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  • The American Pie films had Steve Stifler. A Jerk Jock villain straight out of an '80s frat-house teen comedy existing in a more modern (1999) film, Stifler is often described by fans of the series as a character who was hilarious in small doses in the first two films, where his jerkass behavior was treated as such. The problem was, he became the Ensemble Dark Horse of the series, and American Wedding and American Reunion expanded his role and turned him into a more heroic Butt-Monkey. As one of the protagonists, his behavior became a lot more polarizing.
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  • The disastrously Troubled Production on Apocalypse Now foreshadowed all the mounting problems of the New Hollywood era of filmmaking that would come to a head in the early '80s, including with Francis Ford Coppola's next film One from the Heart. Coppola himself compared the experience of making Apocalypse Now to the actual Vietnam War that it was set in, in the sense of it being a case of a bunch of people with more money than sense who went into a situation that they were woefully ill-equipped to handle, a story that would repeat with One from the Heart, Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate, and several other films from the onetime darlings of Hollywood.note  In hindsight, Apocalypse Now should've been a warning on the consequences of giving auteur filmmakers too much Protection from Editors, but against all odds, it was a box-office smash that was beloved by critics and audiences, and so it took a few more years for things to reach a breaking point — by which point they had gotten so bad that they sank an entire studio.
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  • In 2005, the independent studio The Asylum released a Direct to Video adaptation of H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds. It was generally faithful to the source material and made with mostly good intentions... and because its release coincided with that of Steven Spielberg's far more lavish adaptation, video rental stores bought the film in bulk in order to lure in people who might mistake it for the Spielberg version. (Blockbuster Video alone is known to have purchased over 250,000 copies.) From there, dollar signs emerged in the eyes of The Asylum's executives, and the studio would quickly become notorious for making low-budget mockbusters of contemporary blockbusters.
  • Many fans of action films have blamed The Bourne Supremacy for popularizing Jitter Cam, with Tom Breiman of The AV Club describing it as "a great movie [with] a lot to answer for." Director Paul Greengrass, however, used the sort of handheld camera work specifically to convey chaos and confusion on screen, in keeping with a Spy Fiction story about not knowing who to trust, while also remembering to keep the action coherent and flowing. In the one scene where the action was hard to follow, the Moscow car chase, it was done specifically to show that Jason Bourne was injured and unable to fully process what was happening. Many of the films copying The Bourne Supremacy's aesthetic took the surface-level chaos of its Jitter Cam style without any of the justification or coherence, leading to a Dork Age for the action genre that saw a decade's worth of films where it was nigh-on impossible to tell what was happening during action scenes. This video goes into more detail, comparing clips from The Bourne Series and their many imitators to illustrate where Greengrass succeeded and so many others failed.
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  • The 2013 adaptation of Carrie got criticism for casting Chloë Grace Moretz as the eponymous heroine, with many fans feeling that she was far too conventionally pretty to convincingly play such a beaten-down social outcast. Except that the 1976 film also gave Carrie a heavy dose of Adaptational Attractiveness in its casting of Sissy Spacek, who had been voted Homecoming Queen in her own high school. It's just that Spacek wasn't as well known beforehand, meaning that her performance as Carrie was most people's first experience of her, whereas Moretz had been a child star beforehand and had a prominent public persona. And the 2002 remake had cast Angela Bettis, who used Beauty Inversion to make herself believable as Carrie, whereas Moretz was Hollywood Homely at best. (That said, some still feel that her performance makes up for her beauty, making it believable that she could be a social outcast.)
  • Cats:
    • Despite criticisms that Jennifer Hudson is too young to play the elderly Grizabella at 37, the first actresses to play her on stage (Elaine Paige in London, Betty Buckley in New York) were actually younger at only 33 and 34 respectively. The make-up on stage conveyed the White-Dwarf Starlet look fine and the suspension of disbelief is easier to take on stage. In the film, it's just Jennifer Hudson's very youthful face on a normal cat's body, making the Adaptational Attractiveness all the more apparent.
    • The stage musical is similarly divisive upon opening because of how strange and bizarre it is, but the experience of seeing it in theater made the spectacle worth watching. However, the film tries so hard at realism that it falls into the Uncanny Valley. The actors are scaled down to miniature and their faces on realistic cat fur in contrast to the make-up and choreography that is more evocative than literal.
    • Lindsay Ellis claims that certain controversial creative decisions can already be seen in Tom Hooper's previous Broadway musical adaptation, Les Misérables (2012):
      • Hooper defends his choice of making the titular cats more realistic. While this decision worked for Les Miserables, which is a fairly grounded musical to begin with, Cats is one of the gaudiest and most surreal musicals to ever be performed on Broadway, and any attempts at realism miss the point of the play and plunge it into the Uncanny Valley.
      • The All-Star Cast of Les Miserables was replicated, but whereas Les Miserables has a constantly rotating cast which can allow for many big names to appear, in Cats every character is on stage for the duration of the entire play. This forced Hooper to turn Macavity into a more solid antagonist to get the A-Listers out of the way, as many of them have busy schedules that prohibit them from being on set for long periods of time in addition to high salaries and various demands. In addition, said celebrities wanted to perform group numbers solo, thus lowering their quality.
  • Die Hard:
    • Later films are criticized for turning John McClane into an invincible Hollywood Action Hero, even though, in the first three films, he was simply a Badass Normal cop who subverted many of the tropes of the action heroes of the '80s. Truth is, the original film also had plenty of moments where John should've straight-up died from the injuries he'd sustained, such as the elevator shaft explosion or getting kicked in the throat. Honest Trailers even analyzed the films with a medical doctor, and found that there really weren't that many more No One Could Survive That! moments in the later sequels than in the original trilogy, with Die Hard 2 actually being the only installment where a normal person in John's position could realistically survive the entire film. The difference was, in the first three films (especially the first), John's injuries were shown as taking a serious physical toll on him; by the end of each film, he's a bloody mess who's barely standing and in dire need of medical attention. The later sequels ignored this, making the damage John sustains come across as much less serious than it should be, especially given that, unlike the first three films where John was in his thirties, the fourth and fifth films heavily played up John's advancing age and the fact that he wasn't getting any younger. What's more, the death-defying stunts got excessively outlandish; while Honest Trailers noted that John shouldn't have survived the first and third films, it was only the fifth film where he survives something (namely, a fifteen-story fall out of a building) that would logically leave him "super dead".
    • As noted in this video by Rossatron, the third film, Die Hard with a Vengeance, changed the formula from "Die Hard" on an X — a lone cop in the wrong place at the wrong time serving as the Spanner in the Works for a bunch of criminals/terrorists within a Closed Circle — to something more akin to a Buddy Cop Show, pairing John McClane up with Zeus Carver and taking place across New York. It worked in this film because Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson had great buddy chemistry and John McTiernan (returning from the first film) is a pro at shooting great action scenes, but at the same time, it made John feel less trapped and gave him fewer opportunities to reflect on his course of action, thus making the action feel less personal and more driven by spectacle. Later films copied the formula of With a Vengeance to diminishing returns, with John feeling increasingly out of place — which they outright lampshaded in Live Free or Die Hard, and which culminated in him being a Supporting Protagonist to his son Jack in A Good Day to Die Hard.
  • Disney Live-Action Remakes:
    • The films have gotten criticism for their occasional instances of Stunt Casting from the very beginning, but it didn't lead to major backlash until a few years down the road. In The Jungle Book (2016), many critics felt that Bill Murray's performance as Baloo was the weak link in an otherwise strong film — partly because Murray had minimal experience in singing and voice-acting, and partly because Baloo's personality (as a laid-back wiseass) was mostly just a riff on Murray's actual public persona. Most of them were willing to forgive it, though, since newcomer Neel Sethi's acclaimed performance as Mowgli largely made up for it. Beauty and the Beast (2017) similarly got some flack for casting Emma Watson as Belle, since Watson had minimal experience in singing, making her a questionable choice for a character with so many musical numbers. While her acting was widely praised, critics generally felt that her singing was one of the weakest parts of the film, which was all the more glaring since she was the protagonist. But when Aladdin (2019) cast Will Smith in the role of the Genie, the choice proved so unpopular that it was already generating bad publicity long before the film actually came out. Not only was Smith such an instantly recognizable public figure that his presence came off as distracting, many critics and viewers felt that his distinctively contemporary style of comedy was horribly ill-suited to an epic period fantasy. It didn't help that the Genie was a far more iconic character than either Baloo or Belle — and unlike them, he was already permanently associated with an iconic performance by a completely different actor. Taken alongside the films' previous casting choices, Smith's performance has led to the accusation that the filmmakers care more about snagging big-name actors for publicity's sake than appropriately casting characters.
    • Beauty and the Beast (2017) and The Lion King (2019) proved to be highly divisive films, in part for making changes to the movies they were adapted from that many fans saw as unnecessary. While those changes wouldn't necessarily be bad by themselves, some saw them as gratuitous pandering to "bad-faith critics" who had trivial complaints about the originals. note  To a degree, this was also true of Cinderella (2015) and The Jungle Book (2016), which were much more widely acclaimed. Among other things, Cinderella gave Lady Tremaine additional backstory to explain her hatred of Ella (which not everyone liked), and The Jungle Book changed King Louie into a Gigantopithecus to placate people who complained about an orangutan being in India. But even if those small changes weren't exactly necessary, they were easier to tolerate because they were mostly overshadowed by larger changes that actually made for stronger stories: Cinderella gave the Prince, previously a Flat Character, considerable Character Development to make his relationship with Ella more meaningful, while The Jungle Book added a great deal of actual drama to a story that was originally pretty light on emotion. Furthermore, both Cinderella and Jungle Book were released nearly 50 years after the original animated movies debuted, so the numerous changes made sense to keep up with modern tastes and societal changes. Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King's changes, on the other hand, mostly just added additional weight to the movies rather than actually making them better, since the originals already had well-paced stories with rich themes and strong characters, and there wasn't a lot of room for improvement.
    • The Lion King (2019) was criticized for its over-realism sucking out the movie's emotions and soul. The use of hyper-realistic CGI can be traced back to The Jungle Book (2016) (both films being directed by Jon Favreau). However, this wasn't viewed as a problem in The Jungle Book because the animators gave the characters facial expressions that conveyed emotions, which, alongside the amount of changes to the story compared to the original, gave it some degree of its own magic. The Lion King, on the other hand, was mostly a Shot-for-Shot Remake where the characters had very little emotions in their facial expressions, sending the animals down the Uncanny Valley in the process of them seeming empty.
    • The adding of feminist subtext to the originals started with Cinderella, which there amounted to developing Ella's romance with the prince a little more and incorporating the themes of emotional abuse into the story. Beauty and the Beast amps up the feminist themes to the point of parody, turning Belle into an Adaptational Badass and giving her a scene where she tries to escape the castle alongside making her essentially the smartest person in the film to emphasize how amazing she is (although this ends up causing her to run into the remake's version of the wolf encounter). The Lion King amped up Nala and Shenzi's roles, culminating in a Designated Girl Fight, while Aladdin makes Jasmine's motivation to become the ruler of Agrabah, whilst also providing an Author's Saving Throw to her role in the original's climax by having her actually take part in the remake's climax. All of these felt like excessive pandering to appease feminist critiques of the originals (that weren't really criticisms), which made it where many of the intended audience felt it was missing the point, while others disliked being beaten over the head with the message. While this feminism was also in Cinderella, it wasn't viewed as a problem there because the movie provided a different interpretation of a familiar character while also expanding on the original in a way that still kept the spirit of the original film without coming across as pandering.
  • The controversy surrounding Clint Eastwood's Richard Jewell, which played a major role in why it became a Box Office Bomb, has a clear predecessor in a previous Eastwood film, Sully. Both films are biopics accused of giving Historical Villain Upgrades for the sake of creating drama. In the case of Sully, people were at least able to overlook the vilification of the National Transportation Safety Board investigators for a few reasons: it is an organization rather than a specific individual, many NTSB workers who had been involved with the investigation of US Airways Flight 1549 were around to offer their side of the story, and their portrayal was at least consistent within the film's narrative. Richard Jewell portrayed Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Kathy Scruggs as an Immoral Journalist who sleeps with FBI agents for information, something there is zero evidence for in reality. This ended up creating far more controversy than Sully: Kathy was a specific person, she had long since passed away and so was unable to defend her side of the story, and most damningly, her portrayal muddled the film's intended message on how the media can manipulate information to slander individuals and made it ring hypocritical.
  • For all the hay that is made of Ghostbusters (2016) treating its male characters as bumbling fools, it would be wise to remember that most of the non-Ghostbuster and non-Mayor male characters in Ghostbusters (1984) did this. Mr. Delacorte at the library is a weedy milquetoast, Dean Yeager is a prissy bastard who takes sadistic delight in getting rid of these guys, Louis would probably get into deep trouble if he weren't so charming, and Peck is an outright Hate Sink. That being said, it was originally a genre convention of Animal House, Caddyshack, and Stripes, to name a few; it's simply that this convention becomes a bit more visible when the emphasis is changed from Slobs vs. Snobs to "girl power".
  • Return to Halloweentown, the fourth and final film in the Halloweentown series of Disney Channel Original Movies, is treated by most fans as having never happened, largely for marking the series' final slide into the Girl-Show Ghetto at the height of the Disney Channel's Teen Idol era. The protagonist Marnie was recast, Lucas Grabeel got an expanded role now that High School Musical had made him one of the Disney Channel's biggest stars, the main villains were an obnoxious Girl Posse while The Dominion, the evil witches they worked for, were treated as The Man Behind the Man, Debbie Reynolds was demoted to a "Special Appearance By" credit, and the setting of "Witch University" forbade students from using magic on campus, leaving very few opportunities for the film to show off the magic that was previously integral to the series. All of these problems were there in the prior film, Halloweentown High, which marked the franchise's transition from family comedy to teen comedy. In that film, many characters from the first two films were either Put on a Bus or had much smaller roles in order to focus on the new cast of teenage characters, including Lucas Grabeel's character, and the more overtly fantastical elements were heavily toned down, including very few scenes set in the titular Halloweentown itself. The thing was, the move to teen comedy made sense given that the main characters were now older, and the main plot still revolved around the monster kids trying to fit in at a human high school, so the supernatural elements were still a major source of the film's humor. Plus, it still had the most important members of the original cast. As such, even though it produces a Broken Base, Halloweentown High doesn't get nearly the hostile reception from fans that Return to Halloweentown does.
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas! featured needless Adaptation Expansion, confused morals that make the originally-simple message a lot less coherent, an emphasis on big sets over good writing, some problematic and unfitting jokes, and a few creepy makeup jobs. However, it was saved by Jim Carrey, who was at the height of his popularity and perfectly cast as the protagonist, topped off with an Academy Award-winning look. When the same people made The Cat in the Hat, they cast Mike Myers right when he was starting to slide off the radar, and shoved him into a costume that mostly just looked creepy, leaving the bawdy jokes, confused morals, and mindless spectacle in the spotlight.
  • How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days has been described by Caroline Siede of The AV Club as this for the Romantic Comedy genre as a whole. She argues that, while it didn't invent the formulaic tropes (shallow characters, regressive gender politics, forced Cringe Comedy, a focus on High Concept hooks over an interesting story) that would plague and eventually destroy the genre over the course of the 2000s, it gathered them all in one place and, by virtue of its box-office success, had a massive impact on the genre going forward as other filmmakers and studios sought to replicate it. The thing was, it did that formula well, in large part thanks to the outstanding chemistry of its lead actors Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson, as well as a self-awareness of the formula and how goofy it is. The romantic comedies that came in its wake did not have this going for them.
  • As explained here by Maven of the Eventide, a lot of what went wrong with the film adaptation of Queen of the Damned can be traced back to its much better predecessor, Interview with the Vampire. In Interview, Lestat was a vivacious, lively character who mocked his brooding counterparts, yet those "tortured souls" still came off as sympathetic characters due to their development over the course of the story. Unfortunately, the makers of Queen mistook that as "brooding = sexy and cool".
  • James Bond:
    • All the problems with the Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan-era movies — the over-the-top gadgets, the bad puns, the overly-elaborate villain plans and death traps — are visible in Goldfinger, where they were still reasonably in check. That these elements were not necessary to the franchise was demonstrated by the 2006 reboot Casino Royale. The caveat to this, though, is that Royale and its immediate followup, Quantum of Solace, have been criticized for feeling less like Bond films and more like a reskinning of Bourne with all of the Bond names.
    • Roger Moore received increasing complaints that he was getting too old for the role (something which he concured with), culminating in the embarrassing realization that he was older than his A View to a Kill co-star Tanya Roberts's mother. But even in his very first outing, Live and Let Die, Moore was more than twenty years older than all three of the actresses playing Bond's paramours. (It didn't help that, despite being Connery's successor in the role, Moore was almost three years older than him.)
    • The Daniel Craig Bond films have also gone through two noticeable up-and-down periods that both started with a deconstructive period followed by a period of Revisiting the Roots, in that order. To elaborate:
      • Casino Royale (2006) got rave reviews for its Darker and Edgier reinvention of 007, and it was widely hailed as a breath of fresh air. Thing is, though, in spite of its grittier tone and minimalistic storytelling, the movie also had enough spectacle to keep the audience engaged (in the famous construction site chase, for instance), and the Big Bad Le Chiffre still retained enough of the classic Bond villain flavor to keep the movie anchored in the world of Tuxedo and Martini fiction; he didn't have a supervillain lair or an arsenal of elaborate gadgets, but he was a genuinely scary Soft-Spoken Sadist who wept tears of blood. For the follow-up, Quantum of Solace, the filmmakers tried to maintain that stripped-down approach, but wound up stripping out most of the spectacle that made Casino Royale work. In trying to do a "realistic" evil industrialist as a villain, they ended up with Dominic Greene, generally considered one of the most boring Bond villains in the series' history; and in trying to tell a simpler story, they wound up with a largely by-the-numbers revenge story with a subplot about hoarding a country's water thrown in.
      • Skyfall got similarly rave reviews for managing to bring much of the fun of 1960s-era Bond to The New '10s, balancing out some of the grittier elements of Craig's previous outings by resurrecting some old series favorites. The return of the original Aston Martin DB5, complete with machine guns and ejector seat, was widely applauded by fans, as was the return of Q and Moneypenny. But in spite of its homages to the series' past, it also wasn't afraid to shake up the status quo by killing off M and exploring Bond's childhood with the visit to Skyfall manor. Its followup, Spectre, kept those same trends going, but it was widely criticized for sloppily handling the return of the SPECTRE organization, and its attempt to reintroduce Ernst Stavro Blofeld as Bond's evil stepbrother has proven to be much more divisive. While Skyfall's odes to the past were seen as a good way to complement a genuinely interesting story with a strong antagonist, Spectre has been accused of leaning too strongly on them to round out a weak plot hinging almost entirely on old faces.
    • While Craig's films have gotten plenty of acclaim, their attempt to give Bond a definitive Origin Story has always been one of the most divisive things about them. Detractors of Casino Royale (2006) argued that it was an unnecessary Continuity Reboot in a series known for its very loose continuity, detractors of Quantum of Solace argued that it was needlessly weighed down by Bond's angst over losing Vesper Lynd, and a few people argued that Skyfall stripped Bond of much of his mystique by showing us his childhood home and introducing us to the man who raised him after his parents' death. In spite of all that, the movies generally had strong enough original plots that they could still stand on their own, and Bond remained as badass as ever (his relative inexperience was something of an Informed Attribute). But when Spectre tried to give the same Origin Story treatment to Ernst Stavro Blofeld—"explaining" that he and Bond grew up together, and that his hatred of Bond was a twisted case of Sibling Rivalry—detractors accused it of being an embarrassing case of Villain Decay that made it all but impossible to take the story seriously.
  • Jaws:
    • The original film, together with Star Wars two years later, has often been held by many old-guard (or at least highbrow) film critics with ushering in The Blockbuster Age of Hollywood and all of its worst excesses, killing off the New Hollywood era in the process. The makers of both films, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas respectively, both came from the same "film school geek" background that many of their New Hollywood contemporaries came from, but their films were made with a far more populist orientation, telling simple plots of "men vs. shark" or "plucky resistance vs. The Empire". The difference was in the artistry they put into telling those seemingly simple stories, elevating them into classic tales that still garner the respect of those who watch them. Years later, even Spielberg and Lucas themselves had grown disillusioned with the trends that their films had kicked off, predicting that they would lead in time to Hollywood's downfall.
    • The original film used some pretty heavy Artistic License regarding shark behavior in the name of Rule of Scary, portraying the Great White Shark as lurking in the shallows of a heavily populated beach town and repeatedly preying on humans—even though real sharks find humans unappetizing because of their low fat-to-muscle ratio, and a large Great White would find such shallow waters far too confining.note  The end result made for a highly effective horror film, but it relied on portraying the shark as more of an ethereal monster than a realistic predatory animal.note  The sequels took that idea to its logical conclusion. Jaws 2 introduced the idea of a shark taking revenge against Martin Brody and his family for killing the original shark, though to the film's credit, it's quickly dismissed by a scientist who tells Brody that "Sharks don't take things personally." Then Jaws: The Revenge treated the idea dead seriously, stretching Willing Suspension of Disbelief to the breaking point.
  • George A. Romero's Living Dead Series.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • After Peter Jackson's trilogy debuted, the general consensus of them were that they were the best potential LOTR adaptations that the books were likely to get. Some criticism was directed at the overly long ending(s), but they were mostly joked about than harshly derided. When Jackson's King Kong (2005) came around, consensus also was that it was great, but that Jackson might have overdone the homage to the original a tad, resulting in the film being much longer and more padded than it should be. Then when Jackson returned to Middle-earth with The Hobbit, enthusiasm for them dipped upon the announcement that it would be split into three films, despite the book being shorter than any of the Lord of the Rings books. The resulting films have been highly divisive, with many criticisms directed at the over-length of the story being stuffed full of unnecessary padding, most of which was designed to connect the films even closer to The Lord of the Rings than before.
    • In Lord of the Rings, Jackson notably played up the roles of Arwen and Eowyn and put some more focus on romance. Though not everyone liked it, it did help give the films a strong Periphery Demographic among girls and women. Their success was likely the inspiration behind Tauriel being created wholecloth for The Hobbit, and the addition of a Love Triangle between her, Kili, and Legolas (who himself isn't in the book). Said love triangle became one of the film's most criticized aspects.
    • It was fairly evident in The Lord of the Rings that Jackson was more interested in the story of the War of the Ring than in Frodo's journey as the Ringbearer, which had the side effect of playing up the violent spectacle and making Frodo noticeably more passive. But for the most part, it was just a question of focusing on stuff that was already there, and it's easy to understand why one would think epic fantasy battles would be more crowdpleasing than some hobbits wandering around. Fundamentally, Lord of the Rings is half about an epic war permanently affecting the world's status quo and half about a personal journey and the accompanying struggles, so showing off the battles made perfect sense for a blockbuster movie approach. In The Hobbit, though, they were adapting something that was in no way a war story and almost entirely a personal journey, but still tried to give it the same level of action as its predecessor. Consequently, battles and events that took up a few sentences or happened offscreen get expanded into significant chunks of the film, to the point of adding in new characters just to partake in ridiculous action scenes. The result almost completely compromises both the narrative of the original and most of the agency and screentime of the story's actual main characters. It reaches the point of the titular character being given almost nothing to do in the last film, to the point that he barely even fights in the titular battle—in both versions, he gets knocked out and misses most of the Battle of the Five Armies, but in the book, it's about three pages long, while in the film, it's essentially the entire last half.
    • The expanding and lionizing of elven characters started in Lord of the Rings, with an entire plotline being added involving an intervention at Helm's Deep that wasn't in the book, and Legolas being given a few over-the-top action setpieces. This got some grumbling from purists, but it was largely under control and never overshadowed the actual narrative. The latter two Hobbit films, though, went so far as to add in multiple elven main characters and elf-focused plotlines and scenes, in a narrative where the elves were originally nowhere near as important, turning them into a massive Spotlight-Stealing Squad that somehow still felt completely pointless.
    • One of the criticism about the Hobbit films is that not only is a lot of action added, but much of it involves cartoonishly over the top stunts. LOTR indulged in a bit of this too, like when Legolas surfed on a shield in battle. However, The Hobbit had entire "toon physics" action sequences that were quite long and went far past what LOTR did: most notably, the barrel-riding scene, where the dwarves bounce around in barrels like they're made of rubber and seem to be impervious to all damage. While nobody was exactly asking for historical realism with these films (because you know, they're fantasy), it's hard to take a bunch of dwarves floating down a river in barrels while fighting off orcs with said barrels seriously, especially when the movie then tries to do gritty war drama. Even the more cartoonish stuff would be reasonable in light of the book, which did have a fairly comedic and lighthearted tone, but it clashes horribly when, for instance, the end of that barrel scene involves Kili getting shot by an arrow, being crippled for the rest of the film by it, and almost dying in melodramatic fashion.
  • Mad Max:
    • Mad Max: Fury Road was a smash hit that was acclaimed as one of the best action movies of the 2010s, but it also caught flak from people asking "why is this even a Mad Max film?" and complaining about the fact that Max was just there to put on the poster for what was essentially Furiosa's story. But Max being a Supporting Protagonist was actually a tradition that started in Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, where Max was just a hired hand in a story about a tribe of wastelanders and a gang of raiders. Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome was literally a Dolled-Up Installment, and likewise more about the orphans than it was about Max. But in Fury Road, there was a single individual, Furiosa, who clearly had better claim to the protagonist slot than Max, and that led to the complaints of Max "just being there." Furthermore, previous films were about Max showing up and helping someone else's struggle, with him still indisputably the main character, while in Fury Road, Max is helpless and doesn't actually accomplish anything until the second act. What's also odd is that his first actual active role in the movie is getting into a brutal fight with Furiosa, who then inexplicably trusts him to save all of her charges like she recognizes he's a protagonist too.
    • The fact that at the time Furiosa was played by a more famous celebrity than the one playing Max may explain why the spotlight was also taken away from him. But this had already happened in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, with Auntie played by a bigger celebrity than the actor playing Max (at the time of filming, at least), and one who was famous in a field different from acting, at that. Granted, Beyond Thunderdome is also considered a divisive film in the series.
    • Going beyond just the series, Fury Road can also be looked at as the start of the trend of recent Hollywood reboots to go for a much more feminist approach, which many have criticized as being Anvilicious and overtly pandering to potential female audiences at the exclusion of the original fanbases (with even several female viewers taking issue at this). At the time, it was highly acclaimed for portraying a staunchly feminist message in a film franchise primarily aimed at a male audience, showcasing strong female protagonists not defined by their relationship to male leads, taking down what can be read as an allegory for a toxic patriarchy, and having a female heroine be the one who truly drives the plot. Thing is though, the film's feminist themes were kept in the background, merely serving as window dressing for a relatively simply action film (George Miller has even stated that he didn't intend to make a feminist film, just a story about survivors escaping a dystopic regime). And while the main characters were predominately female, with the main villains all being men, the movie still included two well-done male heroes in Max and Nux who also contributed greatly to the story and action setpieces (to the point that one can argue that they are the cause for the heroines getting their well deserved happy ending), alongside showing the villains' way of life as being just as detrimental to the men in the society as it was to the women, so it never felt one-sided towards a particular group, and still satisfied the male fans in the audience. When later films such as Ghostbusters (2016), Ocean's 8, Terminator: Dark Fate, Charlie's Angels (2019), and Black Christmas (2019) tried to do similar things, they were widely accused of going too far with their feminist overtones to the detriment of the story, not helped by the male characters in the series being portrayed as bumbling or outright toxic compared to the heroines (or in the case of Dark Fate, having the previous male protagonist, John Connor, killed off to make way for a female named Dani Ramos to take the place of his role as a revolutionary leader in a Bad Future).
  • The Matrix:
    • The original film is still widely cited as one of the greatest science-fiction movies ever made, but it also suffers from some inconsistencies in its lore and concepts, which sometimes flit between science-fiction and fantasy with little rhyme or reason. It's ostensibly a hard cyberpunk film about Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence, and the characters' "superpowers" are supposedly justified by the fact that they can bend the rules of the Matrix by manipulating its code—but the story also plays The Chosen One trope completely straight, with Neo supposedly being a reincarnation of a legendary Messianic Archetype with genuine mystical abilities; not to mention that "The Oracle" is apparently a computer program who can accurately predict the future, and the movie ends with Neo returning to life after being shot to death. Many of the plot points didn't really hold up under scrutiny, but the film was so tightly structured and well-acted that they never broke Willing Suspension of Disbelief, and the story still worked perfectly fine as a thrilling riff on The Hero's Journey.

      In the sequels, though, it was a bit harder to overlook. This was partly because the fantastical elements were considerably more explicit: The Matrix Reloaded has Neo seeing visions of the future and telepathically shorting out Sentinels while in the real world, and The Matrix Revolutions features Agent Smith possessing a living human and Neo developing psychic sight after being blinded. They weren't exactly less plausible than anything in the first movie—but since many of them happened in the real world, it was harder to Hand Wave them by saying "That's just how the Matrix works!" It also didn't help that the story became a lot denser and less emotionally engaging, making the inconsistent mythology stick out much more.
    • Josh Friedman, creator of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, alleged that The Matrix also had this effect on cinematic and television science fiction as a whole, producing a greater focus on action and special effects at the expense of story and characterization. Daniel Dockery of Cracked has voiced similar opinionsnote , in particular blaming it for the proliferation of bad Wire Fu and CGI stuntwork in Hollywood action movies in the early '00s. Whereas The Wachowskis went out of their way to get it right, hiring legendary Hong Kong fight choreographer Yuen Woo-Ping to do the fight scenes and having the cast train with him for four months, many Matrix imitators simply settled for putting actors with no martial arts experience into wire harnesses and having them do physics-defying stunts, which inevitably looked goofy.
  • The rise of Miramax Films is often cited as a major contributor to the much-maligned advent of Oscar Bait at the Turn of the Millennium, but some of the warning signs for the trend could be seen even back in the studio's glory days in the 1990s. Back then, cinephiles praised Bob and Harvey Weinstein for supporting promising independent filmmakers like Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarantino, and Steven Soderbergh, who gave us beloved '90s Cult Classics like Clerks, Pulp Fiction, and sex, lies, and videotape. However, even though those films were widely praised for their originality and experimentation, they could be thrilling, funny, and irreverent at the same time, and dipped into action and comedy as often as they dipped into drama.

    Unfortunately, their success also planted the idea that having a film win critical acclaim and clean house at awards shows could rake in just as much money as having it open big at #1 its first weekend. The Weinsteins would essentially build their entire business model on that premise, with some very controversial behind-the-scenes efforts devoted to ensuring that their films got recognized at the Academy Awards. The English Patient and Shakespeare in Love ended up winning Best Picture over Fargo and Saving Private Ryan thanks to those efforts, resulting in two of the most controversial Award Snubs in the history of the Oscars. To make matters worse, plenty of other studios proved eager to beat Miramax at its own game, producing a slew of depressing, ambitious, and self-consciously "weighty" dramas during the winter months designed to pander to the tastes of film critics and Academy voters (specifically, the "old guard" whose formative cinematic experiences came in the '60s and '70s), which often wound up just as hollow and formulaic as the crowd-pleasing blockbusters released during the summer months. In the modern age of the Oscars, "genre" films are all but excluded from upper-tier awards for Directing, Writing, and Acting, and you can nearly always tell when a studio is banking on an Oscar by watching for the obligatory scenes devoted to showing off an actor's range.

    Lindsay Ellis puts the origin of Oscar bait further back, citing The Deer Hunter as the first film to use its award success to fuel its financial success rather than the other way around. It pioneered the release tactic employed by many later Oscar bait films (a limited release in Los Angeles to meet the barest minimum requirements for nomination, then opening in wide release after it had the hype of an Oscar nod behind it), giving a big boost to a critically-acclaimed yet difficult-to-market film, one that other studios took notice of in the years to come.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street:
    • By the time of its self-destruction with the sixth film, Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, the series had fallen into almost literal Self-Parody, with Freddy Krueger a comedian first and a killer second, while the kills lacked any real sense of tension or fear in favor of serving as special-effects showcases. The overarching plot had also become needlessly complex, with Freddy developing a backstory that stripped away his mystique.note  All of these elements can be traced back to the third film in the series, Dream Warriors, generally regarded as the best of the Nightmare sequels and even a rival to the original by some fans. Here, Freddy first began to take on his jokester persona, but he was still Faux Affably Evil, his twisted sense of humor only getting under his victims' — and the viewers' — skin that much more. The kills were amped up compared to the first two films, but if anything, this served to demonstrate just how powerful Freddy was, emphasizing that, within the dream world, he was practically a god who could bend reality to his whims. As for his developing backstory, well, "the bastard son of a hundred maniacs" is still an unforgettable line.
    • Entertain the Elk identified another Original Sin in the fourth film, The Dream Master, the first entry in which Freddy's motivation was no longer to get revenge on the parents who killed him by going after their children. After killing off the last of the Elm Street children in the first act of The Dream Master, Freddy no longer had a clear goal beyond just killing for the sake of it, and so the plots and characters in the films became increasingly paper-thin, little more than excuses to get to the inventive kills and dream sequences. While The Dream Master is still remembered as a better film than the ones that followed, there's a reason why Nightmare fans debate whether it was the last good film in the series or the first bad one.
    • While Freddy vs. Jason more or less met the approval of fans of both the Nightmare and Friday the 13th series, Nightmare fans have criticized it for the fact that Jason Voorhees racks up most of the kills, with Freddy only really coming into play in the third act while serving as The Man Behind the Man before then. (In fact, the reason Freddy gets angry at Jason to begin with is because Jason steals one of Freddy's kills.) This is simply a reflection of both franchises as a whole, where Jason often had much higher body counts whereas Freddy typically had fewer kills, but much more elaborate dream sequences and special effects.note  Putting the two together turned out to be an asymmetrical battle owing to their radically different methods of killing their targets.
  • While Pacific Rim was was widely acclaimed by fans of mecha and kaiju, some did criticize it for what was perceived as it taking excessive inspiration from Neon Genesis Evangelion. This mostly died out due to the fact that this inspiration was mostly used as homage, alongside references and homages to numerous other mecha anime and kaiju movies. The sequel Pacific Rim: Uprising, however, rested a bit more excessively on Evangelion: not only was its plot a multi-level mixture of the arcs of Bardiel, the Jet Alone, the Mass Produced EVA, and Ritsuko's brief rebellion, but its climax reveals that the Kaijus were trying to reach Tokyo to cause a disaster that would terminate humanity, just like the Third Impact plot point, a reveal that notably contradicts their established behavior in the previous film.
  • One of the most common critiques of The Phantom of the Opera (2004) was the reveal of the Phantom's true face, which many found laughable due to the apparent Informed Deformity, comparing his freakish birth defect to a bad sunburn or possibly an allergic reaction. In truth, adaptations of the story had been giving him some level of Adaptational Attractiveness for a while (even Lon Chaney, generally seen as the standard for an "ugly" Phantom, wasn't quite as nightmarish as the character described in the book), and it was often remarked by fans that he seemed to be getting Progressively Prettier. The Broadway musical upon which the film is based also put a pretty hard cap on how deformed the Phantom could be. The iconic "half mask" (originally designed to not get in the way of the microphone) meant that at most, only about a third of the Phantom's face could be deformed, and that's before you take stage makeup budgets into account. The 2004 film was just the breaking point, because not only does The Reveal have a ton of buildup in-story, even featuring wild Dutch angles when it kicks in properly, but considering that this was a big Hollywood blockbuster, there was really no reason to not go all-out and give him a properly hideous face, especially when this would likely be many people's first exposure to the character—and they were treated to arguably the least terrifying Phantom in cinema history.
  • While the final three The Pink Panther movies (not counting the 2006 remake and its sequel) are frequently criticized for their reliance on questionably funny Running Gags, outdated racial stereotypes, and over-the-top humor more suited to the Pink Panther cartoons than their live-action cousins. In actual fact, most of these began during 1978's Revenge of the Pink Panther, the last one generally regarded as being any good. As to why Revenge works and most of the subsequent ones didn't, most fans have one simple answer: Peter Sellers was still alive.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl featured elements that hurt the sequels: Jack Sparrow stealing the show from Will and Elizabeth, the nominal leads; characters (well, Jack and Barbossa) double-crossing each other; a balance of light-hearted comedy and serious action and drama; a climax that even many fans felt lasted a few beats too long. In Black Pearl, these elements were well-integrated and added to the appeal. For Dead Man's Chest and especially At World's End, these elements were cranked Up to Eleven as the tone degenerated to full-on Mood Whiplash (say, juxtaposing Jack's slapstick antics with mass hangings and Davy Jones's undead crew), every character developed Chronic Backstabbing Disorder and the plot amounted to a colossal Gambit Pile Up that left many viewers without anyone to root for. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides fixed the problem by embracing it, and reworking the franchise to focus on the pirates instead: Without an ostensibly clean-cut protagonist like Will or Elizabeth, the film could maintain a more consistent mood and characterization, and the backstabbing seemed much less obnoxious when the film was about Black-and-Gray Morality from the very beginning.
  • Later films in the Predator franchise have been criticized for the Monster Threat Expiration given to the Predators, a trend that reached its nadir in Predators: two of the movie's three Predators die fairly quickly, despite having advantages the Jungle Hunter didn't such as "hunting hounds" and UAV surveillance, being more ruthless than him, and spending the movie hunting less competent and dangerous "quarry" (a random assembly of criminals and soldiers — some of them poorly-armed and one of whom has no combat background — who didn't trust each other rather than a mostly-cohesive group of elite mercenaries). This trend actually got its start in the second movie. Harrigan is an average and somewhat paunchy cop with no military experience who manages to kill the City Hunter in personal combat. This stands in stark contrast with Dutch, an experienced ex-special forces operative with a bodybuilder's physique who was clearly outmatched by the Jungle Hunter and only managed to kill him with his wits and well-placed booby traps. However, unlike later installments, the movie went to some lengths to justify this. The City Hunter was established to be more reckless and careless than the Jungle Hunter (with Word of God confirming that he was also significantly younger and less experienced), and it's implied he didn't do better because he'd already been shot multiple times by the time of the final confrontation as a consequence of said recklessness and carelessness. Moreover, he'd earlier managed to showcase his badass credentials by slaughtering multiple police officers and gangsters, so he didn't seem like a pushover even when the tables were turned against him. As for Harrigan, part of why he won was because he'd managed to turn one of the City Hunter's own weapons against him, and the area of the city he has to police is an Urban Hellscape that garners in-universe comparisons to a war zone, so his victory still seemed plausible enough.
  • The excesses of the RoboCop sequels could be traced back to the original film. The original film was a dark satire of 1980s consumerism with graphic violencenote , goofy elements like a military-grade robot that can't go down stairs, and a scathing anti-capitalist message. However, it was still respected by many film critics for balancing its extremes with an existential examination of the titular character's humanity and maintaining moral ambiguity by painting the villainous corporate executives as fleshed-out characters instead of strawmen. However, the sequels doubled down on different aspects of the original while ignoring the nuances that made the first film so admirable. RoboCop 2 exaggerated the violence at the expense of the protagonist's humanity while also having children as violent drug dealers who end up getting brutally killed, RoboCop 3 added ninjas and had military machines that can be hacked by children, and the 2014 reboot had anvilicious jabs at right-wing politics, with Samuel L. Jackson playing an exaggerated caricature of a Fox News pundit. Needless to say, none of them lived up to the original film, as they only carried exaggerated superficial aspects of the first installment but none of its wit, humanity, or depth.
  • The flaws that built to a fever pitch in Rocky IV (overuse of montages, implausible fight scenes, schmaltz, lionizing Rocky) were mostly present in earlier films. In particular, the first film featured a pretty believable fight (Rocky was lucky and determined, Apollo was playing, caught off-guard, and still won), which became less believable in the second film (Rocky was still injured, Apollo had been training for months), but it didn't seem impossible. In Rocky III, Clubber Lang losing to Rocky was seriously stretching it, given that Lang was younger, taller, heavier, and tougher than Apollo while Rocky was significantly older, but he at least had something resembling a character and was within the realm of possibility. By Rocky IV, the main villain has no personality and appears to be physically superhuman while Rocky had only gotten older, abandoning any semblance of down-to-earth realism as a thirty-nine-year-old goes fifteen rounds with a cartoonish muscleman who should be able to knock his head off his shoulders in a single punch, no matter how many trees he cuts down.
  • Going beyond a franchise or even a genre, Saving Private Ryan has been blamed for the rampant abuse of color correction in Hollywood in the '00s and '10s, with filmmakers and editors washing the color out of their films for the sake of 'realism'. The thing is, Steven Spielberg used that type of desaturation in Saving Private Ryan not to make the film look more realistic, but conversely, to make it look more stylized — he was specifically angling for the look of old World War II newsreel footage, not real life. His gifts as a director, however, caused Saving Private Ryan to become the new standard for a gritty, realistic war movie, and its look was frequently copied over the years out of a misguided sense that Real Is Brown.
  • As noted in this article, the first film in the Saw franchise had two Signature Scenes that, in hindsight, foreshadowed the problems that plagued the series in its later installments.
    • The first was the 'reverse bear trap' scene. The Saw sequels' reputation as the Trope Codifier for Torture Porn is so infamous that few people realize just how light on blood the first film actually was, with many a Gory Discretion Shot instead of a gushing arterial spray. The Jigsaw killer's death traps were modest in scope, such as being forced to crawl through razor wire, walk barefoot over broken glass, or cut one's foot off in order to escape being locked away forever. The reverse bear trap was among the few exceptions, relying on intricate machinery to tear open the victim's jaw, but even then, it was a small contraption that a skilled engineer (like the Jigsaw killer, who was established as a Gadgeteer Genius through his creation of this device) could build in his spare time — and furthermore, the scene ended with the intended victim Amanda escaping from the trap rather than being subjected to its graphic punchline. There was also the 'drill chair' in the same film, but again, not only was the device a comparatively simple one and its intended victim rescued, but it was portrayed as an experimental design on Jigsaw's part, as he refers to the victim as a test subject.

      Overall, the reverse bear trap scene didn't factor much into the plot (Amanda's importance came entirely in the sequels), but it was still a standout moment that was prominently featured on the posters, and so the sequels decided to up the ante. The Serial Escalation wasn't too bad in the second film, but by the third it had begun to stretch Willing Suspension of Disbelief as to just how a lone nutjob was able to build these overly-complicated clockwork monstrosities that often took up entire rooms, with the "angel trap" that ripped out a victim's ribcage being the tipping point for many. The fact that the new killers taking on the Jigsaw mantle after John Kramer's death weren't engineers like he was, instead being a recovering junkie, a police detective, and a medical doctor, only strained credibility further. Furthermore, the reverse bear trap was the first trap in the series where somebody had to die, as the only way for Amanda to escape was to cut open another person's stomach to retrieve the key. Jigsaw's original motivation (punishing people he deemed to be wasting their lives, but also giving them a chance to survive and redeem themselves) was lost as later films had far more traps that were either inescapable, required one of the participants to kill the other to survive, or left the victims with no agency and required somebody else to save them. The inescapable traps were initially justified by the new killers deviating from the original plan and seeking to outright murder those they judged unworthy, but even this motivation was eventually abandoned as Amanda was killed off and Hoffman became a proper apprentice of John Kramer's. By the fourth film, it was well-established that the reason people saw these movies wasn't to be scared, but rather, to be amazed at what twisted death traps they'd come up with next.
    • The second was the Twist Ending. The Reveal that the seemingly dead man in the middle of the room was not only still alive, but was in fact the Jigsaw killer didn't really have much of an effect on the plot once you thought about it, especially given the more important reveal in that scene concerning Zepp, but it worked at its intended goal of shocking the audience, and when paired with Charlie Clouser's downright epic "Hello Zepp" theme, it became another great moment. The plot twists in the second and third films were better-integrated into their stories, but they also gave the series a reputation for a complex, overarching storyline. Once Lionsgate elected to keep the series going over the wishes of its creators (who wanted to end the series at #3), the Myth Arc went from complex to convoluted as new twists and killers were piled on in the sequels, while the original motive of the Jigsaw killer was slowly forgotten. Perhaps the increasing levels of gorn were an attempt to compensate for The Chris Carter Effect...
  • The Scary Movie films were horror parodies that always had a problem with sticking to the "horror" part. The first film had scenes spoofing The Matrix, The Usual Suspects, and Budweiser's "whassup?" ads, while the second had gags riffing on Charlie's Angels (2000), the Mission: Impossible films, and an ad campaign for Nike sneakers. In those films, however, these were only minor gags that had little bearing on the films' actual plots; the first was clearly a parody of the teen slasher movies of the late '90s, while the second was just as clearly a parody of supernatural horror. The third film, on the other hand, had a whole subplot that served as a parody of 8 Mile, and the targets of mockery were drawn more from pop culture as a whole than from horror movies specifically. Diminishing returns set in quick.
  • Twins was this for Arnold Schwarzenegger. Dropping the Hollywood Action Hero into a PG-rated buddy comedy turned out to be a stroke of genius that earned him the biggest payday of his career, putting him on a Lighter and Softer track that would lead to a similar hit in Kindergarten Cop and to Terminator 2: Judgment Day pairing him with John Connor as a Tagalong Kid sidekick. As the movies were still good, it was okay, especially giving that he was playing Straight Man roles that sent up his superhuman screen persona. Before long, however, it would lead to Last Action Hero, Junior, Jingle All the Way, and Batman & Robin, which gave the action icon a serious case of Badass Decay and made it much harder for audiences to take him seriously.
  • In addition to its post-modern parody of slasher movies, the Scream series was also known for having a surprisingly strong focus on characterization for the genre it was in. Everybody had their own backstories and motivations, all the better to create red herrings and make viewers question who the killer was. In the third film, however, this turned against the series in a number of important ways.
    • The first problem was in how it tied everything back to the series' heroine Sidney. In the first two films, the lead killer out of the Big Bad Duumvirate had some personal connection to Sidney, but writer Kevin Williamson made sure to tie it to information that had already been revealed or otherwise implied in the story. In the first film, it was so heavily hinted that one particular character was the killer that the fact that they weren't a Red Herring was a twist in its own right, while in the second, the killer was never seen with anybody who might recognize them. Furthermore, the backstory was secondary to the whodunit mystery at the center of the film; the most important question in both films always concerned Ghostface's identity. The third film's plot, on the other hand, revolved entirely around Sidney's family backstory, and the killer's motivation hinged on familial relations that weren't even hinted at for that character before The Reveal. Many fans blame new writer Ehren Kruger, who had a very different understanding of the characters, for the third film's sequelitis, as well as a Troubled Production that saw substantial rewrites, including a different killer.
    • Related to the above, Ghostface's identity was often played as a Plot Twist, especially when concerning the lead killer. The third film used similar tricks to the first two films to disguise the killer's identity and shock the audience, but it was widely criticized for using a Shocking Swerve for The Reveal.
      • A criticism of the third film's lead killer was how he faked his own death to avoid suspicion by the protagonists and the audience. Not only does this criticism apply to the first film as well, said film was praised for using this twist. The difference was that the first film had the subsequent revelation that there were two killers, which answered the question of how the killer managed to pull that trick off. In addition, none of the protagonists ever checked Billy's "dead" body in the first film, unlike the third film, in which Gale checked Roman's "corpse" and confirmed that the body was in fact dead.note  Thus, when the third film revealed that Roman wasn't actually dead and was the sole Ghostface, many viewers felt cheated.
      • As mentioned before, most viewers criticized the killer's secret familial connection to Sidney, a criticism that also applied to Scream 2, where the killer had a secret familial connection to the first film's killer and was operating under a disguise. Nevertheless, the reveal was more acceptable for several reasons. For one, Mrs. Loomis was a mentioned albeit unseen character in the first film, whereas the killer's relationship with Sidney in the third film was a retcon. Furthermore, the second film hinted multiple times that Billy's mother was one of the killers, meaning that savvy viewers would be on the lookout for a middle-aged woman, a description under which "Debbie Salt" fell, not to mention that Gale did recognize Debbie Salt as a familiar face upon first glance. While the third film hinted similarly that Sidney's half-sibling was the killer, said description was unhelpful in identifying the killer, and the film never gave clues that Roman was the half-sibling in question, which then led to accusations of a Shocking Swerve upon the unmasking.
    • Finally, there was the specific plot element of the murder of Maureen Prescott, Sidney's mother who had been killed a year prior to the events of the original film over her promiscuous and adulterous ways. Even many fans regard this aspect of the backstory as carrying a strong tinge of Slut-Shaming, though it's generally agreed that the quality of The Reveal helped temper the Unfortunate Implications, particularly with how the lead killer was portrayed as a complete and utter psychopath who was just using Maureen as an excuse to kill people. The third film made Maureen the focus of most of the plot, and with that film's drop in quality, it was a lot harder to ignore, even with Sidney's immensely gratifying Shut Up, Hannibal! moment during The Reveal.
    • As for the TV adaptation, that show returning to the well of relying on the Final Girl's family backstory likewise became one of its most highly criticized aspects. While the Brandon James storyline in season 1 lacked the Unfortunate Implications of the Maureen Prescott storyline from the films, it was still seen as a retread of many of the most unpopular plot elements of Scream 3, this time without even a decent performance from the actor playing the killer. This may be why, despite season 2 ending on a cliffhanger, season 3, titled Scream: Resurrection, was a full Continuity Reboot with a new cast and show runners.
  • Many of Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg's trademark writing traits (shallow, narrow parodies depending more on references and audience recognition than actually making fun of the target, regardless of how well the reference works with the movie itself) are fully visible in their earlier, funnier movies, Spy Hard (which was barely saved by some of its clever bits, including its theme song by "Weird Al" Yankovic) and Scary Movie (which was saved by having four other writers, including the Wayans Brothers at the height of their careers). Then the duo dived headfirst into directing their own movies, with every problem that plagued the last two movies amped Up to Eleven. Worse, the box-office success of their movies caused other parody films to start copying their style, plunging the entire genre into a Dork Age in the '00s and eventual near-extinction in the '10s.
  • At the time of The Sixth Sense, M. Night Shyamalan didn't have any reputation to speak of, so nobody saw the film's Twist Ending coming. The problem came when Shyamalan started relying on twist endings in his films, a problem that first became apparent with Signs, generally considered the last film of his that's any good. By the time of The Village, viewers had learned to see it coming, and his reputation and the quality of his films suffered for it.
    • Shyamalan's early films were characterized by slow pacing, restrained and unemotional acting, a greater emphasis on creating rarefied atmospheres, and dialogue that often felt unnatural. That worked since they were suspense and horror films, however when he was commissioned to direct The Last Airbender, a fantasy and adventure film that stands out for its humor and spectacular fights, those features became serious defects.
  • One of the principal reasons Spider-Man 3 is the least liked in the original Spider-Man Trilogy is because it was too goofy (the most commonly cited moment being the "Emo Dancing Peter" sequence), but the trilogy had always been pretty goofy: outsized and hammy personalities, cheesy action sequences, and a lot of moments that were deliberately going full Bathos. While there were a lot of heartfelt and emotional dramatic beats, the overall tone was very much "comic book come to life." However, the advertisements for the film very much played up the Darker and Edgier imagery and seemed to be promising a hefty amount of angst, which made the goofy bits stick out a lot harder. Furthermore, Spider-Man 3's plot ended up being notoriously cluttered due to featuring three villains with independent character arcs, Peter and MJ's relationship going south again, and the issues with the black suit—consequently, many of those moments ended up underserved, the dramatic beats didn't stick, and the audience only remembered Emo Dancing Peter.
  • Superman:
    • Superman: The Movie and its sequels suffered from this with Superman II noticeably adding more campiness and more New Powers as the Plot Demands, the third one just made it worse, and then the fourth one... happened and broke the Willing Suspension of Disbelief.
    • One major critique of Batman v Superman is that Superman ends up coming off as a Pinball Protagonist; his role in the story is very reactive, his motivations are undefined and underexplored, and he has significantly less dialogue or development than Batman or Luthor. These complaints could be found in the somewhat less controversial Man of Steel, where most of Superman's pivotal choices are either things he has to do (killing Zod) or effectively made for him (Jor-El makes the costume for him and gives him his mission), he's largely silent for big chunks of the movie, and his actual reason for being a hero is pretty messily-established. It can even in turn can be traced to the first third of Superman: The Movie, where Clark is instinctively drawn to the Artic by a Kryptonian crystal and generates the Fortress of Solitude with it, with a hologram of Jor-El giving him his mission and training him mentally for over a decade, after which he first appears in costume.note  It just wasn't as obvious an issue in Superman: The Movie or Man of Steel because Superman was still the undisputed protagonist and therefore had to be given stuff to do or choices to make, rather than having to actively fight for room against Batman.
    • The at-best controversial reception of Zod's death in Man of Steel goes back to Superman II, where Superman also (in most cuts, anyway) kills Zod. If anything, it was less defensible there, since the Man of Steel Zod was still dangerous and it was the only way to stop him, while the Superman II Zod was depowered and already defeated, and Superman is clearly horrified and disgusted by what he's done in the former and triumphantly smiling in the latter. Plenty of Superman fans would argue it didn't work back then, either (Superman's frequent jerkishness in that film is easily the most common complaint about it), but it didn't end up being as infamous because while the original Zod death was a Disney Villain Death (to the point that it's ambiguous if he even died or just fell somewhere to be imprisoned, as in some cuts), the Man of Steel Zod was killed by a Neck Snap with considerably more focus placed on it, meaning it left far more of an impression and made Superman himself come off as brutal, despite the fact that it was the only way to save the innocent family Zod nearly killed with heat vision. The far grittier tone of Man of Steel didn't help, either.
    • The depiction of Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman was roundly panned, with many fans in particular claiming that Jesse Eisenberg's jokey Large Ham portrayal of the character was ill-fitting and more suitable for someone like The Riddler or The Joker. This is yet another element that can be traced back to the Christopher Reeve films, where Gene Hackman very much played Lex as a jokester and could be quite campy at times. The main difference is that the Reeve movies were lighthearted enough that Hackman's performance didn't seem out of place, and the first two installments were so well-liked by critics and audiences that even those who didn't care for Luthor were more forgiving. Furthermore, Hackman seemed to be channeling James Bond villains with his performance, Hollywood's go-to reference point for the kind of comic book supervillain that Lex Luthor is, and not only was it easy for audiences to picture a Bond villain as a Worthy Opponent for Superman, but Hackman's performance stacked up well by that measure. By contrast, the extremely dark and bleak tone of Batman v Superman just highlighted how odd Eisenberg's performance was, with many finding it quite jarring and irritating — the revelation that he pees in jars even became something of a memetic counterpoint to those who claimed the film as mature and philosophical. The fact that Eisenberg seemed to be channeling Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight also invited unwelcome comparisons to that film, especially since his Luthor had little in common with the Joker otherwise. Finally, the Reeve films came out decades before Superman: The Animated Series, Lois & Clark, and Smallville, all of which helped cement the popular image of Luthor as a cunning and charismatic businessman and a scientific Übermensch who would probably have fit better into the story that Zack Snyder was trying to tell.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) often gets flack for making April the focus of the story, though the film still centers around the turtles. The Turtles' personalities are well done, but they don't get much character development. Lacking Casey Jonesnote  and putting in a villain (Eric Sacks) who had nothing to do with any of the comics or cartoons prior to that point was a mitigating factor too. The thing is that this problem can be found all the way back in the 1990 original. As pointed out by CinemaSins, Raphael is the only turtle who gets a character arc of some sort, Leo gets some, and Donnie and Mikey don't get any at all. Plus, Danny, a minor character, had a sub-plot that while it did not take over the whole film, was an odd decision. The reason why it wasn't noticeable back then was due to it being the Turtles' first film, the hype surrounding it, and a well written story with great practical effects and action scenes. The sequel, Secret of the Ooze, tried to fix the character development issue by putting the focus on Donnie's arc note , but it never really goes anywhere. Turtles III and TMNT (2007) both featured villains that had nothing to do with the comics or cartoons, albeit, the latter had Karai with hints of Shredder returning in a sequel that was never made. As Karai had yet to debut in the comics when the first two films were made, Tatsu was created to be Shredder's right-hand man. Ooze had Tokka and Rahzar as expies for Bebop and Rocksteady, because Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman did not want them in the film. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, the sequel to the 2014 movie, attempted to fix that by dropping the Eric Sacks character entirely, adding in Bebop, Rocksteady, and Baxter Stockman (villains that have appeared in the cartoons or comics), and focusing on the Turtles themselves. Said sequel, while better than the previous film, still received a Rotten score and became a Box Office Bomb, so while the improvements helped it out, the upcoming reboot may have a lot to improve on.
  • Mark Harris' GQ article "The Day the Movies Died", while noting how many critics have blamed the aforementioned Jaws and Star Wars for the rise of the Lowest Common Denominator Summer Blockbuster, pegs its origin instead on Top Gun. The success of that film, he argues, paved the way for the PG-13 action flick aimed at teenage boys and young men to become the default "blockbuster" template, causing other genres that had produced blockbuster films in years past (horror, romance, non-action science fiction, smaller-scale family films) to be crowded out. As the studios hyper-focused on the stereotypical "young male" (i.e. a stereotypical fratbro) to the exclusion of everybody else, television was left with an open field to march in and claim all the women and older viewers who had found themselves abandoned by Hollywood marketers.
  • Transformers:
    • The main character, Sam Witwicky, was never a particularly well-liked character, but his use in the first film is generally seen as the only one where he was tolerable. While he had a lot of This Loser Is You traits, this was counterbalanced by the fact that he had some attempt at a character arc and even a few sincere moments that implied those traits were a passing thing. Later films not only kept those traits, but seemingly had him get worse, and gave him nowhere near as much as a clear arc in favor of him being a Pinball Protagonist, putting his increasingly unlikable personality in the spotlight. Eventually the later films got the hint, and he wound up disappearing after the third film, replaced as protagonist from the fourth film onward by Cade Yeager, and implied in a photograph cameo in the fifth film to have been Killed Offscreen.
    • Optimus Prime in the first film was involved in a few surprisingly brutal action scenes, including driving a sword through Bonecrusher's head, but these moments were fairly brief and mostly counterbalanced by his many thoughtful speeches that gave the impression that he wasn't just a killer. By the second film, though, said speeches are a lot rarer and seemingly every fight Prime gets in has at least one person having their head ripped apart while delivering lines that make it clear that he is revelling in it. The series didn't exactly improve in that respect from there, to the point that Prime has become the biggest Memetic Psychopath in the franchise.
    Optimus Prime: Give me your face!
    • The Transformers film series has gained a reputation as Lowest Common Denominator blockbuster for its shallow characters, gratuitous fanservice, and recycled story. However, while the first installment had these problems, audiences and critics were able to ignore them since the film did offer spectacle on an unseen scale that successfully masked most complaints. However, as the series progressed, the film's creators did nothing to improve the film's reputation and the spectacle proved less effective when newer films, most notably the Marvel Cinematic Universe, offered similar types of bombastic action while also providing better writing and characterization.
    • The films have been criticized for its needlessly sexualized portrayal of women most notably through Bay's use of the Male Gaze. However, although the female sexualization started with the first film's female lead Mikaela, most audiences were more forgiving since she is an actual character. As noted by Lindsay Ellis, Mikaela was written sympathetically with actual character depth as a Wrench Wench trying to atone for her criminal history, while also contributing to the plot. In contrast, the other female characters are depicted as eye candy for male viewers yet have none of Mikaela's charisma or Hidden Depths. Tessa from Age of Extinction is particularly hated by fans for being a whiny, bratty teen who doesn't actually contribute to the plot.
  • The films of Zack Snyder:
    • When 300 was released in 2007, it proved to be a huge hit with audiences, in large part because it pushed the use of uniquely stylized CGI like few movies before it ever had. It used computer animation to craft everything from environments to action sequences from the bottom up, creating a melodramatic spectacle that practically seemed to pop off the screen, evocative of both the art of the original graphic novel and the larger-than-life Greek epic poems that informed such. And even though it had many detractors at the time who criticized Snyder's Signature Style for being shallow and over-the-top, most people agreed that it was at least well-suited to a violent Sword & Sandal epic. note  Audiences weren't so forgiving when he applied largely the same style to his movie adaptation of Alan Moore's Watchmen, a graphic novel that's about as far from 300 on the Sliding Scale of Realistic vs. Fantastic as it's possible to be. Where 300 was an escapist war epic tinged with mythic fantasy, Watchmen is a nuanced, intergenerational drama with a cast of complex, morally ambiguous characters defined by their human frailties. Paired with a story like that, the flaws that were so easy to overlook in 300 — the unnecessary CGI environments, the distracting costumes and makeup, the gratuitous slow-motion, and the elaborate action sequences occasionally sidelining the plot — just become even more glaring, making it a lot harder to forgive Snyder for burying the novel's complex themes under a thick layer of flashy melodrama. It's also been argued that many of the elements that would later prove controversial during his tenure in the DCEU, such as the morally dubious (and sometimes outright unlikable) protagonists, bleak tone and upsetting acts of violence, can also be traced back to 300. The difference, again, largely stems from 300 being a bloody, gory historical war film where those things were to be expected, while a great many viewers did not appreciate those same elements when they were applied to DC's beloved stable of heroes.
