The Ring Two Recap

Jamie

Samara is back, Jack! Following the events of the first film, Rachel and Aiden Keller move to Oregon to start anew. It’s not long though before the rapidly spreading video virus finds them again and Aiden is possessed by Samara hoping to regain a physical form. Can Rachel battle to save her son and put Samara to rest before it’s too late? Find out in… The Ring Two.

What?! We pick up about 6 months after the events of the first film. Rachel and Aiden have moved to a small Oregon town where Rachel takes over as editor of the local paper. Everything seems to be going well until a report comes in about a disturbing death of a local teen. It sounds eerily similar to Samara’s MO, which Rachel confirms by going to the scene of the crime. Oh no! She’s found them! The next night Aiden dreams of Samara and is totes possessed by her. When Aiden starts to show serious health concerns related to demonic possession (naturally), Rachel seeks to help of her coworker, who immediately is like “WTF, mate. Get this kid to a hospital. And put some more shrimp on the barbie.” Rachel refuses, but when Samara tricks her into almost killing Aiden, her coworker is like “I didn’t sign up for this shit,” and takes control of the situation (or so he thinks). Realizing that she needs to go figure out another piece of the Samara puzzle she finds Samara’s mother, Evelyn, in a psychiatric hospital and is told to listen to Aiden if she wants him to survive. Returning to Astoria she finds that Aiden has violently escaped the hospital and killed her coworker. In her sleep she dreams that Aiden tells her to drown him and so she drugs him and places him in the bathtub after which Samara leaves his body. Hoping to destroy her once and for all she follows Samara to her TV home and locks her back in her well. THE END.

Why?! I mean, Samara is pure evil so we don’t need to delve too deep into her motivations. It would be fun if they were more mundane (Samara just wants that big promotion at work!), but alas she’s just pure evil. As for Rachel she just wants to escape Samara. When that turns out to be impossible, though, she decides that she must trap Samara for good instead.

What?! While there isn’t much product placement in this (probably some cars and stuff), I did find a moment in the very beginning somewhat amusing. The opening deals with the teenager who dies in Astoria trying to convince an unsuspecting girl to watch his copy of the tape. He kinda makes it seem like he’s into her and the whole situation is a date and as part of his seductive dance he asks if she wants a drink. Of course she does, the hottest guy in school seems into her. Duh. Out he pops from the kitchen with what I swear is a SoBe… bad move, dude. SoBe tastes like trash. She was probably already looking for the exits before you even broached the subject of the death video.

Who?! There isn’t really something to go here. No Planchet and no credits of note. So let’s do a short meditation on who Samara is as a monster. In this film we basically get the whole backstory: her mother claimed to be impregnated by a water demon and when the child is born Samara never cries and steadily drives her mother insane. Samara is adopted and continues to drive everyone around her insane with terrible visions. She never sleeps and these visions never stop until Samara is thrown down a well and sealed inside. This limits her influence until Rachel frees her in The Ring allowing her the freedom to attempt to possess Aiden. It really is a solid backstory, particularly the idea that the demon Samara never sleeps and the child she possessed is forever asleep within. I think both Patrick and I would have liked to see them play with that “water demon” idea of it at some point (and also opens a possibility for ultimate closure). But through three entries it’s kept fairly vague.

Where?! I love this setting as it so specifically narrows in on a random town in Oregon that actually exists. Rachel and Aiden move just over the Washington border into Astoria. It’s actually a well known filming location acting also as the setting for The Goonies and Kindergarten Cop. This is a B+, but the whole series borders on an A because of how entrenched in the Northwest it all is.

When?! This is almost a secret holiday film as we get to see some commercials for Memorial Day on TV. That can only really be used for a bound, though, as they are all preparing for an upcoming long weekend without being more specific. We also see a prescription fill date for May 5th so that gives up a nice three week window to work with. Had to work for it. C-.

The first part of this film is horrific. Everything looks cheap and shitty and took a step towards One Missed Call rather than keep up with the slick appearance of the Gore Verbinski original. This culminates in a 20 minute flea market scene that was only horrifying in how dull and terrible it all was. Then a weird thing happens. The film shifts into the well-worn child possession territory and almost immediately becomes much better. There are lots of films ruined by the end (the classic being that the entire film was a dream or something equally dumb), but ruined by the beginning is much rarer. Could it be that we found one of these gems? Maybe. Still a pretty significant step back from the original in almost every way, not just in the beginning. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! You are the brilliant mind who brought J-Horror to the American masses. They. Went. Bananas. And you made the big bucks. What’s next for the Golden Boy (that’s what your coworkers call you)? Well … I mean, let’s just make that thing again right? There’s like a sequel and a book and everything, this should be easy … right? Golden Boy! Let’s go!

