Summer blockbuster movie season is upon us once again and that means it’s time for people to go wild about a new batch of big budget monstrosities and comic book heroes. But for every movie that makes a billion dollars and spawns a legion of sequels and kids toys there are dozens more which just end up disappointing everybody and spawning legions of sobbing fanboys. It happens every year, and while the Iron Man movies of the world manage to stay above the fray, the following movies aren’t so lucky. They are the 50 most disappointing summer blockbusters of all time.
Photo credit: YouTube/Warner Bros. Pictures
50 ‘Van Helsing’
Like the vampires Hugh Jackman hunts in this movie, the only thing Van Helsing was really good at was sucking. Then again, that’s pretty much the case whenever Jackman is playing a character not named Wolverine.
49 ‘Judge Dredd’
There are only two things people remember from this colossally disappointing flick: Sylvester Stallone slobbering “I am the law!” like a stroke victim and Rob Schneider being Rob Schneider. Seriously, someone actually thought Ron Schneider in a comic book action movie would be a good idea.
48 ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’
There was a lot of excitement surrounding this movie prior to its release. Then people saw it and remembered that the Victorian era “heroes” they were supposed to care about were the same ones they never cared about in the ponderous novels they never finished in high school.
Arnold fights bad guys, Arnold wins, Arnold says corny things in that ridiculous accent of his, you know the drill. It wasn’t as bad as the other movie he made that year, Jingle All the Way, but at least that one didn’t ask us to buy Vanessa Williams as Arnold’s love interest.
46 ‘Robin Hood’
This is the mind-numbingly boring Russell Crowe version, not the world’s more entertaining Kevin Costner one. You know you’ve disappointed everybody when you come up short in a comparison with Kevin freaking Costner.
45 ‘Speed Racer’
Go speed racer, go speed racer, go… directly to DVD, which is where this mess of a movie probably should have gone. Sadly, that pretty much describes every movie made by the Wachowski Brothers since the first Matrix movie.
44 ‘The Brothers Grimm’
Action! Adventure! Comedy! If you enjoy any of these things, don’t see this movie. Somehow, both Matt Damon and Heath Ledger are completely unlikable in this, which is actually pretty impressive if you think about it.
43 ‘Total Recall’
Before you flip out, this is the Colin Farrell version and not the iconic Arnold version. Everyone knew it wouldn’t be as good and yet somehow it still ended up disappointing everyone, which is pretty much the theme of Colin Farrell’s career.
42 ‘Beverly Hills Cop III’
The first two were pretty good so hey, why not a third? We’ll just take Eddie Murphy in the middle of a horrific career slide, get rid of all the other characters you know and love except for Judge Reinhold, and have Eddie fight an evil amusement park security guard and… hey wait, where are you going?
41 ‘GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra’
You know a movie is headed for disappointment when its biggest aspiration is to be as good as Transformers. Still, somehow GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra managed to fall short of even those not so lofty heights, which might have something to do with Channing Tatum being all, well, Channing Tatum.
40 ‘The Island’
How does an intriguing big budget movie with an interesting story starring Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson manage to disappoint so thoroughly? Three words: Director Michael Bay… who about halfway through just abandons petty little things like story and character development in favor of blowing shit up.
39 ‘The Da Vinci Code’
The Da Vinci Code was such a successful book because it shamelessly kept readers hooked with constant page-turning cliff-hangers. But since everyone who saw the movie had read the book, all the tension was gone and all that was left was Tom Hanks with a horrifying haircut.
38 ‘Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time’
Also known as the movie that proved once and for all that doe-eyed Jake Gyllenhaal was absolutely not an action star. Also, it didn’t help that the storyline involved magic sand that reversed time. Yeah.
37 ‘Miami Vice’
There was a lot of excitement surrounding Michael Mann’s attempt at bringing his iconic TV show to the big screen. Then people saw it and two hours later they stumbled out of the theater wondering what happened to the style and humor and who Colin Farrell had sold his soul to in order to have an A-list career.
36 ‘The Happening’
Perhaps the final nail in the coffin in M. Night Shyamalan’s career, people were prepared for The Happening to be a rancid pile of turds but still, somehow people still weren’t ready for how bad or how ridiculous this movie really was. Two words: killer trees.
35 ‘Babylon A.D.’
A big budget disaster, Babylon A.D. effectively ended Vin Diesel’s career – or at least the one he had that didn’t involve him playing his old characters over and over again. Then again, his character in this movie is ridiculously named Toorop, so let’s not pretend like this ever had a chance.
34 ‘Superman III’
Following the incredible success of the first two Christopher Reeve Superman movies, the studio decided it would be a good idea to have the third installment co-star Richard Pryor as a computer hacker and have the bad guy try to kill Superman with kryptonite laced tobacco tar. Just read that again.
33 ‘Dark Shadows’
The only thing that could possibly make fangirls go even more insane over the whole vampire craze is throwing Johnny Depp into the mix. But Tim Burton apparently hates money and instead turned Depp’s vampire into a Willy Wonka-ish weirdo and made a movie about a family feud over fishing rights, which strangely didn’t get people all that excited.
Somehow a movie based on the board game Battleship managed to be even lousier than people expected it to be, which still won’t stop them from making Scrabble: The Movie sometime in the near future. But what the hell, Taylor Kitsch needs the work.
31 ‘Superman IV: The Quest for Peace’
After the horrible disappointment of Superman III you’d figure that just about anything would be a pleasant surprise. Well, you’d figure wrong because instead what we got was a shockingly amateurish morality play about nuclear war in which the bad guy is literally named “Nuclear Man.”
30 ‘Conan the Barbarian’
This is the remake, not the Arnie version, although I can see how you would be confused since the new one, starring the dude who played Khal Drogo on Game of Thrones, was in and out of theaters before James Earl Jones could even throw a single snake. Not a good year for our boy Drogo.
I’m guessing the pitch for this movie was “Hey, we’ll just put Halle Berry in a catsuit.” Sold! “Then we’ll have Halle Berry freak out about catnip.” Uh. “We’ll change the name so it has nothing to do with the Batman Catwoman and have the villain sell evil face cream and…” Unsold!
28 ‘I, Robot’
There was a time when Will Smith was the king of summer blockbusters. Then he started making movies like this, but hey if you really want to see Will Smith bicker with a gay robot then this is the film for you!
27 ‘K-19: the Widowmaker’
Billed as the movie that would make Harrison Ford a serious blockbuster player once again, this oddly titled submarine movie instead flopped, and the only buzz surrounding it was Ford’s ridiculous attempt at a Russian accent. Maybe they should have brought in Chewbacca to play the sub’s pilot.
26 ‘Fantastic Four’
Comic book movies always get people excited, and so it’s extra disappointing when they turn out to be like Fantastic Four, which fails to strike the delicate balance between fun and corny. Sure, it’s got Jessica Alba in it but then again, so did The Love Guru, so let’s not pretend that’s enough to make it worth your time.
25 ‘Green Lantern’
Believe it or not, Green Lantern fanboys weren’t too keen on having Ryan Reynolds bring his Van Wilder charm to the role of Hal Jordan. And as for the rest of us, well, we weren’t too keen on everything else, from the generic script to the cartoon like special effects.
24 ‘Titan A.E.’
There was actually a brief moment when people were intrigued by the idea of a sci-fi cartoon. Then that moment quickly passed and people were left with the realization that Titan A.E. was, well, a sci-fi cartoon. Thanks, but I’ll just stick to Futurama reruns.
23 ‘Planet of the Apes’
This is the Tim Burton remake, aka the one that nobody was asking for. But hey, if you ever wanted to watch Mark Wahlberg look really confused while fighting a monkey, this is the movie for you.
22 ‘Cowboys & Aliens’
Yet another attempt to convince people that Harrison Ford was returning to glory, Cowboys & Aliens seemed like an interesting concept. In the end, though, it was just too goofy a concept, trying to be both a sci-fi flick and a western and in the process failing to be much of either.
21 ‘Far and Away’
A sweeping big budget epic starring Tom Cruise before he went nuts and began assaulting innocent couches, Far and Away basically ended up being two and a half hours of Cruise arguing with his wife, Nicole Kidman. But hey, at least it wasn’t an incredibly offensive caricature of Irish immigrants or anything. Oh wait…
Give Ang Lee credit for trying to craft an introspective, cerebral comic book movie, I guess. But watching an introspective, cerebral comic book movie is a lot like drinking a nonalcoholic beer. What’s the point?
19 ‘Super 8′
All anyone knew about this movie was that the names JJ Abrams and Steven Spielberg were plastered all over the advertising, which was enough to get people excited. It turns out the mysterious marketing was just the studio’s way of covering for the fact that it was actually just a boring, lazy homage to Spielberg’s earlier films.
18 ‘Star Trek V: The Final Frontier’
The Star Trek franchise was coming off a memorable run of successful movies and then this turd hit theaters. Instead of battling Klingons and other space jerks, Kirk and the gang ended up getting sucked into a story about the search for God, which is what happens when you let William Shatner of all people write and direct.
