Obviously, there were worse films made this year. I saw an average of a film a week in 2012, but there are still hundreds of films that came out in theaters or straight to streaming I didn’t see. I had good reasons to avoid most of these films. “The Devil Inside” has a 7% rating at Rottentomatoes.com and there were news stories at the time it came out about angry audiences throwing things at the conclusion of the film, so it seemed safe to skip and not worry about it showing up on end of the year critic’s lists as the an overlooked classic. Since I try to avoid Katy Perry music videos, I deemed it prudent to not invest in the feature length video, “Katy Perry: Part of Me 3-D”. Of something like “The Guilt Trip”, which features Barbara Streisand as Seth Rogan’s mother I will not see because it features Barbara Streisand as Seth Rogan’s mother.
But these films, for some demented reason, I had hope for. (Except, perhaps, for #4 which I didn’t see by choose.) I also only include films I watched all the way through. You could say that makes “Lola Versus”, a self-indulgent indie comedy, and “Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie”, an extremely vulgar indie comedy were worse because I only made it a third of the way through either. But perhaps they became utter genius after I turned them off. So here’s the five that in some way crushed my hopes for entertainment and enlightenment.
5) “Rampart” – This drama about a corrupt LA cop was written in part by James Ellroy author of some of my favorite mystery ficion (“L. A. Confidential”, “The Black Dahlia”.) Woody Harrelson stars, which can be a good thing (say, “Zombieland”) or a bad thing (say, “Edtv”); this time it was a bad thing. Self-indulgent drivel wherein the racist, thieving, drug addicted, alcoholic cop tries to make all of O.J.’s defense team fantasies come true.
4) “Little Brother, Big Trouble: A Christmas Adventure” – This Finnish direct to DVD holiday “treat” I saw at a church baby-sitting event. It is a sequel to 2008’s “The Flight Before Christmas” which I did not see. I’m not sad about this. Niko the reindeer has divorced reindeer parents, and for some reason when she brings home a new reindeer father and a new reindeer little brother, he doesn’t accept them immediately as family. Which the film seems to tell us is a jerk move. Oh, and there’s a eagle that has teamed with a pack of wolves that want revenge on Niko for something that happened in the first film. “Brady Bunch” did better at blended family moral lessons.
3) “The Woman in Black” – So, Harry Potter lost a kid and so now he’s not doing his 19th century lawyering job well because he lost a kid and is all ill-shaven. So his boss sends him out in the country to deal with a legal situation which is actually a ghost situation. The ghosts aren’t nice. Everybody makes stupid horror movie choices. Twist ending. Boring.
2) “Act of Valor” - I loved the idea of using an elite team of Navy seals to play navy seals. But as actors, the Navy Seals make not great Navy Seals. The story isn’t difficult to follow, but I found it difficult to bother. At least if there are any military secrets in the film, it seems unlikely that our enemies will stay awake long enough in the film to learn them.
1) “Dark Shadows” – Tim Burton and Jonny Depp must be stopped. They both have done wonderful things in the past, but now it seems that they just get together to do garbage. Burton needs a strong screenplay, not here. Depp seems to need good direction, not here. Now, I loved “Dark Shadows” the soap opera as a kid. I’ve watched it since, and it’s pretty dull. But it at least made sense. This is the kind of fantasy that has rules of magic that seem to change by the moment. And we are expected to cheer for vampire Barnabas Collins (Depp), though he commits several acts of mass murder just to quench his thirst, because he lost his love and is cursed and all. A sequel would be the most frightening curse of all.