What really constitutes a "disappointment" is pretty subjective. To use a couple of examples: some people would say they were really let down by Captain America: The First Avenger or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, simply because the films weren't as fantastic as they had hoped. Others, though, would argue those titles are still rock-solid films and that certain moviegoers' expectations were so overblown that no motion picture could possibly meet them. But that's a whole other discussion...
Today, we have a list of 10 films released in 2011 that simply failed to live up to ther Screen Rant staff's collective expectations. Bear in mind, this isn't at all synonymous with a "worst of" list for 2011 - in fact, you may notice that a handful of the movies listed here actually received decent reviews from us.
Read on to see if you agree with our selections and leave your own stories of disappointment at the movies in our comment section below.
1. Green Lantern
This particular DC comic book flick has stirred up more debate than any other 2011 blockbuster. Pre-release buzz varied from hostile (see: early reactions to the incomplete CGI Lantern costume) to ecstatic (see: responses to the WonderCon footage). When the actual movie was released, the majority of moviegoers were undeniably disappointed - and yet, a passionate minority continues to insist that Green Lantern got an unfair bum rap from critics. (Go figure.)
As far as we here at Screen Rant are concerned, Green Lantern was the biggest letdown of 2011 - not only because of how it fumbled the supehero's mythology, but also because it had weak dialogue, a lackluster plot, curious lapses in character motivation, and expensive digital effects that distracted from (rather than enhancing) the film's messy thematic arc.
At the end of the day, this is one comic book property that we'd support getting a fresh start - be it via a "rebooting sequel" (see: G.I. Joe 2) or a standard do-over (see: The Incredible Hulk).
2. Sucker Punch
Zack Snyder's ambitious attempt to blend his trademark hyper-realistic visuals and rockin' soundtracks with an original storyline that pays homage to Alice in Wonderland (and borrows a few tricks from Inception) certainly looked and sounded like a shiny, female-centric action blockbuster... in early trailers and clips, that is.
Sadly, Sucker Punch ultimately proved unable to coherently address its own existential themes or create interesting (or even discernible) characters; the film's action sequences and set pieces weren't all that thrilling, either. Snyder, by his own admittance, attempted to structure the movie as a meta-commentary on the often-sexualized nature of geek culture; his inability to pull that off resulted in Sucker Punch feeling more like an (inadvertently) exploitative two-hour long music video that isn't nearly as brainy as it fancies itself to be.
3. J. Edgar
Clint Eastwood's latest filmmaking effort is another case where the final product turned out...decent. Still, this had the potential to be far more than a run-of-the-mill biographical drama - one which fumbles some fascinating subject matter, a tedious approach to storytelling, and even some questionable technical qualities (ex. the "old person" makeup effects).
J. Edgar isn't all disappointment, of course. It does feature some very good supporting turns from people like Armie Hammer and Judi Dench; not to mention, some of the best period-accurate production design (costumes, props, etc.) you're likely to see onscreen outside of acclaimed period TV dramas like Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire.
All the same, Eastwood's Hoover biopic (as a whole) is kind of like Leonardo DiCaprio's performance as the title character: satisfactory, but disappointingly far from the crowning achievement it had the potential to be.
4. Cowboys & Aliens
A popular fake movie poster that re-named Cowboys & Aliens as "Geek Nirvana" was right on the money. This project featured creative input from people like Iron Man director Jon Favreau, producers Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard, along with Star Trek writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, Lost writer/co-showrunner Damon Lindelof, and Iron Man scribes Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby. Not to mention, it pitted James Bond (Daniel Craig) and Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) against aliens, in an Old West backdrop.
Having so many cooks in the kitchen ultimately didn't help this sci-fi-meets-western romp. Cowboys & Aliens is a standard and serviceable popcorn flick, but given the talent involved, we expected something more. For all the premature skepticism that surrounded the film because of its campy title, it's kind of ironic that combining a gritty western with sci-fi archetypes was the one thing this movie didn't have much trouble doing.
5. Battle Los Angeles
Battle Los Angeles was marketed as a realistic and unpolished war flick in the vein of Black Hawk Down, featuring U.S. soldiers battling literal alien invaders. While director Jonathan Liebesman went overboard with "shaky cam" and frantic editing, the main culprit responsible for the movie being just so-so was Christopher Bertolini's screenplay. Even some pretty solid acting wasn't enough to overcome predictable plot twists, clunky character beats, and a less-than-captivating storyline.
BLA was one of two releases in 2011 that aimed to effectively mash up sci-fi with another genre, but was only somewhat successful with the blend. The other film in question (as shall be discussed next) didn't turn out so well either.
6. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark
Director Troy Nixey's Don't Be Afraid of the Dark remake managed to leave an impression with its (creepy) teaser trailer. The news that Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth) had co-written and produced the film only lent further credence to the idea that this could be a great addition to the haunted house/monster horror genre.
Nixey and del Toro ultimately failed to do anything interesting with Don't Be Afraid of the Dark; the remake also suffers from some shoddy filmmaking and poor acting. When a movie is marketed as being "presented by Guillermo del Toro," we've come to expect something memorable like The Orphanage or Splice - not a throwaway supernatural horror flick like this one.
7. In Time
Those who are well-versed in the cinema of Andrew Niccol (writer of Gattaca, The Truman Show, and S1m0ne) were really excited to hear that he was working on a new original, thought-provoking project, which ultimately ended up being titled In Time. Early footage might not have looked spectacular, but there were still hopes that Niccol would deliver yet another provocative helping of philosophical sci-fi cinema.
Sadly, that didn't prove to be the case. In Time features a great premise and touches on some timely social issues, but not in a competent or interesting manner. Justin Timberlake didn't exactly get high marks as the film's protagonist, and even generally reliable thespians such as Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy, and Vincent Kartheiser failed to leave a strong impression.
Niccol has translated his cool ideas into great moviemaking before, but In Time was something he should've let cook a bit longer before serving.
When the first trailer for Immortals was unveiled, most everyone had the same thought - "It looks like '300'" - but since a lot of people actually enjoyed 300, that didn't seem like such a bad thing. With director Tarsem Singh (The Cell) calling the shots, Immortals was guaranteed to at least boast some pretty spectacular visuals.
The film definitely triumphs in the area of eye candy - the problem is, it falls flat most everywhere else. That can partially be chalked up to a weak screenplay, but Singh shares some blame as well; Immortals only sporadically delivers impressive fight choreography and set pieces.
Who would've thought a movie that includes a vicious "minotaur" with a barbed-wire head, Mickey Rourke as a merciless ancient barbarian, and a literal battle between Gods and Titans could be so... well, boring?
9. The Hangover Part II
While director Todd Phillips' followup to The Hangover may have boasted one of the best posters of 2011, the comedy sequel otherwise proved to be a real dud. It still managed to make a bundle in theaters and left many people satisfied, but the moviegoing masses as a whole (us included) were decidedly less enthused about the Wolfpack's second round of drunken tomfoolery.
We didn't head into The Hangover Part II expecting something all that innovative; even the film's trailers made it clear, the sequel's plot was virtually identical to the original. Where the movie was lacking was in the department(s) that really mattered - that is, humor and heart. Many of the lewd gags, outrageous jokes, actor cameos, or even character beats in the second Hangover flick just fell flat or felt irritatingly tired. Lightning rarely strikes the same place twice - somebody probably should've let Phillips and Co. in on that "secret" in advance.
10. Apollo 18
Back in January 2011, director Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego's low-budget sci-fi/horror faux documentary, Apollo 18, managed to land a spot on our Most Anticipated Movies of 2011 list. That was due primarily to the film's ominous poster and the plot setup (ie. The Blair Witch Project on the moon meets a wicked sci-fi conspiracy thriller).
Things started to look less enticing following the premiere of a spoiler-heavy first trailer and multiple release date delays, with rumors circulating that Apollo 18 was being heavy re-edited, as a means of salvaging the (dismal) final product. Not so surprisingly, the actual movie turned out to be one of the worst of the year.
The moral of the story? A memorable poster and logline does not a great movie make (see: the next entry on our list, for further proof).