Worst 20 Films of 2011 – Season of the Witch, Red Riding Hood & More!
It'll take some fierce competition next year to top this collection of cinematic slop...
Having spent the last year sat in screening rooms and cinemas watching over 200 of 2011’s cinematic offerings, it stands to reason that I’m going to have to sit through a fair share of duds. As I had seen the vast majority of the key Oscar plays before November, I spent the latter part of the year dedicating myself to seeking out the worst, most lowest common denominator fare ripe for a skewering, and with these twenty dreadful pictures, we have what are, in my opinion, the 20 biggest train wrecks of 2011. Note that Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star is still awaiting worldwide DVD release and didn’t get distribution in the U.K., so that’s one that I was forced to avoid, but I’m assured that it’s irredeemably horrible nevertheless. Anyway, on with the list…
20. Shark Night 3D
(David R. Ellis / Tomatometer: 16%)
Director David R. Ellis has made some entertainingly schlocky outings in the past, such as Final Destination 2, Snakes on a Plane and Cellular, but his latest, Shark Night 3D, cannot be counted among them. Clearly attempting to ride the coat-tails of the surprising success of Piranha 3D, this inept effort is an overly sterile horror which, due to its U.S. PG-13 rating, lacks even a primal sense of fun goriness, and is thus a toothless, dull outing. The script is the biggest offender here, though, indulging in the tiresome personal dramas of the vapid protagonists, rather than focusing on building suspense or, in a base manner, delivering some savage kills. The preposterous reveal at the end is about as exciting as it gets, but again it just focuses on the human characters far too much rather than going for the thrill factor. Poorly acted, unintentionally funny on the odd occasion, and disappointingly neutered given the director at the helm, Shark Night 3D is an especially cynical stab at a niche product that falls incredibly flat.
Read our full review here.
19. Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1
(Bill Condon / Tomatometer: 26%)
Ripping on the Twilight series is a fashionable thing to do, and in the grand scheme of things, at least as far as the studio is concerned, it just doesn’t matter; the films still gross monumental box office receipts, and thus the films essentially become critic-proof. Nevertheless a crass commercial calculation, the final entry into Stephenie Meyer’s prized tween vampire novel series has been split over two painstakingly paced films, the first of which is a dreadfully scripted, poorly acted, frequently hilarious (unintentionally so) fantasy film which is mired in its own awkward, aggressive sense of self-seriousness. Whereas the previous film, Eclipse, had a certain self-awareness that made it moderately entertaining to watch, that is entirely gone in this “epic” outing which sees protagonists Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella (Kristen Stewart) beginning their married life together. Stodgy drama is the order of the day here, the action is horrifically directed, focusing on blurry CGI battles that are few and far between, and those touchstone moments the book that fans hold dear are executed with the low-rent tack of a straight-to-video film.
Read our full review here.
18. I Melt with You
(Mark Pellington / Tomatometer: 15%)
Easily the best shot bad film on this list, Mark Pellington’s insipid drama is beautifully photographed but entirely vacuous as it depicts the reunion of four college friends – played by Jeremy Piven, Rob
Lowe, Thomas Jane and Christian McKay – as they try to come to terms with the various disappointments that life has thrown their collective way. The first hour of I Melt with You depicts an endless array of drug taking and quasi-philosophical hedonism as the quartet wax lyrical about their existence and pore over self-propagating angst, whereas the second half takes an unexpectedly dark turn, likening it somewhat to Piven’s caustic dramatic comedy Very Bad Things. The problem is that the film fails to characterise these four men enough in the outset to make their actions later matter, and with a two-hour runtime, half of which consists of gorgeously-shot scenes of people doing illegal things set to 1980s music, it is achingly self-indulgent, squandering the considerable talents of its cast – who exhibit an admirable chemistry as a unit – while saying little of interest in the same stead.
Performances are uniformly solid – and it’s especially nice to see Me and Orson Welles star McKay getting some more prominent work – but the dialogue is pretentious while aiming for poetic, and the darker fatalistic elements in the second half seem over-the-top and incongruent with what preceded it. It becomes very clear where things are going to go, and only in the final shot does everything piece together, giving little hint of what is to come prior to this, such that there isn’t even a hint of suspense either. The best-looking bad film of 2011, I Melt with You squanders a fine acting quartet with self-indulgent existential angst among characters who are impossible to like.
