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The 10 Most Disappointing Films That Could Have Been Masterpieces

12 April 2016 | Features, Film Lists | by Matt Wilson

dune 1984

There is no greater sense of feeling shattered for filmgoers than highly anticipating seeing a movie that you think looks wonderful and the expectation of it being fulfilling viewing turning out to not be that great. Whether it was because the trailer was manipulative and edited well, or the film was based on great source material, a movie not living up to its hype is annoying, especially when it had the potential to be amazing.

Many movies have big budgets and talented people involved in making them. Naturally, you could assume the combination of these factors would ensure a great movie, but somewhere along the way, some films simply fell flat and did not connect with audiences. Some were so disappointing that filmgoers get angry merely thinking about them.

These movies are a case of them being so close yet so far from being brilliant, which in a way makes them more frustrating to watch than completely bad movies, making one wonder what could have been.


10. Congo (Frank Marshall, 1995)


In the aftermath of the blockbuster film Jurassic Park, author Michael Crichton became a household name and a name Hollywood wanted to cash in on. As such, one of the many adaptations of a Crichton novel was the 1995 film Congo, which was meant to be a big blockbuster like Jurassic Park, but it has been mostly forgotten since.

Any Crichton adaptation made after Jurassic Park was going to be compared to it, but this particular adaptation should have worked is because, like Jurassic Park, Congo had the chance to give audiences a great sense of adventure and awe, but it ended up just being silly. It could have been a combination of Jurassic Park and Planet Of The Apes, two adventure films that are still highly regarded.

Many people complained that the apes in the film were obviously actors in costumes, whereas Jurassic Park’s dinosaurs were more realistic looking CGI effects. But another big problem was its mostly unremarkable characters and plot, major factors in why Congo was a disappointment.


9. The Spirit (Frank Miller, 2008)

The Spirit

Sin City was a very popular and CGI heavy crime film that was bloody and gritty. The film’s look was very unique and wow audiences. It is no surprise that Hollywood wanted to replicate this success again by adapting another gritty graphic novel called The Spirit, with Sin City’s Frank Miller directing. In theory, this should have been a great adaptation. Perhaps Miller is not as capable of bringing out the drama on film as he is in graphic novels.

The look of The Spirit is much the same as Sin City, being presented in black and white while CGI made all the action look real and the characters become larger than life. However, the final film simply did not have the same, ahem, spirit as Sin City, and certainly none of its grittiness and sense of urban decay in society. What should have been a grand film ended up being lacklustre and forgettable viewing.


8. The Village (M. Night Shyamalan, 2004)


In the early 2000s, long before his name became a punchline for bad movies, M. Night Shyamalan was a very popular filmmaker with big hits such as The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs under his belt. So Shyamalan’s fourth film The Village was going to attract a lot of attention; unfortunately for him, it attracted the wrong kind of attention, with bad reviews and audiences simply not being engaged in the story.

By this point in M. Night Shyamalan’s career, audiences expected there to be a twist at the end of the story, and many predicted what the twist in The Village was before even watching the film. The plot had great potential, but there was a lack of tension and engagement in the story. All the cast involved were accused of overacting, and Shyamalan’s reputation took a hit too.


7. Prometheus (Ridley Scott, 2012)


Alien is one of the most beloved science fiction films ever made, and launched the career of its director Ridley Scott. Over 30 years after making the film, Scott decided to go back to his roots and film Prometheus. This film is a prequel to Alien that Ridley Scott claimed was not a direct prequel to Alien, but more of a stand alone film, which confused audiences.

Despite intending to tell its own story, Prometheus could not shake off its connection to the Alien saga, and many fans were disappointed, especially as Scott was involved. Audiences were expecting another violent sci-fi horror film, but were instead given a pondering mystery about how life in the universe was created. The film has grand visuals throughout, but the boring plot did not interest anyone.


6. Planet Of The Apes (Tim Burton, 2001)

Charleton Heston in Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes

The original Planet Of The Apes is highly regarded as one of the greatest science fiction films ever made, and Tim Burton is an acclaimed director known for his films’ fantastic visuals. Despite both being considered great, the story of the blockbuster film and this director’s strange style were going to clash.

There was a lot of anticipation for this film upon its release in 2001. Rather than having any Burton-esque visuals, audiences were given a generic looking action film that could have been made by the likes of Michael Bay. Besides the lack of Burton’s flair, the original film’s fans felt this remake was unnecessary and was simply not in the same league as the Charlton Heston film.

This could have been a worthy remake of a classic film, with a great cast and epic landscapes in the background. What audiences ended up with is an oddity that caused another launch of the series a decade later.



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  • Lucien Hellsubus

    I guess that’s really subjective. Some of those movies I loved, others didn’t disappoint me because I didn’t have any high expectations to begin with.

  • Frank

    Where’s heavens gate?

    • sailor monsoon

      It is a masterpiece

      • Frank

        It really isn’t

  • Yolanda Anne Brown

    Actually loved “Dune”. Been a favorite since the 80’s.

  • this bear is tops blooby

    Most of these would be lucky just to be called adequate, let alone “masterpieces”, as many of these were terrible films.

  • Dave

    By your standards every crappy film is a potential masterpiece. These are odd choices to defend.

  • The Sicilian in its extended European cut is a brilliant film. Flawed but certainly enjoyable. Dune would’ve been great if it was helmed by Alejandro Jodorowsky. The Spirit however was just shit. It had no identity in what it wanted to be and it played things way too safely.

    • sailor monsoon

      The Sicilian is easily one of the most underrated films of all time

      • Agreed. In fact, I think everything Michael Cimino did from Thunderbolt and Lightfoot to the European cut of The Sicilian are some of the best examples of high-octane, epic cinema.

        • sailor monsoon

          Cimino was the better William friedkin

  • Ozhan

    The Village was great. I think it’s one of the best of Shyamalan with Unbreakable. I don’t know why there is so much hate on this movie.

    • Bryant Low

      Completely agree with you Ozhan. Also the writer of this article makes an error common among those who criticize this director’s work. Shyamalan directed 2 movies prior to SIXTH SENSE making THE VILLAGE his 6th film, not his 4th as the article states. Such a glaring mistake is very unprofessional film writing in my book.

  • Carlos Cordero Madrigal

    I worked in CONGO, as small parts casting director for Costa Rica. Another shortcoming in this film is Frank Marshall’s direction. He is a great producer, along with then wife Kathleen Kennedy, but he doesn’t get much from his actors (Tim Curry and Laura Linney, in this case).

  • Penance

    Dune was a travesty, not leastly because of bone headed and completely ill advised casting. Kyle Maclachlan was so utterly mis cast it was embarrassing. I read Dune, all of them at 14 and waited patiently for it to become the movie(s) it was destined to be. The result was an insult to Frank Herbert and a horrible farce in David Lynch’s generally respected film career.

  • Rosío Corvo

    blue jeans 1975 should be in this list

  • matthew

    Maybe consider what a masterpiece is.
    The possibility of majority of the movies had no chance to be a masterpiece!!
    Look at the plots once more… apes…guy running around with a gun…a village only to find, roads exist… another movie of rome with no balls… a guy looking like dick tracey but in black with visual effects. You might of well as thrown any of the latest teenage mutant ninja turtles in the list.

    We’ve lost the authentic flavour because technology has only given us what we want to see. Nothing but remakes… have we lost the creative story line. You look at older movies it was a simple story with magic made by actors and camera angles.

    Now it’s in your face! The phantom menace was never gonna be what we remembered from 16 years ago. Get a grip critics!!
    As for promethius or how ever you spell it. You critical critic fucks! ! It was great. It was ohhh. .it wasn’t a sequel are you confused, of course you are. That’s how good it was.

    Once the classic movie stars (actors/actresse’s… females) pass away god save films.

  • CaseX

    I agree. “Batman & Robin” could have been a masterpiece if they’d gotten a different script, a different script supervisor, a different director, different second unit directors, different producers, different executive producers, different production designers, different actors, a different director of photography, a different art director, a different camera operator, a different special effects team, a different score composer, a different costume designer, different location scouts, a different gaffer, a different grip, a different key make-up artist, a different stunt coordinator, a different editor and was made by a different studio.

    Yeah, other than those tiny flaws – masterpiece.

  • Maura Willey

    super random but the series of unfortunate events movie had such potential and was ruined by terrible screenwriting and directing. i would have never guessed that a movie involving meryl streep, jim carry, and emannuel lubezki would be such a disappointment.

  • Ruchit Negotia

    idk somewhere inside me, knowing many good films, still think Prometheus doesn’t deserve all the hate it gets. The trailer i think hyped it to a point where it was unrealistic and everyone thought it sucked because it didn’t meet up with their fantasy. Flaws are there yes but not enough to give it a notorious status.

    • Abhishek

      I agree! Fanboys should be aware that trailer sometimes gives away the plot and one should not be watching the trailers if he trusts in the Director and Cast!

  • Ren Dhark

    Pretty good choice for such a list!

  • Yolanda Anne Brown

    I’m actually a huge fan of “Dune.” The Spirit” may have been o.k. if not for Samuel L. Jackson in a Nazi-inspired Outfit.

  • Carl Edgar Consiglio

    Prometheus really wasn’t all that bad.

  • Henrik Vinther Sørensen

    A Star Wars film could never be a masterpiece