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 Reunionexpanded his role and turned him into a more heroic Butt-Monkey. As one of the protagonists, his behavior became a lot more polarizing.
Beauty and the Beast (2017) is probably the most divisive of the Disney Live-Action Remakes thus far, partly because it drew some criticism for making changes to the original that many fans saw as unnecessary; while those changes wouldn't necessarily be such a bad thing by themselves, some saw them as gratuitous pandering to adult fans who had trivial complaints about the original. note Just to name a few: the movie goes out of its way to justify the Beast's servants being transfigured alongside him, it explains why the local villagers don't remember who the Prince is, it gives Gaston and the Beast Freudian Excuses to "explain" their personalities, and it plays up the feminist themes to a degree that many people saw as forced and anvilicious. 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 Flat Character the Prince considerable Character Development to make his relationship with Ella feel like an actual relationship, and The Jungle Book greatly streamlined the original's meandering narrative while giving Shere Khan a far more prominent role as antagonist. Beauty and the Beast's changes, on the other hand, mostly just added additional weight to the movie rather than actually improving it—since the original already had a pretty well-paced story with rich themes and strong characters, and there wasn't a lot of room for improvement.
Many fans of action films have blamed The Bourne Supremacy for popularizing Jitter Cam, with Tom Breiman of The AV Clubdescribing 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 style 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.
Later Die Hard 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 analyzedthe 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 the second film actually being the only one that a normal person in John's position could realistically survive. 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 needs 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.
A common criticism of Friday the 13th (2009) is its prologue, which can almost be described as a short film where a Friday movie plays out in miniature before viewers get to the main story and characters. Yet the same complaint could also be lodged at the older films. Friday the 13th Part 2 had a similarly lengthy prologue in which Alice, the last surviving character from the original, is suddenly killed offnote The producers originally planned for Alice to play a larger role, but her actress Adrienne King had just had an ordeal with a Loony Fan that ultimately caused her to retire from acting, and would only return if her part would be as small as possible., while Part III has not one, but two prologues, one of which is literally the ending of the prior film replayed to serve as a recap. It was even worse in the older films, as while the prologue of the 2009 Friday serves to provide motivation for Clay (who is searching for his sister Whitney, the Final Girl from that prologue), the openings of Part 2 and Part 3 never come up again in the rest of their respective films except in passing, making the padding that much more noticeable. The difference was, the opening of the 2009 Friday was practically a complete Slasher Movie in its own right (albeit abbreviated), making it seem as if these characters will be far more important than they turn out to be.
Another major problem that dogged the series during its original run was the fact that Paramount refused to spend all that much money on it, even as it became one of the biggest horror franchises of The '80s. Even in earlier films, this problem was apparent with the generally low production values, but the filmmakers were generally able to cover for this by shooting in the woods and packing the films with graphic violence. Two things happened, however, that brought this issue to a breaking point. First, the MPAA started cutting later films to ribbons, taking away the cheap gore effects. Second, the competingA Nightmare on Elm Street franchise actually did get real money and talent put behind it by New Line Cinema, meaning that there was now a far more lavish Slasher Movie franchise to compare it to. The nadir came with the franchise-killing eighth film, Jason Takes Manhattan, where budget cuts meant the production had no money to shoot in New York for more than a week, leading to some very bad cases of California Doubling (Vancouver stood in, poorly, for The Big Rotten Apple) and Never Trust a Trailer (most of the film wound up set on a cruise ship).
Francis Ford Coppola included many of his family in the cast and crew of The Godfather, Parts I and II, most notably his sister Talia Shire in the role of Vito's daughter Connie Corleone. In The Godfather Part III, he cast his daughter Sofia Coppola in the role of Michael's daughter Mary Corleone, which she couldn't handle. Part II also had much of what critics attacked in Part III, namely longtime Corleone associates we hadn't met before causing trouble (Hyman Roth and Pentangeli in Part II, Don Altobello in Part III) and a multilayered plot incorporating historical events (the Cuban Revolution and Kefauver Hearings in Part II, the Vatican Bank scandal and Pope John Paul I's death in Part III).
