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Scott Harris

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By day, Scott Harris writes about movies. But by night, he patrols the streets of his city, clad only in pure justice.

The 10 Biggest Disappointments of 2012

There’s no question that 2012 was one of the best years for film in recent memory. Not only were there a number of great movies like “Lincoln,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Les Miserables” and “Django Unchained,” but even summer blockbusters such as “The Avengers” and “The Dark Knight Rises” were unusually good.

But as great as this year was at the box office, there were still a number of films that were major disappointments.

Hey, with over 200 movies being released nationwide, it was bound to happen that some movies couldn’t live up to fan expectations. As award season revs up and Hollywood gets ready to pat themselves on the back for the next few weeks, let’s just pause for a moment and look back at the biggest disappointments of 2012.

10. ‘Prometheus’

If you’re like us, you were pretty darn jazzed for “Prometheus.” Ridley Scott, one of the all-time great directors, returning to do a prequel of the movie that made him famous in the first place, “Alien”? What could possibly go wrong? Unfortunately, the biggest event of 2012 turned out to be a non-starter, as the “Alien” parts of the plot seemed tacked on and random. Gaping plot holes (how is the guy with the computerized super-map the one who gets lost?) didn’t help; neither did the fact that the trailer spoiled the entire story from beginning to end. Turns out you really can’t go home again.

9. ‘Dark Shadows’

Johnny Depp and Tim Burton have a pretty fantastic track record when it comes to collaborations (you know, “Edward Scissorhands,” “Ed Wood,” “Sweeney Todd,” etc.). So when they announced they would be updating the classic ’60s vampire soap opera “Dark Shadows,” it seemed like a no-brainer. Unfortunately, it was, in the sense that it was really stupid. One problem about being able to do anything you want is that nobody can tell you when you’ve gone off the deep end. We expect more from both of these guys.

John Carter

8. ‘John Carter

What do you get when you spend more than a quarter of a million dollars making a sci-fi epic about a Civil War soldier who finds himself on Mars, where he gains superpowers and gets involved in a totally different civil war? You get one of the biggest box office disasters in recent memory. Even a shirtless Taylor Kitsch couldn’t get people to go to the box office and it’s just as well, because if they had, they would have been subjecting themselves to one of the most bloated and self-indulgent “epics” in years. Hey, at least Kitsch couldn’t do any worse, right?

7. ‘Battleship’

Oh, boy. Honestly, Taylor, we’re really sorry, but this is what happens when you make terrible films. Sure, everyone loves the board game “Battleship,” but turning a board game into a movie isn’t exactly as simple as passing Go and collecting $200 million. Even the addition of Liam Neeson and Rihanna couldn’t keep “Battleship” from sinking like a stone. We had such high hopes for Kitsch this year. Now we just hope someone in Hollywood gives him another job.

6. ‘Total Recall’

The original 1990 version of “Total Recall” is a cult classic, so the announcement that Colin Farrell was headlining an updated version was greeted with cautious optimism. That quickly turned into jaded pessimism once people actually saw the finished product. Yes, Kate Beckinsale having a catfight with Jessica Biel is cool, but you don’t need to make a whole movie for that; an animated GIF would have accomplished the same thing. And without wasting everybody’s time and money.

5. ‘The Bourne Legacy’

Like most right-thinking humans, we love Jeremy Renner, so we were pretty excited to see “The Bourne Legacy.” After all, director Tony Gilroy not only wrote the first three “Bourne” films, he also was nominated for a Best Director Oscar for “Michael Clayton.” So, you know, all signs pointed to this being a great movie. Instead, it was mostly a paint-by-numbers action thriller, except the part where Renner’s character, Aaron Cross, got superhuman powers through an experiment that would make Reed Richards turn green with envy. We like our “Bourne” movies to be grounded … and, sad to say, with Matt Damon in them.

Snow White and the Huntsman

4. ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’

Hey, remember when everyone still loved Kristen Stewart? Well, that whole unfortunate affair thing may have gotten most of the press this summer, but the real scandal between her and director Rupert Sanders was how tedious the movie they made together was. Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth did their level best to rescue it from mediocrity, but it was pretty much a sad goth drag from start to finish. Sometimes even fairy tales don’t have fairy tale endings.

3. ‘Brave’

Yes, we know: This is blasphemy. But this isn’t the Worst Movies of 2012 list, it’s the Biggest Disappointments of 2012 list. And frankly, when it comes to animated films, we hold Pixar to a higher standard than what they gave us with “Brave.” Yes, the animation was nice. And yes, it was refreshing to get a female protagonist and a story about mothers and daughters for once. But somehow, “Brave” still fell flat for us. This is a case where the whole ended up being less than the sum of its parts.

2. ‘The Dictator’

Is Sacha Baron Cohen’s shock shtick getting old? Six years after “Borat” and three years after “Bruno,” Cohen returned to his old tricks with “The Dictator.” Sure, it was more scripted than those earlier efforts, but that just meant that the offensive parts were more offensive considering they were planned and staged rather than being discovered. More importantly, it also meant the funny parts just weren’t as funny. The world has changed in the last six years, but Cohen’s humor hasn’t. It might be time for all of us to move on.

1. ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’

This is a hard one. But as with “Brave,” this is also a matter of expectations being so high that perhaps they couldn’t possibly be met. After all, it’s not hyperbole to suggest that “The Hobbit” is the most anticipated film of the last decade. Could any film live up to that kind of scrutiny? We’re not sure, but we know one thing: This film certainly didn’t. It was great seeing Bilbo and Gandalf and Middle Earth again, but between all the walking and the scenery and the running and the dwarvery, well, we were hoping for a little more story and action. The New Zealand Tourism Board is probably thrilled, but if we wanted to watch the Travel Channel, we could have stayed home. The only good news? We may enjoy part two more now that our expectations for it are so much lower.


Categories: Features, Lists

Tags: Battleship, Brave, Charlize theron, Chris Hemsworth, Colin Carrell, Dark Shadows, Features, Jeremy Renner, Jessica biel, John Carter, Johnny depp, Kate beckinsale, Kristen stewart, Liam neeson, Prometheus, Ridley scott, Rihanna, Sacha baron cohen, Snow White and the Huntsman, Taylor Kitsch, The Bourne Legacy, The dictator, The hobbit, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Tim burton, Tony Gilroy, Total recall