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Everything Isn't Awesome: The Top 10 Worst Films of 2014

It's that time of year again! The time where critics, amateurs and everyone in between start compiling and evaluating the year that was in film and come up with lists that say whether this was a great year at the multiplex, or one we can and should delete from our collective memory banks. For me, the year was when I personally avoided crap that I knew would be dreck, like the Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore reunion from The Wedding Singer/50 First Dates days romantic flick Blended, or sequels I hated the first time and wanted no part in again with The Purge: Anarchy. That still doesn't mean I could escape bad or uninspired filmmaking, because eventually, when you're a movie junkie like myself, you do eventually run into some really awful crap. Today, I'm taking it to the movies that made me suffer; the ones I only have to re-visit because they're on TV and there's no other option available to me.

10. The Giver - This half-baked film adaptation based on the award-wining novel of the same name y Lois Lowry isn't the worst movie I've seen in the slew of young-adult books/turned films craze, but speaking as a fan of the original source material, it does hold the (dis)honor of being the most disappointing, because it really could, and should, have been more that what was assembled. Lowry's tale of a young boy being forced to grow up quickly when he is selected to become the Community's next Receiver of Memory was a thought-provoking meditation on identity and conformity. Phillip Noyce (along with The Weinstien Company) take the themes and injects them with Sameness in this adaptation, making it as generic as possible. Brenton Thwaites as Jonas and Odeya Rush as Fiona are miscast in their roles, while Oscar-winners Jeff Bridges (who served as one of the producers on this film) and Meryl Streep mail in their performances, no doubt waiting for something better to come along.

9.  The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - This sequel to 2012's reboot of the wall-crawling crimefighter was supposed to kickoff a shared film universe where Peter Parker (played once again by Andrew Garfield) squares off against the Sinister Six (which consisted of Electro, the Green Goblin, Vulture, Doc Ock, Rihno and Kraven the Hunter); even including spinoffs where we meet members of the villainous group wreaking havoc around New York City. All Marc Webb did was suffer from Tim Burton Syndrome, where the most interesting characters - Jamie Foxx as a superfan of Spider-Man before Oscorp turned him into a vengeful ball of electricity, and Dane DeHann as Harry Osborn, Pete's childhood friend who needs him to get Spider-Man to give him his blood to counteract a genetic disease that will kill him - are the film's antagonists, and where the the hero is the least interesting thing about the whole thing. This bloated and overstuffed superhero film only serves to prove that Spider-Man would have been in better hands with Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige than with Sony and Avi Avid.

8. Into The Storm - "Hey; you loved disaster movies like Twister, The Day After Tomorrow and 2012, and you went out and made the found-footage sub-genre a hit with the the Paranormal Activity series; so let's combine both styles and watch the money roll in!" I wasn't sitting in on the pitch meetings when screenwriter John Swetnam was selling the project to Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema, but I wouldn't be shocked if that's how the film was sold. Either way, he and the studios were wrong: It tries to be Jan De Bont's 1996 cult hit for the You Tube age, but it lacks the genuine thrills, excitement and overall star power & charisma that disaster thriller had. The visuals are absolutely top-notch, but there's not much else going for it: the acting is so one-dimensional that calling the performances by Richard Armitage, Nathan Kress and Sarah Wayne Callies wooden doesn't do it justice; the script is just a jumble of tired cliches; and the direction is extremely haphazard, as the camera switches back and forth between the POV-centered narrative to the third-person one, until the former is nearly abandoned in the third act. Instead of a whirlwind of a good time, we're left with one big mess.

7. A Million Ways to Die in the West - Personally, I didn't want to put this comedy on my list, but upon watching it a second time, director and co-writer Seth MacFarlene left me with no alternative. This second-rate Blazing Saddles knockoff just wasn't that funny the second go-around, and it's a shame because I generally like the man's comedic style. Speaking of, the jokes round back to the the theme that living out in the Old West sucks, and it got annoying to hear the same joke being repeated again and again, albeit in different forms. The only time the humor really kicked in is when Charlize Theron rolls into the small Arizona town as a woman escaping from her ruthless, gunslinger hubby (played by Liam Nesson) and begins to hang out with MacFarlene's character, mostly because the pair have decent comedic chemistry, making the jokes more palpable. Oh, and Neil Patrick Harris's involvement as a mustache-obsessed dick is a downright embarrassment, considering that he gives his best performance of his career in Gone Girl, and the fact he defecates in several hats for the sake of a gross-out gag.

6. Divergent - Shaileen Woodley tries her best to be a Katniss Everdeen-type heroine in this knockoff Hunger Games series opener (the sequel, Insurgent, is slated to come out in March of next year), and Kate Winslet does good work as the villain who wants to control the five factions that have been set up after human civilization goes tits up, but the script is too dull and borrows heavily from the former, along with threads from the "Harry Potter" series and Lois Lowry's "The Giver" to the point where one can spot the points where originality ends and where the near-plagiarism begins.

5. About Last Night - I'll be frank here: I cannot stand Kevin Hart. I don't find him funny, I can't, for the life of me, see his appeal as a comedic actor or as a stand-up comedian, and in a year that brought us breakout stars like Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Chris Pratt, I find it depressing this unfunny hack found his way through. I could pick anything from his catalog of movies this year (Ride Along, Think Like a Man Too), but I'm going with the terrible remake of the 1976 David Mamet play, Sexual Perversity in Chicago and retelling of the 1986 film of the same name. About Last Night is supposed to be a funny and introspective look at how men and women perceive relationships, but it doesn't have anything new or interesting to say. Worse yet, the couplings are either extremely dull or endlessly irritating to watch onscreen for more than 2 minutes. Michael Early and Joy Bryant are attractive leads, but he script doesn't give them anything to do except be madly in love or glum when they go through a rough patch; whereas Hart and Regina Hall are simply insufferable as comic relief and two stuck in a love-hate relationship. Making this even worse is that this was produced by Will Packer, the producer who, to his credit, casts predominately black actors in his films, but can't manage to get good scrips for his actors to work with, and this film was no exception. Unfortunately, he wasn't done yet this year...

4. No Good Deed - What happens when you combine the talents of British actor Idris Elba and Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson, & put them in the home invasion thriller setting? You end up with a terrible and thrill-less movie that wastes both of Elba's and Henson's time and acting abilities. Yet another Will Packer production, this one reminds me of the last time he and Elba collaborated on a thriller, the equally stupid 2009 flick, Obsessed, except that movie had a fun showdown between Beyonce Knowles and Ali Larter. Sure, Elba uses his charms and plays them against type as a sociopath murder, but that's really the only thing it does right.The rest of the film is so hopelessly cliched - from the dark and stormy night atmosphere, to the cat-and-mouse chase between he and Henson - that is simply removes any and all suspense, because we know where this film is heading almost 15 minutes in. I support folks like Packer and Tyler Perry making projects that include mostly black actors, but I wish these films had better scrips and gave the actors more to do than just rehash situations and set pieces we've seen in better movies.

3. God's Not Dead - Not since the misguided and one-sided religious schlock fest that was 2011's Last Ounce of Courage have I seen a more blatant Christian propaganda film about how the faith is under attack from atheists and liberals; but at least with the former, it was poorly-made and often unintentionally hilarious. It would be one thing if just stuck to the already ludicrous premise of a freshmen college student (Shane Harper) going up against the big, bad atheist meanie (TV's Kevin Sorbro) about the existence of God, but it also goes the extra distance of painting everyone else - liberals, atheists, even Muslims - as jerks who need a come-to-Jesus moment and accept God into their hearts, while borrowing the interconnected characters and subplots scenario from P.T. Anderson's Magnolia. It's not just bad filmmaking, it's insulting to the audience.

2. Transformers: Age of Extinction - Sure, there's a new cast - Mark Walhberg as a down on his luck inventor who takes in a battered Optimus Prime, Stanley Tucci as a Steve Jobs-like tycoon who's building Transformers using "transformium" for the government, and Kelsey Grammar as the bureaucratic CIA man who's double-dealing with the Decepticons, but it's still Michael Bay at the helm and Ethan Kruger screenwriting at the end of the day. This latest update to the Transformers series is just the same ting we've paid to see the first three times - just louder, longer, dumber, more incomprehensible and crammed in with more product placement than before. I take that back: It's now shamelessly reaching out to the Asian market to boost it's international gross!

My pick for the worst of the year has been inspired by Channel Awesome's resident music critic, Todd in the Shadows. See, he defines the worst song of the year by it being the absence of good, and this year, I'm taking a page from his book. I'm picking the film that rewards the least; the one that I got nothing from, except for how Hollywood can treat young moviegoers, like myself, as idiots, and make a shitload of money passing off shallow and pretentious crap off as depth.

1. The Fault In Our Stars - If you listen carefully, you can hear William Shakespeare turning furiously in his grave (the title is taken from a line from his play, The Tragedy of Julius Caesar), and the Hollywood Suits laughing rancorously at us to the bank. I know this movie has an 80% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a metascore of 69 on Metacritic, and millions of teen girls flocked to this film and cried near the end. And I could care less. I hated this film. I hated how pretentious it felt and sounded when Augustus Waters (Ansel Egort) spouted off about how he never lights up a cigarette because he has power over something that kills people, and how Hazel Grace (Shaileen Woodley) talks about infinities as a metaphor for their romance. I hated how Augustus comes off as a skeezy, smooth-talker who's just trying to dip his cock into Hazel's pants. I hated that the film uses the Anne Frank museum and uses it as a makeout session during the couple's trip to Amsterdam, but not before it uses the words from her diary as a metaphor for, you guessed it, Hazel's romance with Augustus. I hated how calculated and pin-point cliche the films 126-minute runtitme it is - from the chance meeting, to the trip to Germany to meet a recluse author (Willem Dafoe), to the third act where one of our lovebirds dies. I hated how the script and the source material by John Greene comes off as second-rate Nicholas Sparks drama. But most of all: I hated how this film, with a $12 million budget, made over $300 million worldwide, where as interesting films like Edge of Tomorrow and Beyond the Lights struggle to find an audience. It's Hollywood cynicism at it's most shamelessly blatant; that they can take something as empty and shallow as this piece of shit, put attractive leads in the movie and sit back and let the money roll in. 


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