Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Four Bad Movies

Season of the Witch
Guess what, I finally saw a bad movie from 2011!
Season of the Witch was actually worse than I expected. The movie is not over the top bad but just boring and unexciting. The plot is sort of like The Seventh Seal as an action movie since we have a returning crusader and his partner who must transport a suspected witch to a monastery. I'm not going to get into how historical the movie is as even though it tries to be accurate in some ways overall the movie is pure fantasy and not really trying to be historically accurate.
Nicolas Cage was alright but he is an actor who seems to be only as good as the material he is working with. When he has a good script and director he can be great (Adaptation). But when that doesn't happen the results can be disastrous (The Wicker Man). Now one could argue that actors generally do better when the writing and directing are good and worse when its not, but Cage seems to take this to the extreme.   
Ron Perlman was fun but his character, the partner of the knight played by Cage, simply doesn't have much to do.
While I'm not an expert on cinematic techniques, there appear some obvious day for night scenes that have a bluish tint. Other times its way too dark and hard to see what is going on. I would expect this from a low budget non-Hollywood movie but Season of the Witch had a $40 million budget! I guess all the money went to the salaries of Cage and Perlman. It certainly didn't go to the CGI which looks pretty bad for a mainstream 2011 movie. 
Season of the Witch isn't that bad, but there are a lot of movies worse than it which are a lot more fun to watch. For example, see some of the movies below!

Double Dragon
Double Dragon is stupid as hell but at the end of the day its watchable and fun. I enjoyed seeing this movie a lot more than Season of Witch even though that is a better movie.
The best way to describe Double Dragon is that it is along the lines of Surf Ninjas or the 3 Ninjas series but for a slightly older audience.
This movie is based on the video game of the same name which was a beat 'em up fighting game. Just because something is popular and good in its own medium doesn't mean it will make a good film. The concept just doesn't really work as a movie even though it was a fun game. I did like how the actual arcade game showed up in the movie. That *that* fourth wall!
Our main character is Jimmy Lee (played by Mark Dacascos, a dead ringer for Brandon Lee) who along with his brother Billy Lee must stop an evil ruler named Koga Shuko (played by Robert Patrick) from gaining the other half of a talisman that will allow him to rule the world. While I love Robert Patrick for his role as the T-1000 and in two awesome episodes the 1990s Outer Limits series, he is just plain silly here and feels like a 60s Batman villain.
Alyssa Milano is better known for her work on Television but plays the female lead here. The only other movie I had seen her in is Commando as Arnold Schwarzenegger's daughter! Oddly enough, like Robert Patrick she was also in an episode of The Outer Limits.
There are cameos for Vanna White and Andy Dick who appear as themselves. I'm not sure why, but this movie was so ridiculous it worked.
I was shocked to see that Paul Dini had a writing credit for the story. Now maybe he only he didn't have much to do with the final screenplay or was paid by the studio to simply deliver this dreck, but I couldn't believe that this was the same guy who won Emmy Awards for the writing on Batman: The Animated Series and Tiny Toon Adventures. I re-watched his shows Batman:TAS and Batman Beyond recently and they hold up very well as are surprisingly dark and adult for kids shows.
Double Dragon was a box office failure which shouldn't be a surprise. Still, if you need a fun bad movie to watch with a group of friends, this would be a fine choice.

Yongary, Monster from the Deep
Yongary is essentially the South Korean Godzilla. He looks a lot like Godzilla, with one of the main differences being the horns on his head. Yongary is considered to be a Kaiju film (Japanese for "strange beast" but often translated into English as "monster").
Although Yongary is a pretty bad movie, it is somewhat amusing. Yongary dances after all!
The kid who tries to befriend Yongary is pretty damn annoying but I expected that since I think these movies were meant for children and to sell toys.
The original Korean version of Yongary is lost and the film that exists is the dubbed American version. While my initial reaction to this news was "no big loss," I truly think it is a shame when any film is lost regardless of quality. Maybe a copy of the original version will turn up someday, although I'd like to see London After Midnight first!
Yongary was re-made by South Korea as Reptilian in 1999.

Wing Commander
I had actually seen this before but watched it again with some friends who enjoy bad cinema.
Wing Commander is probably one of the few movies based on a video game in which the game actually had better actors! John Rhys-Davies, Malcom McDowell, and Mark Hamill all provided voices in the games. That said, there are actually some talented actors I like in this movie such as Jurgen Prochnow and David Warner even though they just aren't given much to work with. Here is a weird piece of trivia concerning the cast: Prochnow and Warner were also both in the film In the Mouth of Madness while Wing Commander also features Shaggy (Matthew Lillard) and Freddy (Freddy Prinze Jr.) from the first two live action Scooby-Doo movies. There must have been a 2 for 1 sale on actors in the 90s!
Simon MacCorkindale, known for his TV work such as in the cult show Maninmal, has a small role as "Flight Boss."
Wing Commander was one of three movies that had Phantom Menace trailer attached to it and there are stories of people buying a ticket to the movie and leaving after the trailer. Today we have trailers for movie trailers on the internet. Oh how things have changed in less than 15 years!
Although this is a bad movie I'll give it credit for actually trying with its characterizations even though it ultimately fails. For example, there is a sub-plot that Prinze's character is discriminated against because he is a "pilgrim" but after awhile its just forgotten about. Wing Commander feels like Star Wars meets Starship Troopers with a World War II vibe. Although this sounds cool in theory, it doesn't work out and is a bit of a mess. There is plenty of action but its surprisingly boring. The alien bad guys (a race called the Kilrathi) are not shown until late in the movie. While this is usually a good tactic in film, the silly appearance of the Kilrathi who are basically cat people with Fu Manchu mustaches is a terrible pay-off. After all the build-up throughout the movie I just laughed when I finally saw the Kilthrai.
The director of Wing Commander was Chris Roberts, who also directed the video games. I guess the producers chose Roberts because he knew the material and to give credibility to the fans. I think this was part of the problem as directing a video game is a lot different than directing a film and Roberts hasn't directed anything since.
Like Double Dragon this is a watchable, fun bad movie. I never played the games so I can't say how close it is to the series though.

This post will have a sequel featuring four more bad movies.


  1. I'm a sucker for video game movies even though they usually always rubbish you can guarantee they'll be some brainless fun. Double Dragon is definitely very poor and cheap looking. No white guy should ever play a character called Koga Shuko. It's just doesn't fit right.

    Wing Commander I quite liked when I saw it around the time it was released but I've cooled on it recently. The story is amateurish and Freddie Prinze jr and Matthew Lillard do a really hamfisted jobs as Blair and Maniac. In the video games their characters played by Mark Hammill and Thomas F Wilson (aka Luke Skywalker and Biff Tannen). They were way better.

    That said the score it pretty excellent and I liked the fact they made spaceships seem more like cramped submarines. But then they go and ruin stuff like the physics, why do the fighter jets drop down when they get off the runway - there shouldn't be any gravity?

  2. Off the top of my head the least worst video game movie I've seen is the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. I do think that someday there will be a very good movie based a video game.

    It would've been interesting if they were able to have the Wing Commander cast from the video games be in the movie. I don't think something like that has been done before as far as I know.

    Now that you mention it, the music for Wing Commander was actually pretty good. But as you said, they messed up so much other stuff it didn't really matter.