In which I get to use the phrase “cinematic excrement” and can therefore die happy.
It’s that time of year again! List time. Everyone’s got a list. My list is better than yours. End preamble.
Disclaimer: Working at a cinema’s meant I’ve been able to see pretty much anything available, without worrying about wasting money. That said, I was always going to skip a few films this year, for various (quality-related) reasons. Here’s a fine selection of widely-disliked bombs that didn’t crack my list of cinematic duds below, simply because I couldn’t be bothered to devote two hours of my life to watch them:
Criminal | Collateral Beauty | Fifty Shades Of Black | God’s Not Dead 2
| Gods Of Egypt | Ice Age: Collision Course | Masterminds | Norm Of The North | Passengers | Sing
X-Men: Apocalypse: Utterly mediocre in almost every capacity, Bryan Singer’s wayward sequel was an unworthy conclusion to the otherwise excellent First Class/Days Of Future Past trilogy.
Jason Bourne: Damon & Greengrass should have never returned. Dull and forgettable, it was truly depressing watching the guys behind the Bourne series go from action genre pioneers to out-of-touch dinosaurs.
The Legend Of Tarzan: I’m not sure I could tell you what happens in this film, and I only saw it a month ago.
The Brothers Grimsby: The elephant scene that haunts my nightmares is also the best part of this movie.
Sausage Party: Once the shock value wore off, this became little more than an unpleasant cinematic experience.
X) Assassin’s Creed
Director: Justin Kurzel | Studio: 20th Century Fox
I caught a test screening of Assassin’s Creed back in August – but because it was a test screening (and the film’s VFX were incomplete), it’d be unfair to officially rank it here. It was, however, one of the most awkward (and often cringeworthy) experiences I’ve had in a cinema this year. I can’t wait to watch the final cut next week(!)
Hall Of Shame: The film’s joke of an ending – which I sincerely hope has been re-edited (or at least built up to throughout the rest of the movie in a way that it makes more sense).
9) Alice Through The Looking Glass
Director: James Bobin | Studio: Walt Disney
Following a surprisingly entertaining opening five minutes, Through The Looking Glass descended into the flaming pile of mediocrity we all expected. As it turns out the only thing worse than Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland is James Bobin pretending to make Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland. It’s a shame Mia Wasikowska has to be the face of this hopeless franchise, as she’s really one of the only redeeming things about it. Such wasted potential.
Hall Of Shame: Johnny Depp & Anne Hathaway, both of whom are on autopilot throughout.
8) Ride Along 2
Director: Tim Story | Studio: Universal
I love Kevin Hart. I’m pretty fond of Ice Cube. I tolerated the first Ride Along film. Sadly, none of those things managed to prevent Ride Along 2 from being a thoroughly uninspired dud. Rushed into production after the first film’s surprise success, I’d be fascinated to know if they actually had a script for this. With actual jokes or..?
Hall Of Shame: Anything remotely related to Olivia Munn’s character.
7) The Divergent Series: Allegiant
Director: Robert Schwentke | Studio: Summit
It feels mean to kick the Divergent franchise while it’s already down, but I can totally understand why Summit cancelled the final film’s theatrical release. It’s safe to say neither of its predecessors were ever *good* films, but my word did Allegiant take the series to a new low. Woodley, Teller & co should have no qualms in reprising their roles for a proposed TV-movie, considering they basically just starred in one.
Hall Of Shame: The mere fact that Jeff Daniels can bounce from his phenomenal turn in Steve Jobs to this mess with such indifference makes me very, very sad.
6) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows
Director: Dave Green | Studio: Paramount
I didn’t mind 2014’s Ninja Turtles. It was a mess, but it was peppered with a few little bright spots (like the elevator sequence) – enough to make it watchable. This… was not. As it turns out, giving the turtles more of a starring role is a terrible idea if you don’t supply them with the necessary character development to balance out their *hilarious* antics & drive the plot forward. Assuming there was a plot. I, uh… I can’t really remember.
Hall Of Shame: Inserting a giant blue sky beam above the city of New York as if we haven’t seen that roughly three-hundred times before.
5) London Has Fallen
Director: Babak Najafi | Studio: Focus
Hooray for xenophobia! There’s no action franchise out there more suitable for a post-Trump world than the Has Fallen films – and their enduring commercial success is a testament to that. It’s insufferably patriotic, terribly-written, and, once again, woefully misuses Aaron Eckhart. AMERICA?! Fuck no.
Hall Of Shame: I’m pretty sure, at one point, Gerard ‘manly man’ Butler tells one of the (inevitably Middle Eastern) terrorists to “Go back to Fuckistan”. Yeah.
4) Suicide Squad
Director: David Ayer | Studio: Warner Bros
Next up: the cinematic equivalent of watching your childhood hero turn into an irredeemable asshat. To say I was disappointed in Suicide Squad is an understatement. David Ayer’s lack of common sense, combined with WB’s trailer style editing, Cara Delevingne’s awful dance moves & the music video masquerading as a first act sank #Sqwad. The fact that half the cast still gave it their all makes its failings all the more depressing.
Hall Of Shame: The film’s approach to women. Diablo’s calling the Squad his new ‘family’. Croc + BET. Sidelining Viola Davis. The glorification of Harley & Joker’s abusive relationship. Enchantress. Take your pick.
3) The Do-Over
Director: Steven Brill | Studio: Netflix
It took me a grand total of three months to finish The Do-Over. Every so often I’d flick it on, get bored, and then come back to it a couple of weeks down the line. This kind of abusive relationship isn’t how movies deserve to be watched – but at this point Adam Sandler’s hardly making movies. They’re just narcissistic fart-boxes designed to entertain morons and enrage everyone else. And I’m fairly certain he gets a huge kick out of doing it.
Hall Of Shame: The fact that David Spade is probably the most likeable thing about this movie should be enough to convince everyone else in it to go home and rethink their livelihoods.
2) The Boss
Director: Ben Falcone | Studio: Universal
Melissa McCarthy really ought to stop working with her husband. The McCarthy/Falcone dream team is one of the worst director/star pairings currently gracing the big screen. Forget the charm, heart and witty humour she demonstrated in Spy last year, McCarthy’s back to her Tammy/Identity Thief levels of villainy here. PSA to all comedy writers, everywhere: ’emotional’ endings don’t work if your protagonist is a horrible human being.
Hall Of Shame: She’s infinitely preferable to McCarthy here, but Kristen Bell in this is a far-cry from the tour-de-force she once was in Veronica Mars. Seriously, what happened?
1) Zoolander 2
Director: Ben Stiller | Studio: Paramount
And so we come to it at last. While the rest of this list may be subject to change over time, I’m fairly certain Zoolander 2 will forever hold its place as the year’s most odious pile of cinematic excrement. This unfunny, insipid, awfully acted mess of a sequel arrived roughly 10 years too late. I don’t walk out of movies, but in all my time as a cinemagoer, I’ve never been more transfixed by the exit door as I was during this film.
Hall Of Shame: All of it. Literally, all of it.
I think I hate movies now. Stay tuned for tomorrow – when I’ll be posting my Best Of 2016 list in a desperate, last-ditch attempt to reignite my love of cinema.