Sunday, January 15, 2017

MY LEAST FAVORITE FILMS OF 2016

In life, you gotta take the good with the bad. That is equally true with cinema. While I saw many films that I thoroughly enjoyed, there were a few that really disappointed or just annoyed me to no end. Here is my list of the films that left me less than entertained:

"GHOSTBUSTERS"

I had such high hopes for "Ghostbusters", a reboot of the 1984 supernatural comedy, that now features an all-female gang who hunts down some bothersome and nasty ghosts. There was plenty of ugly, unfair and sexist criticism hurled long before the movie was even released, so I really wanted this to be a hilariously fun box-office hit to prove all those haters wrong. Sadly, that did not come to pass. It appeared to be a slam-dunk with Paul Feig ("Bridesmaids", "Spy") behind the camera and the amazing comedic talents of Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones plus the eye candy of Chris Hemsworth all on board. A bad script, poor pacing and cheesy visual effects didn't do the film any favors. But I think the biggest problem was that these funny ladies were not allowed to do their own thing. They seemed unable to really cut loose to create their own vision, forcing them to stick too closely to the original.

"HIGH RISE"

Out of all of the films I saw in 2016, I think "High Rise" was probably my most unpleasant movie-going experience. I found this very unfunny dark comedy incredibly pretentious and a complete bore. Based on a novel by J.G. Ballard, Tom Hiddelston plays a doctor living in a luxury building tower in 1970's London. While the wealthy occupy the top floors, the middle-class live in the far less stellar lower floors. Life is good, for some, and soon everyone begins to lose the desire to leave the comforts of their home. It doesn't take long for a breakdown in social behavior with the occupants descending in to violence and splitting in to groups to defend their areas of the building. Despite an impressive cast that includes Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans and Elizabeth Moss, "High Rise" falls completely flat.



"THE LEGEND OF TARZAN"

Tarzan, the Edgar Rice Burroughs character of the infant son of British aristocrats who is orphaned in the African jungle and raised by a tribe of apes, has been around for over one hundred years. It didn't take long for Hollywood to take notice with a silent film made in 1918 and starred Elmo Lincoln as the first screen Tarzan. There have been many, many other versions ever since, so the idea to reintroduce the Ape Man to a new generation was a good one. However, "The Legend of Tarzan" is not good. At all. Alexander SkarsgÄrd was an inspired choice to play Tarzan but the rest of the film is stale and moldy. This story begins years after Tarzan has left Africa and returned to London as Lord Greystoke with his American bride, Jane (Margot Robbie). He's invited to visit the Congo to see new development by the Belgium government. With an American envoy (Samuel L. Jackson) in tow, Tarzan and Jane return to Africa but this turns out to be a not-so-friendly visit with a sinister plan set up by a Belgian envoy (Christoph Waltz). The lackluster action sequences and sluggish pacing ruins any potential fun. No animals were harmed during the making of this film (due to then all being digitally created) but that certainly can't be said about any of the humans who sat through watching "The Legend of Tarzan".

"THE BROTHERS GRIMSBY"

When Sacha Baron Cohen introduced us to his Borat character with his hit 2006 mockumentary feature, this shocking comedy was fresh and a laugh riot. Now ten years later with his latest comedy he has written, "The Brothers Grimsby", Cohen's act has grown tiresome and uninspired. This time Cohen plays Nobby Butcher who was separated from his younger brother as children after they were orphaned. Nobby is now a drunk with an oversexed wife (Rebel Wilson) and eleven children. His brother, Sebastian (Mark Strong) has become a top secret agent. Not much of a surprise to reveal that this mismatched pair are reunited with Nobby getting himself involved in one of Sebastian's dangerous cases. Cohen clearly thinks that creating another half-wit with several objects managing to accidentally (and one time on purpose) find a way in to his anus or him having sex with overweight women is enough to deliver plenty of hilarity. But he is sadly mistaken. This film is just lazy, incompetent and a poor excuse for a comedy.



"THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER'S WAR"

"The Huntsman: Winter's War",  a follow-up to the awful, "Snow White and The Huntsman", is a sequel nobody asked for and a film that is actually worse than the original. With Snow White out of the picture (mostly due to a messy behind-the-scenes scandal), the focus is on Chris Hemsworth's the Huntsman (whose name is Eric, in case you were seriously wondering). Why? Good question. This is an origin story of this bland man of the woods and a continuation from the first film. The evil Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron, still the best thing here) had a sweet, younger sister, Freya (Emily Blunt) and due to tragic events becomes the slightly-less-evil, the Snow Queen. She steals the children of people of the surrounding village and trains them to become part of her army which includes Eric and Sara (Jessica Chastain). There's more involving the magic mirror, a few other broken hearts and an epic battle between the sisters but I'm sure you've heard enough. The only other thing I will add is please do not waste your time with this wreck of a film.

"KEANU"

Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele certainly know how to bring the funny as we've seen from their hit sketch-comedy series, "Key & Peele". The comedy team put together their first feature, "Keanu" but it isn't much of a laughing matter. A recently dumped Rell (Peele) is cheered up after he finds a cute, stray kitten. He names him "Keanu" but this cat actually has an owner; a pair of ruthless assassins (also played by Key and Peele) who took ownership from a Mexican drug cartel after wiping them all out. After coming home to discover his place ransacked and Keanu missing, Rell, with his nerdy cousin, Clarence (Key) by his side, goes out on a desperate search to find his cat. This leads to them impersonating the assassins, getting mixed-up with a street gang, being forced to sell a new potent drug and killing actress, Anna Farris (you really don't want to know). With a plot that is way too convoluted, jokes that land with a thud and an excessive amount of violence that feels completely out-of-place, "Keanu" is one of the most surprising misfires of the year.