2016 was certainly a horribly, terribly bad year for blockbuster movies, which is not sensationalism, it’s true, or maybe it’s not and a lot of them were just disappointing, anyway, I saw five bad ones and that’s bad.
5th Place: Jason Bourne
The original Bourne trilogy changed the way action movies were made. They transformed James Bond into a killing machine and introduced us to the shaky cam, a cinematic technique that to this day, only Paul Greengrass seems to be able to put to good use. So, my expectations were high when he announced his return to the franchise. What we got however was an inoffensive thriller, a few nice scenes, none of which ever came close to the heights that we’d seen before, and the same question that both James Bond and Ethan Hunt had already answered: What does a modern spy even do, when the internet allows total surveillance? For the first time, Jason Bourne was lagging behind his two older brothers.
4th Place: Suicide Squad
If ever there was a movie that visually depicted a studio panicking, it was Suicide Squad (and probably Fant4stic, but I haven’t seen that). Reeling from the lukewarm reception of Batman V. Superman, DC started to make changes, got a trailer company to do an edit of the finished product (alledgedly? I’m not sure, but it would explain why the music cues are never longer than 30 seconds) and just hoped that people wouldn’t notice how messy this film got in the process. They did notice. Suicide Squad was like a tasty-looking meal that turned to ashes in your mouth. Yes, it’s fun to see Will Smith doing the Will Smith thing again (certainly better than when he tries to win an Oscar), and Margot Robbie is the perfect choice for Harley Quinn, but that’s about all the positives that stay with you, while the list of negatives goes all the way from an extremely overhyped and underwhelming Joker to a hula-hooping voodoo-goddess. And what exactly was Katana’s thing again? Rick Flagg kindly tells us it’s stealing souls, but she never does any soul-stealing throughout the movie… And how exactly would a guy with a boomerang stop the next Superman? And, and, and…
3rd Place: Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice
The only reason this is higher on the list than Suicide Squad is one question. How do you mess this up so badly when you’ve had four years since Man of Steel to get it right? This is definitely a better movie than Suicide Squad, and I love Zach Snyder, but it took you four years to introduce the Justice League to us and you do it via E-Mail? I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen it. Also, I guess Lexcorps PR department came up with the names for Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg? It’s such a weird way to introduce them, especially when the movie is otherwise full of extremely interesting weird hints at the future, which might make the film seem muddled and should probably have been dialled back to focus on getting the main conflict (you know, the one from the title) right. I mean, Bruce Wayne wakes up from a nuclear-desert-mutant-Gotham-postapocalypse-Darkseid-dream and then goes on to read an E-Mail about a kid who can run really fast… I just can’t get past that.
2nd Place: X-Men Apocalypse
Ohhhhhhh boy, did this one bug me. It did however divest me of any expectation of quality for Fox’s X-Men franchise. It’s all just luck at this point. Maybe it’s going to be good, maybe it’s going to be bad, the smaller the budget, the better, because then Fox doesn’t get involved as much. Ugggghhhhhh. Shout-out to Michael Fassbender who somehow makes you miss everything that’s wrong about his scenes, at least while you’re watching him. What an actor. Nobody else really manages to rise above the material, and you can almost see the sadness in Oscar Isaac’s eyes, mixed with relief that nobody will ever recognize him in that Power Rangers villain suit, posing with his apocalyptic boy band.
1st Place: Absolutely Fabulous
So I used to regularly visit Sneak Previews at my old cinema, where I saw such gems as Bait 3D, Devil’s Due and Walking on Sunshine, but now that I moved for my studies, the sneak previews often conflict with original language screenings, so I don’t get to go there as much anymore. But one fateful Monday, I decided to visit a Sneak Preview again and yeah… I left after ten minutes. The film started with a runway and for a moment there, I was hoping for Neon Demon, but it turned out to be a cinematic continuation of a British soap opera about two old failed socialites who were so unlikable that I left early, because I couldn’t stomach their inevitable success as they learn some bullshit lesson about love or something.