Ripping Off the Band-Aid
Shall we rip the band-aid off straight away by saying that 2020 was possibly the worst year for many peoples’ lives around the world. Not even a joke, last year just flat out sucked and 2021 doesn’t seem to be shaping up any better after the events of January 6th at the Capitol building alone. Here’s to hoping for a brighter future and to finally being rid of COVID-19 once and for all. Seriously, in the final months of 2020, I barely mustered up the energy to write a single article; my last one was posted in the middle of November and it was originally intended for Halloween! That’s how bad I had gotten with being exhausted of everything going on throughout the year that I couldn’t even find enjoyment in writing about the one thing I genuinely love more than anything, film. It was a bad year, and unfortunately the bad streak seemingly continues, but I’m now saying enough is enough and I am back to typing away my life discussing movies, movies, and more movies!
I apologize for starting this article off on such a downer note. Frankly, I felt it was necessary to acknowledge last year’s historical terror at some capacity before getting into the topic of some terrible movies acting as the cherry on top the travesty which was 2020. After catching up on a number of major titles that I had missed, I figured I would hop back into the swing of things by talking about movies out of the year I personally found dreadful. Admittedly, this was a bit of a strange year for film, many delays for film releases were made and in any other normal year the entries on my list may not have actually made the cut, but because of the Coronavirus pandemic, this is what we’re left with!
Art is Subjective
For anyone reading, please keep in mind that all art (including film) is completely subjective; what I might find to be mind blowing and masterfully crafted, others might say is a pile of sh*t. On the other hand, what I may say is one of the worst of the year, someone else might argue that my opinion doesn’t matter because the film hides behind a certain moral or falls under a specific political stance that they agree with… that doesn’t make a movie ‘good.’ In the end, let’s all agree “to each their own,” right?
Just so everyone knows for incoming context, I have not seen every single movie released out of the year 2020. In a declaration of the obvious, there weren’t nearly as many flicks released last year as there normally have been in previous years and there were quite a few limited releases that were a smidge too difficult for me to lay my eyes on in time to write this article. And admittedly, there are simply some flicks that I didn’t get around to watching and decided to move forward with writing the article anyways. So if there are entries out there that certain readers would debate deserve a spot on the list, I either didn’t make the time to see it or I simply didn’t them nearly as bad as what I wound up including. Apologies!
So without further ado, here is my personal list of what I found to be the very worst films of 2020!
10) Jiu Jitsu
The Plot: Every six years, an ancient order of jiu-jitsu fighters joins forces to battle a vicious race of alien invaders. But when a celebrated war hero goes down in defeat, the fate of the planet and mankind hangs in the balance.
Surprisingly, Jiu Jitsu is the only action feature to make my ‘worst’ list… since there were quite the large amount of disappointments within the genre last year. However, there’s really only one reason why this particular movie angers me so much. No, it’s not because of the poorly choreographed fight sequences seemingly designed by a blind kindergartener. No, it’s not because of the ‘straight-to-video’ quality aesthetic of someone filming with a cheap camera they got from Best Buy in their recycled section. Not the sloppy editing or the goofy special effects superimposed from someone’s Mac Book Pro on a lazy Sunday. Nor is it due to the blatant rip-off of the 1987 classic sci-fi, Arnie action flick Predator, that this hunk of crap clearly is. No, no, no my fellow readers, no.
While all these points hold true and are present in every frame of Jiu Jitsu, there is truly only one reason why I have decided to sneak this little stinker into the junk pile… reason being the cold hard fact of how all these filmmakers and producers mistakenly thought it was a good idea to cast the great Nicolas Cage and not have him be the lead character, while instead dumping this 200+ pound talentless and emotionless robot of muscles as the frontrunner… ARE YOU F*CKING KIDDING ME?! This guy, Alain Moussi, I’m sure is a terrific dude who has maybe even performed terrifically in the past. I honestly have no idea as this is my introduction to this specific actor. But in this performance, Moussi is an empty vessel with zilch in the way of personality or screen presence. Which for a Z-rate action movie that’s randomly thrown out into the world without a care in the world, it makes sense that the lead likely won’t be all that great. But when we’re stacking this extremely bland acting up against one of the greatest actors who ever lived, Nic ‘F*cking’ Cage… I’m sorry, but I’m going to be pretty damn livid!
