Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
David Fincher Says He Shouldn't Have Directed 'The Game,' Dislikes Superhero Movies & Talks "Crazy" '20,000 Leagues' David Fincher Says He Shouldn't Have Directed 'The Game,' Dislikes Superhero Movies & Talks "Crazy" '20,000 Leagues' Matt Damon & Paul Greengrass Are Returning To The 'Bourne' Series Matt Damon & Paul Greengrass Are Returning To The 'Bourne' Series First Look: Angelina Jolie And Brad Pitt In 'By The Sea' First Look: Angelina Jolie And Brad Pitt In 'By The Sea' The Best, Worst And Most Disappointing Films Of The 2014 Toronto International Film Festival The Best, Worst And Most Disappointing Films Of The 2014 Toronto International Film Festival David Fincher Says Differences Over Casting And Disney's Corporate Culture Stalled '20,000 Leagues Under The Sea' David Fincher Says Differences Over Casting And Disney's Corporate Culture Stalled '20,000 Leagues Under The Sea' Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season 5, Episode 2 ‘The Good Listener’ Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season 5, Episode 2 ‘The Good Listener’ Review: 'No Good Deed' Starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson Review: 'No Good Deed' Starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson Watch: First Trailer For ‘Effie Gray’ Starring Dakota Fanning, Emma Thompson, Tom Sturridge & Greg Wise Watch: First Trailer For ‘Effie Gray’ Starring Dakota Fanning, Emma Thompson, Tom Sturridge & Greg Wise Watch: Shailene Woodley Gets NSFW In 2 Clips From 'White Bird In A Blizzard' Plus New Pics Watch: Shailene Woodley Gets NSFW In 2 Clips From 'White Bird In A Blizzard' Plus New Pics TIFF Review: 'Cake' Starring Jennifer Aniston, Anna Kendrick, Sam Worthington & More TIFF Review: 'Cake' Starring Jennifer Aniston, Anna Kendrick, Sam Worthington & More Watch: First Trailer For Rom-Com 'Playing It Cool' With Chris Evans, Michelle Monaghan, Aubrey Plaza & More Watch: First Trailer For Rom-Com 'Playing It Cool' With Chris Evans, Michelle Monaghan, Aubrey Plaza & More Watch: First Trailer For ‘Serena’ Starring Jennifer Lawrence & Bradley Cooper Watch: First Trailer For ‘Serena’ Starring Jennifer Lawrence & Bradley Cooper Tom Hardy Says He'll Never Do Another Romantic Comedy Again Thanks To 'This Means War' Tom Hardy Says He'll Never Do Another Romantic Comedy Again Thanks To 'This Means War' David Fincher Apparently Thinks 'Dragon Tattoo' Sequel 'The Girl Who Played With Fire' Could Get Made David Fincher Apparently Thinks 'Dragon Tattoo' Sequel 'The Girl Who Played With Fire' Could Get Made Fall TV Preview: Our 22 Most Anticipated Shows For The Rest Of 2014 Fall TV Preview: Our 22 Most Anticipated Shows For The Rest Of 2014 The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

