No New Level X
- Stranger Than Fiction – this is a film full of amazing little touches. My favorite, and it was my Mother’s favorite part as well, was when the author, who wrote her manuscript on an old typewriter and had no additional copies, gave the manuscript to the main character to read.
- Ice Age: The Meltdown – this is one of those films that is massively influenced by my son’s love of it. It moves to awesome because it is awesome in the eyes of its intended audience.
- Thank You For Smoking
- V for Vendetta
- The Departed – I am neither the first nor the last person that will point out that this was by no means Scorsese’s best (Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The King of Comedy, Goodfellas to name 5 off the top of my head) still this movie mostly works and is for me the first thing I ever saw Leo in that made me think he may actually have real talent. It drags and there is nothing truly revolutionary in it, but is still really good.
- Casino Royale
- Underworld Evolution
- Eight Below
- 16 Blocks – a movie that got lost in a torrent of so-so Bruce Willis movies, this one stands out a bit, and would certainly typify the “Pleasantly Surprised” level.
- Mission Impossible III
- Over the Hedge
- Cars – Pixar may be the only group where you feel guilty for giving the movie anything less than “greatest animated feature ever” status.
- The Devil Wears Prada
- Monster House
- John Tucker Must Die – I know, it looked really bad if you were anyone other than a teenage girl, but it was surprisingly entertaining even if the plot wasn’t surprising at all.
- Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
- Accepted – yet another attempt to be “this generations Animal House” (one comes out nearly every year) Justin Long manages to pull this movie up from as bad as it should be. In many ways that is why Accepted is a perfect example of a Level VI film. I am not claiming that this movie is necessarily better than some films on Level V, but I expected nothing from this and was then surprised how much I enjoyed it.
- The Prestige
- Deja Vu
- Turistas – if you don’t like horror than don’t watch this movie. It is tepidly disturbing but maintains good pacing and requires less suspension of disbelief than most films of this genre.
- Rocky Balboa – comically ridiculous premise given Sly’s age, but this is the one character that he seems to be able to play perfectly.
- Night at the Museum
- Children of Men– there are those who think this film was brilliant, I am not one of them. However it is thought provoking and Michael Cain is really good in a supporting role.
- Last Holiday
- Stick It – not quite Bring It On, but I thought the closest of all those who have attempted it … and it has Jeff Bridges and he is the man (check out my Level X list on the front page and see if you see a pattern).
- The DaVinci Code
- X-Men: The Last Stand
- Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Man’s Chest – for everyone who complained it wasn’t as good as the first one I would simply retort, what made you think that it would be? It was a by the numbers Pirate movie built to set up the final chapter (which now isn’t the last one since they are making a fourth film).
- Clerks 2
- My Super Ex-Girlfriend
- Miami Vice
- The Descent
- The Guardian
- Open Season
- Borat …
- Flushed Away
- Santa Clause 3
- Blood Diamond
- The Holiday – I’m sorry, I liked the Jack Black/Kate Winslet story line.
- We Are Marshall
- Nanny McPhee
- Failure To Launch – this is in the middle of Sarah Jessica Parker going through a phase of trying to play charecters she was really too old to play and she doesn’t have the vava-voom to play (no offense, she is fit and attractive, but not jaw dropping, change my life on first sight god looking)
- Lucky Number Slevin – yet another self-aware, trying to be super cool, pseudo action film.
- The Black Dahlia – I wanted to love this movie because I found the true story fascinating, but it is hard to make a movie about an unsolved crime (see Zodiac).
- Employee of the Month – obviously this is damning praise, but this is actually my favorite Dean Cain headlining movie.
- Eragon – you know a movie failed when it is the first film based on a very popular book series and they never even talk about making any of the successive films.
- BloodRayne – a lot of failed comic book adaptations fall into this category. They can’t seem to find the right tone between comedy drama and action and they really struggle with how seriously they need to take themselves and how closely they need to mirror the “source material”. This has all those flaws and one more on top of that, it just isn’t good (truthfully this could just as easily be a Level II).
- The Sentinel -action? Not really. Political thriller? Sort of. Espionage? I guess, some. Boring? Absolutely.
- Poseidon – why Kurt? Why would you do this to me, to the world, to all the fans of the original? How did you manage to make an “action” movie that both over does the drama and over does the comedy and under does the action? It seems impossible, but there you go.
- The Break-Up rom-com where nobody likes each other and you can never see why anyone ever liked anyone else. War of the Roses showed brilliantly a couple come together and blow apart, this movie makes it hard for you to believe they were ever together to begin with.
- The Lake House – I think if any other actor had been the male lead this movie would have been a romantic comedy, but since Keanu is incapable of comedy we are left with a dopey movie taking itself wayyyyy too seriously.
- Superman Returns – let’s face it, Superman as a film character suffers a fatal flaw. As Jerry Seinfeld pointed out, he must be the dumbest super hero alive. He has too many powers, he is too invincible and winning should be too easy. Still we try to make it serious in points, talking about his isolation and loneliness and it doesn’t work. Richard Donner made two great Superman movies, the original Superman which is his “origin” story and Superman II where he has to face beings as powerful as he is. Every other Superman movie has failed. The irony of all of this is that the “source” material has provided you with the ultimate Superman movie, The Death of Superman (which, by the way, is the highest selling comic of all time). Make that movie and for the love of you know who please stop making these awful Superman movies!
- Snakes on a Plane
- The Covenant
- Man of the Year
- The Shaggy Dog
- She’s the Man
- Basic Instinct 2
- The Benchwarmers
- Friends with Money
- Just My Luck
- Nacho Libre
- The Wicker Man – understand, all the movies in Level II are awful, but The Wicker Man bears mentioning for the movie (and there seems to be one each year) that makes you wonder if they actually knew what they were doing. I call this the Conan award in honor of my economics teacher in High School who said he had seen Conan the Barbarian 10 times and he would keep seeing it until he figured out if it was the worst movie ever made or the greatest and most brilliant comedy of all time. I haven’t given The Wicker Man quite that much attention yet, but maybe I should.
- Deck the Halls
- Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny
- Van Wilder 2: Rise of Taj
- The Pink Panther – for shame Mr. Steve Martin. Understand that this is the ONLY movie in the last 5 years that I have put in this category. YOU CANNOT REMAKE THE PINK PANTHER! That is akin to repainting Picasso, it is a sin against the universe and we are all worse for it having happened. If you think I am exaggerating think of it this way, a generation of kids will be introduced to the pink panther through this and I promise you it will have scarred and tainted their minds so that they will NEVER truly appreciate the genius of Peter Sellers in the original films. That is truly a sad thought.