It was unbearable sitting through this 100 minute slog of our lead actor giving me absolutely nothing to work with or care about. And yes, I understand that this is a shlocky production that never really had a chance of being very good, however that doesn’t mean our leading man is allowed to sleepwalk through the script while practically putting me to sleep myself with his uninspired acting. At the very least, this could have managed to be entertaining in a bad way if the actor had shown some form of enthusiasm. Hell, the supporting cast obviously knows what type of movie they’re in and they still make the most of their time. Then there’s Nic Cage seemingly going nutty and enjoying his time being a crazy old samurai guy living in a desert cave… God, I love Nic Cage. Anyways, when we’re seeing how much fun we could be having if Nic Cage was leading the show, but we’re stuck with ‘McExpressionless Joe’ over here… it hurts. It hurts so bad.
Maybe I’m being harsh on Moussi and I apologize because perhaps it was more the direction he was given rather than the talent behind it. Either way; please, makers of Jui Jitsu, if you’re reading this… if you’re going to cast Nic Cage in another one of your bad movies, be sure to bring in someone who can actually stand up against Cage’s colorfully eccentric persona or just make Nic the lead. Plain and simple.
In the meantime, luckily Nic Cage starred in one of last year’s best movies, Color Out of Space. If anyone is reading this, skip Jui Jitsu… forever. Go watch Color Out of Space instead, that was the better weird sci-fi Cage magic show we can all love!
9) We Can Be Heroes
The Plot: When alien invaders capture the Earth’s superheroes, their kids must learn to work together to save their parents and the planet.
Another entry on my ‘worst’ list in a row where aliens are coming down to destroy Earth... how odd. Anyways, I truthfully have a slight agenda including this one on the list, kind of like with Jiu Jitsu; pointing out a person with astonishing talent churning out crap that is beneath them. Robert Rodriguez… why do you gotta do this to me, man?! If for whatever reason, a reader of mine is unfamiliar with Rodriguez or his work; this is the man behind several low budget action/genre movies that he turns into gold such as El Mariachi, Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn, The Faculty, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Sin City, Planet Terror, Machete, and only a couple years ago directed what was undoubtedly his biggest budgeted film in Alita: Battle Angel. Robert Rodriguez is a legendary director, who apparently can also make some really delicious looking pizza after I watched an episode of Jon Favreau’s Netflix series, The Chef Show. Hell, last year Rodriguez even directed one of The Mandalorian’s most pivotal episodes, The Tragedy. This man has remarkable talent behind the camera, but for some unknown reason Robert decides to make a kids flick every couple years and they’re pretty damn awful every time.
Starting back in 2001 with the very first Spy Kids movie, which truth be told has been a long time since I had last watched any of the Spy Kids movies. Although I do vaguely remember the first one being passable? Maybe? Which is not saying much since the integrity and dignity of these ‘family pictures’ quickly diminishes as his ventures into the family genre went on with endless Spy Kid sequels, The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl… IN 3-D! Now all the way to the year 2020, we find ourselves fifteen years later with what appears to be a loose sequel to Sharkboy and Lavagirl, We Can Be Heroes. I am… overjoyed. Yippee.
This was a horrendous sit; from the vomit inducing special effects that still would have looked terrible by the standards of twenty years ago to the painful child acting that made my blood boil! The only way I can describe the CGI in this movie is “pure nightmare fuel.” Seriously, some of the images presented by the film (particularly from the kid with the ability to stretch like rubber) is beyond terrifying to watch. Creating unintentionally creepy imagery that I won’t be able to shake off any time soon. Then when it comes to the acting from all these kids, it freaking kills me. I couldn’t stand the pompous line delivery or the “trying too hard to be cool” dialog they had to read throughout the movie, making absolutely none of our cast remotely likable and wishing it was over the very second any of the characters first open their mouths. Not to mention, because it’s Robert Rodriguez directing here, he miraculously manages to con his friends to appear in his movie who all are gifted actors, but are stuck in this awful material while also being sidelined by a bunch of kids who can’t act. Resulting in an even more frustrating experience.
My final thoughts on the matter, Robert, if you’re reading this… Unlikely, but first of all, I apologize for my insolence and please don’t kill me! Secondly, I respect the hell out of you and your body of work. You make great entertainment and I wholeheartedly remain excited to see what the future holds for your filmography. However, these kids movies are bad. Very, very bad. And no, this is not coming from a cynical mind that believes all children’s movies are “dumb” or can never rise to mature quality that adult features can. No, not at all! I mean, just last year I had not one, but two family pictures in my ‘Best of 2020’ movie list. My real problem is these family movies that you have made feel as though they don’t respect the intelligence of their audience and are crafted to be condescendingly dumb because the writer (a.k.a. you) don’t believe children can handle mature themes or visuals. Respect your demographic, give them entertainment that feels genuine with charismatic characters we can fall for, just like when you make an action movie, only a little less blood and cursing… just a little though, some blood and cursing is still fine, kids gotta grow up some time.
Want Good Examples of Family Friendly Action Flicks?
