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The Criticwire Survey: The Movie Critics Got Wrong in 2012

The Criticwire Survey: The Movie Critics Got Wrong in 2012

Every week, Criticwire asks film critics a question and brings you their responses in The Criticwire Survey. We also ask each member of the poll to pick the best film currently playing in theaters. The most popular choices can be found at the bottom of this post. But first, this week’s question:

Q: Whether they overrated or underrated it, what movie did most critics get wrong in 2012?

The critics’ answers:

Alan ZilbermanBrightest Young Things/Tiny Mix Tapes:

“‘End of Watch‘ did not get the praise it deserved. It was the best police procedural in years, with sharp performances and an utterly devastating climax.”

Mark YoungSound on Sight/New York Movie Klub:

“I’m probably alone on this, but I liked ‘Red Tails,’ executive producer George Lucas’ 20-years-in-the-making project about the Tuskegee Airmen that finally received an ignominious release last February. It seemed that most of critic-dom wrote this film off as an effort by Lucas and director Anthony Hemingway to ‘Star Wars’-ify World War II, but I did not get that impression at all. Let’s be clear: it’s not a great film. The plot is overstuffed to the point of confusion, and the only thing more bizarre than Ne-Yo’s performance is the movie’s need for his character to be there in the first place. However, I found many parts of the film to be quite effective. Nate Parker and David Oyelowo are playing characters that are archetypes, but the force of the performances keep them from being stereotypes. The action scenes have a sense of gravity and physics that keep them from being too much ‘like a video game,’ a phrase I heard or read in several negative reviews and tweets. But most of all I liked this picture because, for all of its flaws, it refuses at every turn to be the sort of insulting white-filmmakers-congratulating-themselves rubbish that the studios constantly demand when dealing with the issue of race. Thanks to a trio of black filmmakers, including one (screenwriter Aaron McGruder) who had loudly criticized Lucas as racist for creating Jar-Jar Binks, we get a story about oppressed characters who do not just demand respect but seize it for themselves. In a world where ‘The Help’ receives a Best Picture nomination, isn’t ‘Red Tails’ the sort of movie we should be encouraging instead?”

James WallaceCentralTrack.com:

“To much surprise, the films you’ve so often heard associated with the word ‘underrated’ this year turn out to actually have pretty good ratings according to Rotten Tomatoes. ‘The Cabin in the Woods’ (91%), ‘End of Watch’ (85%), ‘The Grey’ (79%) and ‘Premium Rush’ (76%) aren’t so underrated after all. Sure, they could have been seen by more moviegoers and been helped out by larger box office returns but that’s not the question we’re addressing here. And I’d love to argue how awful and overrated ‘Battleship’ (33%) or ‘Snow White and the Huntsmen’ (49%) were but I don’t think that’d be too controversial an opinion amongst critics. So, my choice for 2012’s underrated film according to critics is ‘John Carter.’ The film became the whipping boy of big summer blockbusters. It was the poster child of film failure. Multiple industry articles were published examining its megaflopness, even one with reflections by the film’s director himself. Coincidentally, ‘Battleship’ sunk quietly into the night while it opened lower and grossed less domestically. But I found the film to be everything the ‘Star Wars’ prequels wished they were but never achieved. Pulpy, fun, and beautifully shot/designed, ‘John Carter’ is the rare type of film that comes along every once in a while with something to appeal to everyone’s senses…it’s just too bad it didn’t.”

Anne-Katrin TitzeEye For Film:

“Overrated: Kathryn Bigelow’s soon to be overrated ‘Zero Dark Thirty‘ takes her audience by the hand and explains, as you might to an inattentive child, that the terrorists who caused the 9/11 attacks now have to be interrogated. While it is good to see a woman as the hero of a movie that does not include a romantic relationship for her character to balance with her duties, Bigelow creates other obstacles. Her decision to have C.I.A. agent Maya (Jessica Chastain) chew on things, ‘eat like a man’ in every second scene, and lick her knives does not make her more believable. Chastain, who was a revelation in ‘The Tree of Life,’ here becomes a forced, not even forceful cliché. Quentin Tarantino in ‘Django Unchained’ does a better job making an audience reflect on the nature of torture than ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ does, which willingly feeds a complacent public what it wants. ‘An American in Pakistan, the Musical’ — it could become a big hit on Broadway with Julie Taymor directing, ‘Bro.’ Underrated: ‘Las Acacias.’ The external trip in Pablo Giorgelli’s ‘Las Acacias’ takes us 900 miles from Asunción in Paraguay to Buenos Aires on board a lumber truck, driven by a reserved Rubén (Germán de Silva), with a mother (serene non-actress Hebe Duarte) and child as arranged passengers. The internal trip is about human connections. ‘Follow the baby’ was the rule, while the rest of the cast and the crew were prepared for everything. The baby’s face and a gaze that is totally fearless elevate the film to unexpected heights. To fully understand how a baby’s yawn can be such a powerful plot point and have a big festival audience at MoMA laugh out loud with delight at a sneeze, you have to feel the chemistry between the three non-related family members in this extraordinary road movie.”

Luke Y. ThompsonNerdist:

“‘Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie.’ Most reacted as the provocateurs likely expected them to do, with horror and disgust at the deliberate ugliness of it all. It’s a shame that not many saw past that: the deconstruction of every Hollywood comedy cliche was savage and consciously pushing the notion of audience identification past the breaking point. I can see why Tim and Eric are fans of Tommy Wiseau — while he accidentally does the opposite of everything a good filmmaker is supposed to do, they very calculatingly do the same in order to create a great meta-comedy about precisely what we expect comedy to be (or not to be) and why.”

R. Emmet SweeneyMovie Morlocks:

“Using Rotten Tomatoes as a rough indicator of critical consensus, my favorite film with the lowest rating would have to be ‘Resident Evil: Retribution,’ holding steady at 27% Fresh. Critics have knives at the ready for director Paul W.S. Anderson because of his penchant for adapting video games, but he’s become one of the most reliable action directors working today, and is a natural with 3-D (I’m hoping he gets a crack at 48fps). The new ‘Resident Evil’ continues his obsession with constrained spaces and long narrow corridors, which his wife and muse Milla Jovovich slices and dices through with her jackknifing athleticism. He also layers images of wafer thin video screens and cloned doubles, illustrating a violent world of endless iteration.”

Andreas StoehrPussy Goes Grrr:

“Underrated: ‘Dark Shadows.’ Granted, it’s a tonal mess with plenty of bad jokes and a botched ending. But it’s still a small triumph by the standards of Tim Burton’s recent output, and between its sardonic visual gags and diabolical Eva Green performance it recalls the Burton of ‘Beetlejuice’ and ‘Batman Returns.’ Despite the vitriolic response it got upon release, and however frustrating its inconsistency may be, I still think it merits a viewing.”

Josh SpiegelMousterpiece Cinema/Sound on Sight:

“‘John Carter.’ (Should I pause to let most people laugh at this choice? I feel like I should.) And yes, it may be suspect that a guy who hosts a Disney movie podcast is going to bat for a Disney movie that was, if nothing else, a massive box office flop. And it didn’t do too well with critics, either, getting a 51 on Metacritic. (Honestly, considering the vitriol this movie continues to get, 51 is higher than I would’ve guessed.) I won’t deny that ‘John Carter’ is flawed, but I’d argue that it’s exactly the kind of sincere, old-fashioned, and satisfying entertainment director Andrew Stanton wanted to make. Stanton had a tough mountain to climb, convincing people to buy into a world that was awfully reminiscent of the Star Wars universe despite the Edgar Rice Burroughs source material having directly inspired George Lucas’ series. Even though ‘John Carter’ is imperfect, Lynn Collins delivered a strong performance opposite Taylor Kitsch (who was in a bunch of stinkers this year, but he’s pretty good in this), the action was thrilling, and the special effects were frequently brilliant. Scoff if you must, but I am standing up — likely by myself, on an exceedingly lonely island — for poor, kicked-around-too-much ‘John Carter.'”

Mike RyanHuffington Post Entertainment:

“‘Battleship.’ C’mon, that movie knows it’s a bad movie — but that’s what makes it so great. I mean, seriously, no movie this year is more self aware of its over-the-top, bloated, god-awfulness than ‘Battleship’ — and it’s not just that it knows that, it fucking embraces it. There’s no need to try to enjoy ‘Battleship’ ‘ironically’ because it’s already so far ahead of irony. ‘Battleship’ isn’t the hipster walking down the street wearing a Katrina and the Waves t-shirt. ‘Battleship’ is Katrina herself punching that hipster in the face — teeth flying — singing ‘Walking on Sunshine’ while tap dancing on a mustachioed limp body.”

