The term “boring blockbuster” sounds like an oxymoron. Usually, such big projects are made to be exciting and fill up seats. Blockbusters are sometimes expected to be cheesy, but it takes a special kind of filmmaker to make a $200 million production a snooze fest. Studios usually rely on explosions and guns to please the average moviegoer, but when the common ingredients don’t please the masses, then it’s time to go back and check what you did wrong.
These films aren’t necessarily bad (one is even considered one of the best films ever made), but some of them can be dreadfully boring, or at least they'll put you to sleep if you're not in the right state of mind. Whether it’s their exponentially long runtime, a dry plot, or perhaps just a lethargic pace, these films can be a chore to get through and may even need more than one sitting to do so.
These are 14 Hollywood Blockbusters That Will Put You To Sleep
14 Lord of The Rings: The Return of The King (2003)
Now before you completely disregard this list, realize that The Return of the King isn’t on here because it’s considered a bad movie. In fact, it’s far from it. But for non-fantasy fans, the film can be a slog to get through.
At a 3 hour and 21 minute running time, it takes a lot of dedication to sit down and fully enjoy the movie in one sitting, and that’s just the theatrical edition. The extended edition is 250 minutes long (closing in at about 4 and a half hours) and is a new challenge all on its own. The added in footage answers questions that had been plaguing fans for three years but didn't matter for casual audiences.
While Lord of the Rings is still considered to be a great work of art, among the ranks of The Godfather and Citizen Kane, the extended edition is overkill for someone who just wants to kick back and relax, unless they really want to relax.
13 Interstellar (2014)
As soon as the first trailer hit, people were already raving over how beautiful Christopher Nolan’s film looked. After coming off the Dark Knight trilogy, this was such a different turn he was taking. Interstellar isn’t just a film; it’s an experience. It’s a cinematic ride best seen in theaters, which conveys how far film technology has come. The universe feels endless with the stars sprinkled throughout like glitter.
Nolan did a fine job channeling his vision, but Steven Spielberg’s influence was hinted throughout the film. The phrase “Love transcends all dimensions” repeats in different forms and becomes the key theme of the movie. Sadly, the theme bogs the story down, making it less about space and more about family.
For a film that’s supposed to be all about science, it takes a backseat when it comes to Matthew McConaughey's relationship with his son and daughter. Most of the time that science is mentioned, it’s ridiculous pseudoscience that doesn’t make any sense no matter how many viewings you sit through. Nolan tries to explain wormholes and other dimensions, but he only ends up making Neil deGrasse Tyson frustrated.
12 Apollo 13 (1995)
Apollo 13 is the true story of the daring mission of the 13th Apollo launching into space. After the oxygen tanks explode, the NASA flight controllers abort the mission and try everything in their power to get the astronauts home. Ron Howard did his best to make the film as accurate as possible, even having NASA consultants on set. However, accuracy can sometimes mean a lot of the scientific mumbo-jumbo will go over the audience's head.
Howard tried to make the film accessible to all audiences through the dialogue and characters, but both elements were pretty dry to begin with. Compared to recent space rescue missions such as Interstellar and The Martian, this was the most straightforward because it didn’t have any of the humor or side drama that those films had. That might be preferable for some people, but for others, it’s the perfect natural aid for insomnia.
11 Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Lewis Carroll’s famous story seems like it was written just for Tim Burton to direct. With vivid colors and fantastical elements, it should have been easy for Burton to achieve. However, this rabbit hole leads to a land of pure boredom. Alice tumbles into the world of Underland (only referred to as Wonderland by herself) and goes on an adventure that we’re somewhat familiar with. Burton does a different take on the classic tale by adding in two queens instead of one, and the Mad Hatter as Alice’s sidekick. While it sounds interesting on paper, it seemed more of a set up for Johnny Depp to act ridiculous. He couldn’t come up with a proper personality so he just did whatever he wanted and hoped it would come off as quirky and childish.
Burton’s whimsical tone only helped with setting the scene rather than enhance the story. Alice’s journey was messy and convoluted to show how “different” Burton could be. He got rid of the novel’s minimal narrative and replaced it with bedazzlement and large amounts of CGI. That would have been fine if it didn’t lead to a generic CGI battle at the end of the film. Then it just became a forgettable fantasy movie.
