The Bad: The Movies You Need to Skip

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Based on: “The Golden Man”

I hope our lord and savior Nicolas Cage forgives me for saying this, but Next, the 2007 film adapted from the Dick story The Golden Man, just isn’t very good. It’s also one of the most egregious examples of an adaptation claiming to be based on something Dick wrote but having very little relation to it. Cage plays a man who can see two-minutes into the future. Cage gets recruited by FBI agent Julianne Moore to help stop a nuclear bomb. And then a lot of other stupid stuff happens. The story, in sharp contrast, is set in a post-apocalyptic future where mutants roam the earth, and a government agency is charged with tracking the mutants down. It’s sort of like Blade Runner meets X-Men, and nothing like Dick’s story.

Paycheck

Based on: Paycheck

There was a strange period of time in cinema when Ben Affleck and Matt Damon were competing to see who could become the most unlikely action star. Damon eventually settled into his Bourne Identity series. Affleck, however, didn’t have much luck. He kept appearing in things like Daredevil and this film, John Woo’s Paycheck, adapted from the Philip K. Dick story of the same name. Woo is a great director, but other than Face/Off, he was never able to fully transfer his talents to Hollywood. Paycheck is just downright confusing, with Affleck playing a man who has his memory wiped and then finds himself chased by government agencies. All he has to go on is a suitcase full of random objects which all eventually become handy in MacGyver-like ways. It goes without saying that Dick’s short story is not written to be an action movie, but Woo does his best. Yet the film fizzles, and not even the presence of Uma Thurman can salvage this.

Impostor

Based on: Impostor

Impostor is the story of a robot with a BOMB IN ITS RIBCAGE!! Even if you had never seen the film you’re likely aware of this, because every single trailer for this 2002 Gary Fleder-directed film featured a scene where Vincent D’Onofrio yells that. Gary Sinise plays a man who is suspected and accused of being an android. The problem is Sinise is fully convinced he’s human, but he has a very hard time convincing everyone else of that. The film adaptation sticks pretty close to the Philip K. Dick short story that inspired it, even keeping the book’s bleak ending. But the film itself is an abysmal failure. Originally intended to just be a short segment in a sci-fi anthology film, the film was expanded into feature length, with disastrous results.

Screamers

Based on: Second Variety

Machines that revolt against their creators, a favorite theme of Dick’s work, is once again on display in Screamers, adapted from the short story Second Variety. Peter Weller (Robocop) plays a soldier of the future dealing with little robotic blade-monsters that are like metal versions of the face-hugger aliens from Alien. By any conventional sense, Screamers is a pretty bad movie. But it’s one of those really entertaining bad movies, that you can’t help but enjoy. While playing around with the themes of Dick’s story, it’s mostly doing its own thing, and that own thing is imitating a dozen other sci-fi movies that came before it. I won’t tell you to go out of your way to watch Screamers, but if you come across it late one night after you’ve had a few drinks, you might get a kick out of it. And if you’re really feeling daring, you can check out the sequel, Screamers: The Hunting.

Continue Reading The Philip K. Dick Movie Adaptation Primer >>

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