"Temporality is part of the truth" -- Chuck Klosterman

Monday, September 19, 2011

Worst Movies Ever...sort of

I'm participating in the Worst Movies Ever blogfest sponsored by sci-fi author Alex Cavanaugh. And I've decided to implicate myself, as I happen to own every movie on this list. That is to say, I've watched each of them multiple times and take pleasure from each of them in at least some minor way. But essentially, they are flawed. And I think it's more interesting to talk about why these relatively entertaining movies are bad than trying to re-explain why Howard the Duck or Battlefield Earth flopped.

Thus, in no apparent order except alphabetical because that's how they appear on my DVD shelf:


It sure is a fun movie to watch in 3D (which I'm never going to experience again) and it certainly changed the movie industry, but few people seem to want to discuss that it's recycled, predictable plot is Fern Gully with giant fairies instead of miniature ones? I half expect Christain Slater to make a cameo. James Cameron's unforgivable story telling cheat is summed up in one word: unobtainium.
Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey

This was the first movie I saw after being out of the country for two years on a church mission and not seeing any movies at all during that time. The Excellent Adventure was such a strange, hilarious delight that I was giddy with anticipation at seeing the sequel. Unfortunately, Bogus Journey is an insipid, dull, and worst of all, unfunny movie. And I don't even have words to convey my revulsion for the ugly, ill-advised idea that is Station, the technologically savvy alien from heaven.


Maybe it's because I only saw this movie a couple of years after it's original release, but I don't think it is as funny as it was made out to be. I think Sacha Baron Cohen is pretty clever for thinking up the character and conceit in the first place, and I like the beginning about Borat's home country where the satire is aimed at concepts and culture rather than real, individual persons. But maybe it isn't enough to carry a feature film. Or maybe I didn't laugh much because I had already seen the best parts since it was so ubiquitous for a while there. But then, I don't think real-life exercises in humiliation are entertaining, even if the humiliated person might really deserve it, which is why I don't watch reality TV shows. And what in the world is funny about the naked part? What don't I get?


Take one of the best science fiction novels of all time and make a movie out of it. How can you miss? (See: Battlefield Earth, above.) I think the real problem isn't about what was cut from the novel. Movies cut up novels every day, and that doesn't necessarily make the movie worse. The problem is the voice-over. All that heavy, whispering, over-dramatic thinking doesn't make for satisfying drama. Frank Herbert does it in the novel (a style I don't much like, anyway), but David Lynch should have (and, worse, really could have) found a better way to dramatize it. (If it's true that Lynch was offered the chance to direct Return of the Jedi, imagine what would have happened to the Ewoks if he'd done that instead of Dune.)

The Fifth Element

You name what's worse: Milla Jovovich "acting," the name Leeloo, Gary Oldman's Texan accent, Gary Oldman's hairpiece, Gary Oldman's buck teeth, ancient eeevil in a hunk of rock, or Chris Tucker.
The Running Man

With a Stephen King concept ahead of it's time (take that, Hunger Games!), tasty satire of the excesses of game show TV (take that, Reality TV!), and Richard Dawson's demented, power hungry host (take that, Family Feud!), this could have been major. Enter Schwarzenegger and every bad 80's action movie cliche you can think of, including one-liner groaners ("Here's Subzero. Now, plain zero.") and even a hero-kisses-the-girl-for-no-reason moment at the end.

Star Trek: Nemesis

My main problem with this movie is that it should have been a different movie. With all the possibilities available for a great Next Generation story, they choose a story that maaaaybe should have been an episode in season six. And this is what followed Insurrection, the most low-key Star Trek movie, where what's at stake? About 13 people on a planet no one cares about. Anyway, the Doctor Who writers can come up with truly menacing and universal disasters on a weekly basis. Why couldn't the last TNG movie be about something bigger? They did the Borg. Where's the movie about Q? Data deserves a better curtain call.

Van Helsing

I don't even remember much about this movie. Which should tell you something. Something about badly drawn vampires and a silly Frankenstein monster on the loose and laughable, messy special effects. I think I own it because it's got Kate Beckinsale in a corset, and I guess that's enough for me.
The X Files: I Want to Believe

Whywhywhy was this movie about a psychic, child molesting priest instead of alien invasion conspiracy theory? As a huge fan of the series, this story held absolutely no interest for me. Even the revelation that Mulder and Scully ended up together after all. Who cares, if they're not going out to discover the truth about the aliens, which is still out there?

Is it a coincidence that nearly all of these movies have a science fiction bent? I suppose I could list a number of romantic comedies that are thoughtless copies of one another. But that's been done. At least these movies attempt to tell a different story. Except for Avatar.

Here's a long list of other blogs to visit and read about bad movies, if you're so inclined.


  1. yeah another avatar hater...
    x-files it was more that they did the alien thing and wrapped it up in the last two seasons of the show... i want to know more about the super-soldiers angle.
    i love bad/worst movies, these lists are tough!

  2. I rather liked Lynch's Dune but agree with you on just about everything else. I also liked Avatar for the record.

  3. I like this idea. I'm going to have to look at it more in depth.

    I've thought about doing a list of "What we're they thinking?" movies. You know, the ones where you see the trailer, and you can't imagine who in their right mind thought they had a good movie idea on their hands. Like that Mel Gibson movie "The Beaver", which I haven't seen.

    The most annoying part of The Fifth Element was Chris Tucker, Chris Tucker, a 1000 times over Chris Tucker.

  4. I remember Fern Gully! Never bothered with Avatar or most of the movies, actually, that appear on this list.

    I've heard that somewhere in Hollywood, people are working on a new Bill and Ted movie.

  5. Hmmm, there are some movies here that I think rock! It's interesting how different views affect different people, hu? :)


    Can Alex save Winter from the darkness that hunts her?

    YA Paranormal Romance, Darkspell coming fall of 2011!

  6. I was willing to let Dune go as fans are either hot or cold towards that version, but Fifth Element was the bees knees. I have one hyphenated word for you: Multi-pass

  7. The Fifth Element is so bad that I can't help but watch it when it's on TV. Like watching a car crash, ick.

  8. I liked The Fifth Element and Avitar, but besides that your list contains some real stinkers. Borat did have some funny stuff in it, but it was BAD...

  9. I agree with everything except for the fifth element. Sorry, I know its cheesy but I just love it!! Haha.

    I always thought Avatar mimicked Pocahontas but Fern Gulley does have the same story line as well. With all the money he threw at that movie for the CG, he could have gotten a much better story line. Oh well.

    Great list though! :D

  10. Man, people HATED on me for voicing my anti-Avatar sentiments. I'm glad to have you on the side of the rebellion.

    P.S. Just saw your Klosterman quote at the top of the page-- did you see I picked up a copy of "Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs" for .$50 at your suggestion? Well worth the price. I'm reading (and laughing) through it now.

  11. Van Helsing and the second X-Files movies were indeed awful. So was Borat. Will admit, I dug The Fifth Element though.
    Thanks for participating in the blogfest!

  12. I've never seen Fern Gully--I found Avatar reminded me a lot of Pocahontas. :P

    I have Dune on my TBR shelf. I'm not sure if I'm going to try the movie . . .

  13. I never finished DUNE. Had a nice nap though. ;D I enjoyed Van Helsing. In fact I might watch it again today.

  14. Some of those Star Trek movies were really bad. Liked the first Bill and Ted, but as you have on your list, the sequel was terrible.

  15. I can't lie; I found Borat entertaining. And yes, I'm ashamed of that fact. Good list!

  16. Avatar certainly isn't on my favorites list, but I did enjoy the special fx and will give it some plus marks for that. I was very annoyed with the message of the film.

    Tossing It Out

  17. Your list makes me glad that I have never seen any of those movies. I never intend to see them, either. Thanks for sharing!

  18. I only saw snippets of Avatar, which I know makes me in the minority. But I liked Fern Gully (I was watching it with my kids half asleep granted). Maybe I need to check it out.

  19. I have to admit that some of your Worst Movies are on my favorites list. Not Borat or Avatar...and I will admit that Van Helsing had me just for the eye candy (both Hugh and Kate).

  20. I said Avatar was a combination of Fern Gully and Pocahontas. That being said...I still enjoyed it. Just because it's a REUSED story doesn't make it any less entertaining or any less aesthetically stimulating. And it WAS a pretty movie.

    I'm relieved SOMEBODY besides me ragged on Van Helsing. Really, what WAS the point of that movie?

  21. I knew that Dune was doomed as soon as I heard it was in production. I thought it was a great book but so much of the action took place inside other people's heads there was no way to coherently make it into a good film.

    Depending on what you were smoking before you went into the theater, some of those movies were pretty good.

    And as much as I hate to disagree with Chanel, I thought Van Helsing was great. A tongue in cheek poke at the whole horror movie genre.

    "Igor! Why do you torture that poor beast so?"

    "It's what I do, Master!"


  22. Haha! Hilarious. I love movies so you know I have to get in on this one.

    I think I agree with you on everything. But despite its stupidity, I like Van Helsing too.

