By the way: that classroom with Professor Epstein? We will never hear from them again. They’re done. Maybe they’ll be back in the sequel, with all of the classroom kids being five years older and Parrot Guy being a corpse.
We cut back to the Glacier palace that a rider arrived at a while ago, and meet King Apollyon sitting on his throne, holding his unsheathed sword for some reason – presumably to make himself appear menacing, with a live python, named Beelzebub, crawling over his arm. That’s how you know they’re bad guys: they like playing with snakes.
King Apollyon is wearing a pretty cheap outfit and he’s seated in front of a curtain to disguise the fact this was obviously filmed inside someone’s house.
The hooded figure turns out to be Gertrude, who explains to Apollyon that they’ve received word that they found “her”, whoever that is, who is carrying messages, and that two children have entered the kingdom of light. And this scene is just…horribly put together.
In film, there’s something called the 180-degree rule, which is the type of thing you learn the first week at any basic film class. The concept is pretty simple: There’s an imaginary line connecting two characters within a scene, and when you cut back and forth, the camera stays on one side of the axis. It’s not the end-all-be-all, but you generally don’t violate the rule unless you have a specific affect you are trying to achieve – typically, confusing the fuck out of your audience. To illustrate it, take a scene from The Avengers:
Thor is on the left-hand side of the frame, looking to the right, and when we cut to Captain America, he’s on the right-hand side of the frame, looking left. It’s simple, and effective, because it mimics how we see things: if you’re watching two people have a conversation in real life, you’re seeing it (generally) from one side.
Also, note how the line of site matches: Thor is standing, looking down from above, Captain America is sitting, looking up.
Now look at how Maradonia does it:
Gertrude is on the right, looking left and up, and when we cut to Apollyon, he is also on the right, looking left and looking up. It’s disorienting to the audience, and we can tell they aren’t actually looking at each other in this scene.
Also, as Gertrude is talking, she keeps glancing over at the cameraman and director, which is…bad.
Apollyon wonders if Joey and Maya will enter Terra Mille and adds, for the audience’s benefit, that that is their kingdom. Which makes sense: when I’m talking to friends, I’m say things like “Next week my uncle is coming to New York. Where we live.”
Apollyon wonders if the Light King’s prophecy has been fulfilled. Gertrude doesn’t know, so we immediately cut to Apollyon who is now standing because fuck consistency, the Tesches don’t care about it, so neither do we. He says he can feel the presence of these children already. Interesting. If he can feel their presence, it should help him track them down and murder them, right?
Abaddon tells his father to not be afraid – okay, stop for a second.
He’s wearing a chain-link helmet with a gold skullcap with peacock feathers stuck in it. It looks absolutely ridiculous, which is a bit of a shame because this actor is by FAR the best actor in the entire film.
Abaddon says there’s nothing to worry about, because they’re just…children. Stupid children. I have to grant that, Maya and Joey are idiots.
“We have the powers to blow their brains from their skulls, in a moment of time!”
Which explains why they will spend the rest of the movie not doing exactly that.
Abaddon says a bit more, but he trails off a bit and combining the poor audio with the blaring soundtrack, I have no idea what he said.
Apollyon likes this:
“We must be prepared. The failure to prepare is the preparation to fail.”
Hearing that line, spoken aloud, by an adult male in a ridiculous costume….my life may be complete.
Next scene Apollyon is abruptly sitting down again. He asks his sons their opinion.
Abaddon explains that he’s listened “very carefully” to the 30-second conversation Apollyon had with Gertrude, which is a good way to start. He tells Apollyon it’s very important that “you calm down and trust us.” Using this chiding tone on He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, Lucifer, The Morningstar, Satan Fucking Himself…well, goes off without a hitch, really.
Abaddon has a plan: He, his brother Plouton, their fairies, their hoodsmen, their sorcerers, and their spies, will IMMEDIATELY…make sure the border patrol tells them if they detect the intruders.
So, in other words, they’re not going to do a fucking thing.
I’m not sure how to respond to this scene, it’s played dramatically, so I think it’s intended to be serious, but basically Abaddon just said “I know these children are bad news, pops, so our plan is to kick back and hope our border patrol lets us know if they see anything.” What the fucking actual fuck?
Apollyon agrees, as says they need to find the children…fast:
“As I’ve mentioned before…the failure to prepare is the preparation to fail!”
Why yes, Apollyon, you did say that before. How long ago…let’s skim back….yes, that was exactly sixty seconds ago.
Maybe Apollyon has this weird verbal tic where he has to say that every minute and all his hangers-on are just amusing him.
Alternately, maybe the Tesches just wanted to shoehorn in as many quotes from Gloria’s novel as they could. At the end of their first (and only) take, they probably high-fived each other and talked about it giving them chills.
Apollyon asks them to keep an extra eye on the “Portal of the Time Tunnel and the Border Gates” which might go down in cinematic history as the least creative name of all time. Then as a cheap CGI explosion happens over the hilt of his sword, he commands them:
“Go! Go for the kill! Go for the kill! Go for the kill!”
That’s a couple shots, guys.
And finally, twenty-two minutes into this movie, it actually begins. We pan over unpacked cardboard boxes, a skateboard, a trumpet (which will become amusing later), and onto Maya and Joey eating breakfast while their mother warns them to hurry because it’s their first day at the new school and they don’t want to be late.
Maya annoyedly tells her mother that she is ready, and Joey sarcastically mouths “Thanks mom.” I think we’re supposed to be rooting for these characters?
As Maya heads out the door, her mother stops to tell her that she’s such a “beautiful and intelligent girl” but “very shy.” I can just picture Gloria writing the screenplay. What would my fictional mother say? Well, I’m definitely beautiful, and I’m super awesome smart…wait, what’s a character flaw, so I stay humble? Maybe I’ll go with shy.
They get to school and Maya is wandering through the halls while texting and not paying attention. She encounters the three members of the legendary “Gothic Movement” that you’ll remember from the books, and the lead goth trips Maya, and then stomps on her phone, which is clearly already broken, so…overkill?
We cut over to Maya and one of her…I guess it’s a friend although we’ve never seen her before. They talk about what happened –
“She broke my phone.”
“She broke your phone???!!!”
That’s a shot. Also the audio cuts throughout this scene are horrible.
The Gothic Movement overhears this and storms up. Lead Goth asks Maya, and says that if she has a problem, to, “Say it to her face.” Her lackey echoes: “Yeah, say it to her face.”
We’re six minutes into this segment and I’m already getting hammered.
Lead Goth has had enough and bitch-slaps Maya across the face. So Maya tackles her and the fight is on! All the kids enthusiastically run over to cheer the fight on, and I can’t help but notice one of them is clearly the same girl whose father died on 9/11 in the other scene.
Maya beats the shit out of her until a teacher comes to break it up, then grabs their hands to haul them off to the principal’s office, smash cut to:
Maya and Joey are dressed up – Joey is even wearing a button-down and tie, the way most 15-year-olds dress up to go to birthday parties. Maya wonders if she’s invited, but Joey explains he promised Derek to bring her because everyone thinks she’s cool since she beat up Lead Goth. Maya scoffs at this and tells Joey that being cool is “all you ever think about”. Well, yeah. He’s fifteen. Joey protests, so Maya explains that all he likes is “skateboarding, girls, and being liked by everybody.”
Well, yeah. He’s fifteen.
I mean, the actor is at least twenty, but he’s supposed to be fifteen.
They arrive at the hotel this birthday party is being held at – because it’s being held at a hotel – and they are stopped by the doorman who is checking the list – because they have a doorman checking a list. Joey snaps his fingers for the list, points at a name, and says “That’s us.” Actually, I’m pretty sure you have to give your name and then the doorman compares it to the list, because if he just shows you the fucking list and lets you pick a random name who hasn’t signed in yet it kind of defeats the entire fucking purpose of having a fucking list.
They roll inside and there’s a bunch of eight-year-olds running around, and there’s some twelve-year-olds hanging out on the staircase. It’s pretty obviously filmed inside someone’s house, not an actual hotel, and there’s seven boys and Maya here, and no decorations or cake or punch or anything to suggest they’re throwing an actual party.
