Friday, 17 January 2020

My Least Favourite Films of 2019

Contrary to some belief, no filmmaker sets out to make a bad film. It's all the more unfortunate when we don't enjoy what we watch, and the final product isn't reflective of the best intentions which went into it.

Milhouse couldn't believe the rating his film got on The Reviewing Rodders.

Before I put out my Top films of 2019 list, let's quickly go through my least favourite films of that same year. It's worth mentioning that this is just an opinion piece from me, and it's wonderful if you got more enjoyment out of my choices than I did. Nevertheless, here's my list.

With Netflix offering creative freedom to filmmakers, it makes sense what the result would be when Michael Bay took that offer. The most pure example of a Bay film, revelling in his signature style in ways which make his previous films look calm and collected. It's takes over an hour for the plot to move forward, scenes can't stay still for 5 seconds, and the biggest villains are the supposed heroes, who don't react to the amount of civilians they've caused the deaths of. It's a shame, because there are nice ideas in play which could've worked.



Cats 2019 poster.jpg9. Cats

After the success of Les Misérables, nobody should be shocked that Tom Hooper would return to adapt another musical for the big screen, but eyebrows were raised at this being the choice. There's little plot to it, so we get nearly 2 hours of unsettling CGI cats being introduced, while everybody seems to be on the verge of partaking in an orgy. Each cat is giving their all to be chosen to start again in a new better life, but it plays out in a way which could be considered ritualistic sacrifice, leaving us with the feline version of Midsommar.


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8. Serenity

Steven Knight writes and directs this tale of a father wanting to be there for his son, despite the distance between them, so agrees to help his ex-wife murder her abusive husband. The elements are there for an engrossing thriller, so what happened? Strong actors are left to give inert performances, as Matthew McConnaughey seems to lose his mind trying to catch a massive tuna. The plot goes off the rails in mind-boggling ways, and by the end of it, I was wondering what the film was trying to achieve through it all. Maybe it's just me, but after all that, I still don't know.

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7. The Hustle

The directorial debut of British comedian, and The Thick Of It star, Chris Addison wanted to achieve quite a bit with this remake of 1988's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. He wanted a modern-day homage to the old-school capers, while weaving social commentary about perceived gender roles into this female led iteration of the story. Sadly, what commentary is brought to screen feels too surface-level to register, and the plot is too signposted to keep the audiences guessing.


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6. X-Men: Dark Phoenix

It's hard to believe that the X-Men franchise has been running since 2000, but with Disney buying 20th Century Fox, this long-running series was quietly brought to an end 19 years after it began. It closes out with a second-try at adapting The Dark Phoenix Saga, and what's left feels shockingly dated, in how ashamed it seems to be of it's source material, left with no identity to call it's own. Character moments feel unearned, no matter how much some of the cast are clearly trying, and attempted moments of female empowerment sadly feel rushed and forced.

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5. The Fanatic

Following up his performance in Gotti, John Travolta once more gives an misjudged performance which dives straight into being cartoonish. It wants to be a dark tale about obsession and doing whatever possible to achieve your goals, but it feels like a watered down version of The King of Comedy. It wants to be about the relationship between celebrities and obsessive fans, but it feels like it's just killing time before getting down to the grisly stuff. There are aspirations here, but I didn't feel they were met by director Fred Durst (yes, lead singer of Limp Bizkit).


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4. Hellboy


Reviving the character which Guillermo del Toro and Ron Perlman popularised a decade before? Risky move, but doing it as such a brash mess, written around half-hearted set pieces? Bad move. David Harbour brings an intensity and likeability to the character through the impressive make-up design, but it all feels for nought, channelled into a film trying to prove itself as edgy, whose message is "stop crying and grow a pair". How regressive.



Rambo - Last Blood official theatrical poster.jpg
3. Rambo: Last Blood

Because a franchise never truly dies, John Rambo has returned for a fifth instalment, and this entry comes off as some vile wish fulfilment for the Trump era. This is a feature where Mexico is characterised as a wretched hive of scum and villainy, where its residents are ready to force innocents into a horrific cycle of drugs and sexual assault. All of this leads up to Rambo taking part in Home Alone to force out Mexican people who wish to "invade" his property, as though the film is crying out "If only he had a wall". This is a nasty film with a blackened heart.

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2. The Queen's Corgi

What things fit perfectly into a film the kids can enjoy? Adorable doggies are a definite yes. Depiction of British monarchy isn't a must, but can work within the story. But when you casually throw in sexual assault, a bit of classism, casual homophobia, and an animated Donald Trump making references to an infamous quote about "grabbing"? And play it all for laughs? The mind boggles that all of this was ever considered acceptable for young children to see.



LoqueeshaPoster.jpg1. Loqueesha

As much as I want to see the best in what a filmmaker attempts, I can't see anything of the sort in this despicable brainchild of Jeremy Saville, the films writer, director, and star. He plays a white male bartender that everybody says is hilarious and insightful, so applies to host his own radio show. When he doesn't get the job, he reapplies under the guise of a black woman, speaking in a horrifically stereotypical impersonation. In a misguided way of crisis management, the film comments on how the main characters actions are awful, but when they're ignored, it just feels like a way to pad the time out. As a whole, this is one of the most ill-conceived films of the year, and the decade.

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