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 were 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 let-downs.
Here is the list of 15 shows and films that did not live up to the expectations of the viewers and were somewhat big – or small – disappointments.
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.
Well, 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 as 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 cancelled yet, but we hope that will likely change soon.
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 and the all the actions we wanted came to long after. 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. Weren’t you?
Seeing a Marvel movie on the list is really surprising. Even I was while writing. But, it happened. 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 kick flip 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: it’s okay. Brock trying to rebuild his life and take down the Life Foundation: even it is okay. Brock losing his mind when the Venom symbiont is taking over, creating a horror aesthetic: it is okay too. Wacky buddy cop movie starring Eddie Brock as the fall guy covered in black oil that talks funny and wants to eat livers: this is not okay, Venom. The weird comedic choices this movie made killed it for so many viewers. Why does Venom need comedy?
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.
4. The Predator
The original Predator is unquestionably an ‘80s classic as 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.
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. Right?
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. 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.
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.
8. Pacific Rim Uprising
There was something magical about the original Pacific Rim’s giant monster battles, glossy, rain-slicked colours, 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.
9. 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.
10. WWE (All Rosters)
The year started off well for the WWE as 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 leukaemia, 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. At least they should.
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.
These were the biggest disappointments in the entertainment of 2018. I know not all shows and films on the list are bad – at least according to many of you – but these lacked something and hence are on the list. Think yourself