Life is too short for bad films. As cinephiles, we tend to stay away from them but then every film could be a great experience. There are films that are completely forgettable in their entirety. These are films we’ve had to endure to for some reason and don’t bother for a revisit but some forgettable films could have some memorable moments in them. And how often do we discuss them? Not a lot, right? So let’s take some time out and dissect great scenes in bad films. Also the numbers here do not indicate rankings of the films.
15. World War Z (2013) – “Jerusalem Scene”
‘World War Z’ is an out and out bad film that is an epic failure on almost every aspect; the banal storyline, poor visual effects and weak plot-writing. It depicts the story of a world torn by a mysterious infection that turns people into zombies. While the film is a highly forgettable affair with some decent thrills in between, this one gripping scene makes it a very memorable feast. Piles of bodies pile up against the wall in Jerusalem and the film suddenly picks up as there’s absolute mayhem across the city. The build up to the scene is perfect as we sense danger lurking around the corner and eventually bursting out with fierce energy.
14. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) – “The Warehouse Fight”
‘Batman v Superman’ was one of the most hyped movies of last year. Apparently, the film turned out to be one of the major disappointments, both critically and commercially. My distaste for Superhero films in general would deprive the film of a fair judgement here. But it was one of those rare moments when a film completely grabs you, out of the blue, even though for a very brief period of time. The warehouse fight scene is just an absolutely thrilling power-packed action sequence that just lets you forget the mess the film was.
13. Outbreak (1995) – “Clean Sweep Monologue”
‘Outbreak’ succeeds in capturing the horrors of an epidemic that plagues a nation but what it miserably lacks is some restraint and finesse in its approach. Barring some hilariously overdone scenes, the film is watchable for the most part. The one scene, however, that stands out in the film is the fierce monologue delivered by J.T. Walsh in an attempt to awaken his subordinate officers and fight against a disease that would plague the entire nation. Walsh utters every line with ferocious intensity and inspiring charisma, bringing in a sense of riveting power and seriousness the entire movie was lacking.
12. Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999) – “Lightsaber Battle”
George Lucas’ epic soap opera couldn’t quite live up to its massive expectations 16 years after its final installment in the trilogy. ‘The Phantom Menace’ was the first installment of the Star Wars prequel trilogy and began to become a more of a cultural phenomenon from here on. The visuals took on as the writing went on to become increasingly weaker as the series progressed. However, Darth Maul’s epic lightsaber duel makes up for everything as the sequence revives the enthralling magical entertaining power of its earlier installments and reminds us that Lucas is still very much in his elements. The prequel trilogy hasn’t been as satisfying as its original but nevertheless this is a scene that would remain etched in the memory of every ‘Star Wars’ fan.
11. War of the Worlds (2005) – “Opening Scene”
‘War of the Worlds’ is one of the weaker endeavours in Steven Spielberg’s highly respected body of work. What the film suffers from is the sheer conventionality of its genre. The film does not break new grounds unlike most of Spielberg’s works and the whole Alien invasion scenario comes off as extremely dull and painfully boring. But with Morgan Freeman as the narrator and some awe-inspiring, otherworldly visuals using Janusz Kaminski’s genius, Spielberg crafts one of the most mesmerising opening scenes that pulls you right into the film. Sadly, the final output was a huge disappointment.
10. Death Proof (2007) – “Car Chase”
Yes, a Quentin Tarantino film makes the list. ‘Death Proof’ is undoubtedly one of his weakest works. Tarantino’s love for slasher/exploitation cinema is visible in every frame but the film comes off as way too self-indulgent at most places with its overlong dialogues and fails to captivate you with bland characterisation and some scenes that add nothing to the plot. The famous car chase sequence just brings Tarantino back to his best elements and it was just the kind of punch the entire film was lacking. it’s just quintessential Tarantino; tense, exciting and plain fun.
9. Deep Blue Sea (1999) – “Russel’s Death”
‘Deep Blue Sea’ is a film that has become so hilariously entertaining in all its absurdities. Every single aspect of the film is well beneath the very definition of mediocre cinema. The film tells the story of a a team of researchers who are working hard to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. The research process demands them to work with sharks and this puts them in serious danger. Samuel Jackson, as Russel Franklin, comes off as the film’s biggest star and leads the way in taking on the sharks with an inspiring speech to pump his group up. But before he finishes, a huge shark bursts out and pulls him into the water. A shocking moment in an otherwise bad film.
