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The 10 Worst Films of 2012

As good as some films in 2012 were, there were also some stinkers – and thankfully we avoided seeing all of them (hence, some notable omissions!). But over the course of our film-going there were still some unsavoury movies, and some unnecessarily bad ones.

Wrath of the Titans, for instance, marked the summer blockbuster sequel at its worst, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 felt wholly unnecessary, and Adam Sandler continued to make bad career choices (with poor box office returns, finally, to match).

And then there were the massive disappointments, such as Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master or Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit. But which films made our top 10 turkeys?

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

10) Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

What’s the story? A young, possibly mentally unstable Oskar (Thomas Horn) attempts to come to terms with the loss of his father (Tom Hanks) in the attack on the Twin Towers by setting himself the task of solving the mystery behind a key he finds in the closet of his mother (Sandra Bullock) among his late dad’s things. It’s a quest that takes him into the lives of several other New Yorkers and for which he also enlists the help of a grumpy, non-speaking possible family member (Max Von Sydow) from across the street..

Why so bad?: Stephen Daldry’s film plays out like a fairytale wrapped in a nightmare as the innocent Oskar overcomes his own pain and guilt by bringing a little balance to the lives of those he also touches… But Horn lacks the charm needed to make his journey heart-warming, emerging as bratty and precocious instead, while Eric Roth’s screenplay does him few favours. Daldry’s direction also seems designed to manipulate emotions with awards nominations in mind

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9) Gone

What’s the story? Jill (Amanda Seyfried) returns home after a night shift at a diner to find her sister missing. Convinced she has been abducted by the same serial killer who tried unsuccessfully to kill her the year before she embarks on a race against time to save her sister. But the police aren’t interested, given the lack of evidence surrounding Jill’s original claim and her history with mental illness, and instead begin to keep an eye on her.

Why so bad?: Amanda Seyfried’s Gone is a suspense thriller that’s neither suspenseful nor thrilling. Rather it’s a pedestrian and increasingly stupid film that was inspired by a ‘kernel’ of an idea, namely a girl alone in the woods, trapped in a hole. The contrived nature of the screenplay stretches credibility and opts for the absurd, right down to the preposterous – yet still underwhelming – climax.

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The Watch

8) The Watch

What’s the story? Evan (Ben Stiller) is an industrious do-gooder who is appalled when a night guard at the superstore he manages is found brutally murdered. Resolving to step up for his community, he recruits some fellow concerned citizens (Vaughn, Hill and Ayoade) to form a neighbourhood watch. But he doesn’t bargain on either the slacker and/or ethically wayward tendencies of his colleagues or the fact that the murder was committed by a visiting alien.

Why so bad?: Alien invasion comedy The Watch would appear to have a lot going for it given the quality of its cast and creative team. Sadly, it’s an ill-judged and often painfully unfunny experience… whenever the film scores a comedic hit it quickly undermines it by resorting back to juvenile sex jokes, crass buddy bonding and contrived set piece situations. A recurring gag involving Stiller’s inability to give his wife kids is particularly poorly-handled given the sensitivity of the issue and is therefore really offensive.

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Now Is Good

7) Now Is Good

What’s the story? Tessa Scott (Dakota Fanning), a terminally ill teenager suffering from leukaemia, draws up a bucket list of things to do to the consternation of her dad (Paddy Considine). At first, the list is full of rebellious things such as one night stands and shoplifting but once Tessa meets boy-next-door Adam (War Horse‘s Jeremy Irvine), she begins to appreciate the finer things in life such as falling in love for the first time.

Why so bad?: Now is probably a good time to point out that Ol Parker’s latest film isn’t particularly good. Yes, it’ll probably leave you in floods of tears (judging by the chorus of sniffing and nose blowing that accompanied my screening) but it struggles to avoid feeling both manipulative and formulaic… In the final analysis, Now Is Good feels every bit as forced and patronising as his screenplay for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel earlier this year, which also probably means that mainstream viewers will go all gooey for what it has to offer.

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Wrath of the Titans

6) Wrath of the Titans

What’s the story? Perseus (once again played by Sam Worthington) comes out of retirement to save his ailing father Zeus (Liam Neeson) and the world from the titans and their leader, Kronos, whose escape from captivity has been made possible by the disloyal Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and Perseus’ brother Ares (Edgar Ramires).

Why so bad?: Jonathan Liebesman’s sequel to Clash of the Titans is an imagined look at a ‘lost myth’ that struggles to escape the feeling that it is anything but a studio cash-in. It uses the same post-conversion 3D as Louis Leterrier’s critically maligned predecessor (meaning that several of the backgrounds are blurred) as well as the same sloppy approach to story and action. This is a sorry, misguided endeavour that deserves to suffer the wrath of anyone fool-hardy enough to pay to see it.

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The Lucky One

5) The Lucky One

What’s the story? A soldier, Logan Thibault (Zac Efron), goes to pick up a photo he has found in the rubble, thereby just evading a bomb that kills several of his colleagues. Crediting the woman (Schilling) in the photo as his guardian angel, he resolves to go looking for her once home, eventually tracking her down to a dog sanctuary. But he is unable to tell her the truth behind his arrival and instead falls in love, invoking the wrath of her jealous ex-husband (Jay R. Ferguson), who also just happens to be the town’s lawman.

Why so bad?: Everything about The Lucky One feels contrived, whether it’s the flimsy plot device driving the central romance or the one dimensional nature of most of the characters. Yet even these failures pale by comparison to the big bug bear concerning the film’s shallow depiction of Efron’s war veteran, which paints a romantic gloss over the harsher reality of the Iraq war. You expect a certain amount of schmaltz from Sparks but setting it against such a raw backdrop feels ill-advised.

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Project X

4) Project X

What’s the story? Three nerds (Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper and Jonathan Daniel Brown) look to overcome their high school anonymity by throwing the most epic house party ever, only to find the event spins hopelessly beyond their control.

Why so bad?: The latest film to exploit the found footage genre, Project X is also a Superbad wannabe that wholeheartedly embraces the anarchic style of producer Todd Philips’ various movies. In doing so, however, it forgets to include any of the heart that comes with the best examples of the genre, piling on the excess to such a degree that it invites accusations of sexism and bad taste… Where the anarchic spirit triumphed in films like The Hangover, here it merely hangs like a rock around the film’s neck.

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The Three Stooges

3) The Three Stooges

What’s the story? Split into three episodes, finds three hapless orphan brothers – Moe, Larry and Curly – attempting to save their beloved orphanage from closure by raising the required funds but, instead, stumbling into a murder plot.

Why so bad?: The Farrelly brothers would seem perfectly suited to bringing a modern update of comedy legends The Three Stooges to the big screen given both their long-held affection for the trio and the fact that one of their own best films, Dumb & Dumber, lends itself well to that kind of slapstick humour. Sadly, this new incarnation of The Three Stooges is a disappointing effort that struggles to work on any comedic level. It’s often painfully laboured and unfunny and will struggle to hold the interest of even the most juvenile minds.

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The Iron Lady

2) The Iron Lady

What’s the story? An imagined look at the life of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (Meryl Streep) now that she has reached old age and attempts to cope with the onset of dementia.

Why so bad?: How much does a great performance mask a bad film? Well, in the case of The Iron Lady not nearly enough. While many are predicting an awards windfall for Meryl Streep’s portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in Phyllida Lloyd’s film, few are probably anticipating just how pointless and – as a result – toothless the ensuing movie is. Overall, the film feels particularly soft and lacking in authority… something that could never be said for the woman herself. And that is surely a damning verdict in itself.

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Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger!

1) Nativity 2: Danger In The Manger!

What’s the story? St. Bernadette’s gets a new teacher in the form of the amiable Mr Peterson (David Tennant), whose wife is expecting their first child and who has been forced to live in the shadow of his much more successful twin brother, Roderick (also played by Tennant). Coerced by the school’s juvenile classroom assistant Mr Poppy (Marc Wootton) into taking his new young charges to the Song For Christmas talent competition in Wales, Mr Peterson and kids subsequently embark on an adventure that sees them getting lost in forests and up mountains and finally competing against Roderick in the competition.

Why so bad?: It’s difficult to remember a film more annoying this year than Nativity 2: Danger In The Manger! From hysterical start to onerous finish, this is a film that grates at every opportunity because of a non-existent script, a cluster of irritating performances, countless Christmas-themed songs and a story so inept that it should never have made it past the page. The film is a truly abysmal experience that really has nothing to redeem it.

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