Joshua RothkopfTime Out New York:

“‘The Master‘ is beloved by so many of my friends and colleagues; I wish I’d seen the film they’re falling all over about. Don’t think the evidence is there. The movie is slack where, normally, Paul Thomas Anderson’s films fly by. It lacks sufficient incident and catharsis; generally, his movies are beautifully plotted. One prison toilet aside, there’s very little of a showdown here. And ‘The Master’ is almost completely humorless.”

Matt RorabeckMovie Knight:

“I might take some heat for this but it has to be Steven Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln.’ Performances aside, the film is not very good. It feels very ‘safe’ and lacks any sort of suspense or excitement. The cinematography is bland, the pacing is terrible, and the film is overlong. I wonder if some may have their ‘Spielberg’ blinders on, leading them to believe the film is much better than it actually is. Daniel Day-Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones are great, but even for a performance-driven film it’s very tough to sit through. Eh, maybe it’s because I’m Canadian.”

Andrew RobinsongmanReviews:

“I’m going to go ahead and say ‘Amour.’ I recently got a chance to view this Palme d’Or winner and I just don’t see what everyone’s talking about. It’s an overly slow and monotonous discussion of the tail end of life through the relationship of this older couple after the wife has a stroke and it meanders so hard it’s painful. Without the injection of the strongest espressos directly into one’s bloodstream I have no idea how critics managed to get to the end much less know what happened along the way. This is one of those times where I feel critics gave the director a pass because of how well-respected he is and looked at the idea more than the execution, because the idea is great, the execution is painfully drawn.”

Katey RichCinema Blend:

“I don’t really want to go down swinging as the critic who stuck her neck out for ‘Taken 2,’ but at the same time, that movie wasn’t nearly the garbage people seemed prepare to call it before they even watched the movie. Yes, it’s a paler imitation of the original, but it’s got plenty of its own gonzo greatness, and I think it’s easy to forget how much of the original ‘Taken’ was draggy exposition — most of which ‘Taken 2’ gets rid of entirely. Maggie Grace throws grenades onto rooftops in Istanbul and nobody seems to care! Rade Serbedzija is the ruthless gangster parallel of Neeson’s character! In a just world this would have at least as high a Rotten Tomatoes score as ‘Space Jail’ (a.k.a. ‘Lockout’).” 

Jordan RaupThe Film Stage:

“They are an acquired taste, but I’ve never laughed harder during a movie than ‘Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie.’ It was disappointing, but expected, to see the critical lashing. On the flipside, I couldn’t believe the overly positive reviews for both ‘End of Watch‘ (85% on Rotten Tomatoes) and ‘The Avengers‘ (92% on RT). The former film completely fails its aesthetic in the very first moments — not to mention a completely generic plot — while the latter was mildly fun, with a dull first half.”

Matt PriggePhiladelphia Weekly:

“I don’t as a practice like to talk smack about my colleagues, particularly ones with whom I am friends. That said, someone needs to stick up for ‘The Comedy.’ Its makers’ protestations to the contrary, this picture was obviously made in part to drive a sizable portion of audiences up the wall, and it wouldn’t be successful if it didn’t have a 48 on Metacritic or a 40% Tomatometer. That said, some of the criticisms seem to be misidentifying what it’s doing, particularly the claim that it endorses its assholish protagonist. As someone who finds it one of the finest pictures of the year, I can say that my enjoyment was never tied to an alleged approval of Tim Heidecker’s wealthy Williamsburg dipshit, who seems forever on the cusp of self-awareness but who, on the few occasions when he’s tempted to adopt a potentially richer life, always chooses to return to his cloistered, moneyed, bored existence. That director Rick Alverson (or Heidecker) could be approving of someone who a) talks shit to the male nurse tending to his dying father, b) approvingly quotes Hitler and Timothy McVeigh because he thinks that’s funny (while picking up chicks) and c) watches a girl suffer an epileptic seizure rather than help her (among many other transgressions) makes little sense to me. But what do I know? After all, I loved ‘The Comedy.'”

Mike McGranaghanThe Aisle Seat:

“I believe most critics offer their opinions from a place of sincerity, so I hesitate to accuse them of getting something wrong. That said, the 2012 film that I most strongly disagreed with the majority of colleagues on is ‘Haywire,’ which I am stunned to learn holds an 80% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Did they get it wrong, or did I? Whatever the case may be, I found ‘Haywire’ to be a crushing bore, despite a stellar cast and the fact that I’m a diehard Steven Soderbergh fan. It felt like they were making it up as they went along, which led to a confusing plot and action sequences that didn’t thrill me. Maybe it looked good to critics during the usual January doldrums, or maybe some of them were blinded by star Gina Carano’s attractiveness. All I know is that I can’t believe so many critics gave this sloppy mess a pass.”

Calum MarshSlant Magazine:

“I’ve been made to feel insane for loving ‘Sinister‘ as much as I do, so my answer is that everybody who didn’t think that film was wonderful got it wrong.”

Vince ManciniFilmdrunk:

“Oh boy, the annual this-answer-won’t-win-me-any-friends bowl. Two that come to mind are ‘Flight‘ (77% on Rotten Tomatoes) and ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild‘ (85%, multiple critic’s award nominations). ‘Flight’ turned into a laughably bad infomercial for AA after the first scene and it’s baffling to me that anyone could’ve recommended it — the theater I was in, someone knocked over an empty bottle during Denzel’s teary speech about the dangers of the drink and the whole place exploded with laughter. Acclaim for ‘Beasts’ is more understandable — because it looks pretty and has a cute little girl and is flattering to educated liberal sensibilities — but probably more wrong. Aside from the general maudlinness and the noble savage hocus pocus, there was that scene where the guy saves his empty chicken wrappers because they ‘remind him of who he was when he ate them.’ Trigger finger, meet uvula. I also think ‘John Carter’ wasn’t as bad as everyone said, but that’s an argument for another time.”

Joey MagidsonThe Awards Circuit:

“I’d say by virtue of barely seeing it, too many of my colleagues got ‘The First Time‘ wrong. Only 16 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes? Really?  Now granted, I probably liked it more than anyone else, but still, way too many critics didn’t even bother giving it a chance, and that’s sad.”

Adam LowesHey U Guys:

“‘Rock of Ages.’ While the critical (and audience) consensus was generally thumbs-down, this swirling, frenzied rock pantomime was a delight from start to finish for this blogger. Tom Cruise was fantastic as the barking mad, burnt-out sex god, playing that cliché to absolute perfection, but with flashes of a real, jaded human being underneath the mascara and leopard print. Daft and disposable, but shamefully enjoyable (like the decade itself).”

Shawn LevyThe Oregonian:

“I was among the distinct minority who favored ‘Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter,’ and I’m not sorry. I see in Timur Bekmambetov a genuine stylist working in a metier not unlike such other railed-against auteurs as Michael Bay and Tony Scott, but with, for want of a more specific description, a Slavic zest. The bloodletting, fast-cutting, skewed angles and overall histrionics to which he’s given are for me as pleasurable as, say, the aesthetics of martial arts cinema are for others.  For the record, I was also a minority voice on ‘Wanted’ and, less alone, the two ‘Watch’ films.  Besides, when a movie calls itself ‘Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter’ and you buy a ticket by saying those words, you damn well better get what you expect, and if nothing else the film gave you that. In that regard, it’s at least as good a movie as ‘Master of the Flying Guillotine,’ which also (I hate this word) ‘delivered’ exactly what it promised.”

Will LeitchDeadspin:

“‘Compliance.’ That people bought the central conceit — under the guise of ‘it happened in real life!’ as if ‘real life’ possibly is what happens in this movie — says more about people’s attitudes toward low-income works in regular people America.”

Josh LarsenLarsenOnFilm.com/Filmspotting:

“How about one of each? The quickly forgotten ‘Casa De Mi Padre‘ was not only one of Will Ferrell’s funniest recent films, but in its melding of ‘dumb comedy’ and Spanish subtitles, it’s also a politically potent symbol in this year of immigration debates. Overrated: ‘Argo.’ Even if it doesn’t bother you that the movie runs on a jingoistic fear of the other (and that should bother you), Affleck’s much-lauded sense of craft is serviceable at best.”

Andrew LapinThe Atlantic:

“‘Detropia,’ a dreary, forlorn art installation masquerading as an insightful and revelatory dissection of Detroit, was widely praised this year, even though it added nothing new to the conversation surrounding the Motor City. All its key points — that people don’t like living in a metropolis with burned-out streetlights, that corporate greed killed American manufacturing, that what’s happening in the Motor City will happen everywhere soon enough — have been made before, and with more context. Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, normally some of the most talented documentary filmmakers out there, have so little use for actual information in ‘Detropia’ that when Jennifer Granholm appears on a bar’s TV chatting dispassionately about the city’s job prospects, they don’t even bother to identify her as the former governor of Michigan.The movie is high-grade ruin porn without anything more profound on its mind than, ‘Lookit!'”

Peter LabuzaLabuzaMovies.com/The Cinephiliacs:

“The overpraise for ‘The Raid: Redemption‘ completely baffles me. Never mind that the film has almost no characters or narrative to speak of, because it honestly doesn’t care about that element, but the action in this movie is frankly boring. The conceit of the action is to simply be continuous — it just keeps going and going, but in the exact same style that preceded it, without ever changing the environment (a drab gray-on-gray building in which every room looks like the last room). Compare that to the French thriller ‘Sleepless Night,’ which had about five action set pieces, all staged completely differently in terms of how the people were fighting and how they interacted with the very different environments they were in. It was messy and sloppy and made you feel it. In ‘The Raid,’ everything is so stylized and so choreographed that it’s certainly impressive but never involving.”

Adam KempenaarFilmspotting:

“It’s tempting to go with ‘Silver Linings Playbook,’ which will likely get an Oscar nom and has a significantly higher Metacritic score. But despite ‘only’ a B+ grade on Indiewire, I’m going with ‘The Avengers‘ with its 290 reviews and 92% Rotten Tomatoes rating. Look, I like Whedon too. Some of the dialogue really pops, namely every time Ruffalo and Downey Jr. are in the same room together. The Iron Man-Thor showdown? Cool. That ‘long take’ that unites all of our warriors during the final battle? A genuinely thrilling moment. But every set-piece action sequence is extended, overglossed chaos with talented actors mostly reduced to shrieking exclamations and one-liners. Don’t worry Nick Fury, I still believe in heroes.”

John Keefer51Deep.com:

“‘The Dark Knight Rises.’ Now there were plenty of critics who reviewed the film, painting it in a positive or negative light, but the mistake made here was approaching what was the third film in a franchise with any more import than that distinction deserves based purely on fan-frenzy. Going forward I would love if critics would dispense with considering the hoopla around a film, also dispensing with the use of the term ‘hoopla./  It makes it difficult then to appreciate a great sci-fi noir like ‘Looper,’ the type of movie we used to get more of, an in-betweener if you will, one that doesn’t aspire to, nor need to, make a billion dollars to justify its existence.”

Jordan HoffmanScreenCrush:

“Underrated: ‘The Three Stooges.’ Overrated: ‘Hari-Kiri: Death of a Samurai.'”

Eric HavensDownright Creepy:

“The movie that I keep coming back to is ‘The Dark Knight Rises‘ and its 87% score on Rotten Tomatoes. While I would never say it’s a terrible film, it is incredibly overrated. Whether it was the effect of this film standing on the shoulders of its trilogy peers, or if it was the prestige of Nolan, this film seemed to not only get a pass by most critics but praised to a strangely high level. In my view, logic and thematic flaws made this movie a bit of a mess and a real disappointment as the final act of this particular trilogy.”

Melissa HansonCinemit:

“‘21 Jump Street.’ I thought it was childish and not nearly as funny as I saw many reviews make it out to be.”

Kenji FujishimaThe House Next Door:

“Me, I’m still trying to figure out what so many of my colleagues, especially here in New York, find so masterpiece-worthy about ‘The Color Wheel.’ Alex Ross Perry’s second feature — which got a weeklong theatrical release here in New York after a year or so of traveling the festival circuit, to seemingly unanimous acclaim everywhere it went — certainly has a distinctive style (grainy 16mm black-and-white cinematography, a retro ’70s soundtrack, etc.) and many bits of sharply written/acted/directed repartee between the two siblings at the heart of the film. But apparently, in the world of ‘The Color Wheel,’ it’s not enough for this brother and sister to be nastily sniping at each other throughout their road-trip-of-humiliations; everyone else around them has to be even worse, making the two main characters, I suppose, more honestly loathsome than the rest. This strikes me as little more than blatant deck-stacking, making it, to my mind, much too easy to gravitate towards the central pair — and thus, making the film not nearly as challenging as it tries to pass itself off as being. But sure, ‘The Color Wheel’ is… something, I guess.”

