Critics always get a hard time for their negative reviews, people citing a lack of humour or pretentiousness as some of the reasons behind why someone may not enjoy the film. This isn’t true however as being and a good critic shouldn’t be afraid to give films such as Guardians Of The Galaxy a better review than the oscar worthy Nightcrawler. It’s simply a question of taste and as a lover of film, I never want to see a bad one. Unfortunately, I’m not always that lucky and this year there have been a number of films which have made my cinema-going experience painful. Here’s my list of the top ten worst films I’ve seen this year, starting with the least awful to the most.
I had high expectations for the directorial debut of Christopher Nolan’s regular cinematographer Wally Pftiser, which in part could be the reason I was so disappointed with the outcome. Whilst I think the direction, cinematography, concept and cast are all great, it’s the films gradual move into b-movie status with regenerative rain and super-humans that make Transcendence such a tough watch. Were it not for the talent involved, Transcendence would certainly feel more at home on a bottom shelf at a rental store or dare I even say the sci-fi channel.
9: Devil’s Knot
Taking the true story of the West Memphis Three which involved the murder of three eight year old children in the 90’s, and turning it into a feature length film, was always going to be a tough job for director Atom Egoyan. Whilst it does an excellent job in bringing the story to light, the film is confused in whether it wants to tell it through a court room drama or something more familial. Whilst David Fincher’s Zodiac brilliantly depicted its investigation from beginning to end and at the same time managed to add dramatic tension, Devil’s Knot gets bogged down in so much reality that it feels more like a crime watch reconstruction, but with Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon in the lead roles. It’s a fascinating story, but one best discovered through a book or actual documentaries; this dramatisation lacks any real drama however, under uses its superb cast and ends just as things get really interesting.
8: The Inbetweeners 2
Despite one genuinely funny gross-out gag that involves poo on a water slide, The Inbetweeners 2 recycles the same old jokes that very quickly become tired and boring. Using the age old sequel trick of sending our characters to a different location, this time Australia, it’s unfortunate that everything else remains the same with zero character development whatsoever. Despite breaking records in the UK for highest earning comedy in a single day, The Inbetweeners 2 is one step too far for the extremely popular series and is one of the most stale, inane and un-funny film’s I have ever had the misfortune of watching.
7: Grudge Match
The idea of pitting Raging Bull against Rocky Balboa may have worked decades ago, but reeks of desperation in this years Grudge Match. It takes the gag about Stallone and De Niro being old and flogs it to death within the first twenty minutes alone. There’s maybe one laugh but otherwise there’s very little comedy, very little story and the worse thing is that you can see that the two leads know it. When you think things couldn’t get any worse, Kevin Hart is also in the film for added annoyance (more of him later).
I dislike director Brett Ratner almost as much as Michael Bay, so my expectations were low going to see his take on the Hercules legend anyway. Little did I know that the film wouldn’t only meet my expectations but surpass them too as one of the most bothersome films I’ve seen this year. Not only does it treat its female characters in the same misogynist way that Bay treats his, but the story itself which ‘re-imagines’ the Hercules legend tries to be too clever for its own good. All the best monster bits in the trailer literally make up the films opening prologue and what follows is a lacklustre farce that includes such terrible dialogue as “fucking centaurs”.
5: The Unbeatables
It’s been a poor year for animation with the majority of releases failing to hit the mark. The Unbeatables tops the list of 2014’s worse animations though for its bizarre and nonsensical story. Originally hailing from Brazil, the film was re-cut and re-dubbed with an all English cast that includes Ralf Little and Rob Brydon; resulting in a strange almost drug fuelled cinematic experience. Adults won’t find it funny and I’d be surprised if any children would too. A complete disaster.
4: Hector and the Search for Happiness
I like Simon Pegg but not even he could save Hector and the Search for Happiness, a Walter Mitty type story that tries to be profound but is perfunctory at best. As his character does a world tour of ethnic stereotypes, all the while moaning about his perfect life it can make for uncomfortable viewing at times. More than anything though, it fails in trying to make its audience happy and actually depressed me. Life affirming? More like soul destroying. Avoid at all costs.
3: Ride Along
Kevin Hart. Again. If I were to do a separate post on the top ten most irritating performers in film this year, he would be number one. In fairness though, he is just a number of problems with Ride Along; a film described by Mark Kermode as “an action comedy with no action or comedy”. He’s completely right and attempts to capture the spirit of the best buddy cop movies of all time ends up as one long, grating Saturday Night Live sketch that is drawn out for an excruciating ninety minutes.
2: I, Frankenstein
I, Frankenstein spends its opening moments reminding us all of how good Mary Shelley’s classic story is and then the rest of its length butchering it. Brining the action to the modern day and adding a story involving angels and demons, the Frankenstein legend suddenly becomes Buffy the Vampire Slayer but with worse special effects and a more ridiculous story. With eye rolling dialogue and a by numbers plot, I, Frankenstein is one of the years most awful films. The only silver lining is that a sequel hasn’t been announced….yet.
1: Nativity: Dude, Where’s my Donkey?!
The longest, most painful time at the pictures I’ve had all year by a long way. Most people would probably say that I’m not the films target demographic but that is a tired and frankly poor excuse. Just because a film is made with a primary younger audience in mind doesn’t mean that there should be nothing for adults to enjoy either and the recently released Paddington is proof of this. It’s a moot point to a degree anyway as Nativity 3 doesn’t really offer much for its intended audience either, to the point where I can see even the youngest child shielding their eyes from the sheer awfulness of it. Self-indulgent in dragging the pain out for just under two hours when a plot doesn’t even exist is baffling and just plain annoying, Nativity 3 earns the top spot for 2014’s worse film as it can barely be called film in the first place. Belonging on children’s television and that’s even at a push, the fact that the team involved in its making expected the public to pay for this travesty is just as offensive as the dumbing down of children’s films. Director Debbie Isitt has hit back at the critics who have so elegantly panned the film by comparing her situation to that of Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life, saying “It’s a Wonderful Life didn’t get good reviews when that came out and Frank Capra was devastated, but he ended up laughing all the way to the bank.” Furthermore, she’s also said of the critics “These critics are just so out of touch with what people like and want.”. From these quotes alone I think Isitt is out of touch with reality and that shows in this grating and muddled mess of a film.
So that’s my list of the ten worse films I have seen this year, but what’s yours? Do you agree with mine or not? Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below!
Next week: Top ten most anticipated films of 2015
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