Bottom 30 of 2014

The annual tradition is back! Every year, shortly after January 1st, I put together a list of the best and worst film experiences from the past year, and then I write a blog about them, and then you read about them, and then we're all wiser and better people. Or something. Either way, here we go: We'll start with the worst....


30) In a World...

I wanted to love this movie SO much! Lake Bell is gorgeous, funny and talented, and I would love if she broke the mold and got a good directing career going. I even loved the premise, at least on paper; a young woman struggling to be the first female in a male dominated field - that of the trailer voiceover artists. But instead of a clever indie that challenged traditional gender roles we got Beverly Voiceover 90210. A self-obsessed, drama-queen dramady, which lacked both comedy, drama, and depth.

29) Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

What the hell happened?! Seriously! How could you guys screw this up!? Well first of all, you waited too long. The world moved on. That black/white, virtual CGI, film noir world had a part to play, but now that's over. Two: You didn't evolve. Sin City 2 is the same as Sin City 1, just more of the same. Different boobs, great boobs in fact, but ultimately the same. And finally, three: Sin City 2 has all the same problems the first one had, you didn't fix a single one of them. I suspect directors Robert Rodriguez & Frank Miller were so convinced they're brilliant, they forgot to check if everyone else agrees.

28) The Equalizer

It looks good, and Denzel Washington is always solid, but this must be the least ambitious film of the year. It's so utterly predictable, and completely uninventive that it's hard to believe this is a real Hollywood film. Was that a joke? Yes. No. Well, sort of.

27) RoboCop

A remake of RoboCop made even less sense than the remake of Total Recall, unless of course you could come up with a bold new vision to rival Paul Verhoeven's original masterpiece. Random-director-for-hire José Padilha did not have a bold vision, sadly. RoboCop should have just stayed in the 80's, don't you agree Irvin Kershner?

26) The Grandmaster

I HATED this movie. I found it completely unbearable on almost every level. Now, I know there were different versions of the film for different markets, and perhaps I saw the wrong one, but unless the other versions told a different story, in a different way, about a different guy, it wouldn't chance anything for me. Damn, I hated that film! Why Isn't it higher on the list, then? Because Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi.

25) The Wolf of Wall Street

It's been 25 years since Martin Scorsese made his last masterpiece. It's been 10 years since he made a film I would even consider watching a second time. And yet, it surprised me how big a misfire this film was. It's an hour too long, it basically just recycles themes from Goodfellas, and it shows no empathy for the many lives its flamboyant lead character has destroyed. High-profile clueless film-making at its worst.

24) The Expendables 3

It was too good to be true. That massive cast, those spectacular guest stars, a weird choice of director, and sure enough, Expendables 3 collapsed under its own weight. We want to watch the good old action stars kick ass, when we see a film like this. We don't want a bland new crew, we don't want generic action-scenes, we want what you gave us in I and II. Don't tell me you don't realize why those films were good!

23) Drive Hard

A silly bit of fun, surely. Yeah, but unfortunately not quite silly enough, and ultimately not a lot of fun. Also, Thomas Jane should never ever appear with long hair again.

22) Pompeii

Paul W.S. Anderson has made some entertaining films, but here he's way out of his comfort zone. He's just not smart enough to make this kind of epic. He should stick to trashy, fun, action films. The drama here is utterly predictable, and the film feels completely inauthentic in every aspect, from the casting, to the production design, to the dialogue. When the big disaster finally hits PWSA gets a chance to deliver some impressive images. Unfortunately, volcano or no volcano, the characters remain as one-dimensional as ever. You'll spend the whole film snickering, which is why it's not further down on the list.

21) Når dyrene drømmer (When Animals Dream)

Valiant, but ultimately doomed, Danish attempt to make a werewolf film. Almost nothing happens in the film, no one talks about anything, and that's a pretty ineffective way to tell a story. It could have worked, they had everything going for them. Next time the director should just make a sculpture.

20) Escape Plan

Another Arnold film on the list? Boy, this isn't his year. At least Braunschweiger looked like he was having fun in this one, unlike his co-star Sylvester Stallone. Maybe Sly knew what a convoluted script he was working with? And another thing: Don't hire 50 Cent. Ever. For anything. Not even as wallpaper.

19) In the Blood

Hiring Gina Carano to kick ass makes sense. Hiring her to act? No so much. Hiring Cam Gigandet to do anything but clean the toilet? Downright moronic. So was the film.

18) Kvinden i buret (The Keeper of Lost Causes)

Deadly dull, Danish detective story, based on a popular book series. Everything about this film is too small: The budget, the story, the director's ambitions, the drama. In a world where we have Se7en and Silence of the Lambs, you have to try harder than this.

17) Frost

Utterly confusing, inconsistent found-footage film from Iceland, which leaves more questions than the shaky images answer. What happened on that glacier? Did something happen? Who did it happen to? When did it happen? These and other basic storytelling issues plague the core mystery of this film, which is so vague it could pass for gibberish.

Cool setting notwithstanding the movie quickly falls into the overly familiar trappings of the genre, and accomplishes less than The Blair Witch Project did 14 years ago, when the idea seemed fresh. The film descends into blurry-cam nonsense during the finale, before leaving the format for a straightforward wrap up, in an equally unsatisfying non-answer ending.

16) Kite (Live Action)

How do you make a full-length Hollywood film from a 50-minute Japanese, animated porn? You ignore everything but the lead character's name.

15) Under The Skin

Everything that's wrong with so-called "art films" gathered in one neat package! Meandering, almost non-existing plot. Silence presented as substance. Nudity in lieu of honesty. Too bad that awesome ending doesn't belong to a better film. Speaking of which, if Scarlett Johansson wants to get naked I'm all for it. But couldn't she do it in a real film?

14) The Counselor

Poor senile Ridley Scott. He's just lost it. If Prometheus wasn't proof enough, this one should convince you.

(full review here)

13) Transcendence

Wally! Tell me you didn't pull a Mikael Salomon (he of Blue Lagoon: The Awakening fame) and traded a stellar career as cinematographer for a mediocre-to-non-existing career as a director? Tell me you'll go back to shooting, please. To be fair Transcendence's major problem is the script. It just doesn't work, it's incompetent nonsense, and the film itself is too dull and too constrained to be unintentionally funny. This is just a big, dozy, dying beast.

12) Maleficent

This is a genre now. The CGI-barf-bag genre. Last year we had Oz the Great and Powerful and Jack the Giant Slayer. I blame Tim Burton. It started with Alice in Wonderland making $1 billion. Oh well, Maleficent is another film in a long line of big-budget Hollywood fairytales drenched in CGI. They are ALL terrible. They never work. Put some damn effort into THE STORY and don't worry so much about the look.

11) Sabotage

Wait, wait... this is the THIRD Arnold film on the bottom list? What are you doing, big guy? What's happening to you? You have to pick better scripts. It started so well with Expendables 2 and The Last Stand, but three shitty films in a row? What, are you trying to follow Seagal down the drain? Try less hard.

10) Transformers: Age of Extinction

Stop it, Michael Bay. No, I'm serious, stop it! Are you listening? PUT that camera down, pull that robot out of your ass, and pay attention! Are you paying attention? Here's what I want you to do: STOP IT! And get a fucking editor.

9) I, Frankenstein

If you squint, this almost looks like a movie! This is a stupid Underworld-like ripoff, which uses the name Frankenstein to get some street cred, but here's how incompetent this film is: Even the title is nonsense. This is about Frankenstein's monster, which is called Adam, there is no Frankenstein in the movie, so the proper title would be "I, Adam". Hilarious. I suggest this film should go away and die on the North Pole.

8) Vampire Academy

This is not a film. This is a ragged collection of random clips tied together without the slightest regard for a coherent narrative. Every scene makes references to events or concept it seems like we should already be familiar with, as if we're dumped into the middle of a series of films, and someone forgot to tell us this is number 8.

It's full of insultingly weak exposition ("Can you believe it's been two years since we ran away, do you think the vampire academy is still looking for us?"), and seemingly insurmountable problems are clumsily introduced only to vanish in a puff of rosy words three scenes later. Too obvious to be cool. Not cheeky enough to get away with being uncool. At least the chicks were hot. Oh, and I think the guys were too, if you're into that.

7) The Act of Killing

This Oscar-nominated documentary is a morally questionable abomination, both in inception and execution. It may have started with an interesting idea, but somewhere along the way it went horribly wrong, and rather than initiating some sort of personal awakening, by having former Indonesian death-squad thugs confront their past transgressions, it turned into an endorsement of genocide and an ad for gangsters. There are worse films on this list, but none of them are as misguided as this one.

6) Lucy

Much was made of the total BS "we only use 10% of our brain"-myth, which form the base of this story. I was fully expecting to hate the film because of this. I did NOT expect that the 10% nonsense is the most sensible and coherent part of the film. Scarlett Johansson is drop-dead gorgeous, but she's SO bad here, and the film spirals into brain-numbingly stupid garbage almost instantly. What happened to you Luc Besson? You were a contender once.

5) The Other Woman

Why would anybody want to make a shoddy, predictable, unfunny, unambitious pile of crap like this? And why would they put so little effort into it? Then again, when you can make close to $200 million, why would you try harder? The tone is all over the place, it takes the film forever to get to the point, and you can write the ending verbatim just from the poster. The casting of the vile Nicki Minaj isn't even the worst thing, nor the juvenile fart jokes, the complete unimaginative revenge plot, or that they can make Kate Upton in skimpy outfits seem dull. It's that every single person connected to this film should have tried harder in every aspect of their work.

4) Machete Kills

That's twice you make it to the bottom list Rodriguez. Time to take a look in the mirror and consider a different profession.

(full review here)

3) Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

How the HELL can you guys mess up the Jack Ryan concept AGAIN?! This is the third time in a row! And with Kenneth Branagh at the helm, no less. How is that possible?! And you guys made me hate Chris Pine too?! What are you doing to me?!

(full review here)

2) Tarok (Catch the Dream)

Cuntish bullhorn Anne-Grethe Bjarup Riis "directs" this Danish period piece, which should have painted a portrait of the country, by telling the story of the most winning racehorse in history. Unfortunately the incompetent Riis and her tone-deaf producer Regner Grasten have so little talent that everything they touch turns to a rotten pile of shit, regardless of the good intentions of the original concept.

1) Raze

To quote myself: "The first thing you need to know about this film is that Rachel Nichols dies in the first scene, before the opening credits. Yes, the very Rachel Nichols whose name they wrote above the title. They did this to con you into seeing the movie and that's not right."

On top of that this is a piece-of-shit film.

(full review here)


Phew! That was rough! But not to worry. 2014 had plenty of great films too. We'll get to those in the next post.

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