Ernest Goes to Jail Recap

Jamie

Ernest is back, Jack! Right? It’s the same guy each time? Anyway, unbeknownst to Ernest he has a doppelganger on death row. A fateful turn on jury duty unexpectedly gets them switched and his whole life is turned upside down when he’s stuck in jail. Can he escape, stop the criminal, and get the girl before it’s too late? Find out in… Ernest Goes to Jail.

How?! Meet Ernest P. Worrell. A dim but well-meaning janitor at a bank. Everyone there loves him and wants him to succeed as a future bank teller except the cranky president of the bank. Booooooo. Oh and he also becomes magnetic whenever he is electrocuted instead of dying. Not sure why. Anyway, in a wild coincidence he is called to jury duty for the trial of a toady for a local crime lord, Nash, who is just days away from his time in the electric chair and is an exact doppelganger for our poor Ernest. Realizing an opportunity the criminal convinces the judge to allow the jury to tour the prison during which the crime lord pulls the ol’ switcheroo and leaves poor Ernest in his place. Double boooo. While Ernest tries to navigate the hilarious world of maximum security prison, Nash is planning to rob the bank, sexually assault Ernest’s very kind female coworker (and love interest?), and probably do a whole bunch of other nasty stuff. Ernest attempts to escape to no avail, only to find that when they try to electrocute him it merely imbues him with super electromagnetic powers. With said powers he blows that joint (with the help of a prisoner with a heart of gold, Lyle) and gets to the bank just in time to try to stop Nash from blowing the vault and killing his coworkers. An all-out brawl ensues ending with Ernest once again getting electrocuted, gaining the ability to fly via polarization, and flying the bomb into the night sky where it appears he is killed. However, he falls back to Earth right on top of Nash, incapacitating him for good and then smash cut. THE END.

Why?! I’m actually not sure… I think it has something to do with the American dream. Like sure Ernest is dumb, but he’s nice and works hard, so shouldn’t that count for something? Interestingly they don’t make any claim that Ernest is actually good at his job despite his shortcomings. In fact they make it clear that he is quite bad at it. A convicted killer on death row comes straight out of jail and is so much better than Ernest at his job that he is immediately offered the promotion that Ernest has been trying hard to get. It’s actually kinda sad when you think about it.

Who?! Big time shout out to the true friend Ernest met in Jail, Lyle. He’s a big enforcer type who turns out to have a heart of gold (and an unrivaled mane of hair). The actor was actually former professional kickboxer and heavyweight boxer Tex Cobb. He’s probably best known for getting absolutely destroyed by Larry Holmes in an unlikely title fight. Some interesting rumors surrounded his career, including some drug and gambling stuff that was allegedly connected to his sudden retirement from the sport in 1993 and a claim that he was supposed to be the opponent for Muhammad Ali’s last fight but broke his arm saving a friend from a bar fight and had to back out.

What?! In some ways you can think of the entire franchise as a product placement. Ernest started as a character used in a number of commercials and eventually he himself became the product. Ironically once that became the point all the products in this film are cartoon versions and not real product placements.

Where?! Unsurprisingly, given Ernest’s roots, this film is set in the great state of Tennessee. Even if it weren’t predictable, it’s made clear at the very least by the Tennessee license plates on some of the main characters’ cars. C.

When?! This is actually a funny question. There is a calendar in Ernest/Nash’s cell with dates being crossed off, but there doesn’t seem to be much indication of what month the calendar is supposed to represent. Likely this is just a prop calendar, but I like to think that it is actually a nonspecific generic calendar that they give prisoners. You do see a January 1990 calendar hanging in the bank. Again likely just grabbed a prop and hung it up to the first page, but gotta assume the bank is actively using the calendar and it’s accurate. KnowhutImean? B-

So I watched Ernest’s “friend” Escape Plan: Hades first and that film is a whole bunch of nonsense. At times I thought they were speaking a different language or something because it was hard to follow exactly what was happening. It looked nice, though, with its fancy robots and fancy prison and fancy fight scenes. But it’s all fluff and was actually pretty boring. As if they didn’t really care to make a comprehensible film, but rather just an entry in their visual portfolio so they could try to get an even bigger and fancier job. I can certainly see why it didn’t go to theaters. As for Ernest, I daresay I actually kinda enjoyed myself. Ernest is just a silly character and his schtick lands quite often as he mugs and goes off on some overly-serious monologue on acting or business or the like. I can understand why I liked the films as a kid even if I almost definitely didn’t understand how crazy the attempted sexual assault by Nash is or the fact that Ernest is nearly executed via electric chair. Probably a full twenty minutes where the film starts to venture into the twilight zone away from the harmless fun that otherwise makes the franchise what it is: enjoyable stupidity. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Sometimes I forget that the Ernest films were a real thing. Like … if my parents had told me that it was some Canadian TV movie and that no one else had seen it I would have just shrugged and said “yeah makes sense”. But it isn’t … this was released to over 1000 theaters in 1990. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I watched the trailer, and made the notes, and read the reviews … but I still had a sneaking suspicion I would like this film. Why? First because I watched it as a kid. Something about Ernest must just remind me of simpler times. But more important I’ve watched Ernest Goes to Camp more recently, about 7 years ago, and I thought that was actually a lot better than you might think. I was sure I was going to think the same thing here.

The Good – Ernest is goofy harmless silliness. Varney himself is top notch, with both the physicality necessary for a kids’ movie character and the ability to do some goofy impressions. As the heart and soul of the film there is little more I would ask him to do. I dig the surrealist atmosphere this movie takes, the bright pink guard uniforms, the completely open prison cells with twenty foot ceilings, a world filled with goofy caricatures. It all kind of works on a straight-to-video level.

The Bad – The film is aggressively dumb, and in that sense all of the reviews are totally justified. The love story comes across as creepy now I think as it is abundantly obvious Ernest had either a learning disability or has serious emotional issues he should be working out with a therapist. The film is crazy dark with Ernest going to the electric chair and basically killed while the prison warden looks on in glee. Super nuts. The film is extremely derivative, relying exclusively on the doppelganger / Prince and the Pauper trope to drive the story forwards.

You Just Got Schooled – The story of Ernest is pretty interesting, at least what you can glean from IMDb notes and elsewhere. This article seems like a pretty good roundup. Short story: Varney wanted to be an actor, but struggled to establish himself on the stage in NYC. Bouncing between his home in Kentucky and New York he ended up landing a spot with Cherry, an ad man. They ended up doing hundreds of commercials together, and then got a four picture deal (which Ernest Goes to Jail is part of). Afterwards they settled into a more lucrative straight-to-video deal, but unfortunately Verney died in 2000 prior to filming Ernest Goes to Space and Ernest and the Voodoo Curse (which I would have called Weekend at Ernest’s 2, but whatever). Fascinating stuff, a really really unique only-in-the-90s type franchise I think.

The BMT – Do I think Ernest is a BMT franchise … no. I don’t. Despite the fact that I would say that I’m fairly objective when it comes to films I saw when I was a kid (Hook, I’m looking at you), I can’t help but like Ernest. I think he’s harmless fun, so there. The character is sweet, and naive, and always tries to do what’s best. What’s wrong with that? Nothing I think … although they are pretty bad. I reserve the right to change my mind, but for now Ernest is pretty okay nonsense.

Sklogwords – After moving Welcome to Earth to the preview I needed a new game, and noticing that The Movie Database is a little light on keywords what bigger service could I provide the world that filling in entirely too accurate keywords for BMT films. For Ernest I chose the following ten in order: Prison, prison break, magnetism, bank robbery, janitor, electric chair, Tennessee, doppelganger, impersonation, animal actor. The funniest one is probably either doppelganger (where the film Southland Tales tends to come up a lot) or Tennessee which, fun fact, is also the setting of the Hannah Montana Movie! And now I’m the number one editor of the film Ernest Goes to Jail on TMDB. So there.

StreetCreditReport.com – There is really nothing here, which isn’t that surprising. Do you know what is surprising? That one of the main reasons listed in reviews as to why Ernest was unbearable was that he was either “too nerdy” or “too geeky”. Like, say what? It doesn’t feel like he is either of those things. At the very least he has a learning disability, but geeky? Nerdy? What was up with the early 90s yo?

Bring a Friend Analysis – As the number of wide release bad movies has dropped in the past few years I’ve often thought that it is likely that at least some of them are going direct to VOD. And Escape Plan 2: Hades seemed like a perfect test of this theory. Wrong! Wrong! The first film was surprisingly good, a decent team-up in Stallone and Arnold, a classic 80s actioner really. This? This is trash. This is dog poo thrown forcefully into my face. It has robots, and terrible actors, and AI, and … it is gibberish. It makes you feel like you are taking crazy pills. And then there is a ton of guns and killing … I just wanted some prison escapes man! This is worse that Prison Break season 2 when they forgot the show was about breaking out of prisons! On the one hand I’m glad to hear that, no, not all VOD features are suddenly on BMT’s radar. On the other I watched Escape Plan 2: Hades in real life, that is something I spent some of my short time on Earth doing. So that’s depressing. B as a friend, F- as an actual movie fit for human consumption.

Phew, long one, but I have a feeling the Bring a Friend cycle will tend to be that way. Cheerios,

The Sklogs

 

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Highlander: The Final Dimension Recap

Jamie

Connor MacLeod is back, Jack! Oh and he’s ready to forget the second film ever happened and kill another Immortal. That’s because Kane is back and ready to declare once again that there can be only one. Can Connor get the girl and cut off Kane’s head before it’s too late? Find out in… Highlander III: The Final Dimension.

How?! We are reintroduced to the Connor MacLeod we know and love as he explicitly explains that contrary to popular belief there was never a sequel to The Highlander and in fact this is the direct sequel. We then get treated to a large sequence set in Medieval Japan where Connor learns the sword from a magician, Nakano. An evil Immortal, Kane, dead set on killing all the other Immortals, finds Nakano and is able to kill him, but The Quickening caves in the mountain and buries Kane preventing him from taking part in the events of the first film. In the present day an archeological dig unearths Kane and he uses one of his cronies to find MacLeod and kills the other in order to sap on his sweet sweet Quickening. When MacLeod sees the effects of The Quickening in the skies over Marrakesh he knows that he’s basically the only hope that Earth has and that Kane will be after him regardless. So to protect his family he decides to head off the threat and head back to his old stomping grounds of NYC. There the police are still suspicious about all those murders a few years back (God, let it go, right?) and there is also a pretty lady archeologist, Dr. Alex, to fall in love with, so he’s pretty busy. Eventually Kane catches up and nearly defeats MacLeod, but is stopped at the last moment when they venture onto sacred ground. Knowing that he was too close to defeat he heads to Scotland to make a new sword, bone the lady archeologist for hours, and eat haggis probably. When he is informed that his adopted son is unexpectedly heading to the US he runs back and confronts Kane in a petroleum refinery or power plant or factory or something (classic 80’s). They battle and shit but obviously MacLeod wins, endures The Quickening, and then probably has his own quickening with Dr. Alex. THE END.

Why?! Kinda spelled it out above. Kane wants to be the last Immortal and use the power to rule Earth, while MacLeod (who has loved the peaceful life of being the only Immortal left) just wants to protect the adopted family he has surrounded himself with. Unfortunately for the franchise this means that every sequel has to reveal exactly why this turns out to not work out for MacLeod. The first one decided to make it all about aliens and it was terrible. The second now has decided that he actually didn’t kill all the other Immortals, psych! I tried reading the plot synopsis for the fourth film and my eyes fell out of my head. This series is hilariously awful.

Who?! Not your typical Who here as there isn’t anything to note in the traditional categories. The best thing I found was that the young actor who played Connor’s adopted son was played by Gabriel Kakon. World famous actor? No, but he did co-found a high-end furniture and lighting store called Gabriel Scott.

What?! You always hope that a film like this can deliver with a Sword of Power or something, but alas. I did enjoy the moment where Connor undergoes a Quickening and the sheer power makes a large number of cans of delicious Mountain Dew explode. Now that’s what I call doing the dew, right?… right?

Where?! We get three different major settings. Primarily this is a New York City film like the first one. We also get some significant scenes in Japan and Scotland and some less significant portions in England, France, and Morocco. I do wish they did a bit more with NYC in this one. Just a violent backdrop for the battle between Immortals. B.

When?! This may be my favorite of all time. Early in the film Connor decapitates a fellow Immortal in the basement of a hospital and, seeing as that is unusual even for crime-ridden NYC, we get a glimpse of the front page of the New York Post. At the top there are a series of news stories about Tanya Harding, Bill Clinton, and… Mayor Rudy Giuliani getting yelled at by hecklers at a MLK event… because it was MLK Day… Super Secret Holiday Film Alert! C+++.

This is clearly a much better concept for a Highlander sequel than the second one ever was, no matter the cut. Unfortunately they really bungled the film as a whole and it’s almost laughably poorly constructed from a narrative point of view. The film has zero flow. It’s almost like the director had never done anything other than commercials and music videos and wasn’t equipped to make a feature length film… which was the case. It really makes it hard to have fun watching Mario Van Peebles eat entire set pieces and, although I’m sure Patrick will mention it, probably the greatest sex scene in BMT history. Seriously… you could just watch the film for the sex scene. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Highlander III is like if they decided to make like … Under Siege 3: Submarine Saboteur, but instead of getting an actual director they got … me? Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – The main thing that was weird about the entire preview was that the director had done nothing except music videos prior to this film. Combine that with an especially cheap looking trailer (with Mario Van Peebles acting off the chain) and you have a recipe for disaster. And that, for BMT, is interesting.

The Good – I have to admit. If I were to outline to you what the best plan of action for Highlander after the successful first film … well, this film would be it. I would say that the film should either be a prequel (and thus The Gathering wouldn’t have happened yet), or make it a sequel with something about a hidden Immortal, or some way in which new Immortals are created. This, from a story perspective, is kind of exactly what I envisioned. The sex scene in this film is genuinely great, and it is profoundly sad that that is the only good thing from this film.

The Bad – The film is a trainwreck. It is so ludicrous that it stands right beside Highlander II: The Quickening as a just off the wall crazy installment to this series. And the reviews are correct. This film stops the franchise right in its tracks. It looks cheap, Van Peebles is absurd in scenery chewing glory, the film makes no sense, and it just exhausts you of any tolerance you might have had for the now very muddled lore. Top to bottom, an absolutely terrible installment to a franchise which should have never been. And everything kind of comes down to the director being totally out of his depth. It feels like even a halfway competent director would have managed something … anything better with the material.

You Just Got Schooled! – I went ahead and watched the pilot for the Highlander television series which started as a syndicated series in 1992 starring Adrian Paul of Love Potion No. 9 fame. Man … 1992 was a wild time. Adrian Paul is legit one of the worst actors I’ve ever seen. And he headlines 6 seasons of a show! In the positive I will say the expansion and exploration of the lore behind Highlander certainly should be done in a television program, and they immediately start on the proper foot by retconning The Gathering from the first movie. In the end, the tv show as a tv show is a D, but the tv show as a sequel to the first movie is probably a solid C+. Helps that the acting in the original movie was pretty trashy in the first place. Do yourself a favor and watch the opening sequence though. For real, it is just … amazing.

The BMT – Back to back with Universal Soldier: The Return is … something else. I think these are both great examples of what BMT tries to be on its good days. Terrible, but not boring, with a lot of weird and wild stuff. Both captured the mid-to-late 90s in their own terrible franchise glory. Two early standards for the best bad movie of the year in my opinion.

Welcome to Earf – I now have a program to do this! The ideal (and BMT) path is: Deborah Kara Unger is in this and 88 Minutes, with Leelee Sobieski who was in Here on Earth! We now have the ability to calculate a Here on Earth number, which is the shortest path (based on billing according to The Movie Database) through the BMT movie web. Unger was 3rd billed here and 6th billed in 88 Minutes (for a total of 9) and then Leelee Sobieski was 3rd billed in 88 Minutes and 1st billed in Here on Earth for a total of 4. I’ll probably eventually put this in the preview instead and figure out a new thing to do in the recap in its place. Here on Earf Number – 13 (Ideal: 13).

StreetCreditReport.com – It is fairly obvious that this was never going to actually make any lists since, you know … it isn’t a real movie. Instead I’ll take the opportunity to mention that this is literally the worst reviewed franchise in Metacritic history. It seems weird to me to see Highlander getting such bad reviews to be honest. I mean, according to Metacritic it is worse than Highlander II. That’s literally impossible.

I think watching all of these franchises is melting my brain … Cheerios, 

The Sklogs

 

Universal Soldier: The Return Recap

Jamie

Luc Devereaux is back, Jack! And boy howdy is he ready to fight more Universal Soldiers. When the Universal Soldier program’s AI computer, SETH, goes rogue, Luc and his new reporter friend Erin have to figure out how to take it out. Will they stop SETH, save Luc’s daughter, and perhaps find love before it’s too late? Find out in… Universal Soldier: The Return.

How?! Luc Devereaux is living his life in Texas working for the Universal Soldier program. He was still totally a dead person at one point but apparently was cured of that and his junk apparently still works because he even has a daughter. She seems fine with having a dad that was dead for a very long time. Anyway, the UniSol program is told that they are being shut down because the government is a little wary of this whole bringing-people-back-to-life-as-soldiers thing and Luc and his colleagues are shocked (shocked!). None more than their AI computer system SETH. He’s like “fuck that” and starts going rogue. He kills a whole bunch of people, make a new set of soldiers, and even gives himself a rad new body with some killer abs and karate skillz. SETH knows that a safe guard will shut him down in eight hours unless he can crack a code that only Luc has. Luc is like “Over my dead body” and along with a reporter that was snooping around, Erin, heads out to figure out what they can do. They end up going to a strip club because obviously that place will have internet and he is able to figure out that SETH has been in contact with a disgraced elite hacker. They head over to Squid’s place where it is revealed that SETH is going to use Luc’s daughter as a pawn to get the code. They head to the hospital where Luc’s daughter is being taken care of but they are too late and know that a direct confrontation is their only chance. Back at Universal Soldier HQ, Luc and SETH totally battle with martial arts skills and punch and kick each other for a while. SETH cracks the code and is like “guess I didn’t need you after all. Time to die,” and Luc is like “when Hell freezes over” and whatever other puns you can think of and is able to quick freeze SETH and shatters him into a million pieces. THE END.

Why?! This time the driving force of the film is not the snooping reporter but the Universal Soldier program itself. The government gets cold feet about their crazy morally bankrupt dead soldier venture and SETH can’t handle rejection. I think SETH wants to take over the world at this point but it’s actually hard to tell. I’m not entirely sure what his end game is… perhaps creating a Universal Soldier utopia in Texas? Whatever it is Luc wants to stop it and save his daughter and smooch on that reporter’s face.

Who?! I can no longer say someone gave us the worst acting performance we’ve ever seen because we’ve seen so many terrible acting performances, but WWE wrestler Bill Goldberg gifts us an all-timer. I also didn’t realize he was a legit NFL football player. He actually played for the Falcons for a number of years and started a game and everything.

What?! I think there is an argument to be made that the super secret code that turns off the safe guard against SETH is a MacGuffin of sorts. It is what SETH needs and he will do whatever necessary to get it. The only problem is that we know exactly what it does and it’s not some random piece of magic or technology. You know what it needed to be? It needed to be on a dongle. And perhaps that dongle could be made of some important material… say… I don’t know, obsidian?

Where?! When JCVD is jet skiing about from minute one I thought perhaps they had moved the Universal Soldier program to Louisiana so he could be near his folks. Nope, shortly thereafter they mention explicitly that this is all occurring in Central Texas and then JCVD ends up at the famous strip club in Dallas, The Clubhouse. B.

When?! I almost hoped there wouldn’t be an exact date for this one because they used intertitles to tell you unnecessarily specific times. So it would flash on screen like “9:22 PM CST” in case you might be confused as to whether they meant Greenwich Mean Time or something. Unfortunately computer whiz JCVD realized that SETH must be communicated with an elite haxor on the outside and we see that he called said haxor on October 3rd 1999. Since we see SETH make this last call this almost definitely sets the exact date of the film. B+.

Alright so I’ll let Patrick tell you about the two Universal Soldier made-for-TV films that preceded this one. Rest assured that they made me sad and curiously thirsty for some delicious Labatt Blue. As for this film, it did not make me sad. It made me BMT happy. Universal Soldier: The Return is bonkers from the jump. We open with a jet ski chase and head right into a HAL rip-off eeeevil computer. Goldberg is terrible at acting but somehow better than JCVD. There are explosions and full body burns everywhere because it was directed by a stunt man. An elite haxor shows up who is straight up off the chain and played by the middle aged actor who played The Sidler in Seinfeld. I could go on and on and on. This film was pedal to the metal for 90 minutes and never let up. It’s like they knew the BMT formula and took it to the extreme. The only problematic thing about its perfection is that an argument could be made that this is just a straight-to-DVD film that somehow made it onto a release schedule. That it can’t be judged the same way as other films because it was never meant to be consumed by a mass audience. That it only ended up in theaters because an evil magician put a curse on a producer (probably). These are all things that will have to be judged as part of next year’s Smaddies Baddies and perhaps the retrospective look will turn it into a pumpkin. Until then I’m just enjoying all the memories we had together. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! I know after watching the two television films in the Universal Soldier series we were all a-clamoring for more Universal Soldier. Or my brain melted and I in a daze I accidentally turned on The Return. Either way I watched the second (or fourth depending on what you consider canon … actually The Return isn’t canon either) Universal Soldier film. Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – The trailer for this film is bonkers, so I kind of knew it was going to be nuts in the first place. But the main thing that obviously sticks out is that they decided to retcon the television movies. It is obvious why you do that but still … it isn’t like the films did anything drastic with the story really. They could have vaguely had the story continue from where the third left off. But you know the series isn’t getting taken care of properly when the original production company went bankrupt, sold it to Showtime, and then yada yada yada they make a direct sequel in 1997. Doesn’t bode well.

The Good – Hmmmmmm. Unfortunately I don’t think you see many buns in this film. They even cover up Michael Jai White’s buns, do what am I supposed to do with that? Plenty of cyborgs though. A weird peak into what a strip club in 1999 might have looked like. A really big ‘splosion, and some full body burns. You could ask for less, right?

The Bad – The movie is nuts. There is an AI called SETH, and a l33t h4XX0r names Squid. And JCVD isn’t a cyborg anymore (he’s a regular human who apparently isn’t sterile despite being legit dead for like … 25 years at one point, because he has a human child). The AI bit really does it. You immediately can’t take the movie seriously the instant they introduce it, and the reasoning behind its existence is non-existent. It really is just a masterstroke of terrible filmmaking.

You Just Got Schooled – Right when it looks like we took a step forward it is time to take a step back with a recap of the third film, Universal Soldier III: Unfinished Business. In this film our two heroes Luc and Veronica are back on the trail of the Universal Soldier program and trying to take it down. It killed his brother Eric, and boy is he steamed about it. Meanwhile the eeeeevil scientist and Burt Reynolds are a-scheming to create a little Eric clone to fight Luc (boy oh boy, how eeeevil). Ultimately Luc karate chops all the other cyborgs, and they self destruct Eric after he magically gets his memory back (oh did I forget to mention that they give him super-aging serum to make him precisely the same age as when he died …). In the end Burt Reynolds kills himself and the Unisol program continues to operate in the shadows in season 1 of the smash hit Showtime series Universal Soldier … what’s that? That didn’t happen? Oh, then they totally leave us hanging forever since this garbage film was retconned out of existence. F——.

The BMT – Now we’re cooking with fire! Frontrunner for most BMT film of the year right here. The main thing that will hold it back in the future? It’s a bit too small maybe? Like it qualifies and everything, but it feels a bit like punching down when you pick JCVD’s last theatrical release (literally). But we tend to ignore such things, and the film is pretty entertaining. I’m sure it will be just as entertaining in 5 years (wait … are we going to still be doing BMT in 5 years … surely not …).

Welcome to Earf – With the new found knowledge I gained with my own SETH (a python shortest path script and cast lists from The Movie Database) I think the likely best path is something like JCVD was in Universal Soldier with Dolph Lundgren, who was in Expendables 3 with Jason Statham, who was in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale with Leelee Sobieski, who was in Here on Earth. Welcome to Earth!

StreetCreditReport.com – A little disappointing, but somewhat expected I think that the few lists wouldn’t necessarily acknowledge this one. It is, as I said, a bit too small. Almost straight-to-DVD. Still, you can find it on random blogs like this, and that is good enough for me.

The Universal Soldier marathon is complete. My life, what am I doing? Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Universal Soldier Recap

Jamie

When Luc Devereaux is killed in Vietnam by the crazed Andrew Scott they are both secretly reanimated as super soldiers. Years later, Luc  and Scott begin to regain their memories and Luc has to help a snooping reporter escape from Scott’s clutches. Can they stop Scott and perhaps find love before it’s too late? Find out in… Universal Soldier.

How?! Luc Devereaux is an all-American hero with an all-American Cajun accent (duh). In Vietnam one of his fellow soldiers, Andrew Scott, goes insane and kills a bunch of villagers before turning the gun on Luc. They end up killing each other and are regenerated in super soldiers as a part of a secret military project.They are used to great effect until Luc and Scott begin to regain their memories. At the same time a reporter, Veronica, discovers the secret to the program and to the shock of the military Luc helps her escape. Now in hot pursuit, the Universal Soldiers leave a wake of destruction while Luc relearns all the basic functions of life and Veronica ponders whether falling in love with a dead guy is A-OK because he’s not really dead… right? Luc and Veronica try to find out more about the program, always staying a step ahead of Scott, who eventually goes completely rogue. Finally, in the bayou of Louisiana, Luc is reunited with his mother and father. Happiness is short-lived, however, as Scott finds them and an all out brawl ensues resulting in Luc pushing Scott into a farm machine. He is gruesomely murdered but he was already dead so through a loophole in the law Luc isn’t tried for murder. He is crowned champion of the Universal Soldiers and he and Veronica probably get married but never (NEVER) talk about how he’s actually a dead person. THE END.

Why?! A lot of this is pure coincidence really. The main thrust of the plot is driven by Veronica wanting to get the big scoop about the UniSol program. She just got fired and wants to really stick it to her bosses. By sneaking into the top secret Unisol base she becomes a fugitive whose only hope is a totally confused Luc. He just wants to figure out what the fuck is up because he’s pretty sure he’s a dead person but everyone else is telling him he’s not a dead person. Andrew Scott is crazy and acts accordingly.

Who?! There is so much for the who in this. Basically every Unisol GR unit is notable in some way. One is Tiny Lister, former wrestler and POTUS in The Fifth Element. One is Eric Norris, youngest son of Chuck Norris and race car driver. One is Ralf Moeller, who was a professional bodybuilder and competed in Mr. Olympia. And finally one is Simon Rhee, who is a big martial arts stunt actor. Added bonus is JCVD’s son Kris appeared uncredited as a younger version of his dad.

