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Top 10 worst movies of 2019

Writer: Casey Chong


Men in black, please erase our memories of all the bad movies of 2019.

With 2019 is nearing its end, it's time to look back at the list of movies that have been released over the past 12 months.


From big-budget fiascos regardless of a sequel, remake, and spin-off to a potential small-scale genre movie that fails to capitalise on their respective potential, here we have rounded up our Top 10 worst movies of 2019!

10) "Angel Has Fallen"

Poor Gerard Butler, who previously saved the day twice as Secret Service Agent Mike Banning in
"Olympus Has Fallen" and "London Has Fallen" finds himself wrongfully accused in "Angel Has Fallen".

The first two "Fallen" movies in the franchise, 2013's "Olympus Has Fallen" and even 2016's "London Has Fallen", were best described as guilty-pleasure entertainment in the vein of a "Die Hard"-like action-movies. But franchise newcomer Ric Roman Waugh of 2013's "Snitch" and 2017's "Shot Caller" tries to shake things up by abandoning the same aforementioned template previously seen in the first two movies. Instead, he goes for "The Fugitive"-style chase thriller, with Gerard Butler's Agent Mike Banning playing a fugitive wrongfully accused of being involved in an attempted assassination of the US president (Morgan Freeman). It could have been a refreshing change of pace but "Angel Has Fallen" does the impossible by turning into a surprisingly dull action thriller, complete with shoddy green-screen works all around. Even the action sequences are mostly shot either in epilepsy-inducing camerawork or frustratingly dim lighting. The story itself is a tedious slog, making its 2-hour runtime seem like an eternity. Only the well-executed massive drone strike seen earlier in the movie and the later introduction of Nick Nolte's perfectly-grizzled supporting role as Mike Banning's war-veteran father are the saving grace of this sequel.

9) "The Hustle"

Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson play two opposing con artists in the uninspired
gender-swap remake of "The Hustle".

Remember "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels"? That popular 1988 remake of 1964's "Bedtime Story" previously starring Marlon Brando and David Niven was largely successful, thanks to the spot-on pairing of Michael Caine and Steve Martin as two con artists trying to outsmart each other. Then came "The Hustle", which pairs Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson in this gender-swap remake. Where Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson have their moments as two mismatched con artists, most of the accompanied humorous banter and visual gags largely miss the mark.

8) "Men In Black: International"

Not even the would-be winning chemistry between "Thor: Ragnarok" co-stars Chris
Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson can save this lazy "Men In Black" spin-off.

Seriously, who asked for this unnecessary "Men In Black" spin-off anyway? Instead of finding ways to reunite Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in the long-rumoured "Men In Black 4", we have all-new leads played by Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson. On paper, it looks as if the pairing of Hemsworth and Thompson would have been a winning choice, especially given their memorable onscreen chemistry together in "Thor: Ragnarok" (2017) and this year's "Avengers: Endgame". But Art Marcum and Matt Holloway's overall bland screenplay gave them little to work with, while F. Gary Gray of "Law Abiding Citizen" and "Fast & Furious 8" fame delivers more like a work-for-hire project than a visionary director. "Men In Black: International" is more of a lame excuse for a so-called "spin-off" other than being a thinly-disguised reboot. Ironically, the supporting cast, notably Emma Thompson's brief appearance as Agent O as well as Kumail Nanjiani's scene-stealing voice performance as the little alien creature nicknamed Pawny, fares surprisingly better than Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson.

7) "Ma"

Octavia Spencer's committed performance as the titular "Ma" clearly deserved
better material than Tate Taylor's misguided slog of psychological horror.

Here's a prime example that even a committed performance from Octavia Spencer as the titular antagonist can't do much to save the movie. In what could have been a lurid and macabre psychological horror about a lonely woman with a hidden agenda, director Tate Taylor (2016's "The Girl On The Train") sets out to make it as deliberately-paced as possible. The result is an unnecessary slog hampered by an erratic pace even if it is supposed to run a tight 99 minutes, with the movie's repetitive party scenes during the second act stretching more than it should.

6) "Annabelle Comes Home"

A scene from "Annabelle Comes Home".

A possessed doll, haunted house-like setting, long silences, darkness and a whole lot of jump scares, it's all business as usual in this third "Annabelle" movie, which also marks the directorial debut of Gary Dauberman, the screenwriter who wrote the first two movies as well as last year's "The Nun". The added cameo appearances of Vera Farmiga's Lorraine Warren and Patrick Wilson's Ed Warren from "The Conjuring" movies was a nice touch. But "Annabelle Comes Home" is pretty much a lazy rehash of the same old jump scare-heavy formula. It doesn't help either that the screenplay lacks any serious emotional and dramatic weight, while most of the young cast are largely forgettable.

5) "Dumbo"

The lifelike CGI re-creation of the titular baby elephant with oversized floppy
ears can't save "Dumbo" from mediocrity.

