Nightman’s Least Favourite Movies Of 1998!

Shakespeare In Love Review | Movie - Empire

It feels like a long time since I’ve posting one of these. I think that’s because my last batch of favourite/least favourite movie posts were written months ago, then posted sporadically in the weeks afterwards, but I haven’t actually written any new ones in 6 months. Time to get back into these now.

I had a tough time with this one – I had to resort to scanning down all the movies released according to Wikipedia, and it wasn’t until the letter H that I found one that I was even remotely inclined to include here. Quite a few of the movies I’ve listed – I don’t think they’re bad, I don’t even dislike them much. It’s just that out of the movies I’ve seen from 1998, these ones I liked least or had some personal issues with. There are, of course, a few stinkers.

Hard Rain

The letter ‘H’. It’s a film I don’t have anything against, it’s just a little meh. Underwhelming. It was one of Christian Slater’s last shots at the big time before he sadly fell into straight to DVD fare. He’s one of my favourite actors, he’s in some of my favourite movies, and he’s capable of so much more. Here he rejoins Morgan Freeman in a sort of action, sort of thriller, though both the thrills and action leave plenty to be desired. It’s a decent idea, coming around the same time as all of those 90s era disaster special effects blockbusters, but it lacks the entertainment or the scope of those.

The film looks good – it just lacks that spectacle. Danish Cinematographer Mikael Salomon directs – famed for his work on The Abyss – but the story doesn’t deliver the thrills which the setup promises. It’s basically a heist movie inside of a disaster movie, which sounds great on paper, and the disaster is the flooding of a small US town. Slater is the everyman good guy, while Freeman plays against type as the villain. It’s worth seeing, it probably didn’t deserve to flop as badly as it did, but it’s hardly the most memorable movie of the year.

Knock Off

In the 1980s, Jean Claude Van Damme made his name for himself as a respectable action movie star. Then again, in the 1980s you could get away with a lot of nonsense which simply wouldn’t work in any other era. When we entered the 90s, much of the cheese went away and the surviving successful action stars had to adapt – bigger budget movies, higher concepts – with Van Damme doing well in the first half of the decade thanks to Universal Soldier and Timecop. Those less inclined to follow every movie such stars release would have though JCVD dropped off the map, but he was still there pushing out a mixture of cult classics, lesser known fun times, and shite like this.

It seemed good on the surface – Tsui Hark is a man renowned for his flamboyant, amusing, action packed Hong Kong movies, with the Once Upon A Time In China series being one of the greatest Martial Arts franchises. But then Rob Schneider appears in the cast. And Paul Sorvino. And the plot is about… stolen pairs of jeans? It doesn’t matter. It all circles on Knock Off clothing and Van Damme and Schneider are the cops tasked with sorting all this shit out and making sure only wholesome American brands are worn on ever thickening American asses.

The movie is camp as get out, something I’m usually resolutely against in my humour, but there are a few amusing moments. Mostly because the whole thing is ridiculous. It tries to follow the straight man/weirdo buddy cop formula… but the mixture of Hong Kong algorithms into the mix really throws things off meaning it becomes a bizarre, unwieldy mish mash which isn’t really suited to anyone. The most egregious crime is that it lacks the kinetic and visual flare of the HK side, or the brutality and coherence of the US side. If you like JCVD, it’s certainly one of many curios in his career, but it’s not worth the time for anyone else.

Little Voice

1998 was one of those years where the influence of Britpop and Cool Britannia spilled over into British Cinema – on the surface all of these new British voices – writers, directors, actors, were hitting the mainstream. The worldwide mainstream. British Cinema was firmly on the map again. Four Wedding And A Funeral kind of kicked it off, and Trainspotting blazed the trail in a different direction, but it wasn’t until the latter half of the decade that all of these British (English) movies made an impact beyond our shores. People suddenly loved British Cinema again. The stupid thing is, the whole era resulted in a grand total of fuck all good movies. There are a few of them on my list this year, and each in their own way signifies everything I hate about English film in the populist sense. From the sickeningly desperate leg-humping attempts to be notice by the big boys in Hollywood (rather than having the self respect to be their own thing), to the inevitable cutesy twee humour which, again, is something which exists only because it’s what the big boys in US expect. These movies are always, always comedies, with slightly offbeat characters – the types of people you cross the street to avoid, then wait until they’re out of sight before following them home and shitting on their doorstep – but they completely avoid the truest, best trappings of British humour. Look at any number of British sitcoms of comedy TV shows from this same era, which were made primarily for British audiences; there’s simply no comparison. TV writers were pumping out some of the finest characters and sketches ever committed to screen, while movie makers were shoving this shite down everyone’s gaping holes.

You know exactly what this film is before seeing it – it hits all of the same character, comedy, and story beats of every other film of its ilk. Shy woman from working class background hides from the world and impersonates her favourite singers (read – has zero personality of her own). Her mum, who is a shit, thinks she is shit. She is encouraged to sing in public, and after some misfires becomes a success. The end. The amount of awards this was nominated for is ridiculous.

There was any number of other British films this year that I could also have included here (further down the list I have) but the likes of The Land Girls, Waking Ned, Titanic Town almost made the cut but were just redeemable enough to avoid such embarrassment.

Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels

With its poster adorning the walls of idiots around the globe, Lock…. was a sensation and launched the career of Guy Ritchie – a man who has yet to make a single film I have even tolerated, never mind enjoyed. His success is truly bewildering to me. I get that people love his early work, but I just don’t understand any of it. It’s cut rate Tarantino at its worst, and even more unforgivably it centres on a bunch of Cockney twats who I wanted out of my life within seconds of seeing. A bunch of people I don’t like arsing about in a convoluted yet empty crime plot with a soundtrack by artists I can’t stand – the only good thing about this was that I generated a nickname for one of my English teachers at the time – Mr Blackstock And Two Smoking Armpits. Because he was a sweater. And because I am a genius.

Psycho

There’s a silly argument which goes on about remakes of foreign movies – that the US version must somehow be superior, or that the original is somehow inferior or overhyped simply because it is foreign. Because it is subtitled. Pushers of this argument double down on the remakes which are essentially scene for scene. Ignoring the casual racism inherent in such a statement, it’s a very silly argument to make. I could make the argument that if the US remake isn’t very good but the foreign original was lauded and lavished with praise – simply that the critics and reviewers were wrong or that the wrong films are being remade. The whole thing is rendered pointless when we think of US shot for shot remakes of US films. Gus Van Sant’s remake of Hitchcock’s masterpiece is as close to a shot for shot remake as you’ll ever get. Yet it somehow lacks the chills and the shocks and the atmosphere and the intelligence of the original. Which highlights the simple fact that, no matter how similar you make your remake it’s still an entirely separate entity. Different director (probably), different cast, different filming period, different everything. Before comparing remake to original or blindly assuming the original must somehow be a product of reviewer bias if the remake is poor, maybe go watch the fucking thing yourself.

Rasen

Ringu is one of the greatest horror movies of all time. It’s also one of my personal Top Ten movies of all time. Rasen is the forgotten… side sequel? Honestly, the whole Ring book and movie series is quite complicated, but basically both Ringu and Rasen are based on the original books by Koji Suzuki – Ringu is the first novel and Spiral is the second, with Rasen based on Spiral. Both movies share some cast members – namely Hiroyuki Sanada and Miki Nakatani, and exist in the same universe. That’s about where the similarities end. The book series is loosely horror, and as it proceeds begins to deal with artificial intelligence and the link between the supernatural and technology, and that’s kind of the tone which Rasen follows. Ringu is all terror, all the time. Ringu was a massive hit, singlehandedly kicking off the J-Horror movement, while no-one remembers Rasen exists. It’s hardly surprising, because Rasen is a slog to get through, isn’t scary, and doesn’t really know what it’s supposed to be.

