Saturday, February 04, 2012

The Worst Films of 2011

If you're wondering why THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE II (FULL SEQUENCE) isn't repeating its predecessor's achievement in topping my Worst of the Year list, the answer is that I had no desire to watch it.

1. BATTLE LOS ANGELES (Jonathan Liebesman, 2011)

Using rapid-fire edits and dispensing with a tripod have been action movie trends for some years, but BATTLE LOS ANGELES pushes these techniques to the limit in a film that is absolutely incomprehensible. No logic exists in how shots are juxtaposed. The nonstop noise and visual bombardment is so fatiguing that it practically induces blindness, as though the information overload shuts down one’s eyes for a few seconds at a time. Rather than entertaining with the military fending off an alien invasion, BATTLE LOS ANGELES assaults the viewer.

2. BELLFLOWER (Evan Glodell, 2011)

With its homemade flamethrowers and MAD MAX-inspired DIY car, BELLFLOWER arrives at the toxic intersection of indie film, fanboy sensibilities, and Etsy. This exceedingly dark plunge into wounded masculinity is merely an artier, Instagram-filtered version of the hypnotically awful cult film THE ROOM.

3. APOLLO 18 (Gonzalo López-Gallego, 2011)

Never mind that the overactive sound design and aggressive cutting in APOLLO 18 blows its found footage conceit. If it is what it purports to be--a document condensing leaked footage of the last manned mission to the moon--withholding secrets until late is pointless in this form, especially if what we’re seeing had previously been uploaded to the internet . While waiting for the filmmakers to reveal the supposedly shocking truths, this tedious fake documentary wanders aimlessly and abuses the Super 8 filter. Making APOLLO 18 in a standard form might not have resulted in a less stupid film, but it surely would have been a better one.

4. THE DARKEST HOUR (Chris Gorak, 2011)

A hot young cast, class of 2007, fills a feature film reminiscent of a lousy TV pilot when networks were churning out LOST clones. The alien invaders are usually invisible, which eases the strain on the FX budget but doesn’t do much for creating excitement while the bland survivors roam a deserted Moscow.

5. NEW YEAR’S EVE (Garry Marshall, 2011)

NEW YEAR’S EVE plays out as if it is an experiment in auto-generated screenplay writing and cast like one fills teams for a draft in fantasy sports leagues. Take a bunch of generic storylines, populate them with recognizable actors, fill a lot of the inconsequential roles with other familiar performers, and toss it all together to create a big pile of ambivalence. Nothing about it feels personal, funny, sad, romantic, or vital in the slightest way. It’s as revelatory as emptying one’s mind and staring at the wall for two hours.

6. JUST GO WITH IT (Dennis Dugan, 2011)  

JUST GO WITH IT features an extraordinarily bad match of star Adam Sandler and farcical material. Sandler has never been the most energetic screen presence, and this romantic comedy’s slack pace kills any potential humor found in the deceptions and misunderstandings. As with GROWN UPS, JUST GO WITH IT feels like a way for the actor to subsidize a vacation with friends under the guise of making a movie.

7. ZOOKEEPER (Frank Coraci, 2011)

If a thousand monkeys at a thousand typewriters can produce Shakespeare, then ZOOKEEPER must have been banged out by one primate pecking away at a keyboard between sessions playing on a tire swing. This nearly laugh-free amalgamation of DOCTOR DOLITTLE and NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM spends far too much time on romantic comedy machinations and away from the talking animals that are presumably the film’s calling card.

8. THE ROOMMATE (Christian E. Christiansen, 2011)

Say what you will about the bad qualities of THE ROOMMATE, and there are many, but it is easy to watch garbage worth a few derisive laughs. This thriller, which might as well have been titled SINGLE WHITE FEMALE: THE COLLEGE YEARS, fails to nurture a sense of isolation or palpable fear. Then again, it’s hard to feel scared when stars Minka Kelly and Leighton Meester give such hilariously terrible performances.

9. BEASTLY (Daniel Barnz, 2011)

The Classics for Tweens adaptation BEASTLY bedazzles the oft-told BEAUTY AND THE BEAST story with smart phones, social media, tattoos, and Jujubes, but such contemporary things won’t keep kids from noticing how super lame it is. It’s a bad CW drama posing as a feature film and one undisguised as a Hollywood executive’s wish to horn in on that jackpot of sweet, sweet teen supernatural romance cash.

10. CONAN THE BARBARIAN (Marcus Nispel, 2011)

This remake is basically a gorier, bigger budgeted version of a basic cable or syndicated TV series. Lacking in personality and any narrative interest, it’s merely a repository for the gallons of digital blood spilled in the incessant battle sequences.

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