Editorial: The Worst Films of 2019

Written by Patrick Holman, founder and managing editor of Salt Lake Film Review.

I don’t like to focus on the negative, but this year, it was too easy to narrow down a list for the worst movies of the year. Of course, this list is my opinion. Not everybody will agree and that is exactly how film criticism should be. Which movies do you think are the worst of 2019?

10. Isn’t It Romantic

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Mostly unfunny and too on the nose, Isn’t It Romantic is a movie that you either hate or love with little room in between. SLFR contributor Matt Bullions found himself enjoying the film, There Is Plenty to Love About ‘Isn’t It Romantic,’ but this thin story just drags on in spite of its ninety-minute run time. And, while Isn’t It Romantic is intended as a spoof of rom-coms, while also being one itself, it fails to hold up by falling victim to some of the same tropes it’s trying to satirize.

9. The Sun Is Also A Star

© 2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved
© 2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved

More than anything, The Sun Is Also A Star ended up being a disappointment. After months of watching the same trailer, which had a seemingly hypnotic lure to it, the movie looked interesting, and it appeared to have potential. And, with two talented actors, there was little reason to doubt that it would be good. But the story ended up going nowhere with no real resolution. The story that was suggested by the trailer, which had been pounded into us regular moviegoers, ended up being turned on its head, and it became something else. The premise, too, is just so unrealistic that there’s no interest in it or the characters trying to tackle their sudden dilemma.

8. Dark Phoenix

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
Courtesy of 20th Century Fox/Disney

Panned by critics and fans alike, Dark Phoenix outright failed to prove its worth. Serving as the end of the X-Men franchise under 20th Century Fox following Disney’s acquisition, this movie effectively retconned the previous films and the characters. Bombing at the box office, the film lost $170 million and disappointed many fans of the X-Men movies.

7. Brightburn 

© 2019 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
© 2019 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Brightburn promised us a unique twist. What if Superman, or somebody like Superman, went evil as a kid, instead of becoming the hero we know him to be? Tragically, the story here just doesn’t work. Brightburn is unnecessarily grotesque, and the visual effects are not as good as they could be, due in part to a small budget. The movie feels disjointed as it tries to hobble along to the climax. By the end, there is no payoff or satisfaction for having sat through it all, but it still manages to hint at a sequel. James Gunn, one of the producers, hinted at the possibility for such a sequel over the summer, so only time will tell.

6. Lucy in the Sky

© 2019 - Fox Searchlight
© 2019 – Fox Searchlight

Suffering from conflicting tones and pacing between the first and second halves, Lucy in the Sky is a fascinating plot with a notable cast. Sadly, due to some stylistic choices, viewing this movie is unenjoyable. Natalie Portman, an actor who has proven her worth, fails to connect with the character she’s portraying, and there’s no investment for the audience.

5. Gemini Man

Photo Credit: Ben Rothstein/Ben Rothstein - © 2019 Paramount Pictures.
Photo Credit: Ben Rothstein/Ben Rothstein – © 2019 Paramount Pictures.

Ang Lee’s experimentation with 120 FPS HFR didn’t work, and the CGI is horrendous. Poor writing and a lackluster story can’t be saved by fancy tech, no matter how bad it gets. What more is there to say?

4. Playing with Fire

© 2019 Paramount Pictures Corporation. All rights reserved.
© 2019 Paramount Pictures Corporation. All rights reserved.

Everybody deserves entertainment and to enjoy going to the movies, and kids are no exception. Kid’s movies should never be dumbed down or slapstick just to appeal to their target audience, but this is precisely what Playing with Fire does. It does children a disservice and doesn’t take them seriously. On top of that, it doesn’t appeal to the adults who are taking these kids and buying the tickets. The Kid Who Would Be King and, to a degree, Dora the Explorer are two better examples of live-action movies this year that don’t resort to treating kids as lesser than.

3. Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw

Photo by Daniel Smith - © 2019 Universal Pictures. All Rights Reserved.
Photo by Daniel Smith – © 2019 Universal Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

The writing is laughably bad, and the plot is so far-fetched. Hobbs and Shaw lacks any sophistication or finesse that, as the movie keeps going, it becomes grating. The Fast & Furious franchise has gone on long enough, and there’s simply no reason to be having an expansion of this movie universe.

2. Cats

Photo by Universal Pictures - © 2019 Universal Pictures. All Rights Reserved.
Photo by Universal Pictures – © 2019 Universal Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

Cats. The first trailer looked terrible. It was terrifying. The follow-up trailer didn’t help, nor did it offer anything new. And, then, the release of the movie. Describe as a fever dream and nightmarish, initial reviews couldn’t possibly capture the horror of this movie. None of it worked. The cats, with their fur technology, human faces, fingers, and feet, will disturb anybody. On top of all this, the movie was released mostly unfinished with shoddy CGI, inconsistencies, floating and faceless cats in the background, creepy mice and cockroaches, and Judi Dench’s wedding ring left in a couple shots. There’s no reason this movie should’ve ever been made, and it’s now headed for $100 million in losses, if not more.

1. Hellboy

Photo by Mark Rogers
Photo by Mark Rogers

Somehow Cats didn’t make it to the top spot. My initial review sums up the reasons why Hellboy held firm as the worst movie of the year:

The writing and screenplay for this movie are so all over the place that there really isn’t any cohesive story by the end. Parts of this movie seemed to just be filler. Reportedly, there were too many people involved in the production of this story, and it suffered as a result.

And, although there are some noteworthy makeup and visual effects to see here, there are a lot of moments that don’t work. They look bad, and it’s apparent that they’re computer-generated images or scenes that didn’t render well.

Most importantly, perhaps, is that Hellboy is a movie going through an identity crisis. It doesn’t really know if it wants to be a horror, comedy, action, or fantasy tale. Instead, it tries all of them at once and fails to pull any of them off. The tones that are set throughout the film just don’t compliment each other as they quickly change.


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