Wherever there is light, darkness will surely follow. The same holds true for movies I’m afraid. 2014 was full of fantastic film experiences but, unfortunately, just as many poor ones. This was also a big year of disappointments, Chris Nolan… you tried. In any case, here is my top 5 list of the films I enjoyed the least during 2014. Once again, this is in no particular order.
“Christopher Nolan, the genius behind such films as The Dark Knight, The Prestige and Inception, had one of the most ambitious and highly anticipated films of the year on his hands. When it finally hit theatres I couldn’t wait, I rushed to the nearest Cineplex and bought a ticket. Then came the most disappointing and boring 3 hours of 2014.”
Nolan, who is known for his large concepts and lengthy explanatory monologues, gets a little carried away with this film. In his other projects, namely Inception, Chris Nolan balances his mind bending ideals with action and wit. With Interstellar its grandiose philosophical rant followed by more yawn inducing exposition.
The themes of family and love that are talked about so often are nowhere to be found. Sitting in the theatre watching this film felt like I was watching a video of Nolan on stage talking about how much smarter he thinks he is in comparison to everyone else.
Putting aside the fact that the film isn’t very entertaining, there are plot holes everywhere you look. The astronauts used a wormhole, placed by unexplainable fifth dimension people, to travel to another universe in order to find a new home. Once through the wormhole and after travelling to a bunch of boring planets (one is nothing but water, another just ice and the third just red dirt… visually stunning my behind) and it is revealed that one of the pilots is in fact the fifth dimension dude. Only, how could he have placed the wormhole to travel to the other worlds before he transformed into a time hopping space librarian? Didn’t he need the wormhole to be in place prior to obtaining the knowledge necessary to place it there? It is all very convoluted and in the end the film isn’t nearly good enough to warrant searching for an answer.
Jessica Chastain and Matthew McConaughey are solid in it though.
“What we ended up with was a bumbling mess of a film that, unlike its title, fails in its attempt to rise above the competition. Transcendence is a slow, boring movie that plays out more like a psych textbook than a blockbuster film.”
Another film with lofty expectations to crash and burn in my eyes is the Wally Pfister directed Transcendence (Pfister also happens to be the protégé of Chris Nolan, that’s 0 for 2 over at camp Nolan for 2014). What was promised to be a high octane sci-fi thriller ended up being an exercise in how to bore an audience to sleep. Transcendence suffers from many of the same things Interstellar does. Too much time is spent trying to educate the audience on complex scientific and philosophical theories that the characters and story get left behind.
Just when you think the movie is going to kick into high gear, Pfister decides to take a U-turn and talk about artificial intelligence for the thousandth time. It gets frustrating quickly and drags for the majority of the run time.
The performances are ok, but with little to no development there is only so much an actor can do. Take Johnny Depp for example. The beginning of the film sees him as a sarcastic recluse who only has 2 real friends. He is semi interesting and you can definitely see potential for growth, only he gets turned into an emotionless computer around 10 minutes killing any possibility for more.
If you’re into theoretical artificial intelligence and complex scientific jibber jabber, enjoy. Otherwise don’t waste your time.
“Annabelle, the spin-off of the successful James Wan horror flick The Conjuring, is terrible. Its attempts at invoking its predecessors (Sinister, Insidious, The Conjuring) all come off as poorly conceived. From the sound to the story, everything has been done before, and to a much better degree.”
There isn’t much to say here other than that it’s really bad. In theory the film makes sense but in execution it’s a disaster. Nothing the story provides is inherently interesting and the entire production oozes cash grab. The only reason to see this film is if you absolutely loved The Conjuring and cannot wait for the sequel.
The only character worth anything in the film is the mother and that’s because she nails her terror shrieks. The husband is oblivious throughout the entire film and the supporting characters only exist to push the action forward. The fact that Annabelle comes from (some) of the team responsible for the aforementioned horror hits makes this mess of a movie all the more disappointing.
(Honorable Mention – Ouija)
Ouija came extremely close to taking this spot on the list. The key difference being that Ouija never looked good in the first place. With Annabelle, the quality films it spawned from gave audiences, or me at least, the hope for something elevated. Whereas Ouija always looked like a cheesy B horror flick. It took that identity and played on it making it one of those “so bad it’s still bad but there are hot people in it so I’ll keep watching it” type movies.
If you’re looking for a stereotypical possession flick you can half pay attention to, Ouija is right for you. If not, don’t watch this movie… or Annabelle, they both suck.
4. The Purge: Anarchy
“Exact same premise and exact same themes, just new characters and, once again, its outside. It, unfortunately, did not make that much of a difference. The film still emphasizes gore and carnage over raw terror or character development. There are hints of world building and political corruption, more so than the first and it does work better here but the characters are so one dimensional that I honestly don’t care.”
Anarchy is yet another horror film to hit the box office and another one that failed to capitalize on its potential. Opting to follow a new set of characters and placing the majority of the action in the city as a whole was a wise decision. The first film felt too cramped and left audiences wondering what other kinds of crazy chaos could be ensuing elsewhere. Anarchy tries to tackle this issue but stumbles in the opening act. The new characters are just as shallow as the original family, their only purpose to provide food for the wild animals roaming the streets during the Purge. The main plotline follows Frank Grillo’s character on some sort of personal vendetta. We have no clue what this mission is or entails, the only thing we know is that it’s really important. That doesn’t make for a very strong connection. We do eventually learn that his son was accidentally killed and that Grillo’s seemingly ruthless murderer has a heart but it’s all too late. After watching him mow down waves of goons for no apparent reason, while the majority of his rag tag civilian crew meet their dooms along the way, any emotional satisfaction is lost.
The set pieces are there just for show and the action isn’t carried by any significant through lines. This is simply another poorly conceived cash grab and is best left unseen.
- On another note, I can’t wait to rip into The Purge 3 whenever that comes out!
“When it comes down to it, Godzilla is a terrible film that makes mindless decisions until its ending moments. These final minutes are visually stunning and entirely satisfying but it is far too late to make the rest worthwhile.”
I really wanted to like Godzilla, I went to the theatre all by myself on opening day to watch what I thought was going to be the long awaited resurgence of the King of Monsters. Only, the supposed “King” was only in the movie for a few minutes. Instead, I was treated to almost 2 hours of the most boring and unintelligent characters ever written (for such high ranking military officials they showed a surprising lack of strategic sense).
Someone behind the scenes must have told Gareth Edwards that the key to a successful monster movie is to hide the monster. Audiences get a ton of looks (some are honestly impressive) at smashed buildings, wrecked cities and even burrowed through mountains but very few shots of Godzilla himself. I can understand holding back your trump card but you should strike while the irons hot, if the fans want to see a giant lizard wreck shit, you show it to them.
Like many of the other films on this list, it was the fact that I had higher than usual hopes for the film that led to my eventual disdain for them. Maybe the inevitable sequel will be good but for now, watch the originals (or Pacific Rim that movie was pretty dope).
At the end of the day (or should I say year) there were more quality films than clunkers but these films mentioned above happened to be the stinkiest of turds. Whether it be expectations running rampant or just generally terrible film making, everyone is bound to be left wanting after certain movies.
Before I leave you, here are a few more films I thought were pretty brutal to sit through, just not as bad as the others. Check ‘em out.
- Dumb and Dumber To (This film bordered on “so bad it’s hilarious” but ended up leaning more to the bad side of the equation. It had a really good looking lead actress in it though)
- The Expendables 3 (Sly just doesn’t have it in him anymore. Thin story, redundant action and terrible dialogue make for an epic ham fest and a bad time at the movies)
- Pompeii (everything in this movie is bad, with the exception of the volcano. The volcano was cool)