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The Host

Director: Andrew Niccol
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Jake Abel, Max Irons, Frances Fisher, Chandler Canterbury, Diane Kruger, William Hurt

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The Host
Universal


When you combine the slipshod narrative, the emphasis on saccharine sentimentality, the lack of any real future vision (the aliens’ preferred mode of transportation? Cars, motorcycles, and helicopters decked out in shiny chrome) and the unsure nature of the series itself, The Host is/was doomed. It’s one thing to preach to the converted (the book did spend 26 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list), it’s another to reach beyond to tap into the mainstream. Twilight managed the feat because of its already established existence, as well as the on-again, off-again nature of Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson’s off screen relationship. The backers of The Host clearly hoped for more of the same. What they got, instead, was one of the worst missteps in modern moviemaking. Bill Gibron


 

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Generation Um

Director: Mark Mann
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Bojana Novakovic, Adelaide Clemens, Jake Hoffman

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Generation Um
Phase4Films


Here is incontrovertible and unsolicited proof that Keanu Reeves is master of his own destiny: no agent, no producer, no friend or relative could have reasonably convinced him to appear as a diffident, vaguely nineties-ish aging hipster who interrogates a pair of younger girls with a video camera in the lifeless Generation Um. No, this must have been something that Reeves really wanted to do. The result is like a behind-the-scenes feature exploring the making of the horrible documentary Winona Ryder was filming in Reality Bites, only without any of the characters from Reality Bites to make it remotely enjoyable. It aspires, I think, to be a generational statement, but it’s actually a very specific one: these people are deeply, irretrievably boring. Jesse Hassenger


 

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CBGB

Director: Randall Miller
Cast: Alan Rickman, Malin Åkerman, Freddy Rodriguez, Stana Katic, Richard de Klerk, Rupert Grint, Justin Bartha, Joel David Moore, Johnny Galecki, Donal Logue, Ashley Greene, Taylor Hawkins, Mickey Sumner

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CBGB
Unclaimed Freight Productions


If it was possible to sue from beyond the grave, CBGB would be in court for the rest of its sad, short, miserable cinematic life. Affronts to musical genres aren’t as hapless or hopeless as this awful expression of the punk movement in ‘70s New York. Actually styled as a biopic of club owner Hilley Kristal (played with all the passion of a paycheck casher by Alan Rickman) and his quite accidental role in giving a fresh faced cultural uprising a grimy, grungy home, what we get instead is celebrity impersonations by actual celebrities. Want to see Ron Weasley ape Cheetah Chrome? This is your film. How about Silk Spectre doing her best (worst) Debbie Harry? That’s here too. If you ever envisioned ‘the bruddahs from Queens’ as awkward, laugh worthy jokes, CBGB will provided such contempt and then festoon it with dog shit just to drive hope the point (Kristal pooch had a habit of using the club as its own personal toilet). Bill Gibron


 

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Pain and Gain

Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub, Ed Harris

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Pain and Gain
Paramount


“Directed by Michael Bay” aren’t words you want to see connected to any story based in reality; just look at Pearl Harbor. So it is with this frenetic take on a stranger-than-fiction tale of some Florida gym rats (Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie) who want to bypass the whole working-for-it thing and just grab the American Dream by kidnapping a rich guy and extorting him for every penny he has. The casting is spot-on and the story rich with potential, but Bay’s slobbery love of beer-commercial sunsets and sub-frat-boy humor sucks all the fun out of it well before it starts in on the excruciating torture scenes; played for a joke, of course. Chris Barsanti


 

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The Starving Games

Director: Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer
Cast: Maiara Walsh, Brant Daugherty, Cody Christian, Nick Gomez, Lauren Bowles

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The Starving Games
Ketchup Entertainment


Yes, they still exist. Yes, they’re still painfully unfunny. No, there’s no sign of them going away anytime soon (their next target is supposedly the Fast and Furious films, though one wonders if the recent death of Paul Walker will put the kibosh on that). As representatives of the under-10 ideal of humor, lampoon lickspittles Friedberg and Seltzer seem desperate to destroy any ounce of a reputation they once had by channeling pop culture quips and bad acting through the most mundane and mediocre avenues possible. Could a spoof of The Hunger Games work? Probably. Is this laughless excuse for entertainment euthanasia it? Not by a braid dead long shot. Bill Gibron


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