ReelThoughts: November 24, 2012

"Rise of the Turkeys, 2012 Edition"

Commentary by James Berardinelli


In the United States, it's a ritual: the fourth Thursday of November is a holiday devoted to the admirable pursuit of gluttony. Somewhere in there, turkey is typically consumed, but not nearly as much as was prepared. This leads to a weekend of turkey sandwiches, turkey soup, and turkey casseroles. In the spirit of the holiday, I shifted my annual list of movie turkeys to Thanksgiving weekend a number of years ago. It's not necessarily fun to sift through all the year's dross to come up with a short list of golden turds, but I have completed the dirty work and this represents the result.

As always with my "Bottom 10" lists, there are qualifiers. First and foremost, I don't pretend these are the *worst* movies of 2012. There are a lot of worthy qualifiers that I skipped (either intentionally or unintentionally). I don't use this list to make statements. Thus, while I dislike movies depicting vampires that sparkle, you won't find any such films on this list because I didn't find them to be bad enough.

For reasons that would probably only make sense to me, this year's Bottom 10 includes 9 titles. They are presented alphabetically (not ranked) with one notable exception. Click through the links if you want to re-live the agony of these atrocities, although my brief comments here may be enough to trigger a bad trip or two. Enough blabbering. Here they are:

The Babymakers: The more I think about this, the more I believe I overrated it. In retrospect, I can't think of one redeeming quality to be found in The Babymakers. Hell, we didn't even get to see Olivia Munn's breasts (although Steven Soderbergh was kind enough to throw them in during the opening moments of Magic Mike).

Battleship: This movie desperately wants to be directed by Michael Bay. Based loosely on a board game that I owned as a kid, the film not only lacks Bay's pyrotechnic mastery, but other elements we have come to expect from his cinematic endeavors: the narrative complexity, the subtle and revealing character development, and the thematic depth. (Okay, Mike, where's the check?) Battleship makes one yearn for the day when board game movie adaptations were taken seriously. Like Clue.

Cosmopolis: Robert Pattinson managed to make it onto the list without the aid of a Twilight film. What Pattinson was thinking of agreeing to appear in this movie boggles the mind. Even more of a conundrum is what David Cronenberg thought he was making. Cronenberg often crosses the line into "weird." Here he goes a step farther into "incomprehensible." I spent $17 on parking to see this movie; I want my money back.

The Cold Light of Day: Bruce Willis was given prominent billing in this thriller that few people heard about and even fewer saw. And, while it's true that Willis is in the movie, if you arrived a little late, you may have missed him because his character doesn't make it past the first reel. When Willis departs, that's the time to leave because the film subsequently enters a lingering, painful death spiral that takes about 90 minutes to complete. Oh, Sigourney Weaver is in this too. For that, her agent has some 'splaining to do.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance: In 2012, Spider-Man was rebooted. The Avengers finally got beyond the endless prequel stage and made it to the screen as a team. The Dark Knight rose and flew off into the sunset ending Christopher Nolan's involvement in live-action comic books. And Ghost Rider came back with a sequel that, against all odds, was worse than the original. Nicolas Cage continues his quest to become the first Best Actor winner to receive a request from the Academy to give back the statue.

Paranormal Activity 4: If there was ever a reason to be cynical about modern horror movies, this is it. Like its immediate two predecessors, this is a soulless cash grab. Even self-identified "Paranormalites" seem to have soured on this installment. When fan reviews are tepid, you know there's a problem.

To Rome with Love: When this film was released, serious cinema lovers, most of whom adore Woody Allen, used euphemisms to express their disappointment: "not up to Allen's usual high standard", "a step down from Midnight in Paris", "lacking in some of the qualities evident in Allen's best efforts", etc. What they're all avoiding saying is the blunt truth: that To Rome with Love is shit. It's easily one of Allen's two or three worst directorial endeavors and worthy of being placed in the company of the latest Nicolas Cage implosion and a Hasbro game-cum-failed spectacle. Better luck next year, Woody.

The Vow: I can't get over the fact that Nicolas Sparks wasn't involved with this production. It feels so much like the kind of pseudo-romantic crap he foists on readers and movie-goers alike. It's depressing that his stuff is so popular that others are now copying it. The Vow performed admirably at the box office, so a sequel is probably in the works. Maybe Nicolas Cage will star opposite Katherine Heigl.

And now the one that stands above the rest, a towering feat of cinematic ineptitude and viewer pain. My least favorite/most hated film of 2012...

Bachelorette: After posting a scathing review of Bachelorette, I discovered to my surprise that there are people who claim to like this film. I tried to locate one of those people in real life but was utterly unsuccessful (in large part because it was difficult to find anyone who had seen Bachelorette and even more difficult to track down someone who hadn't experienced irreparable brain damage as a result of watching it). Therefore, I must conclude that the so-called defenders of Bachelorette are Internet trolls. Seems reasonable; this is the kind of despicable movie only a troll could appreciate.

Now it's about time I get around to writing something about Episode Seven...


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