I know you’re expecting a “Worst of 2010″ list, but I just don’t
think I can write it. Don’t get me wrong, I know that this year was full
of such stinkers as Jonah Hex, Skyline, Extraordinary
Measures
, Grown Ups and Marmaduke (Nutcracker in 3D
was quietly dumped in a very limited release, thank God), just to name a
few, but I didn’t see any of those films. In fact, I go very far out of
my way to avoid seeing bad movies intentionally.

You see, I am not a professional film critic. I’m simply a blogger
who pays for all of his movie tickets out of pocket (okay, out of a
stash of free movie passes given to me by friends and family, but
still). I refuse to pay for a movie ticket with the intention of
suffering for two hours unless I’m getting paid for it.

Of course, even if a film looks good, sounds good and carries tons of
critical acclaim, that’s still no guarantee that the film will actually
be good. I’ve learned that the hard way many times over this year. As
such, I’ve put together these, my picks for the ten biggest movie
letdowns of 2010.

NOTICE: These films are not necessarily on the list because
they’re bad. In fact, a few entries on this list are actually quite good
in some ways. No, these are the films that I sat through only to find
that they were overhyped, overrated, didn’t deliver what they promised
or left too much potential untapped. They might have done a few things
right, but there were some key things they did wrong that underwhelmed
me and left a bad taste in my mouth. That said, read on and get your
flamethrowers ready.

Dishonorable
Mention: Mother

Despite an outstanding premise and more positive reviews than I could
possibly count, this movie almost literally had me frothing at the
mouth in rage when I left the theater. The film was populated entirely
with heartless douchebags who looked like even worse excuses for human
beings next to the impossibly pure mother and her son. This would have
made the movie unbearable enough, but then the only two sympathetic
characters in the film turn out to be hopeless assholes as well. All of
this topped with a conclusion that might as well have given me the
finger for taking it upon myself to sit through this atrocity.

This film would easily have been my number one pick… except that it
debuted in South Korea last year. It might have seen an American
release in 2010, but it’s still not a 2010 film. Oh well.

#10 (tie). The
Wolfman
/ Nightmare on Elm
Street

The Wolfman‘s director unexpectedly bailed at the last minute
and the Nightmare on Elm St. remake was being made by Platinum
Dunes, so both movies carried early reasons to expect inferior quality.
Still, both movies had good monsters cast, with Benicio del Toro as the
Wolfman (supported by Anthony Hopkins and Hugo Weaving), and Jackie
Earle Haley as Freddy Krueger. What’s more, The Wolfman and his
transformation were spectacular, and the new Freddy Krueger was a
creepy, scary, sadistic and homicidal pedophile.

Alas, though both films did their monsters extremely well, that was
the only thing they did right. Both films made a mess out of their
respective stories and carried potential for deeper themes that went
completely untapped or mismanaged. These films could have been a fresh
start for two great horror franchises. As it is, they turned out to be
rightfully-abandoned failures.

#9. Salt

I’d put this one higher, but I think it was obvious by the time of
release that this would turn out to be a flop. It’s a damn shame, too: A
spy thriller starring Angelina Jolie, Liev Shreiber and Chiwetel
Ejiofor should have been something much more exciting than this.

The story was an incomprehensible wreck, the fight scenes were awful,
Ejiofor was totally misused, none of the characters were remotely
sympathetic and the ending was a useless cliffhanger for a sequel that
never had a chance of coming. I’m very glad that this movie disappeared
into the ether so quickly, though I’m sorry that such obscurity was
necessary.

#8. Love
and Other Drugs

Don’t get me wrong, this one was wonderfully cast. There’s some good
humor in here and the all of the actors (save for one) turn in some
solid work, particularly our two romantic leads. Unfortunately, the
love subplot is bullshit and the characters are all totally unlikable.
There’s also the matter of Josh Gadd, whose very miscast and anti-funny
presence poisons the movie.

Sorry, folks, but this was an undeniable letdown.

#7. The
Fighter

Oh, Christian Bale. You can’t ever be satisfied with just a
supporting role, can you? First you demanded that John Connor’s role be
expanded in Terminator: Salvation for no constructive reason, and
now this.

I respect that this one is getting a lot of awards buzz. I really do.
The actors in this film are amazing, but the characters they’re playing
— save only for that of Christian Bale — are crap. The protagonist
has no active role in the story, the romance subplot is lazily written
and Bale’s supporting role gets more character development than the rest
of the cast put together.

A film with this much awards buzz should not have such a lousy
screenplay. Simple as that.

#6. Hereafter

Clint Eastwood is directing from a script by Peter Morgan. Matt Damon
is starring. The film is about death and the afterlife, something that
must be close to Eastwood’s heart at his age. How bad could it possibly
be?

Pretty bad.

Bryce Dallas Howard is totally wasted here and Damon is the only
other actor in this film who’s worth a damn. The whole picture was shot
in an ugly blue-green filter, the dialogue is often sappy and the
screenplay is clearly underdone. The film had only one interesting
storyline out of three, all of which meshed together with the grace of a
car crash. Sorry, Clint, but you’re done coasting on Oscar goodwill.

#5. Catfish

I can’t remember the last time I heard so much ado about nothing.
This film was sold to me as some brilliant internet-age thriller that
dealt with social networking in a new and thought-provoking way.
Instead, this film depicted a perfectly mundane and ordinary
happenstance, playing it perfectly straight. The story was very sweet
and certain online applications were used in clever ways, but there’s
otherwise nothing to make this film extraordinary. Nothing to make it
scary and nothing new to think of that anyone with a Facebook account
hasn’t already contemplated on a daily basis. It’s not necessarily a bad
movie, but it was sure as hell a letdown.

#4. Tamara
Drewe

I heard about the premise and the cast and thought that this might
make for a very funny rom-com. Then I sat down in the theater and found
myself bored to tears. Later, roughly halfway through the movie, I made
the discovery that some despicable little teenage hellion got more
screentime and had more effect on the plot than our namesake character.
That’s when I knew I hated this film.

The storyline of this movie is driven pretty much entirely by its
least likable characters. This alone completely removes any charm the
film may have had. Why did anyone see this film again? …Oh,
right.

#3. Tron:
Legacy

Yeah, you knew this was coming.

With this film, the good people of Disney spared no expense in
promising a CGI 3D extravaganza with a phenomenal soundtrack by Daft
Punk and wonderful action sequences inspired by the original movie.
That’s exactly what they delivered and nothing else. The screenplay
seems to have been treated as an afterthought, with shoddy dialogue,
clumsy story arcs and more plot holes than a dozen movie critics could
count.

Far more unforgivably, the film shows absolutely no knowledge of
software or computer culture. The last film depicted computer programs
in a totally unprecedented way and the sequel does nothing to push that
envelope thirty years later. Computers have come a long way in the
decades since and seeing that progress through the Tron universe’s lens
was a key reason why fans were so excited for the sequel. Alas, any
commentary on our increasingly digital lives was tossed by the wayside
to make room for more neon visuals and a plot that didn’t make any lick
of sense.

#2. Clash of the
Titans

Yes, I understand that your mileage may vary widely on how well the
original film has held up. Still, this was supposed to be a clean slate.
This film was supposed to have a more badass Perseus, more threatening
monsters, better effects and better use of Greek mythology.

Unfortunately, the final film shows clear marks of tampering. You
need only see it to know that there were reshoots and script changes to
give the film a happier ending. Moreover, no one would cast the Greek
pantheon with such actors as Danny Huston just to send all of them —
save only for Zeus and Hades — to the wayside as the finished film did.

The gods vs. mortals theme was a great foundation for the movie,
which is presumably why it was beat into the audiences’ skulls as
frequently and annoyingly as it was. The film also eschewed Andromeda —
the traditional love interest of Perseus since antiquity — in favor of
Io, a very obscure nymph who the movie turned into the goddess of bad
screenwriting.

Put simply, this movie intentionally screwed the pooch so badly and
missed so many opportunities that I have no problem calling it one of
the year’s biggest disappointments. I can only wish better fortunes on Wrath
of the Titans
, the sequel currently in development with Jonathan
Liebesman stepping in for Louis Leterrier.

#1. Alice in
Wonderland

Whenever I think of this film, my thoughts immediately go to that
third-act flashback. Partly, that’s because it was easily the best scene
of the movie. Mostly, it’s because that was the film I was hoping for. I
wanted to see the story of Alice in Wonderland faithfully adapted by
the visionary talent of Tim Burton. I saw a brief glimpse of that in the
flashback and it looked awesome. But then, just as quickly, the scene
ended. We were taken from Wonderland and returned to the Underland, a
place of formulaic plots, overworn cliches, predictable storytelling,
unforgivably misused talent, break dancing and other mediocrities.

Maybe I’m wrong here, but I thought that Lewis Carroll’s masterwork
was made so popular and timeless precisely because there was nothing
else like it. Its setting is supposed to be a place devoid of order or
sanity, by name and nature a parody of logic. Tim Burton and
screenwriter Linda Woolverton took the wonder out of Wonderland, and
that was their greatest crime in making this picture.

This film had the balls to show us the far superior movie that we
wanted to see, rejected and replaced with the by-the-numbers bullshit we
got. That makes it more than worthy of the top spot on this list.