Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Top Ten Movies That Are So Bad They Are Good

Everyone has guilty pleasure movies.  They are the movies we enjoy even though they are universally hated.  We know they are bad but we appreciate them nonetheless. We can find simple joy in mocking these movies or even a sense of awe at how cheesy these films are.  Here is my top ten list of movies that cross beyond the realm of “guilty pleasure” into “so bad they are good.”

10. 2012- Roland Emmerich is the director you call when you want to watch well-known monuments being destroyed. He perfected this art in movies like Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, and Godzilla (1998). In 2012 the earth is devastated by the alignment of the planets in concordance with the Mayan calendar and the world begins to fall apart.

The dialogue is fairly laughable and like most of his past movies, 2012 features the heroes escaping otherwise inescapable situations. Despite the cookie cutter characters and ludicrous script, the movie is fun to watch. The effects are impressive and Oliver Platt is especially entertaining to watch.

9. Leprechaun- Gold is stolen from an evil Leprechaun and when he comes to America he goes on a killing spree to get it back.  This movie is laughably dumb in certain respects such as a trike chase and thwarting the Leprechaun because he is compelled to shine shoes that are in his path.  It does feature a young Jennifer Aniston and definitely has a certain tongue in cheek mood to it. 

The kills are silly and it is clearly not trying to be very scary.  At one point the Leprechaun kills a man with a pogo stick.  The effects are pure 90’s cheese and you’ll wonder how a 4-foot nothing creature even poses a threat.  At the very least it is a fun movie to catch on St. Patrick’s Day.

8. Flash Gordon- Flash Gordon is pure 100% camp.  You have a wild mix of colorful and talented actors in the strangest sets and costumes and they act like they are in a Flash Gordon serial.  What makes this movie bad ass is that it has a kicking soundtrack from Queen.  Football player Flash Gordon is transported to planet Mongo with his friends and must save the universe from the dreaded Ming the Merciless. 

The dialogue is like out of a comic book and the effects are silly even by 1980’s standards. Still, it’s a lot of fun.  They clearly worked to make this film honor its original material. The people are pretty and the music is great.  It gives life to the 1930 comic strip, which is fascinating and fun.  

7. Plan 9 From Outer Space- An Ed Wood classic, this movie is sometimes regarded as one of the worst of all time.  Aliens visit a small town and begin robbing graves in order to use the dead as their soldiers.  This movie is really only funny to watch for how poorly it was made.  The dialogue is awful, the acting is crazy, and the sets are incredibly shoddy and cheaply made. 

You can often see the boom mic and even see that gravestones are cardboard. Stock footage is used often and the final film footage of Bela Lugosi is used in a very poor attempt to make this his last film.  Watching movies like Ed Wood will make you appreciate the work that went into this film despite the many flaws.

6. Showgirls- Every time I watch this I am surprised Paul Verhoeven directed this. A bit odd since I am used to him directing movies like Total Recall, RoboCop, and Starship Troopers.  A young woman makes her way to Las Vegas and becomes a showgirl.  She then starts a feud with another dancer and finds that the rise to stardom is a rough one. 

Whoever wrote this script must have no idea how humans speak to one another.  The sex scene is comical and made even more hilarious by the performance by Elizabeth Berkley who will never live this performance down for the rest of her career.  It is the sort of movie that everyone needs to see to believe.

5. The Wicker Man (2006)- The original Wicker Man is fairly eerie and ends in a very depressing manner. The remake makes a joke of the entire concept.  Casting Nicholas Cage in the lead lets the audience watch him chew the scenery and rave like a mad man through most of the film.  In the movie he plays a police officer investigating a missing child on an island run by pagan cultists.

Nicholas Cage makes any movie watchable in my opinion- The Wicker Man is no exception. I mean, come on; he beats up women while wearing a bear suit and takes a bicycle by force with a handgun. Why wouldn’t you want to see that? The script does him no favors and it seems he decided to go balls to the wall with what he had to work with. 

4. Troll 2- Troll 2 is not really a Troll movie. Really, it’s a movie about goblins. A suburban family switches homes for a while with a family from a town called Nilbog (Goblin backwards).  Soon the family is attacked by goblins that want to turn them into vegetable matter so they can be eaten.

There were a lot of problems with the Italian filmmakers and the actors who insisted the actors say the script word for word even though the translation was poor. The result is a hilarious mess of horrid dialogue, bad costumes, and wretched effects. It is funny at times to watch the results.  If you have intention of watching this movie I recommend watching the great documentary Best Worst Movie as well. It will give you a lot of perspective of what went into making the movie and the phenomenon it has become since then.

3. Manos: The Hands of Fate- What do you get when a Texas fertilizer salesman decides to make a movie? You get Manos: The Hands of Fate. In it a family gets lost on their way to their vacation and end up at a lodge run by a group of cultists that worship a god called Manos. The quality of the movie is very poor. All the voices had to be re-dubbed and it shows with the incredibly crappy audio.

It is fun to watch because it is technically such a train wreck.  Everything about it is bad. Yet, even though nothing seems to be working for the production of this film, a finished product was made.  It is amusing to watch and wonder what it could have been had the director acquired more than an estimated budget of $19,000.

2. The Room- The Room just so damn bizarre. The movie is about a man whose fiancé is cheating on him with his best friend. Other things happen as filler but that is it in a nutshell. Meanwhile you are assaulted by stilted dialogue and behaviors that make me believe that his character was written to not be from this planet.

Still, it has gained a cult following. He has since claimed that he meant to make it as a joke the entire time.  Whatever the case, he has made a movie that is entertaining in just how bizarre and awful it really is. Even that takes some degree of talent.

1. Birdemic: Shock and Terror- This movie is bad. On an artistic level it is abysmal and on a technical level it is probably one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.  A man and a woman in Los Angeles find love when suddenly birds, that explode when hit and can spit acid, attack them.  What is the cause of the destructive birds? Global warming. 

The acting is piss poor, the script seems like a high school student wrote it, but is so much fun to watch. The technical issues are amazing. There are no actual BIRDS in this movie. They use the worst CGI birds I’ve ever seen and the actors are expected to react around these Photoshop rejects. It is comedy gold.

Even though many of these movies are bad we should respect the fact that they were made.  It takes a lot of time, energy, and money to get a movie produced. Whatever the results, be they good or bad, they entertain people and that is what is important. So throw caution to the wind and enjoy a bad movie sometime soon.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

South Park: The Stick of Truth – review

South Park: The Stick of Truth is a pretty impressive game.  During development it faced many delays but seems to now be coming out of the gate strong. Using solid roleplaying game elements and a decent turn-based battle system, South Park: The Stick of Truth will be a favorite amongst fans of the show and RPG fans alike.  The writing is solid and it plays much like you are a part of the show, which is a blast. The only down side is that this game has its share of bugs that still need to be worked out.

You begin the story as a character named “New Kid” who recently moved to South Park. He soon befriends Butters, Cartman, and Kenny who are all role-playing as humans fighting against Elves.  You must do your part to determine your role in the game and determine which faction you wish to fight for in the defense of the Stick of Truth. Something much more sinister is going on underneath day-to-day events in town and whoever controls the Stick of Truth controls the universe.

One of the bonuses about this game is that it is very funny. The dialogue is hilarious; the quests are not too difficult; and the story is surprisingly linear for an RPG.  The class system lets you pick between fighter, mage, thief, and Jew with tons of options for customization.  Many of the characters you meet will offer you quests or will even join you in some way, which adds to the enjoyment and overall experience.

The biggest issue I have had was that the game has a couple issues of bugs.  For example, in one boss fight if you choose to use Kyle as a partner the screen will go black after the battle and force you to restart the console.  I have also come across a problem where I had to force a restart because I vanished at the top of some stairs as if I floated out of time and space.  Once you figure out what attacks you like the best almost all the battles can be won very quickly, especially at the higher levels.

The game itself is not particularly long but there is definitely replay value to it. If ou choose to go back through the game, you can conceivably see how the other scenarios play out and work towards the achievements/trophies.  South Park: The Stick of Truth is really a fun game and should be played by anyone who enjoys the show. There are tons of inside jokes and a lot of moments that are laugh-out-loud enjoyable.  It is certainly worth buying for any mature fan of roleplaying games or South Park.  Hopefully the creators will be able to work out the bugs in a patch and maybe we’ll even get some DLC.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

300: Rise of an Empire –review

300: Rise of an Empire is a follow-up film to the movie 300.  It takes place during events surrounding the previous film but follows the Athenians at the Battle of Salamis. The effects are over-the-top and slow motion is used in excess.  There is not a lot to make this movie stand out as original because it’s roughly the same plot we have seen before in 300. This time however, we are treated to sea battles.

As Queen Gorgo, played by Lena Headey, tells Spartan troops of the tale that unfolds, we learn that King Xerxes became a god-king with the help of Artemisia, played by Eva Green.  Themistocles, played by Sullivan Stapleton, leads a force of the Athenian navy against the Persian fleet.  He hopes to one day unite Greece together so they may fight against these terrible odds as one mighty force. Themistocles must withstand attack after attack of the Persian force’s heavy numbers using only his wits and the landscape to defeat his foes.

300: Rise of an Empire has a big problem- it brings nothing new to the table. The plot is almost a copy of the first film but with sea battles. They use footage from 300 to add a connection to the previous film, which seems, at times, like a sneaky ploy to show Gerard Butler and Michael Fassbender in this weak sequel.  The effects are dated and look like they belong in the original film from about eight years ago. For some reason the slow motion effect was used for damn near every movement made. I am pretty sure this movie would have been 30 minutes long had it not been filmed in so many slow motion shots.

Speaking of 8 years ago, it seems foolish to add Queen Gorgo’s character since her events in these films are supposed to take place at the same time as the last film; as lovely as Lena Headey is, she has aged noticeably in eight years. Eva Green is fun to watch as Artemisia. She is over-the-top and seems to be enjoying herself in the roll.  Her fun villain character is cartoonish at times, wearing a subtle, wry smile while slowly killing men in battle with a bow.

Tell me if this sounds familiar: A Greek leader known for his skills in battle leads his men up against overwhelming odds. The odds in this case are the Persians, and they have a leader that throws every trick in the book at the other leader. This being an attempt to have the Greek leader serve the Persian leader and the Greek leader refuses to do. The Greeks lose a lot of people but gain victory through their loss by uniting Greece against the Persians. If this sounds familiar to you, it should. It was the plot to 300 and to 300:Rise of an Empire.

This sequel feels eight years too late.  I guess if you really enjoyed 300 I’d say it’s worth a rental. Please remember you’ve seen it already and it feels like a very obvious attempt to milk the franchise for all its worth. There are action scenes that are interesting and fun but they don’t carry the film, and each one is not unique. It suffers the biggest crime a movie can commit by being dull.