The Worst Movies of 2020–The 2020 Flickmetic Movie Awards
Sometimes you just watch some stinkers.
I don’t enjoy being negative. Even though I make silly articles about the conflict between fans and critics–or fans and fans–and occasionally give negative reviews, that doesn’t mean that I enjoy taking a dump on someone’s creation. I would much rather celebrate the positive than run something into the ground. But the internet beckons, and the internet loves this stuff. So I give you the five worst movies of 2020.
5: Da 5 Bloods
My list begins with a controversial pick but I will extend an olive branch and say that the second half is better than the first. I will break that olive branch by then adding in that the second half was still not good.
Da 5 Bloods is the tale of a director who should know better. Spike Lee is a legend in the industry but there are some awful choices made here. For example, the atrocious musical selection that often zapped the scenes of all drama or emotion. Or maybe there’s the terrible editing that relies way too often on awkward transitions (I’ve seen this in some of his other movies). It occasionally feels like a bad TV movie and the editing comes across like a mediocre YouTube video.
I often defend militant commentary because there’s no perfect way to get your message across. Sometimes subtlety is king but sometimes blunt force trauma is necessary. Even for Spike Lee this goes too far. I just don’t believe that he was right for this story.
4: The Grudge
The Grudge is an example of a horror movie that doesn’t put forth the effort to earn its jump scares, instead believing that you could just throw them out there with no real build and have them be effective. They are not. It doesn’t help that I have never been scared of the throat noises.
There’s a good story to tell here but it makes me think that I should just watch the original Ju-On after all these years. Ultimately The Grudge is truly and undoubtedly terrible mostly because it’s just another boring horror movie. And yet, sadly, it is still better than the first American version. What a legacy this franchise has.
3: I Am Vengeance: Retaliation
I Am Vengeance: Retaliation is a sequel to an entirely forgettable movie and I watched it because I figured I might as well see this through. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this is one of the most anti-climactic action movies that I’ve ever seen.
There are so many scenes and moments that don’t move like they should, leading to a poorly paced flick. Chase scene coming? Nope, the guy just appears and goes willingly. Cool fight scene coming? Nope, the guy just goes willingly. When the action decides to occur it’s basic at best and dumb at worst–stand there and shoot, don’t hit anything, spout a stupid one-liner, repeat.
Why do I do this to myself?
2: Jiu Jitsu
This may not be a surprise to anybody because seeing Nicolas Cage’s named attached to anything is reason to be cautious. He’s an actor that can be really great–like he was in Mandy a few years ago–but he usually makes schlock.
Jiu Jitsu has uninspired action choreography that lacks any degree of impact or oomph. The acting is bad across the board, with Cage hamming it up in an unpleasant way. The script is not not organic and involves people basically just yelling plot points to further the story; it does the bare minimum narratively, relying a lot on conventions without adding any unique flavour. On top of that, the music is bland and repetitive, making the fighting even worse.
If you want to see me go into more detail about Jiu Jitsu then you could always read my review.
1: Last and First Men
This one hurts. Jóhann Jóhannsson was a composer that I greatly admired and this was his directorial debut. He unfortunately passed away in 2018 and so Last and First Men was released fully a couple years after his death. I should have loved this one, and intended on doing so, but this was a huge disappointment.
To the uninitiated, Tilda Swinton narrates over the course of the seventy minute runtime. Jóhannsson juxtaposed her words with black and white video of monuments and other relics of a lonely world. Its aim is similar to a movie like Koyaanisqatsi in that it’s just meant to showcase memorable imagery with music–and in this case words as well–placed over it. That means that it is, by design, a slow-paced affair–which I’m okay with. However, it just feels like the opening five minute exposition of a regular science fiction movie stretched out to seventy. Swinton narrates a story that might be interesting if the film itself wasn’t so laborious.
Here’s the basic formula: slow pan/zoom on images/architecture that are occasionally beautiful but usually similar–or identical in some cases–and linger way too long on them. Repeat that process until you have taken any of the mystery or elegance out of what is presented on screen, but still have Swinton mouth pseudo-philosophical nonsense in an attempt to regain that original intrigue that has long since passed.
The only compliment I can give it that doesn’t also come with a “but” is that the soundtrack–also composed by Jóhannsson and a couple others–is fantastic. It’s minimalist and if there was more going on in this movie it would also be affective. Unfortunately the rest of the film drowns the score.
I actually feel bad about this one. I don’t know what other year in recent memory had a movie that was so designed to be my thing but ended up failing so spectacularly. With that said, I do hope Jóhannsson rests in peace because in my eyes he’s a legendary musician and I will always revisit his wonderful soundtracks and other compositions. I wish we could have seen more of his directorial efforts because despite my dislike of this, I can see the potential for greatness in that realm as well.
He recommends Jóhannsson’s album Orphée.