Fri
Aug 5 2011 9:26am

Haters Gonna Hate: 5 Unfairly Derided Action Sci-Fi Flicks

Regardless of your opinion of Cowboys & Aliens, Green Lantern, Fast Five and a host of other explosion-filled films, they all can’t be brilliant. Sure, there are some classics that satisfy the action-movie thrills, but are also highly original. The first two Terminator movies are like this, and recently, the sci-fi thriller Hanna. But what about those seemingly universally disliked action/sci-fi films? Are any of them worth a second look? If the knee-jerk defense of action-oriented sci-fi movies is “to have fun,” then are some fun movies more fun than others? Here are five rotten tomatoes and cinematic whipping boys that I think deserve another chance.

The Island

Michael Bay certainly deserves most of the criticism he receives for the Transformers series, but this 2005 Bay film usually gets overlooked and I’m not sure why. Seemingly a rip-off of Logan’s Run and The Running Man, the movie tells the story of a couple of runaway clones who are searching for their counterparts. In this world, the rich and powerful buy contracts that enable them to have a supply of replacement organs in the case of a serious accident. What these people don’t know is that entire clones are grown instead! Between an awesome chase sequence on a hover-bike and some sweet McGregor and McGregor action, this movie is actually really fun. A lot of people will claim that it seems like Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson are just reading their lines, but since they’re playing clones who have never known the outside world, maybe that’s the right approach.

The Chronicles of Riddick

I think most fans would agree Pitch Black is a pretty solid sci-fi thriller, but most of us don’t really know what to make of Riddick. Does this character even belong in a movie like this? In the first film, it was all sneaking around in the dark dealing with scary stuff, and then the next movie was this big Dune meets Lord of the Rings visual epic. Why should anyone even bother with this movie? One reason: Vin Diesel is actually the perfect kind of guy you want in a science fiction film, primarily because he seems out of place. Unlike Arnold or Bruce Willis, you’re supposed to feel uncomfortable about Vin Diesel being in your science fiction movie. And that’s because Vin Diesel has a dangerous kind of trashiness. After seeing The Chronicles of Riddick, I thought Vin would make a great Gully Foyle in a hypothetical film adaption of The Stars My Destination. Well, I suppose that would be if they couldn’t get Javier Bardem. Oh, did I mention Dame Judi Dench is in this movie?

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Though Lucas and Spielberg talk a mean game about how Star Wars and Indiana Jones pay homage to Flash Gordon-style serials of a bygone era, Kerry Conran actually did it for real. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow shouldn’t be viewed as a contemporary action film, but instead as a kind of alternate universe where these sorts of movies never stopped getting made. There’s a Harlan Ellison story called “Jeffty is Five” in which a character doesn’t age and is able to listen to old radio broadcasts of Captain Midnight regardless of the fact that the show isn’t being produced anymore. And Jeffty’s episodes of Captain Midnight are NEW. This is what Sky Captain is. It’s a new/old movie that makes no attempt to disguise its antiquated trappings. We may as well be tuning in and listening to it on the radio. There’s no origin story of Sky Captain, he’s simply “on his way” to fight the robots at the start of the film. Honestly, I don’t know what’s not to love about this movie. Planes that transform into submarines! An island full of dinosaurs! That awesome ray gun! If you like big chase sequences and the gee-wiz factor of old school science fiction movies, this flick is for you.

Equilibrium

A lot of action movies are derivative of other action movies and the sci-fi variety are usually being derivative of basic, old school SF concepts. Equilibrium borrowed (stole) thematic elements from Brave New World and 1984. In fact, it’s probably a better 1984 adaption than the movie version of 1984. The action movie stuff it stole was way more contemporary though, as many have correctly pointed out that its something of a faux-Matrix. And yet both the over-the-top action sequences and the hammy dystopian messages work fairly well together. The movie also seems pretty low budget which, unlike the Matrix, means its not trying to impress you. With Christian Bale, Emily Watson, Sean Bean, and yes, Taye Diggs, you’ve got an action movie cast at least as good as the far inferior Terminator: Salvation.

Superman Returns

This is the big one. Seemingly everyone thinks this movie was absolutely terrible, including the studio, as they are totally uninterested in bringing anybody back for the new impending reboot project, Man of Steel. Now, prior this film, the Bryan Singer backlash wasn’t in full effect, so it’s not like the movie was disliked just because people didn’t like him. So what was missing? When you add up the specifics, it doesn’t seem like much. Brandon Routh is actually not bad as Supe at all (and he really demonstrated his versatility in Scott Pilgrim last year!) Kevin Spacey is great as Lex Luthor and, though she’s not perfect, Kate Bosworth doesn’t deliver a bad Lois. Sure, it’s not as iconic as the Reeve films, but it’s certainly not unwatchable. In fact, I would say this movie is about a 100 times better than Green Lantern and just slightly worse than Thor. It probably has the best conflict of any of the Superman movies insofar as the threat to Earth is directly tied into Krypton and as such is a true challenge for Supe. Like it or hate it, the subplot with Superman’s illegitimate child with Lois was, at the very least, risky. And in terms of action, the scene in which Superman rescues the airplane is totally awesome. I think the real reason so many people didn’t like this movie is because the near perfection of those first two Reeve movies are so powerful that almost anything else seems ridiculous in comparison. But if you give this movie half a chance, you’ll find yourself smiling at least once or twice.

How about you? Any supposed stinkers out there that you happen to love? Let us know!


Ryan Britt is a staff writer for Tor.com. Don’t even get him started on defending the Highlander movies.

90 comments
Laura Stiers
1. onfairystories
O.O Since I was shown it by a group of friends who really liked it, I totally missed out on the fact that Equilibrium has a bad rap. I mean, c'mon. It's a totally solid dystopian story, with some awesome fighting, some cool worldbuilding, and a great emotional arc (that scene with his kids! Oy.)

And I enjoyed the heck out of Superman Returns. Thanks for giving me the courage to come out and say it. :)
C. A. Bridges
2. C. A. Bridges
Sorry, "Superman Returns" doesn't work for me. Not because of the portrayals -- I liked the actors and thought they did an excellent job with what they had -- and the plane scene was indeed cool, but because the story was insulting in so many ways. I can believe a man can fly, but to enjoy this movie I also have to believe:
-- Days after telling the president "Good afternoon, Mr. President. Sorry I've been away so long. I won't let you down again," in Supes 2, Superman takes off without warning for 5 years.
-- Lois jumps into the sack within a week or two of him leaving, and then has problems with ladyparts math. And doesn't seem to have issues with or questions about her son who can apparently hurl pianos across the room and kill people.
-- Lex can raise an island in the Atlantic, causing tidal surges, and no military takes notice whatsoever.
-- It's OK for Superman to stalk women.


