Film critic Dominic Corry celebrates, clarifies and justifies his love for all things movie.

Dominic Corry: Was this the worst blockbuster season ever?

The blockbuster season can be relied upon to offer up plenty of big stupid movies, but there's usually at least a couple of winners. Not this year.

The release last week of Suicide Squad marked the end of the quasi-official blockbuster season as defined by the North American summer.

The blockbuster season can be relied upon to offer up plenty of big stupid movies, but there's usually at least a couple of winners amongst all the bombast, and this year I can only really think of one: Captain America: Civil War.

That shining light of awesomeness aside, 2016 may well have contained the worst blockbuster season in history, with more big-budget blunders stinking up the screen than ever before.

Captain America: Civil War, which would ultimately prove to be the exception to the 2016 rule.
Captain America: Civil War, which would ultimately prove to be the exception to the 2016 rule.

I'm not ashamed to admit I have something of a soft spot for the blockbuster, which faces more cynicism than most cinematic sub-sections, but I struggled greatly to embrace this year's surprisingly crummy offerings.

Let us survey the wreckage, in chronological order.

The blockbuster season got off to a wobbly start with the release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in March.

As someone who really liked Man of Steel, I was looking forward to the film, but it was impossible to articulate anything that Batman v Superman did right.

In the unfortunate position of having to play catch-up to their main rivals, the DC/Warner Bros team seemed to learn all the wrong lessons from Marvel's relentlessly successful series of films.

Where Marvel sought to celebrate the essence of their characters and make a good movie before they bothered with any franchise-friendly world-building, their Distinguished Competition jumped straight into the world-building, all the way down to the sub-title of the movie, which only promised the "Dawn" of something.

Which kinda kills the drama. Looking off into the distance when they should've focused on telling a good story, Batman v Superman didn't come close to living up to its potential.

It's a state of affairs that would sadly be reinforced by Suicide Squad, but more on that later.

Marvel schooled DC once again the following month with the simply wonderful Captain America: Civil War, which would ultimately prove to be the exception to the 2016 rule.

The new Ghostbusters film ironically ended up suffering from the lack of a bold vision.
The new Ghostbusters film ironically ended up suffering from the lack of a bold vision.

Jon Favreau's live action take on The Jungle Book was the next big studio film out of the gate, and it may have made a mint at the box office, but it wasn't particularly memorable, and served to showcase (admittedly impressive) special effects over anything resembling an emotional experience.

Just a week later, the tone for the rest of the season was solidified by the offensively inoffensive fantasy adventure The Huntsman: Winter's War, the prequel/midquel/sequel that nobody demanded.

It takes a special kind of blandness to squander Emily Blunt, Charlize Theron and Jessica Chastain.

Then came X-Men: Apocalypse, a gargantuan film with a miniscule scope and some of the worst villain make-up ever seen. Perhaps more than any other film this year, Apocalypse proved once and for all that spectacle does not make up for a dumb story and thin characters.

Next up was Alice Through The Looking Glass, another completely unwarranted sequel that wasn't as much of a turd as X-Men or The Huntsman, but nevertheless failed to creatively justify its existence.

ice Through The Looking Glass, another completely unwarranted sequel that wasn't as much of a turd as X-Men or The Huntsman.
ice Through The Looking Glass, another completely unwarranted sequel that wasn't as much of a turd as X-Men or The Huntsman.

The Russell Crowe/Ryan Gosling action comedy The Nice Guys followed, and frankly it was pretty freaking great, but it doesn't really qualify as a blockbuster, and failed to light up the box office in any significant way.

I was a huge fan of Now You See Me, and even I couldn't work out why they were bothering to make a sequel. Also, it was terrible.

Although it made a pile of cash in China, nobody is calling Warcraft: The Beginning a hit. I kinda dug it, but I'm in the minority.

The movie that really sealed 2016's fate as perhaps the worst blockbuster season ever was Independence Day: Resurgence, a film of such weightlessness that it almost floated away while I was watching.

Stephen Spielberg's long-gestating adaptation of Roald Dahl's The BFG failed to result in anything particularly memorable. Except perhaps for that fart joke. The CGI/Mark Rylance motion-capture rendering of the title character was off too, he came across a little creepy to me.

Roald Dahl's The BFG failed to result in anything particularly memorable.
Roald Dahl's The BFG failed to result in anything particularly memorable.

The Legend of Tarzan has actually made a respectable amount of coin, but again, it was not a good film.

The new Ghostbusters film ironically ended up suffering from the lack of a bold vision. The story about director Paul Feig removing a climatic dance sequence says plenty about the film's creative bet-hedging. It needed something big and weird like that to make an impact.

Star Trek Beyond is the only blockbuster aside from Civil War that really rocked my world this season, coming together with an ease and humour that the prior entries lacked.

The season's penultimate blockbuster was yet another speciously-motivated sequel: Jason Bourne. It wasn't all that bad, but it was far from great.

And then the 2016 blockbuster season came to an appropriate conclusion with Suicide Squad, an emphatic articulation of everything DC/Warner Bros doesn't understand about how to make comic book movies.

The second half of Suicide Squad was a giant mess of motivations and actions.
The second half of Suicide Squad was a giant mess of motivations and actions.

The first half of the movie felt like the infamous 'computer files mini origins' section of Batman v Superman stretched out to an hour. The second half of the movie was a giant mess of motivations and actions. There is nothing visually captivating about watching piles of ash get shot.

I remain an ardent fan of big ridiculous movies, but this year's blockbuster season put that resolve to its greatest test. It's time for the Christmas blockbuster season to set things right. Roll on, Rogue One!

Video

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW
Film critic Dominic Corry celebrates, clarifies and justifies his love for all things movie.

A film critic and broadcaster for fifteen years, a movie and pop culture obsessive for much longer. Favourite films: The Lady Vanishes (1938), Ace In The Hole (1951), Sweet Smell of Success (1957), Vertigo (1958), Purple Noon (1960), Emperor of the North (1973), The Parallax View (1974), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985), Aliens, The Three Amigos (1986), House of Games, Robocop (1987), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Talk Radio (1988), Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), Midnight Run (1989), Metropolitan (1990), The Hudsucker Proxy (1994), Dazed and Confused (1995), The Game (1997), The Last Days of Disco (1998), The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), Primer (2002), Drag Me To Hell, District 9 (2009), It Follows (2015) and The Witch (2016). See more at www.TheGoodInMovies.com.

Read more by Dominic Corry

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 05 Dec 2016 14:56:56 Processing Time: 1380ms