It's always fun to read best and worst lists at the end of the year, and the worst lists are often the most enjoyable.
Siskel and Ebert used to have their best of the year show one week, then their worst of the year show the following week, and their hilariously vitriolic commentaries were absolutely a hoot.
So right now there’s a bit of debate among geeks out there over Time Magazine’s ten worst list of the year, because two big genre films made the top two. John Carter came in at #2, and Cloud Atlas was deemed the top turkey of 2012. Critic Mary Pols said she saw Carter with her son, "a moviegoer so generous, he has defended Jar Jar Binks…At the end, I expected my kid to announce that John Carter was awesome. Instead he said, ‘That has to go on your worst list.’"
Pols also didn’t think much of Atlas, writing that the film "is so much like the bong-fueled conversations I had in college that I almost ordered a Domino’s pizza afterward. The problem is there’s no emotional hook in this bloated fantasia of special effects and makeup wizardry…there’s as much opportunity to get attached to characters as there would be watching people go by on a roller coaster."
John Carter’s especially been the whipping boy this year, it was practically doomed from the get go, but Cloud Atlas tried very hard to deliver something ambitious and thought provoking, and at least it was something different from the usual tired parade of remakes and reboots. Is Time being a little too harsh?
Indeed, Giant Freakin Robot brought up a very good point: Where was Battleship on the list? Robot also called Atlas “a fascinating failure. To many viewers, the film never reached any higher than a cinematic gimmick with its reaching storyline and not-so-subtle themes and drama. It’s a movie written entirely in platitudes, giving sophisticated moviegoers headaches and casual audiences boring and emotion-less moving images. But it’s by no means the worst movie of the year.”
And again, at least somebody tried to do something different. So many people in Hollywood claim they want to take risks, but only as long as those risks really pay off with big money at the box office. Nobody’s interested in risks if it means failure, and in Hollywood, there’s just too much money on the line to experiment and take real risks, no matter what anyone says.
Considering Cloud Atlas’s considerable length, it could be easier to audiences to take on at home, and digest it slowly. Could it find an audience on DVD / Blu-ray / VOD? It hasn’t happened with John Carter, although Carter does have its fans, and it still remains to be seen if Cloud Atlas will one catch on, and ultimately have a second life or not.