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The 10 Most Disappointing Movies of 2023

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In some respects, 2023 was a great year for cinema. For once superheroes didn’t dominate the highest-grossing list. Greta Gerwig’s Barbie quite snatches the crown of the highest-grossing movie, with its release date rival Oppenheimer performing way above expectations to score fifth place.

We’ve also been treated to Martin Scorsese’s excellent Killers of the Flower Moon, Taylor Swift’s incredible The Eras Tour concert movie, and the still very underrated Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (it’s really great!).

But, sadly, the year was also littered with releases that absolutely failed to live up to the hype. So, without further ado, grab your sad trombone, and let’s get to it.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (February)

Nobody could have predicted Disney’s 2023 would have been this disastrous, but Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania clued us in that not all was well at Marvel Studios. This third Ant-Man entry ditches much of the charm of the previous two movies for a confusing and aesthetically ugly story that wasted the cast’s talents. The objectively awful (and unfinished) VFX was just the cherry on top.

Shazam! Fury of the Gods (March)

Warner Bros. Discovery essentially sent Shazam! Fury of the Gods out to die. After having suffered multiple delays it was shuffled out in mid-March, arriving pre-mortally wounded by the announcement that the DCEU was dead, that James Gunn was rebooting everything, and that none of this mattered. That would be something of a tragedy if Fury of the Gods was secretly great. It wasn’t.

Paint (April)

You have to try really, really hard to dampen Owen Wilson’s natural charisma and innate sense of comedy, but the ill-conceived Bob Ross parody Paint somehow manages it. The original script was considered so good it was included on the famous Hollywood ‘Black List’ of unproduced screenplays, but somewhere along the line something went wrong and Paint ended up as a boring and unfunny 96 minutes. The kiss of death? This was a comedy and I didn’t laugh out loud once.

The Pope’s Exorcist (April)

It is not difficult to sell me a movie ticket. I see a poster of Russell Crowe dressed up as a priest, sporting a majestic beard and striding manfully towards the camera. The Pope’s Exorcist? Hell yeah. Soon after my butt was on a seat at the theater. But The Pope’s Exorcist did not live up to my expectations, and, truth be told, Crowe’s commanding beard was the best thing about it. This wasn’t the worst exorcist-based movie of the year (see below), but it’s far from what it could have been.

Renfield (April)

How on Earth do you screw up Nicolas Cage playing Count Dracula? Renfield had great trailers, an excellent cast and a lot of pre-release buzz. All that eventually amounted to… not much, as it ended up feeling more like a comedy sketch than a feature film. Once the novelty of Cage’s Dracula has worn off there’s just not much to this lame comedy, and we’ll be forever annoyed that Renfield squandered its premise.

The Little Mermaid (May)

The shine has been coming off Disney’s live-action adaptations for some time now, but the much-anticipated The Little Mermaid should have been a home run. After all, an undersea world is ripe for glittering CGI, the songs still slap, and it’s got some talent in front of the lens. So The Little Mermaid ending up so underwhelming and dull was a massive let-down. Its shortcomings were made all the more apparent by the similarly subaquatic Avatar: The Way of Water arriving a few months earlier and delivering an underwater world leagues beyond Triton’s kingdom.

The Flash (June)

If you’re going to market yourself as “the greatest superhero movie ever” you better deliver the goods. And… well, The Flash was The Flash, which would have been an awful movie even if Ezra Miller hadn’t spent the last few years on a whirlwind crime spree apparently intent on destroying their career.

But Miller did do that, and it left an indelibly bad odor on an already stinky movie. A series of PS2-lookin’ CGI cameos from dead actors reeked not only of bad taste but of studio execs flailing around in panic as they tried to salvage something from this disaster.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (June)

Let’s be clear: Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is not a bad movie. It has its moments, it’s nice to see Harrison Ford in a fedora again, it showcased some very well-done de-ageing VFX, and is a damn sight better than The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. But was it disappointing? Absolutely. The second half of the movie steadily gets worse and eventually devolves into fan service, and it largely wastes Mads Mikkelsen. Ultimately, perhaps a summer blockbuster starring an actor pushing 80 wasn’t a great idea.

The Exorcist: Believer (October)

I went into The Exorcist: Believer with low expectations. Sequels to the 1973 classic have always been hit and miss and director David Gordon Green’s dreadful Halloween Ends had me prepared for the worst. To be fair, Believer isn’t the worst movie in the franchise, but it’s far from the worthy successor we’d been pitched. By the end, it’s collapsed into a pile of generic special effects that felt like a parody. Oh well, here’s hoping 2025’s The Exorcist: Deceiver is an improvement.

Wish (November)

Wish was billed as a return to the golden age of Disney, consciously echoing the hand-drawn 2D animation with which the studio made its name. In that at least it succeeds. In everything else? Well, if 2023 can be noted for anything it’s wallowing in nostalgia. Sometimes it pays off (hi, Barbie), but sometimes it doesn’t. Wish is packed with overt references to older, better Disney movies and just left me wishing I was watching them rather than this.

However, it’s important to note that we’re only just heading into December, so perhaps there’s room for one more cinematic disaster to make this list. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, I’m looking in your direction…


In some respects, 2023 was a great year for cinema. For once superheroes didn’t dominate the highest-grossing list. Greta Gerwig’s Barbie quite snatches the crown of the highest-grossing movie, with its release date rival Oppenheimer performing way above expectations to score fifth place.

We’ve also been treated to Martin Scorsese’s excellent Killers of the Flower Moon, Taylor Swift’s incredible The Eras Tour concert movie, and the still very underrated Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (it’s really great!).

But, sadly, the year was also littered with releases that absolutely failed to live up to the hype. So, without further ado, grab your sad trombone, and let’s get to it.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (February)

Nobody could have predicted Disney’s 2023 would have been this disastrous, but Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania clued us in that not all was well at Marvel Studios. This third Ant-Man entry ditches much of the charm of the previous two movies for a confusing and aesthetically ugly story that wasted the cast’s talents. The objectively awful (and unfinished) VFX was just the cherry on top.

Shazam! Fury of the Gods (March)

Warner Bros. Discovery essentially sent Shazam! Fury of the Gods out to die. After having suffered multiple delays it was shuffled out in mid-March, arriving pre-mortally wounded by the announcement that the DCEU was dead, that James Gunn was rebooting everything, and that none of this mattered. That would be something of a tragedy if Fury of the Gods was secretly great. It wasn’t.

Paint (April)

You have to try really, really hard to dampen Owen Wilson’s natural charisma and innate sense of comedy, but the ill-conceived Bob Ross parody Paint somehow manages it. The original script was considered so good it was included on the famous Hollywood ‘Black List’ of unproduced screenplays, but somewhere along the line something went wrong and Paint ended up as a boring and unfunny 96 minutes. The kiss of death? This was a comedy and I didn’t laugh out loud once.

The Pope’s Exorcist (April)

It is not difficult to sell me a movie ticket. I see a poster of Russell Crowe dressed up as a priest, sporting a majestic beard and striding manfully towards the camera. The Pope’s Exorcist? Hell yeah. Soon after my butt was on a seat at the theater. But The Pope’s Exorcist did not live up to my expectations, and, truth be told, Crowe’s commanding beard was the best thing about it. This wasn’t the worst exorcist-based movie of the year (see below), but it’s far from what it could have been.

Renfield (April)

How on Earth do you screw up Nicolas Cage playing Count Dracula? Renfield had great trailers, an excellent cast and a lot of pre-release buzz. All that eventually amounted to… not much, as it ended up feeling more like a comedy sketch than a feature film. Once the novelty of Cage’s Dracula has worn off there’s just not much to this lame comedy, and we’ll be forever annoyed that Renfield squandered its premise.

The Little Mermaid (May)

The shine has been coming off Disney’s live-action adaptations for some time now, but the much-anticipated The Little Mermaid should have been a home run. After all, an undersea world is ripe for glittering CGI, the songs still slap, and it’s got some talent in front of the lens. So The Little Mermaid ending up so underwhelming and dull was a massive let-down. Its shortcomings were made all the more apparent by the similarly subaquatic Avatar: The Way of Water arriving a few months earlier and delivering an underwater world leagues beyond Triton’s kingdom.

The Flash (June)

If you’re going to market yourself as “the greatest superhero movie ever” you better deliver the goods. And… well, The Flash was The Flash, which would have been an awful movie even if Ezra Miller hadn’t spent the last few years on a whirlwind crime spree apparently intent on destroying their career.

But Miller did do that, and it left an indelibly bad odor on an already stinky movie. A series of PS2-lookin’ CGI cameos from dead actors reeked not only of bad taste but of studio execs flailing around in panic as they tried to salvage something from this disaster.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (June)

Let’s be clear: Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is not a bad movie. It has its moments, it’s nice to see Harrison Ford in a fedora again, it showcased some very well-done de-ageing VFX, and is a damn sight better than The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. But was it disappointing? Absolutely. The second half of the movie steadily gets worse and eventually devolves into fan service, and it largely wastes Mads Mikkelsen. Ultimately, perhaps a summer blockbuster starring an actor pushing 80 wasn’t a great idea.

The Exorcist: Believer (October)

I went into The Exorcist: Believer with low expectations. Sequels to the 1973 classic have always been hit and miss and director David Gordon Green’s dreadful Halloween Ends had me prepared for the worst. To be fair, Believer isn’t the worst movie in the franchise, but it’s far from the worthy successor we’d been pitched. By the end, it’s collapsed into a pile of generic special effects that felt like a parody. Oh well, here’s hoping 2025’s The Exorcist: Deceiver is an improvement.

Wish (November)

Wish was billed as a return to the golden age of Disney, consciously echoing the hand-drawn 2D animation with which the studio made its name. In that at least it succeeds. In everything else? Well, if 2023 can be noted for anything it’s wallowing in nostalgia. Sometimes it pays off (hi, Barbie), but sometimes it doesn’t. Wish is packed with overt references to older, better Disney movies and just left me wishing I was watching them rather than this.

However, it’s important to note that we’re only just heading into December, so perhaps there’s room for one more cinematic disaster to make this list. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, I’m looking in your direction…

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