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10 Movies That Went From Wonderful To Awful

09 August 2017 | Features, Film Lists | by Pradyot Raina

death-proof-kurt-russell

There are times when just a few minutes into a movie, we get a feeling that we are in good hands. Some of these movies don’t disappoint while others get better with every passing minute.

But then there are some others – movies that begin on an impressive note, raise our expectations to a maximum only to strike them down gradually, some with unnecessary elongation or a decaying storyline, others by their tedious self-indulgence and others yet simply fail to follow through with a particularly brilliant beginning. Below are 10 such movies that take the viewers on a swing from one extreme opinion to the other.

 

1. Dreamcatcher (Lawrence Kasdan, 2003)

When a person goes in to watch a horror science-fiction flick, directed by Lawrence Kasdan, with Morgan Freeman in it, the least they expect from it is a good time. But, Dreamcatcher, which builds up with an interesting start only to take a tail-first plunge from there, leaves all expectation, sanity and soundness far behind, and eventually buries itself in a mound of dumbness and cringe.

The movie begins with four best friends in their childhood who witness a mentally challenged boy, called Duddits, being bullied and go on to help him, and then console him by singing Linda Ronstadt’s ‘Blue Bayou’. Duddits is revealed to possess certain telepathic powers which he passes on to the others in the group by creating a sort of psychic web between their minds.

Till now, the movie seems to deliver and is intriguing with a Stand by Me kind of feel. A while later, the four boys are all grown-up and vacationing on a cabin in the woods when suddenly, we find ourselves watching helplessly as gross and slimy aliens, called ‘Shitweasles’ who look like humongous vaginas with teeth, go out of control, ejecting from people’s anal cavities and leaving behind not only a mess on the screen but a bad taste in the audience’s mouths.

Just as we start reconciling to the new & profoundly stupider normal of the film, thinking it can’t get any worse – it does. Enter Morgan Freeman as Colonel Curtis, in charge of the military operation to bring the ‘blizzard of bullshit’ under control, sporting eyebrows as thick as a squirrel’s tail and obviously, he has gone a bit rogue. The movie takes 153 long mins to end and by the time it does, one barely remembers the high points of the first half of the film due to the mental scarring left by the second half.

 

2. Red Dragon (Brett Ratner, 2002)

Red Dragon (2002)

There is no good reason why any movie-going person wouldn’t be excited about seeing Anthony Hopkins play Hannibal Lecter in a film that also stars Edward Norton and the brilliant Ralph Fiennes. The case for watching Red Dragon only grows stronger by the fact that it tells the story of Lecter’s imprisonment, something that no one who has seen Silence of The Lambs can resist.

The way this movie opens, with the beautifully directed scene at the opera, makes a profound impression and it feels like we are in safe hands. The film then progresses steadily, laying down its story effectively with an inherent sense of humour and introducing characters that capture our attention. But as it goes on, it starts feeling like a banal foreign rip-off of Silence of The Lambs.

Will Graham is summoned to catch a dangerous serial killer called Tooth Fairy, because Will possesses the ‘unique’ ability of being able to think like a criminal but only after he gets some insights from Dr Lecter, who is in a prison cell that looks like a replica of the one in Lambs. Obviously, Lecter has had contact with the Tooth Fairy who, oddly enough, has a scarred and traumatized side to his personality that prevents him from killing a child because watching him get scolded for wetting his pants brings back bad memories from his own childhood?

The movie has its strong moments every now and then but it doesn’t add anything to the story of Hannibal which hasn’t been exploited before and after a while even the actors’ performances doesn’t do much to demand attention.

As the unimaginativeness of the film becomes more apparent, everything that seemed to have worked for the film in the start is left hanging amidst clichés and blandness. However, it does sometimes offer laughs and is well-directed in what it does but that’s where the trouble lies.

 

3. The Doors (Oliver Stone, 1991)

The Doors (1991)

Most of the allure of Oliver Stone’s The Doors, a rockumentary about the quintessential 60s rock band of the same name & its controversial lead singer Jim Morrison, comes from the renown of the band itself and the appeal of good old rock. So, going into the movie, as you watch the brilliance of Val Kilmer’s performance and his striking & uncanny inhabitation of Jim Morrison’s persona, it does in no way seem like a let-down. The characters are still young and enthused & seem to be going somewhere.

Further, the movie builds up around intriguing premises of lesser known influences on Morrison, like the time he witnessed a dead Native American on a road. But, all this clouds one’s ability to realize that from the very beginning, the film has been on a downward slide into obscurity and stupor.

As Morrison embarks on a metaphorical trip to nowhere picking up all the drugs, alcohol and notoriety that he can find along the way, destroying himself and all the other people who are generous enough to support him only stopping at times to deliver excellent performances on stage, the film follows him around with excessive tardiness and self-indulgence that would’ve been infinitely more enjoyable had it been a sarcastic caricature of an entire demographic that takes itself too seriously, but unfortunately, it’s quite the opposite.

Watching the film feels like sitting in a two-hour-twenty-minute-long scholarly conference of drug-high psychoanalysts discussing Jim Morrison, with one after the other speaking a lot without actually saying anything. Had it not been for Val Kilmer, the wonderful music of The Doors and the perennially dependable appeal of rock ‘n’ roll, this movie would have been exponentially more unpleasant.

 

4. The Patriot (Roland Emmerich, 2000)

The Patriot

Set during the American Revolution in the late 1700s, The Patriot follows Mel Gibson’s Benjamin Martin as he is driven to leading a guerrilla militia against the Britishers after a sadistic British Officer murders his son.

The film doesn’t waste much time before the pacifist farmer and widowed father of 7 children, Martin, has vowed revenge after a singularly cruel British Colonel named Tavington shoots his little son outside his South Carolina house. Martin, who had earned a name for himself for his bravery in earlier wars, becomes a nightmare for the British military as he gathers a militia which carries out guerrilla attacks on their convoys.

For a while in the beginning, the sheer one-dimensional narrative is enjoyable for its impressive action sequences and elementary thrills which are captivating nevertheless. The period appearance is also effective and is helped further by the odd older-days’ battle scene in capturing the audience’s interest. However, it isn’t long before the movie’s lack of meaningful depth and its silly pandering to sentimentality for evoking passions becomes apparent.

What follows is not so much a tale of the American Revolution as it is the tale of Benjamin Martin’s righteous revenge against the monstrous Col. Tavington. The movie delves into meaningless romance plots which serve no purpose, not even plain entertainment. It makes a point of indulging in every cliché that it possibly can without ever having the effect that it should.

The singularity and lack of layers in the characters and the story alike makes the movie seem like a 7-year-old making his toys act out these juvenile scenes from his imagination & his understanding of wars, heroes and villains. What makes the experience of watching The Patriot even worse is its intolerable length, running at about 2hrs 45min.

 

5. Five Minutes of Heaven (Oliver Hirschbiegel, 2009)

Five Minutes of Heaven

This novel drama about an incident of murder in the period of massive sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, called ‘The Troubles’, and its aftermath in the lives of the two people affected the most by it, is directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, who also helmed the acclaimed movie on the final days of Hitler in his Berlin bunker, Downfall.

The movie follows former UVF member Alistair Little, played by Liam Neeson, and the little brother of the man he shot during the strife, James Nesbitt’s Joe Griffen. The movie begins with an especially intriguing and effective sequence which re-creates the incident of the shooting when Little was just 16 and Joe Griffen, who witnesses the murder from 2 feet away, just 11.

The film feels taut and succeeds greatly in portraying the tension of the time and the whole incident. It builds up our interest in the characters we see onscreen which is more than most films can manage. But then the film jumps 25 years ahead to a meeting between Griffen and Little being arranged by a TV show, in which Griffen, half-heartedly atleast, looks forward to stabbing Little.

From here, the film starts losing steam, becomes unpersuasive and appears almost lifeless. The whole act starts becoming a very studious depiction of human emotions but which are not the least bit evocative or compelling.

Ultimately, the resolution of the two men’s conflict is also very common and not gripping. Even though, despite all this, Five Minutes of Heaven is never boring. The performances by Neeson and Nesbitt are especially phenomenal and the ending is also better. But, what is disappointing by the end is the ordinary follow through to an exceptional initial build-up and the thought of what all the film could have been but isn’t.

 

 

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  • bd

    Yikes at the paragraphs allotted to Gosford Park, as if including it on this list wasn’t bad enough in the first place. The comments you made about the amount of characters, the details, how those things are presented, etc…, only speak to how blatantly unfamiliar you are with Altman’s work and intent. The line you wrote about “anyone looking for a good murder mystery will be disappointed” is self-explanatory enough considering the pairing of the name “Altman” and such a straightforward genre model like that would never be in the same box in the first place. Let alone claiming that “the movie demands the viewer to remember all these little details”, which is the exact opposite of what Altman’s films demand from their audience, if they demand anything at all.

    The article was quite good up until that entry (and otherwise). But that bit was just mind-numbingly perplexing.

  • bd

    Elsewhere, if Gosford Park were (rightfully) removed from this list, I’d love to add Bong Joon-ho’s Okja (2017) in its place. There’s so much to love about Okja, especially how it paints a Disney/Pixar-like portrait of companionship and cuteness — as well as the leading Ahn Seo-hyun’s performance being one of the best of the year — and it’s critical depiction of animal rights groups being characteristically self-serving. However, the film’s slow dissolve into what is essentially a carnivore-shaming, veggie/vegan propaganda piece, really leaves it near the bottom of Joon-ho’s catalogue. I thought that he couldn’t get any more in-your-face thematically after Snowpiercer, but Okja accepted that challenge with open arms.

  • Zwei

    I love the second part of full metal jacket, especially because it was referenced in the second season of ghost in the shell <3 <3 <3 https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/468ab2847c6c5b7f0e0f45d00b0ee69b0551482b71936449ea9499f772ab8afb.png

  • Sasha Kozak

    Full Metal Jacket and Death Proof should not be on this list

  • Alain

    Full Metal Jacket and Gosford Park should not be on this list.

    • Neither should The Patriot and Death Proof. This list is booty.

      • Man, as someone who writes online for work I usually take it pretty easy on the freelancers for ToC, but this list is horrific. Somewhat ironically, it went from good to awful real quick.

        • There should be requirements to write lists like this. I would do it but I have my own blog to deal with as I don’t really have time to create lists.

          • Couple years ago I applied, and was working on a list for under-seen 80s Action Movies. I thought the list was fairly comprehensive, and filled with unseen gems, but the site’s owner/editor said the article needed to be 3,000 words, and would be paid on a per-page-view basis.
            I just couldn’t commit to that massive undertaking, so my hats off to the writers on here that do, and do a great well-researched job.
            Hence my comment saying I usually take it easy, but occasionally someone just really mails it in.

  • Adrian

    I’d like to say that in Death Proof, Tarantino tries to bad-ass-ass over his usual self. To such amount that it becomes a silly parody of just about every good movie he’s ever made.

  • Franco Gonzalez

    You got some serious mental issues kid, Full Metal Jacket? really?

    • Franco Gonzalez

      The characters feel distant? yes, but thats the point, they are expressionless, they dont emphatize, they are the product of the first half of the movie, killing machines.

      “One can never quite figure out the meaning of the movie or what Stanley Kubrick wants to say” .. its not a complicated movie in Kubrick’s body of work, its preety straight forward, but strong content at the same time, the purpose if you ask me is to show the meaningless of war, wich is something kubrick already did in paths of glory, maybe this time he explored more the psychology of it.

      “which defeats the entire purpose of cinema, especially his brand of it.” a lot of people didn’t understood 2001, and still its a classic and touched a lot of people, specially filmmakers. You have some wrong sense of what cinema is supposed to be if you ask me, if indeed cinema is supposed to be something in particular

    • I know! That film is perfect from start to finish.

      • Bas van den Bos

        I don’t know. I always wondered how the movie would play if the part in Vietnam came first. If taken as two parts, I always thought the segment in the training camp was far stronger than the second half of the film. If you turn them around I think you could have a far stronger climactic build up, and therefore a better film.

        • Yeah but I think the structure of the film is interesting as it shows Kubrick playing with narrative structure.

  • Eri Taide

    I though that Deathproof was not supposed to be taken seriously, it’s just a silly film who pays homage to a certain type of cinema but kinda also makes fun of it (?). I really like it, plus i love the chasing scene.

  • Dave

    Full Metal Jacket is certainly a flawed film, but in no way is it awful

  • SupernaturalCat

    Full Metal Jacket has always been one of my least favorite Kubrick films, even though as an anti-war / anti-glorification of militarism individual, I think the film’s first “Gomer Pyle” segment dealing with the cruel inhumanity of the “mannequin manufacturing plant” (as a friend of mine who was in the military referred to it as) and how it twists people to horrible outcomes and consequences is highly effective and well made.