    • And in turn, it can be argued (as it was by Bob Chipman) that the problems with Watchmen foreshadowed the problems with Snyder's work in the DC Extended Universe, particularly Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. While Snyder was able to preserve most of Moore's themes and ideas by making a literal adaptation, some of the changes that he did make heavily softened the themes and politics of the comic (namely making the fight scenes look cool rather than ugly and toning down the more unsavory character flaws like Rorschach's bigotry), and when added together, the changes made it seem as though Snyder questioned the intended message of the comic in favor of embracing the Darker and Edgier version of superheroes that it presented. note  Snyder's DCEU films, meanwhile, were widely criticized for just that, portraying an emotionally aloof Superman who doesn't seem to care about humanity and a Batman who uses guns and murders criminals (either straight-up or by proxy), and seeming to many critics and fans like the worst excesses of The Dark Age of Comic Books brought to life in big-budget blockbusters. Batman v. Superman in particular was criticized for borrowing the superficial elements of The Dark Knight Returns like Superman's exaggerated physique and Batman's absurd Bat-armor and playing everything straight in a dead serious light without capturing the satirical commentary of the original source material.
  • Disney Animated Canon:
    • Many of Disney's films from the second half of the 90's were criticized for not being faithful to the source material they were adapted from. However, if you go through the earlier entries in the Disney Animated Canon (including the earlier films of the Disney Renaissance), you'll find that most of the films that are adaptations play fast and loose with the source material, often employing Disneyfication. For example, The Little Mermaid (the film that started the Disney Renaissance) gave the original Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale a happy ending and turned the Sea Witch character into a villain, and Beauty and the Beast (the film considered by many to be the best film of the Renaissance) invented Gaston and turned the Beast into a hot-tempered antihero.note  The difference is that most of the earlier films were adaptations of stories that had been adapted and/or retold many times before, which made most people more forgiving of how loosely the source material was played with. Whereas the main flaw in this was applying said approach to actual history as well as more well known mythology and literature. For instance, Hercules received the most criticism in Greece where people are most familiar with the original myths, due to the disneyfication toning down the morally ambiguous natures of the Greek society and especially the Greek gods in favor of them being nicer, and using Adaptational Villainy on Hades, a more sympathetic Greek god by modern standards, to make him become a Satan-like character.
    • One could blame Aladdin for the Stunt Casting famous comedians as comedic side characters in Disney animated movies. Many at the time attributed Aladdin's financial success to the casting of Robin Williams as the Genie, which managed to attract mainstream audiences who would otherwise be indifferent toward animation.note  While some, including Williams himself, were frustrated with Disney overmarketing and overhyping the Genie, Williams's performance worked because the character was tailored specifically for the actor and the Genie's comedic schtick suited the film's light-hearted fantastical tone. However, Disney and other animation studios became seemed obsessed with the comic relief sidekick voiced by famous celebrity to the detriment of their films. Most notably, many criticized the casting of Jason Alexander as the gargoyle Hugo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, feeling that Alexander's performance as kid-friendly comic relief sidekick was an annoying distraction in a more serious movie involving hellfire and sexual imagery. Subsequently, several animation fans felt that this fad led to celebrities taking away roles away from professional voice actors and contributed to the stigma of animation being too childish and commercial.
    • The earliest of the Disney DTV sequels, Aladdin: The Return of Jafar, didn't get much hate upon its release - not because it was especially better than its later counterparts, but because it wasn't advertised as a true followup to Aladdin. It was more or less just a pilot for Aladdin: The Series, and seen as pretty good by the standards of a TV pilot. When Disney began churning out similar projects of even lesser quality, and then advertised them as the canon sequels for their most famous and beloved films (even releasing a handful of them in theaters), then the entire enterprise was condemned as an exercise in Sequelitis. Also many sequels suffered from poorer animation, which would be more forgivable in a pilot to a series with a smaller budget, but in the sequels was more noticeable. These came to an end for good when John Lasseter became the head of Disney and cancelled most of the sequels that weren't too far along in development, leaving only those that were nearing their release intact.
    • Many movies in the Disney Revival era, like Frozen (2013), Big Hero 6, and Zootopia are often criticized for overusing the premise of a Hidden Villain, with the The Reveal at the climax revolving around unmasking them. But when Wreck-It Ralph was the first movie to use it, it was one of the most praised aspects of the film at the time, as many longtime fans saw King Candy as a refreshing change of pace from past Card Carrying Villains in the Disney Animated Canon. The main reason Wreck It-Ralph was able to pull it off was because of several things it did that the other films didn't. First, it was pretty clear from the start that King Candy is not someone to be trusted. Second, there was subtle, but effective foreshadowing for the twist. Third, the twist centered on his identity and motivations, not the mere fact that he was a villain. And finally, The Reveal served a clear purpose in the narrative by revealing King Candy's true identity, Turbo, as an Evil Counterpart to Ralph. By contrast, Frozen (2013) has the Big Bad revealed near the end in such a way that makes his entire character do a 180 with barely any hintsnote  that his actions were going to be leading to this, and it happens so late that the only villainous thing he successfully does in the entire film is lock Anna in a room. Big Hero 6 and Zootopia have it more noticeable, as Rob Callaghan and Dawn Bellwether repeat the same story beats as Turbo: they are the Evil Counterparts, respectively, of Hiro Hamada (if he gave in to revenge) and Judy Hopps (if she gave into her prejudices), as he was for Ralph.
  • Dreamworks Animation first showed signs of their eventual 1st Dork Age in the mid 2000s in arguably their biggest success at the time Shrek, as it contained a lot of the elements that would end up reaching a fever pitch in their later pre-Kung Fu Panda films to their detriment (overusage of celebrity voice actors, massive amounts of contemporary pop culture references, and crude humor). However, these same elements worked in Shrek because, when combined together alongside a surprisingly strong and emotionally heartwarming story that also contained likeable and endearing characters worth rooting for, they allowed it to work as a then brilliant parody of the kind of films that the Disney Animated Canon had been making serious money on at the time. Unfortunately, things started going downhill for them when they tried to take those same comparatively lesser elements that had worked so well with Shrek and apply them to films like Shark Tale that didn't have nearly as strong or emotionally resonant of a story or nearly as likeable or strong characters amongst their casts, causing the same elements that had served as decent background decoration for Shrek to become distracting and irritating and stereotype the studio in all the years that have since followed.
  • One of the most common criticisms of Hollywood in The New '10s is that movie studios increasingly tend to rely on profitable Cash Cow Franchises at the expense of supporting original standalone films that can work on their own, to the point that some movie critics have called the decade "The Franchise Era of Hollywood". In fact, many of the worst excesses of the so-called "Franchise Era" can be traced back to several successful movie franchises from the Turn of the Millennium that are still quite fondly remembered by many moviegoers today—in particular, New Line Cinema's The Lord of the Rings movies, 20th Century Fox's Star Wars prequels, and The Matrix trilogy and the Harry Potter films from Warner Bros.. Notably, all of those series were more-or-less planned as series from the very beginning, many of them had several sequels that went into production at the same time, and all of them (except The Matrix) were either big-budget movie adaptations or big-budget follow-ups to previous films; the Harry Potter films even featured a Grand Finale that was long enough to be stretched into two movies—a fairly rare move at the time, which made for a pretty high-profile motion picture event.

    But in the 2000s, such major movie franchises attracted buzz because they were fairly rare occurrences, and movie studios only really gave the "franchise treatment" to intellectual properties that could be justifiably seen as deserving several Epic Films. The Lord of the Rings was based on a trilogy of beloved fantasy novels that had been popular for nearly 50 years before they were made into movies, the Star Wars prequels were follow-ups to the most popular film saga in cinematic history, the Harry Potter films were based on one of the most massively popular book series of the 20th century, and The Matrix didn't get its two sequels greenlit until film critics started hailing it as one of the best American science-fiction films since Star Wars. And even when they did support movie franchises, studios generally knew when to stop, and only did as many movies as it took to tell a story.

    In the 2010s, some moviegoers are understandably wary of franchise films when they account for around three-fourths of the films at the box office, when studios occasionally try to keep franchises going indefinitely, and when they fill movies with obvious padding to justify stretching one movie into several parts. Compare those aforementioned films to franchises like Twilight, The Hunger Games and The Hobbit, which got much more divisive receptions when they tried to stretch their final installments into bloated two-part epics—or, in the case of The Hobbit, tried to stretch a fairly short novel into a trilogy of films that ran nearly three hours apiece. Also compare those films to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which has faced some backlash for jumping straight into a Batman/Superman crossover before giving Man of Steel a proper sequel or even a solo movie for Batman, and for shoehorning Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash, and Cyborg into the story just to make it easier to set up a future Justice League movie. Even the critically acclaimed Marvel Cinematic Universe has been criticized for trying to plan additional movies over a decade in advance, as if their movies couldn't possibly fall out of popularity before then. And while Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens was a big hit with audiences, Lucasfilm's decision to release at least one new Star Wars movie every year has been much more divisive, with cynical fans pointing out that the series can't possibly stay fresh forever, and indeed, the one-two punch of Solo and Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker showed how this approach could faulter both creatively (the first was a Troubled Production, the latter constantly rewritten) and financially (Disney didn't help Solo and the movie tanked, and even if Episode IX made money, audience reaction was mixed if not negative) and led to a hiatus in new movies.


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