I got a thrill when I heard the theme song, and the plane scene was awesome. The rest of it alternately creeped me out or pissed me off.
James Whitehead
3. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
Nice list. I haven't seen all of them; I will definitely have to find the missing ones on NetFlix. ;-)

My son & I watched Sky Captain one night on cable when he couldn't sleep. We both loved it. It was so old school it was a blast. It reminded me of going to see Flash Gordon with my brother & my dad. When we left the theatre my dad, who was never a big scifi fan, said that Flash Gordon was just like the comics he read.

I felt the same connection with my son when we watched Sky Captain and even though we own it, we watch it on TV whenever we can.

I actually liked Superman Returns and didn't really have a problem with the 'superbaby' angle. I thought Spacey was fabulous a Luthor but felt the overall pacing was too slow. The problem may have been is that our image of Superman is of a fully matured superhero who has gotten past his 'groing pains.' if you will. This Superman had more doubts & insecurities than we, as a fanbase, were used to.

Kato

Edited 'cause my post disappeared.
Darren James
4. b8amack
I enjoyed Thor. I did. It was a fine popcorn flick. But Superman Returns was a great Superman film; like Hell it's not iconic. The truth is, although people complain about the no-brained-ness of superhero flicks, whenever one is made which does feature introspection, it's "boring." Take Ang Lee's excellent Hulk. It gets derided, and for what, not being 90 minutes (not one minute more) of "Hulk Smash!"?
Danny Bowes
5. DannyBowes
Totally co-sign The Island. It's a shame it flopped, because Michael Bay might have said, "Hey, these movies with stories and characters....people like them...." Instead, he started making Transformers movies. On the other hand, this meant Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen got made, and our culture is a much funnier place with that movie in it.
C. A. Bridges
6. beerofthedark
Aeon Flux - I only caught this recently having enjoyed the animated series when I was a kid. It had been slated by just about everybody so i had rock-bottom expectations which probably helps my view on it. While undoubtedly flawed and with unintentionally hilarious dialogue every couple of scenes it is actually a quite gorgeous hyper-stylised and beautifully shot move with an interesting sci-fi premise whose consequences are at least partially explored. better than a good two-thirds of recent SF/Fantasy/Superhero movies, if not more.
Darren James
7. b8amack
@2 Stalker? Superman can see through walls. It's like... what's that thing you do with your eyes, when you open them? I think it's called "seeing". He sits in the atmosphere listening to radio distress calls, and that's okay, but he's supposed to turn that off for people he actually cares about? You can't expect a guy like that to act like normal people.
C. A. Bridges
8. Shedrick
Mystery Men is my not-so-guilty pleasure. I thought it was a pretty-near perfect take off on super heroes and the performances were just sheer fun.
Rich Bennett
9. Neuralnet
Great list... I always thought The Island got an unfairly bad rap too. I havent seen Equilibrium but am looking forward to tracking it down now.
Michael Poteet
10. MikePoteet
I haven't seen most of the films on your list, but I agree that Sky Captain gets a bad rap.

I will take issue, however, with your pleading for Superman Returns as a sci-fi action film that doesn't get enough love. Why? Because it's not a "sci-fi action film!" Virtually the only action is the plane-catching sequence you mention! It's a very slow movie -- an odd choice, given that it's a Superman film. Yes, the 1978 Reeve film is slow; but that's in line with the film norms of the day. Only one year after Star Wars, movies hadn't caught up to its breakneck pacing yet (and even Star Wars isn't really "fast" by today's standards). Superman Returns is more of an extended character meditation -- fine, but not exactly what most people, I think, were expecting.
Sean Vivier
11. SeanVivier
Superman Returns is irredeemable because Superman spends prolonged amounts of time on and lifting a kryptonite island... and LIVES. You can't give an omnipotent character exactly one weakness, then have that weakness not count. Next we'll rewrite the Iliad and the Odyssey, except now Achilles has an invincible heel.
C. A. Bridges
12. Smokenmirrors
Dark City! A truly great movie with an incredible premise, mind-blowing set designs, and really creepy bad guys. Somewhat convoluted at times, but I dare anyone to watch it and not feel like Inception, Adjustmet Bureau, etc...borrowed something from it.
Ryan Britt
13. ryancbritt
@12 Smokemirros
We really like Dark City at Tor.com. Though I don't think its unfairly derided! In fact, in a few weeks we'll be talking about noir on the site, so stay tuned...
C. A. Bridges
14. JohnPettigrew
Agreed, The Island and SkyCaptain were good fun movies.

Can't agree about Superman Returns, though. I couldn't even finish watching it, it was so boring. Kevin Spacey was by far the best thing in it.
Ryan Britt
15. ryancbritt
@7 b8amack
Interesting angle. I think I agree with you, and would like to defend that version of Hulk on those grounds. Maybe that one deserves a rewatch.
C. A. Bridges
16. wiredog
@Smokenmirrors
I don't think Dark City is derided. Not well known, perhaps.


I assume everyone here has read "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex"...
Seamus Cooper
17. Seamuscooper
I will agree with everybody who says that Superman Returns is, in fact, fairly derided. It may have been the direction, but Routh's glassy-eyed, vacant performance really took me out of the movie.

I really liked the visual sense of Sky Captain, and the pulpy plot, and pretty much everything except Gwyneth Paltrow. While everybody else in the movie seems to really throw themselves into the cheesy fun, Paltrow looks consistently bored and just unable to react to green screen effects.

In this day and age it's probably too obscure to be widely derided, but Roger Corman's Battle Beyond the Stars is actually a really fun movie. Star Wars/Western ripoff starring John Boy Walton! With a spaceship that looks like boobs! what's not to love?
C. A. Bridges
18. Jared Garrett
I can't disagree on any of this.

The Island gets done EXACTLY what it sets out to do and it does so quite enjoyably. MacGregor and Johannsen did a great job playing childlike clones.

The Chronicles of Riddick has freaking Thandie Newton and Karl Urban in it, along with Mr. Diesel. The story is great, the set-pieces are stupendous and the execution is outstanding. I've seen it multiple times and loved it each time.

Sky Captain was too challenging for most people. Sure, Gwyneth is mostly irritating, but it's visually tremendous and the whole motif is quite tasty.

I'm still not sure why Equilibrium didn't go huge. Bale owns Reeves.

Superman Returns was such a wonderfully done film-- but it was like the first Hulk film. You have to put yourself in a position, with the right lens, to see it for what it was-- an elegant and moving homage to humanity, heroism, and what it means to be different.
C. A. Bridges
19. John R. Rllis
I always thought The Island was a rip-off of Parts: The Clonus Horror. In fact, didn't the makers of that film end up getting financial compensation?
Brian R
20. Mayhem
Equilibrium is an unusual film, very much of its type.
It can't quite make up its mind what kind of film it wants to be, whether action, dystopia, thoughtful or simple. It mixes wonderful imagery with social commentary, but then throws most of it away to conform to the action movie staples and a flashy ending.
(pity you can't see in the shot above, but the guns of the clerics fire with a distinctive flash pattern in the shape of the Tetragrammaton cross. One of those nice subtle stylistic touches.)

Similar movies were Aeon Flux and Ultraviolet, never quite sure what they want to be, they are the kind of film that you love while you watch it, but as soon as you leave you immediately see the flaws.

Superman Returns is definitely an underrated film. Taken on its own, it stands as a nice continuity reboot of Richard Donner's view of Superman, while at the same time as other have said, it is very much Bryan Singer film, a meditation on what it is to be Different.
A good example would be comparing the first two X-Men movies to the third, which threw away much of the philosophy in favour of spectacle, but which ends up floundering around without a real heart because of it.

Chronicles of Riddick is I think an attempt to do a James Cameron and make a satisfying sequel to what was a suprisingly good first film. And the key to that is to take the series in a new direction, a-la Aliens or Terminator 2, where the implacable horror of the first movie turns into spectacle and action in the second. Although to be fair, much of the film makes little sense unless you have seen the Dark Fury OVA which bridges the gap between Pitch Black and Riddick. On the other hand, a similar trick was done semi successfully by the Matrix crowd, so it was again a product of its time. Again, an enjoyable movie taken on its own merits, but somewhat flawed at the heart, it almost strikes me as being Conan in Spaaaace, down to the lengthy narration at the end, and Riddick seated upon the throne. As for Judy Dench, apparently Vin Diesel wooed her for months to come work on the film, because he was a huge fan. She does well, but lets face it, could you see her appearing in any of his other movies? 'Fast and Furious - Rolls Royce Drift' anyone?
Emmet O'Brien
21. EmmetAOBrien
Superman Returns struck me as a bit of a mess largely for going too far in the Christ-like take on Superman, and for a Lois who did not quite gel, but I had to love it for three adults coping with a potential love-triangle situation with mutual civility and respect. I also think seeing it very close to the Bollywood superhero film Krrish may have been to its detriment, as Krrish is genius.

Sky Captain had a lot I liked, most notably the moment of Jude Law waking up in bed with Gwyneth Paltrow where you can see the thought process "Oh, that's what one of those looks like. Nope, not my thing." behind his eyes. The Chronicles of Riddick only works if one believes that the strain of hiding out for however many years between movies cost Riddick not only his first name but also most of his characterisation; and The Island just filled me with a burning desire for a movie about people raised in an isolated environment believing they get to move on to utopia in which the shocking twist is that they do actually get to move on to utopia.
Scott Ranger
22. syncap8
@12Smokenmirrors, total agree about Dark City!

How about Waterworld? Get's a terrible rap, but I like the story and the movie ...
Enrique Matta
23. enroxorz
I loved Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, and can say without a doubt that I am absolutely heart broken that movies like this will never see the light of day anymore. The movie was epic beyond belief, and at the end brought a tear to my eye.

I'm not old. Far from it, I am just 28, but at a young age I got into OTR and 40's-50's serials. When I saw this was coming out I damn near crapped a brick because I was going to see a movie in the stylings I loved.

There I was, sitting in the theatre ready to experience the movie of a lifetime. My ex-wife was there with me, complaining the whole time that the movie felt old. I didn't care. I was like a kid in a visual candy store. Then the brat near us started yelling "Dex is dead?". That was the only time my eyes became unglued throughout the screening.

One can watch old Flash Gordon serials oh-so-much before you start memorizing them. Movies like this should be done more often.

King Kong is the only other recent movie that gave me that same feeling.
Ryan Britt
24. ryancbritt
@17Seamusscooper

I remember being on the playground at some point in grade school and having a friend claim that Battle Beyond the Stars was better than Star Wars and Star Trek!
C. A. Bridges
25. AndrewGM
Interesting article. Haven't seen all of these movies, but now I have some ideas for Netflix. I did see Chronicles of Riddick and liked it; good fun. Also, I thought that Superman Returns was entertaining.
C. A. Bridges
26. a1ay
As for Judi Dench, apparently Vin Diesel wooed her for months to come work on the film, because he was a huge fan. She does well, but let's face it, could you see her appearing in any of his other movies?
'Fast and Furious - Rolls Royce Drift' anyone?

I would give up a major organ for transplant to see this film. A kidney, at least. If it also starred Maggie Smith I would probably be prepared to give up the other kidney.
Rob Hansen
27. RobHansen
This probably proves how out of touch I am but I never even realized Sky Captain was derided. I love that movie, have it on DVD , have watched it several times, and will undoubtedly watch it again.

Agree with the Dark City love, though when recommending it I always tell people to mute the sound and not turn it back on until they see a man in a bath. That way you avoid the opening voiceover - presumably added after the original cut was shown to a focus group of morons - that gives away the plot of the entire movie.
C. A. Bridges
28. Stefan Jones
I'm going to have to keep an eye out for Equilibrium and The Island.

I thought Sky Captain was wonderful pulp fun with great visuals. The CGI sets have a dreamy, surreal quality that makes them all the more compelling; a "hot" medium that is more interesting than (say) the much higher quality CGI settings of Jackson's King Kong.

The way-underrated Chronicles of Riddick could have been the film version of an action-packed 1950s pulp SF serial from Amazing Magazine, with peculiar cultures and wild settings.
C. A. Bridges
29. John R. Ellis
#27: A couple of years ago a Dark City Director's Cut was released on DVD, minus the voiceover opening, with numerous scenes tweaked, and successful effort put forth to make the FX look more naturalistic and less intrusive. It's well worth getting.
Peter Tijger
30. Peter-Tijger
Sky captain and the world of tomorrow.......bow down to this movie, bow down !!!!

Certainly an overlooked movie, but holy crapperoli what a ride !! It's like an old-fashioned rollercoaster ride of a movie, the fun never stops. When the plane crashes into the water and turns into a submarine........I applauded in my seat. I liked it, obviously.

All other movies mentioned are in my dvd collection. I like one more than the other, but all are decent or more.

Other "stinkers" I liked ?

- Lost in space. I expected a somewhat decent movie, but I actually liked it a whole lot more. The fate of the little son actually got to me.

- Judge Dredd. Yes, I'm very familiar with the comics. And still I do actually like the movie for what it is, a fun ride.

- Serenity. I was unfamiliar with the former tv show. I caught the hype on the internet, saw the movie and I definitely liked it.

- Jumper. Hated by many, but I liked the movie, I really did. Loved the powers and hope there will be a sequel.

