Category Archives: (God)Awful Movies

Spotlighting bad religious movies

Worst of 2016: God’s Not Dead 2

God’s Not Dead 2

gnd21

Up next in my series on the worst films of 2016 is the ultra-evangelical follow up to the 2014 hit God’s Not Dead: God’s Not Dead 2.

The plot of God’s Not Dead is loosely summarized on IMDb as follows:

When a high school teacher is asked a question in class about Jesus, her response lands her in deep trouble.

The lion’s share of the crew for God’s Not Dead 2 are holdovers from the first God’s Not Dead film, including director Harold Cronk, co-writers Chuck Conzelman and Cary Solomon, music composer Will Musser, cinematographer Brian Shanley, and editor Vance Null.

While there are few new faces at work behind the cameras, the cast features quite a number of new additions to the franchise. Gone are previous stars Kevin Sorbo, Shane Harper, and Dean Cain, but present are newcomers like Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters, Leviathan, Congo), Ray Wise (RoboCop, Twin Peaks), and Melissa Joan Hart (Clarissa Explains It All). While a few bit players provide connective tissue between the films, God’s Not Dead 2 is not so much a sequel as it is a spin-off, telling an entirely new story in the same (very) fictional universe.

gnd22

The lion’s share of God’s Not Dead 2 was filmed in Little Rock, Arkansas. This was a change in setting from the previous film, which was shot in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, primarily on the campus of Louisiana State University.

God’s Not Dead 2 was the final film of Fred Dalton Thompson, who died in November of 2015. While he was best known for his work in the Law & Order television franchise, he also had a handful of film roles in features like Baby’s Day Out, In The Line Of Fire, Days of Thunder, The Hunt For Red October, and the Scorsese remake of Cape Fear.

The production budget for the movie was estimated at $5 million. As with the first film, it wound up making a profit at the box office, taking in somewhere between $21 million and $24 million worldwide in its lifetime theatrical run. However, this paled in comparison to the profits for the original God’s Not Dead, which took in $62 million on a $2 million budget.

Critically, however, God’s Not Dead 2 didn’t do nearly so well. Currently, it holds Rotten Tomatoes ratings of 9% from critics and 63% from audiences, along with an IMDb user rating of 4.1/10.

Of all of the critical reviews that I read of the movie, I think that the Rotten Tomatoes critics consensus line best summarizes the essence of God’s Not Dead 2:

Every bit the proselytizing lecture promised by its title, God’s Not Dead 2 preaches ham-fistedly to its paranoid conservative choir.

Honestly, I can’t even begin to talk about all of the problems with the plot to this film. There are too many misconceptions, half-truths, straw men, and flat out lies to list out without it dominating the entire review. Frankly, that is why I didn’t review the original God’s Not Dead: I want to talk about a movie, not a paranoid treatise built on a foundation of sand. So, I am going to focus on other aspects of the movie, and leave the debunking to other folks. I can recommend reading reactions and reviews over at ThinkProgress, from the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s legal intern, and at Godless in Dixie.

As with the first film, one of the biggest weaknesses of God’s Not Dead 2 is the dialogue. Characters don’t speak organically, often sounding rigid and artificial, which further emphasizes the bloated, exaggerated caricatures that inhabit the cartoonish, simplistic story. At best, characters sound like they are delivering sermons. At worst, they just seem wooden and stilted.

The story itself, concept aside, is weighed down by the ensemble concept that provides its framework. Unlike the first film, the various plot threads and characters never really tie together in the end, and don’t much impact each other, which makes a lot of the movie feel pointless. In particular, a number of the loose connections to the first film could have been jettisoned to help the pacing of the story, like the Chinese student and the buddy priests. As it stands, the movie feels longer than it actually is because of the perceived lack of progression: the constant cutting between characters and plot threads makes following along feel like plodding through molasses.

One thing that I noticed quite a bit in the screenplay was a consistent ire directed at Stanford University. While Stanford is certainly a prestigious school with a liberal pedigree, I’m not sure why it wound up being the specific target of the film’s disdain for liberal higher education. Why not Harvard or Princeton? I would have assumed that the Yankee, Ivy league elite would be the go-to targets of extreme conservatives.

