6. Speed Racer (The Wachowskis, 2008)
The Wachowskis are certainly loveable directors, with their work preceding Speed Racer including the Matrix trilogy (okay, only the first one of these is really loved by film fans at large, but the sequels do have a small cult following to them largely comprising of the bigger fans of the Wachowskis) and Bound, a brilliantly slick and stylised film about two lesbians who band together to escape their crappy lives through crime (it’s seriously great, and quite overlooked – do see it!), so it would have made a lot of sense for Speed Racer – a film even based upon a TV show of the same name popular with children when it was airing – would have been a film creating a lot of excitement… but it wasn’t to be, as when the trailer dropped for the film and it became clear that it was a film almost entirely made of CGI, a lot of people were very unhappy.
Whilst the film certainly isn’t perfect, the visual animosity of it is just so fascinating, so bold and so unique that a lot of people ended up enjoying it, even if it requires a hell of a lot of suspension of belief. It’s a shame that so many would have been put off of the film by the marketing prepared for it, but marketing is a necessary evil with a studio risk like this, so it can’t really be helped, and just as the sequels to the Matrix did, Speed Racer established a cult following and is now considered a great film by many who hold it close to their hearts.
7. The Visit (M. Night Shyamalan, 2015)
Of course, M. Night Shyamalan was a total critical darling when his career first skyrocketed following the extreme success of The Sixth Sense, and this only continued when Unbreakable was loved by most and even Signs received quite a bit of acclaim when it came out. Signs did mark the start of a brutal critical decline though, and within 10 years every film M Night had released failed to even hold a flickering flame – never mind a candle – to his previous work of the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Everyone started avoiding his films outright after the likes of The Last Airbender and The Happening, and whilst these films are quite ruthlessly over-hated by many, it is understandable for people be sceptical about the quality of a new M. Night film.
In 2015, he released the Visit, which took his already massively hated name and placed that on a Blumhouse (also a not particularly beloved studio at the time, though they’ve since received some love due to their work with Jordan Peele on Get Out and Us) produced found footage horror… it’s a product for disaster, and it is no surprise at all that no one was too interested in seeing this film when it was first announced. Thankfully, this was the start of a return to form for Shyamalan, and though he may never make a film as good as Unbreakable or the Sixth Sense again, at least he’s making great films again.
8. Suicide Squad (David Ayer, 2016)
Okay, this one is just terrible. Following a run of, at absolute best, mildly-liked films from DC and some that were just hated, Suicide Squad did have some okay marketing and the buzz around Jared Leto’s Joker (particularly his criminal, or generally insane and uncomfortable, behind the scenes hijinks) was surprisingly high considering that it was Jared Leto… but then the film came out, and yet again DC fans were greatly disappointed by painfully generic, and often outright lazy and bland direction, terrible editing and performances that never went beyond the surface level, especially in terms of Leto’s performance which despite the buzz and his often illegal behind-the-scenes moments completely flopped.
It was almost as crushingly disappointing as Batman Vs Superman, released earlier the same year – needless to say it wasn’t DC’s year, however since Wonder Woman (maybe with the exclusion of Justice League), it would seem that they’ve altered their approach and found their groove at long last.
9. Bad Boys 2 (Michael Bay, 2003)
A Michael Bay inclusion is bound to have some more of you clicking off, swearing never to return… but one has to admit that he has certainly had some flair over the years. Okay, the Transformers movies really aren’t great for the most part (especially Revenge of the Fallen, which is borderline unwatchable), but both Bad Boys films are certainly watchable despite their often quite offensive uses of stereotyping and attacks on a range of minorities.
Pain and Gain was also a surprise, especially given the fact that it was completely detached from any kind of franchise and furthermore by the fact that it was actually a shockingly well produced and sharp satirical film… Bay has talent within him, he just seems opposed to using too much of it and prefers using cinema as a playground for wide ranges of cameras and a way to focus solely on technical prowess and entertaining as many people as possible, even if this means that in the process he completely loses his focus on narratives that make sense and characters that aren’t incessantly annoying.
Anyway, the point is that before Bad Boys 2 came out, people had started to notice Bay’s worse side, mainly due to the release of Armageddon which was so much of a mess that Ben Affleck spent the entirety of his commentary on the film pulling it apart and saying how much he hated doing the shoot, even laughing often at the ridiculousness of the plot, and so many were fearful of what would be with the sequel to Bad Boys which was Bay’s debut feature and generally a liked film.
It didn’t help that the film opened with a scene involving the KKK, and that the humour of the film included in the trailer was far more outlandish and offensive than Bay’s massive audience had really been used to, but Bad Boys was nonetheless a massive smash hit commercially, no matter how much the critics shot it to pieces in the same way that Ben Affleck had to Armageddon. It’s a testament to how Hollywood works that Bay is still employed and still making ridiculous amounts of money – the word of critics isn’t nearly as loud as the slamming of cash register drawers.
10. The Taking Of Pelham 1 2 3 (Tony Scott, 2009)
Tony Scott, who started his career with films as popular and beloved as Top Gun, The Hunger, Crimson Tide and True Romance (the credit for which usually falls into Quentin Tarantino’s lap rather than Scott’s because of his writing the script, unfortunately), gradually grew more and more distant from the typical Hollywood formula, starting with Spy Game and Man on Fire which were still certainly very accessible films and then making Domino, which is perhaps the most experimentally edited of any mainstream Hollywood output so far this century (it is seriously one of the most insane things you can see, especially in one car crash sequence… it demands to be seen to be believed!).
Eventually he got to remaking The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three, changing the title and giving the film digital makeover to the Nth degree with hyperactive editing to make Michael Bay green with envy and even opening the film with a cover of Jay-Z’s 99 Problems. Of course, many were opposed to this drastic change in styles, especially seeing as Man on Fire was a roaring success, so when Domino had alienated audiences so severely many were put off of Scott’s work entirely, siding with his brother Ridley (until Prometheus released, anyway). It’s a shame as Tony Scott’s absorption of this new pop-art inspired style was seriously exciting, and his death a few years later was truly devastating.