There are many films I’ve been disappointed in or been let down by in equal measure – notable recent criminals would be the likes of,Green Lantern, Indiana Jones 4, After Earth and anything Michael Bay has directed.
However the problem with these and many others like them is that everyone knows they were rubbish, dismissed them out of hand and moved on to the next film.
However, there are some movies who craftily sneaked under the radar, got a pass from the critics and undeservedly made bucket loads of money at the box office. In the years to come some have even been lauded as classics, even making some people’s top ten best lists.
To say the least, this has absolutely made my blood boil, so as a large two fingered salute to all those films that thought they could get away with it… and did – here is my list of ten massive box office hits that frankly should be ashamed of themselves for taking our money:
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Director: Rob Cohen
Starring Vin Diesel
Worldwide Box office: $277,488 million
After the twin successes of Pitch Black and The Fast and The Furious, Vin Diesel was on something of a roll. So someone thought it would be a good idea to reunite him with his FF director Rob Cohen and produce an action film that aimed to become a kind of anti James Bond type franchise. Putting it mildly, XXX is absolutely terrible. The script is appallingly bad, the plot contrived, the acting (especially by the generally good value Diesel) is about as wooden as it gets, Samuel L Jackson pops up in a role that is a stupid nod to 007’s M and don’t even start on the action scenes. Ah yes – the action scenes – now don’t get me wrong, I like a good bit of escapism, but this was just ridiculous – Diesel’s deathly dull Xander Cage repeatedly manages to pull off impossible feats of derring do that even Einstein would be scratching his head at– example – pulling a jump over a 20 foot fence on a motorbike without so much as a ramp or bump in the road in sight – then doing it again in a later scene where he escapes (on another motorbike) from some Eastern European castle. How the hell this made so much money is any ones guess – a truly awful film that is oddly followed by a rather acceptable (non Diesel) sequel.
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Combined Worldwide Box office
Director: Peter Berg
Starring: Will Smith
Worldwide Box Office: $624,386 million
Odd one this. A classic case of a proper “ game of two halves” type of film. Starts out brilliantly -with Smith as a real life but universally loathed, alcoholic superhero, taken on by Jason Bateman’s ingenious publicity guru to win back the hearts of his once adoring fans. This should have been great, indeed its one standout scene where, after a lot of coaching from Bateman, the recently sober Hancock flies in to stop a huge bank robbery, is an absolute standout, director Peter Berg, creates a fantastic build up, a smashing Superman-alike score and some great one liners from Smith. But sadly that’s it – thereafter the film becomes a right let down, with Eddie Marsan’s rubbish villain, a disappointing plot reveal and a climax overloaded with headache inducing CGI. Despite the massive box office this never became a franchise – shame really as they could have righted all the wrongs they did here in the sequel.
* * * * * *
3.Pacific Rim (2013)
Director Guillermo Del Toro
Starring Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba
Worldwide Box Office: $411,002 million
Now this should have worked – everything Guillermo Del Toro has directed (with the exception of Mimic) has been outstanding. His Blade 2 is one of the best sequels ever made, Hellboy and Hellboy 2 are fantastic and Pans Labyrinth is so good it defies belief. So, last summer, it was with great enthusiasm that I rushed to my local multiplex to watch the highly talented Spaniard’s latest opus.
Unfortunately, I emerged 2 hours later with strained eyeballs, a banging headache and overcome with the kind of crashing disappointment only normally reserved for when England get dumped out of the World Cup.
Overloaded with CGI, thinly plotted, loud, over long, boring and peppered with the kind of cheesy one liners that would make even the writer of Pearl Harbour wince, Pacific Rim was, without doubt, the worst film of 2013.
Now if anyone else had directed this nonsense (i.e. Michael Bay) i would have simply forgotten it and moved on – but the fact that it was written and directed by a creative genius like GDT is totally and utterly unforgivable. He spends years on the Hobbit, then does a runner, wastes acres of time producing a few sub par supernatural horror films (i.e. Mama) then chooses to make this pile of rubbish over his long cherished adaptation of HP Lovecraft’s At The Mountains Of Madness. Madness indeed – here’s hoping the currently filming, GDT directed Crimson Peak is a vast improvement – well at least he has Tom Hiddleston in the cast.
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4.Bad Boys 2 (2003)
Director Michael Bay
Starring Will Smith, Martin Lawrence
Worldwide Box Office: $273,339 million
Recently made famous again after being mentioned in Edgar Wrights superb Hot Fuzz, this was the inevitable sequel to the original 1995 box office smash. Full of cheeky one liners, explosions, car chases, gun fights and all the right kind of mayhem that that made the first film so enjoyable – Bad Boys 2 should have been pretty good mindless fun– for about an hour and a half – tops.
Sadly in a fit of wanton hubris, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Michael Bay decided to release it with a running time of 148 minutes – yes you read that right –its nearly 2 and half hours long!
