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Zero star reviews
- I could start this review by stating that Dumb and Dumberer lives up to its name, or by calling it stupid, moronic, and idiotic, but I believe that approach is a trap, since a movie like this might relish being the object of such bland invectives. Instead, let me try a few that can't possibly be misconstrued as twisted praise: unfunny, boring, torturous, and unwatchable. ... [N]o movie could be more aptly compared to raw sewage than this film - Directed By Troy Miller.
- I have to report that this motion picture is arguably the worst piece of cinematic crap I have ever experienced theatrically. Hyperbole, you wonder? I looked through my list of zero-star movies and couldn't find one entry (except the immortal Zombie vs. Mardi Gras, which was a straight-to-video release) that ranked as more difficult to endure. Words like abomination and travesty don't do this movie justice. Sitting through Freddy Got Fingered was one of the most depressing experiences in my 10 years of reviewing films. It's not even enjoyable on a campy level. It's just bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad - Directed By Tom Green.
- Michael made his debut in John Carpenter's 1978 horror classic, Halloween, possibly the best scare movie to come along in the last twenty-five years. ... [W]ith the release of the sixth (and hopefully final) movie to bear the Halloween moniker, we see how far the mighty have fallen. ... In the final analysis, The Curse of Michael Myers is a horrific motion picture — just not in the way the film makers intended - Directed By Joe Chappelle.
- It's mind-boggling to consider that movies this bad are actually committed to film. The poor quality of The Pest in almost every category — humor, intelligence, creativity, and just plain entertainment value — ranks it somewhere between a bad infomercial and a local cable newscast. Rarely do I consider the act of seeing a movie to be a chore, but this kind of experience is the exception - Directed By Paul Miller.
- There's good news and bad news about 2 Fast 2 Furious, the moronic follow-up to The Fast and the Furious and a contender for the worst movie of 2003. The good news is that it's better, albeit marginally, than Freddy Got Fingered. The bad news is that it's 15 minutes longer.
- The only thing as bad as bad comedy is bad action. Bad Boys II has plenty of both. In fact, those two things are all it has, unless you count the small helping of bad drama. When it comes to this movie, the word "bad" initially seems highly appropriate. But Bad Boys II isn't just bad — it's a catastrophic violation of every aspect of cinema that I as a film critic hold dear. It seems to have been constructed with terms like "unwatchable" and "godawful" as its slogans. There are motion picture failures every year — the resumes of Hollywood players are littered with them. But, when something this big — a would-be blockbuster with recognizable names in the cast and crew — collapses in such a spectacular fashion, it's worth taking note. Think of how many starving children could have been fed with the money that was poured into [director] Michael Bay's latest sinkhole.
- When a movie is this bad, it's hard to adequately describe its awfulness in words. The temptation exists to write something along the lines of: "Something this horrible has to be seen to be believed." Of course, that kind of advice would lead to e-mail death threats and other assorted nasty comments from those who spend money on The Devil's Rejects. ... Aside from its poor production values, horrendous acting, and ignoble morality, The Devil's Rejects isn't engaging cinema. Even if the simple act of sitting in a movie theater watching people get hacked up for 90 minutes doesn't bother you, the dullness and repetition is likely to.
- In 1990, the MPAA introduced the NC-17 rating to provide an outlet for legitimate adult fare — non-pornographic motion pictures with content deemed too strong for the under-17 crowd. The first movie released with an NC-17 was Henry & June, whose financial failure was widely blamed on the new rating. After that, all potentially-lucrative films receiving an NC-17 made the cuts required by the MPAA to earn an R. Now, in 1995, there's Showgirls, the most significant test of the NC-17's commercial viability to date. Helmed by Paul Verhoeven (Total Recall, Basic Instinct) and written by Joe Eszterhas (Jagged Edge, Basic Instinct), this movie is going into wide release with the adult rating. Too bad it's one of the worst films of the year.
