Here we go. Now, you might be asking why I’m starting with 2010. I’ve mentioned this before, but if you’re new around these here parts, I rarely watch films as they are released. I have more important things to do (like beat the world record for most sit-ups in a minute). But I get to them eventually. At time of writing – 29th December 2019 – I looked at the films released in 2018 and saw that I haven’t seen one of the top ten grossing movies. Not Infinity War, not Black Panther, not Incredibles 2, Fallen Kingdom, Aquaman, Bohemian Rhapsody, Venom, Fallout, Deadpool 2, or Fantastic Beasts. What a naughty movie boy I am! I’ll get to them, but only one or two jump out at me as something I’d actually want to see beyond mere obligation.
So rather than start in media decennium, I rounded down to 2010. I’ll work my way back to 1950 and then cover 2011-2019. One more note – I generally now avoid movies I don’t think I’ll like and a lot of the ultra low budget, amateur, and obviously crap films. I almost never enjoy ‘so bad it’s good’ stuff, unless I’m completely off my tits. In other words, my lists aren’t going to contain Sharkopter Vs Megacock or Fifty Shades Shittier.
Now, you may want to go back and read my original post about why I’m doing these lists. Remember, in most cases I don’t hate these films – they may have disappointed me because I was so hyped, they may have been forced upon me while I sat there dreaming about murdering every single person on screen, or they may be some bloated blockbuster with a huge budget but zero ambition beyond making more money – money which could have saved hundreds of lives had it been put into a different endeavour. Some of your favourite movies may be included. If you get salty – man up – opinions can’t hurt you. By all means go ahead and love your movie – doesn’t mean I will, doesn’t mean it should change how you feel about it. I’m just some guy, just like you.
Lets get onto the movies in 2010 which didn’t do it for me – these are in no particular order.
Alice In Wonderland
Weeew, what a mess. I’m torn between saying this looks good, imaginative, bright, or just uncanny valley terrible. When you throw this much money at a film, you’d better be sure it looks amazing. It’s a great start having Tim Burton in the Director’s Chair, as he’s one of Hollywood’s visual pioneers. Plus you get a terrific cast – it should have been spellbinding. But it’s just an incoherent mess. Just like the original text. I’ve never been a fan of Carroll’s story, I’m not so precious as to not call it out as a fraud. There are other, better works of fantasy fiction in a similar vein, and its a book whose moments and characters and ideas are better than their execution. The film can’t really be faulted for absorbing those flaws.
What it can be faulted for is its descent into unforgivable camp, for making otherwise good actors deliver cringe after cringe, and for further making Tim Burton look like just another big budget stooge with no clue how to build character, garner emotion, tell a story, or elicit anything from the audience other than a confused yawn.
For reasons far beyond me, this has popped up in a few year end and decade end lists of best, or most underrated horror movies lists. It’s neither of those things. It takes an… okay premise, and then turns the whole thing into Blade, if Blade was a Hallmark drama. They say the biggest sin a horror movie can commit is to not be scary. I’d go one further and say the greatest sin any movie can commit is to be boring. This is boring, it’s not scary, and it looks as drab as a Ken Loach film if he had a 1000 quid budget and a single cloakroom to film within. Years on, I struggle to recall anything which happened in the film beyond Sam Neill sitting behind a table.
The Wolfman never really had a shot. As far as classic monsters go, the werewolf has never really had a great horror film. Not the Universal Classics, nothing from Hammer – the best of the bunch, by some distance, needed to resort to comedy to make what should be an interesting character, well, interesting. Credit for retaining some sort of Gothic approach and for attempting to elevate the thing by throwing legitimate actors at a script written by someone more interested in forced romance than genuine trauma. It feels like nobody gives a shit, outside of an enthused, gloomy Del Toro. The problem is it’s laughably predictable even without seeing any other version of the story. You know exactly how the film will play out, and how it will end. Within the opening ten minutes, if you haven’t worked out precisely how the final minutes will go, this must be your first movie – congratulations on finally entering the world of Cinema, you must be excited to discover all of these wonderful new fangled movie things the kids have been talking about. It doesn’t even look that interesting, and Anthony Hopkins looks as if he is not only channeling Brian Blessed, but has swallowed him too. Go watch the 1941 version.
Martin Scorsese and horror – finally. How could it go wrong? It barely goes right. Every twist is signposted, every performance is ridiculous, and if you’ve ever seen, literally any movie set in an asylum, you know how this one will go. The film insults the audience by treating us like naive children, and it again commits those cardinal sins – it’s boring, it’s not scary. In its defence it claims to be a psychological thriller – a term people use when their film lacks the balls to be Horror. Perhaps most infuriating it made a crapload of money when there were a bunch of more deserving movies which passed unseen or under-praised.
A Nightmare On Elm Street
Wes Craven’s 1984 classic is my favourite horror movie of all time, and it’s a Top 5 for me regardless of genre. So I come in to any remake or sequel to these films with a bit of bias. However, I wasn’t as rabid as some who were anti-the film before it even got made and especially when they heard there would be no Craven involvement and no Englund as Freddy. I can’t say I was happy about it being remade as I always expected it to be crap, but that idea of a demonic entity stalking kids in their sleep is still one I find intriguing – with the right script, director, cast, there’s nothing stopping it from being good.
As expected, it’s not good. Props to everyone for trying something sort of different, and props to Jackie Earle for giving it a go, but it just doesn’t work – not as a Nightmare film, and not as a horror film. It’s nowhere near as inventive as it should be and doesn’t offer anything in the way of creative kills or use of the dream ‘space’ imaginatively. The script isn’t horrid, it’s just bland and like any number of remakes it tries to delve more into the character of the killer unnecessarily. Listen – it doesn’t matter who or what Freddy is, or any other killer for that matter. It wants to kill you. It has killed already. What the fuck are you going to do about it – that’s your film, or at least it should be.
While watching the film at the time, I kept thinking that it wasn’t as bad as the reviews had suggested and I wasn’t going to stoop to the same level as those somehow suggesting it tarnished the original. That didn’t stop it from also committing those Cardinal Sins once more – any ‘fear’ I felt in this was likely more jittery excitement at the possibility of Freddy showing up to fuck shit up. It’s not quite boring, it just feels like yet another slasher whereas the original flipped the genre on its head. I can’t remember a single kill or piece of dialogue from this movie so it would otherwise go on the to be forgotten pile. Because it has the name it does, it instead makes it onto the disappointed pile, and onto this list.
When I was typing up this list, all I could remember about the film was that Ridley Scott directed and Russel Crowe was in it. At some point since watching, this got confused in my head with King Arthur or whatever the hell that was called. It shouldn’t be difficult to be a Robin Hood movie – the story and characters and setting are all there, and it’s perfectly set up for adventure, romance, and an all round fun time. So why the hell, in the four or five versions we’ve had in the last twenty or so years has every single one got it so wrong? Prince Of Thieves is the definitive modern version, and while it’s far from perfect, it’s a hell of a lot of fun. This… this is something about beards? Men with beards? Someone dies and some other guy pretends to be him, and then it ends. Honestly, the day after seeing this I couldn’t have told you anything that had happened.
Scott Pilgrim Vs The World
I’m consistently bewildered by the love this film gets – popping up in many best of year and best of decade lists. I just don’t get it. It’s 100% hipster wank and feels like it was made by someone who has never played a videogame in their life. The Mario Bros movie is more authentic. It’s all so strange because I love everything else Edgar Wright has done. But it brings together a bunch of indie hipster performers and people I don’t generally rate to play 16 bit NPC-level humans cut in this generic music video style. There isn’t an ounce of originality in the script beyond the admittedly novel premise and I sat there watching it thinking ‘this is a seventy year old white guy’s idea of what a videogame looks like, after hearing about Pacman forty years earlier’. The fights, the stylized look, the colours, everything has been done better before and while it’s not the film’s fault, it pisses me off that people think this broke ground.
I don’t think I despised a movie more this decade to the point that even the clothes starting pissing me off. Honestly, I had a hard time finding a screenshot for the movie to include at the top of the post because looking at each one was making me more and more angry. But I wanted to feature that film as the featured image because I know how much everyone loves it – gotta get those clicks, bro!
Maybe it irked me so much because it’s so clearly aimed at someone like me, that it made me step back defensively and say ‘hold the fuck on – that’s what you think I am!? This is what the world sees me as!?’ It’s a film I should have loved, but it’s just an abhorrent shambles. Don’t get me started on the awful soundtrack either – if you have a film with performers as bland as Michael Cera, Anna Kendrick, and Jason Schwartzman, you just know the soundtrack is going to feature Beck. Throw in more failed Indie nobodies with less to say than Milli Vanilli and you have a film to watch the volume off.
After the first fight, you’ve seen all you need to. What the film doesn’t have the balls to say is that each and every character deserves to be pounded headfirst into a ? block before dropped down a pit with Game Over left on their blank tombstone.
Every so often, some wise-ass gets the great idea to bring the Musical back instead of letting it die and rot in the 1940s where it belongs. It’s a genre which simply doesn’t belong on screen anymore, unless you’re going to do something novel with it. Musicals on stage work – musicals on film don’t, and I can count the film musicals I tolerate (never mind enjoy) on one hand. Burlesque saw the bewildering success of Chicago and said ‘well, it’s been a few years, lets roll out the same shit again and see who falls for it this time’. It’s painful.
Once again in a musical we have a collection of songs that nobody who cares about music can honestly enjoy, once more it devolves into camp, and once more it delivers the promise of a story we’ve seen before played out by characters whose entire lives could fit under a child’s fingernail. When the primary purpose of your film is to showcase how well the human body can move in rhythmic time to a piece of music, you’ve failed as a film-maker. When the secondary purpose of your film is to show how well the human body looks in certain clothes, you have failed as a film-maker. While it should be fairly obvious that the Musical is not a genre I give two shits about, I can at least recognise when one is well-made versus one which isn’t. This is about as poor as the musical can get, with dialogue straight out of a instructional pamphlet written in Chinese and badly translated into English, and performances including Christina Aguilera’s – a wonderful showcase for her ability to wear make-up.
Hideo Nakata made one of my favourite movies of all time in Ringu. He has made some interesting films since then, none of which come remotely close to measuring up to that classic. Chatroom is a monstrosity arriving ten years too late and which seems even more outdated with each passing week. It’s a miracle that some of the cast members actually came out of this without the stench of shit following them. It makes next to no sense, it doesn’t understand its own script, and the actors seem to be in at least four different movies. How does the guy who did Ringu and Dark Water come out with something like this – a horror movie with zero attempt to build atmosphere and no scares? That’s an even bigger mystery than anything which happens in the film.
Rubber makes my list, not only because it’s a bad film, but because it thinks it’s more clever than it is, and because a bunch of people fell for it. It’s a movie about a killer tyre – that’s more than enough to get me handing over my ill-gotten cash, and that’s what I want to see. Instead we get ham-fisted meta and everything trick employed to pad out the running time to ensure it’s not a short. If you’re a horror fan and you’ve heard someone talking about this movie – don’t waste your time with it – it’s not as good, or bad, or interesting as it sounds.
There you have it – some controversial choices to be sure. Let me feel your wrath in the comments, and feel free to share your most hated/least favourite films of 2010 below!