[Moving picture of popcorn]

Laramie Movie Scope:
15 mediocre blockbusters

Movies that made a lot more money than they should have

[Strip of film rule]
by Robert Roten, Film Critic
[Strip of film rule]

December 2, 2012 -- While it has been said that nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public, few have gotten as rich making bad movies as the people associated with making the movies on the following list.

Ordinarily, on a list like this, it would be a list of 10, but with those awful five movies from “The Twilight Saga” already on the list, that would not leave room for much else, so I'll make it 15. “The Twilight Saga” and “The Hunger Games,” (“The Hunger Games” was a good movie, but it should have been better) by the way, seem to be leading the way in a troubling new trend. Both are based on popular books and they both have a built-in audience and are critic-proof. Because of that, the studios making these films decided not to bother putting much effort or money into making these good films.

The way it has turned out, the studios got away with it. They made a lot of money, despite the fact they did not put in the kind of talent and resources that went into making the “Harry Potter” movies (except where they got greedy and split the last book into two movies when they should not have) or “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. The public should demand better, but the public seems to be satisfied with mediocre movies. All these movies made more than $100 million in ticket sales in the North America market.

This is not a list of all the worst blockbusters, because I have not seen all of them, but I have seen “The Last Airbender,” “Pearl Harbor,” “Hancock,” “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” “Armageddon,” “Battleship,” all the “Star Wars” movies, “Batman and Robin,” and they were not awful enough for this list. Anyway, here is the list, in reverse order:

15. “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” -- I liked the first movie in this series, and the third one was a slight improvement over this, but this one was a dud.

14. “Wild Hogs” -- People actually liked this film for some reason and told others to see it without warning them the humor is lame.

13. “Click” -- A great idea for a film misses the target at every turn. It was poor and it should have been a good film.

12. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One” -- In order to make more money, the Harry Potter people got greedy and tried to make two movies out of the last book in the series. The trouble is, there wasn't enough plot in first half of the book to make an interesting movie. The same kind of greedy bad choice was made with the last two films of “The Twilight Saga,” with even worse results. It is a long film with a slow pace and not much happens, snore.

11. “Fantastic Four” -- A surprisingly unexciting film for a superhero movie. Ditto for the sequel.

10. “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” -- Another try at a good superhero movie. Another miss.

9. “Shrek the Third” -- I liked the other Shrek films, but not this one. I think it is by far the weakest of the lot.

8. “Oceans 12” -- I liked the other two films in this series, but this one was lame, despite a lot of talent behind the camera and in front of it.

7. “Van Helsing” -- This film tried to juggle a lot of monsters and dropped them all on their heads. It features the Frankenstein monster, the Wolf Man, Dracula and Mister Hyde as well. It is as big a mess, and for the same reasons, as “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” was, but it made more money for some reason.

6. “Wild Wild West” -- I loved the campy old TV show. The movie has Kevin Kline, Will Smith, Kenneth Branagh and Salma Hayek in it. It was directed by Barry Sonnenfeld (“Men in Black” and “Get Shorty”). With all that talent and money, it somehow fell flat and laid there smelling like a dead jellyfish.

5 to 1 -- “The Twilight Saga” -- Five movies with bad writing, bad acting, cheesy special effects and worse dialog, with overtones of pedophilia and statutory rape for good measure.

This film series has an allegedly positive message for underage girls: If your 100-plus year-old boyfriend won't have sex with you and turns you down so in order to spare you from becoming one of the soulless undead like he is, just pout, sulk and mope around. He will find this demeaning, childish behavior irresistable. Then, he will love you, bite your neck, and then you'll be happy ever after. Just let your boyfriend make all your decisions for you. He knows best, and will never take advantage of you.

This is considered a virtuous series because it has sparkly vampires not afraid to talk about their feelings and relationships, werewolves and lots of murder, but very little actual sex. Young girls find these stories “safe.” Pardon me while I gag.

I think one of the reasons this film series made so much money was all the free publicity it generated with the rumors about a love affair between the stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, rumors of Stewart's alleged affair with director Rupert Sanders. These rumors kept the Twilight series in the news constantly for years. Kudos to the PR people who facilitated all this free publicity. This publicity was worth many millions of dollars. I have never seen any other movie series get anywhere near this much free publicity.

I really resent having to sit through this absurdly popular excrement in order to fulfill my obligations as a film critic. Give me “Pearl Harbor” or “The Last Airbender” any day of the week over the anti-feminist, anti-responsibility, brain-dead, adolescent drivel in the “Twilight” series.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

[Strip of film rule]
Copyright © 2012 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
[Strip of film rule]
Back to the Laramie Movie Scope index.
[Rule made of Seventh Seal sillouettes]

Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)