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40 Films That Should Have Been Awesome

Hulk (2003)

The Movie: Ang Lee deserves praise for attempting to approach a comic-book movie as a character study, but the finished article falls awkwardly between two stools. On the one hand it falls short in its examination of the human side of Bruce Banner’s split-personality, and on the other, it’s not nearly entertaining enough to keep the multiplex crowd from growing restless. A valiant effort, but a flawed one.

What They Should Have Done:
More action was called for, with Hulk only going into full-on smash mode in the final act. At nearly two and a half hours long, that’s making a big ask of even the most patient audience.

I Am Legend (2007)

The Movie: Francis Lawrence’s adaptation of Richard Matheson’s novel is genuinely frightening for the first hour or so… and then the vampires come out to play. And it all goes downhill from there.

What They Should Have Done: They should have continued playing to the film’s strengths, showing Will Smith’s mental decline whilst keeping his blood-sucking aggressors cloaked in darkness for as long as possible. And they also should have stuck to the ending of the book. This was so nearly great…

AVP: Alien vs Predator (2004)

The Movie: Paul W.S. Anderson pits two of cinema’s most venerated beasties against each other, but ends up with a damp squib of a face-off that covers neither combatant in glory.

What They Should Have Done:
The movie’s main attraction is the clash between the titular creatures, so if that doesn’t deliver, you’ve had it. Surely we could have been treated to something better than two blokes staggering around in prosthetics, struggling to maintain their balance let alone serve each other with an arse-kicking? Poor.

Troy (2004)

The Movie: Wolfgang Petersen’s swords-and-sandals epic looks undeniably lovely, but is sadly a case of style over substance, with a leaden script and strangely emotionless battle scenes.

What They Should Have Done: Brad Pitt is the film’s biggest draw, and yet he’s given little more to do than look surly and buff. Indeed, none of the major players are presented as much more than well-toned archetypes, which is why the whole thing feels so bloodless, despite the carnage on show.

Public Enemies (2009)

The Movie: Johnny Depp is John Dillinger in this gorgeous-looking, but ultimately underwhelming crime biopic. Michael Mann brings his usual hyper-realistic style to bear on proceedings, but the characters are given very little depth at all, to the point that when the credits roll, the audience is none the wiser about Dillinger the man than they were at the beginning. Slick then, but ultimately unsatisfying.

What They Should Have Done:
We’re not suggesting that Depp and Christian Bale should have been wise-cracking their way through proceedings, but both are so dour that it becomes difficult to empathise with either. A little more heart would have gone a long way.

Planet Of The Apes (2001)

The Movie: Tim Burton updates the apes with some fantastic make-up, but a tediously plodding plot and an ending that makes no sense whatsoever. Boooo!

What They Should Have Done:
Instead of embarking upon an inferior retread of the original film, Burton should have taken the series in an entirely new direction. Much like Rupert Wyatt did in fact…

Resident Evil (2002)

The Movie: Paul W.S. Anderson adapts the frequently terrifying video game series, but forgets to bring the creeping sense of terror along for the ride. Milla Jovovich makes for a sexy heroine, but if it’s suspense you’re after, you’re better off sticking to the games.

What They Should Have Done:
George Romero was initially slated to direct Capcom’s zombie-fest. That would have been a much better idea.

Quantum Of Solace (2008)

The Movie: Daniel Craig’s second outing as Bond is no disaster, but feels like a significant step backwards after the breath of fresh air that was Casino Royale . Chief offence? The lack of a decent villain. In a Bond film, that’s pretty unforgiveable…

What They Should Have Done: In retrospect, the decision to continue exactly where Casino Royale left off may have been a mistake, the film coming off like a second-rate sequel rather than an engaging adventure in its own right. And a better villain would have made the world of difference.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)

The Movie: Steven Spielberg returns to go round two with his island of giant lizards, only this time, all the wonder and fantasy of the original has been replaced with identikit action movie bluster. Entertaining in its way, but not a patch on its forebear.

What They Should Have Done: If Jeff Goldblum’s Ian Malcolm was to be retained, a new straight-man should have been brought in to replace Sam Neill. Instead, Goldblum is shunted into the conventional hero role, thus negating all of the charm that his character had previously possessed. Whilst the first film had a simple survival-centric plot, this one clutters proceedings with a clumsy ecologist vs. military men sub-plot that should have been done away with altogether.

Waterworld (1995)

The Movie: A great concept (a world in which dry land is all but extinct) sunk by a combination of weight of expectation and a cast of wafer-thin characters. Chief among these is Kevin Costner’s unsmiling Mariner, who seems to be trying his level best to deprive the audience of anything resembling conventional heroism.

What They Should Have Done: The decision to write Costner's character as such an irredeemably dour old git is the film’s major flaw. Take him out of the equation, and it’s a surprisingly functional adventure. A bit of charisma in the leading role, and that abominable albatross of reputation might never have landed around its neck…

George Wales
George is GR's resident movie news person, based out of London. He understands that all men must die, but he'd rather not think about it.