Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Which movie...

... do you view as a major missed opportunity? It might have been the casting, the director, the screenplay, the tone. Something was off! And do you still dream of seeing it again in some magically altered form that's more to your liking?

67 comments:

Dom said...

The Fountain, without a doubt.

I remember being swept away by the trailer. I imagined an incredibly romantic epic. Instead, I found a film with a screenplay still in need of development, not to mention a film that clearly had to make do with too small a budget.

Vikter said...

"Nine." The casting was all wrong, and the "staging of musical numbers in the lead's head" trope is old and tired already. We're going into these with an established suspension of disbelief reflex already intact. I think that Rob Marshall missed the mark on it completely, and it's painful to say with "Chicago" being one of my favorite musicals ever.

Burning Reels said...

Lovely Bones - although perhaps too much would need to be changed!

JoFo said...

Little Children
There was a great movie in there undeneath all the poor decisions.

notanotherblog said...

^ I keep coming up with the cast of "Nine" if it happened in the 80's (Keaton, Streep, MacLaine, Spacek, Lange) or if the Weinsteins were smart enough to cast people who need to win Oscars (Moore, Krakowski, Chenoweth).


The first thing that comes to mind in alternate universe re-casting: Cate Blanchett and to a lesser extent, Eva Green in "Closer." Every time I watch "Closer," I try to imagine what Cate would have done.

notanotherblog said...

p.s. Little Children is a perfect movie. Although some people say Samantha Morton would have shone as Sarah or John Carrol Lynch as the pedophile.

Michael Parsons said...

'The Watcher in the Woods'
It still scares as a adult, but would love to see it remade, still set in the 70's but with a darker focus.
Aso 'The Neverending Story'

MattyD. said...

The Lovely Bones.

If only Lynne Ramsay had stayed on as director.

Volvagia said...

Gentleman's Agreement. This may seem like it's coming out of left field, but the inherent bigotry in Peck's article idea could have made for a nice biting comedy on that character, instead of the sappy "message drama" mess that resulted.

anna said...

I second "The Neverending Story". That's one remake I'd definitely like to see happening. There are so many things in the novel I'd love to see on screen.

Marsha Mason said...

Doubt. The screenplay and acting were great, but the directing was such a distraction. (I know I'm in the minority, but I thought Meryl was GREAT in this.) I'd've loved to see Lars von Trier give it a sort of Dogville staging.

David said...

Baz Luhrmann's Australia. I'm not sure what I would change about it, but I feel like it could have been something great.

And I know I'm in the minority, but I adored Nine and wouldn't change a thing. My second favorite of last year after the Basterds.

jbaker475 said...

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly... *waits for the flames* and ONLY because of Harwood's screenplay, which felt like it was trying to treat Bauby's story clinically/objectively; it felt like the totally wrong way to approach such a fundamentally emotional/human story, and left me cold, despite the strong performances, great music, and stunning cinematography.

Robert said...

Lost in Translation, I thought was a half-dozen good scenes strung together with a lot of filler.

I've seen it 3 times now, each time hoping something clicks in me that seems to click in other people.

But nope, I still don't see a coherent whole there. Wish the screenplay had gone through a few more drafts.

The Man Behind The Curtain said...

Synechdoche, New York. It's a great screenplay and has a superb cast, but Charlie Kaufman as director didn't really do anything spectacular. I would love to see what Spike Jonze would have done with it.

Wild Celtic said...

Alice in Wonderland (2010)
and most definitely
Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons. Langdon was poorly cast, the direction was off and the screenplay whittled the female characters down to nothing significant. I dream to see them in a magically altered form.

Volvagia said...

If anything recent, I'd go with, of all things Watchmen. Three things: 1. Replace emotionless Malin Akerman. (Witherspoon? Hudson? Alba?) 2. Include props to hide Dr. Manhattan's "junk" after first showing. 3. Cut the sex scene. The first time it was cool, but it's the only scene concept that doesn't hold up on a second viewing. (The movie was already a bit long. Even I knew when to let a cool scene from the comic go when I wrote my Johnny The Homicidal Maniac adaptation.) Overall: A 2 3/4 star movie that should have been at least a 3 1/4

Volvagia said...

