2005: The 10 Worst

The good part about not being an official film critic is that I don’t have to watch every bad movie that comes out. But just because I avoided STEALTH, THE DUKES OF HAZZARD, BE COOL, BEWITCHED DEUCE BIGALOW: EUROPEAN GIGOLO and THE ADVENTURES OF SHARKBOY & LAVAGIRL IN 3D doesn’t mean I avoided crappy movies in 2005. Here are the 10 worst that I saw.
[I need to point out that I actually like horror films, even though five of them made this list.]

Unfortunately, there was no avoiding this disaster because FANTASTIC FOUR was my favorite comic as a kid (although watching this movie I no longer know why.) All hope of being good was buried the moment the studio hired the director of TAXI and BARBERSHOP, and he freely admitted in interviews that he was out of his element and aimed to make the film “family friendly” – which meant dumbed down with stale jokes. (How about watching THE INCREDIBLES, with heroes that share many of the same powers in a film that appeals to all ages.)

Even if you don't know directors, audiences must have raised a suspicious eyebrow when we meet the top geneticist in the field and the camera reveals Jessica Alba (in smart glasses, of course.) The Thing costume was so fake the only thing it was effective at was hiding Mike Chiklis’ embarrassment. Us fans deserved better.

If not for the presence of Felicity Huffman, and if she didn’t try so hard to do good work, I believe we’d never hear of the film TRANSAMERICA. This underwritten, terribly directed road movie pretends to be sympathetic towards its main character (a pre-op transsexual male) yet consistently makes fun of and degrades Huffman at every turn.

There’s a fine line between a brave performance and an actor being exploited, and this film weighs heavily into exploitation simply because they couldn’t find anything better or even original to do. The movie made me sad for Huffman, doing her best with no support system around her.

…and sleep. So much mood and no real jolts. (It seems to have been made for people who are terrified by water.) The past-cliché character of the creepy kid is given way, way too much screen time as the story drifts lazily from one potential plot to another, as if uncertain what it wants to be.

That being said, I have to point out that as I watched the film, and saw where it was heading, I couldn’t help but feel it was going to try for a big moment of maternal anger like in ALIENS. (“Get away from her you bitch!”) I turned to my friends and said, “Watch, this is gonna end with something like ‘I’m not your f**king mommy!’” I’ve never been more accurate at predicting the climax of a movie.

This still makes me mad. I’d been hearing about this film for months before it actually opened, about how scary it was. How tense. Plus the buzz was that the film was extremely well shot and edited with expert gore effects. The trailer was one of the best of the year, further raising my hopes.

As a friend of mine said, “I kept checking my pockets for tension, but never found any.” The movie that promised tension, was painfully slow, with endless shots of the killer walking, checking every nook and cranny. And the effects were laughable. A guy gets his head chopped/squished off clean and in one try by a dresser.

I haven’t mentioned the film’s big twist, mainly because I read a lot of reviews from people who were okay with the movie until that moment and then hated it. I wanted to let you all know that I hated this one pretty much from the beginning.

I’m actually a fan of Rob Zombie, so I don’t hate this film because I’m against extreme sex and violence. I just hate really bad filmmaking, especially really bad pretentious filmmaking. So many critics liked this movie (it even made 8 ’10 Best’ lists.), and I just don’t get it. Are we handing out awards now because Rob discovered the freeze frame, and likes to show his wife’s butt? (It’s a nice behind, but shows up so frequently and for no reason it could be its own drinking game.) Even the few talented actors often lose the battle of making Zombie’s overbaked words sound natural.

I get how a movie about thrill killers could be a dark, fun time. But there’s a certain moral line the filmmaker has to maintain for the audience to make us want to keep watching. (NATURAL BORN KILLERS, for all its other faults, kept us interested in Mickey & Mallory.) When Otis threatens a woman by sticking a large handgun into her underwear, that line is crossed. Zombie crosses the line again and again, daring to ask if we can take it. I can take it, but by being so romantically on the side of these louses, I didn’t care what happened to them. No surprise that the only thing about this film that works is the soundtrack.

Flat out, the dumbest movie of the year is about 30 minutes too long – the exposition in particular goes on forever – and full of howlingly bad moments. This is the kind of film that consistently defies logic and dumbs down a cast of mostly good actors as if using only their worst takes. (If you hadn’t seen Maria Bello in anything else, you’d think she was the worst actor in showbiz.)

Clocking in at a brisk 89 minutes (to accommodate more showings), this remake boiled down the previous crappy movie to its barest essentials. Each scene is cut together so tight, the attempted scares are given no suspense. The film just hits its beat and moves right on. There’s hardly any overall thread and scenes barely connect. Any character development was left on the cutting room floor. Melissa George lets her teeth do most of the acting and Ryan Reynolds is forced to go from everyman to crazy in the time it takes to sneeze. And for an everyman, his muscular abs (left over from BLADE 3) are just distracting.

Delayed for over a year, and reshot 3 times, I bet there’s a great story behind what went wrong here. SCREAM screenwriter Kevin Williamson practically started a bidding war with his revisionist take on the warewolf movie. The project ultimately went to the producers of SCREAM and that film’s director, horror master Wes Craven. So what went wrong, and why reshoot the film so many times that the end result just plays like every other bad horror movie?

At this point, I really think when I went to see JUNEBUG, the theatre showed me the wrong movie. The appeal of this highly acclaimed film completely eludes me, except for Amy Adams who nearly deserves the Oscar nod she’s certain to get. But this supposed realistic look at small town southern life often felt like one of David Lynch’s bizarre creations. (Somebody explain to me the painter and why anyone would be interested in owning his crap?)

It would be an understatement to simply call JUNEBUG slow. It’s incompetently, ineptly unedited. Scenes will begin on a blank frame, waiting for an actor or vehicle to enter, and then hold long after the actor/vehicle has left. One moment holds on a never-before-seen neighbor who walks away, AND THE CAMERA HANGS THERE, lingering on the empty frame after she leaves. This is one of the most torturously lengthy experiences I’ve ever had in a theatre.

What FANTASTIC FOUR is to X-MEN, drop down the same level of quality and you’ll land on ELEKTRA. In the film Jennifer Garner plays a super assassin who for personal reasons cannot kill an important target. She must now protect the target as an evil force sends other assassins after her. I mention the plot because it’s the exact same story as AEON FLUX.

I didn’t see AEON FLUX (I got a note from my doctor), but the parallels got me thinking. How ironic is it that two films, led by beautiful and talented females followed the exact same path, and mined the same amount of box office ($25 million)?

ELEKTRA plays like one of those movies that inspired to be dark and gritty, but got it wings clipped at every turn. The assassin life was toned down to a friendly PG-13 (Elektra’s victims often become green smoke instead of dying). The fight scenes are edited on the puree setting so you never get to see any brutal hits, and the super villains (Tatoo Man, Sir Speedy, Lesbian Greenery Killer) are a couple of laughable steps beyond silly.
I like Garner a lot, but she’s terrible here. After “Alias” and 13 GOING ON 30, I thought she was a megastar of unlimited talent, but ELEKTRA takes every opportunity to point out her limitations. (This film contains the year’s least convincing crying scene.) She always makes fearless choices and puts her trust completely in the hand of the director, but Rob Bowman completely betrays that trust.

I seriously believe this is not the film Bowman intended to make, and that more powerful producers meddled with many of his decisions. Still, there’s a lot of terrible filmmaking on display, especially some excruciating slo-mo. CATWOMAN was a more interesting bad movie to watch. At its best, ELEKTRA promises some laughably bad fun. Then it just keeps getting worse.


Post a Comment

<< Home