The 10 Worst Movies by Great Directors

October 23, 2009

There are a lot of great directors known for their many amazing pieces of cinema. But masters can’t always be on point every second of the day.

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10. Hulk - Ang Lee

With solid films like The Ice Strom and Sense and Sensibility, Ang Lee has seen critical acclaim the world over. This respect seemed to bend a bit after the release of 2003’s Hulk. On an editing and special effects level the film was pretty solid, but the story and more importantly the directing seemed to be crushed under the computer graphics bonanza that took place during most of the movie. Ang Lee even threw on the motion capture suit and played Hulk himself. As awesome and ambitious as this is, it still didn’t make Hulk a character that audiences could have an emotional connection with. I did find it great that the CG Hulk looked a lot like the original Jack Kirby design. But this was not Ang Lee at his best.

9. New York, New York - Martin Scorsese


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Let me start off by saying that Marty was reportedly doing a ton of drugs during the filming of this movie, and it definitely shows. I’m not saying that this film is bad, it’s just Scorsese’s weakest work. The performances from Liza and Bobby are good, but the characters are extremely hard to connect with. The film is also very stylized and looks incredible, but it seemed to be a little too “Hollywood” for Marty at the time. Again, I’m not saying that this is a horrible film, it’s just an unbalanced work from one the greatest ever to get behind the camera.

8. Anything Else – Woody Allen


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Woody Allen is no doubt a very talented artist with many gifts as a director, but he has a tendency to pump out too many features in very short periods of time. With this said, it seems impossible not to have a couple spoiled eggs pop out from time to time. I could have chosen from a number of mediocre Allen selections like Celebrity or even Scoop, but I would go with the incredibly rickety 2003 film Anything Else. On an acting level I found Jason Biggs and Christina Ricci to be really annoying. They are trying far too hard for their own good and seem to force unneeded wacky emotions out of Woody’s dialogue. The only good parts of the film that are remotely watchable are the scenes with Woody himself.

7. Planet of the Apes – Tim Burton


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Being a big fan of the original Planet of the Apes series I’ve really tried to give this movie a chance. This, of course, was impossible. Casting Mark Wahlberg as Captain Leo Davidson was Burton’s first critical mistake. This is why remaking films can be such a volatile scenario. How in the hell can you top Charlton Heston’s performance as George Taylor from the 1968 original? First off, you can’t. Second, who thought Marky Mark could pull it off in the first place?! Even if you want to call this a "re-imagining" of the original, viewers are still going to compare the two no matter what.

6. Spider-Man 3 – Sam Raimi


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Some may not consider Sam Raimi a "great director," but I beg to differ. He's easily one of the more diverse directors working today. With Evil Dead 2, Raimi created one of the greatest and most original horror flicks ever made. After this success, Sam went on to put out classics like Army of Darkness and surprisingly solid works like A Simple Plan and The Gift. Even The Quick and the Dead and Darkman were extremely fun popcorn flicks.

Raimi further showed the true depths of his talents with the release of Spider-Man 1 and 2. It’s no easy task to put together a high-budget action blockbuster and satisfy die-hard comic book fans as well as the critics. He accomplished both of these tasks with the first two installments of the series, but Spider-Man 3 was a completely different story. I went into the theatre expecting the film to pick up right where 2 ended and was sadly mistaken. After taking in the trainwreck that was Tobey Maguire’s dance scene, I couldn’t believe that Raimi allowed this eyesore to ever see the light of day. The entire movie was a jumbled mess with zero recognizable elements of his signature touch. It felt like I was watching something Brett Ratner directed.

5. The Brothers Grimm - Terry Gilliam


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Terry Gilliam has always had an amazing imagination and devilish sense of humor, but things really fell apart with the release of The Brothers Grimm. Even though the movie is visually stimulating, Heath Ledger and Matt Damon get trapped behind confusing dialogue and spastic direction. I can’t tell you how many people I've talked to that turned this movie off halfway through. I even had to take a break during my first viewing because I had no idea what the hell was going on. This was really made by the same guy that did Brazil? This can’t be true.

4. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - Steven Spielberg


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When Indiana Jones survived an atomic bomb blast by jumping into a lead-lined refrigerator in the opening sequence of Indy 4 I knew us fans were in very big trouble. What the funk were they thinking? Spielberg usually has a great eye for what works and what doesn’t on screen, but Crystal Skull showcased flaw after directing flaw. Harrison Ford was great doing an aging Indy and there were a few redeeming moments that gave you that warm fuzzy feeling from Raiders and Temple of Doom. Unfortunately for Harrison, the jaw-dropping alien ending seemed to overshadow anything and everything with its utter ridiculousness.

3. Psycho – Gus Van Sant


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If there was a Top 10 Worst Remakes of All Time it would be easy to guess that the remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 landmark would be very high on the list. This film is also easily Gus’ worst work to date. Some may feel that films like Last Days and Elephant are some of his most tedious material, but I look at those as more as art pieces than an actual feature films. This movie was Van Sant trying to step outside of his box and honor one of the greatest filmmakers ever to do it. Unfortunately for Gus, his vision of what the film should've been didn't match up with the end result.

2. Alexander - Oliver Stone


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Oliver Stone has a legitimate track record of making some of the greatest and most groundbreaking films in the history of American cinema. From the ‘80s to the ‘90s, Stone was able to present viewers with solid work after solid work. The combination of his brilliant writing/directing skills and Robert Richardson’s cinematography genius has spawned sheer perfection over the years. Although in the late '90s, it seemed Oliver was not the great director he once was. Any Given Sunday was okay, but it just wasn’t the director at the top of his game. But with 2004's Alexander the s*** really hit the fan. Alexander might be one of the most miscast films ever made. Angelina Jolie’s accent is f***ing laughable and Colin Farrell shouldn’t have been allowed to be on the screen in the first place. And don’t get me started on the script. I wish there were some redeeming qualities about the movie, but I honestly can’t find any. Can you?

1. The Godfather Part III - Francis Ford Coppola


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Let's just say right now that Francis has directed three of the greatest films in the history of cinema. The Godfather, The Godfather Part II and Apocalypse Now easily put Coppola in a category with the brightest and best. He is also a true artist in every sense of the word. He basically went broke making Apocalypse Now and almost lost his mind in the process. But that’s what real artists are supposed to do. This is why I can’t understand why he ever agreed to do the final Godfather feature after almost 16 years after Part II was released.

I realize that it was going to be impossible for Francis to recreate the same magic he had had from the first two Godfather films, but casting his daughter as a prominent character pretty much plagued this movie from the get go. It’s not all Sofia Coppola’s fault though. Part III feels extremely forced and the script/story seemed to be too extravagant for its own good. Most of the performances are respectable, but everything is so overdramatic. It feels more like a soap opera than a realistic dramatic thriller. Francis does have other questionable films like Jack, but this is the one that will always stand out as his most disappointing.