Conan the Barbarian (2011) Recap

Jamie

After surviving an attack by the warlord Zym as a child, Conan grows up to be a powerful pirate, pilfering and banging ladies all day (high five). But when he overhears that Zym is back in town and looking for immense power Conan knows what needs to be done. Can he stop Zym (and get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in Conan the Barbarian.

What?! Conan’s totally the boss from day one. He’s like ten years old and totes crushing his enemies under his Cimmerian heel. Unfortunately a dangerous warlord Zym and his sorceress daughter are hoping to get all the pieces of the powerful Mask of Acheron which definitely does… something… and guess who has the last piece? That’s right, Conan’s daddio and he gets killed trying to protect it. Flash forward years and Conan is still the boss and he’s a pirate extraordinaire. While he loves crushing brews and the ladies with his bros, he finds destiny calling when he learns that Zym is out to finish the job with the mask. To bring it to full power Zym needs the blood of a totally bodacious pure-blood and he’s right on her trail. But Conan’s right there to be like ‘psych’ and grab her instead. He pretends to want to trade her to Zym but really he’s there to karate chop Zym in the neck, but Conan is seriously injured in the ensuing fight. They go off oto recover on his pirate ship and eventually bone in a cave (obviously) immediately after which she’s captured by Zym and taken to his magical cave shaped like a skull (lots of caves in this one). Conan comes to the rescue, fights an octopus, battles with the sorceress, and eventually Zym falls into a crevasse and dies because he’s dumb. Conan and the lady then go off to setup a sequel. If anyone wants to put this in as the synopsis on Wikipedia feel free to do so. I’m pretty sure I summed it up the best. THE END.

Why?! Well the bad guy wants that sweet looking mask that definitely is super powerful. He wants to use it to bring his sorceress wife back from the dead using the pure-blood as a vessel. His daughter is like “but I’m also like a powerful sorceress,” but Zym isn’t too impressed and is like “you’ll never be like your mom. She was rad.” Conan mostly wants to freely kill and pillage to his heart’s desire, but when the chance to avenge his father comes about he’s pretty into that too.

What?! Sometimes even I forget that this section isn’t just for product placement (which might be hard to come by in Cimmeria), but also for MacGuffins. MacGuffins like the Mask of Acheron that Zym hopes to put back together to attain ultimate power. Except that the crown seems to need the blood of a pure-blood to work… so doesn’t that make the blood the real MacGuffin and the crown just something rad you wear while killing innocents? Something to think about.

Who?! As often seems to be a requirement in these types of films the main bad guy has an underling of immense size which our hero must overcome. In this case it’s Pro wrestler/MMA fighter/kickboxer/former pro football player Bob Sapp. While he doesn’t do much of any of that in the US anymore, he is still a pretty big star over in Japan fighting people and apparently a bear. He also pretty much loses every fight he participates in (including against said bear) and recently was accused of domestic violence… so things not looking great for Bob Sapp.

Where?! The lands of the Hyborian Age, duh (emphasis on the -Bor-, amirite?). Conan is from Cimmeria, but his adventures take him all over the place… which is just not worth me talking about since it’s all made up anyway. Hard to judge these things so I usually give it an N/A.

When?! After the sinking of Atlantis, duh (emphasis on the… uh… -Anti-… amirite?). People have tried to place this sometime around 10,000 B.C. but I don’t think that’s worth the effort. This is all made up. Don’t know if you heard but Atlantis is fictional. N/A.

At first I actually thought I might like this. There were bare-breasted ladies, limbs getting chopped, and other things that my lizard brain liked. But it pretty quickly got bogged down in the main thrust of the film focused around the mask and revenge. Blah. Can’t I just enjoy Conan being a pirate and learning of a big time treasure he wants to get (which turns out to actually be a sexy princess, ooh lah lah) and eventually coming to rule a kingdom? Do I need you to rehash and ruin the origin story of Conan? It seemed like they couldn’t even decide how to ruin the plot so they not only had a MacGuffin in the Mask, but also had the revenge subplot. Choose one and stick with it. Also Rose McGowan was not good. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Conan the Barbarian? We haven’t had a movie about him in like … 30 years! Call up that swords and sandals screenwriter we have on retainer and give him a million, I want a script by Tuesday, we’ll lunch. That’s my impression of the producer of this film. Let’s go!

The Good – Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh … uuuuuuuuuuuuuuh … this movie got me to watch the original again, and read another Conan short story. I know a lot more about pulp novels of the 30s and Conan because of it. Thanks terrible Conan movie.

Ps View on the Preview – I like where I went a few weeks ago with this, so I’m going to try again. There are 15 qualifying films in the sword and sorcery genre in Box Office Mojo (nearly 50% of the wide release films qualify, which I’ve now discovered is a higher percentage than 75% of the other Box Office Mojo genres). We’ve seen 9 of 15 qualifying films, the other six being Highlander 3 and 4, Red Sonja, Kull the Conqueror, Krull, and Quest for Camelot. There was a lot of cred to live up to for sure.

The Bad – This is the kind of movie which makes you think they ruined Conan the character (even though they didn’t really). It is an action film starring Conan instead of a Conan story. The acting is dire. And not just Momoa (who sadly captures none of the charm Arnold brought to the role), but everyone, especially Rose McGowan. The story is a bit too expositiony. The action a bit too clean. … I’m doing a terrible job describing this, but having watched the original and read another short story (see below) the heart of Conan was missing and replaced with Dungeons & Dragons (the movie). And that makes me sad.

Get Yo Rant On – This movie is far too convenient for me. Oh, Conan cuts the nose off of one of the villains henchmen so that he immediately recognizes him 20 years later, how convenient. Oh, Conan happens to fall in with an escaping thief who is something of a king of thieves and can pick any lock in the world, hope we have some locks to pick later (oh, we do? How convenient). Conan happens to save Tamara, totally by accident, who is (quite literally) the only pure blood of Achemon in the entire world, how convenient. Hell, the entire last fight scene involved Conan kind of accidentally not falling into a giant pit and dying. Too convenient, bad writing, kind of loses itself trying to set up big action set pieces. End of rant.

Welcome to Earf – Luckily this is a short one. Ron Perlman is in Conan the Barbarian and In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale which also starred Leelee Sobieski who was in Here on Earth. Welcome to Earf!

The BMT – I think this will only be notable once we finish off the three and a half Conan films available (Conan the Destroyer, Conan 2011, Red Sonja, and Kull the Conqueror which was originally written as Conan the Conqueror). We’ve done two, and the other one and a half should be easy enough. I think this will be the least pleasant, if only because it is the only one without that 80s/90s sword and sorcery charm going for it.

StreetCreditReport.com – Looks like plenty. Here is it 19. Here is it 6. And Stuckman has it at 5. Basically it isn’t beating out things like Jack and Jill or The Zookeeper very often, but it was on the critics radar and widely disliked at the time. Since? I imagine it has mostly been forgotten. Maybe they’ll reboot or sequelize the older movies again.

Whoooeeeeee. And I actually did some homework! I re-watched the original Conan and read another of the short stories, Shadows in the Moonlight. The story was quite good. Goes into Conan’s chivalry, and also his tendency to be both a pirate and a thief, but also never actually pillaging or stealing during the story (it is always before or after the story). He’s an interesting character, and one I think Arnold portrayed quite well in the original. Which also had a much more effective beginning to the film (yada yada yada-ing a bunch of stuff with “and he was a slave and became super strong and learned to fight”), and a generally pleasant and true-to-character thief story that evolves into revenge. I don’t think the new movie did the character wrong in any way, it is a lot closer than I expected. But it still felt like a modern version of Conan with a heart and conscious of gold, not enough barbarian. It just doesn’t really sit correctly with the 1930s pulp novels vibe I would want. C- adaptation, better than I expected, but worse than it easily should have been.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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Underclassman Recap

Jamie

Tre Stokes is a young cop hoping to make detective and sees his chance in an undercover gig at a local high school investigating the death of a student. Can he solve the crime, win the big streetball competition (and get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… Underclassman.

What?! Tre Stokes don’t play by anybody’s rulez and that means he ain’t doing paperwork, he ain’t calling for backup, and he ain’t letting go of an investigation. When a new undercover gig comes about investigating the death of a teenager, Tre knows it’s his big chance at a break. He heads to an upper class, predominantly white high school posing as a student and almost immediately butts heads with the cool jocks. To ingratiate himself he helps take their premier streetball team straight to the top (not joking) and defends the main cool dude in a fight (writing this back it does sound a bit stereotypical). When he flubs a chance to take down a local drug dealer and then gets the police chief’s car stolen in a bungled sting operation, he is promptly fired. Despite this he never gives up and eventually tracks it all back to his cool kid friends who are part of a Fast & Furious style streetball/car stealing gang. Except in a twist it turns out they are being blackmailed by the principal who is stealing cars and dealing drugs to make quick cash (what a twist!). In a climactic boat chase scene Tre ends up totally murdering the guy and then totes makes out with his Spanish teacher… oh did I not mention that he and his Spanish teacher totally flirt the whole time in a weirdly inappropriate manner? Well they do. THE END.

Why?! Tre just wants to make his Pops proud by becoming a detective in the LAPD like he was. Unfortunately he hasn’t yet learned that rules=coolz (trademark, BMT Entertainment) so he’s pretty much the worst. As for the bad guy, he’s just a lowly principal of a prestigious urban private high school teaching the snobby kids of rich people. Guess what? It’s his time to make some sweet cash by dealing drugs and stealing cars. No chance this will backfire and totally end with him exploding.

What?! As Patrick mentioned there was a baby blue Chevy Corvette Stingray that is probably the most obvious products that we see in the film. I may have missed something though as I had tears streaming down my face following a truly glorious jetski, rugby, streetball, and paintball sports scenes combo. It was beautiful.

Who?! We get a brief shot of a house party near the beginning of the film where a band is playing. This must be some mega famous band to be featured in person in such a major motion picture, right? Nope. It’s a band called The Actual and the song they’re singing is so small that I couldn’t even find it on the internet to listen to. It is digitally unavailable. Interestingly the lead singer is the son of Nora Ephron… small world.

Where?! Califfooorrrnia Loo-ooove. Baaah-da-da-buh-buh-buh-buh. It’s apparently a law that films that take place in LA are required to play 2Pac’s California Love. We almost certainly could make an entire cycle of films that feature that song… you know if we hadn’t already watched like 5000 terrible movies. The setting is very prominent, but not necessary. B+.

When?! Uh… Autumn probably. We know the car shown being stolen in an opening scene was taken in October, so I would guess that this all took place in November. Not sure we could get any more specific than that. D+.

This film is like every cliche wrapped into one giant ball of garbage and rolled down the aisle of a movie theater (where I’m also rolling around at this point). I actually can’t believe people created it unironically. Like… Nick Cannon goes undercover at a prestigious, predominantly white high school where he immediately a) make a big splash on the school’s streetball team (?) and b) begins to romance the smoking hot Spanish teacher which is… problematic. But not according to Nick Cannon who when interviewed about the ethics of a teacher romancing a student, particularly in the case where “they’re 16 or younger, 17 I guess makes them legal, if they’re 16 I guess they’re a minor?” to which he responded, “Realistically I don’t personally, I don’t personally, as me – young guy got game. He can’t help it. Put it on the teacher, that’s every guy’s wish. I didn’t have any sexy teachers at my school.” Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. What? Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! As a producer I wonder how many times you ultimately get a soft reboot of 21 Jump Street rejected. Once or twice, right? You have to throw it in there when a deadline approaches and you are out of ideas. Well guess what … someone actually made one in 2005! Let’s get into it.

The Good – The basketball scenes look reasonable enough. Like, I can believe Nick Cannon dunked a few times, and there are a few clear shots of actors hitting three point shots. Don’t ask me to guess how high the hoop was or whether they repainted the three point line though. That, sadly, is it. Well, besides this movie being bonkers and reviving my love for bad high school comedies that is!

P’s View on the Preview – I had to make a choice with this film. The wiki page was start class, but sorely lacking. A very unprofessional and short plot summary, and missing references. Do I close watch the film and fix it? Or do I just focus on BMT and ignore my growing passion for wiki film stubs? You betta belieb I close watched the shit out of this film. You’re looking at the foremost expert on Underclassman right here. Did you know Captain Delgado’s prized car was a 1965 Chevy Corvette Stingray named Juanita? Did you want to know that? Did you want to know that I knew that? Didn’t think so.

The Bad – The existence of this film is an enigma. Nick Cannon is just not suited for the role. The headmaster twist is telegraphed. Cannon macking the Spanish teacher is creepy. The reaction of Captain Delgado is off the chain (he at one point suggests Cannon should have shot a high school student in order to stop a carjacking … that is insane). Streetball. Rugby. Paintball. Jet skis. Boat chases. A designer drug called Bliss. A baby blue Chevy Corvette Stingray named Juanita … the movie is gloriously terrible. A glorious absurdity.

Get Yo Rant On – There is something profoundly creepy about the gall the producers in the mid-2000s had with the romantic lead in the film. Why? Why not make Tre fall in love with the Kelly Hu character or something, his undercover handler? Why a teacher? It is a profoundly disturbing statement about our society not even that long ago … although I think I would have still be creeped out in 2005 to be honest. It is just so weird. Why do this to me Underclassman? I loved you so much besides this one thing! Rant over.

Welcome to Earf – I am pretty sure this would have been impossible for me to do off the top of my head … except that the film was in our Chain Reaction category. So Keith Dallas was in both this film and I Spy starring Eddie Murphy, who was in Norbit with Terry Crews who was in Blended with Adam Sandler who was in Jack and Jill with Al Pacino who was in 88 Minutes with Leelee Sobieski who was in Here on Earth. Welcome to Earf!

The BMT – This so far is actually one of the top films for the first half of the year. Really silly enough to show to someone and they’ll immediately get why I love it. Trey goes undercover at an affluent predominantly white high school, joins the school street ball team and single-handedly wins several rounds. C’mon now!

StreetCreditReport.com – None, which I guess isn’t surprising. Given his limited filmography this even shows up on Nick Cannon’s best-of lists! It does get a random shoutout for being one of several films starting with “un” that year though.

No homework, but I wish there was a multi-season adaptation of this film into a television show. I can’t get enough. I don’t know what is wrong with me.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Alex & Emma Recap

Jamie

When Alex gets in deep with the mob over gambling debt he hires a stenographer, Emma, to help him write his next novel in 30 days. After a tough start, Alex finds inspiration (and maybe more?) in Emma. Can he finish the book (and get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in Alex & Emma.

How?! There isn’t much more to the plot than what I just laid out. Alex is in debt and needs to write a book. Emma is a freelance stenographer he hires. While he dictates to her we get a story within a story about an Alex-type-character who finds love with an Emma-type-character, but there is another women in the middle of it all. In the end they finish the book, but the real life other woman shows and everything is thrown into flux… for like five seconds and then Alex sets up a grand gesture to get her back and “fix” the end of his book… by which I mean he rewrote it so it was cliched garbage. Wow, that’s the shortest plot recap I’ve ever written… probably because the story within the story is largely useless and represents what would almost certainly be a terrible book. THE END.

Why?! Alex needs that green to get the mob off his back. Apparently he got a big advance on his next book but when his lady love left him he gambled it all away (and more) in a fit of depression and heartbreak. Nothing like the threat of death to snap him out of it and get him moving on the book. Emma is just a lonely freelance stenographer. That’s pretty much the long and the short of it.

What?! You would think a film about writing a novel wouldn’t give much product placement to speak of. You would be wrong. Alex macks on Captain Crunch constantly and when his mouth gets shredded by those patented razor sharp edges, he grabs a dasani and slams it down. Gotta keep hydrated when you’re spinning hilarious gold.

Who?! While this was an Alan Griesman production for the purposes of this cycle I did want to highlight that Elie Samaha was also a producer on this film… and Battlefield Earth… and Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever… and Texas Rangers. He was also the one convicted of defrauding investors regarding Battlefield Earth. Wonder if he’s turned his life around… nope.

Where?! The real life half of the film pretty obviously takes place in Boston, while the fake part of the film takes place on a fictional French-speaking island off the coast of Maine called St. Charles. That’s a double whammy of specificity. B+.

When?! I mostly don’t care, but we do know that the story within a story takes place in the summer of 1924. Since the entire story mirrors Alex’s life, we can presume that our current story takes place in the Fall (after the summer in which he falls in love and then loses everything). But that’s pretty vague. Maybe a C- just for the specific year in the past, but more likely a D+.

I found this entire film embarrassing for everyone involved. It is straight up terrible. I’m actually surprised it ever got an 11% on RT. I don’t really blame Luke Wilson (he was meh) and Kate Hudson (just being her charming self) because it is one of the worst scripts we’ve gotten to watch in quite a while. So they had very little to work with. It’s just a terrible movie about a terrible book being written. And not in a good way. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Recently I’ve been dictating my first novel to Caryn (she doesn’t love the arrangement) and I have to say … it sounds like complete garbage. According to Alex & Emma though that means it will ultimately be excellent, no problem. See you guys on the New York Times bestsellers list! It is called Dodger: A Garbage Pail Kids Prequel, and I think it might be the next great American novel. Let’s get into Alex & Emma!

The Good – I think Kate Hudson is hilarious and adorable. Fool’s Gold, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, etc. They all kind of work for romantic comedies for me because of her. The novel within a movie concept is intriguing enough with the changing characters that you can understand the misguided attempt at this film as well.

P’s View on the Preview – This movie has an absurdly low Rotten Tomatoes score, nearly in the single digits. So, doing a bit of analysis, the percentage of “wide release” romantic comedies (for the sake of simplicity I just defined this as the top 300 films on this chart) that qualify for BMT is an astounding 44% (this is indeed much higher than average, the percentage of films with Rotten Tomatoes scores below 40% in general is about 25% in my experience). The percentage which have a Rotten Tomatoes score at or below Alex and Emma is around 10%. So this a 90th percentile Romantic Comedy as far as bad reviews go. That’s impressive for a genre which such bad movie cred as Romantic Comedies. BTW, there are 29 Romantic Comedies with worse Rotten Tomatoes scores of which 12 have more than 100 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. We’ve seen eight of those for BMT, the other four being: Serving Sara, The Perfect Man, My Life in Ruins, and The Wedding Date.

The Bad – Sorry Luke Wilson, I’m putting you on blast. He’s just not good in this film. He’s not smarmy enough to fit the role they wanted him for (a gambling addict whose life is in danger because of a series of poor decisions), and the chemistry with Hudson isn’t really there, you don’t buy he’s actually in love with her. The entire thing is just kind of … not interesting in the least. I’ll have to save the main criticism for the rant though.

Get Yo Rant On – The book he is narrating is just awful. Just terrible. It sounds like a mess. He’s changing things in the middle. It is cliche. It sounds boring. And as the entire conceit of the film that is extremely problematic. The film is an embarrassment in that regard. Of all the films that needs a great script to be anything but awful, this might just be it. You have the main character narrating a book that is written in the vein of American classics, but it sounds like garbage. You have Rob Reiner sitting there at the end with a straight face saying “this is incredible” and as a viewer who just heard him write the entire thing you can’t help but think “you’re wrong, you have awful taste, this must be some sick condemnation of American literature.” Rant over.

Welcome to Earf – I forgot to do these recently, but this is, luckily, an easy one. Luke Wilson was in Around the World In Eighty Days with his brother Owen Wilson (they played the Wright brothers), who was in I, Spy with Eddie Murphy, who was in Norbit with Terry Crews, who was in Blended with Adam Sandler, who was in Jack and Jill with Al Pacino, who was in 88 Minutes with Leelee Sobieski, who was in Here on Earth. Welcome to Earf.

The BMT – Nope, this is a completely pointless movie that I will forget in a day. Just throw this in the pile will less entertaining rom coms I guess. Like … a shade below the interest Made of Honor generated (at least there the second half had the destination wedding / weird competition for the bride combo to sustain my interest).

StreetCreditReport.com – As far as street cred goes it does make a few lists. This blog here for example. It doesn’t get much recognition elsewhere, no Razzie Award nomination (although it did get nominated for a late Stinkers Award for whatever that is worth i.e. nothing).

No homework as has been usual recently.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Alone in the Dark Recap

Jamie

Monsters are loose in the world and only one man can stop them, supernatural investigator Edward Carnby. Can he team up with his ex-girlfriend archaeologist to take them down before it’s too late? Find out in… Alone in the Dark.

How?! Edward Carnby is one cool cat. Investigating the paranormal by day and boning to heavy metal music all night (probably). In an overly complex aspect of the plot we find that he’s been investigating a long lost Native American tribe that disappeared after opening a portal to a demonic world. At the same time a professor at the museum where his ex-girlfriend, Aline, works has unlocked this very same demonic world and has taken control of the demons within. People are dying and/or being turned into mindless weapons left and right, which eventually leads everyone to an abandoned gold mine near the orphanage where Edward grew up. They venture into the mine to have a totally rad showdown with the professor. He is able to open the demonic world once again, but Edward and his ragtag team of semi-professional killers and academics are able to kill the professor and blow up the mine. When they go back to the surface they find the beautiful city of Vancouver abandoned. Is this the end? Or is it… simply the beginning? Bum bum bum (spoiler alert: it’s the end).

Why?! It’s both personal and professional for Carnby. One the one hand, it was (is?) his job to investigate the paranormal like this demon situation. On the other hand, through an intricate web of coincidence not only does his ex-girlfriend work for the guy attempting to use the demons for world domination, but as a child he was also part of the experiment that the same guy performed to produce weaponized sleeper agents. So he’s got a lot at stake. As for the bad guy, he just wants to control the demon creatures so that he can rule to world.

What?! While a bunch of companies got special thanks for providing product placement (including Volkswagen, which provided the VW bug that Tara Reid drove), I instead want to give a little shoutout to Nuytco. The company specialized in deep sea research and according to the credits provided a research mini-submarine for use in some scenes where a gold sarcophagus is raised from the ocean floor. Just seems insane. You are a legit research company.

Who?! While not actually a role in the film I have to highlight that for whatever reason Uwe Boll decided to score a lengthy sex scene using the 1994 hit (?) Seven Seconds. Nothing like letting the viewer know that your film is hip to what the kids are into these days than a decades old European afrobeat song. You’re welcome.

Where?! While this film is very obviously filmed in British Columbia, it’s not necessarily set there. I waited with bated breath for them to hint that it was set in NYC or Anonymous US City. Instead, when they localize the gold mine they zoom in on a map of… British Columbia. Weird. So this and Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever both chose to just set the film in Canada and not worry about it. Interesting. C-.

When?! Getting the location was a treat, getting a temporal setting was probably too much to hope for. I did not catch anything to suggest when the film actually took place. Uwe Boll was probably too busy counting his money to care. F.

Jeez louise, this film is just terrible. Not fun at all to watch really. More sad and boring. I had to take several breaks in my attempt to make my way through it. I would love to say that we’ll never watch another Uwe Boll film again, but who am I kidding? The man has two other major motion picture releases that we will eventually watch. It’s like saying we won’t watch Disaster Movie… we will. It is simply a fact. Sigh. I wish it weren’t the case, but it is our fate. Foretold millenia ago on an ancient Egyptian scroll. Alas. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting something different. That must mean I’m insane for Uwe Boll films. He churns out garbage, but damn … it’s some fine looking garbage. Let’s get into it!

The Good – It looks like a film, sounds like a film, and feels like a film. So I guess it must be a film? If there is one thing good to say about Uwe Boll films it is that he takes a lot of money and makes a film that looks like it costs that amount of money. A lot of bad films you can look at and think “this is close to being a film I could actually make a better version of”, like Steel Sharks and the like. But Uwe Boll films are real films that take a lot of effort and skill to make, and that is something.

P’s View on the Preview – Uwe Boll baby. We’ve only seen one other film by Uwe Boll, the legendary In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale. Being able to place another film within the context of Uwe Boll is, of course, important to understanding that film in its full scope. And after over five years we finally got around to it. Can’t say I’m excited though.

The Bad – This plot is complete trash. The CGI is complete trash. The writing is complete trash. And any and all action is complete trash. There is no Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, Matthew Lillard and the rest of In the Name of the King’s glorious cast to save the film. Christian Slater and Tara Reid are pale imitations in that respect, and so it just kind of … makes you sad watching the film. Someone really wanted to make a film, so badly they didn’t even bother to get that sweet German tax relief scheme for this mess, and they got this. That is profoundly sad.

Get Yo Rant On – Honest question … when was Christian Slater famous? Just looking through his filmography it seems like I might have watched a single Slater film in my life prior to BMT (The Wizard) and yet for whatever reason I was aware that Christian Slater existed and was famous. It is very confusing. Perhaps it was Broken Arrow? True Romance? Were those famous enough that I’d be aware of him at the time? It is blowing my mind! Got to give him credit though, he’s survived thirty years as an actor on the B-list (in the early 90s he was probably A-list, but I don’t know, that’s what this rant is about!), and he survived being in this piece of garbage. Go get yo money Christian Slater.

The BMT – Out of all of the Uwe Boll films In The Name of the Kind and Alone in the Dark are probably the two that are the most BMT of the bunch. And I think it was a tragic necessity to watch another Uwe Boll film, as I said, for context. We’ll eventually watch at least one more I think (BloodRayne, although House of the Dead and Postal will be in play as well), but it never really feels like a pressing issue since the films seem like they are intentionally terrible (even though they aren’t).

StreetCreditReport.com – It does get quite high in a few worst ever lists (21 here, for the record I’ve seen 37 of those 50 films, although a bunch outside of BMT) but surprisingly it didn’t get recognized at all when it was released. Possibly because critics were in the process of willfully ignoring Boll. Possibly because no one actually watched it. Possibly because people thought it was “good” in the sense of being hilarious. For whatever reason no one gave a shit about the film at the time. Surprising stuff.

There is a whole video game series, but as usually ain’t nobody got time for that. All complaints about me not doing my homework can go right into the trash can, heeeyyyyooooo.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever Recap

Jamie

Ecks is a former FBI agent broken by the loss of his wife, Sever is a former assassin hell bent on getting revenge on the boss who betrayed her. Are they working with or against each other to save a kidnapped child? Find out in… Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever.

How?! If that introduction makes this film sound coherent then I’m sorry, I have misled you. For it is laughably incomprehensible. Almost to the point where Patrick and I disagreed over exactly what happened in the end. But… I’ll give it a shot. Gant is a dangerous weapons dealer who has used his child (or is he? Bum bum bum) to transport a dangerous nanobot assassin across international borders. However, once in the US a rogue assassin, Sever, abducts the child (nanobots and all) with some rad martial arts. Needing someone to help find the kid the FBI approach disgraced FBI agent Ecks. At first resistant, he eventually relents when told that his long presumed dead wife is actually alive and they will lead him to her in exchange for his help. Working against Gant’s goons, Ecks and Sever play a dangerous game of cat and mouse. In order to get Ecks out of the way he is framed for a crime and arrested. While being transported to jail, though, Sever frees him and leads him on a ho-hum but very lengthy motorcycle chase. This culminates in Sever revealing that she is actually a good guy (what a twist!) and that Ecks’ wife is actually Gant’s wife (what a double twist!) and the missing child is actually Ecks’ child (what a… wait, none of this makes sense anymore). They team up to lead Gant to a train yard where they set off giant explosions and kill a whole mess of people. In a final showdown Sever shoots Gant with a nanobot infused bullet leading to his death. Ecks then lives happily ever after with his wife and child who he’s never met. Cool. THE END.

Why?! By all accounts the motivations for Ecks and Sever are what got this film in trouble in the first place. According to the director the producers wanted the leads to have clearer motivations. They rewrote it so that Ecks didn’t just want to help find a kid but that he was doing it to find his not-actually-dead wife and that the kid turned to be his kid… which would be great if it actually made any sense. Patrick and I still aren’t exactly sure what was going on. Was she Gant’s wife, but Ecks’ lover? Was she actually Ecks’ wife and then Gant put together a super elaborate scheme so that he could get with Ecks’ wife and become an international criminal? All I know is that it sure does seem extra dumb.

What?! We do have a nice MacGuffin in this guy with Softkill, the assassin nanobot. Complete with absurd computer graphics showing how said nanobot can totes inject you with dangerous chemicals, Softkill is something that every bad guy can’t wait to get his hands on.

Who?! Little did people know that this film actually completed a mononymous director tril-o-geez for BMT. That’s because we previously watched This Means War directed by McG and Catwoman directed by Pitof. This of course was directed by Kaos. Sweet trilogy bro. Next up Into the Sun directed by mink.

Where?! At first I thought for sure this was one of those classic films set in American City for American Action, but filmed in Canada. However, it wasn’t long before it was clear that this was actually set in Vancouver… which really throws everything for a loop. So the DIA director (a component of the DoD) just lives in Vancouver full time? And several different American law enforcement agencies just waltz into Canada and take over an investigation? Cool. B+.

When?! I cannot recall seeing a date thrown around anywhere, but it might have been because my brain died halfway through watching this film. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. F.

Usually when the reviews for a film say that a film is nearly incomprehensible what they actually mean is that they didn’t feel like paying attention because the film was bad, but in reality if you pay attention the film is coherent enough. Not Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever. It’s legit hard to follow. And for that it must be commended. At the same time its incompetence gets in the way of truly enjoying the film as the worst reviewed of all time. It’s a great example of a truly bad film that I wouldn’t love to watch again. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Oooo what’s this, the first cut of that new sweet wife-fu film we commissioned from that up and coming director Kaos. What a sweet name, Kaooooos. The next John Woo I was told. Let’s just pop this guy in … oh, my God. May the lord have mercy on my soul. Let’s get into it!

The Good – There are moments in this film which look good. A specific shot in the rain is a little out of date, but not much different than something you’d see in Max Payne or Sin City. And a shot of a police officer falling off a building, specifically how they did it, is pretty impressive I think, and I think looks good. Like … the good parts make you kind of believe Kaos’ story that the movie was doomed by the production issues, because he filmed at least a few shots amazingly well I think.

P’s View on the Preview – This is the worst film ever reviewed on Rotten Tomatoes. So obviously exploring why that is and the interesting notability there was the number one priority. I also had seen the film once before over ten years ago. The only things I remembered was there is a crazy bus crashing scene, and the movie was so confusing that at one single point the storyline abruptly made no sense. To the point where I was confused as to why it was considered so bad and then all of a sudden I was “ah … there it is”.

The Bad – For the first half of the film it is just kind of confusing (more silly than anything), but then they try and pull Ecks’ wife into the mix and woooooof. It dials the confusion to eleven. Like … was he married to her? If so why did she subsequently get into Gant’s car? What happened to the other lady at lunch? It is fairly obvious that the initial intention was to not make Talisa Soto Ecks’ long dead wife (at least I think so), but they kind of reshot things to add the storyline in to makes things more personal … uh, that’ll be a mistake dawg. Besides that the action looks corny and/or shitty more often than not, the stunts look legit dangerous which makes me sad, and the soundtrack is bonkers. So really it is kind of top to bottom an impressive mess. Also shout out to Antonio Banderas’ character whitesplaining the One Child Policy to an Asian actor in the middle of the film.

Get Yo Rant On – It is kind of sad that it is likely that nothing will ever beat this film from a Rotten Tomatoes perspective. Nothing. There is just no way a film gets 100 reviews and all of them are bad. There was a sweet spot in the early 2000s where there were enough online reviewers for a kind of minor release like this to get 100 reviews, but these days someone out there would give it an ironic “so bad I vomited all over myself in the theater and missed the second half of the movie. Three out of four stars, good for what it is” for anything that a production company would even bother releasing. Something like this probably has a 50-50 shot of being shelved no matter the budget at this point just because of the crowded release schedule. What a time to be alive.

The BMT – So is this the worst movie ever? I wouldn’t personally go that far. It actually kind of reminds me of Street Fighter: Legend of Chun Li. And legit, if you recast the film with Chris Klein it would have been a legend and probably made the Hall of Fame. As it stands it probably is the most confusing film I’ve ever watched, and not in the way critics often use the term, as a synonym of messy, I mean like I still don’t know the interpersonal relationships described in the film. That’s just one piece of making a film legendary, and instead I think this will have to settle for merely being a quintessential example of that one particular movie trait.

StreetCreditReport.com – Oh yeah. On a worst-of list here, here, and here. Funny, for a film that was a little too forgettable to get noticed by the Razzies it sure did get noticed by the critics. Hmmmm. Hmmmm. Hmmmm. I revise any previous statements and I think that it didn’t get any nominations because despite being on the early ballot people just hadn’t seen it and couldn’t be bothered to vote. Although, how they could resist voting for a man named Kaos would be beyond me.

No homework, unless you count not playing the Nintendo DS game of the same name … you don’t? Excellent, then cheerios,

The Sklogs

Bringing Down the House Recap

Jamie

Peter is an uptight lawyer looking for love after his divorce. When the woman he meets online turns out to be an African American ex-con looking for legal help it couldn’t have come at a worse time. He’s got the big deal to close! Oh no! Can he close the deal (and get the girl (and learn to live and love again)) before it’s too late? Find out in… Bringing Down the House.

How?! Peter is super sad and lonely. He’s still in love with his ex-wife and continually disappoints his kids with his workaholic tendencies. If this sounds like a laugh riot, then this is the film for you! No? Well, do you like stereotypes that occasionally cross into overt racism? Yes? Great! He meets a lady online named Charlene and is super jazzed only to be crushed when she turns out to be an African American ex-con who needs him to help her clear her name. He’s ready to kick her to the curb except that she threatens to reveal to his super racist neighbors that he’s somehow adjacently involved with a black lady. Egad! What is a scared white person to do?! While he tries to deal with her, Peter also has a snooty (and racist) client that he has to close a big deal with. This all meanders about for a while with Charlene getting close to Peter’s children and helping them out with their C storylines, Peter’s coworker falling madly in lust with Charlene’s luscious curves, and eventually them all finding out that Charlene isn’t an ex-con after all… she’s an escaped convict! Everything falls apart, but Peter being the white savior that he is still tries to help out Charlene. In turn she tries to help him out by kidnapping the snooty heiress and gets her totally high on the weed (good plan). Finally Peter confronts the man who framed Charlene who admits to everything on a tape recorder. Enraged, he shoots Charlene only to have her survive thanks to a cell phone made of titanium (this is real). Having gotten high the heiress employs Peter and he gets back with his ex-wife. Jesus. This movie was straight crazytown. THE END.

Why?! Peter’s motivation is to close the big deal (but really we know the deal he really wants to close is the one that gets him back with his ex-wife). Charlene really does want to clear her name. Interestingly there is very little background provided to the audience about her crime. She mostly just says “I didn’t do it,” and then talk about trying to get her off on a technicality. Turns out she really was framed so Peter’s not a very good lawyer… which should have been obvious since he was a tax lawyer with no criminal law experience.

What?! Even the product placements were kinda stereotypical. When Charlene invited a whole bunch of friends over what is the drink of choice at the party? Olde English 800 of course. I was like “oh that’s pretty bad.” Little did I know that an old white lady would be singing a super racist spiritual only an hour later. Boy howdy.

Who?! This has two of our favorite. Alongside our leading musician-turned-actress we have Kelly Price appearing in a cameo. She is a club singer that performs when Steven Martin gets his groove on and learns to be hip. Additionally we have a credit for Linus the Dog portraying William Shakespeare. He doesn’t have any other credits on IMDb, but I think there is a strong chance he was part of the cast of a short lived show Men, Women and Dogs. I’m sure I could figure it out for sure if I tried… but I won’t.

Where?! Pretty clear this was set in Los Angeles. They started the film with a gratuitous license plate shot. Not vital to the plot or featured in any particular way, though. C+

When?! I feel like this should have been obvious since Charlene escapes from jail and that’s on the news and stuff… but alas, I couldn’t find any evidence of when this took place. Would have to guess the summer since the kids weren’t in school. F.

This film actually started with a deftly made opening about a lonely man connecting with someone online during an emotionally difficult time in his life. It’s actually pretty sweet seeing Steve Martin go about trying to figure out how to set up a date while his coworker encourages him. This then almost immediately falls apart once we enter the actual plot of the film, which at times had me holding my head in disbelief. It’s like we started at the top of a roller-coaster and almost immediately started falling towards pure craziness and offensiveness. It picked up speed all the way to a ludicrous ending that you kinda have to see to believe. The only real bright spot is an interesting and not entirely offensive bit with Eugene Levy falling in love with Charlene that turned out considerably better than it could have. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! I tried to follow the directions in this documentary. I found a fugitive from the law, harbored her in my home, and proved she was framed all along! It was a very fulfilling experience. I am still going to prison for harboring the fugitive though … can’t really get around that. Welp, c’est la vie! Let’s go!

The Good – The first half of this film is actually quite good. The premise isn’t at ludicrous as it seems. Both Martin and Queen Latifah are in actuality quite funny. Eugene Levy’s character is a crazy caricature … but he is still great as well. It is a charming half of a film that does exactly what it wants to do in a rather … unfortunate way.

P’s View on the Preview – I mean, that is it right? There was one thing and one thing only that was interesting about this film, and that is the unfortunate and (in more recent terms) tactless way they treat Steve Martin and Queen Latifah’s relationship. It was the only interesting thing about what was either going to be a boring laugh-free comedy, or a complete trainwreck depending on how offensive it was.

The Bad – The entire second half of the film just goes off the rails. Martin is harboring a fugitive, there are several crazy scenes with the heiress being a stone cold racist and smoking weed, Betty White actually does play a stone cold racist, there is a gold digger character, there is a crazy dance scene in a club. It is just crazy. Also … the titanium cellphone might as well be its own character. It has an entire arc, with Peter getting his other cellphone destroyed, him compulsively plugging it in at home constantly, and mentioning that it is $600 and made of titanium in the middle of the conclusion to the film. I cannot wait for Bringing Down the House 2: The Revenge of the Titanium Cellphone.

Get Yo Rant On – Somewhere deep in some Hollywood R&D department some intern is working on a method to edit DVDs for movies just like this. This movie would be a decent comedy (if not very funny and pretty crazy in the end) if not for the … distasteful and old-fashioned content it relies on. And there are plenty of movies like this, the gay panic scene in The Medallion is a legend! Anyways, Betty White saying a little kid looks like a … bundle of sticks is kind of where I draw the line though. If only that intern worked harder! Then they could just carefully and diligently re-edit this terrible film into something a bit more … marketable. A little dystopian, but you know they’d do it if they could. I would call this being:

Renegaded (v.) – To edit a released film in order to hide the fact that you made an abomination that no one can love; named after the Renegade Cut of Highlander II: The Quickening.

The BMT – Not really a legendary film unfortunately. It could have been if it was even more unpalatable, but watching it it isn’t nearly as bad as I expected. I do think this is an interesting recent addition to the 30-40% Rotten Tomatoes run we are going on. It does indicate our cutoff is shockingly good for something we kind of flippantly made up six years ago. Go figure.

StreetCreditReport.com – I didn’t really expect to find this on any lists. And yet, somehow, New Years come early for me because … this list is obviously amazing. How daaaaaaaare they speak ill of White Chicks though. It’s not their fault that they look like monsters!

And that is is, no homework.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

 

Behind Enemy Lines Recap

Jamie

A disillusioned navy pilot crashes behind enemy lines in Bosnia and has to survive long enough to report the atrocities he has evidence of. Can he evade capture and rediscover his love for the good ol’ U-S-of-A before it’s too late? Find out in… Behind Enemy Lines.

What?! Lt. Chris Burnett is fed up. He’s fed up with just sitting around while peace is negotiated in the Bosnian War, he’s fed up with his asshole boss Admiral Reigart, and he’s goddamn fed up with flying pointless reconnaissance missions on Christmas Day! That’s why he’s put in his resignation letter and, phew, just a couple more days and he won’t have to deal with it anymore. What could go wrong? Well shortly thereafter his plane goes off course (not his fault), inadvertently takes some pictures of some war crimes (oops), gets blown out of the sky (boy howdy, talk about a rough day), and his co-pilot is killed by Serbian soldiers (that got dark). Now he’s stuck behind enemy lines and America, handcuffed by bullshit peace or whatever, can’t go in and roast some dudes in lethal combat in order to save him (woooooooo, war!). What follows is a long footrace across the mountains of Bosnia with Serbians in hot pursuit. He has some zany adventures falling into mass graves, getting shot at by a sniper, and eventually joining up with some Coca-Cola toting, hip hop spouting Bosnian insurgents who help him to his destination. Finally, just when Burnett retrieves some valuable evidence of war crimes, he is rescued personally by Reigart who is all like “Bet you love America now. How about we just forget about all that resignation shit.” And they laugh and laugh and laugh (mostly so they don’t cry over all the human beings that have killed in the process of the film). THE END.   

Why?! To live. In some ways it’s the motivation underlying every movie we watch (that’s deep, Jamie). Thank you. But seriously, Burnett kinda sucks but has to put all that whiny bullshit aside in order to survive and deliver justice for the war crimes he witnessed. The Serbians want to cover up all those war crimes, which is why they desperately want to snuff out Burnett. It’s a real cat and mouse game here.

What?! This has one of the greatest and most unexpected gratuitous product placements in BMT history. We get Owen Wilson, dehydrated and exhausted, picked up by a truck filled with Bosnian fighters. He begs for some water, but they don’t have any. All they have is some delicious Coca-Cola. He takes a sip and smiles, “it’s good,” he says. Oh, it’s good all right.

Who?! We get a “special thanks” credit for Phil Strub. Who’s that? Why he’s the entertainment liaison for the Department of Defense and by all accounts controls Hollywood’s access to anything military. The article suggests that this dude actually has some influence on the portrayal of the military in film to the point of requesting and getting script changes. Sounds like an amazing job, when do I start?

Where?! Just misses the coveted A+. If only it were called Behind Bosnian Lines. While a terrible title, they would have had the satisfaction of getting the top grade on our website, which is read by tens of people (probably… I don’t know. Might be single digits). A.

When?! Secret Holiday Film Alert! Tis the season to be jolly, because we got Xmas in May up in here. Just when Burnett is heading off for his mission he is lamenting the fact that they are the only crew flying on Christmas Day. The mission is an act of revenge to punish his bad ‘tude. I’m gonna go ahead and give it an A. Not in the title, but vital to the plot in an unexpected way.

We’ve been watching a number of 30-40% RT films lately and I have appreciated seeing what makes them different from the <30% dregs that we are usually watching. The direction, editing, music, and general pro-war stance should have pulled this film lower… and yet it didn’t. Why? I think it was because it was eminently watchable. It was like a Michael Bay film except not 5 hours long and I genuinely enjoyed myself. Maybe that’s what buoyed it up to the the higher edge of BMT. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! What happens when you decide to construct a film entirely out of military stock footage, slow motion shots of Owen Wilson running, and explosions? Let’s go!

The Good – This movie is not that bad, which I guess shouldn’t be that surprising since the Rotten Tomatoes score isn’t that bad. It flies along at a decent pace, Owen Wilson and Gene Hackman are serviceable to solid throughout, and the story is at least pretty interesting (if ludicrous). It is a bad military film, but it is a fine action film, which is a compliment … I think.  

P’s View on the Preview – All of my bad movie hopes and bad movie dreams were tied up in the direction of this film. Everything I read basically suggested two reasons for the bad reviews. The first was just the jingoistic nature of the whole affair, which is often unpalatable to critics. The second though was the frenetic direction which often seemed to go from quick cut incomprehensibility to just multiple versions of Owen Wilson running in slow motion. So mainly I hoped that the direction was so bonkers that it pulled this film from a boring not-great war film to something special.

The Bad – And it kind of did, the direction and soundtrack very obviously sunk the film. Reflecting on the more recent 30-40% Rotten Tomatoes the films tend to be much more tolerable that the truly dire films below 30%. Monte Carlo is a decent example, it is of a cloying teen romantic comedy, but that is kind of the only thing that makes it bad. Here the direction is quite distracting and the soundtrack is just insane. As I said this makes for a shitty military movie, but a tolerable action movie. It does one or two things right, one or two things wrong, let’s call it a draw.

Get Yo Rant On – Was there a point in time when having the bad guys in film be the international peacekeepers was in fashion? The feckless international commander (who they only heavily implied had some shadowy agreement to hide genocide) was from France, and could not have been more in the way. I cannot help but think it has at least something to do with the tacit agreement the film crew and the military struck to get those sweet aircraft carrier shots. Blatant jingoism is as American as, well … military movies I suppose. Little did the director know that Michael Bay had already perfected the art of bending over backwards for sweet military shots with his smash critical hit Pearl Harbor the same year. Rant over.

The BMT – Unfortunately no. But it was interesting to see what is considered to be a late-90s / early 00s bad war film. War films, if they aren’t Sci-Fi (*cough* Battleship *cough*) seem to rarely be very very bad. So it fills a niche there for sure.

Welcome to Earf – Easy one this week. Behind Enemy Lines stars Owen Wilson who was in I Spy with Eddie Murphy who was in Norbit with Terry Crews who was in Blended with Adam Sandler who was in Jack and Jill with Al Pacino who was in 88 Minutes with Leelee Sobieski who was in Here on Earth. Welcome to Earf! There probably is an alternative non-I-Spy path to take, but I couldn’t find it organically.

StreetCreditReport.com – Nope. None. It wasn’t even close to making lists for 2001, but also I couldn’t find a single example in specifically lists concerning war films. Turns out the hatred for The Patriot, Pearl Harbor, and Revolution (you remember Revolution … starring Al Pacino … yeah me neither) is strooooong. Such is life, sometimes you just have to check those boxes.

No homework again, but soon, I can feel it. Soon I’ll be reading some terrible book for BMT.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs