It's no doubt that Steven Spielberg is one of the most influential and talented movie directors of all time, one that is undeniably and utterly one of the greatest. It's no wonder he's called the King of Hollywood— his five-decade long career has given us some iconic movies such from E.T., to, Schindler's List, and Jaws.
However, even the brightest geniuses make mistakes and it's from those mistakes people grow to become true icons in their fields. In Steven Spielberg's case, it's no different. Today, instead of focusing on his best work, we're looking back at some of his worst movies, the ones he should probably be embarrassed about and/or learn from.
20 1941 (1979)
It seems as though Steven Spielberg is not the best when it comes to comedy. It sounds absurd given the humor present in many of his greatest movies, but he's good at introducing humor amidst emotional or intense scenes, not so much when it's the sole focus. In this movie, Steven Spielberg gives his best attempt at a WWII comedy about an American city panicking over the news of a Japanese attack, but he fails miserably when he can only go as far as getting a chuckle here and there.
19 Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull (2008)
When a fourth Indiana Jones movie was announced, expectations were high. However, as soon as fans sat down in theaters to watch, it became painfully obvious that this was not going to work. The decision to cast Shia LaBeouf as Indiana Jones' son was a bad decision all on its own, and the fact that the movie strays from its original action-packed adventure plot to something more suited for younger audiences clearly shows how much the franchise was derailing. Let's not even talk about the aliens...
18 Always (1989)
What was an attempt at remaking Spencer Tracy's movie, A Guy Named Joe, ends up being a total failure. While Spielberg brings us visceral action scenes with plane crashes and airborne scenes, it becomes painfully obvious that the movie won't work as soon as the romance is introduced. Over-produced and unnatural, so different from the charming original, it becomes clear once again that Spielberg just isn't cut for comedy or romance.
17 Hook (1991)
Not even Robbin Williams' whimsical personality and incredible talent could save this movie. He plays an adult Peter Pan (which completely changes the entire moral of the original story), whose children are taken by Captain Hook. It's a movie that does a great job when it comes to showcasing the responsibilities of parenthood, but that completely goes against the mythology and lore (therefore the magic) of Peter Pan.
16 The BFG (2016)
This movie should have been great, it really should have. It brought back E.T. screenwriter Melissa Mathison. and Steven Spielberg would bring us back to an amazing world of children's fantasy. However, dialogue feels painfully scripted, unnatural, and the plot completely derails, especially when the heroine and the giant find themselves at Buckingham Palace. The humor is at times painful and the fantasy that should delight us is definitely not present in this movie. What a shame.
15 Munich (2015)
The premise is interesting, as it makes the audience reflect on how we deal with terrorism, but the movie itself is so unbearable and out of place that the original theme and question, although important, completely disappear from our minds. Scenes that are meant to be serious, commenting on terrorism and chaos, turn out comical. That's not what you want out of a movie that's supposed to be powerful.
14 War Horse (2011)
Although by the title and premise we're promised a charming and emotional story that deserves all the awards it was nominated for, the movie doesn't actually deliver on its premise. The horse serves only one purpose, to lead us from one short story to the next, as Joey goes through several moments of his life in the war, with new characters and situations.
These short stories make it impossible to develop empathy for any of the characters. What could have been a movie about WWI through the eyes of an innocent animal and the bond between him and his owner, becomes a hard to watch, bland story.
13 A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
This movie was actually originally intended to be directed by Stanley Kubrik, but Spielberg took over when Kubrik passed away in 1999. The result? An uneven and incomplete mess that poorly joins the vision of Spielberg with Kubrick, a warm and sentimental one against a cold and cynical vision. It just doesn't go together, at all, and it ruins what could have been a well-produced sci-fi movie.
12 Saving Private Ryan (1998)
The first scene depicting D-Day is definitely one of the most powerful, violent, scenes Spielberg has ever offered us. It's amazing. Yet, after that, everything just goes downhill. The movie wind up bland and loses the power it hyped us up with at the beginning. Even the cast, full of known and talented faces such as Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Ed Burns, and others, aren't able to save the movie in the long run.
11 The Terminal (2004)
Tom Hanks plays an incredibly charming, albeit awkward, East European foreigner with a dream only to end up trapped at JFK airport after his visa is rendered invalid. The web of different plots mash together into a complete mess, and we see yet again an attempt at comedy that just utterly fails. The romance, as well, seems overly scripted and sparkless, even with Tom Hanks' genius acting. What could have been an amazing, mature story ends up a disappointment.
10 The Adventures Of Tintin (2011)
It was hard to watch the trailer for Tintin and not get excited. The original comics were such a big part of people's lives that it's hard to imagine this going wrong. The elegant and beautiful comics are turned into an exhausting movie focused on eye-popping animation rather than characters and plot. The 3D animation is amazing, sure, but it's hard to connect with the characters that we used to love and were so full of personality in the comics when they're presented in such a bland way.
9 Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)
Twilight Zone, the series, was a classic and holds up as incredibly good TV, but when it was turned into a movie... well, things went south pretty fast. Spielberg's segment is boring and bland, becoming unbearable to watch due to how sickly sentimentalist it is. We don't see the slightest bit of inspiration or genius from the original episodes here— this just feels off. A poor depiction of a thrilling show.
8 Ready Player One (2018)
In this rather recent movie by Steven Spielberg, where gamers and 80s references are key, most of the time we were more amazed by the scenarios and effects rather than the actual plot. Characters lack development, a lack of passion, and mediocre plot direction— the movie is more nerd fan service than an actual moving or entertaining story. Ready Player One could have been a favorite for lovers of the genre, but it's lacking so much.
7 The Sugarland Express (1974)
The Sugarland Express is a movie that makes us wonder what would happen if Steven Spielberg hadn't become the big star he did. However, it's not one of the best indie movies, not even close, as it doesn't show much sympathy for its characters. Instead, we empathize with its antagonists, the cops. This younger Spielberg doesn't show much care for his main characters, so why should we? Once the director turns the audience against its own characters, it's hard to save a movie.
6 The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
What is it with Steven Spielberg and sequels winding up darker than the first movie? In the case of Jurassic Park, Spielberg introduced us to a second island with even more dinosaurs wreaking havoc. It's definitely less targeted at younger audiences and it just feels more terrifying than the first. However, even as a thriller, it fails miserably. Remember that scene where a little girl uses gymnastics to fight a dinosaur? Yeah, that says it all.
5 Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom (1985)
Indiana Jones was a character loved by many in the '80s, so when the second movie came along, children were excited and ready to hit the theaters with their parents to watch their hero come to life yet again. However, the second installment of the franchise takes the gruesome aspect to a whole other level, kicking it up a notch where it's hard to digest for younger audiences. Let's not even mention the female characters getting demeaned by the main ones. It makes minorities look horrible and brings terrible acting into the mix to create a perfect mess.
4 The Color Purple (1985)
Visually, the movie is stunning, no denying that, thanks to Allen Daviau's genius cinematography. However, the movie is hard to watch, especially when taking into consideration the abuse narrative and harsh & ugly truth of a woman's life. Does Spielberg take it a bit too far in the narrative, sharpening already dangerous edges? Definitely.
3 Minority Report (2002)
Minority Report's cutting-edge visual effects still impress today, but the movie completely ruins itself at the last minute, when it could have ended in an impactful way. Spielberg's obsession with not featuring ambiguous endings that leave room for thought or emotion ruined this movie.
When we see John Anderton being lowered into the ground, we are aware that he's lost but also at peace over his son passing away but, in good Spielberg fashion, Anderton ends up saving the day and ruining what could have been a perfect ending to a perfect sci-fi movie.
2 Empire Of The Sun (1987)
This large-scale drama showcases the horrors of war and the mundanity of life inside a concentration camp. At least, that's what it's supposed to do. It's a great movie when it comes to strong imagery— coffins floating down a river or the flashes of the atomic bomb— but it loses much due to a lack of passion. It never comments on anything happening. ?Everything just sort of happens, and it's one of the worst aspects of the movie.
1 War Of The Worlds (2005)
In this sci-fi classic, Steven Spielberg introduces us to Tom Cruise in the role of a father amidst a divorce, struggling to find time to bond with his kids, until the impossible happens: aliens take over. With all the disaster and spectacle Spielberg puts on display during the movie, the urgency is still never really felt. It's a definite miss, especially when compared to other movies of its genre.