The Biggest Disappointments In Movies And TV Of 2018
What were the biggest letdowns of the year?
2018 was a fantastic year for movies and TV. This is the year that gave us Infinity War, Black Panther, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and that's just looking at some of the good Marvel movies released this year. On the TV side, we got The Haunting of Hill House, Netflix's weird sci-fi show Maniac, and many more instant classics.
But that pendulum swings the other way, too. For all the great entertainment in 2018, there was also plenty that didn't live up to the standards we expected. These were movies and shows that we were excited for--however tentatively--and that turned out to be huge letdowns.
These were the biggest disappointments in entertainment of 2018. You may not agree with our choices, and that's what the comments section below is for. Drop us a note and tell us what disappointed you this year, then check out some of our other end-of-year coverage.
1. Jessica Jones Season 2
The first season of Netflix and Marvel's Jessica Jones was easily one of the best examples of the collaboration between the streaming and comics giants, possibly even the best of all these shows. We were excited about Season 2, right up until the point we actually watched it.
Trying to do a Marvel superhero story without an actual villain is a bold idea that could have paid off. Unfortunately, it simply didn't in this case. The season's main plotline and massive twist was ruined by bad casting--Janet McTeer and Krysten Ritter had absolutely zero chemistry as alleged family members. And every storyline was a total bore. Unlike the other Marvel/Netflix shows, Jessica Jones hasn't been canceled yet, but that will likely change soon. -- Mike Rougeau
2. American Horror Story Apocalypse
The eighth season of American Horror Story had a great premise: Not only was it the end of the world, but it also promised to finally tie events from the show's previous seasons together, from the original Murder House to Coven and beyond. It even got off to a promising start, as the first couple of episodes of Apocalypse set up plenty of mysteries we couldn't wait to learn the answers to.
But after those opening episodes, Apocalypse took a wrong turn. Yes, it felt like a fun twist at the time, but the following episodes proved disappointing week after week. The show started providing answers, but they weren't the ones we wanted. It spent a half dozen episodes in flashbacks--way too long when all the action we wanted to get back to was in the present. By the time Roseanne star Sandra Bernhard joined the cast for a terribly cheesy turn as a Satanic cult leader, I was done with this season of American Horror Story. -- Mike Rougeau
Venom is a movie that feels like it was written in 1998 by a 7-year-old, then buried in a time capsule, unearthed 19 years later, and made into a movie without a single revision to the draft. It is truly a movie from another time, and all that's missing is someone doing a kickflip over a set of steps while Korn plays in the background. From Tom Hardy's accent choices, to the movie turning into an over-the-top action flick where the final battle is filled with muddied CG, those who were looking for a great Sony spin-off movie found themselves a bit disappointed, even though this movie made $800 million, worldwide.
As for the story, it went a number of directions, many of which could have been a good movie of their own. Eddie Brock working as a journalist and ruining his girlfriend's career: I'm into that story. Brock trying to rebuild his life and take down the Life Foundation: I'm into that story. Brock losing his mind when the Venom symbiote is taking over, creating a horror aesthetic: I'm also into that story. Wacky buddy cop movie starring Eddie Brock as the fall guy covered in black oil that talks funny and wants to eat livers: You've lost me entirely, Venom. The weird comedic choices this movie made killed it for so many viewers. Why does Venom need comedy? It doesn't.
However, with the announcement of the home release of the movie, fans of the Venom character were desperately hoping for the rated-R cut of the movie. However, upon its release, fans got three deleted scenes, some behind-the-scenes footage, and that's about it. As much as we wanted an extended scene of Woody Harrelson in a red wig, this wasn't what the people wanted to see. Venom is one of the few movies in 2018 that disappointed people twice. -- Mat Elfring
4. The Predator
The original Predator is unquestionably an '80s classic--it combined sci-fi horror thrills and exciting action, and helped make Arnold Schwarzenegger one of the biggest stars in the world. But unlike the Alien or Terminator series, the quality drop from that first movie was fast, and none of the following films were anywhere near as good as the first. So expectations for a new Predator movie in 2018 should not have been high. But the fact that Shane Black was on board to write and direct suddenly raised hopes that he might actually deliver something to equal the first movie. What would the writer of Lethal Weapon and the director of Iron Man 3 do with this series?
Unfortunately, as it turns out, not very much. The Predator was just as mediocre as its predecessors, and was badly hurt by extensive reshoots and incoherent editing, as well as the controversy about certain casting choices that Black had made. The Predator has its moments--the cast is good, there are some funny scenes, and some of the early action is exciting. But the film gets worse as it continues, and emerges as what we should have guessed it would be all along--yet another not-very-good Predator movie. Time to skin this franchise and hang it upside-down for good. -- Dan Auty
5. Westworld Season 2
Westworld Season 1 was easily one of the best seasons of sci-fi TV ever, which made our hype levels for Season 2 off the charts--maybe even a little too high. Maybe there's a parallel universe where Westworld Season 2 lived up to our expectations, but that proved impossible in this one.
Where Season 1 was a carefully plotted, well-paced exploration of well-trod science fiction themes, Season 2 was a total mess in comparison. The tone was uniformly grim, the characters we used to like were unrecognizable, the plot was muddled beyond comprehension, and important details were withheld for no reason other than to string viewers along. The show's creators must have been mad at the Redditors who guessed all the twists in Season 1, because Season 2 seemed designed mostly to befuddle the show's most dedicated fans. By the time it reached its conclusion, we didn't want to know the answers anymore--we just wanted it to be over. -- Mike Rougeau
6. Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald
In The Crimes of Grindelwald's third scene, a character who we never learn anything about despite her constant presence throughout the entire movie murders a toddler, for no reason, just off screen. Even Michael Myers, famed slasher movie villain of the Halloween series, didn't sink that low, although you could tell in the most recent one that he considered it for a moment.
This moment perfectly sets the tone for the rest of this movie: a grim, overly dramatic, mean-spirited entry into the Harry Potter universe. Fantastic Beasts 2 can accurately be described as a loosely connected series of mostly sequential events, though it's often unclear how it gets from one scene to the next or why the characters do any of the things they do. Often, the next plot point just happens to appear wherever the characters already are, seemingly to save the filmmakers the trouble of establishing a sense of time or space. The movie also abandons almost every rule we know about magical spells, places, and people, trading the series' long-established internal logic and consistency for large, ugly, confusing CG set pieces, like magical blue fire that inexplicably burns some people and not others, and eventually turns into several large dragons that attempt to destroy Paris.
Maybe worst of all, The Crimes of Grindelwald has no sense of wonder at its own magical world. Millions fell in love with Harry Potter because the wizarding world felt like a place you'd want to live, despite its bad elements. Inhabiting this movie's magical alternate history for a couple of hours will just make you want to get obliviated so you can forget the whole thing. -- Mike Rougeau
7. The Cloverfield Paradox
The Cloverfield Paradox starts out riffing on the early structure of movies like Alien and The Thing, with some cursory efforts to establish personalities and relationships for its half dozen or so characters. They're all basically interchangeable by the end, and you'll be hard pressed to remember most of their names by the time the credits roll. But the movie really starts to fall apart once the crew activate the particle accelerator--a poorly explained attempt to solve an energy crisis back on Earth--and find themselves suddenly staring at a star-filled void where the Earth used to be.
There are some memorable moments early on, like when a mysterious stranger arrives on the station by apparently teleporting into the interior of a wall, wires and power conduits spliced through her hands and legs like vines that grew through her. The movie's few moments of body horror--like another scene involving a character's eyeball--are its high points. But The Cloverfield Paradox quickly devolves into total camp nonsense from there on out, and it never recovers any of its early poise. After 10 Cloverfield Lane, we were excited to see where the Cloverfield universe would expand next, but no longer. -- Mike Rougeau
From Netflix and Duncan Jones, Mute promised to be a return to form for the director and writer behind the instant classic 2009 mind-bender Moon (and, more recently, the less-than-classic Warcraft). Unfortunately, Mute turned out to be a cartoonish, nonsensical, tone-deaf, derivative, outrageously awful nightmare without a single redeeming quality.
Here's a small sampling of actual lines from this movie, all from relatively early on since the entire thing is like this and at a certain point you have to stop transcribing every single thing that every single character says:
- "That's a real sexy hood ornament you've got dancing up there tonight."
- "If my mom tried to stop me talking, I would f*** her up. And she's in a wheelchair."
- "He doesn't need words. He's kind. Why wouldn't I love him?"
- "School girls, babe. Itty bitty titties and smooth little p***ies. Then they grow up."
That last is said with a big sigh by Justin Theroux's character, a pediatric surgeon who's also a pedophile. The line is accompanied by an actual upskirt shot of a nearby school girl, the camera lingering on her behind as she bends over to pick up a bowling ball. Do I really need to describe any more of this movie? -- Mike Rougeau
9. A Wrinkle in Time
A young scientist disappears, leaving behind a wife and two kids. Years later, his daughter embarks on a magical journey--with the help of some celestial fairy godmothers--to rescue him from the far reaches of outer space. That's the makings of a fantastic fantasy story, especially considering the impact and cultural importance of the 1962 Madeleine L'Engle novel on which A Wrinkle in Time is based. But it winds up being wasted potential.
But A Wrinkle In Time turned out to be a disaster of galactic proportions, a two-hour jumble that sometimes borders on incoherent while striving for emotional greatness. It's unabashed and unwavering in its conviction that it has Something Important To Say, and granted, its heart is in the right place. But without a single real moment of levity or self-awareness, A Wrinkle In Time is just self-serious and noisy. Even fairy tales need to follow some internal logic and rules, and A Wrinkle in Time has none. It's all fluff, zero substance, and a total waste of time. -- Mike Rougeau
10. Pacific Rim Uprising
There was something magical about the original Pacific Rim's giant monster battles, glossy, rain-slicked colors, and seemingly effortless world-building. It's possible the sequel never stood a chance at living up to that, especially since visionary director Guillermo del Toro chose to focus on The Shape of Water, which won the best picture Oscar for 2017, instead of returning to direct Pacific Rim Uprising. And sure enough, Uprising was a disappointment.
Most of all, Pacific Rim: Uprising is just confusing. If you haven't seen the original, it's unlikely much in this sequel will make sense. Concepts like Drift--the way Jaeger pilots mentally link with one another--are poorly explained, despite this movie spending plenty of time attempting to recap and revisit past events. And if you did like the first Pacific Rim, you'll likely wonder what happened to all the distinctive side characters, the stylish action, and the flashy aesthetic. Pacific Rim: Uprising might have seemed like a pretty good giant monster movie if it didn't have to live up to the gigantically cool original, but unfortunately, it simply can't escape its predecessor's massive shadow. -- Mike Rougeau
11. Solo: A Star Wars Story
Solo: A Star Wars Story made nearly $400 million at the box office. But in the franchise era, when film companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars to make hundreds of millions more, this was considered a box office flop, especially against the film's $250 million budget.
Yes, Solo was poorly marketed; it came out five months after The Last Jedi, which prevented it from building steam. But Solo's failure also confirmed a problem that was present in the prequel trilogy and present in Rogue One: We do not need answers and backstories to the most granular details of the original trilogy. They're better left to the imagination.
We don't need 30 minutes of CGI to explain why the Kessel Run is important. We don't need to learn how Han got his dice, or how Han got his blaster. These things lose their mystery and their specialness when they're over explained, and they cheapen rather than enrich the source material. Nostalgia is a poor substitute for narrative, as Solo unfortunately demonstrated. -- Kevin Wong
12. Game Over, Man
Game Over, Man is a sobering Netflix moment. In theory, creators getting creative freedom on a streaming platform like Netflix is a very cool idea. However, as Game Over, Man shows, some creators might be better off with someone holding the reigns just a bit. This movie from the guys behind Comedy Central's Workaholics was a major letdown as a Workaholics fan.
It's as if there was nobody there to tell them that maybe they were going too far or relying on too much graphic and shock humor for their film to actually connect. Instead of being a funny spiritual successor to Workaholics, Game Over, Man includes a scene of a guy's face getting cut by a meat slicer and a surprising amount of unnecessary nudity that serves no real purpose. If this is the kind of governance Netflix plans to use on all of their creative talent, the first show Ryan Murphy does for the streaming service is going to be absolutely unhinged. -- Chris E. Hayner
13. Super Troopers 2
17 years after Super Troopers was unleashed upon the world, fans of the original got a sequel. In the latest romp, the boys of the highway patrol have a new job, working in a formerly Canadian town that is now part of the United States, while the town transitions from Canadian to American. The movie isn't bad by any means. It has its funny moments--and some of the jokes about Canadians and Americans are very, very funny. Really, this whole movie is about putting the cast in silly situations, so we can all share a laugh together, which is exactly what happens.
However, it's a bit more of the same. Both Super Troopers and Super Troopers 2's stories revolve around ending drug rings, and we just saw a very poor version of this story in 2017 with the Baywatch movie. It's a story that's been done to death and by the time Super Troopers 2 rolled around, it didn't do the solid comedic writing any justice. It became a paint-by-numbers plot. It's even a bit more of a bummer when you learn the original script for Super Troopers 2 had the cast playing their fathers in the '70s, which sounds like a much more entertaining story. At the end of the day, Super Troopers 2 is a fine movie for folks wanting to watch something under the influence of narcotics, but it just doesn't live up to how good the original movie was. -- Mat Elfring
14. Riverdale Season 2
The second season of Riverdale is a cautionary tale for most TV shows that find massive audiences in their first season. Season 1 of the Archie Comics adaptation was 13 episodes jam-packed with weird, interesting, and dark storylines that made us insanely interested in these characters. Season 2, on the other hand, was a mish mash of nonsense as characters lost their way--or changed their personalities entirely--to service a disjointed main plot that changed halfway through the season, only to return to the mystery again toward the end for some reason.
Perhaps the biggest issue with Riverdale is its episode order. The first season's 13 episodes were perfect. It forced the writers to contain their entire season in a small capsule. When Season 2 expanded to 22 episodes, the show kept its breakneck pace and introduced even more story elements that were just confusing. We went from trying to figure out who the Black Hood was to the arrival of Hiram Lodge and Archie joining the mafia, for some reason. Thankfully, Season 3 seems to be getting back on track, at least a little bit. However, Season 2 left a terrible taste in our mouths. -- Chris E. Hayner
15. WWE in General
The year started off well; there was a wonderful Royal Rumble, followed by a fantastic Wrestlemania. But history will remember 2018 as the year that WWE got caught with their pants down. They put dollars over ethics with their ongoing Saudi Arabia partnership. And when their top star, Roman Reigns, relinquished the Universal Championship to fight a recurring battle with leukemia (get well soon, Big Dog), WWE hit the panic button and put the belt back on Brock Lesnar, a part-time, rarely-seen-on-TV champion. This is what happens when you're too singularly focused on a single wrestler, to the rest of the roster's detriment. No one is ready to step up.
Smackdown is consistent. Developmental league NXT remains consistently brilliant. And the women's roster, with Becky Lynch and Ronda Rousey at the forefront, is firing on all cylinders; they'll probably main event Wrestlemania in 2019.
But across the board, the men's division needs better writers and more compelling reasons to fight one another. Monday Night Raw, in particular, is going through a rough patch, running an "evil Authority" playbook that the company has copied, ad nauseam, since 1998. The ring work is phenomenal -- better than it's ever been -- but the narrative stakes feel low. And these performers, who risk their lives for our entertainment, deserve better. -- Kevin Wong