- Flash Gordon (1980). A guilty pleasure, I admit. As an 11 year old I highly anticipated this movie. I read some Flash Gordon comics, began to love science fiction, had a black and white comic insert cut out of a Dutch comic book magazine which I read to pieces and when I finally saw the movie in the theater, together with my kid brother and parents, it was the best I had ever seen.
Seeing it now brings a grin on my face from ear to ear, it's as campy as can be to actually horrible, but I still love it...because of that and because of the memories. And it had music by Queen of course, one of my first musical interests, my first vinyl single was Queen's We are the champions, so that was a winning combination too...........I know that particular Flash song bit by bit even to this day, every sample and sound. :)
Del C
31. del
Demolition Man. Sandra Bullock as "Lenina Huxley". Stallone, on learning that actual kissing is now considered gross: "Damn, and I used to be a good kisser, too!"
Sky Thibedeau
32. SkylarkThibedeau
I agree with 'Sky Captain', Supe's Return, and 'The Island'. Have never been able to sit thru Riddick. I thought 'Push' with Pre-Cap Chris Evans and Dakota fanning was pretty good. X-men style mutants with various powers up against a mysterious Government Conspiracy.
Laura Stiers
33. onfairystories
@31, Did you know that Jumper was originally a book by Steven Gould? It's really good, too . . . so good that I didn't even dare see the movie for fear of adaptation decay.
Joe Vondracek
34. joev
#30: I've never heard anyone call Serenity a stinker. Where's that coming from? On the other hand, Lost in Space did get bad reviews, but I quite enjoyed it, and I'm someone who watched the original TV show when it aired.

Totally agree with everyone about Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.
Emmet O'Brien
35. EmmetAOBrien
Mayhem@20: Chronicles of Riddick is I think an attempt to do a James Cameron and make a satisfying sequel to what was a suprisingly good first film. And the key to that is to take the series in a new direction, a-la Aliens or Terminator 2, where the implacable horror of the first movie turns into spectacle and action in the second.

Gosh, tastes they do vary. Both the examples you quote struck me as ferociously disappointing sequels for that precise reason.
C. A. Bridges
36. rationalist
Also:

Gattaca - smart movies that don't concescend to their audience tend to do poorly in the U.S.

Moon - smart movies that don't concescend to their audience tend to do poorly in the U.S.

Children of Men - Ditto above (I consider this film a masterpiece, It got lots of pushback, though. Seems one of those movies people either hate or love, no middle ground.)

Pi - Wow. Also, ditto smart movies....etc.

Repo Man (not to be confused with the repugnant Repo Men) - gonzo 80's wondermadness

Enemy Mine

Frequency

Titan A.E. - underrated, poorly marketed, breakthrough hybrid digital/hand animation, full-length post-apocalyptic feature from Don Bluth featuring young teenage characters acting like...young teenagers. My then young teenagers loved it. So did I.

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension: HELLO?!?! Greatest cult film ever, in ANY genre? Greatest all-star cast (many were not stars at the time, which makes it cooler), greatest lines, greatest music, greatest tropes, greatest design, greatest comicbook sensibility, greatest everything?

And, just for fun:
The Giant Claw - the mutant offspring of Big Bird mating a Skeksis, on growth hormones. So unbelievably beyond awful it's almost good again.
C. A. Bridges
37. DragonRose
Chronicles of Riddick is one fo the worst plotted movies I've ever seen.
C. A. Bridges
38. John R. Ellis
36: Titan AE began getting advertised a full year before release. In retrospect, something that backfired.

It didn't help that one could tell several different scripts were being stitched together, with sensibilities clashing left and right.

I don't think Cale or Akuma looked like or acted like "young" teenagers. The sorts of "teens" who are actually 20-30-somethings seen in many live action TV programs and films, perhaps.
Michael Grosberg
39. Michael_GR
I liked parts of The Island. More specifically, I liked everything from the first scene with Steve Buscemi to the last scene with Steve Buscemi. In other words, I only liked Buscemi's character. Everything else, meh.
Also, you see the first hints of blatant Chevrolet product placement that would later ruin the Transformers movies. BumbleBee is NOT a Camaro!

Chronicles of Ridiculous... well, I can honestly say that I really dig the spaceships. There's a sense of grandeur to the landing sequence, and the planet-busting scenes. The characters and story are sadly forgettable. And the subtext is weird... The bad guys are evil space-christians with cross-shaped space fighters, and the good guy are actual muslims with crescent-shaped fighters.

Sky Captain is more of a homage to a genre of film than a film in itself. It's not actually bad... but it rings fake and hollow, the outer surface of a movie-going experience without the substance.
Peter Tijger
40. Peter-Tijger
@ 33.....yeah, I know that. Have to track it down someday, I'm curious.

@ 34.....Serenity didn't perform very well at the box office did it? In that way it was a stinker I believe (or if I'm really wrong about that, then hey....I'm wrong ;) ). Maybe it wasn't a stinker with the critics and the audience that actually saw it, but if that was a small audience.....most people still think it's a stinker.
Jeff Youngstrom
41. jeffy
Another voice for Ang Lee's Hulk.
C. A. Bridges
42. Finny
Gattaca
Titan A.E.
Thunderbirds
Shark Boy and Lava Girl
Dark City
B. Loppe
43. Scarlett Bearsdale
The thing I thought about Chronicles of Riddick the last time I watched was that, if anything, it had too much awesome. The awesome in that movie is relentless - there's no moment of respite from which you can examine the rest of it and really take in that awesome. It's like Vin and whoever else were sitting around talking about the movie, and they just kept. adding. AWESOME and left no room for the natural development of the story. The movie ended up lacking sense in some parts unless you understood the exposition they couldn't fit into the movie but that was necessary to explain what the AWESOME was.

You need a breathing space in order to properly admire whatever comes around it - in fact, that breathing space is itself an integral part of a work of art. You can't have a song without the silence between the notes, and the quality of that silence essential to the nature of that music. Japanese brush art is as much about the space between and around the brushstrokes as the brushstrokes themselves. I think that the great things about CoR could have been better appreciated if they had been given a little space to breathe. I think that Equilibrium managed that really well.
Ryan Britt
44. ryancbritt
@20 and 26

Okay, let's make this happen. Michael Caine has to be involved however. I like "Rolls Royce Drift" but what if it was like this: The Fast and the Articulate: Perfect Diction
Ryan Britt
45. ryancbritt
@ All the Serenity talk. Firefly fans are way too supportive of everything Firefly related to consider Serenity derided. Even if it were a box office flop (who cares about that anyway?) it is beloved by its fans. Heck, io9 did a favorite sci-fi movie poll not too long ago and Serenity WON, beating The Empire Strikes Back.

So, in my view, Serenity is not overrated or underrated. It is rated, exactly as it should be: HUGE in the hearts of Firefly fans, and respected by other sci-fi fans.
C. A. Bridges
46. Kadere
The Island was awful, good premise, but totally awful film. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow was awful, one of the worst films of the decade, by far. Superman Returns was awful, one of the worst superhero movies ever. There's no defending them.

Equilibrium was fantastic as far as dystopias are concerened, though it has a number of issues it's biggest flaw is it's similarities to The Matrix. The Chronicles of Riddick is dumb, but it's ment to be. It's actually a perfectly entertaining film.

But don't ever try to defend Superman Returns, Sky Captain, or The Island. Just don't.
Nick Rogers
47. BookGoblin
I'm probably going to be mocked so hard I slip into an alternate universe...but honestly I think the 2003 Ben Afflack vehicle "The Paycheck" was incredibly underrated and extremely watchable.

