10/THE FAULT IN OUR STARS
You may not think it considering I write for a website called Horror Cult Films, but I can actually be a bit of a sucker for a weepy love story at the right time. The trouble is that, if done badly, this kind of film can be almost unendurable. The Fault In Our Stars seems to have satisfied its target audience, which is good I suppose, and it does have an excellent performance by Shailene Woodley, while the first half isn’t too bad really. After that though it just decides to pile on the misery so much that I became numb and irritated, not to mention becoming almost offensively dishonest in how pretty these dying people look, to the point that I never believed that they were that ill. But what really sinks this film is the horribly fake and tasteless scene when Hazel [suffering from terminal cancer, you remember] climbs up a ladder in the house of Anne Frank, then snogs her boyfriend while the crowd clap!
9/DUMB AND DUMBER TO
For the first twenty minutes or so of Dumb And Dumber To, widely considered to be a very poor belated sequel, I laughed a bit and wondered if once again I was at odds with the majority, but it did soon become quite bad, though I must say that the Farrelly Brothers have never seemed to me to be especially talented and that the original Dumb and Dumber, while probably their best film, is hardly a classic to my eyes. However, at least in that film Lloyd and Harry were kind of likeable and there was a certain sweetness in amongst all the crude gags. In this one, the two are just a big pain and I ended up seriously disliking them, the cruel and creepy aspects just don’t sit well with the idea that this is just meant to be a big lark, and come the final quarter it’s obvious how they really didn’t know how to end matters. They really should have just left it alone.
Though it was another big hit for Disney, meaning that we’re getting more live action versions of fairy tales immortalised by the studio’s animated movies, Maleficent really is a mess of a film that shows evidence of its extensive rewrites and reshoots and is a travesty of what I consider the greatest, or certainly most beautiful, of their cartoon classics [okay, I’d tie it with Fantasia, but that almost exists ‘outside’ most of the others]. It can’t decide whether to be a revisionist retelling of Sleeping Beauty, in the process destroying one of Disney’s greatest villains by turning her into a poor unfortunate soul who is just misunderstood [inspired, I suppose, by Frozen’s Elsa], or a straight remake which constantly asks for trouble by re-doing many of the original film’s scenes. Of course the special effects are decent, but there’s a lack of genuine wonder or even excitement. Walt would be turning in his grave.
I’ll admit, I didn’t hate I, Frankenstein, which at least moved like a bullet and had loads of frenetic action that you could actually see properly, but there’s no doubt that it’s a pretty wretched movie, so badly put together that it often seems like they shot the scenes and they were then strung together in random fashion, or that the film has been hacked down for the maximum number of showings per day, the latter something that seems to be happening more and more in these depressing days of what seems to be increasing ADD. Meanwhile a Frankenstein Monster who inspires neither fear nor pity just isn’t a Frankenstein Monster, while even this action lover got bored with the endless fighting because it was all the same. Some decent design work and the occasional good idea do hint that this was once a better movie, but I’m not entirely convinced.
6/UNDER THE SKIN
When you say you don’t like a film like Under The Skin, the tendency is for people to think that original, offbeat films are not for you because you don’t understand or appreciate them and that you’ll be better off watching dumb blockbusters. I don’t care, Under The Skin, despite its effectively queasy atmosphere and soundtrack, starts off interesting but soon becomes boringly tedious as it reveals itself to only have two or three good ideas and just repeats them. Scarlett Johansson has proved herself to be a solid actress in recent years, but here she just does that pouting coldness she almost always used to do throughout the whole movie, while the ‘real’ scenes featuring her and others seem clumsily inserted – in fact they are hugely jarring – so it so that it almost looks like we’re watching two different films. I don’t like the fact that I hugely disliked such an odd film, but it’s just a major artistic failure. Species is not just more entertaining but probably more intelligent.
Almost hot on the heels of I, Frankenstein we have Dracula Untold, sure proof that they seem to serious trouble making decent films about the classic horror monsters these days. Just as disjointed and seemingly chopped up as I, Frankenstein, Dracula Untold doesn’t even deliver much of the trashy entertainment value which can probably be provided by the Aaron Eckhart starrer if you’re in the right mood, and seems to start half-way through its story, which is yet another tale of a misunderstood person who isn’t really bad, though the whole thing seems to have been gutted to remove anything actually interesting, not even working as a person’s transformation into a monster – all the important scenes appear to be missing. Then again, this barely registers as a Dracula film at all, while Vlad The Impaler still needs a really good film to be made about them. This non-horror Universal Monsters Legacy series just needs to stop now.
Found Footage is everywhere these days, but it’s hard to do really well. This film doesn’t even try to do it properly, nor have faith in the format. Instead, it periodically forgets it’s supposed to be Found Footage and turns into a ‘normal’ film, proving that director Gregory Levasseur [who needs to go back to writing] doesn’t have a clue in how to tell his story, though this would be a pretty lame excuse for a horror movie even if it was consistently one style. For a start Levasseur seems to have mostly forgotten that horror films are meant to be scary, his film consisting of little more than mostly un-suspenseful wondering around in a pyramid and reams of exposition delivered by the characters [some of it twice] making it feel like we’re at school, until its main monster appears, which is impressive conceptually but not in terms of execution [2014 really has been the year of bad CGI]. I suppose the little dog-like creatures provide the odd good moment, but not enough to make me wish they’d eaten the filmmakers.
3/THE LEGEND OF HERCULES
In a way The Legend Of Hercules may be the most sheerly entertaining of the films on this article, which as I type almost makes me want to remove it from the list, though it could also be the worst, me being often lenient with a film which is awful but still fun, so I guess number three in the year’s top ten worst films is about right [actually my guilty pleasure of the year would be Three Days To Kill]. I was almost ready to hate The Legend Of Hercules because of the way it almost totally ignores the amazing Hercules myth in favour of a poor Gladiator knock-off laced with bits and pieces from most other recent sword and sandal pictures, but soon found myself laughing at some of the worst CGI I’ve ever seen at the cinema [people actually shimmer against some of the backgrounds], slow motion shots randomly plonked into every action scene every few seconds [was this really directed by Renny Harlin?], Kellan Lutz’s shoddy Russell Crowe impersonation, the list is endless. Like an idiot, I actually look forward to watching this movie again.
2/JACK RYAN:SHADOW RECRUIT
An odd choice for a worst ten films list some might say, especially when it’s number two on mine, and truth be told the first two thirds of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit are watchable, if extremely rushed and comprised largely of scenes pinched from other films, while I still can’t understand for the life of me why the incredibly uncharismatic Chris Pine is a movie star. But most of the final third of this [easily the worst Jack Ryan film, though the character isn’t really much like him at all] movie is quite possibly the worst example of shakycam [at least outside of Found Footage] I’ve ever seen, with something close to half an hour of the camera waving about utterly pointlessly because director Kenneth Branagh [how far has he fallen?] has fallen into the dumb mindset of all those filmmakers who thinks this odious technique makes action more real for viewers. How precisely does it make it more real? And what about the basic rule of any film/play/TV programme/whatever that you should actually see what is happening? And hopefully not want to vomit? This shit isn’t a film, it’s just an idiot shaking a camera about, giving the impression that they couldn’t afford a tripod and a travelling rail and just gave the camera to someone with epilepsy.
1/THE EXPENDABLES 3
Unlike 2013 where there were two films I utterly despised [You’re Next and Man Of Steel], 2014 didn’t produce anything quite as horrid as those two pieces of crap, and anything I hated quite so much. Looking at it objectively, none of the films on this year’s worst ten list are truly, unbearably awful. The Expendables 3 is very very poor, but I see far worse films most other years. Still, I keep asking myself how on earth it has come to this. Though looked down upon by many, the first two Expendables films hit the spot for this fan of 80’s action. I actually had The Expendables 2 in my Top Twenty films of 2012, which in retrospect was rather exaggerating its quality, but I doubt very much that I’ll change my mind about this pathetic third film, which even if it was good I would be prone to serious disliking for the way Sylvester Stallone [a guy I’ve been a fan of for decades] and company decided to ignore the real audience for an Expendables film and try to appeal to the teen crowd, which were hardly going to flock to a film populated by what to them are has-beens. Most of the said has-beens aren’t even in the film much, it spending far too much of its time focusing on some colourless younger folk.
Meanwhile Patrick Hughes’ staggeringly poor direction makes the action a nauseating fast-cut/shakycam mess [and this is the guy who’s remaking The Raid?], though he’s hamstrung throughout by the downright amateurish editing of Sean Albertson and Paul Harb, such as multiple quick cutaways, often at the end of a scene, to people that the viewer has no idea who they are and are of no importance, to the use of lengthy shots when there should be short shots, and vice versa. At one point we have a close-up of Sly’s face for thirty seconds, implying that this is a deep meaningful moment, one that he might say something important or even have a flashback, and then we cut to the next scene! Then there’s the atrocious CGI which often looks unfinished and aids the general impression that this is a really cheap production, and mediocre action which becomes genuinely feeble towards the end [a pathetic final fight which is over almost before it has began]. Thank God this flopped. Sly’s talking about another, but considering this was initially a great guilty pleasure franchise for me, I’m actually now hoping The Expendables 4 doesn’t happen. What a shame.