- Those who delight in bad movies and enjoy producing their own unfilmed versions of Mystery Science Theater 3000 may gain a measure of semi-masochistic enjoyment out of Van Helsing. There are quite a few unintentionally funny moments, although the overall experience was too intensely painful for me to be able to advocate it as being "so bad, it's good."
- I can't figure out who might appreciate this movie. Those who are expecting to sit back, stop thinking, and watch cool wall-to-wall battles are going to be disappointed. Those who yearn for a movie to recapture the long-lost horror and glory of the original creatures are going to be borderline suicidal. ... Simply put, [Alien vs. Predator: Requiem] is trash.
- As absurd as it might sound, there's a strange synergy between very bad movies and very good ones. That's because films on either extreme of the quality scale have the ability to burrow deep into the subconscious, with unpredictable and occasionally remarkable results. Great works of art can cause euphoria, touch a deep emotional chord, or, in rare cases, affect fundamental changes in a person's outlook on life. Conversely, viewing unwatchable tripe can be damaging, possibly resulting in psychotic episodes, an appreciation of '70s fashion, or leaping to the defense of Pauly Shore. There's something almost profound about enduring a horrifically inept piece of cinema, and Coyote Ugly, living up to every letter in its name, offers the opportunity for such an experience.
- Although I am not averse to wasting a few hours playing computer games, I have never tried my hand at Doom. Judging by sales figures and testimonials, playing the game has to be an infinitely preferable experience to watching this pathetic excuse for a movie.
- Of all the indignities to have been visited upon Dracula during the past century (including being the "inspiration" for a cereal and a Sesame Street character, and being lampooned by Mel Brooks), none is more unsettling than what has happened to the world's most famous vampire in Dracula 2000. Dimension Films, the exploitation division of Miramax, decided that, with their two horror franchises currently on hold (the Scream and Halloween films), they would turn their attention in another direction. So they sunk their greedy fangs into the most venerable monster they could find and sucked him dry.
- If you thought it was impossible for a film to contain less effective comedy than Date Movie, here's evidence to the contrary.
- Legally Blonde 2 should never have been made. It is a cinematic abomination — a source of embarrassment for everyone involved. There have been worse films this year, but none has been marketed as this fun-loving and upbeat. Worthwhile moments are few and far between, and Reese Witherspoon's incandescent charm, which was one of the original Legally Blonde's saving graces, is so bright that it creates a glare. There's such a thing as being too perky.
- Norbit operates on the principle that vulgarity is automatically funny. Crassness doesn't need a joke attached because it is (in and of itself) the height of hilarity.
- The Pink Panther is supposed to use humor to uplift. Instead, I departed this movie feeling depressed. Lifeless comedies can suck the energy out of a viewer, especially when they sully the image of an cinematic icon.
One-and-a-half star reviews
- The term "godawful" should be used sparingly in connection with motion pictures. With Angels & Demons, however, it seems oddly appropriate. Not only does this prequel-turned-sequel to The Da Vinci Code make its predecessor seem like a masterwork of pacing and plotting, but it may represent a nadir for director Ron Howard and is probably the worst instance of acting from star Tom Hanks since back in the days when he was struggling out from under the shadow of Bosom Buddies.
- Godzilla is the ultimate culmination of the "who cares about plot" summer movie. A loose remake of the 1954 "classic" Japanese monster movie, Godzilla, King of the Monsters (which is itself pretty thin in the story department), Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin's big-budget lizard-stomps-Manhattan disaster flick has been written with the brain dead in mind. The script isn't just "dumbed down," it's lobotomized. Godzilla lives and dies on special effects alone.
- Despite his reputation as one of America's foremost "serious" filmmakers, Oliver Stone's name under the "director" caption does not guarantee a good movie. I learned that lesson while enduring the seemingly-endless tedium of The Doors, and was reminded of it during some of the long, drawn-out portions of JFK. However, nothing that Stone has directed — or misdirected — prepared me for the grotesque mess that is Natural Born Killers.
- Aside from a couple of signature flourishes, there's nothing to mark Paycheck as the product of acclaimed action director John Woo. In fact, there's little about this movie that makes it worth anyone's time and money. With a script that waffles between being hilariously absurd and insultingly stupid, and action scenes that won't cause anyone's pulse to skip a beat, Paycheck is less appealing than a lump of coal in a Christmas stocking.
- It's not hard to understand why an accomplished director like Gus Van Sant (whose most recent success, Good Will Hunting, gave him mainstream clout) would be interested in making this film. The lure of an exact remake presents a tremendous challenge. Unfortunately, it was undoubtedly a lot more stimulating for Van Sant and his crew to make Psycho than it is for an audience to watch it. [C]uriosity is going to be one of the primary reasons why people pay money to see this movie; boredom will be the predominant result.
- If there was ever an action movie that didn't warrant a sequel, it's Speed. However, the film grossed enough money to be numbered among the big summer hits of 1994, and the unfortunate result is this film, which reunites director Jan de Bont with leading lady Sandra Bullock, while leaving Keanu Reeves somewhere safe and dry, "working on his music" with his band, Dogstar. Considering the dubious quality of the final product, this may be the wisest decision of the young actor's career. Speed 2 can be numbered among the worst second chapters ever made.
- Transformers is so belabored that it makes Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End seem like a masterpiece of pacing. It makes that "classic" midsummer alien invasion movie, Independence Day, seem like a template for inventive plotting and solid character development. Even by Michael Bay standards, this movie is vapid. Yes, there are plenty of explosions, but those are a dime-a-dozen these days; even Discovery Channel's Mythbusters has them. Transformers isn't clean, big-budget fun; it's clean, big-budget tedium. For Transformers fans, I suppose this is a dream motion picture. For everyone else, it's a nightmare.
- Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen will make a ton of money, Michael Bay will be lauded as the greatest director of our generation, and the accountants at Paramount will have their second collective orgasm in as many months. As for me, I will try desperately not to weep — not so much for what the success of a movie like this means to motion pictures, but for the simple fact that I'm going to have to do this all over again in two or three years for Transformers 3.
- In answer to the question posed by the title, I can't in all honesty say, "This movie." But that's only because there are far too many Freddy Got Fingereds and Say It Isn't Sos out there. The fact that What's the Worst That Could Happen? is better than these movies should in no way be misconstrued as even a backhanded compliment. It's like comparing stale, moldy, rancid bread with soggy, stale, moldy, rancid bread. Both are equally probable to turn one's stomach, and, if ingested, likely to require some time spent kneeling in front of a toilet bowl.
Two star reviews
- The dialogue is laughably cheesy throughout, but perhaps that's part of Basic Instinct's appeal. In fact, there are times when the film comes close to achieving a status where it's so bad it becomes entertaining. ... If you're looking for an intelligent thriller with real characters, Basic Instinct will seem like a fraud. If, on the other hand, you don't care whether the story makes sense and all you're in search of are cheap thrills and naked bodies, the movie delivers. Then again, so does a lot of Cinemax's late night programming.
- With Batman & Robin, the fourth entry in the recent Batman movie series, the profitable franchise appears poised to take a nosedive. This film, which places yet another actor in the batsuit, has all the necessary hallmarks of a sorry sequel — pointless, plodding plotting; asinine action; clueless, comatose characterization; and dumb dialogue. ... Batman & Robin moves at a dizzying pace, yet goes absolutely nowhere.
- If you're in the mood for something that's completely visceral and mindless (really mindless — the plot is a joke, filled with contrivances and coincidences), this movie will fit the bill. Parts of it are excruciatingly bad, but there are numerous examples of well-directed action that, on balance, compensate for the worst gaffes. This is a poor man's Die Hard. It has the explosions, gunplay, and spectacular stunts, but little of the wit and intelligence. In other words, it's a typical summer action flick.
- Imagine, if you will, the dispiriting experience of listening to an awful cover of one of your favorite songs. That's how I felt sitting through Die Another Day, the 20th official outing for [James Bond]. This is a train wreck of an action film ... What's missing from this movie? Any real sense that we're watching 007 rather than a generic spy in a tuxedo.
- It's useless to advise people not to see Independence Day, so I'll issue a warning instead: curb your enthusiasm and don't expect much. With suitably low expectations, you're likely not to be too disappointed, unless you make the mistake of actually thinking about what's taking place on-screen while it's going on. The last half hour is built on a series of contrivances and implausibilities that even a six-year old could find serious flaw with, so be prepared to use the "brain off" switch. But Independence Day isn't about logic and intelligence. It's about space battles, mass destruction, and a laughably "rousing" speech by the President. This is a spectacle, pure and simple. Unfortunately, because the filmmakers mistakenly tried to inject a load of weak dramatic elements, Independence Day turns out to be overlong, overblown, and overdone. For alien invasions this summer, give me The Arrival instead.
- It's really two movies crammed into one, the first of which is a lot better than the second. Spider-Man 3 starts out strong but before it finishes, many viewers will desperately wish it had called it quits an hour earlier.
Two-and-a-half star reviews
- Looking back at Batman from a distance — after all the hype has dried up and the franchise has at least temporarily been abandoned — it's easy to see the movie for what it is: a moderately diverting motion picture that should have been shorter and better paced. There are a lot of things wrong with Batman, but it still makes for decent entertainment in the fine tradition of the typical low-intelligence summer movie. The best thing that can be said about Batman is that it led to Batman Returns, which was a far superior effort.
- Perhaps a better title for The Da Vinci Code might be Much Ado About Nothing. When you boil away the hype and hysteria, all that remains is a pedestrian murder mystery that isn't sufficiently challenging or scandalous to raise anyone's hackles. It's preposterous, overlong, and saddled with a sloppy denouement that defines the term "anti-climax." The film's two big "surprises" are telegraphed early, and the ease with which they can be guessed (using the "conservation of characters" process) leeches the movie of a large measure of its suspense. Individual scenes are entertaining in their own right, but the production as a whole is a lumbering mess.
- After the second Die Hard, Bruce Willis stated he would never do another. He should have stayed firm in his resolve. If quality is any indication (and it may be, with all the available blockbusters), box office returns will be disappointing this time around and, if nothing else, that will do to John McClane what dozens of assorted bad guys couldn't manage: kill him.
- Live Free or Die Hard may work better for an audience that doesn't know much about the series is than it will for Die Hard die hards, who will be wondering who that impersonator is and what he did with the real John McClane. The original Die Hard came out of nowhere to blitz the 1988 summer box office. The fourth installment arrives with a weight of expectations that Atlas would have trouble shouldering and, when the dust settles in September, it's unlikely that Live Free or Die Hard will be one of this year's big success stories.
- The first star vehicle of the summer of 1996 is also the first major disappointment of the season. Mission: Impossible, the big-screen resurrection of the popular late-'60s/early-'70s series, fails to generate much in the way of excitement or intrigue. This globetrotting adventure looks like an opportunity for Tom Cruise to play James Bond — a role he is totally unsuited for. The writing for last year's 007 return, GoldenEye, isn't a lot better than that for Mission: Impossible, but, as an action hero, Pierce Brosnan is considerably more debonair and charismatic than Cruise.
- Parodies are hard to do well, as is shown by the mediocrity of so many recent attempts. No matter how ripe a genre is for satirizing, unless you know how to do it, there are no guarantees.
Three star reviews
- The biggest alien invasion picture of the summer of 1996 is Independence Day. But it's not the first. The Arrival, with a significantly lower budget than Fox's July 3 release, has that distinction, and, while this particular film doesn't boast any radical or surprising ideas, it combines numerous familiar plot elements into a suspenseful, entertaining whole. Best of all, perhaps, is the realization that some thought went into writer/director David Twohy's script. This is not a dumb movie; in fact, with its heavy reliance upon real science, it's startlingly credible.
- Like everything else, James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) has had to change for the nineties. The venerable 007, coming off a long hiatus, has taken on his sixth face (the other five being Sean Connery, David Niven, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, and Timothy Dalton), changed his mode of transport from an Aston Martin to a BMW, and now answers to a female "M" (played dryly by Judi Dench). Bond's attitudes towards women have been modified — although not greatly. Also, there's more action in GoldenEye than in previous 007 entries — enough to keep a ninety-minute film moving at a frantic pace. Unfortunately, this movie isn't ninety-minutes long — it's one-hundred thirty, which means that fully one-quarter of GoldenEye is momentum-killing padding.
- There's an old saying that states something about leaving the best for last. [Writer/producer] George Lucas certainly didn't follow that adage when crafting the original Star Wars trilogy. Return of the Jedi, the final installment of the series, is easily the least innovative and most hokey of the three films. In fact, most of the enjoyment derived from this motion picture comes from the simple act of getting together with old friends and enemies one more time. If Luke, Han, Leia, and Vader were replaced by nameless, faceless characters, Return of the Jedi wouldn't be a whole lot more interesting than Independence Day.
Three-and-a-half star reviews
- [Director Christopher] Nolan has not only crafted the best Batman movie, but arguably the second-best motion picture superhero narrative (topped only by the linked duo of Superman and Superman II). For those who thought Spider-Man and X-Men had a lot to offer, wait till you see where this film goes. ... Batman Begins is a strong re-start to a franchise that deserves better than it has often been accorded.
- Blade Runner is a rare science fiction movie so full of material that pages can be written about it without scratching the surface. A review like this can provide little more than an overview. A detailed exploration of the movie, its style, and its mysteries requires dedication that only someone immersed in Blade Runner lore can provide.
- My hope is that Casino Royale has not only re-invented James Bond, but made him relevant for the 21st century. The target audience has shifted. Although there's nothing in Casino Royale that will exclude teenagers, this 007 is aimed squarely at adults. The November release date is also perfect — the film is almost too dark and serious for the kind of lighthearted, mindless fun we associate with summer blockbusters. In recent years, I have come to each new James Bond movie with a series of ingrained expectations. For the most part, the Brosnan films met them across the board. Casino Royale defies many of them, and I couldn't be happier.
- It's rare that the sequel to a good movie lives up to expectations. Such is the case with Die Hard 2, the somewhat-muddled but still entertaining return of Bruce Willis' John McClane. Fortunately, the original Die Hard was good enough that there's room for the second installment to be enjoyable while still not matching the pace or possessing the flair of its predecessor.
- As vampire movies go, few are more memorable than Nosferatu, which is not only the first screen version of Dracula, but, in some ways, remains the best. Unlike many of his predecessors who dabbled in the vampire genre, Murnau was a craftsman, and the care he lavished upon this production is evident in each shot and every scene. Alongside The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, few motion pictures have had a more profound impact upon an entire genre than Nosferatu has had upon the legion of horror movies that trailed in its wake.
- Today, Psycho still holds up extraordinarily well (another reason why a remake seems pointless). With the exception of Halloween, no latter-day horror/thriller has been capable of generating as many goosebumps. The black-and-white photography is perfect for the film's tone and mood — the starkness of color would have blurred the nightmarish quality. The painstaking care with which [director Alfred] Hitchcock composed every scene is evident in the quality of the final product.
- The Phantom Menace is not a masterpiece, but it's an example of how imagination, craftsmanship, and technological bravura can fashion superior entertainment out of something that is far from flawless.
- Attack of the Clones displays some similarities to The Empire Strikes Back, but, overall, it is not as effective a piece of cinema (although the 2002 era special effects make it far more pleasing to the eye). Both films contain romantic subplots and are darker in tone than their predecessors. Both develop a number of unresolved plot elements. And both end on a note that incorporates hope with ambiguity. There is, however, one major difference. The Empire Strikes Back includes a shocking revelation. Nothing of that sort is present in Attack of the Clones. In terms of its plotting, this film is relatively straightforward. There's nothing wrong with that — in fact, it works. In a time when, more often than not, sequels disappoint, it's refreshing to uncover something this high-profile that fulfils the promise of its name and adds another title to a storied legacy.
- Regardless of how Revenge of the Sith is received at the box office, it represents the conclusion to an unparalleled cinematic achievement. Finally, after 28 long years of waiting that were only occasionally punctuated by the appearance of new story fragments, Lucas has ended with an exclamation point. The tale of a galaxy long ago and far away is complete. Only now can we truly step back and admire the full tapestry that it has taken George Lucas and his ILM wizards nearly three decades to weave.
- The potential evidenced by [director James] Cameron in The Terminator — the ability to sustain suspense, meld action with story, and provide compelling characters despite the limitations of the actors portraying them — would be fully realized in two future features, Aliens and Terminator 2. This movie, however, is in some ways more impressive than either of those because of what the filmmaker was capable of achieving with a limited budget and without significant studio backing. The themes and ideas presented in The Terminator hold up well today, even though we have moved into the post-Cold War era and only the most nihilistic individuals could see 2029 in such bleak terms. It's a rousing science fiction story that proves an on-screen adrenaline rush need not short-circuit the brain.
- Although The Terminator is arguably the more visionary of the first two films, [Terminator 2] is the more visually and viscerally satisfying. It's an exhausting experience and, even 18 years after its release (as I write this review), few films have matched it within the science fiction genre for sheer white-knuckle exhilaration.
Four star reviews
- Consequences. In real life, these ramifications emanate from every action like ripples from a stone thrown into a pond. Often in movies, especially those that feature characters who don't play by the rules, such penalties are suspended. However, in Christopher Nolan's Batman universe, decisions and actions have consequences. The Dark Knight, arguably the moodiest and most adult superhero motion picture ever to reach the screen, illustrates this lesson in ways that are startling and painful. This is a tough, uncompromising motion picture — one that defies the common notions of what is expected from a "superhero" film. While there are plenty of action sequences and instances of derring-do, The Dark Knight's subtext has a tragic underpinning that would intrigue Shakespeare or the Greeks. It's about power and impotence, sanity and madness, image and reality, selfishness and sacrifice, and — yes — consequences.
- Die Hard represents the class of modern action pictures and the standard by which they must be judged. Few films falling into the "mindless entertainment" genre have as much going for them as this movie. Not only is it a thrill-a-minute ride, but it has one of the best film villains in recent memory, a hero everyone can relate to, dialogue that crackles with wit, and a lot of very impressive pyrotechnics.
- On those rare occasions when a great motion picture reaches multiplexes, the film critic must add another aspect to his or her job description: that of cheerleader. It is incumbent upon those of us who routinely dissect movies to applaud the arrival of something like Minority Report. Writing a review isn't enough — we have to get out there and actively stump for the movie. The underlying reason is sound: if Minority Report makes a lot of money, the studios will be encouraged to fashion more films of this sort. And that is a good thing — not just for science fiction lovers but for fans of intelligent, thought-provoking pictures of all genres.
- Since 1977, there have been many science fiction movies, but none has managed to equal [A New Hope's] blend of adventure, likable characters, and epic storytelling.
- Seventeen years after its intial release, The Empire Strikes Back is still as thrilling and involving as ever. Because of the high quality of the original product, it doesn't show a hint of dating. Neither [Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope nor Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi] were able to match the narrative scope of Empire, which today remains one of the finest and most rousing science fiction tales ever committed to the screen.
- Short of climbing aboard a time capsule and peeling back eight and one-half decades, James Cameron's magnificent Titanic is the closest any of us will get to walking the decks of the doomed ocean liner. Meticulous in detail, yet vast in scope and intent, Titanic is the kind of epic motion picture event that has become a rarity. You don't just watch Titanic, you experience it — from the launch to the sinking, then on a journey two and one-half miles below the surface, into the cold, watery grave where Cameron has shot never-before seen documentary footage specifically for this movie.