Thursday, 12 December 2013

2013 film countdown, part 2: electric boogaloo

Time for some bad films. Here are the best of the worst of 2013.

2013 in film: bottom 5

5) The Act of Killing

We start off with a documentary that follows Indonesian death squad leaders as they recreate their mass killings on film.

It's an intriguing concept to see these hired killers go about their lives and bring to the screen re-enactments of some pretty gruesome acts, and it makes for some uncomfortable viewing. It's certainly very confronting and shocking at times. However, that is not the reason why it is in my bottom five.

Indeed, this movie could have ranked much higher because of the interesting subject matter and what it tries to do with it, but I felt it ultimately lets itself down because it was just not made very well. I found it lacked focus and needed some heavy editing. I watched the director's cut at the Sydney Film Festival, which I thought ran far too long and was all over the place.

Kudos to director Joshua Oppenheimer for taking on this project, but sadly the film falls flat.

4) Star Trek Into Darkness

A couple of points before I begin with this one. Firstly, I loved Star Trek and its spin-off series growing up (Deep Space Nine being my personal favourite of the TV shows, but I digress) and even enjoyed a few of the shittier films (not 5 though, never 5). Secondly, I liked the first of the J.J. Abrams Star Trek films and appreciate what the reboot did for the franchise. However, I think Star Trek Into Darkness is a piece of crap.

Starfleet is hit with a terrorist act by rogue agent by the name of Commander Harrison. Kirk and crew go after him. Ok, I can dig it. There's this whole smoke and mirrors thing about who Harrison is and what his motives are. Spoilers: turns out he's Khan Noonien Singh, ultimate baddie from perennial favourite, The Wrath of Khan. Nice twist, right? But from here, I think Abrams and co. fuck it up. They continue the charade for a bit longer that Khan may be doing what he's doing for noble reasons, fighting corrupt actions by the Starfleet higher-ups. But eventually they reveal that he's the same bad guy that he was in the original series and films. He then goes on to be all menacing and stuff while Abrams shows off his Trek knowledge by pretty much copying scenes from The Wrath of Khan.

I mean, c'mon, do something original, guys. That's what a reboot is good for. Instead, everything that happens in this has pretty much happened before, and the reboot becomes just an expensive rehash.

Star Trek Into Darkness is just a mindless action film that does not entertain a great deal or offer anything new. After seeing this, I fear what Abrams will do when he gets his hands on the Star Wars franchise.

3) The Counselor

Dear oh dear. You'd think a film from the guy that made Alien and Blade Runner, written by the guy who wrote The Road, with a names like Fassbender, Cruz, Diaz, Bardem, and Pitt attached to it would be fantastic. The Counselor, unfortunately, is a complete mess.

Michael Fassbender is the titular lawyer that gets involved in drug trafficking and quickly finds himself in over his head. Penelope Cruz is his girlfriend, Brad Pitt is his business partner, Javier Bardem is...

Oh, who gives a shit.

Look, just don't see this film. It's a horrible train wreck. The plot is convoluted (what the fuck was the point of that scene with Cameron Diaz and the car?), the dialogue is unnecessarily vague, and it's just badly put together. Outside of Uwe Boll's notorious body of work, I can't remember a cast that's been wasted so thoroughly. It's such a shame that such a promising project on paper turned out to be so terrible.

Side-note: A bit weird that this is called The Counselor (one L) in some markets and The Counsellor (two Ls) in others. I guess it adds to the baffling quality of the film.

2) ParaNorman

Probably the most utterly forgettable film that I saw this year. I even had to look it up to remember what it was about.

IMDb says, "A misunderstood boy takes on ghosts, zombies and grown-ups to save his town from a centuries-old curse." There you go.

I will point out that I watched this movie because it was nominated for the Oscar for best animated feature, which I guess is always a dangerous thing to do with so few solid candidates each year.

ParaNorman is guilty of being so uninteresting that you question why it was even made.


1) Sharknado

Sharks. Tornadoes. Sharknado. I think that was an actual line from one of the original trailers for the film. Pure genius.

I almost feel bad putting this at the top spot. Almost. Make no mistake, this is a bad film. It's laughably bad. And perhaps that is why it doesn't deserve the "worst movie" label, because some of the other films mentioned in this post were just plain bad (looking at you, Counselor). That said, it does deserve some recognition for its so-bad-it's-good worth-watching-once quality, and perhaps this is a fitting way to do it.

There's not really much to the plot at all, but here's the official trailer:

Some of the highlights of the movie are (spoilers ahead): a house, on top of a hill, somehow gets flooded, and then somehow gets filled with sharks, and then somehow EXPLODES from all the water; tornadoes--sorry, Sharknadoes--can apparently be diffused using bombs thrown down from helicopters; "we're going to need a bigger chopper"; excellent use of chainsaw; and the "twist" ending.

But really, the script is awful, the acting from the cast of washed up actors is awful, the laughable scenes are few and far between (you know it's bad when most of the good bits are in the trailer), and once you've seen it you don't ever want to watch it again, which makes it a bad film in my book.

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