Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow (2004)
The Movie: An incredibly hyped fantasy adventure, boasting an A-list cast and some truly jaw-dropping visuals? What could possibly go wrong? The lack of a coherent plot? Yep, that’ll do it.
What They Should Have Done: It might have been an idea to write a script that included a strong narrative, rather than simply cobbling together a series of set-pieces in the hope that audiences would be too distracted to realise they didn’t give two shits about any of the characters.
Alien Resurrection (1997)
The Movie: Hit by chronic budget restrictions, Joss Whedon’s spectacular plans for the series finale were dialled down so much, that the final film was nigh-on unrecognisable from the script he initially penned. As Whedon puts it himself, “I don't remember writing, 'A withered, granny-lookin' Pumkinhead-kinda-thing makes out with Ripley.' Pretty sure that stage direction never existed in any of my drafts.”
What They Should Have Done: Ploughed some more money into it and stumped up for the big bad as described in Whedon’s original script: “An alien, to be sure, but nothing we've seen so far, its forelegs arch out of its back like spiders legs, its back legs set on enormous haunches, thick and powerful. Its head is long, eyeless, like the others, but along its white expanse red veins, coming out of the skin and running like thick black hairs to the back. It has retracted pincers at the side of head that come out when its tongue does. It's much bigger than the others, nearly the size of the queen herself. And it's bone white.”
Robin Hood (2010)
The Movie: A ponderous, ill-tempered movie hamstrung by a ponderous, ill-tempered performance from its leading man. We hoped for a blood and thunder reunion between Gladiator collaborators Ridley and Russ. What we ended up with was a turgid, bum-numbing yawnfest.
What They Should Have Done: We weren’t expecting a return to the high camp of Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves , but the audience might still have been allowed to have a little fun! Confining the origin story to the first half an hour would have helped, as would a plausible accent from Mr. Crowe…
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (2005)
The Movie: On paper, setting Tim Burton loose on Roald Dahl’s fantasy land was an inspired idea. Casting Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka also seemed a good fit, but sadly, his off-beam performance captured all the weird but none of the heart of Dahl’s eccentric confectioner.
What They Should Have Done: Depp’s Wonka is a thoroughly off-putting creation. Sure, you want to maintain some of the book’s creepiness, but turning Wonka into a gibbering man-child was surely a step too far. Had Depp brought some of that Captain Jack twinkle to bear, this could have been brilliant. Instead, it’s just irritating.
Van Helsing (2004)
The Movie: Hugh Jackman’s famed vampire slayer goes head to head with Richard Roxburgh’s villainous Count Dracula. As well as the Wolfman. And Frankenstein’s Monster. All in a day’s work…
What They Should Have Done: This could have been a thrilling monster movie had director Stephen Sommers managed to dispose of some of the superfluous beasties and focused in on the central plot of vampire vs. vampire slayer. In the end, all we were left with an overblown mess. Pity.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
The Movie: Angelina Jolie does her best to enliven this plodding adventure, but somehow, scrabbling around for ancient artefacts seemed a lot more fun on the Playstation than it did on the big screen. In a word, dull.
What They Should Have Done: Casting Jolie was half the battle won, with Angie having the body and attitude to make for a perfect Lara Croft. Sadly, Ian Glen’s limp villain is a vastly inadequate foil, whilst the plot can’t match the energy of its pneumatic heroine. More work on the script, and the franchise might have lasted longer than two films.
Spider-Man 3 (2007)
The Movie: Sam Raimi bites off more than he can chew by trying to cram not one, not two, but three iconic villains into his final Spider-Man outing. The result is an incoherent hotchpotch of web-slinging nonsense, complete with the least convincing heel-turn you’ll ever witness on the big screen.
What They Should Have Done: They should have dispensed with at least one of the villains, if not two. Thomas Haden Church is engaging as Sandman, but adds little to the plot, whilst the Venom storyline is very much treated as an afterthought. Both of those should have been cut in order to place the spotlight on James Franco’s gradual acceptance of his father’s villainous mantle. That was the arc the trilogy had been developing all along, so why give up on it now?
Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004)
The Movie: Quentin Tarantino’s revenge saga kicks off in spectacular style in the kinetic first instalment, only to lose all momentum in the ponderous, dialogue-heavy continuation. Should the two films have been split at all?
What They Should Have Done: We’ll answer that for you: no. The first film is all action, the second, all exposition. Had an hour been trimmed of part two, and 30 minutes or so been cut from part one, we could have had a masterpiece on our hands. And we still feel like the final battle was a little underwhelming…
Indiana Jones & The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull (2008)
The Movie: Nuking the fridge. Swinging with monkeys. Swarms of CGI ants. Ray Winstone shouting. Aliens. Ring any bells?
What They Should Have Done: Whilst many believed the trilogy should have been left well alone, a fourth Indy wasn’t necessarily a bad idea. Nor were Harrison Ford’s creaking limbs the reason Crystal Skull sucked so badly. Had the final reveal not been quite so shit, and the CGI not quite so frequent, this could still have worked (albeit with all of the aforementioned bum notes written out). However, somebody let George Lucas bring aliens to the table, and the whole endeavour ended up in the toilet.
The League Of Gentlemen's Apocalypse (2005)
The Movie: A disappointingly subdued slog of a movie, in which an interesting premise (fictional characters cross over into the real world to save themselves from being written out) was hamstrung by a dearth of gags and some poorly chosen characters. A brilliant TV show that couldn’t quite translate to the big screen.
What They Should Have Done: Sadly, most of the series’ best-loved characters (Papa Lazarou, Tubbs and Edward) are shunted to the sidelines here, rather than being given the spotlight they so richly deserve. On top of that, the characters who do take the lead are bizarrely miscast. For example, Hillary Briss is a nightmarish creation in the TV show, but in the film he’s cast as leading man material. Not half as macabre as it should have been…