The year of meh

Some movies are good, some movies are bad, and some movies are neither good nor bad. While not without its highlights, 2008 wasn’t exactly an outstanding year for movies. It was our year of “meh.”

Here are our picks for the most mediocre movies of 2008.

By Adam Clarke and Colin Browne

X-Files: I Want to Believe
Director Chris Carter

Adam: With all the talk of faith, the film practically becomes an inspirational kitten poster except it’s a pedophile priest hanging from a tree saying “hang in there, baby” whilst bleeding from the eyes.

Colin: Movies about television shows are tricky, and often mediocre. X-Files is no exception. That said, the film succeeds in presenting a unique interpretation of the series that doesn’t rely on obsessive viewer knowledge. Some unnecessary subplots and cringe-worthy dialogue about looking into the darkness can be forgiven when weighed against the impossibly odd storyline, which offers a few surprises.

The Incredible Hulk
Director Louis Leterrier

Adam: When we finally get to see Hulk, he’s still an unconvincing CGI model, and it takes him forever to do anything. The only plausible non-Ferrigno Hulk would’ve been if you had an angry Bruce Banner transform into the late Wesley Willis covered in green paint.

Colin: Incredible? You be the judge. Ok, I’ll be the judge. On a scale of “Dyspepsia” to “Incredible”, I give this film a “Relatively Subdued.”

The Astronaut Farmer
Director Michael Polish

Colin: Billy Bob Thornton is an ex-air force pilot named Charlie Farmer who builds a rocket-ship in his barn… Twice! He takes his kids out of school and puts them to work, nearly destroying his family in the process. Throw in perhaps the most inexplicably-located government inquiry of all time, a hilarious bit of dialogue about Tang flavour crystals and you’ve got yourself a film that is extremely overlit, but would be a decent viewing experience for the family.

Adam: It’s so saccharine that prolonged exposure to Billy Bob Thornton’s precocious kids may lead to diabetes. Still, when the film takes a break from its after-school special tone there are a handful of funny lines.

Paranoid Park
Director Gus Van Sant

Colin: While a huge step up from the abysmally awful Last Days (2005), Paranoid Park offers little content beyond its visual splendor. Based on the novel by Blake Nelson, Van Sant takes another turn at becoming an American Robert Bresson with this story of a young skateboarder who kills a security guard. The kids look great and the photography is beautiful at times, but does not serve to compliment the story in any way. Techniques which built effective tension in Van Sant’s previous work (Elephant, Gerry) here feel forced and unnecessary. How many times can we watch the same dull tracking shot of the same kid walking down a hallway or changing his shirt before reaching for the fast forward button? If your answer is more than three, you just might love this film.

Doomsday
Director Neil Marshall

Adam: I really want to give Doomsday a passing grade, I really do. Neil Marshall’s a smart director and has shown real style and story-telling in his other features, and it’s obvious from every frame that he intends this post-apocalyptic tale as a loving tribute to John Carpenter and George Miller. Sadly, the film is as structurally sound as a drawbridge made of cotton candy and children’s wishes. Bored with the virus storyline with the “Snake” Plissken stand-in? Don’t worry, the film quickly becomes a ren fair take on Apocalypse Now when Malcolm MacDowell shows up. Then it becomes a car commercial.

Step Brothers
Director Adam McKay

Adam: Sometimes this movie is worthy of its cast and sometimes it’s not. It’s a great concept for a comedy, so it’s a shame the film doesn’t fully live up to it.

Colin: This is a sometimes funny, sometimes irritating movie with Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly acting like jackasses. If you like that idea, you know what to do.

Ghost Town
Director David Koepp

Colin: Ricky Gervais, downright ulcer-enducing star of the UK version of The Office makes his debut as a leading man in this romantic comedy and the results are, not so bad. Gervais is hilarious as usual, but the material doesn’t offer him a lot of room to maneuver. The plot is full of movie clichés and while the performances and writing are quite good, the film suffers from pandering to its audience, which should consist primarily of first dates and bored couples. Still, the laughs are there, and if you like Gervais, this film should not invoke a mass burning session of your extras DVDs.