The Curse of La Llorona Recap

Jamie

Anna Garcia is recently widowed and barely keeping it together with a couple kids at home and a stressful job as a caseworker. It also doesn’t help when she gets totally cursed by an aggrieved mother who blames her for the death of her children. Can she get rid of that spooky scary curse before it’s too late? Find out in… The Curse of La Llorona.

How?! Anna Garcia is having a tough go of it. Her husband was recently killed in the line of duty, she’s raising a couple of kids solo, and her job as a caseworker is pretty stressful to boot. It gets even more stressful when she visits one of her cases and finds the woman’s children locked in a closet and the mother claiming that she’s protecting them from evil. Spooky. But she ain’t buying it and gets those kids under protective care… or does she? Because later that night they are found drowned and the mother blames (and goes ahead and curses) Anna for their deaths. Soon Anna’s own children are seeing a spoooooooky ghost of a weeping lady who wants to hug them really really hard… until they die. Everywhere they look they are seeing (and feeling the burning touch) of this ghost lady and they’re like “get out of here, ghost lady.” Recruiting an exorcist that specializes in La Llorona (as this spooky ghost is known) they prepare for a final showdown. In the process La Llorona is all like “gimme dem kids” and they are all like “no” except the exorcist who is kinda like “sure, but only because it’s a trap.” In the end they do battle with the demon and using her own necklace charm against her they are able to totally own that ghost and everyone lives happily ever after. THE END… or is it? It is. Big Question: I personally would love to know how much was added or changed to fit this in the Conjuring Universe.

Why?! Lots of motivations here, besides the main characters who mostly just don’t want to die. La Llorona herself killed her children because her husband had an affair and left her. Thus she is cursed for all eternity to wander the earth crying and searching for her children. So she just wants her kids… awwww. As for Patricia, it’s a pretty straight forward case of her blaming Anna for the death of her children. So then she curses her right back. Like a psychopath she has no remorse for this until near the end of the film… like come on… you cursed her innocent children to die.

Who?! This could be an interesting addition to the Who repertoire in noting that Marisol Ramirez played our movie monster La Llorona in this film. Sometimes this can be a great boon for an actor, so perhaps when we’re watching La Llorona X in 25 years we’ll be like “Marisol Ramirez is really why I keep coming back.” 

What?! Again, somewhat horror specific, but a movie monster also often has some sort of object that is its weakness. Dracula 2000 helpfully explained why draculas don’t like sun (he was Judas hung at sunrise) and why he drinks blood (he was Judas and Jesus stuff or whatever). Here La Llorona can’t cross seed from the Fire Tree (the tree that witnessed her kill her children) and is ultimately killed (?) when she is stabbed with a cross made from the tree. If only there would be twelve of these films so we can understand where her power to control electricity comes from (introduced in the fourth installment).

Where?! Really nice California and Los Angeles specific setting. Works well with the actual La Llorona legend and would have been a nice one for a map considering how sneaky important it is. Only critique is that it rains far to much in the film for it to actually be LA.

When?! The best we get is a “1973” intertitle at the beginning of the film and the fact that school is in session and no holidays in sight. So Fall or Spring probably. Still, intertitle is good and an official period setting is enough to scratch out a B. That being said, I think this film might be the least effort ever taken to make a film look like it’s set in the 70’s.

Having just watched Countdown (and objectively more ramshackle production than this one) I can’t believe I’m going to say this but… this might be worse. It is not scary and has terrible monster design… which are two of the most important aspects of a horror film. So a failure on those two things is not a good look. It also is so shoehorned into the Conjuring Universe that they may as well have had an intertitle telling the audience “Somewhere in the Conjuring Universe.” Even the 1970’s setting seems like a complete afterthought. All that being said I did like the general look and feel of the film and so it wasn’t like it felt silly like Countdown or Slender Man or The Bye Bye Man. So a generally pleasant watch. Just surprisingly bad. Patrick? 

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! I got spooky scared by La Llorona which tried to steal my two children. But I was like “No, you can’t have them you spooky ghost!” … Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – Y’all know I like the Conjuring Universe. Kind of no matter what they do honestly. I like the idea of a connected spooky universe where hauntings are real. While the spin-offs seem to be hit-or-miss, I still ended up liking The Nun. So what the heck, I might have liked this, who knows? What were my expectations? I’m just hoping it gives an interesting ghost backstory. It is always nice when you can imagine the demon coming back and teaming up with other demons (like in The Conjuring 2) to make this extra spooky.

The Good – I thought the team up of the main character as a case worker and the ex-priest operating with the more mystical American legend worked quite well. Thinking about it, it is kind of a perfect team to handle Central/South American hauntings (whereas the Conjuring guys seemed to operate in the Northeast US / Europe style haunting). I’m sure this is the intention, and I kind of hope they follow through with that idea because it is fun. I’m also glad they didn’t give Linda Cardellini a love interest, it works quite well with her as a single mother. I also liked that they had the ghost attach itself to the family. Nicely counter to The Conjuring where the ghost explicitly haunted the house.

The Bad – The film is a mess. There seemed to be an inkling of a morality tale in the La Llorona legend, and they introduce it briefly, but then abandon that quickly. The monster design is terrible. Not scary, and not interesting. A boring backstory for the ghost, which is all you really care about with The Conjuring in the first place. Pretty standard story with The Conjuring spin-offs: too much time spent setting everything up, and not enough actually giving effective scares.

The BMT – I would watch a bad Conjuring film every year if they want to give it to me. I love the extended Conjuring universe. It is a very cool idea, and even when it flops (like this one) you still get one or two cool nuggets that could be interesting in a future movie. I can’t wait for The Conjuring 3, good or bad. Did it meet my expectations? Nope. Without that interesting backstory for La Llorona the tension leaks out of the story. You want that backstory because it gives that dramatic tension, that maybe the audience will be able to figure out the key to La Llorona’s weakness that the main characters don’t have the information to figure out, and then finally do right at the end. Give me some of that! Instead it was a whole lotta nothing.

Roast-radamus – A very quick Setting as a Character (Where?) with Los Angeles playing a dual role. First, with a large Mexican population, it serves as a way for La Llorona to enter the US market. And second, I personally think La Llorona’s connection to water is meant as a comment on the city in the desert a la Chinatown. The eeriness of seeing storms in the desert I think is intentional. While a period piece, there isn’t a holiday for a When call is unlikely. I’ll give a minor MacGuffin (Why?) for Cardellini’s two children as the only thing La Llorona wants. And it’ll enter into the Live discussion for 2019 films, but I don’t think it’ll make it.

StreetCreditReport.com – La Llorona was already notable for bringing in the least money for any of the wildly successful Conjuring films. Otherwise I can’t really find it on the few lists that exist so far. I don’t think it’ll get any razzie nods as it isn’t a high profile target. I guess it could end up being the worst Conjuring Universe film ever when all is said and done, but who knows, the Conjuring Universe could last forever!

