The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan

"THE TEN WORST FILMS OF 2015"

The Ten Worst Films of 2015

As my list of the Ten Best Films of 2015 proves, this was a very good year for movies. That doesn't mean there wasn't an excess of junk, though. There most certainly was, and it's time to take one final look back at the stuff that will hopefully vanish from my mind as soon as I finish writing about it here.

I'm going to stick to big Hollywood movies. Since its inception in 1995, The Aisle Seat has always had an equal focus on independent movies. Some of the true worst films of the year are little pictures few have heard of, like Old Fashioned, Harbinger Down, Frank the Bastard, Closer to God, Felt, See You In Valhalla, Americons and, especially, Electric Slide. What's the point in picking on them, though? It's more fun to take a shot at the stuff that promised fun to millions and then failed to deliver.

A few really bad movies just barely escaped inclusion. The runners-up to this list are Jupiter Ascending, Hot Pursuit, Max, Pan and Aloha. Let's not speak of them again.

Here, then, are my picks for the Ten Worst Films of 2015:

10. Chappie - Writer/director Neill Blomkamp apparently couldn't decide whether he wanted to make a cute robot comedy like Short Circuit or a gritty, violent robot action picture like RoboCop. His solution was to make both simultaneously, leading to a film whose tone shifts annoyingly from scene to scene. Points further deducted for the casting of obnoxious rap group Die Antwoord as the villains. Their utter lack of screen presence / acting ability stops the movie dead in its tracks whenever they show up, which is often.

9. Terminator Genisys - The latest, and most desperate, installment in the long-running franchise plays like the worst piece of fan fiction ever created. After the failures of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and Terminator Salvation, the producers obviously have no clue what fans want from the series anymore, so they trot out endless contrived callbacks to the original and its super-popular first sequel. As such, Terminator Genisys never has a life of its own. It feels beholden to its predecessors, which makes it a real bore.

8. Fifty Shades of Grey - A thinly veiled, stunningly offensive rape fantasy about a young woman who allows a creepy guy to have his way with her because he's rich and good-looking. Why so many women have taken to this story, in both book and movie form, is beyond me. It's got a terrible message, on top of a lot of silly sexual drama. Fifty Shades has an equally disturbing subtext, which says that victims of sexual abuse shouldn't get therapy or professional help; they should just find someone willing to be their victim instead. Screw this movie, and screw E.L. James.

7. Fantastic Four - Hard to believe this movie could make you nostalgic for those cheesy Jessica Alba/Michael Chiklis F4 movies, but it does. Director Josh Trank has publicly claimed his version got butchered by the studio. Whether or not that's true doesn't matter, because this is the cut we got saddled with. This is practically an anti-superhero movie. The main characters don't even become the Fantastic Four until almost the end, and the villain's motives are so hazy that there doesn't seem to be much for them to fight against. This movie is Catwoman-level bad.

6. By the Sea - Angelina Jolie Pitt wrote, directed, and stars (alongside husband Brad) in this homage to European arthouse directors, particularly Michelangelo Antonioni. The problem is, she's no Antonioni. The Pitts play a couple with a strained marriage who sulk and brood while on vacation. It's all incredibly monotonous, with low-stakes drama and an overabundance of moodiness that amounts to nothing. Jolie spends so much time trying to recreate the Antonioni vibe that she completely misses things like plot and characterization.

5. The Gallows - Every worn out, grating “found footage” cliché assembled into one pointless 80-minute package. A bunch of teens are locked in a high school with the ghost of an accidental death victim from decades before. One idiot insists on recording everything. You've seen it all a hundred times before. The Gallows is filmmaking at its most generic.

4. Poltergeist - Remaking Tobe Hooper's effective 1982 Poltergeist was, at best, an iffy idea. Remaking it as a special effects extravaganza was catastrophic. The appeal of the original was in the way it took a fairly conventional paranormal chiller and added a dose of edginess. This new version, directed by Gil Kenan, only adds a bunch of hilariously overwrought CGI that takes away any impact the story might have had. Remember, filmmakers: CGI isn't scary!

3. Jem and the Holograms - A stupid movie about a stupid teenage girl who forms a stupid band with her stupid friends to perform her stupid songs. Based on an '80s cartoon show I've never seen but which looks unspeakably dumb, Jem melds its source material with a Justin Bieber-inspired theme of getting “internet famous.” And there's a robot. In a word, stupid.

2. The Boy Next Door - There is only one conceivable explanation for the existence of this movie: Jennifer Lopez said, “After Parker, What to Expect When You're Expecting and The Back-Up Plan, what can I do to drive the final nail into my film career's coffin?” That has to be it. There is no way anyone looked at this generic Fatal Attraction ripoff and thought it was going to be a good movie. Most of the picture is frustratingly formulaic, with gaps in logic that are head-spinning. The last ten minutes, though, offered me two of the biggest unintentional laughs I've had in ages.

And my choice for the Worst Film of 2015 is:

Mortdecai

1. Mortdecai - Johnny Depp's tiresome weirdo schtick hits a new low in this painfully unfunny “comedy” about an eccentric art dealer trying to locate a stolen painting that may lead to Nazi gold. Black Mass aside, Depp has been coasting in his career for years, relying on silly wigs, makeup, and accents to carry his performances. Mortdecai proves how thin that approach can be. Aside from endless insipid mustache jokes, the movie tries to turn Depp into a modern day Peter Sellers – a role he is most certainly not suited for. Laughless and strained to the point of literally being irritating, Mortdecai is a colossal waste of time and talent (including co-stars Gwyneth Paltrow and Ewan McGregor). Fortunately, the pathetic $7 million box office gross should ensure we never get the planned sequels the filmmakers were clearly hoping for.

And there you have it – the worst of the year. I hope you managed to avoid them. Here's to better movies in 2016.


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