It might only be the third weekend of January, but the new horror flick Mama is already in the running for worst film of the year. These type of children obsessed ghost stories (dating back to The Ring) are a dime a dozen, and they are usually awful but harmless. Mama, on the other hand, refuses to rest on its clichéd laurels, and instead defies all logic and genre conventions to deliver not one, but two, overly convoluted (and downright stupid) back-stories to explain its improbable tale. Which isn’t to say the film (if it can even be called a film) doesn’t shove every cliché down our throat from the creepy kid (times two!) to the insane-for-no-reason-other-than-the-plot-mother to the weird-noise-making-bending-backwards-ghost.
Sea…Sex…and Blood…in 3D. And you thought this would be a good idea to bring your seven-year old son to see this? Yup, that’s right, America…some genius brought his kid in to see Piranha 3D on a Tuesday night. And get this…he didn’t walk out of the theater until the Eli Roth lead wet t-shirt contest about half way through after we already witnessed some gnarly fish attacks and two babes do an underwater ballet in the buff. At least the father finally realized his idiocy…but, man…that seven year-old must have had the time of his life up until that moment. I imagine the father was recently divorced, and he had the kid for the last week of summer and thought, hey, I saw that Piranha movie when I was a kid, and I loved it and turned out just fine! What a great opportunity to bond with junior! Ah, the best laid plans of clueless parents…
But, I digress. Sacre bleu, Alexandre Aja…what in Elizabeth Shue have you gotten into here? Continue reading
Twas the stars and my Netflix queue aligned this weekend as the Hurri-Rain-Pocalypse pimp-slapped the East Coast (thanks El Nino!) and delivered to my mailbox were no less than three monumentally bad movies to pass the time as flood waters receded. One of these films was so awful, it reached that rarified pantheon where film buffs bestow upon special movies the title of “So Bad it’s Good.” In fact, I dare say, it might be the perfect “Bad Movie” and one that had me entertained and laughing for its entire 2 hour 38 minute run time. Good Citizens of Filmlandia …I give you…Roland Emmerich’s DUN-DUN-DUH 2012!
2012: Every German director has their fetish. Continue reading
Don’t Be Taken for a Fool, 3 February 2009
Author: David H. Schleicher from New Jersey, USA
And now producer/writer Luc Besson and director Pierre Morel present the comedy event of the year!
Here’s the pitch: Two spoiled obnoxious teenage girls from California go to France and get kidnapped by a group of Albanians trafficking dumb tourists into sex slavery to the highest bidders–and you guessed it, one of those high bidders is a Middle Eastern sheik. But oh yeah, did I mention one of those girl’s fathers just happens to be a retired Jack Bauer-style super-spy who’s about reign down a sh*t-storm on the streets of Paris in order to rescue his idiot daughter? And guess what–it’s Liam Neeson!
Yes, there is a bit of a novelty factor in watching the guy who played Oskar Schindler go against type and get crazy on these moronic dirt-bags. And gosh darn it, Liam does his best with the role. I can’t remember the last time a film was sold to the American public entirely on the sound of one man’s voice reading dialog. He alone makes the otherwise unbearable film watchable. However, let’s be honest. As much fun as it is to watch Liam Neeson outrun a speeding car or electrocute some guy or kill a dude with a broken bottle, Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino was a far better and more refined example of grizzled old guy “badassery”, and it was a hell of a lot funnier, and fancy that, had a moral.
What we have here in Taken is tone deaf French filmmakers sticking their nose up at Americans and spreading xenophobia abroad. I’m pretty sure they thought there were making a slick black comedy that no American would see through. Had they manifested this with a harder edge or more overtly satirical tone, they might’ve been on to something. Instead we get a second-rate episode of “24″ watered down by a PG-13 rating that takes away any possibility of entertainment on even an exploitative level.
Bottom line: Don’t be fooled by Liam Neeson’s voice. He commanded our attention in the teaser trailers, but this should be film not taken.
CAPTION: Keanu Reeves wonders if he stares at this sphere long enough, will this movie disappear?
The Day the Audience Shrugged Their Shoulders, 14 December 2008
Author: David H. Schleicher from New Jersey, USA
The Day the Earth Stood Still is a stunningly inept remake of the 1950′s classic of the same name. It’s one of those big-budget films so unfathomably dull and inane, you wonder how it ever got made. Whereas the original warned of the dangers of nuclear armament, this modern update boldly chides us for being mean to each other and not taking care of the environment. Gee, Hollywood, thanks for the swell insight! This Christmas season Hollywood teaches us that people can sometimes suck, but only that special kind of film can suck totally.
Although the entire production is horrible from top to bottom, the inert direction of Scott Derrickson and the randomly asinine script from David Scarpa bear most of the blame. The screenplay clearly went through arbitrary rewrites, perhaps after being focus-grouped to death, and shows not a single breath of imagination. Around every turn, it wastes opportunities and insults the intelligence of the audience and gives us not one authentic character or moment to connect to. Even when it thinks it’s being cool (like the lame reveal that those alien spheres are actually “arks” trying to save animal life before the world is annihilated) the script fails miserably. One sphere that is shown on the back of a pick-up truck being attacked by flame-throwers in some foreign desert town inexplicably contains squid, because, well, the shadows of squid inside a giant sphere look kinda neat, that’s why! At least the script teaches us one thing. Apparently all you need to do in order to survive an apocalyptic robotic alien insect attack that devours everything in sight is to hide under a bridge in Central Park!
The saddest part of the film is how the director wastes his talented cast. The always wooden Keanu Reeves was perfectly chosen to play the alien Klaatu, but even he seems to be disbelieving the words that are coming out of his mouth. Poor Jennifer Connelly, an immensely emotive and alluring actress, appears to be in physical pain or constipated for most the film, obviously stunned she agreed to star in this junk. Kathy Bates and John Cleese apparently showed up only for their paychecks and sleepwalk through their lines, and at one pivotal moment where Bates’ Secretary of State attempts to show regret for some bad decisions made, she actually appears to fall asleep in her chair. And then there’s poor little Jaden Smith, who appears bored to tears throughout the film and is given no direction from Derrickson except when he is asked to cry on cue in the supposed emotional climax of the picture that left me feeling sorry for all involved.
However, if anyone should be hung for this travesty, it’s the producers, who must’ve run out of money at some point and filled the gap in funds with some nauseating product placement. How else do we explain Klaatu’s trip to McDonald’s for an important meeting with another of his kind?
The Day the Earth Stood Still is easily the worst film of the year. At least The Happening had its accidentally humorous moments. This clunker offers no such relief. Even the special effects are done in a lazy and unimaginative manner. It’s so awful, I was stunned into stillness while the rest of the audience seemed to shrug their shoulders.
Originally Posted on the Internet Movie Database:
CAPTION: Run, run away from the bad director.
My Mood Ring Indicates Laughter, 17 June 2008
Author: David H. Schleicher from New Jersey, USA
Some mysterious “event” causes people in the Northeast to start killing themselves (loved the Philadelphia Zoo scene!) and forces an unhappy couple (Mark Whalberg and Zooey Deschanel) to work on their marriage problems lest they die. The audience is put on the ground level as people react in different ways to the impending doom and the need to escape creates heightened paranoia. The half-decent set-up combined with an unintentionally funny screenplay make M. Night Shyamalan’s eco-disaster flick The Happening the most entertaining bad movie you’ll see all year.
Shyamalan has developed into a truly unique breed of director over the past decade. He’s capable of crafting a decent thriller (The Sixth Sense) but he’s also been responsible for one the worst films ever made (Signs) and some of the dumbest movies I have ever seen (Wide Awake and Lady in the Water). Whereas his tactics in Signs made me angry, I noticed something in Lady in the Water that gave me a perverse sense of hope. That film was so bad, it was almost good. With The Happening, Shyamalan has finally crossed that threshold, and he’s done it without irony or camp. He takes himself dead seriously, and he’s crafted the crap in The Happening beautifully. Special nods go to cinematographer Tak Fujimoto (who has become the premier photographer of trees and grass blowing in the wind) and James Newton Howard’s excellent film score.
In Shyamalan’s “Twilight Zone” universe, the scenes meant to be suspenseful or scary are instead hilarious, the moments meant to be emotional become banal, and the lines meant to be funny fall completely flat. The dialog in The Happening is so bad I think the academy should go back and take away his best screenplay nomination for The Sixth Sense. Watching poor Mark Whalberg (completely unbelievable as a science teacher who figures out what is happening) give what is possibly the worst performance of the last ten years makes you wonder how Shyamalan was ever able to direct Toni Collette and Haley Joel Osment to Oscar nods. Shyamalan leaves his cast, like the plants in the film, to blow in the wind without giving them a single helpful direction.
Despite all this, I have to admit I loved every stupid piece of this movie from Zooey Deschanel’s high-as-a-kite performance to the mood ring to Mark Whalberg talking to a potted plant to the crazy old lady in the woods to the people walking backwards. Shyamalan has performed a miracle by finally crafting another film that is suspenseful, but in all the wrong ways. When I wasn’t busy laughing, I was on the edge of my seat wondering when the film would finally dive off the deep end into complete idiocy, and it did in that “rifle” scene on the porch of the boarded-up house. Unlike an Uwe Boll who never showed a lick of talent, or a Michael Bay who has some technical skills but edits his films to the point of being unwatchable, Shyamalan has become an awful director whose films are completely watchable…and dare I say it…enjoyable.
Originally Published on the Internet Movie Database: