Wednesday, 11 January 2017

The Worst Films Of The Year 2016



















In many ways 2016 will be remembered as a truly terrible year in terms of global events, politics, death, destruction and an encroaching sense of Armageddon, if that is you believe half of what you read posted on social media by terminally upset / outraged / offended / neurotic halfwits. Film-wise like any other year it had its fair share of truly abysmal movies, perhaps notable in this instance for having one of the least inspiring, utterly mediocre selection of summer 'blockbusters' in recent memory - more wretched retreads, shabby sequels, godawful games adaptations and less than super, superhero franchises, were cynically thrust upon the multiplex masses. Far from fantastic fantasy epics scored big on the crud-ometer this year, as did the usual sorry assortment of crappy comedies - even I couldn't bring myself to endure Dirty Grandpa, whilst Bad Neighbours 2 wasn't happening....one Seth Rogen film a year is more than enough self-inflicted misery for me, even if he didn't actually physically appear in the animated equivalent of butcher shop offal which was Sausage Party...

THE WORST FILMS OF 2016:  


1) GODS OF EGYPT
Ye Gods!
A deluge of dire digital FX, dismal dialogue and mind-boggling, utterly incoherent plotting. Woefully miscast - a mixture of never seen before non-entities and scenery-chewing stars such as Gerard Butler who appears to be an Egyptian deity with a broad Scottish accent. Tonally all over the shop - it shifts from Game Of Thrones style brutal violence (a graphic eye gouging for instance), to the sort of lame child-friendly computer game level monsters that would only appease a particularly tolerant five year old.
Not even in the so bad it's fun category of similarly inept historical fantasy epics like Vikingdom for example, this is just a shoddy, incomprehensible, muddled mess of a movie which makes Wrath Of The Titans look like essential viewing......Hell, this actually makes John Carter look half decent!

2) GRIMSBY

Ever since Borat, which I thought was pure comedic genius - edgy, bold and genuinely hilarious, Sacha Baron Cohen's output has become increasingly patchy, culminating with this travesty which I absolutely hated, and which didn't raise a single laugh throughout its dire duration.
Lacking the satirical bite of his earlier characters, Cohen's feckless northern slob Nobby is a lazy, lame and utterly charmless comic creation. Mark Strong on the other hand slumming it in some of the most over-elaborate and painfully unfunny gross-out sequences ever conceived, seems to be hellbent on career suicide here. Meanwhile other notable supporting cast members including genuinely talented comedy actors like Johnny Vegas and Ricky Tomlinson are given absolutely nothing to do other than portray dumb, dull stereotypes. In fact about the only thing in this desperate fiasco's favour are its impressive action sequences - courtesy of The Transporter director Louis Leterrier, who clearly has a sharp eye for thrilling spectacle, but an absolute cloth ear for comedy.
A rancid load of old elephant toss.

3) PLAN 9
Well I didn’t see this one coming! A sort of half a century after the event remake of one of the most celebrated B(ad) movies of all-time. Odd and unexpected enough, but what’s even more baffling is that this isn’t really a remake at all, in fact it can’t really decide if it’s a post-modern spoof or a straight-up sci-fi / horror indie, which takes the initial plot of Ed Wood’s finest hour and runs with it as if it were a genuine straight-faced event. I found the construct utterly confusing and more incoherent than a Tor Johnson monologue, with its conflicting mix of pastiche and traditional storyline utterly at odds. Even if at times this sort of stumbles towards an intentionally so bad it’s good dynamic (the sort of cynical tactic which makes the likes of the Sharknado films so utterly tedious) it goes without saying this lacks the naive charm and innocent ineptitude of the 1950’s original.
Any fool who tells you Plan 9 From Outer Space is the “worst film of all-time” clearly hasn’t watched enough seriously bad films. In fact they could start by watching this garbled, godawful mess as a jump-off point.

4) CRIMINAL

What's really criminal is how this ludicrous, overlong sci-fi tinged action nonsense wastes such a top drawer cast. Dumb and not much fun, the dubious highlight being Kevin Costner throwing his weight around in a London kebab shop, in one of the year's more unintentionally hilarious scenes.

5) THE GHOUL
A British independent psychological thriller which has gained some solid word of mouth on the festival circuit, but Tom Meeten's twitchy central performance aside, I found this to be a soporific descent into insanity and angst. Painfully slow and ponderous, with a looping, rambling repetitious narrative, I couldn't engage with this at all and genuinely struggled to stay awake during its screening at Nottingham's Mayhem film festival. Very much an ordinary tale of madness.

6) TANK 432
Ninety minutes of utter tedium, much of which takes place within the confines of the titular military vehicle (this was formerly known as Belly Of The Beast),  punctuated by endless quarrelling, profane ranting, sporadic gore and confusing trippy interludes. The final revelation delivered more groans than surprises.

7) CELL
After an impressively apocalyptic airport based opening, this rapidly spirals out of control. Cell suffers from a seriously bad signal - it's a directionless, disjointed, largely incoherent mess. There are clear signs of the film's troubled production, rendering this more of a cinematic car crash, than a technophobic tale of terror. Also notable for an utterly bizarre use of Liverpool's terrace anthem "You'll Never Walk Alone." Just hang up on this wrong number.

8) WARCRAFT
I'm not a gamer, so have no idea how this has translated from console to cinema, and frankly, I've long since given up on seeing a great movie based on a video game. But with Duncan Jones at the helm, whose first two movies, Moon and Source Code, were both 'Top Ten' of their respective years entries for me, there was a flicker of hope to be had here. Regrettably that hope was misplaced. Warcraft is little more than an eye-straining cavalcade of clumsy CGI characters, largely incoherent or unintelligible plotting and an overall impression of just being a vacant retread of familiar fantasy material like Lord Of The Rings, Game Of Thrones and Avatar. Compared with other recent mega-budget sci-fi / fantasy duds, it may not be John Carter levels of incompetent tedium, but it's certainly not a good movie by any stretch.

9) BATMAN Vs SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE

Director Zack Snyder's polarised attributes and deficiencies become glaringly obvious early on in the cumbersomely titled Batman Vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice. It opens with a brilliantly staged recreation of Man Of Steel's climactic carnage, but witnessed from the periphery of the action, away from the main protagonists, viewed from a ground (zero) perspective, giving this a rare, gritty authenticity, which not only invests the destruction with a profound post 9/11 resonance, but may just be some of the most impressive and realistic superhero footage seen outside of the final act of Chronicle. That's the good bit, unfortunately from herein Batman Vs Superman rapidly crashes down like those collapsing skyscrapers, as it attempts to crowbar in an insane surplus of material. Character arcs, back-stories, origin stories, DC Universe building, flash-forwards, stumble-backwards, WTF is happening now post-apocalyptic sequences and even an American Werewolf In London patented dream within a dream scene which is ludicrous in the extreme, but nowhere near as bizarre or baffling as the point where the film actually grinds to a halt for what seems like an advert for future spin-off franchises...a self-fulfilling destiny of in-house product placement.
Batman Vs Superman's build-up is fractured at best, utterly incoherent at worst. There are fleeting moments of greatness peppered throughout and some fascinating ideology and character riffs, but when the film raises big themes or ideas they're so often left unresolved or just touched upon on a simple superficial level. Even the religious allegory which is laid on with a trowel ends up under-explored and ultimately discarded.
As for the actual characters and plot, there's just such an incomprehensible jumble of entwined concurrent storylines taking place that there's no real focus or drama to any of it. Ben Affleck's world-weary Batman comes out of it best with at least some semblance of credibility, definitely the best chin for the role, and a degree of promise and potential for future standalone instalments. His motivation to actually battle The Man Of Steel may stretch credibility somewhat, but ultimately he's a bitter, twisted, vigilante who dresses up as a giant bat, so isn't exactly playing with a full deck to begin with, so I just went with the daft basic premise.
Poor old Henry Cavill as Superman however fares far worse, it's almost as if Snyder has realised he's a complete charisma void in the role and given him as little to do as possible, other than look morose and moody and lost in the background of his own movie. Then there's Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman, who adds precisely nothing to the narrative other than being an extra pugilist in the ridiculously over the top final smack down (which isn't between the characters I expected), where Snyder dials everything up to eleven and then blows the amps up. Seriously, with the migraine-inducing Hans Zimmer & Junkie XL techno soundtrack blasting away at ear-bleeding levels and a retina-popping visual effects overload, which could conceivably trigger epileptic fits in a blind person, it's like being trapped in an out of control fairground ride with Snyder wailing "scream if you want to go faster!" like a maniacal banshee! Arguably the only thing worse than this is Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor, who is simply unbearable - all daddy issues and murky megalomania motivation, a grating, gurning hyperactive xerox of his Social Network Mark Zuckerberg performance as if possessed by Heath Ledger's Joker.
Batman Vs Superman is frankly a mess - it's baggy, bloated, baffling and a bit like watching at least two movies at once. It's deeply flawed, joyless and absolutely all over the place in terms of construct, coherence and even its own geography - I had no idea where half of this film took place - are Gotham and Metropolis just across a river from each other?
I actually feel a bit sorry for Zack Snyder here, after all he's working from a script which is both overreaching and underwritten. He's been here before with Watchmen, which I liked despite its multitude of  faults, and I rate his Dawn Of The Dead as one of the finest ever horror movie remakes (although how much of that is down to James Gunn is debatable), but here he just comes across as a filmmaker who is totally out of his depth.....simply a case of the wrong director for the scale and complexity of the material.

10) SAUSAGE PARTY
Presumably during some dope-fuelled epiphany, Seth Rogen and his witless cohorts stumbled upon the puerile revelation that sausages look like penises and bread rolls could be fobbed off as vaginas and like hey, wouldn't it be just like hilarious dude, to make like a feature length animated movie about foul-mouthed food fucking and getting stoned? The answer was of course no, it wouldn't be hilarious dude, it would be a mashed-up moron's one joke idea stretched thinner than a chipolata and about as tasteless and enjoyable as a vegetarian wiener! 

11) THE ASSASSIN
12) ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE
13) JOY

14) THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER'S WAR
15) THE 5TH WAVE
16) KILL COMMAND
17) THE FOREST

18) THE SURVIVALIST
19) THE HIVE
20) HITMAN: AGENT 47
21) INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE

22) LANDMINE GOES CLICK
23) FENDER BENDER
24) DOCTOR STRANGE
25) THE CONJURING 2    



















WORST ACTION FILM: CRIMINAL

WORST HORROR FILM: TANK 432

WORST COMEDY: GRIMSBY

WORST SCIENCE-FICTION / FANTASY: GODS OF EGYPT

WORST SPECIAL FX: PLAN 9

WORST SCREENPLAY: BATMAN VS SUPERMAN - DAWN OF JUSTICE

WORST DIRECTOR: ZACK SNYDER  (BATMAN VS SUPERMAN - DAWN OF JUSTICE)

WORST ACTRESS: PRETTY MUCH ANY MEMBER OF THE CAST OF... (BUNNY THE KILLER THING)

WORST ACTOR: GERARD BUTLER (GODS OF EGYPT)

2016'S BIGGEST LETDOWN WHICH SHOULD’VE BEEN GREAT BUT REALLY WASN’T: DON'T BREATHE & JASON BOURNE.


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