Every film has some merit, even the worst ones. In this list, we look at 10 examples (in non-specific order) of otherwise bad films, but which did have their moment(s) of brilliance. Certainly there will be fans who consider every second of these films a treasure. Others will consider the author insane for having chosen these films. Whatever side you’re on, there’s no shame of either loving or hating any of these films.
These films are considered by large margins to be bad films, or at best, guilty pleasures. In these moments, however, one is reminded of what could have been, had they stayed on that poignant note.
10. X-Men: Apocalypse – Magneto loses his family
The Movie: The X-Men franchise is certainly one of the more uneven series of superhero films. Sure, Batman lost it after Tim Burton left, Marvel has had a few misses, but none of them have dropped in such awe-inspiring quality as the X-Men series have.
It started with something very promising (“X-Men”), then to something great (“X-2”) and then, as the quarrels behind the scenes began, to something embarrassing (“X-Men 3: The Last Stand”), and then the one that was so bad it was almost brilliant (“X-Men Origins: Wolverine”). Then came the reboot/prequel “X-Men: First Class”, which was good, yet somewhat uneven. Wolverine got another stand-alone film in the much improved “Wolverine”, which took away much of its goofiness and focused more on the dark pathos of its character.
The balance was restored, however, with “X-Men: Days of Future Past”, with Bryan Singer, the prodigal son, returning to bring balance back to the world of mutants. It was the X-Men film fans had long been waiting for, and it even turned back time, washing away the awfulness of “X-Men 3” and “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” as if they never happened. The best thing, however, is that it gave the fans the chance to say goodbye to the old cast. All in all, it was an emotionally satisfying climax and it should have ended there….
But then “X-Men: Apocalypse” happened…
The post-credits scene already hinted at an inevitable sequel. At the time, it was met with much favorability since “Days of Future Past” was such a good entry. However, the initial backlash appeared when people saw the first pictures of Oscar Isaac as Apocalypse, which gave many flashbacks to Ivan Ooze, the goofy villain from “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie”.
The end result turned out to be a heartless mess, one full of dodgy CGI, cheesy lines, and tonal shifts. They even completely changed Wolverine’s arc (who was rescued in the previous film from the hands of Stryker) just so he could have a gratuitous cameo. The one great moment…
It did have its moments, however; the return of Quicksilver brought many laughs, and the acting (except for an obvious “I don’t really want to be here” Jennifer Lawrence) was pretty good. Overall, it was one of the biggest disappointments of 2016 (which already had its fair share of superhero disappointments).
The Great Moment: The greatest moment was delivered by thespian Michael Fassbender. While Ian McKellen might always be the original Magneto, one shouldn’t count out Fassbender’s incredible work on the character. Having his character hide in Poland, trying to find happiness there with a new family, was a good idea. The obvious symbolism aside, the storyline had potential.
To have his family become the mortal victims of prejudice was the right motivation for his character to side with Apocalypse. The scene is done incredibly with the slow motion and the broken soul’s in Fassbender’s eyes. It’s such an incredible scene that it almost makes the whole film good.
9. Street Fighter – Bison’s infamous line to Chun-Li
The Movie: Fervent gamers are still waiting for one great cinematic adaptation of one of their favorite games. For some reason, Hollywood keeps screwing it up. Even if they find the perfect actor for the part – such as Bob Hoskins as Mario or Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft – the movie around it is filled with turgid decisions. Making Mushroom Kingdom in a “Blade Runner” dystopia, pumping asinine techno-music during the “Tomb Raider” action scenes, or the worst crime of humanity one could possibly imagine: giving directorial duties to Uwe Boll.
When it comes to the adaptation of “Street Fighter”, however, one does have to give its writer and director Steven E. Souza some credit for crafting a story around its vast cast. Unfortunately, it eventually got dumbed down for a younger generation. Casting popular Belgian martial artist Jean-Claude Van Damme as an American colonel (watch him try to quip ”let’s kick Bison’s ass”) only sealed its fate that this wasn’t going to be truly satisfying adaptation.
The Great Moment: The film is actually filled with cheesy gold. Much of the credit has to be given to Raul Julia playing the imperial Bison. In a film called “Street Fighter”, it becomes obvious that when Julia faces Van Damme, he can’t fight worth a damn, but who cares when his acting is so deliciously over the top?
It would be his last role until his untimely death and though it’s certainly one of the lesser films he starred in, he was no less entertaining.
His greatest moment, however, comes in a monologue he gives to Chun-Li. After she divulges some exposition about his sordid past, he dresses himself in a more comfortable attire – a pimped out robe that would Hugh Hefner blush. After she tells him that he became the cowardly murderer of his father, he tells her; ”I’m sorry I don’t remember any of it.”
Disgruntled she asks: ”You don’t remember?”
And as he walks over to her with a freshly-made drink, he tells her: ”For you, the day Bison graced your village, was the most important day of your life. But for me, it was Tuesday.”
A fantastically written line, perfectly delivered by the late great Raul Julia.
8. Godzilla – Every scene with Bryan Cranston and Godzilla
The Movie: If you’re unlucky enough to remember Roland Emmerich’s “Godzilla” (you know, the one with Matthew Broderick and a lot of fish), you know Hollywood needed to make up for it. The film was so bad that Japan made another “Godzilla” where Godzilla whooped Emmerich’s Godzilla’s ass (it wasn’t even worth the title of “Godzilla” – he was instead referred to as ‘Zilla’).
When trailers hit for a new Godzilla film (2014), it seemed very promising. There were Kubrick references, Brando’s ominous voice-over, and glimpses of more than just one monster (sadly not one of of Toho’s rogue galleries). Best of all, it had a frantic Bryan Cranston, fresh from meth kingpin fame, warning the world of Godzilla’s presence.
Even though it was a significant step up from Emmerich’s vision, the film was a wasted opportunity. Godzilla become a supporting character in his own film and Cranston was killed way too early (he even admitted in an interview that it was a mistake). The leading part was instead giving to an extremely dull Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Great job.
The Great Moment: But damnit if Godzilla wasn’t badass in the film! Cranston himself too, being the main character in the first 15 minutes, is very compelling and his tragic history gives the audience lots to root for.
Killing his character was the biggest mistake they made in the film, because the rest of the human characters aren’t nearly as fascinating (watch out for a very stoned-out David Strathairn). Every scene with either Cranston and Godzilla are great, and if they were the main characters in the film, it would have been a masterpiece.
What every Godzilla fan is waiting for, of course, is Godzilla fighting another monster in a big city. The fight is mostly teased throughout the movie, which is frustrating since most of the focus is given to Taylor-Johnson. But at the end, we finally see the two monstrous creatures battling in full glory, and it’s hard to not cheer out loud when Godzilla uses his atomic breath. His eventual rematch with King Kong is going to be very interesting.
7. Jason X – ”Yeah, that’ll do it.”
The Movie: Like many famous horror series, the “Friday the 13th” series succumbed to self-parody. The scare factor decreased the more Jason started slaughtering teenagers, and though it remains an icon, it was only a matter of time before hapless screenwriters would send him off to space.
Granted, it did take them 10 movies to get them there; he took a detour in Manhattan and then stopped off in Hell. Jason’s space adventure was mostly produced just to retain people’s interest in the series, since “Freddy vs. Jason” was still in development in hell.
The result was “Jason X”. A film which, at the very least, wasn’t taken very seriously by the filmmakers itself. It was a very silly affair, that at the very least had a few inventive kills, a David Cronenberg cameo, and well, turned Jason into a killer cyborg. That’s kinda cool.
The Great Moment: Many might mention Jason freezing someone’s head and then shattering it into pieces as one of its standout moments. That moment is admittedly good, but the best moment had to be in one of the encounters between Sgt. Brodski and Jason. As Jason grabs Brodski from behind, he stabs him in the back, piercing his ribs. Brodsky, being the badass that he is, hails: ”It’s gonna take more than a poke in a ribs to put down this old dog….”
Jason responds by stabbing him again, right in the gut this time, to which poor Brodski responds with: ”Yeah that’ll do it…” and then (supposedly) dying. It’s a genuinely funny moment, proving once again that the filmmakers did have some fun with its goofy concept.
6. Space Jam – Bill Murray shows up out of nowhere
The Movie: The mixture of cartoon and live action hasn’t always succeeded, and a good example is ”Space Jam”. While “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” will always be the genre’s definitive masterpiece (though there’s lot of good things to say about Ralph Bakshi’s work on “Coons”, and even “The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle” has its underrated moments), “Space Jam” is the prime example of how not to do it.
Its biggest flaw is the relentless commercialism; casting famous basketball player Michael Jordan in the lead (he’s already not much of an actor and then having act against make-believe creatures does not help much), the endless product placement, and focusing more on the childish aspects, which gives adults less to enjoy. It certainly has some mid-90’s charm, but “Space Jam” is a definite a low point in Looney Tunes history.
The Great Moment: Bill Murray is like an angel of cinema; you’re watching a bad movie, you cringe the whole way through, you want to leave but you can’t because your kid likes it, and then suddenly, there he is: Bill fucking Murray.
What’s even better about Murray’s part is that he’s hardly acting; he’s playing himself and he doesn’t seem to take anything around him seriously (especially when he’s talking to the Looney Tunes). At first, he’s just in an amusing scene playing golf with Jordan and Larry Bird. He talks to a golf ball (you can’t help but think of “Caddyshack” here) and muses about how he wishes he could play professional basketball.
Then later, in one of the climatic scenes, Murray pops up out of nowhere (even going ”tadadatada!”) and asks Jordan and the Looney Tunes if he could ”perhaps be of some assistance.” His appearance makes little sense; when Daffy Duck asks him how he got here, he mumbles something quick, which is the screenwriters admitting that even they couldn’t think of something smart. But who cares, right? It’s Bill Murray, everybody!