Frustrating, Undecided and Disappointments/Least-Liked Movies of 2019

It’s the end of the year boys and girls, you know what that means? It’s list time!

I’ll put up my list of “Favorite Movies of the Year” later, but with all those good/great/awesome movies I have seen, I had to sit through some stinkers unfortunately. Some of these I knew weren’t going to be any good walking in, but I ended up taking the hit anyway. The list ranges all over the place, so don’t think I’m attacking certain movies because it’s easy. I walk into every movie with a clear mind and soaking up the movie for what it’s worth.

The list will have the movies in alphabetical order, just to be fair, and because I really don’t want to go through the trouble anymore of picking a number one because they weren’t good enough to make it on my other list.

Like all lists, this is my opinion! So if you don’t agree that’s perfectly fine and probably justified. Film is subjective, and that’s why I love it. Finally, there are other movies that could have gone on the list, but these are the ones that truly stuck out.

But first, let’s talk about the movies I didn’t know where to put, or as I like to call it – The Undecided

 

The Undecided Movies of the Year

Ad Astra

One of the challenges Ad Astra faced was marketing. The trailers and TV spots – even a TV spot I saw recently – are treating the film as a sci-fi space action thriller. The thing is director James Gray (Lost City of Z) isn’t that kind of director, and the film was much more of a personal film about Brad Pitt’s character trying to find his father (played by Tommy Lee Jones), but his character is so mission focused that he find it hard to connect with everyone. It’s a quiet film, but effective with Pitt’s performance.

 

Joker

Joker is, arguably, the most talked about movie of the year, for the good, bad and all the articles it sparked. Regardless of that, Joaquin Phoenix did deliver a rather haunting performance as Arthur Fleck, but there is just something about this film’s theme and message that gets lost in its delivery.

 

Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood made A LOT of waves when it came out. Moving most of that aside for right now, what made the movie worth every penny was watching Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt playing off each other, or even stealing the show on their own as aging cowboy actor Rick Dalton and his stuntman, Cliff Booth. At the end of the day though, I can’t see myself putting it in my favorites or honorable mentions. I didn’t dislike or thought the film was bad, I’m kind of indifferent to it.

 

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Based on the popular book series, I was fully looking forward to Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and not just because of the books, but the crew behind the camera. Guillermo del Toro produced the movie – he was originally attached to direct for a while – while Andre Ovredal (The Autopsy of Jane Doe) directed the movie. The movie was fine, but there was a certain punch missing from it.

 

The Lighthouse

If you saw the movie, you know why it’s here. Seriously, I still don’t know whether I enjoyed the movie, or have this need to enjoy the movie. Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe are great in it – I prefer Dafoe here – but man, The Lighthouse was something.

 

The Irishman

Martin Scorsese’s latest film made, no surprise, waves amongst film fans and critics. The “long” film about Mob hitman Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro), and the role he may have had in the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino). I honestly can say I enjoyed watching the movie, and watching the performances of De Niro, Pacino and the returning Joe Pesci, but then there are very minor things that a director like Scorsese should have known better about – I’m looking at you Anna Paquin.

 

 

Frustrating Movies of the Year

Brightburn

What would happen if Superman came to Earth and was actually evil? But, he’s not actually Superman because of comic rights? That’s what Brightburn basically was, and while concept wise it worked, execution wise, well, that’s another story. While the performances of the main trio – Jackson A. Dunn, David Denman and Elizabeth Banks – made the movie worthwhile, Brightburn suffered from not really going all-out like it did. Granted, there are places the movie DID go that was surprising.

 

Escape Room

Escape Room followed a group of strangers, who take a mysterious invitation to be a part of an immersive escape room, where the winner gets a cash prize – although the trailer dubs in a larger amount than in the movie. Of course, things are much more than they appear to be.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to Escape Room, but considering it came out at the beginning of the year, and the amount of new movies coming out is very slim, I went and boy was I impressed!

The movie and cast were very solid, and right as I was about to eat my words, the ending happened.

Escape Room lost every bit of steam it had built up with its terrible ending that really served no purpose other than set up a sequel, which is happening and set to come out this year. Now before you say, some other movies set up sequels, it couldn’t have been that bad? Yes, yes it was.

Sometimes the less you show, and the mystery, is much better than the explanation you give. I’d still highly recommend Escape Room, just turn it off five minutes before the credits roll.

 

Glass

After years of wanting a sequel to Unbreakable, we finally got one in the form of Spilt and after feeling the high that was the return of M. Night Shyamalan, we got Glass. It’s not the say that Glass was a bad movie, because it some respect it wasn’t. Glass followed our three already introduced trio in James McAvoy’s Kevin Wendell Crumb and his multiple personalities, Bruce Willis’ David Dunn and Samuel L. Jackson’s Elijah aka Mr. Glass. All three have been captured and locked away to “treat them” of their illness, which is they believe they’re real-life superheroes by the mysterious Dr. Ellie Staple played by Sarah Paulson.

For its credit, Glass does try to get the message across that these three created their own reality that their superheroes, and Paulson gives an unflinching performance to boot. The problem with Glass is it falls into the pitfalls that put Shyamalan out of favor with fans in the first place – the twists. Now, sure, most fans at the beginning loved the Shyamalan twist, but eventually they became the butt of many jokes.

The problem with the Glass is that has one too many twists in it, and one in particular that comes from out of nowhere and feels like it was a last minute thing that Shyamalan put in there to have fans talking about that rather than what he did to his characters that we’ve come to love.

Glass could arguably be the most frustrating movie of the year, I know it is for me, since just about everyone – okay, maybe not everyone – was hyped to see Shyamalan come back to form.

 

The Kitchen

Based on the comic book series of the same name, The Kitchen followed the wives of New York gangsters in Hell’s Kitchen in the 70s, played by Melissa McCarthy, Elisabeth Moss and Tiffany Haddish, who continue to operate their husbands’ rackets after they’re locked up in prison, and making themselves highly successful in the process. With a set up like that, and three always reliable leads, how the hell did this become such a mess!?

McCarthy, Haddish and Moss do the best with what they’re given, and this is their show, but why bother getting some big names for s supporting cast just to waste them. Domhnall Gleeson, James Badge Dale, Bill Camp, Common and Margo Martindale are in the movie, but not really. It’s a tonal whiplash at times, the editing is off, it’s a bit anti-climatic at one point and its ending is undeserved because it just comes out of left field with no real development.

 

Alright, now let’s get this over with.

Dishonorable Mentions

Anna

Child’s Play

Miss Bala

Polaroid

The Dead Don’t Die

Men in Black: International

 

Disappointments & Least-Liked Movies of the Year

Black Christmas

The second remake of the classic horror film, now with a modern twist, Black Christmas follows a group of sorority sisters who are being hunted by down a mysterious group at their college campus. While I appreciated that the movie tried to make the remake its own thing, nothing really happens until the last act of the movie, and even then – with a twist as well, mind you – it was a little too fumbled to really appreciate it.

 

Close

Close seemed to be Netflix’s potential answer to the Bourne franchise, but unfortunately for Noomi Rapace – who probably does deserve another franchise – she wasn’t given enough to put this movie over the top. The movie follows Rapace’s Sam, a bodyguard for hire, and when she’s hired to protect Sarah (Olivia Jewson) the daughter of a business tycoon who just died, she’s put into the crosshairs of corporate espionage. The action thriller has little action and the majority of it feels uninspired, and on top of that the movie trudges along to its finale that just comes out of nowhere with no real, or at the minimal lazy, build-up.

 

Dark Phoenix

The last X-Men movie in the Fox run, Dark Phoenix unfortunately whiffed it on their way out. The Dark Phoenix story arc is, arguably, one of the best X-Men comic arcs in history, so it was always bound for a big-screen adaptation. Of course, the first time we got the big-screen story was X-Men: The Last Stand – there are some cool moments in the movie, let’s not shit on the movie entirely okay. Then the franchise got rebooted, and after the tease of X-Men: Apocalypse – which Dark Phoenix seemed to completely ignore – we knew we were in for another take of the story.

Unfortunately, Dark Phoenix suffers from just more than some bad writing. The movie did have some problems behind-the-scenes, and then had some last-minute third act reshoots that changed a lot. It was also well known that Jennifer Lawrence wanted out of the franchise, and only came back because James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender came back…and you can clearly see she DID NOT want to be there – seriously, I’ve never seen someone so uninterested in being at work.

The biggest complaint I have about Dark Phoenix is that it’s just kind of bland. The action is a tad uninspired, and while the final train sequence was actually kind of cool, since it has the X-Men, Magneto and two other mutants who we met thirty seconds ago teaming up, the rest of it just happens.

 

Replicas  

Replicas follows Keanu Reeves’ Will Foster who is at the brink of a scientific breakthrough, however, when his family dies in a tragic car accident she decides to tweak his breakthrough and bring his family back through cloning. Of course, things don’t go as smoothly as he thinks.

Replicas had a ton of potential, the problem is the movie was not only pushed back on multiple occasions, it barely got any real promotion and overall it failed to really grasp its own concept and ruin everything it had built up. The movie also feels just a tad bit cheap, which doesn’t help the cause, and the third act is a little too wonky for its good.

Then there’s the ending…again.

 

All right, so there are my disappointments, least-liked films of the year. What were some of yours?

February Movie Releases

So how are those New Years Resolutions coming along? Kidding!

How’s the cold treating you? Because it sure as hell SUCKED here in the Chicago-land area!

Anyway, we’re here for movies! February is looking like a legit month with some huge films coming out. It’s also the month that is bringing the end to a beloved franchise. So, let’s get to it!

 

1st

Limited Release: Arctic

A man (Mads Mikkelsen) stranded in the Arctic after an airplane crash must decide whether to remain in the relative safety of his makeshift camp or embark on a deadly trek through the unknown in hopes of making it out alive. The film is the feature film debut of Joe Penna aka Mystery Guitar Man from Youtube fame.

 

Miss Bala

Gloria (Gina Rodriguez) finds a power she never knew she had when she is drawn into a dangerous world of cross-border crime. Surviving will require all of her cunning, inventiveness and strength. The movie is, unbeknownst to me for some time, a remake of a Spanish film of the same name and directed by Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight, Red Riding Hood). Honestly, I don’t have a lot of interest in watching this. The trailer does nothing for me, and why I hear Gina Rodriguez is great on her show Jane the Virgin, that may not mean she’s good to lead a movie. Hey, I could be wrong, and part of me hope I am, but another thing the movie has against it is its coming out on Super Bowl weekend, and movies coming out this weekend don’t tend to do too well. Miss Bala co-stars Ismael Cruz Cordova, Matt Lauria, Thomas Dekker and Anthony Mackie.

 

8th

Limited Release: Everybody Knows

Laura (Penelope Cruz), a Spanish woman living in Buenos Aires, returns to her hometown outside Madrid with her two children to attend her sister’s wedding. However, the trip is upset by unexpected events that bring secrets into the open. Everybody Knows co-stars Javier Bardem.

 

What Men Want

A gender-swap of the 2000 Mel Gibson-led movie What Women Want, this movie has Ali (Taraji P. Henson) is boxed out by the male sports agents in her profession. However, she gains an unexpected edge over them when she develops the ability to hear their thoughts. The gender-swapping trend continues this year, and why I’m sure this movie will find its audience, What Men Wants may be one of those movies that gets lost in the shuffle for me. What Men Want co-stars Josh Brener, Max Greenfield, Aldis Hodge, Kellan Lutz, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Tracy Morgan.

 

The Prodigy

A mother (Taylor Schilling) concerned about her young son’s disturbing behavior thinks something supernatural may be affecting him. This one pretty much came out of nowhere, mainly because of its test screening stories. According to multiple reports, and confirmed by its director Nicholas McCarthy (The Pact), The Prodigy had to be re-edited because the movie was TOO SCARY. Apparently, test audiences missed parts of the movie because they were recovering from the scares. Reading that, and then watching the trailer, I can believe that, because I never heard of the movie until I saw the trailer – in theaters – and that last bit scared the crap out of the whole audience, including me. Needless to say, this is one to put on the Must-Watch List.

 

Cold Pursuit

Based on the 2014 Norwegian film In Order of Disappearance, a snowplow driver (Liam Neeson) seeks revenge against the drug dealers he thinks killed his son. Leaving the cheesy feeling of “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” playing in the trailer, Cold Pursuit looks like it’s playing with the notion of Neeson playing the badass hero. I actually loved his delivery of the reading a lot of crime novels, so of course he’s ready to kill people. There’s also the feeling that this is a payoff of the joke in Daddy’s Home 2, but hey, seeing Neeson on the big screen beating the crap out of people? I’m in. Cold Pursuit co-stars Emmy Rossum, Tom Bateman, Laura Dern and William Forsythe.  

 

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part

It’s been five years since everything was awesome and the citizens are facing a huge new threat: LEGO DUPLO invaders from outer space, wrecking everything faster than they can rebuild. I loved the first LEGO movie, and still do. That said, the trailers for The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part are just okay, but I want to say part of that is to hide the story of the movie, and maybe even some of the jokes. I’m still going to be sitting in a packed theater opening weekend, so yeah. The voice cast from the first returns, but new additions include Stephanie Beatriz and Tiffany Haddish.

 

13th

Isn’t It Romantic

Natalie (Rebel Wilson) disenchanted with love mysteriously finds herself trapped inside a romantic comedy. I kind of like the concept of this, but the trailer just doesn’t make me actually buy it.  Isn’t It Romantic co-stars Adam Devine, Liam Hemsworth, Priyanka Chopra and Jennifer Saunders.

 

Happy Death Day 2U

Tree (Jessica Rothe) discovers that dying over and over was surprisingly easier than the dangers that lie ahead. Listen, I was onboard the hate wagon for Happy Death Day, but then I watched it and damn I ended up actually liking it. It knew was it was and didn’t take itself too seriously. That said, when I heard about the sequel, I wasn’t too surprised, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to this just a bit. Happy Death Day 2U co-stars Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Suraj Sharma, Rachel Matthews, Sarah Yarkin and Phi Vu.

 

14th

Fighting with My Family

Written and directed by Stephen Merchant, and inspired by the life of WWE superstar Paige, a former wrestler and his family make a living performing at small venues around the country while his kids dream of joining World Wrestling Entertainment. I’m actually a huge wrestling fan – and not just WWE – and knowing some of Paige’s actual story, part of me isn’t surprised it got turned into a movie. The movie itself does look pretty great, although just by seeing the trailer, it looks like they are taking some liberties already. Fighting With My Family co-stars Florence Pugh, Lena Headey, Nick Frost, Jack Lowden, Vince Vaughn and Dwayne Johnson.

 

Alita: Battle Angel

Co-written by James Cameron, directed by Robert Rodriguez and based on the anime of the same name; the movie is set in the future where Alita (Rosa Salazar) tries to discover the truth of what she really is, and fight to change the world. This one could easily been written off, but the recent word of mouth for the movie is pretty, and slightly surprisingly, positive. It was also suppose to come out last year, but the push back could have helped the movie. I’m also really looking forward to it. Alita: Battle Angel co-stars Christoph Waltz, Keean Johnson, Ed Skrein, Eiza Gonzalez, Lana Condor, Casper Van Dien, Mahershala Ali, Jackie Earle Haley and Jennifer Connelly.

 

22nd

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

When Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) discovers Toothless isn’t the only Night Fury, he must seek “The Hidden World”, a secret Dragon Utopia before a hired tyrant named Grimmel (voiced by F. Murray Abraham) finds it first. I hate myself for saying it, but I yet to watch a How to Train Your Dragon movie, despite my best efforts to watch them. So I’m a bit bummed to think I’m going to miss seeing at least one of these movies in theaters.

 

What are you looking forward to?