Visually Stunning Movies That Are Also Just Trash

List Rules
Vote up the movies that, admit it, you still watch because they're so dang pretty.

Have you ever been totally awestruck by the visual splendor of a film, only to realize that the story is straight garbage? 

There are a lot of horrible movies with great effects, and plenty of bad movies that look good. It's always unfortunate to find out that you’re stuck watching one of these films, especially after you've already paid for the ticket. Unfortunately, some of the most colorful movies of all time fall into the category of "gorgeous but insubstantial." 

The one perk that comes with watching a movie that prioritizes style over substance is that you're allowed to tune out the awful dialogue in order to focus on the visuals. There’s nothing wrong with watching pretty movies, especially if they end up being so bad that they’re good.

What follows is a rundown of visually stunning movies that are just plain hard to watch. They’re not the worst movies of all time, but you probably shouldn't check them out any time soon either. 


  • 1
    4,285 VOTES

    In varying degrees, every Wachowski movie is astoundingly stupid, yet also visually entertaining and sort of fun. Of all their films, Jupiter Ascending may be the Wachowski's greatest achievement in dumb, gorgeous filmmaking. Really, it's almost impossible to explain the plot of this movie without sounding like a crazy person.

    Regardless of how out-there the story is, the space ships are exceptionally fun to watch. If you're a fan of sleek, sci-fi aesthetics, you should watch it with friends on a Friday night and not worry about missing all of the dialogue. 

  • 2
    5,310 VOTES

    The best and worst thing you can say about Sucker Punch is that the director of photography Larry Fong managed to make the film look just like a videogame. The visuals are a stellar technological achievement, but once you move beyond Zach Snyder's green screen world, there's nothing really there.

    This tiring dirge of a film is about a group of women in a mental institution who are transported to a fantasy world where they take on the roles of sex workers, fighter jet pilots, and samurai warriors. It's billed as a rollercoaster of fun, but in reality, it just feels empty.

    As one reviewer put it: "Watching [Sucker Punch] feels like watching somebody hog a videogame. Sure it looks kind of cool, but if you can't ever grab the controller and get invested in the avatars bouncing all over the screen, it's just boring and pointless after a few minutes."

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  • 3
    2,222 VOTES

    The Spirit

    The Spirit
    Photo: Lionsgate

    The Spirit is nuts. It's one of those movies that makes you wonder about the people who actually enjoy it. Does anyone even like this movie? Surely the film's director, Frank Miller, must enjoy the film because it feels like he was given free reign over its creation.

    The dialogue is abysmal, the characters are paper thin, and the story only makes sense to guys with The Boondock Saints tattoos. Despite all this, The Spirit is visually fascinating. The rotoscoping in the film manages to make the visuals feel like they were pulled directly from a comic book, which is furthered by Miller's knowledge of comic book illustration.

    This movie should be held up as an example of what's capable with good lighting and a green screen, just don't pretend that it's worth anything more than that. 

  • Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
    Photo: EuropaCorp

    Wirter-director Luc Besson's 1997 adventure The Fifth Element set a high water mark for distinctly sci-fi weirdness, packing every frame with colorful designs inspired by '60s and '70s European comic books. So when Besson returned to the genre two decades later to adapt the beloved French comic Valerian et Laureline, fans expected him to once again bring the trippy, ambitious oddness. And he didn't disappoint: from the opening montage showing the International Space Station evolving into a hub for innumerable alien species to a shapeshifting Rihanna to dizzying action sequences dense with ludicrous detail.

    Unfortunately, most moviegoers agreed the visuals are the only reason to see Valerian And The City of a Thousand Planets. As spacefaring secret agents Valerian and Laureline, Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne are miscast enough to leave a black hole of charisma where the lead performances should be, and no amount of cosmic action can compensate for the lack of investment in these two characters. The story, meanwhile, is an excuse for spectacle, leaving little to no impression.

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