Not many movies can stand the test of time. Sure, there are a lot of them that go on to be critically acclaimed. People look back and say, “That movie changed everything,” or “This movie was the first movie ever to try this.” But when you actually watch those movies again, they’re completely and utterly outdated. They may have been groundbreaking at the time, but nowadays they seem almost comically bad. There’s only a few movies in existence that are just as good today as they were the first time they were ever watched in theaters. But that’s not what this article is about. Today, we look at 15 critically-acclaimed movies that have not aged well.
There are many traps a director can fall into that can result in a film aging badly. The most common of these is the use of CGI and special effects. I never understood why directors would be so reliant on CGI in their movies. I mean, in 5-15 years it’s going to look totally outdated. Why even bother? Another trap directors can fall into is something they can’t quite control – changing social attitudes. A film that can seem totally reasonable can be deemed politically incorrect, racist, or culturally insensitive years later. And as you will see, many films are guilty of that.
15. Wargames – Outdated Use Of Technology
Wargames is a film that was groundbreaking when it came out, but when you watch it now it’s completely underwhelming. The thing that really killed this film and prevented it from aging well is its use of technology. The whole plot centers around an advanced computer system that’s in charge of controlling America’s nuclear arsenal. There’s only one problem – by today’s standards, the computers are clearly not “advanced.” It’s hard to take the threat of the Internet seriously in the plot when the computers are these massive structures that look like they would have a hard time running Pong. The funniest thing of all is that they keep referring to these outdated devices as “Microcomputers.”
14. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy – Dated CGI and Overly Long
Have you re-watched the Lord Of The Rings Trilogy recently? If you have, you probably noticed that it wasn’t quite as good as you remember it. The CGI, which was groundbreaking at the time, now looks like a crappy video game from 2010. Certain scenes are okay, but the majority of the times it looks very visibly fake. It’s a shame because it really was one of the best films to come out this century. The acting was incredible. But in addition to the bad CGI, there are many scenes which seem to drag on and on, causing frustrating blemishes to an otherwise gripping series. The last film in particular is guilty of not knowing when to just end the god damn film already. It spends way too long using close ups of Frodo saying goodbye to Sam, and other forced emotional moments. There are many other awkward scenes in these movies, and that’s just one example.
13. Star Wars Special Editions – Updated Effects Ruined It
The original Star Wars movies are a great example of how a perfectionist can ruin a completely viable piece of art by chipping away at it until there’s nothing left. The actual original Star Wars movies (before any of the CGI updates) stood up really well to the test of time. They didn’t rely too much on special effects (especially A New Hope), and the space scenes utilized some really well done models that worked just fine. In fact, there was a certain charm to them that made them refreshing even many decades later. Then George Lucas decided he needed to update them. What followed was the complete butchering of the movies, and every scene seemed to have some pointless CGI animation hovering around in the background. The worst part about this is that I don’t even think you can find the real original Star Wars movies anymore. And the “adjustments” did terrible things to the plot as well, such as making Han Solo shoot second instead of first. So this is an example of a movie that could have aged well, but due to the pointless adjustments that were made, it ended up aging terribly.
12. Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom – Racist By Today’s Standards
In my opinion, The Temple Of Doom was always the worst Indiana Jones movie. Well, okay – maybe the Crystal Skull is even worse. The plot isn’t as gripping as some of the other films, such as The Last Crusade, and it’s guilty of using some really strange cultural stereotypes. If this movie was released today, it would face accusations of racism, and you can really see that in the film if you watch it today. There’s this one scene where Indiana Jones sits down to a “traditional Indian meal,” and it’s nothing but disgusting plates such as monkey brains and insects. It clearly paints the Indian people in a very negative light, and it wouldn’t be acceptable today.
11. Tron (1982) – Groundbreaking, But Doesn’t Hold Up
When Tron came out in 1982, everyone was stunned. No one had managed to use special effects and CGI to this level before, and it was hailed as the most groundbreaking piece of cinema in recent times. Even today, people look back on this as the film that paved the way for modern CGI filmmaking. Of course, when you watch it today, it’s almost comically bad. What passed for “groundbreaking” back then looks like something a 5-year-old made today, and although it’s still a charming movie, it really hasn’t aged well. This is one film that Disney was actually fully justified in rebooting, and the modern version of this film brings back the Tron legacy to its former glory. And above all, we can’t forget the effect this movie has had on future filmmaking techniques.
10. Duck Soup – Not Funny Anymore
Many of you probably don’t know who the Marx Brothers are, but I personally grew up watching them as a kid. I tried to watch one of the movies again recently and had to switch it off after about 15 minutes. It’s just not funny any more. Like, at all. There are many movies from the 1920s and 30s era that stood the test of time. Charlie Chaplin is a great example. His comedic genius is every bit as funny today as it was back then. However, movies like Duck Soup clearly have not aged as well. The comedic style is just way too outdated. It’s like listening to a standup comedian telling the same joke over and over again, relentlessly repeating himself until he gets booed off stage. Without the comedic value to it, this movie is totally unwatchable, as are many other movies by the Marx Brothers.
9. Live And Let Die – Exploits People Of Color
Another film that seems totally strange when you watch it now is the James Bond movie, Live And Let Die. This movie has some of the most racial conflict I’ve ever seen, and it’s clear that this movie could not be made today. It takes place in the Caribbean, so the movie is somewhat excused in making all the bad guys black. But as Roger Moore, the lone white guy, battles through endless waves of black mercenaries, you get the feeling in the pit of your stomach that something is clearly wrong with this movie. The movie has been labelled with a unique form of “blaxploitation” in the years following its release. Those who defend the film say it’s not racist because the black people are in a position of power in terms of the government. But it’s clear that this film portrays a society which is corrupt and evil, seemingly as a result of black rule and the influence of “Voodoo” culture.
8. Gone With The Wind – Obvious Racist Undertones
Another film that contains a questionable portrayal of the black community is Gone With The Wind. One movie critic, Lou Lumenick, has even called for the movie to be banned entirely, saying “What does it say about us as a nation if we continue to embrace a movie that, in the final analysis, stands for many of the same things as the Confederate flag that flutters so dramatically over the dead and wounded soldiers at the Atlanta train station just before the intermission?” The main qualms most people have with this film is that it romanticizes slavery, and pushes the “happy slave” stereotype that was so common in films of that era. Even more disturbing is that the film won an Academy Award back in 1939. No one really likes to bring it up, but this movie is definitely a stain on American filmmaking, especially in the social atmosphere of today.
7. Avatar – Already Aging Badly
Don’t get me wrong, Avatar was a great movie. But a lot people on the Internet have been commenting on how crappy the movie looks when they watch it at home on their HDTV and Blu-Ray players. Even with all the high tech home theater options we have today, watching it from the comfort of your home just doesn’t compare to the theater experience we all remember, and it probably never will. Why? Probably because like many other movies on this list, the film relies way too heavily on CGI. Will this movie look good in 15-20 years? Probably not. And since huge parts of the movie are animated, the film will age much quicker than others that rely on good old fashioned actors and cameras. It might not be totally outdated yet, but I’m predicting that this movie is going to age really badly even within the next few years. And as people watching it at home have already discovered, it seemed to age decades from the time it went from theater to DVD and Blu-Ray.
6. Hackers – Outdated Ideas Of Technology
It breaks my heart to include Hackers in this list, but it has to be done. This is actually one of my favorite movies of all time, and before you say anything, I’m fully aware of how bad it is. Even though this movie had a pretty lame plot and the acting wasn’t always great, it has a special place in my heart and always charms me when I watch it. It seems to just remind me of my childhood and that nostalgia factor is intoxicating. While I can argue why I love the film, I’m not even going to try to defend the fact that it’s completely outdated. In fact, it was actually pretty outdated from the moment it came out. It seemed to portray the Internet and hacking as this kind of video game where you can actually see the memory of the computer and its microchips. It was an interesting visualization of hacking, but as any person who had ever used a computer can tell you, that’s not how hacking works. You might also say that the 90s vibes from this movie also make it outdated, but for me that’s what makes this film so charming.
