With so many movies being released each year, it shouldn’t shock anyone to hear that plenty of them disappoint. This is especially true when you think about how often Hollywood tries to reinvigorate franchises that are near and dear to people’s hearts. Put simply, not every movie is going to be a winner.
It’s not just big franchises though. Any movie is capable of disappointing. It just needs to show some signs of potential. That’s more or less the criteria for this list. If the movie shows any promise, it will be included. If it seems dead on arrival, as is the case with Hellboy and Shaft, then it will be not be included.
The movies below are not necessarily bad. Some of them are perfectly watchable. The issue is simply that they didn’t live up to the promise.They’ll be ranked in order of how disappointing they are rather than how bad they are. If a movie showed a lot of potential before crashing and burning, then it’ll be near the top. With those brief explanations out of the way, the top ten will be listed below.
10. The Upside
The Intouchables was a phenomenon when it came out back in 2011. Earning almost $450 million at the worldwide box office, this was a movie that people flocked to see, and for good reason. It was a little hokey, but it had a feel-good message at its center that made people feel hopeful.
This kind of strong reaction among viewers inevitably resulted in a Hollywood remake starring Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart. People weren’t exactly clamoring for a remake, but it’s still a shame they couldn’t pull off something that came close to rivaling the original.
The Intouchables has its own problems, but at least it feels genuine. The Upside sort of just goes through the motions. It spends a lot of time recreating the scenes from the original film, which means that a good chunk of the movie feels pointless.
Meanwhile, added scenes tend to add next to nothing. They only add to the predictability of an already predictable story. We’ve all seen this before, and we’ve seen it done better. The Fundamentals of Caring, The Sessions, and (of course) The Intouchables all tell the same story. They just happen to know how to tell the story in an engaging way.
Overall, The Upside’s biggest problem is its inability to justify its existence. It takes most of what we saw in The Intouchables and makes it dull. Two strong performances aren’t enough to save a movie that’s overly sentimental and frustratingly conventional. Sure, some of its problems come as a direct result of its predecessor’s mistakes, but at least that movie had some heart.
Listen, a slasher superhero movie has a lot of potential, but Brightburn doesn’t live up to that potential. Unlike a lot of movies on this list, it’s never boring. In fact, it’s pretty damn entertaining from start to finish. It’s just not smart or inventive, and it could’ve been in the right hands. Instead, it’s 91 minutes of a pissed off kid killing helpless people. For some, that’s probably enough. Others will definitely be looking for something deeper.
As much as Brightburn wants people to believe otherwise, it is a really straightforward slasher movie. Sure, the antagonist has superpowers, but that’s about the only difference. Otherwise, there’s not a whole lot that allows this movie to stick out from Halloween or Friday the 13th. Considering the fact that slasher movies are often considered the lowest form of horror, this may be a warning sign to some people.
The kills are brutal and fun to watch, but that’s about it. The story is incredibly barebones, which is a shame because there’s a lot of potential here. If they would’ve delved deeper into the character’s psyche, things may have been a little more captivating. The folks behind the camera instead decided to go for straight blood and gore. This approach is adequate, but Brightburn is a movie that really could have been more than adequate.
8. Pet Sematary
This is a frustrating one because of how quickly reviews dipped. Following its first screening, Pet Sematary reviews were glowing. People were calling it one of the best Stephen King adaptations ever made. Basically, the Rotten Tomatoes score started high before it plummeted. Maybe the first round of critics saw a different movie than everyone else because the current Rotten Tomatoes score is probably appropriate.
Pet Sematary is not a top-tier Stephen King adaptation. It doesn’t reach the highs of It, Carrie, or the Shining. It also doesn’t come close to approaching the quality of the more dramatic adaptations like Stand by Me and The Green Mile. It’s certainly better than a lot of other King movies, but so is slamming your foot in a steel door.
This take on the classic novel doesn’t offer anything that couldn’t be found in the original movie, and that wasn’t a great movie to start. It’s not a beat-for-beat remake. In fact, it makes a lot of changes, but these changes aren’t really meaningful. They don’t do anything to help the movie stick out in any worthwhile way. It feels a lot less silly than the original, but that could just be because we have the technology to make it work. It’s still an uninspired trudge through familiar territory.
In the introduction, there was talk about how not every movie on this list is bad. Pet Sematary is an example. It’s not bad; it’s just monotonous. It feels rather soulless compared to countless other horror movies. When movies like Us and Midsommar exist, this one just can’t compete.
A good chunk of the live action Disney remakes stick dangerously close to the original story. Movies like Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella were visually impressive, but they seemed scared to take any kind of risk. This approach to filmmaking resulted in movies that were fine but unnecessary.
It would have been a lot harder for Tim Burton’s Dumbo to pull that off considering the original’s 64-minute runtime. Burton and company had to make some changes to the story so that modern audiences would get a more cohesive and epic story in-line with what they had come to expect.
An expanded Dumbo sounds like a great idea in theory, but Burton never quite sticks the landing. This is probably due to the fact that there isn’t enough content to fill the sub-two hour runtime.
In an effort to keep things grounded, human characters replace the anthropomorphic animals from the original. While all of the actors give strong performances, the writing does very little to make these characters interesting.
New characters are constantly being introduced, but they only exist to move an incredibly thin story forward. Dumbo isn’t a complex story, so it shouldn’t be surprising to hear that this inflated take on a timeless tale tends to feel bloated. Perhaps Walt Disney had the right idea when he claimed “you can stretch a story just so far and after that it won’t hold together”
There are some eye-catching scenes scattered throughout the movie, but “scattered” is the key word. Viewers have to sit through large sections of dull exposition and unnecessary dialogue in order to catch some of the more engaging scenes. Watching the beautifully animated elephant take flight for the first time is breathtaking, but there’s a cost. Most people won’t want to sit through the boredom just to see a few standout moments, and honestly, who can blame them?
6. Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile
Hollywood has a hit-or-miss track record when it comes to biographical serial killer movies. Monster is cinematic gold, Gacy is an abomination, and Summer of Sam is somewhere in-between. In theory, the track record should be a little more consistent when you consider the subject matter, but that’s sadly not the case.
Serial killers are inherently interesting, so interesting movies should follow, but that’s not what happens. Writers and directors tend to focus on the wrong things. If they focus on the right things, they sometimes do so in a way that’s bland in repetitive. Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile gives viewers a visualized Wikipedia entry about Ted Bundy that feels both generic and uninformative.
This is especially true when you consider the fact that the director also created a documentary feature that outlines the same exact details. It doesn’t have the same Hollywood flair, but it certainly tells the same story. Yes, documentaries and narrative films are two different mediums, but why can’t this narrative film offer something a little different? It’s not just that it covers the same ground as the documentary. It covers the same ground as countless other movies.
It’d be easy to take that argument and claim that it’s unfair. After all, isn’t the director just telling Ted Bundy’s story? Maybe his life is just one big serial killer cliché! That certainly would be fair if the director didn’t take so many been-there-done-that liberties. He skews the story so that it’s much more in-line with what viewers allegedly want to see, but this ultimately results in a movie that feels cheap and uninspired.