For better or worse, special effects have become an increasingly prominent part of Hollywood moviemaking, and this is particularly true for movies in fantasy and science fiction. While some of these effects really do add to the storytelling, and while some of them are gorgeous to look at, it has to be said that quite a few of them are also more than a little ridiculous.
This is particularly galling when bad special effects mar an otherwise movies, and it’s even worse when the effects should be off the charts as a result of the enormous amount of money expended.
10 Tron: Legacy (2010)
There was quite a lot of excitement about this movie when it was announced, in large part because so many people had fond memories of the original from the 1980s.
Unfortunately, it didn’t quite measure up to expectations. While the special effects weren’t as bad as they might have been, it has to be said that a lot of people expected better considering how much hype there was surrounding this movie and how much money was spent on making it.
9 The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
Peter Jackson certainly took some risks in deciding to make Tolkien’s slender book The Hobbit into a trilogy and, for the most part, the gamble paid off.
Critics were lukewarm, but audiences liked them. Unfortunately, it has to be said that there were more than a few times when the special effects were significantly less amazing than they should be. Perhaps this wouldn’t have been quite as big of a problem if the movie hadn’t relied so much on its special effects rather than makeup.
8 World War Z (2013)
Anyone who’s read the novel World War Z knows that it’s a marvelous piece of fiction, in no small part because it purports to be an oral history of a zombie apocalypse.
Unfortunately, the movie jettisoned most of the book’s cleverness in favor of a more typical zombie movie and, as a result, it’s a rather ho-hum sort of affair (even the ending was changed). More distressing is the fact that the special effects are almost laughably bad, featuring zombies that have a sort of lurching movement that’s never really explained.
7 Fantastic Four (2015)
There seems to be some sort of curse hanging over the Fantastic Four, and though the first effort at a movie did decently well, the sequel did not, and the same was true of the unfortunate reboot. It’s fine as far as superhero movies go, but in a world that continues to be dominated by the MCU, it really struggles to keep up, and it doesn’t help that the special effects look decidedly less than impressive.
That’s hardly the stuff of which successful superhero movies are made.
6 Justice League (2017)
In many ways, this is something of a golden age of superhero movies. They are almost everywhere one looks, and they are almost always the most financially successful movies of a given year.
Alas, not all of them are made equal, and Justice League shows why. It’s not that the movie is bad, necessarily, and it does have some exciting set-pieces. However, it has to be said that special effects are a bit less than spectacular, and certainly not one would expect from a movie with this big of a cultural presence.
5 Green Lantern (2011)
Green Lantern is another of those superhero movies that really struggled for takeoff. That’s truly sad, because Ryan Reynolds is a very charismatic actor, and he really does give his all to material that really isn’t worthy of him and a movie that ends up being one of his worst. It’s also a movie filled with special effects that are extremely underwhelming.
This seems like a particularly strange choice since one would assume that those responsible for the movie would recognize that people go to these types of movies to be wowed by the special effects on offer.
4 Gods of Egypt (2016)
It’s a little hard to say what, exactly, the makers of this movie were thinking when they pushed it into production. It’s not as if movies set in antiquity, particularly in mythology, have been especially successful or popular. Most are at best decent (and almost always critically derided).
It’s also quite impossible to take this movie seriously, in large part because the special effects are so disastrously overdone and yet also incredibly cheesy. Somehow, one doubts that this was the effect they intended. It certainly doesn’t help that the movie engaged in some truly egregious white-washing.
3 Black Panther (2018)
There are many things to love about the movie Black Panther. It truly broke boundaries in terms of representation, and it really was great to see a Marvel movie that focused on a Black character and allowed him to be the hero of the story. This movie has a great cultural impact that few other movies can hope to achieve.
However, even the movie’s most diehard fans have to admit that it was somewhat lacking in the special effects department, and the final battle between Black Panther and Killmonger could have been further amped up. It could be that this happened because there were many effects studios involved in the creation of the film, and, additionally, Marvel was working on many movies at once during the creation of Black Panther. Ultimately, it speaks volumes that even though the effects might leave a little bit to be desired, it is hardly noticeable given the greatness of everything else.
2 Venom (2018)
As with so many of the other movies on this list, it’s a bit of a puzzle as to why this movie was made the way that it was. One would think that those in charge of comic book movies would go all-in in making sure that the special effects would be one of the chief selling points but, again, there’s a sense in this movie that it’s too much and not enough.
There’s quite a lot of spectacularity, but for some reason, none of it looks particularly entertaining or interesting, and it doesn’t help that the movie gets some things wrong about the key character.
1 The Thing (2011)
Any movie called The Thing was always going to exist in the shadow of John Carpenter’s horror classic of the same name, and it’s, unfortunately, true that this movie can never seem to find its footing nor provide much of a reason for its existence. More frustrating, in fact, is the fact that its special effects aren’t anything to write home about, either.
As a result, the entire movie seems like a bit of a disappointment, a testament to what might have been with a little more imagination and effort.