The films I didn’t see that are sure to be dire are many, but it’s hard to berate them having not seen them. Face-crushing efforts I chose to not see this year include:
Ice Age: The Meltdown, Click, Scary Movie 4, Failure to Launch, The Pink Panther, The Santa Clause 3, Saw III, Naco Libre, You, Me, and Dupree, RV, Big Momma’s House 2, Madea’s Family Reunion, Little Man, The Benchwarmers, Date Movie, When a Stranger Calls, The Pursuit of Happyness, The Grudge 2, Man of the Year, Last Holiday, She’s the Man, Deck the Halls, Eragon, , Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, The Wicker Man, Employee of the Month, Artie Lange’s Beer League, The Covenant, Stay Alive, Waist Deep, ATL, Pulse, Akeelah and the Bee, School for Scoundrels, Annapolis, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, Material Girls, and A Night at the Museum.
Of the ones I did see, these are the ones that deserve some sort of retaliation:
10 – Apocalypto. I’m not a Mel Gibson hater. On the contrary, I own most of his movies and have probably given him enough financial support over the years to at least have a nice entertainment system. That said, I’ve never been a big Braveheart guy and I felt The Passion of the Christ was a little much. I get all the Jesus abuse I need in my regular life, thanks. I saw Apocalypto last night and surprisingly came out of it feeling similarily drained afterwards. Not in a good way. Not in a sexy way either. The fact someone finally made a film about one of the coolest and most brutal and interesting times in human history is phenomenal, but how it was executed most definitely is not and the decision to shoot on high-def video totally scuttles any possibility for redemption. It looks good at times and others, primarily the seemingly millions of shots of people running through the forest, it does not. The fact that what is essentially a very lean revenge flick (hey, like Braveheart!) is over two hours is pushing it. I do very much appreciate the random monkey fight scene that happens in the flick, though. Nothing makes you appreciate a film more than a random monkey attack. Ill-conceived, overblown, and too digital for this man’s liking.
9 – The Devil Wears Prada. This was a hit. To my face and ass. I was astounded how little this movie registered with me on any level. Well, Emily Blunt was good, but this thing was that most annoying high grade entertainment type of product that should either rise to be something special or revel in its vapidness. Anne Hathaway tries to deliver her first real adult performance (no knockers, boys), and you’d think the presence of Meryl Streep as comic relief would help make it work. It doesn’t.
8 – Final Destination 3. The first one was good. The second one was an all out blast. There’s no reason the third film in this series needed to be a pile of asshole. That said, it was. The gore was bad, the characters boring as they get, and the filmmaking lackluster despite the presence of some talented folks. In a year where horror was unloaded with both barrels on us, most of it very weak stuff, this one should have been one to cling to.
7 – Snakes on a Plane. No one expected this to be a classic, but what it ought to have been, was a really entertaining guilty pleasure. It wasn’t, and I felt a little embarrased to be a man when I heard Samuel L. Jackson deliver his signature bit of vulgar dialogue in the film. The right intentions, some great filmmakers, and a hilariously pure concept couldn’t keep this from being a movie I wanted to like but one that really hated me.
6 – The Sentinel. How do you waste Michael Douglas, Kiefer Sutherland, David Rache, and Martin Donovan? Easily! Clark Johnson’s a solid if not homogenized action director but what could and should have been a tight thriller with above average intelligence was a yawner and a total paycheck grabber for everyone involved. In some respects I should have expected as much, but then again, how hard is it to not be fucking generic?
5 – Silent Hill. My, oh my. I have intense man-love for Christophe Gans for The Brotherhood of the Wolf and the video game for this is creepier than Uncle Jack’s night gropings from my childhood. How can you go wrong, especially with Kim Coates and Sean Bean in tow? With luscious ladies like Radha Mitchell, Laurie Holden, and Deborah Kara Unger? With great FX and tons of production design assistance? Easily, apparently. This is a fat and soulless exercise in how to recreate a game with more tools than the designers had and still emerge with a product that is literally of no use. I don’t know how it happened still.
4 -16 Blocks. There is a 6 or 7 second bit at the beginning of this film that is terrific, a little gunfight in the streets that reminds you why Richard Donner was the shit. Why Bruce Willis is still relevant. The rest of the film scuttles any goodwill and the fact that David Morse is wasted makes me even sadder. What a waste of time.
3 – Ultraviolet. I have to admit, I was prepared for this to be disappointing. Someone other than Kurt Wimmer put this film together long after Kurt himself had moved on and there’s a good amount of blame to be assigned there. Any studio that only wants footage gatherers is missing a key point of filmmaking. With that in mind, there was plenty of stuff that raised flags. Like the idea of Milla Jovovich as a lead. Like Cameron Bright in a suitcase. Like heavily manipulated visuals. Equilibrium is a film I can always revisit, but this was a mistake, a sad one considering how much the director put into it. Sadly, the result is a mess.
2 -Clerks II. Rosario Dawson’s gyrating lusciousness aside, this movie embarrassed me. Kevin Smith is a guy I like, someone who coincidentally is the best actor working in his films aside from the big names like Damon, Affleck, and Lee. How does this movie not totally rule the roost? Here’s how, by having a vacuum of personality as your romantic lead. By not honing your jokes to precision as they were in Chasing Amy and though I’m not a fan, the original Clerks. After the damn near perfect animated show this feels like a retread, and laced with an undercurrent of resentment towards the people that made the director a household name. This isn’t a horrible film, I just expected more from Kevin.
1 – The Black Dahlia. A genius book. A director capable of legendary filmmaking. A cast to die for. How the shit did this thing not only have no real punch, but actually border on risible at times? It’s a golden property. Golden. Fuck Bonfire of the Vanities, this is the unkindest cut of all. While I applaud the effort to recreate the mood and style of the old great noir films, it just comes off as a stylistic exercise, one without any character who feels two-dimensional. I know some folks love this film. They’re wrong.