2010 Film Review: 10 Worst Movies

Academy members tend to maintain a high standard when going to the movies; this has traditionally prevented us from many unsavory experiences. But as the regular cinemagoer knows well, ‘Curiosity kills the cat’ when there’s always the odd turkey waiting to jump our protection walls. Last springtime and summer the films on offer seemed to be mainly shabby sequels, remakes and not so impressive 3D flicks, aimed at charging the audience a few bucks more, rather than to continue with the all-conquering revolution hailed when ‘Avatar’ began the new three-dimensional system. This state of affairs allowed waves of desperation kicking in, lowering our defenses and giving a chance to some films we would have otherwise never dreamed of watching.

We still managed however to avoid vampire fatigue by ignoring ‘Twilight’ and the look-alikes it has spawned. We also missed new king of trash M. Night Shyamalan, whose career carried on a downward spiral and faithfully gave us not one but two critically panned works; ‘The Last Airbender’ and ‘Devil’. Jennifer Aniston; Julia Roberts and the return of J-Lo kept on turning romantic comedy into two unspeakable words. And their counterparts Gerard Butler; Nicholas Cage and Denzel Washington did the same for the much maligned action genre. Luckily, we didn’t watch any of those; but we are sure they would have easily rivaled in poor quality and creative anemia any of the titles we did see.

Read on for our 10 worst cinematic experiences of 2010.

Gaspar Noé

Specialist agent provocateur Noé has taken his time to follow-up his former work ‘Irreversible’, which put him into the festival map thanks the controversy generated by its very graphic nine minute rape scene; apparently the longest, crudest ever taken to the big screen. He must have thought carefully how to beat that up; coming up with this visualization of the effects of psychedelic drugs, set in the backdrop of Tokyo’s seedy underworld with plenty of kaleidoscopic effects filling the screen and often replacing anything resembling a cohesive narrative. Impressive in its form, but empty in substance, ‘Enter The Void’ is perfect hipster’s fodder; but it transforms the cheap thrills of the drug and crime related lifestyle it depicts into one of the most tedious experiences we have endured recently. Void indeed.

Jon Favreau

A couple of years ago we were praising ‘Iron Man’ as a model for comic adaptation, with its perfect use of an impressive all-star cast; superb script and engaging visuals. That’s why we couldn’t really figure out what went wrong in this awaited follow-up that began well with Robert Downey, Jr.’s central character in top shape to shortly fall into his more gimmicky and exaggerated manner; whereas the movie’s plot landed in Transformers territory; machines, explosions and effects coming in the way of a decent storyline. Not even Mickey Rourke as the new villain could help much. It all became just another solid argument in the everlasting case against sequels.

Adam McKay

On paper, it looked like a potential smash. Will Ferrell reunited with the director of cult classic ‘Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy’ and teaming up with Mark Wahlberg for this story of a couple of clumsy office policemen, involved by chance in a case of corporate corruption. An attempt to mock the action cop stereotypes used and abused by mainstream Hollywood, it was based on good idea left half-baked due to the lack of funny moments – the good gags were barely enough fill the two minutes of its trailer – leaving the whole movie as a bland and predictable affair. The tepid results may be one the reasons why Ferrell has ventured into drama on the forthcoming Raymond Carver inspired ‘Everything Must Go’.

Joe Carnahan

Many common mistakes were made on this big screen adaptation of the popular TV series that turned out to be one of the flops of the year. First, the trend of cashing up on 80’s nostalgia was beginning to wear off. Second, the magic of a TV series rarely translates well into a feature length movie. They nearly got it right by putting together a credible director (Joe Carnahan of ‘Narc’ fame) and a solid cast (Liam Neesom; Sharlito Cooper; Bradley Cooper; etc.) that matched quite faithfully the original; but it seems all the efforts were focused into recreating the classic war veteran characters trying to clear their name after being framed for a crime they didn’t commit, at the expense of finding a good storyline for them; recurring once again to expensive FX pyrotechnics and shaping up an unforgivably boring spectacle in the process.

Sylvester Stallone

Drenched in more 80’s nostalgia, someone gave Sylvester Stallone the go ahead to recruit a full line-up of old-school, gung-ho, action heroes – featuring Bruce Willis and a cameo by the Governor of California himself, next to some of their current replacements (Jason Statham?) – for one last suicide mission against the tyrannical government of another shady Latin American country. If this type of violence feasts was once one of the most lucrative film subgenres and could be read as scary propaganda for US ideas on foreign policy; things may have not changed much in the real world, but luckily today the collection of wore-off clichés reeks of geriatric care instead.

Colin Strause

Humble alien invasion movie boasting a cast of semi-popular faces from TV series (Dexter; 24) and with most of its scenes shot within the confines of two or three rooms inside a residential skyscraper. It all screamed of cheap, but certainly may have helped keep costs at bay. What could have perfectly work by fully acknowledging its own limitations, feels like a con instead, pretending to be a much bigger film than it actually is. The producers have opted for spending the entire budget on lavish special effects for the three or four scenes of spaceships attacks; enough to produce a nice-looking trailer and drag summer audiences en masse to multiplexes, but also enough to run out of money before even give ‘Skyline’ a plausible, non-abrupt ending. Anyone up for ‘Skyline 2’?

Mike Mitchel

Someone said this fourth installment of the animated saga was a return to form after a terrible third part. He lied! ‘Shrek Forever After’ claimed a new approach by introducing new character Rumplestintskin. By effect of the spell of his magic contract, he takes over Shrek and Queen Fiona’s kingdom, condemning them to revert to Shrek’s former Ogre ways. The quest for bringing things back to normal makes the backbone of the story; but whereas the key of the first two movies lied on their brilliant subversion of the common fairytale rules; this new offering, like its predecessor, desperately embraced them, unsuccessfully trying to squeeze some much needed new ideas out. Most characters, though, were left repeating their already exhausted tricks, without injecting any new life into them. Adopting the new 3-D standard didn’t offer any joy, either and the whole venture it’s now one of many unremarkable money spinning franchises.

Tim Burton

The bitterest disappointment of the year for fans of Burton’s nearly flawless career to date; his take on Lewis Carroll timeless character was a total disaster. Nothing on it worked; neither the plot, based on Alicia’s second trip to Wonderland trying to explore a lesser known path within the story; nor the cast. Helena Bonham-Carter big headed queen is too grotesque and most other actors struggle to overcome the flaws of their respective roles. Particularly painful was Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter rendition; and his uncanny resemblance to Madonna? But worse of it all was how ugly it looked; more of a shock when considering the highly expensive production design. Every character seems to have been designed with no connection with the rest; often producing a mismatch impression when several of them are shown together. And even if the combination prestigious director/classic tale/3D –whose effects were rather underwhelming – has made of Alice one of the year’s biggest films, it was also one of its biggest catastrophes.

Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck

Another blatant case of foreign talent seduced and abandoned by the Hollywood machine; Florian Henckel Von Donnersmack’s debut, ‘The Life Of Others’, earned him an Oscar and universal acclaim. What he may have seen in a lighthearted fare as ‘The Tourist’ is not yet clear. Was it the glamorous chance to work with two of Today’s biggest stars? –Angelina & Johnny forming one of the screen couples with less chemistry in the history of cinema. Was it the challenge of a complete register change? – The story places itself somewhere between a spy thriller and a romantic comedy without really succeeding as any. Or was it the chance to shoot in beautiful Venice locations? Whatever it was, it clearly didn’t work from the very early stages of its production. Some impossibly dim dialogues; wooden acting; preposterous plot and a collection of Angelina’s extra-pout femme fatale poses, causing havoc among men wherever she’s leading, all added up to create the finest example of involuntary comedy we’ve seen in years.

Michael Patrick King

Never fans of the TV series, rather put off by its depiction of urban females as avid designer shoppers on a never ending quest for everlasting romance; we were very surprised by how effective its translation into the big screen was. The first part of ‘Sex & The City’ wasn’t better than its TV counterpart; but a very solid screenplay elevated it from the average chick flick and it turned out to be our guilty pleasure of the year. The sequel, however, is a totally different affair. So many wrong things going on it’s hard to find where to start. Not content with its fake views on female empowerment, they extended those peculiar double-standards to gays -the gay wedding scene featuring Liza Minnelli take on ‘Single Ladies’ went way beyond camp into a world of unparalleled stereotyped horror. Not even Middle East women were free from the movie’s unforgiving shallow view. With the four stars reaching that difficult age, there aren’t many chances for a third part, unless they want to call it ‘Menopause & The City’. There are, however, disturbing rumors about a prequel being planned with a new younger cast, exploring the girls early days in New York during the 80’s. Be afraid! Be Very afraid!

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