By: Kevin Jordan
It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world.
The most common opinion of film critics is that they only give positive reviews of boring artsy movies and hate any movie with even a whiff of popcorn entertainment to it. For the most part, this opinion is correct – most film critics are exactly like that because they studied Film© at USC so they know what they are talking about and you are stupid. Over the last couple of years, I’ve expressed this opinion as well, using my Year in Review in particular to drive the point home. But, something strange has been happening this year – those same film snobs have collectively loved some movies that they would have hated just a couple of years ago. I’m sure I didn’t change their minds because I’m no John Oliver. Could it be that they finally listened to the collective masses and lightened up or is it a surreptitious attempt to silence us by pretending to like shitty movies? Or, have the critics just lost their damned minds after being pummeled with Star Wars: The Force Awakens for more than a year? Yeah, you’re right – fat chance on them having lightened up, so let’s investigate.
(For the purposes of rating, I’m using Rotten Tomatoes scores. For you Metacritic fans, the scores are similar. I’m also not going to link to any of the other critics’ reviews because you know how to work Google.)
It all began in 2013 with Gravity, a movie that wasn’t even the best space movie of the year, let alone a legitimate contender for best movie of the year. It garnered accolades because of the director (Alfonso Cuaron), a very long take opening the film, and despite having almost no plot, but I believe it was also picked as a convenient token movie for tricking science fiction and action movie fans into thinking the critics and academy actually liked it. Then, in 2014, came the atrocious Snowpiercer, released in zero theaters in the United States, but straight to streaming services instead. The critics had a collective orgasm – an unbelievable 95% positive rating – but I’m not sure they actually watched the film. Out of the dozens of people I talked to who watched it, only one person didn’t hate it with every fiber of their movie-watching souls. Like Gravity, Snowpiercer could be explained the same way – fawned over director (Joon-ho Bong) and token science fiction movie. It also features social commentary on class structures and climate change, which was like catnip to these film snobs, even though both were portrayed ham-fistedly. But, even with these two movies, my bullshit meter didn’t start alarming until later in the year.
If there is one movie review where I really didn’t hold back on bashing other critics, it’s of John Wick. Somehow, 85% of critics thought John Wick was a good movie and I’m pretty sure an angel died when that movie opened in theaters. My initial thought was that the critics loved the choreography so much they ignored everything else that happened in the movie, both narratively and technically, but plenty of movies with great choreography are lambasted by critics (hell, Keanu Reeves was in two of them himself – the two Matrix sequels). Then, I remembered Snowpiercer and Gravity and my radar started pinging like Pearl Harbor in 1941.
The first alarms of 2015 occurred in the spring and both were horror movies that debuted at film festivals in 2014. The first was It Follows, a movie about a sexually transmitted ghost that slowly walks after its intended victims, trying to kill them so that it can do the same to the person who had sex with the victim, and the person who had sex with that person, and so on. Seriously, that’s the premise of a movie that isn’t actually a late-night Cinemax porn, except porn has better writing. Not to get too far off track, but what happens to the ghost if it’s so successful that it gets to a point where the next person in the sex-string is dead? And what religious nutjob made a movie equating sex to a death sentence? Anyway, the 96% (that is not a typo) of critics who praised it said ridiculous things like:
“It’s a testament to how scary a movie It Follows is that for days after watching it, you walk around thinking up survival plans – should you hide, stay on the move forever, pass the haunting on to someone else?” – Alison Willmore, Buzzfeed
“A good old-fashioned spooky tale that forces us to confront the inevitability of death and asks what we would do if we could see it coming.” – Mark H. Harris, About.com
“With a great handle of fear and paranoia, also with the awesome dark and blue photography, Mitchell creates an atmosphere so tense that you can feel the despair in his characters.” – Anaid Ramirez, Time Out Mexico
“Mitchell is much more interested in creating an atmosphere of absolute dread that builds and builds, until your nerves are rattled and shattered. And that uneasy sense of foreboding will linger long after you’ve exited the theater.” – Tim Holland, TV Guide’s Movie Guide
I’ll be the first to admit that it’s a rare movie that scares me these days, but what the fuck are these critics talking about? It Follows was excruciatingly boring, not one character is developed beyond their full name, and just about every movie ever made is scarier than this film, including The Peanuts Movie.
But, the critics weren’t done. A couple of weeks later, the second horror film opened, the equally unfrightening Unfriended. While not nearly as high on the rating scale as It Follows, Unfriended still garnered an equally as unbelievable 61% positive rating (it was 79% when I wrote my review). In case you missed this piece of shit (and my review), you get to watch the entire movie through a MacBook (seriously) while an Internet ghost makes a bunch of kids chatting in a Skype session kill themselves (still serious). Patton Oswalt once joked about a movie that got made called Death Bed: The Bed That Eats and I feel like you could replace that with Unfriended, based on the idea that someone actually finished writing them and not ironically. Little did I know, this was just the tip of the iceberg.
(It’s also worth noting that Unfriended managed to pull in $62.9 million at the box office. Flabbergasted is the word you are looking for.)
In between those two ghastly horror movies, Furious 7 opened and everybody on the planet saw it except for me. But, I don’t need to see a movie that is seventh in an action franchise to know that an 81% approval rating is absurd. The death of Paul Walker had a lot to do with the box office receipts, but that doesn’t explain the critics love for an action franchise that can’t possibly be adding anything new outside of stunts. Michael Arbeiter of Bustle.com wrote a fun article pointing out that Furious 7 has a higher rating than twenty-five best picture Oscar winners (http://www.bustle.com/articles/72969-furious-7-has-a-higher-rotten-tomatoes-rating-than-these-25-best-picture-winners), but I will eat my shorts and yours if Furious 7 gets nominated for best picture. Much to my dismay, Furious 7 wasn’t the only two-hour exploding car chase that the critics fawned all over.
At the beginning of May, Mad Max: Fury Road opened, much to the delight of all twelve people who had been waiting thirty years for George Miller to revive the franchise (read: Miller and family). This began the bizarre pro-feminism take on popcorn flicks that followed no logical reasoning that I could identify. Critics praised it in Mad Max (even though the movie is bristling with penis imagery and male domination) and Jurassic World (even though the female lead is about as anti-feminist as possible), yet derided it in Terminator: Genisys (even though Sarah Connor is constantly leading the men, including her very own terminator). Fun fact – did you know that Miller’s last three directorial jobs were Babe: Pig in the City, Happy Feet, and Happy Feet Two? Do you really think Miller was writing about pro-feminism in Fury Road after going from making the Mad Max movies to animated pig and penguin movies? Besides the feminist angle, the critics also had a contest to see which of them could write the most brown-nosing sentence about the practical effects because they hate CGI with the fire of a thousand suns. I agree that the film was entertaining, but I’m not going to overlook the massive plot holes, weak character development, and nearly non-existent plot because Miller strapped a stuntman to a swinging pole attached to a moving car that was driving next to a guy chained to the top of truck, strumming a fire-spewing guitar. A 97% rating for a movie featuring that visual is crazier than that guy on the pole.
The parade of nonsense continued with the less entertaining Jurassic World. Like Furious 7, Jurassic World destroyed box office records and garnered a similar 71% rating. And, like Furious 7, I’m left to wonder what the hell was in the popcorn and sodas that those critics consumed during those movies? Jurassic World doesn’t have the dead actor, practical effects, or even anyone remotely putting forth a good acting performance to explain such a favorable rating. Plus, it wasn’t even original – they just slapped a coat of paint on the original Jurassic Park (the movie and the fictitious park) and resold us the same plot. Sure, they invented a mutant, hybrid, intelligent dinosaur, cast Star Lord (Chris Pratt), and turned raptors into pet soldiers, but with the exception of Pratt, those things made the movie far dumber than any of its predecessors.
So, then, how do we explain the abysmal 25% rating for Terminator: Genisys? Even San Andreas, a movie so stupid that seventeen geology professors’ quit their jobs to be rodeo clowns (unconfirmed), earned a 50% rating (seriously – FIFTY PERCENT). Unlike Mad Max and Jurassic World, Genisys at least tried to have a plot rather than distracting the viewer with two hours of car chase/dinosaur mayhem. Yes, Genisys is a flawed movie, but no more than Mad Max and Jurassic World. You’d think that if the critics had fun during those first two franchise reboots, they’d have fun at the other, but it’s clear that fun has nothing to do with it.
Rounding out the year are three more movies whose ratings do not make sense. On the way-too-low-ratings side is Concussion (60%), a fabulous movie in which Will Smith saves his career, playing the doctor that has essential proved – with science – that playing football causes brain damage. In a normal movie critic year, this film would be rated in the high 80’s or 90’s, but 40% of critics must have played too much football in their lives because brain damage is the only reason I can think of for those 40%’s opinions. Then, we have Crimson Peak, another awful horror movie that was so uninspired that director/writer Guillermo del Toro didn’t even bother to add his signature creatures. In fact, it was so uninspired that del Toro insisted it wasn’t even a horror movie, but actually a gothic romance. Again, in a normal world, the critics would have crapped on this movie (rather than giving it a 69% approval) for that confusion alone (not to mention the lack of tension, drama, horror, and even romance), but we left the normal world back when the critics praised a movie in which Keanu Reeves kills everyone because Theon Greyjoy killed his dog.
But, the most jaw-dropping rating of any movie is the 63% for Night Shylamalan’s latest shitfest – The Visit. Again, the following are actual quotes from actual critics:
“With The Visit, Shyamalan has delivered a delicious horror gem so intense that you may accidentally rip the armrests off your seat from clenching them so hard.” – David Blaustein, ABC News Radio
“It triumphantly reinvents the genre, in a way that allows Shyamalan to combine suspense with witty running commentary on the art of filmmaking itself.” Jake Wilson, Sydney Morning Herald
“The Visit not only marks Shyamalan’s return to form, but it’s also one of the best found footage horror movies of all time.” – Mark H. Harris, About.com
“An unoriginal faux-doc horror picture that actually works like a demonic charm.” – David Edelstein, New York Magazine/Vulture
I’m not complaining that the critics seem to have heard my message of “stop being such film snobs,” but the movies they are choosing are either still for film snob reasons or are just plain bad movies. The Visit exemplifies this statement, it being arguably the worst movie of the year and definitely being as bad as Shyamalan’s other poorly reviewed films. The only thing that makes sense about The Visit’s rating is that the critics are so desperately hoping for Shyamalan to pull another Sixth Sense out of his ass that they missed the part where The Visit simply fell out of his ass (for those of you who haven’t seen it, there are two scenes literally featuring human poop, neither of which is funny or scary).
So, what have we learned? Well, horror movies seemed to have hit a soft spot with the critics this year, even causing them to ignore the awful found-footage plot device/film technique, which ceased being worthwhile after The Blair Witch Project. Action movies also caught a break – as long as they were at least the fourth in a franchise or made by Disney/Marvel and didn’t feature a terminator. I don’t think it’s a conspiracy to trick us because if it was, they would have liked Terminator: Genisys, Hitman: Agent 47 (8%), Fifty Shades of Grey (25%), and Fantastic Four (10%) much more than they did.
Maybe the critics just got drunk before a lot of movies and wrote about them before they sobered up. Maybe they got confused by the orders from their overlords on which movies to pander to. Maybe this is just a weird glitch in the matrix. Maybe there is no conclusion to be drawn and I’m the crazy one. But there is one thing I know for sure – The Force Awakens was well worth the wait. Even the critics agreed on that one. Well, at least 94% did.
My Top 5
Of the sixty movies I saw this year, these are the top five in my book, though this year was much, much tougher than the previous couple of years to pick a top five, as there were plenty of movies I could easily swap in.
