Monthly Archives: April 2015

Q for Quest of the Delta Knights

by Lillian Csernica on April 19, 2015

Just when you thought it couldn’t possibly get any worse, I bring you the Quest of the Delta Knights.

Start by knowing the plot is lifted almost wholesale from Heinlein’s Citizen of the Galaxy.  The theme song was also stolen from a science fiction source, Battle Beyond the Stars.  Otherwise the soundtrack such as it is consists of that flute-ish sounding music that almost passes for somebody playing a recorder properly.

A young lad named Tee (Corbin Allred) is recruited by Baydool (David Warner) and trained up to fulfill his destiny as a member of the Delta Knights.  This involves recovering a cache of lost treasures which are rumored to be kept in the “Lost Storehouse of Archimedes.”  Along the way they are joined by plucky tavern wench Thena (Brigid Brannagh).

The Bad Guys are Lord Vultare (also David Warner) and his queen, the Mannerjay (Olivia Hussey).

For reasons known only to himself, Lord Vultare’s henchmen are all dressed up like Vikings even unto the horned helmets, which the most shallow student of that period knows did not exist.

Thrown in Leonardo da Vinci (David Kriegel) as well as the use of firearms, and what you have here is something no film student with any sense of self-respect would admit to making.

The settings and costumes are a horrible mishmash of Dark Ages, quasi-medieval, and Elizabethan England.

Part of the movie was filmed at the Northern Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Novato, CA.  By a strange coincidence, that is the very Faire where I once worked, and I worked there at the very time the film people came looking to recruit extras from among our fencing booth “privateers.”

So when you see the guy sitting at the table get hit in the neck with a dart and keel over, and you see the surly Hispanic-looking guard pacing back and forth, know that those two guys came from the fencing booth where I worked.  I cannot tell you how much this adds to the humor value of this movie.


Filed under bad movies, Blog challenges, fantasy, history

P for Prince Valiant

by Lillian Csernica on April 18, 2015

I have to tell you, I’m at a loss as to how I can best summarize the plot of this mess.  I’ve read reviews and behind-the-scenes articles at various sites.  Wow.  For a movie that counts among the cast at least four A list actors, this insult to the original comic strip sank faster than a knight in shining armor who’d been thrown off a pier.

Stephen Moyer as Prince Valiant.  Is it just me, or does he look all of 16 here?  I checked the dates.  Prince Valiant’s latest incarnation was 28 at the time.  He spends a good chunk of the movie wearing that knitted fabric “chain mail” that I loathe with every fiber of my historically accurate soul.

While serving as a squire at Camelot, among the court of King Arthur, Valiant sees Princess Ilene at a tournament.  Pretending to be Sir Gawain, Valiant manages to get himself assigned to escort the Princess home, where she’s to be married to Prince Arn.

Katherine Heigl as Princess Ilene, looking all of 12 years old.  (She was 19.)

Meanwhile, Morgan le Fey convinces the ruler of the Viking kingdom of Thule, a tyrant named Sligon, to steal Excalibur and topple King Arthur.  Sligon sends his psychopath brother Thagnar to steal Excalibur.  Despite facing King Arthur and his well-trained (and sane) Knights of the Round Table, Thagnar succeeds and Excalibur falls into the hands of the enemy.

Joanna Lumley as Morgan Le Fey.  Notice how she’s wearing real chain mail?

By this time Valiant and Princess Ilene have faced various kidnapping attempts and a mysterious highwayman/hermit.  Circumstances pretty much demand a duel between Prince Arn and Valiant.  The hermit turns out to be Boltar of Thule, who reveals Valiant’s true identity as Prince of Thule and heir to the throne Sligon has stolen.

Ron Perlman, every fantasy fan’s favorite character actor, plays Boltar.

Prince Valiant faces this most puissant foe Sligon (and his psycho brother).

Valiant wins his throne, his lady love Princess Ilene, and walks away with everything but Excalibur itself.

In his book, Size Matters Not, Warwick Davis says Prince Valiant was “a disaster from start to finish” which was “premiered, panned and bombed.”  He blames this on the director, who he says “seemed intent on partying all night long and giving roles to his friends.”

This man is an expert on fantasy, good, bad, and mediocre.  I’ll take his word for it, wouldn’t you?


Filed under bad movies, Blog challenges, classics, Family, fantasy, Fiction, Goals, legend, love, romance, sword and sorcery, Writing

O for Onmyoji

by Lillian Csernica on April 17th, 2015

Onmyoji is an entertaining movie.  For those not familiar with the terminology, an onmyoji is a practitioner of onmyodo.  I encourage you to follow the link, because onmyodo is a fascinating subject.  If I get started on it, this post will end up being a lot longer than it should.  For our purposes, let’s just say that the onmyoji in this movie, Abe no Seimei, puts the sorcery in “sword and sorcery.”  His goofball buddy Minamoto no Hiromasa is the one who wears the sword.

From Wikipedia:

Onmyouji (陰陽師?) is a Japanese movie that was released in 2001 and sent to the US in 2004. Directed by Yōjirō Takita, it tells of the exploits of Abe no Seimei, in Middle Ages, the Onmyouji (also known as: The Yin Yang Master) from the court of the Emperor. He befriended bungling court noble, Minamoto no Hiromasa, who enlists his aid to defend the Heian emperor. Meanwhile, an opposing onmyoji Doson is plotting the downfall of the emperor, while attempting to frame Seimei by unleashing a horde of yōkai to do his bidding.

There are some modern depictions of Onmyouji magic involving divination, transforming paper cutouts into beautiful maidens, and the like. Mansai Nomura is a famous kyogen actor, a type of traditional theater related to noh but of a more comic nature, and this role is considered something of a big transition for him. His portrayal of Abe no Seimei has been described as including a number of ‘foxy’ looks, perhaps in acknowledging the folklore describing Abe no Seimei’s mother as a kitsune. The lead actress, Eriko Imai, a pop singer, has very few lines and little involvement with the plot. The film was a commercial success grossing ¥3,010,000,000 ($36,567,313) becoming the 4th highest earning Japanese production of 2001.[1] The film was also giving a limited theater release in North America where it grossed $16,234 in 3 theaters.[2]

A sequel, Onmyouji 2, appeared in 2003. Both movies are based on the Onmyouji novels by Baku Yumemakura, which also inspired a manga series by Reiko Okano.

Hiroyuki Sanada (The Last Samurai), ready to kill Mansai Nomura.

I will admit it takes the kind of fascination I have for Japanese culture to really get into the action here.  Doson is a great Bad Guy.  When he sends the “horde of yokai” (monsters) against Abe no Seimei, we get to see the magic-users in the fight to the finish.  This makes Onmyoji rather unusual among Japanese historical movies.  So many of the taiga dramas are devoted to samurai and political upheavals.  Heian period costuming is quite a hoot to the eyes of Western audiences, so that also makes the movie worth watching.

I’m supposed to be listing bad sword and sorcery movies, right?  So how did this one make it onto the list?  The answer is simple.  This is the only sword and sorcery movie I could find on any list that begins with the letter O.

It’s not smart to mess with the onmyoji!


Filed under bad movies, Blog challenges, classics, fantasy

N for The NeverEnding Story

by Lillian Csernica on April 16, 2015

I’m going for the hat trick today.  That’s right, three movies for the price of one!

From Wikipedia:

The NeverEnding Story (German: Die unendliche Geschichte) is a 1984 West Germanepicfantasy film based on the novel of the same name by Michael Ende, about a boy who reads a magical library book that tells a story of a young warrior whose task is to stop a dark storm called the Nothing from engulfing a fantasy world. The film was directed and co-written by Wolfgang Petersen (his first English-language film) and starred Barret Oliver, Noah Hathaway, Tami Stronach, Moses Gunn, Thomas Hill; and Alan Oppenheimer as the voices of both Falkor and Gmork. At the time of its release, it was the most expensive film produced outside the USA or the USSR. The film was later followed by two sequels.[1]

