Gangster Squad

This generation now has its version of The Untouchables!

After being rescheduled due to the Aurora Shooting back in July, Director Ruben Fleischer's period gangster drama finally graces the silver screen. As are my feelings with the similarily-themed The Untouchables, this is a stylish, mixed-bag of a crime drama.

In the late 1940's, Jewish mobster Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) runs the city of Los Angeles. Feeling that he is losing control of the City of Angels, Police Chief Bill Parker (Nick Nolte) assigns respected police officer John O'Mara (Josh Brolin) to an off-the-books police unit created for the purpose of taking down Mickey Cohen. John uses this chance to recruit the police officers that fill the title characters: playboy Jerry Wooters, (Ryan Gosling) old-hand Max Kennard, (Robert Patrick) his younger prodigy Navidad Ramirez, (Michael Pena) street-wise detective Coleman Harris (Anthony Mackie) and tech-savvy Conway Keeler (Giovanni Ribisi).

The Gangster Squad begin disrupting Mickey Cohen's operations while Mickey struggles to find out who is responsible. During this time, conflicts arise between John and his pregnant wife Connie (Mireille Enos) about the dangers of the job and Jerry and Mickey's girlfriend Grace Faraday (Emma Stone) who begin a dangerous affair.

There is nothing in this film that hasn't been seen before, yet that doesn't make Gangster Squad all bad. The Gangster Squad is made up of cliches and all the actors bring their A-Game to these cliches. The stand-out of the Gangster Squad is Robert Patrick who really embellishes the role given and has lot of fun with it. Ryan Gosling chooses an interesting accent which initially comes off as annoying, but throughout the course of the film, the annoyance died down. Josh Brolin's John is tough as nails and doesn't offer a lot except for his determination to bring Mickey and his empire down. I will say that, although there is narration by Josh Brolin, it was welcome that the narration was sparse as Josh Brolin's tone seemed muted and not something I would want to hear throughout the film.

Which brings me to what I consider the weak links of the story. Emma Stone's Grace easily falls for Jerry, but their affection for one another comes very quick and lacks any spark or chemistry. They seemed more like friends than a real hot couple that skirts the dangers of Mickey Cohen. And speaking of Mickey Cohen, Sean Penn seems to be in a completely different film than the rest of the actors. His accent comes off as if he is struggling with it, and his emotions are much darker and violent than scenes that involve the Gangster Squad. I really enjoy Sean Penn and am glad to have seen him tackle this role, but it really doesn't gel as it should.

The comparisons with The Untouchables are very blatant and in your face. Everything from the stylized setting to the cliched character who you can pretty much tell will die to the facts being very misconstrued, this reminded me so very much of the Brian DePalma/David Mamet classic: The Untouchables. This isn't a bad thing, as I truly enjoy The Untouchables and overall, I enjoyed Gangster Squad as well.

The snappy dialogue comes doesn't fire on all cylinders like a David Mamet script and director Ruben Fleischer occasionally adds touches to liven up the scenes; especially gunfights, which he sometimes chooses to slow down and use some CGI along with the slow motion to add enhancements to what should already be action-packed scenes.

I love film noir and films set during this period, so I might be a bit biased when rating this film. As enjoyment, this is a solid, if uneven affair. A great cast and some good locations really push this film as a recommendation.



The 85th Annual Academy Awards: Nominations & Thoughts

So the nominations for the 85th Annual Academy Awards have been released, and like usual with me, there are more snubs than joyous feelings. Even with the solid slate of really good Hollywood films, judging by the nominations, this feels like it might be another film where the Academy goes for smaller films.

Yes, Lincoln did get the most nominations out of every film, but other films that should have scored some nominations didn't. Ben Affleck lost out on what seemed to be a sure thing directing nomination for Argo along with John Goodman for supporting actor. Alan Arkin was fun in Argo, but John Goodman, out of all the supporting actors, felt like he should have secured a nomination.

Not surprisingly, The Master was only nominated for acting categories. As a film that polarizes every viewer, I am at least glad the Academy still offered nominations to Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams.

Robert De Niro and his return to being an Oscar contender in Silver Linings Playbook. It is always a welcome sight when a veteran actor comes out of the doldrums of awful films and returns with a solid performance.

Samuel L. Jackson's turn as a house slave in Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained missed a nomination, which I feel might be the biggest snub of the year. His role and performance were damn good and a shame that it was overlooked. Also overlooked was a directing nomination for Quentin Tarantino. This is not as surprising, but still a snub.

Also missing was Kathryn Bigelow's directing nomination for Zero Dark Thirty. For a film that has been in the press a lot and getting a lot of critical love, this feels more like a political move than providing the correct nominee. Politics at the Oscars? Who knew!

And Tom Hooper didn't get nominated for Les Miserables. He must only get nominated when David Fincher does, so he can steal away David Fincher's Oscar. (Sorry, sore spot for me.)

So anyway, below are all the nominations for the 85th Annual Academy Awards. From what was nominated, I now think that Lincoln is the obvious front runner. The Academy hasn't shown Steven Spielberg love in a while, and this might be his year again. Beyond that, it seems small movies again run wild throughout the nominees, which can be a good thing. It just feels like some films that could have had a chance to compete with Lincoln (Zero Dark Thirty and Argo come specifically to mind) have lost a lot of steam with the nominations that were announced.

We will find out, though, on February 24th, when Seth MacFarlane hosts the Oscar ceremony.

Performance by an actor in a leading role
*   Bradley Cooper in "Silver Linings Playbook"
*   Daniel Day-Lewis in "Lincoln"
*   Hugh Jackman in "Les Miserables"
*   Joaquin Phoenix in "The Master"
*   Denzel Washington in "Flight"

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
*   Alan Arkin in "Argo"
*   Robert De Niro in "Silver Linings Playbook"
*   Philip Seymour Hoffman in "The Master"
*   Tommy Lee Jones in "Lincoln"
*   Christoph Waltz in "Django Unchained"

Performance by an actress in a leading role
*   Jessica Chastain in "Zero Dark Thirty"
*   Jennifer Lawrence in "Silver Linings Playbook"
*   Emmanuelle Riva in "Amour"
*   Quvenzhan√© Wallis in "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
*   Naomi Watts in "The Impossible"

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
*   Amy Adams in "The Master"
*   Sally Field in "Lincoln"
*   Anne Hathaway in "Les Miserables"
*   Helen Hunt in "The Sessions"
*   Jacki Weaver in "Silver Linings Playbook"

Best animated feature film of the year
*   "Brave" Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
*   "Frankenweenie" Tim Burton
*   "ParaNorman" Sam Fell and Chris Butler
*   "The Pirates! Band of Misfits" Peter Lord
*   "Wreck-It Ralph" Rich Moore

Achievement in cinematography
*   "Anna Karenina" Seamus McGarvey
*   "Django Unchained" Robert Richardson
*   "Life of Pi" Claudio Miranda
*   "Lincoln" Janusz Kaminski
*   "Skyfall" Roger Deakins

Achievement in costume design
*   "Anna Karenina" Jacqueline Durran
*   "Les Miserables" Paco Delgado
*   "Lincoln" Joanna Johnston
*   "Mirror Mirror" Eiko Ishioka
*   "Snow White and the Huntsman" Colleen Atwood

Achievement in directing
*   "Amour" Michael Haneke
*   "Beasts of the Southern Wild" Benh Zeitlin
*   "Life of Pi" Ang Lee
*   "Lincoln" Steven Spielberg
*   "Silver Linings Playbook" David O. Russell

Best documentary feature
*   "5 Broken Cameras"
Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi
*   "The Gatekeepers"
Nominees to be determined
*   "How to Survive a Plague"
Nominees to be determined
*   "The Invisible War"
Nominees to be determined
*   "Searching for Sugar Man"
Nominees to be determined

Best documentary short subject
*   "Inocente"
Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine
*   "Kings Point"
Sari Gilman and Jedd Wider
*   "Mondays at Racine"
Cynthia Wade and Robin Honan
*   "Open Heart"
Kief Davidson and Cori Shepherd Stern
*   "Redemption"
Jon Alpert and Matthew O'Neill

Achievement in film editing
*   "Argo" William Goldenberg
*   "Life of Pi" Tim Squyres
*   "Lincoln" Michael Kahn
*   "Silver Linings Playbook" Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers
*   "Zero Dark Thirty" Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg

Best foreign language film of the year
*   "Amour" Austria
*   "Kon-Tiki" Norway
*   "No" Chile
*   "A Royal Affair" Denmark
*   "War Witch" Canada

Achievement in makeup and hairstyling
*   "Hitchcock"
Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel
*   "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"
Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane
*   "Les Miserables"
Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
*   "Anna Karenina" Dario Marianelli
*   "Argo" Alexandre Desplat
*   "Life of Pi" Mychael Danna
*   "Lincoln" John Williams
*   "Skyfall" Thomas Newman

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
*   "Before My Time" from "Chasing Ice"
Music and Lyric by J. Ralph
*   "Everybody Needs A Best Friend" from "Ted"
Music by Walter Murphy; Lyric by Seth MacFarlane
*   "Pi's Lullaby" from "Life of Pi"
Music by Mychael Danna; Lyric by Bombay Jayashri
*   "Skyfall" from "Skyfall"
Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
*   "Suddenly" from "Les Miserables"
Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; Lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil

Best motion picture of the year
*   "Amour" Nominees to be determined
*   "Argo" Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck and George Clooney, Producers
*   "Beasts of the Southern Wild" Dan Janvey, Josh Penn and Michael Gottwald, Producers
*   "Django Unchained" Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin and Pilar Savone, Producers
*   "Les Miserables" Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward and Cameron Mackintosh, Producers
*   "Life of Pi" Gil Netter, Ang Lee and David Womark, Producers
*   "Lincoln" Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers
*   "Silver Linings Playbook" Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen and Jonathan Gordon, Producers
*   "Zero Dark Thirty" Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow and Megan Ellison, Producers

Achievement in production design
*   "Anna Karenina"
Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
*   "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"
Production Design: Dan Hennah; Set Decoration: Ra Vincent and Simon Bright
*   "Les Miserables"
Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Anna Lynch-Robinson
*   "Life of Pi"
Production Design: David Gropman; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
*   "Lincoln"
Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson

Best animated short film
*   "Adam and Dog" Minkyu Lee
*   "Fresh Guacamole" PES
*   "Head over Heels" Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O'Reilly
*   "Maggie Simpson in "The Longest Daycare"" David Silverman
*   "Paperman" John Kahrs

Best live action short film
*   "Asad" Bryan Buckley and Mino Jarjoura
*   "Buzkashi Boys" Sam French and Ariel Nasr
*   "Curfew" Shawn Christensen
*   "Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)" Tom Van Avermaet and Ellen De Waele
*   "Henry" Yan England

Achievement in sound editing
*   "Argo" Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn
*   "Django Unchained" Wylie Stateman
*   "Life of Pi" Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton
*   "Skyfall" Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers
*   "Zero Dark Thirty" Paul N.J. Ottosson

Achievement in sound mixing
*   "Argo"
John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia
*   "Les Miserables"
Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes
*   "Life of Pi"
Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin
*   "Lincoln"
Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins
*   "Skyfall"
Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson

Achievement in visual effects
*   "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"
Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White
*   "Life of Pi"
Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott
*   "Marvel's The Avengers"
Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick
*   "Prometheus"
Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill
*   "Snow White and the Huntsman"
Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson

Adapted screenplay
*   "Argo" Screenplay by Chris Terrio
*   "Beasts of the Southern Wild" Screenplay by Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin
*   "Life of Pi" Screenplay by David Magee
*   "Lincoln" Screenplay by Tony Kushner
*   "Silver Linings Playbook" Screenplay by David O. Russell

Original screenplay
*   "Amour" Written by Michael Haneke
*   "Django Unchained" Written by Quentin Tarantino
*   "Flight" Written by John Gatins
*   "Moonrise Kingdom" Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
*   "Zero Dark Thirty" Written by Mark Boal


RIP: David R. Ellis

I heard about this story a few hours ago, and really haven't seen much in the way about this story. Director David R. Ellis has passed away at 60 years old. As this is still recent news, as of this writing, details are obviously sketchy and no known cause of death has been reported at this time.

