5. The Cloverfield Paradox
After a surprise reveal at the Super Bowl with a trailer that promised a quick release, which turned out to be immediately after the game, people were ravenous for the movie. The marketing blitz worked. That Paramount sold the movie to Netflix pretty recently was not the greatest sign in the world, but we all got caught up.
By the time the movie ended, we were not only in the complete opposite mood as we were when the movie started, but we wanted to retroactively wipe any future Cloverfield movies from the record. A movie that was clearly not a Cloverfield movie until recently, with obviously quickly shot tie-in footage that clumsily fit in the original movie into this turgid stew of nonsense.
Many of the movie’s issues don’t really reveal themself until after you watch it. It kinda works as a quick little sci-fi movie, but when you think on it, none of it makes sense. It’s so half-baked and so uninspired that you can’t believe it exists. There’s no real drama to anything. Things just happen to happen. There’s no rhyme or reason to why the weird stuff happens, outside the script needing them to off another character.
There’s the really stupid arc for Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s character where she decides she needs to stay in an alternate universe to save kids that aren’t guaranteed to die like the kids in her universe. Same with Elizabeth Debicki trying to do some alternate universe crap that isn’t guaranteed to happen. Adding the Cloverfield to it all is an obvious attempt to goose the numbers as nobody would want to watch an idiotic mess like this if it didn’t tie into something we already know.
But the tie-in is so bad. You can feel how quickly it was all put together. It looks different than the other footage and the effects work feels unfinished. Then the way it tries to make a mythology out of it all is so stupid and forgets the mythology of the first one.
That original movie has a hint at how the monster came to Earth, which was a meteorite falling into the water by Coney Island, taking weeks to fully form to skyscraper-killing shape. But this one now says it came because of this machine that ripped a hole in the multiverse, and that’s so lazy. It gives them an explanation for future Cloverfield movies, but ideally those ones will be as fully formed as the first two and not this mess the third one turned out to be. Just bad. Insultingly bad.
4. The 15:17 To Paris
Clint Eastwood was once an elite director. One of our best. He could take his no-fringe style to most stories and wring something special out of it. But a certain point came, most likely old age, that sucked out the talent. He has either become unable or unwilling to put in the work to make a movie work.
A deep-seated laziness has infected his movies. He always had a two-take style with his movies, but there was more preparation and energy to them before. There’s a first draft quality to his work, making him a sort of blue-collarish flipside to Woody Allen.
This movie may be the nadir of his entire filmography. There is no story when there could have been. An idea of a movie is present. Take an almost Linklater-esque approach to the story of three friends working their way through a European trek when they find themselves in the middle of a lone wolf terrorist attack on a train to Paris. Even the idea of using the real trio to play themselves isn’t a bad idea. But the approach to the story they take is so lame and lazy. It’s a basic biopic approach that fails to make these guys interesting.
It’s just a slow and almost antagonistic trek through a boring story. It’s hagiography for guys who just lucked into importance. Which, again, isn’t a bad idea. But we spend so much time watching this lifeless wannabe soldier go through training and consistently fail. It doesn’t help that the three guys are immensely bad. They repel interest in the movie.
There’s nothing in here that is recommendable. Feature-length paint drying. It may be time for Clint to finally retire. If this is the best he can wrangle these days, it’s best for all parties to hope he never embarrasses himself like this again. Even “American Sniper” and “Jersey Boys” had good moments. What happened to the guy that made “Letters from Iwo Jima” a decade ago?
Very few movies offend me. I’m not one to get outraged by a movie I’m watching, realizing that some movies are purposefully utilizing outrageous elements to make a point. Sometimes, though, a dumb enough movie comes along that thinks it’s super smart and edgy that just tries to dive into the darkness in the world in such a misguided way that you can’t help but find yourself mad at everyone involved.
A cheap riff on “Blade Runner” and “Casablanca” and “MASH” (for some goddamn reason) has a hard time from the beginning justifying its existence. The imagery would have already been old hat even if a masterful “Blade Runner” sequel didn’t already outdo this one by actually pushing the aesthetic forward instead of just staying in place.
Alexander Skarsgard is playing a mute (womp) bartender with anger issues apparently, who goes looking for a missing girlfriend in the underbelly of Ridley Scott’s Germany. But Duncan Jones doesn’t have enough material to justify spending enough time on this narrative, so we spend a lot of time with Paul Rudd and Justin Theroux as “MASH” ripoffs who are ex-gay lovers just doing underground surgeries for criminals. Rudd has anger issues and ruins everything.
Theroux is a goofy whore. It’s all pointless wheel-spinning until the obvious third act reveals that these two plotlines are actually entwined! Ingenious, except for the fact that it’s so stupid and convenient. Skarsgard is trying here, but he shows why Sally Hawkins was rightfully lauded for her role as a mute in “The Shape of Water.” Rudd is fine, but given nothing to do other than be a raving asshole. Theroux fares even worse.
Now, the offensive thing isn’t the way it just hinges its plot on a disposable whore of a woman. No, it’s that the movie all of a sudden shifts into a movie about Theroux being a child rapist, and how Rudd is given a dying threat by Theroux that Rudd’s child will be raped because Rudd was mean to Theroux.
It spends way too much time rubbing our nose in pedophilia that the movie goes from bland sci-fi ripoff into a barely competent exploitation detritus that thinks it is more profound than it actually is. Jones has somehow sunk lower than Warcraft. Can he escape the hole he dug for himself? The “Moon” and “Source Code” fan in me hopes so. But man, it’ll take a lot to wipe the nastiness out of my mind.
2. Truth or Dare
Horror movies get a bad rap because you can make them cheap, which means there is more of them made, meaning there is significantly less quality control within the field. Even a company like Blumhouse, which has a decent quality control base in its ranks, can make some truly atrocious horror fare. Which is to say that, even after a run of movies like “Get Out” and “Split” and “Insidious,” they can drop the ball so completely.
Helmed by the hack that couldn’t hold Matthew Vaughn’s jockeys with “Kick Ass 2,” Jeff Wadlow delivers a movie that feels like the bottom of the barrel of the post-”Scream” knockoff era of horror in the late 1990s. Pretty, bland faces that are clearly not the age they are playing being beset by an evil force.
It’s like a sentient can of Axe body spray tried to one up the Final Destination series. I can’t believe there’s a movie about a Mexican trickster god killing dummies with an evil game of Truth or Dare. It’s preposterous. It’s so insultingly bad.
Not a single step of the way is there an original thought. Just rote cliche after rote cliche done without a single spark of personality. The kills suck. The characters suck. Everything is bad. Even the ending, which feints towards something interesting, is just mishandled. Even those with a strong tolerance for horror will be completely turned off by this reheated turd.
Already 2018’s iconic bad movie. A movie that could only exist in this tumultuous times with MAGA dopes running amuck, it’s a movie that feels like it was made by a subreddit dedicated to clearing John Gotti’s name.
It’s a movie made so incompetently that you wouldn’t be wrong to assume no one involved has ever been around a movie set, but a lot of these dopes have. John Travolta has finally sullied his name so completely that not even Tarantino could save him again. E from “Entourage” was never a go-to name for quality cinema as an actor, and his directorial debut was even worse than the worst of “Entourage.”
This feels like a movie that could join “The Room” as one of those legendarily bad movies of all time. The movie has roughly 500 producers, and it clearly feels like a Ponzi scheme being instigated by a currently rolling Ponzi scheme in Moviepass. All the worst elements of gangster movies rolled into one, with no talent around to make it even interesting.
Filled with anachronisms that boggle the mind, like a 1980’s block party scene that has Pitbull playing. Dialogue written for an audience that is brain dead, just screaming John Gotti at you the whole time. No subtlety at all.
Maybe the most head-scratching element of all is that it tries to make Gotti seem like a good guy that was ruined by the government for no reason. It’s wild to see a hero worship movie that tries to clear the name of a well-known gangster.
It’s almost guaranteed that we won’t see a movie worse than this all year. It may be a while since this is topped. It seemed like “Black Mass” was the final nail in the dying gangster biopic’s coffin, a lifeless retread of past glories. But this is it. The bottom has been reached and if it wasn’t for Scorsese making a new one, there would be no need to return to the well again.