A bit over a year ago, I posted a list (in Portuguese) of some of my favorite movies based on comic books. The reason for that list to exist in the first place was a movie festival we organised among users of the Cinema em Cena message board. During this event, many movies were mentioned – for good or for bad – by participants. I realised that all of the famous ones were familiar to me – I’d seen every Superman, Spiderman, Batman and X-Men one, as well as A History of Violence, Sin City, 300… What was left were the ones that got split reviews – and the ones which got outright bad reviews all around. Anyway, following my curiosity, I set out to watch a batch of these movies I had neglected. Some were actually pleasant surprises; among those are RED, Surrogates, Hellboy 2 and The Green Hornet. Many of the ones that promised to be really bad, though, turned out to be really bad. That inspired me to compile this list. Enjoy (especially if you haven’t wasted your time watching them).
14. Steel (Kenneth Johnson, 1997) – it’s not so much that there is a non-actor starring in this one. Shaquille O’Neal is a cool dude, and I could easily cut him some slack. Having a director with a 40-year long career and nothing relevant to show for it is probably more telling as to why this movie sucks. There is a bit of good action here and there, almost by accident, and the character, in itself, is good, but none of that saves Steel from being quite bad.
13. Blade: Trinity (David S. Goyer, 2004) – contrary to Steel, Blade: Trinity fell in the hands of someone with something to show for – at least as a writer, Goyer can be proud to have on his resume movies such as Dark City, The Dark Knight trilogy and the first two Blades, of which I’m actually quite fond. When it came to directing, though, he failed miserably. Trinity is a mess of nonsensical plot, messy action and shameful acting (with Snipes being the only one who barely escapes sucking – no pun intended).
12. Elektra (Rob Bowman, 2005) – This movie shouldn’t have existed. Daredevil did badly in the box office and got mostly bad reviews. But studios want to lure in female audiences who wish to see strong ladies kick some ass, instead of being pieces of ass for the male heroes to get as prizes. Only, studios are notorious for falling short on depicting female superheroes. Elektra maintained the rule. The story is ridiculous, and Jennifer Garner doesn’t hold up. In the end, we go back to the beginning to state one more time: this movie shouldn’t have existed.
11. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (Michael Pressman, 1991) – unlike the other entries so far, this one tries to be funny. Not taking itself seriously might have worked. Only it’s not funny. At all. It’s just very bad.
10. Howard the Duck (Willard Huyck, 1986) – maybe I’m wrong, and this insane story is actually the most secretly brilliant piece of film ever. Let’s check some of the dialogue: “That’s it, no more Mr. Nice Duck”; “Desperate ducks commit desperate acts”; “No one laughs at a master of Quack-Fu”. Yep, brilliant.
09. Mortadelo & Filemon: The Big Adventure (La gran aventura de Mortadelo y Filemón, Javier Fesser, 2003) – I remember laughing out loud to comic books of Mortadelo & Filemon in my youth. Hell, I sometimes smile just by remembering the jokes (the one when they hit an alligator in the head with a rock is totally brilliant, and I’m laughing in front of the computer right now). Then there’s this movie which fails at everything, particularly at being funny. I’m not laughing anymore.
08. Supergirl (Jeannot Szwarc, 1984) – see Elektra above, and replace Daredevil with Superman III – with the difference that, whereas Daredevil might not be so bad, Superman III is certainly bad. Oh, and this is somehow sillier than Elektra.
07. The Spirit (Frank Miller, 2008) – “Hey, Sin City was a hit, right? What else can we film along those lines? How about ‘The Spirit’? And let’s just get Frank Miller to direct it all by himself. What could possibly go wrong?” Everything, it turns out.
06. Jonah Hex (Jimmy Hayward, 2010) – Josh Brolin, Michael Shannon, Michael Fassbender and even John Malkovich, and still all you can do is hope that this movie ends soon. Jonah Hex proves something needed absolutely no proof: being an animator does not mean you’re a good director.
04. Batman & Robin (Joel Schumacher, 1997) – why anyone would let Joel Schumacher direct a Batman movie after Batman Forever is beyond me. This is one two-hour-long video clip for the gay community. Which wouldn’t be so bad (although frankly disappointing for Batman hardcore fans), if it weren’t such a terrible video clip anyway. It would be possible to make a top 10 list of the worst ideas that somehow made it past everyone involved in the production and ended up in the final version of the movie. Among the items on the list would be Mr. Freeze’s terrible puns and, of course, the Bat-credit-card.
03. Ghost Rider (Mark Steven Johnson, 2007) – seriously, Eva Mendes, I like your acting, but stop making superhero movies (although “hero” is used loosely here). You’re bad luck. Kidding, there’s no bad luck here, just a bunch of terrible ideas. Someone tried to make a movie that would have teenage boys going “awesome!” and ended up with a pile of crap.
02. 30 Days of Night: Dark Days (Ben Ketai, 2010) – what the fuck is this? The plot is beyond stupid, it’s plain outrageous. There’s the “girl against the world”, the silly romance, the traitor, the great villain you don’t even deserve to see until the end (and who dies pretty simply), among other clichés. Every minute of this is torture, and just because you dared hold on until the end, they kick you the head with one last “twist”.
01. Catwoman (Pitof, 2004) – for a moment, I considered joining this one with Elektra. But, although they’re both from around the same time, and they both suffer from the same disease, Catwoman sucks on a much deeper level. What they’re going for is a heroin that is both sexy and fierce. Who has men at her feet, and kicks their asses. What they got is an abomination. Halle Berry cannot be less sexy than she was made to be in this movie (I’m pretty sure scientists have determined that), and part of that is because she was forced to try too hard. It is embarrassing to see her walk and talk and do whatever else she does during the film, and noticing that someone somewhere thought that was going to have men howling in desire. Catwoman is, to this day, the biggest example of how comic book heroines are misunderstood by Hollywood. In fact, in its representation of strong women and how they relate to men, Catwoman manages to be one of those rare occurrences that manage to insult every single person on the planet. If there had been a sequel, they’d have to be offensive to aliens.