Yesterday we took a look at the Top 10 Films of 2014, and as we’ve still in a reflective mood, and looking back at the highs and lows of the year in film, it seems only fair to look back and shame the year’s worst films. So two of our writers; Matt Wheeldon, and Terry Lewis; came up with their own candidates for The Worst 5 Films of 2014 (once more adhering to UK theatrical release dates from January 1st 2014).
Dis-Honourable Mentions: Whilst it was a generally good year overall, there was some genuine tripe in the comedy genre. Delivery Man was a situation comedy movie about all of Vince Vaughn’s sperm being donated to all the donor women in New York City. Except it forgot to include jokes. Poor old Vince looks like he’s given up the ghost acting as well. Maleficent, whilst having a great portrayal of the iconic Disney villainess by Angelina Jolie, turned an icon of evil into just another fantasy anti-hero in this soft remake of Sleeping Beauty without really explaining the reasons WHY she turns into an evil witch fairy. Scorned lover sure, but why the colour pallet swap to black?
Robocop was better than expected but it was still a flop for fans of the original. Whilst there is merit in the idea of positioning Robo as a marketing ploy for corporate run Police of the future, this remake still failed to do anything exciting with the concept like have a robot policeman cyborg go around and solve crimes! Similarly, The Expendables 3 had an intriguing premise with a new team of younger members joining up with some of action cinemas icons. Shame Stallone didn’t see fit to splash out on a big male name or 2 like Channing Tatum for example and filled it with nameless in the UK boxers and so. Female MMA superstar Ronda Rousey was a nice touch but like the rest of the film, shame there was no interesting action sequences for her or anyone else in the cast.
5. Need For Speed
I love Aaron Paul and his stellar work in Breaking Bad but he could do with picking some better projects because he’s been in some stinkers this year. I can see why he’d take on a leading man movie gig when offered but perhaps this poor video game adaptation wasn’t the best. This underground illegal street car racing film tries to rip on The Fast & The Furious movies, which in themselves have taken alot from the original Need For Speed games – so in other words we’re watching a rip on the films which is a rip on the games which this rip is based on? It sounds as good as it is. Next to no memorable action sequences is a crime in this kind of film and we’re treated to a blooming romance cross country storyline between Paul and Imogen Poots. It’s exactly the reason you make a video game movie about bloody car chases and races right? The unintentional comedy moment of 2014 occurs when Paul laments that his friends died doing what he loved; said death being in a fireball in a high speed car chase. Yes Aaron, I’m sure your mate loved being set on fire with insufferable pain and burns to the point of death.
4. Transformers: Age Of Extinction
There was a point where I actually thought halfway through the latest Transformers offering where with it achieved a level of competency. There was an alright plot with human created Transformers hunting down the last of Optimus Prime’s Autobot forces. Not Shakespeare but you could be watching awhole lot worse. Not so says Michael Bay. 75% of the way through, he wants to pull the trigger and create his epic movie on the level of LOTR with a quest to stop a cyber bomb which transforms organic into metal… I think. Like other Bay-ventures into Transformers-dom, Age Of Extinction is not very well told or explained, filled with the same terrible sparklers for “explosions” and the CGI has regressed badly from the other installments. Worst of all, the whole over-long film screeches to a halt to explain why a fully adult Irish race car driver man is seeing Mark Wahlberg’s cut off jeans wearing teenage daughter via a disgusting Romeo & Juliet law explanation. I feel Marky Mark is a massive trade up for the franchise (dodgy accent even) but he couldn’t save this from being a train wreck with an over-ambitious and uninteresting edge throughout. Actually, the worse of all was the film’s selling point, the transforming robot dinosaurs – The Dinobots – coming and going in the blink of an eye after being poorly introduced. What a waste. Still I should have really learnt my lesson by now shouldn’t I?