It was a Philip K Dick story treatment, and I thought the whole thing worked pretty well. Sure, if you know genre, you knew the ending before you even met all the players; but the execution was surprisingly good.

As for movies that were (perhaps fairly) derided, I still say that the Lynch vision of Dune was absolutely formative and informative to the fandom of an entire generation of SciFi lovers. I know in my case that if not for the movie tie-in version of the novel (with the cool photos) it might have been decades before I discovered Frank Herbert (and also discovered that the movie had only a passing resemblance to the book).

And, we all got to experience how cool Sting was in a knife fight or while wearing a winged Space-Speedo (but, perhaps thankfully, not at the same time)!

Also, without Dune, I wouldn't have ever walked in while my mom was watching Twin Peaks and asked "why is Muad'Dib eating pie?"
C. A. Bridges
48. JessiMac
Judge Dredd - too much fun not to like
Johnny Nuemonic - shutup I love this movie
Lost In Space - I think people had their minds made up to not like this one before they even saw it
Solaris - HAH just kidding this movie is god awful
Ashe Armstrong
49. AsheSaoirse
Haven't seen the Island. Equilibrium I've never heard anything bad about. So, I'll leave them alone.

Riddick: Love it. I can't wait for the third one to get made. Though, I agree that the story lacks because there's little breathing room. There are things that should've been explained better but it's still fun and very interesting to look at and I dig the story. Probably should've been split into two movies though.

Sky Captain: It's pulpy and fun and dear god, mad scientists and ray guns and giant robots and monkeys and dinosaurs and everything good about early sci-fi. AND A GIANT GLOWING HEAD THING. Can't forget that. Very underrated.

Superman Returns: I can list very easily why I hate this movie.
It's a 26 year old sequel. Just a bad idea.
They changed the suit. Now, when I say this, I don't mean the texture. I mean the colors and the S shield. The darker colors were just a bad choice. That doesn't mean they had to be super bright primary but primary colors are Supes's thing, man. And the smaller S shield made Routh look TINY. He's not bulky to begin with so that hurt him. I've seen an edit of the suit where the shield was enlarged and it made his chest and shoulders look bigger.
A waste of Spacey as Luthor. He basically reuses the real estate thing except now he makes an island of kryptonite. I wanted to see Spacey chewing scenery as the mad scientist/ultra savvy businessman version of Lex. Badly.
As someone else mentioned, SUPERMAN LIFTING A FREAKING KRYPTONITE ISLAND AND SURVIVING. I mean, tiny pieces of kryptonite put him in the floor and he lands on an ISLAND of it and doesn't seizure and bleed out of every orifice and then somehow lifts the damn thing OUT of the ocean (try lifting something heavy out of the water sometime) and then manages to fall back to earth, landing in Metropolis.
Also agree with the too much Superman = Christ, although I did like him explaining to Lois that he could basically hear everyone and that whole scene.
There are plenty of good things about it (watching a bullet bounce off Supes's eye is fabulous) and I like some introspection in my stories but to knowingly and deliberately go from Superman 2 to this was just ridiculous.

+1 for Dark City and Hulk. And a BIG +1 for Demolition Man. That is a wickedly underrated action film. It actually has a really good story and I like the references to Brave New World.
Bobby Stubbs
50. Valan
Well, I haven't seen Superman Returns, and I won't because I just don't like Superman. I want to see Sky Captain now because of all the praise, however.
Chronicles of Riddick was a mess, and Riddick didn't feel like the same character as portayed in Pitch Black, which was an awesome film. I saw CoR once, that was enough.
I didn't remember The Island was a Michael Bay film, it was mildly entertaining, I don't remember it as being horrible in any case.

Equilibrium is an awesome film. Yes, it did borrow several ideas, but at least it made good use of them.
@ B.Loppe I totally agree that the action scenes in this film worked because of the space between them.
C. A. Bridges
51. Megaduck
I'm also going to be mocked but I enjoyed the Film Supernova.
C. A. Bridges
52. Cool Bev
I saw Chronicles of Riddick first, so I was pretty disappointed with Pitch Black. I wanted a spectacle, not a Carpenter-esque chamber piece.

The Pitch Black/Chronicles pair reminds me of Equilibrium/Ultraviolet. One a small mood piece with limited special effects, the next a wide-open sensawunda spectacle with amazing sets, costumes and effects. Of course, the Riddick films share a character. Wimmer's share only a fighting style - gun-kata.
C. A. Bridges
53. Facing ridicule
I actually like battlefield earth. The idea they could learn to fly fighter jets in a week or two is ridiculous but I think the movie itself is kinda fun
C. A. Bridges
54. AlBrown
I loved Sky Captain. Of course, if I explained that I grew up in the sixties reading the pulp fiction my dad stashed away from his youth in the twenties and thirties, you will understand my love for that sort of old fashioned adventure.
Not to mention that the film was a real breakthrough in technology, being shot entirely in front of green screens, the first of a new generation of films, CGI truly coming in to its own.
C. A. Bridges
55. RDaggle
'Chronicles Of Riddick' had one downright great sequence: the run across the planet just ahead of the blazing sun. Aside from that part -- blah ...

When a set piece stands out so far above everything else in a movie I start to get suspicious there's a Second Unit team who are responsible for the only good part.
Michael Burke
56. Ludon
@53
The biggest reach in Battlefield Earth for me was the fact that Harriers could be pulled out and flown right away after having been in storage for what - about 1000 years? The JP-4 was still liquid and the oil could still lube the moving parts. The rubber seals had not rotted and the plastic parts didn't shatter after becoming brittle with age.

I have to agree that Sky Captain was a fun movie.

One film that I think got OK reviews when it came out but faded too quickly and now forgotten is The Hudsucker Proxy. Fantasy or sci-fi? Whichever, if you've seen it you know that wasn't our world they were playing in.
C. A. Bridges
57. sofrina
i happen to love "chronicles of riddick." it has major issues, but everything to do with the prison planet pretty much rocks. that they could run across the surface of the planet is both ridiculous and exhilarating. where "pitch black" was filmed outdoors, this film is clearly done on sound stages which changes the entire feel.

and don't get me started on recasting "jack." was that other girl not available? i like alexa davalos but this was the other girl's role. and wouldn't it have been more interesting to see how an androgynous girl was getting along in a coed prison? they did right by the imam, but i never could forgive the fact that all three of his wards die in "pitch black" and he survives.

on "superman returns," by no means am i a devotee of anything superman related. he just is to me. that movie was contemplative and heartfelt and i really thought it took a solid look at the hero's lonely vigil. unfortunately it melded this wonderful character study to an asinine plot. has lex luthor ever had a dumber scheme? to replace actual terra firma with impregnable rock of another planet in hopes of controlling real estate?

i don't know why anyone would even mention "serenity." it is pretty much perfect. and i've barely seen 60 collective minutes of "firefly."
Anthony Pero
58. anthonypero
I liked The Postman and Steel Dawn a lot. The Postman was far superior to Waterworld, and I thought the acting was superb. Gotta love Tom Petty's cameo.

The Postman: Hey, I know you... you're famous!
Tom Petty: I was... once.

That one is even funnier now, since his career was basically over, then after the movie was made, he became popular again. (not because of the movie)
C. A. Bridges
59. carmen webster buxton
I would second Waterworld as being not as bad as it's made out to be. It always reminded me of the old joke about the new rabbi trying to get his congregation to say something nice at a funeral, when the rabbi didn't know the departed himself. No matter how much he pleads, no one speaks up. Finally, from the back of the room, a voice said, "He had a brother who was a lot worse." There are a lot worse movies than Waterworld, which at least had a cool sailboat, even if its villains are cardboard cutouts and the hero has managed a million years of evolution in a generation. It's fun, if nothing else.
Ashe Armstrong
60. AsheSaoirse
The biggest problem with Waterworld is that it's too big for what it was. The whole world and all the little details would've worked better in a trilogy or better yet, a well-budgeted tv show. The ending sequence on the ship being all action-explodey is what throws me when I'm watching it because it seems shoehorned in.

At least, that's my take on the Waterworld issue.
C. A. Bridges
61. cljohnston108
Great list, Ryan! Agree on all counts.

But I should point out that half the worth of DVDs these days is in the behind-the-scenes content in the Bonus Features. So, do yourselves a favor, and listen to Kurt Wimmer's commentaries on Equilibrium, and watch Kerry Conran craft his demo reel and pitch package for Sky Captain.

And as for Superman Returns, I justified my DVD purchase entirely with these words: "Bullet to the eyeball."
JOhn Johnson
62. smileyman
If you take Waterworld at face value it's actually a fairly decent sci-fi movie. The reason it sticks in people's minds as being horrid is because it was hyped to heaven and back when it came out, went way overbudget, and then failed to make even half of that budget back in the US market, so it was widely regarded as a flop--this despite it actually making a fairly sizeable profit when it was all said and done.

Sky Captain is an absolutely fabulous homage to the pulp action stories of the 20s and 30s. It's brilliant, but challenging, and audiences going into it expecting popcorn fare are probably going to be disappointed.

I really liked both of the Riddick movies, enjoyed Superman Returns, and haven't seen the others.

I'm glad to see people mentioning Titan A.E which is criminally neglected by sci-fi fans, but haven't seen anybody comment on Iron Giant.

The movie that most people seem to hate but I adore is Unbreakable. It seems to me that audiences disliked that movie because the advertising department screwed up on how it was presented.
C. A. Bridges
63. a1ay
I like "Rolls Royce Drift" but what if it was like this: The Fast and the Articulate: Perfect Diction

Elevator pitch: it's My Fair Lady meets Ocean's Eleven with car chases!
Rachel Hyland
64. RachelHyland
Equilibrium is not just Brave New World and 1984 but also Logan's Run, Fahrenheit 451 and The Penultimate Truth as well, just to name a few of its influences. But it also has THE GUN KATA!!! I love that movie like crazy, and think anyone who doesn't is clearly lacking the gene for recognising stuff that is really cool. I pity them.

Superman Returns I actively detest (excellent points, all, @ 2. C. A. Bridges!), The Island I disdain and Riddick I like as long as I consider it not actually a sequel to Pitch Black. As for Sky Captain... I have to confess that I have never made it all the way through it, but will now attempt to do so again. Sixth time's the charm, right?

In place of Supes, I would respectfully submit Super Mario Bros. In place of The Island, I suggest Howard the Duck. And in place of Riddick... The Matrix Reloaded. Yes, Revolutions was a travesty in every way, but Reloaded was actually pretty awesome, and I love it a lot--especially its final the-machines-created-the-Messiah denouement.

Probably could have done without the dystopian orgy scene, though.

@ 36. rationalist

Gattaca and Titan A. E. Yes, indeedy! Pi, of course. Frequency, I love, and while I am not as fond of Moon as some, I do understand its abiding cleverness. But Buckaroo Banzai... I just don't get what the fuss is about. I watched it for the first time not too long ago, and damn! It's just so... boring. What a disappointment, after all the hype! It's like the cult sci-fi equivalent of Citizen Kane.

@ 48. JessiMac

No, Lost in Space really is just terrible. Not in an "unworthy of its progenitor" kind of way either, because, let's face it, the TV show was never all that good itself. But that movie sucked so hard in so many ways that the only reason it wasn't the first film I ever walked out of at the theater was because I was getting picked up afterward and didn't want to wait out in the lobby by myself for an hour.

I also concur with everyone who is confused by the mention of Serenity in this context. Craziness!
C. A. Bridges
65. dobieprime
Ok...Superman Returns...here is the problem. Everyone raves about Kevin Spacey. Yes he is a great actor. But, he is doing nothing except mocking another great actor...Gene Hackman.
At no time in cinema have they ever done Lex Luthor as he should be protrayed. If you ask me, Michael Rosenbaum is Lex Luthor. That is the Lex we should have. Not some uber-genius super villian who surrounds himself with stupid people. The Lex of Smallville was much more dark and deep as a character.
That is what disappointed me the most about Superman Returns...it was the same old stupid Lex. The best part of it, and the most believable to me anyway as far as character goes, was when Lex has Superman at a disadvantage on the island and starts kicking him and beating him out of sheer hatred. That was Lex and Superman.
Ryan Britt
66. ryancbritt
@63

This is exactly what I'm talking about.
C. A. Bridges
67. The Duckster
Anybody out there have any love for Howard the Duck? Admittedly not a masterpiece but a fine exemplar of 1980's kitsch. It had its moments and I have to say it's a lot better than some of the recent sci-fi. If you have the time rent/stream/buy it, kick back and relax. It'll be worth the effort.
Ashe Armstrong
68. AsheSaoirse
@Dobieprime: Watch Superman: The Animated Series and the Justice League series (including Unlimited) and marvel at the really REAL Lex as voiced by the wonderful Clancy Brown.
C. A. Bridges
69. DocDerry
I'm going to jump on the Dark City bandwagon. I have a few friends that absolutely hated that movie. I really liked it. It was a "new" idea. Almost twilight zone or outer limits like.
Anthony Pero
70. anthonypero
TheDuckster@67:

Thank you, oh so much, for reminding me that we all had good reason to hate George Lucas LOOOOONG before Jar Jar Binks ever uttered his first unintelligible syllable.
Peter Tijger
71. Peter-Tijger
@ 62.

Hate Unbreakable ?!?!?!

I love it all the way to kingdom come, it's a perfect movie. The best superhero movie ever made. And it's not even based on a real comic. But the movie grasps the whole superhero genre during its length, it's dead on, this is what a superhero is, a guy with powers doing the good thing and his eternal arch enemy, their lives interwoven from the beginning and until they die. Really, it's a perfect movie.
Whatever Shyamalan has done and will do, Unbreakable and The sixth sense are utterly great movies, nothing changes that.
C. A. Bridges
72. Seamus1602
Superman Returns:

This movie might have been good, but I ruined it for myself by watching S1 and S2 just before seeing this one. When supposedly 'powerful' emotional moments of the film are taken verbatim from S1 or S2, I can't get past it. I spent a good portion of that film thinking, "write something new"!


Other thoughts:

I, like other, really liked the first Hulk with Bana and directed by Lee. The Nolte stroyline went off the rails a bit, but I always thought this movie was better than most people thought.

I agree with The Island being a fun little movie, but actors go past the point of being childish and their woodenness shoots holes in my suspension of disbelief.
Anthony Pero
73. anthonypero
Other (un?)fairly derided scifi/fantasy flicks that I (kinda) love (occasionally):

Galaxy Quest
Willow (although I liked the later books better)
Cyborg (Gotta love Van Damme... especially when they don't let him say much!)
Dragonfly
The Day After Tomorrow (No, I really actually liked that one!)
King Arthur with Clive Owen didn't get much love (and it might not qualify as fantasy)
Peter Tijger
74. Peter-Tijger
Agreed, Cyborg is a classic, really cool movie. The best van Damme after Bloodsport.
C. A. Bridges
75. DavidJGross
My problem with Superman Returns is that it wasn't a movie made for its time. What they did was take the same pacing and formula from movies from the late 70s and early 80s and do it better with 2000s special effects. The thing is, the viewers weren't viewers of the 70s and 80s. They were viewers of the 2000s. It's easy to forgive a movie from 1978 for being a 70s movie. It's not so easy to forgive a movie from 2006 for the same thing.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
76. tnh
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is built on visual logic: a rare thing, and quite wonderful. I have to report, though, that there's a glitch in it that traumatized one viewer.

When a movie's visuals are half-assed or error-prone or just estranging, it puts you on guard. Sky Captain doesn't do that. Its visuals are just about perfect. I'm sure that's why, not far from the end of the movie, my husband let out a little half-strangled yelp of dismay. I was puzzled for a moment, but then I saw it too: a plane that had the name of its airline painted on the fuselage in great big Helvetica caps.

Helvetica made its debut in 1957.

Most mistakes just damage your suspension of disbelief, but sometimes you get one that's like pushing the button on an ejector seat. That's what happened to my husband. For him, it ruined the movie.

=====

What Dreams May Come is a justly derided movie -- picturing Heaven as an impasto Thomas Kinkaid painting is only one of its failings -- but it does have an extraordinary sequence buried in it, in which the protagonist journeys from Heaven to Hell. Suddenly, this incoherent film becomes an intelligent, literate, elegantly referential visual narrative that's in control of its metaphors. It continues at this high level until the character reaches his destination and the dialogue starts up again, at which point everything falls apart and it goes back to being dumb. But for the duration of that journey, it's brilliant.

AnthonyPero @73, everyone I know enjoyed GalaxyQuest. For some of them, it's a favorite movie. It won the Hugo. Who's derided it?
C. A. Bridges
77. Sasmith361
The Island was marketed so poorly that no one bothered to go see it in the movie theaters. Since I am a huge Ewan McGregor fan I made my husband go see it in the theaters with me. I believe that we were the only people in the theater on the opening weekend. We both loved it so much we bought it when it came out on DVD. Ditto goes for Chronicles of Riddick. I will have to check out Equilibrium however since I have not seen that one. As for Superman Returns and Sky Captain...meh.
C. A. Bridges
78. GrantK
Curses - someone beat me to The Postman!

Time Cop is one of my guilty pleasures, but I'm a sucker for time travel movies. It's so bad I even watched The Time Traveler's Wife - there's two odd hours of my life I'll never get back!

Some really good suggestions by everyone, btw. Enjoyed reading this.

"Bullet to the eye" made me laugh out loud!
C. A. Bridges
79. Zard
I admit to having enjoyed most of these films, but I'm afraid that Superman Returns deserves all the criticism it got, IMHO. After waiting so many years for a new Superman movie, this one was a huge disappointment, mostly because of the whole idea of making a 'tribute' to the old Chris Reeve movies, when they should have tried something new, like what Nolan did in Batman Begins. Poor dialogue and bad acting(not only from the wooden Routh) didn't help much, either. The plane rescue scene showed a hesitant and rather foolish Man os Steel, who almost got everyone killed when he yanked off one of the wings after clumsily trying to steer the plane by yanking at the wingtip. A dumb Superman is a bit too much for me...

Then there's the whole superbaby thing, which was unnecessary 'noise', plus Superman getting all beat up by Luthor and his hoods then, 10 minutes later lifting an enormous island of kryptonite into space, then almost dying in a hospital...well, basically it's a giant mess of a script.

If anything, Superman Returns made me want to see the 1978 movie again, to remember what Superman movie should be like.
Michael Burke
80. Ludon
@#76 tnh,

But you were willing to accept the zeppelin tower on the Empire State Building being used for regular passenger service and I didn't see a complaint from you about the submersible aircraft so you seemed to have accepted that you were seeing some other reality. Who's to say that a font looking like the one we know as Helvetica wasn't created much earlier in that reality?

"Stop the movie. Explosions don't go Boom! in space." So the caption read with a single frame cartoon showing a scientist standing in a movie theater which was published not long after Star Wars made summer movie hisory. True. Explosions in space don't make the boom that they do in an atmosphere. But. Explosions (close up and center of attention) on the screen without the booms would be silly. Having the found made it feel right. Maybe using this font in Sky Captain helped them create the feel they were after. This is fiction so you must be accepting of some stretchers.

Stretchers?

Time to bring in what I consider one of the best passages about writing.

You don't know about me, without you have read a book by the name of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," but that aint no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There were things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth. That is nothing. I never seen anybody but lied, one time or another, without it was Aunt Polly, or the widow, or Maybe Mary. Aunt Polly -- Tom's Aunt Polly, she is -- and Mary, and the Widow Douglas, is all told about in that book -- which is mostly a true book; with some stretchers, as I said before. (Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Chapter One, by Mark Twain)

Changes and little errors are a part of storytelling. After all, storytelling is telling lies and elongating lies always leads to errors - some small and some big. As long as the little error doesn't weaken or confuse the plot or the worldbuilding it's usually not worth getting upset over. (Especially when the world is not quite ours.) On the other hand. A mistake like that in a historical documentry should be called to question. As an aviation buff, I was irritated when the narration for a WWII docu identified some Curtiss C-46 aircraft as "Specially modified Douglas C-47s with oversized fuselages for handling large cargo." In fiction I'm likely to only be amused such as when Major Nelson used four, five or six different aircraft types for one flight in I Dream Of Jeannie.
C. A. Bridges
81. Billie
I know this doesn't strictly fit into the Sci-Fi genre but I have to bring up Speed Racer. Saw the reviews for it and made an actual mental note to avoid it like the plague. It was already on video when a friend of mine told me I had been steered wrong. I cry a single tear every time I think about missing it on the big screen, cause now I love this movie.

Mock me all you like but Superman Returns didn't work for me because the real Superman would never have slept with Lois, period (Can those of you who also refer to comic book characters as if they are real people back me up on this?). Supe is the original boy scout, and boy scouts don't knock up girls they can never be with and then bail for a couple of years. Also agree with everyone else about wanting something new ala Nolan with Batman.

Unbreakable is such a great movie and it so didn't get it's due. Sadness.

Mystery Men and Galaxy Quest make my favorites list but Howard the Duck? Seriously? I hated that movie and it gave me nightmares. And it was terrible.


I've been avoiding The Postman movie because I love the book so, should I go for it?
Jeff Dickey
82. Jeff_Dickey
#39 Michael_GR — "Chronicles of Ridiculous". Heh. Very well put; I'm not going to be able to see or hear of Vin Diesel again without making that connection.

Superman Returns put me off the franchise for life. A pity; I loved the first movie, and was a fan of the comics as a kid.

Any Philip K Dick adaptation is going to get stomped on by the box office and the critics. Any even minimally-competent Philip K Dick adaptation is going to get raved about by that small minority who actually enjoy exercising their minds.

The Island. Yes. If only it had been successful, Michael Bay would be a different director entirely (and Star Trek would have been a much better Star Trek movie, rivalling The Wrath of Khan).

Lost in Space? Underappreciated?!? Danger, Will Robinson!
C. A. Bridges
83. crdawsey
I was greatly disappointed in Superman Returns. The main reason? The casting. Brandon Routh never convinced me he was Superman, just some guy who went to a costume party in a Superman suit. He didn't have the screen presence Christopher Reeve had, and I don't think that is Routh's fault. He has done much better in other roles, but just wasn't quite right for this one. Worse however, was Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane. She looked like a girl who just graduated high school. Performance had no pizzazz. Kevin Spacey was probably the best choice as Luthor, but he didn't have enough humor to make the character interesting. Perhaps that's the fault of the script. All in all, I think that for me the film just suffers by comparison with the Chris Reeve films of Superman One and Two.
Alana Abbott
84. alanajoli
I've only seen Sky Captain and Superman Returns from this list; the former, I loved before it even came out (they had me at the trailer) and the latter I thought was fun. I actually thought Routh was brilliant at playing Christopher Reeve playing Superman (I thought he was intentionally trying to channel the earlier actor), and Kevin Spacey was awesome.

I've been meaning to pick up The Island, actually, and this re-look recommendation is really encouraging!
Ryan Britt
85. ryancbritt
What does everyone think of Highlander 2?
C. A. Bridges
86. Joe_1967
#85 ryancbritt -- There can be only one!

The biggest problem I had with Waterworld was that if you melt both polar caps, all of the glaciers, and every ice cube in every casino in Las Vegas you'd raise the sea level some hundreds of feet and move the shorelines in, what, a few hundred miles? If those people can't find dry land they deserve to drown.

+1 for Speed Racer. As far as other overlooked movies, how about 9 (the post-apocalyptic children's movie from the director of Night Watch, that is)?
Angelina Moore
87. Tilinka
I was loaned Equilibrium and District 13 a couple years ago. I'm sure I'll return 'em eventually.

Hmm.. my other not-so-guilty watches are Space Truckers and Galaxy Quest. Not exactly good, but definitely fun.

I'm very glad my younger cousins dragged me to see Speed Racer when it was in the theaters. I remember being completely devoted to Into the West and Escape to Witch Mountain about twenty years ago, but I'm wary of seeing how they hold up.
Michael Mair
88. Nightwind
Sky Captain: Urgh. I went to the cinema a couple of weeks after it started and was alone in a five hundred seats room. Which was deserved. I liked the setting and the general atmosphere. Gwyneth Paltrow ruined the thing slightly on the atmosphere side but what really hurt was the hollowness. Every surface polished, and polished nicely, but no heart at all.

Lost in Space: Watched that one with a friend of mine. To this day, he manages to forget seeing it; it is missing whenever he nominates the most terrible movies he has ever seen. If I ask him "and what about Lost in Space", then the poor thing has to feel the pain all over again.

Aeon Flux: I enjoyed the movie even though it was so obviously flawed. They tried at least.

Judge Dredd: Forget your expectations and it actually is a nice movie.

Demolition Man: A very good mix of fun and tongue-in-cheek know-your-sf-classics. Last month, I managed to insert a three-sea-shells-quote in an ancient elven dungeon which lead to a much needed rewatch as one of the folks did not get it :-)

Enemy Mine: Hits the same strings as Lessing's Ring Parable for me, so I think it is one of the best movies about tolerance ever.

The Island and Equilibrium sound decently interesting, so thank you for pointing me in this direction!
Hugh Arai
89. HArai
ryancbritt@85:
What does everyone think of Highlander 2?

There was only one. There was only one. There was only one...
C. A. Bridges
90. DavidEsmale
Making a comic-book superhero movie is a rough tightrope routine. You have to:
1. Keep everything simple enough that non-comic book readers can watch and enjoy the movie without any prior knowledge of the character involved
2. Pay enough homage to the original source material to not insult or
offend the core audience (the comic book nerds - of which I am a member)
3. Give the writer/director/actors enough freedom to do something that excites and interests them.

For me, Superman Returns fails on #1 and #2.
1. In the build-up to this movie, I had the distinct feeling that it was meant as a sequel to Superman 2 (ignoring the existence of Superman 3 and 4, just like I try to do). It's a bit of a stretch, and you're expecting the audience to have some idea of the plot of those first two Superman movies.

But the entire Superman-and-Lois have a kid subplot falls apart under scrutinization. In Superman 2 Clark and Lois do get together for a night...after Clark has divested himself of all his powers. There is no Superman anymore. He's just Clark. Then he gets his powers back, defeats the badguys, and gives Lois the magical-memory-erasing-kiss at the end of the movie so she doesn't remember that Superman = Clark. Since she had sex with Clark, she shouldn't remember that at all. Which leads me to...

2. The comic book Superman, at least at the time Superman Returns was made, considered himself to be Clark Kent first, and Superman second. Superman was the 'mask' that he wore in order to use his powers to help people, while Clark Kent was who he really was. Superman didn't hook up with Lois, because he wanted her to love the REAL him (Clark), not the costume/powers.


Then I get treated to a movie version of the character that had what amounted to a one-night stand with the character that (in comic-book land) is the love of his life. At which point my comic-book-loving-self pretty much screams in agony.

As a movie, in general, Superman Returns is probably not that bad. But to someone who has been a fan of Superman, and an avid reader of Superman comic books since he was a kid growing up in the 80s (yes, I'm old), Superman Returns is pretty horrible. The continuity is a mess, and the values of the characters are almost unrecognizable.

A just for good measure, I never understood how Superman was able to lift the island of kryptonite out of the ocean. Was the kryptonite only on the top of the island? If so, I'd have to consider Lex Luthor the absolute dumbest 'evil genius' on the planet.

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