As we’ve mentioned in our other list, while we’re only halfway through 2016, we’ve already seen some pretty fantastic movies. We’ve gotten Shane Black’s surprisingly funny Nice Guys, the Russo Brother’s epic Captain America: Civil War, and Dan Tratchtenberg’s eerily tense debut 10 Cloverfield Lane just to name a few. But for every great film, there is a not so great one lurking in the shadows. Just like the ying to the yang, the ebb to the flow, we can’t show you our top picks of 2016 so far without showing you some of our bottom ones. And there are a bunch from the bottom of the barrel to choose from.
From clunky blockbuster epics, to painfully dull comedic satires, to horror movies that are more boring than terrifying, these next 15 films have left us unimpressed and disappointed. There’s nothing worse than exiting a movie theater and regretting spending some of your hard earned cash on a bad production, but that’s probably what happened when you saw these next entries. To rank them, we’re calling back to our original reviews we gave each film upon their release.
Get ready to scrape the bottom of the barrel; here are Our 15 Least Favorite Movies of 2016 (So Far).
15. Alice Through the Looking Glass
2.5 out of 5
Picking up three years after Alice (Mia Wasikowska) makes her second trip down the rabbit hole to Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass has the titular heroine journey back to the magical realm in order to save her friend, the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp). Alice must call upon the help of Time himself, and journey back to the past of Wonderland’s history to save Hatter’s family, while preventing the fragile timeline from being broken in the process.
Like many of the characters in Through the Looking Glass, the film itself is beautiful to look at, but rather hallow at its core. The end product comes across more as a rushed Disney project to keep the Alice franchise afloat, rather than a meaningful continuation of the character’s story. Even the returning cast of Depp, Hathaway, and Bonham Carter isn’t enough to elevate this forgettable film to something more worthwhile. Disney should have used Alice’s time-traveling Chronosphere themselves to go back in time and warn the filmmakers not to waste their efforts on this forced sequel.
14. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
2.5 out of 5
Like Through the Looking Glass, the folks behind My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 waited far too long to produce a sequel that didn’t really warrant one in the first place. This follow-up to 2002’s sleeper hit picks up with Toula Portokalos-Miller and her husband Ian adjusting to their life as a seasoned married couple with a daughter who desperately wants to go to college out of State. Toula’s wacky/lovable Greek family comes back into the mix when it is revealed that the parents were never officially married, a weak catalyst used to throw yet another bombastic Greek Wedding.
Nia Vardalos’ sequel isn’t a bad movie, but it just isn’t quite up to par when compared to the breakout original. It features a number of references and call back jokes to its predecessor, some of which work, and some of which just appear very dated. Like the original, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is a formulaic romcom, but a charming one that almost makes up for its lack of substance with its genuineness. Almost.
13. Zoolander 2
2.5 out of 5
Continuing the trend of sequels that waited far too long to follow their predecessors (the original Zoolander was released way back in 2001), Ben Stiller and company’s Zoolander 2 just doesn’t capture the same relevancy and charm that elevated its predecessor to cult status. Rather than marching to the beat of its own drum, or rather walking to its own beat on the catwalk, Zoolander 2 is a carbon copy of the original. It rehashes a lot of the same jokes from the first installment while diving too deep into the spy/thriller subgenre, creating a hodgepodge of ideas that just don’t quite come together.
While Stiller as a filmmaker has come a long way since 2001, all the pomp and technique, direction and cinematography wise, is wasted here. Instead, more time should have gone into developing a script that was more relevant to a modern audience. While the movie still earns a few worthy belly laughs by doing what it does best by lampooning the fashion industry, its forced attempts to stay relevant (jabs at selfie-sticks and facebook fall flat here) come across rather forced. Like Derek’s arc in the first installment, the franchise has to come to grips that it’s just not “hot” anymore, and we’re left wondering if Zoolander 2 would have been more palpable if released ten years prior.
12. Me Before You
2.5 out of 5
With aspirations to become the next great romantic drama, Me Before You falls drastically short, instead becoming a roadmap that journeys through all of the genre’s overused clichés. The story follows Emilia Clarke as a plucky caretaker who is tasked with lifting the spirits of a recently paralyzed daredevil who has grown bitter about life. Clarke’s character teaches Sam Claflin’s how to live again in a series of feel-good moments, and the slogans and campaigns ads for this sappy melodrama practically write themselves as the two begin to fall for one another.
For a production dealing in such serious subject matter as it does, many of the moments in Me Before You don’t feel like they’re quite earned. The emotional investment that we are supposed to have in the two lead characters is mysteriously absent, and instead of becoming attached, we’re just left thinking that we’ve seen this plot play out a million times before with characters written much better than this. While the acting is decent enough, especially Game of Thrones alum Emilia Clarke, it isn’t enough to save the film from the tired romantic forula we’ve seen a hundred times before.
11. Ratchet and Clank
2 out of 5
As we’ve seen from past productions, video games don’t always make the best source material when it comes to film adaptations. Usually a rushed marketing ploy to cash in on the name brand, most of these movies lack the inventiveness that made their gaming counterparts so unique, and unfortunately Ratchet & Clank follows this unsuccessful trend. While the franchise was known for its silly irreverent humor and colorful cast of characters, the movie just doesn’t have enough meat and potatoes to warrant a full-fledged narrative experience.
The film itself, aside from a few golden moments, is a prime example of wasted potential. Taking into account this is a film geared at kids, the story is still painfully simplistic with little food for thought. The generic plot and characters fail to leave a meaningful impact, with the movie coming across as more of an hour and a half trailer for its video game counterpart released around the same time. Fans of the franchise might find fleeting moments that make them crack a smile, but as a standalone concept for a movie, Ratchet & Clank is far too simplistic, and ultimately, a disappointment.
10. Ride Along 2
2 out of 5
After the moderate success of Ice Cube and Kevin Hart’s buddy-cop comedy Ride Along, an eventual sequel with the thoughts of a potential franchise were inevitable. Unlike its predecessor however, Ride Along 2 doesn’t have the same level of charisma or energy, making it a pale and rushed imitation of what came before.
Hart and Cube’s characters are once again paired up here when the latter wants to prove to the former that he’s just not cut out to be a cop. The two go on another “ride along” to break up a drug ring down in Florida with wacky mishaps flying at them every which way. If this plot sounds familiar, it should. Writers Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi rehash a number of plot beats and even character arcs from the first movie, resulting in most of the gags and shenanigans feeling all too familiar to appear fresh or funny. The best part about the film is Hart’s undeniable charisma, but that can only carry the movie so far. Ride Along 2 is such an uninspired sequel that we can’t help thinking, “been there, done that.”
9. The Angry Birds Movie
2 out of 5
When it was announced that an entire movie was to be made on the unbelievably popular phone app, Angry Birds, it raised a few eyebrows to say the least. We had seen movies based on video games before, but none that were based on mindless phone applications. How could launching birds into a group of pigs translate into a compelling narrative? The answer is it doesn’t, and while it features the occasional chuckle, The Angry Birds Movie is a pretty empty experience that doesn’t offer much aside from its well-crafted visuals.
The film’s biggest weakness is in the characters, which are almost totally devoid of any depth or nuance. We understand that this is a movie geared at kids, but even the best children’s movies, like the recent Finding Dory, understand that it’s important to have well-fleshed out characters we can relate to. The characters in Angry Birds are paper thin sketches that come across more cynical than likable, making their arcs in the end feel unearned. In the end the naysayers were proved right, as The Angry Birds Movie is just an hour and a half commercial for brand awareness and merchandising rather than a real cinema experience.
8. The Huntsman: Winter’s War
2 out of 5
Suffering from a number of problems from the get-go, The Huntsman: Winter’s War turned out exactly how one would think: a rushed production with messy direction and empty characters. While the critical response was mixed for the film’s predecessor, it did make enough money to warrant a sequel. However, red flags went up when director Rupert Sanders and star Kristen Stewart dropped out early on after tensions in pre-production. It led to the second unit director, Cedric Nicholas-Troyan, being chosen to pick up the pieces with this marking his first feature length debut as director. Unfortunately, the inexperience shows.
