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20 'Bad' Sci-Fi Movies That Are Actually Good

April 2, 2020 52.7k votes 3.9k voters 82.5k views20 items

List RulesVote up the sci-fi films that have been mislabled as bad but are totally worth giving another chance.

Science fiction has always been something of a gamble for film studios. While there have been some epic films like 2001: A Space Odyssey, for the most part, the genre is filled with a smattering of good movies, duds, and financial disasters. The biggest problem with sci-fi isn't that the movies aren't amazing; it's that the films tend to garner fan support from a niche community. When that happens, movies that are generally perceived as being bad because of their box office performance aren't bad at all.

These sci-fi films have received generally poor reviews or had a terrible showing at the box office when they first hit theaters. Despite this, they are beloved by fans all across the world. 

For this list, only films that have a 69% or lower on Rotten Tomatoes are considered. Vote up the films worth a rewatch!

  • En route to a prison, the spaceship carrying famed criminal Richard B. Riddick is damaged by a passing comet. The craft is forced to crash on a desert planet, where the crew will attempt repairs. When they land, dangerous alien creatures begin ambushing the survivors, but Riddick and some of the other people on board manage to escape. Riddick joins the remaining survivors as they attempt to escape from the planet while avoiding the dangerous aliens whose only weakness is light. Fortunately for them, Riddick's specialized eyesight allows him to see in the dark, so they might have a fighting chance.

    While Pitch Black wasn't considered a huge success when it came out, the movie - and Riddick especially - was loved by fans. The character was so beloved that he launched a franchise, which saw two films released after this one.

    Rotten Tomatoes Score: 59%

    • Actors: Vin Diesel, Radha Mitchell, Keith David, Claudia Black, Cole Hauser
    • Released: 2000
    • Directed by: David Twohy
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  • In the future, all democracies are a thing of the past, and the world has united under a single government. Earth is also in conflict with the Bugs of Klendathu, a world on the opposite side of the Milky Way Galaxy. Johnny Rico and the survivors rally and meet up to take on the Bugs in a special mission to capture the "Brain Bug" to learn as much as they can about their enemy's plans. The film concludes after the mission's success and plays like a propaganda reel seen during WWII.

    The biggest problem with Starship Troopers is that it shares a name with the source material, and that's about it. Fans of the book often dislike this film, but for those who watched it without having read the book, it's a fun and exciting sci-fi film that takes advantage of the CGI that was available at the time. While it barely broke its budget, the film did garner several sequels, though they were direct-to-video releases.

    Rotten Tomatoes Score: 63%

    • Actors: Neil Patrick Harris, Denise Richards, Amy Smart, Dina Meyer, Clancy Brown
    • Released: 1997
    • Directed by: Paul Verhoeven
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  • Set in a future where all emotion and artistic expression are outlawed, citizens must take a daily injection to suppress their emotions, and enforcement officers work to ensure everyone complies. When enforcement officer John Preston misses one of his doses, his emotions begin to rise to the surface. As he experiences emotions, he questions the morality of a society that works to suppress them, and he attempts to remain undetected for his own safety. Eventually, he becomes involved in a resistance movement, where he employs his expertise in a unique brand of martial arts called gun kata to fight against the system he was once a part of.

    Equilibrium bombed at the box office, only managing to make $5.3 million off its $20 million budget. Outside of its box office performance, the movie is highly regarded among fans and is well known as one of the earliest films to use firearms in martial arts combat.

    Rotten Tomatoes Score: 40%

    • Actors: Christian Bale, Sean Bean, Taye Diggs, Dominic Purcell, Emily Watson
    • Released: 2002
    • Directed by: Kurt Wimmer
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  • When two high school friends decide to mess with their new computer, they decide to feed as much information into it as possible so they can create a digital woman. Their goal is to create a form of AI that will help them learn how to talk to women, but thanks to some cinematic magic, they end up creating a real woman with magical powers. The newly created lady and her two young gentlemen set about improving their lives in the most chaotic ways possible. Ultimately, they find meaning in their lives and wind up with the two hottest girls in high school, which is exactly what you would expect from such a movie.

    Weird Science wasn't incredibly successful when it first came out, but the movie has expanded in popularity in the home media market. It became a cult classic soon after it was released on VHS, and it even spawned a television series, which went on for five seasons consisting of 88 episodes.

    Rotten Tomatoes Score: 56%

    • Actors: Robert Downey Jr., Kelly LeBrock, Bill Paxton, Anthony Michael Hall, Kym Malin
    • Released: 1985
    • Directed by: John Hughes
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