Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)

hansel_and_gretel_witch_hunters_There are those who would defend this movie on the basis of it being “pure escapism”, or “unpretentious entertainment”. Did any of the film’s defenders actually sit down and watch it, or did they focus on that scene where one of the characters gets naked? With all seriousness, however, this film was truly awful stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen worse films, but few films could ever expect to sink lower than this dribble. In this regard, the biggest problem is the film’s unbearably hackneyed writing. I’ve seen films with blatantly terrible writing, but let it be known, this film has the absolute worst writing I’ve ever seen.

Back when it was new, the film followed the reprehensible trend of gritty, action-oriented fantasy retellings of public domain stories. In this case, it pretends to be a continuation of the story of Hansel and Gretel, but this film bastardizes the story so badly that it made its own events for before the story (which make so little sense that it’s simply baffling). The script itself is an intense atrocity, but what’s even worse is how the film exploits every possible cliché from the Hollywood playbook, including a drawn out final showdown.

Another thing I noticed is that it seemed as if they were aiming to create a strong female lead working alongside the male lead (not that either are particularly good examples), but the film’s writers, the hacks that they are, bungled the opportunity. Towards the end, the writers figuratively beat her to a bloody pulp so that the lead male could have all the glory in saving the day. It’s truly an example of terrible writing, plagued by shoehorned clichés that are long past their sell by date. It doesn’t help that the characters are played by people who don’t even know how to act.

The other big thing that bothers me is the visuals and props. This film is essentially the unholy lovechild of Van Helsing and Wild Wild West, with deliberately anachronistic weapons, costumes and accents. The action scenes should have been the best part of the film, but instead, they feel so empty and badly done that they serve no purpose other than for the sake of adding in gratuitous violence wherever the writers can. These are all the cries of a truly talentless film-maker as he drowns in his pitiful mediocrity for all eternity, just like this film in all its tawdriness.

I can safely say on behalf of the entire cinema-going public that this goes beyond B-movie territory. In fact, this is the kind of film that belongs on Syfy, or at best Channel 5, rather than the silver screen. I know that Blades of Glory is still worse on a different level, but this film is so deeply mindless and devoid of substance or artistic merit that it shouldn’t exist, nor should I have laid eyes upon it, almost as if reviewing bad movies had at one point become a depressing pastime in my life. It may in fact be the worst action film of all time.

  • Score: 5%
  • Grade: F

A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)

A_Good_Day_to_Die_HardYou’d think that by 2013 Hollywood would have figured out that there’s simply no room for the old action films, but apparently somebody actually wanted a “Die Hard 5”. I can think of so many reasons why a fifth Die Hard film was a terrible idea to begin with, and most of them exemplify a central problem – Die Hard as a film franchise was only good for a few meritorious films, and then it hibernated for over a decade, and immediately lost steam as soon as the producers tried reviving it.

Essentially, Die Hard was a film franchise that was huge in the 1980’s, after a while it died and was quickly forgotten, and yet the producers honestly thought they could just bring it back without even trying to make it relevant to a newer generation of cinemagoers. Needless to say, they failed spectacularly, and right from the beginning it’s painfully obvious that they couldn’t hide from that. Even the title sequence tries using trendy graphics to make gullible viewers think that this is a next-generation Die Hard film, but really it’s just a Steven Seagal movie with Bruce Willis filling Seagal’s shoes. Making matters worse is a clearly uninspired story plagued by wildly liberal use of outdated action film clichés, and an extremely frail script. This could be forgiven in a low budget straight-to-DVD production, but for a film intended for cinematic release, there should have been higher standards.

Despite this being a by-the-numbers Die Hard film, the most surprisingly jarring aspect of the film, believe it or not, is how much of an insufferable jerk John McClane became in this film. If you loved him in the classic Die Hard, get ready to hate him as he shouts at a Russian man because he can’t understand what he’s saying. Is that the action hero audiences came to love in the late 1980’s? Also, he and his son are quite horrible to each other, but then again, I highly doubt that any of the actors playing them had any interest in the plot. As for McClane’s son, who is played incompetently by Jai Courtney, his character doesn’t surprise me that much. In fact, one could say that the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree. The other characters simply blend into the background due to bad acting and even worse writing.

Another thing I should talk about is the film’s poor presentation. For a film that apparently needed an excessive $92 million to make, it looks absolutely appalling. There’s a noticeable absence of colour here, to the point that most scenes look like they were coloured with a bad mix of grey and blue. The production values are beyond awful, and it just makes me wonder how the producers spent their money. Did it go towards marketing, makeup, drugs? It seriously begs an explanation, since I find it hard to believe that a project this expensive looks so cheap.

Even the action scenes look badly done, to the point that it’s extremely obvious that the producers were hoping to compensate for a badly written plot with guns and explosions, as if the producers had no idea that 1980’s are long gone. Overall, it’s definitely the worst Die Hard film ever made, but somehow it goes beyond just being that. In fact, I’d say this is undoubtedly one of the worst action films of all time. In fact, we’d probably be better off if the Die Hard franchise would simply stay dead.

  • Score: 17%
  • Grade: F

Mannequin (1987)

Mannequin_movie_posterIf you were looking for a film that encapsulated everything wrong with 1980’s pop culture, then you needn’t look further. In fact, you only need to look at the poster for the film in order to get some idea of the vanity that it represents, but if you actually watch the film, you’ll find that the look is only a small part of the plastic nightmare.

Only a minute into the film do things start going hideously wrong. Apparently the premise involves a woman from Ancient Egypt who prays to the gods to escape an unwanted marriage, but this prologue is riddled with anachronisms. The writer clearly didn’t do any research, because not only does the film assume that women in ancient Egypt acted the same way they did in 1987, but also that they spoke in English with American accents. Of course, this is because rom-com writers never do any research, and have a collective assumption that the viewers are morons, but the prologue is the least of our problems.

After the insultingly stupid prologue, the film treats as to an animated title sequence. It’s the same strategy used in the film Grease, and it’s just as inefficacious in this film, if not more so because the animation style shown here looks cheap and outdated, and doesn’t seem to have any relation with the actual plot of the film. The story itself is a marathon of rom-com clichés, but somehow the film comes across as even creepier version of Splash. The story also makes no logical sense whatsoever, and only seems to raise an uncomfortable number of questions, mainly the question of “why on Earth would anyone be sexually attracted to a mannequin?”. That’s the central question, and that the writer seems to have no interest in answering that. What follows are the ninety of the most unbearably stupid and unspeakably lousy minutes of movie history, featuring all manner of stock characters, and all the ugliest examples of popular 80’s fashion. For a movie made on a moderate budget, the film looks as though the producers used every cheap production trick in the book, even going so low as to use cheap transition wipes throughout the film.

The actors themselves weren’t all bad, but the dialogue is extremely clumsy, and the script is a bigger joke than the many failed jokes you’re bound to find in the film. I’d say that the music was the only tolerable part of the movie, but then again, the kind of music you hear in Mannequin was absurdly common in the 1980’s, and I’m beginning to suspect that it was commonly employed in movies of lesser quality, some of which practically survive in the consciousness of public culture only because of the music.

Sadly, Mannequin is one of those films, but that’s the more merciful way of looking at it. This film must have been garbage when it was new, but it’s far worse than simply that. It’s a soulless product of the brand of committee thinking that dominated the 1980’s. It’s not just horribly written, it’s shoddily produced, and so inanely stupid that it might cause your brain to melt in boredom. Certainly the worst film to come out of the “golden 80’s”, but I say it’s one of the worst movies ever made. If you don’t believe me, you can always watch it yourself. Go ahead, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

  • Score: 6%
  • Grade: F