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Looper Staff Predicts: The Biggest Disappointment Of 2023 Will Be...

Let's set the scene. This huge movie you've been waiting to watch for ages is just about to come out. You went on Fandango and you picked your seats — smack in the middle, obviously, because you are not going to be using the bathroom during this experience — and you arrive at the theater, starry-eyed and optimistic. You get your jumbo popcorn and smother it in salt and butter, because eating healthy is overrated. You fill up your large Coke, bathroom needs be damned. You take your seat, you watch Nicole Kidman tell you that "heartbreak feels good in a place like this," and when the movie starts, you realize ... Nicole Kidman is a liar.

The movie was terrible. It broke your heart. It did not feel good, despite the physical place you are in (an AMC, if you were lucky enough to observe award winner Nicole Kidman attend the movies in a very sparkly suit). You left dejected, disappointed, and demoralized. This is just an example, though; take Nicole Kidman out of the equation and imagine spending eight hours on a series that turns out to be a dud. Don't let this happen to you, my friend. Looper's experts have used their clairvoyant powers to come up with picks for the movies and TV shows to avoid in 2023.

Caitlin Albers - The Marvels

I suppose something can't be a disappointment if you're expecting it to be terrible. Either way, "The Marvels" is going to be the biggest letdown of 2023. I will admit I am not fond of Brie Larson, so the movie already has one strike against it. Moviegoers really showed up for "Captain Marvel," making it one of the 10 films in the MCU to cross the billion-dollar mark, but that doesn't mean they loved it. The 2019 film is one of the most-hated films from Marvel Studios, and you can blame it on an unjustified hate campaign targeting Larson or the fact that the movie just sucked. Hint — it's the latter.

"The Marvels" will bring Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) to the big screen, along with "WandaVision" standout Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris). This movie is just going to be one big nothing burger, and it has so much working against it. It certainly will not cross a billion at the box office and will likely be one of the biggest flops of the year. "Captain Marvel" was just too bad to have an incredible sequel. Yes, there is a new director onboard, but even if it's not as bad as the first, I just don't think anyone really cares about Captain Marvel at this point. That's the biggest problem with the MCU at the moment — there really isn't one character that fans can really hung up on like we all did with Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Steve Rogers (Chris Evans). 

"The Marvels" won't be the film that brings everyone together and has crowds cheering for Carol Danvers. It will be the film that cements Marvel Fatigue as the big trend of 2023.

Nina Starner - Super Mario Bros.

Charlie Day, my good sir, my "Nightman Cometh"-penning king: Who blackmailed you into doing this movie? (Just kidding; I get it. It's money. It's like, a truckload of Nintendo money. A potential boatload. Maybe even a yacht. I'm told you can buy things with money. If it keeps "Always Sunny" afloat longer, it's fine.)

I don't know that the new "Super Mario Bros." film will truly disappoint anyone, because I honestly can't imagine that anyone is excited about it in the first place. In an age where original movies are frequently passed over for soulless cash grabs based on existing intellectual property, we're all pretty cynical. (At least, I am. I'll speak for myself here.) That said, this cast — aside from Chris Pratt, who has worked overtime to become the worst of the Chrises — deserves better. Anya Taylor-Joy, what are you doing? Keegan-Michael Key, I know your best bud won an Oscar, but you don't have to be here. Jack Black and Seth Rogen, I like you both, and you shouldn't do this. Fred Armisen ... this makes sense. Honestly, you belong here. Go off, weirdo.

Again: this movie might not disappoint anyone outright; I'm just disappointed that it exists. Remember "The Emoji Movie," you guys? The movie that made Jordan Peele quit acting and maybe indirectly led to Keegan-Michael Key doing this one?! This feels like the second coming of an "Emoji Movie," in that nobody expects it to be any good but it cost a studio a fortune regardless. (At least Sir Patrick Stewart isn't playing a piece of poop this time.)

Anyway, we already HAVE a "Super Mario Bros." movie, and there are at least six people at Looper HQ ready to defend that one at literally any second. Go watch that one instead.

Pauli Poisuo - Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

On paper, there's a lot to like about "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny." Everyone's favorite adventurer-archaeologist was inviting quips about belonging in a museum himself when "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" dropped in 2008, so bringing him back in 2023 is bold. So is the choice to coolly replace Shia LaBeouf's ill-received Mutt Williams with Indy's goddaughter Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge). Clearly, this is a movie that revels in audacity.

A new Indy film might work well if the character takes a senior expert role, Henry Jones Sr.-style. Letting younger characters do the jumping and fighting would make sense, and close the circle for Indiana as he mentors the next generation. But this won't go like that, will it? This will clearly be a last hurrah type of deal, where an 80-year-old Harrison Ford still fights Nazis like it's nothing.

