6. Chain Reaction (1996)
Idea: After scientists discover a new non-contaminating energy source that would render fossil fuels obsolete, they are pursued by a hostile government.
This thriller was paced horrendously, asked too much of Keanu Reeves (brilliant in some things, but not in this) and made similar mistakes to Waterworld, by trying to explain away the movie. Audiences were gripped by the concept and it had a decent opening weekend at the box office. However, the final product left people snoozing in their seats.
This concept had been discussed openly in books and in the news. The audience understood it. Trust the intelligence of the audience: spend less time explaining the breakthrough and spend more time investing in the characters on both sides of the argument. If Paul Greengrass (Bourne franchise) had directed this thriller, we would view this miss as a hit.
7. Deep Blue Sea (1999)
Idea: Searching for a cure to Alzheimer’s disease a group of scientists on an isolated research facility become the bait as a trio of intelligent sharks fight back.
Go ahead and laugh. This film had so much potential and it could have been held in the same regard as Predator and Starship Troopers. But the worst CGI in film history and water puns interspersed with a flimsy pretext about curing Alzheimer’s disease meant that this summer horror left people laughing.
Deep Blue Sea needed to be self-aware. It took itself way too seriously when it didn’t need to and goofed-off when it should have knuckled down. The animatronics in this film are amazing. The sharks they built look incredible.
However the CGI ones are a joke. Change the storyline so that they are using the sharks at a military facility, using the genetically altered ones as weapons and have the scientists battling their own morality. It doesn’t have to redefine storytelling but just be enough to get us to the payoff.
Have a shark nursery that some environmentalists set free in the open ocean and let them go nuts. “Super intelligent sharks” is a ludicrous but fun idea. Keep it fun. Make sure the visuals blow you away and don’t let Samuel L Jackson be computer generated.
8. The Happening (2008)
Idea: Mankind are killing themselves, in droves and no one knows why.
A very simple idea that promised some chilling visuals in the trailers was totally misread and thought the plot required a twist. M. Night. Shyamalam has allowed the “twist” trick to permeate all of his films, now rendering the tool gimmicky and predictable. Audiences expect it and when they expect it, nothing will be shocking enough for them.
The film’s tone is all over the place. There are moments intended for sentimentality that suddenly becomes awkwardly comedic. There are several instances of true ridiculousness that leaves the whole audience shrugging in bewilderment (the lion video).
The Happening should have revealed the “plants” plot point earlier on and then explored, through the characters, the impact man has had on the planet. Rather than stringing us along for the confusing and laughable ride. The casting was also a mistake. Someone like Patrick Wilson should have replaced Mark Wahlberg.
9. Alien vs. Predator (2004)
Idea: It’s in the title.
These Sci-fi icons had built in fans and the director of Event Horizon on their side, so what happened? The screenplay assumed that Predator needed to be the good guy, totally dishonouring the original character.
The human characters are forgettable, expendable and, if not for a very cool final scene, the sequel might not have been spawned. This film was well liked, but much like Open Water, the potential was massive and really didn’t capitalise.
This film requires no hero, but it does require likeable characters who the audience can root for and against amidst the chaos of these two battling extra terrestrials.
10. Suicide Squad (2016)
Idea: Band of misfit villains team up to take on Gotham’s common enemy.
The recent failures here largely fall on the studio’s shoulders. The film can’t decide who to focus on and in the end they choose the eye candy of Harley Quinn, a character who is defined by her relationship with the Joker, who literally isn’t in it. The studio saw Deadpool and Guardians of the Galaxy and felt pressured to force pop music into a film that didn’t need it.
The villain is weak and the visual climaxes are phoned in “big stuff in the sky” that look copy and pasted from other films of recent times. The impression given is that they had a finished film, saw the criticism faced by Batman V Superman and didn’t believe in their final product.
DC have, by far, more compelling characters to play with than Marvel, but have struggled to capitalise on brilliant source material. The trailers were also very misleading (go and see for yourself).
This film could have been great. Don’t give the members of Suicide Squad played by “big actors” a gripping back story if there isn’t time for the other characters as well.
This should have been a sharp, action filled thrill ride with a motley crue of lunatics who seem unhinged, not just attractive looking. Don’t have dialogue that is exclusively for exposition. Allow the characters to flesh themselves out through their interactions. Show us even less of the Joker, but give us “that scene” – the quotable monologue.
The chilling Joker moment that will be shared around social media and printed on t-shirts for years to come. Give the film a higher rating as DC benefits from the dark realities rather than the neon mess that ended up being Suicide Squad. There definitely is a good film hiding in here somewhere.
Author Bio: Rob is a 24 year old Musician from Hampshire, who is currently pursuing fiction writing. Rob has aspirations of becoming an author and screenwriter.