The Golden Raspberry Awards!!!

Oh boy, here we go…

Ugghh…. As is typical, the nominations for the infamous Golden Raspberry Awards (Or “Razzies”) were annnounced and, just like last year, it’s my duty to review these movies along with the Oscar nominees (Which are going to be announced on Thursday), culminating in my predictions on the night of the awards. This year’s “Worst Picture” nominees are:

  • Left Behind. My choice for worst movie of 2014. Not looking forward to watching this one again (As if I’m looking forward to any of them. My God). It’s one of two movies hell-bent on pushing a hardcore Christian agenda on its viewers. Did it work? Ha-ha. No.
  • The Legend of Hercules: Brett Ratner’s movie was better. This movie will never live that down.
  • Saving Christmas: This is the other religious movie I was talking about, as well as Kirk Cameron’s latest stop in his trip down the toilet bowl of irrelevancy.
  •  Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesThe only one of the nominees that I’ve already reviewed already. Thank God that’s out of the way.
  • Transformers: Age of Extinction: Left Behind’s only real competition for worst movie of the year (Although I haven’t seen Saving Christmas yet, so maybe it has a shot).

So, these movies are the ones that are definitely getting reviews, on top of the Oscar movies. Maybe I’ll watch another one of the movies nominated for other categories. Probably not though. These movies blow, you guys.

Razzie Movie Review: The Lone Ranger

Have you ever wondered what would happen if they adapted one of the  Pirates of the Caribbean sequels into a western, and filled it with filler and subtle racism?

Well, look no further, my friends!

The Lone Ranger

Directed By: Gore Verbinski

Produced by: Jerry Bruckheimer and Gore Verbinski

Written by: Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio

Genres: Western, Action, Comedy

Starring: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, Ruth Wilson, Barry Pepper, James Badge Dale, Helena Bonham Carter

Other Actors: Oh, who gives a crap?

Razzie Nominations: Worst Prequel, Remake or Sequel, Worst Screenplay (Haythe, Elliott and Rossio) Worst Director (Verbinski) Worst Actor (Depp) Worst Picture

Plot: Dateline: 1933. The Great Depression is in full swing, King Kong premieres at the RKO Roxy Theater,  and Duck Soup inspires future comics everywhere.

Elsewhere: Nazis!

At a sideshow in San Francisco centered around the Wild West, a young boy meets an old Comanche man (Depp, in stupid looking old person makeup) , who is being kept by the sideshow as a living example of a “Noble Savage”, because racism. After mumbling, feeding the bird on his head birdseed, and generally acting like your typical Alzheimer’s case, the old man begins to recount his days as “Tonto”, the sidekick of the legendary outlaw, the Lone Ranger.

Flashback to 1869, in Colby, Texas. where mild-mannered, pacifist lawyer John Reid (Hammer) is returning home, via the still-uncompleted Transcontinental Railroad. However,   the train is also transporting the cartoonishly evil criminal, Butch Cavendish (Fichtner), who is being transported to his hanging, and a rogue Comanche  named Tonto, who is there for plot convenience, basically. Cavendish’s gang attacks the train and busts him out, derailing the train. Reid arrests Tonto, for reasons completely unknown to the audience, which, at this point, has become more than just a minor quibble with the plot. Should we, maybe, know if the guy who we’re supposed to be rooting for isn’t, like, a serial killer, or something? And do lawyers even have the authority to arrest people? I’m pretty damn sure they don’t.

Anyways, John’s Texas Ranger (The law enforcement agency, not the baseball team) brother, Dan (Dale) Ranger buddies together to hunt Cavendish. However, for some boneheaded reason, he decides to bring John with him. I repeat: He brings his timid, naive pacifist brother with him to apprehend a murderer who doesn’t think twice about murdering innocent civilians, as is demonstrated several times during the opening action sequences. Already, we can see that good writing may not have been the priority in making this movie.

Anyways, the posse is betrayed by one of their fellow Rangers, and are attacked by Cavendish and his gang. who murder all of the Rangers, including Dan, and John is shot and knocked unconscious. After Cavendish eats Dan’s heart, which is kind of dark for a movie that was marketed towards little kids.

“You know what these toys are missing? Implied cannibalism.”

Anyways, Tonto escapes from jail,though at no point do they mention how he did this. He buries the Rangers, but is stopped from burying John by a spirit horse, or whatever, who tells him that John is a “spirit walker,” or some such bullshit, who cannot be killed in battle. John wakes him up, and, after Tonto explains what happened, he (reluctantly) dons a domino mask and sets off to find Cavendish and avenge his brother as the Lone Ranger.

This plot, and the writing in general, while not quite as bad as the other Razzie movies I’ve reviewed, is riddled with problems. It’s obvious that the filmmakers were aiming for a feel similar to the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, complete with elaborate action sequences, same writers producers and director, sly humour and Johnny Depp being weird in makeup, but there are several problems with that approach, mainly that a) It’s rarely a good idea to copy your own work, and b) Nobody has actually looked forward to seeing a POTC movie since 2006.

Take the repeated instances in the film where Tonto dodges the question about how and/or why he was in jail in the first place. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but it seems to me that they’re trying to copy the (More popular and more funny) recurring joke about how Jack Sparrow escaped from a desert island (“Sea turtles, mate”). The problem is, it just feels like they’re reaching too hard for the whimsical humour that the Pirates movies provided.

To the film’s credit, though, when the characters shut the hell up and the action sequences get going, the movie becomes pretty damn enjoyable. The opening action sequences, the closing sequence, and, to a lesser extent, the action scenes sprinkled throughout the rest of the movie. I’d go so far as to say it ranks up there with some of the better scenes from the Pirates series. Problem is, the characters open their goddamn mouths way too often, and we’re left with a film that runs way too long, and where I lose interest in the stupid characters and the paper-thin writing about ten minutes after that initial action scene.

Acting: Oh, Jesus Christ. Please don’t make me do this.

To be fair, there were a few actors that showed a pulse. I gotta say, even though I didn’t enjoy his performance, William Fichtner looks like he’s having a grand ole’ time as the cartoonishly evil cannibal, Butch Cavendish. And I actually have a few good things to say about Armie Hammer, as the title character. He did the best with the material given to him, which is all that you could really ask for in this movie.

The rest of the actors, however, are all bad at best, and shit-tastic at worst. Tom Wilkinson was hugely disappointing, and completely uninteresting  as railroad tycoon, Latham Cole. Helena Bonham Carter, despite being in a ton of the promotional material, has about five minutes in the movie, at best. And she isn’t very good in those five minutes, either.

As for the star of the movie, Mr. Johnny Depp, he is the biggest disappointment of them all. It’s extremely obvious that he’s just rehashing his Jack Sparrow character in Pirates. And it’s really word that he’s phoning it in the whole damn time, considering that he learned the freakin’ Comanche language in order to play the part.

Speaking of Tonto, the movie doesn’t really do anything to clean up his unfavorable connotation with Aboriginal (Native American) stereotypes. Tonto is just fucking ridiculous, and his character is basically built around the premise that “Oh, those crazy Indians are so eccentric with their spirit talk, and meditation, and weird languages. He thinks the bird’s alive! That’s hilarious!”

It wouldn’t be so bad (Or, well, it might be tolerable) if Tonto was the bad-ass that the trailers promised, but he’s pretty much just a snarky jackass the whole time.

What Razzie Nominations Does it Deserve?

  • Worst Prequel, Remake, or Sequel: Well, it’s no Grown Ups 2, but it was still quite bad, so sure.
  • Worst Screenplay: Honestly, though I didn’t like the screenplay that much, I don’t think it can be ranked as one of the worst of the year, so no.
  • Worst Director (Verbinski): Sure
  • Worst Actor (Depp): Yes. It’s not like a nomination for this will do much to hurt his damn-near spotless resume, anyways.
  • Worst Picture: No. Compares to the other bad movies I’ve watched this year, this one was a stroke of genius. Nobody should mistake this for an Oscar endorsement, however.

Overall Score: 4.5/10 

Razzie Movie Review: After Earth

Disclaimer: Those who get offended by foul language may want to sit this review out.

After Earth

Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan

Produced by: Caleeb Pinkett, Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith, James Lassiter

Written by: Gary Whitta, M. Night Shyamalan (Story by Will Smith)

Genres: Science-Fiction, Action, Adventure

Starring: Jaden Smith, Will Smith

Other Actors: Sophie Okonedo, Zoe Kravitz

Razzie Nominations: Worst Picture, Worst Actor (Jaden Smith) Worst Supporting Actor (Will Smith) Worst Screen Combo (Jaden Smith and Will Smith) Worst Director (M. Night Shyamalan) Worst Screenplay (Gary Whitta, M. Night Shyamalan (Story by Will Smith))

Plot: It is the future, and, as you may have guessed from the title of the movie, human beings no longer live on planet Earth, having caused environmental cataclysms that rendered the planet uninhabitable for people. Attacked by aliens in their new home, Nova Prime, the humans are overwhelmed by the “Ursas”. Huge, blind monsters that find humans by smelling their fear. This is, improbably, the least stupid thing about this movie. Seriously? Couldn’t they just have nuked the motherfuckers into oblivion? I’m no science guy, but I’m pretty sure that nuclear missiles fear nobody.

Well, ALMOST nobody…

The human race is slaughtered like cattle until General Cypher Raige (Will Smith) develops the “ghosting” technique, which involves suppressing fear so that Ursas are blinded and easy to dispatch. Under the Fresh Prince’s leadership, the United Ranger Corps defeat the aliens and, years later, Cypher’s son Kitai (Jaden Smith) is training to become a Ranger himself.

When he fails to graduate from Ranger High, due to his highly emotional behavior, Cypher decides to bring his son with him on his last tour of duty before retirement, because a war zone is obviously the best place for a highly emotional teenager to be. This stupidity is compounded upon when we discover that there’s a live Ursa being taken to their destination for some reason that I was too uninterested and bored to look for. Which begs the question: In what fucked-up parallel universe is it a good idea to bring your idiotic, irrational teenage son to a dangerous planet, accompanied by a creature who’s sole purpose is to kill humans who display any emotion?

Anyways, long story short, the ship approaches an asteroid field, and the brilliant general decides to go straight through it instead of turning back. The ship crashes on the now-abandoned planet Earth, everybody except the Raiges are killed, the Ursa escapes, Cypher is crippled, and Kitai has to get to a mountain to shoot a distress flare. Seriously. My six year old cousin could write a better plot outline than this.

My main problem with this story isn’t the boneheaded plot-line, the bland special effects, the horrendous dialogue, or even the beyond-awful acting from the two leads (More on that later). My main beef is with the message that this movie is trying to get across to the audience: “Danger is real, but fear is a choice.” Cypher Raige explains, in a long-winded, boring bout of dialogue, that he believes that while danger is everywhere, “fear is an illusion created by the mind”.

No, it’s not, you fucking idiot.

What we refer to as “fear” is a perfectly normal emotion that warns us when something is uncomfortable or dangerous. One of the reasons that humans haven’t gone extinct is because we’ve had fear in the back of our minds, wondering if attempting to fly was such a good idea. When I go to El Salvador (FYI, I have Canadian and Salvadoran citizenship), I don’t just dismiss my reluctance to enter the slums in San Salvador as an illusion created by my asshole brain, blocking me from living life to the fullest. I listen to my fear, because I’d rather not get murdered for drug money by some 17-year old gang-banger with facial tattoos.

It is VERY easy to figure out who you may want to avoid in El Salvador.

Acting: You gotta give the Pinkett-Smith family props. They try so hard to try to convince moviegoers that the kids in that family (Especially Jaden Smith) are the most multi-talented little  bastards around. Problem is, they’re the only ones buying it. Setting aside Jaden’s (And his sister, Willow) halfhearted stabs at music careers, acting seems to be what they’re trying to jump into. Jaden appeared with his dad in 2006’s The Pursuit of Happyness, and appeared subsequently in The Day the Earth Stood Still and the Karate Kid remake. Was After Earth finally going to be the performance where Jaden established himself among Hollywood’s elite at the age of 14?

No. Of course not. Make no bones about it, Jaden Smith’s acting gave me nightmares. And not in a “Holy shit, I’m gonna be dreaming about Hannibal Lecter dismembering me for the next thirty years” sense. The first thing I did after finishing this movie was go upstairs and start praying to any deity who exists and/or who gave a shit and pray that this kid never touches the Star Wars franchise. I’m not even religious! I just hope for his sake that his star fades quietly so he doesn’t open himself up to any more embarrassments,  but it’s unlikely, considering the pressure his family seems to be putting on him.

Speaking of his dad, I hoped that his performance would be better than advertised, because I’ve always been a big Will Smith fan, but his performance just left me depressed and longing for the days of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. He’s just so damn wooden in this movie. Actually, scratch that, he looks depressed. Uninterested. Like he’s aware of all the nepotism in this project and he’s ashamed of it. Of course, it could just be that he knows that the movie was a piece of shit, but I like to think that he knows he made a mistake and can learn from it.

Although I could be wrong.

What Razzie Nominations Does It Deserve? 

  • Worst Screenplay: I dunno if it deserves to “win” this award, but the nomination makes sense, I guess.
  • Worst Director (Shyamalan): Did I seriously forget to lay into M. Night in my rants? Well the direction (Directing?) couldn’t have been less interesting in this movie, so yeah.
  • Worst Screen Combo (Smith and Smith): Actually, no, I don’t think so, but only because I don’t really think they were on-screen together enough to be considered a “combo”.
  • Worst Supporting Actor (Will Smith): He deserves the nod, for sure. Not the win, though.
  •  Worst Actor (Jaden Smith): Yep.
  • Worst Picture: Fo’ sho’. (Remind me to never say that again.)

Overall Score: 2.5/10