Daily Archives: 02/15/2005

The Bottom Of The Movie Barrel

And to wrap up my movie review mayhem, here’s the lousy movies I saw that really made me regret the time spent watching them.

  • The Manchurian Candidate – This Jonathan Demme remake of the Sinatra classic is a taut and enjoyable reinterpretation of Jonathan Frankenheimer’s original. It’s easily the best movie of this bunch. Instead of communists placing a brainwashed sleeper in the White House, it’s amoral global corporatists placing implants in people’s brains. The remake is a worthy contender to the original, with biting insights on the modern political process. It lacks the layers of the original, but the ending is original and entertaining.
  • The Hole – Well that was a disappointment. Started good, but quickly became predictable and terribly boring. And I mean completely predictable.
  • Dogville – Good gravy, it’s like Our Town on a bad acid trip. The movie is without a redeeming quality, in the aptly named town of Dogville. At first I thought it might be interesting, with the minimalist set and overtly theatrical lighting. But it quickly descends to an unending litany of horrors and abuse heaped on Nicole Kidman. The movie is the coarsest sort of allegory, without a single moment of redemption. The climax of the movie, when Kidman exercises her inevitable, terrible vengeance on the inhabitants of Dogville is ordained from the first frame. The movie tries to be anti-American, but ultimately it is a misanthropic fever dream. Utterly loathsome, probably one of the worst movies I’ve every seen.
  • The Chronicles of Riddick – It certainly comes off as an important blockbuster. High powered cast with Judi Dench, Thandie Newton, Colm Feore and Karl Urban making up for Vin Diesel’s lack of acting ability. Ultimately however, the movie was a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, yet signifying nothing.
  • I, Robot – I’ve seen this so-so Hollywood action flick far too many times. Blame it on Continental, they can’t get if off rotation on their flights. Over and over I got to watch Will Smith battle robots in a soulless movie. On the fifth viewing of this movie I felt like Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange, forced to watch this horrible thing, with toothpicks propping my eyelids open. This movie is like Troy, the swords ‘n sandals epic “inspired by Homer.” Though I, Robot shares the name with Isaac Asimov’s short story collection, and it features robots and the three laws of robotics, this is definitely not Asimov. Some hack took the idea of robots, tossed in a bunch of nonsensical violence, a few dozen explosions and Will Smith’s butt and called it a movie.
  • Without A Paddle – Here’s a bad sign: I seriously thought this movie was called Up A Creek – Never a good sign when you can’t remember the name of what you watched. This comes from the nothing ventured, nothing gained school of movie making. It ain’t terribly original, it ain’t really funny, but it ain’t really bad either. Basically a waste of time, but I have to confess it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. It was a way to kill a few hours during a trans-Pacific flight. Would I recommend it? Hell no, don’t waste time or money on this piece of crap, it only exists to kill time on a long haul across an ocean.
  • Raising Helen – Oof-duh. I can’t believe I watched this piece of fluff. The most preposterous movie I’ve seen in a long time. It was like a two hour pilot for a bad sitcom. Bad jokes, predictable plots and unbelievable characters. And the most unbelievable thing is this fantasy movie? She lands a job as a receptionist at a used car dealership and the job pays $19.50 an hour!! Sweet Jesus, whoever wrote the screenplay was on mushrooms or something. The things I will watch while riding a 747 across the Pacific.
  • The Village – I caught this on the airplane from Newark to Narita. Man, that Shymalian guy just gets worse and worse. I liked the Sixth Sense, Unbreakable was okay, the crop circle movie was stupid, and this movie really sucks. I mean it really, really sucked. The plot was completely transparent and utterly preposterous. Go back to making movies about ghosts and freaky medical conditions dude.
  • Suspect Zero – What was this, a special two hour episode of just about any crime drama on TV? I think so. It was a good episode of a tv show, but a nondescript movie. Ben Kingsley is good, but not much else is worthwhile in this Silence of the Lambs knockoff. Another waste of time on Continental’s 777 to Narita.
  • Vanity Fair – I only caught about half of this ponderous mess before the flight ended. Poor Reese Witherspoon is completely out of her depth in this ridiculous Masterpiece Theater wannabe. I’ve read Vanity Fair, and this movie is completely off base. Becky is far more avaricious, conniving and manipulative than how Witherspoon portrays her character. Witherspoon brings her character from Legally Blonde across the Atlantic, and gives her a British accent. What a disappointment. I really enjoyed some of Mira Nair’s earlier work (no, not Kama Sutra – though that was pretty hot). But this movie is a mess.