There are movies that are so bad they’re good, and those that are so bad they’re like watching hundred-million-dollar paint dry. But in both cases, it helps to take a moment and understand the context behind the turd you’re watching. Because as we’ve mentioned before (more than once), the stories behind cinematic failures usually explain how they came out that way, and are often far more interesting than the movies themselves. That’s certainly the case with …
The Amazing Spider-Man Was A Last-Minute Rewrite Of A Tobey Maguire Sequel
The Amazing Spider-Man combined America’s love of superheroes with its mild tolerance for that guy from the Facebook movie (no, the other guy). The reboot found Spidey gaining his powers, battling the Lizard, and somehow romancing Emma Stone without mansplaining jazz to her every five minutes.
Disappointingly, it just went through many of the paces of the firstSpider-Manmovie, creating a Groundhog Day-like scenario in which audiences all over the world are forced to keep witnessing poor Uncle Ben get gunned down again and again.
What The Hell Happened:
For one thing, it wasn’t originally going to be a reboot. The plan was for director Sam Raimi to come back for Spider-Man 4, partly because he wanted to atone for the disappointing third movie, in which Peter Parker turns evil by discovering emo hair and strutting.
Columbia PicturesSpider-Man’s most obscure power: finger guns!
Maguire and Kirsten Dunst were also set to return, and Raimi was looking forward to ending the series “on a very high note” and making “the best Spider-Man of them all.” Unfortunately, with great ambition comes great shit hitting the fan. Spider-Man 4 was reportedly going to feature classic Spidey villains Vulture and Felicia Hardy — who is known as Black Cat in the comics, but would go by “Vultress” here. It’s unclear whether her suit would have incorporated the traditional Vulture wings, bald head, and liver spots.
And because you can never have too many villains in these things, this movie was set to burn off another of Spider-Man’s rogues gallery in a comedic afterthought of a scene. In these storyboards, we see Spider-Man arresting (a surprisingly hefty) Mysterio:
Columbia PicturesProving that no one involved in this movie visited a single message board after Spider-Man 3: more finger guns!
Also, if the sketches are any indication, this weird scene was going to fulfill the Bruce Campbell cameo quotient of the movie:
Then the studio decided they should also add the Lizard, either because his alter ego had already been introduced in the series, or in response to pressure from Hollywood’s secret reptilian overlords. Either way, the addition of yet another villain caused an “exhausted” Raimi to quit the project. Instead of letting Spider-Man die a quiet, noble cinematic death, the studio decided to rush out a reboot in order to retain the rights to the character, hiring an indie rom-com director a mere nine days later. And rather than start from scratch, they got the screenwriter to rework his sequel script so it took place in high school.
Even more embarrassingly, leaked Sony emails showed that the studio executives were so clueless about the project that they tried to contrive ways to trick kids into liking their half-assed movie — like having Spidey listen to EDM, get into yoga, and use Snapchat, which would be “very buzzworthy and cool.” That’s probably how we ended up with the scene in which Spider-Man uses that “Bing” site all the teens are raving about.
Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen Was Doomed By A Writers’ Strike (Well, And By Being Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen)
It’s no secret that the Transformers movies aren’t known for their clarity, concision, or not making you want to bore a hole in your own skull. That being said, watching the second film in the franchise, Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen, is a particularly confusing experience. It’s like trying to read a copy of Maxim at a monster truck rally after being concussed by a can of Axe body spray.
If that doesn’t help you narrow it down, we’re talking about the one where they go to Egypt and character actor John Turturro nearly gets teabagged to death:
What The Hell Happened:
We hate to break any illusions you might have about artfully crafted Transformers pictures, but this thing was a mess. Basically, there was an impending writers’ strike, and the screenwriters attached to the project hurriedly produced a rough outline in two weeks before stopping work.
Since Michael Bay stubbornly didn’t want to delay production (presumably because he’d already impressed a woman at a bar with stories of Decepticons blowing up the pyramids), he went ahead and began pre-production with no script. For those not intimately familiar with the filmmaking process, you kinda need scripts to make movies.
All the various departments had to prep their work based on the outline, which meant that when the strike ended, the writers had two months to write a whole script around the already existing set pieces. If that wasn’t enough, they also now had to shoehorn in the Chevy Volt as part of a product placement deal, as well as a fancy new army railgun as part of a deal with the U.S. military. All that and giving Shia LaBeouf something to do.
Nobody Had Any Idea What Jurassic Park 3 Should Be About, Even Weeks Before Shooting
There hasn’t really been a good Jurassic Park sequel yet. Heck, even the one directed by Steven Spielberg featured a small girl using remedial gymnastics to take out a velociraptor. But the third movie consists of an array of bafflingly awkward scenes, from the revelation that a child has been hoarding jars of T-Rex piss like a paleontological Howard Hughes …
… to Alan Grant daydreaming about a talking raptor …
Universal Pictures“The fuck was up with the piss scene, Alan?”
… to the film’s climactic fight scene, which periodically cuts to a kid watching Barney on TV.
Universal PicturesWhich would have been worth it if some raptors had burst into the studio and torn him to pieces.
What The Hell Happened:
Probably because Jurassic Park really only needed to be that one initial story and nothing else, people had trouble coming up with a good threequel premise. Spielberg’s first suggestion would be that Grant, despite barely escaping the island with his life, would return to Jurassic Park and kind of squat there, living “in a tree like Robinson Crusoe.”
After everyone vetoed Hobo Grant, they decided to go a totally different route: teenagers! The next script was about a gang of demographically appealing teens getting marooned on dino island, which director Joe Johnston admitted “read like a bad episode ofFriends.“
Warner Bros. TelevisionThe concept art wasn’t great, either.
