Fifty Shades of Black Recap

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of the Black & Blue Bicycle where we watched Blue City and Fifty Shades of Black in one week. The two recaps are separate but go together. Here is a link to the Blue City Recap]

Jamie

This is the second part of an extra juicy post this week. That’s because we watched two films! A black and blue bicycle of Blue City and Fifty Shades of Black. You would think that as a result we would reap more from Fifty Shades, but not the case for me.

While I had some settings, MonoSklogs, and adaptation heavy lifting to do for Blue City, I didn’t really have any of that for Fifty Shades of Black. Being a spoof of another BMT film boded well, but it mostly just took all the scenes from that film and added excessive sex jokes. Like I bet you could almost play both of the films next to each other and they would proceed nearly in tandem (and look astonishingly similar). The other thing is that I generally do not mind Wayans films. Much like Madea, before BMT I didn’t think too much about the Wayans Brothers’ films. Would I have watched A Haunted House or Fifty Shades of Black or White Chicks or Little Man? Probably not. Now I look forward to them. Most comedies we watch are more boring than anything else and the Wayans don’t do boring (similarly Madea is simply not boring and I don’t care what anyone says). This wasn’t the best one though (that’s obviously White Chicks). It’s better than A Haunted House 2, but not better than A Haunted House. So on the A Haunted House metric this ranks A Haunted House 1.7… White Chicks on the other hand is A Haunted House -0.8. Ya’ll keeping up with that? Good. Because the A Haunted House metric is how I’m rating every film from now on. Phew.

The Settings 101 is pretty trash for Fifty Shades of Grey, it was obviously set in Seattle. It kind of had to be. Throw in a Supersonics joke, gratuitous shots of Seattle’s skyline, and a bus with a “Seattle” sign and we got a C or C+. Just C’s on C’s on C’s this week. Nice a brief for the bonus movie this week.

Patrick

We’re still doing this. Watching two movies in a week is haaaard when you have strict post guidelines. ‘Ello everyone! Fifty Shades of Black? More like nope, non-funny garbage movie! Let’s get into it.

  • The Good – I counted two chuckles and one hearty laugh, so about the same as Keeping Up With the Joneses as far as actual humor. The description of being “ashy like ET when he was sick in the river” cracked me up for like 5 minutes, I had to stop the movie. I do like Marlon Wayans, I think he’s a very funny actor with incredible screen presence. The way he can control his body and face to play to the camera is incredible. As a matter of fact the acting was pretty solid for a spoof movie all around.
  • The Bad – If you don’t like wall-to-wall sex jokes this movie isn’t for you. Literally people pretend to have sex on-screen for maybe 20 minutes of the total 90 minute runtime. There are two prosthetic penises (one gigantic and one really small naturally). I deadpanned the last hour of the film as well. None of the jokes really landing after the opening salvo. Irreverent spoof films are hard to pull off and this certainly does not.
  • The BMT – Certainly, 50+ easy. It is going to ultimately be top 5 worst film of the year for me. I would watch it again though. I would watch it while running a giant mind-melting 2000s spoof movie extravaganza (Scary Movies besides the first, Disaster/Epic/Date Movie, Haunted Houses, and this I guess, ten films, oof).

Let’s see … Since A Haunted House and A Haunted House 2 were both BMT let’s go back in time and learn a little BMHisTory. In particular, all those long year ago what did I think of A Haunted House 2? BAM, a little digest of my thoughts:

  • Marlon Waynes is a funny guy who can single handedly keep a movie from devolving into the Friedberg and Seltzer garbage that pervades the genre.
  • Relies way too much on sex and racial jokes.
  • But like the first four scary movies and Haunted House there are some laughs here (as cheap as they are), and I like all the players. I would (I’m serious) welcome a third movie (once again, totally serious).

My wish was Marlon Wayan’s command it seems, except it wasn’t a third Haunted House, it was this. And I’m having weird flashbacks here, this might as well literally be my review of Fifty Shades of Black! Patrick and Patrick from a year ago are so in sync.

Cheerios (for real),

The Sklogs

Blue City Recap

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of the Black & Blue Bicycle where we watched Blue City and Fifty Shades of Black in one week. The two recaps are separate but go together. Here is a link to the Fifty Shades of Black Recap]

Jamie

Prepare for a extra juicy post this week. That’s because we watched two films! A black and blue bicycle of Blue City and Fifty Shades of Black. I doubt anyone has actually heard of Blue City. It only has 755 votes on IMDb and its popularity ranking is so low that it comes in behind the 1986 gymnastics film American Anthem. This Italian Terminator rip-off is ranked higher for God’s sake!

As we all know (“You’re a crazy person,” the crowd chants in unison). Yup, I’m a crazy person. So I obviously read the book that Blue City was based on (that obviously no one has heard of either). It is a boilerplate noir thriller. Our hero returns from war to find his estranged dad murdered. With nothing to lose, he descends into the darkest corners of the city to find his father’s killers and bring them to justice, even if it costs him his life. Blue City! As far as an adaptation goes it was a pretty solid example of how some of the best films get made. Find a book of middling quality but with a solid story, tighten the screws, add some meat, and voila! Did it succeed? Ha! No. Lots of changes, merging of character, change of setting (more on that later), etc. etc. etc. But in most cases the changes were simply to try to clean up the seedy characters you are meant to root for. A general brat pack-ification of the material. As for the film itself I actually wasn’t totally disappointed by it. I’ll let Patrick discuss its finer points, but there were some bonkers MonoSklogs being thrown around and some crazy editing/directorial choices. While somewhat boring, it gave me enough to provide sense of peace with what would have otherwise been an odd choice for BMT considering just how unknown it is.

