Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Un-American Pterodactyl in Paris, or: The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec

Romance week with Christa, aka crazy French adventure comedies with mummies and pterodactyls!

The Film:

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

A young French reporter seeks adventure, a cure for her sister, and pterodactyls in early 20th-century Paris.

The Trailer:

The Uncondensed Version:

To be 100% honest, you can probably just look at this poster and stop reading:

A movie poster shows a woman in a dress riding on the back of a pterodactyl

However, I did write this 1,000 word blog post, so it would be cool if you read it.

As our narrator is kind enough to point out, there are a lot of minor but important characters in this particular film. The first one we meet is soon going to witness some quite remarkable events transpire: 1. Joan of Arc seemingly coming to life and burning again, and 2. a French official, his lover, and his driver crashing into the Seine as a result of a pterodactyl attack. Seriously.

There’s a clueless French inspector investigating this crime…hmmm, I don’t know if I should be reviewing this film on my blog, which is NAMED after a film about a clueless French inspector. Sometimes Christa’s choices are too perfect and I’m afraid she might be a cyborg.

Finally we get an introduction to Adèle, a globe-trekking reporter, and Andrej, a young scientist who is a teensy bit in love with her.

It becomes clear pretty early on that Adèle is kind of the female French version of Sherlock Holmes/Indiana Jones/the entire cast of characters in The Mummy. We meet her as she’s excavating (prob more like raiding) the tomb of a pharaoh. However, she has noble intentions: she must revive an ancient Egyptian doctor to save her sick sister (what).

Just as she’s opened the sarcophagus, her arch-rival with a long fucking French name I can’t remember bursts in looking…basically exactly like a 20th-century French arch-rival should look like.  Adèle manages to escape by starting a fire, jumping into the sarcophagus, and escaping down a waterfall that ends in a whirlpool.

A woman in period clothing stands in a tomb with 3 men, saying "Allow me to save my emotion for later."
If I had a nickel for every time I had to save my emotion for later…

Meanwhile, in Paris, Adèle’s mentor and friend, who is a physicist, manages to befriend and train the pterodactyl. Unfortunately, when the police discover the pterodactyl in his apartment, the physicist is arrested for the murder of the aforementioned French official.

Adèle returns to Paris to some super French accordion music, revealing the mummy to her sister.  Because the physicist is her friend and she needs him to bring the mummy back to life(?), Adèle adopts several disguises in order to save him from a death sentence. By the time she is successful, he has been moved to a new location in preparation for his death by guillotine.

Further complication: a world-famous (or at least France-famous) hunter returns from a trip to Africa in order to take care of the pterodactyl problem; once again, the utter 20th-century French-ness does not disappoint. Shortly after, he and the clueless inspector go up the Eiffel Tower, where the inspector EATS A FUCKING BAGUETTE to this really fucking French music. Then, looking for places where the pterodactyl could’ve gotten its meal of mutton, the hunter and inspector go to the most fucking idyllic French farm. The hunter accidentally shoots a sheep, and both Frenchmen make SHEEP HOODIES. Having seen Far from the Madding Crowd just yesterday, I am prepared for the sheep violence to END. I am just steps away from joining PETA, you guys.

two men with facial hair wear sheepskins, complete with faces, over their hats

In one final attempt to save the physicist, Adèle asks the president for a pardon. The pterodactyl ruins everything by swooping down and grabbing the president’s dog in its claws (talons?). THANK CHRIST the dog is still alive later in the film or my post would’ve probably focused on unnecessary animal deaths and demanding an end to the cruelty.

At this point I lost track of the plot a little b/c I had to save what I thought was a baby caterpillar but was probably a baby centipede. So once again I regretted an act of mercy and had to look at pictures of ocelot kittens to make myself feel better. (I discovered that fishing cat kittens are also really adorable.)

a picture of 3 fishing cat kittens
Life = made.

Suffice it to say the poster on Netflix is NOT misleading for once, and Adèle does, in fact, ride the pterodactyl to save the physicist.

He manages to bring the mummy back to life (I understand the role of physicists even less than I previously thought), but both physicist and pterodactyl die in the process.

Adèle is unpleasantly surprised to discover the mummy is not a doctor, but a nuclear physicist.

A mummy wearing a suit and tophat asks, "After 5,000 years in a tomb, can't I have some fun?"
He has a point, though…

She reveals that her sister is in a vegetative state because their friendly tennis match got competitive and Adèle hit her sister in the head with a tennis ball. (I’m sorry, but the only thing going through my head at this point was the Salad Days sketch from Monty Python.)

A scene from Monty Python's Flying Circus in which a tennis racket protrudes from the stomach of a woman in period clothing
I do not apologize.

The mummy promises to find someone who can help Adèle’s sister, and the three head over to the Louvre. That’s all I will say because I really liked this one and I don’t want this post to end up being a novella.

Also there’s a pretty entertaining twist at the end that I don’t want to spoil.

Okay, I’m going to spoil it almost entirely, but worth it:

The Critique:

I had high expectations for this film, and, for once, my biggest takeaway was NOT to lower my expectations. This is a fun, silly movie, and it’s SO fucking French, you guys. So fucking French.

You’ll probably think of me as essentially a 10-year-old boy now, but every time the pterodactyl showed up I thought, “FUCK YEAH PTERODACTYL.” Whatever, guys. I don’t need your approval.

My only question here, and I’m sure this is influenced by my recent viewing of Far from the Madding Crowd (so fucking good), is WHY MUST THE SHEEP ALWAYS SUFFER AND DIE? I watched so many sheep die this weekend.

The Rating:

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink Panther 4/5 Pink Panther Heads

I don’t always understand you, Frenchies, but our connection is profound.

Check out Christa’s review here!

P.S. Just to give you an idea of the kind of nonsensical notes I take: “Meanwhile, the hunger is following them and this the pterodactyl.”

NOW do you appreciate how hard I work to write a (mostly) coherent blog post in complete sentences???

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

The Machine, a Film by Energy Beam Brontë*

*Stolen from an article on The Toast

Second week of Sci-Fi/Fantasy-a-Thon with Christa!

This week I picked The Machine.

True story:  I am having such a Monday that I was finished with this post by 4:00 PM EST but forgot to post until now.

The Film:

The Machine

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

Mr. Rochester A scientist builds a self-aware cyborg in a cold war arms race. Moody staring ensues.

The Uncondensed Version:

I’m warning you now that this post is largely me freaking out about Toby Stephens, but if you can’t appreciate the man who is the closest living embodiment of Mr. Rochester, you are not welcome on this blog (yes, you are. Mostly).

Soooooooooooooo at an unspecified time in the future there’s a cold war between the UK and China. Probably the US as well b/c we really don’t like to be left out of that kind of thing. Just as in the earlier cold war, the two chief weapons are fear, espionage, and cyborgs. Three. Our three chief weapons are fear, espionage, and cyborgs. Apparently whoever builds the most badass cyborg wins the war and everyone can go home.

Toby Stephens, god love him, is just way too committed to scientific research to live in a time of war. He’s helping develop a self-aware cyborg, but he doesn’t want it to be a robot Nazi superweapon. We get our first glimpse of Rochester Vincent working on Paul, one of his experiments. Paul wakes up to a gentle hand on his shoulder and Toby Stephens asking, “Hello, do you know your name?”

A man rests his arm on the shoulder of a seated man, looking at him intently.
No, I don’t. Please remind me.

Paul is a man who was shot in the head and has gotten a cyborg brain implant. Rochester VINCENT is giving him cyborg awareness tests involving empathy when Paul gives him a hug…and a stab in the chest!


A man bathed in red light lies on his back.
Okay, but damn…it’s unfair how good Toby Stephens looks even after being fake stabbed in the chest.

Like any good movie scientist, being stabbed just motivates him even MORE. Somewhat unethically, Vincent makes up a fake grant so he can recruit people with the most promising cyborgs. Basically everyone sucks except for blonde young American Ava. Weird that I don’t want him to hook up with blondie largely b/of blonde Blanche in the 2006 Jane Eyre?

Also Jarndyce from Bleak House is his boss; I think I need to drop everything and marathon Jane Eyre/Bleak House. If I started now I could be done by…10 am tomorrow morning.

Vincent doesn’t really care that much about cyborgs, honestly, but he thinks the technology can help his daughter with a rare genetic disorder. He and Ava make some progress until suddenly the Chinese assassinate her, which Jarndyce may have participated in.

So Vincent decides to make a robot version of Ava even though she didn’t want her face to be used in any of the cyborg inventions. IDK, I wouldn’t really have a problem with my face being used on assassin robots when I’m dead.

Welllllllllll, until they decide to fuck with her emotions and put a spider jar over her face. Also they have a dude in a clown mask approach her and she fucking kills him, DUH. For some reason Vincent is surprised/upset that she killed the fucker in a clown mask. SHE’S MORE HUMAN THAN ANY OF YOU. THIS IS LIKE BATTLESTAR GALACTICA ALL OVER AGAIN.

A person in a scary clown mask looms in a dark room.

Also it’s becoming apparent that Ava is suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuper into Vincent and he does not reciprocate. It’s so very cringeworthy.

At this point, the plot takes a sinister turn as Jarndyce manipulates Ava and Vincent in order to create a perfect killing machine.

That’s all I will say because at some point between Toby Stephens scenes, I realized I was actually enjoying this one quite a bit. There were times when the plot could’ve been more fast-paced, and the action scenes were kind of terrible. Honestly, I thought this was just going to be another bad cyborg flick, but it was reasonably interesting and…thought-provoking even?

The Critique:

Important Toby Stephens Moments Ranked by Rochester-iness:

5.  After Ava goes exploring in the top-secret military base, Toby Stephens tells her not to get “lost” again: “There are a lot of secrets down here in the dark, and I don’t want you to get hurt.” This is practically verbatim what Rochester tells Jane EVERY TIME she has a fucking question.

4.  Any time he says the word “fuck.” I know Mr. Rochester never actually said the word fuck in Brontë’s final draft (those damn censors, man), but I suspect he would really understand and appreciate the value of yelling the word “fuck.”

3. When Ava the cyborg does a fucking naked dance in front of him and he’s just kind of like “eh.” It’s Bertha Mason all over again. YOU’RE KILLING HER WITH YOUR INDIFFERENCE.

2.  Vincent to Ava: “Some people can’t give up hope even though deep down they know it’s hopeless.” THAT IS ON THE ROCHESTER FAMILY FUCKING CREST, I SWEAR TO GOD. Along with “Any suspicious thud you hear is a drunk old woman, NOT a crazy wife secretly living in the attic. Unless you have written documentation.”

1.  Every time he looks moodily at a wall or out a window (in terms of screen time, probably at least 1/3 of this movie).

A man in a dimly lit room stares moodily into the distance.

The Rating:

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink Panther 4/5 Pink Panther Heads

Robots + Mr. Rochester. I feel angels crafted this movie from my dreams.

See what Christa thinks in her review here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

The Brass Teapot, or: What Is Pain?

Prepare yourself for Extreme Makeover: Jillian & Christa’s Great Blog Collab Edition. This week introduces themes for our bad movie fest! We’ve been striking out with our last couple of films, so we decided to switch things up a bit and watch something besides our usual horror. The next two films will be Sci-Fi/Fantasy, starting with Christa’s pick for this week!  Check out her review here!

The Film:

The Brass Teapot

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

A newlywed couple faces all sorts of ethical dilemmas when they discover a teapot that gives them money for their pain.

The Trailer:

The Uncondensed Version:

So the beginning of this movie is your basic Intro to Art History: weepy women and serious dudes with ruffs edition. What do all of these images have in common? BRASS FUCKIN’ TEAPOT.

But our story isn’t (entirely) about people glaring in paintings throughout history; it’s about John and Alice (Juno Temple), impoverished newlyweds in smalltown ‘Murica. John works very unhappily as a telemarketer, while Alice struggles unsuccessfully to find a job (TOO REAL).

It becomes apparent pretty quickly that this entire town is a giant high school divided into the popular clique and the loser clique. The only friends Alice and John have are similarly broke nerds whose names I have already forgotten.

Alice and John’s luck suddenly changes, however, when Alice sees THE BRASS TEAPOT at this little antique shop and steals it. She discovers money appears in the teapot whenever she hurts herself. Though John has just gotten fired, it seems all of their financial woes are over as long as both are willing to hurt themselves. Least favorite is having dental work done with no Novocaine. That scene made me realize that is probably one of my phobias.

In complication #1 of many, John takes the teapot on The Antiques Roadshow. I don’t know why—I really don’t.

an appraiser and a young man look at an ornate teapot on the set of the show The Antiques Roadshow
Also the appraiser values this ancient magical teapot at $5,000. HOW.

This brings the teapot to the attention of that Asian guy in movies who always shows up and warns people they’re in danger. In this one his name is Dr. Ling.

Also, as a side note, Kenneth from 30 Rock is Alice’s brother-in-law. To be honest, Jack McBrayer deserved a bigger role in this movie, but I will inevitably say that about every movie. True to type, Kenneth grins a lot and works for a nonprofit saving tree snails.

a man and woman sit at a table, with the man passing a bowl of salad to his left

Another complication: the lady who owned the antique shop dies, and her grandsons come looking for the teapot, which she saved from the Nazis. So yeah, there’s a scene where Hasidic Jews beat up John and make threats over A TEAPOT.

