This will probably be difficult to believe for some of you, but we walk into every movie hoping it will be the best movie. We may criticize a trailer or point out early concerns, but once we sit down and the movie starts digitally unspooling before our eyes our hope every single time is to experience something fantastic. When a film succeeds on that front we shout it from the highest virtual rooftops, but that isn’t always the outcome.
The pure flip-side of this of course are the movies we leave absolutely despising. Usually the films in this group aren’t exactly surprises – think Blended, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Sex Tape, Hercules – and while we hoped for better we ended up with pretty much what we expected.
But sometimes the movies we expected more from end up being major disappointments too. A quick poll of the staff revealed a pretty varied list of films fitting this description, some of which are viewed as unqualified successes by the rest of us. Keep reading to see ten of the movies that left us unsatisfied, underwhelmed and ultimately disappointed.
22 Jump Street
Sony Pictures Releasing
Comedy sequels are hard to make. Jokes are just less funny the more times you hear them, so how do you make a movie whose premise is similar enough to a comedic original for it to make sense as a sequel, but different enough that it doesn’t feel like it’s just reheating the same old material? Most filmmakers who make comedy sequels can’t crack the code, but it stood to reason that if anyone was going to be able to, it would be Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who had just made the year’s best comedy (The Lego Movie) completely out of toy tie-ins. More promising, their 21 Jump Street was the surprise of 2012 even though it was a remake of a corny TV series from the late ’80s. These guys are wizards. Unfortunately, they failed at making a comedy sequel funny though. 22 Jump Street gets a little mileage out of some meta commentary about how it’s just coming back to callously make money off of the same setup, which is good for a laugh or two, but it doesn’t change the fact that the film is still just a re-do of the first, only even more ridiculous because the stars are even older than they were then. If Lord, Miller, Jonah Hill, and Channing Tatum wanted to get back together to make something new, I’m sure we’d all be thrilled to watch, but please, no more Jump Street. – Nathan Adams
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Sony Pictures Releasing
Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man wasn’t the best possible start to a new Spider-Man franchise. It had script problems – serious ones. But what it also had was a teenage romance at its heart that worked well, largely thanks to the casting of Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone in the Peter and Gwen Stacy roles. They were perfect, and it seemed reasonable to hope that they could serve as a solid foundation for a superior sequel, one that Webb would presumably be putting together with less studio interference and more time to plan. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is not that movie. If anything, it compounds the script issues of the first, and it buries the Peter and Gwen Stacy relationship under a mound of focus on villain characters who are the lamest, dorkiest, most embarrassing bad guys we’ve seen in a superhero movie since the dark days of the early 2000s. Rhino, Electro, some quasi version of the Green Goblin… each one introduced is worse than the last. By the time the end credits of this one rolled, we were looking at a dead franchise walking – and then they announced about a million more sequels. Ugh. – Nathan Adams
Yeah, I’m “that guy” who didn’t think Boyhood was the greatest film of the summer. Yes, it’s a daring and interesting concept, watching young actors grow up on screen before your very eyes over the course of a single film. (Of course, didn’t we kind of already watch that happen with the Harry Potter kids over the last decade?) In this respect, I applaud Richard Linklater for taking on the challenge. I just wish he had a better story. Unfortunately, we’re left with a cast of unlikable characters, as well as an underdeveloped main character for the first two-thirds of the film. It’s a brilliant concept and execution wrapped up in a typical Linklater banter film featuring characters that act like jerks and a rehash of old archetypes from Slacker and Dazed and Confused to the Before trilogy. If you’re like me, and you don’t like the characters from those films, Boyhood is a depressing way to spend your afternoon. – Kevin Carr
Deliver Us From Evil
I love horror movies, and even though possession or devil-type ones aren’t my favorite in the genre I have a soft spot for the ones that mix police work with the supernatural including Fallen, The Exorcist III and Maniac Cop. Yeah, that’s right, I said Maniac Cop. Sadly though, director Scott Derrickson’s take on the supernatural procedural just falls limply to ground early on and never recovers. It’s a shame too as he has a sharp eye for horror – the first 90 minutes or so of Sinister are fantastically creepy and engaging – but this film fails as both a cop thriller and a supernatural horror movie. The cops are continually making dumb decisions, whether it be only investigating locations at night or repeatedly choosing to knife fight a possessed guy instead of just shooting the bastard, and when the lead is attacked by a wanted fugitive who subsequently escapes, why the hell does he carry on as if nothing happened instead of calling for back-up to catch the guy? The horror elements are equally weak thanks to a repetitive cycle of going somewhere at night, having all their lights flicker and then “boo!” something creepy. Wash, rinse, repeat. And maybe it’s just me, but the priest’s argument – one we’re supposed to find dramatic and thought provoking – that the good in the world is proof of God’s existent is insulting and idiotic. – Rob Hunter
Every year sees a handful of films that seem to catch the collective eye of critics nationwide resulting in blanket praise, but while I agree with many of them I’m occasionally unwilling to board that same love train. The Tree of Life, Enemy and Beasts of the Southern Wild come immediately to mind, and to that list I now add Richard Ayoade’s second feature. The parable is clear as a timid man faces off against the more confident and aggressive version of himself, but there’s little here to justify an entire film. Terry Gilliam’s Brazil drops its hapless hero into a similarly absurdist world, but it does so with heavy dollops of humanity and heart. Here it’s just dry comedy and endless frustration involving characters who feel artificial and “written” instead of alive. – Rob Hunter
The Fault in our Stars
20th Century Fox
A little manipulative, a little cheesy, and all too cloying, The Fault in Our Stars sadly left me cold. It’s one of those movies that keeps saying how charming its characters are, but rarely is any of that charm ever felt. It’s difficult to really care for characters who make out in Anne Frank’s attic. Not only do they start kissing, but the people there begin to cheer! It’s a ham-fisted scene topped off by an unbelievable turn, and it’s the low point of an already messy film. – Jack Giroux
From the hiring of a filmmaker who made a name for himself with a slow-burn and politically conscious monster movie to an advertising campaign that used J. Robert Oppenheimer and Gyorgy Ligeti as its establishers of mood, we were promised that this new Godzilla would be miles away from Roland Emmerich’s Puff Daddy-accompanied silly-fest, replaced by something that matches in spirit the frank timeliness of the monster’s atomic postwar origins. It was not without significant irony that Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla is the most Roland Emmerich-y summer blockbuster since Independence Day, except without that film’s popcorn charm. A film afraid to be insightful or fun, trenchant or a dazzling summer distraction, Godzilla personified exactly what is so uninspiring about current summer blockbusters by showing the potential to destroy expectations, but ultimately content to be a big, middling mess. – Landon Palmer
Magic in the Moonlight
Sony Pictures Classics
Woody Allen’s latest comedy is the worst kind of Allen film in that it’s terribly mediocre. When Allen misses the mark the result is usually at least somewhat memorable, but that’s sadly not the case here. Magic in the Moonlight is consistently underwhelming and features a romance that lacks any spark whatsoever. Colin Firth earns a few laughs, but Emma Stone is miscast, making the romance fall even flatter. Her modern presence doesn’t quite fit Allen’s world – or any of the other period pieces she’s been in, for that matter. – Jack Giroux
A new movie from the director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and the star of Amelie seems like a concoction tailor-made for me – the only thing it’s missing is a Japanese schoolgirl with a thirst for vengeance and a machine gun for an arm – but even with a pedigree I adore the film left me cold and utterly uninterested in anything it had to offer. It’s a love story with a life-threatening illness at its center, but I felt absolutely nothing for the characters. I know, I’m a heartless animal, but the immediate dive into full-on, non-stop surreal action and visuals leaves no room for honest emotion or legitimate charm. His sadness and ridiculous efforts to cure her via their descent (ascent?) into imagination would be more impactful if they came after a grounded beginning in the real world. As it stands, I honestly would have been fine with all of them dying. – Rob Hunter
Okay, hear me out before stoning me in the comments section, and remember that the presence of Bong Joon-ho’s latest film here in no way means I’m calling it a bad movie. I like it, I do, but goddamn I should have loved it. Bong’s previous three films are nothing less than brilliant, but while this one features some solid action, strong production design and Chris Evans’ harrowing baby speech the whole thing just feels a bit half-baked. The ending is ridiculous, and the script often feels content with little more than repeatedly hitting metaphorical messages on the head, but the biggest issue here is the train itself. Specifically, the train’s moronic design clearly done with visuals in mind instead of anything resembling logic or common sense. Because seriously, why is the party car the last one before the engine? And why aren’t there dedicated pathways for all that constant foot traffic – perhaps elevated against a wall – to avoid everyone constantly interrupting the classroom, kitchen and other “working” cars. And where are the people who are just… being people? We see a single sleeping car clearly not designed to hold the hundreds of passengers and then specifically-purposed cars for singular concepts, but no car of just people being people. – Rob Hunter
Other films that disappointed some of us this summer include: Korengal, Lucy, Maleficent, A Million Ways to Die in the West, They Came Together, Willow Creek