Monday, January 3, 2011

End of the year part 3: Most disappointing movies

Oh me, oh my, it’s time for the schlock to testify. Between the Seats may be benevolent towards films on which other bloggers will inflict an utter thrashing, but there are movies for whose sins even we cannot forgive. Blessed be the merciful, but mercy in not in store for the most disappointing films of 2010. I carefully chose the word ‘disappointing’ for a specific reason. I want every movie I take the time to watch to be at least okay. I’m not asking absolutely everything to be fantastic, great or mesmerizing, but I even when I enter a film with lower than usual expectations, never does that mean I am expecting a film to be ‘bad,’ and I want to be very clear on that point. Do not mistake Between the Seats. We never go head hunting for films to criticise (I haven’t seen Troll 2, nor do I have any plans to see at this point, so we’re covered) and I reserve myself to declare that plenty of movie ‘fans’ on the world wide web do just that. Without further ado, here is the list of films released in 2010 which could not even meat Between the Seats’ forgiving standards.

5-The Wolfman (Joe Johnston). I enjoy monster movies, and have always had a fondness for the mythic quality of the wolfman’s history. With Benicio Del Toro, Emma Blunt, Hugo Weaving and Anthony Hopkins as leading cast members, what was there not to like? The resulting product, that’s what. A middling, oddly uninspiring script really sank this project, more so than the cast, who did what they could with what they had, which, again, was not much. The extended cut (something that appears on every single DVD/Blu-ray these it seems, or am I just imagining things?) didn’t do much to improve matters. On a related topic, how many times are meandering films going to have extended cuts on DVD? This is isn’t the series of long lost deleted scenes from 2001: A Space Odyssey we are talking about here…

4-The Expendables (Sylvester Stallone). I have a lot of respect for writer, director and actor Sylvester Stallone. More than once in his career he has successfully fought off the silly stereotypes levelled at him and proven his worth as a filmmaker. Additionally, I enjoyed the final 30 minutes of The Expendables, some of the most violent 30 minutes put to film in 2010. Most of what comes before however is trite and miscalculated. The fact that Stallone, more than anyone else involved in this project, really is the one who put it all together was the main reason I left so disappointed. Unfunny, uninteresting…expendable. I hear the Blu-ray is great for its supplemental material though!

3-Buried. The pick I suspect to be the most controversial on this list. It got very supportive reviews at Sundance and every subsequent review following its slow but gradual theatrical release was in agreement that Buried was a solid film. This was the most boring time I had at the Cineplex in 2010. Ryan Reynolds, whose charisma I typically like a lot, could not act his way out of this coffin even if the hatch was left wide open. To be fair, the script does nothing inventive or captivating. There are ‘high concept films’ and high concepts that are fine for a scene or two in a film. Buried should have been the latter, but tried to be the former and failed.

2-The Losers. Adam Quigley, film review on a podcast titled /Film (which can be found here) sometimes complains about ‘posing and posturing’ in action films that end up being duds. That is the most apt way to describe The Losers, a movie that tries so hard to be a big summer blockbuster (although being released in April was a telling sign that maybe wasn’t all that big) but ends up being, well, a bunch of posing and posturing. Are those two things not the same?

1-The Last Airbender (M. Night Shyamalan). I tried to be original with the number one choice, but upon weighing in all the options available to me, the case was clear that The Last Airbender was the single most disappointing movie released in 2010. It was based on a charming and remarkably well constructed children’s cartoon (which I myself have become a fan of) and was being adapted by the director who gave us The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs.

WRONG! It was from the director who gave us The Village, Lady in the Water and The Happening. The acting: rough like the earth. The plot: as thin as the air. The action: as impactful as a partly drop of water. The overall product: like fire, it went up in flames.

Dishonourable mentions:
Lebanon, Clash of the Titans,


Mike Lippert said...

I'd put the Happening as coming from the guy who directed the Sixth Sense. That's an underrated one for me.

I think the thing about the Expendables is that, despite what many might believe, Stalone is a character director not an action director. The movie isn't as fun or as funny as it should be, the villan isn't interesting, nor is the story. However the scene with Statham in that plane is damn fine stuff.

thevoid99 said...

Ed... never trust anyone who decides to make Mark Wahlberg talk to a fake plant and realizing he's still talking to it.

edgarchaput said...

@thevoid: I no longer shall, rest assured.

Anonymous said...

Yes, The Expendables was so disappointing. I was hoping for a film that was a throwback to the ridiculousness of the '80s. Instead, I had to hear men whine about women inbetween shooting the occasional random thing. Not much fun.

I quite liked The Wolf Man even though the ending was terrible.

But yes, Avatar: The Last Airbender was a crime against God, humanity and all that is good. I hope one day M. Night will come to his senses, but he's getting perilously close to entering my list of directors I avoid like the devil.