1. BloodRayne – Last year, Uwe Boll only made it to number 6 on this list with Alone In The Dark. He must have been upset, because he outdid himself this time. Sticking to his strengths, BloodRayne is an adaptation of a videogame. One in which a half-vampire does some stuff in the Middle Ages. And I guess, he does get that right. Ultimately, this is a joyless terribleness. Of course the acting is terrible, of course nothing makes any sense, and of course the action scenes are stunted and punctuated by ridiculous gore. And if this showed up on the shelf in Blockbuster, you wouldn’t think anything of it. But it was in a movie theater. A lot of them. Most of them, even. And Ben Kingsley is in it. So in the end, it’s an atrocity of logic more than cinema.
Reason to watch it anyway: Well, you might laugh at a lot of things: Michael Madsen’s “accent,” Michelle Rodriguez’s lack thereof, the fact that Ben Kingsley is in it… but really there’s nothing. But on the DVD there is a special feature entitled “Dinner With Uwe Boll,” and there may never be a better DVD extra.
2. Ultraviolet – It’s truly incredible how similar these first two movies are. Both star women with swords who are clumsily camouflaged vampires out for vengeance that leads them into working for some greater cause. I think. It’s difficult to tell. And really, the only thing that puts this above BloodRayne (because it might actually make less sense) is that said woman with a sword is Milla Jovovich. Make no mistake, she’s still terrible, but not boring terrible like her counterpart, Kristianna Loeken. The Middle Ages are traded for a washed out pastel future where fake kids are kept in interdimensional suitcases and armor is made of glass so it can shatter spectacularly on camera when struck by a sword. Oh, right, we’re still using swords. So that hasn’t changed.
Reason to watch it anyway: There’s a scene that sums this whole movie up. Milla Jovovich gets trapped on a roof, surrounded by like fifty Japanese guys with guns. The potential for a ridiculous Kill Bill-style fight looms. Instead, she ducks, allowing them all, and I mean all, to shoot each other. This scene takes 5 of the 82 minute run time.
3. Underworld: Evolution – Incredible. A third female vampire action movie. At least in this one they don’t try to hide the fact that Kate Beckinsale is indeed, a vampire. Of course, she’s teaming up with a warepire or whatever to fight other vampires, so I suppose you can’t give them too much credit.
Reason to watch it anyway: Apparently, you don’t need one. The Underworld franchise is doing quite well. The director, Len Wiseman, has squeezed Live Free Or Die Hard between this and the next Underworld sequel (that’s right), so thanks for making him a bankable presence. Jerks.
4. Everyone’s Hero – Why didn’t kids flock to a crudely animated picture using that terribly exciting Yankee four game sweep of the Chicago Cubs in the 1932 World Series as a backdrop? Why wouldn’t they love to see Babe Ruth’s apparently famous bat talk to them in Whoopi Goldberg’s voice? That seems like the perfect competition for Pixar. But Everyone’ Hero isn’t content with a simple triumph of misconception. It adds a healthy dose of ineptitude as well. Some of the most apathetic voice work since the celebrity redubbing of Princess Mononoke. Rob Reiner (as a talking baseball) tells jokes older than Carl Reiner. And the lead kid gets to hit a home run in the World Series. And it’s a good thing too, because after he returns Babe Ruth’s bat, he’s informed that “it’s not the bat, it’s the batter” and man would that have been a wasted trip otherwise.
Reason to watch it anyway: There’s this one joke where the bat realizes it can only roll itself in circles that’s okay, but I just ruined that for you. There’s also a scene with a Negro League team that isn’t ever once preachy or even guilt-inducing. But that’s not something they did, but rather something they didn’t do.
5. See No Evil – I’ve been blissfully unaware, but Kane is a wrestler. A wrestler that apparently wants to get into the movies. So The WWE made it happen. Trouble is, Kane is a gigantic hulking mass of what we can only assume is human parts. You can’t make him some kind of agile action star, science fiction costs too much and nobody’s going to laugh at this guy even if he turned out to be Sascha Baron Cohen in an ogre costume. So what to do? Well, you make him a grunting, emotionally stunted serial killer, of course. Because why couldn’t you build a movie around a character like that? Give him some delinquent kids to kill and superstardom is inevitable. Trouble is, this movie never decides whether it wants us to root for Kane or said doomed kids. Which, in turn, leads us to root for the rotting hotel they’re all in (and supposedly rehabilitating as part of their community service) to collapse on itself and take them all with it. Which it sort of does, because of course, if the demented serial killer kills too many kids himself, you might not feel sorry for him when you learn his mother’s been keeping him trapped in said hotel all this time. And then what kind of movie would you have?
Reason to watch it anyway: There’s one delinquent kid, who seems even more delinquent than the rest of them. Which turns out to be a very useful quality when faced with a crazy killer that doesn’t stop even when he gets shot in the head. And he seems to know what he’s doing for a few minutes, which was a nice, if fleeting, change of pace.
6. The Marine – Another wrestling star vehicle. This time, Jon Cena is The Marine. Again, I didn’t know who this guy was going in, but unlike Kane, I’ve seen plenty of him since. And the weird thing is, he’s been infinitely more charismatic than he was in this movie. Same goes for Robert Patrick, who you’d hope would at least be a tiny shining star in a sea of awfulness. But he gets dragged right down with it. He tries to affect that “I’m a crazy-but-human villain” persona, but it doesn’t work. Probably, it’s not his fault. And ultimately, he’s got to go up against Jon Cena, and that’s not a fair fight.
Reason to watch it anyway: I still wish I could say Robert Patrick. But I can’t. Kelly Carlson, another wrestler, apparently, plays The Marine’s seemingly dutiful wife who starts out as hostage and ends up making you think maybe she doesn’t need saving. Which ruins a lot of the tension the movie probably should have tried harder to sustain, but it’s something.
7. Zoom – Holy crap. Tim Allen had a bad year. But he might have gotten away with it if not for this. I guess on the heels of Sky High’s mild success, superhero kid movies languishing in development got green lights. And promptly were struck by oncoming traffic. The most annoying cast of child actors ever assembled is single handedly out terribled by Courtney Cox as a clumsy scientist who idol worships Tim Allen’s washed up superhero. That would have been enough, but add to that the plot that they’re all training in preparation for the return of Tim Allen’s dimensionally excommunicated brother (which means all they do the entire movie is train for the final “battle”) and you have every base covered.
Reason to watch it anyway: Tim Allen will stand in for you as completely annoyed by everyone and everything around him for a substantial amount of the movie.
8. The Fountain – Hugh Jackman was a lot of things this year. Magician, murderer, rat, magician’s doppelganger, penguin… but in this movie alone he gets to be a scientist, a conquistador and a, uhm, bald floating guy who eats tree bark. Suffice it to say, I don’t know what’s going on in The Fountain. And make no mistake, I was never supposed to. Hugh Jackman is obsessed with curing a chimp of cancer and Rachel Weisz is writing a book and dying of something similar. Then she’s Queen Isabella and, I guess, she’s also that tree with the edible bark? Don’t even try to tell me you get this. There’s no reason for any of it besides a terrible excuse for some fancy camerawork. None of which is all that stunning.
Reason to watch it anyway: Darren Aronofsky obviously had no desire nor intention of making something that was in any way enjoyable. But I would imagine there are a handful of people who will pretend they understand in order to feel smarter than the rest of us.
9. The Black Dahlia – Brian DePalma’s obviously been having trouble ever since he ran out of Hitchcock and Hawks movies to rip off. But after stumbling around with a few foreign-feeling “thrillers,” this was going to be his comeback. His Gosford Park. His Mystic River. His… Match Point. I guess that one works. But that’d be insulting Match Point. Which at this point last year, you wouldn’t have thought was possible. You also wouldn’t think it possible to fill two hours entirely with stuff we’ve not only seen before, but have seen so many times that it’s become standard parody. Fast talking women, corrupt police departments, lesbian bars, aggressively drunk mothers, and of course, the insanely vengeful cop played with growling stupidity by Aaron Eckhart. All this plus a climax featuring maybe the single worst monologue you’ve ever seen. Thank you Brian DePalma. Don’t ever give up.
Reason to watch it anyway: It’s the only way to truly appreciate the biggest casting mishap since Donald and Keifer Sutherland didn’t play father and son in A Time To Kill: Hilary Swank as someone people confuse with Mia Kirschner.
10. Idlewild – Much of this is covered in Idlewild’s appearance on the Most Disappointing list. And while there’s plenty more, it bears repeating that there’s a talking flask. Actually, it’s a talking rooster engraved on a flask. A flask that in turn belongs to a character named Rooster. But that’s neither here nor there. What is here and also there is the squandering of a potentially fantastic supporting cast: Terrence Howard, Ben Vereen, Ving Rhames, Faison Love, Bill Nunn and Cicely Tyson. Only Ving Rhames emerges with the same status he went in with, and that I fear, is only because his character is killed within ten minutes. Worse yet, there’s an extended tap dancing scene under the credits and Ben Vereen isn’t included. What then was the point, Mr. Barber? For serious.
Reason to watch it anyway: The music, I guess? But that’s a dumb reason. It does look good, just like most features made by video directors. Of course, you’d think someone so visually oriented would make his scenes easier to follow. So you’d think wrong.
(Final Destination 3, Scoop, Wah-Wah, Tamara, Pulse)