Some of these movies I actually enjoyed somewhat but ended up not living up to the expectations I had. Also, just so you know these are my subjective picks for disappointing films, not an offical “these were the DEFINITIVE disappointing movies of 2011.”
10. The Hangover 2 - 2/10
The only reason this movie isn’t higher on this list is because I had a feeling that it was going to be a train wreck and good God it did not disappoint in that respect. This is one of the most utterly worthless movie experiences I’ve ever had in my life. I liked the first Hangover film, but it wasn’t THE FUNNIEST MOVIE EVER for me like it apparently was for many others. When I heard they were making a sequel, everything about it just screamed cash grab to me and I was 100% right on the money with that assumption. It’s like they literally took 30 minutes to write out the basic story structure on cocktail napkins and just recycle everything from the first with no ingenuity. Complete trash and I wouldn’t be surprised if they went back to milk the cow for a third one SMH…
9. Transformers: Dark of the Moon - 6/10
To be honest, I enjoyed quite a bit of Transformers 3, but that doesn’t mean the movie as a whole was good. The only reason this wasn’t higher on my list is because after Transformers 2, my expectations were dwindled quite a bit. I remained cautiously optimistic after the trailers for this one hit because it looked good, but so did Transformers 2 from the trailers. The CGI, 3D effects, and action were all pretty good, but anything tying those things to any resemblance of a plot or characters was utter shit. If this movie was a 100 minute balls to the wall action excursion, I would’ve loved this movie, but instead we got a bloated 153 minute movie filled with inane story beats and unfunny gags.
8. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows - 6/10
I generally liked the first Sherlock Holmes film. It was light on the detective work and a little more heavy on the slow motion and action, but it was a fun romp. All I wanted out of the sequel was more of the same, but what I got was an over the top version of the first one with even less heart and brain. I’m not going to lie, I enjoyed it as a popcorn action flick, but when I see that “Sherlock Holmes” name on the title I kind of expect more than just that.
7. Cowboys & Aliens - 6/10
Another film that I still found enjoyment in as a popcorn flick, but considering the pedigree of the people involved one would expect the next great summer blockbuster. Directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man), executive produced by Steven Spielberg, produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, and starring a plethora of the biggest names in Hollywood including Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wilde, etc. Those filmmakers with that cast should have created something incredible, instead we got a lukewarm film that is totally forgettable.
6. Cars 2 - 5/10
It’s Pixar… these guys have never made a bad movie. Cars was easily their worst film, but it was still enjoyable. When they said they were making a sequel to Cars though, I started hearing those sirens go off in head that screamed “CASH GRAB!” I knew that Disney made billions off the toy licensing of Cars and making a sequel would be a good excuse to make even MORE. I had faith in Pixar though because they wouldn’t just make a movie to make money, but maybe I was wrong. After the first 10 minutes of this movie and the opening action set piece I thought “Fuck the critics! This is going to be awesome!”, but then everything else hapened. Whoever thought it was a good idea to make Mater the main character really needs to have their fucking head cut off. This movie would have been bearable had he not been in it. Pixar’s next film Brave looks worlds better than Cars 2, so hopefully they’ll be back on the ball this year because Dreamworks Animation has been kicking their asses lately with the Kung Fu Panda series and How to Train Your Dragon. As David Chen from the /Filmcast put it: “2011 was the year we saw a Brett Ratner film reviewed better than the Pixar film,” and that is a fucking shame.
5. Pirates 4 - 4/10
Fuck everyone involved in this fucking movie. I thought that now that they didn’t have to worry about multiple plotlines and wrapping up everyone’s story that we could finally get a Pirates of the Caribbean movie on par with The Curse of the Black Pearl. Clearly I was wrong. This is one of the most lifeless movies I have ever seen in my life. The most I can say for this movie is that I didn’t fall asleep and the mermaid sequence was cool, but that’s about it. Whoever decided that Captain Jack should be THE main character should kill themselves (he was always a brilliant diversion from the Will/Elizabeth plotline). Whoever decided that having Penelope Cruz on board should be beaten down. Whoever cast the bad ass motherfucker that is Ian McShane and then decided to not have him do anything needs to be savagely eaten by panthers. As my friend once said, “Rob Marshall can eat a fat one,” FUCK THAT GUY. Also, Sam Claflin, I really hope you’re in like 10 minutes of Snow White and the Huntsman because you really fucking suck. FUCK THIS MOVIE!
4. Green Lantern - 4/10
It takes a lot for me to get bored during a movie, but I was bored as hell during Green Lantern. I checked my watch about a dozen times during this movie and couldn’t believe how brutally slow it was going. One cool action set piece does not redeem your entire movie of crap. Martin Campbell… what the fuck, man? The cast is talented but entirely miscast; in what world does Ryan Reynold, Blake Lively, and Peter Sarsgaard (who all look about a decade older than another) grow up together!? One of the most uninspired films I’ve seen in a long time.
3. In Time - 6/10
I enjoyed In Time somewhat, but I can’t help but be disappointed because Andrew Niccol wrote The Truman Show which is one of my favorite movies ever. I guess I shouldn’t be as disappointed as I was because I thought Lord of War was all right and that was also written/directed by Niccol, but the concept of this film was so cool! I was so disappointed at how little he got out of this premise, hopefully someone remakes it in a few decades.
2. Warrior - 6.5/10
Probably the best movie in this entire bunch, but the reason it’s so high on this list is because I expected an AMAZING movie. Critics unabashedly LOVED this movie and I had heard things like “Warrior does for MMA what Rocky did for boxing,” THAT is the level I expected this film to get to and I don’t think it ever got there. The performances from the main three actors were phenomenal, but everything else about this movie felt so trite and tired. They were just laying on the cliches and stereotypes so thick that I couldn’t buy it. Also, I have no idea what the people who are praising the fights in this film are talking about because I thought the fight choreography was horrendous. Shake the cam as much as you can and cut to so many different angles that you can’t even tell who just got thrown down or who’s winning! Do it over and over again! NOW! Not to mention the fact that the fights for each brother are EXACTLY the same! They might as well have shown us the EXACT SAME fight on replay leading up the championship. The only thing this movie had going for it was not knowing which brother would win but after seeing each fight end in EXACTLY the same way, the movie shows its hand and removes that element.
1. Battle: Los Angeles - 3/10
An amalgamation of the worst that Hollywood has to offer. I can imagine the conversations that took place before this film was greenlighted by the studio a few years back. “What do people want to see? Well District 9 just did really well, we could make it about aliens. Yeah! We’ll make a sci-fi action flick where aliens invade. Okay, what about the story? We’ll throw in one for everybody! The sergeant who comes back for ONE last job! The young upstart who thinks he’s prepared to be a leader but finds that in the heat of the moment he’s not! Bonus point, he has a pregnant wife as well! The guy who’s about to be married! The virgin guy! The guy who messed up on the last mission and has to redeem himself!” The trailer for this film was SO GOOD, but the movie ended being such a colossal waste of time.
Here’s to better films in 2012 (hopefully).
And this is when I said “AWWWWW HERE IT GOES!”
So yet another Pirates of the Caribbean movie is upon us. I’m familiar with the series as a whole, for the most part. The first Pirates of the Caribbean is still a fun action adventure romp, the two sequels? Kind of fun, but overall too long, nonsensical plots and subplots, and wholly unnecessary. So needless to say, I had my doubts coming into Pirates 4.
There were some positives that made me interested such as Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, obviously, it is one of his most iconic roles after all. Also, Ian McShane as Blackbeard is AMAZING casting, love that guy. Also, they switched up directors and brought in Rob Marshall (Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha) and while he hasn’t really done an action adventure film before, it’s always interesting to see directors step into new genres. Plus, the fact that they wrapped up the original trilogy meant they could focus on a single storyline this time around and keep it coherent.
Downsides for me include Penelope Cruz, who I will admit I have a personal vendetta against for winning that Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 2008 for Vicky Christina Barcelona over Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Viola Davis (Doubt), Amy Adams (Doubt), and Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler), ESPECIALLY since Cruz wasn’t even the best female supporting lead in that movie (my girl Rebecca Hall put in a WAY better performance!). Also, I can’t stress this enough, it’s ANOTHER Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Obviously Disney wanted to milk this cash cow because every Pirates movie has brought in nearly a billion dollars at the box office alone.
All right then, enough with the preliminaries, Pirates 4 was… okay, I guess… just… okay. I think what upsets me the most about that is that my expectations for the film were hampered quite a bit when I saw the critical reception (36% on RottenTomatoes) and I wasn’t really expecting much and it still couldn’t meet my low level of expectations. That’s disappointing to say the least.
Let’s start with what I liked, first off, Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow is always a joy to watch and it’s no different even as we are at a third Pirates sequel. Depp is a great actor, but he just embodies Captain Jack Sparrow and enters a zone where everything he does as Jack is just fantastic.
The other characters I dug included returnees Geoffrey Rush as Barbosa and Kevin McNally as Joshamee Gibbs and newcomer Ian McShane as Blackbeard. I love the chemistry between these characters and Jack Sparrow, their banter and bickering was probably the most amusing and entertaining parts of the film. Ian McShane as Blackbeard in particular is just inspired casting. Absolutely loved Ian McShane as a ruthless pirate who just doesn’t give a fuck. My only complaint is that they should’ve used McShane more because now that I think about it, I think Blackbeard only killed like one guy during the entire movie which is pretty stupid. Also, just in continuity of the Pirates mythos, what was Blackbeard doing when the world was about to end in the first three Pirates movies? Was he chilling on a beach? Was he on vacation? You’d think Blackbeard of all pirates would want to get into a scrap with Davy Jones, Barbosa, Captain Jack, and the like lol.
Okay, let’s get to the abundance of problems that brought down the whole experience for me. I think the biggest was the action scenes, what happened? When I left that movie, I was thinking and I realized “I can’t remember a single significant action set piece that was memorable”. You go into a Pirates movie expecting some swashbuckling action and this movie barely had any and none of them were in any way distinguishable or as memorable as anything in the first three movies.
Further adding to the problems of the movie, Pirates 4 is the king of convenient plot points and really stupid characters whose motivations are poorly explained, despite the fact that a lot of the movie is bogged down with useless exposition scenes. There’s a lot of examples but I’m not going to spoil them for people who haven’t seen the movie. If you see the film you’ll see for yourself and think “why was that necessary?”
The pointless subplots really took the film down a couple notches. On RottenTomatoes the consensus says that this is a “leaner” Pirates movie, but clocking in at 141 minutes, it really isn’t. While the pacing was okay and I never got that bored watching the movie, there is a lot they could have cut out to make this a much more streamlined and faster paced action movie.
I also like (sarcasm) how the movie thought it was a lot more clever than it was and tried to have certain “reveals” which were shocking or whatever. I will say that I nearly laughed out loud at some of the audience gasping at certain plot developments which the movie clearly pointed out was going to happen or you knew as going to happen thanks to seeing the trailer. I mean give me a break here lol.
Sad to say, this movie just wasn’t nearly as much fun as the other movies. Call me crazy, but I actually missed Orlando Bloom’s Will and Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth in this film. People say those characters were annoying, but at least they had clear motivations driving them forward and were potential foils to our hero Jack Sparrow. Penelope Cruz is just useless, there’s nothing to her character that’s intriguing in the same way as Will and Elizabeth. There’s a romance in this movie, you’ll know it when you see it, that is completely pointless and there’s nothing on screen that makes you believe the romance. It’s like they threw a romance on screen just because they didn’t have Will and Elizabeth this time around. The side characters in Pirates 4 are not nearly as funny or entertaining as the side characters in the first three movies either.
I suppose if you go into Pirates 4 with low expectations and just look for a fun summer popcorn flick, you might have more fun than I did at the theaters. Although I have to say that I came in with significantly lower expectations and still didn’t have those met, so I don’t know… If you’re looking for an enjoyable movie, I’d still recommend Fast Five for action junkies and if you like character development to go with your action, go see Thor. I just can’t wholeheartedly recommend this movie unfortunately. If you’re a fan of the Pirates series, you’re going to see this movie regardless of what I say, just don’t expect anything great.
Okay, I’m about to go on a random tangent to end this review. I will say that a lot of people might have a lot more fun watching Pirates 4 than I did. The reason I say this is because I just listened to a /Filmcast episode recently where co-host Devindra Hardawar said of film geeks, “we are nitpicky motherfuckers, we watch movies very differently than a lot of other people do”. That’s not to say that I’m on a throne while the plebians and philistines will enjoy this movie, but that when I watch a movie I go in expecting different things. Anyways, the whole point of me writing reviews is to share my thoughts on the film, hopefully someone will find what I have to say interesting. I like to write because I love film, plain and simple. I will never apologize for my opinion on a movie, because that’s just how I feel. The way I feel is, if you disagree with me, let’s have a civilized conversation about it. If people who wrote about movies wrote from the perspective of “would the average movie goer like this?” then what purpose would film criticism serve?
Looks like it could be fun. Kind of keeping my hopes tempered because of how “meh” the two Pirates sequels were. Maybe Rob Marshall and some of the new cast can breathe some life into this franchise. Ian McShane as Blackbeard FTMFW though!