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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


If you read my list of the Ten Best Films of 2007, then you already know that it was a very good year for motion pictures in my view. However, that doesn’t mean that there weren’t some real bombs along the way. And, boy, did this year’s worst pictures stink! Compiling this list wasn’t entirely easy because about six of the movies on it stink equally. It’s really the top (or, should I say, bottom) four that reached special depths of atrociousness.

My rules for this list are simple: I don’t consider low-budget independent films that you’ve probably never heard of (like the lame-assed Eagle vs. Shark) because where’s the fun in that? I also exclude straight-to-DVD movies like the excruciating Bloodrayne 2, mostly because I could fill up an entire list with nothing but those. For obvious reasons, I also exclude movies I opted out of seeing. My worst film of 2006 was Hostel; because I despised it so much, I chose not to subject myself to Hostel 2. Same goes for Saw IV. Those pictures may very well deserve a spot here, but I don’t intend to find out.

My final rule is that the gloves are off. I try to sound professional when reviewing films, but for the purposes of this list, I do not censor myself. This is no-holds-barred stuff.

Before we move on with the official list, allow me to give one last kick in the ribs to the movies that didn’t quite make the cut. Some of the year’s other worst pictures – like Stomp the Yard and The Messengers - were left off simply because I couldn’t remember much about them. (A sneaky way of avoiding being called out, if you asked me.) Because I Said So had a great cast, including Diane Keaton, Mandy Moore, and Lauren Graham; normally such a colossal waste of talent would be guaranteed a spot here, but as bad as it was, I’d sit through it again before I’d sit through any of the ones in my bottom ten. In other words, it just barely skirted by because I liked the actors.

Other movies were really bad too, but they didn’t suck quite enough to get on the list, such as:

Horrifically Bad Horror: Dead Silence, The Hitcher, The Reaping, Vacancy

Unfunny Comedies: Good Luck Chuck, Happily Never After, I Know Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Mr. Woodcock

Not-So-Exciting Adventures:The Golden Compass, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Shooter, Stardust

Dramatically Dull Dramas: La Vie En Rose, The Man in the Chair, Reservation Road

I wouldn’t call any of those good movies, but they aren’t the year’s worst. Here are the ones that are:

10. Epic Movie - For the love of mankind, can we please stop with the spoofs already? The swine who brought us last year’s ten-worst stalwart Date Movie return with an even worse follow-up. The film is 70 minutes spent referencing other (better) movies, followed by 15 minutes of outtakes and end credits. When will these spoof-makers learn that it’s not enough to simply mimic famous scenes from other films? Airplane and The Naked Gun were hilarious because they made fun of the clichés and conventions of the genres they were satirizing. Watching Epic Movie, on the other hand, is like spending an evening with someone who does nothing but name-drop.

9. DOA: Dead or Alive - I know, I know – it’s hard to believe that a movie based on a videogame could be Ten Worst material. But really, is there a game less adaptable for the big screen? On your X-Box, bikini-wearing beauties fistfight each other and occasionally stop for a round of beach volleyball. And that’s it! Perhaps you could adapt that concept as a late night soft-core feature for Cinemax, but as a major motion picture to play in movie theaters, it’s thinner than the swimsuits the heroines wear throughout. Amazingly, DOA got a 34% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with several prominent (male) critics acknowledging that they kind of enjoyed looking at the half-naked women for 90 minutes. Dudes, just get a subscription to Maxim, okay?

8. The Seeker: The Dark is Rising - What hath Harry Potter and Narnia wrought? In its rush to create the next big fantasy franchise, Hollywood is buying up every remotely fantastical young adult novel and turning it into an effects-laden spectacle. Consequently, quality control is starting to wane, as evidenced by this sloppily-produced debacle. The acting is bad, the effects are decidedly un-special, and there’s nothing magical on screen at all. The Seeker makes The Golden Compass look like a masterpiece in comparison. One can only imagine it playing as a double feature with Eragon in Movie Hell.

7. Premonition - Too bad Sandra Bullock didn’t have a premonition that her latest movie was going to be such an unmitigated piece of crap. She could have saved herself the embarrassment. This “thriller” tries to use the time-twisting puzzle structure of something like Memento, but only proves its own ineptitude in the process. Confusing, dull, and completely devoid of charm, Premonition marks a low point in Bullock’s career, surpassing even Speed 2.

6. Delta Farce - I know that Blue Collar comedy has its fans, but I don’t get it. What’s so funny about star Larry the Cable Guy saying “Git-r-done” over and over? This pathetic Stripes-wannabe teams Larry with fellow Blue Collar comic Bill Engvall as soldiers who fall off a military plane and land in Mexico. Mistakenly believing they’re in Iraq, they proceed to invade a small village and fight a local brute. There’s something vaguely racist about a comedy in which none of the characters can tell a Latino from an Iraqi. Political incorrectness aside, the movie is just plain stupid.

5. Bratz - This past summer, we had one really fun movie about toys (Transformers) and one really bad movie about toys. For starters, the ugly dolls this flick is based on are very distinct looking, so casting live actors was a mistake; if anything, this should have been animated. That aside, there’s something offensive about the film’s glorification of superficiality. While it pretends to send an empowering message to young girls, Bratz actually suggests that you’re nothing in life if you don’t have cool clothes and hairstyles, and weigh 90 pounds. I hate this film so much that I will never let my children play with the dolls it’s based on.

4. Perfect Stranger - The year’s most egregious waste of A-list talent. Halle Berry + Bruce Willis + erotic thriller ought to equal a must-see. Instead, this inept drama is about as sexy as Nancy Grace doing a pole dance. Making matters worse, the screenplay just makes stuff up as it goes along, so that the ending has absolutely no logic whatsoever. SPOILER ALERT: Berry plays a reporter investigating the murder of her friend. At the end, it is revealed that she, in fact, is the killer. This being the case, what in the hell did she spend the whole movie investigating?

3. I Know Who Killed Me - Lindsay Lohan had a bad year, no doubt about it. First Georgia Rule tanked. Then she made the bad career move of starring in – wait for it! – a torture porn movie! LL plays the world’s only stripper who doesn’t actually remove her clothing. She’s captured by a maniac, who cuts off her hand and leg. Later, she is cared for a couple who think she’s their missing daughter. If you look up the word “incoherence” in the dictionary, it refers you to this gargantuan mess of a film. The characters might as well be speaking gibberish for all the sense the dialogue makes, and the is-it-real? ending is a genuine mind-screw. Here’s hoping Lohan gets her act together (personally and professionally) in 2008.

2. Captivity - Speaking of torture porn, here’s yet another example of it. “24” star Elisha Cuthbert plays a young fashion model who is drugged, kidnapped, and put through a battery of sadistic experiences, none of which are scary or even disturbing, for that matter. The credited director, unbelievable, is Roland Joffe, who once helmed such prestige projects as The Mission and The Killing Fields. In his partial defense, the picture was dramatically retooled to become a torture porn flick after that genre took off. Thanks to this retooling, Captivity is filled with some of the worst continuity errors in film history. For example, in one scene, a sign is dangled in front of Cuthbert. We can read what it says, yet when they cut to a close-up, it suddenly says something completely different. It’s as though the movie was edited in a Cuisinart.

And my choice for the Worst Film of 2007 is:

Gaspard Ulliel unsuccessfully tries to act his way out of a paper bag in Hannibal Rising, the worst film of 2007.
1. Hannibal Rising - I’m only half kidding when I say this “prequel” made me want to gauge my own eyes out. In a blatant attempt to squeeze just a little more cash out of the Hannibal Lecter franchise, author/screenwriter Thomas Harris decided to examine the famed serial killer’s formidable years. He provided Lecter with a personal tragedy that fueled his hatred and sociopathic tendencies. In other words, he explained the guy. Big mistake. What made the character so scary in The Silence of the Lambs is that we didn’t know what drove him; he seemed evil in some otherworldly kind of way. This flaw alone should put Rising on a par with the merely-dismal Ridley Scott 2001 Hannibal picture. However, two things qualify it to be not just the worst film of 2007, but also one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. First, actor Gaspard Ulliel is just outrageously bad as Lecter; the dude is fundamentally incapable of playing scary. Second, director Peter Weber (Girl With a Pearl Earring) tried to give it an artsy-fartsy style. Hey, it’s a about a cannibal. I don’t want to see an art film; I want to be frightened! Hannibal Rising was so bad that I was literally groaned in my seat every time I checked my watch and realized that only a few minutes had gone by.

Those are my picks for the Ten Worst of 2007. Undoubtedly, 2008 will bring its share of cinematic atrocities as well. I’ll console myself by being thankful that I will never have to see any of this year’s turkeys a second time.

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