Ever since it was introduced to cinema in 1902’s A Trip to The Moon, science fiction has remained one of the best ways for filmmakers to communicate futuristic, fantastical ideas in an exciting, understandable format. However, sometimes this method doesn’t work–sci-fi films can be too confusing, too unrealistic, or just too low-quality for audiences and critics to handle.
The addition of action elements can either make or break a sci-fi film, and during the 2000s–the age of Disney Channel and fantasy epics–there were some particularly bad films that combined these two genres. We’ll be looking at which films IMDb users thought were the worst of these today.
10 Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams (2002) – 5.1
Robert Rodriguez’s sequel to the hit 2001 film Spy Kids follows the titular juveniles as they once again team up to face off against a stream of villainous individuals, including mysterious island dwellers and two rival spy siblings, Gary and Gerty Giggles.
Critics actually reacted to this one more positively than filmgoers did–praising its inventiveness and emotion, while audiences claimed that it had trouble retaining the original’s wittiness and that it often came off as incoherent and bizarre, although the film was still a box office success, making $119 million on a $38 million budget.
9 Ghosts of Mars (2001) – 4.9
The 2001 sci-fi film Ghosts of Mars takes place in a future where humans live on Mars (as the atmosphere has been artificially modified to be similar to that of Earth). However, humankind will have to fight for survival after a group of miners accidentally unleashes the violent ghosts of an ancient Martian civilization.
The already campy premise, combined with what critics saw as bad acting, directing, and writing led to the film being almost universally panned. It also became a box office bomb, making just $14 million on a $28 million budget.
8 Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007) – 4.7
The second film to combine the Alien and Predator franchises, AVPR was released in 2007 and follows the residents of a small town as they have to fight for the lives after being caught in the middle of a historic conflict, as several Xenomorphs and a hybrid Predalien have escaped captivity and are now being hunted by a skilled Predator.
Like its 2004 predecessor, AVPR received negative reviews from critics and audiences; several were upset by the film’s poor visuals, while others claimed it was unoriginal and that the plot was badly sequenced.
7 Ultraviolet (2006) – 4.4
The 2006 dystopian cyberpunk film Ultraviolet takes place after a mysterious, quasi-vampiric disease begins appearing around the world, and is recognized to give its bearers superhuman abilities–unfortunately, it will also kill them within twelve years.
Since the disease is contagious, those infected with the disease are executed to prevent it from spreading–although a radical resistance leader, Violet Song Jat Shariff, is working to find a cure, first having to overthrow society’s totalitarian leaders. The film was lambasted as incoherent, poorly-made, and forgettable by critics and audiences, with the only praise coming from fans of bad movies–kind of counterproductive, to say the least.
6 Jason X (2001) – 4.4
When it’s become clear that your franchise has run its course, sending the main character into space for no reason probably isn’t what you need to reinvigorate it.
The bizarre tenth installment of the Friday the 13th franchise puts Jason Voorhees against a sci-fi backdrop, having the serial killer be captured by the government and cryogenically frozen, only to awaken 445 years later–on a spaceship. While the film was heavily criticized upon release for its writing, story, and characters, in later years reviewers and fans of the series praised it for its satirical elements, claiming the film’s various oddities were purposeful.
5 Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003) – 4.2
The third film in the Spy Kids franchise, Spy Kids 3-D sends the titular protagonists Carmen and Juni Cortez into the digital world as they must discover the secrets of a virtual reality video game in order to stop the villainous Toymaker.
The film’s most vehement detractors claim it showcased an incoherent plot, lazy writing riddled with inconsistencies, and incredibly poor visual effects, and proved the franchise had run its course; while some critics were more sympathetic to the film’s director–Roger Ebert suggested Rodriguez was “inhibited” by the film’s “technical restraints,” for instance.
4 The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D (2005) – 3.5
Robert Rodriguez makes his third appearance on this list with The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D, another bizarre creation stemming from his signature “one-man-film” style. The film follows Max, a boy who uses his imaginary characters Sharkboy and Lavagirl to escape reality–until he encounters them in real life, as they claim he’s the only one that can save their world.
Much of the film’s criticism came from it replicating the dated visual style utilized in Spy Kids 3-D, with critics being fairly split (though leaning towards negative) on elements such as story, characters, direction, and acting.
3 Dragonball Evolution (2009) – 2.5
An American adaptation of the popular Dragon Ball manga series, 2009’s Dragonball Evolution follows Goku, a high school student who sets out with companions Bulma and Master Roshi to find the seven Dragon Balls, mystical objects that, when placed together, will summon a dragon with the ability to grant wishes.
The film was criticized by mainstream reviewers for its casting choices, script, and direction; while fans of the manga were more vehement about their dislike for the film, because of its flagrant changes from the source material–leading to an incredibly low IMDb score.
2 Battlefield Earth (2000) – 2.5
Based on the novel of the same name, Battlefield Earth, released in 2000, follows an underground rebellion against the vicious humanoid dictators who have ruled Earth for nearly a millennium–a group of gargantuan, intelligent aliens known as Psychlos. While the film was a box office success, poor word-of-mouth led to it underperforming, and critics were negative about the film’s every element, with Roger Ebert calling the film “unpleasant in a hostile way.”
It’s gone on to be recognized as one of the worst films of all time and it won seven Razzies, including Worst Screen Couple (for John Travolta and “anyone sharing the screen with him!”) and Worst Picture.
1 Alone in the Dark (2005) – 2.4
Very loosely based on the Lovecraftian video game series of the same name, 2005’s Alone in Dark follows a detective specializing in the supernatural, Edward Carnby, as he teams up with his girlfriend, an archaeologist, to uncover the secrets behind a series of ancient artifacts that are believed to be opening a portal between Earth and the demon dimension.
The film received universally negative reviews from critics, as many claimed the film was confusing, incomprehensible, and poorly written, with the Rotten Tomatoes critical consensus suggesting the film works better as a comedy than as a horror film (“head-slapping, incredulous laughter”).
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