Every year, movies arrive that show promise, but for whatever reason (bad acting, bad directing, bad writing, bad catering?), fails to make the grade. The result is disappointment with a capital “D”. Here, then, is our list of the 10 most disappointing movies of 2011. These are films that I received with anticipation, either as something potentially great, or just good, but ended up being anything but. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean the movies were not good, just that they failed to live up to my expectations, thus the use of “disappointment” in the title. And we’re not talking about, say, something as obviously silly as “The Roommate” or “Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star”, titles that no one expected to be good.
The list below (which is in no particular order) is not meant to be a complete list of films released in 2011. Like most people, I haven’t seen every single movie released in the year. Feel free to add your own disappointing movies in the comments section, or tell me why I’m wrong with anything on the list.
Cowboys and Aliens
Cowboys + aliens = fun! It should be, yeah, but director Jon Favreau doesn’t quite seem to know if he wants to make a campy action-adventure movie or a gritty Western that, for some reason, aliens show up in. I have no problems with genre mashing, but “Cowboys and Aliens” just never really clicks. Of course, it could just be the ludicrous nature of watching guys with six-shooters battling CGI aliens, and doing it with a serious face, that threw me off. The biggest disappointment with “Cowboys and Aliens” is just what a good Western it could have been. Casting a solid, but very dour hero in Daniel Craig lends itself to a serious Western, but not one where there are aliens flying around in ships. Definitely the biggest misfire of the year, and ultimately one of the more ill-conceived “high concept” films in a long time.
Ryan Reynolds was born to play a superhero. A smart-mouthed, wisecracking superhero (paging Deadpool!). Then again, it’s hard to imagine anyone actually making the hero of “Green Lantern” work considering the tedious Origins Story he has to shoulder here. Add to that a ridiculous villain (Wow, a killer intergalactic cloud. Are you kidding me? Did we not learn anything from the “Fantastic Four” sequel?), and you have a superhero movie that tried to cram way too much into a single film. For all its CG, funny looking aliens, and cool ring “constructs” that everyone is whipping up with their fancy space rings, the movie is strangely never as fun as it really should have been. It has its moments, but overall, giving the hero not only an Origins Story, but two villains (and a third, potential villain) was just too much. Plus, was there really a lot of clamoring for a Green Lantern movie? I used to read comic books for a good portion of my teen life, and I never once thought, “Wow, this would make a great movie!” Honest. Never once. Now I know why.
Mickey Rourke sure looks horny. You know, because his character wears a big ol mask with horns on top? Yeah, that was the joke that kept running through my head during Tarsem Singh’s unbelievably ridiculous “Immortals”. The bastard son of “Clash of the Titans” and “300″ wants to be a visionary take on the same ol, same ol (apparently it’s in Singh’s contract that every press release that references him must have the phrase “visionary director” somewhere in the same sentence), but ends up just being, well, the same ol, same ol. Henry Cavill tries his best here, but he’s saddled with an awful script. The only thing that could have saved “Immortals” is if Mickey Rourke’s character had no reason to slaughter his way through the movie’s fake ass landscapes. If he was just a psycho who liked killing folks. Instead, he gets some ridiculous grudge against the Gods. Pfft. Boo hoo for you, Mickey Rourke, join the friggin’ club, man! Stop being such a bitch! By the way, the Gods in “Immortals”? For a bunch of guys that live on a giant mountain in the clouds, they sure are easy to kill.
Liam Neeson’s “Unknown” goes exactly how you thought it would go. Which is South — fast. The film offers up an intriguing premise featuring an engaging leading man in Liam Neeson, but unfortunately that’s about all “Unknown” has going for it. It’s not a good enough action movie to make up for all the familiar territory it’s treading, and the film’s final twist is obvious and unsatisfying, and more than a little ridiculous. The fact that the studio tried to sell the movie as another “Taken” pretty much tells you that they though their best chance was to fool the audience into thinking this is a sequel to “Taken” and not a movie that could stand on its own. It’s like “The Bourne Identity”, only with more snow. And, er, Germans.
I Am Number Four
When you see snarling jocks in a high school-set movie, they will invariably turn out to be evil bullies. The varsity letter jackets they’re wearing is the first sign that they’re up to no good. That’s the kind of innovative writing you’ll find in “I am Number Four”, a film that makes absolutely no sense, probably because it’s based on a proposed series of young adult novels that just screams “commercial viability”. Nothing about “I am Number Four” is remotely original, from the brooding teen hero to the high school setting to the pretty “outsider” love interest. The only thing that makes the film worth watching is Timothy Olyphant and Teresa Palmer, and unfortunately Palmer is barely in the movie until the end, and they kill Olyphant off, thus ensuring that the (probably never gonna happen) sequels will be totally worthless. Who knew being “alien” meant you had crazy ass superpowers?
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