Have you ever seen a bad movie? We’re not talking about a movie that makes you say “Gee, that was an unpleasant viewing experience,” we’re talking about the kind that makes you say “Dear God, I hope they don’t make another one of those.”
Sometimes, a film comes along that’s so exceptionally bad, it tarnishes the reputation of whatever it’s associated with. Just ask M. Night Shyamalan, whose reputation for creating cinematic stinkers arguably overshadows his box office hits, like Signs, The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable. (By the way Mr. Shyamalan, we still haven’t forgiven you for ruining one of our favorite Nickelodeon franchises.)
As you might expect, several of the films on this list are superhero movies, a genre that was once well known for sacrificing quality for quantity, until the creation of the Marvel and DC Cinematic Universes forced Hollywood to take superheroes more seriously.
The films on this list aren’t just bad movies; they were so poorly received that most of them did lasting damage to their respective franchises, leading to sequel cancellations, long hiatuses and, in some cases, total series reboots. Several of the entries on this list were so bad, it’s likely that they will not be attempted in cinematic form again for a long time to come, if ever again.
Because we here at TheRichest really like you (and don’t take that too seriously), we’ve done the dirty work of picking through these so that you don’t have to. The end result is roughly 30 hours of your life you’d never get back.
15. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
What do you see when you think about Transformers? Apart from the potential “There’s way too many of these movies” thought, it’s likely that you picture giant alien robots having visually stunning death matches wrought with explosions and gun fire and lasers and swords and fire and more explosions and exploding things that explode in a very explosive fashion.
Following up on the success of the first Transformers film, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen followed up with many of the exact same things that the first movie had. While that science is sound, it doesn’t always translate into box office success. Revenge of the Fallen was blasted for having a sub-par story, melodramatic acting, a cliche-ridden romantic subplot, a reliance on anti-climactic action sequences and for seriously downgrading Optimus Prime’s screen time.
While the film’s visuals, soundtrack and voice acting were impressive and well received, it seemed as though the movie sacrificed in virtually every other category to get there. Revenge of the Fallen was jeopardized by potential strikes in the Director’s Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild, though Michael Bay was able to finish production on schedule.
Revenge of the Fallen holds the dubious distinction of being the highest grossing film to win a Golden Raspberry for Worst Picture and, despite the franchise’s commercial success, the various sequels haven’t fared much better critically.
14. Book of Shadows: Blair Witch II
What do you do to follow up on one of the most successful independent films of all time? You make a sequel.
After the critical and commercial success of The Blair Witch Project, a sequel titled Book of Shadows: Blair Witch II was immediately green-lit.
The film has been criticized for being flat and atmospheric and was nominated for 5 Golden Raspberry awards, and won the Razzie for Worst Remake or Sequel. Unlike the original Blair Witch Project, which was a found-footage movie filmed in first-person documentary style, Book of Shadows almost entirely deviated from that concept, filmed and produced more like a conventional horror movie.
This change in style was one of the more criticized aspects of the film, as The Blair Witch Project’s filming style was done in direct defiance of traditional Hollywood horror movies. Director Joe Berlinger has said that the original cut of Book of Shadows had a much larger focus on the characters themselves and the fracturing of their psyches but Artisan Entertainment chose to recut the movie and re-shot several scenes to make them more closely resemble traditional horror movie material, in an effort to make the movie more commercial.
Despite being a commercial success, Book of Shadows was so poorly received that it would be 16 years before another film in the franchise was made. Blair Witch, released in 2016, is the third and final film in the series and completely ignores the events of Book of Shadows, the way we all wish we could.
13. Speed 2: Cruise Control
Right off the bat, this movie’s title just makes people cringe. Speed 2: Cruise Control is infamous for failing in virtually every way that a sequel can fail.
Keanu Reeves, the star of the first Speed film, was pegged to reprise his character in the sequel but ultimately chose not to commit to the project and was replaced by Jason Patric. Speed 2 is so riddled with issues that it would be easier and less time consuming to talk about what didn’t go wrong. But that’s not why you’re here.