John and Alice conduct some serious research at the library (libraries in popular culture!). This involves, of course, a librarian shushing them (I have never shushed anyone in my life). All of this stereotype-busting aside, I’m really upset Alice TEARS A PAGE OUT OF A LIBRARY BOOK. AND it’s because she doesn’t want John to access information about the teapot’s unsavory effects, which is CENSORSHIP. In the library world, this is the equivalent of being a genocidal maniac. Shame on you, Alice. SHAME.

a woman wearing glasses shushes people in a library
QUIET, THIS IS A LIBRARY…is a thing librarians are no longer allowed to say.

So anyway, since she’s now rich and successful, Alice gets her popular girl makeover and throws popular girl parties she invites Alexis Bledel to.

Dr. Ling crashes their party to warn Alice and John about the teapot’s dangers, but obviously they ignore him.

The situation escalates when the two realize they can make money just by watching people get hurt. Another way to achieve the same result is to become an insurance sales agent, or perhaps that’s overly cynical (it’s not). Additionally, hurting each other emotionally is a valid option. Next step = hurting other people emotionally/airing their dirty laundry.

A man and woman walk down a suburban street. The woman is carrying a teapot.
Apparently sudden wealth turns you into a yuppie hipster.

Alice is becoming increasingly obsessed with the teapot and wants to go for one big score, which will involve killing a drug dealer or pedophile. John says it’s me or the teapot, essentially, and later throws himself from the second floor of their house with the teapot. Immediately after Alice promises to get rid of the teapot, someone breaks in and takes it.

Should I tell you about the ending? I’m going to tell you about the ending, if only so I can bitch about it.

The creepy landlord, Arnie, is the one who took the teapot, and Alice and John have to retrieve it as they’ve basically given Sauron the ring.

John attempts to fight Arnie with a rolling pin; however, the Hasidic Jews come in demanding the teapot. When Arnie refuses, they shoot him and his girlfriend but LEAVE THE TEAPOT SITTING THERE. PLOT HOLES.

Alice (who is suddenly pregnant) and John give the teapot to Dr. Ling and leave town.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand we basically get the Titanic ending for the teapot in that it is thrown into the ocean, never to be seen again.

The Critique:

Biggest problems with this movie were the number of plot holes, the attitude towards nerds (plus in general the bland, stereotyped characters), and the ending. I will spare you my complaints about the plot holes, but just know that I’m not going to let it go that the grandsons committed double homicide for the teapot AND THEN JUST LEFT IT. THAT DOESN’T MAKE ANY FUCKING SENSE.

On stereotyping, especially of the nerd variety, John kept referencing LOTR and Alice kept teasing him for being a nerd as a result. Is that really a nerd thing to do? If you ask me, that is a HUMAN thing to do because seriously, those movies are fun to watch, and if you say otherwise I think you’re lying to yourself.

Also, EVERYONE kept saying the teapot would turn on them and unleash its terror, but that never actually happened. Alice stole a fucking cursed object and nothing bad really happened to her or John??? Someone could’ve at least lost a pinky.

The Rating:

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink Panther 3/5

I considered a lower score because I’m still hung up on how much I hated the ending.

I’m starting to sound like the Duke in Moulin Rouge, but I don’t care. I can live with that.  LET ZIDLER KEEP HIS FAIRYTALE ENDING.

gif of a man with a moustache saying "I don't like this ending"

…but I like to read Christa’s thoughts on her blog!  (I think you can say your blog is endorsed by a duke now, Christa.)

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

The Monkey’s Paw: or, Gators Will Crash Your Car

A new week, a new part of Jillian & Christa’s Great Blog Collab 2015!

I am to blame for this week’s travesty. See what Christa thought over here!

The Film:

The Monkey’s Paw

Where to Watch:


The Premise:

The short story of the same name, aka the story that inspired that episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark?, gets the bad movie treatment.

The Trailer:

The Uncondensed Version:

Young boy, parents fighting, wanders downstairs and finds his father lying on the floor. His dying father, clutching the monkey’s paw, warns (in a really bad Southern accent) “Don’t play with fate, boy.”  Are you scared yet???  No?  Yeah, don’t hold your breath.

