Monday, January 23, 2017

Top 10 UGH Movies of 2016

For the past several years, I've been counting down the most disappointing, overrated, annoying, or otherwise upsetting movies I've seen in a given year. Since I don't often purposely watch movies I know I'll hate, instead of counting down the actual "worst" movies, I'll just be covering the ones that make me let out a painful "UGH" when I watch or think about them.

So again, these are just the movies I personally hated for whatever reasons. Some of these are seen as good movies, others not so much; but they all have their fans and I couldn't disagree with those people more. Let's do it, my top 10 UGH Movies of 2016.

The Light Between Oceans
Directed by Derek Cianfrance

Michael Fassbender is the best actor of the past decade, Alicia Vikander is an incredibly promising new talent, and their scenes are both heartbreaking and perfectly set up the lonely, romantic tone of the movie. Enter Rachel Weisz, whose total lack of range and poorly-written character throws a monkey wrench into an otherwise effective movie and completely hijacks it. It was a good movie up to about 40 minutes in at which point I just became frustrated at the thoughtless writing and suitably awful performance by one of the most boring and depthless actors in Hollywood.

Directed by Duncan Jones

I never really expected a live action Warcraft movie to be anything special, but with a rich lore and range of characters, I felt it could have been at least passable popcorn entertainment that would tell a fun story with familiar heroes and villains. Storywise, I think they did an alright job, but that doesn't mean the writing was up to snuff. The acting was horrible, most of the non-orc effects looked distracting cheap, and I was far more bored than I should have been considering the subject matter and thematic intent. Dull, lifeless, and often cringe-worthy.

Pee Wee's Big Holiday
Directed by John Lee

Pee Wee's Big Adventure is one of my favorite movies of the 1980s and among Tim Burton's best work. So a well-reviewed follow-up should have been at least watchable for me, but that's pretty much the opposite of how it felt. This was a torturous experience with failed humor at every juncture with an incredibly awkward Paul Reubens in the title role. The few parts of the movie I do remember were weak, and the rest was just bland and forgettable. I wanted it to be over within 20 minutes and it still had an hour left. I'll just stick with the first movie.

Directed by Ben Wheatley

My thoughts on Ben Wheatley are constantly shifting. I *think* I liked A Field In England and Sightseers, really enjoyed Kill List, but obviously disliked this one. When he isn't trying to make ham-handed statements on the social hierarchy and excess, it obviously works out much better for me. The performances here are devoid of emotion and complexity, and in spite of the general craziness of the movie, it all felt very typical and samey. This movie didn't seem to tackle much that hasn't already been slammed into the ground and pulverized. One of the most dull "original" movies of the year.

Suicide Squad
Directed by David Ayer

DC need to let their filmmakers actually make films. This movie stunk of studio tampering, and everything you see and read about the behind the scenes process verifies this. But butchering aside, this movie was never going to be good. The casting was lousy (Jared Leto hurts to watch and Viola Davis was totally wasted), most of the screenplay made little to no sense, and the grayish color pallet seemed almost a direct contradiction to the lively intent of the movie in the first place. It was just a train wreck of a movie. The only reason it wasn't higher than this was because I didn't expect it to be anything special -- but it still sucked.

Pete's Dragon
Directed by David Lowery

One of the most beloved children's movies of 2016, and my god was it horrible. I took a pen and paper with me into the theater to blindly jot down some thoughts on the movie as it went along, and I eventually ran out of patience trying to piece together the bull crap I was watching. This movie was so generic, lifeless unoriginal and insultingly half-assed it made me actively furious. This script is horrible and the execution even worse. The BFG was fairly standard but at least it felt magical and was lovely to watch. This entire movie was like The Jungle Book remake but without any of the charm or sense of urgency.

Blair Witch
Directed by Adam Wingard

I don't know why I expected the second sequel to The Blair Witch Project to be anything but a waste of time, but somehow this one surprised me. It could be due to director Adam Wingard's previous track record with the movies You're Next and The Guest, so my expectations were pretty high for this one. The original Blair Witch movie was one of the best horror moves of its time, and this sequel is an even bigger disappointment than the first sequel -- as bad as that one was, at least it was original. This movie just wreaks of laziness and poor planning.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Directed by Gareth Edwards

I wrote over 2000 words outlining what it was that I hated about this movie, so I'll spare you all the redundancy. Instead I'll just link my post. Or post my link. Click here to read it.

American Honey
Directed by Andrea Arnold

There are few things that annoy me more than my generation of people. Spoiled, attention-seeking, entitled, lazy, and ultimately too boring and overly-sensitive to ever be worth paying attention to. Yeah, I make generalizations, because it's easier that way. Anyway, when you take everything that I don't like about millenials and cram it into a 3 hour movie that goes nowhere, it makes me feel like I'm being held hostage. Nothing even remotely dramatic or thematically interesting, the performances and characters lack any kind of depth or relatability, and I never gave a crap about anything that was happening. This movie was a big nothing at its best and an irritating non-character study at its worst. Hated it in every way.

The Neon Demon
Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn

Where do I even start with a movie that I hated more than any other this entire year? NWR is a sometimes great director. He has a distinct style and approach that, at times alienating, is often engaging and weirdly compelling. His most recent film (apart from this), Only God Forgives, divided critics and audiences, and was generally considered to be pointless and self-satisfying in a way that was more agitating and overly pretentious than pretty much any movie should ever be. I personally enjoyed it, as I felt it gave the audience more to think about than the average movie and even challenged us to look deeper and think harder than 99% of movies will ever dare to. That being said, I am no stranger to the idea that not all movies are meant for all audiences, but I have considered myself a fan of Refn's for years now. But after watching this, I'm beginning to doubt if he has anything more to say at all as a filmmaker, or if he just enjoys making brightly colored movies that have zero character development, vague and uninteresting plots, forced symbolism at every turn, and uses all these things to pass off his own lack of vision as "art", condemning the haters for just not "getting it". Well I used to "get it", and now I'm convinced he's just trolling his loyal fans with what ultimately equates to a giant pile of shiny neon-lit garbage.

The characters (or lack thereof) never feel even remotely real, going from point A to B without any motivation or gradual change in attitude and temperament. The plot is about as non-existent as political morality, and feels as if every shot in this movie is used as nothing more than a device to distract you from the fact that you're watching a terrible, dull movie that has no point and no emotional pay-off. Every scene involves things happening without any real stakes or purpose, plot points are picked up and then dropped mere moments later, and I would argue not even the cinematography was utilized well; for example there was a scene intended to be shown from a character's first person perspective that was floating at least 4 feet above where her head would be. This movie tries to pretend it has something to say about sacrifice, betrayal, vanity, and glamour in the modeling world, but could ultimately be summed up in a sentence any nincompoop could muster up: "bitches be bitches". Even the psychologicsl aspects come up remarkably short. This movie was like Black Swan for dummies: and I didn't even *like* Black Swan.

Ultimately, I don't expect most fans of arthouse movies to agree with me here, and I wouldn't hold it against anyone for finding things to like about this...thing. But I hated it, see nothing of merit here, and need to relax and probably take a shower now, because I'm getting all worked up about how much I hate this stupid movie.

So there you have it, my top 10 UGH movies of 2016. I don't expect most people to agree with most of these, but that's ultimately a good thing. It would be boring if we all agreed on everything. Stay tuned for some more 2016 countdowns!

No comments: