The Worst Films Of 2014 (So Far)Published on August 25, 2014.
In many ways, 2014 has been a really good year for film, which is really saying something considering most of the year’s prestige pictures (that is, films that will likely be Oscar contenders) are not due until the Fall. Blockbusters like Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: The Winter Soldier shattered expectations, and smaller pictures like Snowpiercer and Richard Linklater’s passion project Boyhood have proven that great filmmaking is alive and well in 2014. Unfortunately, one must always take the good with the bad and this year has had its share of flops and duds as well. Whether they failed to live up to the hype or turned out to be just plain bad, the following 10 films represent the worst that 2014 has had to offer, so far (there are still a few months left to give us even more bad movies).
10. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
The latest entry in the popular, but dwindling in popularity and audience patience Spider-Man series, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is not a terrible film, but it is absolutely disappointing. There really is no excuse for how mediocre this film turned out to be, especially given the high quality standards set by other comic book films this year like Captain America: The Winter Soldier and X-Men: Days of Future Past. There are many issues with this film, from its poorly developed roster of villains to its uninteresting subplot involving Peter Parker’s father. However, the biggest problem with this film is that the filmmakers don’t seem to understand the character of Spider-Man, giving him an infuriating “special destiny” storyline over the traditional origin where Peter is just a random kid who gets superpowers, and the movie suffers as a result of this lazy storytelling device.
The 1987 original RoboCop is something of a masterpiece; the 2014 reboot is not a bad movie – it’s actually serviceable – but it’s wholly unnecessary. Starring Joel Kinnaman, who is most well-known for his work on The Killing, the new RoboCop is a film signifying nothing beyond trying to make the studio some money in a slow part of the year. Paul Verhoeven’s original film is layered with political commentary and brutal violence, which helped make it a favorite film of the 1980s for many. The new RoboCop ends up being a watered-down experience when compared with Verhoeven’s original. The R rating is replaced with a PG-13 label, which means that the hard-hitting violence of the first film is completely gone. The film tries to be sophisticated with its relevant examination of the morality of drone warfare, but it just doesn’t have the chops or smarts of the 1987 original, rendering the new film’s existence pointless.
The primary issue with Transcendence, a sci-fi thriller starring Johnny Depp as an Artificial Intelligence researcher who becomes an omnipotent demi-god by having his consciousness computerized, is that it fails to be an entertaining film. Transcendence’s cautionary warnings about the dangers of technology and power are too on-the-nose and preachy to be communicated effectively, while the film’s script is lifeless and devoid of humor, which the film really could have benefited from. The acting also isn’t very good; Johnny Depp phones in his performance, and the rest of the cast, particularly Morgan Freeman’s character, aren’t used effectively enough. Transcendence marks the directorial debut of cinematographer Wally Pfister, who frequently collaborates on Christopher Nolan’s films. If his work here is any indication, he should probably stick to his other job.
7. The Monuments Men
Generally, if a movie has George Clooney and Matt Damon involved, it’s a safe bet that it will be pretty good. The Monuments Men bucks this trend however, as both actors turn in unmemorable performances in what amounts to be a largely uninteresting film. Set during WWII, Clooney and Damon star as leaders of a special US outfit tasked with rescuing some of the greatest European art from destruction by the Nazis. The film’s main problem is that its premise is too nostalgia-focused and largely ignores the brutal realities of the Second World War making it very difficult to care about the team’s mission when there is a massive war going on around it. Besides this chief issue, the film is just not very interesting. The Monuments Men could have been something great considering the pedigree of those involved, but it ends up being little more than a meandering film that is scattershot with its tone and pacing.
6. The Other Woman
The 2011 film Bridesmaids was great because it was a female-focused comedy that was legitimately funny, which is sadly a combination that is in short supply in Hollywood. The Other Woman could have been a good film in the same vein as Bridesmaids, but instead it settles for low-brow humor and misogynistic tropes. The film stars Leslie Mann as a wife who finds out her husband has several other women on the side and teams up with said women, played by Cameron Diaz and Kate Upton, to enact revenge on her philandering hubby, played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau of Game of Thrones fame. Mann, who is a talented comedic actress, elevates the material a little with her spirited performance, but unfortunately no other component of the movie is putting in the same level of effort, which ends up sinking the film as a whole.
