Allow me to state the obvious: 2016 sucked big time. It will go down as the year of Brexit, the Zika virus, horrendous mass shootings in Orlando nightclubs, terrorist attacks in airports, President Donald Trump, and the hundreds of high-profile deaths from the world of entertainment (R.I.P David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Prince, Anton Yelchn, Harambe etc).
But the not-so-sweet cherry on top of this helping of horrendousness is the uncomfortably large amount of terrible films Hollywood subjected audiences to this year, all of which left their own distinctly awful taste in our collective mouths.
So, as part of Film Feeder’s annual look back over the past twelve months, leading up to the please-God-let-it-be-better start of 2017, I feel it appropriate to start with the absolute worst this year had to offer in the multiplexes. Then, to lighten the mood, the energy will be channelled into all the good stuff that came from Hollywood this year, and thankfully there were a lot of films in contention for the Best list.
Before all that, though, a quick reminder about how these particular lists work: films are only eligible if they were given an original UK release between January and December 2016, meaning that it has to have been out in the UK between those dates in order to qualify without being released elsewhere in the world. So, any awards holdovers like Spotlight or The Revenant are ineligible, as are any films that came out here this year after being released in the US and other territories (the Point Break remake, for example, came out in the US at the tail-end of 2015 before its UK release back in February of this year, otherwise you’d bet your bottom dollar that that piece of trash would have ended up on the Worst Of list). Basically, as long as it was released in the UK within the same year as its debut elsewhere in the world, it’s eligible to show up here.
And of course, these lists are all opinion-based: if you happen to disagree with any of these films being on whichever list, then by all means share your own opinion, which will always be respected. This is just a list of why I, the individual, personally deem to be both the best and films worst of the year.
Now, before countdown of the Worst of 2016 can begin, here’s a brief list of films (in no particular order) that certainly sucked, but didn’t quite suck enough to end up on this list:
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
- The Forest
- London Has Fallen
- The Boss
- Zoolander 2
- Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie
- Friend Request
- My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
- The Divergent Series: Allegiant
- Mechanic: Resurrection
- Free State of Jones
- Bad Santa 2
- The Secret Life of Pets
Okay, let’s get this over with…
15 – GODS OF EGYPT
The signs weren’t looking good for this film right from the start, with controversy over its mostly-white cast for a film set in Egypt, and a promotional campaign that put into the spotlight its laughably hokey CGI that wouldn’t pass as a PS3 game. No surprise, then, that Gods of Egypt turned out to be exactly the kind of dud that we were all expecting it to be, save for director Alex Proyas whose now-legendary online rant against film critics just brings home how much this film is despised amongst most people.
Yes, Gods of Egypt is bad, sometimes jaw-droppingly so, from the sheer nonsense it mistakes for an actual plot, to its thin cardboard characters played by actors who are far too good for this material (and as a result give some of their worst performances), to its absolute dire special effects, even in a film that cost over $140 million, which of course it didn’t come close to making back.
However, the reason it’s so low on this list is that it is so unintentionally funny that it’s actually one of those bad movies that can be so joyous to watch, albeit for the wrong reasons. Some of the effects, namely the kind that make actors like Gerard Butler and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s god characters look much larger than humans, look so fake that it’s impossible not to snigger as you watch them; same goes for some of the performances, particularly Butler who’s rehashing his King Leonidas schtick but to more hilarious effect, and a particularly awful Chadwick Boseman who seems to be counting down the minutes until he puts on his Black Panther suit.
So, in a strange way, despite undeniably being a terrible movie – so bad, it ended up on our Worst of 2016 list – Gods of Egypt is worth a recommendation for anyone seeking an entertaining so-bad-it’s good movie to ironically watch. It’s certainly more enjoyable than a lot of the other films on this list…
14 – SUICIDE SQUAD
Poor DC, once again falling behind Marvel not once but TWICE in the same year, between Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and this. The only reason that David Ayer’s supervillain team-up is on the list instead of Batman v Superman, is that at least with that film you more or less knew what to expect. Suicide Squad, on the other hand, was being touted as the one that would bring DC out of its current theatrical lull and actually make them a genuine brand to compete with Marvel. It didn’t, and instead ended up being the messiest, most inconsistent DC Universe film to date.
Although the cast was undoubtedly having a blast while making this, particularly Margot Robbie as the long-awaited big-screen version of Harley Quinn, the film ultimately came undone via some rather clunky editing, awkward soundtrack placements, and a jarring tonal shift from being funny and light-hearted one moment, and then serious and brooding the next. The alleged re-editing on Warner Bros’ behalf really shows, leaving several unexplained plot holes and especially large chunks of Jared Leto’s new incarnation of The Joker on the cutting room floor.
Elements of it do work, like the cast (even Leto, who divided audiences with his take on the classic villain, but honestly wasn’t terrible in our eyes) and parts of the action – that is, when it was clear enough to see after the terrible editing and camerawork – but ultimately, this was a giant disappointment to those expecting Warner Bros and DC to learn from their mistakes and actually deliver a cohesive film for once.
Fingers crossed that next year’s Wonder Woman and Justice League can finally fix what has been broken…
13 – WARCRAFT: THE BEGINNING
You can’t fault director Duncan Jones for having high ambitions with his adaptation of the ongoing gaming series World of Warcraft, but even that couldn’t save the resulting film – called Warcraft: The Beginning, but judging by its cold reception probably won’t even lead to The Middle let alone The End – from being deathly dull and exceedingly boring for anyone not already familiar with the brand.
For the most part, WoW fans appreciated it more for its familiar landscapes, characters and ideas, but you can’t make a $160 million effects-heavy film just for the fans, and so most people left the auditorium feeling underwhelmed and even confused about everything that had just transpired. Not everyone knows the world established previously in the games, so why should anyone outside of that fan base care about something that doesn’t even bother introducing things properly to them? That was ultimately the film’s biggest failure, by taking itself too seriously and trusting the audience to already know this stuff before going in, which left most of them feeling alienated and without a reason to care what’s going on, leading to a lot of zoning out in the cinema seat and a considerable lack of interest in anything other than how pretty it admittedly looks.
Its visual effects, or parts of it when it didn’t look so ridiculously cartoony, were the only few saving graces of the movie, which otherwise wastes a talented cast in nothing roles, and a plot that’s far too uninteresting and predictable, even for lovers of bad movies. Sadly, this doesn’t even reach a level of enjoyable badness like Gods of Egypt, it’s just an unfortunate bore that could have been so much more if Jones and his crew hadn’t placed all their eggs into one basket.
And again, it proves that the video-game curse is still active in cinema – who knows when it will finally be broken (don’t hold your breath for Assassin’s Creed, just in case…)
12 – INFERNO
2016 was full of sequels that came out some years after its predecessor, like Alice Through The Looking Glass, Independence Day: Resurgence and Zoolander 2 among many others, and aside from the odd good one like Finding Dory, they mostly sucked hard as they failed to capture what made the original so popular in the first place. But perhaps none were quite as bafflingly stupid as Inferno, director Ron Howard’s long-in-the-works third instalment of Dan Brown adaptations, following The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, both of which may not have been masterpieces but were still a hundred times better than this dreck.
Taking away Tom Hanks’ Robert Langdon character’s intellectual mind was somehow appropriate, because Inferno also happens to be completely devoid of logical and reasonable deduction. Piles upon piles of exposition about Dante’s masterwork and how it ties into some convoluted plot to wipe out half of humanity with a virus fail to cover up how dumb it actually is, with every revealing plot development being more dangerously loony than the last one, adding up to something that not only makes no sense, but insults the audiences that enjoyed the other two movies by giving them an inferior product as a reward for all their waiting.
It would be impossible to even try to explain half the plot, because the film throws so much at you in such a short space of time that you are left with not much time to absorb all the dumb things about it. Brown may not have been the best writer, but David Koepp’s adaptation of his book of the same name does little to improve his credibility, and makes him seem even more like a creatively-bankrupt loon which was certainly not the intention, but is definitely how it comes across.
Inferno was one of the dumber films to experience this year, and given we’re not even a third of the way into this list, you should be afraid for what’s coming next…
11 – THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE
Okay, so maybe this one isn’t as technically bad as the other ones on this list so far, as it does have some admittedly colourful animation, but The Angry Birds Movie deserves a higher place based purely off of its pure cynicism alone.
The popular phone app had spawned countless spin-off games, toys, and even its own cartoon series, but a fully-CG animated film based on the brand appears to be a step too far in its global franchise. It is a film that, much like all its other products, is designed purely to sell toys, games etc, because nothing else about it warrants a revisit from its obnoxious characters, to its stale and predictable storyline (which is more or less spelled out for you in the officially-released trailer you see above), to an endless amount of lowest common denominator gross-out gags that will only please you if you are under or just over the age of six – and even then, kids of that age or indeed any age deserve much better quality entertainment.
A talented voice cast that includes Jason Sudeikis, Bill Hader, Peter Dinklage and, bizarrely, Sean Penn as a mostly-mute giant red bird, are left to make this cringey material work to the best of their ability, and it’s hardly their fault that they were given a script that makes it so painfully obvious it was conceived just to make more money. Just the levels of pure corporate cynicism, mixed in with a lazy script that even kids wouldn’t necessarily find much to laugh at (aside from, “oh, look, that giant eagle peed in the pond, tee-hee, that’s funny to my young and underdeveloped mind!”), made this a particularly painful film to watch, let alone write about for a year-end analysis of the best and worst films of the past twelve months.
Honestly, just load the app on your phone and play along. You’re bound to have a much more fun time…