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Visually Stunning Movies That Are Also Just Trash

Updated May 4, 2019 51.0k votes 10.3k voters 377.6k views18 items

List RulesVote 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. 

  • 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. 

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  • 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

    The Spirit

    The Spirit is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Visually Stunning Movies That Are Also Just Trash
    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. 

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  • Speed Racer is a visual delight. Seriously, watching this movie is like tasting candy for the first time. It provides a sensory overload that you'll never forget, but it's chock-full of empty calories.

    At the end of the day, you'll be no better off for having watched Speed Racer, it'll just be another thing you did. Admittedly the Wachowski brothers's cinematic attempt to set your brain on fire has its champions, but almost all the film's praise involves how good it looks. This pro-Speed Racer position requires a lot of dancing around the fact that everything but the visuals were poorly executed. 


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