The Absolute Worst Movies Of 2019 So Far

It almost seems to be an unwritten Hollywood
rule that for every amazing, well-crafted piece of cinema released in any given year,
there must be at least one completely misguided, poorly executed, lazily written slog of a
film. 2019 is no exception – and these are the worst
movies of the bunch. Keanu Reeves is as in demand as ever, and
has even cemented his action star bona fides relatively late in his career thanks to the
John Wick series. Over the years, he’s only appeared in a handful
of sci-fi features, so we were psyched to see his return to the world of trippy sci-fi
weirdness with Replicas. Then the reviews started to come in. According to critics, the film was a complete
mess, plagued by a clumsy script written in service of an absurd storyline. Even worse for an action star of Reeves’ caliber,
it also featured unexciting action sequences and plot holes you could drive a semi through. The Guardian’s Charles Bramesco offered up
a Roger Ebert-esque review that took everyone but Reeves to task: “If only anyone else involved could muster
a fraction of the consummate professionalism that Reeves brings to his dead-serious intonation
of the word ‘algorithm,’ this DOA science project might have had a pulse.” All we can say to that review is: “Woah.” A remake of the French film The Intouchables,
The Upside endured a lengthy development process, with talent both behind and in front of the
camera coming and going for the better part of five years. Then, after debuting at the 2017 Toronto International
Film Festival, the movie, which was produced by The Weinstein Company, sat on a shelf for
the next year and a half due to the avalanche of sexual assault allegations against Harvey
Weinstein. The drama, featuring Bryan Cranston as a paralyzed
billionaire and Kevin Hart as his ex-con caretaker, was finally released in January 2019. On its release, critics praised Hart’s and
Cranston’s performances and chemistry together, and criticized virtually everything else about
the film. Film Inquiry’s Asher Luberto summed up the
critical doldrums most succinctly: “You have seen it all before, and probably
done better… the film [has] fallen, and can’t get up.” 2017’s Split was rightfully hailed as a return
to form for director M. Night Shyamalan, especially for its last-minute reveal: just before the
credits rolled, audiences realized that Split was a stealth sequel to Shyamalan’s amazing
2000 film Unbreakable. Shyamalan brought it all together for the
third film in the sudden trilogy, Glass, which promised us a superpowered throwdown for the
ages. Typical of many of Shyamalan’s movies, a vocal
minority of critics found it to be a misunderstood masterpiece. Everyone else, however, simply found it to
be poorly written, ploddingly paced, and boring. Critic Mahmoud Mahdy of Film Gamed summed
up the film with one harsh sentence in his review: “A wagon carrying dramatic garbage advancing
on rails at a constant pace to reach a destination where nobody ever wanted to go.” Serenity, starring Matthew McConaughey as
a fishing boat captain and Anne Hathaway as an ex-wife who shows up seeking protection
from her new abusive husband, is a seedy murder mystery with a twist. The problem, unfortunately, is that the mystery
isn’t so tough to parse out, and the twist is absolutely ridiculous. In case you think we’re being hyperbolic,
consider the words of the great critic Rex Reed, who has seen a bad movie or two in his
distinguished career. Writing for the Observer around the movie’s
release in January, Reed argued: “Serenity already qualifies as the worst film
of 2019. Both moronically written and directed with
shocking, amateurish ineptitude by Stephen Knight, it’s a pointless bomb.” Say what you will about the movie, but that
sure doesn’t sound… “Alright, alright, alright.” Gina Rodriguez is probably most familiar to
audiences by way of her starring role on the CW’s romantic comedy series Jane the Virgin,
so it’s a little unclear why Miss Bala would attempt to make her over as an action star. A remake of the 2011 Spanish film of the same
name, Miss Bala stars Rodriguez as a makeup artist who gets caught up in an extremely
convoluted cross-border drug trafficking plot while attempting to help a friend win a beauty
contest. While the film itself was roundly panned,
critics made sure to give Rodriguez some credit. Bilge Ebiri writing at the Rolling Stone manage
to ding the film and praise Rodriguez in the same review: “This Hollywoodized remake is mostly generic
and uninspired, but it also proves that Rodriguez has the makings of a true movie star. It’ll be exciting to see what she does next