The Good (Sequel / Prequel / Remake) – The second half of this movie is kind of alright if you like The Ring. It is very similar. A investigative journalist needs to go investigating and encounters a spooooooky ghost. She barely knows what she’s doing and mostly causes trouble until she doesn’t (hooray!). That is the same as the first movie. And if you like thriller investigative films they both work shockingly well in that regard. So let’s imagine a Remake where the beginning of this film isn’t a complete pile of garbage. At the end of the first film Naomi Watts, Rachel, had just helped Samara (whoops) and presumably murdered someone to save her son. Honestly I think you pick up where you left off. She’s discovered the secret to saving oneself from Samara’s wrath, but there is an open question as to how to end Samara once and for all. Her method of saving herself is revealed to the world by Beth, Noah’s live-in girlfriend, which ultimately leads to an ever multiplying virus of tapes spreading across Washington. Rachel chases down as many of them as possible, but the desperate victims start to fight her influenced by the growing power of Samara. Realizing it is too late to stop the spread Rachel goes for the source, the convent that Samara (with demon in tow) was conceived and born. Can Rachel stop Samara? Or will Rachel, like a doofus, end up helping Samara achieve her ultimate desire: to be reborn again into another human vessel?

The Bad (Sklog-cabulary Quiz) – The first half of this film is garbage, but you knew that already. They never bother to address one of the weirdest mysteries of the entire series: why does this little girl demon live on a video tape? What are the rules even all about? Given it can be summed up as “it was an allegory for how technology is slowly killing us all” I think they basically gave that little mystery a pass (beyond perhaps that was her way of passing her “visions” to people far from her well-prison). The movie isn’t scary, although that is kind of expected given the first one wasn’t scary either. And finally, despite liking the second half of the film, it is pretty derivative of many films that came before it. It is basically a run of the mill child gets possessed by a demon tale. For the Sklog-cabulary Quiz I think I’ll note an interesting aspect of both the second and third Rings series which I’ll call:

The Janus Device (n.) – A plot device which acts to split a film into two disparate entities. Each half of the film can be viewed almost independently, often with distinct tones, settings, and plots.

In BMT the most famous Janus Device was from The Guardian where Ashton Kutcher’s graduation from the Coast Guard Academy perfectly splits the film into two parts. The first part sees Kutcher (aka Goldfish) butting heads with Kevin Costner among the sultry Louisiana bayou. The second half sees Kutcher (aka Speedboat) best of pals with Costner among the freezing waters of Kodiak, Alaska. Here you see basically a bunch of throwaway jump scares until Watts son lands in the hospital sick with possession. From there it kicks right back into The Ring territory, complete with changing the setting from Astoria, Oregon back to Seattle, Washington. The movie was clearly just over written by several different crews.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – I think this has got legs that go on for days my friends. I am officially a fan of J Horror. I was to watch more and get to know them. And I think I’ll try my very best to get BMT to give that to me. Stay tuned. As far as street cred, well it did get two nomination at both the Golden Schmoes (Worst Film and Biggest Disappointment) and the Stinkers Bad Movie Awards (Worst Sequel and Least Scary Horror Film). But as far as I can tell this kind of flew under the critical radar. I think it is great, whatever.

I’ll leave that there because this one is already enormous. I’ll cover The Ring in more detail in the recap for Rings.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Recap

Jamie

Years after the vanquishing of Davy Jones, our famed anti-hero Jack Sparrow finds himself on the trail of the Fountain of Youth. In an untrustworthy alliance with the infamous Blackbeard he is being chased by the Spanish and by Barbossa, now in the service of the King. Will they get the treasure before it’s too late? Find out in… Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

What?! We open in England where Jack is in search of a ship to get him back on track to search for the famed Fountain of Youth. He finds that he’s not the only one currently in search of the treasure, as Barbossa, now a profiteer for England, and the Spanish are also in pursuit. Hearing rumors of another pirate posing as Jack Sparrow he comes across a former beau, Angelica, who captures him. Once on board he realizes that his has been taken prisoner in service of Blackbeard, famed psychopath and dear ol’ dad to Angelica. Oh no! Much like characters in an old school adventure game of the past, Jack and Blackbeard need to collect a number of specific items to make the MacGuffin… er… Fountain of Youth work. These include several other MacGuffins, including a mermaid’s tears and some silver chalices. Once they collect these in a series of exciting misadventures and arrive at the Fountain, it turns into an outright brawl between Blackbeard and Barbossa’s crews. This brawl is ended by the arrival of the Spanish who promptly destroy the Fountain as sinful. In a final act of revenge Barbossa mortally wounds both Blackbeard and Angelica. With only one dose of the Fountain left to save either father or daughter, Jack tricks Blackbeard knowing that his selfish ways would doom him and save Angelica. Upon his death everyone is happy because he sucked. THE END.