It doesn’t make an ounce of sense. The books are incredibly well written and in dealing with complex theories they actually drive an engaging narrative and convince the reader of what is being proposed. Rasen jumps from scene to scene and twist to twist with little explanation, and what explanation there is ends up bewildering further. The film was such a flop that those in charge demanded a new sequel – the vastly superior Ring 2 more closely following the events of Ringu insteaf of the books.

Shakespeare In Love

Here we go again. Another British Rom come. This ticks a tonne of my no go boxes – English (kind of)? Rom Com? Period Piece? When I first heard about it… I thought it was a good idea. As an English Literature Degree holding guy this should have been up at least one of my alleys. But a combination of irritating casting and misguided humour, along with the aforementioned no go boxes meant this was at best an annoyance best forgotten. The fact that the film was such a monumental success was salt, ketchup, and garlic and chives into the wound. We’ll get to the whole Oscars debacle at some point in the future, but it’s neither here nor there – the film is utter balls.

Sliding Doors

Two Gwyneth Paltrow movies in one list in one year? I’m not surprised, given how garbage an actress (human?) she appears to be. Existing in this space entirely on the backs of famous parents, her entire career is a mess. If I look down her entire filmography, there isn’t a single performance that I’ve seen that I’ve enjoyed, and her appearance in films I have more or less liked – The Talented Mr Ripley…. actually, that’s probably the only one – her appearance has brought those films down. Why is she a thing?

Sliding Doors… another quirky English Rom Com which panders to the big boys. It’s actually an okay premise – how something as uneventful as getting on or not getting on a train could be on your life. In reality, such things don’t actually make a difference to anyone’s existence – few things do, but that’s the Hollywood lie to keep us poor folks hoping and dreaming and giving over money to our betters. The idea is used only to serve the ‘romance’ which is what really matters, but the horrible dialogue, the cutesy twee crap, the awful casting, the production line beats of the script… it all adds up to yet another wholly unnecessary entry in a genre which has produced more shite than almost any other.

The Thin Red Line

Terence Malik, I love ya but… this increasingly feels like a meandering misstep. With every new Malik film released it feels like the dude is only good at one thing, and thing stopped being interesting in the 70s. Still, The Thin Red Line is a beautifully shot experience and should be seen by anyone with even a passing interest in Cinema as an art form. It’ll certainly pick up plenty of nominations in my personal Oscars lists when I get around to those. I only wish I cared about any of what was happening. By no means a bad film… it just passed me by like yet another exhibit in a gallery I didn’t have to pay to enter.

You’ve Got Mail

Gwyneth Paltrow and Meg Ryan may well be the same person. Have you seen them in the same room at the same time? In any case, they both select the same sort of material and play the same sort of characters regardless of the film or the genre. Of course, that genre is usually RomCom, but you get the idea. Ryan, to her credit, is a better performer and has sometimes chosen more edgy and exciting material, but it’s movies like this that she is known for. Films for hopeless romantics (read – hopeless people), movies which have these people in ridiculous situations and somehow come out of them with a diamond ring and a nice pretty husband. You’ve Got Mail is one of the most notable of these sorts of movies – it’s equally illogical and annoying as the others, it’s a void of ideas, it’s shot with the flare of a housewife filming her baby’s first birthday, and… well, it’s just for me. I think we’ve established that repeatedly by now. If people enjoy this, more power to them. For me, it’s just another inane entry and the garbage spewing canon.

What are your thoughts on 1998? Have I treated any of these films unfairly? Which films from my list, or from 1998 would you include as your least favourite? Let us know in the comments!

Nightman’s Least Favourite Movies Of 1999!

Notting Hill review – a year-round treat, not just for Valentine's | Notting Hill | The Guardian

1999 was a pretty favourable year for me, as you’ll have seen in my Favourites post. There were plenty of movies I enjoyed outside of those Twenty movies, so it was tricky finding enough I didn’t like for this post.

Angela’s Ashes

There’s no valid reason for me having this on the list – I just don’t like Irish films for the most part. Maybe because it’s too close to home, because they’re grimy and filthy, and offer me no escapism that they become nauseating. It’s well made, well acted, and disturbing. But it’s on the list.

The Haunting

Man, this just takes everything which makes the original movie (and haunted house movies in general) interesting, and throws it out the window in favour of dodgy effects, tepid characters, the atmosphere of a vet’s waiting room, and endless aimless dialogue. There are a few unintentionally funny moments here and there but not enough to make it worth anyone’s time.

In Dreams

I was looking forward to this, being a fan of Neil Jordan’s work (excluding some of his Irish stuff) but I generally don’t care for Annette Bening or Aidan Quinn. Having crafted some of the more interesting horror movies in recent decades, this should have worked, but once we get into so called twisting psychological territory, things fall apart quickly with the same old tired tropes and obvious twists signposted early on – plus the whole thing has a drab visual design.

Lake Placid

This is another movie I had looked forward to, hearing it compared favourably to Jaws and Tremors. Both comparisons are insulting with Lake Placid being more similar to Jaws 3 or, well, Tremors 3. The camp humour is risible, the script clueless, and it fails to either entertain or scare or engage in any manner.

Notting Hill

Another year, another dastardly British ‘comedy’. If it’s not a shitty musical, it’s one of these. It reeks of Richard Curtis – smarmy faux slapstick comedy, toff scum, English ideals and character types who don’t actually exist. The annoying thing is that I actually like the central idea – a Hollywood superstar just randomly stumbling upon some nobody’s life. I could do without the falling in love part, and Hugh Grant will never be convincing as anybody other than Hugh Grant. With that idea alone, an overhauled script, new cast, new director, you might have an enjoyable movie.

Runaway Bride

Sorry, Julia Roberts, I think you’re a very good actress – you just have an annoying habit of picking shitty material. Master of the shitty Romantic Comedy, Gary Marshall, created yet another inexplicable hit – did he ever make a good movie though? There’s nothing you need to see here.

Stigmata

Yet another film I was pre-disposed to like – horror, religious iconography, Patricia Arquette, and a Natalie Imbruglia song on the soundtrack to top it off. Sadly, it’s just not very good. Not interesting, not scary… I’m not sure what it was trying to be.

Let us know in the comments what your least favourite movies of 1999 are!

Nightman’s Least Favourite Movies Of 2000!

It took me a longer time than it usually does to find a suitable list of movies to include for this post. Sometimes you get those years where very few films stink up the nose holes.

Kevin And Perry Go Large

More difficult than me finding ten movies I didn’t like this year, is finding a British sitcom which translates successfully to the big screen. In the case of Kevin And Perry – they came from more of a sketch show rather than a sitcom, though their particular sequences in the various Harry Enfield series essentially acted as a mini sitcom. Being in my early teens when the Harry Enfield series were prime time viewing, maybe I should have related more to Kevin and Perry, somehow, even though they were clearly mocking annoying teen culture and clueless parents. They weren’t my favourite sequences or characters though – I still liked them but I liked other parts more. Maybe what irked me most was the fact that these guys were held up as the ‘mascots’ of the series – everyone was doing impressions and one-liners of these guys to the point that it was clear they hadn’t watched any other part of the show. The movie itself sees the teenagers heading off to Ibiza for a steek-fest, in the hope of getting drunk and getting laid, and it sadly became a celebration of 90s Lad Culture instead of a satire. Plus, it isn’t funny, it’s badly directed, and the characters are too thin to sustain a feature.

