10 Worst Films of 2014
The law of averages reminds us that for all the great movies we see each year, there will inevitably be stinkers. Lots of them. And while we love to support our fellow cinema cohorts, sometimes we have to call out the weak—after all, ‘A’ for effort only counts in grade school. Some of the worst films we saw in 2014 included the latest from perennials Adam Sandler, Nicolas Cage, and Kevin Costner, as well as a nonsensical sci-fi that stars Johnny Deep, and a corny fairy tale romance film with Colin Farrell and Jessica Brown Findlay. So if time is a valuable asset to you, there are plenty of better options from 2014 than what you’ll find below.
Way Too Indie’s 10 Worst Films of 2014
The Amazing Spiderman 2
When Sony announced they were rebooting the Spider-Man film series it was pretty shocking, but could we really blame them? The reboot was scheduled only 5 years after Spider-Man 3, which was an unprecedented turnaround (which has now already been topped), quick enough to still have the icky flavor of that disaster on our taste buds. Sony and indie director Marc Webb had the perfect opportunity to take a beloved character and revamp him for this new age of comic book movies. Instead, they inexplicably seem to have not learned anything from Spider-Man 3‘s biggest no-nos. There are too many baddies without enough time to properly develop them, uninspired action setpieces, and special effects that probably cost more than they show on screen. Worse yet, the new film franchise is building some mysterious plot around its edges involving Peter Parker’s father involvement, potentially moving toward the idea that this is some sort of destiny for the web slinger. Not only does this totally contradict the spirit of what makes Spider-Man great (this could have been any of us), but is so clumsily handled that it drags down the fun momentum the film should have. Spider-Man is not Batman, and he shouldn’t be hamfisted into a brooding, serious backstory. Luckily, this may be the last Spider-Man film we get from Sony, at least for a long while. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 should stand as a lesson for other studios who want to continuously re-churn their properties with the sole intention of making quick and easy money. [Aaron]
A Million Ways to Die in the West
Seth McFarlane is of course well-known for his highly successful animated TV series Family Guy and just a couple of years ago broke into film with his directorial debut Ted; the popular film about a stuffed teddy bear who comes to life and out-drinks and out-fornicates the world. When I saw the preview for A Million Ways to Die in the West, I have to admit I was a little excited. I really enjoyed the genre mashups McFarlane did in his previous efforts.
The movie came out and bombed hard with audiences and critics both agreeing that it was terrible. When I finally did see it, I was pretty shocked at how bad the film actually was. Nearly every joke falls flat on its face, the musical numbers are uninspired and there is a drug influenced fantasy sequence that goes on way too long. The cast does their best to have fun with the material, especially Charlize Theron and Sarah Silverman (show steals every scene she’s in), but it’s not enough to save this unfortunate misfire. A Million Ways to Die in the West isn’t the worst film of 2014, but its damn close. [Blake]
Adam Sandler reuniting with Drew Barrymore, who were both equally charming in 50 First Dates, offered hope that this might be a rare gem in Adam Sandler’s quite considerable list of poor films over the last few years. Sandler and Barrymore both star as single parents, Jim and Lauren, who, after a dreadful blind date, find themselves together with their families in a resort in Africa. However, whilst 50 First Dates was funny and quirky, Blended is dull, formulaic and its jokes often fall flat. This is due to lazy writing with many of the film’s characters portraying one-dimensional stereotypes. Some of these stereotypes could be considered sexist. For example Jim’s daughter Hilary only begins to feel confident and content once she starts to behave like a ‘real’ woman, wearing pretty dresses and curling her hair. Blended is a frustrating film because there are brief (admittedly, very brief) glimpses of what could have been an interesting film exploring life as a single parent. However, any insight is buried beneath a thick layer of over-sentimentality and terrible, misjudged jokes that should have been left on the cutting room floor. [Eddy]
Draft Day is an inexplicable creation, a movie based on the least exciting televised professional sports event outside of curling. Kevin Costner stars as the general manager of the Cleveland Browns on the morning of the NFL college players draft. A series of phone calls introduce all the major characters while the actors explicitly explain each person’s stakes to one another. Logos for the league, its teams, and the NFL’s major sponsors are plastered across the screen for the duration of the film. The movie’s most striking technique is also its most irritating, as Draft Day accommodates for the tedium of the story’s never-ending string of phone calls by bizarrely splicing the split-screen together so characters walk through one another’s shots. The cuts are baffling and hugely distracting, but for a hardcore football fan (seemingly the film’s core audience) even more baffling is the list of fireable offenses committed by Costner’s Sonny Weaver Jr. character. It’s okay though, Draft Day’s warped logic allows everything to work out in the end. Costner even gets a kiss from Jennifer Garner, an actress 17 years younger than The Untouchables star (that movie came out when Garner was 15). [Zach]
Frank was, for me, a torturous experience, a film with a terrific cast spouting lines from a script filled with one quirky, offbeat horror after another. The film follows a young wannabe musician (Domnhall Gleeson) as he joins a band filled with eccentricities, the biggest one being its lead singer (Michael Fassbender) and his giant mask that never comes off. There are plenty of stupid, unfunny ways Frank suffocates viewers with quirk or twee: Frank speaking his emotions aloud, a viking funeral, groan worthy on-screen graphics, an unpronounceable band name, and the “out there” music itself (it’s actually pretty mediocre). It intends to charm, but in reality it feels more like someone taking a cheese grater to my eyes and ears. And worst of all, these horrible idiosyncrasies are meant to serve as character development. Frank is a dreadful film, one I hope to forget as soon as possible. [C.J.]
What do Lea Thompson, Chad Michael Murray, and Jordin Sparks have in common? They all decided to join Nicolas Cage in declaring to the world their desire to no longer take themselves seriously as actors by participating in this remake of the straight-to-video Kirk Cameron film. Based on the Tim LaHaye book series that won the 2007 Evangelical Christian Publishers Association Pinnacle Award, the storyline stems from the Evangelical interpretation of the biblical book of Revelation as an outline for the end times. Every character is a two dimensional stereotype and every scene is a neon sign blinking to tell you exactly what you should be thinking and feeling. As a comedy, it’s brilliant: people vanishing out of their clothes, hundreds of extras feigning mass hysteria, and the not-so-subtle message of judgement on everyone not wearing Jesus jewelry. I love a good apocalyptic film as much as the next, but the fact that this movie is directed by a stunt coordinator extraordinaire tells us exactly what their goal was. If there were going to be a Rapture, this movie would be left behind. Also, Cassi Thomson looks and sounds exactly like Kristen Bell. There, I said it. [Scarlet]
The November Man
The aura of Pierce Brosnan wielding a gun, saving a woman, and on the run from his own secret agents, can be very attractive for those who miss him as James Bond. If you ask me, he comes right after Sean Connery in being the best man to play 007 on screen. This is what The November Man was meant to ride on. Hell, the tagline on the poster is “A Spy Is Never Out Of His Game.” It may as well have said: “See Brosnan Be A Spy Again.” Of course, the film is based on a series of books from the ’80s by Bill Granger dubbed “The November Man” novels, and the film specifically adapts the seventh book of the series, There Are No Spies. So, it’s really a film that wants to have the kind of James Bond appeal based on a novel that rides on the Ian Fleming appeal. Don’t know much about the novel, but I do know – unfortunately – too much about the movie.
The November Man uses way too many cliches and hits in the most predictable of spots to warrant even as mildly exciting. Depending on what kind of mood you’re in of course. If you want to switch off the ol’ brain and just watch Pierce Brosnan outsmart everyone around him, then this film is good for that. But, that’s all it really is good for which ultimately renders it not very good at all, and decent at best. The story is a butchered half-measured version of every spy tale ever told, the characters are under-developed cartoonish cardboard cut outs, and the uniqueness of using Belgrade as a location is wasted in that it doesn’t factor into the story at all. The November Man is recommended to hardcore Brosnan fans only, the rest of the world would have their time better spent elsewhere. Like watching an old James Bond film, or something. [Nik]
After an Oscar-nominated turn in 2011’s Bridesmaids, Melissa McCarthy had a scorching 2013, appearing in Identity Thief, The Hangover Part III, and The Heat (for a total domestic box office take of $400+ m). This gave the actress enough creative muscle to co-write and co-produce her own headlining film, Tammy. The film is meant to showcase McCarthy’s comedic talents, but instead she and co-writer/co-producer/director/husband Ben Falcone create a film that’s not just bad because it’s painfully unfunny, it’s lazy. Rather than create something new for herself, something that might stretch her acting abilities or take her down a darker comedic path, McCarthy creates a character that is a shallow imitation of The Melissa McCarthy Character from other comedies. It’s as if McCarthy the Writer doesn’t know what McCarthy the Comedian is truly capable of. Thus, she creates something she thinks the audience wants instead of creating something original. What she presents on-screen is a bad SNL skit running 97 minutes. [Michael]
Outlandish ideas are part of what makes science fiction so exciting and logistics isn’t the point of something like Inception, a film that earned Transcendence director Wally Pfister an Oscar for his cinematography work. So it’s possible for a technology enthusiast such as myself to ignore most of the ludicrous high-tech sci-fi elements that plague Transcendence. Truth be told, the idea of uploading a man’s consciousness on a server to become an evolving self-aware intelligent program sounds just as exciting and ambitious as it does far-fetched. So let’s pretend for a moment that the film doesn’t attempt to “shut down” the Internet and talk about what really makes the film one of the worst of 2014. For starters, Transcendence takes no advantage of its seasoned acting department, somehow capturing uninspired performances from Johnny Depp, Morgan Freeman, and Kate Mara. Then there’s the half-baked script full of heavy-handed cues like having “unplug” tattooed on Depp’s forearm, character motivations that rarely make sense, and nonsensical tech jargon it doesn’t seem to understand. The film is like that annoying person who uses obscure Word of the Day references just for the sake of sounding intelligent. While Pfister’s background serving as Christopher Nolan’s director of photography shines through here with stunning imagery, it’s clear this is his first attempt at directing a film. Poor execution in nearly every facet undermines any message about technology it attempts to get across. [Dustin]
The fun of film is that as much as studios may try, there isn’t a surefire recipe for box office success. But damned if they don’t still cook up a storm and shove it down our throats anyway. Winter’s Tale is one part a-list talent, the likes of which include Russell Crowe, Colin Farrell, Jennifer Connelly, Will Smith, and Jessica Brown Findlay of Downton Abbey fame, with a heavy dose of mythical, epic romance set amidst a battle of good versus evil, and decorated with period costuming, a CG pegasus, dual time periods, and baked on high in the momentum of the best-selling book it’s based on. But someone forgot to stick a fork in this cake and call it done.
This adaptation inclines one to think that either a) the book is awful or b) we’re missing some key elements. Like any sort of character depth for one. Instead we’re expected to digest Colin Farrell’s thief Peter Lake giving up his trade to fall in love with Findlay’s dying Beverly Penn after one brief encounter as he attempts to rob her. Add to the confusion Farrell’s distracting haircut, Crowe’s incredibly misunderstood demon complete with CG scary faces and a misplaced accent, an entirely out of place Will Smith as the devil, and worst of all, a full-stop storyline end three quarters of the way in followed by a rushed and overly sentimental ending. In the end the tastes that linger are not of magic, destiny, or romance, but instead the taste of having bit into fake display food. All show, no taste. [Ananda]