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In a year that brought us some of many incredibly good films, we were also given more than a few that out and out sucked slough water. What’s worse, a few of them even made pretty good money.
While I’m still whittling away my favorites for 2015, here’s a list of the movies that killed many hours of my life without even the hope for recompense. At least I got to read on the bus to and from the theaters…
15. The Forger (Lionsgate) – an ex-con art forger is manipulated into doing one more job to make sure he stays out of jail to be with his dying son. John Travolta must have fallen on hard times to do this lifeless, by-the-numbers heist movie – or he owed someone one helluva big favor.
14. Transporter Refueled (Europacorp USA) – turns out that Ed Skrein isn’t the second coming of Jason Statham. Huh.
13. Kidnapping Mr. Heineken (Alchemy) – based on real events, this retelling of the kidnapping of the heir to the Heineken fortune just kind of lies there – despite Anthony Hopkins’ best efforts to bring it to life.
12. Heist (Lionsgate Premiere) –The inside man for a heist is drafted to coordinate the heist and needs the money for his sick daughter. The heist goes wrong due to a member of the crew’s cowardice. Violence erupts. What a colossal waste of time for Robert DeNiro, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Gina Carano. At least they got paid.
11. Vacation (Warner Bros.) – the sequel nobody wanted. Rusty Griswold and his family head for Wally World, retracing the journey his family took when he was a kid. Ed Helms and Christina Applegate try, but the script is awful and the direction lacks same. They should have taken a staycation.
10. Our Brand is Crisis (Warner Bros.) – pointed political satire/farce that’s slow, uninvolving and lazy. Based on the real events of a campaign to re-elect a corrupt politician to the presidency of Chile, Our Brand is Crisis has exactly one redeeming feature – the performance of Zoe Kazan as a sullen investigative wiz called Leblanc. Other than that, it’s just tired and wit-free.
9. She’s Funny That Way (Lionsgate Premiere) – a love triangle on the set of a playwright’s new work – between his wife, her ex-lover and the prostitute-turned-actress who has been cast in the lead… Sounds like a Peter Bogdanovich movie which should be good. Except the part where it’s unfunny, badly paced and flat. Even Imogen Poots’ energy can’t revive it. No more, Peter. Please.
8. Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (Paramount Pictures) – the trailer for this one was great fun. The movie, not so much. It can’t seem to make up its mind whether it’s a parody, satire or genuine. As a result the humor is lame, the zombies are just another batch of undead walkers, and the heroes curiously lifeless.
7. Hot Pursuit (Warner Bros.) – this female take on Midnight Run found a drug lord’s wife and a by-the-book-to-the-point-of-prissiness cop on the run from crooked cops. It failed by not allowing either of its stars – Sofia Vergara and Reese Witherspoon – to really go for it. Also by having a script that was so predictable that we knew where it was going before the characters did.
6. Extraction (Lionsgate Premiere) – Bruce Willis and Kellan Lutz play CIA personnel (only dad is an actual agent) and when dad is kidnapped, sonny boy ignores his bosses and sets out to rescue him. Gina Carano has to both kick a$$ and be a damsel in distress for Extraction to work. That pretty much says it all.
5. Mortdecai (Lionsgate) – if anyone had told, back in January when I saw this mess, that Mortdecai wouldn’t be the worst movie I’d see in 2015, I’d have laughed at them. That’s how mind-numbingly bad it is. Still, it can’t hold a candle to four films.
4. The Boy Next Door (Universal Pictures) – high school teacher Jennifer Lopez is seduced by boy next door Ryan Guzman who then starts killing anyone who might prevent him from stalking her further. This film made a ton of money. For shame!
3. The Gallows (Warner Bros.) – a high school play that never finished its one performance when the male lead was accidentally hung on stage is being remounted by the school’s drama department years later. Will history repeat itself? Well, duh! Script, performance and direction are all at a high school drama club level. It’s 81-minute running time seemed like hours. Instead of watching this, take a nap – or you’ll be taking one because of it.
2. Victor Frankenstein (20th Century Fox) – this was supposed to be the Frankenstein story from Igor’s point of view. Instead, it’s the story of an inventor who is at the manic end of bipolar disorder 24/7, and his attempts to create new life from bits of dead animals and people. Igor, who is allegedly as bright as Victor, remains relegated to second fiddle. The script seems to be cobbled together from bits of others but no amount electricity will ever make it live.
1. Fantastic Four (20th Century Fox) – directed by Josh Trank of Chronicle fame, Fantastic Four tried the heavy duty drama approach to superheroics and fell harder than Johnny Storm hitting a monsoon at 1500 feet. Virtually no tonal variation; ponderous direction; incredibly average editing (the film’s best feature); a score that would make monotonous seem brilliant; performances that were leaden and effects that might have been spectacular if there’d been enough light to actually see most of them – this film made Tim Story’s two tries at the FF seem like Joss Whedon’s The Avengers.