What?! Solid product placement with Pepsi where we get JCVD, relearning all the pleasures of life, sitting down to eat at a restaurant and tasting a delicious Pepsi for the first time. Next thing you know and he’s slammed twenty Pepsi’s because who can resist such refreshment? No one. It’s a universal pleasure.

Where?! Veritable Road Trip Alert with this guy. We get an opening in Vietnam that transitions to the Hoover Dam in Nevada. Once JCVD and Veronica are on the run they travel to Arizona, Utah, and eventually Louisiana for the climax (all with specific intertitles). The best part is that I’m not sure what I would classify as the dominant setting… Louisiana I guess, but Utah has an argument too. B+.

When?! The grades for these sections aren’t exactly set in stone (shocking I know), but if I were to make a hard and fast rule I think the “Present Day” intertitle is a good example of a D score. Sure it’s telling you something, but as vaguely as possible. Otherwise I didn’t catch any other specifics about the date and time. But that’s on me.

I enjoyed this movie plain and simple. I can understand the bad reviews. It’s a knock-off of a Sly Stallone or Schwarzenegger film with worse acting. There is just no way this actually gets good reviews… because it’s bad. But there is something fun about the movie (not surprising as it’s early Emmerich) and I think this is also probably the best you’ll see JCVD in terms of acting. Unlike other films where he has to act like an actual person here he gets to act like a robot person who doesn’t remember he’s human. He barely talks and mostly just has a vacant look in his eyes. I was like “woah, he’s actually doing a good job.” Until I saw the sequel to the film and realized it was only made possible by constraints of the script. Made me think that the rest of the series would just be boring rehashes of the same shit… boy was I wrong.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Sometimes you just get that feeling, that JCVD feeling, JCVD … feeling, baby, JCVD feeeeeeling. And when you get that feeling you get to watch Universal Soldier! Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – The instant I saw this was an early Emmerich I knew it was going to be kind of good. Combine that with pre-straight-to-DVD JCVD and Lundgren in peak Rocky IV shape and you got a stew going, baby. Honestly, this is exactly the type of film critics at the time would have dumped on, and now people (like me) will pick up and be like “rad”, so I went in expecting to like it.

The Good – And like it I did. One thing that can always save terrible actors like JCVD? Making him play a robot. The role he was meant to play to be honest. The idea of intentionally creating controllable zombies as soldiers is oddly unique and appealing. It immediately made me think about how in some sort of Evil Scientist Extended Universe they’d be making werewolves (gene splicing), and mummies (preserved sentient corpses) and stuff. Fun idea even if it is a bit wasted in the end. Oh, and of course … JCVD’s bodacious buns.

The Bad – I mean these guys aren’t good actors. The film felt a bit cheap, especially in the set designs which kind of just look like they were left over from the 80s to be honest. And the story is very derivative (JCVD’s Loc-bot 2000 might as well learned to give a thumbs up he’s such a rip off of The Terminator) and road trippy (although it mostly works). And finally the ending was telegraphed and pretty dumb with the super soldier serum. But all of these are either completely tolerable or very minor critiques of what is ultimately a pretty not-bad film that got dumped on at the time.

You Just Got Schooled – Well lucky for me there were two television films, so let’s discuss the first one a bit. Basically this was a sort of pilot for Showtime it seems. The main character is played by Matt Battaglia and … woof, he is just awful. He alone makes the film almost unwatchable. The main storyline is that Gary Busey is in charge of the Universal Soldier program and he’s going to sell it to the highest bidder (mercenaries!). Meanwhile Luc’s never-before-mentioned brother Eric has been activated and is helping Luc take Busey down. The film is boring, incomprehensible, and extremely Canadian (complete with retconning Luc’s hometown as being in Pennsylvania to excuse the obviously cold shooting temperatures). Straight hot garbage F——-.

The BMT – This one will get nothing, but will likely get a shout at the end of the year for being one of the genuinely decent films we watched in the course of 2019, it’s got that going for it. And it’ll be thrown onto the JCVD pile. I think of all the martial artists turned actors JCVD is on top of the second tier. The first tier might only have Jackie Chan in it BTW.

Welcome to Earf – This gets pretty easy. Dolph Lundgren is in both Universal Soldier and Expendables 3, which also stars Sly Stallone who was in Zookeeper with Kevin James, who was also in Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 with Neal McDonough, who was also in Street Fighter: Legend of Chun Li with Chris Klein, who was also in Here on Earth. Welcome to Earth! (BTW I’m creating a program that does this now. It isn’t complete, but even in its current form it would have suggested I go straight from Expendables 3 through Statham to In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale which stars Leelee. Idiot! I’ve actually used that path before).

StreetCreditReport.com – It shouldn’t really be that big of a surprise that it didn’t get much notice in 1992. It was considered bad, but not that bad. And it has its charm. This well and truly is just along for the ride with The Return. It is too bad there isn’t a better resource for this stuff though, it feels like the instant you venture away from the 2000s there is basically no worst-of lists to speak of. At least not online.

I’ll see you soon with the recap of The Return, the second (er … fourth?) in the Universal Soldier series. Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason Recap

Jamie

Bridget Jones is back, Jack! And boy howdy is she getting into some kooky situations. Last we saw she had gotten the guy and was set to live happily ever after and now… uh… I guess she’s gonna screw it up? Can she not screw it up, get the guy, and get out of Thai prison (what, what?) before it’s too late? Find out in… Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.

How?! Bridget Jones is on top of the world. She got a great career, a great boyfriend, and a great diary that she writes in. This will be the best year ever. That is until she totally starts to fret about her lawyer Mark Darcy’s hot, young lawyer colleague. He’s definitely having an affair. How do we know: because this is a film and Bridget needs a reason to screw up her nascent relationship for the fun (?) of the viewers. Anyway, after a disastrous lawyer party, lunch with her parents, and ski vacation Bridget seems to have totally messed things up with Mark. They’ve broken up, gotten back together, and broken up again leaving Bridget in the lurch just as she gets a new assignment reporting on exotic locales with her *gulp* ex-dirtbag boyfriend Daniel Cleaver. On assignment in Thailand, she almost hooks up with him, but at the last moment Daniel again demonstrates why he’s just a garbage person and she gets out of there. You’d think everything would go pretty smoothly from here but remember, it’s that kooky Bridget Jones we know and love so she ends up accidentally getting nabbed for drug smuggling. She ends up in a Thai prison for a surprisingly large chuck of the film, eventually being freed by lawyer extraordinaire (and not garbage person) Mark. Back in the UK, Bridget realizes that she loves him, runs to his office, and they totally smooch a whole bunch and they get engaged… which doesn’t seem like the best idea considering the tumultuous year they had. But you do you Bridget. THE END.

Why?! Everything that happens in the film is for love I guess. Bridget self-sabotages pretty hard and you would think it was because of mistrust or anxiety or feelings of inadequacy. But if that were the case it would be odd that they would be so dead set on getting engaged after like three months of dating. The only logical thing is that they are both screwing up their relationship so badly because they are scared of how much they love each other. Yeah… that’s the ticket.

Who?! Looking around I thought we would be totally bereft of something to talk about for this section. Nothing of interest was really popping out. That is until I saw that Jacinda Barrett, who played Rebecca, the woman Bridget feared Mark was having an affair with, made her television debut on The Real World. Kinda makes me think there might be a cycle in there somewhere. Reality TV stars in film. Woof.

What?! There are a couple very prominent advertisements for Coca-Cola at the beginning and end of the film. A large billboard seems to give Bridget encouragement to go get her man (and also encourages us to drink a delicious and refreshing Coca-Cola at the same time).

Where?! Much more of a road trip film in this case. Yes, we’re still primarily set in the UK, but this time we get some exotic excursions into Austria and Thailand. Classic sequel right there. Let’s take a character we love (e.g. Deuce Bigalow) and take him somewhere new (Amsterdam). In this case, the UK is important to the plot and the other locations are fun. I’m bumping it to an A-.

When?! The Bridget Jones films are as close to a road trip through time as you can get. They start immediately following New Years (first film is the year 2000 and the second has to be 2001 then) and proceed through the year ending between Xmas and New Years. In some ways you can lock them in as Secret Holiday Films as the most important bits of the story take place then. It is also important to the plot to as a New Year’s resolution is pretty much why she starts the diary in the first place. A-.

The best way to describe this film is as the equivalent to a television show. Season 1 (Bridget Jones’s Diary) was the smash hit, will-they-won’t-they, Ross-and-Rachel season that captured the heart of America. I thought it was fantastic. She was kooky and it was surprisingly raunchy and just generally a fun time. Then season two rolls along and they are like “shit, how do we recapture the magic?” Break them up, obvs. American will love seeing us make these people neurotic crazies and then get them back together. Magic recaptured, right? Not really. It’s the problem with the will-they-won’t-they model as it generally proceeds directly into relationship strife, and I don’t love watching that. Add on top that it’s just generally sillier, crazier (she ends up in a Thai prison), and more cliched and it is certainly a lackluster return for our girl Bridget… although I wouldn’t say the worst thing we’ve ever watched or anything. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! The Bridget Jones films, the first two at least, were an interesting time capsule of early 2000s British comedies. We watched the bad one. Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – I knew very little about the series going in, but realizing that the director of the first skipped the second and ended up directing the third I know there was going to be something off about it. I do kind of wish I had read the books, because what I will very likely blame greedy studio execs for maybe could more accurately be blamed on a greedy author, I wouldn’t know. Such is life I guess.

The Good – The three leads are as charming as ever. If you wanted a bigger badder Bridget Jones, well they delivered. They took the character on the road, gave her big stories to explore, and even more awkward moments to create. What they didn’t do was introduce a bunch of new characters for the sake of it and base everything around that. There are things to like in the film.

The Bad – The film feels exactly like what any bad rom com is. Almost quintessentially so. It is kind of a carbon copy of the original with all of the same characters and story beats. Bridget is arguably flanderized into her most audience-pleasing traits. It takes the main character from the charming original setting of London and then relies on fish-out-of-water stories in foreign countries for dramatic moments. And it resets all of the advancements from the original in order to reset everything to be done again. Literally … both movies are just Bridget Jones getting into relationships with the same two guys. In that sense the film in honestly horrible.

You Just Got Schooled – Aha, well in order to watch the sequel I had to watch the original acclaimed Bridget Jones. It was solid, but highly dependent on how much one can tolerate the classic British awkward humor (it shouldn’t be a surprise that both Bridget Jones’s Diary and The Office came out in 2001). Zellweger, Grant, and Firth are all fantastic. And it is a veritable who’s who of British comedic talent, even in the minor roles (two of her friends are Baltar from Battlestar Galactica, and Moaning Myrtle from Harry Potter!). It is quite the trick to see a genuinely good film create a genuinely bad sequel, and all wrapped up in a very rare romantic comedy franchise.

The BMT – So here’s the thing: For all of the reasons described in The Bad section this is kind of a perfect example of a bad rom com sequel. But I don’t think that is why we’ll remember it. We are far more likely to remember the weird ones like Here on Earth than the quintessentially bad ones, of which there are multiple that do what this does at least part way. No, this is a rare romantic comedy franchise, which is interesting. Kind of makes me hope they make a Sex and the City 3.

Welcome to Earf – Alright well I could remember one other film we’ve seen with Zellweger, New in Town, which also stars J.K. Simmons. But then I had to look up the connection via the Snowman, which also stars Val Kilmer, who was in Batman Forever with Jim Carrey, who was in The Number 23 with Virginia Madsen, who was in Firewall with Harrison Ford, who was in Hollywood Homicide with Josh Hartnett, who was in Here on Earth! Rare Harnett path, welcome to Earf!

StreetCreditReport.com – So here’s the thing you have to remember: 2004 was absolutely horrible for movies. The other thing you have to remember: romantic comedies are traditionally not that great. Combine those two and I literally can’t find a list with this film on it. Rest assured, it isn’t great, but it also isn’t going to beat out White Chicks, Catwoman, and The Whole Ten Yards!

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

 

Hellraiser: Bloodline Recap

Jamie

Pinhead is back, Jack! And boy howdy does he want to take over the world. How? By forcing John Merchant, the extra special descendent of the original creator of the puzzle box/portal to “Hell,” to build a giant permanent one. Can John stop the horrors before it’s too late? Find out in… Hellraiser IV: Bloodline.

How?! We open in 2127 on a space station… … *checks notes* yeah, I guess… I guess this is Hellraiser now. Cool, cool, cool. A mad scientist named Phillip Merchant has worked tirelessly to destroy Pinhead once and for all but just as he opens the portal to the Hellraiser dimension he is captured by some space police (all rights reserved). He explains that far in the past (1796 to be exact) his ancestor Paul L’Merchant was commissioned to create a puzzle box. Upon delivering his art piece an eeeeeevil Duke uses it to open a portal to “Hell” and use black magic to summon a demon named Angelique. Him and his protege, Jacques, have a grand old time experiencing the forbidden pleasures of the alternate dimension until our boy Phil attempts to steal back the puzzle box and modify it so as to close it forever. Unfortunately the demon kills him and curses his bloodline for all eternity. You’d think that the demon would go on to wreak havoc upon the world at this point but she is controlled by Jacques who just wants her for his own hedonistic pleasures and to live forever (I think, it’s hard to follow). Anyway, they basically bang until 1996 (that’s a lot of banging) when she’s all like “yo, I rediscovered that curses bloodline in John Merchant and I really want to use him to reopen the portal” but Jacques is like “but can’t we just bang?” and Angelique is like no and kills him and heads to NYC. There she finds the building shown at the end of the third Hellraiser and frees the puzzle box from its foundations. She opens the portal and frees Pinhead and begins work on using her sexy demon wiles to trick John into using the building as an even bigger puzzle box and opening a permanent portal to “Hell.” Pinhead tires of this and decides to take John’s family hostage instead. They all run around for a while and there is a cenobite dog and some cenobite twins and shit. Eventually they get him to activate the building, but he does some fancy hacking on the computer like a computer whiz and reverses the portal to send them back to “Hell.” Flash back to space and the space police (all rights reserved) are shook. Pinhead starts killing them and so they let Paul go so he can try to stop him. He again uses some fancy computer work to trick Pinhead with a hologram and then zooms away on a spaceship as the space station turns into a puzzle box and explodes for some reason and this apparently kills Pinhead (though I’m not sure why you would necessarily believe that). THE END.  

