Winter movie season is an odd time; while there's the energy and buzz of Oscar season, there's also the reality that, for about a month, the big chain theaters are only showing a limited amount of "classy" product, leaving big holesto be filled by more commercial, pandering efforts.
It is, in short, prime time to drop some of the season's biggest dogs into theaters, in hopes of making a quick buck.
You neveer know when these dogs might strike. Thanks to Halloween, fall and early winter are rife with cheap and tacky scare flicks, but it's also a great time to release forgettable romances or counterprogram with cheesy, should have gone to DVD action flicks.
Roll them all together... and you have a good example in Twilight: New Moon.
When I started the "Worst Movie Ever" category, I figured finding one would cover it; I may have muddled taste at times, but surely nothing could compare to the atrocious effort expended on Romance and Cigarettes. Just the title, still, makes me shudder. But occasionally, my middlebrow urges and willingness to be seduced by pretty faces, poor plotting and promises of slight smut lead me to foolish choices.
Mostly, they're just dogs. But sometimes... there's the dogs... and then there's the abyss. Or The Abyss.
Ninja Assassin is merely your average dog. Full of the promise of Hong Kong style martial arts violence and dark tales of hired killers, Ninja Assassin is merely silly, overblown and badly written hash. Things pretty much go south from the get go, in a badly written prologue in a Tokyo gang lounge, when an old tattoo artist tells the young gang members of dangerous ninjas... who promptly show up and kill one and all. The difference between this ham handed sequence and the prologues of better, darker films is like the difference between a designer gown and a cheap polyester knockoff - opbvious, garish, and shrill.
It's pretty much downhill from there, as we follow a young "Europol" (I'm guessing "Interpol"... but who knows) investigator who reports to her boss on the existence of ancient ninja warrior clans (nine of them, we're told) who kill for money - 100 pounds of gold, to be exact. At the same time, we meet a rogue ninja warrior and discover, via flashbacks, his tale of being trained in the ancient ways of the ninja, and how he came to go out on his own.
By the time of the climactic final battle - something about flames, kicking, nunchuks and killing your ancient master - I could hardly keep my eyes open, and for all the shots of spurting blood and severed limbs and torsos, Ninja Assassin 's least interesting moments were its shadowy, pointless fight sequences. Which is saying something, since the dialogue between major characters in the quieter moments was pretty much laughably bad.
In these things, it's best not to single out performers for career missteps, but Ben Miles, as the lead Europol detective, seemed like especially bizarre casting, while Naomie Harris as the Europol investigator mostly made me feel sorry for her taste in scripts. About the only thing worth the price of admission was solo named "Rain" as the lead ninja, blessed with a soulful look and a killer bod (his inverted pushups on a bed of nails made for an impressive physique display), who almost managed to make the preposterousness seem compelling, but mostly this was a forgettable embarrassment. Best to say... don't bother.
On the other hand, Transylmania easily qualifies for Worst Movie Ever status. An unfortunate mashup of bad vampire cliches, monster movie nonsense, dopey mistaken identity business, sleazy softcore and teen sex comedy hijinks, Transylmania (oy, that title!) was just stupidly, gobsmackingly jaw-droppingly awful - and apparently, it's a sequel! A vampire film with literally no bite, a horror film with no ablity to scare, and a decidedly unfunny comedy,, the film purports to be the hilarious tale of misadventure when a group of lazy, smutty coeds travel to Eastern Europe for a semester in Transylvania.
Not even armed with the kind of second rate B movie nerve to revel in its tacky, low budget energy, Transylmania is pretty much a catalog of stupid, offensive bits done badly and filmed so poorly as to amaze. Directing? nonexistent. Acting? If that's what you call it. Even the flashes of sleazy, Z-grade toplessness are more sad than offensive, a reminder that an "R" rating is also used to also lure hapless teens to try and get around authority to see the "naughty" bits.
The kind of film you either slink out of the theater in embarrassment, or proudly walk out of with a knowing look, Transylmania may not have the slumming A list stars of Romance and Cigarettes, but I felt just as dirty, just as robbed, and just as bludgeoned into dumbfounded awe. I really did watch that last night. And I'm not looking for your pity, or your sympathy... I'm just trying to save you. Woof.