The Films of 2020 That Disappointed Me

So yesterday I talked about the films that surprised me in a good way… today’s the other list. The ones that I had some hopes for that just did not meet them. Not that I necessarily disliked them, but they just felt like they didn’t achieve what I was hoping they’d achieve, to varying degrees of disappointment. I’ll specify just how each of the films disappointed me, but in each one’s own way, it disappointed me. Again, I’ll specify that the list is only based on my own personal opinions, before you get all butt hurt about me putting something on here (hence the word “Me” in the title).

Here are the films that disappointed me most in 2020:

1. Antebellum

I’m gonna try real hard not to speak too negatively about these movies. Because it’s not that I’m saying they’re bad, I’m just saying that my expectations for them were higher than my actual feelings of them. That’s all this is. And this one in particular — this is one where the trailers started coming out in January/February. I seem to remember one dropping either during the Super Bowl or during the games right before the Super Bowl. This was a big deal movie. Janelle Monae, selling it off the success of Get Out, promising some sort of Twilight Zone narrative — even with my pessimistic ass assuming I wouldn’t like it as much as everyone else, even I had to go, “Well, this has to be kind of solid.” And yet… no surprises in this at all. Kind of a mess, kind of a one-trick pony in that there really is no surprise in it. It’s just kind of… Get Out but with people reenacting slavery. And so all the build up for this amounted to just an ‘ehh’ kind of movie. And the worst part is, you could see the better version of this movie just waiting to be done, and they just… didn’t go there. So that sucks.

2. Bloodshot

I’m disappointed in this based on the trailer. They ruined the entire fucking movie in the trailer. Not that it’s that great a movie even without them having done that, but they certainly didn’t do themselves any favors. And since it is in the trailer (and I doubt anyone’s just waiting to watch a comic book movie with Vin Diesel, so spare me your ‘don’t spoil it for me!’ nonsense): the first, I don’t know, act of this movie is Vin Diesel, a special forces guy who hunts down bad people watching a bad guy kidnap and murder his family. And so then he spends his time hunting that dude down and fucking murdering him. So it’s a standard, generic-type action plot. And then he murders the guy within like, 20-25 minutes of the movie happening, even though it goes through the real progression like these movies would. It’s not like, sped up or anything. And so he does it and then that’s when the reveal happens. Which is — it’s a Source Code scenario. He’s in this program/machine thing that resets him after every job, feeding him this whole story about his family dying and sending him off to kill the next target (because he functions better thinking it’s for vengeance and it makes him easier to control, etc). And so you watch this guy be lied to, even though we saw this all happen already, and the movie becomes more about him breaking out of this corrupt organization that’s using him to murder innocent people under the guise of this story they’ve programmed into him. I’ll tell you right now — it’s not that great a movie. Probably because Vin Diesel was not the right star for this movie and you could have done a whole lot differently and better, especially with that premise. BUT… if you didn’t spoil that first act and you watched it cold and then it just happened… that would be pretty awesome. So what I’m saying is — I’m disappointed that they straight up ruined the only interesting thing about their movie in the trailer. And that needed to be talked about because it’s absolutely egregious.

3. The Call of the Wild

Okay, so no, I have no real reason to truly be disappointed with this, but it’s 2020 and I had trouble filling out a list. And I am disappointed in it, even if it is my own fault. I knew this was a dog movie going in and I knew exactly what I was getting with it (especially since the book it’s based on is centered around the dog). But I had seen the 1935 version with Clark Gable and really enjoyed that and just built up expectations that it would be reasonably similar to that. Of course, what I neglected to realize is that 1935 movies tended to not honor source material (especially when it did not center around humans), so in essence this is a truer adaptation of the book than that version. But, I liked that version, and this had Harrison Ford, so in my head, I was getting that. And I didn’t, so I was disappointed. I mean, hey, I had nothing else, and I wasn’t gonna manufacture one. Entirely my own stupidity, but… what else is this entire site if not that?

4. Dolittle

This one we knew would suck, especially since they pushed it an entire year and still dumped it in January. But even so…. you have Robert Downey Jr, who is one of the most famous actors working after his decade-plus Marvel run, and he can make nearly anything he wants, and then you had Stephen Gaghan directing this, and given his pedigree. There’s every reason to be disappointed in this, from a director and star pairing who should have done something more interesting, to Downey wasting one of the few times we’re ever gonna see him work anymore (because he’s now megastar. He doesn’t need to work unless he wants to. And he’s been, ever since Marvel, playing it super safe with his material. In terms of non-Marvel stuff he’s been in since 2008: The Soloist, Sherlock Holmes (and the sequel), Due Date, a cameo in Chef, The Judge and this. That’s all it is. And all of it is broad and nowhere near as interesting as the stuff he did when he was a character actor. And so, knowing how little we’re gonna get of him and knowing he could do just about anything… it just feels like a waste to see something like this that everyone could have told you was a bad idea. So I’m just disappointed in the fact that it exists, since this guy has the power to get more interesting movies made.

5. The Glorias

It’s not the biopic of Gloria Steinem we deserve. It’s not the biopic she deserves. Admittedly it’s not terrible, but it’s just disappointing because it never feels like it fully captures her the way she should be captured. I don’t really have much more than that. I just feel like this could have been better.

6. The High Note

I’m not really sure why I’m disappointed. I guess because this was highly touted in the first half of the year, it’s a music movie — I don’t know, I just hoped I’d get more from this than I did. The plot is pretty straightforward. They write Tracee Ellis Ross’ character too over the top. The rom com element and the way everything ties together… it just felt formulaic. Plus, it was a Black List script, and part of me is almost always disappointed when one of those scripts gets made and you realize they’re not actually as good as they may seem based on that distinction (even though that whole thing is corrupt as shit in how things get selected most of the time). I don’t know. This just disappointed me.

