Part of what makes sci-fi such a fascinating and rewarding genre is that, unlike so many others, it thrives on twisting formulas instead of adhering to them. But taking risks is, well, risky. Frequently, sci-fi movies with big ideas and promising premises end up being much worse than generic, ambition-free genre flicks. And in a few instances, musicians have gotten caught up in the collateral damage.
We’re taking a look at five abysmal sci-fi movies featuring musicians who nevertheless emerged relatively unscathed. In fact, you probably forgot they popped up in these duds — which is why we’re here to remind you.
Iggy Pop and Ice-T in Tank Girl (1995)
The most tragic entry on this list, Tank Girl is a feminist sci-fi flick based on a kickass comic with so much potential, but it completely disintegrates into lame/insane jumble halfway through. Sadly, the movie tanked Lori Petty’s career, but two musicians who appeared in the movie, Iggy Pop and Ice-T, were slightly luckier in that absolutely no one remembers they were in it. Okay, “lucky” is a strong word to use in the case of Ice-T, who spends the entire movie in bizarre makeup because his character is a HUMAN-KANGAROO HYBRID. Why? Don’t ask, you’re better off not knowing.
Sting in Dune (1984)
Playing the nephew of the main villain in David Lynch’s disastrous adaptation of the beloved sci-fi novel, Sting shows off his stick-thin figure (in a pair of armored undies, no less) and zero acting aptitude in Dune. With spiky orange hair and wild eyes, he’s like the regional theater version of Rutger Hauer’s genuinely frightening and affecting villain from Blade Runner, which came out two years prior.
Kris Kristofferson in Planet of the Apes (2001)
While the original is a beautifully disorienting sci-fi classic, the Tim Burton remake is unnecessary, uninspired and unwatchable. Country legend Kris Kristofferson plays the father of the film’s female romantic lead — which no one remembers, but considering this movie’s reputation, that’s probably fine with him.
Justin Timberlake in In Time (2011)
While it’s a great premise for a film – time is literally money, which means the rich stay young and live indefinitely while the poor start their countdown to death at 25 – In Time was a critical and commercial miss. Somehow, even though Justin Timberlake stars in the film, the Teflon pop star emerged from this movie unscathed, appearing in a Coen Brothers film and releasing the smash hit The 20/20 Experience just two years later. If someone asked you to list everything Timberlake has done in the last decade, you’d probably rattle off 20 things before even remembering this movie exists.
Tom Petty in The Postman (1997)
After starring in and directing the 1995 post-apocalyptic flop Waterworld, Kevin Costner starred in and directed yet another post-apocalyptic flop. The Postman features a rare acting appearance from Tom Petty, who plays himself – that is, if the apocalypse happened and Tom Petty emerged as the leader of a hippie commune of survivors. Tom Petty’s acting is…well, let’s just say this: Tom Petty sure is an incredible singer-songwriter, isn’t he?