We’ve had a number of great films this year and more bad ones than we care to remember.
Some of the great ones were made up of surprise hits; some of the bad ones you just knew were going to be stinkers as you walked in. But then there’s the other group: the disappointments, the films you had built up in your mind only to have your expectations taken way down …or downright trampled on.
Here are ten films from 2016 that should have been great, but simply weren’t…
Two-time Academy Award winner Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain, Life of Pi) using groundbreaking technology to tackle a story about a young soldier’s experience in Iraq? Line up more Oscars, right? Unfortunately, Lee’s ambitious drama – using an unprecedented shooting and projection frame rate of 120 frames per second in 3D at 4K HD resolution – didn’t quite work, presenting a lacklustre dramatic arc with an unnecessary, and often distracting, technical push.
Following X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past, it appeared that 20th Century Fox’s mutant franchise was on a roll. It came as a bit of a surprise then, when Bryan Singer, the man behind the first X-Men film, X2 and Days of Future Past, followed them up with quite the mediocre chapter. An awkward juggling of various characters, a bored Jennifer Lawrence, and a poorly developed villain, among many other issues, left us with a downright disappointing entry.
The first couple of trailers provided confidence in a horror sci-fi pic that could have offered up scares and brains in equal measure. Alas, it wasn’t to be. Despite a solid cast, including The Witch‘s Anya Taylor-Joy, Kate Mara and Paul Giamatti, and the shallow appeal that comes with knowing its directed by Ridley Scott’s son, Morgan felt like an Ex Machina rip-off that failed to capitalise on some interesting ideas.
Okay, so even a meh Coen brothers film isn’t that bad. Still,Â Hail, Caesar! had many excited leading up to its release. Featuring an all-star cast that included George Clooney, Josh Brolin, Tilda Swinton, Scarlett Johansson and Ralph Fiennes, and a plot set in 1950s Hollywood, it’s no wonder expectations for the Oscar winners’ latest was sky high. What we got was a surprisingly dull, occasionally amusing, and ultimately forgettable picture that was far below what we’ve come to expect from the brothers.
Based on a huge best-seller, boasting a strong cast, and tapping into the type of hype afforded to David Fincher’s Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train was looking more and more like a very solid thriller. While it wasn’t an all-out stinker, it was a dreary, episodic affair that did little to build excitement or to pull us into Rachel’s situation. At least we had a great performance from Emily Blunt.
The first of two DC adaptations to hit this list, Batman v Superman boasted a straightforward, sure-win concept. After many, many years, we would finally be seeing a fight between two of DC’s biggest heroes. Fan boys and girls were pinching themselves. Far from the much loved, winning outing many were expecting, BvS dropped to hugely mixed reactions, slaughtered by many critics and cinemagoers. However, there were some fans, including myself.
The Keatonaissance has been underway for the last few years. Michael Keaton has had lead roles in the last two Best Picture winners – Birdman and Spotlight, so awards recognition all round was already being predicted when it was announced the actor would be playing Ray Kroc, the man who worked his way into the McDonald’s business in ’54 and bought it outright around 7 years later. What should have been a fascinating and riveting true-story picture was instead a plain, just-okay drama, happy to sprinkle facts and tick off mainstream pleasantries.
Sexists be damned; the Ghostbusters reboot could have and should have been a winning comedy. Director and co-writer Paul Feig has had a large amount of success with comedies such as Bridesmaids, The Heat and Spy, so having him at the helm of a female-led reboot with Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig as leads did suggest we could be in for a very good time. And then that first trailer dropped, then the second, and there was no stopping it: it was looking bad. Real bad. Sure enough, the film dropped and it was a clear disappointment. Not as funny, or as creative, or as creepy as it should have been, Ghostbusters went through the motions, coasting along the occasional smirk.
Critically speaking, Warner Bros. isn’t having much luck with their DC adaptations, although it’s an entirely different story in the financial department; Suicide Squad, BvS and Man of Steel have raked in a total of $US2.2 billion. Following the reception afforded to BvS, all eyes went to Suicide Squad. Things looked good when that Queen-pumping trailer dropped. It appeared the Worst Heroes Ever were going to be involved in a fun, action-packed outing. It wasn’t to be. A jumpy soundtrack, tacked on humour, throwaway characters and characterisation, and a terrible villain brought us yet another disappointing entry in the DCEU. All eyes are now on Wonder Woman.
Steven Spielberg at the helm of a big-screen adaptation of a beloved Roald Dahl classic. Sure sounds like a formula for success. But wouldn’t you know it, what should’ve been a great family film from the director that brought us such gems as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Jurassic Park, was instead a moderately well reviewed film that not many people watched. In fact, the film’s $US19.6 million US opening and overall worldwide box office draw of $US178.1 million puts it up there with the most unsuccessful Spielberg picture ever. Perhaps it was the lack of a big-name star or the fact that audiences seem to be a little wary of Spielberg’s cinematic sensibilities. Or maybe, just maybe, it was that The BFG simply wasn’t very good.
So, are there any films that you think shouldn’t be in this list? Are there any disappointments you would have inserted? Sound off in the comments section below.