A new year brings with it the promise of a whole slate of new movies to watch and enjoy and 2016 looks like it won’t disappoint, with highly anticipated films such as Captain America: Civil War and the long-awaited Finding Nemo sequel Finding Dory dropping this year. Of course, the cold hard reality is that not every upcoming movie is going to be a winner and there are bound to be some real stinkers in the mix. Obviously we won’t know for sure if any of the following ten movies will be any good or not until they’re actually released, but given the information available right now, it’s fair to say that they could all very well turn out to be some of the most disappointing films of the year. All we can really do is hope that is that they’re not quite as bad as they look.
10. Jumanji (December 25)
No, that isn’t a typo: Sony is actually developing a remake of the 1995 fantasy film Jumanji, currently scheduled for a December 25, 2016 release. All we really know about it so far is that Zack Helm, the writer of Stranger than Fiction and writer/director of Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, has written the script, but Sony has yet to announce any casting details or who the director is. From that perspective, it’s admittedly a bit too early to say that the Jumanji remake will be terrible…but come on, how could it not be? The original 1995 flick starring Robin Williams was entertaining for its time, but it’s hard to see what a new film could do to improve it other than add better-looking CGI animals (hooray?). Plus, Hollywood doesn’t exactly have the best track record with remakes, with most of them ranging from serviceable to downright awful (hello Point Break 2015), so forgive us if we’re not thrilled about the idea of sitting through a new, CGI-bloated Jumanji without Robin Williams. No thank you.
9. London Has Fallen (March 4)
The first clue that London Has Fallen won’t be very good is that Gerard Butler is cast in the lead role, an actor whose only good decision in the last ten years has been to do voiceover work for the How to Train Your Dragon series (a shame given how likable Butler is). The second clue is that it’s a direct sequel to 2013’s Olympus Has Fallen, which already felt like a stale concept at the time it was released and wasn’t helped along by the fact that a film with a pretty much identical concept — White House Down — was released around the same time. As the title implies, London Has Fallen transplants the “Gerard Butler needs to save the President…again!” routine to the UK this time out, and while it looks decent for what it is, it’s hard to escape the feeling that we’ve seen this same idea way too many times before and done better. At the time of its release, Richard Roeper complained that Olympus Has Fallen felt like “just too much of a pale Die Hard ripoff.” We’re sure those sentiments will apply just as well to London Has Fallen.
8. The Divergent Series: Allegiant (March 18)
YA (young adult) adaptations have been noticeably lacking in recent years, save The Hunger Games series (although Mockingjay Part 2 was kind of a mess). One of the most inexplicably popular of these innumerable series is Divergent, based on the books by Veronica Roth. Starring Shailene Woodley, Miles Teller, and Theo James, the Divergent series has felt like a pale imitation of The Hunger Games over the course of its two previous films and the third entry, Allegiant, looks like it will fittingly continue that trend. While The Hunger Games series actually used its muted, drab tones to tell an interesting story, Divergent has just felt stale and uninteresting so far and it’s difficult to think that Allegiant will reverse the trend. The worst part? This won’t even be the last film in the series, as the series’ producers copied yet another frustrating trend in YA adaptations by stretching Roth’s third novel into two parts, with The Divergent Series: Ascendant releasing in 2017. We doubt it will be worth the wait.
7. Disney’s Alice Through The Looking Glass (May 27)
Tim Burton’s live action Alice in Wonderland made over $1 billion at the global box office back in 2010, meaning a sequel was inevitable. We’ll finally be getting that sequel this year with Alice Through The Looking Glass and it’s pretty likely that it won’t be very good. Tim Burton arguably hasn’t made a good film since 2003’s Big Fish and while from a visual standpoint the first film was impressive, it suffered from weak storytelling and a general feeling of tediousness. Unfortunately for Through the Looking Glass, we’ve already seen Burton’s rendition of Wonderland, so it’s going to have to have one heck of a compelling narrative to be anything other than an overblown computer effects fest.
6. Assassin’s Creed (December 21)
To give credit where credit’s due, the Assassin’s Creed movie definitely has the potential to be good. Michael Fassbender and Marion Cottilard are both supremely talented actors and the fact that they’re reteaming with their Macbeth director Justin Kurzel for this film is a good sign. Unfortunately, history is not on Assassin’s Creed side here, as video game film adaptations are almost always terrible, so it will be an uphill climb for Assassin’s Creed to break that pattern. The other problem working against the film is that the game series’ plot is a jumbled mess; the whole reliving memories sci fi thing, while an interesting concept, has simply never been as compelling as the individual stories of assassins like Ezio or most recently, Evie Frye from Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. The film will be tackling the present day/historical split narrative of the games, but hopefully it can make each component feel necessary and interesting. We really want this one to be good, but the odds aren’t stacked in its favor at present.
5. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (March 25)
Warner Bros. and DC Comics have a lot riding on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice being a massive success, but from what we’ve seen so far, we’re not convinced it has what it takes to stand up to Marvel’s consistently good to great superhero movie output. Made by the same creative team behind 2013’s Man of Steel, Batman v Superman seems to fix a number of the issues people had with that movie while unfortunately introducing a whole slew of new potential problems. Doomsday (or whatever he’s actually called) looks like he emerged from an early 2000s fantasy blunder based on his shoddy CGI work, Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor might be one of the worst miscastings in recent memory if his appearances in the trailers are any indication of his full performance, and overall, it just looks too drab and dark for its own good. Ironically, Ben Affleck’s Batman looks so good that it will probably be worth the price of admission alone just to see his turn in the cowl. For the sake of DC and our own affinity for the characters, we sure hope Batman v Superman proves us wrong.
4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 (June 3)
Another year, another film that bastardizes a once beloved children’s franchise. Yes, it’s true that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles isn’t exactly Shakespearian drama, but it’s still disheartening to see the property in the hands of people who clearly don’t know what to do with it. The first Michael Bay-produced TMNT was a trainwreck and one of 2014’s worst films, so even if TMNT 2 turns out marginally better, that won’t be saying very much. It’s nice to see that more fan favorite characters such as Casey Jones and Shredder henchmen duo Bebop and Rocksteady are being added to the mix, but until we see proof that any franchise Michael Bay (yes, he’s only a producer here, but his fingerprints are all over it) decides to make a feature film adaptation that isn’t a hot steaming pile of garbage, we’re just going to go ahead and assume that TMNT 2 will be awful.
3. Independence Day: Resurgence (June 24)
Why it took 20 years to make another Independence Day is beyond us, but this feels like one “franchise” that probably should have been left behind in the 90s. The original Independence Day was a great alien invasion flick for its time and the fact that a good portion of the original cast is back for the sequel is impressive given how much time has passed, but this is all the more reason why it would have been better to make a sequel a few years after the first film, not two decades later. Most of the discussion around this film so far has focused more on Will Smith’s absence than anything interesting from the trailer, which should indicate how little people actually care about what this movie is trying to accomplish. Instead, everyone’s just banking on Resurgence scratching that nostalgia itch, but all that nostalgia is misplaced: Independence Day really isn’t as good as you remember it and it’s unlikely this film will make much of an impression besides eliciting an “Oh, neat,” reaction before everyone moves onto something else.
2. Gods of Egypt (February 26)
The trailer really says it all, doesn’t it? Gods of Egypt looks absolutely bonkers, which could go one of two ways: either this movie will fall into that coveted “so bad it’s good” camp or it will be a giant waste of time for everyone involved. Unfortunately, we’re leaning toward the latter on this one. Again, the presence of Gerard Butler is a bit of a dead giveaway as to this film’s quality (or lack thereof) and it looks like too much of a retread of films like The Mummy or Clash of the Titans to stand on its own as something memorable. Every year there’s one or two films that just make you smack your head and wonder how actual companies and people could sink their money and time into such a bad idea; Gods of Egypt is 2016’s answer to that question. Plus, being accused of whitewashing with your cast isn’t really helping matters.
1. The Angry Birds Movie (May 20)
Talk about capitalizing on success years too late. Based on the mobile gaming series of the same name, The Angry Birds Movie was never going to be some critically-acclaimed masterpiece, but it’s simply bizarre that it took this long to see a film adaptation when the series’ popularity peaked sometime in 2012. It’s as if the movie was greenlit almost immediately after Rovio’s game took off and then sat in development hell for years. While there’s no evidence to suggest this, one has to wonder why 2016 of all years is when this thing is finally seeing the light of day. The Angry Birds Movie will surely make a ton of money anyway, as animated pictures are wont to do, but it’s hard not to think that this film would have made a lot more sense a few years ago; perhaps then Rovio wouldn’t have had to cut 25% of its workforce due to the waning popularity of their once dominant franchise.