Was 2011 a great year for film? Well, yes and no. It certainly was much better than last year’s crop of freshly-laid turds, many of which made me question my continued desire to live on a planet that allows January Jones to have a lucrative TV and movie career. Still, 2011 was marred by record low attendance and a staggering number of sequels/remakes with 28 — the most in movie history. Now, I’m sure many of you are expecting this list is to be filled with cinematic diarrhea like Jack & Jill, The Smurfs, Zookeeper, Chipwrecked, Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part I, New Year’s Eve, etc., because it’s obvious these are the types of “films” that are the retarded harbingers of the horrifying future America Mike Judge warned us all about in Idiocracy. But, I can’t in good conscience write about those stinkers because I didn’t pay to sit through any of them. I had to limit this list to the movies that I plopped down my hard-earned cash for either in the theater or through the
magical glowy wonder box Netflix Instant Streaming. That being said, even though you won’t get to see me eviscerate Hank Azaria’s performance as Gargamel, there is still enough horrific celluloid shlock here to make you wish that movie cameras were never invented. So without further ado, here are my Top Ten Worst Movies of 2011!
10.) Real Steel
If you’ve seen the first Rocky movie, and Stallone’s arm wrestling-meets daddy issues classic 80’s cheesefest Over The Top, then there truly is no reason to see Real Steel, because Real Steel is just an outright ripoff of those two movies, with actual robots in place of Talia Shire (see what I did there?). It’s not that Real Steel is a horrible movie, it’s just an utterly derivative and formulaic one. From the moment I sat down, I knew exactly what was going to happen, and could easily predict all the emotional beats the movie was trying to hit long before they happened. The film is competently shot, lit, edited, cast, and features some excellent effects work, but that’s about all the positivity I can muster for a movie that is just one giant “washed-up underdog triumphs against overwhelming odds and learns to love himself and others” cliché.
9.) Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
If Keith Richards’ drunken, indecipherable British schtick was stale and tired 20 years ago, then what does that make Johnny Depp’s watered-down, PG-rated impression of Keith Richards’ drunken, indecipherable British shtick? The answer is: embarrassing. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is an arbitrary installment of a franchise that got too bloated and convoluted for its own good somewhere during the first hour of the second movie, Dead Man’s Chest. Aside from Depp’s painfully obvious phone-in job here, On Stranger Tides features a slashed budget that all but eliminated the cool zombie/sea creature effects masterfully rendered by the ILM wizards; a tedious, pointless romance between two superfluous dullards (one’s a mermaid, the other a missionary) shoehorned in for the Harelequin romance novel-reading crowd; Ian McShane as the legendary pirate Blackbeard, who doesn’t really get to do anything remotely badass or even interesting; and a slap-dash ending that completely rips off Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Speaking of which, if I could quote the aforementioned Last Crusade in the context of Depp’s decision to torment audiences for the next ten years in this tired role: “He chose…poorly.”
By now, most of us know the story of Kevin Smith: fat, broke convenience store clerk somehow lands an attractive, thin wife and builds a financially successful entertainment career by maxing out a dozen credit cards in 1993 to make Clerks; inadvertently launching an entirely new cinematic genre where 20-something slackers sit around spewing dick jokes and pages of pseudo-existential dialog while Soul Asylum songs drone on in the background. With Red State, Smith attempted to break away from his stoner cinema roots and make a “statement” film about post-911 America and the disturbing fanaticism of hardcore right-wing evangelical sects. The result is a sloppy mess of a film that shows a lot of promise early on with an intriguing horror-meets-religion premise (as well as a chilling sermon by the uber-creepy Michael Parks), but never follows up on it — eventually devolving into a hackneyed FBI vs. cultists stand-off picture in which *Spoilers* almost every major character is arbitrarily killed before they can do anything of consequence or complete their arcs. Smith promised his first “horror” movie and hyped it for years as a really dark and disturbing concept, but the end product is a disjointed, preachy mess; ironically just as inconsequential as any of his slacker comedies.
7.) Season of the Witch
Season of the Witch is one of those laughably bad movies that should only be viewed (intentionally) at 2 AM on Netflix streaming after knocking back a six-pack, just to see how terrible Nic Cage’s latest hairpiece is. This movie is nothing more than a rote, “transport a prisoner from point A to point B” flick, and predictably, most of the secondary characters get killed in various cliched ways until the final destination is reached and the hideously-rendered CGI is unleashed on a weary audience trying to stay awake to get to the end credits. Awful.
6.) Battle: Los Angeles
Battle: Los Angeles is an insidious marriage between the most expensive military recruitment video ever made, and the most cliche-ridden alien invasion film ever made. There are no characters in Battle: L.A., only screaming military ciphers that no discerning moviegoer could possibly give a fuck about, as well as frustratingly nondescript alien invaders that have been done far better in movies like ID4, War of the Worlds, and hell, even Skyline. (Note to studio execs: when a God-awful travesty like Skyline is compared favorably to your film, you know you fucked up). If you like 90-plus minutes of grunting, shooting, and army jargon, this is the movie for you. It’s not so much a film, as it is a floor demo for a high-end Blu-ray home theater system. Michael Bay-lite for the military fetishist crowd.
5.) Drive Angry
You know that old saying, “This movie is so bad, it’s actually good!”? Well, Sometimes, it’s just plain bad. Drive Angry is one of those movies. Some citics actually praised Drive Angry for its intentionally trashy, Z-grade, grindhouse-style antics, and for its muscle cars, hot babes in denim cutoffs, over-the-top Satanic baddies, and buckets of blood — but the film is an exercise in tedium, delivering only some occasional thrills with some of the hokiest, shoddiest digital 3D effects since the launch of the trend. Remember when Nicolas Cage was a solid young actor who turned in some really cool performances in films like Raising Arizona and Leaving Las Vegas? Well, those days are long gone, Daddy-O. Cage has now fully transformed a once-promising acting career into a running Internet comedy meme. Bravo, asshole.
4.) Sucker Punch
Director Zack Snyder has a reputation for delivering the goods on an aesthetic level, but failing spectacularly when it comes to emotional depth and character development. Sucker Punch was going to be his first, true “statement” film — a movie that would add an engaging, original plot to compliment the eye candy. The problem was, that no one — including Zack Snyder and the marketing department — knew what the hell the movie was supposed to be about. Was it a film about the hideous treatment of patients in the corrupt mental institutions of the 1940’s/50’s? Was it a film about using the power of the mind to escape from physical imprisonment? Was it a Moulin Rouge-meets-The Matrix music and action genre-bender? Or was it a metaphor-laden exploration of female sexuality?
Snyder was clueless, and Sucker Punch became a narrative and tonal disaster in the editing room. It was as if Snyder wanted us to believe he had something profound to say about misogyny, female sexual empowerment, societal views on the objectification of women, etc. Yet, anytime we as an an audience attempted to absorb these mangled metaphors, Snyder’s camera swooped in for an upskirt shot of a nubile young woman in thigh high nylons shooting 8,000 rounds of ammo at a CGI dragon, her breasts bobbing in time with every spent shell casing exiting the chamber, in a vain attempt to titilate and distract us from the truth: that he churned out a bleak, dull, pointless exercise in exploitation jazzed up with sequences of empty, masturbatory bombast.
3.) Green Lantern
Green Lantern is a character tailor-made for epic cinema, and in the right hands, this DC Comics icon could have been a spectacular superhero-meets-Star Wars amalgam that rivaled Avatar in terms of visual spectacle and box office returns. Instead, it was a garish bore that was grounded before it ever had a chance to take flight by a terrible marketing campaign, a jumbled screenplay, and a catastrophically bad editing job that left the picture a hacked, disjointed mess.
The root of the issue is that Captain America: The First Avenger succeeded where Green Lantern failed. Both characters are earnest, fearless heroes, and while Marvel allowed Chris Evans to portray Cap this way, Warner Bros. wanted to turn Green Lantern into their own version of Iron Man — i,e. a cocky hotshot who is forced to confront his flaws and learn humility. Once that decision was made, the film was doomed – although it was not Ryan Reynolds fault. He did the best he could with the material he was given, but ultimately the burden of poor pacing, underdeveloped characters, weak villains, ugly special effects, an out-of-nowhere deus ex machina climax, and Blake Lively’s attempt to usurp January Jones as the worst working actress in Hollywood was too much for one snarky young actor to bear. Crushingly disappointing.
2.) Green Hornet
The Green Hornet is actually a serious vigilante crime fighter whose secret identity, Britt Reid, is a direct descendant of John Reid, aka, the Lone Ranger. He has a rich history in the golden age of radio, as well as Saturday morning film serials, television, and comic books. Now, with that legacy in mind, what does Columbia decide to do with this established, legendary hero? Why, make him a raging asshole, of course!
Seriously, fuck Seth Rogen for having the nerve to actually cash his paycheck for what he did in this movie, and for taking a stinky, asparagus-tainted piss all over The Green Hornet character. His Britt Reid is quite possibly the most unlikable movie protagonist of the 21st century; a bumbling douchebag with absolutely no redeemable qualities. Add to that a cappachino-brewing Kato portrayed by an actor who can barely speak English, a nonsensical plot, laughable editing, and a slumming auteur in Michel Gondry who was clearly not cut out to make a action picture suitable for public consumption, and you have the ultimate recipe for disaster. Green Hornet is a complete and utter travesty; a case of a movie studio completely destroying a character just because it could.
1.) Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Come on, you can’t be surprised about this one. It really was the only clear choice. Tell you what, I’ll spare you all my usual Michael Bay-hatred (you can re-live all of the reasons why he, and this movie are awful by reading my review here) Instead, I’ll tell you how you can re-create the experience of watching Dark of the Moon in 3D without having to buy an expensive 3D LED HDTV!
First, get two friends to duct tape your hands and feet to a chair, then, when you’re nice and snug, have them stick a funnel in your mouth and pour 70 or 80 boxes of sour patch kids and sno-caps down your gullet until you are vomiting uncontrollably. Next, tape two powerful LED flashlights to a pair of eyeglass frames and put them on with the light shining directly into your retinas, while one of your friends smashes a pair of cymbals right next to your ear and the other alternates between punching you in the side of the head with brass knuckles and sticking a taser into your groin.
Sooo….agree? Disagree? Did I leave something out? Do you think I’m a clueless fucktard? Well, there’s the comment section below. Why not leave one?