We’ve had a lot of fun this week looking back on the year that was and celebrating all the stuff we loved like the few family members we have an actual fondness for. Especially in this past miserable year, it’s good to fixate on the things that bring us joyous reprieve from the realities of our daily lives and celebrate them accordingly. But with love must also come hate, with praise must also come shame, with being connected globally on the Internet must also come bitching about shit we don’t like. We know that articles like these are catnip to readers such as yourselves, it’s practically the YouTube economy in a nutshell which is why we’re almost never going to pivot to video, and whilst we do try to remain positive and upbeat here on Set the Tape, we’re also not blind fanatics or naïve dolts. There were some truly dreadful movies released in 2018.
But the thing about many a bad movie is that they can sneak up on you. Sure, there have been obviously awful films released in 2018 – Walk Like a Panther, Siberia, Patrick, Gotti, to name just a few examples – but many of us being non-professional writers means that most of us are not actively seeking these movies out. Well, except for Shaun Rodger, whom I am pretty sure has “seeing terrible movies” down as an official kink of his. So, rather than do a combined list or restrict our call to just what our writers may consider the worst films of 2018, we did something a little different but inarguably more fulfilling. We made a Bottom Films list instead. Bottom lists are reserved for the films that most offended, disappointed, angered, or otherwise stuck in our individual craws. Are they the worst films of 2018? Arguably no, since Gotti is nowhere near here. But the worst films aren’t always the ones that leave the most devastating impacts. Usually, it’s the disasters, the fiascos, the disappointments, the heart-breakers, and those are the films included below.
Soon enough, we’ll get back to the positivity by unveiling our official Top 10 Films of 2018. But today, we let the hate rain. Every writer at STT was given the opportunity to lodge their disgust about one film from the year, though only a select few chose to answer said opportunity and dwell on the misery. Given our year, that’s perfectly fair. Read on, remember these are personal opinions, share your own Bottom Films in the comments, and play nice. We’re all in this together. – Callum Petch
Once the cover of November had properly kicked in, Lionsgate took this as a sign to creep up the cinema steps and leave us the present we never asked for. Like an orphan. Or a half-eaten kebab. Yes, Robin Hood swaggered gallantly across our screens once more, in a story so timeless you’d wonder why filmmakers keep telling it so badly. Less the righteous medieval re-distributor of wealth and more ‘the lord of the manor who’s a bit of an alright bloke really,’ Taron Egerton looks bored and embarrassed in equal measure as he recites his lines and waits for some (ANY) sign from director Otto Bathurst that this is what’s required. A film with no message other than ‘but Marian is MY bird!’ almost manages to make Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur re-telling seem fun, if only because that cast appeared to be enjoying themselves. Jamie Foxx, Ben Mendelsohn, Tim Minchin and F. Murray Abraham all throw in equally CV-devaluing turns, hoping everything will be fixed in the edit. But no amount of cutting can help a screenplay this incoherent and inconsequential, short of slicing it into pieces too small to be seen by a cinema audience. Think: ‘Kingsman for people who don’t like movies.’ – Ian Paterson
Pacific Rim: Uprising
While Pacific Rim: Uprising is objectively not the worst thing I have seen this year (that prize still goes to the abomination that is Astro), it is the biggest let down. Charlie Hunnam is replaced with the far less interesting and far more annoying John Boyega, the universe gets only a smattering of new lore and development, the new Jaegers are nowhere near as interesting as the original ones and the fight scenes are…well…they’re kind of boring. There’s something essential missing from Uprising, the heart and soul and love that went into the original, that touch of magic that Del Toro brings to his productions. Is it a BAD movie? No, it’s perfectly serviceable, but that’s all. It fails as a sequel because it fails to build on what we already had with the superior original. There is no cancelling the apocalypse here, there’s just big, shiny, empty monster fights and if the monsters in your monster movie don’t grab the audience? You done fucked it up. Still better than Astro, though. – Shaun Rodger
Solo: A Star Wars Story
It is impossible to label Solo a disappointment mainly because no-one expected it to be good in the first place. From the moment original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (of Lego Movie fame) were fired for being, err, too funny, and replaced by Ron “please stop calling me dull” Howard, fans everywhere knew the picture was finished. Devoid of charm and led by a couple of ropey performances from Alden Ehrenreich and Emilia Clarke, Solo tells us nothing interesting that isn’t already known, and nothing new that isn’t confusing and/or pointless – the Kessel Run, you know who showing up at the end, etc. The one thing Solo does have going for it is that, though it is objectively terrible in many ways (the bizarre, fudged cinematography for one), for fans of the franchise it remains watchable. After all, it is a Star Wars film, and for that reason alone we still sort of want to see what happens, even if The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi did their best in warning us not to bother. To rub salt in its wounds, Solo may also be the final Star Wars Story flick for the foreseeable future, with Disney putting future productions on hiatus due to its unsurprisingly poor box office returns. – Nicholas Lay
Netflix release The Titan squarely falls into the lesser of the releases from the streaming service in 2018. Detailing the need for humanity to adapt in order to survive as the overpopulated Earth is being abandoned for Saturn’s moon, Titan, comprising of a decent cast of Sam Worthington, Taylor Schilling and Tom Wilkinson, and actually having a decent amount of hype surrounding it, hopes were fairly high that it would be a sci-fi film of surprising measure. Alas, for all the promise of the basic story, the choice to focus on the relationships instead of the interesting science somehow ends up devoid of emotion. The script works together with the performances to undermine any good that could have been built up. Sparse and uninspiring dialogue alongside a vacuous Sam Worthington actively slows down the pace of the film and leaves the viewer begging for the final scene. – Gavin McHugh
Sicario 2: Soldado
Quite honestly, I wouldn’t have minded if Sicario 2: Soldado had gone full Rambo III. Denis Villeneuve’s 2015 original was one of those bolt-out-of-the-blue movies, a razor-sharp suspense thriller that married unbearably tense genre thrills with bleak and unsparing examinations of America’s appalling behaviour in its War on Drugs, systemic misogyny in government enforcement, and the impossibility of doing good in an environment irreparably fucked by those rigging the game. It secured Villeneuve’s place as one of the best directors alive, catapulted screenwriter Taylor Sheridan into Next Big Thing status, and also absolutely did not need any form of continuation or revisitation, let alone one focussing on evil government-affiliated spooks Alejandro (Benicio del Toro) and Matt (Josh Brolin).
From the second Soldado was announced, I knew they were going to jettison the moral critique of Sicario in favour of a mindless celebration of the very human-rights-violating and illegal military intervention Sicario condemned, but I held out hope Sheridan had something more hidden up his sleeve or at least that he’d go full Rambo III so I could separate it from the original Sicario. Instead, I got the worst of both worlds: the mindless Hollywood celebration of American insurgency in blatant ignorance of the core values from the first film, AND the slow, moody, reflective filmmaking of Sicario despite a) Soldado having nothing going on in its brain to justify such portent and b) new director Stefano Sollima certainly being no Denis Villeneuve. On its own merits, Soldado is just a boring slog. As a sequel to Sicario, it is an indefensible act of war against the spirit of its forebearer, so utterly wrong-headed and dog-whistling that my faith in both Sheridan as a writer and the original film, which I view as a modern classic, have been shaken to their very core. – Callum Petch
Disagree with any of our picks? We’re sure you do! So, why not jump into the comments and, instead of yelling about how wrong we are, share your own Bottom Movies of 2018? Spread the misery! Check back on Set the Tape every day this week for more Year-End articles that are way more positive than this one was!