Miami Vice (2006)
The Movie: Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx are Crockett and Tubbs in this big-screen adaptation of the popular ’80s TV show. The pastel suits might not be much of a loss, but the sense of fun is a big miss…
What They Should Have Done: Giving Farrell and Foxx license to crack a smile just once would have made this one a much easier watch. If Michael Mann had wanted to produce a gritty, realistic crime film, then why bother adopting the Miami Vice name at all? What should have been slick and pulse-quickening ended up po-faced, with Crockett and Tubbs eschewing all buddy-cop mateyness in favour of icy detachment and grim-faced determination. Odd.
The Matrix: Revolutions (2003)
The Movie: The spectacular sci-fi franchise collapses under the weight of its increasingly complex plot, with all the excitement of the first film (and to a lesser extent, the second) lost in a series of overblown battle scenes.
What They Should Have Done: The success of the first film rested upon Neo’s journey, alongside key supporting players Morpheus and Trinity. However, the battle for Zion is given far too much space in this grand finale, with the focus on individual characters lost amid the rush to blow some more shit up. Zion should have remained firmly in the background, with the three key characters given more to work with than the disparate plot-lines they were eventually allotted.
The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
The Movie: A drearily dumbed-down adaptation of the Alan Moore comic-book, in which the steampunk cool of the original was replaced by a scenery-chewing Sean Connery and a slew of half-baked CGI.
What They Should Have Done: In the graphic novels, the lead character is a recovering opium addict. Had this kind of gritty approach been channelled onto the big screen, we might have had a subversive take on the traditional superhero movie, with the usual protagonists replaced by a cast of self-doubting figures from literature. Instead, we got one-liners and badass super-men. Great.
The Beach (2000)
The Movie: Leo Di Caprio heads up this vapid adaptation of Alex Garland’s seminal tale of paradise lost. Perfectly functional for those who’ve not read the book, but low on thrills with a terrible cop-out ending.
What They Should Have Done: Di Caprio is far too chiselled in the lead role, whilst Virginie Ledoyen is pretty but wooden as Francoise. However, the film’s biggest failing is in it’s refusal to recreate the creeping dread of the novel, most notably in its toned down ending. And that godawful videogame sequence should never have seen the light of day…
Superman 3 (1981)
The Movie: Richard Donner initially filmed around 75% of Superman 2 at the same time as he shot the first film. However, Richard Lester was brought in by the studio to “improve” the film, which roughly translated to, “add some shitty slapstick humour whenever it seems least appropriate.” With Superman 3 , that problem was increased beyond measure…
What They Should Have Done: They should have left Donner to get on with it and kept Lester well away from the franchise. Simple as that.
Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows (2010 / 2011)
The Movie: Split into two halves, the first part of The Deathly Hallows suffers from an unnatural lack of narrative focus, whilst the second reaps the benefits of only having the final battle to focus upon. But there was another way…
What They Should Have Done: One film, three hours plus running time. We can totally understand why Warner decided to split the final book (hint: money), and neither film is poor by any standard. However, the events of the first film could arguably have been condensed into an hour or so (the Horcrux-hunting section is ponderous both on the page and the screen), to form the opening section of one long finale. It could even have stretched to three and a half hours, and people would still have watched it.
The Movie: Japan’s biggest nemesis goes on holiday to New York to smash some new stuff and scare the living shit out of Matthew Broderick. Somehow, this fails to entertain anyone.
What They Should Have Done: Write some three-dimensional characters. Even two-dimensional would do. Basically, Godzilla is almost entirely plot-free. It’s just a giant lizard smashing up Manhattan. That would be fine, if there were some likeable characters to engage with along the way. If you don’t care who lives or dies, then the action becomes tedious pretty quickly…
Die Hard 4.0 (2007)
The Movie: Bruce Willis digs out the filthy vest for one more go-around as John McClane. Sadly, a PG-13 rating, irritating sidekick and naff cyber-terrorism plot meant he probably shouldn’t have bothered.
What They Should Have Done: The PG decision should never have been made, as it instantly distances this instalment from the rest of the rough and ready series. And while Samuel L. Jackson might have been an acceptable sidekick, Justin Long most certainly isn’t. McClane is best as a lone wolf, and that’s how he should have operated here. Finally, a proper villain was badly needed. With respect, Timothy Olyphant is no Alan Rickman.
Be Cool (2005)
The Movie: The sequel to Get Shorty , that eschews the wry comedy of that film in favour of broad “gags” involving The Rock putting on a camp accent.
What They Should Have Done: Bear with us on this one, because although it looks an odd choice, Be Cool really should have been great. It’s based on a supremely entertaining story by Elmore Leonard, it retained John Travolta from the excellent Get Shorty , and the multi-faceted storyline was tailor-made for adaptation. However, F Gary Gray is not Barry Sonnenfeld, and seems to think that a whip-smart script is no substitute for a cast of famous faces. Nowhere near as sharp as the source material had us hoping for.
Iron Man 2 (2010)
The Movie: Jon Favreau’s super sequel fails to recapture the magic of the first outing, with a ho-hum storyline that often feels like little more than a trailer for The Avengers .
What They Should Have Done: Lovely as she is, Scarlett Johansson adds little to proceedings, whereas Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts (key to the touching nearly-romance of the first film) is criminally under-used. The film could do with about thirty minutes worth of trimming, and Mickey Rourke should have been given way more screen time.