Taken in tandem is the longest post we’ve had since… well actually probably not that long ago. Still, I’ll try to keep the Settings 101 brief…ish. Blue City had a very interesting setting. The book was purposefully set nowhere. Our hero arrives in “The City” without acknowledgement of which state he is in. There is mention of Chicago being somewhat close and that The City was a big tire and rubber center, so I guess it’s a take on Akron, Ohio. But a fake state capital is explicitly mentioned, so that confirms the N/A setting for the book. The movie on the other hand was working hard for its setting. That production designer has so many “Blue City” signs and decals my head was spinning. However, the true setting was only shown once: on the side of a police car where it said “Florida” above the Blue City Police department shield. While there are a lot of mentions of Miami being nearby, there wasn’t enough to float it above C. Similarly, you can almost get an exact date for the temporal setting from a calendar on the wall and a visit to a graveyard (April 1985), but didn’t play a role and wasn’t exact. C- or maybe a C.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Blue City? More like Real Shitty! We completed the Black and Blue Bicycle, which means you’re going to get two, so let’s try and keep them each shorter. Let’s go!

  • The Good – It is an okay crime story with okay acting from Caruso and an interesting fictional grimy southern setting. I could see someone accidentally watching the film and not realizing it was incredibly reviled upon release.
  • The Bad – Nelson and Sheedy, woof! Sheedy in particular was just atrocious in this film, it kind of threw me. This was also probably an editor’s nightmare, it came across as just kind of cut to pieces and barely 80 minutes, the first time directing was exposed there. The story is also just unpleasant with undesirable characters thrown around with little regard for how they would eventually have to resolve the story.
  • The BMT – Naw, again, just kind of a blah, boring crime film with terrible characters and action that hasn’t aged particularly well. A 10 would be right in line, definitely poor, but never popular enough to make it a hit.

And I’m thinking Sequel for this one. Billy Turner, now a long time Florida politician running for Governor, is assassinated at a campaign stop in his hometown of Blue City. With no suspects and no hope his son Jim Turner returns to try and untangle the threads that tied his father to the dark underbelly of the town that tore his family apart. Was it corruption that felled Billy Turner at his moment of triumph, or is that yet another lie surrounding his tragic death? Blue City: Legacy. I’m hearing through the grapevine that I’m writing the screenplay and John Krasinski is attached to the lead role of Jim Turner.

That’s it, cheerios,

The Sklogs

Keeping Up With the Joneses Recap

Jamie

I went into the theater for Keeping Up with the Joneses thinking the worst. It would be like Unfinished Business where you hate everyone and the jokes are lame or offensive. I can say that I was wrong. The jokes weren’t offensive in the least (their lameness is a different story) and the characters were at least sympathetic enough that you could sit and enjoy their story. Unfortunately the script was half-baked. Maybe they pushed it out the door too quickly or rewrote it one too many times, but the pacing was way off for what is purportedly a comedy/action film. To the point where a major car chase scene occurs and it plays out like an episode of Chuck (nailed that relevant reference!). Does this all add to a 21% on RT? I don’t think so since I actually liked the characters and somewhat enjoyed watching their story. But, who cares? This is definitely not getting a Razzie nomination, emirite? ….

Keeping Up with the Joneses is a film that could have gotten away with not having a setting since it is set in an innocuous small-ish US city. It almost seems out of sheer laziness that this film ended up being explicitly set in Atlanta, Georgia. This is as ‘meh’ a physical location case as we can get for Settings 101: Fire Engine says “Atlanta”, Georgia license plates, and small ‘Atlanta’ signs next to a hotel and company. Cool story, bro. Straight up C, obviously. Could have been Nashville or Kansas City or Salt Lake City, etc. But since they filmed in Atlanta, why not? As for the temporal setting we know that the entire film is set in a two week span in June. Not only do we see Galifianakis’ kids sent off to summer camp in the beginning (implying June), but a big cookout in the middle of the film is called “Junetoberfest.” Oh yeah, and the film opens with a house exploding and Zach Galifianakis telling us that his neighborhood was “the safest place to be until two week earlier.” So clearly June… probably 2015. While an exact date is not provided to us directly, we do catch a glimpse of an alarm clock that appears to say that the date is June 13th (hard to tell since I can’t pause and rewind a film in theaters). Given that the day when we see the clock is probably Saturday, then we have a soft date of June 13th, 2015 that the film centers around. That also sounds like a C. While both settings are pretty mediocre this does further my conviction that you can probably figure out the setting of almost every film. Given how easily I’ve been able to discern location and (almost) exact date for every film we’ve watched I’m convinced that somewhere out there is a “missing” Delaware film that no one knows is actually set in Delaware. Someday I will find it… someday.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Keeping Up With the Joneses?! More like Making Me Weep and Moan(ses)! We went to the theater to see Boo! A Madea Halloween, but instead got served a big helping of overdone spy spoof. Why-o-why-o can’t the UK have Madea saying “hellur” to me big screen style? We may never know. Let’s get into Keeping Up With the Joneses:

  • The Good – The characters were actually shockingly likeable. A total about face from most recent bad comedies. The storyline was surprisingly fresh considering there have been something like four spy spoofs out in the past year or so. Galifianakis has his moments.
  • The Bad – Places said Hamm did okay, but I found him, Gadot, and Fisher all about the same level of blah. The script reeks of punch up and yet still is surprisingly low on laughs. I got three chuckles and one decent laugh, and the decent laugh was because I was watching in a theater in London and they make fun of British people’s teeth at one point. By the way, terribly old school joke which, again, reeked of punch up. The story is extremely straightforward and they still manage to fall into the voiceover-flashback-to-two-weeks-earlier trope which is just so classically bad comedy.
  • The BMT – Nope. This film is destined to be forgotten and will likely garner zero Razzie noms (unless they throw Gadot a nom in combination with Batman v Superman which I could sadly see, I hate combo noms). It is a lot better than its rottentomatoes score suggests (lower than Tammy which is laughable). It is like a ten most likely and I anticipate its rating will increase as people watch on VOD in the coming months and its BMeTric will reflect it by staying steady around 10.

Let’s get a quick Theater Review in because it was kind of boring. Why? Because I think I literally sat in the same theater as I did for The Mechanic: Resurrection. The gigantic Vue in Westfield was swamped with early Thursday showings for Doctor Strange, but there was still a few people in my theater. They blocked off an enormous section of the theater for “VIP” seats (I ain’t paying for that!) which is I guess a trend where they force you to sit literally on the screen or in the back row unless you pay them extra money. Whatever. There were a few talkers early, but they settled down and I thought the response from the audience was appropriately muted with sparse laugher when a particularly decent joke landed. Good showing all around.

Oh oh oh yeah. And a very quick Product Sklog-ment brought to you by McDonald’s. Da-da-da-da-da, we’re lovin’ it! Because this movie had a few impressive ones in there. Every computer was a Dell, but mainly the gigantic Mercedes logos everywhere. And Mercedes already has obnoxiously large logos. This is how movies like this make money, the chase scene was basically an extended commercial for the car brand. I’ll take my leave there.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Under the Cherry Moon Recap

I went bonkers with Settings 101 this week so I’ll keep my assessment to a minimum. Besides my take is boring, while Patrick’s is fun. That’s because I was mostly bored by Prince’s bizarre vanity project. Unlike Purple Rain we don’t get to be entertained by random Prince concerts (which was obviously amazing). Instead it kinda meanders around whatever plot it has (a Pygmalion-like knock-off) with Prince primarily tasked with ogling Kristin Scott Thomas and occasionally dancing around or playing the piano… but not performing. It was only not boring because it gave you the opportunity to observe some pretty terrible acting. This is made all the more amazing by the fact that Kristin Scott Thomas was only in the movie because Prince’s girlfriend (who was the original casting choice) turned out to be so bad that they literally couldn’t keep her in the movie. Yes it is real bad, but leaning towards boring for me.

It was a very lucrative Settings 101 for Under the Cherry Moon. That’s because I was looking for both the physical and temporal setting. In the case of physical it was pretty straight forward. We are introduced to the setting of the film using a shot of a hotel in Nice, France. How do I know it’s in Nice? Well the hotel is labeled “Nice.” Further, as Prince aims to establish his character as a hustler looking to marry rich he and his hustler friend peruse the newspaper for hints of rich ladies in the area. One article that catches their eye is the announcement of the birthday party of heiress Mary Sharon in Grasse, France… just a short 40 minute drive from Nice. So perfect, it is clear that we are set in the French Riviera, but not so much to get to A territory. Still at the C-C+ range. Clear enough, but not instrumental to the plot (just instrumental to Prince making the film), and not specifically provided to the audience. As for the temporal setting there are no moments where anyone says “Oh hey, what a wonderful day in 1985.” But we can pretty easily assume that it takes place in the 80’s given that there are personal computers seen occasionally in the background and Prince whips out a chrome-style boombox at one point. Lucky for us we can somehow still narrow it down to an exact date. That’s because that same newspaper article announcing the birthday tells us that it is occurring on Friday, September 13th. No year is given, but 1985 did have September 13th land on a Friday. We get further proof of 1985 in a later scene where Prince has the record ‘You’re Under Arrest’ by Miles Davis conspicuously propped up on a chair. That record was released in 1985, so unless we are to presume the film takes place in the future in 1991 (the next year where September 13th is on a Friday… unlikely) then we get a very soft exact date of September 13th, 1985 as the day of the birthday party in the film. Phew. That would be a C-. Exact date but not important to the plot and very difficult to ascertain. Boom. I. Love. Settings

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Under the Cherry Moon? More like Cautionary Swoon (nailed it). I think Jamie and I disagreed on this, but let’s savor those moments before you realize my true feeling, let’s go:

  • The Good – The music is at the very least ok and at the very best glorious Prince. I thought parts of the direction were interesting as was the eventual choice to release it in black and white … and I’m done.
  • The Bad – I think this film competes strongly with Howard the Duck for the worst film of 1986 and I thought it was far worse than any of the other films we’ve seen for the 1986 cycle (outside of perhaps King Kong Lives which isn’t a real movie so that doesn’t count). It is not shocking that Howard the Duck and Under the Cherry Moon ultimately tied for worst picture that year. Let’s see: worse actors is easily Under the Cherry Moon, worse writing I think was Howard the Duck, worse direction I think goes to Under the Cherry Moon, worse soundtrack goes to Howard the Duck. And ultimately Howard the Duck is the worse movie, but it was closer than I could have expected. The acting alone in Under the Cherry Moon is like watching amateurs dress up and crack jokes in a period comedy (oh wait … that’s exactly what this movie is). I did not like this movie, and yet it is fascinating in a very strange and magnetic way.
  • The BMT – Yes, a thousand times yes, although this film is more boring that something nuts like Howard the Duck. This is more like you are watching bad jokes and bad acting sustained on screen all wrapped up in a bizarre gift. I think the BMeTric would be something like 40, distinctly above average, but not alluring enough to attract the number of votes necessary to get over the top.

Phew. I hated that movie didn’t I? I think, in the end, that is going to be the one takeaway from this cycle that kind of made it all worth it. Under the Cherry Moon is probably top 25 as far as bad movies of the 80’s for me and it needed to be watched at some point.

Let’s Remake this guy! Imagine that. I’m thinking Justin Bieber hanging in Paris fleecing young debutantes out of their millions. And then he finds love, oh what a world. The bumping Bieber tunes anchor this romantic turn for the young music phenom who appears poised to become a movie star in his own right! Starring Justin Timberlake as his world weary partner in crime and … I was trying to find a young french actress and the only one that kind of fits the bill is Adèle Exarchopoulos from Blue is the Warmest Color. Funny enough Bieber and her are the same age. One word Netflix … fate.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Solarbabies Recap

Jamie

Ahhh, here’s the 1986 I know and love. Unlike No Mercy (which was Not That Bad and fairly typical) this falls right in line with King Kong Lives, Howard the Duck and (from what I’ve heard) Under the Cherry Moon. Read: weird shit. But despite only existing through a series of lapses in judgement, it actually has some bright spots. It looks a lot better than I expected and the game they play is legit the best fake sport I’ve seen put to film (this would be a good deep dive to undertake: fake sports in film). Overall though, it kinda reminded me of Ice Pirates, except not in on the joke.

On the face of it Solarbabies is not particularly interesting for Settings 101. There is little to no evidence of where it takes place outside of “in the desert.” The only evidence that can be seen is a license place on a car that some bounty hunters use as a primitive horse-and-buggy. While it’s not exactly clear what state the license plate is from (through some internet sleuthing I’m pretty sure it’s California), you would only really be able to say that it’s likely that the film takes place in America. A single California license plate can show up anywhere. So while it’s tempting to give this a D-, you have to give it an F. There is no setting that you would ever be able to put on a mapl.de.map. Sigh. These types of films are pretty rare. All of the angst about the physical setting of Solarbabies did get me thinking of a second class for BMIT similar to Settings 101. Instead of asking where the film takes place (and seeing how definite and specific you can get), you ask when the film takes place. Most every film can be narrowed down to an past, present, and future. A number will get to a year. There are a set of fun ones that can be narrowed down to particular weekends due to movie matinees, calendars on the wall, holidays, and funny stuff like that. Then there will be the solid few that get to an exact date by virtue of a intertitle or a major plot point revolving around it (think Back to the Future). While Solarbabies doesn’t have an exact temporal setting per se, it is stated that the film takes place in the year “41.” Most people take this as meaning that it takes place 41 years after some apocalyptic event dried out the Earth. So that’s something, but not really an exact year. There are some interesting internet theories about what else the “41” could mean, including one spoken about on the podcast How Did This Get Made? that gives us an exact year. This is that the film takes place in an alternate timeline where the nazis won the war in 1941 and started a thousand year reign. Thus the film takes place 1000 years later in the year 2941 and the climactic destruction of the Eco-Police HQ/hydroelectric dam marks the end of the reign. There are actually several aspects of the film that support this theory including the nazi-like characteristics of the villains’ uniforms. It’s certainly interesting, but the temporal setting is not definite and at best would be a C- (it does have an exact year of sorts, but it’s not great).

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Solarbabies? More like Bizarre Eighties! Amirite. Like, … this movie makes the eighties look bizarre, you know? Anyways, Solarbabies, Theodore Rex, Barb Wire, Left Behind. Potato, potato, potato, potato, let’s get into it!

  • The Good – This movie is way way better than it should be all things considered. When they say it is a rip off of Mad Max that is actually a compliment: this isn’t like the Asylum ripoffs you see (like Transmorphers or Atlantic Rim), this is like a group of people got together and tried to make a Mad Max film. And it isn’t nearly as bad as you would have expected given that description. The rollerball-esque future sport they play actually looks like a real sport: I would watch the London Bridges versus Manchester SBRGC play that game (SBRGC = SolarBabies Roller Game Club obviously).
  • The Bad – Most things, but you see that list of four ridiculous movies I wrote in my intro? This is the best of those four. It might be the best not-a-movie we’ve seen actually. That isn’t the say it is good. This movie is obviously awful. The music is so dumb. The acting is pretty bad across the board. The script (from dialogue to the basic premise) is ludicrous. This movie is bad. But if you know that going in … it would probably satisfy a thirteen-year-old on a rainy Saturday. That is the highest praise this film is going to get, revel in it.
  • The BMT – Yes, but only based on reputation I think. The movie is crazy and I would definitely watch it in a BMT marathon, but the marathon would be something along the lines of Barely There Movies. Solid 25 BMeTric.

Actually let’s see if I can’t get a solid cycle for a 6 movie Barel Movie-Thon extravaganza (Transition and Chain Reaction are impossible to predict so…): Theodore Rex (Comedy), Gymkata (Action), Troll 2 (Horror), From Justin to Kelly (Romance), Solarbabies (SciFi), Barb Wire (Razzies). Mac and Me would also need to get in there somehow, so maybe force a transition. Solid cycle right there of barely-movies for sure. I think there is actually a name for this game, like The Ideal Ideal Cut Cycle or something, so I’ll leave it right there.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

No Mercy Recap

Jamie

It’s such a rare occurrence for us to get a film like No Mercy for BMT that I gotta get hyped for writing about it. Whew… here it goes… you ready? IT’S NOT THAT BAD. (“It’s not that bad! It’s not that bad! It’s not that bad!” the crowd chants as Patrick and I strut eagerly about the arena). That’s right, I actually liked this film. If you are looking for a JCVD-ish type action thriller with better actors and a shockingly gritty and emotional storyline then I RECOMMEND No Mercy. You saw that right. I would recommend this film. Is it a somewhat by-the-numbers thriller? Of course. Is the final fight a bit anticlimactic? Sure. But it also has a number of solid aspects to it: the acting is good (even Basinger puts in a nuanced performance), the setting is good, and the relationship between Basinger and Gere is actually really good. In particular, the level of emotion brought to Basinger’s character and the situation she is in was completely unexpected. She is kept woman by a Cajun gangster in New Orleans. In the beginning of the film you don’t know much about her other than that she was present at the murder of Gere’s partner. You soon come to learn that she was given over to the gangster as a child and has basically known nothing but terror at the hands of this monster for years. It’s pretty raw. The best part of the film is when the gangster finally catches up with them and is getting Basinger out of jail. She is handed a form to sign and he matter-of-factly states “she can’t read or write,” and there is a look of embarrassment on her face as she looks at Gere who stands there shocked. It was kind of beautiful and terrible and done with a single look. In that moment I really felt like not only was the film not bad, but perhaps the best BMT film we’ve watched. Anyway, I’ll let Patrick give a slightly less glowing (and probably more realistic) review of the film. I really liked it though.

No Mercy nails two separate locations for Settings 101. The first is Chicago, where Gere operates as a Chicago PD detective. It’s made pretty clear where we are set, but not so plot defining to be considered in the A range. Pretty solidly in the C range as it could have been NYC or Houston even a place like Memphis. However, when the film transitions to the New Orleans area we go all in. Not only do we start out with an extended Old South plantation scene and Gere walking around Bourbon Street, but then we get some extremely specific scenes located in the 15th ward of New Orleans called Algiers (also where Shaq is from in the film Blue Chips) and Gere and Basinger wading around a bayou bumping up against Cajun people and eating crawfish. Basically it descends into New Orleans: The Movie. It jumps right over the B range and in the A range, where the setting begins to be inseparable from the plot itself. I would even say that it lands right in A, given that so many aspects of the plot could be done in so few other places. Perhaps you could transfer this over to parts of Florida or Alabama, but even that would be hard. I really love settings and I really liked this film. Perfect combo.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! No Mercy? More like No, More Please! I guess, let’s quickly get into it.

  • The Good – I kind of dug this movie. The first 30 minutes is reminiscent of the hard-boiled detective movies of the 70s, a little tiny bit of a Dirty Harry vibe going on. And while the middle gets a bit slow the Home Alone 3: Lost in New Orleans ending is also rather well done. And Richard Gere is quite quite good. While it feels like a rich man’s Steven Seagal movie, you can’t imagine either him, JCVD or Norris pulling off this movie. But Gere does. I was diiiiigging this soundtrack.
  • The Bad – The middle is just blah. And while I can’t tear into Basinger for a ludicrous Cajun accent (she basically didn’t try and do an accent which was … sigh … practical), she wasn’t the best. The bad guys and henchmen feel like they belong in a mediocre Steven Seagal movie as I indicated. But I liked this movie enough that that is it.
  • The BMT – Sing it with me now: It’s not that bad! It’s not that bad! No BMT film, more like a GMW film (Good Movie Wednesday, no one has time to watch two movies in a night, c’mon, I got work). Maybe a front runner for the Freddie Got Fingered “It’s Not That Bad” Smaddie Baddie this year? We’ll have to see. Likely considering we only have three non-2016 films left on the docket. And I agree with Jamie, going through all of the previous surprisingly good movies we’ve watched this one seemed real and less good-for-what-it-is and something I would just kind of accidentally watch on Netflix and like.

Quick game and then we are done. A Sequel/Prequel/Remake might be nice. Sequel. Set today, Gere and Basinger live in a quiet town in Wisconsin, him having been pushed out of the Chicago PD as part of the cover up of his brutal murders committed in New Orleans. Little does he know a little bit of the past has come back to haunt him. After women in the town start going missing he uncovers that it was all a trap laid out by Losado’s brother, fresh from … uh, the Bayou or wherever he was supposed to be from. Time to go back to Algiers to find the kidnapped ladies, and crush the villains who have secretly run the city for centuries. I’m digging it! Cheerios, and back to you Jamie.

Shanghai Surprise Recap

Jamie

Shanghai Surprise! I believe Patrick has a better perspective on this film so I’ll sit quietly over here and just talk a little bit about the book (‘The book?!’ exclaims the crowd, blissfully unaware until that moment that Shanghai Surprise was based on a book that Jamie would read). That’s right, the book. Originally called Faraday’s Flowers, it was written by Tony Kendrick and came out in 1985. For whatever reason (perhaps George Harrison loved the author or something), it was almost immediately optioned and adapted into a film. I ended up having to watch the film first and then read the book for practical reasons. I didn’t think this would be much of a problem since it seemed pretty straightforward from the book jacket synopsis: a man is convinced by a missionary to search for opium in 1937 China and falls in love with her in the process. But when I watched the film I was shocked by some of the more bizarre twists and turns that the storyline took. I presumed that in an attempt to spice up an otherwise incredibly boring film a screenwriter had inserted some weird-ass stuff, right? Wrong. After reading the book it is essentially a straight adaptation (with some of the more explicitly violent and sexual parts cleaned up and the order of events somewhat scrambled). The moral of all this is that you cannot blame the storyline on the filmmakers, the book is just really strange (making it all the stranger that it was targeted for adaptation). Almost Mortdecai level weirdness at times. Now as for Madonna’s horrific acting, Sean Penn’s ridiculously bad hair and makeup, and an overlong and dull storyline? Blame away.

