Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with Vern, at his hilarious best when picking apart Steven Seagal's hilarious worst... Below, Vern pitches a new Seagal masterpiece to the studios, shames New Line for changing the title of SNAKES ON A PLANE and coins the term "Avid fart" which is brilliant. Enjoy!
I wish I could review a new Steve Seagal picture for you fellas every day, but unfortunately he only comes out with them every 5 months. Looks like you ran my review of INTO THE SUN (click to read Vern's comments on that particular movie) last New Year's Eve, and now after nearly half a year of stumbling through life an empty shell, going through the motions, a movie called SUBMERGED will end the drought later this month. Harry, I assume we'll be seeing this one on your DVD preview. You got fuckin SPLASH and NATIONAL TREASURE on there man I don't see how you can justify dismissing this one. Not that I'm recommending this piece of shit, except to the most dedicated Seagalogists.
"At 20,000 fathoms the only creature more dangerous than a biological mutant is...man"
That's the tagline for SUBMERGED according to IMDB, and it makes a good point. There are no biological mutants in the movie, there are only a bunch of dudes. But a bunch of dudes (i.e. "man") are MORE DANGEROUS THAN A BIOLOGICAL MUTANT! Imagine how scary a movie could be if it was all about... man.
Actually, I guess the movie used to be about "biological mutants" which would've been new territory for Mr. Seagal, who has never faced a sci-fi or horror threat other than voodoo attack in BELLY OF THE BEAST. But at some point they dumped the premise of mutants-on-a-sub and turned it into MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE ripoff. Now it's about terrorists using mind control to turn American soldiers into assassins. They are triggered by a series of weird images (a windmill in front of a red sky, a woman standing on a cliff, a naked CGI chick) which makes for an unusual opening credits sequence for a Seagal picture, at least.
First the movie pulls a DIRTY DOZEN, or at least a xXx2. Seagal and his "crew" are some kind of super badass special ops types who are in the joint because of some incident where they stopped a terrorist plot described by one character as "another 9-11... except at sea." Seagal gets a funny entrance, shackled, walking slo-mo with JOONK JOONK JOONK rock guitars. The fuckin Man needs these guys to kill the terrorist that's doing this mind control thing, so they offer them a pardon and $100,000 each. There's really no time to develop these supporting characters so instead they just freeze them and write their name, military unit and specialty on the screen. (This same technique was used to introduce the bad guys in OUT FOR A KILL, but that time it also specified hobbies.)
One positive thing: one member of the crew is Vinnie Jones. He's the most notable actor in a Seagal movie in several years. The days when Seagal could get a Michael Caine or an Eric Bogosian to be in a movie are long gone, so this is a pretty big deal. They don't really give the guy a character to play, but he does what he does. It's nice to have at least one guy with some sort of presence in these straight to video movies.
Then it pulls a SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, or at least that's probaly what they were thinking when they removed frames and shook the camera around. But the scene is just some soldiers out in a field, and there's exploding goats. I would explain it if I knew how but this is apparently one of those Seagal pictures that you have to watch 2 or 3 times before you really *get* it, so you'll have to wait.
Then it's UNDER SIEGE on a submarine (DIE HARD on a boat on a submarine). Or you think so, for about ten minutes. But they get out of the sub and it blows up, and it's less than an hour into the movie. So forget about 20,000 fathoms. At sea level, there's only one thing more dangerous than a biological mutant or man... a terrorist with mind control.
As always there's some funny parts and weird touches in the movie. One part, Seagal is in the middle of what he calls "a full scale riot", but he tries to look inconspicuous by hiding behind a newspaper! And nobody says anything about it, but a character finds some kind of important mini-disc in a dead guy's pocket, hidden inside a Julio Iglesias CD. Also, there's a scene where Seagal changes that old classic of slo-mo running away from a huge, fiery explosion to jogging slo-mo away from a small, sparky explosion.
That shows you how much care and effort Seagal is putting into this picture. It's sad because even though his movies keep getting worse, he usually seems like he's giving it a shot. This time I got the feeling he just didn't give a shit. I look forward to the DVD so I can use the subtitles and figure out what the hell he's mumbling about. One scene, I swore he said, "Get the president out the cages" but there was no president in a cage. He has weird lines like "There's some sick shit up in heah, alligata" that makes me wonder if his character is supposed to be cajun or something. I wonder if he knows my man Chance Boudreaux from HARD TARGET? ("What kind of a name is Chance?" "Mah momma took won.")
He did this same thing in OUT OF REACH but I was still surprised how many of his lines were obviously dubbed in this one. At least half of the time he seems to be dubbed by somebody else. Or sometimes it seems like it might be Seagal's voice, but recorded at the peak of the worst flu of his life.
There's a little more gore than in recent Seagal pictures, but the same small amount of action. Just alot of shooting, a couple fake looking models exploding and a car chase that Seagal's not even in where a car crashes into a watermelon truck. Seagal's aikido looks completely unimpressive, but Vinnie Jones has one good fist fight.
There's a couple lame bad guys. The terrorist is some guy from A KNIGHT'S TALE, and his sidekick is a skinny dude who looks like Cameron Diaz when she dressed up as a man in CHARLIE'S ANGELS. Then there's a crooked federal agent type, he was apparently in HELLRAISER PART 2 and I'm pretty sure he was that poor sap of a boyfriend who was hiding behind a curtain watching the perverted doctor make out with a ressurected bloody skinless chick.
