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What is Lighttrain?

Welcome aboard friends and travellers alike to the LightTrain! I’m your conductor, but you can call me Gavin if you prefer. I am open to feedback on my features so I can improve upon it.

I have a fixation with film and cartooning, and those things combined with my great writing and a unconvincing backstory make Lighttrain! My favorite things include most films from the late 60s and throughout the 70s, a good slice of cornbread (or a pan for that matter!), people, comic books, writing short stories and drawing artwork for a bunch of pop culture properties. I’m also a sucker for great alternative or electronic music: For the former, I enjoy ‘Kings of Leon’, ‘Of Monsters and Men’, ‘The Lumineers’ and ‘The Postal Service’ – for the latter ‘Clark (specifically for the album Body Riddle) and ‘LFO’ (specifically for the album Frequencies).

This is the hub of a couple of entertaining shows, go ahead and find the ones that intrigue you: Myself reviewing everything from underground and obscure films to some of Hollywood’s newest offerings and even occasionally comics, books, commercials, TV shows, magazines and video games, or you can tune into our sporadic special events where you never know what to expect. Could we be having a live movie night, or am I hosting an awards show with my fellow movie and TV bloggers?

Thank you for reading and maybe check out a review if you would like to. And if you choose to follow the train by punching yourself a ticket then thank you again for supporting my work. Have a excellent rest of your day.

Volt Vulture Official Preview | This Thanksgiving Exclusively on Lighttrain

Lighttrain Productions invites you to the illustrated feature of the Thanksgiving season. From newcomer G.H. Nowak comes: ‘Volt Vulture‘. It’s a ballad of violence, betrayal and redemption like never told in this fashion before, at least we think.


It’s about three criminals: Roger Metrand, the one just trying to leave the crime behind him; Mel Andruzzi, a former martial arts vigilante with a real mean streak of inner demons; and Sonny Duncan, a getaway driver descending down the road of rage. Their journeys will intertwine in a bizarre blend of exploitation and art that will test their own emotional struggles.

The series is also a weekly one, releasing a new episode every Thursday until January 21; That’s 10 episodes for your viewing pleasure.

Featuring tracks played by:

The Centurions | Al Hirt | Lalo Schrifin | Avenger VI | Black Sabbath | Jeff Wayne | Painted Faces | The Ventures | Frank Sinatra | Rear Exits | Link Wray and the Wraymen | Yamasuki | and Keith Mansfield

PREMIERS ON LIGHTTRAIN REVIEWS. COM ON NOVEMBER 12th

Top Gun Review: Does the Film Crash and Burn? | LightTrain

Greetings and welcome back aboard the LightTrain: “Exploring the Realms of Film”. I’m your conductor and today we’re going to go over Top Gun, released in 1986 and directed by Tony Scott. Now, Top Gun‘s sequel, Maverick, was originally slated for release this summer but has since been moved. We’ll cover that one in the future but for now let’s look back into the Danger Zone and analyze Top Gun, Let’s get this show on the road!

Set at the Naval Air Station Miramar, we follow the emotional resolutions of the young aviator Pete Mitchell, call name “Maverick”. Additionally are Nick Bradshaw, call name “Goose”, Mitchell’s friend and Radar Intercept Officer; Charlie Blackwood, Pete’s romantic interest, and LT Tom Kazansky, call name “Iceman”, his aerial rival. Will Maverick’s ghosts continue to haunt him? Will he manage to win the TOPGUN program?

Let’s get the bad elements out of the way first. The dialogue and emotional story beats mostly trip over themselves, with not much buildup and folding up with disappointing conclusions. It’s not that the ideas are bad, just the execution could’ve been more of a slow burn. Some scenes I felt could be removed and it wouldn’t effect the plot like the out-of-place volleyball sequence. It’s honestly a predictable, bland serving of oatmeal. Now, I like oatmeal myself, but definitely not the unseasoned sludgy sort that represents Top Gun. Long story brief: avoid scenes of interaction.

All of the above are rather minor stains on the big picture, however some stains like this one have the apparent faculty to leave one sour. This is referring to the romance between Kelly McGillis as Charlie and Tom Cruise as the titular Maverick. Their interactions with another have as much emotion and feeling as two androids out for a sub or something (if androids could eat subs, that is). Utterly hollow and kind of pointless. A good subject I took in regard from a video essay suggested that romantic arcs are similar to original musical numbers in movies in that, when handled well they can remarkably elevate the picture or sink it’s own ship. I’m sure you know what Top Gun‘s arc fits into.

Ok, let’s actually get to the positive points which the film does indeed have. The performances were all spectacular when you thin a majority of the lines out, with kudos to the extremely young Tom Cruise as Maverick, Kate McGillis as Charlie, Val Kilmer as Iceman. My particular favorite actor though was Anthony Williams whom played Pete’s friend Goose. Reflecting back to a paragraph ago, when Goose and Maverick both suffer from a terrible loss (which is how I’m going to word it for those who haven’t seen Top Gun) I was never really saddened by it, providing proof on my point that it’s emotional half is a mess.

