Thursday, May 25, 2017

Today's Trump Tidbit: The Emperor's First Overseas Trip

Back in February, I decided I was going to start a new feature here at Bob Canada's BlogWorld, in which I would chronicle all the batsh*t insane things our Glorious Leader Trump did each week.

Sadly, I threw in the towel after just two installments. It was literally impossible to 
keep up with all the crap that Trumpy did and said on a daily basis. It would take me twelve or fourteen hours a day, every day. I am not kidding. It's that bad.


So I've contented myself with occasionally talking about the REALLY outrageous things he says and does. Like these!

Gods help us, but this week Emperor Cheeto's taking his first foreign trip since becoming president.


His first stop was Saudi Arabia, where First Lady Melania chose not to wear the traditional head scarf, which is required of all women who appear in public.


Note that it's not required for foreign-born women to cover their heads, and most don't.


You can probably guess where this is going. Back in 2015, Trumpy blasted Michelle Obama for not wearing a scarf when she traveled to the country...

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Trumpy took country music singer Toby Keith with him to Saudi Arabia to perform at a concert there.

You know, the same Toby Keith who wrote such touching ballads as Whiskey Girl, Drunk Americans and I Love This Bar. Songs that are sure to go over well in a country that's outlawed the drinking of alcohol and the mixing of sexes in public. Well done, Don!

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Is everything OK in the Trump household? Any marital spats, resentment or tensions that have been simmering for months, only for the stress of overseas travel to cause them to bubble to the surface?

The reason I ask is that Melania seems unwilling to hold hands with the Commander-In-Chief.

Here they are on a red carpet in Saudi Arabia. Note how she visibly swats him away as he attempts to hold her hand.

And here they are the next day, exiting Air Force One. Note that Trumpenstein reaches for Melania's hand and... DENIED! She jerks it away with lightning speed, pretending to adjust her hair rather than have her husband try to wrap his tiny, clammy digits around her hand.

It's obvious from these incidents that the First Lady recoils in revulsion at her husband's very touch. Honestly, who could blame her?

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On Day Two of Trumpy's Saudi Arabia visit, he reportedly dropped out of an event due to "extreme exhaustion," sending his daughter instead.

Hmm. Didn't he tweet something about this topic a year or so ago? Something about stamina?


Ah, here we go! I guess traveling to another country and shaking hands with various dignitaries must be MUCH more stressful than running an entire country!

Does Trump understand that we can still see everything he ever tweeted?

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No time to rest for Glorious Leader! On day three, he visited Israel's National Holocaust Memorial Center in Jerusalem.

As he left the museum, he signed the guest book, writing:

"It is a great honor to be here with all my friends. So amazing and will never forget."

That... doesn't seem like an appropriate sentiment for such a solemn institution. Did... did he think he was signing someone's yearbook?

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The whirlwind tour continued, as Emperor Cheeto visited the Vatican on Wednesday, for a meeting with none other than Pope Francis! And the Pontiff couldn't have been happier to meet the leader of the free world!

Just look at the Pope's jubilant expression! He's so ecstatic he can barely stay in the frame!

It should be a law that from this day forward, any and all books about Body Language MUST include this photo.

I imagine this photo session went something like this:

Photographer: "OK, everybody smile now. Your Holiness, could you scooch in a bit to your right?"
Pope: "Just take the goddamned picture!"

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Lastly, on Thursday Trumpy attended a NATO conference in Brussels, to mark the nation of Montenegro becoming an official member of the organization.

After the meeting, Glorious Leader physically grabs Dusko Markovic, the Prime Minister of Montenegro, and literally shoves him out of the way so he can get a good spot in front of the cameras. He then just out his chin as he theatrically adjusts his jacket, in a typical display of dominance.

Congratulations, Trumpy! We're now at war with Montenegro!

Only two days left on his trip!

Putrid Posters: Spider-Man: Homecoming

There was a time when a movie poster was just as important as the film it promoted, if not more so. A good poster would tease, inform and pique your interest about a particular film, whipping you into a frenzy until you couldn't wait to see the movie.

That time is long past. Gone are the days when movie posters were beautiful examples of graphic design and illustration, and works of art in their own right. Classic movie poster design has been replaced by nightmarish collages, poorly stitched together in Photoshop.

And they seem to be getting worse, not better. So bad that I'm starting a new feature here on Bob Canada's BlogWorld, called Putrid Posters.