7. Hillbilly Elegy

It’s hard not to see this as a huge disappointment given the people involved. Any time you get a movie with Amy Adams and Glenn Close and Haley Bennett and Ron Howard… you assume it’s gonna be solid, regardless of source material. And yeah, this turned out to be ill-conceived from the jump and was just not a very good movie in most respects. And shit happens. But it doesn’t make this any less of a disappointment.

8. Irresistible

It’s Jon Stewart and the cast is insane and it actually has something to say. Problem is… the movie’s not very good. And I think you sort of forget that as entertaining as he was as the host of that show… the show never really was that biting in its commentary, and he had a team full of people writing for him there. So I guess I shouldn’t expect the greatest movie ever from him. But on the other hand, he’s known for political satire and he wrote a political satire, so I guess I just expected it to work all around as opposed to be the most broad, generic version of this story we could have gotten. Especially in an era where political division is so rampant. I don’t really want to have to see this stuff in movies on top of in life. So to have the movie be disappointing as I do that was just a double downer.

9. Mulan

I’m not hugely disappointed, since in the end all of these live action Disney remakes are at best unnecessary and at worst pure garbage, but of all the live action remakes, this is the one that should’ve actually been pretty good. Because it’s a war movie. And yet… there’s a goddamn witch in this and the child is flying around on wires at the very beginning of the movie… why can’t we just tell a goddamn story? Why must everything be bigger and try to keep up with all the other garbage that comes out every year by being faster-paced and have all this dumb humor aimed at kids? Trust me. I promise you kids can keep up with a more serious movie. Everyone my age grew up with that stuff, and people before me in the 80s had it so much worse. So believe me, you don’t need to do this. And it comes down to Disney. But that’s a whole more in-depth discussion. So let’s just leave this at — yet another live action disappointment from the most disappointing studio of the past decade.

10. The New Mutants

You have to keep saying it. They’ve fucked up this franchise at nearly every turn. It’s impossible to get more than two good X-Men movies in a row, apparently. X-Men, X-2…. The Last Stand. First Class, Days of Future Past… Apocalypse. And then Dark Phoenix. And now this. Granted, this is a side thing, but still. I don’t know what exactly they were going for with this, but with multiple years on the shelf, countless reshoots and the studio being sold to Disney, who had no interest in doing anything except dumping this out there and moving on to giving the characters to Marvel… there was really no chance for this. But still, I have to state my constant disappointment with these movies. It’s like Sony and Spider-Man. How can you fuck up this many times?

11. Onward

It’s Pixar-lite. It’s like when you take something out of the oven 2/3 of the way through. I guess it’s edible, but it’s not ready yet. Pixar has a history of excellence. Even the past decade, when it’s largely been unnecessary sequels, even those were pretty solid, and the only reason I was upset with those is because they have such a high bar with original material that you want to see them keep making that. So to get one of the very few original movies we got in the past decade (Brave, Inside Out, Good Dinosaur, Coco, Soul)… there’s only a 50% ratio on those. Good Dinosaur and this just felt weak for them, and Brave is like, half a good movie. And even though Inside Out, Coco and Soul are great, it’s still a 50% ratio. And Pixar has done such great work that you expect them to put out nothing but great content. So this, by any measure, is a huge disappointment for them.

12. Scoob!

I’ll be honest — I knew this was gonna be awful. But I can still be disappointed. Not because my expectations were high, but more in the way your parents are disappointed in you. You know what I mean? That’s how I feel about this. How could they do this to Scooby Doo? I don’t even have more to say here. Honestly, how could they do this? I’m so disappointed in them.

13. Stardust

This one’s easy — how can you make a David Bowie biopic without the music? I didn’t have expectations for this, because you can sort of tell when something is ‘real’ and when it’s not. But you still went ahead with this anyway? I think that qualifies as a solid disappointment.

14. Wendy

This one hurts a little bit. My disappointment in this is rooted in my love of Beasts of the Southern Wild. That movie was absolutely lovely. And so hearing that Zeitlin was making another movie, naturally I was all in and thrilled to see it. And so my disappointment in this is having waited 8 years for him to make another movie and then seeing… oh, that’s… that’s your only trick. You just make movies exactly like this. And while I know that works for some people, like Terrence Malick and Wes Anderson… I always feel like (most of the time…that run of Malick films this decade after Tree of Life did feel a bit like this one) they differentiate themselves in different ways even if the visual styles are the same. But this… it was just Beasts of the Southern Wild again, only rooted in the story of Peter Pan. So you go, “Yeah, I saw this movie already.” I was so ready to love this movie and then… it was just the same thing. And that sucked. The movie was really solid and all. Just… I guess maybe my expectations were too high.

15. The Witches

I had to do this. Because Robert Zemeckis — man made Back to the Future. Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Forrest Gump. Cast Away. And here he is, with this. Not that I hated this movie. But I bet a lot of people who watch it will. This, to me, shows all of Zemeckis’ worst instincts, which is the CGI. Remember that run of uncanny valley movies he made (fucking Beowulf)? He must have it ingrained in him that he’s gonna do something technologically advanced when he makes a movie. Even Forrest Gump had stuff with him being in stock footage with presidents and John Lennon and stuff. He’s always done it. Just… sometimes it works within the story. Like Flight. Or Allied. Other times… it’s Welcome to Marwen. This is a perfectly acceptable kids movie. I’m just disappointed that this is where Robert Zemeckis is now. He’s a good director and he could be doing so much more interesting stuff. But now whenever he makes something, it always feels like it was a bad fit for him. And that’s a real shame.

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