We’ve all been excited for a film that seemed awesome, only to be disappointed by the finished product. Some movies start out with a great premise but fail to execute it properly. These films have intriguing concepts but don’t develop them enough, or they begin with an original idea but take it to a clichéd conclusion.
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Recently, Redditors got together on r/movies, the largest film subreddit, to discuss the movies that they were most excited about, but which turned out to be duds. Their picks, which lean toward sci-fi, include several notable films that squandered their potential.
10 ‘In Time’ (2011)
Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried star in this sci-fi set in a dystopian future where time is literally money and people age to death at 25. Will Salas (Timberlake) fights against the corrupt system and attempts to change the world for the better.
The film explores themes of inequality, power, and mortality, alongside stunning visuals and special effects. “Really interesting sci-fi premise. Time works like currency – anyone can live forever if you are wealthy enough,” u/Mddcat04 explains. “But they don’t really do much with it and it just turns into a fairly generic crime thriller.”
9 ‘Elysium’ (2013)
Elysium was Neil Blomkamp‘s second feature, after District 9. The movie explores a future where Earth has become overpopulated and polluted, while the wealthy elite have moved to a space station called Elysium, where they enjoy a life of luxury and privilege. Matt Damon plays a former criminal who becomes embroiled in a dangerous mission to save his own life and that of millions of people on Earth.
“Just felt like there were two incomplete ideas and Neil just rolled them both into one since he didn’t have the time,” said u/drveejai88. “So much of the effort of that film was put into creating the dystopia on Earth but it seemed like zero effort went into the space station,” agrees u/AnyNamesLeftAnymore. “It was just a basic re-hash of the one in Final Fantasy: Spirits Within.”
8 ‘Mortal Kombat’ (2021)
This reboot of the popular video game franchise follows Cole Young (Lewis Tan), a washed-up MMA fighter who is recruited to fight in an otherworldly tournament. He teams up with iconic characters from the game, such as Sub-Zero and Scorpion, to protect Earthrealm from destruction.
“That movie started out so amazing and by the end, it was the cheesiest piece of garbage ever,” said u/Harvester_ofspice. Several Redditors said it would have been better had it simply focused on the two main characters. “I’d watch a Scorpion/Sub Zero movie set in feudal Japan any day,” one user said.
7 ‘Downsizing’ (2017)
In the future, people can undergo a procedure that shrinks them down to five inches in height in order to reduce their environmental impact and make their money go much further. Damon plays an average man who decides to undergo the procedure but finds that life in the downsized community is not what he expected. As he navigates his new world, he begins to question his own life and priorities.
“I really looked forward to that movie, and then felt like I was tricked into watching a completely different movie,” said u/H20loo-Sunset. “This one pisses everybody off, rightfully so. Also, they used ‘the talking heads’ ‘once in a lifetime’ in the trailer to manipulate people into thinking it was a fun lighthearted comedy,” said /u_Master_Chef_Mayo.
6 ‘Hancock’ (2008)
Hancock is a superhero comedy movie directed by Peter Berg. It centers on John Hancock (Will Smith), a drunken and disillusioned superhero who becomes an outcast due to his reckless behavior. However, when he saves the life of a PR executive named Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman), Hancock begins to regain his sense of purpose.
Smith delivers a solid performance, and the chemistry between him and Bateman is a highlight. However, not all Redditors were pleased. “The first half of the movie is really fun and has a real personality to it, then it all just sort of disintegrates into forgettable contrived nonsense in the second half,” one said.
5 ‘Jumper’ (2008)
Hayden Christensen is David Rice, a young man who discovers he has the ability to teleport anywhere in the world. As he learns to control his powers and evade a mysterious organization called the Paladins, David also seeks to reconnect with his childhood sweetheart, Millie (Rachel Bilson).
It’s a really intriguing sci-f premise, rendered in impressive CGI. Christensen shines in these kinds of roles, and there are great supporting performances from Samuel L. Jackson and Jamie Bell. However, the film barely scratches the surface of the teleportation concept, leaving so much unexplored. “Could have been a lot more interesting and developed more,” said u/Heisenberg_235.
4 ‘Passengers’ (2016)
Passengers is a romantic sci-fi drama directed by Morten Tyldum, the filmmaker behind Headhunters and The Imitation Game. It takes place on a spacecraft transporting thousands of people to a distant colony planet, where they will start a new life. However, when Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) and Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) wake up from their hibernation pods 90 years too early, they find themselves alone on the ship with only each other for company.
“So much potential and so clear to see the movie went off track. Still don’t see how it came out that way,” said u/Red-eleven. u/AnyNamesLeftAnymore concurred, saying, “It’s basically a movie with a villain protagonist that fails entirely to convince most viewers that he’s not […] Basically if that film can’t convince me to play devil’s advocate for the guy, it’s a dud story.”
3 ‘The Island’ (2005)
This action sci-fi from Michael Bay unfolds in a future where human clones are created for the sole purpose of providing replacement organs and tissues for their original counterparts. However, when Lincoln Six Echo (Ewan McGregor) discovers that the outside world is not what it seems and that his existence is a lie, he teams up with Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johansson) to escape the facility and uncover the truth.
Overall, it’s a thoroughly mediocre affair, with plot lines and tropes borrowed from a range of sci-fi movies. Among its few redeeming features are the performances from Sean Bean and Djimon Hounsou. “Starts as a dystopian type film where some residents of the Island realize they are just clones of rich people to be used for spare parts as needed. Ends as a generic action flick,” said u/CaptainOlonA.
2 ‘Last Night in Soho’ (2021)
Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie) moves to London to pursue her dream of becoming a fashion designer. However, she finds herself inexplicably transported back in time to the 1960s, where she becomes entangled in the life of a talented but troubled singer named Sandy (Anya Taylor-Joy). As Eloise’s obsession with Sandy grows, she begins to unravel the dark secrets of the past and the present.
Last Night in Soho features stylish cinematography and an infectious soundtrack, as one would expect from an Edgar Wright film, but parts of the story fell flat compared to his other projects. “I feel like it could have worked just fine turning into a horror movie if they didn’t rely on such tired horror tropes. Like she’s literally getting chased around by ghosts for the whole second half. Just ghosts that look like ghosts. It honestly had the originality of a haunted house at a carnival,” said u/nightpanda893.
1 ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ (2015)
The first entry in the new Star Wars trilogy tells the story of Rey (Daisy Ridley), a scavenger from the desert planet Jakku, who becomes embroiled in the fight between the Resistance and the First Order, a new regime that has risen from the ashes of the Empire. It was a box office smash and brought the franchise back to the forefront of the culture, but not all viewers loved it. Several Redditors complained that it left them bitterly disappointed.
“The Force Awakens had a promising beginning with some potentially interesting characters,” said u/Lukeh41. Unfortunately, it failed to properly build on this. “They really should have planned it all beforehand, develop themes, narrative, and characters arcs. Instead of mystery-boxing it and then course correct it and nostalgia-bait it to death (star). The people in charge really fumbled their assignment very irresponsibly,” said u/TheMemoman.
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