You Just Got Schooled – Having watched most of The Conjuring films (and Annabelle preventing us from watching that particular offshoot immediately) I decided that it was time to really do some homework. Up until a few years ago we tended to ignore homework, so looking through I quickly found a BMT film, The Haunting (1999), where I had never watched the original (and it was about a spooooooky ghost as well, convenient). Watching the original 1963 The Haunting, which Spielberg called the scariest film ever made, … well it wasn’t scary, but it was interesting and a pretty cool precursor to The Conjuring. The idea of a house just being evil is something the likes of Stephen King tend to use as well, most famously in The Shining. And the cast of characters (including Russ Tamblyn of West Side Story fame) is also well put together. Despite predating modern horror in many respects, it is a worthwhile watch as so many haunted house films seem to draw on the ideas put forth in The Haunting specifically. I’m thinking that 2020 will be a BMT Projects year, and one nice project would be to watch all of the homework I’ve put off before, so buckle up for more tangentially related You Just Got Schooled sections in the future. A- for The Haunting, probably not above average for quintessential horror from the 60s, but still really good.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Shaft (2019) Recap

Jamie

Shaft! That bad mother-shut-your-mouth is back, Jack! And he is ready to rumble… with his son?! Gulp. Can this odd couple pairing team up to solve the mysterious death of one of Shaft Jr.’s friends (and perhaps even get the girl(s)) before it’s too late? Find out in… Shaft (2019).

How?! After years of estrangement from his private eye father for reasons of safety (and because Shaft is kinda a dick), Shaft Jr. has made his way from MIT (what, what!) all the way to the FBI. But when one of his friends turns up dead under tragic and suspicious circumstances, he seeks out his father to help infiltrate the underbelly of his native NYC. Immediately the elder Shaft is incredibly problematic. Apparently years of unsafe sex and alcohol have rotted his brain and he has been reduced to spewing constant “kids these days” style humor mixed with homophobia. Truly a sad state of affairs. But despite his clear brain disease elder Shaft is still able to help Shaft Jr. (who also kinda sucks) figure out what’s going on. In fact his friend didn’t die of an accidental overdose, but instead was killed as part of an elaborate cover-up for a drug ring. Locking and loading and showing everyone just how cool guns are (ladies love ‘em), they go in and not only get all the evidence of this drug ring, but also blow away everyone. Murder is fun and so is being a man. He then tells the man to suck it and goes to work with his dad and grandpa in the private eye business. Shaft! Big Question: Like… what happened? Like… seriously?

Why?! Shaft Jr. actually goes way above the call of duty to solve the mysterious death of his friend. He could have just accepted the accidental overdose story, but he keeps digging and I guess that’s because he’s a Shaft and because he loved his friend (awww). The bad guy is a drug dealer. He likes to deal drugs. Because it makes him money.

Who?! Method Man shows up in a fairly minor part. The part’s more like something that would go to a character actor than a cameo for a musician-turned-actor. But I guess that’s what Method Man is at this point. He’s an actor getting regular work in TV and movies.

What?! It’s hard to say that all the techmology in the film is even product placement. The amount that Shaft Jr. uses his iPhone and Apple laptop is probably reflective of how much a person actually would be using it. And yet I don’t think it can be said enough just how much advertisement Apple gets from films like this where they just want a generic snazzy tech storyline to “update” an old classic for the new generation.

Where?! NYC all the way. That would have been the biggest slap in the face if the film opened and it’s revealed that Shaft has moved to Atlanta. Or like is vacationing there and is always like “I’m on my vacation!” whenever something bad happens. But no, still NYC thank god. A.

When?! The toxicology report for Shaft Jr.’s friend is dated 10/29 for when the sample was collected. So everything takes place around then, which makes sense given the attire that everyone is wearing. But it’s tough. Wouldn’t be surprised if that is contradicted elsewhere in the film. C+

I enjoyed the original Shaft and then surprisingly had a lot of fun watching the 1999 version with Samual L. (bolstered by a stellar cast). As a result my brain pretty much melted when I started watching this film. They turned what was a fun and funny action film into a modern comedy like Central Intelligence. The acting is dire. The script is dire. My outlook on life was dire. When Samuel L. finally showed up I was relieved. Unfortunately his character, while occasionally still fun, was often reduced to unpleasant jokes that made me feel bad (since they were the only remotely funny things in the film). He became the butt of the joke, but also not enough to totally write off the fact that you have an incredibly problematic character as your hero. It is tragic and I did not like it. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! I secretly love 1970s hard-boiled detective films. The other thing I like? Remakes/sequels to those 1970s films that make me regret liking the original film! Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – A few months ago I went to Brighton Pride with a friend of my wife’s and it was very fun. People naturally know I love bad movies (because I tell them this constantly), and so this friend, who also likes bad movies, had a huge recommendation: Shaft (2019). He described it as Boomer Humor distilled. Which obviously made me excited. Also there was a ludicrous The Guardian review about precisely that. What was I expecting? I mean … that? Homophobia, out-of-touch, unpleasant humor that made me sad. That’s just about it.

The Good – I think if this was just Ride Along 3 and they didn’t feel the need to explain how a stereotype from the 70s could still exist in the modern world then the film would just be “meh”. The film looks good, and it wasn’t as unpleasant as I expected. That is actually the big shock. I fully expected to feel the same was as with Death Wish, and I didn’t. The film is silly, and they make it abundantly clear that Shaft is an asshole who pushes away everyone around him and can barely have a relationship with his adult son. So that’s a positive.

The Bad – This movie is terrible before Shaft plays a big part in it. The acting is awful. The storyline is tired. And the entire thing might as well be Ride Along 3, or CHIPS 2, or whatever. There is very little besides the presence of Samuel L. Jackson to even suggest it is a Shaft film. And then you can list off the fact that the film is indeed pretty stupid about generational conflict in general. It isn’t super unpleasant because Shaft Jr. might as well be saying “Ok, Boomer” whenever Shaft says yet another dumb thing, but it is still distressing that maybe people think such jokes could be construed as funny.

The BMT – I think this makes me ever more confident that watching movie series is a rather fun thing to do. Time consuming, but still fun. Otherwise, I guess I’ll throw this in with CHIPS as a kind of weird update to something from pre-90s that doesn’t really seem all that necessary. Did it meet my expectations? Weirdly I think The Guardian slightly overblew how terrible Shaft seems in the film. Sure it is immature how little he thinks of Millennials, but his Millennial son gives as good as he gets and it seems more like they are trying to straddle two different audiences (older audiences who liked the 70s Shaft, and younger audiences they are hoping to draw into the action/comedy bit).

Roast-radamus – You can make a decent argument for Setting as a Character (Where?) obviously for NYC. I also think the Apple advertisements in the film is just enough to sneak in consideration for Product Placement (What?). I wish there was a better MacGuffin or a hilarious Planchet to deal with. It’ll maybe get consideration for Live, but I bet there are five better 2019 films as well.

StreetCreditReport.com – Now that we are so close to December there has to be a few lists of bad movies to populate. The main credit I think comes from the eviscerating reviews that came out at the time. That Guardian piece went semi-viral, people are my workplace specifically mentioned it to me. Other than that it gets a shout out in some YouTube videos and the Looper piece which has mentioned most of the films we’ve been watching so far for the 2019 cycle.

You Just Got Schooled – There are a lot of Shaft to deal with. There are three original films, a film from 2000, and also a television show (which in reality was a series of television movies that ran in the 70s). For this specific film I decided to watch the original, the 2000 sequel, and save the other Shaft-canon for another time. I very much enjoyed the original, which indeed had the feel of The French Connection, and Roundtree is great. But I also agree with Ebert, the weakest part of the film is that at times Shaft seems to go out of his way to bait the white cops around him for no real reason. Apparently the other original films ends up shedding this specific characteristic of Roundtree’s character. The 2000 sequel is also pretty good. At times it is pretty silly and very 90s, with a particularly poor performance by Lee Tergesen (of Oz fame), but Samuel L Jackson is pitch perfect in the role, and Christian Bale ends up as an amusingly smarmy racist real estate heir. I liked both of those movies and no doubt will like the other films once I get around to them. B+ as far of BMT homework goes I think.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

The Hustle Recap

Jamie

Josephine Chesterfield is a conwoman extraordinaire living it up in the south of France. But when a less refined conwoman, Penny Rust, strolls into town they decide their isn’t room for both of them. They set up a contest to con a bumbling tech entrepreneur out of money, winner takes France. Can they con (or be conned?) before it’s too late? Find out in… The Hustle.

How?! Setting: French Riviera, Objective: Deception. That’s what life is all about for Josephine who, with the help of a local policewoman, takes monetary advantage of the many wealthy men who pass through her world. Unfortunately that world is about to be rocked by Penny Rust, a loud Australian bore whose rough exterior hides a cunning ability to dupe unsuspecting men. Josephine first tries to get rid of Penny by steering her to a different resort town. When that doesn’t work she gets her arrested and plays hero by freeing her and getting her on a one way ticket out of town. Finally, she takes Penny under her wing and mentors her in a game whereby they trick a man into proposing to Josephine only to have Penny, dressed as some kind of insane monster woman, scare them away, leaving behind the engagement ring. But when she insists that Penny go unpaid she leaves in a huff and everything seems great, right? Wrong! That’s because Penny is still hanging around cramping Josephine’s style. Only one thing left to do: a con-off. They pick a bumbling young entrepreneur, Thomas, as the mark and off they go. Zany adventures abound as Penny pretends to be blind and Josephine a prominent doctor. Oh boy oh boy. It sure is zany. Long story short it all predictably ends with Josephine and Penny becoming the marks (what a twist!) as Thomas turns the tables on them and steal their money out from under them. They are all angry until Thomas returns to rope them into joining up with him for even bigger better schemes (in the sequel? No? OK). THE END. Big Question: Did Thomas actually invent the app YaBurnt that Penny gushes over… because she clearly implies it’s real… so did he invent a popular app as part of a small potatoes con scheme?

Why?! Cash money, baby. Somewhere in the middle of the film Josephine makes some argument about how it’s really about using the fact that men underestimate women against them, but really everyone is just in it for the lettuce. The green. The cheddar. Dollah dollah bills y’all.

Who?! I love when there is a little story with a credit. Here we have a Special Thanks for Christian Louboutin and you’re all like ‘the shoes?’ Yes, apparently he got a Thanks credit for providing the shoes that Anne Hathaway wore for the film. I like that.

What?! There is quite a bit of product placement in this film, mostly regarding the fashion mentioned above (you want to buy Anne Hathaway’s shoes? Too late). But easily the most prominent is how Anne Hathway organizes her life with a variety of Apple products. You too can orchestrate elaborate cons with the help of an iPad!

Where?! Like the original film this is very French Riviera centric. In particular Beaumont-sur-Mer. We get those sites, we get those sounds, and really I don’t think this could be set anywhere else given the original.

When?! We got rescued by a last minute intertitle. Right after Thomas offers to partner with our leading ladies we flash forward “6 months later” where we see the end of a three-person caper they are pulling off in London. What do we see in that scene? A large Christmas decoration on the bank of the Thames. Last second Secret Holiday buzzerbeater! B.

I’m not sure I understand why this exists. It’s almost a shot-for-shot remake of a classic comedy… except every change they made (and there weren’t many) was for the worst, in particular a plot hole the size of the French Riviera. As mentioned in my big question I just can’t figure how it’s possible for Thomas to orchestrate a con which involves pretending to be a tech entrepreneur of a wildly popular app. The inventor of the app would be featured somewhere in the news… or have his picture somewhere on the internet, particularly since Penny estimates that the popularity of the app would make him immensely rich. Do they do no research? Not even a double check that the guy is who they think he is before going full bore on an all out con job of the dude? It’s leads to only one conclusion: they are in fact terrible con artists… or I guess two conclusions: this is a terrible film. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! We are fully into the 2019 cycle now watching a critically panned comedy, The Hustle. It is I who will be conned by this movie? Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – A remake of a classic 80s comedy is always foreboding, but this maybe could work? I mean, it obviously didn’t since we’re watching it for BMT, but there was an original movie, Bedtime Story starring Marlon Brando, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels seems to just be that, but with 80s comedy … so why not Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with 2010s comedy? I don’t really see why not. Plus with the gender swap you can sidestep comparisons with Steve Martin. What are my expectations? A not-funny, lazy, cynical piece of garbage. Why? Because there is no explanations for why a film that is mainly comedians pretending to be overly posh should be a disaster otherwise. It can only be because it isn’t funny and makes people sad.

The Good – I like Anne Hatheway a lot, I think the character she created here works very well, specifically the accent which she specifically designed to make you wonder if she was just an American pretending to be British. There is a single laugh in the film (Train Bitch) which I guess is above average? The vistas! How could I almost forget the vistas! There are wonderful vistas. I also think it is genuinely well directed. Evokes a bit of the old 60s British model work (but with CGI) I think … I think that makes sense.

The Bad – It is a lazy piece of garbage. Every single beat of the film is incredibly predictable AND is it just a shot for shot remake of the original! The biggest offender being that you can’t help but immediately know the tech millionaire is just another con man, which then kind of ruins the film. Saves me from saying Alex Sharp is bad since he is kind of supposed to be acting that way? He’s far more entertaining in the brief bit at the end where he is an exotic animal smuggler from Texas. It also somewhat loses the thread at points. Probably the weirdest bit is that set up a training montage and a Lord of the Rings grift (which is pretty fun to be honest) but all of that takes maybe 15 minutes? The rest of the film ends up kind of drowning in setting up the “big” tech grift which itself is a giant plot hole. Like … did Alex Sharp actually invent the app or did Hatheway just not do any research into him? I’m sure Jamie will get into that more.

The BMT – I will forget about this film in about 15 seconds, and blessedly there is little chance it’ll get the sequel it was desperate to set up at the end of the film. This film, The Intruder, and Countdown is giving me a sense of dread about bad movies. All of them seem to be … overly workshopped? That’s what it feels like at least. Like they reshot, recut, and re-edited everything 100 times via studio intervention and what you get is passively entertaining (at least not really boring or laughably bad), but mostly shiny garbage. Did it meet my expectations? Sigh, yeah. You can’t open a box marked A Shiny Piece of Cynical Garbage and be surprised when inside there is a shiny piece of cynical garbage. Cynical is probably not the right word … just worthless vaguely entertaining studio nonsense? Whatever, I can’t even be bothered to think this through further.

Roast-radamus – Great Setting as a Character (Where?) for the French Riviera, a classic of the original as well. Some very minor Product Placement (What?) as well with some Apple computer tech stuff floating around. Obviously Worst Twist (How?) for the final twist that Alex Sharp somehow invented an app worth billions and is also the grandson of the most famous grifter in the world. That’s wild. It will in contention mostly for Live!, but unlikely to be considered for the other tree awards.

StreetCreditReport.com – Again, it is a bit too early for all of the lists to be complete, but it did get a shoutout on this Looper article. And also this very strange looking iDaily article. It’ll probably win a few Razzies because it is a pretty high profile target in the end. And it is somewhere among the worst con-man films as well (actually as noted in the preview it is probably the worst film that is actually primarily about con-men).

You Just Got Schooled – You know I had to do it, because I had somehow managed to never see Dirty Rotten Scoundrels in my life. And I’m glad I did, because I lost a looooot of respect for The Hustle after watching it. The film isn’t just a remake, it is a carbon copy of the original! It makes no sense to do it this way because you are now competing with Steve Martin toe-to-toe on comedy chops alone. And you’ll lose that every time. The movie is an A+, just watch that instead of The Hustle. How would I have done The Hustle? I would have made the two leads Bill Hader and Anne Hatheway. Keep Hatheway’s character of the rich con woman who resent men for thinking they are smarter than her. And give Hader Steve Martin’s character’s attitude than it was about time men got a chance to take money from rich women. And have the battle be applied to a rich couple. No con man twist at the end, just then make them realize they kind of fancy each other instead (and they also get twice the money, since they got to con both the husband and the wife). Close with them in Morocco performing a con that sounds suspiciously like the plot of The Man Who Knew Too Much. Big bang boom, flawless Jimmy Stewart impression by Hader (in case you were wondering why I cast him). Call me in the morning Netflix, I’m done.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

The Intruder Recap

Jamie

After scoring the big deal at work, Scott and Annie go looking to buy a house in Napa. They meet Charlie, who is looking to unload his million dollar family home and it seems like a match made in heaven. But soon it becomes clear that it’s a match made in hell because Charlie is a total nutso psycho. Can they stop Charlie before it’s too late? Find out in… The Intruder.

How?! Scott and Annie are the perfect couple. They are smart, beautiful and super rich and so we all identify with them and love them. They are looking to make their perfect lives complete by buying a multimillion dollar mansion in Napa and lo and behold Charlie is selling his dream house at this very moment. They pull the trigger and soon they are making that mansion their home. One problem though, Charlie is totally nuts and super weird and shows up at the house all the time being nuts and weird. Soon he’s doing all this creepy stuff around the house and Scott starts to suspect that Charlie may not be all that he seems. This paranoia puts stress on their marriage and soon it becomes clear that Charlie is seeing a little opening to get his house back and it involves wooing Annie and giving Scott the boot. Fed up, Scott confronts Charlie and then almost immediately gets run off the road while jogging (hmmm, wonder who did that?). Now totally freaked Scott insists that his friend go and make sure that Charlie isn’t wooing his wife while he’s laid up in the hospital. Wrong move, bro! Cause he gets an axe in the chest courtesy of Charlie. At this point, Annie is even a little creeped by Mr. Murder over there and it all culminates with her realizing that (spoiler alert!) he actually never left the house at all! He was living in some tunnels under the property like some Rambo. What a twist! In a final confrontation, Scott and Annie do battle with Charlie Rambo and totally blow him away in a ripoff of Sleeping with the Enemy (topical). THE END. Big Question: Was Charlie like… eating their food? I just really want to know more about how exactly he was living under their house for months… like… did he have a working toilet? Wouldn’t they have heard it? Lots of questions.

Why?! Well, Scott and Annie just want to live and have a happy marriage. Charlie… now that guy has a plan. What we learn is that he had a failing business built on lies that put him millions of dollars into debt. In order to pay off his debts he had to sell his house. But he’s not leaving (oh no) instead he’s gonna hang around long enough to woo Annie despite giving off sexy grandpa vibes (at best) and then marry her (?) and get his house back (???). It’s all very vague because he’s nuts.

Who?! While I was obviously tempted to use Dennis Quaid here as an actor-turned-musician, I restrained myself and will instead highlight Alvina August, a minor side actress in the film, who is also an aspiring singer… … never forget, though.

What?! One of the side characters sure does love his Audi, but really the star of this film is Recover 180°. Scott works on advertising for the drink several times in the film. They even show a full commercial for it. It’s actually a clever idea. Make your main character an advertising executive and then you can literally show entire commercials without anyone batting an eye. 

Where?! Superb San Fran/Napa setting. I think they could have gotten away with a New York City/NYC suburb dynamic. But that might be it. If they really wanted that A they would have probably had to have the house be a vineyard or something. Or have Scott be a tech entrepreneur rather than in advertising… you know, still giving it an A.

When?! Secret Holiday Film… kinda. This is like a roadtrip through time because after Scott and Annie buy the house we get a clear Thanksgiving scene and then some preparations for Christmas. If I had to choose I would say that Thanksgiving is the dominant as we get a rare thanksgiving dinner scene. Not a huge number of those in BMT films. A-.

This movie is mostly a pile of cliches built around rich people with rich people problems… alright, well maybe having Dennis Quaid living in some tunnels under your house isn’t exactly a rich person problem, but still. Really the only thing that this had going for it was that Dennis Quaid is off the hook and is snacking on scenery left and right. I’d also argue that the twist is fun, but also pretty standard, being in the same vein as “the call is coming from inside the house.” Except in this case it’s “the Quaid is coming from inside the house.” I personally felt like the film is more watchable than really thrilling or scary… but that still means it’s watchable. As for P.U.N.K.S., standard kids film made only mildly interesting by continual product placement, Randy Quaid putting on a full “nerd” character, and some wild character work by a couple of the kid actors… like one of the kids was super into health food… I have no idea why or what the joke actually was. It was pretty bizarre. As if Sly Stallone wrote the film or something, amiright? Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! I do remember when I rented my new apartment and discovered the landlord living under the house in a weirdo crawl space … I mean, it’s fine I still lived there, have you seen the rental market recently?! It’s as insane as my weirdo landlord! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I legit barely remembered this film existed when we chose it for the 2019 cycle. But Dennis Quaid as a psycho? I’m in. The cast did make me wonder if I was the target audience for the film … so did all the reviews which suggested it was made for people who wanted to shout at the characters in theaters. But I’m game, I’m always game to try new things. What are my expectations? I expect to see Dennis Quaid as a psycho. The more of a psycho he can be the better. I’ll probably be pretty unsatisfied if people aren’t like “Why is this pyscho around all the time?” though, I don’t know if I could bear it.

The Good – I liked Dennis Quaid. No offense to the other actors in this film, but Quaid seemed like the only genuine “film” actor in the film … we’ll get to that in the Bad section, sorry. I liked the creepy hole Dennis Quaid apparently lived in, that was a fun reveal. I kind of wish that reveal plus battling Quaid in this house he knows inside and out was more like 50% of the film, but the end is pretty fun for as short as it lasts.

The Bad – First, the film isn’t very thrilling, just kind of eerie. Second, the actors aren’t really that good, like they are all television actors, which is fine … for a thriller that is fine I think. Third, the actual last second ending in which the main character killed Dennis Quaid in cold blood after totally unarming him is a bit unsavory. It isn’t like The Call level offensive, but it is a bit bothersome. But hey, it was pretty much the only thing the film had going for it. It is quite literally going to be the only thing I’ll remember from this film in two weeks … well, that and Dennis Quaid screaming “NO!” which will haunt my dreams forever.

The BMT – Hmmmm, no. I think I like the idea of the film more than the film itself. I like this as the future mold for streaming titles. You make like … 100 of these films and a bunch of them are going to be good. Keep them a-comin’ is what I think. I’ll watch all the bad ones too. Did it meet my expectations? Sadly, much like all of the bad reviews for this film, I have to agree with the critics: the female lead in the film, Meagan Good, is just waaaaaaay too calm with Charlie wandering around and pretending he has anything to do with this house anymore. Every moment he shows up everything he says and does screams “I am a lunatic who is trying to steal your life/house/family” and yet she keeps on being like “He’s harmless”. If not for that I would say yes because I like Dennis Quaid’s psycho, people just needed to not pretend he wasn’t the biggest creeper in the world.

Roast-radamus – He isn’t a Planchet, but Scott’s friend Mike is something else … he’s the guy who’s such a doofus that you just don’t care when Dennis Quaid kills him, and he’s kind of great at it. I’ll give a shoutout for some great Product Placement (What?) with the main character driving his sweet Audi around all of the time. Very minor, but very a propos Setting as a Character (Where?) with the start-up scene in San Francisco and the solitude of Napa playing a huge part in the film. Obviously this ends up up for a Live Smaddies Baddies, but I doubt it’ll actually get any of the big awards in the end.

StreetCreditReport.com – This film came out long enough ago that it is on a few worst of lists already. Looper agrees with the critics in saying Quaid is good but the film is bad. Something called iDaily has it at 9 … and possibly is just aggregating Rotten Tomatoes data? I think this will go down as one of the worst … creepy homeowner selling his house, but still living in it and being creepy films ever made. For real, it’ll be number one.

Bring a Friend Analysis – Phew, the final friend of the year. The Intruder stars Dennis Quaid. And everyone knows his much more famous older brother Randy. I’m only kind of joking, that was probably at one point true. Randy Quaid started to slip a bit into obscurity after Independence Day in 1996. By 1999 he was staring opposite Henry Winkler in the genuine straight-to-video children’s film called P.U.N.K.S. In this film the son of Randy Quaid is worried about his genius father (Randy acting like a nerd-alert) having a heart attack while testing his super-strength machine for the eeeevil Edward Crow (Winkler). So he assembles his friends (the P.U.N.K.S.) to steal the invention and take Crow down. It has a decent anti-bullying message, but is cheesy with some of the worst acting I’ve ever seen. A young Jessica Alba was fun to see as Samantha, as was Patrick Renna whom some would know as Ham in The Sandlot. C+, I found it a pleasant enough watch, but ultimately kids’ films are just a bit too weird to stomach routinely.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Mercury Rising Recap

Jamie

Simon Lynch is an autistic child with a brain to solve puzzles. Art Jefferies is an FBI agent on the outs with the bureau. Their worlds collide when Simon inadvertently cracks a top secret government code and ends up in the crosshairs of government assassins. Can Art keep Simon safe and take out the bad guys (and maybe get the girl)? Find out in… Mercury Rising.

How?! Art is an FBI agent extraordinaire and he don’t take no guff from nobody. This of course gets him in hot water with his boss after a big undercover job goes south in South Dakota. Sent to desk duty he refuses to quit and boy howdy are we glad he did. That’s because poor little Simon, a boy with autism, is about to crack a new uncrackable government code that a couple of very smart dopes decide to put in a puzzle magazine for funsies. But when Simon cracks it with his beautiful mind, shit hits the fan and the bad guys start coming after Simon. A government hitman kills his parents but is spooked before getting Simon. Enter Art who uses his own beautiful mind to find Simon and figure out that something just isn’t right. Dead set on protecting the kid he foils the government hitman at every turn while dealing with a kid who he doesn’t understand and who doesn’t understand him (it’s touching). Soon people are dropping like flies and Bruce Willis builds a group of friends and strangers who realize that what seemed like paranoid delusions might actually be real and might actually go all the way to the top of the NSA. Oh no! In a climactic final scene they are able to foil the head of the NSA as he tries one last time to kidnap Simon and he totally murders him and everyone is like “good.” Soon Art finds himself visiting Simon in his new school and scores that big hug from Simon. Awwww. THE END. Big Question: How big a news story would this be? The head of the NSA is killed by police and falls off a skyscraper in Chicago… or would they use their spooky powers to hide it? GASP.

Why?! Our boy Bruce just can’t stay out of the action. He just does what’s right and what’s necessary without all that bureaucratic bullshit. The bad guy is just covering his ass and the child is just a child who loves puzzles (I identify).

Who?! Huh… how weird. I mean, we watched this film for Alec Baldwin and his bevy of brothers, but without realizing it we also picked a film with a sibling of another famous actor in it. Believe it or not John Travolta’s sister Margaret has a speaking role in this film! She’s a nurse that explains autism to Bruce Willis. We see you working Margaret Travolta.

What?! There is a shocking amount of product placement in this guy (Swiss Miss, sip it slowleeeeeee). Probably my favorite is the number of times that Starbucks shows up, culminating in the Starbucks meet-cute between our boy Bruce Willis and Stacy. What’s even crazier is that the Starbucks that they meet in is still in that exact same location in Chicago! It feels like there is still an opportunity to corner the market on Mercury Rising walking tours.

Where?! This is a super Chicago setting, although the film could be set almost anywhere. Lots of sights and sounds of Chicago. We also have part of the film set in DC and some brief scenes in South Dakota and Thailand. If we had done the mapl.de.map when BMT was more mature I am almost certain that this would have been the South Dakota setting. Not major, but very clear. B+.

When?! They botch the timing of this slight as we get a clear “June 9” on a security camera that Bruce Willis looks at, but then we also get a “June 9th” on the whistleblower letter one of the characters writes… but those two things can’t possibly have happened the same day. So basically an F… JK. Solid B.

We occasionally claim a BMT film is not that bad (not that bad), but it’s much rarer for us to make the call that a film is not just not that bad, but in fact maybe even kinda sorta good. I’m making that call! I think Mercury rising is a good thriller (and it’s got a little heart to boot). I enjoyed Bruce Willis. I enjoyed Alec Baldwin. I enjoyed the concept. Is it perfect? No. It lags a bit in the middle, goes heavy on Willis trying to connect with Simon, and shoehorns in a completely unnecessary love interest at the last minute. But it made me feel some emotions and thrilled me at all the right time. At the very least we can all agree that the 17% RT score it holds is a crazy underestimation of the merits of this film. As for the Bring a Friends we brought along, we really ran the gamut this week. Fallout was actually kinda a fun, dumb space action film that seemed at times like Daniel Baldwin was edited in from a different movie. Weirdly, it also had a shockingly strong female lead… better than almost all Hollywood films you’d watch. Backdraft 2 is a sad joke given that the original film is quite enjoyable. It feels like a two-part pilot for a television series that never got off the ground, but by all accounts it was always intended to be a film… not sure I believe it. Laughably inadequate. Finally, Dead Weekend… oh Stephen Baldwin… did you lose a bet? This is barely a film that is excruciating and at times uncomfortable to watch. There are only three explanations: 1) Stephen read the script and saw the words “sex alien” and was like “I’m in.” 2) Stephen knew the director and did him a favor after hashing out the plot over beers. 3) Stephen overheard someone talking about the upcoming film Species and thought “I gotta get in on that sex alien action” and found whoever would let him make a sex alien picture ASAP. It is one of the worst things I’ve ever seen. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! So I have all of this mercury, and the darnest thing is happening to it … its rising! We watched Mercury Rising, let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – Watching the trailer and reading up on the film made me wonder … is this actually a bad film? It seems like critics were just annoyed that it was so predictable and Bruce-Willis-y. But does that a bad thriller make? It was a big question, I was ready to be annoyed by Bruce-Willis-ness. What were my expectations? Honestly, I figured this would end up being a fine thriller which I would like. The 90s thriller is pretty good, and that might be a bit of nostalgia speaking, but hey, maybe I just like 90s thrillers.

The Good – I think this is a fine 90s thriller. Bruce Willis is silly, but if you like Bruce Willis it is fine. Alec Baldwin is a scene-chewing villain who might as well have had a giant moustache, but again, if you like Alec Baldwin it is fine. The storyline is silly, but if you let it wash over you and not think about it too much then (say it with me) it is fine. You picking up what I’m putting down? This movie is a fine 90s thriller. I would gladly watch it again right then. Fight me. I did genuinely like the Chicago setting. Just works for thriller, reminded me of The Fugitive.

The Bad – Having one of the two main characters be a severely autistic child makes the film a bit tough to handle, just because there isn’t much of a dialogue for extended periods of time. The directing kind of sucks, and it relies a bit on flashbacks and characters expositing at you every few scenes. It is a bit sad that the main female lead is just a random person Willis finds in a coffee shop an hour into the film. It would have been a decent opportunity to introduce an ex-girlfriend / ex-wife character for Willis, but maybe that would make it too close to Die Hard.

The BMT – I mean … it’ll go down as a good film in BMT basically. An example of how critics can sometimes fatigue on a particular lazy style of storytelling, and they just ruin a film for being tired and boring. But I liked the film and would gladly watch it again, what can I say. Did it meet my expectations? Yes, but that is kind of a bad thing. Something being surprisingly good is amusing (e.g. Freddy Got Fingered), but something being 90s-Bruce-Willis-Thriller is just a film I would show someone if they wanted to watch a film like this. Nothing more, nothing less.

Roast-radamus – Very minor Setting as a Character (Where?) for Chicago. It is a very Chicago film, but it could probably be set in NYC as well. Some great Product Placement (What?), but my personal favorite is Swiss Miss (It’s hooooooot, sip it slowleeeeeeeeeeee) which our autistic boy hero drinks every day when he gets home from school. You can make a decent argument the child himself is a MacGuffin (Why?) as well which is pretty fun. And finally, it will definitely be on my shortlist for Good, not least because I think good BMT film examples are pretty few and far between.

StreetCreditReport.com – There is really nothing about this film beyond that critics really didn’t like it. It actually seemed like some reviews enjoy the premise (and Alec Baldwin in particular), but then find it not very thrilling and pretty dumb. Agree to disagree. I do think this could be the worst film with a severely autistic main character, and it’ll be in the mix for an extended list for worst films set in Chicago (maybe).

Bring a Friend Analysis – Alongside Mercury Rising we watched (gasp) three other Baldwin brother films! First up was Dead Weekend starring Stephen Baldwin. And this film is wild. A sci-fi art film all dressed up as a straight-to-Starz erotic thriller of some kind? Legend has it Alec told Stephen not to do Bio-Dome because it would destroy his career … but this came out a year prior. Something tells me Stephen’s career was already in trouble. Second was Fallout starring Daniel Baldwin. This film, on the other hand, is one of the classic straight-to-video films focusing on “one cool thing”, in this case “spaceships”. Baldwin plays a down and out astronaut who ends up having to save the world from a group of Russian separatists (kind of, let’s not get into the politics) who have taken over an international space station and satellite network. It was actually really good looking. The main issue is Daniel Baldwin who is genuinely out of shape and a bad actor. A random guy like Michael Dudikoff would have been less distracting. But maybe the best one-cool-thing videos I’ve seen thus far, which is saying something. And finally we watched Backdraft 2 starring William Baldwin. Somehow they managed to get Donald Sutherland and William Baldwin to come back for this ill-fated direct-to-VOD sequel to the Kurt Russell classic. Jamie nailed it on this one, it is more like a television pilot than anything else. Complete with the streetwise partner and the magic-mathematian girlfriend for our main character to utilize in all his arson hunting glory. As a pilot it is passable for an 8pm CBS drama, as a film it is a sad example of the worst that streaming has to offer.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

The Circle Recap

Jamie

Mae is a recent grad not living up to her potential. But when she gets a job at the biggest, coolest, best company in the world, The Circle, she knows she’s going places. It soon becomes clear that the company is not exactly what it seems. So can Mae stop the founders before it’s too late? Find out in… The Circle.

How?! Mae is wasting her time answering phones at a company in her hometown before she finally decides to cash in on some powerful college connections to get an interview at The Circle, a big tech company that combines your real and online self into one entity. Impressed with her drive for reaching maximum potential, the company starts her in customer service. She soon becomes disillusioned when the company’s founder, Ty, shows her some top secret and immensely troubling developments in the company at the same time that her best friend from home is dealing with online harassment as a result of the company. Venting her frustration she steals a kayak for a midnight trip only to capsize and be rescued by one of the company’s very obviously ridiculous surveillance technologies. Following the incident and at the behest of the company’s other two founders, Eamon and Tom, Mae becomes the leading proponent of these ridiculous and satire-like technologies and shoots up the corporate ladder. While showing off the newest and most over-the-top ridiculous stupid serveillance technology she inadvertently gets her best friend killed. Clearly she can’t still be a proponent of the company right? Wrong! Instead she comes the immensely dumb conclusion that the only thing that would have saved her friend was EVEN MORE SURVEILLANCE. So she returns to the company, tricks Eamon and Tom to agree to be tracked everywhere, releases all their top secret emails, and takes over the company which requires that everything everyone does should be public. Because that’s the only rational conclusion, right? RIGHT?!!!! My god. Big Question: Is this serious or a satire? The completely awful ludicrous plot would suggest a satire. Everything else points to them being serious… which is insane.

Why?! This is actually a little confounding. Obviously most of the people in the film are craven capitalists who are out only to make money at all costs. Mae on the other hand is our main character and it seems like the film wants us to like her… except everything she does is either because she a) genuinely believes that constant surveillance of private citizens is necessary for the good of the world or b) she is also just a craven capitalist climbing the ladder. I really would have preferred option b. Would have been actually kinda refreshing to finish the film and realize she was the same as the bad guys. But instead they tried to dress her crazy ideas up as something good when they are terrible. Just terrible.

Who?! Somehow this film had one of the best random cameos of the year as we were treated to a full Beck concert as a demonstration of just how rad and cool The Circle was as a place to work. Seems like an odd thing for Beck to agree to except that he was releasing an album at the time and sang on of the singles.

What?! There was a very funny product placement in the middle of this film. When Mae first meets Ty he is awkwardly standing off to the side of a big party. Mae is also feeling awkward and laments the lack of alcohol only for Ty to pull out his secret stash of Cupcake wine. Nothing goes better with the surveillance state than a smooth glass of Cupcake wine.

Where?! San Fran, where else. Seriously, where else would you possibly set a film about a huge, monopolistic tech company that is veering into dangerous surveillance territory? This has to be an A. Can’t be anywhere else.

When?! Pretty obviously takes place over a long period of time as she works at The Circle for several months before making her dramatic rise up the corporate ladder. They don’t even go to the trouble of saying something like “Mom and Dad, I’d love to come home for TGivs, but I have too much work to do.” Missed opportunity. F.

I hated this film. I hated watching it, but I also hated the joke of a premise. It seemed like they were going for some kind of “information wants to be free” message, but for whatever reason put behind a seriously messed-up pro-surveillance plot. You keep waiting for the main character (presumably who we are supposed to identify with and root for) to turn against the company and bring it crumbling down. Instead they have her succeed in taking over the company only to turn around and RAMP UP the egregious surveillance. We even get a happy little ending where she smiles lovingly at a drone camera to tell the world how happy she is to be tracked at all times by cameras. Cooooooooool. The only good things to point to is Tom Hanks and John Boyega who are both good at acting. Everything else sucks. As for Buford’s Beach Bunnies, somehow that film had more brains than The Circle. There was even some shockingly nuanced discussions between the main characters about trauma and how they were trying to deal with abuse in their past. If it wasn’t a gross, low-production, semi-porno I daresay I’d almost recommend it. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! I think when they made this book/film they thought they were taking a bit of creative license to exaggerate the Googles and Facebooks of the world. Now … at least Facebook seems maybe rather close? Too bad the movie kind of sucks. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – The craziest thing, in retrospect, from the preview is that they ended up completely changing the ending to the film because audiences hated Emma Watson’s character so much. The ending to the book is basically that her character completely buys into The Circle and ends up betraying the original founder (Ty) in order to bring about the world domination by The Circle (or whatever, it is something like that). Ultimately they decided to soften this a bit which is nuts … we’ll get to that in the bad section. What were my expectations? Basically The Space Between Us. So some interesting ideas, some decent acting from the older stars, but kind of boring, rote, nonsense. That is what I expected … I had low expectations.

The Good – I think the journey Emma Watson goes through in the beginning is pretty interesting. The evisceration of the Silicon Valley unicorn was somewhat satisfying, even more so a few years after its initial release. I like Tom Hanks, and Patton Oswalt, and the acting in general actually. Boyega in particular does a pretty excellent job at portraying the introverted co-founder floating around on campus. There is everything here you’d want to construct a decent movie. It just isn’t really that good.

The Bad – The fact that Tom Hanks goes on stage and proposes a police state run by a corporation and half the auditorium isn’t like “wait wait wait … what?!”doesn’t feel true to form. At least, it feels like a good 50% of the engineering workforce would be just disgruntled (which I assume is the state of Facebook at the moment … I hope that is true at least). Emma Watson’s character is actually a dumb garbage person. Secrets are lies? Get the fuck out of here with that fascist bullshit. They don’t even bother presenting the other side of that important argument. The word “privacy” is only mentioned like once near the end! It is the entire argument against the “secrets are lies bullshit”! You have a right to privacy, I don’t think that many people disagree with that statement, but they can’t even be bothered to address that? The only thing that could have saved this film was the full heel turn at the end. I would have actually be genuinely impressed if they had gone through with it and had her stab Ty in the back and become an exec at the company. Pulling the punch at the end was a cop out.

The BMT – I certainly will throw it in the same bin as Transcendence and The Space Between Us. Movies with interesting ideas which either go nowhere, are sloppily done, or, in this case, pull their potentially powerful punch right at the end. I wouldn’t revisit it, nor would I recommend it to anyone. If anything it makes me want to read the book. Did it meet my expectations? By being The Space Between Us for BMT 2019? Sure. For being a bad movie that I would recommend to anyone in any capacity? No, it didn’t. But I didn’t mind watching it in the end. Some interesting ideas peppered in there.

Roast-radamus – I can’t remember a specific product placement … maybe a beer here and there? Since The Circle was so ubiquitous there wasn’t any real tech product placements. I think it has real Worst Twist (How?) potential though with Watson exposing the creators of The Circle and making it … I don’t even remember? Was the company good in the end or something? Small potential for Bad just for being sloppily made. That’s it though, pretty thin movie from a trope perspective.

StreetCreditReport.com – I guess I shouldn’t be surprised (2017 was a surprisingly strong year for bad movies it turns out, Flatliners, Bye Bye Man, Baywatch, Transformers 5, The Snowman, The Space Between Us, Rings, The Emoji Movie, Chips, Fifty Shades Darker, Geostorm, The Mummy, and those are only the ones we’ve watched for BMT. It did get a shout out on this online review. But that’s it. I think it is plausibly on a list for the worst “tech” related films. But it wouldn’t get number one, I would but Transcendence above it at the very least.

You Just Got Schooled – Nothing about the movie this week … mainly because Jamie and I started in on P&A Magazine’s 6th Puzzle Boat. Basically it is 100 or so puzzles … and you do them. We find it fun, wanna fight about it? Anyways, that’s why I didn’t watch some random Emma Watson movie to school you. Because I was schooling myself with puzzles.

Bring a Friend Analysis – Ah, I nearly forgot that I had to watch Buford’s Beach Bunnies starring Jim Hanks this week! To start with I literally texted Jamie in the first ten minutes and asked “So … can I just not watch this film?” But weirdly, as I watched the film I kind of took a shine to it. The director/writer is somewhat notable for making micro-budget films in the 80s and 90s. And unlike something like Roller Blade Seven (which was too weird to be anything but an “art film”), this was truly the work of a man who loved film. Combine that with what is, in reality, a very sensitive discussion about sexual trauma and weirdly the film is … kind of good. Well, right until the big reveal at the end where, very obviously, they couldn’t figure out how to end things so they yada-yada-hypnotize-crime-and-trial-yada-yada everything. But, all things considered, a lot better than it had any right to be. Would watch the middle again gladly, but maybe would skip the rest. B-.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Rambo: Last Blood Recap

Jamie

Rambo is back, Jack! And boy is he old. When the girl he has helped raise decides to try to find her father in Mexico and is kidnapped by a gang, he is ready to spring back into action to save her. Can he save the girl and kill all the bad guys before it’s too late? Find out in… Rambo: Last Blood.

How?! Rambo has spent the last decade living it up on his horse farm in Arizona. He loves the quiet life of training horses, helping raise the daughter of the woman who helps him with his housekeeping, and building intricate tunnels under the ground (naturally). When the girl says she wants to go to Mexico to find her father Rambo is like “no…” but obviously she is going to go. When she gets down there a former friend of hers sells her to a gang running a prostition ring. Realizing what’s happened Rambo heads down Mexico way in order to bust some skulls. He tracks her from place to place punching people and snapping their bones, only to get nearly killed when the gang confronts him about why he’s skulking about. After a long recovery with the help of an investigative reporter, he convinces her to get him the necessary information to get find her. Busting in, he’s able to recover the girl, but she dies from her injuries on the way back to Arizona. Devastated Rambo totally pimps up his tunnels into a death trap and heads back to Mexico. There he kills one of the leaders of the gang and goads the rest to follow him back to their death. They oblige. Lots of explosions, bows and arrows, and punching and shooting later and they are all dead and Rambo is alive. THE END. Big Question: The big elephant in the room… is this film racist? The obvious answer is yes (just like Death Wish is racist)… but also somehow less racist than I thought it would be considering the hullabaloo.

Why?! I really could have just written one of these for the entire series. Rambo wants to save (some POWs/Trautman/some missionaries/the girl he considers his daughter) and will stop at nothing to rescue them/win. And as is the case with all of the films (particularly the last couple) the bad guys are cartoonishly evil and do some truly terrible shit because they are evil.

Who?! I’m struggling a little for this category so I’ll just wax poetic about Rambo. Really the most important thing to wonder is what would happen if Rambo had to rescue his daughter-figure from the clutches of Jason. Would he die. Jason is a supernatural monster powered by lightning. And Rambo has some sweet muscles but no paranormal powers himself. My conclusion though is that Rambo survives. Jason always does get put back into hibernation at the end of the film. Why not by Rambo?

What?! It really took me out of the film to watch Rambo with his dying breath reach for a final sip of Bulleit Bourbon and washes it down with a refreshing Coca-Cola. But seriously Rambo really abandoned the product places following the 80s. Also can’t expect there to really be props for sale yet but there is already two replica knives from the film for sale… seems impossible.

Where?! Nice split setting between Arizona and Mexico. Good example of both and pretty equally represented. I guess if I had to give it to one of the spots as the primary setting I would go with Mexico as Rambo films are really defined by the setting in which Rambo kicks ass and takes names. Given the plot it does seem necessary. A.

When?! As has become tradition the temporal setting is really just “present day.” However, in this case we do get a little more specificity as the beginning of the film revolves around Rambo’s daughter-figure heading off to college in the near future. So likely we are thinking August 2019. Better than the others. C.

Well it’s better than the fourth film. I thought this one started out pretty good. A little strange that all of a sudden Rambo was super talkative and said more than six words. Seemed a little out of character, but I guess fatherhood will do that to you. The latter half was still not really for me, but again somehow more palatable than the fourth. I think they stumbled in killing Rambo’s daughter-figure and probably should have just followed through on the obvious ending of Rambo killing the gang, but also getting mortally wounded in the process. That actually would have been kinda great and honestly do they really think they’re going to maybe make another one? Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Phew, we finally did it. We prepped our mind to go and watch a real (and hopefully the last) Rambo film in theaters. Our minds promptly shut down and now I only know Rambo. My mind has been consumed by Rambo. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – The rumors surrounding this film were that it was aggressively racist. I think the original story was described as Rambo as border control or something … or like he takes on an entire cartel himself. It changed since then, so I don’t think it is actually racist, but it isn’t great when you go into a film literally only knowing that about it. What are my expectations? Alright, let’s aim low. I will be pleased if this is better than the fourth one which I hated. If we can get there, I’ll be really really pleased with how my theater experience went.

The Good – Immediately pleasantly surprised to see what Stallone chose to do with Rambo. The softening warrior who finds new meaning in life via a surrogate daughter is precisely the kind of ending I would hope for Rambo. Additionally, while the film didn’t really feel like a Rambo film at any particular time, I thought the story actually made a pretty good movie for the first 30 minutes or so. And gosh darn it, I can’t help it: I like Stallone. I find his level of charisma the thing that is mostly lacking in the current crop of over-muscled action stars. No wonder we keep on making action blockbusters with old people from the 80s.

The Bad – The Home Alone ending is, somehow, the worst part of the entire movie. It looked like they had to recut the film and just set something up that was both familiar and able to be shot in 30 different segments by a B-crew over a two week span. I also really didn’t like that they killed off the daughter-figure. I think the choice to have her go through the hardship she faced is perhaps understandable (contrasting with something like Taken), but to kill her manages to undo everything I thought they did well with Old Rambo in the beginning of the film. Him killing off the cartel and dying to save this young woman who gave him a reason to live in his old age would have been a perfect send off for Rambo’s character. Through all his killing, facing off against evil because of the country / morals he believed in, and he ends up dying for someone he believes in? That’s beautiful. And they threw it away.

The BMT – Meh. I think I would rather just give the first as the best film, the second as the best action film, the third as the best ridiculous action film, and the fourth as the worst film. I don’t really feel the need to ever watch this again. But if you’ve watched the first four, the fifth one I guess completes the set. A better send off than the fourth at least. Did it meet my expectations? Resoundingly. Honestly I thought the first half was a pretty good film. Wasn’t really a Rambo film, but still, a pleasantly interesting story. Which is a lot better than the hot garbage that is Rambo (2008) from start to finish.

Roast-radamus – Hmmm, I think again the combination of Arizona and Mexico gives a pretty compelling Setting as a Character (Where?) for this film as well. They really really know settings. After that it’ll just end up competing in the Live category which it will definitely lose. There are definitely going to be worse 2019 films I think.

StreetCreditReport.com – This is where this gets a bit difficult since it just came out. I think Stallone will gather a Razzie nod for his performance, the Razzies are getting a little weird with the voting and I don’t think they’ll be able to avoid the allure of awarding Stallone again. Otherwise I doubt it’ll get much play on any of the big lists / awards. It has a built in audience and I think people actually do consider these things “good for what they are”.

BMT Live Theater Experience – I once again ventured off to Cineworld. This time I made sure that I was getting the 2D showing specifically, to avoid another Hellboy situation where I’m getting like … blood sprayed in my face during the 4DX showing or something. I actually can barely remember anything about the showing besides that the guy next to me walked about half way through. I thought he was just going to the bathroom but … nope, he never came back. Very pleasant experience, a rarity for Cineworld, but I was impressed with what happens when you don’t go at like 11PM on a Thursday … turns out it isn’t super gross and weird when other people are there. Go figure.

Cheerios, and back to you Jamie!