Though movie review aggregators have courted a bit of controversy in the past year, they're still an indispensable tool for polling the opinions of the public and professional critics alike regarding the merits of any film that hopes to catch fire at the box office.
Among these, Rotten Tomatoes remains the gold standard: able to make or break any flick with its "certified fresh" rating, which has come to be regarded as an industry-recognized stamp of approval. Every year, however, a bevy of films receive the dreaded "rotten" label, but only a handful fall below the twentieth percentile and an even smaller number are permanently saddled with the 0% rating. Here are ten of the worst films of 2018, according to the website.
10 The Darkest Minds: 17%
This adaptation of Alexandra Bracken’s teen dystopian novel isn’t less a satisfying film than a feature-length table setting (throat clearing may be more like it) for a franchise that likely won’t come.
Audiences already fatigued from post-apocalyptic kiddie fiction on the big screen like The Hunger Games and Divergent series turned their back on it, and critics saw through the final product to the money-hungry intentions behind this wholly derivative production.
9 Truth or Dare: 16%
In a seeming experiment to test brand-loyalty, Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare put the reigning horror studio’s name right there in the title to sell this turkey to audiences who could smell its stink a mile away.
And it worked: the film was a box office success, grossing $95 million worldwide against its $3.5 million production budget, while critics were entirely unenthused by what they considered a largely tame, paint-by-numbers spook show.
8 Robin Hood: 15%
It seems that every generation gets a new, increasingly worse version of the tights-wearing robber of the rich. Seriously, just by charting the average critic score from the character’s apex as a mustachioed Errol Fynn in 1938 (100% fresh) on down through Disney’s animals-only adaptation in 1973 (52%), to Kevin Costner’s 1991 misfire, Prince of Thieves (51%) and the Ridley Scott’s 2010 riff on the legend (41%), the character has become the poster boy for diminishing returns.
At the absolute bottom of the barrel, you’ll find last year’s Robin Hood--a rendition that plays fast and loose with the source material for an irritating, contemporary-flavored take on a classic property.
7 Life Itself: 13%
The runaway success of NBC’s This Is Us, notwithstanding, writer/director Dan Fogelman has a reputation for passing off the lugubrious as the profound, and this tendency reaches maximum excruciation with this mawkish and manipulative screen debut.
This “it’s all connected” melodrama was the burgeoning Amazon Studios’ first big loser, falling well-below its projected box-office gross in its premiere week in the second worst opening since 1982 by a film that opened at over 2,500 theaters. Critics described it as “cringe-worthy” ” at best, “misogynistic” at worst, and Fogelman seems content to blame anyone but himself for the failure of his masterpiece of misery.
6 Fifty Shades Freed: 12%
The Rotten Tomatoes score for the abortive climax of the much maligned, much tweeted-about, S&M-for-the-stroller-set series ties with the trilogy’s middle entry, with both falling a bit below the first film, which is practically sitting pretty (comparatively) at 25%.
Though Dakota Johnson’s turn as Anastasia Steele still received the faintest praise for keeping this barely watchable, critics were all too happy to celebrate the long-awaited death of a series that sold itself on spice but was ultimately bland and conservative in its messaging.
5 Peppermint: 12%
Jennifer Garner may have played the mom we all wish we had in Love, Simon, but Peppermint squanders that warm parental pathos in a dusty vigilante tale that utterly wastes her.
It may have done fair business at the box office, but critics found the film ’s sociopolitical blindspots outright offensive (similarly to Eli Roth’s ill-advised Death Wish remake) and pointed out that Hollywood still, mystifying, seems uncertain just how to make a female-led action movie work.
4 Billionaire Boys Club: 7%
A macho crime caper that plays like Wolf of Wall Street: The Next Generation, this film about a group of wealthy young douches engaging in dirty deals and deadly antics came and went without a single note of fanfare.
Not only does it have the unpleasant distinction of being one of the last films made by Kevin Spacey before the accusations against him gained ground, but its domestic opening weekend box office take of just $618 was the lowest of his career, making his fall from grace all but complete.
3 Slender Man: 7%
This dead-on-arrival take on creepypasta’s favorite ghoul was panned by both audiences and critics alike for its nonsensical story, one-dimensional characters, poor effects and total lack of scares.
Adding insult to injury, Sony tied up the release of an independent feature, Flay to protect the rights to the character in a hawkish legal move that looked patently ridiculous when audiences finally saw the final product that the indie was supposedly riding the coattails of.
2 211: 5%
Though Nicolas Cage got some of his best notices in recent memory with Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy last year, it just wouldn’t be a ten worst list without the infamously off-the-wall actor.
A direct-to-video actioner, 211 is bloated with cliches and caused Frank Scheck of the Hollywood Reporter to lament: "It's probably foolish to wish that Nicolas Cage would once again make movies as good as Adaptation and Leaving Las Vegas. But is it too much to ask that he go back to the comparative glory days of Con Air and The Rock?."
1 Gotti: 0%
2018 produced multiple films that received the big goose egg from critics (Reprisal, Father of the Year) but none had the buzz of Gotti, an unmitigated disaster starring John Travolta as the infamous crime boss.
This biopic not only failed to turn a profit at the box office, but critics chafed at the film’s characterization of the brutal don as just another family guy--a slap in the face to the victims of his myriad crimes and their loved ones.