By The Playlist Staff | The Playlist May 6, 2014 at 4:02PM
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.