10 for ’10: Worst Movies

26 12 2010

Catch up with the idea behind this series here.

How do you know when it’s been a bad year for the movies?  Answer: when you have to narrow down a field of the year’s worst.  There were WAY too many candidates for this 2010’s worst of the year; I had to whittle down from a list of 20 to get an ultimate 10.  You’ll notice that “I Am Love” is absent from this list despite me giving it a flat F, and that’s because I saw it way back in 2009.

So enjoy – or cringe – this list of movies so bad, they don’t even get a snide remark under the picture.  They just get linked back to my review from earlier in the year when I totally trashed them.  Take the time to look at the reviews if you need convincing – I think I write my best stuff when I’m mad as #&*$ writing a bad review.

(NOTE: These are the worst movies that I saw this year.  There are probably much worse out there that I simply refuse to subject myself to watching.)

10.
Grown Ups

9.
The Last Airbender

8.
Alice in Wonderland

7.
Clash of the Titans

6.
Splice

5.
Dinner for Schmucks

4.
MacGruber

3.
The Bounty Hunter

2.
The Wolfman

1.
Marmaduke

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“Alice in Wonderland” Poll Results

21 12 2010

Best Picture nominee “Alice in Wonderland.” Only at the Golden Globes, right?  But could it happen at the Oscars?

As a major dark horse, it could happen. I think the nomination for “The Blind Side” last year was just a perfect storm of events – the money, the publicity, the truth, and the heart. But what if it was just the money after all? What if Academy voters slipped in “The Blind Side” just to balance out a movie like “An Education” which hadn’t made $10 million?

It’s likely that “127 Hours” will barely clear that same mark, and what better than the second-highest grossing movie of the year to cancel it out? (I’m only playing devil’s advocate, of course).

I don’t think this will actually happen, and judging by the poll, you don’t either. 3 out of the 4 voters in the poll said they didn’t think “Alice in Wonderland” had a shot at a Best Picture nomination.  One brave voter dared to say it would. Good luck with that prediction, and I pray to a high power that you are wrong at the sake of the Academy’s credibility as a voting organization.





Oscar Moment: “Alice in Wonderland”

30 10 2010

I’m sorry, did someone say “Best Picture nominee ‘Alice in Wonderland?'”  Are we talking about the Tim Burton version?

I don’t know what they are smoking over at Disney’s awards department, but apparently someone thought it was a good idea to launch an all-out awards push for “Alice in Wonderland” for Best Picture.  As some blogger put it, “I guess a billion dollars does buy you anything.”

If Disney had put out an FYC ad asking voters to remember the costumes, the visual effects, and the set design of the movie, I would be just fine.  But an ad asking voters to consider the movie for Best Picture and other major categories?  Get real.  This is a movie that was completely dismissed by critics, scoring a 51% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 53 on Metacritic.  I gave the movie a generous C, which in retrospect may have been too lenient.  Here’s an excerpt from my review to give you a slight taste of my feelings about the movie:

Burton said that his intention was to “try and make Alice feel more like a story as opposed to a series of events” because he never felt an emotional connection between the characters in the original.  In this respect, his version is an utter disaster.  I saw exactly the opposite of what he intended: Alice wandering from place to place with absolutely no plot building.

Just because “Avatar” was a good-looking movie that made a lot of money and got a Best Picture nomination does not mean that the formula works for every good-looking movie that makes a lot of money.  “Avatar” was a good movie, certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and reached universal acclaim status on Metacritic.  Disney has a bona fide Best Picture contender in “Toy Story 3,” and it could very well win if their cards are played right.  Why on earth they feel like wasting a penny on a movie that I think has no shot in hell at receiving an Oscar nomination is totally beyond me.

I expect the movie to pick up a few tech nominations and maybe win a few guild prizes.  However, if “Alice in Wonderland” gets a Best Picture nomination, it will be the final nail in the Academy’s coffin of irrelevance.

BEST BETS FOR NOMINATIONS: Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, Best Makeup, Best Visual Effects

OTHER POSSIBLE NOMINATIONS: Best Picture (?)





REVIEW: Alice in Wonderland

21 03 2010

No matter your opinion on director Tim Burton, it can’t be denied that the man has some true creativity.  This spark is what gained him notoriety in the late ’80s and early ’90s with hits like “Beetlejuice,” “Edward Scissorhands,” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”  Recently, however, Burton has seemed to have found that creativity isn’t always synonymous with originality, and has mainly spent the past five years retooling other people’s work.

But while Burton puts his own unique spin on these projects, I have felt that each of them has lost a very distinct part of their original identity.  With his remake of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” the movie lost most of its original charm and fun.  His film adaptation of “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” dropped a sizable portion of Stephen Sondheim’s songs, and the story lost a great deal of character development.

Unfortunately, “Alice in Wonderland” falls into the same pattern.  This time, Burton has stripped the movie of a lot of its sense.  Granted, this is a fairly non-sensical story, so this isn’t the worst movie to receive this treatment.  But Burton makes it lose even the most basic coherency, and no movie can be excused for that.

It’s hard to describe what exactly Burton’s take on “Alice in Wonderland” actually is.  It is not a remake of the Disney animated classic like I assumed it would be.  But it is not any sort of sequel, prequel, revamping, or modernizing of anything we have ever seen.  This version is just off in its own little world, reminding us of our favorite characters but never giving us any reason to fall in love with them again.

The story follows Alice (Mia Wasikowska) at the age of 19, once again drawn by the white rabbit into the magical world where the impossible is very possible.  The land is now being ruled by the ruthless Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), whose reign of terror is enforced by the fearsome Jabberwocky.  Alice becomes public enemy #1 whenever it is foreseen that she will slay the beast.  To ensure that her head stays on her shoulders, Alice enlists the help of the White Queen (Anne Hathaway) along with a few other oddballs including the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp).

Burton said that his intention was to “try and make Alice feel more like a story as opposed to a series of events” because he never felt an emotional connection between the characters in the original.  In this respect, his version is an utter disaster.  I saw exactly the opposite of what he intended: Alice wandering from place to place with absolutely no plot building.

On the acting side of things, this is obviously Mia Wasikowska’s big moment, and this movie is obviously going to get her noticed.  I’m sure this is only the beginning of many movies that we see this young talent in.  As for the old pros, the only person that seems to be having any fun is Helena Bonham Carter.  She makes the character her own, and it works.  Not to mention, she made me chuckle every time she spat out the Red Queen’s trademark phrase “off with her head!”  Johnny Depp can’t seem to make any more sense out of the Mad Hatter than we can, and in Anne Hathaway’s brief moments on screen, she seems to be fascinated only with twirling around the set like a ballerina.

In fact, the only thing about “Alice in Wonderland” that was executed exceptionally well was the mischievous Cheshire Cat, voiced by British comedian Stephen Fry.  Striking the perfect balance between cute and dastardly, I found myself consistently begging for the blue smoke to materialize into the devilish kitty.  But most of my wishing was not rewarded, much like my wishing for the movie to become something other than a mess.  However, it is a mess that is distinctly Tim Burton – whether that’s good or not is up to you.  C /





Shameless Advertisement #10 – March

1 03 2010

And now, the moment you have all been waiting for … it’s MAAAAAAARCH (as if Oprah were screaming it)!

The poll results yield four one-vote getters: “Green Zone,” “She’s Out Of My League,” “The Bounty Hunter,” and “Hot Tub Time Machine.”

However, with three votes, the most anticipated movie of March 2010 is…

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What To Look Forward To in … March 2010

12 02 2010

There’s more to March than just the Oscars.  Finally, March arrives and we can stop dwelling on 2009.  In my opinion, March is usually a pretty decent movie month.  This year’s crop looks especially promising with new movies from Tim Burton, Paul Greengrass (“The Bourne Ultimatum”), and Noah Baumbach (“The Squid and the Whale”).

March 5

After almost 3 months, “Avatar” will have to cede those illustrious 3-D and IMAX screens to Tim Burton’s twist on “Alice in Wonderland.”  The titular character is played by relative newcomer Mia Wasikowsa, who will look quite a bit older than the Alice you remember from Disney’s 1951 animated classic.  If that’s not a big enough draw for you, surely Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter (who will hopefully channel more of his glorious Jack Sparrow than his Jacko-esque Willy Wonka) will suffice.  No?  How about Helena Bonham Carter as the Queen of Hearts?  Or Anne Hathaway as the White Queen?  Perhaps Alan Rickman as the Caterpillar?  No doubt about it, this is one exciting cast, and I’m sure Tim Burton won’t have any problem distinguishing himself from the numerous “Alice in Wonderland” rip-offs that have sprouted over the past few years.

“Brooklyn’s Finest” is directed by Antoine Fuqua, helmer of “Training Day,” which was enough to get me interested.  However, it really looks to be little more than a mash-up of every cop movie ever made.  But hey, that may be your thing, which would make this your potpourri.

March 12

I’m excited for “Green Zone,” which looks to be a smart political thriller. See my previous post at the release of the trailer for more info.

On the indie side of things, Noah Baumbach looks to return to Oscar form after “Margot at the Wedding” underwhelmed with “Greenberg.”  The movie stars Ben Stiller as Greenberg, the grouchy misanthrope who finds a reason to be pessimistic about everything.  However, a special woman comes along and begins to melt his heart.  I’m looking forward to a double-edged performance from Stiller, one that can show off his dramatic chops but also give us plenty of hearty laughs.

Seth Rogen’s four roommates in “Knocked Up” were equally as funny as he was. Each of them have slowly gotten their “moment”: Jonah Hill in “Superbad,” Jason Segel in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” Now, it could be Jay Baruchel’s turn. “She’s Out of My League” pits him similar situation: the uncomely guy getting the smoking hot babe. Hopefully Paramount gives this the push it deserves, maybe making Baruchel a breakout comedic star of 2010.

Could “Remember Me” get Robert Pattinson the Razzie for Worst Actor? After narrowly missing the cut for his two performances as Edward Cullen, this could finally be the one to get him the kind of awards attention he deserves.

Forest Whitaker is an Academy Award winning actor. What on earth is he doing in “Our Family Wedding?” For that matter, America Ferrera has won SAG and Golden Globe awards, and Carlos Mencia was once actually funny! This looks not only insufferable but almost racist. Plus, didn’t I see this movie in 2005 when it was called “Guess Who?”

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