For example, take this brand new Putrid Poster for Sony/Marvel Studio's upcoming joint venture, Spider-Man: Homecoming. Oy gevalt! Where do I start?

Seriously, Sony? It's hard to believe this is an official piece of promotional art from a professional marketing department, and not an example of amateurish fan art.

So why is it so bad? Because there's no design! There's no focal point to draw your eye, so your attention bounces all around the thing like a moth looking for a place to land. 

Who am I supposed to be looking at here? Who's the main character? Is it Tom Holland as Peter Parker? He's sort of in the center, but he's overwhelmed by Robert Downey Jr., who's sternly hovering over his shoulder as he stares off into the distance. What's he looking at? And why does he seem to be on fire? Who knows?

Why is Michael Keaton's face bigger than Tom Holland's? Is he more important than the main character? Why not place the small image of Keaton as the winged Vulture closer to his head, to establish a connection between the two?

Plus Michael Keaton and Marisa Tomei are both staring at something off to the right, which is another big no-no, as it drags your poor eye away from the main character (Tomei in particular seems delighted by whatever it is she sees!). They should both be facing inward, to draw your eye back to the center of the poster.

And was there really no other photo of Jon Favreau available anywhere in the world except for one in which he's awkwardly trying to button his suit jacket?

It's blatantly obvious that this "poster" was cobbled together from at least thirteen or fourteen different photographic elements, all of which were shot under radically different conditions with multiple lighting sources.

Seriously, look at the image above. Each yellow arrow represents a different light source.

As a general rule, when designing a collage with multiple figures and objects, you should pick ONE light source and stick with it. It helps to tie all the disparate elements together and make a complex layout into a cohesive whole. When you have a dozen light sources your eyes may not notice something's wrong, but your subconscious mind will.

Contrary to how I sound, I don't think ALL photographic posters are inherently bad. It's entirely possible to have a well-designed one. Take this Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 poster for example. It features lots of photographic elements, but they're all consistently lit, well-posed, extensively modified and they're all tied together with colorful computer graphics. 

You just needs an artist who knows what the hell they're doing.

There's a really easy way to eliminate all these photo-collage problems— ILLUSTRATE your poster instead! That way you won't be at the mercy of whatever photographic content you're provided, and you can control the light source, as well as the poses of your figures. No more guys buttoning their suits on the poster!

Where's Drew Struzan when we need him?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

2017 Box Office Predictions Part One RESULTS (January thru April)

Last year my nephew Kyle and I began a tradition of predicting the year's Box Office Hits and Flops. We didn't do so well in 2016, as Kyle's predictions had a 41% accuracy rate, and mine was even worse at 37%. I guess we vastly underestimated the general moviegoing public's willingness to sit through literally anything.

We decided to try our hands at predicticating again this year, and see if we could do better this time. Below are the results of our 2017 Box Office Predictions Part One (January thru April)My comments are in red, while Kyle's are in blue.

Note: I don't want to have to keep saying this over and over, so keep this in mind— due to marketing and other costs, these days a movie has to make around TWICE its PRODUCTION BUDGET in order to break even. So if a movie cost $100 million to film, it's gotta make $200 million before it actually makes a dime! Crazy, huh?

OK, let's see how we did!

Underworld: Blood Wars
Bob: The fact that this was supposed to come out last October and was pushed back to this January tells me all I need to know. Plus these movies have historically ALL been "meh" at best. I doubt it'll even, um, break even.

Budget: $35 million
Domestic Gross: $30,348,260 • Foreign Gross: $50,709,541
Worldwide: $81,057,801

Welp, I was right on the nose if you only count the domestic gross. It cost $35 million and only made a shockingly low $30 million. If you add the domestic and foreign grosses, it managed to scrape up $81 million, meaning it just barely moved past the break even point. That has to be a disappointment for Screen Gems, aka SONY.

I'm gonna go ahead and give myself a point for this one.

The Bye Bye Man
Bob: Sounds like the usual watered down PG-13 horror tripe. If its budget is small enough, it might manage to make a bit of money. Teens will pay to see any movie so they can sit in a dark room and text.

Budget: $7 million
Domestic Gross: $22,395,806 • Foreign Gross: $4,271,391
Worldwide: $26,667,197

As I predicted, as bad as this film was (and boy, was it bad) it managed to make a small profit. Another point for me.

