Top Ten Film Disappointments

Life is full of disappointment, people letting you down, letting yourself down. It’s a shame that the place I seek solace from this – film – offers the same:

Toklat (Robert Davison, Sweden, 1971) The first film I ever saw in a theater, and it was awful. Shots of a bear randomly stitched together. Yes, disappointment starts early.

Juggernaut (Richard Lester, UK, 1974) Advertised as an edge-of-your-seat thriller but in reality was all talk and no action. Terrible fare for a 11-year-old.

Sorcerer (William Friedkin, USA, 1977) I have never been more excited for a film, nor more disappointed. The poster was the best part. Southern Comfort (Walter Hill, USA, 1981) A bunch of guys wandering around in a swamp. Sounds existential but not.

Conan The Barbarian (John Milius, USA, 1982) The prototype for why all comic books fail on the screen.

Return of the Jedi (George Lucas, USA, 1983) The only thing worse than an Ewok is a Jar Jar.

Legend (Ridley Scott, USA, 1986) Alien, Blade Runner…and then this?!? Aliens (James Cameron, USA, 1986) How to Ruin a Franchise 101.

The Godfather III (Francis Ford Coppola, USA, 1990) Not as bad as everyone says, but Ms. Coppola is. I also had a guy behind me explaining Godfathers I & II to his girlfriend. Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson, USA, 2014) The problem with a high bar is that you have to maintain it. (See also Woody Allen, post-2000)

Alien Covenant: Blandly Gratuitous

I have a weakness for Ridley Scott’s Alien franchise, partially due to its ominous vision, but mostly because the original was so well made, everything from characters and plot to music and foley. The franchise has struggled with the basics ever since, but none as tremendously as Alien Covenant. If there was one good thing to say, it would be the revelation that the alien is, indirectly, our own creation. However even this is tainted, as the cyborg responsible only did it as revenge for having been forced to serve tea to his creator.The film is a gratuitous, gruesome mess. Lowlights abound – a floating head, aliens bursting from mouths and spines, alien eggs kept in the basement – but most depressing of all is the self-plagiarism from Ridley Scott’s other franchise, Blade Runner, stealing Roy Batty’s line, “That’s the spirit!” in the midst of yet another bland and deadly tussle. Sadly, there is no spirit here, just horror cliches and a cgi crew big enough to colonize another planet. Which they should not do.

“The Martian”: Vacuous in Space

The idea behind Ridley Scott’s The Martian could be intriguing: What if someone were to be stranded alone on a distant planet? maxresdefaultAs unoriginal as the premise is – a sci-fi staple often used countless Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits episodes – it still has the potential of the vast unknown. However that potential is quickly wasted in The Martian as it can never rise above a tedious salute to American ingenuity, what eventually becomes a mind-numbingly extended episode of MacGyver.

The script is an abomination, the Chief of NASA actually saying “…if nothing goes wrong” right before…something goes wrong. THE MARTIANCharacter development is non-existent, and not a single word is invested into the psychology of being abandoned in space, excepting the long zoom-ins of everyone becoming more empathetic. kristen_wiig-folded_hands It’s astounding that $108 million can be dumped into such a meaningless and vacuous project, and then go on to earn close to $600 million; Ridley Scott hoodwinked us again. 6a00d8341bf7f753ef01a5116e071a970c-800wiWhich makes me wonder when his Alien/Blade Runner credentials will finally run out.

Exotic Shock in Cormac McCarthy’s “The Counselor”

Cormac McCarthy and Ridley Scott’s joint project The Counselor shocks to sell. cameroncarBrutal imagery and non-stop sex banter aside, a main selling angle is in the exotic cats. cheetah2Offered as colorful metaphors, the cheetahs – to say nothing of the film – quickly become blunt and unwieldy. Screenshot (1068)Meant to convey, as Cameron Diaz’s puerile character explains, examples of killing “a quarry with elegance”, they are realized only as gimmickry, much like Diaz’s cheetah tattoo. camerondiaz“It is our faintness of heart that has driven us to the edge of ruin. And the slaughter to come is probably beyond our imagining.” Hopefully not words for a sequel.