What do you think was the worst movie of 2023?
2023 was a year that saw its share of cinematic highs, but not every film can be a hit. In a year marked by impressive releases, some movies unfortunately fell short of expectations. Here’s a look at the 10 films that didn’t quite make the mark.
This year’s cinematic landscape was a mix of highs and lows. Blockbusters like “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” invigorated the box office, while acclaimed directors Hayao Miyazaki with “The Boy and the Heron” and Martin Scorsese with “Killers of the Flower Moon” showcased their enduring talents. However, alongside these successes, there were films that didn’t resonate as well with audiences.
The movies that made this list were particularly noted for their lack of inspiration. They are obviously not the worst movies made, but they are massive bummer. These films not only failed to capture the audience’s imagination but also represented a waste of time and resources for viewers. Each of these movies, in their own way, contributed to a sense of disappointment in a year that also saw remarkable achievements in filmmaking.
Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire
“Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire,” directed by Zack Snyder, disappoints despite its stunning visuals and ambitious scope. Originally conceived as a Star Wars project, the film’s narrative and emotional depth fall flat. The story, inspired by “The Seven Samurai,” follows Kora (Sofia Boutella) assembling a team to fight imperial forces, but fails to engage due to underdeveloped characters and predictable plotlines. Snyder’s overuse of slow-motion action scenes further diminishes the impact. While visually impressive, the movie lacks the compelling storytelling and character development necessary for a memorable experience, ending as an incomplete setup for future installments.
The Family Plan
“The Family Plan” emerges as a disheartening example of formulaic and uninspired filmmaking in the action-comedy genre. Mark Wahlberg’s role as a suburban dad and secret assassin fails to deliver, with his performance criticized for lacking depth and nuance. The film’s attempt at blending humor and action falls flat, burdened by clichéd tropes and predictable storytelling. Action sequences, particularly those involving Wahlberg and an infant, are criticized for their implausibility and lack of creativity. The supporting cast is trapped in a lackluster script that offers little opportunity for impactful performances. Overall, “The Family Plan” is a forgettable and disappointing venture, failing to engage or bring anything new to its genre.
“65,” a sci-fi adventure starring Adam Driver as a rogue space explorer fighting dinosaurs, promised a thrilling experience. Directed by the writers of “A Quiet Place” and produced by Sam Raimi, expectations were naturally high for an exhilarating ride. However, the film turned out to be a disappointing slog through a prehistoric Earth. Its premise, reminiscent of a sci-fi twist on “The Last of Us,” lacked the necessary thrills or chills to keep the audience engaged. Driver’s journey escorting a young girl named Koa, played by Ariana Greenblatt, through this perilous world, failed to capture the excitement or emotional depth it aimed for. The movie’s inability to leverage its strong cast and creative team resulted in a forgettable experience that fell short of its potential.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” marked a noticeable decline in the franchise’s reception. Once a series met with widespread anticipation, this phase of Marvel films, starting with “Quantumania,” has seen diminished enthusiasm. Criticized for its lackluster visuals and a departure from the witty banter that made Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man a fan favorite, the film struggled to maintain the charm of its predecessors. The absence of Michael Peña’s Luis was keenly felt, removing a layer of humor and personality from the narrative. Additionally, the film’s focus on introducing Jonathan Majors’ Kang, who is now controversially being replaced, overshadowed other elements, leading to a disjointed and unsatisfying cinematic experience.
Heart of Stone
Netflix’s “Heart of Stone” was another attempt by the streaming giant to establish a foothold in the action franchise domain. Starring Gal Gadot as an international agent tasked with protecting an artificial intelligence system known as “The Heart,” the film aimed to replicate the success of spy thrillers like “Mission: Impossible.” However, it missed the mark. The film’s exploration of AI themes was superficial at best, failing to delve into the complexities or potential narratives that such a concept offers. Gadot and Jamie Dornan’s performances were criticized as lackluster, with a sense that both actors were merely going through the motions. This film adds to Netflix’s growing list of underwhelming action projects, indicating a struggle to find the right formula for success in this genre. Read our full review here.
The Exorcist: Believer
“The Exorcist: Believer,” directed by David Gordon Green, was an attempt to breathe new life into the iconic “Exorcist” series. Despite bringing back Ellen Burstyn and introducing Leslie Odom Jr. to the franchise, the film failed to recreate the horror and intrigue of the original. Criticized for its ineffectiveness in delivering scares, creating a tense atmosphere, or offering a fresh perspective on Christian mythology and the concept of evil, it fell flat. Unlike Green’s initial success with the “Halloween” series, “The Exorcist: Believer” was unable to capture the essence that made the original so impactful. The film’s failure to engage audiences with its narrative or horror elements resulted in a reboot that was forgettable and uninspired, much to the disappointment of fans of the franchise.
Based on Kristen Roupenian’s New Yorker short story, “Cat Person” explores the complexities of modern dating through the eyes of Margot, a 20-year-old college student, and her troubling interaction with an older man. While the original story was a poignant reflection on dating dynamics, the film adaptation, starring Emilia Jones and Nicholas Braun, strayed into hyperbolic territory. Its transformation into a heavy-handed “social thriller” with a clichéd horror sequence diluted the story’s nuanced exploration of communication and consent. The film’s deviation from the source material’s subtlety to an overemphasized dramatic end was a disservice to the narrative, overshadowing the commendable performances of its leads.
White Men Can’t Jump
The remake of the 1992 cult classic “White Men Can’t Jump” fell drastically short of its predecessor. The original film, starring Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes, was known for its humor and chemistry, but this rendition, featuring rapper Jack Harlow and Sinqua Walls, failed to capture the same essence. Harlow’s portrayal of Jeremy, an irritating basketball player, alongside Walls’ Kamal, a former basketball prodigy, rendered the plot unbelievable. The film’s premise, centered around hustling in basketball games, lacked credibility and humor, turning what could have been a refreshing modern take on a beloved film into a disjointed and humorless take.
“Ghosted,” an action romcom starring Chris Evans and Ana de Armas, was a disappointment despite its talented cast. The film follows a D.C. honey farmer (Evans) who gets entangled with a CIA operative (de Armas). Though it aimed to blend thrilling action with romantic comedy, it fell flat, offering tedious action sequences and surprisingly lackluster chemistry between the leads. The plot’s predictability and lack of engaging twists made the narrative feel uninspired, failing to utilize the full potential of its charismatic stars. Strike two, Chris Evans.
Kenya Barris’ “You People,” a contemporary take on the interracial-relationship theme, unfortunately did not live up to expectations. Despite a cast featuring comedy powerhouses like Eddie Murphy, Jonah Hill, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the film struggled to deliver laughs. Its editing style, reminiscent of a sitcom, and an unclear genre focus detracted from the narrative. The film also faced criticism for presenting problematic stereotypes and unchallenged antisemitic conspiracy theories, further diminishing its impact. The CGI-kiss at the end between Hill and Lauren London symbolized the film’s lack of authenticity and coherence, marking it as a significant misstep in Barris’ otherwise impressive career.
Anna Nicole Smith: You Don’t Know Me
Ursula Macfarlane’s Netflix documentary “Anna Nicole Smith: You Don’t Know Me” stands in stark contrast to the recent trend of documentaries that aim to humanize pop culture figures plagued by media scrutiny. While films like “Amy” and “Framing Britney Spears” sought to explore the human side of their troubled subjects, this documentary on Anna Nicole Smith veers towards a more exploitative approach. By focusing predominantly on Smith’s scandals, the film indulges in the same sensationalism it purports to critique. This singular focus on scandal over substance ignores the multifaceted nature of Smith’s life and experiences, resulting in a documentary that feels more like unsavory voyeurism than a thoughtful examination of a complex individual’s life.
Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey
“Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey” is a radical departure from the innocence of A.A. Milne’s beloved 1926 children’s book. Director Rhys Frake-Waterfield took advantage of the work entering the public domain to create a low-budget slasher film featuring Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet as murderers. This concept, executed with a meager budget and within a 10-day shooting schedule, resulted in a film that lacks creativity and depth, falling into the trap of gratuitous violence and gore. The movie’s approach, transforming cherished childhood characters into simplistic horror villains, appears more as a cynical exploitation of intellectual property rather than a genuine artistic endeavor. The final product, criticized for its blandness and lack of originality, stands as an example of a misguided adaptation that fails to offer anything meaningful or innovative to its audience.