13 Terrible Movies That Could Be Fixed With Just One Change

Bruce Willis in 'Die Hard 4.0', Andy Serkis in 'The Hobbit', and Daisy Ridley in 'The Rise of Skywalker' (Fox/Warner Bros/LucasFilm)

Bruce Willis in ‘Die Hard 4.0’, Andy Serkis in ‘The Hobbit’, and Daisy Ridley in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ (Fox/Warner Bros/LucasFilm)

We’ve all seen it before: a potentially great film ruined by one problematic element.

There is no telling what form this may take. Maybe it’s a terrible cast. A terrible accent. An offensive joke.

It could be a terrible twist ending that ruins everything that came before it. Or a plot hole that could have been sealed with one stroke of a pen.

Of course, sometimes the problems with a film run too deep to simply hope that one summary solution can instantly transform it into a masterpiece.

But other times? Maybe the solution really is that simple.

Here are 15 bad movies that could be vastly improved with just one change, from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker to Spider-Man 3.

Click here for The independentits ranking of the most glaring plot holes in famous films.

Aliens 3 (1992)

Most people’s biggest complaint Aliens 3 was the decision to kill off Newt at the very start of the film, which effectively redid the entire fight Aliens completely disputed. Surely it wouldn’t be hard to find an excuse for Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) to get to the prison vessel without slapping fans of James Cameron’s previous entry in the face.

Sigourney Weaver in 'Alien 3' (Fox)

Sigourney Weaver in ‘Alien 3’ (Fox)

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

This classic film starring Audrey Hepburn may not quite fit the description of a “horrible movie” – but one aspect has made it all but unwatchable for many modern viewers. I am of course referring to Mickey Rooney’s racist interpretation of a Japanese character. Take it out, and the film is immediately multiplied tenfold.

Die Hard 4.0 (2007)

By the time a franchise is on its third sequel, chances are there’s going to be a bit of a dip in quality (with all due respect to the freakish persistence of the Mission: Impossible movies). Die Hard 4.0 was the first of John McClane’s outings to feel truly disposable, a by-the-numbers action thriller that was miles from the magic of the original. It would be an easy way to give it a little more of that original Die hard grit, but: add some real violence. The first two Die Hard films were released in the UK with an “18” rating (downgraded years later to a “15”). The violence in issue four was toned down to appeal to a wider market – and it undoubtedly lost something in the process.

Doctor Sleep (2019)

In the first two-thirds of the driving time, Doctor sleep was an overall winning horror film that did a good job of establishing its own distinct mythology – despite being a sequel to The Shining. For its third act, however, the action returned to the Overlook Hotel, which featured in Kubrick’s 1980 horror classic, and the whole affair devolved into a giddy mania of references and callbacks. Lose the Overlook and you’ve got a pretty great horror movie on your hands.

Ewan McGregor i

Ewan McGregor in “Doctor Sleep” (Warner Bros)

I Am Legend (2007)

I Am Legend was hardly a disaster, but any fan of Richard Matheson’s 1954 book will tell you that the ending of the adaptation left a lot to be desired. Instead of having Will Smith’s Dr Robert Neville learn that he was indeed the villain in the eyes of the infected masses – the “legend” of the film’s title – the film simply saw him die as an untroubled hero, losing all the nuance and deeper meaning of the story’s conclusion. It’s an easy change to make; a variant of the book’s ending was actually shot as a deleted scene.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

There are parts of Steven Spielberg’s much-maligned adventure sequel that no amount of tinkering will save; some people are always going to insist that aliens have no place in one Indiana Jones film. But there is one moment that always made the film an easy target for critics – the scene where Indy (Harrison Ford) survives a nuclear bomb explosion in a refrigerator. Really?

Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in 'Kingdom of the Crystal Skull' (David James)

Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in ‘Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ (David James)

The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)

Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation of Michael Crichton’s hastily mined adventure sequel had its highlights, but ultimately fell far short of the 1993 original. Perhaps the biggest problem was its insistence on a GodzillaThe “T-Rex on the loose in San Diego” sequence, which Spielberg decided to add just weeks before filming began. The plan was originally to make this segment the focus of its own sequel – which it may have done The lost world far more coherent. As it is, however, it feels flashy and redundant. In addition, the sequence derails the narrative at a crucial point in the story.

Les Misérables (2012)

There was a lot of talk about Tom Hooper’s adaptation of the hit stage musical Les Misérables when it first came out. While critics praised Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, one cast drew almost unanimous derision: Russell Crowe, who played the villainous Javert. In truth, Crowe’s performance is actually pretty good, but his singing is wildly cranked up by some of his classically trained co-stars. Replace Crowe with a Broadway-caliber singer and the whole movie clicks up a gear.

Russell Crowe in

Russell Crowe in “Les Miserables” (Universal)

Passengers (2016)

This sci-fi film, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, saw Pratt’s character condemn Lawrence to a life of co-dependent isolation when he wakes her prematurely from cryosleep to keep him company aboard a luxury spaceship. As many suggested at the time, the film would have worked much better if it started at the moment Lawrence was awakened, so we could discover Pratt’s transgression when she does. Instead, there’s no twist here and significantly less intrigue as a result.

Spider-Man 3 (2007)

How to fix Spider-Man 3 is simple: get rid of Venom. After the runaway success of the first two Spider man films, Sam Raimi should have been given carte blanche to do whatever he wanted with the third. Instead, studio executives forced Raimi to cram Spider-Man’s shockingly popular nemesis into a film that already featured two villains—Thomas Hayden Church’s Sandman and James Franco’s Harry Osbourne. Spidey 3The main problem was feeling crowded and underdeveloped. These are two problems that would have been at least partially solved by removing Venom – and with him comes Topher Grace’s lackluster performance.

'Spider-Man 3' saw Peter Parker face three separate supervillains (Sony)

‘Spider-Man 3’ saw Peter Parker face three separate supervillains (Sony)

Star Trek into Darkness (2013)

JJ Abrams’ sequel to the generally well-liked one Star Trek reboot found a promising villain in Benedict Cumberbatch’s Commander John Harrison. When it is later revealed that he is actually the infamous franchise villain Khan, it all unravels. Just let him be an original enemy – the movie would be all the better for it.

Star Wars IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Okay, the “one change” needed to fix this low point in the franchise is pretty big and thus: get rid of the Emperor. The decision to bring back Ian McDiarmid’s villainous Emperor Palpatine, following his apparent demise in Return of the Jedi, was a disastrous one. It was never really explained in the film – the expository line “somehow Palpatine came back” – has been widely mocked on social media. Without him, the film would have found a far more compelling main villain in Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Plus a narrative that wouldn’t be full of so many plot holes.

“They fly now”: “Rise of Skywalker” is considered by many Star Wars fans as the low point of the series (LucasFilm)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

It’s easy to see why Peter Jackson’s JRR Tolkein adaptation was split into three films – following the success of Lord of the Rings, it must have been financially irresistible to transform this modest prequel into an epic undertaking. But the results were undeniably sad. A standalone one-film adaptation of The Hobbit would have made much more sense, and had the potential to be much, much more compelling.

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