The past year was a weird one for movies. Many of the movies that were expected to be great ended up disappointing fans and critics, and underperformed at the box office. At the same time, some movies that had no real expectations turned out to be pretty decent. Of course, 2016 provided its share of reboots, remakes, and sequels – a lot of which proved to be unnecessary. And some movies were so bad that they ended up alienating fans and ruining entire franchises. As 2016 draws to a close, we look at the 10 most disappointing movies of the past year. We’re not saying these movies didn’t make money – most of them made a lot of box office bucks. But from the perspective of good writing, interesting character development, and plain old great story telling, these ten flicks were duds.
We’re not slagging this reboot of the classic 1984 movie because it has an all-female cast. We believe that the cast of the reboot could have worked out just fine, had they actually been given a funny script. No, our problems with the Ghostbusters reboot was a weak script and lack of humour. It was always going to be hard — Melissa McCarthy is a fine comedic actress, but she’s no Bill Murray in the laughs department. After much hype and online debate concerning the female cast, this movie came and went in theaters with a collective shrug. Most critics agreed that the actresses in the movie were good, but the movie just didn’t contain enough laughs or excitement. There was also the question of why remake a beloved movie that is still played regularly on TV every Halloween? Regardless, the Ghostbusters reboot grossed $227.6 million at the box office. Despite the cha-ching, plans for a sequel have reportedly been shelved.
9. The Legend of Tarzan
Every generation gets a Tarzan movie of some sort, it seems. Generation X had 1984’s Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan starring Christopher Lambert, while Millennials had the 1999 Disney animated Tarzan, that featured a soundtrack by Phil Collins. This year, we got the CGI heavy Legend of Tarzan, which is largely a remake of the aforementioned Lambert movie. Starring Alexander Skarsgård and Margot Robbie, this movie disappointed everyone who saw it – fans and critics. It currently has a 36% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The main criticism is the bad special effects, which never seem to convince the audience that the movie is actually taking place in a jungle. Plus, the acting is pretty terrible too. Still, this movie grossed more than $350 million at the global box office, meaning we could see more of Tarzan in the future.
8. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Let’s be honest, it was a tough year for the DC Comics cinematic universe. And not many movies this in 2016 were more hyped, and ended up being more disappointing, than Batman v Superman. While Ben Affleck did an admirable job of playing Bruce Wayne/Batman, this movie suffered from the same issues that plague many poorly received superhero movies – it was overstuffed with too many characters and subplots, and was basically used to set-up an even bigger movie – next year’s Justice League. Plus, there’s the issue of Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Lex Luther, which was pretty awful. Critics savaged this movie, as did comic book fans. And while this flick still grossed nearly $900 million at the box office, expectations were that it would cross the $1 billion mark – making it a disappointment all around. Not that this critical failure will stop DC from making more Batman movies, though.
7. X-Men: Apocalypse
In contrast to DC, the Marvel Cinematic Universe had a strong year with movies such as Dr. Strange and Captain America: Civil War living up to the hype and energizing fans. It’s too bad that the X-Men franchise is still stuck with 20th Century Fox, however. X-Men: Apocalypse is the ninth film to feature the mutant superheroes known as the X-Men, but it ended up being way too muddled, even for diehard fans of the franchise. The whole past/future crossover thing jumped the shark with this entry. The trailers for X-Men: Apocalypse looked great, but the plot was complete gibberish.
At this point in the X-Men universe, there’s been a lot of time travel and many of the characters have younger doubles, and the actors playing the main characters seem to be constantly changing. The whole thing is very, very complicated. With a 48% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this was one of the worst reviewed X-Men movies. Of course, the movie still made $543.5 million at the box office, but that’s much less than X-Men: Days of Future Past did just two years earlier. Now Fox is talking about rebooting the franchise altogether, with new actors and a fresh storyline that doesn’t connect to any of the previous films.
6. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
Some things are best left in the shadows, including this movie. As is the case with many franchises, fans of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have put up with a lot over the years. The 2014 live action/CGI Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot surprised many critics and industry analysts by being half-way decent and becoming a genuine hit, grossing nearly $500 million. This gave fans of the pizza loving Turtles hope that a sequel would follow and also be worth their time and money. Sadly though, this year’s sequel — Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows — was a resounding letdown. This time out, the Turtles battled not just Shredder, but also Bebop and Rocksteady. Sounds cool, but the result on film was a big yawn. Fans have seen this stuff way too many times before for it to still be interesting. This sequel grossed less than half of the first one, but still pulled in a tidy a profit. The actors involved each signed on for three movies, so it’s quite possible we’re all going to do this again in 2018. Stay tuned.
5. Independence Day: Resurgence
The question surrounding this long-awaited sequel to the 1996 box office juggernaut Independence Day was simple: Can you make a sequel 20 years after the original and still get people to pay attention? The answer is “not really.” Had a sequel to Independence Day hit theaters sometime around 1999, it would likely have been a massive hit. But 20 years is a lifetime in Hollywood. We’re talking different generations of moviegoers. Further hobbling this sequel was Will Smith’s refusal to reprise his role. Sure, other actors such as Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Brent Spiner, and Judd Hirsch returned for this summer’s sequel, but they don’t bring the same overwhelming star power that Smith does. It also didn’t help that critics complained that the plot – which involved another invasion from hostile aliens – felt like nothing more than a rehash of the original movie. In the end, this sequel grossed $387.6 million worldwide. That’s less than half the business the original did back in 1996. Don’t expect the third movie they teased at the end of this one.
4. Now You See Me 2
Now You See Me was a pleasant surprise back in 2013. The movie about illusionists who pull off criminal heists and are pursued by the FBI was a surprise hit worldwide. Naturally, a sequel seemed like a good idea. That is until Now You See Me 2 hit theaters this past summer. Little more than a retread of the original, and with Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe cast as the villain, Now You See Me 2 was a big disappointment. Critics panned the movie and it grossed less than half the original at the box office. It’s biggest feat was disappearing from theaters quickly.
3. Suicide Squad
Another blow to DC Comics this past year was the Suicide Squad movie. When the trailer for this film hit the internet early in the year, it looked like DC might finally have a decent movie on their hands after the critical disasters of Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. Jared Leto even looked great as the Joker, and seemed poised to give Heath Ledger a run for his money in the acting department. By all accounts, the trailers made this look like a dark and exciting flick. It turned out the trailer was the highlight of the entire Suicide Squad experience. The actual movie was boring, confusing, and ultimately pointless. Also, most of Leto’s Joker scenes were cut from the finished film (huge mistake) and his appearance felt like a cameo. It’s possible they’ll fix some of the bugs in the upcoming Harley Quinn spinoff movie (or the upcoming Ben Affleck written and directed Batman movie) but those will probably have issues too. This movie was a box office hit, however, grossing more than $750 million. DC’s movie making reputation hasn’t improved any in 2016, but their bank accounts won’t care what you think.
2. Zoolander 2
Another long delayed sequel that seemed to have no reason to exist was Zoolander 2. The surprise here is that the original Zoolander was not well received or a big hit at the box office when it was released in 2001. So why make a sequel 15 years later? Was actor/director Ben Stiller simply was out of ideas? That certainly seemed to be the case with the lame plot of this film. While the original cast, including Will Ferrell, returned for this sequel, none of them could pull laughs from the lame script and pointless dialogue. Besides, the whole idea behind Derek Zoolander is like a punchline to a joke you’ve heard a thousand times already. Male fashion models are dumb and self-centered. We get it. How original. B-O-R-I-N-G!
The award for the most disappointing movie of 2016 goes to the debacle that was Warcraft. To be fair, there aren’t a lot of good movies based on video games. But this year’s movie, based on the popular Warcraft series of games, was particularly gruesome. Which is sad, because this flick seemed to have a lot going for it when Duncan Jones signed on as the director. Jones (the son of David Bowie) made a name for himself by directing 2009’s Moon and 2011’s Source Code, but he’d never dealt with a movie of this size and scope before. It’s clear that he lost control of the finished picture.
“Trying to make a movie like Warcraft, and trying to do it in a unique way, you get killed by a death of 1,000 cuts,” Jones said months after the movie was savaged by critics and gamers worldwide. “Not just editing cuts. It’s little changes that seem really innocuous… One of the absolute frustrations of making a movie of this scale is that it is impossible to make a movie like this as an independent filmmaker. You have to find a way to squeeze it through the studio bureaucracies.”
The awful and over-used CGI didn’t help much either. Having grossed less than $50 million in the U.S. (although it made much, much more overseas), this movie was a colossal failure all around.