What Lies Beneath

Big budget horror movies with big names, fully backed by a powerhouse studio? Honestly, these never work for me anymore – the recent attempts at classy horror like this, like The Others, lack the scares and don’t show me anything new. It wasn’t until A24 came along and pulled the same trick, but did it with authenticity and originality. What Lies Beneath sure looks the part – A-list cast, it’s pretty, it’s classy. But it has zero balls, it’s bland, it relies on a twist which is fairly obvious from the opening minutes, and it is painfully long.

Billy Elliot

It’s a British comedy about a boy who just wants to dance. Was there any way this wasn’t going to make my list? The only other question is why I ever watched it in the first place.

Book Of Shadows

As much of a divisive film as it is, I love The Blair Witch Project – not only for what it did and achieved, but because it was for me an extremely effective horror film with an ever increasing atmosphere, a crippling of characters’ mentality, just enough world-building to intrigue, and a wonderful finale. I fully understand those people it didn’t work for – different things scare different people. I fail to understand how anyone could enjoy Book Of Shadows, on anything more than a base level. It fails as a sequel, it fails as a standalone due to its general incoherence and amateur feel, and it fails as a horror film – we’ve seen it all before a thousand times better and worse. I only ever saw it once when it was released, so maybe my feelings will have changed if I saw it again now – doubt it.

Red Planet/Mission To Mars

Honestly, I can’t remember which one of these it was, or indeed if it was both. I think it had Val Kilmer in it, but then again Mission To Mars sounds like the film I remember him being in – which isn’t the case. All I remember is looking out the window more than at the TV. In truth, both weren’t great but one was particularly grueling.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas

I only saw this one during a recent Christmas break, as something festive to watch with the kids. A mistake on my part, and on everyone involved. This is the sort of monstrosity I assume that the Cats movie is, but I struggle to see how anything could be more painful than this. Now – like the previous entry, there’s every chance I’m confusing this or merging it with The Cat In The Hat movie with Mike Myers. In any case, both are abominations which should never be spoke of again, unless as part of some arcane incantation to invoke the undead holy power of Nzzgrprtkaghk.

Snatch

Guy Ritchie has yet to make a movie I’ve tolerated, never mind liked. This and Lock, Stock were all over ever twats’ walls in poster form when I went to University. I don’t get it. Of course, I can’t stand any of that Cockney shite that people seem to love – I can think of fewer things I like less than films set in London’s criminal underworld.

Ginger Snaps

This film angered me because it seemed to get a lot of plaudits and credit and acclaim when it immediately struck me as a try-hard Buffy clone. While nobody actually seemed to be talking about Buffy and how important it was, critics were fawning over the stuff that wouldn’t have existed without it. In the late 90s, a lot of Buffy clones made it on to our TVs – young, sexy, self-aware, smart teens quipping in school and juggling daily lives and some wider conspiracy or secret. Ginger Snaps is precisely this, but told in a more irritating way and without an ounce of the originality it is claimed to have.

Meet The Parents

Are any of these good? Actually, don’t answer that, I don’t care. The first was bad enough.

Let us know in the comments which films of 2000 you would slap onto the naughty list!

Nightman’s Least Favourite Movies Of 2001!

In 2001 I started some genuine ‘study’ or ‘criticism’ with regards to Cinema, thanks to picking up a few Film modules in University. I say ‘genuine’, but what I really mean is ‘watched for more than mere entertainment’. This just happened to coincide with me fully branching out to watch everything I could get my hands on. Unfortunately it meant I watched a tonne of crap and discussed those with an honest critical hat on. I have long abandoned any hope or desire to being any sort of critic – I just call it as I see it, and reserve in depth discussion for those films I love. Today’s list – I don’t love.

Valentine

A few years too late to both the post-Scream horror world and post ‘David Boreanez is hot’ landscape. This is a by the numbers, contrived 90s slasher with none of the smarts of the best of its genre, and few of the scares. I lay in bed watching this when it first aired on TV, and that was the absolute best place I could have been to view such a snoozer.

Bridget Jones’s Diary

It’s a British big screen comedy, so that’s one black mark. It’s a romantic comedy, so that’s another. Hugh Grant and Colin Firth are doing their thing, so that’s two more. And there is nothing in the positive column.

Moulin Rouge

Your yearly musical, and really the first one to bring the Musical back to the big time. Perhaps its greatest travesty was ensuring that no matter where you went or what you did between 2001 and 2004, you were subjected to hearing that awful Lady Marmalade song – absolutely one of the most terrible creations in the history of music. The 70s version was bad enough, but throw in Aguilera’s uncomfortable gyrating and skin-tearing caterwauling and you have one of the purest torture instruments since the good old ‘grenade under foreskin’.

Jurassic Park III

The Lost World wasn’t amazing, but it still had ideas and felt like an adventure. Part 3 devolves into camp and converts a solid enough cast into a bunch of bumbling tools acting out an extended Scooby Doo episode, but without the sexual intrigue or fun.

Ghost World

It’s the movie that your annoying proto-hipster pseudo-friend wouldn’t stop harping on about because they thought it reflected them and their life (spoiler alert – it did; both are worthless). There’s one of these every year or so, and they’re never as good as what people claim they are. I probably got a couple of grins out of this, mainly because of Buscemi’s antics, but the whole ironic nerd-gazing anti-pity party tone in this sort of movie always irks me.

The Others

I wanted to like The Others as it claimed to be a throw-back to the good old atmospheric ghost stories of days of yore. And to a certain extent it is, except that you realize that that sort of movie with that sort of tone just doesn’t work anymore – we have progressed as a culture and as an audience to the point that films going for that tone and atmosphere need to bring something new to the table. Most of the movie hinges on a twist, which is glaringly obvious from round about the opening scene of the movie, and an atmosphere which always felt to me more detached and gloomy than foreboding and dread-inducing.

Zoolander

I have no clue why this was a hit at the time or why people still talk about it. Sure, I didn’t see it at the time and came to the party quite late (mainly because I’m not a big Ben Stiller fan), but when I did it confirmed everything I had anticipated – not funny, a chore to finish.

Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone

I only watched this film for the first time last year, avoiding it and the novels all of these years. I had no desire to watch it upon release and then when my kids were born I thought it would be a great series to watch alongside them, given all the rave reviews and hype. So we watched it last year – wow, what a pile of crap. I appreciate the first in a series is all about creating a world and establishing characters – but the world depicting is bland and unimaginative, the characters are hackneyed and show no progress over those seen in something like The Worst Witch, and the central performances of the (then) child actors are uniformly terrible. I get that they’re child actors picking up this huge mantel, but man there is a monumental level of sucking here. The plot is very much ‘lonely boy realizes he’s special, and goes off to a new place to learn why he’s special’ but with no drama, no laughs, and no endgame. It has all but destroyed any desire I had of watching the others in the series, but more crucially, my kids have zero interest in pursuing it.

A Beautiful Mind

From Day One this looked and smelled like Oscar bait. From the late Seventies these Oscar Bait movies became increasingly prevalent. I almost never enjoy them, especially when they are Biographical in nature. Usually it’s because the biopics are based on people I don’t care about and whose life holds no great interest for me. It’s the same with  A Beautiful Mind – it’s by no means a bad film, it’s simply no different to me than a made for TV movie with a big name cast concerning a person and a story that I’m never going to care about.

