Is any film truly timeless? Perhaps not, but there are movies that have held up remarkably well over the years. Although the 1990s are now two decades behind us, movies like The Shawshank Redemption, Fight Club, and Jurassic Park remain just as fresh as when they were released in theaters.
Then there is the other crop of films from the ‘90s, flicks that are nothing more than products of their time. These are the movies that were influenced by their era so much, that we just can’t get past the dated CGI, the obnoxious techno scores, the absurd lingo and dialog, and wacky plots about the internet.
For this list, we’re taking a look at the films from the ‘90s that time has not been kind to. While they were once crowd-pleasers, they’ve each seen their popularity diminish over the years, either due to low production values, lame stories, or absurd acting.
With that in mind, it’s time to take off those nostalgic drunk-goggles, and unearth some of these forgotten relics that have aged less like fine wine and more like vinegar.
Here are the 15 Worst ‘90s Movies That Have Not Aged Well.
It’s no secret that comic book movies get better looking each year. Technological effects, like in Spider-Man: Homecoming, are now bigger and brighter than they have ever been. It’s difficult to remember a time when superhero flicks didn’t have jaw-dropping visuals, but if one ever needed a stark reminder, all you would have to do is pop in a copy of 1997’s Spawn.
After skyrocketing in popularity on page, Image Comics were quick to push out a live-action version to capitalize on Spawn’s success; we just wish they had spent a little more time on making it good.
Besides a boring story and watered down subject matter, Spawn is notorious for having some of the worst visuals of any comic book movie. Today, the effects look completely dated, including a fully generated CG cape that would even the most dedicated Spawn fan roll their eyes in shame.
Let’s hope that when the upcoming reboot starts production, they’ll dedicate a finer eye for the visual details.
14 The Net
Paranoid blockbusters about killer machines were all the rage in the 1990s. Terminator 2: Judgment Day and The Matrix capitalized on audience’s fear that sentient computer programs would one day rise up and destroy us all. Though there are a number of these movies that haven’t seemed to age a day, there are many that have, including 1995’s The Net.
Amazingly hokey and unbelievably dated thanks to its presentation of technology, The Net is one of those movies you can watch now and laugh out loud at just how bad the filmmakers got the future wrong.
Although its themes of paranoia in the digital era are none more relevant than today, the Sandra Bullock lead movie really loses points with its technology, which chooses to depict things like computer viruses as pixelated graphics and flashy code flying across the screen. In reality, it’s usually just a boring piece of spam on your email; not really the same thing.
13 The Lawnmower Man
Despite its absurd title, this 1992 horror/sci-fi comes straight from the mind of horror master Stephen King. The Lawnmower Man tells the story of a scientist who sets out to increase the intelligence of a simple-minded gardener through a virtual reality program.
Now, we’d be lying if we said that half-baked plot earned the movie a spot on this fossilized list all on its own. Yes, the story is stupid, but what really makes The Lawnmower Man a ‘90s artifact are the visuals, which are so horribly outdated that they make the effects in Tron look state-of-the-art.
Goofy, stilted, and just plain bad looking, the “virtual reality” scenes in Lawnmower Man look like cutaways from obsolete PlayStation One games.
Watching it today, there’s just no way the viewer can suspend their disbelief that they’re looking into a state-of-the-art virtual reality program. If anything, visuals like these should have made the main character dumber, not smarter.
12 The Three Musketeers
Bearing no resemblance to Alexandre Dumas’ classic novel, 1993’s The Three Musketeers is a dumbed down faux pas that fits right in with all the other mindless action romps of the ‘90s.
Unlike films such as The Mask of Zorro, for example, which provided a swashbuckling adventure with a clever new twist, Musketeers feels as fresh as a rotting hunk of cheese, with ‘90s relics Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland, and Chris O’Donnell jumping around from one bland set piece to the next.
As a mid ‘90s action flick, The Three Musketeers is just as competent as any other film in its era, but where it really feels dated is in its execution. The movie is just a bunch of clichés strung together as an excuse for our heroes to get themselves in decently choreographed fight scenes.
While the case could be made that films from the ‘70s and ‘80s are guilty of such lethargic exercises, The Three Musketeers is a movie so cheesy that it could have only been bankable in the 1990s.
Statistically speaking, Hollywood remakes aren’t always that good. Sure, there are a handful of exceptions, like John Carpenter’s The Thing or Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear, but most of the time, the word “remake” is simply a cash grab to make a quick buck on the name brand.
Such was the case with 1997’s Flubber, a remake of the slapstick comedy The Absent Minded Professor. You might remember this wacky adventure with Robin Williams fondly as a grade schooler, but trust us. Watch it today and you will most likely realize it’s a flat, boring, cliché riddled mess with some of the most dated CG imaginable.
Flubber took advantage of the then modern effects at the studio’s disposal, but watching animated green goo in a conga line just doesn’t hold up, both aesthetically and concept wise. We admit, youngsters might still have fun with this movie, but even they would have to completely turn off their brains nowadays; we’re talking sleep mode.
Anybody who grew up in the 1990s probably remembers Dragonheart fondly, and how could they not? It starred Sean Connery as the voice of a giant fire breathing dragon, which was awesome. The film was praised at the time of its release for its amazing effects, even earning an Oscar nomination for its outstanding visuals.
However, it has not stood up to the test of time. What was once spectacular in 1996 is now completely cheesy a little more than two decades later. Hearing Connery’s voice come out of a completely dated CGI dragon is comical in of itself.
Even the most diehard Dragonheart fan would be hard-pressed not to burst out laughing as the scaly Scotsman gives sage advice to a confused looking Dennis Quaid.
While some hardcore dragon-lovers might find this movie a fun piece of nostalgia, the rest of moviegoers probably remember it as that film with the funny dragon that talks like James Bond.
9 Mortal Kombat
Like a lot of video game movies, Mortal Kombat is a complete product of its time. The film’s break-neck fight sequences, dated visual effects, and blaring electronic soundtrack are all components that scream ‘90s.
It had everything to entice prepubescent kids to line up at movie theaters, including over-the-top violence and a theme song that will stay in your head for days after the screening.
Watching Mortal Kombat today is like visiting that kid in high school who still lives in his mom’s basement and watches wrestling. While everyone else has grown up and moved on, Mortal Kombat seems to be perpetually stuck in the ‘90s.
Pop it in now, and you might still get a kick out of the cheesy dialog and goofy special effects as Scorpion fights Sub Zero, but you’ll most likely be laughing at the film rather than gasping when you were in the theater as a kid.
For a brief time, Michael Douglas was the king of psycho-sexual thrillers involving deadly love triangles.
What keeps Disclosure on the lower tier of these films, as opposed to something that has aged better like Fatal Attraction, is the very campy sci-fi elements. Mixed in with the admittedly taut suspense stuff is a bizarrely weird subplot involving virtual reality programs.
Douglas' character works at Digicom, which sounds like a knockoff company from Office Space. The company spends their time developing a virtual reality program that's designed to make the task of file-scanning much easier, but instead makes the process much more difficult.
It's a blatant attempt by the filmmakers to wow audiences with the then-modern effects-- effects that look cheesy today and completely derail any sort of momentum the film has. Full disclosure, if the sci-fi elements were completely removed, you might actually have a movie that aged fairly well.
7 Batman Forever
After Tim Burton’s gothic take on the Caped Crusader, director Joel Schumacher brought the character back to his campy side with 1995’s Batman Forever.
While it wasn’t quite as cheesy as the 1960’s TV show, Schumacher’s take on the Dark Knight was definitely more day than night than the previous two movies, with bright colors, a light-hearted tone, and actor Jim Carrey hamming it up in green spandex.
Though moviegoers and critics took it easy on the film’s release, age has not been kind to Batman Forever. Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy showed audiences just how grounded a Batman film could be, making Forever look considerably dated by today’s standards for the character. It’s hard not to cringe on a rewatch today, as things like awkward suit-up montages and cackling villains fill up most of the screen time.
Before any of you get upset that we didn’t include Batman & Robin on this list, it sadly does not qualify. That film didn’t need two decades to age horribly; it was always horrible.
6 The Flintstones
In 1994, Fred Flintstone and his modern Stone Age family said goodbye to the small screen and “yabba dabba doo” to the bigtime with their first live-action movie.
Stars John Goodman, Elizabeth Perkins, Rick Moranis, and Rosie O’Donnell brought everyone’s beloved cartoon characters to life, complete with home appliance dinosaurs and foot-propelled automobiles.
Though it initially wowed audiences as a theme park ride on screen, today, The Flintstones is as dated and fossilized as the Stone Age from which they hail from.
Watching the movie now, it’s clear that the script is a lazily put together collage to get audiences into seats, with everything from the costume designs and practical effects as nothing more than a visual time capsule of the ‘90s.
When all is said and done, The Flintstones did more harm than good, paving the way for all the poorly received live-action adaptations of cartoons like Alvin and the Chipmunks, Scooby-Doo, and The Smurfs.
5 You’ve Got Mail
Remember that friendly voice on America Online that said “you’ve got mail” every time you received a new message? Of course you do, everybody from the ‘90s does.
In fact, that phrase was so popular that it even inspired someone to write a screenplay with that exact title, leading to a romantic comedy starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan as two business rivals who fall in love over the internet.
You’ve Got Mail’s plot alone is enough to make it seem completely dated by audiences today, who are so immersed in Facebook and Twitter that they’re left scratching their heads by a voice that alerts you about a new piece of spam.
The movie was made way back when AIM (AOL Instant Messenger to all you youngsters) was the thing of the future, giving audiences a warm, fuzzy feeling as two strangers fall in love over the internet.
Today, people meet romantically online all the time, so much so that when Hanks and Ryan inevitably get together in the movie, the viewer is just left thinking, “so what?”
Speaking of the internet craze, Hackers is a movie that completely capitalized on the whole cyber fad that was exploding in the mid ‘90s. In fact, it exploited the phase a little too much, marking this movie as the biggest culprit of a series of films that got future tech-- and even present technology-- totally wrong.
Like Swordfish and War Games, it’s clear that Hackers knows absolutely nothing about computer culture or hacking. Everyone in the movie looks like they could double as a runway model, furiously stabbing away at their keyboards to make it look like they have some semblance of what they’re doing.
Even more cringe-worthy is the “futuristic technology,” which mostly consists of laptops that would have been out of date about a decade ago. Nowadays, you’ll be more surprised at the hacking tech for how primitive it is rather than how cool it looks.
3 Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie
Just this past year, fans were treated to a big-budgeted reboot of the Power Rangers. While it wasn’t the best movie in the world, it did at least have some cool looking visuals. The same cannot be said of its 1995 predecessor, a film that looks so nightmarishly awful, that it has the power to crush entire childhood memories.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie might have had kids lining up around the block when it was in theaters, but, nowadays, all it does is send fans running for the hills. Everything in the film, including cringe-worthy dialog, extreme sports, campy costumes, and techno soundtrack, are nothing more than distant memories of a lost era.
Worst of all are the computer generated Zord effects, which are now outclassed by graphics in a Sunny Delight commercial. Anyone who gave the special effects in this movie the greenlight in 1995 must surely be haunted by their decision two decades later.
2 Space Jam
Though the Power Rangers movie might make you question what you were thinking when you were a youngster, nothing is more soul crushing than giving Space Jam a second viewing.
Back in 1996, this was the hottest movie under the sun. Michael Jordan balling with the likes of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig was an idea so ludicrous, so utterly insane, that it had to be seen by kids and adults despite being a blatant cash-grab.
Flash forward 20 years, and Space Jam is not the hilarious romp you remember it being. Rather, it is an awkwardly misplaced movie that puts Jordan’s terrible acting chops front and center.
The gimmick of Loony Tunes running around with Mike on the court comes off as pitifully forced, and has aged worse than older movies that have used the same formula, such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Let’s hope that when the inevitable sequel with LeBron James happens, it has a little more thought put into it. Wishful thinking, we know.
1 Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace
When you think of the original trilogy of Star Wars movies, the word “timeless” comes to mind. Forty years later, and they’re still able to pull in new fans with their timeless storytelling, charismatic characters, and imaginative practical effects.
Ironically, the prequels have had the opposite effect over the years, becoming the flagship of Star Wars naysayers. Aside from a few supporters, they’re become more and more reviled by fans and casual audiences for their stilted acting, bad storytelling, and over saturated visual effects, and it all started with Episode I – The Phantom Menace in 1999.
Though Star Wars fans were initially overjoyed to learn of new crop of films set in their favorite cinematic universe, that excitement has mostly dissipated into disillusionment over the years.
A new term was even coined called “Phantom Menacing,” detailing the though process of thinking a movie is incredible on initial release, and then realizing later it’s mostly garbage.
Thanks to entire sets created by horrible green screen CGI, a story that is as boring as it is predictable, and the infamous character known as Jar Jar Binks, Star Wars: Episode I gets our vote as the movie that has aged the worst from the ‘90s, and, possibly, of all time.
Do you know of any other '90s movies that haven't aged well? Let us hear about them in the comments!