Justice!

Ten studio blockbusters that busted

The following 10 movies (listed in order of release) recall the words of Joe Pesci's hoodlum in Casino: "It shoulda been perfect.... But in the end, we fucked it all up."

 

Best Defense (1984) This much-anticipated disaster brought Eddie Murphy to the screen after his sizzling debut in 48 Hrs., and was Paramount's attempt to satirize the mindlessness and militarism of the Reagan era--somewhat akin to Tommy Lee satirizing spousal abuse. Dudley Moore saw his career take two slugs in the head from this laughless abomination.

 

Cobra (1986) This action bomb holds the distinction of being the most abrasively mean-spirited studio movie of recent decades. A seemingly coke-addled Sylvester Stallone struts woodenly through a series of badass-cop set pieces misstaged by Rambo's George P. Cosmatos, and caps off the action by lighting a match he has kept in his mouth for the previous hundred minutes.

 

Congo (1995) Director Frank Marshall got his start in the business as a producer, tending to a promising filmmaker named Steven Spielberg. The hard truth that talent doesn't rub off is proven again by this embarrassing ape-run-amok epic, which will at least be valuable someday as a gag reel for Laura Linney's Lifetime Achievement Award.

 

Cutthroat Island (1995) It seems like it only took minutes for Geena Davis to go from the sexy humdinger of Tootsie and The Fly to an odd, swollen-lipped lady in a pirate suit standing beside Matt Modine in this hellish romp.

 

Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997) It's like Speed. But on a boat. Okay, boats aren't fast. But it doesn't matter. Because when Willem Dafoe gets pissed off, his facial muscles peel back and he looks like a big, angry skeleton. And Sandra Bullock is really sweet, so, you know, it ought to work, right? Epilogue: Keanu Reeves wins giant karmic brownie points for blowing this off to make a movie about Neal Cassady for six hundred bucks.

 

Godzilla (1998) What's the fun of a Godzilla movie? Seeing guys in rubber suits tear up obviously cardboard dupes of skyscrapers, no? So what do you get when you scrap the rubber and buy $100 million-plus of CGI, with no ideas except to name two minor characters after Siskel and Ebert? The worst expensive studio movie of modern times.

 

Star Wars: Episode I--The Phantom Menace (1999) Yeah, it did okay, but it belongs here because no recent movie squandered as much good will as this execrably written, narratively static, wretchedly acted giveaway of the Star Wars legacy.

 

The Perfect Storm (2000) You're the hero of a big-budget movie: a hearty, grinning regular guy who likes to pound tequila shots with .38 Special on the jukebox. Here's your Fateful Choice: head out unprotected into squalls, giant waves, sharks, and hypothermia...or maybe wait to go fishing until things clear up? Director Wolfgang Petersen and an overqualified cast took the flashy bet and wound up in the drink.

 

Pearl Harbor (2001) Wouldn't it be cool to mix the grandiose tragedy of Titanic with the bare-knuckle realism of the opening of Saving Private Ryan? Not if it involves Josh Hartnett hearing the cannonades of Japanese bombs and blurting, "Ah think World War II just started!"

 

Swordfish (2001) The Citizen Kane of big-budget stinkers, this steaming plate of corn-soaked hash actually comes to a climax as Halle Berry mimes being choked to death by a mess of steel chains as hero Hugh Jackman...types in numbers on a laptop!

 
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