Let’s face it, following Star Wars, George Lucas could have done just about anything and people would’ve gotten hyped. Unfortunately, what he chose to give people was a movie about midgets trying to return a baby, which shockingly enough people weren’t really into.
16 ‘War of the Worlds’
This movie received massive amounts of hype when it came out. Spielberg! Cruise! Aliens! The struggles of a single father! Wait… what? Indeed. Half the movie involves Tom Cruise trying to bond with Dakota Fanning, and the other half involves them running, and running, and running, and…
This one was doomed from the start as the studio could never quite seem to figure out what it wanted and the end result was an uninspired mess, a mishmash of several different story ideas that pleased nobody. But hey, at least they didn’t kill off a bunch of fan favorites or… oh wait.
14 ‘Batman and Robin’
Nipples on the Batsuit. Nipples on the goddamn Batsuit.
13 ‘Battlefield Earth’
On the plus side, at least Battlefield Earth made people realize that John Travolta and the Xenu gang are straight up nuts. On the negative side is everything else about this abomination of a movie, which killed careers and also the souls of anyone unlucky enough to be trapped inside a theater with it for two hours.
12 ‘Speed 2: Cruise Control’
All you need to know about Speed 2 is that it was so shitty that even Keanu Reeves felt it was beneath him. Keanu Reeves!
11 ‘Wild Wild West’
Wild Wild West was supposed to be the next unstoppable box-office juggernaut in the Will Smith summer blockbuster empire. Seriously, before this movie came out he could do no wrong. Instead, what we got was a movie about Kevin Kline trying to bone Salma Hayek in the Wild West while a crazy old cripple tried to kill everyone with a giant robot spider, which honestly isn’t as cool as it sounds.
10 ‘Spider-Man 3′
Everyone was excited for this after Spider-Man 2 kicked all manner of ass. But then Peter Parker decided to jazz dance and none of us could ever look at him the same again.
Godzilla received massive hype when it came out in 1998. Months later, it was nominated for five Razzie Awards, which are sort of like the Oscars of crap, and believe me, the movie deserved every single nomination and probably more.
Expectations for this were astronomical, which is what happens when you have Steven Spielberg put the finishing touches on Stanley Kubrik’s last film. Unfortunately, the movie is a jumbled mess that feels like it is eleven hours long and the plot oddly feels like it was jacked from the Island of Misfit Toys.
7 ‘Another 48 Hours’
The original 48 Hours made Eddie Murphy into a megastar and so people were stoked when he decided to pair up with Nick Nolte one more time. Unfortunately, the magic was gone, which is kind of ironic because it was about this time that Eddie Murphy’s career was stolen by an evil wizard.
6 ‘Superman Returns’
Superman makes yet another appearance on this list with the reboot by Bryan Singer. It probably would have worked if the movie didn’t feel like it was 19 hours too long, the main plot didn’t revolve around a real estate scam and if Brandon Routh wasn’t cast just because he kinda sorta looked like Christopher Reeve. But hey, other than that, everything’s great.
5 ‘The Matrix Reloaded’
People were ridiculously excited when this came out, but instead of the fun, cutting edge badassery of this first film, this one decided to delve into the depressing and muddled philosophy behind the story and the end result was a confused mishmash of vaguely mystical mumbo-jumbo and action scenes that suddenly felt very, very passé. Also, there is like a ten minute long rave scene.
4 ‘Last Action Hero’
Before this turd hit the theaters, Arnold Schwarzenegger was at the peak of his powers. He could do no wrong, and so people were massively excited. But then they sat down and watched a cornball movie about an obnoxious kid and Arnold’s career was never really ever the same again. No wonder he turned to boning the maid.
Ah yes, the movie that destroyed Kevin Costner’s career while at the same time creating a new reference point for disappointing mega-flops. The movie itself is kinda cheesy – I mean, come on, Costner’s character has gills – but what everyone really remembers are the horror stories about the sets sinking and the budget bloating, which basically turned it into the Spinal Tap of summer blockbusters.
Before Waterworld, there was Ishtar, which somehow thought it would be a good idea to take two megastars of the time in Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman and make a spy/comedy flick about them wandering around the Sahara. Naturally, the result was a boondoggle of epic proportions which ruined careers. Look, there’s a reason why Waterworld is derisively nicknamed “Fishtar.”
1 ‘Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace’
Come on, like it could be anything else. No movie has ever had as much hype surrounding its release as this one, and no movie has ever disappointed people so much. I could list all the things George Lucas screwed up while making this but I’ll just leave you with one thing that should say it all: Jar-Jar Binks.
(Previously published on March 6, 2014.)
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