03 Feb Worst Movies 2016
Now that we’ve got the good stuff out the way, it’s time – in the second of my year-end movie quartet – to take a look at the year’s biggest howlers.
I’ve deliberately avoided a horde of straight-to-DVD fodder that you have likely never heard of. For all of those donkeys, please see the honourable mentions. No, this list had to represent the very worst to grace our box offices, the biggest turkeys to pry the almighty dollar from our pockets, the worst tenners we spent in 2016.
By the same token, I can only include those I have seen, however for the biggest stinkers I couldn’t even bring myself to watch, based on footage and trailers available, please the bonus list at the foot of the page.
Without further ado, I give you…
FANTANA’S WORST FILMS OF 2016
10. The Neon Demon
After the style and success of Drive, and the lacklustre response to follow-up, Only God Forgives, everyone and their uncle wanted Neon Demon to succeed. Unfortunately not. Unfortunately this turned out to be an over-pretentious bout of boredom akin to watching Dulux basecoat dry with a third act both jarring and comical, the latter not intentionally so!
Fantana Score: 4.5
9. Dog Eat Dog
Christ, this film needs to pick up the pace and decide what the plot is a hell of a lot sooner than it does. It felt like I’d been watching these three detestable idiots (Nicholas Cage, Willem Dafoe, and Christopher Matthew Cook) for hours before their goal – and the premise of the film – was revealed. Talk about not knowing what you want to be, this turkey leaves it ‘til the final act (the final act, people!) to start throwing some art house surrealism to the proceedings… by which point I couldn’t have cared less. Avoid!
Fantana Score: 4.5
8. The Forest
Holy donkeys, this was crap. Never before in movie history has a protagonist been told what not to do more and still gone and done it…! After her twin sister goes missing in the Aokigahara Forest, an infamous suicide location, Natalie Dormer travels to Japan to search for her. Cue tsunami of overwhelming stupidity. I can get on board with the idea that this ‘suicide forest’ is in fact haunted; I can get on board with Dormer’s questionable acting (usually very good in Game of Thrones); what I can’t get on board with is the sheer levels of stupidity and ignorance her character demonstrates over and over and over again! After being told, what felt like, a dozen times not to venture off the path, Dormer is in the park less than five minutes before the first rush of blood to the head sees her traipsing through the trees. From that point on I checked out.
Let me do you a favour: she dies. There, go do something productive with those 90 minutes I just saved you; you’re welcome.
Fantana Score: 4
Stephen King adaptations are a mixed bag at best. For every Shining, Mist, or Shawshank Redemption, there is a Dreamcatcher or Sometimes They Come Back or a god forsaken Shining TV miniseries. Now we can add Cell to the latter pile (emphasis on pile). Following a nigh on incoherent opening sequence, where an epidemic of carnivorous and violent insanity breaks out in an airport, we are taken on a disjointed journey with John Cusack and the ubiquitous Sam Jackson through one of the worst zombie-apocalypse landscapes committed to film, as the former strives to find his son. There is absolutely nothing of note in this waste of 98 minutes until the finale, and only then it is to note how ridiculously obscure, cheap-looking and infuriatingly unrewarding it is. Cusack used to be better than this.
Fantana Score: 4
Trailer Credit: IGN
I suppose you can’t blame Rob Zombie; he only had a budget of $1.5 million and it shows. What I can’t excuse is a piss poor script and bizarre direction that depicts Malcolm McDowell as a rich sadist who, for some inexplicable reason has a penchant for decking himself out in Victorian-era filigree while sipping on Pinot and watching a bunch of grungy clowns terrorise a handful of abductees for his viewing pleasure. Nothing new here whatsoever. Just cheap, derivative, pointless tosh. Next.
Fantana Score: 4
Trailer Credit: Film Trailer Zone
5. Dirty Grandpa
Apparently all that is required to pass as comedy today is a barrage of offensive slurs and stereotypes, whether it be a series of gay slurs or simply Bob DeNiro (hitting a new low not seen since Rocky and Bullwinkle – somebody please give him a decent script!) masturbating unapologetically, it’s hard to pick out any single ‘joke’ from Dirty Grandpa that stands out as the one that sealed it’s fate. It’s just… consistently… bad…
Poor, just poor. Next!
Fantana Score: 3
4. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
You know a director is in your bad books when you no longer care to even bother with the trailer of their latest offering. That’s how it was with Zack Snyder and Dawn of Justice – there are only so many Sucker Punches and Man of Steels one can take before the penny drops that this might be a film maker deeply out of touch with the fundamentals of his craft. Not since Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole has anything he touched been worth a look. And BvS is no exception. To call it disjointed would be too kind; character motivations are wafer thin and actions inconsistent; conflicts and resolutions pass with no real agency or explanation; loose ends and orphan scenes litter the way, remnants of abandoned storylines left in plain sight to trip up the central plot; and Lex Luther… how to even begin correcting that little mistake for the greater good of DC’s cinematic universe.
And speaking on that point, my advice to DC would be this: give up. In Batman you have a gold mine of interesting themes, rogues and allies – beyond that the DC universe does not work. Stick to Batman and the Vertigo line and leave the main DCU well enough alone.
And I’ll make a prediction right now that I’ll be saying the same thing about Justice League next year.
Fantana Score: 2
3. Independence Day: Resurgence
Not only did Roland Emmerich commit the cardinal sin of creating a sequel to an absolute classic, never mind a classic that didn’t need a sequel, it’s as if he deliberately made every wrong decision possible along the way. Let’s have the humans learn nothing from the first movie; let’s have them take zero precautions in the event another swarm of planet-quashing spaceships come calling; we don’t need Will Smith, we have… Jessie T. Usher? Let’s recreate the original movie, beat for f’ing beat, with all this new CGI tech at our disposal and make it somehow seem infinitely cheaper. SO many questions…! How did London survive the first film? Why was there absolutely no mention of the drill ship in the first movie? What was the point of stealing their technology if you weren’t going to improve on it? The queen alien…. WHY THE QUEEN ALIEN???!!
I think I’ve made my point.
Fantana Score: 2
NB. This was originally at #8, but writing the above annoyed me so much, I realised that was way too generous.
2. The Purge: Election Year
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the Purge is the biggest waste of a cinematic concept of recent times. The first movie was okay, but paved the way for much bigger, better ideas under the same concept. When Anarchy came along it looked as though this series could get it right, could create a B-movie cannon that would always deliver. Unfortunately that cannon only seemed to fire blanks, and they have not found the right ammo this time round either. With everywhere you could take this idea, with a scope limited to the four corners of the great expanse known as the United States of America, you can only come up with a Rhode Island convenience store clerk versus… three schoolgirls? For such a bottomless pit of an idea, completely unambitious. Perhaps they’ll do better next time.
Fantana Score: 1.5
1. Warcraft: the Beginning
I tried – really tried – long and hard to find the words to constructively surmise why Warcraft was so deserving of the number one spot on this list. And I came up with this…
What an incoherent puddle of bubbling, unwatchable piss.
Sorry, that was as constructive as I could be. Distracting cartoon backgrounds in every scene; a script so flat and hammy it should be tinned and sold at Tesco; the Swiss cheese plot with holes so big you’ll fall through if you look away for a second; dear lord, Paula Patton’s fangs!!!
So much fluff was packed into this two-hour mess, yet none of it measured, none of it weighted, none of it controlled. The result is the movie equivalent of blah blah blah.
Fantana Score: (a very generous) 1
Dishonourable mentions: Let’s Be Evil, the Sighting, Urge, the Good Neighbour, Approaching the Unknown, Edge of Winter, and the Cabin Fever remake (WHY???!!) should all be avoided like the plague!
Bonus ‘those-I-couldn’t-even-bring-myself-to-watch’ List: Gods of Egypt, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Suicide Squad, Zoolander 2, Collateral Beauty, Allegiant, London Has Fallen, 50 Shades of Black, Nine Lives, and Max Steel.
Just know… I could’ve gone on…!