We are continuing our look back at what the cinema offered us in 2015. Yesterday, we focused on the most surprising films of last year and today we are looking at the inverse: the films of 2015 that most disappointed the mxdwn staff. Expectations can be a funny film as can the Hollywood hype machine and several of the films below may have fallen victim to either. Many of the films mentioned below aren’t bad necessarily (many of them we quite liked even if a few significant titles caused some division among the mxdwn team) but perhaps left us all wanting a little more. Take a gander.
AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON
This movie was not bad; it was actually really good. But on the heels of massive and critically acclaimed first Avengers film, it didn’t reach the levels expected. Possibly bogged down by all the connections it needed to make (Civil War, Infinity Stone, Ant-Man, Black Panther, etc.), it’s not hard to see why Joss Whedon refused to return for the next film and abruptly quit Twitter in the aftermath of release. The backlash of the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) character and the way it was written was overblown, and the movie simply disappointed.
In the past, Michael Mann has released some of the greatest suspense thrillers to grace the genre, so it is not surprising that most would expect something similar for his latest release starring Chris Hemsworth. A confusing plot and unsatisfying final act hinder the movie from being a crowd-pleaser. Also, a lack of imagination and an abandonment of themes resulted in a film that says nearly nothing about its subject matter.
The film had potential but then things changed quickly with poor dialogue, acting, and silly romantic tryst; I am one who could do without a love story or any romantic adds in a movie.
THE DANISH GIRL
Read our review.
Beautifully filmed and featuring compassionate performances from Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl is a noble and refined take on the true story of 1920s trans pioneer Lili Elbe. Yet Tom Hooper’s period drama is perhaps a little too respectful in approach and darn near negligent at attempting to fill out the interior lives of the characters so passionately portrayed by his lead actors. (Must Lili turn boy crazy while transiting; did wife Gerda need to be saddled as doting protector?) On one hand it’s easy to forgive some of the faults of The Danish Girl– the film was in development for some time and no one really could have foreseen the trans culture shift in the past year (Caitlyn Jenner, Transparent, etc.) or that a joyful game-changer of an indie like Tangerine (featuring refreshing, take-no-prisoners performances from real trans performers) would leave such a cinematic imprint. Then again, giving too much leeway on a “well-intentioned” movie doesn’t really do anyone any good; I wished the film was as messy, spirited and progressive as the real people it profiled. The Danish Girl has beauty in spades but left me emotionally dry.
Read our review.
It’s one of my least favorite Pixar films. I have a difficult time enjoying a film when you have a secondary lead who is so grating that it gives you high anxiety.
The main reason why Inside Out was the biggest disappointment for me was due to the incredible quality of Pixar films (ignoring Cars 2). Every single Pixar film since their debut has been incredibly moving and absolutely original in their own way. I expected to see the same in Inside Out, which I unfortunately did not find. I was not able to connect with any of the characters, and while (spoiler alert) Bing Bong’s death was sad and the conclusion poignant, I did not find the same emotional depth that is present in other Pixar movies. I thought that the narrative was fun and different, but whitewashed a lot of important things about emotions, made it seem like our emotions are uncontrollable and that we are subject to tiny people inside our heads making decisions for us. It gets rid of accountability, which sends the wrong message. Overall, I just thought the script should have gone in a different creative direction, which would have helped Inside Out join the ranks of the other Pixar films.
I was disappointed with the writing and animation and found the film to be boring and the “emotion” characters lackluster.
Unfortunately, David O. Russell’s movie did not live up to its early hype. The film feels slight and disappointing. Jennifer Lawrence continues to prove her mettle and does a remarkable job holding the audience’s attention despite fairly undistinguished lines.
Jurassic World was an expensive-looking horror-thrill ride with none of the subtlety or fun of the original Jurassic Park. Steven Spielberg’s original 1993 film is considered a classic adventure with unforgettable characters and Jurassic World was merely a shameless attempt to cash in on the franchise that relied on by failed to properly pay homage.
