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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!