Each year comes paired with a cadre of films that audiences can’t help but look forward to. It’s a natural part of the industry too, given the hundreds of millions of dollars studios spend to market their upcoming releases. Sometimes though, the hype well exceeds the actual quality of the movie itself, leading to an inevitable feeling of disappointment. This is often the fault of the studio for over-hyping the project, while other movies are straight up terrible. Whatever the reason, these are the most disappointing movies Hollywood ever put out.
1. The Godfather Part III (1990)
Point blank, the first two films in Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather saga exist in the upper echelon of truly great cinema. That’s what made the largely middling third installment such a massive disappointment. The Godfather Part III wasn’t exactly terrible, but when the bar for success is set at “two of the greatest movies ever made,” you’re pretty much set up for failure. Nowadays, you’re better off watching the first two films and pretending the third effort never took place.
2. Lady in the Water (2006)
Back before 2006, M. Night Shyamalan was widely regarded as a damn good filmmaker. His resume at the time included The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs, and The Village, the last of which was considered to be his weakest effort, albeit far from terrible.
Then, along came Lady in the Water, a movie so incoherent, boring, and underwhelming, that it single-handedly marked the end of Shyamalan’s time as a heralded director and writer. Subsequent projects only continued his downward slide, and even today, he’s only beginning to pick up the pieces of what used to be a promising career in Hollywood.
3. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Oof. Where do we even begin with this one? The latest installment in the Indiana Jones saga was trapped in development hell for decades, due in large part to an insistence on extraterrestrials being used as a key element in the story. Ultimately, the idea won out, leading to a twist ending that saw Indy tangling with inter-dimensional aliens. It was a concept that proved too ridiculous for a series where a magic box melted a dude’s face off, which should tell you just how poorly it played to audiences in 2008.
4. Alice in Wonderland (2010)
The world of Wonderland and Tim Burton should have been a match made in heaven. The offbeat director built his career on bizarre and imaginative ideas, the two elements that form the foundation of Lewis Carroll’s original novel. What we got instead though was a pale reflection of the source material, stripping out much of the heart and quirk of the story, and cramming it full of special effects and a rote Hollywood adventure narrative.
5. Suicide Squad (2016)
An argument can be made for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice occupying this spot on our list instead, but in terms of insanely-hyped releases that crashed and burned, Suicide Squad is tough to beat.
DC’s villain-centric ensemble movie was weighed down by pricey reshoots, meddling from the higher-ups at Warner Bros., and editing done by the same company that cut together the trailers. It certainly looked stylish, but contained nothing in the way of an engaging story or intriguing characters. Suffice it to say, there’s a good deal of pressure on Wonder Woman and Justice League to redeem DC’s movie-verse in the wake of this one.
6. Alien 3 (1992)
There’s a strong argument to be made that there hasn’t been a good movie in Ridley Scott’s Alien saga since 1986. Enter Alien 3 in 1992. Directed by David Fincher and starring Sigourney Weaver, it certainly had the pieces in place for excellence. It never quite managed to utilize the tools at its disposal though, delivering an effort that barely passed muster as a good sci-fi movie, much less a well-made installment in the Alien franchise.
7. Ender’s Game (2013)
Given the recent rise of the sci-fi genre as Hollywood’s most marketable franchise-builder, it’s that much more tragic that Ender’s Game couldn’t quite catch on. Orson Scott Card’s novel of the same name is nothing short of iconic, and his high-concept views on war and jingoism are timelessly apt. Unfortunately, director Gavin Hood’s movie adaptation couldn’t reflect that vision, killing the fledgling franchise in the crib with a subpar cinematic effort.
8. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
Gavin Hood checks in on our list again for X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a movie so bad that it’s been thrown out of X-Men movie canon entirely in the years since. Today, it’s recognized as the film that almost ruined Deadpool forever, sewing his mouth shut and turning him into a mindless zombie super-soldier in the third act. If you’re going through a full-on X-Men rewatch, you’re better off pretending Origins never existed; that’s certainly what 20th Century Fox has done.
9. The Golden Compass (2007)
Similar to Ender’s Game, The Golden Compass was based off of a series of iconic novels ripe for a movie adaptation. It was steeped in controversy from day one, given the fact that many view Philip Pullman’s original trilogy as the atheist’s answer to C.S. Lewis’ Narnia saga. What we got in the movie was an neutered, unspectacular version of Pullman’s rich, engaging story. Thankfully, it’s getting picked up for a rebooted TV series on BBC in 2017, but it took almost a full decade for us to even consider diving back in after the relative disappointment of the movie.
10. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999)
You couldn’t blame anyone for getting excited about the first new Star Wars movie in 16 years. Hell, even the first trailer for the film looked pretty damn incredible, and with George Lucas in the driver seat, expectations were sky high. What hit theaters wasn’t even close to what fans were hoping for. Subsequent films in the prequel trilogy managed to improve on it slightly, but when you can remove a chapter from the story and have it make almost no difference, odds are that movie isn’t worth your time and effort.
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