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The Worst Films Of 2012

The Worst Films Of 2012

We’re not alone in thinking that 2012 was a pretty great year for film. Maybe not one for the ages like 1939, 1975 or 1999, but one that, after a slowish start, has seen something worth checking out hit theaters almost every week, with the last few months of the year becoming positively overstuffed with goodness. You’ll already have seen various highlights in our year-end coverage to date, and we’ll be rolling out individual staff Top 10s in the coming weeks. But it hasn’t been all been sunshine and daisies on cinema screens this year.

Indeed, for every great film this year, it sometimes seems as if there were two terrible ones, stinking up multiplexes and arthouses alike to varying degrees. We didn’t want to paint an entirely rosy picture of the cinematic landscape, so we’ve picked out a selection of the films the Playlist staff really and truly loathed in 2012. We can’t say we saw every stinker of the year — we were lucky enough to escape many, but these were the ones that we were unfortunate enough to point our eye-holes at, and the ones that really and truly stuck with us. Check it out below (each title links to the review) and let us know your own least favorites of the year in the comments section. And for all The Playlist’s year-end coverage make sure to follow all our Best Of 2012 features.

What happens when you put together an Oscar-nominated director, an Oscar-nominated writer, multiple Oscar-nominated or Oscar-winning actors and the kind of wide-ranging, ensemble, issue-base drama that paid off for Oscar-winners “Traffic” and “Crash?” You get Fernando Meirelles’360,” a film that’s about as much fun as, and has all the artistic value of, being beaten about the head with an Oscar. A loose version of Arthur Schnitzler’s “La Ronde,” the script by Peter Morgan (“Frost/Nixon,” “The Queen“) jettisons the play’s structure in order to depict a loosely-connected tapestry of characters united by… sex? Love? Infidelity? We’ve seen the film, and we’re still not entirely sure what Morgan was getting at, bar some glib platitudes about how, like, technology has brought us closer together, but also totally further apart, man. The international cast — Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Jamel Debouzze, Gabriela Marcinkova, Maria Flor, Vladimir Vdovichenkov, Moritz Bleibtreu and more  — aren’t bad, and Ben Foster gives rather a good performance as a sex offender trying to avoid temptation. But they’ve got such unbearably thin, shallow material to work with. You’ve seen almost of all of these stories before, done better, and the film lurches wildly in tone between dark material (Anthony Hopkins as a grieving father looking for his long-missing daughter), thriller (the closing section in Vienna) and quirky rom-com (Debouzze’s section). Maybe there’s a version of it that’s bearable, but Morgan’s script is so middlebrow and vacuous, and Meirelles’ direction so turgid and anonymous, that it certainly isn’t this one.

“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”
Seth Grahame-Smith’s book, “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” is a cleverly put together fun little read that plays with history and form and inserts a bit of excitement into the narrative of one of America’s most staid presidents. That none of the nuance was preserved in the hands of Russian madman Timur Bekmambetov shouldn’t really come as a surprise, but Grahame-Smith wrote the screenplay too. What happened to those delightful framing devices and historical winks and nudges? Casually tossing aside major characters and plot points from the novel and replacing most of them with the convenient character of Abe’s childhood BFF, Will (Anthony Mackie, we are so, so sorry, how can we help?), the film basically uses only the title from the book as its source material. While newcomer Benjamin Walker certainly filled Lincoln’s britches well, there’s nothing for him to work with in order to showcase his acting, as Bekmambetov just has him twirl an axe for 90 plus minutes. Dominic Cooper and his selection of vintage steampunk sunglasses bring a bit of lift to the film (the drinking game for this movie is ‘drink every time Lincoln twirls an axe, twirls around with an axe, or Cooper wears sunglasses’ — try not to die). Mary Elizabeth Winstead has never been as listless and dead-eyed as she is here as Mary Todd Lincoln, and pulls a real Sandy Bullock by giving both her best (“Smashed”) and worst performances in a single year. But the real sign of a bad movie is one that not only gives lines to a former Victoria’s Secret model, but features her as one of the most important supporting characters. Sorry ‘bout that, Erin Wasson. And of course, it all culminates in a poorly designed, teal and orange, muddy CGI fiery battle atop an out-of-control locomotive featuring a snarling Rufus Sewell. It takes a special kind of talent to make a movie with such an intriguing premise so boring and bad.

