6 Disappointing Fantasy Movies

Highlander 2
Highlander 2

We’ve previously discussed some of the best fantasy movies of all time.  Now we’re going to look at the opposite side of the spectrum.

The following films are not necessarily the “worst” of their kind, but they are major disappointments.  In other words, these are fantasy films that had the potential to be great, but went bad somewhere along the way.  I went into each film expecting something wonderful, and was left with a feeling of having been cheated.

In no particular order, they are:

Highlander 2: The Quickening

The original Highlander benefited from an aura of mystery and magic.  Unfortunately, this sequel dispelled the mystery by explaining the origin of the immortals: they are aliens from the planet Zeist, where people have outrageous hairdos and ride on flying skateboards.  A later director’s cut, entitled the “Renegade Version,” tried to remedy the damage by restoring the mystery.  Yet it suffers from a lack of Highlander’s signature flashbacks, as well as an incoherent plot.

Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time

The first Beastmaster was a fun medieval romp from cult filmmaker Don Coscarelli.  The makers of this sequel, unfortunately, decided to magically transport the Beastmaster to America circa 1990, where “fish out of water” hilarity ensues.  There are lots of pop songs and sports cars, along with campy humor.  This is one bad movie.

Ladyhawke

There is so much to love about Ladyhawke.  The story is haunting and the cinematography is lush.  Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pfeiffer are perfectly cast as cursed lovers in medieval Europe.  Sadly, this film suffers from what has been described as the “worst soundtrack ever composed.”  The score is a fusion of pop synthesizer and Gregorian chant, with a twist of Disco for good measure.  The resulting music is so distracting that it kills the mood of the film.

Masters of the Universe

As was the case with Beastmaster 2, the filmmakers chose to transport He-Man out of his fantasy world and into 198o’s America.  The resulting film is painfully bad.  While the great Frank Langella hams it up as Skeletor, Dolph Lundgren’s He-Man is a one-dimensional caricature of of the cartoon hero.  I first saw this as a child, and can still recall the gut-wrenching disappointment.

Lord of the Rings (1978)

Director Ralph Bakshi‘s attempt to film Tolkien’s masterpiece fails on the level of storytelling.  While most of the animation is great, as is the musical score, the plot is so chopped up that it is nearly incomprehensible to viewers who haven’t read the book.  At times the evil wizard Saruman’s name is inexplicably changed to “Aruman,” and the final battle includes real actors fighting alongside animated characters.  Worst of all, the film ends awkwardly and abruptly, without warning.  Thank goodness Peter Jackson had the chance to do things the right way.

Conan the Destroyer

The original Conan the Barbarian was an epic tale of loss, vengeance and redemption.  It took itself very seriously, and had layers of deeper meaning.  This sequel, on the other hand, went in the opposite direction.  It’s purposely cheesy and light, with no sense of importance or grandeur.  The resulting film is entertaining but ultimately forgettable.

For me, these films were six of the worst disappointments in the fantasy genre.  What about for you?  Which films would you include in your list of fantasy failures?

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Alexandra Butcher
2 years ago

I loved LadyHawke – that was one of the stories which inspired a love of fantasy.

Alexandra Butcher
3 years ago

I like Ladyhawke but yes agree with the rest. We used to call Highlander 3 Highlander: The Apology

Nathan J. Lauffer
9 years ago

I was obsessed with Highlander.  Highlander 2 was a tragedy, in a sense.  However, I can’t think of a “renegade version” of a film every being done before or since.  I have to admire the effort.  The first Highlander, didn’t hold up over time for me.  So, I’m really looking forward to the reboot.

Fun Fact:  My parents bought me some Highlander stuff for Christmas when I was a teenager one year from their online store.  That store continued to hound my parents well into my college years.  You can only have so many boxer shorts that say “Don’t Loose Your Head,” though.  🙂

Antonio del Drago
Reply to  Nathan J. Lauffer
9 years ago

@facebook-775168421:disqus

The “renegade version” of Highlander 2 is a big improvement.  It’s the only version available now on DVD and blu-ray, so hopefully the horrible Quickening theatrical version will be wiped from memory.

I also ordered a few items from the Highlander Store back in the early nineties.  My parents just got a phone call from them a few months ago!!  They are persistent.

Lawrence
Lawrence
9 years ago

I only saw Ladyhawke recently, and just caught the last part. The ending was odd…on the cusp of being great but somehow clumsy and naff ! 

I would add ‘In the Name of the King’ 🙂 

Its actually great fun to watch with my sons, we giggle so much. There is one part where this cast extra is glimpsed in the war camp, and he is having a go at ‘nonchalant passing time with comrades’…looks just like a teenager in the shopping centre hanging out with his buddies, except he is wearing a steel helmet. I don’t know how he managed that, but just a one second glimpse had me laughing my head off !

Talking of helmets…Burt Reynolds. Why didn’t the costume director show him how to wear his in a kingly manner ie; straight. 😛

The hair and costume design was extremely bad in this movie. Everyone looked like 80’s fancy dress. The orc like baddies were especially crummy. 

On the positive side there were some very neat and imaginative sorcery SFX elements.

Antonio del Drago
Reply to  Lawrence
9 years ago

In the Name of the King was a bad film, but not quite a disappointment for me.  You see, I rented it knowing full well that it would stink.

In fact, the film itself came with a warning label announcing that the movie would be terrible.  It said the following:

Directed by Uwe Boll

Rskimsey
Rskimsey
9 years ago

I thought Ladyhawke was good, despite the score. I agree on the rest and feel that the new Conan movie should be on the list.

saeed sabbagh
saeed sabbagh
9 years ago

i liked ladyhawk but i agree on the rest

John M. Haley
9 years ago

I enjoyed Conan’s cheesiness (as a teenager, I mean)… but on the animated LotR, I didn’t see that. What I did see was the animated Hobbit: my first introduction to “book ≠ movie.”

They killed off half of the thirteen dwarves during the final battle. I remember Gandalf’s line when asked how many survived: “Seven… soon to be six.” But only two died in the book, assuming my memory is correct.

(I watched/read The Hobbit 20+ years ago, once each.)

Sparkie
Sparkie
9 years ago

Not sure about anyone else, but I didn’t care for the first Dungeons & Dragons film.  It seemed like a movie studio’s excuse to cash in on a familiar brand name.  Just my opinion.  A couple people I know liked the movie.

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