This article originally appeared on VICE CA.
It’s that time of the year when I get to release all my bottled-up anger on the movies that wasted my time. Given my job description as “writer who writes about movies,” I wasted a ton of time this year, even though I try to steer away from films I expect to be garbage.
So disclaimer, for my “worst movie” list: I didn’t go out looking for every bit of trash out there, so with movies like Gotti, it was viewed on a dare. But with others like Green Book, it was a genuine watch befitting the job description. But, the point is, I hated each and every one of these films to the point of salivating for the day I’d get to let it all out in public. So here you go, the films I hope you avoided in 2018. Reader discretion is advised.
From the moment Italian driver, Frank Anthony “Tony Lip” (Viggo Mortensen) Vallelonga, taught Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), how to eat fried chicken, I knew that Rachel Dolezal—post-racial goddess herself—saw my hipster racist post, and arose from the depths of hell to curse me with this movie. She sprinkled mayonnaise sauce all over this, as if audiences were still living a 70s era in need of a summer-introductory course to race relations. Listen, I said all that I said about this disastrous din of white pampering that...SURPRISE...white critics absolutely drool over. But just know, I paid to watch this, and I still want my money back. And I almost never want my money back.
It’s Super Bowl night, my Eagles are dusting the Patriots (ignorance was bliss), and in walks this cryptic trailer. I spot the J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot productions logo (good), the 2008 throwback clip from Cloverfield (pretty good), and wait...it’s Oscar-snubbed David Oyelowo from Selma at the end, and that one English actress...Gugu Mbatha-Raw, from the Black Mirror: San Junipero episode (damn good). And what the fuck is that arm crawling around without a body? Can’t wait.
A watch and some self-care later, the wackness in Cloverfield believing itself to be the next Beyonce album-level success remains wishful on a scale that I hadn’t seen since season 8 of the X-Files (no Mulder?). Yes, a story about a random crew attempting to solve movie-earth-energy-crisis #1042 through multidimensional foolery seemed interesting, but this movie so wanted to be the bag of shit that wasn’t the affront to my exposed nostrils. It wanted to rock a messy, convoluted, token-ass space crew story, while trying to hide every bit of “referenced” fact, that it wasn’t a Cloverfield anything. During my struggle-view of soulless crew members yelling fake jargon at each other, with space gravity scenes that ignored the laws of space gravity, I asked myself, how no one in the process of making this movie thought to stop and say, “Doesn’t this movie feel like a long-ass made-for-TV Andromeda episode?” How did a human being write this shit on paper? How was this brainstormed. How the fuck did this go through god-damned revisions. Fuck this movie.
You Were Never Here
Watched this one at the behest of a friend, and I had to acknowledge the truth: this movie was a self-indulgent work of fake-deepness not worthy of the Rotten Tomato score. I’m completely convinced that director Lynne Ramsey presses the like button on every Facebook wisdom-quote she sees. Now don’t get me wrong, cinematography wise, it’s sexy. Ramsay understands how to do the blood thing like a science. Blood on windows, floors, lots of blood. But in the end, the blood can’t hide the smell, and it smells like Nautica for Men mixed with week-old BO. You can’t give me a gritty, sickly story about emo guy #1043 saving young girls from pediphiles without the motivation. You have to give me something beyond the stylistic tease to make me believe it (ex. Taxi). I’ve never been the guy to look at a Campbell’s soup can (Andy Warhol) and not see a Campbell's soup can. I wasn’t about to become one with this one either.
How It Ends
My aunt on Thanksgiving made me watch this. She saw Forest Whitaker’s face and there was no arguing. Some faces are unarguable when she’s concerned (Denzel Washington, Rubee Dee, Sidney Poitier, etc). And yes, I tried the Battlefield Earth defense, but she understood not. So I watched. I watched stupid Theo James, with his stupid Theo James goatee, and stupid Theo James scowl be stupid. I paid close attention to Forest Whitaker expertly move from peak “over protective father” to “peak survivalist father,” who instructs stupid Theo James on how to survive the end of the world. Like a giant list of tired male power fantasies, this thing moves along like a soulless father/son-in-law Meet the Parents sketch, but without the funny and budget.
This shit hurt… hurt like a restaurant serving a beef patty with no bun, with the nerve to still call it a damn hamburger. When I watched and wrote this review about this alien, buddy buddy 90s bullshit, I spent way too much time debating with patty-only faithfuls who also believed that patties without buns (substance) were actual burgers. I don’t care how many patties get sold in China, or how much you love that salt and pepper flesh. I’ll never call this shit a hamburger.
