The List: 10 biggest movie disappointments

From the July 12, 2012 edition

We’re less than two weeks away from “The Dark Knight Rises,” one of the most anticipated, most promising movies in years ... but what if it sucks? OK, it won’t, but we’re counting down 10 movies that got our hopes up and then dashed them.

10. “Cowboys & Aliens”

It was a brilliant idea that seemed to tap into every little boy’s imagination — guns and horses and … aliens? Jon Favreau had shown the chops for a big action flick with “Iron Man,” and even had Indiana Jones/Han Solo in the cast. Again, the hype lead to a burst bubble.

9. “Bruno”

With “Borat” Sacha Baron Cohen proved he was a master of offensive humor. Then Cohen’s immense fame hampered some of the more outrageous pranks he was able to pull off in “Borat.” “Bruno” — while it still had some hilarious moments — didn’t produce the nonstop laughs everyone was expecting.

8. “Godzilla”

The collective “meh” that went up from audiences may have caused you to forget how anticipated this was. After the huge success of “Independence Day,” Roland Emmerich turned to rebooting “Godzilla” with a huge budget. A sneaky good marketing campaign built hype, but the end result was a monster-sized dud.

7. “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”

Most people thought the first “Transformers” was an enjoyable action blockbuster (until they watched it a second time) and were hopeful for the sequel. “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” turned out to be an overwrought, ridiculously long exercise in why director Michael Bay makes crappy movies.

6. “The Matrix Revolutions”

If you sense a pattern here, it’s that sticking the landing of a good trilogy can be challenging. The second “Matrix” wasn’t as good as the first, but it had some set-piece action sequences that made up for it. Things got really messy in the third film, and the finale had a “that was it?” quality.

5. “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”

Yes, the last installment of the “X-Men” trilogy wasn’t great, but who could have imagined how badly this movie would screw up Wolverine’s origin story — one of the best in Marvel’s canon, bub. The movie’s lone redeeming quality comes in the form of a drinking game: Every time Wolverine lets out a guttural scream in anguish, thirst for vengeance, etc., take a drink. Note: This may result in alcohol poisoning.

4. “Lady in the Water”

M. Night Shyamalan’s movies had certainly divided audiences since the success of “The Sixth Sense,” but this mysterious “dark fairy tale” looked like a return to top form. Instead it was a writer-director believing his own hype and taking his self-indulgence to new heights. I mean, he named a character “Story” and cast himself as the writer whose words are ultimately key in saving the universe. Get over yourself, dude.

3. “Spider-Man 3”

After two excellent movies, the third “Spider-Man” — with Venom as a villain! — was an utter mess and felt as if director Sam Raimi just phoned it in. How do you screw up a film with Spider-Man’s greatest nemesis?! Oh that’s right, cast Topher Grace in the role.

2. “The Godfather: Part III”

It was an unnecessary epilogue to the Corleone saga, but it ended up being an epic disappointment. Francis Ford Coppola and Al Pacino reteamed for … this? It went from bad to joke when the key role of Michael Corleone’s daughter went to Coppola’s real-life daughter Sofia, who would eventually prove to be a far better director (“Lost in Translation”) than actress.

1. “Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

People were sneaking into movie theaters just to see the trailer for this — even after the Star Wars Special Editions may have indicated that George Lucas was off his rocker (Solo shot first … tell your children). The effects looked breathtaking, and Darth Maul looked badass. We ended up with a whiny little kid version of Darth Vader and Lucas somehow trying to unravel his own mythos with a biochemical explanation about “midi-chlorians.” It would have been a huge disappointment — even without Jar Jar.