Question of the Week: Which films with great ensemble cast that fail to deliver?

It really pains me that the movie that *inspired* me for this edition of Question of the Week is one I’ve actually been looking forward to for some time. When I first blogged about it in January 2013, I was super duper excited about the cast. The movie is called The Deadly Game in the UK, complete with an even cheesier poster. I much prefer the Paul Shipper version on below right, if only the film itself is even half as intriguing.


I never thought a British thriller starring Gabriel Byrne, Rufus Sewell AND Toby Stephens be so insufferably dreary. Even the actors look bored here, only Rufus seems to be having a bit more fun than the rest. My hubby actually fell asleep halfway through and I didn’t bother waking him up. If it weren’t for these three of my favorite Brits, well four if you count London which is practically a character in itself, I would’ve turned it off within 10 minutes. I don’t really feel like reviewing it, but I agree with these reviewers:

All Things to All Men is the latest attempt to make a British Michael Mann-style crime epic based on a fundamental misunderstanding of what Michael Mann actually does as a filmmaker. – The Scotsman

“Despite Sewell’s laconic ruthlessness, Stephens’s steely taciturnity and Byrne’s world-weary arrogance, there’s an all-round lack of conviction.”Radio Times


Now this one sums my feelings exactly:

“[George Isaac’s] dizzying array of double-dealing gangsters, cops, hoodlums and hit men seem to be weirdly obsessed with taking in the sights. Issac describes his film as “a love letter to London”. Seriously, they should just get a room.”

So the only *character* that’s not wasted is London, but even so, the setting seems has no purpose. There’s a great shot of Stephens inside the London Eye but all he does is take a phone call! There is really no reason to have that scene shot there other than for pure visual spectacle. It’s a shame really, this could’ve been so much better and more gripping when you’ve got THIS kind of talents involved. It made me think of other movies that didn’t deliver despite the great cast, in fact you could say the cast is completely wasted. And I’m talking terrible films here, not just middling. Just from the past couple of years alone, we’ve got Gangster Squad, Now You See Me, The Monuments Men. Fortunately I skipped some of those Love, Actually copycats like Valentine’s Day or New York, I Love You (which I turned off after about 5 minutes). Oh and I avoided Movie 43 like the plague, I mean I don’t think ANY actor could’ve possibly saved such a movie.

So now your turn… what’s the worst movie(s) you saw with a great ensemble cast?

106 thoughts on “Question of the Week: Which films with great ensemble cast that fail to deliver?

    1. Ah I’d agree with you on that Sam, I too didn’t find it to be as amazing as I thought it would with THAT cast. But I wouldn’t call it bad, in fact I might give it another shot at some point.

    1. Oh right, NINE!! Even Daniel Day couldn’t save that one though I still enjoyed two of the musical segments w/ Cotillard. I think Don Jon’s cast is just ok tho, it was just JGL and Scarlett so I don’t consider it an ensemble, but yeah, it was waaaay too much porn.

          1. I liked Danza; the role was awful but he did some great work. I hated JGL for giving Larson one line. I know that was kinda the whole point but that character was just terribly written.

            1. Yeah the role is a more stereotypical but it’s been ages since I saw Danza in anything so it was still a hoot. I do think Brie made the most of that single line though, but yeah she should’ve been utilized better.

  1. PrairieGirl

    Ha ha, now you know why I didn’t feel like reviewing ATTAM after I saw it last year in London. Apparently Londoners agree with us… it was amazing to see only about 20 people total in the audience, and on a Saturday night even… yikes! Just like you said: excellent cast, bad movie.

    1. Yeah, that’s too bad! I mean it’s got THREE of my fave Brits, and the two Black actors on there are pretty good as well. But the plot is just preposterous and lame, it’s trying to be cool but falls flat. Everyone looked bored, only Rufus managed to look somewhat interested, ahah. I do like the one action sequence w/ Toby though, man he should’ve been James Bond instead of just the villain!!

  2. The Monuments Men = a “terrible” movie? Ouchie! 😉

    Stinkers that come to mind for me are Valentines Day (sorry, I had to mention it) and Cloud Atlas. I know some love Atlas but I can’t imagine sitting through that grueling exercise again! 🙂

    1. Sorry Keith!! I guess I’d file that under ‘middling’ not terrible then, but really it should’ve been so much better. I enjoyed Cloud Atlas a bit more than you but I totally understand people finding it unbearable.

      1. LOL!!! Me too. And it was so heavy-handed with some of its preachiness. I also thought it was way too indulgent for its own good and it wasn’t nearly as grand as it thought it was.

