Friday, December 13, 2013

YEAR IN REVIEW: High hopes become big jokes in 2013

 As a pop culture enthusiast, I have a list of things I look forward to each year.

Unfortunately, because I have such high expectations, it’s inevitable that some things won’t meet those expectations.

We’re not just talking movies here. We’re talking television and books, as well.

So, since it’s fun to do “best of” lists, I thought I’d tackle the year’s biggest disappointments, too.

10. The Wolverine: Oh, Hugh Jackman, how I love you. And where did I fall in love with you? That X2 – was phenomenal. All the characters hit their stride and Jackman’s Wolverine again stole the show. Then, there was X-Men: The Last Stand, which was as awful as X2 was good. Then came Wolverine – an absolute travesty of a movie. X-Men: Origins was a nice rebound – and the trailer for the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past looks phenomenal. So, I had middling hopes for The Wolverine. I’m not going to lie, the trailer for the flick worried me. The film was so much worse, though. Jackman is still fun to watch, but his “star-crossed” love with Jean Grey always rings false and the faceless horde of villains in this thing doesn’t exactly inspire dread. Just blech.
first X-Men movie. I’m not going to pretend that the X-Men universe was stellar until this installment came along. The first movie was okay. It wasn’t terrific and it wasn’t terrible. It introduced us to the world, though, and it served its purpose. The second movie –

9. Under the Dome: The source material for this is somewhat confusing. Meaning? I loved 75 percent of the book and hated the end. I was pretty sure that was how I would feel about the show over the course of its entire run – but the statement covers the first season, too. The beginning of this summer series had a lot of promise – and an intriguing cast. Unfortunately, about 2/3 of the way through the first season things started getting weird – and not in a fun way. I like the idea of people turning on each other in a crisis – but this show took it to new and unbelievable levels. The main villain is just one step away from twirling a mustache, quite frankly. It’s a little over the top.

8. The Great Gatsby: On paper, this looked like a home run. Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, The Great Gatsby is a commentary on decadence – and the movie did touch on that – but that central message seemed to get lost somewhere. Tobey Maguire and Baz Luhrmann. How could this go wrong? It didn’t exactly go wrong. The soundtrack was phenomenal and the cinematography was breathtaking. There were a few issues with presentation, though. All of the actors involved with this are powerhouses, and yet things still felt rushed and forced.

7. The Following: Kevin Bacon and serial killers? I’m so there. This FOX genre gem started with a bang – and an interesting conceit. Unfortunately, things swung to the absurd a lot quicker than they had any right to. While Bacon was solid, and the supporting cast was (mostly) engaging, the sheer size of the cult and the contrived nature of the things they managed to pull off was totally unbelievable. There was no plot hole on this show that couldn't be solved by gunning down a bunch of people. This was a show that was supposed to be rooted in realism – so why did it go to the fantastical every week?

6. Hostages: This had a stellar cast and an interesting premise. It was also a limited-run series, so
fans could tune in and not have to give up years to invest in the series. It should have been a winner. Instead, the show debuted to low ratings – which have continued to plummet – and the quality of the plot is mired down by convoluted dialogue and action sequences. I think limited-run series are the way to go in the future for a lot of networks, they just have to pick different source material.

5. The Lone Ranger: I honestly don’t know how anyone thought this was a good idea. Johnny Depp is fantastic in just about everything he does. He still needs something to work with, though. The Lone Ranger was supposed to be Disney’s answer to the Pirates of the Caribbean. A movie where the Lone Ranger wasn’t even the main hero – but Tonto was. In addition to being poorly acted, the movie was also poorly plotted and the script made very little sense. Just an all around misfire.

4. Once Upon a Time: This show is starting to remind me of Heroes. One fantastic first-season arc
and then . . . several seasons of disappointment. The first season of this show was stellar, finishing with a nice twist on true love’s kiss and a hint of the mayhem to come. The second season veered into mediocrity pretty quickly – separating Emma and Snow early on and then dragging out their story in the Enchanted Forest for far too long. Instead of learning from that, the show runners made things worse with the longest (and dullest) Neverland arc known to man. Who knew Peter Pan could be so boring? Then there’s that whole uncomfortable triangle thing. If Emma hooks up with Hook, that’s like dating her father-in-law and son’s step-grandfather. It’s just all kinds of icky.

3. Takedown Twenty: Oh, Janet Evanovich, why have you ruined one of my favorite literary characters? I used to love to visit Stephanie Plum’s world, spend time with her friends, laugh at her grandmother and cringe at her parental disapproval. How Evanovich managed to turn this beloved franchise into total trash so quickly is a mystery to me. Somewhere around book 12, though, Stephanie not only stopped growing as a character, but she started regressing, too. There’s been some online chatter about ghost writers – and I’m starting to believe it. The prose just isn’t the same, and the character is almost hateful now instead of fun. Evanovich, for the love of all that is holy, have Stephanie pick a suitor and end the series. You’re just killing it slowly at this point. I realize this is your cash cow, but you look like a sellout that doesn’t care about the quality of a book anymore. If you’re comfortable with that, fine. I’m not comfortable giving you money anymore, though.

2. Man of Steel: After the abysmal Superman Returns, I think everyone was hoping this movie
would somehow revitalize the franchise. It didn’t. Between ninja Jor-El and Clark watching his father die without doing a thing – just to protect his secret – the movie just didn’t jibe. You can’t argue with the bulk of the performances in the flick. After the blandness that was Brandon Routh and Kate Bosworth, Henry Cavill and Amy Adams seemed like they were doing award-winning Shakespeare. There was still a hollowness to the movie that turned off a lot of people. Superman is supposed to be a hero for the masses, so I have no idea why anyone would try to portray him as a selfish figure. Now, from the sounds of it, they’re trying to pair Superman with a bunch of other DC characters in 2015 – a move that has a lot of diehard fans scratching their heads. This doesn’t look good for the franchise.

1. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: This was supposed to be a slam dunk. Joss Whedon was responsible for some of the best television series ever. He had just directed one of the best super hero movies ever a year before – and this show as an offshoot of that brand. So, how did things go so wrong? It’s pretty simple. First off, Whedon cast attractive people instead of talented people. The majority of this cast is made up of no-talent pretty boys (and girls) that just sit there and mug for the camera and show no emotional depth. In addition, the budget – which is still huge for television standards – cannot stand up to movie standards, so everything looks like it’s being done on the cheap. There’s no emotional value to the characters so there’s no emotional component to the story. It’s just a big fail all around. The show just hit an all-time low in ratings last week and it’s now actually losing its time slot to The Biggest Loser. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Honorable mentions go to:

Undead and Unsure: I fell in love with MaryJanice Davidson’s Undead series a few years ago. I
related to the scatter-brained heroine and her love of shoes. She had a foul mouth and a borderline narcissistic personality. Still, despite all that, Queen Betsy did the right thing and was loyal to her friends. Unfortunately, this series has went on far too long. Betsy is no longer endearing and what passes for plot in these books anymore isn’t enough to fuel a short story. Queen Betsy needs to retire.

Super Fun Night: Rebel Wilson is funny. This show is not. Whomever thought the dialogue in this thing was funny needs to be shown something that’s actually funny for comparison’s sake.

R.I.P.D.: Jeff Bridges is awesome. Ryan Reynolds is not. The script wasn’t great either.

Dexter: The show was up and down during its run, but it will go down in history as boasting one of the worst finales in television history. That was not a good way to go.

Pacific Rim: Giant robots should have been cool. Instead, it was underwhelming. Fun cast, though.

After Earth: Can we all just agree that M. Night Shyamalan was a one-trick pony and bar him from directing movies? Thanks.

What do you think? What was this year’s biggest disappointment?


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home