Science fiction has always been a genre of the masses. Franchises like Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe have turned out some of the biggest and most beloved movies of all time — inspiring fan bases so large that they could easily fill the country of Wakanda ten times over. Of course, not ever sci-fi movie can be as influential or flawless as The Empire Strikes Back, Alien, or The Matrix, and there are plenty of lesser-known gems in the genre that are adorned by fans despite their flaws.
But while the general population has always had a soft spot for sci-fi flicks, critics have been far less forgiving. Even Avatar only managed to land an 83% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which might be a respectable score for most films, but considering it held the title of highest-grossing movie of all time for nearly a decade, one might expect something a bit higher.
That being said, there is still a fair share of sci-fi films which have managed to achieve a perfect or near-perfect score on the Tomatometer — indicating that the critics have all thought the movie was worth a watch. But there are far more sci-fi films within the genre where all the critics have aligned themselves on the other side of the equation, declaring that the movie isn’t worth anyone’s time. Unless, of course, you have a morbid curiosity with watching how something so appallingly bad could ever be made in the first place. Which we certainly wouldn't blame you for.
14 Sci-Fi Movies With 0% On Rotten Tomatoes (And 6 With 100%).
20 Mac and Me — 0%
Falling into the cult category of so-bad-its-good, Mac and Me follows a young boy who befriends an alien who has recently escaped prison from a government agency.
If this sounds like a knockoff of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial — Steven Spielberg’s beloved film that was released only six years earlier — that’s because it is.
But aside from being a shameless copy of the 1982 classic, Mac and Me is also chalk full of product placement for both Coca-Cola and McDonalds, which caused many to dismiss the project as an overlong commercial rather than a feature film.
Today, Mac and Me is enjoyed by many as a primary example of what not to do while making a science-fiction film. Or any film for that matter.
19 The Terminator — 100%
With 59 “Fresh” reviews, James Cameron’s 1984 futuristic action flick is the best-reviewed sci-fi movie on Rotten Tomatoes. While most would agree that T2 is the most entertaining of the franchise, sometimes you just have to give the most credit to the film that started it all.
The Terminator is largely responsible for launching the careers of both Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger, along with laying the foundation for a franchise that is still going strong today.
A Terminator reboot is currently in the works with a 2019 release. And although Cameron will return as a producer alongside stars Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton, it's unlikely that any future installment will be as ground-breaking or influential as the original.
18 Future World — 0%
The latest release on this list, Future World came out just earlier this year when it went straight to video-on-demand. And with a cast made up of James Franco, Lucy Liu, Milla Jovovich, and Snoop Dogg, this is one film that almost demands to be watched just out of a morbid curiosity alone.
But if Rotten Tomatoes is any indication, this sci-fi Western isn’t worth sitting through after all, as Future World was largely regarded as a Mad Max rip off — a post-apocalyptic series which received critical acclaim with its 2015 Fury Road re-boot.
Much like the Mad Max movies, Future World is set in a desert wasteland that has no shortage of motorcycles, munitions, and barbaric violence. Now if only the film had a cohesive story to set them to.
17 Max Steel — 0%
Max is a sullen teenager who ends up befriending an alien companion known as Steel after the passing of his father. But when the two allies join forces, they become known as Max Steel — a superhero who can harness the most powerful energy in the world.
This 2016 film is based on the Mattel toy line of the same name, which has never boded well when it comes to critical success.
But even audiences had to agree that Max Steel feels like a knockoff of every superhero origin story we've seen over the past few decades. Every scene feels redundant, forced, and totally uninspired. And unfortunately, talented actors such as Maria Bello (A History of Violence) and Andy Garcia (Ocean's Eleven) end up getting dragged along the ride.
16 Frankenstein — 100%
Based on the classic Mary Shelley novel of the same name, the 1931 adaptation of Frankenstein is arguably one of the most influential movies ever made — especially when it comes to the genres of science fiction and horror.
Even if most modern audiences have never sat through the film in its entirety, they should still be more than familiar with some of Frankenstein’s most iconic moments — including the “It’s alive!” scene, which has been parodied, re-made, and replayed so many times that it’s since become the stuff of cinema DNA.
Colin Clive’s performance as the brilliant-yet-mad Dr. Henry Frankenstein has also served as a template for a slew of movie mad scientists ever since, making this film’s 100% approval rating more than a little deserved.
15 Fortress 2: Re-Entry — 0%
Thanks to his performances in films including Highlander and Mortal Kombat, Christopher Lambert is somewhat of a favorite amongst cult film aficionados. Many of his movies aren’t exactly what one would call good, but they're thoroughly entertaining in a pulpy, B-movie sort of way.
The same can be said for the first Fortress film, which follows a married couple who are imprisoned after they’re caught trying to have a second child. The 1992 film received mix reviews but managed to pull in a respectable $48 million at the box office.
Unfortunately, the same can not be said for the 1999 sequel. Here, Lambert was the only returning cast member, and Fortress 2: ReEntry largely rehashed the same plot as the first but moved the setting to space. As if that was enough to automatically warrant a second outing.
14 The Anomaly — 0%
This 2015 sci-fi thriller follows Ryan Reeve, an ex-soldier who’s body is constantly being hijacked by others, causing him to regain consciousness in a number of sticky situations and leaving him with a limited amount of time to remedy the problem before his body is hijacked once again.
Critics on Rotten Tomatoes tend to agree that The Anomaly has an interesting premise, but that the movie fails in nearly every aspect of its execution; the plot is disjointed, the dialogue is corny, and the characters' motivations are inconsistent.
What's even more concerning is that The Anomaly features its fair share of accomplished actors, including Ian Somerhalder (Lost), Luke Hemsworth (Westworld), and Noel Clarke (Star Trek: Into Darkness). Yet none of their performances were worthy of a single positive review.
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13 War of the Worlds: Goliath — 0%
Serving as a sequel to the classic H.G. Wells novel, this 2014 animated sci-fi film is set fifteen years after the invasion of the Martians, where humans have used the abandoned alien technology to make massive scientific advancements.
The film follows Eric Wells, a soldier who survived the first Martian attack to go on to become an operator of one of the modified tripods as the world teeters toward WWI. Then, inevitably, the Martians launch a follow-up attack, this time bringing with them even more imposing machinery.
War of the Worlds: Goliath didn't manage to stir up much of a reaction at the time of its release. But for the few critics who did manage to review the film, the shoddy animation and flashes of brutal violence were apparently enough of a deterrent to recommend the movie to anyone.
12 Stranded — 0%
From his early work in films like Heathers and True Romance to his more recent projects including Archer and Mr. Robot, Christian Slater has appeared in his fair share of cult classics and mainstream hits. But he’s also headlined a number of lesser-known turkeys and straight-to-DVD duds. Such is the case with the 2013 sci-fi film Stranded.
Here, Slater plays Col. Gerard Brauchman, a military astronaut who is stationed on the moon when a meteor shower leaves the outpost severely damaged. And to make matters worse, the meteors have brought a deadly alien contagion with them.
Critics on Rotten Tomatoes tend to agree that Stranded is yet another movie trying to capture the terror and imagination of 1979's Alien, but failing miserably to bring anything new to the table.
11 Them! — 100%
A movie about giant ants performing unbelievable feats might seem a bit ridiculous by today’s standards. But then again, audiences flocked to theaters last month to check out Ant-Man and the Wasp, meaning they may be a little more likely to check out this perfectly-reviewed sci-fi horror film from the 1950s.
Them! was one of the many creature-features to be released in the decades following the development of nuclear weapons.
But critics agreed that the film far exceeded its B-movie premise — as it managed to capture the legitimate fears of movie-goers while also serving up a story that was unrealistic enough as to not fill them with total dread. Some cutting-edge special effects for the time certainly didn't hurt either.
10 The Angry Red Planet — 0%
Released in 1959, The Angry Red Planet follows a space probe which returns to Earth after a mission to Mars goes horribly wrong. Despite departing with four crew members, only two have returned, yet one is unconscious and the other, Iris, has no recollection of what happened. That is until Iris is put into a hypnotic state to unravel the mystery.
The film was written and directed by Ib Melchior, who was reportedly given $200,000 and a week and a half to shoot this sci-fi monster movie. And it probably didn’t help that Melchoir had never directed another feature film in his life.
Even upon its release, the corny special effects in The Angry Red Planet were lambasted by critics, making them downright laughable by today's standards.
9 Megaforce — 0%
With 13 Rotten Tomato critics giving this 1982 film an average rating of only 1.1 out of 10, it’s no mystery why Megaforce only managed to gross $5.7 million against a $20 million budget.
The sci-fi action film follows a group of military pros headed up by the legendary pilot Ace Hunter as they’re brought together to protect a small country from their evil neighbors.
The film was co-written and directed by former stuntman Hal Needham, making it no wonder that the film preoccupies itself on mind-numbing action sequences and features dialogue that resembles nothing close to real human interaction.
Megaforce even went on to be nominated for Worst Picture at the 3rd annual Golden Raspberry Awards.
8 The Invisible Man — 100%
Yet another Universal classic, The Invisible Man might not have nearly as much notoriety as Frankenstein and Dracula, but that hasn’t stopped the 1933 film from earning a perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Drawing inspiration from the H.G. Wells novel of the same name, the story follows Dr. Jack Griffin, a scientist who has discovered a drug that has rendered him invisible. But the breakthrough has come at the cost of his own sanity, driving the scientist towards madness.
Like a number of Pre-Code monster movies, The Invisible Man is far more frightening than many would expect out of an 85-year-old film — meaning that younger audiences can still get their fair share of thrills out of this sci-fi horror classic.
7 DeepStar Six — 0%
This 1989 sci-fi horror film follows a group of deep-sea engineers who are trying to establish an underwater colony for humans when they encounter a sea monster living below the Earth’s crust.
The film was immediately accused of being a knockoff of a number of other sci-fi horror films, including Ridley Scott’s 1979 masterpiece Alien, as well as James Cameron’s underwater thriller The Abyss, which was released earlier the same year.
But while plenty of movies have adopted a similar premise and managed to make it their own, DeepStar Six utterly fails by how easy it is to constantly predict what's going to happen next. And if there's one thing you don't want in a suspense movie, it's the audience knowing exactly what's lurking around the corner.
6 Atlas Shrugged: Who is John Galt? — 0%
Based on the 1957 book by Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged: Who is John Galt? is the third and (hopefully) final installment of the Atlas Shrugged film series. The sci-fi is set in the world where a repressive government has discouraged the most productive workers from doing their job, resulting in an economic collapse.
Much like the novel and the previous films in the series, this latest installment was once against panned by critics who accused the movie of being heavy-handed and pushing its ideology over any form of coherent and engaging storytelling.
To make matters worse, the cast from the first two films was once again changed, and Atlas Shrugged: Who is John Galt? was yet another box office bomb. One has to wonder how this series ever managed to get three movies deep in the first place.
5 Stalker — 100%
A writer, a professor, and their tour guide travel into a supernatural area known as the “Zone,” where the laws of nature do not apply. Yet the perilous journey may yield the traveler anything their heart desires.
This is the basic premise of the trippy, slow-burning 1979 sci-fi by Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, who also hemmed the slightly better-known Solaris a few years prior.
While Stalker might not be for everyone thanks to its ambiguous storyline and deliberately slow pace, critics agree that the film is hypnotic, thought-provoking, and highly influential. In fact, it’s not hard to see how Stalker could have even served as inspiration for this year’s Annihilation — another sci-fi masterpiece which was under-appreciated at the time of its release.
4 Alien from L.A. — 0%
By and large, audiences tend to be a little more generous when it comes to ranking schlocky sci-fi movies. But with both a critics rating of 0% and an audience score of only 4%, it’s clear that Alien from L.A. has little to no redeeming qualities.
The 1988 movie stars world-famous supermodel Kathy Ireland in her feature film debut as Wanda Saknussemm, a nerdy Los Angeles native who end up falling down a tunnel toward the lost city of Atlantis where she makes a few friends and many more enemies.
Even for a B-movie, Alien from L.A. is cringingly bad, especially Ireland’s wooden and uncharismatic performance as the film’s lead.
Yet miraculously, Ireland reprised the same role the following year in 1989’s Journey to the Center of the Earth.
3 Xchange — 0%
Yet another bomb with an interesting premise, this 2000 movie is set in a future where it's possible to exchange one’s consciousness with another person’s body — thus illuminating the time needed to travel long distances.
As if that wasn’t already enough of a promising foundation for a sci-fi B-movie, Xchange also features cult-favorite actors Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks), Stephen Baldwin (The Unusual Suspects), and Kim Coates (Sons of Anarchy).
But the result was another massive misfire, weighed down Baldwin’s cringe-worthy performance and a cheap production design.
Even worse, Xchange fails to explore its premise in any truly thought-provoking ways. It's as if swapping bodies is only good when you need to talk to someone on the other side of the country. Wouldn't a video chat just be easier?
2 Terminator 2: Judgment Day 3D — 100%
While the original Terminator 2 managed to kick up a highly-respectable 92% approval rating, it was actually the 2017 3D release that landed the perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes.
This might be due to the fact that the critics who already loved the original were the only ones to review the re-release. Or maybe it was because the 1991 film has held up remarkably well over time. But either way, there’s no denying that T2 is one of the greatest sci-fi and action movies ever made.
While the original Terminator has sort of a low-budget appeal, T2 is bigger, louder, and flashier in all the right ways — making it essential viewing for even the most casual of cinephiles.
1 Solarbabies — 0%
Every once in a while a big budget movie hits screens and is so appallingly bad that people ponder for decades how the film ever got made in the first place.
Such is the case with the 1986 sci-fi film Solarbabies, which was made on a then-respectable budget of $25 million, yet managed to make just over $1.5 million at the box office.
The film follows a group of teens living in a water-limited world where they keep themselves busy by playing a game of roller-hockey meets lacrosse — as if they weren’t already thirsty enough. Then throw in an alien orb which gives the teens supernatural powers to fight the forces that be and you have Solarbabies, a movie that truly deserves its 0% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
So do you think these sci-fi films have earned their extreme ratings? Let us know!
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