Saturday, January 19, 2008

Film 2007: Worst

Call it the curse of Don Murphy. The producer of the rock-bottom-worst film I saw last year, Shoot 'Em Up, went after me on an online forum after I had posted my displeasure. So here I have my revenge...except that Google AdSense has plopped an ad for the DVD atop my blog, and I can't dislodge it. Caveat emptor, folks, and be careful what you click for. (On the other hand, if you've laid a cinematic egg, you probably want a pit dog like Murphy in your corner, snarling at the blogosphere.)

What we have here are the usual suspects--flatulent sequels, putrid prequels, rancid remakes, indie crap. And a few unwelcome surprises. I know better than to patronize flicks that pair Jason Lee with CGI critters, but would not have thought that the talented triptych of Ridley Scott, Denzel Washington, and Russell Crowe would cause such agita.

In alphabetical order:

Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem. About as rudimentary as cinema can be.

American Gangster. Phonied-up history, fakey Seventies ambiance, 157 agonizingly tedious minutes. Further proof that "American" in the title, dripping easy irony, rarely bodes well.

The Brave One. A misguided vigilante picture, it shoots but does not score.

The Bucket List. Death without pain, sentimental hokum without relief.

Dedication. An unromantic romantic comedy. An idea whose time has not come.

Fay Grim. As grim as Hal Hartley's career prospects.

Finishing the Game. Game over: A miserable in-joke comedy.

Ghost Rider. For audiences that find comic books too demanding to read.

Hannibal Rising. Lecter plummeting.

The Hitcher. A remake of a picture no one but a few buffs saw. Fewer still saw this inferior teen-pic retread.

Hostel: Part II (pictured). Not torture porn. Just torture.

In the Valley of Elah. Of all the consequences of the Iraq War, the worst may be well-intentioned but hopelessly flat-footed movies about it, with crummy titles (Rendition? Lions for Lambs?). Exhibit A in a failed campaign for hearts and minds.

The Invasion. Fourth go-round for the body snatchers, who get you when you sleep. Audiences who bothered were out cold in minutes, but they were so few in number the effect has gone undetected by the general populace.

The Kingdom. A bore on terror.

Live Free or Die Hard. My choice is to live free, minus franchises run into the ground.

Lonely Hearts. The Honeymoon Killers, from the POV of the detectives. As compelling as Jaws from the POV of a nearby barnacle.

Lust, Caution. Not enough fuck for the buck.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. 0-3 for me. A seasick series.

Shoot 'Em Up. DOA.

Smokin' Aces. The filmmakers were smokin' something with their late-arriving Tarantino knockoff.

Spider-Man 3. Stuck in a web, and the most disappointing of the year's sequels. The last one, with the same creative team, got everything right; this one, everything wrong. What happened?

Sunshine. A promising opening completely eclipsed by the silliest sci-fi cliches.

Youth Without Youth. Southland Tales and I'm Not There didn't really speak to me, but the filmmakers left them open for discussion. This was a closed book, at once precocious and senile.

Bad is bad, so I feel no particular urgency to quantify my exasperation in the form of a Flop Ten list. But for those who prefer that sort of thing, here goes:

10) Spider-Man 3
9) Sunshine
8) The Kingdom
7) Dedication
6) Finishing the Game
5) In the Valley of Elah
4) The Brave One
3) Lust, Caution
2) American Gangster
1) Shoot 'Em Up

Fear not. The best is yet to come...

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