        1. I have to admit most of the make-up job and the atrocious accents were distracting. It was an overly-ambitious project too, but for some reason I didn’t mind it as much as you, Keith. I might even see it again as my hubby hasn’t seen it, so we’ll see if I still like it the second time around.

        2. Sati and Keith I agree, I just kept thinking what the hell is going on and why why why. Why do they talk like that, why do they look like that, why is this movie “good.” Why did I waste 2 hours of my life?!

  3. Wow. Another stinker huh? Well I know how that goes. Monuments Men was a disappointment. So was The Counselor. I was very disappointed by The Company You Keep. Sometimes an ensemble cast means an elaborate disaster. Ha.

    1. I expect The Counselor would be a popular answer, man that is such a waste of a terrific cast. But I blame Cameron Diaz as her scene sounds preposterous. Hmmm, my hubby actually liked The Company You Keep when he saw it on a plane ride. I’m still curious to check that out, tho I really don’t want to see Shia, ahah.

    1. Ted S.

      You’re not alone Michael, I thought American Beauty was an overrated and pretentious film. Of course when I said that back in 1999, many of my film lover friends got mad at me, ha ha.

    2. It’s been a while since I saw American Beauty, but I barely remember most of it. I personally would rather see Russell Crowe won that year for The Insider than Spacey!!

  4. Ted S.

    It’s not the worst that I’ve ever seen but very bad considering how much I loved the first film, Ocean’s Twelve was just a self indulgent mess. I said it before and I’ll say it again, the filmmakers and stars had more fun making it and we the audience were left out in joining them in the party.

    I’ll go old school and say Battle of the Bulge was quite disappointing considering the cast and scope of the film.

    I’ll come back and add more titles once I remember more of them.

      1. Ted S.

        Yeah, there were so many inaccuracies in that film and somehow I thought I was watching a very long episode of the old Batman TV show. The battle scenes looked cartoonish to me but the film looked great though. It’s unfortunate that the script and direction were so lousy.

    1. I can’t remember Ocean’s Twelve, is that the one w/ Ellen Barkin?? I always think the ENTIRE Ocean’s movies are overrated with even more overrated actors anyway.

      1. Ted S.

        No, the one with Ellen Barkin was Ocean’s Thirteen which I thought was the best one in the series. And I can’t agree with you that the Ocean’s films are overrated, they’re fun and didn’t take itself seriously, which was why the second failed. ha ha.

      1. jackdeth72

        Interesting premise, Ruth:

        I could go back to A Bridge Too Far . A stellar for its time cast trying to give life to a Bernard Law Montgomery vanity operation that never should have been approved, let alone occur.

        The Waschoski brothers’ V… For Vendetta would have rocked. Had the producers, directors and lawyers stayed with the original intent of the comic or “graphic novel”. Instead of turning its message its head.

        Would also include the later films of The Expendables franchise. Where the first film was clever, yet a bit tawdry. Its later entrants seem to have evolved into an “old out of work actors” gig. Similar to ABC’s The Love Boat , but for lots more money.

        Tack on The Dark Knight Rises for its awful use of a superb and proven cast undoing whatever credibility the previous two films has created.

        Agree that the latest Tinker. Tailor. Soldier, Spy could have and should have been much more back storied and better.

    1. Have you seen it Tim? It’s nuts that they gave such a huge budget with an ambitious premise to a first time director, same with 47 Ronin!

  5. I know it’s been said a couple of times but Monuments Men was pretty poor. I guess a lot of blockbuster films have a lot of great people in them but turn out being terrible. The latest Indiana Jones film, for example, or The Expendables.

    1. Well hello Chris!! Your shoulder must be getting better now that you can type again 😀 Missed you buddy, hope you’re back blogging again soon.

      Oh man, The Expendables!! Been waiting for someone to mention that, somehow I forgot about it when I wrote the post but man, that is one I saw on the big screen ONLY for the cast, but it was an utter abomination!

    1. Yeah, someone has mentioned about Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. I don’t mind it being remade as the story had so much potential, and the cast is just WOW, again Cumberbatch AND Hardy in one movie, and I thought Gary Oldman was great in the lead, but I have to admit I was quite bored watching it.

  6. If you want to see Cumberbatch and Hardy you MUST SEE Stuart: a life backwards. I’m just writing about it now, in fact and will post later this week.

  7. Gurl, I wish that I had as many comments as you on any post!

    The first film I thought of was Evening. I mean, that cast was a who’s who of young, old and in the middle female talents and it was just a steaming pile of awful.

