As the year winds down, and everyone talks about Oscar season, let’s take a moment to reflect on the worst films that came out this year. To cap it all off, here are the five worst movies that came out this year. Don’t worry, they’ve all earned it.
5.) Transformers: Age of Extinction (Paramount)
See the above image? It looks pretty cool, doesn’t it? A robot dinosaur breathing fire. You don’t get a whole lot of things like that though, because this is the latest in the “Transformers” franchise, a series that has taken the summer blockbuster and made it stupider with each release. The fact this one isn’t as bad as the second entry is only because this one doesn’t have robots performing a minstrel show (though you do get a Japanese Transformer voiced by Ken Watanabe who speaks in haiku and broken English and looks like a Samurai, so there’s still racism on display) or clanging robot genitalia.
However, you do get a whole lot of unlikable characters, all around skeeviness (a 17 year old girl whose sleeping with an older man and Bay’s tendency to leer at her and anyone else whose female and attractive), pointlessly sadistic violence (Transformers sure aren’t above killing people or other things that didn’t do anything wrong) headache inducing action scenes, wasting what should have been cool in giant robot dinosaurs, the usual Bay-isms (pointless slow motion, militarism, ugly camera-work, an overbearing score, awful comedy) and the fact that the thing is 2 hours and 45 fucking minutes long and nothing fun or even slightly interesting happens.
Then there’s the fact that even by the standards of this franchise, nothing makes any sense. In the conclusion, when :SPOILER Highlight to read:We learn that Optimus Prime can fly, nothing about it makes sense in that there was nothing in this franchise before this that suggests he can do this, as he causes a lot of damage trying to grab onto things. Why didn’t he try this before hand?:SPOILER: Which leads me to another thing-the Autobots are assholes. One could say “Well, if my species were being hunted down to extinction, I’d be pissed too”, but that doesn’t mean they need to fight among themselves, show total callousness towards others or, in the case of Optimus Prime, say “Always with honor” before stabbing a Decepticon in the back. Or the fact that Prime’s catchphrase seems to be screaming “I’LL KILL YOU!” I don’t remember a whole lot about “Transformers from when I was a kid, but I do remember the Autobots and Optimus being at least honorable, noble types. Here they are just dicks, and an extension of a movie made for knuckle-dragging idiots by knuckle-dragging idiots. If anything, the fact that these movies keep making a bunch of money and continue to get made is living proof that nostalgia can be a bad thing sometimes.
4.) Persecuted (Millennium)
This year, we saw plenty of faith based and religious movies. Of them, only “Noah” managed to interest and entertain me, as it didn’t preach to a choir and actual felt like it was trying to say something (in this case, about man’s ongoing pollution of the Earth) that could unite both the faithful and the secular. Then there are movies like “Persecuted”, which feel like they exist only so your ultraconservative uncle can recommend it to people on Christmas.
I say this because this isn’t just another movie marketed at Evangelical Christians-this is also a paranoid, right-wing fantasy that feels like it could have been written by Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh-though it at least skips out on racism and homophobia. Hell, even Gretchen Carlson makes an appearance. It’s all pretty loathsome stuff, and it has a pretty vile message to boot: That white, conservative Christian men are under attack from the secular, people of other religions and even people who identify as Christian but differ from them politically. Those people, in this movie’s eyes, are the real enemy. Fuck that shit.
3.) A Million Ways to Die in the West (Universal)
I know he produced the “Cosmos” reboot. I know he created “American Dad” (though he has little if anything to do with it) That being said, Seth MacFarlane is a damned hack, and “A Million Ways to Die in the West” is the biggest proof of this. Essentially a vanity project that is never funny and is more often enough more than a little mean spirited and smug, it at least can say it did this: it managed to throw in a cameo from Bill Maher that made me think “Wow, I really feel bad for Bill Maher here.”
From the moment MacFarlane’s protagonist Albert Stark tells you how much the old west sucks, you can tell this is going to be a chore to sit through. Oh God, is it a chore to sit through. The scatological humor (ever wanted to see Neil Patrick Harris have explosive diarrhea in hats? Too bad, he does here). The blatant racism. The misogynistic subtext (Amanda Seyfreid dumping him for being “too nice” and dating a total asshole) that feels like it could have been written by a Men’s Rights Activist. The tired pop culture references and gags that are MacFarlane’s bread and butter. The fact that most of the cast (especially Liam Neeson) looks like they don’t want to be in this movie. The fact that MacFarlane plays what might be the most obnoxious character I’ve seen in a movie all year. That it has Sarah Silverman in the cast and manages to make her not funny. Seriously, how do you make her not funny?
