Wednesday, April 30, 2014

My Tops of 2014 - April

ENEMIES CLOSER could have flown easily by thanks to JCVD's gonzo performance but the pathetic direction, dark lighting, and a miscast lead made this 90's action throwback a chore to tolerate.

HEAVEN IS FOR REAL is a hellish experience to sit through. The efforts of people like Greg Kinnear, Margo Martindale, and Thomas Haden Church are all completely negated by the sheer suck of Connor Corum.

THE RAID 2 took my breath away. An enormous improvement over the original and one of the absolute best action films of all time.

Hooray! Three films in one month! New Record! It seems my drive-ins decided to wait until this weekend to finally open up for business, so hopefully my palette will expand next month. At least I got to watch another 5/5 film this early in the year.

Best Films of 2014

1. The Lego Movie

2. The Raid 2

3. The Grand Budapest Hotel

Worst Films of 2014

1. Heaven Is For Real

2. Enemies Closer

Bob Hoskins - RIP

Bob Hoskins has died. He was 71 years old.

Hoskins had a long history in movies, most often as a character actor or using his unique Cockney accent to play intimidating characters. He was, however, able to breakthrough for a spell as a marketable lead in the late 80's/early 90's. He sadly was forced to end his career two years ago after being diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. His last film was Snow White and the Huntsman.

Cutting his teeth first on the English theater, Hoskins' career took off after several acclaimed performances for television, most notably as sheet music salesman Arthur Parker in the landmark BBC miniseries Pennies from Heaven. His rugged looks, combined with his gruff power of speech, made him suitable for crime films, especially in the era of neo-noir. His stock rose after three such movies: 1980's The Long Good Friday, 1986's Mona Lisa (still considered his best performance ever), and 1988's groundbreaking blockbuster Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The latter film allowed him to cross the Atlantic and receive more work in Hollywood.

His success as private dick Eddie Valiant led to a couple of leading roles in American pictures. Two notable examples of this feat are the female coming of age drama Mermaids and the maligned video game adaptation of Super Mario Bros.. His tough persona and unconventional demeanor, however, still made him more suitable for supporting roles. Despite being regulated into the background, he still made his lovable mark with audiences in such films as Hook and Maid in Manhattan.

Not contend with just being an actor, Hoskins did try his hand in directing a couple of pictures. He was also able to utilize his voice for animation, in works such as Balto and the television series The Forgotten Toys.

For myself and many others, we will forever associate Hoskins as Eddie Valiant. Whether he was throttling Roger around his trashy abode, trying to measure up to Jessica Rabbit, or firmly able to keep a straight face amid cartoonish anarchy, he was the real soul of the picture. The role made him the biggest movie star on Earth for a fleeting minute, bringing hope to character actors and telling producers off that an actor didn't need to have beautiful looks in order to make film history.

He will be missed.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Trailer Review - WolfCop

1st Trailer
Watch It Here

Person of Interest: A bunch of unknown Canadian actors, including Amy Matysio of Stranded infamy, but who really cares about them? There's a werewolf in a cop uniform!

Scene Pop: Fun at the crime scene.

Briggs Breakdown: A messy werewolf transformation, bestiality behind bars, car door ripping, barn explosion, a Little Red Riding Hood pun, and the Wolfmobile.

Effective?: Cult seekers will eat it up but it's frankly just okay.

Check it Out?: Maybe. Except for the pretty good gore effects, it looks like a standard Troma wannabe. You're better off seeing with some friends and some loose liquor. If you're in Canada, you get to partake with it in June; us U.S. folks will have to wait till September.

Poster Review - Jem: The Movie

So, this made the rounds online today.

