I’m not in the habit of seeing craptastic films. When I go to the movies I carefully scour Rotten Tomatoes to ensure I won’t be disappointed. I’m also not yet in a comfortable position to recap the best films of the year, as I haven’t yet seen True Grit or 127 Hours – a feat I hope to reverse this weekend.
With that in mind, I present for you not a list of the worst films of the year, but simply the ones that made me question the veracity of Rotten Tomatoes.
I have only the harshest words for this one, the only film on this list that is a monolithically bad film. Directed by Hangover helmer Todd Phillips, this story of an architect trying to get across the United States in time for the birth of his child was made so hastily that it forgot to be funny. Two funny scenes in the entire film are both highlighted in the film’s trailer and Zach Galifianakis’s character, an eccentric actor, provides nothing to redeem it. Pic also breaks the cardinal rule of cinema – don’t bring a gun to the show unless you intend to use it. In this case the writers introduce a small bulldog, a device with so much comic potential, and find nothing to do with it.
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
After seeing the outstanding documentary Inside Job at the Vancouver International Film Festival, it is perhaps unfair for me to judge Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, a film that had the potential to really savage the bastards that inflated, collapsed, then profited off a broken economy. Director Oliver Stone takes a different tack, showing that the American lust for money has forced people to neglect personal relationships, and it isn’t for that that I’m faulting him. It’s that a film that opens with fire peters out three-quarters of the way through. A confounding scene of a meeting of the world’s bankers with Treasury officials begging for a government handout is the film’s high point and then it just all comes crashing down in a vain attempt to turn a potential thriller into a bland family melodrama. Stone finds some very easy answers in a denouement better suited to a TV movie than a chronicle of the biggest shakedown of our time.
Never Let Me Go
Who goes to the movies to see a film you could watch on a plane? Me, apparently, making the poor decision to see Mark Romanek’s Never Let Me Go, the adaptation of a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro that simply must be better than its filmic adaptation. The premise is compelling enough: students at an austere private school are raised to have their organs harvested and handed over to medical patients with terminal illnesses. Too bad they forgot to make us care about the kids, for whom you feel as deeply as you would the idiot teenager who runs upstairs and gets his organs slashed up in a horror movie. Carey Mulligan does her best to elevate the material above the doldrums but Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield are woefully ineffective in supporting roles. Pretty photography can never mask a film that doesn’t have a heart beating in its chest.
The Girl Who Played with Fire
Again, not a terrible film on its own, but a disappointing one given the heat and tension built up in its predecessor, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The sequel expands a bit on why Lisbeth Salander is the way she is but it adopts a flat, two-dimensional style better suited to a B-Grade television drama than a serial. It just never takes off. The film is, however, good for one thing – it gives you hope that the American adaptation of this sequel could top its source material.
Clash of the Titans
My eye condition prevents me from appreciating a 3D film, but I doubt that could have saved this, a paltry adaptation of the Ray Harryhausen classic. As Perseus, Sam Worthington seems to take a step back in his acting ability, hamming it up with a permanently constipated expression and a smoker’s voice that makes it impossible to take seriously anything he does. Special effects should be the saviour here, but they too fall short of the mark. Computer-generated Medusa looks like something a high school student could fashion in a CAD lab and the gods are nothing but classical actors in bed sheets gleaming in a camera lens slathered with vaseline. The film cleverly capitalized on an early film season void of choice offerings and has thankfully fallen into obscurity ever since.