Not too log ago I published The Shaynies, my ten favourite movies of 2016 in their respective genre or field. But every award list has a shadowy alter ego of disappointment and shame, because while we should always celebrate the cream that rises to the top of Hollywood’s barrel, we should never ignore the grift that congeals on its bottom. So while Tinsel Town has the Razzies to compliment the Oscars, I have the Shamies-the ten worst or most disappointing movies I saw in 2016. Don’t worry if you get a shudder or two reading this list-I felt like gaging a few times writing it.
By the way, a big shout out to The Nerd is the Word reader Allison Hill for the great name.
10. Batman V Superman: BvS falls more into the disappointment category than the bad one, but this movie was still a fail fest in more than one way. I gave it a reluctant 5 out of 10 because of my enormous soft spot for the source material, but even I couldn’t forgive its many (many) transgressions. While it had plenty of problems it’s biggest was a deep and fundamental misunderstanding of its characters. Lex Luthor-a genius with an indomitable will and one of the greatest super villains of all time-was played like a class clown with OCD. Superman was about as exciting as vanilla extract on a Sunday morning and Batman, whose cardinal rule has always been he doesn’t kill (Christopher Nolan made an entire movie about the Dark Knight’s refusal to deliberately take another human life) was a homicidal sociopath who racked up a larger body count than small pox. While it had some good action sequences and showed off some nice new Bat toys, the whole thing was bleak and depressing and humourless-the exact opposite of what super heroes should be. And remember kids, if Batman is about to drive a radioactive spear through your face, just yell “Martha!” and twenty seconds later you’ll be best friends.
9. Warcraft: Warcraft was supposed to launch a shiny new movie franchise for Universal and Blizzard studios. To that end, they invested a whopping 160 million dollars into producing the film. Unfortunately, it looked like they spent 159,999,999 of those dollars on special effects and nothing else. Make no mistake, this movie looked FANTASTIC and it spared no expense when it came to its visuals, but it forgot that you also have to invest in writing and directing. The cast wasn’t bad but they were given precious little to work with and too often the movie seemed to rely on inside jokes and story points that only players of the game understood (the producers failed to understand that, while the game may still be popular, alienating millions of casual movie fans was a fatal box office mistake). But my biggest disappointment regarding Warcraft was that it could have been great if it had invested the same time and energy into the script that it did in the special effects. If its story had complimented its appearance, it could have easily been one of my favourite movies of 2016 instead of one of the most disappointing.
8. The BGF: I’m willing to bet real dollars that a lot of kids who were lured to the multiplex by this flick (and judging by its horrible box office, not too many were) had nightmares for a week. A rare misstep by Walt Disney Studios last year, The BFG stopped being a kids’ movie about thirty seconds in and devolved into a creepy abduction/cannibalism story. The “friendly” giant abducts a girl from a London orphanage in the middle of the night, takes her back to Giant central where the other giants have mutated into even bigger monstrosities because they eat human beings (and spend their free time tossing the “friendly” giant around like a rag doll for kicks). And it turns out the mutant giants may have developed a taste for human flesh after eating the first kid the “friendly” giant kidnapped. So to recap, the “friendly” giant kidnaps a little girl after the other giants who spend all day kicking his ass ate his first victim. Remember, this was marketed as a kid’s film. Seriously Disney, re-examine your definition of the word friendly at the very least.
7. Independence Day Resurgence: Hopefully someone at Fox was fired after this debacle. Then hired back so they could be fired again. They took everything that made the first Independence Day a blockbuster in 1996 and either threw it out the widow or spat on it entirely. It was full of cardboard characters you never cared about, a story that was somehow even simpler than the first movie and no amount of souped up special effects could cover up the multitude of other shortcomings and sins this movie was guilty of. They left it open for a third film but by the time the final credits mercifully ran every human being on the planet had pretty much stopped caring about this franchise out of self defense.
6. Suicide Squad: Like so many others I swallowed the hype for this movie hook, line and sinker. This was going to be redemption for the disappointing mess that was BvS and DC/WB was finally going to deliver a great comic book movie. After I saw it I wanted to punch someone in the face. The plot made no sense (even for a comic book movie), the villain was essentially a demonic belly dancer and it was easily the most boring action movie I have ever seen. This wasn’t a movie; it was a two hour-long movie trailer (Warner actually hired the company that cut the trailers to do the final edit and my God it showed). While the rumoured Deadshot stand alone film starring Will Smith (one of the few good things about this film) could be good if armed with the right script and a good director, I have little confidence left in DC and even less appetite for their future movies outside of this June’s Wonder Woman. And remember how we kept hearing about Jared Leto’s sociopathic antics on the set? How edgy and groundbreaking his portrayal of the Joker was going to be? Remember how the Clown Prince of Crime was front and centre in all the trailers, commanding the mayhem and havoc while Queen blared in the background? Yeah, we were lucky if Mr. J wound up having five minutes of total screen time. So much for honesty in advertising.
5. The Fifth Wave: When the final credits on this cinematic sin finally started to roll, the person who insisted we see this mess of a movie was already cringing and shouting “the book was better!” in self-defense. This movie starred perhaps the dumbest, most incompetent aliens in the entire universe. The invaders unleashed a wave of natural disasters and disease on an unsuspecting Earth, yet they somehow managed to miss a bunch of teenage survivors who decided to become resistance fighters. And it wasn’t the loveable high school scamps they missed either. Remember the kids who looked down on you, mocked you and generally made your high school life hell? Yeah, those were the kids the would-be conquerors couldn’t put down with worldwide tsunamis and the bubonic plague. Worse yet, those kids with their polished hair, immaculate complexions and perfect teeth became the thin line between humanity and complete extinction. Commence vomiting now.
4. The Witch: I didn’t get a chance to see The Witch until a few weeks after its release and all I kept hearing in the meantime was how scary and groundbreaking it was. How it was going to breathe new life into a stagnant horror industry and scare the pants off even the most hardened horror fan. And when I finally got to see it, it was everything I could do not to fall asleep. This movie spent its entire running time winding up the tension, promising an explosive payoff in return for taxing my patience and then it just . . . ended. Sure, there was a conclusion but it looked like it was written by a first year film student and wasn’t nearly worth the nearly two hours I spent sitting there waiting for something-anything-to happen. The film ended with a caption declaring that it tried to remain faithful to Puritan folklore. Which is all well and good except Puritan folklore is about as exciting as watching paint dry on growing grass. Let’s be honest, these people wore belt buckles on their hats. And yet both the Puritans and their fashion choices were still more entertaining than this movie.
3. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children: What looked like it was supposed to be a combination of Harry Potter and The X-Men turned out to be a nonsensical mess of rotten storytelling, unlikeable characters and head scratching plot points. It looked like revered director Tim Burton directed this steaming pile while blindfolded, asleep and high. All at the same time. The only reason this movie wasn’t perfectly forgettable was because it was just so bad (trust me, I would love to forget this flick if I could). Perhaps the biggest sign this movie was a disaster waiting to happen was that most of the people who read the books had zero interest in seeing the big screen adaptation. If that isn’t a sign of Ed Wood levels of suckitude, I don’t know what is.
2. The Blair Witch: Seventeen years after the Blair Witch Project terrified audiences (and polarized them, it was sort of the Batman Vs. Superman of its day), they tried to resurrect the property in an attempt to scare up some easy box office dollars. All they really succeeded at was wiping their feet on the legacy of the franchise (which had already been tarnished by a horrible sequel in 2000) and ultimately driving a stake through its heart. There was absolutely nothing redeeming about this movie-it was boring, uninteresting and added nothing to the Blair Witch mythos. It exhausted the curious movie fan credit it earned last summer by sneaking into Comic Con under a fake name and moviegoers rejected this train wreck en masse.
1. Gods of Egypt: It’s never a good sign when film makers are obliged to apologize, explain or plead for their movie before its exposed to the movie going public. Cue Gods of Egypt. Months before Gods was released director Alex Proyas and studio Lionsgate Entertainment were apologizing for the film’s insane levels of whitewashing. How bad was its blatant race bending? It cast possibly the two whitest guys in Hollywood (Scotsman Gerard Butler and Dane Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) to play ancient Middle-Eastern deities. And even if you could somehow buy the idea that the supreme beings ancient Egyptians worshipped were whiter than Nordic snow, even the human heroes in this movie looked like they were plucked from the Aryan Brotherhood’s wet dreams. At best there were a handful of extras that looked like they might have passed through the Middle East once or twice on vacation. To make matters worse, Gods was released during Oscar season, when the #oscarssowhite movement was at its peak. But as bad as its whitewashing was, it was actually the least of Gods of Egypt’s problems. Its great special effects were overshadowed by heavily recycled story tropes, bad acting, predictable action and a snore worthy plot. Lionsgate wasn’t just trying to launch a film franchise to replace the likes of Hunger Games (or make up for the flailing Divergent franchise); it was trying to launch a merchandising empire as well. As a result, Gods of Egypt felt like a dumbed down, two-hour toy commercial for racist action figures.