Alright, well we got through all the GOOD stuff, so now it’s time to remember 2016 the way it SHOULD be; as one never ending nightmare of awfulness and broken dreams. There were no shortage of bad films this year which admittedly is true of ANY year, but the yearly ritual of remembering the worst of the worst must be maintained, and so I present the worst of what I had to sit through in the hopes that I can spare some of you the anguish that these films have caused me. Well there’s no point in dragging it out. Let’s get this over with.
Dishonorable Mention: The Do-Over
How bad is this movie? It is so blisteringly awful that I couldn’t even finish the damn thing. At one point (when I was truly naïve), I had decided to review all four of the Adam Sandler Netflix films as they came out and I managed to get through The Ridiculous 6 mostly unscathed. This proved to be quite the fool’s errand however as the film they did AFTER that is so much worse. I’ve got two thousand words already written about the movie, and I just abandoned that shit when we got to the part where Adam Sandler was fucking a blow up doll for no reason. I managed to see MAYBE ten minutes or so after that where David Spade was creepily (and successfully) macking on the window of the guy who’s identity he stole before realizing that there’s no way in hell I’m finishing the rest of this even for the purposes of a review. Neither of the main actors, Adam Sandler and David Spade, give the smallest of shits about this movie (the latter is straight up smiling during an emotionally distressing moment), the film is shot like a REALLY bad porno (Stormy Daniels is clearly a far better director than Steven Brill considering how flat and under lit everything is in here), and the film is just so unbearably mean spirited without the tiniest bit of legitimate humor to back it up… unless of course you think that Luis Luis Guzmán’s ball sweat dripping on David Spade’s forehead is the height of comic genius. Adam Sandler is just going to continue regressing further and further into his own comfort zone; not unlike someone else on this list, but we’ll get to them soon enough. Look, everyone knows better by this point than to take Adam Sandler seriously ever again, so you don’t need me to tell you that he’s made another crappy movie. If you’ve already managed to avoid this one, then keep on doing so; especially considering how much great content Netflix produces that you can be watching instead of this garbage fire from a bunch of lazy hacks.
ANOTHER Dishonorable Mention: Nine Lives
This one just BARELY made it on the list as I completely forgot about until I was almost done writing this damn thing. It’s terrible, but in such a cynically obvious way that staying mad at it or even getting histrionic about how much it sucks is just not all that appealing to me. It’s so typical and bland in how it’s bad that a more measured examination of it might be warranted over a befuddled rant that feigns ignorance that this was going to be anything other than awful. I don’t know what possessed anyone here to sign their name on it, particularly Barry Sonnenfeld who doesn’t always make good movies but at least makes BIG movies. Then again, the guy has been slumming it on TV for the past decade, so maybe this is all he can get made for the big screen. He’s currently working on that Series of Unfortunate Events series for Netflix, so maybe he’ll find a better fit in that kind of stylized world, but this is just an embarrassment for everyone involved. At least it WOULD be if it wasn’t so clear that this was a paycheck gig and nothing more. Some people have made the argument that Worst of the Year Lists create a toxic atmosphere in the world of criticism and some have even decided to stop doing them altogether. I don’t really ascribe to that point of view, but I can kind of see it when ragging on something as pointless as this. There are films this year that are MUCH more deserving of your ire. Don’t waste it here.
10. Rules Don’t Apply
What an absolute waste. There was so much potential in this movie that is just barely peeking through on the periphery, but Warren Beatty’s return to film after over a decade is about as big a mess as you could expect from someone who hasn’t worked in that long. Maybe his hiatus left him rusty when it was time to finally make his passion project, or maybe there were issues behind the scenes that led to post production hell. Either way, this manages to squander every last ounce of good will it could scrape up with awkward cinematography, a HORRIFICALLY bad editing job, and a story that just meanders and loses focus throughout its two hour running time before just ending on a rather abrupt and unsatisfying note. This manages to stay so high on the list because of Warren Beatty’s great performance and the fact that there IS some good aspects to it, but this movie is a perfect example of what happens behind the camera being just as important as what is captured in front of it. I want more Warren Beatty movies, especially considering he STILL owns the feature film right to the Dick Tracy franchise, but he needs to take some night classes, do a couple of short films, or even get a pity job from Blumhouse, before he can truly get back in the director’s chair and prove that he’s still the great filmmaker we remember him to be.