[…] so long as it’s not a sequel to this.” Another year, another entry in the seemingly
unkillable Madea series. Every new installment brings two different
sets of lines around the block: fans who can’t wait to catch the latest outing, and critics
who can’t wait to take their shots. Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral was certainly
no different, garnering $72 million at the domestic box office while reliably bringing
out maximum snark in virtually ever reviewer tasked with sitting through it. Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter definitely
didn’t hold any punches: “Considering how well the character has served
him, Perry certainly doesn’t return the favor in this graceless installment combining raucous
comedy and turgid melodrama to undigestible effect…This film, like almost all of his
others, has a tossed-off quality, giving the impression it was written and shot over a
long weekend.” John Travolta has accomplished many things
in his career: he helped to cement the popularity of disco, assisted Quentin Tarantino in reinventing
the crime film, and traded faces with Nicolas Cage, to name just a few. But 2019 saw him notch perhaps his most dubious
achievement: fielding a picture which scored a big fat goose egg on Rotten Tomatoes for
the third time in two years. His misbegotten biopic Gotti and woefully
inept speedboat-racing thriller Speed Kills were considered by many to be the worst films
of 2018. Trading Paint, the story of father-and-son
race car drivers pitted against each other by an unscrupulous rival, is shaping up to
be a strong contender for this year’s title. The 11 critics who bothered to review it trashed
it mercilessly, none more so than Johnny Oleksinski of the New York Post: “The races of “Trading Paint”… are as
exciting as a Ford Taurus trying to parallel park.” The silver lining here: a losing streak this
egregious usually means there’s nowhere to go but up. Director Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy adaptation
from 2004, and its 2008 sequel The Golden Army were fine adaptations of the famous comic
book character, and the two movies have plenty of fans to this day. That’s largely thanks to the director’s unabashed
love for the material, as well as a lead performance from Ron Perlman in a role he was born to
play. “Code red.” “Hey, hey, hey. They’re playing our song. Let’s go fight some monsters.” A third del Toro-directed installment was
rumored for years, but fell apart due to the producers’ desire to go the reboot route,
much to the disappointment of Perlman and many fans. But with Stranger Things’ David Harbour in
the lead, The Descent’s Neil Marshall in the director’s chair, and a hard R rating, the
2019 edition of Hellboy looked promising. That is, right up until it landed in theaters
with a resounding thud. While there was plenty of praise for Harbour’s
take on the character, critics found it to be a performance in service of a terrible
film. Spencer Perry at Coming Soon let it fly in
a brutal review: “The new Hellboy wouldn’t be so bad if it
wasn’t so boring and ugly to look at. Moments that happen just for the sake of moving
the plot could be forgiven, but its garish visuals hinder it and its plodding plot doesn’t
come together in any satisfying way.” At first blush, a gender-flipped take on the
1988 comedy classic Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, which featured Michael Caine and Steve Martin
as dueling con men vying over the territory of a seaside resort, seemed like a premise
with a lot of potential. The Hustle also had a lot going for it: Anne
Hathaway and Rebel Wilson in the lead roles, along with Veep veteran Chris Addison in the
director’s chair. But something must have gone wrong between
the conception and execution, because The Hustle debuted to some of the harshest critical
thrashings of the year thus far. Onetime Roger Ebert cohort Richard Roeper
channeled his old friend in his blistering review for the Chicago Sun-Times: “So predictable. Just like everything in this movie. If you don’t see the long con coming in
this story, either you’re not paying attention or … No. That’s the only possible explanation. Your mind wandered to thoughts of better movies
playing elsewhere, perhaps right next door to this debacle.” Meanwhile, The Detroit News’ Adam Graham perhaps
nailed the film the hardest: “Who’s conning who here? In The Hustle, everyone’s a sucker, most of
all the audience.” The Intruder is a bit of an anomaly: a film
featuring a widely-praised performance from a veteran actor that was nevertheless mercilessly
dragged by critics. The performance in question comes from square-jawed,
