Top 10 Worst Films of 2015

Another year gone and sadly, it was really easy to pick the Top 10 worst films for 2015. I guess when you know you’ve seen a really good film; you also know when you’ve seen an absolute stinker. And these are my worst of the worst.

Just like my Best-Of list, only films I’ve reviewed will be eligible for the list, so no Taken 3 on this list (even though I actually enjoyed it enough that it would not even appear on the list even if I had done a review of it). But let’s get on with it. This is going to be therapeutic for me. First though, some honorable, or in this case dishonorable mentions;

A Royal Night Out

Ruth And Alex

Spooks: The Greater Good.

Okay then. Let’s get started!

10.

The first review that I really gave a negative mark to, it’s The Gunman. I went back and watched The Gunman again just to see if it was as bad as I remembered and sadly it was. With a cast list of Sean Penn, Rat Winstone, Mark Rylance and Idris Elba, it’s sad that The Gunman was such a poor film.

9.

I didn’t want to watch this film. Every other reviewer and their mother had already said their piece on Pixels and with all the negative press around it, I wasn’t feeling too thrilled to actually spend money on it. But in the name of journalistic integrity I went, and I was thoroughly bored. I didn’t have the same reaction as everyone else (that of wanting to spit venom at the screen) but it wasn’t a good movie by any stretch of the mind.

8.

Keanu Reeves is one of those actors who has a tendency for choosing really odd roles. I mean, look at his filmography, The Matrix, Point Break, Man Of Tai Chi, it’s an eclectic mix. So when he teamed up with Eli Roth for B-Movie horror film Knock Knock, it was an interesting proposition. Sadly, all the good will in the world wouldn’t have been able save this utter flop, with some of the worst acting in the world and script that seems to have been written by a 12-year old who’s just learnt what sex is.

7.

Novel-to-film adaptations have been a staple of Hollywood since the dawn of the medium. I had managed to read a small amount of Child 44 before I had seen the film and I was disappointed that director Daniel Espinosa had managed to turn a thoroughly riveting book into a snooze-fest. Tom Hardy is totally off his game as wooden officer Leo Demidov, with only Gary Oldman being the shining light in a cast of duds. You might find enjoyment if you’re a fan of the book, but I wouldn’t hold your breath.

6.

Vin Diesel is one of those actors that manages to get pet-projects pushed through the machine of Hollywood. He did so with Riddick back in 2013, and did so with The Last Witch Hunter, which is my number six. A Dungeons And Dragons style fantasy film set in modern day New York, it doesn’t do anything interesting or new with what is a pretty good set-up. A note to screen-writers, immortal characters aren’t exciting, the fact that they can’t be beaten is boring.

5.

If a comedy film isn’t up to scratch, then it quickly becomes a tragedy. Spy is one of those types of films. Many of the best jokes were given away in the trailer, and the ones that weren’t were stolen from director Paul Feig’s earlier films with Melissa McCarthy, with most revolving around “Ha-ha she’s fat and that’s funny”. Add Peter Serafinowicz as a borderline-rapist character (which again, we are meant to find funny) and Spy becomes a toe-curlingly, cringe worthy film.

4.

I wanted to love this film so much. One of my favourite game series that had already being messed around with back in 2007, Hitman: Agent 47 is the film I’m most disappointed in this year. Awful characterisation, horrible action and the bare minimum of relation to the source material, all of it can be traced back to screen-writer/hack Skip Woods. The only good thing about Hitman: Agent 47 is the endless sweeping shots of Singapore.

3.

This one is a surprise. A film that has been garnering top marks from all of the prominent critics and has been hailed by some as the best film of the year. For me though, Carol is one of the most boring and over-hyped films of recent memory. A film about an adulterous lesbian relationship in the 1950s, Carol tries to be this year’s Blue Is The Warmest Colour but just doesn’t have anything of merit to make it worthy of a place on a Top 10 list. Stay away, this film doesn’t deserve your attention.

2.

M. Night Shyamalan. I could literally stop my review of The Visit there and it would be a sound enough argument for it to be number two on the worst of the year list. But I’ll keep going. Found Footage. Jump Scare Horror (that doesn’t even work half the time). Continuity Errors. Ageism. A stupid little teenager rapping throughout the film and over the end credits. That’s it, I don’t want to think about The Visit anymore.

1.

