Friday, January 1, 2016

My Least Anticipated Films of 2016

Quite a few of the titles from last year's list ended up being delayed to 2016, so I'm going to be skipping a few obvious bombs below because I've already talked about them.  Right now, 2016 looks like something of a hangover from the blockbuster-stuffed 2015.  A lot of the weaker projects were quietly pushed back to less competitive slots, and there are all kinds of odd scheduling choices that seem to indicate the studios are trying to forget some of these movies exist - Tim Burton's next movie is already being written off, for instance.

There is no shortage of movies on the schedule already that I want nothing to do with, but I still feel I should put down a few words before I do my best to ignore them for the rest of the year.  As always, my hope is that I'm wrong in my initial assessments, and that these movies will turn out to be much better than they look.  However, if past years are any indication, it's likely this will be the last time you see discussion of any of these titles on this blog.

Sequels are inevitable whenever there are hits, but I'm still aghast that some of these exist.  Though not technically a sequel, "Fifty Shades of Black" continues Marlon Wayans' string of lazy parody films.  The fact that it's primarily riffing on "Fifty Shades of Grey" just makes it that much more distasteful.   I understand that a lot of people liked "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," but a sequel fourteen years after the first is really pushing it.  "God's Not Dead 2" is set to release on April Fool's Day, and I and fervently hoping that this is actually some kind of elaborate joke. And quickly, there's going to be a second "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," a "Purge 3," a "Ouija 2," a fifth "Underworld," and the thirteenth installment of the Amityville series, "Amityville: The Awakening."

Speaking of Bible movies, there are a rash of iffy ones this year with "Christ the Lord" starring Sean Bean, "Miracles from Heaven" with Jennifer Garner, and "Risen" with Joseph Fiennes, all coming in the spring.  Note that "Risen" is also being billed as an unofficial sequel to "The Passion of the Christ."  There are also several military glorification features trying to become the next "American Sniper," like Michael Bay's Benghazi movie, "13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi." and Mario van Peebles," "USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage."  Luc Besson's even getting in on the action with a Navy Seal treasure hunt movie, "The Lake."  At least nobody can claim Hollywood is full of liberals these days with a straight face.

There are more remakes than ever this year.  I'm trying to stay positive about "The Magnificent Seven" and "Pete's Dragon," which both have decent directors attached at least, but Timur Bekmembatov can't possibly be making anything decent out of the new "Ben-Hur," (yet another Bible picture) and are we really redoing "Jumanji" already?  This is one of the most bizarre projects on the schedule, with only a release date and two credited writers.  With no director or stars attached, how is a presumably effects-heavy film like this supposed to be ready for Christmas?  Then again, "Gambit" is technically still slated for October, and that doesn't have a director either.

And now we come to the saddest category, the movies from directors and stars who I've finally written off after too many disappointments.  Alex Proyas of "The Crow" and "Dark City" has been reduced to impending dreck like "Gods of Egypt," which he's already apologized for because of casting snafus.  Sacha Baron Cohen's screen creations seem to steadily be getting worse and worse, so I'll be avoiding "The Brothers Grimsby."  Then there's the Edward Zwick and Zhang Yimou "Great Wall" prestige pic, which looks like another misguided attempt by the Chinese to appeal to Western audiences via picturesque tragedy.

There are a lot of movies I simply don't know what to make of yet, that sound problematic when described, but I could still see being pulled off by talented people in the right circumstances - "Angry Birds," "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," "Sausage Party," and even "The Founder," the McDonald's origin story (yes, seriously).  We're just going to have to wait and see.

My most anticipated movie lists  will be coming in a month or two, after the schedule's been filled in a little more, and we have a better picture of what the year's going to look like.  Happy watching.

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