It’s been a year for some fantastic movies and some equally amazing performances – but, unfortunately, there’s been a fair few stinkers to balance out the excellence. Having seen a plethora of pictures these past twelve months, I’m more than certain that the following movies need never see the light of day again – let’s start the countdown from number ten down to number one, the very worst that 2016 has had to offer. Please note that some entries may be listed lower down despite a higher mark - let's just say I've had a slight rethink for this end-of year ranking!
10. DAD’S ARMY (1.5 Stars)
The notion of bringing classic British sitcom Dad’s Army to the big screen was not necessarily a bad one, but it’s unique this year in that it boasts an unbelievably able and ideal cast lumbered with clunky laughs, paper-thin plotting and very little to take away – it sort of exists for the sake of it, and while some laughs do work, others really haven’t been realised fully and, as a result, we’re left with something akin to a cinematic soggy mess.
Worst Moment: The twist regarding Catherine Zeta Jones’ character that we all saw coming a mile away.
9. LONDON HAS FALLEN (1.5 Stars)
It’s very possible that London Has Fallen was made entirely for laughs, but even on those grounds, it’s absolutely mind-numbing. Moments of supposed hilarity fall flat and twists and turns are heavily signposted – layered with a performance by Gerard Butler who’s trying to be so hammy he’s enjoyable – instead finding himself plodding along spouting obvious written dialogue amongst swathes of predictable and unenthusing explosions. The CG, too, does little to sell the drama – and neither does the obscene over-use of product placement.
Worst Moment: Gerard Butler, while out jogging with US President Aaron Eckhart: “One hell of a presidential race.”
8. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES (1 Star)
The fact that a film with that title can be so tedious and withdrawn deserves some sort of plaudit all on its own – as the ‘zombies’ added in to Jane Austen’s universe of pomp and circumstance is treated as so much of an afterthought that we are more or less given a rather flat rendition of the classic tale, give or take the undead. The cast seems genuinely bored and, as a result, the sheer lack of momentum in the script and their performances offer little in the way of an entertaining evening. Matt Smith, however, genuinely appears to try his hardest – a shame.
Worst Moment: The final scenes, which appear shoehorned in only to bleed out the screenplay for the sake of it.
7. A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING (1.5 Stars)
This one flew under many people’s radars – thankfully. A story where a salesman travels to Saudi to sell his portfolio… goes to Saudi to sell his portfolio. Thank heavens for Tom Hanks, who absolutely carries the gravitas of a character-based story on his back – under a lesser actor, perhaps, this movie would have flatlined completely. There isn’t much, unfortunately, left to say about this rather damp squib – apart from that it tries its hardest to sell you products more than it tries to sell you genuine entertainment.
Worst Moment: Tom Hanks takes a look around a company HQ and talks business for a few minutes while we are shown several corporate logos.
6. THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN (1.5 Stars)
While there are shades of a good movie in terms of direction here and there, Girl On The Train is ultimately a very nasty little film that boasts thoroughly unlikable characters, joyless atmosphere and a series of tired, misanthropic trudges towards the movie’s inevitable climax. Better thrillers benefit from better pacing, finely crafted tension and a cast that you can root for – and while Emily Blunt really tries her best here, there’s not really much you can take away other than feelings of existential dread.
Worst Moment: The opening ten minutes, solidly dependent upon character exposition.
5. NORM OF THE NORTH (1/2 a Star)
In a year where animation really has hit the heights in the form of Zootopia, Moana and Kubo and The Two Strings, it’s more than a bit baffling as to why something like Norm of The North exists. Allegedly originally slated for a straight-to-DVD release, it’s not hard to understand why – as a poorly-animated polar bear twerks his way around grotesquely designed side characters, pandering to the key audience while alienating them all the same. Children are a key audience for many movie studios and Norm just seems to show a very vague understanding of what makes them tick. Awful plot, uninspiring characters and a naff emphasis on pop culture consign this to the very bottom of the pile.
Worst Moment: Norm, a polar bear, twerks.
4. THE FOREST (1 Star)
While I rated The Forest rather brusquely with a single star back in February, in hindsight, I’ve perhaps been a bit too kind. This is a horror movie that is down here on the grounds that there are so many gripping turns and twists that could have been thrown in but have instead been avoided in favour of tried-and-tested horror cliché and false jump scares. It’s simply nothing short of a rather tepid and flat disappointment, which despite Natalie Dormer being genuinely talented, stumbles again and again on its way to a hurried and baffling finale that has to rank amongst the worst movie endings I’ve ever seen.
Worst Moment: As mentioned, the ending. In a close second, Taylor Kinney’s performance throughout.
3. NINE LIVES (1/2 a Star)
This is a movie in which Kevin Spacey buys a cat from Christopher Walken. Spacey then finds himself becoming said cat after it’s decided he needs to learn a lesson. In short, this is a movie in which Kevin Spacey plays a cat with a silly name. It’s as bad as it sounds, and, without a hint of irony, remains one of this year’s most baffling releases. In 1996, this may well have filled a TV channel towards the back of the listings – but in 2016, it’s just odd.
Worst Moment: The premise.
2. GODS OF EGYPT (1/2 a Star)
Ye Gods – undoubtedly one of this year’s biggest high-profile duds, even more so following the director’s vehement defence of the material despite widespread critical distaste – but Gods is ultimately a big, bloated, uninspiring and poorly-written movie that plasters on cloying visuals in an effort to make up for its lack of genuine entertainment. Aiming to blow audiences away with huge budget CG and big-name actors in Gerard Butler and Game of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, to some it’s a movie that has strayed into ‘so bad, it’s good’ territory – but anyone who attended this movie expecting anything on par with HBO’s biggest and best would likely have left being poorly disappointed at best.
Worst Moment: The moment we all realised this wasn’t going to be the Oscar-chasing material we were told it would be.
1. TOP CAT BEGINS (1/2 a Star)
There really is no contest – while Gods of Egypt tried to hold it together, Top Cat Begins simply didn’t even try – there is promise here, somewhere, but the very fact that children of today are treated to an origin story of a character that hasn’t been on TV for over twenty-five years is baffling enough – add in sub-par animation, a plot that stumbles and staggers all over the place with wayward abandon, moments that are genuinely inappropriate for the intended audience and a thorough lack of professionalism – and you’re left with Top Cat Begins. This, once again, is a movie that should have been thrust into DVD bargain bins while the studio had the chance – it’s all rather odd to behold, and thoroughly underwhelming. I’ve tried to see all the movies I’ve witnessed this year twice – but with Top Cat, I was filled with a sense of dread I never hope to offer the light of day again. Top Cat Begins is jaw-droppingly bad, ungraspably strange, and is likely everything you expect it to be – thirty years ago, this would have struggled on small network TV.
Worst Moment: The opening scenes. They don’t get any better, nor any worse – they just plateau.
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