The 10 Worst Films of 2014

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It’s inescapable. Every year the cinemas show their fair share of irredeemable cinematic crap. This list is what I deemed the worst of the worst that I saw this year. While I failed to subject myself to films with the potential to crack this list, like Saving Christmas, Left Behind, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or The Identical, I’ve assembled this list of honestly painful experiences. Films that take place in that void where it feels like your days are dwindling away at a more accelerated rate while the film itself drags time to crawl.

  1. A Million Ways to Die in the West

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I’ve never tried to hide the fact that I just don’t find Seth MacFarlane’s work to be funny. That being said, Ted was probably his best work. It wasn’t a good movie, but it wasn’t the typical MacFarlane fare that leaves me groaning. MacFarlane was saving that for his second feature, A Million Ways to Die in the West. Intended to be a western and comedy, A Million Ways fails at both ends. Running at 2 hours, the film is unbearably long for the limited laughs it evokes. Taking on the role of the film’s leading man, MacFarlane shows no charisma, no character, and for some reason his character isn’t a time traveler though he’s head-to-toe a product of the 21st Century.

  1.  The Purge: Anarchy

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I really want to like The Purge films. There’s an interesting concept there that could be utilized to provide an entertaining take on income inequality and other class issues. There’s only one problem: Neither of the two Purge films, including this summer’s The Purge: Anarchy, have anything to say about these issues. It’d be easier to forgive the lacking political content of The Purge: Anarchy had it actually been entertaining, well-shot, and not painfully idiotic. The ultimate failings of The Purge: Anarchy are that it’s a dystopian thriller devoid of thrills and that it’s a movie possibly directed by a blind man. From my original review: “This movie could actually be called 5 Boring Characters Running. It’s Escape from New York meets The Warriors, but without any charm, suspense, terror, or any of the other qualities people seek when going to the movies.”

  1. God’s Not Dead

 

Never mind your own faith. Never mind that this film’s title is based upon a misunderstanding of Fredrick Nietzsche. Never mind that this film may have taken its inspiration from a Kids in the Hall sketch. What matters most is that God’s Not Dead is a wholly inept film. The script is assembled as if someone took 6 Chick Comics, tore them up, and rearranged them like a Dadaist poem. You could have kaleidoscope vision while watching The Wizard of Oz and not see so many strawmen. Even if we remove what the film is trying to say, its construction is below the level of a freshman student film. This is a film that is almost entirely comprised of subplots, many of which make absolutely no sense. Subplots ranging from a Chinese exchange student scared to admit his faith in God to his father – you know, the Chinese are godless commies – to a couple of preachers trying to start a car. Complete with a star-studded cast that includes Kevin Sorbo, Dean Cain, and that one guy from Duck Dynasty, God’s Not Dead entertains in the same way that a psychotic preacher on a street corner does.

  1.  Transformers: Age of Extinction

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In 2009, Roger Ebert called Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen “a horrible experience of unbearable length.” Sadly for us, Roger wasn’t around to see Transformers: Age of Extinction. For the 4th installment of this inane franchise, Michael Bay returned to direct and somehow made the longest film in the franchise – it’s actually longer than 2001: A Space Odyssey. But don’t worry, folks. Most of the franchise’s hallmarks are present – sexism and racism – but for this fourth film Bay has dropped his signature rah-rah jingoism in favor of an unabashedly positive portrayal of Communist China. Trans4mers is full of some baffling moments, like the character who carries a laminated card with Texas’ statutory rape laws with him at all times, but perhaps the most amazing of these baffling moments is the film’s ending, which I refer to as “The Poochie Ending.” Yes, Optimus Prime has to return to his home planet, and as he’s never done before in the nearly 12 hours of Transformers movies prior, blasts off and flies away.

  1. Tusk

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Remember the Star Wars Kid? If not, I don’t blame you. After all, the viral video of a kid practicing his lightsaber moves is 12-years old. It is with this kind of topical reference that Kevin Smith chooses to open his 2nd foray into the horror genre. Outdated references aside, Tusk might’ve been an interesting film had it not encapsulated all of Smith’s shortcomings as a filmmaker. Characters ramble on in scenes that run with no end in sight. Despite Michael Parks giving his all, Smith’s film lacks pacing, tension, or even the basest gross out thrills. If there’s one thing that stands out above the rest of the dreck that is Tusk, it’s Johnny Depp’s cameo as a French-Canadian private eye Guy LaPointe. Not exactly a renowned improv artist, Depp’s scenes grind the film to screeching halt. A film that was already comatose and on the verge of death is painfully bludgeoned to death by Depp’s rambling cameo. There are 16-year-old half-literate stoners that could probably write a more coherent script than Tusk.

