Editing plays a pivotal role in crafting a cinematic masterpiece. A single bad scene could damage a great film. There are good scenes and bad scenes. A scene could be called bad for a number of reasons. Maybe the scene felt out of place or perhaps it just doesn’t drive the narrative in any ways. But bad scenes irreparably damage the film which is why trimming out the excess or unwanted is quite essential to the process of filmmaking. And as cinephiles it pains us to see a single bad moment in a good film. So I’ve managed to sit down and come up with a list of worst movie scenes ever that, I feel, should have been deleted. Many of these are actually worst movie death scenes.
15. Casualties of War – “Final Scene”
‘Casualties of War’ is one of Brian De Palma’s best films. With the Vietnam war as the backdrop, the film is a deeply humanistic tale of determination, power, resilience and humanity. But I was quite underwhelmed by the film’s ending. The plot revolves around a soldier who single-handedly fights for a Vietnamese girl who is being tortured by a group of American soldiers. The entire events happen in the mind of the protagonist as a result of his overwhelming guilt over not being able to save the girl. But towards the end, a woman resembling the same Vietnam girl walks out of the train and has a moment with him outside. This dreamy sequence seems like a misfit in a film that is otherwise very powerful, gut-wrenching and realistic. There just could have been a different ending to the film.
14. Kramer vs Kramer (1979) – “Phyllis Caught Naked”
Honestly, I’m not sure how this scene was included in the final cut. Was the scene intended to be a light-hearted moment in an otherwise tense drama? Because if it is so, then it clearly fails on that note. ‘Kramer vs Kramer’ is quite simply one of the best family dramas of all time. And I could probably recall every single scene in the film and each of them play well to the narrative except for this one. It just feels so abrupt, embarrassing, awkward and terribly out of place.
13. Planet of the Apes (2001) – “The Lincoln Scene”
Yes, we all know what Tim Burton did with the 1968 sci-fi classic. So everything goes well in here. We have Wahlberg’s character coming out against all odds, surviving the atrocities of the apes and travelling back in time to the Earth. Here, he is shocked to find out that they have gained power over the earth too as he sees General Thade, the most evil one of all the apes, in place of the Abraham Lincoln statue. Apart from how terrible the ending was, the scene itself is laughably bad and comes off as hilarious instead of being shocking and terrifying.
12. Django Unchained – “Quentin Tarantino Scene”
I’ve often wondered why Quentin Tarantino makes these silly appearances in his films. It sure doesn’t affect the film in any way but can sometimes be quite annoying considering his limited abilities as an actor. His turn as an Australian in ‘Django Unchained’ has to be one of the most cringe-worthy cameo appearances of all time. The accent is terrible and he seems visibly out of place in a scene that could have been a very tense moment in the film.
11. Forrest Gump – “Dorm Room Scene”
‘Forrest Gump’ is one of the loveliest cinematic experience I’d love to cherish for a lifetime. It’s naive, simplistic and stupid at many places but it’s undeniably endearing charming and speaks about life in a very simple yet effective manner. I wouldn’t love to nitpick but there’s this one scene that I thought was totally out of place. It’s the scene where Jenny and Forrest stay in her dorm room on a rainy night and the two set off to bed. Jenny removes her clothes, holds Forrest’s hand and places it on her breast. The scene feels unnecessary considering how it affects our view of Jenny’s character and we feel every bit as awkward as Forrest in that moment. A bad scene in an otherwise lovely film.
10. Gravity – “Kowalski Returns”
Alfonso Cuaron’s breathtaking sci-fi masterpiece is the kind of film that redefines our perceptions of the art form. ‘Gravity’ is an astonishing achievement in filmmaking and is possibly one of the best sci-fi films of the 21st century. But there’s this tiny little sequence, I feel, nearly took me out of the movie. When Ryan loses all hope of surviving, we see Kowalski entering the capsule, inspiring her to not give up and fight for her life. It turns out that the scene was just Ryan’s hallucination and Kowalski is long gone. It just feels so naive and cliched to have such a sequence in a film that is otherwise very clinical and precise in its approach.
9. Return of the Jedi – “Jedi Rocks”
The third and final installment in the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy is probably the last good film of the entire series. But I am not quite sure what the makers were thinking when they included this scene in the final cut. I couldn’t possibly analyse the scene because it’s outrageously bad, childish, stupid and unbearably cringeworthy. The use of music is laughable and feels miserably out of place.
8. The Matrix Reloaded – “Zion Party Scene”
The Wachowski Brothers’ sequel to the revolutionary sci-fi masterpiece did not quite receive the same kind of praise its predecessor received but was indeed a good film if not for a few plot-holes and this one scene. The Zion party scene is one big mess in an otherwise decently directed film. We have a whole bunch of dancers, barely clothed, having a blast with some loud music while Keanu and Carrie make love at the back. The scene is a complete misfit and hampers the flow of the narrative as it just doesn’t gel well with the overall tone of the film.
7. The Devil’s Advocate – “Ending”
‘The Devil’s Advocate’ could have turned out to be a classic but towards the end it just gets way too self-indulgent and caught up in its own ambitions. The film indeed has some great moments and thrills but the last two sequences ruin the film completely. The whole “Devil” monologue by Pacino is so badly executed and acted that you just can’t help but feel it’s totally out of place. It’s over-the-top, hilarious and unbelievably ridiculous. And what’s worse? Towards the end we are revealed that it was all just Keanu’s nightmare!
6. Outbreak – “Movie Theatre Scene”
‘Outbreak’ is just another case of a movie with great premise that could have gone on to become a genre classic but it just fails on many levels. The acting by the cast is superb but the script is so wrought with cliches and sentimentality that you won’t take the film any seriously. This particular scene in question depicts the contamination of the virus in a movie theatre. It’s not a terrible scene by any means but the execution is way too over-the-top and lacks a good amount of subtlety which would have been far more effective. It just comes off as a very juvenile, cliched approach and the impact hardly hits you.
5. The Godfather Part III – “Mary and Vincent Love Scene”
‘The Godfather Part III’ could well be a lesson on how to not screw up a sequel. As a standalone, Part III is definitely a good film but as part of the trilogy, it is just plain awful and inexcusable. The whole Vincent-Mary relationship is pretty badly portrayed and feels awfully contrived, overly sentimental and tasteless. The scene, I feel, shouldn’t have made the cut would be the one where Vincent and Mary make love. By the time Coppola establishes their relationship, we hardly care for them anymore and this scene does nothing but annoy us to no end. It is just the culmination of everything bad that the film represents.
4. Lost in Translation – “Lip My Stockings”
Sofia Coppola’s ‘Lost in Translation’ is quite simply one of the best romantic films of the 21st century. However, what annoyed me the most in the film is when it irregularly shifts to comedy. Coppola sets up a beautiful, melancholic tone for the film but there happens to be a lot of moments when she tries to fuse elements of comedy but ultimately just comes off as annoying. One such moment I can recall would be the “lip my stocking” scene in which a woman knocks on Murray’s door and he opens it to let her in. She asks him to “lip” her stockings down. Murray is visibly embarrassed but she pulls him down to the floor and she screams “let me go”. It’s just a badly done piece of comedy.
3. Cape Fear – “The People vs. Samuel Bowden”
Unabashedly over-the-top and hilariously entertaining, Martin Scorsese’s version of the 1962 classic is indeed a fun ride. De Niro holds the film with his charisma and is both funny and frightening. Lack of subtlety does not really come off as in issue and for the most part the film is enjoyable except for the one where Cady holds Bowden at gunpoint and conducts a “trial”. It is here where the over-the-top approach of the film becomes unbearable as De Niro hams it up and chews the scenery and we are nearly pulled out of the film.
2. Ocean’s Twelve – “Julia Roberts Scene”
Steven Soderbergh’s star-studded sequel is barely as interesting and entertaining as its original. It has its moments indeed but overall the plot feels extremely convoluted and uninteresting for us to invest ourselves in it. The worst moment in the film is most definitely the scene where Julia Roberts plays herself in order to help the team with their heist plan. It’s an incredibly dumb scene, resorting to cheap manipulative tricks that exposes the thoughtless, juvenile script-writing.
1. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – “The Explosion”
It’s both sad and surprising to have a Steven Spielberg entry here because the man is a master at directing epic sequences. For the most part, ‘Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ works brilliantly. It sure isn’t without its share of plot flaws but a scene as glaringly ridiculous and stupid such as this is certainly inexcusable for a Steven Spielberg film. The town is being nuked and Jones realises this. It’s creeping in, the tension builds and guess what he does? He hides in a refrigerator! The town explodes and shatters into pieces. But Jones survives and gets his way out of the refrigerator after the explosion. Well, now that’s one hell of a smart theory!
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