G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

A movie written for ten-year-old boys, directed by a ten-year-old boy. Stephen Sommers can’t even get an action scene right as he jumps ADHD-like from one bad CG effect to another, with no sense of excitement in even a visceral sense.

As in Transformers 2, the story focuses exclusively on introducing as many characters and vehicles to sell as toys as possible, and though it’s no surprise the acting is bad, the level of badness still impresses. Thespian highlights include Dennis Quaid attempting to vocalize while protruding his chest as far as possible, Sienna Miller seeing how much cleavage and leg can be shown in a single camera frame (quite a lot), and Channing Tatum twitching the little muscle in his jaw anytime he’s meant to exhibit emotion.

The Snake Eyes character is the most interesting by far – not coincidentally his face is hidden and he doesn’t speak for the whole movie.

The Golden Compass

A promising concept and huge budget can’t hide the helpless direction of this film. Chris Weitz has no sense of timing, pacing or suspense whatsoever, jumping from one seemingly unrelated event to the next without warning or cohesion. The lead child actress can’t quite manage her role, and the supporting cast is clueless for the most part. Even uber-cool Daniel Craig comes across as flat and boring. Aside from Nicole Kidman’s quality performance as the sympathetic villain, the armored polar bear on steroids is the only interesting thing in the movie (and even that character grows tiresome).

One might argue that this is a children’s movie – the screenplay and direction are certainly juvenile – and thus shouldn’t be judged so harshly, but as it’s a bit violent for little children it fails to fill any niche whatsoever.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon

Appallingly bad in every way, most especially the painfully slow pacing (and constantly… pausing… dialogue) that only speeds up for the occasional cheaply done action scene. The heroine is quite possibly the most worthless in the history of cinema, and it’s a little disturbing to witness the movie’s near-endorsement of depression, suicide and domestic violence considering the series’ popularity with young girls.

20-Seiki Shonen

This is a good example of 1) how bad mainstream Japanese movies tend to be and 2) how not to do an adaptation. The manga series, despite a few weak spots, boasted an intriguing story spanning multiple decades; the movie futily attempts to include every character and event while failing to genuinely succeed at any of them. Director Yukihiko Tsutsumi resorts to goofy camera gimmicks in even basic dialog scenes without managing the get the basics right, and the sizable budget is spent on over-extended, rarely convincing special effects, while the film as a whole is shot with simple lighting and amateur-looking film stock the caliber of a mid-budget TV production. It’s also the only movie I’ve seen that without a doubt would be better without the soundtrack altogether. The music is with few exceptions either distracting or hokey or both, and silly sound effects are used to draw attention to major plot points where no audio assistance should be necessary.

The only thing the movie has going for it is that most of the cast bear uncanny resemblances to their comic book counterparts.  But while some manage to act their parts accordingly, the two main supporting actors fall disappointingly short, and the lead character Kenji is played atrociously.

Despite great source material and a promising trailer, the movie itself is a failure in almost every way.

Angels & Demons

Not as boring as The Da Vinci Code, but still tremendously boring. The most interesting thing about the book – the pseudo-history behind all the puzzle solving – gets relegated to Tom Hanks making a few offhand remarks as he races about Rome.  It’s usually just enough information to slow the action down but never enough to be intriguing.

The movie follows the same exact pattern for half of its duration (I love the repeated closeups of black sedans accompanied by gothic chanting – intense!), the acting is flat, and half the murders are so absurdly grotesque they’re comical.

But it’s better than The Da Vinci Code.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Worse acting and direction than the original, hard as that may be to believe. Even with the plentiful plot holes, it would have been a decent watch if only the director had some sense of dramatic or comedic timing. As it is, it’s worth a look for hardcore comic book fans solely for the Silver Surfer, who steals the show with some cool special effects.

Watchmen

Replace the testosterone-charged grunting of 300 with soap-opera melodrama and comic-book cliche, throw in some wild (and completely unexplained) martial-arts skills in place of the swordplay, top it off with an hour or two of mind-numbingly boring exposition and you have Watchmen.

Battleship

How Michael Bay is this movie? There’s a camera shot panning directly from a hot blonde’s cutoffs-clad ass to an alien spaceship within the first ten minutes. If that’s not Michael Bay then I don’t know what is.

OK it’s not actually a Michael Bay movie, but director Peter Berg does a remarkable job mimicking one, for better and more often for worse. In attempting to cover every sci-fi scenario in the book, the movie haphazardly throws in plainly copied elements from previous blockbusters along with an aircraft-carrier-sized plot hole every ten minutes, while the dumbed-down exposition would be redundant even for the pre-teen audience of the board game it’s based on.

To the movie’s credit, the sea-based action provides some impressive effects we’ve not yet seen from the Transformer series it’s clearly patterned on, and Berg does wanton destruction possibly even better than Bay himself. Sadly every time the movie begins to show potential, some moment of utter stupidity comes along to whittle it all away. Barely passable for pure popcorn but hardly a need-to-see action movie.

Cowboys and Aliens

Even for a movie titled Cowboys and Aliens this is a dumb, dumb film. It feels most like a Western at its beginning, and there it’s decent enough, with a dark atmosphere, some mystery and, yes, a few cool action scenes featuring those aliens. From act two, though, the story and action grow increasingly inane and the movie drags trying to establish an excessive cast of characters that you wind up not carrying about anyway. Like the similarly stupid Tron Legacy, the only redeeming factor is Olivia Wilde and her stunningly beautiful eyes. (Those of the opposite persuasion can look for Daniel Craig even more ripped than he was as Bond.)

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Guillermo Del Toro has a knack for special effects – especially the fantasy sort in the cool animated intro – but almost everything after that point disappoints, from the sad “world turns against Hellboy” excuse for a subplot to the romance to even the major action set piece, featuring an overgrown, out-of-control houseplant. The fancy visuals would be better viewed with the volume on mute.

In Time

I’m not sure what constitutes a B-movie these days, but this certainly has the feel of one. Nothing is laughably bad, but from the writing to the clearly limited budget (the futuristic cop cars look like left-over Kitt models) to even the way people are filmed running, everything has just a sprinkling of cheese. The premise regarding aging is good for a few quirky and semi-suspenseful moments, but the movie never goes deep enough to make you really contemplate it. On the bright side Olivia Wilde cameos as a sexy 24 year old, and the female lead is quite the hottie in her own right.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End

The very end of this trilogy-closer exhibits some of the charm that was present in the original. Everything else is convoluted nonsense. The series joins The Matrix as one that should have stopped with the first movie.