It’s that time of year again, friends. Check here for the 2014 list.
As always, my list is half a “most disappointing” list and half a “these movies are truly awful shit” list.
Not trying hard enough. That is the MO of the Divergent movies. That said, Insurgent was an improvement over Divergent, which felt like an episode of The Outer Limits that was half-baked to capitalize on the success of other dystopian– well, we all know that’s pretty much exactly Divergent‘s (referring to the series) relationship to The Hunger Games as films (and probably as books). They are certainly trying harder, but the premise is still thin, the characters still shallow, and the best action and drama still take place in simulations. Albeit, with a bigger budget this movie was able to do some cool visual things. Try telling the difference between Naomi Watts in this movie and Julianne Moore in Mockingjay though. Just try. Though it wasn’t one of the best movies of 2015, similarly opportunistic The Scorch Trials is a much, much better movie and while just as stupid, remembers to work at convincing the audience of the reality of its setting and characters. Insurgent is still very much a house of cards cut from the back of cereal boxes.
I know it’s supposed to be kinda pretty but shallow, but that kind of bored me to tears in Cinderella. It’s a better film than Alice in Wonderland and suggests Disney might eventually get somewhere with these very faithful live-action adaptations of their animated catalog. I also know a lot of people loved this movie for its simplicity and optimism, and I wish I could have felt the same way. In a year where empathy and optimism and simple capacity to give a fuck have really been strong thematic currents in the best movies, it’s heartening to also see it in the year’s worst movies. Cinderella has much aesthetic appeal, but that’s never been enough for me to love a movie unless the plot, dialogue, and performances get out of the way of it. Cinderella is a story we know told with superficial beauty but with no substance and very little real flair.
8. The Peanuts Movie
Another optimistic, well-meaning movie that winds up incredibly boring. The Peanuts Movie kind of lost me with its plot, really, which the movie itself seems only sort of half interested in anyway. I understood that Charlie Brown would eventually learn the folly of his ways, but of course it comes as an easy validation of all the stuff about him he doesn’t much like at the hands of a girl who is a MacGuffin instead of a character. It’d be nice if New Girl had a character arc of her own, a parallel story or something, but instead it’s endless attempts by Charlie to do the kinds of things Redpillers advocate in pursuit of Woman-as-Object/Achievement. In the end, all his bullshit leaves aside his kind heart and generosity, which are the real virtues. However, did we need an hour and a half of episodic rambling to tell this story in 2015? It’s an old story, and one that requires a new approach to be interesting. Unfortunately, The Peanuts Movie is completely old fashioned except in terms of the technology used to make it. I’m sure that will appeal to some, but not yours truly. This is basically Judd Apatow For Kids.
Every so often, Pan threatens to become interesting. Often, it’s beautiful on a visual level and does incorporate many cool ideas with horrifying implications. However, the movie is not interested in these ideas. Instead, it’s interested in a hip revisionist retake on the Peter Pan mythos. That’s fine in concept, but winds up being a completely DOA “chosen one” narrative with rare flashes of more. This means that you can see the better movie lurking just below Hugh Jackman’s hairpiece, putting this more on “how could this be so bad?” level. I mean, the narrative choices are just lazy. Peter Pan is the subject of a prophecy, there’s magical powers, and you can literally smell the sequel-bait ending coming. That’s leaving aside the somewhat problematic nature of a white Princess Tigerlily. The movie somewhat addresses the idea that the “Natives” are multiracial, but it’s still a white princess guys. That said, the fact that the Natives explode into poofs of colorful smoke when they die is pretty entertaining.
6. Fantastic Four
I was a bit soft on this movie due to how much hate it was receiving. The hate was overly fierce, but that doesn’t mean Fantastic Four was any kind of success. It’s half a good movie, half a terrible and misshapen one. That qualifies it for my “but the potential was real” criteria for Worst movies. I don’t know if Josh Trank was in over his head or Fox lost their nerve or if this thing was doomed from day one because it was just made to retain rights. It doesn’t really matter. It squanders the potential completely by the end, making it a disappointment but at least one that everybody saw coming. This is one movie I think will find some fans who are willing to overlook its flawed second half. I won’t, but that doesn’t mean I refuse to acknowledge all the stuff about it that does work. Back when I saw it, I thought the characters were pretty strong for whatever that was worth. However, I did acknowledge that they were shallow (though this is common in action, superhero, and genre movies in general) but it took Star Wars: The Force Awakens to show what can be done with little time and apparent effort by a master. Comparing what Fantastic Four accomplishes with much more time and space for a smaller cast vs. what The Force Awakens does with less time, more characters, and way less narrative space… it’s frankly embarrassing for Fantastic Four.
5. Terminator Genisys
Speaking of embarrassing. Honestly, Genisys isn’t like Transformers level terrible but it’s pretty uninspired anyway. Arnold is about the only one having a good time as things explode, people run around rehashing better movies, and John Connor inexplicably becomes another new stage of the Terminator line. And man, that is getting pretty ridiculous. The technology creep is pretty crazy over at Skynet. Some of the shoutouts in this are cringey, others are fine, but mostly the movie is one huge shoutout and that is ultimately what makes it a waste of time for all involved. Especially Jai Courtney who should just fire his agent and go on vacation for like two years so that the world can stop being sick of him. Come back and do a Jim Jarmusch movie or something, Jai. Change your fucking name. Also, I don’t think this movie does Emilia Clarke many favours either. She is pretty good on Game of Thrones but she’s no Linda Hamilton and seems completely out of her league in Genisys. Thankfully, I think most people hated and/or ignored this movie so it’s unlikely we’ll ever be subjected to a sequel.
4. Fifty Shades of Gray
Yes I saw it. I wish I didn’t have to relive this but I believe in a world where reviewers can review without regret. Er. I dunno what I’m trying to say and neither does this movie. At worst, it’s a very fucking overstuffed story of masculine entitlement as the apotheosis of female desire. I know that people are into BDSM and there’s a lot of cultural misunderstandings about it, and apparently Fifty is very much in keeping with that. And yeah, I can see being mad if the most mainstream artifact that proposes to be of your subculture is this fucked up on consent, gender politics, and sexual identity. The most honest review of this movie would just be a list of all the preposterous shit it implies, depicts, or claims. There is some token resistance to idea of Christian Grey’s live-in sex puppet, but ultimately it’s just a screen for how damaged he is on the inside and how the love of a good Mary Sue can penetrate it. I think Dakota Johnson is much like Kirsten Stewart in that she’s probably a very talented actress (there’s evidence of it here) that is now saddled with this franchise that will probably define her career. Leaving aside all its other offense, the worst thing about Fifty Shades of Grey is that it is excruciatingly boring and that’s not because it isn’t cinematic or poorly made. It’s because the story itself cannot sustain it’s stuffed running time. There’s just not much going on here. If you’ve seen the trailers, you’ve seen everything you need to except maybe some boobies and digitally inserted pubic hair. You read that right. They did that.
Jeremy Piven’s constantly mutating hair has more wit and substance than this movie. It’s total douchebag wish-fulfillment. The only nice thing you can say about it is that at least it’s not apologizing for being douchebag wish-fulfillment. As much as I like Mark Wahlberg and don’t really blame him for how this once-promising (or at least entertaining) show ditched all integrity to become basically the bullshit trip that idiots think The Wolf of Wall Street was. In other words, this movie does not address the audience’s culpability in enabling these fuckers. Nor does it satirize their extravagant lifestyles and shallow self-interest. It’s a complete distillation and celebration of “bro”. If you ever wondered what people mean when they talk about “bros”, barely trying to conceal their raging contempt, just watch this movie. Or better yet, fucking don’t.
Oh yeah. The “Is George Clooney playing a pseudo-pedophile?” movie. I consistently manage to almost forget this movie. Almost. I still think Britt Robertson is going places, but hopefully not more movies like this one. Usually I’m able to enjoy movies that have very different or opposed politics to my own, but I draw a line at Tomorrowland‘s shallow nihilistic futurism. Probably because futurism is a dear subject to me and I’m irrevocably biased or something. Oh well. This movie still says that only a secret cabal of Men of Industry are capable of setting a course for the world. This is the kind of movie that would give Wall Streeters a hard-on if they put their fucking phones away long enough to watch it with their awful kids.
Now I can’t say the above photo was taken at the exact moment LeBron realized how large his role in the movie was (someone probably explained it to him) but I can say that the above photo is not a still from the movie. The worst movie of 2015 is also it’s most crushingly disappointing. I fucking love Amy Schumer. I do not love Judd Apatow but I kind of tolerate him sometimes. Matched up, I thought “hey this could be great” but it’s not. It’s a rehash of every movie Apatow has ever made (because he only seems to have one idea) with tiny little intermittent splashes of Schumer’s “brand” labouring beneath the Sauron-like omnipresence of LeBron James to make this movie a fun or interesting experience. It is neither of those things, but it will probably appeal to the same people who like every other shallow, paint-by-numbers comedy that comes out. There may be a sense that my reaction to this movie is disingenuous on some level, since I’m always calling for more roles for women, more stories that would normally feature men to try women instead. Trainwreck does do this. Yes. That is a feather in its poorly-advised cap. Now that I’ve said so, I will say no more. Except that I wish this had been a road movie about Tilda Swinton and Amy Schumer’s characters with occasional appearances by
LeBron James Ezra Miller’s character.
So endeth the list. Another year down, another small list of movies I hated for various reasons. I will post my Top 15 in the next day or two. I’m way more excited about that list, as is normally the case. Still, it’s fun to kind of revisit these horrible, horrible movies and rethink them or (for the first time sometimes) articulate my thoughts. Fun for me, anyway!
And just so you know, Jurassic World and Ant-Man very nearly made this list. Lucky for them I subjected myself to Fifty Shades of Grey and Pan recently.
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