Best: Lawrence Of Arabia (1962)
Beautifully crafted, windswept epic that won itself a clutch of Oscars for all the behind the scenes toiling.
Perfect casting (O’Toole is phenomenal), gorgeous cinematography and, despite a four hour runtime, never anything less than thoroughly engaging. They don’t make ‘em like they used to.
Worst: The Scorpion King (2002)
How to score a sandy epic with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson in the titular role? With rock music, of course. Gorrrsh!
Dreadful spin-off from Stephen Sommers’ newly-invigorated Mummy movie franchise, it’s like the producers forgot that the worst bit about The Mummy Returns was the dreadful, cartoon CGI finale with Johnson rendered a dead-eyed animated menace. Daft and unnecessary.
Best: Clash Of The Titans (1981)
Girly hair and Harryhausen’s brilliant stop-motion monsters ensure that while this is nowhere near the kind of quality as Jason And The Argonauts , Clash ’81 is a treat that holds its own winsome charm…
Worst: Clash Of The Titans (2010)
…Unlike this dodgy millennium remake, which is just about the kitschiest thing rendered on celluloid since Flash Gordon . Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes do a good job of tangoing about each other as sibling rivals, but the rest of the flick is hollow and charmless. Don’t even get us started on that rip off 3D.
Shame, Worthington had so much promise as a new action star. Here’s hoping he has the sense to bail on the proposed sequel before his fledgling career is put out to pasture.
Best: The Mummy (1999)
Before Stephen Sommers headed up big budget dreck like Van Helsing and G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra , he managed to birth this franchise reboot over at Universal.
Kicking the old shuffling Mummy flicks into the modern age, Sommers made the interesting decision to use not Karloff and chums as inspiration, but Indiana Jones and numerous action romps. The result is a tongue-in-cheek caper that induces a few chills, but mostly ends up being a rollicking good adventure.
Worst: Prince Of Persia (2010)
Ah, games to movies are always tricky. But with Harry Potter alumnus Mike Newell at the helm, a beefed up Jake Gyllenhaal in his first ever action hero role, and bright-eyed British newbie Gemma Arterton all on the poster, this was going to be different, right?
Oh dear, they came so close. Attempting to establish itself as its own thing, Persia suffers a crisis of identity as it attempts to appeal to gamers and filmers alike, but ends up stiffing both parties. At least it’s better than this year’s Clash .
Best: Aladdin (1992)
Disney ain’t never had a friend, sorry, film like this since. Wildly entertaining, great tunes, and a showstopping voice performance from Robin Williams meant that Aladdin was Disney’s crown jewel during its ‘90s resurgence.
Worst: Troy (2004)
Isn’t Brad Pitt pretty? Never mind actually examining the social and historical problems facing the people of Troy – the main point being made in this glossy time waster is… “ooo, pretty.”
Forget emotion; Troy is a migraine-inducing exercise in brawn overtaking brain. Fight after fight is bludgeoned into our retinas with all the subtlety of a child going "ner ner!" while waving its hands in our faces. Trite.
Best: Stargate (1994)
Just a few years before he made it big with Independence Day , everybody’s favourite German apoca-flick director Roland Emmerich gave us this gloriously silly sci-fi adventure.
The titular contraption is one of the coolest movie gizmos ever created this side of Star Wars , while the ‘aliens as Egyptian gods’ concept is one that allows Emmerich to indulge in some fantastic sets. Shout out to Jaye Davidson as the androgynous Ra, too – a fittingly creepy villain.
Worst: Sahara (2005)
Plot? Who needs a plot when you’ve got Matthew McConaughey flexing his muscles and Penelope Cruz pouting like there’s no tomorrow?!
Sahara is a textbook example of how not to do the sandy epic. See, you have to get the sand to work for you. Here, it just acts as a glittering backdrop for preposterous scene after preposterous scene. And is it just us, or are the African stereotypes just a little too insulting to be funny?
Best: Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade (1989)
Third and final Indie film (Crystal Skulls? Never heard of them!), Last Crusade ropes in Jones Sr in the form of Sean Connery, giving his best performance in about 20 years. Sparring with Harrison Ford in a series of brilliant set-ups, these two sport Serious Chemistry™ and give us arguably the best Indie of them all.
Forget sand; this is pure gold.
Worst: Flight Of The Phoenix (2004)
We’re sure Jimmy Stewart rolled over in his grave when he got whiff of this remake. Brains are obviously in short supply in sandy terrain, as Phoenix plums for generic action that fails to fly, let alone soar. Dennis Quaid spends most of the film attempting to figure out why he signed up for this (we think it was for the sunbathing).
Best: The English Patient (1996)
Now here’s one with emotion by the plane load. Anthony Minghella proves himself a sure and capable talent, even when plotting a course for a film that is excessive in length and scope.
That English Patient succeeds in gripping despite its excessive (some might say engorged) frivolities is a testament to those involved, with Ralph Fiennes and Kristen Scott Thomas proving peerless as star-crossed lovers. The Lawrence Of Arabia of its time.
Worst: The Mummy Returns (2001)
And it’s all downhill from here for Stephen Sommers. Proving himself to be nothing more than a one hit pony, he follows up his astronomically successful first Mummy with a tired sequel that makes the classic follow-up mistake of carbon coping its predecessor.
The pigmy mummies are fun (if stupid), but that horrible CGI overloaded ending is the final nail in the coffin.