A lot has and will continue to be written about how 2015 was the year in which old franchises were new again. More often than not they worked out for the better with The Force Awakens, Creed, and Mad Max. Despite breaking box office records when released during the summer, Jurassic World felt like a bad cover of an original. Like the original, the events brought the family together in a much less believable way, it had the swashbuckling character in Owen (Chris Pratt) that felt like a poor combination of Dr. Alan Grant and Dr. Ian Malcolm but Y’know, was kinda sexist. He led a rather exciting cast placed in a hodgepodge of storylines. The worst part of the film is that it doesn’t feel directed with any confidence from Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed). There will certainly be future installments in the franchise but there’s no telling what they will be or if they will be worth following.
Ridley Scott’s The Martian seems like it is Oscar-bound for several top categories and a slew of technical ones. I see the majesty in the filmmaking but was left so uninterested by the story. Over the course of this 130-minute film, we are supposed to feel a sense of tension if Matt Damon’s character will make it back to Earth. None of that suspense or tension transitioned from the screen to me and The Martian simply felt like an elaborate game of wait-and-see.
With Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine coming to its inevitable end, it seems that the Aussie actor is looking for a new franchise to pay for his gym membership. Unfortunately, it was this missed opportune Indiana Jones/Peter Pan hybrid.
Read our discussion.
A disappointing movie is different from a bad movie. A disappointing movie can even be good – just not good enough to live up to admittedly overly high expectations. For this year, there are two main contenders: Avengers: Age of Ultron and Spectre. While Avengers had its problems, all of the issues I had with it seemed even greater in Spectre. We finally get James Bond’s greatest villain back after half a century in a rights dispute and we end up with this? It’s a movie that’s simultaneously under and over plotted, way too long, bulked up with many unnecessary sojourns (did we really need Monica Belluci’s character?), and full of horrible callbacks and missed attempts at humor. In the end, it all felt pointless and a step back after Casino Royale and Skyfall. A mixing of modern Bond and old Bond that never quite gelled – not to mention the ridiculous decision to make Blofeld the adopted half-brother of our hero. I know some campiness should be expected in the Bond franchise, but come on. That’s the laziest screenwriting trick in the book.
-Brett Harrison Davinger
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bad film by any measure (hell, it’s got one of the best pre-credit sequences in a Bond film), but it’s not as good as I was expecting. Part of the problem is how it ham-fistedly tries to retroactively tie itself to the previous Daniel Craig films. Another issue is the way it ties the main villain’s backstory to Bond’s (it essentially amounts to “you broke my favorite toy, now I must take over the world”). But probably the biggest misstep was the casting of an actress who looks half Craig’s age as the love of Bond’s life. And then there’s the Sam Smith-sung theme song. I know he’s famous right now, but this didn’t need to happen; yes, I’ve heard the Radiohead version and it’s not very good either.
Read our discussion.
Not a bad movie, but it’s biggest crime is having a stellar cast (Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Jeff Daniels, et al.), director (Danny Boyle), writer (Aaron Sorkin) and one of the most timely pieces of applause line subject matter and it just falls flat. Approached with the incredible dialog Sorkin is famous for but ultimately structured in an odd way that doesn’t allow for natural flow.
Read our review.
Terminator: Genysis was promised as the film that was going to bring the Terminator franchise back on track. But instead of revitalizing the series, Genysis merely proved how tired these films really are. Its script was equal parts convoluted and lazy, its big twist was nonsensical and ruined by trailers, and the new cast was more annoying than invigorating. Slapped with a diluted PG-13 rating, Terminator: Genysis felt like a cash grab that tried to fill itself with enough winks and nods to earlier better films in hopes that the audience might forget that the last really good Terminator movie came out almost 25 years ago.
Agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comments.
Also be sure to check in all week for continued Best of 2015 coverage. Previously covered: