From inept tentpoles to an auteur misfire, laugh-free comedies to a particularly exploitative disaster flick, these were the worst movies of the year.
10. ‘Home Again’
A wan star vehicle for Reese Witherspoon (as a single mother who gets involved with a younger man), Hallie Meyers-Shyer’s directorial debut is also a feeble stab at romantic screwball — a bland simulacrum of the cinematic comfort food her parents, Nancy Meyers and Charles Shyer, have been serving up over the past few decades. Flatly staged, patchily acted and hobbled by a script that substitutes strained cuteness for wit and texture, it’s a feature-length sitcom sans laughs.
9. ‘Queen of the Desert’
Werner Herzog’s passionless trudge traces the life of British explorer Gertrude Bell (Nicole Kidman), whose understanding of Bedouin cultures helped reshape the Arab world in the early 1900s. Like so many Herzogian protagonists, she loses herself in a landscape of solitude that mirrors her state of mind. So why are all those tired camels onscreen not the only ones groaning? Mainly because despite the director’s mission to liberate the poetry in his material by excavating what he has described as “ecstatic truth,” this is a literal, flat epic that keeps telling us of its spiritual dimension without actually generating evidence of it.
Andy Warhol got it wrong. It’s not that everybody will be world-famous for 15 minutes; it’s that all moderately successful, mediocre television shows are destined to be reborn as feature films. The year’s most distressing example attempts to wink knowingly at its inspiration. But a character acknowledging that the proceedings resemble an “entertaining but far-fetched TV show” isn’t enough to make Baywatch anything more than the cynical cash grab that it is. Starring Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron, the movie strains for a vulgarity that never comes remotely close to being funny.
7. ‘Justice League’
The increasingly turgid tales of Batman and Superman — joined, unfortunately for her, by Wonder Woman — trudge along to ever-diminishing returns in this garishly unattractive hodgepodge, which throws a bunch of superheroes into a mix that neither congeals nor makes you want to see more of them in future. Fatigue, repetition and a laborious approach to exposition are the keynotes of the affair, which is also notable for how Ben Affleck, donning the bat suit for the second time, looks like he’d rather be almost anywhere else but here. The audience knows how he feels.
6. ‘The Snowman’
This long-gestating movie adaptation of Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbo’s 2007 literary hit, directed by Swedish left-field hitmaker Tomas Alfredson and starring Michael Fassbender, is a turgid and humorless affair. The cast share zero screen chemistry, much of the dialogue feels like a clunky first draft and the wearily familiar plot is clogged with clumsy loose ends.
5. ‘The Mummy’
Universal tries to get back into the classic-monster biz with the help of Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe in this limp, thrill-free Alex Kurtzman-directed “adventure.” Weirdly out of place, Cruise brings little daring and less charm to the film, though to be fair, his character’s a stiff: an Army sergeant who secretly loots antiquities from Iraqi war zones — a watered-down version of “the irresistible rogue” with all the irresistibility trimmed away.
The planetary disaster film equivalent of a two-hour call to tech support, Dean Devlin’s movie boils down to that classically annoying hail-mary bit of advice: Have you tried shutting it down and rebooting? Big, dumb and boring, it finds the co-writer of Independence Day hoping to start a directing career with the same playbook — but forgetting several rules of the game.
3. ‘The Book of Henry’
Naomi Watts plays the mother of a boy genius who convinces her to undertake an outrageous mission in Colin Trevorrow’s catastrophic genre-hybrid, which begins as a family picture; abruptly becomes a terminal-illness melodrama; then winds up a bizarro thriller with unlikely crimes plotted from beyond the grave — but not before some child-molestation action pitting a defenseless girl against her stepfather, the commissioner of police.
2. ‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’
Luc Besson’s new sci-fi extravaganza, starring Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne as 28th-century operatives racing to save the universe, is an egregiously bloated misfire — unclear, unfun, indecipherable, indigestible and, before long, an excellent sedative; anyone who could clearly lay out what takes place in this narrative in 25 words or less deserves a small prize. This should be a Razzie frontrunner.
There are innumerable stories to be told relating to the heroism displayed by people on 9/11. That makes it all the more unfortunate that Charlie Sheen chose to have his return to dramatic screen acting be this execrable thriller (written and directed by Martin Guigui) about five people trapped in a World Trade Center elevator on that fateful day. It’s a cheapo, exploitative, terribly made disaster movie wrapping itself in the piety of one of the nation’s most tragic events.