Top 10 Worst Geek Movies of the 2010 Decade
Following up on our podcast episode from a few weeks ago, the Geeks have compiled a list of the 10 worst Geek movies from the 2010 decade. Although our ground rules were pretty loose, we tried to avoid B movies, made for TV movies, and anything else that might have been obviously terrible before you ever saw it. These are movies that could have been good - perhaps, should have been good - but fell monstrously short of the hype. So without further ado, we present to you the What If Geeks Top 10 Worst Geek Movies of the Decade:
10. The Dark Tower 
Nominated by: John
Directed and co-written by Nikolaj Arcel (screenplay writer for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), The Dark Tower is an adaption and continuation of the Stephen King novel series of the same name. The film stars Idris Elba as Roland, the Gunslinger who is attempting to protect the Dark Tower; and Matthew McConaughey as his arch nemesis, the Man in Black. The film combines various elements from King's eight-novel series, with events taking place in both modern-day New York and the Old West style alternative universe of Mid-World.
Why it made the list: Despite Elba and McConaughey taking the lead roles on screen, the film fell incredibly short of its novel series roots. To be fair, there was some 4,000+ pages of lore to convey in 95 minutes of screen time. But the seemingly arbitrary choice of elements that were adapted into the on-screen version thrusts newcomers into an alternate world without any substantial backstory, and leaves fans of the books without the dense plot, extensive mythology and fantastic characters that make the novels so enjoyable.
9. Venom 
Nominated by: Eric
Venom is a spin-off film from Sony's Spider Man franchise based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. This film attempts to tells an origin story of the Venom character, starring Tom Hardy as journalist Eddie Brock, who eventually melds with a symbiote to become the iconic anti-hero. It was directed by Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland), with screenplay written by Jeff Pinkner (The Amazing Spider Man 2; The Dark Tower) and Scott Rosenberg (Con Air).
Why it made the list: This film makes a terrible attempt to mesh elements of comedy, action and horror together that just doesn't work. But beyond those screenplay and directing flaws, there's a worse offense at hand: you can't have a Venom origin story without Spider Man. Both the symbiote and Eddie Brock have an intrinsic link with Peter Parker that makes the Venom character possible. Their shared hatred of Parker is the primary reason that these two seemingly incompatible personas eventually "team up" to try to take down Spider Man. Without this well-established backstory, Venom becomes a far less interesting villain archetype with a poorly-defined motivation.
8. The Last Airbender 
Nominated by: Paul
Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan (Glass, After Earth), this live-action adaption is based on Nickelodeon's popular animated series titled Avatar: The Last Airbender. This film follows the adventures of Aang, a young successor to a long line of Avatars, who must master all four elements and stop the Fire Nation from enslaving the Water Tribes and the Earth Kingdom.
Why it made the list: To begin with, it's difficult to make an adaption of something that was so clearly made for an anime platform. The plethora of visuals would be difficult to convey in live-action for even the best special effects team. But clearly, the best special effects team was not available for this production - seemingly, not even for a consult. The actors are consistently terrible with their dialogue delivery, making already poorly-written lines feel even less believable. And to add insult to injury, the cast has been completely whitewashed for seemingly no reason at all, despite the clearly Asian descent of all the main characters in the animated series.
7. Jonah Hex 
Nominated by: John
Having cheated death, gunslinger and bounty hunter Jonah Hex, played by Josh Brolin (Thanos in The Avengers films), has one foot in the natural world and one in the supernatural. His uncanny abilities allow him to track down anything or anyone. So the Army offers to erase the warrants on his head if he tracks down the villainous Quentin Turnbull, portrayed on-screen by John Malkovich (The ABC Murders, RED 2). Directed by Jimmy Hayward (Horton Hears a Who!) and written by Neveldine & Taylor (Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance), this film is a live-action adaption of the DC Comics character of the same name.
Why it made the list: The Jonah Hex comic series sets a temperamental tone, with a touch of cynical humor, while still remaining thoughtful in its delivery. The movie generally lacks any of those nuances and instead focuses heavily on violence and revenge killing - to the point of being cliché. It's a dramatic deviation from the source material and will likely stand the test of time as an example of how NOT to adapt a comic book to film.
6. Dumbo 
Nominated by: John
The story follows a family that works at a failing traveling circus that encounters a baby elephant with extremely large ears who is capable of flying. It's a re-imaging of Disney's 1941 animated film, which was based on the novel by Helen Aberson and Harold Pearl. In short, it's the classic Dumbo story with new villain and story elements added to accommodate the increased run time. It also boasts an ensemble cast including Colin Farrell (Fantastic Beasts series, Total Recall), Michael Keaton (Beetlejuice, Batman), Danny DeVito (Batman Returns, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Eva Green (Sin City: A Dame to Kill for, Camelot) and Alan Arkin (Argo, Gattaca).
Why it made the list: A Disney live-action remake probably seems a little out of place in this list. But nostalgic cinema is a part of the What if Geeks brand. And Disney has been making a concerted effort to generate revenues by recycling the animated films we grew up with via slew of live-action reboots. While some of these attempts were box office successes, the live-action remake of Dumbo highlights exactly why you can't rely on nostalgia alone to make a successful movie. Director Tim Burton (Planet of the Apes, Mars Attacks!) typically adds a lot of unique flair to his films, but this was a hard deviation from his usual film making talents that left audiences feeling largely apathetic.
5. The Fantastic Four 
Nominated by: Paul
This marks the third and final Fantastic Four film to be produced and distributed by 20th Century Fox, which also serves as a reboot of the Fantastic Four franchise. Directed by Josh Trank (Chronicle), who also co-wrote the screenplay with Jeremy Slater (The Lazarus Effect) and Simon Kinberg (X-Men franchise). In this iteration of the story, the Marvel Comics superhero team must learn to harness their superhuman abilities gained from an alternate universe in order to save Earth from a friend turned enemy.
Why it made the list: It's another incredibly misguided attempt to translate a comic book series into a feature film, which lacks any of the humor, character development or thrills of the original source material. It's start of with a refreshing introduction, but then then take s a turn for the worse when the characters inherit their powers. It's generally drab, humorless and uninspiring, with special effects that look like they were developed using a prior decade's technology.
4. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice 
Nominated by: Paul
Directed by Zack Snyder (Justice League, Man of Steel), this film stars Ben Affleck (Argo, Dogma) as Batman/Bruce Wayne and Henry Cavill (Immortals) as Superman/Clark Kent in the characters' first big-screen pairing. Fearing the actions of a god-like Super Hero left unchecked, Gotham City's own formidable, forceful vigilante takes on Metropolis's most revered, modern-day savior, while the world wrestles with what sort of hero it really needs.
Why it made the list: Next to our number one pick, this may be one of the worst superhero movies ever made. The promise of bringing together two of the greatest superhero personas in the DCEU for a head-to-head battle left all but the most cynical fans thirsting for its debut. But instead of an epic clash between two titans, they had to sit through a 3-hour story arc that tried to convince everyone that these two iconic heroes were bound by little more than jealously and personal insecurities. There is some poor scripting and bizarre dream sequences that make the heroes out to be lunatics. Then they try to use the film as some sort of springboard for future DCEU movies, by including a number of difficult-to-follow subplots that add little or nothing to the main story arc. If that wasn't enough, the "final battle" offers up only a 5-minute, relatively unrealistic fight scene between our two heroes which is quickly overshadowed by a larger threat.
3. The Lion King 
Nominated by: John & Eric
As this is a well known Disney film, we're just going to give the official synopsis for anyone that hasn't seen it: Simba idolizes his father, King Mufasa, and takes to heart his own royal destiny on the plains of Africa. But not everyone in the kingdom celebrates the new cub's arrival. Scar, Mufasa's brother -- and former heir to the throne -- has plans of his own. The battle for Pride Rock is soon ravaged with betrayal, tragedy and drama, ultimately resulting in Simba's exile. Now, with help from a curious pair of newfound friends, Simba must figure out how to grow up and take back what is rightfully his.
Why it made the list: If you read Eric's review of The Lion King, you probably saw this one coming a mile away. It's an affront to reboots because it was seemingly created for no other reason than to demonstrate the potential of photo-realistic rendering - effectively, turning it into a 2-hour advertisement for a certain kind of special effect developed at Disney Studios. There's little else we can say here except, "Just because you can, it doesn't necessarily mean you should."
2. Slender Man 
Nominated by: Eric
Slender Man is a supernatural horror film directed by Sylvain White (The Losers) and written by David Birke (Elle, Gacy), based on a character that originated on the internet. It was a modern urban legend, stemmed from a Creepypasta meme, that resulted in some tragic real-world events.
Why it made the list: It had all the makings for a good horror film - particularly, since there were real world events that stemmed from the disparate works of internet fiction that inspired the character. But the film was a total bust. It's attempts at scares were cheap, predictable and relatively few. And the film essentially ignores both the internet myths and the real-world consequences when telling its story.
1. Green Lantern 
Nominated by: Paul (but emphatically agreed to by all the Geeks)
Based on the DC Comics character of the same name, the film stars Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool franchise), Blake Lively (Savages) and Peter Sarsgaard (The Magnificent Seven), with Martin Campbell (The Legend of Zorro, GoldenEye) directing. The film tells the story of Hal Jordan, a test pilot who is selected to become the first human member of the Green Lantern Corps. Hal is given a ring that grants him superpowers, and must confront Parallax, who threatens to upset the balance of power in the universe. The script was written by Greg Berlanti (Wrath of the Titans) and comic writers Michael Green and Marc Guggenheim, but was subsequently rewritten by Michael Goldenberg (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix).
Why it the made the list: There's at least 50 reasons this movie is teetering on downright awful, despite a respectable cast of actors, promising writers and a proven director. The story-telling is completely out of whack, revealing pertinent details just before they're relevant to the story (or in at least one case, too long afterwards). There's a cringe-inspiring open narrative that goes way too far into detail on the Green Lanterns, before dumping the audience into an unnecessary and unfamiliar scene with alien astronauts. The main villain is essentially a yellow cloud meandering through outerspace. There are utterly pointless characters, like Hal's friend, Tom. The list goes on and on, honestly, and dozens of people before us have assembled lengthy monologues on why it's so terrible. Rather than waste your time with that, let's just agree to agree that this film is an absolute mess that never should have made it past editing.