I'm not as big of a fan for Jem when compared to Hasbro's other big toy show, G.I. Joe, but I've always understood the appeal of the alternative Barbie/pre-Hanna Montana character and I get a kick of its weird New Wave mythos and nostalgia. This poster is striking but already makes me feel like the fan-generated, quickly adapted film will be in the same incorrect vein as the Josie and The Pussycats movie, i.e. taking the music way too serious and being post-grunge instead of, you know, pop and/or rock. Let's wait and see what director Jon M. Chu has for the fans once the trailer comes out.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Trailer Review - Jersey Boys

Jersey Boys
1st Trailer
Watch It Here

Person of Interest: John Lloyd Young (reprising his Broadway role as Frankie), Erich Bergen, Vincent Piazza (not Robert Pattinson), and Michael Lomenda as The Four Seasons. Also, Christopher Walken.

Scene Pop: I got nothing.

Briggs Breakdown: 6 classic songs that will have you buy the soundtrack.

Effective?: Yes but it's pretty vanilla. Except for Clint Eastwood's odd use of the Martin Scorsese point blank narration, nothing so far seems to make the picture stand out beyond the music.

Check it Out?: I'll obviously attend a screening with a friend or family member but I'm still hesitant to believe it will be more than just a basic jukebox musical. At least it's highly likely going to a masterpiece compared to Rock of Ages.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Raid 2 - Review

THE RAID 2 is not only an action masterpiece but a true spectacle to be enthralled into. This is one of the few movies playing now that truly makes you love the art of cinema while pleasuring all of your cathartic and carnal urges. It delivers more "holy shit!"'s than a church bathroom, overabundant with deliriously cool throw-downs and soaking in baths of visceral bloodshed. You might be dismayed by a few missteps, namely the use of some badly rendered CGI and the dreaded return of shaky-cam, but trust me when I say that it keeps getting far better and better with each elbow to the head, every gun clip emptied into a brain, and every meticulously planned out fight scene devised by director Gareth Evans.

Starting off several hours after the events of the first movie, rookie cop Rama (Iko Uwais) is the only one of the few survivors able to be labelled a future asset in the eyes of Bunawar (Cok Simbara); his injured buddy is mysteriously spirited away while the lieutenant responsible for the egregious apartment purge is executed on the spot. As head of the anti-corruption task force and one of the few men able to be trusted, Bunawar wants to bring Rama into his unit, first by eliminating him off the grid by submitting a false police report to his superiors that no one survived the previous engagement. After the paperwork has been filled and he's legally dead, Rama would then go undercover as a bumpkin thug, carted off into jail after beating up a corrupt official's son, in order to intertwine himself with a fellow prisoner, Uco (Arifin Putra). Uco just so happens to be the prodigal son of Bangun (Tio Pakusadewo), the mellow but still heinously ruthless kingpin of Jakarta, and who also has a strained alliance with a yakuza outfit. Once worming himself into the gang as Uco's comrade, Rama is to remain under their strict care, perpetrate every crime given to him under orders, until he can obtain hard proof of their dealings and bribes with the higher-ups in the police force. Rama is at first hesitant to embark on the dangerous venture but, like all stars in martial arts films, he is suddenly given a vendetta when his family drops one member, namely his criminal brother Andi. His depature is displayed in the prologue, where he's shotgun blasted into a hole by the true wildcard of the picture, a physically crippled but supremely methodical player named Bejo (Alex Abbad).

Evans has thankfully listened to the critics and made sweeping changes across the board for this installment. The biggest gripe of the first film was the entire plot, which possessed nil characterization and was never truly compelling when it came to the points of shallow family drama. Here, the scope has drastically changed, as it forgoes repeating its intriguing premise of busting down a single building of criminal activity for a city-wide narrative close to the veins of INFERNAL AFFAIRS/THE DEPARTED. Story elements that were once forever eye-rolling, such as the usual trope of corrupt police officers, now feel more grounded and toxic for the city environment. Even though it may seem that Evans has just traded in his crime and kung fu cliches just for a new set cut from the same breed, he still throws in some curveballs to the make the proceedings more fresh. For example, Rama wisely fears that his family will be targeted at any moment if his cover is blown. When something along the lines does come up towards the end, we aren't "treated" to the familiar sight of a wife/child-in-peril but a clever twist that shakes up the tradition of how final battles go.

