We’re into our top (or bottom) 10 now, and we’re starting the countdown with…
10 – A WRINKLE IN TIME
Disney has had success after success over the last few years, but their big-budget version of Madeleine L’Engle’s 1962 novel A Wrinkle In Time is proof that even the studio titan can slip up really badly every now and then.
This is a movie that should have been a slam-dunk hit, since it has Ava DuVernay directing, Frozen writer Jennifer Lee doing the script, and a diverse cast including Oprah Winfrey and Chris Pine, but while it just about made back its budget at the box office, this proved to be an utter disaster of epic proportions. Featuring imagery that makes you fear for the mental health of its filmmakers (including a giant smiling Oprah who’s dressed like a chicken), some awkward direction that you would mistake for M. Night Shyamalan than someone like DuVernay, and some pretty bad acting from most of the cast, who are either wide-eyed and bouncing off the walls as though they’ve just snorted from the biggest pile of cocaine in existence, or in the case of that painfully precocious little brother character Charles Wallace exceptionally annoying to watch, this is a major downgrade for a director who once directed the powerful Selma.
I almost feel bad for DuVernay, because as awful as this movie is she did try her hardest to turn this unfilmable book into a major motion picture, and regardless of its quality she did succeed in her goal. Unfortunately, she also happened to be working from a script that was as demented as half the imagery on display here, with terrible performances by people who really should know better like Reese Witherspoon and Michael Peña – except for Chris Pine and young lead Storm Reid, who both give the closest to a meaningful performance here – and dialogue so pretentious and full of itself that you’re left asking yourself why you’re at all supposed to be invested in any of this.
It was a rough one to sit through, and seeing that little shit Charles Wallace – who is one of the most obnoxious child characters I’ve had to endure in years – in almost every scene made it even more unbearable than it already was…
9 – THE DARKEST MINDS
Like any passing fad, the YA phenomenon has long since passed, but movies like The Darkest Minds still keep popping up, if only to remind us why these kinds of movies stopped being so popular in the first place.
This movie is every single YA movie trope and cliché done horribly, with no originality behind it; here, you have everything from the post-apocalyptic setting to the corrupt authoritarian governments to the forced love triangle between the bland good-looking female lead and the two even blander male co-stars, all with no variations and no passion behind any of it. You name it, if it’s popped up in any YA movie before, then it is present and correct here as well.
It’s just a cynical, soulless attempt to reignite this particular craze of YA adaptations, instead serving as a steady reminder of why audiences fell out of love with them to begin with. There is no reason to see this movie unless you have never seen one of these YA movies before, and even then you’d be way better off watching something like The Hunger Games because those movies feature more thoughtful stories, smarter scripts, more interesting characters, and not a total lack of stupidity which is also something that can be found in this world that continuously makes no sense from beginning to sequel-baiting end.
You can save yourself the trouble by just watching this SNL sketch instead which mocks YA clichés to no end, though if you put that sketch and this movie next to each other, odds are you won’t be able to tell which one is the parody…
8 – TRUTH OR DARE
Producer Jason Blum’s cost-effective business model has produced some really strong movies in recent years like Get Out, The Gift and this year’s Halloween, but unfortunately that means there’s always enough cash left over to make lousy horror flicks like Truth or Dare, which is utterly ridiculous even for a stupid fright-fest like this.
At its core, it’s another teen slasher flick but it doesn’t even have the decency to be an interesting one, especially with a set-up that could potentially be intriguing – people play a more intense game of truth or dare, or else they die – but is squandered with characters who all seem to blend together with no defining qualities as individuals, and scares that would be too tame for a 12A certificate than the 15 certificate this one was received.
Even sillier, the smiling demon that’s controlling this scare-free game is brought to life with the worst possible effects that you could conjure up, even for something with a fairly low-budget like this. Outside of the effect looking absolutely ridiculous and unintentionally hilarious, it is poorly rendered and resembles a throwaway Snapchat filter more than a demon you’re supposed to be scared of. Every time people start grinning wider than the Cheshire Cat after taking Viagra, it’s completely ridiculous that we are being asked to be afraid of something so adorably hilarious.
There is absolutely no reason to go out and watch this, unless you’ve lost a game of truth or dare yourself…
7 – SURVIVING CHRISTMAS WITH THE RELATIVES
Christmas has come and gone for another year, but at least we don’t have to deal with any more terrible festive flicks like this one for the rest of 2018.
The worst of the worst of the kind of movie we seem to get every Christmas, where a dysfunctional family comes together to spend a nightmare Yule with one another, this miserable and aggressively incompetent excuse for a festive comedy was not only obnoxiously unfunny – with comedy that’s about as old and tired as the lamest Christmas cracker joke – but was filled with such selfish and unlikeable characters doing horrible and miserable things that it’s almost enough to put you off celebrating the holiday altogether.
Wasting a perfectly good British cast including Joely Richardson, Gemma Whelan and James Fox is one thing, but to have this be both written and directed by James Dearden – who was once upon a time nominated for a screenplay Oscar for Fatal Attraction, and is now writing jokes about dogs taking Viagra – is somehow the biggest slap in the face of them all. The man can write a perfectly good screenplay, as evidenced by that very film he was up for awards for, so how he was able to write and make something so creatively inept, where nobody seems to be having a good time, is beyond comprehension.
This is the kind of bad Christmas movie you would give to your worst enemy as a thoughtless Secret Santa gift, just to show them how much you hate their guts. That’s all it’s good for, but other than that there is no way in hell you should make this your new Christmas movie classic…
6 – THE 15:17 TO PARIS
Clint Eastwood directing a movie about the heroic thwart of a terrorist attack? Sure, that could work. Casting the three real-life heroes as themselves in a movie all about them? A risky move, but if anyone can make it work, it’s Eastwood. But having it be the absolute worst film he has ever made? Now that’s the biggest shock of them all.
The fact that an Academy Award-winning filmmaker like Eastwood could make something so amateurishly put together, with terrible dialogue, awful acting, and absolutely no idea how an actual movie is structured, makes it absolutely astounding that it exists at all. Outside of the heroic incident itself, which is only covered in the film’s final fifteen minutes, there is no story to be found at all, unless you want to count endless recreated holiday footage or a thoroughly misguided look at their childhood (an early scene that sees the boys’ parents reject teachers’ concerns that they may have ADHD because of their faith pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the movie) as anything resembling a “plot”.
The three guys themselves – Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos – are real-life heroes, there is no denying that, but they are not professional actors and even under the direction of Eastwood struggle to act natural whenever they’re just hanging around doing nothing. They probably had fun making this movie – because after all, who wouldn’t turn down the chance to relive their European vacation and have it all paid for by the studio – but the movie they’re acting in does not do their act of heroism any justice, and since it is so shallow in its depiction of the events leading up to the event it makes these heroes look like the most boring and uninteresting people you could ever come across.
This was another one of the four films I watched in a row during a single day, and it was the one I saw right before Fifty Shades Freed, because at the time I thought I would at least get to see a film by Clint Eastwood before seeing the film I knew was going to be a stinker. As you may have read when Fifty Shades Freed was on this list, that film ended up as the second-best film I saw that day (the best, in case you’re curious, was the Colin Firth boat movie The Mercy, a movie I only remember because it was the best film I saw that whole day), leaving this in a miserable, but deserved, third place out of four.
Just wait until we reach what ended up being the very worst from that day…