  1. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

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Wasted potential, Robert Rodriguez is your name. Like Kevin Smith, Rodriguez emerged from the independent film boom of the ‘90s, specializing in over-the-top action spectacle. Rodriguez slowly transformed his visual style, opting for a purposefully cheap aesthetic complete with fake film scratches on his digitally shot movies. Waiting nearly a decade to complete the sequel to 2005’s surprise hit Sin City, Rodriguez reunited with Frank Miller to make one of the year’s dumbest, ugliest, and just plain ol’ boring films. The 9 years of progress, whether technological or cultural, don’t find their way into this unnecessary sequel – its visuals are as ugly as its deeply misogynistic content. Making matters even worse, every character practically fits into the same mold – the men are all tough guys ready to use violence to solve their problems, and the women are all femme fatales ready to drive men to their doom. As the cherry on top, the film is overflowing with the dumbest voiceover outside of a paranoid GamerGate video.

  1. Sex Tape

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One of the worst comedies of recent memory, Sex Tape is a lifeless document made by people so out of touch with anything resembling what normal people have to do. Jason Segel’s character, who apparently has some mysterious job at a radio station, purchases two iPads at a time and gives away his old ones to the people in his life, including the mailman. You know, typical human behavior. Everything that is remotely technical sounds like it was concocted by someone’s out of touch grandmother. For a raunchy R-rated comedy, Sex Tape is remarkably tame. It’s an all-encompassing failure that may very well mark the low point for all involved.

  1. After

 

I don’t really like putting well-intentioned indie flicks in the Worst of list, but there is always room for exceptions. After starts out as an incompetent family drama but takes a turn for the unbelievably awful when its twist involves 9/11. It is one thing to be inept, but when you use a tragedy as a cheap form of emotional exploitation there is no redemption. It’s that final twist that leaves After feeling like a Tommy Wiseau 9/11 drama, and there’s no way you can turn that into a good thing. This all wouldn’t be so repellent had the film actually had something to say about loss, grieving, racism, family, mental illness, and on and on and on, but it has nothing coherent to say. It all amounts to a bunch of subplots and loose ends that are tied together by a tone deaf attempt at emotional manipulation.

  1. Atlas Shrugged Part 3: Who is John Galt

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I’ve never hidden the fact that I don’t care for Ayn Rand. Not only do I find her politics and philosophy abhorrent, she was also a rather awful writer. But I can’t deny that she has earned a place in movie history. She worked as a screenwriter with Cecil B. DeMille and King Vidor. She then helped the HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee) root out suspected communists. Rand even wrote a helpful guide which would be instrumental in deeming It’s A Wonderful Life as communist propaganda. There had been demand for a film adaptation of her epic doorstop Atlas Shrugged for years. After years in development hell, 2011 saw the first installment of a planned trilogy. 2012 saw its second installment featuring an entirely new cast and crew and a somewhat cheaper looking style. Even though the first two films lost millions of dollars, producer and co-screenwriter, as well as CEO of an exercise equipment company, John Aglialoro spearheaded this final installment. Somehow, these films’ incompetence overshadow their questionable politics, which I guess should be lauded. After all, they reduce Rand’s brave worldview of telling rich people what they want to hear into laughable cinematic efforts worthy of Ed Wood and Coleman Francis. All the characters are cardboard cutouts that spew grade school level ideological speeches while inhabiting a world constructed of strawmen and stock footage.

  1. A Haunted House 2

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As bad of each of the preceding films were, none were as painful to experience as A Haunted House 2. Marlon Wayans’ endlessly irritating and unimaginative sequel to his Paranormal Activity spoof is unfunny, ugly, and all around repellant. At least 85% of the film’s running time is dedicated to Marlon screaming at the top of his lungs. The other 15% is dedicated towards racial humor that does more to reinforce stereotypes than subvert them, and a sex scene between Marlon and an inanimate doll. Of course, the doll becomes a jilted lover terrorizing Wayans. It’s not enough that the film is painfully unfunny, there’s an anger that runs through the film’s gags. It’s one of those films that mistakes being regressive for being edgy, which leads to gags that are just overflowing with contempt. I’d rather have a session of amateur dentistry with Lawrence Oliver than watch another frame of A Haunted House 2.

Honorable Mentions: Ouija, Robocop, Into the Storm, Transcendence, A Winter’s Tale.

 

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