Tag Archives: imdb

IMDb Bottom 100: Bratz: The Movie

Bratz: The Movie

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This is not a good movie. I would go so far as to say that “Bratz” is about as detached from reality as any movie I have ever seen. The version of the world portrayed in “Bratz” is almost like a magical realist setting as written by an 11 year old: it is roughly as vapid as it is bizarre and surreal. For a movie written and directed for tweens, somehow it manages to be unintentionally entertaining.

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Somewhere between the over-the-top characters and plots, the abysmal writing, and the horrible acting, there is a weird charm buried in the failure of this movie. Director Sean McNamara, who was responsible for “3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain”, has managed to fine-tune the art of making shitty children’s movies throughout his career. I have seen a handful of his other features, however, and none of them have the odd, intangible quality of “Bratz”.

One of the few recognizable faces in “Bratz” is Jon Voight, who is certainly capable of saving bad movies with a grand, eccentric performance. However, he gets very little screentime as the principal of the school, and very few lines. I was really hoping for some “Anaconda”-style Voight in this flick, but that regrettably never happened. The rest of the cast is made up of at-best television actors, and unsurprisingly, none of them delivered great performances in this doll-inspired movie.

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So, if not the acting or directing, what did save this movie? Did it have clever writing? The short answer to that question is ‘no’. The pacing of the story is really bizarre, with a number of what felt like false endings late in the movie. There is also a really strange time skip about 20 minutes in, that moves the story forward 3 years with no clear changes in the characters at all.

However, I don’t think anything measures up to how bad the dialogue and character writing is in this film. During a fight within the central Bratz gang, one of the girl’s accuses another of buying her friends with her dad’s bank account. The retort: “well, you don’t have a dad or a bank account”. If you ask me, that is an excessively cold burn for a kid’s movie, and sloppily delivered to boot. One of the leads attacks another character for having an absentee (dead?) parent, and for being poor.  The whole exchange is brushed off pretty quickly, and the whole gang is together again and as close as ever before too long. That, to me, is beyond unrealistic: you don’t just forget that kind of thing. The characters are without any kind of depth or genuine tension between them, which makes the resolution to the “no dad/no bank account” scene just feel bizarre.

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Also bizarre? These clown costumes. Seriously.

Bad writing, bad acting, and bad directing. Yet, again, I found “Bratz” to be a mildly entertaining bad movie. Honestly, I can’t quite explain why. Somehow, in the mixing together of the independently shitty elements of this movie, a small amount of charm is produced as a byproduct. I do, however, know that I am not alone in this opinion. The good folks at “The Flop House Podcast” unanimously recommended “Bratz”, despite how bad the movie is mechanically. I found that at least mildly reassuring, in the sense that I apparently haven’t totally lost my ability to discern between good and bad movies.

IMDb Bottom 100: R.O.T.O.R.

R.O.T.O.R.

rotor

You should probably just stop reading this review and start watching “R.O.T.O.R.”

This is a very recent addition to the IMDb Bottom 100, and I have to claim some small bit of credit for that. When I started the IMDb Bottom 100 challenge back in January, I went through to see how close a bunch of movies were to qualifying for the list. “R.O.T.O.R.”, at the time, was just 50 votes shy of meeting the 1500 vote quota needed to qualify for the list, and movie’s score was (justifiably) more than low enough to crack into the ranking.  So, of course, I did my best to rally people to give “R.O.T.O.R.” the votes it needed to get to 1500. I only pulled in a fraction of those last 50 votes, but it feels great to have helped raise this movie’s profile. Because, readers, “R.O.T.O.R.” is a horrible movie in the best possible way. “R.O.T.O.R.” is what you hope to find when you pick up a collection of 50 sci-fi movies for less than $10. “R.O.T.O.R.” is a beacon in the darkness that can remind you why you watch so many incredibly shitty movies. “R.O.T.O.R.” is magic.

I have watched a ton of incompetently crafted, drool-summoning, dull-as-a-paddle movies over the course of this IMDb Bottom 100 challenge: “The Maize: The Movie”, “Die Hard Dracula”, and “Disaster Movie” to name a few. They have certainly outnumbered the fun bad movies on the IMDb Bottom 100 by a significant order of magnitude. However, “R.O.T.O.R.” is one of those few treasured films that manages to produce entertainment out of honest incompetence. When that happens, it is just fantastic.

It is hard to know where to start with “R.O.T.O.R.”, so I am going to begin by talking about good ol’ ‘R.O.T.O.R.’ himself. ROTOR is a super-robot designed by the Dallas police department to deal with the crime-ridden streets of the future. In one line of dialogue, it is implied that ROTOR won’t be operational for 20 years. Despite that, a series of bureaucratic and zany shenanigans accidentally sets off the machine far ahead of that schedule, and releases him into the present. Oddly, the robot functions near-perfectly, with the exception of being vulnerable to loud noises and treating all legal violations with the penalty of death.

When the audience first sees ROTOR, he is just a metal frame that moves around in jerky stop motion. For unclear reasons, the robot has a human appearance by the time he manages to break free, which seems like a strange thing to do with a robot still 20-odd years from completion.  In any case, ROTOR spends most of the movie trying to kill people who break minor traffic laws, and proving himself to be essentially invulnerable.

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Most would assume at first glance that ROTOR’s costume design is ripped from the T-1000 in “Terminator 2”, but that isn’t actually the case: “R.O.T.O.R” predates “T-2” by a good four years. The movie certainly takes elements from “Terminator”, but it feels more like a direct knockoff of “Robocop” to me. A more interesting question that is often asked: did ROTOR influence the design of the T-100? It seems plenty plausible to me.

The acting in “R.O.T.O.R.”, to put it mildly, is all over the damn place. The lead actor I think does a half decent job delivering some really silly lines, but the skill goes downhill at a dramatic gradient as you move down the cast list. One of my favorite scenes in the film is a phone conversation between the protagonist (Agent Coldyrn) and his boss, which really showcases both the horrible acting performances in this film, and the hilariously incompetent script. I would have assumed that the scene was just really bad improvisation if all of the lines didn’t sound like they were being read off the page, but I still can’t honestly say either way which is happening. The amount of repetition in this scene is baffling, and the point of the sequence (ROTOR program is being cut if results don’t happen in a week) seems to just evaporate into the confused fog of dialogue eventually. Seriously, check this out:

Also, watch through this brief encounter between ROTOR and a cop at the police station. You can feel in your bones how poorly acted this scene is, as the cop character continues to stiltedly ramble about being pushed aside long past the point that the audience could possibly care.

While all of the acting is pretty horrible, there are a handful of characters who do manage to stand out. In particular, there is a sassy police robot who is never fully explained, and resigns over the phone about halfway through the movie, never to return. There is also an out-of-the-blue bad-ass woman scientist thrown into the plot halfway through the film, who manages to go toe to toe with ROTOR in combat. Despite her never being mentioned previously, she was apparently heavily involved in designing ROTOR in some way. She is hilariously teased as a major player in a potential sequel as the movie closes (no, there wasn’t a sequel).

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The cinematography of this movie truly needs to be experienced to be believed. The dramatic final fight scene takes place partially in the background of lingering unimportant shots of non-action in the foreground, and all of the action scenes leading up to it aren’t much better. Most of the action scenes are just shot with a single camera on a tripod, in such a way that you can see as little detail of what is happening as possible. Watching this film is a genuinely perplexing experience, and you will constantly speculate about what the director was thinking during many of the shots.

Do I recommend “R.O.T.O.R.”? Yes. Yes I do. If you enjoy bad movies, go watch it immediately. The whole thing is on YouTube. Additionally, if you have ever wanted to see a robot drawn and quartered, this is a movie for you.

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IMDb Bottom 100: Miss Castaway and the Island Girls

Miss Castaway and the Island Girls

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I admittedly did no research ahead of watching “Miss Castaway and the Island Girls” for the first time, so I wasn’t quite sure of what to expect going in. I can say that the last thing that I anticipated was a low-budget “Movie Movie” with a plot involving Noah’s Ark, Michael Jackson, the Tim Burton “Planet of the Apes”, and a giant prehistoric bipedal pig.
castaway3I have talked and written at length before about the weaknesses of the “Movie Movie” genre in my reviews of “Epic Movie” and “Disaster Movie”, both also on the IMDb Bottom 100. I won’t retread that ground, other than to point out that this style of movie has no longevity for future audiences due to their reliance on references and current pop cultural references. “Miss Castaway” definitely suffers from this in a huge way, given most of the ‘humor’ is derived from lampooning movies like “Castaway” and “Miss Congeniality”, which are barely on the cultural radar nowadays. However, that is a weakness of all of these movies, and there are plenty of issues unique to “Miss Castaway” that the big budget sister films like “Epic Movie” and “Disaster Movie” were able to evade.

First off, “Miss Castaway” is a cheap movie, and that is a fact that shows itself at every turn. Any time CGI is used (which is far too often), it looks like it was scraped out of the bottom of a barrel. Check out this clip featuring “Jurassic Pork”, one of the handful of CGI creatures in the movie.

Also, check out this dodo bird / alien thing. Doesn’t it look fantastic?
castaway4As you would expect, all of the acting and writing is abysmal. The acting is about what you should expect from any spoof movie, but the line deliveries are particularly stilted and wooden. Then again, there is no way to seriously deliver half of the lines in this script. For most of the movie, I was wondering if the writers had ever heard a human being talk before. In some ways, “Miss Castaway” dialogue feels like an alien race is trying to communicate with the audience, but their only knowledge of our planet, culture, and language is through movies circa 2004.

The plot feels like a clumsy patchwork to drive the characters from one reference to the next. It progressively devolves into incoherence, and it doesn’t make much sense to start with. I believe there are secret agents from the Vatican on board the crashed airplane who were hunting for Noah’s Ark, and were charged with saving it from humanoid Ape creatures who want to destroy humanity? There are also aliens involved at some point? It lost me about halfway through. I think Michael Jackson was in league with the Pope though.

castaway1Honestly, there isn’t much else to say about “Miss Castaway”. It is a cheap spoof movie that fails to be funny on paper, and is executed incredibly poorly. It is hard to compare Movie Movies to other kinds of movies, as they are kind of unique beasts. In comparison to the other Movie Movies on the IMDb Bottom 100, I can at least say that “Miss Castaway” is less low-brow that “Epic Movie” and “Disaster Movie”. It is far from high-brow, but I don’t recall much. if any, poop or bodily fluid humor, which puts it a notch above “Epic” and “Disaster” at least. However, the incredibly poor effects work probably puts “Castaway” right back down on their level. So, I guess it is pretty close to a draw? That is actually saying something for a movie with a fraction of their budgets, though.

In general, I don’t see any reason to recommend this movie. The plot is bafflingly stupid, the acting and writing are bad, and the effects are horrendous. If there were any actual humor to be had in the writing, the effects, acting, and plot might have been overcome. However, that was not the case. I advise avoiding this one, unless you have a burning need to see miserable CGI.

IMDb Bottom 100: The Hillz

The Hillz

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“The Hillz” has been perhaps my least favorite film from the IMDb Bottom 100 thus far. It isn’t the worst of the list (though it is certainly high up there) in terms of film-making incompetence, but the writing, dialogue, and general tone of the film are all incredibly revolting. The sheer vapidness of the screenplay puts a thin coating on top of the immense quantities of sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and pretty much every other shitty quality a thing can have. I would venture to say that absolutely anyone could be offended by something in this movie. One particular sequence that comes to mind is the ‘humorous’ story of “Monster Head”, in which a transexual prostitute is murdered mid-fellatio by one of the central characters. Lol.

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Even the actors are looking for other things to do

“The Hillz” presents the audience with an incredibly forgettable and thoroughly reprehensible cast of characters, including a dull college baseball star lead who is infatuated with an inconsistently-written Paris Hilton who plays his best frenemy and perplexing love interest. He also has a group of close friends who he smokes crack with on occasion, and who operate a criminal empire comprised of robbing Beverly Hills mansions at house parties and executing people for $80 debts.

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Smoking crack with the buds

The one saving grace in regards to the character cast of “The Hillz” is that they are mostly corpses by the time the story comes to its abrupt conclusion. I don’t want to assume that this ending was karmic repayment for their general shittiness, because the movie never particularly gave me the sense that they did anything wrong in the storytelling (they very obviously did, but I only know that because I have some sense of right/wrong, not because the movie conveyed it).

All of the actors are absolutely miserable in this movie, with the notable exception of the fellow playing the gang leader with a notably violent temper (the one who killed “Monster Head”). The character is one of the most horrid I’ve seen put to screen, but the actor really does his best to sell it. That is more than can be said for anyone else on screen throughout the run-time of this movie.

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He was doing his damnedest

The editing in “The Hillz” definitely goes a long way towards setting it apart from the herd. This movie would have been horrible based on the writing and acting alone, but the astoundingly incompetent transitions are mind-blowing. I think that this movie was edited in Windows Movie Maker, and the editor just used random transitions available in the program. There is at least one instance where a star transition is used, and those always look awful.

One thing that is worth pointing out about this movie is that, despite the trailer and all of the marketing materials, Paris Hilton does not feature prominently in the movie. She doesn’t have any relevance to the primary plot, and sort of floats around the edges of the movie as a source of frustration for the main character. I honestly don’t much care about deceiving people who would watch a movie solely for Paris Hilton, so that marketing deception is a pretty minor gripe in my book.

Last I checked, “The Hillz” was just about to fall out of the IMDb Bottom 100, which really does surprise me. This is more incompetent and offensive overall than either “Pledge This!” or “The Hottie and the Nottie”, two other Paris Hilton movies that tend to hover around the top 10 on the list. My guess is that this is primarily due to the relative lack of exposure of “The Hillz” in comparison to either “Pledge This!” or “The Hottie and the Nottie”, because I can’t believe that anyone would objectively regard those as worse movies than this piece of work. There are only a handful of IMDb Bottom 100 movies that I think of as mechanically worse than “The Hillz” (“Ben and Arthur”, “The Maize”, and “Birdemic” immediately come to mind), but none are as thoroughly offensively written as it. In the words of the late Roger Ebert: I hated, hated, hated this movie.

If you are interested in reading more about “The Hillz”, check out this review from the Something Awful forums.

 

 

IMDb Bottom 100: The Creeping Terror

The Creeping Terror

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Ah, “The Creeping Terror”. This movie has to have one of the worst monsters in cinema history, and that is really saying something.

I’ve already mentioned this flick briefly when I covered the upcoming movie “The Creep Behind the Camera”, based on the bizarre story of how “The Creeping Terror” was made. To be honest, this is one of those rare cases where the story of how the film was made is far more fascinating and entertaining than the film itself. There are some that swear by “The Creeping Terror”, but before I started reading into the back story, I just found it to be another boring, repetitive Corman-esque monster movie. The only things that stood out for me on the first watch were the silly monster design and the inconsistent and perplexing use of narration. However, after learning some more about the behind-the-scenes shenanigans that spawned this film, I am way more intrigued by it. I still think the movie is crushingly boring, but there is at least a fraction  of intrigue as well.

First off, take a good, long look at the star of “The Creeping Terror”:

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Yeah, that’s the first problem. Carpets are not very scary, and this thing is about as far from intimidating as you can get. However, I believe that you can make a decent monster movie without a decent monster. You just have to be creative with the shots, build tension with the writing and music, and keep the embarrassing rubber suit off-screen as much as possible. Financial limitations can force artists to be creative to make their film work, and some directors actually work best under those limitations (Robert Rodriguez pops to mind). Or, y’know, they can do none of that at all, and make their film as boring as possible. Just like “The Creeping Terror”.

I would be hard pressed to find anything that was genuinely done well in this movie. I guess the infamous dance hall scene is sort of ok…except for the damn music.

…and, of course, it all goes wrong when the monster shows up.

I am not personally a big fan of “The Creeping Terror” as a bad movie, and don’t recommend it for group viewing. However, if you are interested in the machinations behind the scenes that produce crap movies, then there is perhaps no better tale than the spotty information available about star/director Vic Savage and “The Creeping Terror”. It sounds like a delightful brew of fraud, addiction, sex, bribery, and madness went into the making of this atrocious feature. Seriously, I am incredibly excited to hear what was put together for “The Creep Behind the Camera”. It is sure to be a blast, and I bet the trailer can sell you on it if you aren’t already intrigued.

 

IMDb Bottom 100: Die Hard Dracula

Die Hard Dracula

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“Die Hard Dracula” is an incompetently made movie on every level. The editing is jerky and feels devoid of continuity, the writing is bizarrely inconsistent in tone, the costumes and makeup are ridiculous, the effects are garbage, and all of the acting is either cartoonishly over-the-top or non-existent.

An interesting thing I noticed from digging around on the web is that “Die Hard Dracula” is clearly one of those movies that no one knew how to market (and not just because it is horrible). If you look at any of the posters or covers for the movie, they all portray a typical vampire horror movie. However, the tone of the movie is oddly light-hearted, and at times is a full-on spoof of “Dracula” and vampire movies in general.

diehard9At the same time, it doesn’t go quite so far as to be a “comedy”, so it would be deceptive to market it as such without acknowledging the attempt at horror. I’ve noticed this same trend with other movies that mix styles (whether they are good or not). It is difficult to easily pitch or sell something that has both genuine horror and comedy elements. In this case it didn’t matter all too much, because the movie is astoundingly horrible all-around and fails to blend the genres successfully. However, this problem does affect good horror-comedy movies of recent years like “Cabin in the Woods” and “Drag Me to Hell”.

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Managed to drag both Joss Whedon and Sam Raimi into this.

I can’t say for sure, but some of the comedic moments in “Die Hard Dracula” seem forced enough that they might have been added in after the fact, perhaps once everyone realized how bad the final product was going to be. In particular, the ending feels very unnatural, jarring, and improvised. Then again, most of the movie feels oddly edited and confusing, so the ending almost blends in. I’m not sure if this is a case where the sudden, whiplash-inducing tone shifts between horror and comedy were intended from the original script, or if they are the results of a flubbed attempt to salvage/redirect the movie. In any case, the writing and editing crash together to turn the film into a complete cinematic wreck. Even if all other elements were average or better, this film would have been a failure due to those aspects alone. Fancy trim on a poorly constructed house isn’t going to make for a good home, after all. Unfortunately for the film, not even the trim-work looks good in this mess.

If you are going to make any kind of horror movie, you absolutely must be able to do makeup and practical effects (unless your name is Uli Lommel and you don’t have standards). “Die Hard Dracula” not only has horrible makeup on Dracula, but it fails to be even remotely consistent with his appearance. The closest thing I can liken Dracula’s ever-changing appearance to is how Jason changes his appearance under the hockey mask from one “Friday the 13th” movie to the next.

diehard1 diehard2 diehard3 diehard4As you should probably expect, the acting in this movie is generally horrible. There is one notable exception: Bruce Glover (“Diamonds Are Forever”) plays Dr. Van Helsing, and is the one saving grace of the movie. He chews the scenery like he is sucking life force out of the props, and actually makes the movie watchable while he is on screen. His performance is perhaps the only reason I might consider recommending this movie. He is at the very least a breath of fresh air next to the fellow playing Dracula. Ugh.

I have really only scratched the surface of the landfill of garbage that is this movie. There are flying special effects worthy of “Pumaman”, and a flying coffin sequence that will make you cringe. Dracula even shoots lightning out of his hands like Emperor Palpatine at one point for some reason.

You may notice that I have managed to avoid the plot of this movie so far. That was quite intentional. Honestly, there isn’t an easy way to sum it up sensibly. There is a young man who watches his girlfriend instantly drown in a water skiing accident, after which he goes backpacking in Europe to grieve. He makes a vague wish upon a star that resurrects a drowned woman in eastern Europe. Meanwhile, Dracula exists and starts creeping out the drowned woman’s town. Protagonist-man shows up in the town while back-packing, falls in love with the formerly drowned woman, and volunteers to help Van Helsing kill the local vampire menace. Shenanigans ensue as Van Helsing repeatedly fails to vanquish the vampire to comedic effect. Ultimately, Dracula turns everyone into vampires and they live happily ever after for eternity.

 

It is all pretty much nonsense.

The thing that really gets me about this movie is that I can’t decide if I hate it or love it. It is incompetent on every possible level, and fails miserably at everything it sets out to do. The pacing slows down quite a bit, and there isn’t much entertainment value to be had, but I can’t help but enjoy it in retrospect. I feel similar about this movie as I do about “Leonard Part 6” I suppose: it is a rare case where I enjoy a failed comedy, in just how miserably it fails to be comedic. I also just love Bruce Glover’s performance, which is probably the tipping point for me. I definitely recommend checking out the trailer above: if that seems like something you might enjoy, then check it out.

IMDb Bottom 100: The Album!

After reviewing “Night Train to Mundo Fine”/”Red Zone Cuba” recently (it’ll be up this week), it occurred to me that there are a lot of fantastic (read: awful) musical numbers in the IMDb Bottom 100 movies. So, here is a collection of a dozen songs from 11 IMDb Bottom 100 films. It is by no means an exhaustive list, but this should be a good sampling of what you can expect out of these movies as far as songs go.

Pod People

Girl in Gold Boots

Night Train to Mundo Fine

The Creeping Terror

The Starfighters

Titanic: And The Legend Continues…

Mitchell

The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-up Zombies

Puma Man

Manos: The Hands of Fate

Birdemic: Shock and Terror

IMDb Bottom 100: Disaster Movie

Disaster Movie

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I would like to say that “Disaster Movie” is exactly what you would expect it to be. For the most part, it is. However, it manages to set itself apart from the typical pack of “Movie Movies” that has flooded theaters since the success of “Scary Movie” in 2000. Even compared to fellow Bottom 100 parody “Epic Movie”, “Disaster Movie” is abysmal. In the case of “Epic Movie”, the over-arching plot lampooning “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” at least more-or-less tied the lazy jokes and sequences together, however loosely.

In “Disaster Movie”, in contrast, the connecting plot isn’t itself a parody of anything at all. In a movie so bloated with dated and unnecessary references, the plot of the movie itself fails to lampoon any specific film, instead opting for a dull and generic apocalyptic scenario. Worse yet, the framing just barely manages to move the action along from joke to joke. Essentially, “Disaster Movie” just follows a group of characters as they aimlessly run from location to location. They have a final destination in mind, but the audience has no sense of how close/far from it the characters are at any given time. It drags down the pacing, and sucks all sense of urgency out of the story. Not that anyone actually cared about the story in “Disaster Movie” anyway, though.

Everything else about the movie is generally exactly what you should expect from a “Movie Movie”. Lazy, crass humor is as rampant as the (dated) pop cultural references as they intertwine and mingle throughout the film. Yet, even the references are lazier than you might expect: the central MacGuffin of the plot is a crystal skull from that “Indiana Jones” movie everyone has tried to forget about. At one point, a man clad in a cheap Iron Man Halloween costume suddenly appears on screen, and is subsequently crushed by a falling cow. As best as I can tell, this is a reference to 1996’s “Twister”, a blockbuster that was released well over a decade before this film. The target audience of “Disaster Movie” may not have even remembered “Twister” when this movie came out.

disaster3Perhaps worst of all, towards the end of the film there is a sequence that references the animated movie “Kung-Fu Panda”. In lieu of awkwardly integrating an animated character into the film, there is instead a man dressed in a panda costume who engages in a martial arts fight. Not only is it an unnecessary reference to a children’s movie in an “adult” comedy, but the lazy costume just looks bad (not unlike the previously mentioned Iron Man gag).

disaster2This sort of low quality is basically even across the board in this movie, but most notably in the effects and the writing. The one instance where the movie tries to actually criticize one of its targets winds up being massively hypocritical and jarring. One of the central characters is a very thinly veiled caricature of Juno, the pregnant teenage lead character in the hit movie of the same name. While she is mostly used to make jokes about pregnancy, the writers also attempt to skewer “Juno” by pointing out the laziness of the movie’s humor and pop culture laden dialogue. It should be pretty clear at this point how that criticism is massively hypocritical for a film that consists entirely of pop culture references.

disaster1It should go without saying that I do not recommend that anyone see this movie. There aren’t any laughs to be had here. The most that you can possibly get out of the experience of watching this movie is the feeling of traveling back in time to 2008, and you will immediately realize that it wasn’t worth the trip.

 

IMDb Bottom 100: Gunday

Gunday

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Here is a bit of an unusual situation: I’m going to write about a movie I haven’t seen.

“Gunday” is a 2014 Bollywood movie that hasn’t been made available in Region 1 (or in English) yet. However, it managed to sink all the way to the lowest spot in the IMDb Bottom 100 almost immediately upon release. Seems fishy, doesn’t it?

Well, the folks at FiveThirtyEight took notice, and used their beautiful data-mancy to dig into the story of how (and why) “Gunday” has taken a dominating position in the basement of the IMDb Bottom 100. Check it out here.

They are always handy with an interesting graph

First off, the high number of votes on IMDb for “Gunday” is the result of a social media campaign lobbied against the film. Apparently, there is a particularly offensive depiction of the Bangladeshi revolution in the movie that rubbed a lot of people in the wrong way. In order to bring attention to this (?), some activist Bangladeshis tanked the movie’s IMDb page with 1-star reviews by the thousands. From the FiveThirtyEight post:

“Gunday” offended a huge, sensitive, organized and social-media-savvy group of people who were encouraged to mobilize to protest the movie by giving it the lowest rating possible on IMDb. Of “Gunday’s” ratings, 36,000 came from outside the U.S., and 91 percent of all reviewers gave it one star.

This brings up one of the central issues with the democratic, open-to-all nature of the IMDb’s ratings and rankings. What prevents this sort of mob-influence situation from dishonestly inflating/deflating a movie’s score?

Although there have since been numerous complaints about the down-voting of “Gunday,” IMDb doesn’t seem to be discounting the plethora of low ratings, or at least not yet. IMDB’s head of PR, Emily Glassman, told me that while the site has several built-in safeguards to prevent ballot-stuffing, the policy is not to delete or modify individual ratings from registered users.

“Our approach is not to focus on individual titles or incidents, but to analyze this behavior whenever it occurs and to apply any new learnings to strengthen our voting mechanism, so that the resulting improvements affect all titles/votes in our system rather than just the ones specifically affected by these isolated situations,” she said.

That all sounds appropriately vague and mysterious for the IMDb. Their qualifications for the Bottom 100 are still generally unclear, and have apparently changed a number of times in the past based on the archived lists I’ve found. Currently, a set quota of 1500 votes is needed for a film to qualify for the list, but there are other vague qualifiers that are not explicitly stated. For comparison, this is the formula used to determine the other end of the spectrum, the IMDb Top 250:

W = \frac{Rv + Cm}{v+m}

where:

W\ = weighted rating
R\ = average for the movie as a number from 0 to 10 (mean) = (Rating)
v\ = number of votes for the movie = (votes)
m\ = minimum votes required to be listed in the Top 250 (currently 25,000)
C\ = the mean vote across the whole report (currently 7.0)

The Bottom 100 likely utilizes a very similar formula, although I’ve found different rumors about variables. Just as the quote suggests, I imagine IMDb tinkers with their formulas and ranking system quite a bit, so it is anyone’s guess as to just how the IMDb Bottom 100 precisely functions. I am interested to see if any action is taken to prevent this sort of vote-bombing in the future, and whether “Gunday” will hold that #1 Bottom 100 spot long enough for me to actually get a copy of the film. Who would have thought that this shitty movie challenge would tie into geopolitical activism, algorithms, and statistics so heavily?

I’m planning on watching “Gunday” and reviewing it on its own merits once I can get a hold of a copy with subtitles, but I can’t say for sure when that will be. In the meantime, I figured its rapid plummet to the bottom was interesting enough to justify covering.

IMDb Bottom 100: Hobgoblins

Hobgoblins

hobgoblins

“Hobgoblins” is almost certainly the lowest of the low-budget “Gremlins” knockoffs. The cult-classic status it has now can mostly be attributed to Mystery Science Theater 3000, but I actually thought it was one of the better movies they covered on the show. It is clearly an amateur movie, with scenes going on longer than they should and the low budget making itself known at every opportunity. However, it is pretty far from unwatchable given the circumstances. Considering how cheaply this movie was made, it is hard to hold most of the big issues against it. Even then, there is still plenty to justifiably complain about here.

First off, the monsters themselves look horrible. They are clearly mediocre hand puppets, but that is probably the best they could put together with no money. There are some great hammy moments when the Hobgoblins are attacking or being attacked, but they look so goofy that there is no way to be afraid of them. In “Gremlins”, the gremlins at least looked disturbing and vile, and could be bought as evil creatures. The hobgoblins just aren’t convincing enough or treated with significant gravity by the characters for them to be frightening. Consistently, the hobgoblins fail to put up any kind of fight once they are discovered. The only thing they have going for them in the movie is that they are good at hiding, and can disappear(?) when it is convenient for the plot.

Yep.
Yep.

Speaking of which, the plot actually has some promise in this movie. If there had been a better director on board and some money attached, there are the makings for a mediocre movie here. I like the idea of monsters that can manipulate their victims’ perceptions, but the concept is poorly executed here. Something that doesn’t make sense in this movie is why the victims always die at some point in the fantasy. In the beginning of the movie, the first victim appears to die due to tripping(?) while in his fantasy. It is later explained that the victims just sort of mysteriously and coincidentally die while in their fantasies, but there is never any clear connection made as to why the hobgoblins are killing the people (always by proxy). Do the fantasies power them? If so, why kill the people? Are they predators? Then why don’t they eat the victims? Are they just sort of sadistic? Why? In an episode of the show “Supernatural”, the protagonists run into Djinn on a handful of occasions, who induce hallucinations / dream states to lull their victims, during which they are leeched of their blood. They do a much better job in the show of explaining why the monsters are inducing hallucinations (to steal blood), showing how the monsters create the hallucinations (a toxin), and showing how the victims are ultimately killed (exsanguination). Those things are all important for the audience to know, and are all missing from this movie. I think that was a pretty serious error for this movie that shouldn’t be excused as a rookie mistake or a result of the low budget, it was just short-sightedness or laziness on the part of writer/director Rick Sloane.

The Djinn also look pretty damn creepy
The Djinn also look pretty damn creepy.

I’ve already mentioned that there are a handful of scenes that drag on for too long in this movie, but apart from those (Club Scum and the Rake Fight, for instance), I didn’t think the shots were too horrible in general. There was a little bit of creative framing to fit in the hand-puppet monsters at times, but they didn’t exactly have any other options on the table. I do think the director made plenty of errors and failed to make a good movie here, but it did come out more or less watchable. I think the really shallow writing and thin plot were bigger issues (not to mention the budget/monsters), but since the writer was also the director here, all fault goes to Sloane. I am curious as to why there were so many attempts to inject humor into the movie (they all failed), and if that was initially in the script or added in as an audible after the monsters turned out so badly. All of the “funny” moments felt tacked-on / forced, so that would make sense to me. I’m not sure whether that’s worth applauding for trying to make lemonade from lemons, or criticizing for doing so poorly. If the humor was intended that way to start with though, then that is just jarring, crappy writing.

hobgoblins5
The rake fight in this movie makes the Kirk/Spock fight look like “Crouching Tiger”

Speaking of crappy writing, the dialogue in this movie is miserable. All of the characters are unlikable and sound like they were written by a 13-year-old, all with juvenile motivations and the collective depth of a kiddie pool. Characters in this movie can be described as stereotypes straight out of “Cabin in the Woods”, which might be status quo for this kind of movie, but it lazy none-the-less. The actors are definitely not good, but turning any of these lines into something passable would be squeezing blood from a stone.

No actor in the world can make this look believable.
No actor in the world can make this look believable.

“Hobgoblins” may not be the worst of the MST3k features, but it is definitely bad. I’m tempted to say that it isn’t so bad as to justify a Bottom 100 spot in the IMDb rankings, but I think it cuts pretty close. The crappy monsters, bad dialogue, and generally lazy writing/filmmaking are all worthy of it, but I am tempted to give it the same lenience I would afford a Troma movie, just because it clearly doesn’t take itself seriously. That doesn’t excuse the flaws, but it might give it a reasonable pass as far as Bottom 100 consideration. Given that there are no Troma pictures in the Bottom 100, I’m tempted to think that the IMDb masses would agree. However, the MST3k label is guaranteed to take the rankings for any movie, so I think this one is primarily a victim of that stamp of disapproval.