If there is one thing Hollywood knows, is how to make a great trailer. With a little movie magic, they can make even the worst of movies look great in previews. However, with ticket prices on the rise and our time becoming more and more valuable, it is important to be able to recognize some of the warning signs that will let you know if the movie will be a blockbuster or a flop.
Like all rules, some of these have exceptions. Also, because your tastes may differ from my own, you may completely disagree with one or all of my rules. However, these are the rules I go by to tell if a movie is going to suck.
1. Remake of a Classic Movie
Examples: Planet of the Apes. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and The Day the Earth Stood Still
There are some movies which have not only performed well, but have withstood the test of time to become classics. These movies should be considered untouchable by modern film makers. Yet, because Hollywood is always looking to rebuild over forging ahead,even the most classic of films are subject to remake attempts. Although good remakes are not entirely impossible to make, far too often the remaking of a classic film loses all the vintage charm and magic
2. Star Wars Movies Post 1983
Examples: The Phantom Menace, Revenge of the Sith, and Attack of the Clones
Of all my rules, this will be the one that I'm sure that will draw the most ire. The new trilogy of Star Wars movies divided the fans as much as it drew new fans. Some loved it, some hated it and as you might have guessed, I fall into the latter category. The Star Wars franchise is a good example of what happens when a director forgets that he is supposed to be entertaining with his vision for a movie. I could go at length about how Anakin's transformation into one of cinema’s most iconic villains was terrible. But, I think the ending of the third movie says it all. Padmé dies because she lost the will to live following Anakin's betrayal of the Jedi Counsel. Lost the will to live? I wasn't aware Lucas was having grade school students write his scripts for him. Seeing that makes me lose the will to have anything to do with a Star Wars movie.
3. Third or Higher Movie in a Series
Examples: Matrix Revolutions, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and Superman III
Long series of movies are a bit of a trap when it comes to quality. There is only so much that can be done with a set of characters before the well of ideas runs dry. One option is to make a major change to the setting or characters to allow the series to contuine. However, what was good about the original movie may be lost with this change. One moment your favorite character may be cool, having adventures and finding lost artifacts. Then suddenly, he is in a fridge to protect himself from a nuke. Your only hope is that thousands of those little annoying CGI prairie dogs died in the blast. If so, the movie may just have been worth it.
4. Video Game Movies
Examples: Super Mario Brothers, Bloodrayne, Double Dragon
You may be wondering why I just chose to blind you with that previous picture. That is because being blinded by a rather hideous Mario and Luigi is preferable to watching a movie about them. Saying video game movies have a rough track record is being kind. While there have been some decent ones, this sub-genre is made up of some of the worst movies I've seen. So, why are they still being made? Because fans who are devoted to the franchises the movies are based on rush out to see their favorite characters on the silver screen without giving thought that the movie may suck.
5. M. Night Shyamalan Movies Post Unbreakable
At first, I wanted to cover Uwe Boll in this spot. But, most people know that his movies are utter crap. M. Night Shamalan on the other hand has been releasing movies worse than his last for sometime now. It is a shame really, I loved The Sixth Sense. However, he has fallen into the trap George Lucas fell into. He is overly cocky about his vision and cares very little about entertaining movie goers. Take for example one of his latest works, The Last Airbender. This movie is based on an American Cartoon with influences of anime and Eastern culture. Because of this, he changes the pronunciation of almost all the major characters. Then, he changes the magic, bending, in the world to be a mockery of what it was in the cartoon series. Finally, all the actors were about as compelling as a cardboard cutout. In the end, it wasn't so much a retelling of the first season of the cartoon. But, more of a recollection of it by someone who had recently sustained a head injury.
6. The Movie is in 3D or Converted for 3D
Examples: The Nightmare Before Christmas (3d Re-release), Jaws 3D, Clash of the Titans
Perhaps this is just personal bias, but I have a deep, burning hatred for the over reliance on 3D in recent movies. It's a bit like motion control in gaming, it is a shiny wrapping that allows the creator to get away with a substandard product. What's even worse than this over reliance on 3D as a crutch for creativity, is that some film makers feel as if they have to cash in on 3D to make their movie successful. For example, Clash of the Titans was a converted movie. Granted, it wasn't that great to begin with, but with a poor conversion to 3D it became even worse. Maybe once film makers outside of Pixar do something meaningful with 3D and stop using it to make things fly out of the screen, it will come off the list.
7. Talking Animal Movies
Examples: Garfield, Marmaduke, Underdog, and Alvin & the Chipmunks
Talking animal movies are generally considered to be a children's genre. This is for a good reason as most of the recent releases are so terrible that no sane adult would willingly watch them without their child anchoring them to the seat. So I plainly tend to discredit talking animal movies until disproved.
8. Spoof Movies
Examples: Meet the Spartans, Disaster Movie, and Date Movie
Satire is a very tricky thing to do well. There is a great difference between being funny with your own creations and being funny with others' creations or ideas. It is finding that balance of making a serious scene or movie just silly enough to be funny while still reflecting the original tone that is a great difficulty. Also, it seems as if spoof movies attract B-List actors like flies to dung. Let's face it, a great majority of the actors who star in these movies shouldn't yet be in the limelight. Bad scripts and bad acting makes for a genre of movie which should be avoided at all costs.