Final Destination 5 (2011)

Steven Quale was the second unit director of Titanic and Avatar before getting to make his own movies. He jumped in to the Final Destination franchise, which had by now pretty much done it all when it came to brutally wiping teenagers out of existance. He was joined by Eric Heisserer, who wrote the remakes of A Nightmare On Elm Street and The Thing, as well as Lights OutArrival and Bird Box.

They did what had never been done. They made a prequel instead of another story.

Sam Lawton is anout the cross the North Bay Bridge when he sees the bridge collapsing and only his ex-girlfriend Milly Harper surviving. So he keeps everyone off the bridge, which soon collapses. In case you haven’t seen any of these films before, Death will make them all wish they had just become ex-people then.

Luckily, Tony Todd is back as Bludworth. He takes a more involved role this time, telling the survivors that if they wish to live, they should kill someone who was never meant to die on the bridge.

Only Molly and Sam survive and they go to Paris together. Of course, they board Flight 180 and…we’re right back to the first movie.

Another major part of these films are the references to horror personalities. The fith film references William Friedkin, Tobe Hooper and William Castle.

Well, that was five movies from one franchise in a few days. We did it! We made it! Oh no, the computer is glowing! Instead of seeing my death coming, I’m just going to take whatever comes next. I’ve learned so much from these movies. Good bye, readers!

The Howling: Reborn (2011)

While this movie claims that it’s based on Gary Brandner’s The Howling II, it is merely inspired by it. If you’ve made it this far in this series of films, you won’t be surprised. This is the eighth film in the series that started back in 1981 with The Howling. Much like the Amityville and Demons series of films, the phrase series may make you think these movies have some connection. They really don’t.

Will and his girlfriend Eilana are just trying to make a horror movie with their friend Sachin when it comes out that Will is, yep, a werewolf. It turns out that his mother didn’t die when he was young, but has instead been raising an army of beasts in the basement of their high school.

Director Joe Nimziki obviously wrote his own IMDB bio, which states that he was “the youngest Vice President in Sony Pictures’ history, for what would become its’ most prolific winning streak,” “the youngest Hollywood studio President (Worldwide Marketing) at New Line Cinema, as they reached an unprecedented level of success” and “a highly-sought “Movie Doctor” in Hollywood, brought in by both studios and independent producers to re-write, direct and edit a number of major films.” He’s also worked as a creative director in advertising, so that makes even more sense.

Somehow, this movie was able to pay for the rights to Echo and the Bunnymen’s “The Killing Moon,” which surprised me. What’s really even more astounding that in Germany, they didn’t even try to release this as a Howling film, instead referring to it as Blue Moon. The original film was called Das Tier, which translates as The Animal.

What an ignominious close to a week of these films.

Neowolf The Band from Hell (2011)

So this rock band, led by a man known only as Tony, comes back to his old college to win back his ex-girl Rosemary, but the band Neowolf gets in the way. Soon, people are turning up dead and yes, werewolves come on the scene. Bark at the moon, indeed.

Director Yvan Gauthier took his name off this, so he’s listed as Alan Smithee.

This is probably the most interesting part of this movie: The sex scene with Rosemary is not actress Heidi Johanningmeier, but a body double hired by producers months after the film wrapped. That happens all the time, except that no body double credit is on the film and Johanningmeier went to the Screen Actors Guild and won her case.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime and Tubi.

Fast Five (2011)

Somehow, the street gang from the first film has become almost like G.I. Joe in these movies. This film — the fifth as you can tell by the title — tells the story of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) as they steal $100 million while being pursued by U.S. Diplomatic Security Service agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson). This is the film that moved from street races to big action scenes and fans went wild.

The film starts by having Dom busted out of prison by the gang and ends with the Rock showing that he just might join these guys, which includes Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce, Ludacris as Tej Parker, Matt Schulze as Vince, Sung Kang as Han Lue and Gal Gadot as Gisele Yashar.

This is also where the movies start feeling bloated, pushing themselves past a two-hour running time. The other criticism is that women barely have names and are just sex objects in these films. Hell, they don’t even tell you what Gal Gadot’s character’s name — Gisele — is for the entire movie!

