The 2010s are over and it is finally time to kick off my end of the decade lists.
This list represents all that was bad during the 2010s. Whether it was a lazy cash-in or a poorly handled product, I believe that the following 10 releases deserve to be denounced.
These are the 3 questions I asked myself when I made my picks:
- What review score did it receive?
I have a review scale for a reason. If one release gets a 2/10 and another release gets a 1/10, I likely preferred the release that got a 2/10.
(This one isn’t as applicable as it was for my end of the year lists since I only started reviewing in 2018, so the majority of picks on this list have not been previously reviewed.)
- What type of art/entertainment release was it?
If a movie trailer got a 1/10 and a musical album got a 1/10, the album will have a much greater chance of being chosen since it is more artistically significant. I’m sure you could guess what I would pick between a movie poster and a 15 hour long video game.
- How substantial was the release?
Continuing on from the previous answer, this also affected how I viewed the release’s artistic significance. However, it is slightly deeper and more complex than merely answering what TYPE of release it was. Answering this question meant I had to take into account how MUCH the release had to offer (which is unrelated to the AMOUNT of content). For example, a 30 minute musical album packed full of interesting ideas has more artistic significance than a 60 minute musical album which is vacant of interesting ideas.
So without further ado, let’s kick this list off…
The Sound of Silence by Disturbed
Disturbed does away with all of the subtlety and simplicity of the original song by Simon & Garfunkel and replaces it with the most overblown and melodramatic crap that I have ever heard. With Simon & Garfunkel’s original, everything comes together to form something cohesive, intuitive, and emotional: the vocals, the instrumentals, the production, the song’s title, the song’s lyrics – everything fits together so nicely. Draiman & Friends leave any sense of nuance behind as they barrage the listener with horrid instrumentals and an abysmal vocal performance. Absolutely the worst song of the entire decade. I hope that I never have to listen to this again.
Bugs and glitches aplenty, a boring single-player campaign that was so broken that it barely even worked (I don’t think I ever finished it because I kept running into game-breaking bugs where I couldn’t advance in certain missions (which was fine by me since the campaign had a horrendous story and mission structure anyways)), a handful of some of the worst multi-player maps I have ever played (the map changing “Levelution events” were god awful (especially on the map “Flood Zone”) & there were maps with absolutely abysmal flow to them (most notably with “Operation Locker”)) , Battlepacks & Shortcut Kits on top of the paid DLC…
In a decade filled with awful first-person shooters tagged with garbage business practices, ‘Battlefield 4’ was easily the worst one that I played (‘Battlefront 2’ might be worse but I didn’t play it – why would I after playing this piece of crap?). ‘Battlefield’ was once an incredibly strong series (just like ‘Call of Duty’ which has suffered a similar fate): ‘1942’, ‘Vietnam’, ‘2’, and even the ‘Bad Company’ series. After the crappy ‘Battlefield 3’, I held on to the hope that the series would get better again. Clearly, that is not what happened. ‘Battlefield 4’ is a terrible, terrible game that is unworthy in both its single-player and multi-player experiences. One of my most hated games ever. Just play ‘Arma 3’.
Put simply, this movie was an endurance test. It constantly throws terrible jokes at you to the point of nausea, and when it isn’t doing that, it is poorly tumbling through whatever semblance of meaningful plot that exists (hint: there is no meaningful plot). It’s just a straight-up trashy film. And it sort of knows that too since it commits to its trashiness unapologetically. But that doesn’t make it any less trashy.
Link to the review:
One of the stupidest films I have ever seen. Visually, Iñárritu creates something that is dizzying and hideous in all of the worst ways. Wide-angles and fish-eye lens are used to convey images that demand to be interpreted as in-character perspectives but the film manages to never fully commit to this. Instead, it relies on garbage environmental establishing shots (think Ansel Adams but far more worthless) to place its lead (DiCaprio) within its world; its disgusting digital aesthetic further displaces whatever notion of “man v. nature” is being presented (think the embarrassingly bad CGI bear scene and how absurdly over-the-top it was – ahhh, trashhouse at its finest) as the film misguidedly juggles its survivalist tendencies with its miserably failed attempt at some sort of character study (and a completely flawed teleological contemplation on “revenge”).
Iñárritu makes use of Malick-regular Emmanuel Lubezki – a fact that is extraordinarily obvious when viewing this film. Not only do many of the shots come across as poor Malick imitations but the way in which the spiritual aspects are employed are also fairly Malickian. But while Malick is often transcendent and glorious in form and content (mostly due to the consistency and thoughtfulness of his Heideggerian approach (phenomenological & existential obsessions place humans soundly within the world around them)), Iñárritu crashes and burns and brings everything down with him (‘The Revenant’ is constantly in a state of epistemological & teleological confusion).
On the plus side, Leo finally won his Oscar! … and he was absolutely undeserving of it. Like most of Leo’s roles, there is a ridiculous amount of over-acting on display here. The only roles that I ever liked Leo in were Jack Dawson in ‘Titanic’ and Romeo in ‘Romeo + Juliet’ because he seemed to fit into those archetypes rather nicely (there are a few scenes in ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ that are remakes of old Hollywood scenes and I couldn’t tell if Leo was purposely over-acting in them because it fit his character, or if it was just another case of Leo over-acting).
This film is an ugly, empty, and meaningless experience, both visually as well as philosophically. One of the most painful cinema experiences in my life and one of the few times that I legitimately considered walking out of the theater (I ended up finishing it anyways and then re-watching it recently to see if it still deserved a spot on this list (which it obviously does because it sucks)).
Blade Runner 2049
If ‘The Revenant’ was one of the worst cinema experiences of my life, ‘Blade Runner 2049’ might be the absolute worst. I knew the film was an “event”, one of those films that only happen every once and awhile, so I knew I needed to see it. What if it was a masterpiece? I didn’t want to look back in 40 years and think “Wow, I could have seen that amazing movie in theaters but I chose not to!”. Hell, I even saw it in IMAX! … which was a huge mistake.
The film’s obnoxious and overbearing soundtrack was deafening and incredibly annoying. The film was an even worse IMAX experience than the bombastic ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ which was also an obnoxious and overbearingly loud experience. But it isn’t just the horrendous audio/ soundtrack that makes this film poor. And it isn’t just the (mostly) bland visuals that are so insistent on being boring and forgettable, failing to ever really create a believable world and only ever achieving a portrayal of a world that is disconnected and fragmented (and not in some sort of intentional dystopian sort of way – just in an incompetent way) (note: there are a few amazing shots in this film but they are so few and far between the trash, and when the shots are amazing they feel disembodied from the film itself).
It is the fact that ‘Blade Runner 2049’ is a trashhouse film to the highest degree (trashhouse = arthouse + trash; used to describe trash films that attempted to be arthouse). Jared Leto portrays Niander Wallace in a role that is a million times worse than his Joker, the themes of android (r)evolution are only superficially explored, the whole plot is needlessly overwrought and endlessly mindless, moral contemplation is simplified to the point of absurdity, and Villeneuve tries way too hard to be “deep” and “philosophical” (think about the scene where Luv stabs Lieutenant Joshi in her office… following the immediate penetration of the knife into the body of Joshi, Villeneuve cuts to a shot placed outside of the office window looking in where we see Joshi fall to the ground – why? just why?! it is so pointless and annoying).
‘Blade Runner 2049’ is offensively bad and while my second-viewing wasn’t quite as painful as my original IMAX viewing (mostly due to the fact that I was saved from the ear-achingly loud atrocious audio/music), it stands as one of the worst and most painful movie-watching experiences of my entire life. If you want some robot people doing things in a way that is actually enjoyable, just watch the first two ‘Terminator’ films. If you want a deeper meditation on many of the themes on display here, watch ‘Solaris'(1972) by Andrei Tarkovsky.
Note: There were 3 short films made as prequels leading up to this film, I am guessing for marketing purposes. All 3 of them are garbage as well. Don’t waste your time on any of it.
Where do I even begin with this? If I were to list every single complaint I have about this movie, I would be here for hours and hours and you would have thousands and thousands of words to read so I will try to cut things down to the most essential points.
There is a trend in modern trashhouse films wherein “slowness” is mistaken for “profundity”, and “symmetrical framing” is mistaken for “beautifully shot”. Against the majority of shots in this film (which look like they came out of a crappy thriller film found in your local bargain bin), the pedantically framed interiors (both human and alien) do nothing to further the fatalist sci-fi dwellings at hand (plus the shots are ugly anyways). There are several shots that enact a Malickian impressionistic sensibility but they fail to trigger any of the same emotions because Villeneuve doesn’t understand why and how these shots were employed in the first place. Furthermore, Villeneuve also fails in capturing the more clinical Kubrickian shots because, again, he doesn’t understand why and how these shots were employed in the first place. The film fails to occupy either of these two tones in a satisfying way and thus we are left with something that is undecided, hideous and empty.
As for the film’s contemplation on fatalism? Complete garbage. Linguistic relativity is utilized as a means to an end as the film disconcerns itself from any meaningful examination of pre-determinism by remaining unclear in its intentions to communicate purpose but also leaves itself unwilling to allow any room for discussion or interpretation. Can we learn to accept the Universe’s fatal bonds? Well if the film’s fatalist hang-ups are taken as is, Banks’ acceptance of fatalism and the fatalist outcomes themselves are in direct contradiction to each other on an ideological level. Her acceptance is framed as a choice to be optimistic, to see value in the events of the future even when there is impending suffering… but there was never a choice to begin with. Unless the aforementioned acceptance and the relevant consequences are co-fated events, but then the film loses all of its ideological value (if there was any value to begin with). But what do you expect when this film was written by the guy that wrote ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ (2010) and ‘Final Destination 5’?
