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The 15 worst films of 2014

It’s been a banner year for bad movies. We count down the top 15 cinematic stinkers of 2015

No one sets out to make a bad movie. Actually, in the year that our theatres welcomed ‘Zombeavers’ and ‘WolfCop’ that’s perhaps no longer true, but no one sets out to make a truly rotten, joyless, unwatchable slice of tedious crud. And yet somehow, it keeps happening. You can feel the great and the good of the art world cringing. From hilariously pompous Biblical epics to misguided self-help sagas, from flatulent farmyard animals to the world’s oldest teenagers, here are 2014’s biggest cinematic stinkers.

2014's worst films

Pompeii
1/15

Pompeii

Why so dreadful?
This laughable would-be epic played merry hell with history, showcased some truly dire console game visual effects and tried to sell us on blank-faced Kit Harington as a viable romantic lead. But with Kiefer Sutherland feasting on the scenery and a general air of pantomime mania, it did end up being sort of fun.

What did we say?
‘Parmageddon is nigh in this cheesy ancient-world action melodrama whose simmering main character is a moody Mount Vesuvius.’

Could have been improved by...
Being even worse. We can only imagine.

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Muppets Most Wanted
2/15

Muppets Most Wanted

Why so dreadful?
After 2011’s charming, back-to-the-roots reboot, expectations were sky-high for this sequel. The first alarm bells were sounded by the casting of Ricky Gervais as the furry freaks’ human foil, but he wasn’t even the worst thing in this unfunny, ill-tempered cross-European romp.

What did we say?
‘“Everybody knows that the sequel’s never quite as good,” sing our furry friends during the opening number. This self-deprecating gag proves to be self-fulfilling.’

Could have been improved by...
Less smug self-mockery, more genuine heart and warmth.

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The Monuments Men
3/15

The Monuments Men

Why so dreadful?
It was pitched as ‘The Expendables’ for grown-ups but ended up ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ for people who don’t like fun, as an inevitably mustachioed George Clooney led a team of art experts behind enemy lines in WWII. Imagine a wet Sunday afternoon flicking between ‘A Bridge Too Far’ and an Open University lecture on frame restoration.

What did we say?
‘A frustrating tonal mishmash.’

Could have been improved by...
We hate to sound like a bunch of Philistines, but more explosions, less art.

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Grudge Match
4/15

Grudge Match

Why so dreadful?
Not content with having shamed the entire action hero community with his ‘Expendables’ franchise (see number eight), Sylvester Stallone has now begun targeting ‘proper’ actors, dragging Robert De Niro into this charmless farrago about a pair of ageing boxers (Rocky and Raging Bull, geddit?) settling old scores.

What did we say?
‘Even by low standards, "Grudge Match" is astonishingly undercooked.’

Could have been improved by...
Somebody, anybody pretending to actually give a damn.

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A Long Way Down
5/15

A Long Way Down

Why so dreadful?
For a start you’ve got not-a-quite vintage Nick Hornby novel, in which four Londoners decide to top themselves on New Year’s Eve and choose the same skyscraper from which to jump. Throw in Pierce Brosnan with a mockney accent and a weird mix of sentimentality and black humour, and the result is this overripe, sludgy non-com.

What did we say?
‘It’s hard to care about these characters. None of them is believable for a second. And the film lacks that slip-into-a-Slanket cosy feel you want from Hornby.’

Could have been improved by...
Picking a different book.

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The Double
6/15

The Double

Why so dreadful?
Richard Ayoade’s Dostoyevsky adaptation starred Jesse Eisenberg as an office drone faced with the sudden appearance of his super-cocky doppelgänger. It was actually a five-star film for some; for us though, Ayoade referenced so many other filmmakers and writers that ‘The Double’ felt like an unoriginal Pinterest board of paranoia and alienation.

What did we say?
‘It’s the overfamiliarity of ideas relating to loneliness, alienation and men in crisis (Mia Wasikowska plays a thankless romantic foil) that’s the issue.’

Could have been improved by...
Cancelling Richard Ayoade’s Criterion Collection subscription.

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Dracula Untold
7/15

Dracula Untold

Why so dreadful?The success of TV’s ‘Game of Thrones’ has led to some truly weird, disastrous big-screen mashups. ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ was a fairytale with a body count while ‘I, Frankenstein’ (see #3) melded classic horror with an impenetrable fantasy backstory. This atrocious riff on Bram Stoker’s toothsome anti-hero arrived steeped in dodgy CGI scenery and battles with racially dubious Turkish hordes.

What did we say?
‘A disaster from start to finish.’

Could have been improved by...
If they had to take the ‘Game of Thrones’ route, why not go full tilt and pack it with hookers, dragons and rampant swearing? ‘Dracula, you caaaant!’

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The Expendables 3
8/15

The Expendables 3

Why so dreadful?
Sylvester Stallone’s original pitch for ‘The Expendables’ – a throwback action flick staffed entirely by straight-to-VHS muscle-men – was an amusing one, but this third instalment feels more like a riot in a retirement home than an actual movie. And what the hell is up with Harrison Ford’s face?

What did we say?
‘Are there legions of middle-aged weightlifting nuts out there who yearn for the good old days of Chuck Norris mowing down foreign Johnnies with an Uzi 9mm?’

Could have been improved by...
Nurse! The tranquilisers!

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Nativity 3: Dude, Where's My Donkey?
9/15

Nativity 3: Dude, Where's My Donkey?

Why so dreadful?
After ‘Danger in the Manger’, we weren’t expecting any kind of Christmas miracle with this family-friendly school-set threequel. Amazingly, the filmmakers managed to one-up themselves in the excruciatingly twee, unfunny, too-crap-for-ITV stakes.

What did we say?
‘A virtually plotless cavalcade of donkey poo, drab singalongs, donkey farts and fake Christmas sentiment.’

Could have been improved by...
Bringing in the ‘South Park’ guys to write and direct.

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Noah
10/15

Noah

Why so dreadful?
Black Swan’ director Darren Aronofsky weirdly but perhaps wisely kept all mention of God out of this bizarre, bum-numbing Biblical epic. He replaced the Almighty with CGI rock monsters, sub-Malick psychedelic interludes and Ray Winstone as humanity’s first Cockney bruiser.

What did we say?
‘Your jaw will drop early and often.’

Could have been improved by...
A massive Busby Berkeley-style musical production of that popular school-choir classic and favourite of the Flanders kids: ‘God said to Noah there’s gonna be a floody-floody…’

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That Awkward Moment
11/15

That Awkward Moment

Why so dreadful?
Filling a script with dick jokes doesn’t make a comedy. This gag-free guycom about three commitment-phobic buddies aims for box-fresh banter and on-the-edge cool, but settles with a bunch of lame clichés . The worst thing is that its trio of stars are all much better than this: Miles Teller, Michael B Jordan and Zac Efron (okay, the jury is out on him).

What did we say?
‘The actors seem to have been involved in a hideous industrial accident that’s left them with the superpower of repelling all comic timing.’

Could have been improved by...
Handing Judd Apatow the script and a Sharpie.

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Hector and the Search for Happiness
12/15

Hector and the Search for Happiness

Why so dreadful?
Simon Pegg can do crap-bloke funny with Oscar-worthy prowess. But as Hector, a psychiatrist who travels the world searching for the secret of happiness (spoiler! It’s closer to home than Tibet) he was required to tackle a spot of Serious Acting. The results were far, far from pretty. Speaking of which, the movie also criminally wastes Rosamund Pike in the thankless girlfriend role.

What did we say?
‘At times, the whole thing is a hippie’s whisker away from playing like a clueless pop star’s visit to a developing country: Look at all the poor people! Aren’t they happy, with their smiling faces and lack of clean water!’

Could have been improved by...
Sounds mean, but someone whose initials are not SP in the lead role.

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I, Frankenstein
13/15

I, Frankenstein

Why so dreadful?
Of all the indignities visited upon Mary Shelley’s stitched-up scientific marvel over the years – from Abbott and Costello to that dire Kenneth Branagh effort – nothing quite prepared us for this fantasy-inflected showstopper, in which poor Frank (the monster not the scientist, nonsensically) gets involved in an age-long war between demons and gargoyles.

What did we say?
‘Death would’ve been kinder.’

Could have been improved by...
Getting the title right, for starters.

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The Inbetweeners 2
14/15

The Inbetweeners 2

Why so dreadful?
This box-office battering TV spin-off might just have been bearable if the four sex-obsessed teens of the title hadn’t been played by smirking twentysomethings. As it is, the film’s vile disregard for the entire female gender renders it creepy in the extreme.

What did we say?
‘That a film in 2014 can still get away with depicting all women as either dumb, hapless sluts or ball-busting harridans is frankly unbelievable.’

Could have been improved by...
Mandatory on-set diversity training.

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A Million Ways to Die in the West
15/15

A Million Ways to Die in the West

Why so dreadful?
The most offensive thing about Seth MacFarlane isn’t his crass, non-PC schoolboy humour, his ooh-aren’t-I-naughty grin or even his sub-Sinatra warbling. It’s the fact that he clearly thinks – nay, knows, with every fibre of his being – that he’s God’s gift to humanity. Let’s hope the resounding failure of this needle-in-the-eye ‘comedy’ forces him to take a long, hard look in the mirror.

What did we say?
‘“I’m not in the mood for laughing,” a grizzled gunslinger tells Seth MacFarlane at the outset of this so-called comic western. He’s come to the right film.’

Could have been improved by...
Someone yelling ‘you’re not funny!’ in Seth MacFarlane’s face, on the hour.

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