The Top 10 Movies That Should Have Rocked

December 8, 2008

So many times a trailer comes out for a new movie and it looks like it’s going to be awesome – and then it sucks big time. All the buzz, all the teasers, all the press counted for squat when you actually sat in the theater for two hours as an overhyped piece of drivel flashed before your eyes. Often these movies are sequels to a really great franchise, but sometimes these losers hang solo. Either way, it sucks getting stuck with a stinker.

By Nathan Bloch

The following article does not represent the opinions of Spike TV or its affiliates.

 

10. American Gangster

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Ridley Scott’s cinematic paen to gangster entrepreneurialism had all the ingredients for a kick-butt movie: Russell Crowe, Denzel Washington, and a whole lotta fools getting dropped. But instead of a bad-ass portrait of thug life '70s style, we get a really characterless Crowe oafing about the screen and Washington basically doing a carbon copy of his character from Training Day. Major letdown.

9. The Alien vs. Predator movies

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Leave it to Paul Anderson (no relation to the talented Paul Thomas Anderson) to screw up what easily should have been an awesome sci-fi/horror movie. You have the freakiest alien ever to horrify theatergoers plus the deadliest alien, facing off in a weird pyramid thing in Antarctica, or wherever. This is the recipe for rad.

But Alien vs. Predator was not rad. Alien vs. Predator was the opposite of rad: it was ridiculous. The plot is nonexistent, the actors all seem to have graduated from Bob’s Discount College of Performance, and you even get pretty dang bored of the aliens and predators. Anderson had money, effects, and awesome creatures to make a really great movie. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him not be a stupid talentless moron.

Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, directed by first timers Colin and Greg Strause, was just a tiny bit better, if only because it upped the ante with a couple of really gross, violent scenes, and it was interesting (sort of) to see an alien/predator baby. But the plot was still extremely stupid, when there was any plot at all, and the C-list actors didn’t help much. Thanks for ruining what should’ve been a really cool franchise, guys.

8. Kingdom of Heaven

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Once again Ridley Scott dishes out a deep dish of disappointment. Kingdom of Heaven should’ve been Braveheart meets Gladiator (a Scott movie that was actually very good), but instead we got a snoozefest that proves, for the umpteenth time, that Orlando Bloom doesn’t have the charisma to play a leading man. In fact, he doesn’t really have the charisma to do anything other than shoot elfin arrows or battle ghosts aboard pirate ships. Bloom’s agent should try to limit him to acting in fantasy movies and modeling in Gap ads.

7. X-Men III

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Bryan Singer spent all that time and energy building up X-Men’s rep in parts I and II, and then Brett Ratner – the Atilla the Hun of directors – went and demolished it all, laying waste the land for miles around. He kills off two major characters without giving a satisfying reason for either; he gives us incoherent action sequences; and he leaves us hoping no one ever makes another X-Men movie ever, ever again. Now the characters are being picked off piecemeal for their own movies, because no one ever wants to put them together again. Thanks, Brett. Any other franchises you’d like to cannibalize? All you Conan fans out there will be pleased as punch to hear he’s got his mits on the remake.

6. Terminator III

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After the first two Terminator movies, everyone was pretty dang pumped about a third. Just one minor problem: James Cameron didn’t direct this one. They put Jonathan Mostow – who’s done nothing of note since, and had done nothing of note previously – in charge, and he did a commendable job of fouling the pristine waters of everything Terminator.

The script was stupid and campy; all the leads, except Schwarzenegger, were horribly miscast (Claire Danes? Come on, people!); and the removal of Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) from the story was a huge mistake.  Sarah Connor is the engine that keeps everyone going. She’s the only reason John Connor didn’t turn out to be a big, whiny p*$sy, and she kept the story believable. But no, they took her out and replaced her with...Claire Danes.

All we can hope now is that Terminator Salvation fixes what Terminator III broke. But if Josh Brolin’s rejection of the project and Christian Bale’s unenthusiastic pronouncements of it are any indication, we shouldn’t hold our breath.

5. Matrix II and III

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The first Matrix was awesome on so many levels I can’t even begin to get into it here. Suffice it to say it was really, really great. Unfortunately it was also a total fluke: the Wachowski brothers made nothing of value before or since The Matrix. How The Matrix turned out so good is a total mystery. It’s like when two short, fat, nasty people have tall, good-looking, athletic children. We know this happens, we just don’t know how or why.

4. Godfather III

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The first two Godfather films set the standard for filmmaking about the mob, and they established Francis Ford Coppola as one of the founding fathers of contemporary American cinema. And they were two of the best films ever made by Coppola that featured two of the best performances ever given by Al Pacino: these movies are classics and I in no way wish to disrespect their place in the pantheon of modern movies.

But Godfather III sucked ass. Pretty much in every conceivable way. Some kind of gross incestuous thing going on with Sofia Coppola and Andy Garcia’s characters, Al Pacino getting on our nerves, and a seriously dull story that feels nothing like the tone of the first two. You know it’s a bad sign if, at the end, you’re cheering when the protagonist’s daughter gets gunned down. Sofia Coppola’s performance was a crime against cinema and shall not be soon forgotten.

The fact that the Godfather trilogy ended so horribly was the real tragedy of part three.

3. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

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Let’s see… How long did we have to wait for this fourth and (hopefully) final installment in the Indiana Jones quadrilogy? Fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen…no, it was nineteen years. For…this?! Groundhogs and flying refrigerators and killer ants and bad Russian accents?!

Karen Allen seemed like she needed to be put into some kind of actors recovery program, Cate Blanchett needed a new wig, and Harrison Ford seemed pretty much fed up with the whole damn thing. The movie was too long, too boring, and totally unbelievable every step of the way, topped off nicely by a bunch of aliens and a spaceship.

What could have been a childhood revival of adventure and fun turned into an expose on filmmakers who are over the hill.

2. Alien Resurrection

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Alien 3 should really be on this list too, but for some people that was actually their favorite in the franchise, so in respect to them I’m leaving it off. However, Alien Resurrection was loved by no one, even if it was disdainfully tolerated by many. Yes, some of the effects were great, and yes, it was sweet to see Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) bust some heads as a part alien/part human hybrid.

But wow, the bungled mess that was Alien Resurrection gave me pause. First of all, it’s rumored the project went through 30 scripts and at least 3 directors before they settled on a mangled screenplay and the inappropriately selected Jean-Pierre Jeunet – a director better known for films like Amelie and The City of Lost Children. His lack of proficiency with the English language showed in every scene as characters uttered idiotic one-liners like, “Kill you! Does that compute?”

Nothing about this movie computed, including the final alien baby Ripley gives birth to after a yucky little orgy scene where she does the dance with no pants with about two hundred aliens. What we get is a lumbering, bumbling alien child that can barely stand upright, so awkward are its huge proportions, and yet it has no trouble catching everything that comes within a twenty foot radius of it. Winner of the crappiest actor in Alien Resurrection: Winona Ryder, who plays a female version of Bishop, an artificial human. Every word she utters increases our annoyance.

What a way to go out. You couldn’t restart this franchise now without James Cameron’s spleen, big-time smelling salts and a few thousand truck loads of money.

1. Spider-Man 3

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Many Spider-Man fans lived to see a very dark day indeed the day Spider-Man 3 hit the streets. We finally realized the limits of Sam Raimi’s talents, and it was not a pretty sight. With just one movie he defiled Sandman, Venom and Spider-Man, leaving us feeling empty and used up inside.

Spider-Man’s depths of despair were not very deep or dark, and Venom was a weenie in a black set of leotards. On top of everything, Sandman, for some unknowable reason, goes from being a villain to a hero with a heart of gold. So does Harry Osborn, for that matter, after learning from his butler (!!!) at the last minute that Spider-Man was not guilty of his father’s murder. Why this little tidbit wasn’t communicated to Harry sooner – say, I don’t know, sometime in the second movie – is beyond me.

I’m well aware Spider-Man 3 broke all kinds of money-making records, but that’s no excuse for it being a horrible movie. From Peter Parker’s dancing on tables to Kirsten Dunst’s reliably awful performance, this movie was possibly the biggest stinker of the decade.

 

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