The worst thing about the flood of godawful remakes of science fiction movie classics? After a while, you just sort of get numb. From Keanu Reeves as Klaatu to Eddie Murphy as the Nutty Professor, it's just... why.
Here are the 10 absolute worst remakes of science fiction movies.
1. Planet Of The Apes
The culprit: Tim Burton, plus a whole crew of performing monkeys.
Why the hate? Burton's remake of the 1970s classic is just cheesy in the wrong way. Too many supposedly clever lines like "Extremism in the defense of apes is no vice." Helena Bonham-Carter delivers a career-worst performance as a crusader for human rights. Even the usually reliable Paul Giamatti is scary bad as a cowardly slave-trader.
2. The Island Of Doctor Moreau
The culprit: Really, it sounds like the blame belongs with star Val Kilmer, who demanded that original director, Richard Stanley be fired. Then new director John Frankenheimer got into fights with Kilmer, and the shoot devolved into a shambles.
Why the hate? Webomatica sums up:
The original director was fired. Actors including Fairuza Balk walked off the set. The script was rewritten while shooting. This chaos was an ideal home for Brando's notorious antics and in one scene he wears an ice bucket on his head because… well, he was bored and nobody dared say no to the great actor. I wonder if other ideas like the white clown makeup or the piano duet with Mini Skinless Chicken were his, too. Val Kilmer was going through a divorce, called the shoot "crazy," and improvised much of his performance, phoning in a mouthful of marbles Brando impersonation at one point. The original director sneaked back on set just to participate, as an extra in furry makeup.
The culprits: Director Oliver Hirschbiegel and star Nicole Kidman.
Why the hate? Actually, it starts out reasonably well. It's only once we get the revamped explanation of what's going on — there are no body snatchers, it's just a weird prozac-esque parasite — that it slides downhill. The last half hour, including the weak happy ending, are where it really loses its grip.
4. Stepford Wives
The culprit: Nicole Kidman, what are you trying to do to us? Plus normally great director Frank Oz. Yoda, what were you thinking?
Why the hate? Oh man, where to start? For starters, you have the same excessive campiness and winking that ruined Burton's Apes. And then you have the same desire to throw away the premise of the original that ruined Invasion — the wives aren't robots, but humans controlled by an implanted chip. Also, like Invasion, it has a tacked-on happy ending.
The culprit: John McTiernan
Why the hate? I skipped this film, but the consensus on Rotten Tomatoes (where it gets a 4 percent rating) is that it skips everything that made the 1970s original into one of my fave movies. The social critique and future dystopia are gone, replaced with some vague Russian mobster plot. Worse yet, it's non-stop action but you can't even tell what's happening.
6. The Day The Earth Stood Still
The culprit: Director Scott Derrickson and star Keanu Reeves
Why the hate? This is another movie that starts out okay — and I really like the production design with the glowy spheres — and then just goes way off the rails. Keanu's unengaging performance isn't even the problem — it's the way this film just runs out of oomph after Klaatu escapes from the government facility... and then goes and hangs out in a McDonald's in Upstate New York. There's none of the drama and political intrigue of the original film, and the ending tries for profound and falls profoundly short.
The culprit: Roland Emmerich.
Why the hate? Emmerich and the world's most famous Kaiju, joining forces, ought to have been a slam dunk. Emmerich loves the mass destruction, and he's generally pretty good with big effects sequences. The main problem is the crappy CG monster, that doesn't look anything like the real Godzilla. Plus all of the human characters in the movie are unengaging — and this is the second strike for Matthew Broderick, after Stepford. Most of all, the action is boringly staged.
8. The Time Machine
The culprit: Simon Wells, the great-grandson of H.G. Wells.
Why the hate? I actually have a total soft spot for this movie, but I have to admit it's pretty bad. One huge problem: there's a sequence where New York is destroyed due to a botched lunar colonization attempt in 2037. This could have been a great sequence, but instead it was cut heavily because the film came out right after 9/11. Also, the second half of the film, where he goes to live among the Eloi, is just ridiculously cheesetastic. But I do like the idea that human science basically peaked in 2037, and then never recovered from the disaster for hundreds of years after.
9. I Am Legend
The culprit: Francis Lawrence, plus star Will Smith. Plus the studio suits who made them reshoot the ending.
Why the hate? I actually like the first half of this movie just fine. Plus this film really has to work hard to be worse than the Charlton Heston film Omega Man. (Which is also a remake, of The Last Man.) The movie just runs into major trouble once the crappy CGI zombies show up. The second half feels kind of like a letdown after the spooky first half, and the new ending is kind of blah. Here, for the record, is the original ending, which is still meh but better than what they finally went with.
10. The Nutty Professor
The culprit: Star Eddie Murphy, first and foremost.
Why the hate? Okay, maybe I'm crazy, but I kind of like the original Nutty, with Jerry Lewis. Murphy ruins the remake with his fatsuit obsession, turning the dichotomy between the Professor and Buddy Love into a super annoying fat guy, skinny guy riff. Plus, Murphy takes the thing of playing a hundred characters (which worked okay in Coming To America) and pushes it way over the line. The result takes a fable of a nerd trying to improve his social skills and way over-reaching into jerkdom, and turns it into a broad comedy about fatness and fart jokes.
Runners up: War Of The Worlds (Spielberg), Village Of The Damned (John Carpenter), Solaris (Steven Soderbergh), Vanilla Sky (Cameron Crowe), Death Race (Paul W.S. Anderson), Flubber (Les Mayfield)
This io9 flashback originally appeared in December 2008.