I have managed to avoid some of the year's big duds - Red Riding Hood, Something Borrowed, Just Go With It, Abduction, Jack and Jill etc. - actually making the effort see some of the potential duds that might have surprised me (for example Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides). I don't know why I saw New Year's Eve. I had free passes.
Before I delve into my Ten Worst Films of 2011, here are my selections for Most Overrated Film and Biggest Disappointment of 2011.
Overrated: The obvious choice here would be Bridesmaids, a film most people know I did not enjoy but one that holds a 90% score on Rotten Tomatoes and has been amongst the nominees and winners at recent critics awards. I don't get it. Other ones that spring to mind are Eye of the Storm (a multiple festival winner, but the year's longest two hours), The Beaver (the premise is absurd) and X-Men: First Class (if Michael Fassbender wasn't so good in this film, it would have stunk). But, the most overrated film of the year is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Being a Harry Potter fan, I found it to be a fitting way to end the franchise. For the most part, I actually liked the film. So, why would I select this here? It has a 96% score on Rotten Tomatoes (with an 8.4 average) and has been popping up consistently on Top 10 lists. It's a good film, but far from a great one (it's not the best in the series, that's for sure) despite the critical consensus claiming otherwise.
Biggest Disappointment: At the start of the year I remember being really intrigued by both Submarine and Another Earth. While Submarine was a clever, quirky indie comedy, it didn't match my expectations, unfortunately. Another Earth showcases the talents of writer/star Brit Marling, and writer/director Mike Cahill, but I didn't find it to be a particularly strong film. It was one of a few disappointments at the Melbourne International Film Festival. Another one was Melancholia. It's Lars Von Trier. I got through Antichrist easier than this one. The second half was a snoozefest. I have seen the film since and I liked it a lot more (the photography and Dunst are the highlights) - but I wished I felt more coming out of it. Another one is Sleeping Beauty. After learning of it's selection into Cannes and seeing it at the Sydney Film Festival, I convinced myself that I liked it. Weeks went by, it received a theatrical run, I discussed it with a few people - and decided that it really wasn't very good at all.
Dishonourable Mentions: 5 Days of War, Eye of the Storm, Beautiful Lies, The Cup and One Day.
10. The Green Hornet - 'It was one of the earliest 2011 releases. I have tried to erase it from my memory. I am a fan of Seth Rogen, but this was abnoxious and silly and the worst work he has ever been a part of. I don't know what Michel Gondry was thinking, but the destructive final act was appalling.'
9. Battle: Los Angeles - 'Loud, overlong, horribly scripted, visually disorienting and burdened with endless cliches from both alien invasion films such as Independence Day and District 9 and war films such as Black Hawk Down. Borders on unwatchable for a while there.'
8. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - 'The plot, which is 'suggested' by the novel On Stranger Tides by Jim Powers, feels a lot like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and is a failed attempt at freshening up a now beyond-mediocre franchise. It is uninspired, calculated, flat and often downright boring. The action gags are far too conveniently constructed, and felt like a re-hash of earlier films in the franchise (most notably Black Pearl).'
7. The Three Musketeers - 'Wow. Paul W. S Anderson is back with another overblown 3D action adventure. The messy, convoluted script is near-impossible to relay, but the film does get a couple of ticks for production design and costume. But, this preposterous retelling of the classic Dumas tale fails in it's attempts at humour and is an insult to anyone who admires the original work.'
6. New Year's Eve - 'It's not unpleasant viewing (well, lumping a cast like this together is unpleasant, I guess) but it's way too eager to please, and watching these unevenly edited individual stories unfold over a single day/night fails to muster many laughs or adequately engage a viewer. It's 118 minutes (too long), is both intentionally and unintentionally corny and ultimately has few commendable qualities whatsoever.'
5. Cowboys and Aliens - 'I tried not to think too much during this film, but the mediocrity was so glaringly obvious. While the aim was to combine the western and sci-fi genres, the film consists of nothing but a checklist of predictable cliches and plot points. It never claims to be self-aware or in any way uses these cliches in an inventive or fun way. Throw in some lousy visual effects, and one of the worst performances you will see on a screen this year (Paul Dano) and there should be no regrets in proclaiming that this film sucks big time.'
4. Sucker Punch - 'Despite the energised loathing and heated criticism directed at Sucker Punch in it's first week, I entered the cinema optimistic of some visceral mindless fun. The end result is anything but fun. Snyder's film barely feels like a film, full of music video montages and stake-less video game levels. I squirmed uneasily throughout this self-indulgent, overblown and pointless mess, which stands as as one of the most despicable additions to the cinematic world this year.'
3. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 - 'The material is rotten, Kristen Stewart is as boring as ever, Taylor Lautner is a laughing stock whenever he is on screen and Robert Pattinson still seems like he was on the wrong end of a chalk duster fight. There is no way this film needed to be split in half. The first half is so padded and incredibly boring that it makes the lacklustre second seem genuinely exciting (if unintentionally hilarious). What a waste of time.'
2. Transformers: Dark of the Moon - 'Why a seemingly endless budget for chaos and destruction was contributed to this loud, pointless, soulless, ridiculously long, indescribably dumb and abominably directed mess makes me very sad indeed. It's far from entertaining - you could easily fall asleep in the climactic battle - and it's the collaboration of everything wrong with the Hollywood blockbuster.'
1. Your Highness - 'Suffers from an unfortunate curse that has plagued few comedies worse than this. It just isn't funny. Words can't describe how much stupidity is thoughtlessly thrown at us in this film.'
So, what are your selections for Most Overrated, and Most Disappointing and what are your top stinkers of the year?