Albert’s 2013 Anti-Awards

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I’m a firm believer in the idea that one can learn something from any movie, no matter how bad- even if it’s a single camera angle or a lightning technique or a clever use of color scheme. Sometimes, though, it’s more worthwhile to use a particularly bad movie as an example of ‘how not to do it.’ This list is dedicated to those films. I’ve got five awards to give out this year, and they’ll go to five movies that deserve a little recognition for being the worst of the worst. At the very least though, they’ll serve as great examples of what to avoid in the future, and as long as we learn a little something, are they ever really a waste? With that being said, let’s get to it!

The Barrel-Biter Award for Most Vigorous Suicide of a Franchise

This award is given to a movie that effectively ends my interest in a franchise due to its utter awfulness. We had a lot of strong contenders this year from Iron Man 3 to Fast & Furious 6 to Star Trek: Into Darkness. One film, however, rose to the occasion and practically ensured that nothing less than the infinite power of Christ could get me back into theaters for the next installment. I’m speaking of none other than the fifth entry in the Die Hard series, A Good Day to Die Hard. An uninspired slog from beginning to end, this film rightfully deserves its spot on this list.

The Cyanide Flavored Lollipop Award for Surprisingly Terrible Film

This award was a little more difficult for me to give out. The fact of the matter is that once you become familiar with the directors, actors, and writers in the industry, it’s not too difficult to guess which movies will end up being big messes. Basically, this award goes to a film that runs contrary to my finely-tuned expectations and surprises me in a bad way. The final decision came down to three films- those being You’re Next, The Fifth Estate, and Carrie. Ultimately, I decided on the latter, as Chloë Grace Mortez’s impressive filmography and director Kimberly Pierce’s own experience and past work concerning gender politics and sexual orientation (Boys Don’t Cry, 1999) might have yielded better results under different circumstances. The 2013 adaptation of Carrie is altogether too safe, uninspired, and really just dull.

The Cyanide Flavored Cyanide Award for Unsurprisingly Terrible Film

Now, this award almost had too many contenders to deal with. Where to start, really? I could name any one of about a hundred sequels that came out this year, each one more unnecessary and insipid than the last. When I first began to consider possible recipients for this award, movies like Grown Ups 2, Thor: The Dark World, The Smurfs 2, The Hangover: Part III, and a host of other samey titles immediately came to mind. Then, I started to remember some of the more truly awful films that were released this year that weren’t part of a larger franchise. The relatively recent Paranoia and Getaway were particularly fresh and unpleasant memories. But then I remembered the big one. I soon decided that the only film that I could possibly give this award to was the spiritual successor to the Twilight Saga, Stephanie Meyer’s The Host. I knew- we all knew, really- what to expect from dark recesses of Meyer’s mind, and, suffice it to say, The Host entirely met those expectations.

The Albert Cantu Lifetime Achievement Award for Biggest Disappointment

I was a little excited to give out this award, not only because it bears my name, but also because its recipient was one of the few movies that evoked real anger from me over the past year. Now I’d like to see it put in its place. This award goes to a film that succeeded in building up my expectations with great trailers and positive buzz, only to smash them back down to the ground when the actual movie was released. We’re all probably thinking the same thing here, so I’ll go ahead and say it: I feel a little betrayed by Zack Snyder at this point. The trailers for his summer blockbuster, Man of Steel, were nothing short of astounding, so to have the final product end up being pretty lame was kind of a rude awakening. Once again, we’ve learned that Hollywood is a cruel mistress who is never to be trusted.

The Haemolacria Award for Worst Film of 2013

And now, the big one. This award goes to a movie released during the past year that was so bad, so appallingly terrible, that it’s a wonder I didn’t start weeping blood during my screening. This award’s recipient stands as an example of everything that’s wrong with the film industry. It surpasses Evil Dead’s mediocre kind of bad as well as The Host’s more humorous kind of bad. It shoots past the aggressively bad Paranoia and zooms straight on towards the downright offensive. The recipient of this award managed to turn an epic thrill-ride into a tortuous three hour journey into tedium and failure. Likewise, the frenetic, unfocused action and the inane plot contributed to the film being almost physically painful to sit through. I’ll never get those three hours of my life back, and for that reason, I’ll never forgive The Lone Ranger.

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Rampant Cinemania: Star Trek Into Darkness

 

This Week: Albert Cantu, Joe Holley, Gabriel Vogel, Andrew King

Show Notes:

What We’ve Been Watching:

Crazy Stupid Love 1:02 – 2:48

Wrong 3:05 – 5:15

Star Trek Into Darkness 5:38 – 24:50

Meditations on JJ Abrams and the Future of the Star Wars Franchise 24:50 –  30:35

Star Trek: Into Darkness Review

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I’ve always been intrigued by sci-fi because it’s a genre in which the imagination is unfettered by boring old reality and is instead free to explore the furthest reaches of the reason, where almost anything is possible. That being said, Star Trek is perhaps the only sci-fi franchise that makes the limitless reaches of the universe feel small and bland. I’m no fan of Star Trek as a franchise, mainly because I had yet to be conceived at the point of it’s heyday, but Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek: Into Darkness are doing the IP no favors.

Into Darkness, directed by the incorrigible J.J Abrams- also responsible for Super 8, Mission: Impossible III, and the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII– marks yet another film which falls heavily within the territory of the thoroughly mediocre. Abrams is not necessarily a bad director, but he certainly wouldn’t be categorized as ‘good’ either. He does, however, have an outstanding mind for marketing. His whole “mystery box” shtick, a phenomenally pretentious analogy basically explaining the common-sense fact that “audiences like to be surprised” has served him very well in the past, and has let him get away with making bland film after bland film by marketing his movies as the greatest, most shocking thing since sliced bread and the solution to peace in the Middle East.

The film stars Chris Pine as Captain Kirk and features Zachary Quinto and Benedict Cumberbatch as well as the crew of the U.S.S Enterprise as they reprise their roles from the first film. Settling into the trend of omitting decent writing in lieu of flashy action sequences (I wasn’t aware that there was a mandatory tradeoff until recently) Into Darkness has a cast that out-stripes its script. Dialogue is awkward and sometimes cringe-worthy and the vast majority of the crew members have no purpose or identity of their own aside from being play-things for Kirk and Spock to interact with. It’s ironic because the crew of the Starship Enterprise seems to be made of a diverse and interesting cast of characters. Most, however, seem to exist superficially and are fundamentally completely ineffectual, specifically the lovely ladies of Starfleet, who sit around all day talking about boys.

The Star Trek universe has never been limited by the fickle constraints of logic and reason. The 2009 film took the concepts of reason and feasibility and summarily jettisoned them into the vacuum of space. Likewise, Into Darkness pulls its fair share of deus ex machinas out of its ass. One of my favorites was the use of superblood (yes, they literally call it superblood) to save a dying character’s life. I can appreciate that fact that sci-fi grants a measure of creative freedom as far as technology is concerned, but at a certain point one starts to get the impression that Abrams was phoning it in more than usual. The film also suffered from a curious action movie trope, commonly known as ‘countdown madness.’ Andrew counted from no less than five countdowns over the course of the film, each marking time until some explosion of epic proportion moved us along to the next bit of exposition. Countdowns have long been an action movie staple, but just because they’re used often, doesn’t mean than they’re an incredibly cheap and hollow way to build tension.

Not helping the already messy dialogue was a story that was fundamentally silly. I can’t really talk about this next bit without revealing some SPOILERS, so prepare yourself. The main antagonist this time around is none other than than infamous Khan, played by Cumberbatch, but here’s the thing: not once is the existence of the genetically enhanced super soldiers referenced in the previous film, nor is their origin explained beyond one line of exposition from Khan. Apparently, we’re just supposed to sit there and accept it all like the lemmings that Abrams thinks we are. As for Khan’s character as a whole, he’s basically whatever Abrams wants him to be, depending on what the scene calls for.  He’s essentially a nonentity, along with virtually every other cast member, who simply wears the skin of whatever nonsensical plot devise Abrams dreams up next. Character development is virtually nonexistent as well, as Kirk, Spock, Scotty, and all the rest simply rehash what has already been established in the first film. It’s shocking how similar the Into Darkness is to 2009’s Star Trek in that respect.

The character to whom I relate most is Karl Urban’s brilliant portrayal of Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, who is presumably the only sensible person left in the entire universe. Bones seems to be the only one cognizant of the fact that he’s stuck in space on a ship full of morons, captained by a psychotic jock fresh out of training camp. Like Bones, I was getting excessively tired of Kirk’s antics. I realized with sorrow in my breast that I had been had by Abrams yet again. Star Trek: Into Darkness is nothing more than a bland expansion upon a nonsensical reboot, and adds nothing to enrich or enhance the series as a whole.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5