Let’s face it, 2015 had some awful, awful films. There were great movies we’ll hold close to our hearts for many years, but there were also some ill-advised and even some genuinely insulting movies. Among the worst movies below, you’ll find a franchise cash-grab, a Nicolas Cage kung fu epic, an action film that was actually well-reviewed by critics, a found-footage disaster and one of the most insulting and offensive movies ever made.
First, a quick note because you may be wondering where “Fantastic Four” is on any worst movies list. The truth is, that film wasn’t terrible. It was bad, but it wasn’t the sort of once-in-a-generation bad that many critics enjoyed piling onto. And this comes from someone who hasn’t ever liked the Fantastic Four concept (except when “The Venture Bros.” riffed it). While it boasted a climax that seemed borrowed from a 1980s straight-to-video cheesefest, the acting that came before it was solid. “Fantastic Four” kept your attention, even if it ultimately had no clue what to do with it. That makes it bad, but not one of the worst movies of 2015.
Without any further ado, here are the five worst of 2015:
Despite Emilia Clarke’s determined riff on Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s continued late growth as an actor, “Terminator: Genisys” has got to be the most nonsensical time travel movie in history. Now, you can make up almost anything you want in a time travel movie and get away with it. The only real rule you have to follow is being consistent with the rules you make up for yourself. It’s not that hard, but “Terminator: Genisys” didn’t even do that.
Yet “Terminator: Genisys” (or as I call it, “Terminator: Spellcheck”) disobeys the one rule the entire series is based on. If Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese die before they conceive their savior of a son, John Connor, then John Connor can still somehow magically exist anyway. Why? John Connor even rhetorically asks this at one point. The answer: Because. Because why? I don’t know, it’s in the script.
It’s all weighed down by subpar action scenes overloaded with gummy CGI. At one point, the new Terminator is suddenly chasing the heroes in a helicopter, despite the heroes having stolen the only helicopter. How’d he get it? I don’t know, it’s in the script. Even the climax feels badly ripped off from a “Resident Evil” movie, just without the self-aware B-movie deadpan. “Terminator: Genisys” is simply insulting to its audience. It asks you to believe what it puts on-screen even if it doesn’t give you a reason. It stands on the shoulders of its predecessors, yet with no concern about how it got there.
Where to even start? Nicolas Cage and Hayden Christensen (everyone’s least favorite Jedi) decided to make a movie together. They play crusaders in the middle ages who run away to China. Nic Cage’s approach to acting here is to unhinge his jaw every time a word ends with a vowel. He alternates between Canadian, Irish and pirate accents. He’s lost an eye, but there’s no make-up to communicate this. Instead, he just squints one eye the whole time and hopes it fools the viewers (it doesn’t).
Oh, and he scratches his beard with snakes he keeps coiled around his arms. Don’t worry, though, this is the height of Cage being so bad he’s good. Unfortunately, the film follows Hayden Christensen’s drug addict crusader on downers in a very boring save-the-princess story. He collects a party as if he’s in the worst Bioware game ever made. An actual Canadian actor, he alternates between Tatooine Bronx and Irish brogue.
The kung fu scenes are accompanied with Chilean panpipe music. Scenes change from lush forest to sandy desert in the space of a day, although in fairness to the director, this could just be a metaphor for Christensen’s acting career. “Outcast” isn’t unwatchable. It’s actually disturbingly watchable, but you will feel terrible about yourself as a human being afterward.
The story of a young man who’s trained to become a British secret agent, this will be the inclusion that splits readers. Any kind of political agenda pushed too hard in a film – liberal or conservative – can ruin that film. While it boasts a charming first half and some stellar fight choreography, “Kingsman: The Secret Service” is a conservative film that wants to beat you about the head with how conservative it is (in a British conservative sense; it’s certainly not kind to the American religious right either).
The point is “Kingsman: The Secret Service” poses people of color (including President Barack Obama) as conspirators toward ending the world. It poses women as simple sex rewards or useful only because they’re skilled at betrayal. It poses white men who treat women as sex objects as the only ones who really know what’s going on.
Even bad messages can still sustain a well-made movie. “Kingsman” certainly has its moments, but it becomes so obsessed with telling you what other spy movies do wrong, it barely gets around to doing what it wants to do on its own…which is pretty much all the things it just told you other spy movies do wrong. And all that’s before mentioning the awkward, five minute McDonald’s commercial in the middle of it.
As this year’s “Unfriended” showed audiences, found-footage horror is an undervalued genre ripe for experimentation. Unfortunately, the lack of value studios place on it still means many found-footage movie are released with a profound lack of craftsmanship.
When four Nebraska high school students break into their school after hours, they encounter a ghost determined to finish the school play they’re trying to vandalize. From hate-worthy characters to completely arbitrary ghost powers, “The Gallows” fails to capture anything even remotely scary.
Shaky camera shots of the floor while characters argue off-screen abound, making an 81-minute film feel overly long. Worse yet, these shots are mixed together with no sense of editing. Despite following only four characters, it’s remarkably easy to lose track of which ones are grouped together and where. The editing is that bad. There’s just no sense of cogency to the entire movie. It got to the point where I kept hoping Jared Padelecki and Jensen Ackles would pop into the school spraying holy water and reciting Latin, revealing it all to be a subpar “Supernatural” episode. Alas, no such luck.
If you want to see a movie where a donkey projectile-shits all over a wall for 10 seconds, this is your film. If you want to see a movie where Apache women don’t want Apache men because they only want the white man in their tribe, this is your film. If you want to see a movie where a Native American actor, a Mexican character and said donkey have sex while a white actor playing a white man looks on disapprovingly at the animal sex antics the film jokes people of color engage in, this is your film.
Look, even without all that, “The Ridiculous 6” is one of the laziest films Adam Sandler has ever made. He seems not to care about much more than cashing a paycheck at this point in his career. It’s disappointing, since his earlier work mixed crude humor with actual enthusiasm. Yet despite Netflix paying Sandler’s way and lending his film better production values than he’s usually gotten, he’s sleepwalking through this film.
This is a satire without any actual satire (aside from 5 decent minutes making fun of baseball). Instead, “The Ridiculous 6” perpetuates and exacerbates every worst racial stereotype that’s been put to film about Native Americans and Mexicans. It plays these stereotypes not for criticism (a la “South Park”) but rather for laughs. I’m sure “The Ridiculous 6” would’ve killed in some parts during the 1950s. Today, it’s shameful, and the film built around this hate is a cinematic failure to boot. That’s the rare combination that makes a film the worst of its year.