Monster Trucks
Bob: It has a $125 million budget (!), so it's gonna have to make at least $250 million just to break even. I don't see it making that much. I'm betting it'll be an expensive flop.

Budget: A whopping $125 million
Domestic Gross: $33,063,274 • Foreign Gross: $31,123,749
Worldwide: $64,493,915

This movie's inexplicably enormous budget doomed it from the start. There was no way it was ever gonna make it past its break even point, due to all the bad press the film received before it ever came out. I still maintain that this was a deliberate tax write-off on the part of Paramount.

Another point for me!

Split
Bob: The film only cost an extremely low $5 million (!), so I actually think it'll do OK. Surely it can clear at least $10 million!

Budget: $9 million
Domestic Gross: $138,120,085 • Foreign Gross: $136,857,851
Worldwide: $274,977,936

Hmm. I predicted it would do "OK." Looks like I was a bit off here. It grossed a very surprising and respectable $138 million here, for an astonishing total of $274 million worldwide. I don't get it, as I thought it was a middling film at best, but SOMEONE must have liked it.

Darn. A miss for me.

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage
Bob: I'm predicting a bomb.

Budget: $85 million
Domestic Gross: $44,898,413 • Foreign Gross: $301,249,245
Worldwide: $346,147,658

Well, I predicted a bomb, and I was right if you only count the domestic gross. The film barely racked up half its budget here in the States. It's a much bigger hit overseas though (no doubt due to the diverse, international cast), where it grossed a very impressive $346 million!

I'm going to give myself half a point for this one.

The Red Turtle
Bob: It's a Studio Ghibli film, and they're always well-regarded, but they usually don't get a wide release. There's no way it'll be a huge hit. It'll probably make more on home video.

Budget: $3.7 million
Domestic Gross: $912,825

As I suspected, this film didn't get much of a release, playing in just 115 theaters (for comparison, xXx: Return Of Xander Cage played in 3,651 theaters!). It never played anywhere near me. I have no idea why it had such a limited release. Maybe they intended it to be a home video release, but stuck it in a few theaters and film festivals so it could win some awards?

Another point for me!

A Dog’s Purpose
Bob: Kids might latch onto it, so I think it might be a very mild hit if Rogue One isn't still siphoning money from the box office at the end of January.

Budget: $22 million
Domestic Gross: $64,230,845 • Foreign Gross: $120,670,635
Worldwide: $184,901,480

I'm very surprised by this film's success, especially considering the "animal abuse" bombshell that dropped shortly before it's release. I predicted a "mild hit," which is what I'd call the domestic gross.

I'm gonna give myself a half point for this one.

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
Bob: I doubt this'll be a massive hit, but I think it'll make a small profit.

Budget: $40 million
Domestic Gross: $26,830,068 • Foreign Gross: $285,412,558
Worldwide: $312,242,626

Well, I predicted it would make a small profit. That was wrong both domestically and abroad. It was a huge flop in the States, and a massive hit overseas. Look for Resident Evil 7 in a year or two!

Darn. Another miss.

Rings
Bob: Rings was supposed to come out last year, but was pushed back to the January Film Dumping Ground, which is a bad sign. It's yet another watered down PG-13 horror film which will make back its low budget and turn a very small profit.

Budget: $25 million
Domestic Gross: $27,793,018 • Foreign Gross: $55,287,872
Worldwide: $83,080,890

As I predicted, Rings made a very small profit (as most horror films do), due to its relatively low budget.

Point for me!

The Space Between Us
Bob: I smell a bomb.

Budget: $30 million
Domestic Gross: $7,885,294 • Foreign Gross: $6,908,091
Worldwide: $14,793,385

WOW! When I said "I smell a bomb," I had no idea just how right I was! What. The. Hell? How the hell can a movie gross just $7 million in this day and age? This wasn't a limited release either, it played in 2,812 theaters! Holy crap!

Another BIG point for me. Heck, I oughta get five points for this one!

The Lego Batman Movie
Bob: The Lego Movie brought in $470 million worldwide. I think this one will do even more than that. Kids will be chomping at the bit to see a new Lego adventure, plus ticket prices are slightly higher now.

Kyle: Right now, The Lego Batman Movie appears to be the only kid-family oriented film opening in February, so it should be a modest hit. I don't see it equaling the Lego Movie's numbers, but I predict this bringing in somewhere between $300-350 million.

Budget: $80 million
Domestic Gross: $174,691,628 • Foreign Gross: $134,000,000
Worldwide: $308,691,628

Hmm. Looks like both Kyle and I seriously overestimated the popularity of this film. I'm honestly surprised, as I expected it to do much, much better.

A miss for both of us.

A Cure For Wellness
Bob: It's directed by Gore "Pirates Of The Caribbean" Verbinski, for whatever that's worth. It's rated R, which is a rarity for a horror movie these days, but I don't know if that'll be enough to save it. I'm gonna say bomb.

Budget: $40 million
Domestic Gross: $8,106,986 • Foreign Gross: $18,356,451
Worldwide: $26,463,437

Yikes! Another huge bomb that I predicted! Again, this wasn't some indie-circuit thing, it played in 2,704 theaters. That's just embarrassing.

Another point for me!

The Great Wall
Bob: The movie's already made almost $200 worldwide, which is amazing. Honestly it could go either way here. I definitely don't think it'll be a blockbuster, but it might make a small profit.

Budget: $150 million
Domestic Gross: $45,157,105 • Foreign Gross: $286,800,000
Worldwide: $331,957,105

Whoops! I predicted it might make a small profit here. Just the opposite. That's too bad, as I liked the movie quite a bit. Even with the foreign gross, it just barely squeaked by the break even point.

A miss for me.

Patient Zero
Bob: Not to be confused with the cinematic jewel Cabin Fever: Patient Zero. This one inexplicably stars Matt Smith, Natalie Dormer and Stanley Tucci. What the hell are they all doing in a movie like this? I dunno, I'm gonna say it might make a very, very slight profit.

Hmm. This movie was supposed to premiere on February 17, but it's release date is now listed as "TBD." That's never a good sign.
No points either way, since it never came out.

The Girl With All The Gifts
Bob: This one actually looks interesting, and much better than Patient Zero. It's a British film, and unfortunately didn't do well there, which is a bad sign. It'll probably get spotty distribution in the States, so I don't foresee a huge hit.

Welp, this one apparently never made it to theaters here and went straight to home video, which should probably tell you something about its quality.

Again, no points either way.

Get Out
Bob: If the budget's low enough, I think it'll probably be a very low-level hit.

Budget: $4.5 million
Domestic Gross: $172,534,250 • Foreign Gross: $21,153,229
Worldwide: $193,687,479

The budget info wasn't available when I made my prediction, but it's listed now. And boy, is it ever a tiny budget at $4.5 million! With a production cost that low, pretty much ANYTHING it made was guaranteed to be profit.

I said it'd be a "very low-level hit." It was much more than low level, grossing almost fifty times its budget!

Darn. Another miss.

Rock Dog
Bob: It was supposed to come out last year, which is all I need to know. BOMB!

Budget: $60 million (!)
Domestic Gross: $9,420,546
Worldwide: $9,420,546

Looks like I was right. Despite the fact that it looks like a direct-to-video CGI cartoon, it somehow cost a whopping $60 million! And it only grossed a sixth of that, worldwide. I'd call that a bomb!

Point for me!

Logan
Bob: Unlike the vast majority of fanboys who lost their collective minds over this trailer, it honestly didn't do anything for me. I think it looks dull as hell. But I think it'll be a big hit, mostly because Joe Public will think it's a Marvel Studios movie.

Kyle: This won't do Deadpool numbers but should do better than X-Men: Apocalypse. I predict this grossing in the $630-$675 million range.

Budget: $97 million
Domestic Gross: $224,508,170 • Foreign Gross: $383,233,488
Worldwide: $607,741,658

Welp, as I predicted, it was a pretty big hit. And I ended up liking it more than I expected as well. It came pretty close to Kyle's oddly specific $630 million prediction.

Point for both of us!

Kong: Skull Island
Bob: This looks a lot like a remake of the 1976 King Kong, which was a wonderfully cheesetastic train wreck. It looks kind of fun though, so I think it'll be a moderate hit.

Kyle: Not a bomb, but not a huge hit either. This will be a steady mainstay on cable networks like FX and TNT five years from now.

Budget: $185 million
Domestic Gross: $167,066,744 • Foreign Gross: $398,100,000
Worldwide: $565,166,744

Welp, I was completely wrong about this film. I said it'd be a moderate hit, and it didn't even make back its budget in the States, but was a pretty big hit overseas.

