When summer rolls around each year, we come to expect a certain style of blockbuster. Bruckheimer, Bay, Emmerich: More times than not, they’ll provide us with all the explosions a $150 million production budget can afford, as many ass shots as a PG-13 ratings will allow, and a few cringe-worthy zings in between the BOOMS. I can accept that, and anyone that wants to spend a lot of time in multiplexes during the summer has to. We bring our spittoons to collect the drool and the brain cells, and we walk out with a wan smile on our faces, a headache, and slightly larger testicles. Popcorn entertainment. Escapism. Big, dumb, fun.
But what I cannot oblige is Big, Dumb, Dull. I can watch Fast & Furious movies, even enjoy the Bad Boys films, and readily accept movies like Pearl Harbor, Independence Day and The Rock. Bad movies, perhaps. But they pass the time. It’s the ones that actually extend the time that I can’t abide. Sure, Spider-man 3 was terrible, but it had a few moments of (unintentional) comedy, and even a blockbuster like Van Helsing provided some train-wreck entertainment. But the movies below: They were just dull. Boring. Wearying. A chore.
Note that to qualify, the movie had to embody the spirit of blockbuster and gross more than $100 million. I also limited the list to seven to avoid angering the Lord of the Rings fans.
7. Transformers 2: Honestly, for what it was, I enjoyed the first Transformers film. It was unexceptional, but it was crackling in its stupidity. Transformers 2 just sucked — it was no fun. It wasn’t just the incoherent fight scenes — it was everything else in between: Pointless excursions between extravagant set pieces.
6. Hulk: Most of us can appreciate Ang Lee as a great filmmaker, but only the most contrarian among you will vouch for his Hulk, a bad art film disguised as summer blockbuster. I get it. I respect it. But, man, it made for a slow-moving, dull Hulk, a monster movie with a Shrek-looking beast that didn’t even arrive until the 40 minute mark. Ang Lee transformed HULK SMASH into HULK NAP.
5. The Da Vinci Code: The Da Vinci code was an attempt to make summer blockbusters for boring old white people, and to that extent, I suppose it was a success. The fact that there was a lot of talking was supposed to suggest a smarter blockbuster, but when the dialogue is as empty (and less exciting) than a Baysplosion, it kind of defeats the purpose. Plus, I’ll never forgive Da Vinci for essentially inspiring the National Treasure movies, which are terrible. But then again, at least they’re not boring.
4. Avatar: The highest-grossing film of all time certainly has its defenders (and our own SLW is one), but putting aside the “game-changing” visuals, I couldn’t get over how detached the film felt. Someday, it may be an awesome exhibit in a cinema museum, but the movie itself felt like watching a National Geographic special on Pandora.
3. Matrix Revolutions: Considering how influential and kinetic the fight scenes in the first Matrix were, it’s remarkable how zip-less and tedious the Wachowskis managed to make the action sequences in Revolutions. The plots themselves suited Keanu Reeves’ woodenness; it was the action that brought the first movie alive. Revolutions had none of that; it was a weak and tedious conclusion to a franchise that had already lost its way.
2. Titanic: Titanic was a three-hour love story that felt too contrived to be romantic. It was a excruciatingly dull costume drama that just happened to feature a giant ship sinking, but to get to there, we had to suffer through two hours of tedium. By the time Leo found himself wading in icy waters, I just wanted him Winslet to dunk him so I could go the hell home.
1. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest: It’s very possible that Pirates of the Caribbean: At the End of the World is even more dull than Dead Man’s Chest but like many people, I refused to put myself through it after the excruciatingly dull, hours-long incoherent second film, which essentially managed to go absolutely nowhere and still end in a cliffhanger. Dead Man’s Chest was a disaster, and it didn’t even have the decency to be a fun disaster. A long, bloated, empty slog, and one of the least pleasant experiences I’ve ever head in a movie theater.