It's close to impossible for a film to get everything right. Even Hitchcock had his down days.
Which means that, given the quality of 90% of films we come across, we'll settle for one factor done very, very well. And given the importance of a decent soundtrack, sometimes a set of songs will stick in the memory much more than performances, direction or script.
This brings us to 10 examples of films which boasted soundtracks they didn't really deserve. Let us know what we missed at the bottom.
The film: Given far too much trust, control and money after the surprising success of Independence Day, Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin took a seemingly easy win (big lizard meets big city) and urinated it up the wall. Matthew Broderick was most definitely not designed as a blockbuster lead and his limp presence added to an uninspired script (worst moment: when Hank Azaria called Jean Reno "Mr French") made for one of the 90s' worst summer offerings.
The soundtrack: Focusing on predominantly alternative rock, the album was a genuine surprise. The dark tone and inclusion of legitimate acts (Rage Against The Machine, Green Day and Foo Fighters) meant that it appealed to an atypical audience. The two singles, from more poppier acts Jamiroquai and P Diddy, were also surprisingly stellar.
The film: All of Cameron Crowe's worst qualities, with only one of his best (see below). This self-indulgent trip down memory lane almost plays like a parody of a noughties indie dramedy and given the fact it was released soon after the far superior and incredibly similar Garden State, it came across like its dumber cousin. It didn't help that the chemistry between charm-free leads Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst was non-existent.
The soundtrack: Cameron Crowe can always be relied upon for one thing: sentimentality. Oh wait, two things: sentimentality and a damn good soundtrack. The ex-music journalist stepped up to the plate with a collection of songs so large that they stretched over two albums. Featuring an expertly picked selection of unpredictable tracks from Ryan Adams, Tom Petty and Elton John, both albums deserve a much better film.
Death Proof (2007)
The film: Not a bad film, more a disappointing one. It worked better in its original format, as part of a double-bill with Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror as the failed, but fun, big screen experiment Grindhouse. Even Tarantino confesses that it's his "worst" movie. The structure is alienating and Tarantino's voice is clumsily hammered home through his female cast. We wait patiently for his next horror attempt though.
The soundtrack: Tarantino's encyclopedic knowledge of popular culture serves him well when it comes to his always impressive soundtracks. Hardly ever picking songs that you'd expect, or often know that well, they're always worth checking out. From the pieces of music from other movies, such as Blow Out and Cruising, to killer songs by April March, The Coasters (from the, ermmm, memorable lap dance scene above) and Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, it's a consistently rewarding album.
The Man With The Iron Fists (2012)
The film: It was always going to be a gamble, this one. Written and directed by RZA, the film was a slavish tribute to the kung fu genre and it might have boasted some impressively choreographed fight scenes but it was also leaden down by
shoddy direction and god-awful dialogue. But then he isn't exactly known for his filmmaking skills...
The soundtrack: He is however known for his musical abilities and given that the film was also "presented" by Quentin Tarantino, the soundtrack was a resounding success. As well as featuring members of the Wu-Tang Clan, it also boasted Kanye West, Pusha T and, a standout collaboration between RZA and The Black Keys.
The Beach (2000)
The film: After the initial one-two punch of Shallow Grave and Trainspotting, things didn't look too rosy for Danny Boyle for a good few years. After the ambitious, yet ultimately misjudged, fantasy A Life Less Ordinary, it looked as if The Beach, based on Alex Garland's thrilling bestseller, would be an easy win. But a whole load of unnecessary additions (the less said about the video game sequence, the better) and a dud of an ending, turned it into another blip on Boyle's CV.
The soundtrack: The film truly worked when it was combining its stunning locations with its equally stunning soundtrack, most notably in the breathtaking initial look at the island, coupled with Moby's Porcelain. Other standout tracks came from Faithless, New Order and the odd yet rather great Orbital/DiCaprio duet. Hell, we even liked that All Saints song.
The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009)
The film: Well, it's Twilight: a vampire film for people who hate vampire films. The sequel might have been slightly better than the first film, in the way that having a cold is slightly better then having the flu, but it was still more of the same. Plenty of long torturous staring, unconvincing CGI and soap-level acting.
The soundtrack: Starting off a tradition of matching a really good original set of songs with a really awful Twilight film, New Moon boasted an impressive roll-call of indie acts. Brand new and exclusive tracks from The Killers, Lupe Fiasco, Thom Yorke, Lykke Li and Grizzly Bear all helped to add a level of class to a film that's primarily made for tweens.
Tron: Legacy (2010)
The film: Seen by most as a crushing disappointment, the much-anticipated sequel took a whopping 28 years to get to the big screen and it will probably take about the same amount of time for people to get over it. The lead actor Garrett Hedlund was utterly devoid of charisma and, despite some impressive visuals, the script was a mess.
The soundtrack: One of a number of recent films to pick a band/artist to create a score, rather than relying on a traditional composer, the filmmakers behind Tron:Legacy made the wise choice of picking Daft Punk. They duly delivered a suitably futuristic and memorable set of songs, which stick in the mind more than anything else from the film.
Romeo Must Die (2000)
The film: Aiming to a) reinvent Romeo & Juliet for modern audiences and b) introduce Jet Li to mainstream cinema, this action thriller failed on both counts. Despite making a profit, especially given its lean budget, it was a dull mixture of fight scenes and underdeveloped romance. For example, the interracial couple (Li and Aaliyah) had their one kiss cut out as it went down poorly with, clearly abhorrent, test audiences.
The soundtrack: Utilising its female lead on the hit soundtrack, the film boasted a genuine smash in the form of Try Again, arguably Aaliyah's greatest song. It also brought her together with another star of the film, DMX, in the rather awesome duet Come Back In One Piece. Elsewhere there were songs from Destiny's Child and Ginuwine.
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (2008)
The film: A romantic comedy based around music ought to be a home run. After all, it worked like a charm for High Fidelity. But this hipster take on the sungenre was a frustrating mess. A mix of dull mumblecore dialogue with two leads that were trying too hard to seem quirky, it failed on almost every level...
The soundtrack: BUT things were somewhat saved by the predictably awesome soundtrack. Any film with the word playlist in the title ought to have a decent set of songs and Nick and Norah delivered. The best of the hipster set at the time (Vampire Weekend, Devendra Banhart, We Are Scientists) plus a great track from Richard Hawley made it one of the better soundtracks of that year.
Purple Rain (1984)
The film: While not as bad as some of the other films on the list, Prince's film debut was a classic example of what happens when Hollywood centres an entire movie around a major music star. The result was a showcase for his songs, ignoring silly things like plot or action. Due to his popularity at the time, it turned a profit but since it featured extended concert performances, it barely registers as anything other than a 2-hour music video.
The soundtrack: The biggest-selling album on this list and the sixth biggest-selling soundtrack of all time, Prince's magnum opus was a slick collection of hits, featuring the title track, When Doves Cry and I Would Die 4 U. Most artists would settle for just one of those songs on their album. Prince greedily had all three.
(Images: All Star)