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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Egad! What were they thinking?

Yes, that's right - how can i talk about the best of 2008 without naming the worst of the year? However, I will make two lists so that it is not a blanket condemnation rant on all below-par films. I will highlight the ones which ones are awful not matter which way you cut it in this list. In the next, I will highlight those that had massive potential but in the end were probably missed opportunities. 

And the turkeys are:

The Happening: He was once dubbed the next Spielberg but after 'The Happening', he may be lucky to be the next Paul Verhoeven. There's no doubt M. Night Shyamalan has genius hiding inside but he seems to be unable to tap it any more. I have cut his films more slack than many - in fact, I believe 'Lady in the Water' was his first real misstep. He probably did it because it was like a passion project and that's fine for a one-off. With this film, I am convinced Shyamalan either needs to take a break from writing his own stuff or collaborate with somebody so that his ideas can take the best shape possible. The good - I like the strange B-movie feel and unpredictability of it. The bad - everything else; special mention of Mark Wahlberg showing unusual talent in the scene in which he converses with a plant. The concept of plants fighting back against the human race, though outrageous, was workable - if it had more of a 'The Day of the Triffids' vibe as opposed to Shyamalan's idea of a campy horror-comedy. All in all, Shyamalan has lost most of his hard-earned cred! Time for introspection, pal!

Righteous Kill: If you had told me a year ago that I would be including a film starring both Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in a worst film list, I would have said, 'never in a million years', 'impossible' or 'when hell freezes over' - maybe in that order. That day is here and it is a sad one indeed. Simply put, this film is badly written by Russell Gewirtz and director Jon Avnet doesnt do it any favours. These legendary actors should never work together again unless they are provided with material that matches their talent. Their reunion is a lacklustre affair that feels like a paycheck film with phoned-in performances. Righteous Kill has an awful narrative that switches between a boring by-the-numbers plot and incredibly stilted characterisation. A waste of time, money and most importantly, talent!

Max Payne: The name says it all! As farcical as video game adaptations tend to be, Max Payne does not even rise to the level of a guilty pleasure!  "I believe in pain," says Mark Wahlberg as the title character. Boy, does he ever! Two of the year's worst films both star Wahlberg and one can only hope that the flicks looked better on paper than they do on screen. John Moore is more than a little competent but the film feels hollow and weak. It has a nice atmospheric feel and cool special effects but the so-called story does not feel like anything resembling a narrative. It fails to be remotely interesting for more than two minutes at a stretch. Definitely one of the worst movies of the year!

Speed Racer: I was a big fan of the anime series as a kid but I'm pretty sure the main reason I liked it then was because I was... well, a kid. What stood out for me when I was walking out of the cinema after Speed Racer was the fact that the concept does not age well. As a film aimed solely at kids, it is impressive - it is a multi-hued tapestry of live action, CGI and various cartoon elements. In other words, if the Wachowski brothers wanted it to feel completely like a cartoon come to life, they succeeded. Unfortunately, in striving for something different, this film fails to connect enough with the audience. Many claim this material should never have been adapted or the approach should have been serious, I would respectfully disagree. Thinking about it, there are very few films that scream: 'never should have been made'. I think even the below-par ones have something to teach us, even if it is what not to do when making a movie. The Wachowkis can feel good that in an industry that is suffering for lack of originality, they have gone out on a limb and experimented. It may not have worked but that doesn't mean they shouldn't have tried!

Babylon AD: I would love to rip director Mathieu Kassovitz apart for this travesty but I think in this instance he is not at fault since his original concept was a good one. In fact, the director himself termed it awful after developing the film adaptation for five years. So what happened? 20th Century Fox, that's what! Kassovitz said they interfered so much that not a single scene was filmed the way it was written or the way he wanted. In fact, they cut 70 minutes from the film to make it family friendly. Fox right now is the worst studio in business and Babylon AD is a good example - just because Vin Diesel is involved, the studio made it a point to create a mindless mess. And one can only feel bad for Kassovitz for having his name on it. Even Diesel should rue this missed opportunity to create something different from what he usually does. Fox Studios badly needs a management overhaul!


Anonymous said...

Hello, hello, very nice, and I am most impresed by the depth of your writing. Keep going Vin man and you'll reach places :) God bless