When you are enthralled in the art of entertainment listicles, you need to consider negative topics like bad acting, cavernous plotholes, and disappointing movies. Many movies that come up short in the minds of critics and fans are lodged in the middle of subjectivity and saliency.
Was the movie hyped? Were people looking forward to it? And, when they saw it, did that heighten expectation land with a resounding thud? All those things create the litany of disappointing movies Hollywood has created with a clever marketing plan and a chaotic film.
This is the proprietary “Bang-to-Hype” ratio. The mathematical explanation would be the exact distance from a movie appearing on the screen through a funnel of million-dollar publicity and originating from a hapless and lethargic idea.
- Was the movie surprisingly good without great marketing? That’s not disappointing.
- Was the movie a big “meh” but even the marketing couldn’t convince you otherwise? That’s not disappointing, either.
- Was the movie a fart-and-fall-down moment, even though blogs like this went into a frenzy waiting for it to drop? Now, that’s disappointing.
Sure, there’s subjectivity involved, but this lies at the feet of the studios. We want the movie to work because of anticipation. They think it will work because of something else entirely.
Here are the Top 10 most disappointing movies ever.
The Last Two Indiana Jones Films (2008, 2023)
From 1981-1989, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) was the world’s most famous explorer. A stirring John Williams score, a gripping Steven Spielberg and George Lucas get-together, and some cinematography that would mesmerize the History Channel.
For 19 years, the trilogy was cemented as one of the best ever. Then, in 2008, Indy discovered aliens. Spielberg can’t help himself. He is a brilliant moviemaker, but dude is one colossal nerd. In 2008, Indy returned…tripped, and broke his hip on an alien skull.
Technology brought him back 15 years later, and CGI should have kept him in his tomb. Based on reviews and tickets, no one was dialing for that destiny more than once. And many of those hung up before the call went through.
- Batman and Robin (1997)
What is it about Batman that brings out the best or the worst in people? Joel Schumacher is an accomplished director of some decent films (Flatliners, A Time to Kill, The Phantom of the Opera). But, he also comes from the music video world where he has directed INXS, Lenny Kravitz, The Smashing Pumpkins, and Seal, who earned a Grammy for his Batman Forever work.
Batman and Robin was still wrapped in the Michael Keaton euphoria. Val Kilmer wasn’t bad, but George Clooney as Bruce Wayne and Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze? This was going to be amazing. We just knew it, right?
It turns out DC wasn’t impenetrable as Batman’s kevlar or those dreaded, steel-tipped Batnipples. So, so cringe.
- Any M. Night Shyamalan Film, Post The Sixth Sense
(But Mainly, The Last Airbender in 2010)
How many times are cinephiles and critics going to be sucked in to another M. Night Shyamalan hype machine? Ever since The Sixth Sense, throngs of fans hit theaters hoping for the same stunning magic they experienced when Bruce Willis’ ring rolled under the chair. (Sorry, spoilers.)
There are gigacoasters that have less impact on your stomach and preceding lunch than this guy’s directorial career. He’s genius. He sucks. He’s back. No he’s not. He’s really back this time. No, no, he is really not. He’s probably doing it on purpose. After all, his last film’s big twist is that there was none.
Fitting, isn’t it? (And yes, Airbender should have been the reason Night’s SAG card was pulled. Woof!)
- The Matrix Sequels (2003-2021)
That sound you hear is the massive groans of every fan of this historic film–the first one, not so much the next three. The Matrix changed special effects technology. It was that important to the ethos of sci-fi movies. It’s not only that original, but that damn good.
And then, somewhere on the California turnpike atop an 18-wheeler, everything exploded. All the expectations was shot smooth off as soon as we made it to Zion. And the decaliters of rain in Revolutions couldn’t wash away our tears from these disappointing movies.
From that point of Super Neo flying away free from a vehicular inferno, the fantasy was lost in a fictional, cautionary tale of some rebel without a cause, a source without a plug, and a saga without an ending.
- The Dark Tower (2017)
Two words: Stephen King. The man has millions of loyalists who have tracked every word his twisted little imagination has produced. Among his volumnious library as “All-time greats,” The Dark Tower anthology would be right there — six books, all epic.
So, when that was getting the Hollywood treatment with Idris Elba and Mr. Alright Alright Alright, expectations were as giddy as the Kardashians over the upcoming NBA season.
It was supposed to be the complete 3,000-page journey of the Gunslinger and the Man in Black. All fans got was a clumsy, milquetoast version of “The Good, The Bad, and The What the Hell Was That.” Some still talk about it. King needed a crown on this one. Director Nikolaj Arcel became the court jester.
- The Mummy (2017)
If you don’t think a Tom Cruise film belongs on a list of disappointing movies, think again. You may not a superfan of the OG horror movies, but Universal Studios was gambling Michael Jordan-style on this movie resurrecting a fandom long since gone. Look at that image teeming of star power. Each one cast among the “monsters” in the studio’s “Dark Universe” before The Mummy ever flopped on screen.
It lost $100M at the box office alone. An estimated $450M evaporated on marketing, branding, and development. And the franchise was obliterated on spec. Hell, this photo probably cost $10M (and probably used somehow in the Depp v. Heard divorce case). Jason Blum‘s The Invisible Man may reboot this idea of a reboot, but until then, this was one fresh kick in the @$$ for Universal.
- The Hobbit Trilogy (2012-2014)
Much like being stuck in the center of Middle-Earth without a GPS, that’s how lost this trilogy made fans feel of the beloved and acclaimed The Lord of the Rings trilogy. You would think if bringing in two classic Tolkien characters–Bilbo and Smaug–would heighten expectations. It did, and too bad these flicks let them land with a thunderous splat.
In a normal world, these movies deserve much better.
The same CGI-gasm was there. The bewildering fantasy was too. And if LOTR and its Oscar-crashing party didn’t exist, this series would be set on a shelf for all to see and behold. However, since Peter Jackson owned the world with the first three, the largest shelf The Hobbit trilogy ends upon is the Walmart $4.99 discount area of their entertainment section.
- The Godfather, Part III (1990)
Die-hard fans consider the trilogy a masterpiece, Coppolla’s magnum opus. (It is, by the way.) And even they would say that Part III was “Well, it could have been better.” There was no way this movie would not be made and wouldn’t be financially successful. So, when the movie dropped in theaters with Al Pacino kicking things off, there was no doubt it would be amazing.
It wasn’t. Instead of a triumphant crossing of the finish line, it blew both hamstrings and limped half to the end, where it resoundly puked in a Gatorade bucket. If this film was on its own was good. However, it was the culmination of those two movies–a pair of the greatest achievements in cinema based on storytelling, acting, and gravitas. And then, there was Part III.
Yes, Michael. You pulled us back in. Thank Coppolla, the CODA edit is here.
- Spider-Man 3 (2007)
When Sony shared the news of a part three of Sam Raimi‘s comic creation was hitting the screens, nerd nation went full tilt. Stop us if you’ve heard this before (see No. 4) but the first two movies promised so much, and for some reason, this third one did not fulfill them at all.
The movie was the cinematic example of telling your eight-year-old to clean the friggin’ room and all of it crams in the closet. Then, you open the door and open the floodgates. That was Spider-Man 3.
The runtime was longer than a certain former president’s rap sheet. Three new villains, and none were that great. And the new Emo Peter Parker was more depressing than the monotone music he jammed to in his Sony Walkman. It was Spider-Man, brought to you by Hot Topic, and the topic was “Messy CBMs that Kinda’ Suck.”
- Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace (1999)
It took six years to establish a global nerd frenzy. And then, for 16 years, nothing. Off in hyperdrive somewhere. The very rumor of the man, George Lucas, coming back to where it all began–and taking us all where it all began–was hypnotizing. The marketing was on point. The rumor mill spun off the rails. The expectation was intergalactic. The thought of the signature story crawl was exhiliarting.
Then we met Jar-Jar Binks.
Granted, that floppy-eared oaf wasn’t the only reason this rests near the top of disappointing movies, but it made George Lucas reconsider what he was doing with the prequel series. The vitriol was so overwhelming, it almost caused the actor to take his life. The Phantom Menace was anticipated for a decade, and the world got that turd. Wesa think it needed to besa flushed hard.
- Justice League (2017)
At the top of the most disappointing movies ever, there may be an arm-wrestling match but this bastardized version (yes, the first one) would rip the shoulder out of a socket slamming that hand down so hard. Watching this over reminds any CBM fan–let alone, Zack Snyder acolyte–why this film was so unbearably downletting.
Among the provocative, exacerbating, and voodoo doll-piercing reasons are the following:
- Superman was already dead! Yes, that was part of Zack’s vision in Batman v. Superman, but for fans who saw The Avengers come to life, that was all kind of wrong.
- This movie was filmed in vain and despite personal tragedy. It’s called the Josstice League in memory of the hamhanded butchery from Joss Whedon, director of The Avengers, oddly enough
- Its release was the force-feed culmination equivalent to someone from Hoarders at a buffet on a hot Saturday night. What a rush job in characterization and exploitation (of plot and canon).
- Every CBM-istake in this film set the standard for the suffocating amount of foibles fans would learn to struggle with moving forward
It was this movie that reminded you of what fans lost in BvS. And, if that doesn’t scream “disappointment,” this will — #ReleaseTheSnyderCut. This movie fueled that pioneering movement for four years! And let’s not get started on The Ayer Cut either.
Since he saw ‘Dune’ in the $1 movie theater as a kid, this guy has been a lover of geek culture. It wasn’t until he became a professional copywriter, ghostwriter, and speechwriter that he began to write about it (a lot).
From the gravitas of the Sith, the genius of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, or the gluttony of today’s comic fan, SPW digs intelligent debate about entertainment. He’s also addicted to listicles, storytelling, useless trivia, and the Oxford comma. And, he prefers his puns intended.