Looking Back: Ethan Picks the Five Biggest Disappointments of 2011

December 27, 2011

The Hangover Part II

Everything from independent films to big blockbusters gets our attention, but it's those huge summer movies that really get the crowds riled up and get the comments section flowing with words of praise and hate. However, sometimes the hype of certain films ends up being just that, and the summer ends up being littered with a few skeletons of films that just didn't hit their mark. Keep in mind that these films may very well have raked in audiences at the box office, but they didn't deliver what audiences hoped for in the long road of marketing leading up to the film. Below you'll find my five biggest disappointments of the year.

The Hangover Part II

#5. The Hangover Part II - Rather than being the second part of a series of mishaps for The Wolfpack, this summer sequel was merely a carbon copy of the original film. If you somehow think the second film is drastically different from the first because of the setting and circumstances, just take a look at the trailer for both films places side-by-side right here with identical sequences and cues. Are there laughs to be had? Absolutely, but when a sequel goes to little-to-no effort to amp things up or even change up the formula, then this feels like nothing more than cashing a paycheck. Here's hoping the third one spices things up a bit.

Green Lantern

#4. Green Lantern - Before the backlash begins, let me just say that I actually enjoyed this film more than most, but that doesn't mean I was completely satisfied, especially considering the lead-up to the film and the huge budget behind it. Being one of the most fantastical superhero films to hit the big screen, it had a lot of obstacles to overcome with its cosmic story, but the problem seemed to lie within the inclusion of too much of the comic book canon and a lack of a real threatening villain. Aside from the Batman franchise, it seems DC Comics has a real problem with giving their superheroes a real threat to battle. Nothing was menacing about a giant-foreheaded Peter Sarsgaard or a floating cloud of destruction. That meant that the powers of Green Lantern were not used to their full potential and left action sequence feeling stale and even boring at times. If a sequel actually happens, some serious work needs to be done.

Sucker Punch

#3. Sucker Punch - The footage from Zack Snyder's out-of-this-world really turned some heads at Comic-Con 2010, but when the film actually hit the big screen earlier this year, the only thing it did was turn people away from theaters grossing only $36 million domestically and $53 million internationally, just barely going over the film's $82 million budget and likely keeping the film from making any profit at all. But it's not the numbers that make this film a disappointment, it's the sloppy video game-esque story. Of course, I understand that the extended cut of the film released on Blu-Ray/DVD truly fixes a lot of the problems in the theatrical release, including a lack of Jon Hamm, so if you haven't checked this one out yet and don't want to feel cheated, check it out.

Cowboys & Aliens

#2. Cowboys & Aliens - Taking science fiction and westerns to throw them into one action-packed film sounded like what summer blockbuster season was made for, and with a cast like Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde and Sam Rockwell (who actually steals the show) and a production team that includes Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, what could go wrong? Well, the answer is a lot apparently. Slow like the western genre infused into the sci-fi action and completely predictable and hollow, director Jon Favreau just couldn't deliver the same kind of comic book adaptation like Iron Man, the film that turned him into a blockbuster director. However, the fault seems to mostly be with the script which failed to spark anything but the inclination to watch something else.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

#1. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - Since the conclusion of the first trilogy of Disney's swashbuckling adventures with Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow left me bored and unimpressed, I hoped that the start of a new trilogy without franchise stars Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley (the king and queen of period dramas in their generation) and a new director (Rob Marshall) might bring some of the energy back that made the first film such a fun ride. However, a flat and boring story, along with some pointless use of 3D made this the blockbuster to avoid. Audiences might make you think otherwise, but there are few franchise fans out there who actually enjoyed this fourth outing onto the high seas, and I hope Johnny Depp decides to take on more original projects than to continue stumbling around as Jack Sparrow.

So there you have it. Keep in mind this is merely my opinion, and I know that many of you will adamantly and vehemently disagree with my choices, but I just couldn't fall in love with these flicks at all. Surprisingly though, only one of these films made it onto my list of the Worst Five Films of 2011 which will get tossed up later this week. Which films do you think were the biggest disappointments of the year?

