Jeremy’s Biggest Disappointments Of 2012


The end of the year is drawing near, which means you can bet your ass that we’re going to have a ton of lists to throw at you before we call it a year. Everyone is going over their top films of the year, but we figured it would be best to get the worst out of the way first and then move onto the good stuff. 2012 was certainly a great year for cinema. The rise of the summer blockbuster and then the ending of the Twilight Saga meant a big year at the box office. But among the greatness there was a big handful of films that just flat-out disappointed me. Some of these films had the odds stacked against them going in, while others had no right to be nearly as bad as they turned out. Perhaps we can learn from our mistakes for next year?

Featured on this list are a lot of titles that aren’t completely horrible, but ones that either had incredible worth-of-mouth leading into release or a perfect alignment of cast and crew that hinted at greatness. Now I know it’s not fair to judge a film on the hype, but not once does that come into play here. At the end of the day the films on this list made it here because they were below-average or hardly passable, when they should have excelled. This is of course just my personal list of disappointments and it shouldn’t be taken as anything more than one man’s ramblings.

The Five-Year Engagement


I actually liked the first quarter of this film a lot. It reminded me of classic Nicholas Stoller/Jason Segel comedy, mixed with a little Emily Blunt. It had all of the ingredients for a nice little R-rated comedy during the beginning part of the year, yet it fell flat and never managed to find its pulse. Stoller has never had a problem with comedy before, working with Segel on Forgetting Sarah Marshall and also directing Get Him to the Greek, yet The Five-Year Engagement feels sort of like a comedy based on a good concept, but with not much thought put into it.

I’d like to stress how much I enjoyed the first part of the film, because there’s a lot of comedy that works well. Segel lends another one of his likable leading performances and Blunt matches up perfectly with him. The two share strong chemistry throughout, but it’s in the writing where the film gets a little thin and flimsy. There’s a turning point in the film where the couple’s relationship is tested and it is at this precise moment that the film stops being a comedy with dramatic elements and instead becomes a drama with little comedy and not much holding it together. Characters eventually resolve their issues in a predictable fashion, but by that point you’ve already forgotten about how they got into the situation and why you should even bother caring. Again, not a bad movie, but incredibly disappointing when looking at the director’s previous work.



Usually when Luc Besson‘s name is attached to an action film you can at the very least expect some great-looking action. That’s not the case for newcomer directors James Mather and Stephen St. Leger. The two clearly couldn’t work out Besson’s idea for a crazy space shoot ’em film up with Guy Pearce playing the leading bad-ass. The shoddy CGI combined with the PG-13 rating and over-abundance of cringe-worthy dialogue makes this one barely worth a rental.



Mark Wahlberg might not be the best action star (see Max Payne), but he’s usually at the very least an entertaining lead. He’s very by-the-books when it comes to studio action projects, but give him an R-rating and a supporting cast like Ben Foster and Kate Beckinsale and he should be able to turn up something watchable. That’s not the case with Contraband. This poorly shot film from Universal shows you the boring side of smuggling drugs and illegal items in by boat. You’d think at some point there would be a shootout or something, but the director does his best to keep the action to a minimum while Giovanni Ribisi‘s horrible accent gets center stage.

The Man With the Iron Fists


RZA gets some slack for this one, being his directorial debut and all. But at the end of the day the biggest problem with Iron Fists is the fact that it contains too much poorly-written dialogue and rushed effects and not enough old-school kung-fu fighting. RZA shoots this one with lots of style and artistry when it comes to the sets and staging the action, but then he bogs the film down with dialogue that’s flat and unappetizing to his actors like Russell Crowe and at one point even Dave Bautista seems to get lost in the shuffle of the misguided direction.

Taken 2


I can’t say that I was even looking forward to this one, yet it still managed to sink far below most other passable action flicks that came out this year. Taken was a surprise hit at the box office and an effective revenge flick that worked because of its stylistic directing and brutal action. Liam Neeson sort of blew up after that and became the go-to bad-ass. This time around he returns for a tamer and much blander approach to the exact same story.

