Part 3: In Which I Sequelize All By Myself

independence-day-fan-sequel

Consider this a companion piece to our recent Independence Day episode.

Okay folks, Independence Day: Resurgence wasn’t good, I know this. Somewhat unfortunately, it wasn’t even bad; it just was. I’m not the type to appreciate movies that are “so bad they’re good”, it’s just not my style. I appreciate cheesy cinema more than almost anyone (think Bloodsport), but I generally don’t get down with watching something just to laugh at how bad it is (think No Retreat, No Surrender); I usually need to truly enjoy something to watch it enough times to find comedy in it.  Sure, I will do it once in a while for the sake of the show, and sometimes it happens by accident (listen to our Captain Ron episode if you want to experience this), but I rarely sit down and watch something notoriously bad just to get some giggles out of it afterwards. There’s just too much notoriously good stuff out there that I haven’t found the time to watch. With that said, I fully understand how people love to get together and watch crappy flicks and joke about them after; it makes for some great podcasting too. It’s become its own form of entertainment, with theatres regularly playing flicks like The Room and Manos: Hands of Fate to packed audiences full of schlock lovers. However, my longwinded explanation leads us back to my original point: The Independence Day sequel isn’t the kind of movie that will ever get this treatment, nor will idiots like me do podcast episodes about it like we recently did for the original. It merely exists, and that stinks, because the first one was such a blockbuster, and has become a basic cable staple to the point that the next couple of generations will most likely have fond memories of it. It deserved better, and right now, in a hastily thrown together paragraph or two of explanation, I’m going to give you better. I’m going to prove, without even trying that hard, that ID4 could’ve had a much better sequel. A sequel that is true to the characters. That doesn’t base any major script decisions on Will Smith being busy making another movie and instead waits until he’s available because it’s already been twenty years since the first one and one more won’t hurt…or at least one with a name that doesn’t make it sound like one of my country’s proudest holidays is having a herpes flare-up.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you: Independence Day:ID4:20, a movie in which Will Smith, Cheech Marin, Method Man, Harold, Kumar, and Trey Anastasio of Phish team-up to battle The Predator and the aliens from Mars Attacks using only the power of weed smoke and bong water! I’m just kidding, but at least mine had a catchy title. Anyhow, let’s try to make something that sucks at least a little less than the real movie. Let me present to y’all a little synopsis for the very simply titled Independence Day 2.

ID2, as I will call it, begins in much the same way that the real sequel does. Humanity has spent the last twenty some odd years benefitting from the technology left behind by the Alien invaders. We now have moon bases, interplanetary travel, hover…stuff, the works. Much like after real life disasters, the world enjoyed a period of peace directly after the initial battle, but now finds itself dealing with typical global-political issues and mounting tensions. Still, a U.N. space coalition exists and is making moves towards Mars exploration and all sorts of neat space things. Integral to this “space force” (yes, I watch the news, I get it) are Dr. David Levinson and Steven Hiller, WHO IS STILL ALIVE DAMMIT! At the film’s beginning, the two of them and a cadre of tropes and stereotypes have been dispatched to Mars to research some kind of macguffiny signal. At the same time, former President Thomas Whitmore, who secretly and not in a weird crazy-old-man way suffers from headaches and visions because of his alien interactions in the first film, is on a good-will tour of some other country. Joining him on this tour are his former aide-turned-some-other-type-of-aide Constance; who is still married to and in love with David, (because why the hell would we ever need a new and extremely forced love story in a sequel!? It’s a dumb trope) and former Air Force pilot and current Secret Service Agent Dylan Hiller. Seeing as how it’s Fourth of July weekend, which is now a worldwide holiday, Constance and Dylan, per the former President’s approval, have invited family members Jasmine and Julius (his mom and her father in-law, played by Vivica Fox and Judd Hirsch) along for the ride. Both lonely because their favorite people are on mission to mars. Not joining them is Patricia Whitmore (played by Mae effin’ Whitman!), who also served in the Air Force before taking on a career as a journalist. She’s currently attached to a group of African warlords who are trying to rebuild their community after spending years in a ground war with the alien invaders following the events of the first movie (one of the few good ideas from the actual sequel). She’s currently in a tiff with her father over their continued disagreements about how he handled things as a leader post-ID4. Phew, got to take a breath after making all this magic.

mae whitman independence day
Apparently there aren’t any images of her dressed as an Air Force pilot floating around. The internet is dead to me.

