Friday, March 11, 2016

Movie Review: Don't Do What I Did

I've been collecting data for a while, and now I finally have enough to write this post.  File the following under I've made a huge mistake

I have a pretty high tolerance for silliness, especially in the name of "so bad it's funny" and therefore "so bad it's good," but sometimes a project has absolutely no redeeming qualities of entertainment whatsoever.  Please take my word for it and don't waste any time or money on these gigantic steaming piles.  They all get a grade of F, and in my world "F" means "something I'll never, ever watch again."

(1) John Carter (2012).
How do you screw THAT up?  You're having otherworldly adventures by the guy who gave us Tarzan of the Apes and Andrew Stanton of the impossibly good Pixar!  Bonus: Friday Night Lights eye candy Taylor Kitsch in the lead.  But nooooooooo.  The special effects weren't horrible, but the story itself was an absolute crashing BORE.  Horrible.  It'll knock you out faster than a bottle of Nyquil.  It failed miserably at the box office, and it deserved every bit of derision hurled at it and then some.  A 51% rating at Rotten Tomatoes means that somewhere out there are 49% critics with no taste or discernment.  Oh, the flick does have one moment of hilarity: Bryan Cranston has a bit part!

(2) The Red Tent (2014). I knew I was never going to read the source novel, so I thought why not try the TV movie version?  It had a decent cast with some familiar faces, and the lead playing Jacob's daughter Dinah was Rebecca Ferguson, who was so awesome in the latest Mission: Impossible flick.  Nope, what I got was tangentially biblical you-go-girl fan fic meets emotionally sappy Lifetime movie soap opera for 4 hours of nonsense that's more interested in writing in sex scenes than in not being ridiculous, embarrassing, and a little too desperate at the same time.  Seriously, there's one bit that seemed to veer off into the land of - ah, shall we say, adult entertainment  - when a hunky Egyptian carpenter comes to fix Dinah's roof and ends up fixing ... ah, something else eventually.  One more thing: the utterly incongruous piano soundtrack made me want to grab a sledgehammer and brutally murder all the world's pianos so this sort of thing never happens again.  The Red Tent gets my red pen ... and a big F.  If you want entertaining Old Testament-based soap opera sex and violence, you can just go read the Old Testament, man.  Look up "David and Bathsheba."

(3) Anna Karenina (2012).  It was streaming on Netflix, so I thought, oh, what the heck ... Why not push "play" for background noise while I clean the house?  Listening to my vacuum cleaner hum for 3 hours would have been better.  I knew this Keira Knightley flick was going to be awful, but I really had no idea about how awful it actually was in how many different ways.  Short version: Would you really cheat on Jude Law with the kid from Kick-Ass?  Come on, now.  That doesn't even pass the laugh test.  Besides, Keira doesn't have the chops for this role; her purported despair rang false, as if Anna were playing at despair instead of living it.  Vronsky's pathetic caterpillar mustache gets an F all for itself, along with the film's exhausting obsession with its own glitteringly overdone meta-theatrical cleverness.

(4) Crimson Peak (2015).  ET TU, TOM HIDDLESTON?  This genre tale of a haunted house inhabited by monsters (only some of which are ghosts) is something you could sleepwalk through.  The visuals are often fun, but the whole movie is style over substance, and the story is a snore: if you're even vaguely conversant with the genre you know exactly what's going to happen about ten years before it actually does.  The whole thing is a mess, and I couldn't care less about any of the characters even though good people were on the cast (Jim Beaver, La Parisienne!), and the last straw was - spoiler! - Jessica Chastain flipping her long-shaky lid and stabbing Tom Hiddleston in the face. "Not the face! NOT THE FACE!" I yelled ... and realized that that was the only moment in the entire flick that got any reaction out of me at all.  In my defense, That Face was the only reason I bothered with this movie in the first place.  One more thing, Jessica: I know this is a horror flick and you're playing a chick who's crazypants cuckoo, but slamming pots of oatmeal on tables while screaming just ain't that scary.

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