May 29, 2018
The least anticipated movies of 2015
And so, we’ve come to the end of the year, the time when the vast majority of movie websites are unveiling their Best of 2014 lists. Personally, I think it’s more interesting to look ahead to the movies coming out next year. But instead of listing the most anticipated films of 2015—which would be a mostly pointless exercise, because what am I going to tell you? Hey, did you guys know there’s a new Star Wars movie coming out? Pretty cool, huh?—I’ve decided instead to take a different tack, and examine the least anticipated movies of 2015.
These are the movies that almost nobody is excited about, and that almost nobody is looking forward to seeing (though, if history is any guide, people will still turn out in droves to pay to see them anyway). Here, in order of release date, are the films of 2015 that you’re probably dreading right now.
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February 6: Jupiter Ascending
It’s a bit of a mystery as to why the Wachowskis, whose two post-Matrix films did mediocre business at best, are still being allowed to direct massively budgeted epics. Case in point: Jupiter Ascending, a film that’s beginning to look like $175 million flushed down the drain.
The casting here is rather… questionable, to put it midly. First we have Channing Tatum, who the moviegoing public already has trouble taking seriously, and so what do they do? They put him in elf ears. And while pointed ears are a common sci-fi trope, with everyone from Spock to Legolas rocking the elfin look, those characters existed in futuristic/fantasy settings. Just imagine if our first glimpse of Spock was him driving a car.
It gets worse: Tatum is some sort of wolf/human hybrid space bounty hunter who’s been assigned to protect this movie’s other miscast lead, Mila Kunis, who’s playing a maid who finds out she’s a clone of the queen of the universe or something. If Kunis were the lead in a romantic comedy opposite Tatum, I could see it (though, I probably wouldn’t); But Mila Kunis as the divine Chosen One destined to rule a galactic empire? It’s a bit of a stretch. With a cast that also features Sean Bean as a bee/human hybrid named “Stinger”, I’m thinking this one will be mostly entertaining for the trainwreck factor.
And the dumbest part is Mila Kunis actually plays the titular character: In the movie, her name is “Jupiter Jones”. Do you get the title now? Jupiter… Ascending?
Admittedly, the trailer is visually impressive, but it might be too impressive, in that there’s just way too much going on. It looks like a mega-budgeted remake of The Chronicles of Riddick, a space opera that tossed in every sci-fi/fantasy cliché ever thought of in an attempt to appear big and important. If this movie goes down in flames, can we finally admit that the first Matrix was probably a fluke?
March 20: The Divergent Series: Insurgent
I’m still amazed that anyone was anticipating the first Divergent, but with a worldwide gross of $288 million, it seems there’s a big audience for Shailene Woodley and Theo James taking on a stock dystopian totalitarian regime led by Kate Winslet. So let’s take a look at the official synopsis for the sequel, shall we?
“Tris (Woodley) and Four (James) are now fugitives on the run, hunted by Jeanine (Winslet), the leader of the power-hungry Erudite elite. Racing against time, they must find out what Tris’s family sacrificed their lives to protect, and why the Erudite leaders will do anything to ZZzzzzZZzzzzzzz…..”
Yeah, sorry, I fell asleep just reading the plot summary. The trailer doesn’t inspire much more enthusiasm, and even hardcore Divergent fans are complaining that it bears no resemblance to the book of the same name. But, hey, Woodley has short hair in this one, so that’s different, right?
These movies were originally meant to ride the coattails of the Hunger Games quadrilogy, but now we’ve reached the point where even the Hunger Games are starting to fade from relevance. Mockingjay – Part 1 just had one of the biggest opening weekends of the year and barely anyone noticed. (Sure, the target preteen female audience is still into it, but the film saw nothing like the hoopla surrounding the premiere of the first movie.)
With interest clearly waning in futuristic teen rebellion fantasies, I can’t imagine Insurgent (sure to be as fundamentally bland as the first movie, especially since it comes from the director of equally bland films Red and R.I.P.D.) receiving a huge response next year. And now just imagine how little audiences will care about Allegiant Part 1 and Allegiant Part 2 when those movies come out in 2016 and 2017, respectively. One can only hope that along with the demise of YA dystopic adaptations, this also means the death knell of arbitrarily splitting up the last book in a series into two movies as a blatant cash grab.
June 12: Jurassic World
I realize this will be the most contentious movie on this list, as there seem to be a significant number of people actually looking forward to a fourth Jurassic Park movie. Look, I get it. It stars the internet’s new boyfriend Chris Pratt, and the internet is taking Chris Pratt home to meet the family over the holiday break, and now the internet really thinks Chris Pratt might be the One.
But let’s get real: other than Pratt, there’s really nothing in the trailer that should cause the slightest bit of excitement. For one thing, the CGI looks weaker than the original Jurassic Park, and that came out twenty years ago (though admittedly, they may still be working on the effects and the CGI might look better in the finished film). But worse than that, it appears the movie is also rehashing the plot of the original, where the safety protocols fail at a theme park, a dinosaur goes on a rampage, and our righteous hero gets to preach to all of us about the foolishness of screwing with Mother Nature.
According to the trailer, the only new element of Jurassic World is that the park’s scientists have attempted to drum up attendance by stupidly creating a hybrid of a dinosaur and… something else. I’m guessing it’s a human/dinosaur hybrid, and not, say, a shark/dinosaur hybrid (though I’m sure the Asylum is planning a movie about the latter at this very moment). Hey, maybe it’ll be a human/dinosaur/wolf hybrid, also played by Channing Tatum.
It’s a bit lame that plain old dinosaurs are no longer considered interesting enough for the Jurassic Park franchise. I get that they had to do something new and different this time around, but instead of giving us a totally made-up creature, why not instead come up with a more original premise than “theme park dinosaurs escape and run wild” in the first place?
And let’s not forget that director Colin Trevorrow has only made one film prior to this, a low-key indie romcom with literally one special effects shot in the entire movie. It’s confounding that he’s already graduated up to taking over one of the biggest franchises in history, and all signs are pointing to this being as necessary of an addition to the series as Jurassic Park III.
July 1: Terminator Genisys
There were troublesome signs with this movie from the very start, first and foremost with the casting of Arnold Schwarzenegger, returning to the franchise that made him famous in yet another desperate attempt to regain some semblance of his pre-gubernatorial career. Many assumed he’d be playing the guy whose likeness was used to create the original T-800, which would make a tiny smidgen of sense (and is actually supported by deleted scenes from Rise of the Machines). Instead, it turns out he’s playing a senior citizen Terminator, and per James Cameron himself, Terminators are able to age just like ordinary human beings.
The next sign of trouble was when the studio revealed the dumb spelling of the title, which is presumably a cynical marketing ploy (take an ordinary word like “genesis”, spell it in a stupid way, and now you can trademark it! Brilliant!). I think Terminator Genisys is what happens when the same focus-tested naming rules for dot-com startups get applied to movie titles.
But what really solidified public opinion was the trailer that dropped earlier this month, which makes it obvious that Genisys is little more than a retread of the most memorable moments from both the first and second Terminator films, only done with about a quarter of the energy. Kyle Reese (now played by Jai Courtney) will again travel back to the 1980s, but due to whatever time travel shenanigans the movie plans to pull out of its ass, he’ll find Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) already protected by a senior citizen Terminator, who’s apparently raised her after her parents were killed by a different Terminator, and the movie will feature them on the run from a liquid metal-morphing T-1000 (Byung-hun Lee taking over for Robert Patrick).
This plot synopsis achieves the impossible: it makes Terminator Salvation look better in retrospect, because while that movie was pretty dull, it at least tried to do something slightly different with the concept by setting events in the post-apocalyptic, post-Judgment Day landscape. But Salvation flopped, so they’ve now given up on the future war entirely and are basically remaking the first two films, simultaneously.
At some point, we need to accept that Cameron told all the story there is to tell in this franchise, and just let it go. The first Terminator was a great one-off Outer Limits-type story that miraculously spawned a great sequel, but by now there’s no point in keeping this series on life support and continually trying to recapture the franchise’s glory days.
