We’ve already given you our pick of the best films that 2014 had to offer, but what about those films that didn’t quite live up to the hype? From second-rate sequels to mediocre reboots, our writers pick the films that disappointed them the most this year.
The Monuments Men
George Clooney’s vanity vehicle is by no means the worst film of the year, but it is a massive let-down. Clooney, a usually solid director and accomplished lead, wastes a great cast and interesting idea by failing to decide what kind of film he wants to make. The Monuments Men spends half the time thinking it’s a fast-paced heist movie as the makeshift allied unit led by Clooney sneaks about Europe trying to gather up the continent’s famous art before Hitler can destroy it. Then suddenly it lurches into moments of forced sorrow and bombastic remembrance. This split personality turned an early awards tip into a swiftly side-lined dud. SM
300: Rise of an Empire
Despite receiving a mixed response from critics back in 2007, there was a lot to love about Zack Snyder’s original 300. It was an unflinching and stylish display, with Gerard Butler’s fierce and commanding King Leonidas holding the film together. Unfortunately, Noam Murro’s sequel struggles to bring anything new to the 300 canon. There’s simply no disguising the fact that Rise of an Empire is a frustratingly empty film, high on graphic gore but devoid of emotion. Eva Green fills the gaping hole left by Butler, but it all unravels during a baffling sex scene mid-way through that strips both the actress and film of all credibility. Neither thrilling nor imaginative, this is one sequel that should’ve been shelved. NX
Lucy has Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman starring, and Luc Besson directing, yet it manages to be a largely boring, unfulfilling viewing experience. It isn’t a bad film per se, it’s simply not as good as it could have been. We wanted an empowering superhero origin, a techno-thriller, or at least an intelligent drama, but this film was none of those things. Why turn this into a revenge film? It needed to be more, but just seemed to scupper its premise with a half-hearted script and sometimes silly execution, particularly in its final moments. Johansson, as ever, was great and was able to make the idea of a human slowly losing their humanity to the nanotech inside them convincing. But this wasn’t enough to elevate it. Maybe Lucy would work better as a revamped television series… AS
The Inbetweeners 2
Resolutely abiding by the mantra that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, writer/directors Damon Beesley and Iain Morris brought E4’s foolhardy foursome back to the big screen for one of the year’s most frustrating and futile sequels. This time the boys found themselves down under, literally, having upped sticks and headed to Australia. What followed was a mercilessly mundane amalgamation of stale jokes and hackneyed storytelling that practically wasted the talents of the cast and made a mockery of the first film’s laudable attempts to utilise the greater creative freedom afforded by the cinematic formula. It is no exaggeration to say that it would be preferable to take Will’s place and be chased down a water slide by another person’s excrement, than sit through this filmic equivalent of manure once more. JM
As I watched Wally Pfister’s directorial debut at home my dog’s ball rolled well under the sofa, impossible for a normal human arm to reach. In pursuit of the ball I recruited the help of this weird elongated squeaky toy and my brother’s school ruler, creating a kind of ‘V’ shaped hook and slowly but surely manoeuvring it out from under the sofa. The dog dropped the ball and left the room, more interested in some noise outside. I’m not sure what was more disappointing, her reaction to my hard work or the entire 120 minutes of Transcendence. All I know is that my ordeal with the ball toy was far more entertaining than this soulless bore-fest, which for all its fancy car advert cinematography can’t escape a stagnant plot and apathetic performances from a cast that should know better. Unfathomably bad and, from a man with Inception and The Dark Knight trilogy on his CV, crushingly disappointing. LR
No other film in 2014 raised my excitement to childhood levels of giddiness before smashing them down before my eyes in a whirlwind of unforgiving malice. Ignoring the fact that Gareth Edwards’ reboot of the iconic king of monsters was a dour and drab affair, registering zero on the humour scale, it also has the nerve to reduce its titular ‘hero’ to the realms of minor supporting character; and let’s not get started on the painfully dull characterizations this side of a brick wall. With so much promise, Godzilla merely proved to be nothing more than a trite exercise in fan boy stupidity. NS
Maleficent was one of the great missed opportunities of 2014. Promising to pull back the curtain on the legendary villainess, Robert Stromberg’s film ditched the complexity, transforming Maleficent into a hero, resulting in a horrifically muddled fairy-tale of underserved ideas and characters who were really just too stupid for their own good. NS
Hector and the Search for Happiness
Simon Pegg stars as a hapless psychiatrist who embarks on a trip round the world in order to find the key to his own happiness so that he can better advise his patients. It sounds harmless enough and I had vague hopes of a Forrest Gump-esque film, which might make me want to book a holiday. How wrong I was. The major flaw with Hector and the Search for Happiness is that Hector is such an arrogant twit; it’s very hard to wish him any kind of happiness. He abandons his girlfriend, Rosamund Pike (who does that?), and then proceeds to throw himself at every pretty woman he meets, all whilst learning a series of idiotic lessons from a variety of racial stereotypes before he finally realises what makes him happy. I finally discovered what makes me happy when the film ended. RD
Under The Skin
Call me old fashioned, but I like a film to have plot and, occasionally, dialogue. Under The Skin has scant amount of either. Scarlett Johansson stars as an alien who stalks the streets of Glasgow in search of prey, though for what reason is never made clear. I also only know that Johansson’s character is an alien because that’s what the film’s synopsis tells me, not because it’s ever referenced in the story. She could very easily be some kind of vampire, or maybe just a serial killer with a pool of black goop in her basement. Who knows? There is one potential glimpse of brilliance when it seems like Johansson’s character begins to question just what constitutes beauty, but then the moment passes and she’s back to staring at beans on toast in some Scottish man’s cottage. RD
What film was the biggest disappointment for you in 2014?