Worst Sci-Fi Movies Ever Made

Worst Sci-Fi Movies Ever Made

Even with 2020 behind us, people still need content to help them escape their daily lives. 

Science fiction presents viewers with alternate realities, and whether machines have enslaved humanity or the world is on the edge of environmental collapse, sci-fi still offers a chance to imagine that things are different.

An opportunity to see oneself outside of time, locked in a struggle of good versus evil, surviving against all odds in a universe beyond comprehension. Here are the best supernatural TV series now available to stream.

At least, that’s the idea. Because just like every other genre, sci-fi has its fair share of films that don’t quite hit the mark. For every space opera there’s a space community theatre, and just because an intelligence is artificial doesn’t mean it’s all that smart. Some special effects aren’t very special, and some spoofs hit a little too close to home.

To help viewers at home avoid losing any of their free time to black holes, anti-matter poisoning, or poor casting, we at 24/7 Tempo have put together a list of the 15 worst sci-fi movies ever made. 

To determine the worst sci-fi movies of all time, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data from the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) and Rotten Tomatoes. We created an index based on the average critic rating from Rotten Tomatoes, the average audience rating from Rotten Tomatoes, and the average user rating from IMDb. We only considered feature films with at least 5,000 Rotten Tomatoes audience reviews, 10 Rotten Tomatoes critic reviews, and 10,000 IMDb user reviews. All data is for the most recent period available. Data was collected February 2021.

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

15. Stealth (2005)
> Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
> Director(s): Rob Cohen
> Starring: Josh Lucas, Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx, Sam Shepard
> Box office gross: $32.1 million

When a bleeding-edge piece of military technology is struck by lightning, it becomes self-aware and starts attacking both those responsible for its creation and the very pilots it was built to replace.

Leaving aside the fact that the military supposedly didn’t account for the possibility of its metal plane getting struck by lightning, Stealth (2005) was panned by viewers and critics alike for the poor acting of its leads (Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx, Josh Lucas, and Sam Shepard) and its attempt to impose a cat-and-mouse dynamic onto a two-hour fight between four fighter jets.

Source: Courtesy of Dimension Films

14. Apollo 18 (2011)
> Genre: Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi
> Director(s): Gonzalo López-Gallego
> Starring: Warren Christie, Lloyd Owen, Ryan Robbins, Michael Kopsa
> Box office gross: $17.7 million

All of the problems with Apollo 18 (2011) can be summarized in two words: “moon rocks”.

Spanish director Gonzalo López-Gallego’s film tells the story of the United States’ decision to never return to the moon, using the “found footage” approach to horror and sci-fi filmmaking pioneered by The Blair Witch Project (1999) and then re-made by Paranormal Activity (2007) almost a decade later.

In the movie, this purportedly fiscal decision made by NASA is in fact based on a Soviet-United States joint conspiracy to conceal the existence of extremely dangerous, hermit crab-shaped extraterrestrial life. While the film itself is lacking in almost every aspect, it did earn a bizarre, official reaction from NASA.

Source: Courtesy of Magnet Releasing

13. The Last Days on Mars (2013)
> Genre: Adventure, Horror, Sci-Fi
> Director(s): Ruairi Robinson
> Starring: Liev Schreiber, Elias Koteas, Romola Garai, Olivia Williams
> Box office gross: $20,000

While The Last Days on Mars (2013) is another horror movie set in space, it does have one differentiating factor: zombies. Yes, this film is set at a research base on Mars in the not-too-distant future. Yes, alien life is discovered where humanity once thought there was none. But, while the short story it’s based on was written before Alien (1979) landed in theaters, it was written well after Night of the Living Dead (1968) entered the zeitgeist.

Unfortunately, like many of the other movies on this list, The Last Day on Mars was too poorly-conceived to be a serious thriller, and too self-serious to reach its zombie-killing potential.

Source: Courtesy of Image Entertainment

12. The Colony (2013)
> Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller
> Director(s): Jeff Renfroe
> Starring: Kevin Zegers, Laurence Fishburne, Bill Paxton, Charlotte Sullivan
> Box office gross: Not available

The first dystopian film on the list, The Colony (2013) portrays Earth’s descent into the next ice age and the hard decisions one group of survivors must make when a group of cannibals begins eating their way through the surrounding colonies.

The characters are confronted with weighty decisions regarding the life and death of others, and the director isn’t afraid to kill a protagonist here and there, but the characters are too under-developed for their deaths to have an impact, and the dialogue is so cheesy to keep viewers in the moment. Granted, the comically super-human cannibals didn’t help.

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

11. After Earth (2013)
> Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
> Director(s): M. Night Shyamalan
> Starring: Jaden Smith, David Denman, Will Smith, Sophie Okonedo
> Box office gross: $60.5 million

After Earth (2013) is the first “distant future” sci-fi film on the list so far, taking place over one-thousand years after the human race left Earth, the flora and fauna of which had evolved to kill people in order to survive.

The movie tells the story of a hot-shot super-soldier (Will Smith) who is forced to bond with the son he doesn’t care about (Jaden Smith) by his borderline-estranged wife (Jada Pinkett Smith). It is the second film starring at least two-thirds of the Smith family, and father and son are once again forced to work together to fight against the odds and make their way on humanity’s relentlessly hostile homeworld.

Will Smith wears a grimace throughout the entire film, and just like his father Jaden must abandon all weakness and acting ability in order to earn his love.

Source: Courtesy of Lionsgate

10. I, Frankenstein (2014)
> Genre: Action, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
> Director(s): Stuart Beattie
> Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy, Miranda Otto, Virginie Le Brun
> Box office gross: $19.1 million

I, Frankenstein (2014) answers the question we’ve all been begging to know the answer to: what if Frankenstein’s monster was a hot anti-hero, skilled at hand-to-hand combat?

I, Frankenstein is based on a graphic novel of the same name, written by the creator of Underworld. Much like in the Underworld franchise, there is an ongoing fight between two supernatural forces. In I, Frankenstein, these forces are Gargoyles (representing Christian heaven) and Demons, and the fight is for the fate of humanity.

Aaron Eckhart was given the impossible task of making Frankenstein’s Monster (named Adam) cool, and Yvonne Strahovski was given the impossible role of his love interest, an electrophysiologist studying reanimation. The film was criticized for relying too heavily on the visual tropes established in Underworld, and copying them poorly at that.

Source: Courtesy of Dimension Films

9. Superhero Movie (2008)
> Genre: Action, Comedy, Sci-Fi
> Director(s): Craig Mazin
> Starring: Drake Bell, Leslie Nielsen, Sara Paxton, Christopher McDonald
> Box office gross: $26.6 million

Superhero Movie (2008) may be more spoof than traditional sci-fi, but that is no excuse for what Craig Mazin did to the target genre. Drake Bell plays the traditional high-school loser who discovers that they have special abilities after being bitten by a radioactive insect (a dragonfly), and adopts the nom de guerre to fight crime and get the girl. He is taken to a school for mutants by Xavier (Tracy Morgan), and calamity ensues.

While not considered the worst modern spoof by audiences or reviewers, Superhero Movie is considered to have relied too heavily on pop culture references and gags instead of joke writing or plot development.

Source: Courtesy of Relativity Media

8. The Lazarus Effect (2015)
> Genre: Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi
> Director(s): David Gelb
> Starring: Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, Evan Peters, Sarah Bolger
> Box office gross: $25.8 million

The Lazarus Effect (2015) tells the story of an engaged-to-be-married research team (Mark Duplass as “Frank” and Olivia Wilde as “Zoe”) and their serum designed to assist coma patients, code-named “Lazarus”. The couple is banned from continuing their experiments and their research is purchased by a pharmaceutical company, so they decide to break into their lab and secure evidence that Lazarus was their creation.

Zoe dies during their break-in and Frank injects her with Lazarus, after which she develops telekinesis and telepathy. Zoe went to Hell when she died (we learn she burned down an apartment building as a child, killing her neighbors) and proceeds to kill each of those trapped in the laboratory with her, finally reviving Frank with her blood as the film ends.

Disregarding the issue of condemning someone to Hell for a choice they made as a child, The Lazarus Effect was received negatively for its reliance upon jump-scares, general fear of reanimation, and the existence of Hell, wasting the talented cast and potentially interesting plot device of the serum itself.

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

7. The Happening (2008)
> Genre: Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi
> Director(s): M. Night Shyamalan
> Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo, Ashlyn Sanchez
> Box office gross: $64.5 million

The Happening (2008) is the second M. Night Shyamalan film on this list, and it also tells a story of how the Earth turns on humanity to protect itself. In this version (initially titled The Green Effect) plants have unified to develop a neurotoxin that causes people to commit suicide.

