The 10 Worst Movies of 2014

August 24, 2015 in Best Of, Movie Reviews, Reviews

Here we go, my worst 10 films of 2014. I saw a lot of terrible movies, but none worse than these 10.

As with previous years, this list is based on my ratings at the time of review, and I made it extra easy for myself this year because there are exactly 10 films I rated 1.5 stars or below.

I still had some difficult decisions to make, however, as movies 8-10 on this list all had the same rating. It does mean though that the top 2 were clearly head and shoulders above (or should I say below) the rest.

Unfortunately, that means some truly terrible movies missed the cut. These dishonourable mentions include Scarlett Johansson’s Lucy, Nicholas Sparks’ The Best of Me, and Samuel L Jackson’s Reasonable Doubt.

10. Sniper: Legacy

I need the money

I need the money

I had a long hard think about placing this film, an obvious B-grade, straight-to-DVD abomination, higher on the list. Strictly speaking it is probably worse than some of the other films ranked above it, but the difference is that no one expected Sniper: Legacy to be anything but a low-budget cash grab milking the legacy (pun intended) of the original film released 21 years ago. Its shittiness is almost anticipated, so I can’t claim an ambush. I totally deserve this one.

9. Winter’s Tale

Winters-Tale1

Colin Farrell’s hair sums up this movie quite well

On paper, Winter’s Tale should have been pretty good, a magical fantasy romance fable with big stars (Colin Farrell, Russell Crowe, Will Smith). Sadly, all it did was make me cringe and bored. Non-sensical, contrived, manipulative and just plain silly at times, it’s the perfect example of what works on the page won’t necessarily work on the screen.

8. The Other Woman

Yes, it's as stupid as it looks

Yes, it’s as stupid as it looks

As annoying as the self-righteous women are in this film, it’s worst sin is still the most serious one when it comes to comedies: a dearth of laughs. You would think a movie that’s supposed to about female empowerment would have some positives, but the fact that it’s branded as mysognistic shows how far off the mark it was.

7. Ouija

Ouija_review

All signs point to “crap”

I think Oujia boards are really scary and I knew it was only a matter of time before a horror film based on this theme is made, but Oujia turned about as cliched and unimaginative as it could have been. The characters don’t act remotely like how normal human beings would act. The dialogue is cringeworthy and full of obvious exposition. Silly, non-sensical and employing only the most typical scare tactics, this is a disappointment that’s even more disappointing than usual.

6. Transformers: Age of Extinction

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Oh god…

Let’s face it, no “worst of” list is complete without an entry from Michael Bay. Strictly speaking, Transformers 4 is not the worst of the franchise, but the accumulated annoyance from the same old loud noises, boring characters and formulaic execution makes it difficult to bear for 90 minutes, let alone an inexcusable 165. Additional demerit points for all the awkward “Chinese elements” they forced into the film.

5. Walk of Shame

It is indeed a shame

Don’t shoot me for making this movie

It’s hard to hate a film when it’s so “meh.” And that’s what Walk of Shame is, an unfunny, boiler-plate screwball comedy that shits all over the lovely and talented Elizabeth Banks. I didn’t find it as sexist or racist as lot of other offended viewers and critics, though when a movie is so lacking in wit and pathetic perhaps a bit of controversy would have at least stirred up some interest.

4. I, Frankenstein

Aaron Eckhart worked out for this?

I got ripped for this shit?

I knew it wasn’t going to be great, but I, Frankenstein crashed below the low expectations I already had and was a complete waste of the talents of Aaron Eckhart and his impressive workout regime. Incredibly silly even by graphic novel standards, the film takes Mary Shelley’s source material as fact and throws in a bunch of gargoyles, demons and angels into a war with poor fight sequences shocking and shockingly bad CGI effects. The 2014 “blockbuster” that will be remembered for all the wrong reasons if it hasn’t been erased from memories already.

3. When the Game Stands Tall

What would Jesus do?

What would Jesus do?

Now we get to the three films of 2014 I loathed for reasons that are beyond objective and even generally subjective. First up, When the Game Stands Tall — relatively recently watched and still fresh in my mind– an infuriating corny and melodramatic film with sickening sports cliches, unbelievable characters and unashamedly overpowering religious themes. Laughably horrible trash masquerading as a triumphant true story.

2. Extraterrestrial

I'd rather be probed than sit through this shit again

I’d rather be probed than sit through this shit again

I love aliens and I love alien conspiracy movies. Extraterrestrial has turned all that on its head. Apart from being in the dreaded found footage format, this monster slasher also takes home the award for least frightening horror movie of the year, most annoying characters of the year and worst ensemble acting of the year notwithstanding the efforts of Shawshank’s Gil Bellows to bring up the average a little bit. This is so bad that it even destroys the possibility of a so-bad-it’s-good film.

1. Left Behind

Nicholas Cage. 'Nuff said

Nicholas Cage. ‘Nuff said

Of all the horrible 2014 movies I’ve seen, one film dominates all others — and honestly, it’s not even close. And you know that this film is entering a different stratosphere when I proclaim that it could very well be Nicolas Cage’s worst film ever. It’s just one of those surreal experiences where you have to pinch yourself to make sure it’s not a nightmare. It’s actually easier to conceive a world in which Christians are beamed into heaven while everyone else is left behind to suffer Hell on Earth than fathom how a film this shit could have ever been made.

So there you go, my worst 10 movies of 2014. Next up, the 10 best.

‘The Last of Us’ Diary: Epilogue — Left Behind

June 5, 2015 in Game Reviews, Reviews

left_behind

Those who have followed my series of posts on The Last of Us know I think it’s the greatest video game of all time. And so it is fitting that I made Left Behind, the independent add-on to the main game, my first official DLC purchase.

It cost only about US$10 and offers around 2-3 hours of gameplay, which sounds about right, but more importantly, Left Behind provides added depth and welcome insight for fans of The Last of Us. Relatively speaking, it doesn’t offer nearly as much action as the main game — despite an epic final battle — though the DLC makes up for it in different ways, such as giving players more background into Ellie’s character and answers the question of what happened immediately after Joel collapsed from the injury sustained at the university (this part is skipped in the main game).

Before I say anything about the game, can I just point out that it sucks having to wait all that time to actually download the DLC and to install it. I know it’s arguably more convenient than going out and buying a hard copy version in a store, but it’s a real ball-busting feeling when you’re all hyped up to play the game ASAP and suddenly realise that you have to spend four hours to download it. It sucks even more when after that when you see that you have to wait another couple of hours for it to install before you can get down with it. But I digress.

Anyway, the first thing to say about Left Behind (not to be confused with that shithouse Nicholas Cage movie that made me wish the world would end) is that it is a standalone DLC that does not require you to have The Last of Us. Having said that, it’s not a download I would recommend for anyone wanting to use it as a “test drive” to see if they would want to purchase the full game. This is one for the fans, people who can’t get enough of The Last of Us and its characters.

It's such a shame that Left Behind shares the same name as this trash. Look at that face for God's sake.

It’s such a shame Left Behind shares the same name as this garbage. Look at that face for God’s sake.

It’s good to see the makers of Left Behind go for something different as opposed to just an extension of the main game. The control mechanisms are exactly the same and the enemies are the same, but the experience is a different one. It’s deeper, more contemplative; it’s driven more by character development than zombie action.

Left Behind is split between two subplots from The Last of Us. Half of it takes place between Joel’s injury at the school and the part of The Last of Us where you get to control Ellie for the first time. It’s basically about finding much-needed emergency medical supplies to save a mortally wounded Joel. It’s the half of the DLC that offers the action, as Ellie needs to fend off both the Infected and Hunters around an old shopping mall in a race against time.

Heli

Get to the choppa!

The other half of the DLC takes place before Ellie and Joel meets, and introduces the friend she mentions in The Last of Us, Riley (motion captured and voiced by Yaani King). The Ellie here has spent her entire life in a military boarding school, so she’s more innocent and naive about the outside world. This half of the game is almost all exploration, also in another dilapidated mall, and is mainly about having fun and being a kid, like photo booths, riding carousels, playing arcade games and engaging in water gun fights. It also introduces options for the first time as Ellie is allowed to choose certain courses of action from a list of alternatives.

Carousel

Why don’t we just ride real horses?

Some players might find this boring, but fans who fell in love with The Last of Us for its characters and engrossing storytelling should enjoy the experience. The relationship between Ellie and Riley is really sweet, and there’s a surprise at the end that has gotten a lot of tongues wagging. No big deal in my personal opinion and I don’t think it’s necessary to read too much into what was clearly just a nice moment.

selfie booth

Head on a platter

Left Behind offers fans another taste of The Last of Us, though 2-3 hours of gameplay just doesn’t feel sufficient to satisfy the appetite. That said, we should simply be appreciative that Naughty Dog gave us a DLC at all, and one that not only lives up to the standard of the main game but also adds welcome depth to the overall narrative. It also has a pretty epic final battle involving both zombie and human enemies that’s arguably better than the one in the main game. Highly recommended.

10/10

Movie Review: Left Behind (2014)

November 17, 2014 in Movie Reviews, Reviews

large_left_behind

Maybe the end of the world really is upon us. Because there is no other explanation for how a film like Left Behind not just got made, but actually received a cinematic release. The only thing that made sense about the film is that it stars Nicholas “I’ll do anything” Cage.

Left Behind is like that Damon Lindelof TV show The Leftover, except it is directed by a career stuntman who doubled for Harrison Ford in the Indiana Jones movies. 

The story goes like this: one day, all of a sudden, millions of people around the world disappear into thin air. Literally. All that’s left are their clothes and whatever’s on them. There’s an explanation for this, or at least a theory of the explanation, and it’s Biblical. Little did I know, Left Behind is a Christian movie about the end of the world, supposedly based on some obscure and utterly insane reading of the Bible. Even most Christians would agree that it is complete BS.

But that’s not the problem. There is nothing wrong with the type of movie it is or the premise per se — it’s the horrendous execution that makes Left Behind god-awful in any religion.

Although it’s about the end of the world, the movie centers on what happens on a flight from New York to London when the “disappearances” take place. Nicholas Cage plays a philandering pilot who dodges the birthday of his visiting daughter (Cassi Thomson) and spending time with his uber-religious wife (Lea Thompson) and young son so he could get naughty with a stewardess (Australia’s own Nicky Whelan). Also on the flight is a famous investigative reporter (Chad Michael Murray), who for some reason tried to hit on Cage’s daughter just before take-off. Also on the plane are — and I am not kidding here — a kind Muslim, a mean midget, and American Idol winner Jordin Sparks. None of them disappear, of course, because they’re not true believers (or at least in the right god).

Even putting all the sanctimonious religious stuff aside, Left Behind is still an abomination. The script feels like it’s written by aliens because none of the dialogue or reactions even resemble what a normal human would say or do. Just say your little brother disappears into thin air right in front of your eyes. All that’s left of him is his clothes. And you can see that the same thing has happened to a lot of people around you. So what’s the logical thing to do? Yes, that’s right: go to the hospital to look for him! I mean, just in case he miraculously slipped out of his clothes without you noticing and decided to go there for some reason. And that’s actually one of the more reasonable things that happens in the movie.

The characters are horrible. They’re either disgustingly unlikable or they’re so noble it’s cringeworthy. And they’re played by actors — famous or otherwise — giving the most atrocious performances of their lives. I understand the budget was only US$16 million, but the inside of the plane looked like it was made in someone’s living room. The special effects looked like they were taken from the cut scenes of a Playstation 1 game. And the ending — my god, the ending. Apparently there are more books in the series, but it’s obvious there aren’t going to be more movies, so I have no idea why it ended the way it did. Everything about it was just an unfathomable mess.

This is the kind of movie that gives religion a bad name. It’s the kind of movie that gives bad movies a bad name. Have you ever had a dream where everyone is acting all weird and nothing makes sense? Left Behind is that dream, but worse. It’s a goddamn nightmare.

0.5 stars out of 5