10 Terrible Films by Brilliant Directors

The worst of the best…

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One of the fundamental truths about life that ensnares all of us is that everyone makes mistakes. Like the time I was fined for drunkenly throwing up in a shopping centre. Or the time I tried to eat a small, wooden plate because I mistakenly believed it to be made of cheese. Or the time I decided to walk home from playing football, misjudged how far away I was from my house, and ending up running through the streets of Doncaster failing to choke back tears. I was 28 years old.

The point is that as a species we are only human goddammit. Even the greatest minds get it wrong sometimes. Here are 10 compelling examples of the maxim that no matter how hard we try, failure comes for us all…

10. Kevin Smith – Cop Out

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The Glory Years: Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy

It’s true that in recent years Kevin Smith has kinda harmed his legacy with the bizarre Tusk and the barely watched Yoga Hosers, but to forget his early cinematic output would be to deny a legacy.

Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy… these films became iconic in their own right, mainly because of Smith’s ability to write dialogue that people could connect to.

Cop Out failed because it stripped away Kevin Smith’s best qualities, namely the aforementioned dialogue and a plucky, underdog narrative, and replaced it with a middling buddy cop movie written by somebody else. And it is terrible. Sorry Kevin.

9. Stanley Kubrick – Barry Lyndon

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The Glory Years: The Shining, Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket

Full disclosure, I’ve never seen Barry Lyndon all the way though. This is mainly because I have tried to sit through this period drama three times and had to turn it off each time. In short, it’s goddamn boring. Anyone who says they love this movie is probably lying. Don’t trust them.

8. Ridley Scott – Robin Hood

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The Glory Years: Blade Runner, Alien, Gladiator

Hollywood is frickin’ obsessed with Robin Hood. 2018 brought yet another adaptation to the world, this time with Taron Egerton donning the green tights. Anyone who is anyone accepts that we only need two Robin Hood movies. The Disney cartoon and the absolutely brilliantly bonkers Kevin Costner version. Everything else is just details.

Ridley Scott attempted to take this silly, probably apocryphal character and turn him into a dark, brooding menace. It doesn’t work. Obviously.

7. Clint Eastwood – Hereafter

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The Glory Years: Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino

I actually think Clint Eastwood is slightly underrated as a director. He is perhaps best known for being an onscreen tough guy and a real world helmet, but his filmography behind the camera speaks for itself.

Apart from Hereafter. Now, I love Matt Damon. What I don’t want though is to see him in a supernatural snoozefest that is about as memorable as any of the last three Weezer albums. Dreadful.

6. Steven Spielberg – Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

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The Glory Years: Jaws, Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan

I love Steven Spielberg. There is a strong argument that he might be the greatest director of all time. But this film… this film is total bullshit.

Everything about the fourth Indiana Jones film is abysmal. The clunky title. Shia LaBeouf. Goddamn aliens showing up at the end. What the hell was he thinking?

5. James Cameron – Avatar

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The Glory Years: Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Aliens, Titanic

It’s time for us as a species to stop pretending that Avatar was a good movie. Sure, it’s the highest grossing film ever made (something that seems more and more like a fever dream with every passing year) but, ultimately, it’s just a load of blue people making us feel bad for not recycling.

Maybe Avatar 2 will be better. James Cameron is the master of sequels after all.

4. David Fincher – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

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The Glory Years: Se7en, Fight Club, Zodiac

There are some actors I just straight up dislike. Idris Elba is one. Channing Tatum is another. But nobody quite sets me on edge like Daniel Craig. What does that guy do? He isn’t charismatic. He isn’t funny. He IS dull though. Very dull. And so is this pointless retread through source material that has already been a book and a film before this even came out.

Without a doubt Fincher’s worst film.

For every David Fincher film ranked from worst to best, click here.

3. The Coen Brothers – The Ladykillers

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The Glory Years: Fargo, The Big Lebowski, No Country For Old Men

The best directors of their generation team up with possibly the greatest actor of all time, Thomas Jeffrey Hanks, to produce… a comedy that is never funny. A farce that is farcical for all the wrong reasons. A film that brings out the very worst in the Coen Brothers self indulgent side.

It’s best if everyone just pretends this film never happened. Which film? That’s the spirit.

2. Ron Howard – The Da Vinci Code

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The Glory Years: Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man

The second appearance in this list by Tom Hanks but the first to feature Tom Hanks’ absolutely ludicrous hair piece. Oh my God, this film is so, so terrible. Which is weird because the book is definitely compelling, if badly written, and the cast is very strong.

It’s difficult to know what went wrong here but the nagging feeling is that this is a film that just takes itself too seriously.

1. Christopher Nolan – The Dark Knight Rises

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The Glory Years: Inception, Memento, Dunkirk

I am a Chris Nolan fanboy. I love everything he has ever committed to film (present company excluded). It’s generally accepted that Batman Begins and The Dark Knight revolutionised the superhero genre whilst unfortunately giving birth to the idea that every comic book adaptation needs to be dark and gritty.

Taking my seat in the cinema for DKR was the most excited I’ve been since The Phantom Menace. And we all know what happened there. The moral of the story is, never get excited. It’s the hope that kills you.

DKR is just a total mess. It’s bloated, overly complicated, under realised and packed full of plot holes. I’m still waiting for history to agree with me on this one but everyone else seems to love it so, once again, I am probably emphatically in the wrong.

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