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