August 7: The Fantastic Four
Josh Trank’s found-footage superhero movie Chronicle was pretty well received a few years back. It obviously impressed Fox enough to hire Trank to direct their Fantastic Four reboot, which the internet has been dreading ever since. Initially, the casting was the source of most of the disdain. Miles Teller as Reed Richards? No knock on him as an actor, but he looks like he’s barely out of high school. The sullen-looking Kate Mara as the Invisible Woman? Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm? Billy Elliot is playing the Thing? (Obviously, they’re going the mo-cap/CGI character route this time, but it’s still a bizarre choice.)
And while the usual bigoted internet commenters have crawled out from under their rocks to complain about a black actor playing the Human Torch, Michael B. Jordan’s casting is actually the only one that makes sense. His character in Chronicle was similar in a lot of ways to Johnny Storm, and he’s a talented actor, so there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s up to the task.
Yes, having Kate Mara play his sister might give one pause, but it’ll take the movie five minutes (if even that) to establish that one of them was adopted, or that they’re in an interracial Brady Bunch scenario where their parents got remarried and now they’re step-siblings. (Although I wish people would stop claiming they could be biological children of a biracial marriage; the odds of a mixed-race couple having a kid that looks like Mara and another that looks like Jordan are so slim that it’s usually newsworthy; I call this the Jenny and Allan Willis Theory of Recessive Genes, and it really needs to die.)
What’s really concerning is that the film wrapped months ago, and Fox has nothing to show for it; not a trailer, not a teaser, not a poster, not even a picture of any of the actors on the set. Leaked green-screen shots of the Thing and Doctor Doom and an iPhone group photo of the cast posted on Twitter are all the evidence we have that this movie even exists. It suggests a certain lack of confidence on the part of the studio.
In the absence of official details, various aspects of the plot have been dribbling out in interviews. And they’re… not good. Jordan was quoted as saying, “We aren’t looking at this as like, being superheroes. We’re more or less a bunch of kids that had an accident and we have disabilities now that we have to cope with, and try to find a life afterwards – try to be as normal as we can.” Because that’s what we all look for in a summer comic book movie: Superpowers as “disabilities”.
Also, Toby Kebbell, who plays Doctor Doom in the film, has revealed that his version of Doom is actually named “Victor Domashev”, and is a “very anti-social programmer. And on blogging sites, I’m ‘Doom’.” I was certain I’d never see a worse handling of the character of Doctor Doom than whatever Julian McMahon was trying to do in the earlier Fantastic Four movies, but Doom as an anti-social blogger might just prove me wrong.
The latest nail in the coffin of this film is the official synopsis, which reveals the team will be made up of “four young outsiders who teleport to an alternate and dangerous universe, which alters their physical form in shocking ways.” So, no trip to space, and no exposure to cosmic rays. Between this and the casting, it appears they’re actually adapting the Ultimate universe version of the Fantastic Four, where the group is much younger and they get their powers from being transported temporarily to a dimension called the “N-Zone”.
This is not really anything new; The Marvel Cinematic Universe borrows plenty of elements from the Ultimate continuity (see: black Nick Fury), and even Rise of the Silver Surfer used a version of Galactus that was inspired by his Ultimate version. But I said it in 2007 and I’ll say it now: what exactly is the point of adapting a recent reimagining of fictional characters, instead of the original fictional characters that have endured for fifty-plus years?
I never followed their comics that closely, but I’ve always liked the Fantastic Four for their sunnier, more family-oriented vibe. And while I enjoyed Chronicle, this version of the Fantastic Four looks like another wrongheaded attempt to Nolan-ize the source material. I’ll pass.
I’m sure there are many other movies that you’re not excited about, including Ted 2, Ant-Man, Fifty Shades of Grey, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, Fast and Furious 7, the fifth Mission: Impossible movie, London Has Fallen (the sequel to Olympus Has Fallen), or reboots of Poltergeist, Point Break, Friday the 13th (yes, another reboot), and National Lampoon’s Vacation. And if this list were about what I personally am not anticipating, it’d probably include The Force Awakens (do people really think the director of Super 8 and Star Trek Into Darkness has suddenly figured out how to make a great film?).
But no matter which movies you’re most not looking forward to, my sincere advice is to get as much rest as possible over the holidays. Because 2015 is going to be a long year.