2016 brought us giant-screen 3-D spectacles, remakes and franchises, beautiful independent films -- and some really bad movies. Here, critic Steven Rea's picks for the five worst of the year.
From Steven Rea: Even Sela Ward — as the first female POTUS — can't save Roland Emmerich's 20-years-later sequel from stupefying audiences with barrage of alien invasion cliches.
The aliens that attacked the Earth 20 years ago in Independence Day return for a second go-round, this time minus Will Smith.
The movie is worse for his absence. This time around, the remaining characters spend much of their time explaining an unnecessarily complicated plot that's essentially in place to set up yet another sequel. Also, a lot of things blow up.
While the plot is dumb and the script is worse, watching aliens explode in spectacular fashion isn't the worst way to spend two hours.
From Steven Rea: Terrence Malick says he needs to go back to working with real, structured screenplays. His elliptical and self-indulgent tale of a Hollywood screenwriter's empty life makes the case for him.
From Steven Rea: When the hairpiece sported by one of the leads is the most memorable thing in the movie, you know you're in trouble. Interconnected lives, interconnecting in the phoniest of ways.
Mother's Day boasts an impressive cast -- one Oscar winner, one Oscar nominee, two Emmy winners, a Tony nominee, and a number of Golden Globes awardees -- but it's just another piece of schlock from Garry Marshall, who used to be a great romantic-comedy director, but has favored these vignette-style movies based around Hallmark holidays as of late.
These movies have vaguely the same formula: Pretty white people connected by a theme -- guess this one! -- experience relatively minor problems that bring them into each other's orbits.
The problem with this type of movie is ingrained in the structure: There's so much going on that there's no time to build characters that make sense or any sort of meaningful relationships.
From Steven Rea: As soulless as a moon rock on Jedha, the Lucasfilm franchise spinoff spins off into realms of mind-numbing back story and far-far-away-galaxy hooey. A great cast (Riz Ahmed, Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Forest Whitaker) wasted.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, is a tepid if fairly competent prequel of sorts to the first film in the series, 1977's Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.