As 2014 comes to a close, it’s time to look back at some of the worst films I saw this year. While I’ve generally tried to avoid seeing a lot of bad films, there were certainly some films this year that I regretted seeing. Here are my top ten worst films of 2014.
Muppets Most Wanted
- The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Another disappointing follow up to a memorable original, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 suffers from being completely inconsistent with itself. Each scene attempting to show a dramatic or intense threat is matched with moments of incredible goofiness and childish elements. While it’s undeniable that Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone have great chemistry, they are given a romance plot that goes nowhere and is just used to waste time as the villains are slowly built up. These villains, including Paul Giamatti in one of the worst performances of his career, Jamie Foxx as a caricature of his character in Collateral, and Dane DeHaan as a cliché sneering bad guy, are not even developed throughout the films overlong 140-minute runtime. When the film actually gets going somewhere during its last few minutes, it is promptly ruined by one of the cheesiest endings in recent history. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ranks not only as one of the year’s worst films, but its biggest letdown.
- Are You Here
Are You Here is a convoluted and inconsistent comedy that thankfully has several humorous moments. The problem here is that the film is trying to be several different movies; a straight comedy involving an out of place newsman, a dramedy involving the reconnecting of a family, and a straight up drama about mental illnesses and drug addiction. The film’s desire to become more than the premise suggests ultimately fails it from being enjoyable, as the dramatic elements of the film fall flat and become tiresome and obnoxious. The film is a disjointed mess that suffers from its desire to become several different films. While Owen Wilson delivers a great comedic performance and there is some great comedy, the dramatic elements of the film never seem to come together or make any sort of impact or statement. There seems to be a strong desire to make a message, but it never really makes thematic sense and, especially in the film’s closing shot, is extremely distracting and odd.
Frontera starts off with an incredibly engaging premise and a great first few minutes that set up a psychological, morality based thriller. Unfortunately, the film begins and falls into the category of a generic, formulaic “message film”. While the message of the film is certainly clear (it revolves around the troubles involving illegal immigrants in the United States), it begs the question of whether the film would have made a better documentary than a film. The film also fails to even end a major subplot involving Scott Adkins’s character that makes the film fell hollow and unconcluded. Ed Harris is great in the movie, but all the characters are sublimed throughout the film to make more time for the film’s political stance. However, the biggest problem is that the film is simply uncomfortable to watch; unlike riveting films such as Schindler’s List or last year’s 12 Years a Slave, Frontera never gives the audience a full grasp of the event, instead giving them an unpleasant feeling of watching bad things happen to good people for two hours, which is not the most pleasant of experiences.
Godzilla suffers from being predictable, generic, and unfulfilling. While the method of only giving the audience glimpses the main threat is on paper a great idea, it fails in Godzilla due to the fact that audience members know who and what Godzilla is. This is all without mentioning the fact that the characters are all one note. Aaron Taylor Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen are given the most one-dimensional “good guy” characters imaginable (a soldier and nurse, who will conveniently be in all the action sequences) and are given nowhere to go as characters. Then you have Bryan Cranston, who is in the film for maybe 15 minutes and gives one of the most overacted performances in recent history as the “crazed dad”, as well as Academy Award nominees Ken Watanabe and David Strathairn who are given nothing to do as the one note scientist and general, respectively. These shallow characters fail to draw any interest in the predictable plot, which tries to hard to make a scientific explanation for the events and ends up creating more plot holes for the already hollow story. The film is ultimately just a build up to 15 minutes where the audience knows what’s going to happen, and because we’re not invested in any of the characters, aren’t even interesting. Godzilla is ultimately a bloated mess that fails on a writing level.
Non-Stop is a film that fails due to a poor second half. While it’s hard to consider a film to be bad if it simply has a bad second half, Non-Stop is unique in the sense that its second half completely discards the film’s first half. Suddenly none of the events are explained, the killer is revealed in one of the most cliché twists of the year, and the film goes toward a completely cheesy ending that rivals The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Additionally, the entre plot concerning the orchestrations of the murders is never explained, therefore disconnecting the audience with the movie. Liam Neeson tries very hard to bring a dramatic sense to the film, but the plot is so formulaic that this “thriller” isn’t thrilling in the slightest. The problem here is that the film never feels completely certain on whether it wants to be a fun action flick or a serious politically minded thriller (it fails on both), and despite the promise of the title, is simply not entertaining.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is another abysmal and bland summer action movie that suffers from poor writing, directing, and acting. The character motivations are so weak that we never get to know anything about the characters other than the fact that they’re “good guys” or “bad guys” for no explained reason. The plot of the film is also glaring with inconsistencies and strange moments, involving an absurd amount of product placement. The acting is also weak, featuring an awful lead performance by Megan Fox, who plays one of the most generic and obnoxious characters of the year. Will Arnett and William Fichtner are completely wasted and given completely one dimensional characters (the quintessential “goofy villain” and “deranged scientist”) that really don’t affect the plot whatsoever. While some of the humor involving the turtles is good, the characters are reduced to supporting roles and given little to no character development. There are also numerous never ending action sequences ruined by shaky camerawork and quick cuts. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is another generic and pointless summer film that never lives up to expectations.
Hercules is, to be put simply, dumb. It has a plot so riddled with clichés that the real question is what predictable element will happen next. While Dwayne Johnson is serviceable as the titular character, the film’s entertaining elements such as its numerous action sequences film to be enjoyable due to the lack of empathy we feel for the characters (who fall into the most generic of categories). The so-called “realism” of the film is also laughable as it has just as many surreal elements as a science-fiction film. Unfortunately, any attempts at making a fun and self-conscious action flick are discarded as the film tries to force in several dramatic moments, all of which are incredibly melodramatic and serve no purpose other than to spoon feed plot points to the audience or to waste time until the next action sequence. On top of that, Director Brett Ratner gives audience numerous odd visual tricks that distract from the action sequences, which already feel goofy. Hercules is a lot of special effects and action centered on a bland plot and even blander characters.
