Every year, CGM writers dive into the newest technology, the latest game launches and freshest films. We spend our year sorting through the good and the bad, highlighting where companies have excelled, and what needs improvement.
Heading into 2022, we have a lot to look forward to from the gaming, tech and media industries. For now, we want to take a look back on 2021, to see what was worth celebrating, and what wasn’t. This list compiles our worst reviewed movies, games and tech from 2021, things that need improvement in most areas. If it scored under a 5, it’s here.
Without further ado, here is CGMs Worst Rated of 2021:
Worst Rated Movies 2021
Reviewer: Chris Carter
Reminiscence is the sci-fi noir brainchild of Lisa Joy, a co-creator of the Westworld series (also produced by WB): it even has several Westworld actors in it. But instead of exploring the philosophy of AI beings, we follow Jackman’s Nick Bannister, a “private investigator of the mind.” When I first read that sentence, I had to laugh out loud a bit, and that smirk returned by the time I got around to actually watching the film.
If Reminiscence was a television series, it would have spun out of control just like Lisa Joy’s own Westworld eventually did. It simply can’t execute on its foundational sci-fi premise in its current state. While there’s likely a decent thriller hidden underneath, this ain’t it.
Reminiscence is a forgettable sci-fi noir with only a few memorable moments.
Tom & Jerry
Reviewer: Chris Carter
Seeing “Tim Story” on a poster can scare some people away from a film. There’s a certain charm to a few of his projects, but a lot of that can be chalked up to the charismatic casts within. Having two cartoons that barely talk isn’t a great way to hide that.
Tom & Jerry, in one of the most bizarre IP revivals yet, mostly falls flat in serving anyone: aging fans of the classics, or younger newcomers. In this world cartoons kind of just…exist, and not a lot of thought goes into what that might entail.
With better direction and a punchier script, this could have been the chance for WB to revitalize an old property for a new generation all over again. Yet, Tom & Jerry is the definition of merely “watchable.” There’s very little reason for the cartoons to be there, and when you strip it down, it’s a rental you’d pick up in a ‘90s Blockbuster after all of the other stuff you want is out of stock.
With a distinct lack of Tom & Jerry charm, this film misses its chance to be a modern day Roger Rabbit.
Fear Street Part Two: 1978
Reviewer: Maxance Vincent
Berman tells them the story of Camp Nightwing, in which Sarah Fier possessed Tommy Slater (McCabe Slye), with an urge to randomly kill campers and counselors with an axe. We then see how “C. Berman” (played by Sadie Sink in flashbacks) escaped death at the hands of Sarah Fier and “learn” (after ninety tedious minutes) how the curse can be broken. That’s great and all, but the film takes a mindless detour to fill in most of its runtime with a useless prequel whose sole question could’ve been easily resolved after fifteen minutes.
It’s a shame that Fear Street Part Two: 1978 lacks the emotional catharsis and character investment that made the first film so great. While the first film brilliantly riffed on slashers of the past, while paying tribute to R.L. Stine’s greatest hits by infusing hints of the “young” Amblin Entertainment productions of the ‘80s (it was The Goonies meets Halloween, if we’re really honest with each other), the second film does virtually nothing to build on what it previously established. It’s pure, unadulterated filler that’s never interesting, and never important either. Luckily, the film’s ending leaves Deena in a hugely interesting position, setting the stage for a conclusion that’ll surely be better than whatever the hell this was. It’s what I hope, really.
Instead of building upon what the first film brilliantly established, Fear Street Part Two: 1978 is a useless and flaccid detour that quickly becomes stale once it starts “going back in time.”
The Tomorrow War
Reviewer: Chris Carter
The Tomorrow War, a sci-fi action film about coming back to the past to save the future, is constantly at odds with itself. At one point I abandoned all hope that I would care about the logistics of its version of time travel; as well as any emotional resonance with its cast. Part of that is on the cast itself, but by and large, the burden is on the execution. It feels like Amazon got three different action directors from three different eras to make a movie; then edited it all together hastily.
It’s a shame, because there are kernels of good ideas in here. I did feel something, albeit briefly, during a scene with Yvonne Strahovski, which would be spoilery to explain but is fairly easy to guess. And really, that was it. It was a brief lapse of emotion, bookended by two unsatisfying shooty action bits.
The Tomorrow War is a pastiche of old action movies and a kernel of a very cool idea, executed poorly by a cast who doesn’t believe in it.
Reviewer: Chris Carter
I’ll always be ready to sit down and watch an Antoine Fuqua film. Now, I won’t always enjoy it, but you better believe I’ll give it a chance. Infinite, weirdly enough, slots into his wildly uneven stable of films: in that it’s near the bottom.
Generally, there is a law of diminishing returns on Fuqua projects: the more action is the focus, the less impressive the film. Infinite follows an extremely goofy premise, in that a group called “The Infinites” secretly exists apart from mankind, acquiring knowledge and power from past lives to become super-beings of sorts. It’s extremely ‘90s ham, but with all of the seriousness of 2021.
If Infinite was released as-is roughly 30 years ago, with someone more charismatic than Wahlberg as the lead, it may have found life on DVD as a cult film. Instead, it reminds me of a poor imitation of projects like Equilibrium, but without Christian Bale and Gun Kata to propel itself past the schlock.
Infinite is a lot like some of the “so bad it’s good” action classics of old, but very few people are actually putting in work to make it interesting.
The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard
Reviewer: Maxance Vincent
2017’s The Hitman’s Bodyguard was a rather enjoyable comedy that exalted Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson’s signature comedic styles brilliantly, so when news of a sequel were announced, I immediately became hyped for the next adventure with Michael Bryce (Reynolds) and Darius Kincaid (Jackson). In The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, Darius gets kidnapped by a mob boss and his wife, Sonia (Salma Hayek), finds Bryce, on sabbatical from bodyguarding after becoming unlicensed, to save him. The trio, however, get caught in an INTERPOL investigation after accidentally killing agent Bobby O’Neal (Frank Grillo)’s contact.
Even with the best of intentions and featuring a highly talented cast of A-list stars who give their all, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard’s screenwriting ineptitudes can’t save this film from being a mess—its story is amazingly paper-thin, with a plethora of badly choreographed and unimaginative action sequences to distract the audience with the fact that it’s missing a compelling plot, antagonist, and comedic bits that are actually funny. If you’re looking for big laughs and some action thrills, watch Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar if you haven’t. Now that is how you make a great comedy.
Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson’s magnificent chemistry can’t save The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard from being an underwhelming and undercooked buddy comedy.
Reviewer: Lindsay Traves
There’s nothing clever about the seventy-seven-minute Karen video, though it tempts you to think it could be a satire. Our lead, Annie (Annie Hardy, who may or may not just be playing herself) is a live streamer who posts a constant string of word vomit to her mediocre following. She thinks mask wearing is silly and raps about it while driving around the US. She boards a plane to the UK and comes in like a wrecking ball to her friends’ house, cracking wise about BLM and Femenazis.
Dashcam feels like a complete upheaval and an about-face. This time, the budget is used for barely visible explosions and an excess of slime, and any comfort we got from the first stab at a COVID-19 centred movie has been traded in for the types of things we’ve been forced to endure in this hellish reality. This bullish mess left a gross taste in my mouth at a level Annie’s pickled “COVID” egg could only aspire to.
Last year’s Host made genre fans throw their warmth at the young filmmakers who gave us community via a scary movie. Dashcam should kick them out of horror’s warm embrace.
Worst Rated Tech 2021
1More ColorBuds Headphones
Reviewer: Lane Martin
These earbuds are not only being marketed as colourful statement pieces to express your individuality in one of four corporate approved colours, but these go for the premium asking price of 139.99 CDN, 99.99 USD. While the build on the buds is nice and the case is well made, the sound and microphone quality cannot justify that kind of price, no matter what funky colour these things come in. I have a set of earbuds that I purchased for less than half the price of these that give me the what is arguably the same experience listening experience I got using the ColorBuds with a slightly worse case. It’s very telling that these are the things piping hot beats into my noggin as I write this rather than 1More’s pricey though colourful affair.
1More’s ColorBuds are average in almost every way. The sound output and microphone are utterly fine, they come in a variety of dubious colours, have a pretty dandy case with advanced charging technology, but none of that can justify the ludicrous price tag associated with them. Maybe if there were more colour, it would be enough to make these worthwhile for a niche audience, but as they are, I can’t imagine the sort of person I would be comfortable suggesting these too without a significant discount.
1More’s ColorBuds look questionable, sound middling, and cost far far more than is justifiable.
GameSir F8 Pro Snowgon
Reviewer: Joe Findlay
The people at GameSir have introduced a device that, in addition to cooling your phone, also turns it into a game controller. The F8 Pro Snowgon mobile cooling device is specially designed to fit your phone and keep it cool while you game.
The Snowgon is an adjustable handgrip fitted with a cooling system, including a fan, refrigeration chip, cold plate and silicone pad for maximum chill. The sides of the handgrip slide out to custom fit your mobile device, keeping the cooling plate in the centre. Also included is a removable joystick for more custom gameplay.
Does the F8 Pro Snowgon do the job it is built for? Yes. Is it a job that needs to be done? Maybe. On some phones and with some games, it could be necessary. Is it worth $39.99 USD? Not in its current form. If it could be charged, if a version existed that cooled your device while you played horizontal and vertical games and maybe if the RGB was configurable and something that the user could see, then I could see getting something like this.
The F8 Pro Snowgon is an interesting, but very limited idea.
TCL 20S Smartphone
Reviewer: Chris de Hoog
Aesthetically, the TCL 20S is a pleasing piece of hardware. I like its tall build, with a 6.6-inch by 3-inch screen, but its verticality may be a turn-off for some. There is no wasted space on the surface of the device, with the display pushing straight to the edges. Its selfie camera is set into the display, but as unobtrusively as possible. My personal iPhone has a “notch” instead, where the selfie lens and speaker are located, so I appreciate the subtle integration TCL used here.
I don’t know who I would recommend the TCL 20S to, ultimately. Certainly not power-users or big gamers, as the performance was underwhelming. I might have said it makes a nice bare-bones family phone for parents who do not need a lot of frills—but knowing how often I rely on my own smartphone to quickly capture a golden moment in my kids’ lives, I can’t nominate the 20S to suit that need either.
The TCL 20s has potential as an alternative to other android devices, but ultimately fails to meet it.
Worst Rated Games 2021
Reviewer: Lane Martin
The game starts with the protagonist, Marianne preparing for the funeral of her deceased foster parent, which functions as a loose tutorial. Marianne stomps around looking for a tie clip and appropriate keys using her special ghostly vision to detect things that are not readily apparent, even though those things are not especially ghostly. This sequence culminates in a confrontation with the shade of her extremely confused father figure, in what should have been an emotional, sombre scene. The problem is that there are no emotional stakes here. Sure, Marianne is wailing, and this old man ghost is muttering about like he’s meant to remind me of the grim reality of senility, but none of these characters mean a thing to me yet so all their overacting just feels unearned and hollow.
To make matters worse, the game is exceptionally buggy. I ran into weird graphical glitches all over the place, some hard crashes, and had to restart the game several times just to progress. There is a neat feature where the screen splits in half and the main character can interact with the real world and its ghostly counterpart. I came to dread these sequences because they absolutely destroyed the game’s framerate. The fact that the game has an option for an unlimited framerate cap feels impossibly optimistic.
The Medium is a poor game that is rife with bugs, bad ideas, and some nice things to look at.
Reviewer: Preston Doza
Miitopia is an RPG that I knew two things about before I began to play it: You could make crazy Miis with its character creator, and that it was an RPG. I didn’t play it when it was originally released for the 3DS back in 2017, but I was curious as to what it was like when the Switch HD upgrade was announced. I was expecting something lighthearted and fun, but I didn’t expect that joyfulness to become bland as quickly as it did.
There is a button to fast-forward through battles, conversations, and exploration; I had this button pressed firmly down for most of my time in Miitopia. Thanks to a robust character creator and whimsical writing, there’s plenty to smile over in this otherwise light RPG in its opening hours. Yet the lack of control and the vast amount of repetition in nearly every aspect of the game undos what charms Miitopia may have. It’s not a bad game, not really. But it is a dull one.
Miitopia is whimsical in its opening hours, but becomes repetitive far too quickly.
Reviewer: Jordan Biordi
The biggest problem with Biomutant’s gameplay is how incredibly shallow it is. This is immediately apparent when you begin the game and are tasked with creating your character. To start, you’re given a choice of mutant-style—a sort of race choice that offers a different look, and minor stat changes. However, this is made immediately redundant when the next option allows you to DRASTICALLY change your ability scores—utilizing a strange stat wheel-grid rather than the traditional sequential allocation of a number of points—but also completely changing the way you look, making the initial choice pretty much redundant.
Combat is a mindless button masher with little in the way of strategy or style. Every melee weapon feels exactly the same, lacking any weight or audio/visual feedback from attacks—seriously, the sound of swords colliding with enemies is so quiet, it sounds like it’s a mile away. While every weapon has a basic combo, a jump and dodge attack, and two abilities you can unlock, combat usually devolves into trying to engage with melee, taking hits from wildly unpredictable telegraphs, then retreating to use guns which deal as much damage, if not more, than melee.
Biomutant is the least fun I’ve had with a game in a while. Broken, shallow, and above all, boring. This mutant should’ve stayed in the ooze.
Reviewer: Jed Whitaker
Have you ever played a game and felt relief that it’s finally over? That’s how I felt while seeing the credits roll on Balan Wonderworld (which isn’t called Balan Wonderland, by the way, even though that’s a far better name and there is more than one Alice in Wonderland reference in the game). And then the screen went black and a message popped up that said I’d unlocked more levels and I literally screamed, “No! I don’t want to play any more of this game!!!” and I meant it. Balan Wonderworld is flawed to its very core.
At its core, Balan Wonderworld is a basic 3D platformer that unsuccessfully tries to create a mashup of Mario Odyssey’s character swapping mechanics with Sonic the Hedgehog-like characters. Each level has a set of costumes with unique abilities to find, based on the various characters seen dancing (for unexplained reasons) around each stage. Each costume is contained inside a locked gem, which requires a generic consumable key to open. These keys are almost always placed mere feet away from each costume’s gem, meaning they serve practically no purpose other than to slow your progress for what amounts to essentially seconds. Keys and costumes respawn over time, which is good because should you fall or take any damage you’ll lose the costume you’re currently wearing, which more often than not means tedious backtracking.
Balan Wonderworld is just plain bad. Apart from its terrible costume system, it does nothing new and just poorly copies things that other 3d platformers have already done better.