So here we are. 2010 comes to a close, 2011 is around the corner and, as always, there will be more films to see. Most hail from Hollywood, CA, but hundreds of films are also released globally every year, and damned if I won't be seeing at least some of them. 2011 promises to get a more comprehensive look from The Latest Issue, certainly more than 2010, when I basically started in May and was playing catch-up all year. I don't know how long it will take me to see everything I wanted from 2010, but 2011 promises to bring much more to the site, and I'm glad to say I'm ready for it. Big changes are on the horizon, and I wouldn't be here without the support of readers like yourself, or the random Google clicks that brings the rest of you to the site. As many of you already know, I already have a running tally of my Top 10 Films from 2010, based obviously on what I've watched this year. I like to think it's a fairly varied list, representative of the different styles of film I've enjoyed this year, but today I'm doing something different. Today I'm presenting to you (in my opinion) the worst films of 2010. With luck, you haven't seen any of these atrocities, but if you did at least you can live with the comfort that you weren't the only one who saw it and thought it was donkey dung. So without further ado, let's get this show started.
What makes a great short piece does not necessarily make a great film. The original trailer for Machete was a gag shown during Grindhouse back in 2007, but director Robert Rodriguez obviously thought he had a big deal on his hands, because he copy-pasted the silly story into a full-length piece of schlock. Hiring just about every actor in Hollywood with a bit of Latin in their veins, low-lights included Jessica Alba lamely inciting Mexican rebellion and hero Machete's anticlimactic battle with... Steven Seagal? Enjoyable if you shut off all outward sensory nodes, but what might have seemed like vintage exploitation film to the filmmakers comes off as pure crap stuck together with play-doh.
9) Iron Man 2
How do you follow up the surprising and innovative superhero action film that suddenly thrust Marvel Comics films into relevance? If you're director (and occasional actor) Jon Favreau, you take everything that made the original film so cool and throw it out the window of a Concord jet crossing the Atlantic, thereby ensuring it can never be recovered. Even getting past the unjustified firing of Terrence Howard and replacing the role of James "War Machine" Rhodes with Don Cheadle, the film simply lacks even the remotest amount of excitement that made the first so much fun to watch. Scarlett Johansson is completely miscast as Russian agent Natasha Romanoff (though she does have the best scene in the entire film) and Mickey Rourke played a bad guy that was so silly it was difficult to take him seriously. Hopes are high for forthcoming sequels and the Avengers movie, but this one failed to live up to even moderate expectations.
Clint Eastwood WOULD make the idea of what lies beyond the end of life dull beyond words. Despite an intriguing concept, Eastwood's latest effort reeks of formulaic storytelling, missed opportunities and characters we don't particularly care about, and for what reason I still can't fathom. Is he trying to get people to talk about the afterlife? Something people don't want to think about? Either way, wasted are performances by Matt Damon, Cecile de France and Bryce Dallas Howard on a script where no answers are really offered, and the whole thing reeks of an advertisement for New Age beliefs and practices.
7) The Tempest
I'll get more into this one on Monday, but here's the skinny: I'll normally watch Helen Mirren in anything, but this bloated retread of Shakespeare by director Julie Taymor is flat out boring, something the Bard should NEVER be in performance. Vacillating between low-tech theatrics and big-budget charlatanism, the film takes some big risks in casting and while some work out better than planned (Chris Cooper), others beg for forgiveness (Russell Brand). Also: Ariel's (Ben Whishaw) man-boobs. Disturbing.
6) The Warrior's Way
Hey, you got your Cowboy Western in my East Asian Fantasy! You got your East Asian Fantasy into my Cowboy Western! Wow, the two together taste like shit! Ninjas invade a small wild west town and not even strong performances by Geoffrey Rush and Jang Dong-gun and a cute baby can save them. Kate Bosworth should have been nominated for a Razzie, but I guess not enough people saw this film to give a damn to do even that. Worst: The best line in the trailer, Rush's "Ninja's, Damn," doesn't make an appearance once throughout the film's 100 minutes. Epic fail.
5) Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
From Jerry Bruckheimer, the maker of films like the horrid Pirates of the Caribbean sequels and G-Force, comes possibly the worst video game to movie adaptation since Doom. He must have asked Uwe Boll for assistance, because while the games for Prince of Persia are amazing experiences, the transformation reveals a film that would have needed more time polishing the special effects just to reach "mediocre" status. Besides the fact that American actor Jake Gyllenhaal should never have been cast as a Persian monarch under even the best of circumstances, any film hiring Ben Kingsley at this point in his career is just screaming that it could do better. That it was successful makes it even worse, since in 2012 it will be getting it's own sequel that you know will probably be on this list as well.
4) Repo Men
A futuristic sci-fi warning about the inherent dangers of Big Business? Based on a book that nobody cares about? With a lead actor, Jude Law, that I don't care for? I'm surprised that Repo Men didn't score higher on the list, but the film would have been worse without the almost criminal amounts of bloodletting that wrap around a plot that goes from zero to "meh" in what feels like four hours but in reality comes in under two. It should have been better with actors like Forest Whitaker, Alice Braga, Liev Schrieber and Carice van Houten, but the scripts does them no favors, lending entirely too much to Law's voice-overs and requiring a suspension of belief from it's audience that is far too unreasonable. One of the worst movies nobody saw this year.
3) Jonah Hex
Two words: Megan Fox. Okay, it would be unfair to put all the blame for the crime against nature that was Jonah Hex on her pretty little head, but the talent-less she-devil sure didn't help matters. A god-awful script by the duo Neveldine/Taylor didn't help, nor stars Josh Brolin or John Malkovich, who are otherwise good performers. Animator-turned-director Jimmy Hayward simply didn't deserve to be put in charge of this film, and I would find it hilarious if he was put in charge of any production crews in the near future. This title could be considered vintage, if that only meant hearkening back to the days of comic book films automatically being so bad that even fans of the comic hesitated showing their heads. And did I mention an awful acting job by Megan Fox?
I should have known better. I was warned. I even went in with low expectations hoping to be surprised. Wow, was I wrong. Despite the film's amazing visual effects, the film's scope was so small as to be restrictive to possible story arcs, and not a single character was even remotely likable. The result is a film that had so much potential boiling down to a stupid film starring Eric Balfour, which is what we should have noticed in the first place. I'd rather take next year's Battle L.A., since it seems from previews to be everything Skyline wasn't.
What hurts the most is that this film actually made money. I admit to thinking the theatrical trailer actually looked good when I saw it late last year, but the finished product was ugly, derivative, poorly acted and just generally unclean. I'm sorry, but the idea of God waging war on Earth for its transgressions and an angel played by Paul Bettany rebelling to save the last hope of humanity just SOUNDS too cool to mess up. This film is by far the number one reason I can't get excited for next year's Priest, thanks to the unholy link that is director Scott Stewart. And it was by FAR the worst film of 2010. Nobody else even came close.
I hope you enjoyed this special edition of The Latest Issue! We're washing our hands of 2010's mistakes and hoping for a new, brighter tomorrow, complete with a new month, a new year, and new films worth reviewing.
Happy New Year, and I'll see you in the future.