With our annual top 10 list coming soon, we couldn’t resist putting together our first “Worst of” list. For as much as we love to gush about our favorite movies here at Filmic, getting to vent the rage that a truly awful film inspires is sometimes just as satisfying. And so here we present 11 terrible movies from 2016, some no-brainers, some surprises, each hand-picked by a member of our staff.
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
(dir. Michael Bay)
I want to start off by saying fuck Michael Bay. Only he could take a recent divisive tragedy that caused huge strife in both American and international affairs and turn it into meaningless action fodder. The thing is, though, he didn’t even make good action fodder, which is usually his niche. To no one’s surprise, 13 Hours is a heavy-handed and incoherent piece of filmmaking, but worst of all, it’s just boring. After a semi-respectable first act, there’s nearly 90 minutes of continuous gunfighting. Such a structure would be tough for even the most skilled filmmakers to pull off, but in Bay’s hands, the action becomes incredibly tedious. The film is nearly two and a half hours, and it’s overstuffed with bad guys and machine guns that would make Roland Emmerich cringe. What’s worse is that none of it matters, because the characters are so interchangeable and ill-constructed that I was never bothered to care. It really boggles my mind that this film did as relatively well as it did critically, as there’s almost nothing here that might make 13 Hours stand out from the rest of Bay’s filmography.
— Justin Madore
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
(dir. Zack Snyder)
To call Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice a mess is an understatement. A more accurate description is calling it a maelstrom of ill-conceived ideas and poor execution. Both halves of the movie are essentially completely different from each other. The first half is a poorly-written political thriller that aims to be realistic and tries to answer the question: “How would the world react if Superman came to Earth?” The other half is just filled with fight scenes between the two titular characters and, later on, with Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman pitted against Doomsday. Each component of both halves doesn’t work at all. The script is muddled and leaves the audience confused with its convoluted storyline. The whole movie feels as if it is just setting up characters and storylines for the larger DC Cinematic Universe, foregoing any cohesive narrative structure for lackluster fan service. The only small fragments of enjoyment I got from this pile of trash came from Ben Affleck as Batman. This is mainly due to the fact that the rest of the acting is so terrible that Affleck’s average performance is a sight for sore eyes. Only see this movie if you’re morbidly curious to see two iconic characters together on the big screen for the first time. Otherwise, stay as far away from this movie as physically possible.
— David Friedfertig
Café Society (dir. Woody Allen)
Jesse Eisenberg plays a parody of Woody Allen in this goofy idealization of 1930s Hollywood. He follows all the beats of any of Allen’s protagonists (or at least the ones of recent films): he has dreams of becoming an acclaimed writer, moves to Hollywood only to end up disliking it, and falls in love with a young woman (played by who else but Kristen Stewart), only to discover that she is having an affair with a much older Jewish man (Shocking, right?). It was hard enough watching Steve Carell play this older man (obviously an alternate version of Allen himself), but even harder considering Eisenberg also plays a younger version of the filmmaker. From there, the plot is mainly Allen’s dull will-they-or-won’t-they routine, during which the audience can only hope that the filmmaker will have enough charisma to subvert his creepy, mundane trope in any possible way. But Allen is anything but merciful. In the end, Eisenberg, without any effort or tension, becomes the owner of a jazz club and marries Blake Lively’s character (don’t ask me why or how), while Carell and Stewart run off together. This film only left me wondering about how bad Woody Allen’s memory has become, as he seems to make the same boring film every year. Honestly, he should’ve quit while he was ahead. In the future, please stop me if I ever tell you I’m going to see another new Woody Allen movie.
— Sam Archie
Dirty Grandpa (dir. Dan Mazer)
I prepared myself before seeing Dirty Grandpa. I wasn’t expecting much and what I did expect was not good. But when Academy Award-winning actor Robert De Niro’s first bit of screen time as the titular grandpa saw him masturbating in front of his grandson, I knew I could never be ready for what I witnessed. The film was a grueling dreck, each joke unfunny in the most painful way possible. Throughout the film’s 102-minute runtime, I can say I laughed at one joke unironically, but the rest failed to get even a slight chuckle out of me. I started off getting a laugh or two at just how bad what I was watching was, but by the end, I was drained and tired. The joke that Robert De Niro is, in fact, an inappropriate senior citizen gets old really quickly (no pun intended). Beyond the exhausting humor, there isn’t much that’s entertaining about the filmmaking, either. Poor editing, bizarre sound design, dead cinematography, and flat characters can all be found here. Saying Dirty Grandpa is one of, if not, THE worst film of 2016 is no hyperbole — it is the most accurate description possible.
