25 MOVIES TO AVOID LIKE PLAGUE CARRYING RATS
For every up there’s a down, for every yin there’s a yang, for every list of movies you should watch…
Same guidelines as before. And remember, as Grant Watson says, I’ve watched these so you don’t have to.
Supernova: A snapshot from the James Spader sideshow of awfulness. How can a man who appears in so many funky, fun films, turn up in so many abysmal B-graders? Such as this farrago. I can’t even really remember the plot, only that there’s a spaceship, and he spends half the movie horning after Angela Bassett, and there’s that zero-g shagging scene in the viewport. And I’m not entirely sure that’s the point of the film, but I do know there isn’t a herd of mastodon that could drag me near a copy of this movie to check. (NB: I really wanted to add Wolf to this list, but I like James Spader, so only one at a time)
Event Horizon: If this B-grade shocker about a mad scientist using a spacecraft’s FTL drive to open a gateway to Hell (no, seriously) had a cast to match it’s shocker of a plot, I could have left it off and put Universal Soldier in here where it belongs. But Sam Neill and Laurence Fishburne stumble through this. They may look like they’d rather be licking Kurt Russell’s eyeballs. They may act like they’re only waiting until lunch so they can steal a fork from the canteen and stab their agents in the inner ear over and over and over. But they’re in it, and for that alone the plague rats crawl all over this rotting corpse of a film in numbers too many to count.
Escape From New York/LA: Kurt Russell. You don’t need more than that, surely? Okay, how about the fact that these two movies are essentially the ame damn film released a decade and a half apart? How about the ludicrous basketball scene? How about Peter Fonda and Oor Kurt surfing to safety? How about… look, they’re Kurt Russell films. Just trust me, okay?
Stargate: Kuuuuuurrrrrtttttt….. And James Spader to boot! If you think the TV show is bad (and how can you think otherwise?) you ain’t seen nothin’ yet! So ridiculous on every level it’s difficult to know where to begin. Like a Von Daniken wet dream, this Egyptians-From-Space epic lurches from irrationality to irrationality with its eyes closed, and a deep hope that nobody else is watching. So don’t.
Independence Day: So big, so dumb, so full of Will Smith that there should be a law against it. Where do I start? IBM-compatible aliens? A race of psychic aliens who can’t detect when two humans are flying a spacecraft right up their motherships ass because the pilots duck behind the control console? Will Smith? The fact that the humans spend half the movie trying to break into an alien craft they’ve had since the 50s when one’s sitting crashed in the desert with the top open not half an hour’s walk away? Will Smith?
The Star Wars Sextet: Sure, Jaws may have started the belief that bigger, faster and stupider equalled better, but these are the movies that made that belief holy. And by God they’re big, and by God they’re fast, and by bloody God on a pike they’re stupid. I don’t have the time to waste listing all the ways these movies suck, and let’s be honest, either you agree with me or you’re not going to listen. But they do.
2001- A Space Odyssey: Yes, this is a classic. Yes, it revolutionised film special effects and non-linear storytelling. Yes, the ending is a bizarre journey through one director’s determination not to let us understand a bloody thing. But let’s be honest, here: this film is so goddamn boring I’d rather be listening to a Rick Astley album.
Okay, maybe not that boring. But still…
The Mummy/ The Mummy Returns: Let’s take a classic Boris Karloff creeper from the 1930s and rejig it as a semi-comedy vehicle for Brendan Fraser. Of all people. The Ishtar of Horror Movies, and then they made a sequel. From the moment they fired Clive Barker this began to stink like week-old stew. And worse of all, it gave Rachel Weiss TWO acting jobs…
Armageddon: Bigger, faster, dumber. With Ben Afleck. Who doesn’t die on a gaint meteor, blown apart by nuclear bombs. So unfair. I mean, is it too much to ask? A Meteor for the 90s, with an idea so stupid only an American action movie star would do it.
Altered States: William Hurt has a reputation as a serious actor of deep intelligence, giving measured performances that balance passion and reflectiveness in a restrained dose. Personally, I think he’s boring, wooden-faced, and monotone-voiced. Sure, he was in Dark City, but then, he was in this too. And this is as boring as batshit. Even in deeply reflective mediatations on the human psyche and what it means to step across the divide between one’s id and ego, something has to happen. 2 minutes of a bad-CGI monkey at the end is not enough.
AI: Spielberg does Kubrick. And somewhere there’s an alternative universe where that’s a good idea. 90 minutes of the wet-eyed charms of Hayley Joel Osmont, playing a pinocchio who never grows up, never becomes a real boy, and never learns a frigging thing, followed by the usual half hour of unrestrained Spielberg mush as only he can ruin it. By the end of this I wanted to kill every supertoy I could find before summer started.
Hook: Another Spielberg monstrosity. What if Peter Pan grew up? What if he became boring? What if Robin Williams turned in his flabbiest-ever performance in a production so staged and artless you hope the crocodile just would eat them all and get it over with? What if they ignored everything that made Peter Pan dark, and dangerous, and special, and instead riffed on the Disney abomination so badly that any vestige of magic was crushed beneath Speilberg’s soulless commercial desires?
ET- The Extra-Terrestrial: I defy anyone to watch this movie and not contract diabetes. More mawkish sentimentality from Spielberg, with the usual moralising about how children should remain children and not trust adults, who will only lie to you and try to cut up your best friends whilst telling you it for their own good. Don’t trust anyone over 30, man. Never mind not leaving Michael Jackson alone with your children, if the babysitting agency sent me Spielberg I’d lock the doors and ring the police.
Titan AE: I don’t know how to explain why this is so bad. It just… is. Like everything that makes anime SF so hip and self-aware turned on its head with a wise-cracking sidekick to boot. The effect is like watching a very slow car crash. The sense of inevitability is there, as is the helplessness, and whilst you really want to care about the poor victims, by the end of it they remain strangers and you can walk away. With a few therapy sessions you can pretend it never happened.
Planet of The Apes: Marky Mark as a creditable Charlton Heston replacement? It’s a hard movie to justify when you’re hoping by halfway through that he’d just shutup and shag the chimpanzee woman just to give this thing a bit of interest. Proof that you should never remake classic movies that are easily available at Blockbusterworld.
Meteor: Sean Connery has done so many, many bad movies. And this is one of them. One of the great failures of the disaster movie 70s, and it’s not hard to see why. It doesn’t matter how dramatic the action is on the surface if your entire cast stay trapped on a subway platform thirty feet underground for most of the damn film!
Flash Gordon: A lesson in taking excellent British stage actors and making them look like idiots. If I told you I could make a movie with Brian Blessed, Timothy Dalton and Max Von Sydow, and give it a Queen soundtrack, and make it so bad that it would become a byword for how not to do SF, would you believe me? The kind of movie you put on right at the death of a very good party, when everyone has had all the vodka available in the suburb, and can appreciate it.
Soldier: Kurrrrrttttttt….. He only speaks about 72 words in this one, which is an improvement. It doesn’t help the plot, which is about a genetically enhanced soldier dumped on a giant rubbish heap, who then defends it from the even more genetically enhanced super soldiers that kicked his sorry ass there in the first place. No, I don’t remember why anybody would fight over a rubbish tip. Does it matter?
Total Recall: A Philip K Dick adaptation so bad it makes Screamers look like a viable alternative. Whilst it’s impossible to know where to begin criticising this movie, let’s start by noting that it’s impossible to reconstitute the atmosphere of an entire planet in under ten minutes and only blow out a few windows as a result. And that’s one of the minor faults. Imho, this is easily one of the ten worst films ever made, in any genre. This is a genuine, 100%, accept no substitutes, plague rat.
Starship Troopers: What is it with classic SF writers and adaptations by directors who shouldn’t be trusted to sit the right way round on a toilet seat? It’s like Paul Bloody Verhowven read the book, took in the single line about unisex showers, thought “Ooh, tits!” and built a movie around it. But then, this is the guy who gave us Showgirls. Somebody, kill this man. Please. And film it. That’d be a Verhoeven film I’d actually pay to watch.
Freejack: Based on a Robert Sheckley story. Robert Sheckly is a classic SF author. By definition, this movie must be shit. It doesn’t disappoint. Manly action star Emilio Estevez is carried forward umpteen years when his race car goes over a bump and hits a bridge 30 feet above the track. Never mind the rest of the plot after that, I still want to know how the hell that car got up there!
Virtuosity: Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington not only worked after this movie, they won Oscars. A cynical attempt to cash in on the current internet craze (back when old fat guys in suits thought it was a craze), it surprised nobody by being a lame, dissolute, bland affair. Much like the actors in question, really.
Lost In Space: The worst television show in history, and they add William Hurt and Joey from Friends to the recipe. It’s like some movie exec said to himself “I really want to go back to selling shoes, but I just can’t work out how to get out of this biz.” Add a frothing Gary Oldman, and a plot so transparent and obvious a Hollywood executive could work it out, and a career in shoes is yours for the asking.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: Who, when faced with the quintessentially British scientific horror text, decides that Robert De Niro is a good casting choice for the monster? Who? Kenneth Branagh? One day they’ll make the perfect version of this brilliant novel. One day they’ll do it, whilst remaining true to the text. One day… oh, this is boring crap. Rent out the James Whale version. Remakes of classic movies easily available at Blockbusterworld. When will they learn?
Johnny Mnemonic: Keanu Reeves and Ice-T add to their impressive film CVs. And another classic SF author is leant over the Hollywood barrel and has his trousers pulled down. Boring actors, boring script, boring movie. Let’s be honest: when Dolph Lundgren steals the movie, you’re in shit too deep to paddle through.
So maybe they’re not the all-time worst movies. And I’m sure I’ve missed a bunch. But unless you’re Grant Watson (you Spielberg-loving film zombie, you), I defy you to argue that any of these turkeys doesn’t deserve to be basted over the fires of movie hell.
You know, I feel better now…