A little less than two weeks ago, I posted my list of the best science fiction films of 2011. There were some really great sci-fi films this year and I was happy for the opportunity to make that list. Unfortunately, they can’t all be hits. As a companion piece the previous list, here are the worst science fiction films of 2011.

Transformers 3

For the sake of giving credit where credit is due, the first Transformers film was a lot of fun. I don’t know if I’d go as far as call it a good film, but it was enjoyable. Transformers 2 was a trainwreck of epic proportions by almost all accounts and remains one of the worst films I’ve ever seen. Last year saw the release of Transformers 3, which ended up being slightly better than Transformers 2, and I do mean slightly. A messy, loud, jingoistic nightmare, the third entry in the robots fighting robots saga suffered from an almost non-existent script, poor character development, and forced chemistry between LaBeouf and Megan Fox’s replacement. The film is exactly what we’ve come to expect from Michael Bay, which makes it no surprise that it was one of the worst films of the year. If Michael Bay were to stop all filmmaking efforts today, I wouldn’t miss him. If nothing else, I’ll always have The Rock.

Battle: L.A.

For shame, Aaron Eckhart. Just a few short years ago, you played a major character in The Dark Knight, 2008’s biggest hit and one of the most, if not the most, critically-acclaimed superhero films of all-time. Fast forward a few years and you’re headlining an alien invasion flick that, despite having a sizable budget and major studio power behind it, manages to be boring of all things? Even Transformers 3 wasn’t this boring (although it had countless more problems). While it could have been a superior version of Independence Day, re-creating every war movie ever made and simply replacing the enemy soldiers with aliens doesn’t exactly make for a unique and interesting picture. There was just nothing compelling about this been-there, done-that sci-fi blockbuster. And, like Transformers 3, Battle: Los Angeles dragged on far too long.


This wasn’t a good year for Los Angeles-based alien invasion movies. The one good thing I can say about Skyline is that it managed to be just as not good as Battle: Los Angeles but with a less impressive cast and one-seventh of the production budget. I enjoyed rooting for Eric Balfour when he was on 24, but I can’t really get behind him as a leading man. To be fair, Skyline gets points for its pulp elements and it may have been able to coast by as pure entertainment, if the shallow characters and lazy performances hadn’t made it such a chore to slog through. And the real shame? The last few minutes manage to be better than the other one-hundred-thirty odd minutes combined, but it saves nothing and only serves to remind you of what the film could have been.

Mars Needs Moms

Remember when Robert Zemeckis made films with actual people in them? If it weren’t for the Back to the Future trilogy, I probably wouldn’t. He’s a good filmmaker, but you wouldn’t know it due to his obsession with touring the uncanny valley every few years. Mars Needs Moms is his latest and most likely last motion-capture film due to it tanking incredibly at the box office, making less than $22M on a $150M budget. I don’t think it deserved to bomb that hard. I’ve seen much, much worse films than Mars Needs Moms. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a terrible film. When Milo’s mother is kidnapped by Martians, he goes on a one-boy rescue mission to get her back. That has a lot of room for creative potential, but with zero imagination and absolutely zero heart, Mars Needs Moms is just one more uninspired fish-out-of-water tale. And the script doesn’t even have the courtesy to follow through on the subplot, ignoring it for most of the picture and then neatly wrapping it up at the end. I’ve never seen so little effort put into a product that required so much work.

The Thing

That was a close call, Green Lantern. If it weren’t for this dull, heartless prequel to one of my favorite films of all time, your emerald tuchus would be in this spot. Taking place immediately before Carpenter’s version, 2011’s The Thing tells the story of the Norwegian scientists who originally find the alien trapped in the ice. Green Lantern may have been painfully mediocre, but The Thing doesn’t even manage to reach that bar. As a huge fan of John Carpenter’s 1982 film as well as horror in general, I thought for sure I’d find a way to justify liking this critically-panned prequel. I was wrong. I liked it a whole hell of a lot more than the other films on this list, it has that going for it, but we’re comparing apples to rotten apples here. An incredibly formulaic fare, it will only please gorehounds with the lowest of expectations. I could forgive the crappy CGI and the horrendously unrestrained third act if only the film had an ounce of the atmosphere that the original produced so well.

I didn’t get a chance to see Apollo 18, which might’ve made this list if the reviews are to be believed, but with these five films, I managed to fill my whining quota. There were just as many mediocre science fiction films that came out last year, but that would make for a pretty boring list, truth be told.

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