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The best 'so bad they were good' movies of the decade
Welcome to SYFY WIRE's Decade in Review, a series of articles that will look to catalog the best, worst, and weirdest cultural and entertainment moments of the 2010s as we look toward the future. Today, we look to the movies that were so bad they were entertainingly good.
We all love to watch them, those movies where one part of your brain says, “This is terrible,” while another, more fun part of your brain says, “This is amazing!” Sometimes we want to watch Oscar-worthy performances, but sometimes we just want to chomp on some popcorn and watch a movie that’s dumb or silly or weird or mindlessly action-packed.
The last decade has given us plenty of films that could hold the “So Bad It Was Good” moniker. There are some, however, that stand above the rest with their glorious terribleness; read on for a list of some of the best cringe-worthy, delightfully awful yet utterly enjoyable movies.
01. Nic Cage films
You can’t have a “So Bad It’s Good List” without mentioning the king of good-bad movies, Nic Cage. The actor was busy in the last decade, with IMDb crediting him with 40 films from 2010-2019. These are just a few Nic Cage gems that deserve a special call-out.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010)
Nic Cage is a sorcerer named Balthazar Blake. That’s it, that’s all you really need to know to understand why this film is on the list. For those looking for more though, Balthazar spends centuries trying to find Merlin’s heir, as only the Prime Merlinian can kill the evil Morgana.
Balthazar eventually finds the heir in present-day New York City and helps the young man claim his power and (sorry, spoiler) defeat Morgana. Cage also rides a magically mechanical eagle a couple of times, which alone makes this movie worth watching.
Season of the Witch (2011)
Nic Cage is a 13th Century Teutonic Knight named Sir Behmen von Bliebruck (again, I rest my case as to why this movie is listed here). Ron Perlman is his fellow knight in the movie, and they gallivant across a plague and witch-ridden countryside in order to…well it doesn’t really matter what; the important thing is that Cage gets to be dramatic and valiant while fighting and killing things.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011)
Nic Cage is the Marvel superhero Johnny Blaze, aka The Ghost Rider. This sequel to the 2007 film is well, not as good. It still has Nic Cage being Nic Cage though, and Idris Elba is also in the movie playing a French monk, so there are a few not-so-bad things to keep you entertained while they plod through a plot that deals with the dangers of birthing demonic offspring.
The Humanity Bureau (2017)
Want to see Nic Cage be a Nic Cage who isn’t fighting witches or demons? Don’t worry — there’s The Humanity Bureau, a dystopian science fiction thriller where the eponymous government agency rules the land and cares only about efficiency. Efficiency! Those deemed to be too unproductive are banished! Unjustly! The Humanity Bureau has dark, evil secrets!
Don’t worry though — intrepid caseworker Noah Kross (Nic Cage) is on the, um, case; only he, with his Nic Cage theatrics, can save a young mother and her son from the dark clutches of the Bureau.
Between Worlds (2018)
Nic Cage is a guy named Joe (just Joe, no last name), a man haunted by the deaths of his wife and daughter, who ends up channeling the spirit of his dead wife through a spiritually gifted woman. This movie, unlike the other Cage films listed above, is not as, well, silly. It is, however, extremely dark and extremely weird. If extra-weird Nic Cage is your jam though, it’s worth a watch.
02. Battleship (2012)
Whenever I played Battleship as a child, I always thought, “Gee, I hope they make a movie out of this game someday!” I’m lying, of course, because no rational thinking person would ever think that.
Hollywood decided to make it anyway, and at least had the good sense to give Rhianna her film acting debut and make it about aliens from outer space invading Earth (you know, just like the board game). Like the Transformers franchise, what Battleship lacks in good dialogue and logical plot, it makes up for with impressive special effects and larger-than-life battle scenes.
03. The last three Twilight movies (2010, 2011, 2012)
Did you know there are five Twilight movies? Only three of them were released in the last decade, and by that point, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) has already married the vampire love her life, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), but still has the shirtless werewolf Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) mooning over her.
Don’t worry though — things get sorted out in the final film when Bella gets turned into a vampire and Jacob realizes that he’s romantically in love with Bella’s INFANT DAUGHTER, which totally makes sense and isn’t creepy at all. If torrid love triangles are your jam, however, you’ll love Twilight as much as the millions of others out there who soaked these movies up.
04. Hansel and Gretel, Witch Hunters (2013)
This 2013 rendition of the classic fairy tale has the grown-up Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) taking on a life of witch-hunting, where they’re not afraid to kill witches, drop a few F-Bombs, and kick some ass.
The concept is, well, silly. But the movie embraces this, with Hansel and Gretel dishing out cheesy lines while shooting gnarly witches with steampunk-inspired blunderbusses and double-shooting crossbows. Famke Janssen also plays a wonderful villain, a witch who happily pulls apart unsuspecting village men for fun. If you’re looking for something full of cartoonish violence and gratuitous gore in a Gothic fairytale-like setting, then give this film a try.
05. Jupiter Ascending (2015)
This big-budget space opera production by the Wachowskis has Channing Tatum playing a flying space dog named Cain Wise, who saves/falls in love with Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), a human who happens to be genetically identical to the dead matriarch of super-human beings who harvest humans to stay ever-young looking and immortal. Yup, that’s it, that’s the plot!
Some other stuff happens too, but I don’t recommend trying to keep track of what’s going on; the best way to watch this movie is to just let the gorgeous visuals wash over you, and to avoid thinking about kind, sweet Newt Scamander when taking in Eddie Redmayne’s wonderfully creepy performance as Balem Abrasax.
06. The Transformers films (2011, 2014, 2017)
Three Transformers movies came out in the last decade that are delectably terrible. (The one I’m not counting here is Bumblebee, a spinoff of the original franchise which, in my opinion, is just a good movie, plain and simple.)
In 2011, the third Michael Bay Transformers movie, Dark of the Moon, graced the big screen. It was, sadly, the last Transformers film that starred Shia LaBeouf. But it was also the first Transformers film that used 3D technology to make those explosions even more exciting.
The fourth movie, Age of Extinction, brought Mark Wahlberg into the fray, and things went boom! The fifth film, The Last Knight, has the distinction of being the most poorly rated by critics on Rotten Tomatoes (15%). The movie did give fans of larger-than-life special effects what they wanted, though not much else. If fighting robots who turn into trucks and blow things up sometimes is your thing, however, you’d be hard-pressed to find something better to watch than a Transformers movie.
07. Serenity (2019)
Don’t worry Firefly fans, I’m not talking about the 2005 Joss Whedon film here; I’m talking about the 2019 movie Serenity starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway. Fans of the two actors may like this movie because those actors are in it. Even if you aren’t hardcore McConaughey or Hathaway fans, though, it still might be worth seeing if you like yelling, “That was so dumb — WTF did I just watch?!” at the end of a film.
This is not an exhaustive list, of course. I tried to keep it to genre films (that’s why 50 Shades of Grey isn't on this list) as well as films that could be considered bad but got decent critic reviews.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBC Universal.