For those of you wondering, I’m going to leave out Russell Case’s family because who cares? I’m also going to leave out Adam Baldwin’s character, even though he’d probably now be a high ranking general in this universe, because he sucks as a person sometimes and Hollywood is never going to cast him in anything this big again. Otherwise, all our main players are set-up for greatness. Is it too neat though? No, it’s not. In a movie like this, we all know that you’re going to bring everyone back together in the end. Often, as we saw in the real-life sequel, these reunions are forced and rely on coincidences so strong that they stretch the bounds of believability further than an alien ship ever could. Instead, I propose that the film take advantage of the fact that these characters established strong bonds in the first movie and have them all together in groups facing the situation from the beginning. Remember, we usually go back for the sequel when we like the characters and want to see their journeys continued, so why make that journey so illogical? In a movie about aliens, the only thing that can truly make any sense is how the characters behave, so why not keep it consistent? So now that our characters are all set up, the rest of the movie is pretty simple.

On July 4th, as our heroes go about their business as dignitaries, explores etc., the familiar space crafts we’ve all come to know and fear drop into earth’s orbit. Earth scrambles to get birds in the air to intercept the threat, but before they can even get out of the atmosphere, a fast attack ship slams into the zone in Africa where all the ground-fighting took place, sets off  an EMP-esque device, and knocks out most of the world’s electricity, communications, and defenses (whatever is convenient to the plot). Earth’s ships literally fall from the sky, providing an iconic trailer image. The weapon is so targeted and so powerful that it even disables a significant amount of the Mars Team’s equipment, stranding them on the red planet…after a super sweet aerial battle with a small contingent of the alien force.

Back on Earth, Team Whitmore somehow (it’s a movie, someone else can fill in the blanks) receives word from Patricia (maybe she’s on the phone with her old friend Dylan when the EMP goes off) that she’s bogged down at ground zero of the new invasion and begins to make their way to her. This trip runs concurrently with the boys being lost on Mars, and with Patricia herself throwing down with the warlords against the alien stronghold that’s been established in Africa. Through some magic of McGuffiness, the folks on earth figure out that the EMP is a signal being broadcast from the invader’s African base to shut down Earth’s forces whilst the aliens move into position to completely eliminate earth’s population and strip us of our resources. Team Whitmore arrives in Africa (maybe they travel on some outdated analogue plane, piloted by some ridiculous character that I’m sure the studio would want to throw in to argue with Julius), gets saved by Patricia (Mae Whitman for the win!), and coordinates a ground assault to take out the signal generator (Jedi anyone?) and hack the alien’s defense systems with an air assault to take out the invading sky fleet. This all begins to come to a head while we find out that Team Mars Space Force Alpha aren’t alone on the red planet. Team Mars Space Force Alpha Five Niner 6000 come across the hidden ruins of some sort of ancient civilization and are immediately ambushed by a small force of invaders; they take refuge in the ruins, are low on ammo (ammo is “the green sh—” from the original) and we leave them for a moment.  Pause to breath in this movie’s awesomeness…Ah, that’s better, now here we go with the climax.