Jessica ElgenstiernaThe Velvet Café:

“I hesitated to answer this question since I personally avoid using terms such as ‘underrated’ and ‘overrated.’ I don’t think I’m in the position to judge the views of other film critics, claiming myself to be ‘right’ and everyone else ‘wrong.’ But if we put it this way: which film was the one where your opinion was most different to the majority? And to that I think my answer is ‘Prometheus.’ It’s rare these days that we get science-fiction movies of this size and scope, showing people boldly going where no one has gone before, seeking out new life forms and civilizations. I enjoyed every single second of the film. There was an army of nitpickers that tore the film apart and pointed out dozens of what they thought were flaws and mistakes. I could agree with most of those bullet points, but not once was I bothered by them while I was watching the movie. And in the end, I think that should count for something. What you get from the film as you see it in the theater is more important than the experience you have from analyzing it afterwards. I don’t say that everyone else got it wrong. But I feel as if I stand alone in my appreciation of it.”

David EhrlichMovies.com:

“This may be a bit of a cheat, but I’d say that each installment of 2012’s unofficial ‘Storm Trilogy’ of ‘The Impossible,’ ‘The Dark Knight Rises,’ and ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ is equally dismal relative to the respective praise they received (I didn’t have the opportunity to formally review any of those films, but I’ll soon be writing about all three in a year-end piece for Movies.com). Having said that, I think I can somewhat appreciate what appeal that trio may hold for their wayward partisans. On the other hand, the response to Craig Zobel’s ‘Compliance’ completely blows my mind. An insufferably silly and self-satisfied exercise in narrativizing a period of high school psychology, ‘Compliance‘ doesn’t just fail to deepen Stanley Milgram’s notorious obedience experiments, it doesn’t even best his video recordings as cinema. Even some of the film’s critical pans have been maddening — anyone complaining that the events Zobel recreates are unrealistic is playing right into the film’s hands. Sure, Zobel’s eventual depiction of the mysterious and sadistic caller is laughable, but for anyone with even a vague memory of *insert historical atrocity here,* the issue is not that the film’s events are hard to fathom, but rather that they provide so little to question. The film doesn’t even have the courage to seriously confront the corporate and sexual elements that might have added a much-needed dynamic to this most basic human narrative (it dodges the latter at the precise moment that it should refuse to look away). You want to see a *truly* horrifying portrait of compliance? Watch ‘Night and Fog.’ Otherwise, you’ve earned yourself a stomach-churning thriller about Pavlov’s dogs: ‘Conditioning,’ premiering at Sundance in 2014. All the same, Ann Dowd and Dreama Walker were both excellent. On the other hand, many of my fellow critics totally dropped the ball on Joe Wright’s brilliant ‘Anna Karenina’ (my review), and I already sense that they’ll do the same with Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained.’ Fortunately, at the end of the day, we can all hug it out and watch ‘Zero Dark Thirty.'”

Billy DonnellyAin’t It Cool News:

“I took a lot of heat for the amount of criticism I heaped upon this film the first time around, and I’m sure it’ll pour in again now, but for as fun and exciting as it was back in May and even as cool as it was to have such a geek wet dream come true, the amount of unbridled love that existed for ‘The Avengers‘ was a bit overwhelming to me. Yes, that one got severely overrated. The entire movie exists solely to be able to bring these characters together onscreen, but once that happens, it really has no idea for far too long what to do with them now that they’ve joined up. It wasn’t too long before Avenger-on-Avenger fighting started to feel a bit stale, and did I really just see Iron Man repairing the Helicarrier for the film’s second act? On top of that, Whedon’s pop culture-heavy dialogue began getting distracted, turning the quippy Tony Stark into ‘Lost”s Sawyer, armed with a nickname for everyone. Hawkeye was there, because he had to be (once again, nothing to do). Loki is rendered useless until the third act, spending far too long in captivity, and the Chitauri are no more than faceless video game enemies, lined up to be knocked off by this band of superheroes with their powers on full display, with no real threat to the world they live in ever being established. Back when it came out, I compared it to ‘The Mighty Ducks,’ having watched a highly dysfunctional group of individuals finally come together as a team to defeat a common opponent, just with a lot more action. So all this talk about the ‘greatness’ of ‘The Avengers’ yeah, that’s a bit on the overrated side.”

John DeCarliFilmCapsule:

“In general, I don’t have too many gripes with critical consensus this year. I would, however, say that there was a tendency to inflate the value of some middling Hollywood fare while entirely dismissing others. The overwhelming critical approval of ‘The Avengers,’ for example, seems due to familiarity with the film’s formula, characters, and the popularity and pedigree of Joss Whedon. Meanwhile, a film like ‘John Carter‘ with the same modest goals of escapist entertainment was panned. It’s not a great film, but it’s just as fun as ‘The Avengers.’ It’s one thing to demand some level of sophistication from Hollywood films, but let’s be consistent and call a spade a spade.”

Michael DaltonMovie Parliament:

“‘Dark Shadows.’ While not Tim Burton’s best of his career, I would argue it was the best of his year. Underrated and under appreciated, ‘Dark Shadows’ was undoubtedly inconsistent; however for me, that was part of its oddball charm and appeal. There were few mainstream blockbusters this year that were as ultimately off the walls as ‘Dark Shadows.’ As the film reached its third act and a shotgun toting Michelle Pfeiffer was fighting her own house and her daughter turned out to be werewolf, saying the line, ‘I’m a werewolf, get over it’ I thought to myself… ‘How could anybody dislike this movie?’ turns out a lot of people did.”

Jake ColeNot Just Movies:

“Already a victim of the usual, lazy pile-on that awaits any effort by Paul W.S. Anderson, ‘Resident Evil: Retribution‘ might even be shoved out of its defenders’ minds with the release of John Hyams’ more outré ‘Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning.’ Like that film, the fifth ‘Evil’ installment breaks down the morality of videogames, exploring the unsettling implications of programmed sprites made simply to die and striking a balance between playfulness and horror at the constant resurrection of franchise characters for whatever purpose suits the director. Anderson remains the finest user of 3-D, holding on shots long enough to let his spacious architecture and precise action blocking seep in. At the same time, he’s also unpretentious enough to chuck in a few items launched toward the camera to remind everyone what 3-D, at heart, is for. From its gorgeous, reversed opening to its Boschian finale image, Anderson’s film is more imaginative, better shot, and more fun than just about anything that came out this year on more than 2,000 screens.”

Erik ChildresseFilmCritic:

“It was rather shocking that so many critics missed what was so special about Sarah Polley’s ‘Take This Waltz‘ with all its deep sentiments about marriage and its gut-punch rendition of monogamous fantasies but then fell for the historic and near-dangerous hypocrisy of ‘Life of Pi.’ Which life/story do you prefer?”

Sean ChavelFlick Minute:

“‘Take This Waltz‘ took a brand new angle at the marital infidelity picture and had the most stunning visual deftness. It was directed by Sarah Polley, and since she is a woman I suppose she had to be punished for that, and so she got no support behind her brave, thinking woman’s film. Only men interested in thinking women need apply.”

Fico CangianoCineXpress:

“I know I’m going against the flow here, but my pick has to be ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild‘ as the most overrated film of 2012. I’m sorry, I just didn’t connect with the film emotionally. I can understand and acknowledge what director Benh Zeitlin has accomplished with such a small budget. I can applaud the excellent and revealing performance by young newcomer actress Quvenzhané Wallis. But I just can’t accept the film as being one of the best in 2012. I don’t even have it in my Top 10, maybe even Top 15 list. Yup, sorry.”

Christopher CampbellDocBlog

“‘Searching for Sugar Man.’ It’s okay — albeit very much lacking in insight and substance — but man is its praise and popularity out of hand.”

Danny BowesTor.com/Movies By Bowes:

“‘Space Jail.’ Anyone who gave it fewer than a zillion stars or at this late point calls it ‘Lockout’ for purposes other than clerical simply doesn’t UNDERSTAND, man.”

William BibbianiCrave Online:

“The audience howled with laughter around me, pissing me off to no end, while I watched ‘Seven Psychopaths,’ a tedious screenwriting exercise masquerading as a legitimate lampoon of the crime genre. Colin Farrell plays a screenwriter working a script called, you guessed it, ‘Seven Psychopaths,’ based on characters from his life, and which, like ‘Adaptation’ before it, gradually becomes indistinguishable from his fictional storyline. But unlike ‘Adaptation’ before it, ‘Seven Psychopaths’ is full of weakly caricatured ‘characters’ whose actions never shed light on the inner world of its creator. He’s writing a hollow, cliched screenplay, and that’s all we get before us: a hollow, cliched film that mysteriously got away with it because it winks at the camera. ‘It’s okay that this movie sucks, because we’re telling you this movie sucks.’ That’s anything but okay. Why ‘Seven Psychopaths’ got a free pass from the majority of critics (according to Rotten Tomatoes, anyway), is beyond me. Honorable mentions go to the shallow, judgmental ‘Flight,’ which nevertheless walked away with largely positive notices, the clever soap opera satire ‘Dark Shadows,’ which probably turned critics off by marketing itself as a fish out of water comedy instead, and the imaginative and thrilling ‘John Carter,’ the tragic victim of 2012’s ugliest and most unwarranted bandwagon.”

Bruce BennettWall Street Journal:

“‘Skyfall.’ Lazily imagined though energetically executed pastiche of downmarket action movie tropes (celebrating 50 years of Bond with the 20th anniversary of the mocking cartoon gif file virus announcement and the return of the ‘What makes you think I haven’t?’ scene from Richard Tuggle’s 1984 Clint Eastwood potboiler ‘Tightrope’) ludicrous plotting (henceforth all MI-6 agents must screen the holding cell breakout scene from ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ before assuming active service — also apparently the part that established Bond’s childhood gamekeeper buddy’s dementia and thereby justified using a flashlight in the dark while knowingly being stalked by a cadre of trained killers wound up the cutting room floor) and one of the worst advertisements for digital filmmaking I can recall at the multiplex (what was up with those skintones and those purple night landscapes that looked less convincing than old school ’50s western day for night?) somehow mistaken for a bold rereboot or some such. A pale shadow of ‘Casino Royale’ and, frankly, even ‘Quantum of Solace’ which as I recall kind of sucked, too. If someone had taken time during that yearlong production hiatus to cut out even 30% of plot events precariously founded on computers, it would’ve been a brisk 60 minutes all in. Dear contemporary action movie screenwriters: the fact that you spend every waking moment on a laptop doesn’t justify enslaving your stories to their use.”

Nicholas BellIONCINEMA:

“Most Critically Underrated: ‘Red Lights.’ Most Critically Overrated: ‘Silver Linings Playbook.'”

Adam BattyHope Lies at 24 Frames Per Second:

“I’m going to have to go with ‘Prometheus.’ As someone who’s never really been convinced by Ridley Scott, nor holds much of a candle for the ‘Alien’ franchise I found myself surprised by just how impressed I was by the film, in spite of the widely derided plot holes and leaps of logic.”

Edwin ArnaudinAshvegas:

“I noted my disdain for the beloved ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ in our 2012 Mulligans survey, so I’ll go positive in this response. While both ‘Cloud Atlas’ and ‘John Carter’ were terribly misunderstood, the hate for ‘The Paperboy‘ is completely unfounded. A stunning ensemble achievement, Lee Daniels’ all-star cast nearly all play against type, namely John Cusack as a scuzzy death row inmate and Nicole Kidman as the flooziest of floozies. Shot like a pulpy, poorly-tinted product from its late ’60s setting, the film is unapologetically lurid and consistently entertaining. Just as racially charged as ‘Precious,’ but minus the distracting hype of social import, it’s a trashy good time; nothing more, nothing less.”

Michael J. AndersonTativille:

“For this writer, most critics did a poor job this year in evaluating the work of the two Paul Anderson’s. The Academy-sanctioned P.T.’s ‘The Master,’ an elaborate put-on on the level of narrative, inexplicably favored standard-issue shot/reverse-shot decoupage, despite its monumental 70 mm format. By comparison, Paul W. S.’s ‘Resident Evil: Retribution‘ showed real visual imagination in its employment of 3-D technology, not to mention a surfeit of conceptual ideas in its distinctive construction of filmic geography.”

The Best Movie Currently In Theaters on December 10, 2012:

The Most Popular Response: Argo” 
Other Movies Receiving Multiple Votes:  Holy Motors,” The Master, Lincoln,” Killing Them Softly,” Life of Pi,” “Anna Karenina.”

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