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The 20 Worst Summer Blockbusters Ever

by The Playlist Staff
May 6, 2014 4:02 PM
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To some extent, the idea of a blockbuster season no longer exists: whereas once tentpoles were restricted to the summer or Christmas, these days we get stuff like "The Lego Movie" in February, "300: Rise Of An Empire" in March, Marvel flicks in April, and something like "Gravity" in October. But that said, no point in the calendar has the sheer density (both meanings) of blockbusters of the summer season.

From the release of "Amazing Spider-Man 2" last week, we now have a $100m+ movie in theaters almost every week between now and the middle of August. The next few weeks alone brings us "Godzilla," "X-Men: Days Of Future Past," "Maleficent," "A Million Ways To Die In The West," "Edge Of Tomorrow," "The Fault In Our Stars," "22 Jump Street" and "How To Train Your Dragon 2," with plenty more following in July and August. And, as "Amazing Spider-Man 2" has already demonstrated, the chances are that some of them will be terrible.

While the vast majority of summer movies plough straight down the middle of the road, and one or two a year, if you're lucky, are good-to-great, there's always a few that truly stink up the joint, some of which will flop with audiences, some of which will go on to make a billion dollars. So, in honor of the start of tentpole season, and the release of "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," we've picked out the 20 worst summer blockbusters ever. The only rule: they had to be released between May and August, and they had to have, at some point in their gestation, been expected to be a giant hit. Take a look at our picks (in no particular order) below, have your say in the comments section.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” (2003)
Two years after it chewed up and spat out “From Hell” and six years before it blew its nose on “Watchmen,” Hollywood wiped its ass with another of graphic novelist Alan Moore’s clever, intricate works, “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.” A kind of Victorian all-star team-up, the comic is an affectionate, in-jokey mixture of characters from Verne, Stoker, Conan Doyle, Wells, Stevenson, et al; the film is just a mess, not helped by the pointless additions of Dorian Gray (Stuart Townsend) and Tom Sawyer (Shane West) to the original cast, which includes Allen Quatermain (Sean Connery), Mina Harker (Peta Wilson) and Moriarty (Richard Roxburgh, a two-time offender here). It starts off ok, but director Stephen Norrington just loses the plot halfway through, and so do we, culminating in a tedious hour of running around, bad special effects and worse acting.
Nadir: The whole physics-defying Venice climax. And any time two characters talk to each other and one of them isn't Sean Connery.

Jaws: The Revenge” (1987)
While we did need a moment’s thought over whether “Jaws 3-D” deserved this spot, our PTSD flashbacks to the ignominious fourth installment of the the Franchise That Started It All, made ‘3-D,’ terrible as it is, seem like a masterpiece (a trick ‘3-D’ had also pulled on the previous “Jaws 2”: making it seem a lot better by comparison). Recipient of the special booby prize that is a really-difficult-to-achieve 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, this famously awful flop really does deserve all the hoots of derision: from the terrible acting to the actually comical rubber shark to the plot so ludicrous that eye-roll strain is a serious side-effect, really the only good thing this film spawned is Michael Caine’s famous quote “I’ve never seen it, but I hear it’s terrible. However I have seen the house it built, and it’s terrific.”
Nadir: Probably when the shark chases Michael Brody through the tunnels. Or when it bellows, just like we all know sharks do. Or when it plans its vengeance like we also know sharks totally do. Or when Ellen flashes back at the end to her husband in a much, much, much better film.
“The Avengers” (1998)
No, not that “Avengers.” Back in the the mid-1990s, the revival of the Bond and “Mission: Impossible” franchises saw studios raiding the vaults for other 1960s and 1970s spy franchises that they could bring back to life, and Warner Bros landed on “The Avengers,” a cult and stylish TV series that had made pop culture icons out of Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg. The film, helmed by “Benny & Joon” director Jeremiah Chechik, played up the English eccentricity of the original, with a miscast Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman donning bowler hat and catsuit respectively to take on Sean Connery’s weather-controlling madman, and throws all kinds of lunacy at the screen, from teddy bear henchmen to bubble suits. But in the aftermath of “Austin Powers” the year before, it all seems forced and ill-conceived. It’s possible there’s a better version out there—the studio lopped nearly half an hour off the film, which explains why it makes no sense. But what remains on screen suggests that we were better off without the extra 30 minutes.
Nadir: Happy Mondays frontman Shaun Ryder turning up as a henchman.
“Green Lantern” (2011)
At a time when even characters like “Thor” and “Captain America” were proving to be the stars of massive movies, you’d have thought that the multiplex audience could have stretched to Green Lantern, one of the most popular of DC's characters, whose screen debut had been in the works for decades (Jack Black was attached at one point). But despite a throng of writers, and “Casino Royale” director Martin Campbell, and likable star Ryan Reynolds, “Green Lantern” tanked hard. The galactic scope was at least laudable, but a lousy, superhero-origin-template script, a ludicrous villain in Peter Sarsgaard’s swollen-headed Hector Hammond, a dreadful-looking CGI outfit, and noisy, dull action sequences all failed to make much of a case for the big-screen viability of the character. Still, Reynolds and Blake Lively hooked up on set, so they at least got something out of it.
Nadir: The climax, in which our hero battles a giant fart-cloud.
“Sex And The City 2” (2010)
Almost every film on this list, and indeed, almost every film released as a summer blockbuster, are aimed principally at teenage boys, so it’s almost a shame that we have to include one of the rare exceptions. But given that “Sex And The City 2” made “Sex And The City: The Movie” look like “Sex And The City” the TV series, we’d be remiss in not including it somewhere. Reteaming the famous Cosmo-sipping quartet from the hit HBO series for a trip to Abu Dhabi for no reason in particular, it suggests that writer-director Michael Patrick King never really knew what made the series works, because this is a gaudy, pandering nightmare, that saw Carrie and co. acting less like the women loved by millions, and more like Marie Antoinette, complaining about their nannies on a beach and offending entire cultures as the audience grew more and more murderous. Maybe it might have been bearable at 85 minutes, but at nearly 150, it’s something that comes close to violating human rights.
Nadir: The first-act wedding sequence, a monument to lack of taste, seemingly based on your grandparents’ idea of what gay people are like.
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  • ? | June 14, 2014 10:10 PMReply

