With the exception of what I consider to be the worst film (and it’s the worst by a considerable margin), there’s no particular order to my list of the films I enjoyed the least in 2012. While I think it was actually a pretty good year for films in general (there were at least another eight films I considered squeezing into my top 10), there have plenty that I really didn’t enjoy at all, so here are 10 of them.
The first one I’ve written down is Battleship, which is indeed an ‘adaptation’ (which doesn’t seem like the right term) of the popular board game. The plot is very basically ‘The US Navy vs. Aliens’, and err, that’s it really. It’s a couple of extremely loud, very boring hours of people shouting, firing guns, and being the visual representation of the ‘America! Fuck Yeah!’ attitude displayed in Team America: World Police. The biggest problem with Battleship is that it is in no way fun or entertaining, even with Rihanna often on screen to say things like ‘Boom!’ (what range she has). Battleship’s leading man, Taylor Kitsch, managed to be the star of three rubbish films in 2012 (Battleship, John Carter and Oliver Stone’s Savages) but this is by far his worst. The one thing Battleship had going for it was the best unintentional comedy of the year, which involves veteran Navy men coming to the rescue in slow motion as ‘Thunderstruck’ by AC/DC blares over the soundtrack.
As a long-time fan of Tim Burton’s work, I was looking forward to Dark Shadows after a fun looking trailer made it look like a deliberately cheesy romp. How wrong I was, as this was instead a turgid mess of a film, with a terrible script from Seth Grahame-Smith (he’ll be back later), and all the things you normally associate with a Tim Burton film, only all those things are becoming incredibly repetitive after 16 films. One of the things that annoyed me most about Dark Shadows was the score (and the same goes for Frankenweenie), with Danny Elfman churning out something that sounded like out-takes from Edward Scissorhands, or any of the other films he’s scored for Burton. Frankenweenie was marginally better, but Burton’s career is in danger of becoming a parody of itself.
I should have known something was up when A Fantastic Fear Of Everything started and there were only nine other people there to watch it, on the day it was released. Simon Pegg stars in the directorial debut of Crispian ‘Kula Shaker’ Mills, a man who had a habit of talking utter bollocks during his time in Kula Shaker, and who clearly has no talent at all when it comes to writing and directing films. But he and Pegg must be good mates, because that’s the only reason I can think of for this film being made. It’s a mish-mash of the style of Bunny & The Bull and The Mighty Boosh without any of the comedy they both had, and a plot that is paper-thin and desperately trying to be quirky, like a Wes Anderson film with none of the humour. Without Pegg it probably wouldn’t even have made it to DVD, let alone the cinema, and I can’t stress enough that you should never consider watching it.
It’s time for me to deconstruct Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and mention Seth Grahame-Smith for a second time. For he managed to write two of the worst films of 2012, with AL:VH being just as bad as Dark Shadows. This film is directed by Timur Bekmambetov, a Russian film-maker who looked to have a promising career in the making after the brilliant Night Watch (a supernatural thriller set in Moscow), but has lost his way since. This film is drenched in slow-motion shots, with literally every death in the film shot in slo-mo, something which starts to grate after about 20 minutes. On paper it’s a decent idea, but in reality the script is terrible, the actor playing Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) looks more like Liam Neeson (another, ‘more on him later’ victim) than Lincoln, and it gets boring very quickly. It’s safe to say that people will remember Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln much more fondly, and I can only hope that Grahame-Smith has been locked in a cupboard to stop him writing more turds like this.
I’m not really sure what Nic Cage does with the money he makes from acting, but he clearly goes through it at a rate of knots given a) how frequently he’s in a film and b) how frequently the films he is in are rubbish. Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance is one of those rubbish films he’s made, which isn’t really surprising when you remember that the first Ghost Rider film was also rubbish too. The most disappointing aspect of this film is not that Nic Cage is rubbish in it (because that happens a lot too), but that its directors, Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, the maniacs behind the Crank films, do such a tame job on the film. If you’ve seen a Crank film you’ll know that they’ll try pretty much anything, but Spirit Of Vengeance is rated 12, and it shows, as it basically has no balls at all. Cage is phoning it in, possibly more than he ever has, and the plot is so uninspiring that I can’t remember a thing about it. This is one Marvel franchise that’s going nowhere fast.
Taken was a surprise hit when it was released in 2008, mostly because of Liam Neeson making that phone call. I didn’t think it was a particularly great film, but after being such an unexpected success, a sequel was inevitable. Sadly, Taken 2 is significantly worse than the first film, with such high levels of stupidity in all areas that it feels like literally everyone involved suffered concussion while doing their part in bringing it to the screen. This is a film that involves Maggie Grace (in reality 29, in Taken 2 seemingly trying, and failing, to convince as 21 or younger) chucking hand grenades around in Istanbul to general indifference, driving a car (without having a license) like she’s in a Need For Speed game, and because it has a 12 certificate, sees Liam Neeson offing bad guys by giving them really angry looks. The Albanians seeking revenge on Neeson are portrayed as absolute morons, emptying entire rounds of bullets blindly round corners, peeking through holes in the wall to get shot in the face, and Neeson apparently kills the big bad guy by backing him up against a wall. Neeson should really know better, and should probably give Danny Glover a call to be reminded that he’s ‘too old for this shit’, because he definitely is.
