Happy New Year, everybody! Last week, I gave you my best movies of 2012, so now it's time...for the other list. Starting with number 10!
10. The Expendables 2
The absolute worst thing about the Expendables franchise is it doesn't even try. It's not like anyone's asking these movies to be good - most of the people in it and the movies they're famous for making are quite often beloved for having NEVER been good. But instead of actually having some fun teaming up a who's-who of big, dumb action movie icons, both of these movies have played it safe, easy and dull. Guys, if you have to make another one of these, call up Robert Rodriguez, at least. He knows how to make this crap work!
9. Alex Cross
Tyler Perry might be the least intimidating 6'5 man on planet Earth, so the spectacle of watching him trying to front a gritty, Dirty Harry-style action cop movie is pretty damn hysterical. Too bad the rest of the movie was so damn boring, save for Matthew Fox handing in what might be the worst performance of the year.
8. American Reunion
Hey, guys! Remember all those beloved classic characters from that movie you fooled yourself into thinking was really funny because you watched it like, 100 times just for one part? Yeah? Not really? Well, here's a movie about what happened to them since. Spoiler alert - you won't care.
Am I opposed to branding genre movies after vaguely-related old toys to try and raise their profile? No, not really, business is business. What I am opposed to is making movies this terrible out of them. If Battleship turned out to be the nadir of lazy, unpleasant-to-watch cash-in moviemaking, it'd be swell. But sadly, I don't think it will be. What a godawful mess.
6. This Means War
It's easy to call This Means War misogynist, given that it's a movie about two buddies who happen to be CIA spies using their agency resources to one-up each other in competition for a woman, who of course has no idea that her two perspective lovers know one another, as "the prize", but that would be to ignore just how much contempt the film also seems to have for the two guys themselves. Ultimately, though, what this forgotten dud hated more than anything else was its audience.
5. The Watch
Ok, this movie was terrible for all the reasons movies like this generally are terrible, and nobody cares. You know what I want to point out? Who would've guessed a couple of years ago that Vince Vaughn would already be over as a major comedy star? I mean, for a minute there, it looked like this guy would be the next Bill Murray. But now, his movies keep tanking, Bradley Cooper has pretty much taken his place as America's most beloved douchebag icon, and his next big project is doing a reality tv show...with Glen Beck. Somebody...probably wishes they'd made Wedding Crashers 2!
4. The Lorax
How do you turn one of Dr Seuss' most unusual, downbeat and difficult-to-adapt works into a feature-length movie? Not like this. Rather than expanding the short narrative by looking for greater depth or nuance, The Lorax just pumps the whole thing with some of the laziest cliches of family movies, from uninspired musical numbers to overly broad slapstick characters. Here's a tip - if your movie is about ecological devastation and I'm rooting for the cute little forest creatures to go extinct so I wouldn't have to watch any more of their schtick, you screwed up.
3. Les Miserables
Yeah, I said it. Come and get me. Look, the songs are lovely, I'm sure hearing them sung in a huge auditorium is amazing, and the basic staging of the story makes sense in Broadway terms. But as a movie? No, it doesn't work, and it definitely doesn't work like this. Why is most of the movie about Valjean, only to then make an abrupt third-act turn where we're suddenly supposed to care about Marius and Cosette, who are both flat, one-dimensional characters whose supposed romance is completely boring? Is Javert the only cop in France? Why didn't someone check to see if Russell Crowe could sing Broadway-style before they cast him? Yes, Anne Hathaway's part is great, but if she didn't get to sing THE big song of the show, it'd be a cameo at best. What really kills it is the almost unwatchably-poor direction from Tom Hooper of The King's Speech. To put it another way, I can hear the people sing, but I can also watch the movie suck.
2. The Amazing Spider-Man
You know, so much of the criticism, my own included, of this abomination focussed on how much it mangled the character, and how much it fell short of the previous cinematic incarnation, that what gets overlooked is how bad it is just on its own terms. The actors are all either miscast, or appear misdirected, the screenplay is all over the map, nobody's character actions make any kind of rational sense, the story can't decide if Peter's parents are a big important mystery or not, and almost every new or altered element of the mythos only serves to make everything less interesting than they might otherwise have been. But whatever. Tickets still got sold, so a year from now, we get to all watch Jamie Foxx piss away all the good will he reclaimed with Django Unchained by playing Electro in the next one of these. Sounds great.
And here it is, the perfect storm of bad moviemaking. A supposed satire of American-style commercialism in post-Soviet Russia with a conspiracy thriller twist, Branded isn't just embarassingly self-impressed, poorly-written and abysmally-acted, it's pretentious as hell, and probably the most mean-spirited movie of the year. The story involves a disgraced advertising executive who discovers the worldwide movement in favour of body image self-acceptance is actually a sinister scheme by the fast food industry to save itself by convincing the world that fat is beautiful. And the film illustrates this point by framing images of overweight women the same way the American Tail movies filmed images of cats. Oh, and the main character gains psychic anti-advertising powers by ritualistically slaughtering a cow and has hallucinations of giant monsters, so that there's something to put in the trailers. Yeah.
And so passes the worst of 2012. I'd like to hope that 2013 won't provide quite as much material...but then I remember that we'll all too soon be experiencing a post-apocalyptic sci-fi actioner starring Will Smith and Will Smith's kid, directed by M. Night Shayamalan. So, probably not.
I'm Bob, and that's the Big Picture.
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