Monday, December 31, 2012

An Expected Journey: The Worst Films of 2012

Battleship didn't even make the cut!
The New Year is almost upon us, and you know what that means... no, it doesn't mean you'll be getting drunk off of your ass tonight and waking up next to someone named "Charlie"... I mean, you will, but that's not what I'm talking about. No, December 31'st is time for the third annual "Worst Movies of 2012" list, compiled painstakingly by yours truly. This year was a big one for mediocrity in filmmaking, and while the industry as a whole took an upswing, you can mainly attribute that to the box office being dominated by The Dark Knight Rises, Skyfall, The Hunger Games and The Avengers, the third highest-grossing movie of all time.

The rules? Well, there are two. For one, every movie on this list was a wide release. That means that while some of the worst movies I saw this year were in fact Branded, Girl in Progress, Casa de mi Padre, Tai Chi 0 and Bangkok Revenge, the fact that they all played at fewer than 500 theaters or screens means the vast majority of people in the country were never even subjected to them. The titles on this list were widely released, and everybody got to take a bite of something truly awful.

The second rule? I don't list movies I didn't see. I saw 117 movies in 2012, but there are still a few big ones that I missed this year. Most of those were ones whose Tomato-Meter ranked well below minimum standards or were rushed out of theaters quickly. So while the likes of A Thousand Words, The Devil Inside, Gone, Parental Guidance, The Lucky One and That's My Boy might be considered among the year's worst, I really wouldn't know anything about it. What I saw was bad enough.

So without more delay, these were Mr. Anderson's worst movies of 2012!

10) Alex Cross

Poor, poor Matthew Fox. Every time he tries to get a toehold on a legitimate movie career, he gets cast in duds like Speed Racer and this VERY bad thriller, which decided to go the low-budget route despite being adapted from one of the most iconic modern fiction characters. Okay guys, everything can't be The DaVinci Code but that doesn't mean you can't spend SOME money. Alex Cross wastes the talents of Fox and a rare non-cross-dressing Tyler Perry in telling a budget story that is stupid, derivative and just not worth anybody's time.

9) Chernobyl Diaries

Where exactly are the "diaries" in Chernobyl Diaries, a typical horror film (that feels like found-footage but isn't) that blocks out the gore but not the horrible acting and storytelling that made it all possible? Moreover, why should you care? Despite an intriguing concept and a fascinating locale, the whole thing reeks of an opportunity to take advantage of Oren Peli's name while never producing anything resembling a frightening moment. Half an hour into the movie you'll wonder where director Bradley Parker is going. As the final credits roll, you'll wonder what you were thinking.

8) Silent Hill: Revelation

Six years after the first video-game-inspired Silent Hill became a minor sleeper hit, the producers who owned its rights finally responded with a cheap, disposable sequel that lives right up to the game's dwindling prospects. It takes everything that was great about the original and replaces it (Except for Sean Bean) with mediocre effects and a silly, linear storyline that never takes advantage of the best aspects of the series. Revelation just couldn't overcome horrible Canadian-tinted accents in its solitary mission to bury the weary Silent Hill franchise for good.

7) Dark Shadows

The Tim Burton/Johnny Depp collaborative team has been an overrated pairing almost as long as the two have been in the business. Their latest "effort" was the destruction of a beloved cult classic soap opera that aired from 1966-71, one that quickly alienated longtime fans with its silly, over-the-top nostalgia trip that was apropos of nothing. Burton has yet to learn that his signature "look" will only go so far, and his best efforts in recent years (besides the excellent Frankenweenie) have involved him producing, not directing. Depp, meanwhile, hasn't been truly impressive in years now. That the pair manage to assemble an excellent cast, create an interesting story and STILL flub the whole thing is ALMOST downright commendable.

6) One for the Money

If One for the Money is the best we can expect from Katherine Heigl, then she should have never left network television. It's rare that a movie can be racist against EVERYONE, even whites, and the story itself tries to do far too much without anything resembling a solid foundation. Foul-mouthed hookers? Violent Latinos? Man Candy? One for the Money has it all! In the end, we just don't CARE enough about Stephanie Plum or what she has to do to get her man, and while the film - based on the series of novels by Janet Evanovich - is rife for franchising, this will likely be the first and last time we have to listen to so many Brooklyn accents at once at the theater. Outside of NYC, obviously.

