For being a kind of pandemic but not really a pandemic, semi repeat of 2020, this year actually gave us a ton of terrific films. We are living in a truly special age, where films that would otherwise go unseen for ages are given new life on streaming services, and that small window of theatrical release gives even more access to films than ever. Unfortunately, that’s not a good thing for every movie. And of course, no year would be complete without some duds. They weren’t all great, and there were some that stick out above the rest as being some of the worst films I watched in 2021. While there’s still a few days left in the year, I feel confident in saying that most of the films slated between now and then end of the year won’t be worse than what’s already been seen. I could be wrong, but I don’t particularly want to spend my New Year’s Eve listing bad movies. You can read my list of good ones here.
A couple of disclaimers before we get into the list. First, this list is only comprised of films I have watched and reviewed in 2021. I’m sure that there are plenty that could earn a spot, but I’m only human, and can only see so many movies in a calendar year. Second, they aren’t in any discernible order; I simply went through all of the reviews I’ve written and pulled out the ones that had some of the lowest scores comparatively to the rest of the list. Frankly, they all deserve to be here.
And lastly, I understand that films are made for targeted audiences, and that it may seem unfair to include so many children’s films when I am grown adult. The fact is, there are good and bad children’s films just like any other genre, and my only reasoning for seemingly including so many doesn’t stem from any kind of critical disdain for the animated feature. There were some fabulous family friendly, animated children’s films that came out in 2021. So please don’t make the mistake of thinking that I hate kids movies simply because this year gave us a string of really bad ones.
Ok, let’s list the worst films of 2021!
“The Little Things “
It’s pretty amazing that a film like “The Little Things” stars two actors who are likely to be nominated for different films released in the same year. But not even the star power of three Oscar Winning actors can save such vapid, out of touch crime thriller. Extremely derivative and tonally imbalanced, “The Little Things” never really seems to find its own identity or be worth it at all. Even more unfortunate is that this was the first film to follow the day and date release on HBO Max. That’s a terrible precedent to set, really made me a little nervous about what was to come the streaming service. Luckily it got better, and not all the films released on the platform were as bad as “The Little Things.” But even with an entire year of films released after it, “The Little Things” remains one of the worst films of the year.
“Sing 2 “
This is actually one of the more disappointingly bad films of 2021. I loved “Sing,” more than ever expected to. It had the perfect blend of heart, humor, and catchy bangers and could be enjoyed by the whole family. “Sing 2” abandons everything that’s great about its predecessor and fills its film with manic subplots and incoherent storytelling. It dumbs everything down, as if their target audience somehow shifted from “fun for the whole family” to “fun for 5 year olds that have never heard of any of these songs.” “Sing 2” is more of a series of animated shorts rather than a feature film. And it’s a huge bummer because I really wanted to love this one. Sadly, it just couldn’t find its heart song and ends up on the worst of 2021 list.
I need to be clear: I absolutely adore the “Fast and Furious” franchise. The more ridiculous the better. I’m all for outrunning a nuclear submarines, catching people in mid air and using cars to “break your fall,” the longest runway in the history of film or runways, and ya, even sending characters to space in a sedan and duct tape. The more stupid the better, and frankly that should make “F9” the best of the long running series. Sadly, this latest entry feels like 3 different films crammed together and none of them actually work. Instead of a thrilling, suspension of disbelief popcorn blockbuster, we get a vanity project for Vin Diesel, who has decided that the franchise needs to be about him and no one else. It all bogs the film down and makes it hard to enjoy the best parts of “F9.” It is simultaneously dull and loud, and I left the theater more disappointed than clamoring for another entry.
“The Many Saints of Newark “
When my scathing review for “The Many Saints of Newark” came out, I caught a lot of flack from people claiming I must not have watched “The Sopranos.” While I typically don’t engage the negativity, I had to give some credence to the comments because I hadn’t watched the show in years. I thought that maybe my thoughts were skewed by having not watch “The Sopranos” recently, which made me be too harsh on “Many Saints.” Well, I DID rewatch the entire show from start to finish in the last few weeks, and I have made my final, informed decision: I stand by every single negative thing I said about “The Many Saints of Newark.” It’s absolutely nothing like the show, and is comparatively worse in every single way. I don’t care that it’s by the original creators, either. It’s not good and I will die on the hill of including it on this list.
Catch it on HBO Max.
