TROUBLE CITY

CHUD'S 50 BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS, DAY 11

Movie NewsRuss FischerComment


Welcome to the next CHUD List.

We've tackled our essentials list and the continued revelation of our Kills List from 2003, and now that we've begun the beguine, we must continue. Behold:

The CHUD.com Top 50 Disappointments.

A quick word on the criteria. We could very easily have spent this whole article discussing sequels and prequels and adaptations of television shows and called it a day. Instead, we tried to go a different route. Also, from a master list of over 100, the involved parties (Devin, Jeremy, Micah, Russ, and myself) all killed off a choice for each one we claimed. As a result, we'll run a big list at the end of this of the 'ones that got away'. So, here is day one of many where we chronicle the 50 Biggest Disappointments. Two a day, every week day for five weeks. In no particular order:

http://chud.com/nextraimages/celebrity_ver3.jpg#34 - Celebrity (1998, dir. Woody Allen)

Picking a disappointing Woody Allen film is tough. Not because there are no bad Woody Allen films – God knows there are bad, bad, bad Woody Allen films – but because of the one-two punch of diminished expectations in later years and a better perspective on his middle years. It’s easy to imagine how Interiors was a disappointment on the heels of Annie Hall, but looking back it is an important – if not my favorite – step in his development as a filmmaker. There’s a period in the late 80s and early 90s where his output is uneven, but with hindsight I can’t hate on Alice, even though it’s a letdown after the masterpiece of Crimes & Misdemeanors. And by the time he got to Anything Else, well, what was anyone expecting (confession: I was expecting the goods).

But there is one Woody Allen film that hasn’t aged well, and that should have just been so much better than what we ended up with. Following on the scathing heels of Deconstructing Harry, Celebrity could have been a biting bit of satire. If only Woody had something new to say about the shallow world of the rich and famous, a world that, after seeing Wild Man Blues, it’s obvious that he’s just as much on the outside of as the rest of us.

Still, just because Celebrity is missing the devastating insight of Deconstructing Harry doesn’t mean it earns a spot on this list. For me what sends Celebrity from the territory of a film that should have been a whole lot better into the territory of a film that I probably never even want to watch again is Kenneth Branagh’s irritating central performance – which is less of a performance and more of a night club impression of Woody. The Woodman is notoriously lax when it comes to dealing with actors, but to let Branagh run roughshod over the film (which feels more like a set of vignettes than a real narrative) is a crime. - Devin

Travesty Scale (1-10): 8 out of 10

http://chud.com/nextraimages/aleinresurrection.jpg#33 - Alien: Resurrection (1997. dir. Jean-Pierre Juenet)

For all that Alien3 got wrong, it's no match for the top-to-bottom botch job that is Alien: Resurrection. Written by fanboy saint Joss Whedon and directed by the whimsical Jean-Pierre Juenet (whose partnership with Marc Caro ended when he agreed to direct this film), Resurrection promised a new beginning for a franchise that had been literally consigned to molten lead; what it delivered was a jokey, dramatically uncertain, tonally scattershot cash-in which, the abominable AvP notwithstanding, finished the series off for good.

It was the second attempt at a coup de grace for the Alien franchise. Initially, Sigourney Weaver had envisioned Alien3 as the concluding chapter, but when that film evoked a hostile response from a fan base displeased with the unceremonious dispatching of Hicks (Michael Biehn) and Newt (Carrie Henn) from Aliens, a fourth go-round seemed like a good idea. Enter Whedon, who concocted a convoluted rebirth of Ripley that cleverly called for her to be crossbred with her acid-bleeding burden. Whedon also dropped in a group of pirates who sold stolen cryo-tubes to the military for experimentation - another viable story element.

But did any of this shit make sense in an Alien movie? Though the notion of a partially-xenomorph Ripley was intriguing, Whedon invests the proceedings with his usual glib bullshit; rather than write an actual character, he just slathers on the lame repartee. Though we love Ripley, the real Ripley died when she did the Nestea plunge at the end of Alien3. The protagonist of Alien: Resurrection is just some hybrid dreamt up to extend a franchise that seemed revivable. It wasn't. And the new characters, led by a tough-talking clone that should never have been played by Winona Ryder, are just as flimsy. Michael Wincott and Ron Perlman have fun with their scoundrel caricatures, but they don't hang around long enough to make much of an impression. Brad Dourif gets the best scene in the movie as a sadistic scientist who tortures the xenomorphs until they can't takes no more.

Alien: Resurrection might seem like a stretch for this list, but you have to remember the hype back in 1997. People thought the series was salvageable. I recall excitedly purchasing a ticket to see the movie a week early at the American Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens as part of an Alien-themed weekend of screenings; by the time we got to Resurrection, the entire theater felt ripped-off. As with The Phantom Menace two years later, I tried to talk myself into liking it, but I knew. A decade later, the film's uselessness is undeniable. - Jeremy

Travesty Scale (1-10): 5 out of 10

Previously Disappointing:
The Ladykillers
Once Upon a Time in Mexico

Bram Stoker's Dracula
Ultraviolet

New York, New York
Billy Bathgate

Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Willow

Superman Returns
Blade: Trinity
Art School Confidential
Lifeforce

Bonfire of the Vanities
Exorcist: Dominion

The Black Hole
Harlem Nights
The Last Castle
Ghostbusters II

Love on the Run

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