Wednesday, January 14, 2009

13 Worst Films I Saw in 2008

Rather than calling this the "13 Worst Movies of 2008," I had to put in the "I Saw" caveat. There were a lot of films I avoided like the plague and since I'm not in the pocket of any major (or minor) studios, I wasn't about to plunk down my hard-earned cash on a lot of crap like The Happening, 88-Minutes, or any insipid romantic comedies. That said, here are my personal picks for the worst films I suffered through in 2008:

13. The Day the Earth Stood Still - Casting Keanu Reeves as a charmless alien was a stroke of genius. It's the role he was born to play. Otherwise, there's little other intelligent life to be found in this ill-conceived remake of the classic sci-fi film. Even worse than the lack of resolution to the lame "you'd better start recycling or the world will end" plot was the presence of Jaden Smith. Playing the bratty stepson of scientist Jennifer Connelly; I wanted to strangle this kid.

12. Appaloosa - It wasn't that bad of a film. I liked Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen quite a bit. However, this film was ruined by the character played by Renée Zellweger. She stuck out like a sore thumb and managed to ruin the overall viewing experience.

11. Seven Pounds - Melodramatic tripe made simply to garner tears and awards.

10. Diary of the Dead - Though I managed to see this one in 2007 at the Toronto International Film Festival, it didn't come out domestically until 2008. Bad timing brought it on the heels of Cloverfield, a superior shaky-cam film with some real thrills. Diary of the Dead looked like the kind of crappy zombie flick that would be lucky to merit a blurb in Fangoria. Alas, this flick was helmed by the maestro of the undead, George Romero. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. That this movie could make me suddenly find Land of the Dead a relatively innocuous film by comparison speaks volumes.

9. Alien Versus Predator: Requiem - This came out at the tail end of 2007, meaning that it missed out on topping a lot of "worst lists" of that year. Allow me to say that this flick managed to be horrible enough to hold over for both years. Pitting the two titular creatures in Small Town, USA should have been a rip-roaring good time but was slowed down to a crawl by the lukewarm script that never gained momentum. With enough life to fill a thimble, this blight on both the Alien and Predator franchises was a death dirge to fun sci-fi mayhem.

8. X-Files: I Want To Believe - Rather than continuing the mythology of the series, this tepid thriller was a two hour "filler episode" that was a disappointment to fans and casual observers alike. The overwrought Christian claptrap was only slightly less jaw-dropping than Dana Scully googling the medical procedure she performed. Pray that she's never your doctor.

7. Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Continuing to piss on the formerly good name of the Star Wars franchise, George Lucas greenlit this lame kiddie flick to kick off the floundering animated television series. I could only shake my head at the inanity of the rudimentary story and the depths to which George Lucas will go to make a buck.

6. Plastic City - Beating out The Mummy 3 as the worst Anthony Wong film of the year, Plastic City is a Brazilian crime drama with Wong as a crime lord. Sounds promising, right? Unfortunately, this flick is over-directed by Nelson Yu Lik-wai. He turns the proceedings into a long-winded art film that boggles the mind and numbs the posterior.

5. Burning Plain - A self-indulgent family drama from Guillermo Arriaga (writer of Babel), this flick has yet to get a U.S. release date. While some would contend that Hancock was the worst thing Charleze Theron was in during 2008, I contend that this was worse. The only thing going for this melodrama was the fractured time structure which only helps to muddy the waters of Burning Plain, making it appear deeper than it truly is.

4. Martyrs - While I dislike torture porn films, I think the French have cornered the market on making the worst of the lot. More than disgusting, Martyrs is trés pretentious and trés boring, perhaps even being the most extreme in these two areas.

3. Speed Racer - This film might have appealed to me if I were an 8-year old boy with ADHD. As it was, I felt like my eyeballs had been raped after I shuffled out of the theater.

2. The Films of Friedberg and Seltzer - We have a tie! It's impossible to say which flick is worse; Meet the Spartans or Disaster Movie since they're essentially the same film. These two movies by schlckmeisters Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer continue to follow their patented "every pop culture and movie reference plus the kitchen sink" formula of unfunny comedy. They've almost reached a level where they've managed to deconstruct comedy into its basic elements in order to remove all traces of funny.

1. The Love Guru - I didn't expect anything good when I stumbled upon this Mike Myers back alley abortion. I had heard how terrible this film was -- it even became something of an endurance test for the people around my office: "How far did you make it into The Love Guru?" was a test of manliness. As a point of pride, I made it to the end even if my stomach had wished I hadn't. Like watching a spoiled manchild undergoing self-therapy by parodying Deepak Chopra, this flick managed to be worse than The Cat in the Hat.

As for films that I liked in 2008, those were few and far between. The boffo box office blockbusters didn't do much for me. I enjoyed a number of films but my qualification for being the "best" meant that it was something I'd readily see a second time.

Of those, there are four: Iron Man, My Winnipeg, JCVD and My Name is Bruce.

Let's hope 2009 is a better year.

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