3. A Long Way Down
Perhaps a victim of extremely misplaced advertising, this attempted suicide themed black comedy was trailed by having a lot more of a “funnier” comedy side – which, given it’s sensitive subject matter, went down as well as a loud fart at a funeral. I mean suicide does not scream comedy does it? It does have good pedigree in being another adaptation of British author Nick Hornby’s works (which include About A Boy) but A Long Way Down has a very niche subject without mass appeal, no matter how they tried to promote it. Away from that, I was curious to see how they would explore some of the mental health issues which can cause thoughts of suicide. Whilst I could understand a number of the reasons which drove some of the characters to consider taking their own life, I did not believe any of the other characters were capable of it. A letdown of both the direction and the effort Aaron Paul, Pierce Brosnan & Imogen Poots put into this film, it’s a real shame to see since we know these cast members can act. Whilst there’s a smidgen of charm in seeing four people band together and try and help each other of their problems and an engaging plot with Toni Collette’s put upon mother trying to look after her disabled son whilst pulling herself together, this is a wild misfire that everyone involved must regret.
2. Brick Mansions
Remakes are a dodgy topic to deal with anyway but pandering to a different audience and doing a straight redo of a foreign language movie simply because a studio feels grown ups can’t cope with a different tongue has never worked in my opinion. Take this Americanisation of the stellar and damn entertaining French action effort District 13. Whilst that film contained an element of fun peppered with some ace Parkore free running stunts, you feel that it’s bastard remake Brick Mansions was done to baby western audiences so they didn’t have to read the subtitles. A likable enough cast gets lost amongst some terrible directing, with some choppy editing in the frantic action. It’s like they wanted people to suffer seizures on purpose. With the charm gone, this remake feels almost pointless when you can see the superior original, save this being Paul Walker’s last completed movie before his tragic and untimely death. A footnote in cinema history then which is apt because Brick Mansions feels like something disgusting stuck to the bottom of my shoe.
I feel that I am a very attentive viewer when I go to the cinema to watch a movie, always giving my 100% attention. When your attention span is just fed dreary, dull and boring garbage for a runtime about two hours however, you’d be forgiven for nodding off. And I’m sorry to say that Divergent is the first ever film I have ever been to see at the big screen which put me into a state of slumber. The whole world in which it’s set feels lifeless. The role system gimmick which sets this apart from other young teen book adaptations feels rather badly handled and dare I say pointless. Shailene Woodley doesn’t show why she’s one of the best female actresses out there at the moment with a dreary lead role performance, similarly against Kate Winslet’s standard dodgy leader type. If The Hunger Games is the embodiment of fresh and exciting young adult book adaptations, The Divergent Series (and what a fucking godawful name for a brand that is – I mean Series? It doesn’t gird the loins, apart from the marketing department to go read a thesaurus and find a much more exciting word to get people in) is the antithesis with a stock plot and characters that you have seen before and it has nothing, literally nothing, to keep you coming back to see where this is going. For a film to make me, a fairly healthy young man, go to sleep for the first time ever at the cinema through sheer boredom after paying money for the privilege, there is no lower honor I can give than naming it as my most hated film of 2014.
Dis-Honourable Mentions: We’ve had our fair share of good films released this year, and a few real stinkers, but 2014 has also seen a number of movies which were neither great, nor terrible (missing their place on this list). Films such as A Million Ways To Die In The West; Seth MacFarlane’s comedy cowboy which had a couple of funny moments, a great cameo, and an interesting setting, but was largely forgettable, and not a patch on his previous comedy Ted; Bad Neighbours; which was clearly trying too hard; and even the RoboCop remake; a film which I was originally too generous towards, and served as an acceptable enough action movie, but simply paled in comparison to the brilliance of the 1987 original.
5. I, Frankenstein
It wasn’t actually an awful film but, I, Frankenstein suffered from all the problems you might expect with a re-imagining of a classic Hollywood monster, and turning Frankenstein into an action hero; namely constraining studio briefs, a general ill-feeling towards Frank’s new look and action-hero status, reducing both the horror and action elements in order to obtain a lower age-rating, and simply using the Frankenstein name to bolster interest in another generic action/fantasy movie. It was ok, it was watchable, but when all’s said and done, I, Frankenstein was nothing more than a cheap Underworld clone, a new Van Helsing, and wasn’t exactly the best jumping off point for Universal’s big budget reimagining of their classic monsters (as Dracula Untold sadly proved). Bland, forgettable, and with a cast that was pretty much the same, I, Frankenstein lacked all substance.
