Following on from our look back at the worst films of 2014, Terry Lewis has now named his 10 Most Disappointing films of 2015 (once more adhering to UK theatrical release dates from January 1st 2014). So, have a look below, and let us know if you agree ordisagree (perhaps you liked some of the films listed below, or simply think there were worse films released this year)
10. Inherent Vice
It seems churlish to kick off a bottom 10 movies list with something that boasts impressive award contender performances, but man did Inherent Vice rub me up the wrong way. Seeing Joaquin Phoenix run about as a stoner PI with organised chaos in the background under the masterful directorial eye of Paul Thomas Anderson sounds Film Of The Year material in this book adaptation right? Wrong. A poor translation from book to film makes the red herring & pointless aspects of the plot more noticeable, in a story that does not need any more convolution. It combines to create a real lack of coherence that makes a two and half hour running time a challenge to get through. There is plenty to soak up in this with Anderson’s touch adding depth but good luck if you want a straightforward cinema experience.
9. The Last Witch Hunter
Similarly, hardly a terrible film but undoubtedly below average overall. Vin Diesel kicking off his usual oozing, smouldering charisma as an action movie star and slipping into a fantasy setting with swords & sorcery abound should have been at least watchable but the end result was a choke to his charms. The Last Witch Hunter aimed high with the idea of kicking off a franchise but the plodding nature of a boring, by the numbers plot set in a grim, unwelcoming & bland universe means there won’t be another. Not even the offer of seeing Rose Leslie from Game Of Thrones as a leading lady sidekick was enough in a rather subdued group performance with Michael Caine playing dead for most of the film and Elijah Wood kicked to the side when he could have added so much more to proceedings. A decent and unexpected twist at the end was not enough to save this misfire of a fantasy flick – doesn’t deserve to be burnt at the stake but a dunk or two into the nearest river wouldn’t go amiss.
On paper, I loved the sound of this unique horror flick, but in execution, it was quite a drudge to sit through even with a below 90 minute runtime. Filmed entirely through a teenager’s activities on a Macbook as she and her friends encounter a spooky internet poltergeist on the anniversary of their friend’s death, it felt like backseat web browsing at it’s worst – like if you were watching a friend show off his lurid activities on Snapchat or this amazing website he’s found that you have no interest in reading through yourself. The achievement of getting a horror film in this unique technological setting functioning should be diminished and the extremes of online bullying is an excellent & worthwhile topic to cover in a movie, but for all the sick kills you want to see these bratty modern teens go through, it comes with the same trappings as it’s setting with small parts of the screen dedicated to seeing people despatched as well as the aesthetic of internet lag.
7. Terminator: Genisys
If I could make some sort of case in the defence of the fifth Terminator movie, that opening 20-30 minutes was an excellent near shot-for-shot remake/rehash of the first two. Thor: The Dark World & Game Of Thrones director Alan Taylor managed to craft a slick action chase romp with the cute subversion that Sarah Connor has been prepared for the arrival of future soldier Kyle Reese all this time, creating a nice sideways step into the unknown for a franchise that is prone to repeating itself.
From there though, Genisys dies on it’s own pedestal by throwing in complicated technobabble for no real reason other than to confuse it’s hardcore fanbase into quitting the franchise. A retread of places we’ve already explored in the killer future robot franchise, the brain overheating aspects of the plot is anger inducing and lacks any thematic depth and intelligence. Character motivations are haphazardly handled (John Connor, the leader of the Resistance against the future Terminators, decides to become one himself in an unbelievable twist). Jai Courtney was in another blockbuster film, although I admittedly thought this was his strongest performance to date in western cinema. Similarly, Emilia Clarke was a disappointment as the iconic Sarah and Jason Clarke came across as a useless villain. Arnold Schwarzenegger came out of this looking the best which may not be for the best when the idea is to promote the younger members of the cast.
Scary thing is, despite being a slight bomb in the US, Genisys made a solid profit worldwide meaning we could see another down the road. For the sake of keeping those original two Terminators pure and wholesome still, no more.
6. The Gunman
An action thriller directed by Pierre Morel (the guy who directed the only good Taken movie) with an all-star cast boasting Idris Elba, Ray Winstone, Javier Bardem and Mark Rylance? Consider me sold! Oh. Here comes Sean Penn… in a Dad Fiction genre outing… A disappointment in terms of the cast involved being relegated to background players and the action on offer, The Gunman goes no where interesting fast and only serves as a congratulatory piece of forgettable trash for Penn getting himself into admittedly great shape with too many topless & body shots to show off. Treading on the lines of being superhuman with such physique when the main audience of the over 50’s you would have thought rather not see it, Penn plows through stock set pieces in a hunted becomes hunter plot so uninspired it makes you reach for the near shooter yourself.
5. Fantastic Four
Back at the time of writing my review for this grim dark reboot of Marvel Comics’ beloved science driven superhero family, I was not really aware of director Josh Trank’s disavowing of his film citing producer intervention and not having final edit to what we would see. Whilst I do slam from Trank’s point of view what he says happened, I still can’t imagine what other elements that were left out that would have improved it. Seeing bright and colourful characters like The Thing & The Human Torch go through a body horror wringer doesn’t exactly scream mainstream must see for cinemagoers after all, especially on the back of a notion of not seeing a true & proper adaptation of Marvel’s First Family.
