Most years are mixed bags for movies. 2016 is no different and studios spared no expense to hype us all up. They always have our ever-thinning wallets in their sights. I'm always 100% guilty of taking the bait and this year, I have some regrets to share.
Most of the following disappointing flicks are on their way to home video soon if they haven't achieved that status already. In the interest of saving you wonderful overextended 21st century citizens some time and money, I'm going to be a good samaritan.
Before you make tacos for the next movie night in your living room, you can use this guide for knowing what movies you should absolutely avoid! After all, taco shells are not getting any cheaper these days.
This is my first in the new series of rapidly digestible lightning reviews that will henceforth be known as Curry Bites.
I realize that 2016 is not over yet but I am publishing this article before Thanksgiving since I'm fairly confident that neither Disney's Moana, Passengers nor Star Wars: Rogue One will displease me as much as these losers below have.
List of Losers for 2016 (Bland and Blander)
1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
Look. Unlike many movie buffs, I am not actually a big Michael Bay hater. He has made some of my favorite action movies. Yet, giving him the keys to the TMNT franchise was a mistake and I seriously hope that a more nuanced filmmaker takes over the Transformers franchise as well. I was greatly disappointed by the first movie in this reboot series. The focus was too much on Megan Fox's April O'Neil and not the hip sewer-dwelling pizza-eating creatures we paid to see. The backstory connecting our heroes and giant rodent martial arts mentor (Splinter) to their arch-enemy, Shredder, was also an after-thought. This sequel made a few improvements. Namely, the Turtles were back in the spotlight of their own movie. Popular dimwitted villainous underlings Bebop and Rocksteady also made their first live-action debuts in order to appease old school fans. However, the final product was still crappy. Plot-wise, things just happen. Mega baddie evil brain Krang randomly shows up from a different dimension in a cyborg body and starts ordering Shredder around after saving the latter from prison (After all, when you want to conquer an entire planet, a single ninja master is all that you need, right?!). The entire plot is on fast-forward in the quickest possible setting with distracting CGI being thrown everywhere. Stephen Amell is wasted as Casey Jones since this is not the big break in movies that his Arrow fanbase was hoping for. There is no room to breathe. The original ninja turtles movie from 1990 remains the standard for doing this franchise right since the focus was on character relationships with satisfying action scenes to boot. It entertained both adults and kids while still being watchable today. Since I happened to enjoy my margarita while viewing this at a dine-in theater, I will be generous and raise my rating by half of a chili pepper.
Curry Rating: 1.5 out of 5 Chili Peppers
2. Independence Day: Resurgence
Unlike the Fresh Prince when he moved to Bel-Air, a beloved sci fi classic's legacy got flipped-turned upside down in the worst way imaginable this past summer. The original Independence Day was a cinematic milestone when it was released in 1996. Before large-scale alien invasions became permanent fixtures in Hollywood, this created a baseline for others to follow while still being a part of the general disaster movie trend that was the rage in the 90's. Will Smith broke out and became a movie star. Jeff Goldblum, Badass President Bill Pullman, Vivica A. Fox, Randy Quaid and Judd Hirsch all made us care about their characters while watching them survive an armageddon unlike any that movie magic had believably created before. The rah-rah patriotism was a bonus as well for those of us who love apple pie. Yet, this sequel was one of the most boring experiences of my life despite being a proud action movie junkie. The first half was promising but once the aliens returned for revenge against planet Earth, the race was on from one large action set-piece to the next. What should have been major character moments were glossed over as the plot sped along. The studio should have paid Will Smith however much he wanted before greenlighting this project and writing the story around his character. Losing his presence cursed this flick and Goldblum tries his best but couldn't save it without the support of his missing tag-team partner. Much younger actors were tasked with carrying forward this franchise for a new generation and sadly, they failed in their assigned mission to keep the audience entertained and invested in their boring characters. I feel bad for Liam Hemsworth but unlike Loki, he is going to be in older brother Thor's shadow just a little while longer. Maika Monroe should earn some credit for doing the best that she could as ex-President Pullman's daughter. Speaking of Pullman, his character arc was just miserable and not satisfying at all but still light years better than how Vivica A. Fox was treated. Veteran actor Judd Hirsch effortlessly shined in his scenes but it's unfair to expect him to salvage this mess. Brent Spiner also wakes up from a coma to have some fun but the poor soul should have saved his energy for a different party. This is the one movie this year that I really wanted my money back for since unlike my experience of viewing the Ninja Turtles sequel, there was no margarita to provide even me a mild sense of satisfaction.
