Our Ten’s List: Talking Turkey 2 – Ten MORE Bad Movies.
It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and I’m full of stuffing and self-loathing. Let’s talk about bad movies!
Two Thanksgivings ago, I put together a list of the biggest cinematic turkeys in my lifetime: movies that were not just either critical and financial disasters, but that I personally loathed. Absolutely terrible movies. Worse than the person who brings lima beans to a Thanksgiving potluck. The worst of the worst. Since that time, I’ve had a chance to reload my list with ten more bad movies, just in time for Turkey Day.
This list is a bit more specific than the first. Over the four years I’ve been reviewing movies for Deluxe Video Online, a handful of movies have slipped through the crack. Movies I watched but never got a chance to review. Kind of like that tupperware of old stuffing that’s lived in the back of your fridge for most of recorded history. So this article is the ten worst movies that I’ve had to watch for a review…but never actually reviewed. I bet you thought you were safe after all this time, eh Man of Steel?
Top Ten Worst Movies (That We Never Reviewed!)
10. Amazing Spider-Man 2 / Spider-Man: Homecoming.
The first entry in the list is actually a tie: I disliked both of the latest Spider-Man movies equally. Everyone rightly loathes Amazing Spider-Man 2 with its horrendous CGI and dumpster fire of a story, but for some reason everyone thought Spider-Man Homecoming was a decent flick. Well, you’re wrong, and you should feel bad about yourself. Both movies are unbearable, and mostly for the same reasons: they squander good villains and waste your time rehashing stuff that Sam Raimi already did better.
Amazing Spider-Man 2 took two likable actors in James Garfield and Emma Stone and ruined their chemistry in favor of shoehorning the tired old beat of “Peter Parker always pushes away his loved ones for their own good.” Except in this outing, the studio also wanted to re-do the famous impossible choice scenario where Peter has to either save the gal or bystanders. Both of these were done already in the first Spider-Man movie, and in order for it to work this time around they had to shoe-horn in the Green Goblin at the last minute just to remain faithful to the comic. This wastes one of Spidey’s best character moments and villains in a movie already overstuffed with baddies and plot points.
In much the same way, Homecoming packs the film with stuff we’ve already seen before. Peter gets busted back down to high school dweeb apparently just so Iron Man can patronize him constantly, has a nice romance 86’d because they want to shoehorn in Mary Jane again, and retreads the whole “my friend’s dad is secretly my arch-nemesis” plot from the first movie. Even his big action scene of saving the ship is just the commuter train bit from Spider-Man 2…without him actually pulling it off. It’s everything we’ve gotten before, sanitized and papered over with jokes. Bad jokes. Hurry up and give me Miles Morales or Spider-Gwen already.
9. Star Trek Into Darkness.
Star Trek follows Spider-Man’s lead by taking a series desperate for some fresh direction and making a U-turn back into “been there, seen that” territory. The first Star Trek dared to stray from the cannon and change the timeline, introducing new versions of our favorites with new power dynamics. The villain was wasted (as Eric Bana typically is) but was at least nobody we’d seen before. After blazing new trails, the second movie goes straight back to the well by resurrecting Khan as the big bad. Unfortunately they wanted to play coy so he gets nearly no set-up or character building, and we no longer have his all-encompassing hatred for Kirk as a backdrop. He’s literally never met Kirk before, and gets fridged by the end of the movie, meaning we never get to see the start of what could be one of cinema’s best rivalries. A complete wasted effort by a studio scared to embrace either innovation or tradition.
This remake of the Stephen King classic does nothing to add to the original except more on-screen deaths. A fresh take on bullying could have been explored as cyberbullying is added to Carrie’s list of persecutions, but the film never meaningfully delves into it. It’s just an update to make the film modern.
Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore are two excellent actresses who are wasted by a production that only wants to outdo the visuals of the first film. This completely misunderstands the success of the first, which was a taught and terrifying tale of isolation and abuse that used clever camera work and editing to great effect. Gore and special effects were not an issue that needed solving, and Carrie was not a film that needed remaking.
7. The 5th Wave.
Chloe Grace Moretz gets mugged again, this time by a bloated and ponderous young adult flick that arrived to the Hunger Games party too late. As such, a sci-fi dystopian flick with a faint glimmer of promise is buried under all of the tropes of the genre: tough female protagonist who never actually decides how anything goes in her life, two boy-band rejects who she is ping-ponged off of by the script, and a vague and nebulous power structure of adults that must be rebelled against by plucky teens.
Perhaps the story works better at novel length, but this movie feels like a convoluted mess that wants science fiction moments but lacks a plausible framework for them. The first scene promises a tragic journey like The Road or The Last of Us, but that’s chucked in favor of a formulaic alien invasion. The aliens here play the hits, like crashing the electric grid, creating a super-virus, sicking natural disasters on humanity, and body snatching unsuspecting people. After rushing through these, we get a drawn out conflict with Moretz and her two suitors versus an alien co-opted military that has decided to use kids as the last great scourge against humanity. It feels like seven generic disaster movies crammed into one with the added kick in the slats of teen wish fulfillment.
6. Big Hero 6.
This teen super team mash-up was all flash with little substance. The main protagonist, Hiro, is a cocky twerp whose big life lesson amounts to “don’t be such a dick all the time.” He only has any hero powers because of his big brother, who is the most likable character in the movie…and he is promptly killed so our entitled little shit can be the main focus. He’s constantly propped up by his bro’s invention and the aid of painfully generic sidekicks who are all ten times more interesting than Hiro. Yup, they’re pure cookie cutter super-team B-listers and outshine our main at every turn.
The characters aren’t the only thing generic in town. The plot is corn-ball evil scientist crap that would have been laughed out of an episode of Action Comics back in 1940. The film tries to be clever by pulling a twist reveal of the baddie, but anybody with a pulse knew who he was after the first time we see him. What you wind up with is a version of The Incredibles without any charm or humor, coasting along on tired old comic book tropes. Hard to believe Marvel pushed this out the door when they’re currently swimming in young super-teams that deserve a movie.
5. The Interview.
I can’t believe this stinking movie almost started World War 3. Of course, by the time you read this, any damn number of things could have started WW3, but of all the stupid reasons that we are now faced with nuclear Armageddon, The Interview has got to be the lamest. I would say that this was the beginning of the end for Seth Rogen and James Franco‘s run of buddy comedies, but apparently they drank the same evil potion Adam Sandler uses to remain viable despite not being funny for more than a decade. These guys have found a way to film 120 minutes of in-jokes and self-satisfied preening with no signs of stopping.
The Interview wants to be both a political satire and a send up of vapid journalism, but fails on both counts because its stars are two busy slapping each other on the back for being clever. This Is The End was much the same way, with Hollywood as the target, but at least that film had a brigade of talented supporting comedians to keep it afloat. Here we only get Rogen and Franco and their pedestrian hot take on how much dictators suck and how shitty the media is. Maybe next they can do a fresh riff on how totally uncool cancer is. That should be a hoot.
Talent contest films are generally a pretty breezy genre where good intentions are pretty much going to trump the harsh realities of show business at every corner. That gentle breeze is a hurricane of nonsense in Sing, an animated talent show tale that doesn’t even bother to make sense. In this world, there are literally no consequences of any kind for any person. One contestant is the reluctant driver for a team of bank robbers who not only never serves time but also gets a high five from his dad…who broke out of prison to be at the contest…and who was in prison cause his son is a lousy getaway driver. But he sang a popular song, so it all works out!
At the end of the day, the ludicrous non-plot is just flimsy stage props to allow ear-worm pop music to be covered ad nauseum. Besides the covers, all you get is thin characters (and blatant stereotypes, but that doesn’t matter because they’re animals, right?) and generic animated hi-jinks. The funniest thing about Sing is how a film about hidden talent is devoid of any cleverness at all.
3. Alice Through the Looking Glass.
I can’t. I just can’t. Look at it, for Christ’s sake!
Johnny Depp hijacks yet another film, one ostensibly about a character not played by Johnny Depp, but to hell with it. It’s ugly, it’s crude, has precious little to do with the classic fairy tale, and insults your intelligence at nearly every turn. It also happens to be the latest re imagining that thinks putting a lady in a suit of armor makes up for making her the second fiddle in her own goddamn story. Forget this nonsense, I know I wish I could.
2. Zoolander 2.
Comedy sequels are the pits. Ghostbusters couldn’t pull it off, that’s how bad it gets. If it wasn’t for Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, I’d say that every comedy sequel should be shot into the sun. Given that introduction, you can probably guess that Zoolander 2 is a miserable slog. What you can’t guess, unless you’ve had to sit through it, is how utterly unfunny it is.
There is one gag by Will Farrell in the movie that is worth a chuckle. The rest squanders every bit of goodwill remaining from the surprisingly hilarious first installment by making the silly characters nasty and peevish. It’s so bad, it makes the first film retroactively bad. In fact, it goes back in time and makes the parents of everyone in this film frown for reasons they can’t explain.
Deep down, though, they know.
They know that the cause of their sadness is that one day their child will be in a movie so desperately humorless, and it haunts them.
It haunts them.
1. Man of Steel.
Man of Steel is possibly the worst movie I have ever had to watch for this website. Luckily it had already been covered before I started writing, because I probably would have blown up the website with my hatred for this movie. On all levels – craft, vision, execution – this movie is an abject failure.
As a movie, Man of Steel is terrible. The pace is a mess, with weird jumps in time and story that make you feel like you are in a car with a first time driver tapping his brakes. The sound work is aggressively distracting. Hans Zimmer’s score is entirely forgettable. The visuals are either bright and over-exposed or murky and drab. Henry Cavil sulks his way through the entire movie as Superman while Russell Crowe struts around like a peacock and Michael Shannon sprays the screen with spittle as he shouts every line of dialogue. Zack Snyder clobbers you with blunt metaphors and religious iconography relentlessly. And the visuals!
I had to leave the theater the second it was done because I felt like I had been visually assaulted. I spent most of the last half hour only looking at the screen indirectly to avoid being physically ill because of the cinematography. The last fight scene goes on forever and consists of a drab blue and red blur zipping around and colliding with a drabber grey and black blur. Dragon Ball had better fight scenes when they just showed an empty sky and dubbed in sonic booms to convey speed.
Finally, Man of Steel is a travesty of a concept. It doesn’t reinvent Superman so much as systematically dismantle every part of his legacy. Humble Ma and Pa Kent are played like sociopaths who urge Clark to let his friends die, hide his identity at all costs, and consider people below his concern. Lois Lane goes from tough reporter and emancipated woman to a fawning creature only capable of making doe eyes at Superman. Jor El goes from a stately regal figure to a megalomaniac who sees his son as a nascent god-king. And Superman himself is a sulky brat with a chip on his shoulder because he is cursed with amazing powers. Suck it up buttercup! It’s like Snyder saw the evil Superman scene in Superman 3 and exclaimed “now THAT is MY kind of hero!”
It’s hard to fathom what Snyder thought he was accomplishing. Why make a Superman movie if you so fundamentally disagree with the characters and themes? There is no end of antiheroes or dark brooding characters in comic books, make a movie with one of them! Man of Steel is a poorly conceived, poorly articulated and poorly made film that was painful to watch on many levels.