Norm of the North Actually Got a Sequel and It’s Glorious

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I watched Norm of the North with my brother early last month, perfectly aware of the reputation it has as one of the worst animated films in the existence of time (that’s the magic, really). While it was definitely very bad, I didn’t find it to be as bad as everyone else seemed to think it was; merely an inadequate picture with really unfunny jokes and a juvenile storyline. Upon finishing it, I made the horrifying discovery that a sequel actually existed, and thus, the search for “terribad” content continued forward.

And by the power vested in me as a purveyor of terribad content, Norm of the North: Keys to the Kingdom is an exquisite masterpiece. Continue reading “Norm of the North Actually Got a Sequel and It’s Glorious”

Day Twenty-Three: Avengers Grimm (MotM 2017)

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Nice to see Lou Ferrigno still getting work.

Avengers Grimm is a film that may not be entirely known by the mainstream media. However, the company behind the film’s creation is notable primarily for Sharknado. Its success seemed to kickstart a trend of films that do whatever they can to be intentionally amazing through their ridiculousness. Enter Avengers Grimm, which, unless someone doesn’t know what superheroes or movies are, is a very blatant semi-ripoff of The Avengers, except instead of established superheroes, we have established fairy tale characters… with superpowers.

To add some contextual flavor, the director and writer of this film, Jeremy M. Inman, also directed and wrote for one Sinister Squad, another movie I had watched in the past that featured, well, many of the same things in this film. From time to time, I will use these two films as comparison pieces, as they have a lot in common and some key differences in quality that make for an intriguing study.

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Now, the purpose of a good bad movie is to be entertaining through its insane inadequacy. The Room isn’t amazing through its technical strengths. Avengers Grimm somewhat teeters the line between serious and non-serious film, featuring a lot of dark lines and unenthusiastic characters on top of cheesy action sound effects. It manages to somewhat embellish itself in an aura that makes it seem as though it’s a film to be taken seriously. Unfortunately, looking at it as a “good bad movie,” this works against it, resulting in the audience becoming bored at the lack of zaniness. Looking at it from a serious, objective lens, the movie is devoid of relatable characters, rational resolutions, and an original plot—just look at the title.

With the manner in which I critique things, I believe that “the point” of a film can only shield it so much from criticism. I adore The Room and Troll 2, yet I gave both one out of ten scores, because they’re horrendous on a technical level. Avengers Grimm and Sinister Squad both distinguish themselves as enjoyably bad films, but at the same time they hold enough seriousness to them without transparency that it’s hard to take them… unseriously seriously? Still, they are bad films, because they’re trying to be bad. I’m simply playing it straight as scoring as I see it. Enjoyment can only do so much for it in the end.

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That’s enough background noise. Let’s jump right into the choir. Avengers Grimm is pretty bad. It is not, however, among the worst films I’ve ever seen. There’s enough there in terms of plot and structure to make it tolerable, though perhaps very dull. A clear focus is established, along with a goal, and it never shies away from it. Even some moral code (I think) is included within the actions of the characters, establishing that helping those in need will end up being used as good karma. Should one care about any of these characters in the first place, it probably wouldn’t been more impactful. Quite frankly, I went the entire length of the film not knowing the name of two major characters.

Bringing to light the biggest issue of the film is the lack of any real personality from the characters. They simply act according to what the plot expects of them and nothing more. It’s almost as if I were watching another “hit” drama show from CBS or FX. The tone is grainy most often, with silliness taking a back seat for a more gritty approach, which only makes the film more off-putting to me, especially one who’s likely aiming to be terri-bad. Very little separates one character from the others, as most fall within a bland caricature of serious characters with a penchant for cheesy one-liners. Some (like Lou Ferrigno’s character) offer some additional inner conflict which makes them more interesting, but it’s pretty standard stuff altogether. If not him, the “Red Riding Hood” character also has some spunk to her.

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And with the characters also come the performances from their actors. Most were adequate, doing enough to make me believe the film didn’t have enough money to buy anyone remotely famous aside from Lou Ferrigno, though a few were pretty horrendous. Lauren Parkinson as Snow White was the LVP here, constantly spewing lines in strange, monotone fashion, completely flat with the heavy situations present. With the tone of the film, there isn’t much one can do outside of acting like serious shit is going down, but Parkinson’s role, as major as it is, probably would’ve been better served for a different actor, particularly any other of the female leads, who all outshine her. Still, I could be asking for too much here, as the comparison of screentime Snow White has with all others, and her role in the film, shine more emphasis on her performance. Rather, why couldn’t Lou Ferrigno be the star?

