What was the most disappointing movie, comic, game, TV show of 2015? Those (and more) are amongst the 10 things we expected great things from that failed us greatly last year.
There’s a lot to love about what happened in the pop-culture landscape in 2015; thanks to the increased outputs from the likes of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, the TV landscape has never looked better. Both Mad Max and Star Wars’ highly anticipated revivals managed to knock it out of the park, and all of us here at Laser Time have added a swath of new shows (like Talking Simpsons) and weekly commentaries to keep up with all of the wondrous content.
With so many epic triumphs on screens big and small throughout last year, a few famous flubs kept the year from achieving pop culture perfection. In these rare cases, some sure-fire shows, games, movies, and other elements of entertainment ended up falling completely flat. Read on as we grouse about these less-than-stellar events of the last year and celebrate the fact that they won’t bother us again in 2016.
Avengers: Age of Ultron Ends Marvel’s Cinematic Winning Streak
For lack of a better metaphor, The Avengers is basically the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Super Bowl. There are smaller, yet very important skirmishes that occur throughout the year, but it all leads up to The Big Game. And in the case of the Avengers movies, it only happens every three years. But there even more fireworks and dudes in costumes!
If you’ve listened to Cape Crisis, (our comic book podcast, and you should be listening) you know Brett has a huge problem with the portrayal of Ultron and so do many of you. While I still think Age of Ultron makes for an overall fun flick, and I even like Spader-tron at times, you can’t really argue that Ultron failed to live up to the reputation of The Avengers’ greatest villain. But that’s just the tip of the underwhelming iceberg.
Part of the reason Age of Ultron didn’t live up to expectations, is due to the expectations set up by Marvel itself. For one, the stellar crop of 2014 Marvel flicks (Captain America: Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy) was a tough act to follow. More importantly, previous MCU films all contained subtle building blocks that paved the road to 2012’s The Avengers, where the payoff was the formation of said supergroup. Other than a post-credits sequence in Winter Soldier, almost nothing that occurred in any of the previous three years worth of Marvel’s films had any impact on Age of Ultron, and you may’ve even missed the disposal of Strucker if you opted to pee after Winter Soldier. What we were left with was a blindingly fast movie with several very disjointed scenes, that sets up way more than it pays off.
I completely agree that Age of Ultron was too big for its own good, but what makes it all the more tragic is how damn well Marvel worked on a much smaller scale during 2015. While I liked Age of Ultron a bit I loved the small-screen interpretations of Agent Carter, Daredevil, and Jessica Jones. I might’ve even enjoyed Ant-Man more, but of course, that has a lot to do with the expectations set by a meddling Marvel that drove away original leader Edgar Wright. And like that movie, we saw Joss Whedon walking away from the Avengers franchise while publicly stating his dissatisfaction with studio interference. Here’s hoping Marvel’s treating those Russo brothers well! – Chris Antista
The Muppets TV Return Raises a Stink
In my opinion, a lot of The Muppets’ issues their recent small-screen foray can be simply filed under “first season woes.” However, these are characters that were established almost forty years ago, so I totally understand fans’ impatience. The only true apt comparison I can think of is another comeback that failed to resonate; The Looney Tunes Show, another oddball combination of famously manic characters in history and a traditional sitcom premise. Like The Muppets, it wasn’t bad, even has a few shining moments, but it was weird, and admittedly somewhat cringeworthy to see some of the most beloved characters struggle with milquetoast material other shows could probably skate by for multiple seasons on.
While I’m not over the moon with ABC’s new Muppets sitcom, I’m a little more disappointed in the reaction to the show than the program itself. Watchdog groups deemed it “unsuitable for family viewing” and began boycotting the show before it even aired over preconceived adult themes (i.e. Miss Piggy lusting after Nathan Fillion). Not to get off on a rant here, but one of Jim Henson’s first pilots was called “Sex and Violence,” most of Kermit’s original talk show appearances ended with him exploding, and The Muppet Show’s original run wasn’t a kid’s show… it was for everyone! Which makes it all the more tragic that even the more sane critics are are using words like “terrible” and “travesty” to describe it. My 64-year-old mother even hates it. Seriously? The Muppets may fall a tad short of the must-watch show I was hoping for, but what spoiled television universe are you living where it’s the worst thing on the air? From the the perspective of a discerning viewer trying to avoid a minefield of withered multi-cam sitcoms, CSI/NCIS spin-offs and reality-based singing competitions that continue to dominate the ratings, The Muppets is very much in the upper echelon of network entertainment.
