Essay Question: What was the biggest cinematic flop, disappointment, or failure of the 2000-2009 decade?

OFCS members answer the question, suggested by member Don Levit:

“What do you think was the biggest cinematic flop, disappointment, or failure of the 2000-2009 decade?”

Answers after the jump.

A.J. Hakari, Passport Cinema:

Popular opinion would probably lean towards Gigli (which, even though I didn’t like it at all, is still far from the be-all, end-all of crap films).

Personally, I’d choose Delgo, a film I’d actually been sort of following for years until its release. From time to time, I’d read blurbs on its piecemeal progress and how such a homegrown flick acquired its unusually star-studded cast. But thanks to one of the world’s worst marketing jobs, Delgo arrived in theaters not with a whimper so much as a sub-whimper; nobody heard of this movie, and to see it fail so miserably really made me feel for the hundreds of crew members who spent so long tinkering with the production.

Pablo Villaça, Cinema em Cena:

Well, we’re talking about two different things here: if we’re discussing failures, there’s no way we could ignore films like Transformers 2, Norbit, The Son of the Mask or any Rob Schneider terrorist attempt. But those were not “disappointments”; we couldn’t really expect anything different from the like of Bay, Murphy, etc. Now… if we are going to talk about disappointments (meaning works from great artists that just bombed), then I have to mention The Lovely Bones, Spider-Man 3, Gangs of New York, Scoop, The Darjeeling Limited, Indiana Jones and the Aliens, Superman Returns, Word Trade Center, Broken Embraces, Australia, Taking Woodstock and the whole M. Night Shyamalan’s carreer post-Unbreakable.

Rob Gonsalves, eFilmCritic:

Biggest flop? A lot of people would say Delgo, which cost $40 million and grossed $694,782. Ouch.

Biggest disappointment? The Black Dahlia. Great director + great book + lousy script + bad casting all around = one more nail in the coffin of De Palma’s relevance.

Biggest failure? Sadly, Fahrenheit 9/11. As much as I admire Michael Moore and the film, it didn’t do what it should’ve done — to convince on-the-fence voters in swing states that Bush was bad news. Partly the uninspiring John Kerry was to blame, but if the film had really worked instead of preaching to the converted, Bush might’ve been one-and-done instead of having four more years to wreck the country. Since the film aimed so high and shot so wide of the mark, it must be considered a failure on a level apart from typical movie failures.

Mike McGranaghan, Aisle Seat:

While it may seem a tad obvious, I’m going with Battlefield: Earth. Not only is this one of the worst movies ever made, but it is also a stellar example of a star’s pet project gone wrong. For years, John Travolta wanted to adapt Scientology founder L. Rob Hubbard’s sci-fi novel for the screen, apparently believing it would inspire the masses. Instead, it merely inspired unintentional laughter with its insipid plot, cheap-o special effects, and bad acting. This is saying nothing of Travolta’s ridiculous dreadlocks. Everyone involved in the production has got to be embarrassed by the end result, which is almost unwatchable. Two weeks before the film was released back in 2000, I was covering a film festival in Baltimore. The producer of a low-budget movie lobbied me to come see her picture, which was written and directed by her brother. “He’s going to be big in the business,” she told me. “He wrote the new John Travolta movie, Battlefield: Earth.” I have a sneaking suspicion that guy doesn’t include the film on his resume anymore.

Dave Johnson, DVD Verdict:

Biggest disappointment? The near-universal acclaim showered on Avatar. Apparently, sharp visual effects masking a nonsensical and juvenile story was disgraceful for stuff like Transformers 2 and The Phantom Menace, but for James Cameron’s plodding, preachy, contrived excursion into a CGI rainforest, break out the Golden Globes and Oscar nominations and near-orgasmic critical reviews!

If this is the future of movies — and the future of film criticism — then our Hometree can’t get nuked soon enough.

Kevin A. Ranson,

House of the Dead was not only a low point for the decade, it also inexplicably launched the career of Uwe Boll. The saddest part is, the more improvement Boll shows (yes, he’s improved a little bit along the way), the worse his films perform.

Felix Vasquez, Cinema Crazed:

I’d say it was Avatar. By all accounts this movie should have been incredible to watch. The effects were amazing but at the end it was all so derivative and lacking in any of the movie magic we’ve come to expect from Science Fiction epics. Cameron’s blockbuster comes off as disingenuous from minute one and fails to invoke even the slightest emotion for any of the characters or worlds he creates and completely wastes talent like Giovanni Ribisi, Sigourney Weaver, Sam Worthington, and Zoe Saldana. I expected the next Star Wars, instead I just got Dances with Wolves with the Thundercats.

Don Levit, Reel Talk:

It’s hard to say one particular picture was the biggest baddie of a decade, but Master and Commander was right up there. Badly cast, badly scripted, badly plotted, overhyped.

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