Why?! This is easily the most straightforward of the Pirates of the Caribbean films and as a result the motivations are also fairly straightforward. Blackbeard wants to cheat his recently foretold death by drinking from the Fountain of Youth, Barbossa wants to kill Blackbeard for sweet revenge, and the Spanish want to destroy the Fountain. So the race is on! As for our hero Jack Sparrow, his motivation doesn’t change much in the series. He’s happy as long as he is sailing the open seas on his beloved Black Pearl, but there is always an undercurrent of a desire for immortality. That’s basically the premise of the first three films: how can Jack Sparrow sail the open seas for eternity? It’s hinted that that’s the reason he wants to get to the Fountain, but this all falls apart once the climactic melee ensues. This motivation is why I’m pretty sure there will be at least a sixth Pirates of the Caribbean film.

What?! Each entry in the series seems to ratchet up the MacGuffin level one more notch. By the time they get the fourth one we have a film based entirely on finding the Fountain of Youth that needs several other objects to work. While an ideal MacGuffin is something we don’t know or need to know the actual function of (we obviously know how the reason the Fountain is important in this case), this is still a great set of MacGuffins.

Who?! Have to give a shout out to Author Tim Powers (one of the fathers of Steampunk) who got a “Suggested by” credit for this film on the basis of his pirate adventure novel On Stranger Tides. Apparently the book was a major influence on the Monkey Island games as well. Funny story is that when Disney approached Powers about optioning the book for the fourth film he was surprised because he had thought they had already lifted elements from it for the first film.

Where?! Is the entire Pirates of the Caribbean series an A+? I say no, not precise enough. Like saying Here on Earth is an A+. On top of that they are never specific as to where in the Caribbean they are most of the time. Booo. I deem this a C- only because they are specifically in England at the start.

When?! I’m not going to be able to put an exact date on this, but it is interesting that this film give a basic time frame for the entire series. Takes place during the reigns of King Ferdinand of Spain, King George II, Prime Minister Henry Pelham, and Lord John Carteret. Sets it between 1751 and 1754. That’s a tight D- and funny because the wikipedia page says it takes place in 1750. Read yo history wikipedia. I would place it in 1751.

To finish up the recap I’ll just mention that the first film in the series not to feature Gore Verbinski at the helm really took a step back technologically and overall stuntwork. If there were three things I looked for in a Pirates of the Caribbean film it was cutting edge visual technology, some jokes from our charismatic lead Jack Sparrow, and grand and complex stunts. This basically went backwards on all three. Not great.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Johnny Depp has been calling you day in and day out. Constantly. You don’t want to do it, but you know one thing: Johnny Depp wants his money, and he wants it now. So I guess we’re making a fourth one. Get the giant set piece assembled, we get to deal with this thing again. Let’s go!

The Good (BMulTiverse Theories) – Something about this series gets me every time. I don’t understand it. They all start the same (a giant set piece action scene with Johnny Depp flying around with tons of practical effects), they get more and more ridiculous, Depp is a caricature at this point … but I like it. Something about it entertains me in a different way than Transformers (which at this point just annoys me). I like Penelope Cruz, and I forgot how much Jack Sparrow doesn’t really annoy me (it is perplexing given how other characters, like Mortdecai, are very similar and extremely grating). I didn’t mind the movie, I actually quite liked how they scaled the story back compared to the second and third film. I’m going to introduce a new game here called the BMulTiverse Theory. Similar to Sklognalogy, this looks into a different film and re-imagines what might have been given a different sequence of events. In this case the Pirates franchise reminds me of what I imagine a modern day Indiana Jones would have looked like. Sprawling sets with elaborate practical effects. Magical realism, a charming lead, all presented as a period piece. We’d be sitting at five or six Indiana Jones right now, the stories getting more and more ridiculous. Trust me, it would be the same, and we’d all be complaining about how trite the character of Indiana Jones is at this point.

