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!

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Rambo (2008) Recap

Jamie

Rambo is back, Jack! Living contently in Thailand wrangling snakes, Rambo is convinced to bring some missionaries into war-torn Myanmar. When they are captured he goes in with mercenaries to get them back, no matter the cost. Can he get them back and take down the bad guy before it’s too late? Find out in… Rambo.

How?! Rambo is still living his life in Thailand catching snakes for a living (obviously). When some missionaries come looking to hire him to bring them over the border to war-torn Myanmar he’s like “… … … no” but the female missionary, Sarah, sees good in Rambo and convinces him to help them. So he’s like “… … … yes.” On the way in, they get attacked by pirates and the missionaries are shocked by Rambo’s ruthlessness in dispatching them. He drops them off only to find out a short time later that they were all kidnapped by a monstrous military group. Joining up with some mercenaries being sent in for a rescue, he immediately sets about killing members of the military group who are torturing hostages. This is much to the surprise of the mercenaries who didn’t expect to have the boatman turn out to be a killing machine. Using Rambo’s skillz they are able to infiltrate the camp and retake the prisoners, but Rambo has to stay behind to personally save Sarah. Coming up behind he does all kinds of classic Rambo traps and comes in just at the right moment to mow down THE ENTIRE ARMY with a big  ol’ gun. People literally explode with bullets. At the end, Sarah looks around to find Rambo and his sweet bod, but he’s already gone, ready to find out whether he can restart his life in Arizona. THE END. Big Question: Do you think Rambo kills people any other times in his life but they just don’t make a movie about it? Seems like every ten years he kills like 400 people and then takes a break.

Why?! Again, ain’t no motivation for Rambo other than rescuing some innocents. Really I think that answers the above question… like how often does he have to rescue an innocent from the clutches of a bad guy. Pretty rare. I personally have never had to. So if he’s hanging around the market and a dude steals a lady’s purse he ain’t batting an eye. That lady is safely out of the clutches of a bad guy, and that purse ain’t an innocent. Open and shut case.

Who?! One of the mercenaries is shown singing a couple different blues songs and I was like “oh, he’s pretty good and the songs are pretty good.” Little did I know he was actual blues singer-turned-actor Jake La Botz. We’ll see him again in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter… probably in an El Presidente cycle or something. 

What?! It’s almost like these films get smaller and smaller. So while earlier films had a number of things for the different sections, the later films became more and more about Sly himself and almost nothing else. However, I can always ask the question whether I would be fortunate to have a full Rambo costume available to buy online. My God. Only 3000 pounds. A steal!

Where?! Once again split between Thailand and the main setting. In this case war-torn Myanmar. Unlike the second and third films, I don’t think the context makes this entirely indispensable. So B+ this time.

When?! I can only assume this continues to trend of taking place when the film was made. In this case seems to be mostly 2007 in Myanmar during or following the Saffron Revolution (given the news footage shown at the beginning of the film). D+

Oh boy… I hated this film. It is gross and looks bad and I didn’t like it. For BMT I don’t really allow for the argument that a film was perhaps “not made for me.” All bad films were made for us. Even kids’ films and rom coms. They are all part of one big BMT universe. Not this. I’m not sure who this was made for but I’m sure they had a great time watching this trash. Maybe Sly just made it for himself. This is the one he wrote and directed so… I guess this is his gross terrible vision. I did not enjoy it. 2 ½ stars.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! My mind is slowly melting as I watch what seems like an unending series of Rambo films. This is probably the worst one … you know the one that seems like it was only made to show Rambo chop people in half with a giant gun. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I knew this one wasn’t going to be very nice for me. This is basically the flyer Stallone put out to prove that films like this (and The Expendables series, and other very military / gun focused films) could make a decent return at the box office. But guess what? I’ve said it a number of times, these films aren’t for me. They make me feel gross. I don’t like them. But I have to watch it, so watch it I will. What are my expectations? That I’ll feel profoundly sad after watching this film. If I don’t, that’ll be a win for me.

The Good – Hmmmmm. I truly believe this is what Stallone envisioned action films would become since the 80s. I think he kind of saw that as technology advances and the money flowed in that people would basically want to see giants guns, and muscles, and America. But as he was slowly getting a grip on the entire means of production in the 80s his career faltered and he kind of became a parody of himself. He made a small comeback with Cop Land, and that gave Old Stallone just enough juice to start pushing for The Expendables specifically. I truly believe this film was a means to an end. He got to give his character the ending he thought he deserved (he’s on record saying this one is his favorite), and he, I think, parlayed its modest success into The Expendables which became the giant high octane action film he had envisioned (just … 20 years later). I don’t find any of this good, but a lot of people do including Stallone, so I thought it deserved detailing out my little theory … but no, I find nothing in this film redeeming in the least.

The Bad – I find this movie gross. From the way they formulate the sub-human villains so that you cheer on Stallone as he mercilessly mows them down with a giant gun. Much like Death Wish or The Expendables series, it feels like it fetishizes guns and murder and dressed it up with villains which dare you to sympathize their gross deaths. Stallone, for all of his bluster in old interviews about trying to write apolitically, makes overtly political statements with each and every one of these movies. These movies aren’t for me. This is the worst of the bunch, with little redeeming qualities. The end.

The BMT – Yeah, as much as any of the films like this are. I don’t like them, I get why other people like them. They are like Madea films. I will likely come and say the same thing about every Madea film I watch: I didn’t really find this funny, but I get why some people do. I don’t get why people like Rambo IV, I think it is a total bastardization of the character and what it stands for. But I get why people like movies like this. Did it meet my expectations? Nope, I felt gross at the end. All I wanted was to not feel gross.

Roast-radamus – Again, kind of an amazing setting film for Setting as a Character (Where?) because I down Burma is going to get much play in bad movies in general.I don’t think there is much else to consider for this one as there was no obvious product placement. I think this has a real good chance for Bad though in the end because I can’t think of a film I’ve liked watching less.

StreetCreditReport.com – I find it rather impressive. I looked at maybe 20 lists since, apparently, 2008 was the heydey of the online worst-of list for film. And literally none of them contained Rambo. One had it as an honorable mention, but that was it. I would definitely give this one the worst Rambo award if it was up to me. I think that it might be up to Sylvester Stallone though, so I might be out of luck at getting that officially recognized.

You Just Got Schooled – As I said in the other recaps I’ve been Rambo all day every day and nothing but Rambo, so there was little to learn. I will say that throughout the years there have been porn parodies of the various Rambo films. This one having one though? Thats something else. It’s called Rambone XXX: A DreamZone Parody and I will never watch it. And, again, I said I would do it: Jamie’s podcast Mac East 2nd Floor Studios Presents Submersion did an episode on the animated Rambo series Rambo: The Force of Freedom (Episode 79). And naturally I’m the super secret guest star. We get to learn all about who are the best co-host combinations in Submersion history. The competition heats up!

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Rambo III Recap

Jamie

Rambo is back, Jack! And this time Rambo needs to save a prisoner from an Afghan fort, but not just any prisoner… Trautman! Oh no! Can he enter the war zone, befriend the rebels, ride some horses, free the prisoners, and take down the bad guy before it’s too late? Find out in… Rambo III.

How?! Rambo is living it up in the citttaaaayyyy. And by city I mean with some monks in Thailand. Approached to help Trautman to help support those fighting against the Soviets in Afghanistan he’s like, “fuck no.” This is a good idea because Trautman is immediately captured and tortured. That’s when Rambo ties on his bandana, greases up those abs, and heads to Afghanistan to free his friend. Getting across the Pakistan border he meets up with the Muhajideen, who are hesitant to help this stranger. But when they are attacked by the Soviets the survivors are willing to go along. On their first attempt Rambo isn’t able to get Trautman and he and his allies barely escape with their lives. Sending them away to go in solo he’s able to get Trautman and a bunch of other prisoners and fly a helicopter out of the Soviet base. They are shot down, but Rambo and Trautman basically toy with their prey and shoot and punch people all day until they got a free path to Pakistan… psych! There’s literally the entire Soviet army there to kill them. So they die… double psych! A big ol’ Muhajideen army comes and helps Rambo totally own the Soviets. America! On top again! Ha! Stupid Soviets, getting embroiled in a war in Afghanistan. America learned from Vietnam and wouldn’t have made that mistake again… anyway, Rambo them walks off into the sunset to live peacefully forever more (spoiler: he does not). THE END. Big Question: Has this film aged the worst of any film ever? I mean, Rambo literally says that the US wouldn’t possibly be dumb enough to get into another Vietnam like Afghanistan… come on!

Why?! I do like the Rambo films because the motivations are clear and noble… besides the excessive amount of murder he doles out. In the first he’s just trying to be treated like a human being, the second he’s rescuing POWs, and here he’s trying to save his friend from a war zone. Nothing more.  

Who?! All the Rambo films have such small and diverse casts that it’s actually hard to get something for this section. Not like an aspiring musician-turned-actor is gonna get his shot in a Rambo film… kind of a one man show. I was interested to see that Randy Raney was in this film. Interested because he was only in one other film ever: playing the big baddie opposite Sly in the classic Over the Top. Best two-film filmography I’ve ever seen.

What?! Coca-Cola is all over a lot of Sly’s films in the 80s. I liked how it was used in the second film. Here it’s just seen in several spots in Thailand and not commented on. I did want to highlight this film as a Secret Sport Film Alert. We see the Afghanistan sport of Buzkashi played vigorously by Rambo. I believe this is likely the only BMT film to feature the sport.

Where?! We again split out time. This time between the starting setting of Thailand and the major setting of Afghanistan. Once again because of context there really isn’t anywhere else that this could be set… they had to really get across that the Russian conflict in Afghanistan was their Vietnam and the United States was just too smart to fall into a conflict like that again… … … … … yup.

When?! Obviously takes place when the Soviet Union was fighting in Afghanistan, which lines up with the trend that the films take place when the film is being made. Nothing more specific can be found I don’t think… the war lasted ten years. D.

Wow, almost the inverse of the second film. I thought this film was actually kinda beautifully made. Looked amazing. But almost everything else about it was not good. In particular the ending which has Rambo running around some caves killing people before fighting an entire Soviet army all while spouting super poorly aged propaganda. Still fun, but bad.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! We are still in the process of making the horrible mistake of watching four Rambo films in a week. Luckily two of them are bonkers 80s films. This is the second one of those. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – After watching the third film I kind of expected something much much worse. These days, online, the third Rambo has a bad rep. The second is widely loved, the fourth has a specific niche fanbase, but the third is accepted as the worst of the franchise. So I was holding out hope this would be the not-gross bad one of the bunch. What were my expectations? I was basically hoping for the parody version of Rambo from UFH starring Weird Al Yankovich. If not that I would accept something, again, over the top jingoistic nonsense, with giant explosions I suppose.

The Good – The first roughly two-thirds of this film is pretty good. Solid vistas, and a storyline which makes you care about Rambo’s goal beyond that it’s good for America. A really good set piece in the Afghan base. And a really good enemy in the Russia commander who feels trapped in a backwater war that is preventing him from attaining the Russian glory he deserves. Just … shut it off right when they escape the base.

The Bad – The last third of this film is everything wrong with Rambo films. Remember how Rambo used a bow an arrow with explosive tips? Those are back, you liked that right? We have a tank hitting a low-flying helicopter and exploding it, that sounds cool right? Rambo explodes someone while hanging them in a cave … that doesn’t sound gross right? You see … I hate all of that. All of the stuff that they seem like they needed to fit into the last half hour is the worst parts of Rambo, and they go all in. That is why, I think, people don’t have fond memories of this film. The ending of the film is just so silly and awful you can’t really even remember that the first hour of the film is pretty good. The level of propaganda is extreme in this one as well. At one point a character literally says “the Afghan people have never been conquered. We already had our Vietnam, this is yours” to the Russian commander. Yikes, that didn’t age very well.

The BMT – I think this is a decent example of how to make a bad third entry in an action franchise. The trilogy has quite the arc: a serious action/drama in the first, a full-throated action film in the second, and basically a parody of itself in the third. But … then again, I kind of like the third one still? It is still a pretty great action film for the first hour of the film. It just sinks under the idea / expectations of Rambo in the end. Did it meet my expectations? I think of the four films I watched this got the closest. It is hilarious how it basically spells out the catastrophe in Afghanistan for the US that would come 15 years later. And yet it is also a pretty amusing action film. That’s just about what I was hoping for.

Roast-radamus – Definitely a very strong contender for Setting as a Character (Where?) for being set in Afghanistan, which must be a rather rare setting for a bad film. There was a brief shot of a Coca-Cola truck in Thailand in the beginning, but I don’t think that’ll be enough to bet a product placement nod. And the closest it’ll get it a BMT nod I guess, as this is the only truly silly-bad film of the bunch.

StreetCreditReport.com – Once again we are too far back to really get any lists besides the yearly Siskel & Ebert show (it wasn’t on that). I will say as far as contemporary fans are concerned, I think Rambo III is the one they’d put as the worst Rambo film made. So that is something. Which made it particularly nice that it managed to sneak in and qualify right at the last second this year.

You Just Got Schooled – I didn’t have time to watch anything else but the canonical Rambo. I will point out that the beginning of Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls is effectively a combination of Cliffhanger (him losing the raccoon), and Rambo III (him retiring to the monastery at the top of a large staircase). That same scene is spoofed in MacGruber. The early Rambo was ripe for spoofing. And I said I would do it: Jamie’s podcast Mac East 2nd Floor Studios Presents Submersion did an episode on the animated Rambo series Rambo: The Force of Freedom (Episode 79). And the episode features me as well. I rank the top ten Ruby-Spears animated series that have a submarine episode available online … yes, there are ten of them.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Rambo: First Blood Part II Recap

Jamie

Rambo is back, Jack! And he’s ready to get out of jail and rescue some POWs like the goddamn hero that he is. But when he’s abandoned behind enemy lines he starts to suspect that there’s something fishy going on with the top military brass. Can he rescue the prisoners and stop the evvvviiiilll general before it’s too late? Find out in… Rambo: First Blood Part II.

How?! Rambo is crushing rocks in a prison camp and Gen. Trautman knows that that’s a crying shame. Those glistening muscles should be crushing bad guys in the name of America. So he makes a deal, Rambo helps them find out if there are any remaining POWs in Vietnam and he gets a full pardon. Sounds good to Rambo, except when he gets to Thailand he’s getting a bad feeling about the gman in charge, Murdock. Almost from the jump things go awry when he loses his equipment while parachuting behind enemy lines. But this is Rambo and his muscles and big ol’ brain keep him moving to his target. Meeting up with his contact, Co (a beautiful woman no less) he is taken up river and almost immediately is like “Woah, there are totally POWs here.” He won’t stand for it and rescues one of them as proof for the government. But when he gets to the pickup location Murdock is like “shit, we didn’t even want to find the POWs” and leaves Rambo to be taken prisoner by the Vietnamese and Soviets. Trautman is furious and Rambo is definitely going to get tortured to death… psych! He’s Rambo! And with the help of Co he totally blows up everything and everyone and rescues the POWs. They get in a helicopter and blow up a bunch of other stuff before heading back to the US camp in Thailand where he convinces Murdock to save the POWs. Rambo then goes off into Thailand to live his days in peace… or does he? (bum bum bum). THE END. Big Question: Has Rambo had sex? We basically see him in jail or running around Vietnam up to the point of his one and only kiss with Co. From that moment he spends his life mourning the loss of her and living his life like a monk… so… I think the answer might be no. Rambo has never had sex despite what his rocking bod might suggest.

Why?! You get the sense that Rambo is totally disillusioned and really only takes the job because it’s his only way out of jail. But once he realizes that there really are some POWs to rescue he’s all in on winning. The general really just wants to be able to go back to the government and say that they don’t need to do anything more in Vietnam, but when he realizes that Rambo is the best ever and won’t let him do that he tries to sabotage him… to no avail… because it’s Rambo and he’s done gonna root out that corruption.

Who?! Wow, this is the second film in a short while (along with Black Dog) that had a major onset accident. While Black Dog got away with only some serious injuries, in this case Cliff Wenger Jr. was killed in an onsite explosion during filming in Mexico. The film ended up being dedicated to him. It’s always so sad to hear about these things.

What?! It is fun when product placement actually plays a role in the film. Here the bad guy general is always sapping on a delicious Coca-Cola. Why? Because he’s supposed to represent the misguided, consumerism-driven America that has forgotten what winning is all about. Does Rambo want a Coke? No thanks, bro. Winning is all the refreshment he needs.

Where?! I’m not sure where Rambo is in jail at the beginning of the film. Maybe Washington where his original crime was committed. But the rest of the film is split between Thailand and Vietnam. I think this is an A. Can’t be set anywhere else given the context.

When?! Uh… after the Vietnam War, duh. But really I didn’t get much beyond that. Looking at the timeline of all the films I do believe they take place in the years that they are released. Like the first film is seven years after Rambo is discharged, which makes sense with the end of the war in 1975 (film released in 1982) and this takes place three years later (1985). But that’s all I got. D.

The first time I watched this, I did not like it at all. My mistake? Watching it right after watching the first one, which is so far a superior film that it kinda spoiled the fun. This time I still thought the beginning was trash and the directing wasn’t very good, but the latter half of the film is actually a great action film. It even holds up by today’s standards in that it’s just Rambo running around the jungle setting traps and owning the bad guy. Lots of fun.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! We made a horrible mistake and had to watch four Rambo films in a week. Luckily two of them are bonkers 80s films. This is one of those. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I really really liked First Blood. I think it is a really interesting and smart action film. It handles an idea of a Vietnam veteran getting triggered and during a PTSD flashback he is basically assaulted by a police force, and this idea is very cool … they then obviously threw that in a bin and made it all about how Rambo just love America so much it makes him … a maniac? It seems that way. I was excited to be proven wrong. What were my expectations? For this to be an amazing bad movie I needed the most American Rambo ever. I need him to look me in the face and tell me explicitly: if you hate Rambo, you hate America, period. That’s what I need.

The Good – The middle bit of this film is an incredible action film. Rambo sneaking through the jungle, saving some POWs, flying a helicopter and blowing things up … it’s basically what you think of when you think Rambo. Right up until the end I liked Rambo as a character, it is a very interesting look at Vietnam vets / PTSD when linked with the first film. Stallone gets sillier as the movie goes on, but he’s solid in the first half of the film. Basically, the film is an amazing action film … right up until the ending. I will also say, despite being a cartoon character, the bad guy is pretty amusing in all of his PB&J eating and Coke slurping glory, a transparent caricature.

The Bad – The ending. Stallone claims that he got annoyed with James Cameron (who co-wrote the film) because Cameron was making the script too political. He went on to say that his script wasn’t political, all of Rambo’s dialogue was actual things Vietnam vets said … that doesn’t make it non-political!! The entire film is basically “Why doesn’t America love his war machine killer? Look at all of the amazing murder he has done and can do for America! All he wants is for America to love him as much as he loves America!” It is pretty gross. Now, I will gladly ignore this in the future when watching the film, but it is the one big knock against it in my opinion. It makes it tough to show to, say, a teenager without prefacing it with “by the way, Rambo simplifies a bunch of issues in favor of pretty explicit propaganda … but just ignore that, the action is fun”.

The BMT – I think this is too good of an action film to be a bad movie. Maybe 80% of this film is a really great action film. The other 20% of the film is the ending where Stallone kicks in the door of the mustache-twirlingly evil military bureaucrat and declared that all he wants in the world is for America to love him as much as he loves America … and that is gross. Did it meet my expectations? Nope. Which might seem weird considering I just said Rambo has a giant crazy AMERICA speech at the end, but it was too little too late. This is just a half-decent weirdly patriotic (jingoistic really) action film from the 80s. No more, no less. It just isn’t bad enough.

Roast-radamus – I guess Setting as a Character (Where?) is in play, but it is a bit unclear where they are once they fly out of Thailand (I would guess Vietnam makes the most sense). I think of all of the classic Coke product placements, this is one of the best Product Placement (What?) I’ve seen, since it informed the patriotic facade the evil military bureaucrat was wearing during the film. The twist in the film is actually good, so nothing there. But I would say this is plausible for a shout out at Good because this is a pretty good 80s action film.

StreetCreditReport.com – Not surprisingly this film isn’t on any lists. And not surprisingly I can’t really say this should be on any bad movie lists, since I thought it was a genuinely good film. The credit from this film just comes from the later Rambo films. Specifically it comes from the fact that Rambo (2008) was a complete catastrophe. Sometimes some BMT films are just BMT films because they are homework for other BMT films. Get it?

You Just Got Schooled – This will be quick … you see I watched four films this week and there is no way I could actually inform myself about anything outside of Rambo films. But shout out to UHF starring Weird Al Yankovich which includes a number of Rambo parodies. The main one involves him saving the POW Michael Richards, complete with exploding arrowheads. It is great. And I might as well pop this in all of the recaps: Jamie’s podcast Mac East 2nd Floor Studios Presents Submersion did an episode on the animated Rambo series Rambo: The Force of Freedom (Episode 79). And the episode features me as well. We talk about muscles, patriotism, and America.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Gangster Squad Recap

Jamie

Mickey Cohen is a menace to LA and police officer John O’Mara ain’t letting it fly. No way, no how. He’s tasked with assembling a squad of police officers to clandestinely take apart the evil gangster’s criminal empire. Can they stop Mickey before it’s too late? Find out in… Gangster Squad.

How?! John O’Mara don’t take guff from nobody, especially those that aim to dirty his beloved LA like gangster Mickey Cohen. Unfortunately he also doesn’t take guff from nobody so O’Mara is tasked with creating a misfit squad of gangster hunters (what to call them, though?) whose smarts and toughness will combine to take even less guff than Cohen (if you can believe it). Will they go out and murder Cohen right away? No! That would be too boring. Instead they aim to dismantle his empire while keeping him alive and figure out what his dastardly plot is to take over the West Coast (hint: it doesn’t matter). The squad goes about punching and shooting people to great effect, while also totally getting with Cohen’s main squeeze. Cohen is obviously none too pleased with this and he proceeds to punch and shoot a bunch of people until he figures out who the gangster squad is. After that it’s all out war and they punch and shoot some more until one of the squad is dead and their families threatened. All seems lost, except remember… no guff. O’Mara scrapes together a warrant for Cohen’s arrest and there is a big showdown at the Plaza. Shooting. Punching. Punching. Shooting. O’Mara takes Cohen down and cleans up the streetz. THE END. So the big question: was Mickey Cohen’s downfall because he took too many guffs or maybe, just maybe, he didn’t take enough (yah dig?).

Why?! I mean, Mickey Cohen is a psycho. No need for more explanation on that front. As for our boy John and his gangster squad, well they just want to do good in a world where people too often let money dictate their morals. Other cops are being bought, but they didn’t fight in WWII to let their home descend into crime. No! Not the Gangster Squad™.

Who?! Anyone who’s anyone knows that Ryan Gosling was part of the Mickey Mouse Club and so he’s got those dancing and singing chops for days. Lesser known is that he’s an actor-turned-musician (my favorite) and released an album as part of the rock duo Dead Man’s Bones in 2009. According to wikipedia he performed under the alias Baby Goose… OK.

What?! As I looked at the beautiful chiseled features of Josh Brolin I of course wondered to myself, “Is there a way that I could look like that granite rock of a man?” and the answer is yes. I can wear the very gun holster that he wears. Now if only I can figure out how to sound just like Nick Nolte (hint: it involves smoking cigarettes and gargling whiskey for 5000 years).

Where?! This feels like it’s the most LA movie ever. They are talking all kinds of Hollywood stuff all day. We see the Hollywoodland sign, they are talking about the movie biz, and references to Brentwood are dropped in as if the audience would be like “Jeez, Brentwood, amiright?” and nudge each other whenever it’s mentioned. A.

When?! Secret Holiday Film Alert! In the beginning you’re like “wait… is this set around Christmas?” And then the film slowly becomes more and more christmasy until we have Sean Penn screaming “Here comes Santy Claus!” as he shoots up a christmas tree in slow motion. It’s actually pretty hilarious. B+.

Overly stylized, very dark, choppy at times, and steered heavily into cliche. But I also didn’t think it was all that bad (if that makes sense). I let it wash over me like a sultry LA night and had a fine time watching it. I think the acting was pretty great (other than Penn who legend says is still chewing the scenery) and the story interesting. So all in all: not the worst. As for Future Kick, I actually really liked it. Super weird and fun production involving robots and a colony on the moon and virtual reality and organ harvesting. And there’s really nothing more beautiful than an ending that asks the question, “maybe everything you just watched was meaningless.” I’d gladly watch any film that implies that the whole thing was a dream. My one big critique: we needed more martial arts. Somehow T.N.T. had way more impressive martial arts than this one did. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Jamie and I threw away our official LAPD Cobra Division badges in prep for this film. We’re off the books! Time to murder a bunch of people! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I remember when this come out this was a very exciting film for some corners of the internet. It checks off a bunch of boxes: a group of guys smashing up some gangsters, the late-40s/early-50s west coast period piece, and a crazy cast. And then it just fizzled out to rather lackluster reviews. I guess we’ll see if it ages well? What are my expectations – I want Sean Penn to basically be Nic-Caging all over the place. I want him to actually eat some scenery during a scene, like literally break off pieces of the set and eat it.

The Good – I like the period setting. The story is interesting. Emma Stone is excellent as always, and I really like the group of actors they got for the Squad. I really couldn’t ask for much more from what the film promised: a bunch of cops are going to bust up some gangsters, the end. There isn’t really much more to expound on here, but be assured that I actually liked this film quite a bit.

The Bad – I can definitely see why Sean Penn’s performance sunk the film for critics, he is so over the top it is very very distracting. I also think the story ends up pulling a punch or two and just retreating to the safety of what is ultimately a very predictable series of events. The biggest crime is killing off Ribisi which is by far the most obvious choice of how to “shake up” the Squad during the film. The outside shot is to kill off Brolin, and then making Gosling dry himself off to lead the Squad to victory. Apologies if somehow all of these events are part of the “true story” that it is all adapted from … I doubt it. Finally, the film is just kind of directed / structured sloppily with the least interesting bits, somehow, being the bits involving the Gangster Squad.

The BMT – It is certainly a weird BMT. Long ago we were rather insistent that we were going to do Amelia starring Hilary Swank … and then we just didn’t. Straight dramas don’t tend to fit into our traditional cycle genres. So it is nice to do a straight drama that is considered bad. Did it meet my expectations? Not really. I didn’t think Sean Penn was that bad, even though I can see why people hated it at the time. And that is really what it needed. Once you think that is fine … the movie isn’t that bad, so no, I don’t think I’ll be sending this over to people as a bad movie recommendation.

Roast-radamus – I think we have a very strong Setting as a Character (Where?) for Los Angeles (we can’t let Mickey Cohen take our city!!!) and Secret Holiday Film (When?) where the entire end of the film takes place during Christmas complete exploding Christmas display in slow motion. Other than that I could maybe see a nod for Good from me specifically, but I guess we’ll see.

StreetCreditReport.com – Finally! We finally are back in the zone where people actually have lists. And indeed this film is on the AV Club list (number 8) and on the IndieWire list (number 14). And I think it would end up on a worst of gangster film, and worst of films set in the 40s lists if you really pressed it. Pretty good cred, critics really hated this film!

You Just Got Schooled – Lightning quick one as a semi-endorsement of The Flophouse Podcast which did this film all the way back in 2014. They’ve come a long way since then in how the podcast is structured (this was back when they all lived in New York still and Elliott was Dan’s boss at the Daily Show), but overall I thought it was a funny listen. Just the right level of Elliott Kalan random asides to make what isn’t a very interesting bad movie interesting. And ultimately I agree with his assessment: if I saw the film on television I would probably be fine with watching it, and it is actually maybe closer to a good good movie than a bad bad movie (but definitely not a good bad movie).

Bring a Friend Analysis – And as with any Sean Penn film you just have to watch a Chris Penn feature alongside it. This time? It’s the very promisingly named Future Kick, which I know for a fact I’ve seen as a vhs tape on the Red Letter Media studio’s shelves. I think the film throws a lot at you to consume in the first 25 minutes of the film, with a dystopian world with a Elysium-like moon base, and escaped automaton bounty hunters, the last of which is played by Don “The Dragon” Wilson. For a bit there I was kind of barely holding onto the story (which seems to be a trend with 90s straight-to-VHS features, just incomprehensible). But by the end it saves itself with strong and entertaining performances by Wilson and Meg Foster. The end is also very amusing as it (spoilers) goes for the classic “this entire film was a dream” ending. I’m going to give it a B+. I wish it was a bit clearer in premise and martial arts action early, but the back half is, I think, a rather fun balls-to-the-wall ridiculous straight-to-video feature.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Perfect Recap

Jamie

Adam is a journalist looking for a story. What he doesn’t expect to find is love (awww). While writing a puff piece about LA gym culture, he encounters an aerobics instructor, Jessie, and immediately falls in love. Can he get the bog scoop (and still get the girl) before it’s too late and he ruins it by being an asshole? Find out in… Perfect.

How?! Act I: Adam is a journalist. But just not any journalist. He’s got integrity up the wazoo. He’s got a big ol’ story in the works and it might even be a book… but while he waits to find out if he can score the big interview he decides to start his next story: a sexy puff piece about young singles who frequent the gym. Sexy. Act II: Adam arrives in LA and is immediately like “woah, who’s that?” about Jessie, the top aerobics instructor (in the world? Probably). As a result, a funny thing happens on the way to writing the story when he totes falls in love and realizes that he actually wants to write about how gyms are the next philosophical frontier (you dig?) as society attempts to take responsibility for oneself and become… perfect. Unfortunately this all crashes and burns when despite scoring the big interview he needed he also inadvertently ruins what he has with Jessie. Act III: Under pressure from lawyers regarding the big interview and also suffering heartbreak, Adam decides to write the original puff piece anyway. This ends up double backfiring when Jessie attempt to reconcile but discovers what he’s done. Attempting to make up for it, Adam writes the Emersonian version of the piece, but his editors are like “this is clearly the writings of a pompous asshole” and write an even worse version of his original story. Even worse he’s heading to jail for contempt of court for not giving up his notes from the original story. Gah! Lucky for him, though, Jessie is a first amendment fanatic and they reconcile upon his release. THE END. 

Why?! It’s pure journalism, baby. Adam is just all about that first amendment and won’t compromise on anything. Whether it’s writing about financial crimes or the Emersonian nature of the gym, he is a totally uncompromising asshole. It’s only when Jessie realizes that he’s only an asshole because of the first amendment that she can be like “oh, I love him.” Her motivation is like… life, man. She just wants to win and be the best and be… perfect.

Who?! Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner played himself as did Carly Simon in a cameo. I believe there are a number of other cameos in the film, including thanks given to Mick Jagger who allowed photos of himself to be used in the film. There are some notable special thanks as well including Kathryn Bigelow. I still can’t figure out how she was involved in Perfect in any way.

What?! Every once in a while we get a film that is basically just a long commercial for something. Here it’s Rolling Stone, which is depicted as more than just a music magazine… it’s got journalistic integrity for days. Look at all that goddamn journalistic integrity! It’s oozing off John Travolta’s body like sweat.

Where?! There is a fun minor setting of Morocco late in the film, but this is a NYC-LA production with a slight edge to LA because that’s really where the sexiness and love occur. That’s actually a big part of my grading: how sexy is the setting. I think this is an A-. Both NYC and LA are pretty indispensable for the plot… perhaps only Miami could have swooped in and ruined it. 

When?! Near the end of the film they set up the exact time frame. Takes place over a number of months culminating in the publishing of the article and portions of the final trial at the end of July. They give an exact date for a few of these times. It’s actually pretty solid. B+.

I’m not sure what to even say about this film. It felt like the longest movie in the world. Took me at least three full days to watch and yet the clock told me it was only two hours. There are long stretches of just male and female hips thrusting in your face for reasons unknown… probably to convey how people would easily see this and think “new singles bar of the 80’s” but this would be wrong. They are Emersonian philosophers, duh. Beyond the length, I think the biggest crime is the self-serving, pompous attitude of how journalism is depicted. Gets really tired as the film drags on to see Travolta stand up six or twelve times to declare his journalistic integrity. The only positive, weirdly, is that I genuinely think Travolta and Curtis had *gulp* sexual chemistry. That seems weird to say. As for To the Limit, that film may in fact be the single most confusing thing Patrick and I have watched. We tried to recap exactly what happened in the film to each other and it is simply put absolute nonsense. Throw in Anna Nicole Smith barely acting in a monotone voice and several playboy level sex scenes and we got something that’s… well… it exists I guess. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! As I sculpted my Perfect bod I thought of Emerson and the pursuit of man’s true physical potential. Also I thought about beating up dweebs. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I had only heard of this film via How Did This Get Made? basically. I knew it was about aerobics and that it is supposed to be terrible. The connection between Stallone and the director seemed interesting. What were my expectations? I just hoped it was just in your face aerobics sexy action. Without that why am I even watching this film?

The Good – There is wall-to-wall aerobics action … which I’m going to say is good. Jamie Lee Curtis I thought was great. And in a different universe where the aerobics story didn’t exist, the trial that occurs during the film could have been an interesting story. Instead it comes out as absurd, but the idea is a kind of in the weeds interesting story. Quite a thin section this week, but the film is very weird and hard to “enjoy” in traditional terms.

The Bad – The acting. Travolta is only the most high profile offender. The Rolling Stone founder plays himself and he is straight up terrible at acting. They just hired a load of aerobics instructors as actors and it shows, all of them are incredibly stilted and distracting. There are very very very long aerobics scenes, they last forever, it is crazy. The entire thing comes across as just the most snobbish trash. It really seems like the guy wrote a story where he nobly goes to jail for his craft (magazine writer), and nobly stands up for the dignity of subjects … give me a break. The entire thing just seems like a giant pat on his own back from a writer who really thinks he does things that are important … and people should know it.

The BMT – Yeah. It is a very unique film. About a sport (arguably) which really doesn’t have another film made about it. Made about a profession (magazine journalist) which gets overshadowed by their newspaper peers and thus doesn’t feature in films very often. And the acting is almost second-to-none terrible. I was intrigued by the film and would definitely watch it again with someone. Did it meet my expectations? More than I could have imagined. There is a crazy number of aerobic scenes with those full body suits that have thongs, and guys gyrating their hips. It is great. Highly recommend those scenes, they last forever.

Roast-radamus – This is actually a really good example of Product Placement (What?) … since the entire movie is a placement for a product: Rolling Stone magazine. They fight for the truth! Decent argument for Setting as a Character (Where?) since the strangeness of Los Angeles plays a huge role in the story. Outside shot at BMT, otherwise I don’t think it really has much of anything. I would have went with a specific temporal setting (since the magazine article was published specifically on June 6, 1983), but that is kind of unconfirmed, and also we have enough holiday films that that would never actually be nominated this year.

StreetCreditReport.com – Amazingly this has two giant pieces of cred. First, it is on Siskel and Ebert’s worst of list of 1985 which is obviously enough in and of itself. And then second it was features on How Did This Get Made? which is a rubber stamp for amusingly bad movies. I have to imagine this is the worst film ever made about aerobics or about a magazine journalist as well, although I have no proof of that.

Bring a Friend Analysis – With any John Travolta film we obviously have to watch a Joey Travolta film. To this end we watched the Anna Nicole Smith feature from 1995 called To the Limit. Full disclosure: I barely remember this film. Like, I straight up don’t understand what happened. I think it is because the movie was written strangely. It is like they had a plot sketched out on a napkin (A man’s wife is killed and friend murdered because of a mysterious CD-ROM. His friend’s wife, secretly a CIA agent, helps him to take down those responsible while keeping the disc safe), and then thought “that is too straightforward … let’s add some twists.” But then … they only do half twists because they don’t really know how to adapt their story (oh no, a girl is kidnapped! Oh wait, she just ran away and is back now. And then our main character is kidnapped! Oh no, he just ran away and is back now. And Anna Nicole Smith is a bad guy! Nope nevermind she isn’t). Anna Nicole Smith is a marvel to behold and kind of makes the whole thing worthwhile. The film is soft-core porn though which was just sad and gross. I’m going to give it a C+. I wouldn’t want to watch it again or anything like it because it is 90s pornography. But Anna Nicole Smith’s acting is just insane enough to legitimize the initial viewing.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Sleeping with the Enemy Recap

Jamie

Laura is trapped in an abusive marriage to a controlling man. She is able to escape by faking her own death and moving to Iowa where she learns to live and love again. However, when she dares to visit her elderly mother her ex-husband is able to track her down. Can she take him out (and perhaps get the guy) before it’s too late? Find out in… Sleeping with the enemy.

How?! Act I: Laura and her husband seem to have the perfect life but underneath the visage he’s a controlling abusive maniac! Get out of there, Laura! And she does just that by faking her own death by drowning and escaping to picturesque Iowa where she can’t possibly fall in love with anyone. Act II: She immediately falls in love with the drama teacher next door. With his plaid shirts and flowing locks for days, he’s just a dreamy dreamboat and Laura is smitten. She learns to live and love again and he helps her figure out a good way to safely see her mom using his flair for costumes… or is it?! Because Laura’s husband from hell has figured out that she’s still alive and is staking out the old folks home. Using his own acting chops he finds out that Iowa is the place to be. Act III: Everywhere that Laura looks it seems like her husband has come for her… that’s because he has! Oh no! He shows up and is all like “you won’t kill me.” But jokes on him because she does. THE END. Big Question: Is Laura falling in love with a drama teacher a twist on the fact that she was married to a man who spent his life acting the role of happy family man, when in reality he was an abusive monster? Chew on that.

Why?! I mean… he’s a psycho. So there’s that. As for her… well she wants to get away from the psycho she married. It is pretty jarring to see an older movie like this where domestic abuse is depicted in what seems like a fairly accurate way. Pretty scary.

Who?! I think the most interesting thing is the BMT implications of possible casting choices for this film. Apparently Kim Bassinger and Sean Connery were attached to co-star. That’s just a powerhouse BMT couple right there (assuming of course that Connery was attached as love interest… not sure why he would join the project as the husband from hell).

What?! While there isn’t something for sale that fits our traditional definition of a prop, there is an entire house for sale. The house that Julia Roberts moves into in Iowa (really Abbeville, South Carolina) has been on the market and valued at 160K. You’d make that up in no time doing full time tours and entry fees for the museum.

Where?! This is a truly great BMT setting film. Clearly takes place on Cape Cod, Iowa, and in small parts Minnesota. It’s a wonder we didn’t end up doing this one for the mapl.de.map because it really is super duper duper Iowa and that seems somewhat rare. Loved it. B+

When?! Secret Holiday Film Alert! While much of the film takes place generally in the summer, there is a big scene at a Fourth of July parade that leads straight into a scene where Julia Robert and Mullet McGee try on costumes, laugh, love, and live along to the song Brown Eyed Girl. *chef’s kiss* A-

I can fully understand why this film is a bit of a cult classic. Julia Roberts was quite good and I thought the writing was pretty good too. As I said, I think the depiction of the husband as an abuser seems scarily accurate and makes some of the later scenes really interesting from a psychological perspective. And it was thrilling to boot. I think the biggest critique is that the directing really lets everything else down. Has the look and feel of a Lifetime film with the acting and writing of a Hollywood film. Let down by schlockiness… which is pretty much the tagline of this website. As for T.N.T., it was my first Olivier Gruner viewing experience, which probably brought more joy in itself than anything the actual film had to offer. He seems like a poor man’s JCVD but somehow way worse at acting. His weird smiling face seemed to throw everyone off until they all seemed like aliens trying to pretend to be human. It was quite the experience and definitely made me excited to see more of his films. Patrick?  

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! There’s nothing like a hefty dose of harrowing domestic violence drama to really make one wonder: should I make jokes about this film? Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – I straight up had to ask Jamie whether Safe Haven was a readaptation of Sleeping with the Enemy … before remembering that that movie was based on a Nicholas Sparks novel. Not surprisingly a ton of reviews from when Safe Haven was published made the exact same comparison, so I wasn’t alone. I hoped for an amazing Ghost Wife twist at the end of this film, but I didn’t expect it. What were my expectations? A solid performance from Roberts, and otherwise I just wanted the craziest thriller possible. Give me Color of Night, please. One Color of Night for Patrick.

The Good – I genuinely liked this film. It probably helps that I went into it expecting precisely what I got: a thriller. It seems like at the time reviewers were rather put off by the apparent bait-and-switch performed by the director by starting the film off as a very intriguing drama, and then tacking towards the more rote thriller tropes at the end. I can understand that, but this movie gave me mostly what I wanted: A solid Roberts performance, a crazy thriller stalker man, and a love interest with quite literally a mane of hair. I’m hoping Jamie finds an online auction where I can buy that man’s wig / real hair because mein Gott!

The Bad – The aforementioned thriller tropes. Don’t get me wrong, I was thrilled. But yeah, the movie didn’t need it. Give me an opening with Roberts seemingly happy at the beach. Give me a flashback to how they met, the wedding, a concerned warning from a friend, and the first time he hits her. Give me the establishment of the boating accident, and the suggestion that maybe she killed herself. And then bam! While he is out looking for her she kills him to make it look like an accident and goes off with her assumed identity. Let Roberts carry the drama, and drop the thrills. I don’t have much of a complaint about what I got, but I understand why critics hated it now, it was definitely not what you were hoping the director would do.

The BMT – I think this is a weirdly special BMT. It is another amazingly Iowa-y film. I’m honestly not too sure how we didn’t end up doing this for Iowa, but then again Iowa basically only produced weird dramas so whatever. Other than that I just kind of like when we get dramas in the mix, and especially when we get films where I think contemporary critics disagree with the critics at the time about the merits of the film. Gives us a lot to chew on. Did it meet my expectations? Not as a bad movie, it had to be maybe 10 times crazier. But I liked it. So … whatever.

Roast-radamus – I think we could definitely consider this as a Setting as a Character (Where?) because Iowa represents everything quaint and small-towny that the cosmopolitan Roberts is looking to escape back to. I’ll throw in a Worst Twist (How?) for the moment at the end when the ex-husband baddy basically comes back to life to try and kill Roberts. A classic Halloween / Michael Myers thing, but it works especially poorly when contrasted with the domestic violence drama we were sold in the first half of the film. And finally it’ll almost definitely be one of my nominations for Good for the year because guess what? I genuinely think this is a fine film all things considered, so there.

StreetCreditReport.com – I legit can’t find any worst-of lists with this film on it. I’m genuinely surprised because Ebert absolutely eviscerated the film. While I agree with the thesis, I actually mostly disagree with the nitpicks he reluctantly lobs out at the end of the review. (1) Yes the toilet hadn’t been used for weeks, the distraught Bergin I think rather obviously packed up the house and hadn’t visited again. (2) The woman saw the obituary in the newspaper which would have mentioned that she was survived by her husband, a financial adviser at Yada Yada Inc. (3) Roberts has been secretly squirreling away money for years it looked like, so why is it hard to believe she had done so for that purpose? (4) He knows she loves books and previously worked at a library so he could have just asked them where the “new girl” lives. (5) He only did the rearranging when she was out, either prior to his arrival or during the picnic and (6) because he is a psycho. This is why I don’t like dumb plot hole nitpicking of films, it is pretty easy to nitpick back. But I get the point: the movie isn’t very well written. And I generally agree.

Bring a Friend Analysis – This week we went with possibly one of the less well-known sibling pairs with Julia Roberts’ brother Eric Roberts (famous for playing the titular role in A Talking Cat?!). He has been in over 300 film (wowza) so we had the pick of the litter. Unfortunately we chose T.N.T. which mostly just reminded me of Black Friday in that it appeared to have been put together with little thought or care as a starring vehicle for a martial artist. Starring kickboxer Olivier Gruner, the film is effectively a knock off of a Van Damme feature: this French guy who is inexplicably in the U.S. military is just too good to do bad things and retires to the quiet life. But the baddies don’t want him to have a quiet life, so they’re here to make some noise. The End. Gruner has an impressive kickboxing background and gets to show it off a bit. Eric Roberts is barely in it and, I swear to god, is just playing Steve Jobs (perhaps not coincidentally Jobs rejoined Apple in 1997 and so would have been in the headlines around the time). The film is pretty worthless and trashy, but I’m glad I got to tick off my Olivier Gruner box on my martial arts bingo card. I’m going to give it a … B-. It would take some convincing to get me to watch it again, but for a martial artist actor completionist it is must see.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs