10. The Snowman
Originally scheduled for early December in our local cinemas, the distributor (United International Pictures) behind The Snowman has since quietly removed it from its release date. After all, it’s easy to see why. Once upon a time, The Snowman is positioned as one of the highly-anticipated thrillers that boast both high-profile onscreen and offscreen talents. That includes a star-studded international cast of Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg and J.K. Simmons. The behind-the-scenes crew are equally first-rate, with the involvements of Let the Right One In and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy director Tomas Alfredson, Martin Scorsese’s regular editor Thelma Schoonmaker along with Collateral and Memoirs of a Geisha cinematographer Dion Beebe. At one point, Scorsese himself was attached to direct but reduced his role as one of the executive producers instead. The movie itself happens to be based on the best-selling novel by Jo Nesbø. So, what went wrong? Apparently, a lot. Despite all the talents combined, watching The Snowman is like forced to drive slowly on a slippery road. The pace slogs with little tension and an adapted screenplay that are haphazardly put together by Peter Straughan, Hossein Amini and Søren Sveistrup. Even Michael Fassbender himself is looking lost in the movie playing an alcoholic Oslo detective, Harry Hole. The “guess-who-is-the-killer” mystery angle isn’t that particularly interesting once you learn the truth.
9. Daddy’s Home 2
Like it or not, the daddies are back. And if that’s not enough, more daddies (granddads, to be exact) are added in the sequel. Even with the inclusion of Mel Gibson and John Lithgow manage to deliver some decent performances from their respective granddad performances, Daddy’s Home 2 suffers the same mistake as the first movie back in 2015. Most of the jokes are as flat as a pancake and even the physical gags are largely rehashed from the original. (Read my full review here).
8. Birth of the Dragon
This movie is supposed to serve the legendary fight between the pre-fame Bruce Lee and disgraced Shaolin disciple Wong Jack Man that took place in 1964. And yet, director George Nolfi alongside screenwriters Christopher Wilkinson and Stephen J. Rivele are largely disrespecting the title of the movie. What’s the point of calling this “Birth of the Dragon” if Philip Ng’s Bruce Lee role is shockingly reduced to a secondary character? Sure, the movie still features that aforementioned fight. But too bad the fight itself is a disappointment.
Let’s face it, the 11-season Baywatch TV series isn’t a high art of any kind. But the series sure wears its guilty-pleasure entertainment of sun, sea, girls and hunks like a badge of honour. So, when the long-gestating big screen version of Baywatch finally arrived this summer, it was supposed to be fun. But the decision to make this into an R-rated territory like 21 Jump Street turns out to be a colossal mistake after all. Throwing all kinds of F-bombs and penis jokes hardly mean a thing if the jokes fail to hit the target. Not even the calibre of Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron and Priyanka Chopra can save this big-screen reboot from sinking to the bottom of the ocean. (Read my full review here).
6. The Emoji Movie
Blame it on The Lego Movie three years ago. They certainly proved that even a popular blocky toy can generate a box-office hit if done right. Then came The Angry Birds Movie last year, which also proved that a mobile game series turned into a movie can make money as well. So, why not The Emoji Movie? Besides, everyone who owns a smartphone knows about the emoji icons that we regularly used to communicate from Facebook to WhatsApp messages. Unfortunately, like the movie itself, this otherwise colourful animated comedy is as meh as that “meh” emoji protagonist voiced by T.J. Miller. Kids might enjoy this better. But to me, The Emoji Movie is more like a shameless by-product of various apps promotions (read: product placements) that includes Candy Crush Saga, Instagram and even Dropbox.
5. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
It’s about time to give this franchise a rest. Despite spearheaded by Paul W.S. Anderson himself in this so-called Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, he doesn’t even bother to go all out with a bang. Instead, he hits an all-time low with messy editing and jittery camerawork. The 41-year-old Milla Jovovich still deserves a praise for committing such a physically-demanding performance as the lead protagonist, Alice. It’s just too bad she is ill-served by Anderson’s uninspired direction and an equally generic screenplay structured like your average video game. (Read my full review here).
4. Amityville: The Awakening
From reshoots to constant reshuffling release dates way back in early 2015, the long-delayed Amityville: The Awakening is one of the prime examples of how to make a bad horror movie. Despite the involvement of P2 and Maniac director Franck Khalfoun, this so-called modern revival of The Amityville Horror franchise is awfully generic. The movie relies so heavily on cheap and random jump scares. It’s a shame that veteran actress Jennifer Jason Leigh is reduced to an underwritten role, while Bella Thorne is nothing more than a distracting eye candy complete with goth makeup and skimpy clothes. (Read my full review here).
