14. Alexander – Dir. Oliver Stone
Alexander became another notorious face smack of a film, and another passion project gone down in flames. Stone long labored to bring the historical conqueror to the big screen and the result was… less than historical. A troubled shoot, reedits galore, and a bizarre performance by Angelina Jolie left the overtly blonde Colin Ferrell in the dust.
Redemption Film: Savages?
While it wasn’t the glorious return to force for Oliver that we were all hoping for, it was half a good ride, enough to grow green buds of hope for all of us missing the “JFK” days.
13. The Polar Express – Dir. Robert Zemeckis
If anyone in the 80’s rivaled the great Spielberg’s reign of Hollywood supreme popcorn moviemaker, it was Zemeckis. He showed a different side to the teen comedy by throwing in a bit of time travel and a crazy doctor, resulting in cementing his legacy in cinema forever. After “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” Zemeckis was interested in technology took hold.
Taking the beloved children’s book to the screen seemed like a home run, until the dead-eyed completely-motion-captured animated characters started creeping the heck out of people by riding the “Uncanny Valley” a little to closely, and bloating a simple story with wild train adventures.
Redemption Film: Flight
After two more strange-looking motion capture animated projects, Zemeckis returned to more traditional movie making with the drama “Flight”, a perfectly paced and entertaining film of a down in the drunken dregs of a pilot who becomes a hero.
Robert does what he does best with his masterful balance of emotional weight and comedy in a story of redemption. Directing Denzel Washington to one of his most nuanced performances ever.
12. Girl 6 – Dir. Spike Lee
This blip on Spike’s history was a rather unfunny romp of a girl who turns to phone sex for work… and I’ve pretty much forgotten everything else.
Redemption Film: Bamboozled
One of the very first films shot on digital cameras. This pointed satire on the television industry racial stereotype portrayals in media was a welcomed return to political form for Spike. With brilliant performances and some of his strongest writing to date. This was a thought-provoking breath of fresh air.
11. Jabberwocky – Dir. Terry Gilliam
Coming off of his “Monty Python” run. Gilliam attempted this comical fantasy adaption of Lewis Carroll’s poem. Often mistaken for a “Monty Python” film, Michael Palin stars to a less than funny and mostly uncomfortable tale of a knight sent to kill a beast to win the hand of a princess. With all the visuals familiar with some of “Python’s” best films, but lacking the sharp wit and irreverent humor. This just fell flat on its face.
Redemption Film: Time Bandits
Getting right back in the rind, Gilliam turns in one of his best works. The film is about The time-travelling group of midgets make a treasure hunting journey with a map to the universe, picking up an imaginative boy on the way and running away from evil. This was destined to become the classic which it is.
10. The Terminal – Dir. Steven Spielberg
Spielberg was coming off of the intelligent and fresh change-of-pace “Catch Me if You Can”, and delivered this forced feeling comedy of Tom Hanks as a Russian traveler who gets stuck in an airport. Watching Tom Hanks go through culture shock cuteness as a non-English speaking innocent baby didn’t come off with the usual endearing tone they were hoping for. This film became a mostly forgettable and awkward affair and a rare misfire from Spielberg.
Redemption Film: Munich
After romping with aliens and Tom Cruise, Steven came back with this hard hitting “R” rated revenge film of the top-secret Israeli military team hunting down the people responsible for the murder of the Olympic team. Rather underappreciated, it’s surprisingly strong and intense for the usually “softer” Spielberg.
9. G.I. Jane – Dir. Ridley Scott
Ridley has a strange roster of classic masterpiece level films, and surprisingly muddled middle ground dramas when you look at “Blade Runner” next to “White Squall”. It just makes you cock your head just a little. This Demi Moore led military drama almost felt close to something of a Michael Bay film. A play-by-numbers story of fighting against the odds and the system for something to prove, just below the standard level of quality Ridley usually revels in.
Redemption Film: Black Hawk Down
Yes, “Gladiator” was technically after G.I. Jane, but “Black Hawk Down” had the intensity and pull no punches adrenaline that reminded us of why Ridley is the master he is.
8. The Cotton Club – Dir. Francis Ford Coppola
After Francis hit it big with his “Godfather” films, and gained some of his art house cred from the two TS Hinton adaptions of “The Outsiders” and “Rumble Fish” (maybe my favorite Coppola film). He re-teamed with producer Robert Evens to produce this bloated period gangster film.
Based on the famous Jazz club in NYC, it was chock full of famous faces with middling and boring results. Too many cooks in the kitchen could have been the issue due to the struggling relationship between Coppola and Evens, but mostly just a flat attempt at an art film as a studio film.
Redemption Film: Peggy Sue Got Married
A now comedy classic, Francis changed it up with this humorous and endearing tale of a housewife taking a “what if” trip down memory lane. A great Kathleen Turner faints at her high school reunion waking up back in her last days of high school. Starring a future superstar-supporting cast of the likes of Jim Carrey and Nick Cage.