Saturday, December 22, 2012

Top 5 Movie Guide: Films that Disappointed and/or Duped Us!

The latest edition of the Top 5 Movie Guide was organic in nature, but one that started with a coy joke towards a few of the titles opening this weekend - "Jack Reacher""This is 40", and "The Guilt Trip" - that spiraled into a category that doesn't actually much represent these titles at all. When we laid out the titles to brainstorm for a genre to go with, one of the writers quipped that we should pick 'films that look serviceable but that you really don't care about'. It really wasn't a category, and I think we all expected early on that we'd come up with something more significant that that. But we continued to run with the joke, and over time, it got more and more embellished - by this time, we were paying no more attention to the actual releases. At one point it became 'finely polished pieces of garbage', before ultimately settling in on something like 'studio films that were supposed to be big hits but completely missed/films with large hype that terribly disappointed'. And as we talked about some of the titles that would comprise such lists, it was decided that we wouldn't much mind getting some of our frustrations out and showcasing why these disappointed as much as they did. So what we kind of ended up with was Films That Disappointed and/or Duped Us. It's nothing official, but it gets the point across.


That being said, there was definitely plenty of passion and emotion for each of the titles selected below. This actually may be one of the most personal lists we've ever done, as we were not afraid to lash out towards some of the films that have taken us for fools or failed to deliver on what was expected of them.


So before diving in, keep in mind that we're not trying to point out any of the worst films of all-time (not saying any of these titles couldn't be on that list, but that wasn't the thought process here). We're simply pointing out films that have stood out to us over the years which have disappointed us in some way - whether it excessive hype that didn't pan out, build-up from a previous installment, or even just a big budget genre flick that seemed like fun but really just wanted our money.

Unlike every other week, we're technically not giving you films that we'd recommend watching - mainly the opposite, actually. Whatever reason for each of the disappointments though, these are all films that seemed promising in some regard, but ultimately failed on just about every level. Hit the jump to see which films we deemed more shameful than the rest!

Alex Schopp -
So many great terrible choices to choose from here. With no "true" parameters, I categorized this as best I could. I'm sure there are plenty of other films that would look great on this list, but these seem like acceptable selections for the most part.

     1. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

This title easily stands out from the rest to me because I can't even tell you how hyped I was leaving the theater after seeing this. Bryan Singer teased us with wonderful character building in the first two films, and when Brett Ratner took over to direct the final chapter, all he gave us was eye candy. At the time, I was awe-struck, because so many great characters were being presented and culminating to one epic climax. But, a few days later, I realized there was zero substance to the film and we'd all been duped!
     2. The Happening (2008)
I think maybe the problem is that after we saw "The Sixth Sense" we just assumed that every M. Night Shyamalan film was supposed to have an epic twist ending? I still had hope for the director at the time (and was a Mark Wahlberg fan), so I thought he might surprise us all and come back with an surprise hit! But alas, not a damn thing happened in the film. It's still far and away the worst film from Shyamalan's filmography.
     3. Planet of the Apes (2001)
Okay, Mark Wahlberg back in action again. Plus Tim Burton was at the helm, looking to put his signature dark stamp on the already-famous Planet of the Apes story. Coming off films like "Mars Attacks!" and "Sleepy Hollow", I wasn't yet prepared for Burton's drastic directorial decline that was on the horizon. I had hopes for this, but again, nothing happened! I watched the entire film and instantly knew that there was no substance here.
     4. I Am Legend (2007)
I was mostly interested in this because it was a rough adaptation of the classic film, "The Last Man on Earth" (1964), of which I am a big fan. I always loved the idea of being the last survivor amongst a hoard of zombie-vampires. I have no problems with Will Smith, but the CG in this film was inexcusable. Why they opted for full CG creatures, I have no idea, but I was never able to get into the story. To this day, I have absolutely zero interest in turning the film on again. This could have been so much greater.
     5. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008)
Most people won't have this on their list because they didn't much care for the previous two installments of the franchise. But I enjoyed them. They weren't amazing, but they were fun adventure tales. When this came out I somehow missed it in theaters, but did pay to rent it OnDemand as soon as it released. There are few new movies I've ever fallen asleep to; this is one of them. And I know some might discourage this selection because I never did watch the entire thing, but I feel like that's kind of the point here. I had some expectations for this one, but it was so terrible I couldn't even make it through.

