Every year has its share of disappointing movies, and 2023 was no exception. Sometimes films just can’t live up to their hype or even the expectations of the audience. That doesn’t mean that the most disappointing movies of 2023 are also the worst movies of the year. But there is definitely some overlap between the two categories.
Our choices for this year’s most disappointing movies include two superhero bombs, a sci-fi dino downer, Sylvester Stallone’s last action flick, and the final adventure of Indiana Jones.
After Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, perhaps we shouldn’t have had such high expectations for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. But the first three Indiana Jones movies are so great that we wanted Harrison Ford’s iconic hero to get the memorable sendoff that he deserved. Instead, Dial of Destiny was merely OK — and it’s probably the best film on this list. Yet, compared to its predecessors, it doesn’t measure up.
There are definitely some parts of this sequel that are very good, including the extended prologue that digitally de-ages Ford to portray Indiana Jones in his prime near the end of World War II. The Dial of Destiny itself didn’t really capture the imagination in the way that the Holy Grail and the Ark of the Covenant did in the older movies. Indy’s goddaughter, Helena Shaw (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), is an improvement over his son from the previous movie, yet somehow, this adventure just didn’t have a lot of life in it.
Watch Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny on Disney+.
Is there a more annoying on-screen duo than the two Ezra Millers in The Flash? It wasn’t a shock that Miller’s persona was so grating, especially when doubled. Miller’s Flash was already a chore to watch in Justice League. But no less than James Gunn declared that The Flash was the greatest superhero movie ever. Spoiler alert: No, it wasn’t. In fact, far from it.
When The Flash TV series does a better job of adapting the Flashpoint storyline, then there’s a $200 million-plus problem. Michael Keaton and Sasha Calle did the best they could as Batman and Supergirl, respectively, while Gal Gadot and Ben Affleck were very good in their short cameos. But there’s no getting away from the fact that the story was a colossal dud and that the much-hyped cameos near the end of the film were superfluous at best — and very disrespectful to deceased actors at worst.
Watch The Flash on Max.
How do you make fighting dinosaurs boring? Casting Adam Driver as one of the only leads did the trick in 65. Driver is not a bad actor, but he’s wasn’t able to carry a movie like this largely on his own. Ariana Greenblatt (who had a great turn as young Ahsoka on Ahsoka) is the only foil that Driver has to play off of as Koa, the other survivor of the crash that brought them to planet Earth millions of years in the past.
The film raises questions that it never bothers to answer. Like why was Driver essentially running a space Uber? All of that nonsense could have been overlooked if 65 delivered some awesome dinosaur action. Instead, it was a tedious slog.
Watch 65 on Netflix.
None of The Expendables movies have been particular great, but Expend4bles was just a gigantic letdown. This was supposed to be a grand sendoff for Sylvester Stallone’s action career, but his character, Barney Ross, is barely in it. Jason Statham’s Lee Christmas isn’t bad as a lead character, but the rest of the team wasn’t very engaging.
The story for the film could have easily been written in the ’80s, as it’s the standard “prevent a madman from starting World War III” plot that we’ve seen so many times before. If the action had been better, no one would complain about the story or the lackluster characters. But when an Expendables movie can’t even deliver exciting action sequences, then there’s a major problem. And it’s time to put this franchise to sleep, because it’s way past the bedtime of its stars.
Rent or buy Expend4bles on Prime Video and other digital outlets.
We can’t let Marvel slide by after the terrible year it had at the box office. The reason why The Marvels isn’t on this list is because we kind of expected to be disappointed by that one. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania was such a step down in quality from the first two films that it earned a place on this list. All of the humor and heart from the two previous movies were abandoned in favor of cheap gags and an absolutely horrendous script by a Rick and Morty veteran.
Even if Johnathan Majors hadn’t been exiled from Marvel Studios following his conviction for reckless assault and harassment, Quantumania bungled Kang’s official first full-length appearance by letting Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) defeat a guy who is supposedly an Avengers-level threat. How can we take Kang seriously when Marvel’s most comedic character already took out one of this villain’s most prominent variants?
It’s also worth noting that audiences in the U.S. abandoned Quantumania after its opening weekend and it limped to a $214.5 million domestic total, which was less than Ant-Man and the Wasp‘s $216.6 million in 2018. There’s a simple solution for this, Marvel: make better movies.
Watch Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania on Disney+.
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