Like any other art form, film is bound to elicit a variety of reactions from those who experience it. As such, what defines a quality film versus a cinematic failure is entirely objective, and yet, even with that built-in divisiveness, some films still manage to somehow earn a reputation for being among the worst ever to hit the silver screen.
Today, we take a closer look at some of the most universally reviled films to worm their way through the development and production process in the past few years. For the record, we’re focusing on movies that have earned an infamous reputation for just how bad they are, rather than turning our attention to terrible releases that have justly remained trapped in obscurity. The list is ordered from least hated to most, based on their Rotten Tomatoes score:
10. Battleship (2012)
Just because the 1985 comedy Clue brilliantly adapted the board game to the big screen doesn’t mean that just any plotless pastime can be given the cinematic treatment. Poor Taylor Kitsch (who suffered from the release of John Carter the very same year) tries to steer this ship (pun intended) with the help of Liam Neeson (!) and Rihanna (?). However, the superfluous, listless film — which earned just a 34% on Rotten Tomatoes — does nothing to justify its own existence. Consider it sunk already.
9. Jupiter Ascending (2015)
8. Gods of Egypt (2016)
Judging by the paltry domestic gross of this $140 million production, chances are that most of you haven’t seen this, and there’s good reason why. While the film has lackluster effects and stale performances, the Alex Proyas-directed film may be poised to develop into an ironic cult hit down the line, thanks to the sheer insanity of the events depicted therein. Just don’t expect to see many actual Egyptians in the film. It earned a 16% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
7. Mortdecai (2015)
Fact: Johnny Depp hasn’t led a bonafide blockbuster hit film since the 2011 release of the critically reviled Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. This one — which sees the once-acclaimed actor embarrass himself as a morally bereft art dealer obsessed with his own mustache — continued the series of flops, earning a 12% on Rotten Tomatoes and bringing down talented stars like Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, and Paul Bettany along the way. For shame.
6. After Earth (2013)
M. Night Shyamalan had already earned a complicated relationship with moviegoers, following the trilogy of messy films he released prior to this sci-fi adventure (namely, Lady in the Water, The Happening, and The Last Airbender). However, this movie also managed to sully the audience goodwill of Will Smith, who stars alongside his son, Jaden, and unfortunately serves as producer on this dull, lifeless vehicle that failed to dodge accusations of Hollywood nepotism. It has an 11% on Rotten Tomatoes.
5. Fantastic Four (2015)
This comic book adaptation hoped to kick off a long-running franchise for Marvel’s First Family. Instead, audiences got a disjointed mess that was the clear victim of creative clashes between the studio and director Josh Trank, who cautioned that the released version of the film wasn’t what he intended. Whether or not that’s the truth, the movie ended up being a major disappointment, earning a pitiful 9% on Rotten Tomatoes.
4. The Devil Inside (2012)
Despite earning just over $100 million at the worldwide box office, this documentary-style horror film was savaged by critics and audiences alike. Perhaps the most contentious aspect was the fact that the film — which chronicles a series of loosely connected exorcisms — doesn’t even feature an actual ending, instead relying on a title card directing viewers to a website for more information. Seriously? Who thought this was a good idea?
The movie has a 6% on Rotten Tomatoes.
3. Movie 43 (2013)
Few films have boasted the number of stars as this anthology comedy, which operates under the assumption that crass and over-the-top is funny. Thankfully, the film tanked at the box office and subsequently joined the disreputable ranks of films frequently labeled among the worst ever made. It earned a 4% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
2. Left Behind (2014)
The idea of developing a Hollywood version of the apocalyptic faith-based novel by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins might have seemed like a license to print money for executives. Instead, star Nicolas Cage sleepwalks through an equally drowsy thriller that couldn’t even earn back its modest $16 million budget at the domestic box office. Some films — like ones that earn a 2% on Rotten Tomatoes — are best forgotten, and this one fits the bill nicely.
1. Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas (2014)
Kirk Cameron may have risen to fame by playing the mischievous teen, Mike Seaver, on the 1980s sitcom, Growing Pains, but that role marked his career high point, while this film could easily be considered the nadir. This Golden Raspberry-winning film for Worst Picture features a combination of narrative sequences and educational footage. Cameron’s call for fans to combat the overwhelming critical hatred backfired when moviegoers condemned it further. Ouch. The movie ended up earning a literal 0% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Additional reporting by Michelle Regalado.
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