Hollywood directors who just aren't good at their craft

Who are some directors who have had at least moderate success, but just are not good at shot composition/showing action/getting good performances out of actors/etc?

I am NOT looking for directors like Michael Bay, who I would categorize more as a talented director with horrible taste. I want to know who the true “hack directors” in Hollywood are.

Other than notorious people like Ed Wood…I don’t know of any. You’ll get knee jerk reactions like “Tarantino”…But even Joel Schumaker directed “Cousins” and “Phone Booth”

Almost everyone has one good story to tell. Even M Night Shamalamadingdong had 2 1/2 good films, and after seeing his composition and color work in “Unbreakable”, I thought he was going to be better than Hitchcock at least in that area…not my best call.

Sixth Sense, and Unbreakable, I assume, are the full movies…where are you getting another half for him?

David S. Goyer is a very talented screenwriter who knows dick about directing. He’s inconsistent with his production look, doesn’t know how to cut away fluff while leaving the story intact and he seems utterly clueless about what he can put on-screen that will engage his audience. Not sure I’m right? Go watch Blade: Trinity.

[Here’s the review I wrote for IMDB, btw. It begins:


I would strongly disagree with those who said this. Tarantino is an excellent director. His writing - which is flashy - tends to overshadow his skills as a director.

But look at some of the performances he’s gotten out of actors who have never been noted as great actors in other movies. Tarantino apparently has the skill to get his actors to give better performances than they give to other directors. And that to me is the sign of a great director.

Kevin Smith, unfortunately. He can write a good script, but his direction is strictly perfunctory, and he has no idea whatsoever how to film action.

J.J. Abrams may well be one of the worst writer/directors working in mainstream films today. His direction is often incoherent, he cannot tell a story to save his life, his pacing is absolutely terrible, and he creates characters so underdeveloped that they are essentially point-like in dimension. And yet, not only does he keep getting work, he actually gets handed successful franchises to reboot or continue, which he has so far done in such a hacktastic job of mangling e.g. having Kirk promoted from cadet to captain of the flagship of the fleet in the span of a few days, or taking the most memorable villain in the franchise and reusing him in a plot which had absolutely no linkage with the original backstory and in which all of the deeper subtext of Wrath of Khan–the reflections on opportunities missed, consequences of Kirk’s cowboy approach to command and failure to consider the “no win situation”, et cetera–were completely glossed over. If J.J. Abrams were to remake Jaws–and it would not surprise me if it were to happen–he would have the shark appear in the opening pre-credits sequence.



Nits: The consequences of Kirk’s Cowboy Approach is practically the theme of the second movie. The other theme would be " Wow, that was a bad idea to let Kirk be Capatain so quickly." Abrams real fault is in annoyingly averting Kirk’s tropes.

Cheats on the Kobayashi Maru? No commendation in Abramsverse. You get grounded.
Buck your superior? You get stranded on an ice planet.

Break the Prime Directive and lie on an official report? You lose your command and get demoted. Everything Pike told him was dead on. And he did very nearly get his crew killed. He practically was looking for an excuse to commit suicide.

As far as cadet to Captain. While the Enterprise is very advanced, it’s not said to be the flagship. And had Kirk not have been grounded, he probably would have been Third Officer or so? I’m not seeing anyone else in the power structure. Ideally after everything in ST 2009 they should have moved over some other officer from the remaining fleet, but Kirk did just save the Federation so…and like I said the next movie corrects that mistake. Also, as we see Enterprise becomes obsolete in the space of a couple of years…so why not let Kirk keep it?

Hilariously, the history of Enterprise Captains goes like this:

Christopher Pike: Nov.22, 2209 1 PM- 5 PM
James Kirk Nov. 22 , 2209- April 3rd, 2212
Christopher Pike April 3rd, 2212, 1 PM-3 PM
James Kirk April 3rd, 2212-

Stranger, you are my favorite Doper. No kidding. Much word to all of the above. Curious what you thought of Super 8 though.

Kind of like US Presidents in 24.

Peter Greenaway.

Genius art director, but absolutely hopeless directing human beings, and should never be given control of a movie.

A movie group I was part of got hijacked by some fans of this hack, and I had to sit through his entire execrable ovure. His worst crime was destroying John Geilgood’s dream of playing Prospero via his crap direction and dreadful stylistic choices.

After (unfortunately) seeing A Sound of Thunder and his remake of Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, I would add Peter Hyams to the list.

And penises. Lots and lots of penises.

I’d argue that Shyamalan is a decent director, but an increasingly terrible writer. I think if you gave him a good mystery or thriller type script and kept him from changing it around too much, he could make a pretty good movie. The problem is that he thinks he’s a great writer and kept coming up with increasingly bad ideas.

Let’s see:

Judd Apatow - Seriously, can he make any other kind of film besides a "frat boy attention getter’? Also, are there any minorities in the Apatow-universe? (Other than May Rudolph?) Turns comedy into non-comedy with just the wave of his hand.

Steve Carr - Directed such "classics’ as “Are We There Yet?” and Next Friday. Cannot direct a funny film. May not know the definition of the word “funny.”

Brett Ratner - Resembles a far less talented Michael Bay. Never met a script that he couldn’t f*ck up. Seriously, I saw 1970s music videos which were directed better than his films.

Uwe Boll will fight you to prove that he is a bad director.

Actually, Abrams leans strongly on lampshading the previous movies and characters, to the point that if you came to his reboot/alternate universe/whatever fresh, a lot of the references would make absolutely no sense whatsoever because he doesn’t really bother to establish the characters independently except in very broad strokes. I find that his plotting–what of it there is–exists solely to string between one action setpiece and the next, which, if you are making Michael Bay toy-based film where the plot just exists to show off folding robots and Megan Fox, but not so great if you are making a film that requires some kind of actual depth.

Abrams clearly watched E.T. followed by War of the Worlds and figured he could get a two-fer by combining them together into one almost completely incoherent film, including a bunch of family drama that was injected strictly to make it seem like the characters mattered. Yawn.


Total agreement on Abrams and Smith. I’m sad to put Smith on the list, because I really like the guy and his talks are amazing. But he really can’t direct worth shit.

Admittedly so, at least. He’s always ragged on his own directing chops. He’s good at directing his actors on how to deliver Kevin Smith Dialogue though, and that’s something.