The Most Disappointing films of 2012

We’re an excitable lot here at NGB, and sometimes we forget that the film industry can be cynical and unimaginative. Luckily Red Tails was there to remind us. But we still had our hopes dashed a few times along the way! Here are some of the most heart-breaking:

10. Underworld: Awakening.

Underworld-Awakening

Expectations: Ok, they weren’t great. But the Underworld films have always had a distinct style, a sexy smoothness to its action and Kate Beckinsale in a Catsuit. More than enough to make us happy.   

Reality: Kate Beckinsale is, indeed, in a catsuit (so that’s one up over Underworld: Rise of the Lycans), but this film really made you work to enjoy it. Tedious plot, no characterisation whatsoever, and some pointless 3D to wash out the already miserable colours.  A very dull, uninteresting film.

Saving Grace: Catsuit.

9. Contraband

Contraband

Expectations: The release of this was actually quite low key, but the trailer promised a somewhat simple revenge story within the context of a gritty mafia underworld. The involvement of interesting cast members like Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale and Giovanni Ribisi only raised expectations.

Reality: The trailer completely underplayed the main unique point of the film, smuggling. Wahlberg is a retired smuggler convinced to complete one last job (word actually recommends the rest of that sentence when you start typing it). Although it’s interesting to see this element unfold, it doesn’t break the formula nor offer any new surprises. The actors turn in subdued performances, the action is only functional and the plot is laughably predictable.

Saving Grace: The smuggling angle is a little interesting.

8. The Expendables 2

The Expendables 2

Expectations: Well the first expendables movie didn’t exactly demand a sequel. Or a second viewing. Or a first one. But we had a new writer, a new director (who at one point directed the action classic Con Air) and the trailer promised some interesting action sequences. So we thought they may have learnt from previous mistakes.

Reality: The action is certainly better. We have more ambitious set pieces, a couple of decent shootouts and even a reasonable fight scene, all carried out in some interesting settings. But we still have frenzied direction, poor choreography and some very obvious CGI. Ultimately it’s not enough to make up for the lack of character, the horrendous acting, moronic script and, worst of all, the nauseating self-awareness. The film doesn’t so much wink at the audience as grasp it by the genitals and beg for approval. The nadir being Chuck Norris telling a Chuck Norris fact so long and unfunny it seems crueler than the earlier torture scene. Maybe they felt that by forcing us to remember better films from these actor’s glory days it might encourage some feeling of warmth. No luck though. The film is slightly better than it’d predecessor but still self-indulgent and joyless to the point of actually being annoying.

Saving Grace: The opening sequence is pretty good, and it’s always nice to see JCVD.

7. Piranha 3DD

piranha-3dd-06012012

Expectations: The first Piranha 3D was the very definition of guilty pleasure. Alexandre Aja delivered horrific violence, black humour and Kelly Brook having underwater lesbian sex (awesome lesbian sex can substitute for oxygen). With a few daft cameos thrown in, there was nothing not to like. The second film promised to be only more of the same and that was alright by us.

Reality: The stupid title should have been a warning. We do get more cameos, most of which are actually pretty good, but otherwise the film actually feels smaller than its predecessor. The scope, violence and most crucially the fun is greatly diminished this time round. This film is definitely more of an A-cup (briefly considered rating all films by cup size, but then remembered we’re not Nuts (yet)).

Saving Grace: The Hoff and the return of Ving Rhames.

6. Taken 2

Taken-2-with-Liam-Neeson

Expectations: The first Taken film was a very old fashioned but pleasingly gritty low budget action film with plenty of menace and aggression. The trailer promised something repetitive but potentially enjoyable.

Reality: All sense of threat is removed from this bland, uneventful and far-fetched film. The tension that the previous film thrived on is abandoned in favour of a rushed pace that prevents any event gaining any actual gravity. The plot is very contrived, the acting sub-par (oh dear, Famke Janssen. Can’t you be a sexy Russian assassin again?), and the action mundane. Ultimately it seems that the Taken franchise has already run out of things to say and has now settled into mediocrity.

Saving Grace: Whoever choreographed the fight scenes came back. He’s quite good.

5. Lockout

lockout-guy-pearce

Expectations: Aside from attaching Luc Besson’s name, which does still carry some weight (in spite of Columbiana), the trailers promised Escape from New York in space! A charming, silly, but ultimately exciting adventure. Sometimes a good premise delivered competently is all we need, but in fact this had the ingredients of being a little bit special.

Reality: Ultimately the film comes over as smug and soulless. Guy Pearce takes a damn good shot at roguish and cheeky but just misses and hits smarmy and annoying. The jokes all fall flat, and the half smiles offered are extremely aggravating. The tone is very jarring as it quickly moves between extreme violence and lame puns. The chemistry between the two main characters is very forced and more similarly resembles the chemistry between Sulpher and Oxygen. There is a point near the end when it seems the film is about to conclude, but a late (and unfortunately predictable) revelation extends the run time to audible sighs of exhaustion from the audience.

Saving Grace: The concept is good. Escape from Space!

4. Total Recall

total recall

Expectations: An old thought experiment. What if Ridley Scott had adapted “We can remember it for you wholesale?” instead of “Do Androids dream of electric sheep?” What if Blade Runner had stared Arnie, and featured lots of silly make up and big shootouts? If presented with two plots, one in which a man tries to alter his memory and ends up doubting what is real and what is fabrication, and the other in which a bounty hunter is hired to kill six dangerous robots, which would you assume was the intellectual sci-fi classic and which the Arnie action fest? Here was am attempt to see how the premise would stand up to a serious treatment.

080312-total-recall

Reality: It’s neither Verhoeven nor Scott. It’s Wiseman. The unimpressive, bland director behind Underworld and who is currently, tragically, remaking The Mummy. To say it didn’t live up to the source material is obvious, to say it didn’t live up to the Verhoeven film is inevitable, but this really did slip below all expectations. Completely devoid of any attempt to address the idea seriously or introduce some interesting new angles on the story, all we get is the exact same story and circumstance with new shiny, fake looking action set pieces. This really is the lamentable product of the cynical Hollywood remake machine.

Saving Grace: It’s nice to have all three of Kate Beckinsale’s movies on the same list…shame it’s this list.

3. The Bourne Legacy

Film Title: The Bourne Legacy

Expectations: The Bourne Trilogy. That’s the expectation. Three taut action thrillers with great action, compelling plots and a slick style. It’s a high standard but surely the creative forces that managed the series wouldn’t let it go to people who don’t know what they’re doing, right? Also, it had a great cast!

Reality: The film would have been significantly better had it not bore the Bourne name. We’re not just saying that because it wouldn’t have raised expectations so high, but the involvement with Bourne actually does slow down the plot and adds unneeded details to the already tricky exposition scenes. Had this simply been a story of one man trying to get revenge against the organisation that betrayed him, we may well feel warmer towards it. But aside from the confusing Bourne plot connections, the film lacks the style and energy of a Bourne film. Also Renner and Weisz are a poor substitute for Damon and Pontente.

Saving Grace: One or two of the action scenes like the laboratory.

2. The Amazing Spiderman

Andrew Garfield

Expectations: We got behind this! It even made our top ten most anticipated films of last year list! Sam Raimi’s Spiderman was flawed. The tone was a little camp, Peter Parker was underdeveloped as a character and Spiderman lacked his trademark wit. We looked forward to some interesting villains and a darker tone.

Reality: There is a great Spiderman film in here. The first act lives up to the expectations. It is darker and grittier and all the cheesier elements of the original have been discarded in favour of some realistic and sometimes meaningful moments. But the film wastes a lot of opportunities and doesn’t quite do enough differently from Raimi’s version to silence the detractors who cried “too soon!” Though sometimes in trying to avoid specific scenes from Raimi, the film can gloss over fairly important things, like Spiderman’s impact on the city. Andrew Garfield walks a thin line between charming and annoying and doesn’t always stay on the right side. It is nice that he plays a geekier, sweeter role, but the wisecracks aren’t very well written and his more confident persona can be very grating. The villain is unimposing and more than a little silly and in fact would have been better saved to the sequel, allowing Parker to just pursue his uncles killer whilst learning the true obligations his powers impose. Ultimately the film managed to disappoint just about everyone, and we can only hope that the already green lighted sequel lives up on some of the projects potential.

Saving Grace: The first act, the tender moments, the initially slow pace.

1. Prometheus

Prometheus_Giant_Alien_Octopus_Facehugger_620x380

Expectations: Did you SEE the trailers?! They were amazing and the viral commercial for the David android was the icing on the cake. It seemed that Ridley Scott had finally returned to form with an exciting new sci-fi film in the mould of his 70s career high. It is also very rare to get pure sci-fi films made these days, so we needed this to be good.

Reality: And the film is good. The acting is solid, the production design is elegant, the music is superb, even the basic premise is golden. But the problem is Damon Lindelof’s script. Lindelof is the script writer for Lost, a TV show that survived by offering just enough excitement and intrigue to string the audience along to the next episode/season. This is precisely what we get here. An interesting premise, some confusing plot twists, and dozens, absolutely dozens of poor decisions and unexplained mysteries intended to hook you for the next film. But films need to be standalone experiences. This just comes off as a very long teaser for its sequel. The dialogue and characterisation are dire. “I’m a geologist. I like rocks. I LOVE rocks!” said the guy with the ginger Mohawk and tattooed head. Bad character decisions, baffling plot directions and some bizarre, poorly explored message about spirituality absolutely spoiled this film. Easily the biggest disappointment of the year.

Saving Grace: Everything! It’s actually a pretty good film…except for the script.

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About Nerds Get Bored
We're Nerds, and man, do we get bored. Our Twitter: @nerdsgetbored

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