It's not all bad. Our nation's economy is in shambles, and a once-measly 200,000 albums sold can now send a recording artist to the top of Billboard's Hot 100, but, somehow, Hollywood is still cranking out $200-million-plus blockbusters. The explanation seems obvious, really. In uncertain times, people love to say goodbye to reality, and films are a great form of escapism. That being said, there's no accounting for taste. Uptight film experts flipped their lids last year when that lifeless Transformers sequel made 25 times more than The Hurt Locker, which was equally accessible and critically preferred, but that's just how it goes.

2010 was no different; for example, Let Me In, one of our favorite films of the year, made a puny $12 million, while M. Night Shyamalan's comically bad The Last Airbender pulled in $132 mil. What can we say—shit, just like unfair box office intakes, happens. Interestingly enough, the year's 10 highest grossing films are as diverse in genre as they are in quality. Pop culture cynics that we are, we decided to break down the box office to see how many of the top 10 moneymaking movies of 2010 sucked.

#10: THE KARATE KID
Budget: $40 million
Box office gross: $177 million
Complex analysis: Preceding its release, all signs pointed to "suck" with this one. Remaking the 1984 classic was a sketchy enough idea, but then casting Will Smith's 12-year-old son? We wanted Ralph Macchio to issue a swift crane kick to the Fresh Prince's crotch. But then something strange happened—the final credits rolled, and we, like everyone else in the theater, were applauding. Jaden Smith's The Karate Kid isn't as memorable as Macchio's original, and that's OK. The fight scenes are surprisingly brutal (Jackie Chan kicks little kids' asses like he means it) and little man Smith earns the cheers. Though its overlong 135-minute running time nearly screwed the pooch, the remake that nobody wanted turned out to be pretty engaging.
Did it suck? No

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#9: HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON
Budget: $165 million
Box office gross: $218 million
Complex analysis: When film history books are written decades from now, 2010 will be seen as the year that Hollywood overdosed on 3D, turning the once-innovative technology into a punch line. Still, there were a few movies that justified the extra five dollars it costs to wear those shitty glasses, namely this animated crowd-pleaser. How to Train Your Dragon soared with funny characters, top-shelf animation, and massive action sequences that popped in three-dimensions. Unlike several other 3D culprits this year (don't even get us started on Wes Craven's anemic My Soul to Take), How to Train Your Dragon was worth every hard-earned dollar spent on our end, as well as all whopping $165 million bucks shelled out to make the damn thing.
Did it suck? No

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#8: SHREK FOREVER AFTER
Budget: $165 million
Box office gross: $238 million
Complex analysis: Hopefully, you've resisted the urge to see Little Fockers, perhaps the most glaring example of an unnecessary cash-in sequel that Hollywood has dumped on us in years. Before Ben Stiller jammed a needle in Robert De Niro's junk, though, Shrek Forever After was in contention for that (dis)honor. Mike Myers's fourth go-round as the lovable ogre isn't a complete washout, but its best moments are far too similar to those of the first three films, especially when you consider that it cost $165 million to produce. Yet, kids love their Shrek, so there was little doubt that this somewhat pointless rehash would turn a profit. Besides, it kept Myers from wasting money on another disaster of The Love Guru proportions. There's always a silver lining.
Did it suck? Yes

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#7: DESPICABLE ME
Budget: $69 million
Box office gross: $250 million
Complex analysis: Just as Shrek Forever After was an exercise in unnecessary spending, Despicable Me was an example of admirable craftiness. The first fully CGI feature from Universal Pictures (with the company's Illumination Entertainment division), this bad-guy-turns-good charmer cost less than half as much as rival studios' animated films and scored with even more laughs. In a year full of great animated flicks, Despicable Me was easily the most creative, and, therefore, earned countless props. The hit 'toon also deserves credit for saving a couple of Complex favorites, voice actors Steve Carell and Jason Segel, from despicable film years (see Dinner for Schmucks and Gulliver's Travels, respectively... or don't).
Did it suck? No

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#6: HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS — PART 1
Budget: $250 million
Box office gross: $258 million
Complex analysis: Critiquing the epic first half of Harry Potter's final adventure is akin to cuddling with a chick who just gave you blue balls—you'd rather wait until the job is finished. But we'll try anyway. As a standalone film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1 hit all the right notes, bringing more of the thrilling action, insane special effects, and lush cinematography that fans of the series expect. We also appreciated the darker, more grown-up tone, which is fitting since Daniel Radcliffe looks old enough to run Hogwarts now. After nine years of watching mini-wizards battle evil sorcerers, though, we're feeling some Potter fatigue.
Did it suck? No

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#5: INCEPTION
Budget: $160 million
Box office gross: $292 million
Complex analysis: With his dense popcorn smash Inception, writer-director Christopher Nolan challenged viewers to think while basking in crazy special effects. That's a risky proposition for a society that gets its news in 140 characters or less. Yet thanks to a slick trailer and the filmmaker's clout gained from The Dark Knight, everyone and their Leonardo DiCaprio-sweating mother were up to the task, and Nolan didn't disappoint. Inception wasn't without its problems, namely a confusing action setpiece staged around a snowbound fortress that rendered the all-white-clad characters unidentifiable. But the film's strengths (not enough can be said for that zero-gravity smackdown, which we highlighted in the The 50 Most Ground-Breaking Movie Special Effects) far outweighed its weaknesses. Inception was one trending topic in 2010 we were glad to exhaust.
Did it suck? No

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#4: THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE
Budget: $68 million
Box office gross: $301 million
Complex analysis: Compared to the vampire franchise's first two entries, Eclipse was like Tod Browning's Dracula and F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu rolled into one. That's not saying much, of course, since 2008's Twilight and 2009's New Moon were teenybopper-pleasing bores full of robotic acting, non-existent thrills, and vamps that sparkle. In the marginally entertaining Eclipse, the actors are no less drone-like and the undead still glisten, but at least director David Slade injects hints of the intensity and mood he nailed with his manly 2007 vampire film 30 Days of Night. Too bad he was saddled with a painfully emo Robert Pattinson and author Stephanie Meyer's melodramatic source material. Like drunken sex with a fat girl who's kinkier than expected, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse could've been worse.
Did it suck? Yes

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#3: IRON MAN 2
Budget: $200 million
Box office gross: $312 million
Complex analysis: As faulty as Jon Favreau's Iron Man 2 was, it was hard for any self-respecting comic book nerd not to enjoy the overstuffed sequel. The Robert Downey, Jr.-led series can't seem to handle its villains properly, an issue put on blast by the film's underuse of Mickey Rourke's promising Ivan Vanko, and there were too many characters for screenwriter Justin Theroux to cohesively mesh. But such qualms feel arbitrary when the blockbuster in question features an assortment of ace fight scenes, the great Sam Rockwell gnawing scenery, and Scarlett Johansson gamely playing up her sex appeal. Iron Man 2 had us at "ScarJo in tight black latex."
Did it suck? No

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#2: ALICE IN WONDERLAND
Budget: $200 million
Box office gross: $334 million
Complex analysis: The first sign that Burton entered this project on cruise control should've been the casting of his go-to guy Johnny Depp as "The Mad Hatter." Sadly, we ignored that red flag. At one point, Tim Burton, the master of bizarro imagination and visual oddness, seemed like the perfect guy to modernize Lewis Carroll's cutesy yet psychedelic 145-year-old novel Alice in Wonderland. Having suffered through the disappointing final product, however, we're now singing a different tune. Burton's Alice in Wonderland looked wonderful, packed with lavish animation and effective CGI characters that benefitted from 3D, but looks can be deceiving. The story, foolishly serving as a quasi-sequel to Carroll's source material, was an uninspired drag.
Did it suck? Yes

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#1: TOY STORY 3
Budget: $200 million
Box office gross: $415 million
Complex analysis: Any film that can make us weep like Detroit Lions fans on any given Sunday deserves endless praise. Quite funny and undeniably touching, Toy Story 3 actually bested its already-superlative predecessors, reminding audiences that Pixar still runs the animated cinema game. Where the misfired sequel Shrek Forever After simply went through the motions, our third time with toys-come-to-life Woody and Buzz Lightyear ups the stakes with an exciting prison-break-like plot and an emotional ending that'll send anyone who's ever hugged a teddy bear into a handkerchief-wetting sob fit. We've yet to abandon our old Cabbage Patch doll since Toy Story 3's opening weekend this past June. Got a problem with that, tough guy?
Did it suck? No

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