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Examples of Franchise Original Sin in films.


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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.
  • While the Billy Jack series' turn to the political is often derided now, it was initially well-received. In contrast to the largely apolitical first film The Born Losers, Billy Jack leaned heavily into hot-button issues of the day, particularly the counterculture and Native American rights. However, it was still an action movie first and foremost, and the politics served largely to make the film more intellectually and emotionally stimulating for its hippie-era target audience rather than slowing it down. Unfortunately, later movies would up the political content significantly to the point that it became more of a burden. The Trial of Billy Jack was over three hours long and sidelined the action for filibustering and vision quests, and while the committed fanbase ate it up, critics and general audiences were less enthusiastic. Billy Jack Goes to Washington, meanwhile, would drop the action entirely in favor of the title character giving speeches to the Senate in a loose remake of Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, and failed to gain a wide release.
  • 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 was 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 Miserables (2012):
      • The first of such controversial creative decisions was its being given a more grounded and 'realistic' interpretation. While a similar such 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 active 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 all of the injuries he suffered during his ordeal. 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 only in his thirties, the fourth and fifth films heavily played up John's advancing age. 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 (never mind that Gigantopithecus are extinct). 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. They were also based on films that were less than thirty years old when they were remade (both having been released in the 1990s), and generally agreed to have aged pretty well—making the changes seem even less necessary.
    • 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, and Mulan (2020) made Mulan an overpowered fighter who can best everyone on top of having no real flaws. 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 characternote  while also expanding on the original in a way that still kept the spirit of the original film without coming across as pandering.
  • 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 the original Ghostbusters (1984) were hardly treated all that much better. Mr. Delacorte at the library is a weedy milquetoast, Dean Yeager is a prissy bastard who takes sadistic delight in getting rid of the Ghostbusters, 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 a fairly common convention of buddy comedies of the era to portray rich people and authority figures as dimwitted and unlikeable (as seen in Animal House, Caddyshack, and Stripes, all of which were written by Ghostbusters star Harold Ramis), so those sorts of character archetypes fit with the general premise of Ghostbusters being a contemporary buddy comedy mixed with elements of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror—which was a fairly novel and interesting concept at the time. The convention just became a bit more obvious when the core theme pivoted from Slobs Versus Snobs to "Girl Power". It didn't help that while the Mayor showed open support for the Ghostbusters in the original film, he had to publicly pretend to bash the team in the reboot (while secretly supporting them), which encouraged a lot of the bumbling attitudes.
  • Godzilla:
    • Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991) is one of the more fondly regarded Godzilla films of the modern era, but it's also notable for being the first post-reboot film to bring back an older monster from the Showa-era films instead of introducing a new one—a trend that would eventually lead to criticisms about the franchise being overly reliant on nostalgia for the older movies.note  At the time, though, very few people had issues with King Ghidorah returning to the big screen, largely because the film gave the character a completely new backstory that allowed the new version to stand on its own (instead of a malevolent alien monster, Ghidorah is a heroic mutant created from a fusion of three dragon-like creatures). Ghidorah's return also wasn't the primary draw of the film (which is primarily a pretty inventive Time Travel story), so it didn't feel like the studio was relying too heavily on his star power. The next two sequels were successful for similar reasons: Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II introduced Mothra and Mechagodzilla to the Heisei continuity, but the former keeps things fresh by introducing Mothra's Evil Counterpart Battra, and the latter reimagines Mechagodzilla as a human-controlled Humongous Mecha. By contrast, the Millennium-era films (Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla, Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S., and Godzilla: Final Wars, in particular) rely more on nostalgia for nostalgia's sake.
    • Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965) is notable for being the beginning of King Ghidorah's widely criticized Villain Decay, since it's the first film that depicts him as a brainwashed attack dog for a race of aliens rather than a malevolent planet-devouring monstrosity in his own right (a trend that would continue throughout the rest of the series). Despite this, the film is widely considered to be among the best of the original series, with many fans citing it as the last film in Godzilla's "Golden Age". There are a few reasons for this. For one thing: it was the first film to use the idea, so it hadn't become a trend yet. For another thing: Ghidorah being mind-controlled by the Xiliens is a surprise plot twist that isn't revealed until midway through the film; it's supposed to be shocking, and it's used to make the Xiliens look more threatening rather than just making Ghidorah look like a pushover. And lastly: even if not everyone liked the idea of Ghidorah being enslaved by aliens, most fans agree that the rest of the movie's story was interesting enough to make up for it—since it's still a fun and freewheeling sci-fi story that boasts astronauts, psychic aliens, a newly discovered planet, an army of flying saucers, and Godzilla getting blasted into space. But not only did later films reuse the idea with increasing frequency, they generally made it clear from the beginning that Ghidorah was brainwashed, and their stories seldom offered many redeeming qualities to compensate for it—eventually causing Ghidorah's apparent wimpification to wear out its welcome.
  • 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 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, the most important members of the original cast were still there, 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. 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 that worked well with the cartoonish energy Carrey was known for. 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.
  • With Hellraiser, fans have noted how the films all but abandon Clive Barker's original concept of the Cenobites as neither truly good or evil, but as simply beings obsessed with the extremes of bodily sensations, both pleasure and pain, who seem to believe they're doing their victims a favor. This was a shift that starts as early as the second movie, Hellbound: Hellraiser II, even though Barker did provide the basis for the screenplay. For example, when we meet Frank in Hell, he's being subjected to a fairly traditional ironic punishment. Later installments would go further in depicting the Cenobites' motives as like demons, rather than (to quote "Pinhead" himself) the "demons to some, angels to others" from the original film.
  • Indiana Jones:
    • The infamous 'nuking the fridge' moment in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is largely considered one of the most implausible cases of Plot Armor that Indy has ever experienced. But as much as fans consider this emblematic of all the problems of The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Indiana Jones has always had an impressive history of surviving situations that should have been guaranteed to be lethal in Real Life via incredibly improbable escape strategiesnote . But as improbable as his similarly implausible escapes in the earlier movies were, viewers were willing to look past this detail since they were still balanced out by Indiana himself being at an age where he was practically in his prime and already quite the larger than life action hero that could plausibly survive unbelievable situations by Hollywood standards. But not only is Indy a visibly aging man by the time of Crystal Skull, most people agreed that the idea of surviving a nuclear explosion without so much as a scratch was a bit hard to take seriously.
    • One of the most widely criticized aspects of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is the rather insensitive and inaccurate treatment given to Indian culture and religion. This was actually a logical extension of similar content that was already there in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Spielberg biographer and film critic Joseph McBride points out that Raiders begins with stereotypical imagery of angry natives chasing a white man through the jungle after he steals an artifact from their culture (after Rene Belloq turns the natives against Indy), and the portion set in the Middle East is full of similarly stereotypical Orientalist imagery. What balanced it was that in Raiders of the Lost Ark the main bad guys are the Nazis and it's heavily implied the day ends up being saved by God, whereas Temple of Doom paints local Indians as a psychotic child-sacrificing cult of cannibals while the forces of the British colonial authorities are given the role of The Cavalry, making it far harder to ignore the characterization of foreign cultures. Raiders of the Lost Ark is likewise a Genre Throwback to a whole slew of relatively well-aged pulp fiction and adventure movies, where Temple of Doom is largely based on Gunga Din which is adapted from a Rudyard Kipling story, deriving in both cases from a more values-dissonant time.
  • 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 and weren't showcasing the Willing Suspension of Disbelief breaking excesses that would be present in later films. 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 themselves 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 concurred 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.) But since Live and Let Die was Roger Moore's very first film as James Bond after Sean Connery's departure, critics and viewers were able to look past this in favor of interest in what Moore would bring to the table as Connery's successor in the role. But as time went by and the novelty of Roger Moore being the new James Bond wore off, the noticeable age difference between him and the actresses being chosen to play Bond's paramours started becoming both increasingly uncomfortable and equally increasingly more difficult to ignore, especially since he was only getting older.
    • On the continued subject of Bond girls, a common complaint about several of the ones featured in later films involves how they are largely present to serve as eye candy for the viewers and very rarely (if ever) contribute to the plot. The same, however, could be said about the very first Bond girl Honey Rider from Dr. No. The key difference, however, is that Honey was enough of a genuinely charismatic Nice Girl for the audience to feel willing to invest in her despite how comparatively little she properly contributed to advancing the narrative, a factor that couldn't be quite be claimed about many of her successors in later movies.
    • 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 whole cloth 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 added plotline 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.

    M-S 
  • 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 Max only being 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 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.
    • 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 feminist 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 simple 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 woman 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 in 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, and "The Oracle" being a computer program who can accurately predict the future. The movie even 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.
  • 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 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's Ghostly Goals were fulfilled and he 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. The difference: while later films used this as an excuse to dive further into Freddy's backstory to give him a motive, which merely fed into the aforementioned problems with over-explaining him, this film keeps his motive simple by deciding that he doesn't really need a motive beyond being evil, since he was already a Serial Killer in life and never stopped being 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 Jason Voorhees racking 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 because 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 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 one of the least terrifying Phantoms 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 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 (especially since the film goes out of its way to show how Rocky can beat Clubber). 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.
  • 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's scene. The series' 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 Gory Discretion Shots instead of even a single arterial spray. Jigsaw'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 Jigsaw 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 violent punchline. There was also the Drill Chair, 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.

      Overall, the 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 featured on one of the film's posters, and so the sequels decided to up the ante. The Sequel Escalation wasn't too bad in Saw II, but by Saw III 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 Kerry's ribcage being the tipping point for many. The new killers taking on the Jigsaw mantle after John's death also weren't engineers like he was (instead being a recovering junkie, a police detective and later on a military veteran), which only strained credibility further, even though John did teach them how to build the traps. 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 Amanda deviating from the original plans and seeking to outright murder those they judge unworthy, but even this motivation was eventually abandoned, as Amanda and John were both killed off and Hoffman was introduced as a Jigsaw apprentice with his own agenda too. By Saw IV, 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 film's twist ending. The Reveal that the seemingly dead man in the middle of the room wasn't only still alive, but was in fact Jigsaw 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 Zep's tape, 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 a 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's executive producers overseeing the series chose to keep the series going over the wishes of the original creators (who wanted to end the series at the third film), the Myth Arc went from complex to convoluted as new twists and killers were piled on in the sequels, while Jigsaw's original motive 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.
  • One of the principal reasons Spider-Man 3 is the least liked in the original Spider-Man Trilogy is that it was widely viewed as too goofy in tone (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." This approach just didn't work as well for the third movie, for a few reasons. For one thing: its plot was notoriously cluttered and overlong due to the film featuring three different villains with their own individual character arcs, which made the more dramatic aspects of the story—Peter and Harry's decayed friendship, the issues with the black suit, Peter's quest for revenge against Flint Marko, Peter and MJ's relationship going south again—feel underserved. As a result, the dramatic beats didn't stick, and the audience only remembered Emo Dancing Peter. For another thing: the first two films drew most of their inspiration from the earliest Spider-Man comics from the 1960s, which were fairly campy and whimsical to begin with, so the goofy tone actually felt appropriate to the source material. But when Sam Raimi tried to apply almost exactly the same tone to the Venom symbiote arc—a considerably darker horror-themed story from the 1980s—it inevitably suffered from tonal dissonance. The "Emo Dancing Peter" sequence is, in fact, a direct result of this: Peter's "emo" haircut and impromptu dancing were how Raimi chose to depict his personality change after falling under the symbiote's influence, which struck many people as an odd interpretation.
  • Superman:
    • 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, even though 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. Eisenberg also seemed to be channeling Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight, which invited unfavorable 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.

    T-Z 
  • 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.
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and other slasher movie franchises frequently get criticized for their reliance on shallow, stereotyped characters whom it's difficult to connect with. But the first movie in the series, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1974, has characters that are even more one-note than typical of the genre, and yet is generally considered one of the few truly great slasher movies. What differentiated it from its sequels and imitators was its efficiency: rather than devoting a substantial amount of the runtime to Developing Doomed Characters, the original TCM takes only the bare minimum amount of time necessary to establish the cast, and what follows is so relentlessly thrilling from beginning to end that the protagonists' lack of personality doesn't have time to register.
  • 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 his vague attempt at a character arc and a few sincere moments that implied those traits were a passing thing. Later films not only had him keep those traits, but seemingly had him get worse, and gave him nowhere near as much of 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 films' 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 later films have been criticized for their 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 while having 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.
  • Bride of Frankenstein is considered by many fans and critics to be one of Universal Pictures' best monster movies, if not the greatest of them all—but it also has many of the elements that contributed to the Universal Horror brand ultimately fizzling out in the mid-1940s. It largely started the franchise's shift from dark, psychological horror to goofy, juvenile camp, it introduced yet another archetypical mad scientist to the cast of characters, and it effectively undid the ending of the original Frankenstein (1931) (an early warning sign of the Universal Monster movies drifting into more-or-less Negative Continuity). But compared to the mid-1940s "monster mash" movies like House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula, it featured a pretty decent balance of drama and farce, with its more light-hearted moments (like the homunculi sequence) mostly acting as a counter-balance for some truly hard-hitting story beats (like the climactic destruction of the laboratory). Similarly, although Dr. Septimus Pretorius (Henry Frankenstein's previously unmentioned mentor) was effectively just a clone of Frankenstein on paper, he was brought to life through a truly memorable performance by Ernest Thesiger that allowed the character to truly stand out as a gleefully insane science professor with a god complex (contrasting Colin Clive's performance as a more down-to-Earth family man with a dark side). And although the movie elected to ignore the Creature's death at the end of the original Frankenstein, this could be pretty easily forgiven as a necessity of the premise—and it was balanced out by the bulk of the main plot, which featured quite a few continuity nods to the first film, and actually moved the stories of Frankenstein and his Creature forward in interesting ways (most notably with the introduction of the titular Bride). The end result ended up feeling like a meaningful continuation of the original Frankenstein rather than just a rehash or an Excuse Plot.
  • A lot of negative reviews of Zoolander 2 comment on how dated the movie's joke about supermodels being stupid is. Although the "dumb model" character has always been something of a Dead Unicorn Trope, the original movie received a lot less flak for it, even though models weren't any more popular in 2001 than they were in 2016. The thing is, that movie was so steeped in nostalgia for The '80s that it was easier to accept it as a sort of Retro Universe. The sequel, bloated with special effects and celebrity cameos, got no such free pass.

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Other Films - Animated

  • Disney Animated Canon:
    • The Dark Age of Animation for Disney's animation studio saw the release of many films that were all criticized for trends such as numerous instances of recycled animation, the use of xerography creating a rough, "sketchy" look, and an increased emphasis on slapstick comedy. However, the film that started most of these trends was 101 Dalmatians, which was a hit at the time of its release and is still considered one of Disney's classic films. The recycled animation and xerography was accepted since it was the only way the studio could make a film featuring so many Dalmatian characters without the budget skyrocketing out of control (since, in the words of Chuck Jones, "spots cost money"). Meanwhile, the physical comedy was well-liked because it gave the film a different feel and style than its predecessors, such as Sleeping Beauty. In contrast, later Dark Age Disney films lacked new innovations, and this (coupled with the more blatant recycling) made the flaws of xerography stand out even more.
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    • Many of Disney's animated 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 out of whole cloth 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 eventual main flaw in this strategy 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 of 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 seemingly obsessed with the comic relief sidekick voiced by a 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 a kid-friendly comic relief sidekick was an annoying distraction in a darker and more serious movie involving hellfire and sexual imagery. Subsequently, several animation fans felt that this fad led to celebrities taking 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 was more noticeable in later sequels that had no such excuse. 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. The trend started back with Pixar, whose Toy Story 2 and Monsters, Inc. had Hidden Villains in Stinky Pete and Henry J. Waternoose III. What saved those two was that there were other villains to pick up the slack (Al McWhiggin and Randall Boggs, respectively) and that their later villainous actions matched their established motives and characterization. Villains after played around with it more by introducing them around the midpoint, like Syndrome or Charles Muntz, giving the film time to let them take the spotlight. Disney, noticing this trend, followed suit (although it was attempted earlier in Atlantis: The Lost Empire with Commander Lyle Tiberius Rourke), but unlike Pixar, Disney seemed to think that the twist worked as a last act twist, rather than it being something to build up to, or foreshadow. And while the first film of the canon to seriously utilize this twist, Wreck-It Ralph, mitigated this factor by having King Candy very obviously have something to hide and come across as the villain from the get go while also having the major twist involving him revolve around his hidden true identity instead of the fact that he's the villain, with the story of this identity being explained for good measure, Frozen (2013) had the Big Bad Hans Westergaard 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, while Big Hero 6 and Zootopia have Rob Callaghan and Dawn Bellwether repeat the same story beats: 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 a result, Disney's "twist villains" tend to be looked at negatively for how not only obvious and not surprising they are, but also for being overused now.
  • Shrek: While some people point to the first movie breaking its own "appearances don't matter" message by having Shrek and Donkey mock Lord Farquaad's height and never get called out for doing so, it was a minor thing that could easily be glossed over. It also helped that Farquad constantly invited the ridicule through his Jerkass personality. Shrek: The Musical made it less minor by making Farquaad half-dwarf. As a result of this change, Shrek and Donkey's mocking his height, which is now a result of him being the son of a dwarf, runs directly counter to the "let your freak flag fly" moral in a way that's significantly more difficult to ignore.
  • Ice Age:
    • A common criticism of later sequels is that the humor became both increasingly out of place and too bountiful to allow the films to be taken seriously. However, while the original film was considerably more serious compared to the sequels, it wasn't entirely devoid of humor itself. The difference however, is that the original film balanced out all the slapstick and snark based humor with plenty of drama and heart that granted the story a sense of sincerity while also allowing only at least one instance of each of some of the more potentially unfitting forms of humor and allowing all the humor in general to be well timed enough to feel natural and provide levity when as much was needed. Unfortunately, with each sequel released, the amount of humor present became increasingly high to the point that, by the time of the final theatrically released film Ice Age: Collision Course, all potential drama and heart to be found was almost completely buried under an avalanche worth of jokes that were at best jarring or out of placenote , and at worst annoying or redundant.
    • A related complaint was how the series became increasingly Denser and Wackier after the original had managed to maintain a fairly realistic tone and setting (barring small cases of Misplaced Wildlife and Anachronism Stew including animals that died off long before the Pleistocene, when the ice ages would've actually occurred). However, the earliest seeds for this trend's worst excesses could be found planted in Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, which introduced a hidden Lost World filled with Living Dinosaursnote . But many fans were entirely willing to look past this due to how the film contained a natural heartwarming conclusion to Manny's character arc and the introduction of insanely popular Breakout Character Buck—plus, of course, Everything's Better with Dinosaurs. But when Ice Age: Continental Drift and especially Ice Age: Collision Course kept on introducing even more unrealistic elements and cranking them up to increasingly cartoonish and exaggerated levelsnote , the stories became so difficult to take seriously that even the fans finally began to agree with the critics that the series had overstayed its welcome.
    • Another common criticism of Ice Age: Continental Drift and Ice Age: Collision Course is the constant adding in of new characters to the main cast. But for all the hay made about this detail, the beginnings of this trend could be found as far as the comparatively better recieved Ice Age: The Meltdown and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. In The Meltdown, Ellie's romance with Manny takes up so much of the runtime that, between said romance and the threat of the flood, Diego's arc about overcoming his fear of water has only about 1/4 of the film's running time at best devoted to it while Sid's Dude, Where's My Respect? arc feels like a complete afterthought. But this was easier to overlook in The Meltdown since Ellie's presence made understandable narrative sense on account of how her romance with Manny felt like a natural continuation to Manny's arc from the first movie about being able to move on from the pain of his tragically lost first family and provided a happy resolution to his fears of being the Last of His Kind he'd been undergoing prior to meeting Ellie; meanwhile, all the time she got devoted to her in the narrative allowed her to be fleshed out enough to be able to stand on her own merits as a character and not come across as a Satellite Love Interest. And as comparatively underserved as their respective arcs are, Diego still managed to have the 2nd highest amount of screentime devoted to his arc after Manny while Sid made up for his own individual arc's comparative lack of focus by playing a crucial role in helping Diego face his fears. And while Crash and Eddie were hardly considered the most beloved new characters at even their introduction point, they still largely only contributed their brand of humor fairly rarely and still had their humor mitigated by how much they genuinely cared for their adoptive sister Ellie. Similarly, Dawn of the Dinosaurs introduced Buck and Peaches while having Diego's arc of feeling like he's starting to lose his edge get much less screentime compared to Manny's arc of becoming a father once more and Sid's arc of trying to be a parent to the trio of baby T. rex. But Buck was fleshed out enough as an equal parts crazy and badass adventurer to become a popular character in his own right, and was also written out of the story at the end by choosing to ultimately stay in the Lost World so that he wouldn't risk overstaying his welcome in the narrative. Peaches, meanwhile, wasn't introduced until her birth fairly close to the end of the story, and largely served as more of a living prop than an actual character with her own arc due to only being a fairly newly born baby at that point. And much like how Sid played a crucial role in Diego's arc from The Meltdown, Diego similarly made up for his own arc's comparative underserving in Dawn of the Dinosaurs by playing a key role in Manny and Ellie's shared arc. But by the time Diego's formerly evil Pirate love interest Shira, Sid's Granny dumped on him by his uncaring familynote , Peaches' hapless fiancee Julian,note  and Sid's passionate new girlfriend Brooke got introduced to the fold, alongside bringing back Buck and having him stick around again, the cast had become so massively overcrowded that not only did they get nowhere near enough time to get properly fleshed out enough to allow fans to like them on their own merits, but many of the characters that had come before them get increasingly pushed to the wayside or flanderized to the point that even they started to become increasingly difficult to continue rooting for and getting invested in. The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild seemed to get the idea and pushed out all main characters that weren't Manny, Sid, Diego, Ellie, Crash, Eddie, or Buck.

Creators

  • 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.
  • Any fan of James Cameron will tell you that some of his most iconic and beloved movies were also largely built around one central technical gimmick. He openly admitted that he made Titanic (1997) as an excuse to lead an expedition to film the ship's wreckage, and he made the original Terminator to show off a skeletal robot character that appeared to him in a dream, coming up with the central time travel/assassination story to get around the fact that he only had the budget to show the robotic endoskeleton for a few minutes. The plots of Terminator 2: Judgment Day and The Abyss were also influenced by Cameron's desire to experiment with then-cutting-edge computer animation, which is why they both feature characters with amorphous liquid bodies (which made them easier to render with 1990s-era CGI). However, Cameron also put enough thought and effort into the stories of his early films that they stood on their own alongside the technical aspects, while also being bolstered by instantly iconic performances by charismatic future superstars (The Terminator had Arnold Schwarzenegger, while Titanic had Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet).

    When Cameron made Avatar, however, he still had the technical gimmick, in this case expensive photorealistic CGI and 3-D visuals, but lacked many of the other qualities his earlier films were praised for. The story was seen as thin and derivative, with many detractors characterizing it as a ripoff of Dances with Wolves IN SPACE!!!, and the performance of lead actor Sam Worthington (who's had an unremarkable career since) was heavily criticized as a bland Action Genre Hero Guy, especially given that he spent most of the movie doing motion-capture work for a completely CGI character. As a result, despite its record-breaking box-office haul, Avatar was hit with a strong backlash afterwards.
  • Dreamworks Animation first showed signs of their eventual first Audience-Alienating Era in the mid-2000s in their biggest success at the time, Shrek, as it contained a lot of the elements (overuse of Celebrity Voice Actors, massive amounts of contemporary pop culture references, crude humor) that would end up reaching a fever pitch in their later pre-Kung Fu Panda films to their detriment. 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 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, which didn't have nearly as strong or emotionally resonant of a story or nearly as likeable or strong characters amongst their casts. The same elements that had served as decent background decoration for Shrek became distracting and irritating, stereotyping the studio in the years that followed now that they no longer have an underlying purpose to them the way they did in Shrek.
  • 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.
  • 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 references work with the movie itself) are fully visible in their earlier, funnier movies, Spy Hard (which was barely saved by some of its more clever bits, including its theme song by "Weird Al" Yankovic) and Scary Movie (which was saved by having four other writers generally agreed to have been more skilled, including the Wayans Brothers at the height of their careers, providing assistance in the writing room). Then the duo dived headfirst into directing their own movies, with every problem that plagued the aforementioned previous two movies amped up. Worse, the box-office success of their movies (despite complete excoriation by most critics and audiences alike) caused other parody films to start copying their style, plunging the entire genre into an Audience-Alienating Era in the '00s and eventual near-extinction in the '10s.
    • It's also been noted that many of the traits from their films that would lead to them being so reviled and parody films as a whole to decline in popularity (extensive pop culture references doomed to date quickly, throwing jokes at the audience at a breakneck pace, raunchy and juvenile humor and use of stunt casting and large casts) were present in the beloved films of Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker. The key difference is that their style was still new and exciting as the novelty had not yet been worn out and the elements were executed much better than in Seltzer and Friedberg's work, largely due to the ZAZ creators being both very familiar and often fans of the genres being parodied in sharp contrast to Seltzer and Friedberg's admission that they work based on superficial details and their clear disdain for the films they parody.
  • Twins (1988) 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 while having him largely reacting to the antics of the goofier characters he was paired up with. Before long, however, it would lead to Last Action Hero, Junior, Jingle All the Way, and Batman & Robin, which had him portray goofy characters and serve as the butt of jokes himself, giving the action icon a serious case of Badass Decay that made it much harder for audiences to take him seriously as an action hero.
  • M. Night Shyamalan:
    • At the time of The Sixth Sense, 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 his last good film before he fell into his flop era. 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. Given that he was making suspense and horror films, those elements worked. However, when he was commissioned to direct The Last Airbender, a fantasy and adventure film based on a series known for its humor and spectacular fights, these ended up harming the film, which became notorious for its Dull Surprise performances (with the film's deadly-serious versions of Aang and Sokka being especially criticized), awkward pacing (attempting to cram a twenty-episode season into less than two hours, even with only seven episodes note  really getting any focus, with much of the rest relegated to voiceover), and Fight Scene Failures all around note . The film's poor reception exposed Shyamalan's limits as a filmmaker, cementing an Audience-Alienating Era for him and being a near-Creator Killer for him (though he eventually recovered somewhat in the mid-2010s).note 
  • 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 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 and 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.
  • Vice attracted criticism for being an Anvilicious biopic about Dick Cheney's actions during the Bush administration that frequently partakes in Artistic License – History, two elements that were also present in Adam McKay's previous film The Big Short. The difference is that while the The Big Short did take some license with the true events surrounding the 2007-08 Financial Crisis, it was mostly for the sake of tightening the film's narrative and the film acknowledged the deviations so the audience still knew the facts. The film also didn't come across as too heavy handed with its Aesop because the general public at the time was still largely unaware of the role big banks and mortgage backed securities played in causing the crisis and the film was able to explain it in an informative, easy to follow narrative. Vice, on the other hand, attempted to do the same through artistic license with both historical events that the general public was largely aware of (and oftentimes not even taking the time to acknowledge the liberties they took), as well as events in Cheney's career that McKay and the other creatives admitted in the film itself they had very little information on. The result was that the film came across as less of an informative, indictment of real-life figures who committed crimes and more of a propaganda piece where McKay just vilifies a politician that he personally does not like.

Genre and Industry Trends

  • 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.
  • 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 an extended recession 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 respectively 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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