Ocean’s Eleven

This one comes down to personal taste more than anything – though of course the same could be said for any entry. The fact is – I’m not a fan of the Rat Pack, at all; their movies, their music, the image – it’s all hateful to me. So when this was announced I was skeptical. It’s not the same as the 60’s outing, but it’s a similar enough exercise in style and dialogue and approach that this was never going to be for me. Credit to bringing together a cast like this, but the whole suit wearing, high life, wise-guy, shtick is to me what being hit in the face with a basketball is to toddlers.

I’m sure there are some favourites in there for any readers – feel free to tell me what I’m missing and add your picks of least favourite movies of 2001!

Nightman’s Least Favourite Movies Of 2002!

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2002 was such a strong year for me, in terms of movies in general, and in terms of my personal tastes, that it was very difficult for me to really find any movies I didn’t like. I pretty much only went to the Cinema for movies I knew I’d love, and all of the DVDs I bought of 2002 releases I’ve enjoyed. As this was peak in my interest of Asian Cinema and beyond, even most of the foreign releases I saw are much close to love than hate. Most of the obvious picks from this year I have continued to avoid, so they won’t make my list.

Chicago

Our requisite crappy musical of the year, I’m aggravated by this one more than others because it was the first big studio backed, star-studded, successfully musical in years and it encouraged every twat in Hollywood to proclaim the return of film’s most needless genre. Almost every box for ‘Nightman Won’t Like This’ is ticked – it’s a musical, the music is jazz-based, it’s set in the 1930s, and it stars a trio of performers I’ve never given a shit about. There is absolutely zero in this film which appeals to me in any way whatsoever.

Deathwatch

A horror movie set in the trenches – sign me up. Now, I’ve still only seen this once, at release on the big screen, and part of me wants to watch it again to see if it’s as bad as I remember. I remember finding it grimy and grim enough, and slowly makes its way towards a twist ending we all saw coming. It was a case then of a great idea (which has since been done better and worse in other films) done badly, too rambling, too visually bland and dark, but I do plan on watching it again to see if it has improved with age.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding

The less said about this, the better. It has gradually been forgotten over time and I certainly don’t want to get people talking about it again – let it rot. It is a prime example of how shitty most romantic comedies – studio backed, indie, or otherwise, always are, with hackneyed ideas and ideals, clumsy unrealistic women, and even more unrealistic Prince Charming types wading their way through shmaltzy, earthy dialogue and badly performed low grade slapstick.

About A Boy

You can be almost certain that if there’s a British Hugh Grant film in any given year, it’s going to make my list. As is generally the case with these, there’s a bunch of hateful characters you wouldn’t waste a knife on stabbing, placed in some stupid situation, and they all live happily ever after. Never darken my door again.

Windtalkers

By and large I’ve loved everything John Woo has ever made. Several of his films make my Favourites lists, including some of his US made movies. Windtalkers had so much potential, including a cast of people I respect, a large budget, and the scope of the WWII told from a different perspective. Sadly, it just doesn’t feel like a John Woo movie – his trademark beats and style is all but omitted and the film is strangely bland – visually, emotionally, across the board. I wouldn’t go so far as calling it a bad film, but somewhere along the line whatever the film should have been faded away and what remained was a by the numbers war flick with good intentions.

Halloween Resurrection

I only watched this movie recently, having long since stopped caring about the Halloween franchise (original, 2, 4, and 5 are the only movies from the original series you need to see). I actually don’t mind the central idea behind the film – cashing in on the Most Haunted pre-found footage, Reality TV crazes of the time. My problem is – why is it a Halloween movie? It may have been better without the Myers name and myth attached. However, Myers is cellotaped into the film, back from the dead once more, and the cast is one of the more annoying in Slasher history although credit for bringing a unique cast to things. Beyond the TV/hidden camera premise, which is used for all the 100% expected gags you smell coming and nothing more, it’s a standard slasher which attempts to take the genre back twenty years.

The Ring

They say that when it comes to this franchise – whichever one you see first is the one you prefer. That’s nonsense – the Japanese original is clearly the superior film in every respect. The remake, sure it has the big name cast, but it goes for cheap jump-scares rather than the gnawing trauma of Ringu. The famous finale of Ringu is one of the great moments in horror, but the remake essentially destroys this by constant cuts away and MTV editing. On top of that unforgivable mistake, the film adds ham-fisted attempts at explanation, Samara is the least creepy child outside of The Red Queen from Resident Evil rather than the inescapable force of vengeance that Sadako is, and there’s a whole tonne of crap about horses for some reason. Also, ‘the videotape’ is not creepy in the slightest – like a Christian Metal band trying to be Tool.

Die Another Day

The only current Bond movie to make my list, and I hope the only Bond movie to ever make such a list, Die Another Day is an abomination the likes of which should be chained in the attic and fed fish-heads twice a week. It’s not a Bond movie – it’s a Carry On movie with worse dialogue and CG effects which appeared to have been created on a Commodore 64.

Maid In Manhattan

It’s Jennifer Lopez, pretending to be poor and ugly. Nuff said.

Let us know in the comments which movies would make your list!

Nightman’s Least Favourite Movies Of 2003!

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We veer ever closer towards the tail-end of the Nineties with another batch of ill-advised films which either were not made for me, or which were made precisely for me but fell far from giving me the happies. It’s a nice balance of mainstream films and offbeat foreign films which fewer readers will be aware of.

Open Water

Open Water is one of those horror movies for people who don’t like horror movies. It’s also complete shit. I’m always on the look out for a good shark movie. I say ‘good’, but what I really mean is ‘a movie where a bunch of idiots are eaten’. Open Water takes a more realistic approach – it’s supposed to be more drama, more tragedy than horror, but the problem, or one of the problems is, that in a shitty shark movie at least we know they shitty characters are going to be picked off one by one. Here we have to watch them bob up and down for 90 minutes contemplating nothing before we fade to black. Every so often there’s a splash in the water, or a fin passes by. I get what they tried to do with this, to make us feel up and close the terror of being lost in the ocean and surrounded by sharks. But I felt nothing close to fear, or empathy, or caring for any of it. It failed to draw me in, and mostly I kept thinking how cool it would be to be in a film like this, to be out there in the ocean, swimming, and arsing about with sharks.

Calendar Girls

Every year or so Britain comes up with a piece of shit comedy which breaks through to the mainstream. Every one of them is terrible. This one exists and dies entirely on its premise – a bunch of old women get their baps out. If that’s your cup of tea, enjoy.

Dreamcatcher

Stephen King’s works don’t always translate well to film. Even some of the more simple stories don’t even work. When you have shit weasels, aliens, and King’s fondness for magic handicapped folks you have your work cut out to make anything out of it. I love King, and I’ll watch any of his adaptations. This is the worst of the bunch. Not Graveyard Shift, not any of the Children Of The Corn Movies, not Golden Years – this. Everybody involved drops several rungs in my ladder of estimation – Morgan Freeman, Jason Lee, Olyphant, Jane – some of whom are King regulars. But Damien Lewis… I don’t know what movie he thought he was in but if this had been the first thing he’s been in I guarantee it would be his only credit. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a worse performance in my life. The curious thing is, while the book is definitely a remake of IT in all but name (Pennywise even shows up at one point) you can see someone talented making a decent flick or mini-series out of it. It wouldn’t be amazing, but it might be entertaining enough for the low bar I’d set. This slithers far below that far and right up its own ass.

