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Tuesday, January 20, 2009


At the Meh-vies 2008

As New Years rolls around publications and blogs around the world run their reviewers' "best and worst movies of the year" round-ups. All those movies that fall in the middle though? They may wind up at the top of Netflix's most-rented list but they never receive year-end kudos to call their very own. Where's a most mediocre movies of 2008 list? Right here, that's where. This may be belated but here's a run down on the ten most middle-of-road, uninspiring but not terrible films I saw last year:

10. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull- Maybe this botched resurrection of my childhood hero better belongs on a "worst of" list but I think the film at least holds-up better than the Star Wars prequels. I'll stand by the first half, even the ridiculous "Indy jumps in a refrigerator to survive a nuclear blast" bit but the second half? Pure, unadulterated CGI-hokum on the level of those awful Brenden Fraiser mummy movies.

9. Zack & Miri Make a Porno- I've got a soft spot for the films of Kevin Smith. While none of them are very good, they're the cinematic equivalent of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Zack and Miri is almost completely forgettable but I think the ending makes it worth a look.

8. Quantum of Solace- Further proof that shaky-cam, quick-cut action sequences need to wind up in the same cinematic technique garbage bin as jump cuts and painted backdrops. That scene on the rooftops in Spain? Completely incoherent. Even a tired cliche like James Bond deserves better.
A huge letdown from the promise of Casino Royale but it still had some great moments.

7. Tropic Thunder- Here's a great idea for a comedy. Let's get America's top-paid comedic actors together to redeem themselves for years of cashing-in on lame Hollywood blockbusters and con them into trying to do something that's actually funny. But let's trap them instead in an irrelevant premise that doesn't make any sense in the year 2008. When was the last time anyone made an Oscar-bait movie about Vietnam? 1989?

6. Choke- It had a plot that roamed around like a lost puppy in a shopping mall but it sure did had some great one-liners.

5. Cloverfield- Sure, it was entertaining but the last thing I'm going to do if a unstoppable monster shows up in Portland is chase after it with a video camera. South Park had the last word on this one. "I'm so startled right now!"

4. Be Kind, Rewind- A cute little movie with characters so inexplicably naive, twee and bizarre that it made you want to line them up and smack them one by one. Those homemade recreations of blockbusters though? Pretty funny.

3. Pineapple Express- Maybe my standards for stoner comedies are too high but the redband trailer was so much better than the final product.

2. Burn After Reading- The cast was great, the plot was solid but this one really felt like the Cohen Brothers were just phoning it in. The ending was terrible and, as one character puts it after surveying the web everyone has wound themselves up in, "what was that all about?"

1. Iron Man- Take away Robert Downey Jr's great performance and what are you left with? Yet another super hero origin story filled with banal action sequences, comic book cliches and generic terrorist bad guys. Here's hoping the trump card Tony Stark throws down in the film's last scene will make for a superior sequel.


The best movie I saw in a theater last year- The Dark Knight. I wish I could say the best one was something more respectable or an Oscar contender but The Dark Knight was the film the geek in me has been waiting to see for decades. It was as deadly serious as The Godfather as tragic as a Shakespeare play and had its feet rooted in reality. It didn't have any big robots, no super-powered mutants, just a bunch of great, incredibly screwed-up characters all thrown together in a nasty series of mind games and morale quagmires that eventually brings the city of Gotham to its knees. There will never be another comic book movie this good.

The worst movie I saw in a theater last year- Twilight. Do I really need to explain why?

And here's last year's list.


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