I’ve been looking forward to the release of The Golden Compass next month but I’m starting to get a bad feeling about it. His Dark Materials is one of my favourite series and what I like is that Pullman doesn’t dumb anything down for his readers. I’ve never bought into the idea that it’s anti-religious either; to me Pullman’s criticism is of the dangers that come with blind faith and dogmatism, rather than of religion itself.
But director Chris Weitz has indicated that some of the themes have been watered down; religion and God won’t be referenced directly in the movie. To me that’s ripping the heart out of the story; it’d be like having Star Wars without The Force. And it’s hardly avoiding controversy anyway, with the Catholic League calling for a boycott.
I’ll try to keep an open mind and hopefully it’ll be a good adaptation, but it’s made me think about a few films I really haven’t liked… ones so awful that they still leave a bad taste in my mouth. So here’s my list of the 5 worst films I’ve seen. I wonder how many would make your list? 😉
An over-long, indulgent mess, Waterworld was just a chore to get through. The story makes little sense (where’s the sea life that should thrive in the oceans? And of course there’d have to be a myth of “Dryland” somewhere), it’s preachy rather than cautionary, and the acting is awful, Costner doing his nomadic loner thing again. One example that no amount of money can save something if it doesn’t have a good story first.
4) Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles
I’m not a big fan of the Crocodile Dundee films to begin with, particularly how the series succeeds by stereotyping Australian life. The first film was okay, but II was bad and Dundee III is just atrocious. The jokes are tired and predictable, the son annoying rather than cute, and you just wonder why they couldn’t have left it in the 80s where it belonged?
3) Dude, Where’s My Car?
I know Dude, Where’s My Car? has a cult following but I’ve never got it. I don’t mind dumb comedy like Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure but Dude just feels like one long, stretched out joke… only it lasts 80 minutes. Dude, where’s my car? Where’s your car dude? DUDE, where’s my car? Where’s your car dude?… my head hurts just thinking about it.
2) Swept Away
Possibly the only good thing about Swept Away is that it resulted in Madonna swearing she wouldn’t act in movies again. The whole film feels indulgent; the acting is atrocious, the characters have no redeemable features, the editing is bare and choppy, and any humour that does exist is because it’s so unintentionally bad. And there’s not much of that humour either.
1) Battlefield Earth
I rented Battlefield Earth thinking it couldn’t be as bad as the reviews. If anything it’s worse. John Travolta came incredibly close to career suicide with his one-dimensional portrayal of alien Terl complete with dreadlocks, tons of make-up and villainous cackle. The plot is senseless, its symbolism hits you over the head like a hammer (no more so than when Johnny discovers the Declaration of Independence!), and the score screeches like an animal being slaughtered. I don’t think I could watch it again (or read the book) if somebody paid me. In 2005 the Razzies named Battlefield Earth the worst drama of the last 25 years; that might be being generous – IMO it’s quite possibly the worst film of this century.
5 thoughts on “5 worst films of all time”
His Dark Materials with no direct references to God or religion?? Where will the plot go?
I’m also not impressed if their calling it The Golden Compass. That’s not a compass, it’s an alethiometer! It’d be like if they renamed Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone “Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone Oh, wait… 9_9
I actually thought Dude, Where’s My Car was a bit of a laugh, but I don’t feel any need to watch it again.
CJ: Apparently they’re making the Magisterium symbolic of all “dogmatic organizations”, so religion will appear in euphemistic terms instead… it just gives me a bad feeling. They might be able to get away with it for the first film, but can you imagine The Amber Spyglass without religion? It’ll be 20 minutes long!
There’s a bit of a story about the name. Apparently that was the working title for the series, and the US publisher kept it for the first book. I only knew it as Northern Lights before… I wish they’d keep that for the overseas release. I still have trouble saying alethiometer, though, so I can understand why they’d call it the golden compass. 😉
I just didn’t get Dude, but I can see why it’s popular. What’s sad is there’s an Aussie film You and Your Stupid Mate which follows the same formula. Can’t we do anything original? 😆
I believe it was a mix-up. I think the working title was Golden Compasses, which has some symbolic significance (can’t remember what that was exactly). The US publisher saw the alethiometer on the cover and mistook it for a golden compass, and changed the name of the book for goodness-knows-what reason.
Now I’ve got a bad feeling about the films too. I was looking forward to them, but now I’m feeling apprehensive!
CJ: I’ve often thought it’s strange how names come about… LOTR would be a perfect example; originally one book, and Tolkien actually wanted The War of the Ring rather than The Return of the King (my favourite title). It looks like The Golden Compasses referred to a pair of circle-drawing compasses, which I can’t remember in any of the books! The US publishers mistakenly thought it referred to Lyra’s alethiometer and insisted they use it for the US edition… I don’t mind the title too much, as long as they still call it the alethiometer. If they change that then I’ll be very annoyed.
I’m a little apprehensive too, but I’m still interested to see it… in the end I think whether it’s good or not is going to depend on Dakota Blue Richards and how much she becomes Lyra… roll on Boxing Day. 🙂
I agree that Waterworld was absolutely awful. If it hadn’t been raining I probably never watched it to the end … YAWN
I’m glad I didn’t see the other flicks you have listed. I guess living out here in the outback has some saving graces. 😀
CJ: My parents liked Kevin Costner after Dances With Wolves, so we saw it at the cinema when it came out. I still haven’t forgiven them!
Some films are so bad that they’re actually fun for a rainy day… but IMO these you should avoid like the plague, TT! Or maybe like a snake if you’re in the outback. 😉
I’ve only seen two out of your five, but I’m grateful for the non-recommendations so I can not-see the others. I saw the first Croc Dundee film, and found it pretty entertaining, if a bit over the top. Speaking as a Statesian, I can assure you that few in the US took Mr. Dundee to be representative of Australians or their culture. The word “stereotype” screamed silently in our ears during viewing. I did not feel obliged to watch the sequels. My I add my two cents–or two films?
Does the name “ISHTAR” ring a bell? Good cast, bad film. And there was “LOST AND FOUND” Same comment. OK, I lied–here’s a third choice: Lust in the Dust. Simply the most appalling thing I’ve ever seen on a screen. And I’ve seen some doozies. Thanks for the trip, cj!
CJ: I’ve actually not seen Ishtar, but I’m not surprised that’s on your list; I’ve heard so many bad things about it that I think I’d rather have a lung cut out than watch it! I haven’t seen the other two either but they sound awful… any chance the writers strike might produce some better scripts? 😕
I think the worst film which I couldn’t sit through was Heaven’s Gate; I had better things to waste my time on. I still can’t believe the first cut was 5 hours 25 minutes!
The first Croc Dundee isn’t too bad (though it is over the top), it’s more the politics that some Aussies don’t like. It was a deliberate attempt to make a commercial Australian film to appeal to mainstream audiences, rather than to tell an Australian story which would translate overseas… it feels like a bit of a sell-out, but we know most people don’t take it too seriously. Ah well, at least Peter Weir keeps making good films. 🙂
I remembered you’d mentioned “The Golden Compass” in a post. I just got back (Dec. 19) from seeing it. You sya you’ll get it Boxing Day?
Well, I LOVED it! The cinematography and fx are excellent, and the story and acting most engaging. I have not read the books, yet, however. I never do if I know a film of a title is coming out because I almost never like the film as much so I want to see it first. (An exception was “Forrest Gump”–terrible novel, good movie).
After re-reading the comments above, it’s good to know the alethiometer survived. I took the word “compass” as that which helps one find the way. The armored bear is amazing, and, well, you’re going to see it anyway so I won’t say any more!
CJ: Ah, so you enjoyed it. Great! Some of the reviews had me worried that they’d trashed it but sounds like it still has the heart of the book, which is the important thing.
Iorek looks impressive in the trailers, so I’m looking forward to seeing him (my favourite character). And I’m glad they kept the alethiometer; the fans would be howling if they’d changed it.
I still can’t believe we have to wait until Boxing Day! We’ve been spoilt by The Lord of the Rings opening everywhere on the same day. 🙂