5. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Wow, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a dumb movie. The generic, metalcore-inspired subtitle wasn’t promising, but this thing is sillier than anyone could’ve expected. Seriously, you don’t need to turn every movie up to eleven in order to succeed. The name of the game here seems to be “bigger is better” and it doesn’t really work. It’s not as if Jurassic Park has ever been grounded in reality, but this entry in the series is a little too wild for its own good. It’s not quite Michael Bay ridiculous, but it’s close.
Over-the-top isn’t always bad, but it feels unnecessary and somehow even dull this time around. Fallen Kingdom isn’t a refreshing entry in the series. Nope, it’s just a louder and dumber entry. It’s not quite Jurassic Park III bad, but then again, few movies are.
It’s still a movie that’s hard to recommend when better blockbusters exist. Why watch this overstuffed sequel when there are so many better options from 2018? Someone could spend his or her time watching The Incredibles 2, Upgrade, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, or even the surprisingly solid Bumblebee. They’re smarter and more fun, which means there’s not a whole lot of reason to revisit these dinos.
Superfans of the franchise may be more generous when watching the movie. Aside from the increased chaos, this is a very similar movie to the previous flicks. It mostly plays things safe even when it chooses to dial things up. Hell, some people might enjoy the wilder moments. Just keep in mind that it’s not for everyone.
Venom succeeds in that it’s a trainwreck that’s kind of hard to look away from. There are few objectively good elements to be found in this anti-hero origin story, but there’s plenty to appreciate regardless. The problem, of course, is that the movie is only easy to appreciate because it’s such a disaster. Unfortunately, “so-bad-it’s-good” still fits the criteria of this list. After all, most people probably wanted Venom to be “so-good-it’s-good.”
There are several notable problems, but for brevity’s sake, this list will focus on two. The first major problem is the mishmash of tones. The bleak colors and lighting point to the fact that this should be a darker movie. The first half-hour or so seems to say something similar. This all changes when the symbiote shows up and turns everything into a cartoon.
Venom appears to be a dark origin story with a hard PG-13 rating, but it eventually turns into an episode of The Three Stooges with a heavy emphasis on slapstick humor and practically no grit to be seen. Now, if this movie had clear goals of being campy, that would be excusable, but there’s a lot here that says “nobody could make up their damn mind about what kind of movie this needs to be.” There’s no denying that some of the humor is intentional. The problem is that this sense of humor feels odd compared to the initial setup.
Then there’s the fact that this movie seems like it jumped straight from 2004. It feels more reminiscent of Daredevil than Spider-Man Homecoming. Superhero movies have evolved in the last decade and a half, but Venom feels disappointingly unwilling to get with the times. The goofy CGI action mixed with the cardboard characters confirm that this doesn’t feel like a product of this time period.
Now, the aforementioned negatives often make for an entertaining movie, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t issues. It’s great that people are liable to get enjoyment from Venom’s sheer stupidity, but it’s still a bad movie. Unintentionally fun isn’t impressive when you think about what could have been.
3. The Cloverfield Paradox
The announcement that The Cloverfield Paradox would be viewable the day it was announced sounded like an elaborate marketing technique, but maybe it’s because Paramount (wisely) dropped it before Netflix snatched it up and worriedly released it to the masses. Yes, surprise releases have always kind of been Cloverfield’s thing, but one can’t help but think that the lack of quality might have something to do with a release as surprising as this.
Prior to the actual release, few people would be able to come to this conclusion. Given 10 Cloverfield Lane’s critical reception, it all sounded like a dream come true when fans of the franchise were given the opportunity to watch the movie within hours of its initial announcement. It was only after people sat through 100 minutes of lazy writing and shoehorned franchise-building that they realized it may not be a pleasant surprise after all.
It’s easy to dislike any movie that so frequently uses science fiction as a crutch. Any lapse in logic is immediately explained by a character babbling on about black holes or whatever scientific nonsense comes to mind. It’s obvious that next to no research was done here.
On the contrary, any of the countless scientific explanations seem tied to laziness rather than narrative cohesion. It’s as if the writers desperately needed excuses to include numerous scenes of body horror. The only explanations come from the pseudo-scientist characters who nervously babble on about sci-fi clichés that the audience is supposed to blindly accept.
Speaking of lazy writing, The Cloverfield Paradox does an even worse job than its predecessor when it comes to setting the movie in the Cloverfield universe. Like 10 Cloverfield Lane, it’s clear that this wasn’t originally supposed to be a Cloverfield movie. Unlike 10 Cloverfield Lane, there’s not enough quality to excuse the messy tie-in that happens toward the film’s finale.
Aside from two scenes, there is absolutely no sign that this is a Cloverfield movie. When it actually becomes an established part of the franchise, the writers once again decide to make some far-fetched claim about how anything is possible through science, even giant sky monsters.
It’s not just that The Cloverfield Paradox isn’t as good as the first two movies. The disappointment comes from the fact that it’s such a monstrous (pun intended) step down. When ranking the movies in the franchise, this sloppy mishmash of bad ideas is in third place by several light years. It’s almost unfair to compare it to the previous flicks because it’s that much of a step down. Basically, it’s nearly impossible to recommend.
2. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
As easy as it would be to blame Johnny Depp for this movie’s failure, there are actually much bigger problems. Sure, his casting was considered controversial because of the numerous allegations surrounding his abusive behavior, but his presence doesn’t detract from the overall quality of the movie. Yes, some could argue that it’s unwelcome, but it doesn’t negatively impact the movie. Rather than focus on the elephant in the room, it’s worth looking into aspects that are actually troublesome.
It’s hard to emphasize just how bland everything is in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. There’s absolutely entertainment value, but the stakes seem lower compared to the rest of the franchise which results in a movie that could best be described as “blah.” The film has plenty of action and conflict, but it never compares to the kind of stuff seen in previous entries.
This could be forgiven if it weren’t for one major deal breaker. Even though the stakes are lower, this is undoubtedly the most overstuffed movie in the entire Harry Potter universe. In theory, there should be less plot than usual, but there’s actually a little too much going on and that makes for a less enjoyable experience overall. Harry Potter movies don’t need layers upon layers of story to be enjoyable. Most people are perfectly content with strong worldbuilding, a cool villain, and lots of magic.
This doesn’t mean that the movie is too hard to follow. Rather, it’s just filled to the brim with excess fluff that simply isn’t necessary. This could have been trimmed significantly, or at the very least, it could include scenes that feel more relevant. Basically, there’s a lot here that feels like wasted space.
Wasted space leads to wasted potential. That’s what th. Harry Potter fans are passionate, and they all seem to argue about which movie is the best and which is the worst. Based on critical reaction only, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is the worst in the series. Some may disagree, but there’s a lot of wasted potential here and it’s hard to ignore.
1. A Wrinkle in Time
A Wrinkle in Time brings to mind 2010’s Alice in Wonderland adaptation in that it’s suitably quirky and visually stunning but lacking in almost every other regard. With cardboard cutout characters, a wasted cast, and an overall mishandling of the source material, A Wrinkle in Time falls flat on its face before it even has the chance to make some sort of lasting impression. Given the reputation of both the novel and director Ava DuVernay, this is the kind of disappointment that stings a little more than usual.
With how lengthy every Hollywood blockbuster is lately, it feels weird to complain about a movie being too short, but here we are. An extra half-hour and some tweaks to the overall pacing would have done wonders for this movie. The first hour is dedicated to jamming in as much exposition as possible, but it’s simply not enough. Even after the lengthy introduction reaches its conclusion, the characters remain underdeveloped.
Plenty of characters are introduced, but they’re given practically no time to show off any unique traits. By the time the plot starts moving, any attempt to develop these characters is pushed aside and replaced with a visually bombastic smorgasbord of half-hearted themes about loss and the wrongdoings of others. Unfortunately, these themes mean little when it’s nearly impossible to relate to the characters.
The awkward pacing also means that the cast has little time to actually impress viewers. There are a lot of A-listers here, but the only one who actually seems like he’s trying is Chris Pine. Meanwhile, the trio of ladies (Witherspoon, Winfrey, and Kaling) give uninspired and unenthusiastic performances.
There’s a little bit of energy coming from Witherspoon, but it’s still unimpressive considering the potential. The child actors are fine, but after seeing people like Millie Bobby Brown and Jacob Tremblay wow critics and audiences, it’s not unreasonable to want more. Most of the actors and actresses are talented performers, so it’s easy to blame the script. Still, a more pessimistic viewer may allude to a lack of passion from everyone involved.
The only silver lining is that the movie isn’t completely abysmal. Sure, the problems outlined above are very prevalent, but they don’t represent the movie in its entirety.The themes have a lot of potential to be powerful, the visuals are gorgeous, and there are undeniable moments of emotional resonance.
In other words, there are redeemable qualities, but there just aren’t enough of them. This is especially true considering the fact that the previously mentioned flaws aren’t the only ones. Other things, such as the cartoonish finale and numerous plot holes, overshadow the more positive qualities found within the movie. Overall, the biggest letdown is how much the bad outweighs the good.