Bow Before Spectacle: 10 Movies That Didn’t Need Actors

Movies are different things to different people, but to the average moviegoer it’s all about the event. Most ticket buyers there are for the excitement of seeing something on screen they’ve never seen before. Few directors are better at delivering bigger and louder better than Michael Bay, his Transformers movies are all brilliant spectacle and flash, a pulse-pounding series of explosions and giant robots. Sure they contain actors, but I submit that Transformers doesn’t actually need them. We’re there for the robots not that annoying kid who’s supposed to be our cipher. Should the audience take a moment to turn away from the cybernetic, CGI creatures stomping around on screen it’s only to stare at Megan Fox’s rack and, let’s face it, nice as her bosom is making it bounce doesn’t exactly qualify one for an Oscar. Plug any random nookie girl into the film, stick her in a hot outfit next to Optimus Prime and you have a movie. Game on, let’s buy a ticket.

All that acting Shia LaBeouf is doing gets in the way of the explosions. Sometimes we all want to sit back, relax, and be wowed. There’s nothing wrong with a few cheap thrills and we don’t always need actors to get them. Here are a few other movies that didn’t need actors. Some might even have been better without them.

AVP: Alien Vs. Predator

The title says it all. No one bought a ticket to Alien vs. Predator to stare at Sanaa Lathan. Paul Anderson’s film is full of problems but one of the biggest is the human equation, which mostly just gets in the way. Audiences wanted Aliens fighting Predators, instead they got Aliens fighting Predators whenever they’re not busy with humans who none of us really care about anyway. Humanity is unnecessary filler in a film that could have easily happened on a far off planet and simply given us 90 minutes of alien on alien action. Deliver that and maybe Anderson’s hack directing is more forgivable. Do that and then who really cares if they have a decent script? Like a basketball player in the front row wearing a cowboy hat, humanity only gets in the way of the screen.


Disney was perhaps, the first Hollywood studio to realize that actors are sometimes superfluous. They didn’t have any for their 1940 animated classic Fantasia. The film happens almost entirely without words as beautiful, animated images roll past on the screen accompanied by music performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra. Voice actors would only have gotten in the way and even the brief narration which precedes each piece was perhaps, mostly unnecessary. Mickey doesn’t need to speak for us to understand the mess he’s gotten himself into in “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and there’s little Eddie Murphy wisecracks could have done to enhance the dances of animated fairies and flowers in “Nutcracker Suite”. Disney’s talented animators created artwork which spoke for itself.

King Kong, Or Any Giant Monster Movie

Pick whichever version you like, we’re just there to see the giant monkey. Whether it’s the original 1933 take or the updated, CGI filled 2005 version from Peter Jackson, it’s the ape that does all the acting. Sure you need a pretty blonde to be the object of his obsession, but since their relationship is based primarily on random physical attraction it’s not like she really needs to say anything. Put a giant monkey on a skyscraper with a blowup doll and that’s what your audience wants. Maybe there’s a deeper level to the film, an emotional connection, but again it’s between the audience and the mega-monkey, not the audience and the puny humans running around screaming beneath his feet.


Much like Fantasia, the first half of WALL-E bravely avoids dialogue, voice actors, or spoken word of any kind. Instead it relies on a series of bleeps and boops from its lonely robot character and on the brilliant, beautiful work of Pixar’s animators. It’s only when voice actors get involved, when mankind floats on screen in his reclining hover chair, that WALL-E starts to falter. If only we could have stayed there on that blasted, ruined planet once called Earth, following that one lonely robot as he sorts though the crumbling reminders of a society long gone, then maybe WALL-E would have garnered the best picture nomination his fans coveted.


