These are movies that I watched in 2019, but did not satisfy my demands and tastes; that doesn’t mean these movies are bad, but it means that I wished I liked them more. Maybe the history of their creative stuff made me expect better results, or the premise, visual style, and/or first impression made me expect something different from what I got. This isn’t a list of movies I hate or think are bad and you shouldn’t watch them (at least for the most part), on the contrary it is a list of movies that could appeal to you, but just have not worked for me.
Luc Besson is an artist I have much admiration and respect for; he has had a go at multiple genres, ideas, and styles, without losing his own sensibilities or having any of his projects feel generic. Anna is not one of his best moments, either as a writer or director; its biggest flaw is that it’s a boring action/spy drama that is severely missing any of the visual or written flair that has come to define Besson’s work. Its good some good set-pieces and a story that is continuously “eventful”, however I expect so much more from him, and given the stellar year movies had, it is ultimately a skippable point in Besson’s filmography.
- Escape Plan 3:
I know what you’re thinking and no, I did not go to see this movie expecting a masterpiece or to pick an easy target to pile on; that doesn’t make the end result less excusable. I went expecting to see a fun, action movie starring Stalone and Dave Bautista (and I guess 50 cent as well), but what I got was an hour and a half of patting between two or three boring set pieces, a predictable and unsatisfying story that doubles as propaganda for Chinese investors, and a movie that has so many bad decisions that I’m tempted to say that it was worth seeing it purely from an academic stand-point. It’s included on this list though, due to the simple fact that these movies are rare now-a-days and it’s an experience I’m actively looking for, yet Escape Plan 3 ended up being a direct-to-DVD sequel that somehow made its way to cinemas and brought nothing with it of substance to show.
I didn’t think anything this year would have felt more disappointing to me than Glass, but here we are! I must admit though, it’s mostly because Glass is more indifferent and forgettable, rather than frustrating or bad; I don’t remember much about the plot or the overall experience, just a few glimpses of bad acting (especially from a completely uninterested Bruce Willis) and cheap-looking sets. I still think that Split is a great movie and, at least, Glass cannot do anything about that; although I had high expectations and anticipation for Glass, after the disappointment of watching it, I really don’t have any feelings beyond that I wanted to like it more. I’m still rooting for Shyamalan and will always be excited to see what he does next, but Glass unfortunately leaves me with the worst feeling a movie can leave you with: Indifference.
If you say the name of Mads Mikkelsen regarding anything, you have piqued my interest. I adore this actor and will be excited for whatever he does, and Polar was the movie he was in this year, which unfortunately was not as good as its lead actor. Polar is a visually interesting, strongly acted, boring movie that only picks up the pace during the final 30 minutes; it has an interesting premise that could allow for a strong drama or exciting action, yet it does neither especially well consistently. It is a Netflix original, so if you want to see for yourself and have a Netflix subscription, you can but I wouldn’t recommend it.
- Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker:
Before we get into TROS, if you liked the latest Star Wars, then I’m glad and envious of you. Furthermore, regardless of what anyone says, TROS is a good movie; my first viewing left me very disappointed and with strong opinions about the quality of the movie, but the 2nd one helped me realize a few things and led me to my own conclusions. First and foremost, Disney are inexcusable for their performance in creating a Star Wars trilogy; it was clearly unplanned, had no format or strategy to speak of, and led themselves in a spot where the last movie of the trilogy was going to disappoint half of the fanbase. Second, I’m in the half of the fanbase that was disappointed with it and that’s fine; I have a ton of great Star Wars to watch and don’t need every movie to be made for me. Having said that, TROS is a needlessly convoluted, endlessly nit-picked, complete tonal-shift that felt desperate and fan-servicing beyond acceptable limits; some characters like Rey and Kylo Ren were given satisfying conclusion to their arcs (not their stories) through frustrating journeys; others, like Finn and Poe were under developed and had hastily created reasons and emotions that made them feel like shallow continuations of their tumultuous journeys. To be fair though, I really liked the audiovisual components of the movie and thought that the action (although not the best of the trilogy) was exciting and well helmed. Maybe I’ll do a full review after some time has passed and I get my hands on the Blu-ray, but for now as someone who really likes 7 and adores 8, episode 9 was a disappointing conclusion.
- Terminator: Dark Fate:
I was, and still am, very conflicted on whether the new Terminator movie is any good; on the one hand it has very strong performances, some decent action (that overuses CGI for my tastes), and modern sensibilities when it comes to the political and societal underpinning themes; on the other hand it makes dumb decisions left and right to the point of irritation, it presents a story that is very underwhelming (especially when considering the “bold” decisions in the beginning), and ultimately doesn’t bring anything new to the franchise. I’m still trying to make up my mind on whether I like it or not, but I’m certain it should have been better and that’s why it’s on this list.
- The Laundromat:
Steven Soderbergh, Meryl Streep, Antonio Banderas, Gary Oldman; what more do you need to be convinced to see a movie?! I love Soderbergh because each movie he has made lately was made because he really wanted to make them and would not allow anything to get in his way; for the Laundromat, his way was not what I wanted to see. Every decision went the way I did not want it to go, yet I much rather watch something that has a clear, artistic vision that is supposed to please some people, rather than a “safe”, “let’s make most people mildly happy”, way of doing things *cough Star Wars*. I hate the ending, the unnecessary twist regarding one of he characters, the consistent 4th wall breaks from characters and their existence in a parallel universe where they exist to deliver exposition and narration, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t enjoy how weird that is, how committed the actors are, and how necessary this movie feels. I didn’t enjoy this movie, and I wanted to like it more, but I don’t wish it changed or for it to have been made differently; I only wish to see more from Soderbergh, Streep, Banderas, and Oldman, in this unadulterated manner and hopefully that will be closer to my tastes.
- The Silence:
When you first see The Silence on your Netflix home screen, you will immediately assume one thing: This is like A quiet place, but not as good. Your assumption would be right, were it not for the fact that “not as good” does not mean very bad, and The Silence is very bad. It is an unfinished, rushed, and woeful rip-off of a much better movie that could have been much better. The changes it makes to A quiet place are actually smart and could have led to an enjoyable ‘slasher’ version of that core concept – “remain silent or die gruesomely”. It has many more characters, a setting that is well populated, it takes place much closer to the ‘apocalypse’, and it has an actual antagonist; I would very much like to see ‘slasher’ A quiet place, but The Silence is a sub-par attempt at that, which is clearly not even finished.
2. Holmes and Watson:
For those who saw this movie in 2018 and think it was released in that year, you are wrong; the release date for this movie in my region was 2019 and this is how I started 2019 in movies. Thank god this movie was not representative of what was to come. Starring one of my favorite comedic duos of all time, Holmes and Watson is an abomination; using comedic sensibilities from the previous decade, spoofing a franchise that had its modern heyday at the start of this decade, it was rightfully panned by both critics and fans as one of the worst movies in recent memory – especially considering the talent that Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly have. There is nothing worse than an unfunny comedy, but the true reason this movie makes number two is that even when these actors are at their worse (when it comes to comedies at least), they still manage to make me laugh and giggle enough to feel like I experienced something worthwhile – maybe not the best they could have done, but good enough. I vividly remember watching this movie and eagerly rooting for the end credits to start playing so I can leave the theater; I bet they had a great time making this movie and, who knows, maybe if it released earlier in the decade and had a few things changed, this could have been good enough. As it released, it is nowhere near good enough.
Here’s something you don’t know about me: I don’t really get attached to IPs. Star Wars just released a disappointing conclusion to one of my favorite franchises, yet after two viewings, I can happily concede that this is a good movie and was simply not made to please me and my sensibilities; Black Mirror is one of my favorite shows, yet when the last season released and did not meet my expectations, I applauded the attempt to bring something new to the series, offered my feedback, and moved on. That’s how I usually react to things not meeting my standards, but Fractured made me have a reaction I can’t really remember if I ever had; written and directed by Brad Anderson (writer and director of The Machinist), Fractured was so disappointing that it made me question the quality of one of my favorite movies of all time to a point where I needed to re-watch it just to make sure I wasn’t going mad. The similarities between the two movies are undeniable, yet the difference of quality is so vast that as I was writing this and Googled Anderson to spell check his name, I still felt the urge to click on his name and make sure he wrote and directed both movies! I’m not going to get into the details of why Fractured is so bad (because I have a case study planned that examines both The Machinist and Fractured, and why one works and the other fails), but just the undeniable notion that Fractured (due to its similarities) may have been a “spiritual sequel” to The Machinist, feels me with incredible sorrow; I do not do this easily, but you should not watch Fractured even if you have a Netflix subscription. There’s nothing here that’s worthwhile or interesting; hopefully that’s not a feeling I’ve left you with for most of the movies on this list, but Fractured should just become Destroyed and not be seen again.