2016 brought cinemagoers a slew of critical and commercial hits. Star Wars: Rogue One proved that the franchise is in the right hands. Arrival helped show that there’s still room for smart sci-fi blockbusters. Hell, even the sequel to Ouija managed to leave critics happily stunned. There was no shortage of great movies that came along this past year.
Unfortunately, for all of the great cinematic achievements delivered to us in 2016, there were also plenty of movies that could be considered disappointing. For example, DC had a rough year to say the least, and the latest entry in the Bourne series couldn’t recapture the magic of the original trilogy even with Matt Damon returning. This list is going to talk about ten movies that sadly left many viewers disappointed.
People are often quick to defend movies they enjoy, and that makes sense considering how passionate Taste of Cinema readers are about the movies they watch. That’s why there are a few things that should be mentioned first to ease any potential feelings of distraught brought on by the choices on this list.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that some of these movies aren’t necessarily bad. There’s a difference between a “bad movie” and a “disappointing movie.” For example, Snowden isn’t a bad movie as much as it is one that didn’t live up to its expectations. The list exists to point out movies that had great potential but ultimately didn’t quite do what viewers were hoping.
There’s one more thing to keep in mind before you jump to your keyboard to ask why your movie is on the list and another movie isn’t. Certain big summer blockbusters were excluded because, frankly, they weren’t promising enough to be considered disappointments in the eyes of the author.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows and Independence Day: Resurgence aren’t on the list because they seemed dead on arrival. It was definitely exciting to see Independence Day getting a sequel, but the movie seemed doomed long before its release.
With that long, wordy introduction out of the way, it’s time to bring back memories of how your most hotly anticipated movies betrayed you this year.
Okay, so everyone knows that video games movies are consistently pretty bad, but that doesn’t mean gamers are willing to give up hope. It’s easy to have suspicions regarding the quality of a future video game movie, but it’s also easy to get excited that the next video game adaptation will finally break the curse.
Out of the four video game movies that were to come out in 2016, Warcraft showed the most promise. It seemed like it could have been the first great video game movie. The Warcraft universe is filled with lore that would be perfect for the big screen. With Duncan Jones as the director and Charles Leavitt as one of the screenwriters, it was looking like the studio found the perfect fit for a big screen Warcraft.
When the movie was finally released, reviews were ruthless. With a Rotten Tomatoes score of 28% and a Metascore of 32, few critics had anything nice to say about Jones’s adaptation. The good news is that fans of the franchise have been a bit more lenient on the movie, but the general consensus remains that the film was not what people were anxiously anticipating.
The movie was overstuffed, the human characters were uninteresting, and the visual effects were hit or miss. Seeing the well-developed world of Azeroth on the big screen is exciting, especially if you’re a fan of the series. It’s just a shame that the plot of the film isn’t as interesting as the Warcraft lore.
The movie buckles under the weight of its own ambitions. It tries to be a fantasy epic comparable to Lord of the Rings, but the lack of focus kills any and all potential of that happening. It tries to jam in as much Warcraft as it possibly can while also trying to jam in as much story as possible. The end result is a movie that, while better than most video game adaptations, is still a total disappointment.
Regardless of recent slip-ups, Oliver Stone will always be an esteemed director in the eyes of many people. He’s the man that brought us JFK, Platoon, Natural Born Killers, Born on the Fourth of July, and Wall Street. He’s a three-time Oscar winner who at one point in his career seemed unstoppable. Despite recent directorial efforts such as Savages and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, there are people that still consider Stone one of the greats. Because of this, people still get excited when he announces a new project.
This isn’t the result of naivety by any means. Stone deserves the attention. After proving time and time again that he has a gift for filmmaking, why should people give up entirely? In particular, his ability to create passionate, emotionally charged films is unparalleled. That’s why he was the perfect for a movie about famous whistleblower Edward Snowden. After Citizenfour gave us all the facts, Stone seemed like the right guy to create a flashy, and more importantly entertaining, look into Snowden’s life.
Snowden is a prime example of a movie that, while not necessarily bad, is supremely disappointing. This is because of the fact that the movie is completely devoid of the passion that Stone is so well known for. Snowden is a limp biopic that offers viewers nothing that cannot already be found in documentaries or through a quick web search. The lack of information wouldn’t be a problem if the film featured Stone’s signature fervor, but that’s sadly lacking.
The movie has great performances and and a political message worth talking about, but none of that matters when it’s such a slog to sit through. If you read and watch interviews, it’s obvious that the director is passionate about the project. It’s just unfortunate that his interest in the subject isn’t evident when sitting through his film.
8. Blair Witch
The prospect of a true Blair Witch Project sequel isn’t enough for this movie to earn enough hype to be considered a disappointment. After all, film fanatics know how overdue sequels tend to turn out. The excitement instead comes from the people involved and the way the film was marketed.
After Adam Wingard delivered two horror slam dunks with You’re Next and The Guest, it was hard not to get excited about him taking on the Blair Witch series. His involvement, along with the secretive way in which the film was revealed, produced plenty of hype. In theory, the long-dead series should have been in safe hands.
Maybe it w as in too safe of hands, because Blair Witch has a tendency to feel like a shot-for-shot remake of the original. That’s an obvious exaggeration, but the point is that the movie feels way too familiar. Aside from a few neat scenes that flirt with body horror as well as a larger cast, Blair Witch feels like the same movie that came out almost two decades before. Well, it would be more appropriate to say that it feels like the same movie with none of the subtlety or scares.
This new Blair Witch may be louder than the original, but it’s definitely not scarier. Even with a couple twists and turns along the way, you know what you’re getting into pretty early on. It pulls a lot of the same punches as the original movie, so viewers are likely to see any surprises coming from a mile away. In particular, the last half hour is groan inducingly similar to the original movie.
There were numerous complaints about how different Book of Shadow was from its predecessor, but it’s safe to assume that most people didn’t want a sequel that felt this familiar. Blair Witch is a dull and uninspired retread that takes the formula of the original film but lacks the quality.
7. Jason Bourne
Greengrass is back. Matt Damon is back. Bourne is back. The quality of the once great film franchise unfortunately does not make a return. It’s definitely back in name, but this movie fails to recapture the magic of the once great series. This is mostly due to the fact that this soft reboot of the franchise plays things too safe for its own good.
Jason Bourne makes a return, this time with his memory mostly if not completely intact. That doesn’t mean he’s off the hook though. He still has super awesome spy shenanigans to get into for two hours.
Sadly, these shenanigans are nothing new. Greengrass proudly picks pieces from the Bourne Book of Clichés and jams them together to create a movie that resembles the previous films in the series a little too much. He takes cues from the movie he created but he fails to take the risks necessary to make a sequel worth watching. You’re left with a movie that feels like a Bourne movie, but doesn’t have enough ideas to feel like a necessary sequel with the purpose of advancing the story.
Then there’s the shaky cam, which also makes a return. Greengrass’s insistence on using a shaky cam technique has always been controversial, but he has proven that he can keep up with the action despite the fact that him and the rest of the crew love flinging the cameras around like maniacs. It is with deep regret that readers should be informed that the shaky cam has gotten out of hand this time around.
In fact, a better term would be “spastic cam,” considering the action scenes this time around often range from irritating to nauseating. The Bourne movies are well known for brilliant stunt coordination and breathtaking action, and Jason Bourne still features those things. It’s just a lot harder to see these complex stunts being performed when the camera looks like it’s attached to the moving blade of a fan.
Jason Bourne is still a fun movie if you keep your expectations at a reasonable level, but considering the fact that this is a direct sequel to what many consider to be one of the greatest spy movies of the century, it’s hard to contain one’s excitement. It’s still a stylish action movie with fun ideas. It just has several elements that prevent it from sitting atop the “spy movie throne” like its older siblings.
If the Bourne series didn’t have the reputation it did, this film wouldn’t be such a disappointment. However, the Bourne flicks have become practically iconic over the past decade and a half, and the newest entry doesn’t do the series justice.
6. The Girl on the Train
After Gone Girl took the world by storm in 2014, people were hungry for another thriller with a crazy woman at the center. The announcement of an adaptation of Paula Hawkins’s novel was met with eager anticipation. The novel sold exceptionally well and earned mostly positive reviews among literary critics. With Tate Taylor as the director and Emily Blunt as the star, the movie appeared to be a potential stunner.
Emily Blunt is terrific as the protagonist of the novel, but she’s the one bright spot in an otherwise flawed movie. The ludicrous script is downright unforgivable. Even if everything else was outstanding, it would still be hard to appreciate this movie given how ridiculous every twist is. The movie keeps piling on twists and turns until it finally collapses by the very end. It’s hard to care when every new idea is lacking in logic.
The script is definitely the biggest problem, but it’s not the only one. Supporting characters are forgettable, the film is visually dull, and the movie seems to go on forever despite a relatively brief runtime. Blunt carries the movie, but she can only do so much. The flaws aren’t particularly well-hidden, so it’s hard to ignore them.