Odds are, you’ve probably see some of the worst fantasy films throughout the years. These are films that often have great trailers and at least a decent concept, but flop terribly when you actually see them. Of course, some of these are probably guilty pleasures. But, if you’re looking for great fantasy films, you might want to skip over these.
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1. Kazaam (1996) – 5%
Shaquille O’Neal as a genie (Kazaam) in the modern world who abandons his young master. What could go wrong? I remember watching this one as a kid and laughing at just how corny it was. The entire movie felt like one of those overly dramatic and silly Nickelodeon shows versus a big budget movie.
Max, played by Francis Capra, just wants to meet his father, but Kazaam is more interested in a music career. Of course, let’s throw in a local gang and a bad club owner as the villains and you have the makings of one of the worst fantasy films.
If you’re bored and just love Shaq, then check it out. Otherwise, move on.
2. Eragon (2006) – 16%
Eragon was the film adaption of Christopher Paolini’s Eragon. It was the first book in a four-part series. I’ll give you a piece of advice – read the book, skip the movie. While the movie wasn’t necessarily bad, it lacked any of the passion and excitement of the book.
While a movie about a dragon and a evil monarch played by John Malkovich should’ve been amazing, it fell flat. I was excited for this movie myself, but it felt like a poorly made YouTube fan flick instead.
Maybe one day, someone else will try to make these books into a movie series again as they really do deserve screen time.
3. Dungeons & Dragons (2000) – 10%
With Jeremy Irons as the evil Profion trying to usurp young Savina (Thora Birch) to rule the Kingdom of Izmer, Dungeons & Dragons should’ve been at least a decent fantasy film. But, between incredibly bad acting and even worse special effects, the movie just left fans asking “why did I even bother?”
Fans of D&D were excited to begin with, but lets just say it’s definitely better to just play D&D than spend a single minute watching what feels more like sad attempt at a fantasy parody than a serious fantasy contender. As the tagline says “This is no game.” Nope, it’s not a game and it’s not fun. Let’s just hope the 2023 Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves isn’t as big of a disappointment.
4. The Last Airbender (2010) – 5%
M. Night Shyamalan knows how to make some incredible movies, and also some movies you’d rather just forget. The Last Airbender aims to be the live-action version of the popular American anime-inspired series Avatar: The Last Airbender. The series was amazing and fans loved it worldwide. So, what went wrong with the movie adaptation?
A story about an Avatar who can telekinetically control the four elements should’ve transitioned to live-action quite well. But, an abysmal script, terrible effects, and a less than enthusiastic cast left fans running back to the animated series.
5. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008) – 13%
As a fan of the first two movies in the series, I was thrilled about seeing The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. It had a similar premise of an ancient, powerful evil awakening. While I went through the agony of watching this film, you don’t have to. The first issue was replacing the Evelyn (the wife) with Maria Bello. After two movies with Rachel Weisz in the role, Bello really didn’t fit.
And somehow the story went from a fun, fantasy adventure to tired and strained. Even Brendan Fraser didn’t work as the heroic and comedic Rick O’Connell and Jet Li couldn’t save this one either. This was really when the film franchise died, even though a few other straight to TV movies were made. As one of the worst fantasy films, avoid this one and just watch the first two instead.
6. The Legend of Hercules (2014) – 5%
While everyone knows the story of Hercules, everyone could’ve gone their whole life without seeing The Legend of Hercules. While Kellan Lutz definitely gives off the whole tough, hero, demigod vibe, that’s where the good part ends. Actually, let’s just say the movie poster is where the best part of this film stops.
The story is what you’d expect – a Hercules origin story of Zeus’s discarded half-god, half-human son. If this was released straight to SyFy, no one would’ve batted an eye. But a theater blockbuster movie? Nope. Just watch the 2014 Hercules with Dwayne Johnson or even the animated Disney Hercules instead.
7. Fantastic Four (2015) – 9%
Sometimes, a reboot isn’t necessary. The 2015 Fantastic Four reboot is easily one of the worst fantasy films. While the 2005 version has a 28% Rotten Tomatoes rating, it’s still a fun fantasy superhero flick. The story is the same. Four people get incredible powers from an alternate universe. It should be fantasy gold.
Instead, Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, the Thing, and the Human Torch missed the mark. Somehow the mix of Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, and Jamie Bell couldn’t come close to matching the chemistry of the 2005 cast. Plus, the movie never had the same comedic flair, which fans loved.
Overall, it’s a forgettable reboot you shouldn’t bother with unless you just love comparing the two versions. Let’s hope the new reboot in 2025 will be much better.
8. Artemis Fowl (2020) – 8%
When Eoin Colfer wrote the epic adventures of Artemis Fowl, he probably never imagined how terrible the big screen adaption would be. Disney’s Artemis Fowl failed to wow audiences as well as the books. While the trailer didn’t look bad, the movie about a young criminal mastermind who finds a hidden society of fairies while trying to save his father isn’t nearly as exciting as it sounds.
Artemis seems far too innocent and sweet in the movie. Instead of a witty mastermind, he just appears shocked and in awe all the time. Instead of world building, there’s some quick narration that doesn’t answer any real questions. Sadly, what could’ve been a great fantasy movie turned out to be one of the worst fantasy films.
9. Season of the Witch (2011) – 11%
When Nicolas Cage stars in a movie, it’s either going to be a fun ride or forgettable. Season of the Witch is an action, adventure, fantasy about a knight returning from the Crusades only to step right into the middle of the Black Plague. All the knight and his friend has to do is take a witch to some monks to get rid of her powers and make the plague go away.
Naturally, if the town hadn’t accused women of witchcraft and tried to kill them, none of this would’ve happened. As it turns out, they really were witches and a witch exorcism (witchorcism?) is needed to save the world. With Cage and Ron Perlman, you’d expect more. Don’t set your expectations too high with this one.
While trying to be a serious movie, it’s a campy mess. It’d been better off as a sort of parody or comedy. At least then, there’d be a reason to watch.
10. Highlander II: The Quickening (1991) – 0%
After the success of Highlander, how could Highlander II: The Quickening become one of the worst fantasy films of all time? The fantasy series is about a race of immortals that can only live a human life after killing and stealing the powers of all others of their race. The tagline says it all “There can be only one.”
Christopher Lambert once again plays Connor MacLeod with Sean Connery playing fellow immortal Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez. That’s where the similarities end. The sequel ignores much of the mythology established in the first film, adds a bunch of weird sci-fi elements, and offers up some truly laughable special effects (even for the time period).
Do yourself a favor and skip over this movie. It’ll just ruin everything that was awesome about the first film.
Want some fantasy films to look forward to? Check out these upcoming fantasy films, which include a remake of Eragon (fingers crossed it’ll be good this time). While you’re waiting, try out some of these geeky hobbies.
Image credit: Cederic Vandenberghe via Unsplash