Even the greatest movie directors can have an off day. Like a golfer playing well who encounters one rogue hole, movie directors can score a bogey — or a double if the movie is that bad! A recent online discussion lists movie-goers’ picks for directors who had a great career with one stand-out fail. I find it hard to think one film can ruin a promising career, but the Internet disagrees!
1. Darren Aronofsky
Our original poster has a few choice words for avant-garde movie maker Darren Aronofsky’s 2014 movie, Noah. “I’m a Darren Aronofsky fanboy, and I don’t care what anyone says; his movies are masterpieces,” says the enthusiast. “But man, Noah stinks. It’s so bad.”
2. Spike Lee
“Spike Lee has a few movies that aren’t super well received,” adds another movie-goer, “but I think his Oldboy remake stands out as atrocious among mostly great stuff.” This is a fair comment, especially after seeing the Korean original. I am not sure why someone would consider Oldboy for a Westernized reboot — it is Korean through and through.
3. David Fincher
The man who brought the world the genius of Se7en, Fight Club, and The Social Network was also responsible for the third of the Aliens trilogy, Alien 3. Sadly, his movie had to follow James Cameron’s world-class sequel, so it was always doomed to struggle. Following James Cameron in a vast sci-fi franchise would be like following Dave Chappelle on a comedy bill.
4. Steven Spielberg
I am just the messenger here, and no, Steven Spielberg’s career was not ruined by one movie. However, some people did not appreciate his fourth Indiana Jones installment, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skulls. You can’t dent Spielberg’s illustrious filmography, but this movie tries its best. Moreover, trying to deputize your nephew (Shia Lebouf) as the new generation of action-archeologist was a bum note.
5. Alexander Payne
Oscar-winning director Alexander Payne went on a powerful new-millennium run. His heyday gave us excellent films such as About Schmidt, Sideways, and Nebraska. However, he went down a curious path with his ambitious Downsizing, a movie whose premise is appealing but doesn’t deliver on its promise. After a man decides to downsize his whole life to save in retirement — literally — the movie veers from a quirky comedy into an existential freedom-fighter drama.
6. Terry Gilliam
While I love Gilliam’s high notes, such as the underrated Fisher King, the dystopian sci-fi Brazil, and his irresistible Monty Python canon, there have been a few low points. The Brothers Grimm and his most recent offering, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, are almost unwatchable. “I pray he can make one last movie so he doesn’t go out on such a low note,” begs a Gilliam follower.
7. Guy Ritchie
The English gangster-movie specialist exploded into the new millennium with two exquisite crime-comedy movies, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, and Snatch. However, he was guilty of cinematic heresy for Swept Away. This dire ’70s Italian comedy remake was made worse by its wooden protagonist: Ritchie’s then-wife, Madonna. However, Ritchie’s last few films (barring the terrible King Arthur) have been excellent.
8. M. Knight Shyamalan
“I was a big Shyamalan apologist back in the day,” recalls an observer. “I loved even his bad movies, but my god, did The Last Airbender blow hard!” I’ve never known a director to stack his career with so many early hits only to take a nosedive with subsequent misses. Encouragingly, the director has since fought back with several commendable films.
9. Tim Burton
The legend who brought us Ed Wood, Edward Scissorhands, and Michael Keaton as Batman has hit some considerable lows. “Tim Burton with Planet of the Apes,” asserts a film fan. “I’d also throw in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, as well.” It is hard to disagree with the first choice, and his remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a cute but tepid tribute to the magical Gene Wilder vehicle.
10. John Carpenter
I love John Carpenter, but I fully agree with another Carpenter fan who laments the director ever touched the Ghosts of Mars script. “John Carpenter’s worst movie, in my opinion, was Ghosts of Mars,” says my contemporary. However, I can forgive old John for giving me They Live, The Thing, and Assault on Precinct 13.
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