The Worst of 2016

A couple of weeks ago I did my Best of 2016 and highlighted some of the best movie experiences I had this year.  Now, I’m going to take a look at some of the worst and most disappointing experiences I’ve had this year, and this year was a doozy.  There were a large number of big-budget movies that fell somewhat flat, and some that were just atrocious.  So, let’s get this shitshow on the road.

Gods of Egypt

Oh, boy.  Where do I begin with this one?  I knew from the first moment that I saw the trailer for Gods of Egypt that this was not going to be a good movie.  It was loaded with CGI and a lot of that CGI was NOT good.  It was blatantly obvious at times.  The performances across the board were pretty awful, particularly Gerard Butler as Set.  The only one that managed to pull his own weight was Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Horus.  I’ll be honest, I enjoyed the film on a certain level, but when it comes to the director Alex Proyas, he’s done a hell of a lot better.  I mean, this is the guy that gave us The Crow and the twisted sci-fi noir film, Dark City.  He’s capable of making good movies, so what the hell happened here?  Egyptian mythology has incredibly great stories to tell, but Gods of Egypt just wasn’t good.


About 7 years ago, a little movie called Taken took the world by storm with a very cool story about Liam Neeson trying to save his daughter from the illegal sex trade and ended up being a thrilling film.  That would be a concept that work in a Western, wouldn’t it?  If handled properly, then yes.  However, Traded just doesn’t cut it.  It feels like a cheap Western knock-off of Liam Neeson’s movie, with Michael Pare in Neeson’s shoes.  His performance was pretty good, but everybody else just phoned it in.  In a kidnapping, there needs to be a sense of urgency, it’s why the good kidnapping thrillers work so well.  There’s a time-crunch involved.  Here, everybody seems to taking their time.  Bringing Kris Kristofferson into the mix was a good idea that was poorly executed.  He’s the kind of guy that belongs in Westerns, but he’s completely wasted here.  If it wasn’t for Michael Pare’s performance, this whole movie would be a complete waste of time.

Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice: Theatrical Edition

I know what you’re thinking:  How can Batman V. Superman be on both my best and worst lists?  Let me explain:  I actually really liked the film, but the extended version of the film was the better version.  The theatrical release was a mess, with plot threads that just….didn’t go anywhere.  My other big issue was that this movie shouldn’t have happened for another year or two at least.  Superman needed a second movie of his own to prove that he was a re-established character.  Instead, Snyder and company went full-bore into the Death and Life storyline that needed more time to set up.  I’m glad they’re doing it, it’s just too early.  As far as comic book movies go, this was not one of the better ones this year.


This one seems pretty obvious.  I guess if you haven’t seen the Charlton Heston version of the film, then it might be ok.  However, I did see Heston’s movie, and it is a far superior film in EVERY way.  The problems with the new movie are several.  For one, they took a large story that took Heston’s film 3.5 hours to tell, and whittled it down to 2 hours.  That means they cut out a LOT of important information and crucial character development.  Also, Jack Huston is no Charlton Heston.  I appreciate what they were trying to do with the film, but it feels like a pale imitation.  The chariot race, which was the big centerpiece of the previous film, is loaded with bad CGI.  I understand that doing a chariot race like that is cost-prohibitive, but it would have felt more real.  Also, I do like the fact that Messala gets more development as a character, but this was supposed to be Ben-Hur’s quest for redemption, not Messala’s.  It’s called Ben-Hur, not Messala.  It has its moments, I’ll give it that, but when stacked against the previous version, there really is no comparison.


Of all the movies that I’ve seen this year, this one hurts me the most.  I should have expected it, given the disastrous marketing and PR campaigns, but I held out hope that was going to be at least decent.  My initial review of the film gave it a 6/10, but the more I think about it, it doesn’t even deserve that.  I’m not revoking my score, but the new Ghostbusters was unmitigated cluster-fuck.  It has nothing to do with the cast, though, who did a fairly decent job with what they were given.  What they were given, however, was a poorly-written shit-show.  Top that off with a laughable villain and a horrendous new theme song and you have a film that really has no place in the Ghostbusters franchise.  Director Paul Feig has and is still trying to defend the film, even though, it was a box-office disaster.  It was not a good movie.  This was the movie that put me into a bit of a funk over the past few months for movies.  I didn’t see a movie in theaters until Doctor Strange came out.  That’s how much Ghostbusters disappointed me.  I may give it a second chance down the road, but I’m still irritated that this wasn’t the movie that we deserved.

Those are my personal picks for the worst movies for 2016, which is thankfully coming to a close.  I’m honestly hoping that next year is going to be better for more mainstream movies.  With a new Alien movie coming out and a new Blade Runner, we may have a decent year ahead of us, as far as movies go.  So, with that in mind, I hope everybody has a happy New Year, and I will see you in 2017.

