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Hoot Doesn’t Recommend: worst media of 2023

Welcome back to Hoot Recommends: Things We Don’t Recommend Edition! In this article, members of The Hoot editorial board will be sharing the worst piece of media they’ve viewed this past year.


My first article for the Hoot was a negative review of “Indiana Jones and the Dial Of Destiny.” I just rewatched it and it really just gets dumber the more you watch it. As my friend who I watched it with said, “This has all the rhythms of an Indiana Jones movie, but none of the soul.” However, over December break I saw something that was probably worse. It was Disney’s “American Born Chinese.” Without spoiling too much, I have never seen a show that starts off with such potential but spoils it all in the last episode. Basically, some important characters were axed in the last 30 seconds for NOTHING! ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Just for a cheap sequel hook; which is useless because I just heard news about it not getting a second season so these characters’ arcs will NEVER get finished. It is the most unsatisfying, frustrating and confusing season finale that I have ever seen. Take my word for it. Please.


I didn’t think “Wonka” was very good. It wasn’t necessarily eye-gougingly, soul-demolishingly bad, but it certainly wasn’t a good movie. The songs felt shoehorned into the rest of the movie, a lot of the plot points seemed lazy and Timothee Chalamet wasn’t very good as the lead. I don’t have much more to say, this movie just wasn’t that good.


“They/Them” is far from the worst movie I have ever seen, but it is a bad movie that concludes on awful ethical principles. The movie is (technically) a slasher about a group of queer teens who were either sent or volunteered to attend a week-long “conversion” camp. So already a heavy topic being treated in a pretty flippant way. The first meaningful death doesn’t occur until about an hour into the movie and then the rest are shoved into a ten-minute sequence. No interesting or notably gorey deaths happen and some major characters are killed off-screen.  But outside this movie just being miserable and an unnecessary and unsophisticated display of queer suffering, the ending is garbage. So basically, spoiler, all the people who die are the counselors at the camp and they are killed by a traumatized former camper. And this killer is ruled, by the current campers, as having done wrong. Killing a group of adults who have brutalized and tortured queer teens and children for about a century is wrong apparently??? Stupid bad ending to an uninteresting, poorly written, occasionally cringe barely a horror movie.


“Iron Flame” by Rebecca Yarros was one of the most laughably bad books I’ve ever read. It’s a sequel to “Fourth Wing,” a book that wasn’t perfect but that I enjoyed. Sure, there was a dumb gratuitous romance, but there were sassy dragons! A dystopian fantasy setting! Did I mention dragons? So I thought I would read the sequel. And then I suffered through all 640 pages of it in the naive hope that it would suddenly get better. “Iron Flame” is already being dragged on BookTok, and for good reason. It is riddled with typos and grammatical errors. Plot threads are introduced then dropped without a second thought. None of the worldbuilding makes sense, and I can never work out where characters are meant to be. At first I thought I was just dumb, but no, it seems that everyone who reads this book has this problem. The entire novel is just a cash grab, and it feels as though the publishing company just put out Yarros’ first draft instead of giving the manuscript any actual editing. I mean, she literally mispells a main character’s name! How did no one catch that? Anyway, the book sucks, and if you liked “Fourth Wing,” I beg you, don’t read the sequel.


It seems sort of counterintuitive for a movie in the superhero genre to set out to make you feel like a terrible person when credits hit. When I watched “The Flash” (2023), however, that’s exactly how I felt. Like I had literally committed some sort of cosmic sin that I needed to whip myself to repent for. To start with the actual content of the film: While there is definitely A Plot hidden deep within that script, it ends up being a sort of incomprehensible mess with time-travel rules that contradict themselves and threads that go nowhere. There is also the matter of the odd ending, in which the superheroic character makes a series of morally questionable decisions which aren’t explored at all and just kind of happen. All this, of course, is not helped by the movie’s extensive use of CGI that, for the most part, just looks like it’s from a forgettable PlayStation 3 game.

Without even mentioning the strange spree of crimes both confirmedly and allegedly committed by lead actor Ezra Miller (which, to be clear, is still a big deal), the background behind some of the decisions in this film are just kind of gross and make me thankful that I wasn’t the one who paid for my movie ticket. Most notably, a sequence in the climax sees a series of (sloppy) CGI recreations of actors, both dead and alive, who were present in previous DC films just kind of standing there as their worlds are destroyed in a multiversal apocalypse. This practice, dubbed “digital necromancy” by some critics, is the kind of profit-driven, anti-art decision that just kind of makes my skin crawl. “The Flash” isn’t the first movie to commit digital necromancy, but it’s definitely one of the most egregious examples in recent times. It also just doesn’t really make sense from any possible standpoint. It obviously seems to be some sort of shameless nostalgia bait, but the sequence itself involves the very unceremonious destruction of these characters’ universes, which itself seems like it would turn off the type of people who the nostalgia bait is made for! It just doesn’t work on any level and makes me angry to think about.

Anyway, “The Flash” is really bad, and is the kind of movie that just seems to be against the concept of film as an art. That sucks, too, because I’m a big fan of DC Comics and think the Flash is a wonderful character whose rich and colorful source material deserves better than that trash fire of a movie.


I want to talk about the “definitive” recognition for bad movies: the Golden Raspberry Awards, commonly known as the Razzies. Every year, this award show recognizes the absolute worst in films from the year prior. The nominations are made up of a lot of action films, like “Expend4bles” and “Shazam! Fury of the Gods,” or horror films, like “The Exorcist: Believer,” and “Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey”. It’s the demonstration of so-called “genre movies” often come across as cheesy and it can be a lot harder to make one of these that is critically acclaimed. That is evidenced by the Oscars, which often sticks to grounded dramas and comedies. It is also reflected in my own opinions, as I never liked action and horror movies. I can not find myself getting invested in something  so out of this world. Call me pretentious all you want, I stick by these opinions, and apparently the Razzies do as well. There are also interesting acting nominations. People like Russell Crowe, Helen Mirren and Michael Douglas, who are well-regarded as great actors are not safe from a bad performance. In a way, this keeps them in check, and many actors have a laugh at it. Other actors, like Vin Diesel, Chris Evans, and Megan Fox are par for the course in bad acting (sorry not sorry). It is interesting to see who was actually the worst. It gets me almost intrigued to see the movies. Almost. Then there is the Worst Screen Combo category, which shows that this award show is just being silly, like “​​Any 2 Money-Grubbing Investors Who Donated to the $400 Million for Remake Rights to “The Exorcist””. The award show is nice because it shows we can have fun in the bad parts of life. This is an article of people complaining about the movies I saw, I’m saying that we can celebrate these complaints and honor the fact that there are a lot of bad movies out there. It is what makes Hollywood human. So look out for the worst of the worst when Razzie winners are announced on March 9.


I am not one to waste my time with unenjoyable media. All of the movies and TV I watched during 2023 were fulfilling in my opinion. Instead, I will describe the worst professional sports media I watched this past year. The lucky winner game would be the Patriots’ game against the Bills back in December. After watching Bailey Zappee throw three interceptions, I turned off the TV and did not watch the rest of the game. Though I did not consume this particular piece of media for long, it was still an utter disappointment and perfect display of what the next few years may look like for the New England Patriots. All I keep telling myself is that we still have the Bruins and Celtics to focus on. Deep breaths. We’ve got this, fellow NE sports fans!


A book called “Katalepsis.” I want to clarify that this is actually an extremely well-written and compelling story. Reading it, however, is an agonizing experience. It is, bar none, one of the most depressing books I have ever read. It’s a fantasy story about a girl with schizophrenia, except her hallucinations are, on some level, real. When I first read it, I assumed the author was bad at writing relationships—the main character’s “friends” don’t really act like her friends at all, and their relationship is full of squabbling and mean spirited power plays. It’s only later that you start to realize the author’s writing is actually amazing—it’s just incredibly depressing. As you learn more about each character’s backstory, you realize they are less three friends and more three deeply traumatized people clinging to eachother because they have no one else to turn to. Watching them is like watching a car wreck in slow motion. And that’s only scratching the surface of how depressing and stressful a read this book is—but I could go on for ages, so I’ll leave it there for now.


“The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” just did not quite not meet my expectations. I’d have to say I had really high expectations for it given how much I love the actual “Hunger Games” series, but this new movie isn’t really focusing on the actual games—it is basically just a biography of Snow which I didn’t know what I was coming for. Also, personal opinion, Rachel Zegler is far less attractive than Jennifer Lawrence as a “Hunger Games” female lead. In conclusion, if you want to see hot young Snow, 11/10 recommended; if you want to watch a good Hunger Game, run.


I’d say the worst piece of media I have viewed is not the actual movie itself, but the approximately 87 ads I got for “Anything But You.” I was skeptical about the movie and was considering watching it, however, after getting it as every ad on Hulu, I decided that I had basically already watched the movie and didn’t need to bother. It also has a 50% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, so I’m really unconvinced at this point.


“Never Have I Ever” is a TV show that I keep coming back to but that always disappoints me. With every new season of any TV show, you hope that the characters grow and explore new emotional landscapes. However, the protagonist makes the same agonizing mistakes recurrrently, and this is maddening to watch. There is nothing wrong with a flawed protagonist—these characters are often the most beloved and empathized with in the TV shows we love. However, it is hard to sympathize with a character who has failed to learn the same lessons over and over. I do enjoy the narrative arcs of the side characters, though, and will be watching subsequent seasons in brown solidarity.


I didn’t like “Barbie,” not at all. As much as I appreciate the focus on women’s empowerment and feminism in the movie, it felt like the message was being forcefully delivered. It felt almost as if I was being hit over the head with a very specific feminist agenda, particularly emphasized by Margot Robbie and America Ferrera’s performances. The film also seemed to mock men in a rather exaggerated manner, lacking any subtlety or nuance. This approach, in my opinion, detracts from the film’s potential to celebrate equality and understanding between genders.


I have to admit something: I’m not a big consumer of film and television media these days. I have succumbed to the stereotypes of our generation and now lack any semblance of an attention span for anything over ten minutes long. However, earlier in 2023, I still had the willpower to try. As a recent (as in the last five years) MCU fan, I was somewhat disappointed when I heard negative reviews for the third Ant-Man film, “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.” As such, I waited until the film came to Disney+ to watch it, nervous to spend time in the theaters on a film I wasn’t positive I’d love, if not at least enjoy. Needless to say, I barely got through half the film before shutting down my laptop. I wanted to like it so bad. The plot seemed promising. I loved the two previous “Ant-Man” films, and with new additions to this film’s cast such as William Jackson Harper (the incredible Chidi Anagonye in “The Good Place”), Jonathan Majors and Bill Murray, I had such high hopes. However, they were shattered. I’ll never get that hour of my life back, and I’ll remain bitter about it too.

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