Check out our slideshow of the 2013 Best Picture Oscar Nominees.
The timing of this column prevents me from commenting on the 2013 Academy Award nominations, which were announced this morning (bold predictions: Les Miserables scores more than 12 nominations, Matthew McConaughey is snubbed for Magic Mike).
Of greater relevance to our interests are the nominations for the 33rd annual Razzie awards, announced yesterday. Unsurprisngly, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 led the pack with 11 nominations. Not really a bold move, considering the franchise has been hammered by the Golden Raspberry Foundation since the first film came out. Adam Sandler also scored big, getting eight nominations for That's My Boy.
For all the critical acclaim flying around today (can you even get odds on Daniel Day-Lewis?), let's not forget 2012 had plenty of stinkers, not all of which spring immediately to mind. My bottom 10 can be found after the jump.
In no particular order, accompanied (where applicable) by quotes from my reviews. And bearing in mind I can only list movies I've actually seen (sorry, Oogieloves Big Balloon Adventure).
And no, Breaking Dawn Part 2 did not make my list. Bad as it was, it was still better than these.
You can almost see the internal studio memos scrolling across the screen. From the casting ("Rihanna will help secure the coveted 13-22 M/F demo") to the alien war machines ("Transformers: DotM $1.2bn gross suggests robot mod for all current properties") to the soundtrack ("Music should be of heavier 'rock' variant, though familiar enough to be non-threatening: suggest STP and AC/DC"), there's not a second of this movie that hasn't been tweaked to squeeze the maximum number of dollars out of people who are not yet sick of hearing "Thunderstruck."
None of this should be very surprising, of course, screenwriter John Gatins' previous works read like a top ten list of movies for people who loved Tuesdays with Morrie: Coach Carter, Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story (that's the actual title), Real Steel. Alcoholism remains a serious problem, but it's hard to take seriously when Zemeckis and Gatis have drenched their story in such rank sentimentalism (or, even worse, John Goodman's bizarrely comic turn as Whip's favorite coke dealer).
Playing for Keeps
I understand how romantic comedies are supposed to work -- believe me, I've seen enough of them -- but as Van Helsing said, "we have to pass through bitter waters before we reach the sweet." Even Julia Roberts presumably had to toss a few salads before getting her happily ever after in Pretty Woman. I fail to see why "George Dryer" should be any different.
Piranha 3DD The original (well, the original remake) directed by Alexandre Aja in 2010 should have been a complete disaster, but an enthusiastic cast and inspired gore somehow made the final effort, well, good (also, Kelly Brook). Last year's sequel more than fulfilled the disaster potential, in spite/because of the presence of David Hasselhoff and Gary Busey, and the return of Ving Rhames. The only upside: we elected to watch it On Demand instead of drive to an actual theater.
I understand the desire to secure a comfortable life for your children, which is why Neeson agreeing to star in Taken 2: And Call Me in the Morning makes sense. But one can see his regret for the decision building as the movie unfolds. It doesn't help that there's none of tension of the original, such as the disturbing imagery of strung out teenagers, or the hard stop of the 96 hours Mills has to find his daughter. The character's resignation is almost palpable: "I have to rescue my ex-wife now? *SIGH*" How 'bout a little urgency, buddy? I guarantee Hoxha and company don't have pleasant designs on Lenore.
[Klugman's] choice of leading man doesn't help. Let's be honest, Cooper's at his best when playing a jagoff. He's like Bradley Whitford in that respect (maybe it's just the name "Bradley"). Here, he appears fundamentally unable to convey anything but quiet embarrassment for his actions.
Hollywood has a Philip K. Dick problem. Don't get me wrong, studios seem to appreciate the famed author's work, and have optioned several of his properties for feature films (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep begat Blade Runner, "The Golden Man" begat Next, etc etc). Trouble is, they can't help butching up his stories with action sequences and chase scenes that are often completely absent from the source material (Minority Report, Paycheck). It's almost as if Hollywood doesn't trust its own audiences' capacity to comprehend Dick's frequently visited themes of subjective reality and malleable identity.
The "Not So Brief Plot Synopsis" of The Watch could just as easily have read: "dick joke, dick joke, gay joke, dick joke, piss joke, gangsta rap gag done better 13 years ago in Office Space, Andy Samberg cameo, dick joke." The variety of references to male genitalia and how they can best be utilized is truly staggering, but stops being funny around the 15-minute mark. Then again, without them you'd barely have enough material to fill a sitcom, much less a feature film.
And now that I mention it, the setting itself is a problem. The Chernobyl disaster killed thousands and is still causing suffering and hardship to millions affected by the incident in Ukraine and Belarus, yet to Parker and company it's merely a gimmick to squeeze a few more bucks from the dwindling population of moviegoers not yet bored out of their minds by idiots venturing into catacombs in the black of night.
TIE: Wrath of the Titans/Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
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I sincerely hope you don't remember any of that Edith Hamilton stuff you read when you were a kid, otherwise Wrath of the Titans is going to make your brains leak out of your head holes. I mean, Clash played pretty fast and loose with the old myths, but Wrath is basically the Scarlett to Clash's Gone with the Wind. Was Io brought back to life just to conceive and give birth to Helius? What the hell is the minotaur doing in Tartarus (not that they refer to him by name)? Didn't we used to take Ralph Fiennes seriously as an actor?
Meanwhile, I almost felt bad for Nicolas Cage in GR:SoV. He so clearly wanted to make a faithful adaptation, and is actually a big fan of the comic (not so much so that he'd name his kid Johnny Blaze, however). The ensuing slapdick production, however, made the original Ghost Rider look like The Dark Knight. Even better: as long as Cage still has tax hassles, he'll keep cranking them out.
And giving interviews that are this full of glorious, unmitigated horseshit.