10. Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys
As much as I love musicals, so many of them just fall flat and feel dead on arrival. While there certainly was another broadway adaptation that was more bafflingly bad this year, Jersey Boys fails on account of it’s utter lack of anything interesting going on. It’s a standard biopic through and through, and not only have we seen that hundreds of times by this point, but the characters here are deeply unlikeable and hard to deal with for the movie’s two hour plus running time. Clint Eastwood just seems completely bored with this material, adding in none of his usual understated authenticity to the proceedings, while also not making it big or fun in any way. Hopefully American Sniper will be more in his wheelhouse.
9. George Clooney’s The Monuments Men
Honestly, I’m fairly amazed that this one turned out as bad as it did when you have such a fantastic cast, and a director who has proved a couple times that he can deliver solid material. Alas, this is far from said solid material, with these bored looking actors drudging through an overtly old fashioned World War Two story about uncovering and preserving ancient art before the Nazis get it. It just gets nothing right, never being funny enough to be a light romp, or dark enough to actually feel like these guys are in any real danger. It’s watching a bunch of celebrities play dress up after watching some war footage in Clooney’s archives, and I expected more from him.
8. Jason Reitman’s Men Women and Children
Men Women and Children is a movie that thinks it knows a whole lot about where our culture is headed as a result of the internet. However, in an attempt to capture all points of view, it ends up stereotyping most of it’s characters to a borderline cartoonish level, the best example being Jennifer Garner’s Patricia. This woman can’t simply be a little protective and worried about her daughters internet activities like a normal person, but she has to track her phone, computer, and probably the bed she sleeps in just so she won’t talk to the evil Nazis that live in the computer. It’s a movie with the subtlety of an after school special, with a cast of wonderful actors trapped inside these thin characters that have none of the bite of Reitman’s early work.
7. Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Thus far, Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy has been decent at best, and an annoyance at worst, but he really outdid himself with this third and thankfully final installment. Taking a segment of the book that was essentially one sentence that read something like “and then there was a battle” and expanding that to an over two hour movie, Jackson does absolutely nothing to justify this being it’s own movie. The characters are stiffer than ever before, the visuals are garbage, and it goes on for about an hour of having the same conversation before this titular battle even starts. Speaking of that battle, even that dosen’t deliver, as a bunch of CGI runs and jumps at each other for an ungodly amount of time, lacking none of the practicality and weight of the original Lord of the Rings trilogy, which all three of these movies have disgraced.
6. Jake Kasdan’s Sex Tape
Supposedly this movie is a comedy, but I couldn’t tell you that from the finished product. Sex Tape is so devoid of laughs that it in tern becomes laughable, as Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel both fumble around struggling to not only deliver comedy, but to in certain moments even deliver lines in basic english. Seriously, even the most basic scenes here are so badly directed that they somehow make a movie about two people trying to hide their sex tape seem like a fifth grade play. It’s disappointing too, because Kasdan’s previous film, Bad Teacher, proved that he is capable of far better.
5. William Eubank’s The Signal
The Sundance Film Festival, while certainly a launching pad for some great films (like Whiplash), is also a place for some empty hype, getting some turkeys out into the world too. This is a sci fi movie so cheap that any big ideas it does have are marred by subpar special effects and action sequences that need to be shown in borderline still frames to save money, and so unoriginal that despite it’s mysterious structure, I was able to predict from the very beginning. Also, there are some moments of offensively stupid staging here, where the goons of this mysterious organization captures three teenagers for an unknown reason make the Stormtroopers look competent. A complete waste of time that will make anyone who watches it very agitated indeed.
4. Jason Reitman’s Labor Day
I’m going to bend the rules just a little here, because although this was released in a couple theaters in 2013 for Oscar consideration, the sheer fact that the filmmakers thought this dreck had any chance at a nomination is borderline offensive. Look, I like Jason Reitman, and I hope he gets his mojo back one day, but Labor Day somehow manages to be even worse than Men Women and Children. It’s a silly, somewhat disturbing premise to begin with, with a convict forcing a family to let him stay with them, and then ultimately seducing the mother, with Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet doing absolutely nothing to sell it. It’s a fantasy for that disgusting subculture of people who fall in love with convicts behind bars, essentially using “he can bake a mean pie” as an excuse for these people to destroy their entire lives. It’s sappy, stupidly written, and as far as I’m concerned revokes and credence Reitman had built up before.
3. Rob Marshall’s Into The Woods
I really mean it when I say that I don’t like bashing on musicals. They’re a classic genre and when someone makes a good one, it’s normally one of the best of that year. However, when someone makes an embarrassment like what Rob Marshall made here, they’re physically painful to sit through. Not only are the numbers here sung without any personality, and performed with little to no visual invention, but the rest of the story is so flat that the only woods you’ll enter here are the ones in your dreams. It’s a real shame too, as many people seem to love this show, and from what I’ve gathered about it, it sounds a great deal better than what we got here. Perhaps some things should just stay on the stage.
2. Luc Besson’s Lucy
Now here is a movie so bafflingly bad that it’s amazing that it was even released. A movie directed so kinetically that it makes it’s potentially cool premise goofy and over the top, while still somehow balancing being stilted and flat. Scarlett Johansson, while clearly more than capable of leading an action flick, does not get a chance to showcase that here, stuck with an extremely stiff character that never for a moment makes us want to root for her, while Morgan Freeman spends a solid portion of the film giving a lecture about fake science while looking like he’d rather be anywhere else (like at the bank cashing the check for instance). It’s as blisteringly terrible a film as I’ve seen in about half a decade, and to this day the only F rating I’ve ever given on this site.
1. Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings
While Lucy might be a worse movie overall, at the very least it was a hilarious viewing experience that I ultimately would not take back. Meanwhile, Exodus: Gods and Kings is not only up there with the very worst mega budget studio films I’ve ever seen, it’s also laboriously boring. Although all of the actors here are hugely talented, they’re grossly miscast and forced to work with god-awful dialogue that sounds like it was written for a TV movie from the seventies. When even Christian Bale feels lost, that should be a sign that production should just shut down altogether. Beyond that, the movie dosen’t even deliver on a spectacle level, with terrible CGI effects and lifeless action sequences that could have been in any other sword and sandal epic (and a couple that already are in The Ten Commandments). Hopefully if there is a God, he’ll have more sense than to allow more movies this bad to come out and make his work look silly.