We’ve already established that fantasy is one of my most favorite film genres. I love a good story about magic, dragons, wizards, and all of that fun stuff. I’m an easy sell when it comes to these kinds of things. As a result, I’ve seen some great films. I have also seen some terrible films. Now, the following is in no way a fully comprehensive list of all of the terrible movies I’ve seen. They’re just among some of the worst offenders. That said, I own copies of most of these films. They’re terrible but can make for some great movie nights with friends and the liberal application of alcohol.
11. Immortals (2011)
Oh, this movie. Immortals had a few things wrong with it. The biggest thing, however, was that it had a huge identity problem. It didn’t know if it was an art film or an action film. Directer Tarsem Singh is known for his visually stunning films like The Fall and The Cell. So, this was a gorgeous movie. Not only was it just gorgeous but it had a very good-looking cast as well. Pretty people, however, aren’t enough to save a poorly paced film with questionable mythology. As any student of Greek mythology knows, Theseus fought the minotaur who’s half man, half bull. In this film, their Theseus (Henry Cavill) faces off against a large man with a heavy stylized helmet. I suppose they were too busy spending their special effects budget on making the gods all shiny and glowing.
10. Van Helsing (2004)
Hugh Jackman’s star was on the rise. He was becoming a household name after his appearances in X-Men, X-Men 2, and even Kate & Leopold (shut up, I love that goofy, sappy rom-com with implications of incest; we can get into that another time). Needless to say, Van Helsing seemed like a very promising movie. Vampires fighting werewolves with sexy people in leather? Oh yeah, I was totally into that. What we got was something pretty awful with a wholly unsatisfactory ending. I suppose our titular hero’s brooding game is just too strong.
9. The Lord of the Rings (1978)
I first saw Ralph Bakshi‘s animated “classic” The Lord of the Rings, I was in middle school and we were reading The Fellowship of the Ring. If I hadn’t already had a background in animated Tolkien films thanks to Rankin/Bass‘ The Hobbit and The Return of the King, I don’t think I’d have ever given them a chance after watching what Bakshi did with the material. This movie was just painful and the rotoscoping was just awkward. I far prefer my cartoons with cheesy songs and inconsistent pronunciations.
8. The Haunted Mansion (2003)
Once upon a time, Eddie Murphy had a great film career. He was in a lot of hilarious hits back in the 80’s after making a name for himself on “Saturday Night Live.” Then, the 1990’s happened and everything went downhill from there. Outside of his vocal appearances in a couple of popular kid’s movies, his career has been limping ever since. One of his terrible films audiences had to be subjected to was The Haunted Mansion. I still can’t believe that I saw this in theaters. I still can’t believe that I’ve watched it a couple of times since then. Sure, it had a lot of nods to the ride upon which it was based. So did another Disney ride-based movie that was released the same year. The difference being, of course, that Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was actually a quality movie that was a lot of fun. The Haunted Mansion was just pain. So much pain.
7. Clash of the Titans (2010)
Please stop butchering Greek myths for your movies. Furthermore, if you’re going to butcher Greek myths, at least try to butcher it in an original way and don’t decide to make a remake of a beloved cult classic that you subsequently butcher as well. On top of that, Perseus is the only major heroic figure in Greek mythology that actually ends up happily married. The fact that you invented someone new for our hero to romance just makes me terribly sad in my nerdy place.
Also, this movie was crappy. Thank goodness for drunk friends who made watching Clash of the TItans in theaters a much less painful experience.
6. Beowulf & Grendel (2005)
Years after watching this movie, I’m still not quite sure where they were planning to go with it. It takes a few notable twists and turns from the traditional tale and adds a couple of layers of revenge on top of the already existing layers of revenge. On top of that, there’s a plot involving the conversion of the villagers to Christianity because that’s totally a thing in the poem, right? Yeah. So, anyway, it’s just a weird movie. Not only is it weird, but it’s uncomfortable as well. One of the subplots in this movie involves Selma (Sarah Polley), a witch and seer, and the inappropriate relations she once had with the Grendel. Yeah, they went there. I’m not going to spoil all of the angles. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only time that filmmakers have inappropriately touched the Old English poem.