5. Top Gun – Too “Pro-War” For Today’s Audience
Top Gun is truly an iconic 80s movie that tons of people loved when it came out. But the real question is whether or not Top Gun would “fly” today… The answer is a resounding no. In fact, the movie would crash and burn after being torn apart by Russian MiGs. The reason is due to its very blatant pro-war message. Nowadays, war movies have to be careful to at least include some passing mention of why war is bad, and how we should strive for peace. There was no such mention of that in Top Gun. It was all about America kicking ass, with no brakes and no shortage of firepower. In fact, many people see Top Gun as a feature-length recruiting video for the US military. They didn’t even try to hide this fact, as Navy recruiters actually set up inside the theaters and got dozens of guys to enlist as they were walking out of the theater. If a movie like this came out today, you would have a huge public outcry against it. I guess it’s because people have learned how brutal war really is and how pointless a lot of America’s wars are today.
4. Superman (1978) – Terrible Stunts And Effects
Looking back at 1978’s Superman, we see just how far superhero movies have come. If this movie was released today, it would be the laughing stock of the entire world. This is largely due to the fact that the film’s special effects are incredibly outdated. What comes to mind are the flying scenes, where actor Christopher Reeves is quite obviously hanging by a wire. But back then, it was seen as a marvelous example of filmmaking technology, and people almost truly believed they were seeing Superman flying. Another point is that some of Superman’s stunts are a little ridiculous by today’s standards, namely the time he tried to connect a severed railroad with his body. This just goes to show that while we might marvel at the special effects of superhero movies today, in 20 to 30 years they’ll be hopelessly outdated. All that remains is the plot, which in many cases isn’t that amazing when you looks at current superhero flicks. At least 1978’s Superman had an interesting story.
3. Jaws – Laughable Fake Shark
Jaws is supposed to be one of the most iconic movies of all time, and I guess it still is. Looking back, it has some amazing acting and the story is pretty engrossing. But something about watching it today makes the experience a little lackluster. I suppose it’s because in today’s day and age, it’s really easy to spot fake props such as the shark that they used in many of the scenes. A lot of people make fun of it these days, and point out that it’s so fake that it’s impossible to see it as scary. Because of this, the movie really hasn’t aged well. But I have a sneaking suspicion that this film might be next on the list for a reboot, so maybe they can save its reputation.
2. Total Recall (1990) – Outdated, But Reboot Lacks Charm
I actually love Total Recall. In my opinion, it’s Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s best film, and watching it never really gets old. Each time I watch it, however, it gets a little harder to ignore the fact that the movie is totally outdated and has not aged well at all. There are so many weird, intrinsically 80s special effects and props that look totally out of place in today’s day and age. While some say that it adds to the overall charm of the movie, it’s hard to deny that many of the special effects, such as the exploding heads and the weird mask thing that Schwarzenegger wears at one point (see the picture) are incredibly corny. While the reboot fixed a lot of these problems, it failed to capture the same charm as the original, meaning the film at its core remains outdated.
1. Logan’s Run
Logan’s Run was an amazing movie and it received a lot of critical acclaim when it came out in 1976. It’s always a struggle when you decide to make a film set in the future, and the vision of Logan’s Run is a future that is very… 70s. Today this futuristic setting would seem strange and out of place. Then there were the challenges faced with the special effects. If you’re not familiar with the story, people live in domed cities and are killed when they reach the age of 30. These people are taken into a “carousel,” where they float up into the air before they are vaporized. The scene today looks extremely outdated, as do many other “futuristic” elements in the movie.
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