- The Martian – Like Interstellar last year, 2015’s best movie is a science fiction flick about an astronaut trying to get home. Matt Damon crushed his role and the movie struck a perfect balance between serious drama, entertainment, and comedy.
- Selma – If I was going to swap out any of my top five it would be Selma for Bridge of Spies. Both movies are excellent historical flicks, but I decided Selma wins because it resonated at a more personal level.
- Ex Machina – A movie that came out of nowhere, Ex Machina is a stroke of genius. It reminded me a lot of Moon – small cast, tight story, science fiction, and killer psychology. Between this and Star Wars, Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson had a great year (as did Alicia Vikander).
- Ant-Man – Like Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man seemed like a huge risk, but turned out to be just as fun. Anyone who is not looking forward to 2016’s Doctor Strange is dead inside.
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Did anyone have more pressure than J.J. Abrams to make a good movie? After knocking this one out of the park (and resurrecting Star Trek), Abrams will be playing with house money for the rest of his life. If I was the head of DC Entertainment and Warner Brothers, I’d do whatever it takes to convince him to fix the broken DC Comics movies (does anything look as shaky as the upcoming Batman v Superman)?
These three movies were extremely good, but I felt I needed a separate category for them. All three of them are intense movies about real life issues that make you more uncomfortable than Donald Trump at a Taco Bell (he thinks they’re all illegal Mexicans).
- Concussion – The movie the NFL doesn’t want you to see because they don’t care if your kids get brain damage. Plus, Will Smith redeems himself with a movie worth watching.
- No Escape – Easily the most tense movie in years and easily more frightening than every horror movie this year.
- 99 Homes – I knew Andrew Garfield could act, he just needed something with better writing and more emotion than the two most recent Spider-Man misfires, which featured neither emotion nor good writing.
You Almost Made It
Not everybody can win and my top five were just more entertaining (or poignant, like Selma) than these five. But every one of these is well worth your time.
- In the Heart of the Sea – While it could have used a little more action, a new generation will be able to experience Moby Dick, but without the dated language. And, who knows – maybe it will inspire them to actually read Moby Dick.
- Bridge of Spies – This year featured quite a few movies that decided to teach us things about history that our history classes dodged. Bridge of Spies was excellent and, like Selma, should be required viewing in our high schools.
- The Night Before – I never thought I would laugh so hard at a movie featuring Seth Rogen, but I was in stitches through much of this film. Bravo, sir.
- The Man from U.N.C.L.E. – This movie was going to be missed because (a) it was an August release, (b) it’s based on a TV series from the 1960’s, and (c) everyone decided to watch Straight Out of Compton That’s too bad because it’s a fun James Bond-ish spy flick, but with more humor, and Henry Cavill making you forget he’s Superman.
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 – It’s been a good run for you, Young Adult films, but with The Hunger Games coming to a close (and a very, very good close), it’s time to pack it in. Don’t Brett Favre this – go out on top and leave those other, lesser series alone (he said, knowing full well he’s looking forward to The 5th Wave).
This is the first of two categories where expectations play a big part in my opinion of the film. I had low or guarded expectations going into them and was pleasantly surprised at the end. This includes an unnecessary remake and another Melissa McCarthy ahem…comedy.
- Run All Night – I wonder how many more action flicks Liam Neeson has left in him? While he will most likely never make something as good as Taken, it’s fun to watch him try (unless we’re talking about Taken sequels).
- Entourage – This movie got crushed by the critics, but I don’t understand why. The previews made it look like a complete waste of time, but it had plenty of good moments and a decent story to match.
- Project Almanac – It’s a pretty decent movie until about halfway through, when it becomes an extremely intriguing movie. If you liked Chronicle, you will love Project Almanac.
- Spy – Melissa McCarthy and Will Ferrell are similar for me in that I find neither of them funny in nearly every movie they make. The only time I can tolerate them is when they are playing roles straight instead of as over-the-top or idiotic characters. Hence why I was pleasantly surprised by this film. Of course, it helped to have much better actors in Jude Law, Rose Byrne, and Jason Statham to shoulder much of the load.
- Poltergeist – Maybe it’s because I love Sam Rockwell, but I thought this remake was very well done, considering what it had to live up to. But, yes, it was still unnecessary.
Movies for Me
Make fun of me all you want for these films; I won’t even argue with you. In fact, I could make very strong cases against all of them, but they are films that I like for no defensible reason. This is how you know I’m not a film snob.
- Tomorrowland – Was it a smidge heavy-handed? Was George Clooney playing George Clooney? Of course. Was it light and fun and the very definition of a popcorn flick? Absolutely.
- Pixels – Admit it, if it starred anyone besides Adam Sandler, you would have liked it a whole lot more?
- Terminator: Genisys – I have no idea why people hate every Terminator movie released since T2, but I suspect it’s because T2 was so good. These same people have also hated every Alien movie since Aliens (also the second in the franchise) for the same reason, even though at least one of those was a solid flick. Anybody out there? Hello? Is this mic on?
- Hitman: Agent 47 – What? I’m not allowed to like bad movies?
- Vacation – Way too many people went into this movie with their minds already made up to hate it. Too bad for them.
- Kingsman: The Secret Service – The last movie I saw that went from interesting to bat-shit crazy was From Dusk ‘Til Dawn. The difference between that and Kingsmen is that when Kingsman loses its mind (about two thirds through), I still wanted to watch the rest of it. But seriously though – bat-shit cra-azy.
All of these movies were decent, though a couple of them are wildly overrated. None of them spoke to me in any way, but maybe they spoke to you.
- American Sniper – This movie was also a letdown for me, but it was far more meh and definitely overrated. Bradley Cooper was awesome, but this movie was a mess in the plot department. Plus, it’s a little hard to praise a movie where the main character is both bragging and lying about some of his deeds.
- Black Sea – It delivers on tension, but is extremely forgettable. Of course, it’s hard to forget something that you don’t watch ($1.2 million total box office).
- Pawn Sacrifice – The one historical movie this year that failed to teach us anything compelling or new. But, is it really surprising that a movie about chess was just meh (and I like chess)?
- Everest – Really good visuals weren’t enough to make up for a lackluster plot, but it was a valiant effort. That the movie featured a very academic retelling of the story of the disastrous 1996 expedition is why this movie did land higher on my list.
- Maggie – If you are expecting a movie featuring zombies and Arnold Schwarzenegger wielding an axe to be loaded with action and mayhem, be prepared to be disappointed. It’s actually a quiet little movie where Arnold and family must cope with his daughter (Abigail Breslin) slowly turning into a zombie. Even knowing that, the first is half is way too slow, but the second half picks it up enough to be intriguing.
- Mortdecai – I know what you are thinking – seriously!!?? Yes, seriously. Mortdecai isn’t nearly as bad as the snooty main stream critics said it was. Make no mistake, it’s not very good, but it wasn’t intended to be. If you enjoy Johnny Depp or hacky movies, it’s worth a redbox rental.
We’re Really Only in it for the Money
Better known as ‘popcorn flicks,’ these are the movies that are uninspired, big-budget, CGI-heavy blockbusters. All of them were very short on story, incredibly redundant, and included some elements that bordered on absurd, even for them. Oh yeah, and all of them are very obviously there for the sole purpose of generating large amounts of cash with no risk attached.
- Mad Max: Fury Road – I’ve already beat up on this movie enough, but it’s worth repeating that that this is, hands down, the most overrated movie of the year. Do me a favor and just enjoy it for the spectacle and quit trying to give it credit for things that simply weren’t there.
- Jurassic World – After watching this movie, I never imagined it would make half the box office it did, but it’s further proof that people don’t actually want Hollywood to create new stuff, they just want to complain about it.
- San Andreas – Even more shocking than Jurassic World’s box office take (third highest all time) was that of Furious 7 (fifth highest all time). Even more shocking is that San Andreas pulled in nearly half a billion. We should all be shocked that Dwayne Johnson can be so bad at acting yet still draw those kinds of numbers, especially in obvious garbage like San Andreas. Also, I just used the word shocked three times while talking about an earthquake movie and you didn’t even bat an eye.