We cut back to the doorman who sees stock footage of a bird flying around in the sky, at least 400 yards away, but he has to pretend that it’s nearby, so he’s all “Hey, birdie, you can’t get in here…don’t give me trouble” and then we get stock footage of a half-dozen birds flying around 400 yards away, so he mentions that the bird brought some friends, panics, and runs inside the house. If I didn’t know otherwise I’d swear they were spoofing Birdemic.
We cut to Maya standing next to the pool gazing off into the distance, then Joey jumps out and shoves her into the pool. The sound effect for the splash isn’t even complete before we cut to a shot of Maya floating face-down, limply in the pool. Apparently the Tesches really struggle with the concept of time passing.
As Maya is floating in the pool, she sees a statue of a mermaid, we see a mermaid’s tale swimming by, and a woman sings “Maya, come to [unintelligible]” which is layered over the laughing boys and a cheerful, upbeat soundtrack that drowns out everything else. The doorman comes sprinting outside, looks up at stock footage doves flying over a stock footage sky, sees Maya, and leaps in to save her. In the background, we see a kid running to get the first aid get, and then we cut to the doorman laying Maya down and shouting “someone get the first aid kit!” So…they edited these scenes into the movie out of order? As it’s cut, he yells that and someone sets it down two-thirds of a second later. I’m not sure why someone needs a first-aid kit when they have no visible wounds, but sure, okay.
Maya protests she doesn’t need an ambulance and babbles incoherently. The doorman says she hit her head pretty hard, except he wasn’t there when she fell in the pool, so how the fuck would he know? Joey is on the sidelines, sarcastically applauding and shouting things like “Way to be a drama queen!” You know what? Fuck you, Joey, you’re a piece of shit.
Okay, that makes me feel better.
The doorman explained how the birds “led him” to Maya and saved her life. Okay. So he saw birds outside the front door, went inside, then went out the back door, saw birds again, and then saved Maya? That’s an impeccable line of logic right there.
Afterward, Maya storms out. Joey stops her and tries to convince her to lie to their parents, you know, the way you’d convince your teenage sibling to lie after you knocked them into a pool in front of a group of kids, and nearly killed them. Maya reads Joey the riot act about lying and storms off, losing a shoe. Joey says
And we cut to a new scene literally in the middle of a word of an old guy riding his bike and Joey and Maya walking down the street, because “continuity” is not a thing that exists in this movie. What was the outcome of this debacle? Who knows. Is Maya holding a grudge about what happen, or will this conflict have absolutely any impact on the rest of this movie? You’re goddamn right it won’t.
It’s their neighbor, Mr. Perkins, who is out pedaling his bicycle in his pants, pink shirt, suspenders, and ponytail. He looks like he was cast after he tried to lure Maya and Joey with candy into his panel van.
In a horribly out-of-focus scene, he warns them not to visit the Pebble Beach, because there are sharp rocks and riptides. Joey VERY obviously says “we’re going” to Maya, and we cut to another scene in Florida as they meander through some underbrush. They arrive at the beach, and Maya takes a nap as Joey wanders off. Eventually she wakes up and takes off her t-shirt and cutoffs, and…eurgh.
I mean, objectively, Gloria has a smokin’ hot body, and despite her horrendous accent, she cuts a fine figure in her red bikini, but all I can think of is her father standing behind the camera shouting “Okay, Gloria, take your t-shirt off!”
We cut briefly to stock footage of a shark, and I hope that she is about to be eaten, but no such luck. She sits down on the beach and wonders out loud about the voices asking for help, which I presume is what we were supposed to hear when she was drowning in the hotel pool. Eventually, she notices that Joey is not around, and jogs off to find him, slowly dressing herself to a song that sounds like a knockoff of Vangelis’ Conquest of Paradise.
Maya stops briefly to stare into space and ask (out loud) why she keeps seeing these birds and hearing this music. Oh Maya. You sweet summer child. If only I knew.
Eventually she finds Joey in a scene that is so horribly white-balanced the sky is…pink.
You do know that you can actually fix white-balancing in post, right? It’s actually really, really simple.
Joey says they’re going past the obvious government sign that says “No Trespassing”. Maya angrily asks if he can see the sign, and Joey sarcastically tells her to stop being such a chicken. Honestly, these two assholes deserve each other.