So, Mr. Rodriguez, if you so choose to continue on this 20 yearlong tirade of family movies, I hope that you do it with a bit more respect and care. I know for a fact you can do it, there’s literally no reason why you can’t. Yes, it’s definitely good to retain your own style, but maybe it’s time to branch out and try something different with these kid flicks. Experiment, take reference from some of the greats within the genre and make your own… or you can simply stick with making kick-ass action films, I’m cool with that too. Just put a stop to whatever this crap is with We Can Be Heroes, it’s not working and it hasn’t been working for a very long time.
8) Secret Society of Second-Born Royals
The Plot: Following Sam’s (Peyton Elizabeth Lee) adventures at a top-secret training program for a new class of second-born royals obtaining super powers with saving the world.
First of all, I’d just like to say that I don’t get the weird ass genetics behind this concept. Like, how does this work exactly? Apparently because these specific families of royal blood have two children, the first child is born completely normal with no super powers of any kind, but the second kid is just randomly given these gifts? Why? How does that work?? What if these families don’t have two kids? I guess no super powered babies to provide this secret organization for saving the world. What if they have three kids? Is there a society of third-born royals? What about if the first baby is miscarried; is the next baby considered the first or second? I guess the first since they’re the only ones technically born, but that seems like such a specific set of genetic coding to account for that. What about if the second baby is a stillborn or miscarried and the family has another after that; is the third baby then considered the second so they’ll get superpowers or are they jipped because there was the one before that didn’t survive? I really, REALLY don’t like how much this crappy movie is making question the survivability of babies…
Alright, now that my bit of nitpicking is over, onto the reasons why I was ready to throw my television set out of a frikkin’ window while watching Secret Society of Second-Born Entitled Whiny Rich Kids with Parental Issues. This movie has some of the most ill-guided lead characters for a movie that I’ve seen in a while; revolving around a bunch of literal royal brats who have no relatable consequences to bare as regardless of how this story might go for any of them, they’re still going to be stupidly rich and completely fine. The writers trying making the main whiny rich girl “likable” by painting her as the angst ridden rebel who fights against the system and plays in a rock bad on street corners to protest nonsense… but then goes back home to her sweet mansion while squandering any actual power she could have to make the world a better place through her wealth, but instead believes that it’s a better idea to pretend like she’s not rich because she’s so “deep.” F*ck off.
The rest of the group of super-powered brats are generic with no reason to care about any issues they might face because there really aren’t any repercussions for them at all. If they fail at this knockoff school for the kids who couldn’t get into Xavier’s mutant institution, it really does not matter since they’re still going to live the rest of their lives in wealth and luxury, while someone like myself would be screwed for life if I got kicked out of a regular campus. Can we see the problem here how there is no reason to give a damn about these rich punks? Especially when we have one girl who only learns how to control her invisibility powers by having her phone taken away, so she has a b*tch fit about being seen slightly sweaty on social media… #TotesRelatable
‘Misguided’ is the best word to describe this hunk of junk. Secret Society of Blood-Sucking Brats could have easily been forgettable direct-to-video Disney schlock that I wouldn’t have even bothered including on my ‘worst’ list, but because these characters are so unlikable and written to be a cynically repugnant ‘cool’ group of teens that I hated every minute I was trapped watching this garbage. Disney can make some terrific films, we all know this, but their direct to TV stuff that tries so desperately to be ‘hip’ with the kids and relate to them seems to never understand what the hell it’s actually talking about. Resulting in aggravating blandness like this! Although I will say that I did enjoy watching a young actor in this by the name of Niles Fitch, not necessarily because his character was written any better than anyone else in the movie, but the fact that he looks remarkably like a young Moris Chestnut. Seriously, if Hollywood ever remakes Boyz n the Hood or simply needs a “young” Moris Chestnut, this is definitely your guy!
7) The Craft: Legacy
The Plot: A group of high school students form a coven of witches. A sequel to the 1996 film, The Craft.
You know, there are surprisingly some long awaited sequels which take heavy influence from their predecessors while still turning out a solid bout of entertainment; Mad Max: Fury Road took about thirty years to get after Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, that’s a great frikkin’ movie! Star Wars: The Force Awakens, despite the subsequent direction the follow-ups took afterwards, this reboot to the Star Wars series was still a bit of fun after a ten year gap between theatrical releases within the franchise. 2008’s Rambo was another thirty year long wait, resulting in a bloody good time. Incredibles 2 and Toy Story 3 are two solid sequels that came out well over a decade after their respective predecessors. Lastly, Blade Runner 2049 came 35 years after the original film and it’s easily one of the best sci-fi sequels that I’ve ever seen. Obviously these types of sequels can work, The Craft: Legacy just doesn’t.
The original 1996 film is a cool cult classic that blends creepy visuals with a genuine female empowerment theme while wrapped up in a time capsule that is deliciously the mid-90s. The 2020 follow-up is also a time capsule of its respective period, but in a way that feels mostly cynical and obnoxious; constantly cramming in modern buzz words and lazily writing in gender/sexuality themes that pale in comparison to what was done before. However, calling The Craft: Legacy a ‘sequel’ is not accurate in the slightest as this is clearly what I refer to as a ‘rema-quel’; a sequel which is deliberately remaking the original in the disguise of a continuation that “coincidentally” rehashes the exact same plot points as the first movie. In other words, it’s 2011’s The Thing, 1989’s The Fly II, or any Hangover sequel.
This sucked. Yes, I know, my critique of this blunder became very lazy, but the f*cking movie is just as lazy! Why the hell should I put in any effort reviewing it when the filmmakers clearly didn’t put in any while making it?! The story, whenever it’s not only being a carbon copy of the original film, it’s fumbling with short-lived and carelessly written subplots that might as well be deleted scenes. The editing is occasionally sloppy as well, cutting around parts in a way that is just flat-out confusing. The special effects are laughable, especially when comparing them to the creative visuals displayed in the first movie. The characters are empty shells only there to spout out exposition or modern slang to appear as ‘hip’ to the youth of today. And then they dragged in talents that deserve so much better like Fairuza Balk who reprises her character of Nancy Downs for literally all of 10 seconds of screen time. Then poor David Duchovny and Michelle Monaghan… what did they do to deserve this fresh pot of hell?? Avoid, just, please… avoid. Watch the original.
6) 365 Days
The Plot: Massimo (Michele Morrone) is a member of the Sicilian Mafia family and Laura (Anna Maria Sielucka) is a sales director. She does not expect that on a trip to Sicily trying to save her relationship, Massimo will kidnap her and give her 365 days to fall in love with him.
Yeah, this screenplay is just erotica; a few writers got together with the sole purpose of scripting out their hidden kinks blended with a nonsensical melodrama so they could masturbate to this movie whenever they wanted. I’m convinced that this is the only reason why 365 Days exists, for a few people to write out their wild sex crazed fantasies of being kidnapped and f*cked by an unhinged crime lord while in-turn fixing him to be a better man… piss off. This film is sex novel trash that is unapologetic about fetishizing a psycho-stalker rape scenario while not remotely realizing how misguided and idiotic it actually is. This story about a criminal kidnapping a woman and forcing her into Stockholm syndrome is clearly meant to be a thriller from any sane person’s point of view, but the writers get horny to the idea of it so therefore it is being painted as ‘romantic’ when in reality it’s just creepy!
Setting aside the fact that the premise is repulsive in romanticizing a woman being kidnapped by a mafioso, the terrible story itself is padded out by nonstop wealth-sploitation montages and obnoxious modern pop music just so it can barely near the two hour mark. It feels as though the movie is constantly inundating me with either this moronic “love” story with a rape fetish, wealth porn, ear bleeding pop music, or idiotic characters that make me want to bash my brains in. I know this material is not made for me and is mostly meant for bored housewives that need something to diddle themselves to on a lazy afternoon while the husband is out, but it’s still pretty badly written and edited for the kinky trash it wants to be. Not to mention implementing a dangerous mentality of it being completely ‘okay’ for a woman literally trapped within an abusive relationship because the sex is hot and one day they’ll change for the better… this is not okay.
One of the most aggravating things about this whole premise is that the only reason this is supposedly considered ‘sexy’ by its demographic is because the dude is rich. That’s literally it. If it were any other “Joe Schmoe” kidnapping this woman to give her a year to fall in love with him, pulling the exact same sh*t this rich Massimo mob boss was also doing, the regular Joe would immediately be called out as a creep and the viewers would easily demonize this story as misogynistic… but because the creep is rich, that means it’s totally fine. Which really means this demographic doesn’t truly care if they’re treated like utter garbage and held captive against their will so long as they’re showered in cash and travel the world in jets or yachts then all is forgiven. What a crock of sh*t!
5) A Fall From Grace
The Plot: Disheartened since her ex-husband’s affair, Grace Waters (Crystal Fox) feels restored by a new romance. But when secrets erode her short-lived joy, Grace’s vulnerable side turns violent.
Be warned, there are spoilers ahead!
Looking back at all my years of reviewing, I recall Tyler Perry being quite prevalent in my little hobby of critiquing film. Pretty sure the first movie I ever watched of Perry’s directorial efforts was 2012’s Madea’s Witness Protection… I remember thinking to myself, “There’s a reason why I don’t watch these Madea movies, the reason being they’re extremely obnoxious and poorly made rip-offs of what Eddie Murphy was doing a decade prior.” Truthfully, I didn’t believe that this was a filmmaker who could get any worse in his craft because Witness Protection was clearly the lowest of the low that this writer/producer/director/actor could ever go, right? That claim of mine has been proven wrong for nearly ten years now as this man finds new and inventive ways of how to make his terrible movies even worse with every passing production.
Granted, A Fall from Grace isn’t necessarily the worst out of the Tyler Perry lineup, but it’s still yet another cheap looking production with the writing skill of a toddler using crayons. It’s quite the conundrum figuring out how whenever Perry writes a comedy, there’s not a single laugh in the entire script, yet when he churns out a drama it is some of the funniest material to come out of any given year. The story of this woman losing her mind when a young man seemingly cons her into a marriage and turns her life to shambles by mysteriously stealing from her business to frame her while also somehow taking ownership of her own house is some of the most laughably absurd crap I’ve seen in a movie all year. Not a single bit of this nutty logic makes a lick of sense! Starting off on the prototypical ‘Perry’ romance trope of the love interest initially appearing as the perfect match, until the abrupt and radical change in personality revealing them to be an abusive monster. Because realism and subtlety is totally Perry’s strong suit.
When I say that there is no logic in this movie, I mean it. It still confuses the hell out of me as to how Tyler Perry seemingly doesn’t know how anything in the world works; from daily interactions between people and common sense to the legal system is all mainly a crapshoot in functionality. Attempting to understand why in the hell this idiotic man magically gets away with somehow cheating the system and manipulating several women into marrying him so he can steal all their money. Not because he finds legitimate loopholes or is actually conducting these acts with any sort of intelligence, no, not even remotely. This man is upfront and open with all this ridiculously shady sh*t he’s pulling on this poor older woman, leaving so much evidence to not only support an immediate divorce, but also to land him in jail without question… yet, SOMEHOW, this man remains untouched by any legal repercussions? How?! Sh*tty writing, that’s how! Then to top it all off that it was all apparently part of his plan to be bludgeoned to near death with a baseball bat in order to frame this woman for murder… no. Just, just no.
Setting aside the script being an easy substitute for toilet paper when in a tight jam, how about the rest of the elements making up the film like acting, cinematography, editing, and costuming… all not very good, but was actually worse on its initial release onto Netflix before they pulled the original version to re-edit the movie in order to hide certain “blemishes” such as wig changes between shots or background extras in a restaurant clearly pretending to eat invisible food while our leads would converse in the foreground. So I guess… ‘A’ for effort? After failing the first try and sneakily hiding your mistakes as quickly as possible, hoping no one would notice… I noticed.
4) The Bobbleheads Movie
The Plot: When the toys’ humans go on vacation, these bobble-headed heroes must defend their home from white trash versions of Jennifer Coolidge and Luke Wilson, two uninvited intruders who hope to swap a new baseball player bobblehead for a valuable one.
2014’s The Lego Movie really reignited that ‘making family movies out of popular products’ craze, didn’t it? From the countless subsequent sequels it made to The Emoji Movie, Playmobil: The Movie, UglyDolls, Trolls, Trolls World Tour, and now… The Bobbleheads Movie… yay. However, the idea of revolving a premise around characters whose heads literally shake around the screen throughout the ENTIRE runtime like they’re f*cking insane is easily the most misguided concept out of the bunch. Why? For one, it’s creepy and two, it’s seriously nauseating! After a while of nonstop watching these giant heads shake and spin and bop around, I legitimately started feeling dizzy because their heads typically took up so much of the screen; which is mainly all I could focus on, the bobbling of their big fat stupid heads.
Besides the nightmare fuel that was the cheap and misguided animation, the material in here is just mind-numbing schlock written by people that don’t give a damn about the intelligence of their audience. This was made for a quick buck and no one cared… because it’s the frikkin’ Bobblehead movie! It truthfully would not surprise me if the script simply read, “Just rip off Toy Story, Lego Movie, and Home Alone… also must hire Cher for cameo.” I just want to know why Cher was brought into this… why? Doesn’t she have better things to do? Like, anything at all?? Not to mention that this film was directed by legendary Disney animation director Kirk Wise whose work includes the original Beauty and the Beast, Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Look man, I know times are tough and we could all use a paycheck, but you’re above this. Please fire your agent.
Same goes for the veteran vocal talents Grey Griffin and Khary Payton along with recognizable faces such as Julian Sands, Luke Wilson, Karen Fukuhara, Jennifer Coolidge, and Brenda Song. I mean, what the hell were you all thinking?! The very second you read the lines, “then Bobblehead Cher exited from her spaceship in the backyard” should have been when you all simultaneously groaned and declined the script on the spot! I’m not making a joke by the way when I call her “Bobblehead Cher,” that’s literally what the characters call her within the movie. Although I suppose that I do support more Luke Wilson being in movies, I like him, but I don’t see him often. This makes me sad… hey, Luke, con your brother Owen to sneak you into that new Marvel TV show Loki. No particular reason why, just feel like the world could use a bit more ‘Luke Wilson’ in their lives. I sure could!
3) The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson
The Plot: Inspired by “true events,” the film follows OJ Simpson’s ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson (Mena Suvari) in the last days before her tragic death on June 12th 1994, as seen from her point of view… according to IMDb…
So the plot synopsis reads that this is supposedly from Nicole Simpson’s perspective in the days leading up to her death… except it neglects the fact that this is a ‘WHAT IF’ story where the writer basically asks, “what if it turned out that a man named Glen/Charlie (Nick Stahl) was painting a house next door and turned out he was a schizoid serial killer that Nicole randomly decided to invite into her own home to paint her house only to have hot, steamy sex with then finding out he’s a bit nutty.” Going from friendly house painter to psycho stalker with multiple personalities, and possible supernatural abilities like teleportation and invading Nicole’s dreams to physically assault her like he’s Freddy Krueger? Not joking. Completely obsessed with Nicole until Glen/Charlie slaughters her in front of her own home… this movie is the definition of the terms ‘distasteful’ and ‘disrespectful.’
Brought to us by Daniel Farrands, the same man who directed 2019’s The Haunting of Sharon Tate, which was also featured on my ‘worst’ list of its respective year. What a coincidence that in the following year Farrands would release yet another repugnant exploitation movie on true events only to twist them into a cheaply made and horribly misguided horror flick. It’s somewhat funny though, seeing how Farrands was a fairly accomplished documentarian who directed solid titles covering big name horror franchises, such as Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Not to mention, he was also the writer of the 1995 installment of the Halloween series, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers… not a very good movie, but still showing how the man clearly has a love for horror. Now, for whatever reason, Farrands has taken to make pseudo-biopics where he implements horror elements which comes across as ill-advised homages that exploit horrific murders that have actually happened to innocent people. To which I say, what the f*ck, dude?!
The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson, along with The Haunting of Sharon Tate, are some truly terrible trash exploitation flicks that, more or less, spit in on the graves of the victims these movies are cashing in on. Don’t get me wrong when I say that I do love me some good, trashy exploitation/horror movies. These aren’t good though, they’re simply painful to watch. Forgetting for a brief moment how disgusting these two movies are in their motives and definitely in their morals, they’re also just terribly made; as though they’re knock-off Lifetime Channel crime thrillers that spent all their budget in the cast and had to resort to filming on Hi8 VHS tapes instead. Maybe I’m giving the filmmakers too much credit since at least Hi8 tapes would have looked grainier in quality and added SOMETHING special to the experience. Plus, the acting is about as awkward and stilted as a Pure Flix production, which is never good; then to add the embarrassing acting on top of this horrendously pretentious dialog of the characters continuously talking on topics of ‘fate’ and their own destiny to die just makes my brain hurt.
These movies are bad and the crew who made them should feel bad. As a biopic, it’s laughably absurd. As a ‘what-if’ story, it’s disrespectful. As a straight horror film, it’s never effective. This is a damn train wreck with excruciating ‘on-the-nose’ dialog and perplexing logic that forces me to ask, “what in the hell am I watching?!” Awful. Awful. Awful… can’t wait for the next one.
2) Trump Card
So… this is the plot synopsis available on IMDb… I have a feeling this is written by someone who might be eerily in love with Dinesh D’Souza… so maybe himself. I don’t know.
The Plot: Written and directed by [and starring] (NOT) acclaimed filmmaker, scholar, and New York Times best selling author Dinesh D?Souza, (Seriously, there’s a question mark in his name on IMDb for some reason) TRUMP CARD [must be in all-caps?] is an expose of the socialism, corruption and gangsterization [apparently not a real word] that now define the Democratic Party. Whether it is the creeping socialism of Joe Biden or the overt socialism of Bernie Sanders, the film reveals what is unique about modern socialism, who is behind it, why its [spelled incorrectly] evil, and how we can work together with President Trump to stop it.
Obviously even the ‘official’ plot synopsis is a dumpster fire.
I’m going to be completely honest right now and say I can’t even get mad at Dinesh D’Souza anymore over his awful, rightwing propaganda pieces. I can’t. I’ve spent far too much time becoming enraged by this man’s dangerous spreading of disillusioned hate and fear mongering to the point where I’m simply numb to it now. It’s all just one big joke by a guy who gets the absolute hardest erections by his troll-ish acts. At the end of the day, that is exactly what this man is, a troll; he loves writing unjustified and ludicrous attack pieces with “evidence” that makes no sense or making loose parallels from events that happened literally hundreds of years ago, yet tries painting the picture as though it is the fault of anyone living today who registers as a democrat. This is Dinesh spewing out for two hours an onslaught of these baseless claims being supported by zero proof of any kind while all scrambled within a broken structure without focus.
Before anyone asks, I don’t personally conform to the right or the left wing; I’m neither a democrat or a republican, but I’ve been called a democrat because I’ve given some (not all) rightwing/Christian films produced by Pure Flix and D’Souza negative reviews… I didn’t give them negative reviews because of their rightwing or religious beliefs, I gave them bad reviews because they were bad movies. Simple as that. Turns out there are a lot of bad movies that get released for the conservative audience that are unfortunately pretty terrible. Doesn’t automatically mean I’m against Christianity or republican ideals, I just don’t like some of the sh*tty movies they make. Trump Card being one of them!
Let’s face it, if I watch something that is supposed to be a documentary and I come out of it saying that, “the acting is bad.” That’s a pretty major f*ck up on the part of the filmmakers as I shouldn’t be saying that there is ANY ACTING in a DOCUMENTARY! Last time I checked, documentaries (even fake ones like this) shouldn’t have any acting at all since there’s supposed to be an unveiling of truth and letting the facts and interviews speak for themselves. That’s the whole point of a documentary, or so I thought. Yet, no, not to Dinesh here as he believes these poorly inserted “reenactments” are somehow convincing?! Well, they’re not.
Then the whole point of this “new” documentary is exactly the same as Dinesh’s last two; pretty much giving a schoolyard taunt calling all democrats racists or Nazis while saying that Donald Trump is the Abraham Lincoln of our time… yeah, Trump, the former president who just one month ago on January 6th incited a violent insurrection to siege the Capitol building. No, that’s not an opinion or rumor without supporting evidence, it’s a fact that Donald Trump for several months held a campaign to spread conspiracy theories on why he lost the 2020 election; eliciting hate among his followers as he continuously led them to believe there was voter fraud being committed within multiple states, even though there was not one ounce of proof to back up his claims in the slightest. Resulting in Trump and his case being laughed out of several courtrooms, including the Supreme Court. However, the former president retained these accusations for months, actually laying down the groundwork before the November votes were ever counted, riling up his psychotic cult the entire time until Trump and his lawyer (Rudy Giuliani) held a rally where they literally told their crowd now was the time to have “trial by combat” and ordered this group of hundreds of pissed off people to march up to the Capitol to protest what they were told was an election stolen from the people. Supposedly that is the ‘Abraham Lincoln’ of our time. Sure… sure.
Also, I just love how Dinesh D’Souza is so hellbent on portraying democrats as pure racists and secret members of the Klu Klux Klan yet just a few weeks ago it was specifically members of his own republican party that were storming the Capitol while waving the confederate flag… yep. I think I’m done fighting this guy. He can’t make a good documentary to save his own life and he doesn’t care to, he is completely content with doing exactly what Trump is doing; spreading more anger and fear without any reason. I suffered through Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party where a ghost Klansman jumped out of a projector screen, riding a horse inside the White House. I did it again in Death of a Nation where Dinesh basically took half of his previous movie’s footage only to splice it in with some newer footage to say the exact same bull sh*t again. And I practically sleep-walked through Trump Card now because it’s the same careless material, same hollow arguments and whiny propaganda all over again and I don’t care. I hope no one buys into this, but I’m just going to accept the fact that the people who buy into this stupidity are the ones who already had the prenotion to. Enjoy it, I guess.
Oh, and the reason why this isn’t in the number one spot of my ‘worst’ of the year list is because I’m tired of giving it to Dinesh’s “documentaries.” I did it for my ‘Worst Films of 2018’ list, and I declared Hillary’s America as the worst film of 2016 as well, I’m not doing it again. Plus he also obviously loves it when people hate his movies since he gloated about being nominated for some Razzies in the past. I’m not going to give him the satisfaction of being in the top spot of garbage anymore. Dinesh’s work isn’t good enough to be remembered as the worst.
1) Faith Under Fire
The Plot: Fireman Tom Hatcher (Nick Vlassopoulos) is at the end of his rope. He saves lives, but couldn’t save his wife from cancer. Now his daughter (Tenley Kellogg) faces the same battle. From an unlikely friend, Tom is challenged to face grief and embrace faith in his darkest hours.
Look… I know I’m not doing myself any favors by placing a republican based “documentary” and a Christian based movie in the top two spots of my ‘worst of the year’ list. For anyone upset by this, I’m sorry, but on a strictly technical aspect, Faith Under Fire really is the worst film I saw all year. In terms of editing, acting, cinematography, audio, soundtrack, and the complete mishandling of tone throughout the picture are all the reasons why this easily ranked on the bottom. However, I do want to say that I am thankful to see a faith-based movie starring Kevin Sorbo and Dean Cain which actually has a halfway decent moral to it, rather than resorting to hate and fear mongering like in God’s Not Dead. At the end of the day, this is a film which genuinely tries to teach good Christian values; it’s just too bad that the production of this movie was so awful.
Truth be told, I’m not entirely sure where to start with this one. I suppose acknowledging the editing is the correct launching point since that’s the first bad impression this movie left on me; just how clumsily edited it was, especially within the first act where I wasn’t even sure what the hell was going on until I had to piece together by myself that we were in “flashback mode” for about ten minutes or so before getting relaunched back into the plot of this father and his sick kid. Then this movie’s idea to represent the passing of time is by basically fading to black in the middle of a scene where the actors remain in the exact same position before and after the fade… seriously? Which, by the way, it couldn’t be more obvious that a lot of these scenes taking place on “separate days” were all shot in the exact same day; with camera almost always in the exact same position and the actors wearing the same wardrobe, I’m pretty sure the lead character only owns 3 or 4 shirts in his whole closet.
Then we come to the topic of the acting, which is so bad. Well, wait, hold on. Let me take that back by saying that only 98% of the acting is truly terrible while Kevin Sorbo and Dean Cain are legitimately solid in their performances. The dialog they’re working with isn’t any better or worse than the rest of what everyone else has to work with, but they do their jobs well and bring at least some decent screen presence along with them… If only the same could be said for the rest of the cast, particularly our leading man, Nick Vlassopoulos. I mean… wow! Supposedly this man has been acting professionally for almost 20 years, yet there was no way in hell I could ever tell from this preschool ‘Show & Tell’ speech project of a performance. To be fair, Faith Under Fire might actually be his first starring role in a full length feature, but I’m sorry when I say this needed someone who knew how to read lines with some level of charisma. Or any semblance of competence would have been nice too. This man is painfully wooden, stumbling through the script as though he had never previously read it before the day of shooting, resulting in a lot of unintentional laughs from how goofy his delivery could be.
Honestly though, there were several elements about this movie which were hilarious, and never in the way the writing intended. For instance, the number of weird and eerie nightmare sequences our lead has repeatedly where he’s walking through an empty purgatory of a hospital or dreaming of his wife grinning ear to ear in search of their daughter throughout the empty house were quite bizarre; especially since these creepy sequences were apparently supposed to be endearing or something? Just awkward. Well, the whole film is awkward. In the same scene we’ll hear that our lead’s daughter, who is dying from cancer, has an emergency at the hospital, only to pan over to his fireman buddies making a joke about toilets because having a consistent tone is a foreign concept to this writer. Or how about the scene where Doctor Sorbo has to break some terrible news to the father and he decides to do this by taking him to this odd little nook in the wall with two little benches squeezed in; I’m going to assume they couldn’t film on a convincing set that day so they found some closed off section in a small building and shot there to hide the fact that they’re not actually in a hospital.
My absolute favorite element of silliness from this movie was the fact that the Christian church featured here had tough guys who strongarmed our lead and his daughter out of the Sunday service because of a previous altercation with Pastor Dean Cain. That’s right! The church has its own pair of goons to take care of the riffraff… what the hell?! I can’t stop laughing about it still to this day!! Beautiful, truly beautiful and I love it so much in how absolutely absurd it is. As is the entire picture in its cheap production, surreal script choices, and kindergarten school play quality of acting. Faith Under Fire is kind of like the polar opposite of last year’s Mank, yet remains equally as fascinating only in how terribly made it is.
Curious About the Best Films of 2020?
- Best Films of 2020
2020 was... terrible. But there sure were some pretty damn good movies to come out from it at least! So here we are, at the beginning of a new year looking back on what last year successfully entertained us with. Won't you join me revisiting the best
That’s All Folks…
So those were my ten LEAST favorite films out of 2020, what about your list? Did you like or dislike mine? Agree or disagree? Comment it all down below to let me know! Also, if you so happened to have enjoyed my list then please do me a favor and share this article around the social media. Thank you all so much for reading and have yourselves a sanitized day… because we’re still in the middle of a pandemic so… don’t die. And don’t make others die. Thanks again.
© 2021 John Plocar