I usually do one of these lists as a companion piece to my Top 15. Of course, one wonders why there are only 10 entries in the “Worst” list while there are 15 in the “Best”. The reason for this has to do with where I got the idea to do lists in the first place. Back in 2005, I saw my first such lists on CHUD and have followed them ever since, both in the reading and in the emulation including arbitrary rules like how many films to include in a given list.

Anyway, I am usually really good at avoiding those films that are obviously going to be terrible. I also tend to focus on those films I see which are hyped up and end up being terrible or are just lazy plotless nonsense with ridiculous VFX budgets. This year, there are plenty of both categories including some really sore disappointments as well as a few that are obvious.

On to the list

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10. Daybreakers

Not really an altogether terrible film, Daybreakers is nonetheless a colossal disappointment. From the good cast doing some weird work (Willem Dafoe, wtf were you thinking?) to bizarre bat screeches that punctuate pretty well every fucking scene, there was simply a lot of stuff thrown together here that contributes to a pretty severe case of B-movie punching above its weight-class. There is some good gore here and interesting concepts mixed together with references to everything from Blade 2 to Nosferatu. Mostly though, I’m putting it here because they made sunlight the cure for vampirism. I mean, what the fuck?

 

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9. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole

Now really, I should never have even seen this movie because I knew it was going to be shit. Owls? Really? I did see it, in the end, because my daughter wanted to see it. And even she was bored. I wish I could say it was the stupid story, the overuse (again) of Campbellian tropes, or that the owls talked about their gizzards on a seemingly endless loop. Those are the reasons I was bored. Of course, I liked the crazy VFX and the sweet-ass owl fights but who wouldn’t? Other than that we’re talking about an utterly earnest and sentimental tale of the power of belief. Soren, the owl who comes off as a bit Forrest Gump-y most of the time, is the most earnest character in the history of precocious youngsters in the wide, wide world (of owls). All of that said, Legend of the Guardians is kind of a dark movie but relies on lazy storytelling techniques including nazi owls, the aforementioned Hero’s Journey bullshit, etc. Avoid unless you like gizzards and/or seeing owls out-fly the ocean.

8. From Paris With Love 

It was nice to see John Travolta’s body double doing an action movie again. If you’ve seen the trailers, you’ve pretty much seen the movie. It’s pretty much awful looking, same old odd couple shit with a fat, bald super-spy (who looks FABULOUS in a fashionable scarf) and an annoyingly straight-laced young “agent” who just wants some action, dammit. Of course, he could be getting it from his fantastically hot significant other but noooo, the job is TOO IMPORTANT. Really, the best part of this movie isn’t even the trailer. I almost hesitate to put it on this list but it’s so overt with its ultimate statement that I can’t help but feel it is awful (even if slightly in the so-bad-it’s-good camp) and deserves your scorn. Basically, what I’m tip-toeing around, is that this is really about the forbidden love between two unlikely men and how one tries to remove obstacles (and inhibitions) while the other desperately clings to his “real life”. Don’t believe me? Watch as the film systematically brings these two weirdos together while denouncing the feminine. Not only does junior’s fiancee or whatever turn out to be an EVIL DOUBLE-AGENT, it turns out that she is happily dispatched in spite of an impassioned speech by her misguided lover. After this, the two Bourne-by-way-of-Bruno fellows are free to express their love. If From Paris With Love had been allowed to be earnest about its gay subtext, it would not be one of the worst movies of the year. Because this flowering, beautiful subtext is stilted by the demands of a North American audience, it is a eunuch of a movie with boring action, boring “comedy”, but a touching story of manly love buried deep beneath.

7. Skyline

You have no doubt read my review and know what I think of this steaming pile. That it is not the worst movie of the year is proof that there were many awful movies. I was drawn in by the pretty trailers and the presence of Eric Balfour who looks like a dick with ears and cute facial hair but is nonetheless in my wheelhouse of guys to watch thanks to Six Feet Under. Anyway, it turns out that this is one of the most unabashedly derivative movies anyone has ever seen ever. It is like Bollywood but without the ridiculously crazy and sometimes worthwhile musical numbers. Of course, for the prepubescent in the audience, it has Jarrod-bot (Balfour as alien!) smashing shit and rescuing his belle at the end. But before that, you have to sit through over an hour of mindless cliches, terrible dialogue, and the occasional nice effect or ballsy move (still like the nuclear bombing of L.A. and for many reasons).

 

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6. Alice in Wonderland

I didn’t out and out hate this one. Yeah it’s got the same old stupid shit Burton has been pulling for what seems like always. Fortunately, there are some small glimmers of the old genius especially to be found in Glover’s and Bonham-Carter’s performances. You also kind of have to dig Anne Hathaway as the White Queen. Other than that, we again have the Campbellian stuff that Hollywood screenwrites rely on like it’s the only way to tell a story. I mean fuck, is this the legacy Star Wars has left us (yes, it is, goddammit). I am so tired of these “hero’s journey” stories that are always so paper-thin that you can literally see the monomyth dancing behind the same old fucking characters and villains you’ve seen a million times in half as many guises. The battle sequence at the end is the only part of this shit that’s wortwhile, though Alan Rickman is awesome as the disgusting druggy caterpillar. I don’t even want to talk about Johnny Depp pulling a hatter from his usual bag. I mean jesus, dude. What happened to you?

5. Legion

This one was just fucking terrible. I liked the cast and I’m a sucker for Judeo-Christian mythology. At the best I was hoping for a cheesy, action-packed riff on Prophecy but what I got instead was some dumb shit about Michael being this big rebel against God who wants to kill EVERYONE unless some baby proves it was all WRONG. I mean, wtf is that about? Some pregnant hick girl is the key to saving humanity. I could believe it if this was Supernatural and we had actual characters to invest in. But we don’t. We have Bettany at his most boring and a bunch of nobodies led by fucking Dennis Quaid as they use AUTOMATIC WEAPONS to defend against angelic monsters. Oh right, because for whatever reason angels are basically like the monsters in Percy Jackson. Except for Gabriel who shows up and slices motherfuckers with his wings (which is the only good part in this abortion). Paul Bettany, why are you doing this to yourself? More importantly, why are you doing this to me? I still remember A Knight’s Tale and Master and Commander and even Gangster No. 1! Come back to me! No, don’t sign to another stupid Christian apocalyptic monster movie! But alas, it is too late.

4. Jonah Hex

People have commented on the terrorism angle before so I will spare few words for it. You should have already known this would be awful when Josh Brolin sports dynamite crossbows and horse-mounted gatling guns. I wouldn’t mind a second go at a Wild Wild West type movie but please don’t be worse than that shite. Too bad, you are. In fact, the only reason why something like this doesn’t set a guy like Brolin back a few years is because he also makes movies with the Coens and Oliver fucking Stone in the same year. And Malkovich is untouchable while we’ve pretty well come to expect this shit from Megan Fox. I weep for Michael Fassbender who is a big deal to people like me and should be to everyone else, but at least he was kind of entertaining here. Maybe they all thought they were going to be in a good movie? Tom Jane should have gotten to make this with Neveldine and Taylor, or at the very least keep those two geniuses instead of letting them go off to make Ghost Rider 2 (which will be awesome). Instead of some kind of goodness that remains trueish to the spirit and character of the comic, we get an 80-minute crime against humanity. There are literally dragonballs in this movie. I should have known though, this is a Fox movie.

3. Clash of the Titans

I habitually watched the trailer for this. I hoped this would be the film that brought Sam Worthington the cred I am still waiting to see if he deserves. With the cast (Mads Mikkelson, ZOMG), production, and basic can’t lose story, this should have been a homerun. Instead, they decided to post-convert which is responsible for a lot of the backlash. Aside from this they couldn’t be damned to include a decent story, likable or memorable characters, consistent characterization (one minute Perseus loves him some Gods and the next minute NO, BAD GODS, I DON’T WANT… and this happens many times in the movie). There’s also the inclusion of a new random love interest to replace the classic princess angle. Did they think this was a good idea? What about the mysterious djinn, one of whom randomly decides he likes the cut of Worthington’s jib. I liked that they tried to make it a “men on a mission” film but they really should have stuck with that and focused on the characters. Instead, we have them running around the ancient world at whatever speed the plot demands, destroying any sense of the temporal or spatial we should have had in a well-crafted fantasy world. Even though this movie was a terrible and messy disappointment, at least there were giant scorpions to make badass shields out of.

 

2. The Last Airbender

The greatest crime perpetrated by the existence of this movie is not that it exists at all or that it fucked up its source material so bad it needed a shelter afterward. The greatest crime is that this is the live action adaptation of an almost paradoxically good animated series we got, and the one we’re stuck with for the foreseeable future. There will be no sequels to at least finish the shitty mess, and we might be thankful for that like we were a few years ago with the shite adaptation of The Golden Compass. Of course, those fans of both properties will go on waiting for a decent, thoughtful, and most important RESPECTFUL adaptation. The most stunning problem with The Last Airbender is that it’s a joyless exercise, eschewing the charm and dynamic that worked so well for the cartoon in favor of a page (or 600) from Peter Jackson’s self-indulgent playbook. Shymalan had all the materials with which to build a decent adaptation, a difficult task for a 20+ episode season of 20+ minute episodes, but very much one that could be accomplished without amputating so much of what made Avatar: The Last Airbender so special. Fuck this movie and fuck Shymalan.

1. Let Me In

My review, which is one of the most thorough I have written, will tell you everything you need to know about why I so despise this film. I’m sure Matt Reeves had honorable intentions but not only is Let Me In completely redundant, it is also insultingly obvious and manipulative. A pared down, overblown version of a fucking masterpiece is what Let Me In turned out to be. This makes it the worst film of the year. Yes, worse even than The Last Airbender. Trying to defend this after seeing the original, as many have tried, is a laughable revocation of critical credibility. Don’t do it.

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anyways…

Another year has ended, and many movies were excellent where these weren’t. Thankfully for me, I didn’t see shit like Yogi the Bear or Grown Ups. I keep trying to not extend this list every year and I keep very closely missing it. Next year I hope all those colorful comic book adaptations don’t wind up on this list. We’ll see!

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