WhatCulture offers the Best and Worst Spielberg Films – Here’s their list of the Top 5 WORST films
Even Spielberg’s weakest films aren’t exactly bad – you won‘t see any of them making the lists of worst movies of all time – but simply suffer in comparison to his greatest achievements. No other film sums this up quite as well as The Terminal, an instantly forgettable and lightweight romantic comedy with Tom Hanks as stranded Russian immigrant Viktor Navorski.
I’ve seen it twice and I only distinctively remember two things; Tom Hanks’ bad Russian accent and the product placement – specifically Burger King. Also, despite being a silly little comedy, the film features a gigantic lavish set, which is a completely functional airport terminal which was constructed in a huge empty hangar.
It’s an impressive achievement sure, but there’s something depressing about such a grand multi-million dollar recreation for such a inconsequential and forgettable film. The aforementioned product placement (The fake terminal is full of real fast food outlets and shops) simply adds to the disappointment.
Worst Moment Of Spielbergian Schmaltz: Viktor spends ages collecting quarters from discarded trolleys to buy himself a juicy Burger King Whopper. Only slightly queasier than the romantic plot-line between Viktor and Catherine Zeta Jones’s flight attendant.
Hook has become something of a childhood classic for many who grew up in the ’90s and were introduced to the film at a young age. While it was lambasted at the time by critics, through VHS it became something of a family favourite. I’ve tried my best, but I can never quite manage to enjoy Hook. In many ways it always felt like the one film which was truly guilty of the many criticisms often thrown at Spielberg’s work.
The mere idea of making a sequel to the classic Peter Pan story by having Robin Williams starring as an adult Peter – now a successful lawyer with a family of his own – is deeply flawed to begin with. Still, it could have been far far worse, having apparently at one point been set to become a musical starring Michael Jackson. The film also became something of an ordeal to produce, going well over budget and suffering from strenuous production issues – most notably rumored difficulties between Julia Roberts and Spielberg.
Worst Moment Of Spielbergian Schmaltz: The misguided group of lost boys, who outdo a surprisingly restrained Robin Williams for loud and brash annoyance.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
I wish I could convey my own excitement as it was finally announced that Indy IV was actually happening. As a kid, Indiana Jones was my favourite series of adventure films, not Star Wars – meaning that for me, Crystal Skull was my equivalent of The Phantom Menace, I was that excited. Let’s just say my feelings on seeing the film were mixed, and while I didn’t hate it outright, it’s certainly one of Spielberg’s weakest films and the worst of the series by a mile.
The problems with Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull are so bountiful its hard to know where to start, but many of mine are inherently down to David Koepp’s deeply flawed and clumsy script – itself the mishmash of years of rewrites and rejected drafts. Crystal Skull is just about worth watching for the moments in which it successfully evokes the spirit of the series – such as the whip cracking warehouse opening or the university motorcycle chase – but it’s still a huge disappointment that will continue to provoke debate in years to come.
Worst Moment Of Spielbergian Schmaltz: It’s not the Fridge (I’m with Spielberg on this, it’s kind of funny) or the inclusion of aliens (it‘s a series full of the supernatural) but rather the awful script and the overuse of messy CGI. Why bother nostalgically having the old-fashioned Paramount logo at the start if we’re going to fade into an animated prairie dog that looks like something from Alvin and The Chipmunks ? Worst of all though is the hideous monkey swinging moment, which kicks off the awful third act of the film.
Always is Spielberg’s forgotten film. I’m serious, if you ask most people if they’ve seen Always or even if they’ve heard of it, chances are they’ll stare back with a blank expression. Released in 1989 in the disappointing period for Spielberg – having followed Empire Of The Sun and preceeded Hook – Always is a lightweight romantic comedy which failed to ignite the box-office or leave much of an impression on the few who saw it.
Starring Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter and John Goodman, Always is the story of a fire fighting pilot who is killed in action and returns as a ghost, to watch over the life of his love Dorinda. It’s not awful by any means, but like The Terminal it’s forgettable and guilty of over sentimentality. A remake of 1943 melodrama “A Guy Named Joe” Always is something of a vanity project for Spielberg, with the original being one of the films which inspired him to become a director.
Worst Moment Of Spielbergian Schmaltz: The overwrought and sappy ending which concludes a film full of overly sappy moments.
Jurassic World: The Lost World
You have to hand it to Spielberg for trying something different with The Lost World, crafting a sequel which is darker and more mean spirited than the adventurous original. Sadly the film never quite manages to reach a similar level of wonder or sense of adventure due to cardboard characters, a dull storyline and illogical plot turns. It’s fun seeing a T-Rex stampede around San Diego, but as Spielberg has admitted himself on the recent Blu-ray, it’s at odds with the film that comes before it.
There’s some fun to be had in Jeff Goldblum’s return as Dr.Malcolm (“Oooh ahhh, that’s how it all starts, but then there’s running, and screaming”) and as always Spielberg’s action set-pieces, like the thrilling moment that a trailer is left hanging over a cliff top with its occupants still inside. The Lost World is a passable adventure movie (and beats the pants off Jurassic Park III), but as a sequel to Jurassic Park it’s distinctly lacking in the same feeling of wonder which made the original so good.
Worst Moment Of Spielbergian Schmaltz: Ian Malcolm’s precocious daughter Kelly takes on a group of Raptors with a lame gymnastics routine.