In the flick’s final act, half of our heroes on earth launch an assault on the signal generator alongside the warlord group…hey, at least there’s no ewoks. In my defense, I didn’t think of Jedi when I first came up with this idea, it’s just a really solid way to have two battles go on at once, fight me. Anyhow, the other half of Team Earth (the half with pilot’s licenses) have somehow come across hybrid technology jets (I’m going to say it’s something to effect of “some rich warlord owned them”) and ready themselves to attack the invaders as soon as the power comes back on. We intercut all of this with Team Mars Space Force Mega-Ninja Zords fight to survive the ambushing forces at the ruins. At some point, Team Earth’s ground troops knock out the generator, allowing the flight team to get in the air, but not actually mount any offense. They have to evade attack for a while, but find themselves capable of fighting back when whichever plucky hacker character takes out the shields; this happens at the same time that the ruins on Mars open up and an unseen Martian presence takes out the forces attacking Team Mars Volta Space Fox Force Five. The battle on Earth is now raging in the skies, raging in space, and raging on the ground, as our Air Force attacks theirs, and the ground team defends their position at the signal tower thingy from some sort of drone army. The tide begins to turn against our warriors in the sky, as most of the main fleet runs out of ammo (call backkkkkk) and our main heroes (Hiller and The Whitmore Family Band) are the only hope. Before they can mount any major offense, they are confronted with some sort of super enemy and the Ex-President (Bill Pullman, this is unfortunately not a Point Break crossover) sacrifices himself to save his daughter and pseudo-nephew guy. He dies in this one too, but it’s to successfully protect his daughter and it galvanizes earth’s previously retreating forces to start to make kamikaze runs at the alien forces. Hiller and Lady Whitmore have a quick epic convo and begin to fly directly at the enemy (a la Randy Quaid in the original), ready to perish, when Team Mars Dues Ex Space Force jumps into the atmosphere with a crew of friendly aliens, drops a bunch of one-liners (including “we’re here, and we got plenty of green sh–!” as they force-field re-arm the other ships…or something) and saves the day!  All the bad guys blow up and/or stop working after others blow up. Bing Bang Boom, story over.will-smith-independence-day-sequel

Phew, that was some rambling. Good luck reading it, because I don’t like to edit! Now on with the epilogue!

As the movie winds down, everyone is united on earth, hugs are had, and we find out…spoiler alert…that the Martians are the same aliens that attacked us, just a peaceful colony of them! They have wormhole technology, the ability to re-arm their ships in mid-air, and they want us to team up with them to take out the remaining evil forces once and for all! Boom! I even ended it with a similar yet slightly less idiotic cliffhanger/sequel lead-in! That’s your movie folks!

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Relax bro, you’re a hero now.

Look, I’m sure it’s not perfect; this I know, but I will be damned if anyone can tell me it isn’t at least slightly better than the movie they put in theatres. I know it’s ridiculous, and it has an all-too-convenient plot device in the climax, but every movie like this does, I just think that mine seems more plausible in this film’s universe. That’s what studios don’t realize, we don’t want realism from movies like this, we just want them to play by their own rules. Again, I know it’s not an award winner, but I’m not someone who gets paid to do these things! If my zero-talent ass can slap this together, why couldn’t real writers make something that doesn’t make me want to punch myself in the groin? Anyway, that’s my Independence Day sequel, which I’d actually love to just call Memorial Day, or ID2024 , but that’s for my imaginary marketing department to decide. Nighty night nerds!

 

 

 

 

Chapter 2: Killing Me Smallsly

youre killing me smalls

Ok folks, we made a slight blunder on this week’s episode of the podcast. Some would say we’ve made a huge blunder. Me? I’d have to say that we made a small blunder…a “Smalls” blunder, because in speaking about the amazing movie that is 1993’s The Sandlot, we forgot to mention perhaps the most famous line in the flick. Yeah kids, we got through an entire hour of talking about Benny The Jet, The Beast, and Squints without saying “You’re killing me Smalls!”. I couldn’t believe it myself when I heard it from our review committee, but it’s true. Now I know right now you’re asking, “How could you forget something we all consider nerd gospel you effin’ blasphemers!” and “How the hell do you have a review committee when you’ve only got like 15 listeners?”. Well, in reverse order, the answers are: it’s my wife and dog, and we just forgot…or did we?

Yeah man…we forgot, but maybe we forgot for a reason. Maybe on some subconscious level we didn’t mention it because we find it to be polarizing. By “We” I mean “Me, Craig”, because I know that Ron just forgot because he has a real job and handles all the technical aspects of the show and can’t be expected to always have perfect notes. So yeah, I find that damned quote to be a double-edged word-sword of sorts. When said by someone who I already know and enjoy, I find it to be a cute and inoffensive way to voice frustration. However, when uttered by someone I’ve just met, it makes me want to throw them in hole and cover the hole with leaves in hopes that others will later fall on them and cause them even greater harm; at the same time hoping that said following-fallers have both high BMIs and IBS, to make the situation both more painful and more dysentery-y. Understand? Of course not! I shall explain further.

So let’s say my partner in pod-ing and my brother in life Ron (also known as “Big Ron, The Hammer!”) was trying to teach me how to fix a toilet because I tried to flush a wrapped Big Mac down the poo-hole (we eat healthy in my house, sh*ts contraband!). Imagine that I kept trying to poke the wet-sammy further down the crap-shoot with the wrong end of the plunger, he might utter a playful “You’re killin’ me Smalls! Use the suction end and get that burgy outta there before it’s too wet to eat!”. In this scenario, Ron eats toilet-meats. This is what happens when I’m left in charge of our blog by the way, but I digress.  In this case, his usage was a very nice way to tell me to stop being a moron and learn to use a plunger. I know and love this guy, he had a point to prove without creating tension; no harm, no foul.

Now conversely, let’s say that I’ve just met a gentleman named “Skylar” or a lady who goes by…uhhh…well…yeah, “Skylar”. This person is wearing the shirt of a band that I like that they’ve never heard of, has hair that way too effort-fully effortless, and likes to tell you all about how they can eat donuts all the time because “it fits their macros”. At some point during our first meeting, after they’ve told me all about how into Crossfit they were before they “hurt their back”, they hit their fifth Borat quote or other terrible joke and I don’t laugh. Now they repeat the joke, and instead of telling them they aren’t funny, I act as if I just don’t get it. They express their frustration with me not getting said terrible joke by laughing at themselves again and saying…you guessed it, “You’re killing me Smalls!”. Now what I do in this situation is I politely smile whilst internally weeping at the bastardization of one of my childhood’s most iconic lines, pretend that my dead grandma is calling me, and escape further interaction. What I want to do in this situation? Remember that scene in A Clockwork Orange’ where they pried that dude’s eyes open and made him watch horrible videos of stuff I don’t remember because I don’t like that movie because it makes me sad? Yeah that, but instead of whatever Malcolm McDowell had to watch, it would be a collection of home videos of suburban kids rapping at middle-school talent shows. Then I’d commit something in their home that rhymes with “Birder”. Yes, I’d commit Turd-er; fill in the blanks for yourselves as to what that is. Also yes, birder is bird-murder; but that’s neither here nor there.

Are we seeing the difference here folks? Are we understanding my mixed feelings? Like many things in life, Smalls killing someone is a tool to be used sparingly and by the right person in the right situation.  It’s like the damned Infinity Gauntlet, or laxatives, or that freakin’ rap air-horn; in the wrong hands it’s capable of horrible atrocities. So yeah, I have weird issues with the usage of a movie quote and I’m using that to justify a mistake I made on a goofy podcast, but you’re reading it, so I guess we’re all the ones whom Smalls are killing. Yeah… that’s it.

FREE BONUS IDEAS:

  • A beer koozie that says “You’re Chillin’ Me Smalls”
  • A rap album featuring only rhymes about The Sandlot and/or dedications to Biggie called “You’re illin’ Me Smalls”
  • A meme featuring Michael Jackson and the kids from The Sandlot captioned “You’re Thrillin’ Me Smalls”
  • An apron that says “You’re Grillin’ Me Smalls”
  • A porno that I will let you all figure out the name of.
  • A video of the guy who played Ham getting kicked in the crotch and then saying ” You’re Killin’ Me Balls”

You’re welcome folks. 

The Maiden Voyage: On Kurt Russell…Or The Ballad Of Rudy Russo

kurt russell blogI’ve seen a lot of things in my day; probably more than most. In a somewhat Forrest Gump-ian way, I’ve strolled through big events, met famous people, and had some truly strange interactions. In that entire time, I’ve only lost my s— fanboy-style over two things:

-Meeting Buzz Aldrin. Dude was on the moon and/or took part in one the greatest conspiracies in human history. Either way he is worth freaking out about.

-Meeting the guy from “The Last Dragon”. I’m weird, there’s no other explanation.

I’m saving up my third complete loss of nerd-control for the day I meet Kurt Russell. I don’t really have any idea how that’s going to happen, or even if it’s going to happen. I know one thing is for sure though: I’m going to embarrass myself at least a little. I’m not going to hug him, or cry, or anything like that, but I’m going to say something dumb and at least hold a handshake for too long whilst my wife apologizes for me. I really doubt I’m alone on this.

I don’t know what it is about the guy that has made him into such a legend in the minds of people like us (I’m talking to you, other movie-nerd who’s taking the time to read a grown man gush about another grown man he’s never met), but it’s there. Is it the legends of his name being amongst the last words uttered by Walt Disney? Is it the fact that he’s been mutual arm-candy with one of Hollywood’s most gorgeous ladies for damn-near forty years? Is it the fact that he played on The Portland Mavericks, one of baseball’s most insane franchises ever? I don’t know, dude’s got juice though. That’s all without mentioning the fact that one person played Snake Plissken, R.J. McCready, Cash, Wyatt Earp, Herb Brooks, and JACK FRIGGIN’ BURTON; and that man is Kurt Russell. I can’t say which exact factor makes him such a legend even when his career coincided with those of Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Van Damme, Willis, and countless other big-screen heroes. He just…is. He’s the patron-saint of film geekdom, and we all need to be ok with that.

Now that the gushing is done (I can’t actually promise that, this is a work in progress),  let’s truly examine the divine powers of said Saint Russell. He is a man able to transcend the bounds of the script-page, a man who has been able to create one character and have him exist through multiple films. A character whose journey has been hilarious at times, dark at others, and bittersweet in the end. That character is Rudy Russo, and he has done more for this world than you will ever know.

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We first meet Rudy in 1980’s “Used Cars”, where he uses his wits, luck, and savvy to gain the money needed to bribe the right folks to get him into political office. However, he has a change of heart, not a change of character per se, but a change of heart, and decides to instead save the late Luke Fuch’s car dealership from ruin. He ends up with a new respect for what’s truly right, but also can be seen in the film’s closing moments keeping his shiesty car-salesman edge. He get’s the girl too, but these things never last, and soon he finds himself riding the long haul cross country under the name Jack Burton.

In 1986’s “Big Trouble In Little China”, Rudy finds himself caught up in an ages-old battle between the forces of good and evil. His hair may be a little longer, his arms may be a little bigger, and he’s traded a mobile home for a truck full of pigs, but we are looking at the same man. “Mr.Burton” shows the same bravado and cunning that made him a great salesman, and even dons his old car lot digs when he goes undercover at one point. Navigating through the Chinatown underworld, Jack shakes the pillars of heaven, battles demons, thwarts gangs, saves the day, and proves that it’s all in the reflexes when he plunges a knife into the head of the immortal evil that was David Lo Pan. He even gets the girl, which is rare for a sidekick. Yeah, that’s right, Ole Jack Burton was actually right hand to his buddy Wang Chi, but don’t tell him that. Leaving his lady behind, he rides off into the darkness looking for more adventure, and we last see him about to encounter yet another monster from the depths of the unknown. How does this confrontation go? We may never truly know, but I have  feeling that he didn’t come out unscathed, because he’s one eye down the next time we see him.

big trouble in little china podcast

Six years later, we come across Russo again, working as a boatman known only as “Captain Ron” in the 1992 film of the same name. Eye-patched and long haired, he seems to have grown tired of the open road and settled into a life travelling the Caribbean seas as a Captain-for-hire. He’s got fifty percent  less vision, but one hundred percent of his salesman charm, as he apparently goes from boat to boat playing up whatever made-up qualities the current job requires; a lot like he used to do in his days on Fuch’s lot. He hooks up with Martin Short (it was the nineties, character name or not, Martin Short just played “Martin Short”) and the two take Short’s family on an adventure that has way too much nudity for a family film. He leads for most of the film, but takes a back seat in the end to let Short save the day and prove his worth to his family. Perhaps he learned a lesson from Wang Chi about not hogging all the glory. They run afoul of weather, guerillas, and the actual Pirates of the Caribbean, but they survive and Ron Russo goes on to swindle and save another hapless traveling family. Again, we are left with a bit of a cliffhanger, but this time no eyes are lost offscreen…only his soul. When next we meet Russo, he’s a lost his smile, and gained a reputation as one of the baddest outlaws in the world. The only semblance of his old life that remains is the eyepatch when he takes on the mantle of “Snake Plissken”.

escape from new york blog

We meet the man now known as Snake in the year 1997 (1987 on film) in “Escape From New York”. He always had a taste for adventure, he always had a taste for easy money, but his time on the high seas apparently gave him a taste for actual crime, because now he’s a full-fledged outlaw. Those guerillas must’ve gained traction too, because the entire United States is now in ruin, and Snake is amongst its most ruined. A legendary criminal, who also happens to have Special Forces training (They never say exactly how he was trained, it could’ve been the special forces of Chinese magic), Snake is recruited by the government to infiltrate the prison island of Manhattan and rescue the President. Threatened with  exploding arteries, Snake obliges and saves the day, but on his own terms. He does a pretty good job though, because he gets brought back in “Escape From L.A.” (1996) to…do pretty much the exact same thing. His terms or not, he did something right, because in the year, because no matter what the opening crawl says, he’s clearly the same badass in Soldier (1998).

kurt russell podcast

Yeah, I know, he’s got his eye back in this one, and Todd is supposedly born in 1996, but I know my Russo as well as I know my Russell; same guy. The man walking around calling himself “Todd” in 2035 is Captain Rudy “Snake” Burton, and he’s on the ultimate mission of redemption. He finds himself a man without a planet (I think he messed it up pretty bad during his escape from Los Angeles), and a man without a family. After all these years as a loner who couldn’t be held down by a family, The Vitruvian Russell decides to make one last stand against an entire army of super soldiers and saves himself a whole colony of new friends.

In that flick’s closing moments, he and the newly liberated colonists find a new home, thus completing the decades-long journey of a simple used car salesman who just wanted to find him place in the world. He searched in politics, he searched the open roads, he searched the high seas, he searched the Chinatown underworld, and he searched the post-apocalyptic wastelands, but his place in this world was simply…on another world. Yeah, my facts aren’t all straight, I’m not totally sure that Overboard (1987) wasn’t his last-ditch effort to start a family before departing for the Caribbean, and yes…this is all nonsense, but it proves one important point: Ego in Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2 is his final form! He’s an actual god in that one! Full Circle! What? You thought I’d end this seriously? Come on, we all know that Kurt Russell is a damned national treasure, you don’t need me to tell you that.  Isn’t it more fun to imagine that all of his amazing diverse performances were actually different elements of the same man? Do we even have to imagine that? We don’t, because this man has left his heart and soul on the screen for us for the last forty years, and for that we thank him, and devote long ramblings to his awesomeness. Thanks Kurt, from all of us.

This has been part of…

Note: Big Thanks to Gill from RealWeegieMidget for suggesting that we put this blog together. All the garbage that will follow is your fault 🙂