Showgirls biggest flaw wasn’t the horrible script, but that director Paul Verhoven cast wannabe actresses instead of going with straight up strippers. At best Verhoven’s film is a guilty pleasure, worth watching strictly for T&A value. Anyone who bought a ticket, bought it purely to enjoy the spectacle of the human, female body. If they’d first admitted that we’re there only to watch women take their clothes off, then I’m pretty sure they could have done better than Elizabeth Berkley. Pull a van up in the alley behind a local strip club, open the door and fill it with women of loose morals. Turn your cameras on, tell them where to stand while they strip, and you’ll instantly have a better movie. If you’re going to make a film about girls getting naked, then why not hire women who do it professionally? You’re not fooling anyone by using actresses, except perhaps the actresses themselves. All I’m saying here is if you’re going to make this movie, then don’t kid yourself. Take it all the way, or don’t bother. Putting Gina Gershon’s name in the credits doesn’t justify it.

Drunken Master 2, Or Any Jackie Chan Movie

Drunken Master II is perhaps the greatest action movie ever made, and it’s not because of that scene where Jackie rolls around on the ground and whines like a little bitch. Jackie’s no actor, and he never will be. He’s a stunt man, this is a stunt movie, and a brilliant one. Chan and a team composed of some of the greatest stunt choreographers and martial artists assembled built an entire movie on doing wickedly cool stuff, and then wrote a script to justify it. It’s the ultimate kung fu spectacle, a high-water mark for the genre and if there are actors in it, it’s really only by accident. I don’t care whether Fei Hung’s mother has a gambling problem, but I definitely want to see him do that insane trick with the bench again.

The Fast and the Furious

Like most car movies, it’s all about the fetishizing of automobiles and speed. Sure the first movie had Vin Diesel and Tyrese was literally the only reason I was able to endure the second one, but for the real card nerds, the guys who dream of humping their Mom’s Subaru until it turns into a rocket, the people who these movies are really made for, the actors are just window dressing. Window dressing by the way is exactly how I’d define Paul Walker, a non-actor if there ever was one, plopped down into a franchise because he looks good sitting in bucket seats. The people who worship these movies don’t care who you put in them, as long as they see enough engine grease to get excited about changing the oil in their Mitsubishi tomorrow morning. It’s like a Transformers movie without all that pesky transforming.

Saw/Hostel And Torture Porn In General

It doesn’t matter who’s in the trap, as long as she’s pretty and unattainable to the gore hounds in the movie’s audience. All you really need for a successful torture porn flick is a a few screamers in low cut outfits. Barring that, any old piece of meat will do. Just look at Cary Elwes, who gives perhaps the worst performance in the history of cinema during the course of the first Saw film, yet the thing still went on to spawn one of the most popular, longest running horror franchises of all time. Whether you bring in an actor or a trained baboon the result is the same. Torture porn fiends want babes and blood and sick, twisted traps. They don’t really care whether the people caught in them, or for that matter the bad guys inventing them, are all that convincing.

The Day After Tomorrow

I submit that Roland Emmerich’s disaster flick not only didn’t need actors, it would have been better off without them. Everyone wants to see New York buried underneath a massive flood, but nobody wants to be forced to watch Jake Gyllenhaal battling horribly CGI’d wolves inside some glaciated tug boat. Without actors worth eating, no wolves; and without wolves, The Day After Tomorrow is a better movie. Spend that actor salary on flooding a few more cities. Can we get Tokyo underwater? What about Montreal? Those French-Canadian bastards have it coming. No one shows up to Emmerich’s disaster movies for the characters and while some, like Independence Day actually needed people to hold the plot together, The Day After Tomorrow is held together by a series of effects shots, which are only interrupted when someone walks in front of a blue screen to recite uninteresting dialogue.

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Though it’s obvious that George Lucas probably would have preferred to work with robots instead of actors on all three of the Star Wars prequel movies Episode I at least has a good performance from Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon, while Episode III has some pretty heavy dialogue as Anakin slips slowly over to the dark side. Episode II: Attack of the Clones has neither and it’s really just one long, wooden excuse to get us over to that CGI battlefield at the end of the film in which CGI robots shoot CGI humans who look like robots. From there it’s a race to the subsequent lightsaber duel between Count Dooku and computer generated renderings of Anakin, Obi Wan, and Yoda. Lucas has never been much good at actors anyway, with this film in particular the guy should have erased everyone and had the whole thing re-enacted by World of Warcraft avatars. It’s not like there’s all that much live action in it anyway.

Josh Tyler