Good news, everyone. 2017 is not as consistently disappointing as 2016. We haven’t ran into any colossal misfires like Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, X-Men: Apocalypse, or Zoolander 2. In fact, there have been a surprising amount of pleasant surprises instead.
Wonder Woman, John Wick 2, and Get Out all managed to exceed expectations. With that being said, this year hasn’t exactly been perfect. Like every year, there are still movies that fail to live up to their potential. While some of these movies were iffy to begin with, others seemed poised to really impress. Predicting the quality of a movie is tough, which unfortunately means even the most promising movies fall flat.
For this list, ten movies have been chosen that sadly fail to live up to whatever potential they had. For a movie to be included on the list, it had to show some sign of promise. This by no means implies that the included movie appeared destined for Oscar glory, but it means that it at least showed more potential than Baywatch or Transformers: The Last Knight. Also note that disappointing does not mean bad.
There are plenty of perfectly watchable movies that can be deemed disappointing just because they had so much to live up to. This little note is especially important when you look at the one controversial choice on this list. Aside from those reminders, the following list should be pretty straightforward.
10. All Eyez on Me
The problem with All Eyez on Me isn’t that it fabricates countless details. Movies “based on true stories” always add in pieces of fiction. All Eyez on Me is problematic because it’s a by-the-numbers biopic that offers no insight into who Tupac was as a person. Despite the lengthy runtime, All Eyez on Me offers little more than a Wikipedia entry into the rapper’s life. There’s nothing groundbreaking or surprising here, which is made even more inexcusable thanks to the complete lack of entertainment value.
We know that Hollywood can crank out some stellar music biopics. After Straight Outta Compton, we deserve more than than this hamfisted cash grab. Shipp Jr. makes a great Tupac. His performance is the only thing worthwhile in an otherwise abysmal movie. The soapy script, amateurish directing, and lack of imagination all make it hard to focus on this one positive aspect.
All Eyez on Me never rises above mediocrity. More often than not, it’s flat-out bad. It’s so frustrating that a story with so much potential has to be wasted. Like last year’s Nina, All Eyez on Me feels like a made-for-TV movie pushed to theaters in order to earn a couple bucks. Admittedly, it has done fairly well at the box office. Hopefully that doesn’t mean studios will continue to rush out sloppy music biopics. Let’s leave Kurt Cobain, Prince, and Chuck Berry alone until we can get their story right.
9. War Machine
War Machine was one of Netflix’s biggest gambles to date. After the recent cancellation of The Get Down, it’s clear that Netflix may need to cool it on big budget risks. With a hefty $60 million budget, this isn’t the usual Netflix indie fare. By comparison, Beasts of No Nation costed only $6 million to make. With a budget that size, Netflix better be damn sure they can create a hit. Unfortunately, War Machine isn’t exactly the hit Netflix was expecting. Reviews have been middling at best, and rumor has it that it’s not pulling in the same numbers as the recent Sandler originals.
Some disappointments can be seen from a mile away, but War Machine should have been a slam dunk in theory. Director David Michôd knows how to make a good movie. His screenplays are consistently top notch, and his two directorial outings have been incredibly well received. In addition, Brad Pitt has never been one to disappoint in a leading role. These two factors, along with strong trailers and an interesting premise, should have given viewers an excellent satirical war film.
While everything looked peachy from a distance, the end result was a tonally jarring mess with a bizarre performance from the usually excellent Pitt. War Machine bounces between ideas throughout its two hour runtime. It doesn’t know if it wants to be a satire, a character study, a war drama, or an off brand Coen brothers flick. This is even more of an issue due to the fact that it’s never really successful no matter what it tries to do. Meanwhile, Pitt’s exaggerated version of his Inglorious Basterds performance is more frustrating than fun.
“More frustrating than fun” is actually a solid phrase to describe the entire movie. It has a lot of good ideas, but its failure to stay focused hinders its quality. Yes, it’ll likely make you laugh. Yes, it certainly has a few clever things to say about the subject matter. In the end though, everything is too sloppy to appreciate. In the case of War Machine, less is more.