Why?! Hoo boy. Uh… the demons are still demons but this time you control them if you summon them (unless you get in the way of Hell’s plan). When Angelique finally tires of banging Jacques after 200 years she is freed and then only wants one thing: to permanently connect Earth and “Hell.” Everyone else in this film is kind of useless and don’t really know what they are doing most of the time. Only Paul has the right idea with his super genius space station bomb that kills pinhead for some reason… It’s a dumb film.

Who?! Oh boy! It’s one of our favorite. A rare treat where we get a new Twin Film that we weren’t expecting. That’s because in Hellraiser: Bloodline there are a couple of twin security guards who stumble upon Pinhead and Angelique. They are promptly turned into twin Cenobites and… basically disappear from the film. Underutilized talent! Come on! Use those twin cenobites or lose those twin cenobites. Fun nonetheless.

What?! Have to talk about the occasional MacGuffin, the Lament Configuration. It’s a puzzle box that is the key to unlocking “Hell” and all its pain. In the first film it is simply that, but as the films go on it gains more and more power. In the third it is what keeps Pinhead locked away in “Hell” and thus what he most wants to destroy. In the fourth it could forever connect Earth and “Hell,” but also (if configured correctly) is the key to destroying Pinhead forever. I’m sure it gets even weirder and crazier in the later straight-to-DVD entries, but scientists contend we may never know the plots of those films.

Where?! I believe the first two films took place in an undisclosed location. Filmed in the UK and certainly looked like it. In the third, though, they veer over to the Big Apple and stick around there for the fourth one. There is a flashback scene in France and a future scene in Space, but the primary focus is in NYC and its nice cityscapes. B.

When?! We start in 2127 and jump back to 1796 and then forward two hundred years to 1996 before finishing back in 2127. While these are no more specific than years, some bonus points for the intertitles informing us of that information and specific years in the far past and far future. It’s pretty amazing and I love it. A-.

There is nothing like trying to write a recap for a film to help you realize just how much nonsense it is. This film makes no sense. It’s almost like they made a film, didn’t like it, reshot a huge amount, then tried to cobble it together into a film and failed miserably. Oh wait, that’s exactly what happened. It hurt my brain trying to meander through the plot and the best things in it (Twin cenobites!) are thrown out immediately and barely play a role at all. What a tragic mistake. Put another notch in the belt you use to keep track of all the horror films that haven’t gotten better by taking it to space: Leprechaun, Friday the 13th, James Bond, and now this. What’s that? James Bond isn’t a horror franchise? News to me, cause he slayed the ladies. Boom. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! You ever watch a movie and are like “wow, that was cool, I want some more.” And then the creators just shove dog poo in your face continuously for multiple sequels? Well I have with Hellraiser. Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – I had seen Hellraiser before a while back and looooooooved it. I’m not a huge fan of gory horror, but this had cool practical effects, an interesting story, and enough mystery to make the cenobites and living dead feel like something very rare and interesting as far as horror went. Like with the Friday the 13th series, I was excited to actually tackle a franchise in full.

The Good – Uh, with the fourth one? As a matter of fact with the second or third as well? Not much. The second brought back all of the main players, and did attempt to expand on the lore which, at first was interesting. Then woof. The third and fourth really don’t do much, although the woman who played Dax in Star Trek: Deep Space 9 was the main character in the third which was cool. And that one had a fun journalist team-up with a street rat thing going for it. That’s it, the fourth is trash.

The Bad – The lore. They expand upon it in an interesting way in the second one for a short bit, and then things go off the rails. It’s actually hell now, there are weird circuses, pinhead is the only cenobite now, he makes new cenobites, he was good, now he’s bad, now he wants to bring hell to earth, now he’s dead. The entire problem with most horror franchises is they try and expand on the lore too much. Hellraiser takes that to 1000% and then hires a bunch of television actors, and throws blood and guts everywhere as if that is what I want. It isn’t. I hated this series after the first, it was a travesty.

You Just Got Schooled – Fun fact, I read the short story that became the first film, Hellbound Heart. It was great. Being able to expand a bit more about where our antagonist Frank ends up, and lending a bit more mystery to the cenobites (who are almost definitely non-human interdimensional beings of some kind). And in the end it makes a ton of sense that the first film does the adaptation so well. The underlying lore established in the short story is concise and interesting without delving too deeply into the details. Perfecto. I would grade the initial adaptation as an A, and then all subsequent adaptations as F’s. It is inexcusable to make the cenobites transformed humans residing in hell. It doesn’t even need an explanation! They can just be cenobites!

The BMT – A huge success naturally. I love expanding my sub-genre experiences, especially with horror. And this franchise is basically the entirety of a niche supernatural gory horror genre. I don’t like gore, although when done practically it was quite spooky. And I think this is just an added example of one of my film hot takes: horror lore is the worst and should never be expanded. Nothing ruins a franchise quite like over-explanitis.

Welcome to Earf – I don’t believe we’ve seen any of the main players in other BMT players, so, to IMDb I go! Ah yes, Adam Scott is inexplicable in this film, which we have seen in at least one other BMT film, Torque starring Ice Cube, who was in Ghosts of Mars with Jason Statham, who was in Expendables 3 with Sylvester Stallone, who was in Zookeeper with Adam Sandler, who was in Jack and Jill with Al Pacino, who was in 88 Minutes with Leelee Sobieski, who was in Here on Earth. Welcome to Earf!

StreetCreditReport.com – The film is too small to make the main lists, but I knew it was going to be on a worst horror of the 90s list. And it makes perfect sense. A nail in the coffin for a signature 80s horror franchise. And yeah … the 90s was horrible for horror.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Predator 2 Recap

Jamie

In the crime-ridden 1997 hellscape that is LA a don’t-play-by-nobody’s-rulez cop, Mike Harrigan, comes up against a new breed of criminal that is taking out the local gangs. Turns out the Predator’s back, Jack, and LA in a heat wave is looking mighty tasty. Can Harrigan stop the Predator before it’s too late? Find out in… Predator 2.

How?! Mike Harrigan don’t play by nobody’s rules, especially when it comes to policing the streets. You don’t want him to contaminate a crime scene? Too bad, because there are some bad guys that need to pay… with blood, babbbbbby. Now that you know who Harrigan is you know that when a new danger appears on the streets taking out some of the toughest street gangs he is not ready to give the investigation over to the feds. Something seems fishy and he and his team are gonna do everything to find out what. Through solid police work and ingenuity they are able to find that something dangerous is afoot in their fair city and as a result of their sleuthing they are being taken out one-by-one. Just when it seems like Harrigan has cornered the bad guy he is confronted by the feds who reveal that in fact a Predator is what is afoot and he better back off while they go after it with cryogenic plasma guns (don’t worry about it). They of course are a bunch of dopes and Harrigan has to go in and show this Predator what’s what. He chases it across the rooftops in the dangerous dance of the hunt eventually chasing him all the way to its hidden ship. Facing off mano a mano Harrigan is able to one-up the Predator and its colleagues gift him a trophy and tell him to scram. They then zoom away in the spaceship because they are space aliens who honestly don’t give a fuck about our human problems. THE END.

Why?! I think what I’ve learned from analyzing the motivations of BMT characters is that the good guys are usually the more uninteresting characters. Harrigan is just a good cop. Yeah, sure he’s got a ‘tude, but he also gets the job done and mostly does it without bending the rules too badly. Usually the bad guy is more interesting, but when that adversary is a Predator the motivation is still pretty flat. It’s a Predator… it’s for the thrill of the hunt. Really the feds have the most interesting motivations. They want to capture the Predator and have been looking to do so for years. They want to freeze it, study it, and improve our technology using it and really don’t care how many people die in attaining that goal.

Who?! Both Ruben Blades and Maria Conchita Alonso are singers in addition to being actors. Blades in particular is pretty famous and has won eight Grammy’s over his career. Alonso less so, but she also has a Grammy nomination to her name (but who doesn’t). I find it more interesting that they chose to give Morton Downey Jr. a cameo in the film as a crazy trash TV host reporting on the rampant crime in future LA. He sounds like a terrible person, really, and surprisingly this will probably not be the last time we see him in a BMT film.

What?! I don’t recall any specific product placement for the film that knocked my socks off or even a MacGuffin. There was a crazy pirate gun that the Predators gave Harrigan on the end for defeating their colleague in hand-to-hand combat. It said that it was from 1718 and belonged to Raphael Adolini. You might wonder what the significance of that is given how specific it is… apparently it was inscribed that way because the screenwriters wanted to set the next film in the past (WWII is the rumor) and wanted to establish that Predators had been doing their thing for a long while. So it is literally just to set up a sequel. Lame.

Where?! It’s explicitly spelled out that this is set in Los Angeles from both context and intratitles. Technically I think this is a B+ since to get an A I feel like the setting should be vital to the plot in some way. Could have easily been set in NYC during a heat wave without issue.

When?! I would have to go back and check if the exact date is shown or mentioned in the film. Often in a police station there will be a calendar hanging on the wall to give a hint. Looking at Predator wiki pages if I were able to figure it out then this would potentially be a novel addition to the Predator history since generally the events of Predator 2 are just marked as “Summer 1997.” For the moment that’s the best we can do. C-.

It’s been a while since I’ve had as much fun watching a BMT film. It is straight up ridiculous. I don’t know how something like this could actually be made except that the late 80’s into the early 90’s was a wild time where some wild people were making some wild stuff. The beginning in particular is a marvel to watch and it’s almost a shame that it’s aged into self-parody. Hard to watch it now and not have part of you think that it was made ironically. But given what we’ve learned about that time in American film I think this is as earnest as could be and I love it very much for that. It’s what I believe makes a truly great bad film: earnestness in its creation. It’s also why making a bad movie on purpose is so hard. You need to truly believe that the best option for the script is to have Gary Busey don a cryogenic suit to battle a Predator and shoot it as seriously as possible. The very end shifts suddenly in order to check off some Predator boxes for the audience: a little more lore for our alien friend and a walk through of its space vehicle, so I think probably the producers thought it was successful for those aims. This also suggested to me that this was in fact just a film adapted from a stereotypical cop action film to include the Predator. Honestly the Predator barely seemed necessary until the very end of the film. I would love to find out this started as some Lethal Weapon sequel and then the screenwriter quickly made it into a Predator film for a last minute meeting. I believe it in my heart. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone. Watching films you’ve seen before for BMT is an interesting experience. You know the beats, but you lose something as well, that sense of newness I suppose. I’ve seen Predator 2 a few times, but it never gets old. It deserved the Preview / Recap treatment, so I did it with joy. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Previews – I had actually already seen Predator 2 prior to the viewing. From what I recalled the film was ridiculous. There was a police station with papers blowing everywhere which was lovely. And there was like literal voodoo magic. I was kind of secretly hoping all of these things were in the film … but I kind of knew that I was sadly misremembering. A boy can hope.

The Good – The movie is distilled madness. A very 90s sequel to a very 80s film unnecessarily set in the future with voodoo and giant flowing outfits and sweaty actors. The film is undeniably weird in a way that it is totally understandable that people like it. For a sequel to the original Predator I think they get the level of violence just right, at least for the after-the-fact reviews I read online.

The Bad – I think setting the film in the future is a mistake, and I think setting it in a city is a mistake. For the second they could have gone back to the jungle in Cambodia in 1967 Vietnam. And then by the time the third is going to be made you can set it in NYC or LA in 1997 instead of making it a future film. The acting is so over the top it is insane. The film comes across as genuinely racist both with the cocaine guzzingly hispanic gang, and the voodoo practicing Jamaican gang. It is of the time, but a mistake. This isn’t a terrible film in my estimation, it is just … too odd to take seriously, unlike Predator, which is still awesome.

You Just Got Schooled – I did manage to get a sweet director commentary for the film. And by “sweet” I mean very soft spoken and boring. I made a tactical mistake here. Rule number one of commentaries: it is always more entertaining with multiple people. And there was a second commentary with the two writers of the film. Such is life. The commentary was boring, but did have a few fun notes. Like how Predator 2 was the first film to ever receive an NC-17 rating, and so they had to edit it 20+ times to get to an R. And everyone in the film is wearing hats because the costume designer figured ozone depletion and global warming would eventually lead to people wearing loose fitting clothing and hats. I give it a C-. Really too boring, but the director is interesting enough to warrant a watch if you have the time.

The BMT – The Predator franchise is now immortalized in BMT lore with The Predator added to the BMT Live, and now we’ve done all qualifying films in the Predator franchise. I don’t think Predator 2 will make much of a mark though. I think there are better examples of the really-bad-sequel-to-the-really-good-80s-action-film.

Welcome to Earf – Weirdly easy because of Danny Glover, who was in Predator 2 and Proud Mary which also starred Neal McDonough, who was also in Street Fighter: Legend of Chun Li which also starred Chris Klein, who was in Here on Earth. Welcome to Earf!

StreetCreditReport.com – It is tough to find real lists from this long ago, but the two I found (Entertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone) did not include this film for 1990. There is a nice article where Arnold Schwarzenegger just rips through the franchise and especially this film. So that’s fun.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs