Nothing gets movie lovers more juiced up than when you tell them one of their favorite movies stinks. So you probably don’t want to read this article if you’re still wound up from the holidays.

Barring the occasional exception, I’m not into bashing material. I like to celebrate movies, not call them names. Or at the very least, celebrate what we can learn from them, regardless of whether the screenplay/movie is any good or not. However, there are some situations where the claws come out.  I hate when productions clearly don’t put any effort into the screenplay.  It drives me mad.  They think they can cover up a bad story with cool effects or a hot actor, even though that’s proven to never work.  And then there’s that passionate movie-lover side of me that just gets pissed off when I’m watching a piece of junk.  It’s no one’s at fault.  But I paid for the thing so if I have a strong opinion on it, I wanna to share it with someone (or someones).   Believe me, I know how hard it is to make a movie. I’ve tried to do it myself. Just getting a production in the can and then releasing it in movie theaters? That’s something 99.999999999% of the people on this planet could never do. So there’s a certain respect I have for anybody who can achieve that. But I’m still a film lover at heart, so when I feel passionate about something, good or bad, I want to get it out.  So are you ready?   Here are the ten worst movies I saw this year…

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10) Brave – This is an interesting one because I wouldn’t use the word “hate” to describe my reaction to it. It was more like, “Huh?” We’re so conditioned to expect greatness from Pixar, particularly on the screenwriting side, that it’s baffling something like this could get through their system. They rewrite their scripts over and over again after numerous pre-viz previews and feedback sessions from some of the smartest story guys in the business. So why was this story so lame? And odd? And uneven? It just never seemed to know where it was going. I’ll tell you when I knew it was doomed – when the main character visited the witch in her little hut. That scene felt desperate as opposed to focused, like a production that knew it couldn’t dig itself out of the hole it’d dug and had to do a lot of dancing and ranting to distract you from the reality.  Which was that this movie stunk.  I still don’t really know what Brave was about. Talk about disappointing.

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9) Paranormal Activity 4 – Look, let’s not forget what’s going on here. Paranormal Activity 4 is a cash-grab of the highest order. We shouldn’t be expecting much. Add onto that the tired “Paranormal Activity” format and this script had an uphill battle from the get-go. But seriously, ya gotta give us SOMETHING to latch onto.  ANYTHING. This is the first scary movie I’ve ever seen…WHERE NOTHING SCARY HAPPENS! Even the promotional scare was lame (a girl rising above her bed). My friend and I looked at each other after this was over and said, “That’s it?” Then we looked down at a couple below us and they turned to each other and said, “That’s it?” I’d rather watch a 24 hour marathon of Honey Boo-boo than this again. What a boring movie.

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8) Get The Gringo – Here’s the thing. Crazy Mel Gibson has been blacklisted from Hollywood. It means all his movies go straight to video now. But Mel’s still an interesting storyteller. He likes to try different things and has a pretty good eye for material. So I’m still willing to check out the stuff he does. That is until I saw “Get The Gringo.” This movie…was just…awful. As best I can explain it, Mel Gibson ends up in a Mexican prison, but this prison is actually a little town (yes, a Town Prison! WTF???). He then roams around this town speaking in long drawn out voice-overs that give us redundant insight into what he thinks about this new life of his. At some point, of course, a kid shows up and I think Mel becomes a surrogate father to him or something. But by then I was so bored I wanted to melt my eyeballs in the Mexican sun so I would never have to watch the second half of this dreadful movie.

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7) Expendables 2 – I’ll probably take some flak for this one because the movie is supposed to be fun and stupid and silly and shouldn’t be taken seriously. But I just found the whole thing to be tired and obvious. Oh, they’re battling an army and then that army is mysteriously taken down by someone and then who should come out of the shadows but…Chuck Norris! I don’t know. I just felt like I was always ten minutes ahead of the jokes here. Nothing was surprising. The ONLY credit I give the movie is when I found out Jean-Claude Van Damme’s character was named “Villain,” yet pronounced in a French accent (so “Vil-ann”). Except I only got that joke by stumbling on the name when I was checking Expendables 2’s IMDB page. So the only good joke is one I didn’t get from the movie itself! And then there was the cinematography. Did they shoot this movie on a Best Buy camcorder? I mean seriously. This was the cheapest looking production I have seen for a Hollywood action film since the 80s.  And then every scene felt like it was done in one take.  There were awkward pauses, almost-botched lines – an overall feeling that actors had flown in for their 2 days of shooting and didn’t have time for second takes.  I admit this is not my thing but this movie was stupid.

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6) Battleship – This was bad. Wanna know how bad? It actually proved that you can try to make a movie like Transformers and do worse.  I have a newfound respect for Michael Bay.  I don’t know where to start with this one. You base a movie on the game Battleship, yet you turn it into an alien invasion movie? When were there ever aliens in the Battleship game?  Then you populate your film with models and pop stars instead of actual actors?  If we don’t believe the words coming out of the characters’ mouths, how can we believe what’s happening to them? Then there’s just the fact that the movie blatantly rips off Transformers, right down to the sound effects, which literally feel copy and pasted. I remember being halfway through this one, seeing a bunch of still ships sitting in the water, and thinking to myself, “This is quite possibly the most boring scenario you could’ve constructed for this movie.” On the plus side, the awfulness of this film should protect us from future board-game-turned-movie-properties like “Operation” and “Hungry Hungry Hippo.”

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5) Rock Of Ages – You know how sometimes you can tell right away that a movie is going to be bad?  There’s just something about the tone or the production or the directing or the acting (or all of the above) that isn’t synching right?  That’s exactly how I felt watching Rock Of Ages, which follows a young girl on her way to Hollywood in a bus (which she sings about with her other passengers) then stumbles around a famous club when she finally gets there, then bumps into the famous owner and asks him for a job.  It just felt…wrong.  I have a lot of sympathy for musical productions because if you don’t nail the tone, they’re disasters that go far beyond typical movie disasters. And you could tell the director (who was it again?) wasn’t connecting with this material. It was overly cheesy, in-your-face and proud of itself before it had any reason to be. By minute ten I was actually starting to get angry. Like I wanted to beat the shit out of the characters. It was that bad. I may not have loved Les Miserables. But that movie knew what it wanted to be and it achieved what it set out to do. Rock of Ages misfired on every shot it took.

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4) Total Recall – All I can say about this movie is that it was DOA. There was clearly nobody involved in this production who wanted to make this film.  The writer didn’t seem interested in writing a good script (this script had the most boring intro you can imagine). The director didn’t seem interested in doing anything different (the evil soldiers were basically storm troopers – the set was a wannabe Blade Runner set). But worst of all, the actors didn’t want to be there. Colin Farrel was working at about 60%. Kate Beckinsdale was sleeping through her role. I dare you to watch the first ten minutes of this movie and be interested. It’s impossible. This movie is dead. It really is. It’s like watching something that has died on the side of the road.

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3) Looper – Okay okay. So maybe I was a little rough on this one in my review. I didn’t list a single good thing about it when there were a couple. The scene where the guy is slowly losing his body as he’s trying to run away was great. And really, the whole first act was solid. But after that, this movie completely falls apart, and it really is one of the most poorly told stories of the year. The China stuff was weird. Everything that happens at the farm house is boring. And the telekinesis plotline was forced in by the writer solely so he could shoot those gravity effects. There was nothing natural about its inclusion at all, which is what revved me up so much. What’s strange is I get all these hush-hush e-mails from people saying, “I went to see Looper, Carson. And you were right. I can’t believe how much love this film is getting.  It’s terrible.” As if we’re living in 1936 Germany and the mention of Looper as a bad movie will get you executed or something. Rian Johnson is a well-loved geek-centric director so I understand it’s not trendy to dislike his movies. I get that.  But you gotta call a spade a spade. This is 1/3 of a good movie. The rest is a mess.

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2) Dark Shadows – I was actually excited to see this one when it came out on video. The previews made it look funny. Johnny Depp as a fish-out-of-water ancient vampire unleashed upon a modern world? That’s comedy gold right there. But Holy sh*t! NOTHING HAPPENS IN THIS MOVIE. And I mean NOTHING. Johnny Depp wakes up, shows up at the house, then hangs out and does nothing for the next 90 minutes. There was no point to this story, no urgency, nothing for the characters to do. You know how you’ll be watching a movie and at a certain point you’ll sit up and declare out loud, whether there’s anyone around or not: “What the hell is this about????” That’s what happened to me. Thank God for Twitter, which allowed me to get some of my frustrations out on this one. One of the few movies of the year where I considered asking for my money back.

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Tie-1) John Carter of Mars – I thought Cowboys Vs. Aliens was the most misguided concept of the last five years. Well move over CvsA. John Carter’s taking the poll position. Here’s what I don’t understand. This character was created in 1912, when, like, it wasn’t unheard of to think that aliens lived on Mars. But we live in 2012, when we definitively know there are no aliens on Mars. It’s just a big dry dusty rock. So how do you convince audiences that that’s not the case? I just don’t see anybody making that leap other than 6 year olds and people who loved the old novels. So it was such a misguided concept to begin with. But when John Carter started jumping? Like we established his power as “super-jumps,” I’m not going to lie, I started laughing. I mean how can I take a movie like that seriously? And then it just got worse from there. The designs of the ships didn’t seem to have any connection to the world itself. The mythology was bizarre and hard to wrap your head around. I didn’t like any of the characters.  The aliens were most boring and annoying.  This was an easy pick for biggest misfire of 2012.  But it’s not the only pick!

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Tie-1) The Master – This movie was just freaking awful.  It’s as if PTA was drunk when he wrote it and high when he shot it.  You can tell me a PTA screenplay can’t be judged by conventional screenwriting methods until you’re blue in the face.  It doesn’t give the writer license to make a boring wandering piece of crap.  I mean at least “There Will Be Blood” had a design to it.  You could feel it building.  This was just a mess.  It was a student film with a 20 million dollar budget.   One of those Saturday afternoon deals with your classmates where you try a whole bunch of shit on camera and figure out how you’re going to edit it together later.  You’ll never be able to convince me that PTA had a plan in place here.  He was making this one up as he went along, and you could feel it in every minute of the movie.  The only thing saving this one from a universal drubbing are the performances.  But even those, while interesting, are inconsistent, especially Phoenix’s.  If this would’ve been shown at midnight at some offbeat film festival and it was labeled as “experimental,” I wouldn’t have been so hard on it.  But if you’re going to package this as a real movie, that’s how I’m going to judge it.  And on that level, this was a monumental failure.

 

Whoa!  I got a little revved up there, didn’t I!  I fully expect retaliation for the “Master” and “Looper” choices, but after you’re done yelling at me , let me know what your least favorite movies of the year were.  And for those who can’t stand movie-bashing, I’ll be listing my favorite movies of the year either Thursday or Friday.  So re-join me then!

  • BennyPickles

    When someone’s ‘Top 10 Worst’ list shares some entries in your ‘Top 10 Best’ list, you know something’s gone wrong. And I’m pretty sure it’s not me.

    • The Mulberry Tree

      Pretty sure?

  • carsonreeves1

    “turned into a cornfield drama.” that’s maybe the best description of the movie I’ve heard so far!

    • http://simplyscripts.com/ Steex

      I went in expecting a futuristic romp, and man was I mislead. They should’ve at least let JGL drive a combine. I think the twist should’ve been that he just becomes a farmer. Looper: Farmer.

  • Poe_Serling

    Looper in your Top Ten worst movies of the year… that’s a big surprise, huh? Better make some more room in the lair for the additional hate mail piles. :-)

    Personally, I enjoyed Paranormal Activity 4. I thought it was smart on the filmmakers’ part to expand the story’s universe into something bigger than just a haunted house flick.

    And Get the Gringo? Pleasantly surprised by that one. Edgy acting, low-life characters, over-the-top action. Classic Mel in my book!

    “As best I can explain it, Mel Gibson ends up in a Mexican prison, but this prison is actually a little town (yes, a Town Prison! WTF???.”

    One of the things I enjoyed most about the pic was the gritty, offbeat setting; in fact, the prison in the film was modeled on a real life one in Mexico. See Below:

    http://www.movies.com/movie-news/get-the-gringo-real-prison/8899

    • http://www.facebook.com/kevin.lenihan1 Kevin Lenihan

      I saw Gringo on TV recently, and I thought the prison town was kind of cool as a movie concept. Is it really that far fetched for Mexico? I don’t know, but it was different. Some of the story was preposterous, like the scene where Gibson goes to LA and pretends to be Clint Eastwood(if I remember correct). For late night TV, it’s not that bad.

      • Poe_Serling

        Yeah, you’re right… there were a lot of crazy story threads in Gringo… body part harvesting, etc. It’s a worthy addition to crazy Mel’s film canon of revenge pics: Payback, Edge of Darkness, and so on.

  • James Inez

    Wow, didn’t see any of those, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

    • Citizen M

      Me neither. Movies are expensive, even with a half-price Movie Club card. I like to know if they are any good before shelling out my cash. I almost never see a movie without checking out the reviews or seeing what other people have to say about them.

      But I did rent the original Total Recall again. Great fun. Even the cheesy props and effects are enjoyable. (Ahhh, nostalgia…).

  • Malibo Jackk

    Total Recall… ?
    How can you say a movie with two babes — is a bad movie?

    • http://twitter.com/dillwashere The Dill

      Because they don’t get naked.

  • NYANGL23

    I agree 100 % on dark shadows. I could not believe this was even a Burton/Depp film after all the good ones they have done together. I saw this in the theater and was twiddling my thumbs. Not much happens and by the time something does you don’t even care anymore. Not with this director and cast should a film ever be this boring. I did not believe that John Carter could possibly be s bad as everyone said it was before I saw it. I was wrong. I watched about an hour and could not find myself caring about one thing that had happened so far.
    I disagree somewhat on Brave. I don’t think it was the worst it just felt more like a disney princess film than a pixar film.

  • Michael

    I too am haunted by corn fields (Field Of Dreams gets a pass). Only flowing wheat (Days Of Heaven), flowing sawgrass (The Thin Red Line) or flowing seaweed (The Tree Of Life) or whatever other flowing vegetation Terrence Malick obsesses on for thirty minutes in each of his films haunts me more. :)

    • Poe_Serling

      A couple of creepy cornfields for your consideraton:

      M. Night’s Signs – crop circles, strange noises, an alien or two lurking among the stalks… all good stuff.

      Dark Night of the Scarecrow – A wrongfully killed man exacts revenge on those who murdered him beyond the grave. The legendary TV-movie from the 80s. Directed by Frank ‘Audrey Rose’ De Felitta.

      • Michael

        Signs? I’d rather have Joaquin beat my head in with a baseball bat before ever seeing that movie again. Swing away Merrill.

        But Night of the Scarecrow, pass the popcorn. Great cast, Charles Durning, Lane Smith and Larry Drake before he was chopping off fingers with a cigar cutter in Darkman, among many others in their early careers.

        Ahhh, when tv movies where fun. :-)

        • Poe_Serling

          ‘Ahhh, when tv movies where fun…’

          So true… when I was a kid, some of the late-night staples that sizzled the grease in my brain pan were Duel, Gargoyles, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, and Bad Ronald.

          • Michael

            All good choices. Cable is screaming for content. For the life of me, I can’t figure out how all the old stuff isn’t available somewhere with over a thousand channels.

        • sbbn

          Joaquin doesn’t seem to get much loving. Seems to be a common theme that people would rather see him do anything, including beating their heads in with a baseball bat, than act.

          • Michael

            No, I like Joaguin and loved the faux documentary. It’s M. Night that’s got me thinking WTF.

          • sbbn

            M. Night did well with The Sixth Sense… And he’s progressively been getting shittier since then.

          • Michael

            Exactly.

          • 21BelowZero

            The Last Airbender gave us one of the best quotes of the decade: Princess Yue, “We have to show them that we believe in our beliefs as much as they believe in theirs.” About as deep as a kiddy pool.

    • http://simplyscripts.com/ Steex

      I’m not sure what it was, (possibly wheat) but every time I watch Gladiator, I have to stifle my tears of fear. Every time they show Russell Crowe gently caressing the tops of the (wheat) plants.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shaun.snyder.35 Shaun Snyder

    I, too, disliked Brave. I expected so much better from a Pixar film, so it was a monumental disappointment. For this reason, also, I hated The Dark Knight Rises, which is my least favorite movie of the year. It was such a sad mess, I almost resent its existence because it practically ruined Nolan’s Batman Series for me.
    Also, Carson, I was curious: what did you think of Premium Rush? I remember that you gave the script a good review. I personally thought the movie was pretty decent.

    • http://twitter.com/FlanaganCRK C. Ryan Kirkpatrick

      Right there with you on The Dark Knight Rises. Just ridiculous.

      • carsonreeves1

        This didn’t quite make my list, but it was close.

    • Michael

      I think The Dark Knight Rises and Looper suffered from the same problem, they both tried to cram too much story into one script/movie.

    • Poe_Serling

      Just watched The Dark Knight Rises last night on DVD…

      This might sound really off the wall, but I felt the whole Bane vs. Batman was just a weird ripoff from Rocky III.

      The first fight between Bane and Batman… Batman loses because he’s gotten soft and lost his edge. There’s even a couple of scenes prior to this where Alfred (filling in for Mickey) warns Bruce of the dangers of putting back on the batsuit and taking on the villain for just those reasons.

      Second fight between Bane and Batman… Batman gets the better of Bane this time because he regains his edge/overcomes his fears or something like that down in that prison pit, which again pretty much apes the motivations of Rocky when he faces Clubber Lang for the second time.

      • ChadStuart

        No, I’ve seen others compare it to “Rocky III” for the very same reason. It’s not off the wall at all.

        • Poe_Serling

          Thanks, Chad… I thought I had accidentally taken a crazy pill or something. :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/kevin.lenihan1 Kevin Lenihan

    Fortunately, I did not see most of these. They either looked awful or they had bad press.

    I did think Looper did some things well. It held my interest and even stimulated some thought. I was hoping that the story was going to play with standard movie character arc, using the fact that the protagonist and antagonist shared the same memory. So what the hero learns to succeed by the end of act two, the villain should also learn, which would be pretty unique. They didn’t go that route, but while watching the film that thought really intrigued me.

    Why would people have to email criticisms so no one sees them? Whatever happened to courage? Most people on this blog seem pretty unafraid to speak their mind. Hopefully it stays that way. We all have different opinions, and that gives me a reason to read comments in the first place. Happy New Year, scriptors!

  • BennyPickles

    I think the thing I learned most from Looper, and probably the reason you disliked it Carson, is that we shouldn’t be afraid to make choices that help our story simply because the audience isn’t anticipating them. When we saw the trailers, I don’t think anybody was expecting it to spend the last half in a cornfield.

    Whether you liked or disliked that choice, it was the story Johnson wanted to tell. He wanted to show you what it would be to hide out with someone when you know the antagonist is going to arrive at any moment. Most people would probably stop themselves from writing those sequences, simply for the reason that the audience isn’t expecting it to go that way. But Rian did it anyways, because that’s the story he wanted to tell.

    A better example is the shift in the first act, where we go from JGL to Willis’ character. Johnson wanted to establish JGL as the protagonist, but also wanted to tell Willis’ story from his point of view. The audience isn’t expecting this switch, so most of us would probably steer away from it. But from a story point of view, it’s what makes the most sense; so that’s what he did.

    It was around that time when I was struggling with a choice in my own screenplay – where I needed to explore character conflict for 10 pages before I got to the actual ‘plot’ climax. Ususally, that’s where the plot takes the front seat. But for my story, it made far more sense to explore character during those scenes, and resolve the plot later. People aren’t expecting you to delve into character right when the conflict is at its most complex, but after seeing Looper, I decided to leave it that way. It’s the best way to tell the story I want to tell, regarless of where people are expecting it to go. So that’s how I wrote it.

    And I know I didn’t do a good job of selling it, Carson, but it’s too late to back out now!

    • http://www.facebook.com/kevin.lenihan1 Kevin Lenihan

      I didn’t see a problem with the cornfield. That part of the film is where the protagonist grows and matures his ability to form selfless human connections.

      And going to the Willis character, well, he’s the same guy as the protagonist, in the funky time travel premise used here. So the protag learns his future from Willis, or possible future.

      I’m curious what you mean about exploring “character conflict” for 10 pages before “plot climax”. I know that’s your script, not Looper, but I’m intrigued. I’m sure you did not go 10 pages without a plot development, that would be risky. I think you are saying you had developments that concerned that character’s arc. But that should be not only ok, but preferable, because plot should ideally be a device for the character to grow.

      I like your thinking.

      • BennyPickles

        Yup. 10 pages without plot development. Well, I guess that depends on how you define ‘plot’. For me, plot is simply “external conflict”. And I have two of those.

        One of my conflicts is designed to change the characters, and one is designed to test them. The ‘testing’ one begins the film, then leaves until the third act. The one that changes them is resolved on page 65. So that means I have 10 pages (65-75) in which no ‘plot’ (by my definition) is driving the story. It is simply two characters using each other to come to an important realisation – a realisation that needs to occur for the rest of the film to take place.

        I can’t really find another film which does something similar, which is why I began doubting my choices. Thematically and structurally it makes the most sense, but it’s not what you’re expecting to read when you start. The ‘plot’ may not develop, but the characters and themes do; and that’s what really matters.

        Actually, I guess it’s a bit like The Dark Knight. Where everything is put on hold for Harvey’s “transformation” into two-face to occur. No “plot” really happens for those 10 minutes, it’s simply setting itself up for the third act to work.

        It’s hard to describe. Sorry for being coy. But I guess we’ll find out in a bit whether or not it works.

        • http://www.facebook.com/kevin.lenihan1 Kevin Lenihan

          As long as there is always a strong engine driving the story. As long there is always a compelling reason to keep turning the pages on the script. Especially once you get out of the first act, where an audience allows some grace while you set things up. So on page 65, when this resolution occurs, ask yourself what keeps the audience turning the page?

          If you have created questions the audience needs answered, mysteries they want solved, that might be enough to carry people to the next plot point. It sounds pretty risky, though.

          Here’s an example, maybe, of a film that did something similar to yours: Rocky.

          Rocky is 2 stories: the love story and the underdog boxer. Once Adrienne accepts Rocky’s love, the love story is essentially over, has resolution. I think it’s right around then that Rocky gets selected for the title fight, starting the next story.

          And there is also a kind of character scene where the brother kicks out Adrienne, frustrated that his life is going nowhere and she seems to be siding with Rocky. Maybe that scene is similar to yours, as it sounds like your script has a different part of the story come into focus after the transition following the other story’s resolution.

          • BennyPickles

            Well said. And I think I have enough to keep people reading, but that’s not really for me to decide. Only time will tell.

