The summer blockbuster season is officially upon us, gifting us with some of the most anticipated releases of the year. Typically, it’s a time for celebration among fandoms. People rejoice at the premieres of their favorite sequels, reboots, and every once in a blue moon, original films. But not every release can be a winner. Hollywood is known for its scattershot approach to blockbusters, often throwing a bunch of ideas at the wall until something sticks. There’s certainly no shortage of bad movies that either didn’t or won’t deserve a place among the better releases of the year, and these are those very films.
1. Alice Through the Looking Glass
The live-action Alice in Wonderland franchise is a baffling one. Now through two movies in the saga, neither have played well with critics or domestic audiences. But buoyed by a massive following in Japan and China, Disney has managed to rake in mountains of cash on these subpar efforts. While visually striking, Alice Through the Looking Glass did little to build on its 2010 predecessor, netting a paltry 29% Rotten Tomatoes score in the process.
2. Now You See Me 2
Alice in Wonderland may not have deserved a sequel based on content alone, but we can at least understand the financial justification. In the case of Now You See Me, it’s tough to see what the studio thought they’d get from a sequel. The first film in the series raked in just $334 million worldwide, a number that pales in comparison to the numbers pulled in by your average blockbuster. That was apparently enough to get a sequel green-lit anyway, and surprise, surprise, it flopped with critics and audiences alike.
You’d think a movie based on one of the most popular video games in the world would manage to at least carry a modicum of entertainment value. Much like they’ve done with virtually every other video game movie though, Hollywood once again fell flat on its face, opting for big-budget special effects over substance. It felt the brunt of those effects at the box office, coming in behind The Conjuring 2 in its opening weekend, and leaning on the Chinese box office for almost half of its total gross. We’ll likely get a full-blown franchise aimed directly at China, leaving all semblance of quality behind in favor of bigger, more explosive CGI.
4. The Purge: Election Year
Now we’re wading into more theoretical territory, covering upcoming summer releases we have yet to see for ourselves. Something tells us, though, that the third Purge movie doesn’t really deserve a seat at the table in terms of great summer blockbusters. Everything about this project reeks of a money-hungry studio trying to milk as much cash as they can out of a once-cool idea until it’s completely dead. Sitting at a budget of just $10 million, it won’t take much for them to make their money back. That doesn’t change the fact that nothing about The Purge: Election Year is even a little bit necessary or worthwhile.
5. Central Intelligence
Central Intelligence is a comedy in the grand tradition of the now-rote “Kevin Hart plays a dorky law enforcement official teaming up with a street-smart counterpart” motif. Story-wise, it seems like an almost exact rip from the surprisingly hilarious Spy: An average person is pushed into a web of intrigue and teamed up with an expert agent. Except this time, we have to suffer through Kevin Hart doing his best Chris Tucker impression, and Dwayne Johnson’s face getting horribly CGI’ed onto a fake body. The fact that it’s not even being screened for critics despite a healthy marketing push doesn’t bode well for any of that actually working either.
6. Ben Hur
Well, we’ve finally done it: We’ve progressed straight past nostalgia-centric reboots aimed at millennials into taking a classic cinema and remaking it into something appreciably worse. There’s absolutely nothing about 1959’s Ben Hur that demands a modern update, and yet here we are anyway. The least they could have done was install a director at the helm with a reputation for employing a careful touch in the action genre. Instead, we got Timur Bekmambetov of Wanted fame. We’re not quite sure what Paramount thought they’d get out of this perfect storm of terrible, but we can’t envision it as anything but a flop in every sense of the word. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickNorthwest