5. Fantastic Four
3 times out, none of them a charm. How Fox tried a reboot after two failed movies and managed to bungle up the whole thing even worse is so mind boggling. There’s been a fundamental misunderstanding of the characters from day one, and it hasn’t gotten better.
At the least, the two Tim Story helmed entries were at least light and fun. They never took themselves too seriously, and felt like older FF stories. But the execution of that idea was wrong. They had their elements that worked, like Michael Chiklis as The Thing and Chris Evans as the Human Torch, they just failed to ignite any passion on screen or in the audience.
How, in the year of 2015 they managed to think that a dark and gritty reboot of that group would work is weird. But that they figured it out halfway through and chopped the damn movie to an unwatchable mess is just weird. They got sold a pair of goods and then were upset when the goods was delivered. Josh Trank tried to make a Cronenberg version of the movie, and it’s clear that’s the aim.
The movie is heavy and stuffy and boring. Then in the last 30 minutes, the studio mandated superheroism is delivered in fast forward and nothing works. It’s all laughably bad, feeling so disjointed from the movie that came before it.
Obvious reshoots (hello to Kate Mara’s hilarious wig) are bountiful, stars couldn’t care less about what they’re doing, and the editing is just brutal. Nothing builds, there’s no propulsion to anything. Nothing works and it’s just a nightmare. Fox should never tackle the franchise again. Unless they want to make a deal with Marvel, Fantastic Four should stay dead.
4. The Terminator
James Cameron made two great movies in this franchise. Then when he left, the series became a joke. A failed sequel to his classics came and went. Since then, two attempted reboot trilogies have failed. At the very least, those two attempted reboots were better than T3, but that’s no hard line to cross. If that’s the barrier one needs to burst through to justify a movie existing, there would be no stopping bad movies from being bad.
Terminator Salvation tried to give us a glimpse into the actual future war, which isn’t a bad idea. It’s not a bad movie, it just felt too hamstrung by it’s PG13 rating and a director that lacks a clear vision (McG). It never sang and it was forgotten to the sands of time. But at least it built upon what came before, playing into the time travel work of alternate timelines that Cameron inadvertently fell into.
Terminator Genisys is actually a pretty good idea that was just executed horrendously. It’s a bad movie thanks to it’s cheap execution. Doing a Back To The Future 2 with this franchise seems like a no brainer and the idea of straight ahead tackling the complicated time travel nonsense the series has delivered thus far isn’t wrong. But cheap visuals, bad action, bad writing, and bad performances (outside of Arnold) just sink the ship.
As does the annoying current day trend of putting the cart before the horse and having annoying set ups for future movies that just make the current movie feel incomplete, like a pilot presentation for a TV show that isn’t getting made. Cameron himself has said he is gonna personally shepherd a new trilogy, but that’s not really exciting. Cameron has lost alot of allure as a storyteller these days. He also gave his blessing to Genisys, so what the hell does he matter in this context? The series has just become a cheap ploy at making money, a name brand only, and there’s no real reason to keep this going anymore.
How do you solve a problem like Ridley Scott? The Alien franchise was in dire straights way before he came back to the fold, but he is not helping things at all. In many ways he’s making them worse. Cause the movies before he came back didn’t confuse the series and mythology in ways that boggle the mind. His return to the franchise came in the embarrassed to be connected to Alien movie Prometheus. It was a bad movie, but gorgeous to look at. It also makes no god damn sense as a prequel to the series.
Then he came back to continue the threads left open in that movie, but not really, with Alien: Covenant is just frustrating. He doubles down on the lack of connectivity between the movies, as nothing here aligns with what we know of the xenomorphs. That and it’s a badly written mess that doesn’t know what it wants to be, executed with the wrong decision at almost every turn. It looks like a movie, but it doesn’t feel like a movie. It’s hollow pretense. And while the series was limping along after Alien 3, it at least was contented enough to do it’s own thing.
Each new movie could have been handled by a new director to give it it’s own flair. Resurrection was bad, but that didn’t have to damn the whole series. But the xenomorphs were then thrust into the abyss of AvP. So in a way, Ridley helped elevate them back to the public consciousness. But he also ruined them too, as these movies are not well received. They aren’t liked and they aren’t connecting.
Ridley’s weird hijacking of the franchise to chase half assed theological ideas is not fun, it’s not scary and it’s not smart. The series has been given a 9 figure sheen, but it’s brains still haven’t matured past AvP. Although it thinks it does. Hopefully Ridley isn’t allowed to come back to the franchise. Hell, let’s just keep the xeno’s in cryofreeze for good.
2. Pirates Of The Caribbean
Johnny Depp is poison. There’s no getting around it. For the last ten years, the man’s presence in a movie was a death knell. If he was interested in the project, you might as well have given up on it before it started rolling. There is no bigger sign of the drop off in his talent than this damnable series. It’s a shame to even be calling it damnable, as the first movie in the series is a god damn delight, one of the best blockbusters of the decade and a peak for Depp.
The peak led to a might valley almost immediately that could not be crawled out of. The sequels for this just kept coming and each one was precipitously worst then the last. Shooting 2 and 3 back to back was a horrible idea, as it led to 2 being an absolute chore of no consequence that seemingly never ended while 3 ended up being another overlong slog that is just crammed to the gills with nonsense mythology and unclear payoffs. It’s a mess, but that didn’t stop them.
4 came out with a new director at the helm and a whole new crew, minus Depp and Geoffrey Rush. It was abysmal, a nothing of a movie that couldn’t justify it’s own existence. And 5 apparently came out this year, despite all evidence of it being erased from the history books and incepted out of peoples minds almost immediately.
Depp’s career could be mirrored within this god damn series, as he has basically become a shell of himself and a walking clown show of failed promise. He seemingly can’t pull himself out of this tail spin he’s in, becoming a less reputable version of Nic Cage. The series has been sold only on the strength of Depp and nothing else. It certainly wasn’t love of the Disney ride. Depp made and then broke the series, so there’s literally no reason to keep going with it. He’s been sleepwalking through this series now. Davey Jones’ Locker is too good a resting place for this series.
A franchise that isn’t. For years we have been threatened by Cameron about a never ending stream of sequels to the original blockbuster, but they have yet to materialize. Yet we are apparently closer than ever to getting all 4(!) Avatar sequels in almost consecutive years, with filming being done in an almost Lord Of The Rings style of non stop shooting. But a simple question lingers. Why? Is there any real demand for this?
The first movie made a record breaking haul at the box office, still the top grossing movie ever (inflation not taken into account), yet it has disappeared from the public consciousness almost immediately. No one cared. The initial hype died down, people stopped caring about 3D quickly and the allure of the pretty CGI world dissipated and left everyone with the stink of a bland narrative with no real working parts.
It was all a tech demo for Cameron and nothing more. The world isn’t interesting, and the characters even less so. Going even deeper into the world is not enticing, so the idea of 4 more movies is not some grand carrot at the end of this absurd stick. Cameron could have made so many movies in the interim, smaller and more interesting movies if he wanted to.
Instead of just producing the Terminator sequels, why not focus on those? Maybe focus on getting us full HD Blu ray releases of The Abyss and True Lies instead of the 90th rerelease of Aliens or T2. Make a small little movie that is a return to his Terminator days, or a hard R action picture like he used to make when he was less interested in Awards.
This is a franchise built on shaky foundations, based on box office receipts that didn’t take into account the world wide shrug when the credits rolled. This is an absolute waste of time and it should have stopped before it became a franchise. Because seriously, what was left to be said at the end of that movie? It told a complete story. Nothing is left. Just let sleeping smurf cats lie.
Author Bio: Tom Lorenzo is Long Island, NY’s most preeminent pop culture fanatic. If it’s a western or a horror movie, he wants to see it. No argument is too minuscule or flawed for him to go full force with.