Evans also expands on his craftsmanship skills, inventing a slew of striking visuals and, of course, violent skirmishes that will certainly dry out your eyes. He re-uses his taste for slow-burn/slow-motion tension before every set piece, making it less of an action romp and more of a horror film. But he also likes to toss in some heavy black comedy every once in awhile to defuse the situation or unnerve the viewer. Evans even seems to respond to those who can't grasp the notion of watching a movie where people refuse to use guns and instead kung fu fight; several sequences are enriched in surreality, through the artistry of lighting, editing, and sound design. A great sample of this is when a seemingly unimportant yet deadly mercenary is hanging out in a thumping discotheque, lulled by the beat into his own thoughts and personal demons. He then wakes up only to find that the music has stopped, the other patrons have all vanished, and a flock of bloodthirsty goons are coming out of the woodworks to get him.

The fights are all spectacularly marvelous, able to stand out in their own right. You have the prison-yard scene, where you can see the pains on the faces and bodies of the actors as they try to fluidly go through the motions while caked and treading in a sea of mud. There's the subtle throwback to the original, where the embedded Rama tags with Uco when making a package pick-up run at a porno hut/druggie apartment complex. Then, in the second half, you have the dazzling introductions of a series of future mid-bosses for Rama, each having their own weapon of choice and charisma. And just when it can't be topped, out comes one of the greatest car chases ever to be thought up. And if you think that the title is false, don't worry because this does end with a raid and it's too exciting to spoil here.

The actors all do a fine job on screen, often speaking with their fists and silent rage, but the real breakthrough is Arifin Putra. Featuring pretty boy good looks and serviceable marital art skills, his Uco is a true and true weasel that you can kinda enjoy, even when he starts to lose his cool demeanor or commits some dastardly executions. I also can't leave without expressing much praise for the musical score, beautifully spun by Fajar Yuskemal and Aria Prayogi, who were replaced in the first film by Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda, and Joseph Trapanese. Don't refuse to see this just because it features subtitles; check this out as soon as possible. Your joy will thank you later.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Heaven Is For Real - Review

Who in the hell is Randall Wallace? Well, according to IMDB, he's the nameless director of such films as THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK, WE WERE SOLDIERS, and SECRETARIAT. He also bestowed on to the American public the script for Michael Bay's PEARL HARBOR, a story that famously caused every viewer to root for the Japanese to decimate an American love triangle. I asked this question not for the sake of starting off this review with a pun but for the fact that I couldn't accept HEAVEN IS FOR REAL as being a creation of any filmmaker beyond Jeff Nichols. Three years ago, he made a really good indie called TAKE SHELTER; this film featured a character actor in the lead role, a strawberry blonde-haired actress as his wife, people getting sick with multiple ailments in rapid succession, money troubles being a big plot point, a holiday venture ending with sheer consequences, but ultimately was about the struggle whether or not to accept visions that are experienced in some capacity. Guess what HEAVEN IS FOR REAL features?

This movie recounts the "amazing" true story of Colton Burpo, a 4-year-old boy from Nebraska whose father just so happens to be a town pastor. He suddenly is ailed by a case of having a burst appendix, so he's quickly pushed into emergency surgery. Some time after his operation, he begins to tell his dad Todd (played by Greg Kinnear) about what occurred during his hospital time, namely the period while he was under the knife. He states that he walked around Heaven, had angels sing to him, and got to sit on Jesus' lap. The medical reports reveal that he never flatlined on the table, so what happened to cause such an event? Could this have been a fantasy devised by his brain while unconscious or is it a true miracle, especially after further hidden secrets are revealed? And, could Mr. Burpo use such a story as to bring his community together while helping him pay off his debts?