10 Godzilla (2014)
Godzilla has become a cultural icon throughout the years. In 2014, there seemed to be promise that Godzilla that would wreck cities once again. Even better, it looked like Bryan Cranston would be the star that would help take on the famous dinosaur. But unfortunately, the studios just had a very good trailer cutter on their hands. They managed to turn a famous monster movie into a family melodrama.
The movie mainly focused on the strained relationship between Joe Brody (Cranston) and his son Ford (Aaron Taylor Johnson). After an experiment gone horribly wrong years ago, Joe obsessively tries to find a reason for the explosion while his son is a soldier coping with his own family issues. When the monsters attack, they team up to try to stop it. That would be interesting if Godzilla came right after, but it isn’t until the second half that he even makes a slight appearance. And even when he’s there, the camera focuses more on the human characters and makes Godzilla feel like a background character.
Even worse, Cranston dies within the first 30 minutes of the film and we’re stuck with Johnson, who’s about as interesting a brick wall. Gareth Edwards had a lot of potential to make this a fun popcorn flick, but the attempt to go deeper into the characters was met with a giant yawn.
9 Robocop (2014)
When it was announced that the Robocop remake was going to be PG-13, it had people worried. There was no way that it would have the same amount of violence, which is part of what made the original Robocop a classic. And they were right.
2014’s Robocop was extremely watered down, catering to the younger crowd as if they were trying to make a superhero franchise out of it. Instead of focusing on the vicious side of Alex Murphy, they focus on the paternal side. They make his family a driving point of the plot and one his main motivations, meaning the film lacked action. Instead of a sociopathic bank robber, Alex is going against the corrupt company that created him and ultimately going back to his family.
The cliched and predictable plot didn’t have many action sequences and the few they had were nothing special. Not even Gary Oldman could muster up a performance worthy of remembering. If he can’t even try to look like he cares, then that says something.
8 A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)
Remember when Die Hard was iconic in the 1980s? Everyone remembers Hans Gruber at the Nakatomi Plaza, but as the films go on, the memories start to get fuzzier. By the time we get to the most recent addition, A Good Day to Die Hard, we are beyond over it. John McClane went from a normal cop who was at the wrong place at the wrong time into a destruction junkie.
A Good Day to Die Hard is a prime example of studios just not caring about the audience’s intelligence. They put in explosions, guns, and Russian spies to make up for the lack of the story. It tries to introduce a father-son reconciliation through John and his estranged son, Jack (Jai Courtney). But that’s mostly spent with John trying to repent for being a horrible father and Jack repeating that he hates him over and over for a couple hours.
It takes away what the franchise originally was and turns it into a bland, forgettable action film that tries too hard to appeal to the masses. This film should have been the one to kill the franchise for good, but sadly, they will be making a prequel.
7 Cloud Atlas (2012)
The Wachowskis are known for their success in the iconic Matrix trilogy, but also for their box office bombs. It’s obvious that they have talents and showcase ambitious styles in their films, but have weak stories to compliment them. Cloud Atlas is one example. Stylistically, it’s an interesting approach, which caused critics to go a little easy on it. The film features six different storylines that are thematically parallel and have small ties to each other. Regardless of any plot, it’s mainly a stage for the actors to show off their artistic skills.
The film itself is like riding on an airplane. It takes you throughout of these twists and turns and you don’t know where you landed because of how dizzy you are. The storylines consistently jump from one another without any warning at all. What are supposed to be profound moments are actually eye-rollingly trite. The “philosophic” dialogue was unoriginal and resemble corny Facebook quotes more than a screenplay. The Wachowskis' ambitious efforts at adapting the dense David Mitchell novel turned out be a pretentious form of Ambien.
6 Superman Returns (2006)
Given the buzz in the air for the upcoming Batman V Superman, a lot of people seem to forget about Brandon Routh in 2006’s Superman Returns. Honestly, it’s not a big deal because that movie is pretty forgettable in general. And it’s sort of sad that it’s forgettable because it had some decent effects, Bryan Singer as the director, and Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor.
That kind of combination sounds awesome at first, but the actual product falls majorly flat. It’s two and a half hours long, but easily feels like an extra hour was tacked on. Routh barely says anything in the film, which makes sense for Clark Kent, but not as Superman. The plot is slow as molasses and nothing happens for the first hour. The film doesn’t know whether it wants to be a reboot, sequel, or remake, which hurts it in terms of pacing.
