Movies are getting prettier all the time. Thanks to computer animation, IMAX cameras, 3-D and a million other innovations, we can now create films that tower like candy palaces. But that just means it's easier for movies to be pretty but dumb. Here are 12 films that are lovely to look at, but totally braindead.
1) Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979): At long last, Star Trek looked astonishing. But it was a dumber, slower remake of the "Nomad" episode.
2) Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula (1992): Every frame of this movie is gorgeously crafted, full of silhouettes and chiaroscuro tableaux. But it doesn't add up to anything.
3) What Dreams May Come (1998): gorgeous visuals of the afterlife, along with a meditation about the power of art. But also, new-age claptrap.
4) Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004): Perhaps the most stunning scifi movie of the past 20 years, with lovely 1920s imagery, but the plot is as silly as the serials the movie pays homage to.
5) Ultraviolet (2006): Milla Jovovich stalks through an airbrushed, candy-coated dystopia. Best fashion video ever. But it's about the kid from X-Men 3 being the cure for vampires this time. Or something.
6) The Fountain (2006): Darren Aronofsky's story of immortality and a space tree is just visually astonishing. And yet, none of those grand themes ever come to anything.
7) Avatar (2009): James Cameron's epic revitalized movies, with its gorgeous creatures and bioluminescent surroundings. But it's a dumber Dances With Wolves.
8) The Lovely Bones (2009): Peter Jackson responded with his own What Dreams May Come, which takes Alice Sebold's sad, weird novel and smothers it with lovely CG marmalade.
9) Skyline (2010): this movie looked like a revelation, with its stunning creature effects and visions of aliens plucking people out of the sky. But what the hell was it about?
10) Immortals (2011): Possibly Tarsem Singh's most beautiful movie, this film had Greek gods painted into digital frescoes. So much pretty. And yet, it made Clash of the Titans look cerebral.
11) Prometheus (2012): Ridley Scott substituted beautiful landscapes and spaceships for the darkness of his original Alien. But it's not just the characters in this movie who stumble heedlessly — the film does that, too.
12) Oz The Great and Powerful (2013): And finally, Sam Raimi, too, got seduced by the power of eye candy, creating a film where every shot is a wonder. It all weighs down what should have been a silly B-movie.
Thanks to Meredith, Annalee and Genevieve for the input!