As much as 2016 yielded some great films, it may well be remembered more for its stinkers. We have already listed the best films of 2016, but now we are turning our attention to the worst. This summer season was littered with the corpses of some mega-budget failures as franchises fell in their dozens and studios’ rolls of the dice came out with snake eyes almost every time.
Just as with the best films list, along with my co-hosts on The Popcorn Muncher Podcast – Luke and Patrick – I listed my ten worst films of 2016. We’ve awarded points for the rankings, crunched the numbers and here are, according to the three of us, the 20 worst films that were released in the UK in 2016.
20=. Zoolander 2 (2 pts)
After years of demand for a follow-up to his cult comedy, Ben Stiller made Zoolander 2 in which his male model tried to reconnect with his son whilst investigating the murder of various celebrities. It fell flat on its face at the box office and scored poor reviews.
Tom said: “Zoolander is a cult classic for a reason, but this sequel doesn’t even come close. Everything here feels dated and the nods to modern social media vanity never land how they should. This is a laugh-free zone.”
18=. The Accountant (3 pts)
This was a tough year for Ben Affleck, with the birth of the ‘Sad Affleck‘ meme and his major superhero flop. In The Accountant, he played an autistic numbers man/crack assassin in an incomprehensible plot that seems to go on forever.
Luke said: “It manages to take eight interesting ideas for movies and fail to focus on any of them. It’s very bad, very predictable and sees Hollywood refer back to its favourite trope of seeing autism as a superpower.”
18=. The Girl on the Train (3 pts)
Thriller The Girl on the Train came with major hype as a result of its bestselling source book. It focused on an alcoholic woman who witnesses something that might help police to solve a kidnapping, if she can piece together what happened.
Patrick said: “We knew that there would be a glut of page-turners turned movies and this was the first real stinker. Trashy in all the wrong ways, this was a waste of the brilliant talents of Emily Blunt and a movie that left audiences and critics lukewarm.”
16=. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (4 pts)
It appeared on our best films of the year list, but JK Rowling’s return to the Harry Potter franchise was certainly divisive when it came to putting together our review of 2016.
Patrick said: “If curiosity killed the cat, then sequel bating cross continuity killed major blockbusters in 2016. Rather than making a simple first movie to let us get to know all the characters, Fantastic Beasts overstuffs its plot with nodding references and set-up for future installments, to the point that it comes off as bad fan-fiction.”
16=. Nine Lives (4 pts)
Kevin Spacey is receiving some of the best reviews of his career for House of Cards, but this year, he was somehow duped into playing a businessman who had his consciousness transferred into the body of a cat by Christopher Walken. Seriously.
Tom said: “It’s rare that I genuinely don’t understand why a film was made, but Nine Lives is genuinely baffling on every conceivable level. All involved can and should be doing better. At least, I hope so.”
14=. London Has Fallen (5 pts)
No one wanted a sequel to Olympus Has Fallen, but we got one anyway. London Has Fallen was louder, swearier and more racist than its predecessor, relocating the president in peril plot to the British capital in a barrage of poor CGI.
Tom said: “There were two big movies this year that were alarming in their cultural insensitivity. London Has Fallen was brazen in its commitment to offensiveness and also seemed to be put together by a 10-year-old on a laptop. Just depressing.”
14=. Inferno (5 pts)
The third film of a Dan Brown novel arrived this year with Inferno, which saw an amnesiac Langdon tracking down a killer virus.
Luke said: “Who are the Langdon movies for? I mean, seriously? Because Inferno was not for people who liked well-told stories or coherent cinema.”
Tom said: “Without the ludicrous silliness of Angels and Demons, this was Brown at his most dull. Running, pointing and explaining the plot did not help this to make any sense at all.”
12=. Sully (6 pts)
Luke said: “I don’t think there was a movie with less of a story to tell that came out in 2016. Sully is bland in its storytelling and in its overall plot, which is complimented if you call it ‘thin’. It’s no surprise this faded away during awards season, as the memorable event on which it is based is done little justice.”
12=. The Purge: Election Year (6 pts)
The real life backdrop seemed to suggest that the third film in the Purge franchise might have hit gold with its election year setting. However, this was a nasty, racist twist on the franchise that left very little room for satire in amongst all of the by-the-numbers slasher antics.
Tom said: “I had really high hopes for this film, but it completely let me down in the worst possible way. Good ideas were tossed aside with gleeful abandon in favour of playground dialogue and unnecessarily graphic violence. This was a good opportunity totally thrown away in an indulgent hack job.”
10=. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (7 pts)
Tim Burton delivered perhaps his most Tim Burton film to date with this period tale of a haven for kids with special abilities who hid themselves in a time loop. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children took in grim fantasy violence, weird romance and had absolutely zero interest in helping its audience to keep track of its time travel storytelling.
Luke said: “This has the ingredients to be a solid and fun movie, but it is neither. Its characters are ill thought out, its plot nonsensical and boring, and there is absolutely no joy to be had from any of this. If Eva Green can play a starring role in the movie and the movie still not be any good, there’s something wrong.”
10=. Doctor Strange (7 pts)
Marvel’s latest was greatly enjoyed by some and hated by others, as we found out in our spoiler-filled podcast discussion. Doctor Strange took the MCU into intriguing new directions, but also fell foul of the studio’s established formula.
Luke said: “If you’re not bored of Marvel movies after this joyless, box-ticking entry in the franchise then there’s no other word for it – you’re wrong. Everyone gently walks through this movie and towards their paycheques. I want these movies to stop. Why won’t they stop?”
Patrick said: “The first time I really felt sick of the Marvel formula, Doctor Strange features an awful protagonist, who is being set up as a poor man’s replacement for Tony Stark. It’s a fine movie but lacks anything else; it’s far too safe and clinical to really sink your teeth into. Marvel needs to start raising the stakes pretty soon.”
9. Dirty Grandpa (8 pts)
For those who are keeping track of the rapidly declining career of Robert De Niro, I feel as if Dirty Grandpa might be the nadir. This film saw De Niro play the eponymous old codger, who dragged his grandson along on a quest for sex. It was every bit as bad as that sounds.
Tom said: “This was such a grim film. No horror movie could ever make me feel as dirty and unclean as this one did, with jokes that were not so much offensive as deeply depressing. The performances are dismal, the dialogue doesn’t have a single laugh in it and it’s like watching a series of talented people curl a massive turd on to their careers.”
6=. Hardcore Henry (9 pts)
The primary selling point of Hardcore Henry was that it was an innovative, first person action movie. It followed a cybernetically enhanced man battling through armies of goons in order to rescue his wife from the clutches of a seemingly unstoppable villain, who had telekinetic powers for some reason.
Tom said: “This was an onslaught on the senses that just left me feeling ill. It might have worked as a YouTube skit that only went on for a couple of minutes but, in the case of a 90-minute film, it was just a sickening mess. Watching people play a video game is boring, but this was so much worse.”
6=. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (9 pts)
DC played the first hand of its big superhero project this year, with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. As well as the two title characters, it introduced us to Wonder Woman and franchise big bad Lex Luthor. In keeping with the established tone of DC movies, it was a particularly grim watch that saw lots of people scowling in the dark on the way to a dull CGI-heavy showdown that was resolved with one of the worst story contrivances in cinema history.
Patrick said: “Having rested all of their hopes on the shoulders of Zack Snyder, a man who at this point can be categorically called a totally inept director, this broody mess that takes half its run time to even use an establishing shot wasted a fantastic concept. For shame.”
6=. Suicide Squad (9 pts)
Yes, it’s another DC film. It’s fair to say that this wasn’t a good year for Marvel’s big rival as they landed on the wrong side of the critical world once again with Suicide Squad. The film followed a ragtag bunch of baddies forced to work together in order to keep themselves alive and it was more than a little bit all over the place.
Luke said: “This was to cinema what a £10 all-you-can-eat buffet is to fine dining. Sure, some bits of it were good, but it was a little greasy at times, a little cold, and none of it worked when served on the same plate.”
Patrick said: “A good movie lies buried in here but unfortunately it has been mangled by studio interference and a heavy edit that takes any soul and potential this franchise had. The actors are doing fantastic work here, but an edit this bad and so directionless, with a nauseating amount of on-the-nose pop songs ruined the entire production.”
5. God’s Not Dead 2 (11 pts)
This evangelical mess was the only film to feature on all three of our lists of the worst films. God’s Not Dead 2 was a follow-up to the horrendous Christian drama from a few years ago and focused on a teacher taken to court over claims that she tried to bring her religious beliefs into the classroom. Like its predecessor, it imagined a hostile climate for Christians that seemed bizarre in the same year that Trump rose to power. This franchise definitely wants to make America great again.
Tom said: “There’s a certain joy to the sheer wrong-headed determination of the God’s Not Dead franchise. It is completely sure that the most persecuted people in America are white Christians and seems to have about as much understanding of the legal system as it does coherent filmmaking. At least we get another go at singing along to that killer title song.”
Luke said: “This is a cliched, poorly-made and just silly paranoia story about supposed Christian persecution. I’m not sure it’s as outrightly offensive as the first film, but it’s just as stupid. “
Patrick said: “It’s not as offensive as the first movie, but it’s equally poor. How these keep getting major releases is beyond me. This is a bizarre movie set in a world where atheists are evil masterminds, persecuting the poor Christians in America.”
4. Passengers (15 pts)
Few would have guessed at the beginning of the year that Passengers would be this close to the summit of the worst films of the year mountain. However, this proved to be an awful film that seemed to mistake stalking and highly questionable courtship tactics for high romance between Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt on board a space station. It’s less like the film Titanic and more like the disaster of the real Titanic.
Tom said: “Two of the other films on this list were hideously racist, but Passengers is more offensive than either of them. It’s a misogynistic mess from start to finish that squanders its immensely talented central performers with a boring story, a pitiful script and one of the most troubling central ideas ever.”
Patrick said: “No audience will find an ounce of enjoyment in this movie. It has an absolutely awful moral compass, a marketing campaign full of abject lies and a lead actor who looks like he’s on auto pilot. This was a waste of time for all involved.”
3. Warcraft (16 pts)
The blockbuster MMORPG franchise made its way to the big screen this year, but Warcraft did not prove to be the film that would show how well video games can move to the cinema. It followed a series of orcs and the humans whose planet they were looking to take over, culminating in the beginning of a war that we were presumably supposed to see the rest of in a franchise that may well not be as much of a studio priority as it was originally intended to be.
Luke said: “Warcraft is a great example of rich potential horrifically lit on fire. Every role is miscast, badly acted and poorly written. The action is clunky and boring to watch. The only thing worse than having sat through this movie is the fact they put a teaser for a sequel at the end.”
Patrick said: “Duncan Jones buckles under the weight of a Lord of the Rings style epic based on the popular game franchise. Wasted performances make it even more egregious how terribly this came out. Such a rich world has never seemed so stale.”
2. Independence Day: Resurgence (17 pts)
The original Independence Day remains a beloved slice of action shlock, so one cannot really blame Roland Emmerich for having a go at a sequel. Unfortunately, Independence Day: Resurgence was a drab take on what happened when the aliens returned to Earth, only to find the human race far more prepared than it was 20 years ago.
Tom said: “This film was utter dirge from start to finish. It knew how much people loved the first film and so got lost in nods to the past, whilst forgetting to create interesting new characters and landing the old ones with little other than nods and winks for fans. Of all of the big blockbuster sequels of this year, this one might have been the most depressing.”
Luke said: “It doesn’t possess a single character of note and its five scriptwriters, who I truly believe never once sat in the same room as one another, are left with no ideas other than jokes about butt cracks and attempts to recreate the first film’s iconic speech every 13 seconds. If I ever hate a movie more, there’s every chance I will petition my council to have the cinema shut down.”
1. #Horror (18 pts)
If that bizarre title was enough to put you off this film, then you are considerably smarter than any of us. We all watched this film as part of our marathon of Netflix horror films for Halloween and it was a bizarre experience. I’d usually attempt to summarise the plot here, but beyond the fact that it followed a group of girls holed up in a lavish house, I have no real idea what happened in any of the film. It was an abject nightmare from start to finish.
Luke said: “I could spend the rest of my life trying to understand what this movie wanted to be, and I’m not sure I’d ever truly get my head around it. Is it a horror film? A comment on social media? Something about how teenagers treat one another? All of these ideas are introduced, but handled with all the craft of a rhino sculpting a vase using a lawnmower.”
Patrick said: “Just watch the video. It doesn’t deserve any more words than those that are already documented.”
And here are our full lists. For our weekly reviews and chat, check out the podcast. If you want to yell at us for what we have chosen or indeed what we haven’t chosen, feel free to pop down to the comments section and scream your heart out.
Independence Day: Resurgence
The Purge: Election Year
London Has Fallen
God’s Not Dead 2
Independence Day: Resurgence
Miss Peregrine’s Home
God’s Not Dead 2
Batman v Superman
God’s Not Dead 2
The Girl on the Train