In The Cut

The movie which was billed as bringing back Meg Ryan, or finally showing what a powerhouse dramatic performer she could be. Really? Really? I’m sure can be fine, with the right material, but has she ever really been good? In anything? I’ll give her The Doors, in which she had little to do, and as ‘the woman’ in Top Gun, Inner Space, Armed And Dangerous, she’s adequate. Most known for terrible romantic comedies, this was a step out of the shadows for her, into something darker. And once again, she’s fine. It could have been anyone. The film is just another proceedural thriller with a slight saucy edge, but it’s more Indecent Behaviour than Basic Instinct. It’s hardly surprising with the overrated Jane Campion at the helm. Mark Ruffalo shows up too!

The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Or, The Avengers prequel. Or, the film so bad it ended Stephen Norrington and Sean Connery’s careers. Or, the film so bad Alan Moore refuses to acknowledge its existence. Or, the film so bad it belongs in an abandoned banshee’s naval. Or, the film so bad its mother ignores its phone calls. Or…. you get the idea.

Lost In Translation

I think this may have been the movie which prompted me to admit to myself that I didn’t really like Bill Murray. I still like plenty of his movies, and I still like him in them, but his shtick wears very thin very quickly for me. I feel about Lost In Translation the way people feel about The Godfather III. It’s well made, looks swell, it has a bunch of famous faces, but it’s as far from a pleasurable viewing experience as you can get without having someone talk to their mates on the phone throughout. It’s another example of me not getting the swelling of praise it received – it’s an anti-romantic comedy, except that it is a romantic comedy through and through, and as far as dramas go nothing of import or relevance happens. I get that’s half the point, but what I don’t get is why nobody else was left so uncaring by the end of it. It’s insulting, borderline racist, and like many comedies of this type I don’t think it garnered a single grin on my behalf. For stuff like this to work its magic on me, I have to like, or at least tolerate the people involved. I don’t. Why should I care about entitled, soulless harpies? I don’t care about them or about any of it, and for that reason it’s one more forgettable movie which could as easily have been made by a nobody rather than the child of a somebody, and starring people you’ve never heard of.

Love Actually

We didn’t just get one dodgy Brit Rom-Com this year – we got two! And shock of shocks, they’re both drivel. Perhaps the worst slight this film caused the public at large is that it’s going to continue to be shoved down our throats every Christmas. There are boundless amounts of fantastic British comedy just waiting to be discovered worldwide, but it’s shite like this which we are fraudulently known for.

Once Upon A Time In Mexico

El Mariachi was great. Desperado is fantastic. This final part in the trilogy is depressingly poor. Rodriguez films follow a very simple pattern – the less money he has, the better the movie is. This should have been a no brainer, continuing the adventures of Banderas and Hayak, but it brings in a host of new characters who take the focus away from the characters we actually give a shit about, and they drop much of the action and wit which made the first two kinetic delights. The film is worth it for one thing only – the Mexican or Mexican’t line – and that’s not even that funny.

Save The Green Planet!

Another film I was dearly looking forward to after loving Shin Ha-kyun in Sympathy For Mr Vengeance, this film is worth watching just because it’s almost impossible to describe. Right up my alley in terms of all encompassing weirdness, it does take a darker turn towards the end but unfortunately by that point I’d mostly tuned out. It’s another case of me getting hyped up and ultimately being disappointed. I still like it and revisit it, and it still makes me laugh and cringe – it’s really good, unique, but I’ve no idea how I could recommend it to or how to sell it. Just the sheer amount of wonderful stuff coming from South Korea at this time meant that this one didn’t measure up when I thought it would.

Battle Royale 2

If we’re going to talk about hype and disappointment, then BR2 has to top my list. Considering the first film remains my favourite movie of the last twenty years, its sequel had a lot to live up to, When visionary director Kinji Fukasaku died mid-filming, my doubts began to creep in. I was already skeptical about a sequel in the first place but given my love for the first one, surely the second couldn’t truly be bad. It’s not. It’s not bad at all. But it is more bloated, less action packed, not as funny, more of a dig at American politics and culture than Japanese, and it dispenses with much of the heart and innocence of the first. Crucially, it shoves the heroes of the first movie into the background and instead we get a more faceless batch of kids and adults, topped off by Riki Takeuchi – never one for subtlety but here dialed up to fifty seven. It’s not afraid to court controversy – it’s opening scene depicting the annihilation of ‘twin towers’ if you will, and placing the viewer alongside the terrorists, and ending with our protagonists fleeing to Afghanistan… it’s trying to say something potent but doesn’t really know how. The tension is certainly lacking and its best moments are when the people we actually paid to see show up. I just wish they had have gone in a completely different direction with the story.

Let us know in the comments your take on the movies above, and which films of 2003 would make your list!

Nightman’s Least Favourite Movies Of 2004!

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This year was a whopper for seeing films which either pissed me off or let me down. SO much so that I have a few dishonourable mentions to get through first. Troy was the latest in the mini battle-epic trend which erupted in the wake of LOTR. It’s not a bad film by any means, but given that the books the movie is based on are the single greatest pieces of written art in history… it kind of deserved better. If you’re going to adapt The Illiad in a single film then you’re not going to get much better than this, but that’s precisely the problem – that book deserves a trilogy, connected to a trilogy for The Aeneid and The Odyssey. Do it like LOTR did things, and you’ll have some of the best movies ever made. The Notebook is one of those Nicholas Sparks things – you know, soppy romances for soppy humans – someone always has a rare disease, the characters are always cardboard cut outs – you know the deal. It’s the same as all the others. King Arthur is the movie I confuse Robin Hood with. Any of the Robin Hood’s actually. I think Keira Knightly was in this one. A classic story with an engaging mythology and room for plenty and ripe for a fitting adventure story boiled down to a Cockney night out.

Sideways takes a bunch of irritating twats you’d be praised for stabbing in real life, played by performers I don’t care about made by a Director who is yet to have made a single thing I’ve liked. Actually, Nebraska was fine. Casshern is a movie I used to make people watch just because how damn cool it looked back in the day. There wasn’t really anything like it. But it’s completely incomprehensible. It would be, presumably, like showing someone the sixth Harry Potter movie when they haven’t seen any of the others, or read the books, or speak English. I’m not sure whether it should be on my favourites list or this one. Alfie is a badly cast, ill-advised remake. The first worked because of 60s culture. The Noughties were a cultural void and London hasn’t been relevant in decades – moving the action to New York they should have just cast a native. Jude Law… Jude Law has looked human in precisely two movies, and ironically in one of those he was a vampire. The Wisdom Of Crocodiles and The Talented Mr Ripley. Every other movie who sort of looks like an emaciated squirrel. Izo was a Takashi Miike film I looked forward to – the synopsis of which (which may be the greatest of all time) is simply that a lethal killer goes back in time for the express purpose of killing, well, everyone. That’s the film. Like Casshern, I’m not sure if it should be on this list or on my actual favourites – it has a ridiculous cast, but there is almost no plot, the violence is over the top yet after a while it loses whatever made it amusing in the first place, it’s epic but way too long – all in all I was disappointed. Now lets move onto the top ten.

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

This is the one which most people who watch movies, fancy themselves a critic, or pass by my blog will shout about. It has pedigree from top to bottom in the cast and the crew. The performances are really the only thing going for it in my mind, with people being ‘shocked’ Carrey could do serious stuff even though he already had. But it’s just another one of those manic pixie dream girl movies, with Kate Winslet not being best suited to such ideals. Michael Gondry’s visual style and general movies are not things I’m a big fan of and it all comes across as too cutesy and twee, no matter how much soap-lite tragedy is plastered all over it. Add in a Charlie Kaufman script, whose stuff always sounds more interesting to me than it ever ends up being, and who almost never makes me care about any of the characters and we have a film with a good idea which doesn’t scratch any of my itches. It’s Total Recall, but without the violence and with only two breasts.

