I was on the fence about whether to do a Top 10 worst films of the year, a) because I haven’t seen “Point Break” yet and b) because it felt like taking one last, mean-spirited kick at some films that had already taken plenty of abuse. But then friends on social media essentially began chanting “Kick! Kick!” so I decided to give the people what they wanted.
There are some very bad movies on this list. Just very bad and wrong and not good. But there are also some movies that, while not technically horrible, were just such massive disappointments, such wastes of potential, that in some ways I find them worse than the actual bad movies.
Anyway, let’s cleanse ourselves of these stinkers and leave them behind in 2015. Maybe 2016 will be nothing but great movies! Maybe.
- “Victor Frankenstein” — I knew this reboot of Mary Shelley’s classic tale would be bad from the trailers, but would it be enjoyably bad? Then the movie opens with Daniel Radcliffe wearing a hunchback and scampering around in clown makeup, and I leaned forward in my seat and thought “Go on, I’m listening.” Turning the Frankenstein myth into a bro-down between Frankenstein and Igor was the second-worst idea screenwriter Max Landis had this year, the first being to call Rey a “Mary Sue” on Twitter. Just look at the picture at the top of this article. They KNOW they did something wrong.
- “Hot Tub Time Machine 2” — I say this as someone who gave the original “Hot Tub Time Machine” four stars back in 2010, but the sequel fritters away the premise of a time-traveling jacuzzi. Ostensibly set in the future, HTTM2 limps by on the thinnest of premises, can’t find anything funny about our future selves, and wastes Rob Corddry, Keitn Robinson and newcomer Adam Scott. It’s telling that everything you saw in the trailer was from the closing-credits sequence.
- “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” — Not the worst movie of 2015, but certainly the most punchable, this twee indie dramedy played every Sundance Film Festival trick in the book. Self-conscious and smug the filmmakers don’t let an ounce of real emotion infiltrate their carefully-constructed creation, in which all the supporting characters in the movie (including a girl with leukemia) exist for the sole purpose of nudging a middle-class white kid to go to college. Eesh.
- “Jurassic World” — Again, not bad per se, but what a terrible waste of potential. There isn’t one single memorable sequence or interesting character in this bloated franchise (sure, hire Chris Pratt as the hero and bleach all humor or personality out of him. Great idea!). Even the dinosaurs look bored.
- “Dark Places” — About the same time that Charlize Theron was putting her grease-stained stamp on the summer as Imperator Furiosa in “Mad Max: Fury Road,” she quietly slipped in an out of theaters with this incredibly convoluted thriller based on an early Gillian Flynn (“Gone Girl”) novel. Maybe it made more sense on paper.
- “Tomorrowland” — Another one that’s a tragic waste of potential, Brad Bird (“The Incredibles”) tries to make an optimistic blockbuster about the future, and instead becomes mired in treacly sentiment, needless overplotting and a phony sense of wonder. It ended up making me less optimistic that my favorite filmmakers can do no wrong.
- “Labyrinth of Lies” — This German film takes a straightforward, movie-of-the-week look at the prosecution of Nazi war criminals who went scot free for years, complete with a square-jawed hero and a tidy resolution.
- “The Final Girls” — The premise here is great — that contemporary young women get sucked into the world of an ’80s teen slasher movie and have to learn the rules of the genre to survive. But the film gets squeamish about whether it’s going to be a horror movie or a comedy, and somehow gets bogged down in sentimentality along the way.
- “Southpaw” — A beefed-up Jake Gyllenhaal looks the part as a riches-to-rags boxer who can solve all his problems if he just wins that one championship fight, but the film trafficks in tired cliches. It hit the canvas even before “Creed” came along to show how it really should be done.
- “The Gunman” — Every male actor seems to get his AARP card at 50 and his international action movie franchise at 55, and it was Sean Penn’s turn in this wan action film, which wastes some great actors (Javier Bardem, Ray Winstone, Mark Rylance) in supporting roles. Then again, it wastes the lead actor as well.