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The Worst Movies of 2014
It's that time of the year again.
In terms of quality, many have argued that 2014 was a surprisingly very good year for movies, and they're right. I was surprised by how many movies I enjoyed this year. More to the point, I was surprised by the sorts of movies that made it on my best of the year list (which will be released as soon as humanly possible).
Of course, even in a good movie year, there are going to be the occasional stinkers, and there were some pretty ripe ones last year. Anyone who's been following my reviews should know which one takes the number one slot (hint: it was my first "no stars" review published last year), and while the other films on this list were bearable by comparison, they were still quite painful to sit through.
And that's key for my Worst of the Year lists. There were movies last year that I didn't like and will never see again, but they weren't painful to watch the one time (like Robocop or Vampire Academy). Those movies will not make it on this list. The movies on this list were very painful to watch. Heck, just thinking about them hurts.
These are the movies I hated the most; the movies which, if you asked me to watch them again, I would probably cry and beg for death instead (which is preferable than sitting through these for a second time).
First here are the Dishonorable Mentions:
Wolf Creek 2 (Did anyone really ask for this sequel?)
Need for Speed (A bad movie based on a video game? You don't say!)
V/H/S: Viral (Whatever magic the filmmakers had in the second movie is completely gone now)
The Boxtrolls (Boy, I really had a bad time with this movie!)
Willow Creek (Boring as hell found footage movie about a couple looking for Bigfoot! Oh, this can't end well!)
And now, here we are with the 13 (yes 13!) movies that qualified as the worst of 2014.
13. Noah: With its A-list cast, a very talented director working behind the camera, and critics singing praises for it, I was actually really looking forward to Noah. I wanted very much for the movie to succeed, and was willing to forgive some of the silly changes that were made to make the story more cinematic (like those silly rock monsters). However, as the movie dragged out, I grew increasingly unhappy with it. The title character is seen as a psychopath, one who would murder his own grandchildren because he thinks their being born is against the wishes of "The Creator" (no one actually says God in the movie). Being stuck on an ark with a character like that is unbearable, and with the movie dragging out for almost 140 minutes, it was quite insufferable. Good acting and special-effects were not enough to save this clunker.
12. The Expendables 3: I was also looking forward to this one as well. What a bore it turned out to be. The movie made the colassal miscalculation of replacing the very actors people were paying money to see with a younger and blander cast. The action scenes were lame, the movie took itself way too seriously, and seriously, how did a movie with this much violence get away with a PG-13 rating? The one saving grace in the movie was Mel Gibson's performance as the main villain. Other than that, this movie blows.
11. Lucy: Honestly, this movie should be higher up on the list. Not only does it feature one of Scarlett Johansson's worst performances, but it somehow manages to get dumber and dumber and dumber as it goes along. There comes a point where you think the movie couldn't get any worse, and sure enough, it does. Basically, the premise is this: A woman is forced to become a drug mule for a ruthless mobster and becomes super intelligent when the bag of drugs she's carrying breaks and starts leaking inside of her. As the movie wears on, she's able to use more and more of her brain's capacity. "What happens when she's able to use 100%?" a character asks. The answer (Spoiler ahead): She turns into a black blob. Did I mention there's a dinosaur in the movie? Seriously, what was Morgan Freeman thinking when he signed on to this?
10. The Sacrament: This movie is just ugly. The very talented horror movie director Ti West (The House of the Devil and The Innkeepers, two movies I loved) has made an exploitative and fictionalized account of the Jonestown Massacre, and while the movie was well-acted and directed, that somehow made the experience even more painful. I'm not sure if a badly made movie would have been easier to watch, but I'm pretty positive it wouldn't have left me feeling as unclean and violated the way this movie did. It might have been easier to forget.
9. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies: I hated this movie. I hated the action scenes, I hated the performances (Martin Freeman and Sir Ian McKellan are the sole exceptions), and I hated that silly romantic triangle subplot that did nothing but bring the movie to a screeching halt. Is this a good looking movie? Sure, but you know what, so was the original trilogy (actually, the original trilogy was far better looking). There was no need to turn JRR Tolkien's 300 paged book into a trilogy, but at least it's finally over now.
8. Winter's Tale: Well, it....looks nice and it....means well. BUT WHAT A BORING HUNK OF JUNK IT IS! Poorly acted, horribly scripted, and so anvil heavy it's enough to make those who agree with its spiritual message squirm in their seats, Winter's Tale was just plain BAD. Anyone want to see Russell Crowe embarrass himself playing an Irish demon gangster boss named Pearly Soames? How about Will Smith hamming it up as Satan himself? Or Colin Farrell engaging in an astonishingly awkward love making scene with actress Jessica Brown Findlay? (Who plays a charater that's dying of consumption.) If yes, then step right up. If not, run as far away as you possibly can from this pretentious stinkbomb! Did I mention that there's a magical flying white horse?
7. Transcendence: "I don't want to fight them. I want to transcend them!"
-- Dialogue from Transcendence
Ugh. Johnny Depp stars as Dr. Will Caster, a celebrated researcher in the field of Artificial Intelligence whose controversial experiments have made him a target for an anti-technology terrorist group known as R.I.F.T. When he's shot by a poison-tainted bullet, Will's wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and his best friend Max (Paul Bettany) upload his mind into a computer before his body completely shuts down. At first, it's a success, but then Will becomes power hungry, convinces Evelyn to plug him into the Internet, sets up a base in the small desert town of Brightwood, turns physically disabled people into unkillable, super strong soldiers, and....seriously, who wrote this?! The answer to that is debut screenwriter Jack Paglen, and his work here feels like a rough draft rather than a finished product. Characters receive little to no development, disappear for long stretches, and often change their motivations without any explanation at all. As a result, the film's A-list cast gets completely wasted (and it includes actors and actresses like Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, and Kate Mara). Nearly everyone on screen seems to be going through the motions. The only actor who really stands out (apart from Rebecca Hall, who is really quite good) is Johnny Depp, and that's only because his performance is so bad. I like Depp; he can be a very charming and commanding actor. In Transcendence, unfortunately, he turns in a comatose performance, and he brings no life or personality to the role. He just seems dead, even before he gets shot with the poisoned bullet. History has taught us that when great cinematographers try their hand at directing, the results are usually disastrous. There was Gordon Willis's atrocious 1980 movie Windows, and then Janusz Kaminski made the equally detestable Lost Souls in 2000. Now, we have Academy Award winning cinematographer Wally Pfister (The Dark Knight) making his directorial debut with the horrible Transcendence. Even naysayers of this movie admit that it deals with some thought-provoking themes, but honestly, the only thought this silly and dreary movie provoked in me was: When is this thing going to end?
6. The Monument's Men: This movie made me angry. Inspired by a true story, The Monuments Men tells the story of a platoon of art historians and art experts (they include George Clooney's Frank Stokes, Matt Damon's James Granger, Bill Murray's Richard Campbell, John Goodman's Walter Garfield, and Bob Balaban's Preston Savitz) who were sent on a secret mission at the end of World War 2 to recover thousands of stolen works of art from the Nazis. There's a scene where Clooney stresses the importance of the mission, and you can't help but agree with what he's saying. These men deserve to be commended for what they did, and unfortunately, The Monuments Men does them a great disservice. The movie makes very little effort to develop the men, and when it does, it does so in a very manipulative and ham-fisted manner (take the groan inducing scene where Murray, while taking a shower, hears the voice of his daughter singing a Christmas carol as a prime example). While the screenplay by Clooney and Grant Heslov (based on a book written by Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter) offers up one well-written scene where Clooney interrogates a German prisoner, the bulk of the movie is a meandering and episodic mess. One scene that stands out as particularly pointless comes when Murray and Balaban are sabotaged by a lone German soldier. There's potential for suspense here, but then Murray suggests that everyone just sit on the grass and smoke a cigarrete, then the German soldier says "John Wayne" and everyone laughs, and then both parties go their separate ways. It's a completely useless scene that slows the movie to a crawl, and The Monuments Men is filled with such scenes. Cate Blanchett co-stars as a sympathetic art curator, although nothing is ever done with her character. Perhaps the best thing that can be said about the movie is that director George Clooney has certainly made a very good looking movie, but he miscalculates badly by playing many of the film's scenes for laughs, and what's worse, none of it is really that funny. I know this probably isn't true, but it feels like he's not taking this story seriously at all. The title characters deserve better than a movie as inept, tedious, and disrespectful as The Monuments Men.
5. Maleficent: As much as I hated the new Hobbit movie, it was bearable next to this incoherent, cheap-looking, and badly scripted mess. The not-untalented Angelina Jolie turns in a flat performance as the title character, who is originally the villainess of the story Sleeping Beauty, but is seen in a much more positive light here. It's not a bad idea for a movie, but the filmmakers never do anything interesting or compelling with it, and the movie looks so phony that it honestly makes one pine for the dreary gloom of Snow White and the Huntsman. At least that movie, bad as it was, looked like it took place on real sets.
4. Good People: Basically a movie about a poor, struggling couple in London who get their hands on mob money and, instead of taking it to the police, decide to hold on to it and do increasingly stupid things with it (The wife, played by Kate Hudson, buys her friend a washing machine. That's not drawing attention to yourself!). Of course, bad things happen, until the movie plunges into a violent climax that gets more and more absurd the more you think about it. Bad acting, a terrible script, and a surprisingly ugly visual look, this is a grade-Z howler for the ages. Based on a book by Marcus Sakey, which had to be a lot smarter than this mess.
3. The November Man: Now, we talk about the zero star movies of 2014, and the least offensive one of the three is The November Man (and that's saying something, given how enraged I was when I left the movie theater). The charismatic Pierce Brosnan is at his worst playing spy Peter Devereux, who gets caught up in a conspiracy that was so flimsy and badly plotted that I honestly can't remember a bloody thing about it. In fact, there's very little about the movie I remember, save for a scene where Brosnan's character savagely slices an innocent woman's femoral artery (and he's supposed to be the good guy?) and the fact that the movie relies on the cheap "child-in-danger" cliché to get a couple of easy thrills. It didn't work. In fact, nothing about this movie worked. It was a botch on all accounts.
2. The Calling: The less said about this travesty, the better. A grotesque murder mystery that wastes a fine actress like Susan Surandon, the hellaciously stupid plot involves a religious nutcase (is there any other kind in a Hollywood movie) going on a killing spree and is trying to bring his dead brother back to life by....Oh, never mind. Susan Surandon does next to nothing in this movie; the bulk of the movie is carried by the Topher Grace character, and yet somehow, it's Surandon who gets top billing. Agonizingly dumb, with a final scene that has got to be the biggest "Are you kidding?" moment of the year, The Calling is about as bad as a well-cast Se7en knock-off can get. It's just.....UGH!
Truth be told, The Calling would be the absolute worst movie of the year had I not seen one other back in April. My #1 choice is a film I sincerely regret ever watching. Heck, I almost want the list to end with The Calling. Writing about my #1 pick is enough to fill me with rage, but that's why it's in the #1 spot. No other movie in 2014 offended me so deeply, or made me as angry as this one did. To say I despised it is to understate my feelings for it. Not even last year's Man of Steel hit me this hard. That movie was just annoying and horribly made. My choice for the Worst Movie of 2014 is something much, much worse.
Are you ready? Here we are with the absolute most atrocious movie of 2014. The one movie I hated so much, that I felt like giving up on movies all together after seeing it (and that is no joke).
The Worst Movie of 2014 is (drum roll please)...................................
Just the title of this movie makes my blood boil.
I actually really like Arnold. Just recently, I rewatched 2013's The Last Stand on Netflix, and I had a grand ol' time doing it. It was a fun, action packed shoot-em-up with characters I liked, and set-pieces that were very well staged by director Kim Jee-woon. Was it gory? Yeah, sure it was. A lot of Arnold's movies are. But the gore was so cartoonish that it was almost impossible to be offended by it.