5) The Cold Light of Day

Reason number one to worry about next year's Superman tale Man of Steel is actor Henry Cavill's lead-in, a movie that wasn't even supposed to be released wide but for a last-second push that amounted to less than nothing at the box office. How many Jason Bourne clones must we be subjected to (including half-hearted The Bourne Legacy) before we learn that there's no replacement for the real Matt Damon? Like Abduction before it, you have to suspend your disbelief to unheard-of levels in order to take anything positive away from The Cold Light of Day, a film that proves Sigourney Weaver just doesn't care what she's in anymore. Hopefully, Cavill will overcome this obstacle and rebound, because this definitely was not the way to establish him as a future action star.

4) The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2

I wonder which genre Twilight irreparably damaged more: teen romance or movie monster horror? It was bad enough that the franchise and series author Stephenie Meyer had single-handedly transformed the view of romantic relationships for young women for the worse by saying they are useless unless they find a man; even when filmmakers actually throw money at the finale, it's obvious that the creative minds behind this turd have no clue what they are doing. Bad special effects, bad screenplay, interesting characters but no sense of value for them: these are just some of Part 2's multiple transgressions. This was the #5 highest grossing movie in the year, and it cemented the talentless Kristen Stewart's place in the pantheon of Hollywood starlets. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to watch some Supernatural to purge myself.

3) Killing Them Softly

It's sad when a movie that was supposed to garner Oscar support falls so flatly that you never saw it coming. What could have been a solid crime story with great acting sabotages itself by turning out dull, disinterested dialogue to the tune of the uncertainty of 2008's presidential election. It takes a special kind of bad to turn Brad Pitt's acting career toxic overnight, and a talented cast is wasted on a film that doesn't seem to care that it was made, or the reasons why. You certainly won't.

2) Mirror Mirror

Ironically, that episode of the original Star Trek is still among my all-time favorites. This, however, was the worse of two (TWO!) Snow White adaptations that were released in 2012, and it was the number two new release behind the underwhelming Wrath of the Titans. It was obvious from the get-go that Tarsem Singh did not know how to create a decent family film after directing adult-only fare in The Cell and Immortals. But with the horrid acting of Julia Roberts and Lily Collins (the young woman was the star of TWO of the worst movies of 2011), Mirror Mirror sinks to a low that even Kristen Stewart couldn't hope to attain. Obviously, it was this title's destiny to be the #2 at everything, including worst of the year.

1) The Apparition

Don't recognize this title? Then you're one lucky human being. This movie came out briefly in late August, just as the summer movie season was coming to a close. Desperately trying to build a film around Twilight's Ashley Greene, Captain America's Sebastian Stan and Harry Potter's Tom Felton might have worked if director Todd Lincoln had tried putting in an actual story. Instead we see just about every horror trope reveal itself in a movie that lacks as much in logic as it does scares. Worst of all was the idea of a ghost that becomes more powerful the more you believe in it (you know, the only original thought the film had), a concept that was in the trailer but never actually mentioned in the movie itself. The result was a neutered, stillborn atrocity that I will never recommend to another human being. Ever.

What about you readers out there? What were the worst movies you saw in 2012?


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting your yearend review, Mr. Anderson. This year I started a little movie club with a few of my coworkers at DISH. On Saturdays we all meet, brining a selection from the thousands of movies available through our DISH Blockbuster @Home rental service. Nearly every movie you mentioned managed to find its way to our screening room, and I can’t say that I really disagree with anything you said. 2012 was a rough year for movies, so narrowing it down to just 10 is almost impossible.

Richard J. Marcej said...

Well, I only saw 70 films in the theater this year and even with this total I tend to shy away from films that look as if they'd be a waste of time & money to sit through.

Though, of those films I did see, two stand out as really, really, REALLY bad.
1. Ghost Rider Spirit Of Vengeance
2. The Three Stooges

There were a handful of films;
3. The Campaign
4. Sherlock Holmes Game Of Shadows
5. Ted
6. Total Recall
that I thought could have been MUCH better then what they ended up with on the big screen (in most cases it's the scripts that failed them)

The film that disappointed me the most in 2012 was the movie I was looking forward to see in in '12.
7. Prometheus
It should have been great (IMO) but was nothing more than a mangled mess.