Most of the time, when you watch a bad movie, you're at a loss for what you would do differently. Burn it. You think to yourself when thinking about how you would fix it. But every once in a while, a bad film is close to being great. It just needs a minor tweak here or there. Somewhere along the line, an actor, another director, or a fan looked at the film and said, this is how to make this film fantastic. So, we've gone out and collected some of the best changes put forth. Each of these changes could be done very easily, and each would make considerable differences in their films. Although most changes we selected altered the films as a whole, some simply changed one scene. In these cases, the scene that was changed is one that fans have picked on endlessly, so the impact is still massive. These scenes were so distracting that they altered the response of the entire film.
Now, even though we've called these films "awful," not all of them are really that bad. All of them had major issues and many film fans consider them terrible, but we actually don’t mind a few of the entries on this list. That being said, we agree that with only small changes the films become considerably better. These are the types of changes that the filmmakers have likely seen or heard about and kicked themselves for not thinking of them themselves. It's amazing how such small tweaks can make such big differences. Here are 15 Awful Films That Could Have Been Brilliant With One Small Change.
It's possible that you've heard of or seen the rearranged version of The Passengers online. There's been a lot of discussion about this film and the misdirection it had. Although the film played out as a schmaltzy love story, a number of critics and many fans saw Chris Pratt's character as a total creep. He was one. So, people got to thinking about how the story would change if it were a horror movie. Hell, it almost was one unintentionally. It was just parading around as something else. The change could almost all be done in post-production too. Instead of having the film start by letting us get to know Pratt's character intimately, instead of him being the main character, they should have started it with Jennifer Lawrence's character waking up. We should have seen the events through her eyes. Like her, we don't know how she woke up. There's a mystery here. There's horror. There's genuine shock when we discover that it was the creep who woke her up.
14 Men in Black III
The proposed change for Men in Black III is very small. In that film, you'll remember that the bad guy goes back in time and kills K (Tommy Lee Jones). This alters the present day and it's up to J (Will Smith) to fix everything. He then goes back in time to save K from being killed and save the world. We learn in the final cut that J's father actually helped save K and that K was looking out for him his whole life. It's sweet, but since we didn't know or give a rat's behind about J's father before that, we didn't care when he died. What if you made it so that when J went back in time, K's partner was actually J's father? Now, this won't be revealed until after the father's death, but it allows for them to build up his character. It allows us to get invested in the father. When, in the end, J's father sacrifices his life to save K, we feel it. We feel it more when the man is revealed to be J's father. We feel it even more when we realize that the reason K is so grumpy and sour is because he misses his partner and feels responsible for his death
13 I Am Legend
I Am Legend is a film that has been criticized in detail ever since it came out. The issue is that the film, which is an adaptation of the very influential Richard Matheson novel of the same name, strayed from the source material. Rather than improve upon the book where it made changes, the film was considerably worse. Is it awful? No, but the ending is and that’s what changed. All that was needed to make this film infinitely better was to stay closer to the book's ending. Rather than have the hero blow up everything, including himself, in order to save the cure and be the savior of humanity, the ending was meant to be bleaker. In this case, bleaker is better. What's even worse is that they shot an additional ending that was closer to the book and much better. This would have shown the protagonist realizing that the Darkseekers were only trying to save the Darkseeker that he had been testing on. The hero then clues in that these zombie things have some humanity left in them. This also causes him to realize that while the Darkseekers seem like monsters, he has been a monster to them.
12 For Love Of The Game
You know the baseball movie with Kevin Costner? No, not the one with the cornfield; the one where he's an aging veteran. Nope, now you're probably thinking about Bull Durham. We're talking about For Love of the Game here, the worst of the three. The one where Costner's character pitches perfect game before the end of his career. Alright, well, this movie stunk. It was so sappy and predictable and just utterly Hollywood-esque. There were no surprises and no message. Instead of being about, you know, "love of the game," this film tried to parallel the guy's love of his wife. Hell, he was so consumed by his thoughts that he is oblivious to the fact that he's throwing a perfect game until the 8th inning. Just shut up. One Reddit fan argues that what they should have done was make the movie about the love of the game. Not a bad idea. Instead of him flashing back to memories of his love life, make it about his time in baseball. He could be reflecting back on moments in his career that would aid him in his current situation. He also shouldn't have thrown a perfect game. He should have it broken up by a rookie at the end of the game. He could have remembered back to when he was a rookie during this at-bat. This could have hammered home the concept of the character coming to terms with the end of his career, but showing how baseball is cyclical as well.