17. Dream House
(Jim Sheridan / Tomatometer: 7%)
Dream House is a film that never really stood a chance as soon as its trailer was released; giving away the main plot twist of the film – that its protagonist, played by Daniel Craig, is batshit crazy – is
the most asinine marketing calculation seen in years, and makes for an utterly joyless, unsurprising cinematic experience. After spending 45 minutes waiting for the trailer twist to reveal itself, the rest of the film is spent getting increasingly ridiculous, resulting in an unsatisfying, shockingly dull thriller which serves as an embarrassment for all involved. In fact, stars Daniel Craig and Rachel
Weisz disowned the film and refused to do publicity for it after taking issue with the studio-mandated cut of the film, and it’s widely documented that director Jim Sheridan – who has endured a few duds as of late – had control taken away by the studio, who argued with him about how to shoot several scenes.
It’s hilarious to think that six months ago, Oscar prognosticators were considering the merits of this film, and now it’s topping many “Worst of…” lists. The ultimate feel is that of a film by committee, not a singular, unique vision as one might expect from a talented director like Sheridan; it is clunkily put together, and frankly one feels the most productive result of it is that Craig and Weisz became a couple off the back of it. The film also serves as a crucial lesson in film marketing; how could anyone think it was a good idea to essentially spoil the entire film from its first trailer. It’s little surprise that Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz disowned this turgid, woefully inept thriller which idiotically gave away its big reveal in the trailer.
16. Honey 2
(Bille Woodruff, Tomatometer: 6%)
The original 2003 film Honey was utterly forgettable other than for serving as a vehicle for the now mega-famous Jessica Alba. This sequel, featuring its own cast of unknowns, is likely to propel nobody to fame, for it is badly acted, shoddily scripted, and indifferently directed. While the undemanding dance film genre has had only a handful of genuinely successful efforts, Honey 2 adheres to the more familiar schematic of wrapping a clichéd narrative and paper-thin characters around some occasionally engaging dance scenes and hoping that something might stick. While it features a wealth of dancing, the focus is less on the amazing acrobatics of something like Streetdance or Step Up, and more on a medieval, primal style of dance which just isn’t dazzling enough to prop up the other elements which it sorely lacks.
Unfortunately, casting dancers as actors is a major pitfall here, and though the attractive cast have a superficial appeal, they aren’t credible enough to make the spontaneous dance numbers and
risible dialogue entertaining. It’s the typical story of a troubled youth who tries to overcome abject social circumstances through the power of dance, and aside from an X-Factor-style dance contest at the end, inexplicably hosted by Mario Lopez, it’s mostly sigh-inducing fare. One finds it difficult to imagine it actually garnered a theatrical release in the UK, because this has the look and feel of straight-to-video dreck, from its poor cast to its horrendous script and amateur direction. It’s a sequel nobody asked for, and unsurprisingly, it sucks.
15. Hoodwinked Two! Hood vs. Evil
(Mike Disa / Tomatometer: 11%)
The original Hoodwinked, while far from perfect, was a pleasantly subversive animated outing, and made the best of a low-budget, focusing on its intelligence rather than flashy visuals. This sequel,
however, boasts neither the wit nor visual accomplishment of its predecessor and is another which should have gone direct-to-video, but actually had a U.S. theatrical release, in 3D, no less. Anne Hathaway has been replaced with Hayden Panettiere as Red, who must rescue Hansel, Gretel and her Granny (Glenn Close) from an evil witch (Joan Cusack), yet despite this talented cast and a concept ripe for spoofing, the result is cheesy, headache-inducing, gruellingly animated and among the worst animated films in recent years.
