Welcome once again to our monthly exercise in spewing bile on the absolute worst that movie studios have to offer. It is a noble task upon which we embark, as we declare in one unified voice (mine) that we will not flush our money down these proverbial toilets, and that we demand quality cinema as the norm, not the exception.
Oh who am I kidding? We’re just hating for the sake of hating, and these shitty movies-to-be simply give us the best outlet. The crews who suffered through production on these disparate piles of shit have already been paid for their hard work, so if and when these movies fail, no one will truly be harmed, except for – perhaps in my wildest dreams – the clueless studio executives who green lit them in the first place. So let us delight in our flame wars!
While this summer so far has been scant in both quantity and quality of films, August is a comparative behemoth. Now, obviously we can’t cover everything, and I am reliant on publicly available lists of upcoming films as I write this column. For example, yesterday I published a review of The Art of Self-Defense, which was not on the July list of upcoming movies that I used as a source for this, and if you check Wikipedia’s “2019 in Film” page, it’s still not on their list at all.
Anyway, whereas the last two months had fairly low offerings, for August I perused 25 different film trailers to get a sense for what’s to come. Of those 25, nearly half of them, a whopping 12 movies, qualified for this month’s column as utter trash. Of the other 13, some look really good, as we’re on the verge of prestige season, some look interesting, and some look like they might be bad, but I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt based on some positive elements in the trailers.
For the 12 that made it into this dubious list, we’re talking about movies filled with clichés, gratuitous violence, self-serving sanctimony, and cringe-inducing attempts to market bullshit to kids.
Without further ado, let the hate flow through you! Welcome to the August 2019 edition of “This Film is Not Yet Watchable!”
A Score to Settle – August 2
For a brief moment, I thought that this movie was a bit of self-aware parody. I mean, what other reason could there be for Nicolas Cage to star in a standard-issue revenge action movie where his face indicates that he’s slowly going insane? But no, I think this is somehow meant to be sincere, as evidenced by the fact that the trailer bills him as “Academy Award Winner Nicolas Cage.” These fuckers are serious about this, aren’t they?
The trailer is so full of clichés and tropes that it honest to God feels like a joke. A line of dialogue that essentially quotes the title of the film – what CinemaSins calls a “Roll Credits” moment? Check. A wronged protagonist seeking retribution, even though we don’t know what those wrongs are? Check. I mean, at best, I’m guessing Cage’s character went to prison for 19 years for… some reason, and his wife and child were murdered, or something. Lots and lots of guns? Check. Elder violent man schooling punk kids? Check. Warnings about being killed as he rampages? Check. Solo scenes in a church to somehow symbolize a Job or Jesus-like complex? Check.
Cage won an Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas, a film where he slowly killed himself with alcohol after he became a failed, washed up member of the Hollywood community. A trailer like this suggests that life may imitate art soon enough. Yeesh.
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw – August 2
There are many people that flock to theatres for the Fast & Furious movies. Those people are what we call, wrong. From the very first entry nearly *checking* good lord, nearly 20 years ago, these movies have been nothing but a parade of bad stunts, worse CGI, and frat boy wish fulfillment. I remember after Paul Walker died, one of his co-stars (I want to say Tyrese Gibson) gave an interview where he said something to the effect of, “We could’ve stopped after Paul died. Six films was enough, but then we thought, ‘Nah, we gotta do seven.'” Since then there’s been an eighth, a ninth is in production (and at least two more confirmed), and now we have this spinoff, which exists only because Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel get along like whiny babies. These are your avatars of masculinity, America!
For the last decade plus, audiences around the world have clamored for Idris Elba to be the next James Bond. With the horrible dialogue in the trailer for this movie, where he appears to play, at best, a third-rate Bond villain, we sadly get all the reason we’d ever need for this fantasy to never come to fruition. For God’s sake the man declares himself “Black Superman,” even though he’s developed a virus that could exterminate half the planet, which is something so readily available for any one-dimensional villain.
Everything else is straight out of the lazy action movie playbook. Insanely hot female ass-kicker, cheesy jokes, explosions in lieu of plot, and bullshit vehicle stunts that violate every law of physics. Throw in for good measure a haka dance that I would find insulting if it were my culture (not to mention minority characters literally chucking spears and clubs at the enemy), and this is yet another unmitigated piece of shit from a franchise that needs to die yesterday.
Dora and the Lost City of Gold – August 9
I’m not surprised that Nickelodeon made a live-action Dora the Explorer movie. If anything I wonder why this hasn’t happened sooner. What I am surprised about is how cheap and lazy everything looks. The original cartoon is one of the best bits of children’s programming ever created. It’s fun, teaches good lessons, and engages its young audience in the best way possible, to say nothing of the fact that Dora as a character is one of the first bits of cultural diversity that American children are exposed to.
Even though I myself wouldn’t watch this movie, because I’m not the target audience, it could have been a good idea. Instead we get a) an aged up Dora with boobs and a nerdy guy who has a crush on her, because Dora so needed to be sexualized, b) Boots rendered as one of the most fake looking pieces of CGI in existence, c) a “mean girl” character who is somehow “wrong” for pointing out the absurdities of everything going on, even though everything she says makes perfect sense (culture clash aside, why would Dora’s parents send her to public school and NOT tell her not to bring weapons?), and d) Michael Peña – who is WAY better than all of this – describing rave “music.”
Setting aside all of that, this Dora story makes no sense, because the cartoon Dora has no real enemies. There’s the occasional one-off baddie who gets reformed by the end of the episode, but really, that’s about it. So the idea of someone kidnapping Dora and her classmates to hold them hostage in exchange for treasure betrays the spirit of the show entirely. And since this is a children’s show, adapting it into a poor man’s Indiana Jones adventure serves no purpose, because there can be no real stakes, no real danger that anything will happen to Dora, her friends, or her family. No one can die. Hell, no one can even really bleed, or you’ll traumatize the kiddies. So what’s the point?
Oh right, money. I forgot.
The Angry Birds Movie 2 – August 14
Remember how earlier this year we got Detective Pikachu, and I declared it the first truly good movie based on a video game? Well, reminisce on that, because we’re going back into the well of shit. Inexplicably, the first horrible movie based on the Rovio game that no one plays anymore made over $100 million domestically, and over $300 million worldwide. It finished 26th overall in the 2016 tallies, which just further proves that there is no God. Still, because somehow people paid to see it, the sequel was quickly green lit.
Sadly, three years don’t appear to have done anything to improve the quality. The puns are still terrible, the plot is nonsensical (this time the birds and pigs join forces to fight another bird on a different island who flings ice balls or something), and the animation looks cheesier than the actual powdered cheese that Red takes with his popcorn.
On somewhat unrelated notes, there are two things in this trailer that speak to larger problems. One, I get pissed enough that YouTube makes you watch ads before watching trailers, which are themselves ads. But what’s the deal with these trailers that open with a three-shot mini trailer to inform you that you’re about to watch the trailer? The fuck is that shit? Two, when are we going to start calling “cultural appropriation” on YouTube-rapper-that-I-refuse-to-name-because-her-stage-name-is-idiotically-misspelled-bottled-water? She’s Asian, but she never misses an opportunity to speak “ghetto” and pretend to be black. How is that not appropriation, or outright racist? It sure as hell would be if I, a pasty white guy, did any of that stuff. Of course, in this trailer, she exemplifies the problem to which she contributes by screaming, “OH NO, HE’S DOIN’ A VOICE!” when she herself is doing a racist stereotype voice.
“Oh, cwap,” laments a toddler bird dressed as a pig. Oh, cwap indeed.
47 Meters Down: Uncaged – August 16
This is a unique situation. I’ve already put this movie in this column. That’s because although it was originally slated to be released in August, Entertainment Studios temporarily moved the release up to June, presumably in an attempt to get some eyes on what looks to be a terrible sequel to a terrible Jaws ripoff during the relatively light month. Instead, they scrapped those plans and moved the release back to August.
Entertainment Studios is notorious for bankrolling bad movies. The closest thing they’ve gotten to quality is Hostiles, and even that had some serious flaws. My best guess is that they’ve finally given up on trying to profit off their most recent dreck, and will just let it drown in what’s looking to be a very busy weekend, with some highly-anticipated fare like Blinded by the Light and Good Boys expected to fight it out for our money and attention.
The Informer – August 16
This is just your typical, run-of-the-mill, corrupt cop drama. An inmate turns informant for the feds, gets released, and then, because the government “owns” him and can send him right back to prison whenever it wants, goes back into the crime world he’s trying to escape. Upon infiltrating a drug ring, his actions lead to the death of an undercover cop, setting up a jurisdiction penis-measuring contest between the FBI and the NYPD. Meanwhile, the presumably reformed criminal (again, CRIMINAL) is treated like he’s the victim as he tries to take on all sides to protect his family.
It’s every drug cartel crime drama you’ve ever seen. Just because the first Sicario movie was good doesn’t mean every clone or sequel that follows will be. But hey, we got Common this time! Yeah, fucking COMMON! Lather. Rinse. Repeat. NEXT!
Ready or Not – August 21
When I first saw this trailer in a theatre I had to stop myself from laughing. It wasn’t because I found anything about this “Most Dangerous Game as Post-Wedding Family Cult” survival horror particularly funny, but more that Fox would take this nonsense seriously. Samara Weaving (Hugo’s niece) stars as Not Margot Robbie, who marries the heir to a board game fortune. To celebrate, the family plays a “game” of Hide and Seek, where they hunt her for sport, requiring her sacrifice to stave off some kind of family curse. I mean, there’s suspension of disbelief, and then there’s this, which would require blunt force trauma to the head to not find idiotic.
More importantly, do the people who made this trailer not realize that showing kills in the trailer is not an enticement, and instead ruins the entire thing? Twice in the trailer we see a maid character get offed in particularly gruesome fashion. Why would you spoil this? These two kills look pretty graphic and shocking, especially because they happen by accident while the family is hunting Weaving’s character. Seeing it fresh in the film could work for a significant scare. Instead, they’re almost played for laughs in the trailer, which renders any shock value and horror meaningless. I can’t invest my emotions in the film because of this, and therefore I will not invest my dollars. This may end up being a half decent movie. But in this case, the trailer editors gave away the game, so I have no interest.
Plus, can we just declare a worldwide moratorium on using “Unchained Melody” in movies and trailers?
Angel Has Fallen – August 23
Olympus Has Fallen sucked. London Has Fallen sucked. This will suck as well. It will be a trilogy of suck. God I miss the days when Gerard Butler was cool.
Burn – August 23
This strikes me as a crazy version of Clerks with a psycho pyromaniac chick leading the way. The trailer even contains Dante Hicks’ signature line, “I’m not even supposed to be here today.” I can’t make heads or tails about anything going on with this film, except that there’s apparently an attempted robbery, and apparently creepy girl Melinda likes to burn stuff. Also, for some reason Mike Chang from Glee is a cop. Something tells me the only thing that should burn are the reels themselves.
Overcomer – August 23
Oh goodie, another sanctimonious church movie about how any and every adversity is beaten through the power of prayer or some shit. This time it’s a school in a small town with a failing populace thanks to a factory shutting down, which leads to budget cuts, forcing one of the school’s basketball coaches to switch jobs and become the cross country coach to a team of one, an asthmatic girl. I bet there’s no way Jesus can save this hopeless situation this time, right?
Oh what do you know? He can. Or rather, the mundane accomplishments of determined people will be attributed to divine intervention rather than their own abilities or tenacity. It says a lot that the star of the film is a former pastor who writes and directs these films with his equally pious brothers. I’m sure the factory owners destroying the town are either Jews or liberals (or worst of all, liberal Jews!) just for good measure. No just and loving God would allow this tripe to get made, distributed, and shamelessly marketed for “group ticket sales” so that a church can guilt its entire congregation into seeing a shitty movie. I’m sure Kevin Sorbo’s jacking off to this trailer daily.
Playmobil: The Movie – August 30
The two Lego movies have taught us that licensed properties can make for interesting cinema if they’re a) somewhat self-aware, b) aren’t just feature length commercials, and c) have some sort of emotional resonance to balance out the jokes and references. Playmobil, for some reason, took five years to say, “Hey, we should be in on this, too!” and then proceeded to come out with this crap.
I mean, Daniel Radcliffe as a knockoff Lego Bond doll? Are you fucking kidding me? I used to feel so bad for him when I heard stories about how he was constantly drunk on set during the later Harry Potter movies because the stress of the work had just gotten to him too much. Now I’m just wondering if he was drunk off his ass when he signed on for this. Seriously, Dan, you’re so much better than this! Why would you demean yourself like this? Based on the animation quality, they surely couldn’t afford to pay you whatever amount of money needed to hold your nose and sign the contract, so what gives?
Itsy Bitsy – August 30
What exactly is the point of this? It doesn’t look even remotely scary like Arachnophobia was back in 1990. It doesn’t have nearly the same camp value as Eight Legged Freaks. The trailer implies more unnecessary cat violence than the Pet Sematary remake. Is this supposed to scare anyone? Is it supposed to have a message? Is it supposed to look like anything of higher quality than a student film from a no-budget A.V. class? I mean, what exactly are we going for here? Whatever it is, it didn’t get it. Everything from the title to the spider effects to the oh so insipid “creepy” singing of the nursery rhyme just screams that this was made on a dare.
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My God, that was exhausting! Good luck at the box office next month, folks!
Join the conversation in the comments below! Do you agree with this list? Do you think I left an obviously bad movie off by mistake? Are you somehow more interested in seeing one of these movies based on these horrible trailers? Let me know!