Lost: The End of The End

Must. Purge. LOST……….

wha, wha, what?!

The final “Lost” episode ever, ever, ever (everrrrrhhhh-nooooooo, it can’t end, what am I going to do with myself?!) didn’t go off with a season 5 sized nuclear bang but a warm and gentle and somewhat confusing glow. Contrary to what I had read from “Lost” Gods Cruse and Lindoff, warnings of a “Sopranos” style reaction where 50% of fans would “hate” the final episode, the last thing I expected “The End” to do is played it safe. Though I’m grateful the “Lost” team handeled their “End” with a lot of hurried care and caution, the first thing it does do is play it safe by relying on cosmic magic to answer the unanswerable (scheesh, I’ll never get religious people). The episode is not hateable but it’s also not extraordinary. It ends with dignity but not clarity as unanswered plot details linger but do so in a way that invites thought and discussion rather than frustration. Anyone still watching “Lost” at this point and still expecting “answers” is to be pitied because this show will provide no more answers than God himself speaking into our ears and I think that’s the whole point. We must allow for a certain amount of mystery because a world with out that is not worth living in. The shows knows this but viewers didn’t and as such both became slaves to the tyranny of logic and narrative symmetry. Let go people, it’s about the process. It’s about the questions. It’s not and will never be about the whys because, as Jacob’s lover/mother put it, “Every question I answer will simply lead to another question.” That’s a perfect mantra for the show.

Season six of “Lost” tried very hard to canonized itself into a new science fiction based religion (the “Star Wars” of television). Yet it pushes its dogma on us even though the religious mechanics (magical water, glowing caves of wonder, the twinkly promise of an afterlife etc.) comes off as blunt more than something truly profound. It’s still a worthwhile effort because divine intervention might be the only explanation left for a show as convoluted as this. Why did such and such happen? Uh, God and magic. That being said this uber “spiritual” (in the words of the writers) season of “Lost” is mostly agreeable but numbing and not particularly challenging or philosophically earth shattering. The final episode follows those traits. So, yes, “The End” is passable; “good” by virtue of the fact that it was not a horrible F-you to it’s fans. If anything it’s very loving and accepting and even emotionally involving (tell me you didn’t feel something when Vincent joint Jack at the very end) and I can’t hate something so noble even if it’s also grandiose. That, plus, Jeff Fathey, the pilot, didn’t die! Yeah, the episode provides a lot of fan service with coo (if not always meaningful) cameos and fresh new concepts such as the awesome actuality of the sideways verse. This may not be the earned ending I or anyone had hoped for but it’s a nice one and I’ll settle for that.

The critical side of me however was left disappointed at how poorly the episode was put together but that’s to be expected as series finales are usually rushed and aesthetically all over the place. Still, the “Lost” team had three years to plan this “End” and they settled on a non-denominational Fellini-style church shindig? Really?! The new sets were boring and just plain goofy (more Disney theme park ride than an ecstatic religious experience), the big apocalyptic storm was murky, dark and uneventful while the “sinking” island involved nothing more than camera shaking and characters going all season 5 time shift wobbly on us. Also, the editing didn’t flow well and the writing may have done it’s job at getting a lot of information across to us but even at two plus hours it felt rushed and didn’t set the bar higher as the great episodes of “Lost” have done in the past. Sure I feel like the show needed more time to really sort its mythology out but, again, it had to end somewhere. As I sit here pondering somewhat trivial, episode specific question such as Where is the plane going and how exactly does that destinion relate to the sideways existence? What’s with the corny collective mental church creation and why are certain island characters there while others are not? Why did Ben not join the others (not Others mind you but others) in the church? Does that mean he won’t die, or that he’s suck in limbo for his sins or could that even imply that he’s the new and necessary dark half to Hurley or another Alpert type of helper? Is Smokey really dead? If so why does the island need to be protected? And why would any God be dumb enough to keep the totality of the universe together with a literal cork in the ground etc. There is of course less-trivial/more-nagging series-wide questions about Aaron’s specialness, Dharm true role on the island (just for research?) and why can’t women give birth on the island? I have to say don’t mind the prospect of spending eternity with these lingering issues because they are interesting rather than maddening “Twin Peeks” or “Battlestar Galactica” sized questions that were made specifically to torment and haunt its fans to their graves.

Less than a day later I honestly have no idea what the reception of this ending will be but after Now I’ve gotten this stream of consciousness vomit off my chest I might actually enjoy finally checking out where fans go with the show now that it’s finally, finally, FINALLY over. No more speculation (which I’ve never, EVER been into). Like it or not the end we get gives us a lot to chew on but, come on admit it, the geek in me (in us) is still hoping for a “Lost” spin-off years down the line starring Hurley and Ben. As fans go I’m pretty sure there will be a few types now that the (black) smoke has cleared. Flashback people, flash forward people and flash sideways people. Most will choose the flashbacks because it defines the essence of the characters but I found that to be mostly filler and extraneous information that could/should be answered ON THE ISLAND and, as such, will always be more fond of the flash forwards because it’s the stuff of pure sci-fi ambition and the first time the show excelled at turning its wild metaphysics into a pure and even thoughtful form of entertainment. Few if any will end up being sideways people but this alternate reality season was not a total loss in my opinion. It was cool if tricky how this season’s sideways reality turned into what people thought the island itself was from the beginning: a purgatorial place where lost souls gather before they move on to the (now literal) light. When the bomb went off in season 5, sideways is where everyone ended up to finish things up in their own way. Or is it? Either way the show got to keep the “they’re all dead” aspect of that long favored end point theory but does so in such a way that it gets to exist as one aspect rather than the whole; the other being the island itself as the hub of existence sealed by a literal cork being guarded by a fat man who talks to dead people. Jesus, that sounds silly and makes no sense. And that’s why I love “Lost.”
Episode Grade: B
Season Six Grade: B+
Series Grade: A
(There was Twin Peeks, there was X-Files, there was Buffy and now there is was Lost, a show that has finally earned the right to join that club)

Review: Iron Man 2

What’s Good: Great sense of style, character and pacing. And with dialogue this good who needs a story? I was surprised at how much I liked this movie. Not better than the first, not even close, but a solid effort.
What’s Not: Matt Fraction didn’t write this movie. Stupid third act. Race track sequence very lame (lets just say it’s no Afghan cave). Also… Pepper Potts nagging. I just hope a third “Iron Man” does not come out before the “Avengers” movie because I don’t want to see it rushed. 

From the moment I saw the trailer I’ll admit that my heart sank. Robert Downey Jr. with his shoe polish facial hair, eye liner and frizzy due, looked more like an 80s porn star than a modern superhero. The trailer also showed him going to more parties than fights. What’s with that? Then there’s the whole matter of Col. Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle) who, while not quite looking like a porn star (though he did in “Boogie Nights”), also didn’t look like Terrance Howard. Also featured in the trailer was Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) looked as bland as ever and it was hard to forget Whiplash (Mickey Rourke) looking like chewed up and spat out supervillain crap–a joke villain out of “Kick Ass” more than the most high profile comic book movie in two years. 2s are hard to get right because of how much we expect. That being the case I didn’t expect much and, as I often foolishly do, declared that “Iron Man 2” would suck (last time I did that: “Avatar”), something that friends and Metacritic only confirmed. Well the only thing all that proved was (a) that the trailer was not any good and (b) that I was dead wrong.  

The first “Iron Man” was better than everyone thought it would be while the second lands somewhere in the region of what most people thought the first would be. I disagree. This franchise is as relevant and exciting as it ever was because it favors its interesting characters as much as its high quality action. Playboy Industrialist Tony Stark is of course a great character being played by an even better actor. Unlike last year’s Capt. Kirk (Chris Pine), Downey Jr. finds the right, dare I say “perfect,” balance of cocky and cool to imbue his larger than life character. We root for him even though he doesn’t need our help because he’s rooting for himself louder than we ever could. Some of that’s posturing of course as Tony’s underlying flaws are actually insecurities. ‘Iron Man 2″ accomplishes the very difficult task of transitioning this character from the heroic origins of his first venture to a genuinely fleshed out figure that has evolved quite a bit. Right off the bat the film does not turn into the trite alcohol after-school-Iron-Man-special that many expected–I’m glad it didn’t as I prefer Stark to be a happy, William Powell in “Thin Man’ type of drunk rather than a Nick Cage  in “Leaving Las Vegas’ one. Rather, the film does some a lot more challenging by making Tony a ticking time bomb. That’s interesting to me because normal Tony is a ticking time bomb while a Tony that knows he’s dying is a total party! I mean that literally, he throws a party and shoots his laser at guests. In this film, even more than the first, we understand why Tony doesn’t so much like being a hero but needs to be one because he’s protecting (and literally shielding) himself as much as he is protecting us. Unlike a lot of tedious movie superheros like Spider-Man (my favorite whipping boy, by the way), the reason for his reckless actions has as much to do with thrill seeking as it does duty and personal fulfillment. The added psychological element (daddy issues) adds another fascinating layer upon the Stark mythos, especially when that dad is played by John Slattery in full whiskey drinking, Camel puffing “Mad Men” mode.

The problem, if there must be a problem, is simple; the script by Justin Theroux of all people. Theroux, or JT as I call him in my personal life, could be called awesome. He not only starred in “Mulhollad Dr.” and “Inland Empire” (earning so much indie cred that I’ll let his “Charley’s Angels 2′ appearance slide). He also co-wrote “Tropic Thunder,” another great Downey Jr. movie. His script, while competent and full of great dialogue (“I have successfully privatized world peace” Tony tell the Government before flashing a peace sign), doesn’t stir the soul the way the first “Iron Man” did. The nerd in me knows that such a problem would have been solved by hiring Matt Fraction who, after his work on the brilliant “Invincible Iron Man” comic series, has a better handle on the Iron Man universe than anyone alive. But studios hardly ever hire comic book writers so on those grounds the story we’re stuck with is still good and I can say that because the film passes the test of being strong even when Iron Man is not on screen! For instance, people may not be talking about Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash as they would many great superhero villains but for my money he really overcomes how stupid he looks. And speaking of looks, if you look at it a certain way this character is an Eastern mirror of Tony Stark. He’s got father issues (his dad worked with Stark Sr.), he’s as brilliant as he is eccentric, he drinks too much and he commands technology to accommodate some sort of insane personal drive for attention and validation. I found myself understanding his motivations and if I must tell the truth was actually won over by Rourke’s heavy Russian accent which is funny, but even more importantly, not distracting when it’s not funny. After teaming up with a sleazy war-mongering Government politician (the best actor of last year: Sam Rockwell) the Russian has one demand: “VEEERS MIE BEIRD!.” “You’re what?” “My BIERRRD! IE VANT MEI BEIRD!” “Oh, okay here’s your bird.” “DAT’S NUT MEI BEIRD!!!” He’s saying he wants his bird by the way, and it’s one of many great touches. Also included to the roster of actors playing characters who should have sucked is Samuel L Jackson in the thankfully beefed up role of Nick Fury. Fury in particular works nicely within the Iron Man universe as a ball busting mentor or sorts that manages to out-cool Tony. “I got my eye on you,” the one eyed Fury says before shooting a patented Sam Jackson glare in Tony direction. There’s only one actor in existence that could do that and lets just say Faverau hired that one actor.  

Unlike the new (and, okay, better) “Batman” franchise I could see how and why so many got the feeling that this film comes up short. It’s not the “Dark Knight” of “Iron Man” movies and it’s foolish to expect so much of it–or anything for that matter. Everyone was so eager to make an “Iron Man” movie and, in turn, everyone else was so eager to see an “Iron Man” movie that the specifics and quality of that “Iron Man” follow-up that everyone wanted, and wanted as soon as possible, shouldn’t be taken for granted. This movie could have easily just filled in the blanks but instead supplies fans with necessary storytelling. The plot explores the aforementioned whip toting, Vodka drinking, toothpick sucking, bird lovin Russian genus thug and throws in the plot-line of Tony being made “sick” by the same thing keeping him alive and manages the time to chases those two whoppers with a more standard Government going after one of its superhero storyline. I am still sick of the superhero on the run plot device but “Iron Man 2” at least gets creative with that trope. After destroying his home in a drunken fight with Rhodes, Tony is forced to up his game, save is name and his life and none of that would have happened if the Government wasn’t a total dick to him. When the ask to give his technology in the interest of public safety Tony fires back with a great line that goes to the heart of what the character’s about: “I am Iron Man. The suit and I are one” he tells a Senator played by a smirking Garry Shandling of all people. That he allows Rhodes and the Government to steal one his suits and create “a war machine” is ideologically problematic and inconsistent but, then again, so is Tony Stark.        

Actor/director Jon Favreau may never be considered a “great” director but he gets the job done and knows exactly what this franchise needs at this point in its cycle. Being as funny as he is (“Made,” a film he starred in, wrote and directed is even better than “Swingers”) he never takes things too serious, which could have really hurt this movie. In terms of style and subject matter Favreau doesn’t overdo it but even if he did he gets credit for not being Brett Ratner. The scenes of flight and combat are not as exhilarating as in the first but they are snappier and streamlined in many places. We even get a better sense of the people underneath the machines when the film cuts to Jarvis’ POV. 

I had a chance to re-watch the first “Iron Man” again and I’m glad I did. It occurred to me how special that movie is. There’s one big action set piece in the first act and a bigger one in the last. The middle chunk is easy to dismiss but it’s actually the best part. It’s about Tony figuring out who Tony Stark is as a man, how he thinks and what he wants to do with his gifts. That he’s not a complete ass kissing do-gooder is why he’s so interesting. When he ended that film with the self-actualizing statement “I am Iron Man” it felt like one big mission accomplished on everyone’s part. That rare origin story that actually earns it’s badge or shiny suit as it were because it took the time to develop all the necessary aspects without giving into the demands of the typically and retardedly fast paced summer movie. More than about action the film is about an imperfect man that strives for perfection through science, engineering and big brass balls. Literally half of the first “Iron Man” is just one big gear head construction project that we all got to sit in on.

“IR2” wisely follows the first film’s action/looooong set-up/action formula without loosing track of the heart of its character. I give this sequel credit for also not artificially cramming in a pointless action scene in the middle potion of the film. The sequel also gets to revisit the usual superhero who-am-I? questions without feeling redundant as “Spider-Man 2” was when it basically just remade the first film by making Parker loose his powers only to be forced to re-learn them. Now, successfully following the original does not come without a few hiccups. Namely, the first film’s third act was not its strongest even though The Tony vs. The Dude (protegee vs mentor) showdown holds up surprisingly well if you watch it today. The third act of “Iron Man 2” does not come out of nowhere (at least we see Whiplash and Hammer cooking up their evil plays) but it might as well have because it’s not inspired at all. Once again Iron Man must fight a larger and stronger version of Iron Man™ with the only difference here being that he has Rhodes, an ally in an Iron Man suit joining him to face-off against Whiplash in, uh, another, bigger Iron Man suit… with LIGHT SABER WHIPS! And not only does Iron Man and Iron Man fight Iron-er Man, but they also face an army of Iron ManRobots modeled after the Army, Navy, Marines and whatever. Watch out for those Navy robots on dry land, Tony! These scenes are literally one big cluster-F if you ask me but not so horrible when you really stop to consider the lack of alternatives available. Should Tony’s Iron Man fight a human? No, too easy. Should he throw down against a monster? Nah, that wouldn’t fit with this series’ semi-realistic style; this isn’t “Hellboy” after all. Should he fight his inner demons? Doesn’t he do that already? So what’s left other than hot and steamy mech on mech action? I don’t know but then again I’m no writer. Lucky for us Justin Theroux is. Well, kinda. 
Grade: B+

Worst of 2009

The Absolute Worst Films of 2009

I’ve run out of good things to say about 2009 so after catching up on the bad things I am, after all these many months, finally ready to close the door on last year.

1.Lovely Bones (Peter Jakson)

A film so misguided and ill-conceived that it essentially undid all the greatness Peter Jackson was able to accomplish with his masterful, decade defining “Lord of the Rings” series. I didn’t think it possible but this movie surpassed Jackson’s God awful “King Kong” fuckery. With “Bones,” Jackson takes an adaption about a dead girl “solving” her own murder. This could have been cool if only the filmmaker didn’t Spielbergize it to a point of nauseating candy coated proportions. The shallow as a grave and bare “Bones” film fails as a gritty mystery because characters sit around and mope rather than engage in any sort of investigation and the movie fails just as hard as a “What Dreams May Come” type of fantasy because characters sit around in a magical candy land and just sort of stair off into space. In the latter scenes, the film does little more than showcase its heavenly effects. The film not only gets the admittedly tricky tone surrounding dual realities connected by love (rolles eyes) all wrong but lays the schmaltz on so thick that it forgets (or fails) to give the viewer a proper sense of logic, purpose, reason, causality or motivation. Obviously this kind of story that requires the viewer to take a leap of faith and while I went into it with a total sense of openness, I found it impossible to do so because this forced, heavy handed and dramatically inept film doesn’t meet us half way or provide any reason for why we should take that leap. This may be the most passive mystery ever made! Like its main character, “Bones” is as dead as disco and yet also like her it never shuts the fuck up or gets real for even a second. “We’re in heaven…. yaaaaaay” a fellow lost soul tells our wonderstruck heroine. If this is heaven then I’d rather be in hell. (full review)

2. Away We Go (Sam Mendes) “I can’t believe you told your mother about my tilted uterus.” “I didn’t know your tilted uterus was a secret.” “Yes, my tilted uterus is a secret.” Wonderful. Okay then… two married, or dating (I don’t even remember) and self-described “fuck-ups”/non-self-described douche bags decide to travel around the country to “find themselves.” The two attention sponges played by a pregnant Maya Ruldoph and, um, a bearded John Krasinski get so much out of life and suck so much more out of it. And us! Their journey is a draining affair full of trite sentiments, forced indie music cuts, tacky humor and phony drama. Every line and plot action is performed in a precious, whispery aren’t we funny/cute/profound way that instantly activated my gag reflexes. The ponderous dramedy (directed by the overrated Sam Mendes with a screenplay by David Eggers of all people!) enables the 30-something angstaholics to a point of complicity. It’s not presenting their story but selling it and rubbing it in our faces. While this isn’t technically the “worst” movie of the year it is certainly the most annoying and definitely the most insincere hipster message movie since “Rachael Getting Married” and “Garden State” before it. A movie made for all those preening monkeys who grew up being told how important they are. (full review)

3. The Blind Side (John Lee Hancock)
“I never had one before,” “What, a room of your own?” “No……… a bed.” “The Blind Side” is not only biggest turd of the year but after a shameful best picture nomination/best actress win it’s the most unjustly celebrated turd of the year. This Republican wanking, pseudo inspirational sports drama has me convinced that people in general are way too easily inspired. Its “based on a true story” (but not really) views on small towns, sports and race relations is archaic and down right creepy. After watching “The Blind Side,” for instance, I learned that all white people are rich, that all black people need help from said all white people and that all black people are either on drugs or sell drugs. The film is that blank and white (no pun intended) about the world it exists in and the people that inhabit that world.
The (indirect? unintended?) racial condescension gets even creepier with its curious depiction of white saints treating its resident sad, black and perpetually moping lug of character (Quinton Aaron in a horrible performance of startling one dimensionality) as if he has no agency or power to help himself. Rather, he must be directly controlled, shaped, pitied, educated and generally “fixed.” The firecracker Football Mom played by the untalented-as-ever Sandra Bullock determines that “that poor Michael is like a fly in milk at that place.” This giant sized teen, compared to an animal (or insect as it were) is literally turned into a pet project by her. And by the film as well which is as lazy as they get. The shrill and irritating Bullock (and her shrill and irritating family) seems to be thinking, “hey, this boy’s black and big so lets put a football in his hands” as if that’s all a person like this can offer the world. Oh, but don’t worry, the film also allows it’s black character to be a bit racist. Apparently white folk, with their books and food and, oh wow look at that, beds, are “weird.” I can almost see his point. As bad as things get, black and white Amreica come together at the end thanks to football, the prospect of money and of course Jesus. “You’re changing that boy’s life,” Bullock is told by an ego stroking cronies. “No……………………………… HE’S Changing ours” she responds in a line that illustrates the trite nature of the screenplay. Bravo assholes, like the movie “Crash” (another racist classic starring America’s Most loved Nazi lover) the one thing this sub-TV movie manages to do when it comes to racial relations is make me dislike all races involved.

4. G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra (Steven Sommers)
Worst “Hollywood” movie of the year. In fact, as soulless, disjointed and jagged as almost anything Michael Bay has ever done. Ironically, 2009 was the year Bay actually made a halfway good movie–literally, though, only about half of “Transformers 2” could qualify as being watchable but that’s a full 50% more than “G.I. Joe.” Everything about this film is awkward and stiff and, that being said, you won’t be surprised to learn that director Steven Sommers also made “Van Helsing.” Well, he managed to top himself! Star of tomorrow (and that’s really true than kill me now) and expert non-actor/male stripper Channing Tatum sucked harder here than his after hours activities at his previous job. And if it’s possible Marlon Waynes’ “that’s whack!” token black side-kicked sucked even harder. Did anyone survive unscathed? Yeah actually, Joseph Gordon Levit plays such an over-the-top, Darth Vader-ish heavy that he gave what’s either the worst performance of the year or some just sort of a brilliantly self aware “bad” performance on par with Marlon Brando in “The Island of Dr. Moreau,” Bill Murray in “Charlie’s Angels” and Robert De Niro in “Rocky and Bullwinkle.

5. Jennifer’s Body (Karyn Kusama)
Yes, I like “Juno.” No, I don’t like Diablo Cody. Her name at this point in her “career” is a punchline and the joke was this shitty shitty film she wrote. This teen horror movie tries sooooo hard and goes sooooo nowhere that it makes “New Moon” look like a Bergman movie.

6. Up in the Air (Jason Reitman)
Speaking of “Juno,” did I mention how much I dislike Jason Reitman? For putting George Clooney in a rare bad movie he can never be forgiven. I’m serious: Steve Gagen and I are still not on speaking terms after “Syriana.” The film tries to be socially relevant and comes off socially inept. Any film with this amount of insincere sincerity is almost guaranteed to land a spot on my top ten. To make matters worse this film also tries to be funny and comes off cloying. It tries to be dramatic and comes off… the rails. I’m shocked that it managed to be both popular and respected. (full review)

7. Paper Heart (Nicholas Jasenovec)
This nugget of indulgent indie hipster bullshit was saved but the bigger and stinkier piece of indie hipster bullshit that was “Away we Go.”

8. Taking Woodstock (Ang Lee)
Ang Lee is such a hard director to figure out. He’s capable of mighty feats of technical skill like “Crouching Tiger…”, gritty American dramas like “The Ice Storm” and rich period melodramas like “Brokeback Mountain,” and “Ride with the Devil.” He’s also really good at fucking good things up. The stylized “Hulk” and noir “Lust, Caution” are both virtually unwatchable. “Taking Woodstock” belongs in that second category of Ang Lee movies. It’s not just bad but his opus of fuck-ups. It’s hard to watch but at the same time hard to stop watching because it’s so not cool.

9. Brothers (Jim Sheridan)
“The Hurt Locker.” “The Messenger.” For a genre that has no good movies to its name, Iraq War 2 movies gave us two good ones in 2009! The rarest of streaks was cut short by Hacky McHacksalot’s (aka Jim Sheridan) “Brothers.” This is not so much a bad movie as it is a really boring and biteless one. It plays it safe and plays it contrived. At the heart of the film’s problems is a miscast Toby Maguire who stars as a hardened (really?) soldier taken hostage while his wife paints her new kitchen with his boner hiding brother. THEN HE COMES HOME! The terrorists should have done us all a favor and not given him back.

10. Fireproof (Alex Kendrick)
HahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaHahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaHahahahahahahahahahahahaha
…(gasp)…ha. Married characters haven’t been this annoying since “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.” But at least that film had action and guns and shit. This one has fire fighters and Jesus.

11. Up (Pete Doctor)
Clear your mind and pretend you know nothing of Pixar or “Up” and just listen for a second. So there’s an old guy and his wife dies that bums him all out so he, well, he gets a bunch of balloons and, um, attaches them to his house and the house floats up and up and up in the air and, whoops, there’s a chubby Asian Boy Scout in the house too and so… uh, the house floats to an exotic land and almost lands but doesn’t quite land and the two jump off and find a rare bird that like chocolate and the three go on to meet an other old guy who has a blimp and hunts said exotic chocolate eating birds and, oh, he also has an army of talking dogs. THAT GOT AN OSCAR NOMINATION. THAT GOT TONS OF CRITICAL RESPECT. THAT MADE A LOT OF MONEY. PEOPLE LOVE THAT MOVIE.

12. Miss March (someone directed this?)
Gave it a shot because it made AV Club’s number #1 worst movie of the year. Now I wish I was shot.

13. Julie & Julia (Norah Ephron)
Only the Julie part makes the list. Amy Adams as an aspiring chef/nagger is hard to stomach. Here I was all ready to watch a movie about a historic figure and instead got one about a self obsessed blogger that leaches off a historic figure and screams at her husband for not being supportive enough. The effect this had was strange because the better Meryl Streep is in this movie (and she’s good), the more I ended up disliked it because it’s not really her movie at all. New rule: the only time Amy Adams should be allowed to be in a movie with Meryl Streep she better be playing a nun.

14. I Can Do Bad All By Myself (Tyler Perry)
So can Tyler Perry. I’m so sick of Perry’s that I’m not going to even bother watching his movies at this point, I’ll just put them on this list with the total confidence that they belong on it. Why are people so afraid to call Perry out on his hackiness?

15. The Burning Plain (Guillermo Arrigaga)
From the writer of the films “21 Grams” and “Babel” comes a film just as bad as “21 Grams” and “Babel.” Here’s the lesson and it’s a lesson worth learning. When a bad film is pointlessly rearranged, it becomes an even worse film.

16. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Gavin Hood)
Almost had me missing the glory days of Brett Ratner. (full review)

17. Hanna Montana: The Movie (Peter Chelsom)
I’m not admitting to watching this movie. I’m only admitting that I didn’t like it. Draw your own connections if you must.

18. Mutant Chronicles (Simon Hunter)
Mutants, mutants never change. You would think a movie with Ron Pearlman, Thomas Jane and a shit load of mutants AND the apocalypse AND a giant hole in the earth where the mutants came from would be really cool. This movie is not really cool. It’s really stupid.

19. Year One (Harold Ramis)
No… more…

20. Land of the Lost (Brad Silbering)
…bad comedies!

 

Not Quite On The List but Not Quite Off The List:New Moon (dir. Chris Weitz)
Proof of how hard it is to mess up a story about vampires. This film is not bad but it’s such a lazy, you’re-going-to-pay-to-see-regardless-of-quality sequel that one has to admire the almost total lack of effort that went into the making of it. And this is coming from the director of the beautifully crafted (and underrated) “Golden Compass.” I can’t blame Chris Weitz though because he was clearly rushed by a studio that doesn’t give a blood sucking shit about quality. Summit is milking this bloated cow till it runs dry and they are wise to do so because they know that a few years from now it’s not going to hold up and that millions of girls of all ages are going to wake up out of this daze they’ve been in these last few years, hate themselves, then probably move on to a worse fad. 
“New Moon” is lightweight and very dumb but harmlessly so. The amazing thing about this series, book and movie, is how it attracts haters as much as it does fans. I love watching non-fans or as I like to call them “normal people” get all worked up about the creepy social message this series upholds. Girls apparently can’t function without an abusive man in their life. The message is rancid and the across-the-board performances (except the dad, who is always cool somehow) do not help things either. Bella, played by a pouty Kristen Stewart, is such an infuriating twit that I found myself dreaming of Buffy coming to town and kicking the brooding shit out of her (then, of course… lesbian sex). Buffy was into an vampire asshole too but she MOVED ON. Bella is such a needy creature that I don’t think independence is possible for her. Ah, it’s just so fun to snark on this movie! This is a movie instantly ready for Rifftrax. Had the above commentary been released in theaters it might have out grossed the actual movie.

