Jul 19 2012

The Five Most Disappointing Summer Blockbusters Ever

Published by at 12:00 pm under Lists,Movies

Hey, did you know The Dark Knight Rises opens on Friday? No? Have you been living on the moon?

Seriously, I’ve been trying to dodge reviews and even comments about the movie for weeks now, but it’s almost impossible. I don’t WANT to know what people think of it, I don’t WANT to have any preconceived ideas going in. If I hear it’s amazing, then those are the expectations I’m going to have, and it’s going to be hard to meet them. If I hear it sucks, well, that’s just sad.

That said, I had crazy high expectations for The Dark Knight, yet that film managed to surpass them. Is it too much to hope for a repeat?

I got to thinking about other times this has happened where things haven’t gone so well. Where movies that were supposed to be amazing ended up being god-awful. As you can see from the blockbusters I’ve chosen below, nearly all are sequels, and it’s hard to live up to what came before most times. And being the third film of a trilogy? That’s a curse that won’t die. Hopefully The Dark Knight Rises can break it.

Spider-Man 3

Sigh. I’m depressed just thinking about this movie. It’s often said that the third movie a trilogy is usually the worst (I just said that a paragraph ago actually), though I can’t think of a disparity greater than the gap between the first two Spider-Man films and this last installment. It makes the Godfather Part 3 look Oscar worthy.

It just doesn’t make sense as to why this movie was so terrible. Sam Raimi got nearly EVERYthing right in the first two films, and the second managed to be even better than the first. But here? Between Peter Parker’s emo song-and-dance phase and the fact that there were wayyyy too many villains crowding up the screen, there was nearly nothing redeeming about the film whatsoever.

I ran into a lot of disagreement when I deemed Raimi’s Spider-Man better than the reboot that just came out, but I stand by that. I just think a lot of people have a bad taste in their mouth from Raimi’s series because the third film tainted the rest so damn much. In a way, this is the scariest film on the list because it mirror’s Nolan’s Batman trilogy so far. Both of the first films had huge box offices, and both of the second ones actually were better than the first and are two of the best superhero movies of all time. Let’s hope that the similarities end there, and Batman’s third film is a triumph, not a mess.

Star Wars – Episode I: The Phantom Menace

To be fair, this movie came out when I was 12, so in my eyes, it was pretty awesome at the time. In that sense, Lucas did his job. The film could entertain kids, but f***ing ANYthing can entertain kids, can’t it? Have you seen what’s on TV today?

The fact remained that for anyone past puberty, the film was a disaster. The biggest Star Wars fans were now older, and to see their beloved franchise reduced to and overly CGI’ed, horribly written turd was devastating, and many have never recovered from the shock

It could be said that each subsequent film was a huge disappointment as well, as there was hope that the previous effort was just a fluke. But Attack of the Clones introduced us to Hayden “Coarse Like Sand” Christensen and it was horrific, and Revenge of the Sith was only palatable because of how terrible the other ones were.

Hancock

The only film on this list that ISN’T a sequel, Hancock has forever stuck with me as a whole lot of wasted potential. Will Smith as a crude and vulgar superhero was exactly what the genre needed, and he was pitch perfect for the part. The first half of the film is quite good, but then…something happens.

I don’t know what the hell they were trying to do with the second portion of the script, but a switch is flipped and the film goes from hilarious to dark and gloomy as they attempt to inject “lore” into a universe that has no need for it.

This could have been a franchise, it really could have, and I still hear rumors of Hancock 2 floating around from time to time. But as it stands, the film is something of a tragedy, and I remember being very bummed leaving the theater about what could have been.

The Matrix: Reloaded

Ugh, this movie and its sequel were so bad, it made me question the integrity of the Wachowski brothers themselves. What do I mean? Well, way back around when this film came out, there was a lawsuit floating around from a woman that said the Wachowskis had stolen nearly all of The Matrix from her. I can’t seem to locate the end result of that, but after seeing the next two movies, it didn’t seem so crazy anymore.

It literally seemed like they took a brilliant concept and plot (from someone else) and then once their film was a success, they didn’t know what to do with it as there weren’t any more notes to cheat off of. They had to actually invent a new plot and direction for the films, and the result was nothing short of a disaster.

This is of course all a conspiracy theory, and there’s the very real possibility that they just had a stroke of genius that faded away as they tried to expand on it, but The Matrix Reloaded stands as one of the most disappointing follow-ups of all time.

Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull

I’m not one to hate on this film as much as most, as I believe the central plot point that people complain about, the aliens, isn’t worth protesting. OK, Indiana Jones can fight biblical ghosts, voodoo magic and immortal knights, but not aliens? That’s a rather thin line you’re drawing people.

But the fact is, there is so much about this movie that is undeniably terrible in retrospect. Again, I don’t think Marion or even Shia LaBeouff’s Mutt is to blame. Rather, the film vastly overuses CGI in a George Lucas-ian way (gophers! monkeys!) that makes everything, especially the action sequences, look significantly less epic.

Additionally, Indy’s changed. Yes, he’s older, but previously he had no problem murdering scores of bad guys who where in his way. In this stripped down, kid-ified adventure tale, he kills exactly one person by blowing a dart into their throat. And that guy probably even lived. Indy kills bad guys, it’s what he does. He can punch out a hundred Russians and it won’t be a fraction as cool as the famed single bullet he fired in a swordfight.





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34 responses so far

  • JB

    Agree with every film on this list. You could add

    Terminator 3
    XMen last stand.

    Most part threes are the worst in the series for sure. I wonder how many part 3s you can list that are actually good? I can only think of the last crusade.

  • Jeff

    You forgot Highlander 2, etc.
    The first film was epic and memorable for the story, score and cast. The sequels are dire. There can be only one.

  • Bill

    @JB – Return of the King was great. I think it was the best of the three.

    Also, Terminator Salvation was way worse than T3.

  • JB

    @Bill

    Yes return of the king was great. I tend to think of lord of the rings as one long movie so I usually forget that one.

    Salvation was bad but I think there was more hope for T3 considering it had Arnold and there was a long gap between 2. T3 was more of a blockbuster let down then salvation even if slavation was a worse movie. In my opinion anyway.

  • Mr B

    Yep, X3 was just plain awful.

    Spidey 3, I have no idea what was going on in Rami’s brain with that film. Sandman sucks, there are much better Spidey villains and there was no need to shoehorn Venom into the film the way they did.

    I dont like Ep1, I cant like it, my adult brain simply wont allow it but I do wonder is it a bad film? I wonder if Id love Return of the Jedi (and the ewoks) if it came out today.

    Matrix 2 wasnt great, it was 3 that was bad on an epic scale. All that architect psycho-babble nonsense, just came across as dumb writing trying way too hard to sound smart.

    Indy4 I had no real beef with, it wasnt great but it was not fundementally bad in so many areas, like some of the others on this list.

  • Necroholic

    How was Jonah Hex not on this list?

  • JB

    Everyone knew Jonah Hex was going to be bad. These are movies that you were really looking forward to but ended up being awful.

  • http://xaotikdesigns.com Adam

    I liked Hancock.

    But I’ll agree with the rest of them.

  • blastor138

    Revolutions was the most disappointing Matrix movie. My friends and I walked out the theater after watching Reloaded entertained and talking about what would happen in the third one. The third one was a much more of a mess than the second one.

  • og bobby j

    dare i say die hard with a vengance, or is that not a trilogy technically, since the live free or whatever?

    in fact, all the die hards, like the rockys (minus the tommy gun disaster), are epic movies…

    not easy to do for 4 + movies…

  • trashcanman

    You know, I actually really liked Matrix: Reloaded. Sure, it didn’t have the ridiculously brilliant metaphorical depth of the original, but as action movies go, it kicked massive amounts of ass. But any way you look at it, Revolutions was a mess. I’d replace it with X3 on the list and then you’re golden.

  • Giauz

    I just don’t get the backlash of The Matrix sequals. I very recently watched all three back to back, and they all seemed like great action films. I have looked online before why people say they are so bad, but all anyone says is pretty much in these comments. Can anyone point me to an in-depth explanation?

  • http://nope hallam

    The Matrix: Reloaded wasn’t that disappointing. Most people didn’t leave the theaters feeling that way. It was big and it was cool, as expected, it was less hacker-centric, as expected (90′s were over after all) and although it lacked heart and direction, it was exciting enough. Now the third film…

  • Wermine

    Paul, if you really want to know what’s wrong with the fourth Indy movies, you need to check this:

    http://redlettermedia.com/plinkett/indiana-jones-and-the-kingdom-of-the-crystal-skull/

  • http://www.anomicofficedrone.com AOD

    That’s a pretty good list that I can agree with.

    Spider-man 3 was so bad that I was honestly amazed the studio didn’t postpone the release for re-shoots. It was bad all the way through, but the most unwatchable part was Evil Peter (even worse that Kirsten Dunst). He was even more of a goober than regular Peter and that just didn’t make sense to me. The symbiote should have been more like red kryptonite, making Peter laid back and uninhibited instead of turning him into a spaz that wears black. The movie also suffered from the same “too many villains” issue that plagued Batman Forever and Batman and Robin, not that those movies weren’t bad for a multitude of other reasons, too. To this day it shocks me that studio heads saw the movie and still entertained the idea of a fourth installment in the series. Seriously, name a worse scene than Peter Parker’s “cool” dance.

    Episode I was even bad when I was in 6th grade. I hated it even then, and I hate it now.

    I never got around to seeing Hancock because I had grown tired of Will Smith by the time it was released and never heard anything good about it. Years later, I still haven’t seen Men In Black 3 for the same reason. Well that and I saw Men In Black 2.

    Reloaded was pure trash. I saw it opening day and hated it. When you look at sequels featuring the original cast, it’s hard to find a bigger drop-off in quality than the one in between the original Matrix and Reloaded. It was so bad that I didn’t see Revelations until it was on basic cable years later. Everyone has their own opinion, but Reloaded is so bad that liking it just makes you wrong.

    Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull was so bad it made me feel bad inside, and the embodiment of pure awful that is Shia LeBeouf only added insult to injury.

  • wraith

    Agree with all except Hancock. Although it could have been better at least Hancock went in a unique direction.

    As badly as i hated the 2nd and 3rd lord of the rings the worst sequel of all time has to be Matrix Reloaded. The film was so bad that my wife and I almost walked out of the theater. Only thing that made it bearable was that we watched X2 the same day.

  • GnomeSlice

    Hancock is my #1 pick here. What the hell happened halfway through?

  • marta

    …and the avengers

  • Trent Taylor

    Meh, the reliance on commenting on the overuse of CGI kinda ruins this article. It’s a stupid complaint to begin with. As long as the CGI is good, which with Lucas and ILM it always is, it’s just as good as an actual thing. When I see people complain about the prequels, they almost never complain about CGI that isn’t a creature or something. Half the sets were CGI and no one ever commented on those.
    For those that were bad because of the plot, fully agree.

  • Charlie Ward

    I am the only one who liked Spider-Man 3, I think. I know I’m wrong, I just. . .I can’t be right.

  • Dawn

    Yes, spiderman 3 was terrible. What many people don’t realize, is that Sam Raimi made it terrible on purpose. He wasn’t doing it to piss off fans of the franchise, but he was doing it as a middle finger to the studio execs for forcing him to make the movie the way THEY wanted it. The studio wanted Venom included in the movie because he is the most popular Spiderman villain. Raimi wanted Sandman as the main and ONLY villain, because he grew up reading about him and felt he knew that character best. The movie would have been a lot different if the studio had stepped aside and let him make the movie the way he envisioned it. Knowing this still doesn’t take away the pain of having to watch emo Spiderman prance around.

  • Segashredder88

    You should have replaced Star Wars episode 1 with X-Men the Last Stand and Matrix Reloaded with Star Wars episode 3.

    Otherwise you have the general consensus of blockbuster blunders.
    but Matrix Reloaded was good and Phantom Menace wasn’t as bad as the next two.

  • Blackjack

    Actually, “The Godfather Part III” was nominated for 7 Academy Awards, including Best Picture…

    I think it also should be reiterated that what we’re talking about here are the most DISAPPOINTING, not necessarily the WORST summer movies. “Disappointment” is relative to expectations– a good movie could still be disappointing if it didn’t meet the viewer’s expectations. Paul does a good job of leading with this idea, basing the article around his “crazy high” expectations for “The Dark Knight Rises.” But it seems that some commenters missed that.
    In that light, I think this list is great. None of the movies here lived up to my expectations.

    And sadly, probably the 2 movies that most disappointed me of any I have ever seen involved George Lucas.
    “The Phantom Menace”– wow, did I feel like I’d been punched in the gut after seeing that. What can I say that hasn’t been said? “Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls”– I agree with Paul that the alien-centric plot isn’t as big a problem as people make it out to be, and I agree with Paul’s reasoning on that. Especially considering Lucas’s stated desire for the movie to reflect the sci-fi culture of the ’50s. The thing is, I can’t exactly point to the problem with that movie. Everything seems okay on paper– even “nuking the fridge” isn’t much more of a stretch than bailing out of a crashing plane on an uninflated raft. But somewhere in the execution, things failed. Hard. The best I can do is liken it to any latter day Rolling Stones album versus one from the ’60s: all the building blocks are there, the group still intact, Keith Richards still one of the greatest guitarists ever… but things just don’t gel; the youthful hunger, vigor, and swagger are missing. The soul is gone…

  • Ant2206

    Good thirds in trilogies, I’d go Die Hard III, Return of the Jedi (yep, both of those franchises have other films attached. But I’d argue that there’s still a core set of three films that make up a trilogy), Back to the Future III, Toy Story III, Army of Darkness, and the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

    Some of those aren’t as good as the rest of the series, but still good (Return of the Jedi) and some are arguably the best of the series (Toy Story III, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly).

  • zligo

    Eddie Brock… Topher Grace ? U Serious Sam Raimi ? ?

  • http://fatpie42.livejournal.com fatpie42

    The thing about Matrix Reloaded was that it was only supposed to be half a movie. That meant that I and many others were convinced that all the plot strands would be tied up in the follow-up. We thought the ghosts would return, the Merovingian would be defeated and we’d have some explanation of how Neo’s powers now allow him to control robots in the real world (and that left a lot of potential too of course).

    The BIG disappointment was Matrix Revolutions which tied up NOTHING. A new character called “The Train Man” (worst name ever) turns up and turns out to work for the Merovingian. Both of them are left alive and well, free to continue exploiting programs. We have tons of hints that Seraph is really important, but no real follow-up on that either. A brand new character called Sati suddenly becomes a saviour figure for the programs in the Matrix with little explanation and no real follow-up. The ghosts never return, presumably because they were actually killed after all. Neo’s powers in the real world are explained by “it’s just magic, innit?” And the whole film becomes a massive anti-climax.

  • Zaggnita

    The reason why the newer Star wars Episodes were bad, was because Lucas’ ex wife wasn’t part of the making of the story. She was helping him when he created the other episodes, but the new ones she wasn’t. Those two should have stayed together and then create the newer episodes. The movies would probably be a whole lot better, if she was part of the making. I blame the crappy movies on their not being together.

  • matt

    I’m tired of people complaining about the 3 newer star wars movies. The original 3 were CRAP too. You hipster 30-somethings just didn’t notice it because you were kids in the 80′s. Everyone seems to have tinted love goggles for the dumb S**T they loved as a kid. You hear the same complaints spewing from the keyboards of thousands of 30-40 year old males. Starwars sucked, GI joe sucked, transformers sucked, even D&D and video games suck now too, apparently. Wake up, middle aged fanboys. ALL THAT STUFF SUCKED IN THE 80′s TOO.
    Honestly, the only things that I disliked about the prequels was the little boy they got to play young vader in the phantom menace.
    All 6 star wars movies are equal in my eyes. They are poorly written, horribly acted, rediculously fun movies. They also all had cutting edge art/design/FX for the year(s) they came out.

  • JohnZee

    A couple of things. First of all the woman that sued the Wachowski Brothers said that all three movies contained elements of her original screenplay. For instance the Oracle character was straight out based on her. And the reason why you couldn’t find any information on the case was the fact that she was suing Warner Bros. and that particular company has its hands in the majority of entertainment news outlets that are out there. And the ones they don’t control are real eager to do and say as Warner Bros. tells them. But it didn’t help, cause in the end the court decided that they in fact did steal from her, and so they and Warner Bros. were ordered to pay her a very healthy portion of ever dime anything relating to the Matrix ever made. And last I heard she had decided to start up her own production company, cause now she’s got money to burn.

    So in the end justice was served and the Wachowski’s deserve nothing but our contempt.

  • davo

    Sorry mate but the fact you were only 12 when the first star wars prequel came out seems to indicate that you only follow every other dipshit on the internet. “oh the 4th indiana jones was crap” (it wasn’t)

  • Arcadax

    While I agree about Hancock (the best idea for a movie that went nowhere) the Indiana Jones movie criticism just came off as plain inaccurate, Indy blows up (and presumably kills) the driver of a forrest cutter with a damn rocket launcher, punches a dude into a pile of man-eating fire ants and engages in both head-on car colllisions and throwing people off vehicles at high speed.

  • fingerwag

    I actualy hate Reloaded and love Revolutions. Any movie in which humans in exoskeletons battle flying robots is okay in my book.

  • Alejandro

    About the woman who sued the Wachowski Brothers:
    http://www.snopes.com/politics/business/matrix.asp

  • Tom

    to the one who hates terminator 3, it had MUCH more depth than the first one.

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