The Top Ten Most Underrated Films of 2012

Posted by Maria Mills | Posted on 5:21 PM | Posted in

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Movie Analysis written by: Born Movie Reviews


Among the hundreds of movies that were released in 2012, there are always some that are overlooked -- many overrated and many underrated. There will always be a list of movies that audience members have missed. From a forgiving critic's perspective, here are ten films that I believe deserved more praise than it did -- the ten most underrated films of 2012.


It may shock viewers that a film from the Twilight franchise is on this list. Believe me, I am shocked as well. I have seen and reviewed all the Twilight films, and Breaking Dawn Part 2 is the only one I have given a positive rating. Move aside the audience who hate the series because of the conceptual idea. I am a critic who hated the series because of the poor writing and cardboard acting. However, Breaking Dawn Part 2 is the only film among the series that attempted at being a cinematic work. Directed by Bill Condon, the finale of the franchise did indeed achieve a sense of conclusion. It had a final battle, more bearable acting, and a sense of trying. Yes, the visual effects are still horrible and I swear, Renesmee is partially computer-generated. As a film alone, Breaking Dawn Part 2 is still a piece that critics can pan. But if graded on a curve within the franchise, this is surprisingly a more enjoyable and satisfying bite.


The number one problem with the horror genre today is what filmmakers think the genre's purpose is. It is meant to drive with an intriguing storyline, with a powerhouse performance, moody atmosphere, and a sense of mystery to keep the audience magnetized. However, today, many filmmakers believe that the genre's sole purpose is to "inflict things." Move aside the gore. Move aside the violence. Go back to solid old-fashioned horror filmmaking, and Sinister is probably the most loyal entry I have seen in years. Indeed, it has flaws here and there, but Sinister does not come forth as a pure horror film, where the scares are first priority. Instead, it tries to be a legit film with a story and good characters. The scares come second. With no plot holes or confusing plot lines, Sinister is one of the most satisfying films of the year based on what it was meant to offer.


Yes, people who have seen it know that 21 Jump Street is a clever hilarious comedy. The reason why the film is on this list is because it deserves a much larger audience. For a film that arrived during the glut of lame comedies, 21 Jump Street did not receive enough attention, mostly because the trailers made it look unoriginal. In all honesty, I skipped this movie when it arrived in theaters, and I did not know that this movie was good until I saw it on a plane. Now, it is one of my favorite American comedies of all time, satirizing 80s-like tropes while flirting at the YouTube generation. It is a self-aware action film in combination to the buddy cop genre, along with a terrific chemistry between Hill and Tatum, the latter being an actor who I never thought could be funny. On a joke basis, the film hit 90% of the time, while keeping a sense of morality, wit, and entertainment. It is a perfect relax comedy, a considerably small film that arrived in 2012, but deserves a higher box office as well as attention from the public audience.


Just like number 8, End of Watch is another film that received too small of an audience. Those who were fortunate to watch it would agree with me that it triumphs with terrific acting and a compelling narrative. One of the best films of 2012, End of Watch reminds us why we love Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena as actors. Imagine Gyllenhaal from Brothers meeting with Pena from Crash. Put them in a buddy cop genre. For a film that just came and went, End of Watch deserves much more attention. Despite its power, it is inevitably too small of a film. However, this is probably the best cop film I have ever seen.


This is a simple man vs nature film, and that is exactly why a lot of people were not interested. Starring Liam Neeson, The Grey is a solid action thriller that offers more than what it is supposed to. With a philosophical touch to its narrative, and thematic characters that are not cliche, The Grey is also one of the most satisfying films of the year based on what it was meant to offer. I remember watching this film in early 2012. I was recalling the end of 2011, unsure of what to expect of 2012. The Grey was one out of three films that gave me hope and optimism that it was going to be a good year for movies. With probably Liam Neeson's best performances in years, The Grey is intense and raw in its ferocity. Although some may criticize its ending, the film gives a strong bite and packs the strongest punch for a film about men and wolves.


In the previous entry, I mentioned that The Grey was one out of three films that gave me hope for the year of 2012. Chronicle was the second film. Presented as a found footage movie, Chronicle is simply an amazing film that arrived in theaters at the wrong time. For a time where we are plagued by the Paranormal Activity series, 2012 was the worst year for Chronicle to come out, and that is why it had probably the smallest audience out of all ten movies on this list. However, give the film a chance. The script is tightly written, and the performances are incredible, especially for three actors who I have never seen before on screen. Without a doubt, the film looks very low-budget, but the visual effects and storytelling puts everything aside. Similar to the impact District 9 gave, the impact Chronicle gave was a quiet rebellion to all the blockbusters of 2012. For me, it was one of the most memorable rebellions I have seen in years.


Listed as one of my best films of 2012, The Cabin in the Woods was the third film that confirmed to me that 2012 was going to be a great year. Again, the film was a small one that slid into theaters but loudly woke up anyone who was fortunate to watch it. Arguably, the film was promoted wrong and the trailer was way too misleading. To be honest, I went to the theater to see this simply because of two reasons: Because of all the praise I heard from critics, and because of the tagline -- "You think you know the story. Think again." I do know the cliche story. A few college students spend a break at a cabin, and bad things start to happen. I went in expecting something a little smarter. What I got instead was a complete game-changer, and this shockingly hilarious surprise is what inspired me to put Cabin in the Woods as one of the best films of the year.


Four years earlier, we already had the third Spider-Man movie from the Sam Raimi trilogy. Why reboot the web-slinger now, out of all things? That is what everyone asked when The Amazing Spider-Man began its promotion. With a brand-new cast, the film was extremely difficult for many audience members to accept. To my greatest surprise, it told one of the best humanity stories in the superhero genre ever. Out of all the films, The Amazing Spider-Man is the second best, behind Spider-Man 2. With Andrew Garfield portraying a new, maybe more likable, Peter Parker, and Emma Stone playing a charismatic Gwen Stacy, the new lead duo in this film is well-written and well-acted. The film alone may be a little too old-fashioned for some people, similar to Captain America, but The Amazing Spider-Man told a great story with great power -- and with great power comes great responsibility. This reboot came forth with the awareness that it needed to be rebooted for the right reason. It paid great attention to its narrative and managed to break my bias of not needing a Spider-Man reboot. Surprisingly, this web-slinger is worth the shot.


Just because the film was not what you expected does not make it a bad movie. Advertised as a prequel to AlienPrometheus was definitely one of the most anticipated movie of 2012, and arguably, it disappointed many viewers. Instead of answering our questions, it offered us new ones, and did not answer those either. In response, many criticized the film for poor writing and poor construction. On the contrary, the ambiguity of Prometheus is what makes its content grand and magnificent. It is designed to make us think after the viewing, with several philosophical questions that make us give our own interpretations. This galaxy of questions are not meant to have the answers, and that is what gives Prometheus its haunting power. Though it leaves the audience confused and unsatisfied, the film is undoubtedly an adrenaline-rushed thriller well-directed by Ridley Scott. Metaphorically, imagine yourself expecting a delicious cake for dessert. Instead, you get a pie. The expected cake was our expectations of Prometheus. The actual movie is the pie. It is not what we wanted, but that does not mean it is therefore bad. On its own, Prometheus accomplished so much and might possibly be pointed at as one of the best sci-fi films in recent years.


Yes, the number one entry on this list goes to the film that everyone laughed at, that everyone scoffed at for how ridiculous its premise sounded. In all honesty, I thought it was the dumbest thing ever thought of, and I already thought Cowboys & Aliens was a preposterous idea. I walked in expecting to later review a film that was hopeless and had no chance of impressing me. After walking out, I truly experienced the common phrase — "never judge a book by its cover." This is undoubtedly the most unforeseen well-made movie I have ever seen. It is far more entertaining than I expected and surpassed my standards of a film with such a ridiculous title. It does the greatest justice to its title, combining real historical events with fictional fantasy. Similar to what National Treasure did to history, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter plays and twists Civil War history to vampire slaying. Believe me, the film combines the two so swiftly that it creates a logical alternate world of America. It is horribly appealing, the most aberrant guilty pleasure I have experienced in years. Imagine that the South was originally winning because its army consisted of vampires. Imagine that Lincoln's second son, Willie, who died of unconfirmed typhoid fever, was actually killed by a vampire. The film gives probably the most entertaining and stylish spin on the Civil War period than any other film can ever pull off. As for the ridiculous idea itself, it is an idea that people need to more welcome to. Movies are supposed to be plain fictional stories that can engage us and grab our interest for two hours. In Chinese culture, writers have long taken famous historical figures and throw them into a fictional story. Is it wrong to have a preposterous but purely original idea here? Absolutely not. As long as the film is committed to its substance from beginning to end, it gets the job done. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a film fully devoted to its narrative, completely faithful to its material, and is definitely my number one most underrated film of 2012.

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