Monday, January 5, 2015

Worst Films of 2014

2014 was the Year of Holy Shit. A multitude of Christian movies were given the chance of a major theater run. All were targeted solely for those living in the Bible Belt or any one willing enough to give their money to have church at the cinema. Not surprisingly, pretty much every single film was hot garbage, spewing out vile or gonzo messages like text spam all your phone contacts every time you watch said movie, materialism is a-okay, or Christmas trees are actually giant crosses. These movies' crusaders for Christ included a washed-up sitcom actor, a smarmy college student, an annoying little kid, mothers looking for a break, Elvis' twin brother, an once undefeated high school football team, and a bored Nicolas Cage. Thankfully, this immense influx of God-loving products would prove disastrous to the genre, as subsequent religious-first movies would end their run to poorer box office returns. God may not be dead but his followers sure did get sick hearing about it.

But there was more bad fortune to hand out. The summer season had a large drop in attendance. Though superhero films continue to do very well and more were announced for the next decade, some fatigue has already set in for any studio not named Marvel, as seen with the dismal response to the biggest costumed avenger on screen. Adam Sandler's career was finally slain, as his big film flopped with family audiences, his two attempts at serious material were both eviscerated by the critical body, and the leaked emails between Sony executives revealed that even they are sick of his shtick. Horrible marketing decisions, such as making a PG-13 rated throwback to 80's action flicks or giving a bland title to an interesting sci-fi property, were bottomless. Online discussions about feminism, white-washing, and placating to China's needs were bountiful thanks to some questionable fare. Westerns continued to be labeled as box office poison, thanks to a major dud. A convicted felon released another one of his insulting documentaries. And finally, Michael Bay once again squander his talent by directing a three-hour butt number and a producing another dreadful 80's toy/toon revival. From all of this and more, I was able to come with a list of movies that need to be forever shamed.

These are the films I have deemed the worst of 2014.

Now comes the usual disclaimer that everyone forgets to remember: This list is of my own opinion, not the general public nor the Internet consensus. If I didn't see the film at all or in its entirety, it isn't counted or considered to be included.


1. Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas

When the trailer for this movie first came out, everyone including myself instantly knew it had to be at the top of "worst of" lists. Experiencing this in an actual theater was one of the highlights of the entire year, as I was laughing my ass off and trying to fully comprehend the utter insanity and lack of professionalism being displayed before my eyes. From the hour long conversation in the car, to the mind-blowing ideas Kirk Cameron and Darren Doane spout aloud, to St. Nick killing a dude while dubstep is playing in the background, this firmly was the worst thing I saw in 2014. It will live on with bad movie connoisseurs, sitting alongside The Room and Birdemic in the pantheon of "so bad, it's good".

2. God's Not Dead

One-part Crash, two-parts every stereotype and strawman the Christian community believes to be true, this unexpected sleeper hit proved to be a malignant movie. It has the audacity to rest its entire debate about the existence of God with a childish question. And just when it botches the tying of all of its storylines with a concert finale by The Newsboys (who?), it delivers two disturbing plot points that left me gasping.

3. Atlas Shrugged: Part III

Nobody gives two licks about John Galt anymore, thanks to this final entry in the pathetic Atlas Shrugged trilogy. Reduced to a budget of peanuts, despite a sadly successful Kickstarter campaign, producers Harmon Kaslow and John Aglialoro finish their dream project with a movie where everything goes wrong. Another sweep of recasting the characters, poor shooting locations, dreadful acting, major events told in throwaway cutscenes, a near softcore sex scene in a maintenance room, and more unintentionally hilarity abound. What do expect from a director whose sole expertise is one episode of Nash Bridges?

4. A Million Ways to Die in the West

An unfunny comedy for the ages. Seth MacFarlane his motley crew of bad jokesters unleashed a torment to the senses, consistently repeating the same joke over and over and over again. Further hampering his own product, MacFarlane though it was wise to have himself as the lead, despite not even having the chops to even play the guy who is crushed by a giant ice cube. It doesn't need to explain the many ways to die; it was already DOA.

5. Leprechaun: Origins

Buried away from anyone really noticing, this reboot (prequel?) of the unloved horror franchise was an atrocious calamity. The characters were brain-dead and highly unlikable, the script and direction cribbed all of their material from better movies, and it's an absolute slog to sit through despite a 75 minute running time (15 minutes of credits as well). But its gravest mistake is that there is no leprechaun, just an unfortunate dwarf in a ghastly bat-demon costume.

