100 Films @ 10: Films I Shouldn’t Have Wasted My Precious Time On This Earth By Watching

A pause from celebrating great things today to look at the flipside of movie watching: the crap.

However hard we may try, we’re always going to watch stuff we don’t like (and some of us don’t try that hard, let’s be honest — I swear the world is full of people who flock to all the new blockbusters even though they probably couldn’t remember the last time they actually enjoyed one). Whether it’s something that was recommended that we don’t like, or a poor entry in a franchise we used to enjoy, or by a director we once admired, or just morbid curiosity, the chances of going a significant period of time without seeing something bad are slim.

So in the “significant period of time” that was the last ten years, here are the worst films I saw.

10
Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert

I only watched this because it was part of Channel 4’s 3D Week (back when people thought home 3D was going to be a big thing), during which they only showed three films and this was one of them. Frankly, I don’t really remember it, other than that the 3D worked well because it was a modern production. I’m pretty sure I’ve blanked it from my memory for a reason. (Review.)

9
The Baskerville Curse

It feels almost cruel to pick on a made-for-TV kids’ animation from the ’80s when there are so many big-budget movies I could name here. The reason I’ve included it nonetheless is because of its thorough misunderstanding of the tone of Sherlock Holmes’ most famous adventure. I know you can’t properly do Gothic horror in a kids’ cartoon, but the bright and sunny colours, plus stretches devoted to telegram writing and train journeys, really take things to the opposite extreme. (Review.)

8
Chicken Little

As computer animated kids’ movies took off in the wake of Pixar’s arrival, Disney’s traditional 2D animations began to falter at the box office. They clearly put this down to the visual style, resulting in this being their first 3D computer animated movie… and it’s bloody terrible, proving their failure was nothing to do with the animation method and everything to do with their godawful content. This is the real nadir of Disney’s so-called Animated Classics. (Review.)

7
Sharknado

Cynical in the extreme, Sharknado is not a movie that’s so bad it’s good, it’s a movie that’s been made deliberately badly so people will think it’s so bad it’s good. But it’s not — it’s so bad it’s bad. But it worked, as they’re now up to four sequels, I believe. Ugh. (Review.)

6
The Final Destination

The best thing about the fourth movie in the Final Destination series is its title: it was to be the last movie, so they added a definitive article. Then they went and made a fifth one and ruined even that. It’s a shallow gore-fest with very little entertainment value. (Review.)

5
AVPR – Aliens vs Predator: Requiem

Alien vs. Predator wasn’t a very good movie; a weak PG-13 blockbuster that… didn’t really ruin either franchise, let’s be honest, because Alien had already done it to itself and Predator was never classy in the first place. Nonetheless, this sequel tried to put more nails in the coffin. It’s so bad, it actually makes the first AVP look good. Conversely, AVPR doesn’t look like much at all — it’s so dark you can’t see most of it. (Review.)

4
The Last Airbender

As M. Night Shyamalan’s popularity continued to sink, he turned his hand to director-for-hire style work, adapting the popular animated series Avatar (with a name change forced by a certain big-budget 3D movie). Unfortunately this wasn’t any better, with bizarrely forced storytelling (the result of a studio after a quick 3D conversion, to the extent they couldn’t afford to have the whole film done) and poor performances by controversially miscast actors. It’s definitely Shyamalan’s worst work. I mean, at least The Happening had some comedy value. (Review.)

3
Alone in the Dark

Remember Uwe Boll? I don’t know what he’s up to these days. I don’t care. Neither does the industry, fortunately, having seemed to finally realise that the best way to make his terrible movies go away was to stop talking about them. This is the only one I’ve ever seen and I don’t imagine I’ll waste time on another. Though I am a little curious about seeing Jason Statham in a fantasy movie… (Review.)

2
Parabellum

I summarised this as well as I can think in my review, so I’ll just quote myself: “Alfred Hitchcock once said that ‘movies are real life with the boring parts cut out.’ Valenta Rinner’s movie is the opposite of this in every respect: it isn’t real life, which is fine, but he only left the boring parts in, which isn’t.” (Review.)

1
Flight 93

It’s been ten years since I watched this so it’s entirely possible I’ve hyped up its terribleness in my memory, but I have no desire to revisit it to find out. So, I remember it as being an offensively bad treatment of events from 9/11, its awfulness thrown into sharp relief by how well Paul Greengrass’ United 93 handled the same story. (Review.)

Tomorrow: it’s the Oscars!

Alone in the Dark (2005)

2009 #69
Uwe Boll | 94 mins | TV | 18 / R

Alone in the DarkI’ve never played an Alone in the Dark game. I wanted to, when I was young and they were a widely-known cutting-edge franchise, but it was deemed too scary or adult or something like that and I wasn’t allowed. (By the time someone’s nostalgia revived the series nearly a decade later, I didn’t care.) I’ve also never seen an Uwe Boll film, though his reputation obviously precedes him. Considering the latter, having no attachment to the former is probably a benefit to assessing this — I understand that, story-wise, it bears virtually no relation — but I can’t say it helps much.

Right from the off, things don’t look good: it opens with an essay’s worth of backstory in scrolling text… which, just to rub it in, is also read out. It takes about a minute and a half. There are any number of screenwriting rules this not so much breaks as slowly and methodically grinds into sand. Some rules can be bent or broken to good effect if the writer knows what they’re doing, but others exist for damn fine reasons and breaking them just results in a lesser film. This is unquestionably the latter. There’s an almost-excuse: the text was added after test audiences said they didn’t understand the plot. But it’s not much of one. The relevant information is all revealed later in the film too, and neither manage to explain what the hell is going on. It’s not the audience’s fault they couldn’t understand the plot, it just doesn’t make sense.

Quickly, the poor quality opening is cemented with the addition of a dire voiceover narration from Christian Slater’s lead character. He addresses the audience in a chatty style that’s both irritating and incongruous, and primarily exists to continuously dump more useless info. That it disappears without a trace fairly early on is a relief, but proves how pointless and cheap it was in the first place.

And then there’s an action sequence, which defies logic in every respect. The editing mucks up continuity, the good guys turn into a dead-end marketplace for no reason — other than it provides a handily enclosed location for the ensuing fist fight — the bad guy rams cars, scales buildings and jumps through windows, also for no reason, and the fight seems to consist of a punch followed by some slow motion standing around (yes, it’s the standing around that’s in slow motion) repeated too often, interspersed with the occasional ‘cool’ move or shot. On the bright side, there’s one sub-Matrix, Wanted-esque shot of a bullet-time close-up as Carnby fires at the bad guy through a block of ice, which in itself is passably entertaining. You’ll note, of course, that that’s one good shot. One. Shot.

I could go through every scene in the film describing what’s wrong in this way, but no one wants to suffer that. Suffice to say it only gets worse — none of the initial flaws improve, but are compounded by more weak performances (Tara Reid as some kind of scientist?) and the story entirely vacating proceedings. Before halfway I gave up following the plot — after all, why try to follow something that makes no sense in the first place — and just hoped it could pull out some interesting or exciting sequences. But the horror sequences have no tension and the fights no coherence. One action sequence, which begins entirely out of the blue, sees soldiers shooting at beast-thingies in the dark, lit only by muzzle flashes, set to a thumping metal soundtrack. It probably seemed innovative when conceived, but instead is laughable for all the wrong reasons. Like the rest of the film.

Sadly, none of it’s laughable in a charming way — this is not So Bad It’s Good territory. Take the moment where the good guys arrive at an abandoned gold mine that’s actually the villain’s Super Secret Lair. They bring a whole army’s worth of heavily armed marines. Commander blokey insists it’s nothing like enough men… and then proceeds to enter the mine with just half a dozen of them. If there was no budget for more it might be funny, but the rest stay up top to be slaughtered by some Primeval-quality CGI. Even the ending, supposed to be ambiguous apparently, is just a meaningless cop-out that makes absolutely no sense. Like the rest of the film.

Sometimes I feel sorry for Christian Slater. He always seems a nice guy in interviews, yet this kind of drivel is all the work he can get. At the time of writing it’s the 82nd worst film of all time on IMDb (according to its own page, though not that chart). While this is the kind of status that’s often an overreaction (the number of people on IMDb declaring various films are “the worst film ever” suggests most of them have been fortunate enough to never see a truly bad movie), for once it’s justified: Alone in the Dark is irredeemably atrocious.

1 out of 5

If you want to subject yourself to Alone in the Dark, ITV4 are showing it tonight at 11pm.

Alone in the Dark featured on my list of The Five Worst Films I Saw in 2009, which can be read in full here.