January 1, 2010

Worst Movies of 2009

If you see enough movies, this list is much easier to compile than the best of list. Bad movies stand out like a sore thumb. I am not talking about the so bad their good sort of bad movies, but the so bad they scar your brain type of bad movies. Movies that you would rather stick hot pokers in your eyes than watch again. Still, I feel compelled to share some of these movies with you.

The one thing I do not want to do is convince you not to see any of these films if you are interested in seeing them or stop you if you already had plans on seeing them. I do not regret any of the films I have seen, good or bad. You see, every film will add to your experience, give you more to think about, more to write about, and an added dimension that will inform your tastes. It is much more than just a bad movie.

Now, if you have seen these films, you probably already know what I am talking about.

1. The Informers. This is a shallow film about shallow characters with a proposed purpose of indicting the shallow culture excess of Los Angeles in the early 1980s. Instead it falls victim to that which it seeks to attack, becoming a shallow exercise with nothing to offer. Somewhere along the way it lost its way: a film in search of a purpose. This disturbing lack of content leaves the audience adrift in a sea of emptiness,desperately looking for a life preserver and finding nothing. It is rare that I will openly despise a film, but this one did. Still, if you think you are up to it, give it a shot. Perhaps you will see something I do not.

2. The Collector. This film from the team behind the last few Saw films comes this exercise in tedium. It has a decent gore level, but it does not make up for the nonsense wrapped around it. It plays out as if it were compiled from traps that did not make the cut or Saw. Some masked guy with wacky eyes goes to a home, tortures whoever happens to be there and for some unknown reason sets up traps around the rest of the house. Our "hero" stumbles in and proceeds to trip everyone of them. None of the motivations make sense, the characters are bad, and it is a waste of gore.

3. Land of the Lost. I wanted to like this movie. The property is a good one for adapting to the big screen. It also seemed like a good one to reinvent, update, and make fresh for a new era. The problem is that there are some things that it needed to be and it failed to do that. You have to remember that the show was for the young. Yes, it needed to be updated somewhat for an older crowd, but it still needs that childlike wonder. The minds behind this reinvention decided to bring in a lot of sexual innuendo and fluid humor. I understand this was to play to star Will Ferrell's strengths, but this is a bit much. It is not funny, it is not adventurous, and it does not work.

4. The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard. They start with a bad title and then proceed to put all the funniest bits in the trailer. The cast is fantastic but that is as far as it goes. By all accounts, this movie should have been hilarious. The trailer was pretty funny, the red-band trailer was really funny, and despite the fact that I had no idea what the story was about, I thought this was a could-not-lose situation. That isn't to say I was expecting a classic film, but there was a lot to be hopeful for. The cast is peppered with familiar faces, and Jeremy Piven seems like the perfect guy to head it up. So, the question has to be asked: what went wrong? I went in looking for laughs and walked out bored and underwhelmed.

5. The Unborn. I wanted to like this movie. The trailer suggests a film that would have genuine scares and a plot that offers actual menace. The final film looks fine, but the tale is not all that interesting, and borderline nonsensical. The Unborn is a ghost story that feels like a remake of a Japanese horror film with a little bit of The Exorcist thrown in. Doesn't sound like a bad idea, does it? Sadly, once you get into it you realize there is nothing below the surface. It gets increasingly senseless and then brings in a character to explain everything. Gee, thanks.

6. Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li. Who thought it was a good idea to revive the franchise on the big screen behind Chun Li? Come on. We want the game's big guns! As you can see, I gave it a shot and barely survived the ordeal. All right, I give in. This just may be so bad it's good. It makes so little sense and seems to be so gleefully goofy about that you will not be able to tear yourself away. Just try and make sense of it all, be careful not to get a headache!

7. Armored. This movie gives the potential audience an easy decision on whether or not to see it. Watch the trailer, skip the movie. You get the same story and don't waste your time. It really is a shame. I feel that director Nimrod Antal is very talented, he just needs to find better material as Armored does not offer anything of interest. I guess everyone needs a paycheck.

8. The Stepfather. This is an utter bore. There is no reason to see this film. Yes, I knew going in, but what can I say? I am not sure I could defend seeing this movie. My best recommendation is to avoid it, but if you must see it, pay attention to Amber Heard and Dylan Walsh, the film's best assets. The movie is simply a cash in with no attempt made to be interesting on any level.

9. Fighting. When I walk into a movie called "Fighting," I expect, well, fighting. It has to do with truth in advertising. When you buy a Coke, you don't want to crack it open and taste ginger ale, nor do you go to a Pixar film and expect to see a horror movie. When I go to a movie centering on a fighter, I want fights. I want to see a flurry of flying fists, I want to see someone beaten to a pulp, I didn't get that here. Yes, there are a couple of fights, but nothing terribly impressive, and they're mostly cut to cover up lack of fighting skills (ironic, no?) on the actors' parts. Everything about the film is just really mediocre. This mediocrity extends to the performances, including those from leads Tatum and Howard. The best things about the film are the semi-realistic approach to the romantic subplot and the philosophical bent given to Howard's character. Neither can save it.

10. Amelia. This could have been fascinating. It barely raises itself to the pedestrian. Dull performances, slow pacing, and lack of an in-depth story all add up to a movie that is destined to go nowhere and ultimately suffer a fate similar to that of its central characters. Kind of sad, isn't it? There must be a fascinating story that could have been told. I wonder where it went off the rails?

Near Misses, films that are just the slightest step above the worst:

12 Rounds. Can you say Die Hard with a Vengeance? I knew you could. To top it off it comes from the director of Die Harder. I admit it has some moments of fun that throwback to the 80's, but still this is a pretty poor film.

Fast & Furious. While I was left cold, bored, and uninterested by the story, I did enjoy the racing action. You would have expected the reunion of the originals stars to be a touch more exciting.

Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian. I liked the first film and had hopes for this one. However the magic is gone, Stiller seems bored, and Amy Adams can only do so much.

Post Grad. Carol Burnett, Jane Lynch, Michael Keaton.... sounds good, right? Unfortunately they are wasted on a story centering on a couple of lame post-grads. This is sitcom fodder.

The Final Destination. I initially said this was better than the third entry. I may have been wrong. This is the most gimmicky of the 3D films and it is just cartoonishly bad.

All About Steve. The idea here could have been very interesting, but it is played so broadly that it fails to hit anything. The only thing worth watching here is Sandra Bullock and her antics.

Brothers. Not a bad movie but it is overly melodramatic and fails to make any emotional connection. On top of that, Tobey Maguire gives a pretty bad performance.

St. Trinian's. This movie just did not work for me. Sure, the zaniness had its moments of fun, but for the most part it felt aimless, long, and boring. The characters have no depth, the story never gains focus, and I just looked forward to it being over.

Next year I will try and be more selective in my viewing, thereby making this list a little tougher to make since the seen films will hopefully be of a higher overall quality.

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