And yes: I grade in quarter stars. (My worst movie ever is probably 1/4 star to To Catch a Thief. Yeah, that's right. There's no chemistry, no good visuals, and nothing he hadn't done before. P.S. Any Hitchcock movie that features cars extensively can't get higher than a 3 1/4. Those scenes are always ugly. And yes, that quantifier includes Psycho.)

MRRIPLEY said...

I know this is obscure and a bit randonBUT IT does have 2 big names a well known director but bad box office AND REPUTATION.

what i am talking about is

MARY REILLY!!!!

RECAST IT AND FLESH OUT THE SCRIPT.

Anonymous said...

X-men 3. Could have been an epic ending to a great trilogy had Bryan Singer returned to direct. Instead we got Brett Ratner and a camp version of X-men.

Emily said...

King Arthur...I had been hoping it would combine the best elements of movies like Braveheart and Gladiator with Arthurian mythology, but it was sunk by bad dialogue and erratic pacing. So sad to see Clive Owen wasted that way, too.

Josh said...

This one is easy for me. Groundhog Day. I always thought that everything about the movie, especially Bill Murray, was perfect except for Andie MacDowell. She sucks the life out of every scene she is in. Make that movie with a good female lead that we want to see Phil Connors fall in love with and I would remember it as one of the all time greatest comedies (as opposed to just being a good one).

Alex C. said...

'RENT', 'Nine', 'Sweeney Todd', and pretty much every other musical adaptation released in the past decade (sans 'Chicago').

Deus Ex Machina said...

"Perfume" based on the Patrick Suskind novel. and "An Education...that ending ruined everything.

cal roth said...

Hey, I think Maryl was great in Doubt, too.

Major missed opportunity? Sweeney Todd. They should have hired real singers or cut the whole musical thing (the story would still work without the songs, like Wilder's Irma La Douce).

Runs Like A Gay said...

I really wanted to love Frozen River.

For the first three quarters of the movie it's brilliant, but then it gets bogged down in the action/suspense elements of the script which are neither written very well or directed with any sort of tension by Courtney Hunt.

I guess I'd change the script or tone of the last third.

troyhopper said...

This list could prove an extensive one, but I'll try to narrow it down:

"Hancock" -- Great idea ruined by dime-store philosophy and silly mythology.

"Dreamgirls" -- Bill Condon was so preoccupied with those act-two rewrites that he failed to address the act-one deficiencies that have always plagued the musical.

"Benjamin Button" -- A beautiful-looking film about absolutely nothing. We know just as little about the title character at the end as we did at the beginning.

Paul Outlaw said...

Interview with the Vampire, so horribly miscast across the board (with the possible exception of Dunst). But otherwise a mess. If Pitt and Cruise had switched roles, it would made a lot more sense, but I probably would have hated it anyway.

And let's just pretend Queen of the Damned never existed, even though Townsend would have made a great vampire in the right movie.

Anonymous said...

1.FANTASTIC 4
2.STAR WARS (EPS. I, II & III)
3.DOUBT
4.STARDUST
5.NINE
6.THE DA VINCI CODE
7.CHERI
8.THE LOVELY BONES
9.X-MEN 3
10.EVENING

Bill_the_Bear said...

"Up in the Air" was, for me, the biggest letdown of recent years.

It needed a script rewrite to make the Clooney character not so domestic-minded in the last half, and definitely NOT a stalker. (It shouldn't have had the wedding/hometown scenes at all; end the film with him on the way to the wedding, as the book did.)

It needed a director who could have gotten a little more oomph out of Clooney's acting; much of the time, it was as if he were sleepwalking through the role.

It needed to get Anna Kendrick out, and some other and better young actress in the "know-it-all" role. (Ellen Page, I think, would have been a more interesting choice.)

It actually needed a bit more Jason Bateman as the boss, who was much better in that role than he usually is.

On the other hand, Vera Farmiga was nearly perfect...all you'd need to do with her was to keep her home life out of the film, leaving the affair with Clooney only on the road.

Undead Poet's Society said...

His Dark Materials:The Golden Compass. There was an epic thought-provoking fantasy somewhere in there, Chris Weitz just couldn't find it and turned it into a soulless kid's movie with a tacked on happy ending. Art direction was spot-on though.

