Hey, kids! Ya like superheroes? Toys? Then has Hollywood got your taste quadrant covered with this week’s release of
, based on the action figure line first introduced by Mattel in 1997. Youth-focused cross-media filmmaking has been a thing since the early 1980s, and in this week’s gallery we cover every theatrical movie based on toys, cards, and board games that got a Tomatometer! Max Steel
(2014, 96%) The Lego Movie
Everything is awesome! …about this one entry. The Lego Movie is by far the highest-
rated movie based on a toy, no surprise considering it was also the 2nd best-reviewed
release of 2014.
(2008, 79%) Kit Kittredge: An American Girl
The American Girls are a line of doll and book packages that highlight lifestyles in the States
both contemporary and historical. Movie adaptations have been coming out at a nearly annual
rate since 2004, though the only one to get a theatrical release was Certified Fresh Kit
starring Abigail Breslin.
(1985, 62%) Clue
Who killed Mr. Boddy? Was it Tim Curry with the death stare in the conservatory? The French maid with the scandalous cleavage in the accusing parlor? In honoring the board game’s spirit of revolving murderousness, ’80s theatergoers were given one of three random endings resolving the question.
(1985, 60%) The Secret of the Sword
Prince Adam searches for a sword and gets a twin sister in the process on planet Etheria in this He-Man spinoff movie, which is actually the first five episodes of She-Ra: Princess of Power edited together and released in theaters before its TV premiere later in the year.
(1985, 60%) The Care Bears Movie
From comforting children with their plush softness or congratulating you on your colonoscopy by greeting card, the Care Bears were a merchandise factory by the time of their big screen debut, which introduced the uniquely bubbly personalities of this ursa major corporate family.
(2007, 57%) Transformers
The lowest-grossing yet highest-rated movie of the live-action Michael Bay series. This and the following year’s Iron Man were instrumental in unleashing the tidal nerdwave that happily consumes pop culture today.
(1986, 55%) The Transformers: The Movie
Designed to wipe out low-selling Transformers toys and laying the groundwork to introduce new figures in upcoming TV seasons, the animated movie is an appreciably melodramatic story that traumatized kids to bad glam metal.
(1996, 52%) Mars Attacks!
Along with Dark Shadows and Ed Wood, director Tim Burton has made the most of mythologizing his childhood cultural encounters; he also adapted the infamous Topps ’60s trading cards which depict the gleefully violent and psychosexual conquest of Earth by invaders from the Red Planet.
(1987, 43%) G.I. Joe: The Movie
Egged on by the movies of Transformers, Care Bears, and He-Man (all toy universes that wouldn’t have been around if G.I. Joe hadn’t been resurrected in 1982), Hasbro cobbled together a theatrical release which could later be split apart into five episodes for syndication.
(2011, 35%) Transformers: Dark of the Moon
If Leonard Nimoy showed up in your summer science-fiction movie during these years, expect to see a planet implode at some point. Nimoy voiced Sentinel Prime in the third Transformers movie, whose Autobot betrayal leads to the puckering demise of Cybertron.
(2009, 35%) G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
With a Captain America movie years away and a dour cinematic interpretation of Superman on the horizon, it fell to the long dormant G.I. Joe franchise to lead American exceptionalism on the big screen.
(2012, 34%) Battleship
It was rough waters for Taylor Kitsch playing leading man in 2012, which saw John Carter bomb spectacularly and Battleship do nothing to sink everyone’s cynicsm in adapting a bland Milton Bradley board game.
(2013, 29%) G.I. Joe: Retaliation
Soldifying his reputation as faltering franchise masseuse, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson joined this Joequel which wipes out a majority of the original cast in favor of leaner blockbuster footwork.
(2000, 25%) Digimon: The Movie
In a way, virtual pet tchotchke Digimon was fortunate to come up during the downward days of the Tamagotchi fad, as it gave Digimon enough time to reinvent itself to rip off another media franchise: Pokemon. Following the same video game/cards/anime trajectory as Pokemon, the first Digimon movie hit American multiplexes in 2000, and launched the theatrical directorial career of Mamoru Hosada ( The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, The Boy and the Beast).
(2009, 19%) Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci ( Star Trek) are usually good for one decent screenplay in your franchise before falling into their worst instincts, as they did with first Transformers sequel RotF that combined incoherent plotting with slapstick and racial caricatures.
(2014, 18%) Transformers: Age of Extinction
The promise of delivering long-demanded Dinobots wasn’t enough to keep this from being the worst-rated Transformers movie from Michael Bay, who will give it one more go with next year’s The Last Knight before retiring from robot joxxing for good.
(2015, 18%) Jem and the Holograms
Most only remember the neon glamarous cartoon but Jem started out simultaneously as toyline and TV show, with neither represented in the 2015 reboot that ditched its sci-fi tinged elements in favor of a by-the-numbers teen drama.
(1987, 17%) Masters of the Universe
You call yourself Masters of the Universe, but you spend most of the time in Jersey? Dolph Lundgren looked the He-Man part and Frank Langella played Skeletor with childish joy, but the low budget which confined the story on Earth and away from Eternia kept audiences away in the ’80s.
(1986, 17%) GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords
Transformers for undeserving children, animation-challenged GoBots joined forces with another underperforming Tonka toyline Rock Lords for a theatrical crossover before returning to Gobotron from whence they came.
(2000, 10%) Dungeons & Dragons
Fantasy tabletop and Stranger Things game of choice has been blowing minds since its introduction in the late ’70s. Not so much the D&D movie, which along with 1999’s Wing Commander saw cherished geek properties crash and burn in their Hollywood adaptations.
(2007, 9%) Bratz: The Movie
The rather maligned, legally dubious (according to rival Mattel at least) doll line from MGA Entertainment once came to life…and was dead on arrival with critics and audiences alike.
(2014, 7%) Ouija
Michael Bay, who somehow needs three hours to tell a robots punching story, wanted $100 million to produce a movie about a block of wood. Universal turned the project over to Blumhouse and though critics slid “GOOD BYE” at the final result, studio execs are likely to find a quantum of solace in Ouija‘s $103m box office against the $5m budget.
(1985, 0%) Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer
Magical girl Rainbow Brite was introduced by Hallmark to rival Care Bears, turning this movie around in a mere three months while the TV show was in production during the mid-’80s.
(1987, 0%) The Garbage Pail Kids
A gross parody of Cabbage Patch Kids, these sticker trading cards that kids would slap on brown bag book covers across the nation ultimately made its way into theaters. It’s considered one of the worst movies ever made, though possibly not even the worst movie of 1987, where it competes with Ishtar, Leonard Part 6, and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.