Sounds pretty good, yes?  International cast, plenty of money, and based on what sounds like a strong fantasy story.  What should be a classic quest/coming of age story does include some aspects of Joseph Campbell’s Journey of the Hero.  I didn’t like the movie when I first saw it and I still don’t like it, all for the same reason.  The movie feels like one big Dark Night of the Soul.  That’s really depressing, especially in a movie designed for children.  Here’s an article that articulates quite well all the problems I had with the movie:

9 Reasons Why Adults Should Never Watch “The NeverEnding Story.”

Author Michael Ende was none too pleased with the movie either.  Here’s what happened next:

Ende felt that this adaptation’s content deviated so far from his book that he requested that production either be halted or the film’s title be changed; when the producers did neither, he sued them and subsequently lost the case.[2] The film only adapts the first half of the book, and consequently does not convey the message of the title as it was portrayed in the novel. The second half of the book would subsequently be used as the rough basis for the second film, The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter. The third film, The NeverEnding Story III: Escape From Fantasia, features a completely original plot.

Bastian Bux (Jonathan Brandis) is having troubles at home: his father Barney’s (John Wesley Shipp) busy workload is keeping him from consoling Bastian’s fear of heights.

Now how often is that going to come up on a daily basis?  That’s not exactly a common feature of teen angst.

Bastian flees from his problems to an old bookstore when he hears the Childlike Empress (Alexandra Johnes) summon him to save Fantasia. There, he reunites with Atreyu (Kenny Morrison) Falkor (voiced by Donald Arthur), and Rock Biter and meets a new character: a talking bird-like creature named Nimbly (Martin Umbach). Bastian now faces “the Emptiness”, created by the evil sorceress Xayide (Clarissa Burt) and her mechanical “giants”.

Why am I thinking of the White Witch from Narnia?

Because Bastian is capable of stopping her, she has a machine constructed in which each time he makes a wish to AURYN, it will strip him of a memory. After Bastian and Atreyu confront Xayide at her castle, she feigns surrender and persuades Bastian to make a series of ridiculous wishes.

I know Bastian is still a kid, but if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s a stupid hero.

Upon reading the NeverEnding Story, Barney is surprised to see his son’s exploits therein.

This probably explains a lot about Bastian’s fear of heights.

As he follows Bastian’s journey through the book, Atreyu realizes he must stop Bastian before Xayide’s hold over him becomes too strong to break. This leads to a fight between the two boys, whereafter Bastian finds the machine collecting his memories and confirms Atreyu’s suspicion.

Now I’m thinking of Dorothy yanking aside the curtain and discovering the real Wizard of Oz.

Bastian tries to use Atreyu’s horse Artax follow Atreyu and Falkor, but is nearly killed by Xayide, and later directed by Nimbly to the correct location. Once there, Bastian sacrifices his memory of his beloved mother to wish Atreyu back to life. Xayide appears and urges him to use his final wish to return home; but he instead wishes her to show compassion, whereupon she destroys herself and restores Fantasia.

It would make a lot more sense if Bastian wanted to use one of those wishes to bring back his mother.

When thanked by the Childlike Empress, Bastian is able to face his fear of heights by jumping off a high cliff, thus returning home safely. Before the end credits, AURYN reappears on the front cover of the Neverending Story’s book.

How bad is this movie?  It is so bad that its rating on the Rotten Tomatoes site is a staggering 0%.

This astonishing piece of work features Bastian in high school facing another set of bullies called “the Nasties.”  His father has remarried.  Bastian’s stepsister Nicole is not at all happy about this.  At school the bullies come after Bastian and chase him down to the boiler room, where Bastian finds his copy of The NeverEnding Story waiting for him.  That gives him a fast exit to Fantasia, where his services are once again needed.  Fantasia is imperiled by an invasion of “the Nasties.”  This gets so bad there’s a “giant crustacean” that attacks the Childlike Empress.  Somehow Nicole has used AURYN to make a wish that drags everybody into a local shopping mall where the big showdown takes place.

Oh my stars and garters.  I can think of so many movies that take a troubled teen, drop him or her into some far-off world, and make a much, much better story out of it.  One of my favorites is Warriors of Virtue.  If you haven’t watched it, it’s well worth the time, if only to see the stunt team in kangaroo suits performing martial arts and acrobatics.


Filed under bad movies, Blog challenges, Depression, Family, fantasy, Fiction

M for Masters of the Universe

by Lillian Csernica on April 15, 2015

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe started out as a set of action figures.  I am proud to say I owned the Castle Grayskull play set along with several of the figures.  The popularity of the toys gave rise to an animated series.  Since Hollywood never knows when enough is enough, eventually Cannon got the green light for a live action movie.

From Wikipedia:

On the Planet Eternia, at the center of the Universe, Skeletor‘s army seizes Castle Grayskull, scatters the remaining Eternian defenders, and captures the Sorceress of Grayskull; he plans to add her power to his own by the next moonrise.

Christina Pickles as the Sorceress

Skeletor’s archenemy, the warrior He-Man, veteran soldier Man-At-Arms, and his daughter Teela rescue Gwildor from Skeletor’s forces.

Dolph Lundren, Chelsea Field, and Jon Cypher

Gwildor, a Thenorian locksmith, reveals that Skeletor has stolen his invention: a “Cosmic Key” that can open a portal to any point in time and space. The device allowed Skeletor to breach Castle Grayskull; the group uses Gwildor’s remaining prototype to travel to the Castle.

Billy Barty as Gwildor.  Wow.  That’s a LOT of makeup!

They attempt to free the Sorceress but are overwhelmed by Skeletor’s army and forced to flee through Gwildor’s hastily opened portal, transporting them to Earth. The Key is misplaced on their arrival and discovered by two teenagers, Julie Winston and Kevin Corrigan, who attempt figure out what it is and accidentally send off a resulting signal that allows Skeletor’s second-in-command, Evil-Lyn, to track the key; she sends her henchmen, Saurod, Blade, Beastman, and Karg to recover it.

What Evil-Lyn should look like, vs. the movie version.  What’s with the cape?

Kevin, an aspiring musician, mistakes the Key for a synthesizer and takes it to a music store. Karg’s team arrives and chases Julie until He-Man comes across her and rescues her.

Take a look at the next photo down below, where Det. Lubic is holding the Cosmic Key.  Kevin can’t be the sharpest knife in the drawer if he thinks that Key looks anything like the keyboard on a synthesizer.  And then He-Man just “comes across” Julie?  Sounds like he’s out jogging or something, doesn’t it?  Not exactly dynamic plotting.

Karg’s team returns to Grayskull where, incensed by their failure, Skeletor kills Saurod and sends the others back to Earth, with a larger force under Evil-Lyn’s command. Unable to find Julie, Kevin is taken to Julie’s house by Lubic, a detective investigating the disturbance created by Karg’s team. Suspecting the Key is stolen, Lubic confiscates it from Kevin and leaves. Immediately afterward, Evil-Lyn captures and interrogates Kevin for the Key’s location with a mind control collar, before pursuing Lubic.

Here’s Lubic (James Tolkan) with the Cosmic Key.  Looks to me like a weapon out of “Alien vs. Predator”!

Julie and the Eternians release Kevin from the collar before they go after Lubic. Evil-Lyn recovers the key and summons Skeletor to Earth. Skeletor’s forces overwhelm the Eternians and Julie is mortally wounded by Skeletor’s lightning blast, simultaneously destroying Gwildor’s Key.  He-Man surrenders to save his comrades, and is returned to Eternia as Skeletor’s slave. Skeletor demands that He-Man kneel before him for all of Eternia to witness, before he is killed. He-Man refuses and is whipped by Blade’s laser whip in an attempt to make him kneel.

Zeus had that fire-whip in Immortals.  Here’s Blade with his laser whip.  I had no idea you could make a laser beam flail around like that!  Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynmann would probably have laughed himself silly.

He-Man is still standing when the moon rises and Skeletor absorbs the powers of the universe. Declaring himself the Master of the Universe, Skeletor asserts his victory and continues to torture He-Man with energy blasts.

Frank Langella, who plays Skeletor, has said it’s one of his favorite roles.  When researching the character, he talked to his kids who were big fans of He-Man.  He also watched the animated series.  What’s not to love about this armor?

Back on Earth, Gwildor builds a makeshift Cosmic Key and Kevin recreates the tones necessary to create a gateway to Eternia. The group, including Lubic who attempts to arrest them, are transported to Castle Grayskull, where they begin battling Skeletor’s forces.

I think Lubic’s expression says it all, don’t you?

Evil-Lyn, resenting that Skeletor absorbed the power of the Universe without sharing it with her, deserts him along with the other henchmen.

Why do the Bad Guy’s minions ever expect him to share what he’s after?  Get real!

Skeletor accidentally frees He-Man who then reclaims the Sword of Grayskull.

Excuse me?  The omnipotent Bad Guy “accidentally” frees Our Hero, and then lets him get his hands on the the ultimate weapon?

The pair battle until He-Man shatters Skeletor’s staff, removing his new powers and restoring him to his normal state. He-Man offers mercy but Skeletor draws a concealed sword and attempts to kill He-Man;

I’m sorry, but how could you possibly conceal a sword?  OK, maybe the big black hooded cloak is covering it up.  I defy anybody, even Skeletor himself, to draw a sword of better than average length from under a full-length cloak fast enough to kill the enemy without getting tangled up in several yards of cloth.  (Yes, as a matter of face I have handled swords while wearing a full-length, hooded cloak.)

He-Man manages to knock Skeletor from the throne room into a towering pit below. The freed Sorceress heals Julie, and a portal is opened to send the Earthlings home. Treated as a hero for his exploits, Lubic decides to stay on Eternia.

Probably a wise decision, because the Police Chief will be asking questions about where Lubic went when he vanished from the crime scene.  “Saving the universe” is not a reply that will help his career prospects.


Filed under bad movies, Blog challenges, classics, fantasy, He-Man, Masters of the Universe

L for Legend

by Lillian Csernica on April 14, 2015

Legend (1985) is one of those tragedies of film-making that leave you sitting there thinking, “This could have been so good!”

The Lord of Darkness is lonely.  Instead of settling for finding a consort, he decides to destroy the power of Light completely by killing the last two remaining unicorns and seizing their horns.  He sends his goblins out to do the deed in the magical forest.

Tom Cruise plays Jack, a young fellow who frolics about in this same forest with an elf, a fairy, and two dwarves.  Mia Sara plays Princess Lili, who meets up with Jack in the forest.  (There is no castle or royal family or Unpleasant Betrothed in this movie.  Princess Lili exists in something of a medieval vacuum.)  Jack offers to show her the unicorns.

Hands up, everybody who thinks this is probably a really bad idea.

Sure enough, the Lord of Darkness’ goblins follow Jack and Lili and succeed in shooting the unicorn stallion with a poisoned dart.  Jack gets all upset, knowing how dangerous this could be.  Lili, who is apparently a heartless airhead, laughs off his worries and throws her golden ring into the pond, saying she’ll marry whoever finds it.  She’s standing in a magical forest where goblins have just assassinated one of the only two remaining unicorns and she’s willing to marry whoever (or whatever) is the first to find her ring and return it?  When I was sitting in the theater watching this movie, this was the point where I decided Lili deserved whatever happened to her.  Here’s a hint:

From here on the plot takes some strange turns.  For a while it felt like I was watching two different movies that had been spliced together in alternating scenes.  My thinking is Ridley Scott has enough material for two or three movies here.  Putting all of it into one movie doesn’t work because some fairy tales are meant to stand alone and cannot be mixed together into one big glittery enchanted stew.

This is an elf playing a violin while standing in the snow surrounded by a cloud of soap bubbles.

The truth is, Legend is worth seeing, especially for Tim Curry playing the Lord of Darkness.  All that makeup can’t possibly interfere with or obscure his talent.  Legend won a lot of awards centered on cinematography, costuming, and special effects.  The complete version ran 125 minutes long.  Screenings indicated that taxed the attention span of audiences, so a total of 30 minutes were cut from the film prior to its official theatrical release.  What made it to theaters was a rush job, butchered and stitched back together.  Once you know this, you know why continuity goes to hell in a handbasket when Our Heroes are about to attempt the daring rescue of Princess Lili. In 2002, Ridley Scott released his director’s cut, giving the world the movie he intended to make.


Filed under bad movies, Blog challenges, fairy tales, fantasy, Horror, legend

K for Kull the Conqueror

by Lillian Csernica on April 13, 2015

Kull the Conqueror (1997) was supposed to be Conan the Conqueror.  Problem: Schwarzenegger did not want to play Conan again.  (After the way Conan the Destroyer turned out, is anybody surprised?)  The producers et al called up Kevin Sorbo, already a hot property thanks to his lead role in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.  Kevin Sorbo did not want to play Conan given that Schwarzenegger had already put his stamp on the role.

What did the producers et al do?  Changed the title to Kull the Conqueror.  For those who don’t know, Kull is another Robert E. Howard character, one that actually predates Conan in that Kull is from Atlantis.

Wow!  Kull looks nothing like Conan! <insert sarcastic laughter>

Kull shows up for the try-outs being held by the King of Valusia for his elite Dragon Legion.  General Taligaro won’t allow any lowlife Atlanteans into his legion, so Kull doesn’t get the job.  Meanwhile, the King has gone mad, butchering people in his throne room.  For some reason Kull rides along with General Taligaro and then tries to reason with the King.  Anybody who has ever watched a single episode of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys will know exactly how Kevin Sorbo plays this scene, making the most of his rich, deep, soothing voice.

No luck.  The King pulls a surprise attack, forcing Kull to land a mortal blow.  Before the King dies, he makes Kull his heir just to put the screws to General Taligaro one last time and set Kull up for more or less immediate assassination.

Does the General, who is the valid heir to the throne, summon the Dragon Legion and put several dozen arrows into Kull right then and there?  Of course not.  Taligaro and the King’s cousin take the scenic route by raising the long-dead witch queen Akivasha, played by the Queen of the ’80s Bad Girls, Tia Carrere.

Akivasha seduces Kull and gets him to marry her, so now she really is Queen.  Taligaro thinks this is just spiffy until he discovers Akivasha has plans of her own that involve bringing a bunch of demons to Valusia.  In the middle of all this, there’s a slave girl named Zareta who gets all the great lines.  Kull has the hots for her and being King, does something about it.  Zareta tells him, “Do not mistake cooperation for enthusiasm.”

When Akivasha decides to poison Kull, she frames Zareta for the evil deed.  How farfetched does this tangle of passion and intrigue become?  You tell me.  Here’s Akivasha in her true demonic form:

How powerful is Akivasha’s magic?

I’d love to see the outtakes from this scene, because you just know there had to be some.  This is not a shining moment in Kevin Sorbo’s career.

Somehow Zareta manages to get the antidote to Kull in time to save him.  The only thing that can stop Akivasha and her demons is the “breath of Valka.”  The quest for this artifact takes Kull and Zareta through the usual perils and intimate moments.  Zareta’s brother Ascalate comes along for the ride.  He’s some kind of shaman.  The “breath of Valka” is a rather literal artifact, so much so that Zareta has to inhale it.  Prolonged exposure will kill her, so Kull and Ascalante rush her back to Valusia for the big showdown with Akivasha.

This is the only photo I could find that will give you a hint about where the “breath of Valka” comes from.  See that face in the background, the big one carved into the wall of snow?  Valka’s breath comes out there.

So there you have it, folks.  Nobody was happy with this film.  Not the writers, not the producers, not the casting directors, and (I’m willing to bet) not the actors either.  There is one saving grace to this movie.  It enables me to ask this question:

Where else do you get to see Kevin Sorbo French kiss  a demon?


Filed under bad movies, Blog challenges, fantasy, Horror, Humor

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

by Lillian Csernica on April 12, 2015

To all of my brothers and sisters in the Orthodox Faith, I greet you on this most glorious Feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  God’s blessings on you and your families and all your loved ones.

These are the words being sung in so many languages around the world.  The Festal Troparion:

Christ is risen from the dead,
Trampling down death by death,
And upon those in the tombs
Bestowing life!

Pascha is the traditional dessert made at this time of year.  A really well-made pascha makes cheesecake look like a Twinkie!

Kulich is the egg bread made as the perfect compliment to pascha.

These are the traditional Paschal baskets, brought by the faithful to the church for the priest’s blessing once the services have concluded.  The baskets contain all the foods that could not be eaten during Great Lent: meat, fish, dairy, wine, and oil. Our basket usually includes kielbasa, hunter’s sausage, some serious cheese such as Gruyere, a nice Merlot, Cadbury or Dove chocolate, and some dishes my husband learned from his Carpathian grandmother.  These include boiled bacon and a particular kind of egg bread that is just marvelous.

The Paschal eggs created by Orthodox Christians are by tradition red.  The folk art styles that have risen up around the creation of Pysanky eggs and even the elaborate Faberge jeweled eggs made for the royal house of Russia now provide us with many designs and color combinations to choose from.

Glory to Jesus Christ!  Glory forever!


Filed under chocolate, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Family, Food, history

J for Jack the Giant Slayer

by Lillian Csernica on April 11, 2015

Brace yourselves for yet another ill-conceived 3D extravaganza.

Once again I am puzzled as to why otherwise quality actors would appear in a movie that a detailed plot summary makes clear is not worth the toner it took to print the summary out.  Just look at this:

Here it is, folks.  The silliest suit of armor I have ever seen, and that includes the Vegas showgirl outfits worn by the gods and goddesses in Immortals.

That’s Ian McShane inside that ludicrous golden nightmare, playing King Brahmwell.  Beside him rides Ewan McGregor as Elmont, leader of the king’s knights.

In this version of the classic fairytale Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack takes his horse to market to sell it because his uncle’s farm is in trouble.  He crosses paths with a monk who talks him into trading the horse for some “sacred” beans.

This is Jack, played by Nicholas Hoult.  Is he not the very image of the word “feckless”?

Jack doesn’t know it, but the monk is very much in need of a fast horse, given that he just stole those beans from Lord Roderick.  The best thing I can say about Lord Roderick is that he’s the Bad Guy, played by Stanley Tucci who is always worth watching.

King Brahmwell’s daughter Princess Isabelle is in town incognito when Jack arrives intent on selling the horse.  She is accosted by brigands and Jack steps in to save the day.  It’s “crush at first sight” for these two.  What a pity the King thinks Isabelle should marry Lord Roderick.  Gee, I never saw that coming!

Behold Elinor Tomlinson, who plays Princess Isabelle.  One can see how the movie traumatized the poor lady’s fashion sense.  This is how she chose to appear at the movie’s premiere.

Jack’s uncle is not at all thrilled to know Jack got suckered into accepting this handful of beans.  The beans get pitched out the window.  A storm blows up.  Isabelle, determined to escape marriage to Lord Roderick, gets out of the castle again and takes shelter from the storm in Jack’s house.  A little rain is all one of the “sacred” beans needs.  Whoosh!  Up grows the beanstalk, taking Jack’s house and Isabelle with it.  For some strange reason Jack can’t manage to hang on to anything and gets left behind in a puddle.  I guess this means Jack will just have to brave the beanstalk and rescue poor Isabelle!

I can’t even begin to describe the convoluted goofiness that goes on from there.  Everybody is trying to get their hands on the magic crown that enables the wearer to control the giants who live up at the top of the beanstalk.  Controlling the giants is a very good idea, because they really don’t like humans, except as fiber in their diet.

The humans who don’t get eaten leg it back down the beanstalk and take refuge in the castle.  Elmont dumps oil in the moat and sets it afire, but that’s still not enough to keep the giants at bay.  The leader of the giants, a two-headed heart attack named Fallon, has gained possession of the magic crown.

Here’s Fallon.  Makes Gollum look like Tom Cruise.

Elmont, Isabelle, and Jack are about to become a hero sandwich when Jack throws the last magic bean down Fallon’s throat.  The bean lands in Fallon’s belly and immediately begins to grow, tearing the giant apart from the inside out.

Could it get any more disgusting?  Especially in 3D.


Filed under bad movies, Blog challenges, fantasy, Fiction, Food, Horror, Humor

I for Immortals

by Lillian Csernica on April 10, 2015

Again we visit the gods and heroes of Greek mythology.  Clash of the Titans might have its problems, but Immortals (2011) is just plain ridiculous.

The main story is about King Hyperion’s (Mickey Rourke) desire for vengeance against the gods of Olympus who did not protect his wife and children during the recent war.  The King needs the “Epirus Bow,” which is this time period’s weapon of mass destruction.

Hyperion kidnaps the virgin oracle Phaedre (Frieda Pinto), planning to use her visions to locate the long lost Bow.  In these movies, kidnapping virgin oracles is usually a very bad idea.  Hyperion doesn’t stop there.  He’s going to use the Epirus Bow to free the Titans trapped in Tartarus so they can stomp all over the Olympians who locked them up in Tartarus after kicking their immortal butts.  I’d believe the gods of Olympus I read about in high school could defeat the Titans.  I really cannot give that much credit to the Olympians in this movie.  Why?

This is Kellan Lutz as Poseidon.  Since when did Poseidon ever carry a hammer?  That would be Hephaestus, god of the forge.  Poseidon carries a trident.  In all honesty, I took one look at that helmet and laughed so hard I almost hurt myself.  Good thing the soundtrack was really loud right then, or I might have gotten thrown out of the theater.

Our Hero is Theseus (Henry Cavill), a son of Zeus thanks to yet another of Zeus’ affairs.  I will watch Henry Cavill in anything. (Yes, anything.  Even Man of Steel.)

Hyperion sends his army out to find the Epirus Bow.  In the process the village where Theseus lives is wiped out and Theseus is taken prisoner.  (Once again the classic “You destroyed my village.  Prepare to die.” theme appears!)  While he’s being held captive, Theseus meets his new sidekick Stavros (Stephen Dorff) and the lovely Phaedre, who is gracious enough to organize a prison riot.  Theseus escapes, taking Stavros and Phaedre with him.

From this point on a lot happens, some of it exciting, some of it pure contrivance to build in more action scenes.  Zeus has commanded the gods of Olympus to stay out of the fight and let Theseus handle it himself.  Do the gods obey?  They do not.  So every time Theseus makes a really bad decision and ends up facing a whole lot of Hyperion’s soldiers, one of the rebel Olympians literally falls out of the heavens to come to Theseus’ aid.

By the way, there is a Minotaur in this movie.  I can’t remember why, and for once Wikipedia is no help at all.

During one quiet moment between episodes of facing certain death, Phaedre gives herself to Theseus.  This is a bad idea for two reasons.  One, she’ll lose her powers.  Two, this kind of disrespect tends to anger the gods.  Well, as we’ve already seen, the gods of Olympus in this movie are a bunch of pretty teenagers with impulse control problems, so they don’t abide by the classic rules.

This is Zeus taking a fire-whip to Ares for daring to help Theseus.  What does Zeus care, right?  It’s not like he doesn’t have at least half a dozen other demi-god sons scattered around the Grecian world.

It’s unfortunate that this plot requires close attention to follow, because by the end you realize it just isn’t worth it. What really bothers me is the way the ending cheats the viewer out of some of the usual payoffs for living through the preceding 90+ minutes.  And, last but not least, this movie was created to be shown in 3D.  Did no one in Hollywood learn anything from that Clash of the Titans remake?  Apparently not.


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