Every summer has its fair share of awful movies, especially since Hollywood decided to focus most of its energy on sequels, reboots and films based on 1980s toys. But this summer had an unusual amount of absolute disasters. Half-baked sequels nobody wanted, pathetic retreads and an endless glut of superhero films filled up multiplexes all over the country and left audiences disappointed in countless ways. We had our readers select their least favorite movies of the summer. Here are the results.
There aren't a lot of good movies based on video games, but Warcraft seemed to have a lot going for it when Duncan Jones signed on as the director. Jones (the son of David Bowie) made a name for himself by directing 2009's Moon and 2011's Source Code, but he'd never dealt with a movie of this magnitude and he lost control. "Trying to make a movie like Warcraft, and trying to do it in a unique way, you get killed by a death of 1,000 cuts," he said months after it came out. "Not just editing cuts. It's little changes that seem really innocuous… One of the absolute frustrations of making a movie of this scale is that it is impossible to make a movie like this as an independent filmmaker. You have to find a way to squeeze it through the studio bureaucracies.”
Before any movie is made, the studio really needs to say to themselves,"Is there really any reason this movie deserves to exist?" For Ben-Hur the answer was obviously: "No." How could they possibly improve on the 1959 Charlton Heston classic? Older fans that remember the original don't want an enormous IMAX 3D chariot race. Younger people couldn't care less about a sword-and-sandals movie like this. They dumped $100 million into the thing without realizing it would appeal to virtually nobody.
The 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot surprised some industry analysts by becoming a genuine hit, grossing nearly $500 million. Money like that means a sequel is an absolute guarantee, and sure enough less than two years later, we were given another one. This time around, the Ninja Turtles battle not just Shredder, but also Bebop and Rocksteady. Yawn. Haven't we seen this many, many times before? It grossed less than half of the first one, but still pulled a profit. The actors all signed on for three movies, so it's quite possible we're all going to do this again come 2018.
When the Elle Fanning thriller Neon Demon premiered at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, it was greeted by just about as many boos as cheers. The critics were equally polarized and It has a 53 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Without giving too much away, it's about a teenage model that moves from Georgia to Los Angeles and winds up involved with some very disturbed individuals. It builds to an extremely bloody and disturbing climax. This isn't to be seen by people easily grossed out.
Daniel Radcliffe deserves a lot of credit. He made enough money from Harry Potter that he could have either not worked again for the rest of his life, or simply took on a big budget project every couple of years. Instead, he's worked tirelessly in the theater world and in a series of bizarre, low-budget indie films. Swiss Army Man may be the strangest one of the lot. He plays a bloated corpse that washes up on a deserted island and is discovered by Paul Dano. Oh yeah, the corpse farts a lot and spews out drinkable water. It's about as weird as a movie can get.
It's probably way too early to say such a thing, but it's possible that we've reached peak comic book movie. That may sound crazy considering the fact that Captain America: Civil War grossed $1.15 billion, but that's significantly less than Iron Man 3 and both Avengers movies. It's ostensibly a Captain America film, but nearly all of the important Avengers (with the exception of the Hulk) appear in it. It's about a rift that occurs within the Avengers when there's a UN proposal to oversee their actions. Iron Man thinks that's a fine idea, but Captain America does not. Lines are drawn. There are fights. The stage is set for yet another sequel.
X-Men: Apocalypse is the ninth film to feature the mutant superheroes in the past 16 years. Seeing this one without any knowledge of the previous ones would be like wandering into a Federico Fellini movie nine-tenths of the way through and trying to understand the plot. It would seem like complete gibberish. By this point in the X-Men universe, there's been a lot of time travel and many of the characters have younger doubles. It's very, very complicated. It still made $543.5 million, but that's much less than X-Men: Days of Future Past did just two years earlier.
Who could have ever imagined that a Ghostbusters reboot would become yet another fight in the culture wars? But when they announced it would feature an all-female crew of Ghostbusters, a bunch of online trolls emerged to tear it to pieces. There was even a campaign to get a million people to vote "dislike" on the YouTube trailer. The fight inspired about 10,000 think pieces, though when the movie finally hit it was largely greeted with a shrug. Most critics said the actresses were great, but the movie just didn't bring enough laughs or excitement. It grossed $227.6 million, but that probably wasn't enough to pull a profit or get a sequel.
Had a sequel to Independence Day hit theaters sometime around 1999 it would likely have been a big hit. But for a multitude of reasons, it didn't actually happen until 2016. That's a lifetime in Hollywood. Further hobbling the sequel was Will Smith's refusal to return. Not to slight Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Brent Spiner and Judd Hirsch, but they aren't the kind of stars that can anchor a blockbuster these days. Critics complained that the plot – which involved another invasion from hostile aliens – felt like a redo of the original, and it grossed just $387.6 million. That's probably not enough to get the third movie they teased at the end.
When the trailer for Suicide Squad hit the Internet early in the year, it looked like DC might finally have a decent movie on their hands after the critical disasters of Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Jared Leto seemed like a perfect Joker, and the film looked funny and exciting. Well, it turned out the trailer was the highlight of the entire Suicide Squad experience. The actual movie was boring, confusing and ultimately pointless. Also, most of Jared Leto's joker scenes were cut and his appearance felt like little more than a glorified cameo. It's possible they'll fix some of the bugs in the upcoming Harley Quinn spinoff movie, but that'll probably suck too.