Now let's stop being overtly critical about the believability of this story and focus strictly on this movie adaptation created in its wake. Unfortunately, I don't have any nice things to say about HEAVEN IS FOR REAL, so this train of negativity and cynicism will just keep on keeping on. You might respond that I should turn the other cheek and be nice to this supposedly wholesome movie. First off, I don't have to be because even the movie says its okay to fight and lambast: At one point, the other Burpo kid, a girl named Cassie, serves up a knuckle sandwich to two taunting boys on the playground, after they made fun of Colton. After she tells her parents of what she did, she's given a kiss on the head and the matters end right there. Not very Christian-like, huh? And secondly, this movie isn't wholesome at all. It is a gross production of standard Christian conventions, shallow craftsmanship, and tedious stretches of useless information and dialogue, all the while slathered with rampant product placement by Sony, who fronted the whole bill.

I'm going to start right off with the elephant in the room: Connor Corum, the child actor who plays Colton. He is very dreadful and seems to think that cuteness means to act like a shy Damien. His sole expression, which he utilizes whenever the situation calls for happiness, attentiveness, or sadness, can best be described as the "pissed in my pants" technique. Don't let his perky cheeks and cries for everyone to sing old Queen songs fool you, he is a very bad actor. Also, I have never seen a perfect four-year-old like this in real life, let alone in a church.

Now that I have cruelly mocked a little boy, let's move on to the rest of the junk present here. Though Wallace's previous films all had even a small sense of style and vibrancy, HEAVEN IS FOR REAL is largely lifeless and so incredibly boring to tolerate, especially with a running time of 100 minutes. It takes practically takes thirty minutes or more until Colton is finally sent off to the hospital, preceded by two full sermons, a series of cloyingly bankrupt scenes of family fun, and several useless subplots that go right in the garbage bin. Those money troubles I touched upon? Always brought up by the wife but never resolved. Todd's injuries that misfortunately pop up one after the other? Kinnear is later seen walking around fine with no trouble at all. Some shots devised by veteran cinematographer Dean Semler seem to invoke some kind of beauty but it is then negated by some repetitive tableaus and some frankly horror-like images, like Colton walking up from the basement in heavy shadow or Colton sitting on the stairs while framed in a dutch angle. Semler's work is also hampered by the highly questionable editing, which follows the script's nature by also randomly switching gears in the mood and tempo.

The movie does at least try to be objective in the debate over Colton's experiences but fails quickly on both ends. Colton's story is easily thrown out and labelled to be false because of a later scene where he re-enters into heaven "for a short time" by staring straight into the sun. That's not a joke, it's a real scene. But the other side of the debate isn't even better: The skepticism and jeering by the other townsfolk is such a turn on the dime from has been established before. You see these people listen closely to the sermons, all mingle at the local diner and play baseball together and then boom, people like Margo Martindale and Thomas Haden Church are now unexpectedly prudish towards the Burpos. This type of bipolar characterization is customary for a Christian film and screenwriter Chris Parker has some more to stupidly deal out. For example, Kinnear at one point meets and talks with a female college professor and she, like other higher learning figures in these movies, is depicted to be a harsh atheist, who may or may not lost a loved one and just needs one good sermon to win them back into the flock. Then of course, there is the good old Christian film cliche of flat-out lying to the audience: Kinnear searches on Wikipedia for "near-death experience", in order to continue to find out any possible answers for Colton's behavior. The website instead re-directs him to the page of "hallucination". Anyone with half a brain and a working keyboard can spot this goof.