Worst Lines of the Year:

 

  1. A character gets stabbed. “My tit,” she whispers. “No…………your heart” her friend tells her. Jennifer’s Body, keeping it real. A very profound and subtle statement Diablo, you are a true feminist.
  2. “You’re changing that boy’s life,” “No……………………………… HE’S changing ours.” Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side.
  3. “You’re lime green jell-o and you can’t even admit it to yourself.” Megan Fox in Jennifer’s Body.
  4. “I SEE YOOOOOOOOUUUUU,” Sam Worthington in Avatar.
  5. “You’re my only reason to stay alive……..if that’s what I am.” Edward in New Moon
  6. “I can’t believe you told your mother about my tilted uterus!” Maya Ruldoph in Away We Go.
  7. “Every second I am with you is about restraint… and you’re too fragile.” Edward (again) in New Moon.
  8. “You can’t trust vampires… trust me.” Edward (again, again) in New Moon
  9. “Bella, you give me everything just by… breathing” Edward (uh huh, again) in New Moon
  10. “We’re in………………. HHHHHEEEEEEAAAAAVVVVEEEENNNNN! Yaaaaaaaaaaaay!” Some stupid dead kid in Lovely Bones.
  11. “You never leave your partner! Especially in a fire!” Kirk Cameron, as a fireman, in Fireproof using a fantastic fire metaphor for his marriage. What a dick.

Top Ten Suprisingly Non-Bad “Bad” Movies

  1. The Box–destined to be either cult classic or a film people try their best to forget.
  2. Crank: High Voltage
  3. Knowing
  4. Taken
  5. Pandorum
  6. Gentlemen Broncos
  7. Push
  8. Gamer and Law Abiding Citizen (Two three star Butler movies brings up the grand total of watchable Butler movies to three. He still sucks though.)
  9. Funny People (Well funny until the lame third act where I found myself hoping Adam Sandler would get cancer again and stop making out with his boring ex wife. Hum, third act problems, where have I see that before, who directed this movie again?)
  10. Bandslam–a lot of cheese here but “Bandslam” is still one of the best High School/music movies around.
  11. Underworld: Rise of the Lycans–as Michael Sheen vampire movies go, better than “New Moon.”
  12. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Worst Directing

  1. Peter Jackson’s Lovely Bones
  2. Stephen Sommers’ G.I. Joe
  3. Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad…
  4. Karyn Kusama’s Jennifer’s Body
  5. Sam Mendes’ Away We Go

