10 Could-Be-Great Movies That Fell Short of Their Premises

6. I Am Legend


You could say this is just a poor adaptation. One key element – a ‘promise’ made to us at the start of the film is that Will Smith is the ‘Last Man on Earth’. In the film this very quickly changes and what has clear potential as a heart-breaking film (try to not feel something when he has to deal with his infected dog or when he screams at a mannequin because if it’s alive, it means he’s not a lone) that defies convention.

Instead it seems almost like studio heads/writers/director getting cold feet and suddenly going back on their word so what begins quite uniquely becomes a very by the numbers film. Sadly, the underlying vision of the title is lost too.

Think about it for a moment. If he is the ‘Last Man’ and everyone has become a vampire, he is now actually the ‘Boogie-man’, the thing the vampire society fears, and tells their children to fear. We’re robbed of the complexity that could have come from Will Smith discovering that these ‘beasts’ can communicate, love and form relationships with their own kind, and the dawning realization that it is in fact himself that is now the evil creature.


7. Hancock

Hancock movie image Will Smith

Let me preface this by saying, I am a big fan of Will Smith. Anyone who ever doubts his chops as an actor and says ‘He just plays himself’ (He does in some films, but when you’re that charismatic and thats what the role calls for, why not?), go watch Michael Mann’s ‘Ali’.

Having said that, this is the second Will Smith film on this list. Hancock was originally titled ‘Tonight He Comes’ – a clear innuendo that would have set the tone for the type of film it was to be. Just watch the deleted scenes and witness Hancock push a girl away from him mind-blow job because his super-sperm might explode her head (given the sheer force and speed in which it, comes out).

This was meant to be a character study. A fun one – no doubt, but a character study in what it would really be like to be that powerful and that ‘fallen’, drunk and no longer caring.

Again, it’s a Will Smith film that has an impressive first half but then seems to forget what it’s about and throw in Charlize Theron related plot twists to 1) give the audience an un-needed backstory 2) have big budget set pieces.

With no disrespect to the writers and director, I would love to see this film in the hands of Darren Aronofsky (The Fountain, The Wrestler, Requiem for a Dream) and see what he could do with it. Smith’s natural charisma would make it watchable regardless and give a director like Aronofsky the freedom to delve deep into the character.


8. Highlander


Super cheesy 80’s film starring Sean Connery as a Egyptian Spaniard who trains the French Christopher Lambert, who in turn plays a Scot. All set to the glorious soundtrack by Queen. This was not a good film.

I love this film. It’s a ‘cult classic’ to some, but let’s strip everything away for a moment and look at its premise. Immortal, unable to die, and drawn to killing each other till the time of the gathering when those who remain will fight till only one remains – and the winner will claim ‘The Prize’.

Truly, the film does touch on its greatness when we witness Connor MacLeod watch his wife grow old, as he remains young. She resents his youth, and fights with him but he stays with her till the end when he must bury her then, go on, alone. For hundreds of years, alone. Every attachment you make, limited.

I feel I don’t need to oversell this one – there is great potential in this premise and for all you franchise lovers out there, even franchise potential. Heck, imagine one film about an immortal from the west, another from say India, another film with an immortal from China etc, then an ‘avengers’ style meet up, for ‘The Gathering’, and as much as we loved each of them in their individual films and it showed us great character driven stories, in the end – There Can Be Only One.


9. Life of Pi

life of pi movie

Hold on. This film did well. It won numerous awards and was generally well received. But did it deliver on its premise? Having read the book and hearing they would make a movie, I was thrilled and thought it would be a fantastic cinematographic feat, showing a beauty of life.

Unfortunately, I think this movie ended up being more the beauty of CGI – don’t get me wrong, fantastic CGI but still notably not real. For a film wanting me to ‘believe’, I felt that I never quite got past the premise here. Am I expecting the impossible? Well yes, but only if you mean the film ‘The Impossible’ which manages to combine CGI and real practical effects in a way better than most to really make me ‘believe’ in the sequences I’m seeing.


10. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)

You might say I’m being cynical but truly I don’t think there has been a film with more anticipation than this one. The Force Awakens comes close – if only to purge memories of this one – and love it or hate it, Avatar did become an ‘event’ in its own right but the anticipation of The Phantom Menace was truly unique.

Its premise – showing us young Anakin Skywalker (the great pilot Obi Wan told us of) , The Clone Wars that we know they both fought in, and maybe even Yoda as Obi Wan’s teacher – was full of hope. Even if you want to remove it from the other films in the series or the original trilogy and just look at the premise of the film itself: the shadow evil Sith, Jedi in their prime, etc. the film unfortunately falls flat due to well, poor storytelling.

I’m not going to ‘bash’ the film more than that, it’s taken its beatings, but just sit back and think what could have been if we just look at the premise. It’s a dark time, an ancient enemy has returned finally revealing themselves.

The Jedi, sworn protectors of the peace are being hunted by this Phantom Menace and the Galactic Republic has become corrupt and increasingly frail. But in the midsts of this turmoil, there is hope. A young pilot, brash and arrogant but powerful in The Force, Anakin Skywalker…