Tag Archives: fifty shades freed

The Worst Movies of 2018

One of the things I found most interesting about 2018 was it actually seemed like there were a lot fewer bad movies. Instead, we had a big middle of mediocre, forgettable fare.

So several of these I wouldn’t say are “bad,” but merely disappointing. As with my lists from previous years, I’m trying to keep this away from merely being a slam dunk contest, and to ignore films for whom I am not the intended audience. There’s also a large number of films that were never screened for critics and I had zero interest in seeking them out on my own. So I have no opinion on, for example, Insidious: The Last Key, Holmes and Watson, or The Week Of.

However, I’m going to stray from my principles in a few places here because these film are so egregiously, aggressively awful that I can’t help but say something. But I like to think of this more as an exercise on what went wrong in movies in 2018 and what we can do so much better in the coming year that I hope we can learn from.

10. Pacific Rim: Uprising

Pacific Rim: Uprising

There are, actually, worse films out there than this sequel, but it was just so egregiously bad that I had to start the list here. How do you take such a surefire premise as giant robots fighting monsters and make it bad? Step 1: don’t bring back director Guillermo del Toro or star Idris Elba. Step 2: Make Charlie Day the bad guy for some reason. Step 3: End your film with a snowball fight!

It’s not all bad. There is, in fact, a decent amount of enjoyment to be had here if you don’t pay too close attention. Just turn the sound down and pretend you’re watching a better version of the movie.

9. Take Your Pills

Netflix brought us some great things in 2018. One of them was not this documentary, which premiered at SXSW, which was where I caught it and was immediately enraged. Hey kids, did you know that if you’re being treated for ADHD, you’re basically just doing meth? This film takes the overly complex issues surrounding treatment of attention deficit and basically makes the case that not only are we over-prescribing medication, but it’s being used as a party drug, and drug companies are evil and everyone should just stop taking their medication.

This is a complex subject and this documentary offers no solutions, but shames people for having ADHD and suggests we’re better off not being treated at all. Thanks. Thanks a lot.

8. Rampage

Does The Rock really just say yes to every ridiculous movie they pitch him? This film was not at all based on the 1980’s arcade game involving a giant ape, lizard and wolf attacking the city because that game was fun and this was a tedious mess. This film had a great cast — Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Naomie Harris, Malin Ackerman, Jake Lacy — all of whom are just wasted here. As are a giant effects budget and a premise that might have been interesting if they’d done it properly.

PS- Watch the first five minutes of this movie and the first five minutes of Venom and tell me they aren’t the exact same movie. Mysterious goo on a satellite causes a malfunction and it crashes, infecting people while the evil corporation tries to control their discovery. It’s the same. damn. movie.

7. Gotti

Gotti

I just want to know what the hell was going on with this movie. Who told them to make this movie this way? Not only is John Travolta’s hair and makeup somehow even more ridiculous in every single scene he’s in (begging the question. . . why?) but this movie seems like it was made by someone whose only exposure to organized crime or the mafia was by watching The Godfather and Goodfellas. It’s like that fresco painting of Jesus they tried to restore and it turned out looking like some weird deformed monkey. It’s like the cooking disasters you see on Nailed It or Cake Wrecks. Oh, it was written and directed by Kevin Connolly from Entourage. Nailed it.

For a film with so much voice-over exposition and cutaways to the news to explain what was happening and long car rides explaining the structure of the Gambino crime family, this film doesn’t actually make any sense. There’s also no bigger story or theme. Am I supposed to feel some way about John Gotti other than I please want this movie to be over now please? At least Vice made you feel some things about its characters– and managed to coherently explain recent events.

There’s also this weird soundtrack which tries to remind us we’re in the 80’s and 90’s by playing The Bangles and Duran Duran but also this weird hip hop that samples what sounds like the Nina Rota / Carmine Coppolla scores for The Godfather movies.

