Season 6 Finale, Pt 2
Normally, these year-end lists consist of a Best Of and a brief round-up of the year’s trash, 2022 brought some really interesting trash that’s worth revisiting. Counting down, the worst films of 2022. Yes, there are probably worse, direct-to-video releases, but these are the movies that should have known better.
10) Men (Dir. Alex Garland)
My fandom for sci-fi maestro Alex Garland was stretched to the breaking point with his pretentious, self-involved Men, which is exactly as subtle as it’s title would suggest. This oh-so-serious elevated horror film becomes profoundly silly in it’s third act feminist body horror fantasy. This movie tries so hard Garland has to be hiding something.
9) Turning Red (Dir. Domee Shi)
Further proof that once air-tight quality control at Pixar has slipped through their fingers, Turning Red is their most loud, garish and obvious film since Cars 2, a movie that has soured in my mind the more I turned it over. From it’s unappealing lead to it’s magical tropes to it’s big, Kaiju ending, this movie feels like something Dreamworks would have banged out. While it’s a more child-friendly watch than the other menstruation metaphor film Ginger Snaps, you may just want to wait a few more years or read a book if Turning Red is the option.
8) Moonfall (Dir. Roland Emmerich)
Not only do we know Roland Emmerich can do better than this, he’s made this exact movie before better several times. This story of the moon falling to earth, causing gravity to go crazy (as one character puts it) and the alien conspiracy theory behind it should have been bonkers B-movie fun, instead, the movie is entirely flat, constructed entirely out of Emmerich’s favorite story points – not worldwide disasters – but conspiracy theories and estranged fathers.
7) The Lost City (Dir. Aaron and Adam Nee)
This one seems like a clever, promising idea to satirize romance novel conventions that spiraled out of creative control and was overwhelmed with studio mandates. And what a mess it becomes, a contradiction of different goals that slap together as if assembled in the dark. A good cast clatters around trying to liven up the jokes or the action but the film lacks either. Will the grieving widow fall in love with he romance novel model while being kidnapped into an expedition that the history-minded author would interested in going on anyway? What?
6) Pinocchio (Dir. Robert Zemeckis)
A good case for the most pointless remake of Disney’s live action remake machine, Pinocchio featuring a camped-out Tom Hanks, a lead character without a personality and no ending at all, offers no reason for it’s existence and takes forever to get to that. With a Pinocchio design identical to the original Disney film, large sections of the film that consist of all CGI characters talking to each other and a movie that punts the entire “will he become a real boy?” theme out of the plot, it’s abundantly clear that this overly long, deeply lazy and cynical film isn’t made for kids at al, but nostalgic adults.
5) Where the Crawdads Sing (Dir. Olivia Newman)
An immersive book written with beautiful prose and designed for beach reading becomes a very literal film that plays like a parody of exactly this kind of self important Lifetime Original Movie. Daisy Edgar-Jones gets hoisted on the audience once again as Kyra Clar, a poor, illiterate girl who lives in a swamp, suffers her drunken father’s abuse and is accused of an absurd crime by a town out to get her. To any extent the story thinks Kyra is the misunderstood Boo Radley figure gets contradicted by a Hollywood fantasy that proports women not only want to be lavished with love and good luck, but to do so while bringing nothing to the table. Not even being a social pariah who lives in a swamp is enough to stop boys from rowing up to Kyra’s shack, wanting to teach her to read and falling in love with her while big publishing houses leaping at the chance to wine and dine her for her shell drawings. And then there is the ending, that contradicts everything that came before it.
4) Jurassic World: Dominion (Dir. Colin Trevorrow)
More baffling and disappointing than terrible, that the supposed Jurassic Park saga ends with this overpopulated, underdeveloped groan that rehashes the original film, traffics in nostalgia instead of having a single new idea and seems to have no clue why anyone likes this series in the first place puts a bullseye on how studios treat their franchises. Dominion follows a series of franchises that anyone in the world would be happy to have the opportunity to adapt that squashes it’s potential and hates its fans. That this movie was supposedly the final chapter of a series that was planned since 2015 is even more disheartening and raises the question if any big studio franchise has any incentive to be good again. Instead of dinosaurs running wild on the mainland and a battle to prevent the extinction of the human race we get Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler sneaking around in a lab to stop locusts.
3) The Lair (Dir. Neil Marshall)
Neil Marshall, a filmmaker who can put together good films as well as good camp, tries to retread his cult favorite Dog Soldiers with a lack of invention or drive that matches his shoestring budget. The result is a laughably bad piece of trash that fits right in with direct-to-video mockbusters. A generic monster movie with grunting military tropes, action that leaps from one cliche to the next and a budget that can’t even afford to show the monster attacks. This is the guy who made The Descent!
2) Blonde (Dir. Andrew Dominik)
From the filmmaker behind the beautiful historical neo-classic The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Andrew Dominik crafts a visually inventive torture porn film to rival any Saw movie. A cruel highlight reel of the tortures and humiliations of Marylin Monroe that wastes the talent of Ana De Armas in turning Monroe into a one-dimensional receptacle for victimhood with no decisions or benefits of her own. A reprehensible 3 hour sleaze-fest that exploits Monroe and De Armas under the guise of satirizing Hollywood exploitation. I couldn’t hate this movie more.
1) The Bubble (Dir. Judd Apatow)
All of director Judd Apatow’s worst instincts as a comedy filmmaker – relying on non-comedians to improvise the jokes, lengthy pacing and name-dropping galore – power an attempt to reverse engineer Tropic Thunder in the middle of a supposed satire of Hollywood’s operation during the Covid-19 pandemic where rich and famous actors have to endure the same tests and quarantines as everyone else. Apatow is way too close to his subject here, too inside the industry to properly skew what needs to be skewed and as a result the targets are misplaced in every direction. Every outsider element that made Tropic Thunder one of the best comedies of the last decade, works against Apatow here. Worse, between the TikTok dance numbers and the waste of Karen Gillian’s comic talent (which can be seen in this year’s The Dual) is the satire of a bad movie. When movies parody movies they never actually satirize the audience’s real criticism of them – that they are lazy, derivative, unbelievable, full of holes, etc – but instead creates a work so overly silly or offensive that it throws off real criticism for something everyone can agree is bad. This is what Apatow is doing with this deeply unfunny film. That totally tone-deaf depiction is either clueless to what people want or deliberately ignoring valid criticism to pretend the audience is stupid. Either way, it’s an insight into what is so rotten inside this industry.
Don’t Worry Darling, Thor: Love and Thunder, Halloween Ends, Not Okay, Lightyear, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Uncharted, The Forgiven, The Invitation, Wendell & Wild, Abandoned.