generally nice Dennis Quaid as Charlie Peck, a seemingly nice older dude who sells his
family home to a young couple only to creepily insinuate himself into their lives. Quaid’s against-type, wildly over-the-top
performance might have been remembered as one for the ages by thriller aficionados. If only it had been in the service of a better
film. Film Frenzy’s Matt Brunson took particular
issue with how poorly the film set up its protagonists: “If the protagonists in this film were any
more dense, they would only exist as a thick fog.” Nearly every negative review similarly lamented
the film’s utter predictability and ham-fisted jump scares while admitting that seeing Quaid
play a complete psycho was pretty fun. The Critical Movie Critics’ Frank Ochieng
said: “Unimaginative and clumsy, this generic groan-at-home
sideshow’s only genuine appeal is watching veteran screen star Quaid overly ham it up
as the intruding, nutty nemesis hellbent on reclaiming his territory.” Poms billed itself as an “uplifting comedy”
about a group of women who start up a cheerleading squad in their retirement home, and with a
premise like that, casting is everything. Fortunately, screen legends Diane Keaton,
Pam Grier, and Rhea Perlman were all on board, and the reviews certainly had no problems
with the cast. Instead, the critics’ issues were with virtually
everything else about the film. It probably didn’t help that Poms was the
debut feature for both director Zara Hayes and screenwriter Shane Atkinson. Critics took the movie to task for everything
from wasting its brilliant cast to disrespecting the age group it was meant to uplift. Ella Taylor at NPR pointed out a particularly
grim plot point in her review of the film: “… By hitching Martha’s imminent death to
the innocuous frivolity of a comic cheerleading plot, Hayes and screenwriter Shane Atkinson
take on responsibilities they can’t follow through on without getting into a tonal and
thematic tangle… As a fable of end-of-life empowerment, the
movie has all the existential heft of an extended L’Oreal commercial.” Rex Reed of the Observer succinctly pointed
out the biggest problem in the film, and it’s not any of the talented cast: “It’s the witless script by Shane Atkinson
and the petrified direction by Zara Hayes that lands everyone in traction.” The films of the Conjuring universe have certainly
made their share of box office bank, but critically, they’ve been a bit of a mixed bag. In just the last couple years, reviewers have
swung from hot, in the case of 2019’s Annabelle Comes Home, to ice cold for 2018’s The Nun. Unfortunately, the response to The Curse of
La Llorona, based on a creepy bit of Mexican folklore that seemed ripe for cinematic exploration,
came down firmly on the “cold” side of that equation. Focusing on a social worker who incurs the
wrath of a supernatural entity that preys on children, Llorona turned critics off with
its extreme reliance on formulaic scares. Making things worse, some felt it failed to
do justice to the true creepiness of the legend on which it’s based. According to Alternate Ending’s Tim Brayton: “It can only barely get jump scares right;
every single one of them for the film’s first hour is set-up, staged, and timed exactly
the same way, so that they start to feel less like visceral sucker punches and more like
a baffling and unfunny running gag.” But National Post’s Chris Knight put the final
nail in La Llorona’s coffin: “Some horror films, like last year’s Hereditary,
are flat-out horrifying. Others, such as the recent Halloween or Pet
Sematary reboots, are legitimately frightening. The Curse of La Llorona… is neither of these. The best you could say is it’s startling.” Dark Phoenix was supposed to be a lot of things:
an epic sendoff to the heroes of the Fox-produced X-Men series, a proper film adaptation of
one of the greatest Marvel storylines of all time, and, ideally, a hit movie. But because of an extensive reworking of its
third act and the inexperience of first-time director Simon Kinberg, it ended up being
exactly none of those things. Matthew Lickona of the San Diego Reader seemed
nearly disappointed when he wrote his review: “It didn’t have to end this way – in such
thoroughly standard smash ‘em up fashion, with minor heroes dutifully duking it out
with faceless hordes for punchy-power bolt minute after punchy-power-bolt minute until
the mayhem quotient has been met and the principals can finally square off for their climactic
lightshow. More reviews, like Michael Calleri’s of the
Niagara Gazette seemed to echo the melancholy: “Much of the cast actually looks exhausted. Some of them seem as if a pall of ennui had
