Every year, movies are released that simply don’t live up to expectations. If box office numbers and reviews are anything to go by, 2016 has been an especially disappointing year for many filmgoers. It seems as if most of the hotly anticipated titles have bombed while the smaller movies have pleasantly surprised viewers. In other words, we’re still getting good movies. They’re just not the ones we were expecting.
This list is made up of all of 2016’s major disappointments. Basically, if a movie had a lot going for it and it didn’t live up to those expectations, it’ll probably show up on this list. Poorly reviewed big-budget movies that people didn’t have high hopes for, like Alice Through the Looking Glass and Independence Day: Resurgence, won’t be included.
1. Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice
Oh boy, where do you begin with a movie like Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice? The premise of Batman V. Superman was beyond exciting for people who love superhero movies. After all, Batman and Superman are arguably the two most popular superheroes in the world.
While Zack Snyder didn’t exactly deliver with Man of Steel, a lot of people were willing to give him a second chance. There was a new screenwriter on board, pre-release reception was glowing, and the early trailers were getting plenty of positive buzz. Even the most cautious of moviegoers at least assumed this would be better than Man of Steel.
Then the movie was released, and people quickly realized the error of their ways. Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice was an absolute mess that not even an extended R-rated cut could fix. The solid cast and decent action scenes are about all the movie has going for it. Some might argue that the movie was too ambitious for its own good, and there are certainly some valid arguments there. The movie tries its best to set up the DC cinematic universe, but ultimately that just leads to an overstuffed mess of a plot.
If the overstuffed plot were the only problem it would be slightly easier to forgive. It would still be hard to call it a “good movie” with how the story played off, but we could have at least claimed it was decent popcorn entertainment. The movie has a number of other issues, sadly.
The overly dark tone works to an extent, but it also results in the titular “heroes” lacking any sort of humanity. Batman and Superman don’t seem to feel any sort of empathy, which is unusual for their characters. Then you have the occasional cringe-worthy dialog, the lack of originality, and a number of pacing issues.
All of these result in a movie that’s not just disappointing – it’s flat-out unpleasant. So far, the DC cinematic universe is zero for two. It’s getting harder with each subsequent release to keep faith. Here’s hoping Suicide Squad turns things around.
Those still looking for the first great video game adaptation will have to wait a little longer (or maybe indefinitely at this rate). It’s not like we had the highest hopes for Angry Birds or Ratchet & Clank, but the big-budget Warcraft adaptation from acclaimed director Duncan Jones actually showed some kind of potential.
This adaptation of the giant Blizzard property is definitely one of the better movies based off a video game, but it’s still far from what gamers have been hoping for from a video game movie.
Warcraft has always been known for its well developed lore, but it’s never been the go-to video game to talk about in terms of plot. That is absolutely evident when watching a two hour feature length adaptation.
There was clearly a lot of work put into making a fascinating world but the been-there-done-that story makes it hard to get attached to the film. In terms of storytelling, Warcraft doesn’t do a whole lot that you haven’t seen before in other, better fantasy films. Other comparable fantasy films also do a better job of telling this particular kind of story well.
Despite having a relatively unoriginal story, Warcraft still has a tendency to feel bloated and confusing thanks to a lack of exposition. The first fifteen minutes fly by while characters and plot points are relentless thrown at viewers with little to no explanation.
There’s enough exposition later on that people will be able to follow the story, but it might take a while for people to catch up with what’s going on. Warcraft is a movie that definitely benefits from having knowledge of the source material, and that’s not necessarily a good thing.
This isn’t a trainwreck though. The visuals are impressive and the movie can be pretty fun to watch assuming you avoid nitpicking the many negative aspects. However, don’t go in expecting the game to break the video game curse, don’t go in expecting the same quality as Moon or Source Code, and don’t go in expecting the next great fantasy film.
3. Free State of Jones
The summer release was a bit odd for a movie of its type, but the director, cast, and trailers all pointed to a great movie. To clarify, summer isn’t a bad time to release movies by any means.
It is, however, a weird time to release a meaty biopic about war, as those types of movies are usually saved for a fall release date. Still, with McConaughey’s winning streak and director Gary Ross at the helm, it seemed like this was a surefire victory. If it wasn’t going to be one of the best movies of the year, it was still hard to imagine it being anything less than great.
Things don’t always work out as planned, sadly. Free State of Jones definitely had good intentions. One can easily see the amount of effort put into the film. Good intentions can only help a movie so much, however. The performances are great, and Ross’s direction is mostly solid throughout.
The story, unfortunately, is where the movie falls flat. This is a story worth telling, but the way it unfolds in this particular film is sappy, unfocused, and dull. All of those aspects combine into a film that could at best be described as lackluster.
Like a lot of the movies on the list, it’s not a bad way to waste time, but that’s about the most praise you can give the movie. It does enough things well to avoid being flat-out bad. The problem is that it’s also not remotely close to being good. With all of the talent involved, it’s no wonder that it found its way onto a list of disappointments.
4. Zoolander 2
Zoolander’s status as a cult classic helped earn the film a long overdue sequel. Coming fifteen years after the release of the original film, people were ecstatic to see Ben Stiller pull of his trademark “Blue Steel” look once again. Yes, the audience got to see Stiller pull off the “Blue Steel” but it didn’t feel like he was doing it for the right reasons. This sequel seems less like a labor of love and more of an obligation.
The charming absurdist humor of the original is lacking in the sequel. Instead, the audience had to settle for recycled jokes and an overabundance of bland cameos.
Cameos are fun every now and then, but when the entire movie relies on them in an attempt to get laughs, then you may need to try a bit harder. The cameos seem about as forced as the callbacks to the original movie. The movie is completely lacking in soul, and even worse, humor.
It’s not as if comedy sequels have a tendency of being good movies. Still, after some solid comedy sequels in recent years, you’d think maybe Stiller would be able to put some life into his Zoolander sequel.
Unfortunately the movie makes the same mistakes as every other comedy sequel. It’s a lazy rehash that thinks bigger is better. Bad news folks, it’s absolutely not in the case of Zoolander 2.
As far as movie genres go, you could do a lot worse than music biopics. In fact, music biopics have an unusually strong track record. Ray, Love & Mercy, Walk the Line, Amadeus, Straight Outta Compton, Coal Miner’s Daughter, and I’m Not There are just a sample of great biopics about talented musicians.
While this particular genre of movies delivers more often than not, there are a few unfortunate misfires that pop up from time-to-time. On the subject of misfires, it’s hard to find one worse than Nina.
The movie has had a toxic reputation since it was announced, so putting it on a list of most disappointing movies might be questionable. However, the idea of a Nina Simone biopic done well is exciting.
Simone was a fascinating person, so while most were expecting this movie to fail, it’s still easy to get excited about a look into Simone’s life. Somehow, the movie was somehow worse than people were expecting. In fact, it’s one of the worst music biopics I’ve ever had the displeasure of seeing.
Saldana’s casting was controversial from the start, and the choice to darken her skin was even more controversial. The makeup and prosthetics that were used on Saldana made her look like a cartoon character.
No matter how good of a performance she delivered, it would have been hard to take her seriously. So when you sit through the film and see Zoe Saldana’s distant, half-hearted performance, things become even more disappointing.
The part of Simone’s life that the screenwriters chose to look at is perhaps the worst part of the movie, and that’s saying an awful lot. There are a lot of great stories to tell about Nina Simone, and this isn’t really one of them. What’s worse is that a large chunk of it is fabricated. The movie deviated from Simone’s life so much that her family chose to disown the project.
Along with the questionable storytelling, the movie also paints a weirdly negative picture of Simone. It’s true that people get frustrated when a biopic makes the subject out to be some sort of angel, but this is not the Nina Simone that we’ve heard about for years. The Nina Simone portrayed in the film is a demented alcoholic who prefers aggravated assault to playing music.
If you’re looking to learn about Nina Simone, there aren’t any good biopics about the legendary artist. Your best bet is to check out the Oscar nominated documentary What Happened, Miss Simone. That does the singer justice, unlike this monstrosity.