December 26, 2010

Attack of the 50-Foot Santa!


Thank you for reading the blog! There will be more twisted goodness to come in 2011, assuming that reading this blog hasn't driven you mad already. (Though we're arguably all kind of nuts to begin with.)

A special thanks to Bob, Anita and Stephen for giving me the awesome figurines in the picture above. These figurines are not just plain old B-Movie Victims--they're HORRIFIED B-Movie Victims!

Note that they included the scantily clad bimbo (third from left). WIN!
Back of the package. Clearly this company is staffed by brilliant people.

December 11, 2010

Thor, Hammer of the Gods

Longhouse Improvement Season 3, Episode 11

15-year-old Thor (Zachary Ty Bryan) wants to impress a shieldmaiden who won't give him the time of day. He enlists the help of younger brothers Loki (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) and Baldur (Taran Noah Smith) in forging a larger hammer with more bling. But parents Odin (Tim Allen) and Freya (Patricia Richardson) disapprove of Thor's love interest. Can the boys forge the hammer without the parents finding out, or burning the longhouse to the ground? 
Sadly, the real Thor, Hammer of the Gods is not nearly as interesting as the fake synopsis above. The movie's major claim to fame consists of featuring the baby-faced Zachary Ty Bryan in the title role. Yes, seriously, Brad from "Home Improvement" plays Thor.

The Real Plot Summary

Baldur and Thor (mortal men, not the gods) lead their band to a mysterious land at the ends of the earth. The two brothers claim the land as their new kingdom, but it quickly becomes clear that something is very wrong. Wolfmen start hunting the Vikings. At the same time, Thor begins to see cheesy CGI visions of his namesake. Thor discovers that Loki is behind the nefarious happenings, and that only by finding the Hammer of the Gods (HOG) can he defeat Loki.

Nutrition Facts

Vitamin B-Acting: 70%

Zachary Ty Bryan's Thor comes off as a Southern California dude who got very lost while paddling on his surfboard. The baby face doesn't exactly lend credence to Thor's toughness, either.

The Vikings were known for their liberal use of hair gel, too.

Most of the B-acting credit has to go to Daz Crawford, who plays Ulfrich, the movie's baddie. He's the kind of villain you identify instantly, due to the following characteristics:

1) He has a huge scar, and it's not a "cosmetic cute" scar.
2) He's bald. In an evil way.
3) He always scowls and sneers and never smiles, unless it's an evil smile. 

Crawford easily shows the most life in an otherwise listless cast. I almost wanted to root for him because the others were so deathly boring.

Vitamin B-SFX: 70%

The opening credits are set against drawings of Thor and other Norse-ish scenes. You can judge the art quality for yourself here:

The Thor vision scenes contain painfully obvious CGI, often to hilarious effect. If you ever watch this movie for some nutty reason, look out for the sea beast scene. That's the best example of cheesy CGI.

The camera never lingers long on the wolfmen, for an obvious reason--to hide the fakeness of the costumes. The wolfmen basically consist of regular guys wearing wolf heads.

By contrast, we get a good chunk of time to admire the Fenris wolf (Loki in disguise). This allows us to see the obvious puppetry, and how badly synchronized its speech and mouth movements are.

Vitamin Fun: 20%

This is a boring, boring movie. At least 75% of the "action" onscreen consists of marching, waiting for an attack, or introspective moments.

Sugar: 5%

Ulfrich's girlfriend really loves Zach--I mean, Thor. I actually felt kind of sorry for Ulfrich at this point. His gal leaves him for Brad from Home Improvement. How sad is that?

Plot Fiber: 40%

The basic plot is fine by mythology standards, though the pacing severely cripples the story. But the casting of Zachary Ty Bryan as Thor is what really destroyed whatever credibility this movie had.

"I have a big, shiny hammer..."

December 4, 2010

Triassic Attack

What better than to start the month of December with a movie featuring skeletal dinos running amok? Nothing more Christmassy than that! 

Plot Summary 

In Mill City, Stayton University is about to open a huge new research compound. Unfortunately for the locals, building the compound means tearing down things like the Cowichan Indian Museum, run by Dakota (Raul Trujillo). Dakota calls upon the Great Spirit to teach the university a thing or two, but the Spirit takes up residence in the skeletons of a T-Rex, a raptor (the movie-sized kind), and a pteranodon. The dinos escape and start preying on the citizens of Mill Lake. The town sheriff, Jake (Steven Brand), must team up with his estranged wife Emma (Kirsty Mitchell) to save his daughter and the town from the rampaging skeletons.

Vitamin B-Acting: 30%

Everybody puts in average acting--nothing special in the way of hamminess or a spectacular lack of acting. Except for Lincoln Frager, who plays up all the negative frat stereotypes as much as he can.

Come to think of it, Wyatt (Gabriel Womack) injected a nice big dose of idiosyncrasy into the story. It also doesn't hurt that Wyatt is the owner of the movie's token dog, an adorable pug. (Of course the pug lives.) Anyway, Wyatt gives other characters helpful advice, like telling them to roll in cow poop because the dinos hate the smell.

But women LOVE L'Eau de Merde.
Vitamin B-SFX: 100% 



They snarl and roar despite a distinct lack of vocal chords, lungs or anything else besides bone. Whenever the skeletons get blown apart, they magically reform. The crowning moment occurs when the T-Rex and pteranodon skeletons recombine to form a Ptyrannodon Rex. A flying T-Rex--most awesome, Syfy!

Hey, they have bad breath too!

Vitamin Fun: 70%

The dinos are great fun, but as usual for Syfy movies, the dino-less scenes tend to drag. I found Frat Boy's death quite gratifying, but sadly the movie's version of the Evil Businessman (a university president) gets redeemed instead of eaten. Ptyrannodon Rex must not have gotten the memo from the Great Spirit to kill ALL the sexist jerks. Bad P-Rex! Bad!

Sugar: 40%

Will Jake and Emma rediscover their love for each other? Will Jake make peace with his brother Dakota? Can the quirky locals of Mill City and the university learn to coexist in a mutually beneficial way? In other words, will Mill City's tourist traps survive?

Plot Fiber: 0%

Really, what other rating can I give this movie's Plot Fiber? I did have fun remembering how I used to imagine the skeletons at the Field Museum coming to life when I was a kid, though. Unfortunately, it just doesn't happen even if a bunch of Indian artifacts and 100,000 volts of electricity are at hand.

Pseudoscience Pill--NA

Political Pill: 70%

Dakota sums up this movie's political tensions perfectly in this line:

"If you side with the elite, you side with EVIL!"

"Elite" covers all the various, stereotyped political and social threads that make an appearance--Indians vs. whites, old ways vs. new ways and locals vs. big business. I know it's a university and not a big business like Wal-Mart, but honestly, the movie treats it exactly the same as it would an evil oil company or a greedy biotech company.