In regards to performances in God’s Not Dead 2, there is a pretty wide range to be found. While most of the cast sleepwalk through their dialogue, like the typically charming Ernie Hudson,  Ray Wise in particular embraces his role as a God-hating, moustache-twirling attorney. The movie lights up just the tiniest bit whenever he is on screen, and he provides some much needed energy for the courtroom sequences.

gnd23

All in all, God’s Not Dead 2 feels more like a fan film than a sequel, which is really odd given how much of the creative team returned from the first film. The whole affair feels chained to the previous movie, going so far as to force the title into the dialogue unnecessarily. That said, I actually think some of the technical craft is improved, though my memory is a little fuzzy in regards to the previous film.

As far as a recommendation goes, there is unfortunately not enough entertainment value here to enjoy the experience. It is just too dull and plodding to make sitting through it fun at all, despite Ray Wise’s performance and a handful of notable moments of complete disjointedness from reality.

Suing The Devil

Suing The Devil

suingdevil3

Today’s feature is a Christian courtroom thriller/drama that is as self-explanatory as possible: Suing The Devil.

Suing The Devil was written, directed, and produced by Timothy A. Chey, who has worked on a number of Christian movies that are designed to be inconspicuous, including The Genius Club, Live Fast, Die Young, and Gone.

The cinematographer for the film was Tom Gleeson, who has done some camera work on films like Happy Feet.

The effects for the movie were done by a team that included Ricardo Echevarria (Eight Crazy Nights, The Iron Giant), Ross Newton (Argo, Ant-Man), and Stacy Lande (The Prophecy).

The cast of Suing The Devil includes Corbin Bernsen (The Dentist, The Dentist 2), Tom Sizemore (True Romance, Natural Born Killers), and Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange, Caligula), who also served as a producer. A number of the lead roles, however, are filled in by unknowns, like Shannen Fields and Bart Bronson.

The plot of Suing The Devil is described on its IMDb page as follows:

A down-and-out law student sues Satan for $8 trillion dollars. Satan appears to defend himself and the trial of the century takes place.

As with many Christian films, the reviews for Suing The Devil from both critics and audiences were dramatically polarized. It currently holds a 4.8 rating on IMDb and a 39% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, but both user-submitted review sites feature a whole lot of 1-star and 5-star reviews, with very little in between.

suingdevil2As you would expect, the message of Suing The Devil is beaten over the audience’s head constantly: everything bad is Satan’s fault, Satan is real, etc. This is a consistent aspect of many Christian movies I have watched: they get so wrapped up in their message that they forget to do literally anything else, which ultimately (and, I suppose, ironically) weakens the message as a result, by not providing it any realistic foundation.

As far as specific problems with this movie go, the first and biggest one is with the premise itself, and the movie’s abysmal writing. The biggest question in the plot, obviously, is: “How do we know Malcolm McDowell is Satan?” If he isn’t proved to be Satan somehow, then the trial at the center of the movie has no foundation. This is brought up early on by the judge, but totally dropped after she is distracted by the room getting uncomfortably hot. This is the equivalent of a Looney Toons misdirection gag, and the result is that McDowell is not proven to be Satan, but the trial goes on anyway. Eventually this issue of identity comes back up late in the movie, but the idea proceedings would have gone anywhere without proof of identity is beyond absurd. Going further than that, that premise that Satan exists at all (regardless of whether it has a physical form, let alone a Malcolm McDowell form) is completely brushed over, as it is assumed in the courtroom that the Bible is literal fact. The ultimate “resolution” to these issues comes late in the trial, when McDowell is prompted to vomit computer-generated fire after he has a bible passage read to him, because only evil supernatural beings are capable of pulling off such shoddy effects.

The characters that fill out the background of Suing the Devil are a bizarre lot. Satan’s assumed supporters include three distinct groups of people, who apparently make up most of the world’s population in this Christian persecution fantasy-land: Satan-worshipers, theists who dislike God (Satan’s entire defense team), and atheists, who really shouldn’t have a dog in the fight, but apparently are universally evil and operate oil companies. Speaking of folks who have no investment in this religious trial, it is casually mentioned that countries like Pakistan and North Korea are live-streaming the court case. I think the writers meant this to represent that evil countries were pulling for Satan, but that makes no sense whatsoever, and reveals quite a bit about their limited knowledge of religion and world affairs.

Suing the Devil has one of the most distinct gulfs of on-screen talent that I have ever seen in a movie. On the positive end is Malcolm McDowell, who, even though he is clearly only present to receive his paycheck, has some solid moments as Satan. Honorable mentions also go to Tom Sizemore, who briefly hams up a performance in his handful of appearances, and Corbin Bernsen, who apparently loves showing up in this schlock Christian movies. However, the lion’s share of the primary roles go to actors who sound like they wouldn’t make the cut for a community theater production. The lead, for instance, has some of the worst deliveries I have seen in a very long time, and he spends most of the movie in frame. At the very least, I would say it is a little surreal to see sub-amateur performances interspersed with decent Hollywood actors slumming it for a paycheck.

suingdevil1I would love to be able to recommend this movie based on the premise and Malcolm McDowell alone, but this film is one of the most boring and inane things I have ever sat through. The bafflingly terrible performances are only entertaining for so long, and the writing has no sense of pacing, style, or subtlety. That makes the movie as a whole about as interesting to watch and listen to as a sermon without any charisma. If there was a super-cut of the movie (which clocks in at an agonizing 2 hours long) of just the Malcolm McDowell sequences, I would recommend watching that for the humor factor of the bad writing and performances. The whole thing, however, is not worth sitting through.

The BibleMan Marathon

Just as a reminder, today is the last day of Secular Students Week. So, today only, If you make a donation to the Secular Student Alliance, I’ll cover a movie of your choice.

shadowofdoubt3

Yesterday, the final post went up concluding my marathon of the Bibleman franchise. Over the course of 15 years and 3 incarnations, Bibleman became one of the most popular and recognizable figures in Christian entertainment. So, how was the experience of completing the series?

It was pretty awful. There are definitely some golden moments here and there throughout the series that make for some ironic laughs, but the real purpose behind the series as an evangelical tool aimed at children is always present and evident, and it gives the whole series an unavoidably creepy vibe.

cheater4

bully3 fightforfaith5
Oh, and did I mention all of those brutal Bibleman kills? Here’s a sampling of some of my favorites from the series for you: I’ll have to go back and come up with a final kill count for the franchise at some point, though.
laziness3
cheater7
cheater3
princeofpride4
lightdarkness4

As far as some other final thoughts on the series go, I was amazed to see how much it actually changed over time. Even more interestingly, it was astounding to see how many different hands the series went through, and too how they each impacted the product that wound up on screen. Throughout the series, I got the feeling that there was a lot of tension and backstabbing going on behind the scenes, as creators, actors, and directors would frequently disappear from the franchise, never to return. The creator of the Bibleman character doesn’t even get credit past episode four. I would love to interview some people involved with the show to get a better idea of what all happened behind the scenes, because there just isn’t a lot of information out there, and I can’t go very far on conjecture alone.

Anyway, without further ado, here is the master index of my Bibleman reviews, in chronological order:

 

The BibleMan Show: Big Big Book

The BibleMan Show: Back to School

The BibleMan Show: Six Lies of the Fibbler

The BibleMan Show: Silencing the Gossip Queen

The BibleMan Adventure: Defeating the Shadow of Doubt

The BibleMan Adventure: The Incredible Force of Joy

The BibleMan Adventure: The Fiendish Works of Dr. Fear

The BibleMan Adventure: Conquering the Wrath of Rage

The BibleMan Adventure: Shattering the Prince of Pride

The BibleMan Adventure: Breaking the Bonds of Disobedience

The BibleMan Adventure: Lead Us Not Into Temptation

The BibleMan Adventure: Jesus Our Savior Part 1

The BibleMan Adventure: Jesus Our Savior Part 2

The BibleMan Adventure: A Light In The Darkness

The BibleMan Adventure: Divided We Fall

The BibleMan Adventure: A Fight For Faith

BibleMan: Powersource: Terminating the Toxic Tonic of Disrespect

BibleMan: Powersource: Tuning Out the Unholy Hero

BibleMan: Powersource: Crushing the Conspiracy of The Cheater

BibleMan: Powersource: Lambasting the Legions of Laziness

BibleMan: Powersource: Blasting the Big Gamemaster Bully

BibleMan: Powersource: Combating the Commandant of Confusion

BibleMan: Powersource: In The Presence of Enemies

 

Thanks for sticking this out with me, everyone! Next week, I’ll be back to the usual bad movie reviews. As for the rest of this week, you can look forward to a few more requests to be fulfilled over the next couple of days.

Just as a reminder, today is the last day of Secular Students Week. So, today only, If you make a donation to the Secular Student Alliance, I’ll cover a movie of your choice.

BibleMan: In The Presence of Enemies

In The Presence of Enemies

presence1

Today, I’m continuing my week-long marathon of the Bibleman franchise as part of Secular Students Week. If you make a donation to the Secular Student Alliance this week, and I’ll cover a movie of your choice.

2010’s “In The Presence of Enemies” marks the final episode of the third and final incarnation of the Bibleman franchise: “Bibleman: Powersource.” Willie Aames’s replacement, Robert Schlipp, stars once again in the lead role of Bibleman in this final entry into the franchise.

“In The Presence of Enemies” was produced, directed, and written once again by Steve Gilreath, who was a consistent creative presence throughout all of the episodes in “Bibleman: Powersource.”

“In the Presence of Enemies,” as the name suggests, features nearly the entire cast of villains from throughout the run of “Bibleman: Powersource,” including The Cheater, Snortinskoff, Gamemaster, The Slacker, 2kul 4skul, and the supercomputer, L.U.C.I.. Likewise, Bibleman is joined by his entire team of allies from throughout the duration of “Bibleman: Powersource”: Melody, Cypher, and Biblegirl.

The story of “In The Presence of Enemies” follows an alliance between a number of Bibleman’s toughest adversaries, who have grown frustrated with the hero interfering with their various sinister shenanigans. Together, they try to bring down the Bible Adventure Team with a cooperative plot to write and distribute a fake version of the bible with manufactured scripture, in order to confuse them and lead them astray.

The episode opens up with Bibleman and Cypher being flown around in fighter jets, for pretty much no reason at all. It reminded me of the racecar introduction to “Lambasting the Legions of Laziness,” in that it just seems to be something they wanted to do, and it helped them kill time.

presence3

It was a nice move to actually have a proper, consolidated sendoff for “Bibleman: Powersource”, as “The Bibleman Adventure” limped to its conclusion with various elements of finality spread throughout “A Fight for Faith,” “A Light In The Darkness,” and “Divided We Fall.” I do wish that either The Wacky Protester or Luxor Spawndroth had been brought back as a nod to the previous incarnation, but I wasn’t particularly shocked by their absence. From what I can tell, the transition from “The Bibleman Adventure” to “Powersource” wasn’t particularly pleasant, and those bridges were likely burned.

However, this is also probably the shortest episode in the whole franchise, not even clocking in at thirty minutes. Traditional wisdom would say that a finale should be big and flashy, but this is just the opposite: half-assed and short, like they just wanted to get it over with and put it in the can.  Despite the presence of so many bad guys, this episode just feels small and uninspired, featuring a countless number of extraneous clips and flashbacks, and even a foodfight between the various villains. They couldn’t even get the guy who plays Snortinskoff to physically show up, and have him literally phone in his performance.

The villains’ plot, which involves creating a fake bible, is beyond ridiculous. They honestly think that Bibleman and company, who obsessively quote scripture from memory, won’t realize that their bibles have been tampered with, which goes to prove that Bibleman villains are far from the brightest bulbs out there. However, the plot inexplicably works for a while, proving that anti-intellectual super heroes might not be the best idea, either.

presence2

In a rare showcase of mercy to conclude the series, the villains are shrunk, captured, and placed in a tiny cage for the amusement of the Bible Adventure Team, instead of ritually executed to please their ever-hungry God. However, Gamemaster is never shown in the cage, and Snortinskoff is also never specifically dealt with, leaving a theoretical window open for future adventures. Thankfully, however, those have not come to be.

presence4

Between this and the equally zero-effort “Combating the Commandant of Confusion,” “Bibleman Powersource” manages to end even less gracefully than “The Bibleman Adventure.” This was clearly either due to financial constraints or a collapse behind the scenes, or perhaps even a combination of both of these things. In any case, “In the Presence of Enemies” makes for a pretty lackluster nose-dive into the finish line for the “Bibleman” franchise. On the positive side of things, this means I’m done with Bibleman! You all can look forward to retrospective on the series within the next day, and thanks for sticking around!