5. Beowulf (2007)
Look, I don’t know if you know this, but Beowulf is actually a pretty darn epic poem. Folks study this poem in schools and it really defines epic poetry. It’s about heroes facing death. It’s about hacking limbs. It’s about a whole bunch of things that Hollywood doesn’t need to amp up the action. It certainly doesn’t need some uncanny valley animation and conveniently covered nudity. You know that the only reason Beowulf any kind of money was because people wanted to see a gold-painted digital Angelina Jolie. Priorities, people.
4. Dungeons & Dragons (2000)
This had to have sounded like such a great idea on paper. Nerds love their Dungeons & Dragons and they’re more than happy to shell out money to anything that caters to them. The execution of that idea was so awful that this movie will forever live in infamy. Seriously. Even Jeremy Irons at his hammiest looks like he’s not really having any fun. Those are the eyes of a desperate man wanting a paycheck even if it costs him his dignity. I’d expect those eyes from a man who’s stuck in a movie with Marlon Wayans that has Justin Whalin cast as the heroic lead. At the end of the day, nerds knew better than to spend their money on something so abominable. Dungeons & Dragons flopped. Unfortunately, it didn’t flop hard enough to keep them from making two not-theatrically-released sequels.
3. Quest for Camelot (1998)
Everyone loves a good Arthurian tale. Quest for Camelot promised that with a star-studded voice cast to boot. What they were hiding behind those pretty promises was an awful movie. Every now and again, I’ll go on a rant about voice acting and the stunt casting studios do. I have gone on record stating that Quest for Camelot is the worst offender of this. On top of the top-notch speaking talent in Cary Elwes, Pierce Brosnan, and Jane Seymour (this was the 90’s, she was still big then), they had hired famous singers to provide the characters’ singing voices. Normally, that would be fine if the singing voices sounded remotely like the speaking voices. I’m sorry, but Celine Dion doesn’t sound anything like Jane Seymour. The same is true for country singer Bryan White being pulled in to sing for Cary Elwes. This movie could have been fantastic. It had a plucky heroine at its heart who just wanted to be a knight like her father. Instead, this movie just hurts me. So much. So very, very much.
2. Eragon (2006)
Back in the day, I worked in a bookstore. Among the books I shelved with great frequency were Christopher Paolini‘s Inheritance Cycle. I’ve never read the books myself, but I’ve heard they’re quite popular and have a devoted fan following. Not reading the book probably helped a great deal when I sat down to watch what appeared to be a promising movie about a kid and his dragon. I only have the vaguest of memories seeing Eragon. All I know was that John Malkovich and Robert Carlyle in all of their scene-chewing glory couldn’t save this movie. I remember sitting through this movie once and marveling at how just plain bad the dialogue was. I watched it a second time. That time, though, I switched the language to French and turned on English subtitles. That way, I could blame the shitty dialogue on a poor translation of the pretty-sounding French. It made the experience a lot less painful
1. The Last Airbender (2010)
When I posted my list of Bottom 11 Disappointing Movies, my friend, Nick, was quick to remind me of this movie. I think we all wish we could have forgotten this film. I wrote a pretty spiffy review of my experience. I’m grateful for the fact that I had flasks of vodka in my purse. Between the casting’s racial issues, the terrible adaptation of the source material, and just the all around shitty nature of the film in general, I really wish I could forget that this existed. That said, I’m so grateful that I hadn’t seen the show that inspired it before I watched the movie. I can only imagine the rage that would have coursed through my veins if I’d have seen how amazing “Avatar: The Last Airbender” was before suffering through what M. Night Shyalaman did to it.