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  • When it comes to blockbusters, that is a good list. I'd also add The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Carnage and A Dangerous Method on my personal disappointments.
    • Anonymous
      don't know what you mean with "carnage".......that was pretty good.
    • I actually wasn't disappointed in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The hype doesn't seem to have done much to turn the film into a huge hit, but it was far from disappointing for me. Of course, I steered clear of the books and original Swedish films before this came out so the mystery was fresh in my mind.
    • Jack
      The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was one of the most spot-on adaptions I've seen. Of course, if you haven't read the book then I guess I could see why you may feel differently. The low box-office growth can be attributed to the R rating in a family-themed movie season.
      • I've read the entire trilogy. Fincher didn't elevate the story as much as I hoped. I liked the film and would give it a B- or so, but was expecting A-territory.
        • So A to B- makes it one of your biggest let downs of the year? Ouch... damn! I know you were hyped to love it and I understand, but dang! Plus, compared to some of this other crap this year, like the films mentioned above, I think Dragon Tattoo is fine. :) But I respect your opinion Raup!
          • Thank you, Alex!! Fincher and Mara killed it!  I think Jordan is jumping on the premature bandwagon of others who saw the weekend numbers, and already wants to call it a failure. Uh, earth to Jordan...it didn't open in most of Europe until Monday. Not to mention, Social Network's opening weekend produced similar numbers and finished strong at around $100 Mil at the box office (domestically).
    • *Sigh* Fincher's GDT is a masterpiece that will stand the test of time, like Fight Club and Seven.
  • Dave
    This is a very objective list. Very good. Girl with a Dragon Tattoo would not be an objectively disappointing movie.
  • ha1rball
    I agree with all of them accept Sucker Punch. I really enjoyed that movie
  • mnoelio
    I agree with every movie on this list. I would have moved The Hangover Part II up higher though because that was truly a disappointing film after all the buildup.
  • Anonymous
    that's a pretty good list.
  • Arbom
    I expected all of these movies to suck, so none of them were disapointing.
    • Chazzy
    • John
       EXACTLY! LOL.
  • Anonymous
    I agree with your list, but I'd like to add rise of the plantes of the friggin' apes. I know I am probably the only being outthere who didn't like it. (except for the 3 guys that joined me at the movies, all of them hated it) Why do flat characters (James Franco and that Harry Potter guy, who always seems to play bad guys) and a totally predicatable story line get so much praise? The apes looked okay, I actually preferred the real life costume apes from the tim burton version... -.- yeah, I really didn't like it.
    • Frank
      You are not  the only one mate. I was really looking forward to Rise of the Planet of the Apes after watching the trailers and hearing the reviews, from the media and several friends. When I eventually went to watch it I was REALLY REALLY underwhelmed I have to say. The trailers were definitely more fascinating than the film. I don't know, maybe 20th Century Fox's marketing juggernaut made me expect the second coming of The Matrix (original one) or The Dark Knight; these films though it was not. 
      • JBrotsis
        Both of you really are the only ones who disliked it. 
        • Anonymous
          so would you care to enlighten me what you liked about it? what made the movie so special?
  • Cat
    Excellent list, but I would include The Help. After everyone hailing it as one of the best films of 2011, I was sorely disappointed. Although maybe it belongs on a "Most Overrated Films of 2011" list instead.
  • True story: Because of other people's overwhelming disappointment in the films listed above, I chose to not see any of them. 
  • Tester
    Damn good list although I would not have picked Pirates as #1.  The second one sucked and the third one was a complete disaster, nothing more was expected of 4 ( which was also terrible ), therefore no disappointment.  I am just glad I did not pay to see any of the crappy movies listed on this list.
  • Anonymous
    Pretty much agree. I enjoyed a few of those but they were still let downs.
  • Andiana97
    with Pirates 4, they decided to do what people wanted - something different from Pirates 3 - and when they meet peoples demands, people start bitching about whats wrong with 4 - Pirates 4 was a good film and was entertaining, they're not going for "deep meaningful bs". I would never even consider putting it in a list like this.
    • John
       In "something different from Pirates 3" you mean the EXACT same schlock formula as the previous films?
  • I agree with the list, haven't seen Cowboy & Aliens though.
  • Manuel
    Agree with all except Cowboys & Aliens. I enjoyed that movie.
  • Brandon
    Actually some video games(Metal Gear Solid, GTA, Rainbow Six, Star Fox, Ace Combat, just to name a few) are better written then Sucker Punch. 
    • Metal Gear solid and gta are better written than allot of films, they focus heavily on story (MGS anyway)
      • Lebowski
        None of the Metal Gear games are better written than a lot of films. They are idiotically convoluted, and contain more half assed pop philosophy than a Wachowski Bro's retrospective. 
    • John
       Which isn't that hard, by the way.
  • Xerxexx
    I liked Sucker Punch, but felt it was a filler for Snyder. Pirates was awful and Hangover 2 was a let down...C&A was okay...Craig beating that guy to death was awesome.
  • I agree with everything on that list except for Sucker Punch.. that was probably my favorite movie of the year!
  • Nick S.
    sucker punch was HORRIBLE, guys. dear god-i know that ultimately that's just my opinion and y'all are entitled to your own but C'MON! i saw it at a dollar theater and wanted my money back (and time). it was just such an overly fantastical waste of money. felt as though a 6th grader wrote it and then went on to act it out during recess. "yes, well i was entertained" what the hell does that mean? certaily your interests were not peaked with some enthralling story telling nor were ANY of the acting performances memorable in the least so what's left...? tits and ass along some pouty faced blond chick dressed as a school girl? that's a definition of "entertained"? standards guys, standards. Zack should have felt ashamed and shunned by people who wasted their time on that film. instead we threw him money. they are going to KEEP MAKING SHITTY MOVIES unless we demand a better. Paul W.S. Anderson-someone please shoot that motherfucker.
    • Sick N.
      I demand better spelling and grammar from critics. In any case, I loved Sucker Punch. Without a doubt one of the best films of the year! Just outstanding! I paid to see it twice and look forward to owning the Blu-Ray.
    • ajmo
      There's nothing wrong with being entertained by mindless action for an hour and a half. Sometimes that's what people are in the mood for. There's no one definition of entertained, and you can just say "standards" as if that's going to change anything.
      • ajmo
    • John
       No more needs to be said, sir. Thank you.
  • I will defend Sucker Punch to the death. As a videogamer this really appealed. I saw it twice in the cinema. 😀
    • Buzzfunk
      Wanna be Sexy chicks, weak guns, no story, lame acting, video game like cgi....yeah I can see why you liked it. 
  • Kelly J Bond
    Sucker Punch = Muppet Babies
  • Aero027
    I was with you on this list until Cowboys and Aliens.  I actually found that to be surprisingly good considering the plot synopsis.  And Pirates 4 was my 2nd favorite in the whole series.  I thought they did a good job of regrounding the franchise.  My main disappointment with it was that it lacked a bit of the magic that made the original film awesome, and Blackbeard wasn't villainous enough. I would've put Sucker Punch at #1 personally.  I was pumped to see that film and annoyed with just about everything except the special effect by the end.  Hangover 2 would've been my number 2 disappointment for the exact reasons you specified.
  • McWilly
    Spot on list Mate!
  • Buzzfunk
    One thing is for sure, most of these films sucked.  AvC was so laughable and bad that i had to pinch myself a few times reminding myself, wait this is the director from Iron Man? Watching Harrison Ford do any sort of action is just so so awfully painful to watch. The score was terrible too and Daniel C looked just so silly with that oversized hat.... Overall, minus a few movies (shame, the artist etc) this year was full of crappy shit. 
    • John
       Pretty much! Pretty much.
  • I've seen only The Hangover II and Sucker Punch, and that's more than enough.
  • Anonymous
    I'm not sure why so many people are listing POTC "on stranger tides" as one of the worst films of the year... It is far from it. I enjoyed it quite a bit, and it was a lot more enjoyable than "At Worlds end", for sure. (IMO) And it is a WAY presumptuous to claim that "few franchise fans" enjoyed it. C'mon, get real. You may have really disliked it, but stop projecting your own opinion onto the general audience.
  • Basically, until people quit buying tickets to see crap sequels—obvious money grabs without a care in the world for storytelling—like Hangover 2, Pirates 4, Transformers 2, the studios will keep churning them out.
  • Roderick
    as much as i dislike Sucker Punch also... It's still 5 sexy ass woman in kicking ass the entire movie... I still haven't gotten the image of Baby Doll full school girl uniform out of my head yet...
  • Anonymous
    Can we add a "5.5" to the list? I wasn't expecting much for Transformers 3 but the first half is shockingly good! Then the roof caved in. Weird how a good first half can nearly redeem a franchise... then the 2nd half sh*# the bed... a screw it. I give up. Why bother caring anymore.
  • Dan
    all the garbages here, now where's the trash can?
  • John
    Where's Transformers Dark of the Moon on this list?
    • Hm, I think "disappointment" applies to films in which he had hopeful expectations going in, whereas, in TF3's case, the SUCK was a given.
  • Decompose
    Seeing how this list is about expectaions I would like to add Priest and the Zookeeper (yes the zookeeper). Priest I hoped would be this epic mangalike story that eventually did very little to impress. The Zookeeper because I was tricked into seeing this in the theaters and was unable to stay the duration. EXPECTED it at leat to be watchable, guess I was wrong. Have not walked out of a movie since I went to see Vampire in Brooklyn back in 1995.    
  • Vold
    I liked all those movies except Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides which i thought was crap.
  • Bltzie
    Agree with all except Pirates 4, I really enjoyed it. And I HATED At World's End
    • Max Renn
      Same. It was better than POTC 2 and 3.
      • ASB
        POTC-3 was the worst! They should work out the 3D stuff too
  • Writergirl
    I liked all of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Just because you were too dumb to get it or understand it does not mean it wasn't any good.  They were very entertaining. And that is why I go to the movies, to be entertained.  Now the that stupid movie called Girl with Dragon Tattoo looks really dumb and totally boring.
    • John
       Hah hah hah! You really had me going there for sec! Thanks for the laugh!
  • Anonymous
    The Green Hornet, while not a huge disappointment (come on, Seth Rogan as a serious super hero?), certainly was a disappointment.
  • Anonymous
    What's sad is some of those movies were so forgettable I had to think "Ohhhhhhhh yeaaaaaah... that DID suck."  My movie tastes are a little different than most, but with the exception of a few popcorn flicks in 2011, I wasnt too impressed.  With TDR, GI Joe2 and Hobbit dropping I feel like i have a lot more to look fwd to in 2012.          
  • Davidbryan
    I actually liked Sucker Punch I thought it really cool
  • Fil_lipo
    My biggest disappoinment was Green Lantern, I was expecting it to be the biggest blockbuster of the year. Actually Sucker punch was a good movie for me. I agree with hangover II, a complete copy of the first film, same story, same plot. Other disappointments are Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Apollo 18 and Contagion.
  • ajmo
    I don't get the hate for Sucker Punch. It was marketed as hot chicks kicking ridiculously exaggerated ass, and that's exactly what it was. I thought it was awesome in that regard.
  • l.
    Captain America needs to be on this list.
  • all-seeing-eye
    My Top 5 disappointments... #5...Sucker Punch, although I dug it a little was hoping for so much more...hope ZS deliver with the Man of Steel! #4...Captain America, was hoping for a lot, didn't get much, the first hours was great, but once it got into it's rushed conclusion & at times over the top-ness, I felt quite let down. #3... POTC: On Stranger Tides...this felt like a made for TV pirates movie, the production just didn't live up to the previous 3...wasn't big enough in scope or action, poorly executed facsimile of the others. #2...J.Edgar, Great Performance by Di Caprio, cant save flawed script heavy on suggestion JEH was queer...gets bogged down because of that and suffers as an accurate historical BIOPIC because of it. #1...Smurfs!,  The second they arrive in our world it was doomed, had they kept it set in their world could have been a cool kid adventure.  Oddly enough, it still made tons of money as did POTC4...
  • Ollinews
    Except for Sucker Punch I agree with that list. Green Hornet deserves to be included, not to mention the latest Transformers orgy.
  • Anonymous
    Ethan - I note that while you are complaining about POTC4 you conveniently neglect to mention that it made over $1 Billion worldwide. 




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