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Here are some less-noted but circumstantial cases of theft (needless to say, I will disregard the comically blatant cases of hackdom and save Avatar and the Turkish Superman knock-off for another list). Let the indignant outrage and incredulous comments ensue.
For simplicity's sake I'll exclude the 'lesser' film.
To attempt to rank the list from most irredeemable to merely stupefyingly awful is beside the point, each film is horrendous in its own unique way, all deserving of their rare "one star" rating. They are not "so bad they're good," they just suck. This is a crash course in incompetence.
O Lucky Man! (1973)
"Scattershot" is Being Generous
Most of the counterculture films of the period have the feel they improvised on the fly and are horribly self-indulgent. But where some hare-brained films like Easy Rider can win you over through the characters, soundtrack, technique, or dialogue (never mind that Easy Rider campfire diatribe, the Fifties were just as crappy as the Sixties politically), this film is dated and borders on cheesy. For some reason there is a guy in black face, because, it was metaphorical or something. Again, it's a counterculture film, they can make eccentric choices and film scholars can explain the brilliance of the casting choice later, that's their job. Also, the soundtrack is a huge part of the film, so if you don't like it, you will probably be annoyed. After the third song you will realize whether it will grow on you or not.
It's hard to say that the film really works because the message is broad and unfocused. I don't think it is saying anything. The film is so absurd, erratic, and uninterested in developing characters you get the impression they either worked to fill out the plot by brainstorming ideas in all-nighters and intentionally shrugged off narrative or character arcs, or they filmed six hours and this was the most coherent cut they could salvage. Rarely do you invest three hours in a film and are left utterly apathetic to the character, who he is, why he is, or what it all means. You'd mistake this for a light-comedy for the ease this guy falls ass backward into willing sexual partners, but it isn't funny. However, satire, is too strong a word, so it just hovers awkwardly in the gap between.
The film has an edge, the only reason Warner Brothers supposedly authorized it was the success of A Clockwork Orange but oddly it is not really shocking or entertaining though that was surely what it was going for. It doesn't date very well, most "edgy" farces don't. I have to reiterate, this whole production has the feel of a director who keeps saying "hit me" to the dealer on 18, and each time gets a seven.
Jerry Lewis invented the "trick" ending and for some godawful reason the avant-garde community has never let go. I can't really say more without getting into spoiler territory, but the ending pretty much ends up justifying your suspicion that you've wasted your time watching a bunch of people have fun in front of a camera, instead of filming a movie.
52 Pick-Up (1986)
Surprisingly Good For A Cannon Picture
The acting, dialogue, and casting was about perfect for this material. The big Hollywood studios apparently wouldn't accept this script so Elmore Leonard had to go to Cannon (a.k.a., that company made all those horrible films in the Eighties). It has the feel of a low budget film, with a lot of rising stars, falling stars, people bumping into the camera by accident, and a director long past his prime, but it holds up pretty well. There's not one stereotypical L.A. landmark or establishing shot, the film is better than to try and look generic.
Clarence Williams is a believably scary murderer, and the other villains equally repulsive and hateable in their own unique ways. If any character is underwritten, it is the protagonist and his wife, who just seem boringly bland and familiar, but that is sort of inevitable in these types of movies where everything hinges our needing to identify with the victim.
The film is entertaining as any other genre piece of the era, by far one of the better crime dramas of the Eighties, and easily the best of Cannon's direct-to-video cheapos. I'd have liked it even better if it had stuck to its strong suit and went all in with its dark humor (as the film was flirting with the entire run-time but never committed to). The ending was kind of predictable, maybe other films have over-used the idea since but it doesn't date well. Seemed like a throwaway climax.
Wrong Is Right (1982)
Almost A Classic
This is an unusual film in that that the satire is razor sharp and doesn't age a bit, but the film doesn't work at all. There are a few decent gags, but the film is ragged and not terribly funny. The movie doesn't know whether its wants to be a comedy, a serious drama, a caper, or an action flick. And it doesn't do any of them that well, which is a shame because the film had a lot of potential. Instead Connery pretty much plays the lead role as a kind of pseudo-James Bond, or Mike Wallace on steroids. I'm not sure if the tone of the film was a script decision or a corporate one. You'd think they'd go the Kubrick route not The Pink Panther direction. But maybe the filmmakers were trying to avoid precisely that comparison. I'd love to ask Richard Brooks just that. An interesting and long-forgotten novelty, it's watchable solely for curiosity's sake. But heck, even a mediocre Connery movie is worth your time...except Highlander II.
World War Z (2013)
Good Zombie Adventure, Decent Action Flick, Mediocre Thriller
The zombie genre is dangerously overexposed at the moment. For the last ten years filmmakers have churned them out, in what is mostly motivated by the basest of financial considerations. Luckily World War Z takes the zombie concept in a slightly different direction than traditional films. In the same vein as 28 Days Later, only on a global scale, WWZ is arguably the culmination and most fitting depiction of the concept of the "Zombie Apocalypse," and one hopes its final reiteration. While it is too deeply flawed to really recommend to anyone outside zombie and action fans, the zombie genre couldn't hope for a better send off.
The film is reminiscent of Steven Soderbergh's Contagion only much less dull. Though Contagion had the advantage of having an interesting antagonist, it also got bogged down telling one too many personal stories. In the end, Brad Pitt's central character, as unrealistic and epically significant he is in WWZ, is compelling enough to hold our attention. This movie doesn't really necessitate a bad guy, though a little more characterization might have helped. There are some good cameos I must say, but Pitt is what holds together this shambolic travelogue of a story. And considering the situation, his blunt exposition never seems forced. His character's simple mantra and guiding survival tactic (always keep moving) defines the attitude of the film. No one could accuse this reworked script of being too talky, that's for certain. As action sequences goes, it is quite striking.
But the film's problems are evident in its generic clichés and predictability. Brad Pitt's character is essentially a superhero, which in any other movie wouldn't be a problem however in a movie that stresses gritty realism and a foundation in hard science it just seems awkward. One scene in particular will test your suspension of disbelief, and maybe even ruin the film for you. As I mentioned before, the film was adapted from the book of the same title, and its ending reworked at the last moment. Whether the new ending played better than the original we may never know, but the tonal shift from bombastic to more subdued climax makes sense. The film would have been well served to provide us the opportunity to absorb and process what we seeing more often.
My only real complaint is that it never differentiates itself from the rest of the genre in any meaningful way, content to rely upon established zombie mythos and imagery found in any video game or B-horror. Though initially shocking in their animalistic disregard for their own bodies much like some swarming insect, the film none the less makes use of countless stock grayish, growling zombies, last-second escapes, and flickering fluorescent lights. In the decade since the masterpiece that was 28 Days Later, nothing in the zombie formula has really changed; good enough proof that the zombie phenomenon should probably cut its losses while it's still ahead.