The Worst of 2011

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  • Those who are passionate about their likes are often equally passionate about their dislikes. We here at Team Unwinnable can certainly attest to that.

    In 2011, we found many slices of awesomeness that gladdened our geek glands and fanned our fan flames. Sadly, we also watched, heard and experienced a bunch of bullshit that left us craving flashbacks from a perfect year like 1983 to help cleanse our corrupted souls.

    That being said, what kind of friends would we be if we didn’t tell you how to think?

    So because our opinions count (hey, we do have a website), we present to you, Dear Reader, the Worst of 2011.

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    Music

    Worst Album From the Greatest Metal Band of All Time Who Are Now Just a Bunch of Washed-Up Pansies: Metallica and Lou Reed – Lulu

    Lulu is the kind of trash that’s so utterly awful that you think someone’s pranking you when you hear it. No amount of quality Metallica, or Lou Reed for that matter, will allow us to unhear the cacophonous cavalcade of pig squeals, out-of-place James Hetfield background vocals and Reed’s “singing.”

    I’ll admit that I am a biased Metallica fan, but I’m certainly no martyr; I am biased to the point where I sat idly through the Napster debacle as quiet and neutral as Switzerland and even enjoyed (albeit slightly) St. Anger, while it was being panned by critics and purists alike.

    Lulu is everything an album shouldn’t be, from soup to nuts, and even by my feeble standards shouldn’t have gone to press. The only redeemable quality of the pairing is that, judging by this atrocity, we will likely never have to endure it ever again. Do your ears a solid for 2012; don’t listen to Lulu. – Erik Weinbrecht

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    Movies

    Worst Comic Book Movie (That We All Expected Would Be Captain America – Which Was Actually Pretty Awesome!): Green Lantern

    Not even Parallax, the embodiment of fear itself, could have induced such a sinking feeling in comic book fans sitting in those darkened theaters, realizing that what was supposed to be our Brightest Day was turning into a Blackest Night right before our eyes.

    Green Lantern was promised to be an action-packed thrill ride that was as much Star Wars as Superman, in the words of star Ryan Reynolds. The talent surrounding it was amazing – Casino Royale director Martin Campbell, the perfect Sinestro in Mark Strong and the Oscar-winning production team behind The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

    But it wasn’t any good.

    It was a green, hot mess, personified by the performance of the ironically last-named Blake Lively as Carol Ferris. She didn’t share chemistry with Ryan Reynolds – now her real-life lover – but rather entropy. Nekron showed more of a pulse in the comics. It’s not solely her fault – Lively wasn’t helped by a script that made Daredevil seem like Citizen Kane.

    Regardless of who was to blame, the movie set DC’s comics-to-movie momentum back into a distant second behind Marvel’s (“This looks like a job for Christopher Nolan!”), and even the Manhunters couldn’t have done more damage to Hal Jordan’s legacy. – Ethan Sacks

    Worst Use of Beefcake in a Film That Needed an Aging Robot from the Future: Conan the Barbarian

    Conan the Barbarian makes the list not because it’s a terrible movie (although it’s not great), but mainly because it’s such a disappointment. It’s been in development hell since the late ’80s, after Arnold’s rapidly-rising star dashed a potential third sequel to the original series.

    I compare the Conan movies to the Punisher franchise: It’s a simple concept that no one has ever really nailed. While elements of Robert E. Howard’s original stories are in the new film, it has too much modern CG slickness for there to be any discernable style from say, the Spartacus: Blood and Sand TV series or any of the other modern sword and sandal/mythology flicks.

    Jason Momoa is a decent choice for Conan, but it seems like director Marcus Nispel doesn’t quite know what to do with the material or cast. The resulting movie is a computerized fantasy mess. – Mike Edwards

    Worst Use of Ridiculously Hot Girls in Skimpy – Wait… This is a Bad Thing? Sucker Punch

    Sucker Punch had a lot of potential. Zack Snyder had done 300, which I loved, and Watchmen, which, while not entirely faithful to the original book, was still a decent adaptation.

    And here was Sucker Punch – another visual stunner, one whose fantasy sequences gave it the feeling of Inception, but with hot girls (all due respect to Marion Cotillard and Ellen Page, but this film had strength in numbers). Instead, we got a mishmash of anachronisms (Steampunk! Orcs! World War I! German zombie troopers! Giant robots! Samurai demons!), a bizarre soundtrack that put Bjork and Skunk Anansie alongside Carla Gugino (singing “Love Is The Drug” in a bad Russian accent) and a plot that turned out to be as deep as a puddle.

    Even my wife, who’s usually pretty forgiving of bad movies, was left wondering what the hell we’d just watched. In the end, Snyder, who said he wanted Sucker Punch “[T]o be a cool story and not just like a videogame where you’re just loose and going nuts,” ended up with the exact opposite. – Don Becker

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    Television

    Worst Use of a Rubber Bodysuit Since the David Carradine Death Closet: American Horror Story

    American Horror Story wasn’t necessarily the worst thing on TV this year, but it annoyed me all the same. Why? Because I’m not sure why I keep watching it.

    It’s a frustratingly inexplicable guilty pleasure, to be sure. I mean, the show is bad, but it’s also hilarious at times (especially when Jessica Lange’s character is involved). But all those bitter marital squabbles threaten to cancel out the fun. There are hints of something that vaguely resembles an intriguing mythology lurking way down beneath the surface, but it’s buried under a lot of dumb storylines about unlikeable living people and annoying ghosts.

    And of course, the show is anything but scary. For the most part, the ghosts are more petty and pathetic than ghoulish. In a sense, the only real threat here is similar to the one the Maitlands face in Beetlejuice: We might be stuck living with some truly irritating spirits.

    I guess in a way American Horror Story could be the new True Blood: It isn’t a great show, and it certainly isn’t a particularly smart show, but it’s crazy enough to be unpredictable. It also seems like it could plausibly go on forever, just throwing more and more supernatural bullshit into the mix. There’s no central question the show must resolve like, “Will they get off the island?” or “Will he get caught?” – just a lot of pulpy melodrama. – Bee Tee Dee

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    Videogames

    Worst Subconscious Labeling of a Game By Its Developer: Duke Nukem Forever

    After I got my first hands-on with Duke Nukem Forever at PAX East 2011, the PR guy asked me if I enjoyed my demo, which opened with Duke pissing into a urinal. I generally evade that question from PR people and replied with my stock answer: “It was interesting.” This was not a true indication of my opinion, but he nodded excitedly and, with a curious glint in his eye, asked if I had checked any of the toilets in the bathroom.

    I explained to him that I don’t generally go around checking toilets (except in Silent Hill – that’s where they keep the keys to everything) and he was visibly crestfallen. “Dude, you missed the shit. You can throw it!”

    I am not kidding – poop throwing is a feature of the game. Gearbox was so excited they even cut a trailer to promote it. Duke Nukem Forever is literally a shitty game.

    Writing this made me cry in despair. A little. – Stu Horvath

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    Comic Books

    Worst Way to Alienate Thousands of Loyal Fans (Just to Gain a Handful of New Ones): DC’s New 52

    All right, so DC Comics’ New 52 Initiative is not the worst thing in comics. Animal Man, Batwoman, Static Shock and The Flash are all exceptional superhero comics. But DC missed the mark with some books so hard I hurt myself with a facepalm.

    Take Catwoman, for example. She has always been a sexy character. Need proof? Read Selina’s Big Score. However, as risqué as Catwoman could get, we never saw her straddling Batman, fumbling with his utility belt and having sex on a rooftop, followed by creepy, postcoital pillow talk. This isn’t Black Kiss, people. It’s about a cat burglar who dresses like a cat.

    Then there’s the new jerk version of Aquaman.

    Aquaman spends its first two issues with Aquaman defending his dignity from a blogger and small-town cops. He does some Superman stuff like foiling a robbery in the middle of a city. Then he stops for fish and chips and argues with the aforementioned blogger. There is a sea-related mystery going on in the second issue, but when Aquaman comes to help, small-town cops laugh at him.

