A good day to quit while they were ahead was the day they wrapped production on Live Free or Die Hard. This is one too many times drinking from a very dry well.
Movies to Avoid
Remember, I warned you. Each of these represent two hours of your life that you will be willing to kill your mother to get back.
The Green Hornet
I think someone learned the wrong lesson from the success of Iron Man. It’s either that or the movie studios need to implement drug testing before their pitch sessions.
“Hey, if Robert Downey, Jr. can be a comic book hero, what about that pudgy guy from the Judd Apatow movies?”
“Right… Here, fill this cup and give it to the nurse on your way out the door.”
It’s best not to think of The Green Hornet as a real comic book movie, but as a borderline “comedy” that somehow acquired the movie rights to the old radio show (presumably at gunpoint). That won’t actually make this movie “good,” per se, but it will at least keep expectations in line with reality and hold your disappointment to manageable levels.
The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)
Combine a completely unnecessary remake of a 1950s science-fiction classic with a starring role for Keanu Reeves and you have a recipe for nothing to get excited about. In that respect, the 2008 version of The Day the Earth Stood Still does not disappoint. It unsuccessfully tries to hide its narrative emptiness behind a noisy CGI light show and half-hearted lip service to a ripped-from-the-headlines current-events subject.
10,000 B.C. (2008)
If you are not going to entertain us, you could at least make it educational. A feature-length version of those Geico caveman commercials would have been better than this example of under-evolved, Neanderthal cinema.
Clichéd and historically suspect. At least it looks great on Blu-ray.
Shrek the Third
At least Disney has the sense to release its animated sequels direct to video, because no one wants to fork over ten bucks for one viewing of a craven attempt to cash in on our children’s affection for these characters. Dreamworks, of course, doesn’t have the luxury of a vast tradition of animated features. They have one tent-pole animated franchise, the Shrek movies, so they obviously feel forced to milk the property for everything they can until another they produce another hit.
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
I’m not much of a comic book aficionado, so I’m not certain where the Fantastic Four fit in the pantheon-slash-food-chain of super heroes. I guess the fact that I’m aware of them means they’re pretty popular. As a film franchise, however, they are strictly bush league. Continue reading
If Fox’s 1970 film Tora! Tora! Tora! was a little too academic and dry, then Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor is simply all wet. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I’ve rarely seen a movie find more ways to put the wrong foot forward. The tacked-on romantic triangle makes Titanic look like Jane Austen and Shakespeare combined. The historical accuracy is slightly more suspect than O.J. Simpson. The special effects turn one of the most solemn moments in American history into a video game.
Flight of the Phoenix
I didn’t think it was possible to do a bad imitation of Michael Bay without making it a deliberate parody, but this remake of the 1965 Jimmy Stewart classic manages to ape parts of Bay’s signature look while actually making Armageddon look like Citizen Kane in comparison.
While I would never knowingly recommend either of the two Joel Schumacher Batman movies to you, gentle readers, I think either of these two brain-dead cinematic exercises would be instructive to those responsible for Spider-Man 3. It could have helped them avoid that dread affliction known as elephantiasis of your villain roster. It’s what happens when you have three (or more) antagonists for your comic book hero to fight, fatally diluting the threat that any one of them poses. A quick review of Superman Returns might have also warned them of the dangers of dwelling too much on your hero’s girl troubles. Yes, Peter Parker’s relationship with Mary Jane is major part of the Spider-Man mythos, but there is such a thing as balance and this movie does not achieve it.
When Hasbro gets a production credit, you probably shouldn’t expect a deep, introspective, emotionally fulfilling cinematic experience. Combine that with direction by Michael Bay, and you have the movie-going equivalent of eating all of your little brother’s Halloween candy. It’s nutritionally empty and, after you come down off your sugar buzz, you feel guilty about enjoying yourself.
While everyone involved but the special effects teams will probably keep their Oscar acceptance speeches on ice for another year, the truth is that Transformers succeeds in being exactly what it tries to be. Of course, when you aim low, hitting your target is often just a matter of gravity.
This mutant, bastard stepchild of Easy Rider and City Slickers was miscarried some time during the process of conception. While William H. Macy can be counted on to deliver up some respectable films more often than not, he finds himself ensnared in a perfect storm found at the nexus between the cinematic dead zones known as Tim Allen and Martin Lawrence comedies. For his part, John Travolta’s career has been running on fumes for a while now. It’s probably time for him to do another Tarantino movie.