TRENDING NEWS: Monday Jan 5th, 2015
Critic's Poll: Worst Movies of 2014
As Vulture celebrates the finest films of 2014 (you can see critic David Edelstein's top 11 here), so must we celebrate the worst. Welcome to the 8th edition of our annual worst-movies roundup, as voted on by critics, where soon-to-be-forgotten misfires earn a last turn in the spotlight. This year, Vulture polled film critics on the year’s most torturous moviegoing experiences (some publications submitted collective ballots). Those responses, combined with a number of notable worst-of lists published elsewhere, were tallied to produce the final ranking of the ten worst films of 2014.
10. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Warning: If you need a reminder that nostalgia's a bitch, then rent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In this overedited, manically paced, and generally misconceived action-comedy, four benevolent steroid-enhanced monsters with no noses attempt to rescue well-meaning-but-journalistically-challenged TV reporter April O'Neil (Megan Fox) while fighting William Fichtner and a big Japanese man in a knife-suit. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles may not be as bad as Transformers: Age of Extinction, Michael Bay's latest entry in another film series based-on-popular-'80s-cartoon-characters-cum-action-figures. But Bay did produce Ninja Turtles, and director Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: LA,Wrath of the Titans) apes way too many of Bay's worse creative impulses. "TMNT’s juxtaposition of the serious and the stupid is never as hilariously incongruous as it should be," writes Nathan Rabin for the Dissolve." It can’t even manage to be the right kind of terrible movie.
9. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller's xerox-copy adaptation of Miller's hyperviolent and super-sexual film-noir comic books is ... pretty much like their previous Sin City. The main difference between that earlier film and this one is that the new film is one long narrative with three interrelated subplots. So if you ever wanted to be stuck watching Mickey Rourke run around in a terribly awkward make-up job nearly all of 102 minutes, or watch Eva Green swim naked in a swimming pool while Miller/Rodriguez's airless, pseudo-hard-boiled narrator murmurs about how she looks like "a goddess," boom, here's your film. Vulture's David Edelstein wrote, "In Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, schlock director Robert Rodriguez and dark-souled graphic artist Frank Miller indulge in the crudest kind of nihilism, but they sure create some purtypictures. This movie, in black-and-white with judicious daubs of color, is the highest-gloss revenge porn imaginable."
8. Left Behind
In a year full of Rapture-rific Christian panic horror stories like God's Not Dead, The Leftovers, and Saving Christmas, Left Behind stands apart as the worst of the bunch. It's not only the most panicked, but it was also apparently made on less than a shoestring budget. Extras look confused, CGI effects are amateurishly bad, and even leading man Nicolas Cage looks lost. The best part? Hearing supporting characters mansplain to Lea Thompson what the Rapture is, and why it's not as hysterical as it sounds (rejoice, heathens: Apparently, anyone that's been "left behind" isn't completely forsaken!). Vulture's Bilge Ebiri argues that "shoddy execution [kills] Left Behind. All the nutter-butter end-times stuff might have been tolerable if the film could string together a few scenes that weren’t laughably written and directed."
7. The Legend of Hercules
This soapy, Eurotrash answer to Gladiator is not Cliffhanger director Renny Harlin's finest hour. While not as disastrous as Harlin's Cutthroat Island, it's also not as endearingly insane as a latter-day Harlin joint like Mindhunters. Susan Wloszczyna, writing for RogerEbert.com, slammed the film as a mishmash of sword-and-sandal clichés, particularly borrowed from Zack Snyder's adaptation of Frank Miller's 300. "De-saturated color scheme? Check. Annoying stuttering slo-mo action sequences? Check. Legions of faceless warriors who don't require a SAG card? Right on."
Directed by Wally Pfister, Christopher Nolan's regular cinematographer, this dramatically inert science-fiction story thrums with big ideas that ultimately don't go anywhere interesting. Starring a top-notch cast including Johnny Depp and Morgan Freeman, Pfister's film starts off with heady speculation about what makes us human and turns into a sleepy evil-computer-program-tries-to-take-over-the-world action flick. Time Out New York's Joshua Rothkopf writes that "While Transcendence has tons of money to spend on unpersuasive digital effects and dronelike music, it shows little interest in exploring the potentially tricky benefits of a computer-enhanced intellect."
5. I, Frankenstein
The title alone inspired much hilarity ("'I, Frankenstein?' No, you, Frankenstein," being the most popular retort). And the rest of the movie, in which Aaron Eckhart takes his shirt off, and fights demons alongside gargoyles and angels, is no less ridiculous. Vulture's David Edelstein wrote, " With Eckhart’s slow-motion running, the whole things feels stuporous. I wanted to yell, 'Reanimate this movie, motherfucker.'"
4. Men, Women, & Children
Jason Reitman's latest milquetoast examination of the human condition concerns technology, and how it only serves to further alienate us while purportedly uniting us. A desultory cast — Adam Sandler, Jennifer Garner, and Dean Norris! — tries to liven up Reitman's ostentatious, and totally clumsy attempts at putting his finger on The Way We Live Now. But as Mike D'Angelo wrote in the A.V. Club, the film "depicts the Internet with an alarmist hysteria capable of making Reefer Madness look levelheaded by comparison." He adds that "While many of the individual storylines are ludicrously melodramatic, building toward emotional meltdowns (and one suicide attempt), it’s the cumulative fear and loathing of everything digital that crosses the line into absurdity."
3. Winter's Tale
Just try to describe Winter's Tale, an adaptation of Mark Helprin's novel, with a straight face: Colin Farrell plays a thief in 1916 New York who, with the guidance of a winged horse/guardian angel named "Horse," falls in love withDownton Abbey's Jessica Brown Findlay, a rich woman dying of consumption. Farrell's character tries to go straight, and love Findlay's heroine, but Russell Crowe, as Farrell's demon-gangster mentor, won't let him. Also, Will Smith is the Devil? Rolling Stone's Peter Travers "[called] bullshit" on the film and dismissed it as "preposterous twaddle. Use it as a date movie only if you don't love the one you're with."
2. Transformers: Age of Extinction
You may ask yourself how Michael Bay went from steroid-enhanced auto-critique satire Pain & Gain to another Tranformers movie. I mean, a new leading man (Mark Wahlberg), fewer racist robots, and more dinosaur-robots sounds like a smashy-smashy good time right? Wrong! In his review, Vulture's David Edelstein wrote, "Transformers: Age of Extinction is basically a shambles. If you do see it, I suggest you savor each image on its own terms as a work of CGI art. Dig the bombardment. Forget trying to figure out who’s zapping whom and why. Free your mind — or risk having it transformed into porridge."
1. A Million Ways to Die in the West
After making much money with proudly juvenile and mostly terrible manchild-bromance Ted, Seth MacFarland returns with a deadly musical-comedy that makes Cat Ballou look like Shakespeare. It's got frat-house jokes about boobs, gay-panic gags, and a starch-stiff lead performance from MacFarlane, the poster child for disingenuous "nice guys" around the world. Vulture's disappointed David Edelstein, who was "was primed to love it," wrote, "MacFarlane serves up over-the-top gore, expulsive diarrhea, Sarah Silverman’s vagina, and A-list actors dressed like Western archetypes against glorious wide-screen vistas using dirty words. The thinking must have been: Add “fuck” to a line and it’s har-dee-har-har."