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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Aaron’s Top 10 Worst Films of 2012


This is not really a post of joy, but every year does see the release of films that are just not good.  I do not try to seek out these films, with the majority being ones that I did think could have redeemable elements, but that just wasn’t the case here.  This list contains what I think were all the biggest misses of the year, which I watched in full and could not handle.  I also have a list of disappointing films, which are not necessarily terrible, but certainly far from living up to their potential.  It is fortunate that I had a much harder time (in a good way) putting together the “best of” list, but for now, here is a list of films I would put at the bottom of an otherwise very good year.


Most Disappointing:  Ok, so I wouldn’t say that these are terrible films, but they are not very good and more importantly, they are films I thought had potential, but wound up being incredibly disappointing. 


The Bourne Legacy – As a huge fan of the Bourne franchise, I was really excited to be getting a new installment.  Even though I knew Matt Damon wasn’t coming back, Jeremy Renner was not a bad substitute and Tony Gilroy moving up from just a screenwriter on the previous films to full director (given how much I love Michael Clayton) seemed like another possibly winning move.  Unfortunately, the movie ended up being incredibly dull, overlong, and not the franchise restart that I wanted to see.  If another Bourne film gets made, I hope there is better control over making that film flow. (Review HERE)


The Watch – This comedy seemed like it was rife with potential.  Initially just seen as a film about a neighborhood watch team, the winning cast combination of Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, and Richard Ayoade was a really fun idea and Akiva Schaffer (of Hot Rod and The Lonely Island fame) as director was something of a good sign.  Then the reveal that it involved aliens took me back a little.  Still, it could have proved to be fun.  However, after having seen the film, it ended up being wasted potential, as the jokes were hit and miss, the plot was bland, and the whole thing felt more overly improvised than necessary.  It is not nearly as bad as The Sitter, but the potential wasn’t cashed in on. (Review HERE)


Step Up Revolution – Bear with me on this.  Much like the Fast and Furious franchise, I have a weird affinity for these Step Up films, but this latest entry was incredibly disappointing, based on how legitimately solid I found the previous entry in the series to be.  I never watch these films for plot, but this one seemed to be trying to be terrible.  On top of that, sure the dancers are all talented, but the change in directors did not help, as every dance sequence was overly edited and took a lot away from what seemed like clever setups for various dancing scenarios.  I regarded the dances in Step Up 3D as well constructed action sequences that happened to be in a dance movie.  Revolution feels like pale imitations of the Bourne film copycats. (Review HERE)


Not Quite Top 10 Worst, Bust Still Pretty Bad:




Now for the Top 10:


10. The Paperboy – Lee Daniels’ follow up to his acclaimed film Precious, which scored multiple Oscar nominations.  The Paperboy is very much a step back for him and I wasn’t even that big a fan of Precious to begin with.  Still, The Paperboy is a celebration of trashy cinema, which the film seems happy to acknowledge, except it also isn’t very good at embracing that element.  It is an unfocused piece of work with John Cusack at his dirtiest and Zac Efron at his blandest.  Nicole Kidman is certainly getting the most attention out of everyone here (even though Macy Gray is arguable and surprisingly doing the best work in the film), but if being known as the film that has Nicole Kidman pee on someone is the way to keep this film in your memory bank, something must be missing.  (Review HERE)


9. The Raven – Oh man, I really like John Cusack, but I didn’t realize until writing this that he’s also in two of the worst films I have seen this year.  What puts The Raven on this list is the idea that it could have been so much more.  There was a lot of potential for this film to be a fun genre exercise, based on its fun, pulpy period premise - Edgar Alan Poe vs. a serial killer using Poe’s poems against him.  That is a cool idea, but the film is unfortunately unsure of itself, full of bland story developments and characters, and not nearly as much fun as it could be.  Sure it is stylish, but it ends up coming off as a very forgettable period thriller.  (Review HERE)


8. Project X – The thing that makes movies like Superbad or even Weird Science work, as far as “unpopular kids” getting to be a big part of the be-all-end-all party of the season is that we like those kids in it.  In Project X, all of the lead characters are unlikable and desperate in a film that is just ugly to watch.  Applying the ‘found footage’ approach to something besides a horror film is a fun idea, but not when you are following a few jerk kids that just want to get laid.  I’ve said this before, but Project X is the movie that tells you it is okay to load up your peers on drugs and alcohol, if you believe it will make you a high school god.  I guess if you’re too hooked on the trance music to care, then don’t worry about it.  (Review HERE)


7. The Dictator – This movie almost doesn’t belong on this list, simply because I almost did not remember it.  This could have been the comedy smash of the summer, but instead, The Dictator came into theaters and subsequently went out on Blu-ray before the summer had even ended.  I like Sacha Baron Cohen, but definitely more so when he isn’t in these sorts of roles.  The film is admittedly not the same as Borat or Bruno, but it definitely falls more in that realm of this brand of comedy than the more interesting territory he has tried to explore (Hugo for example).   As it stands, The Dictator is a very hit or miss comedy, with an incredibly weak fish-out-of-water plot structure that could have at least worked, had it something wittier or timely to say about politics, foreign policy, or whatever kind of message it wanted to get across.  Sadly, it didn’t.  (Review HERE)


6. Total Recall – This movie was such a nothing experience for so many reasons that I really question why I gave it the initial, higher rating that I had for it.  I was really excited by the idea of remaking Total Recall, because it is a solid premise that could be explored further with today’s advances in technology.  Unfortunately, the movie is about as bland a sci-fi adventure as they come, with ridiculous concepts and story elements to boot.  None of the cast seems interested in being in this film at all, save for Kate Beckinsale, who is at least trying to have fun in a villainous role.  The action is fairly lackluster.  And the effects, as expensive as they may have been, only go to reveal how ridiculous some of its ideas are.  An elevator that goes through the Earth’s core, really?  Plus, the movie strips away the most intriguing element, its ambiguity, in favor of a completely straight-forward chase thriller.  A completely missed opportunity for something greater and another reason why Len Wiseman is one of the most mediocre action directors working today.  (Review HERE)


5. Playing For Keeps – Why oh why does Gerard Butler keep making these bad decisions?  Following his flop that was Chasing Mavericks, he returns once again with Playing For Keeps, which is just terrible.  It is an awful romantic comedy that is made worse by the fact that the screenplay, which is already bad, led to good actors and actresses doing their best to give terrible performances.  It was amazing to see Dennis Quaid and Uma Thurman compete by seeing who could give a worse performance in this film.  Add to that a plot that seems to lose track of what it’s about, Butler’s character that makes many idiotic decisions, and commits plenty of other movie sins along the way to its hokey ending.  Give this movie a red card and pull it out of the game for good. (Review HERE)


4. Red Tails – It’s really a shame that this movie did not turn out to be any good.  George Lucas has long wanted to be involved in making a film about the Tuskegee Army, but having now done so, I am sure that no amount of work to create a ‘Special Edition’ years down the road could fix the mess that is this movie.  This film was rife with clichés and paint-by-numbers characters and plotting, with seemingly slick aerial dogfights as its way to justify it.  Unfortunately, those dogfights were all incredibly overproduced and took away from the drama as they never really felt real.  I guess I can just be thankful that the movie wasn’t in 3D.  Regardless, the film is just an uneven mess, with dreadful dialogue, and nothing that wouldn’t make watching the History Channel or Star Wars a better choice entirely.  (Review HERE)


3. Red Dawn – I previously regarded Total Recall as the most unnecessary film of the year, but that crown fell on to this film, after seeing it in November.  Red Dawn is god-awful.  It was shelved for a long time due to MGM’s bankruptcy, but I am sure there are plenty of people that just wish it stayed that way.  This is the film where we are taught that a five-minute training montage with Thor is enough to make pretty young faces able to out maneuver and kill trained North Korean soldiers.  This is also the movie that tells us North Korea could launch a successful, hostile invasion of the US.  The original Red Dawn may not be a great movie, but it has a weirdly fun concept that was matched with a believable level of plausible fear.  This remake has none of that, it exists for no reason and has some ugly messages behind it.  (Review HERE)


2. For A Good Time, Call… - The kind of movie I dislike the most is a straight-forward comedy that is not funny.  It is because there is nothing to admire about a film that can’t succeed where it counts the most.  It doesn’t have flashy visual effects to make up for anything, it just makes you sit there and feel punished for going to see a movie.  For A Good Time, Call… is just awful, which is almost a shame since I am practically picking on an independent film, which I would love to support more, except that the movie is just flat-out bad.  The premise of the film being a buddy comedy about two girls running a phone sex company is pretty dated already and the fact that it tries to get a pass by having girls say as many dirty things as possible, and also trot out Justin Long as the stereotypical ‘gay best friend’ just put this film even lower on the list as one of the more regrettable filmgoing experiences of the year.  (Review HERE)


1. Piranha 3DD – Having spoken about every other film in a negative sense already, nothing could still really compare to the complete and utter disaster that was Piranha 3DD.  This could easily make a worst film of the decade list as well.  It is really like no one tried here.  Everything about this movie bad and unenjoyably.  Just because the movie knows what kind of movie it is, doesn’t give it a license to take every opportunity in being as horrible as possible.  The only thing I can do from here is quote the last paragraph of my initial review:  


“It is strangely funny how everything about this film is how many would have thought the previous one would have turned out.  Piranha 3D was a lot of things and gratuitous was definitely one of them, yet it somehow made that film admirable in so many ways that Piranha 3DD is not.  The previous film managed to deliver spectacle in the form of copious bits of gore and nudity that was creative, humorous, and dare I say subversive (in the most basic ways) at times.  Despite the sequel having seemingly more of a budget to work with and I would imagine some clout given that the first film was somewhat of a surprise hit (monetarily and critically), it takes so many steps back in failing to deliver a bigger and better experience.  This is a film that flounders away its potential and settles for bigger boobs, yet weaker everything else.” 


It is certainly an honor to be at the top of a “Worst Of” list, so congratulations Piranha 3DD, you did it.  (Review HERE)


So that’s it.  Unfortunately, I did not get to cross Alex Cross before the year ended, so I’m just going to have to call this the Alex Cross Memorial Worst Films List for now.  Enjoy and have a happy holiday season.  I’ll be back with the Top Ten Best Films of 2012 List soon enough! Just remember...



Aaron is a writer/reviewer for WhySoBlu.com.  Follow him on Twitter @AaronsPS3.
He also co-hosts a podcast,
Out Now with Aaron and Abe, available via iTunes or at HHWLOD.com.

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