As a film critic, I get to pick and choose which movies I see, which usually means that I steer clear of obvious stinkers like Playing with Fire, Rambo: Last Blood, or Men in Black: International. But sometimes seeing a bad movie is unavoidable, and sometimes a movie that's expected to be good goes bad for a multitude of reasons. If you have not already had the misfortune of seeing any of the following 10 films, I recommend not seeking them out.
10) IT: Chapter Two
This sequel mostly focused on the adult versions of the kids from the hit 2017 film. An unintended consequence of the transition from childhood to adulthood is that Pennywise the clown comes across as merely strange instead of scary. Also, clocking in at 2 hours and 49 minutes, the film is much too long to be effective, letting all the air out of Pennywise's menacing red balloon. Despite the presence of bold-faced names like James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, and Bill Hader, the film just doesn't work as intended.
No one goes into a Godzilla movie expecting high art, but it’s still stunning how incoherent the movie truly is. The epic clashes are a mish-mash of special effects where it’s next to impossible to tell what’s going on until the battle is over. And with the film filled to the brim with acting talent, the whole thing feels like even more of a waste.
8) Gloria Bell
Gloria Bell was one of the better-reviewed movies of the first half of the year, and for the life of me, I can't figure out why. It's one of the slowest and most confounding movies in recent memory. Julianne Moore can usually make even the worst movie watchable, but this one is a slog that wastes the talents of Moore and her many recognizable co-stars.
Writer/director M. Night Shyamalan got back into our good graces with 2017's Split, but he squandered that goodwill with this sequel. His impulse to keep things secretive instead of playing a story straight does not serve his grandiose ideas well. James McAvoy makes his second appearance on this list, but he's the only good thing about the film. He delivers an Oscar-worthy performance in service of a film that doesn’t deserve that type of talent.
6) Gemini Man
Double the Will Smith is not double the fun in this bland and uninteresting movie. The hit-and-miss technique of de-aging actors misses to a huge degree here, as Smith's younger clone looks less like the Fresh Prince and more like a creepy doll that’s been animated. Big ideas can sometimes get in the way of good judgment, and despite all the talent involved (including director Ang Lee), hardly anything about this movie works.
5) Dark Phoenix
Dark Phoenix is perhaps the least exciting X-Men film, as the beats of the story seem more dutiful than anything else. The biggest problem is that the film doesn't build up any kind of true enmity, so the heroes don't seem to be fighting for anything of importance. Poor James McAvoy makes his third and final appearance on this list, with the only saving grace that each of the franchises with which he's involved have now finished, leaving him with the ability to choose better projects.
It's difficult for a documentary to make a list like this, but the method that director Victor Kossakovsky uses in his filmmaking led to one of the most frustrating and assaulting movie experiences of my life. The overwhelming atmospheric sound and occasional heavy metal music make the movie a test of endurance for the viewer. On the visual side, many shots are in close-up, giving viewers no context of the power of water the film is trying to demonstrate.
3) Wonder Park
This misguided animated film attempts to wring emotion out of a plot point involving a sick mom and sad kid. But in a film that supposedly is all about the unlimited boundaries of a child’s imagination, adding on a heavy element that stifles creativity is unnecessary and burdensome. Despite some fun and unique animal characters, the film has an overall lack of clarity that only gets murkier the more you watch it.
Adam Driver has had quite the year. He wrapped up his turn in the Star Wars universe, starred in one of the best films of the year, and headlined this completely nonsensical movie. This zombie film from writer/director Jim Jarmusch could be called a character study, but that would mean that it contains actual noteworthy characters. Jarmusch is known for his deadpan humor, but the film - unlike the zombies - dies a slow death thanks to the dryness of the comedy he employs.
Almost every step of the way, it feels as if writer/director Neil Jordan has no idea how to tell his own story. There is very little mystery to the plot and, once the film moves in that direction, the scariness pales in comparison to any halfway decent horror in recent memory. Despite a relatively short running time of 98 minutes, the film moves at a plodding pace, with scenes so clumsily executed that they come off as laughable. Even the normally reliable Chloë Grace Moretz and Isabelle Huppert can't make this awful film work.