That and the thing is nearly two hours long, and feels like an eternity. Oh, and the celebrity cameos (not only Maher, but Gilbert Gottfried as Abe Lincoln, Ewan McGregor, Ryan Reynolds and even Jamie Foxx as Django Freeman) that feel utterly pointless. I could go on and on, but this is the absolute pits. The closest thing to a bright spot here is Charlize Theron, and even she can’t save what’s ultimately a contemptible movie from a man whose a hack convinced he’s a genius, and looks down at anyone who doesn’t agree.
2.) The Prince (Lions Gate)
Before I get into the review, I want to tell you about the Grindstone Entertainment Group. They are a subsidiary of Lions Gate whose specialty is direct to video or in this case, limited release/on-demand movies that get dumped to Redbox soon after. They have never released a good movie, and “The Prince” somehow manages to represent the nadir of this studio: a theatrically released movie that manages to make many a straight to video one look good by comparison.
Yet another version of the “Taken” formula, this has all the makings of a Grindstone releasing co-production. It has the awful cinematography and direction that looks cheap and amateurish. A soundtrack featuring awful songs. A script that feels like it was written on autopilot. Big name stars (Bruce Willis), former big name stars (John Cusack) and guys who have always been kind of there (Jason Patric) in the cast. Oh, and 50 Cent. I’m not kidding, 50 Cent has been in nearly every Goddamned release these guys make. Granted, it’s not a very big role, but he’s still there.
I mention him in particular because he doesn’t deliver the worst performance of the movie. That honor goes to Bruce Willis. Everything about his performance reeks of contempt not only for the movie, but the audience that has to watch it, and manages to be the worst performance in a career that lately seems to be increasingly made up of performances like this. There is also the question of “why are you in this movie”? Seriously, the guy is still a pretty good actor, and can still pull off a stellar performance (see “Looper”) Why he feels like he has to be in a movie like this other than a quick paycheck is beyond me. It’s depressing to watch.
I do think it’s worth mentioning that Korean pop star/”Ninja Assassin” star/Stephen Colbert nemesis Rain is in the movie too. No, he’s not very good. He tries, but he’s not very good.
1.) Ouija (Universal)
This hasn’t been the best year for horror movies. Sure, “The Babadook” is my second favorite movie of the year, I’ve heard nothing but good things about “The Guest” and “Dead Snow 2”, “Occulus” was surprisingly effective and “The Purge: Anarchy” was the movie the prior one should have been. Apart from that, it’s been largely dour for the genre.
Let’s go back to “The Purge: Anarchy” That’s because it and the predecessor were produced by Jason Blum and, of all people, Michael Bay. I mention this because those movies felt very little like the thing Bay likes to produce. In fact, they were actually ambitious little films that actually tried to make a statement about the state of America in the 21st Century. They felt more like Blum productions than Bay ones. Well, the two return as producers for “Ouija”, the latest movie based on a Hasbro product, and everything about it has Bay’s fingerprints on it. In the process, it’s the worst horror movie he’s produced, and when you consider that his production credits for the genre include “The Unborn” and the remakes of “The Hitcher” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street”, that says a lot.
“Ouija” isn’t just a bad movie. It’s the kind of bad movie that defines the worst aspects of a bad horror movie. It’s painfully boring, lacks even unintentional laughs and only sucks the life out of you. Not to mention how cynical the whole thing feels. Out of all the movies that came out this year, this one is the most blatant in it’s money grubbing and all around pointless ones I’ve seen. It has blatant product placement that’s also the most poorly thought out kind of the year-why would you make a movie meant to sell a board game when the message of it is “hey, this game will kill you!” is beyond me.
Then there is the fact that it so blatantly “borrows” from other, better horror films like “Insidious” and “The Conjuring” and thinks nobody will notice because it lives under the opinion that the audience are idiots. That and the fact that it at times feels like the PG-13 equivalent of a “Final Destination” movie due to the fact that it has people dying in various ways but there isn’t a drop of blood to be found. Granted, even with gore this would be the worst of the year, but the fact that it’s afraid to go that extra mile adds insult to injury. Horror movies have always been advertised at teen audiences, but this movie, along with “Transformers: Age of Extinction” are living proof that the PG-13 rating is a broken thing, and has now become an excuse to make awful (and at times, vicious and all around belligerently violent) movies with a rating meant to appeal to a teen audience that honestly deserves better than this crap. If I was still a teenager and you showed this to me, I’d be fucking pissed.
Everything about this movie is infuriating. When someone talks about how much they hate horror or thinks the genre is mostly made up of bad movies, this is the kind of thing they think of. It gives the genre a bad name, and the people behind it don’t care. You aren’t just better off watching something like “The Babadook” than this. You are better off shoving something up your toenails than sitting through this. At least when you do that something actually happens.
And with that, we are done listing the worst movies of 2014. I sure hope you managed to enjoy my pain, and the pain of those that had to watch these movies.