We here at The Richest love movies. They’re marvelous self-contained morsels of entertainment that can whisk us away to a world of whimsy or show us the muck and mire of real-life. Watching a great movie can make you look at the world differently in the same way a camera filter makes images notably different. In short, it is a glorious medium. By no means, however, does that mean that all of the films we see are worth our times. Sometimes movies are great, sometimes they suck, but more often than not they live in some kind of middle ground.
One of the oddest examples of the spectrum of quality movies can live in, has to be those that are awesome save for a single moment. These are the films that get their audience to totally buy into them and then out of nowhere, take a detour that has the majority of viewers scratching their heads and wondering what went wrong. For this list, we will be focusing on those films that managed such an unfortunate feat.
The criteria for the list should be abundantly clear. A movie needs to first be agreed upon by the majority of the masses as a well-made film. That doesn’t mean that everyone is going to feel that way, as individual tastes are different. We were also open to films that were poorly received by professional critics but a lot of everyday moviegoers embraced. Then, there needs to be a scene or sequence that managed to take a lot of the shine off the apple, making a movie that could have been fully embraced and dropping it down a grade or two.
15 Captain America: The First Avenger – USO Slow
An important movie in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the first Captain America movie had a lot to do. Set up one of the principle Avengers, his archenemy, the time period the film was set in, and a small group of supporting characters, it clearly had its work cut out for it. As far as the quality of the film goes it was decent in spite of all of those things but there was a pretty lengthy sequence in the film that did little to push the story forward or serve any of the movie’s other masters.
Before Cap takes his battles against Hydra to the warfront, the army uses him as a symbol of American ingenuity and national pride as evidenced by them showing him at a series of USO shows. While we understand that this part of the film adds an interesting element to the arch of the film, showing how he was originally viewed in a non-combat role, it goes on far, far too long. Even including a full-fledged musical sequence where Cap strikes a pose in front a group of dancing and singing women, it stops any momentum the film had built up dead in its tracks. Had they instead showed a couple of moments of him in this role before he breaks free of it, the story would have moved along far more effectively.
14 Star Trek – CGI Monstrosity
The 2009 Star Trek remake/reboot was a massive success when it came to box office receipts and it made a lot of old fans happy and brought some newbies into the franchise. So, how could it find its way onto a list like this, we can hear you asking. Easy, it is another example of a film that felt the need to thrust a totally useless moment into its midst that served no purpose and did nothing to ratchet up the tension.
When Kirk lands on a frigid planet where one of the movie’s most impactful moments takes place, meeting old Spock, we are initially forced to watch a silly CGI monstrosity. When he lands on a planet that seems to be barren of any life, we see a rather unconvincing monster who we assume will chase Kirk. Instead, an even bigger and less impressive creature appears and eats it before it also tries to eat James. Stupid to the max because we really doubt that anyone who watched the movie thought for a second that the movie’s lead would randomly be killed halfway through the movie's runtime, this scene sucked.
13 The Mummy Returns - Scorpion King
The Mummy Returns has mostly been forgotten to the annals of film history but for those who weren’t around when it first came out; let us tell you, it was huge. Making four-hundred-thirty-three million on a budget of less than one-hundred million, it was a sensation and a lot of people absolutely loved it.
A movie with a many, many CGI special effect moments, for their time, most of them came off fantastically well with the exception of one that was so uproariously awful that it was hard to stomach. Worst yet, it was actually during the film’s climax and they clearly cut corners to get it done. Introducing The Scorpion King in the movie’s opening moments, they paid off the character by showing him as a human and arachnid version of a centaur. Looking as though they gave up halfway through putting the effect together, it utterly ruined any semblance of seriousness the preceding scenes had created. Don’t forget, pretty much the entire movie came before this awful moment.
12 The Lost World - Uneven Bars
Another sequel that did gangbuster business and has legions of fans around the world, The Lost World is remembered much better as it followed up on a gigantic movie, Jurassic Park. Bringing back the immensely popular Dr. Ian Malcolm we’d seen delightfully played by Jeff Goldblum in the first film, this time around we were introduced to his teen daughter and girlfriend. A couple of baffling characters, as his partner was supposed to be knowledgeable about dinosaurs but still practically invited a Tyrannosaurus attack and his daughter was just plain annoying, we hoped they’d go away.
Any plan that we had to let the teenage daughter character go went by the wayside when she was involved in one of the crappiest put together scenes in any of Steven Spielberg’s movies. Hamfistedly set up as a gymnast early in the movie through a line that came out of nowhere and was pure exposition, you had to know that piece of information would come back in some fashion. Turned out it was in the silliest way anyone could have imagined. Late in the movie when our group of would-be survivors are being hunted by velociraptors, luckily enough there is the equivalent of uneven bars present which she uses to flip around on before kicking the predator out of the building. Awful because it is so obviously a body double and there is zero reason for those bars existing other than to allow this dumb moment to exist, this is the epitome of drivel.
11 Django Unchained – Quentin’s Cameo
Whether his films are your cup of tea or not, there is little question that Quentin Tarantino is a marvelous filmmaker. It also seems as though there are very few people that would make any attempt to claim that he is a great actor, even though he was pretty decent in From Dusk till Dawn. His worst performance has to be his awful cameo in his own 2012 western film, Django Unchained. Speaking with what has to be one of the worst Australian accents in major movie history, his character’s involvement in the film totally breaks the reality of the film that he’d set up previously. Come on, Quentin, you’re better than throwing yourself into a movie you have no business being in.
10 12 Years a Slave – Bass Scene
A movie that was an unflinching view of the awful treatment African American slaves suffered through the eyes of a formerly free man who was now one of them, you behold the film more than enjoy it. Exceptionally well acted and filmed, throughout the proceedings, we witness some truly cruel white people that seem to relish their position of authority over those they deem lesser than. A heroic tale of the resilience of man in even the harshest of environments, it is the tenacity of several slaves that provide the audience with their only sense of relief and inspiration. That is why it rings so incredibly hollow when we are introduced to Samuel Bass, who suddenly appears and serves as the savior of Solomon Northup, providing him with the route he takes to get home. While this is a part of the story as told in the book that the movie was inspired by, had they set the character up better beforehand or delved deeper into his effort to free the slave, it would have come off a lot less preachy. Casting someone other than Brad Pitt in the role may have helped it come off better, too.
9 Watchmen - Intimate Scene
A movie that has its detractors, Watchmen may not be perfect but you’d be foolish to not see that there are millions of people who enjoyed it immensely. From the awesome moment where Rorschach revealed to some inmates that they are in prison with him to the incredible visuals, this movie has a lot going for it but one scene feels exceptionally tone deaf. A sex scene that takes place between two of the film’s main characters, Nite Owl II & Silk Spectre II, it goes on unnecessarily long, features an odd music choice in Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah and has a terrible punctuation. In a terribly on the nose moment, at the end of the scene when the pair presumably are about to reach their climax, the ship they are in shots a flame from its front. Subtly and Zach Snyder have seemingly never met, have they?
8 Tombstone – Everything Josephine
Quite possibly the best modern western, Tombstone focuses on the battle that went down when Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, and his brothers took on a gang of criminal cowboys. Featuring one of the most badass and understated performances we’ve ever seen, that of Val Kilmer as Doc, as well as a wild-eyed vengeance-fueled one by Kurt Russell as Wyatt, this movie is pure machismo.
At least it would be if it weren’t for the fact that they attempted to simultaneously tell the tale of Wyatt meeting and falling for his wife Josephine. Played by Dana Delany, an actress we have enjoyed watching in many films, it could have gone well but the scenes they shared were often short and were a stark tonal shift from the rest of the film. The worst example of this comes at the end of the film when we watch the pair dance as snow begins to fall and the voiceover tells us of their glorious days as man and wife. A happy ending sure, it may have worked but it totally goes against everything that is so beloved about the rest of the film.
7 Hoffa - Hunting Scene
Another movie that doesn’t get talked about nearly as much as it deserves, this 1992 film starring Jack Nicholson and Danny DeVito tells the story of the rise and fall of Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa. A man who led thousands but whose death remains shrouded in mystery to this day; his life was truly fascinating and as such, made great fodder for a film.
So why is it that when you combined one of the best actors ever born with such an interesting man you get a film that has fallen by the wayside? Perhaps it has something to do with it featuring one of worst realized moments we’ve ever seen. Having earlier recreated some incredible moments where legions of men battled one another in a realistic fashion, when they showed Hoffa and his cronies going hunting it was truly baffling. Instead of seeing the skyline or forest in the background, we are forced to look at what appears to be an unconvincing matte painting or even a wall painted to look like the horizon.
6 Signs – Swing Away
At one time he was seen as one of the brightest up and coming movie directors in the world but today when audiences see the name M. Night Shyamalan, they are more likely to stay away. Still, the desire some have to write off all of his early works, as they justifiably have his later films, is entirely unfair. The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable are both great and if you put yourself in the position of the family in Signs, it is a very creepy experience. That said, we agree one hundred percent with his detractors when it comes to the film’s climax.
Setting up throughout the film that the main character’s wife died after being pinned in an accident and speaking some parting words to her husband, we are never told what exactly she said to him. They also made sure to show a silly character trait in one of the film’s youngsters that they leave half full glasses of water all over the house. When the film’s antagonists, a breed of aliens, enter their home, these two ham-fisted elements come together when it is revealed that she told her husband to tell his brother to swing away. Sounding like a game of telephone where the instructions could have easily been muddled, instead, it turns out to be some kind of divine intervention when it is revealed that the water kills the aliens. Awfully convenient storytelling all around, isn’t it?
5 Harry Potter, Prisoner of Azkaban – Werewolf Issues
We know full well that the Harry Potter series has as rabid a fanbase as any that exist today and in our opinion, that is largely for good reason. A well-constructed franchise with many compelling characters and creatures, there is a lot to be completely entertained by whenever you enter the world of Hogwarts.
Still, the way one of the major mysteries at the center of the series’ third film was set up is dumbfounding. You see, there is a werewolf on the grounds and people are trying to figure out who it could possibly be. Coincidentally, the school has brought on a new Defense of Dark Arts teacher. You don’t think those two things could be related, do you? If that wasn’t enough to ensure that you come to that conclusion, this new professor’s last name is Lupin which doesn’t bring to mind the word lupine, which can be defined as like or related to a wolf, does it? The fact that the reveal that he is indeed the werewolf was made so incredibly obvious got rid of any suspense and made the moment we have that confirmed completely anticlimactic.
4 The Dark Knight Rises –Ending Woes
The third film in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises had a lot to live up to after the near perfection that was the previous film. Not as great as the previous entry, it resulted in some believing that the film wasn’t well made simply due to the unfair comparison. Of course, it didn’t help the way people remember this film that the ending was so stupid and poorly executed.
Putting aside the silliness that was the fact that we were supposed to believe that cops that had been kept out of the sun for days on end would be able to take part in a fight almost instantly after they were freed. Never mind how confusing the way Batman flying the massive bomb away from the city and surviving somehow was. For us, the moment that we are completely incredulous about is when Alfred sees Bruce in the middle of a café. First off, Bruce is one of the wealthiest men alive and as a result should be a very recognizable man, so how his ruse isn’t revealed the moment he steps in public is beside us. Secondly, we get that he wanted to make his death a symbol but why did he keep this a secret from the man who is the only family he has left. For a guy who is obsessed with his parents, he sure treats his surrogate father like garbage.
3 X-Men -Toad Lightning
X-Men may not have been the first successful comic book movie but there is little doubt that it was the one that ushered them into the new millennium and helped turned them into the hottest genre in film. Focused on a team of superheroes led by Charles Xavier, it resulted in a lot of fans becoming aware of several long-lasting comic book characters. Included in that group is Storm, a mutant with the ability to control the weather; she is a force to be reckoned with. Yet, she is involved in one of the worst moments in comic book movie history. About to use her powers on Toad, a mutant with the powers of, well, a toad, she says one of the lamest lines we’ve ever heard. Do you know what happens to a toad when it is struck by lightning? The same thing that happens to everything else and then she uses her powers to strike her foe with a bolt of lightning. Someone actually wrote that and thought it was cool. Can you believe that?
2 Let the Right One In - Cats
Let the Right One In is one of the best vampire films ever made. It brought an artistic flair and subtle storytelling to a genre that is often the home of over the tops character and deplorable writing. Unfortunately, it absolutely deserves a spot on this list due to a rather infamous moment. You know the one. In the midst of a movie that is an exercise in beauty comes a scene where a character is attacked by a group of terribly rendered cats which feels awfully out of place and bumps us out of the experience of the film.
1 Return of the Jedi –Jedi Rock’s
We love the Originals Star Wars trilogy. You probably love the Original Star Wars trilogy. The last film in that series, Return of the Jedi, was the most controversial of the group, in large part due to the inclusion of the Ewoks, but it was still heralded as a wonderful film. For some reason, that wasn’t enough for George Lucas and he had to go back and monkey around with it which resulted in him making a bunch of unnecessary changes that most fans hated. The most notorious of the group is obviously making it so Greedo shoots first but in our mind, the one that feels never-ending and virtually unwatchable, is Jedi Rock’s.
Thrust into the middle of the scenes in Jabba’s palace, evidently, Mr. Lucas was always bothered that the band that is playing wasn’t able to do anything elaborate. Thus, he went back and inserted an intolerable song and dance sequence that is in a language we don’t understand, sounds shrill and obnoxious, and serves to put the brakes on the film’s story. We always looked forward to seeing the Rancor and the fact that we are now supposed to sit through this garbage to get to it is such a massive bummer we can’t even put it in words.