2016 Year In Review – The Five Worst Films

Okay, I don’t like doing this.  I don’t like negativity.  But you know what I do like?  Clicks.  And you know what you like?  Negativity.  But I’m going to also include ways that the films could have been better, so it’s not complaining just to complain.  Any movie has the potential to be good.  There are no poor ideas; only poor execution.  So, if I’m going to say bad things, I’m not just going to trash something that people worked hard on.

Also, I didn’t see God’s Not Dead 2, because I don’t hate myself.  I feel confident it would be on this list, if I had.

So, having established all of that, here are my picks for . . .

The Five Worst Films of 2016


5. X-Men: Apocalypse


This one hurts.  It hurts bad.  I hate – HATE – that this film is included on this list.  I wanted to love it.  I (mostly) love the other films in the series.  The first two (and First Class), especially, have so much heart and I’ll always look bad on them fondly.  But I can’t believe that Bryan Singer, the man who directed those, also directed this.  There are a few thins about it that I liked (it isn’t number one on the list, after all), but there was so much that missed the mark (Xavier casually committing mental rape on the woman he loves by erasing her memory) or under-delivered (everything about Apocalypse) or misplaced the focus (prioritizing Magneto over Apocalypse) or showed a deference to marketing over storytelling (betraying Mystique’s character in order to keep Jennifer Lawrence white and marketable).

To fix it: Go back to what worked.  Develop all of the characters, but don’t be afraid to be crazy.  Marvel Studios shows it works on a regular basis and there’s no need to keep the material grounded, anymore, if it isn’t natural for the material.  The audience is open-minded to it, now.  So, go all-out, not halfway.  Stay consistent with characterization.  And make the title character more of a focus than the villain who never goes away.  (Original post.)

4. The Secret Life of Pets


Illumination is still working to impress me with their animated features.  The Despicable Me series hasn’t done it.  And The Secret Life of Pets just made things worse.  The marketing focused on one single sequence that was unique and witty and funny, and showed nothing else from the film.  Because nothing else in the film was unique or witty or funny.  The film was, note-for-note, a clone of Toy Story.  Every major story beat was lifted from that groundbreaking classic.  It was downright appalling and insulting.  It was as if Illumination knew it couldn’t creatively beat Pixar, so they decided to join them.  By copying one of their greatest films and one of the most important animated films in history.  Pixar did this movie first and they did it better.

To fix it: Umm, write an original story.  Sing was a step in the right direction.  (Original post.)

3. The Other Side of the Door


This is going to be pretty quick and simple.  Horror movies only work if the protagonist is empathetic.  If they’re the cause of the conflict by accident, it’s one thing.  If they know what’s going to happen, and they do it anyway and bring hell upon everyone they love, all out of selfishness . . . then nobody is going to care about what happens in the movie.  Like this movie.  If you don’t understand horror, don’t make a horror movie.

To fix it: Make the protagonist the victim, not the perpetrator.  (Original post.)

2. Criminal


Ugh, this movie.  Inept law enforcement, a sleepy score, and uneventful, plodding script . . . why di the cast sign onto this?  The only redeeming qualities for this movie are Kevin Costner and Gal Gadot’s performances.  That’s it.  And I feel bad for the both of them (and Gary Oldman, but even he fails to impress, here) that this will forever mar their résumés.

To fix it: When you write, put yourself in the minds of your characters.  If you aren’t smart enough to think like a seasoned police officer, you shouldn’t be writing seasoned police officers.  Maybe God’s Not Dead 3 would be more up your alley. (Original post.)

1. The Neon Demon


I blame one person for the travesty that was The Neon Demon: director and writer Nicolas Winding Refn.  This drivel is so pretentious, he even prioritizes his own name above the film’s title.  This is like when that guy we all know who thinks he’s really smart but isn’t makes a joke that has no logic behind it, and then he pretends it makes sense and everyone else just doesn’t get it.  There is no logic or substance to this film.  It’s not the cast’s fault.  It’s not the crew’s fault.  It’s Refn’s fault.  And he’s said he wants to direct a Batgirl movie.  No.  Stay away from Batgirl and all comic properties.  They aren’t about you.

To fix it: Write a cohesive narrative that’s abut communicating a story and message to the audience, not about making yourself as a filmmaker feel smarter than you actually are.  (Original post.)

That’s it!  The new school year has started and I’m teaching a brand new film class, so prepping for it has made it hard for me to write these columns, for the moment.  But don’t go anywhere, because I’m sure not!  In the meantime, follow us on Facebook!

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