- Transformers: Age of Extinction
When a film contains lines of dialogue such as “I don’t need a warrant, my face is my warrant”, you know you are into an awful abomination upon filmmaking. Where to start with this movie? There are the awful characters that leave Academy Award nominated actors like Mark Wahlberg and Stanley Tucci forced to spit out awful dialogue (Wahlberg results to overacting, Tucci plays Steve Jobs), as well as making already inexperienced actors like Jack Reynor and Nicola Peltz some of the most obnoxious characters of the year. The film’s plot is ultimately exactly the same as its three predecessors (Autobots fight Decepticons, an ancient evil arises, there’s a government conspiracy, etc.), but the real issue here is the dialogue, which is so laughably awful that no scene carries weight (there’s an especially bad ending monologue from Optimus Prime). The action sequences even fall flat from the overused shaky camerawork and reusing of shot and situation. Also, the film contains what I consider to be the worst product placement in history, as well as a cheap reveal involving the Dinobot characters that feels out of place, distracting, and just plain silly. Transformers: Age of Extinction is a personification of what’s wrong with cinema, as it is one of the most lazy, stupid, and worst films of the decade.
- Need for Speed
It was a tough call between Need for Speed and Transformers: Age of Extinction for the #2 spot, but Need for Speed takes the title for having one of the worst scripts in recent film history. While bland and one-dimensional characters are mentioned multiple times throughout this list, Need for Speed takes the spot due to how infuriatingly obnoxious and obvious they are. There is no grasp of subtlety whatsoever, as you get characters with the simplest of traits (especially Dominic Cooper, who is given one of the worst villains of the year). The film also features a cast of obnoxious supporting characters, including Imogen Poots and Michael Keaton, that have no effect on the plot whatsoever. Aaron Paul is unfortunately stuck trying to say one-liners half the time and impersonating Vin Diesel the other half. This leads us to the films inconsistent tone, which contains a gritty revenge plot with some violent and disturbing elements, but also unbelievably unrealistic stunts and strange attempts at humor. The film’s plot also makes no sense whatsoever, as the main premise of getting to a secret race doesn’t require the destruction of property or conflict with police, violating the logic of the film’s entire plot and events. Also, a horrible ending scene in which a character’s innocence is “proven” is shown with such bare logic that the scene is incomprehensible. Need for Speed is unbearably bad, infuriatingly stupid, and incomprehensibly shallow.
- The Legend of Hercules
The Legend of Hercules is an atrocity of Hollywood. When you combine the director of Cutthroat Island, a team of absolutely horrible actors, and one of the worst screenplays ever written, you get The Legend of Hercules, a film that insults Greek Mythology and should be avoided at all cost. The Legend of Hercules is a horribly written, acted, directed, and edited film that has few redeeming qualities and misfires in every way.
Greek Mythology has been a subject that although timeless in its literary context, has proven difficult to translate into a film medium. While it has had a few successes (Troy), there are significantly more films that are complete disasters (Clash of the Titans). The Legend of Hercules is no different, suffering from the common problem of having too much exposition, which eventually destroys the films pacing and is ineffective in telling the story.
Director Renny Harlin shamelessly rips off the visual style of 300 in an effort that looks more like a video game than a film, and ultimately makes the film goofier than anything. The style of 300 worked for the film because it was trying to be nothing more than a fun action film, but The Legend of Hercules attempts to go for the feel of a sweeping epic, which completely fails.
Despite the terrible directing, the real reason The Legend of Hercules is so bad is because of its horrible script. Every single character is an absolute caricature and shows no depth whatsoever. The script doesn’t even seem to follow the story of Hercules accurately, taking many liberties with the story. Unfortunately, these changes to the story don’t seem to pay off at all and only seem to be in the film to seem “fresh and original”, but in the end they just feel out of place and stupid.
The acting is absolutely atrocious. None of the actors, especially Kellan Lutz (Hercules), seem to bring any depth at all to the characters. While Lutz’s character suffers from being incredibly generic, other characters such as Gaia Weiss’s love interest character just prove to be irritating and obnoxious. This also includes Iphicles (Hercules’s brother, played by Liam Garrigan), who is a shameless rip-off of Thor’s Loki, but doesn’t retain any of the clever character that Tom Hiddelston portrayed, and is constantly irritating throughout the films brutal runtime.
Additionally, the editing is unbelievably uneven. The film tries at some points to be a hardcore drama, but at some points has goofy action sequences that are too silly to take seriously. Despite a mere runtime of 99 minutes, The Legend of Hercules feels as if it could probably lose around 20 minutes of footage that feel unnecessary to the plot. Throughout these horrific 99 minutes, none of the characters seem to learn anything or grow at all. Instead, there are supposed “emotional moments”, that are laughable at best.
Overall, The Legend of Hercules is a terrible film with few redeeming qualities that hardly save it from being deemed a truly awful film. While January films are not usually expected to be brilliant, there is no excuse for lazy filmmaking, as The Legend of Hercules is a mess of a film with horrible directing, writing, editing, and acting. One good character and a few cool action sequences can’t save The Legend of Hercules from being one of the worst films of all time.
What do you guys think? Do you agree or disagree with my list? What are some of your worst films of 2014? Comment below to talk about the worst films of the year.