5. Need for Speed
An action picture revolving around beautiful people driving even more beautiful cars, Need for Speed is a pale imitator of the much better Fast and Furious series. Starring Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad fame, Need for Speed is an adaptation of the popular racing video game series, a perplexing decision given those games have no real plot to adapt beyond cars driving really fast. Unsurprisingly, “cars driving really fast” forms the crux of the film’s plot. The story has something to do with Paul’s character having to enter into a cross-country race to save his struggling garage business, but it’s so half-baked that it ends up not really mattering. Whereas the Fast and Furious films put some effort into their plots and have a stable of likeable characters, Need for Speed gives little thought to the proceedings beyond its driving scenes, which are admittedly well-shot, but that’s not enough to make it anything other than a mediocre movie.
4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
This reboot of the popular Ninja Turtles franchise was just released recently but it is already being regarded as one of the worst films of the year. The film is simply an amalgamation of numerous poor decisions, including, but not limited to: a script that can’t figure out if it wants to be dark or comedic, poor characterization (the 4 Turtles are given the slimmest of distinguishing personality traits), and a reliance on the pretty, but not very good Megan Fox as the film’s lead. The Ninja Turtles effectively become supporting players in their own film, which is a bizarre choice given that their name is in the title. Unfortunately, terrible reviews were not enough to keep audiences away, as it opened at #1, and a sequel has already been confirmed for 2016. Let’s hope that things go better next time.
3. Transformers: Age of Extinction
Even by the low standards set by the previous films in the Transformers series, Age of Extinction is particularly bad. Michael Bay & Co. earned some goodwill by replacing Shia LeBeouf with a new human lead played by Mark Wahlberg, who is usually a pretty reliable actor. Unfortunately, not even Marky Mark could save the Transformers franchise from itself, as Age of Extinction somehow ends up being worse than the previous film, 2011’s Dark of the Moon. The action scenes, as always, look great and are full of expensive explosions and spectacle, but everything else falls flat. The characters are boring and poorly written, and the film as a whole is incredibly sexist (one scene depicts a Transformer brutalizing a female enemy alien that clearly represents female genitalia). This 4th film proves that the Transformers franchise really needs to go extinct (pun intended).
2. Winter’s Tale
Winter’s Tale is based on the 1983 novel of the same name by Mark Helprin and not the Shakespeare play A Winter’s Tale like many may think. Marketed as a romance in the vein of the popular Nicholas Sparks variety, Winter’s Tale is actually a bizarre supernatural fable that was panned by critics and failed at the box office. Starring Colin Farrell and Jessica Brown Findlay (of Downton Abbey fame) as a pair of star-crossed lovers, Winter’s Tale is simply a film that doesn’t work in any way. This is a film in which Will Smith plays the devil for some reason, which should tell you all you need to know about the ludicrousness of the entire enterprise. Despite being a visual stunner, Winter’s Tale is so hokey and preposterous that it ends up being an unintentionally hilarious viewing experience.
1. I, Frankenstein
It has become a bit of a cliché in Hollywood to release lower quality films earlier in the year, when audience numbers are down and prestige pictures from the previous year are hogging the spotlight in Oscar season. One of the worst early offenders this year was I, Frankenstein, a horror-action picture starring a beefed-up Aaron Eckhart as a re-imagined version of Frankenstein’s monster, who fights gargoyles and demons for some reason. It’s hard enough to get over that awful title, but the film itself isn’t much better. The premise is boring and moronic, and the entire thing takes itself too seriously, resulting in a broody, disjointed mess. The film would have benefited greatly from a lighter tone and more self-awareness but as it stands, I, Frankenstein is wholly forgettable and should be avoided at all costs.