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5 bad blockbusters that took your money

By Brandon Ferdig, Contributing writer
Published On: Jun 15 2011 09:44:00 AM CDT
Updated On: Jun 30 2014 09:05:22 AM CDT
Bored audience in movie theater

iStock / Deklofenak

Maybe you got pulled in by the "everyone else is seeing it" factor. Perhaps the bank-breaking ad budget wore you down. Maybe the production costs were so wow-worthy they had to be seen on the big screen.

Or, hey, maybe we can chalk it up to a good ol' guilty pleasure.

Whatever the excuse, everybody's been roped in to seeing a bad blockbuster at one time or another. You know, the kind of movie that when you look back and all the hoopla is gone, you realize that what you spent good money on was just a horrible waste of time. You and a million other suckers.

How does Hollywood continue to garner success from such nonsense? Ask a sociologist; we're just here to let you know which ones they are. Here are the five worst awesomely-successful movies ever ...

Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean At World's End

No. 5: "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" -- $309 Million
Here is a film that suffers because it comes on the heels of the first two entertaining "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies. And as the third in the original trilogy, it was also responsible for tying together all the loose ends.

While it does do that, it does so in terrifically disjointed fashion. And in a film that lives by its special effects, humor and fun, a twist-and-turn storyline is a big, clashing mistake. What the heck was going on in this thing anyway?! Who were the good guys?

Though some may not care because it still "looked cool," it made it impossible for anyone interested in plot to get sucked in. All the cool-looking stuff that was happening required a distracting, "Why?"

And hey, how did what's-her-name's legs always stay shaved?

Austin Powers in Goldmember

No. 4: "Austin Powers in Goldmember" -- $213 Million

It's like when you're at a party and you are making people laugh. You're on a roll and think you can do no wrong. But do you quit while you're ahead? Noooooo. The recent success changes you, makes you cocky and you blurt out something that falls flat and unfunny. Wham! Now you're stuck leaving on a low note.

Enter Austin Powers. It seemed Mike Myers thought anything that entered his melon would be comic gold after having audiences in stitches in his previous movies. So he haphazardly threw it out there.

This was comic fool's gold, for "Goldmember." The main character wasn't funny and the same old figures from the previous films were retreads.

Viewers just had to watch and try to laugh at all the misses. But with $200 million-plus at the box office, maybe Myers got to let out some genuine guffaws.

Star Wars Episode I Phantom Menace

No. 3: "Star Wars: Episode I" -- $431 Million

Yeah, yeah, "Star Wars" is untouchable, right? Um, no. Just because a film series is adopted as cultural lore doesn't mean it's every entry is golden -- it doesn't even mean they're necessarily good.

Movies that are a piece of a larger whole have the responsibility to make things interesting for the newbies. Sure, for those who were primed to eat out of George Lucas' hands -- the Star Wars fanatics -- this film was going to be a slam dunk.

But for everyone else, the first film in a trilogy of prequels lacked any endearing characters to follow. It was lifeless and boring. The best part was the big fish. And one can say all this before even mentioning Jar Jar Binks.

But hey, a history of success does apparently give gobbledy-gook films like this a pass -- to the tune of $431 million.

Ben Affleck in Pearl Harbor

No. 2: "Pearl Harbor" -- $199 Million

Wow. OK, so pretend you're a surfer and a wave is coming. Either you catch it and ride it to shore in all its glory or you don't and you watch it drift to shore with a look of, "What the heck was that?"

Missing out on this cinematic wave left a lot of people on the outside looking askance at what was being lapped before them on the screen.

Oh, it had all the elements -- the love stories, the musical score, the fear of battle, the heroism. But if you don't "catch the wave," the drama is empty, lame and even laughable. There was nothing here to draw viewers in -- heck, there wasn't a wave to catch!

And you know what? The U.S. military kicked in funding for this movie. That means if you saw it, you paid for it twice.

Transformers 2 Revenge of the Fallen

No. 1: "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" -- $402 Million

This debacle made a cool $400 million. So apparently some worthwhile purpose was being served by it; it's just that being a good movie wasn't one of them.

The film's attempts at story and character are drowned within a blender of metallic action. As is commonly the complaint of big summer blockbusters, it had few endearing human elements. But unlike others in the genre, it took this trend to new highs (or lows).

It was so lampooned by critics that director Michael Bay officially apologized for it. It was so lampooned that one considers defending it out of pity. Well, that is, until you see the money it made. But, hey, you can't buy respect.

And how about an explanation of why it was so extraordinarily successful? "Star Wars" has its legacy, but this franchise has ... ?

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