One of the good things is that these films have minimal CGI and rely mostly on practical effects for the car stunts.

Also — that scene where they found out that Letty is alive? Michelle Rodriguez didn’t know anything about it until she saw the movie in a theater.

Just Go With It (2011)

Somehow over quarantine, this movie has played in our house more than three times. Yes, I know. Being stuck inside does weird things to you.

Oddly enough, this movie is based on the 1969 film Cactus Flower, which an adaptation of the 1965 Broadway stage play, which was based on the French play Fleur de Cactus.

It was directed by Dennis Dugan, who beyond Problem Child has mostly directed star Adam Sandler in movies like Happy GilmoreBig DaddyI Now Pronounce You Chuck & LarryYou Don’t Mess with the ZohanJack and Jill and two Grown Ups films.

The Golden Raspberry people must have been licking their lips, ready to bestow this movie with awards. And so they did, giving this both Worst Actor and Worst Director.

Long story short: Sandler is a lifelong bachelor who really should be with his assistant, played by Jennifer Aniston. However, he’s in love with Brooklyn Decker, who thinks he’s married. As always, rather than the truth, hijinks rule the day. Otherwise, we’d have no movie.

I’m always amazed at the stars that will show up for a Sandler film, as Nicole Kidman is in this. I always think of her as an A-list star well above these matters, but here you go, as she’s interacting with Nick Swardson.

That said, Sandler films play on our screen often enough. And while they’re hated by critics, they’re innocuous enough and I always end up rooting for him every time he enters the third stage of the hero’s journey.

Color Me Obsessed (2011)

Is it better that a band that was supposed to be big never made it — often via their own drunken design — and instead inspired everyone else, never really getting to the point that people thought they started to sell out and suck? That’s the romantic ideal, I guess. I mean, most bands would kill to get on Saturday Night Live. The Replacements got in a fistfight on stage and were banned.

Beyond the fans that still love them, this movie features Hüsker Dü, the Goo Goo Dolls, the Hold Steady, the Gaslight Anthem and more, all bands that pretty much take their heart and soul from the Minneapolis group.

Director Gorman Bechard also made Psychos In Love and Cemetery High. He took over the project after Hansi Oppenheimer started the movie. He used none of her footage and started over again, keeping only the film’s name concept of fans telling the story.

There is no music, photos or clips of the band. Bechard wanted none in the film, instead creating a music doc without music that is really about how the right band can change your life.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime.

Sand Sharks (2011)

When making movies for the voracious appetite (sorry) of the streaming universe, it’s all about the Cormanesque approach: make ’em fast n’ make ’em cheap and always have a great pitch. In this case: replace the giant sand worms from Tremors (1990) with sharks. Oh, and the casting is important as well: so you book the daughters of Hulk Hogan and Greg Evigan, Brooke and Vanessa, to star alongside your ersatz-Kevin Bacon with the always likable Corin Nemec (who also starred in the Mark L. Lester-produced Dragon Wasps and Rise of the Dinosaurs; he was to also star in Poseidon Rex, but was injured-on set and replaced by the equally reliable Brian Krause).

Lester turned the director’s reins to the prolific Mark Atkins who, in his dual capacities as a cinematographer and director, has made every manner of mockbuster for Asylum Studios, along with an array of SyFy Channel potboilers title prefixed and suffixed with alien, android, dragon, Jurassic, and shark. Sitting in the co-producer’s chair alongside Mark L. Lester is Dana Dubvosky who’s produced most of the films in the Lester cannons we’ve watched this week (and she’s written two of them: Stealing Candy and Groupie). Sand Sharks also serves as the producing debut for actor Eric Scott Woods (he’s the Sheriff Brody of these proceeding) who’s produced over eighty films for the Hallmark, Lifetime, and SyFy Channel shingles.

And how do the sharks end up swimming in the sand: cue the underwater earthquake that cracks open a deep ocean crater that unleashes a prehistoric predator. Add your faux-Amity Island with the sleep island community of White Sands, Corin Nemec as the spoil con-man son of the Mayor, mix with attractive spring breakers and generous helpings of CGI sharks (jumping out of the sand like dolphins on a blissful summer day, natch) and shake . . . and you’ve got yourself movie that, if not for Mark L. Lester’s name on the box, you’d probably pass it by. (If this was part of a weekly Drive-In Asylum Saturday Night watch party hosted by Bill Van Ryn, I shudder to think what “theme drink” co-host Sam Panico would cook up in the kitchen. I am sure banana liqueur, vodka, and boobie-shaped ice cube trays will be part of the “Sand Sharkamania Slice” recipe.)

But don’t pass this Cormanesque, 1950’s sci-fi throwback: it’s a Mark L. Lester movie and there’s always fun to be had in a Mark L. Lester movie.

You’ve got two options to watch online: an ad-free rip on You Tube or an official with-ads upload on TubiTV.

Oh, and just so you know: Corin fully recovered from his boating accident on the Belize set of Poseidon Rex and currently has five films in various states of production. You can catch him on the recently released Lifetime Channel productions The Wrong Stepmother and The Wrong Stepfather. And yes, we watched them both because David DeCoteau directed them. And you know our love for Mark L. Lester is only matched by our love for David DeCoteau in these sticks of Allegheny County.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

Johnny English Reborn (2011)

There have been three Johnny English movies, starting with the original in 2003, this film in 2011 and Johnny English Strikes Back in 2018. They all star Rowan Atkinson from Mr. Bean and Blackadder fame. None of these movies have achieved any form of critical fame, but they’ve been popular around the world due to their slapstick and silly humor. Consider them like a Leslie Nielsen comedy film but with a little more intelligence.

Johnny has lost his chance at knighthood and is studying to be a monk when his new boss Pamela Thornton (Gillian Anderson, who played a similar role in The Spy Who Dumped Me) brings him back.

Rosamund Pike plays Kate Sumner, a behavioural psychologist who brings back Johnny’s repressed memories, which leads him to remember the evil spy organization Vortex, led by MI7 turncoat Simon Ambrose (Dominick West). Actually, the whole movie is spent trying to determine who is on Johnny’s side, who is trying to kill the Queen and who is in Vortex.

Interestingly enough, Atkinson and Pike made their theatrical movie debuts in Bond films, with Atkinson appearing in the Sean Connery led Never Say Never Again and Pike in Die Another Day. That’s also the very same golf course from Goldfinger in this movie.

Johnny’s sidekick Agent Tucker is played by Daniel Kaluuya, who has gone on to some measure of fame from the movie Get Out.

This is a fun movie if you feel like shutting your mind off and making fun of the Eurospy genre.

Box Office Failures Week: Sucker Punch (2011)

Nobody is demanding the Snyder cut for this, his most revealing film, a total exploration of the id that presents a dual world of women battling against, well, something while they’re also being abused in what we’re to assume is the more real of the two fake worlds. But throughout, it just looks like you’re watching someone else play a video game and that’s about as exciting as watching someone play a video game.

Yes, in this world, girls that are being used in a brothel and kept in an insane asylum prove their worth as women by jumping out of planes and battling robots while wearing fetish outfits. Surely it all means something, but it totally doesn’t.

Snyder said, “How can I make a film that can have action sequences in it that aren’t limited by the physical realities that normal people are limited by, but still have the story make sense so it’s not, and I don’t mean to be mean, like a bullshit thing like Ultraviolet or something like that.”

Dude, you should be so lucky as to make something as incoherent as Ultraviolet.

Despite the film being as CGI as it gets, every one of the actresses spent twelve weeks training to get ready for it. That’s right — six hours a day, five days a week, learning martial arts, how to deadlift 250 pounds, shoot firearms and look cool pole dancing, because, well, Zack Snyder.

This would have made a much better Fox Force Five origin story than a movie, trust me.

On one hand, Snyder has said that it’s all about “fetishistic and personal” while he’s also said that it’s a critique of the way that geek culture objectifies women. By, you guessed it, objectifying women. Sure, they have big guns and swords, but they’re missing that most crucial of all weapons: actual empowerment.

Let me try and make sense of this all.

At some point in the 60’s, Babydoll (Emily Browning, The Uninvited) is placed in a Vermont mental institution by her stepfather, who has probably killed her mother and assaulted her sister. To add to that, he pays the asylum’s Blue Jones (Oscar Isaac, way before he was Poe Dameron) to lobotomize her.

Babydoll then escapes into a world where she’s a sex slave for Jones, who is now her pimp. She’s joined by Amber (Jamie Chung, the most successful Real World cast member), Blondie (singer Vanessa Hudgens), Rocket (Jena Malone, The Neon Demon) and her sister Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri). Dr. Gorski, who is the main doctor in the first world, is now the girl’s dance instructor and is played by Carla Gugino (she was also in Snyder’s Watchmen). Also — Babydolls virginity is about to be sold to a client played by Jon Hamm, which is totally how real life and prostitution looks and works.

But wait! There’s another world where Scott Glenn shouts cliches at the girls while they battle giant Japanese samurai robots, dragons and a steampunk version of World War I.

The story ends with Glenn’s character somehow coming into our world and the heroine getting lobotomized and nearly assaulted, which is some kind of paradise in one of these three worlds, I guess. But again, it’s totally not.

It looks really cool though. Which is kind of Snyder’s stock in trade. I have no idea who this is for, other than developmentally challenged men who can’t get the women in the film, so they objectify them. It’s kind of like the guys who defend and white knight girls that they pay $20 to see in their underwear on Patreon or onlyfans when guys demand they show more nudity. No one is friends here and this is all just a transaction. In the same way, this film says nothing, is nothing and desperately wants to be something — yet is as lofty as the cover versions of much better songs that it employs in some grasp for something, anything.

Box Office Failures Week: Abduction (2011)

So this whole month is about flops. And this movie, well, it made $82 million worldwide against its $35 million production budget, so that’s anything more than a flop. But it’s also John Singleton’s last movie — a career that had the promise of Boyz n the Hood ended with a vehicle for the werewolf boy from Twilight. Then again, he also made Four Brothers and 2 Fast 2 Furious, so maybe I’m being too generous to his promise.

Maybe I’m just upset because Abduction is the limpest of limp action movies and has the balls to be set in my hometown of Pittsburgh. Then again, most of it was shot in Hampton and Mount Lebanon, two neighborhoods rich with privileged folks who look down on our town’s yinzer soul. None of this will mean anything to you if didn’t grow up within earshot of the voice of Myron Cope, but Taylor Lautner is exactly the kind of kid who hung out at South Hills Village or Ross Park before his dad’s pals from the country club got him a cushy job so he could ogle and harass the interns, always a step ahead of you because there is no middle class here.

Ah, maybe I’m being hard on Taylor. After all, he was a wolf boy. And here, he plays a kid with Jason Isaacs and Maria Bello as his adoptive parents and a kindly Sigourney Weaver as a therapist who maybe isn’t all that kindly, but lives in one of those wacky houses you always stare up at Mt. Washington and wonder — who lives there?

Soon, his kinda sorta parents are dead, his house has been blown up real good and Alfred Molina is trying to kill him. What’s there to do but fall in love with Phil Collins’ daughter and try and find your real dad, only to discover that he’s Dylan McDermott or Dermot Mulroney?

Michael Nyqvist, who played Mikael Blomkvist in The Girl With…films, is also in this. Perhaps this is out American take on these spy thrillers, where instead of sexy and fashion-forward Lisbeth Salander, we get young Taylor rocking out his best American Eagle duds?

This movie got the kind of reviews that I can only dream of making, with one claiming that Bert from Sesame Street had more range than Taylor and the fact that an actual abduction would be preferable to watching this film.

Abduction and Lautner won the Teen Choice Awards for Choice Action Movie and Choice Action Actor. Meanwhile, the man who was once Jacob Black lost his bid to win a Razzie to Adam Sandler, who had the year actors like Cash Flagg could only dream about, as in 2011 he made Jack and Jill and Just Go With It.

If you want to hear exactly how much I hate this movie — and didn’t get the gist from reading the above words — then you should listen to our podcast where I basically went off on the movie for nearly an hour.

PS: Fuck Upper Saint Clair and Seven Fields, too.