As movie years go, 2014 was fairly unremarkable. You had a couple superhero sequels (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Amazing Spider-Man 2), the requisite remakes (RoboCop, Endless Love), and even a handful of pleasant surprises (Guardians of the Galaxy, The LEGO Movie, Edge of Tomorrow).
But it still feels like we were sort of marking time before the blockbuster blitz of 2015, a year that will see the next installments in the Avengers and Batman/Superman franchises, a reboot of Mad Max, and a new James Bond movie, among others. Don't get me wrong, there were plenty of fine films this year (Birdman, Boyhood, Nightcrawler), but we probably won't be looking back on any of these as all-time greats.
And that just made the crappy movies -- of which there were many -- stand out all the more. Maybe it's because I'm getting older and my tolerance for that which wastes what little time on Earth I have left is at an all-time low, but the bad movies this year seemed *really* bad. What follows are the ten worst, excerpts from my quote-unquote hilarious reviews included. "Enjoy."
Honorable Mention: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
I'm sure defenders of Miller's particular brand of fetishism who will point out he writes tough female characters. What they tend to leave out is that he's unable to write them wearing anything more than lingerie or S&M gear. Rosario Dawson is a good actress, yet -- for all the enjoyment I admittedly got out of it -- it's hard not to wince when her tactical wardrobe for taking on armed bodyguards is a bustier and Daisy Dukes (granted, it's still less mortifying than this). Every dude in this film gets long pants and a sweet coat, yet Miho (Jaime Chung) has to behead bad guys while wearing a leotard.
10. 300: Rise of an Empire
However, if you only need one reason to convince you to see a movie, I give you Eva Green. In real life, Artemisia was not Persia's perfect killing machine, much less its Supreme Commander, nor was she a discarded sex slave who vowed revenge on Greek civilization, but who cares? Back story is pointless when you've got a character as hilariously, insanely scenery gobbling as this. Think Alan Rickman in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves or Gary Oldman in The Professional, then try to imagine one of them screaming, "You fight better than you fuck!"
I'll just leave with this, when Morgan Freeman - in glasses - standing at *a podium* - isn't convincing enough to sell the bullshit premise, that's saying something. Lucy is the Amway of science fiction.
Beatrice's parents are upset when she chooses warrior faction "Dauntless," but really: who wouldn't? They do parkour and get cool tattoos and holler a lot. Compared to that, any of the others suck. I wouldn't have found it hard to believe that the meek and selfless Abnegates and the farming "Amity" faction were dying out as the ranks of Dauntless swelled into the thousands until they all died after overdosing on energy drinks.
7. That Awkward Moment
That doesn't let Efron off the hook. In retrospect, it's hard to believe we're supposed to sympathize with the perpetually skinny jean/scarf-clad Jason, who reminded me of a more obnoxious Colin Farrell. He and Daniel live in a sort of Friends-style NYC fantasyland where their lucrative book cover-illustrating jobs provide ample income to live in spacious apartments and sip cocktails with attractive women that they can subsequently bone. Naturally, we're supposed to applaud his (belated) realization that Ellie is someone he should take seriously, and not just another spot on his "roster" of available ass.
6. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
You can accurately accuse Megan Fox of many things -- she married David from 90210, she has hilarious tattoos -- but the ability to act isn't one of them. Here, the only emotions her freakishly Botoxed/collagen-augmented face are still capable of are boredom -- which was apparently her resting state during the entirety of filming -- and scorn -- reserved for when she's forced to respond to cameraman Vern's (Will Arnett) clumsy advances. I've seen Real Housewives with greater range, and making her the film's emotional center is, in the words of another Arnett character -- a huge mistake.
5. Endless Love
Looking back on it, the lack of any sinister overtones (aside from Hugh goading David into punching him by talking shit about his Working Class Hero father) brought to mind two "films" that resemble the Endless Love remake more than the original. The first is The Notebook. Okay, so it's more like a "reimagining," but all the key elements are there: Wrong Side of the Tracks! Love across generations a few semesters! Chiseled torsos in the rain! It's even set in the South, though obviously not Notebook-era South because David has black friends who aren't servants. The second is even more obvious, but I'll give you some hints anyway: hunky auto mechanic? Sheltered rich girl? "Hey little girl is your daddy home?" That's right, Endless Love is basically the feature-length version of Bruce Springsteen's "I'm on Fire" video."
Collet-Serra and his trio of rookie screenwriters (that's not entirely fair; one of them helped script WrestleMania 22) throw so many red herrings and dumb coincidences at us during the course of the film that when we finally get to the Big Surprise, we're past caring. The onslaught of stupid is the cinematic equivalent of Egyptian embalmers methodically removing your brain piece by piece through your nose. And to top it off, the villain reveals their motivations in a monologue that's half Syndrome from The Incredibles, half Trevelyan going on and on about his upbringing in Goldeneye.
3. Dumb and Dumber To
But kindler, gentler filmmakers and laziness can only explain so much, and I suspect the real problem might be that we as a species are simply getting stupider. Dumb and Dumber was released in the halcyon mid-90s, when the only reality shows were COPS and The Real World and the Internet looked like this. Nowadays, morons are routinely displayed on TV 24 hours a day, while we're free to demonstrate our own idiocy online at any time and about any topic. After two decades of everything from Anna Nicole Smith binge eating to "beatin' up the beat," Harry and Lloyd are almost quaintly simplistic.
2. Transformers: Age of Extinction
As with the plot itself, Bay's attempts at social commentary are flung at the screen like so much monkey-propelled feces with little regard given to what will stick in a crying toddler's hair. What's the film's position on warrantless searches and the rise of the security state? The patenting of genomes? Technology's place in mankind's future? Who the hell knows? About the only viewpoint I'm sure Bay feels strongly is the one that's remained consistent through all four movies: he really digs young women's thighs, judging by the dozen or so low-angle shots of Peltz's shapely haunches.
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1. The Legend of Hercules
Hercules' divine strength doesn't manifest itself until the final act, when he finally agrees to accept Zeus as his lord and savior, or something. Even then, it appears to be a trait he can discard at will, such as when facing treacherous not-dad Amphitryon in yet another bloodless battle. Disappointing, because the only way they could have saved this is by going double live gonzo and making it a hard 'R'. Give us spilled intestines, crushed rib cages, and plenty of bare boobs and butts. You're already releasing this January when no one will see it, Summit; why not go nuts and turn the exploitation up to XI?