Every single year, there will always be good and bad movies. But let’s talk about the latter. Here are my Top 10 Worst Movies of 2019 that I have seen over the last 12 months.
10. Angel Has Fallen
While the first two Fallen movies (2013’s Olympus Has Fallen and 2016’s London Has Fallen) reminiscent of B-grade versions of Die Hard series, at least they invested enough fun and energy into them (yes, even the xenophobia-heavy second film). But franchise newcomer Ric Roman Waugh takes thing too seriously in Angel Has Fallen — a far cry from the first two movies that tries to distinguish itself with The Fugitive-like vibe. And yet, the result is nothing more than a tedious action movie struggling to cross the finish line. Speaking of action, most of them are shot in the dark or suffers from dim lighting and despite a reportedly US$80 million budget, it’s kind of odd that some of the CG and green-screen work look shockingly amateurish.
9. 6 Underground
Netflix figured it must be a good idea to grant Michael Bay a US$150 million budget to make an overblown fetish of an action film. And so, Bay throws in every visual trick he can think of — flipping vehicles, loud explosions, stylised slow-motion moments and whole lots of graphic violence. It’s all sound and fury. The kind that clearly wants you to sit back and just enjoy the ride. And yet, the balls-to-the-wall action sequences alone aren’t enough to justify its entire whole, with the movie largely hampered by forgettable performances (not even Ryan Reynolds can save the day) and paper-thin storyline. (Read my full review here)
Brian De Palma has done a few misfires before in his decades-long directing career, with Mission to Mars (2000) and The Black Dahlia (2006) being the prime examples. Now, added to his list of bad films is the long-delayed Domino. The movie stars not one but two Game of Thrones alumni Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Carice van Houten in forgettable performances while De Palma’s direction feels like it belongs to a bargain-basement, direct-to-DVD material. (Read my full review here)
A live-action remake like Dumbo should have been right in Tim Burton’s wheelhouse, given the fact it deals with the familiar theme of a social outcast. He even assembled a stellar cast including Colin Farrell, Eva Green, Michael Keaton and Danny DeVito — the latter two previously collaborated in 1992’s Batman Returns. But other than the lifelike CG creation of Dumbo and some of Burton’s signature kooky visuals (the hallucinogenic “pink elephant” sequence comes to mind), the movie suffers from Ehren Kruger’s surface-level storytelling and shockingly average performances all around. (Read my full review here)
Luc Besson’s much-anticipated return to a female-driven action thriller should have been something worth looking forward to. After all, he’s the one who popularised the aforementioned genre seen in 1990’s La Femme Nikita and 2014’s Lucy. But Besson’s ill-advised narrative approach in utilising non-linear time jumps and complex storytelling is clearly out of his element. And despite enlisting the appropriately icy Sasha Luss as the eponymous assassin who looks great in her physically-demanding role, Anna can only muster up a few sporadically thrilling moments.
5. Charlie’s Angels
This so-called continuation from the first two McG-directed movies (the OG trio of Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu are referenced) is pretty much a soft reboot-in-disguise. At first glance, bringing an all-new Charlie’s Angels movie to the big screen after lying dormant for 16 years seems like perfect timing, especially given today’s attention-grabbing importance of feminism. But writer-director Elizabeth Banks botches the way she tries to inject female empowerment into the movie. She clearly doesn’t have the necessary directing flair to execute a good, let alone decent spy movie. It doesn’t help either when Kristen Stewart is totally miscast as one of the new Angels. Her same old blank-faced expression is on full display here, even after spending the last few years improving her acting skills seen in acclaimed indie films like Clouds of Sils Maria (2014) and Personal Shopper (2016). (Read my full review here)
4. The Fanatic
This is the second time in the row after last year’s embarrassing misfire of Gotti that John Travolta trying to challenge himself as an actor. Here, he tackles a mentally-challenged role of Moose, the titular fanatic who worshipped his action hero Hunter Dunbar (Devon Sawa). In what could have been a gripping character study of one man’s obsession in the vein of The Fan (1996) meets Misery (1990), writer-director Fred Durst (yes, that Fred Durst the frontman from Limp Bizkit!) fails miserably to make a valid point out of it. Throughout the movie, there is no attempt on the psychological insight or anything cohesive about character development whatsoever. It’s just as flat and mean-spirited as it goes, complete with unnecessarily gratuitous violence towards the end that feels oddly out of place. As for Travolta himself, for all his effort attempting to pull off such a role, he comes across as unintentionally campy and ridiculous.
3. Black Christmas
A second remake nobody asked for, co-writer and director Sophia Takal took the slasher route of the 1974 original and gave it a timely #MeToo feminist spin. But the tame P13 (PG-13) rating is clearly a mistake from the get-go, which ended up diluting whatever intensity of how a true horror movie should be. The movie is also plagued with Takal’s limp direction and her penchant for on-the-nose dialogues about everything from rape culture to toxic masculinity do not help matters either. Then, there’s the introduction of the silly (and laughably supernatural) occult-like fraternity, complete with hoods and robes and masquerade masks straight out from Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut (!).
I can’t believe this is actually Steven Knight’s work. The same filmmaker who wrote excellent screenplays including Dirty Pretty Things (2002) and Eastern Promises (2007). On paper, Serenity sounds like a surefire hit that has an A-list cast (Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway) and an intriguing neo-noir thriller setup. But the movie itself is an epic mess, beginning with the self-serious Moby Dick-like ripoff (Matthew McConaughey’s misguided Captain Ahab-like Baker Dill dedicated his time trying to catch the elusive giant tuna nicknamed “Justice”). Knight even shamelessly borrowed the 1944 black-and-white film noir classic of Double Indemnity and had Anne Hathaway playing a cartoonish version of femme fatale. Then, it gets worse from there as Knight suddenly goes full gonzo with the most outlandish twist I’ve ever seen in years. The kind of twist that totally derails whatever deceptive storytelling the movie has been trying to pull off in the first place.
Apparently, in this kitty litter of a big-budget musical,
all dogs selected cat will go to heaven — or Heaviside Layer, to be exact — if one of their songs touches the heart of Old Deuteronomy (Judi Dench). Think of it as a cat version of American Idol and you’ll roughly get the idea. This is the kind of story that demands our suspension of disbelief. And that’s actually okay if the movie can excel just enough in other areas. But Tom Hooper’s cinematic version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1981 long-running musical of Cats suffers tremendously from hideous-looking CG humanoid cats and even a few unintentionally queasy moments, thanks to Rebel Wilson’s appearance as the chubby orange tabby Jennyanydots. (Read my full review here)