It’s one of the worst feelings, hearing about a cool and original concept, seeing a mind-blowing trailer, and then going into the film with high expectations that are suddenly dashed because the concept was overrun with bad acting and a sub-par plot that’s going in no obvious direction.
Concepts like Sucker Punch‘s imaginary escape from an insane asylum should have had people flocking to the theaters. At the same time, X-Men: The Last Stand attempted to squish two storylines into one film, making one of the worst superhero movies out there. Whether it’s an original concept or a page to screen adaptation, these movies wasted great concepts.
The Monuments Men
Based on the true story of Allied men from the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program, The Monuments Men follows the group as they protect important cultural artifacts from the Axis forces during World War II. It’s a cool concept, especially considering it’s based on true events.
But even the ensemble cast of award-winning actors couldn’t save this movie. While the film does do a fair job of setting the mood of the second world war, the poor writing and boring characters leave little to be admired. As such, it received a staggering 30 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
The 2016 film Passengers had all the makings of one of the better sci-fi films of the decade. The story follows Jim Preston and Aurora Lane, passengers on a spacecraft to a faraway colony on another planet. But when his sleep chamber malfunctions, they’re woken up 90 years before his destination.
Instead of diving headfirst into the themes of loneliness, existentialism, morality, and the human soul, the film stays within a superficial realm. With childish dialogue and cliches, Passengers loses its interesting concept to cater to a teenage audience. All that’s left is the beautiful scenery and remarkable CGI work.
One of the biggest disappointments to come out of 2018 cinema was the cyberpunk futuristic film Hotel Artemis. Imagine a secret hotel in a futuristic Los Angeles that caters to the criminal underground, giving them anonymous medical aid and a place to lay low. It sounds like a great film, right? Wrong!
The only thing this movie had going for it was Jodi Foster’s performance and the cool action scenes that were scattered throughout the awful acting and plot. Kudos to the filmmakers for trying to do something different. In the end, it was nothing more than a bad movie with a cool idea.
Sucker Punch follows the story of Babydoll, a young woman trying to escape an insane asylum days before her lobotomy. Then, in an anesthesia-riddled hallucination, she materializes a complex escape with her fellow female captives. It could have been a very adventure-packed flick dealing with feminism and girl power.
Instead, the female characters are thrown into tiny outfits to do elaborate fight scenes, and the narrative is all but forgotten. At the end of the day, the film does nothing more than take the cool concept of empowerment and exploit the female actresses in a lifeless action film.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, And Vile
Based on Elizabeth Kendall’s memoir The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy, the 2019 film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile had all the makings of an epic serial killer flick shown from the perspective of the woman who was in love with him. Instead, it was all over the place with different perspectives, tones, and confusing writing that didn’t help matters.
Of course, the film isn’t totally horrible. But it is very unsettling how the filmmakers romanticize the “charming prince,” steering clear of some of the most stereotypical serial killer films that showcase the main person as a loner.
Pairing director Ridley Scott with author Cormac McCarthy should have produced a great picture. Instead, we got The Counselor, a movie with all the components of being Award-winning but no solid story to back it up. The group of A-list international actors, including Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, and Penelope Cruz, couldn’t even hold the picture together.
And one would think a story about a high-level lawyer getting mixed up in a cartel drug deal would be the next big mob movie. Alas, instead of diving deeper into the elements of corruption, law, and the mafia, the film stumbles around unnecessary dialogue and a confusing plot.
Red Riding Hood
Red Riding Hood takes the classic fairytale and makes it into a romantic, horror, who-did-it murder flick. It’s actually not a horrible idea, aside from the fact that the werewolf happens to be a shapeshifter and Red’s love interest — people were over the weird animal and human relationship angle after Beauty and the Beast, folks.
Either way, this film’s first mistake was taking the cool horror and murder concept that would have completely reinvented the classic tale and made it nothing more than another teenage romance with a creepy supernatural twist. Thank you, Twilight, for making that a norm in the 2000s.
X-Men: The Last Stand
After two solid films, viewers were excited to see the third installment of the X-Men franchise. After seeing The Last Stand, though, many people wished they never heard the name Professor X. This is because, somehow, the film completely annihilated two of the comics’ most beloved storylines: the Dark Phoenix and the cure for the mutant gene.
With everything happening in the film, it feels rushed, with no solid character development or arc to attribute to Gene going all, “I’m going to blow the Professor up and kill my boyfriend.” Director Brett Ratner would have been better off splitting the film into two or even three separate projects.
Based on J.G. Ballard’s 1975 novel of the same name, High-Rise had all the makings of a true masterpiece. It dives into the ideas of power, playing god, paranoia mixed with creativity, and what happens when people are thrown into a tower that holds everything they’d ever desire, blocking them off from the outside world.
While the film has a cast of A-list actors, headed by Tom Hiddleston, it fails to hold a solid narrative. Pretty much, what should have been an intriguing two-hour-long sci-fi dystopian film is only good for its visual effects, bouts of madness, and intense musical score.
The Island Of Dr. Moreau
Considering The island of Dr. Moreau is one of H.G. Wells’ more thought-provoking stories, one would hope the film would be just as deep. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. One too many behind the scenes antics such as Val Kilmer being too much of his egocentric self and Marlon Brando not wanting to learn his lines resulted in complete chaos.
Taking on the horrible costumes worn by the extras, of whom were rainforest dwellers, and the firing of director and writer Richard Stanley, the film fell way short of what it could have been — an expose of moral responsibility and human identity.
The concept of Death Note should have translated over to the silver screen, considering it had a beloved anime series to work off of. Alas, the story of the boy meeting a mystical death god who gives him a book full of names of people who will die is totally lost in the 2017 film.
Full of powerful themes such as playing god, power, and the concept of free will, the film should have been a must-see motion picture when it was released on Netflix. Unfortunately, between the bad acting, poorly written script, and a plot with no depth, the film feels nothing but rushed.
The Netflix film Velvet Buzzsaw is one of those films you’re excited to see because of its original horror concept and the list of actors leading the charge. But even Jake Gyllenhaal, John Malkovich, and Rene Russo couldn’t save this movie from being bad, which is sad, considering how cool and unique the concept is.
In Los Angeles, a supernatural force kills people who let their greed get in the way of art. It’s a different idea that, if executed properly, could have made for an intense thriller flick. Instead, we’re left with choppy editing, bad writing, and a lack of music that makes it feel more B-movie than anything.
The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen
This particular film makes so many people angry because of what it could have been. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen brings together some of the biggest names in classic adventure literature, including Tom Sawyer, Dorian Gray, and Captain Nemo. All of whom are trying to stop a villain from uprooting society and turning people against one another.
But the adventurous and original concept was overshadowed by horrible puns, and an out of place cast (grown-up Tom Sawyer?), and action sequences that look unfinished. The fact that this film is the reason Sean Connery quit acting also speaks wonders!
Live By Night
Directed by Ben Affleck and revolving around the corrupt cops, prohibition, speakeasies, and gangsters of the roaring ’20s, one would think Live by Night has all the makings of a stellar film. Well, those people would be wrong. Unfortunately, the underworld of that particular decade couldn’t save the film from being a flop.
With too many characters and side stories happening, it’s hard to grasp what the main idea is for the film. And when it comes to mafia movies, that’s the last thing a director wants. Honestly, it just feels like the ghost of an otherwise epic motion picture.
In the comics, scientist John Henry Iron does his best to rid the streets of the weapons he’s produced. Of course, this requires him to wear an iron, sorry, steel suit. The people at DC would also like everyone to disregard the similarities to Iron Man. Anywho, the comic book character is all about atoning for his sins and helping people.
Then, someone upstairs decided it was a good idea to put Shaquille O’Neal in a steel suit to play the lead. Not only is the former professional basketball player’s acting skills non-existent, but the movie is so bad that it’s not even considered funny.
What’s so sad about The Purge is that it had all the makings of a great first film of a franchise. Looking at human nature and what people would do if they’re given one night a year of no rules, laws, or boundaries, what would happen? It’s a great and rare concept in a horror film.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t executed properly. Instead of going into human nature, chaos, and anarchy, the film instead hovers on the surface, never diving deep enough to fully tackle the underlying message: what would you do if given the absolute power and chance without consequence?
Bear with us here: In a futuristic world, Mila Kunis, aka Jupiter Jones, is next in line for an inheritance that could potentially alter the state of the cosmos. Unfortunately, Jupiter Ascending is way too in-depth of an idea for a single two-hour-long film, making it feel too condensed and rushed.
Also, the fact that someone in a suit thought making Channing Tatum a wolf-hybrid of some kind was a good idea is somewhat alarming. And didn’t casting know Kunis is more of a comedic rom-com actress? Either way, this particular film earned its very low 27 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
Masters Of The Universe
In what can only be described as a Thor knock-off before Thor became a thing, Masters of the Universe had the potential for greatness but fell staggeringly short. Bypassing the fact that one of the main characters is called “He-Man,” the concept is actually pretty solid: two magic keys, a villain, a hero, and one of the keys falling into the hands of two Earth teenagers.
The thing is, enough was going on in the story without He-Man time-traveling to the ’80s to ask Courteney Cox and her boyfriend for help locating the key before Skeletor (yes, that’s the villain’s name). Not surprisingly, it’s now a cult classic.
Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice
Taking two of the biggest superheroes in the DC comics universe and throwing them onto the silver screen to duke it out in an epic battle should have made for a great film. Instead, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice falls short in pretty much every single facet of film you can think of.
The film is a complete mess, with no acting direction, narrative plot, and so much exposition that it gives off a pretty horrible first impression and introduction to the DC Extended Universe. Seriously, just because Superman says “Martha,” all of a sudden, Batman isn’t going to beat him up?
The first mistake of The Quest was allowing Jean Claude Van Damme to write, direct, and star in the movie. The man hasn’t been in one good film, after all! The thing is, he had a good idea that would have made for a decent film if not for a few aspects.
But even an underground martial arts tournament located in Tibet wasn’t enough to make this film good. The narrative isn’t there, the writing is very thin with no depth, and the entire plot is weirdly similar to that of Van Damme’s previous film Bloodsport.
The Last Airbender
The fact that The Last Airbender had an entire three chapter-long animated series to work from makes this film even more disappointing. From the mispronunciation of the main character’s name to the horrific acting and set design, nothing seemed to go right with this film, even though it had an amazing concept to work off of.
After being rescued from an iceberg, Aang embarks on a quest, along with his friends, to master the four elements and bring an end to the 100-year war and stop the Fire Nation from enslaving the other nations. See, a cool idea that resulted in a five percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
Sorry, but not even the legendary JLo could have saved the cheese-fest and horridness that is the 1997 cult classic Anaconda. Following the story of a film crew journeying down the Amazon River in search of a long-lost indigenous tribe should have been a pretty solid film.
Instead, a crazy guy who tricks the crew into venturing into waters with a disastrous-looking CGI snake is thrown into the picture. What should have been a sitting-on-the-edge-of-your-couch psychological thriller turned into a film that earned 11 Golden Raspberry nominations.
Formula 51 (The 51st State)
Somehow, the era of quirky crime films ended up with Samuel L. Jackson in cornrows and a kilt wreaking havoc around London with Robert Carlyle as his sidekick. The thing is, the concept of Formula 51 was totally there: a chemist who tries to sell the formula of his new designer drug to the underground market.
The issue is that the film tries too hard and winds up being more cartoonish than anything. And when something is characterized as being cartoonish, the only aspect that’s going to save it is the narrative. But the film is missing that, too.
The thing with Scanners is that the film decided to take a pretty psychologically advanced idea of a small group of telepathic people within normal society and have their heads explode. Not that people aren’t all for some bodily harm in thriller flicks, but this film wasn’t the time or place.
Instead of diving into the different sectors of good telepaths vs. bad telepaths and regular people vs. telepaths, the film has mediocre characters and a muddled plot that has paved the way for the film to become a cult classic.
Children Of The Corn
As a horror film based on a Stephen King novel, the 1984 film Children of the Corn should have been a great start to the wildly recognized franchise. Instead, the story about children worshiping “He Who Walks Behind the Rows,” ritually murdering the town’s adults and a couple driving through is cornier than anything. Pun intended.
Even though it’s a horror picture depicting children worshiping corn, the concept does nothing to overshadow the bad acting, horribly written script, or the ’80s special effects. Director Fritz Kiersch probably wishes he went with King’s original screenplay and not George Goldsmith’s.
Last Action Hero
How Arnold Schwarzenegger gets tied into these strange films is beyond us, but here we are with Last Action Hero. Honestly, the concept is there: a young boy, Danny, gets a magic ticket, transporting him into the universe of his favorite hero, Jack Slater. But when the villain Benedict gets the ticket, Danny and Slater go back to reality and stop him.
The film’s more like a blueprint of a general idea and less of a well-thought-out motion picture. So, it leaves viewers with a movie trying to figure out what it wants to be — a gritty action film, a family film, or a comedy-ridden action film.
Will Smith portraying a highly-skilled assassin on the run from the government and a clone of his younger self should have been beyond a hit with the action movie crowd. Instead, it turned into one the biggest flop of the 2019 cinematic season, losing Paramount more than a few million dollars in the process.
With a very poorly written script that didn’t really have a clear direction, the only thing this particular action film really has going for it was a pretty cool looking CGI young Will Smith. Hey, there’s something to be said about a bit of nostalgia! Even so, the I’m-running-from-my-younger-self concept was ruined.
The 2011 film Limitless had one of the decade’s cooler concepts: a pill that allows the taker to access 100 percent of their brainpower. The potential for the direction of a film with this idea is, wait for it, limitless! Unfortunately, the filmmakers took every cliché and ran with them.
There are the stereotypical Russian bad guys trying to get their hands on Bradley Cooper’s magic pills, endless chases around a major city, and a guy who could do or be anything in the world decides to be a banker. Yea, this movie was a wasted opportunity.
The Hayden Christensen-led film Jumper seemed so full of promise when it was first released. The film follows David Rice, a young man who can teleport around the world but is being chased by Roland Cox, a man sworn to extinguish “jumpers.” It’s a really cool sci-fi concept that fell beyond short of delivering.
Not only does the short 88-minute runtime do nothing for the intricate plot, but the jumps are so fast-paced that it’s hard to follow where the characters actually are in the world. Tack on the anti-climactic ending and the franchise Jumper was supposed to start was thrown out before getting started.
If Lucy were made before the 2011 film Limitless, it would have turned out a bit better. But the fact of the matter is that it was made in 2014 and has a very similar concept to the former film: a super pill that allows the taker to use 100 percent of their brain capabilities.
Unfortunately for Lucy, the movie is so fast-paced that it doesn’t stop to examine what’s actually happening to its title character. She was unknowingly made into a drug mule and had those pills dissolve in her bloodstream, after all! Either way, the cool visuals, and concept couldn’t make up for the sub-par plot.