Fantasy is one of the most inventive and wonderful genres out there. Works like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings often make the world a magical place and touch our hearts deeply. Fantasy can take us to whole new worlds and show amazing beauty. Fantastical horror can scare us silly while we're perfectly safe. However, sometimes fantasy can be so badly written that harsh reality will seem infinitely preferable. 2016 had some great fantasy movies to offer, like Kubo and the Two Strings and A Monster Calls. But it also had some total duds.
What were the worst fantasy movies last year? And why was it that they didn’t work? This list will take a look and hope the mistakes won’t be repeated next year. Be sure to check out The Top 10 Worst Sci-fi Movies of 2016 for comparison.
Warcraft: The Beginning (Directed by Duncan Jones)
Warcraft proved that video game movies can be bad even with a big budget and impressive CGI. Overstuffed with exposition and way too many characters, most of whom can barely speak through their giant tusks, the film left characterization and coherence in the dust. The film tried to stuff way too much action and lore into one adventure.
Exciting gameplay is translated into numbing and repetitive action scenes and while World of Warcraft seemed pretty fresh as a video game when it came out, the way it’s translated to the big screen feels like a Lord of the Rings ripoff. It’s hard to remember any of the character’s names because they’re indistinguishable from each other. I mean, there’s a sexy orc lady who’s all chained up. That’s about all I can remember and honestly, probably what the movie felt was most important too.Advertisement
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (directed by Tim Burton)
I remembered enjoy the book for Miss Peregine’s Home for Peculiar Children, but the movie rushes things so much it feels like it’s going through the motions. We don’t really get to know any of the “peculiar children” and the movie has none of the book’s heart or emotional center- it’s hard to be attached to anyone. There are admittedly some nice visuals, but a lot of them feel like they’re recycled form other Burton movies.
Some important themes are left by the way side- in the book, the protagonist is Jewish and there’s a bit of the book where there’s a question of whether the monsters his grandfather talks about are supernatural or the Nazis who hunted his family. This is completely taken out of the film, which robs the story of some much-needed depth. The changes made also lead to a ridiculous amount of gaping plot holes. It may look like a generic passable movie, but when you look at the source material, it’s quite sad to see what was lost.
Underworld: Blood Wars (directed by Anna Foerster)
The Underworld series has been slogging for a while and the fifth installment might be its worst. It’s hard to tell at this point. It delivers the typical blood splatter and violence, but no actual story or anything worth caring about. The fight scenes are choppy and poorly edited. There are a couple cool action moments, but they’re few and far between. At this point, the movie franchise feels as dead as the vampires that it focuses on. One critic suggested a drinking game based on how many times the characters said “war”. That is indeed probably the best and only way to enjoy yourself if you have to watch this movie.
The Angry Birds Movie (Directed by Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly)
You can’t really expect a movie based on an app to be fantastic. Nobody wants to know why the angry birds are so angry, guys. We just want to play the game. The movie argues that being an angry, intolerant, violent jerk is actually a super great thing that makes certain people “different” and “special” and will someday come in handy. It’s certainly a weird message for a kids movie. Even weirder is the “don’t trust foreigners” undercurrent the thing has.
But hey, at least it looks nice. If you can ignore the weird subtext, the endless snot jokes and the banality of the whole thing and just look at the cool textures, you might come out okay.
Blair Witch (directed by Adam Wingard)
The original The Blair Witch Project didn’t work so much because it was a good movie, but because it had a killer marketing campaign. Using viral marketing, it had people convinced it really was based on a true story. It was also one of the earliest “found footage’ horror films, so it was fresh and exciting at the time.
It’s not fresh and exciting anymore, and the people behind the franchise need to realize the original can’t be replicated. This new Blair Witch movie pretty much shamelessly rehashes what came before. The updated technology just makes it clear that it was made by a studio and not an actual group of students. There are too many characters and none of them are memorable. This is not as bad as Book of Shadows was, but Blair Witch really needs to stop blaring on.
Alice: Through The Looking Glass (directed by James Bobin)
Alice: Through the Looking Glass truly took the wonder out of Alice in Wonderland. The first movie wasn’t exactly memorable or beloved, but at least had a few interesting moments. This movie is doesn’t even come close to the humor and whimsy of Lewis Carroll’s stories.
Even the aethestic was lacking. Rather than a visual wonder it looked more like a someone vomited up a candy store. The actors all seemed disheartened, dispirited and uninterested in what they were doing. And who could blame them? They were stuck in a Tim Burton sequel without Tim Burton even there.
The Huntsman: Winter's War (Directed by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan)
An unnessecary follow-up to Snow White and the Huntsman, Winter’s War is basically Frozen muddled by 10 million subplots and completely lacking in any catchy musical numbers. The movie can’t decide if it’s about a campy rivalry between two sisters (one of whom has magic ice powers and runs away to an ice kingdom after being freaked out by her sister, no lie) or the soulless romance between a pair of child soldiers. Charlize Theron is a great villain in all her scenery-chewing glory, but she’s not in the movie enough to inject it with the life it needs.
This movie is a follow-up to Snow White and the Huntsman but Snow White's not even in it- Kirsten Stewart does not return to reprise the title role from the first movie and that was probably a good decision on her part. This movie is half-prequel, half sequel and all mess.
Nine Lives (Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld)
I love cats. Honestly, I’d typically be okay with any kind of movie, if it was about a cat. But this cat movie could make even a cat-lover cry. Heck, it could probably make a cat cry. After being cursed, a neglectful dad switches bodies with the family cat. Watching the movie, you feel horribly sorry for the cat that was forced to act in it. All the other actors knew what they were signing on for. But this cat….it was innocent.
Yeah, so the movie is utterly lifeless, completely clichéd and fails to deliver a single good joke. Most of the jokes revolve around cat pee, poop and dad being emasculated or whatever. Even kids deserve better humor than that. Also probably not great for a kid’s movies: suicide jokes and a woman casually discussing pulling the plug on her comatose husband. There’s no one this movie was for. It even snubbed its nose at what should have been its target audience, cat people, by saying cats don’t care if their owners live or die.
Gods of Egypt (directed by Alex Proyas)
Venture into a fantastical Egyptian world where Egyptians are predominantly white and have English accents! I mean, there’s Chadwick Boseman and like, a bunch of people of color as nameless extras to cheer for their giant white gods, I guess. It’s groundbreaking. And if that isn’t enough fantasy for you, there’s ancient Egyptian skyscrapers, an old guy fighting a giant worm in a space boat…well, that’s pretty much all that’s worth talking about really.
The movie is mostly fake-looking cgi, jumpy editing, gaudy gilt-like gold sets and incoherent storytelling. It can’t even really keep to its genre. Though it’s supposed to be a sword-and-sorcery fantasy, it inexplicably looks sci-fi at times with the Gods transforming into weird android warriors and random death lasers galore. It’s ridiculous and not in a fun way.
The Forest (directed by Jason Zada)
An American goes to a real-life suicide hotspot in Japan and is menaced by the exotic evil there. If that sounds hunky-dory to you, think about it the way this reviewer put it:
"Imagine a Japanese horror film called The Bridge, in which a man travels to San Francisco after hearing that his troubled twin brother was last seen on the Golden Gate Bridge—notoriously a spot where people go to kill themselves. He learns from a string of kooky, panic-mongering locals that people often hear voices or see bad things while on the bridge, and that demons can latch themselves on to your sadness and trick you into doing awful things. But he gets a native guide to take him there, and embarks on a journey where he has visions of giggling, demented American school girls, and is chased by angry spirits [of suicide victims]."
Yeah, you can bet many people in SanFran would be upset if a tragic location and real mental health epidemic that claims loved ones to this day were trivialized for the sake of jump scares. Of course, The Forest makes it clear it doesn’t believe Japanese suicide is a real tragedy anywhere near as important as dead white girls. This is best exemplified by a scene where, while the guide talks a Japanese guy out of killing himself in the forest, the leads casually ignore that trivial situation and discuss the missing American girl instead.
It’s not really that a horror movie about suicide should be off-limits or something. It could be something really bone-chilling and full of meaningful commentary. Mental illness is kind of a horror show and ripe for metaphors. But this movie doesn’t have anything to say about suicide, it’s only cares about shilling exotic stereotypes and cheap thrills. And on top of all that? It isn’t even scary or engaging. Like, a factual documentary on the place would probably bring out more terror in an audience. In the movie, it’s just an obstacle course of corny demons and endless tripping and falling with long stretches of boring.