There are lots of bad sci-fi films out there, including those you know will be bad because they’re a good sci-fi book turned into an action vehicle for Will Smith (or similar), or they’re made on a budget of $10, but then there are the films you have higher hopes for and get… disappointment.
I had high hopes for Aeon flux – it was visually stunning, had a great cast, was full of cool ideas – but it left me going “meh”. Partly because the story had clearly been edited to hell and partly because they failed to get across some of the concepts they were trying to communicate.
But Aeon flux is a running mate for Pacific Rim in the disappointment stakes. I wasn’t expecting Shakespeare from Pacific Rim, but I was expecting a coherent monster vs mech smack-down and it couldn’t even deliver that. Too many story threads and the horrible two dimensional characterisation made woeful dialogue, off the shelf clichés and logic problems unforgivable.
The remake of Total Recall was a disaster when, given modern special effects, it could have surpassed the original, but they (in my opinion) miscast the lead and, in rebooting the plot, managed to introduce a tonne of god-awful logic holes. Mind you I have a special distaste for remakes of good movies (Invasion of the Body Snatchers with a happy ending? The Day the Earth Stood Still as a disaster movie with a sentimental environmental message? What were they thinking.)
And then there are the sequels. The second Matrix movie abandoned the franchise’s cannon just after establishing it. Phantom Menace was just racist (and Aniken created C3PO? …what?).
Now, I may be one of the few people who feel this way about Fury Road, but I think it’s pretty terrible. Yes it’s a visually stunning action, action, action experience, but the narrative is incoherent. And it has the wrong protagonist, because it’s not actually Max’s story at all!
In terms of movies so disappointing they scar you for life, I won’t say anything about Battlefield Earth or After Earth. If you haven’t seen them; just don’t. If you have; want to start a support group?
One of the funny things about writing this post, though, was realising just how many sci-fi films I’ve seen that have been thoroughly so-so or a bit meh and yet I wouldn’t list them here, simply because they were what I expected. You get very good at ‘reading’ film trailers after a while and then disappointments are fewer.