3. Fifty Shades Darker
More like Fifty Shades Lamer. With the first movie’s director Sam Taylor-Johnson already out of the picture, the sequel’s replacement — James Foley (At Close Range, Glengarry Glen Ross) — should have been a better choice. Unfortunately, that is hardly a case. Both Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan continue to dominate the screen with their bland performances. Even the sex scenes this time are disappointingly more flaccid than the one showcased in Fifty Shades of Grey.
2. The Book of Henry
Colin Trevorrow, the San Francisco director who shot to fame from an indie sensation in Safety Not Guaranteed (2012) to a big-time director who made one of the most financially-successful Hollywood blockbusters of all-time in Jurassic World (2015). His success ultimately paid off when he got an offer he couldn’t refuse: a chance to direct Star Wars IX. Then, The Book of Henry happens. Written by crime novelist Gregg Hurwitz back in 1998, the story begins like a vintage Amblin-like production with Jaeden Lieberher playing the titular role of an 11-year-old boy genius. But the movie turns out to be a weird mess of misguided proportion. I’m fine with all the genre mishmash as long as they are done right. But Trevorrow’s direction and Hurwitz’s screenplay are unbelievably bad in its execution. Once the second act shifted gear into a “disease-of-the-week” melodrama, it grows increasingly mawkish. The movie shifted gear again with a preposterous thriller-like route where Naomi Watts takes over as Henry’s incompetent mom to fulfil… his dead son’s last wishes to assassinate their abusive next-door neighbour played by Dean Norris! No, really. I’m not making this up. The movie even goes as far as Watts’ character ending up buying a high-calibre sniper rifle and learn how to shoot. My reaction: What the actual f*** am I watching?
1. Transformers: The Last Knight
Why, Michael Bay, why? With more than US$250 million budget at his disposal and a chance to shoot 98% with IMAX cameras, Transformers: The Last Knight should have been a hugely entertaining summer blockbuster. Instead, it turns out to be the worst Transformers entry ever seen so far, beating out 2009’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen by a large margin! The word “coherence” is certainly out of the question when comes to structuring a so-called worldbuilding plot that combines the Arthurian legend and the Nazi era. The plot is a giant mess. Even Sir Anthony Hopkins has to keep a straight face while delivering a long-winded monologue related to the movie’s title. The large-scale action sequences fare even worse this time around, complete with epilepsy-inducing camerawork. You can imagine how tortured I felt when I watched this at the IMAX 3D cinema. (Read my full review here).
(DIS)HONOURABLE MENTIONS (in alphabetical order)
Another Texas Chainsaw Massacre, another prequel. Just how many prequels this franchise needs anyway? Jonathan Liebesman has already done it once in 2006’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. And frankly, that prequel did a better job than this mean-spirited yet lifeless effort directed by Inside filmmaking duo Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo. Leatherface does pack plenty of gore, violence and nihilism but none of them really impacted much. (Read my full review here).
2. The Adventurers
In this loose remake of John Woo’s Once a Thief starring Chow Yun-Fat, Leslie Cheung and Cherie Chung, Stephen Fung’s star-studded caper is all empty gloss with little credibility. Despite sporting exotic European locations and an inspiring cast consisting of Andy Lau, Shu Qi and Jean Reno, The Adventurers is surprisingly lifeless and dare I say… boring. Fung’s uninspired direction made things worst with a series of mediocre action sequences.
3. The Crucifixion
The once-acclaimed French director who made the blood-soaked Frontier(s) has accomplished the impossible: by making a possession horror drama into a comatose-inducing piece of work. Despite the fact it was written by Chad and Carey W. Hayes of The Conjuring team, Xavier Gens seems to be in an autopilot mode when he directs The Crucifixion. The 90-minute running time feels like an eternity, complete with a sluggish plot and poorly-timed jump scares. And poor Sophie Cookson. She has already wasted in Kingsman: The Golden Circle and her first leading role in this movie fail to make good use of her. (Read my full review here).
4. The Mummy
Universal Pictures’ ambitious attempt to revive their classic movie monsters with their own Dark Universe hits a stumbling block in The Mummy. The introduction of a female mummy antagonist played by Sofia Boutella is actually a refreshing change of pace. But her role is nothing more than your standard-issue villain, while Tom Cruise’s lead protagonist suffers from a sketchy performance. Despite his usual dedication to committing high-profile stunt such as the early plane crash sequence, he does little to salvage the movie.
5. The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature
A sequel that nobody asked for. But given its US$120 million total grosses over a US$42 million budget from the first movie, why the hell not, right? At least director Cal Brunker manages to improve upon the first movie’s shoddy animation. But that’s hardly enough. The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature is nothing more than a series of loud cartoons filled with Looney Tunes-like slapsticks. (Read my full review here).