Thursday, 29 December 2016
2016's Worst Films (Year End)
Many people suggest that 2016 has been a bit of a stinker when it comes to the film industry, particularly after a rather lacklustre summer and while I heartily disagree with them (they're simply not looking in the right places), this list of the year's worst will not alleviate those claims. Of course, I do not hate myself enough to sit through the glaringly terrible and those I have no interest in (Nine Lives, Warcraft and Mother's Day) and those I didn't hate as much as others (Alice Through The Looking Glass, X-Men: Apocalypse and London Has Fallen), so this list is complied of only the films I have had the (dis)pleasure of seeing this year, based on UK release dates...
Dishonourable mentions (aka they were bad but not bad enough to make the end of year bad list): How To Be Single (a comedy that should have been a whole lot funnier), Suicide Squad (the year's most disappointing and frustrating superhero film), Miracles From Heaven (a mawkish and heavy-handed religious tale), Inferno (Tom Hanks eye-rolling' threequel) and The Accountant (Ben Affleck's action thriller with a problematic and convoluted script).
So, from best (by default) to worst, all in the name of building intensity, my list of the year's top/bottom ten are as follows (with links included if you want to wallow in my dislike for the films for longer and some other links you may find interesting)...
10. The 5th Wave
Following in the footsteps of Katniss Everdeen, Chloe Grace Mortez's Cassie Sullivan pales in comparison due to a weak script, poor characterisation, a lame story and film that is shoddily put together, in a rush to be 'the next big thing' in the Young Adult adaptation world. To its credit, the film works far better as a survival film that the science fiction thriller it tries so desperately to be, but everything here feels like a direct rip-off of the sub-genre entries that came before it, meaning it struggles to find its own identity and barely succeeds in even the basics.
Having only caught the original the day before the sequel landed, it was hardly as if I was expecting a sci-fi masterpiece, as the original didn't impress me too much and the genre isn't my usual go-to. However, Resurgence still felt like a disappointment if only due to a complete lack of originality. Essentially, Resurgence is exactly the same as its predecessor other than the spaceships are a little bigger and badder. Unlike most, the new characters and story thread engaged me far more than the returning characters and while the visuals are decent, it's never enough to distract from that lingering sense of deja vu. It continually feels like the set-up to a sequel that will now never come to fruition and it only has itself to blame.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is one of the laziest excuses of a film this year. It feels nothing less than a desperate cash-in while on the search for the next big action franchise with little in the way of character building and/or a decent storyline. The once reliable Tom Cruise dials in a phoney performance in which he looks as bored as the audience becomes, with yet another generic and monotonous action film that barely scrapes its own identity together. Even worse than a boring film is a lazy one and Never Go Back just so happens to be both. Let's hope this franchise is dead and buried.
7. The Forest
Natalie Dormer is an underrated talent but that notion will continue to stick if she isn't given better roles. Her dual role in supernatural horror The Forest rewards her absolutely nothing playing twin sisters with no other characterisation beyond the fact that they are indeed twins. What's worse than the poorly-sketched characters is the fact that this horror is really rather boring, with so little intensity that one cannot help but lose concentration and become completely disengaged. It is rather a shame that a setting such as the Aokigahara couldn't be utilised in a better film, and that Dormer can't be rewarded with a more substantial part.
6. Our Kind of Traitor
Only a matter of weeks ago did I watch Our Kind of Traitor but I genuinely cannot recall what happens. It features a solid British cast and is adapted from John Le Carre's novel of the same name, who experienced a greater success with the translation of his The Night Manager on BBC earlier in the year. It's an incredibly forgettable jaunt and not nearly as striking as The Night Manager; I cannot comment on whether this is down to the original source material or just the way it was handled but I won't be watching Our Kind of Traitor again to find out, I can tell you that much!
Ah, Grimsby. So many memorable scenes but for all the wrong reasons. Whether it's to do with elephants, AIDS or Rebel Wilson farting, no one can claim that it doesn't try to stand out; but it does so for all the wrong reasons. A couple of crude laughs are scored but it relies on this crude, rancid behaviour all too often that it becomes stale and banal. It becomes extreme for the sake of pushing boundaries and all seems rather forced, with an unlikeable character at the centre meaning it doesn't have the charm and affection of some of Sacha Baron Cohen's other offerings. This is a comedy to avoid at all costs, unless you just fast-forward to Wilson's humorous appearances.
4. War Dogs
War Dog's message and themes were totally mishandled. It has no idea what it is trying to say, do or be and it suffers because of this lack of direction and clarity. It lacks the humour to be called a comedy and the emotional heft or interest to be labelled a drama, somewhat uncomfortably straddling genres because it doesn't know what it wants to be. It suffers from a predictability and an increasing sense of melodrama that plagues the film so much moving forward that you simply do not and cannot care for the characters involved. Miles Teller and Jonah Hill do the basics well enough but it should be better than it is, quite frankly, what with an Oscar-nominated director in the mix. But maybe I should have seen that coming...
3. The Legend of Tarzan
In one of the most lifeless performances of the summer, Alexander Skarsgard's Tarzan is simply portrayed as a beefcake with not a lot else going on and the film itself doesn't have any more substance either. It's tedious, monotonous and generic and summarises what most people see the 2016 blockbuster season as, devoid of life, originality and charm. It struggles to inspire or engage despite being aligned as the first part of a franchise. meaning any hope that this will continue past this dull start-point is dead in the water. Despite director David Yates' filmography and the film's substantial budget, this film cannot be lifted into more interesting territory. I'm sick of Margot Robbie finding herself stranded in terrible films as an actress with so much potential, as this is just one of three appearances on this list and its 'dishonourable mentions'.
Superheroes have certainly taken a beating this year but it was audience's that suffered with the DC Extended Universe's second film, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - a dull whirlwind of special effects, uninspired performances and a paper-thin story. Pitting two of the world's most famous superheroes against each other could have resulted in a cultural phenomenon last seen with The Dark Knight but this project was woefully mishandled from the word go and it is blatantly obvious in the end product. Even with such a huge production budget, the visuals overwhelm and are drenched in a dull colour palette meaning they struggle to actually engage audiences and is encapsulated by the phrase 'style over substance'. It truly suffers because the franchise attempted to run before it could even walk, with an onerous attempt at building this world - with stakes and consequences - before audiences were even invested in it. Dawn of Justice has probably done more harm than good. To steal a phrase from Forbes' Scott Mendelson, can this franchise be saved? I truly do not know.
And my number one least favourite film of the year happens to be an Oscar-nominated picture that happens to feature on many's year-end favourites. Ain't life/Hollywood funny, eh?
Messy, unbalanced and a tonal disaster, The Big Short is one of the only films I truly hate. I dislike a lot, but I really hate this one. Despite looking strong on the service, some of these performances are so paint-by-numbers that you can see the brushes' strokes and the story is plagued by being both overlong and lacking a clarity and depth. It comes across as incredibly condescending and patronising, with the film cluttered with characters you don't care about saying and doing things that make you hate them even more. Not one shred of humanity is present in this film or the characters and this potentially potent piece of satire lacks a clear direction or execution that inhibits any irony coming to fruition. It crumbles under the eight of its own self-importance and pride just moments after it begins and it doesn't even attempt to recover itself. Woefully mishandling its subject matter - the 2008 financial crisis - is the least of its problems, although that in itself is facile and laborious enough to make you hate this film as passionately as I do. My search for the year's worst film began and ended in January with this horror.