Sometimes movies are just plain bad, as we well know. But in this author’s humble opinion, seeing the films that we wanted so badly to like crash and burn is much, much worse. Here’s a list of five films that were nowhere near as good as they should have been, making them the biggest disappointments of 2012.
5. The Bourne Legacy
The Bourne franchise is easily my favorite modern action series – culminating in the impeccable Ultimatum, Jason Bourne’s tale of identity and revenge is a rip-roaring good time unparalleled in the genre. As the follow-up to that trilogy, The Bourne Legacy wasn’t a bad film – Renner’s Aaron Cross is a solid protagonist who adds something different to the Bourne universe, and Tony Gilroy’s world-building continues to intrigue. Nevertheless, sporadically slow pacing, a largely unmemorable plot, and some shaky-cam cinematography easily make Legacy the black sheep of the family. Check out what Mike and I had to say in our dueling review here.
Speaking of action icons, the immortal 007 has been on very shaky ground for the past few decades. While Casino Royale seemed to breathe new life into the franchise, the abysmal Quantum of Solace brought it right back on its knees once again. For Skyfall, director’s mantle was passed to Sam Mendes (American Beauty) whose prowess with drama and black comedy seemed to be just the thing this new film would need.
Unfortunately, keeping the same middling writers who have been around since the last few Brosnan films has proved to be a big mistake – the combination of so-so dialogue with the same predictable villain tropes we saw in The Avengers and The Dark Knight (and perhaps the upcoming Star Trek film, too), the movie felt like old hat before it even got started. Skyfall wasn’t a total failure, of course, but given the potential the film had with Mendes at the helm and Javier Bardem as the primary antagonist, it was pretty darn forgettable. Todd, Tim, and I discuss Bond’s latest outing in our dueling review here.
On a side note, people really need to stop referring to Skyfall as the new Goldfinger – I don’t even have time to go into how wrongheaded that comparison is.
3. The Pirates! Band of Misfits
I think you could say I’m a pretty big Aardman fan; not only did I grow up on the brilliant Wallace and Gromit, but my dog is actually named after the eponymous pooch. I was so inspired by his work, in fact, that I even tried my hand at some basic claymation back in elementary school. How one goes from Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run to The Pirates! Band of Misfits is beyond me, but I suspect it has something to do with lack of involvement from one of the original creators, Nick Park.
Like some of the other films on this list, it’s not that The Pirates! is terrible – it’s just bland; whenever I try and recall anything from the movie, all I can think of is the color beige. It’s neither funny nor clever, and the story is rather lacking in subtlety. The characters are also almost entirely hit-or-miss slapstick caricatures, which is a shame considering the studios’s illustrious past. Ultimately, where Aardman’s previous efforts felt like they were made for all ages, The Pirates! feels like it’s targeted squarely at 5th graders with short attention spans who just had their first lesson on Charles Darwin. No thank you.
Bring back Nick Park, please.
2. To Rome with Love
Woody Allen is one of the greatest and most prolific filmmakers of all time. From Annie Hall and Manhattan to The Purple Rose of Cairo and Zelig, he has pumped out classic after classic in his long career. But it’s hard to keep up a streak like that, and in the twilight of the 20th century his movies began to wane significantly in quality. Luckily for him, he saw a massive resurgence in critical recognition and popularity in the past decade, owing in large part to his European tour films Vicky Christina Barcelona and Midnight in Paris.
While I wasn’t a big fan of Vicky Christina, I thought Midnight in Paris was quintessentialAllen – it had heart, a solid message, a hint of whimsical fantasy, an excellent script, and superb characters. Conversely, Allen’s follow-up To Rome with Love has exactly none of those things. Hammy dialogue and tired clichés riddle the film’s shallow, poorly thought-out vignettes, making the film feel like the colossal waste of time that it is.
If you’ve got a hankering to see some modern Allen, I highly recommend you skip To Rome with Love and just go watch Midnight in Paris instead. At first I regretted that I didn’t include To Rome with Love to my Most Anticipated Movies of 2012 list, but now I’m glad that I didn’t. What a travesty. Read my full review here.
1. Seven Psychopaths
Martin McDonagh had everything in front of him. An accomplished playwright and the writer/director of the magnificent In Bruges, critics and moviegoers alike were extremely excited to see what this Tarantino-esque Irishman would do next. And when it was announced that his next project was a film called Seven Psychopaths starring Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, and Christopher Walken, many of his fans (myself included) got very excited.
Too bad the movie sucked. Sporting a misleading title, misused characters, a meandering story, and a misplaced anticlimactic ending, Seven Psychopaths was dead on arrival. It is inexcusable for someone of such obvious talent working with such a star-studded cast (who do give it their all, to be fair) to make such a ho-hum film. It is for this reason that, with great pain, I deem Seven Psychopaths the most disappointing film of 2012. Read my full review here.
So there you have it: five films that utterly disappointed me in 2012. What about you – what movies were you looking forward to in 2012 that totally bombed?