Stinkers of 2005.
Including the 11 movies I screened at the Portland International Film Festival, I saw 45 in all last year. Of those, I went in thinking maybe five were likely to be subpar. Thanks to Metacritic, I can pretty much avoid the Giglis of the world. And yet even with that, a few of the so-called "good" movies were stinkers. I know art's subjective, but I'm sticking with my appraisals: these stunk; avoid them.
March of the Penguins (Metacritic* score: 79) - In one sense, this movie didn't stink. It was actually remarkable that director Luc Jacquet and his crew got any footage at all--the emperor penguins they filmed live on the harshest, nastiest, coldest spot on Earth. Presumably, they weren't imported back to a sound stage in Paris for the filming.
Then again, I'm not totally sure. Everything else about this "documentary" felt totally contrived and manipulative, from the dulcet toddy of Morgan Freeman's slick narration to the overwrought anthropomorphizing of the penguins' plight, to what seemed, frankly, like false facts. It's called a documentary, but that's wrong--it was a childish tale of love, inspired by true events.
Star Wars, Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith (Metacritic score: 68) - Critics generally agreed that the final installment of the Star Wars franchise was the best of the latter-day three. The Washington Post's Stephen Hunter declared it "brilliant consummation to a promise made a long time ago, far, far away, in a galaxy called 1977." (For which he should be fired and barred from all theaters in perpetuity.) It was marginally better than the overtly racist Jar Jar Binks installment, but only because Jar Jar has been muzzled. Let us sample from the buffet of dialogue, as one example of the deeply disturbing flaws in this film:
Anakin Skywalker: Master Windu, I must talk to you.And
Mace Windu: Skywalker. We have just received word that Obi-Wan has destroyed General Grievous. We're on our way to make sure the Chancellor returns emergency powers back to the Senate.
Anakin: He won't give up his power. I just learned the terrible truth. I think Chancellor Palpatine is a Sith Lord.
Anakin: You are so... beautiful.Furthermore, any movie with these names does not deserve serious attention, nevermind your nine bucks: Mace Windu, General Grievous, Count Dooku, Darth Sidious, Captain Typho, Commander Cody , Sio Bibble.
Senator Amidala: It's only because I'm so in love.
Anakin: No, it's because I'm so in love with you.
Amidala: So love has blinded you?
Need I go on? I won't: the beast is dead, may it rest in pieces. (Anthony Lane provides one of the most amusing dismantlements of a movie I've ever heard, should you wish to hear more piling on.)
Me and You and Everyone We Know (Metacritic score: 76) - This was apparently a film school project that someone recovered from the trash. I have rarely seen a movie that had less to do with actual human behavior than this (Star Wars excepted). It is about a bad artist who is trying to capture the attention of a local art gallery with her painfully personal art. Which is also the description of the director and this film.
The Chronicals of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Metacritic score: 76) - (Hmmm, I'm beginning to wonder if there's a correlation between movie titles and quality.) I have several problems with the film, but they're trifling in comparison to my overall aversion to this project. The CGI was amateurish, and Aslan (the lion standing in for Christ) was terrible (especially compared with Kong, who appeared at roughly the same time). The movie was clunky and the kids were for the most part unengaging.
But what was really bizarre was the tale itself, which I recall loving at age 8. It's like the American dream's evil opposite: four kids of apparently royal bearing come to save the world for beings unable to do it themselves. But not just that they were incompetent and needed a good moral king--they were literally unable to do it without that moral king, thanks to some magic curse, or something (like the fairy tale's KGB). So in ride a bunch of kids, the oldest about 12, to slay big baddies. They each one instantly become great fighters, and legions of extra-human beings worship them as sovereign. It is a seriously psychedelic premise, one the entire world overlooked because of the beloved children's novel that, apparently, also charmed them when they were eight. That's no excuse.
*That's an aggregate of all the reviews Metacritic tracks, usually 20-40 for nationally-released movies, scaled from 0-100, where 0-40 are "generally negative reviews, 41-80 are "generally favorable reviews" and 81-100 are "universal acclaim."