Top 10 Worst Films of 2014 2 234


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

Michael Bay 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.

What films would make up your list? Please let your thoughts be known in the comments section below or on Twitter @TOF_UK and @rosstmiller! Remember, play nice…

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I’m a freelance film reviewer and blogger with over 10 years of experience writing for various different reputable online and print publications. In addition to my running, editing and writing for Thoughts On Film, I am also the film critic for The National, the newspaper that supports an independent Scotland, covering the weekly film releases, film festivals and film-related features.

I have a passion for all types of cinema, and have a particular love for foreign language film, especially South Korean and Japanese cinema. Favourite films include The Big Lebowski, Pulp Fiction and 2001: A Space Odyssey.


    1. It is truly a sight to behold, you can actually feel the genuine Christmas cheer inside you be extinguished while watching it!

      I never actually saw A New York Winter’s Tale. I know people who admit it’s awful but would never put it on their Worst of list because they enjoyed it so much.

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Movie Review: Home Again 0 417

This review was previously published at The National.

Despite an obviously talented leading lady in Reese Witherspoon and a family pedigree behind the camera in making this sort of rom-com flutter sweetly off the screen, Home Again struggles to finds its way out of cloying cliché and narrative contrivance.

This is the directorial debut of Hallie Myers-Shyer, daughter of genre stalwart Nancy Meyers (The Holiday, What Women Want). It focuses on the life of Alice Kinney (Witherspoon), a single mum who has just turned 40 and tries her best to raise her two daughters Isabel (Lola Flanery) and Rosie (Eden Grace Redfield) in Los Angeles with her job as an interior decorator.

Freshly separated from her British music mogul husband Austen (Michael Sheen), she embarks on a drunken birthday night celebration that leads to her meeting a trio of 20-something lads – Harry (Pico Alexander), George (Jon Rudnitsky) and Teddy (Nat Wolff) – who are trying their best to break into the Hollywood movie business.

The young men improbably end up staying in Alice’s guest house while they work on finishing the script for their first film. Before long they become an integral part of her life, from Alice embarking on a romantic relationship with Harry to George helping out Isabel with her school play. To quote the title of the director’s mother’s 2009 film – it’s complicated.

Except the film mistakes the kind of enjoyably frothy complexity exemplified by the best of the genre for skin-clawing convolution that renders much of the romantic and comedically-tinged drama of Alice’s life lacking in authenticity. Not that it needs the ring of truth that comes with, say, a Ken Loach picture but you need to be able to invest and believe in these characters’ lives as presented.

The approach to gender and generational relationships is simplistic which, of course, is nothing new to a genre that, at least in its Hollywoodized state, so often throws up films meant to be taken as easy-going fluff. But it’s particularly frustrating here when it squanders the potential thrown up with the initial concept of a woman trying to find herself again once she’s out of a stale relationship by entering into one with a much younger man.

It strangely seems far more interested in the plight of the three young men working as three cogs of one creative machine – director/producer, writer and actor – to get ahead in the movie business.  But even then it smacks of implausibility, like a cheap rom-com version of the bromance found in Entourage but without any of the snarky wit or Hollywood satire. Despite decent chemistry between a likeable assembled cast, Home Again is a tough pill to swallow as it rings false through and through.

3.5 out of 10

Movie Review: Goodbye Christopher Robin 0 448

This review was previously published at The National.

The world of celebrated children’s author A. A. Milne and the creation of his beloved Winnie the Pooh stories are chronicled in this frightfully polite biopic from director Simon Curtis (My Week with Marilyn) that flirts with dipping its toes into darker waters but steadfastly clings to safe tropes and always with its top button firmly fastened.

We start off in 1941 where we find an ageing Milne (Domhnall Gleeson in questionable make-up and greyed hair) and his wife Daphne (Margot Robbie) living on their secluded East Sussex farm. They receive a telegram informing them that their son, C.R. Milne, is missing presumed dead after heading off to fight in World War Two.

We then jump back in time to Milne on the front lines of the First World War. He returns from the fighting a changed man; suffering from PTSD (popped balloons evoking sudden gunfire et al.), becoming increasingly sick of just making people laugh with his West End plays and the general hustle-bustle that comes with big city life.

He convinces his reluctant wife to move to the country for some peace and quiet and where his infant son, Christopher Robin (played by Will Tilston at the younger age, Alex Lawther as he gets older), can go on the childhood adventures he deserves with the support of loving nanny Olive (Kelly Macdonald).

Settling into the kind of serene life he craves, he is inspired to create Winnie the Pooh and the rest of his soon-to-be-beloved friends inspired by the stuffed animals with which his young son has become so enamoured. Unfortunately for Christopher – referred to by everyone as “Billy Moon” – his father uses his real name in the stories, turning him into one of the most famous boys in the nation.

Despite the obvious attraction of it exploring the world famous Pooh stories, it’s a film much more interested in the effect it has on a fractured family clinging on to peacefulness, not least the unwanted attention thrust upon a young boy who simply isn’t equipped to handle it and how his parents carry on oblivious.

If anything it takes a curiously bleak outlook on what these stories mean to the world once they’ve been put out there, conveying a somewhat confusing message for a film that ultimately wants us to celebrate these stories as immortally cherished tales; that the Winnie the Pooh embraced immediately by the public and has now stood the test of time for almost a century is in some way missing the point of what it truly means to the author and a son who, inadvertently or not, was used as a tool of innocence to sell the idea of an idyllic childhood in Milne’s Hundred Acre Wood.

It’s bolstered by almost uniformly moving performances; Gleeson plays Milne with a kind of damaged empathy that makes you feel like you get to know the author beyond the public persona. Macdonald is oftentimes heart-breaking as Christopher’s devoted caregiver and Tilston walks away with the film as the adorably sweet-natured young Christopher. It’s only with Robbie that the film makes a misstep; she’s miscast as Milne’s wife and never stepping out of the shadow of cold motherly cliché.

In spite of its darker leanings, the film remains too buttoned up to properly wrestle with those themes in any sort of lasting way, far too polite to ever dive head first into the murky waters into which the drama intermittently peers.

Wrapped in Ben Smithard’s handsomely old-fashioned cinematography and soaked in Carter Burwell’s perpetually swelling score, it’s an aesthetically and emotionally appealing but nevertheless fairly vanilla period biopic best suited to being enjoyed on a rainy Sunday afternoon with tea and biscuits.

6.5 out of 10