In all honesty, looking back on my year in film has proven that, thankfully, I have managed to avoid a lot of stinkers. Don’t get me wrong, there has been a lot of rubbish, but the fact that I found this list harder than usual to compile, makes me feel fortunate to have missed such potential duds as Dirty Grandpa.
Nevertheless, here are the ten films of 2016 that I found to be either incredibly disappointing, dull or offensive, counting down from the least awful to the very worst I think the year has had to offer.
10: Independence Day: Resurgence
The above image is one that best sums up the problem with Independence Day: Resurgence. Not only was the long-awaited sequel to one of the best blockbusters of the 90’s a complete and utter mess in terms of its narrative, but with the visual effects turned all the way to eleven, the charm of the first film is sorely missing – particularly Will Smith.
Granted, it is fun in places, but the end result really isn’t good enough after a twenty-year wait between films. And with more sequels in the works, I fear things are only going to get worse from here.
Criminal may feature one of my favourite lines of the year – “Who punches someone in a patisserie? You animal!” – but it otherwise remains one of the most tedious films I’ve had to sit through all year.
Things start off well with the film embracing the absurdity of its body-swap concept, but as it starts to take itself too seriously, it quickly turns into a boring, overly sentimental drudge of a film that’s filled with plot holes aplenty. It’s a crying shame, because I love the cast.
8: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
I hated the Michael Bay-produced 2014 reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but hated its sequel even more. ‘Out of the Shadows‘ may have been bigger than its predecessor, offering some pretty effective action sequences, but it was also a lot dumber.
The “jokes” were dreadful, the CGI was appalling and dressing up Megan Fox’s April O’Neil in a schoolgirl outfit in a bid to get some information proved quite troubling. As a fan of the original franchise, it pains me to say that, at this point, I’d gladly never see another instalment.
7: Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
The first of two DC films to appear in this list, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is my biggest disappointment of the year. As far as any allegiance to Marvel may go – something that many DC fans cited as the reason behind the film’s critical panning – I absolutely loved Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, and would put Superman at the top of my favourite superheroes. Unfortunately, there’s just no way of denying the film’s abundant flaws.
Throwing two heavyweights into the ring like this, without laying strong foundations – something Marvel have managed to get right – means that the narrative here is all over the place, never really getting the balance between each character right.
Affleck makes for a surprisingly good Batman, and the rest of the cast – Jesse Eisenberg excluded – are very likeable; it’s just a shame that the story doesn’t work as well as it should. I would have much preferred a Man of Steel 2.
6: Nine Lives
There are only three reasons I can think of as to why Kevin Spacey signed on for Nine Lives: he was either drunk when he read the script, he wanted to make a film that appealed to his very young children or grandchildren, or, he simply needed the money. I called the film an all-time low of the American Beauty actor’s career, and the same applies for his co-star Christopher Walken.
Cringe-inducingly unfunny, the only silver lining in this dire family film are the opening couple of minutes in which viral cat videos from the internet are played over the credits. Each of those videos is infinitely better than any of the gags in Nine Lives, so I suggest saving your money and watching those instead.
It was never going to be easy to bring a new Ben-Hur to the screen since the Charlton Heston-starring, 1959 version of the story has become considered somewhat of a classic. The fact that this latest version runs a whole hour and a half shorter than the 1959 epic means that it feels like its half the film, not just in terms of length but in terms of quality as well.
Extremely televisual – I’ve seen better on Channel 5 – this remake lacks the sweeping scale you would expect from the story and seems content in simply going through the motions. A few well directed moments aside, it is dull, dreary and instantly forgettable.
I’ve gone through a bit of a Stephen King binge in recent months, so had the opportunity to read Cell before seeing its big-screen adaptation. The book itself is mid-level King, but Tod Williams’ film somehow manages to butcher whatever good there is in the novel.
It’s shot in the style of an undergraduate film student, offers little to no tension whatsoever and has an ending that you’ll want to watch through your fingers – but for all the wrong reasons. It could quite possibly be the worst King adaptation of all time, which is strange considering his co-writing credit on the project.
3: London Has Fallen
So now we move away from the disappointing to get down to the downright offensive, and I can think of few films from this year that have been quite as mean-spirited as London Has Fallen. As a fan of its predecessor, the enjoyably stupid Olympus Has Fallen, I can easily look past this sequel’s gigantic plot holes and general dumbness; but what I can’t get past is the film’s racial stereotypes and aggressive Islamphobia that feature within it.
In a year which has seen politics turn nastier than ever and in which fear of ‘foreigners’ has lead people to vote for closed borders and Trump, London Has Fallen is dangerous and nasty film-making that is worryingly indicative of the times in which we live.
2: Suicide Squad
Much like the aforementioned Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, DC’s Suicide Squad suffers due to its mess of a narrative. Never managing to be quite as edgy as it should – it’s impossible for Will Smith to play a bad guy – nor as quirky – a dreadful jukebox soundtrack features, which can only exist as an attempt to replicate Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy – it sits in a weird limbo between dark and gritty and colourful and fun.
But whilst it features a weak story and some of the worst visual effects I’ve seen since the 90’s, it’s the way in which the film’s female characters are depicted that really ruins the film. Considering this was the summer we had a fantastic, all-female Ghostbusters remake, it was a shame to see that Suicide Squad took two steps backwards in the scantily clad, paper-thin portrayals of the women characters.
1: Gods of Egypt
There are some films that are so dull, so dreadful, that they can be physically painful to have to sit through. Gods of Egypt is one of those films. A disaster through and through, the film is quite easily the worst experience I’ve had at the cinema all year, to the point where I very nearly walked out – something which I haven’t done in any film to dare.
The potential is certainly there, featuring a story full of Gods and monsters, but the execution is poor. The cast are dreadful – Gerard Butler plays an Egyptian God with his own Scottish accent – the writing is so convoluted to the point where it stops making sense fairly early on, and I’ve seen better visual effects in recent video games than the many on offer here. I wanted to love it, I should have loved it, but Gods of Egypt is a flop of a film that still makes me wince whenever I think about it.
There you have it. Those the films I hated the most in 2016, but what have I missed? What are your worst films of the year and are there any in my list that you disagree with? Leave your comments below and make sure to come back next week, when I’ll be counting down my favourite films of 2016.