So keep that in mind when you read this list and think “Psh, he could have seen worse.” Trust me, I know. But that didn’t make these ten any less painful to sit through. Welcome to my annual vent session. Let’s begin.
10 - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
However, being better than the first movie is not enough to save this one from being a tired, poorly put-together action flop. Though the four protagonist brothers managed to be significantly less irksome in this film, the villainous henchman Bebop and Rocksteady filled that void almost immediately. They reminded me of a slightly less racist Skids and Mudflap from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which is a comparison that I do not give lightly. On top of that, the movie is bogged down with Stephen Amell’s terribly boring performance as the iconic TMNT character Casey Jones, the fact that the camera in Michael Bay-produced movies still seems to think Megan Fox is a sex object and the same pointless in-fighting between the turtles that all of these movies have. In the end, we were left with a poor attempt to cash in on the 80’s nostalgia wave and an example of what happens when you do what the fans want, but do it wrong.
9 - Warcraft
There are problems, however, that I feel like stem inherently from the fact that I have no knowledge of the Warcraft universe outside this movie, which made me as a viewer feel as though the movie was not made with anyone like me in mind. The first half of the film cuts between locations, characters and plot points with little regard for those in the theatre who don’t know what the fuck is going on. I felt like the 80 year olds that you expect to see confused throughout a Lord of the Rings movie, as I was constantly looking at a friend of mine and asking “Who’s that guy?” or “Where are they?”. As he had also never played Warcraft, he had no idea either.
Eventually, this issue bottoms out when the film gives way to its very generic story, but this merely shifts the issue over to the film’s characters. Perhaps these characters, all of whom fit generic fantasy archetypes without any level of innovation or creativity, would be more interesting to me if I knew their backstory or personality from playing the games. Or perhaps these characters are equally dull and lifeless in the games. Either way, the final product we are left with is a movie that seems to have little regard for anyone in the audience who isn’t familiar with the source material and does nothing to make up for this fact.
8 - X-Men: Apocalypse
If you answered yes to these questions, than you have seen X-Men: Apocalypse. This movie takes everything interesting about the good X-Men films, throws it out the window and tries to go for the spectacle, mind-numbing action angle. It never tries to talk about the deeper implications of being a mutant in the real world (something all the good X-Men movies do), but instead throws a series of increasingly ridiculous scenarios at the wall hoping something will stick. The terrible special effects quality mixed with lackluster villain characters make the action segments a chore. The performances by the newest members of the team are just as sloppy as the writing of the film itself, with even X-Men veterans like James McAvoy and Nicholas Hoult falling prey to the poor script. Worst of all may be the films portrayal of Magneto, whose allegiance seems to be as easily changed as Batman (I’ll get to that later). This is easily the worst Magneto performance we’ve ever seen, which is a shame seeing as Michael Fassbender portrayed him so well in his other two films.
In one scene, some of the younger X-Men are seen walking out of a screening of Return of the Jedi. As they exit, they are debating whether or not the movie was better than the original Star Wars or Empire Strikes Back. As they argue, one of them snidely remarks that the “third film in the series is always the worst”. I couldn’t agree more.
7 - Gods of Egypt
Of course they aren’t. One is Australian, another Danish and another Scottish. And maybe this wouldn’t be an issue that I’d care so much about if the movie wasn’t a goddamn mess, but it is. The action is sloppy and the special effects are borderline intolerable, which is pretty unforgivable for a movie whose sole purpose is to have flashy action sequences. I wish I could talk about the plot of the movie, but I can’t remember a single thing that happened in the film, as every action set piece was so jarring that I didn’t even really know what was going on while I was watching.
And then, as if the film wants to remind you that they don’t give a shit about hiring even vaguely region accurate actors, Gerard Butler’s performance hits you over the head like an anvil from a fucking Tom and Jerry cartoon. His performance is laughably ridiculous, not even trying to mask his Scottish accent as he screams at the top of his lungs. If not for the genuinely charming banter between the film’s two protagonists, this film may have easily been in my bottom three.
6 - Risen
The movie is filled to the brim with expository dialogue, delivered from the mouths of actors who seem almost as bored on set as we were in the theatre. And the lack of emotional weight from any of the actors makes anything that may have been exciting in the movie fall insanely flat. I wish I had more to say about the film, but the only word that even comes to mind when I think about it is boring. It’s a total drag to sit through, and I implore that you avoid the monotony that it offers.
5 - Suicide Squad
Supposedly edited together by the same people that put together the film’s trailer, Suicide Squad doesn’t ever seem to stop and give you a moment to breathe. With its over-saturated color palate and constant cacophony of sound and effects, the film feels like a headache that refuses to go away, pounding at the inside of your skull with no relief in sight besides just leaving the fucking theatre. The rapidity of the cuts between shots doesn’t make things any better, and merely stands to remind the audience of how many times it appears this film was reworked to try and make it into something palatable.
On the off chance that the film does give you a goddamn second to think, you start to realize that the sensory overload of the majority of the film is probably there to distract you from the horrible writing and completely detestable characters. The movie tries to pass off its characters as charming villains, bad guys who you can root for because they are fun to watch and share this inseparable connection. What the movie gives us is a bunch of unlikeable assholes, each with fewer positive qualities than the last who seem to just loudly clamor for the spotlight. And while all of the performances are bad in their own right, the most egregious by far is Jared Leto as what is probably the worst Joker in the history of Batman films. In the end, Suicide Squad's biggest fault is that it has completely turned me off the DC cinematic universe, extinguishing the last bit of hope that Marvel would have some kind of competition.
4 - Nine Lives
This movie feels like you dug up the worst time capsule from the 90’s about 300 years too early. Every element of this movie is a copy-and-paste trope of two-decade old family films, and these tropes have aged less like a fine wine and more like rotten meat. Before the movie even begins, you will have already figured out every intricacy of the plot, as the filmmakers have not even attempted to deviate from the kind of drivel this film seeks to mimic. The characters are shallow, dialogue unbearable, and the set design ghastly. I’d dare you to try and find a single shot in the movie that doesn’t have abrasively bright red in it, but that would mean you’d have to watch the movie and I don’t want you to have to do that.
On top of all of that, the film has some of the worst, most uncomfortable CGI I have seen in recent years. For shots where the filmmakers needed the cat to do something wacky or a stunt that would probably severely injure it, a CG effect that looks eerily like the dog from Son of the Mask plops onto screen and burns itself deep into both your retinas and your nightmares. During a scene towards the end of the movie, where a character jumps off the roof of a building and the cat follows, I actually started to think I was having some kind of fever dream. Unfortunately, I wasn’t.
3 - Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice epitomises the Zack Synder filmmaking code: all style, no substance. The film pits Batman and Superman against each other for reasons so sloppily cobbled together that I expect the writers assumed nobody would give a shit so long as the two heroes beat the fuck out of each other. The movie spends two grueling hours building up this unbelievable hatred between the two heroes, only to have it all fall apart when Batman realizes that their mothers share the same name (I’m not kidding). This movie features the dumbest Batman in the history of film, the least charismatic and most boring Superman in the history of film and a Lex Luthor that acts more like a hand-me-down Joker than the cocky businessman that he is supposed to be.
All of the movie’s stupidity and poor writing culminates when Batman and Superman eventually team up with Wonder Woman against Doomsday, a creation made by Lex Luthor to destroy Earth. Why does Luthor want to destroy Earth? Why does he even hate Superman in the first place? Why was it so easy for him to create Doomsday? What even is Doomsday? None of these questions are even remotely answered. The movie ends with the death of Superman, completely wasted on a film in which no one in the audience even remotely gave a shit about Superman, followed by the implication that Superman isn't actually dead, because God forbid they take a single risk in this dumpster-fire of a script. Just when I thought it couldn't get worse than Man of Steel, Snyder one upped himself with this detritus. I’m almost impressed.
2 - The Choice
These kind of movies aren’t my cup of tea to begin with, but I feel like I could have slightly more appreciation for the movie if the characters felt like people and not cardboard cut-outs of GQ and Victoria’s Secret models. The two leads have virtually no personality to speak of, which means that their chemistry in non-existent. And in a movie which hinges on the audience caring about the relationship between these two (seeing as nothing of note happens until the last 15 minutes of the movie), this makes the film preposterously boring. Imagine the ‘staring at each other’ segments from Drive, accept the characters aren’t developed, the director has no stylistic vision and the dialogue feels like it came off a goddamn throw pillow.
Once something finally does happen, prompting one of the lead characters to make the titular ‘choice’, it feels like it comes completely out of left field. Essentially, the female lead (I honestly don’t care enough to look up her character's name) gets hit by a car and the male lead has to choose whether or not to pull the plug. She has an expressly written will that says, if put in this situation, she wants to be taken off the life support, but the male lead selfishly can’t do it. When the female lead eventually recovers, it frames this as a triumph of the love of the male lead, as if it is somehow wrong to do the thing that your significant other wanted in that situation rather than leaving them in a state that they specifically said they didn’t want to be in. And that’s the tone of the whole film. Idealism with a hint of naivety and a side of bullshit. No thanks.
1 - Masterminds
The movie feels like it was written by a bunch of twelve years olds, or by the kinds of people that think uncreative toilet humor is hilarious. And where 2016’s Deadpool was clever along with being crude, this film decides that all it needs to do is show something raunchy or say something ridiculous to get a laugh. It feels like watching a problem child cry out for attention every few seconds by loudly farting or saying something about poop. The film seems like it is desperately vying for the attention of the audience without having a fucking clue as to what an audience actually wants out of a film.
Here are some of the film’s highlight moments of comedy. Zach Galifianakis and Kate McKinnon, an unhappily married couple, take awkward photos on a swingset. Full stop. Galifianakis puts talcum powder on his taint. Full stop. Galifianakis gets Montezuma's Revenge and poops in a pool. Full fucking stop. The entire movie is like this: an unfunny piece of comedy that has no set-up or punch-line to speak of. Scenes abruptly start and end with no purpose, with nothing to distract you from the fact that genuinely funny people like Galifianakis, McKinnon, Kristen Wiig, Jason Sudeikis and Owen Wilson are dying brutal deaths right in front of you. It is a horrible, unpleasant, festering waste-heap of a film. I squirmed in my seat uncomfortably for its 96 minute runtime, which felt as if an eternity would be shorter. To quote the excellent 90’s comedy television show The Critic, “It stinks”.