A bleaker than bleak visual style coupled with some haphazardly handled character actions makes for a draining experience, whilst a good cast – including a fresh off Whiplash Miles Teller & hot property (pardon the pun) Michael B. Jordan – is drowned out. Whilst seeing a torturous take on a physically changing superhero in film is not a bad idea at all, to do it with an established happy-go-lucky crop of characters that have yet to be adapted well to the big screen is a misstep. As such, it’s proved to be a hefty one creatively & monetarily for Fox with the debate on whether they can pull off a Fantastic Four movie rearing it’s head again. A film lacking in any joy, wonder or humour from it’s source material such as this creates a sense of dread in anyone who watches it… and who really wants that in their lives?
4. Taken 3
Whilst not the quickest turnaround time for a franchise to die on it’s arse, the third chapter of the Taken series did it’s best to plunge an acceptable original action flick into a state of redundancy within 7 years. Director Olivier Megaton returned to somehow manage a worse offering than Taken 2, as this time Liam Neeson’s frankly bored & half arsed Bryan Mills is the one being chased after being framed for the murder of his wife. Forest Whitaker outacts the rest of the cast by twiddling with some rubber bands the whole film as a PG-13 tirade of incoherent action, nothing storylines and atrocious cinematography & editing plunge this former star vehicle for Neeson into anonymity. Instantly forgettable, the only thing Taken in his diabolical third misadventure is the audience’s money.
3. Ted 2
Whilst there are some comedies on this list than boast less decent jokes & laughs, the pens of Seth McFarlane and two of his “crack” Family Guy writers can only muster two in this inept follow up to overhyped real life stoner teddy bear come to life Ted. MacFarlane returns to voice the titular teddy as the focus of the odd couple relationship with Mark Wahlberg’s John shifts from John’s attempts to settle down & grow up with a bad habit inducing friend at his side to Ted himself going on a roadtrip to find out if he legally exists or some bollocks. The same old sophomoric dick and fart jokes still occur like you’ve seen on FG & American Dad whilst Ted 2’s highpoints are lifted directly from it’s small screen counterparts. The attempts to go extremely lowbrow are hardly what were needed to stitch some badly needed credibility to this film’s torn appearance as the real star of John is shunted to the background whilst the tired old ripped bear is dusted off and plumped as the star attraction. Despite his hateful speech being disguised by his cuteness worked for the first time on the merry go round, Ted 2 gets found out pretty early on and the attempts to work in a meta debate instead of anything remotely funny does not end up with hashtag my amazing summer.
2. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2
Whilst the first outing of a maverick mall cop with higher aspirations come good was surprisingly fine, Kevin James playing the same record of overweight & Segway riding Paul Blart six years later is not the kind of comedy to represent 2015. Slipping into stablemate Adam Sandler’s racist and sexist territory of humour might not be at James’ level just yet but he’s fast on his way as the inclusion would have at least added something to a film absolutely filled with nothing. No worthwhile slapstick physical humour. No legit funny one liners. No purpose or message conveyed from cast and the writers. With Las Vegas a reasonably distinctive location in film still, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 dilutes it’s uniqueness by doing precisely sod all with it. The repeated one joke of ‘oh look at the fat man and his bumbling about’ never raises a sole laugh as James constantly falls over or runs into objects. Whilst inoffensive, the overbearing safety first attitude of Blart bleeds into all aspects of script, cinematography, editing, sound production and direction to create an insipid product.
Urgh. This. Please don’t me write about this again. (Matt puts gun to head) Ah death would be a sweet release from this abomination. (Matt pulls out every other Adam Sandler movie since 2005) Oh God! Oh Jesus Christ!
Rarely does hyperbole really suit describing a film like Pixels – a movie so inept, so lazy, so disgustingly mistreating that really deserves to be considered one of the worst cinematic offerings of all time. Sandler takes a joyride over a small fanbase’s memories of coin-op video games as he pulls his usual “slacker destined for greatness” bollocks he’s been doing for years. With female representation rolling back 20 years, Sandler teams up again with his protégé Kevin James to drag down a surprisingly good cast into unfunny comedic roles as the whole world is invaded by aliens impersonating 1970’s games characters. Hell, Peter Dinklage plays an utterly scummy cheating gaming god who wants to have threesomes with a Williams sister and some American chef lady on his own private island in a completely outlandish role and it lands with the grace and charm of cow faeces.
The usual racism turns up in Sander’s writing with an uber racist “rah rah rah roh me so sori” accent attached to some random Japanese-Western actor to acting as the creator of Pac-Man. Director Chris Columbus may have a previous filmography including Harry Potter & Home Alone to survive this trainwreck but this is a dismal effort with subplots coming & going along with weak direction and a lack of message conveyed. Perhaps most criminal, Pixels hardly feels like a celebration of video games no matter the era. The medium take a gigantic dump from Sandler and co. through their cooler than thou actions. Beloved childhood gaming icons get dragged through the bush too. It’s utterly maddening to watch a film which features Pac-Man so prominently – and he’s a villain? It’s almost like you can hear the filmmakers not having a clue about the source material at all.
My reoccurring problem with Pixels is, as bad as it’s been made, as much as the cast don’t give a collective toss, as shocking as they treat the source material videogame characters and their fans, I still can’t hate it. I got exactly what I thought I was going to get with Sandler joyriding over every aspect. I walked away feeling numb from how atrociously nothing the experience was. A complete waste of one hour 45 minutes that serves only to remind how little we have accomplished as a human collective in recent times.
Agree with our list? Think we made a glaring omission or included something which has no place being on any ‘Worst Of’ list? Or simply want to talk about the films we have mentioned? You can get involved and let us know in the comments section below.