Speaking of HELLRAISER sequels, the director of SUBMERGED is Anthony Hickox, who did part 3. The one where Pinhead hangs out at a dance club. At least it's a director I heard of before, but he has the same problems as Michael Oblowitz and other low quality directors of Seagal pictures. I don't know if you guys have noticed this, but I think the digital editing they use now days has caused some bad habits for some of these fuckers. In the old days you had to actually cut the film up and tape it all together and it was a big pain in the ass. Now you don't have to do that so these guys figure, shit, every time it goes to another scene, I might as well throw in ten little flashes of random closeups, some fast speed, some black and white freeze frames, some backwards motion, some meaningless white flashes. Top it off with some computery sounds and thunderclaps and shit. I don't know if there's a name for this type of showboat editing, if not I propose "Avid farts" or "digi-rhea". It's kind of like if as soon as newspaper publishers switched to computers, they started using a different wacky font for every headline and every column. Like the guy with the sunglasses said in JURASSIC PARK or DUEL or one of those movies, just because you CAN do it doesn't mean you SHOULD.
What I'm trying to tell you editors is NOBODY WANTS TO SEE AVID FARTS. I don't know what somebody told you but it doesn't make it seem like a real movie, guys. It makes it seem like another TV show about a psychic that solves murders. And that sub has already merged. So stop it.
Now, I know alot of you Hollywood types read The Ain't It Cool News, so I got a question. I am a big fan. I enjoy all Seagal's pictures, even this one. But this is one of the worst and least entertaining. And it makes me wonder: why is it that Seagal can't get a good director anymore (not including Ching Siu-Tung)? Does nobody at all want to work with him? Does his producing suck? Does his non-cooperation (like not dubbing his own lines) just make it impossible to shoot a movie competently? I mean I know we're talking no budget straight to video shit, and the guy is not at his peak. But as an idealist and a believer in Striving For Excellence, I figure it is still POSSIBLE to create a better Seagal picture than this. I mean, MARKED FOR DEATH had a lower budget and was even from the director of HALLOWEEN 4, still managed to be way better. Isn't there some young, tasteful filmatist out there that figures, what the hell, I can make a Seagal picture? If there was, would all their better instincts get overruled and ruined by rewrites and improv and short schedules and Avid farts?
Also as long as I got you here, Hollywood, I got a completely unrelated question. The question is WHY THE FUCK did New Line Cinema abandon the title SNAKES ON A PLANE? When I heard that Ronny Yu was making a movie about snakes on a plane, and it was called SNAKES ON A PLANE, I thought that was about the best thing I ever heard. Then Yu left, but Samuel L. Jackson, joined, and regardless, I figured it was still about snakes on a plane so you couldn't lose. And I'm sure it's still about that but somehow with the generic title PACIFIC AIR 121 there's just no magic anymore. I mean, anything or nothing could happen on Flight 121. Who cares. But when it's SNAKES ON A PLANE you know what you're getting.
What are you thinking, New Line? You got a title so pure and perfect it might as well be a poem. It doesn't even matter what the movie is, if it has that title. And you threw it out like it was Troy Duffy. When are you gonna get another chance to call a movie SNAKES ON A PLANE? Not soon.
I propose that Mr. Seagal take advantage of New Line Cinema's error and come out with BEES ON A PLANE. Story by Vern. This one's about some terrorists manage to get a suitcase on board a plane that opens to release genetically altered super killer bees. "Another 9-11... except with killer bees." When the bees sting the passengers it causes all kinds of CGI swelling and exploding. Luckily, by coincidence, Seagal is one of the passengers on the plane. He is a disillusioned former CIA agent who settled down and became a small time honey farmer. Also, he is allergic to bee stings, which shows how fuckin badass he is, to become a honey farmer when a bee sting would kill him. Anyway, he has to fight the terrorists and get to the luggage compartment so he can get out his bee suit.
He manages to fight off the terrorists and land the plane, but then the killer bees get loose into the city (Los Angeles, maybe, but portrayed by Vancouver) and what's worse, they find out there are two kinds of bees. Each of their stings poison the blood in a different way, and when both types of blood combine, it causes a huge explosion. Fortunately, we find out that Homeland Security had just missed stopping the bees on a plane plot but had managed to embed a Judas Bee into the swarm, equipped with a tracking device and small camera. So even though he is now safely landed, the honey farmer makes the conscious decision to go after the bees and save Los Angeles.
Then if you want to go really fuckin out there, there could be a twist at the end where he just gets swarmed by the bees and they sting the shit out of him, but then it turns out that people who are allergic to normal bee stings are immune to genetically engineered super killer bee stings. And what's more, the stings give them super powers. The ending sets up the whole BEES ON A PLANE trilogy in other words.
Well anyway I think an argument could be made that I'm off topic here a little bit. The point is, SUBMERGED is not one of the better Seagal pictures. If you want a legitimately good one see OUT FOR JUSTICE, if you want a funny one see ON DEADLY GROUND, if you want a more obscure/recent funny one see OUT FOR A KILL, BELLY OF THE BEAST or OUT OF REACH. If you just want a movie with Seagal in it though, SUBMERGED comes out May 31st.
p.s. IMDB already lists four other Seagal pictures for 2005, not including THE UNTITLED ONION MOVIE, so you'll probaly be hearing from me again soon