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TOH! Worst Movies of 2012

TOH! Worst Movies of 2012

Anne Thompson and TOH! writers Maggie Lange, Beth Hanna, Matt Brennan, and Jacob Combs share their picks for Worst Movies of 2012. Somehow Greta Gerwig, “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Prometheus” rate mentions on more than one list.

Anne Thompson

It’s a badge of honor for me to try to avoid the obvious bad movies.  But sometimes I feel obligated to see the big-budget studio train wrecks I saw coming a mile away, such as “John Carter” and “Battleship,” two of the worst movies of 2012.

But there were five more that were even worse:

5. Promised Land – It’s not Gus Van Sant’s fault that he couldn’t save this anti-fracking diatribe written by Matt Damon and John Krasinki. Nobody could have.

4. The Words – Another case where the script is the villain. Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, Dennis Quaid and Jeremy Irons do their best to bring to life this unbelievable pretzel-twisted story within a story within a story.

3. “Hyde Park on Hudson” – Roger Michell’s misguided and inaccurate depiction of King Bertie’s visit to FDR makes one of our greatest presidents look like a dirty old man stamp collector.

2. “Rock of Ages” – While this stage-to-screen musical proves that Tom Cruise is one of our last remaining must-see movie stars, Adam Shankman (“Hairspray”) botched this jarring and ugly movie that was intended to pull straight males into watching a musical. Bad concept.

1. “The Oranges” – This painfully icky suburban relationship drama concerns a lonely dad (Hugh Laurie) with a wife (Catherine Keener) and grown daughter (Alia Shawkat) who thinks it’s a good idea to have an affair with the lonely daughter (Leighton Meester) of his next door neighbor pals (Oliver Platt and Allison Janney). Complications ensue.

Maggie Lange

Something about the overblown big-screen absurdity of “Prometheus,” “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” and “John Carter” enthralled me. “The Dark Knight Rises” was pompous, heavy-handed, and stolid, but  Damsels in Distress wins my vote for the worst movie of 2012. Senseless, stupid, and anemic, Whit Stillman’s bid for a comeback dilly-dallied about with faltering steps and an utter lack of grace–despite Greta Gerwig’s stalwart attempts to keep things interesting.

Beth Hanna

Lola Versus”: It takes a lot to make Greta Gerwig repellent, but somehow this depressingly boring, self-impressed “romantic comedy” (which is neither romantic nor funny) does so quite effectively. Zoe Lister Jones is cringe-worthy as Lola’s oversexed best friend; she references vaginas a lot — how edgy!

Jacob Combs

“Prometheus”: I went in with such high expectations, and found weird, gross-out, sexually uncomfortable imagery and characters with no smarts (i.e., let’s touch this mysterious snake-like thing that looks dangerous; let’s run in a straight line from a rolling spaceship instead of stepping one foot to the right or left and being saved). Other than Michael Fassbender as an android, everything else in this film made it a huge disappointment.

Matt Brennan

I had trouble coming up with a nominee for “worst” movie, with all the usual caveats. I could not possibly have seen all of the bad movies worth considering, and how do you define “worst,” anyway? “The Words” — structurally unsound and stylistically forgettable, with a maddeningly empty and self-important understanding of love, language, and art — was the foremost contender.

But the film that remains stuck in my craw all these months later is “The Dark Knight Rises,” a brutalist monument to conservatism that paints the disaffected and impoverished as terrorists, thieves, misanthropes, and deformities. I know full well that to criticize the merest inflection of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy is to invite ad hominem attacks along with well-reasoned disagreements, and perhaps that’s why the film’s politics remain so menacingly above reproach.

But amid all of the controversy surrounding “Django Unchained” and “Zero Dark Thirty,” it would do to remember that many more people saw, and loved, Nolan’s cruelly violent vision of a society railroaded by Occupy-style mob rule. “The Dark Knight Rises” makes radical democracy the hostage of madmen, ordinary folks bloodthirsty criminals, and the idle rich saviors of us all. Mitt Romney himself could not have vilified the 47 percent with more unnerving vigor.

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Sean Malone

Cloud Atlas is one of the worse movies I've ever seen, let alone one this past year.

Tieuel Legacy! Motion

Simply put…What?

And I say this nicely.
Can Matt and Maggie please explain what they typed? This isn't a science fair project, it's somewhat of a film review. What really makes these films fit into the 5 worst films of the year?

