10 Worst Films of 2016 (Graeme)
It’s that time of year, and “the boss” told me it was time to put together the top ten best and worst lists for 2016, so let’s get stuck in with the stinkers.
Before I start, just a quick note to say there may have been films I enjoyed less than some of the movies on this list, however I’m taking into account my expectations as well as enjoyment. A fine example of this is High Rise, a film that I do kind of admire, but just could not like. Also some of the films that haven’t made this list missed out more because they were piles of “Meh”, How to be Single for instance, whilst those that did make the list just had things I could not let go of as a cinema-goer.
Lastly, I didn’t review every film on this list and my opinions may differ from Craig in some cases but much like a wooden leg, film-reviewing is all a matter of a’pinion. So without further ado let’s get into my worst films 0f 2016.
Whilst actually kind of enjoying this one, we all expected more of Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass as they returned to the franchise they helped to build. Although a decent enough action romp, Greengrass took the shaky-cam to a new level of ridiculousness, even employing it when looking at phone-screens, leading to a feeling of sea-sickness unparalleled by any movie-going experience before or since.
Add to that the “Secret” agents destroying downtown Las Vegas, and you are left with a film that could, and should have been so much better than it actually was.
Bryan Singer continues his, in my opinion, mystifying run at the head of the X-Men franchise, and continues to undo all the good groundwork that 2011’s X-Men: First Class laid with this universe. Again criticism is directed at this movie mainly for missed opportunities and the wasting of a truly world-class cast. After having such a strong year in 2015 with Ex Machina, and The Force Awakens, Oscar Issac is reduced to a panto villain, with side-kicks appropriated more for their geographical location within his vicinity, rather than their powers, making the Four Horsemen all in all somewhat underwhelming.
I do admit Fassbender’s Magneto losing his family, and the Quicksilver scene are two masterful moments of 2016, but to have to sit through the rest of this mess just to see them is a bit of a hard sell.
Duncan Jones had a lot on his shoulders to carry off this sprawling work of CGI and established lore. I never did get into Warcraft in the past, and nothing in this will really make anyone want to change that.
It took some doing to make the human characters seem more artificial than the Orcs, but this screenplay manages it, trying to be all things to all people, and stuffing every minute with the structural blocks of the game-world, and the mechanics of it’s magic and social systems, but forgetting to make us care. Some credit must go to the voice work of Toby Kebbell, as his character arc as Durotan is the highlight of the film, bringing warmth and, ironically, human interest to the tale.
I’ve heard that those who love the games have a good bit more affection for this than I do, but it comes across as a Lord of the Rings wannabe, and an object lesson of how not to introduce people to a fantasy world.
Tate Taylor brings us Oscar bait, but suffers from a story that’s blindingly obvious, and, although he has a cast of very talented actors, the screenplay and plot leaves them with very little to work with. With a narrative that’s supposed to have you guessing right up until the finale, to effectively give away the plot-twist in the trailer is a cardinal sin in this day and age, never mind that the film itself telegraphs it within about 5 minutes of the start.
Emily Blunt does what she can, but the story itself is not compelling, so you are left feeling like she should pick better next time. We also have to deal with the choice of palette and tone, and the whole thing feels dull on every level from start to finish.
A film that wants to be The Hunger Games so desperately it’s palpable.
We are treated to Chloe Grace Moretz being likeable enough, but a world where physics doesn’t work, parents are dreadful, pre-teen and early teen kids become hardened commandos in roughly two weeks, and invading aliens chose to wipe out humanity in waves, starting with the least efficient first, and winding up with a rip-off of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers.
This movie never finds the tone it wants to take, and as affable as Ms Moretz is, the whole thing is a mess, without even a memorable set-piece to use as eye-candy. Again the plot-twists are so painfully obvious that they challenge your intelligence as you try to double guess them, only to realise that, yes it really was that obvious.
Oh, how high our hopes were, and how roundly they were dashed. I still contend that when it comes to visuals Zack Synder is one of the most talented directors working today, but that really is not enough to save this movie. With its plot-holes so large you could drive the Batmobile through them, the infamous “Martha” incident, a Superman that mopes so much he’s just missing The Smiths albums, and a Batman that is a murderer, there is so just much to berate this film over.
I’ve yet to get the energy up to watch the extended edition, which I am reliably informed is a lot better, but that is not the film that was released. You can’t help but hope that DC allow their directors to work towards a cohesive vision, and, now that Geoff Johns is in place, that might happen, but the mess they made with Suicide Squad does not instil much hope.
There are some bright spots in this film, but even they are troublesome. The “Pearls in the Gutter” scene has never been done better, but in that statement is the problem, it’s been done before, and many times, so, as integral to the plot they chose to go with as this scene is, audiences were frustrated about having to watch it again. The other standout is obviously the Batman Warehouse scene, and it is an amazing bit of film-making, but it now establishes this Batman as being more than happy to just kill folks, so why not do the same to his rogue’s gallery when he comes up against them?
I’ve not even touched on the Cave Troll, or the ridiculous face-off between Supes and Batman, or even the email introduction of the Justice League. Let’s just face it, this is not a great film, although Craig may not agree.
A film that boils down to a cast and crew having OCD. They’ve started these series of movies, and god-damn-it, they’re going to finish it, no matter how much everyone doesn’t want to be there. This is the filmic equivalent of beige, and I can’t even bring myself to be het-up enough to rant about it more.
The further away I get from this cinema-going experience, the more I realise just how unpleasant it was. As I mentioned in my review, the acting is strong, but the direction, script, and story are at best dull, and at worst offensive. That’s not to say offensive is a bad thing, being challenged by your cinema-going experience can be a mind-expanding and wonderful thing, but not when it’s done this unimaginatively and lazily.
The direction had no flair, the story wasn’t compelling, the jokes where rare for a comedy, and the concept was wasted. A film that is far too convinced of it’s own cleverness, and almost obsessed with trying to prove it has left me strangely bitter about having seen it.
For those that have never met me, it is a running joke amongst those that do that I would watch a film about painting a wall if it starred Isla Fisher. She’s a delight, and a really funny and talented actor. With that in mind, I wish I had never seen this abomination of a film. For a comedy it’s not funny, and for an action flick there’s no compelling action. The direction is sloppy at best, and there is no chemistry between the cast. Why any of these talented people agreed to be part of this travesty to film-making is a mystery for the ages, and don’t be tempted to watch this to try and figure it out, you’ll only be hurting yourselves.
My poor friends have had to put up with my rants about Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s The Revenant for almost a year now, and my belief that Iñárritu’s work is the directorial equivalent of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” shows no sign of subsiding.
Put aside that Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance is essentially two hours of Family Guy‘s Peter Griffin bashing his shin, or that the portrayal of the native people is almost offensively one dimensional, or even that any memorable scene can be traced back to another, arguably better movie, let me just concentrate on the direction itself.
In my mind anything a director does should bring something to the story he is trying to tell, and nothing that Iñárritu does in this adds to the story. He insists in shooting in natural light, prolonging the filming, and putting his cast and crew through hell as a result. Does this add to the visuals in any really perceivable way? Not really, as the landscapes are naturally breath-taking, and nothing to do with this decision. In fact, it leaves the whole film feeling visually washed out. It also adds to the already numerous continuity errors in the film, meaning that close shots that show snow banks are bracketed by wide sweeping shots with virtually no snow.
Now that I’ve started, I’ll do my best to be brief. The plot holes are painful. The natives don’t trust white folks, and kill most of them of sight, however they take the French word completely on face value, and are willing to risk everything based on it, and add to that that they are also apparently unable to track a bleeding man in the snow. Tom Hardy’s character’s motivations make no sense, and his inability to make sure his nemesis is dead is this film’s equivalent of not shooting the escape pod in Star Wars. I could go on, but I think you might get the idea.
Again, my issue is not with the cast in this film, but I find all the plaudits that the director has received for this, and his previous film, baffling in the extreme, and wondering if I have genuinely lost my grip on reality.
To sum it up, I hated this film.