  23. I like Van Helsing... and not just because of Hugh Jackman :)

  24. I already submitted a comment. Honestly. Let me try again:

    I saw Bogus Journey as a kid at the dollar theater. The next day, instead of paying attention in English class, I was rerunning the movie in my head. I became confused.

    "That can't be right," Little Doug thought. "I must be remembering a dream about it I had last night. No movie would turn out like that."

    But no, the movie really was like that. Truly horrible.

    As for The Fifth Element, I agree with Bryan about Chris Tucker. His character was painful to watch. I enjoyed the rest of the flick, though.

    Now if you will excuse me, I am going to see if I can find a copy of Howard the Duck on Amazon.

  25. I didn't like Star Trek: Nemesis the first time I saw it, but it grew on me and I wrote about here.

    Dave Wrote This

  26. Ima try to respond to all these comments. Sorry it took me all week, but thanks for all the blogfest visits. (Did I just say "Ima"? Yikes. Sorry for that, too.)

    @ iZombie: I would have loved the Xfiles movie had it been about the super soldiers. Plus, it could have been the return of Adam Baldwin to the series. He's cool.

    @ Michael: I really wanted to like Dune a lot. I didn't really want to like Avatar very much.

    @ Bryan: I haven't seen the Beaver, either. The concept is enough to put me off. And I'm with you about Chris Tucker.

    @ MJ: I also have heard there's a Bill and Ted part 3 in the works. And despite the part two fiasco, I'm still intrigued.

    @ Elizabeth: Which ones rock? Some roll a little, I think...

    @ Budd: If the Fifth Element had bees in it, it might have been better.

  27. @ Lydia: It's true. Fifth element is a candy-colored train wreck.

    @ Pat: I laugh during Borat, but not at the parts that everyone was talking about forever.

    @ Natalie: I did read once that James Cameron had actually been writing Avatar since the 80's, but you'd think he would at least do a rewrite since the politically correct early 90's and Al Gore would have made his story redundant.

    @ Nicki: I said it, but I was taken in by the visuals in Avatar when I saw it in 3D the theater. But why people are so enthralled, I don't get.

    @ Alex: Thanks for visiting and thanks for hosting the festivities.

  28. @ Golden Eagle: If you're a sci-fi fan, you should read Dune. No need to see the movie.

    @ RaShelle: The real problem with Van Helsing is that the director is a hack. I don't really know anything about directing a movie, and I don't really know what it means to call a director a hack, but I do know that Stephen Sommers has done some really bad F/X action movies.

    @ Stephen: I like many of the Star Trek movies. I even like the first one. But the last one just should have been better.

  29. @ Paul: No need for shame here. I own the damn movie. The idea of Borat is pretty ingenious,I admit, but not for a full length film, I guess.

    @ Arlee: I'm curious about what you thought the message of Avatar was. What were you annoyed with? What would you expect from James Cameron, anyway?

    @ Jeffrey: I wouldn't say you shouldn't watch any of these movies, but if you do, know they have limitations. I do enjoy them all, in a way.

    @ julie f: I think you should watch Avatar, if only to be part of the zeitgeist. Zeitgeist is important. Fern Gully was never part of the zeitgeist.

    @ Jenny: I'm with you on the actor-candy of Van Helsing, but the F/X are pretty bad.

    @ Chanel: There's a difference between a reused idea and a copy. Avatar was Fern Gully right down to the evil bulldozers knocking down the sacred trees.

  30. @ Shelly Brown: Thanks. Sometimes I think I'm clever.

    @ darev: Funny lines do not a good movie make. A fantasy like that needs better looking monsters and stuff.

    @ Julie Daines: I'm glad you like the list. I like yours, too, but remember, Inception is cool.

    @ Chippy: Yeah, I don't know why Hugh gets a bad rap. But he's no Kate Beckinsale.

    @ Doug: I saw Howard the Duck in the theater when it came out. I don't think I had any idea what was going on except this woman seemed to be falling in love with a duck. That's weird.

    @ Dave: I'll go check out your thought on Nemesis. Thanks for visiting.

  31. There you have it. A week's worth of comments. Thanks for visiting. Come back soon!

  32. Re: message of Avatar.

    I just felt it was one of those screw technology and advancement and back to the earth and mother nature type thing. It seemed to be very anti-military. There was also that old noble savage concept that primitive peoples live a live of idealism and harmony with all.

    I'm all for treating the Earth with respect and conserving resources, but I don't necessarily want to go back to nature either. I don't think the real James Cameron is all that green, but he expects everyone else to be so he and others like him can live in their extravagance.

    I do like Cameron's films over all and I think he makes some great entertainment. Avatar is a beautiful film that I'm sure I'll be watching again.

    Tossing It Out