I understand that everyone has their opinions but my guess is that "Worst Movie of the Year" doesn't mean "Movie That Didn't Meet the Expectations of Its Predecessor". There's no way that Dark Knight Rises is the worst movie of the year unless you only saw one movie. Then there's an argument that it's also the best movie of the year.

I can see the film not being meant for everyone yet it's still very well crafted and well written. Technically, the effects, camera angles, lighting, and sound engineering are all top notch. (note: I believe that most issues with Bane's voice and dialect were also purposefully done to a certain extent.) If the theme isn't up to par with what you like, it doesn't drag down the entire film. The opening sequence alone deserves applause.


I'm no batman fanboy. In fact, I feel like The Dark Knight is one of the most overrated films I've ever seen (If, we are operating under the common claim that it is some all time great film). But Matt Brennan's review of The Dark Knight Raises is laughably stupid. It wasn't meant as a shot at Occupy Wall Street or any other dangerously misguided political group. Mr. Brennan should be embarrassed to publish such nonsense.

Will Heather

Matt Brennan, you are entitled to your opinion, as is everyone, but seriously, there are far worse films than The Dark Knight Rises. I am a huge fan of Christopher Nolan, and his work on the Batman franchise not only saved it but redesigned the superhero (vigilante) genre. 'TDKR' is an intelligent, sophisticated, in depth and provocative blockbuster (which are few and far between these days) and I strongly disagree with your statement. There are hundreds of films every year with only one purpose; to make money, and it shows in their lack of thought and coherence to the narrative and many other aspects of film-making, such as 'That's my Boy', 'Piranha 3DD' and 'Battleship'. Although 'TDKR' is flawed, it is by far the worst film of the year and it is quite shocking that you have made this claims (unless that was your marketing strategy – if so, it worked).


I really don't get it. Why do critics slam "The Words"? I really loved that movie.



relax man, its a movie, entertainment dude. smoke a joint bro calm down

Royal Brown

The two worst movies of the year–by far–are Moonrise Kingdom, that peon to underage sex and parental stereotypes (and some of the worst acting I've ever seen), and The Master, although I probably should hold my tongue on this one, since I walked out on it.


How bout WEST OF MEMPHIS? This atrocity called a "documentary" was overloaded by rich,liberal media assholes looking to make the acquittal of 3 murderers some anti-authoritarian project. These scumbags(it was produced by 1 of the murderers)attempted to make the 3 boys who confessed to murdering children look innocent by criminalising some man who was stepfather to a victim.It was cowardly & repellent on the part of the murderers & their jackoff movie & rock star supporters. If a Dixie Chick (Natalie Maines) supports u in anything,u should be executed.So should she. These creeps signed a confession in order to be released from prison.What's the USA coming to? We're a nation of crooks,liars,thieves & cowards.Fuck Obama.

Brian Reeves

I think you're reading way too much into the politics of TDKR… which was flawed and a letdown for other valid reasons. The "revolution" orchestrated by the villain Bane basically began with him incapacitating the police, and releasing a ton of gun-toting, violent prisoners back into society… they–or the terrorists who freed them–would have the most immediate means to depose the wealthy from their homes. However before that, he makes a point to say that it's one of their own, a citizen, who holds the key/detonator to their destruction, thereby turning them against one another… basically releasing anarchy. If the film meant to depict the kind of working class rebellion that you imply, why didn't it show Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman, the film's one major black character) or Alfred (Michael Caine, both a Brit and a butler/servant in the film) just take up guns themselves and make themselves at home in some 1%er's mansion? (and let's not forget that the previous film ended with the "criminal class" being the ones to exhibit a conscience, and decide against bombing and murdering a bunch of strangers to save themselves?). Whether you want to read into it is fine, but again, as many people here have pointed out, the film was already written and well into production by the time the Occupy Movement gained momentum… I mean, why not just humor Rush Limbaugh's theory's on Bane being a reference to Romney's Bain Capitol while you're at it?


I guess nobody saw Savages….I wish I could say I did'nt see it either.


You're right. That running in a straight line from a rolling spaceship still puzzles me.


The list is truly an opinion because The Words was an excellent uniquely told story capturing the desperation of a writer's desire for greatness and the choices he made–Excellent movie. Maybe to some, the move should be one of the worst, but to me, I loved it. The movie may not be what some expected, but when identifying worst movies of all time, most likely should be considering plotting and referring to movies like Bo Derek's Bolero (1984). For now, will disagree on The Words.

D. J. Fone

My worst of the year was "The Odd Life of Timothy Green", though the kid himself was terrific.

If Ben Affleck ever wants to divorce Jennifer Garner, all he has to do is play the bit with her and Joel Edgerton (and the kid) acting out the War song "Low Rider", and he'll never have to pay a dime in alimony. I'll never hear that song again without that nauseating visual.


Sparkle is the worst.

Richard Sol

The media are still carrying Obama's water for him as demonstrated by Matt Brennan. Obama openly proposed using welfare recipients as a left-wing voting block – but Romney is attacked for stating Obama's approach has been working.


This list cannot be complete without the worst movie of 2012… JOHN CARTER!!!


TDKR is the worst film of the year?? hahaha….
Ok Matt Brennan, obviously you just want to have your 15 seconds of fame, so let's all count together, shall we? 15…14…13…12…11..10…9…8…7…6…5…5…4…3…2…1… done.
Grow up.


the political side of TDKR is a subplot. The main story is a personal one about Bruce. Its about the consequences of his actions, his decline and subsequent rise, his personal struggle for freedom from his alter ego and his attempt to save Gotham from 'being allowed to die' (as Ra's Al Ghul put it), and his relationship with Alfred, Gordon, His corporation and the city as a whole. Its also about showing that Bruce isn't the only hero in Gotham, that it could be anybody. It was designed as a conclusion to Bruce's journey, but -as usual- people are over-analysing Nolan. But I guess you people are too stupid to realize that.


To Matt Brennan,

Mitt Romney's 47% (if it even exists) is not comprised of mainly prisoners, reprobates, and criminals as is seen in The Dark Knight Rises. I don't see TDKR as a vilification of whatever the 47% was supposed to be. I really don't. Because it is not just members of that supposed 47% that rob, rape, and loot whenever society breaks down as a whole.


I agree with almost every movie on this list except darknight rises. I don't think it was the worst, The Amazing Spiderman was way more terrible. Prometheus and battleship I didn't even bother, I just knew they were gonna be bad. Damsel in distress was a waste of 2hrs of my life that I'll never get back, John Carter was unbearable, Rock of ages was a boring disaster I tried watching it on the plane, but it my system couldn't take it. I ended up watching an indian movie with no subtitles and the only "indian" word I know is "nehi", Yup it was that bad. Everyother movie I absolutely agree. But there's a movie that didn't make the list and I absolutely think it should. The remake of Total Recall!!!!!!!!!! That was boredom central. They managed to make 3 wonderful actors look bad. The acting looked very mediocre, like they were some wannabe reality tv stars that caught a break. They just tried to dazzle us with the excessive technological bullshit.


anyone with half a brain and a remote can clearly see in prometheus that the two chicks are altering their course the entire time; and biologists like to thumb buttholes of strange things: look at steve irwin's corpse.


Good list. It could be my list as well.
I also do agree with comments about The Dark Knight Rises and especially Prometheus.
Scott's movie is probably my biggest disappointed ever. I try to ignore it totally as Alien saga (Alien, Aliens, Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection) is one of my s-f beloved and Scott, the same who has created Alien, almost destroyed it with one dull movie like Prometheus. What a shame.

Matt Brennan

All of the disagreements voiced here about my reading of TDKR's politics are fair. Like most things political, the film is open to interpretation. (And it should be noted that I have qualms with the film as cinema, with the exception of the brilliant prison subplot that runs through it, but I think those have been discussed quite a bit already by other critics.) I will say, however, in response to most of the TDKR-focused comments here, that I have no specific agenda. I am a lover of plenty of "conservative" films, and just because I like "The Searchers" doesn't mean I am prejudiced against American Indians, nor, because I like the old screwball comedies, does that mean I think women can only be happy once they're married. But TDKR can't be considered ONLY a "superhero" movie, because Nolan quite consciously decided to make the film "political" with his allusions to the Occupy movement, etc. Bloated with these portents, TDKR suggests that the real-life desire for radical democracy and human equality is something easily co-opted by terrorists, criminals, and villains, which sounds strikingly like the Fox News point-of-view on Zuccotti Park. As Justin smartly notes, Nolan's failure to develop these threads, to explain them, sinks what otherwise WOULD be just a superhero movie. If it were another director on another subject, this would be called grandstanding, and I found it pretty awful as both politics and cinema. I know that's a marginal view, but it is what it is.

