We’re winding down Best Of 2014 Week here at ScreenCrush with today’s lists of the best TV shows and movie posters (to go along with our already completed lists of the best movies and trailers). But in this time of celebration, let’s not lose sight of what’s really important: Making jokes about terrible movies. 2014 was jammed with exceptional films, but those instant classics were surrounded by (and often crowded-out of multiplexes by) plenty of stinkers as well. As we bid a fond farewell to the year in movies, ScreenCrush Editor-In-Chief Mike Sampson and Managing Editor Matt Singer (writing in the third person) decided to take one final look back at the flops that nearly destroyed us. But like that old expression says: That which does not kill us makes us write strongly-worded listicles.
In alphabetical order (because these were all terrible), the worst movies of 2014 are:
‘Drive Hard’Directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith
If you’re going to invoke ‘Die Hard’ in your title, you better be in the same ballpark as ‘Die Hard.’ ‘Drive Hard’ isn’t even in the same league. This surprisingly slow-moving chase movie stars Thomas Jane as a hapless race-car driver turned driving instructor who is taken hostage by a bank robber (John Cusack, wearing a hat and dark sunglasses through the entire movie in what appears to be a futile attempt to avoid being recognized) and forced to serve as his getaway driver. If the movie was one big chase scene it might work; if Jane and Cusack looked like they were even the slightest bit happy to be here it might also work. But it isn’t, and they don’t, so it doesn’t. I did like the one scene where an foul-mouthed old lady gets into a fistfight with Thomas Jane. That was kind of funny. —Matt
‘Drive Hard’ is available to stream on Netflix, or to rent on Amazon and iTunes. Do not watch it.
Directed by Michael Tiddes
Spoofs used to poke fun at bad movies, but at some point along the way that dynamic inverted. Now the parodies are terrible and they mock good movies, which is generally not the smartest way to approach comedy. Of course, to make fun of something you also need jokes—and those are in decidedly short supply in ‘A Haunted House 2.’ Most of the movie is Marlon Wayans drenched in flop sweat and flailing for laughs in a bunch of improvised physical comedy riffs. He has sex with a creepy doll for five minutes, then has sex with his girlfriend for five minutes, then has sex with the creepy doll again for five more minutes, then finally wraps things up by having sex with himself. A lot of this is just generic crude stupidity (not even specific, high-quality crude stupidity!) and the more pointed jabs at solid horror films like ‘The Conjuring’ and ‘Sinister’ only serve to remind you of all the worthwhile stuff you could be watching instead of wasting your time on this crappy sequel. —Matt
‘A Haunted House 2’ is available to stream on Netflix, or to rent on Amazon or iTunes. Caveat emptor.
Directed by Stuart Beattie
Less a ‘Frankenstein’ reboot than an ‘Underworld’ remake with a vaguely Frankenstein-y monster in the middle of it, ‘I, Frankenstein’ follows Aaron Eckhart’s “Adam” (a name given to him randomly by one character which he just accepts because sure, why not) as he stumbles into the middle of an eternal struggle between heavenly gargoyles and hellish demons. Director Stuart Beattie spends about 20 minutes establishing a dense, mostly incomprehensible mythology and then the next hour ignoring said dense, incomprehensible mythology—one minute the characters are all like “Ours is a war that must be fought in secret!” and the next gargoyles and demons are slaying each other (complete with towering columns of angelic light and plumes of fire and brimstone) in full view of an entire city. Eckhart does what he can, and he looks quite fetching in his (I,) Frankenstein hoodie, but Lawrence Olivier couldn’t have saved dialogue like “Naberius has found a way to summon every demon you’ve ever descended ... Possession! In bodies that have no souls!” I, absolutely hated it. —Matt
‘I, Frankstenstein’ is currently available to purchase on Amazon and iTunes, but we strongly urge you not to buy it.
‘The Legend of Hercules’Directed by Renny Harlin
Sentient Bowflex commercial Kellan Lutz stars in this hideous mythological adventure ripped off from ‘Gladiator’ and the ‘God of War’ video-game series. (First, Lutz’s Hercules is betrayed by an evil stepfather, then he defeats his enemies with big giant chains he waves around like Kratos.) When I say hideous, I mean that in the most literal way possible: ‘The Legend of Hercules’ is one of the ugliest movies of the last five years, with some of the cheapest-looking CGI of any theatrical wide release in history. Almost none of the reported $70 million budget made it onto the screen—where the hell did all that money go?!? If you told me this was all some kind of elaborate Uwe Boll-style German tax shelter, I would believe you. —Matt
The Legend of Hercules’ is available for purchase on Amazon or iTunes. Watch the Dwayne Johnson ‘Hercules’ instead—or really anything else.
An important part of every comedy is actually being funny. By that definition, Seth MacFarlane’s ‘A Million Ways to Die in the West’ is as much a sci-fi adventure film as it is a comedy. It’s not just that this movie isn’t funny, it’s actively unfunny. Much of that blame falls on MacFarlane himself, who has proved himself a talented comedy writer on ‘Ted’ and ‘Family Guy,’ but here delivers a performance as wooden as a frontier fence post. —Mike
‘A Million Ways to Die in the West’ is now available on home video. Or, save your money and invest in a Roth IRA. After five years of tax-free growth, you can make penalty-free withdrawals for college—or get a jump on retirement.
Maybe about eight years ago, we would’ve been mildly interested in a ‘Sin City’ sequel. Now? We’ve completely lost interest. To make matters worse, co-directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller bring almost nothing new to this latest installment. It’s such lazy filmmaking that they leave their actors (including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who’s trying his best) completely out to dry. ‘A Dame to Kill For’ is not necessarily a terrible movie, just a useless one and a complete waste of your time. It sure doesn’t live up to that title, either. —Mike
‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’ is available for rental or purchase on Amazon and iTunes. You’re not actually thinking about buying this, are you?
Directed by Jonathan Liebesman
Is it cheating to include ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’—a movie made for (and by?) six-year-olds—on this list? Not in a year when kids movies like ‘The LEGO Movie’ and ‘Boxtrolls’ delivered solid entertainment for audiences of all ages. It’s difficult to decide what was worse: the hideous creature design? The eschewing of classic ‘Ninja Turtle’ canon? The shoddy directing? Oh, I’m sorry; the correct answer was the film’s casual misogyny, which constantly objectified the one female character (Megan Fox’s April) with disturbing erection analogies (“She’s so hot I can feel my shell tightening!”) and endless, leering shots of her body. Kids shouldn’t have to watch this nonsense, and neither should you. —Mike
‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ is is currently available to purchase on Amazon and iTunes. Maybe you should just go outside and take a walk, though.
Directed by Wally Pfister
‘Transcendence’ is one of those classic bad Hollywood movies where a bunch of geniuses behave like drooling morons. A group of anti-technology terrorists poison Johnny Depp’s computer scientist, so his dopey, lovesick scientist wife (poor Rebecca Hall) uploads his consciousness into a “quantum” supercomputer—and then spends the next hour totally blind to the fact that her new Depputer is 100 percent evil. (“What’s that, spooky computer that looks like my dead husband? You want me to connect you to the Internet so that you can take over the entire banking system and turn humans into your robot slaves? Okie dokey!”) If these characters are so smart, why are they acting like idiots? The flashback structure spoils the ending, and the ending makes no sense. On Twitter, a colleague recently described ‘Transcendence’ as “nightmare garbage.” Nightmares and garbage should be insulted by the comparison. —Matt
‘Transcendence’ is available to rent on Amazon and iTunes, but why would you do that to yourself? C’mon; you’re better than this.
Here’s what is so remarkable about ‘Tusk’—it’s the worst Johnny Depp movie of the year. That alone is an incredible achievement. (See above.) ‘Tusk’ should’ve marked a new era in director Kevin Smith’s career. But while the film does look better than anything he’s done before, ‘Tusk’ still never brings together any of Smith’s disconnected ideas. ‘Tusk’ is trying to be funny and scary and slapstick and f---ed up, and it winds up being none of those things. As a horror-comedy about a dude who turns another dude into a walrus-man using brutal home surgery, it sounds like the kind of half-baked idea a stoned Smith would cook up on his podcast. Oh wait, it is an idea a stoned Smith cooked up on his podcast. —Mike
‘Tusk’ is available on home video on December 31. Consider this a warning.
For years, people called Mark Helprin’s beloved 1983 fantasy novel “unfilmable.” Apparently, they were correct. Oscar-winning (and two-time Razzie-nominated) screenwriter Akiva Goldsman gave it his best shot, but he was totally overwhelmed by his source material, which follows a thief (Colin Farrell, bad) on the run from a demonic crime lord (Russell Crowe, even worse) in the employ of Satan himself (Will Smith, so-terrible-he’s-kind-of-amazing). The scenes between Crowe and Smith crackle with what-the-eff-were-they-thinking? energy; the rest is a turgid mess of maudlin sentimentality and hokey magical realism. ‘Winter’s Tale’ is an archetypal bad passion project: wildly ambitious, serious to a fault, and totally misguided. —Matt
‘Winter’s Tale’ is available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes. Also, we legitimately cannot believe you’re still looking to see where these movies are available. Please stop.