8. Ghost in the Shell
Honestly, Ghost in the Shell is somewhere between a disappointment and a pleasant surprise. On one hand, all signs pointed to a bad movie from the minute production started. Sanders wasn’t the most appealing director, Johansson’s casting was met with endless controversy, and the screenwriting process was apparently a mess. Despite all of this, Ghost in the Shell was a surprisingly watchable adaptation of the popular anime. On the other hand, this new take on the series is a far cry from the original. It seemed to sacrifice intelligence for stylish action, and it suffered as a result.
Basically, the film is a disappointment that’s better than expected. This is may be an oxymoron, but it’s the best way to describe the movie’s quality. When viewed alongside the original cult classic, Ghost in the Shell is a watered down Hollywood production aimed at a wider audience. It’s hard to blame the team behind the movie considering the general stereotype that mainstream moviegoers can’t appreciate intelligence. On the other hand, just because there’s a reason behind the more streamlined screenplay doesn’t make it any more of a bummer for longtime fans.
Viewed as a standalone sci-fi action movie, Ghost in the Shell is visually dazzling popcorn entertainment. That’s what makes it better than expected. Just because it’s not a disaster doesn’t mean it’s not a disappointment though, especially for fans who have been waiting decades to see a live action adaptation of a brilliant anime. Ghost in the Shell is perfectly fine, but its failure to live up to the source material ultimately earns it a spot on the list.
7. A Cure for Wellness
A Cure for Wellness is visually stunning and frequently ambitious, but the film’s insane length and predictable storytelling make for a mediocre experience. Verbinski has never had problems creating visually appealing movies. Even his biggest flops tend to look pretty impressive. His (in)ability to tell an interesting story is usually the big issue. He’s not incapable of it, but his movies often end up feeling like overstuffed visual effects extravaganzas.
A Cure for Wellness looked promising. Verbinski may have missed his chance to direct a Bioshock movie, but this psychological horror flick looked like the next best thing. With a cast consisting of Dane DeHaan, Celia Imrie, and Jason Isaacs, there was a lot to look forward to prior to the film’s release. Following so many adventure-filled blockbusters, it was great to see this director try something new. Honestly, this is a nice change of pace after Pirates of the Caribbean and The Lone Ranger. Unfortunately, the genre switch-up doesn’t make up for the irritating issues.
A Cure for Wellness has too much going on within its incredibly lengthy runtime. If you’re going to make a 146 minute movie, you need to make sure that each of those minutes are engrossing. Pacing problems and stretches of unnecessary screentime cause A Cure for Wellness to stumble. If they could have made the two and a half hour runtime feel meaningful, that’d be awesome. It’s a shame that so much time is wasted telling a story that never really goes anywhere.
A Cure for Wellness may be a step up from The Lone Ranger, but it’s still not a good movie. It’s a movie with a lot of good ideas, but it’s executed so poorly that it’s hard to give it the benefit of the doubt. There are going to be people who love it. After all, the ambition is easy to appreciate. Many others will have a hard time looking past the flaws. That’s the biggest issue.
6. The Snowman
The Snowman is an abomination, and that’s not even a hyperbole. It’s hard to put into words just how bad this movie is. The dude that brought us Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Let the Right One In somehow directed one of 2017’s biggest disasters. This disaster, starring Oscar nominee Michael Fassbender, is an adaptation of a critically acclaimed Norwegian crime novel. If all of this sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. It’s hard to figure out what exactly went wrong along the way, but this is not the movie it appears to be.
Whenever it seems like things can’t possibly get any worse, another unfortunate issue pops up and reminds viewers that this movie isn’t worth sitting through. Does the script seem too familiar? Well, that’s nothing compared to the bland cinematography. Oh, that’s not enough to make you stop watching? How about the forgettable supporting characters? It’s almost like the cast and crew are trying to get audiences to stop watching. This comes across as some cruel joke made to convince people there’s no hope left in the world, and it’s not funny.
Obviously that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Viewers won’t leave The Snowman feeling hopeless, but they will leave The Snowman feeling irritated. It’s a dreadful waste of time made even more frustrating because of the fact that it has so much potential. It’s at least so bad that it’s not forgettable, but that’s not much of a compliment.