2021 will likely go down as the year when movie-watching changed forever, but the one thing that hasn't changed is the fact that there are still plenty of bad movies to go around. Some were streaming, some were in theaters, and some were a hybrid between the two, but none of them are worth giving more than one viewing — including, unfortunately, a buzzy movie filmed around Fort Worth. (My list of the 10 best movies of the year is here.)
10) Thunder Force
Melissa McCarthy and her husband, Ben Falcone, have made five movies together since 2014, and not one of them has been good. McCarthy is her typical bumbling persona, accidentally getting injected with a serum that turns her into a superhero. The idea for the film is objectively a solid one, but the execution of it leaves a lot to be desired. It's great to see a couple who loves working with each other, but perhaps they'd be better off concentrating on separate projects from now on.
9) The Woman in the Window
Starring Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Julianne Moore, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Brian Tyree Henry, and more, The Woman in the Window is about as talent-rich as a film can get. However, their collective acting ability can't save this wannabe thriller, as any suspense the story might have had in book form gets mostly lost in translation. With Netflix about to release a series parodying this type of story, it's only appropriate that this film serves the death knell for the nascent sub-genre.
Starring Hugh Jackman, Reminiscence is a future-set film that features a bungling sci-fi plot involving an obsessive private detective. It's easy to tell that writer/director Lisa Joy wants the film to be an homage and update to the old-time private eye movies, but the one thing she forgot was to include the intrigue those films have. Joy had a thought-provoking story about climate change she could have explored in her back pocket, but instead she chose the dull route.
Tom Holland is a delight as Spider-Man, but he's out of his depth in this role as a soldier who becomes addicted to opoids and turns to robbing banks to support his habit. Much of the film, directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, plays like a wacky dark comedy, something that’s completely at odds with the depravity that populates the latter half of the film. The varying tones make the film come off like an amateur’s idea of what a war/drug/crime movie is supposed to be.
The characters at the center of Gully, played by three well-regarded young actors, live mostly aimless lives, playing a Grand Theft Auto-type video game to pass much of their time. They collectively reach their breaking points, wreaking havoc on a number of people, pretending like real life is now the game. If there is an ultimate point the film is trying to make, it gets lost among the video game aesthetics and faux wisdom dished out through much of the film.
5) Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Some look at the Venom films and see a hilarious romp about a man who shares his body and mind with an alien symbiote. I see a bland, uninteresting character whose boring nature is made worse by the incoherent story and filmmaking surrounding him. The sequel gives Woody Harrelson and Naomie Harris license to overact shamelessly, and the god-awful CGI is just plain laughable. Let There Be Carnage is even worse than the dog of a film that was the original.
4) Wrath of Man
The latest film from writer/director Guy Ritchie takes nearly every wrong step one could take when trying to make a good movie. The dialogue is laughable right from the start, with stilted conversations and a plethora of one-liners that elicit eyerolls instead of laughter. Mindless action takes a backseat to complicated story machinations, with none of it being any fun. Wrath of Man has none of Ritchie’s flair for dialogue or staging, and the level of acting the film contains gives it no chance to succeed.
3) Joe Bell
There are many reasons Joe Bell doesn't work, starting with the bad acting by Mark Wahlberg, who plays the title character, a man walking across the country to spread an anti-bullying message in support of his gay son. But the filmmakers, including director Reinaldo Marcus Green (who would go on to helm the great King Richard), structure the film so as to unnecessarily hide a key component of the plot, a questionable decision at best, an offensive one at worst.
2) 12 Mighty Orphans
It stinks that 12 Mighty Orphans is so bad because it would have been nice for the Fort Worth-set movie to shine a good light on the area. It ticks all the boxes of your typical sports movie, but it does such a poor job of telling the story that any inspiration one might get from it vanishes into thin air. The decision to compress and exaggerate the success of the Mighty Mites into one season proves fateful for the film. A story that should have been simple is made needlessly complicated by filmmakers who tried to overreach.
Voyagers deals with a group of young people sent to populate a new planet after Earth has become uninhabitable, but instead of dealing with existential issues, the makers of the film figured they would be different and just make it about horny and angry teenagers. The group has been emotionally stilted since birth, which gives the cast permission to act as strange as possible, leading to a host of awkward moments. There's nothing exciting about the film, and even some late-stage action scenes can't redeem this dud.