Justin Zarian

Actually Matt Brennan, I think I would argue that TDKR's biggest flaw is that it can't decide if it is liberal or conservative. It tries so hard to paint an argument where Bane is "the voice of reason" by the way he "persuades" everyone that the rich are evil and should be killed. Then it limply offers a counterpoint trying to say, "Hm, maybe that's a bad idea," and then drops it entirely. That is pretty much the only political element of the whole movie and that doesn't even seem to be of interest to Nolan by how underdeveloped it is. The fact he doesn't take a side (the issue is never actually resolved as much as they just move on from it) or offer compromise is what bugged me more.

Calling it radically conservative is a gross exaggeration though. Just because it presents a viewpoint that doesn't only agree with liberal mindset doesn't mean it is cruel and vicious. I would argue it is a lot more fair than a lot of the preachy liberal crap we have gotten (like Promised Land). Try to acknowledge that both sides have valid points and don't let personal bias be the only factor judging a film.

That's not a defense of TDKR, since I had a lot of other issues with it. Calling it the worst movie of the year because you disagree with a message when legitimately terrible movies like A Thousand Words, The Oogieloves, Branded (another preachy left leaning movie), This Means War, The Apparition, Alex Cross, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Chernobyl Diaries and Piranha 3DD exist is definitely not genuine.


Wow. Thanks Matt Brennan for turning all movies in message films.

TDKR is just a SUPERHERO movie! Come on! Quit analyzing everything for its liberal slamming message! You probably enjoyed Promised Land because it stood up against the nasty "Frackers" although it is a lukewarm film.

What was the Avengers' political message? That Loki was like Mitt Romney so therefore he represents all that is evil in the world? Funny, I saw him as President Obama trying to ram his political views down my throat and into my wallet. Interesting, huh? And would that make SMAUG in "The Hobbit" a republican like John Boehner too? Cause I thought he was more like Harry Reid who wants to spend us into another mountain of gold's worth of debt. See? Anyone can play the movie/politics game.

Judge a film on the film's merits and quit over-implying your politics. Good reviewers have a way to look past their agendas and just review films on their own merits.

TDKR wasn't perfect, but I thought it was good and entertaining. Maybe from a filmmaking perspective in your mind it wasn't good. That is fine too. Next time just leave the politics out of it.

You're Welcome.

Nolan Merchan

There is no point to these year-end "Worst movies" lists. People put a lot of hard work and time and effort into their movies for someone to casually walk by and call it names. If you didn't like it, well then don't watch it again or buy it. but really, the negative attitude and the cynicism from people who for the most part have never made a movie? please, this is ridiculous.


I thought the TDKR was a bad film, but I'm pretty incredulous as to how you or anyone for that matter, could read a kind of right leaning political bias into it? In The Dark Knight, the joker is a schizophrenic narcissist. I suppose that was politically insensitive to the mentally ill? Its a comic, thats exclusively based around a fantasy crime fighter, attacking exaggerated, pantomime bad guys trying to destroy a city! Do you really take umbrage with the fact that Bane's plan involved the city destroying itself through anarchy and how somehow that was an attack on the barbarous 'underclass'? Gotham has always been a dystopian vision of a future New York. He's a complicated hero and thats what makes Batman interesting. He's a troubled orphan, full of murderous aggression and middle class guilt. I would say that makes him more of a liberal! He saves himself, by saving Gotham and killing criminals. Are you really saying that you think the Nolan's are trying to peddle consciously or otherwise, a right wing agenda, that demonises the lower classes? I would argue that there's almost as much chance that the Sith planned 9/11… Unless my memory is really terrible, Bane releases 'comic book bad guys/dangerous prisoners', to wreak havoc on Gotham and actually its the upstanding citizens (of all different social demographics), with the police and Batman, that pluck up the courage to fight Bane and his cronies and the prisoners in the streets. They all stand up to defend their city. Its only a small part of the city that turn to crime and its Bane's thinking, who's clearly labelled by the writers as mentally unstable, intolerant, violent etc that the city will eat itself. So actually the 'villain', is the one who demonises the working man, not the wealthy Romney voting hero…. Incidentally I do agree in that I really didn't like the film either, but for hugely different reasons. I hated Skyfall too (I'm British). Damsels In Distress was excellent…

Daniel Delago

As a professional film critic and writer, I strongly disagree with 'The Words' being a bad film. Anyone who writes fears being plagiarized. This film is an excellent depiction of a man being eaten up inside by guilt for copying word-for-word another artist's work. Strong performances make this a must-see rental.