Curry Rating: 1 out of 5 Chili Peppers
3. X-Men: Apocalypse
The X-Men accelerated my love of comics when I started aggressively reading in the early 90's. I started off as a Marvel zombie and devoured whatever I could. It had felt like writer Chris Claremont and artist Jim Lee changed my life forever at the time. The cartoon that came out further popularized these angst-ridden mutants for fellow Millenials who remember Saturday mornings in the Clinton Era. I was excited for the live-action movie that came in 2000 from director Bryan Singer who had been coasting on good will for giving the world one of the best crime movies of all time, The Usual Suspects. Honestly, I enjoyed it since there was a severe lack of superhero movies during that period and a decent entry in that genre automatically seemed like a new classic. Sure, the colorful costumes from the comic were missing and the unimaginative black suits from the Matrix wardrobe were borrowed for our heroes. Regardless, Hugh Jackman's Wolverine created a new beloved cinematic icon. Patrick Stewart predictably excelled as Professor Charles Xavier and Ian McKellan chewed a lot of delightful scenes with him as his enemy, Magneto. The sequel, X2: X-Men United, was even better. Then, something horrific happened in 2006. It was called X3: The Last Stand. Without spoiling too much, two major story arcs from the comics that deserved their own individual films were awkwardly combined. Major characters were also killed off in the most disrespectful manner possible. Everything revolved around Wolverine instead of the team's flagship character supporting a fleshed-out ensemble like he does in the comics. After 3 movies, the team leader Cyclops was badly screwed over despite the role having a charismatic actor at its disposal in the form of James Marsden. There was hope since the franchise was resurrected with a very entertaining flick in 2011 with X-Men: First Class even though the movie universe's confusing timeline remained. 3 years later, X-Men: Days of Future Past righted many of the wrongs from X3's poor narrative thru the miracle of time travel. Thus, there was reason to be hyped up for X-Men: Apocalypse. In a nutshell, it really wasn't too far off in quality from the literal definition of the title villain's name. Apocalypse is a gigantic god-like being in the comics but here, he seems like a midget doing Ivan Ooze cosplay at the local Power Rangers convention at the YMCA. Going up to random mutants and calling them "my child" only gives him extra points in the creeper department. Despite having a large cast, everyone feels wasted. Michael Fassbender was marvelous as a younger Magneto in the previous two X-flicks but here, his inclusion is an insult to everything his character was supposed to embody when he is made an underling to midget Apocalypse. Like the laughable main villain, long-time director Bryan Singer is stuck in the past when in contrast, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (i.e. all of the Avengers-related flicks along with Guardians of the Galaxy and more recently, Doctor Strange) has moved the entire genre forward by openly embracing many of the colorful elements that fans love from the comics while keeping the modern movie audience entertained worldwide. Singer only throws in characters to showcase their powers instead of their unique personalities. In Captain America: Civil War, the focus was on the personalities first despite having a similarly crowded cast as well and the movie turned out to be one of the superhero genre's all-time best, as a result. Fox Studios also forced Mystique to be a main character only because she is played by Jennifer Lawrence. Mystique is nowhere near as important to the X-Men stories in the comics and J-Law looks bored as ever here. Hugh Jackman's Wolverine cameo is one of the few saving graces. Out of all of the new actors added to the franchise, Tye Sheridan deserves a shout-out as a rebellious teenage version of Cyclops since he commands attention with his readily transparent enthusiasm. Kodi-Smit McPhee also has screen presence as a shy inexperienced Nightcrawler. All in all, if Fox executives want to keep the X-Men movie franchise moving along, they should look to Deadpool for inspiration.
Curry Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Chili Peppers (barely mild)
Confession. I have never played a single Warcraft game before. However, I embarked on a quest with friends who were hardcore fans to check out the long-awaited live-action adaptation on the big screen. It has so far been the only instance in my life when I was the least nerdy member of the group while going to the movies with my buddies. Their take: they hated it and felt like it spat on everything they cherished about the game! As an enthusiast of the fantasy genre, I wanted to like it but I was just very,very bored and absolutely could not wait for the movie to be over. The Hobbit movie trilogy may have been flawed in many ways (especially in comparison to the masterpiece Lord of the Rings films) but I was always entertained at the very least. Director Duncan Jones (aka son of David Bowie!) tries to show both sides of the war between the monstrous Horde and the human-dominated Alliance. The Horde's narrative is passable but on the human side, there is way too much going on to feel connected to any of the sub-plots. The characters are almost forgettable despite an earnest attempt by Ben Schnetzer as the rebellious mage, Khadgar. The plot is rushed. It's almost as if they were trying to cram at least two movies into one. Knowing what happens at the very end of the movie, the entire story seems pointless. I really do feel bad for Duncan Jones. His previous two projects were well received (Moon and Source Code) since he is one of the most talented young directors working in Hollywood today. Unfortunately, this is a misfire on his resume but I hope that he bounces back.
Curry Rating: 1.5 out of 5 Chili Peppers
Yes. I know. It is unfair to include a movie on this list that may never happen. That being said, this movie was on Fox's calendar for 2016. Channing Tatum was the driving force behind this project. I've grown to like Tatum over the years but I still struggle picturing him with a Cajun accent and pulling off the toned physique of the character from the comics. I have always been a huge fan of Gambit's ever since I started reading the X-Men comics. I prefer a French (or French-Canadian) actor taking on the role instead of Tatum. Despite the initial hype, the movie quietly disappeared from the release schedule. To add insult to injury, the movie's director, Doug Liman, abandoned the project in favor of Justice League Dark in the competing DC Universe. So, without a doubt, this is 2016's biggest loser. If the movie actually gets released in the future, I'll give it a fair review.
Curry Rating: Don't have the heart to give Zero Chili Peppers in this case (empty stomach)
Here's hoping that 2017's worst movies are less painful.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.