“Space Jam: A New Legacy “
Who knew that the most controversial opinion you can have in 2021 in not liking “Space Jam: A New Legacy?” Seriously, I think I caught the most ire for giving it a negative review and not shrugging it off as kids movie. Like I said up top, you can absolutely have bad kids movies, too. And they aren’t immune from criticism simply because they are targeted at a younger audience. That’s not how any of this works. And the film can’t even stand on those legs, as what transpires is a little more than a commercial for HBO Max IPs that happens to have the Looney Toons and LeBron James in it. “Space Jam: A New Legacy” is a bad movie no matter how you slice it or who it was made for. Even revoking the nostalgia pass given to “Space Jam” doesn’t make this unnecessary and poorly conceived sequel any better. It’s bad, and is absolutely one of the worst films of 2021.
Catch it (if you absolutely have to) on HBO Max.
“Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins“
Speaking of unnecessary and feeble franchise attempts, “Snake Eyes” definitely makes this list. Shoddy camera work, unlikeable characters and flimsy plot that seems to only exist to set up what they clearly were hoping would be a rejuvenated IP, “Snakes Eyes” can’t even be bothered to deliver on even the smallest of promises. It sucks, too. Because the film wastes a ton of terrific actors and martial artists in the process. I know the track record of GI Joe films aren’t stellar, but I would even go as far as to say that this is the worst entry of them all, and yes that includes “Rise of Cobra.” I said what I said I will not take it back. “Snake Eyes” was really, really bad and more than earns its spot on the worst films of 2021 list.
Catch it on Amazon and Apple TV+.
“Tom and Jerry “
I promise, I really love HBO Max. And I can assure you that I have more contenders for the Best of 2021 list than they do on the worst. But they were also the most accessible this year, so a majority of their films find their way onto one or the other. “Tom and Jerry” belongs on the worst of list. The film doesn’t even begin to understand their own cartoon characters, and listlessly drudges along, only being mildly punctuated with our titular character shenanigans once in a while. And even when Tom and Jerry are being who you remember them to be, it becomes abundantly clear that a live action feature film of “Tom and Jerry” isn’t conducive to the short burst energy that their original format was tailored to. It’s a rough watch for anyone, was a rather unpleasant movie watching experience.
“Venom: Let There Be Carnage“
The sequel no one asked for but somehow got made because China keeps insisting that these movies should make far more money than they’re worth, “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is even worse than its predecessor. That’s saying a lot considering that “Venom” is marginally enjoyable at BEST. There just isn’t a lot to like here, even with the addition of Woody Harrelson. He can usually overact his way into being the best of the worst thing, but here even Harrelson isn’t as enjoyable as he should be. “Let There be Carnage” loud, messy, and a jumbled dumpster fire of a sequel, one that gets lost in trying to get to whatever destination we’re suppose to be getting to eventually. It has a few moments, but they are so few and far between that the rest of “Let There Be Carnage” is almost unwatchable. None of this matters because it was a global box office smash, which means we can expect more garbage like this in future.
“Prisoners of the Ghostland“
You would think that a Japanese auteur director with a propensity for the absurd paired with fully realized and embraced Nicolas Cage would be a match made in heaven. Unfortunately, “Prisoners of the Ghostland” is all style and no substance, and fails to really make good on the promise of a bat shit crazy journey through a post apocalyptic wasteland. While the film is visually stunning and has a few great moments of Cage out Caging himself, “Ghostland” never reaches its full potential. It ends up being too weird and too stylized for its own good, and the marriage of the bizarre seems more like a bad divorce. I wanted so much from “Prisoners of the Ghostland.” I mean, c’mon! Cage has a bomb strapped to his testicles!!! How do you muck that up? Well it does. “Prisoners of the Ghostland” certainly gives you a lot, just not much of what you truly want.
I saved this one for last because not only was it one of the worst films of 2021, but “Mortal Kombat” was also one of the most disappointing film of the year. We were promised so much with this one, and it failed to deliver on any of them once it was all said and done. One could argue that it gave is fatalities, but every single one of them was already shown in the red band trailer, which left us with nothing to be excited for once we sat down to watch the film. In addition, “Mortal Kombat” doesn’t have anything else to offer outside of a few cool deaths we already saw. How the hell do you have a movie about a tournament and spend the whole movie in the goddamn training pit? The film is just one long, dull, aimless trailer for the REAL film we’re suppose to see after this one. And that kind of gamble needs to stop in cinema. Make the film you’re currently making, not one that’s an anticipation for one that isn’t even conceived yet. It’s frustrating, and “Mortal Kombat” fails to utilize its incredible cast and vast source material in any meaningful way. I think….I think I may have actually hated this one.
Catch it on HBO Max.
So there you have it. The worst films I watched in 2021. Here’s hoping 2022 has less to choose from.
What were some of the worst films you watched this year?
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