11 Pacific Rim
Even though you could easily argue that Mako was, in fact, the true protagonist of Pacific Rim, the character of Raleigh has too big of a massive role. This is our biggest gripe. We don't even really need him. His struggle is so secondary to Mako's that the audience never really cares about him and, by introducing him first, our attention is split. If the film began with Mako's beginning, that of her as a helpless and crying child being saved by a Jaeger during a Kaiju attack, we would immediately connect with her. In reality, that scene didn't come until the halfway point of the film. IF Raleigh's character was pushed to the sideline, it would also hide the fact that he is a horribly-written character. He has almost no growth at all, and the little he does have is laughably predictable. This is Mako's story, so make it about her.
One of the big issues with Avatar is that the story is the same old story we've had jammed down our throats forever now. Yes, colonialism is bad; we get it. But, the colonialists didn't think they were bad. The change for this film would be to confront the harsh thoughts of colonialists, the truths that they sell to each other. Picture Colonel Miles Quaritch saying the following to the Na'vi:
"You speak so proudly of the plugs dangling from your skulls, little realizing that they are but strings and you puppets. What little you have accomplished you attribute to the wisdom of your goddess, who is nothing but the voices of your dead echoing for all eternity. She moors you to the past, serving as a leash that keeps you as little better than apes, sad parodies of civilization that lack that special spark to become something more.
We have come to your world in search of resources. Whether your action drives us back or we take what we want and move on, the outcome is the same. We will depart from your wretched planet, leaving you behind. And in a thousand years, you will not have changed from this contact with another world. You will remain in your trees, hunting your prey, communing with your goddess until your sun burns out and your world dies. And above your tomb, the stars will belong to us."
Godzilla is not awful. In fact, if you accept the thinking of the masses, it is a fantastic film. We won't go that far. We'll fall somewhere in between the two extremes. But this movie could have been so much better. To learn what was wrong with it and how it could have been better, we only need to listen to the man whose character was directly involved in the mistake and the fix, Bryan Cranston.
"That character dying at that time was a mistake," Cranston said. "I knew it when I read it. When I read it I said, 'Oh, page 50 this character who was the emotional core at the centre, that was guiding the audience in the story up to that point - he dies?' What a waste… They kind of dealt with it poorly, that's my only criticism of it because I think it was a fun movie, it was a very successful movie. I told them that even if I wasn't doing this role, that character shouldn't die at that point. It's just bad narrative, but they were too far down the road… That character should have been with his son and they would've started to bond a little bit more and they went on this journey together to go back home and be reintroduced to his grandson," he suggested. "Just when they're bonding and it looks like they could have a relationship, the father sacrifices himself to save his son. And that's the way he should have died."
You're right, Bryan. That would have made the film so much better.
The 2009 film 9 was decent. It wasn't nearly as good as the trailer made it look, and the ending fell very flat. But one simple change proposed by a fan suggests that the ending could have easily been much better. In the film, we learn that the nine dolls are infused with fragments of their creator's soul. The world has been destroyed by this machine, a so-called "body without a soul." The man who created this machine did so to help the world, but the big bad got a hold of it and changed its purpose to destroying the earth. The creator of the machine, we learn, is the scientist who gave his life to the nine dolls. In the end, the dolls overcome the robot that is trying to suck out their souls. When they do, the planet is saved. Cheesy, to be sure. What if, when the robot sucked out the dolls' souls, he was infused by the soul fragments? After taking the ninth soul, he is no longer "a body without a soul." He now has all nine fragments of the scientist's soul. Once whole, the robot essentially becomes the scientist and uses his power to regenerate the planet and all life.
It's almost comical suggesting that Lincoln was awful. It was actually a beautiful film led by one of the best performances ever (Daniel Day-Lewis). It did, however, have some issues. One of those is the ending. Many people have suggested that by ending with the assassination, you weaken the film's primary drive. Although Steven Spielberg chose not to show the assassination, he did end with Lincoln dying in bed. One of the loudest criticisms of this decision came from Samuel L. Jackson. He said, “I don’t understand why it didn’t just end when Lincoln is walking down the hall and the butler gives him his hat… Why did I need to see him dying on the bed? I have no idea what Spielberg was trying to do… I didn’t need the assassination at all. Unless he’s going to show Lincoln getting his brains blown out. And even then, why am I watching it? The movie had a better ending 10 minutes before.”