settled over their persona. Dark Phoenix is a dull money grab and nothing
more.” Fielding a fourth installment in the Men in
Black series seven years after the previous installment, without franchise stars Will
Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, was always a bit of a risky proposition. Still, Men in Black: International had two
charismatic leads in Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson who had already proven their amazing
screen chemistry with Thor: Ragnarok. “I am Thor, Son of Odin, I need to get back
to Asgard.” “Many apologies, your majesty.” Unfortunately, it takes more than just a couple
of funny and talented actors to make a good movie. Even with the participation of Iron Man scribes
Art Marcum and Matt Holloway and Friday director F. Gary Gray, Men in Black: International
fell woefully short of past installments of the franchise. Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal
barely seemed willing to review the film at all: “No need to huff and puff about the idiocy
of ‘Men in Black: International.’ It is what it is, an industrial product recycled
from the remnants of an exhausted franchise and aimed at a young audience that may not
know or care what a joy the original was.” While many reviewers had praise for Hemsworth
and Thompson’s comedic stylings, the movie as a whole was roundly trashed. Oliver Jones at The Observer spared some brief
praise for Kumail Nanjiani’s alien character Pawny before blasting away at the film: “Certainly, Pawny is mildly cute and, wielding
a tiny sword that looks like it might struggle to mince garlic, mostly harmless. Those are also the nicest things you can say
about the movie he is in, a largely toothless and wit-free reboot that empties the last
of the originality and vivacity that has been steadily leaking out of the franchise with
each subsequent installment. On paper, it sounded Shaft-tastic: Richard
Roundtree reprising his role as John Shaft from the iconic 1971 original; Samuel L. Jackson
returning as his son, John Shaft, Jr., from the well-received 2000 sequel; and Jessie
Usher as J.J. Shaft, the latest in the line of famous badasses. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to any of
its potential, and critics generally agreed that Shaft 2019 was a throwback in all the
wrong ways. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone called the
film shamelessly regressive in his review: “Rough justice is back to stay. Women are out of the picture, except for sex. Dinosaurs again walk the earth with misogynistic
and homophobic impunity. These are the laughs, folks. Don’t be surprised if they stick in your
throat.”’s Odie Henderson was arguably
even harsher on the film, saying: “This movie is ‘ruin your childhood’ bad,
right down to the hideous auto-tuned end credits song they chose to use instead of the original
‘Theme From Shaft.'” But Jason Bailey of Flavorwire summed it up
the best, writing: “If you know one thing about John Shaft’s
history and legacy, [the film is] downright depressing” French director Luc Besson has made a career
out of making ultra-stylized flicks featuring extremely formidable women, from 1990’s Nikita
to 1997’s The Fifth Element to 2014’s Lucy. For his latest exploration of this theme,
he recruited Russian supermodel Sasha Luss for the title role in Anna, the story of an
everyday woman who happens to look like a Russian supermodel and somehow becomes a cold-blooded
killer for the KGB. If it all sounds a little familiar, critics
agreed – many found the film so highly reminiscent of Besson’s previous work that it bordered
on self-parody. This may have been fine if the picture were
serviceably made, but most observers found Besson to be stuck firmly in neutral with
Anna, a sparsely-plotted film with a distinct lack of imagination. The Guardian’s Benjamin Lee said that: “What ultimately sinks the film is its overwhelming
blandness, from the lack of creativity employed in Anna’s many kills to Besson’s inability
to choreograph a pulse-racing action scene, and the script’s belaboured attempts to
jump back and forward in time to wrongfoot us only highlight how little it brings to
the table.” Meanwhile, Peter Sobczynski of
critiqued the film for not living up to Besson’s previous works: “…Even long-standing fans of his will find
it hard to muster much enthusiasm for this startlingly lazy bit of by-the-numbers hackwork.” In short, most critics’ responses were best
summed up in one line: “I am very disappointed!” Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Looper videos about your favorite
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