Important day guys. That’s because for the first time since we’ve been doing Settings 101 in the email we have finally arrived at an A+ film. Shanghai Surprise not only opens with a meta-acknowledgement of the setting via intertitle and has the setting play a vital role in all aspects of the film, but also has the name of the setting in the title! I had always kind of assumed that London Has Fallen would be the first film to get the coveted A+, but I obviously forgot that any 1986 cycle would have to include Shanghai Surprise. I feel pretty good about it. It joins When in Rome, Texas Rangers, Bangkok Dangerous, Battle: Los Angeles, Ghosts of Mars, Pompeii, Sweet Home Alabama, The Haunting in Connecticut, and Harlem Nights as our clear A+ BMT settings films. There are some other candidates that would need to be debated (I Dreamed of Africa, Jupiter Ascending, etc.), but those are the solid ones. Congrats everyone. We made it.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Shanghai Surprise? More like Makes Patrick Sigh! And it does. As I watched this film I just sighed to myself and thought “Yup. This is my life”. I don’t really get some of these films. I understand that De Laurentiis was going bankrupt and was throwing shit at the wall when Raw Deal and King Kong Lives was made. That makes sense. But optioning Shanghai Surprise for a Penn / Madonna vehicle with inordinate international filming costs? Bewildering. Let’s get into it.

  • The Good – It seems like most people disagree with me, but I thought the basic storyline here was okay. No joke. I was pretty interested in the happenings for a good third of the film. The soundtrack was bonkers and banging, just so bizarre and weirdly catchy and maybe culturally insensitive. George Harrison is a madman. I can forgive how confusing the film was because it ran like Indiana Jones crossed with a Noir film, Penn is the detective in this scenario, just his skillset is supposed to be that of an adventurer.
  • The Bad – The movie is certainly dull. The back third is bizarre in a bad way with a very annoying businessman who is obsessed with baseball and talks in the third person tagging along for a solid chunk of it. Madonna might be one of the worst things we’ve seen in a BMT film, just a terrible actress. The twist at the end was telegraphed from the beginning. I wrote in my notes: “That guy is actually this other guy, book it”. Don’t be too impressed, it was literally the same actor with a terribly fake mustache on. Speaking of bad facial hair, Penn has bar none the worst makeup for the first twenty minutes of this film as you’ll ever see.
  • The BMT – Hmmmmmm, I’ve kind of psyched myself into this one a bit. I would give it a 25 probably, median BMeTric. The movie is weird, I still don’t quite understand how it has a 3.0 on IMDb, that is just so incredibly low. I just don’t really understand how anyone watches it now and proclaims it as one of the worst movies ever made. It doesn’t feel like one of the worst movies ever made. But I would watch it in a BMT movie marathon. It could sneak into some Worst of the 80s medley or something.

Phew. Let’s see. I wouldn’t want a remake to this film for Sequel / Prequel / Remake, but which would be better, a prequel (outlining the hilarious misadventures of Sean Penn’s character in his trading travels in China) or a sequel (Penn and Madonna as drug kingpins in post-WWII China)? They are both good. So why not both? We’ll get Chris Pratt for the prequel, make it kind of a Indiana Jones in China affair, except as a goof he’s always just inexplicable looking for opium. For the second old-strongman-body Sean Penn will reprise his role and we’ll run it like The Gunman, shaky cam action. Madonna’s character is gunned down in the streets as Penn realizes he’s lost the territory battle for the heroin market in 70s China. Time for some payback. The first will be called Shanghai Surprise: Legacy. The sequel will be called Shanghai Surprise 2: Street War. Oof, these both sound terrible. Netflix, I’m waiting by the phone, I’ll direct it for free.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

King Kong Lives Recap

Jamie

Wow, 1986… it’s unbelievable that King Kong Lives was a major motion picture release from that year. It was released in over 1000 theaters and yet more closely resembles a MST3K film than an actual film. It was horrible. Like if someone told me to write a King Kong script as quickly as I could, this might be what I would come up with as a first draft. There is motivation for NOTHING and the characters are caricatures. Just listen to this plot: the entire film is based on the premise that an Atlanta institution of higher learning is trying to bring King Kong back to life (last seen in 1976’s King Kong falling to his death off the World Trade Center buildings). And yet we have no idea why. They seem to indicate that whatever school obtains and studies the giant ape will somehow skyrocket to the top of the research ranks… but… but… why? It’s never answered. The artificial heart they made to revive him won’t work without a blood transfusion (because apparently Kong merely has heart failure from falling of the WTC) and so they conveniently find a female giant ape and bring her to Georgia. Predictably the two apes escape together and… zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Sorry I fell asleep cause this movie was terrible. Long story short is basically descends into a family drama with a lot of scenes involving the two apes creepily smiling at each other and hugging. Eventually Lady Kong (as she is credited) gives birth to an extraordinarily tiny baby the size of a normal gorilla. God damn! I literally recommend this to no one.

Like all King Kong films, King Kong Lives has a pretty solid setting for Settings 101. In this case we open with a nice intertitle letting us know that the film takes place 10 years after the events of the first film in Atlanta, Georgia at the Atlanta Institute. Whew. That’s a lot of settings for one little intertitle. It’s kind of funny that they made up a school for this film but even funnier that we are supposed to seriously believe that King Kong fell off the WTC, was critically injured, and then survived for ten years waiting for a heart transplant. Jesus. This film is a mess. It’s setting is not though. It rockets to a B- by simply nodding to the audience and acknowledging that we are in George. Atlanta is mentioned a few more times, but not enough to get up to B level. Ever since introducing Settings 101 we’ve actually had shockingly few films where the setting was difficult to ascertain. Convinces me that if we went back to the older films we could find a lot of hidden gems. Maybe even a Delaware or South Dakota that the world has yet to discover (it’s my dream).

Patrick

King Kong Lives? Well they should have let this movie die! Booooom, NY Post you did it again! We watched what some people might call a movie. Other people might refer to it as something more akin to lighting millions of dollars on fire. Let’s get into it.

  • The Good – Not much. At times the enormous animatronics are impressive. I would also say the two lead actors perform admirably all things considered.
  • The Bad – What the Sound of Thunder is to bad CGI, King Kong Lives is to bad practical effects. Not only is this three years after Return of the Jedi as far as CGI is concerned, it is also four years after The Thing, a pinnacle of practical effect magic! We don’t like to harp on story too too much, but this is legit the absolute worst storyline you will watch outside of non-films like The Room. They are replacing King Kong’s heart ten years after his fall from the World Trade Center? He’s been in a coma for ten years!? They happen to find a female just in time?!? I’m not sure what happened in 1986, but there is something wrong with the movies they produced in that year. Oh wait, now I remember, this is the year of Maximum Overdrive … so cocaine happened.
  • The BMT – In my opinion, no. It is very strange, but the Official Razzie Movie Guide features this movie and claims it is “hilarious”. But it is hilarious in the same way White Comanche with William Shatner is hilarious. You go: “Oh, hilarious, William Shatner is playing a half Native American and his own twin …. Welp this movie is boring”. Somehow this one weird ludicrous thing is supposed to sustain entertainment for hours, but for me it usually doesn’t. In this case? The absurd creepy smiles on the giant apes’ faces are supposed to be the clinchers. The apes are certainly funny for as few minutes. One hundred minutes though? Yeah, not so much. Boring movie, straight up. Although it is kind of fun it a Mystery Science Theater kind of way. Needs a commentary I think. Without it you’ll be left wondering “what am I doing with my life”. You can put that on the poster!

I’ll try to keep the game short. I was going to try and make a prediction about this film, but turns out a prediction of “this will be a garbage non-film and I will hate it” is no fun. So let’s remake the film! Sequel / Prequel / Remake: First, no Kong surviving. Garbage. No, instead, a research team has been scouring the world looking for evidence of other Kongs. Indeed, the extent to which the Skull Island inhabitants worshipped the Kong suggested its kind must have been around for many years prior to his death. And they succeed, a female Kong is located and brought back to the states. But the research team’s intentions are less than honorable! Indeed, they plan on dissecting and experimenting on the Kong in an attempt to unlock the secret to its gigantism and age. Upon the discovery that the Kong is pregnant a primatologist who accompanied the team frees the Kong into the wild. A chase occurs down the California coastline whereby the Kong, ultimately surrounded and on the verge of death, gives birth and dies (mirroring the ending of the first film). The idea would be a trilogy with the third continuing this story with the child. Would it be great? Prob not, but at least you cut out the ludicrous heart surgery storyline.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Raw Deal Recap

Jamie

Whenever I watch a BMT film I try to put it in context of what we’ve watched before (or in the cases of adaptations/sequels what had come before it). In the case of a fairly mediocre, original action film like Raw Deal that can leave me at a bit of a loss for my initial reaction to the film. The one single thing that stood out for me with the film was the excessive violence committed by Arnold. Not only does he have a terrible home life (his wife is a drunk who hates him), but then he proceeds to fake his own death and kill approximately 40 people throughout the film. It was strange. It was very 80’s in the sense of “these criminals deserve to die and Arnold is fully justified in doling out retribution against them.” If you had to put it into context you’d have to compare it to the Sly Stallone classic Cobra that came out the same year. Obviously Cobra is a lot more hilarious than Raw Deal because Sly wrote it and he’s insane, but they do share that sense of retribution. The other odd thing they share is Sly and Arnold both harping on dietary health. They both tell people they shouldn’t be eating certain things at certain times. Very weird and very 80’s (which is how you can describe all the films this cycle).

Settings 101! This is a very Chicago film. It’s mentioned very frequently regarding the mob boss and you get some really nice scenes with the Chicago skyline. Additionally, since Arnold is undercover with a mob boss, the Chicago PD is featured prominently in the film, which provides a number of vehicles with “Chicago” printed on the side. However, there is nothing about Chicago in the film that takes it from a setting to a Setting. This could have been set in LA or Miami without missing a beat. So this is pretty clearly a C+ film. I feel like that might actually be the most common grade we’ll end up seeing: the film where the setting is mentioned numerous times, but doesn’t become integral to the plot.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! The only people who got a Raw Deal was the audience! YouknowwhatImean?! Uh, so yeah. Up until this point the cycles this year were killing it. We hit classic after classic to the point where I got bored with how classically bad everything was and I nearly forgot about the dire mapl.d.map cycles of yore. Well we are back. Somehow 1986 is just terrible for bad movies. The ones that are well know are barely movies and just dull, and there just aren’t a lot of them. And honestly, the future for the cycle doesn’t look bright. Bear with us and revel in the fact that this is our lives and not yours. Sigh. Let’s get into it.

  • The Good – I thought Arnold was fine. I thought the main story was okay. It didn’t seem to go too over the top with the organized crime stuff, although it was a bit crazy in how they portray Arnold going undercover among people who are literal maniacs. That is about it.
  • The Bad – Pretty boring and the action was nothing to really write home about. The screenplay is horrible, with a ton of WTF lines sprinkled throughout. The ending is somewhat unbelievable since Arnold literally goes around killing people and the local police and FBI just shrug their shoulders and say “good for you man, you killed all the baddies”. The immediate ending it laughable just from the perspective of Arnold making his former boss walk again through sheer willpower.
  • The BMT – No, the movie is first and foremost probably a little too good. It isn’t a completely terrible movie beyond the screenplay which is an atrocity. But mostly it is just forgettable and a bit boring. If you aren’t paying attention it is confusing and if you are paying attention it is boring. And it isn’t like Arnold is somehow hilarious, he does a fine job. Just kind of blah.

