10 Worst Movies of 2018
As I write this it’s the final day of 2018 so I’m probably a little overdue with my list of the best and worst movies of the year.
The usual disclaimer that I haven’t seen every film applies and what follows is entirely my opinion based on what I personally saw. Unfortunately I don’t have a supporting review for every entry on this list as I wasn’t able to clear the backlog in time but the blurb will sum up why it merits an entry. Any review that exists will be hyperlinked on the heading. This year I’ve opened up the consideration to movies that were released on streaming services as the relevance of the output is increasing all the time. Without further ado here are my worst movies of 2018.
10: The Equalizer 2
The first film wasn’t the greatest to begin with though it was a fairly serviceable action film with a compelling lead performance from Denzel Washington. Denzel remains a good leading man in the sequel but that’s about all that can be said about it. The plot is uninteresting, the pacing is all over the place and the entire experience is so bloated that it fails to grab audience attention in any meaningful way.
It doesn’t appear higher on the list as it’s a largely forgettable experience that doesn’t do enough to even be worthy of hate though it merits a place because the concept has so much potential that is completely squandered. This is a sequel nobody asked for and it does nothing to make a case for its own existence.
9: A Star Is Born
The fourth version of this film follows the same basic outline as the other three but tries to update it for a modern audience. This isn’t a bad idea as the music industry changes significantly as time goes on but the execution left me wanting more. The film is supposed to be focused on the relationship between Bradley Cooper’s Jack and Lady Gaga’s Ally but I never quite got to the point where I was invested in their connection. Major developments such as Ally going from being a shy performer to confidently belting out a song at the top of her lungs to a stadium audience are glossed over to keep the plot moving and the milestones in the romance of the leads pass by without any time to let them sink in.
Lady Gaga turns in a stunning performance in her first leading role and there are undercurrents of interesting conflicts to latch onto that never feel fully developed. Parts of the soundtrack are also really impressive but none of it adds up to anything all that watchable. The worst thing about it is that I feel there was a better film that could have been made using the ingredients that made up this one so it merits a place on the list because of the opportunities it misses.
8: The First Purge
The Purge franchises is a bit of a personal curiosity. I haven’t seen all of the films though I’ve been roundly disappointed by those I have seen. Something about the nonsensical premise fascinates me and I think there’s a lot to explore. None of the films have latched onto the questions that I’d like to see answered and I refuse to watch the TV show to see if that gets any closer. This entry is altogether forgettable even though it had the potential to be an effective deconstruction of what motivated the Purge to become an annual tradition. It is touched upon and there are some on the nose comparisons to the modern world but it’s all surface level and brushed aside to make room for the violence.
Some of the characters had a lot of potential and the film does a fairly good job of exploring why some of them would be driven to taking the government up on what is being offered to them in exchange for participation but the film doesn’t spend enough time on them. It should be clear to me by now that these films aren’t being made to tell make any clever points about the world we live in. Whatever the franchise brings in future just isn’t going to be for me.
The first entry on the list released exclusively on a streaming platform. It was announced during the Superbowl that this would be available on Netflix immediately after the game. This marketing strategy did enough to create some level of interest in the film. I love the Cloverfield concept and have done since the found footage monster movie. 10 Cloverfield Lane is something I enjoyed a great deal but this entry was ill conceived from the start. It promised to answer questions that people had about how it all fits together and then proceeded to not do that. I’m of the belief that it’s more fun to speculate on how the films connect -if at all- so I didn’t need that personally but the film fails to measure up as being entertaining or interesting in its own right. The characters are insufferably stupid, the set pieces play out as bad imitations of better films and the story only pretends to be clever in order to hide the rampant stupidity as well as the lack of thought that went into it.
It’s a shame this turned out to be as bad as it did because the ingredients were there to make something interesting. It had a good cast, the overall concept wasn’t a bad one and the visuals were impressive in places. I’d even say that the first half is really strongly directed and does a serviceable job of setting up what might come next. Unfortunately it’s ultimately defeated by having too much going on, an inflated sense of its own self importance as a film and a completely misguided string of ideas that completely get away from those that were making it. By the end of the film you’ll have no real idea what’s going on and you definitely won’t care.
Another Netflix exclusive that is problematic on almost every level. The plot is that Noah (Adam Devine) discovers he can travel back in time to the day he met the love of his life, Avery (Alexandra Daddario) and uses that ability to repeat that meeting in an attempt to woo her. Basically it’s another Groundhog Day type scenario which has worked well on a few occasions as a storytelling tool. This particular film is very problematic as it tries to get the audience to invest in Noah attempting to manipulate Avery into being with him despite all the evidence he has that she isn’t all that interested in him romantically. His persistent attempts show that he refuses to take no for an answer and the whole thing just feels uncomfortable. Noah himself is a very pathetic character who doesn’t merit being the hero of the film as his entire motivation is questionable from the beginning.
Noah may be a bad character but Adam Devine plays him well. The characterisation is consistent and there’s some merit that the whole film is about how he is never meant to be anything more than friends with Avery making the overriding message more about appreciating what life brings you rather than trying to force more out of it. The Groundhog Day device works well enough as the main repeated scenario has a great deal of detail to it that can be played with though there aren’t enough repeats to make good use of the concept. None of the other characters have any real development either so it makes the world the film belongs to feel very shallow. I’m not sure this could ever have been a good idea given the subject matter but there was certainly scope for a better version of what we got if anyone would have any interest in watching it.
Another good idea that was completely wasted in its execution. I love to explore real world issues through a science fiction lens so this should have been right up my alley but the end result is a bloated and unfocused mess. The main problem is that too many ideas are thrown into one film for any of them to receive the attention they deserve. None of them are bad but the lack of exploration is frustrating. For example it gets to the point that it makes no difference whether the characters are small or not because the setting completely changes to being entirely within the community of shrunken humans in order to play around with the social difficulties that exist within it. This doesn’t last long before moving onto the next thing until it feels as if the film doesn’t actually know what it’s trying to say.
The ideas on display were all interesting but the focus should have been on the implications and difficulties of people within society deciding to shrink themselves down. It’s an interesting solution to very real environmental problems that plague our world today so there was easily an entire film that could have been made about this idea alone. There are some great visuals associated with the difference in size and using normal size objects as a small person but beyond that there’s very little to recommend.
Ready Player One is a novel that’s easy to read but not all that well written on the whole. Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of it attempts to capture the spirit of the book while changing things around so that it suits more cinematic storytelling. For the most part he succeeds but it doesn’t make the end result all that good. The plot relies on absurd coincidences, the characters are bland and it never strikes a balance between the stakes in the two worlds. All in all everything feels so inconsequential and there isn’t enough to hold the interest of the viewer at any given point. Another issue is that the pop culture references seem to exist only to reference them without actually understanding what the references mean to people. A good example is that the Iron Giant is used to do battle despite the point of that film being that the Iron Giant doesn’t want to fight. It’s only there because people will see it and recognise what it is. The same can be said for pretty much every reference the film makes and it gets tiresome very quickly.
The film isn’t entirely devoid of merit though. There’s a good sequence recreating key moments from The Shining and the visual aesthetic is generally impressive with some creative set pieces within the world of the Oasis. Mark Rylance is also infinitely watchable though I would have preferred a narrative that explored him in a lot more detail. It’s difficult to turn problematic source material into something good but I’m of the opinion that if anyone was going to take the material and make it great it would be Steven Spielberg. It’s just a shame that this wasn’t better than it was and the film doesn’t do anything to correct the mistakes made in the book nor does it really do anything to stand out in its own right as a film worth watching. I also participated on a podcast about this film.
3: Status Update
I’m not sure what I expected to get out of this film when I watched it though I found the concept vaguely interesting. As ideas go it’s fairly shallow and poorly thought out to have a magic app that grants the wishes of those who use it. Basically it’s a cynically modern version of the “be careful what you wish for” message and the experience of watching it is about as bad as you might imagine. Ross Lynch’s Kyle is your average blandly uninteresting new kid at school who has to find a way to fit into the already established social hierarchy. When he is gifted an app that lets his dreams come true he comes up with some of the least inventive life changing wishes you could possibly imagine in order to impress his peers as well as his attractive classmate Dani (Olivia Holt). There are a number of sequences in here that will make you cringe to watch them and nothing about any of the characters is interesting. Olivia Holt more than proved herself in Cloak & Dagger so it’s a shame she had to slum it in rubbish like this.
With a little bit of work this could have been a decent enough family movie. The problem with wish fulfilment stories is that the wishes aren’t often strong enough to be believable. There are a couple of funny moments where Kyle isn’t specific enough in his wishes and ends up making a fool of himself and his family life borders on interesting especially when one of his wishes is to have his father back in his life without understanding why he had to leave in the first place. With a bit more focus the lessons that Kyle learns could have made for some good character moments but there’s not much here to latch onto and the end result is just a mess.
Another classic franchise to fling on the scrapheap. This is an incoherent mess of a film that has clearly been butchered by script revisions, reshoots and any number of problems though it seems as if there nothing good here to begin with. There is a recent trend in blockbuster filmmaking where autism is treated as if its some sort of super power which would be fine if there was any thought put into it. The Predator plays with this in such a half baked way that it seems obvious that no research had been done into what autism actually is. This is saying nothing about the portrayal of Tourette Syndrome. As if that wasn’t bad enough the characters are routinely unlikeable and shockingly underdeveloped. Sloppy editing means that it’s unclear whether some of them even survive or not. The best character by default is Olivia Munn’s Casey Bracket; a scientist who also happens to be in peak physical condition. Her characterisation is inconsistent scene to scene and her usefulness to the story is minimal.
In this paragraph I would normally try to find something I liked about the film but there was almost nothing outside of the fact that it’s mercifully short that I would say is good. Even the Predators themselves are poorly used as the film tries to make the audience sympathise with one member of the species on the run from a more advanced version. The trouble is that the one we as the audience are supposed to side with also indiscriminately kills people so I’m not sure how rooting for it is possible. In short there were no good decisions made on this film so it can join Alien and Terminator on a list of franchises that might be too far gone to save.
My worst film of the year may not actually qualify as a film. In terms of presentation it’s basically the cinematic equivalent of a Wikipedia page. There’s no real plot here as it largely features a collection of characters moving between locations in order to learn more backstories. So much minutiae means that any hope for a coherent plot that has any sense of urgency is completely lost. It would help if the backstories were at least halfway relevant to whatever the main story is supposed to be but it feels like J.K. Rowling is more concerned with filling in irrelevant details about uninteresting characters not worth caring about than crafting a narrative that actually means something. Johnny Depp’s Grindelwald mercifully barely appears though that doesn’t make sense in a film that bears his name in its title, the “Fantastic Beasts” are little more than a periodic distraction and none of the character relationships are in any way interesting at this point. Eddie Redmayne isn’t someone I find to be all that engaging and he does nothing to convince me otherwise here.
Some individual elements work well enough. Jude Law’s Dumbledore is watchable if irrelevant, some of the creature designs are impressively creative and there are some characters that stand out more than others due to strong performance. Unfortunately the film has a generally washed out visual aesthetic that hides a lot of what looks good about it. It’s not that there’s nothing here that could have been used to make something good but it all gets lost in the abundance of empty fanservice and pointless backstories. This is basically everything wrong with franchise filmmaking in the modern era and it’s disheartening that there may be more films in this series that act as setup for something that might never be seen.
2018 was a strong year for Kneel Before Blog. We continued our coverage of many comic book TV shows, once again participated in a panel at Edinburgh Comic-Con, covered the Edinburgh International Film Festival and reached a personal milestone of 100 Podcasts. The latter was recorded live over the course of one evening and is available for your listening pleasure. For 2019 there are no specific goals as such but the aim is to continue on as we have up until this point. Happy New Year and a big thank you from all of us for the support we have received.
Here endeth my list of the worst films released in 2018. Feel free to comment with your favourites/least favourites. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter or just leave a comment in the comment section below. You’ll need an account for Disqus but it’s easy to set up.
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