2022 Top Ten… Blandest Movies List (Number 5 Will Bore You to Tears!)

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I’ll open by apologizing to my half dozen fans for the lack of snooty film critiques recently (by which I mean, since 2021). At various points throughout 2022, I intended to sit down and pen proper reviews for films I actually enjoyed such as Barbarian and The Black Phone, but alas, I lacked conviction. The reasons for my lack of attention to my snooty film critic persona are simple. First and foremost, most of my time and energy when it comes to writing these days have been devoted to serious writing, not film critiques no one reads (any agents out there looking to represent a sci-fi novel? How ‘bout two?). Second, I’m a lot healthier than I was when I first began this venture – I seldom drink anymore and I quit smoking completely (yay!), so the persona I cultivated of an alcoholic, chain-smoking, basement-dwelling, embittered film critic now seems strange and alien to me. Finally, I see so few contemporary movies nowadays, and most of the ones I do end up seeing are too nondescript for words. Hate to say it, but 2022 presented some of the most boring, forgettable, overhyped, uninteresting, nondescript, and unmemorable movies I can barely remember watching.

In order from least boring to most boring, they are:

10) Dr. Strange: Multiverse of Madness

“Shame on you,” you say, dear reader. “You, a known Marvel dismisser, willingly seeing a Marvel movie and expecting it to be of interest to you!” First off, I didn’t willingly see it – not entirely, anyway. I was hanging out with a friend, there was nothing to do, it was on Disney+, and he wanted to watch it. Such was the state of my ambivalence that particular Tuesday evening that I couldn’t summon the energy to object, and thus it was that I watched Dr. Strange: Several Adjacent Universes of Oddness (at least, I was present in the room for it – I barely paid attention). At any rate, this is almost as forgettable as the first movie, with the sole exception of a lovely ten-minute sequence in which Dr. Strange supernaturally possesses his own corpse from another dimension and harnesses the shadowy souls of the damned to serve as his cape. That shit’s straight outta Evil Dead and reminds me just how much I miss classic Sam Raimi. Otherwise, there’s little remarkable about this obligatory sophomore outing for the great Benny C.’s Sorcerer Supreme. Elizabeth Olsen is now a bona fide villain (a turn to the Dark Side I realize happens semi frequently in the comics), which I suppose is why Chiwetel Ejiofor didn’t return… or did he? (I’m being serious – did Chiwetel Ejiofor come back for this??? I actually can’t remember). At any rate, this was fairly nondescript and there’s barely even a multiverse to justify its title. And so…     5.5/10

9) Mad God

This is sort of a cheat, because Mad God technically came out in 2021; however, I didn’t see it until 2022 and I needed another movie to round out my top ten, so there. I’ve been a fan of stop-motion animation my entire life – I practically wore out my VHS copy of Chicken Run as a kid, Robot Chicken dominated my teen and college years, and Isle of Dogs is one of Wes Anderson’s finest creations. As such, I was quite looking forward to visual effects guru Phil Tippett’s long-awaited stop-motion horror, which famously took him thirty years to bring to life (that’s almost twice as long as it took Richard Linklater to poop out Boyhood!). Unfortunately, the results, while certainly visually impressive, were less than enthralling. As you may recall, pre-Phantom Menace George Lucas once publically remarked, “A special effect without a story is a pretty boring thing,” and therein lies the rub. There is no relatable story here to invest in, only a stream of lurid, disjointed nightmare sequences that feel stitched together from different fever dreams Tippett once suffered, presumably after ingesting some bad acid. You can present me with the most mind-blowing special effects in the industry, but without a relatable character or a story to engage with, the effort is sadly wasted. While Mad God is a testament to Tippett’s prowess as an animator, it sadly lacks a cohesive story and therefore failed to keep me engaged.     5/5

8) Thor: Love and Thunder

Though it took a while, 2017’s Thor: Rapscallion eventually grew on me, due in no small part to Taika Waititi’s signature visual energy, colourful infusions, and overall sense of fun. In light of how surprisingly enjoyable the third Thor ended up being, I admit I expected more from Rainbow Love and Thunder Butts than I normally do from Marvel movies. Unfortunately, there just isn’t much to latch on to here – not even effort. There’s a distinct lack of enthusiasm in this tacked-on fourth outing for Marvel’s increasingly boneheaded God of Thunder, and Waititi seems to be attempting to compensate for his barely-veiled disinterest in his own movie by stuffing every scene with the sort of repetitive jokes that were popular on the Internet sometime back in 2013. Characters have a habit of leaving the room with a forced quip, only to return ten seconds later and stand awkwardly in the corner while other characters continue the scene, and any tension Natalie Portman’s cancer subplot could have achieved is undercut by weird ‘comedic’ asides involving portable speakers and semi-explicit descriptions of alien orgies. Though I generally love Waititi’s work (particularly Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Jojo Rabbit), one of his problems as a director is a lack of restraint, as evidenced in the four or five episodes I watched of Our Flag Means Death earlier in 2022. Like James Gunn (whom I’ve held in high regard since Slither), Waititi needs to be reigned in and kept from indulging himself, otherwise we end up with fourteen straight minutes of screaming goats. Oh well. At least we got to see the Guardians of the Galaxy…     5/10

7) Uncharted

I remember almost nothing about 2022’s Uncharted movie, so I’ma do my best here… Tom Holland plays Drake Uncharted, a junior treasure hunter who moonlights as a bartender and amuses himself by pilfering patrons’ jewelry, and Mark Wahlberg plays Mark Wahlberg, who wants Drake’s help to steal… something. Because I can’t adequately describe the plot, I’ll paraphrase the narrative description sung by Kermit the Frog and friends in 1981’s The Great Muppet Caper – “There’s spectacle / there’s fantasy / there’s derring do / and stuff like you would never see…” (the fact that I can clearly remember song lyrics from a Muppet movie I haven’t seen since I was eight but not a hundred-million-dollar adventure movie I watched last summer is a sad indictment of today’s motion picture industry). One of the inherent problems with adventure films involving quests for mythical macguffins is that centuries-old clues and mysteries are generally deciphered by our hero roughly seven seconds after he steps into the secret chamber and glances at the hieroglyphs. The Indiana Jones films largely sidestepped this issue by having the trails to the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail mostly charted save for a few vital pieces, and the National Treasure movies benefited from having Nicholas Cage steal the Declaration of Independence every other scene, but I seem to recall that the Uncharted crew unravelled the mysteries of the Thing They Were After before they even read the clues, which tells you pretty much all you need to know concerning the pacing. Also… was Antonio Banderas in this???          5/10

6) Lightyear

Pixar had a pretty good run, didn’t it? While competing animation studios such as Dreamworks were pretty hit and miss (for every Shrek and How to Train Your Dragon there was a Shark Tale and a Bee Movie), Pixar maintained a consistent level of quality for damn near twenty years (with the exception of maybe the Cars movies). Sadly, it all seems to have been downhill since Inside Out. Finding Dory and The Incredibles 2 represent an overreliance on spin-offs and sequels, Onward was almost as tedious as playing DnD, and Soul was actually doing pretty well for itself until it became a bizarre body-swap comedy. Even Toy Story 4 fell short of the magic of its predecessors. Now we come to Lightyear, a directionless attempt to cash in on an established IP that completely misses the point of what made Buzz Lightyear cool to begin with. A title card establishes that this is an in-universe movie that kid Andy was obsessed with in the original Toy Story, but this framework results in some fairly glaring retroactive plot holes, namely that Emperor Zurg is apparently neither an emperor nor the sworn enemy of the Galactic Alliance (never mind the fact that there doesn’t appear to even be a Galactic Alliance present anywhere). When I was Andy’s age, my own television obsession and Star Trek gateway was Disney’s traditionally-animated series Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, which took its dynamic space rangers on daring interstellar adventures week after week. Besides being bland, these space rangers are neither dynamic nor daring, giving up in despair at the first whiff of adversity and relying on their emotions instead of their wits. You want a real Buzz Lightyear movie that actually utilizes Tim Allen’s voice? Watch the direct-to-VHS Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Beings (and be sure to let me know how it holds up).     5/10

5) Antlers

Again, this is a bit of a cheat, because this supernatural horror about a wendigo or something was released in late 2021, but I didn’t see it until January 2022 and nobody’s interested in reading a Top Eight List. Truth be told, the primary reason I include it here is because it perfectly epitomizes the Nondescript 5 rating on the Patented Snooty Ratings Grid – it’s so perfectly nondescript that I barely have any recollection of watching it, so I might as well not have. Keri Russell presumably stars in this movie about a skin-walker or something that stalks the woods around a small Oregon town and somehow ends up trapped in an attic being nurtured with roadkill by a neglected child (the skin-walker, not Keri Russell… though for all I actually remember it’s possible she ends up in the attic gnawing on raccoon bones too). Oh, Jesse Plemons factors in the plot too, but for the life of me I can’t recall how. He’s either a police officer, a postal worker, or Todd from Breaking Bad. I’ve said it before, but the worst sin a movie can commit is to be dull – even the most atrociously bad movie you’ve ever seen is memorable in its own way, but a movie that completely fails to imprint on your brain represents nothing but stolen time. So, do yourself a favour and watch something more interesting and upbeat than Antlers, like reruns of Felicity (hey, remember when Keri Russell changed her hairdo???).     5/10

4) The Bad Guys

Speaking of Dreamworks, I actually have trouble grasping why The Bad Guys was so well received by critics (88% on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of writing this blurb, which frankly confounds me). Granted, the animation is next level – I’ve been highly impressed with the direction animated films have taken since Into the Spider-Verse back in 2018, with the highly-stylized hybridization of traditional and computer animation becoming more and more commonplace. Everything in The Bad Guys looks amazing, I’ll readily concede, and while it certainly has a leg up on Mad God for actually containing a story, I’m afraid it fell short of my standards by being too dumb for words. We’re presented with a world in which a select minority of anthropomorphic animals live alongside humans, which wouldn’t necessarily be a problem except that the mere sight of our titular bad guys triggers mass hysteria in the human populace (who oddly don’t seem to be bothered by the fact that their mayor is a fairly foxy lady and their beloved philanthropist is a talking hamster). Our Bad Guys carry out elaborate bank heists for fun and are able to blend into society perfectly whenever the script calls for it by donning hats and fake mustaches (there is a recurring joke that the walking shark is a master of disguise, except that all the characters are clearly demonstrated to be masters of disguise, so it’s not really a unique skill). The humor is fairly juvenile, channeling those plonking Minions movies that somehow won’t go away, and the animation has this weird anime aesthetic to it that somehow looks out of place. For these and other reasons I can’t quite put my finger on, The Bad Guys rubbed me the wrong way – the only reason I’m giving it a 5 and not a 3 is because I mentally clocked out after the first act out of sheer embarrassment because it was my idea in the first place to watch it with friends. And before you accuse me of hating animation in my early onset old age, I’ll have you know I recently rewatched Tangled and it was bloody delightful.     5/10

3) Scream

The fifth installment of the Scream franchise (sadly not stylized as 5CREAM) was a movie I’d very much been looking forward to, even when I learned it would be premiering in January (where studios traditionally dump their garbage). Aside from the lackluster third installment, the Scream series has actually fared pretty well compared to other horror franchises – where the Nightmare on Elm Street films got progressively goofier with each outing (especially by the fifth installment) and the Halloween movies started sucking ass shortly after the first one, the Scream sequels stayed mostly good (I suppose it helps that there were only three of them prior to this soft reboot). I even liked Scream 4 (sorry, SCRE4M). Besides perhaps Nancy Thompson, Sydney Prescott is arguably the best representation of the final girl archetype in the entire genre (whether Clarice Starling and Ellen Ripley count as ‘final girls’ is something I’d be happy to debate) and Ghostface is one of the most iconic slasher villains ever created (though my number one remains Freddy Krueger). Sadly, after a promising first act, the plot very quickly gears down, resorting to the same old tropes, clichés, and conventions that the first Scream films satirized so effectively. The new generation of characters lack the spark and presence of Billy Loomis, Stu Macher, Randy Meeks, and Tatum Riley, and some of the legacy characters are done dirty (spoilers, but Officer Dewey deserved better). Worst of all, I don’t even remember who the killer was or if there was more than one. It’s no surprise to me that Neve Campbell announced she’d be bowing out of Scream 6 (S6REAM?) and I hope for her sake that Courteney Cox follows suit.     5/10

2) Jurassic World: Domination

As my long-time reader will surely recall, I devoted about ten or twelve pages each to dissecting exactly what didn’t work about Jurassic World and JW: Fallen Kingdom on a narrative level, and because I’m both a traditionalist and a completionist, I fully intended to do the same for Jurassic World: Dumbination. Unfortunately, dear, sweet, loyal reader, I have literally nothing to say about this movie. The first Jurassic World had a lot of meta-commentary it tried to articulate concerning industry excess, empty spectacle, and escalating consumer demands, and Fallen Kingdumb was such a steaming dino turd that I could probably write a master’s thesis on why it was so stupid (in fact, I kind of did), but this one? I got nothing. This movie is boring – more boring than Jurassic Park III, which feels downright sentimental in retrospect. Like Fallen Kingdom, this movie is also loud, dumb, and ridiculous, but not so loud, dumb, and ridiculous that it’s able to hold your attention. Part of this is the hack n’ slash editing and frenetic cuts – even the chase sequences through Cairo (Rome? Valleta? Madrid? Where the hell were they?) somehow manage to be less exciting than a day drive through Saskatchewan. The main plot doesn’t even involve dinosaurs, but freakishly big, genetically-engineered crickets and the characters’ desperate attempts to stop them before they consume the world’s dandelion population, or something. That’s right – the dinosaurs in this dinosaur movie are incidental, which is kind of like a disaster movie where all the twisters prevent the characters from filing their taxes. Oh, it’s also like three freaking hours long, and lemme tell ya they’re painful to endure. I actually can’t begin to express how mind-numbingly boring, forgettable, uninteresting, nondescript, and unmemorable this movie really is, so I won’t.     5/10

1) The Batman

Speaking of something being three painful hours long… yeah, I’m really sorry, everyone. I realize I belong at the forefront of an infinitesimal minority that wasn’t taken in by Matt Reeves’ Batman reboot and that naming it Blandest Movie of the Year will likely spark Internet riots, but what can I tell you? This movie bored me to sleep. Believe me, no one’s more disappointed than me. I wanted to like this movie. I really, really did. Dismissive as I am of comic book properties, my enthusiasm for the Batman franchise has not waned much since my middle school days. The animated series was my jam, Hush and The Long Halloween remain some of my favourite graphic novels (and I’ve read almost six!), and the Arkham Asylum and City video games present my ideal depictions of Gotham and its colourful cast of costumed crazies. So what’s not to love about The Batman, you ask? My problem isn’t the stellar cast (though I would have liked a little more range from Pattinson, who definitely took a few steps backward into brooding downer territory after delivering some solid, eccentric performances in both The Lighthouse and The King), it isn’t Michael Giancchino’s appropriately moody score, and it certainly isn’t Greig Fraser’s gorgeous cinematography. It’s the pacing. This. Movie. Is. Slooooooooooooooooow. Shots linger on open doorways for upwards of twenty seconds before Batman finally clomps into the room. Whenever Catwoman or Commissioner Gordon pose Batman a question, he frequently pauses for ten seconds or more before mumbling a reply. There are numerous shots of Batman staring at things silently for so long that it starts to get awkward. There is so much dead space in this movie that you could probably shave off an entire hour simply by tightening up each scene. This movie is so long and so slow that I actually forgot at one point that the Riddler was the main villain. I recently rewatched The Dark Knight and was a little surprised at how briskly-paced it is – the dialogue is delivered pretty quickly and without a whole lot of pauses in between or reactions to let information sink in. But then, Christopher Nolan had a lot of information to pack in and knows how to maximize his time efficiently. Unfortunately, Matt Reeves seems just as interested in adapting the time elapsed between the comic panels as the action captured inside them.     5/10

And that’s it folks – my top ten blandest movies of 2022. I saw other films last year, for sure, some of which I’m still quite enthusiastic about, but I’m afraid with my busy work schedule, active social life, and philanthropic endeavors, I won’t have the time to write up a proper top ten for 2022…

Or… will I???

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