Worst of the Worst: The List of 2009’s 10 worst lists

2009’s 10 worst …

  1. IPOs (The Street)
  2. Films (t5m)
  3. Economic Myths Reiterated by “The Media” (BusinessAndMedia) 
  4. Ads (BNET)
  5. Obsessions (Scene)
  6. Movies (Metromix)
  7. Odd, Overreaching ‘Decade’ Lists (AtlanticWire – and they went with 9 just to be different)
  8. Toys (W.A.T.C.H.)
  9. Sex Scenes (YourTango)
  10. iPhone Apps (Fortune)
  11. Tech Failures (ReadWriteWeb)
  12. Concept Cars (AskMen)
  13. Linux Distributions (DaniWeb)
  14. Countries to be a Blogger (CPJ)
  15. Real Estate Markets (Fortune)
  16. Album Covers (AOL) 
  17. States for Job Losses (ClassesAndCareers)
  18. Sexy Halloween Costumes (Washington City Paper)
  19. US Cities for Traffic (RealEstateBloggers)
  20. Exchange Traded Funds (EveryDayFinance)
  21. Stocks (MotleyFool)
  22. Celebrity Endorsements (Financial Times)
  23. Rock albums (About.com)
  24. Pop Culture Halloween Costumes (BuddyTV)
  25. Foods (Shine)
  26. Summer Jobs (AutoBlog)
  27. Cities for Asthma (eMedicine)
  28. US Cities for Rodents (TheRealEstateBloggers)
  29. Dictators (Parade)
  30. US Places to Live (StrollerDerby)
  31. iPhone apps (ITPro) 
  32. Social Media Marketing Tips (Social Media Today)
  33. Movies (Examiner.com)
  34. Airports (Travel + Leisure)
  35. Things That Are Behind Us Now (AdAge)
  36. Predictions (Foreign Policy)
  37. Tax Gimmicks (Fox And Hound)
  38. Movies (Columbus Other Paper)
  39. Video Games (Virgin Media)
  40. Movies That Failed To Live Up To The Hype (IGN)
  41. Business Deals (Time)
  42. Dressed World Leaders (Time)
  43. Gay Happenings (AutoStraddle)

Mamma Mia! It’s the Dark Knight.

I’ve seen three movies in the last two weeks. One of them good, one of them wonderfully bad and one of them incoherently bad.

The good one was Hellboy II, which is indeed better than the original which I liked a lot.

But enough about that let’s talk about Mamma Mia! (wonderfully bad) and The Dark Knight (incoherently bad).

Mamma Mia! as Mrs. CollateralDamage put it, “is the Rocky Horror Picture Show of 2008.” I’m expecting sing-alongs, throwing toast and dancers, lots and lots of dancers — many of them in swim trunks and scuba fins. It is to be sure a bad movie. The characters struggle to get to two dimensions despite the valiant efforts of some fine actors. The plot is beyond hokey. The music … well, the music is ABBA. One reviewer said the group’s lyrics were “English-like” and that pretty much nails it. You either hate ABBA or you love them or, like me, both. I laughed throughout. Sometimes even at parts that were meant to be funny.

Pierce Brosnan gives the bravest performance you will see on a movie screen this year. It is also the worst. The man can’t sing, but that doesn’t stop him from trying and I have to admire him for it. He is at his best in Meryl Streep’s Especially Big Number where he is called on to look dashing. He does it superbly.

And now to The Dark Knight. If anyone actually cared about my opinion I would doubtless be pilloried for what I am about to say. It’s a mess. It is not one of the best movies ever made. The only movie I’ve seen this year that falls into that category is WALL*E. It is not even the best superhero movie of this year — I would place both Hellboy and Iron Man (which did a superb job of reminding me why I loved comic books as a kid) in front of it.

Dark Night was too long and too confused. Its reach exceded its grasp. CollateralDamage Jr. said that it should have been batman 2 & batman 3. If they’d just told us what was essentially Harvey Dent’s back story and left it there I would have been happy and it would have made sense. but then came the rest of it which needed a whole additional movie to develop. Emotionally it basically built up to hitting a high C and then held it for an hour. While that is an admirable feat to be able to pull off it isn’t very interesting to watch.

The late Mr. Ledger was great as was the rest of the cast (especially Gary Oldham — you ever see Syd & Nancy?). Mr. Bale had my sympathies because his character really didn’t change in the course of the movie so he got stuck playing someone who starts out as a slightly conflicted superhero only to end up as … a slightly conflicted superhero.

I am glad to see Two-Face finally getting his due. Billie Dee Williams played Dent in the Tim Burton version but they never did anything with him.

Also it had a number of little things that irked me — who has paper money to steal these days?

I enjoyed it on a summer blockbuster level but on substance my superhero pick of the summer is Hellboy with its story of the risks and responsibilities of love and how two creatures from another dimension can make Barry Manilow so essential.

Three summer blockbusters = 2 good movies

Much to my own surprise I have seen the three big action flicks released so far — Ironman, Prince Caspian and Indiana Jones & The AARP. Much to my even greater surprise, two of them are good.

Caspian is by far the best of the bunch. I don’t remember the book well enough to assess how much the movie deviates from it and I really don’t care. Movies are different than books and if you don’t try to adapt the story to the medium you are screwed. (See the first Harry Potter movie for example.) Caspian tells a good, solid story with actual emotional underpinnings that makes the action deeper without diverting from it. Caspian also has the added advantage of having Peter Dinklage, in my mind the most charismatic actor working today. I first saw him in the wonderful movie The Station Agent. He is perhaps best known for his role in Elf as the little person who beats up wannabe little person Will Farrel. I will watch anything he is in. I hope more directors are catching on to his possibilities. Someone cast him as Hamlet, quick. Not ironically or anything like that. In Caspian, Dinklage’s character is the moral center of the movie, doubting everything until he comes to believe.

Next on the ranking list is Ironman. Ironman continues a very hopeful trend in action movies — casting really, really good actors. The most obvious examples here are Robert Downey Jr. and Jeff Bridges, but it continues through the entire cast. Great acting helps the audience past those plot stupidities that seem to be required in most big budget action movies these days. The biggest example in Ironman is when the terrorist villain goes from being supersmart to superdumb for no apparent reason. Downey is so totally charming and wonderful as Tony Stark he alone covers up for several movies worth of dumb plot devices. Bridges takes a boilerplate bad guy and makes him real. The only real acting flub is Gwyneth Paltrow who isn’t actually bad but just flat in a dumb role.

A debate is raging as to whether Indy vs. The AARP is the worst sequel ever. No. It isn’t even the worst George Lucas sequel ever. That honor goes to the last three Star Wars movies. While you can make a plausible case for Phantom Menace being he worst sequel ever — the stupidity of the writing and directing is only surpassed by the racial stereotyping — for me that honor goes to Godfather III. The Star Wars movies were fun but nothing else, so disfiguring the brand really was no great wrong. Godfather III was — and I don’t use this word lightly — a desecration. Indy isn’t even in the same category of bad as either the Star Wars mistakes or GF III. Actually cut out 30 minutes and its a pleasant action movie. Sadly at two hours all the flaws become more evident and boredom really set in. That said, Collateral Damage Jr. loved it. He’s 11.9 which makes him the target demographic so his vote will count more than mine. See his full review here at his blog, The Watchamacallit. Just realized that on the horrible sequel list I also left out the Star Trek series which at my last count had only two (maybe three) good movies in the entire sequence.

Actually a more useful list would be sequels that are actually good. I’ll start: Henry IV, Part 2.

Mostly, I’m just killing time until WALL-E comes out, though.