Saturday, February 05, 2005

The Ten Worst Movies of 2004

Well, everyone else gets opinionated on these things, so in honor of the Oscars, here are the WORST movies that I saw this year.

Another one of those movies that relied on a pointless twist easily guessed before the movie was half over. Considering the talent involved (David Twohy, Johnny Depp, John Turturro), I expected a lot better than a mish-mash of plot points from EVERY Stephen King novel that played like the movie equivalent of a greatest hits collection. Even King’s original story, "Secret Garden, Secret Window," is King ripping of himself during his long period of creative bankruptcy. A pointless movie with a great central performance.

It’s getting harder and harder to like DreamWorks SKG’s computer animated movies. So far, with the exception of Antz, they’ve all been comedies. And while Shrek and Shrek 2 were both good, if astronomically overrated movies, Shark Tale set the bar incredibly low. Forget Pixar and Finding Nemo, this movie would’ve sucked balls regardless. And the DreamWorks formula is wearing thin – take 80 stars, have them play thin caricatures of themselves (it makes screenwriting so much easier if you use shorthand characterization based on the exaggerated screen persona of a star like Will Smith), and put them in an adult problem that kids won’t care about where they have to make 3 pop culture references every half-minute. This is literally animation at it’s laziest. Does Jeffery Katzenberg still care about cartoons, or does he simply get off on beating Disney at the box office? And now that Disney and DreamWorks have both decided conventional animation is over, we’re just left with these pointless, space-filling comedies. Hooray.

Have you ever watched someone else play a video game? It’s boring, it’s useless, and it makes you wish you were doing something else – like playing the game yourself. This is how I felt during the entirety of Van Helsing, a movie that basically serves as a video game commercial and pornography for CGI fetishists (I know you guys are out there, trying to copulate with your hard drives). The leads are bad, with Kate Beckinsale especially coming across as ridiculous. Why does she keep trying to convince us she can act? Or that she’s sexy? Neither one is true. And what was with her ridiculous Pottsylvanian accent? Maybe she can go after Moose and Squirrel next.

Wow, what a stupid movie. What a total, total waste. Let’s take one of the five greatest stories ever written, and turn it into a trite little Bruckheimer rip-off. One good performance (Eric Bana), a lot of bad ones, and good actors like Sean Bean totally wasted with almost no screen time. And, if you were basing the movie on the Iliad, couldn’t you have gotten any of it right? Hector killing Menelaus? Paris and Helen running away at the end? Ajax dying in battle? Polyxena and Astyanax escaping alive? And why did a ten-year war appear to take place in a week? This was without a doubt the worst of the considerable array of bad Greek legend movies, if only because of it’s attempts to contemporize it. Peter O’ Toole and Brian Cox did some of the worst work of their careers. Director Wolfgang Petersen’s movies always feel unfinished to me.

Does Tony Scott even have a point anymore, or does he just like to move his camera around and hope for the best? The 1987 version of this movie with Scott Glenn was better, and it’s total shite. This one just wasted the surprisingly talented Dakota Fanning. The rest of it was formless, pointless, and about forty minutes too long. Denzel Washington sucks.

Ooh, an M. Night Shyamalan twist? I’m stupid enough to fall for it, I can’t wait to see what it is? His career will surely rival Hitchcock’s as a master of manipulation. Whoops, he made a crappy movie, guess we were wrong. Am I the only man who thinks that Night is hardly a genius? Didn’t you guess that, when Bruce Willis was shot at the start of the crushingly boring and obvious The Sixth Sense, that he was dead? I guessed it from the damn trailers! He’s made one great movie (Signs) for every, well, five bad ones he’s made (all the rest). At least this movie tried to bring in some interesting social SF ideas, and the performances were all good (as if William Hurt could be capable of less). Bryce Dallas Howard is quite a discovery. Too bad the plot was so predictable – I guessed the twist in the first half hour, and the rest of the movie praying it wouldn’t be true because it was just too stupid.

Maybe it’s the pervert in me, but I’m subject to watching these movies sometimes where the young girl needs to find herself and goes off on some kind trip. Chasing Liberty was the worst of the year – worse than First Daughter, worse than The Prince & Me – not only because it was one of the most boring things I’ve ever seen (it feels like it’s week passes in real time), not just because it has another one of those sweaty, desperate, unfunny "comic" Jeremy Piven performances (is there a less relevant actor?), but because it undoes all of the good will Mandy Moore had generated for her excellent performance in Saved, an actual intelligent movie. Unless Mandy Moore is half naked, every frame is forgettable.

A pretentious crap fest that pretended to be an hilarious comedy about sex, but turned out to be a lot of fobbing off about the importance of college and the future. Elisha Cuthbert somehow manages to play a pornstar without taking her clothes off. The movie, like Ms. Cuthbert’s character, is one huge prick tease, promising to be about something but actually giving nothing at all. Even the choice of songs on the soundtrack is pretentious. Offensively bad.

I hate movies that pretend to have a meaningful plot, and then don’t. Oh no, a WASP has a problem (sex related, no big surprise), and we’re supposed to buy that it has something to do with grief over dead children? A movie by pretentious people, about pretentious people, for pretentious people. At least there’s one good performance in there (Jeff Bridges) and full frontal nudity on the majestic Mimi Rogers, but the movie is a waste of time that sucked out my will to live. And all that lip service about the importance of writing? These people need to go to Africa and find some purpose in their lives. At least it’ll clear their heads of their own problems, the only thing they’re wrapped up in. Trivia: this is the second movie on this list to waste a good Fanning performance – Dakota’s younger sister, Elle.

Jerry Bruckheimer is an evil, evil man. What force sent him to Earth to prey on the souls of humankind? He makes the worst shit imaginable – seriously, movies like Armageddon and Pearl Harbor barely try to tell a story that’s remotely interesting. The formula for a Bruckheimer movie generally goes like this: an idealistic guy has a cause, then he meets a girl, guy’s friend also likes the girl, and there’s some light attempts at rivalry that go nowhere. This all takes place against the backdrop of some kind of crisis, and after a lot of death, the idealistic guy is left standing to go off with the girl, and the friend has heroically sacrificed himself, and it all ends happily with some lame pop song. There’s no effort involved, no story to tell, and finally it’s over, along with (on average) two and a half hours of your life. And the worst part is, you all keep giving him money, over and over. You all went to see National Treasure. A lot of you did. You should be ashamed for bending over so willingly. And the fact that this piece of crap could parade around pretending it had anything to do with the "reality" of King Arthur (Sarmatians, my ass) is puke-inducing.