The Worst Films of 2004

The Stepford Wives is so horrible that it’s hard to know where to begin. Trying to shoehorn a 1970s feminist plot (scared men are turning strong women into robots) into a 2004 world is a hard enough proposition. But last-minute edits by the filmmakers to salvage this disaster left the secret behind the Stepford women – which is the whole point to the story, really - completely impenetrable. Are they robots or not? Hell if I know. Faith Hill sure acts like a robot and Nicole Kidman finds what seems to be her robot double, but at the end it turns out these women have only been brainwashed and with a flip of a switch everything’s fine again. A contrived happy ending like this is like a cherry on a turd.

The Grudge boasts a number of cool individual scares and creepy moments, ratcheting up the tension and creating a sense of dread and paranoia, trademarks both of this sub-genre of Japanese horror. And for a while it works. But the pieces never come together and in the end the story goes nowhere. You know that pale-faced elf kid in the promos with the wide-mouthed look of horror on his face? That’s you when this thing is over and you realize you’ll never get back those 96 minutes.

Anchorman isn’t nearly as funny as the trailers would have you believe or the people making it seem to think. Looked at through the prism of glossy 24-hour CNN video news, there’s clearly something inherently ludicrous about those quaint local newscasts of the 1970s with their shag-carpeted sets, 16mm film, and wide lapels. But Will Ferrell and his lame writer/director team are too lazy to take advantage. If he’s not careful, Ferrell will fade into cinematic mediocrity like a 21st century Chevy Chase.

Resident Evil: Apocalypse, a sequel to the underrated 2002 B-movie zombie thriller, takes what is already a fairly over-the-top concept and drives it right over the edge at full throttle. Whatever muted humanity and emotion star Milla Jovovich conveyed the first time around has evaporated. She’s in Action Heroine mode here, showing no weakness whatsoever and doing ridiculous things like driving a motorcycle through a church window when the door would have done nicely. It’s a bunch of noisy, hard-boiled nonsense. Consider yourself warned.

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason is a textbook example of a sequel that’s so afraid of alienating fans of the original film that the filmmakers decide to play it safe and just remake the original film (watch Bridget humiliate herself again, watch Bridget try to choose between two boyfriends again). It’s as if the first film never happened. Most annoying of all is how petulant and irritating the Bridget character has gotten, a change dictated solely by the need to undo the happy ending of the first film. It is v.v. bad.

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