I think I’m pretty decent at predicting which movies are going to be good and which ones are going to suck. I base my predictions not so much on a movie’s trailer, but instead on who’s directing (perhaps the most important factor), who wrote the screenplay, the actors involved, and the source material to the extent that any exists. Sometimes, I’m horribly wrong, though, and there’s few feelings worse than getting all pumped up for a movie only to have it vomit all sorts of suck right into your face.
This list of disappointing movies is necessarily subjective, and some of them I actually like. All of these movies, however, fell well short of my expectations and left me utterly disappointed. Your results may vary, but as for myself, these are the 10 most disappointing movies of the last decade (1999-2009).
By the way, does the fact that it’s already May 2010 make this list somewhat overdue? Eh.
Lady in the Water (2006)
Unlike most people, I thought Signs and The Village were both very good movies, and I consider Unbreakable the best superhero movie ever made. In my book, Shyamalan was more than just an up-and-coming hot director; he had made his mark and deserved to be in the discussion of the best directors working today. The preview for Lady in the Water didn’t reveal much, but a creepy score and the inclusion of Paul Giamatti – a terrific actor – gave me high hopes for whatever Shyamalan had in store. Would there be another twist? Would there be scenes so suspenseful that I could hardly breathe?
No. Not even close. Instead, Lady in the Water was a silly story that went nowhere. Between the not-so-subtle pot shots at movie critics, some dude with a giant arm, and a totally unscary wolf creature made out of grass, this movie was awful.
The graphic novel (or comic book, for those of you who are somehow offended by the term “graphic novel”) Watchmen is one of my favorite pieces of literature, and for years many argued – including Alan Moore – that it would be unfilmable. But when Zack Snyder announced that he intended to shoot the film as faithfully as possible and production photos showed how incredible the costume and set design looked, I believed that something epic could be in store.
I still remember watching the movie in the theater and being blown away by the opening credits. The Comedian’s murder was slightly less impressive than the credits, and the movie became more unwatchable as time went on. Eventually, it was more than I could take. And getting rid of the squid??? Come on. I’ve tried to watch Watchmen again when it came on cable, but I just can’t. It’s dreadful.
Terminator Salvation (2009)
Look, I’m well aware that Terminator 3 was awful, but all signs pointed to Terminator Salvation restoring the franchise’s glory. McG said all the right things concerning Cameron’s mythology, Christian Bale was fresh off his role as Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight and seemed to care deeply about the script and, best of all, this Terminator movie was going to be set in the future. What could go wrong?
I saw Terminator Salvation at a midnight showing at a theater in the East Village. Nothing says “owned” like leaving a theater at 2:00 am, having to work the next day, and being full of regret that you got excited for a shitty movie directed by a guy named McG. I really should have known better.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
A Wolverine movie starring Hugh Jackman and directed by Gavin Hood – a film director who didn’t regularly direct superhero movies – sounded like a great idea if the idea was to explore the psyche of Wolverine. I loved the idea of having Liev Schreiber as Sabretooth, too, as he’s a talented, accomplished actor and could bring further credibility to the project (I saw him as Henry V in Central Park one summer and have been a big fan ever since). And the casting of Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool? Perfect.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine wasn’t just bad, it was abysmal. It was one of the worst superhero movies I have ever seen. All the ingredients should have made for a cinematic feast of epic proportions, but instead we were left with rotting meat filled with maggots.
The Matrix Revolutions (2003)
You may be asking why I have Revolutions on this list and not Reloaded. The answer is, quite simply, because I really, really like Reloaded. A lot. I think the action is incredible – the fight in the chateau is one of the best ever – and the mythology of the Matrix is expanded, revealing depth and philosophy not normally associated with most films. If you hate it, cool – I know I’m in the minority – but I don’t. When Neo stopped the sentinels in the real world at the end of Reloaded, it was a mind f*ck the likes I hadn’t experienced since…well, The Matrix.
And look – I actually like Revolutions. I don’t think it’s anything great, and it can get a bit cheesy at times, too. It’s also pretty predictable, considering the Wachowskis wrote themselves into a corner with the whole Neo-as-Christ theme. It’s still a decent way to tie up the trilogy, but it’s also the Return of the Jedi to A New Hope that is The Matrix. Again, I don’t think Revolutions sucked, but I was sorely disappointed and expected a hell of a lot more.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
The return of Harrison Ford in Indy’s trademark fedora coupled with Steven Spielberg directing was more than enough to get me excited for the fourth installment of the Indiana Jones trilogy. I mean, Spielberg doesn’t make crappy movies, and Ford would never agree to return as Indy without a story worth telling, right?
Had I known that Shia Labeouf would be swinging from vines like a monkey and that Indy himself would survive a nuclear blast by hiding in a refrigerator, I never would have seen this in the first place. South Park really hit the nail on the head when Spielberg and Lucas were having their way with Indy.
The Da Vinci Code (2006)
Unlike the rest of the modern world, I didn’t read the book…but everyone who did told me how incredible it was. Plus, you can usually trust Tom Hanks and Ron Howard, so there was every reason to believe that The Da Vinci code would be pretty good. I mean, if the book entertained as many people as it did, surely a film adaptation – no matter how rigid or loose – would be entertaining as well. Uhh, well, not so much. Hanks’ hair was the most interesting thing on screen at any given time, so the movie was ultimately quite forgettable. I think there was something about Jesus getting it on with a chick named Mary, but honestly, I wanted this movie to end after about 30 minutes into it.
The Phantom Menace (1999)
Alright, seriously: do you think there was a Star Wars fan in this entire galaxy who wasn’t disappointed with The Phantom Menace? To me, this is easily the most disappointing movie of all time. I don’t think I need to explain why, and the picture above has a lot to do with it.
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Bear with me for a moment. Stanley Kubrick is my favorite director of all time. I think he’s better than anyone working today, and his films are true works of art. There’s more depth and nuance in a Stanley Kubrick film than there are in most novels, and calling the man a genius simply doesn’t do him justice. Before Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick’s most recent film was Full Metal Jacket, which came out in 1987 (I was just 9 at the time). So you can understand my excitement when a new Kubrick film was finally going to be released when I was an adult. It didn’t matter that Tom Cruise was in it and it didn’t matter what it was about. It was Kubrick, and that was enough for me.
Like Revolutions, I don’t hate Eyes Wide Shut. In fact, I think it’s pretty decent (with the caveat being that Kubrick died during post-production, and if you know anything about Kubrick, you know that he had a hand in all and every aspect of his films). A lot of people hate it, but I don’t care – it’s better than 99% of what passes for film today, of this I am certain. Still, when compared to movies like 2001 and A Clockwork Orange and Dr. Strangelove, Eyes Wide Shut doesn’t hold up very well at all. In fact, it doesn’t belong in the conversation with those aforementioned films. Thus, its inclusion on this list isn’t because I think it’s a bad movie (although I am sure many of you do). It’s because for a Stanley Kubrick film, it’s just not very good.
Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Sam Raimi had shown with Spider-Man 2 that he was capable of making a great superhero movie, so hopes were high for Spider-Man 3. Plus, Venom! But Venom was horribly miscast, too many villains – as too many villains often do – forced character development to come to a screeching halt, and…what was the other thing that bugged me? Oh yeah – Emo Parker. Maybe I should have seen the writing on the wall, but this movie was so bad that it effectively killed the franchise.
And there you have it – the 10 movies of the past decade that disappointed me the most. I’m pretty sure we’ll have a bunch in common, but what are some movies that you were really fired up to see that disappointed you? Let me know!