Mega Python vs. Gatoroid (2011) – Given that Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus (2009) relied entirely on the novelty of (a) the title and (b) the stunt casting of Debbie Gibson (a flavor of stunt that was mimicked in the next year’s Mega Piranha starring Tiffany), Mega Python vs. Gatoroid follows the same formula-slash-shtick: Low-rent CGI creatures, plus a catfight between Debbie Gibson and Tiffany! What’s missing is any discernible level of Give A Crap. The plot is plodding, the characters are unlikable, and of the entire special effects, there is a single prop snake egg that isn’t lousy CG. I’m all for milking a lucrative trend — these people are trying to maximize ROI, after all — but when the trend made money in the first place solely on novelty, there is a mathematical limit to how many times you can return to that well.
The Great Wall (2016) – The nine-days’-furor over Matt Damon starring as Token European Hero in a historical fantasy about the Great Wall of China made about as much sense as the general uproar over Jackie Chan starring in Rumble in the Bronx (hint: sarcasm, ‘cuz there wasn’t one). It’s just a dumb popcorn movie that tells us up front, “TOTALLY NON-HISTORICAL,” then puts the smelly-but-rugged European together with clean Chinese warriors of both genders in color-coded armor like medieval Power Rangers, in order to fight an arbitrary alien creature horde that the Great Wall was designed to keep out. There’s a perfunctory by-the-numbers character arc for Matt Damon, and waaay too many subtitled scenes in which a character then translates into English what was just said in Chinese (and we just read).
9 (2009) – As much as I dislike anything with Tim Burton’s fingerprints on it, he’s only credit here as one of four producers (plus two co-producers and three associate producers). And Johnny Depp has no role in it. But as much as I wanted to like it, this story of a goodhearted ragdoll (voice of Elijah Wood) wandering a post-apocalyptic wasteland, arguing with other ragdolls and accidentally reviving the mechanical intelligence which made the wasteland in the first place is remarkably unsatisfying — it’s built around a mystery that simply isn’t answered in the end, nor is there anything that really qualifies as a “conclusion”; if this had been a live-action movie, I would just assume that the production had run out of money and had had to cobble together a non-ending a la Albert Pyun’s Knights (1993). And, of course, the ragdoll that’s both instinctively reactionary and authoritarian clothes itself in the appearance and behaviors of religion (voiced by Christopher Plummer, who went on to play essentially the same character in Priest (2011)).