Both ‘Baby Driver’ and ‘Okja’ represent directors in love with their work done right while ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ finally combines the best of both worlds

When I get two movies of this caliber back-to-back, I can’t help but write about them. It’s what I started this blog for in the first place and would be squandering an opportunity to rave about films I unequivocally loved from top to bottom.

I’ve lumped these two films into one post not only because they are both uniformly excellent (and the best of the year up to this point, bar none) but because they highlight something I argue for again and again on this website and that is vision.

Edgar Wright and Bong Joon-Ho are two writer/directors that have had clear trouble within the studio system lately. Wright’s came in the form of his very public split with Marvel over creative differences on Ant Man, a movie he was involved with for almost a decade; Joon-Ho’s was a fight for edits on his latest Snowpiercer. Prior to releasing the film in North America, the Weinstein Company (the distributer) attempting to cut down the film for wider appeal against the director’s wishes. While Joon-Ho eventually won out, I don’t doubt this experience may have soured him to the traditional studio/distributor model.

This isn’t to say studio collaboration is a wholly bad thing. More often than not (I assume), collaboration results in a better product as everyone is working towards making a better product.

However there’s a point where creators with a vision should be allowed to create collaboratively and others when a creator needs to be given more wiggle room.

In these two instances, the risks taken by both Sony and Netflix paid off spectacularly and resulted in two of the year’s finest.

….

Oh! Also I threw in a last minute Spider-Man: Homecoming review….

So we got ourselves a three-parter!

Baby Driver

The plot:

“After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.” – IMDb.com

The review:

Baby Driver will probably end up being one of my favorite movies of 2017. As of now, it sits comfortably right next to A Ghost Story (a movie I’d love to get into more here but alas I have two other movies to talk about already). There are a lot of days between now and the end of December but as far as a bar, Baby Driver is head and shoulders above just about everything else I’ve seen this year thus far and it DRIVES home a suspicion I’ve had about Wright for the better part of a decade…

Edgar Wright has no business making any movies outside of Edgar Wright movies.

While it’s a shame his vision for Ant Man didn’t work out it would have been an even bigger shame if he made the movie but without putting his entire heart into it. Something that transcends beyond just a movie-watching experience with every one of Wright’s five movies thus far is how much of himself the writer/director clearly puts into each film.

I ultimately really liked how Ant Man turned out (particularly given how much worse it could have been) but I’d be lying if I don’t ponder how it would have looked/played out under Wright’s direction. However given the creative differences we’ve all been made privy to between Wright and Marvel in the making of the movie, I’m happy he decided to step away. I don’t want to see a movie Edgar Wright made and didn’t love. He clearly LOVES Baby Driver and this luckily turns out for the best because his passion is simply infectious here.

Part of this, I assume, is because this is an idea/movie the guy’s been sitting on since as far back as the 90s (so long ago, I know) and even went so far as to let the general concept inform the music video he directed for Mint Royale.

Much has already been said about the film’s soundtrack, admittedly one of the best in a good long while. It’s one thing to have action set to good music; it’s another entirely to have the music direct action. Taking a cue from his music video experience, Wright masterfully weaves his mix tape into the proceedings and makes lanes of traffic his dance floor. Too often do we see  a recognizable song inserted into a movie to garner audience reaction (looking at you, Suicide Squad). Baby Driver‘s soundtrack has a clear mission statement and it’s “Buckle up.” It’s different even from James Gunn’s much beloved track lists for his two Guardians films. Whereas those film’s fit a specific niche (i.e. a mix of 70s/80s standards Peter Quill’s mother would realistically include on a mix tape), Wright assembles a mish mosh of different genres and eras of music to create some glorious clusterbibble of musical insanity, including songs you wouldn’t automatically associate with tension or high octane action. Like massive props for squeezing out as much tension out of Barry White track, something I never really ever considered I’d one day write.

Baby Driver is a pretty funny movie throughout, but Wright never loses focus on what exactly at stake here and what’s so refreshing about the film is that it feels as if there are actually stakes at play. Until now, Wright has utilized his considerable cinematic eye for the purpose of parody but like all great parodists he knows what makes his targets tick, and he’s a pro at mimicking the language of the movies he loves. Just like Jordan Peele did for horror with his directorial debut earlier this year in Get Out, Baby Driver not only pays tribute to the canon; it becomes a new defining contemporary. He’s always skirted the line of paying homage to idol turned friend Quentin Tarantino but here he goes all out. It’s as if Tarantino got a hold of the script for Drive and through in some Mario Kart, and as hokey as that sounds, it works like gangbusters.

I guess if I were to (nit)pick any element of the movie I’d point to the romantic aspect of the story being a little less developed than the crime side of things. True Romance (an obvious influence here) suffered from a similar problem. It isn’t bad per se. It’s just not as engaging, partly I assume due to the level of cast on the crime side where Ansel Elgort and Lily James, as good as they are, sort of pail in comparison when put side-by-side with Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm. Once again, I stress this is a nitpick more than an substantial complaint as the cast is uniformly spectacular, particularly Foxx and Hamm. No spoilers but where Hamm goes in this movie is easily the best stuff he’s done since Mad Men ended and a keen reminder that this guy needs to be headlining films. Eiza González rounds out the main criminal cast and is probably given the least to do. However thanks to sheer charisma, she leaves her mark and would not be upset to see her get more projects as a result of her participation here (and the same goes for everyone else in the cast too).

It’s really hard to pin down just what works best about Baby Driver when I unabashedly loved just about every square inch of it. Call me a Wright fanboy if you must, but that man’s cinematic sensibilities largely coincide with mine in a way not many other filmmakers do. Part of me wants him to return to making more films with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, yet a larger part of me wants him to keep exploring new, uncharted areas but most of all: KEEP MAKING EDGAR WRIGHT MOVIES.

Okja 

The plot:

“Meet Mija, a young girl who risks everything to prevent a powerful, multi-national company from kidnapping her best friend – a massive animal named Okja.” – IMDb.com

The review:

If you’re not a fan of Bong Joon-Ho’s earlier directorial outings (which include the likes of The HostMother and Snowpiercer), chances are Okja is going to do very little to convince you otherwise. The man’s chaotic sensibilities are all over this thing and admittedly not everything sticks; however, I can’t help but marvel at the attempt none-the-less. Part E.T., part Fast Food Nation, part Wes Anderson, part Pixar, part….countless other things, Okja is the cinematic equivalent to a pot luck dinner; everyone brings something unique to the table, and as is the case with good pot lucks, the end result is ultimately delicious.

And given the proceedings, “delicious” may not be the best term but I felt it was apt therefore I’m just going to commit to it. It’s been kind of odd to see Netflix market this thing as a more of a family film which it most certainly is not. The only real whimsy is near the beginning of the first act as we see Mija (Ahn Seo-hyun) and the super pig by which the film gets its name live out their idealistic lives in the South Korean countryside. After about 15 or 20 minutes though, things take a considerably darker turn. And not in the same way Gremlins or The Goonies did. While darkly comedic at points, this movie is pretty bleak and offers very little in the form of resolution. No spoilers but this movie ends about as happy as it could given everything that occurs.

That isn’t to say the movie isn’t fun at all. Joon-Ho sets his chase scenes up there with the best of them.

His camera glides set pieces, providing a genuine sense of scale, that harken back to the likes of Spielberg, a director to whom he is often compared. And that’s not the only bit of Sir Steven’s DNA Joon-Ho infuses in Okja. The same could be said of how he utilizes visual effects. Okja is a Netflix Original but you see quite a few dollars in its titular super pig. Joon-Ho really gets a handle on special effects being a tool rather than a crutch by which to set your film. Okja, and the rest of her ilk, all look startlingly real at points.

I also really hope he continues this trend he began with Snowpiercer in assembling a truly global cast. I know this is not the case but it felt like there was representation on every front here as reflected by a cast made up of some of our best and brightest actors working today. Rather than run through them all, I’ll make note of one in particular before saying the obvious…

Jake Gyllenhaal, one of the most underrated big name character actors we’ve got working today, goes full Nicholas Cage here in that he goes big. Like really big. What one may call hammy (pardon the pun) acting, I call rising to the material as many of the actors go really large here. I particularly liked the team of Paul Dano, Steven Yeun, Lily Collins, Daniel Henshall and Devon Bostick as a team of Animal Liberation Front members set on bringing the evil corporation behind the proceedings down in a flaming ball of wreckage. The movie could have easily made these characters noble martyrs devoid of anything interesting. Instead, we get a cluster of characters that may have hands just as dirty as those they condemn. Here’s hoping that if for whatever reason this spawned a sequel, that group would be at the center of it.

Now what was that obvious thing I was going to say?

Oh yeah, the cast is great and a great ensemble. Some have larger parts for sure, but I think everyone was great in terms of memorability. Also cool to have a cast of people I wouldn’t automatically associate with one another in any way come together and actually work really well together. Points to you, Okja cast.

That isn’t to say this movie is free of some heavy handed messages. The social commentary is laid on so thick this time out you may just feel your cholesterol rise at one point or another. When we advance to the more metropolitan area of the film, things start to become all at once more wacky and incredibly dour.

And it’s when those two key elements (the whimsy of the country side and the wacky yet bleak, over-the-top metropolis) where things don’t really click all the way for me. Perhaps Joon-Ho meshes these two, from the offset, incompatible sides intentionally. The down home values of rural living don’t often sit well with the cynical crassness of the corporate circus. It might be more than a little blunt, but that could also be the point.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

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The plot:

“Thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, Peter returns home, where he lives with his Aunt May, under the watchful eye of his new mentor Tony Stark, Peter tries to fall back into his normal daily routine – distracted by thoughts of proving himself to be more than just your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man – but when the Vulture emerges as a new villain, everything that Peter holds most important will be threatened.” – IMDb.com

The review:

I’m writing this one sort of last minute because…well, I don’t really have a proper excuse. It’s mainly to A) keep in line with my self-imposed Marvel tradition and B) I love Spider-Man….as in “He’s my favorite superhero” level of love (least we forget I wrote a terrible outline for a proposed 4th Sam Raimi movie…you may call it fan fiction) so I’d probably be a waste if I didn’t take some time to talk about this latest movie (the third cinematic iteration for those keeping count) starting ol’ Web Head.

I’d still say Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 is still the best of the Spidey films if only for the insanity he brought to the table, but this is EASILY the best one since that one. It’s always been comical how better adept Marvel is at making superhero movies than Sony is, objectionably solidified here as Marvel took the creative reigns with Homecoming and Sony footing the bill for distribution and marketing.

Perhaps the best thing about the film as a whole is how Marvel seemingly made a checklist of things we have and have not seen in a Spider-Man film (we’re up to 6 now), placing an emphasis on the “HAVE NOT” section. Elements worth noting: Spider-Man forced to traverse landscapes without the use of New York’s tall buildings, Peter gets a side-kick, no city-wide threat, minimal stakes (at least in relation to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole) and minimal set up for future films. Given it took six screenwriters to bring this latest outing to life, it’s remarkable this movie is as comprehensible and breezy as it is.

It’s been said a lot but this is Spider-Man at his most basic core and it is so f*cking refreshing to have him solving problems below the level of a city destroying disaster while also balancing high school problems like studying and finding a girlfriend. We’re also at the stage of Spider-Man’s superhero career where he’s about as competent at saving the day as the kids in director Jon Watts’ first feature Cop Car were at grand theft auto (and just as bad of a driver, I might add). We get a pop in from Tony Stark (played as always -until the money runs out- Robert Downey Jr) who offers kind of advice and glimpses at the larger universe Spider-Man has finally rightfully entered pop up here and there but this movie is at its prepubescent best when it “keeps its feet to the ground” and let’s Spider-Man be Spider-Man. I’m excited to see where Peter Parker fits in come Avengers time, but right now it’s just nice to have a solid solo adventure unconcerned with sequels and spin-offs. -coughAMAZINGSPIDERMAN2cough-

Based off of this sole outing, I’m happy to see where we go with these characters. I wasn’t immediately onboard with Peter Parker having a comedic sidekick but Jacob Batalon went far and above in winning me over. Peter’s never really had a sounding board in a movie before and it’s a refreshing change of pace to have someone he can communicate with about superheroing outside of a love interest. There’s been some chatter about Aunt May being played by a younger actress (in this case, Marisa Tomei) but I attribute that to just nerd bitching for the sake of bitching. I thought she was perfectly fine here and honestly wish we had gotten some more scenes between her and Peter.

We also have Zendaya playing Michelle “MJ” Jones. I think the whole crew has expressly said up to this point this character is not Mary Jane Watson, but I’d be interested to see if they go down that route in future film’s in having her become a love interest. Zendaya plays MJ more akin to Ally Sheedy’s in The Breakfast Club rather than the red headed, street smart bombshell Mary Jane is in the comics which I am by no means opposed to. I’m jut curious as to why Marvel opted to have her play a wholly originally character with the nod to Mary Jane without just having her play Mary Jane. Maybe I’m just over-thinking it but given the PP/MJ relationship is one of my favorites in all of comicdom, I’d be lying if I were to say I wasn’t just a little disappointed it apparently won’t have a place in the new films.

I think Tom Holland may represent the closest we come to in terms of a consensus on who is THE Spider-Man. Tobey Maguire was a wonderful Peter Parker, bringing a truly geeky shine to the part as well as shouldering the inner turmoil and downright bad luck that also defines just who Parker is. However his Spider-Man lacked zany energy and the nonstop banter we know and love from the comic. Andrew Garfield had the exact opposite problem. Where his Peter Parker was a vanilla hipster, his Spider-Man was just about everything you could want out of that character.

Holland is the first (in my opinion) to finally blend those two together, being at once the perfect Peter Parker AND Spider-Man. I believe he’s only a year or so younger than Maguire was when he first donned the tights but his overeagerness and endless enthusiasm make for a character that comes off as genuinely youthful where Maguire (and especially Garfield) seemed almost too old.

Marvel is actually 2 for 2 this year in the quality villain department between this and Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2. It’s been written about in length elsewhere, but most disappointingly the Marvel Studios films lack genuinely interesting menace.

Michael Keaton plays Adrian Toomes, more popularly known as the Vulture, a villain that’s never really lit my pants on fire in terms of Spider-Man’s main rouges gallery. Sure, he can be interesting but there are a lot more compelling cards in the deck if you catch my meaning. Well, I’m happy to eat my words here because Toomes, as played by Keaton, embodies everything I love about Spider-Man villains and why the represent the best of the bunch out of any Marvel superhero’s.

Toomes and his crew, rounded out by some other well-known (and not-so-well known) Spider-Man baddies, have no interest in global domination. They aren’t really out for revenge either. They mainly just want money and, at least in Toomes’ case, to provide for their families. In fact, the only time our villain kills someone it’s a complete accident…and I loved that. The best Spider-Man villains are generally either regular guys or super geniuses, all of whom could probably better humanity if their rage and/or interests were directed to positive outlets.

While this movie is really fun (outside of Baby Driver and Lego Batman, I’d reckon this is the most fun I’ve had at the cinema this year), it neglects one of the key aspects of the Spider-Man mythos that left me somewhat…cold.

I’m all for skipping the origin story. We’ve seen it enough times at this point, particularly in Spider-Man’s case. This movie never shows us the fateful spider bite. Nor does it show us the death of Uncle Ben. It fact, I don’t remember Ben Parker ever being mentioned even at one point and this leads into my larger issue with Disney’s approach here.

There’s really never any moment of grief expressed at almost any point in this roughly 2 hour movie. It’s clearly a calculated move and it takes a toll in more than one aspect. More than once, Peter’s inexperience threatens the lives of innocents. At no point are we really told, “Great power = great responsibility,” either explicitly or even through action. Not one of his stupid, selfish choices effect him or his life emotionally.

Let’s go down the list…

SPOILERS

Botch an attempt to stop a robbery and nearly get someone blown up. It’s fine. In fact, both he and his cat are also fine.

Ditch your friend at a party? It’s all good. He’s not mad. They called you,”Penis Parker” for a few seconds, but no one bullied you or made fun of you for not bringing Spider-Man.

Ditch your friends for a really important competition? It’s fine. They still won.

Almost get your friends killed at the Washington Monument through your own stupidity? It’s fine and you’re even more famous now and Tony is even happy with you. Good job blowing up the Washington Monument!

Foolishly attempt to thwart some bad guys on a boat which directly leads to its destruction? No one died so it’s all good…BUT YOU DON’T GET YOUR SUPER COOL SUIT ANYMORE.

Ditch your prom date? It’s fine and she wishes you luck later.

Steal someone’s car? It’s fine and it’s never mentioned again. It’s funny even! (Editor’s note: it is really, really funny. I really liked this bit….I’m just adding it to prove a point.)

Crash a plane into a populated area? No one was on it and no one died! Yay! Also the bad guy likes you now…and so does Tony! Good job! You get your suit back!

END OF SPOILERS

This lack of consequence is somewhat disappointing because it’s something the first two Raimi film’s emphasized so well. Spider-Man 2 hammers home just how much it sucks to be an adult, let alone an adult with spider powers. Adulthood limits us and comes with a true cost. It doesn’t come with a parent-block or imaginary line. You learn through the piles of shit life throws at you, not by life handing things to you and saying, “Good job.”

Perhaps it’s highly appropriate this movie references Ferris Bueller, a movie about the ultimate in unchecked teenage fantasy. The problem is the movie tells us differently at times. Tony gives Peter lectures about responsibility, but tangible consequences are no where to be found.

This by no means ruins the movie; it’s just something I wish had been included if only for a moment. Like it or not, tragedy is a defining element to the Spider-Man character. Hell, it’s a motivator for just about every superhero under the sun, both red and yellow. In Spider-Man’s case, the death of his uncle is something he could have prevented. The death of Gwen Stacy is something he directly caused. Now I don’t want a glum, emo Spider-Man. We got that with the last two movies and it sucked in every way conceivable. But this is a character that lends itself to some darker elements, and I hope Marvel doesn’t lose sight of that moving ahead. Luckily, at this point, I have a rather large amount of faith in that company given their track record so my expectations going into the sequel will be astronomical.

For what it is, Spider-Man: Homecoming is by and large my favorite of the comic book bunch this year which is saying a lot given what else is included in its 2017 graduating class (The Lego Batman Movie, Logan, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, Wonder Woman and those are just ones that have been released). And when I say, “favorite,” I wouldn’t automatically say that translates to best per se. This was just such a rejuvenating experience because this is largely what I’ve wanted from a Spider-Man movie for so f’ing long and it largely delivered on everything I wanted, checking off just about every box in my wish list.

It at once combines a lot of what I love about the comics with just about everything I love about the movies in one digestible cocktail. Here’s hoping they add just a little bit more spice on the next go around…in a sequel, not another goddamn reboot.

‘It Comes At Night’ revels in the enveloping fear of nothingness

I’ve gone through seemingly time-and-time again what I favor in a horror film. Time after time after time. Needless to say I’m going to try to hard on it again here too extensively. Suffice to say: I prefer a less is more approach.

It Comes At Night, much like 2016’s The Witch, is movie almost tailor-made to my horror sensibilities.

The plot:

“Secure within a desolate home as an unnatural threat terrorizes the world, the tenuous domestic order he has established with his wife and son is put to the ultimate test with the arrival of a desperate young family seeking refuge. Despite the best intentions of both families, paranoia and mistrust boil over as the horrors outside creep ever-closer, awakening something hidden and monstrous within him as he learns that the protection of his family comes at the cost of his soul.” – A24

The review:

As I’ve written in the past, any horror movie worth its weight in salt doesn’t simply taser your nerves with jump-scare after jump-scare. That’s completely within the realm of playing peek-a-boo with an infant. Look to any of the most iconic horror films, such as Alien or The Exorcist. There aren’t really roundtable scenes where the “rules” are discussed.

The more you know or understand about something, the less scary it becomes. It’s why the movement in the late 2000s to add backstory to some of cinema’s most iconic monsters (Leatherface, Michael Myers, etc) came off as simple sacrilege. It’s why I see little point in Ridley Scott diving into the origins of the xenomorph with his latest crop of Alien films. There’s definitely an argument to be made for some explanation (it all relates back to the movie itself and this is by no means a universal rule) but on the whole fear stems from a lack of understanding.

Generally fear comes from something you know very little about, and that’s the wheelhouse in which Trey Edward Shults opted to operate when crafting his second feature. There’s no scene of a news report providing exposition nor is there a scientist character to clue us in on what exactly our characters are dealing with.

As with his first film, Krisha, Shults translates the rawness of emotion from a personal tragedy (in this case the death of his father) to raw intensity, feeding into the universal fear of losing those closest to you. Like his earlier film, Shults explores the impulse and fruitlessness in seeking normalcy in extreme and strenuous circumstances, ultimately questioning whether such a normalcy is not only obtainable but if it even existed in the first place.

Those who come into It Comes At Night for an answer to what exactly “it” is, may leave this movie severally disappointed. There’s not a monster stalking the two families at its center. There isn’t even a clear villain or even a message. The horror at the movie’s core is a lot harder to define than something as tangible as a monster. Besides what could possibly more frightening outside than the thought of the danger being inside with you, under your skin.

The virus in the movie refreshingly doesn’t turn its victims into zombies or any form thereof. In fact, the film spends very little time what exactly the disease is or how exactly it works beyond being both highly contagious and incredibly fatal. We don’t know where it originated or just how widespread it is.

At the center of it all is Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), who serves as our de facto avatar. He is in the company of his teacher cum survivalist father Paul (a career best performance from Joel Edgerton) and stressed out mother Sarah (the ever-dependable Carmen Ejogo). The family lives already lives on the thin edge of a razor in their respective isolation when a stranger named Will (Christopher Abbott) appears at their front door.

Will has his own clan consisting of wife Kim (Riley Keough) and young son Andrew (Griffin Robert Faulkner). The two families soon merge and things are good…at first. But as movies demand, conflict arises as paranoia sets in. Travis’ nightmares, pouring with thoughts of hopelessness and desperation, become more and more frequent, eventually bleeding into reality. There’s all matter of combustions laid before the audience (sexual tension, conflated masculinity, “looking out for one’s own); all it takes is one match to set everything off.

What ultimately happens is at once shocking and inevitable, brutally so. This movie is scary enough on its own but its true horror only sinks in after its over and you attempt to wrap your head around what it all meant.

There’s an emptiness at the heart of It Comes At Night and in that emptiness viewers will either embrace the abject terror or find frustration at the lack of clear answers. Instead, we find blind animalistic panic, lashing out at an all-consuming darkness that will one day envelop us all.There are multiple sequences draped in shadow, darkness threatening to envelop the entire frame at points. It’s at these moments where the film really, really excels.

There’s no way to fully understand human nature; why we act the way we do when we’re scared. As the film’s tagline explicitly states, “Fear turns men into monsters.”

Allow me to play Carnac the Magnificent and glimpse into the future for a moment. This is a movie that will be completely bypassed come award season. I know it. You know it. Your mom knows it. And truth be told, there are much, much, MUCH worse things to be concerned about in this ever-troubling world of ours but it is a shame to be sure.

Drew Daniels paints a jaw-dropping canvas with his cinematography, by far the best I’ve seen this year. The shots within the house are tight and claustrophobic while the few times we leave for the outside feel expansive yet uncertain, leaving us never really at ease in the same way our characters are. It’s a commendable attribute for a cinematographer to pull something off like that in way that isn’t hand-holdy or obvious. The same could be said of Brian McOmber’s score which never dips into hysteria, instead serving its tight-wound atmosphere.

A common complaint I’ve been hearing relates back to the film’s marketing. Now, as of now, I’d say the film’s teaser (posted above) is one of the best I’ve seen in a good long while. Hands down the best for a movie to come out thus far. It works as a template of exactly what a trailer should be. It’s only when you look at the full trailer (posted below) do things get kind of murky.

I’d argue this cut is still streets ahead of your run-of-the-mill trailer house output, as is the case with a lot of A24’s stuff. However it does more explicitly market this as a more traditional horror film, which is most certainly is not. It’s only during the nightmare sequences does the film dip into more familiar ground with the occasional jump scare and shocking image. On CinemaScore, audiences gave the film an average grade of “D” on an A+ to F scale which is shockingly low but not really all that surprising.

This isn’t a movie for a “fun” movie night with your friends. Well unless those friends are like weird and “pretentious” like me or sadists. It Comes At Night is not a fun movie. It’s a movie that’s actually a lot more simple than it lets on, all while never going over the top (something its B-movie title may suggest) in a way that would feel false to the world Shults creates. Some may find this boring while I argue it’s refreshing.

Throughout the film, we are reminded of the red door which serves as the only entrance and exit for the home. Said door is never supposed to be opened after nightfall. As is the case with movies however, the door does open. However, we never get a glimpse of some horror such as a monster or zombie horde. Instead we only see empty blackness. A majority of horror films presume the former is scarier. Shults favors the latter however, allowing audiences to squirm in the expanse of the unknown and contemplate the familiarity we may find within our own souls.

A perfectly imperfect organism: The beautiful metamorphosis of the ‘Alien’ quadrilogy

“Strange fascination, fascinating me / Changes are taking the pace I’m going through” – David Bowie, Changes

“If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn

“The saddest journey in the world is the one that follows a precise itinerary. Then you’re not a traveler. You’re a f**king tourist.” – Guillermo del Toro

“Do what you haven’t done is the key, I think.” – Ridley Scott

Over the past few days there has been quite the influx of retrospectives regarding the Alien franchise. Such is the cycle of a franchise, particularly one that’s been around as long as this one.

Surely there will be much to be said of the first two film’s influence. There will be in-depth histories into the making of each, focusing once again (most likely) on the first two films and rightly so. Both Alien and Aliens are absolute masterclasses, representing the pinnacle of what can be achieved in their respective genres and their influence is obvious in just about subsequent, similar film that came afterwards. Released in 1979, Alien remains the standard of the wonders of horror and science fiction. Its sequel, Aliens, bares one of the distinct honors of being a rare sequel that meets the level of success its iconic predecessor if not wholly surpassing it. Much can also be said about the franchise’s refreshing and outright progressive steps in showcasing a genuinely badass female protagonist in the form of one Ellen Ripley, who actually showcases characterization outside of “badass female protagonist.” -COUGHJYNERSOCOUGH-

Reviewers will be quick to praise the success of these two films, all while quickly dismissing the two films that followed them (Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection respectively). Now while these films are far, far, FAR from perfect, I argue they are also very far from terrible and in some respects even almost secretly phenomenal. Now you are well within your right to argue to the contrary but I posit that each and every one of these movies have merit and that’s what I’m here to convince you of here and now.

I’m here to put forth that this franchise deserves commendation for a reason I don’t see cited all that often by critics or fans and if I can somehow convince you to see this series out, then I call that a win for both of us.

The first four Alien films stand singularly as a franchise benefited by multiple cooks in the kitchen, not least of which is the fact that each sports a different director at the helm with Ridley Scott tasked with the first film, James Cameron the second, David Fincher the troubled-third and Jean-Pierre Jeunet bringing in the rear with the utterly insane (once thought to be) final chapter. The utterly unique thing about them combined is that none remotely resemble each other in regards to their tone. Each perfectly represents what their respective director brings the table and I absolutely love that. I’d argue it may just be the most director-driven franchise we’ve yet to see.

Much like the xenomorph itself, each entry adapts to the vision of its host or in this case, the director. Over the years, this monster has evolved and warped to whoever oversaw it. Like the Mad Max films, there isn’t too much of an emphasis on continuity but there is, at the very least, a through-line through the first four; that being Ripley (Signourney Weaver), the Weyland-Yutani Corporation and the xenomorph itself. So there is a cannon and I’m all for that, but there’s also wiggle room to take the story in directions free from the constraints of your typical, more episodic narrative. I’d almost argue the DVD/Blu-ray collection should be called the Alien Anthology rather than the Quadrilogy.

Now it’d be ridiculous to fully credit each of these movies to the efforts of a single person. As someone whose never fully subscribed to the auteur theory, I think the individuality of each entry can be attributed to small armies worth of folks both in-front of and behind the camera. Watch the bonus features on the Alien Quadrilogy box set (perhaps the greatest DVD/Blu-ray release of the past decade given the absolute wealth of material) and you’ll lose track of just how many people played in important part in each, a fact we often lose sight of with every movie. The BTS material on this set covers every single aspect of the production of each film, beginning with their origins and spanning all the way to the final product’s release and reception. Every individual interviewed is refreshingly candid, unafraid to share their personal thoughts regardless of whether it paints them in a pretty picture. The making of each entry is as interesting (if not more so) as the films themselves.

Also important to note that I’m really only going to get into the first four films as well as a little on Prometheus later on so that means no Alien vs. Predator or its equally terrible sequel.  I don’t really consider either of those movies to be honest-to-Ripley sequels because outside of featuring xenomorphs, they largely stand apart. The sooner I, and the world, can forget about scenes like the one below, the sooner we can heal.

Also those movie are lack any sort of merit beyond just being bad and I’m trying to bring us up rather than down…at least in relation to the first four films. There will be plenty of Prometheus-bashing soon.

I’m not divulging that in-depth in relation to the plot of these movies but there will be some frank discussion about plot points in each film in the series meaning of course the ending or major twists will come up at one point or another.

So yeah there are some spoilers, Nick.

Alien

The gist:

“After a space merchant vessel perceives an unknown transmission as distress call, its landing on the source moon finds one of the crew attacked by a mysterious life-form, and they soon realize that its life cycle has merely begun.” – IMDb.com

So here’s our template, the movie that sets the tone for all that comes afterward. Almost all the major beats that take place a viewer from today may pass off as cliché neglecting the fact this is the film that not only created the cliché but perfected it. Typically, when EVERYTHING about a movie is iconic, it’s because more than one person was doing their job.

But another thing it deserves all the credit in the world for is just how dadgum relatable everything is. Yeah, I know. It takes place in space. Yeah, I know. There’s a face-hugging, chest-bursting monster at the center of it all. But as with the rest of these films, it’s really smart in its execution.

Our crew isn’t a group of scientists like in Prometheus. Nor are they an elite group of marines as in Aliens (with the term “elite” being used very, VERY liberally in this instance). They’re space truckers, and only one of them makes it out alive by the end. Even then, it’s by the absolute skin of her teeth. I think a lot of this reflects on the time this came out in the 1970s, where there was this larger push for the realistic; where films began to mirror documentaries in their presentation. Like A New Hope, Alien does not exist in a pristine future. It’s a world that’s been lived-in, where dated technology still exists and the grime carries over. This goes hand-in-hand with the way our character’s talk to one another. A lot has been said of the subtle yet noticeable way the crew talks over one another, similar to the way large groups of people do in real life. This is due to Scott trusting his actors in this case, allowing them to play off one another rather than fully adhering to the script.

It’s also incredibly important to point out how simple the whole affair is. The original theatrical cut clocks in at 117 minutes, chump change compared to today’s standard tent-pole but by no means a breezy movie either. But I can count only one hand how many major plot points there are, and I stress that the movie isn’t filler. It all comes down to the power of good pacing, matched with clever dialogue and stunning presentation.

In more cases than not, simple is the best option. Scott was setting out to make Dune (an adaptation he was originally supposed to direct funny enough before opting to do Blade Runner instead). There’s a much larger world in Alien, yes, but it’s at the service of the characters first. Go back and watch Alien and make a point to notice how all (or most) of the world-building is subjected largely to the background. That’s because Scott, at his best, is a MASTER CLASS world builder. When matched with a great screenplay, I argue he works best. It doesn’t hurt that he had the insight to bring in Swiss surrealist artist H. R. Giger to form his monster but everything involving the alien, ensuring a visual consistency on LV-426 and the crashed Space Jockey ship. I could go on but YouTuber kaptainkristian spoke in-depth on the matter and I’ll pass the baton off to him.

Another reason just about everyone loves (snobs and paupers alike) is that it appeases everyone’s sensibilities without ever once being condescending. It’s moody and dark, building tension to white-knuckle levels (Dallas in the vents), and it provides the ever-important gore (the chest-burster). Science fiction fans love the hardware, but those who don’t are never bored with techno-babble. It’s progressive in how it doesn’t fit any of its character into a box. No one is a damsel or tasteless stereotype. 

It checks off every box, making for as perfect of a film as there ever has been. I’d be lying if I thought it even needed a sequel let alone a franchise. But seeing as it made an estimated ALL OF THE MONEY in 1979, a sequel was all but assured. The question was however would said sequel be more of the same, but on a bigger scale or a different experience altogether set within the same world. The answer was a resounding….yes/no.

Aliens

“Fifty seven years after Ellen Ripley survived her disastrous ordeal, her escape vessel is recovered after drifting across the galaxy as she slept in cryogenic stasis. Back on Earth, nobody believed her story about the “Aliens” on the moon LV-426. After the “Company” orders the colony on LV-426 to investigate, however, all communication with the colony is lost. The Company enlists Ripley to aid a team of tough, rugged space marines on a rescue mission to the now partially terraformed moon to find out if there are aliens or survivors. As the mission unfolds, Ripley will be forced to come to grips with her worst nightmare, but even as she does, she finds that the worst is yet to come.” – IMDb.com

Hard to ever really accurately gauge but if I were to make an informed guess, I’d say Aliens is the fan favorite. I’d certainly argue this as I’d say it is hands-down my favorite two films as well.

Something that’s been noted in recent years is that Aliens, for all its bells and whistles, is practically the exact same movie as Alien in that it hits a lot of the same narrative beats. The key difference is where Scott took us inward, favoring claustrophobia and paranoia; director James Cameron went much bigger, favoring action beats and encompassing scope. The connecting tissue (at least thematically) is that bigger themes weren’t lost in the shuffle.

Cameron took the mantle from Scott effortlessly, taking the world he had established without going too large. This is a tight-rope too many sequels fall short of, simply taking a “bigger is better” approach. Aliens growth all flows naturally. Informed by the insect-like design of the monster, Cameron built on that and made his monsters hive-based going so far as to have a queen. Informed by the treachery of Ash in the last film, Cameron plays with our expectations with Bishop and allows for ready-made tension. 

For all intents and purposes Aliens is an action blockbuster but as with a majority of Cameron’s films, it is an exceedingly intelligent one. Too often I see folks criticize the space marines for being one-dimensional, but Cameron and the cast do an incredibly skillful job at characterizing them all. Who is to say we really need to hear the life-story of all of these guys and gals? There’s a great deal many more of them than there were Nostromo crew members, so efficiency is key. Largely, we get all the info we really need within a few seconds of meeting each new squad member.

I love, love, love that most action-oriented of the series is the most about female empowerment as well. The image of Ripley we so often see is the one she becomes in this movie, and the great thing is that it doesn’t just happen. Ripley just barely survived the film and it had a great deal to do with luck. This is Weaver’s best outing with the character by a large margin reflected by the fact she received a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her efforts; something typically unheard of for science fiction and horror.

She plays Ripley as a woman looking to find her footing in an unfamiliar world. In the Director’s Cut, we learn that her daughter died while she was floating around in space. The only thing left to her is her cat (who really needed an epilogue now that I think about it). Deciding to return to LV-426, she finds a new purpose in Newt and in doing so reclaims that lost motherhood.

This plays larger into her conflict with the Alien Queen during the film’s climax (given Ripley saw fit to torch all of her babies), which boils down the movie to a knock-out, drag-down war for motherhood told through the prism of an old-fashioned war story.

It’s easily the most accessible of the four as well. Where Alien and Alien 3 may (wrongly) be accused of being “boring” and Resurrection too weird, Aliens is just the right mix of action/horror/comedy that reaches a wide audience. It’s no coincidence that, in many cases, some saw this movie before Alien.

And that accessibility without sacrificing genuine storytelling is something I don’t think Cameron gets nearly enough kudos for.  He’s been credited for raising the bar of where effects can take us time and time again, but he always does so in a way that compliments the story too. Sure, he can be written off as unoriginal but more often than not he’s falling back on the grand tradition of acquiring a previous work and running with it.

Aliens represents a sequel done not just well, but perfectly. Anything that followed would have considerable shoes to fill. Unfortunately, the series really never recaptures the glory of its first two films. But as I said before, that doesn’t mean the two final films were failures. In fact, I argue they’re secret successes.

Alien 3

“After escaping from the alien moon, the ship carrying Ellen Ripley crashes onto a remote and inhabited ore refinery. While living in the ore refinery until she is rescued by her employers, Ripley discovers the horrifying reason for her crash: An alien stowaway. As the alien matures and begins to kill off the inhabitants, Ripley is unaware that her true enemy is more than just the killer alien.” – IMDb.com

When I talk about Alien 3, I get kind of defensive due in no small part to the involvement of director David Fincher, a man for whom I give a great deal of admiration to.

I’ll concede that the theatrical cut is a bit of a mess, a clear victim of retooling and cuts. The effects are also a series low point when it comes to seeing a dog-like xenomorph (or a cow as is the case in the Director’s cut) fully in motion. This is something I think speaks more to the limitations of technology at the time and its an admittedly a cool idea to give us a new type of creature, enhanced by a canine rather than a human. It branches out the mythos in a subtle way rather than immediately throwing elephant xenos or tiger xenos. That said the effect looks pretty bad even by early 90’s standards and probably could have used some re-tooling.

I’m mainly drawing from the 2003 Assembly Cut, a version of the film that is exactly what it sounds like. Adding in about 37 minutes of new or unused footage, this version fits in line more with Fincher’s original vision. Now it too isn’t a perfect movie, but I’d wager it’s a much more complete, comprehensible of the narrative. Not that I fault the studio all that much for making the cuts they did.

If one watches the BTS features on the Quadrilogy set (something I once again whole heartedly recommend), you’ll pick up on the fact that making each one of these movies was an absolute nightmare. Based on the production stories from Alien 3‘s surprisingly frank making-of documentaries, it’s a minor miracle that the either cut of the film is watchable at all.

Where Aliens was a big, loud, bombastic statement, Alien 3 brings everything inward; it cleans the slate, bringing everything back to a simplistic core. What it lacks in scope however it more than makes up with lofty ideas and imagery. It’s the closest the series has to an art film, something I attribute to Fincher and the early involvement of Vincent Ward, who brought forth a lot of religious context and themes to his original vision before Fincher took over. Fincher, to his credit, scaled things back considerably in favor of taking the series back to its roots. 

The last film sought to build Ripley up, elevating her to the badass we see often in the iconography.  Too often we neglect Alien 3 however, the movie that brought her right back down to lowest point we had yet to see her.

I think a lot of the hate this movie receives deals largely with the fact it is almost nothing like its largely revered predecessor. It’s in no way a fun movie and it isn’t a summer blockbuster. Hell, our movie opens with the death of Newt and Hicks. In the Assembly Cut, Newt’s autopsy is a critical scene for Ripley. There are very, very few scenes of levity to balance everything out so it is a really long, dour affair at the end of the day. I argue Fincher’s best stuff is pretty bleak though. He’s dabbled in darker comedy (Fight Club) and even prestige, feel-good whimsy (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), but his greatest movies (Seven, Zodiac, Gone Girl) match his (presumably) dark soul.

In Fincher’s hands, Alien 3 is an excursion into nihilism on a dilapidated, claustrophobic prison planet populated by celibate fundamentalist prisoners so it at least removes the immediate threat of sexual violence where they’re concerned which is refreshing. The xenomorph, in all its forms, is kind of one big sexual allegory any way so to add that unpleasant layer would have in no doubt been a major detractor given this series is sort of built upon “subtle” sexual imagery due in no small part to the involvement of Giger.

However I must concede that Alien 3 never fully recovers from just how bleak it is. Still there is a lot to be said about its stylistic bravado and the courage it has in taking the series’ darkest turns. Killing of Ripley was a bold, fitting move and one almost wishes this had been the final chapter. She and the xenomorph go down together, their fates forever entwined and closed.

But alas, nothing ends in Hollywood as long as there is money to be made.

Alien: Resurrection

“200 years after the conclusion of Alien 3, the Company is able to resurrect Ripley through the process of cloning and the scientists successfully take the Queen Alien out of her. But, Ripley’s DNA gets mixed up with the Queen’s and she begins to develop certain alien characteristics. The scientists begin breeding the aliens, but they later escape. Soon the Xeno-morphs are running amok on the ship, which is on course to Earth. The Queen then gives birth to a deadly new breed of alien, which could spell disaster for the entire human race. It’s up to Ripley and a band of space pirates to stop the ship before it reaches Earth.” – IMDb.com

At last, we arrive at the black sheep of the family.

Alien: Resurrection is hands down one of the most insane wide-releases I think a major studio has put out in the past 3 or 4 decades. It’s just so utterly bizarre it deserves a litany of think-pieces examining just how this storm came together.

Weirdly enough, it’s also the one that seems to have gotten the least amount of studio notes.

Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet had only done two movies at this point and had yet to complete the film for which he will forever be associated: Amélie.

Suffice to say, he doesn’t automatically scream franchise material. Let alone the million dollar behemoth that the Alien franchise represented at the time and unlike Fincher, I don’t think the studio hired him to be some puppet to blindly accept notes. I think this movie really only represents Jeunet’s single stab at making a Hollywood movie, and it’s really fun to see what exactly he brought to the table having since seen him find his groove outside of the system.

Oh and did I mention the screenplay comes from nerd messiah Joss Whedon? Now this may seem like an odd fit, but if you actually watch the movie you see Whedon’s finger prints all over the damn thing with all of its quippy dialogue (at inopportune times) and playful jabs at genre conventions. There’s even a pre-Firefly wacky family dynamic with the crew of the Beatty; not to mention Whedon inherits one of the most empowered female leads in cinematic history, something he made a staple throughout his work. (That said, it makes no logical sense to have Ripley be in this outside of just finding an excuse to include Weaver and the reason provided for Ripley’s “resurrection” is quite the stretch. Then again, a stupid cloning aspect fits in perfectly with all of the other stupid shit celebrated therein.)

To be fair to Whedon, he’s gone on record more than once that he’s not a fan of the final product. He’s quoted as saying:

“It wasn’t a question of doing everything differently, although they changed the ending; it was mostly a matter of doing everything wrong. They said the lines…mostly…but they said them all wrong. And they cast it wrong. And they designed it wrong. And they scored it wrong. They did everything wrong that they could possibly do. There’s actually a fascinating lesson in filmmaking, because everything that they did reflects back to the script or looks like something from the script, and people assume that, if I hated it, then they’d changed the script…but it wasn’t so much that they’d changed the script; it’s that they just executed it in such a ghastly fashion as to render it almost unwatchable.”

All credit to Whedon and he is fully entitled to his own opinion (it is a screenplay he wrote after all), but I humbly disagree. I think this a movie exudes a confidence that a lot of others of its scale at the time lacked and in that we find the spectacle.

You can almost get the sense Jeunet wanted to go crazier but was limited by plausibility and budget…probably the studio to a degree as well. This is the rare entry that probably could have used a bit more supervision to be sure. Frustratingly enough however, its utter insanity is what most elevates the movie from a forgettable chapter to arguably the most memorable if only for what your mind is assaulted with. It carries an odd integrity, consisting more of half-formed ideas combined with the ambitions of a French madman.

The one (of many) stupid things that probably could have used a touch up was….this stupid thing.

Look at its stupid face.

And my problem is more of nitpick because this…thing is supposed to be a half xenomorph/half human hybrid….even though the xenomorph is already supposed to be a half human hybrid. That said, I give it a pass because we get to see it die in a fashion that remains unmatched in the annals of cinema.

An element worth commendation that the movie never really executes is how it finally somewhat explores  the series-long thread of weaponizing the xenomorph. There’s a truly unsettling scene early on where the military is “farming” the aliens with live, human hosts they’ve essentially kidnapped. Unfortunately really never goes too in-depth with this aspect. It’d be interesting if a future movie examined this further.

While Resurrection is probably the weakest movie of all four, it features enough strong scenes like the one I just mentioned to keep it from devolving into simple schlock. It’s a roundtable movie, demanding discussion that all fall prey to it.

So while far from perfect, the Alien franchise had submitted its place as perhaps the most diverse cinematic franchise up to that point in that each entry represented something new, something different, something exciting. No two entries were ever the same. They didn’t always land, but they were distinct. In a world where studios are more concerned with consistency and inter-connecting episodic threads rather than something so risky, these movies would be downright revolutionary. 

Then Ridley Scott came back and fucked everything up…

Perhaps it’s unfair to join the masses in beating a long dead horse, airing my complains about a movie I’ve made sure to harp on in the past so I’m going to be as concise as I can before I send you out on your way. I could dedicate more than a few thousand words regarding plot holes, but that would be screaming into the abyss at this point. Add in the fact redlettermedia took on that task much more eloquently and concisely than I ever could.

Unlike AliensPrometheus doesn’t take risks with tone. It plays things safe, something no other entry had done up to that point. I can’t really stand on a chair above it, pretending I know what would have made a better movie or even that it’s a lazy movie. The production design and effects, for what they’re worth, clearly had a lot of effort put into them. It’s nice to say basic effort at least carried over where the visuals were concerned.

It would be unfair to say the movie is without merit and had it nothing to do with the world Scott helped begin all those decades ago, I’m sure my displeasure with it would have been tempered. In fact, I may have even enjoyed it a little bit more…not by much, but at least a little. The notion of Scott returning to a genre he helped define was enough to make one giddy. However it instead came off as Scott painting-by-numbers rather than be the innovator we all know him to be.

It was Alien but with a shittier coat of paint. Sure, it looks nice and new but the old layer hadn’t remotely begun to chip yet. There’s nothing distinctly praise-worthy about Prometheus outside of its visuals, a couple of half-baked unanswered questions and Michael Fassender’s turn as the android David, a character so developed and nuanced he’s a disservice to everyone else who comes off as flat and one-dimensional.

The comparisons to its forebear would have been there with Scott’s involvement alone but instead its hitched its trailer to a franchise it initially appears to share very little connective tissue with outside of its hard R-rating. I think this can possibly be faulted to pre-release build up that really wasn’t clear whether the film was indeed a prequel rather than a science fiction in the same vein as Alien. Given we now know it is a prequel, I believe comparisons are completely fair.

I hate accusations that a lot of hardcore Alien fans dismiss this movie because it “breaks from the formula.” This is something Scott has said in promoting the newest film, adding this is what led to said film’s creation and implying he’s “giving us what we want to see.”

I’ll get into it more in a bit, but this is probably the thing that enrages me most about Prometheus as a whole. It suggests we want to be spoon-fed rather than surprised. I could be wrong given how much money movies like the Beauty and the Beast remake make every year. It suggests audiences typically only want the same thing time after time. Sure, we love familiarity but there’s room for new stuff too…he said kind of simplistically.

Well if you want the same thing, look no further than Prometheus; a movie that could best be described as if Alien thought its audience consisted of nothing but morons. Where Alien had characters that felt like actual people, Prometheus “elevates” itself with dialogue no human being (not even a scientist) would utter.

Maybe it just falls back to personal preference. Where the characters in Alien were largely concerned about things like overtime and pay checks, the Prometheus crew are concerned with intangible concepts. “Is there a God?’ “Who made us?” “Why did he/she/it make us?” “Did I leave the stove light on?” These are not inherently boring ideas. They could be pretty interesting if framed properly. But Prometheus doesn’t really go for that. It largely hinges on the mystery. But in asking so many questions, it never really feels the need to answer any of them, leading to frustration. In a way, it undermines what made the original so great in the first place, complicating things that shouldn’t be all that complicated.

And it extends to matters beyond just dialogue as well. Whenever a new threat presents itself, the crew of the Nostromo make a point to map out to a degree their next course of action and in turn this allows us a chance to know them specifically as characters. The Prometheus crew, which I must remind you we are led to believe is a group of trained scientists that represent the highest potential in their respective fields (otherwise why else would they be recruited for potentially THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT DISCOVERY OF ALL TIME), lumber around like idiots, never really taking any time to discuss any intimidate action. We’re granted plenty of questions, but literally no payoff.

Hence my lack of excitement for the impending release of Alien: Covenant, yet another entry by Scott. From the grapevine I hear word that it is a soft reboot, meaning it is a reboot in everything but name so therefore could also be considered a prequel and/or sequel. There’s connective threads to what came before, but everything else is entirely new. Think of the Force Awakens, Jurassic World or the movie I just got done bitching about Prometheus as recent examples.

I have yet to see it, but I predict my reaction may be akin to how I gradually felt about Jurassic World, another soft reboot. I’m excited at first, seeing a franchise return to its roots but cools every single time I watch afterword.

Given it’s attached to Prometheus (thereby….sigh….attaching the two franchises), I also assume it’s a prequel. If there’s anything I didn’t need it was where the xenomorph came from. Maybe I’m in the minority here, but this is a monster that was much more interesting when my mind was allowed to fill in the gaps. Given they’re creatures that we’re not really ever asked to feel sympathy for (well, most of the time), in what instance is an origin needed.

One of the great joys in Alien is our characters land on LV-426, find a downed space ship they know nothing about. All we know is some insane parasitic creature has killed everyone on said ship, thereby making the jump to humans. Who is to say what they originally looked like? That’s never been a question lingering in my mind. I always viewed as this brilliant/terrifying coincidence that humans ran into this species at all. And as kaptainkristian pointed out so truthfully in his video essay, this is a creature we understand without any explanation. Thanks to the design, we fundamentally understand all three life stages of the xenomorph without all our characters gathered around a table to exposit each stage’s purpose.

And that’s why it sucks (to me) why Scott has saw fit to apparently take this series back under his wing, favoring a unified vision rather than experimentation. I fear we’re only going to get the same variation of the same movie year after year, joining the rank-and-file series it once set itself apart from. This isn’t to say I’m not in favor of a director overseeing an entire series. Without going down the entire list we have Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, James Gunn with the Guardians of the Galaxy and Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy for some prime examples. I’m simply arguing we could use more room for franchises that mix things up by letting new directors with different visions mess around and not in the same way as the James Bond series does, a franchise so beholden to its own formula it’s a point of humor in later installments.

Imagine how much more interesting if the Pirates of Caribbean series would have been if it ditched an over-arching narrative in favor of new directions with each entry? Much like the Back to the Future films, it dedicated its second and third to go hand-in-hand, leading to two movies that just sort of bleed into another without each really making a substantial impression. Whereas I argue the latter BtF films are marginally better, Pirates kept going after its original trilogy and appears to be going for something I’d initially consider a step in the right direction. Unfortunately it kind of comes too late. On Stranger Tides was so forgettable I struggle to remember a single thing that happened in or if I saw it all, and Dead Men Tell No Tales looks to be in the same vein. What that series could have benefited from is a new director each time, maybe focusing on someone other than Jack Sparrow and ditching a traditional arc; opting instead to bring us to new locales and adventures each outing.

This all wraps into why I’m here today, making a case for a series many dismiss as formulaic when in fact it’s a franchise (that once) was something special, something that changed from movie in the way a musical artist plays around with different genres; artists like Kanye West, Childish Gambino, Lady Gaga, David Bowie, Gorillaz and Bob Dylan.

I think we’ve largely grown complacent with sequels that barely register as mildly entertaining, and for what’s worth that’s not exactly the worst thing, but it also doesn’t really get the blood-pumping in a serious way either.

When you look back at the original four Alien films, you see a new vision each time. You see risk rather than safe, lazy imitation. For all its faults, Fox inadvertently created a highly, unique franchise (something that’s clear given they kept trying to bring back Scott and Cameron throughout the years), set apart from just about anything else of its scale in the Western studio system.

Does everything work? No. Not by a long shot but in a cinescape dominated by the “safe” and “episodic” there should still be room for a series that doesn’t adhere to a code, and mixes things up even if there are mistakes. So what if every beat doesn’t always land when the jump was completely watchable?

I argue these movies are anything but formulaic. There may be beats you expect, but tonally they could not be any more different. They match the tastes of four incredibly masterful and diverse directors, each sporting an entirely different feel than the last.

I can’t sit here and tell you what I want out of an Alien movie because my “dream Alien film” is one that I wouldn’t expect or at the very least one that is set apart from its predecessors. It would be one that does what this series and its monster (used) to do best: evolve.

Like (36 Chambers) or Fresh Cream, ‘Free Fire’ is a testament to the ensemble

The “fun” thing about transitioning to a “Do almost every movie I see” model of reviewing to a “Do it when I feel like it” model is it let’s me wax poetic about movies I actually have something to say about. Now that doesn’t mean I’m going to write anything transcendent or meaningful.

I’m just free to come and go as I please. Can’t promise that’ll translate to “better” posts all in all, but you may notice I am a bit more upbeat when I put them out.

Or not.

Who really cares?

Free Fire is a movie that’s been on my radar for almost a year now. I caught the trailer at a screening of Swiss Army Man (another A24 release) but there was no release date attached at that point. I guess it would be fair to say I keep my eye out for the A24 logo on just about anything really to be honest. A lot of that goes hand-in-hand with their remarkable track record, particularly in the low key genre films the studio distributes.

It must be said that I don’t think there is a company out there continually distributing mini-genre masterpieces at the same frequency as A24. I mean let’s look at some of their picks: Under the Skin, The Rover, Ex Machina, Slow WestMississippi Grind, The Witch, Green Room, The Monster and The Blackcoat’s Daughter to name just a few. And those are just what I’d consider their genre films. Least we forget they’re also behind bringing Room and Moonlight to the masses.

So it could almost go without saying that I was hoping for another home run with Free Fire, given not only A24’s interest in it and it’s brilliantly simple “I can’t believe this hasn’t been made before” premise but also the involvement of writer/director Ben Wheatley and just about every name listed in the cast. Having Martin Scorsese on as a producer only sweetened the pot as it were.

It may even be fair to say this paralleled my excitement levels for The Last Jedi, if not even surpassing it.

So was the hype met? Does A24 have another genre classic on their hands?

Unfortunately it falls a pretty sizable distance from of something I’d consider iconic. HOWEVER it is a ton of fun and a movie I could definitely foresee becoming a cult classic within a few years, played at 1 a.m. in dorm rooms around the country, the smell of herbal substances and Cheetos hanging in the air. And this is by no means a shot at the film. In a way I think that’s what it was going for. The plot never gets all that complicated and our characters aren’t exactly the most complex. What you see is what you get, and for what it is, it works.

The plot:

“Set in Boston in 1978, a meeting in a deserted warehouse between two gangs turns into a shootout and a game of survival.” – IMDb.com

The review: 

You look at bands like Cream or the Wu-Tang Clan; groups that made of considerable talent, with each individual member being a star in their own right.

Much can be said about the cast of Free Fire. 

We have Brie Larson for starters, who at 27 already has a much-deserved Academy Award. Props to Larson for not just cashing in, but continuing to strengthen her resume with massive blockbusters while still allowing herself to get her hands dirty with smaller films like this. She’s an actress I hope stays interesting as her career continues and even though she already has an Oscar, I hope we are far away from seeing her peak.

Then you fill in the gaps with the likes of Shartlo Copley, Cillian Murphy and Armie Hammer. All three of those guys are movie stars, turning in consistently solid work regardless of the quality of the project they’re in. Copley in particular is an actor who feels as if he should be on the A-list but opts to go for weirder, more memorable genre roles.

There’s handful of up-and-comers mixed with long-standing favorite character actors too. Standing alongside our marque talent we’ve got the MVP of last year’s Sing Street, Jack Reynor as well as Babou Ceesay, Enzo Cilenti, Sam Riley and Noah Taylor.

And who could forget Michael Smiley, or as he’s known in this household…

Possibly my absolute favorite thing about Free Fire outside of the bullet-ridden lunacy is that Wheatley doesn’t subject our lower-tier names to the sidelines. They’re placed forefront and center right alongside everyone else.

I am in no way accusing any one on this film of having an ego; this isn’t a Fast & the Furious movie. That’s a movie with stars, each with a contract I assume requires a certain allotted amount of screen-time, citing who gets to punch who and which person wins which fight.

I keep emphasizing this group effort because too often we see movies with large casts but they typically serve mainly to elevate one or two within the pool. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this mind you. I just truly appreciated how this movie didn’t have a star (singular); it has stars (plural). All our guys (and girl) feel equally integral to the story and they all elevate scenes rather than steal them.

In a movie like this, there isn’t a need for lengthy character development. Our cast of miscreants aren’t exactly the most lovable crayons in the box, if you catch my meaning. Setting the film in the 1970’s was another nice touch as it makes them think outside the box in terms of getting out of the shootout, providing at least the bare minimum of tension given they don’t have cell phone access. 

It’s a very silly movie with each of our characters serving as bullet sponges before they finally go down. For what that’s worth, I think that worked fine here for the most part. Sure, that kind of alleviates some the tension, knowing that your characters can’t really die at any moment instead straddling the suspension of disbelief as they take more and more damage without immediately bleeding out. 

This serviced the black, sort of wacky tone for me however, and I don’t think Wheatley and company were seeking any form of higher truth when crafting this movie. I could be wrong, but a movie like this isn’t going to solve many problems outside of entertaining you.And it does help that they DO actually seem to take damage with each hit, something I’ve harped on in the past. 

I guess that leads me to Wheatley himself. It’s been said many times before, but there is absolutely no consistency between this man’s films and I’m not referring to the quality. He may just be the most prolific director we have working right now. On the whole, I generally think most of his output is pretty damn spectacular. No, I’m speaking to the fact that all of his movies are widely different in terms of tone, look, approach, themes, etc. If you go in blind with no information provided as to what the connection is, you may be hard-pressed to determine what exactly the link is if forced to watch his library back-to-back. For example his last film, High Rise, dealt with big, lofty science fiction ideas. Where that film felt like Wheatley striving for Kubrick, Free Fire is his best take on Tarantino. The ending, in and off itself, might as well be a director nod to Reservoir Dogs and warehouse setting. Although this movie is much more violent and much less cruel.

Representing his first straight up foray into action, Wheatley does his best to keep the camera comprehensible before the bullets start zipping every which way. However, and somewhat disappointingly, he lacks the finesse of a John Woo.  Free Fire is more akin to a sloppy game of paintball with live rounds than a carefully orchestrated bullet opera.

Still, I guess some confusion keeps in tune with carelessness of our characters, who can’t even always remember who’s shot whom or which side to which they fall. Credit again to the uniformity of the stellar cast for keeping things light and falling perfectly in line with Wheatley’s black-comedic sensibilities, particularly Copley who may just represent a made in heaven actor-to-director match up Wheatley could draw upon for his future endeavors.

I think if I were to point to any sort substantial criticism to the flick, I’d say it lacks sequences. What I mean by that is I remember a handful of quick moments and lines, but the second half of this film is what equates to an extended action sequence. There’s not really any downtime and that sequence is largely made up of the following: characters shoot at each other for a bit mixed with some quips, the recover, change places and then shoot at each other again. Rinse and repeat about 10 or 20 more times. I’ll stress that the only point this kind of becomes monotonous is during the middle chapter where the threat of a sniper (or snipers?!) brings the momentum to an almost screeching halt as our characters are actually pinned down.

Wheatley’s prolific nature also serves as a double-edged sword as the film kind of lacks a director’s unique voice, something I was kind of hoping for.

I mentioned earlier how Wheatley likes to venture into new territory with each new film, which is all fine and well but that also means he lacks a definitive style. Compare this to other directors at (what I’d consider) Wheatley’s “precipice of mainstream” level like Jeremy Saulnier. Free Fire certainly has personality but its the personality of directors that influenced Wheatley, not Wheatley taking the proverbial baton and putting his own spin on it. At leas that’s how I interpreted it because, as I’ve said, I don’t really  have handle on what Wheately’s voice is exactly.

So Free Fire may not have blown my hair back in the way I wanted it to, but I still had plenty of fun watching it so in that it was successful. It’s something I’d fit in the category of “Hey gang! It’s 2 a.m. and we’re drunk. Let’s put on a movie.” And as far as I’m concerned, the world could always use more movies like that.

All that glitters: 5 (RECENT) Egregious Oscar Acting Snubs

egregious

adjective

Definition: outstandingly bad, shocking

Ex: The fact that Nick does not know what this means is egregious.

Sorry about that folks. Context is everything I suppose. Suffice to say, I know my audience. And that is typically an audience of one. He knows who he is.

The….(looks to see what number we’re at)…89th Academy Awards are this weekend and I’m here to capitalize…I mean…shoot….um….coincide. Yeah, I just happened to think of writing this AND the Oscars just happened to fall on the same weekend in which I finally put it out.

So yeah as with any competition there are going to be varied opinions on who should win and why…this post is one of those opinions. It’s by no means more educated or valid. It’s just mine.

So…

That means it’s objectively the best one.

Why only 5, you may ask? Well I’m lazy.

You caught me.

(I almost get TOO much milage out of that clip.)

I’ve limited myself to acting because well that’s seems to be really be the only awards of the night many seem to pay credence to. I mean I’m sure I could bore you with how we often take for granted the less glamorous screenwriting and technical categories, but….shit, I already lost some of you.

Before you leave, I’m also excluding what could have been candidates for this year’s race as I can only be somewhat relevant, you know? I want this to be an exercise in healing, a means of airing long-held bitterness for awards I was never personally up for or had a say in who won what exactly.

So that means Amy Adams’ work in Arrival will not be getting a mention, no matter how deserving it may be. Also important to note, these are not the MOST egregious snubs of the past few years. Just five egregious ones. Also it’s just my opinion and what do I know? I kind of liked Green Lantern.

Performances (off the top of my head) I would have added had I had more time:

Albert Brooks, Drive (2011)

Tom Hardy, Locke (2014)

Scarlett Johansson, Under the Skin (2014)

Benicio del Toro, Sicario (2015)

Jake Gyllenhall, Nightcrawler (2014)

Hugh Jackman, Prisoners (2013)

Liam Neeson, The Grey (2011)

Géza Röhrig, Son of Saul (2015)

Andy Serkis, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

James Franco, Pineapple Express (2008)

Essie Davis, The Babadook (2014)

Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Simon Pegg, The World’s End (2013)

Mads Mikkelsen, The Hunt (2012)

Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina (2015)

Nina Hoss, Phoenix (2014)

phoenix1

Let’s get some “snobbery” out of the way first, shall we?

Phoenix is a little German movie from a few years back that certainly got recognition in some pretty prestigious circles. However it was basically passed over in every regard by the Academy; perhaps most tragically shunned was the performance of one Miss Nina Hoss.

Nelly is a woman who reflects her surroundings. A Jewish cabaret singer who (barely) survived the horrors of the Holocaust who finds herself in the rumble that was once Berlin, her shattered face mirroring the utter destruction surrounding her. She’s on the search for her husband who may or may not have betrayed her to the Nazis as to save his own skin. Suffice to say, she eventually finds the guy but he does not recognize her as her face is a dented shell of what it once was. However she does look JUST enough like her old self to fit into a scheme he has formulated to get ahold of her inheritance. Noir-ish adventures ensue with twists and turns to be had by all, all culminating in the final scene in which the truth is finally revealed.

Basically the final scene is as perfect as any ending in any movie ever made, (Hyperbole, much?) and at its center is Hoss. She leaves us with almost nothing yet everything that we need. Much like her mother country, Nelly is a little roughed up but she will shoulder on. The subtle yet triumphant rebirth harkens back to the legendary bird from whom the movie receives its title.  This isn’t to say Hoss’ output in the rest of the film isn’t up to par. If it weren’t, this scene would not be one iota of as strong as it is.

Suffice to say, I think Hoss gives one of the best performances of the past few years here and the fact she didn’t even get a nomination (in a year that was kind of lacking looking back) is a shame.

What would have been her Oscar clip (SPOILERS):

Sharlto Copley, District 9 (2009) 

district_9_01

Another thing I harp on is the gross under-representation of genre films each and every year in the acting categories. I’m not exactly sure where the hesitancy stems from either. Take District 9 for example. It got a Best Picture nod, and a handful of nods for elements such as visual effects. Deservedly so, I might add. However Copley got no Best Actor attention. I don’t even remember him being in the conversation.

It’s a real talent to all at once take an unlikeable character and make us emphasize with him or her as well as sell body horror without coming off as hokey. Copley seems to do it effortlessly with his turn as Wikus van de Merwe.

It’s kind of standard to have the arc of an unlikeable guy, make him see the light and ultimately join the side of the angels. van de Merwe doesn’t exactly fit that mold to a tee however. Copley ensures he remains the still, basically selfish, unwilling participant he was throughout but we get more shades of him along the way. He is capable of empthy for these, as he puts it, “fookin’ creatures.”

I love that. Also his ability to sell the whole “I’m becoming a bug man!” thing flawlessly and empathetically don’t hurt neither.

What would have been his Oscar clip:

Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

charlize-theron-mad-max-more-furiosa

Let’s keep this “South African actors/actresses snubbery” train going by doing away with the pretense that anything I’m saying is at all snobby particularly in comparison to the body of voters we’re talking about.

Mad Max: Fury Road was one of those rare instances of a big budget action movie’s quality being so apparent and loud, I can only assume the Academy was begrudgingly forced into including it in the Best Picture race.

There was one category it was woefully overlooked for. You guessed it. Acting. I know that was pretty tough but we got there in the end.

Now both Tom Hardy and Theron would have been strong candidates for their respective roles in the film, but Hardy got his due that year with a nomination for The Revenant.  And to be fully fair, Theron received her’s back in 2003 with Monster. That was a well-deserved win. So it’s certainly not as sad as it would have been otherwise, but Furiosa is the first truly iconic role Theron has ever gotten to sink her teeth into.

What would have been her Oscar clip:

Lee Byung-hun, I Saw the Devil (2010)

fullsizephoto126227

Oh no! More foreign cinema!

One could argue that Choi Min-sik had the flashier role of the two leads in Kim Jee-woon’s 2010 slasher. After all, he is the titular devil and the man is deserving of at least a little Oscar attention for his snub of basically the performance upon which he will be most remembered in Oldboy. Of the two however, in this particular film, I favor Lee.

It should really come as no surprise that this film was overlooked. It’s pretty exploitative at parts and not in like a fun, Grindhouse way. More like a borderline torture-porn way. And for a lot of the runtime, Lee plays Agent Kim as steely as one would expect from a man seeking revenge. It’s the film’s final act however where consequences begin to take shape in a way that I did not expect.

It’s the final, haunting shot I think should have at least brought Lee into the conversation. Gone is the badass we thought we knew, replaced by the weeping shell of a man whose life has been utterly decimated by quest for revenge. It’s appropriately harrowing and I think it’s a performance that all at once grounds and elevates a movie that could have been exploitive trash if handled by less skilled hands. Luckily I Saw the Devil features some of the best talent South Korea has to offer, Lee being one of them. Now if only Hollywood would follow suit and start putting him in more interesting roles!

What would have been his Oscar clip:

Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips (2013)

captain-phillips-tom-hanks-4.jpg

File this one under the “No duh” category, if you please.

Much like our previous contender, Hanks’ snub is basically equates to the utter power of the performance he gives in the film’s final scene. Like Lee, Hanks doesn’t give you a hero triumphant. He presents our main character made broken, the trauma of the film’s event’s enveloping him in a tidal wave of grief and emotion as the the film cuts to black. We aren’t provided the comfort of knowing everything is going to be fine.

What would have been his Oscar clip (obviously):

Scarlet Johansson, Her (2013)

HER

This is one I’ve been on the fence for for quite a while, and have been in at least two or three debates on the topic believe it or not. Hard to believe I was able to fit it between my hectic schedule of staring at nothing and slipping slowly into narcissistic madness.

The funny thing is though, I was initially AGAINST the idea of the inclusion of a voice over performance. That should be it’s entirely separate category. But if her nomination brought more attention to voice over acting as whole? Well, I can get 100% behind that wholesale.

It’s important to note that Johansson was not even the first person cast in the role. Samantha Morton had recorded all her dialogue (and was even on set for all of the scenes between Theo and Samantha) before director Spike Jonze opted to recast her. Jonze said, “It was only in post production, when we started editing, that we realized that what the character/movie needed was different from what Samantha and I had created together. So we recast and since then Scarlett has taken over that role.”

That speaks to both the power of casting (another role that should get some form of Academy recognition) as well as Johansson’s ability to effortlessly slip into the role.

There’s this annoying notion that voice over acting is “easier” than traditional acting as one simply goes to a booth to record. They can wear pajamas to work, you guys.

The thing some don’t seem to acknowledge is how alienating the process can be. I mean typically it’s just you can the voice director and various behind the scenes folks in a booth with a few hour sessions for a week or so. You don’t typically even meet the other actors until after the process is over. (Johansson’s case takes this a step further as she wasn’t brought in until the main production had already finished.) This leads to many actors simply phoning in their roles for an easy paycheck. It’s really easy to spot lazy voice work. (Looking at you, Chris Rock.)

Johansson’s output here is anything but lazy.

What would have been her Oscar clip:

‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ is a more than worthy, albeit kind of bloated, follow-up to its predecessor

It’s been a year since Deadpool came out.

….

….

That doesn’t tie into the review proper at all.

More like a statement on the general passage of time, and how something something you don’t look around you might miss something something.

…..

…..

ANYWAY.

I’m still feel as if I’m reeling from the concussive wave of shock that assaulted my body with overwhelming quality in the form of John Wick back in 2014.

Show me someone they went into that first movie “knowing” it would be a new action classic and I’ll show you a liar. On the surface, that movie had a lot going against it. Mid-September release date, Keanu Reeves as the lead and a somewhat stupid on paper premise did not bode well. But low-and-behold, we have arrived at a sequel and it is one of the most anticipated releases of the year.

I didn’t do a full-review for the first film, but I think a lot of its strength is that initial shock I just mentioned. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great movie and I daresay about as perfect an action movie you’re likely to find in this day and age. But no one knew it would be AS good let alone outstanding.

And I loved, loved, LOVED being proved wrong because that next to never happens with movies any more. Surprise is a cinematic currency of increasing value in the Age of the Franchise and John Wick just might represent a renewed hope for new, fresh Western action cinema. The fact that it’s joining the big leagues with a sequel is all-at-once exciting and worrying. You can only make one first impression after all and diminishing returns are something each series faces at one point or another.

Keanu doesn’t age!

The joke?

Remember the joke that Keanu Reeves  doesn’t…um…age?

You’ve heard that one right?

Like you’ve seen the pictures?

keanu-reeves-is-he-immortal

See?

I’m doing the bit.

From the beginning….about the…the passage of…um…time.

It’s like a gag.

Fuck it, start the review!

john-wick-chapter-2-poster

The plot:

“After returning to the criminal underworld to repay a debt, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) discovers that a large bounty has been put on his life.” -IMDb.com

The review:

I’d be quick to compare John Wick: Chapter 2 to The Raid 2. It’s quasi-startling at how many pros and con (singular) the two share. Both are sequels to surprise action films released relatively close to their predecessors. Both are longer than their predecessors due to more world-building. Both up the ante by noticeable margins both in scope and action. Both are ultimately really, really, REALLY great but ultimately come just a hair short to their respective predecessors due in part to said world-building.

Where John Wick kept things relatively simple with its “gang kills man’s dog, man goes on rampage” premise with bigger assassin-centric universe playing a more supportive role, Chapter 2 covers a substantial amount of ground in its somewhat bloated runtime by bringing its world-building to the forefront.

If the worst thing I can say about a movie is, “It was just a bit too long,” you’ve got yourself a pretty, damn good movie. You’re ridin’ high, fine as wine, havin’ yerself a Big N’ Rich time.

Wait, what?

Sorry, I’m just getting distracted all over the place here.

Like I said, my only real “issue” with the film comes right down to preference in pacing. Whereas the earlier film built momentum through domino effect, its sequel prefers to stack its cards all at the top and letting them fall to pieces by the second act for the 40 or 50 minute equivalent to cinematic jenga. Nothing wrong with that at all. I just felt winded by the time John reaches the kingdom of panhandlers, led by Laurence Fishburne (Matrix reunion!!!!!!!), and could have either used a more substantial break rather than MORE information to access right before getting back to business. It was too much of a good thing for me in some respects.

It’s almost frustrating in a way. The film does just about everything I could ask for in a sequel. World-building, interesting new characters, etc. It’s a buffet of riches, and yet I still feel it could have been scaled back to some degree. I don’t know. Simply put: the film was just a bit too long for me personally.

That was the negative, so lets focus on the positives (PLURAL) because there are a ton.

Once again, the action (the main attraction) is utterly sublime and entertainingly surreal.

Gunman take suppressed shots at one another unnoticed in a crowded subway station.

Blood splatters the blank walls of an art gallery like Pollock painting.

We also finally get to see what kind of damage John can really do with a pencil.

I was a little worried that since only one of the two directors from the first film (Chad Stahelski to be specific) would be returning for the second outing. Like maybe the other guy (David Leitch) saw something wrong with this film and jumped ship. The two former stuntman only have Wick as their directing credits so it’s not like the Cohen Brothers splitting up but I feel its fair to say there could be concern that the magic might have been lost without the full band getting back together. Consider any worries I (or maybe you) had dead and buried. Stahelski is as apt at every in presenting action in way that is at once exciting and comprehensible. Believe it or not, you can in fact have your cake and eat it too in this instance.

Characters take damage here, and every bit is just so wonderfully kinetic that you find yourself wagging your finger at other filmmakers that seem to think we like spazz attacks rather than steady, competent camera work. The filmmakers want you to gawk at the stunt-work and revel in the back-breaking work they put into their set pieces. Wick fights a gun-totting Harry Potter, his various firearms proving far more effective than any wand or staff. (I’d say let there be a drinking game in which shots are downed with every headshot Wick fires off, but those are supposed to be fun; not death sentences.)

Reeves cements Wick as an anti-hero for the ages. Much has been said about Reeves acting abilities, or arguably lack-there-of, but I argue, and have argued for years, he’s fucking phenomenal in the right roles. I guess you could really say the same for any actor or actress, but Reeves is an absolute testament to this simple fact: CASTING MATTERS.

He bounces off so well against a much livelier cast of characters because this is a man who’s, at his core, dead inside. This second film really represents more of a descent for John whereas the first film really was just about revenge. He’s forced back into the game as it were by Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio), a member of the Neapolitan Camorra, an old frenemy who will not accept “No,” as an answer. Soon, John is off to perform yet another seemingly impossible task and wouldn’t you know it? There’s a double cross and old John Wick finds the candle burning on both ends….on both ends…..the candle is burning on….John Wick? Candle. Guys?

The movie can’t really sustain the emotional heft of “man’s dog is killed, said dog was also last connection to dead wife” so it makes the wise decision to pretty much forgo that all together. Instead it just doubles down on everything else that made the first one work so well, namely that aforementioned action and fantastical assassin-filled world-building.

And instead of devolving into some sort of gritty, brooding slodgefest revenge films seem to be defined by, this weirdo franchise opts to shed blood in the light and fully embrace the wackiness of LITERALLY anyone being an assassin.

Speaking of blood, let’s talk about the new blood. I’d say this is probably something this film aces over the last. Sure, there are less women (only one speaks substantially as I recall and the other is a mute) but I’m not sure this movie is setting out to say some sort of larger statement on feminism. In fact, I don’t really think there are many topical sentiments to be had at all here….other than assassins seems to be everywhere.

Fuck, we’re getting a little too social conscious here.

Back on course.

I really felt a better sense of presence from the supporting cast this time around. I don’t want to go beat-for-beat with each one, but we can break down one. Um….Common!

ne68ogvzowkda8_2_b

Now Cassian is not  THAT developed per say but neither is our title character. The film does a lot with a little in this regard. There’s clearly a history between he and John and you get that with like next to no dialogue on the subject. I love how these movies go about characterization. There’s not an ocean of depth to them, but there really doesn’t need to be. Unlike…oh let’s say Rogue One…the movie isn’t all that dependent on a super strong cast of characters. They really just need to be memorable TO AN EXTENT. And the film and its cast achieves that largely. Ruby Rose’s silent Ares may even be a shining star in this regard as I remember a hell of a lot more about her than I do about…give me one second I’ve got to look it up….Jyn Erso. Ares says LITERALLY nothing, communicating via sign language, but it’s yet another “mountains out of molehills” situation.

Now hopefully we can file “Tyler overly cares about digestible yet interesting characterization” away for the foreseeable future. We’ll put it next to “Did you know mainstream horror largely sucks” or “Action heroes need to get beat up more.”

I also loved where this film leaves Wick. No spoilers but needless to say: he’s not probably not going to be having a great time if and when we catch up with him in Chapter 3.

So…there you have it.

John Wick 2 is great. I’d even go so far as to say it’s amazing. Sure, it could use some trimming around the edges but how I can really chalk that up to anything more than personal preference. I’m old and I have a hard time with most movies over an hour and a half.

It’s like the first film is a hearty appetizer. Yeah, you’re hungry for more but once you get halfway through the main course you’re ready to explode. However, if you’re a fan of the first outing, you’re going to love this one. Not a doubt in my mind on that.

Ken, PATRICK and Tyler’s 2016 Schlockmas Spectacular Episode III: Boyz Evolution

HO

HO

HO

We’re three years in, people.

How exciting is that?

Relatively?

Kind of?

Fine.

Anyway, yes we are at three-full years of watching a bad movie weekly and it’s been a hoot to say this least…well, on good days anyway.

For those not in the know, my friends Ken…

Last confirmed sighting since 1994.

Last confirmed sighting, circa 1994.

…Patrick…

File photo.

File photo.

…myself…

fnf

… and any number of guests convene to “willingly” witness some sort of cinematic catastrophe. We’ve done two write-ups in the past which you can find here and here.

Why, you may find yourself asking.

Well…

Hm…

I think…

No…

Maybe it’s….fun?

Yeah, let’s go with that.

Now before we can get into the meat and portos (see Greasy Strangler), we must honor all of the classics we gave our (debatably) valuable time. What you are about to peruse are the 80 -count ’em 80 – movies we watched throughout the year. My contribution is attaching the trailer for each film which you can watch by simply clicking on the title. Pretty simple, right?

What follows is much more valuable. My associates have also rated each and every one of these films with care. There opinions align in some cases and differ in others, but they generally give you a consensus of whether the film in question is actually worth your time for your own viewing pleasure.

While Ken’s rating system is pretty standard, Patrick’s system is potato-based meaning it is a tad bit more complex. Once you go through a few though, you’ll get a pretty good grip on how it works.

Ken’s System:
A++ Must watch / Own

A+ Really good. Pretty much anyone would enjoy a viewing

B+ Not Bad. Not good, probably had a few great moments, but overall nothing stand out.

C Pretty forgettable. Maybe a good moment or two showed up, but generally not worth your time.

D Bad

F– I hated this. I hated this so much.

Patrick’s system will be explained by the man himself.

I’ll join in later on when we get to the “best” of the “best” for the year.

So…let’s do this.

THE SHADY 80

1. Picasso Trigger

Ken: B+

Just stick with the original great, Hard Ticket to Hawaii

Patrick: BABES! BOOMERANG BOMB! and passionate love making. The usual Andy Sidaris film which is always a fun and enjoyable action packed movie. This movie gets a nice tater tot rating on the potato scale.

2. Milk Money

Ken: C

One of the most uncomfortably strange movies we watched this year. It didn’t even have a musical number.

Patrick: This is one creepy Ed Harris movie. A group of horny kids around the age of twelve pay a prostitute to show them her goodies.. to which she does! Unfortunately, the prostitute falls in love with one of the boy’s dad. The movie has a happy ending, but not as bad as I expected this movie to be. This movie gets an average rating of a baked potato with no toppings.

3. The Happening

Patrick: BORING. There is nothing scarier than being killed off by plants. The planet decides to kill off all humans by releasing a cryptic neurotoxin that causes the victim to commit suicide. A man does jump in front of his own riding lawn mower, which was rather pleasing to see. On the potato scale, this movie gets a stale rating of unsalted french fries. It’s ok, but you are left wishing you chose differently.

4. Fifty Shades of Grey

Ken: C

Patrick: Holla! It’s time for that sexy wet movie. Honestly, the movie sucked. It was not as hot and wild as I had wished for. Also, fake pubes. On the potato scale, this movie receives a potato salad rating. I don’t like potato salad at all, but a lot of other people do.

5. The Core

Ken: B+

If only for the rage that it instilled in Patrick.

Patrick: No! No! No!. No thank you to the core.. This movie was not fun to watch and made my brain hurt so much. I could say a lot about this movie, but I choose not to instead. Stay away. On the potato scale, this movie receives a nasty, dirty, soil covered raw potato.

6. The Wizard

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Ken: B+

Power glove!

Patrick: Unfortunately this movie is not as the title suggests. The Wizard is not at all about an amazing magical man, but instead about some kid using his weird brother to win it big. The big brother uses his weirdo little brother to win a Nintendo tournament and such. Meh. On the potato scale, this movie receives a baked potato that isn’t cooked all the way. I wanted to enjoy it, but couldn’t because of the losers that made the film.

7. Dangerous Men

Ken: B+

Patrick: Hooray! Back to enjoyable bad movies! A husband and wife are on the beach when some bikers kill the husband. The wife pretends to fall in love with the only biker left and they journey to a hotel from some wet action. The naked, now widowed wife, walks out of the bathroom naked to make love to the biker.. all of a sudden, she pulls a knife out of her butt cheeks and kills the biker! Movie gold! Go see this movie, it was great! On the potato scale, this movie receives a great rating of McDonalds’ French Fries. So tasty!

8. Pocket Ninjas

Ken: D

Long and boring.

Patrick: Weird chin Robert Z’Dar is in this movie. This movie contained terrible kid fighting karate scenes and terrible training montages. On the potato scale, this movie receives a boring rating of a baked potato with just one dollop of sour cream. It was ok, but I wanted it to be more.

9. Exterminator 2

Ken: C

Never delivered on the initial awesomeness of the violence in the opening scene.

10. Event Horizon

Ken: C

Too long.

Patrick: Scary space movie. Basically you’re average space adventure. It’s all good and then everything begins to go wrong. On the potato scale, this movie receives a boiled potato. There is not much to it and it’s not very fun to consume.

11. Obsessed

Ken: A+

Beyonce fights the crazy monster lady at the end!

Patrick: Woo! One of our first crazy obsessed lover movies! The Office character, Charles Minor (Idris Elba), is married to Beyonce.. Some crazy girl tries to get wet with Charles Minor and eventually Beyonce kills the crazy stalker/lover. On the potato scale, this movie receives a half loaded baked potato. I was satisfied with what I got, but wouldn’t hurt my feelings if given more.

12. The Greasy Strangler (NSFW)

Ken: A+

Strangely a good movie. Everyone ended up legitimately enjoying it. Its literally insane and one of the most bonkers plots. But it was somehow entertaining.

Patrick: Dun! Dun! Dun! DUNNNNNNNN! GLORIOUS! The best movie of the freaking year and is at the TOP of the bad movie list for me. This movie is extremely funny and very greasy. Not only is the movie funny, but it has one of the best soundtracks to have been made! I don’t want to give too much away, but go see this movie. Stay greasy. On the potato scale, this movie receives a fully loaded baked potato with gold flakes!

13. Species

Ken: C

Patrick: A monster lady wants to lay eggs and reproduce, but she is being hunted down by a group of people at the same time. The movie was alright and was your basic bad movie. On the potato scale, this movie receives a baked potato with your choice of one topping.

14. Body of Evidence

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Ken: B+

Because why wouldn’t you cast William Defoe as your lead in your romantic thriller. Pretty entertaining from a “wow this is bizarre” way.

Patrick: William deFOE or deFRIEND and Madonna make some supper hot candle wax sex scenes. Madonna is being charged with murder and hires Defoe as her lawyer. A lot of sex takes place and Defoe’s wife finds out and at the same time Madonna is found not guilty. She admits to Defoe that she is guilty and Madonna eventually is murdered. On the potato scale, this movie receives a sexy potato, because this movie was super sexy.

15. Deadly Friend

Ken: A+

The robot acting was pretty funny and the last 20 minutes end up being EXTREMELY ENTERTAINING.

Patrick: A fun movie with a young guy that builds a robot while in school. The young guy, Paul is friends with this neighbor girl Samantha. They pull a prank on their evil grump neighbor lady and the old lady shoots Paul’s robot. Samantha eventually gets pushed down the stairs by her abusive father and is declared brain dead. Paul makes Samantha into his robot and they have all sorts of fun. Samantha throws a basketball at the grumpy neighbors head, causing it to explode! One of my favorite death scenes from this list of bad movies this year. On the potato scale, this movie receives a Burger King french fries. Not as good as McDonalds, but still a great choice!.

16. Underworld

Ken: B+

Too much lore.

Patrick: Yucky! I only saw the last thirty minutes of this movie and that was more than enough. Not fun at all. On the potato scale, this movie receives a nasty raw potato with those sprouts growing.

17. Underworld: Evolution

Ken: C

Wait, more Lore that compounds on the others? I thought the one guy was special, but now that guy can do it too?

18. Underworld: Rise of the Lycans

Ken: B+

Wait this was a little more entertaining, but we went back in time? I’m getting more confused, but it kept me entertained at least.

19. Underworld: Awakening

Ken: C

MORE LORE… Wait who is the good guy?

20. Chopping Mall

Ken: C

Surprisingly a C. There was no actual chopping. A few of the murders were cool and I was really excited when they revealed they [the robots] had lasers, but it was a little long.

Patrick: An alright bad movie, with mall security robots that go ba-ba-bad! The security robots turn on the humans left in the mall after closing time. This movie had fun death scenes, but very unintimidating robots. On the potato scale, this movie receives a tater tot with old cheese. Seems good, and may taste ok, but it should be better.

21. Soul Man

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Ken: D

This movie is literally insane.

Patrick: A movie with a rich white college student doing black face! You sort of new it was coming, but kept hoping it wouldn’t happen. The positive thing this movie had going was James Earl Jones as a professor. I could only picture Darth Vader every time he spoke. On the potato scale, this movie receives an uncomfortable moldy potato.

22. Dreamcatcher

Ken: D

Too long and too boring.

23. Ghost Ship

Ken: B+

Too realistic. The whole time!

Patrick: Nick Witte’s favorite movie, as he has a ghost ship movie poster! This movie is a pretty bad movie, besides the awesome opening death scene! Just about everyone on the cruise ship gets beheaded by a wire! Woo! Also, Tyler insists the evil character wasn’t a ghost, but he is! On the potato scale, this movie receives a mashed instant mashed potato. Taste like crap.

24. Supernova [EDITOR’S NOTE: THIS SPORTS A LEGENDARILY BAD TRAILER. WOULD RECOMMEND.]

Ken: F–

I didn’t realize napping was an option.

Patrick: Terrible movie. It was a hour and a half too long. Baked potato laced with Benadryl to put me asleep.

25. The Black Ninja

Ken: C

I did like how he was credited as himself. Also he was a ninja and a lawyer!

Patrick: A lawyer who doubles as a black ninja! This movie was a fun bad movie and I enjoyed watching it for the most part. On the potato scale, this movie receives a mashed potato with white gravy. Not the best bad movie, but it was still enjoyable.

26. The Roommate

Ken: C

Not quite insane enough. It had its moments. But the SNL short is better.

Patrick: Lame.The worst stalker bad movie we watched this year. Basically two college roommates, but one turns out to be a crazy lady. If you want to watch a stalker movie, don’t see this one. There are much better stalking movies on the list of bad movies we watched this year. On the potato scale, this movie receives a baked potato with no toppings. Bland and not fun to consume.

27. XXX

Ken: C
Surprisingly not that memorable for me. I know Vin Disel was in it. That’s about all I got.

28. XXX: State of the Union

Ken: B+

While a weird version of the first one, somehow Ice Cube made it more entertaining?

Patrick: Basically the same as the first XXX movie. Action! Action! Action! Not much to say about this film. ICE CUBE WAS HIDING IN A REFRIGERATOR!!!!! On the potato scale, this movie receives a hash brown with ketchup. Not my favorite thing in the world, but I had no problem with it.

29. Dragonball: Evolution

Ken: D

I only know the lore from the “Abridged Series” and even I was getting angry.

Patrick: As a Dragonball Boy, this movie made me cry. It made me cry so many sad tears. This was not a fun movie to watch and I advise you to STAY AWAY. I didn’t expect this movie to do one of my favorites any justice and it lived up to that expectation. On the potato scale, this movie receives a manure covered potato.

30. Hello Mary Lou:Prom Night II

Ken: C

Too many breaks in between the murdering. The murdering was good, but too much dead air.

31. Ernest Goes To Jail

Ken: B+

Surprisingly entertaining? It was really dumb, but it set out to be. Also we got one of the best “HDTGM” moments out of this one. Also we got to see one of our insane skits basically acted out on TV.

Patrick: Did you know a man can absorb a large amount of electricity and not die? That is what happens to Ernest in this lame movie. It wasn’t the worst movie w watched all year, but it wasn’t the best by far. On the potato scale, this movie receives a mashed potato with no gravy.

32. Transcendence

Ken: F–

SO BORING.

Patrick: I had hopes that this movie would turn out alright, but boy was I wrong. This Johnny Depp thriller (not really) slowed down time and became one of the longest feeling movies I have ever watched. Put this movie on before bedtime and it will help you sleep. On the potato scale, this movie receives a potato that you look at, but can’t eat.

33. Warriors of Virtue

Ken: B+

Won back over by the evil villain once again!

Patrick: I was honestly hoping that this movie was going to be a cool movie about a kid and a Chinese chef, but the movie decides to take a different turn. The kid goes into a weird fantasy world with very strange kangaroo people. This movie was weird and I don’t know how I feel about it. On the potato scale, this movie receives a potato casserole. Strange stuff.

34. Bloodsport

Ken: A+

Pretty entertaining. Violence was great. Dialog was insane. Multiple hilarious moments.

Patrick: Fun karate movie! Jean-Claude Van Damme takes home the tournament and becomes a karate boy. I’ve always wanted to be a karate boy myself. Good action movie with a lot of fun fighting. I was hoping the evil Chong Li would have taken home the karate gold. On the potato scale, this movie receives a baked potato wrapped in bacon. Mmm Mmm good.

35. Exit Wounds

Ken: D

I couldn’t remember which one this was. I knew it was bad though.

Patrick: Steven Seagal movie. Bang bang. Action Action. On the potato scale, this movie receives a half loaded baked potato.

36. Burlesque

Ken: C

There were some funny moments, especially towards the end and their finances. Who knew how big of deal air rights were!

Patrick: More like Burle-boring. A very long and drawn out movie that I would have rather not seen. Somehow someway air rights? Are brought in to play. On the potato scale, this movie receives a raw potato.

37. Revenge of the Ninja

Ken: A++

This is a grade-A “Bad Movie Night Movie,” a continuation of our first Ninja Movie. The fights were hilarious. The acting was amazing. I had a great time with this one.

Patrick: WOO! Ninjas! ART GALLERY WITH COCAIN DOLLS! This movie is packed with plenty of action and plenty of death! This up towards the top of the bad movie list for me. On the potato scale, this movie receives a salty salty McDonalds french fries.

38. Dune

Ken: F–

This one is probably not that bad for other people. But I hated this one. How did they manage to tell me 16 million times that Akarris was the Desert Planet, but they forgot entire plot points like how important the knife fight at the end was going to be.

Patrick: Ken’s favorite movie of the year! This movie may be ok at best if you haven’t read the book. If you have read the book, then…I’m sorry. Stay far away as possible. This movie was pretty bad for me, especially after enjoying the book myself. Thanks whoever directed this movie. On the potato scale, this movie receives a stupid three week old potato salad.

39. Bratz

Ken: B+

Surprisingly entertaining. This was a really long movie [almost 2 hours], but it actually didn’t feel that bad. Sometimes whenever a movie embraces its insanity it works out well.

Patrick: I still to this day do not know if this movie was actually made after the Bratz dollz? Basic teenage girl drama. One of the Bratz girls makes fun of a blind guy that plays piano (He may have been deaf or blind, who knows, who cares). This movie was actually better than I thought it would be. On the potato scale, this movie receives a baked potato with a side of salt.

40. Fateful Findings

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Ken: D

Neil Breen strikes again. And this one was just kinda boring and didn’t even have the insane plot like the others to rest on.

Patrick: I’m not sure what to say here. The second Neil Breen movie that we saw last year and luckily this movie didn’t make any of us sick as did Double Down. It was strange. On the potato scale, this movie receives a plastic potato.

41. Cradle 2 the Grave

Ken: C

Better than the other one for some reason? These movies didn’t make a huge impact.

42. Warcraft [EDITOR’S NOTE: For my full review, click here.] 

Ken: B+

Entertaining, but not a good movie.

43. Hackers

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Ken: A+

There is a reason why this crazy movie is so often recommended on many bad movie lists. It’s great to see whenever someone tries to figure out what the future is going to be like and then misses the mark so badly.

Patrick: Pretty much a movie based on Ken’s work life. 1000100 Pretty terrible movie and I was hoping it was going to be much better than it actually was. On the potato scale, this movie receives an elementary school grade tater tot.

44. When the Bough Breaks

Ken: A+

Entertaining throughout. Crazy lady was nice and crazy. The plot was bonkers. It was pretty entertaining.

Patrick: Woo! Another crazy lover/stalker movie! This was my favorite crazy lover/stalker movie of the year. The evil stalked lady was definitely crazy and made a lot of crazy stalker faces that I enjoyed. The ending fight scene was pretty spectacular as well. On the potato scale, this movie receives a ¾ loaded baked potato.

45. I Am Here…Now

Ken: C

This one has the insane madness you want from a Neil Breen movie. He was like a robot jesus? It also has the insane madness you want from a Neil Breen movie, in that you don’t want any of it.

Patrick: The strangest Neil Breen movie that we saw this year.. I can’t really tell you what the plot of the movie was, besides humans are bad for the earth? I think? I rate this as the second best Neil Breen Movie, with Double Down being his best product. On the potato scale, this movie receives a Mr. Potato Head.

46. The Thing With Two Heads

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Patrick: This movie was pretty fun to watch and was overall enjoyable. An old rich racist white man is dying and pays to have his head sewn onto a convict in jail. Unfortunately for him, his head is sewn on a black guy’s. They ultimately don’t get along and get into a crazy chase by the cops. Ultimately, the plot wraps itself up in literally the last thirty seconds of the movie.. Overall a fun movie to watch. On the potato scale, this movie receives a potato chip rating. Crispy!

47. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot

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Ken: B+

Shot like a horror movie. Really creepy throughout. It was a bizarre experience, but pretty funny.

Patrick: This was a strange Sylvester Stallone movie. Stallone is a cop and his old mother comes to stay with him for a while. His mother shows nude baby photos to Stallone’s coworkers and talks about his little boy parts. Weird movie, but oddly not the worst. On the potato scale, this movie receives a baked lays potato chip.

48. Death Wish 3

Ken: B+

Infestation of the creeps!

Patrick: CREEP! Fun fun movie! Old man goes to war with a street gang and when I say war, I mean WAR. The old man brings about as much weaponry as you’d see in a Rambo movie. I would put this movie near the top of the list. On the potato scale, this movie receives a ¾ loaded baked potato.

49. Independence Day: Resurgence

Ken: C

I wanted to like this a lot, but it lost a lot of the magic of the first one. I had fun with it. But it didn’t *quite* get the speech right.

Patrick: MEH. Not much to say. Not very good. I actually can’t remember the plot. On the potato scale, this movie receives a meh-potato.

50. Cry_Wolf

Ken: C

It had a few good moments. Again though, a little too realistic for my taste. I must admit the “reveal” occurring in the police station was really entertaining.

Patrick: Another one of Nick Witte’s favorite movies. Pretty much a rich kid school where murder happens among friends blah blah. On the potato scale, this movie receives a Nick Witte-shaped potato.

51. Streets of Fire

Ken: C

All I remember is it had a ring of fire and I hated the improve at the end.  [EDITOR’S NOTE: Ken is relating the Jet Li/DMX vehicle, Cradle 2 the Grave.]

Patrick: Not as interesting at the title leads on. Sexy and gritty. Kidnapping and a motorcycle gang. On the potato scale, this movie receives a potato salad. BORING.

52. Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance

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Ken: A+

Again not nearly as good as the original. But it was insane. And it learns at least an A with Wiseau’s scene alone.

Patrick: If you think you need to see Samurai Cop 1 before seeing Samurai Cop 2, you’re wrong! It comes on hot and heavy nears the top of the list of bad movies. It’s time to solve a bunch of assignation mysteries! The movie involves fun action sequences and a pretty bad wig. Good movie! On the potato scale, this movie receives a Curly Fries!

53. Lion and the King

Ken: C

Bad. Very Bad. But the funny voices all done by what seemed like one person was pretty entertaining. Should not exist.

Patrick: Lion King rip off. Weird animation. Avoid. On the potato scale, this movie receives a raw potato.

54. Suburban Commando

Ken: B+

Hulk Hogan is bonkers!

Patrick: An alien that looks like a human lands on earth! Hulk Hogan is that alien! Hogan makes friends and then has to save the earth from the aliens chasing him! Fun movie and no way it was going to be bad with Hulk Hogan being an alien fighting other aliens! On the potato scale, this movie receives a Waffle fries! Strange, but satisfying.

55. Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf

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Ken: A+

Sometimes a movie has no idea whats it’s doing, but it goes full-force anyways. These guys got vampires and werewolves mixed up, but man was it entertaining.

Patrick: Count Dooku attempts to a cult of werewolves in Transylvania. I enjoyed this film and it was pretty fun to watch. Especially the sexy werewolf queen. Mmmhmm. I think I remember seeing a werewolf orgy at some point. The film is pretty absurd, but enjoyable. On the potato scale, this movie receives a chili cheese french fry.

56. The Boy Next Door

Ken: A+

This was an interesting twist on the genre to say the least. It was pretty hilarious seeing how the handled the situation.

57. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Ken: D

Long and weird and they apparently didn’t even stick to the stuff right.

Patrick: Lame. This movie was lame, especially the giant ship shaped as a sword. On the potato scale, this movie receives a manure covered potato.

[I would like the record to reflect that this movie is terrible and I hate anyone that may like it. As the graphic novel upon which it is based is one of my all-time favorites, I thought it only fair we watch it as I made Ken sit through Dune, one of his favorites.] 

58. Night of the Lepus

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Ken: F–

Gross and dumb and long. Its another “how did you not see how un-scary and bad this was right away?” situation.

Patrick: RABBITS THE SIZE OF CARS! Terrible CGI or whatever, but pretty funny to see killer Lepus (rabbits). On the potato scale, this movie receives a tasty mashed potato with brown gravy.

59. Five Across the Eyes

Ken: F–

If Bear was even less exciting…

Patrick: This may have been the worst movie on the list for this year. The movie was shot with a terrible video camera. No lighting and no microphones. Terrible acting. Similar to a movie written as a high school film project. Avoid this film at all cost. On the potato scale, this movie receives a not worthy of a potato rating.

60. Inferno

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Ken: C

It had some insane moments. I liked the drone. I liked when he had amnesia attacks. I liked how it didn’t feel like it had to answer all of the questions it posed.

Patrick: Another one of Tom Hanks’ DaVinci mystery-esque movies. The movie was pretty bad, besides the point when Hanks’ is being chased by a drone! Scary stuff. Overall, the movie had a lame plot and was pretty confusing. On the potato scale, this movie receives a tater tot that has been smashed with a hammer.

61. Jem and the Holograms

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Ken: D

Too long.

62. Stephen King’s It

Ken: B+

Really, really, really, really, really, friggin’ long. And the acting was annoying a lot. And weird. But not terrible somehow? Still way too long.  

Patrick: If only this movie was made with an R-rating. For a horror movie, it was not scary at all. No blood or gory deaths. The clown seemed to be more of a joke then anything. The movie was VERY long and felt like forever. On the potato scale, this movie receives a baked potato with the sides sitting on the table next to you, but you can’t use them.

63. Fair Game

Ken: C

The majority of this movie was boring and not that great, but the villains / main plot was nuts which was pretty entertaining. Their very loose grasp of technology also provided for some laughs.

Patrick: A movie about a sexy lawyer lady and a boy cop she falls in love with. The KGB are hunting down the lawyer and the cop boy is trying to protect her. A Baldwin brother plays the cop. The KGB uses a body heat detector to see if the copy and lawyer are in a hotel. Baldwin is not seen, but only because he is taking a cold shower.. The movie was alright, but was very wet and sexy. On the potato scale, this movie receives a chili tater tots.

64. The Shadow

Ken: C

All of the arguments of how and when the mind control worked made this one entertaining enough to watch.  

Patrick: Alec Baldwin plays a vigilante. The movie had alright special effects, but could’ve been much more with an exciting plot. On the potato scale, this movie receives a potato salad please.

65. Devil Dog Hound of Hell

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Ken: B+

The cult involved was really funny. Everyone acting scared of this adorable puppy / dog was great. It was a pretty great time.

Patrick: A cult does some spells and a dog becomes possessed. The offspring of the evil dog gets adopted by a family and turns out to be evil as well! Terrible scary monster scenes. Terrible movie. On the potato scale, this movie receives a rotten potato.

66. Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas

Ken: D

Preaching for the sake of preaching. Also I had a pretty good Christmas. It didn’t really feel like it needed to be saved.

Patrick: This movie sucked the holiday cheer out of me. The movie is pretty much about the attack on Christmas. Don’t watch it unless you want to become Mr. Scrooge. On the potato scale, this movie receives a potato sprout rating.

67. Leonard Part 6

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Ken: B+

It’s weird to see a movie get so off the rails and to see so clearly that there was no guidance on what should and shouldn’t happen.

Patrick: Bill Cosby is an ex CIA agent and becomes reactivated on one last mission. Such a strange movie, as Cosby is doing action scenes. Terrible action scenes at best. The funniest part is when an evil guy in a wheel chair gets tipped over into a vat of chemicals, but his fake prosthetic legs are still attached to the chair. On the potato scale, this movie receives a baked potato with old sour cream.

68. Hell Comes to Frogtown

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Ken: B+

Crazy plot. Terrible acting. Insane-o frog people.

Patrick: A very strange movie with famous wrestler Rowdy Rowdy Piper. Piper is one, if not the only, man in the world able to reproduce. Basically he’s enslaved and has a chastity belt on. If he removes the belt he explodes, but the purpose of him is to repopulate. Very odd film, I don’t remember liking the movie or hating the movie. On the potato scale, this movie receives a tater tot rating.

69. Barb Wire

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Ken: C

A weird weird movie. It had some funny parts. The acting was bad enough to be great a few times.

Patrick: A movie with Pamela Anderson beating people up. She is wet and sexy like she usually tries to be. Pretty bland plot and fighting scenes. The positive is when a rather large man gets blown up with a grenade. On the potato scale, this movie receives a boring baked potato.

70. Bride Wars

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Ken: C

Just someone else get married like 3 hours later! You could save so much money! Also I thought you [the two leads] were supposed to be friends!

71. Drive Thru

Ken: C

It had some funny moments like whenever they got mad at him for being crazy and acting like a clown with his job of acting like a clown.

Patrick: Pretty lame movie about a drive thru serial killer getting revenge. Not much to say about the movie, besides it being your basic cheesy horror movie. On the potato scale, this movie receives a dirt covered potato.

72. Demolition Man

Ken: B+

This was a pretty entertaining movie. Seeing the “future” was often pretty funny. Lots of fun arguments about stuff like the [bathroom] shells and their dates.

Patrick: An alright Stallone and Snipes movie. My only real gripe is renaming murder as murder death kill.. Overall fun fighting and Stallone may have made love to his own daughter? On the potato scale, this movie receives a salty waffle fry.

73. Half Past Dead

Ken: C

A Steven Seagal movie.

Patrick: Another Steven Seagal film. Pretty similar to the other Seagal film we watch. A bunch of action and fighting, not much to the plot, but overall an ok film. On the potato scale, this movie receives a unseasoned french fry.

74. Gods of Egypt

Ken: D

Long and boring, but it had at least a few moments to laugh at. I am sad we had to watch it in theaters and that means we couldn’t talk.

Patrick: TERRIBLE. Probably the worst movie I have ever paid to go see in the theaters. Boring plot and the fight scenes were just as bad. Stay away from this new, but awful movie. On the potato scale, this movie receives a raw potato.

75. The Covenant

Ken: C

Terrible movie with lame magic and lore that thought it was cooler than it was. It was fun laughing at them trying to take themselves seriously.

Patrick: Supernatural horror-thriller about high-school kids fighting with supernatural powers. A bunch of flying scenes and frat boys fighting with almost Dragon Ball Z ki blasts. This movie sucked and was not fun at all. Although, I did barf (not even kidding) at the scene with a bunch of spiders. I’m sure Ken will mention the incident. On the potato scale, this movie receives a spider potato.

76. The Time Machine (I found at a Yard Sale)

Ken: D

This movie is best summed up by the scene where you see a man go into the kitchen, get a glass, get orange juice, pour it into the glass, drink the entire glass of orange juice, and then put everything back. Just no. The future stuff was semi-funny though.

Patrick: Go into your kitchen and pour yourself a glass of OJ. Continue to drink that glass of OJ for 2-3 minutes straight, all while doing nothing else. That is exactly what happens in one of the scenes of this awful movie. Some very very crappy green screen close ups of mineral caves made me want to have diarrhea. On the potato scale, this movie receives a moldy potato. Nobody should have to consume such a thing.

77. The Order of the Black Eagle

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Ken: A++

Basically if I got to write a movie with no one telling me anything was a bad idea.

Patrick: A MONKEY DRIVING A TANK! A MONKEY WEARING A TUXEDO! This movie has it all, but not according to movie grump Nick Witte. This movie also has an evil resurrected Hitler and banditos. A very fun movie with fun action scenes and monkeys. On the potato scale, this movie receives a fully loaded baked potato! This movie is superb!

78-79. God’s Not Dead and God’s Not Dead 2

Ken:

GND1 – C

Preaching to the choir. This felt like yelling in a echo chamber to me. It did have a really, really funny “villain” in it however.

GND2 – D

More boring preaching to the choir.

Patrick: Vomit alert. A movie about religion and talking about God in schools. Goes to court and blah blah. The Duck Dynasty gang is in the movie if that tells you anything. Worse than the first in the series. On the potato scale, this movie receives a baked potato laced with laxatives.

80. Street Fighter

Ken: A+

Had some great moments, mostly from Zangief. The bad acting and fighting was entertaining enough to tide me over through the rest of it.

Patrick: The video game is much better than watching this lame movie. The movie itself has some decent fighting scenes, but overall pretty bland. On the potato scale, this movie receives a baked potato with no toppings.

THE BEST OF THE WORST

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WOULD RECOMMEND (BEST MOVIE): 

Ken: The Order of the Black Eagle

Who wants Nazis? Banditos? Secret Agents? Ninjas? Laser grids? Tanks? Gun Fights? Hilarious Jokes? Paper Machete Hitler’s skull exploding out of his face? Great action sequences at the end where one guy for sure got hurt?

ALSO DID I MENTION THERE WAS A BABOON WHO DROVE A TANK AND WORE LITTLE SUITS THAT MATCHED THE MAIN CHARACTER AND HE MADE FUNNY FACES AND ALSO DID I MENTION THAT A MONKEY DROVE A TANK

A MONKEY

DROVE

A TANK

Patrick:The Greasy Strangler

By far the best movie.

Tyler: Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf (also known as Howling II: Stirba – Werewolf Bitch) 

For me, the all encompassing nature of any given bad movie is key, i.e. just how much insane things are there to talk about. The Howling II is a proverbial holy grail of discussion. The fact that werewolf lore is traded in favor of that associated with vampires. The multiple werewolf orgies we’re treated to. The theme that is hammered in our ears time and time again. Christopher Lee’s involvement. All of this is just scratching the surface of all that there is to explore.

The favorites of my colleagues are similar in this regard. Howling II won out for me partly due to just wanting to shine a light on another phenomenal entry into my bad movie vernacular. I’d seen the first movie quite a while ago, but harbored absolutely zero interest in looking into any of its sequels. It took seeing YouTuber JonTron had covered it to get me onboard. So I’d like to extend a personal thanks to him on that front. The film is 80’s in all of the right ways (and in some of the worst), all while offering more than it’s fair share of water cooler moments after. A definite must-see.

NOT EVEN TO MY WORST ENEMY (WORST MOVIE):

Ken: Transcendence

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I started to put a number of other movies here, but I kept coming back to Transcendence.
I hate boring movies; looking at you Fateful Findings.
I hate movies that don’t get anything right; looking at you, Dune.
I hate movies that should be better than they are, Dragonball Evolution.
I hate movies that just shouldn’t exist; looking at you, Five Across the Eyes and I am Here… Now and Lion and the King, and Night of the Lepus and The Time Machine (I found at a Yard Sale).

For some reason though, Transcendence was allllll of these at once. They had a lot of money for this obviously. They had people who knew what they were doing. They had people who knew how to make movies. And yet it was sooooooooooo boring. And soooooooo long. And there wasn’t anything fun or funny to latch onto in it.

I know for a fact I’ve listed worse movies up there. But for some reason I just HATED this one.

Patrick: Five Across the Eyes

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The worst person to film a movie ever.

Tyler: God’s Not Dead 2 

I fear this is going to come off as, “Well of course the atheist hated the Christian movie.” Well, if accusations are thrown my way I hope my two theist friends can also attest that this movie is indeed terrible and devoid of any true, entertainment value whatsoever.

The first film, while misguided, was ultimately harmless and stupidly enjoyable thanks in part to its villain(s). Sure, it completely mishandled in its portrayal atheism and the general “motivation” and “intention” of atheism as a whole. It went the full mile by also punishing said atheists by your typical cancer diagnosis and also a matter-of-fact death. Don’t worry though. These extreme circumstances brought them to the Lord, as it should be.

The same could not be said for its sequel which crosses the line from stupid, hot air propaganda to “Oh no…people really believe this shit” territory. And I’m not referring to religion. Thats all well and good. It’s the persecution angle that is put forefront and center here. It drops the ball in ever way imaginable in its portrayal of free speech, digging its grave only further by citing a bunch of real life cases I’m sure would have potentially made somewhat interesting films.

Not the case here.

This movie is a hateful cinematic circle-jerk of the highest caliber, presenting an argument that will in no-way sway people like me or in-between.

Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas gets an honorable mention, but it kind of feels like straight-up bullying to pick on a movie that stupid and tone-deaf as to how the world actually operates. You almost feel compelled to pat in on the back for being somewhat comprehensible.

BEST HERO:

Ken: The monkey from The Order of the Black Eagle

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HE FLEW A PLANE AND HE WORE A LITTLE SUIT AND HE DROVE A TANK.

Patrick: Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson) in Death Wish 3.

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Tyler: Zangief (Andrew Bryniarski) in Street Fighter 

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Zangief is technically a villain throughout most of the overly, long runtime of the 1994 Street Fighter adaptation. He has a change of heart late in the third act however when he is informed that he has been in the service of the bad guys the entire time as well as that everyone, with the exception of him, receive regular paychecks. The proverbial “double whammy” if there ever was one. Upon this revelation, he switches allegiances instantaneously and helps our heroes escape a self-destructing base. He is finally seen celebrating the victory of good at the end of the film.

He also got the two best, legitimate laughs out of me, something no other movie we watched this year could match making Zangief the hero to beat in my eyes.

BEST/WORST VILLAIN:

Ken: Komodo (Angus Macfadyen) from Warriors of Virtue

This guy gets how to play a villain. He understands presentation. He understands comedic timing. And he understands how to be evil. He knew how to wear crazy suits. He also knew what kind of movie he was in which is always great. There is a 20 minute video on youtube of him. Watch it. It’s worth every minute.

Patrick: Adolf Hitler in The Order of the Black Eagle.

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Tyler: Mark Watson (C. Thomas Howell) in Soul Man 

No but seriously, this movie is horrifying and indefensible. Like, why?

Why?

Why?

Why?!

WHY?!

WWWWWWWHHHHHHHHHHHHHYYYYYYYYYYY?!

Hopefully you’ve already read the synopsis earlier but there should be no debate that Mark Watson is in no way, shape or form the hero of this story. He is a villain, to a level that is all the more uncomfortable looking back at his plot to get an exclusively black scholarship all the more cringe-worthy three decades later.

He isn’t punished either. He’s found out, yes, but he gets to keep going to school AND the girl he tricked into thinking he was indeed African American stays with him at the end of the film.

He simply learns that it’s hard to be black, I guess? I don’t know. It’s horrible and it’s racist and Mark is the worst. Like the worst villain conceivable outside of a mass murderer or the like.

BEST ACTOR:

Ken: The monkey from The Order of the Black Eagle

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HE WORE LITTLE SUITS AND HE LEARNED ALL THE MOTIONS AND HE WAS THE GREATEST

Tyler: Johnny James Gatyas as Robert Moore in The Time Machine (I Found at a Yardsale) 

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It takes a certain stock of actor to capture the attention of a populace while encompassing a static minute and half shot of drinking orange juice. Sorry, getting the orange juice out of the fridge. Pouring it. Then drinking it.

BEST ACTRESS:

Ken: Kristy Swanson as Samantha Pringle in Deadly Friend

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Lemme just say. The robot acting lessons paid off.

Tyler: Front row girl in Milk Money

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I guess I should give a smidgen of context. The full scene is below, but the gist is: Frank has to give a presentation on sex education. He recruits V, a prostitute staying at his house (that’s an insane can of worms for another discussion), to help him with an oral presentation his teacher has assigned him at the matter. He proceeds to lock said teacher (you know the one giving him the fucking grade) out of the classroom as he gives his presentation.

The “why” is pretty simple. The girl’s reaction to being told what a woman is so multi-layered that I need a thesis on the matter. Has she never thought about it before? Is this her first brush with adulthood? Has she just come to the realization that she too is in fact of the female gender? All good questions.

Has an actor ever done so much with so little?

No.

The answer is no and I will hear no debate to the contrary.

FUNNIEST MOMENT:

Ken: The spider scene in The Covenant 

Every once in a while we get really good at reading a movie. And every once in a while we call something a little bit too well. This happened with the spider scene in The Covenant. It was probably mostly the Chinese buffet before hand. But this moment was so funny it made Patrick throw up.

I’ll never forget everyone starting to yell “SPIDERS! SPIDERS!! SPIDERRRRRSSS!” as TONS of spiders came out of everywhere and Patrick telling us to stop and everyone yelling and screaming and chanting and Patrick saying to stop and us not believing him and then him sprinting to the sink and hearing him continue to laugh through the pain.

Patrick: Every time Big Ronnie/the Greasy Strangler (Michael St. Michaels) washed the grease off at the car wash in The Greasy Strangler 

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Tyler: The butt knife in Dangerous Men [EDITOR’S NOTE: See BEST KILL for more information.] 

MOST INSANE MOVIE:

Ken: Soul Man

EASY CHOICE. So most of the time my favorite thing to do while watching these movies is to crack up laughing imagining how at no point in the filming did someone say “Hey maybe this isn’t a good idea…”
It’s literally insane this never happened in this movie. Its literally insane that the first MOMENT they saw any footage for editing their reaction wasn’t “OH NO WHAT HAVE WE DONE WE SHOULDN’T LET ANYONE EVER SEE THIS OR SPEAK OF THIS AGAIN”

Patrick: The Greasy Strangler 

Tyler: Hell Comes to Frogtown 

A woman dances in front of a frog man as to arouse his three-pronged penis…and that’s somehow not the most insane thing in this veritable clusterfuck of a film.

Abandon hope all ye who enter.

STUPIDEST LINE OF DIALOGUE:

Ken: “Murder-Death-Kill” from Demolition Man

ANOTHER EASY ONE.
WHY DIDN’T THEY REALIZE IT WAS DUMB WHEN THEY SAID IT. WHY DIDN’T THEY REALIZE IT WAS DUMB WHEN THEY SAID IT AGAIN A LITTLE LATER. YOU CAN HEAR WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE. YOU KNOW IT SOUNDS DUMB.
WHY DIDN’T THEY REALIZE IT WHENEVER THEY SAID IT AGAIN LIKE AN HOUR LATER INTO THE MOVIE?

I am impressed this made it into a Run the Jewels song though.

Patrick: Most likely something from Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas.

Tyler: “I’m making pancakes,” as delivered by Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) in Fifty Shades of Grey

This one probably falls back on to line delivery more than anything else as the line itself isn’t inherently stupid.

Johnson is typically a pretty capable actress, even lively at times. Unfortunately not even she can survive the overly dour 50 Shades which really could stand be a lot more trashy and self-deprecating in the way movies like Showgirls is. At least it could then fall under a “It’s so bad, it’s good” category. What is fall under something that is way more dour and self-serious than it has any right to be.

This stupid line-delivery is really the only thing I fondly remember from my viewing. Johnson delivers the line so joyously that I can’t help but smile.

BEST KILL:

Ken: Butt Knife in Dangerous Men [EDITOR’S NOTE: I cannot find a clip of this sequence on the internet so simply use my friends’ descriptions as added incentives to see the full movie as it is well worth your time and attention.] 

This was amazing. We saw her distract the guy and “accidentally” drop her meal and drop the knife. We saw the knife disappear. We saw her hiding something in her clothes. We saw them head up to the room. We heard her tell him she wanted a shower first. We heard her come back and tell him the very specific instructions to “lick her belly button while rubbing the back of her knees”. And then we saw she was just wearing a towel and a knife was no where to be seen.

BUT THEN IT WAS HID IN HER BUTT. SHE HAD THE KNIFE THE WHOLE TIME. AND SHE MURDERED HIM WITH IT.

The room immediately erupted into chants of “BUTT KNIFE BUTT KNIFE BUTT KNIFE BUTT KNIFE!!!”

Patrick: The scene in Dangerous Men where the naked girl walks out of the bathroom and pulls a knife from between her but cheeks and kills the motorcycle gangster.

Tyler: “Aaaaaaand BOOM goes the dynamite” from Deadly Friend

I really should also be praising the glory that is butt knife as it may be the most glorious moment in cinematic history. BUT. I’ve already spoken about it. Well, others have anyway. So I thought I’d shine some light on this gem. Context certainly helps here, but I’m going to let the magic simply speak for itself.

BEST “THIS IS STUPID” MOMENT:

Ken: XXX: State of the Union

Ice Cube hid in a refrigerator. ICE CUBE hid in a REFRIGERATOR
ICE CUBE HID IN A REFRIGERATOR!!!
We actually didn’t notice the sheer brilliance of this the first time around, but man when we did it was glorious

Patrick: The entirety of Dune

Tyler: The cult’s “anti-Christ” dog scheme in Devil Dog: Hound of Hell

This one is pretty cut-and-dry. Basically a satanist cult breeds some puppies which are possessed with the souls of Satan himself. They then pass around said puppies in order to spread evil, misfortune and all-around not-niceness.

It just seems like a really big risk to have the anti-Christ not only running around in dog form, but also relinquishing control of the Morning Star to unknowing families. What if the family accidentally kills the dog? Or they get the dog fixed? Or they give away the dog? Why not just have the anti-Christ be a person?

It’s not the most complex scheme of the year (looking at you, Cry_Wolf), but it just may be the stupidest.

BEST CRAZY STALKER MOVIE:

Ken: Obsessed

Mostly because at the end the stalker was essentially a crazy monster lady. Like it was shot from a horror movie and they were worried about her coming back to life and it almost seemed like you had to kill her with fire or something.

When the Bough Breaks was a close second, and might have won it if I hadn’t been burned so badly by the crazy lady not being in the crib. I don’t think I got more upset with a movie this year.

Patrick: When the Bough Breaks

John Taylor (MORRIS CHESTNUT) and Anna Walsh (JAZ SINCLAIR); 2am... John lets the last catering staff out... heads up to bed and hears music; John finds Anna playing music in the living room in Screen Gems' WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS.

The stalker made good faces and was crazy.

Tyler: The Boy Next Door 

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Mainly citing this one just to say that, “Hey, boys can be crazy stalkers too.” And obvious sentiment really, but all of the other crazy stalker affair films we watched this year (5 in total) featured female villains.

It hits all the beats of the others, up to your standard flaming house/barn climax at the end.

And who could forget, “I love your mother’s cookies.” A line I’m sure will one day make it to AFI’s 100 Memorable Quotes List.

THE MOVIE TOO GOOD TO BE INCLUDED ON THIS LIST:

Ken: Warcraft

Warcraft wasn’t a great movie, but I didn’t think it was all that bad. It was a little long. The plot was predictable and not very inspired. But it looked pretty. It was cool seeing places from the game. The action pieces were decent enough. This wasn’t good, but I don’t think it was bad movie night bad either.

Patrick: The Order of the Black Eagle

Tyler: TIE Dune and Jem and the Holograms 

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On the surface this is going to come of as a total slant to Ken as these are the two movies he wanted to see least by a large margin. And in a way…yeah, it is. If anyone deserves a slant, it’s Ken Adams. You hear that Ken. I got your number and now so do at least 5 people who skim through this blog.

Anyway, yeah I gave it to two movies not because they are by most means “good” but there’s obvious merit in their respective productions. Both films, against all odds, looks incredible. Jem and the Holograms sports a scene in which our characters avoid capture by the police by jumping off a dock, into the ocean; their escape lit by the neon glow of a ferris wheel. The scene is so stunningly filmed, such visuals are almost heartbreakingly wasted here.

The same could be said for Dune, which sports production design that matches that of any other high-profile science fiction production during its era. Yes, Star Wars included. Sure, it’s dated to an extend but the stuff that’s good looks really, really, REALLY fucking good.

I think Jem’s main fault is failing to embrace the goofiness of its source material. There are hints here and there (the cartoon’s penchant for the identity crisis of its heroine) but it falls to heavily on “real world” drama, all while trying to have its cake and eat it too by the inclusion of a robot side-kick which is HORRIBLY out-of-place.

Dune’s is similar. I don’t really see a proper Dune adaptation ever truly succeeding in a studio system, at least a stand-alone film. While my mouth waters at the remote possibility of seeing Denis Villeneuve-helmed, Roger Deakins-lit Dune, I foresee it landing on the same soft dirt as this. There’s just too much ground to cover in too little time. David Lynch’s version is head-scratching because it not only over-explains some elements (shots every “spice” is uttered), it is completely vague in regards to others.

All that said, there’s something admirable about both these films and not necessarily as terrible as a grand majority of their 2016 peers.

FUNNIEST THING SOMONE SAID OR DID: 

Ken: Tyler realizing that The Greasy Strangler‘s sound track is the music that is always playing in Patrick’s head.

As soon as Tyler said this, I couldn’t stop laughing, and thanks to him I’ve had many hilarious times come up again whenever someone put the music on or starting to pretend to sing like it, and instantly cracking up again.

Patrick: Me puking during The Covenant.

Tyler: During Soul Man, our friend Chloe asked why a certain character was wearing a weird piece of clothing. The exchange was, and I’m para-phrasing here: 

Chloe: Why is she wearing that?

Ken: Why is he black?!