Gags are typically pun-related with little efficiency, and some of the visual jokes reference things that kids simply aren’t going to comprehend, such as the Kill Bill films (yes, the Granny wears the Bruce Lee-inspired yellow-and-black outfit). Compounding the underwhelming script is the poor standard of animation, lacking the charm of the first film and quite oddly resembling a video game with how it depicts its set-pieces; the film requires more movement and freneticism, but is instead full of dull, stationery shots of people not doing all that much. One can only begin to imagine how disappointing it must have been in 3D, which represents even more money thrown away when it should have been focused on the story and direction.
At least, though, their crass tactics weren’t rewarded, and the film tanked at the U.S. box office. Surely too much money has been spent on the cast and the 3D rather than on fashioning an intelligent, funny script.
14. Atlas Shrugged: Part 1
(Paul Johansson / Tomatometer: 12%)
Ayn Rand’s acclaimed epic novel Atlas Shrugged has its first third transposed awkwardly into a film with Paul Johansson’s pitifully low-budget effort here, a film likely to appeal to just about nobody; fans of the novel will despise its butchering of the material, and everyone else will find it overly po-faced and obvious. The premise is at least interesting; a sustained economic downturn in the U.S. has caused rail to become the pre-eminent means of travel, starting a business war for control of the rails, with a burgeoning steel company trying to take everything for itself while the government questions its safety. There certainly could have been a compelling political narrative weaved here, but Atlas Shrugged is an immensely convoluted affair lacking subtlety and hammering home its political message past the point of exhaustion.
It’s very clear that the story favours governmental deregulation and the concept of allowing creativity to blossom freely, but it never really manages to convince that these people are truly that creative, and the central business honchos come across as bland and unlikeable. The question, “Who is John Galt?”, is senselessly and hilariously asked by characters ad-nauseum, and only in the final 30 seconds is any insight given to who he is, though it does little to forgive the bare bones, effortless construction. This dubious distillation of Ayn Rand’s objectivist philosophy is a glorified smack around the head with a sociology textbook.
13. Season of the Witch
(Dominic Sena / Tomatometer: 10%)
First rule of filmmaking: don’t name your film after a terrible horror film sequel that was universally reviled. It doesn’t set a good tone from the outset, but Dominic Sena’s supernatural train wreck didn’t need any more help hurtling its way towards becoming one of 2011’s most unbearable films, and easily the worst outing of Nicolas Cage’s career, which is saying something. Having languished on a shelf for close to a year while seeking release, it’s clear upon watching why nobody would want to touch it; this is a glorified straight-to-video film that even Uwe Boll – who features later on this Worst Of list – might have been embarrassed to touch.
Cage plays a Teutonic Knight who is charged, along with Ron Perlman and a band of merry men, to transport a supposed witch across the land to be executed, before they begin to suspect that she might in fact be innocent. While this concept could have been moderately entertaining if it had even the most remote sense of humour about itself, this is an irony-free outing which trundles through fantasy film clichés with the utmost proceduralism. Cage’s performance is terrible, but his hairpiece is magnificent.
Read our full review here.
12. A Little Bit of Heaven
(Nicole Cassell / Tomatometer: 6%)
A Little Bit of Heaven is distinguished on this list because it’s the only film here that features a bonafide film star or two, and still hasn’t secured a release in the U.S., though it did sneak a quick peak in U.K. cinemas in February, before promptly disappearing amidst appropriately embarrassing reviews and a paltry box office. It’s a film easy to compare to the year’s best comedy, 50/50, which was a tender, nimble comic drama about someone suffering with cancer which managed to be both affecting and frequently hilarious because of its meticulously-constructed tone. This film, however, is much the opposite; a messy, unassured, depressing, punishingly unfunny film about a young woman, Marley (Kate Hudson), suffering with terminal cancer, which doesn’t know what sort of film it wants to be, and comes off as both cloying and incredibly disingenuous.
Her love interest just so happens to be her doctor, played by a peculiarly cast Gael Garcia Bernal, and so much of the film deals with them coming to terms with the fact that Marley might not be around for much longer. Throw in a cursory cameo – Whoopi Goldberg as God – and you have an oh-so-quirky comedy that takes a light view of death and suffering because, you know, cancer’s not all that bad, is it? Whereas 50/50 derived some savage gallows humour from its situation, this film feels patently dishonest because it doesn’t seem keen to admit how horrible the situation is; the treatment is of a light, fluffy rom-com and this makes it feel relatively insulting, such that when the film actually delivers a surprise kicker – that Marley does actually die – it has zero resonance and feels thrown in for shock value.
Most depressing of all, this isn’t even the worst film Kate Hudson put out this year. Kate Hudson’s career suicide continues with the devastatingly unfunny, tonally jarring A Little Bit of Heaven.
11. Red Riding Hood
(Catherine Hardwicke / Tomatometer: 11%)
Catherine Hardwicke shot onto the Hollywood scene with the wonderfully disarming teen drama Thirteen, but her last two efforts have unquestionably squandered her considerable talents; she follows up her work on Twilight with Red Riding Hood, an awkwardly shot tween take on the classic tale which is distinguishable only for Amanda Seyfried’s solid turn which can nevertheless not overcome the film’s immense flaws.
Like too many films of this kind, Red Riding Hood suffers because it is thoroughly ridiculous yet completely straight-faced and determinedly self-serious. While the mystery of finding out who the wolf is could have been interesting, and indeed the film should have mined some of Angela Carter’s more subversive, cheeky takes on the subject, this is stylistically derivative, ugly, boring, and a complete waste of time when it has been tackled far better several times before. One might expect that Hardwicke would be able to capture all the teen angst and hormonal lust given her previous work, but this is cold, clinical, and profoundly unsexy, failing to take advantage of Seyfried’s eminent appeal and ruining what could have been a potent star vehicle for her. Gary Oldman is curiously wasted otherwise, taking an obvious paycheque role while his younger co-stars are positively lost at sea.
Direction is especially dispiriting; Hardwicke gives the impression she has been studio-manhandled and forced into corners, for this boasts none of the panache of her first two works, and is even a massive step down from her work on Stephenie Meyer’s popular novel series. Catherine Hardwicke, what the Hell happened?
10. New Year’s Eve
(Garry Marshall / Tomatometer: 7%)
No film in this year, or perhaps, in any, has wasted a wonderful cast quite as spectacularly as New Year’s Eve. Garry Marshall, whose previous cameo-carousel Valentine’s Day was almost as bad, crafts the year’s most cynical cash cow, milking ineffectual sentiment and ridiculous truisms for the little they are worth, in what is all the more angering for how many Oscar-winning actors it puts through the wringer. Overstuffed with far too many dramatic storylines which fail to intersect in a particularly interesting way (other than cursory “Oh, they’re related!” moments), the film also suffers from trying to render unlikeable characters charming, and their various woes are incredibly difficult to get involved in, because they’re largely so inconsequential, except perhaps for Robert De Niro’s terminally ill character. Most baffling is how hard it is to believe that people place this much emphasis on the day; is it really that important that people wind up with a romantic interest for midnight? Is it really that big a day? Apparently so, and one can only imagine that Marshall will next try to make a grand, portentous event out of Easter…
It’s hard to imagine how the formula can get much more insufferable, or how many more stars he can rope into this schmaltzy, incredibly cynical series of films. Also, watch out for the worst product placement of the year, with Toshiba’s screen in Times Square being closed in on at every desperate, errant opportunity.
Read our full review here.
9. Monster Brawl
(Dave Foley / Tomatometer: N/A)
You won’t have to try hard to avoid Monster Brawl, because it hasn’t been released anywhere yet and has only been subjected to those who follow the horror festival circuit. I saw the film at the Leeds International Film Festival’s Night of the Dead in November, and even at 1am, with half a dozen beers in tow, this film still tested my patience and proved hugely unsatisfying despite having been a childhood wrestling fan. While director Dave Foley has roped in two famous faces from the wrestling world, Kevin Nash and Jimmy Hart, this lazy, uninspired film tries to garner the appeal of the Grindhouse crowd, but its premise, of a wrestling tournament featuring creatures such as Frankenstein’s monster and a mummy, is too procedural and not remotely comical except in the unintentional sense.
Hart and Nash are quite obviously in it for a quick payday, for the film was surely shot over a few undemanding days, but one must wonder really what kind of an audience it was aimed at. The wrestling itself lacks intensity and feels like an amateur house show, while there’s no drama to speak of, and Nash looks especially tired and uninterested, while Hart spends his entire screen time shouting through a megaphone while a buxom babe cling to each of his arms. It’s easy to see why he signed up…
8. Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son
(John Whitesell / Tomatometer: 5%)
It’s impressive that the “minds” behind the Big Momma’s House films have been able to stretch a one-note joke – of Martin Lawrence dressed as a morbidly obese woman – over three dreadful theatrical releases, the epitome of which is found in this interminable third entry. Hauling along Brandon T. Jackson for the ride – who was so hilarious in Tropic Thunder – as his cross-dressing “niece”, twice the silliness also breeds twice the stupidity, such that the racial and gender stereotypes are their most aggressively offensive, the physical comedy is at its most irritating, and the one-liners – chiefly, a character referring to Big Momma as “Mary J. Bulge” – are as insufferable as ever.
Tracing a career trajectory that makes his frequent colleague of comparison, Eddie Murphy, seem like a go-getter, Lawrence’s promise shown in his early stand-up work, and even the Bad Boys films and minor comedies like Blue Streak, is essentially evaporated within seconds of the film’s opening, as it’s clear he’s in it for the money now, given the series’ peculiar esteem among some audiences (owing to its box office, which almost tripled its budget). The drag jokes were old in the first film, and with the act now concerning two people, its mashing up with an undercover police narrative plays as even more incongruent, awkward and just plain boring. Most upsetting is that we can probably expect a fourth film in a few years.
It’s frighteningly impressive that a one-note gag has spawned three dreadful films and hundreds of millions of dollars in box office receipts. Wherever will they go next? Big Mommas 3D?
7. In the Name of the King: Two Worlds
(Uwe Boll / Tomatometer: N/A)
In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale was hands down one of 2007’s worst films; Uwe Boll crafted an excruciatingly long, curiously star-studded fantasy flop which made temporary jokes of the careers of Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, and well, Burt Reynolds. That Boll managed to get a sequel made, albeit straight-to-video, confirms that he must have some ripe blackmail material on a collective of German investors. Roping Dolph Lundgren into the mess this time, Boll’s latest is as classically horrible as you would expect, and will nevertheless satisfy masochistic Boll die-hards. Lundgren plays a middle-aged karate instructor who is dragged kicking and screaming into the past, where a prophecy predicts that he will slay an evil witch and bring piece to the land.
The King, played with amusing hamminess by Lochlyn Munro (who is nevertheless better than this), steals most of the scenes he is in, but Lundgren gets his own share of laughs, partly because the script is so horrendous, and partly because Lundgren’s delivery is so unbelievably stiff, even if his English has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years. Awkwardly mired between two very different worlds, Boll’s film is poorly paced, if frequently hilarious, which at least keeps it far enough away from the number one spot, but as usual his superficial attempt at giving his story more
meaning – as Lundgren’s character tries to atone his own mistakes as a former solder – falls incredibly flat. The last scene, in which Lundgren gets home, drowns the baddie in his bathtub, then pours himself a whiskey and talks to a picture of his dead war comrades, is immensely baffling. After starring in The Expendables, was Dolph Lundgren really strapped enough for cash to star in this?
(Adam Deacon, Daniel Toland / Tomatometer: 17%)
If you somehow found the mawkish urban dramas Kidulthood and Anuvahood tolerably engaging, you might be able to derive a few chuckles from this knuckleheaded comedy which aims to satirise those films as well as the endlessly superior American equivalents, such as Menace to Society and Do the Right Thing. The trouble is that Adam Deacon, as writer, director, and star, isn’t competent enough in any role, let alone all three, to carry a meek spoof which is impossibly indebted to far superior comic vehicles like Friday and even Don’t Be A Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood.
When the film’s first prominent gag featured the protagonist working at a Sainsbury’s store kitted out and renamed as “Laimsbury’s”, I knew I was in trouble, moreso when Richard Blackwood showed up as the manager. While the genre is a ripe one to satirise, Deacon does a terrible job; the gags are obvious, the dialogue is loud and barbaric, and the performances barely even qualify as such; this feels like a film someone with little idea about the filmmaking process has made, compared to Deacon’s Kidulthood co-star, Noel Clarke, who has made far better attempts recently. Most peculiar of all are the film’s genuinely violent interludes, which unexpectedly shift the tone and stifle the comedy, and boy, this is one film that doesn’t need any help being unfunny.
5. Jack and Jill
(Dennis Dugan / Tomatometer: 4%)
This film is so bad that a lot of people presumably still think that it was a joke dreamed up by Matt Stone and Trey Parker for that South Park episode in which they mocked it. Destined to top many critic’s worst-of lists this year is Adam Sandler’s latest calamity, and what is easily his worst and highest-profile failure, Jack and Jill. It seems betting that Big Mommas would be the worst film featuring actors-in-drag this year wasn’t such a safe one, for Adam Sandler’s endlessly grating turn as the emotionally turbulent, possibly psychotic Jill ranks among the most disturbing and unfunny characters of the last few years. That’s not forgetting the more troubling fact that Al Pacino co-stars as himself; what could have been an amusingly subversive satire of Pacino’s own stature boasts one good joke – a stab at his recent lack of Oscar attention, if absolutely his own fault – and otherwise places him in countless embarrassing situations, foremost that he spends most of his screen time fawning after Sandler’s female character.
Johnny Depp even has a brief two-minute cameo, as though he lost a bet, and has to sit there as Sandler pores over his gimmicky, overdone shtick that became tired several films ago. Pacino, meanwhile, should have been able to render the film self-aware and knowingly bad, but it’s a genuinely desperate turn which asks the classic question, “What was he thinking?”. So unforgivably, soul-destroying bad it’ll have you wishing Pacino had made Righteous Kill 2 instead.
4. Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D
(Robert Rodriguez / Tomatometer: 23%)
What the Hell happened to the Spy Kids series? What was for its first three entries a tolerable, switched-on kids adventure series becomes in its fourth instalment a messy, braindead outing almost entirely bereft of merit. Robert Rodriguez, who continues to waste his time on vehicles like this rather than work on the long-languishing Sin City 2, does himself a further disservice by slathering this latest venture with the most gimmicky treatment of all; a “4D” experience in which Smell-O-Vision scratch-and-sniff cards were handed out at the cinema, as if the film needed any help being any more vomit-inducing.
Exhaustively hyperactive and awash in tediously over-the-top, bright visual effects, Rodriguez furthers the problems with a comatose screenplay that’s difficult to believe he wrote, given its lowest-common denominator appeal which even kids will find condescending and idiotic. It’s easy to see why Jessica Alba signed up, having recently had a child and wanting a light venture to pay the bills, but the tragic waste of Community star Joel McHale alongside Jeremy Piven is unforgivable, especially given Piven’s inherent appeal as a villain. A misfire on so many levels, from the original cast members disavowing it almost completely – aside from snappy cameos from the original Spy Kids – to the terribly phoned-in voiceover from Ricky Gervais as a talking dog, this shows that no matter how many dimensions you slap on the poster, there’s no accounting for lazy workmanship. Can Robert Rodriguez please make Sin City 2 now?
3. Horrid Henry: The Movie
(Nick Moore / Tomatometer: 11%)
No other film this year has so aptly described itself with the first word of its title; aggressively annoying kids fare like this is the worst sort, cynically pumped out with the belief that children will warm to it, while I imagine it would test the patience of even those tots who loved the books on which this dreadful film is based. Touted proudly as the first British kids film released in 3D, it sets a bad precedent from the outset, as it will probably also be the worst of this kind; overly bright and coloured like a candy rainbow, things only get worse once you realise talented thesps like Anjelica Huston, Richard E. Grant and the lovely Parminder Nagra have been roped into the mess.
Another dull, loud, hyper film about an apparently charmingly troublesome kid with big dreams turns out to by highly irritating and lacking even a scrap of warmth, wit or intelligence. Theo Stevenson might be a talented child actor, but for now we can’t know, simply because the script actively denies performance other than jumping around and bleating for 90 minutes; Henry’s dream sequences in which he sings appallingly bad pop-rock songs are especially punishing. There’s not enough wit here to justify all the grossness; the bogeys and slime are deployed with a wild enthusiasm that doesn’t transpire into the diabolically lacking script.
The characterisation is obvious even for a children’s film, the 3D is blatant and unflattering, and countless skilled actors are positively wasted on this film’s cynical cash-grab mentality.
2. Age of the Dragons
(Ryan Little / Tomatometer: 10%)
Age of the Dragons is distinguished as the only film on my list which was sarcastically applauded and howled at by disparaging critics as we sat in a Soho screening room watching it (though Season of the Witch very nearly broke out into a fervour too). This film held my number one spot for a long time, its badness running deep to its core, all the more disappointing given the film’s ripe comic potential. Taking Herman Melville’s literary classic Moby Dick and transposing it onto a medieval dragon-slaying premise, there’s the potential for a genuinely diverting, smart take that on the source text, but a low-budget, terrible script and unforgivably bad performances render this film completely flat, boring, and genuinely among the worst films I have ever seen.
Little has created of his film a cinematic sub-set; an abyss known as sub-Boll – a film so bad Uwe Boll would sneer at it. Danny Glover is the most alluring presence as Captain Ahab himself, keen to hunt the dragon that severely wounded him. Every other single actor in the film, though, except perhaps for Vinnie Jones, who departs far too quickly, has zero charisma or cinematic appeal, reduced to crushing, inept stereotypes, while the overly self-serious screenplay fails to realise how horribly in need of levity it is. The shocking visual effects work and general shoddy production values suggest a fun Grindhouse-esque yarn that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but the dead-serious script and actors genuinely trying their hardest to force pathos, completely kills any sense of fun, and the amusement is reduced to one or two perverse, desperate laughs, amid a slow, emotionally draining 90 minutes. It would take a truly dedicated bad film enthusiast to derive any real pleasure from this bargain bin fodder.
Read our full review here.
1. Something Borrowed
(Luke Greenfield / Tomatometer: 15%)
No matter how bad the above 19 films were, no film was as infuriating and insufferable as Something Borrowed, a despicable, morally bankrupt film which is a mind-blowing testament that, with the right cast, any film, no matter how crass, tacky and tasteless, can get made. The problem is not so much that the film features thoroughly idiotic and unlikeable characters, but that it never accounts for their actions morally; their lying and cheating is never adequately dealt with, and we never get the feeling that any of these characters have an arc or learn anything throughout. Here is a speedy summary of the plot to judge for yourself: Ginnifer Goodwin has had a crush on Colin Egglesfield for years, but he got snapped up by her best friend, Kate Kudson, and they are engaged. One night, Goodwin and Egglesfield get drunk and sleep together, and build a web of lies while they continue to have an affair so that Hudson doesn’t find out.
John Krasinski, Goodwin’s friend, finds out, and very clearly has a crush on her. In the end, Egglesfield dumps Hudson so he can be with Goodwin’s character, and then Hudson conveniently confesses that she has been cheating on Egglesfield anyway. Goodwin and Egglesfield get to be together while a pregnant Hudson stays with the guy she was cheating with. Krasinski, clearly Goodwin’s best match, is left on his own.
If that sounds convoluted and ugly, that’s because it is. The three protagonists are cheats, and after the first two acts make you feel incredibly sorry for Hudson’s betrayed character, this is all undone oh-so conveniently by having her be a cheat as well; it’s stunningly lazy writing to smooth over what would have been a more interesting – and more difficult to write – moral question. Goodwin and Egglesfield’s characters don’t seem particularly apologetic over what they have done, bestowed with an obnoxious sense of entitlement, while the film’s one truly decent character, Krasinski’s friend-zoned lap dog, is left empty handed despite clearly being the best match for Goodwin. No romantic drama has ever been so misguided and eager for you to root against its characters. This tacky, morally abhorrent film is unbearable.
It’ll take some fierce competition next year to top this collection of cinematic slop, but with the arrival of the bookending Twilight instalment, as well as at least one more Katherine Heigl comedy, who knows?