    What’s unfortunate is how the Sargeant Hartman character has become so
    culturally revered by right-wingers / authoritarians who adore and champion that type of unbridled blowhard sadism that character represents, and wields against recruits in order to transform them into automata who will mindlessly, obediently murder for “freedom and democracy” corporate profits…which is what war and hegemony are truly about (ever notice that the more they say they’re ‘spreading’ freedom over there, the more they take it away here?)

    That character represents a vile, militant macho man attitude, vicious immorality, and revels in language of psychotic, berserk violence that apparently gives military fanboys a hard on — visit any internet outlet where these type of ‘keyboard commandos’ gather (usually to attack others) and you’ll quickly find that the type of screaming, name-calling and degradation exhibited by the Sgt Hartman character is their preferred level of exchange / interaction.

    And while I can’t say I know this for certain, my suspicion is that this is definitely not what Kubrick had in mind for people to take away from that character, or the movie as a whole. Sgt Hartman is a product of militarism, of empire, and is a monster, not a hero to placed atop a pedestal for would be neo-fascists to fawn and gush over.

    My other minor grip with the film is how Kubrick’s use of The Rolling Stones’ Paint It, Black, over the end credits has–unfortunately–forever transformed that song in the minds of military fans as being something that Jagger wrote specifically for and/or about the military, and the Vietnam aggression, which is not the case at all. Jagger states the song is about a fictitious woman’s funeral. That’s what the song is about–lost love. And if you pay attention to the lyrics, it’s self-evident that it hasn’t anything whatsoever to do with
    the military, or Vietnam. However, just try to convince a military fan of this fact, and it will fall on deaf ears as they thump their chest, and call you a “commie” or some such nonsense …because in their mind, since they heard that song in Full Metal Jacket, it must be, has to be, about the military.

    • Johnny Al Lenn

      I’m curious as to what R. Lee Ermey’s own take on Full Metal Jacket was, seeing as he was a lifelong military man himself and apparently had such a big hand in crafting the character. I wonder if he was focused on simply giving an accurate portrayal of life in boot camp or if he agreed with what the film had to say about the dehumanisation of soldiers in war.

  • David Pollison

    Yet another click bait article designed to infuriate the people who happen to love some or many of these movies. There is nothing wonderful about any movie directed by Bret Ratner. And Roland Emmerich is not that far behind.

  • Carl Edgar Consiglio

    I don’t think Death Proof ought to be on this list ..I believe it was all intentional. I would rather have seen Inception on this list. It starts on very deep matter and turns into your average American shoot out.

    • Jennifer Jones

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    • Jennifer Jones

      A man who thinks he can sexually assault women for his ego gratification.

  • shane scott-travis

    Brave choice putting Full Metal Jacket on here and I don’t disagree. However,

  • Marvin Staal

    where is interstellar

  • Mare Heven Karan

    This list is just wrong.

  • Wyatt W.B

    I’m actually with you on Full Metal Jacket. The first half with the story of Private Pyle was incredible, but the movie only got worse from there. The characters in Vietnam didn’t feel very real to me. They were one-dimensional, and counterfeit.
    I also felt that Death Proof got better as it went along. It was a pretty crappy movie, but the ending car chase was so much fun!

  • Anthony Lancaster

    FULL METAL JACKET (1987)
    A film that offers no hope, answers no questions and has little meaning. Pitch-perfect for what the film has to say about the insanity of war. The ending is a deliberate anti-climax that mirrors the American nightmare in that particular conflict, one that they have never recovered from psycholigically some fifty years later. And you are too dumb to see that. Stick to crap like Platoon or Hamburger Hill instead. You are not fit to view Kubrick let alone review or criticise the Great Man.
    Get a new hobby.

  • Dan Miller

    The Doors, Full Metal Jacket, and Gosford Park should definitely not be on this list.

  • I’m alarmed at the inclusion of GOSFORD PARK on this list. It’s a delicate and very detailed look at the upper & lower classes of an interesting generation of people. Altogether it’s hilarious, captivating, and charming until the powerful finale delivers a sob-worthy shock to the system!

  • Stephus

    Full metal jacket?? Your list is awful just to put that movie on there… btw Death Proof was the last good Tarantino movie before making real bad movies like inglorious basterds who actually should be here because it has a great opening sequence and turns into a pretentious piece of crap