5. Pirates of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)
Rotten Tomatoes Score : 32%
US Box Office: $241m
Disney’s Pirates franchise is one too lucrative to die. Despite 2003’s first film in the series, Curse of the Black Pearl being the only one a real runaway critical success, Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow has still managed to entertain audiences for well over a decade now. The fourth film of from the swashbuckling series, On Stranger Tides is no exception.
This time around Captain Jack finds himself on board the ‘Queen Anne’s Revenge’, a ship belonging to the legendary Blackbeard (Ian McShane). As he meets the mysterious Angelica (Penelope Cruz), Jack has to figure out whether he can truly trust either of these two enigmatic characters as they head to find the fabled Fountain of Youth.
In terms of reviews, Stranger Tides saw the Pirates franchise hit a new low. Critics suggested that the series had become too comfortable and let the action scenes compensate for a very poor script. Not even Penelope Cruz could breathe new life into the series that critics were saying should be buried at sea. Disney’s strong marketing push and Jack Sparrow’s charm made this family friendly flick impossible for box-officer goers to resist, and the pirates would fight to see another day.
4. The Hangover Part II (2011)
Rotten Tomatoes Score : 33%
US Box Office: $254m
Todd Phillips’s The Hangover was probably 2009’s biggest sleeper hit. An R-rated comedy that made a splash with critics and found itself #6 on the US box office earnings for that year. An instant comedy classic that should’ve remained untouched, but ultimately proved to be too big of a cash cow for the studio to leave alone. As a result, a couple of hammy sequels followed to taint the far superior original.
The first of the sequels, The Hangover Part II catches up with our misfortunate wolfpack from the previous film. This time, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifinakos find themselves in Bangkok for Stu’s (Helms) wedding. Despite their best efforts not to suffer yet another wild, shameful night, predictably, that’s exactly what happens.
The Hangover II took the unfortunate path of so many comedy sequels, opting for a rehash of formula with a ‘more is more’ approach. Although not completed void of laughs, critics were exhausted by a near carbon copy of the film. Unfortunately raunchy doesn’t equal funny. Even if they were setting themselves up for disappointment, fans still found themselves queing up to find out for themselves if the trio’s spark had well and truly diminished.
3. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Rotten Tomatoes Score : 27%
US Box Office: $330m
Batman V Superman is the second film in the DC Extended Universe and their first real attempt at competing with the MCU for a superhero crossover flick. With Batfleck on board for a character reboot and the promise of a dark and adult comic book movie, the film world was naturally intrigued by this clash of the titans.
Picking up after 2013’s Man of Steel, Superman (Henry Cavill) has left Metropolis in a bad state after his battle with Zod. Among the city’s residents feeling angry and threatened by Superman, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) sets out to take down Superman, much to the pleasure of Superman’s greatest nemesis, Lex Luther (Jesse Eisenberg).
With so much hype surrounding the first ever big screen battle of these two superhero Gods, critics found much to be disappointed by. The film is overly talky, without having much to say at all. It’s dark, yes. Visually gorgeous, sure. Ultimately, that couldn’t save the film from a critical perspective, as the most common terms thrown around in reviews were “boring” and “joyless”.
Nevertheless, with names like Batman and Superman sharing the same movie title, this one was never going to be a box office bomb. Its success has allowed the DCEU to keep on trying.
2. Suicide Squad (2016)
Rotten Tomatoes Score : 27%
US Box Office: $325m
If Batman v Superman was DCEU’s Avengers, then Suicide Squad is the studio’s counterpart to the much sillier ensemble romp, Guardians of the Galaxy. Almost as a rule, DC had steered well clear of the fun tone that Marvel films were known for. For better or worse, it made it easier to distinguish between the universes. A comic like Suicide Squad screams for a different approach than the usual seriousness of DC’s recent adaptations, so David Ayer decided to take the universe, for the first time, down the ‘Popcorn movie’ path.
US Intelligence Officer Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) assembles an unlikely team of violent criminals to undertake black ops missions. The Joker (Jared Leto), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and Deadshot (Will Smith) head this group of villain misfits who learn that they’re on a suicide mission, and that’s when things get interesting.
Although Ayer and co can be commended for changing things up in the DCEU, Suicide Squad still fell short with critics. A mess of a flick, with unfunny one-liners and criminally underdeveloped characters. Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn – probably the most popular Halloween costume of 2016 – was enough to make this a hit with audiences, but not enough to save this from another critical miss for the DCEU.
1. Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon (2011)
Rotten Tomatoes Score : 35%
US Box Office: $352m
Transformers is living proof that a film franchise need not be a critical hit to be a commercial one. 2018’s prequel, Bumblebee aside the series doesn’t boast a single fresh film among the five. Critics have always been unimpressed by Michael Bay’s action-packed flicks, but it’s been nothing but a consistent juggernaut at the box office.
The third Transformers film, Dark Side of Moon reunites us with Sam (Shia LaBeouf) and introduces his new girlfriend (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) as they find themselves amidst another climatic battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons. Our favourite robot Optimus Prime believes that the key to victory lies in resurrecting ancient Transformer Sentinel Prime (voiced by Leonard Nimoy).
Reviews generally commented that Dark Side of the Moon was a slight improvement on the almost universally panned Revenge of the Fallen. However, at 157 minutes it was all just a little too much for critics. Loud, dumb and soulless with nothing new to offer. If that’s the kind of thing that frustrates critics, it has the opposite effect on movie audiences. Americans in particular can’t seem to get enough of Michael Bay’s brand of blockbuster, as Dark Side of The Moon made even bigger box office taking than the original Transformers.