“Act of Valor”
There’s a discomforting grey area as far as discussing the storytelling in Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty,” a film that, to some, endorses the CIA as a shadowy organization that openly skirts the law, as heroic. Not to compare or contrast, but how did some of these ‘ZDT’ critics hold their lunch when the propaganda-disguised-as-movie “Act of Valor” hit theaters this spring? Maybe we shouldn’t be so precious about our mass media colliding with the military-industrial complex — there are ads in Times Square for a “Call of Duty” videogame espousing the excellence of using an unmanned military drone to do our “dirty work.” But that doesn’t make it any more noxious to see Relativity releasing this pro-military blockbuster that dares to tell a largely suspense-less action story about vanquishing the most improbably connected terrorists in the world. As they fight Al-Qaeda agents aligned with a Mexican drug cartel and the Russian mafia (a Matryoshka doll of terror!), the emphasis is on gun fetishism as character building, sloganeering masquerading as dialogue, and a proud emphasis on the idea that our soldiers are terrible at socializing. Using real soldiers instead of actors is more of a marketing hook than a point of pride, but it’s odious to involve the boys in these rah-rah shoot-’em’up exercises, and enlist their real-life wives to carry out their husbands’ mock-deaths for the sake of a feature-length recruitment commercial. But why gussy it up? The line has to be drawn somewhere, and all evidence suggests “Act Of Valor” simply isn’t cinema.

“Alex Cross”
Tyler Perry is best known for playing wisecracking grandma Madea in a series of barely watchable, highly profitable comedies that he writes, produces, directs and possibly caters. But in “Alex Cross,” a sort-of prequel to “Kiss the Girls” and “Along Came a Spider” (both of which starred Morgan Freeman as James Patterson’s detective) he was hired solely for his acting abilities, which aren’t exactly expansive, and forced to play a tortured young “profiler” on the hunt for a vicious killer played by a gamey Matthew Fox. Most of the movie was a weird buddy cop movie with Perry and Ed Burns (saying stuff like “I’d rather take advice from a ham sandwich than listen to you” to each other), interrupted occasionally by gonzo, gaunt Fox, who shows you how evil he is by entering into an amateur mixed martial arts fight and killing the other fighter. Also: he lives in a boathouse. It’s hard to remember what, exactly, happened in “Alex Cross” but it did involve a lot of boring procedural nonsense you can see on CBS any night of the week, except longer and more dull. If “Alex Cross” was meant to establish Perry’s talent and bankability outside of his own creations, it failed miserably.

We suppose this slot could be filled by any number of shitty, low-rent horror movies that come out each year with no intention but to make a fast buck. The small distinction is this shitty little slasher film premiered at Sundance with three relatively talented leads at the head, in the shape of Brian Geraghty, Alice Eve and (and to a lesser degree because he’s not very good in this) Josh Peck and boasted a screenplay by single-setting “master” Chris Sparling who wrote “Buried.” Well, let’s say the screenwriting emperor has no clothes and he’ll need a whopper of a followup to recover from this script; it’s infuriating, lazy and pitiable. Hackneyed, banal and featuring the typically frustrating archetype of characters who make stupid decisions only in service of forwarding the plot, “ATM” is a blueprint of every bad horror film that’s ever existed. About a trio of insipid hedgefund/stock broker assholes, the film has the “brilliant” conceit of trapping the group in a remote ATM cubby in a parking lot on a frozen evening while a killer outside prevents them from leaving for absolutely no particular reason. Often completely implausible and downright risible, it’s way worse than it sounds. Sundance may have a Midnight Madness section to program, but how this embarrassing dreck slipped in there other than filling a quota is beyond us.