Another miss for us both.

Raw
Bob: Supposedly this movie wowed the festival circuit last year. it's a French film though, so that means it probably won't get a very wide release, and will only play in select markets. So it's not gonna make much money, no matter how good it might be.

Budget: $3.8 million
Domestic Gross: $514,870

Well, I was right on the money here. Based on that astonishingly tiny gross, I'm assuming it played on the festival circuit only.

Point for me!

Beauty and the Beast
Bob: Disney. Live action remake of a beloved animated classic. Nuff said. Massive box office hit.

Budget: $160 million
Domestic Gross: $498,225,739 • Foreign Gross: $724,050,444
Worldwide: $1,222,276,183

I'd call crossing over into BILLION dollar territory a massive box office hit. Actually it's continuing to rake in money, as it's STILL playing around here, two months after its release.

Point for me!

The Belko Experiment
Bob: Sounds interesting, and I like pretty much everything James Gunn's ever done. It comes out the same weekend as Beauty And The Beast though, so... it's gonna underperform.

Budget: $5 million
Domestic Gross: $9,697,090

I'd call grossing less than twice its production budget "underperforming."
Point for me.

Life
Bob: I watched the trailer and it looks interesting, but it seems to be the same "alien possession" story we've seen a hundred times before. I predict an expensive film that won't be a bomb, but won't make its money back either.

Kyle: This looks like a pretty interesting SciFi movie. Originally schedule for release on memorial day weekend, it was moved back to March to avoid competing with the new Pirates of the Carribbean movie (another hard skip for me). I always enjoy some of the more under that radar scifi movies like Moon and I an cautiously optimistic for this one.

Budget: $58 million
Domestic Gross: $30,189,466 • Foreign Gross: $63,577,006
Worldwide: $93,757,472

I'm gonna give myself a point here, as it didn't come anywhere near close to making its money back. Kyle said he was "cautiously optimistic" for it, so I'd say that's a miss for him.

Power Rangers
Bob: Who's this movie for? Fans of the original will be put off by all the puzzling changes made to the characters and hardware, and people who never watched the show won't go see this anyway. It's gonna be one expensive flop.

Budget: $100 million
Domestic Gross: $85,080,980 • Foreign Gross: $54,881,952
Worldwide: $139,962,932

Yep. Expensive flop. Lionsgate had big plans for this film, hoping it would start a whole Power Rangers franchise. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for Part 2, unless it's a very, very stripped-down, low budget affair.

Point for me.

Ghost in the Shell
Bob: No matter how good it might be, the white washing controversy is gonna hurt it. It's gonna have an uphill climb just to break even. I smell a bomb.

Kyle: I love the original anime movie and manga this is based on. I just don't see why an asian actress wasn't cast in the lead. That being said, I predict this grossing similar to Scarlet Johansson's 2014 film Lucy, which did $463 million.

Budget: $110 million
Domestic Gross: $40,540,778 • Foreign Gross: $129,131,608
Worldwide: $169,672,386

Wow. When I said I smelled a bomb, I had no idea how right I was. It made an embarrassing $40 million here in the States, and made slightly more than its budget overseas. Maybe making a live action movie of a twenty four year old anime that was innovative in its time but now seems stale wasn't such a great idea after all?
Point for me. A miss for Kyle, who predicted it would gross $400 million (!).

Sleight
Bob: Supposedly a hit at last year's Sundance Film Festival. Everyone's comparing it to Chronicle, which I liked OK, but... eh. I don't see this being a hit.

Budget: $250,000 (no, that's not a typo!)
Domestic Gross: $3,858,730

I don't even think this played at any cineplexes around here. If I did it must have only been out for a week before it was yanked. I don't remember sI'm not really sure how to call this one. A gross of almost $4 million bucks is laughably low these days, but when you put it up against its paltry $250,000 budget, suddenly it becomes massively profitable.
I'll give myself half a point here.

Smurfs: The Lost Village
Bob: Jesus, they're still making these things? The original Smurfs grossed $563 million worldwide, while Smurfs 2 made $347 million. Looks like the Smurfs films are following the law of diminishing returns. It'll probably make around $150 million. Depending on the budget, that's probably not enough to make it a hit.

Budget: $60 million
Domestic Gross: $43,198,127 • Foreign Gross: $139,501,190
Worldwide: $182,699,317

Hmm. I said it wouldn't be a hit, but due to it's low budget, it actually made a slight profit.

Darn. Another miss.

Spark
Bob: NOPE! Bomb.

Apparently this is another one that went direct to video, as I can't find ANY info on it now.

No points either way.

The Circle
Bob: The titular Circle is obviously a thinly disguised Google. The trailer looked like a whole lot of "meh" to me though, so I'm gonna say it might make a very small profit.

Budget: $18 million
Domestic Gross: $20,091,354

Ouch! Are you kidding me? After being in theaters for an entire month, this film could only manage to scrape up a measly $20 million, which is little more than its production cost. I'm not sure if it just hasn't played overseas yet, or if it's not going to. If it does, the foreign market could help it, but I'm gonna go ahead and call it a flop.

Another miss.

So that's it for our 2017 Box Office Predictions Part One (January thru April). Let's see how we did!


Bob: 66% Accuracy Rate

Kyle: 20% Accuracy Rate

Welp, I got 66%, which is much better than last year's dismal 37%. Believe it or not, that's still considered a lowly D+ on the standard grading scale. No wonder I hated school so much!

Unfortunately Kyle did worse this year, with 20%. Probably because he hasn't had as much time to become as cynical as I am.

Stay tuned for our 2017 Box Office Predictions Part One (May thru August) results!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

It Came From The Cineplex: Phoenix Forgotten

I've gotten a bit behind on movie reviews here at Bob Canada's BlogWorld, so I'm gonna try and get caught up in the next few days. This movie's probably no longer in theaters, but I sat through the goddamned thing so you're all gonna share my pain!

Phoenix Forgotten was "written" by T.S. Nowlin and Justin Barber, and "directed" by Justin Barber.

Nowlin previously wrote the utterly forgettable The Maze Runner and Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. Barber has worked primarily as a graphic artist for various films. Phoenix Forgotten is his first major directing job.


Take The Blair Witch Project, substitute UFOs for the supernatural elements, cram in a pointless documentary framing device and you'll have a pretty good idea what this movie's like. There's even a character named Josh!

The film's based on the famous "Phoenix Lights" incident, which occurred on March 13, 1997 in Phoenix, Arizona. Thousands of witnesses observed a formation of strange lights in the sky, which were also seen in other parts of Arizona, as well as Nevada and even northern Mexico. It was one of the most-observed UFO incidents in recent history.

Despite what the poster says about "Shocking Untold True Events," the film's "missing teen" angle is complete and utter bullsh*t pulled straight out of the screenwriters' asses. It's yet another lame attempt to ape the success of The Blair Witch Project, which also tried to convince the audience they were watching actual video footage.

The film does try to distance itself a small bit from Blair Witch by bookending the found footage with a faux documentary about the incident and subsequent disappearances. It's a nice try, but in the end it doesn't offer us anything we haven't seen numerous times before in the past two decades. In the end the documentary angle does nothing but pad the run time, making the long, slow slog to the UFO abduction even more interminable.

I just realized something. This movie is a faux documentary about a fake disappearance that resulted from a UFO incident that never happened. Trifecta!

So far Phoenix Forgotten's grossed just $3.5 million against its $2.8 million budget. That's pretty dismal! Horror movies, even terrible found footage ones like this, generally always do well at the box office. Heck, even the dreadful The Bye Bye Man was a modest hit, grossing $26 million against its $7 million budget! Maybe this is a sign that the detestable found footage genre has finally run its course. We can only hope.

Lastly, I'm having trouble coming to grips with the fact that a movie set in 1997 is now considered a period piece. Excuse me while I go take my rheumatiz medicine, yell at some clouds and pull my pants up to my chest.

SPOILERS, I GUESS.

The Plot:
We open on video footage of Sophie Bishop's sixth birthday party on March 13, 1997, filmed by her older brother Josh. Suddenly everyone sees a series of mysterious lights in the sky, and Josh shakily (of course) films them. They wonder if the lights were military planes or a UFO. Suddenly two jets blast over the house, apparently chasing after the lights.

Cut to the present day (I guess), as the now adult Sophie is filming a documentary about her brother Josh's disappearance. Josh and his friend Ashley and Mark all disappeared a week after so-called "Phoenix Lights Incident." No trace of the them was ever found.

