This would normally be the part where I apologize that I haven’t seen the majority of movies that come to mind when people think of the worst of 2014. I haven’t seen Transformers: Age of Extinction, I, Frankenstein, Transcendence, Blended, Left Behind, or many others that are frequently high on a lot of Top 10 worst lists. Except I’m not going to apologize, because I’m actually incredibly relieved not to have watched any of that crap. In fact, I rather enjoyed most of the films I watched last year – which isn’t to say there weren’t a couple that I didn’t like very much. The reason why I’m listing 8 and not 10 movies is because, honestly, I couldn’t think of more than eight movies that I’ve seen and disliked in 2014. The way the ranking is going to work is basically starting from the Least Dissapointing and working my way up to the truly awful. Here we go:
Honorable (?) Mention:
Hercules was a lot of dumb, mostly forgettable fun – the kind of movie that you don’t remember afterwards, but you don’t feel bad about spending money for it either. The only reason why I’m even mentioning it is because the marketing was very misleading about what the movie was actually about – it was still entertaining, but I couldn’t help but feel cheated. The trailers promised epic battles with gigantic beasts and undead hordes, when in reality, the movie actually subverted those expectations and was somewhat more rooted in reality. I guess the colossal failure of The Legend of Hercules (yet another movie that makes the rounds in a lot of “Worst of” lists) spooked executives into deliberately misleading audiences with the marketing to improve the movie’s chances. I still enjoyed Hercules, which is why it’s not on the list, but I would have enjoyed it more had the trailers been more accurate.
My biggest problem with Noah is that it could have been so much more than it ended up being, and it had the audacity to tease me with it. The movie played around with the idea of a complex reimagining of the tale of Noah and the Ark, a classic tragic flaw scenario in which Noah himself eventually becomes the villain of the story. Instead of going down that route and being absolutely amazing, Noah chickened out in the last minute (both the character and the movie) and just decided to settle for a traditional ending. Had it not been for the possibility of an absolutely brilliant new take on the mythos, this movie would not be on the list, as it’s not really that bad otherwise. It’s a decent summer blockbuster. Wasting potential, though? That’s a personal pet peeve of mine. I wrote a whole post about this one.
Speaking of wasted potential, The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Before this one came out, I was one of its biggest defenders. There were plenty of people that were worried that this was going to be another Spider-Man 3, with too many villains and plot threads spread too thinly. I kept saying that it wouldn’t be like that, that the first Amazing Spider-Man 2 was only held back by being forced to redo the origin story, that the sequel would be a substantial improvement because it would have free range to move the story forward and that the multiple villains would be tied together by their link to Oscorp, which would keep it from being another Spider-Man 3. I was wrong. This was exactly like Spider-Man 3. So many subplots, villains and characters competing with one another to the point where almost none of them were properly developed. The only thing that kept TASM 2 afloat was the strength of its cast and the sheer willpower of the director. The fight scenes were incredible and Spidey himself has never looked better in action, but everything else was just a mess. Sure, there are lots of great little moments littered throughout. Snippets of heartfelt, poignant or just humorous conversations between the various characters, particularly one genuinely brilliant scene between Peter and Aunt May and just all around fantastic chemistry between Peter and Gwen, but it’s not enough. Sony was so busy trying to build a franchise that they forgot to make a movie – and now even the franchise looks doomed. Information leaked from the Sony hack has shown this might end up being Garfield’s last Spidey movie, which considering how good he is in the role, would just be massively dissapointing. This isn’t higher on the list simply because there’s lot in it that actually really works – but as a sum of its parts, TASM 2 is just not that good.
I need to clear the air about Interstellar. I wrote a blog post a while back about my problems with the movie, and while I stand by what I said, I will admit that it’s very much structured like a rant, and just as emotionally charged. I’ve had some time to cool off and collect my thoughts since then, so I’ll give explaining what irks me about this movie another shot. The easiest way to explain it would be that it falls prey to the recurring trope of making characters dumb in certain situations so that the movie looks smart – and it has no reason to do so. Interstellar is smart enough as it is. When it comes to its science, it’s almost certainly the smartest movie of 2014, and it ranks highly in the all-time department as well – so the last thing it needs is to deliberately dumb down its characters, which it does. The narrative is riddled by numerous flaws of logic that have no reason to be there, and frequent bursts of pretentiousness, like reciting the same poem five times, or giving obviously symbolic characters incredibly blatant names. All that annoyed me, to the point where I suggested a significant part of the film’s plot be dropped entirely, because of how dumbed down it was. Alternatively, it could have been just rewritten to reflect how smart the movie is in just about every other respect. In the end, the science of Interstellar may be incredible, but unless you’re specifically making a scientific documentary or something of the like, that’s not enough to carry a movie for me. I would take a movie with ridiculous, made-up, or innacurate science that still has a consistent, well-structured plot over Intestellar any day – and I do. It’s called Gravity – and it’s one of my favorite movies of all time.
Up until now, I’ve listed movies that people tend to disagree on a lot. Many people enjoyed TASM 2 or even loved Interstellar, which is fine. I freely admit both have a lot of really great things working for them and what I find to be truly dissapointing, someone else might not mind at all. However, from this point onwards all the movies listed are almost universally considered to be quite bad. This is the point where we move from Most Dissapointing to Worst of 2014 for me.
5. Need for Speed
Need for Speed is bland and forgettable. The unnecessary revenge plot is bland, the romance is bland, the comic relief isn’t funny and there isn’t nearly enough actual racing. Its only saving grace is Michael Keaton’s character, as well as the very concept of an enigmatic person hosting a country-wide secret illegal racing competition and handpicking the racers. It’s actually a great idea for a movie, sadly buried under a pile of derivative crap. Also, Aaron Paul doess not say “bitch” once, despite plenty of great opportunities. That’s just wasteful.
4. 300: Rise of an Empire
A sequel to 300 would have been just as unnecessary had it been released when 300 was still relevant. I mean, the most interesting part of the (made-up) story is over and all of the cool characters are dead, so why even bother? Still, even though it’s mainly just a watered-down version of 300 in practically every respect, Rise of an Empire is passable, I guess. It just doesn’t have a reason to exist. A fantastically visceral performance by Eva Green. Sure. Anything else? Nope.
3. The Purge: Anarchy
I didn’t watch the original Purge, but I could kind of get behind the premise, so I decided to check out the sequel. I’m struggling to remember what happened. I know Frank Grillo was in it, and was kind of a badass. I remember thinking he would be great as The Punisher. I remember some hamfisted social and political commentary. I remember being reminded that violence exists and that rich people exploit poor people. This movie had no impact on me whatsoever. I am conscious of the fact that I have seen it in cinema, which is about it.
Oh, Arnold. It makes me so sad to see you try so hard to get back on the horse. The really unfortunate thing is that Arnold actually still has the chops to be an action lead, even if he is a bajilion years old – it’s just that he keeps saying “yes” to crappy films like Sabotage. The only thing I remember about Sabotage is that it was quite cruel and violent. Copiois ammounts of profanity and gore and a couple of things that I presume were supposed to be twists, but were too lackluster to work. There were a couple of funny lines, but it was mostly just a chore to sit through. At least The Purge tried to say something about society. I mean, sure, it failed and offered next to nothing of actual substance, but it tried. Sabotage doesn’t even do that. It’s just mean for the sake of being mean.
1. The Expendables 3
If a terrible action movie starring Arnold makes me sad, imagine how a terrible action movie starring Arnold, Stallone, Statham, Gibson, Snipes, Ford, Crews, Lungren, Banderas and the kitchen sink makes me feel. The Expendables 3 is horribly written and horribly directed. The editing makes the action scenes completely incomprehensible, which is kind of a big deal in a movie where the action is supposed to be primary selling point. The writing is so bad that the even the combined star power of ALL the actors (which is a lot) is not enough to make it work. It’s littered with painfully unfunny banter, cringeworthy self-referential humour and recycled one-liners that make me yearn for older, better movies. This is the worst of The Expendables films and the worst film all of the people involved in it have done in a long while. Stay far away. Full review here.