Written by: Kristen Lopez, Editor in Chief
Hope you all enjoyed my Top 20 Best of the Year list I posted yesterday, because I’m here with its companion. These twenty films were the worst of the worst, and this was a year with a lot of “eh” films that started on this list and were easily removed. Films that ended up here either were juvenile, poorly made, and gave me high expectations and ruined everything I’d loved about the source material. As always clickable links will take you to my original CC2K reviews. Let me know in the comments if I any other films deserved to be placed here.
Les Miserables (one of the most disappointing films of the year), Snow White and the Huntsmen, Damsels in Distress, Magic Mike, Sinister
20. Friends with Kids
Friends with Kids billed itself as a romantic comedy for adults, and became a trite romantic comedy. The movie’s plot follows two best friends who want a child without the romantic entanglements that come with it. Ultimately one asks the question, what is it about having children that kills romance? Sadly, Friends with Kids never answers this, and instead presents a typical saccharine romance between two friends who loved each other from the get-go. One has to ignore the selfish reasons these two want to have a child for starters, before realizing that for all this film’s bluster about being for adults, it’s just a bland romantic comedy with little to make it memorable.
19. Alex Cross
Alex Cross is a terrible movie, but it’s also a terribly made terrible movie. No one believes for a second that Tyler Perry could be toughed detective Alex Cross, and Perry himself doesn’t believe it either with the complete lack of emotion he shows throughout the film. Matthew Fox is great, but he should be in an entirely different film! The climax forces you to believe Madea could kick Fox’s ass with one arm behind his back. Literally that’s the climax. Do you believe it? Me neither.
18. This Means War
McG let me down with Terminator Salvation, so I really had no expectations that he’d redeem himself here. This Means War was a romantic comedy that believed the adage that the bigger a man-whore you are, the more charming you must be. The sheer belief that Tom Hardy could play a romantic lead was hard to believe, but the fact that the film tried so hard to make him an inferior suitor to Chris Pine (who prefaces Hardy’s character by saying “You know he’s British.” Is that bad?) is laughable and ridiculous. Add to that a contrived spy plot, and a neutered Chelsea Handler, and 2012 was not a good year for rom-coms.
17. The Deep Blue Sea
This and another film on this list received critical praise throughout the year, and I couldn’t stand either. I’m not sure what it was about this year, but miserable people being miserable seemed to be the indie trope of 2012. I couldn’t have cared about any of the characters in The Deep Blue Sea. They knew they were despicable, and yet they acted surprised when a character did something that was despicable! Rachel Weisz is getting the most attention and for what really, playing a woman who can’t make up her mind? Supposedly we’re meant to believe Weisz’s character is mentally ill, but I never got any of that. A frustrating film all-around.
16. Wuthering Heights (2012)
I love director Andrea Arnold’s first film Fishtank, so when I heard she was planning on tackling Wuthering Heights I was ecstatic. Keep in mind, this film was originally envisioned with Michael Fassbender as Heathcliffe and Natalie Portman as Catherine. Cut to this version which does try to present something new in Heathcliffe (James Howson) being African-American. Unfortunately, this film presents Wuthering Heights as a story of violence and disgust. If you enjoy watching animals being killed, including a dog being hung, then you’ll love this film. It took away the romance of Emily Bronte’s novel, and replaced it with “realism” that felt tawdry. Such promise that ended in me wanting to take a shower.
Dear Madonna, please stop endeavoring to be deep or insightful. You are neither. W/E hoped to tell the story of Wallis Simpson (Andrea Riseborough) and King Edward VIII (James D’Arcy). When the movie focuses on that it’s a forgettable, but sweet biopic. Unfortunately, the flashbacks don’t add up to the full runtime, and instead we must follow a regular London girl (Abbie Cornish) who loves the story and lives the life of a Lifetime character. W/E is blatant is making the Cornish character a Madonna replacement, and I didn’t care about seeing a movie about a character that should be Madonna. I thought this was a biopic. Instead, it’s a stupid movie about a woman I could care less about, and two lovers that deserved better treatment.
14. The Amazing Spider-Man
Were audiences supposed to believe this was a superhero movie? Because when you spend over an hour following an adorable hipster teen (Andrew Garfield) suffering the pratfalls of high school and stalking the girl (Emma Stone) I wouldn’t consider it a superhero movie. Director Marc Webb creates a romantic comedy without a hero! How many times are we supposed to see Garfield give a goofy grin and find it endearing? When he does finally become Spiderman he takes off his mask so many times I’m surprised the Facebook universe of his school didn’t blow up talking about. The special effects were good, but the film doesn’t know whether it wants to be a superhero story with an 80s teen film in it, or a bland high school rom-com that has a superhero in it.
13. Underworld: Awakening
When will Hollywood stick a fork in the Underworld franchise? Underworld: Awakening drops all pretense of being its own franchise and just outright copies from the Resident Evil series, and since I hate those already I lost interest here fairly quickly. The story sees vampire Selene (Kate Beckinsale) discovering that she has a child, and protecting it. That’s it, and yet the movie is 90 minutes! The CGI progressively feels cheaper, and the stakes are introduced in the last two minutes. I’ll let you figure out what they are on your own. Let’s say it involves finding a man because Selene has a heart. Remember when this woman was about kicking ass and taking names?
12. Bel Ami
I’m not surprised if you didn’t see Bel Ami as this suffered a quick death before heading to DVD. Thankfully, I was able to save my pennies and watch it on my local HDMovies channel. I did, however, waste my time. Bel Ami forces you to believe that Robert Pattinson is a Lothario able to seduce and control the women of French society, and he left his vampire persona at home. Pattinson proves he’s uncomfortable in any role that doesn’t require him to brood as he looks sick for the majority of the film, and his only emotion is anger conveyed through wacky crazy eyes. None of the women have personalities, but they all seem far too good for Pattinson’s character. I understood he’s supposed to be a social climber, a la Becky Sharp of Vanity Fair, but Pattinson’s character is never active in his climbing, he just sits around and waits for a woman to fall into his lap. I guess if you like that then Bel Ami is for you, but I found it to be an unsophisticated mess.
11. Red Dawn (2012)
There was always going to be a problem in remaking Red Dawn. Namely the fact that in the 80s when the original was released America was going through the Cold War, which is over and done with. Instead, this film presents Red Dawn as a jingoistic cry for Tea Party supporters to gather up arms before “they take our jobs!” The film sees a pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth stumble in Patrick Swazye’s shoes, and removes any creativity the original had. Instead of the group wanting to save the town, the teens are motivated by one of their own losing a family member. I guess we weren’t supposed to care about the other people and their families because Hemsworth’s dad was way better than all of them! The film also doesn’t stop to think of the current political climate, and what makes the Wolverines better then terrorists. This is a reason why this film can’t be remade today people. The screenplay never stops to even think so I guess I shouldn’t be wondering these things.
10. Take This Waltz
This is the other movie that is being critically lauded that I couldn’t stand. I understand I took issue with Friends with Kids trying to be an anti-romantic comedy, and that Take This Waltz does present that adult romance, I just feel that Blue Valentine did this a lot better. The film follows a married couple (Seth Rogen, Michelle Williams) who devolve into routine and leaving the wife to question cheating with the hunky neighbor. The issue is how unlikable Williams’ character is written from the get-go, and how nice Rogen’s character is. Aside from stagnation, there’s no description of their past relationship. The film simply opens with Williams’ character being bored, and apparently being really horny. The entirety of Take This Waltz seems to be on Williams being unable to get laid by her husband. I take that to be a distinct lack of motivation on the screenwriter’s part. I could understand if someone tells me I didn’t get this, but again we’re seeing a stream of films following unlikable characters that just seem to be poorly written with little motivation for their actions.
Directed by Amy Heckerling, and starring her Clueless co-star Alicia Silverstone, Vamps should have been a distracting albeit adorable movie. I guess if this was 1994 that would be the case because what we got was a hipster vampire story without the hipster qualities, the comedy, or the dialogue. Vamps desperately wants to be Clueless with bite, or should I say fangs, but ends up being a boring girly film for the Twilight generation. I actually think that might be disrespectful to Twilight fans because I’d rather watch any of the Twilight films than this.
8. Silent House
Elizabeth Olsen astounded me in Martha, Marcy May, Marlene, so I felt it was right to see her follow-up. Silent House bills itself as being shot in real time with no cuts. That idea is interesting, and could have led to a fair bit of horror, but instead it opens up a variety of plotholes that leave you asking how the main character (Olsen) is aware of thing she wasn’t there to see. The ending is atrocious and implements a sexual abuse plotline that feels offensive and cheap. It’s been done in less mediocre movies, and I didn’t need to see it here.
7. The Raven
Did you know that in his last day’s author Edgar Allen Poe was Sherlock Holmes? You didn’t? Me neither. Alternative history films of late are more miss than hit, and The Raven is the bottom of the barrel. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was more enjoyable then this if that says anything. John Cusack, making his first appearance on this list, is content to yell loudly, look irritated and accost a far-too-young-to-be-his-love-interest Alice Eve. Add in the poor man’s Orlando Bloom, aka Luke Evans, and you have the makings of a film that I guess Nicholas Cage passed on.
6. Dark Shadows
2012 proved that author Seth Grahame-Smith should REALLY stick to writing books because he’s God-awful as a screenwriter. Dark Shadows doesn’t know if it wants to be a Tim Burton vampire film, or a film that wants to poke fun at the 70s a la The Brady Bunch. The movie literally barfs up the 1970s in every scene just to make sure you know what time period we’re in. Add to that a heinous revenge plot where the witch played by Eva Green has a non-Blondie heart of glass, and I was ready to scratch my eyes out. Also, I think whoever put out Death Becomes Her might want to sue Grahame-Smith because he stole the plot as the climax for this movie.
My review of this film perfectly sums up my thoughts, but in a nutshell this showed women to be what they’re stereotypically presented to be: vapid bitches that can’t have healthy friendships because they’re constantly competing. How can you root for three women who have little to redeem them? Aside from their shared interests in coke, drinking, and being horrible I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to be friends with them in the first place. For a movie written by a woman, she must hate her gender.
I actually found myself comparing this to The Imposter, which made my Best Of list. Both films deal with characters making head-slapping decisions, and leaving the audience to judge their actions. Where The Imposter actually had the real people discuss their motivations, and ultimately question how they could have allowed themselves to be deceived, Compliance simply presents the story straight so the audience is the ones slapping their heads. When the poor girl in this situation is forced to give another man a blowjob, purely because a voice on the phone told her, I would have enjoyed a character, I don’t know QUESTIONING something! The characters we’re meant to see as victims come off as either cruel or mentally impaired which I’m not sure was the film’s intent.
3. The Paperboy
How the hell did Nicole Kidman get a Golden Globe nomination for this film? I’d rather rip my tongue out than say that this is a Golden Globe nominated film. Did she get nominated because she plays a white trash woman with self esteem issues? Maybe it’s because she’s naked and actually simulates masturbation with the camera trained on her crotch? Director Lee Daniels proves that if it’s not in poor taste than he won’t film it.
Peter Berg, you should be ashamed of yourself. Battleship is terrible and I’d be pleased to see it go where it belongs, the Syfy channel. There’s little to say about the film at this point because I’m not sure audiences remember it. There was a plot point involving a burrito, the island of Hawaii apparently being so expansive that people on one side of the island can’t see an alien invasion happening on the other, and Brooklyn Decker being a talking mannequin. I’m pretty sure that’s the entire movie, although this was stretched to almost two hours.
1. American Reunion
Remember when the first American Pie came out? It was a gross-out comedy sure, but it did explore the high school hang-ups regarding sex and relationships, and Jason Biggs screwed a pie. Since then the series has devolved into National Lampoon levels of tawdriness, and the only reason this film didn’t get relegated to DVD was because apparently the actors in this are still star-worthy. The film loses the humor through dialogue and instead you’re supposed to find a character with the byproducts of oral sex on his face to be hilarious. That’s an image that’s seared into my brain until the day I die. The film meanders with no point, content to throw characters from throughout the series in throwaway moments. Hell, the actual reunion takes place with only ten minutes left! Oh, and don’t forget that this movie apparently proves sixteen-year-old girls would be honored to screw Jason Biggs. I guess they got him confused with an actor who was actually good-looking.
Author: Kristen Lopez, Editor in Chief
Kristen Lopez is the editor-in-chief of CC2K and a freelance pop culture essayist. Her work has appeared on Roger Ebert, The Hollywood Reporter, and The Daily Beast. When she’s not burning down Film Twitter she runs two podcasts, the female-centric film show Citizen Dame, and the classic film-themed Ticklish Business.