The Bad (Sklog-cabulary Quiz) – The film is far too long. I love Ian McShane, but Blackbeard failed to bring any of the charm or interest that a villain needs in this series. The entire thing seemed very linear, almost comically McGuffin-esque. Half the characters only speak in order to explain things about the Fountain of Youth as all of the characters directly and unyieldingly march toward this inevitable goal. Let’s try out a new Sklog-cabulary Quiz. For Pirates of the Caribbean I think I’ll note something that is also present in the aforementioned Indiana Jones series, the:

Rube Goldberg Action Sequence – (n.) An action sequence that accomplishes by complex means what seemingly could be done simply.

A mark of the Pirates franchise in which Johnny Depp flies across chandeliers or sword fights on a giant wheel, it is really impressive when done correctly. It actually isn’t really a bad movie trope since you need a crazy amount of money to pull it off, but it is something the sticks out about the Pirates franchise.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – On Stranger Tides won’t really have any legacy, although the franchise as a whole could have a place if a sixth is made. A double trilogy where the second trilogy was torn apart by critics would be rather fun. This actually does have a bit of street cred. It is listed as the 20th worst film of the year here. Otherwise it kind of falls to the wayside in a very very impressive bad movie year. It is the year of Jack and Jill, but just look at the razzies that year. Very impressive lists all around.

I’ll leave it there because we have a whole other recap to get to.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Baywatch Recap

Jamie

Mitch Buchannon is a lifeguard extraordinaire protecting all Emerald Bay visitors from harm. When a ruthless businesswoman moves in hoping to privatize the beach and sell illicit drugs, Mitch and his crew aim to stop her. Can they bring down the baddie and learn valuable life lessons at the same time? Find out in… Baywatch.

How?! Mitch Buchannon runs the beach at Emerald Bay like a boss and everyone loves him for it. When a ruthless businesswoman moves in on the beach hoping to privatize it Mitch becomes suspicious. What is she up to and does the recent influx of street drugs have anything to do with her? He’s dead set on finding out. At the same time his crew is looking for three new members and after some political maneuvering disgraced olympian Matt Brody is thrust onto the team despite his sour attitude and general douchiness. After several high-profile bodies wash up on the beach, local officials blame Mitch and his obsession with the businesswoman which they say has driven him to distraction. Despite a large amount of circumstantial evidence they have uncovered he is replaced by Matt Brody as head lifeguard. This plan backfires though as Matt turns out to have learned the meaning of family and teamwork (the underlying theme of every Dwayne Johnson film) and continued Mitch’s detective work. This culminates in a climactic fight aboard a fireworks barge where they are able to blow the evil businesswoman to smithereens and uncover the larger conspiracy involving the corrupt local officials. If this doesn’t sound at all like the plot of a comedy it’s because it isn’t. It’s an action film that they turned into a comedy… or at least tried. THE END.

Why?! The Rock is an interesting actor in that I think he’s often used as a charisma machine to fill roles with little or no underlying motivations or character depth. He is simply an empty vessel filled with honor and truth. His greatest weakness always seems to be that he cares too much about honor and truth (also my greatest weakness, per any job interview I might have). Baywatch is no different. He just wants to stop the bad guy and keep the beach safe because he is a perfect, upstanding citizen of Emerald Bay. The more interesting character is actually Efron’s character. He suuuuuuucks. He care only about getting drunk and being lauded for his olympics feats of the past. This only changes once he is able to learn a thing or two about life and love from Mitch. Once he does his motivation is also all about truth and justice.

What?! This film is an absolute onslaught of product placements. First we have a TAG Heuer watch play a vital role in the plot of the film. It’s such a good watch that an upstanding local politician is persuaded to break the law just to get his hands on it. Then we have The Rock relegated to working in a Sprint store after losing his job at the beach. Like seriously. Here’s a picture of The Rock rocking a Sprint shirt in the movie:

BaywatchRecap1

Shameless. But I think my favorite was when Zac Efron, showing that he’s too cool for school, sits out the lifeguard tryouts sipping on a delicious Mike’s Hard Lemonade… when I first saw it I thought it was going to be played for a joke. Then it wasn’t and I realized that he was just hanging and drinking it unironically. Unironically!!!!!

Who?! There are a number of cameos in the film, most prominently former Baywatch stars David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson. Their cameos are done pretty well compared to something like the new Ghostbusters film where they make no sense. Much like the rest of the film they serve a singular purpose: to poke fun at the premise of the original Baywatch.

