Tag Archives: So bad it’s good

Deep Rising (1998)

'From the special effects team...' That's reaching.
‘From the special effects team…’ That’s reaching.

“Full scream ahead”

Directed by Stephen Sommers
Starring Treat Williams, Famke Janssen, Kevin J. O’Connor, Anthony Heald and Wes Studi

Boat pilot Finnegan (Williams) and his engineers Fantucci (O’Connor) and Leile (Una Damon) are hired by the sinister Hanover (Studi) to transport his team of goons to a mystery location in the middle of the ocean. They soon discover that their passengers are mercenary bandits, intent on robbing the colossal cruise liner Argonautica. Unfortunately, the liner has much worse problems.

Continue reading Deep Rising (1998)

Blast from the Past – The Jungle Book (1967)

Nature, cheerfully technicolour in tooth and claw.
Nature, cheerfully Technicolor in tooth and claw.

“The Jungle is JUMPIN'”

Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman
Starring Bruce Reitherman, Phil Harris, Sebastian Cabot, Louis Prima, George Sanders, Sterling Holloway and others

A young infant is adopted by a family of wolves and named Mowgli (Reitherman), but the pack kick him out when Shere Khan (Sanders) the tiger comes hunting. As his guardian Bagheera the Panther (Cabot!) tries to escort the reluctant Mowgli to the nearest man village, he encounters the insinuating python Kaa (Holloway), the cheerful bear Baloo (Harris) and the mocking monkeys of orangutan King Louis (Prima,) before his final showdown with Shere Khan.

Continue reading Blast from the Past – The Jungle Book (1967)

Iron Sky: The Director’s Cut (2012)

Do not expect subtlety
Do not expect subtlety

“We Come in Peace”

Directed by Timo Vuorensola
Starring Julia Dietze, Christopher Kirby, Gotz Otto, Peta Sergeant, Stephanie Paul and Udo Kier

In 2018, a politically-motivated US moon landing discovers a hidden Nazi stronghold. One of the astronauts is killed and the other, African-American model James Washington (Kirby) taken prisoner.

Continue reading Iron Sky: The Director’s Cut (2012)

Ghost Shark (2013)

maxresdefault

“DONT. GET. WET.” (sic)

Directed by Griff Furst
Starring Mackenzie Rosman, Dave Randolph-Mayhem Davis and Richard Moll

When drunken rednecks attack and kill a shark, the fish returns in spirit form to devour them, the captain of their boat and then … well, pretty much everyone who gets in its way. A group of teens get attacked by the ghost shark and must race to discover the magical secret of the shark’s reappearance with the aid of a drunken old lighthouse keeper (Night Court‘s Richard Moll).

Continue reading Ghost Shark (2013)

Pegasus vs. Chimera (2012)

EPIC!
EPIC!

Directed by John Bradshaw
Starring Sebastian Roche, Nazeen Contractor and Rae Dawn Chong

The would-be Emperor Orthos (Carol Rota) has his court warlock summon the Chimera to be his instrument of destruction. Blacksmith Belleros (Roche) and Princess Philony (Contractor, which I want to believe is an occupation name denoting a long line of senior site managers), seek the aid of the witch Mayda (Chong.) Mayda summons the Pegasus from the heavens to aid them.

Continue reading Pegasus vs. Chimera (2012)

Battleship (2012)

WatchBattleshipOnline

“The Battle for Earth Begins at Sea”

Directed by Peter Berg
Starring Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgård, Rhianna, Tadanobu Asano, Liam Neeson, Brooklyn Decker, Gregory D. Gadson and Hamish Linklater

Apparently responding to a SETI broadcast called Project Beacon, an alien force tries to establish a beachhead in Hawai’i, with only a handful of ships and personnel to stop them.

Continue reading Battleship (2012)

Robocroc (2013)

As near as can be made out, 'from the Director of Young Guns' is what in PR terms is referred to as 'a bare-faced lie'.
As near as can be made out, ‘from the Director of Young Guns’ is what in PR terms is referred to as ‘a bare-faced lie’.

“The world’s most LETHAL WEAPON”

Directed by Arthur Sinclair
Starring Corin ‘Dragon Wasps’ Nemec and Dee ‘ET’ Wallace

A military drone crashes in a zoo, where its payload of experimental nano bots infects a Saltwater Crocodile, transforming it into a cyborg engine of destruction. Zoo keeper and croc hunter Duffy (Nemec) must track and destroy the beast before it gobbles up the guests at the zoo’s spring break waterslide park (I don’t know, maybe US zoos have them), but the project scientist Dr Riley (Wallace, apparently slumming it) is more worried about her experiment.

What’s wrong with it?

Another of SyFy’s creature features of doubtful quality, Robocroc – or possibly Robo Croc – follows a pretty standard pattern: Beast is woken/provoked, beast escapes, beast gets somewhere super bad for it to be, beast is ‘destroyed’, whoops! it wasn’t, now it is.

The titular Robocroc is a pretty piss-poor attempt at CGI, and the human characters are barely more convincing. The roles are all pretty bare-bones – “cerebral adventurer”, “plucky sidekick/love interest”, “manly military man”, “science bitch” and so on – and while the cast are game, there’s not much to work with.

 Duffy is briefly joined by his croc hunting partner Irish guy. He’s Irish, and then he dies. It’s moving, because he was Irish and they had awkward male bonding banter.

And then there’s the whole bit with the water park and Duffy’s son, which is sort of knocked off from Jaws… the one with the water park. 3D? Yeah… that whole plotline is kind of pointless, except to teach us that girls shouldn’t judge a guy based on the fact that he’s not a classic jock and enables his creepy friend’s creeper photographing of you in your bikini (um… yay?)

What’s right with it?

No-one mugs at the camera or sleepwalks their lines; the cast may know they’re in for a shipwreck, but they’re committed to the process.

How bad is it really?

Terrible, but at least it never winks at the camera.

Best bit (if such there is)?

The army sends a helicopter to look for the crocodile, which suddenly leaps from the water in a high, graceful arc to punch clean through the chopper.

What’s up with…? 

  • The entire water park scene? I swear, kid Duffy and his mate were so creepy, I was sure they were the sacrificial arseholes for that bit of the movie.

Ratings

Production values – Oh, dear lord… 18
Dialogue and performances – Crappy roles, played straight, so I give them that. 12
Plot and execution – Basic, but competent, apart from the entire half of the movie that fits awkwardly. 11
Randomness – Half of this film is a random digression, with creepy ‘heroes’ and… badness. 14
Waste of potential – Would have done better to stick to the robot crocodile and ditch the teen drama. 13

Overall 68%

Vikingdom (2013)

vikingdom_xlg

“Live by the sword. Die like a Viking.”

Directed by Yusry Abdul Halim
Starring Dominic Purcell, Conan Stevens, Craig Fairbrass, Natassia Malthe and Jon Foo

When Norse god Thor decides he’s going to conquer all of Midgard, Viking warrior Eirik (Purcell) gets dragged out of retirement to make sure he doesn’t get all the magical treasures he needs to pull it off. Eirik assembles a ragtag band of adventurers, including rough-hewn woodsman type Sven (Fairbrass), misplaced kung-fu master Yang (Foo), sexy archer lady Brynna (Malthe), a couple of muscle-bound oafs, an impetuous youngster, a bard, an eccentric wizard and so on, and goes off to face Thor. After a few double- and triple-crosses, he overcomes the baddy. Everyone is happy except for about half the team, who are dead.

What’s wrong with it?

The basis of this film’s terribleness is its series of shockingly inappropriate visual choices. I’m not talking about its crap visual effects so much as its … perhaps I’d better show you.

Untitled

This is Conan Stevens as Thor. Someone put that costume together, dyed his hair Kool-Aid red, looked at it and went: Nailed it.

And throughout the film, there are just tons of inexplicable things like that. Here’s another one: Eirik has to descend into Helheim to retrieve the horn of blah blah blah, and to do so he has to get past Garm. You know the drill. But this is what Garm looks like:

garm

A T-rex with a giant comedy dog head on.

And that’s leaving aside the more basic visual goofery: unconvincing CGI, ropey sets and possibly the worst collection of wigs extant.

The other problem is that the acting is dia-bloody-bolical. Purcell and Malthe were cast for looks. Malthe talks like she’s memorised her lines but doesn’t know what they mean. But English is Purcell’s native goddamn language, and he delivers every line like he’s reading off a list of menu items. Dude is swole, though. I’m not gonna lie. Veteran British goofball Patrick Murray is the main exception; he mugs his way through it like a man who is well aware how goddamn dumb this movie is.

Also, no one can agree how anything is pronounced.

Oh, and Brynna is a super tiresome Action Chick but she still gets undercut to make a male character look better.

What’s right with it?

When I started watching this film, I thought that it was going to be one of those awful movies like Almighty Thor — just bland and boring and dumb. But it’s really eventful and dumb. Say what you like about the quality of the stuff, there’s always a lot of stuff happening, whether it’s Vikings jumping over castle walls like bearded kangaroos or Eirik retrieving a big black horn from a wall made out of writhing women covered in gold paint. There are big fights, and weird visuals, and kind of a lot of exposition, but still. A lot of shit definitely happens in this movie.

Also Jon Foo is pretty good. In fact, the fights in this thing are a lot of fun. Foo runs around flipping and kicking and really giving it some gusto, and everyone else does their best as well, although not quite as well. But still — the fights are fast-paced, crazy stuff happens, Thor wallops the living hell out of people with his hammer, people get shot with arrows, different characters have visibly different fighting styles … they’re really not half bad!

How bad is it really?

It could actually be pretty good, if it weren’t for the terribly dull and po-faced acting. In fact, if this movie were at all funny, it would be a legitimately good bad film. But every time it goes for stirring heroism, it ends up falling flat, and you just hate Eirik and never want to see him hunt a bear with his shirt off ever again.

Because, believe me, when Eirik is boring, he’s really boring. And Brynna is super boring. And Eirik + Brynna is just about the most boring thing on God’s earth, except perhaps some random Viking you don’t care about telling you about his backstory.

Best bit (if such there is)?

  • Eirik descends into Hel, which is this weird green-lit world full of glowing crystals and zombies that looks like a Peter Davison episode of Doctor Who.
  • Freyr does a last-minute heel turn and reveals that he manipulated Eirik all along to get him to retrieve the horn, which only he could do, and now Freyr’s gonna cover all the lands in a second darkness or whatever, and then Alcuin the wizard pops up to mention that he’s known the whole time and switched the horn for a fake one like thirty minutes previously.
  • Jon Foo kicking dudes.

What’s up with…?

  • Eirik’s quest? It’s like … it’s like double Raiders of the Lost Ark. Not only was the horn perfectly safe where it was, Frey and Thor would never have got it without Eirik. And he didn’t even fix the problem — Alcuin did. And Brynna died, along with like six other people. So in fact the whole thing was completely for nothing and the world would have been much better off if Eirik had just stayed home wrestling bears.
  • Freyja? She saves Eirik’s life because she loves him, but then he never thinks about or mentions her again until he’s about to get off with Brynna. Then she turns up in his mirror for him to be all wracked with guilt at, but she gives him a hall pass and he forgets all about her again. She’s 10 minutes of the movie that could have been taken right out as long as some other reason Eirik could enter Helheim could have been ginned up.
  • The weather? Eirik is ass-deep in snow when he hunts the bear, but it’s all green and springy when he gets home. And no matter how cold it is, Brynna rocks her sports bra whenever she can. Eirik’s outfit of sleeves but no shirt is particularly bizarre.
  • The ripoff scenes? Eirik confronts Thor, who literally tells him that he’s his father and that together they can rule etc., etc. (Oddly, this is more tightly plotted than The Empire Strikes Back, because the fact that Thor is Eirik’s dad is immediately relevant to the action.) And then afterward, they do a shitty, inept, noncommittal version of the funeral scene from The 13th Warrior.

Ratings

Production values: Oh dear me no – 15.
Dialogue and performances: Boring and inept – 18.
Plot and execution: Derivative and/or crazy – 16.
Randomness: Sensible in the outline, but the devil’s in the deails – 14.
Waste of potential: Fantasy Viking Magnificent Seven? That’s a solid B+ – 14.

Overall 77%

The Black Ninja (2003)

51S0126SF2L._SS500_

“Justice by Day. Payback by Night.”

Directed by Clayton Pierce
Starring Clayton Pierce, Carla Brothers, Nicky DeMatteo, Yuki Matsuzaki, Heather Hunter

High-powered lawyer Matt Murdock Malik Ali (Pierce) defends the worst scum in the city of Philadelphia by day — but by night, as the mysterious Black Ninja, he hunts them down and delivers the punishment the courts won’t provide. Undertaking the task of protecting a witness in a mob trial (Brothers), Ali finds himself falling for her — and when the mob boss (DeMatteo) hires the assassin who killed Ali’s family (Matsuzaki) to abduct her, he must confront blah blah blah blah.

What’s wrong with it?

The Black Ninja was paid for mainly out of writer/director/star Pierce’s own pocket and filmed in two weeks — and it looks like it. The cinematography and lighting are either bland or incompetent, the plot is derivative, the sound is awful (it’s frequently hard to hear what people are saying), the dialogue is trite, the political theme is sophomoric and there are some directorial choices … well, we’ll come to those in a minute.

What’s right with it?

Pierce and Brothers aren’t bad actors. Everyone else, with one notable exception, isn’t great, but only a few of them are terrible. Many are obviously not really actors. And Matsuzaki as the rival Red Ninja is hilarious. Possibly even intentionally.

How bad is it really?

It’s atrocious. If it were capably made, it would be a tiresome, clumsy, derivative blaxploitation martial arts movie with some deeply weird and offensive choices. As it is, it’s all that, plus so crappy in its execution that it’s hard to watch.

Also, the fights are almost uniformly terrible — and when they do get in someone who knows some martial arts, the only real effect is to highlight Pierce’s lack of fight choreography.

And the soundtrack is diabolical. There are a lot of songs — including a theme song where Pierce raps — and they’re often introduced at completely inappropriate moments, including smoove R&B during the hero’s big slo-mo-NOOOOO moment.

Anyway, see for yourself:

Best bit (if such there is)?

OK, this isn’t good but it’s a sufficiently bold choice that it has to be in here. The Black Ninja corners the mob boss in his home while he’s taking a dump and paralyses him with acupuncture needles so that he’ll never move again. But he’s in the middle of taking a crap, so while Pierce delivers this hard-ass monologue about how now he’s in prison in his own body, the SFX play a series of farting, squelching, splashing poop-sounds. It sounds ridiculous, and it completely undercuts the scene, but at least it’s a decision.

Oh, also, when Black Ninja is talking to a guy in Tagalog, his Tagalog is really halting and awkward, which makes sense — but sounds ridiculous.

What’s up with…?

  • The series of mid-film fights where Ali fights a bunch of random hoodlums? They do absolutely nothing to add to the story, and the characters are never seen again.
  • Ali’s outfits? It’s 2003, but he looks like he was just in a Boyz II Men video. I guess he is from Philadelphia.
  • The slow-motion three-peat of about half the punches and kicks in the movie? I don’t mean especially exciting ones. There aren’t really any of those.
  • 90s porn star Heather Hunter’s cameo as Ali’s dead wife? I mean, nothing wrong with moving into the legitimate thyutuh, but she has like two lines.
  • The Red Ninja (Matsuzaki)? He’s so charmingly over the top, but it’s really weird in a movie that is 90% pretty restrained in its performances. At one point he just gives someone the maniac stare-grin and holds it for about 30 seconds.
  • Black Ninja’s investigative technique? At one point, he says he’s going to “check out the Johnson Street area.” Apparently, this is the Stickup District, because we cut to him beating up like four gangs of crooks in awkwardly staged fights.
  • The Black Ninja training montage, in which he does some situps, pedals furiously on an exercise bicycle, and does some curls with the kind of weights I have in my cupboard? I mean, Pierce looks like he’s in good shape, but it’s hardly Rambo stuff.

Ratings

Production values: this looks like the movies my brother and I used to make with our mum’s video camera – 18
Dialogue and performances: acting students and people they just met – 12
Plot and execution: a million Punisher comics and an entire bottle of NyQuil – 16
Randomness: doing OK until the poop scene – 16
Waste of potential: the blaxploitation vigilante flick is a proud tradition – 14

Overall 78%

Drive Angry (2011)

drive-angry-3d-quad-

“Get ready for one Hell of a ride”

Directed by Patrick Lussier
Starring Nicholas Cage, Amber Heard and William Fitchner

John Milton (Cage) has escaped from prison and is hunting the Satanic cult that murdered his daughter and kidnapped his infant grandchild. Intervening in a violent domestic between Piper (Heard) and her cheating boyfriend, he cadges a lift from Piper to try to rescue his granddaughter before she is sacrificed by the cult.

Oh, and the prison he escaped from is Hell and Satan’s Accountant (Fitchner) wants to bring him back. Continue reading Drive Angry (2011)