This film is also deserving of some special scorn for being financed by MoviePass. At the same time MoviePass was running out of money and limiting the movies you could go see, somehow, you could go see Gotti with your MoviePass. Even for free, this movie was not worth it.

6. Den of Thieves

It’s a testament to what a slog 2018 was that this movie from January feels like it was from eight years ago. Or maybe that’s just because it was so tired and hackneyed it felt like that watching it. Cops and robbers, but maybe we’re rooting for the robbers because the cops are bad guys, too? By the end, I wanted everyone to die and I mostly got my wish. Too bad it took two and a half hours to get there.

5. Sicario: Day of the Soldado

As disappointing a sequel as Pacific Rim: Uprising was, this was far worse. The original Sicario is such a taught, gripping film. And prior to this, I felt like Tayler Sheridan could do no wrong in writing scripts. This, apparently, is what you poop out when the dollar signs are right. The film misses its moral compass in not including Emily Blunt, but it also perpetuates some ridiculous ideas about ISIS terrorists coming across the Mexican border to blow up a Wal-Mart. This is like the fever dream of someone who’s been watching way too much Fox News and doing a lot of cocaine.

And then we get the conflict between Josh Brolin and Benecio Del Toro, and also Brolin bristling at government bureaucrats who won’t let him do his job! (More coke + Fox News)

We deserve better from our movies. We deserve better from our Sicario sequels. (Note: I saw this movie back to back in a double feature with my #1 movie of the year, putting an even better comparison on just how terrible this was.)

4. Midnight Sun

I almost feel sorry for how bad this movie was. A teenage girl is so deathly allergic to sunlight that even a few errant ray can kill her. Spoiler alert: they do. This tragic teen romance is made even more ridiculous by Rob Riggle trying his best as the dad role here.

3. Red Sparrow

Red Sparrow

A movie that glorifies violence against women, has multiple rape scenes, and actually had potential to be the Black Widow movie we all really wanted? It was just terrible, maybe even worse than Jennifer Lawrence’s Boris-and-Natasha Russian accent. In the era of #MeToo, maybe producers would’ve been wise to let this sit on a shelf for a while, instead of explicitly showing on screen how sexual violence is used to subjugate and control women, how their agency is stripped from them in a government-run spy program that is essentially state-sponsored sex slavery where failure to comply means a bullet in your head. It was also incredibly long, which is even more unforgivable, especially given how boring it was.

2. Fifty Shades Freed

Normally I make an exception for the Fifty Shades movies because I’m just not the intended audience. But this year? This abomination came out right in the middle of the #MeToo movement and showed an incredible tonedeafness on the part of the film’s producers. These are a lot of the same problems I had with Red Sparrow, but at least that had a spy storyline going on as well. The best thing I can say about this is I will never have to review another one of these films again.

1. Death of a Nation

Again, I normally wouldn’t include this because I am not the target audience, but convicted felon pardoned under corrupt circumstances by Trump likely in an attempt to suborn perjury or obstruction of justice from his associates Dinesh D’Souza has produced his masterpiece of alt-right agitprop. His major contention is that Donald Trump is basically Abraham Lincoln, and just like Lincoln, those mean ol’ Democrats are going to use violence (including civil war) to overturn a legitimate election.

Death of a Nation

Except a) it wasn’t legitimate, you buffoon, or perhaps you haven’t noticed the increasing number of indictments around Individual 1 (or maybe Dinesh doesn’t think campaign finance law matter, since, after all, that was what he was convicted of breaking) and b) after all of those marches like the Women’s March, March for Our Lives, People’s Climate March, March Against Family Separation we have yet to see any violence from them, but yet we have alt-right violence in Charlottesville (covered in the far better film, Alt-Right Age of Rage) pipe bombs, politically-motivated attacks on synagogues and mosques. If this is a proto-civil war, it is a war of right wing aggression.

And then there’s the weird fascination with Trump being like Lincoln. This is just so baffling on multiple levels.

As a movie, it’s also just garbage. I was not kind to Michael Moore’s latest earlier this year (in fact, if this were a top 13 worst movies list, Fahrenheit 11/9 would be on it), but at least the guy knows how to make a movie. D’Souza loses his narrative so many times, it’s like he’s piecing this together from an underground bunker wearing a tinfoil hat.

But, none of this happens in a vacuum. Whenever I see a movie, I ask myself, “What is this trying to say? How does that add to the cultural conversation we’re having as a society?” This throws gasoline on the worst types of fires, including the beliefs of people who also believe in QAnon and Pizzagate. D’Souza’s films in the past have been terrible and wreckless, but never dangerous. This gives crazy people the fuel they need to commit future acts of violence– in the belief that they are fighting a new civil war.

The First Amendment protects his right to make this movie, and it also protects my right to say this is the worst piece of garbage to be shown in cinemas this last calendar year.

Well, that’s it. That’s the worst. But, I hate being negative, so I’ll come back here in the next day or two with the best of 2018, as well as a look at My Top 5 of Everything and “Who won the year?” If you think it might be the Disney corporation, well. . . you’ll have to read the article.

See you in 2019, where we hopefully avoid these types of awful movies.

Black Panther Dominates the Weekend and Crosses $700 Million Worldwide

In what shouldn’t be a surprise, Marvel‘s Black Panther won the weekend becoming the fourth film ever to earn over $100 million in its second weekend and the second fastest film to top $400 million domestically.

The film earned an estimated $108 million. The film has now earned a little over $400 million domestically. Internationally it earned an estimated $83.8 million from 55 markets bringing that number to $304 million. That’s $704 million worldwide in two weeks. It has yet to open in Japan, that’s next weekend and it debuts in China March 9.

In second place was Game Night which earned an estimated $16.6 million. Audiences gave the film a “B+” CinemaScore. Its audiences was 56% female and 80% over the age of 25. It debuted in 22 markets earning around $5.2 million.

Peter Rabbit was in third bringing in $12.5 million to bring its domestic total to $71.3 million.

In fourth place was another debut, Annihilation which eanred an estimated $11 million. That’s not disasterous with a $40 million budget but the “C” CinemaScore won’t help the film. The film has a deal to stream internationally on Netflix 17 days after its domestic release.

Rounding out the top five was Fifty Shades Freed with $6.9 million and $22.3 million internationally. The film has earned $320.4 million worldwide.

In other comic movie news…

Thor: Ragnarok is continuing to bring in money adding $141,000 to its domestic total bringint that to $314.8 million.

We’ll be back in an hour with a deeper dive into the numbers for 2017 and 2018’s releases.

Black Panther Delivers $201.7 million over 3 days, over $235 for 4 days, over $361 million Worldwide

As shouldn’t be a surprise Black Panther dominated the box office shattering expectations for a record setting weekend. The film has earned an estimated $201.7 million for the three-day weekend (beating our conservative prediction of $175 million). That’s the fight largest three-day domestic opening in history. The film will earn around $235 million over the four-day holiday weekend.

That’s the largest February opening of all-time, the largest President’s Day weekend opening of all-time, and the second largest opening for the Marvel Cinematic Universe behind The Avengers‘ $207.4 million.

Internationally, the film earned an estimated $169 million from 48 markets for a three day debut of $361 million, the fifteenth largest global opening of all-time. It doesn’t debut in China until March 9, Japan on March 1, and Russia, Vietnam, Trinidad, Peru, and Venezuela next weekend.

The film received an “A+” CinemaScore and played to a 55% male audience and 61% over the age of 25. Expect the film to have impressive legs and dominate the next month.

In second place was Peter Rabbit which earned an estimated $17.25 million for the three-day and is estimated to earn $22+ million after four days. The domestic total is $48 million after ten days.

In third place was Fifty Shades Freed, last weekend’s winner. The film earned an estimated $16.9 million for three days and around $19 million for four. The film also added $47.7 million internationally for a worldwide total of $268.9 million.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle added $7.9 million for the three days and an estimated $10 million for the four days. The film has earned $904 million worldwide and still has yet to open in Japan which happens on April 6.

Rounding off the top five was The 15:17 to Paris which brought in $7.7 million over the three days and an estimated $9 million for the four.

When it comes to other comic adaptations….

Thor: Ragnarok was in #29 earning an estimated $191,000 to bring its domestic total to $314.6 million worldwide.

We’ll be back in an hour for a further dive into 2017’s comic adaptation’s numbers and kick off 2018’s.

Movie Review: Fifty Shades Freed

fifty shades poster

Dear target audience for this movie:  you know that there’s porn on the internet, right? It’s free. And most of it has greater artistic and societal value than this boring abomination of a “film” which comes out at a moment where it feels particularly tonedeaf.

Normally I won’t rip in to a movie just because it’s not my cup of tea. When I made my Worst of 2017 list, I specifically pointed out I wasn’t including “easy dunks” like Fifty Shades Darker — which now, by comparison to this, looks like a goddamn masterpiece.

But this movie isn’t even sexy. It’s not even really that kinky. (And no, I’m not going to kink shame anyone here, either. You do you. And if you really want something fun [and comic-related!] and a little kinky, check out Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, which just came out on Blu-ray/digital — based on the true story of the man who created Wonder Woman and the women and kinky lifestyle that inspired her) And beyond being tonedeaf to the cultural moment we are in and the empowering of women in the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, the worst thing any movie can be is boring.

This is utterly boring.

It’s also garbage.

The film begins with the wedding of our two main characters, Anastasia Steele and the eponymous Christian Grey. And far from normalizing their kink by including it in the confines of their marriage, it makes it all the worse and all the more creepy because of all the societal baggage of chattel marriage of women being treated as property of their husbands.

Christian demands Anna not take her top off on a nude beach in France. He later “punishes” her for her “defiance” when she does. (More on this in a moment.) He gets angry when he tries to email her at her first morning back at work and her email address hasn’t been changed to “Anastasia Grey.” He’s also angry that she’s taking meetings with other men. She goes out for drinks with her friend instead of going straight home from work when he’s out of town. He polices what she is and isn’t allowed to wear because he doesn’t want other people looking at her. She’s not allowed to drive his sports car. He doesn’t want her to work, and constantly pulls her away from her career, playing up the fact that he owns the publishing house where she works, pulling rank as her “boss’s boss’s boss’s boss.” These are all classic warning signs and markers of abuse. Not kink. Abuse. Oh, but he makes it up to her when he buys her a mansion. Nice.

The film also has the distinct honor of ruining three of my favorite songs ever. David Bowie’s “Young Americans” plays in the background as Anastasia cooks Christian dinner, and he remarks how much he likes seeing her in the kitchen, to which Anna replies “barefoot and pregnant?” BARF. Do you remember your President Nixon? BARF AGAIN. (It also bothered me that Anna pulled a supposedly perfect medium rare steak out of the oven, put it on a plate, and Christian immediately cut into it and ate a slice– you need to let it rest for at least two to three minutes to let the juices redistribute or else they’re going to run out all over the plate instead of keeping the meat moist! You monster!! Oh, back to the music. . . )

Later, Christian sits at a piano and sings Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed,”  a song which could not be more tonedeaf. But, you guyz, he’s such a poor tortured soul, and he’s a lonely man in the middle of something that he doesn’t really understand. (F@#$ YOU, MOVIE for having all the subtlety of a jackhammer). Also, ahhem– we’ve never known Christian was a musician before, and suddenly he’s singing and playing piano? HE’S A TOTAL MARY SUE, YOU GUYZ!!! (I’ve said this before about other terrible movies from the last two months, but anyone who hated Star Wars deserves to go sit and watch this movie and be reminded of what a truly bad movie is.)

And then, the final ignominy, in a scene that is supposed to be sexy, set in Christian’s “Red Room” full of kink, he binds her up and tortures her as Bishop Briggs massacres INXS’s classic “Never Tear Us Apart.”

Torture and massacre are not words I use lightly. First, this version of the song literally takes the best, most dynamic parts of the song in the chorus and tones them down, as though Briggs maybe can’t match Michael Hutchence’s vocal dynamics? It sounds like a dirge. And this is the ultimate metaphor for the film– taking something awesome (say, sex) and making it absolutely awful and boring.

The important thing to remember is that at least we survived, and some classic songs, like, say, Depeche Mode’s ode to bondage and domination “Master and Servant” were never touched.

As for the torture. . .  this is not kink-shaming. [Minor spoiler alert, but srsly IDGAF I’m gonna spoil this movie here] In both this scene and another, Christian takes Anna’s “defiance” of his orders/wishes and then uses them as fuel to dish out and withold pleasure and pain. Specifically here, he uses a sex toy to take her up to the edge of orgasm and then pulls away, denying a climax as a punishment for not doing what he said.

She even invokes her safe word and scolds him that he wasn’t doing this out of love, but to hurt her. Ummmmmm. . .  yeah.

We’ve been telling you, Anna, for two and a half movies that Christian doesn’t respect you, your boundaries, your agency. And you think that now, just because you’re married, he’s going to get better?

Let’s get Rob Porter’s ex wives on the phone, and they can tell you how that turned out.

If anything, it’s worse being married, because now Christian believes he is entitled to Anna’s body and to police her full time. After all, he bought her! Errr. . . married her! It’s that sort of entitlement that is even worse in many ways. As Anna’s boss or boyfriend, she still could walk away. As Mrs. Grey, walking away mean losing everything, including her career. He’s still not getting consent for all of their activities, meaning what he’s doing is sexual assault. Not kink, but abuse.

But this movie plows right past spousal rape and abuse as though it doesn’t matter and makes it better because Christian can sweep her away to a romantic getaway to Aspen.

And herein is the second biggest tonedeaf part of this “film”– the conspicuous consumption and ridiculous lengths they go to in this movie to parade wealth and privilege around. It’s just sickening. It’s not cool how awesome and fast your sports car is. (And it’s SUPER gross you won’t let your wife drive it.)

The fact that this film is being released now (before Valentine’s Day? Gross) is the biggest testament to how tonedeaf it is. The cultural criticisms of the Fifty Shades books and movies has been out there for many years now. The fact that the producers of the film will choose to release it now shows they’re just as complicit in fostering a culture that degrades womens’ agency and value, not just in Hollywood but across the country, as those who empower monsters like Harvey Weinstein. They just don’t get it. And so you know what else they shouldn’t get? Your money. Or your time.

There are those who will say, “Oh, but I have MoviePass– I have to see just how bad this movie is, just like I had to see Geostorm or Winchester or Den of Thieves.” Yeah, this movie is not only not worth your money, it’s not worth your time. Even if you could see it for free, don’t.

Seriously consider any of the following as good alternatives:
[the aformentioned] Professor Marston and the Wonder Women – for the sexy times, the kinky times, and the comics tie-in.
The Shape of Water – This is a beautiful love story and an even more beautiful film. Go see it in theaters and see why it’s nominated for so many Academy Awards. I also like when she explains how the creature’s penis works.
Magic Mike / Magic Mike XXL – Again, for the sexy. You and your gal friends want to see something tawdry and fun? At least watch something shot well by the amazing Stephen Soderbergh, or even the just slightly above mediocre sequel.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi – It’s about to leave theaters, it’s such a great film, even if it isn’t really very sexy. But because “That’s how we’re going to win. Not fighting what we hate, saving what love.” Go see Star Wars again.
Or just go watch 2 hours of stuff on YouPorn or something.

But this is not worth your time or attention.

0 out of 5 stars