This isn’t a film you’ve probably heard of. As I said in my Best-Of list, I’ve had to watch a lot of films that I would have normally seen since doing this. Some have been absolute gems, but this is one of the most appalling films I have ever seen, not just 2015. Phantom is not just a bad film, it’s a film that hates its audience and doesn’t give a crap who knows it. Billed as a Zero Dark Thirty set in India, Phantom tries to be an action film and ends up coming off as Team America but lacking all self-awareness and humour that Team America had. Please, do not seek this film out, just read the review and leave it at that. I don’t want to give this film traffic.

That’s it for 2015! I’m Tom, The Student Film Critic and I’ll see you in 2016!

Read the contrasting post on the Top 10 Best Films of 2015!

Phantom Review

Subtitled films rarely get a wide UK release. Unless it’s something really big (such as The Raid 2) there is a notion that some audiences don’t want to read subtitles. However, subtitled films still get a limited release, so here’s the newest subtitled film for 2015, Phantom.

Phantom stars Saif Ali Khan, Katrina Kaif and Sabyasachi Chakraborty and is directed by Kabir Khan. The story, based off the novel Mumbai Avengers by Hussain Zaidi, follows Daniyal (Ali Khan) as he is sent on an undercover mission for India to take revenge on the plotters of the 26/11 terrorists attacks in Mumbai.

While the film takes the event of the 26/11 attacks as a jumping off point, the story is largely fictional. The poster’s tagline is “A story you wish were true” and there is a long message at the beginning of the film saying how the film is not real and should not be taken to be true in any way in a way that almost seemed apologetic before it had even begun. I got the message; I’ve seen a lot of other films that have taken the premise of a real life event and woven a fake story around it. But at least some of those films were good, Phantom is not.

For an action film, the gun and fistfights are pretty dire. At least it doesn’t contain shaky cam, but the film does have a rapid editing style, meaning the cuts are happening quickly enough that it’s hard to keep track of what’s happening. Some of the shots during the scenes however are of the lowest quality ever. Blocky, out-of-focus and sometimes not pointed at anything in particular, it boggles the mind that someone thought, “Yep, that looks good enough to put in our film.” The fistfights are laughable, with comedy punch sounds effects and choreographed within an inch of its life by people who don’t know how to fight realistically. Some of the gunfights are done well, but the major one feels like it should be in a parody of a Rambo film as Daniyal rips a machine gun from is turret like a video game character and begins to mow down hundreds of Syrian rebels and members of the Syrian army, giving no regard to whose side they’re on. Coupled with the sometimes hilarious reactions of terrorists screaming “NO!” in slow-motion, the film looks like it was trying to be Team America except still trying to play it straight-faced.

The film has a dual narrative, switching between Daniyal out in the field and his superiors back in India as they guide him to intercept and assassinate the high profile targets that they have located. With these switches you would think the film is setting up a “Situation Room” approach to spying such as the Bourne franchise or Zero Dark Thirty. But the film brings down these conversations to mere exposition dumps just to tell us who the next person to get assassinated is.

Whoever localised the subtitles needs to be fired. While there maybe some words in Hindi that don’t have an English equivalent, the films doesn’t really care and mixes up the words, making some sentences a puzzle to try and understand. Not to mention the many spelling mistakes that feature in the subtitles and the inclusion of subtitled songs (I know anime some times does this but it still seems really odd). The worst thing about the subtitles is that the background can wash out the words. Since the subtitles are white, if the background is white then you can’t see the subtitles. This happens frequently throughout the film, including the first ten seconds when the film is setting up the story. It just screams laziness, and if there is one thing I can’t stand in films it is laziness.

The worst part of the film though is during the first few minutes during the set up of the film. Pictures and photos of the 26/11 terrorist attacks are used to set up the story for the audience, which is fine. Zero Dark Thirty did the same with 9/11 and it worked perfectly to set up the story. But every time one is used a little watermark in the bottom corner saying “Courtesy of Mumbai News Group 2009 © All Rights Reserved.” If this was a documentary, such as Precinct Seven Five or Fahrenheit 9/11 then I would forgive the film, since it needs to reference where it got it’s material from. But in a fictional feature film, it’s just another part that shows how lazy the filmmakers are. When you can’t even be bothered to erase the watermark from your film, you shouldn’t put it in the film.

Last night when I got home from Phantom the film had pummeled me into boredom that I couldn’t get angry about it. But now, I can fully express how mad I am at the film. It’s a film that wastes your time and doesn’t even have the courtesy to be bad enough for a guilty pleasure or an ironic movie night fodder. Maybe Phantom plays better to a home crowd in India, but here it feels like the most slapdash approach to filmmaking.

Score: 1/10 Please don’t give them your money or your time. This film does not deserve it.