Wednesday, 29 December 2010

...2010 In Review (cont.)

The Worst Films of 2010

#1 The Lovely Bones (Peter Jackson)

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Someone really needs to take Peter Jackson's computer away from him or else risk inflicting another tacky, gaudy, CGI-led monstrosity like this on the world. Completely bereft of the confident storytelling seen in Lord of the Rings and reducing spiritual concerns and notions of evil to offensively trite levels, it's a waste of a talented cast (Saoirse Ronan, Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci) and an example of self-indulgent, big-budget film making at its worst.

#2 Alice in Wonderland (Tim Burton)

The award for Biggest Disappointment of the Year goes to Tim Burton's latest. When it's not even apparent what planet a dual-accented Johnny Depp is on, it's not a good sign, but truthfully Alice in Wonderland is a mess from start to finish. Lumpen storytelling, the exhausting gloss of green-screen in every other shot and a relentless march to a derivative sword-swinging climax somehow bleed all the whimsy and enchantment out of Lewis Carroll's source material, literature that, ironically, should have played right to Burton's strengths.

#3 The Last Airbender (M. Night Shyamalan)

If anyone harboured doubts about the increasingly po-faced, patronising nature of M. Night Shyamalan's movies, then said doubts were replaced by hearty belly-laughs in this mega-budgeted piece of nonsense. Further proof that Shyamalan can't script dialogue, can't direct actors and clearly finds anything approaching humour a struggle, there are some priceless lines in here ('From birth, I knew you were always destined to be a bender'), ones which invite more laughs of derision than gasps of awe

#4 Clash of the Titans (Louis Leterrier)

1981's Clash of the Titans was no masterpiece but it was at least fun and respectful to the rich history of Greek mythology. Louis 'Hulk' Leterrier's bone-headed remake is none of those things, replacing any sense of artistry and entertainment with a stream of noisy, CGI dominated set-pieces cribbed from any number of stupid, forgettable blockbusters. It shouldn't be possible to make Greek myths boring but Leterrier and a faceless cast led by a shockingly vacant Sam Worthington somehow achieve it.

#5 Skyline (The Brothers Strause)

A triumph of effects over the fabric of cinema, the idiotic Skyline is so brazenly derivative, it actually becomes jaw-dropping. Fighter pilot attack from Independence Day? Check. Gribbly fleshy/mechanical monsters from The Matrix? Check. The list goes on but where those films lucked out was in entertainment value. Skyline's incoherent reliance on set-pieces is just boring. But then what did we expect from the directors of Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem, one of the worst films ever made?

#6 Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (Oliver Stone)

Unbelievably spineless fare from a director as politically charged as Oliver Stone, the long-awaited Wall Street sequel has its priorities up the spout. Instead of taking an angry, impassioned look at the events which exacerbated the current recession, Stone frustratingly points the camera in the direction of charisma-vacuum Shia La Beouf, something which robs the film of relevance and political intuition. Thank goodness then for Michael Douglas, returning to his Oscar-winning role as Gordon Gekko; he single-handedly makes it all watchable.

#7 The Other Guys (Adam McKay)

Will Ferrell is, on occasion, capable of producing something truly brilliant (Anchorman) but there's always a danger of his comedies turning into cliquey frat-parties between actors and filmmakers keen to pat themselves on the back. The Other Guys unfortunately leaves the distinct impression that a better, funnier edit was left on the cutting room floor. What we're left with is a smug montage of improvised bits, a wasted partnership between Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg and a bizarre end credits sequence clearly hinting at the film it once was.

#8 Unstoppable (Tony Scott)

Draining any and all tension from a real-life incident with blatty, MTV style camerawork, Tony Scott's bag of tricks prove tiring in the extreme with Unstoppable. Denzel Washington and Chris Pine do what they can but in the face of such hectic film making, it's hard to remain interested. With edits every five seconds and a hectoring sound design, Scott frustratingly refuses to let the incident speak for itself (perhaps because the train in real life wasn't travelling as fast as the filmmakers like to make out).

#9 The Book of Eli (The Hughes Brothers)

Ouch, stinker number two for Denzel this year. The Book of Eli tries the classic bait and switch with its audience, pretending to be a Christian allegory when in fact it's all about the in-vogue monochrome look of current post-apocalyptic movies. Both Washington and Gary Oldman as the baddie are subservient to the needs of a narrative that punches far above its weight, one that is riddled with holes and falls apart on closer inspection. Stupid films are one thing; stupid films that think they're onto bigger and better things are something else.

#10 Hot Tub Time Machine (Steve Pink)

A film that was clearly sold on the basis of its title, the extent of the wit in Hot Tub Time Machine is measured by those very four words. It's a peculiarly lazy comedy, one that's dominated by its high concept but which fails to do anything especially funny with the concept itself, bar a few good jokes about 80s fashion. By and large, the humour just withers and deflates, relying on a series of tired bodily fluid gags that could be taken from any substandard comedy. The presence of John Cusack may have fooled viewers but really this is just lazy formula.

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