Sophie's dad picks her up at the airport and drops her off at their old home. Her parents divorced after Josh disappeared, and her mother is selling the house. Sophie's mother gives her a box of Josh's old videotapes, and she begins watching them.

When then get sort of a flashback, as the tape features newscasts of the Lights, along with Josh and his dad being interviewed. There's also a press conference with the then-Governor of Arizona, who mocks the incident and dismisses it.

Another tape shows that Josh attempted to film his own documentary about the Lights, interviewing various people around town. This is how he meets Ashley, a fellow student who he has a crush on. Josh and Ashley show the footage of the Lights to two local astronomers, who say they were most likely military flares. They also interview a Native American who says the Lights are a legend within his tribe, and he's seen things like them before.

Josh wants to visit the reservation where the Lights have been seen, but neither he or Ashley have a car. Josh talks his friend Mark into driving them. He and Mark drive into the desert to search for the Lights. They spot a bright light in the distance and hike up a steep hillside. There they see a group of police standing around a spotlight, looking into the sky with telescopes and binoculars, obviously searching for the UFO. The police spot the kids, and Josh and Mark hightail it back to the car.

The next day Josh and Mark pick up Ashley, and the three drive south of Phoenix, to the Indian Reservation where the lights have also been spotted. Unfortunately Josh's tapes end here.

Back in the present day, Sophie interviews a police officer who found Mark's abandoned car. It was in working condition and there was no evidence of foul play, other than a few drops of Mark's blood. He says the police investigated the case thoroughly, but reached a dead end and were forced to call it off. The officer says he always found it odd that Josh left his camera in the vehicle.

Sophie asks for the camera, and since it's no longer evidence, the officer gives it to her. She watches the tape in the camera as we flash back again. As the three teens drive along, Josh sleeps while Mark and Ashley get to know one another. They come to the mountains and pull over and take off on foot. Josh is angry that Mark and Ashley seem to be hitting it off. They come to a clearing where they see a dozen or so coyotes that've been burned to death by... something. The tape abruptly ends there.

In the present again, Sophie can't believe Josh would leave his camera in the car and not film whatever they found. She makes an incredibly intuitive leap and says there must have been a second camera. She contacts the school and asks if a video camera was checked out in 1997 and never returned, but unfortunately their records don't go back that far.

Sophie sees an interview with the former Governor, who's now recanting his statement from 1997, and says he believes the Phoenix Lights really were a UFO. She tracks down the Governor's former press agent, but he refuses to speak to her.

Her investigation at a dead end, Sophie leaves Phoenix and returns home.

Sometime later a lady from Josh's school calls Sophie, and tells her she found something. Apparently there really was a second camera (!), and someone found it in the desert and mailed it back to the school. Sophie returns to Phoenix and picks up the camera, which is scorched almost beyond recognition. 
Sophie's boyfriend carefully removes the tape from the burned camera, and amazingly it still plays. They watch the tape in stunned silence.

After watching the footage, Sophie sends a copy of the tape to an Air Force General. She later arranges an interview with him, but all he'll tell her is to never let the footage get out. Sophie's boyfriend asks what's next, and she says, "What do you think Josh would do?"

The final half hour or so of the film is Josh's tape. He, Ashley and Mark move past the burned coyotes, and into the rocky desert. They walk through a canyon marked with Indian petroglyphs that resemble primitive UFOs. Josh and Mark argue over Ashley. Suddenly Mark sees another object similar to the Phoenix Lights in the distance, and Josh films it. They congratulate themselves for capturing the UFO on tape a second time.

Josh wants to wait and see if the lights return, but Ashley says she has a curfew and needs to get back home. They head back toward the car, but soon become lost. They find more petrogylphs in the canyon, including odd hand prints. Ashley looks at Mark's compass, and sees the needle spinning wildly. Mark climbs a hill by himself to see if he can spot the car.

Josh and Ashley here a strange sound and are blinded by a bright light directly above them. After it disappears, Mark returns, acting oddly. They then find the car, pile in and head for home. Ashley notes that Mark looks sick, as his nose begins bleeding (which is why the police found his blood in the car). Mark insists he's OK. They see a light behind them, and think it's another car at first. It gets closer and closer, and flies over them, bathing them in bright light again. The car dies, as all of the electronics stop working. Josh and Mark push it to the side of the road, where the police will eventually find it. For some reason, Mark leaves his camera in the car.

The three teens get out and walk back toward town. Mark lags farther and farther behind, as he's clearly ill. Suddenly he runs into the desert, saying he can hear his brother (?), and Josh and Ashley chase after him. Suddenly the sky lights up again, flattening the teens. Rocks float up in the air and come crashing down. When the event is over, Mark has completely disappeared.

They search for a while, but Josh finally convinces Ashley they need to get help and come back for Mark. They spot a house in the distance, and run to it for help. Josh notices Ashley's nose is bleeding, and when she runs her hand through her hair, large chunks of it come out.

Ashley then runs ahead of Josh, saying she can hear her father. The light returns and more rocks are sucked up into the air. Josh looks up and can just make out a series of spinning rings above him. The light disappears again, and Ashley's nowhere to be found.

He runs to the house and goes inside. He looks around for a phone, and sees himself in a mirror and notices that now HIS nose is bleeding. And yes, despite the fact that his friends have been abducted and he's been attacked by the light several times, he's still filming with the goddamned camera.

The intense light shines through the windows, as everything in the house rises up. The roof is ripped off and Josh flies into the air. He's sucked into a ship as he lets go of the camera, which spins crazily before hitting the ground, where it'll be found and mailed back to the school.

Thoughts:

• There's really not a lot to say about this film. There's no message here, it brings nothing new to the table, it's not the least bit scary and there's absolutely no point to it, so this should be mercifully short.

• In case you think I'm exaggerating that this movie is nothing more than The Blair Witch Project with UFOs, just take a look at the names of Phoenix Forgotten's three main characters: Josh, Ashley and Mark. That's completely different from Blair Witch's Josh, Heather and Mike!

• The footage of the Phoenix Lights seen in the film (and allegedly shot by Josh) is actual video of the "real" event taken by an eyewitness in 1997.

As you might expect, the incident has been thoroughly debunked over the years. Most people don't realize there were actually TWO different events in Phoenix on the night of March 13, 1997. The first happened at 8:30 pm, and was the infamous "V" formation. Very few people actually saw this first event, as there was no reason for them to be staring up at the sky at that time.

Later that night around 10 pm, thousands of people who'd heard about the earlier sighting spotted a second, completely unrelated event. This sighting consisted of a line of lights that slowly sank behind the nearby Estrella Mountain range. The vast majority of witnesses confused this sighting with the earlier "V" formation, which they never actually saw.

The "V" event was later confirmed to simply be a formation of airplanes flying at high altitude, which was corrobrated by witnesses viewing them through telescopes. The second formation was a series of flares dropped by a military plane, which slowly sank to the ground.

• The found footage parts of the movie are set in 1997, so you know what that means! Anachronisms Ahoy!

At one point Josh and Ashley research historical UFO sightings in a library. Josh finds an illustration of a UFO that looks like a series of spinning rings, and say sit reminds him of the movie Contact. Ashley says that's her favorite movie, and even does a spot-on Jodie Foster impression from the film.

Supposedly the three teens when missing on March 20, 1997 (exactly one week after the Phoenix Lights incident). Contact was released on July 11 of 1997, some four months after the kids disappeared. Whoops!

After the teens disappear, billboards pop up all over Phoenix urging anyone with info to call a hotline. Unfortunately the 480 area code used on the billboard wasn't a thing in Arizona until April 1, 1999. Double whoops!

• In the film we see footage of then-Arizona Governor Fife Symington holds a televised "press conference" to mock and debunk the Phoenix Lights incident.

Later, in the present day half of the film, we see an interview of an older Fife Symington as he recants his earlier statements, saying he now believes the incident was real (insert eye roll here).

Both the press conference and later interview were actual footage of the real Fife Symington.

Fife?

• Near the end of the film, Sophie sends Josh's "lost" tape to an Air Force General. After he views it, all he has to say to her is "Don't ever let it get out."

Really? That's it? Sophie has a tape which proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that UFOs and UFO abduction are real! Wouldn't the Air Force raid her house, confiscate all her video equipment and every copy of the tape and threaten her with legal action or even incarceration if it ever leaks to the public?

Phoenix Forgotten is yet another in a long, long, LONG line of imitators inspired by The Blair Witch Project. This one tries to hide its obvious roots by adding a faux documentary to the mix, which does nothing but pad the run time. Do yourself a favor and forget about Phoenix Forgotten (see what I did there?). I give it a D+.


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