Commercial success and critical approval don’t always go together. There have been hundreds of movies that are beloved by their small fan bases but which failed to find large audiences. Similarly, there have also been blockbusters that raked in big returns but drew negative, even hostile, reviews.
Sometimes bad movies are so bad they’re good. Usually, they’re just bad. IMDb’s lowest-rated blockbusters include lackluster superhero movies, ill-fated sequels, and dull adaptations of the duller source material. Viewers looking for a film to cringe at need look no further.
‘Ghost Rider’ — IMDb: 5.2/10
Gross: $228 m
Nicolas Cage stars in this Marvelmovie about Johnny Blaze, a man who sells his soul to the Devil and is transformed into a flaming skull-faced vigilante. The comic dates back to the 1960s and remains beloved, but the film directed by Mark Steven Johnson doesn’t live up to the source material.
The film lacks the comic’s anarchic spirit and instead plays it safe. Cage tries to vitalize a thin script, but it’s not enough to salvage the project. Ghost Rider is frequently unintentionally funny due to hammy dialogue and groan-inducing puns. Nevertheless, it was a big hit at the multiplex, and a sequel was released in 2017, with Cage reprising his role.
‘Twilight Saga: Eclipse’ — IMDb: 5.0/10
Gross: $698 m
The Twilight Saga is one franchise that many viewers love to hate, so it’s no surprise it would make money and earn ire. Despite dominating the box office, each film drew mixed to negative reviews. This is due to the lack of chemistry between Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. Both would give great performances in much better projects, but in Twilight, they are practically devoid of charisma.
Stewart and Pattinson are overshadowed (eclipsed?) by supporting characters like Anna Kendrick and Bryce Dallas Howard, who put in charming appearances. Eclipse has its moments and strives for more maturity than the first two movies but ultimately delivers an undercooked interpretation of Stephenie Meyer‘s novel.
‘Wild Wild West’ — IMDb: 4.9/10
Gross: $222 m
1999’s Wild Wild West is the weakest effort from director Barry Sonnenfeld, who also helmed 1991’s The Addams Family and the Men in Black series. It’s a steampunk western starring Will Smith and Kevin Kline as a pair of secret agents protecting President Ulysses S. Grant from potential threats.
It’s a comedy, but the jokes are few and far between. Not even the special effects supplied by Industrial Light & Magic can make up for the convoluted plot. With a budget estimated at between $170 and $240 million, Wild Wild West was a commercial flop despite grossing more than $200 million. It went on to sweep that year’s Razzie Awards.
‘Twilight Saga: New Moon’ — IMDb: 4.7/10
Gross: $711 m
Widely regarded as the dullest in the Twilight series, New Moon is slow-paced and underdeveloped. It features decent CGI for the werewolf transformations and some beautiful cinematography, but the script and performances are again lacking.
Much of the plot is senseless. Why is Edward repeating 12th grade when he’s 104 years old? The dialogue also tends to be directionless and overwrought. (“Hello, biceps! You know, anabolic steroids are really bad for you.”) New Moon offers enough to satisfy fans of the books but doesn’t stand on its own as a movie.
‘Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem’ — IMDb: 4.6/10
Gross: $130 m
The xenomorph and the Predator are among the most iconic movie monsters, so it’s disappointing that the films where they share the screen haven’t lived up to the originals. The first Alien vs. Predator was at least entertaining (if far-fetched), featuring an interesting Arctic setting and some epic visuals. The follow-up Requiem squanders its great monster design with a weak script and underdeveloped characters.
Not to mention, the film is so dark that often it’s hard to make out what the creatures are even doing. Fortunately, just this month, the latest Predator film, Prey, was released. It takes place three hundred years in the past and has been much more warmly received than any film in the series since the first starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
‘Sex and the City 2’ — IMDb: 4.5/10
Gross: $290 m
It’s 2022, and the misadventures of Carrie Bradshaw are still on our screen thanks to the new spin-off series And Just Like That… This proves that Sex and the City still has the power to draw viewers, but these spin-offs and sequels mostly don’t live up to the original show. Indeed, the franchise’s nadir was undoubtedly the 2010 film about Bradshaw and co.’s escapades in Abu Dhabi.
The film was slammed for its stilted performances, shoddy script, and portrayal of the Middle East. Leads Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, and Kristin Davis shared that year’s Worst Actress Razzie. Worst of all, Sex and the City 2 drags out 90 minutes of plot across its nearly two-and-a-half-hour runtime.
‘The Last Airbender’ — IMDb: 4.0/10
Gross: $319 m
When it comes to falling short of great source material, no film is more egregious than M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender. It’s the live-action adaptation of the Nickelodeon animated seriesAvatar: The Last Airbender, which is frequently ranked among the greatest animated shows ever made.
The film awkwardly crams several seasons’ worth of story arcs into its 103-minute runtime. It also received criticism for its more tepid depiction of bending. One of the movie’s stars, Dev Patel, later expressed dissatisfaction with his performance.
‘Speed 2: Cruise Control’ — IMDb: 3.9/10
Gross: $164 m
Speed was one of the most exciting action thrillers of the ’90s, a break-neck adventure with memorable performances from Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, and villain Dennis Hopper. Unfortunately, Speed 2: Cruise Control doesn’t come close to its predecessor.
For one, it relocates the setting to a slow-moving luxury cruise liner, which lacks the tension of the runaway bus. Its lead characters aren’t as instantly likable as they were in Speed. In the years since several critics have called Speed 2 one of the worst sequels of all time. Bullock went so far as to say she regretted doing the movie.
‘Batman & Robin’ — IMDb: 3.7/10
Gross: $238 m
Director Joel Schumacher made some fascinating films over his multi-decade career, including coming-of-age drama St. Elmo’s Fire and the vampire tale The Lost Boys. On paper, he seemed like a good fit to direct a Batman film, but 1995’s Batman Forever was a mixed bag, and the follow-up, 1997’s Batman & Robin, is a creative misfire on almost all fronts.
It stars George Clooney as the caped crusader, this time on a mission to stop evil scientist Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger). Chris O’Donnell plays Robin, and Uma Thurman has a supporting role as Poison Ivy. Schumacher tries to channel Adam West‘s campy 1960s Batman, but the jokes fail to land, and the one-liners are cheesy, not charming. Both Schumacher and George Clooney have subsequently apologized for their work on the movie.
‘Catwoman’ — IMDb: 3.4/10
Gross: $82 m
2004’s Catwomanis considered one of the worst superhero movies ever made. Halle Berry leads as a woman who is murdered, resurrected by Egyptian cats, and given feline superpowers (seriously) so that she can take on a conspiracy in the cosmetics industry. The film wastes Berry’s talents on a script that provides her with little to no backstory, characterization, or complexity. She’s not even the Selena Kyle Catwoman of the comics and previous films, but a new character called Patience Philips.
Catwoman was directed by Pitof, a French visual effects supervisor turned director. Here, Pitof seems more interested in the visuals than the story or the performances. This would be fine, but Catwoman does not muster enough style to compensate for its lack of substance. The film won four Razzies in 2005 and has since earned its place as one of film’s all-time greatest critical and commercial flops. Sadly, the future of the Catwoman series looks similarly bleak. The most recent film was shelved indefinitely by Warner Bros.