As inspired by one of our readers this week, Jeff Morelli, I concocted a list about directors that generally make good films, but even these movie giants have fallen short on occasion. The problem I came to was some directors like Ridley Scott, David Fincher, Christopher Nolan and Martin Scorsese just haven’t made an awful movie. Maybe some not perfect, but certainly not awful. Let’s celebrate these fantastical directors by pointing out their faux pas!
10. THE DILEMMA (RON HOWARD)
WTF?!?!?!?! I dug the cast, again particularly enjoying Channing Tatum, but this flick was nothing better than absolute horse pudding. I couldn’t finish watching it and it’s a very, very rare occasion when I turn off a movie because it’s so awful. One of the worst movies I’ve seen in a long time, and by one of my favorite feel good directors.
9. ELIZABETHTOWN (CAMERON CROWE)
What was largely missing from this film was Crowe’s quiet sense of comedy. He can generally tap into real human awkwardness and emote it in a way that becomes tangible rather than exploiting it. There were only brief moments of that balanced genius. Susan Sarandon’s big finale felt like it was trying to go there, but was more or less anti-climatic and uncomfortable. It just never came together. Elizabethtown wasn’t completely awful, but in no way did it live up to Crowe’s potential genius. It fell into the realm of the typical romantic comedy, and left me feeling “irked” at times. This guy can write, and this movie was not a good example of it.
8. ROLLERBALL (JOHN MCTIERNAN)
Here is a guy who knows how to make action films. From Predator to his last film Basic quite a bit ago, his Rollerball remake in 2002 just didn’t do it. What was great about the original with James Caan was some of the campiness and the fact that it was James Caan at his peak of hotness. McTiernan’s version took itself too seriously and lost all that was charming about the original. Not a complete crash landing but certainly a misstep in a very impressive career.
7. THE GODFATHER PART III (FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA)
I can’t make this list without mentioning the atrocity of GP3. I have not seen Coppola’s entire body of work like most of the other director’s mentioned here, but every other film of his I have seen has been nothing short of exquisite with a clear attention to the smallest of details. GP3 was an utter mess, with terrible acting and all together with no respect for it’s predecessors, two of the greatest films ever made. A tragedy beyond anything else.
6. TIM BURTON (PLANET OF THE APES)
I’ve been a fan of good ole Tim’s work over the years, and while his films have lost some of their originality and greatness this past decade he still manages to be creatively innovative and take his audience to world where his mind truly exists. And Helena Bonham Carter. And Johnny Depp. Thankfully Depp wasn’t available for this trite remake. With some great actors attached; this movie was all flash and no bang. Visually executed perfectly, but lacking any substance or originality. I’d rather watch Chuck’s version any day.
5. OLIVER STONE (ALEXANDER)
Love him or hate him, Stone has pumped out well thought out critically acclaimed movies over the decades. What they do have in common, aside from his largely biased political commentary is length. Alexander had all the potential in the world to be a great epic tale of history and and the rise and fall of a compelling historic character. The length not only killed this movie, but buried it with cockroaches, flesh eating beetles, and suffered an alien abduction of editors. It was well cast, but the writing and drawn out scenes made it insufferable and an epic disappointment.
4. ROBERT ZEMECKIS (WHAT LIES BENEATH)
Being a fan of Robert Zemeckis’s body of work, with a heartfelt affection for Back To The Future, it was a sorry experience to sit through the miserable film What Lies Beneath featuring the enigmatic Harrison Ford and the luminous Michelle Pfieffer. The writing was tragic enough, but the horror and mystery twist was played all wrong. With a great career I feel bad giving RZ the “shame on you”, but this flick really deserves a wicked finger shake.
3. SUNSHINE (DANNY BOYLE)
The first half an hour of the film is suspenseful, curious, and visually compelling. After it seems their mission is possibly in jeopardy the film suddenly takes a turn for the worst and unfortunately blatantly follows conceptions already realized by other science fictions films and shows. Alien, Event Horizon, Babylon 5 and 2001 A Space Odyssey. There is never an issue when an homage is being paid to another film, but when a story is visually and conceptually are executed the same as four other prominent creations in the science fiction world there is a problem. Especially coming from such an innovative and brilliant director.
2. ARMAGEDDON (MICHAEL BAY)
Michael bay may not be a highly regarded director, but I’ve found his films to be consistently entertaining over the years. When I sit down I know what to expect from one of his movies, and while Armageddon may be revered and considered one of his best movies, I’ll get right back on my soap box and claim this one an example of utter poo poo. They should have just skipped the semantics and sent Micheal Bay directly to the Asteroid. It would have exploded and the movie would have been over in twenty minutes. Twenty of course because Micheal Bay would make sure it was a super big and cool special effect! The only redeeming thing about this film was the Areosmith song and that’s because it was at the end of the movie. What a waste of explosives.
1. WAR OF THE WORLDS (STEVEN SPIELBERG)
Steven Spielburg took a very dark and depressing turn for this alien film, making life and survival seem all together hopeless. When the Ferrier’s are in their car, at the bridge, the chaos and fear is truly palpable. Though giant tripods haven’t taken over the world, yet; I imagine the way the human reaction interpreted by Spielburg would not be a long shot by any means. This film had a lot of quality and excellent pacing until the moment when Ray Ferrier’s son proclaims the need to join the army and fight the aliens even though he’s witnessed an unimaginable amount of destruction that the human race was ill equipped to counter. The unrealistic act of leaving his terrified sister and father in that moment is so far fetched that suspension of disbelief is not an option. From that point on the film continues in a downward spiral that is unforgivable and relentless in it’s shameful creation. The entire act with Tim Robbins helping Rachael and Ray by hiding them in his basement completely offsets the pacing and turns the film into a completely different movie. Suddenly it’s about the violence and desperation of human nature rather than a pretty intense alien flick. The character Oglivy, played by Robbins had absolutely no place in the story, and was the biggest disappointment of the entire film.
Yes, he stayed true to the story line, but your Steven fucking Spielberg, you can do what you want.
Remember, we here at Man, I Love Films don’t do definitive lists. We do our favorites and we want to hear yours. So, make sure and tell us about them in the comments section below.