— Jacob Sullivan
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
(dir. David Yates)
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is perhaps the best example of the dire state of Hollywood today, which mainly makes stories consisting of undeveloped characters, disjunctive thematic theses, plots full of holes, and numerous missed opportunities. However, this film in particular makes no attempt to write itself off as anything more than a spin-off. In an artificial 1920s New York, an uninteresting zoologist played by Eddie Redmayne immigrates to America in order to set his magical bird free in Arizona. However, he easily becomes distracted by his cartoonish critters, non-wizards with ugly haircuts, and the most exciting antagonist of all: nosy immigration bureaucrats! Throughout the film, he teleports through buildings and erases the memories of nearly everyone in the city, which raises several questions. For instance, why did he even come to New York instead of just teleporting to Arizona? And why does anyone care about hiding magic when they can just erase people’s memories?
The highest form of praise this film got was for its world-building, and its expansion of the Harry Potter universe—a common point of defense for any failed spin-off if there ever was one. Unfortunately, “world building” is not enough (looking at you, Rogue One). Many films manage to tell a story and create their own world simultaneously. Ultimately, when it comes to this movie, the beasts have no effect on the growth of the characters, and all the characters do is follow the beasts. These rather poorly animated creatures cramp every frame and lazily serve as a cheap symbol for either conservation or multiculturalism (whichever generates more buzz). This film is another dreary example of Hollywood executives’ mediocrity. How ironic for it to have come from J. K. Rowling. With four more sequels to set to be made, it appears that Rowling herself is searching for some fantastic sharks and how to jump them.
— Sam Archie
God’s Not Dead 2 (dir. Harold Cronk)
I love Pure Flix and this entire new wave of evangelical films. As a fan of so-bad-it’s-good cinema, movies like A Matter of Faith and Last Ounce of Courage have provided hours of comedy from absurdly hyperbolic strawman-fests. Perhaps the crown jewel in this rogues gallery of bullshit persecution narratives is God’s Not Dead, a shameless propaganda piece about the inherent evil of liberal arts colleges, atheists, and really anyone who doesn’t share the worldview of Willie Robertson. It’s as subtle as a sledgehammer and way more hateful than its bright-eyed, inspirational exterior might have you believe.
Arriving just a year later, the sequel is similarly inept in its attempts to establish a believable plot and credible characterizations. No one is a real person in these movies and despite landing Sabrina, the teenage witch herself, Melissa Joan Hart, as the lead, director Harold Cronk is unable to conjure up any charm or good will. This time, the target is the evil ACLU and the apparent government conspiracy to kill God by keeping religious terms (even if they’re within the context of a class discussion) out of schools. Ray Wise is the main source of amusement, flashing numerous wicked smiles in the role of an ACLU prosecutor who is more cartoonishly menacing than a comic book villain. However, outside of that, it’s a dry snooze of a movie, standing at two excruciating hours.
— Byron Bixler
Independence Day: Resurgence
(dir. Roland Emmerich)
Uggghhhhhh. Was I expecting a lot when I walked into Independence Day: Resurgence back in June (also, a movie called Independence Day was released in June)? No, I wasn’t, but I was at least expecting a fun, dumb, CGI-filled summer blockbuster where I could shove popcorn in my face and chuckle at Jeff Goldblum’s wacky stutter. Instead, I endured two hours of a flat, lifeless and borderline embarrassing sequel to one of my favorite guilty pleasure films of the ’90s. Lacking in charisma and competence, and featuring the most unlikeable cast of characters I’ve ever had the displeasure to devote my time to (where’s Will Smith when you need him?), Independence Day: Resurgence is a horribly acted, written, edited, and directed mess.
— PJ Yerman
Nine Lives (dir. Barry Sonnenfeld)
First of all, yes, I actually watched Nine Lives from beginning to end. Not in theaters, mind you, but it was no less of an ordeal to sit through it at home. For those who don’t know, this is The Shaggy Dog, but with a cat. Academy Award-winner Kevin Spacey is a rich Donald Trump type who is literally named “Brand” and puts his name on everything, including a giant new skyscraper. Of course, as these movies often go, a busy, busy man means a neglectful husband and father, as his wife (Jennifer Garner) and daughter lament his failure to be there for them. Then Spacey runs into a mystical cat whisperer named Purrkins (Christopher Walken) and soon after finds himself inhabiting the body of the family cat by way of some magical process that no one bothers to explain. Through his experience as a feline, Brand learns to cherish his family again and become a better man.
Through most of the film, Nine Lives comes off as a typical corny family film, hitting all of the expected beats. Every scene is way overlit, the CGI cat looks terrible and the pacing is generally awkward, but for the most part, it appears to be more underachieving than aggressively awful. However, the last 20 minutes erased any generous sentiments I previously had. To be clear, the ending of this film is fundamentally broken due to a glaring continuity error that turns a suicide attempt (in a PG-rated kid’s movie, no less) into a triumphant skydiving session by making a parachute appear out of thin air. I am not shitting you — to make sure I wasn’t seeing things, I rewound it to check twice. You have to see it to believe it. Truly a baffling film in more ways than one.
— Byron Bixler
Suicide Squad (dir. David Ayer)
Few films in 2016 were as soulless as Suicide Squad. While the film suffers from having poorly developed characters and a plot that takes far too long to gain momentum, it’s main issue is how it feels like one big advertisement for other movies. The film is more interested in showcasing more recognizable characters (such as Batman and the Joker) than focusing on its main cast. Other than these guest appearances, the movie doesn’t have much else to offer. There is an attempt to make up for the lack of substance with recognizable music and quirky humor, but these attempts to be quirky feel inappropriate in what would otherwise be just another dull action movie. The characters go to town murdering random minions in action scenes that lack any impact or tension, and no amount of classic music changes this (except “Ballroom Blitz,” but that was only in the trailer). Most of the characters don’t receive proper development until the end of the movie, but by then, it’s too little too late, as you’re already fixated on how all of this will tie into later DC projects. It’s hard to enjoy a film when it exists merely to sell tickets for Ben Affleck’s The Batman.
— Kayla Hurowitz
Yoga Hosers (dir. Kevin Smith)
What happened to you, Kevin Smith? I have loved you ever since I first watched Clerks and got deep into the 90s independent film scene. But ever since Dogma, your movies are either merely fine, boring or baffling. I had low expectations for Yoga Hosers after witnessing the abomination that is Tusk. But even my lowered expectations couldn’t prepare me for the stupidity I witnessed. The main joke here (spoiler alert) is the apparent fact that Canadian accents are funny. This joke dies in the first 10 minutes of movie. The plot is incoherent, including Nazis, satanists and other bullshit that makes no sense. It’s clear Kevin Smith wanted to appeal to a younger generation, judging by the teenage girl leads and the running gag about how they are constantly glued to their cell phones. But it fails to be funny, scary or even entertaining. I can’t wait for Moose Jaws starring the bearded guy from Epic Meal Time so we can end this godforsaken “True North trilogy.”
— Elizabeth Esten
Zoolander 2 (dir. Ben Stiller)
This movie’s existence alone baffles me. The original came out over 10 years ago and no one was clamoring for this movie in 2016. The script is hackneyed and its only good jokes come from increasingly random cameos. Have you ever wanted to see Neil DeGrasse Tyson appear in a comedy film to do something I forgot about? Watch this turd. Stiller’s direction is tired in spots, and it does what many bad sequels do when it resets Derek Zoolander’s character arc from the first movie just so we can have another movie. While it’s slightly interesting to have Derek overcome his prejudice of fat people after discovering that his son is overweight (I’m not kidding), the way it is executed is half-hearted and disingenuous. If you love the original, avoid this thing. If you love movies of any kind, avoid it, even if it airs on cable TV at three in the afternoon and you’re bored.
— Elizabeth Esten