Fans often blame Part III's quality on Coppola openly doing it for the money, implying that it didn't match its predecessors because Coppola's heart wasn't in the material. In fact, Coppola held the same attitude towards the entire franchise: he hated Mario Puzo's novel and took the job directing the first film to compensate for his failure setting up an independent studio. He had even less interest in making the second movie after the original's immensely Troubled Production; he agreed to make it in large part to gain studio funding for The Conversation, a long time pet project. Few blame Coppola's mercenary attitude with detracting from the first two movies' quality.
One of the most common criticisms of Part III is that it often feels like a Post-Script Finale compared to the first two entries, since it has no basis in Mario Puzo's original story; even Francis Ford Coppola has described it as an "epilogue" rather than a true third act. To an extent, this is also true of Part II: Puzo did not write a sequel to the book, and he pretty conclusively wrapped up the story with Michael moving the Corleone clan to Nevada and making plans to go legitimate after orchestrating the murders of the heads of the Five Families; Michael's entire storyline in Part II, involving his business empire in Cuba, Hyman Roth's vendetta against the family, and Fredo's betrayal was invented entirely for the film. But it was easy to forgive this, since the flashback portions about Vito's originswere taken from the novel, and the story actually moved the Corleone brothers' arcs forward in interesting ways. Part III was not only completely unconnected to the novel, it featured none of the original cast besides Michael, Kay and Connie, making it feel like a pointless continuation of the saga.
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, rancid morals, and mindless spectacle in the spotlight.
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.'
Roger Moore received increasing complaints that he was getting too old for the role (including from himself), 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.)
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 Sadistwho 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.
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 novel and film were loosely based on the real Jersey Shore shark attacks of 1916, where the culprit was most likely a bull shark, a species with a much ornerier disposition than great whites and the ability to enter freshwater lakes and streams. 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 Notably, the original author Peter Benchley actually spent much of his later life involved in shark conservation efforts, specifically because he felt so guilty about his book warping public perception of sharks. As a former marine biologist, he knew how inaccurate his own portrayal of sharks really was, and he tried to make sure that the public knew it too. 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.
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.
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 her Romantic Plot Tumor became one of the series's most criticized aspects.
Mad Max: Fury Road was still a good picture and a box office success, but it caught a lot of 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 character 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 who clearly had better claim to the protagonist slot than Max, and that led to the complaints of Max "just being there."
It didn't help that from about 30 seconds into the movie until at least the the second act, Max is helpless and doesn't accomplish anything. Previous films were about him showing up and helping someone else's struggle, but he was still indisputably the main character, unlike Fury Road. 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 trilogy is a smorgasbord of trippy visuals, stylized action, and East-meets-West philosophy. But whereas the first film stayed compelling by the freshness of its concepts, its relative subtlety, and understandable story, the sequels went overboard with its own formula, resulting in CG-heavy action divorced from character interest, a overcomplicated and Anvilicious story, and entire scenes of programs sitting around and droning at length about philosophy.
Josh Friedman, creator of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, alleged thatThe 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 At #1 on the list, 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 butexcluded 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.
The Nostalgia Chick 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.
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.
One of the most common criticisms of the Resident Evil films concerns the character of Alice, a superhuman Action Girl who serves as the main protagonist of the series, with many detractors accusing her of being given New Powers as the Plot Demands. All of the elements about Alice that were criticized in those films could also be found in the very first one, generally held to be the best of the bunch. The difference was that, in that film, while she pulled off ridiculous She-Fu like roundhouse-kicking a zombie dog in the face, it was still roughly within the bounds of what was realistic, meaning that her actions weren't too far off the scale compared to the cast of Badass Normal commandos surrounding her. It also helped that, unlike later films, the first Resident Evil film did not feature any characters from the video game series for Alice to make look bad. It was only in the second film, Apocalypse, where she was both made explicitly superhuman and paired up with characters from the games, at which point the problem became a lot harder to ignore.
The excesses RoboCop sequels could be traced back to the original film. The original film was a dark satire of 1980s consumerism with graphic violencenote The film originally X-rated and had to be re-edited eleven times down to an R-rating., goofy elements like a military-grade robot that can't go down stairs, and a scathing Capitalism Is Bad 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 straw characters. 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, RoboCop 3 added ninjas and had military machines that can be hacked by children, and the rebooted RoboCop (2014) has anvilicious jabs at right-wing politics with Samuel L. Jackson playing an exaggerated caricature of a Fox News pundit. Needless to say, none of sequels 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.
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 goingover 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 first problem was in how it tied everything back to the series' heroine Sidney. In the first twofilms, 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.
Second, 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 will be 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 and creating some delicious Snark Bait in the process. 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.
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 first and second films are far from devoid of silliness, but that element provided actual levity in those first two movies because a) they had more focused plots, having only one super-villain apiece, compared to the third having three, and b) they didn't take the silly humor overboard. The infamous 'dancing emo Peter' sequence in 3, on the other hand, took it way too far.
Although it did save the Star Trek franchise, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan started the trend of every Star Trek film being built around a confrontation with one particular villain, as it was the first in a very long line of Actionized Sequels.note The major exception being Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, which doesn't have a villain and used comedy as its major selling point. For better or for worse, this was a necessary change of pace for the series after the lukewarm response to Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which went for a more cerebral storyline but was roundly criticized for its slow pace. Two decades later, when Star Trek: Nemesis became a Box Office Bomb after being criticized for its one-dimensional villain and its gratuitous action (most infamously, the nonsensical car chase that comes out of nowhere), the producers finally realized that they couldn't keep milking the old Wrath of Khan formula indefinitely. The films starting with the 2009 reboot avoided that pitfall by placing less emphasis on the big villain and more on the ensemble cast trying to deal with the villain's plot.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was also the first installment to really introduce the Star Trek Shake and Explosive Instrumentation in battle as hallmarks of the franchise. The Original Series had fairly sedate cues that they were in battle, flashing lights and the bridge crew lurching to one side with the camera just doing a moving Dutch Angle. The original Motion Picture featured a light rumble (with a video distortion effect) and just one console explodes on Chekhov as an apparently deliberate power surge from V'Ger. But Wrath of Khan had actual explosions with collapsing walls and falling support structures, along with stunt work as people are flipping over banisters, giving the starship battles a sense of danger. As the revival television series took hold, those elements were portrayed more often but sanitized as more often than not there was no apparent damage.
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. note This isn't a problem with the source material, either, as most Superman origin stories have him engaging in the neverending battle largely or entirely of his own agency, and frequently explore the psychology that makes him choose to do so - the traditional answer seems to be his belief that Rousseau Was Right. It just wasn't as obvious in 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 two other characters.
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.
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 who was MIA in Secret of the Ooze 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 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 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 Turtle's 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 arcnote When the turtles find out they were created by accident., 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. Tatsu wasn't in any prior media either, acting as a stand in for Karai, but he was the right hand man to Shredder, so that was okay. Karai was still obscure at the time unless one read the original comics, so that was understandable. 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, is fixing that by dropping the Eric Sacks character entirely, adding in Bebop, Rocksteady, and Baxter Stockman, villains that have appeared in the cartoons or comics. Also, the turtles themselves are going to be the main focus of the story and receive character development just like in other media.
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 DenominatorSummer 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.
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 wretched personality in the spotlight.
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, and 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.
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 has a character arc of a Wrench Wench trying to atone for her criminal history and also contributed to the plot by helping destroy several of the Decepticons. In contrast, the later female leads from Carly to Tessa are depicted as eye candy for male viewers yet have none of Mikaela's charisma or Hidden Depths. Tessa in particular is hated by fans for being a whiny, bratty teen who doesn't actually contribute to the plot.
The X-Men films were always criticized for their blatant overuse of Wolverine, but it didn't really start to get out of hand until X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which are universally cited as the low points of the series. In the first movie, it was forgivable because Hugh Jackman was still a new and exciting actor, and the film also had Rogue as an Audience Surrogate—but most of the movie was still shown through Logan's eyes, and the big climax still basically amounted to the other heroes throwing Wolverine at Magneto's doomsday device and letting him fight Mystique and Sabretooth one-on-one. And in the second film, Jean and Nightcrawler both got notable arcs, but much of the plot was still dominated by Wolverine's efforts to get to the bottom of his past, with Cyclops and Professor Xavier spending most of the movie imprisoned in the Big Bad's fortress. In the third film? Rogue vanishes after deciding to take the cure, Cyclops and Professor Xavier are killed off anticlimactically, there are extended scenes involving Wolverine taking on Magneto's army singlehandedly, and Jean barely seems to remember that she was in love with Scott years before she met Logan. By the time they cut out the middleman and gave Wolverine his own spinoff, they barely had anything interesting left to do with the character, and critics trashed the movie for forgetting to put in any memorable characters who weren't named "Logan". And even though Wolverine's appearance in X-Men: First Class was limited to a hilarious cameo, he returns with a vengeance in X-Men: Days of Future Past in a role that was originally Kitty's in the comics. In fact, X2 and The Last Stand are also based on comic book storylines where Wolverine didn't play a huge role.
While X-Men: First Class is one of the more highly-regarded X-flicks, it has an original sin of its own: turning Mystique into a hero. This didn't detract from the film's quality, per se, but it was a sign of the series' continuity starting to unravel. First Classreveals that Mystique was adopted by the Xaviers as a little girl and grew up as Charles' sister—which was never even remotely implied in the original trilogy, where Charles and Raven barely even interact. It was easy to forgive that, though, since Jennifer Lawrence's performance was one of the most praised parts of the film, and the ending mostly gels with the original trilogy; it ends with Mystique pulling a FaceHeel Turn and joining Magneto's Brotherhood, making it easy to accept the movie as a prequel. But both of the following movies—X-Men: Days of Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse—feature Mystique pulling more and more heroic feats until she becomes the field leader of the X-Men; by the end of Apocalypse, she's only barely the same character that Rebecca Romijn played. For some fans, it became hard to get emotionally invested in a series that ignored its own plot points so freely.
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 Also: an oft-overlooked aspect of 300 is that the whole story is narrated by the Spartan soldier Dilios as he rallies the Greeks to war against the Persians. It's very heavily implied that Dilios is an Unreliable Narrator, and that some of the movie's more melodramatic and far-fetched moments are the result of him embellishing the story to play up the Spartans' heroism. 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 Versus 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.
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 Instead of celebrating its morally ambiguous superheroes for their "realness", Watchmen shows most of their actions leading to tragedy; the characters who most embrace superheroics all end up either dying horribly or becoming evil, while the two most moral and sympathetic characters are the ones who actually manage to balance their mundane lives with fighting crime. Hence, the core message of the book is often interpreted as "Superhero stories can be a great inspiration to ordinary people, but they're best viewed symbolically, and their customary black and white morality probably shouldn't be applied to the real world." 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 grotesque appearance and playing everything straight in a dead serious light without capturing the satirical commentary of the original source material.
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.
Wreck-It Ralph was the first movie in the Disney Revival that had a Hidden Villain, with the The Reveal at the climax revolving around unmasking them. This 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 like Captain Hook, Ursula and Maleficent. But when later films like Frozen, Big Hero 6, and Zootopia reused that basic setup for Prince Hans, Robert Callaghan, and Dawn Bellweather, the results were increasingly divisive, and many fans got sick of the constant misdirection. The setup worked in Wreck-It Ralph, however, because it didn't leave the film without a clear antagonist (it's pretty clear from the start that King Candy is hiding something, and there's still plenty of time for him to be a villain), there was clear foreshadowing for the twist, and The Reveal served a clear purpose in the narrative by revealing Turbo as the Evil Counterpart to Ralph. This went back to Pixar, who's Toy Story 2 and Monsters, Inc. had Hidden Villains in Stinky Pete and Henry J. Waternoose III, but there were other villains to pick up the slack and it matched their established motives and characterization. This also happened in The Incredibles, Toy Story 3, and Up, but this was mitigated by the former two revealing their villains relatively early in and the latter by not being "hidden" as they were the only possible candidates for the villain. Later movies would use this in mixed results.
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.