This is labelled as being set in the present day, yet the real-life story took place in 2004. If you accept the established timeline, it doesn't explain why someone as busy as Kinnear's character is still carrying around a flip-top cell phone. But if you accept the time-frame of 2004, then you are treated to seeing everyone possessing a Sony Vaio laptop computer, which were popular at the time, and the fact that the Brupo family owns a Sony PS3, which wasn't even shipped out until 2006. The presence of Vaio computers everywhere is eye-rolling, plus the many mentions of Kinnear working for Overheard Door is a bit understandable, but the utterly despicable hard shill of Spider-Man is unfathomable. Spider-Man is everywhere in this picture, often seen as an action figure being carried all-around by Colton. When Colton is really sick and they want to show the dread of losing a child, the makers don't focus on the parents, they focus on the falling Spider-Man figure in slow-motion. But the crowning "achievement" comes when Dad talks with Colton one night in his bed. The camera is pulled way, way back in order to showcase Colton's "Spider-Sense" lamp shade, an Amazing Fantasy #15 poster, a generic Spider-Man poster, and a Spider-Man kids book on his bedside table. In case you forgot, Sony owns the movie rights to the Spider-Man franchise, with one coming in a few weeks, and they want to remain holding on to them. What a disgrace.

This isn't a movie made to support love for religious bonding or community togetherness. It was made to sucker in money by the barrel-full. I feel so bad for Kinnear, Church, and Martindale for wasting their talents in the piece of Christian filth. I just hope that God will forgive all those who were involved in this tedious cash-grab.


Enemies Closer - Review

A disgruntled ex-con (Orlando Jones) seeks vengeance for his younger brother's KIA by going after his retired Navy SEAL squad leader turned island park ranger (Tom Everett Scott), only to be forced to team up with him when a drug dealing mercenary/vegan environmentalist (Jean-Claude Van Damme) comes to camp up the joint. He and his evil group of Canucks invade the docile island in order to extract a cache of heroin from a downed plane and they thought it was a good idea to bring only one guy capable of doing the diving and retrieving. I hope that guy doesn't die from a shotgun blast fired off 100 feet away. This throwback to 90's action junk comes courtesy of the once talented Peter Hyams, who has had a history of fun Van Damme flicks. Too bad it's utter garbage and makes you yearn for a reboot of BLOODFIST. For example, some of the goons that are killed off or suffer horrific injuries just suddenly pop back up later, walking around with barely any ill effects. The movie could have succeeded through its many MMA-influenced duels if not for the unbearable decision to have the entire flick cloaked in dark blue darkness. The most egregious moment of this comes at the finale when Scott and Van Damme battle in a giant tree; it is nothing more than a blurred rush of jump cutted shadows. Even though Jones is the true protagonist and a believable brawler, the story still keeps centering itself around Scott, who's a boring lead with a peanut-sized brain, possesses no fighting prowess, and frankly looks to be cast only after Timothy Hutton and C. Thomas Howell were passed over. The only reason to view this, preferably in short YouTube video form, is Van Damme, who turns his performance all the way up as if he was Radio Raheem. He gleefully steals laughs as he kills his foes while ingesting wild strawberries and possessing a Ronald McDonald-approved afro. But again, just wait for the supercuts to come later because this is near unwatchable.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Trailer Review - Gone Girl

Gone Girl
1st Trailer
Watch It Here

Person of Interest: Ben Affleck as the desperate husband/possible murderer of a missing woman, Rosamund Pike as the titled character, Kim Dickens and Patrick Fugit as the detectives on the case, and, ugh, Tyler Perry as some guy with glasses.

Scene Pop: Wrong time for a smile.

Briggs Breakdown: Nothing really to talk about here. It pretty much informs us of the film's story without the need for heightened action cuts, save for the angry glass break.

Effective?: Yes, as stated right above. It certainly looks like a David Fincher film, right down to Jeff Cronenweth' dark cinematography. It's clear that Fincher is deliberately deconstructing the thriller genre yet again; As briefly seen here, Pike is often called to be emotionless and stiff as a cadaver, so that the reveal of her death in the closing is no surprise and it furthers paints Affleck as the likely killer. Richard Butler's cover of "She", most famously used by Elvis Costello for the rom-com Notting Hill, is given proper prominence, especially since the trailer editor cut the footage to match up perfectly with the words and to give the film a melancholic, haunting attitude.

Check it Out?: Yes. It's already going to be suited to reach a wider audience base, as it has been reported to feature a different outcome from the book. Maybe this will finally be the feature that will give some Oscar love to Fincher, after being unfortunately passed over and/or highlighted for his more dreadful productions.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Ultimate Warrior - RIP

Jim Hellwig, a.k.a. The Ultimate Warrior, a.k.a. Warrior, has died. He was 54 years old.

This shocking departure came a day after he was celebrated throughout the Wrestlemania weekend, inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, and had a solo promo segment on Monday Night Raw. The promo was viewed, then and now, as Warrior clearly acknowledging his hidden health problems and making the most of his limited time by delivering a final goodbye to his fans.

His untimely death is a major blow for myself, especially since I fed on my nostalgic glee for him recently when I wrote about the brief time he teamed with The Undertaker.

Much like the late Macho Man Randy Savage, Warrior was a childhood favorite of mine. The hard rocking theme music, the fast run to the ring, the shaking of the ropes, and the quick elimination of any opposition made him shine in the hearts and minds for young WWF fans.

He was to be the next big thing for the WWF, while also being the biggest clear sign of the changing times for the pro wrestling world, as it moved away from the dim and limited territory days that breathed its last breath in the 80's and moved to the global stage of the 90's.

Warrior was often criticized and lambasted by critics, pre- and post-Internet age, for his paltry ring skills, style over substance demeanor, and of course his incomprehensible backstage promos. Such highlights of the latter include him talking about being trampled by elephants, fueling up a warrior-filled rocket ship, and him killing two airplane pilots to crash Hulk Hogan into his domain, Parts Unknown.

Despite these rightfully just opinions, Warrior did occasionally feature the true potential of his character and the ability to be a true wrestler/performer, albeit with some guidance from other talented workers. Acclaimed matches include his war with Ravishing Rick Rude at Summerslam 1989 and the show-stealing retirement match against Macho Man Randy Savage at Wrestlemania VII. But if he had to be singled out solely for one night, it will forever be the "passing of the torch" match between him and Hogan at Wrestlemania VI.

Though he made a lasting impression on many people in the late 80's/early 90's, the rest of his personal life had a harsh ugly light tangled around it. He repeatedly clashed with Vince McMahon backstage and in the courtroom, legally changed his name to Warrior to prevent litigation, never lasting a full year in later promotion runs, crafted some of the worst comic books ever made, and ended his wrestling career with an abhorrent match against the equally aging Hogan at WCW Halloween Havoc 1998.

Unfortunately, he got worst: not content with spouting out gibberish writings about things like "destrucity", he became a far-far-right conservative speaker during the 2000's. His most infamous moment came when his videotaped engagement at the University of Connecticut went viral, showing him making disgraceful comments at some of the audience members and stating that "queering doesn't make the world work."

In the last couple years, he seemed to be changing his ways and reversing mostly all of his bitterness. The previous year had him helping out THQ in promotion for the latest WWE videogame and slowly making some amends with the WWE brass.

I don't condone any of the disgusting opinions he made throughout his life. But I'm simply unable to judge him solely for this side of him, mostly due to my love for the Warrior persona. I, like everyone else, must now see me not as an invincible warrior but as a man, able to stumble and stray when he wasn't bringing joy to his family or his fans.

He will be missed.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Strange Bedfellows - D'Lo Brown & Test

Since Wrestlemania XXX is around the corner, what better way to celebrate "The Showcase of the Immortals" by featuring an immortal tag team that fell apart quicker than a game jam sponsored by Mountain Dew. I'm of course talking about the most famous strange bedfellows of all time, D'Lo Brown and Test.

