DOH! The 10 most disappointing movies of 2012
Overall, this year in movies was a much-needed improvement over 2011, in terms of both quality and originality. But every year has its disappointments and 2012 was no different. Join me now as I re-visit this past year’s disappointments and relive the frustration of failed expectations, starting with number ten.
10. The Man with the Iron Fists
RZA’s kung-fu flop fails in just every category possible: acting, writing, story, etc. Now, I wasn’t expecting this movie to leave any sort of life-changing, philosophical impact on my life; I just wanted to watch an over-the-top, violent kung-fu movie; seeing is how it’s produced by Quentin Tarantino, I didn’t think that this expectation was, in any way, setting the bar too high. Apparently I was wrong because had I not gotten paid to watch it, I would have left not long into the movie.
The Man with the Iron Fists has Tarantino-esque aspirations, but fails to live up to any of them (after all, who outside of Tarantino can actually pull off a Tarantino flick?). The dialogue is full of unfunny one-liners, there’s never a surprising moment, and this movie is almost completely void of any memorable action sequences. These filmmakers spent too much time trying to deliver on the “witty” part and not enough on the ridiculous action that it so promised.
9. The Cold Light of Day
I have to admit, the only thing I knew about this film going into it was that it starred Bruce Willis, Sigourney Weaver, and the soon-to-be Superman, Henry Cavill. As this film slowly made itself known to me throughout the course of the first act, I found that this was merely a misconception: Bruce Willis dies twenty minutes in, and Weaver spends most of the movie either off screen or spewing some of the worst monologues I have heard in recent time. And that’s saying something, seeing is how Sigourney Weaver has now made a career out of short cameos and monologues.
Backtracking a bit, if you are an action movie (bare with me) and you kill off Bruce Willis, arguably one of the biggest action stars ever, after the first twenty minutes, you better have a solid backup plan. Unfortunately for the audience, The Cold Light of Day‘s backup plan is Henry Cavill. To be fair, I have never seen any other work by Cavill (and I’m beginning to see why), so maybe he isn’t always the most bland, mono-toned actor in the world. This movie fails to be even remotely entertaining, but succeeds in dashing my hopes for Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel.
8. Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection
So, why bother even including a Tyler Perry movie in on my list? Well, to be blunt: I am a fan of Perry’s Madea character. I find her to be a fascinating send-up of the stereotypical mold America has fashioned the Black lady: loud, ignorant, pushy; but also wise, caring, and family-oriented. Madea always plays a serious, pivotal role in the films that she appears in, but she always, er, usually makes me laugh and reminds me about those traditional family values we’ve lost track of as a nation. Even the movies that star her, namely “Madea’s something-or-other”, have some worth-while content.
Witness Protection is a different story, however. Where as most of Tyler Perry’s movies revolve and resolve around some family drama, this latest from Perry aspires to be a straight comedy. Unfortunately, this means that the wise, family-oriented Madea is out of the picture and all that remains is the ignorant, loudmouth Madea. Her antics are funny in short bursts, like in other none-Madea-center films, and when they’re balanced with that old soul of her’s. As a main attraction, however, it just does not work; it becomes too much to handle about 20 minutes in and continues on as a shameless, unfunny comedic wreck.
7. Dark Shadows
Just when you thought that popular culture was ready to put the vampire craze behind it, Director Tim Burton and Actor Johnny Depp awaken the tired beast from its slumber with their re-imaging of the cult-status television series, Dark Shadows. Unlike the original drama series, however, this version has a lighter, comedic tone, if only on paper.
The biggest problem with this “Johnny Burton” comedy, is that it never manages to land both feet in bounds in time for the touchdown: it struggles between being goofy and being serious/dark, and before it can establish itself as a viable dark comedy, the end credits roll. There is enough time, however, to waste yours. Disappointing, because these two filmmakers have found a lot of success with mixing the two in the past (see Sleepy Hallow or Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street for good examples).
“You sank my battleship!” Well, maybe not quite. But your wallet definitely took a hit if you paid to see this horrendous, forgive the pun, shipwreck of a movie. Not only did this movie fail to deliver on all the action it promised us in its trailer, but it failed to entertain in even the slightest. I guess this isn’t too surprising when your film stars a model, a pop singer who has never had a serious acting role, and that guy from John Carter.
Again, I was not expecting any profound, life-altering commentary; I was expecting what everyone else was expecting: Liam Neeson shooting missiles at giant, robot aliens. Sadly, Liam Neeson only had a small cameo and the rest of the movie revolves around a few untalented, wannabe actors (almost literally) doing things in montage to a multitude of AC/DC songs. The only credit that can be given to Director Peter Berg here is that he has good taste in music.
5. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
If I’m being totally honest with myself, I love the Crank movies as well as Nicholas Cage; I enjoy his over-the-top performances even when his movies are complete garbage. And after the first Ghost Rider, I can’t say I had high hopes after I heard about a planned sequel. That is until I saw the trailer; it’s probably the most badass movie trailer I have ever seen. Then I saw the movie…
The usual over-the-top performance that I enjoy from Mr. Cage was not there and in its place was a darker, more serious performance than this attempt at a grindhouse action flick needed. The only way I can describe it is: If Cage was a grape in the first Ghost Rider movie: not necessary for survival, but still a treat, then he was a raisen in this sequel: dried up and left a bad taste in my mouth. Not only was Cage less enjoyable, but this qualifies as one of (if not) the most boring action movies I have ever seen. Crank directors + Nicholas Cage= one of the biggest disappointments this year.
4. Playing for Keeps
I had the privilege of screening this movie at my theater. Yes, I got paid to watch this movie and yet, after the first twenty minutes, I could not bare sitting in the theater any longer. Playing for Keeps is supposed to be some type of hybrid between romantic comedy and a sports redemption flick. Unfortunately, it isn’t funny… at all. Not even a little. It’s not even they type of bad that is funny.
This is thanks in part to the horrible, horrible characters. I’m not talking just horribly written characters, but most of the characters in this story are horrible people, especially the women, who all seem to only want one thing from Gerard Butler’s character, and it ain’t a demonstration of his soccer skills… at least not demonstrations out on the field. All these talented actors should be disappointed in their collective agreement to star in this movie.
3. Taken 2
By the time the first Taken solidified itself as a cult classic, the internet was already abuzz with rumors and speculation of a second movie (naturally). Liam Neeson was now an action, but as the years passed, talk of a second Taken slowly quieted. That is, until Unknown reignited the conversation. Suddenly, people were once again interested in a Taken sequel. One year later, everybody got what they were waiting for… Or not.
OK, so what was it about the original Taken that made it such a big hit? Lots of ass-kicking on Liam’s end and lots of bad guys getting what they deserve; for all intents and purposes, it’s the perfect action movie. So how do you top the perfect action movie? You don’t. You simply give the audience more of what they want. Unfortunately for the audience, Taken 2 doesn’t even do that. Or maybe it does? I couldn’t tell because the action sequences are so choppy. It was even difficult to pay attention to because it gave me a headache 40 minutes in. Now that I think about it, the best part of this movie was ripped straight off of the Drive soundtrack. Here’s hoping that Taken 3 is a step up.
Prometheus marks Director Ridley Scott’s first science fiction movie since Blade Runner back in 1982 and serves as a quasi-prequel to the sci-fi/horror classic Alien. To be sure, Prometheus has a lot going for it: gorgeous visual effects, breath-taking cinematography, and a high-profile cast made up of talents such as Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender as David, and even Noomi Rapace, the original girl with the dragon tattoo. So far, it’s easy to understand why this movie was one of the most anticipated movies in all of geek-dom.
However, the sad truth is: if something seems too good to be true, that’s because it is. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that not even the writers know exactly what is going on here. All the credit in the world to Scott, because he manages to keep the flow going, almost covering up the giant plot holes and unanswered questions; such as: “If the Engineers’ DNA is a 100% identical to ours, why don’t we look alike?” or “How exactly does that black, goo stuff work?” Instead of expanding the universe with these questions, as Prometheus should have done and as we all wanted it to, the writers gloss over the juicy details in order to move the story forward. Hopefully Prometheus 2 will have answers to these conundrums.
1. The Dark Knight Rises
This may seem like blasphemy, but hear me out. Christopher Nolan’s final ‘Batman’ movie earns the most disappointing slot on my list because it’s a sloppy conclusion to arguably one of the greatest trilogies ever put to film; the content does not live up to the two previously established explorations of superhero-dom. As the title would lead you to believe, The Dark Knight Rises is not about an average citizen rising to the status of hero, as Batman actually stand for. No. Instead, it’s about climbing out of a hole in the ground. Symbolic or not, he does not make a sacrifice himself; he ejects himself from a jet and somehow manages to survive a nuclear blast, only to appear, in the end, on some sort of a permanent vacation with Catwoman. This is not a “fitting” conclusion as most everybody would have you believe.
Bruce Wayne cannot simply walk away from being Batman. This is clearly established in both the previous movies when Rachel talks about Batman being Bruce’s true mask and how there will never be a day where Bruce no longer needs Batman. However, the ending to TDKR suggests otherwise: that Bruce is able to live a life without the sacrifices of being Batman. And why? Only to give Alfred closure.
Alfred spends the entirety of TDKR trying to convince Bruce that there is a life beyond Batman. This theme goes against everything the previous two films have established and Bruce even makes it obvious that there is no such life after he, after almost a decade, suits back up to fight evil. This movie, this trilogy, preaches about the constant necessity of heroes to ward off evil, even if it means getting the hang of it again after a long hiatus.
So Batman defeats Bane. What is he going to do when the next bad guy walks into Gotham? He isn’t going to worry about it because some kid he barely knows has the same spunk that he has? Sure the point of Batman is that he could be anybody and yes there will come a time when Bruce is too old and somebody else must dawn the mask, but Bruce has still got it and I do not think he can just sit back on the beach while some baddie terrorizes the innocent people of Gotham, at least while there is something he can do about it. Because Batman is also about commitment to justice, even among all the sacrifices that go with it and Bruce isn’t committing himself whole-heartedly, as the role of Batman demands, by taking his criminal wife on permanent vacation as the ending alludes to.
At the very least, The Dark Knight Rises is a well-acted, well-shot; albeit, flawed and lazy exercise in the ever-prevalent “let’s-just-make-another-one-because-the-other-movies-made-a-ton-of-money” film making. This is not the conclusion Batman needs, nor is it the one he deserves.
Paranormal Activity 4
That’s My Boy
The Devil Inside
John Carter (though I was not expecting much)
Any sequel to a video game adaptation
What do you think? Leave a comment.