Time for another Sklog-trospective. In this case what I noted in the preview was how interesting it was that two very accomplished Spaghetti Western writers are credited with a story credit. And indeed, you could imagine the film as a western. A former US Marshall disgraced after killing a suspect on the run operates as a small town sheriff on the frontier. His former partner comes to tell him a gang has been terrorizing a local area and has killed his son (also a US Marshall) and he’s looking to do a little off-the-record vengeance. The sheriff agrees and joins up with the band under the guise of criminal looking for a little action. Ultimately, the sheriff deals out some bloody justice in an extended shootout in his town, and rejoins the Marshalls, who are grateful for the help. Totally plausible. I would watch that (especially if it starred Arnold).

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Golden Child Recap

Jamie

I feel like if The Golden Child were to have aired on Comedy Central during my childhood I would have come away with very fond memories of it. It had all the things that I loved as a kid: the occasional joke, some mystical shit, and interesting exotic settings. It’s like a really shitty Indiana Jones… except my child brain wouldn’t have recognized the “shitty” part and would have just thought it was “like Indiana Jones.” Unfortunately that’s really the only particularly good thing about it: that I might have liked it as a child. Even the things I would have liked are things that my adult brain recognizes as being incredibly strange. These include a surreal dream sequence, an opening montage that better fit a music video than an actual film, monster-human characters straight out of Masters of the Universe, and a part-animated finale. Just weird shit. The weirdest thing though is a scene where the main villain totally flubs a line and they chose to leave it in the film. I couldn’t tell why. It’s not even a funny flub. He just stumbles over a line and they kept it in. It’s a BMysTery that will probably never be solved: why is there a blooper left in the final cut of The Golden Child. The world will never know. Funny enough I don’t think all the weird stuff even sunk the film at the time (it was the 80s after all). I think it just wasn’t that funny. It reads as one of those films that had a serious script with random [Eddie Improvises] notes throughout. Like Beverly Hills III. Just hope that a not funny movie can be made funny enough… and it wasn’t.

Settings 101! Settings 101! It’s become a staple of the first part of the email (along with Audio Sklog-entary, when applicable) to the point where it really isn’t even a game at this point. It’s simply part of life. The Golden Child was pretty sweet for Settings. Not really because the main setting was super important, but rather because the secondary locations (Nepal and Tibet) are rare enough that this would fit nicely into an international mapl.de.map (whenever we choose to start that). As for the main location, it was established in quick order that Eddie Murphy lives and operates in Los Angeles. How do we know? In the opening of the film there is a crazytown montage of Murphy carousing around LA. There are flashes of major landmarks (Pink’s, Randy’s Donuts, and a triple take of the Hollywood sign), along with mentions of Hollywood, California license plates, and LA addresses. Also Eddie Murphy works closely with the LAPD. Basically there is as much conversing about LA as a setting as possible, without explicitly acknowledging the setting to the audience directly. On top of this, there is nothing about the setting that makes it important to the film. Could have very easily been San Fran and nothing really would have changed. I believe this is a clear C+ film, and I love it for it.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! The Golden Child? More like Cold and Mild! Amirite? Because I mean … this movie is weird. Like just … let’s get into it.

  • The Good – 80’s Murphy is charming in almost any circumstance. He is incredibly charming in this movie. The storyline is vaguely interesting, especially how they go hard sci fi / fantasy throughout.
  • The Bad – The movie is boring. It also just kind of meanders around. And bar none this is one of the worst endings to a movie in the history of BMT. Spoiler Alert! Murphy’s love interest dies and everyone is just like “go get the Golden Child, he can cure her”. So he’s like “okay” then drives around LA for like 10 minutes, see a Tibetan bird, and is like sweet. Upon arriving at the hideout he then just kind of scoops the kid up and the bad guy becomes a stop-motion animated demon and just kind of pesters them on their drive to save the lady. It was nonsense and kind of ruined a somewhat pleasant if boring diversion otherwise.
  • The BMT – It is kind of strange to me that this is so crazy derided among critics. A BOMB Leonard? Really? Not even the Murphy charm adds a little half star there? It seems like they were aiming at Beverly Hills Buddha or something along those lines, where a ton of the humor is just Murphy using his street wiles in a fish out of water type situation. And I can appreciate it. I could see myself using the endings in bad movie examples going forward, but to me it was below average for BMT as a whole. It is just boring, not bad in any tangible way.

I’m going to introduce a new series to the email that, like Jamie’s Settings 101, can be done each time. This I’m calling Sklog-trospective. Basically I record a thought before the film, something I was particularly interested in from the last preview, and then explain it and any thoughts in the recap. This time what I was particularly interested in was the director of The Golden Child, Michael Ritchie. The Golden Child was interesting because of its success and large budget to an extent, but I personally found the director to be an enigma. Critics specifically mention how scattershot his directing choices are. He goes from weird niche horror, to pageant mockumentary, to the Fletch series. He worked consistently, but only really met with middling success. It is a strange story, one that I couldn’t quite cut through in my research. After watching the film … the man is an experimentalist at heart. The beginning to The Golden Child is a sight to behold. A frenetic portrayal of LA mixed with repeated clips of Murphy laughing or putting up signs or ogling ladies. And it was a precursor to the film. Stop motion animation is used twice. A very strange dream sequence introduces Murphy to the bad guys. The entire movie kind of makes no sense and is barely held together by Murphy’s improvisation alone. The direction in this film is a major issue, and it only makes me more fascinated by Ritchie. I’ve seen almost none of his films, but I might have to check out a few others just to see what they are like.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs