Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Shane's Most Hated Movies of 2008

Well, since I've established the movies I enjoyed from this year, it's time to find out what I thought was God awful. Spoiler alert and whatnot.

5. Doomsday
Had I known when I was about to watch this movie that it's basically a jumbled bunch of bullshit I probably would have tolerated it more. As it stands, I was overall unimpressed by this hodgepodge of movies themes and cliches.

The movie is about a killer plague that breaks out and forces Great Britain to wall off the infected area to save the rest of society. Thirty years later the virus resurfaces and the government deploys a crack team of specialists into the quarantined area to search for a possible cure. It sounds interesting, but it basically feels like every post-apocalyptic movie I've seen. It rips off movies like 28 Days Later, Resident Evil, Escape from New York, The Running Man, Underworld, Gladiator, and the Mad Max trilogy most of all. Some would say that it's an homage to these films, and I say it's not much of an homage if it doesn't claim its own identity and feels like a cluster of films edited together. It starts off as a virus apocalypse, then a futuristic zombie film, then an 80's wasteland film complete with rebel punks in asinine make-up and outfits, next it becomes a hokey medieval flick complete with castle and an unfair battle for freedom against a huge gladiator-style opponent, then they wrap it up with a Road Warrior desert highway chase. Admittedly, it has its moments of ridiculous stunts and gore, and in the right company it could be entertaining to watch and laugh about, but in the end some amount of originality would have been nice.

4. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
Yet another example that Hollywood will eventually destroy everything you love. And I really do love the first Mummy film; I loved the characters, the story, the setting, the villain, the action, the hammy dialogue, and the special effects. It was all good, well-balanced fun. Then the second film came along and some of the original magic was captured again, but ultimately it was a lesser experience.

Now, the third film is out and it turned out to be as big a cash-in as I had feared. I gave it a chance, and I was willing to forgive the film for not technically having an actually mummy, and that O'Connell's son looks like his younger brother. But I can't forgive the movie for not having Rachel Weisz (thought I respect her for being smart enough to avoid this), and for taking place in China, and including horrendously bad cgi three-headed dragons, and yetis. Goddamn yetis! Brendan Fraser looked impossibly bored with the film and the acting was crap.

I would summarize the plot for you, but I've forgotten most of it. Just know that an evil force is resurrected mistakenly, a yeti kicks a field goal, Rick O'Connell yells at things, his brother in law forgets that he's the comic relief, the world is saved in some convenient way, and you'll wish you had not wasted 90 minutes of your life.

3. Jumper
For me a bad movie is defined more by its wasted potential, because even some of the worst films ever can be entertaining to watch and mock. Jumper is about David Rice, a guy who can teleport anywhere he wishes with just a though. That's a cool power to have. The film follows Rice as he discovers that he is not alone in his gift, and that "Jumpers" are being hunted by "Paladins", and have been for hundreds of years. That sounds like an interesting setup for some epic battles and chases. Wrong! It's actually an excuse for a long and boring backstory for Rice, followed by his boring pursuit of a girl he likes.

Any entertaining action bits are kept to a minimum, and even the film ends as if they want to kick off a series about this. It's like they're teasing us with what's to come. Problem is, I don't give a shit about the characters at all ... at all! Rice is played by Hayden Christensen (whom I would describe as a personality black hole), and is just awful as the lead; his character spends most of the time being a boring ass mooch on society. He has a crush on some girl, thought it's hard to tell since he has the acting range of a waste bin, and when we get to know her we find that she is also completely uninteresting.

The movie is only 88 minutes, and still there were long stretches of nothingness for me to wonder, "When is something fun gonna happen!?". Sadly when the action does pick up, it's disorienting or brief. The best way I can think to improve the film would be to replace Hayden Christensen with someone with more charisma, such as a mannequin glued to a Segway, and then replace all the jumping bits with Nightcrawler's scenes from X-Men 2.

2. College
This movie is not only a terrible sexy teen romp movie, it's a disgrace to comedy in general. It's about some guy named Kevin and his moronic friends who decide to visit a college to find out what college is like and to have a drunken good time. You know how movies (comedies mostly) for the last 30 years or so have depicted college life as an endless party of sex and shenanigans? Well this film pushes that cliche to the edge of human reason, as the three friends sail off in a sea of booze, tits, and disgusting fraternity hazing.

This film is not funny in any way. It's mostly offensive and stupid. In fact, every moment Kevin's fat friend, Carter, was on screen, I wanted to strangle him. I'm going to stop here because the more I think about this movie, the more I can feel my blood pressure rising.

1. The Happening
Once again M. Night Shyamalan got me. He got me with The Village, Lady in the Water, and now this. I really enjoy his earlier work, but lately every film he makes draws me in and then disappoints me, confuses me, or just plain infuriates me.

This movie is about a weird global crisis that makes people kill themselves, and so the film follows a high school teacher (Mark Wahlberg), his family and others as they flee for their lives and try to figure out why this is happening. Even thinking about the plot now, I'm intrigued. If I put myself in the shoes of the characters, it would be terrifying. But it's such a vague premise! People are committing suicide because of something? So...why? Well, I'm gonna ruin it for everyone...it's the trees! Nature is threatened by us and trees are releasing stuff into the air and it causes people to off themselves. What?! Well here's another great movie idea: What if all of a sudden peoples' hair turned into poison? Or for no reason when people drank water their arms and legs fell off? Or ... to quote Freakazoid ... what if suddenly all the air in the world turned to wood!!?

In films like Signs and The Village, Shyamalan would avoid showing us the monster or threat to build suspense and terror, but in this movie it feels stupid and cheap. You have characters talking about and looking at shocking things that are happening off-screen that you can't see. At one point Wahlberg and some survivors are running away from the wind. That doesn't even make sense! Either the film is deliberately not showing you what's scary, or there's nothing to show. And when people are killing themselves in the movie, they do it like robots committing suicide. Sure, that's strange, but if people were doing these things and realized they were doing it, but couldn't stop themselves, then that is terrifying. That sort of thing gets a gut reaction.

This movie took every opportunity to be scary, shocking, and entertaining and flushed it down the toilet. In the end the crisis was ridiculous, the acting and dialogue was cringeworthy, and the movie as a whole was painfully disappointing. It's my fondest wish that someday someone will remake this film scene for scene in a balls out, splatter-fest of over-the-top gore. And I hope they call it It's Really Happening ... or Happen!: The Happening.


Cole D'Arc said...

I have seen none of these films. I was just waiting for the Freakazoid quote - that's about as good as Shamylan's "plots" get these days. Can't wait for the next one he cooks up.

Shane said...

Haven't seen any of these films? Then you, sir, are blessed.

RyHo said...

I haven't seen College or The Happening, and I can understand your gripes on Jumper and Mummy 3, but I just can't get behind all the Doomsday hating.

I guess I went in not caring what I saw and just enjoyed watching a balls out stupid film. It is a ripoff of all those things, but I like all of them, so I got a kick out of it. I mean, the chick had a robotic super eye!

Oh, and Shyamalan needs to stop writing and give a script to any of the fine gents here. He can make the films, he's just gotta stop over-writing them.

Shane said...

Looking back, I guess I was a tad hard on Doomsday, but I still feel it could have been better. I had no knowledge or expectations for it when I saw it, but still I felt put off by it. It's one of life's mysteries.

Also, if I had been able to extend the list more, I would have included the likes of "The Love Guru" and "You Don't Mess with the Zohan". Two attempts at comedy that I would call abysmal.

Cole D'Arc said...

Having just now seen Doomsday (credits are rolling as i type), i'm gonna have to agree with Shane on this one. Once it shifted into fucking Robin Hood I couldn't take it anymore.

Cole D'Arc said...

and now i have also seen Love Guru. i was expecting far worse, really. but it was still bad. i can forgive it since it shows the Leafs winning the Stanley Cup.