Saturday, December 24, 2011

End-of-Year Awards: 10 Worst Films of 2011


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?


  1. Ugh, Pirates was terrible...that disappointed me, I was hoping it would be an improvement on three at the very least, but alas, I felt this was worse...

  2. I so agree with you on Harry Potter. My biggest problem with it is tell me that It is NOT Harry Potter and then I will agree that it is a good film.

    And one interesting Fact. I have seen 3-4 worst of the year lists by now. And Surprisingly, I haven't seen any movie on any of the list. I guess I am good at avoiding bad films. Haha.

  3. I agree with you on Transformers, Sucker Punch, and The Green Hornet. I would also add Just Go With It, Priest, Ironclad, The Mechanic, Unknown,Green Lantern, and The Adjustment Bureau to name a few.

  4. "I don't know what Michel Gondry was thinking"

    Probably about some bills that need paying.

  5. Well, I posted my top ten yesterday so I can't be bothered answering twice. Still, I'm with you when you say that Bridesmaids was pretty overrated. And disappointing. I really don't get why so many people liked it. I also found Hanna to be largely overrated, too, and it was possibly my biggest disappointment of the year. There are probably heaps of others, but then again, I haven't seen a lot of 2011 films!

  6. I agree with Pirates, the big problem for me was the 3D, the quality was so bad. I went into Breaking Dawn and New Year's eve knowing I wouldn't particularly enjoy them, but still, the things I do for my friends. They were ok, with multiple flaws, but I can't say I hated them, they were entertaining, in some parts. I didn't even lose my time with Transformers, Your Highness or Jack&Jill, I knew I wouldn't like them!Great post!

  7. Just watched The Beaver and Submarine yesterday and really liked both! Yes Beaver is ridiculous but I thought it got away with it (mostly). Submarine was fantastic but then my expectations weren't too high! Great list, I'm lucky enough to have not sat through 4 of them!

  8. Kind of surprised to see Sucker Punch so far down the list.

    X-men first class would also have made my list. I didn't like it at all!

  9. @ Ruth - I think Pirates 4 was an improvement over three in that the story was simpler - but I don't think I was as bored in At World's End. I had seen Your Highness earlier that same day, but after about an hour I zoned out of Pirates.

    @ Steven - Hey, glad to hear your script is done, and I agree that Jena Malone and Abbie Cornish were the best perf. in that awful film. Red Riding Hood I had intended to see, but other engagements got in the way...luckily.

    @ SDG - Deathly Hallows is not a bad film - so it has no place on a Worst-Of list. But I think it deserves an overrated tag. You are very lucky to have avoided these films. If I didnt have the access I do to films in my city - and wasn't reviewing, and could only make it to the cinema once or twice a week for example, there's no way I would have willingly seen these ones.

    @ CS - Of the other ones you mentioned, the only ones I have seen are The Mechanic and The Adjustment Bureau. The former was pretty bad - but still a few slots above this list. Hall Pass didn't even make it haha. As for The Adjustment Bureau, I kind liked it. Not fantastic, but watchable.

    @ James - Yeah! Hard to imagine he once directed ETERNAL SUNSHINE watching this film.

  10. @ Stevee - HANNA was a little disappointing in some ways (mostly the story - and some of the plot holes) but I thought Joe Wright's stylish direction, and the score by The Chemical Brothers kept it pretty exciting. It also has one of the best scenes of the year (I thought).

    @ Aziza - I didn't even see Pirates in 3D haha.

    @ Pete - I'd revisit Submarine again, but considering my expectations, I found it a bit forgettable. A shame, but it seems like Richard Ayoade is a future talent.

    @ Joel − I really didn't have a good time with SUCKER PUNCH - I found it to be pointless and offensive, and despite all of the impressive visuals, I got really bored. I wasn't a fan of X-Men, but for me it's nowhere near as bad as the ones I have listed later.

  11. I'm not really surprised if 'Your Highness' is your number one of worst movies this year. It had many great actors but lame story. It was one of the bad movies I didn't finish to watch.
    I think I agree with you on Harry Potter, it felt overrated and I do loved it, but it's not the best of the series as you say. And I wonder if I should put it in my top 10.
    Submarine is a sweet movie, but yeah, I too have a bit of disappointment after watching it. I expected it to have more depth than just a story from a teenager. But I do love the package of the movie.

  12. I wholeheartedly agree with you on Green Hornet, Battle Los Angeles, and Sucker Punch. I did not even finish watching any of those three.

    Anyways, have a Merry Christmas Andy!

  13. @ Andina - For some reason I expected SUBMARINE to be one of my favourites of the year - but it didn't quite get there. Yeah, YOUR HIGHNESS was my pick from about the half-year mark. Awful.

    @ Bonjour - Totally understand turning them off. I saw Battle: LA on DVD at home, and struggled big time. The others I saw at the cinema :-/ Merry Christmas to you too! I hope your amazing site continues to grow in the new year. I really respect your attitude towards indie and foreign film. There are so many I need to see, and your site is one place I stop by for inspiration and recommendations. Thank you!

  14. I haven't seen any of your movies on you're worst-list, since they seemed to be so bad. But I trust you on your word.

    I agree about Bridesmaid being very disappointing. But unlike you I really loved Submarine, Melancholia and HP2.

    My biggest disappointment was probably Tintin. THAT was a snoozefeast, weird as it sounds for an action movie...

  15. Well, you certainly haven't missed out on much, by missing them. I expected these films to be bad - so I wasn't really surprised by some of them. Still, you go in with some optimism, and it's shot in the early minutes. I can't recommend checking them out - unless you're a die-hard fan of the Pirates films or something. I know you really loved Melancholia - and it will actually be an Honourable Mention in my Best Of 2011 post. I just had really high hopes. I can understand Tintin - I had a lot of fun with it, but it had it's flaws, and growing up with Tintin as you did, i can imagine you had your expectations. Thanks for reading Jessica, and Merry Christmas!!

  16. Be very thankful you didn't see Father of Invention or Passion Play or your top 10 would have turned into 12.

  17. Super overview of Transformers. The series just degenerated into a tiresome mess. Very poor.

  18. Looks like I dodged a bullet this year, as I only saw 1 of the films on your worst ten list (Twilight). I did catch both X-Men and Harry Potter, though the over-rated thing is, as you say, about other's reactions more than the films itself.

    Now to see whether the Razzies agree with your assessment!

  19. @ Colin - I haven't heard of either of them. Perhaps they weren't deemed good enough to get a cinema release here? Thankfully.

    @ Dan - It was terrible wasn't it? I could have easily fallen asleep in that final battle - I was not engaged at all.

    @ NeverTooEarly MP - You're very lucky. Most of these films had 'bad' written all over them, but I saw them anyway. X-Men and Harry Potter are by no means bad films, but I don't think they are particularly good either - not the critical consensus anyway. I think Twilight and Transformers will get some Razzies - likely Abduction, Jack and Jill too.

  20. The new Twilight is one of the worst I've ever seen in my life. Also, The Smurfs and The Dilema should have featured.