Ben Foutch -
There are times in your life when you go into a film that looks like it will be great, only to realize that the filmmakers have deliberately taken your money and nestled their balls directly on your naive, defeated face. These are those films (and are not limited to them). Also, don't take this too seriously, as taste is subjective - things are about to get ugly.

     1. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

This ruined an otherwise good trilogy and was a slap in the face that many of us didn't realize until a second watch. Just thinking about it annoys me.
     2. Van Helsing (2004)*
I know what you're thinking: Stephen Sommers...you were seriously duped by Stephen Sommers? Well listen pal, I'm no stranger to cheesy horror films and have been known to enjoy plenty of films of questionable taste. And after having watched the equally atrocious Brendan Fraser fiasco, there was a tinge of hope that this could be a great guilty pleasure because of the old-school horror monsters and Sommers' uncanny ability to make any situation unintentionally bad. But the thing about this underwear stain is that it takes itself seriously. In what universe or state of mind am I either supposed to care for these characters or their motivations? Yes, it was unintentionally bad, but it was so mediocre and just plain terrible that it's a bad movie that you can't have fun with. Sort of like this year's "Resident Evil: Retribution", but I can honestly say that didn't dupe me after having seen...
     3. Resident Evil (2004)
Okay, to be fair, it has a certain visual flair and an enveloping setting. Also, I'm not afraid to admit that Anderson has some style. But here's the truth about this film series, which was evident after watching this desecration of survival horror: IT'S A GIMMICK! Trust me when I say that they love your money and not you. Let's stop giving it to 'em.
     4. The Village (2006)
Don't really want to kick a guy when he's down, so I'll just keep my mouth shut on this one.
     5. Godzilla (1998)
If you ever want to make a 13-year-old boy not care about a giant, mutated lizard-monster, then show him this.
*I just wanted to point out on #2, a friend of mine got in a car accident the next day after viewing this, leaving tiny glass shards to take up residence in his arm. Seriously, watch out for yourself...it's that bad!

Derek Clem -
I went with movies that, after I saw them, I thought they were great, but after a few days/weeks/months, began to realize they were total garbage. I think the titles on my list are so recent because even bad movies from my childhood have a nostalgia quality that keeps them good in my eyes.

     1. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

This realization hurt me the most. Beast is my all-time favorite superhero and I was finally getting to see him on the big screen. I walked out of the theater raving about the movie. Those subjective emotions toward Beast duped me into loving it. Once things settled a bit I realized X3 was total garbage. I was heartbroken that my favorite hero had his blue debut in such a crap movie.
     2. AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004)
Obviously this is going to be good. It's your favorite beings from outer space battling each other! NOPE! I was blinded by the epicness that is an Alien and Predator standing next to each other on the silver screen. Shortly after I realized my error.
     3. I Am Legend (2007)
I walked out of the theater thinking, 'Yeah! This movie has zombie vampire things in it! I love zombies and vampires! Therefore I love this movie!'. Man was I wrong. I honestly think I would dig this movie if the CGI wasn't such crap. They should've used real people in make-up.
     4. Van Helsing (2004)
This time around it was the CGI that duped me. I was blinded by how cool Mr. Hyde and the Dracula/Werewolf fight looked. I bought the movie once it hit DVD, watched it again and was like, 'Whoaaa, this movie sucks harder than vampires' (bad joke?).
     5. Australia (2008)
I really dig Baz Luhrmann's flicks. I thought I dug this one too. But once it settled, I realized I didn't like it. Still beautiful to look at, But that hardly makes it worth the watch. 
After reviewing my list, did I just accidentally find out Hugh Jackman is my least favorite actor?

Nathan Hinds -

Since there was really no list to pull choices from, and it was all based on memory, I'm sure I'll look at this list down the road and find a movie that definitely should've been on it. I'm fully confident in my first three picks though.

     1. Escape From L.A. (1996)

I always heard the other guys in the group talk about how awesome this movie was - hell, Alex lists Snake Plissken as his #1 'dude character' of all-time. Couple all that with the fact that I love Kurt Russell, and my excitement for the movie was pretty high. Then I watched the movie, and it was one of the cheesiest movies I've ever seen. My question is, why do I get so much crap for liking "Batman & Robin" when they're digging this movie so much?
     2. Legion (2010)
Most of the guys will list "X-Men: The Last Stand" as their inspiration for this list. Since I never was hyped for that in the first place, "Legion" was the first film that popped into my mind - and honestly, should probably be #1 on this list. The trailer for this movie was so sweet, but every highlight was shown in the trailer. I feel like just when the movie was about to get really good, it just ended.
     3. Sucker Punch (2011)
Why did I ever think this movie was gonna be good in the first place? I mean, this movie is one massive pile of dog shit. The plot is absolutely ridiculous, but I could write an essay on that. If you wanna watch a decent movie about a bunch of chicks in an asylum, watch "The Ward".
     4. The Last Airbender (2010)
The teaser trailer for this movie was so epic, but the movie turned out to be one of the most forgettable in a long time. This is the selection that I'm not that passionate about, and I'm sure there's a better choice, but I couldn't think of one.
     5. Lincoln (2012)
I hate it so much that this movie is on this list. I wanted this movie to be so amazing. Abraham Lincoln is my favorite President, and Steven Spielberg is my favorite director; it should've been a recipe for success. Then it turns out to be one of the most boring movies I've ever seen. I mean, dialogue the whole damn time! This movie made Tarantino films seem like silent movies (okay, maybe that's a bit dramatic). I'm so disappointed with this film because I wanted to love it so much. But I just didn't.

Andy Schopp -

     1. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
The only movie to have tricked me after I saw it. It took a second watch to see through its masquerade.
     2. Legion (2010)
I went in thinking it would be one of the coolest movies of the year; I left knowing it was the worst.
     3. Spider-Man 3 (2007)
The trailer made us believe it was becoming the Spider-Man we deserved. After watching, we realized it was the Spider-Man we never needed.
     4. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
After the success of the first film, you accidentally expected something great here in the follow-up. But this just ended up being pure garbage.
     5. Jurassic Park III (2001)
Poop sandwich.

Well that was quite the interesting grouping. You can definitely tell that a lot of frustrations were vented above. Three things really stand out with this list: First, that only four films had repeat selections (and of those four, three of them earned only two picks). Two, that the only film to appear on more than two lists was "X-Men: The Last Stand", which appeared on four, and nearly earned enshrinement - what the predicament we would have been in there! And third, that outside of two picks from the 1990's, every title is from 2000 or later. Other than Derek's solid observation towards the subject, it also has much to do with the fact, I'm sure, that we weren't critiquing or getting nearly as hyped about films at younger ages as we have in our adult lives. Nonetheless, every title above should be fairly familiar to just about everyone this week.

As for the picks, the aforementioned X3 was the top vote getter this week with four selections. It's clear that the biggest factor that was working against this film was that it tricked us just enough that, when first leaving the theater, we thought it was amazing. Most films you can walk away from knowing they're bad. This one you did not. It paid a cruel joke on all (well, most all) of us, and it's clear that we haven't let go.

Otherwise, three films managed two picks apiece: "Legion", "I Am Legend", and "Van Helsing". All three of these had aspects that made them seem like they could be great, and I'm sure at some point, they were all anticipated movies in some way. None of them delivered though, and ultimately, they're all titles that more than one of us feel you need to stay away from (or, as most have probably already seen them, just need to be pointed out, ridiculed, and made example of).

So, while we won't praise on the "best" films that this category has to offer this week, we can still all agree that the information above can be valuable towards better and more enjoyable all-around viewing experiences.

Happy watching!