8. Prometheus (2012) – “Abortion”
Ridley Scott’s ‘Prometheus’ has an exciting premise that never really achieves what it promises and eventually ends up being a highly forgettable affair. The narrative doesn’t really engage in a way we would have liked it to and is replete with bland twists that hardly resonate with the storyline. But there’s an absolutely jaw-dropping sequence where Shaw decides to use automated surgery and gets the process underway. The raw tension Scott builds on to the scene is nerve-wrackingly intense and is bound to keep you on the edge of your scenes, reminding what the rest of the film lacked in tone.
7. Scent of a Woman (1992) – “Final Scene”
Al Pacino’s controversial Oscar Winning performance consumes ‘Scent of a Woman’ in its entirety to the point that it becomes frustratingly tedious and annoying. At over 156 minutes of running time, the film is pointlessly stretched and ends up being a hard sit-through. But the film very nearly redeems itself through the closing scene where Frank (Al Pacino) bids goodbye to Charlie as he leaves for his home and greets his niece’s little kids playfully walking towards them. It gives such a warm, beautiful tone to the film with a sense of restraint the film was miserably lacking and comes off as a redeeming quality and a brief little pay off to what has been a tiring sit-through.
6. Knowing (2009) – “Crash Scene”
Alex Proyas’ ‘Knowing’ excels in crafting an eerie atmosphere and tries to build on a few interesting ideas but ultimately ends up being a massive disappointment. It tells the story of a professor who obtains an encrypted set of codes from a time capsule which convinces him that he avert disasters and catastrophes. There are quite a few mesmerising scenes in the film but the one that is truly brilliant comes off as the plane crash scene. An incredible amount of uneasiness builds on to the scene leading up to the moment as it terrifies you in a long shot where the protagonist looking to save people he can.
5. Training Day (2001) – “Diner Scene”
‘Training Day’ is a film almost single handedly taken on in its entirety by Denzel Washington. Denzel’s performance as Alonzo Harris is one the most dashing, flamboyant acting performances you’ll ever see in a film that is otherwise every bit forgettable. Ethan Hawke’s character enters the hotel where he is supposed to meet Alonzo for the first time. In a not-so-pleasant interaction, Alonzo toys with him as we are revealed of his intimidating, dynamic persona. Denzel Washington is simply brilliant and very nearly steals the show in a scintillating moment of intense, fierce, absorbing energy.
4. The Village (2004) – “Those We Don’t Speak of”
An undeniably beautiful scene in an otherwise mediocre film. M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘The Village’ suffers from a downright terrible plot-twist that ruins the entire film. But there’s a scene where Lucius snatches Ivy’s hand before the monster approaches her and moves her inside. Using slow-mo and a a captivating score by James Newton Howard, Shyamalan crafts a stunning scene of inexplicable beauty and humanity in a film that has disappointed us in many ways.
3. Any Given Sunday (1999) – “The Speech”
Oliver Stone’s ‘Any Given Sunday’ tells the story of a passionate, veteran Football coach dealing with his team’s losses and his own inner conflicts. ‘Any Given Sunday’ is a film made with passion and heart but has some genuine pacing issues and some memorable scenes scattered across its feeble narrative. Nearing its end, Tony D’Amato (Al Pacino) gives an inspiring speech to pump his team up one last time. A melancholic guitar solo intensifies in the background as Pacino’s speech gradually sinks in and begins to resonate with the players on a deeply emotional level. Stone beautifully captures the scene at its heart, hypnotising you with the sheer passion and emotional vigour running through D’Amato’s words.
2. The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) – “T. Rex in the City”
A thoroughly disappointing sequel to one of the greatest adventure dramas of all time, ‘The Lost World: Jurassic Park’ is one of Steven Spielberg’s misfires. The film lacks the enthralling cinematic power of its original and compromises a whole lot on the content as the characters are poorly etched out and we never really find ourselves investing in them. However, this was the one scene that made me realise I was witnessing the sequel to a truly great film. It’s the sequence where the T Rex makes it to the city and causes mayhem on the streets in what is an absolutely nail biting moment of pure scintillating piece of cinema that keeps me on the edge every time I see it.
1. The Godfather Part III (1990) – “Confession”
Over the years many people have come out in support of ‘The Godfather Part III’ and a good chunk of people consider the film to be an underrated classic with many claiming that the Corleone family needed an organic conclusion and the third instalment was a fitting end to the trilogy. I for one could never bring myself to sympathising with this film as it destroys every single element that made ‘The Godfather’ and ‘The Godfather Part II’, two of the greatest films ever made in cinema. This one scene, however, gave a redeeming quality to the film. Michael goes to confess his sins over to the priest and in an emotionally gripping moment, he breaks down after confessing to have committed the murder of the film. It’s just the kind of scene that brings back the class, subtlety and raw emotional power of its prequels for a very brief moment.
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