It’s the end of 2018, which means that year-end lists will be rolling out at a rapid pace from basically any entertainment publication. There will of course be lists detailing the best and worst movies of the years, but not every website is like Taste of Cinema. TOC needs to make sure it has all of its bases covered, which means it needs to warn readers about promising movies that ultimately did not live up to the promise.
This leads us to our necessary list of big disappointments. The movies below all showed some amount of promise before failing to deliver in some way or another. A lot of these movies are at least watchable. In other words, this shouldn’t be treated as a “worst of 2018” list. Also, it should be noted that these movies aren’t listed in order of quality. Some of these movies are just bigger disappointments than others. The goal here is to highlight which movies had the hardest time living up to the promise.
There’s one other important thing to note: the movies listed below had to show some signs of promise beforehand. In other words, movies like Robin Hood and Slender Man have been excluded because few people actually believed they would be worth watching. While it would’ve been nice to get a decent Robin Hood movie, there were plenty of warning signs. With that out of the way, here are some movies that just couldn’t do what they needed to do.
10. Solo: A Star Wars Story
Even though Solo: A Star Wars Story has earned a spot on this list, it should be made clear that it’s anything but a bad movie. In fact, it’s a pretty above average movie. Strong world building, fast-paced action, and clever dialogue all add up to a Star Wars movie that’s perfectly enjoyable. Its inclusion on the list comes from the fact that it fails to match the quality of any other Disney Star Wars movie.
Say what you will about The Last Jedi, but this author believes that three movies preceding this one were all excellent for various reasons. After being spoiled for three years, it’s a bit jarring to watch a movie that settles for “pretty good.”
At risk of infuriating countless fans, it was refreshing to see a movie like The Last Jedi take so many risks. Sure, not all of those risks paid off, but they at least proved that Lucasfilms and Disney weren’t going to be super uptight about a franchise with millions of passionate fans. At least, that’s the vibe that was given last year. With the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story, it seems as though everybody wanted to play things as safely as possible.
This is a movie that absolutely refuses to do anything new. While it does pretty much everything well, there’s not a whole lot on display that hasn’t been seen before. This is a Star Wars movie for people who can’t stand to see Star Wars movies make radical changes. It’s worth a watch, but it’s in and out of your memory a week after the credits roll.
That’s not going to be a bad thing for everyone. In fact, very few people will see it as an absolute dealbreaker. At the same time, very few people will leave this movie feeling absolutely stunned. It’s a movie designed to get the job done and nothing else. It does what it sets out to do, but it never goes above and beyond.
9. The Mule
Given Clint Eastwood’s hit-or-miss track record, the inclusion of The Mule may confuse some readers. After all, Jersey Boys, J. Edgar, and Hereafter garnered mixed reviews upon release. Meanwhile, most people considered The 15:17 to Paris to be an absolute trainwreck. That being said, The Mule seemed more promising than the aforementioned movies (aside from maybe J. Edgar) for several reasons.
First off, it marked Clint Eastwood’s return to the big screen. Instead of standing behind the cameras, Eastwood decided to deliver another lead performance at the age of eighty-eight. This is the first time Eastwood has directed himself since the release of Gran Torino in 2008. Speaking of Gran Torino, this is also Eastwood’s second collaboration with the screenwriter of that movie. Based on that knowledge, many viewers were hoping for the next Gran Torino.
Gran Torino this is not. Admittedly, it’s better than some of the movie mentioned above. This is hardly the worst thing Clint Eastwood has ever directed. In fact, that award may just have to go to The 15:17 to Paris. The problem is actually that it just wastes so much potential. Everything about the movie made it seem like an inevitable win, but in reality, it’s just kind of okay.
It has all the makings of a great movie, but there’s just not a whole lot of payoff. There’s certainly build-up, but it doesn’t necessarily lead anywhere. To make matters worse, the whole thing feels like it’s lacking in innovation. Eastwood’s old age adds something kind of unique to the package, but this still feels like a cookie-cutter crime thriller at the end of the day. It’s all well-made, but it’s never as interesting as it should be.
From a technical standpoint, The Mule is a good movie. When it comes to entertainment value, the film is lacking. This is a movie that’s stubbornly stuck in the past and it’s also a movie that fails to keep people on the edge of their seat. Considering the premise, this should be heart-pounding entertainment. Instead, it just exists to pass the time.