Given all the behind-the-scenes and onscreen talents involved (Tim Burton, Colin Farrell, Eva Green, Michael Keaton and Danny DeVito) along with the familiar theme of social outcast that totally is Burton's major forte, the live-action version of "Dumbo" should have been a clear winner. Instead, it was a strangely misguided effort. Ehren Kruger's overly-padded script that fails to dig deep beyond its surface, coupled with bland characters is among the biggest faults here. Even the movie itself is technically uneven, particularly how artificial the way the effects team blend the CG-heavy environment with the live-action sets and characters. While there are few worthwhile moments including the lifelike CGI re-creation of the Dumbo character and the surrealistic "pink elephant" sequence, "Dumbo" is pretty much a missed shot.

4) Anna

Russian model-turned-actress Sasha Luss in a scene from "Anna".

By right, "Anna" should have been a great comeback effort for Luc Besson. Besides, he made the right choice revisiting the "La Femme Nikita" a.k.a. "Nikita"-like genre territory, the one that put him on the international map in the first place. Not to mention he has a knack of making an entertaining female-fronted action movie, as evidently seen in the aforementioned movie as well as "Lucy" starring Scarlett Johansson. Yet, "Anna" feels like a poor man's carbon copy of "La Femme Nikita" made by a hack trying to pretend he's the next Luc Besson. If that's not enough, Besson's screenplay is unnecessarily convoluted and confusing. His ill-fated decision of including lots of non-linear time jumps do not help either, as they are more of a distracting gimmick than a unique piece of storytelling device. The director even took a huge gamble on a largely untested actress, a Russian fashion model named Sasha Luss whose only acting credit was 2017's "Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets". She may have an icy-cold look of a female assassin and even does a good job in the action department in the heavily-promoted restaurant shootout scene, but her overall performance is as wooden as a plank.

3) "Invincible Dragon"

Max Zhang squares off against former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva in
this unbelievably odd movie of an action thriller in "Invincible Dragon".

Fruit Chan's rare venture into the mainstream film territory should be a cause for celebration. Besides, we are talking about one of the most reputable Hong Kong auteurs who gave us indie classics like "Made In Hong Kong" (1997) and "The Longest Summer" (1998). And with rising martial-arts star Max Zhang of "Ip Man 3" and "Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy" fame in the lead role, "Invincible Dragon" sounds like a great action thriller-in-the-making. But in what could have been an entertaining mix of police procedural and revenge thriller, Chan goes overboard with his direction. The result is a colossal mess of various ideas thrown altogether including everything from black comedy to neo-noir detective mystery and a metaphorical fairy-tale mumbo jumbo involving Max Zhang's character sporting dragon tattoos on his body. Even Max Zhang's highly-anticipated showdown against former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva is largely a disappointment, thanks to Chan's insistence of framing most of the action in tight close-ups.

2) "Pocong The Origin"

The lack of proper lighting plays a huge part in this tepid supernatural horror, "Pocong The Origin".

On paper, the idea of incorporating supernatural horror tropes with a road-movie genre sounds like a promising combination, but co-writer and director Monty Tiwa hits rock-bottom in "Pocong The Origin", a horror movie where darkness takes a whole new level in the most literal way possible. Put it this way, it's like as if Tiwa and cinematographer Anggi Frisca figured out that utilising lots of pitch-black darkness and dim lighting would elevate a genuine sense of foreboding dread and eerie atmosphere. Instead, their ill-fated creative decisions are painfully misguided from the get-go. The movie is an epic failure on every level, it's neither scary nor spooky, the added comedy elements are all awkwardly misplaced while both characters and the story are disappointingly underdeveloped.

1) "Charlie's Angels"

The new and younger trio of Elizabeth Banks' propaganda-infused "Charlie's Angels" can't really
hold a candle against the OG trio of Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu.

This so-called continuation/reboot of "Charlie's Angels" movie is best described as D.O.A. (dead on arrival). Even before the movie hits the big screen, the trailer itself was already a clear indication of a disaster waiting to happen. So, what went wrong? Two words: Elizabeth Banks. She is clearly out of her league for this type of espionage genre, while her attempt to shove her agenda about female empowerment barely making much of a lasting impression. Problem is, the story limps around as it tries hard to be both serious and funny. The first two "Charlie's Angels" (yes, even the inferior second movie of "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle") mainly worked because of the memorable trio played by Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu. But the same cannot be said with the new movie's younger leads including Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska. While the latter two are adequate enough for their roles, Kristen Stewart is sadly miscast as one of the new Angels. It's kind of strange that she did improve a lot in her acting skill since appearing in acclaimed indie movies like "Clouds Of Sils Maria" and "Personal Shopper", and yet, her supposedly much-anticipated comeback to mainstream Hollywood sees the actress falling back into her same old self, a disappointingly wooden acting with the infamous vacant expression.

Cinema Online, 24 December 2019


Related Movies:
Angel Has Fallen (22 Aug 2019)
The Hustle (09 May 2019)
Men In Black: International (13 Jun 2019)
Ma (25 Jul 2019)
Annabelle Comes Home (27 Jun 2019)
Dumbo (28 Mar 2019)
Anna (20 Jun 2019)
Invincible Dragon (Mandarin) (20 Jun 2019)
Pocong The Origin (Indonesian) (15 Aug 2019)
Charlie's Angels (14 Nov 2019)

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