Posted January 4, 2023
interesting thing happened at the movies during the past year.
attending a screening for a movie that shall remain nameless (other than
to say that it graces the list of shame below) and there was a family with young
kids sitting several rows in front of me.
The movie in question was a large scale blockbuster, but one of the
overstuffed, overlong and assembly line dullness variety.
There was a point during the screening when the kids got up out of
their chairs and walked away, but not to go to the bathroom or to get a
drink/popcorn refill. They
started to play with the exit doors.
When their parents rightfully went over and told them to
stop being nuisances to the other patrons, the kids sat back down...but
then they started to squirm, fidget and play with their seats' electronic
recliner buttons. The tykes then proceeded to make propeller noises to mimic some
sort of hydraulic lift. The
parents told them to "shush!" many times, but I for one became
kind of fascinated by this behavior, so much so that I started to forget
that I was there to watch a movie.
dawned on me. These kids were
so bored senseless by everything that was on screen that they felt the
need to entertain themselves by toying around with the theater doors and
recliners. Worse and more
revealing yet? I was more enamored with observing this behavior
than anything the movie had to offer me.
It was at this point when I realized that the filmmakers have
fundamentally failed their audience - both young and old alike.
I've been seeing a rather odd discourse on social media over the last few years that admonishes year end WORST FILMS lists because they're perceived as being "mean spirited" and "hurtful" towards filmmakers and films (the standard line I here is that movies are hard to make and criticizing them is offensive to the people and hours put into making them. Say what?! This type of rhetoric seems to be completely antithetical to what film criticism is all about. I've spent a better part of my life championing great movies and their equally great filmmakers and celebrate such efforts in my annual BEST FILMS lists (and have been doing so for nearly two decades). Having said that, you can prop up masterful films and lambaste mediocre ones in equal measure. Plus, am I supposed to play nice with a film/filmmaker if the end result of "hard work" is indefensible trash? Making films is a huge and stress inducing undertaking. No one should doubt or minimize that, but cinema can't evolve, mature, and get better without legitimate forms of criticism. Giving a film a free pass regardless of its quality seems pretty illegitimate to me.
The films listed below need to be held accountable. They not only wasted many precious hours of my life that I will never, ever get back, but they also surely wasted the valuable time of countless others that went to them in good faith and came out feeling cheated. 2022 - as was the case with every year that I've been a critic - had its ups and downs for quality releases, but the below listed ten were of the bottom of the barrel variety and scraped said barrel bottom until reaching dirt. Consider this list a public service as opposed to something venomously hostile. Who among us wouldn't want to be told "avoid these films and save yourself the burden and cost?"
I'll start with the single WORST film of 2022 and then discuss some very worthy (or should I say unworthy?) runners-up:
never had such an easy time selecting my worst film of the year than I did
with MOONFALL, a spectacularly awful would-be thought-provoking and epic
sci-fi thriller that I described in my original review as being so bad
that it was "an accident masquerading as a movie."
You also know that a movie is in deep, deep trouble when it
completely foregoes a theatrical release here in Canada (despite opening
in cinemas in the U.S. and elsewhere).
Ironically, MOONFALL was shot in Canada and our Mongrel Media
citied concerns over COVID earlier in 2022 as for why they didn't release
it. Hmmmmm...perhaps this distributor had the keen foresight to
unceremoniously bury it versus giving it any theatrical playtime.
And this was not some sort of putrid micro-budget indie. This was a massive $140 million production directed by Roland Emmerich, whose previous films - yes - I have mostly defended as an apologist. I just couldn't - with any clear conscience - defend this space themed disaster picture on any level. The actors are made up of Oscar winners and nominees that look like they're about to say "Do it for the paycheck!" after every take, the VFX (usually an Emmerich strong suit) are abysmally rendered in spite of the resources available, and the actual science on display in this science fiction effort was so nonsensically dopey that it made ARMAGEDDON look like INTERSTELLAR. Perhaps most offensive of all was that MOONFALL made NASA scientists look like misguided imbeciles and made the "hero" of the picture a subscriber to crackpot conspiracy theories. That's certainly a tone deaf approach these days considering how rampant misinformation is ravaging the world, but that and so much more made me react with such condemnation for MOONFALL several months ago. This was easily the most idiotically scripted and executed disaster pictures that I've ever seen, making it highly worthy of its worst film of the year moniker.
If it were not for the release of MOONFALL then PINOCCHIO - Disney's umpteenth live action adaptation of one of their beloved animated classics - would have easily been the worst film of 2022 for me. I'm not sure what was more mind-blowing about this woefully misguided venture - that it was directed by the usually assured and Oscar winning filmmaker Robert Zemeckis or that it starred multiple Oscar winning actor Tom Hanks.
was their first film collaborating together in nearly twenty years.
Let that settle in for a bit.
I can't think of a 2022 film that was more guilty of misappropriating fine talent than PINOCCHIO, which emerged as easily one of the most soulless, cynical minded, and terribly unnecessary films of the year that was. I've spoken at great length about how utterly needless all of these live action redos of the House of Mouse's animated catalogue have been over the years, but what made this PINOCCHIO fall so flatly and be so mindlessly dead on arrival was that it did nothing fresh and novel with the very cherished source material, outside of spiffy CGI cosmetic upgrades and some very minor tweaks to the story. If you're going to just lazily rehash the original beat for beat then what is the point? Disney's 1940 feature film represented a pioneering watershed picture as far as the industry and animation genre was concerned, and one that blazed a trail for the studio into becoming a leading titan of daring innovation. Flash-forward 82 years and...well...this is what they're pawning off on families. The titular character may have been a wooden puppet that came to life via magic, but this live action remake was mournfully lacking in it.
real sucker for creature feature and outdoor survival thrillers.
And I also like actress Alicia Silverstone quite a bit.
But the Le Van Kiet directed THE REQUIN -
which starred the CLUELESS actress as a vacationing wife whose
Vietnam based resort property gets whisked out to sea during a devastating
tropical storm, leaving her and her horribly injured husband stranded and
facing off against a killer shark - never
once gripped me because it was easily one of the phoniest looking
thrillers that I've sat through in many a moon.
Here's the deal: Kiet made this entire film on soundstages and utilized (it has been reported) over 1000 VFX shots with a budget that wouldn't have covered the catering on an MCU film. That's kind of ambitious, when you think about it. The main problem, though, with this approach of not shooting anything on location for a scant $10 million is that the level of movie fakery on display here ranged from middling to shockingly bad. All I could think of while watching THE REQUIN was how much better served this film could have been with either (a) a higher budget or (b) a better director using better methods. There's very few - if any - shots or sequences contained within this failed aquatic scarefest that ever made me believe that this poor woman was ever really in the middle of the ocean fending for her life. And because THE REQUIN used shoddy digital effects and computer compositing throughout, there was just no level of grounded and believable terror to be had here. Hell, I couldn't even appreciate it on a level of a pure retro-grade B-picture. Silvestone gave it her commendable all in the film, but everything built around her betrayed that performance good will. And, yes, far better survival thrillers on minuscule budgets featuring storms and rampaging wildlife have been made (look at 2019's infinitely better CRAWL), but THE REQUIN - by direct comparison - was all washed up with no where to go.
No worst of the year list would be complete (sigh) without a Michael Bay flick of masturbatory excess occupying it.
His chase/crime thriller AMBULANCE was nearly two and a half punishing hours...had good actors screaming at each for nearly every minute of said running time....had frequent usage of dizzying and sometimes vomit-inducing remote drone camera dollies that are used over and over again to eye fatiguing levels...had virtually no shots that lasted longer than 3-5 seconds...and had paper thin characters and lead footed scripting. Oh, and this attention deficit disorder piece of shameful Bayhem was a remake of a 2005 Danish film.
I felt like I was going to need an ambulance after suffering through AMBULANCE.
Or...maybe an -
cough, cough! - am-BAY-lance.
you had no idea whatsoever that this film existed then you're not alone.
typically a bad sign when a film has its release delayed over and
over again. That's usually
the ultimate kiss of death sentence for its quality and box office
This was as vanilla bland and painfully generic as romantic fantasy pictures go.
