Another year of movies has come and gone – and everyone is producing lists of their best and worst movies of the year. We have already unveiled what we thought were the 10 worst movies of 2010 and the top 10 movie moments of 2010 but we thought we would also do a list highlighting which movies we found to be the most disappointing.
While 2010 brought us its fair share of thrills, excitement, drama and laughs in such films as Inception, Kick-Ass, Black Swan and Toy Story 3 (to name but a few) the year inevitably brought us its fair share of disappointment, too.
NOTE: To be clear, this list is not representative of what we consider the worst that cinema had to offer in the past 12 months, as some of the selections do have redeeming qualities. Rather these are the movies that we expected a lot from – but they just didn’t quite deliver. For our “worst” list, click on the link above.
So let’s get to it, shall we? Here is Screen Rant‘s selection of the most disappointing movies of 2010 in order of release (and don’t forget to vote in our poll on the last page):
Alice in Wonderland
We start off with Alice in Wonderland, popular Gothic director Tim Burton’s take on the classic Lewis Carroll tale about a girl who falls down a rabbit hole to the eponymous land of Wonder (or “Underland” as it’s called in this version). Burton put a fresh spin on the material by making Alice a few years older and purporting that she’d already been to Wonderland and just couldn’t remember, although the residents of the weird and wonderful land certainly remembered her (“It’s the real Alice!”).
When it was announced that Burton was going to be taking on this classic tale it was like a match made in cinematic heaven. The filmmaker’s off-beat, quirky and distinctive style seemed perfect for the story, and getting his faithful movie star Johnny Depp to play The Mad Hatter was a perfect piece of casting if ever there was one.
So where did it go wrong?
Well, first off, the 3D format of the film didn’t serve to enhance the titular Wonderland but rather detracted from the experience. 3D is supposed to immerse you in a film’s world, not give you a headache – the scene in which Alice tumbles down to Wonderland, for example, not only had my head banging and spinning but my stomach was none too pleased either!
Aside from the 3D, Burton’s version of Wonderland was just a little too zany and overly busy, with the bright visuals getting annoying very quickly and characters that, despite being distinctive on paper, became sort of indistinguishable from one another. The plot didn’t help matters either, with a narrative that was muddled and often confusing instead of suspenseful or exciting. All this led up to what has to be the most disappointing final showdown of the entire year.
Burton and Depp’s seventh collaboration wasn’t a total disaster, with some fun to be had in segments here and there, visuals that are stunning (before they got quite tiresome) and some inspired casting including Michael Sheen as the White Rabbit, Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen, Stephen Fry as the grinning Cheshire Cat and, of course, Depp as The Mad Hatter. However, to our disappointment, this particular vision of Alice in Wonderland wasn’t the magically memorably ride we were hoping for.
Clash of the Titans
Next up we have Clash of the Titans, the one and only remake on this list (if you can believe it). Director Louis Leterrier (The Incredible Hulk) had some of the richest mythology in history (no pun intended) to play with and a budget that could be used to run a small country. And yet, despite all it had going for it, Titans was indeed one of the biggest disappointments of 2010.
Despite having more big-scale action sequences than you could shake a stick at, there were only a couple that were in any way memorable: The scorpion attack scene in the desert and Perseus (Sam Worthington) flying on Pegasus, ducking and diving around the dreaded Kraken. Apart from that, the action scenes were either bland, boring, unmemorable or just plain silly. The latter description also applies to the dialogue, which seemed to try everything it could to stop us from being able to take it seriously.
A special mention must go to the disappointing 3D. Instead of shooting the film using 3D cameras, as should be done, Warner Bros. decided to shoot Clash of the Titans using standard cameras and then convert it into 3D during post-production over a very short 8-week period. Who would care, right? 3D is 3D no matter how it’s done, isn’t it. Wrong! Titans had some of the worst 3D in recent memory, with most of the visuals looking less like a realistic enhancement of the onscreen events and more like cardboard cut-outs looming out of the screen at the audience. Quick tip, Hollywood: If you’re going to go the 3D route then do it properly.
So while there is admittedly some fun to be had with Clash of the Titans, overall it was a huge disappointment, made all the more dissatisfying because of the fact that it arguably had one of the best trailers of 2009.
Iron Man 2
Summer 2010 brought us many-a-blockbuster and surely one of the most anticipated was Iron Man 2, the sequel to the hit 2008 comic book movie. Director Jon Favreau and leading man Robert Downey Jr. returned for the sequel as director and star, respectively, bringing along with them a sense of hope that this might be one of the few sequels to improve upon the first one. Sadly that didn’t turn out to be the case.
Before we get to the negative, I just want to say that I consider Iron Man 2 to be a lot of fun, with a memorable villain in Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), some hugely entertaining set-pieces (the Monaco race track sequence stands out in particular) and some stunning special effects work.
However, when you compare Iron Man 2 to the resounding success that was the first film – it feels like a let down. To begin with, the first film managed to strike the right balance of Tony Stark (DowneyJr.) being cocky and smarmy but still likable, whereas the sequel made him more arrogant than anything else. This lead to it being harder to care about the main character, since he was acting like such an ungrateful ass a lot of the time.
Secondly, the final showdown between Iron Man, War Machine and Vanko was too reminiscent of the finale of the first film. It wasn’t exactly the same, but the general “machines hitting and shooting each other until only one (or in this case two) is left standing” felt repetitive and rather unsatisfying, in my opinion.
Lastly – and perhaps most importantly – the film felt less like a standalone feature and more like a hold-over for the big Avengers film to come in 2012. The subplot about S.H.I.E.L.D. wanting to recruit Stark/Iron Man for The Avengers was referenced in the first film but didn’t get in the way of things; in Iron Man 2 that point was belabored and detracted from the main storyline of Iron Man trying to stop Vanko and Stark’s arms-dealer nemesis Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell).
While Iron Man 2 is still a very fun and entertaining summer blockbuster, when you take into account just how good the first one was, the sequel can easily be labeled a disappointment. Here’s hoping that Iron Man 3 – which will have a different director now that Favreau won’t be returning – gets back up to the level of the first movie. It will have an easier task doing so, considering it will come after The Avengers and won’t have to serve as a bridge film, as was the fate of Iron Man 2.
The Last Airbender
A lot of people were looking forward to the big-screen adaptation of the famed animated series The Last Airbender due to the first teaser trailer. It featured a mysterious shrouded figure performing martial arts in the middle of a circle of candles, ultimately blowing all them out with his mystical powers – and finally unveiling himself as a mere boy. Cut to outside of the cave where a massive fleet of warships launching fireballs hinted at an epic battle soon to unfold.
It’s amazing what one teaser trailer can do, and this one definitely made people sit up and take notice of The Last Airbender, despite the name M. Night Shyamalan being plastered all over the film’s posters and trailers. As it turns out, their anticipation would have been better placed somewhere else as this was not only a disappointing film, but one of the year’s worst as well.
From the poorly-written dialogue (“We must go there” is about as sophisticated as it gets) and characters, to the lackluster action and boring storyline, the film made for one memorable experience… but not in a good way. The Last Airbender stuck in my mind for all the wrong reasons and proved that Shyamalan should probably stay away from making action/fantasy films altogether.
Even the admittedly impressive special effects weren’t enough to make The Last Airbender worth checking out. If you were lucky enough to have missed this one in theaters, do yourself a huge favor and avoid it on DVD/Blu-ray.
Final nail in the coffin: Despite the implications of the Clash of the Titans debacle, The Last Airbender tried to also go the post-conversion 3D route, and turned out even worse than it already was, with colors so dark and murky it was like watching a movie with sunglasses on. Just awful.
The mammoth buildup to this belated sequel is inevitably what landed it on this list. Disney was fueling the fire of anticipation as far back as summer 2008, with a teaser trailer shown at Comic-Con featuring new-and-improved Light Cycles giving the online film community something to salivate over. TRON: Legacy was indeed one of the most talked about and anticipated releases on the 2010 schedule, with the studio making us wait until the last couple of weeks of the year to finally see the finished product.
After months and months of promotional material that frankly went well past the point of overkill (with the amount of trailers and clips released you felt like you’d seen the movie before it actually opened), Legacy was finally unveiled just a couple of weeks ago and unfortunately it didn’t live up to the expectations everyone had for it.
The problem with the film lay not in its visuals or action – which are undoubtedly impressive – but rather with the script. The story was generic (some would say phoned-in) and the dialogue was as cheesy and eye-rolling as you’re likely to come across in a big budget, over-the-top Hollywood film. Things hurtle along nicely until the film feels the need to continuously screech to a halt for needless and overwrought exposition.
To be fair, the point of Legacy isn’t the story or dialogue but rather the visuals – and the film definitely delivers on that front. Although not as ground-breaking as those found in the original Tron (at a time when CGI was scarce and unsophisticated), they were still striking and memorable, enhancing the already thrilling action sequences. The pounding, infectious score by Tron-esque electro outfit Daft Punk was perfectly matched to the digital world of the film.
Along with Iron Man 2, Legacy probably has the most going for it, out of those on this list, enough to make it worth a watch, particularly on the big screen (I’ll be curious to see how it fairs on DVD/Blu-ray). But after two and a half years of build-up, we moviegoers deserved more than what this long-awaited sequel ultimately delivered.
So there you have it, Screen Rant‘s biggest movie disappointments of 2010. Now it’s time for you, our loyal readers, to chime in with you thoughts: Which films were you most disappointed by? Do you agree or disagree with our choices?