The 10 Biggest Disappointments of 2015

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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.

Speaking of, The Simpsons had it's best Halloween in years...
Speaking of, The Simpsons had it’s best Halloween in years…

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

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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.

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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.

See ya in 2016, suckers!
See ya in 2016, suckers!

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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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!

17 thoughts on “The 10 Biggest Disappointments of 2015

  1. It was far from one of the worst things I saw this year, or even one of the most average, but Age of Ultron really was a let down. The Avengers is still my favourite entry in the MCU and I had been looking forward to a sequel since I walked out of the theatre that first time. Between movies we had some great solo adventures from the main three that took Cap and Iron Man (as well as the universe, with SHEILD’s fall and the like) to exciting places. But then, AoU just felt like nothing happened. It’s not even like it was just intended to work as a standalone sequel in case you don’t follow the solo stuff, the characters don’t even feel right (or the way they did). When was MCU Cap ever concerned about language and confused super easily (he says “You’re damn right,” etc. in other movies; him needing the twins’ powers to be dumbed down to “fast and weird” made him look like a dolt). Obviously the biggest criticism does come down to Ultron himself, where he has no real menace and has to spout quips every other line – which is a problem everyone has. My last big problem with it is that there was nothing left to surprise – the trailers showed everything.
    This isn’t to say I don’t like the film at all – there are bits I very much do like, which makes my complaints more frustrating. Vision was great, the twins were awesome, and even though the Hulkbuster fight was essentially spoiled, I still think it’s a pretty awesome sequence. The stuff with Hulk is interesting to me as well.

  2. lol of course Trump’s episode of SNL was toothless…from what I read Trump handcuffed the writer’s into making everything put Trump in a positive light. And of course the episode had the highest ratings of the season, because Lorne Michaels sold out in order to get attention. Everything about it is gross.

  3. My biggest disappointment of the year is Marvel’s elimination of Fantastic Four and X-men from starring roles in the comic universe. I get that you do not own the movie rights, but I sincerely doubt that there is much synergy between comic sales and movie ticket sales. The resulting elimination of characters that many people like and love is just sad and depressing. Also, trotting out the Inhumans as replacements for those characters IS NOT WORKING. With the exception of Ms. Marvel, none of the Inhuman characters or story lines are what I would call interesting at all. They also, really smack of Game of Thrones cloning, with deep emphasis on different “kingdoms” and bloodlines, and ruthlessness, etc etc. I don’t even like the Fantastic Four, but I would really prefer having them show up and save the day with “SCIENCE!!!!!” in random cross overs, than deal with anything Inhuman.
    And all of this being done because of a dispute over rights just turns me off even more. Its not like they are discovering and breathing life into the Inhumans because no one has done stuff with them before, they are just doing it because they don’t want to use the Fantastic Four or X-men licenses. Whenever the Disney juggernaut reabsorbs those rights those characters will return front and center again.

    Couple this with Bill Nye the Science guy still not being cast as Mr Fantastic… its been a bittersweet year in comics.

    1. Seconded, I miss the FF and James Robinson did a great job of taking them out on a high note. The MU is not the same without the first family, even if they have been marginalized in recent years.

  4. I actually enjoyed Age of Ultron. It’s in my Top 5. I understand some of the criticisms but every movie has some flaws. Marvel needs to fix it’s villain issue though. Everyone but Loki seems very one-note and bland. Everything else was spot on. The set up for Black Panther was great. The Von Strucker castle bit was awesome, The Hulkbuster/Hulk fight was epic plus it introduced Vision! I’m used to defending this and other Marvel movies because some dipshit teacher at my film school trashed superhero films while praising the Transformers films in the same breath.

    1. That being said. My biggest disappointment of 2015 was Aloha. You’d think a comedy directed by Cameron Crowe that stars Bradley Cooper,Emma Stone,Rachel McAdams,Bill Murray,John Krasinski, Alec Baldwin and Danny McBride would be good right? No what I got was film with stupid plot holes that turned me into the guy from CinemaSins when noticing them. Also the fact that Emma Stone played a half Asian was absurd. As much as love Emma and her work,this role was a little blemish in her career that I hope doesn’t kill it.

  5. I will openly say I enjoyed Ant Man more than Ultron and I did not have any of the baggage long time comic fans had as reason to be disappointing. For me, Ultron was less a grand get to together like the last Avengers, but instead more set up, Civil War seemingly being the real en of Phase 2… despite being Phase 3. Combine the out of nowhere tangents and let’s be honest, maybe too many characters, Ant Man was for me at least the best better film because it was coherent, focused and had more character, rather than just “more characters”.

    But it has not my biggest disappointment. No, that would have to be Batman: Arkham Knight and no I played the PS4 version, the PC. I mean why am I driving a tank with guns all the time? Why are the side quests less varied? Why is the last big arc such a simple easy to guess plot? Why do I have to do so much busy work to feel like I really progressed? And the DLC… oh boy, the DLC…

  6. It’s hard to put it in the same calibre as most of those, but for me the biggest disappointment was Batman: Arkham Knight. Now, at it’s heart it’s still a hugely fun game with a lot of effort put into it that I’m happy to New Game Plus, but it’s a big disappointment for 5 reasons:

    1. The PC version, my gaming system of preference. On a system that knocks out The Witcher 3 and Star Wars Battlefront at Very High settings I can’t even manage Medium Textures, even after months of waiting for a patch. Then while waiting ages for those goddamn patches Season Pass owners were denied the DLC they paid for, so it was like an extra kick in the balls. But that wasn’t so bad because:
    2. The DLC was terrible. The most overpriced and criticized Season Pass in gaming history ended up with a few months of boring, short, unimaginative DLC segments. The best, Season of Infamy, was a bunch of short missions. Actually, no, the best was the skins for Batman movies for 1989, TDK, and even Batman V Superman… except you couldn’t use their Batmobile skins in-game and the BVS one doesn’t even get a racetrack. And where are the movie Catwoman skins?
    3. The plot was stale and unexciting. I liked the Scarecrow, but Arkham Knight was godawful. Everyone guessed his identity long before the reveal, including non-comic fans – and it was obvious and hugely unsatisfying because that particular character hadn’t been seen in the Arkham games up until now. If he had been Commissioner Gordon, Joker, Hush, or Azrael it would’ve been great! I personally loved the pre-release theory that Arkham Knight was Bruce Wayne and you were playing Hush as Batman, which would’ve been actually imaginative! But not to be. Rocksteady ditched Paul Dini because they thought “writing for Batman is easy, we can do it too!”. Nope. I actually preferred Arkham Origins’ story.
    4. The Batmobile. I liked it more than most people, but it’s from a completely different game and feels very un-Batman.
    5. Side missions were less enjoyable and imaginative than the ones in Arkham City. So that’s most of the game unimaginative.

    The worst thing about Batman: Arkham Knight is, my disappointment SUCKED MY COMIC FANDOM OUT OF ME. Seriously. Up until AK’s release I was consuming comics at a rate of knots, watching every show and movie, replaying all the games… since then most of my comic reading has dried up, I didn’t go and see Fantastic Four (near miss there at least) or Ant-Man (still haven’t), haven’t watched Jessica Jones, most of Agents of SHIELD, or Gotham (Flash, Arrow, and Supergirl have me at least), and forget about games. Hopefully 2016 will reignite my spark for comics.

  7. I personally loved Age of Ultron and the Muppet show. I’m a big fan of the MCU but what helps me is I check my baggage at the door and don’t get hung up on things like comic Ultron vs movie Ultron. I just do my best to enjoy things for what they are. AoU was a great movie featuring the assembled Avengers team and it will likely be the only movie of its kind and scope we get. Infinity War will have a much broader scope.

  8. now we just need ten best documentaries of 2015 from chris, I’ve been watching his recommendations so far and he hasn’t disappointed me yet!

  9. I remain a confused to all the backlash Age of Ultron has been getting. If nothing else, I think it continued the Marvel’s films excellent character work. Like really, I sincerely believe these characters are some of the best written action blockbuster characters I’ve seen in a very long time. I also thought the story intelligently dealt with themes about consequences, what we want to leave behind, and what we might leave behind despite our best intentions. Everything with Tony Stark was heartbreaking, as you can see where his fears come from, you feel for his wish to protect the people he cares about. But tragically, he’s unable to see the big picture, consider all possibilities and everyone ultimately suffers for it. It’s great stuff and how that all bounces off Cap makes for superb storytelling. I get where Brett is coming with Ultron as a character, but I think ultimately Joss wanted to do something different, and it’s own take, he works. He very much acts as sort of the natural offspring of Stark, and he really represents an almost “dark side” of Tony in a lot of ways. I can respect his views as someone with a close relationship to the comics, but in the context of the MCU, I thought he was incredibly effective.

    And honestly, with the recent release of The Force Awakens, a movie more interested in repeating the same structure of A New Hope instead paving it’s own path and full of meaningless callbacks and references that ring incredibly hollow, I keep coming back to Age of Ultron as the far superior film. I think someone like Johansson’s Black Widow is a far more interesting, complex character compared to the sorta one note Rey (a character who largely only works because of the massive talent of it’s actor, Daisy Ridley).

    Also I think it’s really unfair to keep harping on what could have been with a hypothetical Edgar Wright Ant-Man movie. Would it be outstanding? Almost definitely. Will we ever know? No, and I think the film we ended up getting was pretty goddamn great in it’s own right.

    But just my two cents! Do agree about Terminator Genisys, I really want to drag whoever thought to make replacing “i”‘s with “y”‘s as the new blockbuster film title gimmick behind my hypothetical tool-shed. What an utter drag of a movie.

  10. GOP candidates on SNL have always been terrible, I refer you to Steve Forbes and musical guest (and I love this) Rage Against the Machine. Also if we’re going to throw another disappointment in 2015, Konami flipping off its decades of delighting video game fans of young and old for pachinko.

  11. Biggest disappointment of 2015? the lasertime patreon reducing at the tail end of the year it’s legitimately super upsetting :'(

  12. I think the biggest disappointment all around in gaming was the inability for Arkham Knight to work well on PC. I’d think an American publisher would understand optimization better than Japanese developers just learning that Steam is the biggest gaming platform right now. As it stands, I’m probably not getting around to playing Knight until I grab a PS4. I’ve also heard the game itself doesn’t quite meet the standards of Asylum and City either, but I’ll leave it for someone who’s actually played the game to vouch this report.

  13. Thank you thank you thank you for laying into Terminator Genisys. I could write an essay on why that movie was the worst thing in theaters this year made even worse by James Cameron himself praising the movie, pre-release. How irresponsible was it for him to do that? Was it just an elaborate ploy to get the movie to fail, so he could get the rights back to a franchise that you would think means a lot to him?

  14. Star Wars 7 was, by far and away, my biggest pop culture disappointment. I wanted to love it, but im not going to take a bland, super-safe rewrite of a 1977 film lying down. Death Star Reloaded, the ridiculous character arc of Finn McCool, and more callbacks than i could stomach….ug. Just such a letdown for someone who simply wanted a NEW star wars film….not a remake of one I’ve seen before.

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