Wrestlemania XV is now widely known as one of the worst entries ever to be produced under the banner name. Granted, it's not as tortuous as ones like II, IV, 25, or XXVII but it's still a massive collection of bad creative ideas. For a great overview of the entire event, I highly recommend checking The Attitude Era Podcast's rundown of the tragic affairs. For a shortened version, there were a ton of low lights throughout the WWF's 1998-99 season finale: Road Dogg Jesse James and Bad Ass Billy Gunn were given the opposite's title and feud for the sake of being random (™ Vince Russo); Bart Gunn finally broke through the American wrestling market by suffering an embarrassing knockout in a shoot boxing match with Butterbean; the new big acquisition The Big Show being humiliated twice by stupidly losing a match by DQ and getting carted off by police into a small red car; Chyna turning face only to turn heel two matches later with Triple H; an eye-searing women's match where one combatant was wearing the female version of Giant Gonzalez' gear before the female version of Giant Gonzalez mercifully ends it; and the worst Hell in the Cell match ever concluding with the worst post-match angle ever. The sole redeeming match was the main event between Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock, which delivered a satisfying conclusion to the first year of the Austin-McMahon blood feud.

There is one match I've forgotten to mention in my block of cynical jabs: a title match for the World Tag Team Titles, then currently held by Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart. Head booker Russo and his company of writers wanted this fight to be a highly touted bout with real heat from the crowd and the paying audience. But he simply forgo all of that nonsense and just had the #1 contenders be determined through a tag team battle royal on a special edition of Sunday Night Heat; the special edition being the one taking place a hour before the event.

The idea of a tag team battle royal is not something new for Wrestlemania, as last year's immensely acclaimed XIV kicked off the show with one. That royal was booked to premiere and a give a big push to L.O.D. 2000, a Poochie-esque marketable revamp of the Road Warriors. The cumbersome space-hockey gear and new manager Sunny weren't able to save the eroding landmark tag team, as their talent and place on the card dropped faster than a Titantron-diving Hawk.

For those still unaware, a tag team battle royal is a bit different from its usual single wrestler design: both members partake in the brawling but if one is thrown over the ropes, they are both eliminated. Russo wouldn't have any of this logic, so it was decided that the last two individual men in the ring instead would be crowned the winners, team be damned. Because if there's one thing people love to see, it's the possibility of a tag title match where everyone is a heel.

Looking over the list of wrestlers seeking a Wrestlemania payday, I mean a worthy shot at a prestigious title, you get the usual mid card talent you would expect or be aware of at this time of the WWF: The Acolytes, D.O.A., pre-extreme Hardy Boys, Viscera & Mideon, former N.O.D. buddies D'Lo Brown & The Godfather, Too Much, and random throw-ins like Test, Steve Blackman and Droz. But then you have shocking entries even I forgot, including The Public Enemy (pre-burial by the Acolytes), comedy jobber Gillberg, and, ugh, Tiger Ali Singh.

At the time, I though the winners would obviously be the Legion of Doom. Yep, they were still around and again, they came out with a new look and manager. Hawk and Animal were back in their old garb and their original manager Paul Ellering returned to their side after going off the deep end about conquering the internet and helping out the charisma black-holes that forever are the Harris Brothers.

Unfortunately, they were both thrown out early and walk to the back in their penultimate WWF-era appearance. The winners instead were determined to be D'Lo and Test, as Droz and The Godfather eliminated each other. It's particularly eerie that it could have been Droz and D'Lo, given what was to come later in the year. Anyway, despite the final two being decided, the bell doesn't ring so Test and D'Lo just keep punching each other because they are a heel and face respectively. Hart and Jarrett, who were doing guest commentating, bum-rush them as the crowd gives the commotion the same enthusiasm as Tom Slick at a junior rodeo.

Casting my harsh critique aside for a moment, I must address a personal note: this outcome was like receiving proof of there being a God for myself and my brother back in 1999. D'Lo was one of my brother's favorites and the then newcomer Test was one of mine. Them teaming up together and possibly winning a major title at the biggest stage of all? That was some N64 booking right there for us.

So, how was the match?

It starts off with Kevin Dunn freaking the hell out because of the slow transition between matches. As Al Snow walks beside some referees and D'Lo's music hits, he thinks the best shot is a wide view of the crowd sitting completely still.

D'Lo comes out with his female ally Ivory, a journeywoman wrestler who was brought in to clean up the mess Sable did to the women's division and to, I'm not making this up, keep D'Lo away from white women. Trust me, there's far more racial and sexist horror later to be tapped during this era. She's wearing a facial bandage because the other match on Heat ended with Terri Runnells marking her with a cigar. It is so great when there's short-term booking on the pre-show, only to not have the importance or context showcased later on home video.

Test comes out with a bro-approved tank-top he picked up from Spencer's Gifts. He immediately gets in D'Lo's face and point blankly tells him, "You ain't worth SHIT!"

Jarrett and Owen come out with their non-matching ring gear (seriously, why didn't Jarrett wear his yellow shorts?) and their manager Debra. Debra is wearing a chandelier bikini and a suit jacket, thus popping the crowd. By popping, I of course mean their dicks. Ivory's reaction pretty much sums up my opinion of this wardrobe.

Despite being jerks to each other, the put-together tag team take early control. D'Lo and Jarrett pull off some adequate wrestling chemistry. The crowd responds to this showmanship with chants of "Nugget", the derogatory term/in-joke bestowed to Owen Hart by DX in 1998.

Test and Owen are both tagged in and they both quickly burn through all of their signatures and finishers. The opening seconds of the match had Test deliver a running big boot, and this exchange has him pulling off his gut wrench power bomb and an attempted pump handle slam. Owen responds with his beautiful leg-fed enzuigiri and sharpshooter. D'Lo breaks up the submission; Test responds to the save with the kind words of, "GET YOUR ASS in there and DO SOMETHING!"

D'Lo plays face in peril and again, the crowd has none of it. No one likes this random tag team and its confusing moral position. Even if they did, the match is moving too quickly to tell any story, which is incredibly sad considering every participant is great in the ring.

D'Lo gets a near-fall with a counter version of the Sky High. Test and Owen go to the floor while Debra just stands on the apron for some reason. I'm guessing she's supposed to sexily distract D'Lo, who's out of position and misses the cue, because Ivory is suddenly pissed and they argue outside. D'Lo sets up for his running powerbomb, only for Owen to hit him with a missile dropkick and Jarrett jack-knife pins him in the sole redeeming element of this match.

Despite the cool finishing maneuver, the match booking and the PPV production both continue to falter into insanity. Test lets Owen run off just so he can stand in his tracks and squawk with the women, and then Terri and Jaqueline, a.k.a. Pretty Mean Sisters (get it?), come out for no reason at all. They cut to the hard camera for the concluding pin and they inadvertently create the perfect tableau of this match, as everyone in the crowd turn their heads aside from the ring and pray for a catfight to take place.

Post-match, Ivory rightfully reads the riot act to Test for being booked like a geek, right before D'Lo and Test then engage in a lame brawl. And thus, the last Wrestlemania appearance of Jeff Jarrett and the late great Owen Hart ends with both being shunted off-screen, unable to celebrate their win, just so a brand new feud can go absolutely nowhere.

3 minutes, 57 seconds. If it wasn't for the 0:35 knockout to Bart Gunn, this would have been the shortest match of the night. As much as I love everyone in the ring, this match-up had no reason to exist and should have been removed off the first draft of this card. And as stated, nothing came from it later: D'Lo and Test were both practically given a two week reprieve from television while Jarrett and Owen would soon drop the belts to a new strange tag team, X-Pac and Kane. D'Lo would sadly remain in the mid-card for the rest of his WWF tenure, despite his talents and unique sense of charisma. Test instead experienced mood swing booking, as the creative team kept giving him a large push to the main event, drop him back to the mid-card and placed in tag teams, and do it all over again and again before being released for the final time in 2007. He would sadly die two years later.

There's no question that this team had no future and shouldn't have been assembled in the first place. The crowd shat on it and the bookers tried to write off their mistake, only to forget that video has a lasting legacy. Even if Test was a face, the two just didn't click with each other, possessing no team chemistry or matching prowess.