Although 2016 had a number of exceptional releases, it was hard to find them under the mountains of bad remakes and sequels. This past year brought out the worst in films, presenting often xenophobic, racist and sexist ideas on top of already terrible products. It’s a wonder that many of these made it it past their initial pitches, let alone were made at all to punish moviegoers. So let’s take one last look at the worst 2016 had to offer, and promise to try and do better in the New Years
Honorable Mention: Finding Dory
Before the comments come, hear me out. Pixar has been the driving force behind animated movies for over a decade, and last years Inside Out was a great example of how what many consider children’s films can be used to teach important lessons, many of which touched adults and children alike. So it was doubly disappointing that their next project was a shallow cash grab, using the success of Finding Nemo and well as the nostalgia behind it. The jokes often fell flat, the characters repeated character arcs from the previous film, and the whole thing had a direct-to-dvd feel that undercut the importance of events. The film also tried to have its cake and eat it too in regards to Dory’s disability, sometimes using it for humor and other times as for dramatic effect to get audiences to empathize with them, switching between the two far too often. It’s good that Pixar tried to show what mental issues such as Short Term Memory Los feels like, but it’s hard to feel sorry when the film also wants you to simultaneously laugh at Dory for it. While not among the worst of the year, Finding Dory was made for financial purposes alone, showing how even innovators like Pixar can make something soulless.
Number 10: The Mechanic: Resurrection
Stop me if this sounds familiar: Jason Statham stars as a badass that mumbles all his lines, fighting a gang of dudes who steal his girl, using only martial arts and henchmen that can’t aim to save the day within a 90 minute running time. If that sounds like something you’ve seen before, it’s because you have, but this time with any effort removed. Offensive in how boring it is, every character’s a tired stereotype, every line riddled with cliches, and each punch makes you care less and less thanks to uninventive choreography. The film is a relic of a bygone time, much like Statham himself, trying to excuse bland filmmaking with punching and kicking, all while doing even that poorly.
Number 9: Assassins Creed
The video game movie curse strikes again, this time dragging down great actors like Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard with its terrible script. Shoddily edited action scenes that hint at the effort behind the film aren’t enough to excuse a script that has as little idea of what’s going on as the audience, with characters often asking “what the fuck is going on” without any good answers being given. Many of the characters lack anything to do, everyone’s alignment between good and evil switches constantly, and the film is littered with terrible CGI. To the uninitiated, Assassins Creed is confusing, boring and dumb; this is doubly true for fans of the franchise, making even the most devout players wonder why they liked something so convoluted and dumb in the first place.
Number 8: Gods of Egypt
Much like last years’ Jupiter Ascending, Gods of Egypt is the rare bad film that goes all in with its ideas, despite them being completely insane. Whitewashing an Egypt made up entirely of white Europeans, good actors like Geoffrey Rush, Chadwick Boseman and Game of Thrones Nikolaj Coster-Waldau are stuck wandering around badly hidden green screens, in an awful sword and sandals flick that also manages to be a terrible sci-fi film at the same time. Ambition often outweighs budgets, with epic creatures and gods presented in dated, 90s-quality CGI, beginning laughable before quickly becoming tiresome. Add to this a borderline sexist treatment of its female characters, and Gods of Egypt can’t even be recommended in a so-bad-It’s good-way.
Number 7: The Forest
Trying to sneak its way past audiences in early January, The forest is more xenophobic then scary. Using the controversial suicide forests in Japan for the setting of a D-grade horror flick is insulting enough, but that half of the film isn’t even in the forest and gets its jump scares from scary looking Asian people is frankly offensive. So much of the film is seen from the white-privileged perspective of lead star Natalie Dormer, often looking down on Japanese culture, and presents even beloved cultural staples like sushi in a disturbing light, making the film feel out of touch when it isn’t outright offensive towards Japan. That the second half relies so much on bad twists and jump scares makes the film that much more insufferable. In a year full of unique horror offerings like Don’t Breathe and Green Room, it’s hard to tell who this shallow, racially insensitive flick was for.
Number 6: Zoolander 2
Among the many sequels no one asked for in 2016 comes Zoolander 2, a film that seems equally confused as to why the first film was a success. Unfunny, stupid and often oblivious to how little interest the filmgoing public has in Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson, with several jokes about them being now old and lame ringing more ironically then what was probably intended. The film just repeats and references the past film constantly, with another set of cameos from popular actors, more jokes about the fashion world that few people get, and more scenes of Stiller and Wilson acting out of touch with the modern day (again, an ironic allegory for the film itself). Were it a different set of actors, we could at least say we could have expected better, but this is about what’s to be expected from Hollywoods’ “why is this guy famous again?”
Number 5: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Yes, we got another good Batman in Ben Affleck, and the warehouse fight was okay; this doesn’t excuse the other 2 hours and 25 minutes of nothing, ranging from an hour of dream sequences and future film teasing that ends up meaning nothing. A versus movie means nothing when the film picks a side for the audience, favoring Batman so clearly as to never let Superman even defend himself, which is especially egregious in a film where everyone gives their opinion on Superman. The last fight against Doomsday is a pastiche of bullshit, combining bad cgi, loud and overly-dramatic music and epilepsy-enduring flashing lights into an incomprehensible mess. I respect D.C. for wanting to make their films feel different from the Marvel offerings, but overly-serious and under-good are a bad way of standing out.
Number 4: The Brothers Grimsby
Sascha Baron Cohen was revolutionary when he introduced us to the comedy stylings of Borat back in 2006, combining social satire with an uncomfortable look at how real Americans act. Almost 10 years later, he delivers a tasteless, unfunny mess that tests its audiences patience towards vulgarity. Each scenes formula is to place unlikable characters in situations for them to act horrible to one another, say something disgusting, or go for the most desperate of laughs through bathroom humor. The jokes linger for far longer then they should, turning already unfunny premises unbearable by the end. In case you weren’t already convinced not to see the film, the five minute scene of Cohen and co-star Mark Strong trying to jerk off an elephant penis while inside an elephants vagina is more then enough to point to as how far the film chooses to for a laugh, despite never ceasing to be more then insufferable.
Number 3: Dirty Grandpa
Robert De Niro used to be an acclaimed actor, and it’s made that much worse seeing him stoop to such a low as Dirty Grandpa. A sexist, racist and unfunny film is already bad enough, dragging down talented young actors like Zac Efron and Aubrey Plaza to perform the lamest of sex jokes. But someone like Robert De Niro should know better then to degrade himself in a film like this, with a twelve-year-olds idea of comedy in the form of crude language delivered in a way no one talks, race jokes no one finds funny, and old jokes that Robert De Niro is too good of an actor to endure. It’s the kind of film made for frat guys, treating women as objects to be attained and used, and thinking that acting like a child is still funny or charming. Dirty Grandpa is the kind of offensive to women film that works great as a double feature with Trump’s video where he talks about grabbing women by pussy, if that’s any indication of how much I unabashedly despised it.
Number 2: London Has Fallen
Another in an unfortunate list of xenophobic films released in 2016, none were quite as irresponsible and offensive as London Has Fallen. Where the first film could be excused as typical action movie fare, this 2016 sequel focuses so much of its energy on how scary and untrustworthy brown people are, taking time to single out arabic looking men and women in crowds, in an attempt to raise suspicion and fear of them. The film disturbingly takes joy in murdering scores of brown people, with Gerard Butler delivering one-liners that come off more racially offensive then endearing to the audience (the most notable of which has Butler exclaiming “Go back to Fuckheadistan”). On top of this, the film looks bad, lacks any semblance of a script, and presents people who drone strike a wedding of innocent people as the heroes of the picture (spoiler alert, they bomb innocent people in the end as an extra fuck you to the villains). London has Fallen is cinematic bile, representing the worst that Hollywood has to offer, and playing on people’s irrational fears to try and seem relevant. It’s a film perfectly made for your racist relatives, and much like said relatives, should be ignored and left alone.
Number 1: Suicide Squad
Years from now, once the allure of seeing fan-favorite characters on screen for the first time has died down, Suicide Squad may finally be seen by fans as the poster child for how not to make a film. College classes could be made dissecting the insane editing, contradictory script and numerous bad decisions the film makes. A movie that somehow explains too much and too little, it’s the rare superhero film that explains why the films heroes serve no purpose, and actually make each problem worse with their involvement, inviting speculation from the audience as to why they should even care. Not a single character is likable, wasting talented actors like Viola Davis and Will Smith on a script lacking in any subtly our nuance. Suicide Squad‘s ugliness ranges from its downright misogynistic treatment of women to outdated racial stereotypes, with violence towards women occurring to an inexcusable degree. Never has seeing people get shot seemed so lifeless, as a team of characters we don’t enjoy following face off against waves of faceless drone that don’t matter, to stop a badly acted villain whose powers are never defined, trying to destroy the world with another stupid blue beam in the sky death machine. You’ve seen this movie before, you’ve seen it done better, and theres absolutely no reason to waste 2 hours enduring this childish, insultingly stupid drivel. For the third time in a row, DC’s joke is on the viewers.