Monday, June 20, 2011

Cole's Most Hated Movies of 1998

I figured I should try a movie list to pull myself out of my recent funk since I pretty much always have some sort of idea in mind when it comes to listing films. The first thing that sprang to mind: abject hatred.

Last year I joined Shane in the tradition of listing my top five favourite films of the past year and plan to continue that. But Shane also follows up his favourite list with a most hated. I've shied away from that so far because since I started doing this, I've felt I hadn't seen enough movies from the year in question to do a truly worthwhile list. At best I would probably just be repeating what Shane had already said. But awhile ago it occurred to me that if I wanted to do a most hated movie list, there was no reason to just stick to the past year.

1998 was the year which brought us such cinematic excrement as SoldierSpecies II, Snake Eyes, and Legionnaire - none of which made my list (be afraid, be very afraid). So with that in mind, I present to you my most hated movies of 1998.

5. Lost In Space
I saw this one in theatres under sort of weird circumstances. Several of my friends and I had gone without having any plan in mind and when it seemed we decided on what movie to see (I can't remember what it was) my friend Ryan (not affiliated with Five-O-Rama) suddenly said he didn't want to see that. He said he'd rather see Lost In Space. Before everyone started arguing, I volunteered to go with him. It was a decision I would come to regret. Whatever the movie our other friends went to had to have been better than this piece of junk.

And it was such an expensive piece of junk! It had an eighty-million dollar budget and used the best special effects of the day. I don't know if the original 60's tv series was ever particularly popular but it seemed the movie's producers were definitely committed to making the film a success. Except that throwing a bunch of money into special effects isn't the recipe for a good movie. You need other things like well-defined, well-acted characters, good direction and editing and that little thing called a good STORY. Lost In Space failed spectacularly in all those areas casting bland actors (Matt Leblanc, anyone?) to play bland characters trudging through a boring and ridiculous series of events. Even the great Gary Oldman is horrible in this disaster.

While it was universally panned it still made a profit at the box office and was actually the movie to knock the mighty Titanic out of number one in North America. But I guess something eventually had to. Previews for the movie actually made it look half-decent with all its flashy effects. But years later I remember it sourly as one of the worst movies of 1998.

4. The Avengers
Believe it or not, I saw this travesty in theatres too. 1998 was certainly a banner year for me wasting money on cinematic trash.

I can't recall having any sort of expectations for The Avengers going in. I was only mildly aware of the show on which it was based (another series from the 60's) and I don't remember ever being impressed by its previews. It's most likely that we just chose to see it for the sake of seeing something at the theatre. It had Sean Connery as the villain - it couldn't be that bad, right?

Wrong. What a mess this movie was. I mean, I usually have excellent recall when it comes to film but I can't remember anything substantial about The Avengers except that it was goddamned terrible. I understand that the original series had certain elements that made it very hip and stylish especially to a North American audience because it was so inherently British. Well, this film was made principally by Americans and it sure showed. It was clumsy, over the top and anything but cool. The plot was like something out of the most forgettable of Saturday morning cartoons - an evil mastermind betrays his government and schemes to TAKE OVER THE WORLD using a ridiculous weather-controlling machine.

Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman played agents Steed and Peel and both managed to leave absolutely no impression whatsoever. I mean it. I can't remember a single line of dialogue from either of them. Connery must have been drunk or high on his medication or something when he took the role of Sir August de Wynter and it definitely carries over into his performance. Seriously, check this shit out:

This one was a huge box office failure, grossing only $43 million against its $60 million budget. And it cleaned up at the Golden Raspberrys too, earning nine nominations (including worst actor, actress and supporting actor for the three leads and worst director) and taking home the award for Worst Remake or Sequel.

The whole movie is mercifully only 89 minutes long, as a substantial amount of stuff was cut out in editing which helped render it even more choppy and confusing. Maybe someday they'll have another go at an Avengers movie - it couldn't possibly be worse than this one.

3. A Night at the Roxbury

I saw this one when my poor ignorant parents rented it. I have no idea what drew them to it since they were in no way aware of the vapid SNL sketch on which it is based. At the time, I wasn't either actually. I hadn't watched the show for over two years and I wasn't familiar with most of the cast members. The names Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan meant absolutely nothing to me.

And if first impressions truly were everything, I probably would believe there's a special place in hell for those two because of that movie. Thankfully the two, particularly Ferrell, would go on to show they actually had some talent and could put it towards worthwhile things. But after seeing A Night at the Roxbury I could only conclude that I was absolutely right in my abandonment of SNL. This was a movie only in the loosest sense of the word.

Question: How can you possibly make a decent movie that's based  entirely around an inane sketch featuring two losers dancing in a night club?

Answer: You can't. But you can make A Night at the Roxbury and give millions of people simultaneous headaches and bouts of indigestion leading to outbursts of profanity and violence.

The film features crappy acting, ridiculous dialogue and a slapped together series of events trying to pass for a story all accompanied by one of the most aggravating soundtracks of all time. Luckily, SNL selected John Fortenberry, director of the cinematic masterpiece known as Jury Duty to take the helm. Somehow, all these elements combined to make a movie that totally sucked. The world's leading movie scientists still toil even today to determine what could have gone wrong.

2. The Patriot
You know, I thought the 2000 Mel Gibson movie The Patriot was pretty lame. It came across as yet another movie that takes American history and tries to turn it into the greatest story ever told filled with amazing heroic Americans fighting against vile, despicable forces. But compared to this Steven Seagal direct to video (his first) diarrhea , it's Citizen fucking Kane.

Now I know that Seagal isn't exactly known for fine cinema. I also know that direct to video very rarely equals anything close to good. So it may seem like I'm picking on a movie that doesn't really deserve it. Well, to that I say this: in even the worst crap that Seagal has made, it's reasonable to expect some decent action. Even in his prime, his fighting style is pretty slow and mechanical but it could still be made to look somewhat cool. And it's not like he was completely over the hill in 1998. But none of that actually matters because there is about as much action in this movie as there is lesbian sex in E.T..

But the movie does feature Seagal killing plenty of soldiers. Confused? Allow me to explain. He plays a doctor (who of course is also a weapons and self-defence specialist) trying to combat a  deadly virus released by a rogue militia. These geniuses realize that the vaccine they have for the virus doesn't actually work and now they're at risk too. Seagal is kidnapped and forced to come up with a working vaccine. But he can't seem to figure it out. Thus we get scene after scene of Seagal frowning over some beakers and shit then injecting sick soldiers, frowning some more as time passes, then REALLY frowning as he covers the now dead soldier with a sheet.

Eventually he discovers that some Native American herbal remedy is the answer. Some more junk happens, roll credits.

If you're wondering why I ever sat through this entire snoozefest it's because I kept telling myself that the action was going to start any minute now. And yes, before the end, he does kick and throw a few people but it's barely anything. It's easy to see why this didn't get a theatrical release considering Seagal was indulging his stupid desire to show how awesome and wise Native Americans are rather than just giving us what we want; that is, him killing lots of people. Although I have to say that watching him kill soldier after soldier by ineffectually trying to cure them is pretty amusing.

1. Pi
Unlike the rest of the movies on this list, this is one that actually has a good reputation. It holds down solid ratings on imdb and Rotten Tomatoes and has received some critical acclaim. It's Darren Aronofsky's directorial debut (he also wrote it) and of course he has gone on to be a very accomplished and respected director.

But....I....HATE Pi. I hate it. It doesn't just bore me, it unsettles me. It somehow makes me uncomfortable. Really, I hate to disappoint you and not really deliver with my number one but I just don't know what to say about this movie. I can't offer any valid arguments for why you should think it's a bad movie. I can't elucidate my thoughts into anything that would make a compelling case. I just know that I truly hate this movie. I hate everything about it: its concept, its look, its flow, its conclusion. Everything. I know it's regarded as an intelligent film but I remember actually feeling dumber after seeing it. I guess i just didn't "get it".

And you know what? I'm comfortable with that. Pi sucks. It sucks like a fucking vacuum cleaner in a black hole and it's the worst movie of 1998, period.


kingshearte said...

"... there is about as much action in this movie as there is lesbian sex in E.T.."

This must be one of the most sublimely random comparisons ever. I love it.

Shane said...

I just know there's a glowing finger joke here...

Cole D'Arc said...

thankyou. my hatred always brings out the best in me.

orc145626 said...

cool list Cole

Shane said...

Fine list, sir. I agree with every choice. It seems '98 was a bad year for turning TV material into feature length films. Will people never learn?

I remember renting The Avengers with the last of some birthday money and being so furious that I had wasted time and money on that piece of garbage.

I also hate Pi very very much. I guess because it was just boring. People act like it's deep and meaningful, but it feels empty and stupid. The ending pissed me off too.

French Toast Sunday said...

Someone was describing the plot of The Patriot to me just the other day, hilarious! And thank you for listing Pi!! It's comforting to know I'm not the only one out there that truly hated it.
- Lindsay

Cole D'Arc said...

lindsay> thanks. providing comfort is just one of the many functions of five-o-rama.

Ryan said...

Excellent list!

We always talk about Lost In Space and you seem to remember that just you and Ryan went to see it, but I also saw it in theatre, so I assume I must have gone with the two of you. I remember vividly that there was dispute on what to see, but I must have sided with you two in the argument.

I also saw The Avengers in theatres. Want to know who's idea it was? Ryan's! That guy always picked awful movies. He's also the reason I saw another horrible SNL movie. The name eludes me, but it starred Sister Mary Catherine, ugh.

As for Pi, I've never watched it. Just didn't seem like it would appeal to me. Of course Matthew loves it (but he has a thing for Aronofsky no matter what), but I've never cared to give it a gander.

Shane said...

The SNL movie was "Superstar". I'm sad to have seen it too. Though not in theatres.