          • Malibo Jackk

            “If you have created questions the audience needs answered, mysteries they want solved…”

            I would change the focus. “If you have created questions the reader needs answered…” He’s not making a movie. He’s writing a script at this point. And as you point out — you want people to keep turning the pages.

            A movie audience will tolerate a lot. A reader will not. (They will check your spelling, script format, the way you explain things, and anything they think is boring.)

            The way some professionals handle the difference is by preparing a coyote script. And when it comes time to make the actual movie, they revise that script to meet the needs of the movie.

            Tarantino does this to an extent. Although he would call his scripts literary. Not coyote.

            .

          • http://www.facebook.com/kevin.lenihan1 Kevin Lenihan

            Creating questions works as well with reading as a movie,and can be done in many ways: how will she get out of this now? what’s in the mysterious shed? who is that lady in red? who is the killer? People will keep moving through a story just to see things answered. Should that be the only thing driving a story? No. But it can carry you through a rough patch. Tarantino does this in Django when we wonder how they will get out of things after they killed the sheriff.

          • Malibo Jackk

            Sorry for the confusion.
            Wasn’t talking about the merits of creating questions.

            I think the concern being expressed has to do with how the script will be perceived (by the reviewer). Not how the movie will be perceived.

    • Malibo Jackk

      Benny. Are you starting to sweat?
      You shouldn’t take your cues from Looper, a movie Carson hates.
      State your case using a script he loves. (Hey, it’s a slow build. Just like Desperate Hours.)

      Don’t worry my man.
      We’ve got your back.

    • JakeMLB

      LOOPER

      It may have been the story Johnson wanted to tell but the farmhouse sequence made a wreck of the story’s pacing and introduced convenience beyond what should be acceptable.

      Mind you, Johnson did well enough to make those scenes interesting, enough so that they were enjoyable to watch. While that’s a success in its own right, from a screenwriting and general story telling perspective, Johnson left much to be desired.

      CONVENIENCE, CONVENIENCE, CONVENIENCE

      * Pacing/Within-story timeline. Once Joe and Old Joe meet, the within-story timeline is <24 hours. The tension is high. Stakes are high. The pulse of the story is rapidly accelerating. But then… then it all comes to a screeching halt. The within-story timeline at the farmhouse extends beyond 96 hours. That’s right: it takes Johnson 4 full days to achieve climax (Johnson must be tantric). Typically, as we approach climax, the pace accelerates and time shortens rather than extends (i.e., the ratio should be reversed). The result is that our climax here feels forced and inorganic.

      * What is Old Joe doing the entire farm sequence? Again, we spend 4 full days at the farmhouse. And what is Old Joe doing during this time? That’s right, conveniently eliminating the 2 other children born on the same day as Cid. Why 2? Because that’s convenient to the story.

      * Sara (Cid’s mother) is an ex-dancer. Why is Sara an ex-dancer? Because that’s convenient to the story. The story needed her to be a dancer so that she would believe that Joe is from the future.

      * The second child on Old Joe’s list just happens to be the son of Suzie (the dancer that Young Joe had a crush on). Why? Because that’s convenient to the story. Let’s review, shall we? Of the three children born in a hospital on a specific day (yes only 3), two of them were born to dancers. Even more coincidental: despite that we spend 4 full days on the farm, Old Joe arrives at Suzie’s apartment to kill her son at the exact moment that Young Joe witnesses Cid unleash his mental abilities. Why? Because that’s convenient to the story. That’s manufacturing tension in my book.

      * Kid Blue decides to review surveillance video of Suzie’s apartment (really, there’s surveillance video of this apartment?) and spots Joe entering. Why? Because that’s convenient to the story. Why would Kid Blue have any inkling whatsoever that Old Joe, on the run for his life, would visit a dancer that Young Joe had a mild crush on?

      * Abe gathers all the Gat Men in the city to Abe’s hideout. Every. Single. One. Why? Because that’s convenient to the story. The writer needed all the Gat Men in one place so that Old Joe — who is conveniently also being held at Abe’s hideout — can escape and eliminate all the Gat Men in the city just so we could have our climax between Young Joe, Old Joe and Kid Blue. We also spent the first half of the film believing that Abe is a menace, one with full control of the city, only to have Old Joe dispatch of Abe and all his men without even breaking a sweat.

      Do you really believe that Abe runs the entire city with 10 Gat Men?

      ABE: Call everyone, every Gat Man … We’re gonna take an army to that farm.

      But he didn’t take an army to the farm.

      Why?

      Because that was convenient to the story.

      And all of this ignores the seemingly out-of-place TK angle. At least in Dredd, the TK angle was due to mutation from global nuclear war.

      Now, I know that’s hyper-critical and beyond nitpicking but it should help articulate why Carson and others had trouble with this film. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this film. It was an original idea and certainly wouldn’t be on my list of worst of the year. But it was major disappointment for me mostly because of the film’s second half. Some convenience in a film is fine, but when the entire second half of your film is built upon layers of convenience, the story unravel and begins to feel inorganic. You can feel the writer’s hand at play in every sequence of the second act.

      • Ken

        Having Old Joe start killing kids in the past wiped out any sympathy I might’ve had for him.

  • Michael

    I can’t believe Pixar’s valedictorian Andrew Stanton could get the story elements of John Carter so wrong, that’s the one thing they’re perfect at (not that this was a Pixar film). The first act didn’t hook you into John Carter’s character before throwing you on the sci-fi roller coaster. The “ships designs” were the least of the bad concept choices. The aliens almost dethroned Jar Jar Binks for the most annoying sic-fi characters ever. When you’re shooting live action you can’t go to your computer and hit the delete button if it doesn’t pre-viz preview well, that’s why Pixar’s method hasn’t crossed over from animation to live action. So many bad choices you have to live with.

  • nawazm10

    Interesting list, glad I wasn’t the only one who didn’t like Brave. I’d make a list but I don’t think I’ve watched nearly enough movies this year to label some as bad.

    But Looper! I loved that movie. It had flaws and plot holes but I doubt it’s the type of movie where the writer wanted you to analyse every single second and find anything that doesn’t make sense. I was there for the fun ride.

  • nawazm10

    Oh, I totally forgot about that.

    Never have I been forced to turn off a movie until this. A steaming pile of turd, maybe it does get better towards the end but I just couldn’t understand why someone would even bother making this.

    • http://twitter.com/FlanaganCRK C. Ryan Kirkpatrick

      I wish I had followed your lead. I was looking for something a lot more FUN. Alas, it was not to be.

  • jridge32

    “The Master” was pretty lousy. I can’t stand Joaquin Phoenix in anything, but went to see this because of all the acclaim. Jesus.. if he laughed even one more time, I was going to rip my hair out. If I ever have to hear Philip Seymour Hoffman yell after an orgasm again, I may rip someone else’s out.

    I would also include “The Loneliest Planet” on a worst list. Uninteresting characters we never really get to know having dull, sometimes cryptic conversations, plodding through widescreen scenery (shot from a distance) set to violin music that always ends abruptly. Thanks, but no. That one unexpected moment that happens doesn’t justify the other 114 minutes of my life I will never get back.

  • Michael

    Right beside you on This Is 40.

  • Rob B.

    Brave: Change your fate theme was meh. Liked the female lead having a story though.

    Paranormal: never cared for the series so didn’t see this

    Get the Gringo: didn’t care for.

    Expendables 2: Exactly what it was set out to be, mindless killing and quick one liners. If you expected more, shame on you.

    Battleship:just… bad. Not even sure how that one made it to theaters. This was my #1.

    Rock of Ages: marketed as a Tom Cruise musical and he was barely in it.

    Total Recall: I thought there was something wrong with the projector when watching this. They took lens flare to a whole new level. One scene reminds me of a Super Mario game with Mario jumping from block to block.

    Looper: Decent, but they should have centered the story somewhere other than a farm. The TK concept seemed like an afterthought on how to tie the movie together.

    Dark Shadow: Didn’t know what to expect when watching this as the wife wanted to see it. Don’t know what the hell I watch after leaving from it.I kept expecting the plot to move at some point and it never did.

    John Carter: Weird story but it kept me entertained. The whole jumping concept was stupid though.

    The Master: Never watched didn’t look appealing.

  • Keith Popely

    Yeah, there were lots of problems with TOTAL RECALL and JOHN CARTER, two of my most hated movies of the year, but they both committed the same crime of forcing an action opening into a story that it is absolutely wrong for. Why? Because they tried to do what “is successful” rather than what’s right for the story. In other words, they relied on formula.

    Both of these stories are about a normal person catapaulted into a wildly different world. This story structure is the very blueprint of the hero introduced in the “old world” then making a journey into the “new world.” Yet these stories blast us with the new world before we’ve even had a chance to get to know the character, then they go backwards to introduce the character and the old world. The effect is that by the time we get to the new world, there’s no wonder, nothing new to learn, no excitement. It’s anticlimax. It’s telling the punchline to a joke before you’ve told the joke.

    Compare the story structures of these two movies with two of the scripts Carson lists as the best of the year, THE EQUALIZER and DESPERATE HOURS. Both scripts have non-action, slow openings. The writers give us time to get to know the character(s) and become comfortable in the old world before it is upset by trouble, before we are jolted into the new world.

    One could argue that they are different genres, but nay! The effect of story structure is the same for both. Imagine how much more effective JOHN CARTER would have been if we’d been introduced to the old world of the 19th century, introduced to a main character whose entirely of knowledge is the earth of 1865, and THEN the story is transported to Mars and everything we and the character thought we knew goes out the window.

    The blueprint of action movies, DIE HARD, also starts slowly, taking its time to introduce the character before the shooting begins. The problem is that the blueprint for sci-fi movies, STAR WARS (and also RAIDERS), opens with a wow, action scene, perhaps the best of all time. So filmmakers have come to believe that every movie should open like STAR WARS.

    I love an awesome action opener. But it has to be organic to the story. It has to make sense. I believe these two movies failed, in large part, because audiences were alienated right from the start. We were not on board. So right from the opening scene, we’ve decided we don’t like the movie and all the other problems with the movie just succeed in cementing our opinion. Maybe if it went from a bad, inappropriate opening to an awesome movie, we might be convinced to get back on board. But these two movies just go from bad to worse.

    In closing, I say – as an audience member – do what’s right for your story. If it calls for an awesome action opening, go for it. But if the story calls for a slow introduction to character first, please do not force an opening on it that just doesn’t belong there.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kevin.lenihan1 Kevin Lenihan

      Thumbs up!

    • Marija ZombiGirl

      Very well said, Keith !

      I learned this the hard way with the script I’m rewriting right now. Instead of introducing the main character and his wife (the murder of the wife is at the core of the story), I not only introduced the guy by himself but at a later point in the story (after his wife’s death) just because… Oh, this is so embarrassing that it pains me to admit it but just because that scene was “so cool” :-( After sending my first 30 pages to a screenwriter friend, his first reaction was “What’s going on ??” And he was right. So I rewrote the opening and it all flows naurally now. And that “Oh so cool scene” ? Deleted entirely. Kill your darlings, they say…

    • UrbaneGhoul

      I was thinking the exact same thing in regards to John Carter. Get rid of the “dead family” sympathy mugging and give him guts. He wants to go out West for an adventure and ends up on Mars. At least we’d get to the story quicker.

  • carsonreeves1

    those writers are not good writers. I’ve read a few of their other scripts.

    • Andrew Mullen

      Uh oh Carson. Be careful. Remember what happened last time. :D

  • Writer451

    THE MASTER and LOOPER worse than BATTLESHIP? Surely you jest. Remember “Chicken burrito? Chicken burrito.”

    • TheDevil’sAdvocate

      Red Dawn was pretty bad. Definitely wasted opportunity for an interesting allegory. Impossible premise of course – made more sense when it was China invading. The younger brother role was miscast. Should have put the Hunger Games kid in that role.

      • Writer451

        I agree with everything you said. Pajiba had what I felt was an accurate and thorough (and entertaining) review on it.

    • http://profiles.google.com/andrewmoraitis1 Andrew Moraitis

      You just don’t cross ALEX CROSS. What part of that tagline don’t you understand?

  • sbbn

    Can’t really disagree with the list. I hated Looper and thought the screenplay was mildly interesting. I could complaint about that movie to no end but I’d rather just forget it.

    This Gingo movie… I’d never even heard about it until I saw it on the netflix instant watch and tried about 15 minutes of it before I had to turn it off. I was bored out of my brain. But even though I actually did try to pay attention, I couldn’t tell you what the movie is about. Even the first 15 minutes. Some boring-ass car chase, wreck and then prison or some shit. I dunno. I was really bored.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shaun.snyder.35 Shaun Snyder

    Couldn’t agree more. The Dark Knight and The Prestige were amazing. It seems like Nolan, as a writer, has been going downhill. Inception was a mess, too, but at least it was original, smart, and ballsy. The Dark Knight Rises was none of those things. Don’t get me wrong, though: I still think Nolan’s an awesome director.

  • TGivens

    I agree with everything except probably Get the Gringo and Looper. Yes, those movies are far from perfect and I see why Carson put them in this list, but I still like them. Get the Gringo seemed quite entertaining (or maybe I’m just a big Mel Gibson fan?) and Looper despite all its plot holes is still a decent work. At least better than Battleship and Dark Shadows. You forgot about Twilight Breaking Down part whatever or Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter!

    • Writer451

      “Mel Gibson fan.” haha. I’m still waiting for him to redeem himself by going on TV and performing his monologue from THE MAN WITHOUT A FACE. “If this is all you see… then you don’t see me.” It worked for him in the movie.

  • ElliotMaguire

    This is shameful to admit, but I have not seen ANY of the films on this list, so can’t comment. I do still intend on seeing John Carter, The Master, Get the Gringo, and Looper, despite Carson’s thoughts.

    It’s hard to make my own list, as I haven’t got to the cinema very often, but there are two films that I did take a risk on that I struggled to stay seated for: Taken 2 and Alex Cross.

    The scripts for these were awful, but they weren’t even dressed up! No effort in visual, sound, acting…the lighting in Alex Cross is sitcom-style at best!

    Alan Smithee awards for them.

  • Marija ZombiGirl

    I’ll be quick :

    Prometheus
    John Carter
    Prometheus
    Babycall
    Prometheus
    Battleship
    Prometheus
    The Avengers
    Prometheus
    The Raid

    • http://www.howdoiblog.com/ Scots Chris

      Prometheus and The Raid were two movies I would rather have missed too.

      • Colenicks83

        Yes. The Raid. I got so bored I watched it fast forward and I’m pretty sure I didn’t miss anything.

        • Cfrancis1

          The Raid? Really? I loved the Raid!

          And the Avengers is far from the worst film of the year. It may not be some people’s favorite but how could anyone deny that it was extremely well made?

          • svendahen

            AVENGERS is the only movie I’ve walked out on this year. Soooo boring. How could anyone over the age of twelve be entertained by that shit

          • Cfrancis1

            Okay… but riddle me this, if it’s that boring, then how could someone UNDDER the age of 12 be entertained by it? Bit of a contradictory opinion. Most 12 don’t like boring movies. :) I don’t know what constitutes exciting in your book but The Avengers was far from boring.

          • Ken

            The Avengers is a great movie.

          • TheDevil’sAdvocate

            I agree. The Raid was pretty good. Took time to establish the cruelty of the antagonist, hint at the back story of the protagonist and his ultimate goal then went balls to the walls insane.

          • Cfrancis1

            Exactly. Set everything up very economically and then got down to BUSINESS! :)

          • TheDevil’sAdvocate

            That scene with the door…ugh. still gives me nightmares. xD

    • 21BelowZero

      PROMETHEUS

      One of my biggest WTFs was the Charlie Holloway character getting pissed-off and drunk b/c they didn’t find “living” beings. You guys land in one spot on a planet and you’ve come to that conclusion?

      That’d be like aliens landing in the Sahara desert and claiming Earth was unoccupied. So stupid — unless I missed something (then I may be the stupid one). Was that really just a lame excuse/vehicle so Fassbender could slip him a mickey?

      And of course, Charlize running 200 yards straight to not avoid a falling spaceship, instead of 20 yards to the left OR right. You can’t box her in, not give her the obvious (but untaken) choices?

      • Marija ZombiGirl

        Yeah, the whole thing was just a tad bit disappointing, wasn’t it ? :-) Funny thing (or not), it’s always the same things that come up for those who didn’t like it. So I feel your pain…

    • Poe_Serling

      lol. I see that your dislike for Prometheus has time traveled from the summer of 2012 over into 2013. :-)

      Perhaps you can turn your focus to the upcoming release of World War Z… co-written by some guy named Damon Lindelof.

      • Marija ZombiGirl

        I’d rather turn my focus to a survival type script where zombies hunt down and tear Lindelof to pieces ;-) Damnit !

        • Poe_Serling

          Or better yet – why not cast him as the lead in the remake of The Most Dangerous Game? Then throw in a subplot where a jungle full of rabid monkeys are breathing down his neck…. it’s kinda of cool idea, right?

          • Marija ZombiGirl

            You know what ? I’m getting to the end of the rewrite on my novella and my editor just suggested a sort of “bonus scene” since we’re in literary B-movie territory. So I might do just that ! And give the character your name :-D

          • Poe_Serling

            I’d be honored. :-)

          • Marija ZombiGirl

            It shall be done ! I’ll translate that scene and send it to you :)

          • Poe_Serling

            Awesome. Immortality here I come. ;-)

        • AstralAmerican

          “Anti-viva, Lindelof!” or whatever the right words that should be said…

  • peisley

    How about another category of bad turns in ok to good movies? Like, in 21 Jump Street when the main characters, undercover cops, steal illegal seized drugs from the police station and spike the punch with them in a party for underage high school students. Not to forget the alcohol, too. Oh, and on a personal note, the Jonah Hill character does it to ingratiate himself with the kids to make up for the nerdness of his high school past.

  • Pugsley

    Agree 100% about The Master, Carson. WTF?! Amy Adams doesn’t even get neck kid in it! And she jacks him off? Into the sink?? No direction, no dramatic build, experimental student film is right!

  • http://www.howdoiblog.com/ Scots Chris

    Hmm, I love your taste in scripts Carson but many a time I’ve shook my head at your opinion of some movies, particularly those that do what you often challenge more writers to do – be unique, tell a story differently, make interesting choices… I haven’t seen The Master yet but I’m a middling fan of PTA (adored There Will Be Blood and I suspect this will be a love or hate intense character study like that one was) but I utterly disagree on Looper. It’s nowhere near as deserving of the near-universal praise it received, but Christ, at least it was original and made some daring choices, both narratively and stylistically. The rest I can broadly agree with because the trailers were enough to tell me to avoid them… except Total Recall which I watched going overseas recently and by god was it an incoherent mess of a movie, and I also watched Get The Gringo to see how low Mel had sunk… very was the not so surprising answer!

  • ripleyy

    I have the ability to suspend disbelief more than others so if I’m watching a bad film, I won’t know until months later when I really think about it and if I can’t, then I know it was bad. That said, you’re pretty right about all of those.

    Battleship, while bad, was actually fun to watch and that’s the main thing. I never seen “The Master” or “Paranormal Activity 4″, I saw “Get the Gringo” for 15 minutes and Brave was so disappointing.

    I can’t remember any to add, I think you pretty much summed me up as well.

  • bruckey

    No fundamental disagreements except for ‘Gringo’. I think Mel’s voice over is a little painful but all the acting is wonderful.

  • Cuesta

    Looper? come on…

    Also thought Get The Gringo was cool.

  • DanDollar

    The Master is not only my number one as well, but it’s one of my favorite screenplays I’ve ever read. It’s just so fascinating that I couldn’t put the thing down, typos and the sloppy writing style notwithstanding.

  • MelanieWyvern

    I would agree with most of these. Good call on Total Recall. I hope the trend of taking very fine 80s action films and remaking them, except always making them worse, finally ends.

    I thought there were some good things in John Carter, but without question, the bad outweighed it.

    I think Mel Gibson is the most underrated director in Hollywood, for the obvious political reasons. I hadn’t even heard of Get the Gringo, but definitely want to see it, now that I know it exists.

    I definitely would have put The Avengers on the list of worst films. Not only is it utter garbage in and of itself, with themes so simplistic that they might as well have been written in crayon, but it furthers the Independence Day blight by enshrining a tentpole template of “creating anonymous alien armies that need to be blown up real good.” By contrast, the Dark Knight Rises is actually a sophisticated movie for grown ups with some intelligence, and is without a doubt the Number 1 film of the past year — and by far the best installment in Nolan’s trilogy. By comparison, The Avengers is like a second-rate comic book — not even an Alan Moore/Frank Miller comic book, but one of those old subliterate Marvel primary-color exercises in wasted ink.

    The Dark Knight Rises may be the first comic-book films whose themes and intent actually went over the head of most of its viewers — and that’s a compliment. Perhaps the only people who truly understood it were Salon-type reviewers, who recognized it for what it was, and expressed grudging admiration for it, predictably biting their fingernails over its politics, but acknowledging its power.

  • ChinaSplash2

    I loved the script but still haven’t seen The Master, so I’m not going to disagree with you about that one — yet.

    As for Looper, I think you went too easy on it. I agree that the disappearing body parts thing was great, but really just about everything else was rubbish. The ridiculous premise — still the dumbest I’ve ever heard — and the massive plot holes were the least of its problems.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1462007233 Avishai Weinberger

    It’s always fun reading these lists. I might disagree with you, but you’re an entertaining writer.

    I only really disagree with three of the films on your list, to varying degrees.

    Right off the bat: I loved Looper. A lot. I can watch that any day of the week. And I’m not saying that because it’s cool to say that, I actually really really loved it.

    So that’s out of the way.

    John Carter- yeah, it wasn’t great. I don’t think it was the worst movie of the year, though. Getting past the life-on-mars-and-jumping thing, which didn’t bug me for some reason, I only had two issues with it. One, the visuals were repetitive. Okay, Mars is red, but if you’re going to put life on it anyway, can we have more color please? Red and green, at a contextually normal white balance, is kind of boring. Two, the script needed a little work. There were things I loved- the fast dog, I thought, was really creative- but it could have been trimmed here and there. A lot. Scenes could have been condensed. We had fifteen openings and endings. The villain was kind of nebulous, etc. I don’t think it was a terrible script… but it didn’t feel like a completed one, either.

    How much better would it have been if the entire epilogue of him on Earth trying to get back was the midpoint, and he had to get back because Mars and the princess were in danger and only he could save it? Putting it at the end made it feel unnecessary. If you cut the framing device of the diary, and the entire ending from the point where he’s zapped back to Earth, you don’t lose anything.

    I enjoyed the movie enough, but it was just unpolished enough to be forgettable.

    Now, Brave.

    While it was entertaining enough to see with my family, I agree it was a mediocre movie, and Pixar’s worst (excluding the Cars movies which, in fairness, I haven’t seen.) I have a theory for why it didn’t fully work. The conflict was weak.

    Who’s our antagonist? I’m going to exclude Evil Bear Monster Thing because that didn’t feel like a developed antagonist as much as an obligatory villain.

    See, in the beginning, the antagonist was the mother. Merida wanted one thing, the mother wanted something else, and these two wants were in conflict. It was a good conflict, too. The mother wanted to marry off Merida and keep her constrained by society’s customs regarding women. Merida wanted to be free and only marry when she was ready. And both take action in order to get what they wanted in defiance of the other. So that was a very good first act.

    But then the mother turns into a bear. And suddenly we lose our antagonist and our story becomes much less interesting and more generic: Turn the mother human again before such and such a time that she’ll be trapped as a bear forever.

    And who was our antagonist now? The father, who wants to kill the bear who took his leg. So the mother can’t show her face in bear form to him. I’m not convinced he works as an antagonist. His want wasn’t vital to him, and I never believed he could win. We downgraded from a very personal conflict to something more… obvious and safe.

    I think that’s why the writers felt the need to add the Evil Bear. They needed a bad guy the protagonist could fight. Which is fine, but they took the obvious route and essentially threw in a dragon the hero could fight. It’s a video game boss, not a character. So without a clear conflict we could latch on to, the movie ends up just okay.

    NOW. Worst movies for me this year. I haven’t seen many movies on your list this year, and I try to avoid bad movies if I could help it. I don’t remember any theatrical releases this year angering me or offending me (ala Green Lantern, for example) but there were some movies I saw that bored or disappointed me. And that’s a capital offense in my book.

    3. Snow White and the Huntsman

    This falls into the ‘bored’ camp. There wasn’t a single plotpoint in the movie I didn’t see coming. There were conflicts unexploited (two guys like the same girl, and they never clash?) The color scheme was droll and superserious. And there were scenes after scenes of characters sitting and doing nothing. Ugh. And were we supposed to care about the dwarf that died?

    Thank God for Charlize Theron, who at least seemed to be having some fun.

    2. The Hobbit 1/3

    I’m going to get flack for this. But no movie should use its source material and its predecessors as a crutch. A movie needs to stand on its own two legs, and the Hobbit failed at that. It was just three hours of stuff without structure, sound and fury signifying nothing. I never had any reason to care, and almost every scene felt like it was there to justify the runtime. Characters were underdeveloped and underutilized, the goal was just an excuse to show pretty shots of people walking, deus ex machina after deus ex machina, and a villain who might as well have been the evil bear from Brave.

    1. Menatek Hamayim

    An Israeli film, not in wide release, very artsy, very toure de force, and I was a captive audience. See, as a museum piece, it’s fine. As a movie, it is not. I have never seen a movie with so much potential for conflict and drama in which NOTHING HAPPENS. Look, just… you don’t know this movie, don’t seek it out.

    So there you go.

    Anyone see Dredd? I loved it. And nobody else on the planet saw it, it seems.

  • ThomasBrownen

    Can I include THE IMMORTALS in this list? I think it came out in 2011, but I saw it in 2012, and that was by far one of the worst movies I saw this year. BATTLESHIP was also really bad.

    I wouldn’t include BRAVE on my list of bad movies. It was a tad cliched and predictable, so it didn’t rise to typical Pixar quality, but it had sufficient charm to make it fun watching.

  • ChadStuart

    This might be one of the gifts of getting older, but I really just don’t see that many bad movies.When I was younger, I saw just about everything that was released and was punished for it as much as I was rewarded. Now that I’m just over the tipping point to the back half of my life, I just don’t feel compelled to see movies I just know I won’t like. I didn’t need to see “Battleship” to know that I wouldn’t like it. There were plenty of people out there who said it was a poor man’s “Transformers”, which is a movie I just didn’t connect with (and never saw the sequels). The only movie on Carson’s list I did see was “Brave”. And whereas I wouldn’t call it a bad movie per se, I didn’t think much of it either.

    The only time my nose failed me this year was with “The Dark Knight Rises”. I loved the first two and the critics were kind to this one. But, I don’t care what anyone says about it, and I don’t want to get into a debate on the “nitpicks” and such, because the film’s primary issue was that it was unforgivably boring. Nolan got so wrapped up in the multiple themes he wanted to tackle that he simply forgot to tell an engaging story with interesting characters. That, at the end of the day, is the most egregious movie sin.

  • DanDollar

    Jesus, my best movie of the year is Carson’s worst movie of the year, and I’m not even a big PTA fan. But I’m fairly certain in ten years or so people will be talking about how The Master was passed over when it was first released but is now considered a masterpiece by many critics. In any case, until recently it was favorite to win best original screenplay so it’s kind of funny to see a screenwriting blogger naming it his absolute worst film of the year. Not that awards are everything, but come on…

    Also, pick any film student in America and give him $20 million to make a movie. Pick the best film student in America, doesn’t matter. There is no way in hell it would look anything like The Master. Not even close. If a film student could make a movie like The Master, he or she would not still be in film school.

  • 21BelowZero

    Couldn’t believe Brave spent 90% of the movie trying to fix the Bear problem. There wasn’t even a “true” villain. Pixar dropped ii on this one.

    Expendables 2, one big plate of extra cheesy machos. And the Asian woman is a TERRIBLE actress.

  • the monster

    I guess “That’s My Boy” didn’t make the list because no one sees Adam Sandler movies anymore which is a positive sign.

    The most amazing misfire to me was John Carter of Mars. For a writer as adept as Andrew Stanton, who gave one of the most compelling TED talks ever about movies, and the importance of engaging an audience to direct and write a film so void of humanity is beyond belief.

    Taylor Kitsch might be pretty to look at for some people, but he doesn’t have screen presence. Harrison Ford exudes charisma on the screen. George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Robert Downey Jr. It isn’t just about matinee idol looks, it’s something else. It’s authenticity, getting us to believe the things on screen are actually being encountered by an actor, despite the fact that we know he’s an actor and it’s all really just make believe.

    I thought “LIncoln” was a dreadful bore. Like being stuck in Disney’s Hall of Presidents for three hours with the robots on a continual loop.

    Spielberg is too concerned with his legacy to tell stories authentically anymore. He doesn’t let his movies breathe, doesn’t trust his audience to feel things organically, but imposes feelings upon them which is a kind of narrative tyranny.

    “Silver Linings Playbook” was rather good, at least up until the bet with the bookie about a dance contest. No self respecting bookie would ever take that bet. But Jennifer Lawrence was pretty great in it, and Bradley Cooper actually got to show some acting chops, as opposed to reacting to tigers in Las Vegas bathrooms and Zach Galafinakis’s desperate mugging.
    I won’t watch “This is Forty” because it reeks of self indulgence. Judd Apatow tweets every positive tweet he can in a desperate attempt to convince the world he hasn’t lost it, but with “Funny People” and now this he’s beginning to show the tell tale signs of egomania. Not that he’s afraid to mine his own life for humorous material and can’t make fun himself. He clearly does.
    The great thing about “Knocked Up” is Apatow used Rudd and his wife as a shining example to Seth Rogen as to what is great and lousy about family life. They are fully realized characters in that with no character arcs necessary ( as opposed to Rogen who needs to grow up ), Having to impose a character arc on these characters, having them get stoned and crawl around a hotel room seems forced. Apatow’s too good for that, or at least he was.
    The best film I’ve seen hands down was “Beasts of the Southern Wild”, for reasons too numerous to mention here.

    • ChristianSavage

      Beasts of the Southern Wild was probably my favorite movie of the year, too. Just saw it last night for the first time. Pretty much cried the last 20 minutes. It was completely amazing.

      • DanDollar

        I cried during the scene with the giant boars at the end. I had no idea what those things were about, but for some reason it had me in tears seeing the little girl stand up to them.

  • garrett_h

    Agree with just about everything you said.

    In regards to Carson’s list, I’d say it’s more of a “Least Liked” list instead of “Worst Movie” or even “Worst Writing” or whatever.

    And any “Worst of 2012″ list that doesn’t include Taken 2 or This Is 40 needs to be revisited. I understand that some people didn’t “get” Looper, and IMO John Carter wasn’t THAT bad, and the performances in The Master were good enough to keep it off the list I think. But Taken 2 and This is 40 were just terrible moviegoing experiences for me. I want my money, and my 4 hours, back for those.

  • Xarkoprime

    Ok, so I assume this list only includes movies that have went to theatres? But then I’m not sure why Gringo is there… I’ve seen so many trash indie movies that make John Carter look like a masterpiece.

    I’m quite surprised Gringo was on this list. From what I recall it wasn’t THAT bad. I really do try to watch everything and when you watch Lake Placid 2, the line has been set on what a bad movie really is. Either way I don’t think this movie belongs on any “worst movies list”, maybe disappointing because it is MEL GIBSON, you know? I didn’t mind it still.

    I’m also quite surprised THIS IS 40 hasn’t made the list. It literally had no direction. It was about two people who hated being 40, and they had financial problems. Nothing happens to work against these issues that was any bit interesting at all. Just a bunch of meaningless comedic scenes. Worst movie of the year for me by far.

    Ballsy pick with Looper, but one we all saw coming lol.

    Not a bad list, but I think you missed out on a lot of movies. I guess this is just a personal worst though, correct?

    • Xarkoprime

      Oh, aand idk how One for the Money or Playing for Keeps haven’t made a top 10 worst list of this year either…

  • Mr T

    Couldn’t agree more on The Master being the worst film of 2012, although personally I would tie it with Lincoln. But of course the fascinating thing about movies is how they can divide the audience. As I was leaving The Master I ran into a friend who was arriving at the theater and asked what he was going to see. He said The Master. I was so infuriated after watching it, so disgusted by the immense waste of time and money, that I grabbed hold of him and said “Don’t, just don’t. It’s awful. Please, get your money back before it’s too late.” And he replied, “I’ve already seen it three times.” Likewise, I got into it with someone on New Year’s Eve who thought Lincoln was a masterpiece. Of the rest of your 10 here, Carson, I agree with Dark Shadows. Ugh, terrible. But I am one of the Looper lovers, so I disagree with that. Some other terrible movies I saw this year were… The Bourne Legacy, Prometheus, Ted, Haywire. Those are all I can think of right now. I’m sure there were more. Oh, the Dark Knight Rises was probably the biggest disappointment of year, but that was part due to my expectations being too high, and part due to the lazy writing.

  • Marija ZombiGirl

    It only hurts for a little while… *snip snip* :-)

    • Keith Popely

      Sounds like a vasectomy.

  • TheDevil’sAdvocate

    I don’t know if you have some beef with Rian Johnson, but Looper was definitely not even close to the bottom of the barrel. Everything in the script served its purpose and advanced the theme – to the point where even Jason Reitman is pushing it for Oscar Consideration. Your review rambled and, honestly, made me think that you didn’t see the movie. Rotten Tomatoes is a site that I abhor in many respects but when a film has a “94%” critics rating and an 87% audience approval rating, it puts your review in the minority and, honestly, makes me question your expertise precisely because your review is so off the mark. If a film that you suggests “falls apart” after the first act can 1.) Be critically lauded and 2.) a commercial success then clearly there’s some promising in that script. Which means that your tastes aren’t indicative of the majority and also means that it’s not a leap to suggest that your reviews lose credibility about what works and what doesn’t. Maybe you don’t like it, but I think there’s something more here than you’re disclosing. Especially considering you didn’t mention any of these films (the true bottom rung of films in 2012).

    In addition to everything you listed except Looper and The Master, here are the ones which truly deserve to be on a “Worst of” list.

    - Red Tails
    - Man On A Ledge
    - Safe House
    - This Means War
    - A Thousand Words
    - Casa De Mi Padre
    - Mirror Mirror
    - Wrath of the Titans
    - What To Expect When You’re Expecting
    - Seeking A Friend For The End of The World
    - The Watch
    - BOURNE LEGACY (which, from a screenwriting perspective is the worst offender on this list since you have a hero and an antagonist who never get a final battle and a plot that ping pongs)
    - Alex Cross
    - Nobody Walks

    And at the end of the day, some of these films were still financial successes so I guess it just goes to show that no one person can predict what does and doesn’t work.

    • Xarkoprime

      Forgot about most of those, and I totally agree with all of them!

    • http://www.facebook.com/shaun.snyder.35 Shaun Snyder

      Critical majority isn’t always a surefire indicator of the quality of a movie. The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises were also critically acclaimed and, in my opinion, they were overrated at best and garbage at worst. I don’t agree with Carson’s Looper review either, but he has the right to dislike any movie he wants, and to bash his credibility based on one review isn’t cool.

      • TheDevil’sAdvocate

        Critical majority and audience majority are a measure of potential longevity. A movie that a lot of people like and agree “hey, this is a good movie” will have a longer shelf life than something like the Total Recall remake. And I’m bashing his credibility because the review in question makes it seem like he didn’t watch the film – which is the prerequisite for a review. You need to watch and actually make an attempt to understand the film. And no effort was made: things which were clearly explained or deftly maneuvered over (who is the Rainmaker, establishing TK while establishing the world, etc.) he suddenly has no idea about during the review. Which leads me to the conclusion that either 1.) He has a personal problem with Johnson or 2.) he really did not understand or pay attention to the material. Either way, it damages his credibility because it calls into question whether it’s a spiteful review written to get back at some perceived slight or just a controversial review to drum up page hits. A matter of bias must be considered as to whether or not the review is “fair.” While it’s a personal choice as to what you like and dislike the problem is he put something he knows will be a controversial pick on his “Worst 10 movies of 2012″ list. Much like putting Django in a best of 2012 list (when that script was from 2011…), it disregards other candidates like the ones listed above which really were more deserving of the number 3 slot on this list. It’s worth pointing out.

        • http://www.facebook.com/shaun.snyder.35 Shaun Snyder

          As far as your own Worst Movies list, I probably agree with you. I say “probably” because I haven’t seen most of them, due to the fact that they all looked horrible. The only one I saw was Safe House, which did suck.

    • DanDollar

      I think Looper had problems, primarily that the TK just has nothing to do with time travel at all. But it’s still a blast to watch which is why I can forgive the stuff that doesn’t make sense.

      • smaild

        I mean, there’s no relationship – they are simply two different elements of the same world. I’d argue it’s pretty consistent though – it’s a minor detail, something people use to show off…until its shown just how out of hand things can get down the line (which, arguably, is a theme of the film).

        • DanDollar

          It’s like Aliens vs. Predators. Two totally different concepts, mashed together because it would be cool. I can’t blame Johnson because the execution was done so well, but everything about Looper is trying to force things to fit together just so you could have the awesome movie that you want.

    • scouter119

      agree 100%
      your list as well

    • ArabyChic

      I agree, especially about Bourne Legacy, which is one of the worst screenplays I have ever seen. How did anyone think that the contents of that movie equaled a story, especially when half of it is just a retread of the last movie?

    • Jarrett_H

      I totally forgot about a few of those movies you mentioned. Maybe that’s the true test: Not that it was so bad we remember it, but that we don’t remember it at all!

      One thing about Rotten Tomatoes though, is that it simply measures if the critics like it, not by how much. A “positive” 3 star review from Ebert counts for just as much as a 4 star review. So 90% of critics could only love a movie a little or 65% could absolutely love it. I’ve been drinking during the Sugar Bowl but hopefully that makes sense.

      • TheDevil’sAdvocate

        Makes sense to me Jarrett. :) hope your team’s pulling through.

    • Roy

      Yeah, I think Battleship, Total Recall, Rock of Ages, Dark Shadows (haven’t seen Expendables) are the only movies on Carson’s list that are truly bad. The others certainly aren’t perfect, they have their issues, are messy, etc, but I wouldn’t say they were bad.

      Brave certainly wasn’t bad. It was just middle of the road. It’s still far superior than Ice Age 4 or Madagascar 3 or the truly awful, list-worthy The Lorax.

      Devil’s Advocate nailed it with his picks in my humble opinion.

      Personally I’d add:

      Project X, which was excruciating.

      Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, whose only job was to be an entertaining, trashy movie and it failed spectacularly on even that level.

      And to anyone suggesting Avengers or Dark Knight Rises are “bad”, Avengers sole intention was to be a fun splash page thrown on screen and I feel they succeeded. I’m in the negative camp on Dark Knight Rises, but at least it had ideas and ambition.

      If you truly want an abysmal blockbuster, it’s Amazing Spider-Man.

      Amazing Spider-Man is perhaps the most painfully dull and generic blockbusters I’ve seen in ages. It’s up there with Total Recall in a movie being generic, joyless and lifeless.

      It’s a movie so tone deaf, the filmmakers don’t even realize that Peter Parker is the most unlikable character in it. He doesn’t even have a character arc! The whole point in exploring his origin again is to see his metamorphosis in greater detail – well, way to completely blow that, writers! And Emma Stone’s character doesn’t even get a personality or any character trait, she’s just a plot convenience.

      He makes a promise to a dying man then immediately breaks it in order to get into said man’s daughter’s panties. And this is the note the movie ends on! He actually became a worse person by the end of it.

      So yeah, I think Amazing Spider-Man might be one of the worst for the sheer laziness. It’s exactly like Total Recall – a complete vision-less cashgrab. It’s like literally watching a bunch of studio notes thrown onto the screen haphazardly. Ugh…

      • carsonreeves1

        I missed Spider Man. I actually have it rented on Itunes, but I can’t get myself to watch it.

      • Guess who

        I’m going to have to disagree with you on Project X. I loved that movie and it had a pretty nice cult following at the art theater where I saw it 3 times.

      • TheDevil’sAdvocate

        Amazing Spider-man I’m chalking up as the best that could have been done with heavy, heavy studio oversight. I believe the original ending was to have Peter Parker keep the promise but the studio didn’t like it and imposed the “get the girl” rule at the end. And it gets more complicated when you acknowledge that the rights to the character are essentially on loan. If they don’t make the film, the rights revert. I’m not really defending it as I have the same problems you do, but I read the Spider-m4n treatment and know just how bad the series could have gone.

        EDIT: also in the comics I believe Parker makes the same promise to Captain Stacy and still breaks it. It pays off down the line when the Green Goblin emerges.

  • Crapper John MD

    I totally agree with Keith’s notes on JC — open in 1865 and establish the mind set — then go to mars and we’ll ride the bull with the filmmakers…. but what the hell was Carter following someone around at the opening for? What was painful about JC is some of the flaws were just so obvious……. THE MASTER was great — not close to PT’s best — he needs to lock on a better story.

  • New_E

    Loved THE MASTER. Best film I’ve seen this year. Most disappointed in LINCOLN.

    Worst I’ve seen was WRATH OF THE TITANS.

    Didn’t bother to see the rest on that list.

    E

    • svendahen

      Re: WRATH OF THE TITANS. Why would you fork over money to see a sequel to a movie that was unwatchable?

      • New_E

        Well… been asking myself that ever since. Saw the new CLASH OF THE TITANS too and own it on BD (don’t ask).

        I usually have a good sense of what I’m not going to dig. Most of the movies on that list, I wouldn’t have bothered to see. Storylines, actors, directors – not appealing.

        I do like war / historical / epic / adventure films though and I guess I can only rationalize it to just being curious.

        I mean, these ARE the hardest script to get greenlit in Hollywood. I just had to see what those writers sold for millions. Sure enough, it sucked.

        At least, I stopped short of seeing the new CONAN THE BARBARIAN and THE SCORPION KING 3: BATTLE FOR REDEMPTION.

        E

  • ChristianSavage

    Surprised no one’s mentioned the real worst movie of the year – Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. I actually kind of liked the first Ghost Rider, but the sequel was one of the worst viewing experiences I’ve had in a long time.

    • Andrew Mullen

      I’m not surprised. Most of this crowd would avoid a Ghost Rider movie like the plague. Even if it had been good.

  • http://twitter.com/nicksansone Nick Sansone

    Wow, Carson. I don’t think we could be any farther apart on Brave. I thought it was great. In fact, I’ll go even further and say it’s the best family film of the year (granted, I haven’t seen many of the “family” films released this year). And especially for someone who constantly advocates for bigger female roles in films, this was a gift. I saw it twice in the theatre on two different continents (yes, this was one I saw in Italy) and loved it both times. I mean, I almost immediately fell in love with Merida. I loved how she wasn’t a stock “princess” character who never relied on men to save her. I loved how the heart of the movie was the mother/daughter relationship, a relationship rarely covered in movies these days (and a relief too, after sitting through a million father/son relationship stories).

    But even if you just look at it from a screenwriting perspective, there’s so many more things done right than wrong. I mean, the GSU formula is executed to a ‘T’ (Goal: Undo the spell. Stakes: If she doesn’t, her mother stays a bear forever. Urgency: She must undo it by the second sunrise), and because it’s executed to a ‘T’, the story never loses its focus. To be completely honest, for someone as big a structure advocate as you are, Carson, I’m SHOCKED you disliked it so much. Anyway, I just thought Brave was a superior family film and one of Pixar’s best (yeah, I said it). All right, now I’ll stop yelling. Just felt like I needed to get a little something off my chest.

  • maleficedark

    Battleship was great ! It’s a spoof movie .The humans were the bad guys !

  • RayFinkleLacesOut

    I actually loved Take Me Home Tonight, really reminded me of the great teen rom coms of the 80s.

  • blue439

    Boy, you sure paid to see a lot of bad movies, Carson. Most of those I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. I can’t disagree with most of your choices, though. I didn’t think Looper was that bad, although not great for the reason you mentioned. The stuff at the farmhouse I didn’t find boring at all, it could have been its own movie — single mom defends her telekinetic son and her self against men with guns. It’s just that it butts heads with the main premise of the movie — the Old Joe/New Joe conflict which never really gets resolved. All we have is the one coffee shop conversation which doesn’t really settle or clarify anything.

    • Ken

      Can somebody explain the bit where Old Joe gets sent back in time for the second time and this time gets shot by Young Joe?

  • Guest

    Any “worst of” list that does not include the RED DAWN remake on it loses credibility.

  • the monster

    Superimposing CGI onto the face of Josh Gordon Levitt in “Looper” doomed that movie to the realm of freak show.
    Sorry, but the eyes are the window to the soul, and it is the eyes which Hollywood has yet to duplicate correctly. They haven’t done it with any creation, even the much touted Gollum.
    Anything that takes you out of the reality of a movie, even if the movie is fantastical in nature threatens the integrity of the fourth wall. As wild as everything onscreen was in “Star Wars” we still believed we were seeing real human beings in Luke, Leia and Han Solo going through their trials and tribulations.
    This isn’t true of pure animation or Pixar films, because its a given you’re watching animation, not the real thing. But in “Looper” we’re asked to buy the face of a young Bruce Willis, when all it looks is strange. You feel Josh Gordon Levitt is buried underneath all that CGI, dying to come out.
    Of course a better solution might be to cast two actors who resemble one another somewhat, as they did Josh Brolin as a young Tommy Lee Jones in MIB 3. Then you don’t have to spend needless money on needless CGI that dooms the authenticity of the story.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1462007233 Avishai Weinberger

      That actually wasn’t CGI- it was prosthetic makeup. Those were his eyes.

      • the monster

        Wow, what a horrible horrible make-up job.
        Maybe trapped human eyes beneath a mask doom a movie’s entertainment value too.

  • garrett_h

    Man, that double ending ruined the entire movie for me. Up until that point I thought it wasn’t too bad. Not great, just OK. Then that ending came along and I almost walked out the theater.

  • GoIrish

    Carson has Looper. I have Chronicle. Holy cow, I do not understand how that received such positive reviews.

    I want my money back. I want my money back. I want my money back. Just enjoy the show.

  • JNave

    Decent list, I suppose, but you must not have seen many comedies because they all sucked. I liked Looper, didn’t hate Total Recall as much as most. And I stopped watching the Paranormal Activity series after the second one was the most boring, uneventful “horror” movie ever. How do they keep making money with that franchise when nothing happens throughout the entire movie?

  • TheDevil’sAdvocate

    As opposed to the pleasant taste of Alien vs. Predator? Because gargling with salt water won’t get the taste of that shit out of my mouth.

    • Ken

      Alien Vs Predator’s script makes far more sense than the one written for Prometheus.

  • AstralAmerican

    In the immortal words of MZG…

    1. PROMETHEUS
    2. PROMETHEUS
    3. PROMETHEUS
    4. PROMETHEUS
    5. PROMETHEUS
    6. PROMETHEUS
    7. PROMETHEUS
    8. PROMETHEUS
    9. PROMETHEUS
    10. PROMETHEUS

    …but not excluding WRATH OF THE TITANS, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES and CHRONICLE.

  • carsonreeves1

    Oh my god. Sooooo agree with you about The Master. Perfect analysis.

  • Writer451

    I’m curious, how is THE MASTER so high on this list, but MOONRISE KINGDOM isn’t anywhere on it? They’re almost equal in terms of being abstract.

  • Heitor Aires

    Was writing a lengthy impressions on Looper and Brave, which were the only two I’ve seen on the list, but the power went off! Now I’ll give the abridged version:

    Looper: I enjoyed it, overall, but didn’t loved it like other people. Wonder if it’s just because it wasn’t what I was expecting… and what I got I didn’t really liked it. Enjoyed the set-up, but the farm bit wasn’t really great to me.

    Brave: I think the worst thing I can say about Brave is that… it’s a good Dreamworks movie. I mean, look at the brothers “characters”. What else they were, beside 3 little punch-lines, adding some slapstick moments whenever they felt like it? Pixar, is that really you? Mother-daughter relationship is a great theme to explore and the idea of lost that could happen were pointing to the right path, but it got lost. Merida and the mom fought, fought, fought… then they went fishing together, so… that’s it? They are buddies again? The development of the relationship felt way too rushed. Brave seems like a great movie that missed some more passes to mix all it’s elements on the right order, right now it’s just a little too messy.

    I sincerely can’t remember a lot of bad movies that I’ve seen last year. Brave was the biggest disappointment, but wouldn’t call it bad.

  • carsonreeves1

    I didn’t really like Brick either. I thought it was a cool angle, but ultimately boring. And it’s not that I kept Lincoln off the list. I just couldn’t get myself to see the actual movie. Not after reading that script! :)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UXZGWHUNGPUO27HD6UXSOMCMCQ Tor H

    Dark Shadows – Liked it, but I see where you’re coming from. Quite a missed opportunity. Is it just me, or does Tim Burton need (as in ‘we need oxygen to breathe’) Caroline Thompson writing his movies again? Can it be a coincidence that her name is on two of his best (Edward Scissorhands & Nightmare Before Christmas)?
    Looper – You make a good point about people being afraid to pick on this movie. A sharper (and less Godwinny) analogy would be that Rian Johnson (or the movie itself) is Anthony Fremont and the viewers seem to be the other characters in “It’s a Good Life” (which Johnson homaged the fuck out of with the second half). Everyone can only think happy thoughts when Anthony is around, lest they be wished into the cane field…just as Johnson tragically did with the movie.
    Brave – Sweet Jesus, why are people so mean to this movie? It’d be a great movie if it came from any other animation house, but because it’s Pixar, it’s crap. Not every Hitchcock movie was a masterpiece, but even the lesser ones have merit. In time, I think that people will recognize Brave’s merits. (the mother/daughter relationship, in particular)
    John Carter – Now, you’re just being a bully. People got so tripped up by the budget thing, they didn’t see the film, which I thought was an engaging popcorn movie. Much like Brave, people down the line will see this for the fine film it is.

  • NajlaAnn

    Haven’t watched any of these honorees yet, except for Looper. But, hey, I really enjoyed that one! Afterall, it stars Gordon-Leavitt!!

  • New_E

    THE MASTER is my very favorite this year too. I have to catch AMOUR tomorrow. I was lucky to see every single Haneke film he ever made except that one and THE WHITE RIBBON. Can’t wait.

    E

  • http://www.facebook.com/JeffDavenportLikesRocketships Jeff Davenport

    Agree on Looper. Oh, man. You pointed out the TK incongruency and I am in utter agreement. I think you’re right on your hunch why it wasn’t dropped: Johnson wanted to show cool floating images. Sigh.

  • carsonreeves1

    tune in to the next post. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.bradley.71066 John Bradley

    The Devils’s Advocate, you sound like you are related to the writer of Looper. Don’t take movie reviews so personally. Beneath your bubbling brook of disdain, you made some good points and made a good bad movies list… The movie going experience is subjective and obviously Carson has different criteria than you. Maybe you should start your own blog where you critque Carsons blog every day and tell everyone why he is wrong.

  • DanDollar

    Have you ever read Catcher in the Rye? That character is pretty on par with Freddie from The Master. He’s simple, dumb, lost, horny, etc. It’s just fascinating to watch a character sometimes. I loved Freddie because he was a violent, psychotic drifter with no direction in life, who found a home with the most bizarre family in the world and against all odds somehow fit in for a while and then left, realizing that he truly is unable to be settled anywhere, even with a man he’s developed such a strong paternal bond with. And plus, the film was just fucking beautiful to boot.

    But yes, all of PTA’s films lack traditional character arcs and stories. They’re “slice of life” movies when you really get down to it, and there’s nothing wrong with that as long as it’s good.

    • CyclopsRobot

      yes, but Boogie Nights had a story, had a direction, it took you on a ride. Magnolia also had a storyline, a direction and kept you going, though not as well as Boogie. Then his movies kept getting less and less focused and less and less interesting. All to end with The Master, which was at the top of the worst movies all year for me also. It was aimless, boring, and another movie where people seem to just argue about things that don’t interest us for 3 hours, and don’t give us a glimpse of any purpose or direction. We leave feeling let down, poorer, and angry. I wan’t to be told a good story, a captivating yarn, taken on a thrilling ride. This did none of those things. It was a dead, cold, fish.

      • DanDollar

        I don’t think less focus means less interesting. It’s funny, I had to see The Master to convince me to go into PTA’s back catalogue and rewatch his older films. I’ve always thought Boogie Nights was kind of Goodfellas-lite and Magnolia was sappy and overdramatic. I think PTA is getting better as he gets older, but I agree the excitement is not what it was with his first films.

      • Boxman

        It almost feels like PTA is over compensating with how plot-heavy his first few films were. I want the old PTA back.

  • DanDollar
    • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

      Yeah I actually found a link after I posted this. Last time I had checked it hadn’t been posted for Oscar consideration yet. Thanks!

  • CyclopsRobot

    I would also add in “This is 40″, it looked funny, looked good, but it was a wandering mess that seemed to be invented, written, shot all on the fly as the director made it up as he went, and the actors did it in one shot. It had no direction, no focus (except a vague, this is about a bunch of old 40 year olds- aren’t old people funny? comedy). I was really disappointed. All, and I mean all the good stuff was in the trailer. The rest was kind of a melodramatic self love fest with Judd Apatow saying, “see how great I am, and funny?”. No. It wasn’t, he isn’t. I hoped for so much more, especially with Paul Rudd, who is always awesome (and he was good here, even with nothing to do but bitch and fight with his wife, which isn’t entertaining or funny, even if they thought it was. yet he managed to still be good). All the parts didn’t fit together, it was spliced piece by piece into a mess.

    I also agree about The Bourne Legacy, what a piece of crap. They just milked the franchise for money, it was idiotic, and pissed me off, especially since I payed for it. The story was a contrived invented, useless over the top mess that didn’t fit with the rest of them at all. uggh, Hollywood.

    This year had more failures and bad movies than any year I can remember. I have blocked them out of my brain, otherwise I will have to go postal on someone. Yes I get revved up about bad movies and have problem saying so or pointing them out. Which means, no I won’t be seeing Les Miserables, as I hate musicals, nor will I see Lincoln, as I wanted to kill myself during the trailer. Nothing more boring than 3 hours of a period piece set in a courtroom as people talk and talk. That would chap my ass more than any other. How can Spielberg make Catch me if you Can, and Lincoln? I think he is BiPolar.

  • TheDevil’sAdvocate

    Oh? You don’t like the Wizard of Oz? Tell me more about your bitter, angry childhood.

    My entire argument points out a discrepancy. An important one. That “groupthink”? That’s your audience. You want them on your side. You want them eating out of your hand. So when there’s a self styled master of story ripping into a critical and commercial success, there’s a need to stop and seriously consider the situation.

    Looper.
    “A great mind-bending thriller. – US Weekly”
    “The COOLEST and MOST ORIGINAL movie in years – Fox-TV”
    “This is 1/3 of a good movie. The rest is a mess. – Carson”

    The original review itself was a mess. Things which were explained quite clearly? Somehow, Carson didn’t know who the Rainmaker was. We’re told twice. “10 minutes explaining the TK mutation?” Hyperbole at best. It was as if he hadn’t watched the movie or decided to get trashed and got upset when he couldn’t follow along. “1/3 of a good movie” – Bullshit. 3/3 a critical and commercial success.

    So maybe it’s just a matter of personal taste? Yes, acceptable. HOWEVER, when you have a expensive and borderline predatory notes service (don’t you dare say 500-1000 dollars is a “reasonable” price for notes. it’s not. There are cheaper and much better alternatives), your tastes need to be on the pulse of what works and what doesn’t. To label it the fourth worst film of 2012 is an insult to talent. If he didn’t pay attention to the film, what’s the guarantee that he’ll pay attention to your script? Some food for thought. Go see the Bourne Legacy, compare that story to Looper and you tell me which is worse. Safe House. Any of the movies on that list I posted. That’s the bottom rung.

    • Andrew Mullen

      My child hood was fine. I could go into the reason I hate Wizard of Oz, but I think it would go woosh. As you missed my point. That my dislike of WoOz is allowed despite 99% saying it’s one of the best movies of all time.