Initially excited by the concept of the film; which features a dying scientist having his consciousness transferred into a computer, only to hook up to the internet, and become a somewhat vindictive, calculating, and not entirely human, artificial intelligence protected by his former wife; Transcendence boasted a cast which included Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany, Rebecca Hall, Morgan Freeman, and Cillian Murphy, and was even featured on the Black List (comprising of some of the best unproduced scripts in Hollywood), but came to screen with all the excitement and originality of a damp cloth. Not necessarily bad in any way shape or form, it was just dull. It felt unoriginal, formulaic, obvious, lacking any social commentary, action set-pieces, or emotional drama, and had it’s main star (Depp) delivering a performance so phoned-in he may as well have been an 8-year-old reading the script aloud in class.
3. Postman Pat: The Movie
It’s a true shame to include such a childhood treasure on a list such as this, but not only has the TV show itself gone so far down the hill Pat’s trusty red van wouldn’t make it back up, this film-version/tie-in was another example of a paint-by-numbers children’s film which lacked heart. Firstly, Pat should never be CGI, as the charm of Pat’s original series revolved around the quaint village, the stop-motion puppets, and lovely little theme tune (all of which are gone), not shiny helicopters, robots, and talent shows. Story-wise Pat isn’t awful; he enters a talent show (clear pandering to young audiences who may recognise the Simon Cowell parody) in order to help save his sorting office, gets swept up in a wave of Britain’s Got Talent style marketing fluff, and robots begin to replace the everyday postie before he returns to save the day; it’s just delivered in a dull manner, without any heart, abandoning what made the original show so memorable and endearing (and the in-jokes referencing the original show only serve to sadly remind audiences how far we’ve come from Pat’s glory days). Bland and forgettable rubbish, Postman Pat: The Movie was nothing compared to the old TV show (see Paddington for a spot-on example of how it should be done).
2. Pudsey: The Movie
Sure a dog sitting on command, spinning around, and jumping through hoops means its trainer has done a good job (whether that means Ashleigh and Pudsey deserved to win Britain’s Got Talent is another matter entirely), but exactly how does having a dog that will sit when asked, automatically make a good movie? In short, it doesn’t. It’s another piece of shameless marketing, as the BGT team obviously have no idea how to actually make any money from Ashleigh and Pudsey, and so they released a worthless ‘family film’ with absolutely no substance, no charm, no humour, and no feeling whatsoever; just a dog who used his ability to walk on two legs to save the day. A by-the-book example of how to make an indescribably dull film, which even the children won’t enjoy. If you haven’t seen it, you haven’t missed a thing.
1. Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie
To paraphrase Highlander, when making this list, there could be only one. My clear winner, a stand-out failure on just about every level, it had to be the God-awful, dull, predictable, and not even remotely funny Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie. A two-hour time suck which still infuriates to this day, a lowest common-denominator pile of trash which took an un-funny TV show, vomited it onto the big screen, and not only suffered from all the problems traditionally associated with extending a TV show into a movie, but became a stretched-out, un-funny, unrealistic, piece of semi-racist garbage with poor slapstick, zero wit, and all the charm of a needle filled snake pit. What makes matters worse however, is the fact it’s a record-breaking movie. Not only is the show itself (an un-funny, lowest common-denominator, piece of garbage itself) a huge hit, but this so-called ‘film’ actually made enough money to warrant potential sequels (three are potentially in the works as you read this; an official sequel, and two spin-off movies), and made it into the top grossing lists of many an independent cinema. A shockingly bad film, an even worse comment on the state of our film-going society, and something which will only appeal to the likes of Mrs Brown’s fans.
Agree with our lists? Think we both made a glaring omission or included something which has no place being on any ‘Worst Of’ list? Or simply want to talk about the films we have mentioned? You can get involved and let us know in the comments section below.