Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Reel Facts & Opinions: The Best & Worst Films of 2014, Part 1



Looking back at the cinematic year of 2014 turned into a sobering task. This was a year where life caught up with the movies; movies that seem small when compared to the many actors who left us in 2014: Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Williams, James Garner, Bob Hoskins, Harold Ramis, Shirley Temple, Mickey Rooney, and Ruby Dee…to name a few. Their loss makes judging and ranking films seem like an insignificant task, but business is business and the show must go on. This first part of Reel Speak’s annual Best & Worst of 2014 begins from bottom up. 

This Blogger screened over 60 films in 2014, and is happy to report that only 10 of these are worthy of being put on the dreaded shitlist. This Blogger was savvy enough to avoid critically drubbed stinkers such as ANNIE, DIVERGENT, LET’S BE COPS, THE LEGEND OF HERCULES, or anything involving Adam Sandler or Tyler Perry. These are the films which should have and could have been a lot better or had the potential to be something good. 

It’s difficult to get on the case of directors Robert Rodriguez and Sir Ridley Scott when their efforts were so earnest, but we’re not giving out A’s for effort. Rodriguez’s long-awaited and long-promised SIN CITY 2 was visually stunning with a great cast and was very much within the spirit of its predecessor and source material, but it was ultimately a big snorefest and had a major continuity break which still has people wondering if the fool thing was supposed to be a prequel or a sequel. In Scott’s case, his Biblical epic EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS was the best-looking film of the year, but was bland and by-the-numbers with actors who didn’t seem to know what they were they for. 

George Clooney’s THE MONUMENTS MEN was one of several WWII based films in 2014 and was packed with an ensemble cast to tell a little-known story in history. That great cast was wasted with the thin and dull material and made little to no impression. 

Director Ivan Reitman, who once gave us the great GHOSTBUSTERS and STRIPES, once again proves that he is a very average director when he doesn’t have Bill Murray or Harold Ramis to bail him out. Reitman’s DRAFT DAY was not only dumbed-down to insulting levels for blockheads to understand the pro-football draft, but it was also unfunny, undramatic, and predictable from 10 miles away. 

Wally Pfister, well-known for his cinematography work, had his directorial debut with the Johnny Depp-led TRANSCENDENCE…and probably should never be given the keys to the kingdom ever again. TRANSCENDENCE tackles the issue of humanism and technology and treats it with the utmost stupidity. 

Director/writer David Ayer has now solidified his reputation as the most overrated guy in Hollywood. His SABOTAGE was not just a mindless-action flick; it was a soup-sandwich of a plot which made no sense and had heavy-handed and clumsy attempts to make interesting characters. Thanks to Ayer, Arnold Schwarzenegger has yet another turkey on his resume since his return to acting. 

Another version of the old FRANKENSTEIN story isn’t all that offensive on principle; after all, the big lugnuts has been recycled countless times in film, TV, cartoons and breakfast cereals. But what is offensive is when your film I, FRANKENSTEIN, lacks any narrative structure and defies every bit of logic. Acting from Aaron Eckhart and potato-head Jai Courtney is beyond laughable and makes it difficult to believe that something like this actually made it into theatres. 

The film which showed the most promise this year was David Dobkin’s THE JUDGE; with an all-star cast (Duvall, Downey Jr., D’Onofrio, Farmiga, Thornton), and a classic story of you-can’t-go-home-again. Unfortunately for all involved, THE JUDGE latches too tightly onto the clich├ęs and never moves past them; angry son, grumpy father, film projector with family movies, old girlfriend…it was so predictable it felt like a late-night TV skit. 

Be warned; this is where it gets nasty. 

There is nothing worse than disingenuous filmmaking, and the two worst films of the year are guiltier of it than any movie this Blogger has ever seen. The first is THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2. When Sony Pictures decided to reboot/recast their popular webslinging superhero, it was done with the promise of giving us something new. This was an outright lie as the second film in the new series accomplished the same thing the first one did: nothing. The first film teased a great amount of mystery surrounding the main character, Peter Parker, and did zip to resolve it for two whole movies; basically all teasing with zero payoff. Couple that with cartoonish action and laughable acting from Jamie Foxx, and you’ve got a bad movie. The worst part is the two leads (Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone) were two very good actors surrounded by terrible surroundings. 

The biggest lie of them all was told by Sylvester Stallone’s THE EXPENDABLES 3. Like the first two films before, THE EXPENDABLES 3 was made with the promise that we were to see our favorite action stars from years past share the screen together. A great idea, because who wouldn’t want to see the man who played Indiana Jones share the screen with the guy who played Rocky and the man who played The Terminator? When watching the film, it was clear that this was a big fib. The actors involved were obviously never on the set at the same time, so the film was cut to make it look like they were. This resulted in a very choppy film where the action just cut back-and-forth between close-ups. It was painfully obvious and amateur-level garbage. If that wasn’t bad enough, the movie made the genius decision for our hero to go and recruit a new, younger team…which put the promised action stars out of the movie for what seemed like an eternity, and forced us to spend time with a bunch of no-names which nobody could give a rat’s ass about. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the action scenes were dumb, the acting was shit, the story was a convoluted mess, and the CGI set the industry back 20 years. Nothing about this movie worked; the concept, the approach, the execution, and the end-result was not only the worst movie of 2014, but the worst movie this Blogger has seen in years…maybe ever

The Worst Films of 2014

1. THE EXPENDABLES 3
2. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 
3. THE JUDGE
4. I, FRANKENSTEIN
5. SABOTAGE
6. TRANSCENDENCE
7. DRAFT DAY
8. THE MONUMENTS MEN
9. EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS
10. SIN CITY 2 

*

Part 2 will highlight the best of 2014.  










1 comment:

  1. Only one disagree. My wife and I both enjoyed "The Judge." I suspect had it ended differently test audiences would have added it to their worst list. A lot of people watch late night TV.

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