    star wars,transformers, why are those on here they weren't that bad or batman and robin what was wrong with that!!!!????

  • Jessa | June 12, 2014 10:03 AMReply

    A tardy comment to express unapologetic love for Far And Away! All he knew was Joseph loves Shannon. THAT WAS ALL HE KNEW.

  • jawsnnn | June 8, 2014 11:18 AMReply

    ......six years before it blew its nose on “Watchmen,” .........

    Watchmen was actually a pretty decent, faithful and watchable movie that gets bashed on for no reason. It was not as good as the graphic novel. But Watchmen the graphic novel is a monument of achievement for any piece of art. To expect a film adaptation to come even close to it is unrealistic.

  • Dan | June 5, 2014 9:36 PMReply

    The attack sequence of Pearl Harbor is fantastic. The love triangle is of course dreck, and the Doolittle Raid addendum they tacked on so the movie wouldn't end with America on the losing side feels rushed, but the titular event the film exists to portray is solid.

  • Hagbard Celine | June 4, 2014 8:37 PMReply

    Viermaliges Glück

    Rolling from the past into the future. It works always !
    For me the absolute Fantasy Masterpieces.

    Willow, Goonies, Legend and Krull.

  • Rick | June 2, 2014 1:52 AMReply

    I actually liked Masters Of The Universe when I was a kid but I haven't seen it in a long time. I do often like cheesy movie so I'd probably still like it.

  • Duder NME | May 24, 2014 11:04 AMReply

    Yet another blogger misunderstands The Phantom Menace. It was never solely about a trade embargo, and the various aliens are only projections of a viewer's own inherent racism (which I'm sure you've been told about and decided to ignore anyway), leaving the rest to baseless subjective expectation, as if Lucas owed anything to a bunch of faux stockholders. Oh, but at least we got a tired "childhood rape" meme out of it. Way to contribute to being "fans", internet.

  • ? | June 14, 2014 10:13 PM

    i agree with al 100%

  • al | June 13, 2014 9:05 AM

    No the all the Star Wars movies were awesome I have no idea what you are talking about. So was Pearl Harbor and ALEG. The other movies ok in my list but honestly how you going to write that Green Lantern sucked and did not put Dare Devil or Electra in the same Category they all sucked but Green Lantern was good compared to them Two. Transformers 2 plot sucked the action was pretty awesome.

  • Mike | June 4, 2014 2:35 PM

    Oh come on. The Phantom Menace is a dreadful movie. You can stick your head in the sand as much as you like & try to convince yourself that it was not that bad. But it was & I didn't need anyone to tell me it sucked. Oh no... It's Star Wars... so it can't suck.... WRONG!!!!!!

  • Piablo | May 20, 2014 10:54 AMReply

    "The jive-talking robots Skids and Mudflaps, caricatures so racist that they’d be shocking in the 1940s."

    This is getting to be real annoying. Why are 'jive talking' robots racist? Much like the 80's were characterized by the california surf craze and the hippyish 'cowabunga man' way of talking, today is about the urban centers. Like it or not, 'jive talking' is beyond blacks and beyond urban ghettos. It's all races, all localities, and there's nothing racist about it.

  • Duder NME | May 24, 2014 11:11 AM

    The staff has never heard of "wiggers". They seems to misunderstand a lot.

  • John Matrix | May 14, 2014 7:20 PMReply

    Some real stinkers on this list. A few observations:

    - A friend once said "I beg you not to watch Speed 2." I should have listened to him.
    - Batman & Robin was bad, but I didn't hate it. I thought Batman Forever was much worse.
    - The raven flying out of Jonah Hex's mouth was one of the funniest things I've seen in years.
    - I enjoyed Masters of the Universe. I was a teenager at the time, but still...

  • Sanker from india | May 8, 2014 11:18 PMReply

    "Likable star Ryan Reynolds"
    What?! What?! WHAAAAATT?!?!?!

  • Kevin | May 8, 2014 12:52 PMReply

    I agree with most of these, although Jonah Hex is getting a bit of a bad rap here. Lordy, it's a terrible movie, but I actually enjoyed myself at it. The second Pirates film comes to mind as one that was wayyyyy worse.

  • jason | May 7, 2014 5:30 PMReply

    Slumdog Millionaire

  • Narrator | May 10, 2014 11:52 PM

    You don't really "get" the concept of summer blockbusters, do you? Slumdog Millionaire was A) made with a budget of $15 million that B) had a limited release in C) November.

  • NewYorker | May 7, 2014 3:59 PMReply

    i actulley love almost alot of these films, watched Batman & Robin alot when its on tv like the Hub or IFC. i also liked Phantom Menace, Green Lantern, Super Mario Bro &, The Happening(better then M Night's last 2 films)

  • Aline | May 7, 2014 11:32 AMReply

    Feels like there were a lot of bad movies in 1987.

  • Anthony | May 7, 2014 10:50 AMReply

    Star Wars Episode I wasn't that bad as reviews gave it, yes Jar Jar Binks was annoying, but I saw it 5 times in theatres

  • Leigh | May 7, 2014 2:45 AMReply

    After the awesome "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home", which until the new JJ Abrams Trek came out was the most successful Star Trek movie out of all of them (U.S. Box Office when adjusted for inflation is 230 million, but I bet that's low), the atrocity known as "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier" premiered in June of 1989. It grossed less than half of "Home" and is considered by most to be the worst film of the franchise.

  • Duder NME | May 24, 2014 11:09 AM

    Red matter < Row Row Row Your Boat? Granted, a stretch, but wuh?

  • Mark | May 7, 2014 3:51 PM

    Worst film of the franchise, until JJ Abrams came along.

  • Alex Gradet | May 6, 2014 7:18 PMReply

    "'Rocky V' is very hard to sit through; 'Lost in Space' we've all kind of forgotten about but yep, it was shit."

    Not defending their quality (they have none), but the former was released in November, 1990, and the latter in April '98 (famously unseating Titanic at the top of the weekend charts). So neither belongs on a summer list anyway.

  • cirkusfolk | May 6, 2014 7:05 PMReply

    Where is the shit that is The Hangover 3? Only fair if you have Sex and City 2. Oh, and I'll defend Cocktail til I die!

  • Adam Scott Thompson | May 6, 2014 10:56 PM

    +1 for Cocktail.

  • ASFan | May 6, 2014 6:03 PMReply

    I disliked Pirates 4 more than Pirates 3 by a distance.

  • James | May 6, 2014 5:24 PMReply

    Masters of the Universe is a great movie. Shame on you all.....
    I HAVE THE POWER!!!!!!!!!!

  • Duder NME | May 24, 2014 11:12 AM


  • Mojo | May 6, 2014 5:15 PMReply

    Went to a $1 theater and sat through a double-feature of Jaws 4 and Superman 4 when I was a kid. I have never paid $1 to watch a movie again. So that meant watching "Phantom Menace" at full price.

  • That Kid | May 6, 2014 4:55 PMReply

    For those who can, or are brave enough to, remember Max Payne. Or better yet, don't.

  • Chris | May 6, 2014 4:42 PMReply

    You definitely picked the wrong Shyamalan. "The Happening" is bad, but not "The Last Airbender"-bad. Not even close.

  • cirkusfolk | May 6, 2014 7:04 PM

    Same with After Earth.

  • Rob | May 6, 2014 4:34 PMReply

    Seen most of these movies. I love League of Extraordinary Gentlemen just because it was so terrible. But Green Lantern... wow. God awful.

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