Poor acting, cringey dialogue (“Do you wanna make a baby?”), and awful writing are constants in this film as it teeters between emotionally manipulative drama and unprovoking sci-fi. If you want a similar concept executed a million times better, watch ‘Contact’. If you want a clinical and philosophically sound sci-fi, watch ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’.
The Twilight Zone (2019)
“Not just one of the worst television shows of the year but possibly one of the worst seasons of television ever made. The original ‘Twilight Zone’ was thoughtful, engaging, emotional and remarkably human. In comparison, the new season is brainless, misanthropic and ridiculous. At its absolute best, this was inoffensive yet unremarkable. At worst, it contained some of the worst television episodes I have ever seen. I have never been a fan of anthology series and this may be the best argument against them. A complete and utterly stupid mess.”
Link to the reviews:
( I reviewed each episode individually so this search should bring up all 10 reviews for the individual episodes)
“Red Dead Redemption + The Last of Us + Ride to Hell: Retribution = Days Gone.
In other words, complete and utter trash. It is a failed open-world game with an awful story, atrocious characters, horribly buggy and broken gameplay, glitches aplenty, overly long loading screens and much, much more.
At the end of my original review, I compared ‘Days Gone’ unfavourably to ‘Ride to Hell: Retribution’. Seriously, if you had to play one of those two games, I would recommend the latter because at least it makes for an interesting case study.
‘Days Gone’ is one of the worst games I have ever played and I hope to god that a sequel doesn’t get made because there has never been a game more undeserving of it.”
Link to the review:
Westworld (Season 1)
An indulgent, bloated, misanthropic piece of crap devoid of moral purpose. This is one of the prime offenders of poor ethics in the creation of art. I think that artists have a moral duty to examine and interpret humankind, philosophy, and the Universe (and more) in a respectful and meaningful way…. and when an artist doesn’t take that seriously, they deserve all of the criticisms thrown at them. Especially when the result is something as putrid as Westworld. It presents itself as a “thinking man’s” TV show but it is perhaps the most brainless TV show ever created, failing to provoke any sort of real discussion about anything meaningful while overtly indulging in the same miseries it portrays as “evil”.
I hope that in the future, trashhouse bullshit like this gets looked back on with disgust because very few works of art deserve the kind of unabashed hatred that this does. Truly contemptible. If you want something that deals with many of the same themes and ideas but that truly respects people and technology, and that actually follows its own immutable moral truths, watch the first two ‘Terminator’ films. They are far more intellectual, stimulating and entertaining than this garbage and they accomplished all of those things without being repulsively indulgent.
Guardians of Middle-Earth
A DOTA-like game set in Tolkien’s Middle-Earth. For the initial price of $19.99, you could gain access to the game along with 12 of the 36 champions to start. The other 24 champions could be purchased from any of the 6 different DLC packs priced at $14.99 each (or $79.99 for all of the DLC bundles), or you could grind out in-game currency to unlock the characters. Unfortunately, there is also a system where you use the in-game currency to purchase runes/gems that you can equip to your champions before entering a game to make them stronger. Compare this to the masterful Dota 2: free-to-play, nearly 120 heroes playable for no charge from the start, and no need to use an in-game currency to offset the game’s balance before a match even starts.
Anyways, once you spend $100 on the game so that you can actually play it properly (I didn’t do this, I only spent the initial $20), you launch the game and see a bunch of ugly and convoluted menus. Once you adjust the disappointingly small number of settings that the game gives to you, you start looking for a match. Obviously, the game is completely dead now since the game came out several years ago, but there were players when I first started playing.
You find a match and then you get thrown into a hideous, simplistic, clunky, and unresponsive MOBA with poorly thought-out champions, a horrendously designed map, and very few strategic options (e.g. there are no in-game items). Then you get your ass kicked by people who either spent a lot of money on the game or who enjoyed the game enough to grind everything out (but that seems unlikely). And all of this is happening on a P2P connection since there are no dedicated servers. Wait… why are they charging these ridiculous amounts again?
Tolkien crafted one of the most beautiful, thought-out, and fully-realized fictional Universe’s ever imagined. And then Monolith Productions and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment took a giant shit on it by creating this sad excuse for a video game.
‘Guardians of Middle-Earth’ fully deserves the label of “Worst entertainment release of the 2010s” due to both its absolute ineptitude and its sacrilegious nature.