Anghus Houvouras on the biggest disappointments of 2016…
By all accounts, 2016 was a pretty disappointing year. It will go down in history as one of the most despised spans of time in human history. There was so much negativity. So much raw hatred and ignorance. Feuding sides that seemed to revel in the other’s misery. Millions of grown, supposedly mature adults slinging mud and trying to eradicate the other side with raw anger and disinformation.
And that was just the Batman v Superman debate.
Yes, 2016 sucked a bag of hammers. Every celebrity you had any affinity for died this year, as well as any sliver of hope you had for the future of humanity. Each year I like to purge myself of all the negative disappointments still lingering around in the hollowed out cavity of burned out brain cells I call ‘my mind’. Let’s look at the most disappointing moments in TV and Film for 2016.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice & Suicide Squad
As I wrote recently, high expectations are the fuel that feeds the fire of crushing disappointment. For years we’ve waited for Warner Bros. to get off their ass and get some decent DC Shared Universe movies into theaters. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was supposed to usher in the DC Extended Universe and provide us an awesome movie world of some of the most iconic characters of all time. And what better way to start it out than pitting the two most popular DC heroes against one another in a battle for the ages. What could possibly go wrong? Other than Warner Bros. left about half a billion dollars in ticket sales on the table by delivering a joyless, humorless mess of a major motion picture.
I liked the film (the Extended Cut anyway) and I can still willingly admit how disappointing the finished product was. Zack Snyder delivered a tone-deaf Dune-sized spectacle that lacked humanity, a strong story, and a lick of sense. For those of us who love fascinating monstrosities, it was practically pornographic. But for the average ticket buying consumer, this was a disappointment that had few rivals.
Suicide Squad was supposed to be the calming shot of morphine after the mortal wound of Batman v Superman. Fans were waiting for a more grounded, darker story featuring a team of villains setting out to save the world. Unfortunately it was even messier than Batman v Superman with writing and plotting so hackneyed that it made Akiva Goldsman cringe.
Independence Day: Resurgence
I don’t even have the words. The original is a movie I unabashedly love in spite of its glaring, button pushing flaws. I was hoping this film would be at least half as fun as the original. It couldn’t even muster that meager feat. The second Independence Day movie was supposed to a launch the franchise into the 21st century. Unfortunately, the only thing it was capable of launching was bile into my stomach. Quite possibly the worst movie I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen Yoga Hosers.
Your Favorite Franchise
Unless owned by Disney, your favorite film franchise took a shellacking this year. Franchises disappointed across the board, both creatively and financially. Zoolander 2, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, Inferno, the aforementioned Independence Day: Resurgence, Allegiant, Now You See Me 2, Ghostbusters, Star Trek Beyond, Jason Bourne…
Actually, now that I think about it, even Disney wasn’t impervious to the franchise malaise that swept the nation in 2016. I’m looking at you ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass‘.
Hollywood continues to invest in known properties because up until 2016, they seemed like a safe bet. Now that these ‘safe bets’ are turning out to be anything but, will Hollywood be forced to, GASP, look to produce more original blockbusters?
Once the biggest star in the world & sexiest man alive. Now, the answer to the question ‘Who do you want to see least in a blockbuster movie?’ I was watching Fantastic Beasts, and the end reveal that Johnny Depp would be playing the villain had the audience groaning in pained indifference. “Why would they do that?” declared one particularly irked fan. Well, there are those who believe he still has star power and a deep reservoir of talent. I’m guessing those people didn’t take the time to watch Yoga Hosers. Speaking of.
The once indie darling has careened his career into a crevice so deep it may not be recoverable. Yoga Hosers wasn’t just bad: it was like watching a movie made by someone who had never actually seen a movie before. Kevin Smith’s last few movies have been so bad, I’m convinced he’s making movies based on a dare.
There’s no other explanation for something as terrible as Yoga Hosers. Smith tried to defend himself by saying “I make movies for me.” I have no problem believing that, because there’s no way in hell Yoga Hosers was made for normal human beings with any sense of taste.
It’s incredibly immature for fans to expect their filmmakers to never change or evolve into something different. People age, perspectives change, but Smith continues to devolve with each subsequent film. The guy who made Clerks and Chasing Amy feels broken in a way that makes my grungy 90’s inner child a little sad.
When all was said and done, I liked Stranger Things. It was an entertaining piece of highly derivative television. However, after all the immediate hype surrounding the show, I was disappointed to see a story so mired in reference and nostalgia that most of it felt borrowed. The Duffer Brothers delivered a show that might as well have been called “Hey, Remember Being a Geek in the 80’s” I totally do. I was a geek in the 1980’s, so I enjoyed all the references and influence, but it stopped feeling novel about three episodes in and began to feel like someone strip mining my subconscious. I’ve started to worry that homage is becoming more important than a good story. I was also puzzled with all the accolades for Winona Ryder who seemed to screech her way through every scene. Not a bad show by any stretch, but hardly a work of pure genius that so many were pushing.
Here’s another one that falls into the ‘What the hell are people thinking?’ I’ve been hearing about Amy Adams’ performance as being ‘Oscar Worthy’ for Nocturnal Animals all year. After seeing the film, I’m still trying to figure out ‘why?’. Adams meanders from one scene to the next with a glassy, expressionless gaze. She takes off her glasses and stares off camera. She shows a limited range that moves from ‘bemused’ to ‘resigned’. The same thing holds true for her performance in Arrival, another movie that was hugely hyped but felt emotionally vacant. I’ve seen a dozen critics ask “Which Adams performance will get the best actress nomination?”, but I can’t figure out why either are worthy of praise.
As for Arrival, Hollywood seems interested in toned down, ‘grounded’ versions of sci-fi spectacles. Arrival is a smart, minimalist approach to the first contact scenario. And while it was well staged it lacked a soul. Even the third act reveal was underwhelming. It should have been a crushing blow. The kind of sad, tragic human choice that evokes real emotion. For example, the ending of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: learning that everything you love is ultimately doomed but choosing to do it anyway. Arrival’s version of this is so cold… so emotionless, that I found myself disappointed by the missed opportunity.
Roadies and Vinyl
There were two terrible shows about music this year. Both of them had some real talent behind them. Vinyl had Martin Scorsese & Mick Jagger producing one of the most grating, terribly conceived TV shows ever to hit the air. It was almost worth suffering through each episode to watch Bobby Cannavale chew scenery like a coked up termite. Roadies, on the other hand, had almost zero redeeming qualities. A show that followed the drama around a backstage crew of concert roadies, Cameron Crowe’s attempt at re-bottling the lightning of Almost Famous was so corny that the Government began offering subsidies to limit production. Both shows suffered from trying to merge the real music world with fictional bands making for a strange alternative music reality that never felt genuine.
No Man’s Sky
A game that may very well challenge E.T. on the Atari 2600 as the worst game of all time. All promise, no premise, and a game that will now forever be the answer to the question “Why don’t you pre-order games anymore”. A cautionary tale for the video game industry.
What were your big disappointments of the year? Let us know in the comments below…