Apparently Memorial Day movies aren’t all that great!
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Quality should be the norm on Memorial Day weekend. In the 1980s, blockbusters including Star Wars, Return of the Jedi, Rocky III, and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom all had their world premieres on this date. Memorial Day weekend, however, has gained a reputation as a dumping ground for the caliber of movies that studios release during this time period since its heyday. Crocodile Dundee II, Super Mario Bros., and Hudson Hawk exist for every Thelma and Louise.
However, studios have relied on the long weekend for decades to raise the box office for blockbusters. I’ve used Box Office Mojo’s weekend box office data to rank the top 15 grossing films of the past 15 years in order of worst to best performance. If most of these movies weren’t so forgettable, I’d advise you to prepare yourself for some bad recollections. There was no major Memorial Day weekend release in 2020, thus I’ve deleted it from the list.
If you’re looking for a nice movie to watch this Memorial Day, check out our lists of the top Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime videos now available to stream.
15. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
The films at the bottom of the list are sure to stoke debate, but I had to include Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull at the bottom of the list because of its enduring popularity. The film itself is a shambles, and it brings some of the most cringe-inducing moments to an otherwise revered franchise. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is not only a blemish on the filmography of Spielberg, but it also tarnishes the legacy of how Memorial Day was once ruled by Indiana Jones. Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade were shown during the holiday. Crystal Skull is a double-edged sword in that it serves as a painful reminder of the past.
14. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
That Jake Gyllenhaal will never have his own movie franchise is what we learn from this film. Video game movies, like Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, are a fool’s errand because they remove the player’s control and tell them, “Sit here and watch this,” rather than let the player manage the action. Perhaps it wasn’t a movie ahead of its time because Twitch hadn’t taken off yet. Although the story is poor and the casting is kind of racist, that time is still forgotten.
13. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
So predictable is this movie that it completely destroys any potential it might have had. The film features a terrific cast, a promising premise, and exciting action sequences. All of this was sadly lost on director Shawn Levy. Because this franchise is nothing, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian wasn’t even tedious. In the hopes that their children will be calm for two hours, parents watch this movie. This film is excellent for keeping your children entertained while you are out.
12. X-Men: Apocalypse
This is a tough one to take. Because of the X-Men animated series, I have a soft spot for the X-Men films. Under filmmaker Bryan Singer, however, X-Men: Apocalypse is a death knell for the X-Men franchise. When your own film is worse than both Return of the Jedi and The Last Stand, it takes a lot of arrogance to do so. There isn’t much to get excited about in Apocalypse outside from the Quicksilver mansion sequence, like a compelling enemy or interesting character arcs. I don’t want the X-Men franchise to disappear, but it was in serious need of a new director following the weekend of Memorial Day, 2016,
11. The Hangover Part II
It’s a case study in how to give the green light to a sequel even before you have a clear sense of what that sequel should be. There are a lot of similarities between the original film’s plot and this one, but there are also a lot of differences. Despite a few minor successes, it serves as a reminder that Todd Phillips isn’t all that talented as a director. Fortunately, his career hasn’t been entirely devoid of failures.
10. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
The fifth Pirates of the Caribbean film, Dead Men Tell No Tales, revealed a franchise that had definitely run out of steam, even if it wasn’t as awful as On Stranger Tides. The plot was disjointed and the action was dull, despite the filmmakers’ attempts to evoke the best films of the past. If the big, climactic set piece offers you any idea of where they were operating by this stage, it involves people hanging on to a giant anchor. Captain Jack Sparrow has lost his luster in the United States, despite its success abroad.
I had high expectations for Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland, and I was not disappointed. Yet the picture comes off as a cranky old man ranting on his porch about how good things used to be when they weren’t (never mind that the time never existed). Restoring faith in humanity is a noble goal, but the message is delivered in an awkward manner, with the film’s antagonist essentially halting play in order to pontificate endlessly on the current condition of affairs around the globe. In the end, the mythical “Tomorrowland” is a pale shadow of the futuristic civilization that we first saw in the film, complete with jetpacks. That the picture is a pale reflection of its own lofty goals is therefore perhaps fitting.