The 20 Worst Summer Blockbusters Ever

The Playlist 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.
34
Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace
“Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” (1999)
There’ll probably never again be a film with the feverish level of anticipation of this one. The revival of the biggest franchise in film history, after nearly twenty years, rode the tail of hugely successful re-releases, and came just as the internet, and sites like Ain’t It Cool News, were coming of age. Even the trailer felt like a massive event. Which all meant that the film just felt like a bigger let down. Unlike some of these films, it has a couple of redeeming features--the podrace sequence is an outstanding set-piece, and the fight at the end is one of the best in the series, thanks in part to Ray Park’s striking villain Darth Maul. But the rest is a sterile bore (a trade embargo, you say? How THRILLING!), with very little of the grimy, playful joy of the original films, and way more casual racism (Jar-Jar gets the press, but the Asian-accented villains, and Arab-ish scrap dealer Watto are worse). And the performers, even ones more talented than young Jake Lloyd, are tangibly drowning in green screen. All of the prequels are bad, but this rivals the Christmas Special as the absolute low watermark for the entire franchise. Plus side: it gives J.J. Abrams a lower bar to clear come December 2015.
Nadir: Every excruciatingly stiff line-reading. It seems no one on set had the balls to echo Harrison Ford, and tell the director “you can type this shit, George, but you sure can’t say it.” 
“Batman & Robin” (1997)
Though “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” makes a pretty good fist of getting close to it, it feels unlike we’ll ever see a worse superhero movie than “Batman & Robin,” a monumentally ill-conceived disaster zone that still astonishes with how entirely unsuccessful it is at every single level. After the darkness of Tim Burton’s “Batman Returns” unnerved Warner Bros. executives, Joel Schumacher gave the franchise a fresh-lick of kid-friendly paint with 1995’s “Batman Forever,” presumably to their delight, because whatever was wrong with that film is doubly so in the follow-up. Every costume and set seems designed as a toy first and as something to be shown on screen second, Akiva Goldsman’s screenplay appears to be inspired by a deranged child’s retelling of a plot from the 1960s TV series, and even the action is atrocious. The dark and gritty way of the subsequent Christopher Nolan films isn’t the only way to paint the character, but the pantomime of “Batman & Robin” is certainly the worst of all possible scenarios.
Nadir: Mr. Freeze's puns are legendary, but George Clooney’s Batman bidding on Uma Thurman’s Poison Ivy with his Bat-Credit Card is pretty much unbeatable.
 
 
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace” (1987)
It feels like we’ve been calling out this one quite frequently of late, most recently as part of our Worst Superhero Villains piece, but lest you think that’s some sort of tacit bid to get ‘Supes 4’ reclaimed as a cult favorite, let us quickly disavow you: this movie stinks. And as bad as the plot and the script are (Luthor creates Nuclear Man to defeat Superman; they fight on the moon; Superman wins) and as utterly amateurish the effects and costumes, the worst aspect is seeing the great Gene Hackman teamed with the most annoying sidekick/nephew character ever created in Jon Cryer’s Lenny Luthor. This film truly put two in the heart and one in the head of a franchise that had been on trembly legs since the dire “Superman III,” and even Christopher Reeve looks profoundly uncomfortable throughout in a role he pretty much owned otherwise.
Nadir: Anything with Cryer in it, but since we can’t find any clips of him (the only explanation is the internet has gone sentient and is protecting itself) here’s a battle scene that hints at what we’re getting at.
 
 
“R.I.P.D.” (2013)
No one was really expecting “R.I.P.D” to be good. It was a hugely expensive summer movie that was delayed an entire year, starring the coming-off-a-series-of-flops Ryan Reynolds, and that was released, in a bid to keep marketing costs down, with little fanfare by Universal. But few were probably expecting it to be as bad as it actually was. “R.I.P.D” isn’t a film like “Hudson Hawk” or “Waterworld,” fair-to-middling movies tarnished with the brush of being a gigantic flop. It’s a rancid, unfunny disaster that probably deserved to lose the people who made it the eight figures that it did. A cynical attempt to exactly meld “Men In Black” and “Ghostbusters” (though it is, at least, based on a presumably equally cynical comic book), it pairs an adrift Ryan Reynolds with an over-the-top Jeff Bridges to battle yet another shitting portal in the sky and Kevin Bacon, who you partly suspect might have died early in production and is being pushed around “Weekend At Bernie's”-style by some poor PA. It’s never funny, the effects and design are dreadful, and it’s never interesting. If anything, it deserved to do worse.
Nadir: The moment where you realize that Ryan Reynolds’ character has literally done nothing the entire film.
 
 
Speed 2: Cruise Control” (1997)
Really, the signs were there with the godawful pun right there in the title, but we still came out of “Speed 2” stunned at how risibly awful it was, despite being from the same director as the terrific “Speed” and bringing back newly-minted star Sandra Bullock. Set on an ocean liner this time, with a blocklike Jason Patric making us really miss the comparatively Shakespearean range of Keanu Reeves (I know!), and featuring a villain in Willem Dafoe whose defining characteristic is that he believes in bleeding himself with leeches, there is no point at which this film even scrabbles its fingertips at believability. Which would be fine if it were at all exciting, but you know, big lumbering boats just don’t go that fast—a problem, given the title and supposed premise.
Nadir: People literally strolling away in terror as the ship approaches the marina. Slowly. You get a bit of it in this fan-made homage to the guy who does the knots countdown.
 

This article is related to: Features, Feature, Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates