So the time has come around again, and, after spending far too long trying to decide whether Men In Black: International or Charlie’s Angels should be tenth, I humbly present my ten worst films of 2019 [UK releases], to be followed by my thirty best – in a week or so once I’ve caught up with a few goodies that I’ve missed.
10/ MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL
A good example of how a once really fun, sparkling franchise with its own particular vibe can be watered down and turned into something thoroughly bland and generic by today’s Hollywood [which seems to want the majority of films to look and feel the same], not to mention sexist – Hollywood currently thinks that sexism is really great as long as it’s directed one particular way. There was little point in re-teaming Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth if they were given hardly any decent material to work with, and what was with the ignorance of franchise rules? 4/10
9/ IT: CHAPTER TWO
You could probably get a decent hour and a half movie out of this laboured sequel that tediously stretched things out to the point of bordering on being downright boring – though you’d still be stuck with a scary film that wasn’t [except for one scene] scary. As with far too much horror these days, it thought that little more than continuous BOO! moments were where it’s at, and what’s the point of doing cool techie stuff like digitally “de-aging” characters if it looks and sounds so jarring? Intrusive humour too, as if the filmmakers didn’t even have faith in the story they were telling. 4/10
8/ STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER
Could this have ever been good? J. J. Abrams was faced with having to deal with Rian Johnson’s colossal cock-ups and idiocy, but he previously showed that all he was interested in is lazy fan service and rehashing. So what we got was a two hour movie told in an hour followed by a warmed-over Return Of The Jedi. There was zero chemistry between the cast and the visuals were largely bland and uninteresting. The first of what will no doubt be a hundred soulless, corporate Disney Star Wars trilogies came to an unedifying end. The prequels have never seemed so good. 3.5/10
When you have a film full of groaners in the dialogue like, “that’s the thing about sand, you can draw another line” , you’d think that it would be entertainingly bad, a good movie to watch with some booze, and I guess it was also possible to chuckle at the CGI, some of which looked like rejects from a computer game from around 2000. But this was really a mostly numbing experience that seemed like it was trying to cram in a trilogy’s worth of plot into one movie, while it was painfully obvious that the ‘jokes’ were added in post production, and Hellboy just came across as an idiot throughout. 3.5/10
6/ POKEMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU
Maybe this does come across as good if you’re familiar with Pokemon – our David Smith really liked it. All I saw was a dumbed down version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? with a title character who did hardly any detecting, main leads who were visibly struggling with the script they were given which seemed like a first draft judging by its terrible plotting, a female lead who seemed to be present just because they wanted to have a female lead, and Ryan Reynolds doing his annoying smarmy act again while the thing he was voicing was blurry in every shot he was beside his human companion. 3.5/10
I’ve seen a recording of this on stage, and it was mesmerising. But this catastrophic film version – well, after two hours of these hideous Dr. Moreau-style creatures with the facial likenesses of stars ‘singing’ [that’s stretching the term considerably] to me in close-up, I thought I might have nightmares. Lumpen choreography, unfinished CGI [can you believe it new prints are being sent to cinemas with ‘finished’ effects], butchering of songs so people can say a line rather than singing it, and James Corden and Rebel Wilson doing their usual tedious schtick. The director of Les Miserables ruined another music. 3/10
A supremely irritating film that was bizarrely misjudged throughout, be it the performances which weirdly alternated between being overdone and under-cooked despite the fabulous cast, the smug, condescending attitude, the plethora of silly devices that prevented one from actually being involved, or the fact that it seemed to be brutally hacked down. Writer/director Adam McKay totally failed to understand how to deliver stark political commentary without seeming idiotic or patronising, thereby totally wasting what could have been a potent critique of Dick Cheney. 3/10
3/ GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS
Being a huge fan, I never thought I’d have a Godzilla film that wasn’t from 1998 ranked so low. But this was a crashing let down, first and foremost being the way it didn’t deliver in what it promised, seeming to be actually ashamed of having its monsters fight judging by the way it tried to disguise the action. But nor was there any decent human drama to latch onto, the characters disappearing in a mess of terrible storytelling and lousy film-making like folk gazing out of a window and marveling at Mothra in her adult splendour even though you could barely make her out because the sky was so yellow. 3/10
2/ THE LION KING
Ronald Reagan once called Russia the “evil empire”, but I’m seriously starting to think that the term can more accurately applied to Disney for a variety of reasons, an organisation that has become a blight on not just the cinematic landscape but the world landscape. In any case, the creatively bankrupt company that continues to piss on its own legacy reached lows in terms of film-making with this astonishingly lazy production that did little more than paste the script and songs of the original over CGI animals, the result totally lacking in soul, with every recreation inferior to its hand-drawn counterpart. 2/10
1/ BLACK CHRISTMAS
SPOILERS! Vile anti-male garbage and a terribly done slasher movie. Hollywood has been increasingly sexist of late, thinking that it’s progressive to consider one sex to be superior to another, but it reached rock bottom with this truly horrid creation, a disgusting attempt to spell out one horrid message to its hoped for [as is often the case the target audience sensed that they were being patronised and stayed away, not that Hollywood will take note] audience of teenage girls. The message? Men are the enemy. Well, not quite – if you’re non-white you might be okay. But as for the boyfriend of one of the characters – he was literally shown the door as soon as he dared disagree with his girlfriend and we were obviously supposed to support this. Given its plot, you could almost take this film as a hysterical parody of feminism, except that it seemed sincere in its repugnant ideology. This is not feminism. This is misandry through and through, and it has no place being in cinema screens – or indeed anywhere.
And then, just when you think this film couldn’t get more reprehensible, it decided to insult rape victims [I’m not making this up] by having one character who we were supposed to like exploit a rape for her own personal gain and force a victim of sexual assault into uncomfortable situations around her abuser. I guess that writer/director Sophie Takal and co-writer April Woolfe thought that they was showing empowerment, but all they were showing was either total idiocy or a screwed-up mind – and I’m not just talking about the character. In fact they seem to be very short of brain cells indeed, they certainly have no business writing a screenplay going by their total incompetence as writers here – for god’s sake they couldn’t even get their anti-male theme right by the script claiming that a statue was doing all this possessing [though it was a male statue]. And what the hell was the point of having men being made stronger by this magical goo if they could be so easily overpowered in the pathetically staged climax? – after which a load of mostly innocent men [but they’re still men so we’re not supposed to give a toss about them] who had the goo slipped in their drinks are burned to death.
Of course it failed almost entirely as a slasher except for a providing a literally beat for beat replay of the classic nurse scare from Exorcist 3. Much has been made of the gore being cut out, but buckets of blood would hardly improve it. The underrated Imogen Poots delivered a strong performance, and there was some nice use of colour at times, but this was still as ugly a film as I’ve ever seen. David Smith did the full review of this and found very little to praise – but with all due respect, I think he was far too kind. 1/10