Until the 1970s, the best films made the most money at the box office. That changed over the next 20 years, so that by the time we got into the ’90s, there was little correlation between box office and quality.
Today, we are witnessing something else, Negation Relationship. “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” certainly isn’t bad, and “Top Gun: Maverick” is one of the best movies of the year. But a disproportionate number of recent box office movies have been truly terrible, and five of them qualify as among the worst films of 2022.
Basically, Hollywood keeps making blockbusters and people keep seeing them, for good or bad. Since this leaves Hollywood with little financial incentive to boost quality, we can, for now, expect more and more films like “Black Adam” and “Batman.”
No. 1: “Black Adam”
Dwayne Johnson has suppressed every ounce of his cinematic magic to play a grouchy, overly boring superhero who just can’t be killed, no matter how much audiences want him to. Johnson was surrounded by other DC superheroes, in a movie that was all work and not even remotely worth sitting through. Dead on screen, it’s the worst movie of the year and one of the worst movies ever made.
Number 2: Batman
In an epic act of directing misconduct, Matt Reeves allowed Robert Pattinson to play Batman on a single note of pain and misery – for a full three hours. You’d think someone approaching a Batman story would have a fresh take, given the crowded field of Batman movies, but Reeves offers nothing more than the dystopia of “Joker” minus the solid central performance.
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No. 3: Future Crimes
David Cronenberg’s most disgusting movie yet (and that’s saying something) takes place in a near future where people no longer experience pain, and so surgery becomes a form of performance art. Cronenberg then couples the concept with an idle story with a cast of characters who do nothing but lie around and chop.
The sex here consists of Léa Seydoux unboxing Viggo Mortensen and licking his internal organs. It’s worse than it looks.
No. 4. “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”
Leatherface walks into a bus full of millennials, and the next two minutes sound like they’re chopping liver in a food processor while pressing the “pulse” setting. This is just the highlight. Deprived, unintelligent, unoriginal, and soulless, the 2022 sequel to this horror series, directed by David Blue Garcia, was 40 years after it scares anyone.
Number 5: A light year
This is not Buzz Lightyear’s story from “Toy Story”. Instead, it is supposed to be the movie – now follow this closely – that the kid saw from “Toy Story” in 1995, and that inspired him to buy the toy. Understood? Well, forget about it now. After a promising 20 minutes, the movie collapses into endless stretches of boring animated action and repeating similar incidents featuring a bland lead character. It’s not even close to Toy Story.
Number 6: “The Time of Armageddon”
The unwanted trend of directors making films about their childhood hits rock bottom with James Gray’s self-serving story of being a young teenager in New York, circa 1980. Meant to be a picture of an era, Gray completely misunderstands the anxieties of the era, while seemingly oblivious to the obnoxiousness of his youthful personality. Walk into the theater uninterested in Gray’s childhood and you’ll come out even less interested.
No. 7: “Jurassic World: Dominion”
The latest in this no-nonsense series is 146 minutes of people running away from dinosaurs, punctuated by light-hearted conversations where the good guys can’t understand that dinosaurs are the problem. In a world where you can’t walk because of Velociraptor, and you can’t get on a passenger plane because of dinosaurs getting stuck in an engine, it’s pretty clear that dinosaurs had to go — but not to the filmmakers, who saddle this installment with the wrong environmental message.
No. 8: “Clerks III”
Kevin Smith had a heart attack in 2018, and perhaps that’s why he’s handing out heart attacks like worksheets on Clerks III. Two main characters, played by Brian O’Halloran and Jeff Anderson, each suffer heart attacks, between scenes of raw banter and tired pop culture references. The movie is without drive, and the humor is as funny as coronary artery. The sequel was at least one movie – and a couple of infarcts – too many.
No. 8: “Thor: Love and Thunder”
“Thor” was once a superhero franchise that could do no wrong, but this sequel relies heavily on comedy, with jokes that aren’t funny and a story that lacks motivation. Christian Bale plays a complex villain, an earnest man on a misguided crusade—always the worst kind of villain, because he can’t inspire the audience’s strong hatred, only scorn. Chris Hemsworth, who seems destined to be funny in every scene, tries so hard that he’s not funny at all.
#9: “Avatar: The Way of Water”
James Cameron had the makings here for a sweet environmental parable, a computer-generated animation that’s no more than 85 minutes long. But why would he do that when he can stretch it into three hours and 12 minutes full of needless distractions and long, boring passages? Even worse, Cameron is planning two sequels, so expect at least nine hours of this nonsense.
It’s time to step in. Someone needs to sit down with Cameron and explain to him that this is not The Lord of the Rings and that he is not JRR Tolkien.
#10: “White Noise”
Noah Baumbach makes an honest attempt to adapt Don DeLillo’s novel, a chilling satire of modern life set in the 1980s. But the story highlights Baumbach’s two worst tendencies—his emotional coldness and difficulty with drama. The movie hangs in the middle and comes to a complete stop in the last hour.
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