Continuing my annual year end barrage of LISTS, I hereby present the most disappointing films of 2015. These are not the movies that are merely bad. Not the Paranormal Activities, the Green Infernos, the Adam Sandler films, or the Ride Alongs. Those films are easy targets. These are the films that should have been great but were instead massive failures. Bad movies like the ones listed above don’t linger in the brain for too long. But the films listed below? They’ll piss me off forever.
First of all, I should make it clear that I have no great love for the Bond franchise. In fact, I didn’t actually like a single Bond film until Casino Royale came along in 2006. Loved that film, hated Quantum of Solace, and thought Skyfall was one of the best films of 2012. Can’t say the same for Spectre. It’s not nearly as idiotic or dull as Quantum and it’s not bad exactly, but is a big disappointment. I didn’t expect Sam Mendes and his team of writers to be able to top Skyfall but I at least expected them to keep pushing the series in the right direction. Alas, that was not to be. Spectre wound up being one of the most conflicted films of the year, suffering from a devastating case of “have its cake and eat it too.” You can’t give us Dave Bautista as a hulking, mute Jaws for the modern era, an evil super secret base hidden in the dessert, a backstory between Bond and Blofeld straight out of a telenovela and then expect us to want to listen your half-assed ‘topical’ critique of government surveillance. Strange thing is though, they kinda pulled off that balancing act in Skyfall. So what went wrong here? Well, I think the main issue is that we cared about every character in Skyfall while everyone in Spectre just looked tired. Only Bautista seemed to be having fun. Daniel Craig sleepwalked his way through the movie, he and Lea Seydoux had less chemistry than a garbage man and a piece of roadkill, Andrew Scott was reduced to a one note sniveling turd, and Christoph Waltz did the ‘Christoph Waltz’ thing and called it a day. There were inventive action sequences and set pieces but no life behind any of them. If Craig comes back for a fifth film, someone needs to give him a shot of adrenaline.
UGH. Since horror is my home genre, this is by far the most personally disappointing film of the year. It squandered a great, creepy premise on cheap tricks, jump scares, the most obvious twist EVER, and an extremely unpleasant ending that left a very bad taste in my mouth. Listen, I have ZERO problem with violence, gore, or depravity when it’s there for a reason. When it’s just there to shock the audience though, I want to hurl things at the screen. Inexplicably, a lot of mainstream critics gave this festering turd a favorable review, which was why I was so excited to see it. This confirms my long held suspicion that critics like anything if it’s in a foreign language. If this had been produced by Jason Blum, directed by Eli Roth, and featured Rose Byrne as the lead it would have been ripped to fucking shreds.
Touted as a ‘return to form’–whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean–for Johnny Depp, Black Mass turned out to be nothing more than another overacted, underwhelming, would-be gangster epic. It made zero attempt at all to get into the mindset of Whitey Bulger and bafflingly chose to portray him as some ghoulish vampire. Depp’s make-up looked absurd and while he wasn’t terrible in the film, he wasn’t anything to write home about either. The rest of the talented cast, including Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jesse Plemons, Rory Cochrane, and Peter Sarsgaard, spent the entire film competing to see who could do the best ‘tough guy’ impression. It was sickening, self-aggrandizing, and tiresome. Beyond that, director Scott Cooper failed to understand that we need someone to either root for or be fascinated by in order to enjoy a gangster epic. I’m not saying every protagonist of a mob film has to be a Henry Hill or Michael Corleone. Paul Bettany played an unrepentant monster in Paul McGuigan’s underrated Gangster No. 1 and the film still worked because the character was interesting. Here, all the characters were just annoying, posturing dickheads.
I don’t think anyone expected Jurassic World to be a great movie but I was at least hoping it would be better than The Lost World or Jurassic Park 3. Instead, it was the worst kind of sequel, cashing in on name recognition to do nothing new or exciting and expecting you to like it because, “hey look there are the cars from the first movie! And that guy’s got a shirt with the old logo! And hey, hear the music? Oh man, remember how cool all this was over 20 years ago?” Then there was the fact that the CGI creations of this film looked far less convincing than the creatures Steven Spielberg cooked up in the original. There was absolutely no awe to anything. Sure, they haphazardly tried to acknowledge that by creating the IRex or whatever stupid name they gave it but all that did was illustrate that this franchise has run its course. If you have to create hybrid dinosaurs and have Vincent D’Nofrio run around trying to train Raptors to become terrorist hunters to make your world interesting again, you’ve got serious problems. Also, I love Chris Pratt but goddamn was he grating here. It was the first time I despised his whole schtick. Audiences didn’t seem to agree with me though so I guess I’ll be saving a spot on this list for when Jurassic Universe: Attack of the Space Raptors comes out.
WOW. I’ve never seen a movie quite like this one. I understand I’m cheating a bit cuz I don’t think many people had high hopes for Cameron Crowe’s latest film (especially the people who produced it) but I know there were a few, like me, who at least wanted him to finally make a good movie again. He didn’t. He made a movie so stunningly awful it makes Elizabethtown look good. Aloha is perhaps the most confused movie I’ve ever seen, with so many conflicting ideas and narrative threads I wonder how the hell he pitched this. “It’s a modern Casablanca crossed with a typical romantic comedy but it’s also a scathing indictment of the military industrial complex and a celebration of Hawaiian mysticism. Oh, and Emma Stone will play an Asian fighter pilot!” How this got greenlit is a question I will ask myself until the day I die. It’s not a movie you watch so much as one that you stare at in a state of utter perplexity. And the odd thing is this: it’s a very well intentioned movie. There’s not a whole lot to actually get angry about, beyond Emma Stone’s casting and character. Not only is the role white washed but she is also the absolute worst example of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. You barely have time to notice that though since the rest of the movie is so damn baffling. It’s the cinematic equivalent of walking down the street and coming across a homeless man shitting rainbows: it’s weird, off-putting, smelly, headache inducing, and absurd but also clearly not meant to hurt anybody. Best thing to do is just forget you ever saw it and keep on walking.