THE NEXT FIVE: SUCKY FILMS THAT HAD NO RIGHT SUCKING


NUMBER FIVE – THE BOX

Latin: das box


This is a soumate of Gentleman Broncos in that both are made by filmmakers who really haven’t made a good movie yet (Donnie Darko, great if you were 18 when it came out and felt like a part of the sensation, balls once you’re 19 or any other age).

Both feature actors and actresses in roles.

I know it’s hard to believe that a film starring the powerhouse trio of Cameron Diaz, James Marsden, and half of Frank Langella’s face isn’t the best thing in the world but it isn’t the best thing in the world.

It’s a mess. It’s a weird, inert mess that I wanted to end as soon as possible. Because, though the concept is fine [girl meets box, box pays girl, person dies, Frank Langella’s face is partial, repeat] the film never rises above being an odd curiosity. Yes, it is vintage. It’s a period film because it can be. Yes, Frank Langella is very creepy when you can see his chewing sections. It’s just a oddity that never rises above that and when it makes its big reveals you simply don’t give a fuck about any of these people with full faces.

That said, there is a terrific subplot about Cameron Diaz’s character having a ruined foot.

Cut from the film: A considerable percentage of Frank Langella’s grin. A grievous amount of Diaz toes.



Performance of Hate: Sam Oz Stone plays the young son of James Marsden and Cameron Diaz. He doesn’t do anything wrong, but his name is Sam Oz Stone and that terrifies me.



Would it help if the main character was gay: No, but it would add a layer of mystery. “Why would this man use NASA dollars to construct a fake foot for a woman he isn’t even delivering the cyclops to?”.



If CHUD had a blurb on the box it’d be: “If you felt Frost/Nixon had too much face, this is your movie.”

NUMBER FOUR – CROSSING OVER

Latin: becausecrossingdelancywasbusy


This movie is like an alien abduction.

I experienced it. Don’t remember a thing. My ass hurts.

It’s about immigration. It’s boring as a night on the town with James Keach. It’s a baffling thing to have come from Wayne Kramer who rocked ass with The Cooler and Running Scared.

It’s a nonfilm. I paid to see it. My eyes were open and my brain translated those images into information that created a vivid understanding of what those images meant. Then my brain finished with the film and made me crave a sandwich and never returned to those images again. Why did this film make me lose time? Surely Ray Liotta and Harrison Ford sharing screen time should carry some weight. If this were 1992 I’d have started a Liotta/Ford t-shirt line. Imagine a Guy Martin mash-up of the posters for No Escape and The Frisco Kid.

Ashley Judd… well, she’s sixteen shades of boring. Jim Sturgess… an excitement vacuum. But still. Wayne Kramer!

Deep in my flesh there’s a beacon bleeping from where this film tracks my progress. It knows I saw it. It may one day choose me again for its moments in the void. Until then I walk the Earth with the transaction proving I saw this film and nothing else.

Cut from the film: You’re asking the wrong guy.



Performance of Hate: Who am I?



Would it help if the main character was gay: I have no clue.



If CHUD had a blurb on the box it’d be: “This must be what dying feels like.”

NUMBER THREE – X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE

Latin: liev at budokan


Hugh Jackman is dreadful now. Have you noticed?

His Wolverine act is on cruise control, and the speed is clocked by radar at unimpressive mph. He squints and glowers and grunts and waves his little fistblades around like we remember from those X-films. He still looks the part and his chest is both appropriately hairy and packed with rippling muscles that tell you he has a fabulous trainer.

But I’m sick of the man. Sorry. He’s talented and he’s a hit with the ladies and men with his show tunes and dancing and prancing and there’s the rippling muscles and hair and stuff. Congrats to Hugh for being a hardbody that’d make Stephen Geoffreys return to his side gig for a few drops.

But this origin story is not unlike when kids gather their action figures and come up with a play session that incorporates all of them, logic be damned.

When we’d play with my toys I didn’t need to explain why Iron Man was almost twice the height of Zartan, I just needed to make sure that he defeated him before he was able to scramble up the discarded Christmas tree in my backyard before he could enact his master plan.

This movie feels like a Comic Con panel come to life as dreamed up by a mishmash of less-than-reliable conventioneers.

Wolverine All-Star Assault Team! Betrayal! Girlfriend dies, but not really! Manipulation! Mad! All Star Bad Guy Team! Let’s make Deadpool Dural from Virtua Fighter! Betrayal! Love Boom! Hey, isn’t that John Huston’s boy? Scratch! Yay, survival!

It’s just not good. But Liev Schreiber is amazing. As usual. Someone give that man his own franchise.

Cut from the film: Issues 1-6 of Kitty Pryde & Wolverine, where they battle Ogun the evil demon ninja.



Performance of Hate: Jackman. I really found him absolutely generic here. I mean, I didn’t crave Dougray Scott or anything but a part of me wishes Gerard Butler was in the neighborhood.



Would it help if the main character was gay: If? IF?



If CHUD had a blurb on the box it’d be: “If you knew all Wolverine wanted to do was be a lumberjack you probably would have saved hundreds on comic books, huh.”

NUMBER TWO – PANDORUM

Latin: in tractus vos can evidenter audite dennis quaid scream


This is some piss poor outer space shit.

Originally billed as some sort of amazing soulmate to the flawed but solid Event Horizon [which, if filmed from its original script would be beloved], this film ended up being the amazing soulmate of the rogue asteroid that will eventually smash Earth away and kill every descendant of you and I with extreme prejudice.

I don’t know what it is that bothers me the most. Yes I do, it’s the villains. They’re like a mixture of the boring undergrounders from the massively overrated The Descent coupled with the not-really-vampires from I Am Legend and given martial arts skills. There is way too many outer space fistfights in Pandorum. If there were one it’d be too many. These asshole space monsters that used to be people suck so much dry ass it hurts, but they can jump really far and do lots of fighting in jerkily cut action sequences, so they must be great.

They are not great. They are horrible. If this film had some sort of cool beastthen it’d be almost acceptable to tolerate the absolutely wretched performance from Dennis Quaid, and actor who did Far From Heaven less than a decade ago. What happened in 2009 to the man’s chops? This AND G.I. Joe? Even the almost always interesting Ben Foster does nothing to make it work.

It’s just a dark mess with no sense of geography in its action. I hate Pandorum.

Cut from the film: The footage tying this to its prequel, the Matt Dillon sci-fi actioner Factotum.



Performance of Hate: Cam Gigandet AND Norman Reedus are in this film. It’s as if the casting director said ‘How do I fuck with Nick Nunziata?”.



Would it help if the main character was gay: No.



If CHUD had a blurb on the box it’d be: “I’d blow Stockard Channing to unmake this movie.”

NUMBER ONE – PUBLIC ENEMIES

Latin: vir no deficio


Michael Mann is in my top three filmmakers working. Even though he often comes just shy of the mark in his work to be considered a legendary filmmaker. Just shy.

Except here, where he fell way shy. This is a crime movie directed by the man who made Heat and Collateral. With Johnny Depp at the peak of his power. With Christian Bale at the peak of his. With Stephen Lang being all sorts of amazing. It should be a slam dunk. It was my most anticipated film of 2009 by far.

It’s ok. It had no right being ok. It had no right being just good.

The digital look ruins it. There’s no energy or heart. It doesn’t have the visceral punch that Michael Mann’s films ooze with. There’s none of the grit that great gangster films run rampant with. No one’s having fun, and Johnny Depp has a role in John Dillinger where he could have unspooled every one of his considerable charms.

I blame Tim Burton. Actually, I blame Michael Mann.

I own this on blu-ray as delivery on a promise. Because I feel I must. That is just plain wrong.

Cut from the film: Film.



Performance of Hate: Bale, whom I love. He is given one dimension and he plays it well. But it’s one dimension of character so screw me.



Would it help if the main character was gay: Yes, because then he wouldn’t be like many Mann protagonists and get jacked in the head and make bad decisions about some dame. He’d get jacked in the head and make bad decisions about some dude. So, no.



If CHUD had a blurb on the box it’d be: “This was the best film of 2009. In my head. Until I saw it.”



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