RIP Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher
October 21, 1956-December 27, 2016

2016 has been a rough year, especially when it comes to celebrity deaths.  Alan Rickman, David Bowie, and Anton Yelchin all passed before their time.  But the one that truly stings the most is Carrie Fisher.  As of this writing, she died this morning after suffering a massive heart attack over the weekend.  Her mother, Debbie Reynolds had reported that Carrie was in stable condition as of last night.  Carrie had apparently gone into cardiac arrest on a flight.  They had to use CPR.  Her passing stings the most because she was such a trailblazer.  Her breakthrough performance was that of Princess Leia Organa in Star Wars.  She proved that not only could you have a strong female presence in an action movie, but also maintain a presence in a heavily male-dominated industry.  Carrie Fisher paved the way for future female action stars, which includes Charlize Theron, Zoe Saldana and Sigourney Weaver.  Not only did she stand tall with her male co-stars, but she stole the show at several times during the Original Trilogy.  She had since starred in movies like The Blues BrothersScream 3, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.  She had a very commanding presence when she stepped onto the screen.

It was not just her work on the screen that garnered attention.  She had since become a major advocate for mental health issues due to her own personal experiences with drug addiction and bipolar disorder.  Carrie Fisher had become a symbol of hope for so many people who also suffered from mental health issues.  Carrie Fisher was a mother, daughter, sister and a wonderful person to be around from all accounts.  Carrie Fisher is survived by by her mother, Debbie Reynolds; her daughter, Billie Lourd, and her brother, Todd Fisher.  For those of us who didn’t know her personally, we will always remember her as Princess Leia Organa.  Her life and her accomplishments should be celebrated.  The world is lesser for her loss, but is strengthened by what she has done.  Good-bye Carrie Fisher.  The Force will be with you, always.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Released: December 2016

Director: Gareth Edwards

Rated PG-13

Run Time: 134 Minutes

Distributor: Disney/Lucasfilm

Genre: Action/Science Fiction

Felicity Jones: Jyn Erso
Diego Luna: Cassian Andor
Alan Tudyk: K-2SO
Donnie Yen: Chirrut Imwe
Wen Jiang: Baze Malbus
Ben Mendelsohn: Orson Krennic
Forrest Whitaker: Saw Gerrera
Mads Mikkelson: Galen Erso

When Episode III: Revenge of the Sith was released, George Lucas said he would not do any more Star Wars movies.  While a great many people were relieved, because he botched the first two Prequel movie, others were concerned because Star Wars is an event that has to be seen on the big screen.  In 2012, Lucas sold his company and Star Wars to Disney for about 4 billion bucks.  Immediately after, Disney announced that they were going ahead with a new Star Wars trilogy, the first of which was released last year: The Force Awakens.  But, in addition to a new trilogy, Disney also announced a multitude of spin-off movies.  We are going to see a new Han Solo movie in the next two years, followed possibly by Boba Fett and Yoda.  But the first true non-episodical film is Rogue One.  So…how does Rogue One stack up against the other films in the franchise?  Let’s took a look, shall we?

The film opens as an Imperial scientist, Galen Erso tells his wife and daughter, Jyn to run, because the Galactic Empire is coming for him.  The Empire seeks his help in creating the ultimate weapon that will solidify the Empire’s control of the galaxy.  13 years later, we find Jyn arrested by the Empire, only to be rescued by the Rebel Alliance.  They were looking for her, because of her father’s work.  They want her to help them find Galen so they can stop this weapon from being used.  Reluctantly accepting the mission, Jyn sets out to find her father.  The story is not overly complex because it ties in directly with the original 1977 film.  That doesn’t make the story bad, though.  Far from it.  It’s a very compelling story that spans the entire galaxy.  While Rogue One IS a spin-off, it is a direct prequel to the original Star Wars.  As such, certain events in the film are predictable.  Again, that’s not a bad thing, as long as the rest of the film is up to the task of telling this particular story.  I can tell you now, Rogue One is quite possibly the best Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back.  I don’t say that lightly, because Episodes VI and VII are really good movies, but Rogue One truly feels like a Star Wars film, in tone and look.

What makes Star Wars so special, is not just the story and the way it is told, but also the characters that drive it, and Rogue One is no exception.  We’ve got some really amazing characters here.  Jyn, the daughter of an Imperial scientist, has more reason to hate the Empire than anyone, but she has to put that aside for the greater good.  Captain Cassian Andor is the head of the Rebel intelligence division and is willing to do whatever it takes to fight the Empire.  On the way, we meet an eclectic cast of characters, including Chirrut Imwe, a blind warrior who has adopted the teachings of the Jedi, even though he isn’t one himself.  His best friend, Baze, is a bruiser of a warrior with a massive gun.  They are joined by K-2SO, an Imperial droid that’s been reprogrammed to fight for the Rebels.  On the Imperial side, we have Director Orson Krennic, who leads the Empire’s secret project.  We also have Moff Tarkin, who is Darth Vader’s second-in-command who oversees Krennic’s projects.  All these characters are mostly well-written.  K-2SO is definitely a high-light because he’s sarcastic and funny.  That brings me to the acting.  It’s phenomenal.  Everybody here is on top of their game, because they want to make the best movie possible.  Felicity Jones is adequately feisty and determined as Jyn Erso.  Mads Mikkelson is sympathetic and noble, despite some of the choices the character is forced to make.  Donnie Yen shines as Chirrut Imwe, a blind warrior that manages to be funny and bad-ass at the same time.  He gets a good deal of screen-time.  I’ve always wanted to see Donnie Yen as a Jedi at some point, but this is close enough.  Ben Mendelsohn plays the film’s main villain of Orson Krennic.  He’s suitably scummy and not particularly likable.

From a visual standpoint, Rogue One excels.  I’ll tell you why.  The look and design of the film was based on both Episode IV and V.  The star destroyers actually look like models, even though they aren’t.  I’ll be honest with you, I’ve never seen the Death Star on the big-screen before.  The scale of the space station is extraordinary.  The design of the weapon and the way it fires is straight out of the Original Trilogy.  Like The Force Awakens, the film makers opted to use practical effects and puppets for certain scenarios, and it works wonderfully.  The set designs are incredible.  They have a size and scope that hasn’t been seen in years.  The costume designs are pulled directly from Episode IV.  The Imperial officers and stormtroopers are like something out of a time machine.  They use actual costumes.  The X-Wings and the Rebel Fleet are sublimely designed.  It’s visually astonishing.

What would a Star Wars movie be without action?  Rogue One puts the emphasis on Wars in Star Wars.  The perspective of this film is from the ground.  It’s gritty, brutal and intense.  The gun fights are exceptionally exciting, and some of the hand-to-hand scenes are unlike anything that I’ve seen in the entire series.  Donnie Yen’s character is a phenomenal fighter, despite the fact that he is blind.  He has a huge stick that he uses to take out stormtroopers in a fairly spectacular fashion.  He stick is also a giant crossbow that he can use to shoot things.  The scale of the battles is unbelievable.  When the Rebels take on the Empire towards the end of the film, they go up against a variant of the AT-AT walkers that you seen in Empire Strikes Back.  If there’s one thing that Gareth Edwards does well, is give a film a sense of size and scale.  The space battle is equally amazing with the Rebel Fleet taking on several star destroyers.  It has to be seen to be believed.  I went in to Rogue One expecting a decent film, but I was not expecting a great Star Wars movie, and that’s what it is.  It’s a great film.  It’s still not perfect, though.  Forrest Whitaker’s character has a really strange voice and doesn’t really do a whole lot.  Darth Vader is another issue.  Don’t get me wrong, when he’s on screen, he’s a major presence.  But that’s the also the problem, he’s not in the film a whole lot.  That being said, his presence is still felt.  You know he has to show up at some point, and his final scene in the film is nothing short of crazy.

Despite a few nitpicks here and there, Rogue One fires on all cylinders and doesn’t let up at all.  The story and the characters actually manage to give the original 1977 film more weight, because of what happens.  I didn’t think that was possible.  While the film isn’t particularly necessary, it does fill in a lot of gaps and addresses certain issues from A New Hope.  I’m just going to say it, Rogue One is easily the best Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back.  It’s emotionally engaging and visually exciting.  If you’re a Star Wars fan, this is a must-see.  If this film is any indication, I’m not particularly worried about the future of Star Wars.  At all.  This must be seen on the big screen.

My final score for Rogue One: 9.5/10.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Game of Thrones: Season 5


Released: 2015

Distributor: HBO

Peter Dinklage: Tyrian Lannister
Lena Headey: Cercei Lannister
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau: Jamie Lannister
Kit Harington: Jon Snow
Stephan Dillane: Stannis Boratheon
Gwendoline Christine: Brienne of Tarth
Aiden Gillan: Petyr Baelish
Maisie Williams: Arya Stark
Sophie Turner: Sansa Stark
Emilia Clarke: Daenerys Targaryen
Iain Glen: Jorah Mormont
Liam Cunningham: Davos Seaworth

I’ll be honest with you.  When I started doing this marathon, I wasn’t entirely certain that I was going to complete it.  But here are: 5 seasons down, 1 to go.  It’s been quite an interesting experience.  It’s been an epic journey.  50 1-hour long episodes in 5 days?  I’m immensely thankful for the opportunity to be able to do this.  It’s certainly been challenging, especially season 1, the more I watched the show, the more I wanted to continue.  It’s just too bad that there are only so many hours in a day to really immerse myself in the world of Westeros.  Yeah, some episodes were worse than others, but for the most part, everything has been almost consistently fantastic.  The show goes to some really dark places, but always offers a glimpse of hope for what’s to come.  With Season 5, things are darker than ever.

By the end of Season 4, we have witnessed the assassination of Joffrey Boratheon with Tyrion being accused of the crime.  We have also seen Daenerys Targaryen take control of another city and free more slaves.  With all the political intrigue in King’s Landing, the focus turned to the north with the wildlings with their “king” Mance Rayder finally taking the Wall head on and the Night’s Watch holding them back.  The late Catelyn Stark’s sister was pushed through the moon door by Petyr Baelish, who takes control of the Veil.  During Tyrion’s trial, we witness Tyrion unleashing his venom on everybody in the room and finally demanding trial by combat.  Tyrion’s champion, Prince Oberyn Martell challenges The Mountain, Gregor Clegan and ends up getting his head crushed in, sealing Tyrion’s fate.  Meanwhile, the young Tommen Boratheon becomes the king and takes Margaery Tyrell as his wife.  After spending time in the dungeons, Tyrion escapes with the help of his brother, Jamie.  Before leaving King’s Landing, Tyrion kills his father, Tywin Lannister.

Season 5 begins as Tyrion, shoved into a box, arrives in the land of Essos across the Narrow Sea.  He encounters Jorah Mormont, who was exiled by Daenerys Targaryen in the previous season.  During this time, the Boltons have taken control of Winterfell, with Roose Bolton being named the Warden of the North and Ramsay Snow finally being officially acknowledged as a Bolton.  While all of this is going on, King’s Landing is being beset by a new faction called The Faith Militant, lead by the mysterious High Sparrow.  Brutally murdering and accosting people who take part in certain….vices, The Faith Militant are a ruthless band of religious fanatics.  During the chaos in King’s Landing, the Night’s Watch has elected Jon Snow as the new Lord Commander, even though certain elements hate him.  Snow takes a group of Watchmen and takes them and one of the wildling prisoners north to save as many people as they can before the White Walkers show up.  Boy, if you thought that Season 3 had some “oh, shit” moments, you haven’t seen anything yet.  The story is phenomenal as always, but it really takes no prisoners here.  Nobody is safe, not even children.  Does that make the show mean-spirited?  Not necessarily, especially when you consider the crap that’s happened in OUR history.  Except, I’m pretty sure that nobody during Dark Ages faced an ancient army of the dead coming down from the north.

I have to admit, this is constantly keeping me on the edge of my seat, wanting to see what happens next.  That’s the mark of a great show.  It’s all handled as realistically as possible with characters that you love and hate, especially the ones that you LOVE to hate.  They are all very well written and extremely compelling.  The people that you thought would be villains don’t end up so black-and-white, so to speak.  Everyone here has their own motivations and reasons for what they are doing, even scumbags like Ser Allister Thorn of the Night’s Watch has legitimate reasons for doing what he does.  Yeah, the good guys definitely lose at times, but they also bounce back.  The acting, as usual, is extremely top-notch.

The visual effects are astounding.  The dragons are spectacular.  When they enter the picture, the pace just quickens and is absolutely astonishing.  The fight sequences are simply marvelous to behold, especially in the Arena towards the end of the season.  I have to admit, I really appreciate the fact that they employ practical effects when it comes to the blood and gore…mostly.  There are certain moments that require CGI, but it’s all done very well.  The music by Ramin Djawadi is epic and haunting.

There are a couple of major set-pieces during the season.  The first is the invasion of the White Walkers in the north, and this is not only epic, but it’s terrifying the way these suckers move.  Then you get your first glimpse of the Night King, the leader of the Walkers.  It’s brutal.  The second is when a group of assassins known as the Sons of the Harpy.  These were former slavers fighting against Daenerys’ rule.  It’s an epic battle, especially when the largest dragon enters the picture.  The battles in this show rival almost anything that’s come before in movies.  I’m not kidding.

Overall, it’s definitely an amazing and thrilling season that changes things going forward.  I have to admit, I was skeptical when I first heard about Game of Thrones.  I really was, but here I am, 5 seasons in and I’m captivated.  It’s that good.  Tomorrow marks the end of my current journey through Westeros until season 7 airs next year.  This has been one of the most awesome experiences that I’ve had on this website.  It’s been truly gratifying.  Now, when I finish Season 6, I will do an overall review of the show in general and give my final thoughts of Game of Thrones.

Score for the season: 9/10