A while ago, I posted a list of the Most Disappointing Films of 2016. These films weren’t bad per se, just underwhelming. Well, this isn’t that list. These films really are bad, at least as far as I’m concerned. Believe it or not, the lists are the hardest articles I write throughout a year. I don’t like being negative all the time. The internet has plenty of that. But that doesn’t mean I’ve lost sight of my objectivity and it doesn’t mean these films deserve a pass.
So for better or worse, let’s get this show on the road. First up, a few films that just barely missed the cut.
DISHONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order): Allegiant, The Bronze, Nine Lives, The Other Side of the Door, Pop Star: Never Stop Not Stopping, Pride Prejudice and Zombies, Storks
And now, the Worst Films of 2016….
10. GODS OF EGYPT – I really wish this had worked out. Ideally a return to classic adventure films of years past, GODS OF EGYPT told of a valliant hero trying to save his kingdom and one true love from an evil despot. Oh, and did I mention the evil despot is the giant god Set? Or that the hero himself teams up with Set’s nephew Horus, but not before embarking on a quest to retrieve Horus’ eyes which have been plucked out? Or that there are airships and attempts to lasso and drag the sun over a flat Earth?
Yes, GODS OF EGYPT is one loopy film and all the original intentions were good ones. Alex Proyas made an ambitious attempt to do for Egyptian mythology what classic cinema did for Greek mythology years before. But here’s the thing, most of those Greek mythology epics, either through budgetary constraints or common sense, declined to tackle chapters in Greek mythology that might have looked silly on film. Hence, no sequences of Zeus eating his rivals or raping maidens while disguised as a swan. Proyas did not show such hesitation and used a bloated budget and loads of digital effects to realize some of the most outlandish aspects of Egyptian mythology. Which sounds great on paper, but when you look at the finished product, there’s no denying it – GODS OF EGYPT looks ridiculous and it doesn’t even have the low-budget charm of say Luigi Cozzi’s HERCULES films to make it all that enjoyable.
Proyas took to the internet to angrily denounce social media critics who judge a film before watching it. And he’s right. I am judging the film after watching it and sorry Alex. It was an admirable attempt, but GODS OF EGYPT really is a terrible film.
9. EXPOSED – Studio interference rears its ugly head with EXPOSED, but can really only account for a portion of its problems. Originally titled DAUGHTER OF GOD, EXPOSED was to be a bilingual feature focusing on a number of personal, psychological and social issues. It was eventually taken out of the director’s hands and re-edited into a more conventional thriller. Well, sort of. Lionsgate may have wanted it to be a cop thriller and they may have marketed this as one and they may have even tried to move Keanu Reeves’ supporting role to the forefront. But it really isn’t all that in the finished form. It has definitely been tampered with however but there is just no way all these problems originated on the cutting room floor. Just goes to show that sometimes in that debate of “Who’s to blame?,” there’s often plenty of blame to go around.
Still, points to the original, first-time director for taking his name off as a matter of principle.
If you want to get the full rundown on EXPOSED, check out my Reaction Shots episode here.
8. SUICIDE SQUAD – When I was walking in to my showing of SUICIDE SQUAD, another man led the charge in walking out of the last one. In a frankly awesome Southern drawl he warned me, “Don’t do it! Don’t do it! It’s a bad movie!” I told him it was too late, I had already paid for my ticket via credit card. “I’m sorry,” he said. Yeah, me too.
BATMAN V SUPERMAN, while an intense disappointment, still had enough interesting things within it to avoid being called completely terrible. The same cannot be said for SUICIDE SQUAD, which was upstaged not only by the wonderful ATTACK ON ARKHAM animated feature from a couple years back, but by a halfway decent porn parody released at the same time as this so-called blockbuster.
While the team can be said to work in the comics, the cinematic Suicide Squad is borne of pure incompetence. So much so that their ultimate quest turns out to be rescuing their handler from one of their own members, who was granted powers by her own shocking negligence, in an event that is completely the handler’s fault. Think that’s an opportunity for some interesting story angles? The filmmakers didn’t, choosing the path of least resistance. This results in a dumb, tired story where they fight anonymous creatures before finally battling a villain that seems awfully reminiscent of Gozer.
SUICIDE SQUAD suffered from a rushed pre-production, multiple edits and massive reshoots, all of which contributed to a finished product that is riddled with more plot holes than any other film of the year.
While Margot Robbie does a good job in her part, the script strips everything from Harley Quinn that makes her formidable. She becomes the de facto team lader, over even the official leader, and what does she bring to the table really? She’s crazy and carries a baseball bat, basically the same MO of anyone on bath salts. They even reshape her personality – removing the harlequin from Harley Quinn – leaving only an unhinged sexpot in an abusive relationship the film paints as quirky romantic.
Jared Leto’s Joker is worse, a cross between Tony Montana and a Juggalo who runs a strip club. He also loses much of what makes his character unique. Sorry, but tattoos and flamboyance alone aren’t enough to cut it in the comic book world.
Who do we have for other characters? Let’s see, there’s Rick Flag the boring human who does nothing, there’s Enchantress the worst archaeologist of all time who turns into one of the most disappointing villains, Katana who has the most interesting storyline and is allowed to do absolutely nothing with it. All in a movie that made a ridiculous amount of money, which I guess means that no matter how much they dropped the ball here, it’s a profitable scheme to keep dropping it.
7. SAUSAGE PARTY – Oh look, another box office hit and this one even got some good press too, mostly from critics it will be hard to read without cocking our heads a little in the future.
SAUSAGE PARTY is a rushed film that took the idea of an R-rated animated comedy about food and said, “Yeah, that’ll do. That’s the whole movie right there.” It’s getting a lot of praise from people who say it was quite daring to tackle an overall theme of atheism and religious extremism. I’m afraid I’m going to have to call BS on that. Anyone who has spent any amount of time on social media has seen memes and humorous posts tackling the exact same subject matter, usually with the same calibur of tact and humor. So, no SAUSAGE PARTY doesn’t get a pass because it haphazardly tossed in a message that would make the Dove Foundation angry.
Otherwise, all you’re left with is jokes that usually revolve around food puns, stereotypes and the occasional stoner joke. It’s a film that starts at the bottom of the barrel and then eagerly gets to digging, popping up just long enough to receive high fives from bro culture.
6. BLAIR WITCH – What, again?!? I already wrote a long review on this one and I already included it on my list of the Most Disappointing Films of 2016. Do I really need to talk about what an unoriginal, unfocused misfire this was?
No, it’s my site and I don’t have to do it. If you want to read a slightly more thought-out piece about why BLAIR WITCH didn’t work, check out my full review here.
5. INTERNET FAMOUS – I subscribe to a number of YouTube channels. I even have my own and have tried to make my mark. I don’t get a huge audience and probably never will. But to be honest, if success depended on me putting out the content the more negative, clickbaity channels do, I probably wouldn’t bother.
INTERNET FAMOUS was a good opportunity to satirize the way people become famous on the internet. It tackles YouTube stars and meme subjects trying to navigate their way through their fame, whether they asked for it or not. It seems like there should be a lot of material here. Unfortunately, the film turns out to be as vapid, unfunny and one-dimensional as its subjects. Worse yet, it comes off as one of the most unpleasantly mean-spirited comedies I sat through all year.
How they got talented people like Roger Bart and John Michael Higgins involved in this project is anyone’s guess.
4. WARCRAFT – The long history of video game adaptations is filled with dashed hopes and outright disasters. There are only a handful that have really excelled in the transition to film. But wait, WORLD OF WARCRAFT is an open-world system with thousands of story possibilities. And then you’ve got Duncan Jones, the visionary director behind MOON and SOURCE CODE. Sounds like this one should turn out nicely.
But no, it didn’t. Not at all. Not even a little bit. What could have been an exciting fantasy adventure comes off like a 14 year-old explaining his latest Dungeons & Dragons campaign poorly. It’s filled with so many tried tropes and so much mumbo jumbo, you wonder if anyone bothered to learn from the mistakes that have been made within the fantasy genre for the past few decades.
The cast is made up mostly of forgettable non-entities who are unable to bring anything to their roles. There is a large ensemble but the only interesting character is Durotan, a CG creation voiced by Tobey Kebbell. The story is often indistinguishable from the scores of films that play on Syfy, albeit with one one hundredth the budget. The visuals are striking but let’s be honest and say that no matter how much they pour into a film, it doesn’t really wow us like it used to. We have become spoiled. Once special effects wizards could create the impossible with a few keystrokes, we stopped caring about which keystrokes they chose or how many it took.
It’s a mess of a film that preoccupies itself with building the world of Azeroth for future installments, without ever considering that after this, audiences might not want to come back.
3. THE BOSS – Melissa McCarthy was part of the year’s best comedic ensemble in Paul Feig’s surprisingly great GHOSTBUSTERS (that’s right, I said it). THE BOSS on the other hand reminded me of why I wasn’t such a big fan beforehand.
THE BOSS telegraphs its premise from the very first scene and offers us 100 minutes of monotonous, obnoxious, unfunny ad-libbed comedy bits to see us through until the end. To quote my earlier review, “Saying ‘I want to laugh so I’m going to watch THE BOSS’ is kind of like saying ‘I’m horny so I’m going to stare at a bucket of dead fish.’ Unless you’re wired a certain way, it’s just not going to happen.”
You can find out more about what I thought of this one by checking out my Reaction Shots episode here.
2. THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE – Animated features have come a long way in the 21st century and are often some of the most enjoyable and fan-pleasing movies around. In 2016, we got great films like ZOOTOPIA, THE LITTLE PRINCE, MOANA and KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS. But we also got a few films that were content to repeat the most tired formula of years past, showing little regard for their audience beyond getting them in the theatre. The worst of these by far was THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE.
This is about as crass and threadbare as these things get. You all know the game, right? A bunch of birds throw themselves at a bunch of pigs who have stolen the birds’ eggs. That’s pretty much the entire film as well. They could have done a little more with the material I’m sure, but that would have eaten up time that could be spent screaming and blowing things up. Some animated films create fun new worlds. This one spends several minutes watching a bird urinate.
THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE is a loud, shiny, joyless experience. It tries to hold the kids’ attention with the most basic of approaches. It’s the cinematic equivalent of someone jingling their keys in front of you and yelling.
I wish I could say that the low point in animated film reached by ANGRY BIRDS would not be threatened for some time. But then I remember that some of the same people are prepping THE EMOJI MOVIE later this year.
1. NATURAL BORN PRANKSTERS – My guess is that you haven’t seen this movie on anyone’s list, or on anyone’s radar for that matter. As of this writing, NATURAL BORN PRANKSTERS still doesn’t even have an official Rotten Tomatoes rating, more than a year after its release. All because most of you have never seen or heard of it.
You lucky bastards.
I’m not a fan of prank videos anyway. These are the people who watched Johnny Knoxville and company on JACKASS and figured they could do the same thing. But while the JACKASS crew has developed a following over the years, several pale imitators have shown up on YouTube and in a sure sign of the apocalypse, have created an empire built on millions of loyal viewers.
Three of these YouTube stars joined forces for NATURAL BORN PRANKSTERS and if you think you’re going to see JACKASS 4, well you can forget about that right now. The stunts in this also-ran are tired, obviously staged (two of the three “stars” have been accused of faking their pranks) and offensive in all the wrong ways. NATURAL BORN PRANKSTERS is what you get when you give some annoying borderline Men’s Rights Activists too much validation, resulting in a film in which you are forced to hang out with the very people you would ordinarily cross the street to avoid. It is a film awash in douchebaggery.