Next they came up with a story about mysterious dino-related killings on the mainland, before throwing that out at the last minute and replacing it with a story about an island rescue mission. But they were so deep into pre-production that they had to use storyboards from the original idea, despite the fact that the central premise had changed.
Even after all that trouble, Spielberg still didn’t like the script. So with weeks to go before filming and $18 million already spent, they threw it out. The production hired a new screenwriter, future Oscar-winner Alexander Payne, who had to write a “whole new draft” using the sets that had already been built and the actors who had been cast. The director later admitted that they never had a finished script “until after we wrapped the movie.” The whole thing was chaos … which actually seems fitting for a Jurassic Park movie.
Rocky IV — There’s A Beautiful Story Behind The Stupid Robot
The Rocky franchise started out as a work of gritty realism (based on a real fighter), and eventually morphed into Rocky punching Soviet Russia in the face in the name of America. But undoubtedly the dumbest part of Rocky IV is when a robot shows up. Picture a sequel in which the baseball team from Moneyball invents time travel, and you can start to imagine how jarring this was.
In the movie, Rocky’s pal and brother-in-law inexplicably has a live-in robot friend who tends to his every need …
… well, hopefully not every need.
United ArtistsThat’s what anime pillows are for, you pervert.
What The Hell Happened:
Believe it or not, this weird-ass plotline has a super sweet backstory. The robot was first seen by Stallone on TV — not attacking the crew of the Battlestar Galactica, but on a talk show communicating with autistic children. Which is what it was built for.
International RoboticsEventually they upgraded it to a better kid-visiting model, which goes by “Chris Pratt.”
Stallone’s son, Seargeoh, is autistic, and so Stallone arranged for him to meet the robot, Sico. Apparently the meeting went rather well, because when making Rocky IV, Stallone had Sico written into the movie as a way of pleasing Seargeoh. That’s right, this famously terrible scene was made for heartwarming reasons. It’s like finding out that a Make-a-Wish kid requested that Dan Aykroyd get blown by a poltergeist.
The Snowman — They Didn’t Finish Shooting 10-15 Percent Of The Damn Script
Apart from those traumatized children whose parents thought they were treating the family to a Christmas movie, most people will forget about The Snowman. If you already did, it’s that thriller about a serial killer nicknamed “The Snowman” (after his surprisingly festive calling card) being pursued by Detective Harry Hole, the star of a series of novels and at least a few dirty limericks. It was awkwardly paced, surprisingly tone-deaf, and featured an advertising campaign seemingly thrown together at the last minute on some cocktail napkins.
Universal Pictures“This wasn’t a Twitter meme I wasn’t getting?!” — like half of you right now
What The Hell Happened:
Originally, the movie was set to be directed by Martin Scorsese, who likely agreed to do it after The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo turned Scandinavian serial killers into the new Beatles. Then, presumably after realizing that he was Martin Scorsese, he dropped out. But the movie kept chugging along, meaning that they hurriedly moved forward with a different director, Tomas Alfredson. According to Alfredson, he wasn’t given enough time to film in Norway, and so 10-15 percent of the script didn’t get filmed. Which is a problem for any movie, but especially for a murder mystery.
After discovering that “a lot was missing” during editing, they threw together some reshoots a year later in London … which would explain why Michael Fassbender’s haircut changes within the same scene.
Universal PicturesHe’s wearing a Magneto helmet in the next shot.
After Earth Was Originally Not Sci-Fi, And Inspired By A Reality Show Will Smith Liked (And Maybe Scientology)
Will Smith and Jaden Smith starred in After Earth, a bloated, confusing sci-fi adventure movie directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Unlike his other films, though, the only twist here was that you shelled out $12 bucks to watch Take Your Kid To Work Day: The Movie.
Columbia Pictures“How Can Danger Be Real If Our Eyes Aren’t Real?”
What The Hell Happened:
The only ideas most of us get from watching TV involve cooking meth in a Winnebago, surviving the zombie apocalypse, or not blowing your bid on the Showcase Showdown. When Will Smith watches TV, on the other hand, he turns it into feature-length movies. It seems Smith was a fan of the reality show I Shouldn’t Be Alive, about families and their true survival stories. Smith thought they should make a movie based on one of these stories — meaning that if he had been watching a different channel, we might have gotten a $200 million adaptation of Cupcake Wars.
Discovery Inc.We guess those are technically animals.
Smith originally concocted a story about a father and son who head to Alaska to bond, only to end up lost in the wilderness. This would also allow Smith to give a leading role to his son and produce the movie through his family’s production company, headed up by his brother-in-law. Yeah, this whole thing was one crazy-expensive home movie. Then, randomly, in the middle of the night, Smith called said brother-in-law and proclaimed that they should take the same story and set it “a thousand years in the future.” Not even his own relatives know how to say “no” to Will Smith, so they did.
And thus the simple story became a little more complicated, padded out with an elaborate science fiction mythology. Where did that mythology come from? Well, a lot of critics suspected that it’s loaded with references to Scientology, whose creation story similarly concerns Earth being abandoned by an intelligent race before us. Also, some scenes look like Jaden accidentally wandered into a paperback copy of L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics.
Bridge Publications, Inc.This movie makes more sense, though.
While Smith has never confirmed any involvement with Scientology, he has talked about the failure of After Earth … and it messed him up pretty bad. It made him realize that he craved box office success because his girlfriend cheated on him when he was 15. So at the very least, now we know that Independence Day was secretly an F-you to a duplicitous teen.