TrashTrophyA little more than a week ago I announced my selections for the ‘Best of 2012‘. But for as many great films that came out last year, there were still many large stinkers lurking around every corner

As was the case with my other list, this one is made up of only movies that I saw in 2012 – which does not include duds such as Battleship or Alex Cross. Also it is worth noting that films that received re-releases in terrible 3D (coughcough) were removed from contention, as they were previously released at an earlier time.

Just a friendly reminder that this list is simply for fun and is only my opinion, not that of and I whole-heartedly encourage you to leave your thoughts and comments in our lovely comment section below. With all that out of the way it is time to take a deep breath, plug your nose and prepare yourself to remember some of the worst 2012 had to offer:


 #10 – The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games

Immediately out of the gate I am certain I lost readers, but hear me out. To be fair to the books I have never read them and I am judging only the movie, which is the adaptation of the first book in Suzanne Collins‘ popular young adult novel series. After months and months of anticipation, this film drew an insane amount of hype for what turned out to be a bland rip-off of the far superior Battle Royale with a Twilight-esque love triangle slapped in for good measure. Some of the performances were pretty good (Woody Harrelson instantly comes to mind), and Jennifer Lawrence is a decent lead (even considering her competition in the genre), but there is only so much one can do on their own to save a film that features Lenny Kravitz in a supporting role.

However, what really dooms the film is director Gary Ross‘ awful shot selection. It almost seems like they forgot tripods existed for half the film as many scenes – including those with zero action – as everything tends to bob and weave like a drunken boxer without any rhyme or reason. And then within the actual action sequences things actually manage to get worse as you are barely able to make out anything that is happening on-screen. Some will argue that it is because these sections are from Katniss’ perspective and everything is blurred because it is so chaotic but I think there are two other, better theories to why these shots are so awful. One – These scenes are truly from Katniss’ perspective but she is nearsighted, which makes her actions in this movie even more super-heroic. Or the even more likely theory number two – If the filmmakers did clearly show the carnage of the Hunger Games – y’know, where kids kill each other as “tribute” – the film would have gotten a less lucrative R rating. As a result, this waters the film down into a very bland teen-centric thriller without any real teeth. Hopefully things can turn around now that Francis Lawrence has been tapped to directed the series. Time will tell.

 #9 – Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax

Dr Suess The Lorax

Over the years, many have tried and failed to effectively adapt the beloved children’s author’s work into a quality feature-length film. Sadly, The Lorax joins those ranks, although it fares better than many of its predecessors. It is no where near The Cat in the Hat-level bad, thankfully, but it still really misses the mark on what made the source material so great. One of the more puzzling issues with the film is the cast chosen to voice the characters as it seems that they went more for identifiable names (like pop culture phenoms Betty White and Taylor Swift) over those who may have been better suited for the roles. The prime example is the titular Lorax himself. I have always imagined him as some one who is wise and eloquent with his words (The little guy speaks for the trees for crying out loud) – somebody like Kelsey Grammar. Instead, we get Danny DeVito, who admittedly does an alright job, but it makes the character feel more like a comedic car salesman rather than the diplomat for the environment.

With my absolute hatred for musical numbers notwithstanding, the songs featured in this film are downright awful. They feel forced, annoying and seem only to serve as filler to stretch out its run-time. Directors Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda should have taken the approach the Horton Hears a Who (so far the only adaptation that I enjoyed) and tried to avoid this tired kids film cliché as much as possible. Instead, it becomes tangled within these distractions and the overall flow of the film ends up suffering. Not even the beautiful and fun-looking design of the film can help overcome the sense of disappointment felt by film’s end.


  #8 – The Expendables 2


The first Expendables movie wasn’t exactly Shakespeare itself, but it still was a fun meatheaded experience that was an Avengers of sorts for the action movie crowd, and it worked. Expendables 2, on the other hand, manages to bring in some new big names and the same basic premise yet it wildly misses the mark. It almost feels a little too self-referential for its own good, beating us to death with overt nods to the cast’s previous work and obnoxiously nudging us saying “Didja see what we did?”. The most annoying instance comes in the form of the stupidest, most-tired meme on the internet – Chuck Norris. It was like your dad had his midlife crisis and thought that if  he started going to Reddit and talking in internet-speak it would make him cool again. But it just feels forced and awkward.

The biggest crime of the movie, however, is the exclusion of several characters from the first film – notably Jet Li and Mickey Rourke – so they could add in several new characters that aren’t as fun or interesting. The worst example of this is Li, who is written out if the film within the first ten minutes. Why even bother including him? Why not have him get blown up in some explosion or replace Liam Hemsowth‘s character? We will probably never know, but The Expendables 2 is a perfect example of taking something that was simple and not broken and trying to fix it, and having it ironically blowing up in their faces.


#7 – Safe House

Safe House

When you pair up two talented and handsome actors, it seems like you have an instant recipe for success. When those two actors are Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds, you really need to work hard to make said movie unlikable. Safe House apparently worked very hard. It manages to cancel out both actors’ performances with a dull, predictable conspiracy plot that prefers to use gunfire and explosions rather than suspense and dialogue to try and make things exciting.

But what really makes Safe House land on this list is because it is simply a waste of potential. It doesn’t need to be The Departed, but there were ample moments when the film could have played around more with the paranoia factor, letting Reynolds’ Weston be more manipulated and confused by Frost (Washington). Frost is supposed to this great rouge agent, and we see him play around with the younger agent’s mind a little, but why not try to do more of that? it just seems to boil down to the fact that it was meant to be nothing more than a generic action shoot-em-up: Loud and unexciting. To the point that it literally gave me a headache.


#6 – Resident Evil: Retribution

Resident Evil Retribution

I will be the first to admit that I am a fan of Paul W.S. Anderson‘s Resident Evil films. They are basically candy-coated, CGI-laden action films loosely based on the Capcom game franchise. And that is absolutely fine, they are fun to watch and I never don’t like watching the lovely Milla Jovovich kick some undead ass. Unfortunately, like the inciting incident of of the franchise, something went horribly wrong with Retribution and it fell way below the already low bar that was set by the previous installments.

The movie falls prey to its own muddled and ridiculous plot that involves clones of essentially every prominent player in the film series, as well as adds several new cast members that make the leap from game to film. Much like the problem with The Expendables 2, it results in a mess of extraneous characters and wasted talent/resources – namely Oded Fehr, who ends up mostly as nothing more than a background character. Worst of all, the movie just seems to be a throat-clearing for what appears to be the sixth and final installment, completely wasting the audiences’ time. If the next film does turn out to be Anderson’s swan song, he appears to be doing so at the right time, as it may be time to consider pulling the plug on the franchise.

 #5 – Savages


This was one of my most eagerly anticipated films of the summer that didn’t involve involve superheroes, it sported an outstanding cast that featured Benicio del Toro, Salma Hayek, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson and was directed by legendary filmmaker Oliver Stone. I was hooked immediately after seeing the exciting and visually stunning trailer, but when I went and saw the actual film, it quickly became the biggest disappointment of the year for me.

While some may be quick to blame the Taylor Kitsch curse for this failure, I’d point the blame solely on his fellow cast mate Blake Lively and her terrible performance. While her character O (short for Ophelia, but I won’t bore you with further details) is supposed to come off as whiny and spoiled, it immediately  gets annoying and she becomes the biggest turn-off of the film. Couple that with her unbearable voice-over narrations scattered throughout the film and it could potentially be my least favorite performance of the year as well. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if she was nothing more than a supporting character, but she is one of the main characters and the crux of the entire plot, which exacerbates things further. Her entire character makes you question why Chon (Kitsch) and Ben (Taylor-Johnson) would declare war on an entire cartel for her, let alone be in love with her. As a result, the film collapses under that weight, which is sad to see since I really did want to like it.

#4 – Red Tails

Red Tails 1

For over twenty years, George Lucas had tried desperately to get Red Tails, the true story of the Tuskegee Airmen who fought in World War II, made – finally succeeding in 2012 . But sadly the heartwarming underdog story stops there as Red Tails ends up being a dry and sanitary feeling film that does not effectively showcase the bravery and humanity of the servicemen exhibited in their attempts to not only combat the Nazis in the skies but the racism within their own military. It sounds like a powerful film on paper, but the film as a whole seems hesitant on tackling some of the more controversial issues and instead focuses on the individual pilots and their own issues.

The conscious effort to focus more on the human drama within the squad tends to take away from main conflict and ideas, making many of the characters feel uneven or like military stock characters. This is very sad, as these men’s stories need to be told and the cast itself is pretty strong but is wasted (Cuba Gooding Jr. seems only to show up to gnaw on a corn cob pipe occasionally and then leave) and it becomes a rather boring film. It is noble that Lucas and his gang at Lucasfilm wanted to make this movie, especially considering it is a little known story about the war, but it just cannot piece enough together to make a coherent and engaging film.


#3 – Branded


This was by far the most notable entry into the ‘WTF‘ category of my theatre-going experience in 2012, as Branded behaved like it was trying to take on the world and examine the influence of advertising within it. In the end, however, it came off more like an insane hobo holding a sign that read ‘COW LORD DEMANDS REFORM!’, which makes just as much sense as the actual narrative of the movie. When I went to see it for my review, I was the only person in the theatre, my only visitor being the employee who occasionally came in to check the exits. By the time that the movie had devolved into a bizarre monster movie featuring a pop can dragon fighting a gooey balloon clown monster, I could only helplessly shrug as he looked at me with a quizzical expression.

There is just so much going on in the film and it changes genres seemingly every fifteen minutes, it is really hard to keep track of what the hell is supposed to be going on. Some times the movie is fun and interesting, other times it is preachy and flat. Other times I think it may have just been trying to kill me with weirdness. The only reason it is only number three on this list (beyond the fact that the next two movies are that bad) is because Branded is at least able to topple end-over-end into the ‘So bad it is ridiculously funny’ category of films. That doesn’t mean you should actively seek it out, but if you and your friends are looking for for a comically bad movie to watch while getting really drunk, this may be your film. That or it may just fracture your mind from reality.


#2 – That’s My Boy

Thats My Boy

Yes. I got dragged to see this unholy abomination, and I still really hate myself for it. If anyone was curious to see how bad Adam Sandler‘s career has gotten since his heyday in the mid 90s/early 2000s, this is it. The movie is painfully unfunny and completely forced, trying so hard to make anyone laugh yet failing continuously failing miserably. It tries the old mainstays of lame fart jokes, potty humor and wacky voices before moving on to masturbation, sex with the elderly and even incest, desperately clawing at the audience, begging them “PLEASE TELL ME YOU THINK THIS IS FUNNY. C’MON, LAUGH DAMMIT!”. But it isn’t. Hell, it isn’t even offensive, it is just stupid and childish.

As much as he probably would deny it, Sandler is a far more capable actor and deserves to be in better movies than this. He is better than this movie and so is just about every other member of the cast – Andy Samberg, Susan Surandon, Milo Ventimiglia (aka Peter Petrelli from Heroes), all of them. Even Vanilla Ice is better than That’s My Boy. And that is what genuinely perplexes me about this movie: How did anybody read this script and think it was going to be any good? Regardless, this was by far one of the most unfunny comedies to come out in a long while and is probably even one of the worst movies in recent memory.


#1 – Snow White and the Huntsman

Snow White and the Huntsman

Despite how bad That’s My Boy was, at least it knew deep down that it was not meant to be taken seriously at all and, as much as it pains me to admit, at the end of the day it tried to do something off the beaten path. On the other hand, Snow White and the Huntsman was an incredibly stiff and miserable adaptation of the famous fairy tale that had little to no redeeming factors whatsoever. The more it tried to be a grim (no pun intended) and gritty re-imagining of the Snow White tale, the worse it became. The story plods along, ham-fistedly attempting to show how our heroine is basically the Keanu Reeves of the kingdom. But we already know this since Charlize Theron‘s evil queen does seem to be, well,  pretty damn evil. The action is boring, the dialogue s cringe-worthy and the dwarves – who are usually a fairly important part of the story – are rushed into the movie late in the second act. At that point you have to ask yourself why they even bothered including them, since they really do not contribute anything beyond that scene where Snow White learns kung fu  she can save the kingdom. You know a movie is horrible when the highlight of the entire film is when you go to the bathroom and on the way back you sneak into the showing of The Avengers for two minutes.

But aside from all the previously mentioned gripes, it is Kristen Stewart who truly kills this film with her portrayal of Snow White. While Theron and Chris Hemsworth at least try, Stewart seems complacent with just standing around like a cardboard cut out, not showing any emotion beyond confusion or boredom. Then, in the scene where she finally does manage to force out a smile, it looks as if she is about to sneeze. And of course they attempt to shoehorn in a completely unnecessary Twilight-style love triangle between her, the Huntsman and the Prince/Duke/not Chris Hemsworth for good measure. Because why not?  I understand wanting to make a grimdark Snow White movie, I really do, but it is important to also get an actress who can better emote and make the audience actually like her. Stewart was definitely not up to the challenge, and then her and the dull script took the rest of the movie down with them.

No other movie this year made me hate it as much for wasting my time, and that is why Snow White and the Huntsman earns the dubious honor of being the worst film of 2012 for me. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOGERSSSSSSS!

And that will conclude my look at the best and worst that film had to offer in 2012. Think I am dead wrong about something or feel like I omitted a film? Let me know in the comments section! I hope you enjoyed this list, and I look forward to seeing what 2013 has to offer!

About The Author

Kevin McDaniel graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2012 majoring in Film and Video Production with a minor in Writing. His thesis film, Gus Baranto, P.I. and the Case of the Missing Pudding, was also released that year to some bemused laughter and confused looks. Since graduating, he has worked on the feature film Sand Castles, due to hit out the festival circuit late next year. Ever since he was young, he has had a large interest in film - and thanks to a childhood fascination with Batman – the crime and film noir genres. His three primary influences as a filmmaker are Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, John Carpenter’s The Thing, and Saw, although his favorite film is Brick .

When not writing for DestroyTheCyborg, Kevin is usually either locked in his room playing video games or locked in his office working on various scripts, including The Party which is being co-developed with fellow DTC writers Mike Rapin and Chase Szymanski. If not indoors, he might be riding his bike or at a baseball game, depending on the weather. While not as avid a comic book reader as he once was, Kevin enjoys the various works of Steve Niles, Greg Rucka and Garth Ennis. Although if he had to choose a side, he would be a Marvel.

Outside of his geek culture, Kevin is a pretty normal guy despite having his birth constantly compared to the chest-burster scene from Alien. He is occasionally told that he looks like Ashton Kutcher, which mildly irritates him. Another fun fact about him is that he would one day like to learn how to swing dance. His celebrity crush is Michelle Trachtenberg and his favorite color is gray. This is also a great time to mention that he considers it really awkward writing about himself in the third person. He currently resides in the Cleveland, Ohio area with his hamster, Miranda.

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