Monday, January 7, 2019

The Worst of 2018 So Far

Image result for 2018 films
As in last time, this is more a "Worst Films of 2018 that I have Seen" list than a list of the worst films of 2018 overall. Some notorious flops were skipped by me, either because they didn't come to El Paso or because I just didn't get around to them.

Sorry, A.X.L.

Some films on this list will shock you, as they have appeared on many Best Of 2018 Lists and are held in high regard. I do urge you to read my case before getting on my case.

Number 10:
Robin Hood
Robin Hood is an embarrassment through and through. It tries to be so much and ends up being nothing.

It is another failed franchise starter, another bane of my cinematic experience. The original title was Robin Hood: Origins, which should give you an idea of where the filmmakers wanted to take this unjolly route through a Sherwood Forest Cinematic Universe. It altered the legend into total nonsense to do so.

Seriously, making Will Scarlet into the new Sheriff of Nottingham?

It tried to be hip and hep with today's Millennial audience by going all Antifa and politically aware when it ended up coming across like Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez trying to form a coherent argument on, well, anything. Putting aside the muddled pleas to be 'of the times' with its misguided virtue-signalling, Robin Hood also made the dunderheaded decision to be 'contemporary' in its costumes and sets, making the whole thing more ridiculous.

Above all else, it was simply boring, with lousy performances all around. I like Taron Egerton, but he is not giving Errol Flynn a run for his money. He doesn't even give Kevin Costner a run for his money.

Number 9:
Red Sparrow
Red Sparrow may have been a good book, but it's a lousy film.

Red Sparrow has a whiff of franchise starter too, in this rather sordid tale of our Russian spy-ette in training. It’s not a surprise given that there are two more novels based on our sour Domenika, but Red Sparrow has killed off any chance for more features.

The selling point for Red Sparrow was that Jennifer Lawrence would do her very first nude scenes on film. Up to this point, she’d managed to keep her clothes on, a point referenced in Seth MacFarlane’s awful We Saw Your Boobs opening Oscar song. Now she was going to bare all, but what she didn’t bare was an actual performance.

My mom has much better and succinct reviews for films. For Red Sparrow, she said, “She’s beaten up a lot”, and that seems to cover it all. It had bored performances and far too many stabs at twists that almost never paid off.

Number 8:

Papillon is not really a ‘terrible’ film, but it is a rather boring one. For the second year in a row, Charlie Hunnam finds himself on my Ten Worst List, which is making me think that outside Sons of Anarchy and a good body he really doesn’t have much to offer.

For all the talk of Remi Malek as a Best Actor contender for Bohemian Rhapsody he seems to match Hunnam in bad acting. Granted, I never saw the Steve McQueen/Dustin Hoffman original, but this Papillon never made a case as to why I should care about our lead, let alone why the original film should be supplanted by this one.

Number 7:
Isle of Dogs
Now here me out.

I know many thought highly of Isle of Dogs, whether just based on the animation or whatever subtext about immigration they read in the film. I think the animation is quite good. I just found the story rather dull. Isle of Dogs is not a film I would willingly sit through again, which is one of the points of consideration when I make a list.

Again, it is not terrible, but this film is not for me. And that’s before I even get into things like ‘cultural appropriation’ and ‘white savior complex’ which plague the film. I just found it far too self-consciously cutesy for my tastes.

Number 6:
Sorry To Bother You

Again, I find myself defending an unpopular position.

Sorry to Bother You was held up as this monumental work, a wild film of social justice and satire. I wasn’t laughing.

I saw some really clever moments in it, such as when our hapless hero literally falls into people’s homes when ‘bothering’ them with his phone calls. However, the social messaging was one I thought was wildly overboard, and that’s before this variation on Bamboozled turned into The Island of Doctor Moreau

Sorry to Bother You is so overt in its messaging that even before the whole thing went bonkers with its equestrian escapades, I felt perpetually beaten by its efforts to be insightful that came across as silly at best. Yes, many loved it, but I couldn't.

Number 5:
Avengers: Infinity War

I’m at it again, being a hater on a film that like the almost Satanic A Star is Born 4.0, is held as some turning point in both cinema and human history.

I however cannot get emotional about characters who I know are coming back. Perhaps it is because I endured endless seasons of ‘EVERYBODY LIVES’ on Doctor Who, but the whole ‘see beloved characters die’ trope has worn thin with me. As I know most if not all of our characters are coming back, why would I be blubbering about them disappearing?

Moreover, this All-Star Special of the world’s longest and most expensive soap opera has finally reached saturation point with me. I find that these characters really, really annoy me. Tom Holland’s Peter Parker is now a joke: this perpetually stupid kid who seems totally clueless about everything. Seriously, how is this Peter Parker anything close to a genius when he keeps reminding me of Nigel Bruce’s Doctor Watson (a character so stupid he wouldn’t be able to find his way out of a room if all the doors and windows were open)?

I'm told there was a greater effort for comedy in Infinity War. I think they went wildly overboard in their efforts.

I genuinely do not care about Endgame, or the Marvel Cinematic Universe, anymore. I didn’t care all that much then, as I didn’t grow up reading comics nor would I spend days in a theater for a ‘marathon’ of the MCU.

If people enjoyed it, fine. Let those of us who didn’t move along.

Number 4:
The Death of Stalin

Yep, I’m in trouble now.

After trashing three films beloved by critics and audiences, now I find myself going after the Big One, a film that many (especially my loyal followers) loved. So, why did I put The Death of Stalin on my Ten Worst List, and relatively high to boot?

Simple. While I respect what the film was going for, I found it all much too broad for my taste. I still remember one scene where Steve Buscemi’s Khrushchev says out loud, “Your father’s dead and your brother is shooting a gun”. Somehow, I don’t need to be reminded so often, “THIS IS A COMEDY!” I like to laugh naturally, not be told to laugh.

Again, I get what they were going for, it just didn't appeal to me.

Number 3:
The Spy Who Dumped Me

This is the worst type of comedy. It isn’t just that it’s unoriginal (though it’s unoriginal). It isn’t just that it’s almost sadistic (though it’s sadistic). It isn’t just that it misuses people both with talent (Justin Theroux) and people of questionable talent (Mila Kunis). It isn’t just that it misuses someone who is somewhere in the middle of Theroux or Kunis (Kate McKinnon).

It’s that it just isn’t funny. I wanted the Kunis and McKinnon characters to die. I wanted them to die horrible, slow, agonizing deaths. I wanted them tortured and then tortured some more. I wouldn’t have objected if they tortured their corpses.

I am appalled at how awful The Spy Who Dumped Me was, and worse, that I found two films I found more painful to sit through.

Number 2:
Life Itself
Smug does not cover how pretentious Life Itself is. This is the type of film that thinks it’s simultaneously highly intellectual and moving.  

Cue a Representative Ocasio-Cortez joke again, because this movie is incoherent, pompous, pseudo-intellectual and wildly misguided in its sentiment. Intended to be heartwarming and life-affirming, Life Itself is the complete opposite, especially given how often parents spanning generations and continents bite the dust in the film, mostly in rather grisly ways. You have cancer, suicide and literally getting under a bus. 

Essentially, Life Itself can be summed up as "the emotional Crash", where all these disparate people and events are tied together unbelieveable ways. They're also apparently tied in to Bob Dylan's Time Out of Mind album.

Above all else, one cannot forgive how Life Itself made one almost hate one of the best albums ever.

Number 1:

At least to their credit, all these other films at least had the semblance of movies. Gotti did not.

It was already bad enough that it looked cheap, but it is wildly jumbled both in terms of message and even setting.

What possessed anyone to let E (aka Kevin Connolly from Entourage), a man with limited directing experience, to be at the helm of something as ‘big’ and ‘important’ as this biopic of the notorious ‘Teflon Don’?

Some of E’s decisions are mindbogglingly bizarre. It’s bad enough he’s ripping off Goodfellas left right and center, but when he does so, why did he opt for the Pet Shop Boys’ West End Girls to accompany an attempted hit on Gotti via a car bomb.

Hey, I love PSB, but this choice was…curious, at best.

Above all else that went so wildly wrong with Gotti (the cheap sets, jumbled story, bad performances, anachronistic music thanks to Pitbull’s overinflated ego), the worst was that Gotti gloried our Mafioso to where I’m genuinely surprised it didn’t read “A Cosa Nostra Production”.

Goodfellas, in its craftsmanship, made no bones about showing how ugly and monstrous these people were. Gotti, conversely, seems to have been made by Gotti fans or family attempting to portray our murderous crime boss as basically a good guy with few if any flaws. It’s almost grotesque to see how celebrated John Gotti was in Gotti.

That is the element that pushed it down even more, though yes, the awfulness of the whole film apart from its laudatory manner toward its subject matter would have been enough to make Gotti the Worst Film of 2018 So Far.

Next time, some Odds and Bitter Ends.

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