January 3, 2015

2014: Worst of the Year (Numbers 20-11)

This is a first. For 2014 I have expanded my bottom films list from 10 to 20. Why? I don't know, it is something of a whim. I cannot say the past year was a particularly bad one, and I think I did an all right job of avoiding some of the surefire stinkers. Still, no matter how much I like a set of movies in a given year, something always has to settle at the bottom. The list is made up of theatrically viewed movies only, and while I do not see everything, I see a good deal. That said, this list is far from definitive, it just represents the films I saw this year that I did not really care for. Read on for numbers 20-11.

20. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. And with the first movie on the list, I have probably lost most of you. It is true, I did not care for this movie. It was overlong, felt unfinished, and just did not feel like it went anywhere. The original subtitle would have been more appropriate: There and Back Again. That is just how it felt to me. I know there are a lot of people who love the Hobbit movies, I am not one of them Lord of the Rings, those are something special, this prequel trilogy just goes nowhere and has little payoff.

19. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. While I did not completely hate this, it is nowhere near a good movie. It is covered in a Michael Bay sheen that makes the movie feel rather homogenized, designed to blend in with a CGI crowd. The tale is a simplistic one and not to mention one that only exists because of itself. It is lazy storytelling that relies on coincidence and the idea of taking the shortest path to a goal at the expense of character and story. I think that is what annoyed me most, not the Goomba look of the Turtles, it was the lazy, circular writing.

18. Transformers: The Age of Extinction. The best comparison I had for this movie was did you like Pacific Rim? I did and absolutely loved it. Now, that movie made me feel like a kid smashing my toys together and having a great time in whatever made up world I had for them.Transformers: Age of Extinction is more like when a bully steals those toys and smashes them to pieces, breaking them. Michael Bay is that bully.

17. Bad Words. Despite the R-rated nature of the comedy, it all feels tame and restrained. It is almost a relic of the past, an old film being revisited. It is not edgy or involving, instead it comes across as stale, a retread, if you will. Sure, it elicited the occasional chuckle and engaged a slight feeling of sentimentality, but it was still more ho-hum predictability as you wait for the hammer to drop, but it never did. It sputters across the finish line with no real conclusion. 

16. Ride Along. A comedic take on Training Day that never really goes anywhere. Ice Cube looks bored and Kevin Hart, funny as a supporting man fails to really pick up any steam. The premise has promise, but it feels rushed and under cooked.

15. The Monuments Men. Unfortunately, The Monuments Men fails to truly hold attention. Our cast gets split up, splintering the narrative, there are conflicting moments of comedy and sincerity, serving to help the disjointed feel, and it never felt very artful. It all felt rather perfunctory, getting from bit to bit and making sure we get pieces of moralizing speeches. There was a lot of potential here, but I never felt involved. I wanted too, but I just could not get into this. It all was so flat, drab, and inconsistent that I felt pushed away from it. 

14. The November Man. I guess I never wrote about this one, could have sworn I did. Well, it is Pierce Brosnan trying to recapture his action roots Unlike Kevin Costner and 3 Days to Kill, this one fails to deliver the goods. This felt like Brosnan saying “Hey guys! Do you like James Bond? Do you know I used to be Bond?” That's about it. It was pretty dry and not very memorable. He actually did a better retired hitman film a bunch of years back called The Matador.

13. Maleficent. It is a strange film that does not really entertain. There are broad strokes, flat humor, and this odd disconnect between characters, like none of them were in the same room as the other. Angelina Jolie has this aloof look, as if she doesn't want to deal with anyone else. Elle Fanning has this grin plastered on her face the whole time, it seems unnatural. Then there is Sharlto Copley, I like this guy but he just doesn't fit this movie, or maybe it was just a bad role. I do not like how they have essentially defanged one of their greatest villains in such a forgettable film.

12. The Giver. While there are good ideas about control, sameness, learning from the past, being allowed to make mistakes, and feel, it suffers from an inability to accurately define and build this world. The result is a drama-less mash that goes nowhere fast. It seems to fast forward over important relationships and at times feels rather awkward. The best I can say is avoid this and try something else. Almost anything else. I do respect the way it tries to not be like all the other YA adaptations, but it does not quite do enough and it left me completely flat and uninterested.

11. Sex Tape. Like I have said, this movie is bland, boring, and wholly unexceptional. Also, for an R-rated movie about a sex tape, it is surprisingly chaste. It certainly is an R film, but that is more for everyone dropping F-bombs more than anything else. It seems to not want to offend anyone. Geez, offend away, it would have helped the movie to add a little more spice to it, perhaps even pushing it into some more interesting territory. 

That wraps up the first half of the worst films I sat through. Wait until you see what is in the top, er, bottom ten! Also, be on the lookout for the best of the year lists!

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