Tag Archives: Rites of Passage

10 Worst Films of 2012

Yep, it’s that time of the year again — the time to name my worst movies from…last year. I suck, I know, but it still has to be done. I have on record 109 films from the year 2012 (ie, with an official release date of 2012, not necessarily watched in 2012) which I’ve reviewed on this blog, and I have sifted through all of them to present you with a list of the worst of the worst.

As it turned out, the “worst of” list was much easier to compile than my “best of” list this year, a reflection of the overall quality of films from 2012. Either that or I just watch a lot of crap movies. Either way, here they are…

(click on the movie title for the full review)

In reverse order:

10. Mirror Mirror (2012)

Someone get me a pair of tweezers
Someone get me a pair of tweezers

There were two Snow White films last year, and neither of them were very good. But for all its faults, Snow White and the Huntsman was at least watchable. Mirror Mirror, on the other hand, starring Lily Collins’ eyebrows and the ghost of Julia Roberts, was atrociously bad. Though it wasn’t badly made, the end product was lame, unfunny, uninspired and lacking in any genuine warmth or excitement. It was a snoozer of the worst kind.

9. Rites of Passage (2012)

Christian Slater speaks to a sock puppet
Christian Slater speaks to a sock puppet

The proof that success in Hollywood is fickle. Christian Slater, Stephen Dorff and Wes Bentley star in this straight-to-DVD laugher about serial killers, hillbillies and talking monkey sock puppets. Imagine a slasher film with all the worst cliches imaginable, including the stupid and unlikable characters. This was worse.

8. To the Wonder (2012)

Imagine this for two hours
Imagine nothing but this for two hours

A controversial choice, perhaps, considering it was written and directed by the worshipped Terrence Malick. But To the Wonder, for me, was the kind of pretentious tripe that would be absolutely ridiculed if it were the product of a lesser known director. Even in this case there were many critics who loathed this arty farty film full of dancing and prancing through the meadows, cornfields and streets with 50 rapid takes of the same scene. Sure, it’s pretty to look at, if you like that kind of stuff, but as a film experience this was a waste of time.

7. The Apparition (2012)

Grab higher or lower?
Grab higher or lower?

This star vehicle for Twilight‘s Ashley Greene had somewhat of an intriguing premise that lasted about two minutes. From then on it was the usual crap you would expect from a generic haunting movie that steals — very poorly, might I add — from horror films you’ve seen over the years, topped off with one heck of a silly, predictable ending.

6. What to Expect When You’re Expecting (2012)

This pic says it all
This pic says it all

I’m actually surprised that this film was not higher on the list. Movies based on bestselling self-help books are made to land on my “worst of” lists, and this one is no different. Star-studded ensemble cast having way too much fun amongst themselves to the boredom and disgust of everyone else. It’s saccharine, manipulative and just plain bad.

5. Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)

Like we haven't seen this before
Like we haven’t seen this before

Paranormal Activity films are a sure thing to land on my “worst of” list every year, and this year is no different. The fourth film in the franchise is more of the same old — filler filler filler, lame scare, filler filler filler, lame ending, all captured on ubiquitous HD cameras. At what point will audiences wake up and realise they’re all the same crap?

4. Red Dawn (2012)

Hey Chris, did you see Kim Jong-un?
Hey Chris, did you see Kim Jong-un?

A teen action flick in the vein of Tomorrow, When the War Began, except the concept simply does not work in a modern setting. Even with Chris Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson carrying the star power this was a film destined to fail from the beginning. I tried, but I just couldn’t get over the fact that absolutely nothing made any sense. The plethora of holes in the plot and the complete lack of logic and common sense made this one of the most unwatchable movies of the year.

3. Piranha 3DD (2012)

I was as appalled as this guy
I was as appalled as this guy

At least this film knew it was going to be bad. Intended to be a so-based-it’s-good guilty pleasure full of crazy violence, gore and gratuitous nudity, Piranha 3DD could be enjoyed by adolescents who “woo” and “ahh” at every severed penis and spray their shorts at the first hint of a sideboob shot. For everyone else, well…watch at your own peril.

2. Smiley (2012)

Smiley is as bad as this scene looks
Smiley is as bad as this scene looks

It’s probably a little unfair that Smiley ranks so high on this list because the budget and expectations were so low. It’s a good example of viral online marketing (that’s how I came across it in the first place) and an even better example of a horrible movie. Nothing about this film could come close to being categorised as even average. From the limp plot to the sad acting to the tsunami of slasher cliches, Smiley is about as appalling a film as you can see (or for your sake, not see). And yet, there is one film in 2012 that tops it.

1. Project X (2012)

project X
Yep, Project X is the worst

In this list I have covered poorly conceived ideas, poorly made films, pretentious films, and films that never had much of a chance of being any good. Project X is worse than all of them and receives the dubious honour of being the worst film of 2012. It’s a reflection of everything that’s wrong with the western world, but rather than sending a warning about it, Project X celebrates it with a debaucherous party that is supposed to be humorous. Instead, it’s the most unfunny and unattractive film of the year, and the vinegar-laced mean spirit that runs through it also makes it by far the most loathsome.

Dishonourable mentions: About Cherry, Cosmopolis, Fire with Fire, That’s My Boy, Alex Cross, Resident Evil: Retribution

PS: Up next, my top 10 films of 2012!

2012 Movie Blitz: Part 13

And the blitz continues. We’re heading towards November 2013 and I still haven’t done my best and worst lists of 2012. The heat is on!

Rock of Ages (2012)

rock-of-ages-poster

Not usually a fan of musicals (The Sound of Music being an exception, of course) but Rock of Ages seemed like it had potential because of the classic ballads and the fact that it featured stars you thought couldn’t sign, such as Tom Cruise and Alec Baldwin.

Based on the Broadway musical of the same name, Rock of Ages is your typical romantic comedy about a young girl (Julianne Hough) who leaves everything behind to venture to the big city to chase her dream of becoming a star but learns things are a lot messier and more difficult than she imagined.

I enjoyed the film not because of the story it had to tell because of the stars. Tom Cruise really surprised me and stole the show somewhat with his performance as disillusioned rocker Stacee Jaxxx. The Scientologist can sing! It was also good to see the likes of Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, Malin Ackerman, Catherine Zeta-Jones and of course Bryan Cranston having fun with their respective roles.

It’s overlong, bland, cliched, cheesy and not especially romantic or funny, but audiences who like the music in it (Hit Me with Your Best Shot, More Than Words, Wanted Dead or Alive, I Wanna Know What Love Is, etc) might be able to overlook some of these flaws. It’s not a memorable musical movie like say Chicago, but Rock of Ages could have been a lot worse (like say Mamma Mia).

3 stars out of 5

The Man with the Iron Fists (2012)

man with iron

I get what they were trying to do with this movie, or at least I think I do. A farcical, satirical, yet semi-serious American martial arts film paying homage to the classic HK kung fu movies — the unintentionally hilarious dubbed ones — Quentin Tarantino loves so much. And yet the movie is directed by and stars rapper RZA, plus a cast including Russell Crowe and just about every Asian actor in and on the outskirts of Hollywood.

The story is set in ancient China and is about a blacksmith (RZA) entangled in warring clans. Needless to say, he ends up turning into titular character and takes on a bunch of kung fu badasses led by MMA fighter David Bautista. Crazy fight scenes, bloody violence and cheesy melodrama ensue.

The result is a mixed bag. But if you’re looking for a parody-type laugh and some half decent kung fu scenes, then The Man with the Iron Fists is OK. Not great, not horrible, but just OK. It’s intentionally silly and means well, but it walks a strange line the feels awkwardly out of place. The problem is that it doesn’t really offer anything original or exciting. The target audience — fans of such films — will enjoy it, but for mainstream audiences the message could be lost in the translation.

2.25 stars out of 5

Here Comes the Boom (2012)

HERE_COMES_THE_BOOM-Poster_596x951

I was really surprised with this one because I don’t exactly equate Kevin James to a leading man in a good comedy. The style of his comedy often feels too obvious to me, which makes him a better sidekick — or so I thought.

Here Comes the Boom is what I would call an effective family-comedy-slash-inspiring-underdog-story. Kevin James is a disillusioned biology teacher who turns to paid MMA fighting to help out a music teacher (played by Henry Winkler) struggling from funding problems. Winkler, doing his best Arrested Development Barry Zuckerkorn impression (making him the by far the best thing about the whole movie), helps James out in his corner with the aid of a trainer trying to gain his American citizenship, while fellow teacher and love interest Salma Hayek tends to his many wounds.

It’s a ridiculous premise that’s pure fantasy, especially if you consider James’s physique, but that’s what underdog movies are all about. The fight scenes are done pretty well and there’s not much to dislike about the film despite how generic it feels at times.

The reason why Here Comes the Boom works is because it doesn’t take itself too seriously but is amusing enough and the characters are likable enough to get the job done. Look, it’s not Warrior, the best MMA movie of all time, but it’s not exactly Never Back Down 2 (one of the worst MMA movies of all time) either. It definitely could have been funnier and the plot could have been stronger, but I think despite its flaws and lack of memorability, its scaled back violence, easy-to-get humour and heart-filled message makes Here Comes the Boom a good DVD choice for kids and families to enjoy.

3.25 stars out of 5

Rites of Passage (2012)

rites of passage

Wow. Christian Slater. Stephen Dorff, Wes Bentley. All guys who had promising careers at one stage. Slater was the man for a while (check out this list: Heathers, The Wizard, Young Guns II, Pump Up the Volume, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Untamed Heart, True Romance, Interview with the Vampire, Broken Arrow, Hard Rain — those are his major hits from 1988 to 1998). Dorff was in one of my favourite horror movies as a kid, The Gate, and hit the big time with The Power of One in 1992, though for some reason the biggest movie he did after that was Blade. As for Bentley, he was supposed to be IT after American Beauty, and your guess on what happened to him is as good as mine.

But I digress. All three guys are in Rites of Passage and it’s a straight-t0-DVD piece of crap. Basically, it’s about an anthropology college student (some random) who wants a right of passage to transition himself to manhood. He takes his college buddies to a ranch along with his buffed professor (Dorff) and runs into his brother (Bentley), who a psycho addicted to psychedelic drugs. And also hanging around is a psycho hillbilly (Slater) who talks to…wait for it…a monkey sock puppet. By the way, this is a slasher movie.

Piles of cliches, plenty of stupidity and hordes of unlikable douchey characters, though I admit there was also some occasional entertainment, mostly from watching Christian Slater talk to a monkey sock puppet. I just don’t know what to think of this film. It was just so silly and trite that I thought I might have been having a wild fantasy nightmare. I mean, just look at the poster. It says it all.

1.5 stars out of 5