9. Yoga Hosers
Oh how the mighty have fallen. Well, more like oh how the ALMOST mighty just kinda meandered for a decade before crashing and burning and is now limping through his career until his friends stop taking his calls. I still have managed not to see Tusk but the second entry in his True North Trilogy (there’s still one more of these) showed up on Netflix which meant I had to at least give it a shot; lest I might miss something for this list. Low and behold, it really sucks! The jokes are not funny, the two leads aren’t strong enough to carry the weak material, and while there is some charm to the ridiculous premise, the terrible effects and braindead plotting saps away any momentum this might have achieved. The best I can say is that in better hands it could have been decent as it plays out like an incompetent knock off of John Dies at the End. In the hands of Kevin Smith though who seems to have just given up on making movies for anyone but himself, it becomes a self-satisfied and lazy send up of… I don’t know; its own existence? The guy just doesn’t seem to take anything seriously in his movies and has taken to lashing out at critics who call him out on this which is the tactic of a coward who believes that ACTUALLY putting himself out there and possibly failing anyway is a less preferable option to failing on purpose and claiming that’s the damn point because it’s IRONIC or SATIRICAL or any other buzz word that people throw out without actually understanding what they mean. I only give Kevin Smith a SLIGHT edge over Adam Sandler as far as unbearable self-satisfied shit peddlers in that his career prior to Cop Out was still pretty damn solid and he did in fact make some genuine classics like the two Clerks movies and Dogma; more than I can say about Adam Sandler who has a couple of decent films but nothing as good as Smith in his heyday. Of course, that makes it all the more disappointing that Kevin Smith fell so far so quickly because I really do want him to get past whatever it is that’s stunting him creatively. Hell, even if we can’t get nineties Kevin Smith back, we should at least expect more than THIS from him, right!?
You BETTER have not forgotten about this piece of shit! Let’s count off the fantastic actors who bothered to show up in this, shall we? Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones. Hell, I’ll even throw in Ryan Reynolds despite him only showing up for five minutes and Gal Gadot who really hasn’t sold me on being a GREAT actor, but at least seems to be holding her own as Wonder Woman. WHAT THE FUCK ARE THEY DOING HERE!? Okay, it MAY not be the worst PREMISE for a movie out there, but the script itself, the dialogue that all these actors are forced to say, and the complete lack of consistency or believable character actions in the plot makes this one of the biggest train wrecks of the year. Why does Gary Oldman go to the trouble of performing this crazy ass experiment on some dude in order to SAVE THE WORLD FROM NUKES, yet decides that it didn’t work after what, TEN minutes of incoherently screaming at him after he’s woken up from major surgery? If it wasn’t so boring in places, it MIGHT have worked as a fun bad movie, but it takes itself way too seriously at points to really reach that level of camp and instead just meanders around for most of the second act without much purpose until things get REALLY stupid at the end. Look, I know the Postman wasn’t all that good, but can we get this guy at least ONE more directing job? Sure it probably won’t be THAT good, but it’ll at least keep him busy from making crap like this for a while!
7. Ratchet & Clank
As much as I was ho-hum about finding a best animated film of the year, it’s worth pointing out that there weren’t that many truly awful ones. Sure, we can point to Norm of the North or The Wild Life (two movies I thankfully managed to avoid), but those were from no name studios looking to make a quick buck and had no right being in a theaters in the first place. Finding a worst animated film of the year was a toss-up between this and Storks, and while I REALLY hated everything about that stupid bird movie, this was far worse. In the coming years, I’m sure that we’ll be getting solid if not great animated video game movies now that Angry Birds turned out to be a success and that Sega and Nintendo are working towards bringing their franchise to the big screen. That hasn’t happened just yet though and Ratchet & Clank feels like something that should have been released a decade ago; not only because the license hasn’t been at the forefront of gaming since the PS2 era, but because it’s about as good as many of the films from that time when CG animation was coming into its own; albeit it with plenty of kinks to still work out. Chicken Little, Robots, Barnyard, all these subpar and uninspired films share more in common with this adaptation than what we’ve been getting in the last few years… or at least the GOOD stuff in the last few years. Sure, we still get some bad stuff like Planes, The Nut Job, and Free Birds, but these are no longer tent pole films the same way that those mediocre ones from the mid-2000s were when they got released. This movie is just too little too late and feels like Insomniac Games, Sony, or whoever was pulling the strings on this just did not care about the finished product and let it die on the vine rather than try to fix the god awful script and make something that fans and the general audience would ACTUALLY enjoy. The only thing more depressing than this movie being so terrible is that it’s not even the worst video game movie of the year. For as much bluster as some people make about mobile games being the death of the medium or whatever, at least Angry Birds managed to have a functional film based on it. What’s this movie’s excuse?
6. London has fallen
Fuck this racist piece of shit! I’m sorry; did I come on a bit strong there? There are parts of this that I do like the same way I liked the first one; mainly there are some decent action scenes and Gerard Butler has the Uncompromising Bad Ass routine down solid. The problem is that that while the first one was ALSO racist, it was relegated to the background as the identity of the villains only come into play in a perfunctory manner. No one out there thinks that North Korea or ANY OTHER country is gonna be able to smash their way into the White House and hold the President hostage. Here though? They COMPLETELY capitalize on the West’s irrational fear of Muslim’s by not only making them the central bad guys of the movie, but feeding into the paranoia that they’re infiltrating every strata of our society just so they can one day blow it the fuck up. Add to that Gerard Butler’s offensive stereotyping (“go back to Fuck-head-istan” is an ACTUAL line in here) and the movie’s disinterest in having a real conversation about the consequences of drone warfare to instead use a drone strike as a final HELL YEAH moment for the audience to gleefully cheer at, and you have the poster child for Trump’s America. In a year that gave us the solid and very well nuanced Eye in the Sky, it’s an embarrassment that Focus Features signed off on this jingoistic piece of horse shit and that all these great actors chose to be in it. Sadly, this movie managed to be a financial success and considering the atmosphere surrounding 2017 and beyond, we’re probably gonna get a few more of these and they will be a blight on our culture for decades to come. Fantastic…
5. Assassin’s Creed
How is this so damn hard!? Am I missing something where a movie that costs over a hundred million dollars can’t spend even the smallest bit of time trying to dig down to the primary appeal of what they’re adapting!? Spend five minutes talking to ANY Assassin’s Creed fan, and they’ll tell you that the least interesting aspects of the game are the Desmond segments that take place at Abstergo, yet the three writers who had a hand in this script all must have thought that seeing Michael Fassbender piss and moan his way through Science Jail was far more interesting that the history or the assassinating. One of the reasons this franchise was so successful is BECAUSE it was about history as those interested in certain time periods (for me, it was the American Revolution) will find that interesting enough to give the games a shot. I don’t even know when the flashback scenes are supposed to be taking place, though I THINK it’s supposed to be the Spanish Inquisition. Go ahead and make your Monty Python reference if you want, but even THAT skit hat more information about the ACTUAL Spanish Inquisition than this movie does as the flashbacks are so perfunctory and only exist for action scenes. Decent action scenes I’ll admit, or at least they WOULD be if the editor wasn’t losing their damn mind and cut every fifth of a second, but there’s no MEAT to that story line to get you to care at all about Fassbender’s past self, yet it’s STILL more interesting than the much more plot heavy Abstergo scenes which have lots of talking but about as much substance. This is not just bad because of how terrible the film is, but because of how much potential was wasted. That much money on a franchise this primed for a film adaptation, and none of it amounted to anything. Congratulations Ubisoft. You screwed your most popular franchise over in spectacular fashion, and no one’s gonna take whatever other films you have planned seriously. Better hope that Watch_Dogs turns out to be the next City of God, because anything less than that isn’t gonna remove this stigma you’ve willing attached to your brand!
4. Gods of Egypt
Alex Proyas is an asshole. Look, you already know how fucking awful this movie is if you’ve at least heard of the damn thing, so let’s instead focus on what a prick the director of The Crow and Dark City turned out to be. This guy made a piece of shit movie and then went to Facebook to rant at all the meanie pants critics who gave an honest assessment of what they thought of it. He REALLY wants us all to know just how much he doesn’t care about critics (i.e. he cares a WHOLE lot) and even makes false statements about how ALL his movies were poorly reviewed at release. You only need about thirty seconds on google to find Roger Ebert, The New York Times, and Rolling Stone extoling the virtues of his breakout film The Crow, and a search for Dark City will yield similar results. Hell, even movies like Garage Days and I Robot got MIXED reviews instead of outright bad ones, and honestly it’s just his last two movies that critics turned on; knowing in 2009 and now this. That’s just his opening fucking line though. Go read that whiney as hell post he wrote and try to suppress your gag reflex; especially when he brings Roger Ebert into it who he describes as a GOOD film critic but in the same breath calls him a failed filmmaker. Uh… Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is one of the finest pieces of exploitation cinema ever made. Even your GOOD movies aren’t quite up to that level, so get off your damn high horse and STOP JUSTIFYING THE WHITE WASHING IN YOUR MOVIE SET IN FUCKING EGYPT!! Don’t fucking bother with this terrible Pirates of the Caribbean knockoff that looks like it was made at the time that MIGHT have been a viable idea. It’s poorly scripted, not nearly as funny as it thinks itself to be, and is just flat out boring. I don’t know what bug crawled up Alex Proyas’s ass, but he better get that looked at before he burns every last bridge he has left and is back to doing commercials. Hell, maybe he should go do that anyway. After seeing THIS monstrosity, he could really use the extra practice.
3. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Warcraft
I tried VERY hard to pick which one of these should be on the list, and I just couldn’t pick so they’re both on here. Really, the problems I have with both of them are quite similar, so it makes at least SOME sense to talk about the two here. They’re failed adaptations by visionary filmmakers that are way too long, way too dense, and don’t have the slightest bit of weight to them for all the effort that was clearly made. Batman v Superman gets a few points for some decent moments among all the chaos (namely the Bruce Wayne segments and some of the action), While Warcraft has a clear sense of heart and sincerity to it that is smothered by an interminably long run time and a central conflict that no one bothered to actually resolve, lest we dare to break away from the games in even the slightest way. Zack Snyder is becoming more and more of a disappointment considering how much I truly love Watchmen and enjoy 300 and Sucker Punch, and his latest effort shows no sign of improvement. In fact, he seems to be regressing even further into his own sense of grim self-importance; something that worked for something as overly grim and self-important as Watchmen, but continues to clash with what WB is trying desperately to set up as their expanded cinematic universe. Warcraft on the other hand has much lower stakes as no one has SEEN a movies set in this universe before and it’s only there to set up its own sequel rather than to be the groundwork for some video game based MCU. Even with that degree of freedom though, the filmmakers decided to play it as safe as possible by going simple with its story, throw in lots of flashy CG, and pile on the fan service. Neither one of these movies has a script worth a damn, yet they are so sure of its grandeur that it’s impossible to take either seriously and it’s immensely frustrating to try and sit through them. Batman v Superman is probably the worse film simply because of how bone headed most of the plot decisions were on top of the awful filmmaking choices, but I think I ended up getting madder at Warcraft which didn’t even have the benefit of Snyder excess or even a sense of purpose. While Batman v Superman is a terrible movie that knew exactly what it wanted to do, Warcraft just meanders about until it finally collapses under its own weight and ends on one of the most unsatisfying notes I’ve ever seen in a movie. I will say that both are at least worth watching once; not only for how bad they ended up being which can be fascinating to see unfold, but because both are gonna have lasting effects going forward. We’ve already seen the DC Cinematic Universe build upon it with Suicide Squad, and the fact that Warcraft made so much money in China almost guarantees a sequel. I mean, I guess Disney can’t make ALL the big tent pole franchises, but could their competition at least not be THIS dreadful?
There were some bad horror movies that could have made it higher up on this list like Blair Witch or The Forest, but then THIS came around right at the end of the year and surpassed even my highest expectations for crap-tastic horror films. Also worth noting that this is the SECOND Aaron Eckhart movie on this list (he was the president in London has Fallen), so not really a great year for him, though if he had done this in 2008 when The Dark Knight came out, I would STILL call that an awful year for him just because of how bad this movie is. Where to even start with this!? The movie doesn’t know what it wants to be at any point and nothing it tries to do make any sense, whether it’s the mechanics of how does his Inception type Exorcism, or what exactly is motivating the demon in this scenario. Does the demon want Eckhart? Why does he want Eckhart? Couldn’t he just possess HIM at any time if all it takes is physical contact? Couple this with unfathomably awful performances from everyone here, PARTICULARLY Eckhart, and the fact that there are ZERO scares in this HORROR FILM, and you’ve got one of the worst examples of the genre in a decade. The fact that this somehow made it theaters when other BETTER movies go straight to DVD just goes to show that Blumhouse is due to be taken down a peg. They have the most powerful production company in the genre right now, and yet they seem to have forgotten the advice Uncle Ben gave. With great power comes great responsibility to not let shit like this further degrade your reputation! SERIOUSLY! QUIT FUCKING UP LIKE THIS!!
1. God’s Not Dead 2
Yeah, BIG SHOCK that straight up propaganda ends up being the worst thing to come out this year. Then again, I didn’t manage to see Vaxxed or Hillary’s America so maybe those are worse than the latest from Pure Flix; the most ironically named company in the world by the way. I can’t imagine the amount of hate and fear that the filmmakers have had to live with in order to make something that’s this mean spirited and straight up deceptive. Aside from David AR White’s awful slapstick, there’s nothing in this movie that’s meant to be entertaining; rather it exists to affirm the fears and biases of a group of people that feel persecuted in a majority and believe their rights supersede all others. What kind of asshole makes the ACLU the straight up unambiguous bad guys in a movie about a free speech case!? THEY’RE THE AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION!! CIVIL LIBERTIES IS RIGHT IN ITS GOD DAMN NAME!! As much as I would like to ignore crap like this and just let it exist in its own horrible niche, this kind of attitude is straight up dangerous and needs to be called out whenever it can. Something tells me that we’ll be getting more films from these people in the next four years (CAN’T PUT MY FINGER ON WHY!!) and I think it’s imperative that we don’t let hateful garbage like this become normalized in the film discourse; just like how everything else that’s already changing for the worse can’t be ignored or brushed off. Don’t lose sight people! Crap like this will ALWAYS be appalling no matter how successful it might be!