(Yo, this is my third Netflix original already... )
Mute reminds me of a guy named Scott, with his tricycle and tighty-whities, who rides a bike down a shaky half-pipe, laughing over a pit of fire-breathing alligators, only to cry in agony as he crushes his balls on the landing. People like Scott do this all the time. They look good to start off, but always disappoint me in ways that feel like my balls were equally crushed. Mute is that Scott setup, with its pretty-fied atmosphere, heavy in the not-so-distant cyberpunk shit, but aimless to the bone. That’s excluding Alexander Skarsgård as an actual mute—as if his face was interesting enough to not speak. In the case of Mute, it slides its balls along that half-pipe , before the landing, and crushes them even further. I hated this damn ball-breaking movie.
Yes, I included this movie in a TIFF list, because it was Dan Fogelman, the same man who fucked me all the way up with This Is Us. And surely, he’d know how to fuck me the right way all over again, right? Oh, he fucked me up alright, fucked me up like cupid with a semi-automatic rifle of poisoned darts. We’re talking zero aim here; going for my heart, head, funny bone, knees, balls, and landing in the crevice of my brain. This movie starts out as a tragic love story, but feels so sentimentally manipulative that I couldn’t help but roll my eyes far back to the point of seeing my brain cells decay. I still don’t get how Olivia Wilde, Oscar Isaac and Annette Bening were conned into the most inflated movie since Beaches.
Avengers: Infinity War
Listen, for the most part, I enjoyed the watch the first time through. I mean, this purple-assed alien Thanos threw a whole-ass moon at half of the Avengers. He had a motherfucking time stone, where he could have gone back in time and killed the Avengers. He had a stone that could alter reality, and instead of making it so that the universe no longer needed resources to survive—solving his people suffering or whatever bullshit—his grand plan was to kill off half of the universe, as a temporary solution before having to do it all over again. No hero bothered to reason with my guy, and ask if it’s likely better to get rid of the problem, rather than the victims of said problem. But snap, no one is exactly telling my guy Trump and the Republican party that either, so whatevs.
I should have known better after seeing Jennifer Lawrence as the star of this one. Sure, I find her likeable, but she also has an amazing talent for being in everything that I can’t stand. Whether it’s the later X-Men movies, P assengers, or Mother!, it’s hard for me to not make these associations. So in comes Red Sparrow to continue the wrongs about Russian ballerinas-turned-spies. How I know they’re Russian? The thick Ivan Drago accents, blonde wigs, and unnecessary violence/sexism meant to harden up hustlers of the assassin variety. With zero chemistry or charisma, they’re as boring as every 90s villain (hint: they were all Russian), much like this movie.
I watched this on the dare: I bet you can’t watch this without laughing my friend said, and I failed. Just imagine how bad you’d have to be to average a zero-percent on Rotten Tomatoes to begin with. You’d have to be worse than Tommy Wiseau's The Room, worse than Troll 2, and worse than Will Smith’s Collateral Beauty. Clearly, to achieve this, you’d need an actor without shame, a John Travolta-type per say, whose career sits at peak drunk uncle range—when fucks are no longer given, because they’ve away withered like poor Tom Holland from a Thanos snap. Still, someone thought it would be a great idea to give Travolta the Teflon don role of John Gotti, because he did such a great job being bad in Face/Off, Battlefield Earth, and The Punisher. Of course it’s a terrible script, but every time I watched Travolta speak a line with that over-reactive crease of seriousness, I couldn’t keep in my laugh. It’s been way too long since Pulp Fiction, and if they were looking to squeeze out the last bit that “cool” Travolta, they failed badly.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
You know what? In watching this, I blame no one but myself. I must have digged at Jurassic Park in some way, shape, or form several times this year, but still, like a mouse going for the easy cheese, I thought maybe, just maybe, this Chris Pratt-lead sequel might not be so stupid this time around. Maybe CGI dinos herded into the confines of a billionaire’s mansion isn’t as idiotic as it sounds. And perhaps, the whole weaponizing dinosaurs thing won’t turn into a complete disaster of dumbass proportions. It was, it is, and I was wrong, but at least I got a decent PETA story out of it.
