Johnny Depp is an exceptional actor. Through the passage of time, the American has developed himself into one the directors’ favourite choices to represent their ideas on the big screen. Be it his first venture, ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ (1984) or his masterful portrayal in ‘Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street’ (2007), the artist has perfectly established himself in the hearts of all.
Nonetheless, from time and time again, it’s always fun to talk about such reputable performer’s poor performances. For combining the list, I have taken into account primarily Depp’s pieces colluding with some writing and direction. So, here is a list of worst movies of Johnny Depp.
15. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
This was a tough choice. While ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ can be considered as one of Tim Burton’s best films, Depp’s portrayal of the character, Willy Wonka had several issues with it. It’s very important for movie adaptations to have certain sincerity towards the source of inspiration. Roald Dahl’s 1964 novel introduced us to a much adorable and lovable chocolatier. Even though the 1971 adaptation, ‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory’ wasn’t as much true to the book, the character of Willy Wonka played by Gene Wilder was spot on. However, despite being a great actor, Depp did not quite portray the character. He looked like a character terrified and socially awkward. To justify Burton’s choice, his movie had the classic Burton essence and gothic elements to it. Nevertheless, Depp’s dark portrayal just did not create the aura of the children’s loved character.
14. Benny & Joon (1993)
‘Benny & Joon’ (1993) isn’t a bad film, but again isn’t Depp’s best performance either. The Jeremiah S. Chechik directing is superfluous with slapstick and physical comedy which clouds Depp’s and Mary Stuart Masterson’s performances.
13. Tusk (2014 film)
The Kevin Smith directed comedy horror movie is about an arrogant podcaster whose plate gets too full when he gets more than the bargain for when he travels to Canada to interview a mysterious recluse who has a distressing fondness for walruses. The film overindulges in comedy which rather morphs into something irritating. The characters written lack depth and even the brilliant Depp fails to bring any profundity to the character or the plot.
12. The Libertine (2004)
An adaption of Stephen Jeffreys’ play of the same name, the film is the story of John Wilmot, aka the Earl of Rochester played by Depp, a 17th century poet who famously drank and debauched his way to a premature death, only to earn posthumous critical acclaim for his life’s work. Exploring themes of corruption and hedonism, the film could’ve speared its way into success. The reworking of the play misses out on the initial phase of the screenplay. While the writing worked out on the stage, it does not seem fitting for the big screen.
11. The Ninth Gate (1999)
The collaboration of Roman Polanski and Johnny Depp sounds like a recipe for success, but was not. Depp plays Dean Corso, a book dealer, who finds himself with a 17th century satanic text called “The Nine Gates”. Loosely based on Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s 1993 novel ‘The Club Dumas’, the film does not develop. ‘The Ninth Gate’ falls prey to what every movie falls to – adapting a book into a movie. The director is incapable in moulding the book in 133 minutes. The movie slips into the devil part without acknowledging much of the preceding events. Polanski was a favourite among the audience and critics with ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ (1968), but is seemingly incapacitated with this 1999 film.
10. Dark Shadows (2012)
The third Tim Burton film on the list, ‘Dark Shadows’ is a 2012-remake of the gothic television soap opera, ‘Dark Shadows’ (1966). Starring Depp as an imprisoned vampire, Barnabas Collins, the horror comedy film is based on his attempts to protect his dysfunctional descendants. Set in the 18-century fictional town of Collinsport, every element seems to be perfect for Burton’s expanse of creativity. However, the dynamic duo’s collaboration miserably fails. On one hand the 1966 T.V. show had a melodramatic essence with a certain charisma in it; the remake complete misses out due to a turn towards comedy. Burton and Depp always managed to unite their ideas and the audience by creating the most memorable characters. However, this film does not do so and falls through a well from the start.
9. The Rum Diary (2011)
Written and directed by Bruce Robinson, ‘The Rum Diary’ is based on Hunter S. Thompson’s novel of the same name. The plotline is quite simple – An American journalist Paul Kemp, played by Johnny Depp opts for a freelance job in Puerto Rico for a local newspaper during the 1960s. However, he struggles to balance his life between the island culture and the people living there. Robinson tries out the same elements as the Terry Gilliam film, ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ (1998). Like ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’, the Robinson film is also an adaptation of a Hunter novel. However, while the Gilliam flick dexterously moulded the book into a movie, ‘The Rum Diary’ fails to do so. The 2011-movie overshadows Depp’s talent by a messy narrative which does not bring a proper conclusion to the plot. The picture heavily depends on visual brilliance and a heavyweight star-cast, but completely misses out on the essential points of writing, direction and acting.
8. Alice in Wonderland (2010)
There is something about Burton and adaptations. Burton has mastered the art of directing dark, gothic, eccentric and quirky fantasy films. His creations like ‘Beetlejuice’ (1988), ‘Edward Scissorhands’ (1990) and ‘Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street’ (2007) exudes of brilliance. However, with ‘Alice in Wonderland’, Burton adapts Lewis Carrol’s mystic and visually-beautiful world into his typical “Bertonusk” world. Depp plays Tarrant Hightopp or the famously known The Mad Hatter. Depp’s interpretation of the character isn’t poor acting, or even poor writing. Unfortunately the problem arises the fact that Burton’s genre isn’t coherent with creations meant for children. What adds to the problem is that the movie overindulges in a narrative style and computer-generated-imagery.
7. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)
The first film of the series not to be directed by Gore Verbinski, ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’ is about Jack Sparrow’s and Barbossa’s quest to embark on a journey to find “the elusive fountain of youth” while Blackbeard and his daughter try to spoil their mission. This fourth instalment isn’t the worst film, but is the start of the franchise’s fall. It did break many box office records though, becoming the 23rd-highest-grossing film of all times worldwide, but isn’t impressive with the writing and direction. Even with a simplistic synopsis, the film managed to tangle the brains with a confusing storyline and an overabundance of characters. Depp doesn’t bring anything new and the story does not develop into anything as such.
6. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017)
The fifth instalment of the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ franchise, the Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg directed film is about another Captain Jack Sparrow mission to search the trident of Poseidon while being pursued by an undead sea captain and his crew. With Depp representing the infamous Captain Sparrow, the 2017 sequel tries to repeat the plotlines and layer it with an established star cast. It is crammed with characters which essentially nullifies the plot.
5. Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)
A sequel to ‘Alice in Wonderland’ (2010), this 2016-film saw Depp reprise his role as The Mad Hatter. However, unlike its predecessor, this was both critical and commercial failure. With a change in the directorial seat, James Bobin takes over Burton. ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ does manage to nail the visual effects, but falls off the cliff with everything else. Most saw it as an unnecessary sequel and lacked any charm that Lewis Carroll created with his absurd world. It attracted quite the negative evaluations and was nominated for three Golden Raspberry Awards – Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel, Worst Supporting Actor for Johnny Depp and Worst Screen Combo for “Johnny Depp and His Vomitously Vibrant Costume”.
4. The Tourist (2010)
‘The Tourist’ is a romantic-comedy thriller which lacks romance, comedy or thrill. Starring the “bombastic” pair of Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp with Paul Bettany and Timothy Dalton as the supporting acts, the flick has nothing to celebrate. Set in Italy,Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck introduces us to Depp as a broken-hearted mathematician, Frank whose life changes after he comes across the mysterious Elise, played by Jolie. There is not much to say about the film, the ratings and reviews speak for themselves. With a 20% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a two out of four rating by legendary critic Roger Ebert, the film received raving negative heat from all. It lacks the basic elements required to fulfil its genre of a romantic-comedy thriller. There is no chemistry between two of the most celebrated stars, it lacks any “comic” elements and the narrative just drains out the life of the viewer’s owing to its slow writing and direction.
3. Transcendence (2014)
Directed by debutant Wally Pfister, ‘Transcendence’ is a dystopian science fiction film. The American has worked as a cinematographer under visionary director Christopher Nolan, and is credited for works like ‘The Dark Knight Trilogy’, ‘Inception’ (2010) and even films like ‘Moneyball’ (2011) and ‘The Italian Job’ (2003). However, with ‘Transcendence’, it looked as though he did not acquire any of the legacy created by the visionary directors. The story is about a scientist, played by Depp, whose drive for artificial intelligence takes a dangerous turn when his consciousness is uploaded into a program. One of the primary issues with the flick is the screenplay which lacks inspiration. American writer, poet and film critic Michael Atkinson called it “vast plot holes and superhuman leaps of logic”. Johnny Depp’s films are often known to have memorable characters. However, this 2014 flick does not have any stimulating characters.
2. The Lone Ranger (2013)
The Gore Verbinski film received two Academy Award nominations for Best Visual Effects and Best Makeup and Hairstyling. That’s the only thing to look forward to for its producers. The 2013 movie was a commercial and critical failure. The American western action film is about Native American warrior Tonto’s memories of him and John Reid, aka the Lone Ranger’s efforts to bring down wrongdoing and establish justice. The film was quite under the spotlight with it actually being the first theatrical release to feature the titular character in 32 years. The formula for the film’s success looked just perfect – a director famous for film like first three films of the Pirates of the Caribbean film saga, The Ring (2002), and Rango (2011), an actor successful with the director and a famous tale. However, none of the elements worked. The 2013 flick tried to reimagine and relive the saga, while commercially modernising it with visual effects. Despite having a talented star cast, backed-up by Depp, the acting was bland without any essence to it.
1. Mortdecai (2015)
Johnny Depp’s career has slipped into a decrescendo over the past few years and ‘Mortdecai’ is the epitome of this fall. Directed by David Koepp, the film is about a Mi5 agent and part time rogue Charlie Mortdecai, played by Depp, who is given the task to recover a stolen painting supposedly containing a secret code that leads to lost gold. Based on the ‘Mortdecai’ comics by English author Kyril Bonfiglioli, the “thriller” fails to bring any thrills. It looks as though the director tried to woo the audience by using Depp and his famous transformative experience. Panned by critics and spectators alike, the film tried to be unnecessarily funny which killed off the plot. The 2015 movie ended on the notes for a sequel, we certainly hope that they do not make one.