Worst Performances

  1. Worst of the Worst: Channing Tatum in “G.I. Joe.”
    Picture a Ken doll that sounds like Markey Mark from the 90s… and add zero acting ability, personality and charisma and you have an idea of Channing’s first big splash in the industry. Really, it’s more of a dribble though. Tatum is so bad that he transformed G.I. Joe from one of the worst films ever made to one of the worst films ever made EVER.
  2. Megan Fox, Jennifer’s Body and Transformers 2
    Head overruled other head on that vote.
  3. Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
    How did this false performance earned Oscar nomination I will never understand)
  4. Sam Worthington, Avatar/Terminator Salvation
    Sam Worthington can’t ruin every movie this year too, can he? Can he?! Oh shit, he gonna isn’t he!
  5. Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side
    She seems nice, let’s give her an Oscar.
  6. Sandra Bullock’s annoying fucking son (Jay Head… yes that’s his real name) in The Blind Side
    A special place in hell is reserved for this little shit.
  7. Sandra Bullock’s 300 lb pet project (Quinton Aaron) in The Blind Side.
    The master of one expression and one expression only. Here it is folks.
  8. Ms. mopes-alot Stewart in New Moon
    The most mentally crippled character in “literary” history successfully parlayed her mind numbing into the cinema thanks to Kristen Stewart’s perpetually off-putting, sad sack mumbling sappy stupid performance.
    Toby, we need you to play someone who is very dull and not quite in touch with his emotions. Toby: …………………I can do that.
  9. Tyler Perry in EVERYTHING 
    This year he had the distinction of sucking in not just his own movies (he did, what, six last year?) but Star Trek too!
  10. Robert Pattenson in New Moon
  11. Marlyn Waynes, “G.I. Joe.”
    Dude, you’re not funny.
  12. Michael Gambon in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
    Getting better just as he got, um, dead. And that getting better accounts for why he’s so low on this list cuz Gambon (normally a great actor) as Dumbledore is usually way higher.
  13. Vin Diesel in Fast and Furious
    This character went from charming in a very campy way in the first THE Fast and THE Furious to macho desperation in Fast and Furious.
  14. Hillary Swank in Amelia 
    No words, just pictures.
  15. Maggie Grace in Taken
    Maggie Grace (from Lost) is young and hot and a girl yet after watching this movie in which she plays a bubbly teen that gets kidnapped it is as if she has never been all three of these things. Okay only two, she’s still hot.
  16. Liv Shriver in X-Men: Origins
    The normally good Shriver takes all the teeth out of Sabertooth’s character. He’s just dull. I never thought I would miss the wrestler that played Sabertooth almost ten years ago but… here we are.
  17. Chris Pine in Star Trek.
    Capt. Kirk as a frat boy douchbag.
  18. Michael Jackson in This is It
    Oh, he wasn’t acting. Then what was he doing exactly?
  19. Leslie Mann in Funny People
    Ruined so many comedies that Mann has now earned the right to be called the Mia Farrow of this generation.
  20. Morgan Freeman in Invictus 
    Oh, come on people he was horrible in this tepid movie. I love Freeman, but this is not a good performance, it’s him talking slow, going on walks and staring off into a rugby field.

Most Overrated Film of the Year:
Avatar, followed very closely by Up. Avatar is the better movie (I still stand by my B-) but it’s shallow conventions and down right annoying moments get more and more apparent with every viewing. Up, however, was annoyign from the beginning and never looked back.

2008’s Worst Films (because I didn’t do one last year for some reason)

  1. Rachael Getting Married
    Audience Getting Fucked.
  2. Paranoid Park
    Gus Van Sant at his art houseiast worst. Meandering tone poem about blank teenagers that has all the feel and personality of an indie wax museum of people, places and events I would never want to see, go to or experience. GVS tries to pass the blankness as thoughtful reticence of youth but it’s really just bad, pardon non, pardon natural acting crippled by enabling directing. I love when the director meanders (Last Days and Gerry are modern classics) but with this film he wanders off the edge.
  3. Slumdog Millionaire
    The most overrated film of 2008 and the most overrated Best Picture winner since “Crash.” Almost every note the film hits is false. Cinematography, screenplay, music, acting and Danny Boyle’s lame use of style for the sake of style are all grating. I thought it would take a few years for this Oscar winning film to be forgotten but we’re pretty much at that point now. I don’t know if you got the memo but it’s officially not cool to say you like this film.
  4. Zach and Muri Make a Porno
    Another year another bad Kevin Smith movie. Kevin Smith: please go away. Not going anywhere, are you? Oh, you still have fans, good for you! Okay then just roll out Cop Out 2 and Clerks 3 and, fuck it, how about a Mallrats sequel. Smith is novelty director and the novelty wore off, oh, I’d say about fifteen years ago.
  5. The Reader
    To be honest I forgot why I hated this film so much in 2008 but rather than watching this prestige POS again I’m just going to go with my gut. Pretentious: yeah. Profound: no.
  6. Righteous Kill and 88 Minutes
    These two 2008 films from John Avnet are so bad that users in the wasteland that is the IMDB message boards are calling for his death. Ouch, but, gotta say… not completely out of line.
  7. Punisher: War Zone
    Hey, not all comic book movies in 2008 were happening. Some were just bad (Hulk 2-ish) and some, like Punisher, were just the worst. Just about the only thing this Punisher was able to kill effectively was any chance that they’ll ever make another Punisher movie again.
  8. Speed Racer
    Speed Racer is a beautiful film. Speed Racer is a horrible beatuiful film.
  9. Sex and the City
    To quote Jack Nicholson: SHUT UP!!!!!!!!! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP!
  10. Leatherheads
    Clooney, what happened? To build upon my “Up in the Air” mini-rant: For directing George Clooney in a rare bad movie, George Clooney can never be forgiven.

and let’s not forget…

Seven Pounds, Quantum of Solace, The Eye, Prince Caspian, The Mummy 3, Mirrors, The Bank Job,  the second half of Wall-E, Get Smart,  Harold and Kumar 2, Mamma Mia, Saw V and no doubt if I had been brave enough to watch The Love Guru and Fool’s Gold both would probably be on this list.