Action sequences are pretty key in films that involve superpowers and clear good vs. evil scenarios. Action sequences here are pretty mediocre. Not a lot of attention to detail outside of character traits and quick, repeated camera cuts to different angles. Filters out a lot of what’s actually going on, which is unfortunate because it was something to distract me from the never-changing mood. Special effects, on the other hand, were fine. Very minimal, but fine. I particularly liked the slow process of crystalization from Snow White’s ice powers. I also liked Lou Ferrigno as an iron giant, but that’s not really a special effect as much as it is a special effect on me in realizing how good Ferrigno would look as a bald guy made of iron. They don’t do too much for the story, though bring a little zest to the characters and their quirks. For a film about fairy tale superheroes, there isn’t very much use of power here.

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On a technical scale, Avengers Grimm is probably a better movie than Sinister Squad, though the latter had a lot more charm through its characters and intentionally unintentional charisma. Neither are good movies in their own right, but “the point” of the movies is that they’re bad, or so it seems. I would recommend Sinister Squad as a better example of something within that genre, though Avengers Grimm does get points for a good effort in remaining ambiguous with its intentions. Altogether, it’s a film worth watching if one enjoys reveling in the art of atrocity, though there are better movies of that sort out there than this.

Final Score: 2/10

The rating for all other films can be found at Letterboxd.

For more, check out the March of the Movies Archive!

An Ode to The Room

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Everyone should experience this movie at least once in their lifetime. If not for a lesson in how to make or critique a movie, then as a two-hour trip into the realm of a man so bizarrely out of touch with reality that his movie tiptoes along the fields of absurdity, painted in the coat of trivial, daily life. The Room is a visual re-imagining of a mental fanfiction conceived by a self-absorbed man whose past remains a mystery to all but himself.

This man is Tommy Wiseau, the star, director, writer, producer, and all around fun-loving guy featured in his own main attraction. Back in the early 2000’s, he hatched an idea to make his own movie because why not? The Room became a reality in 2003, but it wasn’t until the rise of Youtube and other video-streaming websites that the movie became as infamous as it is today.

The Room came into my life via The Nostalgia Critic, who did a review of the film back in 2010. It was, by far, my favorite review the Critic had ever done, but whether that was because of the Critic himself or the movie he was reviewing is a mystery to me to this day… a mystery I don’t care to solve. In any case, some years later, my mother managed to obtain a physical copy of the movie, and the family sat and watched it together immediately soon afterwards. Needless to say, we all became much closer by movie’s end. Even to this day, we reference various movie quotes to one another. The Room has that obscene power.

The movie is about Tommy Wiseau as Johnny… Wiseau, maybe. Last names don’t exist here. He lives in a beautiful apartment in beautiful San Francisco (probably) with a beautiful girlfriend surrounded by beautiful friends with a well-paying job and respect from everyone he meets. However, things go a little haywire when his beautiful girlfriend, Lisa, begins to have an affair with Johnny’s beautiful best friend, Mark. This one event snowballs into a catastrophe waiting to happen as deceit and paranoia begin to weigh heavily on Johnny’s beautiful mind. At least, that’s what’s supposed to be happening, but the movie tends to break its own tone every once in a while.

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The tone is the least of its problems, however. Anyone who already knows exactly what this movie is is aware that The Room is considered one of the pioneers of the “so bad, it’s good” movie genre. Along with titles like Troll 2Birdemic, and anything by Neil Breen, The Room is famous entirely for its atrocious writing, simplistic (and nonsensical) plot arcs, eternally flat characters, and acting so putrid that one can’t help but guffaw at the lack of any effort. It somehow manages to conceive a world that contradicts itself after every other scene, yet resembles the outlines of a story enough that it actually works as a standard film. It’s not a movie that is intentionally trying to be goofy, weird, bad, and random. This is a serious film; directed, written, produced, and starring a man who put every ounce of himself to make this movie the best he could possibly make it. Someway, somehow, he managed to make the film charming in its incompetence, leaving viewers to wonder if The Room really was the best movie they’ve ever seen… comedy-wise, anyway.

I have seen this film a multitude of times, and it never grows old for me. I’ve seen other movies that were “so bad, it’s good,” but The Room was the film that introduced me to the genre, and what a great introduction it was. Ever since, I’ve seen a large rise in movies wanting to emulate that sort of magic that makes movies of this genre so enjoyable, but not many of them succeed the way The Room does. I think the key component into making a film like this one work is that someone has to believe it’s real, that it’s serious, or that it’s what others (or themselves) want to see in an actual movie. You cannot properly replicate the feeling of missing the irony so hard that it ends up driving you off a cliff without you noticing without honestly feeling that way. People want to parody or draw inspiration from these kinds of films, but the way I see it, those who are aware that their movies are “so bad, it’s good” will never obtain the levels of absurd hilarity and nirvana of those who don’t have a clue. Much like athletes or child prodigies, being able to produce a movie like The Room successfully is a gift. It’s not something that can be fully replicated by hard work or motivation. One can damn well try, but will likely never hold a candle to those trying to lighten up a darkened room with their smiles.

It’s a movie I cherish deeply, and has inspired me to do my best in every way without fearing failure. Because I know, deep down, that I will never become the one responsible for creating the best worst movie of all time.