We’re only halfway through 2018, and the year has already graced us with 20 terrific films that will almost certainly linger with us until December.
Not every movie can be Black Panther or First Reformed; we’ve also had to endure a number of disappointments and outright duds over the past six months.
From cavemen to crime bosses, here’s our look back at the cinematic lowlights of 2018 so far.
The early trailers for Tag — inspired by the true story of a group of buddies who play their childhood game of tag well into adulthood — suggested that it might be a throwback to ’80s ensemble comedies like The Cannonball Run and Police Academy, where a group of funny people successfully mined belly laughs from a profoundly dumb premise. Sadly, good humor is hard to come by in the finished product, despite the presence of proven comic scene-stealers like Jake Johnson, Isla Fisher, and Hannibal Buress. Chalk up the movie’s failure to a general lack of nerve: Rather than embrace its inherent ridiculousness, it twists itself in knots to provide a teachable lesson in friendship. That’s a laugh. — Ethan Alter
9; Truth or Dare
For proof that we might be scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to new concepts to shape a horror film around, look no further than this asinine outing that adapts the game we all played in seventh grade into a PG-13 feature. It’s like Final Destination in that we know that these ill-fated youngsters are going to going to meet early exits, only none of the kills are scary, gruesome, or clever. So, what’s the point? — Kevin Polowy
8; The Cloverfield Paradox
It was ballsy for Netflix to air a trailer and release a movie all in a single night — Super Bowl Sunday, no less! If only that movie were good. There’s a lot going on in the third entry of the Cloverfield multiverse … actually, way too much. It’s hard to tell exactly what kind of film the filmmakers wanted The Cloverfield Paradox to be. An Alien homage? An Event Horizon remake? A direct prequel to the original Cloverfield? Apparently, they decided the answer was “all of the above,” leading to one of the messiest and most oddly boring sci-fi films we’ve seen this year. —Adam Lance Garcia
7; Early Man
As the creator of Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run, Nick Park is unquestionably a giant in the realm of stop-motion animation. But even giants fall, and Park took a major tumble with this listless prehistoric sports comedy about a genial caveman (voiced by Eddie Redmayne) who inadvertently helps organize the world’s first major soccer tournament. Filled with groan-inducing puns, bland character design, and sleepy storytelling, Early Man misses the goal of family entertainment in a big way. — E.A.
6; Pacific Rim: Uprising
Removing Guillermo del Toro turned out to be a catastrophic move for Pacific Rim: Uprising, the sequel to the director’s 2013’s robots-versus-monsters hit. Helmed by Steven S. DeKnight with ho-hum CGI extravagance, and headlined by John Boyega in a turn that’s all rah-rah blandness, this follow-up details humanity’s further attempts to combat invading kaiju beasts with enormous mechas known as Jaegers. It’s noisy, flashy, and crushingly dull. — Nick Schager
Moon director (and son of David Bowie) Duncan Jones had been trying to get Mute off the ground for years, but the script was repeatedly turned down by major studios, and after watching the finished film on Netflix, it’s easy to see why. This noir-laced sci-fi mystery is a laborious yarn full of derivative ideas that never amount to anything cohesive. As Alexander Skarsgård silently searches for his missing girlfriend against a Blade Runner-like backdrop, co-stars Paul Rudd and Justin Theroux do what they can with their M.A.S.H.-inspired characters, but their scenes feel airlifted from an entirely different movie. If you can finish this in one sitting, you’re a braver person than us. — Brett Arnold
4; Peter Rabbit
Recalling other dreadful live-action/CGI blends like Garfield and The Smurfs, this occasionally funny, mostly off-putting “kids’ comedy” features, in no particular order: the insinuation that Peter Rabbit sodomizes a man with a carrot; a rabbit giving Domhnall Gleeson a wet willy with his foot; Gleeson beating up a life-sized teddy bear; a gag involving Gleeson drinking water out of a toilet bowl with a straw; and rabbits pelting Gleeson in the groin with tomatoes. There’s also the issue that Gleeson’s character — who we’re supposed to root for by the end — may be a raging psychopath. You deserve better than this, General Hux. — K.P.
3; Dark Crimes
Originally released in Europe two years ago, this dreary crime drama starring Jim Carrey as a Polish detective (yes, really) was finally let out of movie jail for a blink-and-you-missed-it spring release stateside. Maybe they should have kept it locked up and just thrown away the key. Director Alexandros Avranas demonstrates a too-keen interest in photographing the film’s various murders in the most gruesome and degrading ways possible, and Carrey’s attempted stoicism instead registers as torpor. Here’s some impromptu career advice: Make paintings, not procedurals, Jim. — E.A.
2; The 15:17 to Paris
Clint Eastwood pads his true-life tale of heroism — a 2015 terrorist attack on a Paris-bound train that was thwarted by three Americans — by repeatedly cutting away from his central event to reveal bland backstory details about his characters. With little to impart about its subjects outside clichéd notions about valor and fate, Eastwood’s film feels unbearably slight, and a far cry from his best films as a director. More misbegotten still is his decision to cast the actual trio who stopped the tragedy from taking place, given that those individuals boast all the big-screen charisma of a wooden plank. — N.S.
In a publicity stunt that would have made the Dapper Don himself proud, Gotti‘s backers tried to turn the film’s overwhelmingly negative reviews — check out its 0% Rotten Tomatoes score — into a positive, advising moviegoers via Twitter to witness John Travolta’s performance as the late New York crime boss for themselves.
It’s an offer that audiences have mostly refused: To date, the long-delayed Kevin Connolly-directed feature has grossed less than $4 million, even with the aid of MoviePass.
You can’t really blame them — this GoodFellas-lite assemblage of mobster-movie and biopic clichés feels like a script that Connolly’s Entourage character would have tossed in Vincent Chase’s circular file.
To give credit where credit’s due, Gotti does contain the year’s most hilarious music cue; during a montage of Gotti being Gotti, the “Theme From Shaft” starts randomly playing on the soundtrack. That one scene is funnier than anything in Tag. — E.A.