Unbelievably, it literally just goes on and on and on, throwing in tasteless jokes about rat sex and penile dysfunction, its gets more headache inducingly loud with every butt numbing minute that passes.
To say I was insulted is an understatement – there is just no earthy reason for a film called Bad Boys 2 to be this long and this stupid, safe to say – I hated this movie and by all accounts the people who made it should be confined
to the ninth circle of hell as punishment.
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5.Batman Forever (1995)
Director: Joel Shumacher
Starring Val Kilmer, Jim Carrey, Tommy Lee Jones
Worldwide Box Office: $336,529
After Batman Returns (1991) director Tim Burton wisely handed over the reins to Joel Schumacher for this third entry in Warner’s first series of films featuring the Gotham City’s favourite son.
Forgoing his predecessors atmospherically dark style, Schumacher, in his wisdom, had the brilliant idea to bring in loud neon colours, utterly stupid villains and a very dull Val Kilmer as Batman.
Audiences, and critics alike, not yet schooled in proper superhero films (done by talented directors like Chris Nolan and Joss Whedon) – lapped it up in spades and turned this monstrosity into a sizable hit – which was then followed up in 1997, by the staggeringly bad Schumacher helmed fourth film in the Bat saga ,whose name I shall not utter here.
Just to prove my point – watch it again (or rather don’t)and look on in horror at Tommy Lee Jones’ career worst performance as Two Face – screaming, shouting and gurning for all his worth, Elliot Goldenthal’s appallinglypantomime score, the plot less “story” or worse still the lame “action” scenes that go nowhere and smack of PG-13 baiting desperation.
To be honest – its my theory that due to the 4th film being so bad , Batman Forever has just been forgotten in the mists of time and thus dodged a bullet –how in the hell Warner’s got it so wrong for so long is a mystery that will never be solved – just thank God and Mammon for Chris Nolan.
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6.The Other Guys (2010)
Director: Adam McKay
Starring Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg
Worldwide Box Office: $222,914 million
Another enormous hit, audiences flocked to see Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg “comically” bickering and prat falling through a stupid plot that had something to do with Steve Coogan’s equally awful corporate baddie. It is a rarity that I feel the urge to turn off a film and chuck the disc out the window – but I came mighty close with this one. Many people will disagree with me here, as it was very popular with audiences and fairly well received by the critics. Possibly its because I generally don’t like comedies, maybe its because I have never liked Will Ferrell that much – or maybe its because a film that contains 2 hours worth of painfully unfunny jokes plus The Rock and Samuel L Jackson leaping to their deaths for no apparent reason just doesn’t do it for me – go figure.
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7. 2012 (2009)
Director: Roland Emmerich
Starring John Cusack
Worldwide Box office: $769,679 million
Roland Emmerich like to destroy things – he blew up New York in Independence Day, froze half of America to death in The Day After Tomorrow and bombed Washington in White House Down.
However with 2012 he went the whole hog by setting the entire earth on fire in a blazing orgy of CGI glory.
Now this film would have been just about forgivable had it not been for a few minor quibbles. Chiefly the fact that someone somewhere should have A. written a half decent, non vomit inducing script (“look, no pull ups Daddy!”) B. advised John Cusack to avoid being cast in this debacle as if his life depended on it and C. Informed dear old Roland that he was unashamedly and unapologetically ripping off the entire movie going public by craftily remaking The Day After Tomorrow and hoping to God that no one would notice. And to be fair he got away with it!! This pile of cheese covered, plotless, over blown celluloid excrement made over three quarters of a billion dollars at the box office – and no one knows why!! – You couldn’t make it up.
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8. The Fifth Element (1997)
Director: Luc Besson
Starring Bruce Willis
Worldwide Box office: $263,920 million
I vividly remember being really excited about this one – the trailer looked great, the reviews weren’t bad and it had been a big hit in the US. Since its release I’ve heard all manner of people reminiscing on what a great inventive film it was, how many awards it won, praising the wonderful set design etc etc. Pish I say! Had said adoring fans gone back for a second look they would have noticed a few gaping issues that would have most certainly put paid to their misguided adoration of this woeful piece of sci fi dreck.
For a start its tonally all wrong, in parts playing like a screwball comedy and injected with a streak of very unfunny humour. Now I like a laugh as much as the next geek, sci fi’s can of course be very humorous and clever with it (See Star Trek/ Star Wars etc) but not juvenile bordering on pantomime as seen here. Then there’s the plot –at its core it had potential – drawing inspiration from Chariots Of The Gods, and featuring alien warriors, space battles and cool weaponry – its let down time and again by the stupid humour, daft acting, Milla Jojovich babbling incoherent nonsense and Bruce Willis’s bland lead.
This isn’t the worst of it however – indeed the mere thought of him chills me to the marrow and freezes the blood – that’s right folks, its the abomination that is Chris Tucker as intergalactic DJ Ruby Rhod. Blonde of wig, screechy of voice, killer of film and so achingly unfunny it hurts. By far and away one of the worst movie sidekicks in living memory – it was only until the lamentable Jar Jar came along in Phantom Menace that Tucker’s unsurpassed screen atrocity could finally be forgotten. In short it was he who utterly ruined the Fifth Element – one can only wonder wistfully how better it would have been had he not been in it. Luc Besson –go forth into the street and hold your head in shame, Chris Tucker – just go forth into the street.
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9. The Sixth Sense (1999)
Director: M Night Shyalaman
Starring Bruce Willis
World Wide Box Office: $672,806 million
Now when I saw this film I simply could not fathom what all the fuss was about. It was a gigantic sleeper hit, everyone kept banging on how good the creepy plot was, and screaming from the rooftops about the incredible twist ending. Not to take away anything from it –the Sixth Sense is a good film, well made, skilfully directed and superbly acted – indeed I will applaud any director who can get a half decent performance from Bruce Willis.
But what frustrated me the most was two things .
Firstly the twist – by now anyone who has seen the film (and there aren’t many that haven’t) the big reveal at the end is that Willis’s character –Dr Malcolm Crowe -is in fact dead and has been the whole way through. Ok fair enough, good twist, didn’t see it coming, nicely played Mr Shyalaman. But a twist that resulted in nearly $700 million dollars of worldwide box office????!!!
Am I alone in thinking said twist wasn’t THAT amazing? The studio must have thought its dreams had come true – cinema audiences really were utterly gullible and incredibly easily pleased! Beggars belief.
Finally – and this is the one that gets me the most – is the quite staggering plot hole that not one person seems to have noticed. Namely the fact that, all the way through, whenever Haley Joel Osment’s character feels ghosts nearby or simply just sees them – he gets freezing cold and you can see his breath. So why the hell doesn’t this happen when he’s around Bruce Willis??? Who as we know from the film’s climax ,has been pushing up the daisies for the entire film! Frankly I blame George Lucas –that year audiences were probably so mind bogglingly traumatised by the cataclysmic let down that was The Phantom Menace, they just didn’t notice and simply bought any old story with a hint of shock value simply to numb the pain.
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10. Braveheart (1995)
Director: Mel Gibson
Starring Mel Gibson
Worldwide box office: $210,409 million
When I first saw Braveheart I really liked it – fast, furious, at times funny and featuring two of the most realistic battle scenes id ever seen. Audiences and critics loved it and as a result it scored massive box office returns and – count em – ten academy awards – including best picture.
Over the course of the last few years I’ve probably re-watched Braveheart about eight times and as a result I have come to an inescapable fact – chiefly that It’s the most hideously overrated and most undeserving best picture winner in the history of cinema .
The choice reasons for this are as follows:
Huge historical liberties. To name four examples: A. the Scots didn’t wear kilts until 500 hundred years after the events of the film, B. Scottish warriors painting their faces with blue woad hadn’t been seen on a battlefield for over a millennia, C. King Edward The Longshanks (Patrick McGoohan) didn’t die until 2 years after Wallace was executed, D. as for the laughable storyline of Wallace having an affair with Princess Isabella (the then Princess of Wales) and siring a Scottish heir to the English throne – in real life they never even met, and at the time of Wallace’s revolution, she was still safely ensconced in France!
Rubbish background extras – rightly pointed out in a past issue of Empire – at the end of the film’s first major battle (Sterling), Gibson’s Wallace has just lopped off the head of one of the main English officers in charge and the Scots are understandably triumphant after giving the English a severe kicking – but look carefully in the background – laughably, several extras, who obviously haven’t heard “Cut!” are still really really badly pretending to fight each other!
Comedy wobbly Axe –At the films conclusion, what remains of Wallace’s army gathers to pay homage to the English, then in a final act of defiance, Angus Macfayden’s Robert The Bruce says the immortal words “You have bled with Wallace – now bleed with me!”. Cue slo mo final shot of the Scots brandishing their weapons, howling like banshees and charging at the opposition. Now this would have been a great ending – save for the fact that someone gave actor Brendan Gleeson a massive rubber axe that wobbles horribly every time his feet hit the ground – how the hell they missed that one in the editing suite is anyone’s guess!
Overacting: Funny how it won ten Oscars but didn’t garner one nomination for its actors. Probably because the entire cast incessantly shout and rant, Gibson annoyingly rolls his r’s whenever he speaks and everyone (Gibson included) seems to ham it up at any given opportunity. To be honest the only one that gets out unscathed is Patrick McGoohan – who is genuinely terrifying as the thoroughly evil King Edward The Longshanks.
Another film that got away with murder– perhaps I’m being cynical but maybe Mel’s recent legal issues and subsequent career nosedive is karma for undeservedly winning all those awards and making so much money off it.
That’s it then, rant over, remember its only my opinion and unlike Messer’s Gibson, Shyalaman and Emmerich, perhaps if I had the talent to make a successful film perhaps I should have done it by now – then again – I did part with my hard earned money to watch all of the above so I reckon I’m entitled to have my say.