The Worst Movies of 2012
By Greg Klymkiw
2012 could well have been much worse than it was, but for the most part, the year yielded a lot of great stuff. That said, there's more than enough celluloid trash to kvetch about and believe me, you'll find plenty of my kvetching here. Contenders I mulled over for inclusion that you won't find here included Ben Affleck's overrated racist compost toilet Argo, the absolutely pointless, boring and abominable Hitchcock, Brandon Cronenberg's dull, humourless and idiotic Antiviral, Spielberg's plodding Lincoln, the bloated Les Miserables, and a whole raft of mediocre comedies, horror films and pretentious art films. Consider them all runners-up.
Here, though, for your edification are my absolute Top Ten Worst Films of 2012. Technically there are a few more than 10 on my list, but three of the films are so interchangeable that they ended up being listed as a tie. The worst trend this year was to hire directors who can't direct action and/or suspense to handle films replete with action and/or suspense. The bottom line is that the films listed below were awful enough to bring out the ornery, rascally rabbit in me.
As per usual, I present the titles in alphabetical order.
Read 'em and weep!
Klymkiw's 10 WORST movies of 2012
Didn't Sam Raimi already make this movie?
Pitching the Turd: So, uh, let's do the origin of Spidey again, but with a new cast and let's make sure it's not as good because people will come anyway. Oh, let's get the director of Hilary Duff and Miley Cyrus music videos. He'll know what to do.
Catching the Turd: The bland, tasteful hack-manship of this movie slides down one's gullet not unlike the ease with which sewage spills into water treatment tanks. With by-the-numbers direction that delivers the all-too-familiar Spidey origin story (which Sam Raimi already did with so much force and panache - not that long ago), we basically get a slight reworking; a barely competent lame-duck that's little more than a cash-grab. The movie is dull and depressing, but even more so are the boneheads who paid money to see it. Are contemporary audiences so stupid that they require these endless reboots? Are they so bereft of attention spans that they need a pallid re-telling of Spidey's origin so soon? Have they become such lambs-to-the-slaughter suckers they'll contribute readily to putting money in the pockets of the unimaginative business school graduates pretending to be studio moguls? The answer it would seem is a resounding "Yes!"
TIED WITH . . .
Gee, this movie seems awfully familiar.
Pitching the Turd: Asgard's exiled Loki, hooks up with evil aliens to steal a cube of power. He hypnotizes Hawkeye and Professor Selvig to assist him. Nick Fury pulls in Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Thor and The Black Widow to fight the power from the outer reaches of the universe. The super heroes squabble. They kiss and make up. They fight the bad guys. They win. The Earth is free.
Catching the Turd: Television writer-director Joss Whedon accomplishes the sort of thing TV directors and other filmmakers bereft of any real cinematic voice employ. Endless closeups, more shots and cuts than Sergei Eisenstein would have ever imagined being used (and he used plenty), no sense of spatial geography, genuinely good fight choreography butchered by excessive cutting, a grating, pounding soundscape, a thunderous score and a whole lot of thunder signifying not much of anything. The whole affair is executed with a cudgel. It's depressing to realize that audiences have become so numbed by bad filmmaking they'll have no difficulty embracing these loathsome efforts. Joss Whedon is not a filmmaker. Like the woeful J.J. Abrams, Christopher Nolan and others of this overrated, untalented ilk, Whedon is a hack. There's nary a single shot in the film that suggests he has a filmmaker's eye and though he apparently has a good reputation as a writer in television (I don't bother to watch television), he clearly hasn't got what it takes to generate a script with the sweep and true spectacle needed for a feature. Oh, and the movie bored the shit out of me.
TIED WITH . . .
Pardon me, I'm looking for Bridget Fonda.
Pitching the Turd: Gotham City is crime free. Harvey Dent has become Jesus Christ and Commissioner Gordon is feeling guilty about suppressing the real truth for the "good" of the city. Batman is off the radar whilst Bruce Wayne mopes about in seclusion with his loyal butler Alfred. A plucky cat burglar who looks like Anne Hathaway with body paint for clothes, takes a shine to Bruce as does a wealthy socialite who looks an awful lot like the French woman who played Edith Piaf (only without the "ugly" makeup). Out of nowhere comes an incredibly bland villain with a bunch of tubes and steel pipes in his face. It's impossible to understand half his dialogue, but no matter, he's there to do evil, not to be understood. He's a terrorist bent on giving the city back to criminals. This will never do, of course, so Batman comes to the rescue, but not before an endlessly drawn out sequence in some weird-ass pit in the middle of nowhere as Bruce needs to climb out of the hole to triumphantly beat the bad guy. Oh yeah, there's a nice young cop who believes in Batman and lends a hand. His name is - WAIT FOR IT - Robin. Alas, no homoerotic subtext here. Nolan leaves that bit o' business twixt Bruce Wayne and Alfred.
Catching the Turd: Christopher Nolan has a very distinctive style. It doesn't mean he can direct. He's dull, dour, pretentious, humourless and has absolutely no talent for directing action sequences. He does, however, usually have one idea.
I'm an auteur, don'cha know?
I can act, write & direct. Just like Orson Welles.
When acting I have one expression.
Here it is again. Enjoy!
Pitching the Turd: Two fuck buddies see how marriage and kids have ruined the carefree lives of all their friends until they realize that it's okay to be more than fuck buddies and ruin their own lives too.
Catching the Turd: Easily the most nauseating film of the year that forces an interminable wait to discover if the most sickening romantic movie couple in recent film history will eventually find happiness with each other. Before the inevitable no-brainer is revealed we have to put up with TV-sitcom-styled dialogue trying pathetically to be sophisticated, fired out in Howard Hawks-like rat-a-tat-tat fashion, purportedly in homage to classic romantic screwball comedy, but in reality, simply masking how shallow all the characters are, including everything that spews out of their mouths. We are therefore forced to wallow, like pigs in a trough full of horrendous upper-middle-class values in these repugnant empty vessels - either to remind us how wonderful the lifestyles of bourgeois sheep are or as a carrot of "success" to dangle before those who aspire to emulating these frightful people and their negligible existence. Especially grotesque is the bourgeois breeder mentality that infuses all the characters - particularly our two main characters. There's a selfishness and immaturity that we're all supposed to, uh, "relate" to. I'd personally find it easier to relate to Manson Family values than these petty, machine-tooled "sophisticates". And lest we forget, this painful, pus-filled boil of a movie stars the hideously unwatchable Jennifer Westfeldt, one of the most woefully inexpressive actresses I've ever had the displeasure to witness on a big screen. Not only does she have a clumping, clod-hopping gait, but her face is weirdly frozen. Westfeldt is clearly too young to have been mainlining Botox, but I'd hate to think how immobile her expressions would be if and when she does partake in this hideous, dehumanizing butchery. Of course it's Westfeldt who is responsible for this abomination as she also wrote (in a manner of speaking) and directed (as it were) what is easily one of the worst romantic comedies of the new millennium.
I'm going to find you and I'm going to… Oh, Shite! Wrong movie.
Pitching the Turd: Liam Neeson, a sharpshooting wolf killer and co-workers from an Arctic Oil Rig are on a plane that crashes in the middle of a wolf pack's happy hunting grounds. The coterie of macho wolf-bait is the usual assortment of miscreants - leading to all manner of personality conflicts amidst the very real threat of being devoured and/or freezing to death.
Catching the Turd: A new film from the director of The A-Team, Smokin' Aces and Narc is NOT, I assure you, a ringing endorsement. Joe Carnahan shoehorns fake existential male angst into a straight-up action thriller, bone-headedly assuming he'll lift the material out of its genre roots. He's a snob and an incompetent one at that. The wolf attacks are directed with all the style of an apprentice butcher raising his sledgehammer tentatively over the skull of a cow before letting it sloppily crash down upon the bovine cranium. The action is almost always in closeup and utilizes lazy herky-jerky shooting in tandem with Attention Deficit Disorder quick cutting.
As you can see, I have extremely large lips.
Pitching the Turd: Based on the first of three bestselling books by Suzanne Collins, children are forced to murder each other on live television.
Catching the Turd: This might have made for a decent picture if it came closer to Norman Jewison's Rollerball crossed with Kinji Fukasaku's Battle Royale - the cool dystopian future vision of the former and the utterly insane ultra violence of the latter. However, to make a dream picture like this, even with the dreadful script based on a dreadful book would have required something resembling a director which, helmer Gary Ross clearly isn't. In fact, Ross reaches his filmmaking nadir with this. He's yet another director who has absolutely no idea how to direct suspense and action. Full of annoying shaky-cam and endless, cheap-jack quick cuts, he's all bluster and not much else. He has no idea of spatial geography, his camera placements are all a big mess and there is nary a thrilling moment in the entire movie. Add to the film's ineptitude a plodding 142-minute running time and it's a recipe for guaranteed international worldwide boxoffice success amongst audiences who are collectively not unlike Winnie The Pooh - being, as he was, a bear of very little brain..
There are no leading roles for women, but I will do quite nicely.
Pitching the Turd: Let's take a slender novel and blow the first part of it up to a 170-minute movie. It's Tolkein's precursor to The Lord of the Rings. Bilbo leaves the Shire with Gandalf and a bunch of Middle Earthlings to get something (or to do something, or to meet someone or to. . . whatever) and have them walk for a long time and punctuate the walking (and talking) with occasional fights with monsters and bad guys. Eventually, they'll get what they're looking for (sort of) and the movie will prepare us for a sequel.
Catching the Turd: The Hobbit is a lame ride. The movie is interminably boring, the action scenes are surprisingly and rather lamely directed, the special effects are predictably - uh, digital - many of the set-pieces are structured like video game roller coaster rides and worst of all, the stalwart Viggo Mortensen hero-type is unbearably awful and has absolutely no screen presence. None whatsoever. Where they dredged that loser up was beyond me until I checked out his credits after seeing the movie and saw he was a longtime TV actor. Oh, and it's just under three hours long. I assure you that one never gets that precious time back.
You'll be happy when I give myself a Cesarian. Not much else to enjoy here.
Pitching the Turd: Scientists go to another planet and discover that it was once populated by alien beings who were responsible for creating life on Earth until they were wiped out by the nasty monster aliens from Alien. Yes, Alien - which makes this a prequel, no less, and with that great film's original director. Anyone who thinks Prometheus should be viewed as a stand-alone piece and NOT a prequel to Alien (as some have suggested, including the director) is an idiot. It's a prequel all right.
Catching the Turd: Prometheus is all sizzle and no steak. There's way too much boring New-Agey stuff, no real scares (save for one that is ripped off from the original Alien) and a much larger cast to give the aliens more to eat (though it means little because we never get to know any of them as characters). The movie is rife with BIG IDEAS, but most of them are introduced, then dropped in favour of forward thrust and pyrotechnics. Even more offensive is the predictable conclusion that offers up a sequel or two. I saw it coming from very early on and prayed the story WOULDN'T go where it did. It did. So much for shocker endings; though in fairness, a gibbon might have some trouble predicting the outcome.
What's my motivation, Oliver? Schwance, baby, schwance.
Pitching the Turd: The idiotically named "O" is the coffee table centrepiece in a groovy menage with her dope dealing boyfriends Ben and Chon. These guys make wicked dope, live the high life in their California dream house and boink the beautiful, but vapid O. When a Mexican drug cartel run by a Latina she-bitch seeks to muscle-in on their action, their dream comes crashing to a halt when O is kidnapped by the baddies and held hostage until they do the deal.
Catching the Turd: Easily Oliver Stone's worst movie ever. With a trio of bland lead characters and a clutch of over-the-top villains, there's little to keep our interest. I have no problem with the heroes being dope dealers who are simply trying to protect their turf - my problem is that they're such dull, hippy-dippy and ultimately, empty dope dealers. And while the villains all chew the scenery, none of them feel like they're especially having any fun doing it. The movie is a misfire from beginning to end. All it has going for it is the violence which, I'll admit is staged with Stone's trademark style and efficiency, but because there's virtually nothing in the movie that's remotely engaging, even the well-staged carnage feels like a waste. The whole picture feels phoned-in.
Pitching the Turd: James Bond views M as his Mommy because he was orphaned as a child. A terrorist who used to work for M is now trying to discredit her. The terrorist once looked upon M as his Mommy too because, like Bond, he was orphanedBond goes after him. Any guesses as to the outcome? I, for one, was looking forward to s scene where Bond and The Terrorist threw their arms open to each other and invite M for a bit of Mommy-Love Daisy Chain action. It didn't happen, but as I'm a professional (don'cha know?) I did not let it affect my assessment of the film.
Catching the Turd: Problem: Sam Mendes can't direct action. Problem: Sam Mendes can't direct (even though he continues to fool critics and Oscar voters otherwise). Problem: Sam Mendes has no sense of fun, nor anything resembling a sense of humour. These are big problems. Mendes is not only an overrated director, he's a magician, though not the kind that creates screen magic, but the sort who truly bamboozles audiences, studio heads, producers, financiers (and, sadly, reviewers) into thinking he's good. It must be the accent. He's a poseur of the highest order and has never made a decent picture. That said, I put these prejudices aside because I love Daniel Craig as Bond (in Casino Royale only, though) and I love James Bond (in many of his incarnations over the decades). I enjoyed the first two minutes of Skyfall, but as soon as the big action set-piece began, my heart sank. The entire opening has little sense of spatial geography, far too many closeups, a ridiculous number of cuts and only a handful of wide shots to take in the action. Car chase, motorcycle chase, foot chase and finally, spectacular leaps on top of a moving train do little more than exhaust the audience. Mendes cudgels us into submission. This isn't suspense, nor is it especially exciting. It's cacophony, pure and simple. Once again, we have an action sequence in a contemporary film that fakes its way through - driving the action NOT with dramatic beats, but with sledgehammer cuts inspired by explosive and/or grating, screeching sound. During the car chase sequence we never get a clean exterior shot of the car that Bond and Moneypenny are in. Mendes peppers the chase with closeups of things the car smashes into from interior POVs, but we never get a sense of the real danger, destruction and urgency. It's all bluster. So is the rest of the movie - boringly bombastic and no fun at all. Oh, and to all those who thought Javier Bardem was a great Bond villain - think again.
Where's the loo? I have the runs. So too will you.
Pitching the Turd: A widowed young 19th-century London`lawyer (Daniel "Harry Potter" Radcliffe) journeys to an isolated village to save his ailing career and settle an estate which, not surprisingly, bears a heavy curse that befalls anyone who spies the creepy title apparition within its borders. Our hero spends an inordinate amount of time in the crumbling Victorian manse, getting several up-close-and-personal ocular treats of the pseudo-J-Horror ghost and when he does, a child in the village dies. Though we can see this coming from a mile away, the movie pretends it's going to be a surprise that the lawyer's winsomely cute tyke will be visiting the countryside with his Nanny. Oops.
Catching the Turd: This lame attempt to rekindle the atmospheric glory of Hammer Horror films flops. Good intentions are not enough. Sometimes movies need something resembling a real filmmaker at the helm. Alas, this movie is rendered by a director with no discernible style who likes the idea of making a Hammer picture, but not, it seems, actually doing one. The results are dire. Instead of Christopher Lee ogling heaving bosoms, the movie serves up little more than Daniel Radcliffe porn.
I'm soooooooo serious, yes?
Pitching the Turd: Lots of bopping around in time and space with dollops of obtuse dreams, a mire of precious imagery, confusing narrative details and oh-so earnest performances delivers a film about a psychotically dysfunctional family.
Catching the Turd: It's a cerebral, trick-pony approach to horrific events in a family's life that's not only disingenuous, but vaguely offensive - artistically and morally. Reprehensible "art" cinema for pseuds.