    1. It takes time to build an audience Drew, that will come 😀 I find that every time I covera local film fest the viewership always drops here.

      I so agree w/ Evening. Absolutely boring!

  8. Seems George Clooney has been a few ensemble films that didn’t deliver. I’d go with ‘The Hobbit’ ‘Crash’, ‘Bobby’, ‘Ocean’s 12’, and ‘The Big Wedding’.

  9. The most recent one that leaps to mind is THE COUNSELOR. It sounded so great but um, really wasn’t. Call me crazy but I actually liked TINKER TAILOR.

    1. Ahah, another one *vouching* for The Counselor. You’re not crazy for liking Tinker Tailor. I found it tedious on the big screen but I still might give it a shot on rental, for one thing the cast is tremendous. I wouldn’t call them wasted here.

  10. Not to pile on but Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy put me to sleep. So disappointing.

    Here’s a winner. How about Gary Marshall’s New Years Eve which rates a 7 out of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. With reviews like “Written on the level of a bad episode of The Love Boat” and “proves, in its tiny way, that no matter how bad the modern romantic comedy has already become, there’s still plenty of room for it to get worse” it’s a wonder it got made. Here we go. Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro, Halle Berry, Cary Elwes, Jessica Biel, Carla Gugino, Abigail Breslin, Hilary Swank, Sarah Paulson, Cherry Jones (President Taylor from TV’s 24), Hector Elizondo and uncredited cameos by Matthew Broderick and John Lithgow.

    Of course then again these people weren’t really “wasted” so I guess the whole movie is a wash on its use of talent. Zac Efron, Ashton Kusher, Ryan Seacrest, Alyssa Milano, rappers Common and Ludacris, NBAer Amar’e Stoudamire, Seth Meyers, Katherine Heigl, Jon Bon Jovi, Sofía Vergara, Russell Peters, Lea Michele, James Belushi, Sarah Jessica Parker, Josh Duhamel. Yeardley Smith (aka Lisa Simpson), and last but not least Penny Marshall.

    1. Hi Dave! I haven’t seen NY Eve but I figure it’s probably as loathsome as the very concept sounds to me. Man that is quite a cast though, mostly the list from the top part, the rest not so much. I mean Ryan Seacrest???

  11. That’s easy. Cosmopolis. Here’s a film that shouldn’t have failed. Directed by David Cronenberg with a cast that includes Samantha Morton, Paul Giamatti, Matheiu Almaric, and Juliette Binoche. Instead, it is without question the worst film that Cronenberg has done led by an extremely lifeless Robert Pattinson while all of these great actors are wasted as they either have nothing to do or just talk like fucking robots. I want to believe another filmmaker made that movie but man, it was awful.

    I hate those Gary Marshall holiday movies. Some of the people who are in those films like de Niro, Julia Roberts, Bradley Cooper, Anne Hathaway, and Michelle Pfeiffer have no business in being in those crap films. Especially slumming with the likes of fuck-wads like Ashton Kutcher, Jessica Alba, Katherine Heigl, Jon Bon Jovi, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Ryan Seacrest. They aren’t ensemble-based films. It’s just a bad movie with this person and that person. Fuck that shit.

    Then you have these movies that insult the art of the great ensemble films that Robert Altman has perfected for so many years all because it aims for Oscar bait. I haven’t seen The Butler but the stunt-casting for that film made me puke and not want to see it. Bobby is a perfect example of the kind of movies I would never make. Hey, there’s Demi Moore, Ashton, Sharon Stone, Helen Hunt, Shia LaBeouf, Martin Sheen, Heather Graham, William H. Macy, Nick Cannon being the young angry black man, Hohan, Frodo, and Sir Anthony Hopkins all set around RFK’s assassination. It’s shit like that pisses me off as someone who loves cinema but can be insulted by the vanity in how these projects are made.

    1. Someone just mentioned that Juliette Binoche is in Cosmopolis. That’s a bummer that it’s terrible. Well if you like her, I highly recommend the two films of hers I reviewed yesterday.

      Ahah yeah, slumming it is right. Kutcher, Alba, Heigl, etc are not who I’d call *actors* in the sense as say, Daniel Day Lewis. I totally agree though that some of the projects like the Gary Marshall holiday movies are completely vanity projects. I haven’t seen Bobby but I quite appreciate The Butler despite its flaws and some of the preposterous makeup work.

  12. For me, the only major disappointment I can think of is Gangster Squad. It wasn’t bad, but the plot was generic and the characters not nearly developed enough for the actors portraying them. I enjoyed a couple of the action scenes, but I still couldn’t help but feel letdown by it.

    1. Oh I think Gangster Squad IS terrible, it was practically laughable! I thought the action scenes are way over the top as well. The only actor that I somewhat sympathized with was Josh Brolin’s character.

      1. He was the only decent character in the bunch. I think all the actors did fine, but they’re material was just so shallow I couldn’t have cared any less for them. Real shame too, I think it could’ve been really good if only the script had actually worked.

        1. Yeah and the casting of Emma Stone is just laughable, it’s like she’s playing dress up. I normally don’t care for Brolin, but here his character is the only one that’s most developed.

    1. Oh yeah they count. I hated Now You See Me, but I was still mildly entertained by Oz The Great and Powerful. Perhaps because I never saw the original movie.

      1. Now you see me was horrid! Oz I just couldn’t handle it I thought it would be better, but I am glad you somewhat liked it… yay someone did. James Franco is smiling somewhere happy as a clam.

    1. Hi Andina! I’ve heard all kinds of horrendous things about The Big Wedding so I avoided that one, but yeah Now You See Me was a huge waste of 2 hrs of my time.

  13. jackdeth72

    Hi, Ruth:

    It’s sad that your dream team signed onto such a questionable project. Something that has been going on with two “Go To” guys (Pacino and De Niro) of the 1970s through mid 90s.

    But, hey. Both Avatar and Prometheus hit the big screen. And I wouldn’t consider either to be great works of science fiction.

    1. Hi Kevin! Yeah it’s sad indeed, it was excruciating even though I still love watching these actors. Ahah yeah, Pacino and DeNiro seem to have fallen off the wagon many times since their prime.

      No I don’t think either of those films are sci-fi masterpieces, Avatar is a visual spectacle but lacking depth.

  14. Oh dear, Ruth. This doesn’t sound very good at all. Think I’ll avoid it. It’s never a good sign when a film changes name before crossing the pond.

    It’s a great question too. There’s nothing worse than a film with a great ensemble that turns out to be rubbish. The first one that springs to mind for me is “Seven Psychopaths” – Rockwell, Farrell, Walken, Harrelson and the great Tom Waits. I was very disappointed as I love all these guys.

    1. Yeah it’s really quite daft Mark. I know you’re a big fan of Michael Mann and this one seems to aspire to his work but unfortunately to no avail.

      Oh right, I still haven’t seen that film. That’s too bad as I really like In Bruges!

  15. It’s already been mentioned, but The Monuments Men stands out as a very recent example. It is inexplicable to me that such a great cast could lead to such bland and boring dirge.

  16. Hey, Ruth. You’re on a roll with your Questions of the Week! This one has inspired all sorts of conversation, too. 🙂

    What’s the worst movie I’ve seen with a great cast? I don’t know. But the Big Wedding has to be up there – such a fantastically amazing group of actors in a such a terrible flick. Though not the worst movie I ever seen, by any stretch, Elysium was disappointing, too. Foster, Copley, Damon . . . some pretty impressive names but a terrible flick.

    All Things to All Men sounds really bad, by the way. I doubt I ever see it!

    1. Ahah well sometimes a disappointing thing can actually spark an idea 😀 Glad I avoided The Big Wedding but that’s easy as soon as I saw Heigl’s name on there. Yep, agree w/ Elysium.

    1. Oooh that’s a great answer Brittani! I so agree, I never care much for Allen’s movies with the exception of Midnight in Paris, which is ironic as I wasn’t even a fan of Owen Wilson.

  17. Ocean’s 12 – all the component parts from the first film were there but none of the charisma, drama or entertainment value. A real let down.

    1. I don’t mind The Butler as a lot of ppl do, but haven’t seen The Men Who Stare at Goats. The trailer looked hilarious but too bad it didn’t deliver.

  18. That’s a tough one. The best answer I can think of is “Dune”, which wasn’t a terrible movie but did have a lot of story problems despute a really good cast, excellent visuals, and one of my favorite directors (David Lynch). Mos of the cast did a good job as well, the problems had momore to do with the length of the book it was based on.

    1. Hello John, welcome to FC! I haven’t seen Dune yet but I’ve been curious about that one. Too bad the film wasn’t good considering Lynch did it and it had a good cast. Wasn’t the guy from Twin Peaks on there?

  19. Prometheus comes to mind immediately. I honestly don’t mind the first half, but the second half is a huge letdown. The cast is really good. I’m working a post about the movie now and trying to keep it balanced. 😛

  20. Pingback: Five for the Fifth: NOVEMBER 2014 Edition |

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