As Time Magazine selects its worst movies of 2012, Anghus Houvouras asks whether Cloud Atlas is worthy of its place at the top of the list…
There was a time when there was a very clear and defined line between online film sites and the mainstream media. On one side you had the unorganized snarky bloggers prone to fits of fanboy narcissism and possessing a wicked sense of entitlement. On the other you had the very metered, traditional, cerebral film press who traditionally rose above the more juvenile bile spewing tactics in favor of a more educated approach to criticism.
The line has become blurred over the years as mainstream press outlets have been hemorrhaging readership and the online film websites have slowly gone from guerrilla journalism into a more publicist friendly outlet for studio shills hawking their product at attending press junkets. As the line between professional film writer and online blogger became blurry, there were still those mainstream outlets that tried to maintain a sense of dignity when their online peers were employing tabloid tactics hacking television executive websites for academy award nominees or trying to sell their screenplays.
Credibility is all these mainstream film outlets had going for them. Like many publications, the mainstream press are abandoning logic and common sense in favor or tabloid style writing guaranteed to elicit a reaction. And using that logic it’s easy to understand why Time Magazine named Cloud Atlas the Worst Movie of 2012.
First off, let me declare that I was no fan of Cloud Atlas [read my review here]. I thought it was mediocre, uneven, and a tragically over produced piece of unintentionally amusing tripe. I struggled to maintain focus while watching it. I marveled at the hilariously terrible make up and grade school philosophy being spoon fed to me. And yet, I think I can think of films that were worse than Cloud Atlas.
If nothing else, Cloud Atlas should be spared for the effort to create something unique. It’s the product of lofty goals and a grand design that ultimately falls flat. The same could be said of Time’s choice for the second worst film of the year: John Carter. Another overpriced, empty epic that failed to ignite. There are many, many criticisms that could be launched at these two films. But ‘Worst of the Year’? Time film critic Mary Pols is just the latest writer to abandon logic and reason in favor of grand, sweeping statements guaranteed to stir the pot. This is the kind of grandstanding usually reserved for the fanboy sites like Ain’t It Cool News or Badass Digest. These are not the musings of a film writer with any level of respect for cinema as an art, or cinema as a craft. These are the kind of poorly thought out shock statements of someone desperate to remain relevant as the print medium dies a slow and painful death.
I don’t know how many movies Mary Pols saw this year. I’m guessing it was a pretty significant number. Can Cloud Atlas really be worse than Adam Sandler’s woeful comedy That’s My Boy? Or the found footage awfulness of The Devil Inside? The anemic thriller The Cold Light of Day? I mean, if you’re going to rough up a Taylor Kitsch film, couldn’t you have gone with the truly terrible Battleship? Atlas Shrugged II: The Strike? One for the Money?
Picking Cloud Atlas and John Carter feels so ridiculously easy. Populist choices for an out of touch publication that has seen far better days.
It pains me because I have to sit here and defend Cloud Atlas, and I didn’t even like it. Still, I’m smart enough to know the difference between ‘truly awful’ and ‘well intended’, even if Mary Pols and Time Magazine isn’t.