The Chronicles Of Riddick

I saw Pitch Black on release night and loved it. As a big Farscape fan at the time, it was cool to see Claudia Black on the big screen, and as a sci-fi horror dude it was great seeing a new voice hitting the scene. It seemed like a cult hit in the waiting and felt like it would make the careers of several of those involved. While it didn’t quite turn out that way, it still led to a couple of belated sequels. This first sequel, is a turd. The first film was simplicity tied up in a complex world. Alien feels complex when it is simply a story of cat and mouse – Pitch Black works so well because it played the same trick. The Chronicles Of Riddick adds layer upon layer of new faces, mythology, and useless plot, and in the end it feels less like a film, more like a visual glossary for study purposes.

Resident Evil: Apocalypse

Back when the first Resident Evil was released, I was a fan of the games. RE 2 was my favourite and while the first movie was ultimately a let down and only related to the games in the most surface way, I was still keen to see more. That has always been my history with the movie series to be honest – thinking that maybe they’ll get it right with the next one. Apocalypse is the worst of the bunch, largely due to the terrible, truly awful, direction by Alexander Witt. It’s an ugly, ugly film, the action is distorted to be unrecognizable, and the story – not that it matters much – descends so far into convoluted guff that the series never recovered. At least the later films had fun buying into how ridiculous it all was. Uwe Boll wishes he made a film this bad.

Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason

As if the first one was bad enough, shit enabling, fake plastic people trip-trapping from one quirky mishap to the next, we knew there would have to be a sequel. It’s more of the same really, but even more predictable. More worthless characters, terrible dialogue straight from the quill of a Carrie Bradshaw fan-fiction wannabee, and poncey hair whose sole purpose seems to be to encourage terror attacks on London.

Closer

Billed as a return to form for Mike Nichols, it certainly seemed that way when he brought together a decent cast and garnered positive reviews. When I first heard about it I was more interested in the Natalie Portman pole-dancing stuff. Alas, when I got around to seeing it there was little of the spark of Nichols’ earlier work. Instead we got a cold, grey, depressing look at relationships in the 21st Century where no-one is ever happy and everyone wants to be somebody else, but fails to say anything insightful about such a state of existence. The only notable point worth bringing up with regards to the script is the amount of swearing as it seeks to rival motherfucking Goodfellas, but the characters are faux-articulate walking lungs, mindlessly wandering through life just like a used condom traverses a swamp.

Blade Trinity

Also known as Blade: Ryan Reynolds Is A Twat.

9 Songs

There were some positive movements in British music in the early Noughties. None of those are used in this turd. Modern Britain’s answer to, well Confessions Of A Window Cleaner, it’s a series of kind of explicit sex scenes between two of the least screen-friendly performers you’d want to see getting their kit off and having their respective parts sucked. It’s empty and vapid and without merit as a narrative, the music is shit, and you can’t even wank to it because everyone is so ugly.

Ab-Normal Beauty

Ever since first catching Bangkok Dangerous and proclaiming it as one of the greatest films of all time, I’ve tried to catch everything the Pang Brothers have made – together or on their own. That has led me to crap like this – another good idea let down by too much plot, too many misguided attempts at artistry, and by making little sense. This one is about a conflicted, complex woman who becomes obsessed with death after seeing and photographing a car crash. It makes the list because not a lot happens, it’s difficult to find any point to it all, and it’s such a letdown when we know what the brothers are capable of.

Survive Style + 5

Did I get this free on Amazon? I think I did, otherwise I’d be horrified that I paid for it. In fact I’ve probably reviewed here on the blog. I know a lot of the Japanese stuff I watch is incomprehensible without actually being Japanese (I’m speaking from a cultural standpoint), but this is on another level – as well as simply being crap. Going back to it, it has its moments – the great Tadanobu Asano features in one segment, his is probably the most interesting one as he repeatedly kills his wife only for her to keep coming back. The stories loosely intertwine but it’s messy and manic, and beyond scratching that itch for some offbeat Japanese weirdness, it doesn’t offer much.

Let us know in the comments which movies would make your list!

Nightman’s Least Favourite Movies Of 2005!

I seem to have a habit of identifying movies that either you guys love or which were genuine critical hits but did little more than rupture my spleen with apathy. Lets see if this year is any different.

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Constantine

Keanu Reeves was in a strange place after The Matrix series. Should he continue with another sci-fi action series, should he attempt ‘more legitimate’ roles, or should he do whatever the hell he wanted? With Constantine he was seemingly playing it safe – a starring role in an adaptation of a cult comic series known for guns and punching and kicking and good versus evil. I liked the look of this when it was announced because it seemed more akin to Blade than the usual all-powerful-caped flying-dude. The darker edge and religion and mythology blend all spoke to me. In execution though it was another incoherent mess which made Reeves look bland and made the subject material look like the mangled angst ridden pages of a 14 year old’s notebook. Most importantly it is among the most boring comic book movies, with lethargic action, uneventful plot, and a more bland visual palette than a tobacco spit on a blank wall.

The League Of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse

When The League Of Gentlemen first dropped on BBC in the late 90s, I proclaimed it as the greatest ‘sitcom’ in the world – its clever blend of dark humour, horror, one-liners, and bizarre character creations was a revelation to me. Shortly after the show ended, a movie was announced and while I was happy I knew there was no way it was going to be good. I had zero reservations about the four men who made up The League in terms of writing, directing, and performing, but I knew that no British comedy had ever translated well to the big screen. There’s little beyond the central idea here that works – the series works so well because it blends a variety of interlinking plots with a huge cast over six episodes, while the movie has 90 minutes to pack in all of our favourites characters while acting as a standalone and a sequel, all while being meta. I feared this could have been the end of the lads, but thankfully they have each gone one to even greater successes, whether that be Psychoville, Inside Number 9, or even Benidorm. 

The Island

Has Michael Bay ever made a good movie? He has – The Rock is excellent. Hell, the first two Bad Boys are decent. But absolutely everything since has been shite. This may be his worst. It doesn’t even have the dignity of being overblown or fixated on giganto-splosions. It’s one of the most ill-conceived, tepid sci-fi movies I’ve ever seen. It’s worse, much worse, than Battlefield Earth. And look at that cast – it’s great! Bay brings together legit performers and makes a story which amount to ‘store mannequins must walk from here to over there, while other shit happens’. It’s like everyone involved took a pile of sleeping pills and drooled this onto the screen.

Domino

The great Tony Scott has made some of my all time favourite films. But he also made Domino, one of the most legitimately terrible movies of the decade. Capitalizing on the return of Mickey Rourke and whatever it is Keira Knightly was supposed to bring to the table, it tells the very loosely truth based tale of Domino Harvey – model, daughter of actor Lawrence Harvey, who inexplicably decides to become a bounty hunter. Although bounty hunter here feels more like space age mercenary, but whatever. Richard Darko Kelly writes a script which makes less sense that his one about giant time travelling rabbits, and Scott films it as if the sun is permanently in our eyes and his. When it’s not blinding, its unremittingly grimy making it on of the most visually unappealing movies of the year too – it doesn’t even have the dignity to entertain on even the most base level.