The same definitely can not be said of Sabotage. The movie opens with a woman being tortured (I believed she had a few of her fingers cut off, if memory serves me right), and the opening credits play over a shot of Arnold's blood-drenched hands. If that was the worst of it, this movie wouldn't be so high up on my list (even without the copious blood-letting, it still sucks), yet the movie goes to such extremes to be off-putting and tasteless, that I felt the urge to get up and walk out on it.
That would have been smart. Yeah, it was a rainy day that particular afternoon in April, but hey, rain is good reading weather. I could have gone home and picked up a good book and started reading. I could have called up an old friend or a family member and talked with them for a spell. It could have saved me so much hurt, but I stayed with it to the end. I endured endless scenes of dismembered limbs, spilled entrails, and blood-soaked and mean-spirited action scenes.
I even stayed with it after that appalling scene when Arnold finds one of his men dead in a refrigerator. That entire sequence plays out like something that belongs in one of those damn Saw or Hostel movies. What in the H-E-Double-Hockey Sticks is it doing in a movie like this?!
This movie is sadistic, ugly, boring, and absolutely pointless. When a movie is filled with this much filth, you'd expect there to be a reason for it, but no. It's ugly for the sake of being ugly. It is a film that exists to make movie-goers feel as miserable and unhappy as possible. Even Arnold himself is painful to watch. He's stuck playing a character who is so depressing and vile that I felt absolutely no joy watching him.
At least last year's Man of Steel was harmless. Frustrating, humorless, badly acted, agonizingly long, and poorly directed, yes, but harmless. It simply wanted to entertain (it just didn't do a very good job at it). Sabotage is an evil film, a cataclysmic violation of not only everything that makes the movies so wonderful, but life as well. To director David Ayer, I ask, what were you thinking when you made this mess? Heck, what was anyone involved with making this...this....thing thinking? AAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It actually looks like a typical fun Arnie movie. It's not!
Sorry about that.
That's the end of the worst movies of 2014. These next couple of films are not bad enough to be on the list, but deserve mentioning either way. I didn't hate them, but I didn't like them either.
Let's start with.....
The most overrated movies of 2014:
Snowpiercer: I just don't get it. The critics went gaga for this movie. I read other reviews in hopes that someone would enlighten me about why this movie was so well-received. I still didn't get it. Yes, the movie was nice to look at, and yes, some of the performances were good. But the plot was so dumb, and the action scenes were anything but exciting. This is one of those movies where the more I thought about it, and the more reviews I read on it, the less I liked it. To each their own.
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Here's another movie that was well-received by so many people. Why? I don't know. Yes, the movie was nice to look at, but it was also annoyingly smug, self-indulgent, and unfunny. Maybe you have to be a hard core fan of filmmaker Wes Anderson. I have liked a couple of his earlier films, but there was something about this one (and 2012's Moonrise Kingdom, which I didn't really care for) that didn't sit well with me. A lot of people thought it was a gem; I was just happy that it finally ended.
In Fear: 2014 was a good year for horror movies. In Fear is one of the few that I didn't like. It's a shame, because the critics went crazy for it. The funny thing is that audiences were unanimous in their hatred for it. I personally didn't hate it, but with its dumb characters and a story that is filled with plot holes, I didn't find it very engaging either. The film's final shot would have been electrifying had the movie made me care about everything that came before it. Oh well. Life goes on.
Big Bad Wolves: Quentin Tarantino loved it, although God only knows why. The movie is like 2013's Prisoners, but with characters who are even less developed, an over-reliance on gore, and a comic tone that feels wildly out of place. It was well-made and acted, but not very memorable.
The Most Forgettable Movies of 2014:
The Equalizer (Denzel wages war against some very bad dudes after said bad dudes sends a plot device (Chloe Grace Moretz) to the hospital. The final action scene was ok, everything else was...well....it....what movie were we talking about again?)
Into the Storm (I almost forget this movie even exists until I see a trailer play on a DVD I rent. Maybe it's for the best).
The Purge: Anarchy (Not as bad as the first movie, but there's not a second of it that stays with you once it's over).
Well, that's that. I'm currently working on my list of the Best of 2014, and I will hopefully have it up some time soon.
Until then, have a happy new year everyone!