In the trailer, Sinister looks like a decent horror movie. Ethan Hawke plays a true crime author who moves his family into a house where an unsolved murder took place several years before (without telling them) and weird shit goes down. He finds Super-8 films in the attic which show murders taking place across America in different years, each time with a mysterious witchy-looking figure watching on, and he gets dragged deeper and deeper into the true nature of the crimes. I actually thought the first half of the film wasn’t that bad, but it really loses its way in the second half, with the supernatural element to it falling flat, and the end is deeply unsatisfying. It’s not a particularly long film, but I got bored enough that I started looking at my phone during it, and discovered that Ziggy from Season 2 of The Wire was in the film. That was far more interesting than actually watching the film, which lacked scares and, more importantly, plot to mess up a reasonable start and result in a terrible film that will do nothing for the careers of anyone in it.
I wouldn’t exactly say that I had high hopes for The Man With The Iron Fists, but the trailer at least made it look like entertaining nonsense. Sadly, it is just dull nonsense, with terrible acting, directing and writing, which is disappointing as I like The RZA, the production genius (musically) behind the Wu-Tang Clan and general cool guy. And the disappointment comes in spades, as he is the writer (alongside Eli Roth, which I’m sure makes them the exact opposite of a dream team), director AND plays the titular metal handed chap, which was the worst idea of the lot, as he couldn’t act his way out of a paper bag, even if his whole head was made of sharp metal capable of slicing said bag to shreds. Kung Fu movies aren’t exactly renowned for their wonderful acting and layered plots, but the plot and script of this film are so garbled that it’s both not long enough (because I couldn’t really tell what was supposed to be happening) and too long (because it’s really bad). RZA plays a blacksmith who gets his hands chopped off and seeks revenge, but even that doesn’t happen until the second half of the film, which is only 90 minutes long. I don’t know what Russell Crowe is up to starring in dross like this, or what he was trying to do with his character, and not even the presence of the lovely Lucy Liu can save this film from being absolute garbage.
You know you’re in trouble when the tagline for a film called Alex Cross is ‘Don’t Ever Cross Alex Cross’. You know you’re in trouble when that film is directed by Rob Cohen, the (not) visionary director behind the likes of XXX and The Fast And The Furious. You know you’re in trouble when you cast Tyler Perry (famous for dressing like an elderly woman) as the genius detective Alex Cross in Alex Cross. You know you’re in trouble when you cast the annoyingly handsome Matthew Fox (Jack from Lost) as a skinny nutcase who wants to teach Alex Cross (remember, played by a man famous for dressing as a granny) ‘a lesson in pain’. And most importantly, you know you’re in trouble when you watch Alex Cross. Even when Cross was played by Morgan Freeman (you know, a real actor), the films based on James Patterson’s novels were poorly received, so quite how anyone came to the conclusion that Perry was the man to relaunch the franchise is a mystery that even Alex Cross himself (even if he was played by Don Cheadle) could solve. In case I haven’t made it clear, Alex Cross is a very bad film and Tyler is no more a convincing leading man than I am Kylie Minogue’s bottom double.
So that brings me on to the worst movie that I saw in 2012, and here we go:
In a year when the found footage genre was given a welcome shot in the arm by the excellent Chronicle (which made my top 10), it reached a new nadir with the utterly repellent Project X. It’s a film about a house party that got totally out of hand, and it’s almost difficult to know where to start when it comes to summing up just how unfunny, puerile and just outright offensively bad it is. This is a film where the three leading characters (think the three guys from Superbad, but with no redeeming features at all) are basically total dicks, with no respect for anyone, let alone their families, and who put together a party that destroys the house and the surrounding neighbourhood all while the film is trying to make it look like this is a really cool thing to do.
There’s no such thing as good dialogue in this film, and it’s often blatantly offensive, portraying the women in it as desperate sluts and incapable of living without boyfriends who cheat on them at the drop of a hat, and that’s probably the least offensive thing that happens in the film, because I haven’t even gotten to the part where a dwarf is stuck in an oven. It didn’t take long before I was imagining how much fun it would be to repeatedly punch any of the three leads in the face (particularly Oliver Cooper who plays the abhorrent Costa), which was a lot more fun than actually watching the film.
But the worst thing about the film is how it ends. The party has taken place at the house of Thomas, who appears to actually be a fairly normal, decent student, but the next day he’s destroyed his home, his father’s car is in the swimming pool, and the entire neighbourhood has been terrorised by the absurd events taking place throughout the night. So you’d think that his father would beat the living shit out of him and throw him onto the street, right? Wrong! His father is actually delighted by everything that’s happened, because he didn’t think that Thomas ‘had it in him’! Had it in him to be an irresponsible little shit who destroyed everything you’ve worked your whole life for? What wonderful paternal advice!
Project X is a nasty, horrible film, and the worst I’ve seen this year by a long way.