Scott Menzel’s picks the 15 most disappointing films of 2015
As I continue to look back at the year 2015 in film, I decided to write up and also do a video of 15 films that left me disappointed in 2015. Just like my overrated list, I am not saying that all these films are bad but instead just met me down. There are a few films on this list though that are really bad. Again, this list is my opinion and I realize that many will not agree with my choices but please feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comment box below.
- Z for Zachariah
One of the most talked about films playing at Sundance 2015 was Z for Zachariah. Directed by Craig Zobel and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Chris Pine, and Margot Robbie, Z for Zachariah is an indie version of a post apocalyptic world where only these three people have survived along with a dog. The film drags along as these actors give it their all but the ho-hum story just isn’t nearly as interesting as I expected. In fact, most of the film ends up becoming this weird love triangle that if it weren’t for these three great actors, the film would probably be unbearable to sit through. Also, if you ever get a chance to meet Craig Zobel make sure you ask him what happened to the dog suddenly in this film. His answer will more than likely leave you flabbergasted.
- The Gallows
I understand that the vast majority of mainstream horror films nowadays are beyond disappointing. However, a few times a year a few horror films come out that manage to have a great concept and impress me. Looking back at 2015, I really enjoyed Unfriended, It Follows, and Krampus. With that being said, out of all the horror films that I wanted to see in 2015, I was most excited about The Gallows due to the intriguing marketing campaign and the concept that revolved around a high school play. The problem with the film is besides the idea being unique, the film relied on shaky cam and cheap jump scares. The story wasn’t good either and there were no real scares to be had. I think the biggest crime of all is that it wasn’t even entertaining. I don’t need a horror film to always make me squirm in my seat but at least keep be invested in the story. The Gallows was just plain bad and incredibly lazy filmmaking.
I have to admit that I love Despicable Me and really enjoyed Despicable Me 2. When I first heard about the Minions Movie, I was nervous because I wasn’t quite sure if the Minions as characters could hold an entire film on their own but I figured regardless of that it would still be great fun. Minions was definitely one of those films that I wasn’t sold on the marketing campaign but instead decided to believe in the studio and the minds of those telling the story. My problem with Minions isn’t the Minions themselves but rather the lackluster and lame villains in the film. Despicable Me 1 & 2 had Gru and the three little girls while Minions had Scarlet and Herb Overkill who were nothing short of dull and annoying characters. I blame these two characters for why the film wasn’t as memorable or amusing as the first two films. They brought nothing to the table leaving the Minions with their silly antics to sell the film.
- The Age of Adaline
Great marketing campaign = average film. There is a great story being told here and some of the performances work but sadly, Blake Lively in the starring role wasn’t the perfect choice. This is one of those rare times when I could easily see Jennifer Lawrence in this film and making it a much better film. I think Blake Lively is a beautiful woman but she isn’t a very strong actress. I am not saying she’s awful but she doesn’t quite have the acting range as so many other young actresses working today. With that being said, she really is the heart and soul of this film and because her emotional range wasn’t as powerful as I would have liked, this film wasn’t nearly as engaging or romantic as I would have hoped it would have been. I think it was still a decent film but not one that will stand out and be remembered a year from now sadly. Again, the concept and marketing sold me but Lively walking through certain scenes in this film really made it had to love and connect with at times.
I love me some Johnny Depp. I love me some comedy. I love slapstick and silly spoof humor when done right. I know people hated Mortdecai but really don’t understand why. Is it the year’s best comedy? No, not even close. However, it was entertaining and funny at times. So now, I bet you’re wondering, if I am saying I liked it, why is it on this list? The truth is I had really high hopes for this film and even though I enjoyed elements of it, I was still underwhelmed overall. Johnny Depp is such a gifted actor who can play comedic roles and dramatic roles. He can play straight-laced characters or bizarre over the top ones. I thought he was funny as Mortdecai and his scenes with Jock (Paul Bettany) were the film’s highlights. The problem for me is that the jokes were few and far between given the bloated 107-minute runtime. This is a film where I thought a lot of the actors were underused and the jokes were really hit or miss. I wasn’t really bored by this film but just expected more from almost everyone and everything. I was really hoping that it would get the sequels that were originally planned but given how much people hated this film and how badly it tanked, I doubt that will ever happen. Also, I have no idea how this film got an R-rating. It definitely should have been PG-13. Oh, well.
The latest James Bond entry had big shoes to fill considering how much everyone including myself loved Skyfall. I think when it comes to a James Bond film, it is really hard to know what to expect from it since throughout the history of the character, the films have ranged from great to pretty bad. Spectre falls somewhere in the middle in my opinion. Deep down, I knew I should never have gone into Spectre expecting Skyfall 2.0 but with Sam Mendes, Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, and Léa Seydoux, how could I not expect greatness? You already know where this is going. I liked Spectre in spots but overall I was letdown by the end result. I love some of the long action sequences. I still like Craig as Bond. I loved the opening. I just didn’t care for or buy the Léa Seydoux character and felt like it was incredibly forced. I also have to admit that the build-up in this film was really drawn out and unsurprising. I mean there was no shock when Waltz was revealed as the villain in the film despite almost an hour of build up. I still think Spectre was entertaining and enjoyable enough but will not be one of the James Bond films that I would recommend to someone who is checking out the character for the first time.
- The Good Dinosaur
The Lion King retold with dinosaurs. After seeing Inside Out earlier in 2015, I was so pumped for the Good Dinosaur. I love dinosaurs and I love Pixar so it was a win-win in my eyes. My disappointment for the film stems from the blatant laziness of the storytelling. This film feels just like a newer version of the Lion King with a splash of Land Before Time mixed in. Normally, this wouldn’t bug me as much but considering it’s Pixar and it’s a film about dinosaurs, I was really annoyed that it would not stand the test of time. I did, however, think Arlo and Spot were great characters and loved the journey they went on. The film had some really beautiful and touching moments especially moments between Arlo and Spot when they just looked at each other and the score came up crafting two of the most memorable and powerful moments in the entire film. The secondary characters in the Good Dinosaur were very lame and felt very out of place. I was bothered by the fact that director, Peter Sohn, decided to make a lot of dinosaurs sound like they were from down south. I found it beyond distracting.
Roland Emmerich is such an interesting director that tries to dabble in just about every genre. I heard a lot of people bitching and moaning about Stonewall prior to seeing it at its World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Before even seeing the film, everyone was saying that Emmerich “Whitewashed” this story. After seeing the film, I can admit that while it does have some “whitewashing” in it, that isn’t the film’s biggest problem. There are many reasons why Stonewall doesn’t work and it isn’t about the color of the actors skin. However, if you are going to pick a white guy in a lead role about a really important event in history that involves people of all different ethnic backgrounds, please pick someone who isn’t a whiny little bitch like Jeremy Irvine was. The other issues about this film include that the supporting characters that were of different ethnic backgrounds didn’t get nearly as much screen-time as they deserved and what little screen time they did have was spent dealing with more trivial subjects rather than important ones. The one other thing that really bothered me about Stonewall was the fact that everyone’s performance was so over-the-top and exaggerated. It was like Emmerich decided to tell the cast to act like Will from Will and Grace rather than actual real people. I was so disappointed with this film mainly because I loved Anonymous and was really interested in learning about the Stonewall riots from this filmmaker. Sadly, this film didn’t do the event or the people part of the moment justice at all.
- Black Mass
I am surprised as you are that there are two Johnny Depp movies on my disappointing list. I really wanted to love Black Mass and while I think Johnny Depp and Joel Edgerton are incredible in this film and give Oscar caliber performances, there is just something about this film that was missing. I will point out right now that this is without a doubt a really good film, but I still felt disappointed with it by the time the film came to a close. The film is missing something and I don’t know exactly what it is. Several We Live Film staff members agree with me. They wanted this to be one of the best films of 2015 but it sadly, doesn’t make the cut and its not because of the performances but rather something with the story and the lack of emotional investment to it. If I had to guess, there have been so many gangster films made over the years that showcase powerhouse performances but have some sort of emotional punch that Black Mass lacked. There are some really great moments within the film such as a scene between Depp and Dakota Johnson as well as the film’s dinner table scene but between these great moments is a rather bland story that lacks something.
- Rock the Kasbah
Poor Bill Murray. Ashley and I were so pumped to see Rock the Kasbah after Bill Murray walked into Hall H pretending to be Richie Lanz. As for the film itself, disappointing is the perfect world to sum up my feelings towards it. With Barry Levinson directing the film and Bill Murray, Zooey Deschannel, and Bruce Willis starring, you would expect at least something that was fun and entertaining. Instead, Rock the Kasbah is a big jumbled mess. There are multiple storylines going on here and only one is particularly interesting but somehow manages to only get tossed into the mix about 2/3 of the way into the film. Deschannel is wasted and is probably in the film for about 15 minutes at the most. Bruce Willis seems like he just showed up to collect a paycheck and poor Bill Murray is just yelling and mumbling trying so hard to come off as funny. The saddest thing about this film is that one storyline about an afghan girl who loves to sing but can’t due to how her country treats women. This was such a fascinating story yet the film didn’t bother to focus on it.
- Paper Towns
Nat Wolff and Cara Delevingne have great chemistry in what was one of my most anticipated films of 2015. My disappointment for this film comes from the fact that it isn’t nearly as interesting or amusing as I imagined. I loved The Fault in Our Stars and expected that kind of movie magic to be recreated with Paper Towns, just without the whole cancer element. The film unfortunately just drags along and isn’t really all that interesting. I expected more from a film with a marketing campaign that suggested one should be exploring life and take chances. The journey that Nat Wolff’s character and his friends embark on isn’t really that special plus it takes way too much time to build to what I would ultimately label as a comp-out “real world” ending.
With so many talented actors involved and a talented director behind the camera, Aloha is clearly one of 2015s most disappointing films. In fact, Aloha is pretty lucky that there were so many other bad movies released in 2015 otherwise it would have made my worst of 2015 list. I don’t even know where to begin with this one because I was so excited to see it and barely managed to stay awake by the time the film came to a close. I guess I can start by saying that Aloha is just blah all around, in fact, I think it should have been retitled Aloblah. The performances are all ok but none of the actors really have any chemistry with one another. There is some sort of story going on about nuclear weapons that is haphazardly thrown into whatever other story is being told and to be perfectly honest nothing really happens throughout film. Cameron Crowe has without a doubt lost the magic especially when he somehow convinced Bradley Cooper, Rachel McAdams, Emma Stone, John Krasinski, Alec Baldwin, and Bill Murray to be part of something that feels so empty and hollow.
Chappie is not real gangster #1. In fact, Chappie is one of the most disappointing and worst films of 2015. I cannot begin to tell you how excited I was for this film because it looked like it was going to be a modern day retelling of Short Circuit with Neill Blomkamp directing. I was expecting an intriguing story paired with a great cast that includes Dev Patel and Hugh Jackman. What I got was a lazy and disjointed waste of a film. By casting Yo-Landi Visser and Ninja in Chappie, Blomkamp really did quite a disservice to the story by not having real actors playing key and important roles. Watching these two musical artists try to act was just painful to watch and their performances, if you want to call them that, were so over the top. What made matters worse is how sloppy the storytelling here is and how bad and Hugh Jackman and his mullet are in the film. I don’t understand how Sony allowed for a project that had so much potential to turn out this bad. Even, the character of Chappie was annoying after he kept talking like a gangster for the entire second half of the film.
- Jurassic World
The more I think about Jurassic World, the more I dislike it. I loved Jurassic Park growing up and still love it today. Jurassic Park is one of my favorite films and I am sad to say that Jurassic World is not a good revamp of this franchise. While the dinosaurs look amazing and are still badass, everything else about this film sucks. The multiple storylines stink. The acting stinks. The villain is one of the worst film villains to come out of Hollywood in the last 5 years. I just don’t understand why someone can’t recapture the original. It seems so simple. It had humor but it wasn’t trying so damn hard to be funny like this one was. The characters in this film ranged from being incredibly annoying to hammy. I love Chris Pratt and think Brice Dallas Howard is a solid actress but neither one really sold me on their performance in this film. I think the bigger disappointment comes from the fact that Colin Trevorrow directed this film and I loved Safety Not Guaranteed so damn much. I can only hope that Jurassic World 2 has better characters even though I have no clue where the story could possibly go next.
What do Walt Disney Pictures, Brad Bird, and George Clooney all have in common? They were all part of my most anticipated film of 2015 that very quickly became my most disappointing film of 2015. I was beyond excited to see Tomorrowland. The trailers looked amazing, the cast was solid, and Brad Bird is normally one of the best directors working today. However, Tomorrowland was an extreme letdown. I wanted something unique, different, and mind-blowing but what I got was something that was an extremely disjointed CGI mess with one of the most laziest and groan-inducing endings of the year. What makes this so disappointing despite the marketing, cast, studio, and direction is that there are actual elements of Tomorrowland that lead you to believe that there is a good film in there somewhere. You can feel at certain points in this film that it really has something great to say but just doesn’t know how to say it. What the final product becomes is nothing special nor memorable. It was one of the biggest misfires for Disney this year and now with Star Wars: The Force Awakens it doesn’t really matter but still I wanted this to be great. This is hands down my biggest disappointment of 2015 by far.
Here is my MovieManMenzel Monday video where I discuss the above mentioned films if you prefer to watch rather than read.