Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bottom Fives: Ewan McGregor Movies

Another round of 'great actor, bad movie' and this time inspired by my recent rediscovery of Shallow Grave I shall take a look at some of the terrible movies that feature Ewan McGregor.

I've had a soft spot for Ewan McGregor for quite a long time, he is Catcher Block from Down With Love to a certain extent; man's man, ladies man, man about town, people indentify with him which is what makes him so special.

Watching Shallow Grave it's hard to imagine that scrawny little kid would turn out to be a, largely, great actor. I'm not saying that he is faultless, or comparable to greats of the art form like Olivier or Pacino but he has been consistently impressive since 1994 in a series of smaller independent movies as well as making the jump to bigger Hollywood stuff.

Regular readers know of my preference for those small personal movies that make you think, over the shaking camera aesthetic paired with explosions and weak cliche that is so prevalent in Hollywood, but interestingly three of this five are not from America at all.

1. Rogue Trader (1999)

Co-starring somebody who I am going to have to turn my back on sooner rather than later, Anna Friel, this is a terrible, cliched, low budgeted biopic that sensationalised criminal financial behaviour and not in a good way. McGregor was actually believable as the type of character and put in an OK performance but I found the leap between reality and film to be way too big, there's no way Nick Leason was that charismatic.

2. Angels & Demons (2009)

I did actually watch this despite hating everything about the first Dan Brown book/movie. I was in the mood for something awful but this one just pushed it way too far, past so bad it's good and out the other side. By a country mile. I think everyone phoned in their performances for this movie. Have you seen Tom Hanks in anything recently? It killed his acting career.

3. Nightwatch (1997)

Riding high off his early success this disastrous generic remake of a Scandinavian crime movie has an incredible cast, but that's about all the positives I can draw on this one. Nick Nolte, Lauren 'Gilmore Girls' Graham, Brad Dourif, Josh Brolin, Patricia Arquette all feature, granted they mostly weren't that famous back then but still.

4. Eye of the Beholder (1999)

This movie stars Ashley Judd.

5. The Island (2005)

Oh come on, you've been coming around these parts for how long now? You surely didn't expect this steaming pile of Michael Bay to escape the list did you? The first half was great, the concept for the second half was great, the explosions, the hanging off of buildings, the helicopter crash, these things were not great.

Have I alienated any of you? Is there some fan of the original Danish version of Nightwatch who is going to tell me I was a little harsh on the remake? Got any suggestions for more terrible Ewan McGregor movies?


  1. Thank you!!!! I'm glad someone here acknowleges the fact that The Island like all of Michael Bay's movies since Armageddon have been nothing but steaming pile of elephant shit! It was essentially a big, bloated version of Logan's Run with B-movie storylines meshed in with product placement. Nothing in that film makes sense and the only highlight in that film was Steve Buscemi.

    And you thought I was going to Scarlett Johansson in her underwear was the highlight but I've seen her in her underwear in better films. Actually, a lot of them weren't very good.

  2. No, you pretty much nailed it. I actually haven't figured out what Eye of the Beholder is about and I've tried.

  3. Yeah, those are some shitty flicks haha.

  4. void - i would have been very disappointed if you had infact said scarlett johansen in her underwear. i certainly wouldn't spend 90 minutes of my life looking at still images of that so putting up with a michael bay film to do so for mere seconds would make you crazy. are you crazy? i didn't think so.

    kristiana - i watched it several times and still cannot work that movie out. im not sure the film makers actually knew. perhaps they didn't even read the novel it was adapted from?

    duke - well as a man with limited viewing time on your hands these days i recommend you stay well clear of these on those nights when you don't know what to watch.

  5. All actors I suppose have there good and bad films in their careers. Shallow Grave was superb. I saw it in theatre when released all those years ago and yet haven't found a copy on DVD locally as to watch it again.
    I agree with JoelB. Star Wars wasn't his finest hour but then the scripts were woeful so it isn't his fault as such.

