2014 was a great year for film overall. Most of the blockbusters were a lot of fun (thankfully) and there were plenty smaller, more intimate films that offered rich cinematic experiences – I will be posting my top 20 films of the year within the next week or so.
But like every year, 2014 had its fair share of duds, the films that made you lose a bit of faith in cinema as an art form for however long you had to endure them. Below is my Top 10 worst of the year list. Now keep in mind that this is no way a definitive list as there is undoubtedly many bad films I didn’t get around to seeing – the likes of The Nut Job, A New York Winter’s Tale and Stalingrad sadly past me by – but just the worst of what I personally saw all year. List goes by the UK release schedule.
10. Transformers: Age of Extinction
bestowed inflicted upon us yet another clanging, noisy, headache-inducing installment in his depressingly successful blockbuster franchise (this one made more than $1 billion!). The only reason it’s not higher on the list is because the special effects are, on a pure technical level, amazing but you’d expect that with a $210 million price tag. More boring CGI-filled action featuring indistinguishable giant robots hitting each other for reasons I don’t even think Bay knows, an indulgent and bloated plot that sees the runtime almost hit the 3 hour mark(!) and talented character actors like Stanley Tucci and Kelsey Grammar utterly wasted. The switcheroo of Shia LaBeouf to Mark Wahlberg is, admittedly, an improvement over the last one but it’s ultimately just more of the same. Please stop, Mr. Bay, we beg of you…
9. The Other Woman
This insult to the romantic comedy genre might take the prize for most annoying film of the year. It’s supposed to be about female empowerment as the three leads – played with varying degrees of annoyance by Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and model Kate Upton – try to get their own back on their mutually cheating lover (a what-the-hell-is-he-doing-in-this Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) but it just ends up falling back on the same sort of cheap laughs and predictable plotting that it should be avoiding.
8. About Last Night
The inexplicably popular Kevin Hart features on this list twice, the first appearance of which is in the woeful romantic comedy About Last Night. Flitting awkwardly between vulgarity and supposed sweetness, this staggeringly misjudged and annoying film thinks it’s saying something new and insightful about gender and relationships when in fact it’s merely a lazy, irritating retread of similar films, including the 1986 on which it’s based. Review here.
7. Vampire Academy
What do you get when you try and cross Twilight with Mean Girls? This smug hipster fantasy nonsense, that’s what. You’d have to have special powers to keep track of what’s going on in the confused and confusing plot that’s a lackadaisical mishmash of established ideas already done far better, featuring naff special effects, cringe-worthy dialogue, woody performances, even worse action and a plethora of some of the year’s most annoying characters.
6. Ride Along
Kevin Hart’s second appearance in the list comes in the form of this horribly unfunny and unexciting action comedy co-starring Ice Cube. Trying its best to be some sort of modern day Lethal Weapon by way of The Other Guys, this formulaic flick seems all too content to fall back on both buddy cop clichés that were old by the time Bad Boys came out 20 years ago and on the screeching persona of Hart; trouble is if you don’t find him funny (which I most certainly don’t, can’t you tell?) then the so-called jokes fall flat on their face. Some found it chucklesome, I found it pretty intolerable.
5. The Legend of Hercules
This was one of two Hercules movies to hit cinemas in 2014. The other one starred Dwayne Johnson and was a lot of fun in spite of, or perhaps because of, its ridiculousness. The same can’t be said for this one starring Kellan Lutz which didn’t even have the decency to be stupidly fun but rather just plain stupid. Bad CGI, repetitive action, cheesy and unconvincing romance and endless monologues populated this Gladiator/300 wannabe.
4. I, Frankenstein
A solid cast including Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy, Yvonne Strahovski and Miranda Otto is completely wasted in this incoherent mess of a fantasy actioner. More of a showcase for a special effects computer program (and a lacklustre one at that) than a fully formed movie, the unintelligible and rambling plot, messy CGI-filled action and ropey dialogue helped make this easily one of the year’s biggest stinkers. Review here.
3. A Haunted House 2
Yes, believe it or not they made a sequel to A Haunted House, once again starring Marlon Wayans and, in a fashion that even the Scary Movie franchise wouldn’t touch, attempts to spoof modern horror movies. From Paranormal Activity to The Conjuring to Sinister, nothing is safe… and that includes the audience. You just have to look at the scene where Wayans, there’s no other way to put this, rapes the doll from Annabelle (yes, really) to see how low this movie sinks.
2. Mrs. Browns Boys D’Movie
This perfunctory big-screen adaptation of the phenomenally popular TV series is an utterly lazy excuse for a so-called “comedy.” Witless, artless, thinly plotted, offensive to almost everyone who happens to find themselves in the script (and having the absolute gall to preach a message of acceptance towards the end) and, worst of all, painfully unfunny. This is the type of thing that gives home-grown comedy a bad name and the fact that it ruled the box office on release just goes to show that just because a film made a lot of money doesn’t mean it’s any good.
1. Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s My Donkey?
Here we are; the bottom of the barrel, the cream of the crap, the absolute worst film I saw in 2014. A raft of intolerably cheesy songs punctuated the horrid plot of the third film in the hugely successful festive franchise, one that pays no heed to even the most basic of narrative sense. Why are flash mobs suddenly involved and why is there a big competition for them (doesn’t that go against the very spontaneous nature of them?)? Why do none of the essentially kidnapped kids have concerned parents wondering why they’ve been taken to New York? Why would that city care at all about a missing donkey from a primary school in Coventry? Why are Martin Clunes and Catherine Tate in it? The list goes on… An insufferably twee, manipulative, terribly directed, badly written sequel that’s an insult to anyone – kids and adults alike – who had the misfortune of shelling out money to see it. Mind-alteringly dreadful.
(Dis)honourable mentions: The Pyramid, Ouija, Postman Pat: The Movie, Dracula Untold, Pudsey the Dog: The Movie, Annabelle, The Love Punch, Grace of Monaco, Blended, Tarzan.