5 Movies That Could Have Been Fixed By Swapping Their Flaws
When it comes to fixing bad movies, usually the solutions are obvious: Better story, better special effects, less Mark Wahlberg, etc. And a good rule of thumb is to never apply the bad parts of one movie to another film. No one making Deadpool ever said "Whoa, rewind. This is great shit, but it's really missing the Ryan-Reynolds-as-a-fleshy-mute-super-condom charm that X-Men Origins: Wolverine had."
But let me propose to you an advanced math equation: What if we did? And let me add another level to it: What if we took two movies, exchanged their flaws, and that switch actually made both films better? I know, you didn't come to Cracked for some dang ol' calculus. But I believe that in a few cases, if you took the worst parts of two questionable movies and exchanged them, you'd end up with two awesome movies. "Which movies, Daniel, you sex baron?" Why thank you for asking, people in general.
The Phantom Menace And The Force Awakens
The biggest issue with The Phantom Menace isn't Jar Jar Binks. Nor is it "Now THIS is podracing," though that is the quote I hear just before I wake up screaming for the mercy of any deity that will listen. No, the big problem is that in the realm of Star Wars, which is built around huge themes and climactic battles and unforgettable characters, The Phantom Menace seems to be kind of about nothing. There are trade regulations and a kid that might do something later and Liam Neeson's haircut. These are the only things that we're really given to latch onto. The rest is just a smattering of weirdness. The main villain is a ninja vampire with lightsabers that he duct-taped together, which is a far cry from the lumbering menace of Darth Vader.
On the other hand, The Force Awakens is too full of "classic" Star Wars moments. Remember in A New Hope when Luke was all like "Ugh, I wish I had less sand and more power converters" as he looked off into the twin sunset of Tatooine? Remember the music that played, "Theme For An Angsty Farm Nerd" by John Williams? That scene is ingrained in our heads. Well, the aim of The Force Awakens seemed to be a movie that is nothing but these scenes, a montage of "This is FUCKING IMPORTANT" moments. And it's not a bad film by any means. But it does feel strange to watch a Star Wars that seems to be asking me for a standing ovation every few minutes.
However, if you took this flaw from The Force Awakens and applied it to The Phantom Menace, suddenly the latter film gets the gravitas it needs to pull it out of the Watto-filled pit that it's dug for itself. The Phantom Menace desperately needs moments that we'll remember when we leave the theater, moments that feel even slightly Star Wars-ish. Sure, these moments are often ripe for parody the second they hit our corneas, but a grand, sweeping, orchestral bombshell is infinitely preferable to Qui-Gon taking future galactic douchebag Anakin aside to give him a Jedi anatomy lesson. To paraphrase a quote from the most annoying kid in my seventh-grade class, "WHAT WERE YOU SMOKIN', GEORGE LUCAS?!? HAHAHA. DRAGON BALL Z, EMINEM, ETC."
And if you took some of those sweet, inexplicable oddities from The Phantom Menace and sprinkled them throughout The Force Awakens, you'd get a movie that really felt like something we'd never seen before. Imagine that ninja vampire in The Force Awakens. He doesn't even have to be the main villain. You can still keep My Chemical Romance Vader, but throw in Darth Maul as a side quest. That shakes things up and holds The Force Awakens back from being A New Hope: Remix Edition. You might get a scene in which Rey fights Darth Maul. Rey. Fighting. Darth. Maul. If that doesn't sell you on a whole new trilogy, I don't think there's a lot of hope for you.
Quantum Of Solace and Spectre
Casino Royale is a great origin story for Bond. In the post-Batman Begins era, when every action hero seems to require reinvention in some suitably gritty, self-aware way, Casino Royale managed to feel like an organic piece of storytelling, and not the product of a film executive demanding that all jokes be cut and replaced by monologues about vague suffering. But after Casino Royale, we got Quantum Of Solace, which was about ... water shortages? Look, I'm not saying that we need to go back to the days of Bond using a remote-control helicopter to drop a bald, kitten-loving villain into a smokestack, but maybe give us something with a bit more whimsy than an unscrupulous utility company.
Spectre, on the other hand, was all about trying to make you believe that this was the biggest thing to happen to Bond ever. Remember every Daniel Craig Bond movie? The main bad guy in Spectre was secretly behind all of that. All the villains worked for Spectre and somehow failed to mention that. Remember every chase scene and fight sequence and doomed makeout session? They all led to THIS, Mr. Bond, because Spectre is important, goddammit. It is. Every plot twist in Spectre feels like the boast of a deluded child. "You say your uncle works for Nintendo? Well, my uncle IS a Nintendo."
The switch is easy: Give Quantum Of Solace just a tiny bit of the rampaging "You thought you knew James Bond. Think again" bluster that Spectre had. Just something to indicate that I'm watching a real, awesome James Bond movie, and not the James Bond equivalent of a phone call to his bill collection company. "The price of water is going to go up? Well, I certainly can't have that. I'm James Bond. Can I speak to a manager? I'm James Bond."
And then take Spectre down a notch with some of that classic Quantum Of Solace disappointment. I mean that in the best way possible. Bond has fought a ton of villainous organizations over the years, but Spectre has always been number one. They kicked over his sand castles, stole his prom date, and threatened the safety of that world he lives in. They're significant. But we don't need to flip the whole James Bond table over when we explain why they're significant.
Don't give them a plot wherein they're trying to create a monopoly on a country's water supply, but also don't given them a plot that piggybacks on the plots of the movies before it in a shallow attempt to add weight. It can still be meaningful without begging to be seen as the most meaningful thing that's ever happened to any character in the history of fiction.
Blade And Blade: Trinity
I love the Blade films like they're my children. If I ever do have children, my first will technically be my fourth, because I became a proud father in 1998, when Blade came out. But like any father, I was a little disappointed when my beloved son didn't quite stick the landing at the end of the movie. After 100 minutes of bloody, grimy hand-to-hand combat, a bunch of dudes exploded into skeletons and went inside the evil Deacon Frost. What? Why now? I'm not going to cry out for realism in my vampire movie, as "spirit skeletons with wings" will always come out of nowhere, but it's definitely a shift. This is followed by a short fight between Deacon and Blade, the greatest line in movie history, and a needle being spin-kicked into Deacon's face.
At the end of Blade: Trinity, however, Blade is taking on Dracula. Fucking Dracula. And the climactic scene between a vampire hunter and the ultimate vampire is ... a very simple fight. Wesley Snipes grunts and kicks. Dracula grunts and punches. Grunting and kicking are on Blade's resume, but you'd think that during a final confrontation with Dracula, the filmmakers would put some icing on the cake. Also, it kind of makes Dracula look bad. He's been a symbol of nearly unstoppable terror in dozens of films, but as it turns out, the secret all along has been to kick him, like, a lot.
If anything, the ending of the first Blade should've been a dozen minutes of Blade slowly chopping the shit out of Deacon Frost, followed, of course, by the greatest line in history. It fits the tone of film to cap it off with a measured ass-kicking, and not a headfirst dive into the bottom of a pool of craziness. That should've been saved for Blade: Trinity. Of course, we all dreamed of Blade turning into a ten-part series, with each installment somehow outdoing the last in terms of Blade quips and undead decapitations. But it's starting to look like we might not get that, which means that Blade: Trinity might as well have gone all-out in its attempt to make Dracula look like something more than a buff dude who hates smiles. Flying bones coming out of bodies, little bats that turn into people when they come inside, Blade singing the soundtrack as he does literally anything in the movie -- you name it and I'd honestly be fine with it. It's Blade: Trinity. It's not like you're gonna make it worse.
Godzilla 1998 And Godzilla 2014
The 1998 Godzilla is pretty infamous for taking Godzilla, a creature that blurs the line between radioactive science and mythology, and ripping every ounce of mysticism from it. The biggest plot point of the movie is the revelation that Godzilla is asexual, and because this is a film that was made in 1998, a lead character responds with "Where's the fun in that?" The cast of characters, with personality traits like "has a funny name," "carries camera," and "French," scream most of their lines, and remain engaging simply because, in a movie about a giant atomic monster rampaging through New York City, they're still the loudest things on screen.
On the other hand, the 2014 Godzilla can't decide whether it wants to provide a science-y look at Godzilla or a folkloric one, and so it drops the former completely about two-thirds of the way through. This is hard on the lead characters -- a soldier, his scientist dad, and another science dude -- as they are not really good for anything other than reading Godzilla-related encyclopedia entries out loud in order to progress the plot.
So why not switch them? The cast of the 1998 Godzilla is in no way prepared to handle a storyline that requires them to take lectures in Kaiju biology seriously. They're self-aware in that bizarre late '90s way, where every serious situation needs someone, preferably Martin Lawrence, shouting a punchline to prove that they, like you, aren't actually invested in what's going on. They're way too cool for that. So just stick that cast in the 2014 Godzilla, where they can scream and shout and run around while awesome monsters wrestle in the background.
And if you put the straight-faced cast of the 2014 film in the 1998 film, you'd be able to take the movie seriously, or at least appreciate the movie for taking itself seriously. That cast is perfect for longwinded conversations about Godzilla's sex life. It includes Bryan Cranston, who is watchable in anything -- doubly so if that anything happens to include a very passionate proclamation about monster boners.
X-Men: The Last Stand And X-Men: Apocalypse
X-Men: The Last Stand never quite gets as big as it wants you to think it is. Jean Grey has turned bad, Magneto is moving the Golden Gate bridge, and you have the Juggernaut! But on the flip side, Magneto's team has gone from rogues like Mystique and Toad to Multiple Man and a dude with quills. Wait, let me check Google to see what his name was. I bet it's "Quill." Yep, it's Quill. Never change, X-Men.
Anyway, it kind of dampens the mood when you have a trilogy-ending battle between Magneto and the X-Men, and the number-one guy on Magneto's side is a Juggernaut who shouts things like "I'M THE WRONG GUY TO PLAY HIDE AND SEEK WITH!" before knocking himself out when he runs into a wall. And then Magneto loses his power, Hugh Jackman cries over Jean Grey's dead body, and that's about it. This is the "last stand?" Aw, man. That's, um, that's unfortunate.
And it's the exact opposite of X-Men: Apocalypse, which in all things goes stupid. Throwing in every X-Man that it can get the rights to, X-Men: Apocalypse is the closest that we'll ever get to a live-action version of a really mediocre episode of the '90s cartoon. Classic X-Men characters seemingly come out of the fucking walls to join a plot that they're instantly an important part of. And it all ends with the extremely RPG-esque climax of all of the X-Men shooting their respective lasers at Apocalypse in order to stop him. The characters are just moments away from checking their pockets for healing items, and it doesn't feel out of place because there is not a single scene in X-Men: Apocalypse that isn't at least covered in a thin layer of dumb.
X-Men: The Last Stand needs a lot of that ceaseless dumb. The Last Stand is the culmination of three straight movies of Magneto problems. They've already done a smaller battle with him on top of the Statue of Liberty, and X2 was all about teaming up with him to stop a greater threat. The only thing left is an orgy of explosions and drop-kicks, slowly whittling down the health of final boss Magneto until he's ultimately stopped by a fireworks display of outrageous X-Men powers. Anything less than Magneto crumpling to his knees while the Final Fantasy victory music blares is unworthy.
X-Men: Apocalypse, on the other hand, which has just spent two hours paddling nonstop through a river of ridiculous nonsense, doesn't need a big ending. Apocalypse has been around for one movie, and while just having the name "Apocalypse" insists that you treat events with all the subtlety of crushing a Bud Lite can against your forehead, he doesn't deserve it. He wrecked some cities and organized an evil team, the same things that 90 percent of all supervillains have done since the idea of punching Superman back was first invented. Give me some kind of deeper connection to him, and then we can talk about handing him a Grand Slam Breakfast of fireballs.
Daniel is very excited to talk to you about Godzilla on his Twitter. He will bring the Mothra references, as long as you bring some appetizers.
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Angels are real, and they are bad news. Robert Brockway's Vicious Circuit is a punk rock, dark fantasy series of horror and humor. Check out the first two books, and pre-order the third, Kill All Angels, available December 26th.