Sunday, 7 December 2014

Retrospective: Top Ten Worst Movies Reviewed on Hitchcock's World in 2014


Well, we're in December now and since I started in January this technically means that in a matter of weeks my blog will have run for a full year. Naturally it seemed to make sense to do some retrospective pieces to celebrate.

Now around this time I usually expect to see people making lists of the best and worst films of the year. I've tried that in the past and it's never really worked. Usually just because I can't keep track of what movies I saw, let alone begin rank them. I also missed a lot of big ones. I did see plenty of films this year that I loved (Captain America: The Winter SoldierEdge of Tomorrow, The Fault in Our Stars, Under the Skin, Interstellar) and others I didn't enjoy so much (A Most Wanted Man, Lucy). Still, it's hard to keep track of everything so I'm going to do something a little different.

Instead, I've decided not to look at films from this year, but instead movies I've reviewed over the course of the year. Now I've covered a lot of films so I'm sticking mainly to those that have been the central focus of at least one article. I'll also include a link to the respective article in which I discuss each film, and a few words about them.

This time I'll be counting down the worst movies I've reviewed here (I do hope to a list of the best ones as well eventually, but that might be even harder). This was not an easy list to compile. I found plenty but it ranking them on the other hand is a whole other matter. The best criteria I could find was to rank them based on the amount of pain I endured watching them. I've covered some pretty bad movies here so what which of these films was the most bearable and which was the absolute worst, most awful scum of the film industry? Well read on to find out. This is the top ten worst movies I reviewed in 2014.

10. Quantum of Solace


This one at least had a few redeeming features to it, insofar as Daniel Craig and Olga Kurylenko both seemed to be doing their best and their relationship was solid enough. It also had some well-executed action scenes. Unfortunately great acting and great action alone can't save a film from a needlessly over-convoluted and poorly-written narrative. Because of the few good things it does have going for it, this would probably be the least awful thing I've reviewed.

9. Paycheck


This movie was an insult to the dignity of Philip K. Dick. Director John Woo took a fascinating story about a guy leaving himself a series of items to help himself after losing his memory, and turned it into a cheap action movie. It completely misses the point of the story it's based on and changes what was originally a clever climax involving espionage and blackmail into a generic action sequence in which everything explodes. I mean in the original story the guy goes on to run the company, in the movie he ends up running a flower shop with his girlfriend. What was John Woo thinking? Fortunately, that was not until the second half of the film. The first half was alright, with some forgivable deviations from the short story (i.e. changing the profession of the love interest), and because that adds some redeeming value it's not the worst I've had to sit through.

8. Rambo: First Blood Part II


This was a movie that was so bad that going in expecting it to be bad was setting my expectations too high. Aside from being completely pointless and apparently existing for no other reason beyond a simple attempt to cash in on the first movie's success, the story is just plain flawed and poorly executed. The characters are flat, making choices that just seem to come straight out of nowhere and lacking any real motivation. As if it wasn't bad enough the film didn't give us any reason to actually care what happens to Rambo or the people he's trying to save, they also had to go and kill off the one interesting character the film had to offer way too early. That, and Stallone really isn't a very good actor.

7. Thomas and the Magic Railroad


What? The fact that this movie was responsible for single-handedly mutilating one of the greatest shows of my childhood isn't enough for you? Well, aside from that, the voice work on the trains is terrible, the jokes really aren't that funny, and for a movie supposedly about Thomas the Tank Engine he's really not in it very much. Granted, the show occasionally put Thomas in a sideline role but did so in order to develop one of the other trains, not so we could follow around a magical dimension-hopping gold-dust spewing conductor who thinks flowers work like telephones.

6. Playtime


I was looking forward to this one when it showed up on the syllabus for one of my classes, and to say it disappointed would be an understatement. Not one single solitary moment of actual humor appears at any point, the plot is a mess (if you can even call it a "plot"), no interesting developments, or anything at all. Just a bunch of long and drawn out sequences that go on far longer than they need to with plenty of "jokes" that aren't in any way funny.

5. Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea


This film was just painful to watch. I honestly can't believe I forced myself to sit through this garbage that was so bad even the presence of Peter Lorre couldn't save it. Aside from the poorly-explained setup that makes no sense and the solution devised by Walter Pidgeon's character that makes even less sense, the whole thing is just a big mess. The visual effects are terrible, even for 1960, plot threads come out of nowhere, there's a few possibly sexist implications at times (considering how little the women have to contribute). I don't even know why I felt so compelled to pick this one up in the first place, but I've regretted it ever since.

4. Alphaville


At this point I've said all there is to be said about this one. It's a lazy, pathetic, incoherent mess of a movie that makes no sense whatsoever and has the worst vision of the future ever put on film. By "vision" I mean he plunks the viewer into 1960's Paris and injects the word "galaxy" into random sentences. That's not how good science fiction is written (I know this from experience, being a science fiction writer myself). That's lazy writing from a man who can't be bothered to get creative in developing a fictional world.


3. Tu Va Bien


This may have been the closest any of Godard's films have gotten to giving me the tiniest bit of respect for his work, and it's also the worst of his films out of the ones I've had to watch so far. I get this isn't supposed to be a conventional narrative. Godard is deliberately trying alienate the viewer in order to make them think about a certain message, that's the basic principle behind the radical film. Unfortunately, he spends too much time jumping and whatever that message was supposed to be, I'm not getting it. Plenty of other films have used this same approach and actually worked (Walker and Orlando being two great examples), but here it's a jumbled mess which constantly jumps back and forth between plot threads that have nothing to do with each other and the whole thing just falls apart.

2. Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet/Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women


I don't know much about the Russian film from which these two b-movies originated, but both re-edits are slow painful wastes of time. These films have no redeeming features at all, ranging from the bad special effects to the terrible dubbing to the simple fact that I couldn't tell what was going on most of the time because I couldn't tell anyone apart. The Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet re-edit is bad enough, but the Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women version just takes it to the next level of unpleasantness.

1. Hard Boiled


What else can I say about this one? The others may have been bad but I managed to sit through them or at least a substantial portion of their running time (even if I occasionally had to take a few "washroom breaks" to preserve my sanity). This one only took ten minutes before I had to leave. When a film is made in a style that is ostensibly designed to make the action clearer than in Hollywood cinema and by the end of the opening scene you not only can't tell who you're rooting for but don't care enough to be more concerned about whether any of the birds get hurt in the shootout, I think that's a sign that something's wrong.

7 comments:

  1. I've only seen a few of these, myself, including your #1 which I enjoyed. However, I understand why you don't like it. Fun post.

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    1. Thanks. I was hoping to do a list of the best films I've covered eventually, but that might be a lot harder to assemble.

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  2. Great twist on the typical Best/Worst list :) I'm starting to work on my own list now and it's difficult to recall what I saw over the year, but I've started using a handy little online diary called Letterboxd which will help in the future.
    - Allie

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    1. I only got a Letterbox account so I could warn another blogger about the dangers of putting Alphaville on their blindspot list (a warning that would unfortunately go unheeded) but it turned out to be pretty useful. I already used it to keep an inventory of the possible choices for Free Action Movie Week.

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  3. I am surprized that Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea isn't in the #1 spot:) I liked Thomas as my best friend's son loved it but I can't stand Alec Baldwin and seeing his face makes me want to punch it. I am lucky to have never seen a Godard film:)

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    1. It was tempting, but ultimately it was a matter of deciding how much pain each film put me through. As bad as Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was it at least had a coherent (if poorly written) narrative, which is more than can be said for the ones that come after.

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