Every year opens with hope and expectations for great things. We look for the best and expect great stuff and it always seems to promise to reward us for our patience with good stuff. That includes Hollywood as from movies to TV to various celebrities, we had a lot to look forward to in 2015. Yes, a lot of stuff was worth the wait (Jurassic World, Star Wars, anything from Pixar) and succeeded well. However, sadly, a lot did not and that’s what this list is about.
True, in some cases, the signs were clear. Anyone who saw the trailer for Pixels knew that would be a disaster, likewise for Pan and others. And even stuff with some poor buzz around it had hopes of success still. But these are different. Some are movies and TV shows that had so much promise but instead were massive letdowns given the talent involved. There are also some celebrities who let us down in various ways and even hurt their legacies and even a couple of characters weren’t immune to it. Here are the 15 biggest letdowns linked to Hollywood this year and how it’s hard to sometimes put your trust in something.
15. Terminator Genisys
Yes, it made a lot at the box office so it’s not a major bomb. However, fans were completely thrown by how badly the reboot of the sci-fi franchise went. The plot was completely confusing and undid so many points of the original, the one compelling part (John Connor a Terminator) was given away in the trailers and Jai Courtney proved he is not a major leading man. Emilia Clarke did her best but her Sarah Connor came off weak in places and the much-hyped return of Arnold to his signature role was a bust as well as he looked every inch his 68 years instead of the unbeatable machine. The FX were good but when you hang a story that needs cliff notes to understand on a major blockbuster, it’s not a good thing for fans and expectations for the next film in the saga are far less than they were before.
Johnny Depp may have finally reached the limit when it came to strange roles with this “comedy.” It had promise with a nutty lord trying to find a stolen painting but Depp’s outfit with his huge mustache and accent were more distraction than actually anything notable. It wasted a cast of Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor and Paul Bettany, a dumb plot, terrible direction and the critics were as unkind to it as possible. The film eked out a meager $47 million worldwide against a $60 million budget, one of the biggest flops of the year and showing how Depp’s act may be wearing rather thin with audiences.
13. Ronda Rousey
For most of 2015, Rousey was riding high as UFC’s biggest star, the best female MMA fighter ever and Hollywood was paying attention. She had a great fight scene in Furious 7 and a highlight of the Entourage movie, a red carpet darling who did tons of interviews. She was cast in the lead of a remake of Roadhouse and even talk of a bio-movie on herself, seemingly all set to be the true bad-ass action heroine Hollywood wanted due to her standing as a real-life perfect fighting machine. And then Holly Holm threw that whole script away by knocking out the seemingly unbeatable Rousey in two rounds in November. Her aura of invincibility shattered, Rousey’s standing in Hollywood has taken a massive nose-dive and reports she’ll be concentrating on a rematch meaning any movie roles will have to be put aside. Thanks to one fight ruining her image of the unstoppable brawler, Rousey has cost Hollywood a star that just seemed ready to explode.
12. Ben Affleck
He entered the year riding high off the success of Gone Girl and the promise of more to come but 2015 was not a good year for Affleck. First came the news that he and Jennifer Garner, supposedly one of the best marriages in Hollywood, were getting divorced. Then came the reports that Affleck had been cheating on one of the sexiest women in Hollywood with their nanny, including various trips and vacations. He and Matt Damon brought back Project Greenlight only to have it famous for Damon trying to lecture Effie Brown on diversity in film with Brown showing how little Damon knew. To top it all off, the first trailers for Batman v Superman show Affleck not exactly doing great as the Dark Knight (although to be fair, that movie has a lot more issues than just him). He still has great talent and can bounce back but exposed as a cheater is hardly the best way for Affleck to handle his fans.
It’s sad to think Neil Blomkamp may be a one-hit wonder. He followed his acclaimed District 9 with the muddled Elysium but some hoped his new tale of a police robot becoming its own being would allow him to bounce back. It didn’t work as the movie was a critical letdown, unable to decide between sci-fi, action or drama and wasting its cast of Hugh Jackman and more than one critic noted how a movie all about artificial intelligence seemed to lack some creative ideas. While it did gross over $100 million against a $50 million budget, the response was not as great as hoped, killing Blomkamp’s claims of starting a trilogy and highlighting another case of a promising filmmaker unable to live up to all the expectations.
10. Jupiter Ascending
There had been worries when the studio decided to bump this movie from July of 2014 to February of this year. Still, audiences were stunned when the Wachowskis’ would-be new Matrix turned into a complete debacle. The effects were terrific but Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis had no chemistry, the plot was confusing with politics and satire and Eddie Redmayne’s ludicrous performance had people demanding his Oscar be revoked. It has won praise for its visuals and may become a cult movie in the future but in the present, it ranks as one of the biggest bombs not just of 2015 but of all time and weakens the Wachowski’s standing even further, a sad sign of two truly talented filmmakers busting out so poorly.
9. Chris Hemsworth
Yes, he did score once more as Thor in Avengers Age of Ultron but outside of that, it wasn’t a good year for the star. First, in Blackhat, Hemsworth was totally miscast as a genius computer hacker as the usually reliable Michael Mann ended up with a terrible movie that lacked any thrills and not a lot of intellect and quickly vanished from theaters. He was a highlight of Vacation but that movie was among the year’s biggest box office disappointments. Hemsworth then pushed In the Heart of the Sea, losing weight for his role as a whaler, featured prominently in the ads and doing tons of promotion for the Ron Howard picture that was supposed to be a late Oscar contender. However, the movie sank immediately with only $11 million opening and on its way to being one of the year’s biggest flops. Hemsworth is going to return to his roles as Thor and the Huntsman which may be smart as audiences seem uninterested in him doing anything else.