Aeon Flux

I somehow bagged a poster for Aeon Flux even though I never saw the film on the big screen. Presumably I picked it up after leaving a screening for something else. I almost feel dirty now admitting I had it up on my bedroom wall – firstly because I hadn’t seen it, and secondly because once I did finally see it I knew only an idiot would emblazon their personal space with such a piece of crap. I’d be hard pressed to tell you what the film is about or anything that happened at all. All I remember is gradually pulling my eyes further down my face as I leaned forward not believing how something made by such talented people could be so bad. Theron is a great actor, Kusama is a terrific director, but this was just dull to the extent that Chess Players watch it to calm down between bouts.

Brokeback Mountain

I dearly wanted to love this film, if for no greater reason to piss off all the homophobes. But it’s just not good. Maybe if I understood more than 30% of the dialogue I would get it – but given that the accents are so thick and the words so mumblecore I honestly would have understood it as much if it had been filmed in Japanese and I watched with no subs. On top of that the sound mix is terrible so in those rare moments when I can understand what is being said, it’s too soft to make out. I just don’t get it. Maybe as a result of all of this, maybe not, it comes across as a sad story where I don’t really care about anyone involved, certainly not the men of the piece, and whatever emotion or heart there is supposed to be falls on, literally, deaf ears. There are some nice shots of the countryside, I guess, but I can get those by turning my head 20 degrees to where there is a large window – plus I don’t even have to pay for it!

Pride And Prejudice

I don’t know what it is – some classic novels which I enjoy never translate to screen for me. There’s a bizarre flip side – I don’t get how every adaptation of Little Women can be wonderful, yet the book is utter wank. Costume dramas, period dramas, whatever you call them, whether on TV or on the big screen are anathema to me. I get the amount of work which has gone into the making of the thing, but almost every single one feel more like an excuse to play dress up rather than tell a story, and there is never an ounce of authenticity to whatever parlour games or social claptrap the plot amounts to. The plot almost never matters to me – I could be watching Pride And Prejudice, or The Lion In Winter, or Downton Abbey. These films are not for me and I’d much prefer to stick with the book.

King Kong

I quite like King Kong. It’s just so fucking long. How many 360 degree shots of the big lad punching his chest do we really need to see? Shave an hour off this and it could be a decent action romp with enough spectacle to compare it to previous entries. It’s strange, because I’d happily take an extra hour on each of the LOTR films. Jackson could do whatever the hell he wanted after LOTR – this is proof that maybe we shouldn’t give people complete creative control and billions of millions of dollars.

Munich

I don’t know why I didn’t enjoy this. It’s Spielberg. It’s war. There just aren’t that many latter day Spielberg films I have enjoyed. This bored me, didn’t affect me in any way. The images passed through my eyes in the same hollow way as if I had instead seen an advert for mis-sold PPI.

Monster In Law

It’s another of those comedies that I don’t understand how it was ever made. I much prefer Lopez as an actor than a singer, but she’s never particularly good. Especially when she plays roles like this which go against everything we know of her being a pretty shitty human in real life. There’s one joke here – a old rich woman doesn’t like a young poor woman. Hijinks. Or, more accurately, nojinks follow.

Let us know in the comments which films of 2005 you would include in your list!

Nightman’s Least Favourite Movies Of 2006!

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Welcome back. No doubt there will be some turkeys this year, and probably a few bad movies. Lets see what I picked.

Nanny McPhee

This was one of those films which rubbed me wrong (and not in a good way) from the beginning. The title, the cast, the trailer, it was something I convinced myself I would never like, and hopefully never see. These sorts of British comedies fill me with bile and it reminded me, obviously, of Mary Poppins, which I can’t stand. But wouldn’t you know, once the kids come along you inevitably get pulled into watching stuff like this, especially when my wife keeps telling me the kids can’t watch Robocop. In all fairness it wasn’t as bad as I was anticipating and it’s perfectly fine for kids. There wasn’t as much singing and polite ‘humour’ as I had feared would be there, but it’s not as inventive or interesting as it thinks it is. So this makes the list purely for being one of those movies I will never like, but kids might enjoy it. Not as much as they would enjoy Robocop.

Ultraviolet

On paper it seemed like a no-brainer; Milla Johovich, vampires, tight clothes, guns – it was basically Underworld. Unfortunately it doesn’t make a lick of sense and it lacks a single cell of the style of Kate Beckinsale’s vamp slaying series. When it comes to crap like this, I’m not hard to please – hot woman killing monsters – go! Not everything can be elevated to Buffy levels but it’s not difficult to knock out a better than average brainless action flick. It has been highly publicized that director Kurt Wimmer and Johovich were blocked out of several aspects of the movie which goes some way to explaining what a complete mess this is. Wimmer went from the pretty great Equilibrium to this – and hasn’t directed a movie since.

V For Vendetta

What a load of egotistical tosh. A film with so many words but absolutely nothing to say, preaching in the echo chamber of basement dwelling fanboys and faux anarchists whose idea of rebellion is celebrating when the train conductor forgets to check them for a ticket and they get away scot-free. A film which unleashed a bunch of teenage freedom fighters so brave they fight behind a mask and a screen. It’s a film with a message so bland that any extremist from any angle can hold it as sacred. It’s the politics of entitled suburbia, or in truth it’s politics for profit – just like every politician you claim to despise. If these people were in charge of a Revolution, I’d want to be on the other side. Plus it’s almost as incoherent and drab as Ultraviolet. Almost. Do a faithful retelling of Moore’s work, then we might have something worthwhile. Sadly it’s one I was hyped for – it looked great from early pics, it features Natalie Portman, it…. had cool masks. Pull the mask off and you have little more than misguided nihilism and a generic story about a fight against a totalitarian state. It’s a film I wanted to love, but it just made it so damn hard, like a dog who keeps shitting in your shoes. While wearing a mask which clearly makes it look like an idiot.

X-Men The Last Stand

Bryan Singer made two of the best comic book movies ever in his first two X-Men flicks. He stepped down for part three, and it all fell apart. Brett Ratner, whose career remains a mystery to anyone who has ever seen a film or been near another human, took over, slapped a helmet on Vinnie Jones and let him headbutt doors. You take the well established characters and their relationships, piss all over them, kill most of them off, and ignore the series’ own mythology. And lo, what was left was the worst comic book movie since Superman IV: Nuclear Dude. 

Superman Returns

Singer dropped from X-Men for Superman. Back then, when I cared more about such things, I was hyped. Then I watched it and eehhhhhhhh. I guess Routh looks good in a cape. Eva Marie Saint’s in it. Kevin Spacey is Kevin Spacey, pretending to be Lex Luthor – and Luthor has never looked so tame. Does anyone remember what happened in the film? Something about Lois being pissed off that Superman flew away? Then stuff blows up? It never made me care and I have no interest in revisiting.

Dead Man’s Chest

Black Pearl was one of the most fun adventures for years – unique and with a great cast, pace, and plenty of thrilling action. Dead Man’s Chest, like all of the sequels, should really be called Pirates Of The Caribbean: Which One’s This Again? Guys, it’s a movie based off a rollercoaster – the original had a simple plot. By the time this rolled around it ballooned into one of the most needlessly convoluted plots you’ve ever had the displeasure of not giving a fuck about, the amount of retcons is ridiculous, and the cast clearly don’t want to be there. It looks good though. Like boobs.

