Sunday, January 10, 2016

Sunday Worst: The Bizzaro Awards 2015

My good friend the Doctor said that I should do a parallel list to my Kal-El Awards that reflect to worst in pop culture from the year.  He suggested that I call them the "Lenny Luthors" after the horrible Jon Cryer character from Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.  The rational for choosing Lenny was that "he is terrible in every way that Superman is awesome."

I liked the idea, but I thought instead of Lenny Luthor we would name the awards after the true opposite of Superman:


Bizarro is the anti-Superman, literally.  He even maintains speech patterns that are the opposite of what he means.  "Good-bye, me am not Bizarro.  Me like you!  Live!"  said by Bizarro actually means "Hello, I am Bizarro.  I hate you! Die!"

So since Superman is my mark of excellence.  Bizarro will be my mark of utter awfulness.   Unlike the Kal-El awards, these will be focused only on movies.  The reason is that serialized work like television and comics require a longer time commitment in order to understand the material.  You may have to watch a show or read a comic for several months before you discover if it is truly bad or good.  It took me a few episodes to understand the logic behind Vincent D'Onofrio's performance in Daredevil.  The investment of time and/or money also precludes a lot of unnecessary sampling, so my exposure to bad material is a bit less.

With a movie, you can have a complete understanding of the product after 90-180 minutes

So now, here are the Bizarro Awards for movies this past year.  (based on the movies I have seen).


Terminator Genisys

The Terminator franchise, like that of Highlander, has endured a slow, agonizing death spiral.  They have so twisted and mashed up their own continuity that it is unrecognizable.  One of the great things about the original Terminator is that even though there were some plot holes, the ideas sounded so well-thought out that you overlooked them.  But in Terminator Genisys, nothing makes a lick of sense.  Not a single action from any of the characters moves close to something that could be considered rational thought.  It lacks the raw terror of the first movie and it lacks all of the spectacle and innovation of T2.  It feels too sanitized and soulless.  The kicker for me was when Kyle and Sarah time travel to the present and get hit back a car on the highway.  The car slams into their naked bodies, which sends them flying through the air and then they roll and skid on the hard asphalt at 35 MPH, and they sit up with barely a scratch.  At that point I mentally threw up my hands and said, "I guess nothing is supposed to make sense.  Okay."  Not to mention that this movie has some of the worst performances of the year.  The more I think about this terrible film, the more I mourn the missed opportunity to do something good, or at least not awful.


Jai Courtney - Terminator Genisys

I feel a bit awkward picking on actors.  Sometimes a film actor can only give as much as their director gives them.  Look at how Joel Schumacher got horrible performances out of good actors in the irredeemable Batman and Robin.  Having said that, I have to say that Jai Courtney gave the worst performance as the new Kyle Reese.  As I said in my review: "I'm not sure that it is even really his fault.  He is just horribly cast.  He has nothing of what made the original version of Kyle so good.  If you remember from the first Terminator, Kyle is haunted, hunted solider.  There is an intense desperation in his eyes.  His body is sinewy but not bulky.  You believed he grew up desperate and starving.  Michael Biehn deserves more credit than I think I have given him the past.  Courtney's Kyle is a thick-necked brute.  He is way out of his depth.  I couldn't find anything compelling about him in this role.  "  Jai Courtney looks less like a scarred soldier of the future and more like poster-boy for Gold's Gym.  If you don't believe me, please check out the link below (I'm not posting it here because the video has mild nudity) to see a comparison between Biehn and Courtney.

The Two Kyles


Emilia Clarke - Terminator Genisys

Most famous for her work on Game of Thrones, many people thought that she would be a strong choice for the new Sarah Conner.  But she has none of the qualities to play the character effectively.  As I wrote in my review: "She feels like a little girl play dress up.  Linda Hamilton was Clarke's age when she originally played Sarah.  But I defy anyone to tell me that Clarke matches the maturity and power of Hamilton as Sarah (and we are talking about Sarah before she became a psychopath in T2).  On top of this, Courtney and Clarke have zero chemistry.  They talk about how they are supposed to fall in love, but it feels like parents from 2 different families telling their kids that they should get married.  It is all artificial."  If you need visual proof of this, just go to the Terminator Genisys trailer.  Something always bothered me about it until I finally realized what it was:  Clarke closes her eyes as she fires her gun:

Sarah Blinks

This may not seem like the biggest deal in the world, but it gives the impression of an actress using equipment that she does not control well rather than the Terminator-trained future mother of the human resistance.


Adam McKay - The Big Short

I have yet to write my full review for this film, but one of its biggest detriments is the director.  Adam McKay is used to doing silly comedies, but The Big Short is a kind of serious tragedy.  But he has so little confidence in his ability to tell a serious story.  He needlessly lingers and bores the audience with his shots.  And he consistently does these strange inserts, as if cutting away will give greater emotional or story weight.  For example, he likes to show off his character's bookshelves as if to scream at you "These guys are SMART!"  And he does the faux-documentary style to imitate the cinema-verite, but he keeps breaking the fourth wall so he loses all of this style's net effect.  Ultimately, he was a director who got in the way of his own movie.


David O. Russell - Joy

I was so horribly disappointed by this movie because of Russell's writing.  Instead of delivering multi-layered characters like he has in the past, all of the supporting parts are shallow caricatures there to serve the story.  As I wrote in my review:  "...the movie devolves into inanity.  At one point Joy's sister Peggy makes a horrible deal that is going to ruin her business.  This is the dialogue that follows:

Peggy:  You'll get the money back.
Joy:  How?
Peggy:  I've got ideas too, you know.

The dialogue is filled with stupid non sequitur like that.  Peggy is there simply to play the role of embodied Envy.  Joy's father is there to embody Selfishness.  Trudy is Greed.  Joy's mother is Sloth.  These allegories would be interesting and acceptable if the characters had any kind of depth.  Joy is simply a more adult Cinderella, pushed around by a wicked family.  But this is one princesses who doesn't need a prince to save her.  In fact the first and third act explicitly drive this point home."

Kingsman: The Secret Service

In the comic book upon which this movie is based, the villain comes up with a device that will turn people into rage-filled murders.  He then tests his device at a beach wedding.  When it came time to do this scene for the movie, the director said that it would be too upsetting to see wedding guests kill each other, so he thought it would be more fun to set it in a church.  The implication is that church-goers are less sympathetic wedding guests.  Not only are the members of this church a group of hate-mongers like the Westboro Baptist types, but the horrible carnage of murder and cruelty is done in a sacred space using sacred objects.  And this scene is very clearly done gratuitously, where you are meant to enjoy the mayhem.


Ted 2

I give a lot of latitude to the original Ted because while there is a lot of immoral activity, they are ultimately portrayed as obstacles to the main character reaching a more mature happiness.  But Ted 2 throws all of that out of the window.  It is devolves back into the horrible debauchery of the first film without any of the redemptive qualities.  This second movie is inferior to the original because all of its heart has been replaced with disgusting profanity.


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