Netflix production makes its first appearance on this list. From what I've read online, FISTFUL OF VENGEANCE was a
standalone movie sequel to the TV series WU ASSASSINS, which the streaming
giant also produced and ended abruptly without tying up narrative loose
ends. If you have not seen
the series (and I certainly did not) then FISTFUL OF VENGEANCE will prove
to be a befuddlingly hard watch and leave viewers (including myself)
hopelessly lost throughout it. Like
a superficially glitzy, colorful, and hyperactive 90 minute musical video
that tried to impersonate a film, FISTFUL OF VENGEANCE inspired intense
boredom in me. I think that
cast and crew here were aiming for the whimsical charm and adrenaline
induced and gracefully choreographed action sequence glory days of Jackie
Chan, but everyone here was reduced to blank expressioned action figures
being haphazzardly thrust into one brainless and chaotic scene after
nearly forget that this Adrian Brody passion project (no kidding...look it
up) was even released during the past year.
Not only did he star in CLEAN, but he also co-wrote and co-produced
me set this film up:
a painfully by-the-numbers and creatively running on absolute empty action
thriller exercise that's a JOHN
WICK-ian inspired revenge tale, but with the death dealing Wick
persona being a lowly garbage man instead of a world renowned and feared
assassin for hire.
Yes, CLEAN was about as terrible as it sounds, and Brody showed in it that he sure was a million miles removed from his Best Actor Oscar win decades ago. If you want an instant cure for insomnia, then seek this film out. If you've seen one film about violent men wanting to atone for their pasts that get placed on a collision course with returning to violence then you've seen them all, and CLEAN emerged as a walking genre cliché factory. The first 20 minutes of this film did nothing for me and its remaining 70 were almost impossible to sit through without ample watch checking on my part.
a vile piece of work BLONDE was in 2022, made all the more shameful that
it was from director Andrew Dominik, who previously helmed one of the most
atmospheric westerns of all time in THE
ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD.
Apatow's star studded THE BUBBLE was ironically influenced by the making
of another WORST OF THE YEAR candidate below.
This Netflix (wow, third appearance here!) comedy - if one
could call it that - concerned a lavish movie production being made during
the worst parts of the COVID pandemic and all of the hijinks that come out
of putting the cast and crew through ultra strict quarantine isolation and
shooting protocols. Perhaps
because the pandemic was raging at the time of its release (and still is
an unfortunate part of all of our lives) and causing so much pain,
suffering and death that I questioned the timing of the production.
As one of
cinema's most famous Chaos Theorists might have said:
sequel...now that's one big pile of shit.
I had an
oh-so-difficult task before me in terms of deciding which lavish scaled
and expensive Hollywood blockbuster sequel to include on this year's worst
films list, and it was essentially a coin toss between JURASSIC WORLD:
DOMINION and the smugly absurd THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER, but I decided on
the former, which is hopefully the last dino-themed entry in this
franchise that frankly ran out of creative gas a very long time ago.
It's easy to look back and fondly remember what a lightning in a
bottle technological watershed picture that Steven Spielberg's original
JURASSIC PARK was way, way back in 1993 (celebrating its 30th
anniversary this year!). I
can't think of another massive franchise that has spawned sequel after
sequel of ever diminishing qualitative returns than JURASSIC PARK/WORLD,
and with DOMINION I was left with the damning thought that what Spielberg
dared to dream up decades ago has now just become a cash cow product to be
endlessly exploited. The
sequel's fan servicing usage of the old PARK cast with the new WORLD cast
was just a hastily executed marketing gimmick that didn't really pay off.
And considering the limitlessly cockamamie material given to the
actors young and old here it's no wonder why many of them (especially the
legacy actors) looks so disinterested and confused throughout.
|Well...that felt good. My TEN WORST list is complete...but I'm not done yet! Here are a few more films that were not terrible enough to make the TEN WORST, but were easily forgettable all the same. Consider these:|
CrAiGeR's NEGLIGIBLE FILMS OF 2022:
|And finally, here's a dishonorable mention list of films that I felt were more disappointing than truly awful. Consider these:|
CrAiGeR's MISSED OPPORTUNITIES of 2022: