It’s that time of year again, friends. Check here for the 2015 list.
As always, my list is half a “most disappointing” list and half a “these movies are truly awful shit” list. I didn’t see that many bad movies in 2016, the first half of which was overloaded with small good movies and big bad movies. I struggled to make ten which either means I am getting softer as I age or I’m just not seeing enough movies anymore.
2016 has been a dogshit year for most things, but not for cinema. It’s been one of the busiest years of my life, though, which is why these lists are harder than usual. Ever since I went back to school I’ve had less time to commit to hobbies that require a lot of energy… this blog counts, believe it or not! As a result, I’ve written fewer reviews and if writing is memory than there are just way too many gaps in my memory of movies I saw this year.
10. Jason Bourne
This movie was fine. And that’s the problem. At the end of the day, it didn’t just bridge the gap between Ultimatum and a post-Bourne Legacy return to the franchise, it sullied the whole thing by caving to action movie cliches. There’s also that this is a movie that makes Bourne repetitive as a franchise by going just that much further into rehashing its trademarks. There comes a point where the trademarks become cliches and Jason Bourne hit that hard.
9. War Dogs
This is a movie that rides the coattails of similar, better movies. Neither Miles Teller nor Jonah Hill deserve that because they’re both great actors who chose to do this movie for obvious reasons. However, between its mix of so-obvious-it-hurts musical cues and weird fixation with Hill’s character (who is a mix of his and Leo’s characters from The Wolf of Wall Street, a film that War Dogs shamelessly apes), this movie never met a cliche it didn’t love. Instead of being interesting, it just feels like a lazy remix of much better movies many of which came out way too recently for this shit to get a pass.
Objectively, Warcraft is really bad. Every year there are one or two movies that have some heart, some chops, something special… but just fail to do anything with it or fall victim to various types of problems and end up being either mixed bags or worse. This year, that is totally Warcraft and while I suspect I’ll rewatch it more than any other movie on this list, I can’t deny its many and obvious faults any more than I can stop wishing that Duncan Jones’s cut would see the light of day.
7. X-Men: Apocalypse
None of these movies is really any good. But they really are sort of the last holdout for the idea that comic book movies are inherently frivolous bullshit. This is also, somehow, what allows people to keep forgiving the X-Men franchise even though it doesn’t earn it. It’s just “fun” they say. Mistakenly. Sometimes even this movie is fun, but mostly it’s stupid and vainglorious and meaningless. Now with 10+ comic book superhero movies coming out per year, the bar has to get raised. Even within the Fox universe, that’s already happened with Deadpool, which is ten times more fun, coherent, intelligent, and respectful of its audience than any X-Men movie. But hey, maybe Logan will be good right?
6. Star Trek: Beyond
Much like Jason Bourne its the refusal to grow beyond a nuts and bolts formula that holds Beyond back. A big difference between the two properties, though, is that the formula in Bourne actually worked. None of these latter day Star Trek movies have been particularly great, and this is their third outing where it’s painfully obvious (from behind the screens drama to what we actually see) that they are still “figuring it out”. And this time, “figuring it out” means aping Disney’s far better, far more confident work with the MCU and Star Wars. Like War Dogs, Star Trek: Beyond owes all its best stuff to much better movies that came out basically yesterday. That said, the Sabotage sequence is awesome and is what props this movie up in the “slightly less bad” half of this year’s naughty list.
5. Independence Day: Resurgence
I have very little memory of watching this very pretty but very dumb disaster. It’s a movie with some great ideas that never get to be in the driver’s seat of the movie. Instead, it’s all about the visuals and the poorly constructed plot. The widened scope of Independence Day, where we see how the invasion is impacting a bunch of people separately and together, is probably its best quality. In this ill-advised but well-intentioned sequel, the widened scope feels cheap. Like it’s copying the lesser copies of its predecessors. Movies like Battleship, which while just as bad are also crazier and more entertaining than Resurgence.
4. The Darkness
There were a few bad horror movies this year. This was probably the worst. Not only because it’s a boring retread of much better ghost/haunting movies that have been all the rage since Paranormal Activity refreshed the genre, but because it is also fundamentally racist. It wants to be Poltergeist so bad it hurts.
3. The BFG
This movie sucks and I turned it off. Could not connect to its buffoonish characters, its weightless visual effects (and over-reliance on them) enough to make it through it. A lot of people loved this movie, though. So maybe I’m wrong. No, wait, wait. No. I’m not wrong, it’s them.
2. Batman vs. Superman
Hoo boy. More pages have probably been written about this piece of shit than any other movie this decade. What could I possibly add to it that hasn’t been said already? Most people who saw this movie were at least disappointed, or struggled to hang on to the handful of good moments and ideas it has (Battfleck, Wonder Woman’s theme music… ugh…). I think this movie finally broke the Batfans. I hope so, because if it didn’t then nothing will.
1. Suicide Squad
Wait. That bit I said about lots of pages being written about this piece of shit? Up there, for Batman vs. Superman? I could easily say the same thing here. Suicide Squad is an absolute trainwreck, a Rorschach test for the psyche of your friends and family who occasionally talk to you about movies. People who love Suicide Squad unironically should be studied. This movie is a masterclass in how to get in your own way with cliches, plot contrivance, unmotivated characters, bad effects, and really icky gender politics. Of all its many crimes against humanity, Suicide Squad‘s most overlooked and egregious is still its limp, confused, and self-indulgent misogyny. Did I say the bar is too high to get away with X-men movies? Whatever bar there is gets used for pole-dancing by this movie. It is almost admirable how anti-quality it is. Like a superhero version of Kevin Smith’s Tusk. Maybe Ayer, a filmmaker I rather like, attempted to make the anti-superhero movie in a more interesting way than advertised. But I doubt it. This has the WB’s typical superhero movie problems with the added benefit of putting Ryan Gosling’s line in La La Land into a new horrific perspective: Hollywood worships everything but values nothing.
Another year another cinematic enema. I feel better. Do you?
You will after watching this: