Hello Game Breakfast. My name is Jordan and I’m signing on to this here website to add a little of my own perspective to this corner of the internet. The challenge for me to overcome is that I have no real knowledge regarding video games or breakfast. I do PLAY video games and I do EAT breakfast, but my thoughts on both are a little unenlightened. For instance, today I played Spec Ops: The Line, which I believe came out some time in the past ten years. I also ate a banana. It was yellow, easily designed for the human hand by some all-knowing deity and not too mushy. Well, it was a little mushy. Those are the deepest thoughts I can muster about those subjects.
So what can I contribute to this fine e-magazine? I watch a lot of movies. Like way too many movies. And that clearly qualifies me to review cinema on the highest levels. So that is why I’m here.
But you don’t need me to tell you why today’s movies likely suck. You all know that for yourselves. So I am going to tell you how yesterday’s movies likely suck using the handy household time machine commonly known as Netflix. As everyone knows, Netflix bombards you with tons of suggested features, many of which are usually ignored by most rational human beings. For example, even if one such human being kept giving every stand up comedy special a one star rating sight unseen because, well, stand up comedy, said human being will somehow continue to get more recommendations for stand-up specials by scores of supposed comedy professionals until he develops such an aversion to stand up comedy suggestions that he would much rather put a gun into their mouth and pull the trigger than see one more headshot of inanely smirking morons with titles conveying how dangerous they are and oh look there’s Russell Peters: Notorious and BAM….
The point being that Netflix recommends a lot of random films based on seemingly little to no criteria. And I’m going to review these invasive cinematic cockroaches until I get bored. The first rule of the Netflix Infestation is THERE ARE NO RULES! The second rule is no stand up comedy ever. Sorry, Katt Williams. We are never, ever going to get back together.
So with that said, we’ll travel on our first theatrical misadventure together. Specially recommended for my viewing pleasure tonight is the 2009 classic superhero(?) thriller THE BLACK KNIGHT RETURNS directed by Juan Avilez.
The Netflix description states: “When an Evil Company threatens to unleash the black plague, young Evan Grail is spurred into action when he joins a band of warriors that fight evil.”
That doesn’t sound too bad unless you are a fan of the black plague, which I certainly am not.
Of course, this title brings to mind the 1986 classic superhero thriller THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, one of the most significant comic books every written and probably one of the three greatest works of art featuring Batman snapping a guy’s leg in a giant mud pit.
If that happens at any point in this film, we will have a guaranteed winner. Sadly, Netflix suggests that I will be giving this film a total one star which suggests a dearth of mud pit leg snappings and also begs the question of why Netflix would suggest it at all..
We start our grand adventure with the credits. It is important to note that this is not a credit sequence, but just listing the cast and crew in white text over a black screen. I have read about this in screenwriting books. The most important thing is hooking the viewer by informing us that we will be watching a performance by Win De Lugo as “Max” and featuring the photography of Orestes Gonzales.
It is a very similar technique to opening a movie review by talking about bananas. The good news is this ill-placed credits sequence only lasts 43 seconds. The bad news is it lists everyone, including associate producers. Compare that to the Marvel movies, which make you wade through 15 minutes of tiny names so you can see one thirty second scene of Sam Jackson talking about toast or whatever and then everyone leaves with a slight sense of disappointment because,really, that’s what we all waited around for? Anyway, the lack of twenty-seven pages of key grips likely tells me we are in for a pretty bare bones cinematic experience.
Proving me right, the film starts its narrative with some more white text on a black background for its Star Wars type scroll, letting us know the history of the Black Knights. Apparently, the Black Knights have carried on from the time of King Arthur to “protect the kingdom from lawlessness and those who would destroy freedom.” Everyone should take a second to thank their local Black Knight for their service. They have carried on from generation to generation even in the modern world of terrorists and bio weapons. They will serve “….to the death if necessary”, which I believe is called foreshadowing if I remember my Humanities class.
And FINALLY, we get our first glimpse of the Black Knight. Or A Black Knight. And sure enough, he’s Batman. But he’s got a blond lady Batman, too. They beat up some guys in black theater masks who are armed with the finest of toy guns No orange on these babies. The toy guns “fire” with some cheap computer effects and sound effects that sound like something off a Casio-keyboard. Black Knight and female Black Knight fight their way through these jabronies up and down a staircase outside the director’s studio apartment like in a version of the Raid: Redemption that somehow manages to seem even more impoverished. They find themselves at the mercy of another guy in a black theater mask who proceeds to blow them up with a bomb. I’m not impressed by our crime fighters so far, but we get out first emotional high as they choose to go out hand in hand as the cheap computer explosion devours them. Now, we are left with the question as to who is going to protect our kingdom from lawlessness and those who would destroy freedom?
The question gets murkier as a second, slightly stockier Batman named “Falcon Knight” is shown to be similarly dispatched via samurai sword at a drug deal highlighting the rampant samurai sword violence that continues to plague our inner cities. Why this scene is even in the film, I have no idea. Maybe one of the producers wanted to be a superhero, too? Anyway, he’s dead now, but didn’t get the benefit of dying hand in hand with anybody. Such is the lonely life and death of Falcoln Knight.
Intercut with these scenes is our glimpse at our villains, an incestuous mother and son who appear to work for a group known as the Council, which are in possession of a “world killer” bio-weapon. They need to find an antidote before they unleash it on the world, which is surprisingly responsible for a council of evil super-villains.
We also have our first meeting with our protagonist, a spoiled rich kid named Evan Grail who is kind of a much less sexually threatening Kirk Cameron. He’s plagued by nightmares of medieval warfare as he is brought to live with grandfather, Max, another one of the black knights, but not one of those ones that died earlier. After Evan has his first date with a corporate business woman or real estate agent or some other thing. (Highlight: “I like your teeth…you are like a walking Aquafresh commercial.” “I like your teeth, too.”), Evan’s grandfather reveals his vigilante status and the nature of Evan’s mysterious knightmares. It would have saved a lot of time if he just showed him that crawl from the beginning of the film because that exact same information is conveyed here. But hey, it’s as nobody on planet Earth always says: “The more pointless exposition, the better!” The grandfather has a typical conundrum…let Evan live a normal life or become the newest Black Knight. For the purposes of our viewing enjoyment, Evan chooses the latter. That was one of the shortest hero quests that I have ever seen. “You want to be a hero?” “Sure.”
This seems like a good place to say the audio mix is terrible. The dialogue frequently drops low in lieu of the music, leaving us to wonder whether we are missing more scintillating teeth dialogue.
However, we are ready for the training montage. Let’s get it started in the most awesome way possible, shall we?
Anyway, the bad guys are concurrently working on their own plan which involves dumping purple test tube water into green test tube water and practicing some sweet fencing moves like a cross between Heisenberg and a Highlander. This is where you should insert a terrible joke about THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE WHO KNOCKS, but I won’t do it. I just won’t.
Meanwhile, Evan gets used to his Black Knight training and gear as he continues to put the moves on the real estate agent that surely only exists to get kidnapped later. We discover that this stock girlfriend character has taken to coining her own vocabulary to describe the intricacies of their complex relationship.
As can be expected, this brilliant combination of the words sweet and awesome (actually explained for our benefit) leads to a night of both sweet and awesome lovemaking and a breakfast to make us feel like this is a real relationship which will lead to important feelings when she is abducted. Now our fledgling superhero is finally ready to have his first mission. I have a feeling it will be a most unswasome experience for evil everywhere.
The first mission is a success as the Black Knight enters what looks like somebody’s garage and places a device there, trying to avoid the speakers, shelving, and other things stored there. Upon returning home victorious from this pretty simple task, he is told the truth about his parents…Mr. and Mrs. Batman from earlier. They replay the same exact footage from before because this needs to be longer? Turns out, their deaths have created an atmosphere where the Black Knights are to be shot on sight due to their incompetence. I can’t really blame them. They kind of messed up in the first three minutes of the movie. And this vigilante status is neither explored or utilized by the film in any way whatsoever.
On the only other set in the picture, our mother-loving villain returns home and finds his speaker-filled garage invaded. He gives us probably the best advice possible and one that is applicable to any of life’s little problems:
His quest for the antidote also progresses nicely with many more colors of test tube water now in play.
Or so you may think…but it turns out this combination of water colors is extremely volatile! An explosion kills some peripheral bad guys and our villain decides to take over the Council by force afterwards. He also has to kill his mother and lover, symbolizing the sacrifice we all make while growing up.
Meanwhile, Evan and his lady friend have some strife after Evan reveals that her father’s company is involved in nefarious deeds. It seems like those kids would’ve made it….they both had such good teeth and such a mutual admiration of teeth.
I know you are probably wondering about some sweet Black Knight action. Which we finally get in the form of him dressing in costume solely to make a phone call to his girlfriend. Turns out our incestuous antagonist has kidnapped the female character in a stunning twist nobody could have ever predicted ever.
He explains that he will kill her if the Black Knight ‘shows up to his party’ in a metaphor that appears to last for half the movie and involves actual references to chips and dip, but actually means his ‘launch the bioweapon’ plan. Grandpa Max explains that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of one even if she does have great teeth and a great vocabulary, but BK isn’t having that. He can do both, GODDAMMIT, and he seeks and subsequently finds his new lady love at the mercy of a ninja henchwoman and we finally get our big action sequence.
The scene ends as every good scene should…. with an uncomfortably long sleeperhold a la Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake.
He proceeds to rescue his love, only to find out she suddenly cannot breathe. In my favorite part of the film, he proceeds to watch her die horribly while doing absolutely nothing for what seems like five minutes. Afterwards he just silently shuts her eyes and walks off, but I guess she fulfilled her purpose. It also gives him a good reason for a brief CGI blood massacre as he goes for revenge. There is also something with magnets and Grandpa Max dies, but you won’t care about either by this point. Because….
We have the fist fight we’ve all been waiting for in the junk-filled lawn we’ve all been waiting for it to happen in. Actually, with all the fencing training earlier and the medieval stuff, I was expecting maybe a sword fight. But a fist fight could work, but only if it is leading to the greatest moment in cinematic history. Are you prepared to meet that challenge, movie?
OH MY GOD. I am sorry to have ever doubted you. Batman never did that. Your turn, Frank Miller.
Our adventure ends with our hero contemplating the mistakes he has made, but deciding that he will carry on, leaving us open for many sequels which I am sure are forthcoming.
So what is the verdict? This movie feels like something some college kids did in their spare time and its not bad for that and it almost feels cruel picking on it. But it did make it to Netflix and it clearly earned its one-star rating. The plot was predictable in the parts that made sense. The special effects were terrible. Ninety percent of the movie was set-up and exposition and it was so painful that I considered instantly cancelling my Netflix subscription. It is shot unprofessionally and the acting could charitably be described as amateurish. However, on the other hand neck snap.
SCIENTIFIC OPINION: NON-SWASOME
STAR RATING: 2 Stars (Didn’t Like It)