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2014 IN REVIEW: The Worst Movies of the Year

February 15, 2015 3 comments

The Purge: Anarchy - gangster

This 2014 in Review series is taking me a lot longer than I anticipated, but such is life and work. After this, we’ll be getting to my favorite films of the year, but before I do that, it’s time to pass judgment on some of the worst films released in 2014.

These are the movies that bored me, that angered me, that were so bad they left me bewildered as to how they even got released in the state they’re in. For your reference, this year I have also included the Rotten Tomatoes score for each movie. While I cannot say that the order I’ve placed them in is definitive, even for me, they are arranged roughly from worse to worst, ending with my pick for the #1 worst film of the year. I have more picks for 2014 than I ever have in the past, but it was a pretty easy and obvious pick, though some of you might be thinking of the movie I put in the #2 slot. I have my reasons why it went there and not at the top, but you’ll just have to read to find out.

Read more…

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2014 IN REVIEW: Everything in Between That I’ve Seen

February 7, 2015 1 comment

Under the Skin - Eye

Finally, we come to the films that I actually did see! As with the films I didn’t see, these films will come at you in three parts: the films that were just somewhere in the middle in terms of quality, the films I greatly disliked, and the films I really enjoyed.

I use those qualitative terms just to avoid confusion over what I’m ranking here. The films in this section range from generally bad to generally quite good, but never elevating to excellence or making me fall in love with them or making me hate them with a passion. That being said, I didn’t expect to like some of the films here as much as I ended up liking them, and, of course, I was letdown by others I actually was kind of looking forward to.

If you don’t see the movie here and didn’t see it in the list of films I didn’t see, then you can almost certainly be guaranteed to find them on one of my next two lists, as this is just a portion of the 121 total films I ended up seeing from 2014 as of this writing, whether in theatres, on DVD/Blu-Ray, or through streaming. Read more…

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REVIEW: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

October 22, 2014 3 comments
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet StreetDirected by: Tim Burton
Produced by: Richard D. Zanuck, John Logan, Walter F. Parkes, Laurie MacDonald
Written by: John Logan (screenplay)
Edited by: Chris Lebenzon
Cinematography by: Dariusz Wolksi
Music by: Stephen Sondheim
Starring: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, Ed Sanders, Jayne Wisener, Jamie Campbell
Bower, Laura Michelle Kelly, Sacha Baron Cohen
Based on the stage musical by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler and characters created by James Malcolm Rymer and Thomas Peckett Prest
Year: 2007

 

I haven’t seen it myself, but, given its large fanbase, I’d say that it’s a surprise that it took nearly 30 years for Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s 1979 musical to see a film adaptation released. Of course, considering that most of those years were pretty lacking in any non-animated musicals, this would have definitely been a misguided notion. And even if musicals were not considered the box office poison they were considered to be throughout the 80s and 90s (again, provided that you were not animated), then no doubt the very nature of Sweeney Todd would be enough to hold it back. It’s a grim, macabre musical that dares to shock audiences with its rampant and bloody violence, songs with swear words in them, and even a dark sense of humor largely built around some sneaky cannibalism on the main characters’ part. This is some dark material, and any adaptation during that time would have no doubt led to the film bombing and further sullying the idea that musical films have their place in this world. Luckily, fortune smiled upon musical film fans, as not only did the early 2000s provide studios with an unexpected small boom in that very market, with Moulin Rouge! and Chicago gaining both popular and critical acclaim (not to mention money), but the 80s and 90s also saw the rise in popularity in the one director who could conceivably adapt the play for film faithfully and still not have it bomb based solely on name recognition alone. I’m talking, of course, about Tim Burton. Read more…

2013 IN REVIEW: Neither the Best, Nor the Worst Films I Saw

February 1, 2014 2 comments

Elysium - Sharlto Copley and Alice Braga

I apparently watched a lot more movies in 2013 than I had realized… The films below represent not the worst, not the best, but certainly not always good, but also certainly not always bad movies that I saw in and from 2013. Only films released theatrically were counted, and film festival debuts did not count. Some of these films were truly great, others were truly awful, but none of them were seen fit to be placed in “the worst,” “the best,” nor “my favorite” categories. And so, they go here. Here are some of the films I watched in 2013, in order of release! Read more…

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2012 IN REVIEW – The Films I Didn’t See: May – August

January 19, 2013 3 comments

Men in Black 3 - Josh Brolin and Will Smith

Ah, summer — the time of tentpole blockbuster films that are meant to pad out the studios’ budgets for the next few months. I believe I saw most of the major films released during this period, at least at some point in the year, if not the theatre: The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-ManMen in Black 3, Battleship… Overall, it was a more than satisfying year for quality summer blockbusters that pleased both audiences and critics. … Well, probably not Battleship. That movie was awful.

Battleship - Alien ship. Yeah, I remember that from the boardgame.

With so many films that release in theatres that are best seen actually on the big screen, though, it was only inevitable that smaller and/or less interesting films fell by the wayside of my attention span. Critically acclaimed features like Beasts of the Southern Wild and Oslo, August 31st would get unfortunately lumped in with similarly ignored-by-me crap like Step Up Revolution and That’s My Boy this past summer, which isn’t a commentary on their quality as much as it is a reflection of my time and budgetary restrictions. (I subscribe to a number of rental services and still buy and go see movies in theatres, but I can only do so much and thus prioritize quality spectacle films usually over the quality comedies and dramas.)

So while I do believe I got the most out of my summertime viewings that I possibly could, let’s go over the films that I somehow managed to not see as of the time of this writing, for better or for worse. Read more…

2011 in Review: The Top 5 Worst Films I Saw

January 17, 2012 5 comments

Some would say that 2011 as a very disappointing year for film. While there were definitely fewer films that I wanted to see this past year than in years past, or at least ones that I was totally looking forward to, there was hardly a shortage of films that I did see and love, all the same.

But before I get to those films, we do have some filth to get out of the way, first. Though I try to avoid them at all costs, sometimes a bad film is just too hard to avoid, whether it’s because I saw them out of obligation to someone else or, as is the case with many of the films I saw this past year, I developed a case of morbid curiosity. Sometimes it paid off. Sometimes it didn’t. And while there were some films I did see from the past year were truly very poor ones, there were some that were just downright disappointments, too.

I’ve already gone through and told you about the films that I liked, and I already have a list of my favorite films of 2011 coming to you, as well, but before we do that, let’s get this out of the way, first.

Here is a definitive list of the Top 5 Worst Films I saw from 2011 that I did see, in ascending order from bad to worse to just absolutely awful…

5.  Gnomeo & Juliet (February 11)

As if this story weren’t retold enough, here comes Canadian animation studio Arc Productions’ gimmicky little collaboration with Disney, a comedic and decidedly un-tragic retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Honestly, it’s not a horrendous film and likely wouldn’t have made this list had I seen some of the more horrible-looking films this past year that I managed to avoid (which is why it’s at the bottom of this list); but Gnomeo & Juliet‘s biggest failing isn’t that it’s awful, but that it’s like that friend who cracks all those corny jokes all the time, who gets everyone laughing but only because, you know, they’re friendly enough and generally nice to have around, but you really can’t bear to hurt their feelings and tell them that they’re not as clever as they think. The title, though, should give you an idea of what kind of humor lies within the film — puns aplenty and a smearing of self-aware sensibility so heavy that you’d think the animators kind of knew they were making a rather bland film and decided to compensate for it. Read more…

2011 in Review: The Films I Liked

January 13, 2012 5 comments

As I stated many times over in my overviews of films I didn’t see in 2011, I was a pretty poor person this past year, which limited the number of films I could see in theatres. Luckily, I was able to make up for much of these missed showings through rentals.

Of the films I saw in 2011, few of them were truly bad films. A few were disappointing, many were just about as average as I expected, and a few turned out to be surprises. While none of the films on this list were truly awful in my eyes, not all of them were that remarkable either, with few exceptions. Before I tell you which films I considered to be the worst and which were my favorites, I am once again going to lead you through the year in review of the mostly average films that I actually did see throughout and from 2011 by the time I made this list.

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2011 in Review: Notable Films I Managed to Avoid, For Better or For Worse, October – December 2011

January 10, 2012 5 comments

<< Part 1 – January – April 2011

<< Part 2 – May – September 2011

Here it is — the final chapter of films I didn’t see in (or from) 2011. This time of year is usually considered the “Oscar season.” This doesn’t necessarily mean that there aren’t some blockbuster hits still spilling out of the summer months, avoiding much bigger blockbuster hits in favor of taking on films more serious and, presumably, meant for a different audience.

After all, October is Halloween month, and so we usually get a spat of horror films which have a reputation, justified or not, for being generally awful but widely seen films. Since the Saw franchise presumably ended last year with Saw 3D: The Final Chapter, making 2011 the first year without a theatrical Saw release since 2003, perhaps many would consider it refreshing that we got two horror film prequels this year with The Thing and Paranormal Activity 3, with The Human Centipede 2 inexplicably filling in the gap for necessary sequels. Strangely enough, no remakes of horror films. Just a remake of Footloose, which, depending on your perspective, might be scary enough. Zing!

Personally, this was also the time of year where I didn’t really go see any films in theatres at all, having to save up to go see family for Christmas and, thus, get by without pay for work by the end of the year. And Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol nearly made this list, had I not gone and seen it at a 9AM showing this past Sunday, which, technically was seeing the film in 2012, but it’s still a 2011 film and I wanted to have it on my favorite list, as I was certain it would be on there. I spent most of this time engrossing myself with films rented and streamed, as evidenced by my focus on getting to know more established horror films I hadn’t seen before in October and my Christmas movie reviews in December (with a lone Thanksgiving film, for good measure) as well as getting more familiar with my own personal, neglected movie collection once again. (I forgot how good most of the films I own are!)

Closing out the year, we seemed to have gotten a lot of Oscar bait that wasn’t necessarily as promising as previous years. No Black Swans. No True Grits. Even the usually reliable Clint Eastwood, having directed Oscar gold for so many years, was having a tough time this year. Like a second coming of summer, the films of fall/winter 2011 were largely big name releases seemingly missed the summer window in production. Not all of them were bad, and some were even brilliant, but ultimately this felt like a season where there were very few worthy contenders for Oscar gold. Luckily, this might just mean that the types of films being released are just being spread across the year now instead of being concentrated all at once. Ticket sales are supposedly dropping, and the studios are possibly experimenting with timing, but only time will tell if the coming years prove whether this theory of mine that I admit I just came up with holds any water. Read more…

Review: “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984)

October 16, 2011 16 comments
Directed by: Wes Craven
Produced by: Robert Shaye
Written by: Wes Craven
Starring: John Saxon, Ronee Blakley, Heather Langenkamp, Amanda Wyss, Nick Corri, Johnny Depp, Robert Englund
Music by: Charles Bernstein
Year: 1984

 

Take a look at those credits. Notice anyone familiar? Well, aside from horror master Wes Craven, who we’ve already met through his directorial debut, the infamous The Last House on the Left! No, it’s the second to last cast member. … Yup. There he is! Johnny Depp was young enough to play a teenager at the time this movie, his film debut, was made, playing the lead character’s boyfriend.

Seems like a strange way for such a prolific, well respected modern actor to make his debut, but, then again, Kevin Bacon showed up in a similar role in the earlier Friday the 13th, so, maybe not. It’s possibly a shame, then, that they never stuck Depp and Bacon together to fight the two monsters in their inevitable but long delayed Freddy vs. Jason crossover.

Instead, fans of the two rival series were treated to one of the members of Destiny’s Child trying to act and late comedian John Ritter’s son, Jason. What a waste.

Oh no! Now who will Tim Burton cast in his movies!?

Read more…

Review: “Sleepy Hollow”

October 12, 2011 4 comments
Director: Tim Burton
Produced by: Scott Rudin & Adam Schroeder, Francis Ford Coppola & Larry Franco (executive producers)
Written by: Kevin Yagher, Andrew Kevin Walker (also screenplay)
Starring: Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Casper Van Dien, Christopher Walken
Music: Danny Elfman
Based on: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
Year: 1999

 

It’s a sad fact that Tim Burton doesn’t seem to direct any more original stories. As of right now, the last time he helmed one of his own stories was Edward Scissorhands, a weird amalgamation of the themes of Frankenstein and Pinocchio but an original creation nonetheless. Read more…

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