A common refrain regarding most of 2016 was “please just let it be over“. One area in which that sentiment was definitely true was among the steady stream of ill-advised reboots and sequels. Rather than jump into the lineup of worst films, we wanted to touch on a lineup of some of the films that we had been looking forward to on one level or another, and wound up stumbling out of the theater wondering how we might ever get those last few hours back.
8. Zoolander 2
RT Critics Rating: 23%, RT Audience Liked Rating: 21%
The original Zoolander was a silly but fun satire of the fashion industry, with a vast lineup of real-life fashion icons putting in appearances. It wan’t a classic for the ages, but with the rise of the wider awareness of high fashion it showed that world could poke fun at itself. This sequel basically was a far inferior version with some of its few laughs coming when it recycles some of the original’s jokes.
It had none of the original’s charm and wasn’t having fun with Zoolander’s stupidity, it was just making him stupid because it knew that’s how he was supposed to be. The end result was a film that makes you doubt that you ever really liked the original as much as you thought you did.
7. Jason Bourne
RT Critics Rating: 56%, RT Audience Liked Rating: 58%
This is our fifth installment on this particular ride, and let me see if any of this sounds familiar. Jason Bourne (played by Matt Damon) comes across information about the government’s treatment of him or his family, the government finds out that he knows, they try to kill him before he gets to them. The gets to them and kills them. There’s a twist at the end setting things up to do it all again the next time.
It has all the variation on a theme from the prior films as another installment in the Taken franchise. At least the Bourne films have generally had decent production values and some killer chase scenes. Combine that with healthy kickbacks from various national tourism boards who love the picturesque vistas while cars are crashing and exploding everywhere, and it still winds up in the black. So while it’s getting as repetitive as heck, and the audience ratings keep dropping, we’re sure to see at least two or three more of these in our future.
Did we mention that there’s actually tour routes for some of the chases? No, really. Here’s one for the Bourne Supremacy Tour in Berlin.
6. Suicide Squad
RT Critics Rating: 26%, RT Audience Liked Rating: 64%
Suicide Squad was another opportunity for the DC universe to achieve same form of critical and box office success as Marvel has been enjoying. It was another opportunity and in the end, another failure. While fans liked it somewhat more than most critics, but it still had a hard time finding legs enough to break though. Studio interference in an attempt to paint by numbers to replicate the success of Deadpool resulted in an uneven storyline that’d been cobbled together after numerous reshoots and second-guessing.
Random cameo’s of the Flash and Batman did nothing to add to the film other than give glimpses into other possible storylines that might have been better than this
RT Critics Rating: 20%, RT Audience Liked Rating: 40%
This is a great example of how both audience as well as studio continue to care less and less about a series as it goes along, until the point that they get to the third installment of a trilogy and they know they just need to make it and kick it out the door to complete everyone’s contracts.
With an overall feeling of “we’ve seen this before” with Tom Hanks as Dr. Robert Langdon, playing an international scavenger hunt game. Going from clue to clue, trying to solve the riddle of his own missing memories. In the first film of the series, The Da Vinci Code, it was a mystery hunt to solve a riddle that has the feeling of an epic depth because of clues coming after having been left centuries earlier to a mystery two thousand years old. Now we’re to the point of a stock version of the “bad guy with a virus getting ready to wipe out a large part of the world’s population” trope. The film oozes with the sense that neither the actors nor writers could really care less about what’s happening.
It’s almost to Divergent franchise levels of the audience also forgetting to care about the story, since the one they were really interested in ended two films ago.
RT Critics Rating: 72%, RT Audience Liked Rating: 54%
Before anyone starts howling about how it’s sexist to dislike Ghostbusters. I didn’t hate it because of the gender of the leads, in fact two of the four female leads were the best parts of the film (Kate McKinnon’s portrayal of Dr. Jillian Holtzmann is the singular breath of solid comedy to be found). Sure, playing spot-the-cameo was enjoyable, but Bill Murray’s paranormal skeptic, Martin Heiss came off as more mean-spirited than ironic. Chris Hemsworth’s stupid but sexy portrayal as Kevin Beckman is another misfire since the original’s Janine Melnitz (Annit Potts) as the Ghostbuster’s receptionist was neither.
At least the first film back in 1984 knew to leave the destruction in place after all the action had ended and the world had been saved. This time around everything is magically ok and repaired to normal at the end, which only cheapens the battles that everyone has been through to this point. The point of the Ghostbusters being arrested only to be taken before the mayor to plead their case to let them save the city of the original. This time the government already knows about the ghosts, and just needs to work with the Ghostbusters on the down-low and publicly denounce them as frauds. The film’s story feels like the writers had never actually seen the original and only had it described to them by way of an episode of Drunk History.
3. Independence Day: Resurgence
RT Critics Rating: 31%, RT Audience Liked Rating: 31%
ID4 was another of those films that wasn’t Close Encounters of the Third Kind or E.T.-level classics, but it was and remains a beloved alien-invasion/disaster staple. When the idea that a sequel would come along emerged, everyone got excited. Then the news came out that Will Smith wouldn’t be returning due to salary requirements (how he thought a $50 million price tag for two ID sequels would be a good idea). Sure, he hadn’t yet made the box-office disaster that would be After Earth. Perhaps the ID team should have gone back to him after that, since he might have been a touch more humble.
This time around, we get a 3,000 mile wide spaceship landing on Earth and starting to drill down to harvest the heat from the planet’s core. There’s suspension of disbelief, and then there’s a moment where something on screen is just so silly that the audience just becomes annoyed that they’re being treated like idiots. The amount of atmospheric and geological damage done by such a ship landing would be an endgame by itself. Plus – harvesting heat? When you have stars to pull from?
Watching Jeff Goldblum play Jeff Goldblum was the only real saving grace in the film, even though you mostly just feel sorry for him being stuck in this terrible dumpster fire.
2. X-Men: Apocalypse
RT Critics Rating: 48%, RT Audience Liked Rating: 68%
One day Fox will realize that the best of the X-Men movies was First Class, and was the only not not to have been directed by Bryan Singer. There is no coincidence when one things about what he did to Superman the one time he got his hands on a DC property with Superman Returns. Here again Fox gives him the reins and he takes a beloved and rich comic storyline and vivisects it. So granted, Psylocke (Olivia Munn), wasn’t originally to have been in the story at all, but once Singer added her in, they could have at least had her do something rather than basically hanging out on the sidelines and kicking plotlines back into play.
Hopefully Fox will re-discover Matthew Vaughn’s phone number and bring him back in before they have to sign over the rights to the Mutants back to Marvel forver. Though now that I think about it, that wouldn’t be a bad thing.
1. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
RT Critics Rating: 28%, RT Audience Liked Rating: 64%
In the end, any film with Batman fighting Superman is going to be hampered by the simple fact that Superman can simply pick up the batmobile and toss it into orbit and then wait for Batman to tap out. The idea that the biggest confrontation in the comic book genre can happen without any sensation of actual fear for the safety of either combatant is a failing on the part of the writers and director. Ending the fight by using safeword just struck as the cop-out to end all cop-outs. Even Wonder Woman, one of the great heroines of the DC universe, is barely utilized. When she is brought into the story, every shot of her framed with glamor lighting and a light breeze tossing her hair.
The only good thing after watching BvS is that people still have Wonder Woman to look for later this year. Hopefully that will be the breakout success that DC and it’s fans have been waiting for and by this point they dearly deserve one.