Winter’s War is undermined by most of all, awkward filmmaking. Most of the characterizations here fall completely flat, with a large section of the film dedicated to explaining why Snow White isn’t present (Stewart’s role ended up being completely cut out). The film also provides a lengthy backstory to the Huntsman, one that wasn’t needed in the first place, making his character much less mysterious and nuanced than before. Even the special effects and set pieces are bland when compared to the first entry, leaving very little redeeming factors to be had in this bleak rendering of the classic fairytale.
7. London Has Fallen
2 out of 5
In 2013 audiences were treated to the film Olympus Has Fallen, a by-the-numbers action romp that retread the popular Die Hard formula. It was enjoyable nonetheless for its throwback to the bombastic action that was so fashionable in the 80s and 90s, and notable for the charismatic lead character played by Gerard Butler. So of course when that movie made money, studios didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger on a sequel, which turned out as flat and uninspired as one would think.
While Olympus was enjoyable for its retro action reversions, London Has Fallen takes that same formula and hits every beat with less charisma than before. Butler’s character, who at least had a basic redemption arc in the first installment, is noticeably flat here, becoming just another two-dimensional hero who transforms into an unstoppable killing machine at the flip of a switch. While there are shootouts that will satisfy most action junkies, the rest of the film falls flat, and action alone isn’t enough to save a production that would have been better suited for a straight-to-DVD release.
2 out of 5
Who knew that a movie starring the likes of Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds could turn out so incoherent and bland? That’s the cast that cinematic dreams should be made of, not nightmares. Unfortunately, sci-fi/thriller Criminal turns out to be the latter, relying on uncreative choices that bog down the film into an overall forgettable experience. Criminal moves at such a brisk pace that not much time is allowed to let the viewer catch their breath, with too much emphasis on forward momentum rather than developing characters and story.
That nonstop momentum results in a plot filled with enough gaping holes that after a while, the viewer forgets what is happening and why they should care. Criminal’s worst sin however is its absence of style. Everything from its direction to cinematography is painfully bland, even the action scenes leave something to be desired. Aside from Costner’s enjoyably evil rendition of Jericho, most of the characters are surprisingly flat, especially Ryan Reynold’s Bill Pope who appears to be just going through the motions for a guy interacting with a criminal’s past memories. For a cast like this, Criminal is felonious itself if not for the heaps of wasted potential.
5. The Divergent Series: Allegiant
2 out of 5
Following the likes of Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and Twilight, the last chapter in the Divergent Series was split into two separate movies. Whether this was for creative liberties or merely a stunt to boost up ticket sales is left to be determined, but what is for sure is that Allegiant is not a good movie, and easily the weakest entry in the entire franchise. The film is unable, or unwilling, to gather enough material to form a three-act narrative based on the source material being split, adding up to a very unsatisfying payoff in the third act.
What’s worse is that most of the scenes in Allegiant are annoyingly exposition heavy in a weak attempt to build up the world’s mythology. By contrast it puts character development on the backburner, and while fans have familiarized themselves with the core group of characters, very little is offered here for them to grow or be expanded on. Everyone from the main cast to supporting players seem to be on auto-pilot, especially the usually enjoyable Jeff Daniels who looks bored out of his mind. The Divergent Series: Allegiant is a half-baked penultimate entry that does little to further the franchise, and fails to justify the questionable decision to split the source material into two movies.
4. The Forest
2 out of 5
Unlike like the solid ghost story of this past month’s The Conjuring 2, director Jason Zada’s The Forest fails in the most shocking way a horror can: by being genuinely non-scary. After her twin sister goes missing in Japan’s mysterious Suicide Forest, Sara Price journeys into that same forest because, like every horror movie, we need our main character to journey into spooky places even though they are fully aware something bad will happen. It’s just one of the many tired horror tropes that are rehashed during the 94-minute runtime of The Forest.
What’s really disappointing about Zada’s film is that the first act takes so much time to set up a well-established atmosphere. Using some decent cinematography, the forest is captured in a very unsettling and creepy manor. Unfortunately, all of that great atmospheric tension is thrown out the window once the mindless jump scares start popping up midway through the second act. Despite a committed performance by Game of Thrones’ Natalie Dormer, the characters are just as laughably shallow as the direction. The team journeying into the haunted woods make bad decisions long before the forest starts messing with their heads. Based on true events (sort of), The Forest is a slightly creepy movie that is undermined by its lack of inventiveness and effective scares.
3. Independence Day: Resurgence
2 out of 5
From Star Wars: The Force Awakens, to Jurassic World, to the highly anticipated Indiana Jones 5, Hollywood has recently taken it upon themselves to rejuvenate some old classics, putting a spin on them to introduce the beloved franchises to a new generation. While this has worked for the above mentioned sequels, it completely backfired on the recently released Independence Day: Resurgence, which tried so desperately to set up a new generation of characters and lore, and failed so miserably.
For an actual disaster movie, Resurgence is a cinematic disaster on screen; an absolute mess of too many ideas and concepts going on at once. This is a convoluted sequel that waited 15 years too late to be made. The script is in need of tremendous work, riddled with cheesy dialog and character actions that just don’t make sense. The new gang of characters that were supposed to reinvigorate the ID4 franchise here fall flat, and Will Smith’s presence is surprisingly sorely felt. Even returning actors Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman couldn’t save Independence Day: Resurgence from obscurity, although their roles were just about the best thing in the movie. Roland Emmerich’s much awaited alien invasion sequel is a missed opportunity, one that takes itself far too seriously, and fails to realize that missing dose of fun is what made the original such a success in the first place.
2 out of 5
Laboring in pre-production hell for years, Warcraft finally got the ball rolling when director Duncan Jones signed on to helm the project. Based on the popular MMO video game, the movie looked like it would be an assured summer blockbuster, especially with Jones behind the steering wheel. It now appears that the epic might have been too much for the cast and crew to handle, as Warcraft comes off as a pretty bland fantasy experience as opposed to the beginning of an epic franchise.
While the film is a wonderful display of visual effects, it leaves much to be desired when it comes to rich characters and a cohesive story. Jones’ film is more interested in setting up and explaining the lore, which don’t add much to the present narrative. Locales and backstories are tossed around that are rarely brought up again. With a film like Warcraft, the scope of the movie is quite narrow. There are only 5 or 6 principle characters, human and Orc alike, and each of them is just as bland and uninteresting as the last. Like we’ve seen so many times before with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and the more recent Batman v Superman, Warcraft spends too much time setting up a world for future installments, forgetting to be a great movie on its own merit.
1. Gods of Egypt
1.5 out of 5
Even when a movie is bad, it can be so campy and over-the-top that it becomes laughably enjoyable in the process. Those flicks have the ability to entertain if only for their inability to take themselves seriously. Then there are movies which are so dull, so bland and mundane, that they’re not even entertaining on a campy scale.
Gods of Egypt is one of those movies.
Pulling in our lowest score of the year so far with 1.5 stars, it’s the movie that generated more buzz about its whitewashed casting decisions rather than the content of the film itself. Gods of Egypt is a film that is flawed on virtually every level from its sophomoric script, to its bland direction and special effects, to its poor casting choices. It’s an unimpressive fantasy adventure that takes itself way too seriously, and as a result there is little to no fun to be had when watching this miserable production. It comes across more as a bad video game than it does a feature length film, with endless boss fights stuffed with oversaturated CGI. The film is overcrowded with too many drab subplots to count, with shoddy special effects that should have been the film’s only grace note. While the filmmakers behind Gods of Egypt might have set out to make a modern day epic, they only succeeded in creating an epic disaster, making this our least favorite film of 2016 so far, and hopefully, for good.
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