Cynthia Allen Schenk

We just watch the " Words". I must disagree with you.

We both thought it was a very good movie


Actually I REALLY enjoyed "THE WORDS"! I thought it was one of the best movies all year.


Just glad to see the list is mainstream Hollywood money and not hard won indie work where every penny is never enough. Subjective but interesting. (Note to self; remember to be nice to everyone). Screw that. Battleship to sink without trace.


I'm tired of hearing arguments about The Dark Knight Rises as a paean to conservatism. Bane doesn't represent the lower classes any more than Batman represents the rich. You may have noticed that the biggest act of terrorism occurs at the football stadium, where the various classes came together to watch the game. Bane and Talia were neither of them impoverished, and their followers were not downtrodden citizens, but criminals, in jail for a reason, we can assume. But I doubt the typical working class Joe was standing behind Bane (the cops, for instance: are they wealthy, or working class? And whom did they stand with?). Nor were their wealthy citizens backing up Batman, who we know helps out the little guy and is nowhere near conservative in his social or political leanings.

In sum, it's a flimsy excuse to use the conversative v. liberal social theme to criticism TDKR, and it seems narrow-minded, as though you weren't paying attention to what was actually happening. I get that some people didn't like the film, and they have valid reasons, but let's not mix up the story into something it's not.


This is ridiculous, how can you even bring The Dark Knight Rises to this list? No matter whether you read the comic or seen the previous, it's an amazingly well-done picture. You can't judge it cause you don't like the topic (or more what you interpret out of it). That's like saying ''Skyfall was worst this year because… because… well, fuck London.'' Well either that or good trolling.


Worst Movies of 2012-Jacob Combs picks "Prometheus"? Did I read that right? Fuck off and go see more movies. "I went in with such high expectations… Really? "such high… " Please see more movies before you start writing about the "Worst Movies of 2012" and not the ones you had "such high" expectations for. Jabob Combs-what not to read.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the worst of 2012, guys! I work with a few guys and girls at DISH who love movies as much as I do. We formed a little movie club where each week we all make selections from the thousands of movies available from DISH’s Blockbuster @Home rental service. We watched nearly every movie mentioned here, and they were all pretty bad, but I am surprised no one mentioned A Christmas Story 2. That should get voted the worst of 2012 just for being made.


This Means War was a HUGE stinker. Just transparent pandering Hollywood tripe…


I disagree with The Words and Prometheus. I can only comment on these two since these are the only two from the list that I have seen. They were nowhere being the worst. Not because they weren't as successful doesn't mean they were bad.

Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima

Do you only focus on movies that made the box office?
Worst movies at the box office or worst movies made in 2012?

bob hawk

Beyond the fact that I'd probably include both ROCK OF AGES and HYDE PARK ON HUDSON on my (10?) worst list — these two films also represent the idiocy of the MPAA's rating system. The fact that the lasciviously sleazy ROCK, with mucho big-screen crotch thrusts by both sexes, earned a PG-13 while the quaintly suggestive HYDE PARK, with its dainty hand job, was hit with an R just shows the meaninglessness of the MPAA's ratings and the cluelessness of its arbitrators in regard to the web-driven sophistication of today's young people.

Moni Luv

RED HOOK SUMMER and THE MASTER were the WORST films of the YEAR!!!!


Can't stand Batman. The best thing to come out of it were the Bane Outtakes. Please billionaire lunatic, come and save us by beating on big meanies with your fists.

As for Damsels in Distress and Lola Versus? You saw nothing worse than those? I enjoyed both films and welcomed the quirky unconventional takes on some very tired genres.

I don't know what the absolute worst is, but it's probably not mentioned so far. Total Recall was abysmal. Unseen: Dredd, Twilight, That's My Boy, Red Dawn, Pirhana 3DD, Paranormal 4? —


The Dark knight was a monument to conservatism? Just because Bruce wayne is rich doesn't mean he is a conservative. I don't think u understood the movie or the character at all. Bane is more Tea party than he is liberal. Nolan was trying to get across a social message not a political message.

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