— by CHRIS HYATT —
There have been plenty of box office bombs lobbed by Hollywood in the last two decades. Every genre of movie has had many failures, but none perhaps as prolific as science fiction.
I tend to discount horror as it hasn’t been properly done since Alfred Hitchcock died. However, there are sci-fi movies that are just terrible, but have a major saving grace, like effects, or the soundtrack, or even a gigantic battle. It can be just about anything, except acting or plot.
Here’s my list of the Top 5 awesomely bad sci-fi flicks …
5. “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones”/”Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” (2002 and 2005, respectively) — The Lucas fanboys will positively lose it, but with casting like Hayden Christiansen, they can only be mad at their benefactor. The two worst movies in the sextet, Episodes II and III both boast impressive CGI scenes and characters, evidently to cover the gaping plot holes. John Williams’ score appropriately sets the grand scale of the films, as expected. The acting is so bad that not even Samuel L. Jackson and Ewan MacGregor combined could save it. At least Jar Jar Binks is largely excised from both films. The only parts of either movie worth watching are the elaborate battle scenes at the end of “Attack of the Clones” and the beginning of “Revenge of the Sith.” The only complaints I have about them is that Lucas abused the CGI zoom shot (aka the Galactica zoom).
4. “Star Trek Nemesis” (2002) — I can’t in good conscience ding Lucas without taking a shot at Stuart Baird’s failed farewell to the Next Generation crew. The worst movie of eleven (even “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier” made more money), “Nemesis” felt like a long episode of “The Next Generation” in a good season that no one particularly wants to see, complete with an obligatory Troi mindrape scene. The whole cast is old and getting older fast. Jonathan Frakes’ transformation into a younger William Shatner seems to be complete with a pretty bad directorial debut in “Insurrection,” not to mention the girth. All the women have begun their downward spirals, even the “clone’s desire for revenge” plot itself is tired and worn. Why see this movie? The Scimitar is totally B.A., and fights with the Enterprise-E at the end of the movie, and Dina Meyer in those tight Romulan leggings. The new Warbirds weren’t bad looking either.
3. “Wing Commander” (1999) — Another in the line of poorly-executed video game movies, Freddie Prinze Jr. finds yet another outlet to declare to the world that he has absolutely no acting talent. Matthew Lillard didn’t have to scream, we knew he was terrible after “Hackers,” and Saffron Burrows should likely have stayed in England. Aside from the godawful bad acting, this film’s biggest downfall was it was trying to do too much with a crappy storyline. You can’t do religion, bigotry and racism while dogfighting, rather catfighting, with the Kilrathi. You can blow the heck out of everything moving, which is precisely what happened here. There were enough lasers and missiles flying around to help shade the fact that the Rapiers and Broadswords were little more than 27th Century Spitfires, almost literally, FTL is done by jumping gravity wells, and like “Star Wars,” just about everyone in the movie (minus Prinze, Lillard, Tcheky Karyo — the only credible actor in the movie — and Jurgen Prochnow) are British.
2. “Lost in Space” (1998) — Danger Will Robinson is right! From the cast selection alone, you can tell that the movie was trying to play the young and sexy card. For the period, the special effects were pretty good. It’s clear that love was put into both the Jupiter 2 and Major Don West’s (terribly played by Matt LeBlanc) one man gyro-stabilized fighter, and the frozen time hyperspace effect was much better done than Wing Commander’s. Apollo 440’s remix of the classic “Lost in Space” theme definitely made you want to find a rave, but the lack of a real story made most look for an exit. At least the guys had Mimi Rogers, Heather Graham and Lacey Chabert to look at, and the ladies had Matt LeBlanc … and maybe Gary Oldman.
1. “Starship Troopers” (1997) — Was there any doubt that Paul Verhoeven’s kitbashed adaptation from Heinlein’s classic book would be No. 1? Is there any doubt that this is the movie he’d love to have back? When this movie came out, I noticed two things right away: the gratuitous amount of nudity, and an Everest-sized number of nitpicks (which I sent off to the Nitpicker’s Guild [now Nitpickers.com]). “Starship Troopers” features a complete lack of acting from all involved, save for Clancy Brown and Michael Ironside (Neil Patrick Harris was only in like five scenes, and therefore doesn’t really count — Brenda Strong wasn’t all that bad though). The effects are the real show, though. Nuclear weapons that are fired like bazookas and the grunts miraculously survive, nuke hand grenades, chain guns, a fleet of ships, a flotilla of mini-ships and bug plasma, and that’s not even counting Dina Meyer’s … assets.
Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments section.
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