    OK, maybe we know why he’s a dick, but why is Aquaman saddled with meta message board bile as motivation?

    The first time the New 52 universe sees Aquaman, he rises from the sea with a Parademon impaled on his trident, as two other Parademon corpses wash ashore. How is Aquaman considered a crappy superhero?

    He has dominion over most of the Earth. Why isn’t he fighting Somali pirates or bootleggers on the city dock?

    With creators having a relatively clean slate, one would think DC would want to put its best foot forward. However, books like Catwoman, Aquaman, Red Hood and the Outlaws and Suicide Squad sully the line. The DCU has a rich history and a lot of potential and it deserves better. – Ian Gonzales

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    Sports

    Worst Character Creation From That Old Guy Who Keeps Showing Up in Marvel Movies: Stan Lee’s The Guardian Project

    Hockey is a tough sport; it’s raw, ugly and bearded. The game’s also had its fair share of changes over the past decade to increase viewership, but this past spring things went too far. Comic legend Stan Lee teamed up with the NHL and created one of the most non-celebrated and confusing events to ever take place at an NHL game: The Guardian Project. These heroic protectors represented each of the 30 NHL teams and gave us such legendary and imaginative monikers as the New York Rangers’ “Ranger” and The Carolina Hurricanes’ “Hurricane.”

    I bet you thought I made those up, but I kid you not. There’s even a shadowy figure in a blue trench coat who uses a saxophone as his power. With no backstory, reason or relationship to hockey at all, this bewildering atom bomb of an idea was shown to the public and left us all wondering, “Who the hell is Mike Mason? And what the hell does this have to do with hockey?!” – Dave Trainer

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    Acts of Nature

    Worst Natural Disaster That Was Really Just a Mild Inconvenience: Halloween Snowstorm

    While the Northeast was hit by some extraordinary forces of nature this year (Hurricane Irene, Earthquake WTF, the Sheen meltdown), it’s by unanimous Unwinnable agreement that the snowstorm of Halloween ’11 sucked the most. Huge numbers of trees were demolished by the unusual weight of snow on leaves, and scores of unfortunate boys were sadly (and ironically) frozen in their Captain America costumes, encased for all time in frosty tombs.

    OK, so maybe half of that last sentence is exaggeration, but still, we do feel bad for those kids!

    Yes, we here at Team Unwinnable are all too old to go trick-or-treating (at least without arousing suspicion), but dammit, our permanent arrested development demands an orange Halloween – not white.

    So we’ll take a little wind and rain, and we’ll put up with some concrete-cracking ground tremors, but let this serve as fair warning, Mother Nature: Our numbers are growing. Come next October 31st, we had better see nothing but golden, falling leaves, 50-degree temperatures and lots of candy. And maybe a few crappy pennies for UNICEF.
    – Rob Roberts

    Worst Idea By a Company to Help Promote Identity Guard: PlayStation Network Outage

    It wasn’t a great year for Sony, with hacker “geohot” releasing the PS3 root key and opening a Pandora’s box of backup possibilities. In any other year, that would’ve been sufficiently bad, but then the PlayStation Network went down as a result (or by-product) of hackers gaining access to the system and making off with millions of credit card numbers.

    Sony’s online console gaming experience was built on a PC model of peer-to-peer gaming with the PS2, then Microsoft changed everything with Xbox Live. PSN was Sony’s attempt to level the playing field, but it always trailed behind XBL.

    The hack, which took PSN down for nearly a month and put 77 million customers’ personally identifiable information at risk, has been the biggest black eye for online gaming since World of Warcraft’s Corrupted Blood plague. All the while, Sony’s engineers attempted to downplay the problem, and for three weeks users were told the service would be back up within a few days. That sort of clusterfuckery is not what you want to be associated with when you’re trying to convince people that your free product is better than Microsoft’s paid service.

    To their credit, Sony attempted to make things right by offering PSN users free games, identity theft protection and assurances that they stepped up security to prevent this from happening again. But as Ian Hunter sang, “Once bitten, twice shy.” I deleted my PSN account and took my credit card off my Xbox Live account. I can’t imagine I was the only one. – Don Becker

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