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Top Five Most Disappointing Geek Movies with High Potential

Sometimes it doesn’t take much for a great geeky idea to be soured for everybody.

Like when some pretentious douche-tard tries to piss all over the fun of a zombie flash mob like ZombieCon 07.

(Heh. Finally. An excuse to use “douche-tard”. Ah, simple pleasures.)


The Potential

The epic tale, told in big-budget fashion by master storytellers Neil Gaiman and Robert Zemeckis and acclaimed actors including Robin Wright Penn, Angelina Jolie, Anthony Hopkins, and John Malkovich.

Oh! And P.S., Angelina gets naked.

The Ruination

I’m proud to say I’ve been bitching about the flaw with this production much longer than most folks: ever since my review of the Beowulf trailer at Comic-Con. I’m an early adopter when it comes to bitching. I’m on the bleeding edge of bitchiness. I’m an outlier on the bitch curve. I’m an alpha bitch.

So what’s been stuck in my aggro-bitchy little craw? As I said in July:

Remember that cutting-edge, hyper-realistic CGI movie, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within? Remember how it, like, absolutely bombed? Well, Neil Gaiman has gotten it into his head that it’d be a good idea to create a flashy, hyper-realistic CGI film of the Beowulf story, with CGI versions of its actors like .

Instead of perfectly good movie with “live” actors, Neil and his creative team decided to muck up these actors by creating almost-perfect likenesses of them for the movie. So, you get something that looks a lot like Angelina Jolie, but has the annoyingly-distracting, soulless movement of a CGI character.

Yeah, you got excited over a naked Angelina Jolie cartoon, dude. Perv.


The Potential

Before Adult Swim was even a twinkle in the eye of a Cartoon Network executive, MTV was airing one of the coolest adult-oriented cartoons ever seen this side of the Pacific.

Did I mention current Sexiest Woman Alive, Charlize Theron, donned a suit of tight, black spandex to play the lead character?

The Ruination

One of the weakest production teams since the collaboration that produced The Chevy Chase Show.
First, director Karyn Kusama, whose only previous credit was Girlfight, the boxing movie starring Michelle Rodriguez. Michelle Rodriquez? So, I guess we should have known that Kusama has a stubborn habit of trying to put polish on soulless, one-dimensional turds. Bam!

Also taking blame: the writing team, which you’ll remember from their only other work… on Jackie Chan’s stillborn stinker, The Tuxedo.


The Potential

Only the most-anticipated movies… ever.

The Ruination

These movies jumped down a crap slide that began with Jar Jar Binks, accelerated with Anakin and Padme frolicking among the daisies, and finally dropped into the abyss with two solid hours of Hayden Christensen’s whiny-ass voice.


The Potential

An army of dragons battling the U.S. military in downtown Los Angeles in a no-expense-spared visual-effects spectacular.

The Ruination

Sure, the seven-minute dragon battle was pretty cool. So, what was the problem? Oh, just. Every. Other. Thing. About. The. Movie.

No other film has been so universally derided as a jumble of meandering, senseless crap since… oh, wait. Never. Dragon Wars wishes it had the street cred of Ishtar.

I know I had fun deriding it. You can check out my Dragon Wars review.


The Potential

A fan-favorite sci-fi novel about an intergalactic war between space marines and armies of giant bugs… brought to life by Paul Verhoeven, the director who brought us the sci-fi delights of Robocop and Total Recall.

The Ruination

Paul Verhoeven, the director who brought us the trainwrecks of Hollow Man and Showgirls.

Starship Troopers played out more like a cheesy daytime Spanish soap opera (albeit with more gringos, explosions, and bare breasts) than the actual war-drama-spectacle fans were hoping for.

I’m not saying it wasn’t entertaining. It was. But I don’t think I was supposed to derive my primary entertainment value of Starship Troopers from a Doogie Howser appearance and a handful of topless scenes.

21 comments… add one
  • Nathan D October 25, 2007, 12:26 am

    Man, you need to let the pretentious zombie thing go. Or, create a post on top 10 ways to put the fun back into zombiehood.

    I think Dune, both versions of the last couple decades, should get at least an honorable mention on this list (Though, I am still enough of a sucker for Patrick Stewart, Sting, and Kyle MacLachlan all in one film that I can still watch the earlier film).

    And have you really written Beowulf off already? That is downright, well, bitchy. King Bitch.

  • Great White Snark October 25, 2007, 12:33 am

    Not to worry, it’s not bitterness over the zombie thing that keeps it alive. It’s what we pros like to call a “seg”, or a “segway” for you non-bloggernerds. Also, I was looking for an excuse to use the word “douche-tard.”

    Really? I enjoyed the original Dune. Of course, I didn’t read the book first, did you?

    And, yes, I’m already writing off Beowulf. Although I’ll probably still go see it in IMAX 3D, just so I can enjoy berating it, further. Plus, you know, there’s always the off chance that I’ll enjoy it.

  • nickolai October 25, 2007, 8:26 am

    Out of principle, I have to give the benefit of the doubt to Robert Zemeckis — I even enjoyed Polar Express. Talk about soulless eyes.

    And we’ll have to agree to disagree about Starship Troopers. I thought it rocked.

    “The only good bug is a dead bug!”

  • Nathan D October 25, 2007, 9:27 am

    OK, yes, I liked the first Dune too. Though, have you seen it lately? It doesn’t hold up as well as I would have liked it to. And after reading the books it’s tougher to like it. Besides, given how Dune should have been an epically good film – a true classic for all time, even if it’s “OK” it’s a disappointment. I say, give Peter Jackson a crack at the first 3 Dune books…

  • Great White Snark October 25, 2007, 11:30 am

    nickolai, I know not everyone shares my feelings about Starship Troopers…

    Nathan… Peter Jackson on Dune? Great friggin’ idea.

  • Ashley October 25, 2007, 1:48 pm

    While I can understand the reasoning for most things on this list, how can you put Beowulf on here when its not even out yet. I have not seen it yet but it looks like it has potential to be pretty good. I would not count this one out just yet.

  • Great White Snark October 25, 2007, 2:54 pm

    Ashley, I’m shockingly judgmental and remarkably prescient.

    Really, though, can’t you already just see the potential for how annoying the soulless CGI effect will be?

  • Cindi October 25, 2007, 3:08 pm

    God, I hated “Starship Troopers” and the Star Wars prequels. Really, really hated them. Thank you for giving voice to my disgust.

  • Great White Snark October 25, 2007, 3:15 pm

    No problem, Cindi. Opinions on Starship Troopers really fall to either side of the spectrum; I just had business lunch with someone (who somehow found my blog) who made it a point to defend the movie.

  • Cindi October 25, 2007, 3:19 pm

    I don’t know if I’d do business with anyone who defended “Starship Troopers.” I quickly broke up with the guy who made me watch it.

  • nickolai October 25, 2007, 6:55 pm

    Cindi, I don’t know if I’d do business with someone who makes it a policy not to do business with someone who defended Starship Troopers! So there!

    I think the main reason it spoke to me is that the movie is what would result if Verhoeven saw me as a boy pitting my GI Joes against giant freakin bugs, and decided to make a live-action movie of it. Although somehow he forgot that it was supposed to be a three-way confrontation with my Transformers too.

  • Cindi October 25, 2007, 9:13 pm

    That’s the difference between you and me, Nickolai. Verhoeven would have seen me staging a nudist camp/orgy with my Barbies, a few “Big Jim” dolls, and some Breyer horses, and he would have a very different oeuvre than what he has today.

  • Great White Snark October 25, 2007, 10:05 pm

    Best. Comments. Ever.

  • nickolai October 26, 2007, 8:05 am

    Hey Cindi, Verhoeven actually made that movie too. It was called Showgirls.

    No horses though.

  • Paul October 26, 2007, 5:20 pm

    Starship Troopers rules, I don’t care what anyone says. And if the original Dune appeared on this list… I think I’d have to stop reading this blog on principle.


  • Great White Snark October 26, 2007, 5:30 pm

    If you were to leave, who would defend ST, other than those three other errant souls who regularly leave comments? ;)

    Anyway, way to stick to your guns.

  • Nathan D October 27, 2007, 9:07 am

    OK, fine, the original Dune is not disappointing. Except, it is.

  • Anim8or November 3, 2007, 3:38 pm

    If you think Starship Troopers was a good movie, you just haven’t read the book.

    Robert Heinlein wrote what was arguably the best science fiction novel ever

    (maybe next to “Ender’s Game” which failed to pass Hollywood pre-production because Orson Scott Card wanted them casting less white kids and actually making it “a globally accurate representation of race” , he also wanted Ender to be Hispanic, which he was in the book…. so the studio bailed… nice huh?).

    The “Starship Troopers” novel opens with what could have been the most epic sequence in science fiction film history – power armor equipped space marines being fired out of a mother ship in individual capsules and skydiving through a barrage of shrapnel (why they are called capsule-troopers or “cap-troopers”, which they called them in the movie for some reason) and then fighting their way through a hoard of (intelligent) aliens, with well described bad-ass high tech (still to this day) weapons and techniques.. The whole book is packed with unmatched page turning badassness… And no soap opera love triangle crap (Dizzy is a dude, and he dies on page 8 while Ace and Rico have to carry him in his 2 ton armor to the drop ship before the ship takes off and they get left behind)… The notion that the only reason the military wants them to return is because of the price of their armor… the whole book is just… well… in brings a tear to this geek’s eye to think of what might have been (if the director had ever even read the book, which he said he didn’t because he “didn’t want it to interfere with his creative choices”… hmmm….. go Paul V…)

    Honestly, if you are a true geek, and like the movie, just read the book, and I promise you will see it (although entertaining) as a massively missed opportunity to make one of the most epic effects supported Sci-Fi movie of our generation (since Star Wars of course).

  • Great White Snark November 4, 2007, 10:22 pm

    Ok, I’m officially convinced that I need to pick up that book again; last time, I gave up after a page or two.

  • Chris January 31, 2008, 3:52 pm

    I second the disagreement with Starship Troopers. I missed it in the late 90’s and just saw it last summer. I thought it held up well visually. I haven’t read the book but i’ve read about it being panned as “fascist militarism” set as a sci-fi bug hunt adventure. Seriously.
    But i found the film to be dripping with satire, irony and retro-ness about the insanity of the whole enterprise of inter planetary warfare. Seriously. The whole thing was a parable of the idiocy of expansionist military cultures in the real world, even if it was about” a bug-hunt in space”.

    As for The Phantom Menace, and all the Prequels, yeah the casting stunk. Every time I see Samuel-motherfreaking-Jackson as Windu I weep inside, just a little. The films are just flat and matte all over, they have no bright or dark points, just a grey uniform mass. Talk about CGI crapitude. The dialog is alternatively endlessly expositionary or falsely sentimental. Pointless and annoying crowd-pleasing moments and character cameos. Ridiculous antic characters like Jar Jar. The plot of the second and third is like a Star Wars shopping list. Anakin, just slightly roasted, check , Palpatine, just force ravaged enough for continuity.Old republic swept away, check, check.
    So many great designers worked on it, but this might a case of too many cooks in the kitchen when it needed a single solid vision. Too many dumb designs got in. Lucas should have stayed in the boardroom to administer his Empire instead of trying to take the directorial helm again. The fans are now the owners of the Star Wars universe.

  • jeremy peeters August 17, 2010, 8:47 pm

    With starship troopers you have to realize that the movie is not the book. The book is serious, the movie is satire. Veorhoeven turned the humans into nazis (think the uniforms) the bugs into the good guys defending themselves from evil (human invaders). Just think of the movie as a parody of a ww2 propaganda flick and things will make much more sense and it will be enjoyable.

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