Being a Hollywood screenwriter is a thankless task. Not only do you have to write a whole film, you have to, like, write the words what the people say, too. All of them. In a row. Which can sometimes be, like, totally hard.
Sometimes writers are so busy fixing story gaps and character arcs and plot holes they forget to make their dialogue not terrible. What follows are the 10 most heinous examples of woeful dialogue from films released this year. [Note: There may be some mild spoilers ahead for people who haven't seen the movies yet.]
The movie: Man Of Steel
The line: "There is only one way this ends, Kal. Either you die, or I die."
Why it's just the worst: Because for all of General Zod's raw power and channelled rage, he still can't count for toffee. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the choice of Superman dying or Zod dying sounds very much like two ways the situation could end. But then, there's no time for grammatical semantics when you're being punched through a building.
The movie: The Counsellor
The line: "The truth has no temperature."
Why it's just the worst: Because it's written by Cormac McCarthy: 80-year-old literary legend, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of No Country For Old Men, The Road, Blood Meridian and some of the finest American novels of the modern age. But this? Cod-philosophical twaddle. The truth has no temperature? Oh yeah? Well, a lie has no scent. A whisper has no colour. A burp has no Facebook page. We could go on. Where's my Pulitzer?
The movie: Diana
The line: "So hearts can't actually be broken?"
Why it's just the worst: Because in a movie packed full of atrocious dialogue, this line is the most dunder-headed, suggesting that the Princess Of Wales has a less-than stellar understanding of aortic valves. Other contenders include Diana telling her heart surgeon lover Hasnat Khan "I know I've been a mad bitch," Khan's claim that "You don't perform the operation; the operation performs you," and his odd, vaguely Partridge-esque romantic ultimatum: "If you can't smell the fragrance, don't come into the garden of love." Right-o.
The movie: G.I. Joe: Retaliation
The line: "I'm the quicker blower-upper, baby!"
Why it's just the worst: Because it comes from the mouth of esteemed actor of film and stage Jonathan Pryce, yet sounds like it was written by an eight-year-old playing Call Of Duty on Xbox Live. Pryce's pseudo-President gets the pick of Retaliation's duff dialogue, including such memorable lines as "They call it waterboarding, but I never get bored," and, with a straight face and everything, "The Joes are out of the picture. And by 'Out of the picture,' I mean, 'Out of this earth.'" I think he means they're dead.
The movie: Riddick
The line: "I'm gonna go balls deep in Dahl… [to Katee Sackhoff's character] but only because you ask me to, real sweet, like."
Why it's just the worst: Ugh. UGHHH. There's simply no need for Riddick to be such a horrible letch. We already know he's a space-faring badass of the highest order, killing with gay abandon and capable of surviving on a desolate planet. So why the unnecessary misogyny?
Could we have done without Riddick apparently 'turning' Sackhoff's lesbian mercenary in the movie's final scenes? Yes. Could we have done without Riddick's comment that the colour of her toe-nail polish "matches your nipples"? Yes. Could we have done without Riddick full stop? Yes.
The movie: Bullet To The Head
The line: "Guns don't kill people. Bullets do."
Why it's just the worst: Sylvester Stallone has spouted some stinkers in his career, but this is easily one of the worst. His hitman – named Jimmy Bobo, which is hilarious for unintended reasons – attempts a bit of wry humour with a spin on the old 'Guns don't kill people' line, but chooses to be super-literal with predictably unhilarious results. If you want to get technical, Mr Bobo, it's not the bullets that kill people, it's their heart stopping that usually does it.
The movie: Elysium
The line: "I know why the hippo did it."
Why it's just the worst: Look. I get it. It's a very tender moment between a doomed man and a sick young girl, using the metaphor of a children's animal storybook to illustrate the meaning of friendship and teamwork. The tale of the meerkat and the hippo is not in dispute, it just doesn't exactly seem like the best choice of badass one-liners for Matt Damon to sign off with. Rule of thumb: if you're about to sacrifice yourself for humanity, think of something awesome to say and steer clear of hippos, meerkats and animals in general.
The movie: After Earth
The line: "Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist."
Why it's just the worst: Geez, who invited Frasier? M Night Shyamalan's sci-fi has its fair share of clunkers, but this attempt at amateur psychology from Will Smith's character takes the cake. Though it can't rival the kind of mindblowing truth-bombs found on his son Jaden 's amazingly pretentious Twitter feed (sample tweet: "Trees Are Never Sad Look At Them Every Once In A while They're Quite Beautiful") it does unfortunately sound like it's being read directly from New Age self-help manual.
The movie: Rush
The line: "We're like knights!"
Why it's just the worst: This line, excitedly delivered by a never-cockier Chris Hemsworth playing F1 driver James Hunt, hits the nail on the head so hard, the entire wall falls down. It's a symptom of having Oscar-winning scribe Peter Morgan write your movie: symbolism is hammered home not with a wink or a nudge but with a slap in the face. We've spent the entire movie with Hunt and Niki Lauda, watching them clash on the track like knights of old… it's just nobody needed to actually say it. Besides, saying you're like a knight is totally not something a knight would do.
The movie: Star Trek Into Darkness
The line: "My name is… KHAN!"
Why it's just the worst: It's not so much the line, which is pretty innocuous, or the way it's delivered by Benedict Cumberbatch, which is only mildly ridiculous, but what the line represents. The pause before the big reveal – which everybody had already guessed about six months previously anyway – serves no purpose to the story whatsoever, acting only as a nod to fans who are already aware of the character's history in the older films. In terms of the story, the fact that John Harrison isn't in fact John Harrison but some bloke named Khan means nothing to Kirk and co. That dramatic pause is purely for our benefit and stops the movie in its tracks like it's fallen out of warp speed.
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