I have posted nearly 250 positive reviews about good movies that I recommend watching, without hesitation. Sometimes I agree with the pop culture and TV critics about movie ratings, but quite often I do not agree. For obvious business reasons, many mediocre or bad movies receive lavish praise and awards. We troop off to the theater with high expectations, and buy the pricey tickets. Then with an empty popcorn box in our lap, we realize we have been Tricked again by the fake reviews. And that brings us to my Blacklist.
These movies are not unwatchable, but bad enough to discourage any lavish praise. Mind you, the Blacklist flicks are not hilariously off like Apartment Zero or Johnny Guitar. In fact, the common theme seems to be a complete lack of humor even when labeled a comedy. It was annoying to watch these flicks in entirety, and I will never watch them again. So drop those lynching ropes, lead pipes and pitch forks, keep an open mind and read the reviews. It could save you some hard earned money. On the other hand, if you watch these flicks for free; you got your money’s worth.
Without further ado, let’s get on with the roast.
1. Interstellar 2014 adventure fantasy sci-fi
Being a big fan of space travel movies, I succumbed to the glowing reviews and watched this flick on the Big Screen. The movie gets off to a slooooow start introducing the hero (Cooper) and his family. After about twenty minutes of sheer boredom, a man in the next row fell asleep; never a good sign in an adventure flick. A few more people in the packed audience nodded off during one of the front porch chats on the Kansas corn farm. A man was snoring loudly during the second or third big dust storm. It was truly a memorable theater experience, for the wrong reason. Yes, the beginning was that plodding. It took forever to get Cooper off the family farm and into the rocket to save the world. As we ground through the way too long film, I had the feeling that nothing made much sense. <Mild spoilers> Here’s the important take away to save you three hours – if you are going to save humanity and start a new world – find a planet that is at least as good, or better, than the one you are leaving, and, for heaven’s sake, NOT next to a black hole. The final planet selection process by the crew (not the leadership team back on Earth!) was so amateurish I thought they were going to resort to a coin toss.
2. Captain Philips 2013 drama true story
This weak movie studiously avoids the more fundamental questions about high seas piracy. (*Mild spoilers ahead*) It fails to comment on the absurd spectacle of multiple billion-dollar US navy warships and SEAL teams doing battle with four pirates in a tiny life boat. It doesn't even address the obvious questions of why a valuable U.S. flagged merchant ship traveling through known pirate waters doesn't have two or three well-armed Blackwater security guards. It would have been child’s play to pick off the pirates as they climbed the hook ladder to the deck of the gigantic cargo ship. The modern PC idiot will quickly argue that the poor Somalis may only be coming aboard to sell Girl Scout cookies, but the AK-47s slung over their shoulders sends a completely different message to me. And why does a minor pirate event become important enough to merit a big-budget movie treatment with the hapless Captain Philips played by the King of Hollywood himself, Tom Hanks? All the massive production value lavished on this threadbare story can't replace the substance that's just not there.
3. Saving Mr. Banks 2013 drama biopic
The story, told in multiple flashbacks, recounts the life of Pamela Travers, author of the popular book Mary Poppins. The fun theme of Pam’s book is a perfect fit for a Disney family film, so she reluctantly agrees to a movie contract and gets to meet Walt Disney, the legend. But sourpuss, daffy Pam is deeply determined to soil her nest at Disney. How strange? I felt sorry for Mr. Disney having to put up with her endless whining. This movie is too serious and boring than one would expect about making a jolly 1960s Disney family movie.
4. Only God Forgives 2013 drama crime
I enjoy movies that have a brisk pace, good dialogue, an interesting storyline and likable characters. This movie has none of that. The story moves along at a snail's pace with pregnant pauses and lots of fancy camera work. You could write the plot on the back of a postage stamp, and most of the main characters are in serious need of psych counseling. Now, some things you might care (a little bit) about in this movie; plenty of emotionless, poker faced acting, protracted Karaoke scenes sung in Thai, and extreme violence with blood soaked corpses. This movie is a trip to the dark, dark side of life. Beware, gentle viewers, you have been warned. May God forgive the filmmakers for this wreck.
5. World’s End 2013 comedy sci-fi foreign
This flick is about five grown men trying desperately to re-live former glories of high school. High school, really? Yes, I am not making this up. The guys are unimpressive, and their leader, Gary King, is certifiably nuts. The story begins with a stupid concept, so it's a dud from the start and never recovers. <Mild spoilers ahead> A pub crawl idea simply doesn't work when meshed with the sci-fi robot invasion. Because after the robots are revealed there is no reason for them to continue the drinking binge. Put simply: you do not care if these clowns make it to The World's End Pub, or if the robots murder them. Doesn’t matter. Also like too many British movies in this decade, the actors speak in a low brow estuary English accent that is very difficult for the American ear to understand. I miss the days of quality British films spoken in BBC English.
6. Cloud Atlas 2012 drama
An exploration of how an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution. OK, so I fell for the marketing pitch. I should have known better – because it is never a good sign that a movie has three directors and six story lines. So what is the movie really about? The simple message of the movie is that people have, and will continue to prey upon each other, with various degrees of cruelty. There, I saved you about three long hours. The movie is way too long, and should be titled Done At Last. And for a pseudo-intellectual, moralistic flick it is very gruesome with throat slashing scenes, a human butcher shop, cold blooded murder, cannibalism, and entire villages including women and children slaughtered. If this is your type of flick; go immediately to your local mental health clinic.
7. Midnight in Paris 2011 romance fantasy
I wanted to like this time traveler movie, but found myself checking my watch, repeatedly in the last half hour. This is not an unwatchable film –I made it to the credits, but it drags, the love chemistry is completely missing, and surprisingly for a Woody Allen flick it is decidedly not funny. On the positive side – the scenes of Paris are charming, and I strongly recommend a visit to Paris. But a half-ass travelogue is hardly a good reason to trudge through this Turkey.
8. Source Code 2011 sci-fi mystery
Shuffling through a pile of unloved DVDs in a rental condo, I found this movie. It has an impressive cast, so I flipped on the ancient TV and popped the disk into the player. <Mild spoilers ahead> OK, what exactly is a Source Code? It is an alternate reality based on 8 minutes of a dead guy's last memory. The idea is beyond absurd and does not even rate as decent movie junk science. I saw this flick with my wife who found her crossword puzzle more interesting than the movie. After about an hour she asked, "Is he on the train again?" to which I answered "Yes, this is about the eighth train trip." "What did I miss?" my answer: "Absolutely nothing." The simple plot is: "Whodunit?" Yet the confused, wandering story goes in circles and refuses to progress to the most obvious solution that I guessed on the first train trip. The ending of the movie is lame with a preachy propaganda message about how we need a BIG, militaristic government to save us in "the war on terror”.
9. Eagle 2011 action adventure
This is dumbed down Roman history at its very worst. Dialogue so bad, it was shocking. And the characterization was beyond stupid: Esca, the slave, whose parents were murdered by Roman troops, after they gang-raped his mother, overcomes these minor obstacles and becomes fast friends (a bromance) with a hard core Roman Storm Trooper. Oh, I almost forgot, they found the fricking lost eagle. How about that for a surprise ending!
10. No Country for Old Men 2007 drama crime
Chigurh, a homicidal maniac, goes Jack Rippering across Texas. His victims are Mexicans, a police officer and poor, rural whites. In the movie universe these folks are often treated with scorn, and nobody cares if they are brutally murdered; consequently, the killer is lazily pursued by a small town sheriff. In the real world, the law would have been on this crazy killer like white on rice, but not in this twisted flick. The media movie critics went orgasmic over this movie. Here is a typical film snob review: <But at the same time it's the purest sort of cinema, recalling Hitchcock and Leone and Welles and the best of film-noir and westerns. There are so many exceptional shots and lighting, so much depth to the perception of the characters through the mis-en-scene.> WTF? And to my astonishment, Roger Ebert lavished praise on this twisted flick. Is this the same Mr. Ebert who would often jump on his high horse and rail against “mad slasher” movies? Did we see the same movie? TWO thumbs down.
11. Elizabeth: The Golden Age 2007 historical drama
As a history lover, it pains me to pen this review, but since an eminent historical society paid my consulting fee in full (one box of Milk Duds) I must soldier on. The film is a bit all over the place: a costume drama, a romance, a political thriller, and a military epic. It even skids briefly into the fantasy realm. It is a costume chick-flick that glosses over the 1588 Spanish Armada crisis, and instead dwells on a palace soap opera interspersed by much fussing with wigs & hair-dos. Kate Blanchett takes a shot and misses with her too modern take on Elizabeth. She fails to capture the strength and majesty and vanity of the real Queen. To see how it is done, watch Flora Robson play the Virgin Queen in Fire Over England (1937).
12. Planet Terror 2007 horror
Zombie flicks are a Hollywood staple, and can be fun to watch – once in a while. But do not be fooled by the nonsense from studio ass-kissers, and director fan boys, that this flick is a cool and funny tribute to the low budget horror films of the 70s. It is not. It is over-the-top Crude with a distinctly annoying cast of characters. When I started cheering for the Zombies, I knew something was not clicking with this clunker.
13. Interpreter 2005 drama
Starring matinee idols, Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn, you'd think this movie would be good. It begins with an interesting premise involving the United Nations, and then quickly goes downhill. Kidman and Penn are beyond intense, the plot is confusing, the movie too long and there is absolutely zero comic relief or entertainment. Sadly the topic is tiresome; UN officials glumly voting to condemn yet another African genocide, is like the mice unanimously agreeing that the cat should wear a bell. The subject deserves better treatment, so why not make a real documentary instead of using fictional countries and fake languages?
14. Italian Job 2003 drama crime
This is a flashy (needless) Hollywood remake of a popular 1960s British film. In this redux, a gang of highly skilled, very likeable criminals get involved in a gold heist, and anyone can predict the ending. The humor is forced, and the rickety plot depends on a tsunami of computer hijinks coordinated with precise explosive demolition. Yeah, sure, happens all the time. Beauty queen Charlize Theron plays an expert safe cracker and a talented race car driver. Her character is as believable as the Flying Nun, but not near as much fun. She looks fine, but really jumps the shark in this flick.
15. Enigma 2001 drama war
The movie setting is a top secret, code breaking facility in WWII England. A passionate, romantic young fop has girl trouble which dominates his time and energy. He is a genius, we are told over and over, as this is an excuse for his odd behavior. He gets interrupted a few times to help de-code German U-boat enigma messages. This is dressed up soap opera which leaves tons of interesting real history under the table. The movie took a weird approach and chose to belittle the highly successful, innovative British officer staff that managed Bletchley Park. This is revisionist history, with very weak acting, but is better than the utterly ridiculous Imitation Game. The definitive, and accurate, movie about the British WW2 code breaking heroics remains to be made.
Dishonorable Mentions – 10 more very overrated movies
Written by Ben Clark. Copyright 2016-2018. All rights reserved.