Safe House


Denzel Washington as a bad-ass. Check. Ryan Reynolds as the confused young rookie check. Two hours of frantic shaky cam and a predictable (and unnecessary) twist ending. Checkmate! I’m not sure how such a simple premise with two more-than-capable leads could end up anywhere near being called a disappointing movie, but Safe House really did fail to create anything original or even appealing. It borrows Washington’s Training Day character and gives Reynolds nothing to do aside from acting like a complete idiot. The two spend most of their time on the run from an agency for an hour before the eventual shootout. The feeling of always looking over your shoulder in complete confusion is conveyed by director Daniel Espinosa via shaky cam and over-saturated shots. Pedestrian move by a director who doesn’t know how to take advantage of the tools (and budget) given to him.



Aside from a great performance by Dane DeHaan, Chronicle is mostly director Josh Trank using the found-footage element in a clever way, but never utilizing it to connect us with any of the core characters. The story unfolds in a realistic fashion that feels like the direct result of a bunch of teens discovering hidden powers, but Trank never captures the actual human emotion and instead focuses on showing us how unsympathetic you can be towards a character. I really wanted to like this one, but not once did I care about a single thing happening on the screen.

The Hunger Games


Is it a big surprise that I didn’t like this one? Everything leading to this film’s release was iffy, yet a spark of strong early reviews and reactions had me walking in with slight excitement. I ended up walking out two hours later with a feeling of complete disappointment. The Hunger Games was just a knockoff of every other futuristic dystopian society-based setting, with a story that substituted with more style than substance. Even disregarding the film’s unoriginal story you’re still left with director Gary Ross‘ unwatchable camera work. Ross clearly cares more about showing off flaming dresses and characters that show up for ten minutes, but serve no purpose to the film’s overall agenda, just so that he can claim that he’s being faithful to the book, while also establishing his own gritty tone. None of this works and The Hunger Games suffers because of it. The pacing is off, with actual chunks of the film wasted on characters sitting around a tree and then when the action does kick into high gear we’re greeted with a camera that’s either tipped over on the floor or up in a tree looking in the other direction.

It’s hard to connect with these paper-thin characters when we can’t even tell them apart.

The Bourne Legacy


Director Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon stepping away from a Bourne entry should have spelled disaster right away, but Jeremy Renner and Tony Gilroy are two intelligent men that could easily suit the spy thriller series right? Plus there’s Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton to help even out the supporting players. Still, underneath all of this potential rests a film that completely betrays the action-oriented first-class spying established by Damon and Greengrass. Legacy is a poor man’s spy film. It relies too much on a plot with Renner that never goes anywhere and just when things to start to shape up Gilroy cuts the strings and ends the film on a low note. The Bourne Legacy is 1/3rd a Bourne movie and 2/3rd’s a lost episode for any generic spy show circulating your local cable channels at 3 in the morning.

Silver Linings Playbook


It pains me to say this, but I absolutely could not find anything to praise about David O. Russell‘s latest wacky drama. Silver Linings at its best shows us that Chris Tucker can still act and that Robert De Niro occasionally cares about his career choices. Other than that we’ve got an oddball pairing between Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper that in its favor works, but never sticks. The story is quirky enough to be labeled an O. Russell film, but it never charms you as much as his past work. This is not a bad movie by any means. It’s just one that shouldn’t be anywhere near the Oscars or any other awards show. It’s perfectly fine working as an indie drama with a good cast and an offbeat story.

Beasts of the Southern Wild


Beasts of the Southern Wild is another one that baffles me. The performances in this one are much stronger than say Silver Linings, but at what point does the story actually start and end? I give the director my complete respect for creating a tangible world that his characters play in, but most of the story is shot from a distance, never allowing you to latch onto any of the number of interesting characters seen in the film. Beasts is a film that deserves a nod or two for being incredibly unique, but at the end of the day I never felt the need to revisit the world of the Bathtub.



I hate throwing out the words Oscar bait, but Steven Spielberg‘s latest bloated political drama is just that. Take away Daniel Day-Lewis‘ embodying performance and you’re left with a film that gets by on repeating the same message over and over. It’s an important one, but that doesn’t mean the film deserves a pass for good intentions. Known actors like Joseph Gordon-Levitt are given throwaway roles that have importance when facing the facts that the film is based on, but the film never reveals those important moments. Most of the running time is spent on Lincoln sitting in an office telling stories about when he was a child. That’s great and dandy for the first hour, but two more hours becomes time-wasting and nothing more than an acclaimed director stuffing an empty time-slot with the same dialogue over and over until you’ve either fallen asleep or left the theater.

I have no doubts that I’m going to receive a lot of negative feedback for my list or for my reasoning, but that’s fine. I made this list based on films that disappointed me and ones that I couldn’t quite shake from my head. I’ve written reviews for most of these films, so perhaps those will help better identity you with why I didn’t like a particular film. I in no way despise these films, but I just felt that they could have and should have been so much better. Some picks might have been unfairly based on early critical or general buzz, but that doesn’t really matter, because I go into all films with an open mind. I’ve sat through a lot of stuff that I thought for sure I wasn’t going to like, yet against all odds I ended up walking out with a smile on my face.

Maybe the only thing holding me back from enjoying some of these films is a re-watch?

I’d love to hear some feedback though. Do you agree or disagree with any of my picks? Are their films that were released over the year that you were puzzled to see gathering awards nominations or taking the number one spot at the box office? There’s got to be at least or two out there that you don’t agree with. Let me know in the comments section below.

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  • ConstipatedParakeet

    Christ, what DID you like this past year?
    The article was pure troll bait. Guess I’m a troll.

    • http://twitter.com/MinimeJer05 Jeremy Lebens

      I’ll be posting my best-of list shortly. Expect it within a day or two.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sayyaf.mirza Sayyaf Kabir Mirza

    I won’t agree with that list…. Because The Bourne Legacy , Lincoln , Contraband, were Hit Movies. And Chronicles was Super Hit Movie of 2012. As far for ur concern Safe House was Blockbuster nd also The Hunger Games.. They grossed neary to 300 million..
    Otherwise Taken 2 was rated low… But it also groseed 350 million…
    Plz dude dont make any shit next time.. if u dont know abt movies…

    • http://twitter.com/MinimeJer05 Jeremy Lebens

      List wasn’t based on box office intake.

    • JacksonHart

      1) It’s his opinion, not yours

      2) His list wasn’t based off box office.

      You probably shouldn’t comment if you can’t even comprehend what the list is even about…

  • Ryan Deadpooln

    Terrible. Sound too cynical. I will never read any of your crap again.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ShakeITShakeShakeIT Foto Grafia

    Lockout, taken 2 and Chronicle wasn’t disappointing.. they were what they were, they weren’t trying to be something else.. Hunger Games was disappointing though.. it wasn’t greatly transitioned like Harry Potter and LOTR

  • Troll II

    Wow! This list is just a compilation of movies you think would make you sound cool for critisizing. Jeremy’s an idiot.

    • http://twitter.com/MinimeJer05 Jeremy Lebens

      Far from it. I don’t see how anyone could sound “cool” for not liking something.

      • nik

        Jeremy: You’re kidding, right? Have you even been on the internet before?

    • JacksonHart

      I mean…maybe he just didn’t care for the movies as much as others did, therefor leading to him being somewhat disappointed. Would that be possible?

  • Shloggs Horror Blog

    Nice article. I thought Chronicle was a little better than fine, but I would certainly never watch it again. Lockout was lame garbage that should have been way better and The Hunger Games was not very involving for me, but my son liked it a lot. Every other film on this list I purposefully skipped because they did not interest me in the least. Well written stuff Jeremy!

  • pwwilly

    Great article Jeremy! While I have only seen two of the films on your list, I trust your opinion. You give reason for being disappointed in the films. Looking at these comments, ALL good movies are based off box office. All hail Twilight then…

  • merwanor

    Another list of hate and negativity towards movies…. Picking out flaws in movies is like the popular thing to do these days. I have not seen all these movies, but those I have, Safe House, Hunger Games and Chronicle. These movies was more than good enough, I guess I just don’t look for the negative stuff in movies.

    I would rather make a list of the best movies of the year and not even make a list of the most disappointing, as it only spreads negativity.

    • JacksonHart

      Another dude who can’t handle a differing opinion than his own, and can’t accept simple criticism/views on something that he likes himself.

      Can somebody not have a differing opinion? And if he does, is it really necessary to get all upset about it? That’s just pathetic.

    • http://www.facebook.com/scanfieldfilms Sean Canfield

      Seeing as how we are a movie site, we discuss all aspects of movies. We all have ‘Best of’ lists gestating, but as not all of us have seen everything released this year, they won’t be done quite yet (mostly until Django Unchained is released), so it’s not just negativity. This is just the one article you read so far.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=716883232 Eric R. Shelton

    Lockout looked awful from the very first trailer… Which is why it was so awesome! It was just so perfectly and deliciously terrible! A script I would have written when I was 12, combined with hilariously bad dialog and one-liners that seemed like a perfect call-back to Schwarzengger’s best work. It was even better (worse) than I’d hoped, but managed to avoid the bad movie cardinal sin of being boring. It was the best bad movie I saw all year, and goes very near the top of my guilty pleasure list next to Road House, The Replacements, etc.

    • http://twitter.com/MinimeJer05 Jeremy Lebens

      This is EXACTLY what I was hoping for when preparing for Lockout. The only worried thing about it going in was the PG-13 rating. I would have been happier with a full-fledged R, but the concept and the people behind it sounded like it was going to be a complete guilty pleasure, but I was honestly bored to tears with this one.

      I can certainly see why and how you found enjoyment in the film though.

  • nik

    Most of this article is pretty dead on. Remember folks, he never said these were all bad movies, they just didn’t live up the hype. I’ll agree with him.

  • JacksonHart

    Liked the article Jeremy! I personally really enjoyed Lincoln, but I definitely can understand why you would find it a little boring/mundane, because the fact of the matter is it was. I just love historical nonfiction.

    Also…I agree with Chronicle and The Hunger Games. I thought they were incredibly overhyped, especially Chronicle. I at least enjoyed Hunger Games (mostly because I read the book), but overall those 2 movies were real disappointments for me.

    I was surprised to see Beasts of Southern Wild and Silver Linings Playbook on here. I haven’t seen either of these movies, but I’ve heard nothing but good things so far, so I’ll definitely have to check them out and see what I think!

    And don’t listen to these dudes that are bashing you just for having a differing opinion. Amazing what people will get angry at these days…

    • http://twitter.com/MinimeJer05 Jeremy Lebens

      Thanks for the comments JacksonHart! I can certainly see why people liked some of the films that I listed, but they just didn’t sit well with me. Beasts and Silver Linings were probably the two biggest surprise letdowns for me, because everything gearing up to those films was positive.

      I think the comment above yours (from nik) also sums up what I was trying to get across, which was that these were disappointments for me and not necessarily films that I thought were bad.

      Appreciate the comments! Expect a “Surprises of 2012” and “Best of 2012” from me within the week, to hopefully help give the others an idea of what I did like.

  • http://www.facebook.com/scanfieldfilms Sean Canfield

    Until I finished Dark Horse today, Chronicle was on my top 10, by the way. I honestly didn’t watch a lot of really good movies this year, though, I thought most of the blockbusters were very lackluster at best.

  • http://www.facebook.com/HireTheStache Bryan Peabody-Pumpernickel Gia

    This list was the biggest disappointment of my readings today, that’s for sure. I’m all for one having the right to their opinion, and I’m pretty sure you share THESE opinions with very few people.

    There is a reason movies like Taken 2, Lincoln, Bourne & Hunger Games sold so well–because people liked them. But then again, I’m sure your review of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is littered with critic acclaim!

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  • FJoachim

    Lincoln was too dark, color, and boring.