Saturday, 31 January 2015

The Wedding Ringer (2015) - Movie Review

Kevin Hart is one of those comedic actors that I just don’t get the appeal of. He always felt like Chris Tucker: The Next Generation, except at least he was in the outstanding Silver Linings Playbook where he was legitimately funny. Hart, on the other hand? Any time I see him in movies, like in Scary Movie 3 and 4 as well as last year’s abysmal Ride Along, he comes across as either annoying without being funny or just being there without standing out; he hasn’t had his Silver Linings role yet. I put off seeing this film last week when it first came out and that was purely because Kevin Hart was in it. But, I have softened a bit concerning other comedic actors like Melissa McCarthy after seeing more of their work, and hell, One Direction seem to get more likeable the more films I see them in. Let’s see if the same happens here.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

The Quarantine Hauntings (2015) - Movie Review

Even with a couple of interactive movie screenings under my belt, this ranks up there as one of the most surreal cinema experiences I’ve had yet even if it wasn’t intentional. Given how this is a film based around a local legend, centred on one of the more popular haunted locations in Australia, I knew that this was going to be a true-blue local production. What I didn’t know was that some of the actors, as well as both of the film’s directors, would be in the audience for the screening. Watching the film with my never-resting cynical eye and then shaking the hands of the directors as I leave the cinema made this a weird sit, to say the least. But was it a good sit?

Monday, 26 January 2015

Paper Planes (2015) - Movie Review

While the rest of Australia was busy celebrating how much this great country has developed from being “just bush” (Dammit, Abbott!), I was doing what I find myself on pretty much every major holiday: Watching a movie at my local cinema. However, it seems that my half-baked attempt at scheduling my movies for the week has given birth to a rather convenient coincidence. I originally planned on going out to see a Naruto film at the cinemas, but then I realized that I knew even less about Naruto than I did about DBZ when I reviewed that movie and since it was called “The Last”, chances are I would be more than a bit lost. As such, I instead went with today’s film which is an Australian production. This will probably be the only occasion where one of my reviews will be anywhere near the neighbourhood of timely, so let’s make the most of it.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

American Sniper (2015) - Movie Review

I always feel good when I end up reviewing a film that involves a certain degree of controversy; it almost guarantees that I’ll piss someone off. Okay, that might be a little too cynical (even for me) but weighing in on films like this is still interesting in seeing how people will end up reacting. However, this is different to when I went after God’s Not Dead and for a couple of reasons. For one, I don’t have as strong a stance on the subject matter in question so I am far less likely to get as heated when talking about it, so hopefully I won’t be going on any massive rants here like I did in that review. That might end up making this less entertaining to read, but it’s not like that’s stopped me any other time I’ve written something on here.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Still Alice (2015) - Movie Review

In the world of cinema, there are a number of things that have become acceptable targets for ridicule by pretty much everyone: Battlefield Earth, Plan 9 From Outer Space and The Room are all great examples of this. One such thing that has its hunting season sign up all year round is anything connected with the now-dying phenomenon of Twilight, whether it’s the films themselves, the actors who starred in them or the people who are responsible for them. It may have grown tired, given how readily the world rightfully rained down on the series for years on end, but the after-effects still linger to this day. With the female lead from Twilight, Kristen Stewart, in today’s film, I find it hard to avoid talking about the connection, especially when it feels like the film itself is daring me to do so. After the jump, I’ll explain why.

