With these films, I was super excited to see them in the theater because of previous encounters I had with these directors, actors, and writers and I thought I was going to see a quality picture. However, even if the talent was present, the films failed to deliver.
I am a very big Ben Affleck fan, and I thought this was going to be a fantastic murder mystery. Instead, we get a very hollow, cynical take on murder sensationalism that wastes the talent of the everyone involved.
The Lovely Bones
Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings Trilogy is a masterpiece. His King Kong is overblown and self-important, but is impressive in some parts. But The Lovely Bones is a train-wreck of a film. It has a fantastic performance by Stanley Tucci and one great moment where the killer almost gets caught. But the movie makes no sense on a logical or emotional level. It was at this point I began to suspect that the success of the trilogy was less about Jackson and more about Tolkien.
Just before this movie, my favorite Clint Eastwood movie came out: In the Line of Fire. Here was another thriller set around the presidency with Eastwood and his Unforgiven co-star Gene Hackman. But what should have been a tight-nit thriller was a sloppy mess with an inexplicable ending.
The World's End and Paul
Shaun of the Dead is a revelation of a film that is a perfect horror/comedy. Hot Fuzz is not as good but it is a great deal of fun and wonderfully quoteable. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost work amazingly well as a comedy duo. But they lost me with these two films. At World's End is a movie that is so hollow that the movie does a complete 180 on its own themes in the last five minutes and the filmmakers don't seem to even notice. Paul loses any goodwill by being incredibly mean-spirited to ordinary fly-over country America and Seth Rogen does nothing to engender any kind of empathy.
Dodgeball ruined me for Ben Stiller. His performance with Vince Vaughn is comedy gold. But without fail, all of his comedies leave me disappointed. I don't understand why, but his humor just completely misses me. When he re-teamed with Vaughn for this movie, I thought we would get something like Dodgeball. Instead it was just a tired rehash of outworn gags.
The Magnificent Seven
I have been wanting another strong action, western film with manly characters who face incredible odds while forging strong bonds of friendship. That is what this remake tries to do. It is not a bad movie in any way. But early on you see the potential that is never fully realized. This is a movie that lives or dies on the chemistry of the characters. Look at the Regulators in Young Guns or Wyatt Earp "and his immortals" in Tombstone and you will see what I mean. The bonding in this movie feels forced and none of the friendships seem very real. None of these Magnificent Seven really feel like pals.
Here is another Chris Pratt film. This, I think, was also the movie that really stalled Jennifer Lawrence's career. The entire movie is built around a love story that is so creepy in its origins, that there is no way that an audience could totally get behind it. They wanted Titanic in space. Instead they got something closer to a Lifetime Movie of the Week.
Steven Spielberg directing.
Robin Williams starring.
John Williams composing.
This should have been perfect.
This movie epitomizes disappointment. All of the talent was perfectly assembled, but none of it worked will. Instead of being child-like and uplifting, it was gross and immature. It was an assembly of movie magicians without any magic.
Robin Hood: Men in Tights
Mel Brooks is hit or miss, but you can see how he was on the wane in this film. This is a movie that tries way too hard to be funny and is constantly hitting you over the head with jokes. It also is sad that towards the end he kept having to reference his funnier movies in order to spice up the jokes.
People may forget what a big star Val Kilmer was at one point. This movie should have been his James Bond. And he does pull out a few fun performances that show off his range. But the movie's script is so disappointingly stupid, from the priest hunting down orphans with wild dogs to the kindly prostitute who rescues the heroes even though her family hates her. This was such a slog and I didn't want to come back for any more.
This was the turn for Shymalan. The Sixth Sense was a phenomenon. Unbreakable was not my taste but I respected what he was trying to do. Signs is actually a very good film if you don't pay attention to the one big plot hole.
But The Village is where it all started going wrong. This is a premise that could have worked... maybe. But it has three things that destroy the enjoyment of it.
1. The "monster" in the movie looks completely unbelievable and ridiculous. That might be part of the point, but that turns you off as a member of the audience.
2. One of the big reveals about the "monster" happens way too early in the film. When they try to bring up the threat again later, it doesn't work.
3. The blind girl will be fine alone in the woods because she is guided by love.
Stay tuned for my next set of most disappointing films: Sequel Stumbles.