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The 10 Most Disappointing Movies of 2016 (So Far)

13 July 2016 | Features, Film Lists | by Justin Gunterman

most disappointing movies 2016

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

batman superman movie review

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.

 

2. Warcraft

Warcraft

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

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 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.

 

5. Nina

Nina

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.

 

 

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  • Gogzilla

    I had no interest in seeing any of these, and haven’t seen any of them. Thus I was not disappointed in any.

    • Harris K Telemacher

      If there is literally not a single film on this list that you want to see, then I’m not sure what you’re doing on this site 🙂
      Not a Coen bros fan? Not interested to see what Refn got up to? Really??

      • Gogzilla

        I do like the Coen brothers movies, but am not a fan(atic). The trailer for the movie did not interest me. Also am getting bored with superhero movies. I think Dr. Strange is the only upcoming superhero movie coming out.

  • Fa Mariale

    Ugh, i had so much hope for The Neon Demon and though it did look amazing and Elle Fanning was great, the actual film was lacking…something. I’ve been so disappointed with NWR, he’s more about style than substance.

    • Rudi

      “Style over substance” is the most used criterium by people that are having trouble with story-wise challenging movies. The Neon Demon has lots of substance, probably more than you can understand after one (or a few) viewing.

      Also, the term “style over substance” makes you think the two are opposites, while Refn uses style here to explain the substance.

      • Josh Jisco Schasny

        I find most critics of Refn expect way too much of one thing. That is why I enjoy going to his films with people because by now, everyone should know he is not making movies for people who just go to see films as a hobby.

        I loved The Neon Demon, and knew I would enjoy the reactions of those I went to see it with (mixed). Some still complain about his films as if they thought it was going to be a slightly controversial thriller.

        The Neon Demon reminds me of something you would have seen in a Greek amphitheatre two thousand years ago. Mixed in with Edgar Allan Poe and Jodorowsky. I agree with the detractors of this list’s selection, The Neon Demon will find resurgence in the future.

      • V.C. Privitera

        YAWN!
        Fa Mariale is right!

    • V.C. Privitera

      I completely agree Fa Mariale!
      I think the previews for his films make them out to be something they ultimately are not and is kind of a buzz-kill.
      It seems as in recent years, he’s becoming more of a Music Video/TV Commercial type of filmmaker focusing more of making every frame of his pictures too symmetrical….but it’s over-indulged & over-saturated, completely ignoring the basic elements of actual story-telling!
      ….I find it even more ironic that the wicked awful TV Commercials of the latest Lincoln Automobile starring Matthew McConauhey that became widespread-full of hate were all Directed by none other than: Nicolas Winding Refn!
      When a once respected filmmaker can’t even make decent Car Commercials, you know he’s lost his MOJO!

  • ashish singh

    I don’t know why but all my disappointment with Batman vs Superman vanished the moment I finished it’s Ultimate Cut. I thoroughly enjoyed it. All of it. It’s less entertainimg than regular marvel stuff we are now used to cherish but it’s so well done when one cares to look beyond the usual. Jessie Heisenberg is annoying though.

  • Ozhan

    This is the most disappointing list by far for me. I mean most of the movies from this list gave me what they promised. I haven’t watched The Neon Demon yet but now I’m convinced that it’s a great movie.

    • Well Meaning

      if you like dario argento films, you’ll love neon demon.

  • Rudi

    Terrible list, including the two best movies of the year so far. The Neon Demon even made it to the number 1 spot of my all time 100 list. Breathtaking cinema. But looking at the arguments these sorts of films are not for the writer of this list.

    By the way, where is Independence Day: Resurgence?

  • Rob_52

    I think Hail, Caesar was great and a better film then people have given it credit for, especially by Coen Brothers standards. I don’t care how disjointed it is. I love the Hollywood Babylon/ Golden Age setting and its subversiveness and satirical humor. One of their best comedies.

    Neon Demon is one of the worst films I’ve seen this year.

  • Attila Szabo

    I entirely agree with the writer of this article! He brought some very good and accurate arguments to sustain his point of view, and finally, someone who has a sharp sense of criticism, and does not re-tell the plot, or the circumstances surrounding the shooting of the film! And yes, I am a fan of the Coen Bros., by one of their very last films, Inside Llewyn Davis I was simply mesmerized, yet Hail, Caesar was a downer (especially the
    second half, where the film and story fell to pieces), and the no. 1 on
    this list has truly earned this spot! So good job, and keep them articles, coming!

  • Gaétan

    those lists are getting out of hand…

  • Ted Wolf

    Completely agree on hail Caesar. A lot of the movies on this list didn’t disappoint because I wasn’t expecting much. I expect more from the coens

  • Bobby Calloway

    I thought War Craft was actually better than I was expecting it to be. A perfectly serviceable fantasy flick with actual care put into the story.

    Joy for me was a huge disappointment. A complete disaster of filmmaking packed full of bad direction, horribly written characters and a plot that feels like a teenager’s fanfiction. Even Jennifer Lawrence couldn’t save it from being such a ghastly trainwreck.

  • Bradley Hadcroft

    The Neon Demon will come to be regarded as a classic and its inclusion on this list a travesty.

    • V.C. Privitera

      Nope!

  • Brandon Thompson

    Most of these films I had close to no expectation for so I wouldn’t call them disappointing. Hail Caesar! was great and I haven’t seen Neon Demon yet as I live down under but I think i’m gonna like it.

    Films that I thought were actually disapointing include It’s Only the End of the World, Dheepan and Rams.

  • ogg

    Green Room. It was hyped as one of the most exciting movies recently, but ended up being just ok at best. A few great scenes and a lot of superficial nonsense between. At least it appealed to me aesthetically and musically.

  • jesse100

    Much nicer to Hail Caesar than it deserves. The movie was a huge disappointment because it wasn’t funny!

  • V.C. Privitera

    “Neon Demon” like wayyy too many of Nicolas Refn’s flicks is a complete rip-off!
    Just from the previews alone, it’s easily noticeable that the plot/story is heavily influenced by David Lynch’s “Mulholland Dr.” as well as the more recently released David Cronenberg 2015 film “Maps to the Stars,” of which was justly compared to Lynch’s 2001 picture.
    Those complaining that “Neon Demon” shouldn’t be on here, should get some better taste in quality cinema, cause Refn is nothing more than a Danish-Version of Tarantino…
    Sure practically all Filmmakers utilize ideas, plots/story-lines, scenes, techniques, etc. for their own film-projects, but the great artists of their craft don’t make it so damn obvious of themselves doing-so.
    If you’re wanna go waste your time on “Neon Demon,” then have at it….just more of the same crap Refn pulled with “Only God Forgives,” so if you liked that movie, then I guess “Neon Demon” is right up your alley for enjoyment!
    …you could ask of myself, why I’d waste my time watching Refn’s work if I don’t care for him, well, it’s just like Gus Van Sant had said about how he watches anything & everything…in my opinion, this gives a viewer any justification for any amount of criticism they would have upon said film…so if you Refn fans don’t like my comment:
    Suck It!

  • Joao Ribeiro

    Why the fuck is there someone clueless about film making lists about film ?

  • hitesh sharma

    Nicolas Winding Refn is festival circuit Zack Snyder.

  • Krendie

    For the last time, AMADEUS IS NOT A BIOPIC.