Friday, January 1, 2016

2015's Most Overrated Films

Yesterday I dissected the most underrated films of 2015, while today I'm flipping the script and breaking down my most overrated movies of the past year. Similar to my underrated list's criteria, I take into account a film's box office performance, its critical support (via Rotten Tomatoes) and general fan rating (IMDB). I also consider a movie's award season presence as a potential factor as well. So here they are, the 2015 films I found to be most over-hyped by critics and moviegoers alike:

Honorable Mention: The middling biopic, Trumbo, burst onto the scene as a surprising awards season contender with a trio of SAG and a pair of Golden Globe nominations. Creed is a decent, but massively overblown, addition to the Rocky franchise that grossed north of $100 million worldwide and launched Sly Stallone into the Oscar discussion. Finally, the boxing drama, Southpaw, wasn't critically adored enough to crack my top 5, but director Antoine Fuqua keeps trending in the wrong direction with these brutally written story.

Box Office: $110 million - RT: 85% - IMDB: 6.4

First it's important to clarify the distinction between overrated and bad. Most the movies on my list are films I found to be wildly mediocre, Judd Apatow's latest comedic effort, Trainwreck, included. In typical Apatow fashion he extends this less than hilarious comedy way beyond what's necessary. I was pleased with leading star, comedian Amy Schumer's, transition to the big screen. The film was so well-received that it dominated the box office and earned a pair of Golden Globe nominations along the way. Trainwreck is far from a disaster, but still nowhere near the upper echelon comedies we have seen from Apatow in the past. 

Box Office: $63 million - RT: 75% - IMDB: 7.1

As a fan of director Scott Cooper's first two films (Crazy Heart and Out of the Furnace), I fantasized about the lofty possibilities surrounding a gangster-movie collaboration with Johnny Depp. My excitement came to a screeching halt after witnessing Cooper's sloppy and unfocused depiction of famed mob boss, Whitey Bulger. Cooper's obsession with violent death scenes and his determination to find a way to murder almost every character he introduces act as a stranglehold to the film. Black Mass becomes a serviceable platform for Depp to show off his gritty acting chops, but falls apart in almost every other aspect imaginable. Despite being blanked by the Golden Globes, Depp earned a SAG nomination and continues to remain in the Best Actor hunt for the Academy Awards.

#3. Spy

Box Office: $111 million - RT: 93% - IMDB: 7.1

I marvel at how Melissa McCarthy continues to acquire leading roles, but I'm even more speechless when they earn north of $230 million worldwide and attain a 93% approval rating from critics. Spy is a comedy that certainly has its bright spots, mostly in the form of a hysterical supporting turn from action star, Jason Statham, and newbie Miranda Hart, but it also represents a lot more of the same from its main attraction. McCarthy's performance adds nothing more to her limited range and offers very little outside of randomly hitting on an improvised one-liner. But somehow, Spy has still managed to earn a pair of Golden Globe nominations along with copious amounts of acclaim from many critics and moviegoers alike. I'll just keep scratching my head at that one. 

#2. Carol

Box Office: $4 million - RT: 94% - IMDB: 7.7

Don't be fooled by Carol's oddly low box office total, which can minimally be outstretched to $9 million worldwide. This potential awards season juggernaut has held off on its general release in order to maximize its return from both Golden Globe and Oscar notoriety. And as you can see from the film's nearly perfect critical reception, as well as its impressive moviegoer IMDB rating, Carol has been enormously praised by all who have encountered the feature. I, on the other hand, found Carol to be a sluggish snooze-fest that takes an awful long time to tell a bitterly simplistic story. To the movie's credit, however, it is impossible to ignore Cate Blanchett's fine work and Rooney Mara's adequate performance as well. Carol has earned an astounding 5 Golden Globe nominations and a pair of SAG inclusions. You should expect the film's box office numbers to soar and the praises to continue as we get closer to Oscar Sunday, but I still suggest keeping expectations moderately low.

Box Office: $460 million - RT: 74% - IMDB: 7.6

As the Marvel universe continues its widespread expansion, I'm starting to become more and more skeptical of their lofty ambitions. It's hard to argue against a film that amasses $1.4 billion worldwide, but that number alone is what makes Avengers: Age of Ultron my most overrated movie of 2015. Where the franchise's predecessor was an energetic and comical thrill ride, this follow-up feature accumulates more superheroes and takes its action sequences to unsatisfying new heights. I've never been an action junkie, and Age of Ultron takes it far beyond my acceptable levels. Furthermore, the franchise trades in a portion of its comedic genius for a more dramatic approach. This slight formulaic change immerses the audience into sappier storylines and an overall less than enjoyable experience. Finally, even with all of its critical love and gaudy box office totals, Age of Ultron and the rest of the Marvel universe continues to devalue the importance of a worthy adversary. These villains they create are mere shells that add nothing to the features. Marvel needs to revamp their approach and, unfortunately, I don't see that happening.

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