Every summer season (and sometimes spread out during the year) Hollywood studios bank their entire reputations on big budget blockbusters that they hope will turn into box-office gold. While some may turn out to be extremely successful, there are some that turn out to be so bad that they actually make history (and not for the good reasons). No, we aren’t talking about run-of-the-mill stinkers; we are talking about the large scale, hundred-million plus pictures that make tons of promises, but completely fail to deliver. Sure, some of them have great ideas, and possibly some nifty effects, but sometimes they are just too clever (or not so clever) for their own good. It is those large-scale stinkers that we salute as the 12 worst Hollywood blockbusters of all-time. Let us know if you agree with our compilation and if there are other blockbuster fails that deserve a spot on this list.
12. Pearl Harbor
One has to wonder what was going through Michael Bay’s mind when he made the stinker that is known as Pearl Harbor. What could have been an exploration on the lives affected by one of our nation’s most horrifying attacks, instead turned into an action-packed romance (complete with all of Bay’s trademarks) that put historical accuracy far in the backseat. Josh Hartnett, Ben Affleck and Kate Beckinsale did the best they could, but not even their beautiful faces and talent could save Pearl Harbor from landing on many top “worst” lists.
While this movie wasn’t a complete waste (as we have said before on other lists), Armageddon was done in by some pretty hooky scenes that took the thrill out of saving the world. Rumor has it that when the movie premiered at Cannes, the audience laughed so much that an irate Bruce Willis had to tell them off. One has to wonder if Willis still feels the same after watching the infamous animal cracker scene between Liv Tyler and Ben Affleck. That one scene alone qualifies Armageddon as one of the worst blockbusters of all-time.
10. Speed 2: Cruise Control
The original Speed was Jan DeBont at his best. It featured a rare solid performance from Keanu Reeves, a plucky heroine in the still brand new Sandra Bullock, Dennis Hopper as an intense villain and some pretty great stunts. Speed 2: Cruise Control tried to capture that same magic, but failed miserably in its execution. The film still had Bullock, but this time around she was paired with Jason Patric instead of Reeves. They were okay, but it simply wasn’t the same. But the movie’s biggest problem was the fact that it was basically the first movie, only in water. The end result was just a soggy (pardon the pun) version of the original.
9. Cutthroat Island
Director Renny Harlin knew his way around an action movie, having directed such adrenaline rushes as Die Hard 2 and Cliffhanger, and then wife Geena Davis needed something big to spark her career back onto its glorious track. The result was Cutthroat Island, an attempt at bringing back the grand old swashbuckler movie that ultimately sank to the bottom of the ocean (sorry, we couldn’t help it.) Instead of a gripping adventure, we get a multitude of explosions that assault the senses. To be fair, the movie did have its champions, but it is hard not to think of Cutthroat Island as a stinker especially since its downfall helped make it into The Guinness Book of World Records as one of the worst bombs of all time.
8. Hudson Hawk
Like some other movies on this list, Husdon Hawk was a pet project of star Bruce Willis. Plus, like most pet projects, Hawk turned out to be a mess of inside jokes, bad performances and pop-culture references that somehow spiraled out of control. Willis probably wanted to make it extravagant and clever, but critics didn’t buy it, and quickly labeled it Tristar’s version of Ishtar. However, somewhere along the way, Hudson Hawk has picked up a growing list of followers who somehow deem the movie as ahead-of-its-time. But since it was considered a turkey that spent and lost way too much money, we just had to put it on this list.
7. Last Action Hero
No one can deny that Arnold Schwarzenegger was the ultimate movie hero during his golden run. His movies had a particular edge to them (at least the action movies), and his comedies often made use of his softer side to most positive effect. So one would think that melding his heroics along with his family-friendly side would be a stroke of genius. It wasn’t, as Last Action Hero proved. The idea of movie characters being able to move from the screen to real life was intriguing, however it had been done before, and with much more effective results. The movie is all idea with no real plot to back it up, and may have been too self-referential for its own good. That is why it ranks as one of the worst on this list.
After Dances with Wolves, Kevin Costner was poised to make any kind of movie he wanted. What he chose to do was make Mad Max on jet skis, otherwise known as Waterworld. With over $175 million spent, it is hard to believe that Waterworld was set to be a Roger Corman flick. But once the budget started ballooning, Corman bowed out, but perhaps it was for the best. Waterworld somehow managed to look both overproduced and underwhelming. But if the sight of Costner drinking distilled urine appeals to you, then go for it.
5. Wild Wild West
There was a time when people thought Will Smith could do no wrong. Even his marginal movies were met with enthusiasm. So when it was announced that he was going to be in the steam-punk Western Wild Wild West, alongside Oscar-winner Kevin Kline, many were hopeful. That is, until they saw the actual movie. The filmmakers probably knew what they had created, so in order to cover it up they placed a lot of technical wizardry that would make Jules Verne giddy with delight. Too bad there wasn’t enough attention paid to the plot or character development. On the plus side, we do get to see Kline and Smith in a drag a few times.
Some say that the 1987 bomb Ishtar really isn’t as bad as people make it out to be, but that is hard to tell when watching the actual film. It could have been fun to see two of the biggest stars of the time (Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman) against type while throwing them into a pool of silly espionage, yet that isn’t what happened. This movie goes down as one of the most frivolous in movie history, with Beatty requesting that his gym be flown out to the Sahara and Hoffman chartering a plane to bring his kid’s toys from New York. Add a director who was known for spending money, and you have a black-hole of a movie whose only claim to fame is just how much was spent on it.
3. Batman & Robin
Oh, where to start with the mess that is Batman & Robin. One would think that the suave George Clooney would make a perfect Batman, that Arnold Schwarzenegger would somehow bring his typical bad-ass self as Mr. Freeze, and that it all would be one big joyride. No such luck. Joel Schumacher somehow decided that his semi-success with Batman Forever meant that he needed to up the cheese factor, which meant having a script that went into pun overkill. No seriously, almost every line was some attempt at being clever (such as Mr. Freeze walking into a room and declaring “Cool party” along with “Allow me to break the ice.”) Saying it was all overkill is an understatement.
2. Battlefield Earth
If your idea of a good time at the movies is 2-hours of large aliens throwing back their long dreads and cackling, then John Travolta’s labor of love Battlefield Earth might be for you. For everyone else, the movie is a dim (both visually and thematically) exercise in a major star’s blindness to how bad an idea actually is. Based on L. Ron Hubbard’s classic book, Battlefield Earth was supposed to give people insight into the world of Scientology, but it ended up just being a self-serving mess that eventually went on to win a ton of Razzies, including Worst Movie of the Decade.
1. Howard the Duck
The cult 1980s classic Howard the Duck has its fans, since they can’t seem to get enough of its goofy energy, but it also has its fair share of people who label it as one of the worst movies ever made. The reason why it takes the top of the list is the fact that the screenwriters missed a real golden opportunity here. Instead of the irreverent comic book of the same name, we got something that was slightly amusing but overall just a waste of the talent involved. Which is a shame, because the movie version of Howard was quite an accomplishment to look at, but the adorable duck gets lost in a sea of nonsense and special effects. Since we got a glimpse of Howard at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy, could there possibly be some redemption coming our way?