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May 20th, 2018

Seven Cinematic Turkeys We’re Thankful For

Do people use the word “turkey” to describe poor movies anymore? I don’t hear it very much these days, but I’m going to use it for the purposes of writing this timely article.

I don’t believe in “bad” movies. Just because a movie isn’t of quality doesn’t mean that you can’t learn something from it or enjoy something about it. To me, “bad” movies are those films that are completely worthless; the ones you can’t get anything out of — not even a laugh.

So, in honor of Thanksgiving, here are seven turkeys that I’m thankful for. These aren’t the greatest turkeys or even the worst of the worst. They’re just seven movies that either I like despite their terribleness or am glad that exist because they teach us valuable lessons about how to to make a movie.

There are a few too many geek adaptations, but hopefully you’re into that.


To put Torque on this list is a bit misleading, as it’s very obviously meant to be a parody but was not accepted as such. Torque actor Adam Scott even says so in an episode of Doug Loves Movies, which vindicates me so much after all the times I’ve had to defend this movie to people. Further proof: Adam Scott was in Piranha 3D, another movie made as a parody.

To many people this is just a bad movie with CG motorcycle riding and a scene where two people use their bikes to swordfight. So, Torque kind of snuck by as a bad movie so it totally belongs on this list. Which means you read this thinking “Yeah! Danny’s going to make fun of that terrible Fast and the Furious clone!” but I regret to inform you that it was all made for a laugh. So go watch it and enjoy the gleeful stupidity at work.


Three Punisher movies and this one’s Dolph Lungren-starring predecessor ends up better than this 2004 effort where Frank Castle (Thomas Jane) goes out for revenge in crime-ridden Tampa Bay, FL that ends up an extended episode of Punk’d where everyone dies at the end.

Jane (another relative unknown cast in a major superhero role) could have been a great Punisher in the right movie. This is not that movie. This is a movie where John Travolta cashes a paycheck and Will Patton desperately tries to hold the movie together with honest character acting. Yes, there’s that cool scene where he fights a Johnny Cash-like assassin and some bits from Garth Ennis’ “Welcome Back, Frank” story, but those are brief flashes of good amidst a lot of bad.

Jonathan Hensleigh made a filim that teaches us a valuable lesson: how not to make a Punisher movie. Don’t set the movie in Tampa (screenwriter Michael France’s backyard — writing what you know or obvious laziness?), don’t skimp on the violence, and don’t make a movie where the Punisher does little punishing. Thankfully Lexi Alexander and Ray Stevenson made up for this with the incredibly violent Punisher War Zone.


This X-Men spin-off made a ton of money, yes, but it was garbage — a period piece (?) that doesn’t feel very period and pretty much throws the cinematic continuity out of whack. It only took a few hundred issues for the X-Men comics to make the stories weirdly convoluted and confusing — the movies did it in four.

The Wolverine movie is a hilarious trainwreck of horrendous CG, gloriously quotable one-liners by (but only ironically) and way too many characters even for an X-Men story). And then there’s the adamantium bullet.

However, the greatest sin X-Men Origins: Wolverine ever committed was introducing Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool only to sew his mouth shut in the climax. That’s like making a Punisher movie where he doesn’t use any guns.


Don’t freak out: Old Dogs is even worse than the trailer. And that’s because it’s longer than two minutes.

Old Dogs has to be the least funny movie I’ve ever seen, with dozens of non-jokes, nut-shots, and bizarro digressions — that scene where Bernie Mac turns Robin Williams into a robot? WTF? And why does Robin Williams need so much help just hanging out with his kids? Can’t he be a human being? The movie makes me ask a lot of questions that have no answer.

More importantly, Old Dogs reminds us not to take good comedy for granted again. You think Judd Apatow’s played out? Watch Old Dogs and then watch Get Him to the Greek and realize that you are very, very wrong.


As an adaptation Street Fighter, stinks. The moment somebody’s going to do some fighting Guile comes in and arrests everyone. It’s the kind of movie that misses its own point (see: The Punisher, 2004). Instead of a movie where people fight (preferably in the street), it’s the second best G.I. Joe movie ever made.

But I absolutely love Street Fighter in all its merciless silliness. Take, for example, the film’s final set piece, where every single character dons their video game duds and dukes it out. Some of them even do their trademark moves from the game — which, if you’ll remember, include FIREBALLS — turning the movie into a bit of magic realism.


And now we have the best G.I. Joe movie ever made. Unlike a lot of the other movies on this list G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra lives up to its premise — a ninja appears like five minute in, there’s lots of bases and explosions and vehicles. It’s the most perfect adaptation of G.I. Joe there could possibly be.

Even better is that it doesn’t even try to be a gritty, realistic adaptation of a stupid 1980s cartoon (see: Transformers). It tries to be a live-action cartoon, and succeeds swimmingly. If it didn’t have Channing Tatum and Marlon Wayans in it, I’d consider it the greatest movie ever made.


I must live in Bizarro World, because when Doom came out everybody raved about the first-person shooter sequence despite how terribly rendered it was. The sequence, while a cool idea I suppose, had no weight to it. It felt like watching someone play a video game on a movie screen. I liked the bit everybody ignored.

The moment where Doom approaches the territory of decent movie happens somewhere in the middle, when the soldiers are arguing whether to kill a group of survivors or to save them. While it’s fairly standard in war movies, to see an adaptation of a video game venture into that territory is surprising. Also, it leads to a shocking twist that I don’t think anybody saw coming.


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