?Like all beloved actors of geek-friendly properties, Sir Patrick Stewart has had his share of… less… reputable roles, shall we say? Not to the level of say, Bruce Campbell (who openly admits to acting in crap to put food on the table), of course. And there’s nothing wrong with starring in schlock-y movies, really. But there is a certain level of actor, of which Sir Patrick is certainly a member, that we just accept as being above such things as running away from naked space vampires.
Seriously, Sir Patrick is Shakespearean-trained, and been in countless adaptations of the Bard’s plays. He’s starred in several excellent movies (including Excalibur), done voice roles for many wonderful animated films (including the English dub of Studio Ghibli’s Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind), been Professor X in two excellent good X-Men films (and one bad one), and starred as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in the beloved Star Trek: The Next Generation TV series and movies (where he may have run around with space vampires, but at least they had their clothes on). Sir Patrick’s many, many good works unfortunately make the bad roles he’s chosen even more perplexing and unfortunate. This list of a few of these mistakes is by no means in order, just a compilation of head-scratching acting choices for a guy who’s been knighted.
7) Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
The Castlevania series has had plenty of ups and downs, and each title in the long-running series has its detractors and champions. Lords of Shadow isn’t any different, in that respect; it is different however, in the style of gameplay, the overwrought storytelling (even for Castlevania), and that it was the latest in a line of God of War clones, with some Shadow of the Colossus thrown in for the boss battles. It’s barely a Castlevania game at all, which is why it’s not surprising to learn the game didn’t even start development as a Castlevania game, but had the title slapped on much later. The story of the game follows Gabriel Belmont, the never-before-mentioned-in-the-20-plus-years-of-Castlevania-lore first of the Belmont clan to fight evil. As Zobek, a mentor to the main character, Sir Patrick was limited to providing dramatic narration in the pre- and post-level story parts of the game, which had the misfortune of being interminably long, so not only did the gameplay suck, but the game made you wait to play it. Sir Patrick brought his traditional gravitas to his voice-over role, but it was far too little to make Lords of Shadow worthwhile.
6) Mysterious Island
This schlocky, SyFy Channel TV movie non-classic (admittedly, there are a few redundancies in there) finds Sir Patrick stranded in a terrible adaptation of Verne’s sequel to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Stewart stars as Captain Nemo, his Nautlius laid up and in need of repair, when a group of Civil War castaways crash land on his island in a hot air balloon. The horrible production values, the terrible “swatting at something just out of reach” CGI action sequences, the rest of the just shy of late-night Cinemax movie-worthy cast, and truly awful storytelling coalesce into a horrible mess, and not a fun one, either. Sir Patrick honestly puts a lot of effort into making it clear that Nemo only wants to leave the island, though that could just as easily have been Stewart wanting to leave the film. Kyle MacLachlan also sleeps his way through this movie, making the audience pine for the halcyon days when he was in Showgirls. Yes, it’s that bad.
Masterminds is what happens when you have a Hollywood marketing executive who watched Die Hard, then saw a 1996 Mountain Dew commercial and threw in a splash of Hackers for terrible measure. A bunch of thugs, headed by Sir Patrick’s “Bentley,” take a boarding school hostage. Naturally the kid currently on in-school suspension decides to “hack” and pseudo-Die Hard his way into non-fatally taking out the thugs and thwarting Sir Patrick’s plans to… do something (ransoming the kids or opening some plot-convenient safe or something). This film’s mostly notable for having the late-’90s song “Ready to Go” by Republica in the trailer, which was later used for a Nissan commercial. For the record, we don’t consider this genuinely notable, it’s just the most notable thing we can say about the movie. Also vaguely notable: Masterminds is the only major film credit for Annabelle Gurwitch, who you may know from TBS’s “Dinner and a Movie” and nothing else, ever.
4) Conspiracy Theory
Sir Patrick is the world’s most non-threatening villain in this Mel Gibson film. Sir Patrick’s Dr. Jonas goes for a kind of paternal evil, in that he’s not trying to kill Mel Gibson’s character per se, but he’s trying to talk Mel Gibson into surrendering, so he can kill Mel at his convenience, where no one will find his crazy, amnesia-bonked ass. This goes about as well as could be expected. Meanwhile Mel runs around and has what some Hollywood exec felt passed for sexual chemistry with Julia Roberts. Really, how this film managed not to include a lazy Danny Glover cameo we’ll never know.
Tobe Hooper is seen as a god among horror fans, and with good reason: He created Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Poltergeist. After Poltergeist was such a hit, Hooper was given a blank check to make his next movie, which he spent making Lifeforce — a film about a perma-nude space-vampire that walks around vaguely like Arnold in The Terminator. Still sound interesting? That’s easily taken care of. The space-vampire doesn’t suck any blood, she just sucks light out of her victims. Oh, and pervs, don’t bother; after about ten minutes of the clothing-challenged vampiress walking around without her kit on, her nudity gets incredibly boring. Admittedly, Sir Patrick isn’t in this movie very much as Dr. Armstrong, but he barely appeared in The Pagemaster and that movie was awesome because of it. Quick trivia: According to IMDB, Billy Idol was being considered for one of the space-vampires originally. We could have had a sci-fi horror equivalent to Dune‘s casting of Sting, but we were denied! Also, the alien spaceship was modeled after an artichoke. That sums up Lifeforce pretty well, actually.
2) Bambi II
This movie is about as necessary as Old Yeller II: The Yellening. Nothing could make the very idea of this movie tolerable, not even Captain Picard himself voicing The Great Prince, Bambi’s father. This sequel has the titular fawn following his father into the forest after his mother dies to learn how to survive as a growing deer. Naturally, The Great Prince has things to learn from his offspring, as well, like love or some shit. With such a rote concept for a sequel and the original being such a classic, the very existence of this film tarnishes the memory of the superior entry. They didn’t even bother trying to come up with a subtitle, like all 20 or so of The Land Before Time sequels did.
1) Robin Hood: Men in Tights
Men in Tights has a few good laughs, but admit it: This is the second-least of Mel Brooks’ films, second only to Dracula: Dead and Loving It. Sir Patrick is one of the highlights, showing up at the end as King Richard, and doing a pretty solid Connery impression (since Connery played Richard in the Kevin Costner Robin Hood). But the movie overall borrows so many set-ups, jokes and material from Brooks’ more beloved films (Blazing Saddles, to name one), that it just makes the film so much less-than. Seriously, watch this clip, and count the groan-to-laugh ratio. Then go watch Young Frankenstein or Spaceballs to cheer yourself up.