Sure, the trailer teases that Indy feels too old for adventuring, but don't be fooled. Moments later, he's riding horses, running on top of trains, and jumping from moving tuk-tuks in feats of athleticism that would have been impressive in the "Raiders of the Lost Ark" era, let alone in his twilight years. We see a variation of the classic "shoot the swordsman" moment from "Raiders," and a tease of yet another giant henchman fight. Don't be surprised if Indy has to solve an icky environmental puzzle during his hunt for the MacGuffin, and maybe even run from a giant boulder. The movie's apparent antagonist, Mads Mikkelsen's Voller, even looks like "Raiders of the Lost Ark" villain Toht (Ronald Lacey).

I'd enjoy a good final Indiana Jones movie, and I'd love it if the trailer turns out to be a huge misdirect that hides a much more imaginative and inventive movie than the one it teases. It's just that right now, "The Dial of Destiny" seems like a microwaved plate of lukewarm leftovers that's content to ride the coattails of past glories. This seems like a recipe for disaster, regardless of how much they de-age Ford for the wildest action scenes. Hopefully, history will prove me wrong.

Kieran Fisher - Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey

I've watched micro-budget horror movies long enough to know a turkey when I see one, and "Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey" is already off to a bad start. While the concept of turning a beloved children's character into a bloodthirsty homicidal maniac is admittedly brilliant, history has shown that these types of gimmick movies rarely succeed. Yes, I'm looking at you "Pinocchio's Revenge" and "The Curse of Humpty Dumpty."

While I'll go into "Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey" with an open mind, it's already clear that the movie is one big missed opportunity. For a start, Winnie and Piglet look like dudes in cheap masks, as opposed to the anthropomorphic animals from the Hundred Acre Wood. What makes this movie different from any horror movie about masked killers? I understand that this is a low-budget affair and authentic costumes cost money, but the film doesn't seem interested in making us suspend our disbelief at all. Why not use puppets for the homicidal non-human characters instead?

In an ideal world, "Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey" would be an animated movie in the style of the "Woodland Christmas Critters" episode of "South Park." This caper depicts adorable talking animals as flesh-eating miscreants who want to usher in a new age of the Antichrist. It taps the innocence of childhood before unleashing a twisted tale of terror that's both disturbing and hilarious. Sadly, "Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey" looks neither funny nor disturbing, but maybe it'll deliver some decent gore and carnage.

Someday, a filmmaker will come along and make a true "Winnie the Pooh" horror movie. Until then, we'll just have to settle for 2018's "Christopher Robin."

Aahil Dayani - The Exorcist 2023

"The Exorcist" has always occupied a terrifying place in my heart. Growing up, my father formed a haunting mythology surrounding the film, weaving together tales about theater owners in his native Pakistan holding competitions to see if lone cinema goers could tolerate it. It was the stuff of legends and its aura was just as magnetic stateside when it debuted, with several viewers fainting and experiencing nausea. "You have to see it to believe it," was the common sentiment.

The dormant franchise is returning next year, thanks to Blumhouse Productions and "Halloween" 2018 creatives David Gordon Green and Danny McBride. A direct sequel to arguably the most revered horror film of all time, the 2023 film will bring back Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn), whose daughter Regan (Linda Blair) was possessed in the first film.

Despite an intriguing lead in "Hamilton" and "Glass Onion" star Leslie Odom Jr., it seems inappropriate to expect much from the sequel which will feature an aged MacNeil helping a young parent deal with their child's possession. The story writes itself, but predictability doesn't breed disappointment. I'm particularly concerned about how McBride and Green, who have strong roots in comedy, will tackle the franchise's strong religious themes with nuance.

Blumhouse has already put the cart before the horse, with the studio confirming that the film will be the first in a trilogy. With eyes on the future, I'm worried that the present will be nothing but setup. Provide audiences with a compelling narrative and fulfilling thrills first. If they adore it, they'll come for sequels — will those be any good, though? After the middling response to the "Halloween" 2018 sequels, I'm concerned that "The Exorcist" will descend into lunacy when credits roll. "You have to see it to be disappointed" will be the common sentiment this time.

Kim Bell - Scream VI

Apparently, the "Scream VI" team never learned — as the rest of us did in "Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan" (or, a ferry to it) — that no setting, not even the Big Apple itself, can perform narrative necromancy.

"Scream" (2022) gave us a lot of things: a little closure, some up-and-coming talent, a few solid one-liners and practical effects. But there's a lot it didn't give us, too. Like: a horror movie, a reason to watch past Act I, or fresh commentary. Where its abundant acclaim speaks to what it actually does — that is, immunize itself by lumping legitimate critique in with toxic fandom rants, mock or eye-roll the things it knows it can't do well, and ironically reject the very nostalgia on which it relies — it's at least somewhat warranted. After all, convincing so many people that a lengthy Twitter thread is, in fact, a movie, is a pretty cool magic trick. But you know what they say: Fool us once, franchise...

I see you, "Scream" (2022). In middle school, I too was a big fan of the 'ol "OH HEY WHAT'S UP I'M WEARING THIS 'XENA' SHIRT AS A JOKE, ACTUALLY? SO LIKE?? SORRY YOU DON'T GET IT?" The best defense, as any tween worth her rock collection will tell you, is a good, pro-active, distroffense (or offtraction; take your portmanteau pick). And that's exactly what "Scream" (2022) is — an hour and fifty-four minutes of beating criticism to the punch, all in the distracting guise of "saying something."

Unfortunately, it's a technique with diminishing returns. There's just no way Regina George is going to believe your entire wardrobe is a clever commentary. Eventually, she might even suspect that none of it is. The original "Scream's" sequels failed because "Scream" already did the thing, by being the first one to do it. The idea that a sixth installment might somehow succeed where all (all) others have failed is as naïve as going to the basement fridge alone, while a masked killer is on the loose. I promise you, that same-great-taste-less-filling-beer will not be worth it.

Tom Meisfjord -- Kraven the Hunter

Hey man. Maybe I'm wrong about this. Maybe the movie about the guy whose superpower is an unlimited supply of Cabela's gift cards will be a hoot. Maybe Aaron Taylor-Johnson has finally found a comic book franchise that'll let him show off the charisma and range that was on full display in "Bullet Train." Maybe Sony decided to make "Kraven the Hunter" based solely on the merits of a wholly original, emotionally-driven script, not out of some lecherous obsession with forcing square-peg IP's through a round-hole studio system that has, to date, given us two soulless "Venom" films, a heaping scoop of "Morbius," and a re-release of "Morbius."

Heck, I'll do you one better. Maybe the wax wings that Sony Pictures has crafted with the help of papa MCU will carry it all the way up into the sky. Maybe Sony will spit in the face of the sun and then buzz the top of 200 Epcot Center Drive, hucking fistfuls of wadded up hundred dollar bills at Kevin Feige for sport because "Kraven the Hunter" made so much money that it's starting to clutter up the office. It could be that they've finally struck narrative gold with a character who, to date, is best known for a story where he sucked down a barrel full of low-sodium buckshot and then didn't come back for a while. That action figure is going to fly off the shelves.

Russell Murray - The Last of Us

If you asked me what video games would be impossible to adapt into satisfying television shows, my second answer would be Quantic Dream's sci-fi sociopolitical drama "Detroit: Become Human." It may strike some as an odd answer — after all, it has an emotional, character driven narrative, a world lush with possibility and hidden lore, and would lend itself quite seamlessly to Hollywood's best actors and directors. Still, the most vital aspect of the game would remain untranslatable: participation. How do you adapt such a player-driven narrative by taking away their agency? How do you improve a work of art by forcing its audience to be more passive consumers?

My first answer to this prompt would be "The Last of Us."

Don't mistake my apprehension for pessimism — to call the trailers for the upcoming HBO adaptation "faithful" would be a disservice to how well these brief sizzle reels so effectively evoke the atmosphere and aesthetic drama of the original game. My worry is not that Craig Mazin will fall short in his attempts to depict the story ("Chernobyl" was nothing short of a bleak masterpiece), but that just depicting it will feel empty to former players.

It will be truly fascinating to see how Mazin and co-writer/creator Neil Druckmann (the visionary behind the source material) face this problem. It seems impossible that Druckmann, at least, could be unaware of how important participation is to this story, having so brilliantly engineered it into the fabric of his game. In fact, the magic of "The Last of Us" ultimately winds up being the attachment players feel to choices they don't really make. In an interview with screenplay analyst Michael Tucker, Druckmann describes quite viscerally how the player learns the basic mechanics of gunplay by being prompted to euthanize an innocent man. In the tutorial, players have already agreed to something impossible. With each complicit sacrifice, it becomes hard to distinguish between the character's selfish desires and your own. Without feeling responsible for Joel's best decisions — and culpable for his worst — capturing that magic will be incredibly difficult. (Runner up? "Cocaine Bear.")

Nick Staniforth - The Little Mermaid

Let it be said that even in the few notes I heard of Halle Bailey's incredible rendition of "Part of Your World," enough hairs were raised to assure it being a pitch-perfect take, and anyone disagreeing that she can't be Ariel can chew on a blowfish. Let's call it how it is, though. We've been here before, haven't we? Not just another remake, but a Disney remake at that. The House of Mouse's track record of returning to the well may have yielded some (financial) hits, but even those were ultimately gaunt facsimiles traced from far superior films. How many more do we need? I'm sorry to say that "The Little Mermaid" doesn't exactly look like it's going to be swimming through uncharted waters.

The trailer, for example, may have sounded great, but it still looked like every other preview we've had for Disney's revisited IPs. The clips of classic scenes, the slowed-down version of a beloved song. It's a paint-by-numbers routine that Disney needs to break from, and it doesn't look like "The Little Mermaid" will be a game changer. Sure, the additional casting "oomphs" of Melissa McCarthy as Ursula or Flounder voiced by Jacob Tremblay are easy wins, but at the end of the day, it's another beloved entry in Disney's back catalog getting a live-action polish no one asked for. They don't make them like that anymore, and chances are this will be a reminder they shouldn't make them like this either.