Atonement, even though most of its narrative flaws were just carried over from the novel.

The Road, the tone just felt off from the book.

I thought Stardust was perfect.

Josh said...

Oh. Another one to include would be I Am Legend. I thought that was a terrific movie up until the ridiculously bad monster effects and ending. Keep the first 80% of the movie the same, have good creature effects (maybe use actors in make-up instead of computers) and dump the Alice Braga character showing up for a better ending and that could have been a fantastic action movie with a good Will Smith performance.

Hayden said...

Evening. Worst cast to story ratio ever.

Hellephant said...

More thought might yield a different result, but because re-watching it is so fresh in my mind, I have to go with "Dune." I'm a *huge* Lynch fanatic, owning most of his DVDs and books by and about him, so I decided to give "Dune" -- which I hadn't seen in probably 15 years and had more or less dismissed -- another go. I found it to be a completely frustrating experience, not because it was just a terrible, unsalvageable wreck, but because the elements that were most "Lynch-y" would have made for a fantastic non-narrative short, such as the blood artfully spattered on the row of purple (I think?) flowers and the wall behind them, Sting's character maniacally, red-faced, vein-popping-ly cackling a la Leland/Bob from a low-angle in a vision sequence, and the "Eraserhead"-baby-evoking, vagina-mouthed, disturbingly vestigial-armed monstrosity in the giant aquarium.

James T said...

I'm going ahead and say it.

I liked Bacall in "To Have And Have Not" but I was asking for more from her perormance. I was so angry with that little dancing at the end. If only it was a little better.

My opinion, any way :p

Christine said...

"From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler" of "Harriet the Spy" or "Nancy Drew",
because there are never good girl-book film adaptations. In the few film adaptations there are, everyone is just too plucky.

Derreck said...

Wow. All of my choices were taken.

Nine - Marshall and his 'it's all in his head' stuff. NK's 'Unusual Way' suffered the most with the concept and the cuts.

The Golden Compass - I hate how they caved in to the pressure and diluted the movie and cut the ending of the book.

X-Men series: Angela Bassett was pretty much made to play Storm. Come on. Casting was almost flawless otherwise though.

Quantum of Solace: Quite possibly the most boring Bond Girls i've ever seen. Plus, he was more like Jason Bourne instead of James Bond. Casino Royale was excellent and exploring Bond's quest for revenge was a good decision. It just didn't come through in the final product.
X-Men 3 - Singer would have done so much better.

Alison Flynn said...

Agree 100% with cal roth: Major missed opportunity? Sweeney Todd. They should have hired real singers or cut the whole musical thing (the story would still work without the songs, like Wilder's Irma La Douce).

Thank you! I'm always glad to find people like you and Nat who agree with me on this point. The actors that Burton cast are wonderful actors but they're not singers. This movie wasn't bad - but I think it would have truly achieved the level of "masterpiece" had they used great actors who were also real singers and who could truly do justice to that incredible score.

Also, I just saw Iron Man 2 over the weekend (I love RDJ, so I was seeing it even if it was the worst movie in the world). It was entertaining and I enjoyed it but I really think there was a better movie in there somewhere. The flaw for me seemed to be Favreau's caving in to studio pressure to sell, sell, sell the Avengers movie.

John T said...

From the obvious, Alice in Wonderland. It should have been made several years ago with Dakota Fanning and directed by David Lynch.

As for a classic, can I have The Magnificent Ambersons and A Star is Born with the original cut? That's change enough.

badmotherfucker said...

It's always bothered me that Quentin Tarantino couldn't edit the Kill Bill films together. Vol. 2 is such a drag to watch. And while we're on Tarantino, Death Proof would be much better sans the first 30 minutes of that film.

Also, I still haven't made it through The Third Man because of that damn zither!

Chris Na Taraja said...

I was really disappointed with THE GOLDEN COMPASS it could have been so much more, more gritty, more compelling...and a lot less Disneyfied. Actually, I felt the same way about THE LION THE WITCH AND THE WORDROBE.

I loved PAN'S LABRYINTH, but I think i would cut out the overly graphic violence. So much better to see blood splatter then to actually see someone shot in the head.

And BEWITCHED could have been something really fun, but no!

Volvagia said...

Agree on the Zither as a slight annoyance at first in The Third Man. However, on reflection it does actually work, especially considering they didn't have the electric guitar yet, an instrument that lended similar, but less annoying, emotional boosting music to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Sweeney Todd, its Helena Bonham Carter's birthday today =)

I actually like Burton's adaptation, but agree about most other musical-to movie translations being dreadful.

NATHANIEL R said...

@MattyD -- Lynne Ramsay's THE LOVELY BONES would have been just about as different from Jacksons as two films can be. I think the only similarity might have been the title!

@Marsha -- ooh, yeah. why not. a stage motif for something that's absolutely a stage show. I can't express how much better DOUBT the play was than DOUBT the movie.

@The Man -- agreed on Synecdoche.

@mrripley -- interesting choice because MARY REILLY was really an interesting concept. but somehow it didn't work at all. I imagine this is what that buzzy script for what turned into the new ROBIN HOOD was like too. Fresh angle but then somehow ruined in the making.

@Paul -- so many good ideas in this comment field. I'd recast that film too. in almost every role. i actually wish someone would remake it.

@badmotherfucker -- yeah. KBvol 2 does feel like a ton of filler. and while i love love love Vol. 1, i could see trimming it a bit to shove KBvol. 2 into its running time.

seasondays said...

the HARRY POTTERs

they had great material, but they settle for good [maybe very good]

style trumps substance, and is more a corporate version than a saga done from a writer and director's perspective

Wild Celtic said...

@ John T - "Alice in Wonderland. It should have been made several years ago with Dakota Fanning"

That would have been brilliant!!!

Ryan T. said...

State of Play

It was one of the most disappointing movies of last year for me just because they took everything AWESOME from the brilliant British miniseries it was based on and cut them out! Plus Russell Crowe was miscast and the whole thing was just dull.

Drew said...

I have to go with something I recently wrote about because it's so fresh in my memory, and that would be Robert Altman's Quintet. It really does have a lot going for it: excellent cast, interesting premise, and a fascinating, intricately detailed set design. But it becomes massively hampered by Altman's indulgent visual gimmicks, and the screenplay has some real pacing problems. It all adds up to a giant failed experiment, an interesting one, but quite far from the work of staunch visionary genius it could have been.

Anthony said...

"Funny People," minus the last half-hour.

Volvagia said...

Interview with the Vampire? I think there was only one minor problem: Tom Cruise. Other than that, nothing. Dunst was best in show, but Slater and Banderas were good at least. Who to switch for Lestat? Wait. I've got it. Switch Slater and Tom Cruise if anything.

bbats said...

ROBIN HOOD! There biggest misstep was not making it anything like any Robin Hood stories. And Cate Blanchett (Thats right, she is AWFUL in it. Ugh!)

Andreas said...

The first recent movie that jumps to mind is A Scanner Darkly. I loved the rotoscoping, the trippy, well-realized Philip K. Dick world, and the antics of Downey, Harrelson, Ryder, and especially Rory Cochrane. But NO, instead we have to focus on the confusion and redemption of Keanu "Whoa" Reeves.

Why not just cut Keanu out and make it a sci-fi version of Slacker?

And @badmotherfucker: this is probably a debate that will rage forever, but remove the zither and The Third Man becomes instantly 50% less droll.

PoliVamp said...

Sweeney Todd. Currently, it is a good movie. Get some people who can sing and it would be a masterpiece.aho

PoliVamp said...

Hehe, people already made my point about Sweeney Todd (this is why I should read first, but eh). So I'll throw in another.

Darkness, a crappy horror film from a couple years ago starring Anna Paquin and Lena Olin. Could have been amazing, but they had no idea what they were going for. Definitely needed a rewrite on that script. Or one less rewrite. That could have been the problem.

Beau said...

'Rent'. With Scorsese, it would have been a masterpiece.

NATHANIEL R said...

beau -- and i had forgotten that. Curse you for reminding me! ;)

seasondays -- am inclined to agree. lot of settling for moneymaking and stopping short of really going for magic and classic movies

Arkaan said...

Sunshine. I love the movie, but 30 extra minutes of character development, one less plot twist, and Tarkovsky would make this a masterpiece for the all time lists.

