5. Kingsman: The Secret Service
Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
Written by: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn
Starring: Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong, Taron Egerton, Michael Caine, Sophie Cookson
Kingsman: The Secret Service kicked off 2015 with some of the most unwarranted hype of any film to be released last year. Not only was it somewhat well-received critically, but it also managed to wrack up more money at the box office than most films could ever dream of. So why did I hate it? Well, Matthew Vaughn’s vision here leads to one of the most mean-spirited, cynical, and unfunny films I saw all year, and I knew it almost from the get-go. Kingsman pretends to be a hilarious parody of famous spy films in the vein of James Bond, the Bourne franchise, and even Austin Powers, but doesn’t feature even an ounce of the charm those movies hold. Instead it wastes its incredibly talented English cast on one of the most conflicted and confused scripts I’ve ever seen adapted to the screen, and becomes a stain of the fairly good reputation of writer-director Matthew Vaughn. Kingsman may be an entertaining watch at first, but you’ll quickly see that it’s only skin deep. There’s nothing more to the film than some cheap gags, jokes about anal sex, and mean-spirited edge-lord comedy that would make even the proudest 4chan users blush. I can’t believe the praise that this thing received, what am I missing?
4. Crimson Peak
Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Written by: Guillermo del Toro, Matthew Robbins
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hunnam, Jim Beaver
Oh Guillermo del Toro, how far you’ve fallen. The once great and visionary Mexican filmmaker directed some of the most interesting horror/fantasy works of the last decade, including 2001’s The Devil’s Backbone, and 2006’s Pan’s Labyrinth. It’s with a heavy heart that I have put Crimson Peak on this list, despite being incredibly beautiful in its photography and competent direction from del Toro. Much like the prettiest girl at the prom, Crimson Peak’s beauty is only skin deep, and the longer it lingers, the more it becomes evident that it’s all it has to offer. del Toro’s script for the film is quite possibly the worst aspect of it, blending together classic Gothic literature and films like Hitchcock’s Rebecca, and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, but somehow dropping the ball and being far less interesting than either of those works.. Crimson Peak attempts to be a profound story of love and deceit, using ghosts as an incredibly obvious and eye-roll inducing metaphor. The film thinks it’s far more clever than it actually is, and ends up becoming unintentionally hilarious in its last act. Characters chasing each other around a decrepit old mansion, frail young women falling three stories and surviving, awkward ghost encounters, and Charlie Hunnam trying his damnedest to be charming makes Crimson Peak almost screwball comedy worthy. Crimson Peak is a very highly polished turd, but a turd nonetheless. It might be wise to revise the screenplay a couple hundred times for your next film, Guillermo. But don’t worry, I still believe in you.
Side note: Can we stop trying to make Charlie Hunnam happen? He’s not going to happen!
3. Jurassic World
Directed by: Colin Trevorrow
Written by: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Omar Sy, B.D. Wong, Irrfan Khan
Like everybody else this past year, I was overcome with excitement about the looming sequel to the modern Spielberg classic, Jurassic Park. When it finally released, it was met with millions of equally excited patrons ready to bask in the nostalgia of dinosaurs and the incredible world of Jurassic Park. Except what they got was a bizarre, bloated, action film that was almost a parody of the three films that came before it. Box office sensation Chris Pratt comes off as completely unlikable throughout, and the concept of training raptors to do the bidding of park zookeepers just felt completely silly and unnecessary. Director Colin Trevorrow’s vision for Jurassic World is incredibly muddled and confused throughout, never quite deciding on whether it wants to be a fun action-adventure film, or an absurd parody of itself. The script is a perfect example of having too many cooks in the kitchen, as it was re-written multiple times over production. What results feels like four conflicting voices all trying to make Jurassic World their own film, and instead creating a horrendous disaster of a screenplay. The cast of characters are all almost completely void of charisma and end up being unlikable, especially the aunt character of Bryce Dallas Howard. On top of empty and uninspired performances, we are treated to two of the most embarrassingly bad and hammy supporting performances of 2015 from actors Vincent D’Onofrio and B.D. Wong. Jurassic World is a film that seemed to have so much going for it, and in the end had no idea what it wanted to be. It made a great deal of money and in the process secured the future of many of its producers, but it sure as hell won’t live in the memories of millions the same way 1993’s Jurassic Park did. I can’t wait to see the train wreck of a film Star Wars: Episode IX could be with Trevorrow behind the camera.
2. Eli Roth Double Feature: Knock, Knock & The Green Inferno
Directed by: Eli Roth
Written by: Eli Roth, Guillermo Amoedo, Nicolas Lopez (Knock, Knock) | Guillermo Amoedo, Eli Roth (The Green Inferno)
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Lorenza Izzo, Ana de Armas (Knock, Knock) | Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy, Daryl Sabara, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Sky Ferreira (The Green Inferno)
Eli Roth was once a name being touted as the next innovative voice in the horror genre. With fun splatter films like Cabin Fever and Hostel under his belt, young Roth was quickly brought into a sort of mentor relationship with the veteran Quentin Tarantino. I want to know what has happened in the last decade or so, because this version of Roth isn’t nearly on the same level as he once was. Although his ideas were never completely unique or refreshing, there was an undeniable charm about his works. His two releases in 2015, Knock, Knock and The Green Inferno feature none of that charm, and instead resemble the work of a hack who is years past his prime. Knock, Knock is a look at what happens when you lie to your spouse, let attractive strangers into your house, and spin a complex web of deceit. The Green Inferno tells the story of environmental activists who crash land near a village of cannibals, risking their lives and the lives of those around them to escape at any cost. Both of those stories sound fairly interesting and full of potential, right? I certainly thought so too, so you can imagine my disappointment when not one, but both films crashed and burned almost immediately after take off. Both films feature some of the worst lead performances I’ve seen in modern horror films, especially those of Keannu Reeves and Lorenza Izzo, the current spouse of director Eli Roth. Why he refuses to branch out of his comfort zone and cast charming, talented young actors and search for a competent screenwriter, I’ll never know. It’s clear that the skills are there in the hands of Eli Roth, but he doesn’t seem to have any idea what to do with them. I really have no further comments about either film, as both are almost completely forgettable experiences in every single way. These aren’t simple misfires, but rather the last gasps from a filmmaker a decade past his prime, trying desperately to remain relevant in the breakneck world of American film-making. Better luck next time, Eli Roth.
1. The Ridiculous 6
Directed by: Frank Coraci
Written by: Tim Herlihy, Adam Sandler
Starring: Adam Sandler, Julia Jones, Terry Crews, Jorge Garcia, Taylor Lautner, Rob Schneider, Luke Wilson, Nick Nolte, Will Forte, Nick Swardson, Steve Zahn
The Ridiculous 6 and Netflix’s entire model of “throw something against the wall and see what sticks” for their original content lineup is exactly why I can’t possibly endorse the current product. Their exclusive deal with Adam Sandler is looking like a complete bust just one film in, hopefully it can only go up from here. Those defending Sandler’s latest foray into the world of absurdest comedy are delusional, because they clearly haven’t seen the same piece of trash I watched for two hours (!!!). “It wasn’t meant to be taken seriously, it was just a stupid movie made by a bunch of actors have fun!” is the laziest way to praise a horrible film, and I would hope that most people hearing those words would think twice about the person repeating them. The Ridiculous 6 is trash in its purest form. It’s bloated run-time, embarrassing performances, and “satirical” screenplay all make notoriously bad cult films like The Room and Troll 2 look like okay films in comparison. I don’t understand the thought behind Netflix producing and financing the film, especially if their whole business strategy is keeping users around by providing them with new and exciting original content. Who in their right mind would ever watch The Ridiculous 6 a second time, let alone leave the film feeling proud to be a subscribing or looking forward to the next Sandler romp? What’s most tragic about the film is that Adam Sandler is a talented performer and writer, and it’s clear that he’s being surrounded by some of the laziest yes men in the business. Instead of being inspired to create content on the level of his pretty good comedies of the 1990’s, and give performances on the level of Punch-Drunk Love or Reign Over Me, he’s taking his friends on vacation to make films that would embarrass even Uwe Boll. Props to Taylor Lautner for giving the most insensitive performance of 2015, by the way. I’m sure he’s going to be proud of that one in a decade when all of that sweet, sweet Twilight Saga money runs dry. Both Netflix and Adam Sandler should be ashamed of themselves for producing this train wreck, they’re both capable of creating such higher quality output. Avoid this thing at any cost.