Critical reception of Speed 2 was extremely negative. Heavy criticism is leveled at the story, the characters and the acting in general, as well as the movie’s setting on a slow-moving cruise ship, a tedious and far less thrilling locale than the original film, which took place on a fast moving bus. While the title was intended to be a play on words, it really just ends up being hilariously ironic.
Speed 2 also holds the record for the largest and most expensive stunt ever filmed. The movie’s final scene, depicting the ship crashing into the island of Saint Martin, cost nearly a quarter of the film’s $110 million budget, with the film itself only grossing $164 worldwide. Speed 2: Cruise Control was nominated for eight Golden Raspberry awards and won for Worst Remake or Sequel.
12. Home Alone 3
This movie is a perfect example of not knowing when to stop making sequels. The first two Home Alone movies are classics, though Home Alone 2: Lost in New York is sometimes criticized for being too similar to the first.
The slapstick humor and cringe-inducing cartoonish violence of the first two films is memorable and entertaining and both films are bolstered by the on-screen chemistry of Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern.
The thing about the Home Alone franchise is that the humor is extremely one dimensional. There are only so many different ways to show bumbling criminals getting beaten up by a clever child’s homemade traps before the novelty completely wears off. Home Alone 3 demonstrates that perfectly. For starters, none of the original cast was present, nor were the director Chris Columbus or composer John Williams.
Spawning two made-for-TV sequels, Home Alone 3 is more or less just a carbon copy of the first two films, with different characters all playing the same roles. Critical reception for Home Alone 3 was overwhelmingly negative and it was nominated for the Golden Raspberry for Worst Sequel Or Remake the same year as Speed 2, which would ultimately take that dubious honor home.
11. Jaws: The Revenge
The fourth and final installment in the Jaws horror-thriller franchise, Jaws: The Revenge, like Home Alone 3, suffers from unnecessary sequel syndrome. As the Saw franchise demonstrates, a movie franchise can have multiple installments and not sacrifice quality or water down the content, provided the story is rich and each movie serves a purpose. Despite the legacy left behind by the original film, the Jaws franchise was unable to catch lightning in a bottle with the sequels, as the second movie was met with mixed reviews and the third and fourth were critically panned.
Jaws: The Revenge is particularly remembered for its wide array of implausible scenes, with one famous example being the shark swimming from a Massachusetts island to the Bahamas, a distance of approximately 1,193 miles, in less than three days.
Additionally, the main plot of the movie is completely illogical, as it centers around a shark seeking, and understanding, the concept of revenge. The special effects were also criticized, particularly several frames of the shark being speared by the boat and in several shots, the mechanisms propelling the shark through the water are plainly visible to the audience. Jaws: The Revenge would go on to be nominated for seven Golden Raspberry awards.
10. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles in Time
Like many of the other entries on this list, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise tried for one too many in the early ’90s. Campy and cheesy, but fun and loyal to its source material, the original live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie is remembered fondly for its fun fight scenes and the witty and quotable dialogue from the Heroes in a Half-Shell.
Because of overly sensitive parents, both sequels departed greatly from the things that made the original movie successful and suffered critically as a result. The second film, Secret of the Ooze, almost completely eliminated depictions of the Turtles using their weapons, an answer to complaints about the violence prominent in the first movie, (if those parents only knew what would be allowed in films ten years later) and also toned down the dialogue.
Turtles in Time made both the turtles and their dialogue even more overtly-PG and added a convoluted and cliché time travel plot that failed to give the turtles their shine back. Despite making back double the production cost, returns on this film were only 1/5th of the original. This would be the last live-action Ninja Turtles movie for 21 years.
9. Son of the Mask
What happens when you wait 11 years to make a sequel to a successful comedy and don’t bring back the actor that made that movie a hit? You get Son of the Mask. Easily one of the worst comedy sequels ever made, Son of the Mask checks off virtually every requirement for a bad film.
Lacking star Jim Carrey, and shifting from the source material’s adult tone to something more family friendly, Son of the Mask more or less accents everything bad about the concept while eliminating every single thing that made the original film enjoyable. Filled with awful dialogue, terrible special effects, and a plot that renowned critic Roger Ebert described as “like Wile E. Coyote, it keeps running into the wall.”
Ebert’s partner-in-critique, Richard Roeper, stated that in the five years he’d been co-hosting their review show, Son of the Mask was the closest he’d ever come to walking out on a film halfway through.
Son of the Mask would go on to be the most nominated film at the 2005 Golden Raspberry Awards with eight nominations, winning for Worst Remake or Sequel, and would only end up making back $57.6 million of its $84 million budget, making it a total and absolute box office bomb.
8. The Matrix Reloaded/Revolutions
Yes, we’re cheating a little bit, as this entry is actually two movies. When discussing the effect of sequel titles on movie franchises, one of the first things you’ll usually hear shouted out is The Matrix franchise.
Despite both Matrix: Reloaded and Matrix: Revolutions being commercially successful, you may never find a more polarizing set of sequel titles in cinema. The Matrix Trilogy as a whole is regarded as intensely cerebral and Reloaded and Revolutions both chose to deviate from some of the themes and elements that made the original film successful.
Praised for intense action sequences and intelligent writing, both sequels are also criticized for being convoluted and failing to live up to the standard set by the first movie. Other criticisms include the introduction of too many characters, unclear character motivations, and a lack of consistency as it pertains to the rules of the Matrix universe.
7. The Last Airbender
Dear lord, where do we start? As we stated in the opening paragraph of this list, M. Night Shyamalan is the definition of a hit or miss director. Depending on the day, the time and the alignment of the planets, M. Night can give you a memorable blockbuster or a steaming load of vile crap. There truly is no middle ground.
You can understand moviegoers’ frustration that the same man that created great films like Unbreakable and The Sixth Sense could turn right around and produce epic failures like The Happening and The Last Airbender.
Everything about The Last Airbender rubbed people the wrong way. Perhaps it was the way Shyamalan white-washed the entire cast of a film that featured predominantly Asian characters. Or maybe it was the way he absolutely butchered the plot of the beloved cartoon series that the movie was based on. It might have been the frequent mispronunciation of several key characters’ names, an inexcusable sin given that Shyamalan claimed to have sat and watched the entire series with his children while preparing to make the film.
All in all, The Last Airbender was an insultingly bad adaptation of a beloved Nickelodeon franchise. The film swept the 2010 Golden Raspberry Awards with five wins, including Worst Picture, and is considered one of the worst films ever made.
6. Dragonball: Evolution
If there is one beloved franchise that had a worse live-action big screen adaptation than Avatar: The Last Airbender, it’s Dragonball. Loosely, and we mean very, very loosely, based on the popular manga, Dragonball: Evolution was a critical and commercial failure and was even rebuked by Dragonball series creator Akira Toriyama, who initially suggested that fans treat the film as an alternate universe adaptation of his work.
After viewing the film, Toriyama revealed in an interview that he felt Hollywood producers had ignored all of his feedback and suggestions and that the final cut was not only not on par with Dragonball as a series but a movie he couldn’t even refer to as Dragonball.
Featuring terrible casting, half-hearted acting, an incoherent mess of a story, sub-par special effects, bad costumes and hilariously awkward makeup, Dragonball: Evolution is almost universally considered the lowest point in the entire Dragonball universe. The upside? The movie is so mind-numbingly stupid that it’s good for a laugh.
5. Spider-Man 3
If ever Marvel had a troubled franchise, it would have to be Spider-Man. Nearing its second reboot in only 15 years of cinematic history, the Spider-Man cinematic franchise, along with X-Men, can be credited with making people take superhero movies seriously.
Toby Maguire was the first cinematic Spidey, and the first Spider-Man film in 2002 was an excellent movie. Spider-Man 2 successfully followed up on its predecessor’s critical acclaim, so it was only natural to move on to Spider-Man 3. Unfortunately, that’s where the magic stopped happening.
With an overabundance of characters and storylines, Spider-Man 3 was an example of a film trying to do too many things at once. The end result was a movie that did a bunch of things average instead of doing several things exceptionally.
Among the most disappointing things in the film was the awkward depiction of “Emo Peter”, and the severely disappointing portrayal of Eddie Brock as Venom. Spider-Man 3 would end up being the end of the Toby Maguire era, with Spider-Man 4 being canned in favor of a series reboot in 2012 with The Amazing Spider-Man, which would only last two films before being rebooted again with this year’s upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming.
4. X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Though the X-Men cinematic franchise is currently enjoying a resurgence, it found itself in need of a direction change following X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which elaborated on Wolverine’s backstory, almost to a redundant degree.
Many critics found that the deeper exploration of the character and his abilities seemed to have the opposite effect, with Wolverine coming across indestructible and less compelling and the elaborated discussion of his powers taking away from the mystique (see what we did there?) surrounding the character.
While Origins had well done fight scenes and a great on-screen dynamic between stars Hugh Jackman and Liev Schreiber, it also heavily lacked in imagination, creativity and coherence. It is also remembered, almost infamously, for the worst portrayal of Deadpool that has ever existed. Though it was a commercial success, the movie’s poor reception led to the immediate cancellation of X-Men Origins: Magneto in favor of X-Men: First Class, the movie that would breathe new life into the franchise.
3. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
Sometimes, a movie suffers because the people making it choose to sacrifice quality and story for the sake of inserting an ill-timed political message. Enter Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. We’ve ranted about this film before in a fun list that you can read here, but it’s so damn bad, we just have to take another bite out of it.
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace is not only the worst Superman film, it’s considered among the worst films ever created, period. Yes, even worse than Superman Returns.
The Quest for Peace is riddled with plot holes, phoned in acting, inconsistent storytelling and low brow special effects. Much of the quality of the film was sacrificed in providing the movie’s anti-communist message, as the villain of the movie is a guy named Nuclear Man and the plot of the movie involves Superman gathering up all the nuclear weapons in the world and throwing them into the sun.
2. Batman & Robin
Rubber batnipples. We could end the description for this entry with just those two words.
Featuring George Clooney as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze, this movie, like Superman IV, is not only considered a terrible superhero movie, but one of the worst movies ever made, period.
For an idea of this film’s infamous legacy, Clooney is quick to name himself any time he is asked who the worst Batman of all time is. Chris O’Donnell, who portrayed Robin, has claimed that he still has his costume and that it is locked in a crate in his basement, where it will never again see the light of day.
The film was a modest box office success, grossing $238.2 million worldwide but was so poorly received critically that plans for Batman: Unchained were scrapped and the franchise would go dark for 8 years before being revived by Bruce Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.
Without a doubt, no superhero franchise has suffered as badly in so short a time as Marvel’s Fantastic Four. It seems like every time this super-team is portrayed on a big screen, bad things happen. We’re talking worse than The Hulk. Worse than Daredevil.
Fantastic Four premiered in 2005 and was followed by Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Both movies were commercially successful but were also met with all the enthusiasm of Marilyn Manson at a Baptist revival. The third time had to be the charm right? It had been a decade since the first film. Surely they’d get it right this time.
2015’s FANT4STIC was both a critical and a commercial failure, lauded for bad acting, terrible writing, awful visual effects, a crappy plot, and bland characters that nobody cared about or connected with. The film has been almost universally panned by critics, with Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter calling it a “100 minute trailer for a movie that never happens” and Peter Travers of Rolling Stone calling it “the cinematic equivalent of malware,” and “worse than worthless.” The worst part? Rumor has it that Marvel has re-acquired the rights to Fantastic Four and is going to try to resurrect it in 2020.