Alex said...

I actually adore Burton's "Sweeney Todd." It was my #1 of 2007 and after a recent viewing I stand by it. Helena Bonham Carter actually gives my favorite performance in the film. I think because of the story, their lack of singing ability sometimes comes across as desperation in their voices...but maybe that's just me. Still, I can't help thinking what that film would've been with Emma Thompson as Mrs. Lovett.

I think I'd throw "Proof" out there. I love the performances, Anthony Hopkins and Hope Davis in particular, but coming from such a great play, there was so much potential.

Walter L. Hollmann said...

Couldn't think of one, but then my best friend just showed me Hook. My first time, his first time since he was a child. Now *that's* a missed opportunity. Fantastic ideas going on here -- Hook using Peter's son against him, Tinkerbell's unrequited love, the whole growing up thing that's par for the course with Peter Pan stories -- but no one knows what to do with it! Tonally, it's a mess, and the script sacrifices the larger, more "adult" themes for food fights, namecalling contests, and fat jokes. It's also yet another case of a director allowing Dustin Hoffman and his scene partner (Bob Hoskins in this case) to riff unintelligibly and without saying anything of consequence. So many things could have been done here thematically, but all sacrificed so they could make a kid's movie. But then, why keep all those other elements? Why keep the death scene at the end that is quickly glossed over? Mind-boggling and irritating. Thank God for that Peter Pan movie with Jason Isaacs.

Laika said...

The Prestige, minus Scarlett Johanssen's awkward performance, would be a masterpiece. Put Emily Blunt in the role and see what transpires.

Henry said...

Public Enemies. Right pieces in place, but the execution was off.

Kyle said...

I would have liked to have seen what Mark Romanek would have done with The Wolfman...perhaps there was no saving that script, but Joe Johnston was not a step in the right direction for what might be the worst movie I've seen this year short of Daybreakers.

adri said...

"Stranger Than Fiction" was so imaginative -if only it didn't have Will Farrell in the lead! Mark Ruffalo or Danny Huston, maybe.

"While You Were Sleeping" was a sweet classic, but wasn't there anyone more attractive than Bill Pullman that they could hire?

Yes, Colin Firth was great as Mr. Darcy but Jennifer Erhle is a self-satisfied pill. I want to squash her smug face in every time I see her.

Nancy Meyer's "The Holiday" would be more satisfying fluff if she had a decent romantic couple in it. The English sibs are great (Kate Winslet and Jude Law) but the American actors are awful (Cameron Diaz and Jack Black). Could we have had Reese Witherspoon and Adrien Brody instead? (Diaz could have made "4 Christmases").

I would have liked to have seen Anjelica Huston and Clint Eastwood as the lovers in "The Bridges of Madison County". Or Isabella Rossellini.

And of course, the worst: "Harry Potter". Harry is played by a plodding pedestrian middle-brow actor, where he should be like the young Christian Bale in "The Empire of the Sun". Brilliant, original, unpredictable, artistic. That's what makes the story - that Harry has so much innate talent but you don't know which way it will go.

Isabel Archer said...

The Golden Compass (Northern Lights)

I really like the books, specially the last two, but I think they missed the opportunity doing a childish adaptation. In the book there is actually more action, cruelty, credibility and methapyisics.
The cast was great, but not the tone, the director or the adapted screenplay.
I wish someone do a real adaptation of the trilogy (with Nicole please). =)

Isabel Archer said...

Oh, and I forgot of The DaVinci Code, terrible adaptation (I didn't see Angels and Demons for that).
And the Harry Potter's too, no so terribles but dissapointings (except for the third one).

Peter said...

The Godfather Part III, obviously. Get Winona Ryder in there for Sofia Coppola, and don't rush the production to be ready for Oscar season.

Cluster Funk said...

I know this is a little niche, but 'Smilla's Sense of Snow,' which was a great book.

'Six Days, Seven Nights' is a sentimental choice. (I used to live in Tahiti.) It could've been so-o-o delightful if they had invested in a better script -- and a stronger supporting cast. (Anne Heche and Harrison Ford had terrific chemistry!)

And finally, 'The Great Gatsby' should've been a winner but, as much as I love Mia, was miscast and poorly directed.