THE 5 BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS OF 2012

BISAPPOINTMENTS

Monday is the day where I do The Phenomenal 5. But honestly, it’s kinda hard to fit the word “phenomenal” in with this list. Just as every movie year has its great films, every year also has its movies that fell short, disappointed, or simply missed its mark. 2012 was certainly no different. For this list I’ve picked five movies that just didn’t work for me. Now I’m not claiming that these are the worst films on 2012 (more on those later). Nor am I including movies like “The Master” which I feel is overrated but that has some undeniable strong points. These five films are movies loaded with potential and high expectations but ended up as real letdowns. (Click on the names of each movie for a link to my full review).

#5 – “BATTLESHIP”

battleship

I almost left “Battleship”off this list entirely. It wasn’t a movie that I had huge expectations for therefore it wasn’t a major disappointment. On the other hand, I bought into the flashy, action-packed trailers that showed off the cool technical side of the film. Unfortunately that’s about all this movie had to offer – lots of explosions, cool alien technology, and nothing more. Even more, I was really surprised at just how lame the script really was. It’s completely predictable, filled with clichĂ©s, and features an absolutely absurd rise in military rank for our protagonist. Look, I get that “Battleship” was a mindless, summer popcorn flick. But even those have to execute better than this movie does.

#4 – “TAKEN 2”

TAKEN2

I really like the first “Taken” film. It was one of the first films featuring the new tough guy Liam Neeson. I ignored all of the bad reviews and made my way to the theater to see “Taken 2”. Sigh! There were moments that I liked in the movie. But there weren’t many of them. “Taken 2” completely dropped the ball in the end. It’s a lazy, check cashing effort that seems to have worked judging by the box office numbers. But I found myself frustrated at the film due to its poor camerawork and absolutely absurd moments. Some of Neeson’s tough guy techniques are ridiculous and I’ve rarely seen a stupider bunch of the bad guys. And then there’s the climactic fights at the end where the camerawork is so bad you have no idea what has taken place. One thing I do know, “Taken 2” definitely qualifies as a disappointment.

#3 – “CLOUD ATLAS”

cloudatlas

I was completely unfamiliar with the source material for “Cloud Atlas”. But after hearing all of the excitement from many others, I became pretty enthusiastic about the movie adaptation. I came out really disappointed but I’ve also grown more disenchanted with it as time goes by. There’s a lot of ambition tied into this film. It also takes chances and I always like that. But this is a mishmash of incomprehensible nonsense, self-indulgent style, and heavy-handed sermonizing wrapped up as a groundbreaking, science-fiction epic. Now I can see where people may buy into it but I saw it as a lot smaller than it tries to be. A couple of the storylines are interesting but as a whole it just didn’t come together and I have no interest in seeing it again.

#2 – “TO ROME WITH LOVE”

ROME

I was never a big fan of Woody Allen, at least not until I saw “Midnight in Paris”. I remain mesmerized by that movie both due to its heart and it’s incredible witt. Allen’s European cinematic tour continued with “To Rome With Love” and how could it not be good, right? Sadly the movie flies off the rails at the halfway point and never captures any of the locational magic that made “Midnight” so great. Now I will say the movie starts off promising and I was starting to think Allen had struck gold again. But things take a ridiculous turn and the second half of the movie is about as sloppy as anything I saw all year. I was really hoping Woody Allen would do for Rome what he did for Paris. Instead he left it just short of a disaster area.

#1 – “TOTAL RECALL”

TOTAL RECALL

Many of us have questioned the barrage of remakes coming out of Hollywood these days. But “Total Recall” was one film that seemed primed for a modern day makeover. And while I did have questions, I back-burned any skepticism. Unfortunately there were a lot of reasons to be skeptical. I watched the original “Total Recall” tons of times after its release. This flashy remake not only fails to capture the fun, sci-fi action and adventure of the original, but it leaves out much of what made the first film so good. The glaring creative changes and omissions decimate the story so much so that the fantastic visuals and great special-effects can’t cover it. This is a really good looking movie. But it’s also a complete drag and it fails to capitalize on what should have been a surefire formula.

There are my five biggest disappointments of the 2012 movie year. Agree or disagree? Please let me know. Also take time to share some of your biggest disappointments of this past year.

THE THROWDOWN : Stallone vs. Schwarzenegger

Wednesday is Throwdown day at Keith & the Movies. It’s when we take two movie subjects, pit them against each other, and see who’s left standing. Each Wednesday we’ll look at actors, actresses, movies, genres, scenes, and more. I’ll make a case for each and then see how they stand up one-on-one. And it’s not just my opinion that counts. I’ll share my take and then open up the polls to you. Visit each week for a new Throwdown. Vote each week to decide the true winner!

*Last week Christian Bale (74%) manhandled Michael Keaton (26%) in a Batman battle to the death.*

This week it’s an action movie face-off between the two biggest names of the 80’s. The 80’s and early 90’s were the glory days of the action genre and no one was bigger than Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Forget the critical acclaim, the stuffy Academy Awards, and the overrated importance of good acting. These guys were all about biceps, blood, and bullets. Before they teamed up in the recent “The Expendables” movies, these two had a huge box office rivalry that lasted several years. Now it’s time to settle the big question. Which of these action movie icons is truly the best? Their guns are loaded, their knives are sharpened, and their muscles are flexed. But it’s your votes that will decide the outcome.

STALLONE vs. SCHWARZENEGGER

At 66-years old, Sly Stallone is still kicking bad guy’s butts on the big screen. But then again, he’s been doing it for almost 40 years. His career really took off in 1976 with “Rocky”. But it was “First Blood” and “Rambo: First Blood Part 2” that laid the foundation for what would become an amazing action movie career. He would go on to clean up a psycho cult in “Cobra”, team up with Kurt Russell in “Tango & Cash”, hang from mountain cliffs in “Cliffhanger”, battle baddies in the future with “Demolition Man” and “Judge Dredd”, and rescue survivors trapped in a collapsed tunnel in “Daylight”. He’s also made several more “Rocky” pictures and two more “Rambo” films. He has several new projects ahead but he’ll always be remembered for his incredible run that helped make the action genre so popular.

Arnold Schwarzenegger may have more memorable scenes and memorable one-liners than anyone in cinema history. He also has an action movie resume that’s as impressive as any you will see. This one-time Austrian bodybuilder made a name for himself in the early 80’s with his “Conan” films. But his career really took off when he traded his sword for a gun in the sci-fi classic “The Terminator”. He then cemented his one-man-army status in “Commando” and “Raw Deal”. He would battle an alien threat in the spectacular military sci-fi film “Predator”. He also ventured into the future with “The Running Man” and “Total Recall” before making what is one of the best sequels of all time, “Terminator 2: Judgement Day”. He mad several more action films including “True Lies” and another successful “Terminator” flick. This 65-year old has no plans on slowing down and you’ll see him plenty in 2013.

So there’s a case for both. Now you decide who’s the winner. The action movie genre wouldn’t be what it is without the contributions of these two icons. So vote now. Who’s the heavier hitter, Arnie or Sly? You decide!

HOLLYWOOD WRITER’S BLOCK? SEQUELS, REBOOTS, & REMAKES

If there is one constant in the modern-day movie industry, it’s the steady barrage of motion picture sequels, reboots, and remakes that bombard theaters each year. For a while now it’s seemed as if the sheer number of sequels, reboots, and remakes has steadily grown from year to year. Just look at 2011. The year featured reboots such as “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and “X-Men: First Class”. We also got several pointless remakes like “Footloose”, “Fright Night”, “The Smurfs”, and “Arthur”. And of course, the year was loaded with sequels from popular “franchises” such as Harry Potter, The Transformers, Twilight, and Pirates of the Caribbean; animated films like “Cars 2”, “Kung Fu Panda 2”, and “Happy Feet Two”; and a host of other stuff ranging from “Spy Kids” to “Scream 4” to “Hangover 2”.

That was last year. Just take a look at what we have already seen and what we can expect for the rest of 2012. It’s still early in the movie year and we’ve already seen remakes like “21 Jump Street” and “The Three Stooges” and a host of sequels such as “Journey 2”, “Wrath of the Titans”, “Underworld Awakening”, and “Ghost Rider”. To add to it, this year we have already seen  3-D re-releases of three movies: “Star Wars: Episode 1”, “Beauty and the Beast”, and “Titanic”. Here’s just a sample of what’s still coming out this year:

  • “Men in Black III” (sequel)
  • “Piranha 3DD” (sequel – I guess)
  • “Madagascar 3” (sequel)
  • “G.I. Joe: Retaliation (sequel/reboot)
  • “The Amazing Spider-Man” (reboot)
  • “Ice Age: Continental Drift” (sequel)
  • “The Dark Knight Rises” (sequel)
  • “Step Up: Revolution” (…….sigh…..)
  • “The Bourne Legacy” (sequel)
  • “Total Recall” (remake)
  • “The Expendables 2” (sequel)
  • “Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2” (sequel)
  • “Resident Evil: Retribution (sequel)
  • “Paranormal Activity 4” (sequel…kinda)
  • “Red Dawn” (remake)
  • “Skyfall” (sequel)

There are several more that you can expect to see in 2012 but you get the point. It seems that sequels and remakes aren’t a big thing these days. They’ve become commonplace. Now let it be known that there are some movies on the list that I am really excited about seeing. It’s also true that some sequels are incredible movies. It’s also worth noting that THE TOP 9 GROSSING MOVIES of 2011 were sequels which shows that there is an audience for them. So it certainly isn’t a question of bad financial decisions and it’s certainly not unreasonable to make movies that will sell tickets. But it begs the question, is there a shortage of originality and creativity in Hollywood?

I can remember when a movie sequel was a pretty big deal. You didn’t see many of them and when you did it usually drew a lot of attention. That’s certainly not the case today. And Hollywood’s sudden affection for remaking 80’s movies and TV shows has led to more head-scratching results than memorable films. I guess in a way that’s my biggest concern. Just how many of today’s sequels, reboots, and remakes are really good, memorable films? How many will stay with us for the rest of our lives. How many are just easy money grabs that have little to no lasting impact? I tend to think more of them are utterly forgettable than true movie treasures.

But as I mentioned, not every sequel, reboot, or remake is bad. Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” not only rose above the superhero genre but it was an incredible movie. This year’s “The Dark Knight Rises” is my most anticipated movie of the year. And there are still many good quality filmmakers that are making great original movies for us to enjoy each year. Add in independent films and foreign cinema and there are several outlets to discover good movies. But so much of Hollywood’s efforts and resources are going into treading the same water that I can’t help but wonder, is the struggling industry desperate for dollars at the theater or does Hollywood have a bad case of writer’s block that only seems to be getting worse?