Wild (2015) - Movie Review

Alexander And The Horribly Long Title may have shown a weak justification for why I wanted to see a movie, but I think this makes a new bar to reach. I thought that, after I started taking real notice of the people behind films, this kind of thing would be behind me but apparently not. I wasn’t anxious to see this because of director Jean-Marc Vallée, who directed last year’s excellent Dallas Buyers Club. Nor was I excited about this because of writer Nick Hornby, who is the lyricist on Ben Folds’ Lonely Avenue, one of my favourite albums. Instead, it was because the Beck song featured in the film’s trailer was stuck in my head for several days prior to eventually seeing the film. So, with Turn Away still blaring inside my head, time to dig into today's film in my usual scatterbrained fashion.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Unbroken (2015) - Movie Review

As Oscar season comes along in Australia, we of course have a period drama set in World War II. That's not to say that that automatically means it'll be bad; just that I have grown savvy enough in my short foray into film criticism to know that war stories make for great Oscar bait. With Angelina Jolie at the helm as director, a fact that blindsided me so much that I didn't even find out until recently that this isn't her directorial debut, and the Coen brothers as co-writers on the script, this film at least has some talent at its core. But how does it fare against its usually lofty competition?

Monday, 19 January 2015

Birdman (2015) - Movie Review

We all have moments in our lives when we doubt ourselves. Whether it's out of fear of what may result of our actions or just as a backlash from what others expect from us, no-one can be entirely sure that they are doing the right thing. This way of thinking gets even more muddled when it delves into the creative world, where the entire reason for doing anything is out of a need for an outlet for creativity but still being required to adhere to what the higher-ups ask of you. Today's film tells the story of one man who tries to make something out of his creative endeavours while still fighting with his environment, his peers and himself.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Taken 3 (2015) - Movie Review

Even in today’s cinematic day and age, the threequel still presents a challenge both for creators and audiences. In order to keep audiences invested enough to stick it out for a third film based in the same universe, the creators need to create a story that is worthy of being continued for that long for whatever reason. Whether it’s pre-conceived to be a trilogy, like Star Wars or Peter Jackson’s Tolkien adaptations, or it adds on films based on public or studio demand, like The Matrix or Pirates Of The Caribbean, there needs to be that factor that brings people back into theatres. With Taken still well and truly in the current cultural mindset, with it being attached in one way or another to everything Liam Neeson stars in (even prior to Taken retroactively), it does make some sense that this would be chosen for a third installment. Time to see how this supposed final film closes out the series.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Taken 2 (2012) - Movie Review

With the release of the third film in the Taken series now out, I find myself in a similar position to when Mockingjay came out late last year and needing to catch up a bit. Having not seen the first Taken film in several years, I went back and revisited that one first and… have to admit, it’s a lot better than I remember it being. Maybe it’s with the benefit of hindsight, but re-watching it definitely gave the impression that this was a film that warranted the success it had with Liam Neeson giving something of a career rejuvenating performance as the lead. However, given the severe case of sequelitis Hollywood suffers from, something has become very clear: A film being good on its own is by no means a guarantee that whatever follow-ups said film gets will be good. Sure, some films will be just as good as the original and sometimes may even surpass the original (Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes and How To Train Your Dragon 2 from last year were great examples of this), but it sadly isn’t always the case.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Dumb And Dumber To (2015) - Movie Review

There are so many rules, regulations and concessions surrounding sequels to Jim Carrey movies that the Sequels Rulebook has an entire chapter dedicated to them alone. You make a sequel with Jim Carrey in it? You get Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls.  You make a sequel without Jim Carrey in it? You get Evan Almighty. You make a sequel without Jim Carrey in it several years after the fact? You get Son Of The Mask. You make a sequel with Jim Carrey when he wasn’t in the original? You get Kick-Ass 2. The range and scale of quality of these films is staggering, which makes today’s film something of an oddity. It’s a sequel made several years after the fact that does star Jim Carrey, which is interesting given his previous stance on sequels that don’t involve Ace Ventura (and even then, he was spared the horrors of being in Ace Ventura Jr.), and it also has the Farrelly brothers coming back to write and direct. How does it turn out? Time to find out in my first review of 2015: This is Dumb & Dumber To.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Pompeii (2014) - Movie Review

Way back when, before such stories became cheaper than air with how prevalent they were, there used to be a certain artistic merit to the idea of romance in the face of disaster. Of course, get enough filmmakers repeating the same idea over and over again, or worse making fun of said idea over and over again, and almost anything can become stale. The biggest contributor to this would probably be James Cameron’s Titanic, whose precise formula for such romances has become a blueprint for many other filmmakers both in and out of the disaster film genre. Today’s film is very much cut from that same cloth.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Top 20 Best Films Of 2014

Upon reflection, 2014 was a pretty good year for cinema just going by what I’ve seen: While my worst of list had only a few truly bad films that just missed the cut, there were quite a few films that were more than worthy of being on this list but I thought 20 would be more than enough. Of course, there are also a couple of honourable mentions that were only released on DVD over here and as such are unsuitable for this list: Oculus, a film I gave a very high recommendation; and Don Jon, a phenomenally good film that I’m very disappointed didn’t get released theatrically over here… but then again, given the use of actual porn in it and our government’s surprisingly weak constitution, it isn’t surprising.

And now, without further ado, the cream of the year’s crop: My top 20 favourite theatrical films of 2014:

#20: The Boxtrolls

While undoubtedly the lesser of Laika’s filmography so far, that just goes to show how great said filmography is because this film is still an incredible watch. The writing shows that kind of challenging yet welcoming tone that family films should have, the voice cast do wonders with the witty script they’re given here, the animation is still Laika-standard brilliance, and the plot… may well be one of the crackiest I’ve seen all year and yet the film manages to balance its weirder aspects, like an elitist cheese society, with a lot of earnestness that works in its favour. Also, as a side note, this might be one of the few times when a post-credits scene genuinely adds so much to a movie. I won’t spoil for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, but it reaches a new level that the company hasn’t gotten to before, even given the strength of its previous offerings.

Always good to have something polarizing in a Best Of Year list(!) In all seriousness, while the ending went a bit too silly for my tastes, the majority of the film is a very well-done and amazing looking science fiction story that actually has a much harder sci-fi bent than I’m used to seeing. It’s getting to the point where McConaughey is becoming a pretty safe bet in terms of quality films, because he continues to impress with his charismatic and at times heart-breaking performance here. Also, special commendation goes to TARS/CASE for one of my new favourite robot designs.

Realistic depiction of the man or not, Cumberbatch gives a great layered performance here as Alan Turing with a lot of shy charm and blunt humour. The rest of the cast do a great job, with Keira Knightley making me all but forgive her all-too-Westheimer performance in A Dangerous Method. The script builds a lot of tension around Turing and his team cracking the Enigma code and also shows some good juxtaposition of machine behaviour vs. human behaviour.

#17: The LEGO Movie

Yeah, expecting this to be higher up, I’m guessing? Well, don’t get me wrong, this is an amazingly good movie that stands as a testament to the imagination of both the company and its customers that has made LEGO a household name. The animation is pretty much exactly what a theatrical film about LEGO should look like and the voice acting, while not taking itself too seriously, is very earnest and extremely funny. The only issue I take with this film is the third act, which took its rather nuanced message about creativity and individuality and then made it all too literal for me to latch onto. But that is nowhere near enough for me to bag out this movie overall. At first glance, I had no idea how this movie was even going to work, but after seeing it, this is exactly what a LEGO Movie should be about.

#16: Noah

With a story that is as widely known as that of Noah’s Ark, it’s difficult to imagine being able to tell something new with it. Well, enter Darren Aronofsky, whose penchant for the surreal and head-scratching serves him well in constructing a new take on the tale. His flair for imagery and scope gives this film the gravitas it needed and while some of the modifications to the original story seemed… odd at first, they worked well in building the world the film delves in. The cast all do well in their roles, but I just have to give major props to Russell Crowe as the titular character who showed an intensity in this film that genuinely surprised and impressed me, taking an underlying thought of interpreting messages from God and turning it in a very antiheroic, dark and conflicted character performance.

#15: PK

As someone with an admitted axe to grind when it comes to organized religion, this was a breath of strangely fresh air to see. It’s amazing witty with a lot of sharp and thought-provoking satire about how materialistic religion has become, and yet it balances that out by not having a direct agenda against religion itself. The acting is great, the soundtrack is lively and definitely made for the highlight of the Bollywood films I’ve seen this year (Yes, all 3 of them) and it has a romantic subplot that avoids the more annoying clichés we’ve come to know and loathe in movies, even if it does go into pretty cheesy territory at the end.

#14: How To Train Your Dragon 2

Given how good the first film was, it would be a hard feat to try and improve on that but they somehow managed it. The funny moments are even better, the more emotional scenes hit even harder and the scope of the story is grander, while the acting and animation remain as great as ever. This film joins the very select list of sequels that are genuinely better than the original in every regard.

#13: The Wolf Of Wall Street

You know a movie is going to be good when it opens on dwarf-tossing. Martin Scorsese seemed to go a little insane in the making of this, considering the sense of humour on display here, but it resulted in one of his greatest efforts to date. The casting is amazing, with every role seemingly tailored to their actors as if they are literally the only people who could say the dialogue they’re given. DiCaprio goes all-out with his performance here, running the full gamut of emotions and even getting into a bit of physical comedy with, without a doubt, the funniest drug trip ever put to film. Also, as a film nerd, I greatly appreciated the Freaks reference they slipped in there and still find myself laughing at it from time to time.

#12: Saving Mr. Banks

I could probably point to my nostalgia for the original Merry Poppins as to why I like this as much as I do, but I can’t help it; this is a really good film. Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks give great performances and act very well with and against each other, the writing does a great job at intertwining P.L. Travers’ stories in the film’s past and present, even if the events are revised pretty heavily, and the writing shows Disney’s talent at making family films even when in live-action with a lot of humour and heart.

Jake Gyllenhall gives a very awkward, darkly funny, intimidating and frightening performance here as the career-driven sociopath Lou, armed with writing that is sharp and filled with jabs at commercial news reports and America’s economic state. The direction is also great and takes the already high tension levels even further, what with Lou being as unpredictably insane as he is here. Doubtless, you’ve seen many underdog stories of people trying to make it in the business world; doubtful that many of them have been told like this.

#10: These Final Hours

It’s an impressive feat to make a film that’s this bright with literal sunshine this dark and depressing. While not having the most depth in terms of writing, it is extremely intense emotionally with some rather harrowing performances and a very effective portrayal of humanity as it loses its hope, convictions and morality in the face of the end of the world. The filmmakers also make the good move of sprinkling short beats of uplift throughout to keep the dreary tone from becoming suffocating. A great example of what the cinematic world down under is capable of.

#9: Tusk

I give Kevin Smith a lot of credit for delivering this frankly batshit premise with this straight of a face, not to mention being able to wring scares and some effective drama out of it as well. Long, Depp and Parks each give some bizarrely amazing performances and the comedic, dramatic and horrific elements of the script are each delivered effectively. Any film that is capable of mindfragging me and getting me to feel scared, sad, giddy and empathetic at the literal exact same time has to get high marks from me.

#8: Only Lovers Left Alive

Maybe as an internalized attempt to make up for the weed-inspired nunfuckery of our last entry, here is a more artsy film by director Jim Jarmusch, who is quickly climbing his way onto my list of favourite directors. It’s hard to explain this film in terms of the effect it had on me, but the best estimate I can give is euphoria. Something about the overall production here, from the layered writing to the acting to the amazing soundtrack, clicked together in just the right way to make for a seriously great watch.

While part of me is still kind of bummed out that I have to wait till the end of the year until I get to see Part 2, that doesn’t stop me from loving this film to bits. The tone is definitely different from the previous films, going for more of a thriller than action-adventure, but the way it’s written makes it work with a lot of great subtext about war and the power of P.R. as well as making for an extremely powerful moment when coupled with the song The Hanging Tree. With how good this film is, and the shattering note that it ended on, I wait with bated breath for the conclusion.

#6: Predestination

Robert Heinlein’s ‘All You Zombies’ is one of my all-time favourite works of fiction and this, I feel, is a superb adaptation of the material. It doesn’t dumb down the story’s time travel logic for audience consumption, but at the same time it doesn’t make it too confusing. To make it even better, the story elements that were added on to make it feature-length actually enhance the experience rather than hinder it, so this can be enjoyed alongside the original work. Ethan Hawke does great in his mentor role and Sarah Snook giving what could be a career-making performance… or at least, if there’s any justice in this world, what will be a career-making performance.

#5: Guardians Of The Galaxy

The most flat-out fun I had watching a film all year. The characters are fleshed out and their actors have great chemistry with each other, the casting is pretty much perfect, even for the bit parts, the action is outstanding, the writing hits drama and comedy at precisely the right points with some of the best laughs I’ve had all year and the soundtrack is one of the most bizarrely fitting I’ve ever encountered. It’s essentially a film with Troma sensibilities on a Hollywood budget, which is fitting considering the director, James Gunn, also wrote the insane Shakespearean send-up Tromeo & Juliet… and that one short in Movie 43 with the horny and homicidal cartoon cat. Yeah. Also, best MCU post-credits scene yet and I doubt another movie will top it anytime soon.

#4: X-Men: Days Of Future Past

Bridging the gap between the original X-Men trilogy and First Class was going to be tough to get past me, especially considering the continuity flubs between the two was one of my larger complaints about First Class. However, despite a couple of new continuity flubs, this film managed to merge the two together without any noticeable seams. The writing shows a lot of thought and care was put into it and is on a grandiose scale that not only its build-up deserved, but also that its follow-ups deserve too considering the next film in the series is going to be on the colossal Age Of Apocalypse saga; and the changes made here from the original comic book not only make sense but also give way for some seriously good drama beats. While I could give some flack to the ending, which is of a brand that never ceases to annoy me, the overall package is way too good for me to let that get in the way.

#3: Gone Girl

Even in a year full of fantastical works, this film managed to pull off a genuine miracle: Making Tyler Perry funny. Yeah, in a film where actors like Neil Patrick Harris and Rosamund Pike are giving A-grade performances, Tyler Perry stands out as the charming and dry-witted lawyer.  Not only that, for as much flack as Ben Affleck has gotten over the years for his acting, he is also surprisingly good in this and does a great job at keeping the audience guessing. I have a major soft spot in my heart for stories involving mind games and battles of wits, which this film shows expertly, but I also love the barbs shot at the mass media here too. This is crazy good, with a lot of emphasis on the crazy.

#2: Her

It’s rather telling that the most believable and heartfelt romantic coupling I’ve seen in years on film is between a man and his computer. Not meant in any way as a slight against the movie, because Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson are a great on-screen couple, especially considering how one of them isn’t even on screen for the entirety of the movie. Johansson does an amazing job as Samantha, giving the kind of performance that is usually reserved for dubs of Miyazaki films, and… yeah, it’s pretty much one of the sexiest things I’ve ever heard, I can’t deny it. The script makes a lot of poignant comments about technology and how it has changed, and will continue to change, the way we socially interact, something that makes this a weird sort of primer for life in the 21st century. A true cinematic marvel to behold.

#1: 20,000 Days On Earth

In my admittedly brief time as a film buff, never before has a film tapped into me as deeply as this movie did; it felt like I was having a religious experience watching this. From Nick Cave’s anecdotes and dark wit to the superb camera work and editing, something in my gut tells me that this is perfect. It is a fascinating look into the creative process of making music and Nick’s insights in his history, his work and his own self make for visual poetry. This isn’t just best of the year good. This is on my potential list for favourite films ever; it’s THAT good.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Top 20 Worst Films Of 2014

Before getting into our list proper, I want to give out a couple of dishonourable mentions; these are films that, by all means, should be on this list but only came out here in Australia on DVD, thus making them ineligible. First off is Keith Lemon: The Film, one of the worst ‘comedies’ I have ever seen. I should not be able to predict as many of the terrible jokes as I did with this film. The other mention goes to The Starving Games, a Seltzerberg parody film so lazy that I’m not even going to dignify it with any real analysis.

And now, with those out of the way, time for the top 20 worst theatrically-released films of 2014:

#20: 300: Rise Of An Empire

When the scene with the best acting in it is the sex scene, something is seriously wrong with your movie. Aside from that, and one of the best unintentional laughs of the year which I’m fairly certain was just me laughing out of desperation at how the soldiers yelled out “Rocks!”, everything about this film is done ineptly: The CGI blood looks fucking horrible, the male lead is the store-brand knock-off of Leonidas with zero added charisma, the writing reads like bad fanfiction complete with the lack of character restraint that some of the more notorious works out there have, and the less said about the tacked-on sequel baiting, the better. I’m glad I got to see Eva Green be her psycho-sexual persona on screen again, but this film doesn’t do her any favours.

#19: The Giver

As a big fan of the original book, I was definitely sceptical about this but it was actually working for me at first: Jeff Bridges is great as the titular role and the additions made in the adaptation process made sense in terms of stretching out the story. Unfortunately, once the third act comes around, the enhancements made start to lose their grip: The Chief Elder and Fiona, who get beefier roles in this version, open up massive plot holes with their very presences in the story and the ending, which tries to keep the same tone as the source material, makes no sense in context to this film because of the changes made to the story. Aside from the issues involving adaptation, the acting is extremely weak for the most part especially from Jonas, Fiona and Asher, our central characters. As much as I applaud Bridges for how hard he worked to get this adaptation off the ground, I can’t help but feel that he has wasted his time if this is all he has to show for it.

#18: Transcendence

For the one guy out there who watched The Eternal Mind episode of Amazing Stories and thought that that episode wasn’t long enough and featured too much characterisation, this film is perfect. For everyone else, this completely fails to live up to its premise. Any attempts it makes to raise questions about the nature of artificial intelligence are never fully fleshed out, nor does the film even attempt to answer most of them. Given how one of the bigger questions is whether or not Will as a personality still exists within the machine, it is extremely poor in how they characterised him and the resolution to that question feels tacked-on and rushed, despite the more than sufficient running time. To make matters worse, the film is book-ended by a prologue that spoils the ending and an epilogue that makes what happened in said ending pointless. Will Pfister undoubtedly has a good eye for visuals and this film is at least pretty to look at, but he should think twice before directing again.

#17: Deliver Us From Evil

I have to admit, given how badly this film manages to come together, it should be placed several spots further down the list, but the amount of unintentional laughs I got from this movie bumped it up a few places. It feels at times like it’s aware of how stupid it is, given how often it tries to be funny at its own expense, but other times it genuinely wants the audience to think that an exorcism scene where The Doors’ ‘Break On Through’ is playing is terrifying and not hilariously out-of-place. Throughout the running time, the amount of jump scares we get is ludicrous and, on occasion, rage-inducing. The only legitimately good part of this film is Edgar Ramirez, who is not only the best actor in this film but also gets the character that’s the best written as well, making for one of the few things that had me engaged throughout. However, with all that said, this is the only film on this list that I actually recommend for readers to check out because this is one of those films that is perfect for bad movie nights where you can get friends together to do your own MST3K routine. Otherwise, deliver yourself from Eric's performance, among other things.

This is like if Hollywood thought that The Asylum was making too much money with their mockbusters and decided to make their own: The effects are cheap and sometimes even worse than some Asylum productions, the acting is pretty much non-existent throughout with a pathetic male lead and some of the most blatant ripping off of 300 I’ve seen yet.

#15: And So It Goes

You know you’re in a classy film when it’s below an M rating and it has a rape joke within the first five minutes. The writer seems to have forgotten that, when you make a crotchety old man character, you need to at least make him funny as all the jokes in this movie fall with a very audible thud to the ground. The story is completely devoid of focus and aside from the couple of scenes with Diane Keaton singing, there’s not much to give credit to this movie for.

Admittedly decent actors let down by absolutely awful material. The setting is painfully generic and feels like it was ripped straight out of several other movies, the plot is not only idiotic but actually is ripped right out of another movie (Van Helsing), the characters constantly make dumb decisions because the plot needs them to and the effects are among some of the worst this year.

To contrast the previous pick, this has some of the best effects work of the year. Unfortunately, it is let down by incredibly stupid studio meddling to include bad voice acting, insipid narration and an almost unbelievably juvenile script. While the effects work should keep this off the list entirely, out of merit that it shows more effort was put into this than almost every other entry here, it makes it this far down the list purely because of how much of a colossal screw-up this film became in comparison to how good it could have been.

95% dull, with little to no actual plot to speak of and instead just meandering through its relatively short running time. Then it gets to the ending and not only effectively wasted our time because how much of the film wasn’t real, but also personally offended me because of its portrayal of the male lead’s mental breakdown. It, for some reason, thought that this guy going into a psychosis for two years was a good thing because it helped him build his confidence; I am kind of taken aback at just how offensive this film became, given the incredibly bland majority of it. The ending is just that bad that it alone warrants this film’s place on this list.

#11: Annie

Being a bad adaptation is one thing; doing so while having zero respect for your source material, while simultaneously trying to convince your audience of how much better you are than previous adaptations, is something else entirely. While the cast is mostly decent and there were a couple of good musical ideas floating around in the production, the soundtrack is bland pop garbage complete with Auto-Tune, which should be made illegal in musical films, and any attempts to go into this film with an open mind and ignoring the 1982 version are futile, considering how often this film tries to be cute and poke fun at it itself. Rarely do I see a Hollywood film be this kind of pretentious.

While having a rather mouth-watering cast list, their performances are only good within the context of a stage production; as a film, it’s way too over-the-top and melodramatic to take seriously. Not that I see the original play being all that good anyway given this script, its need to make every character unlikable and its abject failure at getting us to pity them when bad things happen to them. I believe that this is meant to be a black comedy as much as I believe that The Room was meant to be a black comedy.

#9: Planes: Fire And Rescue

It’s hard to imagine a film being worse than the original Planes but at least that film had a couple of interesting characters, even if they were shoved to the side for most of it. This film has all of the problems of the original: A script that thinks endless vehicle puns are the height of comedy, a roster of stereotypes pretending to be characters, a plot that is recycled from countless other movies, an arc for the main character that goes nowhere, a setting that makes little sense given how its presented and animation that is unbearably cheap-looking, especially for a theatrically-released film. No joke, after watching both this and its predecessor, I was so burnt out that I considered giving up on film watching entirely; it’s that bad.

#8: 22 Jump Street

After how much I enjoyed the first movie, I was hyped for this one. What I ended up getting, however, was an overload of gay jokes and innuendos and fewer deconstructive jokes that are just beaten into submission until they are completely unsalvageable. The literal best joke in the film is the end credits, where the writing is at its sharpest making fun of movie sequels, but this has since gone flat after it was announced that 23 Jump Street was indeed being made. Knowing that Lord and Miller, the same duo who brought us the surprise juggernaut of The LEGO Movie, were behind this one is very disheartening and I can only hope that this is a one-off in an otherwise promising filmography.

#7: The Other Woman

A watered-down version of She-Devil with Roseanne Barr, only with three scorned women instead of one and no justification for why we should root for them to win. Given how one of the three main characters, Leslie Mann’s Kate, is characterized, it feels like this film was originally meant to be a lot darker before it was rewritten, which sucks because it feels like whatever movie that would have been would at least be better than this. This is all kinds of cringe-inducing, with some pretty bad sexist jokes and some of the most clichéd music selections I’ve seen in a long time; this is the kind of film to play the Mission: Impossible theme unironically and think that it’s still a fresh joke.

#6: Into The Storm

Trying to give your found footage disaster film credibility by including an environmental message, and roping in Hurricane Katrina to help justify it, is pretty hackneyed and more than a little insulting but I’d be thankful if that was the only thing wrong with this movie. The characters are beyond clichéd and feel like they’re actively trying to get themselves killed with how stupid they are; the redneck comic relief is jarring and completely unnecessary; the found footage aspect is warped and twisted to the point where they shouldn’t have even bothered with it, with the shaky-cam making it so that we can’t see anything in a lot of the shots, and the effects work is average at best. It’s rare that a film will leave me with nothing good to say about it.

Even for a cheesy romance flick, this is horribly written. Whatever themes of fate and love they were trying to convey are extremely cookie-cutter and taken to rather ridiculous levels; the male lead is wish-fulfillment personified without any attempt at hiding it; the editing is shoddy and the ending is easily one of the most rage-inducing bits of fluff I've seen all year. This is a ‘chick flick’ in the worst possible sense of the term.

Even putting aside this film’s persecution complex that makes GamerGate look rational by comparison, the writing here does a pretty effective job at making everyone look bad, even its intended Christian demographic: Atheists are complete monsters; Muslims are violent zealots; and Christians are judgemental and self-righteous douchebags. Kevin Sorbo is the only actor who seems to have any fucks to give about his performance and makes for the most interesting part of the film, but even then he’s playing a completely transparent straw man that will probably only serve to offend most Atheists and be too over-the-top for most Christian audiences to take seriously… at least, I hope that’s how they’ll see it because, quite frankly, thinking that this is how Christians see non-Christians is kind of terrifying.

#3: Any Day Now

The only thing this film was missing was being set in Nazi Germany for it to tick every single box for Oscar bait: A gay couple take in a child with Down Syndrome after his drug addict mother goes to jail, the mother believes that they are unfit to raise her son because of their sexuality so they hire a black lawyer to defend them. However, it can’t even do Oscar bait right since the writing keeps falling flat on its face. Every frame of this film feels cold and calculated, designed to emotionally manipulate its audience and while a lot of films are like this, it shouldn’t be this easy to see through. Add to this an ending that exists for no other reason than for the audience to feel sad, and the rather pathetic attempt to ground this film in reality by saying it’s “based on actual events”, which is complete bullshit, and not even Alan Cumming’s decent performance and singing can save this movie.

#2: Winter’s Tale

Hands down, the dumbest film of the year and easily one of the dumbest of the last few years. The writing only has two modes: Nonsensical and brain numbingly trite, with the writer clearly forgetting that, even in a fantastical setting, there still needs to be a sense of logic in why things are the way they are in-story. Instead, we get events happening out of nowhere with no rhyme or reason, not to mention plot conveniences-a-plenty. Also, the characters are all different varieties of badly drawn from the pretentious Beverly who does nothing but spew Malick-esque platitudes to the moronic Pearly whose plans to get the main character are the kind of thing that 50’s cartoons were already making fun of. Aside from Will Smith as Lucifer, which I give credit to for giving a well-done interpretation of the character, this film is just a sink-hole of time, effort and any form of sense.

#1: Divergent

This may seem like a pretty odd pick for my worst film of the year, especially given its competition, but here’s my reasoning: As bad as every other film on this list is, as well as a few that didn’t make the cut, at least they managed to convince me that their worlds existed. Their worlds would be unfathomably stupid, but at least they did that well enough. Divergent, on the other hand, has a premise and setting that are so flimsy that I did not for one second buy into anything that I was seeing on screen. The acting is definitely better than I was expecting, but the plot literally requires for the characters the actors are playing to be one-dimensional ciphers, showing how little this film understands about basic human nature and good screenwriting. This is a film that fails at its concept and goes down from there, and as a work of fiction that is unacceptable.