Thursday, January 9, 2014


Let's make this clear, writing a "Top Ten" list for the worst films you have seen in a year is never fun and as such you find little inspiration while writing about them.  Because of this my reasons for disliking a film are probably not very deep, but here you have my 


Long gone are the hey-days of Hong Kong action cinema.  It is almost hard to believe that back in the early 90’s, a new martial arts or action film seemed to come out every few weeks and the majority of them were brilliant.  From that era, it appears that only Donnie Yen is capable of providing the same thrills as he did back in the “golden era”, but what made “Special ID” so anticipated was that this was the first modern day actioner from Yen for almost six years (since 2007’s “Flashpoint”).  The film was originally meant to co-star Zhao When Zhao (another 90’s star) but that ended badly when Zhao walked off the set after the two stars butted heads over ego issues, which saw Andy On fill the vacant role.  While the film started off on shaky ground, when trailers were released for it, “Special ID” looked fantastic but sadly the film itself was anything but.  Everything about it seemed to be wrong from lack of screen chemistry between the stars, a nonsensical plot, absolutely horrible editing and even Donnie Yen’s fights were uninspired and flat.  Also for the first time, I was able to witness the effects age had taken on Yen and his skills.  There was one jump kick from Yen where he barely got off the ground, which truly surprised me (granted the man is over 50).  Sadly “Special ID” is anything but special, it is a true dud and one I will never watch again.

It is safe to say my love affair with Baz Luhrmann’s films is over.  After adoring his first three films, I have found his following two features to be shallow exercises with the director no longer able to balance his over the top style with any substance.  “The Great Gatsby” just was a hollow experience, with nothing feeling as if it came from a real place; every emotion felt fake, as did the film’s visual style.  Granted there are a couple of nice shots in the film, but amazingly for a film that has been so overproduced and designed, “The Great Gatsby” committed the greatest sin in being totally boring.  Worst of all, fine actors like Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan come off looking amateurish at best.  Sitting in the cinemas watching this film was one of the worst experiences I had for 2013.  “The Great Gatsby” is anything but great, “old sport”.

8.  MAMA
Besides the fact that the whole story of “Mama” is ridiculous, what really killed any enjoyment out of this film for me was the fact that director Andres Muschietti felt the need to regularly show the “monster” of the film (and in good light too) any chance he got, thus losing any potential scare factor this film may have had.  The amount of times we see “Mama” is too many to count and each time we do, the mystique of the character lessens.  While a lot of people felt the film ended in a beautiful and poetic manner, I found it to be a total cliché and knew exactly where the film was going from the opening frame.  I will concede that “Mama” had the potential to be a scary and chilling horror tale (complete with heart) but every directorial decision Muschietti made seemed to be the wrong one, and what was left was an almost inept story in its wake.  The only thing “Mama” had going for it was Jessica Chastain who is always great in whatever she does.

I should state that I think the director of “Dark Touch”, Marina de Van is a very interesting filmmaker.  I am a huge fan of her debut feature “In My Skin” and think that she brings a unique eye to whatever topic she attempts to tackle.  “Dark Touch” has all the attributes to be a great film, as well as being something different from the norm as the story is about the long lasting effects abuse has on a child, and what can manifest within a child who has been abused.  It is a dark topic to be sure, and after the splendid opening sequence, I thought I was in for a new horror classic but sadly it completely falls apart from there.  I found “Dark Touch” to be incredibly confusing and I never understood any of the character’s motivations, and this confusion continues to get worse as the film goes along until it implodes with its ridiculous finale.  By the end of the film I could not believe what I had just witnessed and how bad it was in telling its story coherently.  I will admit that the film’s visual style was pleasing to the eye, but besides that (and the fantastic opening) there is little to recommend about “Dark Touch”.  I believe the film had its heart in the right place, it has just been executed badly by de Van.  That said, there is something within me that wants to revisit “Dark Touch”, maybe to see if I was the cause of such confusion.  Until then though, I have to state that this was one of the most frustrating viewings I had had all year and a total wasted opportunity.

Do you know what?  I can barely even remember this big budget Hollywood film about magic and illusions, except that when it finished I was disgusted with the whole thing.  It had a smugness to it; it thought it was better and cleverer than it really was, and this was reflected in the performances with Jesse Eisenberg being the worst offender.  The film is also far too long, and you really feel the time passing because the pacing of “Now You See Me” is so bad.  It just does not have an internal rhythm to it at all.  However worst of all, is “Now You See Me” is just plain stupid and makes no sense at all and the final reveal wanted me to……I don’t know what.  I was just angry as all heck that I had wasted my time with this piffle.  I really hate this film!

I understand that Jackie Chan is well past his prime, and that with all the brilliant action movies he has given us in the past, he probably deserves a free pass this late in his career, but “Chinese Zodiac” was so bad a film that I just couldn’t let it go.  Worst of all was that this was a film I was seriously looking forward too.  Jackie Chan is a hero of mine, and as he has aged, the quality of his films has diminished (which is to be expected).  Chan stated that he wanted to make one more big budget “90’s style” action film, filled with fights and crazy stunts, before he semi-retired into quieter, smaller roles in the twilight of his career.  I was more than happy with that; the man deserves it for what he has given us, and it was great to see he wanted to go out on a high.  He then announced that the film would be the third installment of his “Armor Of God” series, which got me even more amped for the film.  Sadly the final product is nothing like what I was expecting.  It may even be the worst film of Jackie’s career with some truly terrible acting, some horrendous CGI, a ridiculous storyline not worthy of the “Armor of God” moniker, and some seriously underwhelming fights that do not push Jackie at all.  This is nothing like his 90’s work, and as such I was sadly disappointed.  There was literally only five minutes of “Chinese Zodiac” that I could stomach (which granted were action based), the rest is an abomination of a movie.  It is really hard to believe that the man who directed “Chinese Zodiac”, Jackie Chan himself, is the same guy who directed “Mr. Canton and Lady Rose”.  That film proved that Chan knew how to put together a film even when it didn’t have wall to wall action, but it appears that this is a talent long gone if “Chinese Zodiac” is any indication; this is amateur hour folks and I say avoid it all costs.

Remakes usually are regularly featured on these lists because they have a tendency to be quite underwhelming and without creative merit.  It surprises me that this is the only remake on my “Worst Films” list this year, but “Come Out And Play” is a serious shocker that was always going to be here.  “Come Out And Play” is a remake of the far superior 1976 film “Who Can Kill A Child?”, that tries to up the ante by adding more gore, while at the same time losing the social commentary of the original.  To say that it doesn’t work is an understatement.  “Come Out And Play” follows the plot of the original beat-for-dramatic-beat, but has none of the original film’s style or suspense.  It is also an incredibly boring film.  The fact that this remake is actually 25 minutes shorter than the original while feeling 25 minutes longer is an incredible feat and one that shouldn’t be passed over so quickly.  “Come Out And Play” has been made by a one man wrecking crew who goes by the name Makinov, and who wrote, directed, produced and edited the film while also being its director of photography and being involved in its sound department.  Me thinks he had a bit too much on his plate and could have benefitted from some extra help, but seeing that this is a man who dresses in a red balaclava to keep himself “mysterious”, I’m sure his ego wouldn’t have let anyone else near this project.  This is a disastrous film whose only reason for existence is to bring awareness to the much better original film.  Please search out “Who Can Kill A Child?” rather than watch this woeful remake.   Click here to read my original review.

I understand that the majority of the cinematic world is enamored by the work of Ben Wheatley, but I myself just do not get it.  Believe me, I have tried to like the man’s work, but after my viewing of “A Field In England” I have come to the conclusion that Wheatley and I will never be cinematic soul mates.  From “Kill List” onwards, I have seen all of his films just hoping to find the good that everyone else seems to see in his work but as of yet I have not liked any of his directorial outings with “A Field In England” being the very worst of the bunch.  This was an excruciating cinema experience as I did not understand a thing about this film, and right from the opening frame, I wanted it to end.  I know a lot of people are championing “A Field In England” as some sort of masterpiece, but for me it is anything but.  With the exception of a couple of funny lines of dialogue, there was nothing that I could recommend about this film; I hated everything about it, particularly its smeary video black and white look.  Both my brother and wife were with me when we went to see this film and the unanimous opinion was that it sucked in a major fashion, so colour me confused when I started seeing all of the praise “A Field In England” was getting.  Oh well, different strokes…….  Click here to read my original review.

“Tip Top” is a film so bad that I am trying to purge its memory from my brain.  It was without a doubt the worst film I saw at MIFF this year (an honour I was sure was going to go to “A Field In England”) and I really do not know how I stayed right through to the end of the picture.  The film is a mystery / thriller / comedy about a murder case where the police may be involved as the deceased is one of their informants, and as such two internal affairs officers are brought in to solve the case.  The biggest mystery in regards to “Tip Top” is how a talented actress like Isabelle Huppert found herself in this drivel.  This is such a badly directed and written film that nothing ever seems to flow or add up; the film feels like a jumbled mess and I was never able to follow how our two “heroes” came up with their leads.  The worst aspect of the film is the brutal S&M sex scenes that are played for laughs, but just come off as totally inappropriate and disgusting.  These scenes lead to a running visual gag where Huppert’s character regularly catches the blood dripping from her nose (from a wound she received during her violent sex) with her tongue.  It is probably the most hideous thing I have seen in a film all year, and the director thinks this is funny?!!!!  Thankfully I have heard nothing about this film since MIFF so the odds of anyone seeing it appears remote, but if you find yourself with said chance, do everything in your power to miss it.  “Tip Top” is a truly deplorable film.  Click here to read my original review.

As bad as all of the above films are, none were as bad as Dario Argento’s latest film, “Dracula 3D”; a film so bad that I could not even rate it a single star.  Everything about this movie is disgraceful and disgracefully done.  It is no secret that Argento’s recent output bares little resemblance to his genius works from the 70’s and 80’s, but never in my life did I think that I would see him make a picture this terrible.  I have always been an apologist when it came to Argento’s recent films, I always noticed what little good there was in them, but “Dracula 3D” is a film I just cannot defend.  It is clear that this once master director of horror and thrillers has now officially lost it, or worse he just no longer cares, and it is because of this I hope that “Dracula 3D” is Dario Argento’s last film.  For years I have been hoping that he had one more classic “giallo” left in him that was going to blow everyone’s mind, but this is now clearly just a dream with a hint of nostalgia attached to it; it is never going to happen.  Argento no longer cares about creating the set pieces he was once famous for and he has also forgotten how to create any mood or suspense.  Whatever artistry he once had (and boy, did he have it back in his hey-day!) appears gone forever which kind of breaks my heart.  What also saddens me was that I really had high hopes for “Dracula 3D” (particularly after the shockingly bad “Giallo”), especially when it was announced that he was reteaming with his “Suspiria” and “Tenebrae” cinematographer Luciano Tovoli, but lightning obviously does not strike three times.  Tovoli’s work is just as bad as Argento’s, as is Claudio Simonetti’s contribution to the ridiculous score (it is just so amateurish).  In fact everyone involved in this film has probably delivered their worst work here, but none are as bad as Dario’s own daughter, Asia, who plays a prominent role in the film.  I could go on and on about how bad this film is but honestly I would rather forget that this film was created by one of my former heroes.  The final thing I will mention about “Dracula 3D”  is its atrocious CGI which is used far too often with the worst example being a train and train station.  The quality of the computer work here wouldn’t have been acceptable 25 years ago, let alone today.  Talking about this film seriously depresses me, so I am going to stop now, but suffice to say that “Dracula 3D” was the worst film I saw in 2013…….and it wasn’t even close.  Click here to read my original review.

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