Top Ten Most Disappointing Movies of 2012


The Impossible

Naomi Watts and Tom Holland in The Impossible
Naomi Watts and Tom Holland in The Impossible
Photo: Summit Entertainment


Juan Antonio Bayona‘s The Orphanage was one of my top ten films of 2007. I loved it and consider it one of the best atmospheric horror films I have ever seen. Bayona shows so much promise in that film and with The Impossible he was tackling a massive effort centered on the 2004 tsunami that hit the coast of Thailand.

Like Flight, the opening is excellent, introducing us to the family that will soon become separated once the crushing waves land ashore and the realization of the destruction that took place. However, once the bodies are scattered and the search begins, the melodrama is poured on and poured on and poured on to the extent I could no longer respect the story I was watching and merely wished it would end.

SNIPPET FROM MY REVIEW: (read the full review here)

The most surprising thing is that it was written by Sergio G. Sanchez who wrote The Orphanage for Bayona, a film so subtle and delicate in narrative it practically hums its dramatic beats while The Impossible screams at the top of its lungs. The story consistently beats you over the head to the point you’re numb to the characters’ struggle and resorts to terribly dismissive dialogue in the latter moments that all you can do is begin to chuckle at the contrivances.

Anna Karenina

Keira Knightley in Anna Karenina
Keira Knightley in Anna Karenina
Photo: Focus Features


I love Joe Wright‘s work. Hanna, Pride and Prejudice and Atonement were all in my top ten in their respective years of release. In fact, all three were inside my top three for Anna Karenina as he once again teams with Keira Knightley in a period piece and boldly tackles Leo Tolstoy’s story by setting it all largely on a single stage. It was a gamble guided by imagination, innovation and budget and it, unfortunately, doesn’t pay off.

It’s one thing to respect a director’s decision to do something different and take a risk, it’s another to assume that by doing so it somehow makes what we’re watching better. Wright surely took a risk, but it most certainly didn’t work. It’s directorial masturbation. Wright did everything he could to let the audience know he was taking a risk and he did so to the detriment of his own film.

SNIPPET FROM MY REVIEW: (read the full review here)

Anna Karenina is an example of directorial masturbation at its most damaging. This film comes across as a self-indulgent “art” picture lacking heart, soul and any semblance of emotion. It, and it’s characters, are empty vessels I’d prefer I never spend time with ever again. […]

With Wright’s talents as a filmmaker it would seem he either bit off more than he could chew with his decision for a stage set story or he depended on the manner in which he was telling the story more than the story itself. Either way, the result is a period-set soap opera with lavish production design and over-the-top and forced performances.

Again, I go into much more detail in my review.

Seven Psychopaths

Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell in Seven Psychopaths
Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell in Seven Psychopaths
Photo: CBS Films


My anticipation for Seven Psychopaths was similar to that of The Impossible. Like Bayona, I had only seen one of Martin McDonagh‘s films, but In Bruges was so unexpected and so spectacular I couldn’t help but be excited for what he was going to offer next. Then came the casting… Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Olga Kurylenko, Tom Waits and Abbie Cornish. Now that’s a line-up, especially given McDonagh’s particular flair for witty dialogue and character.

Unfortunately, Seven Psychopaths is hardly a movie. In fact, it’s entire narrative is detrimental to the overall goal of telling a story as it follows the narrative of a screenwriter (Farrell) stuck with perpetual writer’s block. The film suffers along with Farrell.

On the positive side, this is one of Walken’s best performances ever and there are some great moments such as Rockwell acting out what would make for the perfect shootout. But all the more disappointing is the fact I probably won’t take the time to experience any of what’s good again, because the movie itself is such a dud.

SNIPPET FROM MY REVIEW: (read the full review here)

The story feels like its on life support and needs a jump start every five minutes or so. And with a film that runs 11 minutes shy of two hours, that’s a lot of ups and downs.

So that does it for me. I’ve listed, in order, my ten most disappointing movies from 2012 below.

  1. Seven Psychopaths
  2. Anna Karenina
  3. The Impossible
  4. Brave
  5. Ted
  6. The Bourne Legacy
  7. Flight
  8. Savages
  9. Damsels in Distress
  10. To Rome with Love

Previous Lists of Disappointments

I’ve only listed my disappointments in this fashion two times before and both are linked below.

Now how about you? What were your disappointments at the cinema this year? And remember, disappointing doesn’t mean the film was bad (although it can mean that), but that it simply didn’t live up to your expectations, wants and desires.

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