Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Movies of 2014, Volume VI

All things considered, 2014 was a very good year for movies. Even the movies in yesterday’s entry that disappointed me weren’t complete wastes of time. If you didn’t see at least one movie you liked last year, you just weren’t trying very hard.

But there are always a few stragglers that simply didn’t work. At all. Try as one might to avoid lousy movies, sometimes they’re simply unavoidable, like food poisoning or Ebola. With that, I give you the movies I’d prefer to forget, the worst films I saw in 2014.

This indie horror flick from director Zack Parker is actually an interesting case. It’s one of the few films where you can literally pinpoint the exact moment it goes off the rails. And it’s a real pity because up until that moment, this is a moody and intriguing thriller (although it opens with a particularly brutal act of violence that might have you switching it off long beforehand). Without giving too much away, the twist in this movie is spectacularly ill-conceived. The closest analogy I can think of would be if Marion Crane had overpowered Norman Bates in Psycho and the movie continued to be about her instead of the far more interesting Bates. This is a bizarrely self-sabotaging movie that fails to recognize the genuinely disturbing and compelling questions its first half raises.

I feel a little bit bad about including this YA sci-fi franchise kickstarter. I didn’t hate it but it had really no impact on my brain whatsoever. I’d essentially forgotten it existed while the closing credits played. I probably wouldn’t have watched it at all if it weren’t for the presence of Kate Winslet. Her appearances can lead me to make some regrettable movie-going decisions.

The Monuments Men
George Clooney is an excellent filmmaker. If you don’t believe me, just watch Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind and Good Night, And Good Luck. Don’t watch this. I’m baffled by what happened here. It’s a very interesting story packed with a stellar cast, including Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray and John Goodman. This should have been a home run. Instead, it’s pleasant at best and downright dull as dishwater at worst. This feels like it needed a little more time at the drawing board before the cameras rolled.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
I’ve never read a single Tom Clancy book but for whatever reason, I feel compelled to watch every Jack Ryan movie. This despite the fact that they’ve all struck me as pretty generic and forgettable. However, none of them have been quite as generic and forgettable as this attempt. Chris Pine fails to bring much spark to the role and Kenneth Branagh probably should have concentrated on one job instead of two. His Russian bad guy seems like he should be giving orders to Boris and Natasha.

I think Darren Aronofsky is a terrific filmmaker and I’ve genuinely enjoyed most of his work to date. But I’m really confused who the audience for this movie is supposed to be. It’s ambiguously religious (or, if you prefer, spiritual), so it’s not likely to please the church-and-temple crowd. But it’s a reasonably faithful retelling of one of the most famous stories in the Bible, so agnostics and atheists probably won’t have much use for it, either. It’s certainly an ambitious movie but ultimately it felt like those ambitions defeated Aronofsky and his cast.

3 Days To Kill
And then there’s this. Kevin Costner goes to France to team up with co-writer Luc Besson and director McG in a bid for a piece of that Liam Neeson aging action hero pie. Costner is diagnosed with terminal cancer, retires from the CIA and attempts to reconnect with his estranged wife and daughter. Until sultry and miscast Amber Heard shows up to lure him back into the spy game with the promise of an experimental miracle drug if he helps her take down some bad guys. This isn’t so much an action movie as it is a jigsaw puzzle that’s been tossed into the air and haphazardly assembled by an indifferent child in a hurry. As usual, I had some trouble figuring out the exact placement of some of the movies on these lists. But there was never any question what movie was going to be dead last. If there was a worse movie than 3 Days To Kill released in 2014, I pray to all the major and minor deities that I never see it.

That’ll finally do it for 2014. I’ll be back again soon to talk about…I dunno, other stuff. This blog is still a bit of a blank slate, so it’ll be fun figuring out what to use it for. I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

1 comment:

  1. I might not agree with your placement for "3 Days to Kill", or your assessment it was the worst film of 2014, but I will say this: I saw it, and had no recollection of the plot your described, lol. Wow.