Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Reel Best & Worst Films of 2011, Part 1

Starting from the bottom-up…

2011 was a better year than 2010 from a standpoint of quantity; a year ago this time, putting together a list of the Top Ten Worst was a difficult task as there were many choices to mull over. This time around this Blogger could only find nine films worthy of being drubbed for their many faults. To be clear, this Blogger was sober enough to avoid critically-panned turds such as JACK & JILL, NEW YEAR’S EVE, THE THING, and THE THREE MUSKETEERS. The films listed here are the ones that had the potential to be decent, if not good; falling short of expectations is a major factor when judging, along with their own merits, if any.

So let’s take out the garbage…

Not meeting expectations is a big reason why Clint Eastwood’s J. EDGAR makes the Worst List. His biopic on J. Edgar Hoover may have featured some stellar acting by Leonardo DiCaprio, but Eastwood’s directing was bland and dull; leading to a very joyless affair that was un-interesting and snooze-inducing. Throw in some of the worst old-age make-up ever seen, and what you’ve got here is a failure to do anything right; no matter how high or low the expectations may have been.

Falling short again is Guy Ritchie in his second attempt at bringing Sherlock Holmes to life. His GAME OF SHADOWS film often flirted with greatness, only to prematurely pull out and shoot mindless video-game-like action sequences everywhere that were devoid of life. Entertaining, yes; but also empty with loud noises in place of plot and one too many naked fat guys for cheap laughs.

Years ago, Disney had a policy of never making a sequel unless they had a very good story to tell. That rule has gone out the window as of late, as the Mouse House now covets dollars more than standards. The result was the bland CARS 2 and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES. Neither film carried a story anyone could give a hoot about, with the 4th entry in the PIRATES franchise suffering the most. Johnny Depp’s once Oscar-nominated character of (captain) Jack Sparrow was reduced to a parody of itself, surrounded by cheap-ass set pieces that looked like leftovers from a high school stage production. Throw in some boring action and a waste of a villain, and you’ve got a sinking ship.

Remakes and adaptations round out the Top (bottom) Five. Beginning with CONAN THE BARBARIAN, it is not clear if this was intended to be a remake of the 1982 film, or an adaptation of the novels or both; either way it didn’t matter as the film didn’t have anything in there to latch onto or care about, offering a rushed, paper-thin plot and looking a lot like a B or C-movie put together by the SyFy Channel.

The fantasy-spoof YOUR HIGHNESS might have been an original movie, but wound up being so bad one would wish they did try to remake something. HIGHNESS had a few neat ideas and often tried to pull a few Mel Brooks-esque gags, but unfortunately everything gave way to Danny McBride’s fart and dick jokes; not even Natalie Portman in her glorious thong could save this one. The same must be said of THE GREEN HORNET adaptation, which had a few moments of fun but also became just a vehicle for Seth Rogen and his (sigh) fart and dick jokes.

THE GREEN LANTERN may have been very ambitious, and looked like they had the perfect Hal Jordan cast in Ryan Reynolds. However, the film displayed no logic and less substance than the many LANTERN cartoons that have been produced over the years. It was wrought with awful dialogue, CGI-overloaded action and overall felt disjointed. If DC Comics ever wants to compete with Marvel for real in the movie business, they have to take things more seriously than this joke of a movie.

The Worst of 2011 not only falls dreadfully short of expectations, but fails miserably as a movie. Johnny Depp’s second venture into Hunter S. Thompson territory peaked a lot of interest from a lot of people, however THE RUM DIARY wound up being so abysmal the studio shelved the bloody thing for three years before finally releasing it to an unsuspecting public. The film had no plot to speak of, no theme, and had acting so cartoonishly ridiculous it made Fozzie Bear look like Sir Laurence Olivier. Many of these faults may have been able to earn forgiveness had the film put together a decent ending, however THE RUM DIARY wrapped with one of the lamest, cop-out conclusions this Blogger can ever remember; it offered zero closure and made the entire ride feel like a waste of time, a waste of talent, and an overall wasted opportunity. Fuck this movie forever.


8. CARS 2

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