You still have a day to make donations here in order to have a coverage request on the blog honored! I already covered the experience of watching paint dry, so literally anything is on the table. Even paint.

BibleMan: Combating the Commandant of Confusion

Combating the Commandant of Confusion

confusion1

Today, I’m continuing my week-long marathon of the Bibleman franchise as part of Secular Students Week. If you make a donation to the Secular Student Alliance this week, and I’ll cover a movie of your choice.

2010’s “Combating the Commandant of Confusion” marks the penultimate episode of the third and final incarnation of the Bibleman franchise: “Bibleman: Powersource.” Willie Aames’s replacement, Robert Schlipp, stars once again in the lead role of Bibleman.

“Combating the Commandant of Confusion” is once again produced and directed by Steve Gilreath, but is this time written by Bibleman himself, Robert Schlipp.

The central villain of “Combating the Commandant of Confusion” is the eponymous Commandant: a metallic, verbose, Soviet-inspired, malapropism-spouting military commander. However, the first villain who appears on stage is a henchman named Chaos, who is just some person in a jumpsuit and a motocross biking helmet. This, frankly, sets a new standard for laziness in Bibleman villain designs.

confusion2
“I am especially fond of severe harm”

Bibleman’s allies for the episode include the entire Powersource incarnation of the Bible Adventure Team: Cypher, Biblegirl, and Melody, though Melody is relegated to a minimal supporting role.

The story of the episode follows the Bible Adventure Team hosting a training demonstration to a live audience, in which they are supposed to use a new, recently developed weapon. However, the Commandant of Confusion and Chaos steal the instructions for the device, and plot to replace it with some sort of vaguely evil gizmo to destroy Bibleman and company. Of course, the team figures out a way to defeat them, and ultimately reveal that the “weapon” is actually just a bible. Really.

confusion6
“The most powerful weapon…is the word of God!” You might have a point there, you fundamentalist paramilitary vigilante.

The episode starts with a retrospective of the entirety of “Bibleman Powersource” to date,  totaling in for a whopping two and a half minutes of the run time. It is not only totally unnecessary background, but given the abnormally short length of the episode, I imagine that they were desperate to fill in the time with anything they could find. Likewise, the ending features a particularly bloated prayer segment that seems to drag on indefinitely.

There are live versions of a number of episodes in the Bibleman series, but “Combating the Commandant of Confusion” seems to be the only one that lacks a standard filmed version of the episode. I’m not sure if they did this specifically to cut costs, but it is kind of jarring. They try to make the live setup make sense as if it is a standard episode, under the guise of it being a training academy. However, it is pretty transparent given the low quality of the film and the restricted camera angles.

confusion7

Something else that is odd about the episode is that, despite this being a live episode, post-production special effects are still used as if it was a standard episode, which just comes off looking strange.

The central concept behind this episode seems to be a sentiment of anti-intellectualism, with the portrayal of the Commandant being a verbose fraud who uses his appearance of intellect to confuse and manipulate people. This reminds me of how a lot of fundamentalists seem to think of university professors at secular institutions. However, I was a bit surprised at how the villain was designed: why did he have to be military-themed? They literally just had one of those with Baron Von Braggard in the previous episode, and it would make a whole lot more sense for Confusion to be a tweed-clad professor caricature, given the way he carries himself and uses language.

The Commandant of Confusion is, of course, struck down by the Bible Adventure Team at the conclusion of the episode. The Commandant winds up taking a slash from Bibleman’s laser sword, which leaves him thoroughly disintegrated, while Chaos manages to escape unharmed.

confusion5 confusion3 confusion4

“Combating the Commandant of Confusion” is incredibly half-assed in just about every way you can imagine. The villains are dull, the story is boring, the run-time is short and packed with filler, and they didn’t even bother to do a professional, studio version of the episode. This is corner-cutting and production laziness at its finest, and makes the episode absolutely skippable.

BibleMan: Blasting The Big Gamemaster Bully

Blasting The Big Gamemaster Bully

bully1

Today, I’m continuing my week-long marathon of the Bibleman franchise as part of Secular Students Week. If you make a donation to the Secular Student Alliance this week, and I’ll cover a movie of your choice.

2009’s “Blasting the Big Gamemaster Bully” marks the fifth episode of the third and final incarnation of the Bibleman franchise: “Bibleman: Powersource.” Willie Aames’s replacement, Robert Schlipp, stars once again in the lead role of Bibleman.

“Blasting the Big Gamemaster Bully” is once again written by Michael Nolan (“Crushing the Conspiracy of The Cheater,” “Terminating the Toxic Tonic of Disrespect”) and directed/produced by series regular Steve Gilreath.

The primary villain of the episode is, of course, Gamemaster: a robot who previously popped up in a minor role in “Lambasting the Legions of Laziness,” in which he was notably stabbed to death by Bibleman. A secondary villain appears in the form of a pig-nosed militaristic creature named Baron Tantamount Von Braggart.

Bibleman is joined by his usual team of allies: his long-time sidekick Cypher, Biblegirl, and the relative newcomer, Melody.

The story of the episode follows Gamemaster, who has been reconstructed and upgraded since Bibleman destroyed him in “Lambasting the Legions of Laziness.” With the help of the evil computer L.U.C.I., he creates a video game called “Big Bad Bully,” which allows kids to pretend to be bullies in a factional realm. However, it apparently brainwashes the children into becoming violent and confrontational at the same time, which raises the attention of Bibleman’s team. Of course, they have to find a way to help the children, stop the video game, and find a way to stop the bullying epidemic in the local schools.

Von Braggart, in fitting with Bibleman tradition, dies brutally in the introductory sequence when his death laser somehow interacts negatively with his electric cane, leaving him a glowing, shocked mess. Surprisingly, Bibleman and team had nothing at all to do with this, and it actually seemed to be a genuine accident. I guess that is one of the hazards of keeping a death laser laying around.

bully2

Gamemaster is helped out by a legion of cheap-looking robot henchmen, which make his costume look comparatively advanced (and I previously compared him to ‘Sex Robot’). I honestly think they are made out of cardboard wrapped in cellophane, which is a combination that even makes classic Doctor Who episodes look impressive.

bully3

This episode actually shows a little bit of clever continuity from earlier in the series, which it deserves props for. In “Lambasting the Legions of Laziness,” Gamemaster sees Bibleman without his mask on, and manages to figure out his secret identity through searching a facial recognition database. He then uses information about Carpenter’s past to manipulate him, which is actually a pretty solid villain move.

Speaking of which, Gamemaster seems to be the only mostly-serious villain in the entire series, which actually serves to make him pretty forgettable among a colorful cast of villains. If I have a choice between watching The Cheater chew scenery or watching Gamemaster do actual villain things, I’m going to go with The Cheater every time. I don’t think anybody watches Bibleman for traditional bad guys, and having one at the center of an episode doesn’t do anyone any favors. To his credit, Gamemaster does seem to use a lot of puns, but his monotone doesn’t allow them to land very well.

bully4

Bibleman ultimately dispatches Gamemaster with the strategic use of a water balloon, which causes him to short circuit and burn out. I guess he deserves props for resourcefulness, but why the hell didn’t Gamemaster have any kind of waterproofing? What does he do when it rains? In any case, the bible team reaches a new level of cruelty with what they do to him after his defeat: instead of finishing him off, Cypher and Melody wipe his memory and force him to sing children’s bible songs indefinitely on loop. Honestly, couldn’t they just have stabbed him again? That’s just a weird thing to do to what I assume is at least a partly biological organism.

bully5

The episode’s plot is definitely based on the moral panic over violent video games, which was particularly heated in the 1990s and early 2000s. In fact, one of the most notorious video game companies, Rockstar, which creates the “Grand Theft Auto” series, actually did essentially create a bully-themed video game like the one featured in this episode, called, appropriately enough, “Bully.” It released roughly a year before this Bibleman episode, which means that it was likely an influence on the bully game featured in the plot.

I feel kind of mixed as to whether this episode gets a recommendation from me. Gamemaster is pretty boring, but it is kind of interesting to see an actual villain pop up for once. His henchman robots are hilariously cheap, but the story itself is way more forgettable than it might sound like. If you want to watch a video game episode of “Bibleman,” then “A Fight For Faith” was absolutely hilarious. This episode, outside of some minor details, is pretty forgettable.

BibleMan: Lambasting The Legions of Laziness

Lambasting The Legions of Laziness

laziness1

Today, I’m continuing my week-long marathon of the Bibleman franchise as part of Secular Students Week. If you make a donation to the Secular Student Alliance this week, and I’ll cover a movie of your choice.

2008’s “Lambasting the Legions of Laziness” marks the fourth episode of the third and final incarnation of the Bibleman franchise: “Bibleman: Powersource.” Willie Aames’s replacement, Robert Schlipp, stars once again in the lead role of Bibleman.

“Lambasting the Legions of Laziness” is once again produced and directed by series regular Steve Gilreath, and written by Jeff Durham, who previously penned “Tuning Out The Unholy Hero.”

The primary villain of the episode is The Slacker, who looks like a wizard in pajamas. There is also a secondary villain, a robot named Gamemaster, who will pop back up in his own dedicated episode later on.

Bibleman is of course joined by his usual lineup of Bible Adventure Team allies: Cypher, Melody, and the newly reappointed Biblegirl.

The story follows The Slacker as he uses a magical lantern to cause members of Bibleman’s bible study group to become listless and unmotivated. Bibleman and company eventually realize something is wrong, but not until after they fall victim to his magic themselves. Of course, prayer manages to cure them (as it always does), and the team then goes after The Slacker.

The episode opens with Bibleman driving a race car, during which a guy in a cheap robot costume (Gamemaster) tries to assassinate him. Speaking of which, Gamemaster looks about as advanced as Sex Robot or the cardboard box outfits from “The Humans Are Dead” by Flight of the Conchords, and speaking in one of the laziest robot impersonation voices that you will ever hear.

laziness2

In true Bibleman fashion, Gamemaster is straight-up stabbed to death by the crusading hero, who clearly isn’t very big on mercy or the potential for redemption. Or, at least, not for robots.

laziness3

The main villain of the episode, The Slacker, features some of the worst aging makeup I have ever seen. Could they not have found an older man to play the part, as opposed to trying to transform a young guy? Even the fake beard looks embarrassingly awful, and those just can’t be all that hard to come by.

laziness4

I feel like this episode is vaguely anti-marijuana in its message, but without ever explicitly stating that. The Slacker’s demeanor and everyone’s behavior under his spell throughout the episode struck me as being what a fundamentalist Christian would imagine being stoned is like, which is pretty damn hilarious to me. That also means that this episodes marks yet another instance in the series where the villain blatantly drugs children, which is pretty creepy as far as tropes / motifs go.

Something that you might spot in the background of this episode is one of the Bibleman branded action figures. Specifically, a figure of El Furioso (“Conquering The Wrath of Rage”) is used as part of one of The Slacker’s devices, which Bibleman manages to defuse.

laziness5

In the end of the episode, Bibleman and company wind up defeating The Slacker, and hold him at the point of their laser swords. The Slacker makes the reasonable inquiry as to what they are going to do with him, which may very well have saved his life, judging from Bibleman’s murderous track record. However, the outcome is ultimately kind of creepy. Here is how it plays out:

The Slacker: “So tell me, Bibleman, what are you planning to do with me?”

Bibleman: “I think you need a long vacation. I’ll even buy you a one-way ticket.”

There is then an immediate cut to the following image:

laziness6

That sure does raise a lot of questions, doesn’t it? Now, i don’t think it is unreasonable to assume that “The Bad Place” is Hell. However, when someone gets a “one-way ticket” to Hell, that usually means they have been quite thoroughly murdered. Also, how exactly is this package supposed to be delivered to “The Bad Place,” regardless of whether it is Hell or anywhere else? That just isn’t specific enough at all, and I’m pretty sure, theologically speaking, there aren’t a whole lot of people out there who believe that Hell has a deliverable postal address. In any case, I believe that The Slacker pops up in the series finale, so he managed to survive his “one-way ticket” to “The Bad Place.”

“Lambasting the Legions of Laziness” isn’t one of the stronger entries into the franchise, and I personally think that the villain is one of the dullest and least interesting. I mean, there is only so much you can do with a villain centered around sloth, so I guess they did what they could. Still, the story is unremarkable, and the makeup on The Slacker is distractingly terrible, and there aren’t really enough highlights to make the experience of watching through the episode worth it.