Bad Movie Night: Surviving Asylum Picture’s Mockbusters: “Almighty Thor”, “Transmorphers”, and “200 mph”
After taking forever to see Almighty Thor (which I only heard about because of the movie’s release around the time of Marvel’s Thor) I researched the details to find that Asylum, the studio behind the movie, is famous for making these really shitty “mockbusters” that are released at the same time as the real blockbuster movies they emulate.
If you watch the Syfy channel, you’ve probably seen these before, but I’ve totally missed them until now. It’s a brillant idea, but be not fooled: there are NO attempts here to make great movies, and I’m going to take you down some of their “biggest” titles to show you just how bad these movies suck.
Almighty Thor (instead of Thor)
Remember how Chris Hemsworth went from being a cocky, arrogant ass to become a champion of self sacrifice and redemption? You know how we were graced with Kenneth Branaugh directing, and Anthony Hopkins and Natalie Portman as supporting characters? Remember that wonderfully re-envisioned Asgard that looked like no depiction of the Norse Gods before? Yeah, you won’t find that here. In fact, this movie is so the opposite of Marvel’s titanic summer movie hit that I frequently found myself struggling to not turn the damn thing off.
Instead of Anthony Hopkins, we are given Kevin Nash, known for other great hits like DOA (ok, I have a soft spot for that movie) and a (thankfully) non-speaking role as Super Shredder in the second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In Almighty Thor, Nash gives us a wooden, emotionless, bumbling Odin who misses four opportunities to go for a kill shot on Loki during their struggle.
Instead of Tom Hiddleston‘s powerful performance as Loki, we’re given Richard Grieco, whose best role was arguably his cameo in Night at the Roxbury, and whose Loki so wants you to believe he’s badass, despite spending half the movie chasing and yelling after people like an old man badgering “young toughs” off his property.
Instead of Chris Hemsworth, whose physique makes the ladies coo and whose roguish manner and character portrayal brought roars of approval and good laughs, we’re given Cody Deal, whose Thor is whiny and totally unlikeable for 90% of the movie. Even after he’s dual wielding uzis or hitting dog demons with hammers of cosmic destruction, he reverts back to his CW-level of teenage angst and rebelliousness in a groan-filled heartbeat.
And then there’s Patricia Velásquez, who you may remember as Marta from Arrested Development. As much as she tries to bring some real acting chops to her character of Jarnsaxa, a Valkyrie who literally has to hold Thor’s hand through most of the movie, she just can’t save a script so bad that it renders itself unwatchable before you’ve had a chance to dig into your popcorn.
There’s really not a lot to get out of this movie, with everyone looking for Odin’s hammer (yes, it’s Odin’s, not Thor’s) half the time, and spending the other half taking a rest and getting a pep talk. After 90 mins of Thor trying to find himself, the unnecessary yelling, so-so special effects, a screenplay that drags on and on, and performances that could only have been better if portrayed by sock puppets, this has got to be the worst superhero movie I’ve seen since Stan Lee’s Lightspeed.
Transmorphers: Fall of Man (instead of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen)
Combine a vague rendition of the Transformers concept with a bit of visual concepts behind the robots in the upcoming Real Steel movie and you get this piece of crap movie that, for the love of god, can’t transform itself into a good movie no matter what it does.
You get a cast that—upon research through wiki and imdb—seems to be full of the very same screenwriters and filmmakers who have created or starred in these crappy mockbuster movies before… which explains why they’re so bad. When you watch them act, they seem to believe they’re doing a great job, but they’re often trying so hard that they oversell simple things.
One character, Jake, disappeared until recently to become a repairman, and gets involved with the struggle against the Transmophers when he runs into his old friend, Madison, whose satellite turns into a Transmopher. What results is Jake trying to avoid revealing his mysterious past in such a pretend-spy-meets-crazy-veteran-drifter way that you end up laughing so hard you choke at his poor attempts to build suspense and sexual tension with Madison. I’d actually take Shia and Megan Fox over this any day.
And then there’s the character of Dr. Jo Summers, who’s to be so ditzy (due to her super smartness scientist personality or something) that she never makes you believe that she’s in any real danger. Scenes involving her often result in constant bickering or her suffering dementia as she goes off on tangents regarding big science mumbo jumbo no one cares about.
The only person who seems to have any acting ability at all is Tron Legacy‘s Bruce Boxleitner (he’s the guy who played Alan Bradley, Rinzler and Tron), and even his attempts to legitimize this movie are knocked away by all of the bad talent he’s surrounded with.
The Transmophers threat is mainly seen in two forms: small spider robots and huge house-sized robots, who wander and stumble around the planet shooting death lasers and killing every ridiculous character who can’t hear four tons of metal staggering their way.
The worst thing is that the movie can’t even use the premise of Transformers to drive (pun intended) their story all the way to the end: there’s a whacky part about the Transmorphers trying to terraform the earth to suit their needs (this information is revealed by one soldier who tells us the Russians tortured a transmorpher somehow) and the last bit of the movie borrows (steals) heavily from the Terminator franchise, complete with the John Connor “calling all humans, we’re the resistance” speech given at the end. I think I’d rather watch a gritty reboot of Go-Bots starring Nicolas Cage than ever watch this again.
200 mph (instead of Fast Five)
This is easily the best of the other movies, and that’s not saying much. At all.
You’ve seen this all before: Racer A is really popular and cool (though in this one he looks like a weird, bearded vagrant, but everyone still loves him) and Racer A’s little brother, Racer B, races too, though not as good as A, who he looks up to. At the beginning of the movie, Racer C, arrogant asshole rival of A, challenges Racer A to a race.
Even though A and his happy-go-lucky team really don’t feel like it, C is so good at pulling the “Are you chicken?” card that A decides to race. What do you think happens?
A crashes, A dies, and everyone laments A, while his brother B vows to challenge C to a race to avenge his brother’s death. Throw in the Corrupt Cop and a few other reasons to race, and this movie is as original as every other racing movie you’ve ever seen. But, while it lacks a lot of things (like quality) it delivers on something else: a whole lot of awkward.
Remember Racer A and B? Their mom’s a stripper (more of the realistic aged variety with wrinkles and stretch marks, less of the sexy Hollywood brand). Racer B occasionally visits Stripper Mom at work, and even complains about seeing her topless even though he is visiting her at the stripclub where she works. Oh, and his girlfriend occasionally strips there too.
Remember Corrupt Cop? Well Corrupt Cop’s whole reason for being in the movie is to look tough, curse, and exploit the racers, by threatening to arrest them so that he can decide the winner beforehand and gamble on the outcome. Not weird yet, right? The awkward part comes when you realize he is threatening Racer B to lose… even though everyone in the movie feels like he is going to lose anyway (including the Corrupt Cop) with his cheap, old, toy-sized car. If you don’t get why this is stupid, gambling works best when you bet on the underdog and they win, since they have the most odds against them. It made a hell of a lot more sense to force Racer C, the rival, who everyone else thought was going to win, who Corrupt Cop also messes with, to lose.
Also, throw in how Racer C is completely unlikeable and tries to chase and rape B’s girlfriend for almost ten minutes. Again, the weirdest part is not what you think: B’s stripper girlfriend repeatedly, when caught, whups C’s ass with well-placed martial art kicks to the face, palm strikes to the chin, and knees to the groin, but for some reason she lands two of those bad boys and then decides to keep running, turning from Wonder Woman to Lois Lane in seconds. And how that situation concludes is so ridiculous that I felt like I got kneed in the groan too.
Speaking of conclusions, the climax goes in a completely different direction than I thought, which is both somewhat surprising and surprisingly lackluster at the same time. Throw in unnecessarily long scenes of emotional drama (and overacting, much of which comes from Stripper Mom and reoccurs far too often when she’s working at the strip club) and some mediocre racing, and this is, not unlike the other Asylum movies, perhaps the worst film I’ve seen of this genre.
Where’s a good Vin Diesel/The Rock fight in a room full of breakable stuff when you need one?
(This post originally appeared on Infinite Ammo)