10 Most Disappointing Movies of 2014

Published on December 31, 2014. Updated April 3, 2017

Every year, the Hollywood hype machine builds excitement and expectation for upcoming movies through multi-million dollar marketing campaigns. Movie trailers make so many promises, it’s no wonder that the finished product doesn’t always live up to the hype. What’s interesting about movies that fail to live up to their promise is that they can run the gamut in terms of quality. Some of the most disappointing movies of 2014 were good films in their own right; they just didn’t live up to their potential. Other films, meanwhile, turned out to be just plain bad, to the point where it’s a wonder how anyone thought the finished product might be good to begin with. Whatever their level of quality, the following 10 movies are 2014’s biggest disappointments.

10. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

This movie came out so early in the year that it’s easy to forget about it. Unfortunately, “forgettable” is a term that applies very well to Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, which is a shame because it has all the ingredients of a really good spy film. Essentially a reboot for the famous Tom Clancy-created character Jack Ryan, who has been played by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck, Shadow Recruit explores the early days of the CIA analyst, played here by Star Trek star Chris Pine.  Pine is fine (sorry) in the role and he’s ably supported by Kevin Costner in a mentor role and an always welcome Keira Knightley as his love interest. Unfortunately, despite a solid cast and a 9/11-inspired reboot for the character, Shadow Recruit just doesn’t do enough to differentiate itself from other, better films in the spy genre, such as the Bourne movies.

9. A Million Ways to Die in the West

Seth MacFarlane is a very divisive comedic personality, to say the least, but his feature film debut Ted was well-received by critics and audiences alike, suggesting that the multi-talented funny-man could find a good balance between his trademark frat boy humor and a more mass-appealing brand of comedy. Unfortunately, his latest acting/directing vehicle, the western spoof A Million Ways to Die in the West, is a dud of a film, displaying neither the comedic or dramatic chops of the vastly superior Ted. The movie’s plot is aimless and MacFarlane essentially just throws a bunch of jokes up on the screen to see what sticks. A Million Ways to Die in the West is uneven all the way through and fails to even remotely approach the quality of MacFarlane’s last film. Hopefully, the release of Ted 2 next year will put the Family Guy creator back on the right track.

8. The Monuments Men

With the amount of big-name talent involved, The Monuments Men should have been a hit. Based on real events, George Clooney and Matt Damon star as members of a U.S. Military outfit tasked with protecting Europe’s greatest artistic treasures before they are either taken or destroyed by the Nazis during World War II. Unfortunately, The Monuments Men is distinctly average in every way, neither capitalizing on its talented cast or the strength of its premise.  Clooney and Damon turn in serviceable but unmemorable performances, while the classy presence of Cate Blanchett as the film’s singular female presence is wasted. Films based around the Second World War used to carry a certain pedigree in filmmaking, but if The Monuments Men is reflective of where the genre is in 2014, perhaps it should stay dormant for awhile.

7. The Giver

An adaptation of the classic young adult novel by Lois Lowry, The Giver simply should have been better.  Set in a dystopian future where human feelings have been eradicated in order to prevent wars, The Giver centers on a young man named Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) who inherits the role of The Giver (Jeff Bridges), a man entrusted with the memories of human feelings and the past. It’s a great sci-fi concept and should have been on the same level of quality as the Hunger Games series. Unfortunately, the film adaptation ends up being bland and unexciting, much like other recent young adult failures like Divergent and The Host.

6. Transformers: Age of Extinction

It’s hard to believe any sensible person expected the latest entry in the Transformers franchise to be legitimately good, but the addition of Mark Wahlberg as the new human lead, and the added bonus of the dinobots hinted at this film at least being better than its predecessors. The fact that Age of Extinction is arguably worse than the three previous films and a new low-point for blockbuster filmmaking is a seriously depressing realization. There’s just so much wrong with this movie: It’s way too long, filled with poor acting, highly sexist towards women, loud, and unbelievably dumb.  Director Michael Bay, who has never exactly been popular with critics, again brings his unique visual style but utterly fails on every other level of filmmaking. Any movie that makes anyone long for the time when Shia LaBeouf led the Transformers cast is doing something very wrong indeed, but Age of Extinction does just that.

5. Interstellar

One of the most hyped movies of the year, Interstellar turned out to be a victim of ridiculous expectations. A good movie – even a great movie at times – Interstellar is perhaps the best representation of Christopher Nolan’s strengths and weaknesses as a director. Visually and thematically extravagant and ambitious, Nolan’s exploration of deep space travel is a wonder to behold – a scene in which a spacecraft travels through a wormhole is without a doubt one of the greatest space travel scenes in cinematic history. Unfortunately, like most of his other films, Interstellar is brought down by a hokey script and underwhelming characters. The actors are game (2013 Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey is brilliant), the story is thought-provoking, and the visuals are second-to-none. Yet, Interstellar falls short in enough ways to hold it back from true greatness, which is arguably more heartbreaking than the father-daughter story in the actual film.

4. Godzilla

The return of everyone’s favorite giant monster was one of 2014’s most anticipated films. Directed by Gareth Edwards, whose impressive indie hit Monsters (2010) got his talents noticed, and featuring an all-star cast including Bryan Cranston and Elizabeth Olsen, Godzilla seemed like a sure thing. Unfortunately, a few key faults held it back from greatness. The main problem is that for a film bearing his name, Godzilla has very little screen-time, instead operating in the shadows while the human characters take centre stage. While this is a questionable decision for Edwards to make with a monster movie, it could have been justified if the humans were actually interesting. Unfortunately, the central relationship between Aaron Taylor Johnson and Olsen falls flat and Cranston, typically a magnetic presence, is not given enough screen-time to make enough of an impression. Godzilla is a good but ultimately disappointing franchise revival.

3. 300: Rise of an Empire

This sequel to 2007’s 300 came too late after its predecessor to capitalize on that film’s success. Set after the infamous last stand of King Leonidas’s (Gerard Butler) 300 Spartans, Rise of an Empire focuses on that conflict’s aftermath, with the Greeks repelling a naval assault by the invading Persian army. Despite the efforts of the cast and crew, particularly Eva Green, who absolutely steals the movie with a wild, sexy performance as Persian naval commander Artemisia, Rise of an Empire is ultimately inferior to the original, imitating that film to a fault. The striking visual style of the 2007 movie is overused and stale here, and the whole concept is just not as interesting or thrilling as it was 7 years ago.

2. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

2014 felt like the year for sequels nobody asked for, as the September release of this sequel was the definition of an afterthought. Released almost a decade after 2005’s visually stunning comic book adaptation Sin City, A Dame to Kill For is practically a generation removed from its predecessor. The black and white, pulp noir visual aesthetic that was so unique in 2005 feels positively dated now – and the visuals aren’t the only element that feels out of time. The heavily sexualized, misogynistic tone of once great writer, now resident crazy person Frank Miller’s creation is a relic from a different time. Returning director Robert Rodriguez tries hard to do what he can with the source material and newcomers like Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Eva Green (again outclassing the entire film surrounding her) imbues the film with some legitimacy. Unfortunately, this is not a film to kill for – but if it helps stop Miller from making more movies, it will at least have done some good.

1. The Amazing Spider-Man 2

2014 was the year moviegoers started to not care about Spider-Man anymore and the blame can be aimed squarely at The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and the poor decisions made by its creative team and Sony Pictures. Filmgoers are savvy and are becoming increasingly aware that the rebooted Spider-Man films are lackluster in their own right, in addition to the fact that these films are separate from the more popular Marvel cinematic universe, which makes them less appealing as a product.  If ASM 2 had approached the quality of Sam Raimi’s excellent Spiderman 2 from 2004, the disappointing thing about this movie would be that it didn’t do all that well at the box office. Fortunately, ASM 2 is just a bad movie, which helps justify its poor reception. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 made many not care about Spider-Man anymore (at least until Marvel gets the film rights back) and that depressing fact helps make it the most disappointing movie of 2014.

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