9 Fantastic Characters from Otherwise Terrible Movies

9. Rufio, Hook

THE CHARACTER: Admit it, you know more than damned well what character we’re talking about. It was an unstated fact until right now that if you are old enough to remember Wayne’s World, Blossom, and the life and death of Oreo Big Stuff, odds are you know Rufio right down to his army’s war-chant: “RUFIO! RUFIO! RUFIO!”

WHY HE’S AWESOME: Rufio is more than the oldest member of the Lost Boys in Hook: He is a Peter Pan for everybody who ever hated Peter Pan. As opposed to that androgynous Peter panzy who, let’s be frank here, is usually played by a girl…

… Rufio is a bone-encrusted, self-avowed killer that any pre-teenager from the 90’s would have pledged their loyalty to in a heartbeat. He was declared head of the Lost Boys after Peter Pan left, and from the looks of it was better at the job than “the Pan” ever was. Rufio converted his tropical headquarters into a graffiti-covered skatepark/playground, equipped its adolescents with “Wind Riders,” and re-branded his guerrillas with a new purpose for their eternal youth: “We kill pirates.”

In short, if Neverland has anything close to the Dark Side of the Force, you’d better believe this badass was tapping it. (Or, at the very least, going through its underwear drawer.)

It’s not makeup, it’s WAR PAINT!

WHY HE COULD NOT SAVE THE MOVIE: While Jaws and Raiders of the Lost Ark could serve as film classes on how to make good movies, Hook is more a lesson on how even good filmmakers make really, really bad movies. The Lost Boys were rewritten to be as politically-friendly during the socially-awkward early ’90s as possible, Dustin Hoffman deliberately played Captain Hook as ambiguously gay, and lastly, the film somehow found a way to look even more like a theme park than Pirates of the Caribbean.

8. The Lord of Darkness, Legend

THE CHARACTER: Perhaps the greatest artistic depiction of the Devil. Ever.

How Chick-fil-A probably views Dan Savage.

WHY HE’S AWESOME: In addition to looking like this…

…and sounding like Tim Curry, he beats the utter shit out of an ’80s-era Tom Cruise wearing a Link-outfit.

WHY HE COULD NOT SAVE THE MOVIE:  Alas, much more screen-time is dedicated to Tom Cruise in the Link-outfit than to Darkness shooting fire from his fingertips.

However, some could argue that that was an even better part of the movie.

7. Baldwin IV, Kingdom of Heaven

THE CHARACTER: The enigmatic and enlightened King of Jerusalem who is played by an uncredited Edward Norton.

WHY HE’S AWESOME: Edward Norton’s “phenomenal” performance as Baldwin IV was one of the few things critics liked about the movie, and even drew comparisons to Marlon Brando. (Truth be told, it sounds like Norton was doing an impression of him.)

WHY HE COULD NOT SAVE THE MOVIE: Partially because Kingdom of Heaven was absolutely butchered in the cutting-room, and in larger part because Edward Norton had to share all his scenes with Orlando Bloom.

If only he had a mask that could make him a better actor.

6. The Martians, Mars Attacks!


WHY THEY’RE AWESOME: We’ve been making films about Martians for almost 100 years, yet these deceitful bastards stand out head and shoulders above all the rest. They are the ones that inspired the Destroy All Humans! series and have staked an even larger claim of pop culture than the legendary Martians from War of the Worlds.

WHY THEY COULD NOT SAVE THE MOVIE: Considering that the movie was based on Topps trading cards, we’re still amazed the film did not go straight to video.


5. The Bugs, Starship Troopers

THE CHARACTERS: The perfect enemy.

How Tony Montana viewed his enemies.

WHY THEY’RE AWESOME: They have been duplicated, imitated, and flat-out ripped in countless movies and shooters for the same reason as zombies: they’re that fun to kill.

WHY THEY COULD NOT SAVE THE MOVIE: Even Niel Patrick Harris could not save this movie. It was directed by Paul Verhoeven post-Showgirls and succeeded at only three aims: Promoting fascism, pissing off fans of the book, and making something as everyday as killing bugs more fun than we could have ever imagined.

Yes, it succeeded at that last bit spectacularly, but still…

4. Sandy Lyle, Along Came Polly

THE CHARACTER: The single greatest–or at the very least funniest–performance of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s career.

Admit it, this guy is why you bought the DVD.

WHY HE’S AWESOME: In addition to introducing the word “sharted” to the English lexicon, Sandy Lyle gives a rather brutally-honest dramatization of the inevitable fate of all child-actors.

WHY HE COULD NOT SAVE THE MOVIE: We don’t need to throw Rotten Tomatoes at you to underscore that the film was just another addition to the Ben Stiller torture-porn library.

3. Ulysses S. Grant, Wild Wild West

THE CHARACTER: The dude on the fifty-dollar bill. Also, the 18th President of the United States.

Russell Crowe?

Why he’s awesome: In addition to this being one of the few on-screen portrayals of Ulysses S. Grant, Kevin Kline did a pretty impressive job performing him. He consulted Grant historian John Y. Simon to get the late-President’s voice down, and the film’s portrayal of Grant has been praised for the historical accuracy of his persona and sobriety. To date, it just might be the finest portrayal of President Grant in cinematic history.

Why he could not save the movie: Even John Y. Simon acknowledged Wild Wild West was “a terrible movie,” but he did not blame Kevin Kline. “It wasn’t his fault; he’s a very good actor.”

We’re pretty sure that crowd running away in the background is the audience.

2. Jigsaw, Saw

THE CHARACTER: One of the most original cinematic horror villains since Hannibal Lecter: A serial killer with terminal cancer. Seriously, only in the 21st century could you have pulled this off.

How funny would it be if this movie inspired Arkham City.

WHY HE’S AWESOME: “I want to play a game” has already become legendary, and the twist-ending in the original Saw was enough to bring its villain back as the key figure and selling-item for the Saw franchise four movies after his character was killed off.

WHY HE COULD NOT SAVE THE MOVIE: While the film did succeed at making torture porn mainstream, the consensus is that Saw was so many piss-poor performances from seasoned actors that it makes you think they shot the whole movie in one take.

1. Odysseus, Troy

THE CHARACTER: Sean Bean’s take on Odysseus, which was heralded as “perfect” and “amiable enough to warrant a sequel.”

Most likely, a sequel where the main character unexpectedly dies.

WHY HE’S AWESOME: Odysseus is a very tricky character to portray in a film like Troy because, despite his popularity, he was not the key figure in Iliad: Achilles and Hector are. Nevertheless, while virtually the entire film sunk as a result of Brad Pitt being an unconvincing Achilles and its made-up ending, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone complaining about Sean Bean’s epic take on Odysseus.

King Odysseus

WHY HE COULD NOT SAVE THE MOVIE: Roger Ebert described Troy as a film that “sidesteps the existence of the Greek gods, turns its heroes into action movie clichés and demonstrates that we’re getting tired of computer-generated armies.”

In short, we’re amazed they didn’t recast all the Greeks as Christians just to make it appeal more to modern audiences.


Jacopo della Quercia is now on Twitter. Follow him

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