Our Ten’s List: Insane Movies Based on Toys!
Tis the season of gift giving, and if you thought Black Friday shoppers were scary, check out these ten awful movies inspired by toys.
It’s official. Now that Hollywood has pretty much rebooted or remade every show with nostalgia value, it’s time to turn their jaundiced eyes towards our toy boxes. The pillaging of video game franchises (many way past their peak popularity but not old enough to elicit fond memories) has reached it’s peak, so expect Hollywood to mercilessly shake the Hasbro tree until every single dollar falls out of it.
This year we had Max Steel, a line of toys only popular in South America, and Trolls, a line of toys that is old enough to vote and buy scratch tickets. We covered in our news round-up how Furby and Candy Land are heading to the big screen soon, but here is the full list of toy movies already underway: Monopoly, Barbie (live action), He-Man (live action), Voltron (live action), Jumanji (again!), View-Master (not making this up, Dreamworks owns the rights), RISK (Will Smith has his mitts on this one), and Stretch Armstrong (Universal is apparently hoping to book Taylor Lautner in this bad boy.) Oh wow.
So, those all look like they’ll suck. But you know what, they’re in good company. Toy based movies are usually so bad, they make video game based movies look like Spartacus. Here are my ten nominations for the most bonkers adaptations of toys turned into film.
10. Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation.
This sequel prequel tells the story of the Care Bears first mission. The young brightly colored bears with symbols on their tummies team up with their cousins, imaginatively called The Care Bear Cousins. They head to a summer camp where a young girl is being tempted by a charismatic kid named Dark Heart, who happens to be indwelt by Satan.
What Went Wrong: “…kid named Dark Heart, who happens to be indwelt by Satan.”
This film really is all over the place tonally. The first Care Bear Movie was pretty tame, introducing much of the merchandise in a fairly standard riff on “the sorcerer’s apprentice.” This film decides that the Care Bears need more of a challenge, so the group gets to go demon hunting. Dark Heart is pretty…dark…for a kids animated movie. At least know we know you can use bright lights and rainbows to exorcise the lord of hell out of a kid. For more reasons why this movie is a horror show, check out our Movies That Ruined My Childhood feature on it.
9. GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords.
The GoBots, sentient robots who disguise themselves (poorly) as vehicles, are living peacefully on their home-world Gobotron (and they need to disguise themselves as human vehicles why?) when a ship crash lands with two Rock Lords, creatures that can change into rocks. Yup. Rocks. The pair are looking for aid to help stop Magmar from defeating all of the Rock Lords and using their power to fuel a doomsday machine. The GoBots agree to help, but their rivals the Renegades are also hoping to gain control of the weapon.
What Went Wrong: Robots who change into rocks.
The GoBots get a lot of hate for being cheap knock-offs of the Transformers, but that’s not fair. They actually came out first, and their first (and only) wide release movie beat the Transformers Movie to theaters by the better part of a year. So I don’t hate GoBots for being knock-offs. I hate them for being boring and unimaginative. As toys, they’re awful. They “transform” into vehicles like my legs “transform” into my lap, by bending at two joints. Real toy cars turn into better looking robots just by having doors that can open. The Rock Lords are like Origami boulders, you just mash them until they look vaguely spherical and stone-like. Awful.
As a movie, Battle of the Rock Lords is likewise boring and unimaginative. It really is just a stretched out episode of the show, minus the exposition. You neither know nor care why anything is happening, and the film relies on the oldest canard in the super-hero book, a secret super weapon. Yawn.
8. Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer.
A spoiled princess is stealing Spectra gems, which is causing the universe to grow cold and dark…or you know, colder and darker than it already is. Which is pretty damn cold and dark. Anywho, Rainbow Brite is in charge of keeping things bright and seasonally adjusted, so she has to try to convince the greedy potentate to stop destroying the world.
What Went Wrong: The art is a horrendous mish-mash.
Rainbow Brite is a pretty decent flick, though it is confused as all hell when it comes to its own mythology and how the natural world functions. That’s fine, it’s a show based on a brightly colored doll who has tattoos, despite looking all of 5 years old. This is the first suggestion of how Rainbow Brite goes so wrong: nothing seems to match. Rainbow Brite looks partly like a little girl, partly like a gnome who shaved his beard. Her horse Starlight is drawn in lavish detail, but the other cuddly creatures of Rainbowland look like cheap Muppet Baby knock-offs. She meets a young warrior and his robotic horse who look like rejects from a Mega Man game. The Dark Princess looks like one of the Misfits from Jem and the Holograms. Nothing matches up or looks like it is supposed to be in the same movie.
This film is a toddler grabbing random colorful accessories from their mother’s closet and putting them on. It’s cute on a kid, terrifying on whatever the hell Rainbow Brite is supposed to be.
7. Robosapien: Rebooted.
An inventor creates a life-like mini robot to help humanity, but finds out that they corporation paying the bills wants to use his invention as a war machine. A tiny, adorable, weapon-less war machine. So he wipes its memory and helps it escape. Out in the world, it meets a young boy and forms a friendship, only to have his memories return. They try to reunite the robot with the inventor, but the evil corporation has kidnapped him and the young boys mother in order to get the robot back.
What Went Wrong: They already made this movie and it was called Short Circuit (and it was a heck of a lot more fun.)
I already don’t trust Robosapien because the manufacturer’s name is WowWee. You don’t need to name your self that if your toys are actually any good.
The movie itself is a largely forgettable affair with wooden acting, a bog-standard plot, and some pretty lazy CG. The worst sin is that this film makes a robot that is both better and worse than the actual product. The actual toy looks much cooler, and more applicable as a war machine. The movie robot can fly. This means if you start with the toy, you’re going to be confused by why the movie robot looks so crappy. If you start with the movie, you’re going to be pissed when your robot keeps bumping into objects instead of popping out turbo jets and sailing the fuck over them. Either way, it’s going to be a lousy Christmas morning.
6. GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)
GI Joe is a group of clandestine soldiers who take on missions that are of a sensitive nature. A botched op leads to former allies going rogue and forming a terrorist organization, Cobra, that seeks world domination.
What Went Wrong: 2 + 2 = -1?
It’s hard to fathom how this movie went wrong. You have the perfect set up for an action film. You have an interesting roster of heroes and villains. You have a mind boggling amount of talent: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Lee Byung-Hun, Jonathan Price, Sienna Miller, Christopher Eccleston, and Dennis Quaid. This movie should have had all of the pieces to be at least entertaining, but wound up being completely asinine. The action was uninspired, the dialogue was over-boiled, and everyone seemed to be either way too serious or just mugging for a paycheck. Despite having all of the named characters from GI Joe, everybody felt generic, to the point that I didn’t recognize half the characters, despite loving the toys and cartoons. The movie seems ashamed of its source material despite depending on it for any sense of identity.
5. Max Steel
Max is a young man who lost his father in a lab accident. Returning to his home town after a decade away, he discovers odd powers that attract the attention of paramilitary soldiers…and two different sets of aliens. One, named Steel, wants to partner with Max to save the world. The other aliens want to harvest Max’s abilities, drain his power, and destroy the world.
What Went Wrong: They forgot they were selling toys.
Max Steel wants to be a super-hero movie so badly that it forgets to have any fun with its universe. There is too much set up for too little pay off. We only see the bad guys for about ten minutes, and we only get one fight in the whole film. While the fight is good, it’s against another human. How are you supposed to sell toys when there are really only two characters worth owning? This thing should have been packed to the gills with crazy fights, seeing as it was the only thing they got right. At least that way you could sell a billion action figures and maybe get a direct-to-video sequel, instead of getting laughed out of the theater.
Four friends entering high school have their friendship tested by social pressure to join cliques and only socialize within those narrow communities. A talent contest gives them the chance to reunite and show how each girl’s passion and interests can intersect and make each other stronger.
What Went Wrong: Who would have guessed a film based on “Bratz” was air-headed and shallow?
The whole point of the Bratz toys is the fantasy of identifying with these alien looking, self obsessed divas. They have the personality of socialite pond scum and make Barbie look well-rounded. Trying to shoe-horn this product into a generic film about making friends and belonging to a more meaningful social structure rings false. It’s like making a GI Joe movie about pacifism or a Barbie movie about shunning beauty standards. The whole thing is torpedoed from the get-go as we see each of these girls are glamorous and talented to impossible degrees. You might as well watch Revenge of the Nerds and root for the jocks the whole time.
3. Jem and the Holograms
Jerrica Benton is a dreamer who wants to play music, but is too shy to actually perform for anyone but her family. Her sister and two foster-sisters form a band, but can’t convince Jerrica to take the next step. One day she discovers that their house is going to be taken away, so she wears an 80’s rock star disguise and makes an energetic song about her feelings. The song becomes a viral hit and turns her alternate persona, Jem, into a hit. Unfortunately, show biz threatens to destroy the girls’ relationship when a greedy promoter just wants Jem instead of all four of the girls.
What Went Wrong: They turned a fun and subversive show for girls into The Voice.
Jem and the Holograms is dull and vanilla. Once again, the whole ethos of the series rings false. A story about finding your voice and identity is swallowed up in a gaping maw of generic “found fortune” tropes, generic characters, and silly conflicts. The film could have really benefited from the rivalry Jem had with another band called the Misfits, a counterpoint which showed how dangerous fame could be if you strive after it for the wrong reasons. The current run of Jem and Holograms for IDW comics captures much more of the interpersonal drama of the band, and helps to return the property to a fun and subversive outlet for girls who are tired of soulless fashion dolls like Bratz or Barbie.
A Navy fleet encounters an armada of alien ships in the Pacific, and is forced to confront the technologically superior threat to save mankind.
What Went Wrong: Michael Bay.
Hasbro must have loved the sweet money they made by partnering with Michael Bay and wanted more of the same from director Peter Berg and Battleship. The result is a roided up farce that struggles to keep a straight face through all of the canned dialogue, macho posturing, and ludicrous spectacle. The capstone is the sequence where the movie tries to remind you that all of this hoopla is based on a simple guessing game played with toy boats and red push-pins. Like calling attention to the fact that it is a AAA budget wank-fest based on a table-top game could possibly excuse its silliness.
1. The Garbage Pail Kids Movie.
A young loner named Dodger is constantly being harassed by a gang of kids, despite having a crush on the girlfriend of the gang’s leader. After a particularly vicious thrashing, he is saved from a sewage bath by a gaggle of homely and inappropriate “kids” who are actually aliens that traveled to Earth in a space ship shaped like a garbage pail.
What Went Wrong: What didn’t?
This film is high in the running for worst movie ever made. Based on a raunchy set of trading cards which mocked Cabbage Patch Kids by envisioning them as the victims of mean-spirited birth defects and personality disorders, you know this film is going to cross the line, turn around and piss on the line, and then blow the line up with a toilet bowl full of M80’s. The visuals are a nightmare of ugly and hateful imagery. The cast is terrible. The story is a demented riff on “the elves and the shoe-maker,” which substitutes a fashion contest for a shoe-making business. Everyone involved in the plot is repugnant, morally and often physically. This film is worse than the stale stick of gum found in each pack of Garbage Pail Kids cards, waiting to lacerate your mouth.