- The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials – I will never understand why studios purchase book rights, then proceed to make movies that have almost nothing in common with said books. On that note, I can’t wait until the fake adaption of the final book in the trilogy (you’re right – I really can).
- Insurgent – If you thought Divergent was boring, Insurgent was more of the same until the last few minutes, even though there was much more action. I’d like to tell you the books are much better with regards to plot (and not being boring), but then I would just be lying.
We Decided We Weren’t Just in it for the Money
These movies are no less money grabs than the films you just read about, but they actually try to provide some decent entertainment for your money. And, if Mad Max: Fury Road had even a semblance of a coherent plot, I would have put it here.
- Avengers: Age of Ultron – I’m sure I’m not the only who thinks James Spader is under-utilized. It’s pretty impressive that Robert Downey Jr. had the second smarmiest character in a movie. Keep ‘em coming Marvel.
- Spectre – Dear Daniel Craig – I know you said you are done with James Bond, but my wife sees so few movies these days and she really, really likes you as James Bond. For both our sakes, please, one more.
- Goosebumps – The kid in me put this movie here, rather than the previous category. Take it up with him if you disagree.
- Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation – Like Liam Neeson, only younger, Tom Cruise continues to be a very reliable and believable action star. Plus, the MI franchise is getting better with age, now on it’s fifth, and arguably, best film.
The second category where expectations are key. This time around, I had high expectations (foolishly) and walked out of the theater (or away from my DVD player) grumbling. It’s their own damn fault though, mostly by just being plain lazy on some fronts, especially story.
- Blackhat – This movie disappointed me in being much better with the hacking aspect than I expected, then further disappointed me by failing to include much action.
- Chappie – I really hope Neill Blomkamp isn’t a one-hit wonder, but he sure seems to be on the same path as M. Night Shyamalan – a phenomenal debut followed by two decent, but definitely lesser films. Here’s hoping Blomkamp’s next film isn’t comparable to The Village.
- Self/less – It’s a good thing Ryan Reynolds is getting a second chance as Deadpool because he desperately needs it after another disappointing movie.
- The Gallows – It’s time to retire the found footage style of movie making. Even when it’s done in a believable way (which is rare), it never convinces the viewer of any kind of authenticity. It’s just a cheap gimmick for equally cheap movies. In related news, The Gallows was as worthless as a film as its gimmicky film style.
- Sicario – Definitely overrated, but not nearly as absurdly as the other movies I discussed above. I had very high hopes due to Emily Blunt’s involvement, but the film made her character only slightly more important than a prop. Booooo!!
A Waste of Time
At least ‘The Letdowns’ contained some entertainment quality. These films were all very boring, not the least bit entertaining, and lacked any plot beyond the initial premise. They are the very definition of “two hours of your life you will never get back.”
- Love the Coopers – No you won’t and no I didn’t.
- The Lazarus Effect – A poor man’s Flatliners, but with the blandest of plots possible.
- Crimson Peak – If there’s one thing we expect from Guillermo del Toro it’s creepy creatures or giant fighting robots. This movie had neither while managing to completely waste Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain. But there was a crimson peak at least.
- The Gift – Talk about a complete waste of time. Billed as a psychological thriller, The Gift delivers exactly no thrills. Joel Edgerton writes, directs, and stars in this dull revenge story that seems to have been made solely as an anti-bullying ad in which it’s okay to destroy someone’s family and cause a child to grow up without a father.
- Focus – What is wrong with Will Smith? He’s on a run of meh to cover-your-eyes awful movies. This one was just below meh. The problem wasn’t Smith (he was good), but the movie never lets the audience in on the secret. So, when stuff happens, you just have to accept it – kind of like Smith’s declining career. (Note: I wrote this well before I screened Concussion, but Smith still needs another win in my book.)
Not the Worst, But You Sure Tried Hard
These movies weren’t quite as bad as my bottom five, but that’s only because my bottom five were complete and utter shit.
- Fifty Shades of Grey – The least porniest porn ever made, but Mystery Science Theater 3000-ing it was fun.
- Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse – Okay, so I actually enjoyed this movie, but it was so bad that I would never watch it again and that’s why it’s here instead of Movies for Me.
- The Gunman – Sean Penn deserves nearly all of the blame for this wretched excuse for an action flick, both starring in and writing it (at least part of it). As an action star, I’d give him another chance. As a writer, I’d snap all of his pencils.
- Jupiter Ascending – If the Wachowskis hadn’t made such a beautiful movie in Cloud Atlas, I wouldn’t have been so amazed at how terrible Jupiter Ascending Now the only question is if any studio will ever pony up more than validated parking when the Wachowskis pitch their next screenplay.
- Seventh Son – I have no idea why Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore felt the need to do this movie, but it couldn’t have been worth it. If you enjoy fantasy and have no standards, you probably still won’t like it. Definitely not worth your time or money.
Pooping on the Silver Screen
And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for – the five worst movies of the year. As an added bonus, the movie that took home my worst overall film of 2015 award did so by emulating the film that inspired the title of this category (Bridesmaids) – by featuring a scene with poop (or two, in this case).
- The Boy Next Door – Jennifer Lopez managed to deliver the worst sex scene in a film in the same year that Fifty Shades of Grey came out. Her parents must be so proud.
- Unfriended – I didn’t think there existed a worse filming technique than found-footage, but then I watched Unfriended. Watching an entire movie through Skype and chat windows on a teenager’s laptop is what Dante did immediately before writing Inferno.
- Fantastic Four – Easily the biggest surprise of the year. It’s not so surprising that the movie wasn’t good, but that it was orders of magnitude worse than the decidedly not good 2005’s The Fantastic Four. It was literally the opposite of fantastic.
- The Visit – Without a doubt, the worst movie of the year. Normally, I won’t argue with people about liking bad movies, but this movie has no redeeming quality for it to even qualify as entertaining. There are people that will defend it as intentionally bad and really a comedy, but those people also defend the Star Wars prequels and Donald Trump. We would all be better off if none of these things existed.
- It Follows – What a waste of time. Easily the most critically overrated movie since Snowpiercer and nearly as shitty. When the premise of an R-rated movie is a sexual transmitted ghost, you’d think there would be at least one sex scene with naked people (there wasn’t). Also, what’s scary about a ghost that walks very slowly toward its victim? You know that ghost gets made fun of at meetings by every other horror movie ghost/murderer.
Pooping on the Silver Screen: The Sequel
This is the bonus category for movies that were made as sheer money grabs, but were also terrible movies in general. While not nearly as awful as my worst five list, they are the shitty sequels that keep getting made because you won’t stop watching them. Seriously, stop it, because if you don’t, they never will.
- The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death – I had no idea that The Woman in Black pulled in $128.5 million back in 2012, but at least that explains why a sequel was made. However, without Daniel Radcliffe to buoy the box office, Angel of Death came and went without anyone saying “I’m glad they made a lousy sequel to that lousy movie.”
- Taken 3 – Are we done with this yet? This third go-round in the franchise didn’t even bother to actually ‘take’ someone. In fact, the only thing actually taken was the plot of The Bourne Supremacy. Well, that and your time and money.
With a record breaking year at the box office, 2015 is officially over and is far more memorable than 2014. As always, this year I’m hoping that the writers will try a little harder and the main-stream critics will be a little less snobby (and I will give them credit – they did seem to enjoy more fluffy popcorn flicks than usual this year). I’m hoping Batman v Superman is better than its previews indicate. Same goes for Star Trek Beyond. I’m hoping Independence Day: Resurgence is a figment of my imagination. But, mostly, I’m hoping to have as much fun in 2016 as I did in 2015. Now, it’s time to see The Force Awakens again.