In My Opinion: Top Ten Biggest Disappointments of 2009

ON
Ten films that didn’t live up to expectations
Ten Most Disappointing Films of 2009

This year I’ve decided I’m not going to write a “Worst of 2009” list. What’s the point? If you must you can visit the review archives for 2009, sort by grade and find my reviews of Fanboys, The Last House on the Left, All About Steve and I Love You Beth Cooper and then fill in six of your choosing from the “D” section and be done with it. Instead, I’m going back to what I’ve done only one other time and going to take a look back at the films that ended up disappointing me on one lever or another.

This way I don’t have to talk about The Marc Pease Experience or Bride Wars. Year One and Whiteout don’t need further dicussion and neither does G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra of Fighting. Instead I can add a few titles that actually earned as high as a “B” rating from me when I reviewed them. After all, expectations are the thing that hold the most power over your final opinion.

Before I get to my list of ten I first wanted to make sure to cover one film that just missed the list, John Hillcoat’s The Road. This was a film I covered to a great degree on this site and went from “highly anticipating” to simply “wanting to see,” just to see how it turned out. Trailers and consistent delays of the release date all but destroyed my expectations and as it turned out the film never managed to move me anymore than I assumed it would. This is the reason it didn’t make my final list of ten seeing how it didn’t necessarily disappoint me as much as it ultimately lived up to my lowered expectations. However, it is one of the few films from this year I am still anticipating a second viewing in hopes it may change my opinion. We’ll see.

Now, for the ten. And remember, these are the most disappointing, not a worst of list — an important distinction.

District 9
You are going to notice a trend when it comes to the first three films on this list, and that’s the fact all three were previewed and hyped to such a massive extent by the online masses, and unfortunately I allowed that hype to cloud my expectations. Things began for District 9 at Comic Con in San Diego, an event I have since decided I will no longer be attending. Movies are about more than just avenues for marketing fodder and that’s exactly the trend Comic Con encourages and is starting to take over online film coverage.

District 9 had its first full audience screening at the comic book convention this past summer and afterward several of the online outlets sat down with producer Peter Jackson and then attended an after party and had a few drinks with him and I believe director Neill Blomkamp was in attendance but I can’t be so sure. Now, I’m not saying the circumstances affected these people’s opinions of the film, but I have a hard time believing it didn’t amplify the experience.

District 9 has since earned plenty of kudos and during this awards season it has made a few top ten lists and even been awarded for its screenplay, so people obviously like it and it has stuck with them. Good for them, but after watching it again on Blu-ray over the weekend it’s appeal has even lessened for me since giving it a “B” when I reviewed it theatrically. I’m not sure I will ever return to watch it again and that “B” is one of the few grades I handed out this year I am beginning to regret.

Terminator Salvation
This one was also previewed at Comic Con and if you just go back and read my report from the Comic Con panel you can tell how excited I was after watching the presentation. Then the movie was released and what a disappointment all around. I will admit the film works much better at home where there are no expectations and you can occupy your mind with other things while it is playing, but this one was a real bummer.
The Final Destination
And here we have the third film in a row that never managed to live up to its Comic Con appearance. Warner Bros/New Line put together a five minute 3-D presentation of The Final Destination at the convention and it was a gory romp of entertainment. It seemed like so much fun, in fact, I began to wonder if all the good parts had been shown… They had. The final product was nothing more than the five minutes I saw at Comic Con surrounded by another 77 minutes of tedium. Perhaps the main lesson to learn is to lower expectations on all films previewed at Comic Con. Other than notable exceptions such as Iron Man and Avatar, what has really come out of the convention and managed to really impress? 300? Even that film has lessened its appeal over the years. Oh, I will say Pixar’s films have been received well, so that is definitely an exception.

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