I’ve quite enjoyed a lot of it, especially the reemergence of Scooter as a front and center standout character. So while the much-maligned split between Kermit and Piggy hasn’t hit anything close to the absurdist comedic heights the Muppets probably should’ve, it’s been pretty fucking interesting, if not kinda compelling. But yes, even though I’m happy it’s being slightly retooled, the cacophony of alleged Muppet fans rooting for it to fail is every bit as bizarre as it is unwarranted. Either way, ABC stuck with Agents of Shield through a rocky first season, and I sincerely hope The Muppets is a valuable enough commodity to Disney to give it some televised gestation time. – Chris Antista
Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5 Can’t Land Its Return
What a sad, sad tale. Tony Hawk’s glory days are long gone, but many of us old school gamers were willing to take his Pro Skater franchise for one last ride (as long as it didn’t involve a motion-controlled plastic skateboard) It’s not as if expectations were sky high, but the name alone, Tony Hawk FIVE, implied an simple jaunt through warm familiarity. That title seemingly promised a return to a time before off-board goals, Bam Margera-infused plots, and unrefined analog gimmickry. Even if the series couldn’t be the blockbuster it once was, perhaps the Tony Hawk series could undo a decade’s worth of unwanted open-worlds and sloppy implementations that go hand-and-hand with annual game iterations, and maybe (just maybe) restore its legacy by returning to the simplicity of its trick n’ score core?! Tony Hawk 5 had one mission: Be as good as the PlayStation 1 games. Somehow, it failed at that.
In addition to an enormous Day 1 patch that dwarfed the game install size, Tony Hawk 5 was a glitch-ridden pigsty and landed with a thud. A confusing new, poorly explained Slam feature muddied the tried and true controls, and a needlessly implemented always-online lobby structure made loading the tiny skateparks and the accompanying micro-goals an outrageously long slog. I can sympathize with those issues since they tried to break new ground, but the fact remains Tony Hawk 5 crashed for me more than any console game of this generation. As someone who has enjoyed what many consider the worst Tony Hawk games, my expectations were so goddamned low, yet THPS5 still failed to meet them on almost every conceivable level. However, this crap cloud might have a silver lining, thanks to a recently released patch. However, for a franchise that’s been flailing for over a half-decade, it’s definitely too little, too late. – Chris Antista
Zelda Tri Force Heroes Is Link’s Worst Game In Years
There are few things in the universe I look forward to more than a new Zelda game. And thanks to portable games and HD rereleases, it’s become increasingly rare that I have to go more than a year without some Hyrulian adventure to sink my teeth into. And *item fanfare* was I excited to know I’d have a new Zelda game to play during my trip back home for the holidays. Zelda’s one of those franchises I don’t research before purchase; I bought Tri Force Heroes the nanosecond it became available. Unfortunately, I haven’t regretted buying something with the words “The Legend of Zelda” on the cover this much since that DVD set of the Super Mario Bros. Super Show cartoons where Link uses Steve Martin’s catchphrase.
For all the things Nintendo does well, to base an entire Zelda game around what it does worst is absolutely infuriating. There’s a germ of a brilliant idea here (three players working together to unlock treasure and new powers) but it’s all based exclusively around online mulitplayer, a field Nintendo has shown an almost defiant ineptitude for over the last decade. Smash Bros fans know the pain of ceaseless failed connections followed by bizarro error numbers, so now imagine that came with even more penalties beyond your control (like lost time and loot). Want to play alone? Tough titties! You have to play as ALL THREE players, one at a time, making for a boring game of chess set a peppy overworld theme. To play the game “correctly” requires three players, but Nintendo’s online infrastructure remains a cruel joke, and I needn’t go into the ever-increasing rarity of finding actual human beings willing to link up locally and in person. The point is I tried and it failed more than it works, and you will most likely remain forever punished for not playing with two others over a crippled internet infrastructure where co-op partners lack all but the most basic ability to communicate. *sigh*… That Tri Force Heroes is the worst Zelda game since the CD-i is enough of a bummer, but the fact that this followed up 2013’s outrageously excellent Link Between Worlds makes it a situation worth sobbing over. Excuse me… *sniff* – Chris Antista
iPhone 6S Doesn’t Fix Much
I’ve been more than happy with being on Apple’s “S cycle” for almost a decade. Let those silly Macheads camp out for the big numbered upgrades, I say! Those sycophantic tech nerds can go ahead and bug test for a year, I’ll wait and pick up the souped-up, ultra-enhanced version for next to nothing in a year. So while I’m hardly a tech junky, previous iPhone S models have brought in some damn near miraculous features early adopters missed out on, like Siri and the fingerprint ID system. The iPhone 6S biggest new spec was 3D Touch, a ridiculously titled feature for an analog sensor that registers the force of your finger’s tap to the screen. Neat in theory, but almost none of the iPhone’s apps bothered to support it and the ones that did don’t save you enough time to justify mastering nano-surgeon-esque precision just to save you a click or two.
But that’s okay, it’s just a feature I don’t need. It’s all good, I own a Kinect! However, the lack of a wondrous new feature makes it even more frustrating that this is the first iPhone S model that didn’t improve in performance over its previous iteration. That ultra-slick new iPhone feeling was practically nonexistent compared to previous years. Apple’s irritating new tendency to flood the market with annual iPhones and variant models has undermined the simplicity that made me a fan in the first place. Right out of the box, my go-to apps (which I’ve spent years consolidating to the essentials) crash and disappear with frequency of a five-year-old laptop, and some days I feel like I get more updates than I do emails. I bought the newest, latest model with the biggest and bestest processor because I wanted it to be fast, but sadly Apple’s created an environment where buying the latest model has to contend with the needs of dozens of older iPhone firmware and software updates. Oh, and that “Live Photo” feature that turns all your pictures into silent, HDD-clogging mini-Vines is something you should probably turn off immediately, too. – Chris Antista
The worst comic, sci-fi, and WWE event of 2015 await you on the next page!