5. Alice in Wonderland
Opening weekend gross – $116,101,023
Brutal critic quote – “Mr. Burton lavishes his attention on the little things in ‘Wonderland’ — the perfectly drawn red heart painted on the center of the Red Queen’s mouth, for instance — perhaps because nothing else claims his attention. He’s very bad with the awkward action scenes, maybe because he’s embarrassed that they even exist,” Manohla Dargis, The New York Times.
While 2010’s Alice in Wonderland is far from the unwatchable mess that its sequel is, it’s not without its flaws. Many critics claimed that the problem with Alice in Wonderland wasn’t that it’s a terrible movie, it’s that it’s simply not a new one. While Burton added his trademark style and actors (Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp), he didn’t bring anything new to this familiar story.
Some of the blame can be placed on the decisions Burton made regarding the film’s lead, Mia Wasikowska, a talented, powerful actress who spends most of her time floating around this film in a foggy haze. In the end, Burton seemed to believe that impressive, trippy visuals and 3-D imagery would leave enough of a modern stamp on Alice, without attempting to create a more compelling plot.
4. Suicide Squad
Opening weekend gross – $133,682,248
Brutal critic quote – “To say that the movie loses the plot would not be strictly accurate, for that would imply that there was a plot to lose,” Anthony Lane, The New Yorker.
There is a good movie hiding somewhere in Suicide Squad. A brash, darkly funny film focused around Jared Leto’s Joker and Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, that offers a fresh take on superhero villain tropes. That’s the film audiences were promised in Suicide Squad’s many trailers.
What we were given instead was an overpacked, unfocused film that spends more time introducing us to it’s too-many characters than it does letting us see them in action. Rather than getting to watch Leto’s delightfully twisted take on the Joker, we are made to follow the tired, clichéd journey of Will Smith’s Deadshot who, like every Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson character, “just wants his daughter back.”
The result is a messy two-hour music video that is too wrapped up in appearances to give us a clear, thought-out plot. Hopefully the inevitable sequel will experience the same financial success, but with some of the kinks worked out.
3. Spider-Man 3
Opening weekend gross – $151,116,516
Brutal critic quote – “Too many villains, too many pale plot strands, too many romantic misunderstandings, too many conversations, too many street crowds looking high into the air and shouting ‘oooh!’ this way, then swiveling and shouting ‘aaah!’ that way,” Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.
The first two Spider-Man films were excellent examples of how great a superhero movie can be when you combine a likable protagonist with a clear, compelling villain. Willem DaFoe’s Green Goblin and Alfred Molina’s Doc Oc elevated the “mad scientist” trope by being sympathetic and well-rounded.
Then came Spider-Man 3, which decided to switch out quality for quantity and give us three lesser villains paired with a baffling Peter Parker storyline that includes what is widely considered to be one of the worst dance scenes in the history of film.
Spider-Man 3 ignored what made the first two movies so great, namely well-rounded villains and an endearing Peter Parker, and replaced it with half thought-out plots and a greasy, sleazy Spider-Man.
2. Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn: Part 1
Opening weekend gross – $138,122,261
Brutal critic quote – “For a film that revolves around the needs of and desires of creatures who are slaves to their hunger for the red stuff, Breaking Dawn is bloodless,” Kate Erbland, Film School Rejects.
Almost every film in the Twilight saga could have been included in this list, as they have all grossed hundreds of millions of dollars despite being consistently maligned by critics. There’s something particularly insidious about this installment of the series, which celebrates the marriage of a teenager to a 100-year-old vampire with violent sex scenes and a ripped-off Rosemary’s Baby b-plot. That being said, it’s not hard to understand why this movie made so much money.
As the fourth film in the massively popular series, it was bound to draw large crowds during its opening weekend despite poor reviews, and while it holds a 24 percent critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the majority of audience reviews are positive, suggesting that it delivered what it promised to actual Twilight fans.
1. Transformers: Age of Extinction
Opening weekend gross – $100,038,390
Brutal critic quote – “Michael Bay has done the impossible. With Transformers: Age of Extinction, the start of a – everyone duck! – second trilogy in his metalhead franchise, the Bay-man has made the worst and most worthless Transformers movie yet,” Peter Travers, Rolling Stone.
The success of this film is truly baffling. While other sequels on this list were predeceased by good or at least decent films, the movie before Transformers: Age of Extinction, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, was met with equally horrendous reviews.
Did Michael Bay think that the addition of Mark Wahlberg would alone breathe new life into the franchise? Apparently so, since that’s the only change he bothered to make while he stuck to crafting the same type of disappointing plot and thin character development that people came to expect from his previous Transformers films.
Can you blame him though? Collectively, his Transformers franchise has net billions, despite their consistently terrible reviews. No matter how absurd or weak the plot, people keep coming back for the giant robot fights, and with staggering financial results.
Author Bio: Julia Troy grew up in Providence, Rhode Island and she’s grateful to the Avon Cinema, the Cable Car Cinema and her mother for showing her that there’s more to film that just explosions and Leonardo DiCaprio. That being said, she lives in New York City now and would be thrilled to run into Leo filming a scene where he’s narrowly escaping an explosion.