Finally, the aerial scenes. Brilliant. The way they are meticulously choreographed to properly show the jets movements in a clean matter is masterful, and I applaud it. The camera manages such great shots that the audience can define each ships placement, which is no easy feat when lazy filmmakers would just swish and flip the camera everywhere, which only blurs the entire setting.

So in the end, yeah, Top Gun is one side a sloppy and beat-for-beat recreation of varied cliches; the other a stunning visual dogfighting experience. I appreciate the crew for trying to have substance, even when it weighs the film down immensely. It kicks off with a smooth takeoff before it jettisons and jerks and ending with a fair enough landing for viewers to accept.

RATING: 5/10 “Messy”


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NEXT | 5 Twilight Zone Rip Offs Reviewed

Dr. X: Exploitation Film Trailer Special Vol. 1 – LightTrain

Oh, hello and welcome back aboard the Train. Being locked up inside truly is a bore, isn’t it? Throw into the mix social distancing and a supreme lack of motivation and I’ve become a wreck. I dare say you have too. So I did what I always do when I’m down in the dumps, I watch classic commercials and trailers. Specifically exploitation trailers because they’re so silly and oddball that they’re fun to just watch and laugh at. Hey, why not talk about that? This is Volume One of reacting to B-movie trailers, let’s get this show on the road.

Black Belt Jones (1974)

Throughout the 70s a particularly popular type of these features were called ‘blaxpoitation’ and had African-American leads. One of the forefathers of the genre was Black Belt Jones, a martial arts comedy. If you thought all that was too weird then consider tuning out my friend because these trailers will get progressively stranger.

AD INTERVAL | Heath Candy Bar

Westworld (1973)

This film was directed by Michael Crichton, whom perhaps you may have heard of. That’s right, Michael wrote the novel Jurassic Park which became a blockbuster feature in 1993. So, what is Westworld? It’s Jurassic Park but with robots instead of dinosaurs. I’m half spitting facts and another half totally joking.

Stunt Rock (1978)

See what I mean by silly now? Most of the trailer is stunts taking place on those split screens while hard rock music is playing in the background. Oh, also some random guy dressed up as a wizard. Goodness gracious…

The Dirty Heroes (1967)

Among the obscure genres surrounding the exploitation craze some of the strangest ones were understood by their titles alone: Macaroni Combats and Spaghetti Westerns. They were plays on American Hollywood themes, a war movie and a western, made Italian. Dirty Heroes was among the wave of “macaroni”‘s. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind seeing it, though the dubbing is quite humorous for the serious tone it’s attempting.

Ad Interval | Evel Knievel Bicycle Commercial

Hercules and the Captive Women (1961)

This one’s an oldie but a goodie. For me personally, my favorite part was when that fellow (Hercules?) dived straight into the ocean from the ledge; That’s more hardcore than a dodgy tattoo parlor and Stunt Rock put together! For your information, the entire film is available on YouTube if your interested. Me? I’ll stick to the far more hardcore Rampage at the Waffle House, thank you very much.

Kingdom of the Spiders (1977)

Ah yes, the movie about William Shatner and Co. murdering thousands of innocent, defenseless spiders. According to research, the crew used the real creeping-crawling deal, also killing many of them for entertainments sake. That’s both dedication to your project and completely sick. They should put that on the poster: ‘Kingdom of the Spiders: With real 100% Tarantula!‘.

~ Transmission Disconnected ~

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NEXT | Disaster Double Review

The Art of Genndy Tartakovsky’s STAR WARS: CLONE WARS – LightTrain

May the force be with you my friend, for it is Star Wars day! Here handling the locomotive’s controls is G.H Nowak, your conductor. Ah, The Clone Wars, a CGI action cartoon with fluid battles and captivating tales; it may have began stiff and uninspired but with the seasons came something so much more heartfelt and mesmerizing – huh? “Not that one”? Well which one do you mean? Oh, ok. We’re actually examining the microseries Star Wars: Clone Wars from 2003 which was created by Genndy Tartakovsky of Samurai Jack and Dexter’s Laboratory. As with Jack and Dexter, Clone Wars aired on Cartoon Network though unlike those two it played during commercial breaks in bite-sized 2-3 minute episodes.

The story is the first of many interpretations of the fictional Clone Wars that take place in between Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Since the episodes are rather short in length, a full structured story is meager. The most that Clone Wars has to offer in terms of effect on the saga is Anakin’s steady descent into rage and defiance of the Jedi Council until he eventually snaps in Revenge of the Sith. Otherwise, side events include tons of terrific action and the introduction of Asajj Ventress and General Grievous.

