Every year, hundreds of movies are released, some more anticipated than others. Trailers, images, interviews, and more surrounding these highly awaited films build so much hype that they can reach critical levels of expectations. But when they don’t live up to what we believe is promised, cognitive dissonance sets in. There were a lot of movies in 2012 that weren’t noteworthy, but there were 10 that stood out as big disappoints. See the full list after the break.
Now some of these are not terrible films. To a certain extent, they may even be considered decent entertainment. They are not the worst of the year either – well one is – but these 10 movies never reached the level of expectations I had for them. With high hopes that these films would succeed, I’m sad that they had to end up on this list. But with how unfulfilling they turned out, they earned it.
All reviews are spoiler free!
10: Silent House – Directed by Chris Kentis and Laura Lau. Starring Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese, and Eric Sheffer Stevens
When you pitch a horror to be shown in real time – “one continuous shot” – you are putting extraordinary weight on the shoulders of your movie. Director’s like Scorsese and Cuarón have utilized single shot takes for portions of their works, but not as a complete piece. In all honesty, the gimmick didn’t do much to elevate the genre. The worst part of Silent House was the weak twist and how it tied into the story. Elizabeth Olsen does a fantastic job looking terrified with what she is given, but the story and characters are too separated to create anything compelling enough to care.
9: Sinister – Directed by Scott Derrickson. Starring Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, James Ransone
Here’s another horror that crushed on my expectations. Thinking that it would be the next Insidious, my dreams shattered when to find out strange occurrences of hilarity that caused an imbalanced tone. I’m not sure if that is the point, but anytime Sinster would build up moments of terror, a comedic presence would soon follow, ruining any chance to create an ending that was frightening or justified. Speaking of which, the end is not the best. What makes Sinister so disappointing is seeing such a brilliant opening sequence wasted, only to be used as shock value throughout the movie.
8: The Amazing Spider-Man – Directed by Marc Webb. Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Sally Field, and Martin Sheen
(500) Days of Summer is a charming, sad, and brilliant indie directed by Marc Webb. When I heard he was named to helm the Spider-Man reboot I figured it was a good choice. Webb has a great knack of understanding character dynamics and bringing a certain chemistry between actors – which he did well in TASM. The problem here is that it feels like a reheated frozen dinner. Nothing is fresh and the same kind of wonder you get when watching Raimi’s Spider-Man is not present. The plot is also very weak, never bringing the “untold” story that was promised in the marketing.
7: Fun Size – Directed by Josh Schwartz. Starring Victoria Justicec, Jane Levy, Thomas Mann, Jackson Nicoll, Johnny Knoxville, and Chelsea Handler
When I first saw the trailer for Fun Size I envisioned a young adult, raunchy, fun coming of age comedy like Mean Girls. Sadly, I must have been on something because it did not live up to anything I had assumed it would. Leaning on the “one crazy night” genre, it pushes the limits unrealistically. Every character is either a cartoon or a cliché – you almost feel sorry for Victoria Justice and Thomas Mann because they are the only sane people in the movie. What I wanted was a fun Hocus Pocus for the new generation. What we got was an over-the-top version of The Adventures of Babysitting. My eyes pretty much rolled out and onto the floor, not to mention I almost got in to a scuffle.
6: The Campaign – Directed by Jay Roach. Starring Will Farrell, Zach Galifianakis, Dylan McDermott, John Lithgow, Dan Aykroyd, Brian Cox, and Jason Sudeikis
When I first heard about Farrell and Galifianakis were going to butt heads as opposing candidates in a political comedy, all I could think about is how incredible this would be. I’m glad I’m not a betting man. Will Farrell comedies have become an empty abyss of shouting one-liners. The Campaign is leagues ahead of Blades of Glory or Semi-Pro, but in no way does this even touch the caliber of Old School or Anchorman. Everything feels quickly forced and you have no time to invest in these two candidates. The screenplay is so narrow, I don’t even think Adam McKay could have done any better.
5: The Hunger Games – Directed by Gary Ross. Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Toby jones, Lenny Karvitz, Amandla Stenberg, Donald Sutherland, Stanley Tucci, Wes Bentley, Alexander Ludwig, and Liam Hemsworth
Comparing The Hunger Games as a mainstream Battle Royale is laughable. Sure it did gangbusters at the box office, which we all figured it would, but this movie lacks so much depth it’s nauseating. The Hunger Game meanders so much before they toss their tributes into the arena that there is very little payoff when the games finally begin. You couldn’t care less about anyone who is killed, which is a travesty since we’re watching kids murder each other.
The reason Battle Royale works so well is because we get a feeling of who each teenager is, where their allegiances lie, and what we can expect them to do; there were also more of them than in The Hunger Games. To a certain degree I can accept the bizarre and rushed relationship between Peeta and Katniss, but give me something more to grasp when building this world. It is the first time you’re introducing us to The Hunger Games and for most of the film we are forced to accept everything that is happening and move on.
4: Taken 2 – Directed by Olivier Megaton. Starring Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, and Rade Serbedzija
If you’re flipping through the channels and see Liam Neeson wrecking havoc throughout Paris, nothing in your life will be accomplished for the next few hours because you’ll be watching Taken. The same effect cannot be said about Taken 2. Building amazing tension and insane action set pieces, Taken is a joyful adrenaline rush. Taken 2 delivers horrible set up to its action, incomprehensible set pieces, and no feeling of urgency or care whether or not the characters make it out of this ordeal alive. This is a textbook example of how to fail at creating a sequel and they should have stopped while they were ahead.
3: Paranormal Activity 4 – Directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman. Starring Kathryn Newton, Brady Allen, Aiden Lovekamp, Matt Shively, and Katie Featherston
Also trying to fill the pants of a previous success, Paranormal Activity 4 is another horror movie that failed miserably in 2012 while also being a craptastic entry into the franchise. There was so much hope leading up to PA4 after how remarkably haunting Paranormal Activity 3 turned out to be. Plot hole after plot hole, PA4 inexcusably left the audience with more questions than answers. There is one moment of intelligence with night vision and an Xbox Kinect, but the rest of the scares were cheap and lazy. What’s even worse is that we can expect a fifth entry to be some kind of Mexican spin-off?
2: Prometheus – Directed by Ridley Scott. Starring Noomie Rapace, Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, Logan Marshall-Green, Guy Pierce, and Idris Elba
Is Prometheus an Alien prequel, is it not? That was the big question for years before we finally found the answer. And when we did, it was the least of our concern. In 2013, no film made less sense or had more plot holes than Prometheus. The Alien franchise is such an enjoyable place to visit that sitting through Prometheus is like visiting a good friend you haven’t seen for awhile and finding out they became a giant douche. Despite it being very pretty to look at, Prometheus had to be one of the most mind-boggling movies to sit through this past year. I’m sure if you looked closely you could see smoke coming out of some people’s heads. Check out a semi-NSWF (language offensive) spoiler video that asks all the big questions that Prometheus never answers:
1: The Dark Knight Rises – Directed by Christopher Nolan. Starring Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gary Oldman, Marion Cotillard, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine
With how spectacular The Dark Knight ended up, The Dark Knight Rises had everything to lose. Talk about the most frustrating movie of the year. After the years of build up and anticipation, all of it was for nothing. I’ll admit, I was completely blown away by the spectacle when I saw it in full 70mm IMAX, but that feeling soon washed away the more I thought about the film and after a second viewing. When I saw it the again on a regular screen, it just didn’t have the same affect that the seeing it on an IMAX screen had.
When you get down to it, the visuals cannot make up for a lacking screenplay. There is so much irrational behavior from the characters along with head scratching plot holes, The Dark Knight Rises is yet another convoluted political drama filled with people dressed up in masks. The scale is completely epic and the actors do a superb job, but the narrative lacks the high level of story telling we have come to expect from Nolan after The Dark Knight and Inception; it’s impossible to understand what exactly went wrong.