Top 10 Worst Movies of 2016

Another year is almost upon us. It’s time to look back on the good and the bad.

2016 has been one crazy year. We missed a lot of people including David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Gene Wilder, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, Prince, George Michael, and so on. They are leaving a hell of a legacy behind them. On the other hand, 2016 has been another wonderful year for film. Plenty of movies that surprised me and exceeded my expectations. However, I cannot remember the last time so many movies flopped—both critically and financially. It’s disappointing to see good movies such as The BFG and Kubo and the Two Strings not earning the money it deserved. I’m actually glad some movies I missed out on flopped.

Like I usually do, let’s start off with the worst movies of the year. There were plenty of films I’ve seen in 2016 I would definitely like to forget. This year has seen some great actors wasting their talents, more rip-offs to better young-adult adaptations, some of the worst comedies imaginable, and a CGI-fueled clash between two of the greatest superheroes. Without further ado, here’s my list of the top ten worst movies of 2016.

Dishonorable Mentions: Free State of Jones, Hardcore Henry, A Hologram for the King, I Saw the Light, Independence Day: Resurgence, Regression, Sausage Party, Suicide Squad

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(Source: The Verge)

10. Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice – I knew this film was not going to be any good after Ben Affleck was announced to play Batman. That was three years ago after the release of Man of Steel (which I mildly enjoyed)! Finally seeing it in theaters, Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot are the only decent things about this cluttered, derivative mess. Zack Snyder cannot even direct a compelling narrative that had a lot of potential for making up the problems Man of Steel had. If the best part in the movie is the opening, that’s not a good sign. The tone is so dead serious that it almost bored me to tears. Not to mention the climactic fight between these two superheroes being overhyped—it’s just them crashing into walls. Batman vs. Superman is a disgrace to two of the best superheroes of all-time. How can they ruin such a great supervillain like Lex Luthor? Jesse Eisenberg is impossible to take seriously.

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(Source: The Los Angeles Times)

9. Warcraft – For someone who has never played any of the World of Warcraft video games, I had a feeling this might be a new fantasy classic and would end the streak of bad video game adaptations. Duncan Jones, who directed Source Code, one of the greatest science-fiction films in recent memory, showed some footage to his father David Bowie before his death in January. It is, without a doubt, a nice thing to do; being curious on what someone’s son has been working on. From seeing the final product, all I could say is this: What the hell happened?

This fantasy epic—more like, an epic failure—has visuals that look pretty cool (I mean, look at the Orcs) but the green screen effects are atrociously obvious. I wish the mythology would have been explored more. Some of the humor is forced, the battles are a bore, and features a huge waste of talent from such a solid cast. I’m glad Ben Foster went somewhere after this dud. Warcraft is a movie for gamers, by gamers.

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(Source: IndieWire)

8. Jane Got a Gun – The popularity of the Western genre has decreased since Clint Eastwood’s Award-winning film Unforgiven. There are plenty of Westerns that came out after 2000 that were actually great; 3:10 to Yuma and the 2010 remake of True Grit are some examples. Of course, there were plenty of misfires over the years. Jane Got a Gun is no exception. Being in production for many years, the movie ended up being released in 1,200 theaters nationwide. Resulting in becoming one of the biggest box-office bombs of the year. Director Gavin O’Connor (Warrior, The Accountant) and three writers including star Joel Edgerton had created a character study and revenge tale that is neither interesting nor exciting. Natalie Portman plays Jane Hammond, a frontierswoman, who seeks revenge on a gang, led by Ewan McGregor’s John Bishop, after attacking her husband—sound familiar? The overuse of flashbacks doesn’t make up to really sympathize with any of the characters. Portman, Edgerton and McGregor seem lost here. The final showdown is a bit of an anticlimax. By the end, Jane Got a Gun proves where the Western genre is going.

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(Source: IMDb)

7. The Huntsman: Winter’s War – I was excited to see this when I heard Frank Darabont was going to direct the sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman. He directed two of the best Stephen King adaptations of all-time—The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. Not to mention the bland Kristen Stewart not returning to reprise her role as Snow White. Even though I found its predecessor to be average, The Huntsman: Winter’s War disappointed me on a gargantuan level.

This movie has no idea what it wants to be. A prequel? A sequel? Or a Frozen rip-off? The cast is trying really hard here; Chris Hemsworth and Jessica Chastain are two of the most charming actors working today. But, they have no chemistry whatsoever, and their Scottish accents are horrible. Charlize Theron had little to nothing to do here as the Queen Ravenna. And Emily Blunt is at her absolute worse as Freya the Snow Queen. Her mumbling and sudden outbursts reminded me so much of Eddie Redmayne’s “villainous” performance in last year’s Jupiter Ascending. If anyone is suffering from insomnia, listening to the dialogue from The Huntsman: Winter’s War would certainly help you get a good night’s sleep.

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(Source: IMDb)

6. Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising – Seth Rogen is one of the most overrated comedians in recent memory. Ever since Superbad (which I didn’t mind him in), he plays the same character over and over again. The R-rated animated comedy Sausage Party made me lost my appetite, but Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising was much worse.

Even though I somewhat enjoyed Neighbors, it went a little too far with its humor. Especially having way too many dick jokes. When they got it right, they got it right! Was a Neighbors 2 really necessary? If I saw this in theaters, I would have walked within ten minutes. Watching this in the comfort of my own home resulted in a painful film-watching experience. It’s raunchier and a lot nastier than its predecessor. One of the early scenes involving Mac and Kelly’s (Rogen and Rose Byrne reprising their roles) daughter—now a toddler—holding a dildo sums up the film’s humor. I did chuckle a few times throughout the 90-minute duration, but I didn’t laugh out loud. The dramatic moments felt forced and the craziness of the sorority felt tiresome. How come Seth Rogen and Zac Efron became good friends at the end of the first film even though they were big enemies is beyond me. Chloe Grace Moretz is a talented young actress, but she needs to take a break from raunchy comedies and young-adult adaptations, which leads to a perfect segue to my pick for number five.

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(Source: comingsoon.net)

5. The 5th Wave – Another misfire starring Chloe Grace Moretz. Instead of fighting against neighbors, she’s fighting to save the world. The 5th Wave had promise early on when they talked about the different disasters Earth had faced leading up to the potential “Fifth Wave”, where kids are separated into military-based groups to save the world from aliens. Then, it quickly goes to generic and predictable territory. With the popularity of The Hunger Games, everyone apparently decided to make these rip-offs to attract teenagers. Moretz is trying her hardest to save it from being an absolute disaster. I don’t know what the hell Live Schreiber was thinking when he signed to do this film. The lack of originality, bland performances from everybody, and the mundanity of its narrative and direction wasn’t enough to hold my attention.

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(Source: Collider)

4. Yoga Hosers – If you any of you seen him in interviews, Kevin Smith is one of the most awesome people working today. Not only does he create some funny and honest films such as Clerks and Chasing Amy, he also knows a lot about comic books. After a very limited theatrical release, his second entry in his True North trilogy—the first being Tusk, which I avoided like the plague—has earned its cult status on Netflix. I have never seen anything this absurd and irritating in my life! Lily-Rose Depp and Harley Quinn Smith play two teenagers who spend most of their time on their smartphones and playing in a band while working at a Winnipeg convenience store. One night, they fight off Nazis in the form of bratwursts. It’s definitely as bad as it sounds.

These two actresses do have long careers ahead of them, but they play two of the most annoying characters I’ve seen all year. Not only are the Canadian stereotypes are appalling, it also features godawful one-liners and even worse jokes that it made my jaw drop. And Johnny Depp is just doing his usual Depp-isms, but in a French-Canadian accent. I cannot listen to “Babe” by Styx the same way ever again.

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(Source: Flavorwire)

3. Mother’s Day – The world said goodbye to Garry Marshall this past summer when he passed away from pneumonia. He is one of the most down-to-earth people in the world, but it doesn’t change the fact that his movies aren’t entirely good. Mother’s Day, his last directed film, follows the same structure as his previous two duds—Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Day (which I’m not going to bother with). Where we see several different storylines of different people on how they go on with their lives during a certain holiday. This movie feels more like a two-hour long sitcom episode than an actual film. It has every single stereotype in the book—from gay people to people of different races (case in point, Indian people). The jokes are horrendous and the story arcs just come off as syrupy. Not to mention one embarrassing scene where the mother (Margo Martindale) of two sisters (Kate Hudson and Sarah Chalke) doesn’t get a warm welcome due to seeing one of her daughters coming out of the closet. With an all-star cast including Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Julia Roberts, and Garry Marshall-regular Hector Elizondo (one of the saving graces of Valentine’s Day), I could see the outcome of each arc coming from a mile away. Julia Robert’s wig plays out as a much better character.

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(Source: IMDb)

2. Dirty Grandpa – How can a great actor like Robert De Niro waste his talent in such a dreadful piece of work? It’s easy! Have him do a scene where he his grandson (welcome back to the list, Zac Efron!) catches him masturbating through porn. That’s not the worst of it. I never been so close to walking out of a theater when I saw Dirty Grandpa back in January. Every scene gets worse and worse. From De Niro making jokes about his grandson’s fiancée’s pink VW beetle to having a nude Efron waking up on a beach from a hangover wearing nothing but a bumblebee fanny pack with beer bottles surrounding him to De Niro cursing more than he does in every single Scorsese movie he has been in combined. No one tries to be funny, and every single character annoyed me to the point where I could not take it anymore. Once Dirty Grandpa was finally over, I literally walked out of the theater in shock. I went home to watch Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho to get the bad taste out of my mouth. But—at least it’s not the worst movie I’ve seen this year.

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(Source: AskMen)

1. Nine Lives – A lot of people, like myself, thought this movie was a damn joke after watching the preview. Sadly, it’s a real movie about Kevin Spacey playing a successful NYC businessman who wants to buy his daughter a cat for her birthday. An accident leads him to the hospital, and his body is put inside the cat by a cat-store owner/cat whisperer (Christopher Walken, who looked like he walked on the set to star in the sequel to Click). What makes this Shaggy Dog rip-off (The Shaggy Cat?) so awful is that Barry Sonnenfeld directed it. He went from directing Men in Black, one of the funniest sci-fi films of the 20th century, to directing this puddle of cat piss. Not only was the film not funny at all, even Kevin Spacey looked like he didn’t want to be a part of this movie. Even his “one-liners” sum up his feeling about this movie (“Just drown me,” he says when he is given a bath as a cat). I love cats, and I do admit the cat is gorgeous, but I have seen other cats portraying so much better performances than in Nine Lives (Keanu anyone?). Hell, I’ve seen better CGI in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance than in this film. One of the subplots involves Spacey wanting to create the tallest building in the country, which will bore kids to tears with its talk about business. It’s just amazing how bad Nine Lives is!

I hope you enjoyed what my picks are for the worst films of 2016 as much as I did tearing them apart. Feel free to leave any comments about what are some bad movies you had to endure this year. Stay tuned for my list of the best movies of 2016.

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Movie Review: Manchester by the Sea

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Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) looks after his nephew in Manchester by the Sea. (Source: Los Angeles Times)

Over the years, the State of Massachusetts has become one of the most popular filming locations. Particularly there are a lot of great films set in Boston; such as Good Will Hunting, The Departed, Mystic River, The Town, and so on. As a New Englander (Maine, to be more specific), the settings in those films are so familiar to me and the characters remind me of the people I meet on a day-to-day basis. Movies not only set but filmed anywhere in New England area feel just as authentic as its culture.

From receiving unanimous praise since its premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Manchester by the Sea is also generating Oscar buzz. I can certainly see why.

Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is working as a janitor at an apartment complex in Quincy. Living by himself in a studio apartment, he spends most of his time drinking at the local pub. One chilly winter day, he gets a phone call about his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) dying from congestive heart failure. Lee sorts out plans for his brother’s funeral while looking after his nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges, Moonrise Kingdom), who plays on the high school hockey team and has two girlfriends—Sylvie (Kara Hayward, also from Moonrise Kingdom) and Sandy (Anna Baryshnikov). Once he returns to his hometown, Lee’s past begins to creep up on him.

Kenneth Lonergan has written and directed a raw, funny, affectionate work of art centering on one man’s grief. Casey Affleck’s Lee may be stubborn and selfish, but he tries to connect with his nephew like he did years ago. It’s hard not to sympathize with him. Accompanied by a haunting score by Lesley Barber as well as segments from Handel’s Messiah, the audience sees him go through a lot after his brother’s death. The audiences learn about how and why he left for Quincy through a series of flashbacks—then, having to come back. In one scene, Lee meets his ex-wife Randi (the lovely Michelle Williams) on the street, and cannot make a conversation while she’s expressing her heartache. As devastating as that scene is, it makes up for it with its deadpan sense of humor. Especially when Patrick asks Lee what happened to his hand, Lee tells him he cut it by smashing a window. “For a minute there, I didn’t know what happened,” Patrick replies.

2016 has been a spectacular year for movies. I’ll be happy if Manchester by the Sea or Moonlight takes home the big prize. But, this is a movie about life. Best film of the year!

4/4

Movie Review: Moonlight

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Juan (Mahershala Ali) and little Chiron (Alex Hibbert) take a plunge in the Atlantic Ocean in Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight. (Source: Washington Post)

It looks like A24 is on a roll. It might have some misfires—doesn’t every production company? But, with movies such as Ex Machina, The End of the Tour, Room, The Witch, The Lobster, and even Swiss Army Man, they have made some of the most unique films in recent memory. Featuring an all-black cast, Moonlight is changing the way we look at art-house cinema for the better. I have never seen anything this powerful all year.

Separated into three acts, we follow Chiron as a kid (Alex Hibbert), as a teenager (Ashton Sanders), and as a young adult (Trevante Rhodes). Living in a rough part of Miami, he is unsure what or where he wants to be in life. He escapes the emotional abuse from her mother Paula (Naomie Harris) and sees a positive influence in a crack dealer Juan (Mahershala Ali). Chiron lives with him and his girlfriend Teresa (Janelle Monáe). He puts Chiron in the right direction. However, Chiron begins to question his feelings towards his best friend Kevin (Jaden Piner—as a kid, Jharell Jerome—as a teen, and Andre Holland—as an adult).

In his second film, writer/director Barry Jenkins has created an emotional roller-coaster ride about self-discovery. Instead of making each character look like a stereotype, he makes them feel natural to the point where the audience relates to the situations they are in. For instance, Chiron is a troubled little boy getting bullied at school as well as at home. Chiron admits he never had a father, and Juan walks into his life and becomes his father figure. “At some point, you got to decide for yourself who you’re going to be,” he says to Chiron.

When Chiron lives with him, he asks Juan what a faggot is—which is a word he would hear in the future. While Moonlight has some great dialogue, the characters’ expressions say a lot. There is something so touching behind the rough Miami setting that it moved me to tears. I had never wished for a better ending to one of the best films of 2016.

4/4

Movie Review: Loving

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Richard and Mildred Loving (Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga) embrace in Jeff Nichols’ account on Loving v. Virginia.

Midnight Special, which came out early this year, is an overlooked science-fiction gem. It might not win everybody over with its mystery, it’s nonetheless a beautiful tribute to Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Believe me, it does require repeated viewing (I have yet to re-watch it). Director Jeff Nichols goes back to an important time in American history. A time where racial segregation has become more noticeable. One day, two people have to face the reality of defying the racial barrier of getting married.

Richard and Mildred Loving (Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga) are an interracial couple living in a small town in Virginia. When Mildred announces that she is pregnant, Rich decides to build a house in the middle of a wide-open field and raise a family. They get married, but since this is Virginia, the state has some strict marriage laws. They get arrested, and once they are on bail, they are forced to live in Washington, D.C. The couple does everything they could to settle this case once and for all. They are presented in front of the Supreme Court for the ruling of Loving v. Virginia of 1967.

A movie about the famous racial case would have been corny. What Jeff Nichols does with Loving is anything but. The subtle yet tender chemistry between Edgerton and Negga is one of the biggest highlights. Their expressions say so much, while keeping their dialogue short and sweet (in one particular scene, where Mildred gets off the phone hearing about some good news). This is a couple who fought for their lives while never letting go of that bond, despite their different characteristics. Adam Stone’s exquisite cinematography and the vintage soundtrack crafts a marvelous portrait of a rough time in history.

Of course, it’s not a Jeff Nichols film without Michael Shannon. In his fifth collaboration with the great filmmaker, he has a small yet wonderful role as Grey Villet, the photographer LIFE Magazine hired to take photos of the happy couple in one of the film’s many heartwarming scenes. Loving is one of the year’s best films!

4/4

Movie Review: Arrival

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Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) sees something in the distance in Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival. (Source: Seattle Times)

After making two of the best films of the decade—Prisoners and Sicario, director Denis Villeneuve transitions to the realm of science fiction. It’s the kind of science fiction that doesn’t rely on action sequences, but rather on words and ideas.

Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is a linguistics professor whose lecture is interrupted by news coverage of twelve alien pods hovering in different locations around the world. She is accepted by Colonel GT Weber (Forest Whitaker) to go to a site in Montana where one of the pods is located. As the leader of a group of including theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), Louise tries everything to communicate with the aliens. The closer she gets to solve the mystery, the closer the other nations are to a war.

Like with his two previous films, Villeneuve gives the power of what filmmaking is all about. Something that shakes us to the very core. Something that is realistic. Something that can be discussed about for years. While it can be compared to other sci-fi movies such as Signs or Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Arrival is more than just your usual alien invasion flick. It asks questions such as: Who and what are these beings? Why are they here? Do they pose as a threat to humanity, or otherwise?

What’s part of the film’s brilliance is it’s entirely grounded in the realm of the need to communicate. Thanks to a miraculous screenplay by Eric Heisserer, it makes the audience try to solve the puzzle for themselves, while, thanks to the Villeneuve’s smooth direction, absorbing them into the mystery and the majestic beauty of Bradford Young’s cinematography provided by Johann Johannsson’s angelic score. While it doesn’t move at a fast pace, it takes its time to develop questions and makes us wonder the outcome.

Amy Adams’ Louise is so compassionate and persevered that she can do anything to connect with the aliens rather than start a fight with them (I’ll be glad if she gets some Oscar recognition for this movie). Providing enough wit and charisma from Renner and Whitaker, they are also the heart and soul of this devastatingly powerful film.

Arrival is what Interstellar should have been. A rich, thought-provoking, mind-bending experience that has absolutely no time for any B.S. One of the year’s best!

4/4