This is not a best or worst films list. There are good and bad films on each of the following Top 5 lists but that’s not why they’re there.
See, each year we watch previews for the year’s upcoming films and form expectations… be them good or bad. In turn, a handful of films manage to surprise us… be that in a good way or a bad way. Below you’ll find the 10 films that had the biggest swing for me based on my expectations and their execution. REMEMBER, this is NOT a Top 5 Best/Worst list for the year. This is 10 films that managed to impress me with what they had or severely let me down. Let’s jump in.
5. TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON.
Ah, my favorite Floyd album. Plain and simply put… it didn’t suck! I absolutely loved the first Transformers film. It was a great take on a stupid idea (bringing a toy to the big screen). The sequel absolutely sucked. So, why would would I expect anything from the threequel? Well, turns out, this film was actually a fun one and everything I want out of a summer film. Plus, it inspired the funniest thing to ever leave my son’s mouth: Man, if anyone goes to Chicago on vacation, all they’re going to see is a bunch of dead robots.
VERDICT: Not Citizen Kane but a fun movie night.
4. BATTLE: LOS ANGELES.
Does anyone else remember this film? While something like District 9 is a better film, I don’t know why a film like that is embraced and a film like Battle: Los Angeles is almost forgotten the minute it hits the public consciousness. Here’s a film that delivered on the excitement of an alien invasion film, dispensing with the strippers with back stories who date pilots, embedding you with the marine corps and jumping right into the fight as the human race takes down some nasty space invaders.
VERDICT: Severely overlooked film.
I think this one might be the How to Train Your Dragon of 2011. I know, having kids, I will have to see EVERY SINGLE animated film that gets released. This one had little to no appeal to me. I was pissed Verbinski was done with the Pirates franchise and his animated passion project appeared to show little promise. Sure, Depp was on board but Depp frequently collaborated with directors with varying success (Sleepy Hollow, anyone?). Turns out, I was wrong. I think this might be the best animated film of the year.
VERDICT: Let’s hope Rango can take down Pixar come Oscar time in one of their rare off years.
2. THE CHANGE-UP.
The premise of two people switching bodies/lives was tired long before Freaky Friday came out. So, why would I think trying it again on 2011 would be a good idea? Well, I didn’t. Turns out though, the film was pretty damn funny. I actually watched this and Bridesmaids back to back and liked this film more. [To be fair, I watched a horrible copy of Bridesmaids that had some audio issues and it does deserve another viewing] Honestly, the film might have been my favorite comedy of the year and has a real chance of making my Top 10 of the year. I know it sounds silly and opinions on this film are really mixed but I absolutely dug it.
VERDICT: My surprise film of the year.
Put it this way… I’m a Fanboy. I had high expectations for this film and it still blew me away. Now, to be clear, I did expect the least from Thor than I did for the rest of The Avengers films. Thor suffered from the beginning for being the least cool of the group, having no marquee villains, being the only other-worldly character in a pretty grounded Marvel-film universe and for having the least recognizable name in the credits. It also had no real climax as we’ve discussed on MILFcast ad nauseum. Still, I couldn’t help leaving the theater feeling truly satisfied.
VERDICT: The best Avenger film after Iron Man.
5. APOLLO 18.
Harry Potter is so lucky I remembered seeing this film. I LOVE the “found footage” premise. I also think every idea is better when you add the words “in space”. So, naturally, a “found footage in space” film got me very excited. The trailer seemed good enough and the premise for the story was great but (DEAR GOD!) was this movie bad. It was strangely slow. Not in a building tension kind of way… in a why is nothing happening kind of way. This film had about five good minutes in it at the end but I honestly can’t believe I didn’t stop the movie before getting to that point.
VERDICT: It’s too bad they found this footage… in space.
I was positive this was going to be my sleeper hit of the year. Ever since The Descent, I am obsessed with any films that involve underground cave exploration. Especially when those caves are underwater! When James Cameron slapped his name on the film, I was sure it was going to rock my socks off. Unfortunately, it just ended up being meh! Not good, not bad, just meh!
3. PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES.
The first Pirates film was AMAZING! And, I’ll admit it, I bought into the hype. Word around the campfire early on was that this was a return to form for the franchise. That all the wackiness of the sequels had been abandoned and this film had gone back to basics. Instead it was a boring reproduction. They actually got rid of the characters of Elizabeth and Will Turner and replaced them with poor carbon copies. What was that all about? And (never start a sentence with “and” all you young writers out there) had this film not had one great scene featuring mermaids, it would have been a stinker from top to bottom.
VERDICT: I’m gonna go watch The Little Mermaid.
2. THE HANGOVER PART 2.
My biggest complaint about this film is a silly one. It is that it is EXACTLY the same as the first film. Now, we all expected it to be the exact same as the first one yet somehow thought Gallifinakis could make us laugh enough to forget that fact. Unfortunately, it was too exact. It felt like cut, paste and change location to Singapore. Now, I still really like all these characters but there’s a good chance that you cannot reignite a frenzy built by surprise when there are so many expectations the second time around. Maybe we should’ve just learn to leave well enough alone.
VERDICT: Screw it. Let’s try one more time. Amsterdam here we come!!!
1. SUCKER PUNCH.
I actually don’t dislike this film as much as many other people do but GOD! did I want more from it. Zack Snyder has made some of my favorite films of the past decade and had yet to put out even an average film (in my humble opinion). While this film was AMAZING to look at and had everything in it from a Fanboy’s wet dream, it just didn’t have a solid story. I couldn’t get past all the wholes and leaps of faith and understanding it expected you to take.
VERDICT: I dunno but I was really turned on when I watched it.
Remember, we here at Man, I Love Films don’t do definitive lists. We do our favorites and we want to hear yours. So, make sure and tell us about them in the comments section below.