Sunday, January 7, 2018

Sunday Worst: Bizarro Awards 2017

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

There will be 2 new categories that I will add:

-Worst TV Show I Stopped Watching
-Worst TV Show I Still Watch

In both of these cases I will be giving my critical condemnation of shows about which I have some significant experience and thus have a basis for calling them critical failures

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


Transformers: The Last Knight

I got a free pass to go see this 5th Transformers film.  And I still feel like I was robbed.  And keep in mind I thought the previous film Age of Extinction was the best in the series and I saw it twice in the theater.  Perhaps it was just the absence of Shia LeBeuf that gave the movie a little extra shine, but my hopes were a bit higher for this movie.  But it was awful!  Everything about it was awful!  The problem with the action scenes isn't that the special effects or the dynamic directing.  The problem is that after a very little while they became tedious.  When I should have been looking up in awe at the spectacle, I kept hoping that each action sequence would end so that the story could move forward.  With no emotional resonance with anything resembling a story, the movie was just full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

10. The Space Between Us
9. Baby Driver
8. The Lego Batman Movie
7.  The Hitman's Bodyguard
6.  Columbus
5.  The Emoji Movie
4.  Daddy's Home 2
3.  Atomic Blonde
2.  The Circle
1.  Transformers: The Last Knight


Ansel Elgort- Baby Driver

From my review of Baby Driver:

But the biggest detriment to the movie is Elgort as the lead.  I would not say that he is a bad actor.  In fact, he does carry off the physical bits of the movie with great aplomb.  But he lacks charisma.  And I do lay that on his shoulders and on Wright's.  Baby spends much of the movie in stoic silence.  As our main character, we need to be in his head and identify with him even when we disagree.  He needs to smolder with a fierce, silent intensity like a tightly coiled spring ready to pop out at you.  This is something that requires intense effort and concentration, which I don't see in Elgort.  Someone like a Joseph Gordon-Leavitt would have been perfect for a role like this.  But Elgort does not pull it off.  Instead of stoic and aloof he looks bored and pouty.  He doesn't come off as strong and silent but feels like a typical disaffected millennial.  Wright does his best to infuse him with coolness.  There is an early long-continuous shot in the movie (something Wright did so well in Shaun of the Dead) that is meant to highlight how cool Baby is.  But it just doesn't work because Elgort lacks the essential charm to pull it off.


Britt Robertson- The Space Between Us

Robertson is not necessarily a bad actress, but there was a real lack of heart to her performance in this movie.  In her defense, she wasn't given a terribly much to work with as her character is given so little depth.  Hollywood seems to have a problem of how to cast Robertson and at what age.  She has talent, to be sure, but most of this performance felt like an empty exercise in going through the motions.


Kogonada - Columbus

By all intents and purposes, Michael Bay should get this award for The Last Knight.  But Kogonada gets it for his small, independent film Columbus.  Why?  Because Kogonada has all of the skill and talent to tell a hauntingly good story and instead he wasted it on showing off his skills in visual design.  If you see the movie Columbus, it is beautifully shot.  His frames and his angles are sometimes achingly gorgeous.  And if he was simply was doing a video essay on the city, I would laud him.  But Columbus  is a narrative film, and as such all the visuals should be in service to the story and not the other way around.  His scenes are long, boring, tedious, and they linger long past any interest remains.  He is a devotee of directors like Stanley Kubrick and Wes Anderson, both of whom I detest for their emphasis on the visual at the expense of the narrative.


 Transformers: The Last Knight

As I wrote in my review:
I will attempt glimpses of a plot summary, but that will prove to be difficult since I'm not sure that even the screen writers... could do so.  Everything is so jumbled together.  It honestly feels like the movie starts being one kind of movie and then part way through gets bored and becomes another movie until it gets bored and starts a different movie.  This happens throughout the film.  I almost imagine that each writer submitted a script and director Michael Bay grabbed pages he like from each different script and stapled them together.


Atomic Blonde

I am grateful that didn't see anything this year that I found directly offensive to the faith.  To be sure there were some sacrilegious movies like The Little Hours which came out, but I didn't see it.  The closest I think I saw was a drunken brawl during a living Nativity in Daddy's Home 2, but that was more that was more at the expense of the quarrelsome family than at the faith.

But Atomic Blonde had a shockingly blasphemous line.  As I wrote in my review:
Also, the very first moment you meet McAvoy's Percival, he utters a completely vulgar and baffling blasphemy of the Virgin Mary.  I found myself lingering on that moment long after it had passed and it kept me from engaging in parts of the movie.  In fact, his entire character is a problem for the entire film.  


Atomic Blonde

This is a movie that has no moral center.  I cannot understand any of the ethical sides.  And this is not done in a way that challenges you like in the movie Reservoir Dogs.  Instead it is just a complete mess.  As I wrote in my review: I am not a fan of gratuitous nudity and there is plenty in the film from the beginning.  Theron first appears on screen emerging from an ice bath and then walks around nude.  I have no problem with a film capturing the physical beauty of a person.  Daniel Craig has that famous shot of him coming out of the water in Casino Royale.  But when you cross over into nudity, it goes from appreciation of physical beauty to objectification.  And there is a good deal of R-Rated female-female sex depicted which acts as a complete distraction.  I think the point was to make Broughton as sexually adventurous as 007, but nothing in Bond has ever been this graphic.



I stopped watching the first season of Supergirl about halfway through.  But I started up again when it came to the CW.

The reason I still watch is because when the show works it is a lot of fun.  When it digs deep into its comic book roots and seeks to tell epic sci-fi stories that are open to a world of imagination, Supergirl is fun.

But the show is bogged down in its constant virtue signaling.  Every week it cloyingly makes a ham-fisted attempt to teach us a message.  Whether or not I agree with that message is irrelevant.  When message-sending trumps storytelling, there is a real problem.

I've heard this third season is better, but I'm afraid for me it is too little too late.


Saturday Night Live

I still hold out hope that in 90 minutes of television there may still be at least 5 minutes of good humor.  But it takes a lot of endurance through horrible sketches to come across a gem like "Crucible Cast Party."

The show has two major problems in its current era.

1.  The Election of Donald Trump.  If you watch the skits before the election they were harsh but there was still a great deal that was funny.  But after the election, especially after that somber cold open (and it is not an exaggeration to say that it was the most somber cold opening since 9/11), with Kate McKinnon playing a heartbroken Hillary Clinton, something broke in the show.  Donald Trump is the president and he models incredibly unusual behavior, so there is fertile ground for jokes.  But the writers don't seem to be interested in jokes and are instead only interested in attacking someone they hate.  That's all well and good, but you need to at least make it funny.

2.  The Anti-Comedy skits.  Pete Davidson and Kyle Mooney seem to be hellbent on making the most un-funny comedy sketches on the show, particularly with their digital shorts.  I was never a big fan of Andy Sandberg's digital shorts, but you could tell he was working hard on trying to get you to laugh no matter how silly he was.  Davidson and Mooney present sketches that are so odd that they fail to do anything but make you say "What the hell was that?"  And that might be their point, but it makes for incredibly bad television.

No comments:

Post a Comment