The Electric Grapevine | Top 10 Worst Films of the Decade Vol. 1 | 01.03.10
I should disclaim that a specific set of guidelines are used in compiling this list. The titles must have had either previous incarnations, massive expectations or lofty source material to live up to. If it weren’t for my self implied rules we would simply be left with 8 Steven Seagal films, Epic Movie and anything Paris Hilton popped up in. The best way to sum up how I chose these films is simply,”Did I feel better or worse after coming out of the theatre?”
With that in mind, here are the first five of what I deemed to be the 10 most dissappointing films of many in the nameless decade.
Quantum of Solace (2009)
What better way to kick off a list about the worst films of the double O’s than with 007 himself. The Bond team quickly threw away the groundwork they had laid in the stellar Casino Royale with this bloated mess despite having the excellent Daniel Craig to continue their story. Bond villains have conquered space, overthrown countries and killed Bonds’ wife. In “Quantum” Bond sqaures off against an “evil” real estate developer who has really done very little wrong. What does Bond use to catch this nefarious man? Well it isn’t gadgets as we still don’t have a Q and his car is barely used in one of the poorest filmed car chases in recent memory. The man doesn’t even bed the main Bond girl of the film because apparently he is the new, sensitive, Bond. That’s not to say there isn’t action. In fact there is too much. The film is just one setpiece stunt after another and takes no time to absorb the exotic locales they took the trouble to actually shoot in. Every scene plays like a neutered re-enactment of the far superior Jason Bourne series. The stylized fonted, student film titles declaring we are now in Rome or London are tricks that I saw turned down as being too “studenty” in my first month of film school.
The best thing to come from Quantum of Solace
Live Free or Die Hard (2007)
Continuing the trend of soiling storied franchises, my hatred for this film is endless. Die Hard has a mythology that should only be handled by certain deft people, namely John McTiernan. Underworld Director Len Wiseman is certainly not one of those people. The Die Hard Trilogy until his point was a near perfect one, complete with superb supporting cast work from everyone in each of the films. I would like to know how after Alan Rickman redefined villains for years to come, someone opted to use Timothy Olyphant for this installment. Films such as this are only as good as their villains. Hans Gruber shot people in the face for failing to comply to simple requests. William Sadler crashed a loaded jetliner to prove a point and Jeremy Irons did more damage to New York than Al Qaeda. Timothy, badass that he is, deleted John McClanes 401k retirement plan! If that doesn’t strike fear into the viewing audience I don’t know what does. The blatant disregard for the components that made the first films great was astounding right down to the equipment used. The glorious anamorphic film process was discarded for cheaper effect friendly Super 35mm. Bruce Willis seemingly forgot how to play McClane and the annoying Mac commercial dude made the film far too comedic as did the inexplicably present Kevin Smith. Gems such as McClane all of a sudden knowing how to fly aircraft despite establishing he is afraid of flying in the very first scene of the first film, made me want cry as a longtime fan of the benchmark series. I’m not the only one with a tear though, as our antagonist actually starts to break down while threatening McClane in one scene.
Kill Bill Volume 1 and 2 (2003)
I know that Adrian disagrees with me here but I honestly cannot decide whether I was more dissappointed with Kill Bill or the Matrix Sequels. For Tarantino to parody himself after only really making two good films at that point seemed too premature for my liking. It took DeNiro 30 years to poke fun at himself. How after only Resevoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction is Quentin figuring he can wink at the audience already? I’ve read that he felt he couldn’t top Pulp Fiction and would never attempt to. Did DaVinci finish the Mona Lisa then head for the finger paints? It seems that was QT’s motivation here as he threw color and blood around carelessly in the two overlong installments. Don’t think I’m a hater despite these comments. Tarantino was the subject of numerous papers I’ve written and I’ve read many books about the man. I simply choose to articulate which pieces of his work I like and hold him accountable for his lesser works. True Romance is and likely always be my second favorite film and QT wrote that early in his career. Funny thing is, it was directed by the consistently amazing Tony Scott. QT’s restructuring and popularizing of 3 act film structure is one of my biggest influences.
While he is the master of writing and filming conversations, Tarantino unravels as soon as the action starts, so his decision to make this pair of action heavy snoozers was a massive letdown to me. For the first time, the cast of largely B rate actors felt very out of place to me and despite being amazing as Mia Wallace, I’ve never liked anything else Uma Thurman has done, including Ethan Hawke. The dialogue in these films was more stilted than the house at the end of Lethal Weapon 2 and the films dragged on forever. Parody is meant for small doses not Godfather lengthed epics that reach into your pocket twice before completing a singular story. Sure there were nods to endless films and genres but what good are they if you are simply doing an out of context, poor imitation of them…for well over four hours? The Crazy 88 fight scene wasn’t even the best fight scene involving suited adversaries that summer. That honour goes to the Matrix Reloaded.
The Matrix Sequels (2003)
That doesn’t mean the films were any good though! Someone once said that in The Matrix, Keanu Reeves took us on an excellent journey but the sequels were bogus adventures. Sadly, I think the second Bill and Ted film had more merit than the vapid Matrix sequels. While the groundbreaking action was enough to give Reloaded a pass, Revolutions had no such failsafe. The movie barely contained any time spent in the actual Matrix and featured a battle scene loaded with people we don’t care about whatsoever. The series’ most interesting character, Agent Smith only showed up in the final fight scene or in his human body form of Bain whom noone liked. By the time this depressing series finale was tying up I was ready to swap my overpriced M&Ms for antidepressants. The first Matrix was an enthralling and darn near life changing experience to many including me, but none of the questions asked were ever answered. Pair that with the fact our hero essentially surrenders at the end and you wonder why you sat through the second and third parts at all.
Battlefield Earth (2000)
The criteria here is based on budget to box office take ratio. This unintentionally hilarious, L.Ron Hubbard written film would easily make my Top Comedies of the Decade column should it exist. John Travolta wastes film at an alarming rate as the 8 foot, tall alien underachiver, Terl. Terl is apparently trying to make his way up whatever corporate ladder there is in his cultures’ military. Despite his enthusiasm and absurdly misguided bravado, he ends up being a laughing stock as he attempts to rid some planet of humans or “Rat Brains” as he calls them for half of the film. Scenes including him inexplicably shooting the legs off cows to demonstrate his marksmanship come fast and furious as he continues to fail in task after task. This film lost over 50 million dollars, won dozens of Razzies and yet I have to insist you watch it. Very few films can bring me to tears be it of joy or sorrow. This film can do both simultaneously.
All you need to know
See you soon with the final five…