Skip to content


10 Bad Movies That Could Have Been Great

25 August 2016 | Features, Film Lists | by Robbie Back

bad movies could have been great

Films with the most tantalising synopsis quite often result in disappointment, leaving us frustrated and in some cases, furious. It’s easily done, messing up a good idea.

What if Joel Schumacher had directed Goodfellas? What if Keanu Reeves had played Forrest Gump? What if Se7en wasn’t so immaculately edited and they hadn’t let Fincher keep that bleakly perfect ending? All great films start with a great idea, but the world of cinema is a tightrope and so often the script that sells the picture doesn’t even make it up on the screen.

So why do we fail? Purely because of how many things can go wrong. Editing, pacing, characterisation, set design, sound, actor performances, studio interference and directorial vision all must find equilibrium and cohesion, if you want to end up with a brilliant picture.

The industry seems to be churning out remake after reboot after mediocre sequel at the moment. Perhaps we will enter the “second chance” era of Hollywood cinema; where we go back and try to right the wrongs of the past.

If that is the case, these films are ripe for renewal. They all had potential. Some even maintain a cult status. However the enduring consensus is that these attempts missed the mark. Let’s look at why that might be and see if these are just brilliant ideas disguised as bad movies.


1. Waterworld (1995)


Idea: The ice caps have melted, the world has flooded and humanity has descended into piracy.

Famed for being the most expensive film production of that time and rumours of conflict between the two Kevin’s (Costner and the Director Kevin Reynolds) meant the hype for this release was massive.

The set designs were sublime, the concept was cool enough to be a J.G. Ballard novel and Kevin Costner was one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars. So what went wrong?

To put it simply, Waterworld didn’t know what it was. It fell somewhere between Mad Max, Hook and a Universal Studios water show (which it actually is). The campy villains and lukewarm love interest implied that this was a feature for the whole family to enjoy. That implication soon dissolves when someone tries to pay for child sex. With poor acting and tired pacing, this action flick was quickly slated.

The concept alone was crying out for groundbreaking cinematography. They had the very capable Dean Semler (Dances With Wolves, Apocalypto) at the helm, but unfortunately the direction causes the visuals to fall flat.

The film itself feels like it doesn’t believe its own concept. Rather than explaining things constantly to the viewer, just let us hold on for the ride. Make the villain more relatable (as opposed to the cartoonish Dennis Hopper), let Costner be likeable, and keep the pace up so there isn’t time for the viewer to question the accuracy of the watery apocalypse before them.


2. Sucker Punch (2011)

Sucker Punch (2011)

Idea: A girl is committed to a mental asylum, attempts to escape a lobotomy by envisioning her prison as a brothel and advances through her hallucinations utilising warrior combat.

Zack Snyder is divisive; a great quality in an artist. Dawn of the Dead, 300 and Watchmen lead critics to site him as an era defining director. The man has vision, but sadly, as a writer, he comes up wanting. He respectably tried to defy the trend and make an original sci-fi action flick with no other source material to draw from. It’s not Jupiter Ascending bad, but it’s not good.

Snyder should have recruited Alex Garland (28 Days Later, Dredd, Ex Machina) to write him a killer screenplay for this visual spectacular. Avoid the video game storytelling, forget about the acquisition of items for Babydoll’s escape and explore more of her home life with the visions.

The characters are what keep the visions grounded, rather than the impressively silly display we ended up with. He should have cast at least two bankable big name actors (Emma Watson, Scarlet Johansson) in lead roles to lure in the general public and worked a little harder on the coherence of his story.


3. Virus (1999)

Virus (1999)

Idea: An alien entity infiltrates a ship through a radio signal and wreaks havoc, attempting to convert humans into cyber slaves.

Virus is a terrible film with an awesome concept. This picture could have landed somewhere between Terminator and HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

But sadly the outcome was lacklustre and downright stupid. Donald Sutherland looks like he doesn’t care and Jamie Lee Curtis openly mocked the film. The CGI looked ten years older than it should have, especially considering this was released the same year as The Matrix.

The alien storyline could have commented more on humanity and left the audience feeling horrified as well as profoundly self-assessed. It should have drawn more from the comic source and not cast William Baldwin.

The cinematography is dreary, and with a concept as interesting as this, should have incorporated an unconventional style to represent the intelligence of the villain (perhaps framing the crew as though they were part of an observation).

Another positive could have been having “that scene” – a memorable graphic and bloody human/cyborg transformation rather than the clumsy stick-on-with-glue props we were given.


4. Open Water (2003)

Open Water

Idea: A couple are stranded in the open ocean after they are left behind on a scuba trip; they battle hypothermia and sharks to survive.

This tense thriller was so nearly a classic. Open Water’s shortcomings boiled down to the absence of characters we care about. The couple might as well have been mannequins floating in a tank. The brilliantly subtle camera placement and bold usage of real sharks was wasted all because little effort was expended establishing the characters.

If the film had fleshed out the characters more efficiently, not necessarily for a longer period of time, but just made us care, then the audience would have been treading water and holding their breath in the cinema along with them. Admittedly this film isn’t anywhere near bad, only dissatisfying when imagining the thrill ride it could have been.


5. Spider Man 3 (2007)


Idea: Spiderman is being seduced by evil and Harry is following his father’s footsteps.

Sadly, this film was a casualty of studio interference. If you ever get a hold of the original script, you will be desperately clutching the pages and asking yourself how we let this happen. Spiderman 3 was set to be the third instalment in the far better Spiderman franchise.

All was lost however when the studio felt that Spiderman needed three villains, bad CGI, horrendous fight banter, and the infamous Peter Parker dance sequences. Sam Raimi did direct this film, however it seemed more like damage control rather than his complete vision. The studio pressure meant that editing the bloated final cut was nightmare.

How to resolve this mess? Don’t rewrite a good script three times. Trust Raimi’s direction given the success he had with Spiderman 1 and 2. Good CGI takes time and detail, Spiderman 3 looks rushed because last-minute characters had to be generated quickly.

They should have paced Harry Osborn’s descent in to his father’s madness and allowed it to be as climactic as viewers had hoped it would be ever since Spiderman 1. This, combined with the temptation of Spiderman’s dark side, would have set up a compelling final act.



Pages: 1 2


Other Brilliant Movie Posts On The Web

Like Our Facebook Page and Get Daily Updates
  • GoktugAkay23

    In Time had a great potential

  • Ted Wolf

    I really liked Deep Blue Sea. Killing off the biggest name who should have been the hero was a stroke of genius.

    • Hornacek

      I love how that person is a guest in the director’s commentary, and when their character dies, he leaves the commentary.

      • Kara Paige

        i loved that also !

  • jann1k

    Sadly there are many more… :/

    Also I wouldn’t consider Sucker Punch as a bad movie, just a underrated one.
    And I gotta admit to Deep Blue Sea being probably my favorite guilty pleasure ^^

  • AmazingAmy

    I actually quite enjoyed waterworld. Add X men last stand here…f*ck brett ratner

  • Nick Owens

    I thought Suicide Squad was awesome, it delivered exactly what I hoped ad while it’s not a perfect movie it doesn’t deserve to be on this list, and neither does Spider-Man 3.

    Taste of Cinema really needs to stop posting lists about “bad movies”, especially since these are the opinion of only one person and not a group of people.

  • Rudi

    Sucker Punch, Spider Man 3 and Suicide Squad are already great. And Waterworld is just simple yet effective fun.

  • sol

    why does people get so annoyed about “bad” movies or actors list? is it so “unproductive” to have a few lists on that vein? I think it sparkles conversation and it’s FUN.

  • Mark Soloway

    You can tell the writer didn’t get Sucker Punch, as the plot is not about planning to escape the lobotomy, it is the lobotomy, the whole movie takes place in the fraction of a second as the ice pick destroys her brain, nothing else in the movie actually takes place. You’re basically watching her frontal cortex as it dies. As for Suicide Squad it takes place in Midway City not Gotham. Minor point, but for reals, you can’t criticize the movie if you don’t even know where it takes place, when it’s clearly spelled out multiple times.

  • Hornacek

    Open Water is on this list? Well, it got great reviews and has 72% on Rotten Tomatoes, maybe this writer got one of these wrong.

    Sucker Punch could be a great movie? Ok, this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about. SP is a horrible movie and nothing short of rewriting the entire story and recasting every role could make it any better. Using dancing and rape as female empowerment – no no no.

    • Erik

      Dancing and rape as female empowerment…..yeah, I think maybe you need to re-watch the movie….or stick to movies like Open Water where the message of the film doesn’t require thought….:)

      • Hornacek

        There’s nothing wrong with movies like Open Water, where it may not require much thought about the plot (couple goes diving, couple is left behind, couple gets eaten by sharks) but when it’s done well, it’s really scary.

        The only reason to watch Sucker Punch is to talk to other people about how horrible it is. No redeeming features whatsoever.

        • Erik

          Little harsh, but then I am admittedly not an expert on lacking redeeming features…

          • Hornacek

            Don’t think I was harsh, and didn’t mean to be. Just expressing my opinion that Open Water is a great movie, while Sucker Punch is without merit, with only 23% on Rotten Tomatoes, where female characters strip and dance where it’s played as if they’re empowering themselves but they’re really being raped by the asylum’s customers. Disgusting piece of trash.

          • Todd Swanson

            That’s ok you have obviously never been raped or had your real parents replaced by psychotics with no love for you, the fact that you managed to empower yourself to stay alive let alone maybe escape the deplorable conditions that is your life is somthing only truely broken souls would understand. I am glad that you don’t understand. Gives me hope but understand strange outlets for society to bleed out the poison, is what keeps the world sane, and most people questioning.

          • Hornacek

            That’s specious reasoning. With that logic, I could never enjoy or understand any science-fiction movie because I had never experienced the science-fiction plot devices included in the film.

            I find it incomprehensible that anyone could like Sucker Punch with its blatant misogyny and being raping as female empowerment. Feel sad for anyone that sees this poor excuse for a film this way.

          • That’s a good point. I can’t like Terminator because I’m not a futuristic time travelling robot.
            I can’t like Batman because Gotham City is fictional.
            I can’t watch Hong Kong Phooey because dogs can’t really talk. I can’t enjoy Wuxia films because I’m not Chinese. I can’t read Hagar the Horrible because Vikings are not longer pillaging.

          • Hornacek

            You pretty much backed up my entire point with your comment, so thanks.

          • How would you know whether someone else has been raped or not? You make an assumption without knowing the facts beforehand.

    • Becky Feldman

      Sucker Punch was a great film.

      • Hornacek

        Oh it’s so incredibly bad. The lead doesn’t talk for the first 20 minutes because Snyder realized she couldn’t act and the best way to go was for her not to speak as long as possible. And the story is so insulting – dancing and rape as female empowerment – just awful.

  • Poopmaster

    Jared letos joker is terrible

    • Becky Feldman

      No it’s not. He was a pretty good Joker.

      • Poopmaster


  • Erik

    Sucker Punch – not a bad movie….at all. Didn’t get the publicity it should have, and it’s a genre of it’s own for sure, with a message that may be too hard for some to understand or decipher…..but definitely not a bad movie. This is the biggest mistake of the article, though he’s off on several others as well….

  • Kara Paige

    Suckerpunch – she accepted the lobotomy, everything else was made up to cover the horror of the asylum before the lobotomy. The driver of the bus was the wise old man because that was also happening in her head – that was really the prime personality which survived.

    Open Water – it was a bad movie, because the characters sucked. there have been better people floating in water movies since then (The Reef)

    Deep Blue Sea – loved it. one of my favorite guilty pleasure shark movies!

  • Becky Feldman

    So many of these films like Sucker Punch and Suicide Squad are genuinely great films.

  • Franco Gonzalez

    AvP could have been great? really?