Friday, September 7, 2012

11 Ways to Avoid Bad Movies

Just like physics bad movies must follow certain laws. Most movies have some redeemable quality, but every now and then you come across a movie that is unwatchable. So if you want to avoid spending $9.00 on a bad film then you must follow the rules.

  1. Trailer - The film's trailer is the best indicator of potential awfulness. However, I have been fooled before, as have many of you. Hollywood pays marketing experts millions of dollars to fool us. This means you may have to determine the film's quality in other ways. 
  2. Ridiculous Title - If the film's title is ridiculous, this is typically (although not always) a sign that the film will be equally ridiculous. Case in point, 'Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.'
    • 'Snakes on a Plane' is the exception.
  3. Inappropriate music in trailer - When a film is set in medieval times, but has rock music in its trailer, this is another indicator of a possible stinkfest.
    • The remake of 'Conan the Barbarian' is a perfect example.
  4. January Release - Unless you're Liam Neeson, a January release is typically a death nail.
  5. Bad casting - When Jeremy Renner is cast as a character named 'Hansel,' the movie is in trouble. Don't get me wrong, I love Jeremy Renner, but not as a man named Hansel. You might as well call him a boy named Sue. 
    • Case in point, Vin Diesel as a nanny in 'The Pacifier' or George Clooney as Batman.
  6. Storyline - If the synopsis of the film reads: "15 years after their traumatic gingerbread-house incident," it's not looking good.
  7. Bad directors - Make sure you check out the director's IMDB profile. If the director is Uwe Boll or the brothers who directed 'Alien v. Predator: Requiem' (not to be confused with the original 'Alien v. Predator,' which was halfway decent), the film is all but guaranteed to be bad, regardless of the previous rules of thumb.
  8. Budget cuts - If the film's budget has been cut significantly, prompting named actors to drop out, then watch out. One example is the recent medieval film, 'Ironclad,' which went straight to video after extensive cuts.
    • This is why the sequel to 'The Chronicles of Riddick' may be in serious trouble. I could be wrong, but we'll see.
  9. Last minute changes - Most films that require a major rewrite, reshoot, or casting are in trouble.
    • This makes me think that the new 'Robocop' is in trouble. Hugh Laurie has officially dropped out of the remake, leaving a big hole in the villain category. 
    • There are exceptions to this rule. Eric Stoltz was originally cast as Marty McFly in the 'Back to the Future' movies. As we all know the 'Back to the Future' films became Michael J. Fox's signature role.
  10. Bad Writers - Similar to bad directors, make sure you know who penned the film. This is perhaps the most important indicator. If the writer has ',' 'Alone in the Dark,' or 'Ghost Ship' on their resume, then skip it. Every now and then there's an exception.
    • For example the Hoeber brothers wrote the atrocious 'Whiteout' then turned around and wrote the cheeky spy thriller 'Red.' But then they wrote this year's blockbuster bomb 'Battleship,' so perhaps 'Red' was a fluke.
  11. Lost in translation - Every culture has its nuisances. I'm sure it's difficult for a director to direct a film about a culture other than their own. British, Canadian, and Australian directors seem to translate easiest to American audiences. This is no doubt due to the English language and other cultural similarities, but some directors who cross the pond don't translate well to American audiences. Whereas some directors excel in intermixing their cultural perspective with the American one.
    • A perfect example is Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn, director of 'Vahalla Rising' and 2011's high art crime drama 'Drive.' Refn made a near flawless transition with 'Drive.' 'Drive' was the perfect blend of European art and American ruggedness. Another good example is Lars Von Trier, director of 'Melancholia.'
    • An example of a not-so-flawless transition is 'Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever,' directed by Thailand native Wych Kaosayananda. 'Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever' was so bad that Kaosayananda never worked again. Yet another example is Claudio Fragasso, director of 'Troll 2.' Although I'm not sure if 'Troll 2' should be on the list. 'Troll 2' has quite a cult following. Sometimes movies are so bad they're good, but that's a whole different category.


  1. It does have potential to suck. I'm hoping Renner picked a good script. Maybe it will be like the Underworld moves and surprise us with a good January release.

  2. Not giving this one much of a chance. I mean it has a colon in the title, which to me indicates Lifetime TV or SyFy.

  3. I like the deft manner in which you handle your material in this post-I laughed a lot as I read it. Very perceptive.

  4. Alex-- I'm with you. I certainly hope so. The director is the same guy who did 'Dead Snow,' which was half-way decent.

    Melissa-- Ha, I never thought about the colon in the title. That should have gone on my list!

    Paul-- Ha, thanks! I'm glad.


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