The Most Disappointing Movies – 2009

1. Watchmen – Zach Snyder makes amazing trailers.  With Watchmen, he was able to make me forget all about how excited I was by the trailer for 300 and subsequently, how disappointed I was with the movie that followed.  The Watchmen trailer did all the same things even: glimpses of a world that should be familiar but seems so much smoother and cleaner than it ever could be, almost-freeze-frame action images that suggest a whole lot more than they could ever actually lead to, bizarre yet ultimately perfect music choices… Combine this with the realization of source material I’ve been led to believe (by the trailer itself even) is unparalleled and I almost can no longer blame myself for failing victim to it again.

But it is my fault.  I let that trailer convince me Watchmen would be something other than a hyperstylized environment filled with slow motion action scenes that don’t make any sense in the physical world set to bizarre music choices that fail miserably a lot more often than they don’t.

2. Land Of The Lost – Never mind the misplaced nostalgia for a show that was obviously terrible in the first place, I’m not even sure I would remember enough about that to know what they were getting wrong and what they weren’t.  That really doesn’t matter.  In fact, it could only have helped, having some knowledge of what anything in this movie was supposed to be.  Because it was clearly not concerned with making any sense on its own.  Sure, with the people involved, it couldn’t help but be funny despite itself more than a few times.  But it still wanted desperately to be an adventure movie, yet was content with banging its actors around randomly in the pinball machine world it created for them.

3. The Men Who Stare At Goats – Despite being based on a (supposedly) non-fiction book, this seemed as if it could be a stand out of originality in a landscape slipping quickly into a morass of established material.  But it was content in simply presenting a story that, as advertised, was so bizarre, it had to be true.  It expected that these characters believing the idea that they had jediesque powers would be enough to sustain an entire movie.  A comedy even.  Kind of like a Christopher Guest movie, but one in which Ewan MacGregor’s character decides how you feel about things for you.

Even before a lifeless, tacked on epilogued attempt to give the story some sense of purpose, we have to settle for a drug-induced climax that allows for any non-sensical thing that needs to happen to happen.  Laziness at its most egregious.

4. Brüno – To be fair, Sascha Baron Cohen painted himself into quite the corner. His targets were more aware (making the ones that made it into the movie even sadder), his tactics were familiar and his bar was set too high.  Add to that the fact that movie Brüno was much different than TV Brüno and there doesn’t seem to be any way to win.  And yet, expectations were high.  Not just mine.  But this movie just swept by us.  Maybe America wasn’t ready for so much gay stuff, never mind ironic and satirical gay stuff.  But as much as the movie wants you to, you can’t blame America for this.  Or Ron Paul.  Or poor camping Donnie.  Or wrestling fans.  They had plenty of reason to be angry and actually handled their respective situations quite well (maybe not the wrestling fans.)  Which was ultimately the biggest problem with Brüno.  It put you on the side of everyone but Brüno.  And it’s too bad, because there is some really amazing stuff buried inside.  But then, you expected as much.

5. Monsters vs. Aliens – The title alone promises so much.  But clearly that’s as far as anyone who made this wanted us to investigate.  Because besides the fact that monsters do in fact fight aliens (barely, at that) there is not a thing about this movie that would make you think you should see it.  Nor is there another thing about this movie that would make you remember it if you did.


Mystery Team – When good ideas like this are wasted on one-note executions like this, it’s hard not to be disappointed, even if you (justifiably) never heard that this movie even existed.  And seriously, acting terribly on purpose does not make your acting immune to criticism.  So stop it, everyone.

9 – On the one hand, when something looks as amazing as this movie does, you figure maybe other important things, such as the story making any sense at all, might have to suffer.  But then, when something looks as amazing as this movie does, you also figure there’s no way anyone would bother making a dull, illogical, post-apocalyptic animated kids movie about a scientist splitting his soul into ten crudely-fashioned sock puppets look anywhere close to as amazing as this movie does.

Terminator Salvation – I suppose there’s no reason to have looked forward to this at all, despite the fact that every other incarnation of this story (yes, even the third one and the show, especially the show, damn you all for not watching that, idiots) have been better than they had any right to be.  But that’s just how terrible this was.  I wasn’t expecting much, and yet, it still managed to get on this list.  Thank you, gravelly-voiced Christian Bale.

Surrogates – There are a whole bunch of “forgettable” Bruce Willis movies littering Netflix recommendation queues all over the internet, but all of them have Bruce Willis in them and as such have some value to them.  But somehow, this movie has managed to force him to be as bland as the robot he abandons after it is destroyed in one of the flattest big budget action sequences there’s ever been.

Planet 51 –  Another great idea, squandered in maybe the most boring animated movie ever made by someone not named Richard Linklater.  A great cast too, that hopefully won’t be punished for taking part in this, especially since it seemed like a lot of their voices were manipulated after the fact.


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