6 Scream 4
Honestly, we really like Scream 4. We love the entire franchise. Yet still, if Scream 4 would have cut short it's ending, it could have been incredible. It could have flipped the genre on its head, and it could have reinvigorated the series all at once. The big twist at the end is that one of the protagonists, Emma Roberts, is actually the villain, or at least the one calling the shots. Near the end, we see her take out the main protagonist, Sidney Prescott. It turns out that Sidney isn't dead, and she ends up killing Roberts in the hospital. We don't think it should have gone that far. End with the big reveal. End it with Roberts killing Sidney and stealing the metaphorical franchise torch from her. What a bold move that would have been.
5 Batman V. Superman
Alright, so there isn't one single fix to make this movie better. The director's cut of the film isn't all that bad. It's pretty good. The theatrical cut was not very good, though. Above all the problems, however, one scene is criticized the most. This is the now-famous "Martha" scene. In the scene, Batman is about to kill Superman, and the Man of Steel yells out his mother's name, "Martha." Now, this is important because Batman's mother was named Martha too. Batman watched his mother die, so hearing her name caused him to stop. Even if you think it was important to include, it's impossible to deny that the scene wasn't insanely cheesy. One proposed fix is to change the way the scene is delivered. Instead of saying her name to Batman because that was dumb, Superman should have just asked Batman to save his mother. Since Batman couldn't save his own mom, this would still work. Once he saves her, she would reveal her name. Batman never heard her name before that. This would mean that Batman saved Martha, a symbolic redemption.
4 The Phantom Menace
The proposed fix for the oft-ridiculed Phantom Menace has been circulating for years now, but we have to include it because it's genius. The first prequel's problem is that it doesn't have a true main character. It should have been Obi Wan, but it wasn't. Much of the same action could take place, but the film should have started with developing Obi Wan's character more. Have him mirror Luke in many ways. Fans would immediately spot the parallels and expectations would be set. Anakin should not have been a little annoying kid with a massive role. He should have come in much later and be nothing more than a challenge for Obi Wan, a device to show growth from our new protagonist. Darth Maul would change a bit too. He would still kill Qui Gon Jin in this reworked film, but he wouldn't die so soon after that. He would stay alive in the franchise as the driving force for Obi Wan. Our protagonist seeks revenge and must control his rage all the while teaching Anakin. Hell, Anakin might even learn some negative stuff from Obi Wan along the way, negatives that would come back to haunt Obi Wan later.
3 Spider-Man 3
Spider-Man 3 had far too much going on for one movie. They should have cut back on how much was shown. Apparently, Sam Raimi was against including Venom, but he put him in there in the end to appease the fans. To accomplish this, they added in a new character, Eddie Brock, and created a rift between him and Spider-Man. That wasn't really necessary, though. Here's the fix. Keep the beef between Harry and Spider-Man going strong. Harry already hates Spider-Man for killing his father. Make the symbiote land on Harry instead of Eddie. Harry is filled with rage and hatred for Spider-Man, so the symbiote would work its Venom magic on him well. This would allow for the writing team to build off existing storylines and close them out, rather than introducing an entirely new story.
The Ghostbusters remake was unfairly criticized long before it hit theaters. Simply because many did not think the timing was right, they wrote it off before it even started production. Well, we don't think it was awful, but we do think it had big problems. One was how it worked itself into the Ghostbusters canon. One fan thought up a very creative way to incorporate it all, though. At the end of the film, the fan suggests that the camera pans up into the sky and out through the red wall of the containment unit. We find ourselves in the firehouse from the original films. This is when Peter asks, "What's it like in there for them?" This simple question sets up a very neat cyclical and meta world for the new Ghostbusters to exist within. The entire new film takes place within the containment unit. It pays homage to the old and allows the new Bizzaro world version to have its own space.
1 Thor: Dark World
There were several issues with Thor: Dark World. Most could not be fixed with a simple change, but there is one that would add a lot of humanity to the villain. Arguably, the worst part about the film is that Malekith's and the Dark Elves' mission made no sense. They were just angry at being slaughtered, and they wanted meaningless revenge. They wanted to use the aether to plunge the world into darkness just because. That's silly. Why not make Malekith at least somewhat reasonable? We saw, at one point in the film, that the aether could drain the life force from one person and transfer to another. We saw the Dark Elves get slaughtered by the Asgardians. Why not make Malekith's plan more thoughtful? Make him strive to use the Aether to drain all the life force from Earth and resurrect his own people. Now that's a plan.
Sources: IMDB; Reddit; Wikipedia; YouTube