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6 Movies That Didn't Meet the Hype
The Bigger the Hype the Bigger the Fall
By Matt Hoffman
February 22, 2010
Making a good movie ain’t easy. Even the most talented and dedicated filmmakers sometimes produce subpar work; after all, they’re only human. However, when a big-budget franchise entry turns out kind of sucky, the Hollywood publicity machine still has to claim that it’s the best thing since Citizen Kane. Here, then, is a refresher course on recent movies that have generated big gaps between expectations and reality, and not in a good way. Enjoy, haters!
6. Godzilla (1998)
First of all, the Godzilla remake relocated the franchise from Japan to New York City. This meant that Americans would finally receive the special honor of having one of their major cities get smashed to pieces by their favorite giant lizard. Also, said lizard would for the first time be created through modern CGI rather than the traditional method of putting an actor in a big rubber suit. Best of all, the film was directed by Roland Emmerich, who at the time was known more for Stargate and Independence Day than The Day After Tomorrow and 10,000 BC.
Turns out that a computer-generated, non-humanoid Godzilla just isn’t the Godzilla we all know and love. At least this one wasn’t. Beyond that, the remake lacked the fearful symbolism of the original and the charming hokiness of many of the sequels. (One thing that was carried over from the original series, however, was a confusing inconsistency in just how big the monster is supposed to be.)
5. Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Prior to this movie, director Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man series had been on a roll. The original film was fairly well-received, and Spider-Man 2 was so successful that Roger Ebert claimed it “may have defined the high point of the traditional film based on comic-book heroes.” Fans hoped that 3 would continue the saga’s upwards momentum, and why wouldn’t it? After all, it featured Venom, one of the comic’s most important villains.
As it turned out,, Venom had to take a back seat to Sandman and the new incarnation of the Green Goblin. The screenplay couldn’t quite juggle all three villains effectively. Raimi also ended the film on an ambiguous note rather than taking the traditional genre trilogy route of wrapping everything up in film #3. The final product was so unpopular that the series is now being rebooted under the supervision of director Marc Webb. Today Spider-Man 3 is mainly remembered for its incongruous dance number and James Franco delivering a creepy line about pie.
4. Superman Returns (2006)
Superman is arguably the most quintessential superhero in history. This movie marked his return to the silver screen for the first time in almost 20 years. The director in charge of bringing him back was Bryan Singer, whose acclaimed X-Men films had helped popularize comic-book adaptations in Hollywood. Plus, the TV show Smallville had been keeping the character of Superman active in 21st century pop culture.
Actually, the reviews weren’t awful. However, the plot was light on action and seemed to lack the intangible oomph that makes for a classic superhero film—which was what Superman Returns pretty much needed to be in order to justify its $209 million budget. The movie made a profit, but not as much as Warner Bros. had hoped for. As a result, Superman, like Spider-Man, seems destined for a hasty reboot.
3. The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
The Matrix used Gnostic philosophy, cyperpunk aesthetics and Star Wars-level mythologizing to create a unique fictional universe that begged to be expanded with additional stories. Fans had to wait an excruciating four years for that potential to be realized on the big screen. The delay occurred partly because creators Andy and Larry Wachowski filmed the two sequels concurrently, ensuring a unified story and tone between the two. Most importantly, Reloaded promised to supply a re-up of genuine Bullet Time action, hopefully putting to shame the imitators which had sprouted up after the original film’s release.
Well, you can’t invent the wheel twice. The Matrix was successful partly because most people had never seen anything like it before. A sequel was never going to have that advantage. Beyond that, Reloaded was just bloated, with too many drawn-out action and dialogue scenes in which nothing really happened. (It did make a whole lotta money, though, and is currently the second-highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time, after The Passion of the Christ.) Revolutions was worse, but by then people more or less knew what to expect.
2. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Like Superman Returns, this film promised to bring back a classic American hero who had been out of theaters for almost two decades. Unlike Supes, though, Indy wouldn’t have to be recast or handed over to a new director. He would be played by the beloved Harrison Ford and shepherded onto the screen by legendary creators Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. It would be just like the good old days!
You can decide for yourself where Indy 4 went wrong. Did it jump the shark right off the bat with the infamous nuking-the-fridge sequence? Were the aliens a bad idea? Or are Soviets just less innately hate-able than Nazis? Overall, this movie seemed to have too much silliness and not enough of the thrills that made the original trilogy so popular. We did get a pretty good South Park episode out of it, though.
1. The Dark Knight (2008)
Haha, just kidding.
1. Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)
Audiences had been waiting for this ever since the words “Episode IV” first scrolled onto screens in 1977. A New Hope introduced the most fascinating fictional universe in the history of film. Two more movies (plus the sprawling “Expanded Universe” of comic books, video games, etc.) weren’t enough to satisfy fans. We wanted more. In 1993 (10 years after the release of Return of the Jedi) it was announced that the series’ “prequels” would be coming to fruition. This promise didn’t become reality until six years later, but that didn’t dampen enthusiasm. People lined up for tickets weeks in advance. Movie studios avoided releasing any new films in the vicinity of Episode I’s premiere. Countless students and workers played hooky on opening day. This was going to be big.
To be fair, Episode I is not the worst film on this list. It is, however, far from perfect. Given the legacy it had to carry on its shoulders, far from perfect was not nearly good enough. If you want a detailed rundown of what was wrong with this movie, check out that 70-minute review that’s been floating around the internet. The important thing is that in 1999 mankind finally learned a sobering lesson about the value of hype and the folly of wishful thinking. We could never be fooled the same way again.
Of course, if you believe that, then you didn’t read items 2 through 5 of this list. By the way, we have a really awesome bridge you might be interested in…