Well, as 2015 has ended, so has the film season. In February the Academy Awards will be handed out and rest assured, none of these sorry excuses for entertainment will be among the winners. To the contrary, The Razzies are not far off. If you don’t know what The Razzies are, just think Academy Awards for the worst crap you can imagine to be released all year long. I take no pleasure in chastising these films and their makers. I know making a film, even a wretched one is a hard task. I appreciate their efforts but asking others to throw their hard earned money away on junk is something I strive to help others avoid. Life and money are short enough as it is without wasting either of them on this junk. So here goes….
10- Inherent Vice- This film was made in 2014 but did not secure a release until this time last year. Writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson, responsible for some terrific films like Boogie Nights, Magnolia and one of my favorites, There Will Be Blood, adapted Inherent Vice from the book by Thomas Pynchon about a drugged out private investigator named Larry “Doc” Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) investigating the disappearance of his girlfriend, Shasta (Katherine Waterston). A film goers dream filled with talent that also included Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Eric Roberts, Maya Rudolph, Serena Scott Thomas, Benicio Del Toro, Jena Malone, Reese Witherspoon and Martin Short, Inherent Vice is long, dull, uninteresting and never seems to progress in story, character development or much of anything. Formless and uneven, this two and a half hour film is not sure what it wants to do. Are they going for film noir, comedy, drama or all three? It does not work as any of these themes. Characters wander through scene after scene without any real rhyme or reason, mumbling their lines without any real conviction at all. I guess the only way you could enjoy this film is if you were as high as everyone seems to be on screen. If a lesser director had made a film like this, he would never work in Hollywood again. Because it is a great director like Anderson, he is given a pass. Not here, though. Inexcusably bad.
9- Exodus: Gods and Kings- Ridley Scott shows that when you are good (The Martian), you are really good but when you are bad you make Exodus: Gods and Kings. This is nice looking film but misses the point of what and who Moses was. Horribly cast with Christian Bale as Moses Joel Edgerton as Ramses, Aaron Paul as Joshua and John Turturro as Seti, the only Egyptian pharaoh that I have ever heard speaking with a Brooklyn accent. Opening in December of 2014 to a limited release and then wider in January of 2015, Exodus: Gods and Kings was a big budget sword and sandals waste of time. It captures none of the mystery or pageantry of the story of Moses and as a result this was a major disappointment.
8- Big Game- Can Samuel L. Jackson as President of the United States in a supposedly almost comedic attempt, to pay homage other big action movies of yesteryear? Nope. Rolled snake eyes with this one. Jackson has said there are very few roles he won’t do if it something he likes and has a paycheck in it. This film is proof of that. A couple of weak villains (one of them the usually very solid Ray Stevenson), a Finnish kid that can’t act, a moronic script and you have a monstrously mindless amalgamation of about a half dozen other films and all of them better than this clunker. Jackson is the President of the United States on Air Force One when it crashes in Finland. Saved by a young Finnish lad who just so happens to be on a rite of passage for his birthday, named Oskari (Onni Tommila) the two of them trade banal banter than is more groan inducing than comical.
7- Taken 3 is proof positive that doing more of something to try and make it better than the previous attempt does not always work. While Taken 3 is marginally better than the second one of this trilogy, it is still a far cry from the first film. Taken was what people connected to; a man trying to get his daughter back at all cost. After that one ended it has been all downhill from there. Neeson and his “set of special skills” has grown old and tired. These films have become disconnected from the audience, for the most part. Instead of us connecting to a man protecting his family we see convenient plot devices, action sequences with shaky-cam fight scenes that are so dizzying that it will make want to hurl. The whole franchise has worn out its welcome. If you want to enjoy one of these films watch the original and skip these last two disasters.
6- The Loft is a remake of a Belgian film written and directed by the same man, Erik Van Looy. I have not seen the original but if the American version is any indication, we are not missing anything. This film features a bunch of married men who go in on a loft so when they cheat on their BEAUTIFUL wives, they have a place to use. That way they won’t have to go through the arduous process of hiding hotel and restaurant receipts from their BEAUTIFUL wives. Poor jerks. This movie pretty much sums up everything that is wrong in Hollywood. Women are represented as shrews and nags and are deserved of being cheated on. Men are represented as cool and hip but come across as a group of cowards who are afraid of women and feel threatened by truly strong women. There is not one likable character in this entire film. The men get what is coming to them as they are all sleaze buckets. The added murder mystery element is simply laughable. I didn’t care and neither will you.
5- The Lazarus Effect stars Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, Sarah Bolger, Evan Peters and Donald Glover as a group of students who find a way to cheat death and reanimate those who have recently passed. One of them does die and is brought back with horrific results. This is a Flatliners wanna-be that will NEVER BE. Flatliners was a 1990 film that had the same premise. It worked in that film. Flatliners was dark, mysterious, clever and intelligent with excellent performances. The Lazarus Effect is not dark, mysterious or clever. It is a D-grade horror flick that has nothing going for it. Despite an attractive cast, this is an 85 minute jump scare film that is not scary and is all over the map. Not a single element works. If you want to see a film that works, watch Flatliners and skip The Lazarus Effect.
4- Pixels was proof that 2015 was not Adam Sandler’s year. He had four films that were released and NONE of them met with the success that his earlier films did. In fact, his box office sheen has worn thin and Pixels was a perfect example of why. I like Sandler and some of his earlier films were decent. Why he continues to pump out obnoxious garbage like this is beyond me. I take that back. I DO know why and he is laughing all the way to the bank. Pixels has an interesting premise; aliens send our video games back to Earth to destroy us. Filled with gags that fall short, annoying characters and a deathly unfunny script, Pixels is a disaster.
3- Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser premiered on HULU for free and with good reason. No one should pay to see this film. I had the unfortunate experience to watch the first Joe Dirt film and the second one in one sitting. They are supposed to be silly, but these films stretch the limit on silly. They are poorly written, directed and acted. They are just plain dumb and devoid of any nuance or subtext. David Spade is a decent actor and writer, but everyone’s talents are wasted in a film that represents Southerners as a bunch of mullet wearing rednecks who have the brainpower of field mice. Even for free Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser is a waste of time. As if viewers did not suffer enough, they have released an extended addition of this moronic stupidity. Don’t waste your time or money on anything that has to do with Joe Dirt. It is not avant-gard or deserving of cult status. It is just dumb.
2- Get Hard stars Will Ferrell as a financier who is framed for fraud. He is given thirty days to get his affairs in order before he starts a ten year prison sentence. So what does he do? He hires a black car detailer (Kevin Hart) to teach him how to survive in prison. Because, don’t ya know, all black people have been to prison?! Yup, that is the premise. All black people are represented as either poor people working menial jobs with no future, criminal thugs, or just plain dolts. White people are greedy, stupid and selfish and Hispanics are servants. This film is as racist, offensive and as witless as anything I have ever seen. Hart and Ferrell are funny guys and should know better than to sign on for a piece of crap like this. Get Hard is horrendous and offensively bad.
1- Ridiculous Six was film financed by Netflix and since Beasts of No Nation has the Academy Awards noticing that film, then it is only fair that I look at the flip side. Another Adam Sandler film, made infamous during its filming when the Native Americans collectively walked off of the set in defiance of the way they and their heritage were being treated. With good reason. Like Get Hard, this film is one racist joke after another. Add in fart and poop jokes, horrible acting and scene after scene of bone crushing, soul sucking attempts at satirical Blazing Saddles like humor that fails in EVERY ATTEMPT, you have the worst film of 2015. Needlessly two solid hours long, I did not laugh or smile once. This film is an absolute atrocious monstrosity.
As if our suffering was not enough here are a couple of films that were bad but just missed the list. Fifty Shades of Grey was a huge hit raking in hundreds of millions of dollars. There are two more films on the way, so our suffering is not over by a long shot. Based on the international best selling books, the film was boring and most of the real heat of the material was toned down for the film. Still loaded with plenty of sex and nudity, this film came across as a more of a made for pay cable vibe. Dakota Johnson is quite good and carries a large part of the film. But her chemistry with costar Jamie Dornan is nonexistent so the tawdry material just comes across as tasteless and without any point. This is an unimaginative and sterile filmmaking in its purest sense.
The Hallow was another schlocky horror film derivative of other much better horror films. A family moves into a dilapidated shack that is right in the middle of a forest filled with pixies from Hell. Only the lovely and talented Bojana Novakovic escapes with her integrity in tact.
Extinction is another horror film trying to cash in on the Walking Dead phenomenon and sorry but this film could not hold The Walking Dead’s bathwater. Lazy and slow Extinction stars Matthew Fox and Jeffery Donovan as survivors of the zombie apocalypse. Donovan has a daughter that may or may not actually be Fox’s daughter. I didn’t care and neither will you.
Minions was not altogether bad, but it was a major disappointment for me. After the Despicable Me films, I was psyched for my little yellow buddies to get their own film. It has its moments and this is great family entertainment, but most of the humor has been relegated to the younger kids, which is not how it was in the Despicable Me films. The kids will love it, but adults expecting more of the adult oriented humor that worked so well in the Despicable Me films will be sorely disappointed.
Terminator Genisys also has its moments and it is almost entirely because of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to the iconic role that made him a star. Too bad the film fails to generate the mystery and the suspense of the previous Terminator films. The weakest film of the franchise and one of the more disappointing films. The expectations were high and then dashed on the rocks below.
Tomorrowland was a heavily built up film with a monstrous price tag. Despite the terrific production values, crisp visual effects and a wonderfully spunky performance by Britt Robertson, Tomorrowland ended up being a depressingly and pointless exercise even with the grumpy old man syndrome as played by George Clooney. Disney took a beating as the box office showed just how bad this film did. Not awful but after all of the build up, a major let down.
There you have it. Hopefully we won’t have to hear about these films for a long, LONG time. Thank you again, viewers and readers for all of your support and here is to new year with endless possibilities. Thank you all very much. See ya soon with more news, views and reviews.