      I’m confused about your argument. Are you saying it has good reviews because it’s unimpeachably good or that because it has good reviews that makes it unimpeachably good? Because it sounds like you’re saying the latter.

      US Weekly creamed their panties over it so therefore everyone is required by law to love it? No one can make a complaint about it without being sneered at because nameless reviewer at Fox-TV thinks it is the coolest and most original movies in years?

      Carson has the habit of zoning out when he doesn’t like things. A lot of people do that. The movie didn’t engage him, so he missed things. You jump to, “You didn’t even watch the movie.”

      So when you’re a professional who gets paid for things you aren’t allowed to have an unpopular opinion? Stephen King can’t dislike or like things in his Entertainment Weekly column? Roger Ebert has to be publicly flogged for his pan of Blade Runner?

      Self styled master of story. I’m a self styled wizard. Just because I call myself The Master of Wizardry and sewed glo in the dark stars on my pants, it doesn’t mean I can shoot lightning from my hands.

      • TheDevil’sAdvocate

        I’m the one missing the point? Above I list not only critical reviews but audience reception – where they overlap is the true test of quality. When Stephen King and Roger Ebert go explaining why they dislike a specific film, they break down the parts they didn’t like without completely misrepresenting the film. Are you going to sit there and tell me that Carson’s full review for Looper is “accurate”? And yes, “you didn’t even watch the movie” is a valid statement if you’re listing “Horror” as a potential genre for a film when it’s clearly in the vein of Sci Fi Thriller. And if you’re saying “10 minutes of exposition devoted to TK” which isn’t correct either.

        If you’re going to right a review and list everything you didn’t like about it then you have an obligation to say upfront “Alright, full disclosure: it wasn’t for me and I truthfully kept zoning out because it’s not my type of film.” He didn’t do that. He just listed things he said didn’t work or “weren’t explained” when they were. Add to the fact that I’ve seen Rian Johnson’s tweeted response to the review and his allusion to a prior dealing with Carson, and it grants a bit of credence to my theory that there’s more to the story. And again, you’re a self-styled wizard but fuck all – if you can’t shoot lightning from your hands I’m not going to pay you 500 dollars to get your opinion on how I do magic.

  • Guess Who

    I think most of this list would be under the category of “disappointing movies,” but certainly not the worst. If you want to see one of the worst ever made, you’ve got to check out “Cold Light of Day” starring Henry Cavill (doesn’t bode well for Superman). Not only was his acting atrocious but the editing and screenplay was so choppy that it looked like a 2nd years film student amateur made it. No wonder the studio ate the heavy costs and just released in a few theaters. Also, Looper doesn’t belong on this list.

  • TheDevil’sAdvocate

    Again, you’re focusing on a small part of the argument and ignoring the fact that I cite audience reception as well. The key factor in determining overall quality is to see how well the two overlap as there are sometimes very clear discrepancies in terms of quality and B.O. (any Michael Bay film comes to mind).

    I’m aware of films like “Fight Club” and “It’s a Wonderful life” as bona fide American classics (though, It’s a Wonderful life is a bad example as it was just rerun over and over when it fell out of copy right). Now that we’re getting into a discussion of film criticism let me point out this fact: Carson’s review makes no effort to represent the film properly. He even listed it as a “Horror?” in terms of genre. And you’re really going to sit there and say that his review is on par with those of Kael or Ebert? Kael and Ebert made every effort to still be accurate when describing the faults of a film instead of making them up. Am I saying he’s not entitled to his opinion? No. I pointed out that his review is seething with a bias which is quite apparent and that it damages the credibility of the brand when you’re charging 500 dollars for notes and saying “I know what works and what doesn’t” when there’s such a glaring outlier.

  • Cody P.

    Yawn.

  • Rodney92

    I agree with some of your choices, but The Master is one of the best of the year. And The Brave is one of the best animated films of the year. Just because it’s not 3-D, doesn’t mean it’s not brilliant storytelling.

  • TheDevil’sAdvocate

    Your piss poor paraphrasing aside, you’ve missed the point from the very start. You seem to think that the arbiter of a film’s overall quality is not the general public (as determined by the overlap of critical success, commercial success and audience reaction) – it is. Like my original post suggests, if your review doesn’t line up with the actual arbiter of quality – the overall consensus of the people – and you’re claiming you have your finger on the pulse of the Industry, then something is up. At no point do I put Johnson on a pedestal – I’m not even that familiar with his body of work. If you have two films, I hardly think it qualifies you as a “god.” But Looper was not the mess Carson painted it out to be. And it does call his credibility into question for all the reasons I mentioned above. But no, Carson’s infallible and his review was flawless in your opinion. If that’s your opinion, don’t try and argue with me if you’re not going to go back to the original review and find something with which to actually justify Carson placing Looper as the fourth worst movie of 2012. From a story point, or from a directorial stand point. Enlighten me. Because I’ve already pointed out more than enough nominees to supplant the two picks Carson knew would be controversial.

  • TheDevil’sAdvocate

    Your points aren’t complex enough to go over the head of a child, so they certainly aren’t giving me any trouble. But again, you’d rather focus on the idea that this is a criticism of an opinion – rather than a critique of the broader implications of a dissenting opinion and a poorly written review. The review itself was lazy at best, spiteful at worst (assuming there’s background between Carson and Johnson – which there appears to be and a quick glance at Twitter can confirm).

    The movie made its money, it has the critical and audience approval and will have a great life on home video. This list has no weight on the film, simply as a reflection of the author. Which is what I’ve been pointing out from the get go. What is it we’re constantly told? That dialogue and action are meant to reveal character? Ultimately, what’s on this list is just as telling as what isn’t. And that’s what I’ve been trying to get through your head, but the lining seems to be a bit thick, is that if shit like Safe House, Bourne Legacy and those other films aren’t on this list as paradigms of crappy story telling but a great movie (with complex characters and emotional development of character that wasn’t afraid to take risks and had it pay off) is then why is Carson more qualified to say what works than anyone else.

    This post has ballooned far beyond what I ever intended because you fail to acknowledge the broader implications. If someone is publishing a book on how to write a great screenplay, they’re also implicitly trying to pass themselves off as a master of the craft of story telling. And I’m pointing out that the evidence, in this case, makes that questionable. My original post simply calls into question the logic of the placement and my subsequent posts bolster my claim even going so far as to point out why the first review was bullshit to begin with. You can imagine that you’re winning this argument, that you’re the intellectual and moral superior of this conversation – hey, whatever helps you go to sleep tonight. But really, you’re just some guy on the internet who wasted both our time while never really focusing on the facts or supporting their claims with evidence. And I’m sure your english teacher is very proud of you.

  • TheDevil’sAdvocate

    Your point was noted when you made it. I’m making a different argument. Your premise isn’t the attack against my person, it’s all the little snarky shit you slipped in while presenting it. I pointed out what the quality of the review and implication of the rating meant. That’s my argument. Take it or leave it.

  • Glenn Devlin

    I’m also surprised that John Carter is on Caron’s dislike list. I didn’t hate the film. I thought it was okay and the SFX was pretty cool. However, the story did get bogged down and it was just too long. I gave it a D+ C- but if I walked out of the film and tweeted about it I would say save it for the DVD and that’s that killed it. John Carter “jumping around” made perfect sense because he arrived on a new world and adjusted to the gravity. I thought it was a good strong character point for John to adjust to Mars’ gravity. We all know that today Mars is a dusty cold world but the movie did give me ample support to suspend my beliefs and just enjoy the world that Andrew Johnson created for us. This film shouldn’t be on the worst of the year list.

    • Ken

      I agree. John Carter was an okay romp.

  • JakeBarnes12

    Hey, Carson, man, you are so right about “Looper!”

    And for those who say “Witness” does the farmhouse thing too, it’s like saying 70s “Flash Gordon” does the space opera thing, just like “Star Wars.” Go back and watch the relationship in “Witness,” then compare with just how flat Johnson’s writing is.

  • carsonreeves1

    they’re clearly insane. :)

  • Ken

    PROMETHEUS was terrible – you put it in the wrong list, Carson! THE DARK KNIGHT RISES was also terrible. On the other hand, I quite liked JOHN CARTER.

  • Alexander Plamper

    I have to say that some of your worst of 2012 films are in my Top 20, at least. Audience expectations always plays a role in what one thinks about a film. Brave for example I thought was funny, beautifully drawn etc, but this essay made it even better. Read it and watch Brave again: http://thenewinquiry.com/essays/just-another-princess-movie/

    Looper is a great film, smart, fun. The second half definitely does NOT drag, it has great relationships and characterization. I haven’t seen The Master so I can’t comment on that. Get the Gringo was stupid but fun for example, whereas Taken 2 should be on that list, as it shat all over the surprisingly good first movie. Where that one was fun and inventive, Taken 2 is boring and void of story. I expected more from that. Wrath of the Titans as well, after the quite shitty, but still a guilty pleasure Clash of the Titans it sucked the little life it had out of its being. Alex Cross is unwatchable, This Means War is extremely stupid, The Watch is unfunny as hell, and Ghost Rider 2, a very stupid and wrongheaded sequel to a very stupid and wrongheaded first part. So that’s my take.

  • LV-426

    I have to say, TOTAL RECALL wasn’t as bad as it is being made out to be. It wasn’t Colin Farrell’s best performance, but I never got the notion that he didn’t want to be there. I thought Kate Beckinsale was pretty fierce in her role as a sexy female assassin. The world was very reminiscent of Blade Runner, maybe mixed with some Minority Report style (the mag-lev freeway was straight out of Minority Report). I actually kind of liked that though. The dystopic world was very faithful to the types of settings Philip K. Dick used as backdrops for his wildly paranoid sci-fi thrillers. So in that sense, I dug the world and background stuff. The Fall was silly but cool at the same time.

    Was it great? No. Did it need to be remade? No, the original Total Recall still is a great sci-fi/action flick IMO. To put this Total Recall remake in the list of worst of the year though, then I’d say we had a pretty good year of films then. I’ll also take John Carter over The Dark Knight Rises. Nolan’s final Batman film wasn’t horribly bad, but it was certainly a letdown compared to just about all his other films (except Insomnia). As flawed as Prometheus was, it was still miles better and more enjoyable than The Dark Knight Rises. Same with John Carter, which was not as good as it could have been, but at least it was fun.

  • TheDevil’sAdvocate

    Good job completely missing the point.

    • Hem

      You’re trying to “prove” that someone who didn’t like the same movie you did is “wrong.”

      Have the humility and intelligence to understand that reasonable people can have widely varying reactions to the same text.

      • TheDevil’sAdvocate

        Again, that’s not the main jist of the argument. At all.

        Humility? Who needs that?

  • Will!

    Most of these movies aren’t even close to being on any worst list.

    Brave, Recall, Looper and the master were decent, if not at least entertaining.

    A bad Pixar flick is still ten times better than any other animated film from a rival studio.

    Battleship deserves worst of the year though IMO

  • Maxi1981

    The only movie i saw from this list was the expendables 2 and only saw it because i had enjoyed the expendables 1 for what it was, which was a big action movie not pretending to be anything but EXACTLY that and I think EXP 2 was a repeat of the formula from EXP 1. In that sense it did exactly what Hangover 1 and 2 did which was repeat the same story in a different setting and milk the cash cow. The fact that i haven’t seen any of the other ones I will take as a positive thing because I had a feeling they would be all pretty poor movies anyway.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jean.morel.923 Jean Morel

    Isn’t the fact that The Expendables 2 looks like an eighties action film exactly the point?

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