6. Don’t Worry Darling
Let’s get one thing out of the way; Don’t Worry Darling is not a trainwreck. People have had a blast tearing it to shreds, but it doesn’t deserve this level of outright malice. At the same time, this is a list about disappointing movies, and although Don’t Worry Darling isn’t a failure, it’s hardly as good as it could have been. It’s an entertaining spin on the Stepford Wives formula that unfortunately doesn’t have enough of its own ideas.
The lack of original ideas is probably the most valid criticism. Don’t Worry Darling borrows liberally from so many better works, and although it tries to differentiate itself in some ways, it just doesn’t do enough. It may have a shiny new coat of paint, but it’s still undeniably familiar.
On top of that, it largely fails to say anything new about gender roles. It wants to be a provocative head-scratcher, but it winds up being a surface-level examination of ideas that have already been beaten to death. Although these themes should absolutely be addressed, they need to be handled carefully to truly resonate with viewers.
Again, disappointing doesn’t mean unwatchable. Pugh is incredible as always, and there are some really fun moments, but Don’t Worry Darling just can’t escape the shadow of so many better movies. Fans of the genre will likely find some merit, but this is nevertheless a disappointing second feature from a director who clearly has a lot of talent.
Alex Garland has been unstoppable since the release of Ex Machina, his directorial debut. His follow-up, Annihilation, was released to rave reviews, while his work on the television show Devs also earned him plenty of praise. In less than a decade, Garland has made a sizable name for himself, but unfortunately, his latest film doesn’t quite reach the same heights.
Men is ambitious to a fault. It’s a heady slice of folk horror that leans heavily into abstract symbolism, but at the same time, it’s a tired retread of previous feminist talking points. Its arthouse ideas are amusing to analyze, but they’re never as complex as they initially appear. The audience knows exactly what Men is trying to say, even if it tries to hide these messages behind experimental storytelling.
The imagery can be mesmerizing, but the actual narrative is a slog. While there is certainly an audience for this movie, it’s far easier to criticize compared to Garland’s past works. It’s too inconsistent and too flashy compared to something like Ex Machina. To make matters worse, it’s just not entertaining enough.
8. Black Adam
Black Adam is almost offensively safe. Considering the overabundance of superhero movies released yearly, audiences shouldn’t have to settle for copy-and-paste time-wasters. When there are filmmakers willing to turn the genre on its head, it feels insulting to have to sit through something that’s almost completely devoid of personality. This is one small step above an AI-generated superhero movie, and that’s about it.
Perhaps we should have seen this coming. After all, none of the promotional materials really made it seem like a fresh take on the genre. Still, recent DC flicks have mostly been strong, and Shazam proved to be a massive critical success. Ultimately, this initially allowed for cautious optimism.
Sadly, it just isn’t interesting enough. It’s not the worst DCEU movie, but it might be the most forgettable. Stylish action scenes can only do so much for a movie, and sadly, they don’t make up for a sloppily thrown together story. By the time the credits roll, you’re left with a crude assortment of CGI-heavy fight scenes featuring largely forgettable characters.
Aside from a couple notable misses, Pixar has always been known for pushing boundaries. Just last year, they released a mature, timely coming-of-age story about a Chinese-Canadian teenager who learns to accept the changes brought on by adolescence. They also, unfortunately, released a generic sci-fi origin story that’s loosely connected to their flagship franchise.
Lightyear is certainly a miss. It’s not the worst family movie you’ll ever see, but it’s lacking a distinct identity. This would be okay if the studio wasn’t responsible for some of the greatest animated movies ever released. However, when you put Lightyear next to movies like Wall-E, Inside Out, and of course, the entire Toy Story franchise, you’re bound to feel like something is missing.
In a lot of ways, it’s reminiscent of an average MCU movie. You’ll find quippy one-liners, flashy action sequences, and colorful visuals, but you won’t find anything fresh. There will always be people who defend movies like this because they’re aimed at kids, and while this should provide plenty of entertainment for energetic young children, it’s still uninteresting next to the genre’s heavier hitters.
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, for example, has a similarly simple narrative, but it does enough with that narrative to make a lasting impression. Lightyear feels designed to sell tickets, and because of this, it lacks the heart of so many better movies. It’s not something that has to be avoided, but nobody is going to grab for it during a Pixar marathon.
10. Halloween Ends
David Gordon Green’s rebooted Halloween trilogy has been, for lack of a better word, interesting. The first entry successfully revitalized the franchise even if it didn’t totally avoid slasher tropes. Meanwhile, Halloween Kills felt like an uneventful stopgap leading to the grand finale. Now that the grand finale has finally arrived, it’s hard to figure out if there was ever a plan at all.
It’s hard to talk about Halloween Ends without giving away key plot points. Readers who are particularly concerned about spoilers may want to stop reading now, but an effort will be made to avoid any major reveals. Just understand that, given the script’s unconventional choices, it’s going to be hard to keep everything completely under wraps.
Halloween Ends is essentially two passable slasher movies haphazardly glued together. One half features Michael Myers in all of his iconic glory, while the other half is something a little more unique. The decision to include both of these plot points ultimately ends up alienating viewers.
Fans who want a concrete conclusion to Green’s trilogy end up with a random grab-bag of ideas, while people looking for something more unique still have to deal with the same clichés that have always been present in the series. There are logical explanations for some of these narrative choices, but it doesn’t wind up being an interesting watch. While there are certainly interesting themes, it’s hard to care when the final product is so unfocused and messy.