  6. I know I am probably going to get shot down for this but I pretty much can't stand McGregor in anything these days.

    Loved Trainspotting, and Shallow grave but I have disliked most things since, apart form that one he did with Jim Carrey he was funny as hell in that one, what was it called????

  7. joel - i didn't need to mention those movies, isn't it a widely accepted fact that they weren't great?

    brent - way to defend him for star wars! you're right of course, all actors are gonna be in somehting bad every now and then. but as i've found over the last few weeks of doing these bottom fives some actors have hardly any bad films. al pacino and dustin hoffman have been particularly lucky over their careers i think.

  8. SL - the film youre thinking of is I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS. ive heard good things.

    i personally can't bring myself to watch TRAINSPOTTING and i can't really comment on his recent work as i dont think it's fair to expect him to put on a yankee accent for every role. needless to say, they aren't as enjoyable for me when i wince every time he speaks.

  9. I have a soft spot for this Scot, too (though not as much as another Scot Gerry Butler, ahah) Fortunately I've only seen one from your list, The Island, and it certainly is awful! I heard Cassandra's Dream was terrible also, that's the one by Woody Allen, though I'm still curious to see it.

  10. Your picks seem pretty accurate, from the ones I've seen. I think Cassandra's Dream is just outside the list, though if you were doing his worst performances it would definitely make it. He's just awful in that movie.

  11. Nice list. I really enjoyed Shallow Grave when I bought a cheap copy a few months back. Not as good as Trainspotting, though.

  12. ruth - is it the accents that do it for you? you've heard right about CASSANDRA'S DREAM but i couldn't bring myself to include a WOODY ALLEN movie. the pairing of MCGREGOR and FARRELL is bad.

    dan - WOODY ALLEN and LONDON seems to have been a pretty bad pairin, perhaps the city just inspires mediocrity?

    tyler - thank you, i was definitely impressed with SHALLOW GRAVE this week, i expected it to be something i incorrectly remembered fondly. i can't watch TRAINSPOTTING.

  13. It's a widely accepted fact that Star Wars isn't great? I didn't know that. Thought I was the only living soul thinking so.
    Whatever, the Brown films indeed weren't great. I liked the books much better.

  14. mette - i dont think you will find many people saying mainly positive things about the three prequels for star wars.

  15. I totally LOVED Jar Jar. Just kidding. Of the Star Wars prequels, I only really liked the third one, and only for the fighting at the end.

    I probably would have had to throw Ghost Writer in here somewhere. That was without a doubt the worst piece of crap I've ever seen and McGregor seemed unable to do anything (like drive a car) in a normal manner.

    As for Armageddon, I'd have included that in the list of Michael Bay's steaming piles, unless we're talking about it as the preeminent Aerosmith music video, it which case it comes out a little less stinky and lumpy.

    On a plus note, I've added the "subscribe to comments" feature on my site. It's WAY down at the bottom of the page.

  16. ALAN - i'd ban you from BBBG forever if you actually loved Jar Jar. I imagine you're pretty excited at the new edits Lucas has made to the original trilogy?

    i considered GHOST WRITER actually, but gave it the benefit of the doubt and plumped for something a little more obscure. i can't consantly hate on big budget movies you know.

    if there was a list of steaming piles of michael bay you'd be hard pressed to find more than 2 movies of his that weren't on it!

  17. You are absolutely, positively correct about The Island. Even if it was a perfect movie until the end (which it certainly wasn't), the fact that his character left all those clones to fend for themselves was one of the dumbest plot holes I have ever seen in a major motion picture.

    I actually have fond memories of Nightwatch, but it has been over a decade since I saw it last. I could be mistaken. Personally, I would have substituted Blue Juice for it on this list, but that's just me.

  18. brian - holy eff, i forgot that movie existed! a british surfing movie LOL. CZJ makes all movies bad surely?

  19. you obviously havent seen A Serpents kiss. There is no actor hot enough to sit through that.