Sometimes a movie seems like a great idea. Professionals on both the top and bottom line of the film industry are confident that it will be a classic. Then you walk down the red carpet during the star studded premier and your jaw drops at how badly things came together. Yet you keep your smile on at the wrap party in front of the big wigs. When being honest in the back of ones mind, the idea of “THIS WAS BAD!” trickles down all the way to your average movie-goers who do not want to be criticized while chatting at the water cooler in the office. We all make mistakes in life. Same in the world of movies. This is my Top 10 Missed the Mark Movies of all time. Not all time bad. Films so close that just missed it.
10. “Apocalypto” (2006):
Fresh off of the Christian based behemoth at the box office that was “Passion of the Christ”, Director Mel Gibson decided to go on an adventure in Central America to explore the historic culture of the Aztec society which has long been eradicated due to the Spaniards invading the land. “Apocalypto” centers around a young villager in Paw (Rudy Youngblood) as he attempts to return to his his wife after their village is completely bombarded for sacrificial tributes to the gods. After a highlight in a crazy scene with villagers celebrating the gift to the gods in human beings, “Apocalypto” misfires when it turns into a neverending chase movie. The combination of utilizing both film and new digital technology will throw off even the biggest camera nerd. And after the early climactic sequence at the Aztec temple, this movie falls off a cliff in terms of storytelling. Mel Gibson’s follow up to his biggest R-Rated movie of all-time starts out solid, then it sinks.
9. “Ghostbusters” (2016):
In the era of doing remakes starring women, (Stupid, make new movies CENTERED AROUND FEMALES DUMBASS!), perhaps the biggest bust was the 200 plus million dollar remake of the classic “Ghostbusters” script. A group of misfits come together and battle the spirits haunting New York. A complete cash grab turned wrong idea, the 2016 version of “Ghostbusters” is so poorly played that it is easy to see why it was a bomb. The biggest misfire is the cast. First off, two of the four leads in Melissa McCarthy and Leslie Jones are known for yelling in their comedy. Fine in small doses, not so much in the span of a feature length movie. Then we get to Kate McKinnon who is simply out of place here and Kristen Wiig leading the way. The original “Ghostbusters” was filled with characters that made sense in terms of staying in their lane. This all-female remake does not even know what a lane is.
8. “Pearl Harbor” (2001):
This was the moment. This is when I knew Michael Bay was on his way to being the worst filmmaker to ever live. Hype for American war epics was at an all-time high in the late 90s to early 2000s. Unfortunately Bay could not hit a naval ship with a bomb if it was directly in front of him. The penultimate battle that brought the United States into World War II when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor is one of the biggest moments in American history. Michael Bay decided to make a movie about the Japanese attack on a love triangle involving Josh Hartnett and Ben Affleck. “Pearl Harbor” is less a thrilling war movie and more a daytime soap opera. Of course Bay has his signature moments where he blows stuff up, which he thinks is a plot, but it is hollow and horribly edited. I salute the heroes who fought in the famous battle. Michael Bay’s take on it can kiss my ass.
7. “The Giver” (2014):
The 1993 Newbery Medal winning novel by Lois Lowry was and remains a must read for children as well as young adults. The film version of “The Giver”, not so much. Other than the perfect casting of Jeff Bridges as the titular character, the on screen portrayal feels as though it was made by filmmakers who never read the book. The overall tone of the book is lost. A story about a dystopian future when one man in society is allowed to have the knowledge of the past as he passes that wisdom down is turned into a rip-off version of “The Hunger Games”. All of the valuable themes about learning from the mistakes of history are thrown out the window in favor of pretty people bumbling around dialogue that is suppose to be intelligent before a big budget action scene for a final act. There is no knowledge to pass on here.
6. “Avatar” (2009):
I remember being excited for the release of James Cameron’s groundbreaking new sci-fi epic “Avatar”. Around the half hour mark, the actual movie experience felt longer than the anticipation. I and fellow excited film nerd friends jumped out our seats with the same reaction, what kind of lame duck bullshit was that? A “Dances With Wolves” remake in space with blue people? What? Even if you can swallow the overall concept, basic plotholes along the way in the film are so rampant beyond logic that it builds up quicker than you could think. The main character knows what substance on a foreign planet is flammable during his first outing? A group of blue Native Americans are willing to trust some fake blue people that they know are part of the invading human culture? And we don’t even need to go over trying to mine “Un-Obtanium”. The name speaks for itself. Tack on the fact that the movie was released on home video on freakin’ earth day and you’ve got yourself one egotistical jerk off fest.
5. ” Wild Wild West” (1999):
This one is not just for the awful comedy western vehicle itself, it’s for icon Will Smith as well. The superstar on the rise in the late 90’s was flying high with hits like “Men In Black” and “Independence Day”. The actor on the cusp was offered two starring vehicles. One was “The Matrix”. His agent advised him to turn it down because audiences would not understand it. I would have fired that idiot saying to do “Wild Wild West” instead. Man did he miss the mark with this forgettable action/comedy. This remake of the popular 60’s television show takes an attempt at slapstick without the key ingredient, actually being funny! From robotic giant spiders to Smith and co-star Kevin Kline running around with giant metal magnets around there neck, good hijinks are not had to say the least. Other than the catchy theme song by Big Willie, “Wild Wild West” was a complete misfire.
4. “Ender’s Game” (2013):
I can hear the people now who are huge fans of the books. Never read them, so I can’t speak on it. Two different art forms as I always say to people who scream “THAT WASN’T IN THE BOOK!” But the film version of “Ender’s Game” is utterly ridiculous. Admittedly made for teens, the idea that an invasion of insectoid aliens trying to wipe out the human race can only be stopped by a bunch of smart kids that are good at video games. Yeah, that makes sense. Asa Butterfield as Ender, the hero of the resistance, is well cast because he is basically a blank slate of emotion. After that, the choice of co-stars are so wrong. Harrison Ford is a legend. Can he play a military style drill sergeant, hell no. Hailee Steinfeld has been a solid actress since her debut in the Coen Brothers hit “True Grit”. As the military sci-fi love interest, not the right choice. “Ender’s Game” was meant to be the next big series of Y.A. movies. The climactic video game style space battle squashed that real quick.
3. “Rock of Ages” (2012):
While I haven’t seen it personally, I am sure this musical stage show extravaganza is a blast on Broadway. As a movie, “Rock of Ages” is a total mess. The tale of a small town girl and city boy chasing their dreams in the Hollywood music scene is not original, but can still be great entertainment when done well. When you screw the cliche tale up, it’s obvious. Other than the great 80’s inspired music, this is another example of completely wrong casting. Starting with Tom Cruise as an Axel Rose rip off lead singer (no idea who thought that was a good idea on both sides) to Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand rocking out, this is a collection of talented people who have no place in a musical. Plus star Julianne Hough, while a hottie, was still coming into her own in terms of being able to act. “Rock of Ages” is the ultimate example of people not sticking to what they are good at.
2. “The Village” (2004):
M. Night Shyamalan was at the height of his game for movie audiences in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. “The Sixth Sense” was a mega hit and “Unbreakable” was considered a smart comic-nerd caper. “Signs” starring a pre-jew hating Mel Gibson was also massive. Then the trailer for his 2004 garbage filled faux horror movie “The Village” came out and everyone realized what I should have picked up on as a film nerd years earlier once it was released. Shyamalan is a complete hack. He is all about twist endings and, upon a rewatch, every single one of his films are littered with plot holes. I will not reveal the twist ending. All I would say is, why didn’t you go with real monsters? Imagine the opposite of John Krasinski’s excellent “A Quite Place”. Teasers for “The Village” made it look like a very creepy and unique monster style thrill ride. It’s not.
1. “Battlefield Earth” (2000):
You do not have to be a critic to know how much heaps of anger and hilarious disgust have been piled on from the second “Battlefield Earth” was released. Even if it is 20 years old, why stop now? This is more of a misfire made by a Hollywood icon. John Travolta went from classic performances in films like “Saturday Night Fever” and “Pulp Fiction” to making a sci-fi movie based on the book by L. Ron Hubbard, the guy who created Scientology. Look, I can disagree with religious beliefs with a person if they make a good movie. “Battlefield Earth” is so poorly done that several actors involved have spoken about regretting even signing on. Star Barry Pepper’s career was just getting started and almost ended in his role as the leader rebelling against the alien invaders (thank you Spike Lee for saving his talented butt). Forest Whitaker looks like a broke-ass Klingon from the Star Trek Franchise as he constantly stand behind Travolta. From concept to acting to make of to pure shooting, everything missed the mark in this apocalyptic debacle.