I was a fan of the New York, upper-west-side revenge story starring Charles Bronson—architect turned vigilante, but I definitely wasn’t a fan of this remake. Firstly, they turned my guy into a surgeon (Bruce Willis), because he’d most get how to kill a man, I guess. They also replaced the great score by Herbie Hancock with AC/DC’s Shoot to Thrill and Back in Black, as if it wasn’t on the nose enough. Now, I don’t mind the terrible timing of a white dude solving his bullshit with a gun, but at least be good. There’s no room to be this lifeless and uninspired under those optics. Like Bruce’s 60-something default expression, this movie exists in the intersection of the tired, boring, and annoying.
Pacific Rim: Uprising
The reason folks like me go to watch movies like this have nothing to do with insights about the human condition or any of that shit, it’s entirely about the big-ass robots throwing it down with bigger-assed monsters. That’s it. Guillermo del Toro understood this J-Pop driven desire back in 2013 with Pacific Rim. Uprising (dir. Steven S. DeKnight) does not. It’s mostly noise and military slang with slo-mo sequenced arrangements that pretend to be something halfway fun or watchable. It isn’t fun. Even John Boyega, at his most charming, as main mecha controlling misfit of misfits couldn’t make this fun.
Thankfully I never paid to watch this movie, because my love for Spike Lee is insurmountable, but I have my limits. Like the Rachel Dolezal gifted post-racial Green Book after it, BlacKkKlansman felt like another movie romanticizing a deeply racist time for the sake of its award-giving audience; white folks. I won’t go through the story, I did enough of that already. But through the moments of comedy interspersed between N-words and respectability politics, I wondered why directors felt the need to keep telling these feel-good racial stories. But than the acclaim happened. Then Green Book happened. Then the Golden Globes happened.
You’ve gotta be really bad to still be a bad Robin Hood movie with the bar lower than my toes. So knowing that, I almost get the edgy, new-aged logic in pretending that arrows are pistols here. I almost understand semi-automatic rifles being treated like auto-arrows too. And what’s the harm in making Robin Hood that charming Taron Egerton guy for the post-millennial fanbase? Unfortunately, the answer is: Everything. The action doesn’t make sense to the point of making me cringe. It’s impossible to miss how this movie does the absolute most to be something hip, yet couldn’t see how out of touch it was in the process.
The Happytime Murders
Being raised on Sesame Street, I was lured into this one thanks to my nostalgia for puppets. But even so, I wanted to ignore the puppet solving murders with the human friend thing like I wanted to forget Whoopi Goldberg’s Theodore Rex. Had this movie been any kind of funny, I would have excused it all, but screenwriter Todd Berger had no apparent idea how to make me laugh. The comedic dog turd dialogue speaks for itself: “For 50 cents, I’ll suck your dick,” says Melissa McCarthy's detective puppet, to which McCarthy herself replies, “makes me wish I had a dick for you to suck.”
The Rachel Divide
Once upon a time, Rachel Dolezal was a white woman who cosplayed as a black woman and got busted for doing so. She claimed she was black, and benefited for being one, despite being far whiter than Lena Dunham during the winter season. Naturally, this orange mineral-based woman straight out of a Trader Joe’s, enthralled a nation with her desperation to be welcomed to the cookout. She made excuses, was shunned, and indicted for welfare fraud, and made a movie all about it because she had to remind everyone about her complicated thought process—as if my racially profiled, permanently black-ass had the patience to consider the money she made from this film.
I found Ryan Reynolds annoying in Deadpool 2. So annoying that I disliked him to the point of writing a whole glorified Ryan Reynolds hate post that never got published. Sure, maybe it wasn’t written that well, but I choose to blame it on the supreme Reynolds stans that exist here at VICE. I’ll give Deadpool 2 credit for bringing more action, and more jokes without fixing what wasn’t broken. But the unbroken still needed adjustments. Any dad joke can be funny the first time until wears out its stay. And Reynold’s completely embodiment of this self-deprecating character could stand to be a bit more smart than the comedic junk food of a poop joke. But then again, I’m a critic. I gave up my soul a long time ago, so maybe I was never the audience for this.
I’m all for seeing Jason Statham punch a giant shark, but Meg doesn’t wanna be stupid fun like that. It wanted to be less camp and more serious. It wanted to walk into a fancy joint with a one piece suit and boxer shorts to boot. It doesn’t get, that in order to be beloved as camp, one has see itself as such in 2018, and The Meg, with all its deep-sea Megalodon crap, doesn’t identify itself as this.
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