Yesterday, when I listed the five best movies of the year so far, I also said that this year has been incredibly bad for movies overall. So here we are, with a look at the worst. For the five singled out here, I’ve probably left out a dozen (or more!). Just think of it this way: I saw these movies so you didn’t have to. That’ll make both of us feel better. Read on, for the worst of the worst (so far)…
‘Cop Out‘ (Kevin Smith, USA) – This is a movie for which the phrase “career nadir” was devised. Warner Bros., in all its infinite wisdom, thought that it’d be a good idea to hire Kevin Smith, a director who barely moves the camera, to direct a high octane action comedy. The results, predictably, are awful. Smith is a talented writer and less-than-talented director. All of his shortcomings are amplified and intensified by the fact that this script is so lousy. When Sean William-Scott, playing a petty thief, is the best part of your movie (that also stars people like Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan), well, you know you’ve got problems. This movie is so bad that for the last half hour or so, I stood at the back of the theater alone, so that I would be sure to leave the second it was over. Embarassing.
‘Clash of the Titans‘ (Louis Letterier, USA) – You know what’s a really good way to run the 3-D craze straight into the ground? With muddy, last-minute 3-D conversions, like the kind that took place for ‘Clash of the Titans.’ The movie is utterly awful to begin with. It has a choppy narrative that seems to have been revised numerous times, on the fly, during different stages of production and editing. Why, for instance, would you hire so many big name actors to play the gods and then not show them at all? Anyway, a bad movie became a worse movie when, after the success of ‘Avatar,’ the studio (again: Warner Bros.) decided to turn it into 3-D. The results are absolute trash. A movie like ‘Alice in Wonderland‘ wasn’t shot in 3-D, but at least had a 3-D technician on-set and had 3-D in mind when the shots were composed. For ‘Clash of the Titans,’ nobody even considered 3-D until months after the film was completed. The results are shaky, unfocused blobs that show marginal depth but not much else. (And the paper-thin plotting certainly doesn’t help matters.) I’m no fan of 3-D, and even less of a fan when it’s executed like this.
‘A Nightmare on Elm Street‘ (Samuel Bayer, USA) – To me, it says something when a director viewed as a music video prodigy back in the early 1990s, responsible for zeitgeist-capturing moments like Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” doesn’t direct his first feature-length film until 2010. It probably means he’s a disagreeable jerk or a talentless hack, or probably both. That’s certainly the case with Bayer, who constantly clashed on-set with producer Michael Bay. Bay may not exactly be Antonioni, but he at least knows what makes for sturdy popcorn entertainment. Trust me, brother, this ain’t it. A cast full of no-name, mumbly young actors can’t convince us that the tepid dream sequences and telegraphed scares are anything more than the crassest of commercial cash-ins. Why they would choose to rejuvenate a franchise that even in its lesser sequels was defined by its creativity in the most humdrum way imaginable is just beyond dumb. Kind of like the movie that resulted.
‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo‘ / ‘The Girl Who Played With Fire‘ (Niel Arden Oplev, Daniel Alfredson, Germany, Sweden, Denmark) – Just so you don’t think I reserve my vitriol for slickly produced Hollywood movies, I can also bash crummy European movies just as easily. The fact that these movies (and books) are worldwide phenomenons makes things even more baffling. People that compare them to the ‘Silence of the Lambs’ are just out-and-out high. Melodrama meets pulp thriller mechanics in an ungodly collision of European art house and American supsense. The results are less than the sum of their parts.