Was 2011 a great year for film? Well, yes and no. It certainly was much better than last year’s crop of freshly-laid turds, many of which made me question my continued desire to live on a planet that allows January Jones to have a lucrative TV and movie career. Still, 2011 was marred by record low attendance and a staggering number of sequels/remakes with 28 — the most in movie history. Now, I’m sure many of you are expecting this list is to be filled with cinematic diarrhea like Jack & Jill, The Smurfs, Zookeeper, Chipwrecked, Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part I, New Year’s Eve, etc., because it’s obvious these are the types of “films” that are the retarded harbingers of the horrifying future America Mike Judge warned us all about in Idiocracy. But, I can’t in good conscience write about those stinkers because I didn’t pay to sit through any of them. I had to limit this list to the movies that I plopped down my hard-earned cash for either in the theater or through the
magical glowy wonder box Netflix Instant Streaming. That being said, even though you won’t get to see me eviscerate Hank Azaria’s performance as Gargamel, there is still enough horrific celluloid shlock here to make you wish that movie cameras were never invented. So without further ado, here are my Top Ten Worst Movies of 2011!
10.) Real Steel
If you’ve seen the first Rocky movie, and Stallone’s arm wrestling-meets daddy issues classic 80′s cheesefest Over The Top, then there truly is no reason to see Real Steel, because Real Steel is just an outright ripoff of those two movies, with actual robots in place of Talia Shire (see what I did there?). It’s not that Real Steel is a horrible movie, it’s just an utterly derivative and formulaic one. From the moment I sat down, I knew exactly what was going to happen, and could easily predict all the emotional beats the movie was trying to hit long before they happened. The film is competently shot, lit, edited, cast, and features some excellent effects work, but that’s about all the positivity I can muster for a movie that is just one giant “washed-up underdog triumphs against overwhelming odds and learns to love himself and others” cliché.
9.) Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
If Keith Richards’ drunken, indecipherable British schtick was stale and tired 20 years ago, then what does that make Johnny Depp’s watered-down, PG-rated impression of Keith Richards’ drunken, indecipherable British shtick? The answer is: embarrassing. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is an arbitrary installment of a franchise that got too bloated and convoluted for its own good somewhere during the first hour of the second movie, Dead Man’s Chest. Aside from Depp’s painfully obvious phone-in job here, On Stranger Tides features a slashed budget that all but eliminated the cool zombie/sea creature effects masterfully rendered by the ILM wizards; a tedious, pointless romance between two superfluous dullards (one’s a mermaid, the other a missionary) shoehorned in for the Harelequin romance novel-reading crowd; Ian McShane as the legendary pirate Blackbeard, who doesn’t really get to do anything remotely badass or even interesting; and a slap-dash ending that completely rips off Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Speaking of which, if I could quote the aforementioned Last Crusade in the context of Depp’s decision to torment audiences for the next ten years in this tired role: “He chose…poorly.”
8.) Red State
By now, most of us know the story of Kevin Smith: fat, broke convenience store clerk somehow lands an attractive, thin wife and builds a financially successful entertainment career by maxing out a dozen credit cards in 1993 to make Clerks; inadvertently launching an entirely new cinematic genre where 20-something slackers sit around spewing dick jokes and pages of pseudo-existential dialog while Soul Asylum songs drone on in the background. With Red State, Smith attempted to break away from his stoner cinema roots and make a “statement” film about post-911 America and the disturbing fanaticism of hardcore right-wing evangelical sects. The result is a sloppy mess of a film that shows a lot of promise early on with an intriguing horror-meets-religion premise (as well as a chilling sermon by the uber-creepy Michael Parks), but never follows up on it — eventually devolving into a hackneyed FBI vs. cultists stand-off picture in which *Spoilers* almost every major character is arbitrarily killed before they can do anything of consequence or complete their arcs. Smith promised his first “horror” movie and hyped it for years as a really dark and disturbing concept, but the end product is a disjointed, preachy mess; ironically just as inconsequential as any of his slacker comedies.
7.) Season of the Witch
Season of the Witch is one of those laughably bad movies that should only be viewed (intentionally) at 2 AM on Netflix streaming after knocking back a six-pack, just to see how terrible Nic Cage’s latest hairpiece is. This movie is nothing more than a rote, “transport a prisoner from point A to point B” flick, and predictably, most of the secondary characters get killed in various cliched ways until the final destination is reached and the hideously-rendered CGI is unleashed on a weary audience trying to stay awake to get to the end credits. Awful.
6.) Battle: Los Angeles
Battle: Los Angeles is an insidious marriage between the most expensive military recruitment video ever made, and the most cliche-ridden alien invasion film ever made. There are no characters in Battle: L.A., only screaming military ciphers that no discerning moviegoer could possibly give a fuck about, as well as frustratingly nondescript alien invaders that have been done far better in movies like ID4, War of the Worlds, and hell, even Skyline. (Note to studio execs: when a God-awful travesty like Skyline is compared favorably to your film, you know you fucked up). If you like 90-plus minutes of grunting, shooting, and army jargon, this is the movie for you. It’s not so much a film, as it is a floor demo for a high-end Blu-ray home theater system. Michael Bay-lite for the military fetishist crowd.