Lists

15 Not-So-Good Movies That Could Have Been Great

June 14, 2017
11 min read

There are infinite number of bad movies made every year. More often than not they get dumped off as trash. But when does a film infuriate you so much because you know that it could have easily been a great film at the hands of another director or a much more well toned story? The reasons for a film to be considered as bad could be plenty; lazy writing, unoriginal plot, poor performances and direction. But then there are these films that come out with sky high ambition but falter on so many levels despite its potential classic element. Here’s the list of not-so-good movies that could have been great. Also, please do note that the numbers do not reflect ranking of any kind.

15. Scarface (1983)

Brian De Palma’s ‘Scarface’ is a film venerated by fans and movie buffs across the world as one of the best gangster films ever made. And on paper, ‘Scarface’ has everything in the making of a classic underdog-triumph saga. But on-screen it just does not translate well enough as we see a brash Al Pacino mouthing a distorted Cuban accent with mindless, ludicrous violence spewed on to almost every frame. De Palma toys with the storyline and all we get to see are not human beings but mere caricature. When a film fails to get its meaning across in an effectively cinematic manner, it comes off as a travesty. And ‘Scarface’ embodies every single element of the word travesty.

 

14. The Devil’s Advocate (1997)

‘The Devil’s Advocate’ tells a highly ambitious story of a young, married lawyer who gets a new job with a firm in New York. He soon discovers that his boss is the Devil and has some sinister plans to wreck his life. With such a well-themed story-line, ‘The Devil’s Advocate’ could have turned out to be a taut, intense tale of greed, ambition and morality. But the film fails miserably on many level and comes off as an extremely forced implementation of a series of convoluted plot-devices and suffers from a tonal confusion as it gets torn between an intense psychological thriller and a creepy supernatural flick.

 

13. Death Proof (2007)

Quentin Tarantino rarely disappoints. And even when does tend to get extremely self-indulgent at times, the result is still high quality entertainment. But that was not so the case with’Death Proof’. ‘Death Proof’ can be seen as Tarantino’s tribute to the slasher/exploitation genre and from the outset, it definitely feels like a compelling film. But unlike his other works, ‘Death Proof’ never really engages you at all. Tarantino has this knack for writing sharp, witty dialogues and his quirky characters have always been fascinating. ‘Death Proof’, however, fails on both these aspects and ultimately comes off as a tiring, overly stretched out conversational bore-fest with hardly any scene adding significance to the plot-line. A much more restrained dialogue writing and more focus on the visual aspects would have made way for a compelling genre masterpiece.

 

12. Deep Blue Sea (1999)

‘Deep Blue Sea’ is so hilarious that it has gone on to become a guilty pleasure for most people. ‘Deep Blue’ is downright bad on many levels; direction, originality, the use of CGI. The film tells the story of a group of researchers who’ve been struggling to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. However, their collaboration with sharks turn out to be a nightmare. The film apparently does not have what it takes to be a genre masterpiece but it gets over ambitious at most places and ends up being just plain awful. The film could have explored the visuality of the medium a lot better and created a more thoughtful, intelligent piece of sci-fi, polishing its seemingly good plot ideas.

 

11. Prometheus (2012)

First prequel instalment in the highly popular ‘Alien’ franchise, Ridley Scott’s ‘Prometheus’ tells the story of a group of explorers who are sent far deep into the outer space in order to uncover the mysteries of the human origins. However, they arrive on a far-off universe and discovers something that could destroy the human race. As one of the highly anticipated films in recent times, ‘Prometheus’ disappoints to a great extent. The plot never really unfolds itself in a more clinical, coherent manner and some of the twists are annoyingly predictable despite such high thematic ambitions. A lot of the questions remain smartly left open for interpretation but the build up for such an ambiguity is poorly done, leaving us with very little space for imagination.

 

10. Public Enemies (2009)

Michael Mann was once a master of his craft and has made some of the stylish crime thrillers of all time. His post 2000s works, however, haven’t quite matched the class and finesse of his earlier films and has often disappointed on numerous occasions. And coming from a man who made stone cold classics such as ‘Heat’ and ‘The Insider’, ‘Public Enemies’ can be seen as one of the biggest disappointments of the 21st century. The film depicts the final years of gangster John Dillinger who is pursed by FBI agents. Mann is right in his zone here but ‘Public Enemies’ lacks the emotional core of ‘Heat’ and the sheer riveting power of ‘The Insider’. We never really get to feel the characters and the tense action sequences lack the raw intensity that once made Mann the master of his genre. ‘Public Enemies’ with its inspiring setting and searing ambition could have thrown in more emotional substance into its central characters but sadly ends up being an unsatisfying drama on many levels.

 

9. The Forgotten (2004)

Like ‘Identity’, ‘Forgotten’ also happens to be the kind of film where the ending absolutely destroys the film to the point where you wouldn’t care for a revisit. The film tells the story of a mentally disturbed woman who thinks her son died in a plane crush but perhaps none of them, including her husband, seems to believe her. In one of the lamest plot-twists ever written, we are revealed that her son has been kidnapped by aliens. With Julianne Moore donning the role of a mentally disturbed woman and a relatable premise, the film could have been an emotionally enriching tale of motherly love but instead comes off as extremely shallow and ludicrous.

 

8. Ocean’s Twelve (2004)

Steven Soderberg’s sequel to his own classic heist thriller is one of the more disappointing ventures in cinema. Once again featuring a flamboyant star-cast, ‘Ocean’s Twelve’ definitely seems promising and has all the fire power required to deliver another highly entertaining genre classic. Sadly though, it falters and gets trapped in itself with a hugely convoluted mess of a story that tries to outrival its prequel on every level but ends up slipping miles behind breathing distance of its first installment. ‘Ocean’s Twelve’ eventually ends up being the worst film of the Ocean’s trilogy and possibly one of the worst sequels ever made.

 

7. Outbreak (1995)

‘Outbreak’ tells the story of a team of scientists who struggle to prevent the outbreak of a deadly virus, carried by a monkey, in a small town. ‘Outbreak’ has some really memorable moments and some truly great scenes of horror but what it lacks is a good amount of grace and subtlety in its execution. Most of the scenes are so over-the-top that you may find yourself hard to take it seriously despite the serious subject matter and a supremely talented cast. The heroics depicted towards the end of the film feels plain laughable and pulls you right out of it. However a more restrained, clinical approach towards dealing the subject matter and its depiction of the characters’ emotional turmoil of its could well have turned this film into a masterpiece or a very close one.

 

6. The Happening (2008)

The one-off Hitchcockian brilliance of M. Night Shyamalan was long gone. ‘The Happening’ is another one of his long series of disappointments that gets caught up in the same kind of issues wrecking his works post ‘The Sixth Sense’. ‘The Happening’ tells a compelling story of a family trying to escape a human plague that causes people to commit suicide. As with most Shyamalan films, there are some amazing moments of tension build up and has a fascinating atmospheric quality to it that pulls you into the film. But it falters miserably with its shallow narrative and fails to engage you on an emotional level as there is absolutely no space for character building and eventually ends up being a very bland, predictable thriller film.

 

5. The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)

We all remember the time when Steven Spielberg’s ‘Jurassic Park’ came out, rocking the cinemas and capturing the dreams and enthralling a generation of kids with the sheer magic of cinema. Expectations rose with the sequel four years later but sadly the result was nowhere near satisfying as the original. ‘Lost World’ is more visually stunning than the original but lacks the humanity of it as the characters feel like they are designed for mere plot purposes and the film could have practically gone on without them. It’s a technical achievement with some breathtaking moments to it but does not coalesce as a thoroughly entertaining and fascinating adventure drama.

 

4. Identity (2003)

Identity

‘Identity’ is one of those films where the ending absolutely damages the film in its entirety. The film is quintessential Hollywood thriller; A group of strangers stranded at a motel on a rainy night who realise that they are being murdered one after the other. Now what could possibly go wrong despite having such a well thought out plot? Well, just about everything you could possibly ever imagine. A more shocking, haunting revelation in the finale would have worked brilliantly with the narrative and the overall tonality of the film but instead it resorts to some lazy ideas about the entire set of events happening inside the mind of a man who wants to get rid of the multiple sides of his personality.

 

3. Chain Reaction (1996)

‘Chain Reaction’ has a fantastic storyline about the invention of a non-contaminating power source based on hydrogen and the attempts by the U.S government to prevent this new technology from being implemented. However, its on-screen translation is possibly the worst one could ever imagine. The film, despite such a strong storyline, does not captivate you for a moment and resorts itself to mere expository techniques as the characters are hardly given any significant depth for us to invest ourselves in them. ‘Chain Reaction’ tries to break new grounds but ends up as a colossal cinematic mess.

 

2. Dune (1984)

Yes, David Lynch’s infamous ‘Dune’ debacle is one of the biggest disappointments in the history of cinema. Based on Frank Herbert’s novel of the same name, ‘Dune’ was under the process of being developed into a film since the 70s and many directors including Alejandro Jodorowsky, Arthur P. Jacobs and Ridley Scott showed interest in taking up the project. The project ended up in the hands of Lynch and the result was a cinematic mess of gigantic proportions. Lynch’s previous two films received immense critical acclaim and was just the man to bring vision for Herbert’s epic sci-fi masterpiece on screen. Much of the film’s issues can be attributed to the studio interference in the film with regards to the extended cut version. Lynch himself remains disappointed by the film’s output and blames the studio execs and producers for obstructing his artistic vision and depriving him the kind of creative freedom he desired to have over the film.

 

1. The Village (2004)

M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘The Village’ is perhaps one of the most widely hated films ever. But the film has intriguing qualities to it; creepy, tense and deeply atmospheric. But ‘The Village’ disappoints in its lack of substance and extremely weak plot-writing. With a more well-wrought storyline and a clever ending, this one could have almost rivalled Shyamalan’s earlier classic ‘The Sixth Sense’. But all it ends up being is, a lazily written, laughable mess of a horror that blatantly exposes plot-holes with its ending and almost humiliates your senses.

SPONSORED LINKS