But what brilliant action it is! It’s pretty much like Samurai Jack but with Jedi… and it’s a joy to watch. Most of the episodes are just a Jedi Knight and a platoon of clones infiltrating various planets; Obi-Wan has a continuous battle on Muunilinst, Kit Fisto has a one-episode assault on Mon Calamari, and Mace Windo literally takes a giant shuttle on by hand. Each blow and hit and explosion feels solid and has genuine impact. In short, Clone Wars has some of the most tightly choreographed and well-executed battles in the franchises history, which is quite a feat when they all have ‘Wars’ in the title.

Of course, not everything comes without its flaws, even if they are paltry. The animation is stylized and it mostly works, except for the occasional character design (Palpatine and Shaak Ti for example) that just feel off. Grey DeLisle, whom voices Padme and Asajj, is uninspired and doesn’t fit either character’s voices enough to have been selected.

Again, those are just minor changes I would have tweaked to still a very good series. It is probably leagues better than anything the prequels or sequels did on a artistic level as well as not meandering to its audience with fanservice for cheap enjoyment (I’m looking at you, Rise of Skywalker). Another thing Clone Wars proves is that it can also stand on its own as a piece of science fiction masterwork, not just having its identity be “Star Wars” . If you’re love animation or stylish action in general, I highly recommend watch the show’s first volume on YouTube when your done; you will not regret it.

RATING: 9.5/10 “Go See It!”

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NEXT | UNKNOWN, BUT YOU CAN CHECK OUT MY PREVIOUS POST IF YOU WANT MORE

4 Lost/Destroyed Pieces of Lost Media Vol. 1 – Out of Order

Hey guys and welcome back aboard for episode 2 of Out of Order, the show where I count down a variety of topics in completely mixed up array. It’s also rather gloomy where the Train is traveling through so now’s a perfect time to begin delving into my new lost media series. This term applies to all forms of entertainment where fragments and bits of the finished project have been removed and either locked away in a studio archive or destroyed forever. Examining these lost segments is a nice treat, allowing your mind to run wild with possibilities on why it was removed, where they are now or if they even existed at all. Welcome to volume 1 of the Lost Media arc of Out of Order; let’s get this show on the road.

Case File I: The R-Rated Raiders of the Lost Ark

The 1981 action adventure Raiders of the Lost Ark starring Harrison Ford as the titular hero Indiana Jones soon became the highest grossing film of that year and is considered one of the best films in its genre as well as in general. But if you told me that it was originally stamped with a R rating from the MPAA, I would be enthralled. A truck-ton of elongated scenes were cut from the final feature which consisted of a stretched out duel with the swordsman and an uncertain amount of profanity, plus so much more. Out of all those scenes, only the longer swordsman sequence and a kiss between Indy and Marion were leaked online, although the latter is now unavailable to view. Bummer.

But C’mon… I think we’re all grateful to have gotten that hilarious moment in the final film.

One of the gruesome of these deleted scenes is the original version of Belloq’s head exploding. In the theatrical cut the blood and gore is heavily blurred by the flames shooting out of the Ark, but in this one the flames are no longer obscuring the graphics of it all. While there was no video per say, the Will McCrabb Twitter page unleashed a pair of the shots to the public on November 14 2013. Take a look:

Man, that’s brutal. Anybody here got some band-aids and an ice pack?

Case File II: Wilkins and Wontkins’ Missing Ads

As a man who binges old commercials on his free time, I can say I’ve come across the Wilkins Coffee commercials from the late 50s before. According to my sources, the famed puppeteer and brainchild of the Muppets, Jim Henson, was hired by the Wilkins Coffee company to produce quick 10 second advertisements for their brand. The ads featured two characters who resemble the puppet icons Kermit and Elmo quite a lot, Wilkins and Wontkins, with each and every interstitial having Wilkins suggest that the other have a cup of the stuff, before Wontkins meets his painful fate when he refuses the offer.

“Drink our rich, dark Wilkins Coffee… or you shall SUFFER!”

If I’m being honest, this is an excellent advertising campaign and will get many people interested in the product, me included. They were accordingly a success for the brand, and Jim would later go on to create about 179 commercials for additional companies. Some of the said “additional companies” comprise of Community Coffee, Red Diamond Coffee and various bread and beverage brands.

The ads were converted to color by 1966 as you can now tell

Only 100 of the 179 commercials starring Wilkins and Wontkins have been found, while I believe that the remaining lost ads are more likely than not archived somewhere in the Jim Henson estate. The last verified interstitial promoted Community Coffee and was released in 1969. Of course, it’s unsure if Jim made more commercials than what was confirmed nor if any have been destroyed. Luckily, that gives us plenty of prompts for conspiracy theories on their whereabouts.

