The summer movie season is supposed to be a release from the hard times we all face, but the past few months have felt like Chinese water torture in the cinema. Cities were destroyed, villains were defeated (until the sequel), and I almost fell asleep at more than a few movies. There were some good films and many bad ones, but I can't remember a summer where so many "blah" pics were on the screen. 

Why is that? It's easy to blame excessive sequels or an overload of has-been franchises that weren't even really to begin with (GhostbustersIndependence Day), but instead I'll just say that Hollywood is getting increasingly risk averse. If there's not a built-in audience, they don't care.

With that depressing reality in mind, here are the eight movies that came out this summer that were the most excruciating to sit through. In case you're wondering why I didn't choose 10, it's because that's number is too predictable, and after watching all these sequels, the last thing I want to be is predictable. 


The 8 Most Excruciating Movies That Came Out This Summer

8: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows - If Transformers: Age of Extinction's hour-long Chinese destruction porn was peak Michael Bay, then this is Flaccid Bay. The jokes are so sophomoric that a five-year-old (the intended audience here) would groan if they had the vocal ability, and city-wide destruction never seemed so boring. There's an interesting storyline about the Turtles potentially becoming human to fit in, but that's abandoned because God forbid a sequel actually do something other than set up for the next movie.

Bay tries to implant the formula that made the Transformers movies a smash, but it's so stale he just can't get the excitement up anymore. I gave this a middling grade at first, but I'm beginning to think that if a movie leaves no impression on me at all, then it must secretly be terrible. Speaking of secret, Tyler Perry might not want to show his face ever gain after his borderline parody-level acting in this film. He was even out-done by Megan Fox. That was the funniest joke in this film.

7. Star Trek Beyond: Congratulations Paramount, you've been responsible for the two most sleep inducing movies to come out this summer! Maybe you should go into the medicine business and compete with NyQuill instead. This is so competently made that it somehow ends up being a failure. What once felt fresh and exciting (2009's Star Trek) feels more stale than discount milk you'd see at Wal-Mart. Punch-lines don't make you laugh and the combat scenes have the thrill of watching old people play chess. This was made to coincide with the series's 50th anniversary, but god did this film make it feel even older than that. 

Usage of Beastie Boys be damned, there's no excitement here; in a scene where Kirk (Chris Pine) contemplates retirement because the adventures aren't fun anymore, you might as well be watching Pine complain to a guy on set about how much he hates doing these movies. They all feel like one big contractual obligation. Idris Elba does what he can, but is wasted in a role that could've just been renamed "Angry Alien".

The final shot features the crew boldly going into space, declaring their excitement for their next adventure. I can't wait to see the look on their faces when they realize it's pretty damn similar to the next one.

6. Ghostbusters: Settle down sexist dorks, the ladies weren't the problem here. They (okay, mainly Kristen Wiig), are very good; it's the men that let them down. Director Paul Feig seems more interested in paying lip-service to the original film in scenes that are either obvious or just plain terrible (of course the graffiti artist happens to paint the classic logo on the wall!) It's shoe-horned garbage that's the worst of risk-averse Hollywood. The only funny part is when Bill Murray seemingly shows up out of the black hole he lives in to blow apart the entire picture before being killed off in a way that I'm sure he wanted.

It's a shame, because the four ladies are very talented and deserve a movie that lets them be funny rather than rely on the popularity of a movie that was considered cool when my mother wasn't even old enough to drive. According to the Hollywood Reporter, this picture bombed and a sequel is unlikely; that's good, because maybe it can convince the movie industry to let women be funny original movies as opposed to dumb nostalgia-grabs.

5. The Secret Life of Pets: I'm convinced that Pixar should take Universal and Illumination Entertainment for the cleaners for this movie. Not because it's a terrible film (spoiler: it is though), but because there's such a blatant plagiarism of Toy Story here that I wonder how the people that made this sleep at night. Seriously. I'm a journalism major and if I ripped something off this nakedly I'd cry in shame no matter how well the trailers sold my film.

I mean look, it's naive to expect something as good as prime Pixar, but if you're gonna follow the story line of old-thing-learns-to-accept-new-thing, then you better know that you gotta back it up with some good emotional moments. Pets' idea of doing that is throwing in a tragic backstory to make you hate one of the dog characters a little less. Illumination just isn't good enough for that kind if scene.

I read online there's gonna be a sequel, which makes sense. I need more ruining of a great premise in my life.

4. Independence Day: Resurgence - Aged cheese never tasted so bad. That analogy was gross, and the script here is even worse. It veers wildly between ROO-YAH military propaganda and an advertisement for another sequel, one that I hope never sees the light of day. Good disaster movies have a sense of time and place, because that draws you into the situations of the characters involved. This doesn't as people travel freely around the world and even to the moon without batting an eye. 

This is another sequel that attempts to remind you of your fondness for the original, although in this case that means killing off almost every character that was in that movie. Will Smith was smart enough to decline this, but dumb enough to then do the movie that comes later down the list.

I was still enjoying this movie as cities were dropped on top of another and Liam Hemsworth exposed a new dimension (below his belt) to national audiences, but the part that lost me was when a school bus was outrunning an alien shooting lasers. A scientist finds alien weaponry and says we need to go to their place and "KICK SOME ALIEN ASS" (his emphasis, not mine), but I kinda just felt like we should call a truce to avoid more bad movies.


3. Suicide Squad: Somewhere, a DC intern is creaming his pants that their company didn't release the worst movie of the year. Not that it's a compliment, because somebody at Warner Bros. kidnapped director David Ayer's original version and sentenced it to a death of 1,000 cuts. Any bit of interesting storytelling or characterization is tossed out for numbingly literal music played over scenes that were designed for a trailer, not a movie.

Because we can't have nice things, the people of America made this a massive hit, but that speaks greatly to the skill of Warner Bros. marketing department. They sold this as a lowdown version of Guardians of the Galaxy with an added bit of Joker-dom (Jared Leto, going for the Oscar and coming up with something truly Razzie-worthy), when really it's just one big music video featuring a stop-and-start plot that coasts on CGI and Will Smith's charisma. Also, the Enchantress is the worst villain I've seen all year. 

One more also: Between this, Ghostbusters and TMNT, that's three films that have a climax of "portal to another dimension is in large building, we have to destroy it!" Stop it Hollywood. Please, before I go into the fetal position in the theater and wake up with popcorn kernels on my face.


2. The Legend of Tarzan: By the grace of some horrible film God, this was a hit. I won't attempt to explain or understand why, the C.I.A. can investigate that if they want to look into the decline of American moviegoing habits. It's not the worst picture this summer (close though), but it runs away with the title of most embarrassing.

I could down five shot glasses and come up with better ideas than were presented here. A villain (Christoph Waltz, apparently done with real acting) sporting a killer necklace? 68-year-old Samuel L. Jackson running on tree branches with Tarzan and friends? We hear a lot about how great and threatening the hero is, when all he does is 1) get pounded by a gorilla, 2) run with a bunch of charging animals and not get run over and 3) unleash his bulging neck muscles to defeat the almighty necklace of doom.

Margot Robbie is okay in this, but even she looks sick of playing the damsel in distress. I know I would be if I had to basically give an 1800s version of a "Your Mama" joke and keep a straight face during it. The one thing I remember most is a positively embarrassing shot of Jackson and Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgard, who's bland enough to not even have his name mentioned initially) swinging on a vine together. Swing me out of that theater please.

1. X-Men Apocalypse: On the plus side, I went on a date with an amazing woman. Unfortunately, this was the steaming pile of garbage that we saw during it. I might as well have watched Jennifer Lawrence and Michael Fassbender drive to the bank and screw around with the ATM for two hours while Oscar Isaac dropped by to pretend he was in Hamlet

Everyone must've been slipped serious downers or a joint before their scenes, the acting was that all over the place. You were either dealing with performers slumming it (Lawrence, Isaac) or hamming it up to high heaven (James McAvoy, Rose Byrne) creating a movie that tries to be serious, yet ends up being ridiculous. 

I've seen way too many X-Men movies than I care to remember, but I don't remember being so bored to tears (okay, not literally) as I was here. Magneto turns evil again because that's what he does, and  a big bad villain (APOCALYPSE! Because he's powerful, you see?) spends the whole time recruiting people and giving speeches. Basically he's a football coach with superpowers that include making Xavier bald.

This was awful. I wished more people saw this so we could mark the exact moment this franchise officially admitted it ran out of ideas. It was a massive waste of time, but hey, at least my date proved to be stronger than this mess.

Published by Jagger Czajka