8. X-Men: The Last Stand
In recent years, re-watching X-Men: The Last Stand has made me less critical of the film. Despite the fact that I’m still a little irked by the plot, I kind of feel sorry for it. In addition to ruining “The Cure” narrative and the Dark Phoenix Saga as a whole, Magneto’s latest battle against humanity further complicates matters. It appeared as if the franchise had run out of ideas, but that was only because it jammed so many into this film. It’s not only that the film is bad; it’s also that it came out so soon after the fantastic X2, which is the biggest problem of all. Despite its many flaws, I can’t totally blame The Last Stand on its torturous pre-production.
7. Men in Black 3
This list’s middle section is a case study in blandness. Men in Black 3 came across as a rushed project. Although no one truly desired it, it also didn’t have a strong opposition. Men in Black 2 had dimmed the luster left by the previous film, and by the time we reached this installment, the MiB universe had lost much of its luster. Brolin steals the show in this film, as Jones and Smith struggle to recover their former splendor. I wouldn’t call this a poor film; it’s just one of the many.
6. Aladdin (2019)
Aladdin…is he alright, I suppose? Nothing could be more aptly described as the kind of mediocrity that pervades this holiday weekend. Indy Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Prince of Persia, and Solo are all bombs, but most of the rest are merely forgettable. As a sequel to a considerably more renowned film, Aladdin will only be remembered because it shares several story points. Despite some high points, such as Will Smith’s Genie, the live-action version of Aladdin is mostly about Disney cashing in on IP without much quality control.
When it comes to DreamWorks Animation, the “golden days” are movies that both kids and their parents can get behind. Similar to Men in Black 3 and Madagascar, the sequels are films that have already been made. The formula worked back in the mid-2000s, and the movie is a nice and humorous one, but it’s also entirely forgettable beyond its name. DWA’s other franchises are comparable.
4. X-Men: Days of Future Past
When it first came out, I thought X-Men: Days of Future Past was a great movie, but upon re-watching it, I was disappointed. While the characters are well-developed, the climax doesn’t make much sense, and Magneto keeps using the same script (he likes to turn our weapons against us). It’s the fact that it obliterates every other X-Men movie except for First Class and Days of Future Past that really irks me about this film. It’s getting lower and further down the list each time I see it.
3. Solo: A Star Wars Story
This is a movie that gets better with each watch. But despite the fact that The Mandalorian has been a huge success, it appears that Star Wars fans are delighted to see their favorite characters go on new adventures in a galaxy far, far away, as long as those adventures do not threaten the galaxy itself. The film’s biggest flaw was undoubtedly Star Wars fatigue and the fact that it came out just five months after the highly discussed The Last Jedi. Ehrenreich makes for a surprisingly terrific Han. That’s a shame, because Solo is a terrific little adventure film that could have inspired more fun adventure films if expectations had not been so high.
2. Fast & Furious 6
In retrospect, Fast Five is more fun than I initially gave it credit for, despite the fact that it’s a low-rent Ocean’s Eleven and I despise it when heroes put innocent people in danger for their own ends. Fast Five was the first Fast & Furious picture to gross over $200 million domestically. Fast & Furious 6 was the turning point in the series for me. With director Justin Lin at the helm, the franchise found its footing and came together as a whole. In this film, the infinite runway might bring a grin rather than a frown.
1. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
Even if others don’t like it, I’m still a fan of the original Pirates Of The Caribbean trilogy. There is an increasing level of lunacy throughout the films, culminating in At World’s End’s final combat between two ships in the midst of a storm and vortex. As for Jack Sparrow’s (Johnny Depp), he’s well-placed and I appreciate that the film focuses on the character development of Will and Elizabeth. Funny and well-made goofball comedies are what these films are all about. That’s not asking too much, but I suppose it is during the long weekend surrounding Memorial Day.
Cumberbatch also discusses how Jane Campion gave him the freedom to be Phil in between takes on site.