Jeff Turner's Top 10 Worst Films of 2014
Top 10 Least Favorite Films of 2014
This is actually a first for me, I haven’t done a worst of lists either of the two years I’ve been doing these reviews. This is because, while I saw bad movies, I did not see enough to make a big list. This year was different; as opposed to only seeing what I wanted, I saw movies almost weekly, and as such actually had to leave out a few stinkers.
Some people reading this may have seen my short list that I posted on Facebook. This list actually is numbered. Two films on that list have been left out from this one. Those two are THAT AWKWARD MOMENT, that horrible romantic comedy starring Zac Efron, Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, and Imogen Poots. Miles Teller went on later this year to star in WHIPLASH, and he was better off for it, less dumb scripts like that please. The second film is POMPEII; starring Kit Harington, Emily Browning, and Kiefer Sutherland. POMPEII was too ridiculously derivative,.and it never goes all out. There are a few good looking shots, but they are not enough to save it.
Without further ado; lets get this over with.
10. THE NOVEMBER MAN
This one took some thought. I saw this on a weekday in August before going on a lengthy jaunt to Arkansas. I didn’t know initially if it was my mentality going in, but THE NOVEMBER MAN went in one ear and right out the other. Pierce Brosnan’s latest offering features a good performance from Brosnan as the lead, but he’s literally the only thing about this movie that works. Even then, I spent most of the film just wishing I had seen GOLDENEYE again. Everything else ineptly hobbles through the film’s 108 running time. But if I did learn one thing, its that Luke Bracey’s Mason is the most inept secret agent I’ve ever seen.
This is one that I was actually really excited about. Johnny Depp and Morgan Freeman in a film about trans-humanism directed by Christopher Nolan’s cinematographer sounded a profound, cerebral experience that would equally thrill and provoke. TRANSCENDENCE did neither. While the film looked very nice and the actors appear to be trying their best to sell this material, they’re let down by an awful script that writes in confusing motivations and doesn’t really explain a whole awful lot. I don’t mean doesn’t explain a whole awful lot in (THE MASTER/2001/PERSONA) sense of the term, I mean its convoluted as all hell. Most all of the actors involved are quite talented, and the premise is a worthy one, TRANSCENDENCE was one of 2014’s more tragic films for all of the wrong reasons.
8. RIO 2
A rapping. Autotuned. Cockatoo. That was too much stupid for me to handle. My brain sharted at that moment. There’s a lot about RIO 2 that’s too stupid to handle. What really can be said about it? The film isn’t very funny, and the plot is something you’ve seen before in countless, countless films prior. This is a kid’s film that ran on empty, skip it. If you need something to shut your kids up for an hour and a half, there’s HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 and THE LEGO MOVIE and THE BOOK OF LIFE (BIG HERO 6 will eventually be hitting dvd as well!) RIO 2, not good, not not not not good.
7. ENDLESS LOVE
The biggest crime the remake of ENDLESS LOVE commits (aside from turning its dark source material into the worst Nick Sparks knockoff in quite some time) is simply being forgettable. This thing is so safe, so uninteresting, that it really boils down to being a waste of time to sit and watch it. There’s no performance in here that compensates for that, the script is god awful, and the direction has no flair to it. This was a year that produced some far better romance films than most, so you can skip ENDLESS LOVE.
Adam Sandler has his daughter’s hair cut like a man, dresses her like a man, and forces her to play sports because its implied that he wanted a son. QUIRKY! The only person in this thing that’s even somewhat charming is Terry Crews, and that’s not due to any clever writing in the script, its mostly due to Terry Crews being Terry Crews. I don't throw as much vitriol towards Adam Sandler as some do, but he is not good with family films. He mixes in the same offensive stereotypes you’d see in one of his R rated pictures with the sort of neutered PG humor that prevents the joke from successfully landing (this is not to say including offensive caricatures is a good idea, just that the few times it has worked, the movie in question has been rated R). Among those also taking a paid vacation with Sandler are Drew Barrymore, Kevin Nealon, and Bella Thorne. It shows, most all of the actors look bored, and its justified, because BLENDED is at the end of the day, really boring.
5. THE IDENTICAL
I was almost tempted to not include THE IDENTICAL on my list, because this was such a blast to watch in the theater (I was the only one there, so I MST3K’d it the whole way through). From an objective standpoint though, this really is the most poorly made movie I saw in a theater in 2014. The acting is ridiculous, from Blake Rayne trying to convince us he’s a teenager despite never looking like he’s under 35, from Seth Green actually kind of convincing us he’s a teenager despite being 40, to Ray Liotta hamming it up. THE IDENTICAL veers between being hysterically incompetent and unbelievably cheesy. Seriously, how did this movie actually get a theatrical release? And what is noted atheist Seth Green doing there? Oh well, at least I got immortal Ashley Judd out of this stinker (the film is set over 30 years, and they forgot to put old age makeup on her so she looks the same throughout all of it).
4. A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST
The most disappointing film I saw this year to be certain. Seth Macfarlane’s follow up to his debut, TED (a film that committed the cardinal sin of actually being funny) misfires almost constantly. What’s more painful then seeing a hack try to do comedy and fail is seeing somebody you know is talented try to do comedy and fail. This has a great cast, ranging from Charlize Theron to Liam Neeson to a gloriously mustached Neil Patrick Harris. Macfarlane fails to find anything funny for these people to do. He’s got TED 2 coming out this year, hopefully he remembers why people like him.
3. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
Jonathan Liebesman needs to stop directing action movies. He is one of the worst action filmmakers I have ever seen. His fight scenes are always so noisy, all sound and no fury. He over-edits these scenes to the point where they’re incomprehensible, cutting every half a second to something else. Its like they gave a 10 year old with ADD full control of the editing room. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are not an intellectual property, but they should be more watchable than this. I could not follow a single frame of this thing.
2. THE OTHER WOMAN
Not objectively the worst film of the year, but easily one of the most inept in its execution. This is the feminist parable that has three main female characters that are constantly talking about a man. How does the son of John Cassavetes screw up that badly? At least it has Jaime Lannister throwing himself through a window.
Before we get to #1, here are a few films that aren’t necessarily bad (some of them I even recommended), but disappointed me immensely.
THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES
Dear Peter Jackson:
There’s a reason Christopher Tolkien won’t give you the rights to any more of his father’s works. That reason is Alfred, the worst comic relief I’ve seen since John Turturro in TRANSFORMERS 3. I liked the first two HOBBIT movies, but after this I’d rather that you stayed as far away from THE SILMARRILION as humanly possible.
The human characters are what killed my buzz here. GODZILLA has some technical prowess behind it certainly; and actors like Bryan Cranston and Ken Watanabe that are trying their best with the material given here. The human characters are so uninteresting to follow though, and the situations that the movie puts them in are so repetitive. This would have worked better for me if there were more Godzilla, because Godzilla’s pretty rad in this. But there isn’t, there’s maybe 10-15 minutes of him total.
UNDER THE SKIN
I had heard so many good things about this, that it was a masterpiece that warranted comparison to 2001. Since 2001 is one of my favorite movies and Stanley Kubrick is one of my favorite filmmakers, I was intrigued. I saw part of this movie in the theater and was wowed, the visuals were so great and the plot was so bizarre. It was unlike anything I’d seen before. Then I sat down and watched the whole thing when it came out on dvd and it rung hollow to me. It seemed like the film equivalent of that college kid who writes a short story that exists for the sole purpose of drawing comparisons to Hemingway, Fitzgerald, or Vonnegut. It seemed to exist solely so that the critics and artsy filmgoers could use it as a bludgeon to try and prove to their friends how they’re better and smarter they are than everyone else.
And now; #1.
1. AMERICA: IMAGINE A WORLD WITHOUT HER
I contemplated not including this. Documentaries built around a political ideology typically tend to be critic proof, making money from the crowd that they were intended for. This film frustrated me though; why can’t the Conservative Michael Moore use cogent arguments and statistics instead of insane ideological rambling and flat out lies? This guy is a nutcase, he’s really crazy. Its the kind of movie that’s a little unbelievable. I am not the kind of guy that’s in to squashing different voices, but this guy has actually gone on Fox News to talk about how the President never had a “real black experience” only to have the host call him out. This guy, Dinesh D'Souza, is such an unlikable presence in the film that it sinks the picture entirely. He gets under your skin by making arguments so ridiculous and offensive that you’re just dumbfounded that somebody could actually come up with that. If you want something that goes more in depth on the film, I encourage you to check out Nate Zoebl’s review of it, which I posted on my other tumblr page (link will be below). AMERICA was the only movie I saw in 2014 where I sat there, staring at the screen, thinking “you know, maybe I should just quit.” Maybe, one of these days, we’ll get a Conservative Michael Moore that isn’t a convicted felon.