Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My Least Favourite Movies

"Least favourite films" is always an interesting topic of discussion - ranting can sometimes be more passionate than raving, after all. Regrettably, I have more than a few on my list.


Rendering power courtesy of half a PlayStation 1
First dishonourable mention goes to all the creature features from the SyFy (formerly sci fi) channel and production houses such as Nu Image. These are not B movies. These are an F- at best. The Shark Attack films are almost 50% stock footage (but watch Shark Attack 3: Megalodon for John Barrowman looking his most embarrassed-this movie made a Broadway star and showman embarrassed), the titular monsters of Komodo vs Cobra straight out of an early-90s video game and in Crocodile and Crocodile 2: Death Roll, the best actor seems to be the crocodile, itself an unconvincingly lifeless shell.
Moving on to real movies, many at the bottom of the barrel are superhero/comic book films. Catwoman, starring a sorely miscast Halle Berry, is to me the worst offender, as the comic book character of Selina Kyle has tremendous cinematic potential-an elegant, sultry cat burglar with a tragic past and magnetic chemistry with a crime-fighter on the other side of the law. However, the version we got was not even Selina Kyle. Everything didn't fit, from the casting to the horrific costume to the cheap-looking music video aesthetic.
Another female-driven comic book flick, Elektra, truly was the death knell for movies headlined by superheroines. It's a pity as Jennifer Garner is a good actress and would have been a terrific Elektra - had the material even come close to anything in the comics. Never mind that Elektra had no substance, it had no style to speak of either, blatantly trying to ape the look of Hong Kong wire-fu films to dismal effect.
It was impossible for me to keep a straight face when viewing Ghost Rider. I have never seen a film where everyone onscreen looks so thoroughly uninterested in the task at hand. It seems that Ghost Rider was attempting to be the next Blade, but ended up feeling more like Spawn. Nicolas Cage has never been more miscast and evil demons have never looked less frightening.  
Speaking of Spawn...actually let’s not dwell too much on that. A misguided, messy, incoherent attempt, the character makes a clumsy transition from comic book page to the screen, and this is not helped by a somewhat cartoonish feel and laughable computer-generated effects. A pity, as the practical and makeup effects are pretty good, and Michael Jai White could have well been a great superhero

Prepare for the very average!
 The Fantastic Four films narrowly escape being named because it seems that they were made with the intention of being fun, accessible and light family fare. The Fantastic Four movies weren't Batman Begins, but neither were they aiming to be.  I don’t want to belabour the point, there are enough people who don’t like Batman and Robin. I’m one of them, but by now the reasons why it is such risible garbage are all too clear, and I need not say any more.
I was quite upset with Aeon Flux: the MTV animated series on which it was based was edgy and quite interesting, but the film felt all too generic and was very poorly plotted and just looked bad. Charlize Theron in a wig and futuristic lingerie is about all that makes this worth half a look.
Two Jackie Chan films make the list: The Medallion and The Tuxedo. With the former, it was a sad case of "they changed it now it sucks", with Chan uncharacteristically relying on very unconvincing CGI, and aiming for a Hollywood effect by roping in actors such as Lee Evans, Claire Forlani, Julian Sands and even John Rhys-Davies to round out the cast. They didn’t help, not one bit.
The Tuxedo is the better of the two, but only because it benefitted from a Hollywood budget. Otherwise, it's more cringe-worthy slapstick, and more Jackie Chan moves being digitally sped-up. That, and the most unrealistic giant mosquitoes to have ever buzzed across the screen.
Chan's peer, action star Michelle Yeoh, is also an offender when it comes to trying to churn out Hollywood-style movies with limited resources and even less creativity. The Touch is a little-known 2002 film, and little-known for good reason. Its oriental mysticism-driven plot is uninspired and the visual effects dated by at least 15 years. The film is made mildly watchable by Richard Roxburgh's turn as an evil treasure-hunter. I just hope it put bread on his table.
Michelle Yeoh was also in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, a colossal disappointment. The film was clearly a step down from the first two, and even the lovely Maria Bello trying her darnest to live up to expectations set by Rachel Weisz couldn't salvage this video game-esque mess. This was a movie that promised a face-off between martial arts legends Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh-we got a mediocre swordfight instead. It's also a pity that at every given opportunity, the filmmakers replaced Jet Li with a CGI shapeshifted form. And don't get me started on the kung fu yetis.
I'll end off the list of cinematic east-meets-west faux pas with Bulletproof Monk-a sad, sad film where the sagest line is about how hot dogs come in packs of ten and buns in packs of eight, or something like that. Poor poor Chow Yun-Fatt: and to think he willingly suffered such indignity again in Dragonball: Evolution.

(All images used for illustrative purposes only.)

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