Little Miss Sunshine

I picked this up as part of some buy 5 DVDs for x quid in an Xtravision closing sale shortly after this was released because my wife ‘had heard it was good’. Now, movie fan that I am, I knew it had been an Indie critical darling and had one or two names in the cast I enjoyed. Maybe it was the hype, maybe it was all the awards and praise it had received, but when I watched this – with a completely straight face growing more dour with every passing minute – I wondered how much the filmmakers had paid The Academy to get all those glowing reviews. I don’t get why this is a comedy. Comedies, even when they’re bad, have jokes, wit, something. This has a bunch of twats in a van and then one of them dances and it’s over. My wife, who would be more inclined towards this sort of thing shifted in her seat uncomfortably when it ended, looked at me, and said ‘sorry’. Making me watch this, she knew, was the equivalent of cheating, and she felt just as guilty as if I’d caught her in bed with the postman.

The Black Dahlia

American Crime novels getting a glossy, gritty big screen adaptation generally leads to great results. The Black Dahlia is a personal favourite novel and Brian De Palma seemed like a strong choice for helming the violent, twisting tale. I don’t know where this went wrong – the lead characters of Bucky and Lee don’t feel right, and the narrative – already fairly complex – shoots off in meaningless directions without ever being tied up. Turns out the film had around an hour cut from it, hence the puddle of chaos we’re left with. It looks the part, at times, but what should have been a worthy successor to LA Confidential feels more like a bad Chinese translation of an episode of Police Squad – without the laughs.

Babel

I loved Amores Perros when it was released. I kind of liked 21 Grams. I was bemused by Babel moreso by the praise it garnered than how plain the film was. It’s certainly well-edited and directed and Brad Pitt is better than he’d ever been (he’s best when he’s not trying to play an outlandish character), but Jeebus you’d think there’d never been a film before following different characters and narratives which, shock, are actually tied together. The Morocco piece is the only section worth watching, everything else feels incredibly tacked on – we know early on that that’s the narrative and all the rest is dressing. It’s a shame then that the characters of Richard and Susan, are kind of dicks. The supporting actress Oscar nods here are complete mysteries, but at least Inarritu got back on track shortly after this.

Dreamgirls

My almost yearly musical pick, Dreamgirls features a fantastic Eddie Murphy acting rings round a bunch of nobodies. If there was ever a mainstream, big budget musical I was going to enjoy, it was going to be this, given that it focuses on actual decent music – not something musicals ever do. Sadly, it stains the Motown style with modern day hacks and their sensibilities, completely stomping all over everything which made Motown worthwhile. With less emotion and complexity than my left bollock, it’s yet another self-serving story which confuses character with costume, performance with camp, and soul with glitter.

Another year in the sack, and another list of films which I know some hold dear. For me though, they represent both the worst, the most disappointing, or the most undeserving of praise when there were many more movies which you should be talking about. Let us know your picks in the comments!

Nightman’s Least Favourite Movies Of 2007!

So 2007 saw me struggle to pick ten movies I genuinely loved – I wonder if I will also struggle to find ten films I was truly disappointed by or thoroughly disliked.

Spiderman 3

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy Spiderman 3 – it’s just that the previous Raimi movies were so much better that this always felt like a let down. We all know the memes, we all know the story which throws too many bad guys on the screen, and we all know that the film has been ridiculed ever since. It’s fine, it just loses the core heart from the previous films by having less focus on Kirsten and Tobey, and by making The Sandman a non-entity. In other words, this is a tough year for me to find 10 films worthy of appearing on this list.

Black Sheep

It’s New Zealand and comedy gore. It’s zombie sheep. There’s no reason on Earth why I shouldn’t love this. But for whatever reason, I sat there shaking my head throughout, wishing it had the magic of an early Peter Jackson monstrosity. I saw this in the Cinema while my wife was at a Rod Stewart concert – make of that what you will. It’s just a silly tale about zombie sheep killing a bunch of annoying New Zealanders, and it’s not as much fun as that sounds. Still, I’d pick that over seeing Rod Stewart.

Live Free And Die Hard

Another sequel, and another film which I didn’t dislike as much as others seemed to. It’s just that it became indistinguishable from any other action movie. Willis seems tired, kicking off this latter portion of his career where he doesn’t give a shit. The Die Hard movies were always great precisely because they stood out from other straight action movies – they had a wisecracking charm and they were inventive. This is just a perfectly serviceable action movie in need of an injection of what made the first (and third) movies so great.

The Invasion

I so dearly wanted to love this – the fact that I didn’t is probably why it’s on this list. Honestly, the original idea behind The Invasion Of The Body Snatchers should be the gift that keeps on giving. The first three movies adapted from the book – the 1950s, 70s, and 90s versions each appeared in my Top Ten movies of their respective years. I love them all. There’s just so much that can be done with the idea of a creature taking your face and slowly taking your town – in today’s political climate I shouldn’t need to spell out how powerful, and how good a Body Snatchers movie could be. The Invasion even has a great cast. It’s just so beige – there is no emotional connection, little tension, the stakes feel low. Watching it you feel like one of the clones – staring at a series of sounds and images which mean nothing to you. Hell, I even still sort of enjoyed it, but just kept wishing it was more.

Into The Wild

A movie which celebrates the life of an idiot. It’s certainly well made, it looks gorgeous, and it has a decent soundtrack. Decent cast do good work, but man it’s one of those movies you always find on people’s ‘most underrated lists’ or on those clickbait ‘most amazing movies we guarantee you’ve NEVER seen’ sites. It’s just an okay drama in which not a lot happens, and we get to watch a privileged asshole ruin his life and emotionally destroy his family, all because he wanted to ‘find himself’. It’s your standard white-boy gap year bullshit which takes a tragic turn because the dude believed he was untouchable.

Atonement

This film has a lot to answer for. It was one of the first to slap Keira Knightly into the typecast period drama mire she has found herself in ever since, it brought us Saiorse Ronan who has yet to make a film I’ve fully enjoyed, and it was so overrated to balloon proportions that people still hold it up as a masterpiece. It was never a masterpiece, it’s another film which focuses on people you would choke while simultaneously holding underwater, and is more generic than Stabby Joe Part VI: Stabby’s Back. The only thing going for it is that, admittedly breathtaking, landing one shot. Beyond that it’s just vapid, emotionless pap – an episode of Downton Abbey blown up for the big screen. It was Joe Wright’s breakout – he’s yet to make a film I’ve liked.

I Am Legend

We’ll get this out of the way – I liked I Am Legend. It’s not on the list because I think it’s a bad movie. Well, the CG is routinely awful but that’s to be expected. It’s on the list because I Am Legend is my favourite book of all time. It is legitimately one of the most important books ever written, not purely because without it there would be little to no of what we know as Horror Cinema and Fiction today, but because it’s an extraordinary piece of work which hasn’t aged a day since the 1950s, one which takes its subject matter seriously, and is both emotionally devastating and prescient. It deserves, not just a good film, but a great film. What we get instead is a Will Smith action vehicle, light on scares, on heart, and while it has been praised for it’s depiction of a post apocalyptic world, it really doesn’t come close to Matheson’s original vision. I’ve enjoyed every version of his book that I’ve seen on screen, but I suspect every one is going to disappoint me.

A bland year all round for me, with little to recommend or remember. 2007 is frequently heralded as one of the best years in Cinema history, but for me it is decidedly meh. Of course there’s still a bunch of movies I haven’t seen, from Critical darlings, commercial smashes, and little known potential gems so if I ever revisit this list in the future, it may look different. For now though, let me know in the comments if you agree about any of the films I’ve included, or if any of the above are your personal favourites!