David R. Ellis never made it to the A-List of directors, but made films that gained small, cult-like audiences. After making Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco in 1996, David R. Ellis really broke through with 2003's Final Destination 2. Though not my personal favorite of the Final Destination franchise, it is almost unanimously considered one of the best in the Final Destination series. Once this film hit, David R. Ellis kept his level of success consistent through the rest of his life.

After making the small, yet appreciated, Cellular, David R. Ellis gained prominence by directing the internet-hyped Snakes on a Plane. Though the film failed to meet the almost-impossible anticipation, the film did open number 1 at the box office and turned a small profit. Along with that, the film is infamously known for the classic line delivered by Samuel L. Jackson "I've had it with these mother fuckin' snakes on this mother fuckin' plane."

Afterwards, David R. Ellis made 'Asylum' before he returned to the Final Destination franchise with 'The Final Destination'. Panned by most, and considered to be one of the worst of the franchise, David R. Ellis made the horror/comedy Shark Night 3D. The film was a small success, though never really ascertained the cult status as some of his prior films.

David R. Ellis passed away in Johannesburg, South Africa where he was scheduled to film the movie 'Kite' with his 'Snakes on a Plane star Samuel L. Jackson. I was never David R. Ellis' biggest fan, but I did appreciate some of the films he brought to the screen and feel that he had many more films to offer before his untimely passing.


Director David Cronenberg adapts the book of the same name and provides one of the coldest movie-going experiences of the year.

Rich, young, 20-something businessman, Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson) decides that the day that the United States president visits his city is the perfect day to have a haircut. With his trusty bodyguard, Torval, (Kevin Durand) by his side, he sets off on an odyssey that is unlike any other day.

While stuck in traffic due to the aforementioned visit, along with a riot that continues to gather steam, Eric does not waver in his attempt to be freshly-shorn. His luxurious limo/even more luxurious office remains the main film location as the day presses on.

Eric meets with various associates, co-workers and lovers while venturing throughout the city. After receiving a prostate exam in the limo, (!) Eric starts to become worried and paranoid about his surroundings. As warnings from his associates state that his finances are dwindling and Torval informs Eric that there is a legitimate threat against his life, things begin to spiral out of control for the man who is used to having control of everything.

I pretty much have to start by saying that I didn't like this movie at all. Every single character speaks in large chunks of over-stylized and unnecessarily complicated dialogue while firing at a rapid pace. I have not read the book this film is based on, but I have to assume the book is the same way. This comes off as very annoying and could turn most people off of the film immediately.

Beyond that, there were many more things wrong with the film. From the wooden and cold acting of every participant (though intentional) to the horrendous CGI effects outside of the limo, this is a film that never really clicked for me. Kevin Durand's Torval stood out the most as his scenes were almost laughable at how Kevin Durand played the role and delivered his lines.

With that being said, I loved the overall sense of dread as the film built towards its climax. The bleakness and sense of doom was something that only a few directors could have pulled off; and David Cronenberg did just that. As the film builds, the riots get more intense and the threat on Eric Packer's life becomes more real. By the time we get to the third act, the film brims with dread but also a sense that we have been building towards something and David Cronenberg tries not to let the audience down. If you have made it to the third act, which basically consists of Robert Pattinson and Paul Giamatti talking (shocking, I know) then at least this was a film you could stand.

This movie did its job of isolating me and not caring about any of the players in this film. Just because the film did what it wanted, doesn't make it a good film. What saves it, in my eyes, is how much mood that director David Cronenberg is able to fit into every inch of this film. I was highly curious about this film, and though disappointed, I did not hate what I saw.

As a film, 1/10. As a mood piece, 10/10.

Overall experience is a 5/10


The List: Top 10 Best Films of 2012

With every "Worst of..." list, there must be a "Best of..." list. Here are my picks for the ten best films of 2012 I saw by year's end.

10. Jack Reacher

Released only a short time ago, Jack Reacher finds Tom Cruise in the titular role investigating a sniper attack. As I said in my review, this is a solid, if unspectacular, film that knows what it is. An old school, action/thriller that doesn't skimp on either. Cruise brings everything you'd expect, but writer/director Christopher McQuarrie is the star as he brings a stripped-down feel and gives you a film that does not overload you with CGI.

9. Killer Joe

Another film that was just reviewed! Matthew McConaughey stars as Killer Joe Cooper, a Dallas detective who moonlights as a killer. When hired by a redneck family who are trying to recover a life insurance policy, the family gets more than they bargained for. McConaughey does career work here as does Gina Gershon as the extremely trashy wife of this redneck family. Dark humor and twisted characters directed by William Friedkin make for a film that should be seen.

8. Frankenweenie

Tim Burton takes an idea he had from the mid-80's and turns it into a feature-length film. And by providing the audience this gem, Burton gives us his best film since the 1990's. After an accident, a boy reanimates his dog so their friendship can continue. Bringing back his dead dog, though, does not sit well with some of the local townsfolk. As stated in my initial review, Tim Burton shows his love for old-school monster films and brings a charming and fun story to life using stop motion animation in glorious black and white!

7. Moonrise Kingdom

Being a fan of Wes Anderson, I felt this film had a solid chance of making my ten best films of the year list. And he did not disappoint. Making his best film since The Royal Tenenbaums, Anderson takes us to the fictional town New Penzance where two young children find adventure and love while the town locals, including: Bill Murray, Bruce Willis and Edward Norton attempt to find them. This is a sweet and funny film that had me reminding myself of what it was like to be a kid. Granted, I never went on adventures like these, but still...

6. Chronicle

Writer Max Landis and Director Josh Trank take us on a new take for a superhero story. Told through the "found footage" genre, three boys appear to get superpowers and document how they use these powers in everyday life. As such with superhero films, one kid has to use the powers for evil. For a PG-13 film, this actually had a lot of dark elements which helped make it stand out amongst other superhero films. The "found footage" genre has really worn out its welcome, but this film used it as a tool and not as a crutch.

5. The Cabin in the Woods

I'm not really sure why this film gets a lot of hate. A smart, clever and hilarious take on the cliched horror trope, Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard take the tried-and-true story and spin it on its head. I don't really want to go into the plot, as the less you know, the better. Take mine and most people's words for it: The Cabin in the Woods is a very good film.

4. Looper

I know there is a lot of hate for this film, but I didn't see it that way. Rian Johnson provides a smart and entertaining time travel film. Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt play the same character; 30 years apart. Both are in the year 2044 with different agendas. What follows are the plots of both Young Joe and Old Joe as they work to close in on each other and also, to close whatever loop they have in their life. Another film where I don't want to go into the plot too much, but my review certainly will tell you more. This is a film that you need to see for yourself.

3. The Master

By far, the most plotless film on the list; that doesn't make it bad though. Joaquin Phoenix, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams do amazing acting work in a film that is vaguely based on Scientology. The plot is non-existent, but what matters here are the performances. For my money, though, as said when I first reviewed this film, Phillip Seymour Hoffman gave one of the best and most subtle performances of the year as the charismatic leader Lancaster Dodd. This is not P.T. Anderson's best film, but this certainly one of this year's best films.

2. Django Unchained

Another recent film I reviewed shows up in my top ten best films list! Quentin Tarantino tackles race in his bloody and hilarious Django Unchained. Though needing another run through the editing bay, just about this entire film works. With the exception of the ending, this film flows and moves at its leisurely pace as we follow freed slave Django along with the man who freed him: Dr. King Schultz. The first half of this film sets up as a buddy picture, then we move on to Leonard DiCaprio's Calvin Candie and his plantation; where Django's wife is being held. This is where the film kicks it into an extra gear. Calvin and his house slave Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson) then go head to head for Django's wife. Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson are so good in this movie; I just wish the ending was better because this film would have been number 1...

1. Argo

...not to say Argo is bad. Not by a long shot! Ben Affleck stars and directs the film based on the Iranian hostage crisis. Six members escape the U.S. Embassy when it is stormed and seek refuge at the home of the Canadian Ambassador. CIA Specialist Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) comes up with the idea of the U.S. shooting a fake movie in Iran and to have the six members pose as a film crew to escape Iran. This film is tense, funny and very satisfying. Argo is a really, really good movie. Even when I first reviewed the film, I called it one of the year's best. Now I can just call it the year's best film.

With good movies, it seems less fun to write about them. It's always much more fun to joke about the bad films that are out there.

These are the ten best films that I was able to see in 2012. I wish I could have seen more, as the list may have changed. As is, though, these are what I saw and these are what I felt were best in my opinion.


The List: Top 10 Worst Films of 2012

Listed below are the films I personally feel were the worst 10 films I saw in 2012. As I am a poor, old, boy, finances limit me to a certain number of films I was able to see throughout the year. This is not to say that there are worse films out there that were released in 2012, but these were the worst 10 films released in 2012 that I saw through year's end.

10. This Means War

Directed by the continuously terrible McG, this waste of celluloid brought a decent cast together to make one forgettable film. CIA Agents and best friends Foster (Chris Pine) and Hansen (Tom Hardy) both fall in love with the same woman. Hilarity ensues. A very implausible story is tied together by predictable rom-com tropes and awful dialogue. I never hated this film, it was just too stupid for the cast it attracted.

9. The Cold Light of Day

As stated in my initial review, this really was just a way for Bruce Willis to get a trip to Spain. Future Superman star, Henry Cavill plays Will Shaw, who is having personal problems that will never arise again, when he meets with his family for a vacation in Spain. After Will's family disappears, Will's dad, Martin (Bruce Willis) briefly appears and reveals that he is a CIA Agent and his partner Jean Carrack (Sigourney Weaver) states his family has been taken due to a MacGuffin briefcase. Will then goes on the run where boring action scenes and long exposition fill the screen. Another piece of crap involving CIA Agents and a waste of a perfectly good cast.

8. Boring Man on a Boring Ledge Man on a Ledge

Once again, a solid cast is wasted on another forgettable film from the beginning of the year. Continued star in the making, Sam Worthington plays Nick Cassidy, a man who read this script and decides to end it all by stepping out onto a ledge and threatening to jump. Instead of jumping, he stands there and awaits the police to arrive. As he hasn't jumped, obviously more is going on. A bad "A" story and a horrendous "B" story involving Jamie Bell and Genesis Rodriguez help place this film on my list. This film also has the distinction of the best cast on my "Worst Of..." list that includes Elizabeth Banks, Anthony Mackie, Edward Burns and Ed Harris.

7. Stolen

Good God, I just reviewed this movie. I'm not revisiting it again so soon. Please just check out my review on this guaranteed Award Winner. Again, though, what the hell was up with Josh Lucas?

6. The Watch

See how funny the poster for this film is? This film is about 0.000000000000000001% as funny as that poster. A solid comedic cast is perfectly wasted in this overly unfunny film. These four vague outlines of characters, because none of them are actual characters, fumble around a messy plot that can't decide if it wants to be an alien invasion film or an Old School-type "frat pack" film. In between the few sequences involving the aliens, we are treated to painfully long sequences of improv that should have ended up on the cutting room floor. This misfire was thankfully avoided in theaters for the most part and should stay avoided.

5. Transformers Battleshit Battleship

Every Summer, there is a film that costs way too much money and misses the mark. This year's offering is the wildly over-budgeted and very under-everything else. Basing a film off a board game has never really been a wise decision before, and this film proves that wholeheartedly. Instead of boats sinking boats, the U.S. pisses off a bunch of aliens and the game is set. The game itself is pretty fun. The film is absolutely not.

4. ATM

Now we find us at the most unintentionally hilarious film of the year. Three douchebags are held captive inside an ATM. There's your plot and that's all you get. We have our unseen killer who decides to terrorize them all night, even at one point, sitting in a lawn chair and watching them. This film is god awful, but I will admit to laughing out loud much more than when I checked out The Watch.

3. The Devil Inside

The film that not only pissed off the critics, but film audiences and especially the horror audience. Told through the cliched "found footage" genre, we are treated to boring shocks, lame twists and awful acting... just what you expect from a horror film in January. Unfortunately, the film builds towards a climax then just ends, and leaves us wanting to check out their website. Rule number 1: Have an ending for your already terrible film.

2. Piranha 3DD

So, you decide to take all the best parts of Piranha 3D and throw them away? Ok, I don't understand that, but maybe you're trying to take the film in a whole new direction? No, you just decided to strip away all the entertainment value and give us a lame cameo with Gary Busey, no budget and David Hasselhoff being the best thing in this film? How are you not number 1 on this list?...

1. The Divide

...that's because The Divide was released this year! Sorry, Piranha 3DD, this masterpiece relegated you to the runner-up. This bleak and miserable misfire was a film I was genuinely excited to see. After a really good opening scene, we have to spend almost two hours with some of the most miserable characters in location that shows you the budget they are working with. Headed by a solid cast that includes Michael Biehn, Rosanna Arquette and Milo Ventimiglia, this film fails on all levels. When it tries to say something about how society breaks down, it instead is just an ugly film that tries to be shocking but only comes off as nasty and cheap. A truly awful film and one of the worst films I have ever seen.

There you have it, folks. My pile of crap. Ten films I would be happy to never see in my lifetime again. Hopefully, if I can save one person from checking one of these films out, then I feel like I have done my good deed for the year. Just take my word for it, these films suck.

John Dies at the End

A new year and what better way to start it off by reviewing a film that really can't be reviewed.

Based off the book of the same title, the story follows friends David Wong (Chase Williamson) and John Cheese (Rob Mayes) who accidentally stumble upon a drug nicknamed "Soy Sauce". During a party, David meets with Robert Marley (Tai Bennett) who is able to read David's mind and even tell him what his last dream was. David eventually finds that Robert has been using the "Soy Sauce" to enhance his mind, which John now has in his system.

David believes John is only under the influence of a street drug, until he is accidentally injected with the "Soy Sauce" as well. Soon, David and John are on the run from local detective Appleton (Glynn Turman) and  wannabe street thugs while also uncovering a massive, worldwide conspiracy where the "Soy Sauce" is the mitigating factor. A monster made from cold cuts, penis doorknobs, parallel dimensions and the appearances of Clancy Brown and Angus Scrimm only begin to scratch the surface of the plot.

The film is told in flashback by David to reporter Arnie Blondestone (Paul Giamatti) who acts as the viewer. Arnie has no idea what is going on and continuously doubts the story that David is presenting to him. As the story progresses, Arnie begins to believe the story, but logic still continues to elude the film.

The lack of logic is not a bad thing in a film like this, as never once was I bored. In the first half, especially, a manic energy fuels the film even if you have only a vague semblance of what the plot is. Even with an obvious lack of budget, director Don Coscarelli, gives it his all and provides a film with the energy that a 1980's Sam Raimi would have provided.

Unfortunately, the second half of the film begins to run out of steam. We begin to move towards a resolution of the plot and the energy is more focused on wrapping up the story than entertaining the audience. There is only so much wackiness that can occur before the film wears out its welcome and the entertainment value dwindles.

Don Coscarelli and his cast do give it their all, showing that even making this film was a total team effort. I have not read the book this film was based on, but from what I have heard, the book is even more wackier than what is in the film. This is obvious, as the film version already feels longer than it should. I guess a faithful adaptation of what sounds like an unfilmmable book is too far out of the equation. Based on what the book sounds like, this is close and should be considered a miracle that a film like this was able to see the light of day.

This film is a mixed bag, but the overall energy and wackiness of it makes it easy to recommend checking out at least once.