Cut to the present day, where we follow Jake, employee at some kind of industrial factory/warehouse in N’Awlins. He works with a couple of all right dudes, Cobb and Catfish (Corbin Bleu again???), and a couple of dicks, Gillespie and the big boss man (Kevin, but who even cares).

Actor Corbin Bleu looks over his shoulder in a scene, wearing a camouflage baseball cap and a sleeveless vest.
I realize I seem to be crossing into obsession territory, but DAMN.

Shortly after a disagreement with Jake, Gillespie loses his job, setting up all of the nonsense about to unfold. Jake and all of his coworkers like to hang out at the same bar, the Gator’s Den. Foreshadowing??? Foreshadowing.

Jake vents to Cobb that he wants more than this provincial life: his mom has cancer, his brother always needs to borrow money, his ex-girlfriend is married to the asshole boss, and he has to walk everywhere since he has no money for a car. Cobb then reveals his ex has a restraining order so he can’t see his own son. Everyone has a sad story. We get it.

Gillespie has taken his drinking outside, where Jake and Cobb join him. Jake apologizes for Gillespie losing his job, even though I’m not 100% on how/why that was his fault at all. In a gesture of friendship, Gillespie presents Jake with a monkey’s paw and tells him to make three wishes before he can pass it on to someone else. As it turns out, the kid from the beginning was Gillespie. All of the alarms should be going off in your head, Jake.

Jake is pretty nonplussed; I guess this kind of thing happens all of the time in Louisiana. He tests out the paw by wishing for the GT parked outside of the bar, which is a predictable if stupid wish. Cobb and Jake find the car unlocked with keys in the ignition, and take it as a sign the car is now Jake’s. When they end up at asshole boss’s house, it becomes clear that Jake is not over his ex, Olivia. Since they are both exceptionally bland, uninteresting characters, they probably deserve each other.

The joy ride is cut abruptly short when Jake swerves off the road to avoid hitting an alligator (things that are passably normal in Louisiana but strange everywhere else, cont’d). Cobb doesn’t make it, so Jake uses the monkey’s paw to wish that he isn’t dead. Then Jake takes off through the woods for reasons I don’t totally get? To be honest, I wasn’t giving the film my undivided attention at this point. Jake ditches the monkey’s paw near this strange graffiti and continues on his merry way.

Graffiti of an eyeball with skulls and snakes is painted on a wall.
EYEBALL GRAFFITI…is terrifying, apparently.

Here begins the Great Undead Cobb Killing Spree. Blonde lady from the bar stops to help Cobb: dead. Jake’s mom: dead. Asshole boss: dead.

When he’s not killing people, Cobb enjoys hanging around cemeteries. I suppose the undead are an underserved population and don’t have a ton of other options.

An older man talks to another man in an elegant cemetery.
Probably one of the nicer options as cemeteries go.

Basically, the moral of the story is that he won’t stop killing until Jake gives him the third wish on the monkey’s paw. Complication: monkey’s paw is at an undisclosed location in the woods being chewed on by rats. Further complication: Jake is under suspicion for the murder of his boss.

Somehow he and Olivia have time for a date, by which I mean they talk while holding to-go coffee cups and have this voodoo lady read their cards. I feel we really need to raise the bar if coffee and voodoo counts as a date.

At this point, Gillespie finally reveals that he gave Jake the monkey’s paw with malicious intent (duh). Also that he was the kid at the beginning of the movie. When his dad wished he could pay off the mortgage. This, of course, yielded the death of his military brother, whose life insurance policy covered the exact amount needed to pay off the mortgage. Shortly after this revelation, Gillespie dies violently. Also Jake’s brother and sister-in-law.

Okay, I’m kind of done now.

Basically, there’s a big dramatic showdown at the home of Cobb’s ex.

I’ll spare you because the end is stupid, you guys. Stupid.

The Critique:

I hated this one. The characters are bland, the acting is bad, and an interesting premise is reduced to an incredibly repetitive story about stabbings.

I wanted the unintended consequences to be crazier, like stealing the car leads to Jake and Cobb embroiled in a drug smuggling operation, or wishing for a sunny day results in the entire planet crashing into the sun. And would it kill anyone to have a more interesting wish? I would wish for cats and a teleporter. Also that I could go back in time and NOT watch this movie.

You should probably just save yourself the trouble and watch that Are You Afraid of the Dark? episode again.

The Rating:

Small Pink Panther - Angry 1/5 Angry Pink Panther Heads

Honestly, these are more apathetic than angry PPHs, but I’m being consistent with my rating scale.

Look for Christa’s review here on her blog!