6. Nurse

I loathed this movie with all of my might. Paz de la Huerta delivered a performance that caused Uta Hagen to spin in her grave. Don't be distracted by the nudity or gore; this was a painful and insulting monstrosity to sit through.

7. The Other Woman

Speaking of terrible movies that think they are feminist, aka the Zack Snyder effect, this "girls rule, men drool" anti-comedy had Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann scream and shrill their way into no one's hearts. Could have been higher on the list if not for Kate Upton's perky performance.

8. The Amazing Spider-Man 2

A movie so dire, so riddled with unexplainable decisions, it has tainted the name of Spider-Man and effectively killed any hope of Sony continuing the franchise. When the film's creators (director Marc Webb and screenwriters Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, and Jeff Pinkner) weren't spending all of the running time weaving a badly formed teen romance tale, they were delivering non-stop sequel bait and a revelation that had everyone throw their arms up in disgust. You know it's bad when the three major supervillains are treated as jobbers and the real antagonists of the story is some old businessman and his personal assistant/hitman. Leave the Spidey costume in the trash can, Sony.

9. Heaven Is For Real

So pious and so incredibly ponderous. The sheer weight and lionization given to this so-called "true story" had me fuming in my seat, more so than that awful kid actor. As I said in my review, it's Take Shelter but played straight and with a happy, Jesus-friendly spin to the proceedings.

10. A Haunted House 2

A horrifying experience. Spoof movies are so undesirable nowadays, even Friedberg and Seltzer gave up. Marlon Wayans didn't want to stop, so he gave us the extra sloppy seconds of his knockoff Scary Movie franchise.


11. Son of God

Not only a dreadful Christian movie, I hate what this movie represents as a whole: the fact that a product of religious entertainment, which was given away for free on television and then available for purchase on DVD, could be triple-dipped with a re-cut for theaters. Also, I despise what it becomes at the very end, with producer Roma Downey taking the focus away from the Lord and putting it all on herself.

12. Tarzan

I'm a sucker for animated abominations and no other movie done fully with 3D animation software could top this ultra-strange endeavor. Edgar Rice Burroughs just can't catch a break in this business nowadays, as the European makers of this fiasco bungle up everything, from a Jane Porter that looks like a skinny blonde marionette to its message of violence is good.

13. Winter's Tale

What killed Akiva Goldsman's future as a director? Not the Ice Age but this movie. This head-scratching epic of magical realism had everything from a flying horse to Will Smith as Satan, who just happens to like wearing a Jimi Hendrix t-shirt despite presently existing in the 1910's. Three words that can sum up this failure: death by dicking.

14. I, Frankenstein

You can't make Frankenstein's Monster sexy. You also can't make your audience care about a battle between gargoyles and fingernail-wielding demons when the action is incomprehensible and no people actually live in the nondescript European city where this is all taking place.

15. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Megan Fox's despicable acting chops, ugly CGI characters, blank villains, comedy over action, and a terrible rock-rap song during the end credits. I'm not talking about one of Michael Bay's previous Transformers films but of director Jonathan Liebesman's appalling reboot of the beloved shelled shinobi. Seriously, they learned and mastered ninjitsu from a book left in the sewer?

16. Left Behind

Anyone who fully sat through this wished they were raptured away too, before more harm could come to them. Confusingly directed, badly acted, edited by a blind man, endlessly exploiting the image of missing children, and constantly repeating facts that the viewer and the characters already know, this remake somehow sank lower than the Kirk Cameron version.

17. Devil's Due

Delivering nil scares, spoiling its generic ending in the prologue and in its trailers, and once again utilizing the notion of white Americans being harmed on their vacation by non-white individuals, this found footage horror film is worthless and purely forgettable.

18. Kite

Severely lacking in the action department and possessing a story that is as predictable as it is somber, this very loose adaptation of the controversial anime should have stayed MIA than be released commercially.

19. The Legend of Hercules

Though it has Scott Adkins as Not-King Leonidas, this very cheap take on the mythological hero had no strength or creativity of its own, crashing and burning at the box office and later trampled upon endlessly by the far superior Dwayne Johnson-led feature.

20. Blended

Though it has some cuteness and is better than most of Sandler's recent output, this unnecessary long, somewhat racist tale of two families coming together still had myself huffing and puffing at every inappropriate sex joke and mean-spirited comment.

Next Up: The Best Films of 2014

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