8. Red Sparrow
Let’s get over the fact that everyone is sick of Jennifer Lawrence. Okay, she blew up and started acting a little quirky and then everybody turned on her. That’s fine, but she has shown that she’s plenty capable of delivering quality performances time and time again. Red Sparrow looked like another promising showcase for Lawrence to show off her acting chops, and it actually did succeed in that regard. Too bad the movie itself isn’t all that interesting. It’s all fine, but that’s about all the praise it’s going to get.
As stated, Lawrence is terrific, but the overstylish movie relies too much on her and over-the-top violence when it should be focusing on the story. The plot is occasionally paper-thin and frequently generic.
Instead of focusing on a thought-provoking story, the audience is supposed to be entranced by how edgy everything is. Sex and violence is awesome when it’s not the sole attraction. Tarantino loves blood and gore, but he also makes sure to polish his script until it’s absolutely perfect. Red Sparrow doesn’t have a perfect script. It has a passable script, and that’s just not good enough.
That’s the problem with a lot of movies on this list. While some of them are flat-out bad, a lot of them are decent ways to spend a couple hours and nothing more. Still, despite the fact that it’s slightly above mediocre, it’s hard to recommend Red Sparrow because it’s far too long. It’s a commitment, which sucks because there are other two-and-a-half hour long movies that are more worth everyone’s time.
7. The Predator
The Predator is similar to Venom in that it’s just dumb enough to be entertaining but just bad enough to be inadequate. This is an issue because a director like Shane Black has the capability to make a good Predator movie. This may be a hot take, but the Predator movies have never been especially good. The first one was good for some trashy, manly fun, but the series as a whole is kind of weak. This could have changed with someone as talented as Black, but it didn’t. This is the same sloppy action movie as before. It not without thrills, but it’s loud and dumb when it could have been something better.
There are definitely times when loud and dumb is ideal. The Predator functions as a perfectly satisfactory hangover movie because viewers don’t have to think. They just need to sit back and watch. As the blood gushes and the bullets sound, most viewers will be able to find something worth watching. It
Action movies aren’t supposed to be thought-provoking psychological thinkpieces, but The Predator offers nothing new or exciting. It takes pieces from both the series and other action movies, stitches those pieces together, and assumes people will leave the movie satisfied. To be fair, some people will leave satisfied, but most people will leave wishing that the cast and crew injected something worthwhile into a stale formula.
The biggest disappointment of all might be the fact that it couldn’t even top 2010’s Predators. The bar wasn’t all that high, but they still managed to mess things up. These extraterrestrial baddies make for some interesting characters, so it’s a shame that nobody can seem to nail this. Naive as it may be, this is a series that still deserves another chance.
When Duncan Jones directed Moon back in 2009, all eyes were on him. The minimalist sci-fi director created something unique and special with a movie many people now deem a contemporary sci-fi masterpiece. Shortly after its release, Jones announced a spiritual successor titled Mute. This movie was put on the backburner in favor of the excellent Source Code and the so-so Warcraft, but it was never cancelled. It was just pushed year after year until 2018, when Netflix finally decided to give it an official release. Bad news, folks: it’s no Moon.
Mute’s biggest problem is that it tells two kinda-sorta connected stories that are tonally at odds. There’s the gritty revenge movie starring Alexander Skarsgård and there’s the banter-filled Quentin Tarantino homage featuring Paul Rudd and Justin Theroux.
While the two stories eventually come together, they never feel like they belong in the same movie. The latter story is undoubtedly more entertaining because these characters are more developed thanks to strong performances and occasionally engaging dialogue. That being said, neither of the contrasting stories ever truly manage to impress.
This is the number one issue, but it’s closely rivaled by something else that helps drag down the movie. Basically, there’s a whole lot going on that simply doesn’t matter. For one, Mute could be set in a contemporary setting without anything changing.
The sci-fi setting only seems to exist to enhance world building, but it serves no purpose thematically. Then there’s the mute character who doesn’t need to be mute and the pedophile character who doesn’t need to be a pedophile. Jones desperately tries to make the movie feel unique, but when none of it makes a difference, everything feels like a waste of potential.
It isn’t a complete disaster. The performances are solid, the production design is beautiful, and some of the aforementioned banter can be pretty fun. It’s just a shame that so few elements manage to click.