Earlier in 2014 a filmed titled “The Legend of Hercules” was released and it was absolutely terrible. Especially it leading star Kellan Lutz who was incapable of showing any personality and acting talent in the title role. If you were to tell me “The Legend of Hercules” was knockoff by “The Asylum” I would believe you, except “The Asylum” actually managed to make a better Hercules movie with significantly less money. The saddest part being if there was actually more effort put into it’s screenplay and production it could have been entertaining.
Hercules Reborn follows Arius seeking help from the mythical hero Hercules to save his wife and his town from it’s new maniacal king. Despite his name being in the title Hercules is not the film’s protagonist. Instead it’s Arius in a conflict that gets resolved in a by the number fashion. Protagonist power hungry mentor betrays protagonist by kidnapping his wife and killing off the current holders of power, protagonist goes to seek help from a famous character in the same job field to help him in his rebellion, but upon first impression in seeing the legendary figure is a pathetic drunk or in a pathetic state he loses some hope. Until a moment arrives to prove his identity in a situation requiring him to save the protagonist and the legendary character takes a chance to redeem their name to his/her former glory. Just giving that rough summarization on the first act is enough for experience film viewers and storytellers to predict how the film will play out. There’s no twists of any sort to the story that is dead set on a straightforward delivery. Like every character in the film Arius is unengaging. Characters are one dimensional so there’s not much to read into and motivations are strip down to the lowest common denominator. Everything is kept at a basic level simultaneously committing the screenwriting crime of being rush and lingering too much on something established. Whenever there’s any possible room for characterization it’s rush and whenever you’re given a scene where you know the purpose it’ll linger on it. Clearly that’s some backward thinking in screenwriting. That’s not even taking into account the story doesn’t take advantage of Hercules as a character. In the film, he’s not a demi-god going on fantastical adventure based on any of his famous stories. While the intention was clearly made to make Hercules more grounded as a character it’s a decision that horrifically backfires especially when providing no characters of any depth. If given more time to fleshed plot devices and characters the film would have had an okay story. With some developed characters it would made the predictable journey feel less dull and uneventful.
Now on this corner we hear there are stories that claim this man is a God, has the strength of twenty men, and is a nearly unstoppable warrior. The actor that plays Hercules is none other than John Hennigan, or as some wrestling fans might him as WWE Superstar John Morrison. John Hennigan is not a good actor when he has to speak, but the script he’s provided requires more of his physical mannerism than actual line delivery. Despite his physical appearance Hennigan understands how to play the pathetic aspect of his character usually stumbling whenever his character is drunk. His inability to maintain his composure when drunk helps with the illusion that maybe Hennigan is not that great of a warrior. He’s also convincing in his action scenes, though it would be nice if the director knew how framed or shoot an action scene. Hennigan only falters in his line delivery, but his performance is above average since Hannigan knows how to portray the character on a physical standpoint. The only other actor that might register with viewer is James Duval (Frank the Rabbit from Donnie Darko) who gives a bad performance. He’s very off in his comedic timing and shares no chemistry with any other actor on set. Than there’s Christina Ulfsparre who’s nothing more eye candy on screen. Her scenes don’t amount to much aside from showing her in peril as the token damsel in distress. Finally Christian Oliver is the leading man and he’s bland. Oliver is given a typical role with little range to do show more emotion. Action scenes on the other hand are all terrible. In every single action scene the camera is way too close to making it difficult to make out what’s going on and the choreography behind the action scene is atrocious. Looking as if they were the rehearsal take instead of the actual finalize action scene. Adding to the bad action scenes is a shaky camera that makes it that much harder to enjoy an scene if in the faint chance you can make it something out of it. As for the editing, that’s also terrible with too many frequent cuts destroying any sort of flow in the action scene. Another issue is something I never expected to criticize. This film lack of extra hurts the grand scope it wants to pretend to have. The lack of numbers makes everything smaller, in particular to the ancient cities when depicting a crowd at most you’ll see on screen close to twenty. Although, knowing the studio history to be cheap it’s a surprised the location the film shot at gives off the ancient city vibe it’s trying capture.
Hercules Reborn is a knockoff and there’s no hiding that fact, but as a film it falls victim to being uninspired dull trite instead of an entertaining B movie “The Asylum” more often gets wrong than it does right. It could have been entertaining if more effort was put into it. There’s little for viewers of all kind to gain, especially those into B movies will find the film lacking inspiration in anything it does.
Last week I had the pleasure of seeing mockbuster “Android Cop” which for all it flaws was just a cheap action movie. Now imagine me trying to absorb the existence that is “Apocalypse Pompeii” from the same studio “The Asylum”. From a business standpoint why out of all the blockbusters to make a knock off from would someone pick Paul W.S. Anderson “Pompeii”? Then again, why question the logic of a studio whose name is “The Asylum”.
Apocalypse Pompeii is about a former Special Ops commando visiting Italy when his wife and daughter are trapped in the ruins of Pompeii when Mt. Vesuvius erupts with massive force. Okay a premise like that has to be interesting right? How can’t it be when you have a special ops commando fighting the forces of a Volcano to look for his family. Well the film finds a way and much like Mt. Vesuvius it’s a disaster of magnitude force. Logic is broken and no I’m talking about the lava which roars in one scene. By sheer luck it just turns out the special ops daughter just so happen to read about Volcanoes all her life. This wouldn’t be a problem except for the fact despite two loud, Earth shaking warnings no one on the tour to Pompeii ruins bother to get back a tour bus and head back to Italy. Once the actual disaster starts (the Volcano eruption, not the film) everything becomes a snooze fest. Switching between the daughter leading everyone on the tour to safety while the special ops father finding a way to save his family. Neither of the characters are interesting to follow. The synopsis is about as much development you’ll get for the special ops father and a couple of lines for his daughter. He’s a boring father always with a one tracked much like his personality only unable to say anything other than exposition. His side of the story is dull unable to get behind him when not only does his team blow up part of a military base, but also steals a Helicopter illegally. Okay I understand it’s his family he’s trying to safe, but I’m sure not getting court martial nor possibly a life in prison sentence for attacking a military base is more important for your family too. As for the daughter her side of the events are equally just as dull. Everything works out because of plot convenience not by smart thinking. She’s a walking deus ex machina fixing problems whenever they occurred. As a whole the film is shallow, dull, questionable, and uneventful in just about every single minute it last.
Acting on the other hand is just as shallow and one dimensional. Adrian Paul (who I named Not Liam Neeson) is more lifeless than a corpse. He shows no emotion like a rock, has about the same amount of charisma as the grim reaper, and acting chops as visible as air. He’s not a good leading actor to put it more bluntly. Georgina Beedle (who I named Not Amanda Seyfried) is one dimensional, unconvincing, and like Adrian Paul has the charisma of death. Come to think of it this whole cast is filled with actors you would find in films as extra with no lines. Direction is uninspired as the people desperately try to overcome the disaster that is SHAKY CAMQUAKE. No amount of cheap CG can hide the fact that the actors are looking at giant note cards that tell them “Fall down like an idiot”. Just about everything from the production is immensely underwhelming.
Apocalypse Pompeii is the worst kind of knock off that fails as an original creation to entertain and as imitation resembles nothing it’s copying. Desperately making the viewer want to reach the finish line as this is one disaster of a film that can take lives…maybe not, but it’ll most likely put you in a comma due to sheer magnitude of boredom.
Last year I reviewed “Atlantic Rim” a low budget (and lower quality) version of blockbuster “Pacific Rim”. Needless to say “Atlantic Rim” had no ambition of any kind therefore the absence of fun was prominent upon filmmakers making it to the audiences watching it. This year it’s “Android Cop” a lower budget version of 2014’s “RoboCop” remake which from a technical and narrative standpoint fails to grab my attention in any form. Unfortunately “Android Cop” also fails in telling a story and from a technical standpoint the word “cheap” never leaves your mind.
Android Cop is set in the year 2045, a Los Angeles Police Department detective and his new Android partner enter the Zone, a forbidden section of the city plagued with an unknown disease to look for the mayor daughter. As far as a plot goes if you could physically put together bad pieces from any bad action movie you would have created this film plot. Two things stand out immediately; one is how it safely sticks to its genre boundaries with no variation on what it does and another being no understanding of humanity. Listen I’m no cop nor expert on human psychology, but who in the right mind thinks talking about organ donation is the way to convince someone not jump off a building. If that wasn’t enough “Android Cop” also fails to rip off elements of the film its trying to copy. It’s more in the line of a bad buddy cop film than a “RoboCop” rip-off. Usually in good buddy cop films there’s a balance between two characters strengths and weaknesses, but in this film we get two protagonists who are incompetent at their jobs. In one situation we have the android cop in a hostage negotiation and the way he solves the problem involves a grenade. This moment goes to prove the android stupidity further since the weapon he carried was a long range rifle. Character development is swallowed in particular an important characteristic of a protagonist is revealed through a laughably bad twist. As dumb as the film characters might be they do say goofy things. My personal favorite that even in context makes no sense is “We got them locked up tighter than a Frog’s ass in a tsunami”. Recycled bad plot points from bad action movies and laughably bad dialogue together creates a plot more artificial any machine.
The action scenes of the film are weak and the low budget is no excuse for it. Transit (2012) is an example of a low budget film whose few car oriented action scenes can match a Hollywood blockbuster visually and technically. “Android Cop” on the other hand just looks cheap. During gunfights we hear hundred of shots being fired and maybe see four or five bullets make contact with anything solid. Worst being the gunfights mostly consist of cover and shooting without any tactical mix up from our heroes or villain who are trained in armed combat. That’s not taking into account the fact no bullets holes remain during or after a gunfight. Action scenes involving any kind of vehicle looks unfinished and in certain moments are hilarious. Fights scenes on the other hand is one sided with the stars never getting hit. Mark Atkins direction is simple and during the action scenes Atkins refuses to make them visually interesting. Michael Jai White is a uncompelling lead. His tough guy performance makes his character forgettable, although when it comes to goofy moments his tough guy performance makes it funny. Randy Wayne is lifeless. I understand he plays an android; however, he has no personality of any kind keeping one blank, soulless expression during the whole film. Wayne costume on the other hand just appears to be heavy armor and nothing about its design gives off the vibe Wayne is an android. Although Randy Wayne lifeless and motionless performance does do the job convincing us he’s a machine better than his costume. Music is forgettable and editing is underwhelming.
Android Cop looks and feel cheap. Action scenes are poorly done, acting is one note, story is a collection of bad movies ideas, and direction is uninspired. As poorly made as it is at least its watchable and contains some entertaining moments if unintentional, but even with that it’s not really much of a film with a goal to reach.
Sunday School Musical is about a soulful African American singer-dancer who brings life to straightlaced, slightly off-key white choir. Containing an abundant amount of cliches you’ll know everything that will happen without devoting all your attention to it. Something the film does poorly is understanding the idea of conflict. Every conflict introduced is dealt nonchalantly fixed easily within minutes or within the same scene. Even the major conflict of Zach (the film’s protagonist) not being able to sing at his Church is unintentionally resolved eliminating the film reason to have a plot. At the start of the film we learn that Zach’s mother lost her job and the entire family has to move with their aunt on the other side of town. Now according to dialogue within the same scene that would be forty five minutes away. Forty five minutes that Zach would spent to get back to the same side of town just to pout on a roof and makes frequent return to this one roof where apparently all the hip Church choir singers go to hang out. Creating a film that has nothing going for it. All that’s left is a serie of tire cliches (two opposing team working together in the finals, shoehorned in testaments, and the results of who wins). With no real conflict the characters have nothing to learn from, nothing to conquer, and nothing that to make them rounded characters. Blinded by constructing a series of bad narrative choices the film’s has an unintended undertone message that the blacker you are the better you are at singing. It comes across that way as in the beginning of the film a white choir doesn’t improve until Zach joins the team making them better and the reigning champions is an all black choir. Intentional or not the film seems to be unable to do anything correctly even doing the most basic of story elements correctly is too difficult for it.
Now like all musicals the songs themselves are just as important as how they are incorporated into the film. Music is prominent in the beginning of the film only to mess up its own pacing going long duration without a musical number. Songs in “Sunday School Musical” have less depth than the most generic pop songs. Lazily written the songs meaning are easy to grasps, but never come across with the intended purpose. One song titled “You’re Not the Boss” is literally about two characters singing about who’s more annoying. Singing the following hurtful insults “If I play the piano louder than they’ll never hear a thing.”, “You’re the not boss. A high school superstar.”, “We need more talent if want to compete”, and my favorite one “Zach can crack a egg and make swell pie.”. These lyrics alone out of context are goofy, but together in a single song it becomes painful to listen. All the songs in the film suffer from the same rhythms of problems. The lyricist of these songs I’m convinced and you will too after listening to a single track know nothing about music. Easily the worst song titled “In My Shoes” best embodies everything that is musically wrong about the musical aspect. Being a self proclaim “Maniac” I was crazy enough to listen to it multiple times to include a partial outline of the song in my review. So after Zach explains to his friend Savannah situation that led him to moving to the other side of town the followings lines of text are sang. Now tell me if these sound like good people.
Zach: ♫Hold up one minute! Do you think I want it this way? Gotta leave my friends. Dis my plan. Pack and move away. I thought that you would hold me down. I see now it’s all about you. OHOHOHO!♫
Savannah: ♫Wait, wait, wait a second boy. You’re not going to turn this around on me. When you’re the one skipping town. Right before we finally get the chance to go to state. Guess that ain’t important to you? Oh boy.♫
Zach: ♫If you really cared than you wouldn’t talk that way.♫
Savannah: ♫And if you didn’t want to leave than you would to stay.♫
Unable to overcome its low budget restraints everything ends up looking cheap. The school Zach attends are empty that one could have easily mistaken the film to have taken place post apocalypse. Choreography is limited to the location as actors will mostly move around in circles in the same location. Performing dance moves that have been done a million times. Acting leaves plenty to be desire since the actors have no personality they come across as unlikable. Delivery every lines in monotone voice. The line delivery in this film is more lifeless than a cemetery. As for the Christian elements of the film they are all shoehorned in. Christianity is hardly discuss in the film nor are its belief ever touch upon. As an audience we never understand the reason for behind the characters choosing this religion. The most Christian this film gets is with the forced Bible quotes.
Sunday School Musical has nothing for the audience its trying to appeal for. The songs are lazily written quickly forgotten from your thoughts once they end, the actors lack personality with mediocre performances, and there’s hardly any kind of Christian content in the film. It’s a cheap cash grab that while laughably bad at times only encourages viewer to stop watching. Ending up bad song that loops for ninety mintues.