10 Once-Great Directors Who’ve Lost Their Touch

Robert Zemeckis
THE GOOD: Romancing the Stone, Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit
THE BAD: Cast Away, What Lies Beneath
THE UGLY: The Polar Express, Disney’s A Christmas Carol, Beowulf

If you’d like an argument for the dangers of technology, look no further than the career of Robert Zemeckis. In his glory years, he used the toys and tools of visual effects to enhance the storytelling of Roger Rabbit and Forrest Gump, but when he hit a creative (if not financial) wall with the twin 2000 releases of Cast Away and What Lies Beneath, Zemeckis took a strange path. For a full decade, he abandoned live action altogether, becoming obsessed with “motion capture” computer animation. His preoccupation resulted in his three worst films to date, the trilogy from Uncanny Valley Hell: Polar Express, Beowulf, and the Jim Carrey Christmas Carol. There may be hope for him yet, though; his first live action film in a dozen years, the Denzel Washington vehicle Flight, comes out this fall, and the trailer looks terrific.