Tag Archives: Minute by Minute

Minute By Minute: Beyond Sherwood Forest

There’s just a hell of a lot of movies out there, and with an ever-increasing number of distribution channels (theaters, VOD, Netflix, Red Box) it becomes easier to sample and experiment with films you might otherwise ignore. Flat fees and dirt-cheap rentals make it that much easier to try something out and, if it’s not working, toss it out without a backwards glance.

Bureau Chief Dorian Wright has an almost supernatural tolerance for the borderlands of genre film, and in Minute by Minute he gives a stream-of-consciousness assessment of whether or not these fringe films work. In this week’s installment, he takes on Beyond Sherwood Forest, a fantasy version of the Robin Hood myth starring that girl from Smallville, that guy from Sanctuary, that guy from Warlock, and directed by that guy from 21 Jump Street who isn’t Johnny Depp.


Oh. They went with the basic “olde tymey” font for the credits.


A dragon is poaching from the king’s forest. And, yep, it’s a big old CGI dragon that never actually interacts on screen with the actors.


These kids act noticeably better when they drop the fake English accents.


Ah. Female nudity. Knowing your audience, I suspect.


It takes a special kind of “obvious bad guy” to go from finding a naked woman in the woods to trying to figure out ways to use her to take over the world in a minute.


“I swore an oath as a deputy to live and die by the laws of the king.” That couldn’t be any more obvious a cue that this character is going to get killed off right away.


Yep. With the “Oi’m English, luv, bob’s yur uncle” kid as the only witness to Julian “Typecast” Sand’s evil deeds.


What’s a StarGate doing here?


And Robin Hood wakes up in a tent with another man.


Oh, come on, you couldn’t even attempt a British accent? You’re the lead, and even the bit players made the effort.


Oh, well, at least he’s pretty.


And Erica Durance as Maid Marian even makes a…well, let’s be generous and grant her that she’s trying to do a British accent. Even if that just means over-enunciating her words.


Those are some pretty obvious tire tracks in this medieval forest.


I question the feasibility of firing two arrows at once.


Just as soon as Robin starts speaking with a bad fake accent, it’s gone away.


CGI deer? Really, movie? You couldn’t hire one from a petting zoo for one day?


Marian cleverly disguised herself as a man by putting on a hoodie. Robin is fooled by it. This is the guy that the sheriff’s men can’t outwit?


So, in this version, it’s Robin and Marian who stick fight on a log, not Robin and Little John. Well, at least there’s a log fight.


FLASHBACK! The kids with terrible accents at the beginning have grown into Robin and Marian. Well played, movie. Terrible accents justified.


It’s funny how, apart from the castles, England looks remarkably like Canada.


So, the Sheriff of Nottingham has had a dragon locked up for, what, fifteen years…and is just now getting around to using her in his master scheme?


The Sheriff’s men have a real leather-daddy vibe going for them. They’d fit right in at the Folsom Street Fair.


There are bald telepathic wizards on the other side of the StarGate. Uh. Huh.


Okay, movie, I’m just enough of a Robin Hood purist that making him a butcher actually does irk me a little bit. Yes, more than the dragon does.


Huh. An “average citizen” telling off the hero for making things worse. That’s almost painfully self-aware for this type of film.


As the plot threads come together, even Robin realizes that he’s a bit slow on the uptake.


The nerve of a wanted outlaw and thief getting pissy because someone lied to him. Guess we’re back to “hero is always in the right,” huh movie?


Thank you, movie.


And the plot finally kicks in, as Robin Hood finds out there’s a fucking dragon in Nottingham.


Blaming Robin Hood for everything when there is a fucking dragon behind you seems remarkably short-sighted.


Wow, that was ALMOST a CGI dragon interacting with a live-action cast member. Still looks remarkably like Little John just decided to jump backwards for no reason.


Friar Tuck, no!


And Marian screams “no!”


And Little John screams “no!” Really, movie?


Well, at least they started at least trying to make it look like the actors are hitting the special effect.


Tossing a dragon down a well doesn’t sound like that hot a plan. Has no one heard of the Lambton worm?


Why are they disappointed that the butcher was unable to do anything for Tuck? He’s a butcher.


“You must travel beyond Sherwood Forest.” Really, movie? Really?


Ah, the noble self-sacrificing hero. Good thing he remembered about the StarGate, otherwise the film would be over already.


An emo dragon. Ugh.


Seriously, did they have an Eagle in medieval Nottingham?


And they kiss.


And Little John looks a little annoyed about that. Will looks shocked.


I’m pretty sure Marian was about to call him a Nerf Herder.


Everyone just acts sort of…nonplussed by the StarGate. It is a glowing blue hole in the world that leads to another realm. I think I’d react a little more strongly than “is that it?”


Did he just draw his sword because he’s scared of a tree? Oh, man…the Sheriff’s gay boys are kind of stupid.


That’s…that’s some remarkably obvious blue-screened backgrounds.


A bow…against bats. Oh, Robin…you are a magnificent moron.


Yes, Marian, walk into the painfully obvious trap. You are clearly a good match for Robin.


And Robin and Will spend some time bonding over their daddy issues. The bane of 21st century scriptwriting strikes even here.


This is a remarkably large number of people at the hideout for a band that up until now has consisted of two curiously close grown men and a mute teenager.


This dialogue between Marian and dragon-girl is so arch with its references to exiles and humanity and so on, it’s either extremely clumsy at suggesting that Marian knows or horribly inept foreshadowing.


I’d make a comment about how splitting up in the magical woods is probably an incredibly stupid idea, but, well…


It’s amazing how following a naked girl through the woods was all that the Sheriff’s heavily armed contingent of the Village People needed to find Robin’s camp.


Oh. Oh, man…I am flashing back to every sword-and-sandal movie that came out in the 80s.


“We are the Sylvans.” Oh, well done. That is some quality D&D level cheese, movie.


That isn’t the worst CGI werewolf I’ve ever seen, but man is it close.


Marian accusing other people of acting selfishly, when her entire motivation in this film is “avoid a political marriage that would help English affairs in Europe,” is kind of rich.


And the info-dump concludes, for those who hadn’t been able to figure out the plot simply by paying attention to the movie.


OH COME ON! Laying it on a bit thick, there, if you really expect us to believe the henchmen weren’t cast by scouring gay porn videos.


You have a dragon. And you would rather use blackmail to get the throne? You. Have. A. Dragon.


Oh, please, has the “heroine pretends to be in love with the villain” bit ever not come off as stupid?


And he falls for it. Man, as a villain the Sheriff is equally matched for brains with Robin.


Oh, for God’s sake, Robin and John just need to kiss already. This male bonding stuff is laid on just a little too thick.


And thus does Robin pluck the Mystic Grapes of Macguffin.


For a journey that took at least a day in one direction, it took hardly any time at all going the other way.


Oh, please, surely the fact that the Sheriff is a murder can’t be that much of a surprise to his men?


Little John, for the first time in the film, is not hungry. That’s an…attempt at characterization, I suppose.


Yeah, the whole “Prince John is a bad guy because he has bad skin” is fairly obnoxious.


The little kid is able to make a bow and arrow out of random junk in his cell? Okay, less than fifteen minutes left in this film, guess I’ll have to go with it.


This band of Merry Men is just this side of incompetent. Were it not for gross and lucky coincidences, I suspect that the Sheriff would never have had anything to worry about.


Oh, thank God, someone in the actual film is pointing out that Marian was being an idiot when she destroyed the only evidence they had that the Prince is a traitor.


The Sheriff’s men have crossbows and they are surrounding Robin. And they don’t fire…why?


Oh, and see Robin’s dad gave the Sheriff a scar on one cheek and Robin gave him one on the other so it’s like he’s taking up his father’s fight or something.


Wow. He is just really not very good at this whole “hero” thing is he?


When the hero has to be saved from his archenemy by a third party…that’s just really undermining basic heroic adventure story structure.


Oh, NOW they remember that they have crossbows.


Biting the armored guard on the leg rather gives it away that they are wearing silver cloth, not actual chainmail.


Well. That’s…uhm. Huh. Did not expect to be watching people gorily torn in half in a film about Robin Hood fighting a dragon.


When the dragon has just killed all your men, that may not be the time to start pulling the black-mail card.


Did they just use the death of a female character to motivate the hero?


Status quo: successfully maintained! To be fair, while the film is not, by any standard, very good, it does somehow manage to be enjoyable. Well, watchable at least. For a given value of “watchable.”

Minute by Minute: Pandorum

There’s just a hell of a lot of movies out there, and with an ever-increasing number of distribution channels (theaters, VOD, Netflix, Red Box) it becomes easier to sample and experiment with films you might otherwise ignore. Flat fees and dirt-cheap rentals make it that much easier to try something out and, if it’s not working, toss it out without a backwards glance.

Bureau Chief Dorian Wright has an almost supernatural tolerance for the borderlands of genre film, and in Minute by Minute he gives a stream-of-consciousness assessment of whether or not these fringe films work. In this week’s installment, he takes on Pandorum, the story of two crew members on a space ship bringing colonists to a newly discovered planet, who awaken from their cryogenic slumber to discover that the ship has gone off course and been infested with strange creatures.

A future history, as we’re treated to “milestones” of space exploration that take place plausibly far enough in the future that by the time the dates actually roll around, no one will be alive to laugh at how badly they got it wrong.

You know, I could really do without science-fiction films opening on a long pan over a fake space-ship.

Good thing that cryogenics chamber has a modesty panel.

Oh, good. Blackness.

Something for 10% of the male audience members, I see.

Laser razor. I somehow feel that’s not going to be the only example of a perfectly useful modern device rendered “futuristic” in a way that makes it far less practical.

Nearly-naked Dennis Quaid. I would have loved this move when I was thirteen.

Both our leads have amnesia because of the cryosleep. I’m sure that won’t lead to a plot twist later in the film.

The power for the ship’s computer has to be hand-cranked? Really, movie?

Spiders in the maintenance ducts. Yeah, we’re being set up for the “jump” scare here.

Mummified corpse. That’s the least cathartic scare for the whole “trapped in the tubes” scenario I’ve ever seen.

Strange woman on the ship. Nice twist on the whole “not alone on the ship” scenario, but slightly anti-climatic.

Mutilated corpse. THAT’S more like it, movie.

Feral woman as shoe thief. We’re back to disappointing.

Freaky albino cannibals. Again, that’s more like it.

Twenty minutes plus into the film, and any pretense of being an “are they alone or not” type of horror film is gone. It’s just monsters.

“We are the cargo.” Dammit, movie. Make up your mind on whether or not you’re going to be the type of film I enjoy!

All the tech on this ship appears to require hand-cranking. That’s pretty blatant foreshadowing.

Ah, a cautionary fable about imaginary space diseases that drive you crazy. Because “schizophrenia” isn’t futuristic enough, I guess.

More survivors. Someone really isn’t going to be who they think they are.

Why’d they even bother to give that character a name if he’s only going to last a few minutes?

Did he just get rescued by the Prince of Persia?

So, everyone who survived the accident is either now a free-runner or a freaky mutant albino cannibal. This is not a good endorsement for space travel so far.

I’m thinking that “non lethal” weapons were a bad idea when faced with something that wants to eat your face.

Bug eating. Really, movie? That’s the level of “gross out” we’re going for when there are albino cannibals running around?

Trapdoors. Leading to a knock-off dianoga pit. Really movie?

Okay, so as all the humans get their asses handed to them by ONE of the freaky mutant albino cannibals, I have to ask; since it’s clear that the cannibals are the “evolved” survivors of the crew, how did they turn into super-fast, super-strong predators when their primary source of food would appear to be cryo-genically frozen humans? Surely that suggests carrion eaters or scavengers as a base. And while I myself wouldn’t want to tussle with an hungry hyena, I’d rather a hyena than a lion, you know?

If it takes three humans to kill one cannibal, and they still got their asses handed to them, they really are screwed.

Ah, the inexplicably well informed crazy person. Some horror tropes never die.

So far the “Dennis Quaid locked in a room with a guy and one of them is probably crazy” film is better than the “Ben Foster runs away from albino mutants” film.

Ah, finally, info-dump. Thank you crazy man who knows everything and his convenient pictograms.

This is a shot I will never, ever, like in films.

Creepy albino kid, at last. The money shot from all the trailers. Took way to long to get there.

So, the reactor, which they need to save the ship, can only be reached via a narrow walkway, over a pit filled with cannibals, in a chamber with electrical arcs in it. Industrial designers in the future are all on crack, aren’t they? Well, space-crack.

Ah, the non-English speaking cast member sacrifices himself to save our white, blond lead. We’re still doing that, Hollywood?

Well, genocide is a convenient method for making sure you don’t have to share the new planet with cannibalistic mutants.

Problem solved, but the film is still at least twenty minutes long. This is when we find out that Dennis Quaid has been hallucinating at least one cast member all along, right?

At least our self-sacrificing ethnic character gets to go out in hand to hand with the cannibal leader. That’s…something?

Oh, come on, movie, you’ve going to have the one non-evil non-Caucasian in the film kill the cannibal leader and then let the albino kid kill him? That’s playing dirty.

Yep, called it. At least one character is a hallucination

A curiously Nietzschean motivation for a villain.

“And it was Xxxx all along.” Really, movie? Has that ever been a clever resolution to a mystery?

Well, they survive. Until the remnants of humanity slowly die of exposure or starvation.