8. Ted 2
The first Ted movie was a surprise smash, winning over audiences with its raunchy humor but still some heart and becoming Seth McFarlane’s biggest hit. Naturally, expectations were high for the sequel with Mark Wahlberg back and pushing more raunchy and flash. True, the critical response was rough but that seemed expected given those involved and not much different than with the original. What was different was that the audiences were not responding as the supposed sure-fire summer hit ended up making a third of what the original did, just over $200 million worldwide and the buzz wasn’t as large either with most feeling the movie just went more crass and commercial than really being funny. Not a flop but nowhere near the massive hit expected which earns it a spot on this list.
7. Adam Sandler
Remember when Adam Sandler meant box office success? Those days are far away as this year, Sandler gave not one but three massive comedic disasters. First, Pixels, the fun script of aliens invading Earth with arcade game characters turned into a messy romp with Sandler doing lazy jokes and Kevin James as the President of the United States. Next came The Cobbler, a would-be fable of Sandler using magical shoes to become other people, another promising concept ruined by his need for juvenile humor and a “message” that fell flat due to the lame script. Finally, The Ridiculous Six didn’t even make it to theaters, premiering on Netflix, failing even as a lame parody of Westerns with reports over how Native American extras walked off set thanks to Sandler demanding they try to talk and act like “real” Indians. It all showcases how far his standing has fallen as he doesn’t even seem to try and act anymore, just collect paychecks and the sad truth that Sandler has turned into a bigger joke than anything in his films.
Let’s face it, Cameron Crowe has been coasting for years on the goodwill of Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous. Since then, his credits have included the reviled Elizabethtown and others. But even his biggest fans were jarred at how badly he let them down with this comedy starring Bradley Cooper. It seemed more an excuse for a big Hawaiian vacation than a real movie despite the cast and middling storyline. The fact Crowe appeared honestly surprised at the reaction to casting Emma Stone as a native Hawaiian speaks volumes and that’s without the trite dialogue and direction that often looked to be a parody of Crowe instead of the man himself. Ripped apart by critics, the movie was a huge bomb and once more showed that Crowe may have lost his once magical touch with movie-making.
5. Neil Patrick Harris, Oscar Host
On paper, it should have been great. NPH has shown his stuff as host of the Tony Awards, the Emmys, People’s Choice and others. A gifted singer and dancer, great comic timing, he had all the ingredients to be a terrific Oscar host. Instead, he was saddled with lame jokes and skits such as the “predicting the winners” box with poor Octavia Spencer made to “watch” over it for the show. Harris himself appeared out of his league, often taking long stretches away from hosting and when he was on, seemed to try too hard instead of the natural host he’s usually good at. Not surprisingly, he hasn’t been asked to return and shows even NPH isn’t perfect.
4. Jem and the Holograms
For years, fans had hoped for a live-action adaptation of the 1980’s cartoon of an all-girl band. Sadly, the movie version took just the name and ignored everything that made the show so great. No Misfits (except in a stinger for a sequel that will never come to be), shallow characters, an “empowering message” that went completely awry and (worst of all for a music movie) bad songs. The result was a movie that flopped so badly that within days it was yanked out of 2000 theaters, a record collapse and fans railed on how terrible it was. What could have been the start of a fun franchise instead became one of the most notable bombs in recent years and amazing how the cartoon did it all so much better.
Given the power of those involved, this was a serious letdown. Brad Baird had established himself as a winning director, George Clooney is a major star and the Disney brand based on their popular theme park attraction seemed the icing on the cake. The results ended up a mess as the movie was visually stunning but critics ripped at the storyline as trite and cliché, muddled in its message of whether or not to be optimistic of the future and the acting rough with too much on a “Chosen One” bit than telling a real story. The trailers didn’t help in selling the story to the public and the poor reviews added to the trouble so the over $200 million budget ended up barely making that much, a loss of $75 million and a major black eye to an otherwise good year for Disney.
2. Fantastic Four
True, there had been poor buzz but it was still astounding just how badly Fox’s reboot of the Marvel comic property failed on every level imaginable. Debate still rages as to whether director Josh Trank’s original vision would have worked although the fact Trank told the cast not to read the comics doesn’t seem a good sign. Regardless, the studio massively interfered with horrible decisions and reshoots and Trank’s own work wasn’t good (Ben Grimm gets his “It’s clobbarin’ time” catchphrase from his abusive brother) combined with cheap FX, a poor story and terrible character beats. Once more, Doctor Doom, the greatest comic book villain ever, was made to look like garbage and the final result was a massive box office bomb that has fans begging for Marvel Studios to take on the property in order to salvage the FF before they suffer another horrible fate.
1. True Detective Season 2
Unlike so many items on this list, there was little indication this was going to be a bust. The first season was a massive critical and audience hit with its gripping plot, tight writing and fantastic performances by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. So naturally, fans went into season 2 excited with a setting in Los Angeles, a bigger cast that had Vince Vaughn, Colin Farrell and Rachel McAdams and the promise of even better material. Instead, the series seemed to undo everything that made the first year so great. Instead of upending the clichés of TV shows, it embraced them, the dialogue trite, the characters rough and the overall storyline just dragging instead of compelling. Some defend it and it picked up a bit at the end but it’s still one of the most notable sophomore slumps in TV history, that a show so acclaimed as a “game changer” falling into a serious rut and undoing much of its good faith leaving the prospects for a third year much lower for fans.