Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Worst of 2013 So Far


Well, now that we've gotten the Ten Best Films of 2013 So Far, it is only fair to note those simply dreadful wastes of all our times and the film's production cast and crew.  That's right, now we go to the Ten Worst Films of 2013 So Far. 

Again, I have not seen every film in 2013 or seen all the ones I was sent.  As such, it is impossible to say whether such films as Movie 43 (and no, that isn't a sequel to 42 in case you were wondering) really was the Worst.  I only rank the films I have actually seen.  However, this list makes me wonder why I torture myself so.  Again, rankings are based on grades A to F, then a ranking among those with the same grade.  Finally, for the bad movies, I have a Would I Rather...Rule, as in, Would I rather watch Film A or Film B if I had to choose.  Sometimes the choice is so, so hard given how lousy some of these films were.  Sometimes, though, the answer is pretty clear. 

Num. 10

Perhaps Ryan Reynolds should stop accepting scripts based on comic books altogether (but given that he will be in the Deadpool spin-off film, that is not likely). R.I.P.D. is a horrid mishmash of other, better films (Ghostbusters, Men in Black) despite being based on an independent comic book series.  The performances went from flat (Reynolds) to wildly, perhaps deliberately over-the-top (Jeff Bridges apparently spoofing his Rooster Cogburn from True Grit).  A story both nonsensical and boring, effects that are loud and ugly, and just a sorry excuse of a movie that will never spawn a sequel.  I guess then we came out all right in the end.

Num. 9

The first of two failed young adult book series adaptations, Beautiful Creatures is yet more proof that a.) Twilight spawned things either as insipid or more so, and b.) Millennials really are stupid if they like reading trash like this.  Overboard in its portrayals of Southern folk as dumb hicks who think the Leonardo DiCaprio film is called Interception (I guess the South does love their football--Roll Tide) or Christian fanatics (as if there were any other type), the love story between a witch...excuse me, Caster, and a Mortal comes across as boring and even laughable (the spinning table scene will be among the most hilarious moments in a film that takes itself too seriously).  I liked the leads and hope this will be a blip in their careers, but people like Emma Thompson and Jeremy Irons (doing perhaps the worst Southern accents in cinema history) just embarrassed themselves and should have known better.  Other cast members like Thomas Mann and Viola Davis apparently just needed money.  I can't believe there will be more Beautiful films despite it being a series.  Then again, I couldn't believe we got another Percy Jackson film, so shows me.

Num. 8

No Johnny, we haven't forgotten your little art film about relations between Native Americans and Anglo settlers.  The Lone Ranger is a most cynical film, thinking that we would care to watch more big, loud, bombastic, overblown films with no story in them.  Big explosions and crude stereotypes (Depp's claims of Native American ancestry notwithstanding...I at least can claim Aztec ancestors, so top THAT, Johnny) don't make up for the fact that The Lone Ranger is a hopeless mess.  Far too long for the story it's not telling, never allowing what should be an origin film to settle anything about actual origins, there is no reason to care about Tonto or John Reid.  Curiously, The Green Hornet's Brett Reid is suppose to be a direct descendant of the Lone Ranger, so perhaps 'kimosabe' is actually a Native American curse on the Reid family meaning "You makeum bad movies".  I have also not forgotten how you, Armie Hammer and Jerry Bruckheimer blamed ME for The Lone Ranger's failure, your arrogance adding insult to injury.  Rather than be men and admit you were wrong, you shunted the blame to a poor kid from West Texas.  Stay classy, boys.  Perhaps the biggest surprise is that there were films actually worse than yours!

Num. 7

SHE'S A GHOST!  Of all the stupid twists in a Nicholas Sparks adaptation (and believe me, all his books are both basically the same story and incredibly stupid to boot), this THE MAIN FEMALE LEAD'S FRIEND ENDS UP BEING THE GHOST OF THE MAIN MALE CHARACTER'S WIFE twist is really insulting.  Of course, this 'spiritual' take on romance is the least of Safe Haven's problems.  Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel are both Beautiful Creatures, but lousy actors.  The situations especially Hough's character faces are nonsensical (the cop chasing her down is also her husband that she for no known reason cannot divorce) and Safe Haven has nothing to offer audiences except the Sparks template: beautiful white people in the beautiful white South (has there ever been a major black character in any Sparks book?) where the love rival has to literally die and there has to be some adorable child in peril.  Safe Haven strives so hard to be lush and romantic but ends up being stupid and boring...and SHE'S A GHOST!  

Num. 6

Stephanie Meyer, that frumpy Mormon hausfrau who single-handedly lowered the IQ of readers everywhere with her Twilight series...excuse me, SAGA, was at it again with The Host, her first non-EDWARD CULLEN tome.  If I go just by the story, perhaps hearing the voices of human Melanie and alien 'Wanda' (from Wanderer) might work when one is reading, but when it is visualized it turns into comedy.  Hearing poor Saoirse Ronan have to sound like a whiny teenager when 'Wanda' inside Melanie's body (or was it the other way around?) is about to kiss a boy is so laughable I can't believe Ronan could keep a straight face while recording her dialogue.  "Kiss me like you want to get slapped".  I hope that wasn't in the book, because I would have laughed at this like I laughed when I heard in the Twilight audiobook "His skin was literally sparkling".  Seeing promising actors like Ronan and Max Irons and even not-as-promising Jake Abel appear in this story that is dumb and plays like a spoof of Meyer's miserable writing is sad, and there was a threat of a sequel.  The Host I think is the first film of 2013 to earn an F, though I cannot remember.

Num. 5

The second of two failed young adult book adaptations, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is instead of a beautiful love story, a comedy, a spoof of all those angst-ridden young adult books involving the supernatural, a love triangle (or actually, a love square given the gay subplot that was introduced but never explored), monsters like vampires and werewolves and some simply out-and-out hilarious moments (the sprinklers going off just as the two leads kiss or when the witch closes what's left of a door when she exists).  You have such wild over-the-top performances from people like Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (who was excellent as King Henry VIII or Henry 8 as he was billed in The Tudors), a rather ugly-looking 'hot male lead' (sorry, I preferred the female lead's platonic male friend over the supposedly 'hot' guy) and a really creepy premise (the two 'lovers' may be brother and sister).  Its subtitle suggests people hoped to have more Mortal Instruments films, but again, despite this being the first of a series of novels, one can hope it won't be a series of films.

Num. 4

Battle of the Year costs $20 million to make, and the obvious question is 'why'?  It doesn't have big stars (unless you really, REALLY loved Drake and Josh's Josh Peck, Lost's Josh Holloway, and scum of the Earth Chris Brown and think they are worth the cost of admission).  Battle of the Year is clich├ęd (down to the characters, a motley crew of stereotypes) and idiotic.  For example, one of the b-boy dancers, Lil' Adonis (Richard Maguire) goes on and on about being a gay b-boy, and while you get the standard 'straight guy has problems being near a gay guy', by the end of it the bigoted Anis (Anis Cheurfa) defends Lil' Adonis.  How this change came about we know not.  We also get the alcoholism of Holloway's Coach (which is shown but again never resolved) and the eager nice Jewish kid Franklyn with a 'y' (that would be Peck), who can't even bond with the only Hebrew b-boy in the world (apart from the Israeli B-Boy Dance Crew).  There is an impressive dance number near the end, but apart from that (and seeing scum of the Earth Chris Brown get punched--payback for Ri-Ri perhaps?), Battle of the Year is a losing battle.

Num. 3

There is something within me that rebels against both pretentious films and David Lynch knock-offs.  Only God Forgives is both, and boring too.   Self-indulgent and pseudo-artistic, it plays to the worst of avant-garde actor Ryan Gosling's penchant for taking himself far too seriously.  The story is dumb, Gosling has about 17 lines in the whole thing (the nadir of his 'strong, silent' style of acting) and it is far more obsessed with its visuals than with a story that might have been interesting.  Avant-garde actor Gosling's underacting was compensated with Kristin Scott Thomas' overacting (any woman screaming about the penis sizes of her sons while dining with one of those sons and his hooker girlfriend can't be taken seriously).  Only God Forgives ultimately makes no sense on any level and shows that perhaps we've been wrong about avant-garde actor Ryan Gosling, that instead of being one of our young competent actors, he's really rather inflated with his sense of his 'art'. 

Num. 2

It's a sad thing when you see a group of Oscar winners (I count four) humiliate themselves in something that even the most wretched FOX sitcom would reject as too stupid.  Yet there they were, in The Big Wedding, a film whose story is dumb, whose characters were also dumb or repulsive or in Ben Barnes' case, insulting; casting a British actor to play a Columbian is on par with another Ben (Ben Affleck), deciding that they would be perfect as a Hispanic when apparently Hollywood lacks Latino actors.   Barnes' performance (as with Affleck) make Charlton Heston's turn as a Mexican in Touch of Evil look downright naturalistic. That is only the tip of the horror that was The Big Wedding.   Everything is predictable (minus Katherine Heigl vomiting over Robert DeNiro, which is reflective of how the audience felt), the characters stereotypical (the Hispanic females showing a new variation of the Madonna/whore complex) and overall everyone gave universally lousy performances.  Even the less than spectacular Heigl, Topher Grace, and Amanda Seyfried couldn't be bothered to do more than slumming through this slog of a horror.

It actually was a tight race for the single Worst Film of 2013 So Far, but try as hard as The Big Wedding did, it could not dislodge that Failure of The Will...

Num. 1

Watching paint dry is more intellectually stimulating and much better entertainment than After Earth.  Watching dog crap dry is more intellectually stimulating and much better entertainment than After Earth.  Watching After Earth is less a painful experience (though it is that, given that both my friends Josh and Nicki Sattelmeier and my cousin George walked out of their respective screenings at the second-run theater) and more a sad one.  Seeing Will Smith squander the public's love and affection for him in his quixotic quest to turn his progeny Jaden (or as I call him, Leaden Jaden) into not an actor but a STAR makes a mockery of Smith's business acumen.  He and Mommie Dearest Jada already pushed Jaden into a film career he, based on his performance in The Karate Kid, really doesn't want.  Now Poppa Smith pushed his son to be the primary character in this hoped-for franchise (note that despite having a total of three films prior to After Earth, it is Jaden, not two-time Oscar nominee Will, who gets top billing).

It is the instinct of every parent to see his/her child do better, but no amount of starring vehicles can make someone as uninteresting a screen presence as Jaden Smith into an actual actor, let alone a STAR.  He may be one eventually, but it will take more than the Smith Family fortune to get us to like Jaden or his sister Willow (seriously, I Whip My Hair is a dreadful song which by comparison makes After Earth look like Forbidden Planet) and flock to any film the younger Smiths are in.  I really think that Jaden is doing all these movies because his dad wants him to, not because he wants to (or because being the scion of wealth and privilege, Jaden has acquired an inflated sense of entitlement).  If he really doesn't want to be a STAR, then After Earth may be evidence of child abuse.

As my mother would say, it certainly was Audience Abuse.      
   

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