It’s time to reveal the bottom 10, and we’re kicking things off with…
10 – THE FINEST HOURS
M. Night Shyamalan may not have been involved in Disney’s live-action retelling of a famous 1950s coastal rescue of a sinking oil tanker, but given the hokeyness and robotic execution by actual director Craig Gillespie, it wouldn’t be much of a shock that Shyamalan was using that name as a front.
A rare dud in Disney’s otherwise stellar year at the box office as well as with critics, The Finest Hours did the ultimate disservice to the fascinating real-life incident by making it seem completely uninteresting and without much of a reason to care about the dozens of people involved. It felt like a complete waste of time right from the first few moments, where the incessant blandness and unengaging nature of both the story and characters reeked to high heaven so much that it clouded everything else that could have made this a gripping true story brought to life on the big screen.
Life, however, is fundamentally what it lacks, and nowhere is that more evident than in the lead performance by Chris Pine, a usually reliable and charismatic actor who here gives a performance so terrible and without any passion to it whatsoever that he soon becomes to that film what Mark Wahlberg ended up being to The Happening, a good actor reduced to acting as though he had never acted before in his life. Thank goodness he rebounded later in the year with Star Trek Beyond and especially Hell or High Water, because this was a major embarrassment for the actor, as well as everyone else involved in this film.
A giant missed opportunity that’s soaked in uncontrollable blandness, The Finest Hours are definitely not the right thing to describe this film as to anyone…
9 – DAD’S ARMY
When they announced that a new big-screen version of the classic sitcom Dad’s Army was going to be made, people were sceptical because, as history has proven, films based on popular comedy TV shows usually don’t translate well outside of a half-hour running time. Turns out they were right, as this is more like a weary tribute band than something actually meant to replicate that show’s appeal.
Despite the excellent British cast, including Toby Jones, Bill Nighy, Michael Gambon and Tom Courtenay among others, they are mostly stuck with some terrible direction that fails to capture the right tone, often being overly serious without ever once being actually funny, and writing that seems to take fifty giant steps backwards when it comes to basic humour, character development, and gender politics (this is the kind of film that finishes with the words “The End” spliced on a shot of Catherine Zeta-Jones’ rear).
Most of all, they are in a project that seriously undermines the wit and genuine cleverness of the original, leaving audiences familiar with the show disappointed by its failure to recapture its initial appeal, and those that haven’t even seen an episode indescribably bored by the consistent unfunny material being paraded quite embarrassingly for its gullible audience. It is a film that somehow seems to hate the very thing it was adapted from, as it brings out all the worst qualities that the original had to offer, without once being as funny or as clever as the show truly was.
However, it certainly isn’t the worst offering from British comedy this year – just wait until we get further down the list…
8 – MOTHER’S DAY
Of the many high profile Hollywood deaths this year, director Garry Marshall’s passing at the grand old age of 81 was extremely unfortunate; not only did he leave behind a legacy that included TV shows Happy Days and Mork & Mindy as well as directing films like Pretty Woman and Beaches, but his final film before his passing was one of his worst in recent years. And sadly, it was so bad that it’s on this list for the whole world to see.
Mother’s Day, which was Marshall’s third film in what is now an abrupt trilogy of large ensemble holiday movies, after Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, is an overly syrupy and uncomfortably cynical attempt to once more copy the Love Actually formula by placing several well-known actors in stories centred around a particular holiday, none of them actually getting to the heart of what it’s meant to represent. Instead, it’s a soulless and vapid look at several unlikeable characters in contrived situations designed to get a cheap emotion out of its paying audience, and despite the efforts of some of that cast like Jennifer Aniston, even they can’t bring such horrible material to life.
Again, I feel bad for picking on this film so much because it did turn out to be the last film in Marshall’s long and strong career, and given that he was approaching his 80s when he made this film, let alone his previous two films, that was a seriously awesome record to uphold. However, when a film like Mother’s Day is so bad that it ends up being a late low-point for an otherwise steady director, it’s even sadder that he ended up going out on a bum note such as this.
Marshall’s legacy is definitely going strong, but films like Mother’s Day are the worst examples of what he left behind…
7 – ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE
It’s quite baffling that the Ice Age franchise is still going, despite a declining box office and reviews that get worse and worse with each new film. Yet, we now find ourselves at the animated film series’ rock bottom with Collision Course, which is not only the worst one out of the lot yet, but also bears the distinct honour of being the year’s worst animated family film… and keep in mind, this year also gave us Norm of the North!
It’s painfully obvious that this franchise is dead in the water when they decide to go a sci-fi route for its fifth instalment, complete with alien spaceships and giant asteroids headed towards our planet. The desperation is bad enough, but the characters that people enjoyed in the first two films at least have become hollow caricatures of themselves, with Ray Romano’s mammoth Manny in particular reduced to a scheming parent from a rubbish sitcom, and the humour has become stale and oh-so-pandering (modern slang dropped left and right, references to hashtags and profile pictures, even though it’s the friggin’ Ice Age), that it can’t be classed as wholesome family entertainment anymore.
It’s sad, really, especially for anyone who still looks back fondly on at least the first film with nostalgic eyes. They along with most of the rest of the world dismissed this as a pale attempt to keep a dead franchise afloat, and the results are extremely uncomfortable to watch as Fox and Blue Sky continuously try to give it oxygen in any way they can, when they can’t realise it’s already a rotting corpse. Hopefully, they will learn from their lesson – as well as its underwhelming box office intake – and finally put this once-enjoyable franchise to rest like it should have done after the third film.
Because when not even Scrat and his beloved acorn can score laughs anymore, you know it’s finally time to put this franchise back on ice…
6 – HARDCORE HENRY
It sounded like an interesting concept – a balls-to-the-wall action film shot entirely from the main character’s point of view. Many were curious about how this gimmick could last for an entire movie, as opposed to a five-minute YouTube video (which it apparently took its inspiration from). Unfortunately, though it has its fans, for others Hardcore Henry turned out to be a failed experiment that took its out-there concept to far too extreme and, in my personal case, extremely nauseating levels.
The amount of motion sickness I got from watching this film, the first from Russian director Ilya Naishuller, was enough to send back up my digesting cinema snacks as a less-than-appetising entrée (word of warning: don’t watch this film while eating). The gimmick of having everything filmed from the hero’s perspective ultimately backfires because so much is going on in terms of action that it’s impossible to take a chance to catch one’s breath, and it’s shot so haphazardly that sometimes it’s hard to even tell what’s actually going on. Visually, the film’s biggest selling point also made it almost unwatchable.
Its slight plot (and we mean “plot” in the loosest of terms) that focuses far more on the action is easily forgivable, but its often sadistic lust for violence certainly isn’t, and if the film wasn’t shot so roughly then it’s likely that’s what would have made me throw up anyway. It gets to a point where the action and pursuing violence becomes so extreme that you have a hard time enjoying yourself, and leaves you so sucker-punched afterwards that you seriously need to at least have your retinas checked to see if they haven’t gone out of sync.
Again, Hardcore Henry has its fans, and good for them for getting more enjoyment out of it than I did, but it still left me with an exceedingly grim and nauseating action movie that nobody with a light stomach should even try to start watching. And if you do, have your sick bags on standby…