If you’re going to bite off the worst of all shitty blockbusters from the last decade, at least add a little flavor. Everything about “Battleship” feels secondhand, the antithesis of Joss Whedon’s “The Avengers.” Whedon came to that alien invasion picture with a borderline PhD in the last two decades in blockbuster filmmaking. “Battleship,” however, seems as if director Peter Berg crammed three Simon West films right before finals, and it shows. Every single element of this ill-advised board game adaptation (which rightly torpedoed Universal’s exclusive deal with the moviemaking wizards at Hasbro) felt thrifted, from the alien beasts that looked like an MS-OS version of Ed Asner-playing-Mickey-Rourke’s scrotum, to the dorky comic relief of sadsack shitty eighth generation Dustin Hoffman clone Hamish Linklater. There’s some partial credit for giving a role to an actual double amputee veteran himself, which is then squandered by an absolutely flabbergasting moment where a submarine crew actually is forced to guess coordinates like the board game, a concession not to storytelling or theme, but to the purpose of selling more merchandise. Is it one of the worst movies of the year? Put it this way — as a throwaway gag, it would have been laughed out of a pitch meeting for “The Critic” fifteen years ago.

“John Carter”
Blame marketing. Blame development hell. Blame difficult source material. Blame Bryan Cranston’s yellow yarn wig. Blame whatever you want, anyway you slice the shit pie of a movie that is “John Carter,” it is still a pie made out of shit. The movie was too… everything, while also being absolutely nothing. Too earnest, too long, too silly, but also crushingly boring and dull. The main problem was that director Andrew Stanton wanted to have it too many ways — a fantastical space odyssey for kids, but also wanted to be a serious adult sci-fi flick, and the tonal swings could not be saved by what was a rather insipid story. The death knell of a bad movie is when it takes itself too seriously, which was the biggest crime “John Carter” committed. What was that about a moon wedding you intoned so seriously, Dominic West? Ever crack a smirk, Taylor Kitsch? You are leaping about Mars in a loin cloth, after all. Even Han Solo managed a smirk. Yes, the crimes of “John Carter” are many, and it’s an unfortunate turn of events for all involved (Disney, Disney Marketing, Stanton, Willem Dafoe, West, Cranston, Kitsch, and yes, I am looking at you too, Woola), but there’s no redeeming “John Carter.” It’s emblematic of everything wrong with commercial filmmaking these days: made by committee, market-research driven creative decisions (it was said that women don’t go see movies with “Mars” in the title, so that’s why they dropped the “of Mars,” because “John Carter” just screams fantastical period movie/space adventure), and pandering to the four quadrants. “John Carter” tried to please everyone and instead pleased no one. Hopefully Hollywood learns some important lessons from this fiasco, but realistically, and unfortunately, probably not.

How could we almost forget this abysmal indie film? So, thanks to Playlist contributor Todd Gilchrist who gave us the helpful nudging (“wtf?”) reminder. While Derick Martini’s “Lymelife” was a decent little coming-of-age tale, something went painfully awry with his directorial follow-up “Hick.” based on Andrea Portes‘ novel about a Nebraskan teen who gets more than she bargained for when she sets out for the bright lights of Las Vegas, “Hick” is an utter disaster. A mess of a movie, half offbeat roadtrip with strained, near-laughable serious notes, the picture, to put it in a nutshell, is deeply tonally challenged. Starring Chloe Moretz, (a woefully miscast) Eddie Redmayne and Blake Lively, as our review earlier in the year said, “Hick” was “intended to be a calling card for all parties involved to point at as evidence of their talent and bravery; instead, it’s a black blot of shame for everyone who had a part in its making.” Indeed.

“Paranormal Activity 4”
Up until now the “Paranormal Activity” gravy train had been an intermittently scary franchise based around the found footage conceit (which ceased being clever a couple of sequels ago) and a series of goose-bumpy sequences in which doors slowly open on their own. But for this, the exhausting fourth entry in the franchise, the concept has finally been worn out completely. What we’re left with is a loose collection of sequences that stay super-glued to the aesthetic principles of the “Paranormal Activity” franchise (which this time includes security camera footage and Skype conversations — the latter was done much better and with way more nudity in the semi-clever found footage anthology “V/H/S”) while halfheartedly attempting to push the series’ “mythology” forward (it involves witches or ghosts or something). Audiences groaned audibly (we were in one of them) at the inherent lack of artistic or entertainment value. Also it was really boring. But all this it wasn’t enough for Paramount to put the kibosh on this lucrative cash cow – 2013 will see “Paranormal Activity 5” hit the big screen. Hopefully that will be the end. Doors opening slowly on their own are only so scary for so long.

“The Raven”
If there’s been one silver-lining to John Cusack‘s career in recent years, it’s that many of the terrible film he’s made — “Shanghai,” ‘The Factory” — never even saw the light of theatrical day, sparing the actor from further embarrassment. Sadly, that was not the case with “The Raven,” which received a puzzlingly wide release (fortunately, few people actually bought tickets for the thing). Melding the aesthetics of an early ’00s movie filmed in Prague to a “Seven“-style themed-serial-killer movie, it sees Cusack play Edgar Allan Poe in the final days before his death, helping the Baltimore PD (led by Luke Evans, the most generic, least interesting cop in screen history) investigate a crazed murderer inspired by the writer’s work, one who makes the stakes personal by kidnapping Poe’s fiance (Alice Eve, in a box). We suppose it’s not a bad premise, but it’s one saddled with a truly disastrous script that appears to be a clever parody played with perfect deadpan delivery (no comedy this year had such hilarious lines, or anything as ridiculous as Poe’s pet raccoon). The murders are neither sufficiently inventive nor justifiably gory, the killer might as well walk on screen wearing a t-shirt with the words I Did It on the front, and bar Cusack (who’s at least having fun playing Poe as a “Saturday Night Live” impression of Robert Downey Jr.), the actors are visibly grinning and bearing it until they can get back to the hotel bar and swap stories of what they’re going to buy with their paychecks. The worst culprit of all is director James McTeigue (“V For Vendetta“), who ladles on the atmosphere, but not much else, failing to tell the story in anything like a coherent manner, and pretty much ruling him out in future from directing anything that doesn’t star Nicolas Cage. Quoth the critic: “Nevermore.”

“Red Dawn”
The start of “Red Dawn” is a burst of action, no surprise given that director Dan Bradley cut his teeth working in second unit on a number of big studio action blockbusters. Once our group of demographically-diverse teens (but blacks and Hispanics to the back of the line please!) makes a break for the forest, avoiding the unlikely North Korean invaders, they lie low and examine the stakes. Led by the bombastic patriotic speech of Aussie Chris Hemsworth, the crew decide to band together and fight back. What follows is the most bewildering, borderline avant-garde passage of time in any mainstream film this year. A training montage occurs, with Marine Thor putting his crew through the paces, before they eventually armor up against their oppressors, and the audience has absolutely no clue as to whether this has been days, weeks or even months. If it’s months, then these kids sure haven’t grown much. If mere days have elapsed, then how is it these suburban kids learned guerilla tactics so quickly? Oh right, Playstation. Even if you excuse the the film’s Yellow Peril and the horrifying post-production process that involved changing Chinese actors into Koreans (there’s a Romanian New Wave movie waiting to be made about the guy responsible for this), there’s the fact that the action sequences, led by the charisma-less duo of Joshes Peck & Hutcherson, are a jumble of incidents that presume the North Koreans sent ten guys to take over Spokane, Washington, and one of them, (Will Yun-Lee), is a teleporter who can pop up and sneer at almost every location. Sometimes films sit on the shelf for legit reasons.

“Resident Evil: Retribution”
Every couple of years there’s another new “Resident Evil” movie. And every couple of years we go see it and yawn. This year’s entry was possibly the most videogame-like of the entire videogame-based franchise (this is the fifth “Resident Evil” movie – no, we can’t believe it either), in the sense that it really felt like you were watching someone else toggle through levels on some home console – exploring areas, collecting items, and fighting gooey bosses. This isn’t exactly the most entertaining experience you can have in the theater, and the fact that the movie ends on some bullshit cliffhanger promising further adventures of latex-clad Milla Jovovich is even more infuriating. Also, this one took place in some kind of giant underground geodesic dome. These are about the only things we can remember from “Resident Evil: Retribution;” even minor thrills of ultra-violence and rubbery monsters have been replaced with a dreadful feeling of repetition and visual effects that are better suited for a Syfy Channel original movie and not a large-scale Hollywood production. In 3D this shit is even sillier.

“Rock of Ages”
There’s a special place in movie hell for films that are not only bad, but interminably long. “Rock of Ages” should be burning for boring us with 136 minutes of bad singing, worse acting and Russell Brand. Two-plus-hours of off-key performances at the worst bridge-and-tunnel karaoke bar imaginable, but without the numbing benefits of alcohol. The film’s other sins include making the ‘80s and the Sunset Strip look even worse than they were, wasting the dancing skills of both Catherine Zeta-Jones and Julianne Hough (in a freaking musical) and proving along with “Total Recall” and “John Carter” that Bryan Cranston will take on any role, regardless of his immense talent and the script’s inverse relationship to that. The script here is particularly bad but at least the actual dialogue between poorly covered songs is kept to a minimum, which is a boon to any scene with Diego Boneta. He may be pretty – even with the bad ‘80s haircut and wardrobe – but has all the charms of an empty can of Aquanet. We’d love to consider his casting as commentary on the superficiality of the decade and the hollowness of beauty, but that seems like giving director Adam Shankman far too much credit.

“Taken 2”
It doesn’t seem like it would be all that difficult to follow up 2008’s Liam Neeson-destroys-France slugfest. The original was a no-frills actioner with throwback morals that suggested we endorse this patriotic superman for saving the oldest-looking teenage daughter in history, destroying half of a foreign country in the process. The formula should have been simple as far as recreating went, but instead the only element that survives in the Olivier Megaton-directed sequel is the toothless Ugly Americanism that plays like Zucker-level parody more often than not. Xeroxing the more superficial elements of the first film was easy enough — Neeson is still brooding and musclebound, Maggie Grace is still far-too-old — but who made the decision to lift the action from a direct-to-DVD movie and the music from “Drive”? “Taken 2” is the worst type of Hollywood product, the listless paycheck grab that insults others who actually put effort into their films, as it generates zero suspense, features no surprises, and, somehow, has no real ending of any sort. How did this franchise go from “Death Wish 2” to “Death Wish 5” in only two installments?

“That’s My Boy”
What is it about Adam Sandler that forces him to keep finding a way to lower the bar? Over the course of a big screen career that saw him (intentionally?) morph his idiot manchildren into “common man” types, he’s found unique ways to drop the standards of broad studio comedy, to the point where something like Seth MacFarlane’s “Ted” comes across as early Woody Allen in comparison. Sandler really outdid himself this time, elevating the material to an R-rating this time around, and using a punishing 114 minute runtime to tell a story about a degenerate Dad and his estranged son (Andy Samberg, as excited as a Gitmo prisoner) that revolves around rape, pedophilia and incest, giving zero laugh lines to Will Forte but leasing the spotlight to not-exactly-skilled jokesters like Tony Orlando and Vanilla Ice. You always know what you’re going to get in a Sandler film, but somehow Sandler’s embrace of the R-rating (and freer use of profanity and cruelty) makes the pandering that much more difficult to manage. It clashes perfectly with Sandler’s absolutely shameless product-whoring, not only having his character carrying Budweiser cans like an extra appendage, but attempting to re-introduce the prominent brand’s “Wazzup” catchphrase, a joke about product placement that, coincidentally, manages to move units. It says a lot about all involved that Budweiser complained about its placement in “Flight,” about an alcoholic, but had no problem carrying half the jokes in a film that glorifies the rape of a minor who can’t help but be so charming.

“This Means War”
It’s interesting to see how some filmmakers retreat after a significant failure: McG’s poker-faced “Terminator Salvation” was a disaster of post-production mistakes and idle-minded science fiction concepts, something of an attempt for the candy shop auteur to go “legit.” When that failed at the box office, McG retreated in the opposite direction, making a romantic comedy that made “The Truth About Cats And Dogs” look like “Rigoletto.” Absolutely nothing works in this tragically-inept mash-up, attempting to wrangle a ’90’s sitcom tone and allowing it to mesh with cheap spy theatrics, failing on even the most basic level. CIA agents Chris Pine and Tom Hardy get to fight over an unfortunate Reese Witherspoon, a pretty woman made by the production team to look like plasticine. Both trade barbs, mostly at the tenth-grade level, while taking the time to mock the sexuality and appearance of Chelsea Handler, a sub-quality comedian that nonetheless doesn’t deserve the misogynist humor at her expense in an overly-expensive Target commercial posing as a film. Hardy looks actively uncomfortable in a broad studio comedy atmosphere, and it’s embarrassing to see the “Bronson” star, an actual actor, getting cuckolded by the CW-level appeal of Pine’s smirky alpha male dullard. There’s a sort of moral outrage that can be applied to “This Means War,” the theoretically casual laughs provided by the idea these mooks are using excess amounts of your taxpayer money to woo a girl, and comfortably participating in extreme surveillance techniques presented as a toss-off luxury to their job. But why heap insult onto injury? This is a stupid, broad, ugly film that’s fishing for guppies and coming up with an empty net.

“Total Recall”
Somehow, Len Wiseman attracts less of the scorn given to some of his contemporaries — Michael Bay, Brett Ratner, McG. Perhaps it’s because he’s more under the radar, or maybe because his films to date have been less egregious to certain sections of fandom, but if there’s any justice in the world, his remake of “Total Recall” will put him right atop everybody’s shit list. A film for which “aggressively mediocre” would be a compliment, it carries across neither the psychological tricksiness of Philip K. Dick‘s source story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale,” nor the over-the-top gonzo weirdness of Paul Verhoeven‘s 1990 film (to which the script, credited to Mark Bomback and Kurt Wimmer with several others doing doctoring work, is close enough to invalidate its own existence, while dropping all the bits that made the film memorable). Wiseman spends a lot of time building his world, without noticing that he’s borrowed most of it from “Blade Runner,” “Minority Report” and a handful of video games, shooting the film with a gloosy, lens-flare-aided sheen that’s mainly just boring. To Wiseman’s credit, he shoots action with a clarity that some of his contemporaries can’t manage, but he also undermines it by stacking it with CGI that makes the whole thing feel weightless. Nonsensically plotted, entirely predictable and dumb as a rock, the only crime worse than wasting the talented likes of Colin Farrell, Bill Nighy and Bryan Cranston on such non-existent roles, is that the film exists at all.

“Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston”
One day, in good time, like fine wine, “Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston” may age to become a cult underground classic. It has all the ingredients of an ironic so-bad-its-good guilty pleasure, mostly stemming from its vapid, narcissistic, and talentless buffoon of a director (though he certainly doesn’t deserve to go under that appellation and clearly is some kind of trust fund brat). Yes, since Morgan Spurlock, a lot of documentarians have unfortunately gone in the route of amateur first-person doc, but perhaps none have been as clueless, inept and loathsome as Whitney Sudler-Smith. While the bumbling nature of this nincompoop was a PR selling point — hey, he’s entertaining! — Sudler-Smith is a spoiled cretin with little interest in his subjects who delivers almost no insight to fashion whatsoever. Ostensibly about Halston, the famous ’70s/’80s American fashion designer that invented the ultrasuede synthetic that reigned in the disco era, Sudler-Smith’s “documentary” is seemingly more interested the hedonism of the ’70s, Studio 54, Andy Warhol and meeting celebrity friends of the fashion icon. All the while with his stupid, goofy grin and myriad peacocky hairstyles and outfits on display (there’s even a scene of him playing a Chanel guitar for some reason, and at one point he visits his rich mother to ask her why she thinks he was so interested in the ‘70s). This is a doc that features its lead pontificating while driving around in a Trans Am and then willingly shows sequences where fashion pillars like André Leon Talley berate the filmmaker for being moronic, an inept interviewer and for having his cell phone go off in the middle of the interview (no, really). Excruciating and painfully shallow all around, though perhaps destined for a new life once college kids and graduates of advanced irony get a hold of it.

“Wrath of the Titans”
In some ways, Jonathan Liebesman‘s “Wrath of the Titans” is better than its predecessor, the already-not-very-good “Clash of the Titans.” Some of the monsters are kind of fun, at least, and there’s a somewhat inventive scene set in an ever-shifting labyrinth. In most ways, however, it’s a sequel of diminishing returns. Revolving around a story that’s not so much a plot as one of those Japanese video games where you walk across a field fighting randomly-generated creatures by picking things from a menu, it sees demi-god Perseus (Sam Worthington, no longer even trying to not be Australian) on a quest to rescue his father (Liam Neeson) from Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and Ares (Edgar Ramirez). It’s Joseph Campbell Hero’s Journey bullshit through and through, mostly grim and humorless, bar appearances from new gods Diet Russell Brand (Toby Kebbell, seemingly the only actor actually conscious during filming) and Wallace-from-Wallace-and-Gromit-dressed-as-Dumbledore (Bill Nighy). And despite the prestigious returning acting talent of Fiennes, Neeson and Danny Huston (given lines this time around!), the veterans perform their scenes like dinner theater Shakespeare performers who are improvising their lines because they’re too drunk to remember what they should be saying. Perhaps none of this would matter if the film delivered on the action and spectacle front, but it certainly doesn’t. Liebesman imports three things from his dreadful “Battle: Los Angeles” — shaky, borderline-unwatchable camerawork, nonsensical editing where almost no shots lead organically into the next, and a complete lack of interest in human beings. By the time a mulleted Worthington is repeatedly punching a minotaur in the cock, you’d mistake it for an ill-conceived sequel to “Your Highness,” if your eyes hadn’t glazed over 45 minutes earlier. Fortunately, the audience weren’t fooled twice, and the film made almost half what ‘Clash’ did, hopefully killing this franchise stone dead.

Honorable mention: “Breaking Dawn 2”, “Big Miracle,” “Underworld: Awakening,” “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance,” “A Thousand Words,” “American Reunion,” “The Three Stooges,” “Madea’s Witness Protection,” “Savages,” “The Apparition,” “The Possession,” “The Tall Man,” “The Cold Light of Day,” “House at the End of the Street,” “Silent Hill: Revelation 3D,” “Fun Size,” “Playing For Keeps.”

For all The Playlist’s year-end coverage make sure to follow all our Best Of 2012 features.

“Atlas Shrugged Part II”
In fairness, no one on staff actually saw this. But come on. Look at that trailer.

– Gabe Toro, Oliver Lyttelton, Rodrigo Perez, Katie Walsh, Drew Taylor, Kimber Myers

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