Case File III: Nintendo Power and the Apocryphal Prize

Let’s travel back to 1994 following the financial hit of the Jim Carrey comedy The Mask, and due to the success the studio was on board with a sequel. Apparently for the executives, Jim Carrey was seeking a new acting challenge and turned down a 10 million dollar salary to return as Stanley Ipkiss. Despite Carrey’s refusal to star, it is very much possible that the sequel had began some kind of production. Case in point, the video game magazine Nintendo Power launched a contest in which the winner would visit the set of The Mask II as an extra. This lucky reader was Nathan Runk, who was eventually contacted by the Nintendo Power staff after the news concerning Carrey was announced.

Nathan explaining winning the contest

Thankfully in 2005 the world would finally get the long-awaited continuation of The Mask. Yeah, the original cast wasn’t back, but that hardly – what!? Son of the Mask. Oh no… it can’t possibly be…

We’ll be Back with another Piece of Lost Media after these messages.

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Out of Order now returns…

Case File IV: Cartoon Network Ultimate Holiday Wishlist

During the Christmas season, the cable channel Cartoon Network allowed viewers to purchase animation-themed gifts on their website. But in 2003, they went a tad bit out of control with these gifts: now you could have your room decorated like the Powerpuff girls or maybe even Dexter’s own lab! How about Space Ghost’s desk from his talk show or Harvey Birdman’s full-sized car. No, a 42-feet high, 5-room, full blown Kids Next Door treehouse! And this a conspiracy was born.

The ad promoting the KND treehouse

According to my research, no one had bought this for the whopping 1 million dollar price tag accompanied with it. According to a article written by the New York Post, the senior marketing director of the channel, Greg Heanue, stated this, “A few people have been interested, but when we call them back, for assorted reasons the funding fell through.” Heanue also said that so far the only potential buyers have been young kids and not some multi-millionare who happens to enjoy the show Codename: Kids Next Door.

Only one of the treehouses have been constructed by Cartoon Network which leaves us to simply wonder, “Where is the treehouse now?”. My head canon is that it was all just a stunt to see if anyone would buy the gargantuan thing, which nobody happened to. Now the dream of living in the KND treehouse is over as it was probably left to decay in the Turner archives.

~~ Transmission Disconnected ~~

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NEXT | Disaster Movie Double Review (?)

40 Subscriber Special! – Updates – The Future of Volt Vulture – QnA

Greetings again and deepest condolences from your conductor G.H Nowak for 40 subscribers! Thank you everyone that actually enjoy reading my opinions, it’s a true blessing to have all of you. Shootout to all my remarkable passengers:

Afterwards I highly suggest visit some of those blogs. You never know, you may even follow them. 🙂 As for my Email subscribers, here’s their well-deserved recognition:

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Apologies for the hiatus I’m doing, though remember a ton of projects are still in the making. For the disaster double-review, I haven’t squeezed in 4 hours yet to binge both yet so it will be delayed again for a bit longer. Luckily, other posts including another episode of Out of Order (btw, thank you for the high viewership of episode 1!) and a Pixar 4-part mega review, Star Wars: Clone Wars microreview on May 4th and talking about Twilight Zone “rip-offs” are all in the writing process. I’d say that the next post will be Episode 2 of Out of Order on Thursday or sometime close to that.

What about Volt Vulture? The first draft is complete and sealed but character designs are still being touched-up. I’m so very sorry I can’t show you the concept art yet like I said I would. Disappointing, indeed.

A preview with all the concept art, the first scene of the story, and a full synopsis will probably be released in early June while the first chapter will be launched sometime in September with a new chapter every week until mid-December.


Now its come time for a little QnA segment I thought would be fun. Let’s begin!

  • Q. Where do you live? A. Temecula, California, though I consider Oahu, Hawaii my true home.
  • Q. What is your biggest quirk? A. Hmm.. That I watch old TV commercials for fun. I dunno why they’re just so captivating.
  • Q. What inspired you to get into blogging? A. Well, when I was younger people would always say how great of a writer I was. I still continued to write constantly and I was originally planning to make LightTrain Reviews a YouTube channel. However, my editing and filming skills were floundering and I hardly had any good software. Thankfully a friend of mine who also blogs suggested I do that as well; I coincided and ended up here.
  • Q. Favorite Tv show/anime? A. I really enjoy ‘Space Ghost Coast to Coast ‘, ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’ (another inspiration), ‘Animaniacs’as you can tell I’m more of the witty and dry comedy kind of guy. I don’t watch a lot of anime but I have enjoyed segments of ‘Trigun‘, ‘Cowboy Bebop’, ‘Lupin the III Part II ‘ and ‘The Big O ‘.
  • Q. Favorite Celebrity? A. Eh… Ralph Fiennes and Keanu Reeves I suppose. Wait, are those celebrities?
  • Q. What is the best ice cream flavor? A. The best? If I’m speaking for everyone I’d say Vanilla (since everyone’s at least OK with it) but my personal favorite is Rocky Road or Coconut.
  • Q. What Books do you absolutely love? A. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Dune and Trash: The Graphic Genius of Exploitation Movie Posters.
  • Q. Are you a Dog person or a Cat person? A. I like both but since I have a pet cat I guess I’ll side with them.
  • Q. Which upcoming projects are you excited for? A. Mostly the Dune movie and Masters of the Universe: Revelation on Netflix.
  • Q. A yellow fruit? A. Pineapple.
  • Q. Are you done? A. Mm-hm

Again thank you everyone for the support and love and I’ll see you guys later. Buh-bye!

Illumination's HOP Review – LightTrain

Good morning Vietnam! Welcome aboard and happy Easter, I’m your conductor G.H speaking. It’s usually a good bet for a studio to produce a holiday film, since television networks will air it every year with luck and you could perhaps earn royalties each time. Halloween and most notably Christmas have far to much competition to deal with, though that leaves a possible jackpot out in the open for others to snatch up. Enter the 2011 live action film Hop directed by Tim Hill of Alvin and the Chipmunks, which is based off the Easter season. Let’s get this show on the road!

The plot is about the son of the Easter Bunny, E.B (voice acted by Russel Brand), the heir to his father’s title. Despite the prestigious reputation, E.B would rather follow his passion of performing the drums and flees to Los Angeles to achieve stardom. There he is taken in by the unemployed human slacker Frederick O’Hare after being inadvertently hit with his car. Elsewhere on Easter Island, E.B’s father has sent his royal guards the Pink Berets to recover E.B while the Mexican second-in-command of Mr. Bunny, the chick Carlos, schemes with the fellow chicken assistants to overthrow the bunnies and nullify the holiday to their image.

Right off the bat, I have a few things to say about the film’s heavy-handed message. Now, the theme isn’t bad on paper, learning to accept that people may not fit into the molds you want them in. E.B wants to become a drummer for a band rather than take up the duties of being the Easter bunny, which is somewhat of a hole. The Bunny himself really just monitors the production of those sweet treats and only becomes dedicated to the job once a year, delivering eggs that is. So couldn’t that mean E.B can do the Easter bunny’s minor responsibilities and still play music on his free time? But wait, there’s another issue involving the right-hand man Carlos as well. Now, disagree if you wish, but wouldn’t it click in with the story’s subject matter if he became the new Easter bunny despite being born a chick, since E.B participates in the music industry despite being born his father’s successor? It would make theme and logical sense because chickens lay eggs not bunnies, right? I’m beginning to get off track, let’s continue.

The film, I would say, does a solid job clearly spelling out each one’s motivations even if they’re still a bit… much. For example, 2/3s of the way into the flick Frederick suddenly decides that he can replace E.B as the new honcho. Yes, they actually went with this, though that at least provides me more reason for my Easter chick hypothesis. It really feels like Illumination took their Easter film and have it a Christmas zest with a sleigh and everything. That reminds me, Hop when you briefly analyze it honestly has nothing to do with the holiday; how could you have the first theatrical Easter movie without anyone even celebrating it or exploding Peeps™ in their microwave?

The way the film plays out is also rather flabbergasting; unlike the preferred structure template of a straight plotline which shoots up or down with the main character’s journey, Hop has numerous branches which grow out and end before they get anywhere. Take Fred’s job interview at a video game development, which has so much potential in and of itself. Though by the time the scenes done, nothing interesting happens to keep kids enthralled. When the emotional story arc wraps up at the end, the Easter bunny bestows E.B and Fred co-Easter bunnies together. Wait a minute, you would allow a human you’ve never met before with questionable skills have the title than your perennial proxy all because he’s a chick? This is more ridiculous than Werewolves on Wheels!

With a cluttered plot, flat characters and a undercooked plan for the moral, Hop reminds me all too much of those chocolate rabbits: Their occasionally impressive CGI and promising setup may feel appetizing to the senses, but the overload of cheap, factory-produced richness is enough to make older audiences sick to their stomach.

RATING: 3.5/10 “Eh”

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NEXT | A DISASTER DOUBLE REVIEW – ITS OF DIRE PROPORTIONS!

Top 7 Most Expensive Theatrical Film Disasters – Out of Order

Welcome to Out of Order, the show where I count subjects down – out of order. Who would’ve thought, right? When a film fails to earn it’s budget back from theatrical ticket sales they are bestowed the dismaying crown of a box office bomb. And that’s what we’ll be talking about today, the Top Seven Biggest Box Office Bombs in Cinemas. Numberwise for this list we will subtract it’s budget from the money it made, then adjust it for inflation: The larger the loss, the bigger the flop. Let’s get this show on the road.

2. CUTTHROAT ISLAND (1995)

Up their with one of the most chaotic productions ever was Cutthroat Island, a swashbuckler adventure film directed by Renny Harlin who also worked on Cliffhanger and Die Hard 2. It was eventually dumped into theaters and lost:

BUDGET: $90,000,000 –
BOX OFFICE: $10,017,322 +
LOSS: $87,982,678
ADJUSTED: $149,338,472.31

Wow, 149,338,472 dollars total. Now, there’s an interesting history behind the scenes. Harlin pitched an idea for his then-wife Geena Davis, known for her roles in The Fly with Jeff “Uh” Goldblum as well as Beetlejuice, to star in an action film. The studio that produced the film, Carolco, was already deep in debt and was close to shutting down while MGM, the distribution company, couldn’t commit to promote the film as they were in the process of a buyout. Things were only worse on set, including more than two dozen crew members leaving the project, constant rewrites by an unsatisfied Harlin, even the cinematographer Oliver Wood broke his leg only one week into filming.

The management was a mess, and the lukewarm response both critically and financially reflected that. In a 2011 radio interview, Harlin admitted that Carolco was practically dead even before filming began. It’s easy to say that Cutthroat Island burned all Hollywood interest in pirate features until Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl rejuvenated the genre’s potential. Who knows, maybe I’ll talk about this movie more in the future.

3. THE ADVENTURES OF PLUTO NASH (2002)

Behold, Eddie Murphy at probably his worse in the history of his career, and that’s saying something. This is The Adventures of Pluto Nash, a film too unfit for children though too immature for adults led it to scoop up only:

BUDGET: $100,000,000 –
BOX OFFICE: $7,103,973 +
LOSS: $92,896,027
ADJUSTED: $141,339,742.48

Just over 7 million dollars. I have somewhat of a theory for it’s flop as there aren’t any reasons behind it that I could find. I believe that, as mentioned in the opening paragraph, The Adventures of Pluto Nash outed about 3/4 of demographics: It’s a PG-13 rated comedy with Eddie Murphy which ‘X’s out young folks, it’s too juvenile and silly for adults, and seniors, I could only assume, aren’t interested. This leaves only teenagers that would gobble up this movie, but even they couldn’t make up for the modest budget (for a comedy, that is).

Well, maybe critics enjoyed it? Erm, bad news for Warner Bros. – It not only lost 90 million dollars, but additionally Pluto Nash was universally despised by critics and audiences as well. Nobody really talks about Pluto Nash, and it was a challenge to scavenge for information on it’s history or Eddie Murphy’s thoughts reminiscing about it. Oh well, on to the next bomb…

6. FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN (2001)

Let me take you back to medieval times of old, the year 1997. There was an idea to create CG “actors” that, like real human performers, would star in a myriad of movies as different characters. The test run of this mind-boggling breakthrough came in the form of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Well-known powerhouse actors like Tom Hanks were worried that this technique would be the future, but it was clear that when this experiment lost:

BUDGET: $137,000,000 –
BOX OFFICE: $85,131,830 +
LOSS: $51,868,170
ADJUSTED: $75,803,132.65

75 million dollars, that it just wasn’t going to work like they thought. I genuinely feel for the production team behind Final Fantasy, it feels like they were passionate about the concept of CG actors getting off the ground: one of the producers actually had the guts to compare their flick to Show White and the Seven Dwarves‘ technological achievements. It also turns out that the main computer animated personality ‘Aki Ross’ appeared in Maxim magazine’s Top One Hundred Hottest Women of 2001 issue and ranked at 87 by readers.

This dip in the “uncanny valley” has been left to be forgotten about in time, despite the given effort poured into this passion project. I wonder what an alternate reality where Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within didn’t bomb and animated actors became the norm. ‘Twas not meant to be…

1. The 13th Warrior (1999)

This is an example of just because of not receiving its profit back doesn’t equate to a bad movie: The 13th Warrior, a historical action epic crafted by the minds of Michael Crichton and John McTiernen. Despite the talent behind the movie, it wasn’t worth a trip to the cinema for audiences, losing:

BUDGET: $160,000,000 –
BOX OFFICE: $61,698,899 +
LOSS: $98,301,101
ADJUSTED: $152,631,045.65

152 million dollars, holy cow! It really was potential that got flushed down the drain when the run-of-the-mill critical response flooded onto the picture. You have the geniuses behind Jurassic Park, Die Hard, the Westworld film, and Predator; What could go wrong? Besides everything. I believe that the fact The Sixth Sense had been released three weeks prior and was a smash hit played at least a minor role in The 13th Warrior‘s financial disaster. Although critics were mostly unimpressed by the attempt, quite a bit of mainstream viewers have looked upon it favorably, with a few even claiming the movie was a neglected classic.

The 13th Warrior is a mess, but hey, audiences enjoy it. Do I think the movie deserves a critical reappraisal? I don’t know because I couldn’t figure out how to watch it; I’ll leave that decision up to you guys, my duty is to entertain you with my nerdy movie and TV knowledge. Speaking of which, let’s continue shall we…

4. MARS NEEDS MOMS (2011)

Hey, remember The Polar Express? I’m sure you do, it’s practically a staple of the holiday season. Well, the company which funded the project, Image Movers Digital, who are known for their use of motion capture CGI, closed operations in 2011 two months before their last “hurrah”, Mars Needs Moms, got released and ended up suffering a:

BUDGET: $150,000,000 –
BOX OFFICE: $39,233,678 +
LOSS: $110,766,322
ADJUSTED: $127,380,359.31

127 million dollar debt. After A Christmas Carol didn’t satisfy Disney’s thirst for money, they allowed Image Movers to produce one more film before they would cease exercise all together in 2011. Enter Simon Wells, a storyboard artist for Who Framed Roger Rabbit as well as a consultant for Back to the Future Part II and III and The Polar Express, whom was drawn to a story titled ‘Mars Needs Moms’. Wells then decided to write and direct his very own adaption of Mars Needs Moms, and Disney announced it as IMD’s final flick. If you think Final Fantasy cranked up to the red on the Creep-O-Meter, I suggest stay away from Mars Needs Moms. Trust me, it’s for the best. It’s failure was a surprise to nobody, notably due to its visuals and word-of-mouth spreading on social media networks with everyone hyping up for Battle: Los Angeles instead.

Image Movers had to put off development on a Yellow Submarine remake, a Roger Rabbit sequel, another Nutcracker adaptation (which I believe became The Nutcracker and the Four Realms) and Michael Dougherty’s Calling All Robots; Don’t worry about the latter though, as Dougherty went on to create the praised horror anthology Trick r Treat, so at least he found recognition.

We’ll return with more bombs after these messages…


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7. John Carter (2012)

These last two features just go to show that even megalomaniac corporations like Disney are immune from all gunshots fired at them. First, John Carter from 2012, based on the influential pulp series Barsoom and helmed by Andrew Stanton in his live-action debut after his directorial works on Finding Nemo and Wall-E. What’s the worse that could hap –

BUDGET: $306,600,000 (Gross) –
BOX OFFICE: $284,139,100 +
LOSS: $22,460,900
ADJUSTED: $25,306,152.12

Oh, yeah that. Okay, get comfortable if you weren’t already because we’ve got a bunch of intriguing facts about this production. Ready? Cool, so since way back in 1931 the Barsoom serials have been intended for a theatrical adaptation, being tossed around to Looney Tunes honcho Bob Clampett for a cartoon feature and even to Robert Rodriguez, before controversy involving Sin City had him replaced by Jon Favreau. Both of these attempts ended up hitting dead ends though, also being subsequently dropped for another studio to scoop up. Of course this would eventually be Walt Disney Pictures, specifically Stanton. He pitched his script to the reluctant executives, claiming it as “Indiana Jones on Mars” and a possible Star Wars competitor. By now you could tell they were on board and agreed to Stanton’s saga kickstarter.

There was plans laid out for a trilogy, but when the results came in the remaining two films were put under the guillotine regarding the path Disney and Stanton would head down. Stanton, co-writers Mark Andrews and Mike Chabon, and cast members Taylor Kitsch and Willam Dafoe pushed with the original proposal, though Disney eventually sold the rights. Here’s a fun little fact: It was planned to be titled John Carter of Mars at one point, but due to Mars Needs Moms‘ bomb a year earlier, Disney opted out, dreading deja vu. Tell me in the comments below, do you think if they kept this name it would have earned more, less, or the same amount of income? Now, let’s wrap up this episode ’cause I’m tired and I wanna be done with it.

5. The Lone Ranger (2013)

After Mars Needs Moms and John Carter managed to scrape off about three-fourths of their budget, Disney was definite they would avoid these mistakes for a third time. Don’t allow costs to spiral out of control, play it safe, and have a decent enough marketing campaign.

BUDGET: $365 Million – 400 Million –
BOX OFFICE: $260,502,115 +
LOSS: $124,500,000 (Estimated)
ADJUSTED: $138,246,161.31 (Estimated)

Too soon? So, in early 2002, Columbia Pictures had plans for a Lone Ranger full-length feature based off the titular radio and television series character. It was intended to have a tone comparable to The Mask of Zorro, another incarnation of a vigilante icon from a 60s property. After being trapped in development hell for three years, Columbia forfeited the idea, favoring to focus on their fresh new Star Trek era of movies. With that backstory, let me convert a long tale shorter and fast-forward to 2010, where Jerry Bruckheimer, known best for producing the Pirates of the Caribbean installments, has stumbled upon the Lone Ranger rights. After being bestowed permission by Disney executives, Jerry eventually lassoed up the director of the first three PotC adventures, Gore Verbinski, as well as it’s writers Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio, the former whom had also written Mask of Zorro. I’m beginning to believe everything’s coming around full circle… are you?

After a typhoon of delays including wildfires, chickenpox outbreak and damp weather conditions led to multiple pushbacks, Gore Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger premiered at last in 2013. And then this. It’s difficult to tell what caused it’s flop: possibilities range from the negative reviews to unfamiliarity with the source material to maybe even the graphic heart-eating moment. Whatever the reason may have been, Lone Ranger still manages to remain one of Disney’s biggest embarrassments.


And that just about completes this episode of Out of Order, check back next time for some spooky and unsolved lost media mysteries. Clickety clack down the track, I’m out.

~~ Transmission Disconnected ~~

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Monty Python and The Holy Grail Review – LightTrain

G’day Mate, and welcome back aboard. If you’re new here, I’m your conductor Gavin Nowak; Pleased to meet you! In these stirring times whatever that may mean to you currently, a goofy comedy movie or show is excellent medicine. And the icing on the cake, no side effects! Thankfully I switched on a quaint film that’s full of humor called Monty Python and The Holy Grail, and although it hit hilarious highs it also plummeted rather deep. Now, here’s the Lighttrain take on The Holy Grail: Let’s get this show on the road.

The flick is at its core a collection of segments glued together by a summarized plotline: Located way back in 932 A.D. Britain, King Arthur is searching the land for men who are brave and pure at heart to become his Knights of the Round Table. Along the search, Arthur and his men are given a new quest, to retrieve the holy grail itself. Can the Knights dodge many silly dangers and obtain the Grail?

As briefly mentioned The Holy Grail is unlike the hundreds-of-thousands of comedies in that it’s entirely made up of interconnected, medieval-themed skits. If your craving context, the eponymous ‘Monty Python’ in the title is referencing the lampoon troupe who had previously been known best for their sketch show Monty Python’s Flying Circus on the BBC in the early 1970s. This pretty clearly explains why the film’s structure is like this, since it’s what the Pythons are familiar with. Using the construction of a sketch series can also accompanied by its own pitfalls. For example…

The differing quality of the segments. When the Monty Python gang strike gold, they strike it out well. Scenes like the Knights of Ni, debating about witch hunting, the murderous rabbit, the taunting Frenchmen to even the opening credits are ripped straight out of a mind of comic artistry, and never fails to amuse me. However, a grim chunk of the middle including the castle filled with concupiscent women and Lancelot mistakenly vanquishing attendance at a wedding celebration represent the weeds inhabiting a fruitful garden. Throughout the feature, you may wonder if the climax shall leave a foul taste lingering in your mouth. Without revealing too many facts, it depends on the type of humor you savor though I personally enjoyed it.

The Holy Grail is an explosion of zaniness, and with a feature so galvanizing I think I would say I prefer Monty Python in portions rather than a full length film. Not that it’s necessarily overpowering perse, just that it matches my preferred pace.

While most certainly not everyone’s style, the non-stop enthusiasm is difficult to detest. Sure it has it’s low points, but it resurrects your inner goof with stellar wit and a undeniable talent for what the Pythons have designed. It’s not their most even work, but it might possibly be their funniest.

RATING: 7/10 “Definite Reccomend”

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How My Ratings System Works

1/10 – Garbage Movie “Avoid”

Pretty much unwatchable. Every single element is stained, and redeeming qualities are nonexistent.

2/10 – Awful Flick “Not worth your time”

Slightly more better than a One. These are usually just as dreadful, but this time around there is at least one redeeming feature, like a specific scene or certain character you liked.

3/10 – Pretty Bad ” Ignore “

Simply put: A boring film. You find yourself constantly checking to see when it’s over.

4/10 – Mediocre “Wait for streaming”

Nothing special. Mostly leaves you craving more.

5/10 – Guilty Pleasure ” If you’re interested, check it out”

As the name implies, a movie that isn’t solid quality-wise, but a very entertaining and fun watch.

6/10 – Alright “Wait for DVD or Blu-Ray”

This is the first “Good” rating. Your glad you saw it, but you have no interest seeing it again in a jiffy.

7/10 – Good ” Recommended”

A film that you can recommend to anyone. Like mediocre, nothing groundbreaking, but unlike that rating movies with a Seven are still very enjoyable.

8/10 – Great “See it in Theaters”

A solid, entertaining experience. Nothing more, nothing less.

9/10 – Excellent “Highly Recommend”

A near flawless film, but had a spot or two that stained it overall, though very mildly.

10/10 – Golden Reel ” Definite Must-See “

It speaks for itself. A very watchable, amusing, heartfelt and beautiful blend of a flick.


THURSDAY, MARCH 26 | Monty Python and The Holy Grail Review