It’s been a pretty good year for cinema. Lots of good blockbusters to go around that can play well for the kiddies as well as the grown-ups. Indie cinema is still running strong, with horror continuing its strong as hell run that’s been going for a few years now that really went nuts in 2017.
But let’s be real. No matter how strong a year can be, there’s always gonna be stinkers. It’s almost like a balancing of the cosmic scales. For as good as things can be, they can be just as equally bad. We’ve already had what may be a legendarily bad film that will last for ages in masochistic drinking circles.
We’re about halfway through the year of our lord 2018. Let’s take stock on some of the stuff that people most regret having seen thus far. God helps us if worse stuff comes out in the year. But it’ll probably happen. God damn it, it’s gonna happen.
This movie should have been a slam dunk. Hell, it was right up until the very end. Jason Reitman reteaming with Diablo Cody to right the ship after two laughably disastrous outings with Charlize Theron back at the center of things seemed perfect. Well, it turned out too good to be true, as the movie did not live up to the lofty expectations from their past team-ups.
“Young Adult” in particular was such a good film, showing off the talents of all three of these creatives. Cody has been great outside of her work with Reitman, as has Theron, but Reitman seems particular attuned to Cody’s work.
For about 95 percent of the run time, the movie works. Showing a pretty realistic look at what it means to be a middle-class mother and the ravages it can do to the body and mind, it almost plays like the real life version of “Mary Poppins” as the titular nanny helps breathe life back into Theron’s life. But then there’s a twist at the end that is so ridiculous and so cheaply built into the story that you can’t help but feel cheated as it goes for a big metaphor that it doesn’t earn.
The movie cheats the whole time, badly too, to make this work. It’s such an unsatisfying way to end this movie as it cheats us, but it also cheats the characters. This is the only entry on here that came close to working. It’s got great work in it. Theron is amazing, as is Mackenzie Davis. But movies are an elaborate magic trick and if the prestige doesn’t pan out, the whole thing comes crumbling down in an embarrassing act of pretension.
9. Death Wish
This can be sad for a lot of genre flicks, but Joe Carnahan would have killed this movie. It’s not just some wish fulfillment thing here, but Carnahan was so close to making this movie. He’s still credited as a screenwriter on the thing. So some of what he wanted to make are in here. But Eli Roth is such a fundamentally different filmmaker than Carnahan that there is no clear vision, two tones clashing up against each other to make a movie that just doesn’t work.
Carnahan would have made the gritty, badass version of the story that really would have delved into the broken psychology of the kind of man who kills to make himself feel better about failing his family. But Roth made a movie that feels like it’s gonna do that, but then shifts into bland revenge movie mode that the sequel is so far off the mark of that original Bronson classic.
Bruce Willis at one point could have been a good Paul Kersey, but Roth is another filmmaker unable to rouse him from his paycheck-addled narcolepsy. There’s moments in here that are fun, mainly Roth satiating his Fangoria-inspired bloodlust. It’s fine enough as a B-movie revenge flick late at night on TNT or something. But man, this could have been something special.
8. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Here’s some sad, broken but entirely accurate math. This is the third best Jurassic movie, and it is still abject dog crap. Each sequel in this horrible franchise is about how bad an idea it is to keep making these movies. Which is fine if you’re gonna do one sequel. But five movies in, it’s beyond old news.
It’s insulting to our intelligence. They aren’t treading new ground at all, just content at being souped-up retreads of the Spielberg entries as written by a particularly brain-dead incel. This movie is just a bigger and dumber redo of what “The Lost World” went for.
Being reliant on what was set up in the worse entry that came before it, it had no chance of coming close to what Spielberg achieved. No connections to any characters or anything at all. It’s just empty noise with worse CGI than the original movie. There’s no personality to any of it.
It falls prey to some of the worst cliches of movies like this, with characters set up as being supremely smart people at the top of their respective fields, but who continually make the dumbest goddamn choices this side of a Ridley Scott-helmed Alien prequel. Hell, these movies make those Alien prequels look like perfectly calibrated scripts.
It’s been a long time since I saw a blockbuster that was laughed at with such derision as this one elicited from the audience. It honestly may only be better than the first one in the new world era of these movies, because Bayona can at least put together some striking images and work a set piece. But holy christ is this script just toxic. Chris Pratt is not a character. Every line of dialogue he has is just a bad one-liner. One point when he and Bryce Dallas Howard find a little girl, he comes off like the biggest goddamn creep in the world. Some severe stranger danger stuff.
Everything here is bad. Just, holy christ. They made dinosaurs boring. Only Spielberg can make this stuff work and even then, “The Lost World” barely made it to the level of “fine.” The movie ends with Jeff Goldblum mumbling his way to a paycheck and saying the lines,“Welcome to Jurassic World,” and you can just hear that Titanic idiot Trevorrow just chuckling to himself and saying, “Golly boy, you did it.”
7. A Wrinkle In Time
We all wanted this to be good. Ava DuVernay has become a great voice in Hollywood as a real activist in the fight for diversity. She’s made good movies and has made a name for herself. Tackling a classic sci-fi novel that was deemed unfilmable seemed like it should be a challenge that she was up for.
To no one’s surprise except the soft-skulled racists of the world, she started to immediately put her stamp on it by changing the race of our main character and tackling the idea of mixed race life in the midst of this grand sci-fi journey. But the trailers came out and didn’t look all that great.
It had the usual Disney sci-fi sheen that lined the halls of such classic flops like “John Carter” and “Tomorrowland.” It sadly felt too limp. Too toothless. But hey, maybe it was too weird for marketing. It happens.
Sadly, it wasn’t. This movie was way out of her comfort zone and she was not able to wrangle it into something watchable. As mentioned, the visuals are the kind of sanitized, Apple-esque visual aesthetics that lend no personality to the thing. It’s almost too bright, where it’s kind of hard to look at.
The story is pretty much nonexistent, as any of the wild ideas present in the book aren’t present in the movie as it plays as a bare bones hero’s journey story where things just happen because they need to. There’s a bad guy, but there’s no real delving into the ins and outs of it. Just a bland idea of “oh, there’s a bad thing and its bad and it likes to be bad.” That’s about it.
It kidnaps Chris Pine for some reason, which just so happens to lead the only entity in the entire world to its doorstep that can stop it which just so happens to be a little girl that has no idea what she’s gotten herself into until the time when she has to, which is the end.
There’s an annoying little brother character that is also a genius level type that comes off like a rejected auditioner for “Young Sheldon.” They also keep screaming his whole name for some reason, so almost half of the dialogue is just people screaming Charles Wallace.
The movie is very sincere and earnest, but it doesn’t realize that its earnestness can lend itself to some seriously goofy imagery, like the extended sequence where giant-ass Oprah is just in the background of scenes. Everyone outside of our main little girl and Pine is severely miscast, as they cannot deliver any line of dialogue believably at all. They clearly don’t understand any of the sci-fi concepts they are forced to spout out.
It’s almost too mean to say, but it kinda feels like Mark Wahlberg in a Transformers movie trying to seem smart. On a whole, the movie feels too constrained by its feature length run time to really go all out in the weirdness, so it feels half baked. It tries, but it buckles under the weight of its own ambitions. These kind of epic sci-fi movies may not be for DuVernay. This was just an absolute chore to sit through, good intentions or not.
6. Fifty Shades Freed
We all know these movies are bad. Spectacularly so. They were born from the seedy underpants of a Twilight fanfic creep, forging a truly poisonous ode to horrible men and the women they are apparently owed because of how hot and damaged they are. This is thankfully the last one.
It was filmed like a cheap softcore porn for Cinemax with two leads that clearly don’t like each other. Jamie Dornan is awful here, completely unable to hide his Scottish brogue while also being a black hole of charisma.
It’s insane for anyone to fall for him after being around him as he opens that dullard’s gob of his. Dakota Johnson fares better because she has a natural charisma to her, so she can withstand the truly atrocious writing she is given. So we never really feel too embarrassed for her. It’s wild that this is so low on the list this year.