MovieBuff’s Bottom 20 Non-2013 Films I Watched in 2013

Posted: January 4, 2014 by moviebuff801 in Lists

By: Michael “MovieBuff801” Dennos

Just like my colleague PG Cooper, I’ve decided to start off my yearly recap lists by looking at various films NOT released in 2013 that I watched in the past year.  But there can be no good without the bad, so before I get to my 20 Best, I must first confront the 20 Worst Non-2013 films that I had the “pleasure” of experiencing for the first time these past 12 months.  So, here they are.

20. Last Man Standing (Watched on July 27th)

Last Man Standing is a remake of Yojimbo and A Fistful of Dollars, but lacks the coolness factor of the latter and any sophistication I imagine the former has (I haven’t dived into Kurosawa yet). Instead, Last Man Standing is a rather dull affair; it’s essentially just Bruce Willis in 1930’s attire shooting repeatedly at other men in 1930’s attire in the middle of a Western-like town. A Fistful of Dollars managed to make this story pretty interesting, but Last Man Standing makes it pretty dumb. Bruce Willis feels like he’s trying to imitate Clint Eastwood too much and the rest of the actors, including Christopher Walken, are a bore to watch. Maybe it was because I already knew how this story played out, but by the halfway mark, my interest in Last Man Standing waned and waned until I just wanted it to get to the point already and end. You’re better off just watching A Fistful of Dollars or Yojimbo.

19. 2012 (Watched on June 14th)

2012 boasts one of the most impressive casts of the last few years…but they’re all being held hostage by a Roland Emmerich screenplay. No one’s playing a character in this movie; everyone’s playing a tired-out archetype, most of them seemingly atypical of Emmerich disaster pictures. And despite some great names like John Cusack (whom I love regularly) and Chiwetel “12 Years a Slave” Ejiofor, none of them really leave a mark. I purposely waited til AFTER December 21st, 2012 to watch this movie so I could laugh and roll my eyes at it even more. Seriously, this movie is even stupider now than when it came out. Now, I can’t sit here and deny that Roland Emmerich has a real flair for staging some epic disaster sequences — he does, but by this point, we’ve seen him do it so many times, it’s become perfunctory. Oh, and this movie goes on waaaay too long. By the time the characters encounter even MORE peril on The Ark (yes, the government actually builds a few high-tech Arks in this movie for people), it’s like, “Enough already.” That very phrase should be spoken to Roland Emmerich considering all these large-scale disaster pics.

At least I would see a Roland Emmerich movie a few weeks after this that was actually entertaining: White House Down.

18. The Guilt Trip (Watched on January 6th)

I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect when I saw The Guilt Trip in theaters last January. I guess I was expecting something decent from the pairing of Seth Rogen and Barbra Striesand, but what I got was an unbelievably unfunny road trip movie running on empty nearly the entire trip. It’s written by Dan Fogelman, one of the blandest studio writers out there, and his idea of comedy here seems to be all setups, but no punchlines. And even then, his setups aren’t really funny to begin with. Oh, look, the mom wants to listen to an erotic book on tape with her son in the car. Oh, look, the mom wants to participate in a large steak-eating contest. Because, yeah…that’s…funny? The plot revolves around Rogen’s character needing to get to a big pitch meeting for a product he’s selling or something (I honestly can’t remember), and the film comes alive for that five-minute scene where he does a commercial audition. But the rest of The Guilt Trip is the equivalent of being on a road trip where you just want to take a nap, but can’t, because the driver is forcing you to talk about stuff with them so they won’t get bored. Problem is, you’re getting bored listening to them drone on and on.

17. Princess of Thieves (Watched on September 16th)

I can’t say I was expecting much from a made-for-TV Disney movie about Robin Hood’s daughter Gwyn, but even then, Princess of Thieves still sucks. The only reason I watched this was to see a pre-Pirates Keira Knightley in the role, but she didn’t even prove to be a highlight. The whole movie is just bland and uninspired, with bad performances and dull action — not to mention an obligatory love triangle. This movie was clearly made for TV for a reason.

By the way, what’s the point of Gwyn cutting her hair to look like a boy if the only people who’ll be fooled by this “disguise” are the ones whom the plot needs to fool? Look at Keira Knightley’s face. Is anyone really gonna buy that she’s a guy? Come on.

16. Blades of Glory (Watched on September 19th)

Give Will Ferrell the right material, and he can really shine; Anchorman is proof of that. Give him the wrong material, and it becomes a laborious experience to watch him try to be funny, and only be sporadically funny, with it feeling mostly on accident at that. Blades of Glory is proof of THAT. The main reason I watched this was the cast. You’ve got Ferrell, Jon Heder, Craig T. Nelson, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, Jenna Fischer and William Fichtner. There’s so much potential with players like that, but the script continually squanders their talent by giving them almost nothing to work with. The jokes are either predictable or uninspired and very rarely work. The only memorable part for me was when we get to see Jenna Fischer wearing skimpy underwear when she has to try and seduce Ferrell’s character — just the sight of her, not any of the jokes. Blades of Glory is definitely on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to Will Ferrell comedies.

15. Intolerable Cruelty (Watched on December 30th)

When it comes to The Coen Brothers, I’m sure I prefer their dramatic films to their comedic ones, and Intolerable Cruelty supports that opinion. I was actually hoping to enjoy this, but unfortunately, not only is this film a mess, it may also be the worst Coen movie I’ve seen so far, period. What’s so strange about it is that the film constantly has this feeling to it that the Coen Brothers aren’t trying hard enough while putting too much into the comedy. This is very much extremely screwball stuff with really silly humor, and yet, it never seems like their hearts are truly in it. It’s like they’re throwing as much silliness as they can at the screen to try and distract the audience from that fact. I’ll admit there were a few moments where I laughed and/or chuckled, but mostly, I sat there staring blankly at the screen. I suppose you could say George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones do just fine with what they’re given, but then again, what they’re given isn’t all that special to begin with. I really wanted to like Intolerable Cruelty, but the film just gave me so little to work with.

14. War, Inc. (Watched on March 24th)

No need to beat around the bush…War, Inc. is just bad. It’s the kind of satire that’s just unfunny and sort of painful to watch. Speaking of painful to watch, this movie has Hilary Duff speaking in a horrible Israeli accent, on top of her putting a scorpion down her pants. Okay, so maybe that last part wasn’t so painful to watch, but most of the time during this movie, I was just sitting there with my facial expression alternating between deadpan unamusement and WTF disbelief. What a misfire.  The fact that John Cusack and Ben Kingsley were in this depresses me even more.

13. Assault on Precinct 13 (2005) (Watched on November 11th)

Doesn’t hold a candle to John Carpenter’s original. Whereas that film was gripping and suspenseful, this remake is just monotonous more than anything else. Despite boasting a good bit of shooting and killing, the film never truly creates an air of tension. Instead, it tries to cheaply manufacture it. And fails. Quite frankly, I got pretty bored with this film not half an hour in. The only actor here I kind of enjoyed was Lawrence Fishburne, and even then, he doesn’t have a lot to work with. The rest of the cast are as bland as characters in action movies come, and actors like John Leguizamo and Ja Rule (IS he even an actor?) are truly grating.

But really, John Carpenter’s original Assault on Precint 13 was already very good and certainly not in need of such a pointless remake. If you haven’t seen either yet, you’re much better off with the former.

12. The Frighteners (Watched on October 22nd)

What we have here with The Frighteners is another classic case of a very miscalculated tone. Directed by Peter Jackson and starring Michael J. Fox in his last major film role to date, this movie tries to be both a comedy and horror movie, but never really succeeds at either one. Actually, the main problem here is that Jackson tries too hard with each. First of all, the comedy isn’t really funny to begin with, especially the humor involving any of the ghosts; that stuff is not only broad, but also pretty grating as the film goes on. Then, the horror elements aren’t effective either, which in part connects back to the ghosts and their visual design. The ghosts in The Frighteners reminded me a lot of the stuff that’s on display in the Casper movie. So when things start getting more serious in the plot, the visuals undercut any sense of drama or tension because they look too cartoonish. But even without that, the marriage of tones still never works. On the subject of the film’s more darker aspects, they emphasize once again how Peter Jackson can’t resist overdoing things. While The Frighteners may not be over 3 hours long, the horror/action scenes have that same kind of needlessly overblown quality to them that the action in King Kong had. And it’s all in service of a story that’s underwhelming. On the plus side, Michael J. Fox is good and helps the film shine in a few instances. But The Frighteners is too much of a misfire for the material to ever work.

11. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Watched on July 30th)

Terry Gilliam and Johnny Depp are talented people; there’s no denying that. However, such talent is used to ingratiating excess in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a film that’s equal parts WTF and downright unpleasant. Look, I get what this film is going for in its style and presentation, but more than fifteen consecutive minutes of it starts to get on your nerves, and FAST. By the half-hour mark, I simply didn’t care anymore, in large part due to the fact that this movie never shuts up or takes a break. This movie is also further proof that a film can throw however much style it wants at me, but if there’s no real story engine to help pull me through all the madness, then whatever admiration I may have for it is only going to go so far. You’d think with all the energy Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas has, the movie would never be boring, but that’s not the case. For all its’ weird style, this film frankly started to bore me before the halfway mark because all it is is just relentless, in-your-face imagery. I’ve heard you need to see this movie more than once in order to really appreciate it, but honestly, I don’t want to watch it again.

10. Quigley Down Under (Watched on December 28th)

This past year’s The Lone Ranger was accused of being a Western with a serious tonal imbalance. Well, I guess those people must’ve forgotten about this little “gem” from 1990 starring The Mustache himself, Tom Selleck, and Alan Rickman. A thoroughly confused tone is indeed the most serious offense on display in Quigley Down Under. Again, criticisms of The Lone Ranger targeted how that film would go along making jokes before suddenly switching to a bunch of Comanches being slaughtered. But look at THIS movie. It can’t tell which road to take. Does it want to be an adventurous comedy? A gritty Western? Good luck trying to figure it out, because one moment, it’ll have Selleck bickering with Laura San Giacomo (who overacts annoyingly in this film — not to mention the character is horribly written to begin with) and the next, it’ll show groups of Aboriginals being mercilessly gunned down, followed by going into action scenes that are played for laughs way too often. How does this movie want us to react? It has too much gritty violence to be considered a fun romp, but too much half-baked or even under-cooked humor to successfully qualify as a comedy. Talk about a movie with an identity crisis. Not even Alan Rickman can save this film at all; disappointingly, he makes for a very boring villain. Quigley Down Under is a horrible, horrible film.

9. Days of Thunder (Watched on February 12th)

I only have two words with which to sum up this movie: ungodly boring. For a film about race car driving, Days of Thunder has a surprising lack of entertainment value, or just plain excitement, for that matter. Everything moves along at such a snail’s pace that it’s hard to remain interested in anything that’s going on. But maybe that’s because this movie sports such a clichéd and by-the-book script, with bland performances and uninspired directing to boot. Not to mention a scene or two that are just plain stupid and laughable. I wasn’t a fan of Scott and Cruise’s Top Gun, either, but it was still more enjoyable than this (yes, I’m gonna say it) car wreck of a sports drama.

8. Nixon (Watched on April 21st)

Oliver Stone is a great director, but godDAMN does he over-direct Nixon. So much so that it becomes a distraction and REALLY hurts the movie in the long run. The acting is really the only thing I can commend about the film. Anthony Hopkins is great as the titular president, and the rest of the ensemble cast all do good work as well, but really, the film is over-directed ad nauseum. Not to mention the fact that it is way, WAY too long. At an overbloated 3 hours and 32 minutes, this thing just goes on and on and on and on and ON. It’s so long, that I was starting to feel like I was actually living through all the years of Nixon’s life showcased in the film, rather than observing them. That may SOUND like a complement, but I assure you, it’s not. Stone’s JFK flew through its 3 hour + running time, Nixon instead crawls at a slug’s pace.

7. Wrath of the Titans (Watched on January 30th)

This movie sucks, plain and simple. After quite literally throwing us into the story without any real sense of backstory or context, Wrath of the Titans does everything wrong that Clash of the Titans did before it, only it does it all even worse.

6. Battleship (Watched on March 30th)

Taylor Kitsch is NOT cut out to be a big-name star, so could we please stop giving him these big-budget tentpoles? Well, after Battleship, I don’t think that’ll be an issue anymore. Even watching this movie for free, I still felt cheated. I mean, seriously, wasn’t there ANY point during the production of this piece of shit where an actor or producer just spoke up and said, “C’mon, guys, really? THIS is the best we can come up with?” There were times during this movie where it felt like director Peter Berg was aware of how bad it all was and was trying to make the most of it, but a bad script is still a bad script. Even Liam Neeson seemed like he wanted to be anywhere but on the set of this film. When a movie features a “comedic” sequence centered around a chicken burrito not ten minutes in, then you know any and all hope has been lost.

5. Abduction (Watched on March 9th)

So there I was on the night of March 9th, bored quite a bit, when I came across Abduction on Instant Netflix. After considering it, I decided I was in the mood for a good laugh, so I watched it.

Aaaanyway….

In nearly every conceivable way, this movie is just plain bad. The story, the script, the direction, the acting (oh-ho-ho, the acting) — all of it just falls flat on its face. It’s no wonder to me why Taylor Lautner is the star of this dreck, but as far as actors like Alfred Molina, Jason Isaacs, Maria Bello, Sigourney Weaver and Michael Nyquist are concerned…I think they all must’ve lost a bet. Either that, or Taylor Lautner has some kind of blackmail on them and director John Singleton. But even still, it felt like no one was really TRYING here. You can almost see the producers holding the cast at gunpoint off-camera.

4. The Watcher (Watched on December 29th)

LOL.

LOL.

This movie was meant as a joke, right? It had to be. Cause I can’t think of any other reason why it is so fucking awful. Oh, where to begin? Where. To. Begin? Well, one of the blandest titles ever seems like a good start.

This HAS to be the bottom of the barrel when it comes to serial killer movies. Has to be. If it’s not, I’d hate to see what IS. It’s like nobody gave a shit during production except for James Spader. Poor James Spader. I love the guy, and he’s the only thing keeping this film from an outright fail, but he deserved better than this. Much better. What’s funny is that Keanu Reeves was literally forced into doing this film. A friend of his forged his signature on the contract, so he had no choice but to star in it. Even by his standards, his performance in this thing is just awful. And why exactly is Marisa Tomei even in this movie? Just to have a big name attached? Because her character literally does nothing in this movie except talking to each of the two main guys at different points in the film and get kidnapped for the climax.

From a technical standpoint, this movie is dreadful some more. Director Joe Charbanic is WAY too in love with sepia tone footage and the photography effect in scene transitions. I get that most of this is meant to represent the killer’s point of view, but it is overused ad nauseum. And the score is terrible — I mean laughably bad. Whenever Reeves is onscreen or there’s a suspenseful scene, the music is so obvious, they might as well have just recorded a guy saying, “DANGER! DANGER!” At one point, it got so ridiculous that I had to burst out laughing.

I could almost say The Watcher is so bad, it’s good, but that’d invite you to watch it yourselves, and I just can’t do that to you guys.  It’s so bad, that I seriously want to do a full review on it just to get all the bile I have built up for it out of my system.

3. Babysitters Beware (Watched on April 25th)

A direct-to-DVD film about a young boy with busy parents who, at the suggestion of his friend, starts pulling pranks on all his babysitters with the intention of ending up on the “No-Sit List” and thus make his parents spend more time with him.  I think that short plot summary communicates the quality of the film quite well.  Moving on…

2. The Sitter (Watched on August 19th)

What do you know, two babysitting-themed movies in a row!

There is ONE funny thing about The Sitter, and that is that it’s apparently listed as a “comedy.” Okay. Sure. Whatever. This…THING…is quite frankly the worst comedy since You Don’t Mess With The Zohan. Yeah, it’s Adam Sandler levels of bad. Wait, no, I take that back.  That’d be the next film on the list.  I even slightly prefer the atrocious Dinner For Schmucks to this, and THAT is saying something. What’s truly remarkable about The Sitter is that everyone — EVERYONE — in this movie is an asshole. I seriously can’t recall a single person in this film who came off as likable in any way, not even the kids. Not even Sam Rockwell can salvage this movie in any way whatsoever. I can’t think of a single positive thing to say about this movie, other than I saw it for free. The Sitter is one big, fat, fucking fail.

1. Fun Size (Watched on October 21st)

First off, you must be thinking: “But, Michael, why would you waste your time on this?” Well, let me tell you wh–…okay, I don’t even know the answer to that myself.

Good. God. Fun Size fucking SUCKS.

So…uh…who’s the target audience here? This movie is rated PG-13, and yet produced by Nickelodeon Studios, whose own audience has gotta be under 13. In that case, why put in all these sex jokes that are not only gonna go over their heads, but that they also won’t give a shit about? On top of that, anyone mature enough to get all that are still gonna be repelled by this thing due to the childish crude humor the film throws in as well. So, really, it’s the ultimate example of a lose-lose. The filmmakers should’ve decided on either a PG or PG-13 approach, and stuck fully with that instead of making something that sits so awkwardly in the middle. There’s a scene in here where the insult “fart breath” is shouted out at someone seconds before a mechanical chicken falls and starts “humping” a car. What’s going on here? Please. Someone. Enlighten me. Ummm…A, anyone old enough to get such a sight gag isn’t going to care about “fart breath” as an insult and B, I refer you back to A.

Fun Size suffers from the worst case of identity crisis of any movie in recent memory. Even if it was a half-hour Nickelodeon T.V. special, you couldn’t salvage it in any way.

I hereby award Babysitters Beware, The Sitter and Fun Size my lowest grade of Zero Stars each.  And here I thought Battleship would be the Worst Movie of 2012.  Well, along came Fun Size.

Coming soon…my 20 Best Non-2013 Films I Watched in 2013.  Stay tuned.

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