The film was Shyamalan’s first R-rated picture, a testament to its reliance upon gore and mass-slaughter. The writer-director would claim atomic paranoia movies as his inspiration, but his attempt to make a big-budget “B” movie only comes off as self-serious; the special effects and Wahlberg’s lines lost somewhere in between tragedy and farce.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

6. Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (2015)
> Genre: Comedy, Mystery, Sci-Fi
> Director(s): Steve Pink
> Starring: Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, Adam Scott
> Box office gross: $12.3 million

While the original was truly a comedy, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (2015) wrings every last bit of sci-fi potential out of the titular time machine. The sequel is a “whodunit?” exacted across modern history, meant first to uncover how the protagonists mis-managed their supernatural foreknowledge and second to solve one of the time-travelers’ murder. Critics and viewers alike considered the film’s humor juvenile to a fault, and the plot secondary to any excuse to include a historical reference or reversal of fortunes for the protagonists.

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

5. Babylon A.D. (2008)
> Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
> Director(s): Mathieu Kassovitz
> Starring: Vin Diesel, Michelle Yeoh, Mélanie Thierry, Gérard Depardieu
> Box office gross: $22.5 million

Babylon A.D. (2008) is a movie about a veteran-turned-smuggler (Vin Diesel) who agrees to traffic two women from a convent in Kyrgyzstan to New York City. One of the women had a supercomputer implanted in her brain at birth, and was supposed to be positioned as the virgin mother of a new messiah. This artificial messiah was to be wielded by the cynical head of a salvationist cult for her own power and enrichment.

The making of this film was so uniquely troubled that it became the subject of a documentary, and Vin Diesel puts on one of his most confusing performances ever as the likable human trafficker, Hugo Toorop. It was negatively received upon release, and reviewers considered its plot too derivative and action-heavy for the ambitious socio-political themes it employed.

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

4. Skyline (2010)
> Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller
> Director(s): Colin Strause, Greg Strause
> Starring: Eric Balfour, Donald Faison, Scottie Thompson, Brittany Daniel
> Box office gross: $21.4 million

Skyline (2010) is a traditional alien invasion movie that relies too heavily on special effects to make up for the lackluster dialogue that so often limits sci-fi films’ potential. Set in contemporary Los Angeles, the plot follows a group of friends’ attempt to survive the onslaught intact.

Skyline sets itself apart from other movies in that there is no point at which the protagonists’ survival seems possible, let alone likely. It relies almost exclusively on special effects to move the plot forward, and there’s very little to the movie other than the mass abduction of humans, a handful of differently-shaped aliens, and an incomprehensible amount of brains sucked out of people’s heads.

Source: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

3. Fantastic Four (2015)
> Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
> Director(s): Josh Trank, Stephen E. Rivkin
> Starring: Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell
> Box office gross: $56.1 million

Fantastic Four (2015) was intended to be a technical advancement over the goofier, more light-hearted 2005 attempt at rebooting the franchise. While it was indeed more impressive visually, the film itself would be considered so tedious and bland that the sequel (agreed to even before the first started filming) would be cancelled only three months after the first’s theatrical debut.

Source: Courtesy of Entertainment One

2. Left Behind (2014)
> Genre: Action, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
> Director(s): Vic Armstrong
> Starring: Nicolas Cage, Lea Thompson, Cassi Thomson, Chad Michael Murray
> Box office gross: $14.0 million

Left Behind (2014) is a film adaptation of a novel that tells the story of the Rapture as described in the Christian Bible, seen through the lives of those who remain on Earth to face the end of days. One of actor Nic Cage’s most unique performances, the viewer follows the unfaithful commercial airline pilot (who bears false witness to boot) and several others as scenes of turmoil erupt around the world and the individuals still there pick up the pieces.

Universally panned, the film is so poorly-written and acted that it feels more like a sensationalist piece of Christian moral propaganda destined for VHS rather than a big-screen interpretation of a best-selling novel.

Source: Courtesy of Lionsgate

1. Disaster Movie (2008)
> Genre: Comedy, Family, Sci-Fi
> Director(s): Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer
> Starring: Carmen Electra, Vanessa Lachey, Nicole Parker, Matt Lanter
> Box office gross: $14.2 million

While it may be the second spoof picture to make our list, Disaster Movie (2008) stands alone. It claims to tell the story of a group of friends coping with their regrets as they attempt to stop the apocalypse, but it is more a collection of pop culture references that have been smashed together beyond recognition. The solution itself is ripped directly from an Indiana Jones film, and done so in such a way that it is no more or less strange than everything that came before it.

Critics have considered it one of the worst films ever, remarkable for its being Kim Kardashian’s film acting debut, if nothing else.

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