Like every year, 2016 was not without its fair share of sleeper hits and blockbuster juggernauts. Just this past month, we were treated to the first Star Wars standalone film, Rogue One, which shattered expectations at the box office and received very favorable reviews. Unfortunately, for every Rogue One, there were four or five movies in 2016 that didn’t live up to the hype. In a year with an endless amount of sequels, prequels, reboots and brand new franchises, there were a considerable amount of letdowns that didn’t measure up to expectations.
The next 15 films on this list are some of the biggest disappointments of the year. All of these flicks had massive hype surrounding their release, whether it was because of the talent involved (actors, directors, writers, etc.) or the source material that they were based on. Every critic and movie fan was eagerly counting down the days for these movie premieres, but in the end, the result just didn’t live up to the high standards that we had set in our minds. By no means are we saying that these are the worst movies of 2016 — stay tuned for that article — they’re just the ones that squandered the most potential.
Here are the 15 Most Disappointing Movies Of 2016.
15. Jason Bourne
Why We Were Excited: Hollywood loves bringing the beloved movie franchises of yesteryear back to life; just look at what its done for the revitalization of classics like Star Wars, Mad Max and Jurassic Park. This past 2016, Hollywood tried resurrecting another beloved movie series with Jason Bourne, a film which should have filled the gaping hole in the franchise left by the Matt-Damon-less Bourne Legacy. All of the pieces to make a fantastic Bourne film were there. The director of the second and third installments, Paul Greengrass, was finally returning to the series, and better yet, Matt Damon would be reprising the role he first made so popular in 2002. The action-packed trailers and positive buzz were more than enough to finally get fans excited about a Bourne sequel that was worth the wait.
Why We Were Disappointed: Unfortunately, we will have to keep waiting for a worthy successor to The Bourne Ultimatum, a movie that wrapped up our hero’s journey so well that it makes the story in this newest installment seem a tad unnecessary. Greengrass and Damon had both said they wouldn’t return to the franchise unless they found a story worth telling, but the narrative in Jason Bourne ironically has very little to do with Bourne himself. Most of the actors seem to be going through the motions here, and while there is a fantastic car chase in the final act, it just doesn’t have that momentum the original trilogy had. Not to mention that some of the best bits of the trailer were cut out or changed in the final cut — including that brutal knockout punch.
Why We Were Excited: The world has yet to have a truly exceptional movie based on a video game. At this point, the task seems impossible, especially considering the recent reviews for Assassin’s Creed. Earlier this year, many believed that Warcraft had the potential for greatness, if only for the fact that rising talent Duncan Jones was behind the driver’s seat. Responsible for character driven sci-fi movies like Moon and Source Code, it seemed like the up-and-coming director would be the perfect fit to bring the popular MMO game with a massive fanbase and a ton of lore to the big screen.
Why We Were Disappointed: The movie was a critical disappointment in a pretty major way, with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 28% and a Metacritic total of just 32 out of 100. Critics lashed out for the film being too melancholy, while the games never took themselves too seriously. Most complained about the lack of any significant character development, the stilted dialog, and the over-saturation of CGI (though the quality of the latter was praised for the most part). The film absolutely bombed at the U.S. box office, making back just $47 million of its $160 million budget in the domestic market. Impressive international sales raised the worldwide take to over $430 million, but with marketing costs factored in, it’s unlikely this one even broke even. The film’s underwhelming critical and financial reception likely mean that we won’t be returning to this fantasy world anytime soon.
13. The Free State of Jones
Why We Were Excited: The Free State of Jones stars Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey as Newton Knight, a man who leads an armed rebellion against the Confederacy in Jones County during the American Civil War. The synopsis alone makes the film worthy of enormous levels of hype. McConaughey is always a joy to watch on screen, not to mention the fact that the movie was written and directed by Gary Ross, who also gave us the emotionally resonant Seabiscuit and Pleasantville. Judging from the trailers, it seemed that we were going to get an action-packed and drama-filled Civil War movie reminiscent of films like The Patriot and Glory.
Why We Were Disappointed: For a movie about an armed rebellion in the midst of the Civil War, The Free State of Jones comes across as surprisingly boring. A film with this kind of premise should have been exciting, dramatic, and moving, but sadly, the Civil War biopic feels more tedious than it needed to be, with long-winded funeral and war speeches taking up time that should have been devoted to fights and battle sequences. The movie comes off as far too educational, and audiences are left wondering why they should even care about any the folks on screen. The acting across the board is good, especially McConaughey, but it isn’t enough to save the lethargic pacing. Like most films on this list, The Free State of Jones isn’t a terrible movie, but it is one that couldn’t rise above its drab limitations.
12. Knight of Cups
Why We Were Excited: Terrance Malick is the kind of auteur filmmaker that only makes a movie once in a blue moon. Along the few films he’s responsible for are 1998’s The Thin Red Line (a sweeping and brutally realistic depiction of the conflict at Guadalcanal during World War II) as well as the cerebral Tree of Life, which split critics right down the middle with its philosophical narrative. His resume may not be perfect, but Knight of Cups seemed to be a sure-fire hit, with actors like Christian Bale and Kate Blanchett and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (Birdman, The Revenant) on board.
Why We Were Disappointed: Though there are some lovely visuals throughout the film, Knight of Cups is bogged down by a narrative that just doesn’t seem to go anywhere. Granted, most of Malick’s films are about a spiritual journey told through unconventional cinematic means, but his latest effort is far too self-indulgent to invoke any sort of involvement from the viewer. The whole production feels rather sterile, with not even Lubezki’s usually cinematography being able to breathe some life into the project. Though we respect filmmakers that like to take risks, Malick’s vision here is just too tedious and redundant to live up to its potential.
11. Collateral Beauty
Why We Were Excited: Just look at the cast. Will Smith, Edward Norton, Kate Winslet, Michael Peña, Helen Mirren; the list goes on and on. How could we not get excited for this movie? Arriving just in time for the holidays, Collateral Beauty opened in theaters this past week and looked to become the next It’s a Wonderful Life. The cast alone should have put this flick on any cinephile’s list of must-see movies, and it doesn’t hurt to have an experienced director like David Frankel at the helm.
Why We Were Disappointed: Our high hopes were shattered when critics complained that Collateral Beauty was nothing more than sappy, sentimental Oscar-bait. The fantastical drama was heavily criticized for following all-too-familiar beats to win over the audience’s sympathy, scoring an abysmal rating of just 23 on Metacritic. Despite the A-list talent behind the production, the movie is choppy and disjointed, with far too much emphasis put on the already preposterous plot. Though it has some convincing performances, Collateral Beauty isn’t nearly as good as it should be for the cast involved, who honestly all deserve better.
10. The Boss
Why We Were Excited: Melissa McCarthy is certainly one of the best comedic talents working in showbiz today. Love her or hate her, you can’t deny that one of the newest Ghostbusters has been tearing it up at the box office the past few years with hits like Bridesmaids, The Heat and Spy. Playing an obnoxious industry titan who is caught insider trading, McCarthy’s role in The Boss seemed like the perfect vehicle to let her talents shine, especially with her real-life husband, Ben Falcone, behind the camera as director.
Why We Were Disappointed: Every comedian has their fair share of misses, and The Boss is certainly a miss for McCarthy. Though her humor is usually cheeky and light, the tone here comes off as vehemently mean-spirited. There is a ton of smut in The Boss, but filthy language alone does not make a funny movie. Other problems stem from the paper-thin characterizations and the jarring shifts in tone that go from family friendly to outright raunchy. We understand that McCarthy has a set brand of humor, but her character in The Boss is one that audiences have seen many times before, and we know that this comedic powerhouse is capable of better.
Why We Were Excited: Based on the 2013 novel of the same name by Dan Brown, Inferno is the third adaptation of the book series from director Ron Howard. The previous two entries, The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, both received positive reviews and picked up a noticeable cult following, so it would only make sense that the third entry in the franchise — with Tom Hanks returning and Felicity Jones as a new addition — would be just as good.
Why We Were Disappointed: Even with all its talent, Inferno turned out to be a disjointed narrative with Hanks going on yet another treasure hunt. For one of the biggest fastest rising talents around, Felicity Jones isn’t given much to do here except aimlessly run around with Hanks and blurt out the occasional piece of exposition. More time should have been spent on crafting a more complex script, which is bafflingly simple in scope compared to its two predecessors. It’s not that this movie is horrifically bad; it just fails to take anything resembling a risk, resulting in a production we’ve already seen a hundred times before. Inferno is mostly a disappointment for Ron Howard fans, Dan Brown fans, Tom Hanks fans, and just fans of cinema in general.
8. Zoolander 2
Why We Were Excited: Though not an immediate hit, Ben Stiller’s first jab at the fashion industry, Zoolander, picked up an enormous cult following when released on home video. An unapologetic laugh riot from beginning to end, Zoolander might be one of the most quotable movies of the past 20 years (What is this, a center for ants?). Stars Stiller and Owen Wilson played two buffoonish male models trying to uncover a decades-old fashion conspiracy, and the pair crafted a comedy classic for the ages. When Stiller announced last year that he would be making a sequel, with almost all of the cast returning, we were pumped to see Derek Zoolander walk down the catwalk once more.
Why We Were Disappointed: Sadly, Stiller might have waited too long to walk the runway in Zoolander 2. It took 15 years to make the long-belated sequel, and it shows. It tries too hard to stay contemporary while neglecting to provide enough solid laugh-out-loud moments. The movie is an uninspired mishmash of recycled jokes from the first installment and an endless supply of cameos (ranging from Billy Zane to Benedict Cumberbatch) that teeters on the ridiculous. Everything in this uninspired follow-up appears as if you’ve seen it before, and you most likely have. Though the returning cast of A-listers is definitely a plus, Zoolander 2 proves that there’s more to making a good sequel than being really, really, ridiculously good looking.
Why We Were Excited: A sci-fi movie about two passengers stranded on a spaceship starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence? Sign us up! Passengers looked to be the sci-fi film of the year, with a rousing trailer that prompted questions of why Pratt and Lawrence are the only two people aboard a spaceship to wake up 90 years early. That mystery and the impressive visuals were more than enough to wet our appetite, not to mention the fact that director Morten Tyldum was coming off of some Oscar momentum with 2014’s The Imitation Game.
Why We Were Disappointed: It’s a hard lesson to swallow, but the fact of the matter is that trailers have become well-known for misrepresenting the movies they’re supposedly teasing. Unwilling (or unable) to wrestle with the complex questions at its base, Passengers only has a handful of interesting scenes, while the rest of the film comes across as unconvincing and forgettable. What should have been a philosophical mind-bender turned out to be a by-the-numbers romance story that comes across as more than a little creepy. We know for a fact that both actors are capable of being better than this, as is Tyldum, who at least provides some excellent visuals in a movie lacking a compelling narrative.
6. X-Men: Apocalypse
Why We Were Excited: In X-Men: Apocalypse‘s defense, it had a lot to live up to. 2014’s Days of Future Past is often considered one of the best films in the X-Men movie franchise, and one of the finest comic book films of the modern era. It combined first-rate special effects with a smart script and stellar cast to make an inventive and richly detailed summer blockbuster. It even set the table for the next adventure, providing the premise for the next sequel with a post-credits tease of Marvel big bad Apocalypse. Reuniting director Bryan Singer (who brought us the very first X-Men installment) with Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, and the new addition of Oscar Isaac portraying the god-like mutant Apocalypse, our expectations couldn’t have been higher.
Why We Were Disappointed: After the highs of First Class and Days of Future Past, X-Men Apocalypse is about as mixed as bags can possibly get. It’s definitely not a terrible movie, and certainly not as bad as some critics made it out to be, but it does come across as exceptionally bland. It features only one particularly memorable action scene (thanks yet again to Quicksilver), while the third act crumbles under the weight of CGI overkill. We would have liked to have seen some more time devoted to fleshing out the characters, especially Isaac’s Apocalypse, who makes his decision to exterminate the entire human race on a whim by absorbing information through a television set.
5. Bad Santa 2
Why We Were Excited: Nothing quite says ‘Christmas’ like a suicidal, drunken mall Santa. That’s the kind of holiday cheer featured in 2003’s Bad Santa, a Christmas flick which proved just how raunchy and depraved an X-mas movie can really get. Not a breakout commercial success, it became a cult hit later down the road thanks to its offbeat brand of black humor, fantastic one-liners, and Billy Bob Thornton’s brilliant portrayal of a drunken mall Santa who moonlights as a safe-cracker. Just in time for Christmas, a much-belated sequel was released earlier this month. And with Billy Bob returning to put the Santa suit on once more, our holiday spirits couldn’t have been higher.
Why We Were Disappointed: Unfortunately, Bad Santa 2 wasn’t really what we were hoping for this Christmas. The movie oftentimes feels strained, with many of the jokes falling flat on their face — mostly because we already saw them in the first installment. That might have something to do with the fact that the first movie’s director (Terry Zwigoff) and writers (Glenn Ficarra and John Requa) are all missing from the sequel. Their absence is noticeable, and not even the new addition of Kathy Bates as Willie’s convict mother is able to give the movie the kick in its bright red pantsuit it so desperately needs.
4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
Why We Were Excited: All things considered, we know that the first TMNT released in 2014 wasn’t very good to begin with. But that’s exactly why we had hopes that Out of the Shadows would be a vast improvement. With Transformers mastermind Michael Bay returning to produce the project, we thought we would at least get some cool looking action scenes and set pieces. Though the first outing received its fair share of complaints – lack of humor, bland CGI, and poor characterizations – this second installment looked like producer Bay and director Dave Green would finally deliver an onscreen representation of the crime-fighting turtles that fans could embrace.
Why We Were Disappointed: Unfortunately, Out of the Shadows still suffers from a lot of the same problems its predecessor does. It sacrifices coherent storytelling for overindulgent CGI extravaganzas, with most characters given little to nothing to do. Most audiences agreed that this sequel wasn’t nearly as fun as it could have been, and attempts to ground the franchise in a “dark and gritty” reality just don’t quite click here. Overall, the movie would have benefited from not being afraid to just be fun while trimming off some of its rather long 112-minute run time.
3. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
Why We Were Excited: It’s the superhero matchup that DC and movie fans have been waiting decades to see on the big screen. Superman and Batman were finally going to be in a live-action movie together, and the hype couldn’t have been higher. Although the internet nearly broke itself in two with the announcement of certain casting choices (Ben Affleck as the Caped Crusader in particular), a lineup including the likes of Amy Adams, Lawrence Fishburne, and Jeremy Irons had movie fans ready to burst at the seams. The trailers featured rousing action, epic fight sequences, intriguing dialogue, and enough comic book references to easily make Batman v. Superman one of the most anticipated films in recent memory.
Why We Were Disappointed: Snyder certainly delivered on the hair-raising super-brawl between the film’s two titans – it’s just a shame that it only took up ten minutes of the movie. The rest of the near three-hour epic is devoted to so many subplots that it can make your head spin. Of course, there are moments that are simply awe-inspiring (like the Batman warehouse fight) but there are also aspects that let us down (like that very confusing performance by Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor). The Ultimate Cut of BvS certainly fixes some of the problems like character motivations — and we’ll concede that it’s one of those films that improves with every viewing — but judging from the theatrical release in theaters, the highly anticipated DC super-showdown was a super-disappointment for most.
2. Suicide Squad
Why We Were Excited: Of all the summer blockbusters this year, Suicide Squad seemed to have the most positive buzz going for it. The rambunctious and high-spirited trailers featuring “Bohemian Rhapsody” from Queen seemed to confirm that the DCEU would finally be offering a palette cleanser after the dark and brooding Batman v. Superman and Man of Steel. With Will Smith as Deadshot, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, and a competent filmmaker like David Ayer behind the steering wheel, Suicide Squad had the potential to be this year’s Guardians of the Galaxy.
Why We Were Disappointed: Far from the disaster that critics made it out to be, we would be lying to ourselves if we didn’t consider Suicide Squad to be disappointing to some degree. Ayer’s film about the DC antiheroes would have benefitted from scaling the story way back, while opening up more space for the characters to be fleshed out. The constant shifts in tone and sporadic editing are also noticeable, and while the movie is certainly entertaining, it doesn’t quite soar to the heights it could have. We’re still not sure if Suicide Squad will be given a sequel to patch these problems up, but the upcoming Gotham City Sirens will hopefully learn from DC’s past big screen misfires.
1. Independence Day: Resurgence
Why We Were Excited: The original Independence Day may not be the greatest movie ever made, but it is a damn good piece of popcorn entertainment. From the moment Will Smith punches an alien and “welcomes” them to Earth, to the climax of Randy Quaid sacrificing himself to take down an alien spaceship, Roland Emmerich’s sci-fi extravaganza is a blast from start to finish. It holds a special place in the hearts of those who caught it in theaters in 1996, and after 20 long years, a sequel was finally announced, with Emmerich set to return to the director’s chair. And even though Will Smith had declined to participate in the reunion (choosing instead to play Deadshot in Suicide Squad), we have to say that the inclusion of original cast members Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman, plus that fantastic trailer featuring the rousing speech from the first installment, had us up in arms ready to flock to the theaters.
Why We Were Disappointed: But how disappointed were we when Resurgence turned out to be a hollowed out version of what we loved so much from the 1996 original. Like a lot of big-budgeted Hollywood letdowns, Resurgence tries so desperately to set up a continuing franchise that it forgets to be a great standalone movie. The original, while campy, is still fun because of its charismatic and instantly likable characters, something that the sequel is severely lacking in. Even the usually charming Jeff Goldblum seems to be off his game here.
Independence Day: Resurgence claims our top spot for this list because it goes from such extreme highs in its predecessor to such extreme lows. The absence of Will Smith is definitely felt here, with the new cast not possessing an inkling of charm compared to the original heroes. For its budget, its cast, its direction, and the fact that it took two decades to make, Independence Day: Resurgence gets our vote for the most disappointing film of 2016.
Which 2016 film were you most let down by? Let us know in the comments.