Singer expected us to see the previous Superman films so he didn’t have to worry about re-explaining events and for us to just magically get it. What he got was a bland mess that had so much potential.
5 John Carter (2012)
With the $260 million budget it had, Disney was expecting a box office hit in John Carter. A civil war veteran being transported to Mars and having to fight aliens sounded like a fun sci-fi epic waiting to happen. But not even the cheesiness could hide how bland John Carter actually was.
The trope “man saves world and princess” has been completely overdone, and John Carter wasn’t spared from it. The characters were unmemorable and the plot was painfully mechanical, making the action feel uninspired. The desert settings felt like they were stolen out of Star Wars. Even though the film had so much potential, the weak writing prevented it from being exciting. The last time we combined the western and science fiction genres, we ended up with Cowboys and Aliens—another film people barely remember.
4 Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
16 years after The Return of the Jedi was released, George Lucas came back to the Star Wars universe with three prequels outlining Darth Vader’s previous life. The debates about these films are consistently going on, with both sides passionate about their view on the topic. While they may not have been the worst films in the world, Lucas really tests our patience with the annoying traits... The first of the series, The Phantom Menace, shows his creative control in full swing. He tries to keep our attention through pod-racing, a brooding villain, and political banter. However, he loses the audience among the way when he introduces Gungans and Midichlorians.
The characters are extremely cartoonish, especially Jar-Jar Binks, an overtly racist caricature that make the audience wish that they were watching something else. Furthermore, the other characters, such as Qui Gon Jinn and Obi Wan Kenobi, were one-dimensional and didn’t have any substance to them (at least in this iteration). And Anakin, the future Darth Vader himself, is one of the most annoying characters in the Star Wars universe.
3 Matrix Revolutions (2003)
The Wachowski siblings made a classic with the first Matrix. They introduced the world to Neo (Keanu Reeves) and to some of cinema’s most iconic action scenes. Then, by Matrix Revolutions, they seemed to regret everything that happened in the past two films and rendered them worthless.
In Revolutions, action scenes are replaced with “philosophical” conversations and more time in the real world than the actual Matrix. People are so quick to write off both of The Matrix sequels, but at least Reloaded had a cool freeway action scene.
Most of Revolutions is spent in a rusty ship waiting for some mechanical beings to attack. It felt like the Wachowskis were trying to make their plot less convoluted, but just ended their successful franchise with a bad taste in everybody’s mouth.
2 Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
Attack of the Clones is frequently regarded as the weakest film in the Star Wars series. It, unfortunately, brought Hayden Christensen into the public eye. After dealing with Anakin being a very chipper slave, we now have to witness him painfully trying to flirt. Padme and Anakin’s very awkward romance took up too much of the film and made Star Wars feel like a Nicholas Sparks melodrama. When it wasn’t focused on them, the spotlight turned to drawn-out Trade Federation meetings. It would have been interesting to understand galactic politics if it wasn’t so dry. But the majority of the scenes are focussed on characters mumbling about trade embargos as if Lucas was inspired by a vanilla courtroom drama.
The CGI wasn’t very good either. Every CGI character looked like they didn’t exist in the same reality as the human characters did. The scenes in Kamino felt especially fake, especially in the aliens and the fake rainfall. Even the human characters felt fake. It was very hard to be invested in their endeavors when they showed no emotions for what they were doing.
1 Transformer: Age of Extinction (2014)
Even though it would be easy to talk about how the whole Transformers series is full of sleepers, the one that really stands out is the most recent installment: Age of Extinction. With Shia LaBeouf out of the picture, it wasn’t clear whether that would improve or ruin the series; It turns out it was the latter. At a whopping 164 minutes, Age of Extinction feels like a painful dental procedure that just won’t end. In that amount of time, there were explosions, robots, and yet no character development.
There’s no doubt that Michael Bay is a talented filmmaker, but over the span of four films, he has focused way more on style rather than substance. There were many plots that didn’t tie up in the end and created more questions than anything. The dialogue was, by far, one of the worst aspects of the film. Ehren Kruger tried to create memorable catchphrases, but only proved that he didn’t know how normal people talked.
These examples are proof that studios rely too much on franchises' popularity and effects to get people in seats. They forget that many viewers still want a coherent story that they are able to follow. Explosions are fun but not as fun as character development.
What other blockbusters make you fall asleep?