Animated Movies

The Worst Live-Action Movies Based on Cartoons 

Luke Y Thompson
48.1k votes 8.3k voters 451k views 22 items

List Rules Vote up the films that most completely screwed up great cartoon shows.

Live-action movies based on cartoons don't have to be bad. A lot of the time, however, they suck. Animation and live-action are very different mediums, and a complex understanding of what makes something work is more essential than a literal replication of drawings. Unfortunately, if you say that to a studio executive, he or she will likely go, "Huh?"

Most of the movies on this list of awful movies based on animated shows share at least one major trait: they were made not because anyone involved gave a damn, but because the studio wanted to milk an already popular brand, even, in some cases, when said brand's popularity had peaked decades prior.

And while you may correctly point out that some of the films on this list originate with source material other than cartoons, they're included if the live-action version incorporated anything that originated in the animated version. Fair enough?
Dragonball Evolution
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Dragonball is a cartoon so stylized that making it in live-action is a fool's errand to begin with, and the moment anybody even attempted to style Justin Chatwin's hair into a Goku 'do, it should have been a red flag.

By the time he turns into a giant were-ape at the movie's climax (yes, seriously), the accumulated red flags ought to have summoned a herd of angry bulls. The video above sums it up best.

Actors: Emmy Rossum, Jamie Chung, James Marsters, Chow Yun-Fat, Ernie Hudson, + more

Released: 2009

Directed by: James Wong

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From racial miscasting to barely coherent storytelling to bad 3D post-conversion to The Daily Show's Aasif Mandvi as an unconvincing arch-villain, The Last Airbender is like a perfect storm of badness, especially when compared to its hugely popular animated source material.

And everyone knows it except director M. Night Shyamalan, who still insists his trainwreck is and was popular with children.

Actors: Nicola Peltz, Jackson Rathbone, Seychelle Gabriel, John Noble, Summer Bishil, + more

Released: 2010

Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan

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In the first live-action Inspector Gadget, Matthew Broderick makes for an okay substitute for the Don Adams-voiced incompetent detective.

French Stewart is NOT an okay substitute for Matthew Broderick in the straight to DVD sequel.

Actors: D. L. Hughley, Jeff Bennett, French Stewart, Bruce Spence, Elaine Hendrix, + more

Released: 2003

Directed by: Alex Zamm

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If you  can't give properties the budget they deserve, maybe don't do them at all. That's the lesson behind the Jem movie, in which a hi-tech sci-fi drama is translated into a low-budget faux-musical, with holograms provided by a cheap robot that lacks all the key character traits of the cartoon show's Synergy.

Using YouTube submissions and Google Maps for scene transitions, Jem and the Holograms is embarrassingly cheap and ridiculously eager to update the material for modern audiences. Fans can only hope a reboot is not too far behind.

Actors: Juliette Lewis, Molly Ringwald, Stefanie Scott, Ryan Guzman, Aubrey Peeples, + more

Released: 2015

Directed by: Jon M. Chu

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