The year is coming to an end and 2019 was a great one for movies. But there were also some that failed to deliver.
Here are my Top-10 Disappointing Movies of 2019.
Given the animated film was my favorite of the Disney movies growing up, I did have some hopes for this live-action remake. It turned out to be a fine film I guess but it didn’t grab me in any of the ways the original did. Will Smith was charming, but he was unable to make up for the charisma of Robin Williams. The production design was detailed but it also proved that no matter how accurate something can be brought into tangle form doesn’t always mean it should be. This one felt like a Las Vegas show with a massive budget. The cast brought solid performances but again some things are just built for animation and this remake proved the world of Aladdin is one of them. It has a collection of cool action sequences, some heartfelt moments and serviceable musical numbers but it lacked the atmosphere of the original.
Now I know this one looked like a simple by-the-numbers home invasion thriller. It was. But that doesn’t mean this genre can’t still provide some fun when the cast and story-layers are fleshed out. That was my hopes with this one. Quaid, Ealy, and Good to me showed some potential. But it missed the mark with some formulaic writing that forced story turns at the sacrifice of normal character decisions. Good’s character makes some puzzling choices that felt overly contrived and it pulled me out of the tension. Quaid was awesome as this seemingly normal man who is much sinister under the surface. He has a few great unhinged scenes, but it doesn’t all come together. The story was full of clichés, it felt much more like a soap opera with a suspenseful twist and was 20 minutes too long.
I had misguided hopes this one could usher in new era for Shaft. There’s so much potential for this property to be a thriving franchise providing gritty action thrillers with splashes of comedy. I had a good time with this movie but wanted to have a great time. The humor has its moments, but it’s dated and the old versus young shtick wears off quickly. Jackson was Jackson once again in the role and it works. His bravado can still rouse a laugh and he had a few great scenes. But they were buried among many other lazy attempts at humor through dialogue and sight-gags. The story is a lazy mix of genre tropes just swapped around a bit and it was forgettable. Regina Hall brings some humor. Jessie T. Usher tries but despite some weak material, he didn’t feel like a proper replacement to Jackson.
Rambo: Last Blood
It actually brings pain to my heart to see this film on the list. I love this franchise and thought the 2008 movie was incredible for what it wanted to be. This one let me down primarily through a story that lacked genuine intensity. The cartel addition felt played out. It resulted in paper-thin villains that you knew would die the instant you saw them. This movie is only 90 minutes with credits, and it was still boring in places because it felt like it was going through the motions. Stallone was stoic, naturally aging, and it was perfect for the place in life we see Rambo in. The “Home Alone” inspired closing was non-stop bloody carnage, and delightful. I just wished the story had more sincerity to it instead of the contrived feel it gave me. This didn’t turn out to be a bad film, just a very formulaic one that seemed fit for the straight-to-video shelf.
Terminator: Dark Fate
Retconning everything after T2 is what reinvigorated me about this film. Thus, when I saw this slightly tweaked version of “Terminator 2” serving as the narrative, I was massively disappointed. The action is great. The set-pieces are adrenaline pumping with a variety to them, and they’re complemented by solid performances. But the beats of the story and their mission were primarily recycled story points. It was missing that ambition I had anticipated after the retcon announcement. It was great to see Hamilton back as Connor. But her backdrop and placement into the story was laughable to me, as was Arnold’s domestic partnership, and how this story nullified T2 in mere seconds. This one should’ve resulted in something much more creative given the team behind it, and while it was fun at times, it was also lazy at times.
Men in Black: International
I didn’t expect this spin-off to be as good as the first “Men in Black” but I do love the chemistry between Hemsworth and Thompson from the MCU and that gave me hopes for seeing a new direction with this franchise. But that didn’t turn out to be the case. The performances from both Hemsworth and Thompson were good, their chemistry was as well. But the material they had to work with wasn’t funny. The imaginative sci-fi themes and humor that worked with Smith and Jones in the original was missing here. The villains were lacking intensity and they brought no energy to a story that already didn’t make a lot of sense. It didn’t feel like a new direction, it just felt like another sequel and not a good one. I wanted to escape into this world but never was able to which is sad given the talent of the cast overall.
Alicia Vikander equals potential to me and with this one promising a slow-burning mystery set in Tokyo, I was all in. There were flashes of a great film here. The performances, their chemistry with one another, and their visual intensity set the base for many interesting character dynamics. That didn’t get much development. This story swerved between romantic drama and erotic thriller, without committing to either. I kept waiting for the build-up to result in something unassumingly gripping. I kept waiting for characters to make a turn that would reveal that underlying tension. There are attempts at times later in the film, but it doesn’t equal that impactful payoff either in a subtle, or in-your-face way. It just progresses slowly, teases some interesting story layers, then fizzles out to an anti-climactic finish.
I loved the first two “Hellboy” movies and I loved Perlman in the role. I this had hopes for this reboot and it just didn’t do it for me. I liked Harbor in the lead, and he has some great moments. The movie also delivers a good amount of visually appealing action. The make-up design was excellent as well but like the trend in this list it comes down to the story and this movie didn’t have a good one. It was lacking continuity. The dialogue was overloaded with exposition and with it constantly telling me what was happening and why, I lost interest because there was no intrigue. The supporting cast didn’t really work either and were lacking that chemistry and authenticity that the first film had. And this one just felt like all style and violence, over substance being developed as to the purpose of the plot.
Lucy in the Sky
Walking into this movie I was expecting to see something that would garner some awards talk. After seeing it I wondered what the point of it all was. It has moments of great visuals, but it also has odd changes in the aspect ratio I didn’t like. It has a performance from Portman that shows intent on capturing emotional layering. But the script didn’t seem to know what it wanted to do with this character or what message about her it wanted to send. I don’t feel like I got to know Lucy despite the character filling the run-time. She wasn’t a likable character, she wasn’t unlikable, she was just there. There were sections of appealing character development, I also enjoyed the NASA scenes. Yet, I still wasn’t sure what this movie wanted me to think of this character and it resulted in a story that felt flat.
I was skeptical but open-minded to this new version of Chucky and in my opinion, it turned out to be a letdown. This advanced Buddi doll was a miss. It looked too weird, and not in the sinister way like the original. Changing the story to remove that human element from the doll also removed the evil, the unpredictable personality, and most important, the charisma that Chucky is known for. This was just a bland re-tread of old horror tropes that completely undercut solid performances from Plaza, Bateman, and Henry. It’s also so focused on frightening imagery that it forgets this is a killer doll, not a magic one. The original kept it simple and kept the killing grounded more or less. And this one feels more like a sinister remake of “Short Circuit” than it does one of “Child’s Play.”