown has a crescent moon on it that looks like the one from the Turkish flag, the neon sign in town says Xanadu, which refers to a paradise-like place, and the villain calls the orb “the sphere of Longinus” at one point, which is a clear reference to the biblical spear called The Holy Lance (as well as the spear of Longinus) that killed Jesus Christ. Also, the characters have what could be described as religious experience when they interact with the orb outside together. (That is all incredibly strange… I wonder if this film has ever been a part of a film thesis… probably not)