Where?! By all accounts this takes place in Emerald Bay, Florida. I didn’t necessarily notice anything to confirm this while watching the film, but there are a bunch of pictures online with the lifeguard boat with “Broward County” prominently displayed. So that does it. C.

When?! Another case where I bet if you had a really high resolution of a film then you would be able to get an exact date. In particular there is a close up of a land deed that I’m sure has the date on it, but the DVD resolution makes it impossible to figure out. It’s an F, nothing else to be done about it.

Despite everything horrible about this film I actually expected worse. It had some amusing moments, played the action well, and the leads are dopes but you want them to succeed. It is super lame, just not as lame as I thought it would be. One big question this raised, though, was how we are still at the point where several jokes in a major motion picture are based entirely on the concept of gay panic? A whole scene devoted to the hilariousness of convincing a man to touch a guy’s balls? Really? An ending where Efron is shocked and horrified to find that he is getting CPR from The Rock? He is saving your life using the medical standard in resuscitation. Why are you yelling in terror as a result? Will we ever be beyond this? Seems like the answer might be no. Can’t wait to be further baffled in this area by CHiPs, which I’ve heard is even worse. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! You’re a producer looking wistfully at the office memo concerning the cast party for 22 Jump Street. No, you are not invited, and yes you are pissed about this. What can you do though? Wait! Sweet IP! Of course, you just need some of that sweet IP. We got Baywatch right? That show was ridiculous. Nailed it. Cast party with The Rock incoming, what could go wrong? Let’s get into it!

The Good (Sequel, Prequel, Remake) – Honestly, the film is kind of fun. They are right there on the cusp of being okay I think, just needed to not hire literally seven writers to write the thing and they would have been fine. The action scenes are on point and by far the best part of this film. I was practically on charisma overload with The Rock and Efron. And they didn’t gross me out too much with the portrayal of women, which was a pleasant surprise. I want a Remake with a twist: give me a tv show! Make it a kind of half-serious melodrama action thing. Use the template of Riverdale, brand it as a kind of self-serious (but still secretly ironic) crime serial that takes place on the beach, and try your best to kind of knowingly build up something fun. It is a difficult maneuver, but I think that is where this movie shined. If it had pumped the brakes a bit on the comedy (which was the worst part of the film) it might have had something kind of Fast and the Furious like fun. But I acknowledge that it is a tough ask.

The Bad (Sklog-cabulary Quiz) – The character of Ronnie which was supposed to kind of be an audience stand-in who lampshades the rest of the ridiculousness, but he is really the one thing that stands in the way of this film just going for being an action film instead of an action-comedy. The comedy bits are the worst part of the film. Part stupid dick-jokes, part gay panic, basically nothing works. And the root cause of this I think is Ronnie who, acting as straight man, makes everything comedic in comparison. Ronnie also serves as the “hacker” solving all of the problems right at the end, which it itself a crime. Really the only unforgivable bit of all of those is the gay panic. It is dumb this is still a thing in comedies in 2017. I’m introducing a new game for the bad section which is where I coin a term for a bad movie trope. Perhaps coin is inaccurate, I don’t actually check to see if the term is coined elsewhere, but it should highlight a bad movie idea of some kind anyways. This week for the Sklog-cabulary Quiz we have

Deus Ex Hackina (n.) – an unexpected computer hacking power saving a seemingly hopeless situation, especially as a contrived plot device in a terrible movie.

It is basically what I described above, it is when a character is endowed with a special “hacking” ability that allows him or her to solve everyone’s problems all at once right at the end. Otherwise known as “Ronnie from Baywatch”, who manages to not only gather a ton of incriminating evidence to prove the baddies are bad, but they also foil their getaway by (not joking) hacking a fireworks display. Geostorm actually gives a decent example as well in the character of Dana played by Zazi Beetz, and I’m sure there are countless other examples.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – As usual these are a little tough for recent films. For legacy I think this has none unless an (unlikely) sequel is made. We might look back fondly at Ronnie as the origin of our thoughts on Deus Ex Hackina events though (much like Planchet from The Three Musketeers represents the idea of a tangential character whose sole purpose is to be made fun of by the main characters) For the street cred it has a bit because it can be grouped with future-BMT CHiPs as kind of a weird situation in which people started to reboot television shows again. But of that pair CHiPs is going to be the one people look at as more terrible.

I think that’s it. Nothing to report as far as homework is concern, I chose not to watch any of the original Baywatch television show in prep. I’ll see if I decide to watch any CHiPs in a few months. I probably won’t.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs