What's the Worst Movie of All Time?


There's always endless chatter about which movies and performances are the best. But what about the other end of the spectrum? Using the popular ratings site Rotten Tomatoes, Libby Coleman over at Ozy found that Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (2002) may actually be the worst movie ever made, according to the critics. One hundred percent of the 116 critics who reviewed the sci-fi thriller gave it a bad rating, resulting in a "Tomatometer" score of 0 and an audience grade of 17 percent.

Other films that belong to what Ozy calls the “zero-percent club” are Orgy of the Dead (1965), Return to the Blue Lagoon (1991), National Lampoon’s Gold Diggers (2004), A Thousand Words (2012), and over 280 others, some of which were reviewed by so few critics that they almost don’t count.

Reviewers of Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever seem to agree that the film is just “an endless barrage of bullets and bazookas” without any substance to back it up. Jocelyn Noveck of the Associated Press wrote that “for many viewers, the big question may be not whether Ecks and Sever will get together, or why they are fighting in the first place, but why am I sitting here, anyway?” In the Boston GlobeWesley Morris called director Wych Kaosayananda “stupendously inept, unable even to properly light a combat sequence.” Ouch. 

While that film has been universally panned and reigns as the worst ever on Rotten Tomatoes, it has some competition according to other rankings. Empire’s 50 Worst Movies Ever list gave the dishonor to Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin (1997), based on votes from thousands of readers. The loser according to Screen Rant’s "Worst 25" list is United Passions (2014), while WatchMojo gave it to Gigli (2003), and Flavorwire listed Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010). Vice argues that The Room (2003) is “entertainingly bad to the point of transcending such subjectivity,” which sort of seems like a compliment.  

Films that have appeared often in bad movie lists but have narrowly missed the top (or bottom?) spot include Battlefield Earth (2000) and Troll 2 (1990), so while the Internet may not have a definitive answer to the question, people clearly enjoy discussing the pool of candidates.

[h/t: Ozy]

5 Film Transitions Worth Knowing

You see them every day, on TV shows, the news, and in movies, but how well do you know the most oft-used film transitions? Here are the big five:


The dissolve is an editing technique where one clip seems to fade—or dissolve—into the next. As the first clip is fading out, getting lighter and lighter, the second clip starts fading in, becoming more and more prominent. The process usually happens so subtly and so quickly, the viewer isn't even aware of the transition. The above video offers a great overview of the cut, with examples.


This transition is the opposite of the dissolve in that it draws attention to itself. The best example of the wipe is what's known as the Iris Wipe, which you usually find in silent films, like Buster Keaton's or the Merrie Melodies cartoons—the circle getting smaller and smaller. Other wipe shapes include stars, diamonds, and the old turning clock.

The Star Wars films are chock-full of attention-grabbing wipes. Here are two good examples from The Empire Strikes Back. The first shows the clock wipe; the second, the diagonal wipe (pay no attention to the broken blocks at the start of the second clip—that's a technical glitch, not part of the film).


As the name implies, in the basic cutaway, the filmmaker is moving from the action to something else, and then coming back to the action. Cutaways are used to edit out boring shots (like people driving to their destination—why not see what the character is seeing or even thinking sometimes?) or add action to a sequence by changing the pace of the footage. My favorite use of the cutaway is in Family Guy, where the technique is used to insert throwaway gags. Here's a great example:


The L Cut, also called a split edit, is a very cool technique whose name dates back to the old analog film days.

The audio track on a strip of celluloid film runs along the side, near the sprocket holes. In the L Cut transition, the editor traditionally cut the picture frames out of the strip, but left the narrow audio track intact, thus creating an L-shape out of the film. A different camera angle, or scene was then spliced into the spot where the old picture was, so the audio from the old footage was now cut over the new footage.

Of course, with digital editing, one doesn't need to physically cut anything anymore, but the transition is still widely used, and the name has remained the same.

Split edits like these are especially effective in portraying conversations. Imagine how a simple conversation between two people might look if all we ever got was a ping-pong edit back and forth between the two people talking. The L cut allows the viewer to read the emotion on the listener's face, as the dialogue continues over, as we see in this clip from Ferris Bueller's Day Off:


The fade in and fade out usually signal the beginning or end of a scene, especially if the filmmaker is fading to/from black. This is the most common, of course, but fading to white has become trendy, too. The opening title sequence from the HBO series Six Feet Under featured many fades to black and a couple brief fades to white. The very last bit in the sequence fades slowly to white, and is my all-time favorite example of the transition:

science fiction
Why So Many Aliens in Pop Culture Look Familiar

Aliens have been depicted countless times in cinema, from Georges Méliès's A Trip to the Moon (1902) to James Cameron's Avatar (2009). But despite the advancements in special-effects technology over the past century, most aliens we see on screen still share a lot of similarities—mainly, they look, move, and interact with the world like humans do. Vox explains how the classic alien look came to be in their new video below.

When you picture an alien, you may imagine a being with reptilian skin or big, black eyes, but the basic components of a human body—two arms, two legs, and a head with a face—are likely all there. In reality, finding an intelligent creature that evolved all those same features on a planet millions of light-years away would be an extraordinary coincidence. If alien life does exist, it may not look like anything we've ever seen on Earth.

But when it comes to science fiction, accuracy isn't always the goal. Creating an alien character humans can relate to may take priority. Or, the alien's design may need to work as a suit that can be worn by human performers. The result is a version of extraterrestrial life that looks alien— but not too alien—to movie audiences.

So if aliens probably won't have four limbs, two eyes, and a mouth, what would they look like if we ever met them person? These experts have some theories.

[h/t Vox]


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