Saturday, January 03, 2015

2014 in Review: Movies

This is the third in a series of blog posts reviewing 2015.  Previous posts in the series discuss books and food.

In 2014, I saw 147 movies that I hadn’t before seen.  In terms of quality, with four stars being the best and zero stars being the worst, here’s the breakdown of my assessment of those films:

**** : 12
***½ : 15
*** : 44
**½ : 24
** : 32
*½ : 10
* : 9
Zero : 1

Average movie rating: **½

The average is the same as last year, which suggests I am consistent.  However, in 2014 I saw more three-star movies than anything, whereas in 2013, two-star films were most prevalent.  I didn’t see as many extremely good films (***½ – ****), but I also didn’t see as many mediocre to poor films.

As I did for 2013 films, I will break up my discussion of these films primarily by genre, though I will also save a spot for those films I found most overrated, underrated, or that otherwise took me by surprise.

No surprise, the bulk of films to which I gave four stars came from the drama category.  Among those excellent films are a handful of 2013 films that I hadn’t managed to see before 2013 ended.  At the top of the list for films seen in 2014 but actually from 2013 would be Captain Phillips, a thriller starring Tom Hanks and based on the true story of Captain Richard Phillips, whose cargo ship was hijacked by Somali pirates.  I also very much enjoyed Her, the futuristic tale of a bashful man who falls in love with a computer operating system whose artificial intelligence makes “her” the ideal mate—sans having a body.  With Spike Jonze as both director and writer and Joaquin Phoenix as the lead actor, you know you’re in for some quirk.  It could have been overdone, but it wasn’t.  It was thought-provoking, engaging, and surprisingly subtle.

Captain Phillips and Her were both 2013 Oscar Best Picture nominees.  Most of their fellow nominees I also didn’t see until 2014.  Included in that bunch are The Wolf of Wall Street, Philomena, and Dallas Buyers Club.  I did give the former two four stars, and the latter three-and-a-half stars.  The Wolf of Wall Street certainly isn’t for everyone, but it’s excellently crafted and very funny at times.  Philomena barely got four stars from me, as there were a few plot developments that moved too quickly or weren’t adequately explained.  Dallas Buyers Club featured some knockout performances by Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto, but considering it is a movie about AIDS, it lacks the emotional impact that it should have had.  The supporting actors also seemed to contribute little to the film.

Among the top five films I saw in 2014 would be 2013’s Short Term 12.  You probably haven’t heard of it, and that’s good reason to go out and rent it today (or stream it, or however it works nowadays).  Short Term 12 is one of those independent films that revels in realism and natural performances.  You feel like you’re watching real people in real circumstances.  The movie follows the employees of a facility for troubled youth.  It’s powerful and makes you realize how many unsung heroes must exist in the world doing jobs like this.

Reaching back into the pre-2013 archives, 2006’s Little Children was one of the absolute best films I viewed in 2014.  Movies that deal with infidelity and suburban angst are often a turn-off for me, but this one was very good, even despite the somewhat obnoxious narration.  The film, which stars Kate Winslet, Patrick Wilson, Jennifer Connelly, and Noah Emmerich, manages to play on our expectations in ways that can surprise us.

My very favorite film of 2014 proper is The Theory of Everything, which portrays the real-life relationship between genius physicist Stephen Hawking and Jane Wilde, the woman who became his wife.  Because the film centers primarily on his relationship with Jane, Hawking’s scientific accomplishments become somewhat peripheral.  If I had to lodge a complaint, it might be that one gets the impression Hawking did little more than write a brilliant doctoral thesis, come up with one other really cool idea, and then write a popular book.  Heck, the movie almost implies that he rarely did any actual work.  But aside from that, the movie is phenomenal, and Eddie Redmayne delivers one of those rare performances where anything short of an Oscar trophy will be an insult.  Most Oscar nominees are iffy, so it’s worth noting when the inevitable nomination is truly, truly deserved.  In this case, it’s an absolute must.


There is only one comedy I viewed in 2014 to which I would give four stars, and that would be The Grand Budapest Hotel.  While I would barely give it four stars, I’m happy to say it’s the best Wes Anderson film of the past decade.  (Confession: I found The Darjeeling Limited absolutely tedious.)  I think Anderson is a love him or hate him type of director, but nobody can deny he’s got a signature style.  You can often identify a Wes Anderson film from a single frame of the movie, what with its hyper-symmetry and all.  (Seeing Jason Schwartzman onscreen is also a pretty big clue.)

A quirky comedy I saw only recently is The One I Love.  In fact, I’m not entirely sure if it should be categorized as a comedy or a drama or what.  It stars Mark Duplass (of whom I’m a fan) and Elisabeth Moss as a couple whose marriage therapist sends them on a weekend getaway that becomes very strange.  I don’t know if I should say more than that.  If you like sort of strange films and you like romance, this might be a good choice for you.

There are a couple of other comedies I ranked highly but that I no longer remember much about.  I gave both 2013’s I Give it a Year and 2011’s Dark Horse three-and-a-half stars.  The former I saw on January 2, 2014, so it’s technically been over a year at this point.  I don’t remember anything other than being surprised at how funny it was.  I think it’s a more straightforward romantic comedy, although of the British persuasion.  Dark Horse, on the other hand, is more oddball.  Not silly, mind you, but about some eccentric people.  In brief, an immature guy in his thirties becomes enamored of a super depressed woman and tries to woo her.  It’s a very funny film, but its coherency seems to dissipate near the film’s end.

I’ll make mention of two more comedies, which although I didn’t rank them above three stars, are quite funny and are the kinds of films I can imagine watching over and over again.  (Often, I think it is the solid three-star films that have the most replay power.)  The first is 2014’s Life After Beth, starring Aubrey Plaza as Beth, a girl who dies and miraculously comes back to life.  Although her parents try to keep her return a secret, her boyfriend (played by Dane DeHaan) soon discovers her and tries to rekindle their relationship.  Only Beth now seems a little … impaired.  Life After Beth is consistently laugh-out-loud funny, and I was impressed at how the first third of the film balanced a realistic reaction to Beth’s return with absolute hilarity.  The other film I highly recommend is 2014’s They Came Together, starring Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler.  I admit, part of the appeal may have been that I had no idea what I was getting into.  All I knew about the film ahead of time was that it is a romantic comedy.  I didn’t know that it is actually a parody of romantic comedies, following every goofy formulaic play in the book.  It’s a spot-on parody, so much so that I think the joke is lost on many people.  The reviews it received from critics and moviegoers alike are quite horrendous.  But I think it’s comedic gold.  And Melanie agrees with me.  In fact, Santa gave it to Melanie for Christmas, so I’ve already seen the movie a total of three times.  I laughed aplenty each and every time.

Animated Films

The Lego Movie is in my top ten films of the year.  Inconsistent and suffering from ADHD, I nevertheless found the film incredibly clever and funny, not to mention highly visually appealing.  It’s probably one of my favorite animated films of the last several years.  How to Train Your Dragon 2 didn’t rival The Lego Movie in terms of how much I enjoyed it, but it was the only other Hollywood animated film to get a very high rating from me.  Technically, it might even be a “better” film than The Lego Movie.  But why quibble?  They’re both great.  And I liked them both more than I liked 2013’s Frozen, which I also saw in 2014.  As good as I thought Frozen is, it is undeniably overrated.

The only other animated film worth mentioning is Penguins of Madagascar.  We got to see Penguins for free as part of a work event for Melanie’s school.  I have not much enjoyed the Madagascar films, but I very much enjoyed Penguins.  It wasn’t great or anything, but it was solidly enjoyable and funny.  I think it helps tremendously to have a movie devoid of the other Madagascar characters, all of whom I find rather annoying.  This is the first film in the Madagascar franchise that I flat-out liked.


I don’t think I saw as many documentaries in 2014 as I have in years past.  I don’t know that by looking at the numbers.  It’s just a hunch I’m not going to bother confirming.  One of those documentaries I did give a superlative four stars, and that is 2012’s Stories We TellStories We Tell chronicles actress Sarah Polley’s attempts to tell the story of her own immediate family.  It sounds simple, but there’s more to it than you’d think.  It’s hard to say more about it than this, but it’s a highly recommendable film.

No other documentaries I saw during 2014 come anywhere near the quality of Stories We Tell.  At best, they fall into the “pretty good” camp.  2011’s Pearl Jam Twenty is what I’ll call “documentary-lite” in that it’s not that investigative or informative.  It’s more a celebration of the band and their camaraderie than it is about songwriting or the band’s career.  James Franco’s Saturday Night is intriguing for fans of Saturday Night Live, taking a kind of fly-on-the-wall approach to watching how a single episode of the legendary sketch comedy show unfolds.  I wished there had been more in-depth conversation with members of the cast and crew of SNL, but the film is largely voyeuristic and the interviews as such often have a passing-in-the-hallway, “hey, can I talk to you for a second?” type of feel to them.  I also enjoyed, at least moderately, a couple of DisneyNature documentaries, 2012’s Chimpanzee and 2014’s Bears.  Melanie and I watched these with the boys, and I was pleased that they enjoyed them so much.  I preferred John C. Reilly’s narration of Bears to Tim Allen’s narration of Chimpanzee, and I’m especially bothered that they let Tim Allen throw in his signature man-grunt, a gimmick that has annoyed the crap out of me from the very first time I heard it.  But both films receive a lukewarm recommendation from me.

Franchise Films, Summer Blockbusters, and the Like

Though I gave nothing from this category four stars, there were some very good films.  X-Men: Days of Future Past was actually one of the best 2014 films that I saw.  I found it extremely entertaining, although it tapered off a bit in the end.  Regrettably, by the film’s climax, it had become pretty standard fare for this type of a movie—visually absorbing but nothing truly special.  I also quite liked The Amazing Spider-Man 2I’ve been pleased with Andrew Garfield in the title role, but rumor has it they are already working on rebooting this franchise yet again.  Hell, I’m surprised we’re not trying to reboot Hunger Games by now.  Might as well have the first film of the rebooted franchise compete with the final installment of the original franchise, right?

Speaking of which, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 was the first Hunger Games movie thus far that I didn’t love.  I actually found it somewhat disappointing.  I actually think it’s a necessary evil at this point.  If you read the books, you know that there is an abrupt shift in the tone and style at this point in the story, primarily because the actual Hunger Games themselves are over and done with at this point.  This affects the movies, just as it did the books.  Gone are the interesting dynamics that made the first two films so mesmerizing in comparison.  There’s still a lot of action, but without the underlying relationship dynamics, there’s relatively little suspense.  It’s just different.  It’s unfortunate.


The thriller genre is usually a favorite of Melanie’s and mine.  Our 2014 movie-viewing didn’t provide me with all that many worth mentioning, however.  Thankfully, there is one grand exception—Gone Girl.  (Okay, Captain Phillips probably belongs here, too, but oh well.)  Gone Girl ranks #2 on my list of best films actually released in 2014 that I’ve seen thus far.  It’s excellent, thanks in large part to the exceptional directing abilities of David Fincher, one of my favorite directors of all time.  It also provides one of Ben Affleck’s best performances, which may not be saying a lot, but it’s something.

2011’s The Grey is another thriller I’d highly recommend.  Liam Neeson (another actor who often rubs me the wrong way) stars as the de facto leader of a small band of oil workers trying to survive the Alaskan wilderness after a plane crash.  There are some poignant moments and a lot of genuine suspense in this one.  A very realistic and believable portrayal of a horrific and terrifyingly possible situation.

On the lighter side, I admit it was fun to see the big-screen adaptation of Veronica Mars.  Melanie and I quite enjoyed the short-lived television series and thought the origins of the movie, which started as a Kickstarter campaign by show creator Rob Thomas (not the musician), made it a fun thing to support and celebrate once it arrived in theaters.  I only gave the film two-and-a-half stars; the plot wasn’t overly compelling, and many of the requisite cameos by former cast members felt more obligatory than entertaining.  Still, the film had its fair share of LOL moments and undoubtedly tickled dedicated Veronica Mars fans (or “marshmallows,” as I believe they’ve been affectionately nicknamed).

Foreign Film

If you like bluegrass (which, for the record, I don’t much) and somewhat preachy social statements, you can’t do much better than The Broken Circle Breakdown, a Belgian drama about two musicians who fall in love, have a daughter, and years later discover that the daughter is terminally ill.  As expected, this pushes the couple—one of whom is an atheist and one of whom is religious—to the brink of both their romantic and their professional relationships.  Again, if you like bluegrass, you’ll get plenty of great musical performances from this movie.  There are so many scenes of the musicians performing that the movie as a whole takes on a kind of montage-like quality.  I think this hinders the film, preventing its dramatic components from being as developed as they could be.  Still, for the type of film it is, it is excellent and I felt I had to reward it with four stars.

For a peek at cultural Judaism, I recommend an Israeli film from 2012 titled Fill the Void.  The film takes place within a Hasidic community in Tel Aviv and centers on the attempt to arrange the marriage of a young woman to her departed sister’s surviving husband.  If this and The Broken Circle Breakdown both sound a bit too heavy, you might go for the charming animated French film Ernest & Celestine.  It’s the story of a bear and a mouse who form an unlikely friendship.  Meanwhile, if you just want something weird, I’m learning that Greek film is where it’s at.  Dogtooth is an odd, mildly recommendable film about three grown children who are sheltered to a bizarre and perverse degree by their controlling parents, so much so that they don’t dare leave their yard for fear that they will be killed by a domesticated cat.  But don’t worry, sometimes their parents leave them little treasures, like toy planes that they claim are real planes that have fallen from the sky.  Yeah, it’s pretty cuckoo.

The Overrated, The Underrated

Let’s start with the overrated.  2014’s Birdman is getting rave reviews.  The film stars Michael Keaton as Riggan, a has-been actor whose biggest claim to fame is playing the superhero Birdman in a series of movies from several years before.  (Sound familiar?)  Riggan now hopes to make something of himself by directing his own stage play.  A clash of egos ensues and Riggan’s sanity may well be among the casualties.  I have mixed feelings about this movie.  On the one hand, I really do think it is among the best 2014 films I saw.  It’s hard to define why I liked it to the extent I did, especially given that it has the kind of “modern art” sensibilities that usually drive me batty and seem like complete B.S.  On the other hand, it is original.  As a case in point, the film is presented as nearly one continuous shot without any (obvious) cutting.  It’s intriguing if nothing else.  And yet as much acclaim as I might be willing to give it, I would say that the rave reviews make it fall into the overrated camp for me.  Not by a tremendous amount, but at least a little bit.

Probably the worst offender on my list of overrated films is Under the Skin.  I gave the film one-and-a-half stars, but it got rave reviews from critics, including a smattering of four-star reviews.  As summarized on the Internet Movie Database, the film is about “a mysterious woman [who] seduces lonely men in the evening hours of Scotland.”  It’s more sinister than that, and more of a sci-fi film than that description would lead you to believe, but the bottom line is that it’s boring as hell.  Forget Birdman, this is the kind of “modern art” filmmaking that makes me want to scream.  Thankfully, at least a couple of movie critics saw the film as I did.  As Lou Lumenick of the New York Post puts it, the film is “tedious and pretentious.”  I couldn’t agree more.  Sadly, whenever a film strikes me this way, I’m fairly certain the majority of critics will be singing its praises.  That definitely happened here.  My only consolation is that most people haven’t even heard of it.

The same cannot be said of The Fault in Our Stars, which was a big hit commercially speaking.  I also gave this film one-and-a-half stars, but people love it for whatever reason.  It’s supposed to be a romantic movie, but the main boy was so obnoxious and full of himself, I wanted to puke.  There was no spark between him and the main girl.  Their relationship felt completely empty to me.  Add to that a few absurd plot points, and I’ll happily recommend you avoid this one.

One of the Oscar contenders for 2013’s best film is on my overrated list: 12 Years a Slave.  I didn’t think the film was bad, but it was surprisingly dull and emotionally unmoving considering it’s a movie about slavery.  The problem is, the atrocities portrayed in the film are presented in slideshow fashion, devoid of any context other than the overarching context of American slavery itself.  You don’t really know the people being treated so poorly, and most of the time you don’t even know why they’re being punished or who is doing the punishing, so it’s just not as powerful as it could be.  I can’t help but assume that the filmmakers are letting the horrors of slavery as they already exist in the viewers’ minds do all of the work.  Like all they have to do is remind us of slavery, and of course by default, we’ll all feel like crap about it and feel sad, and then the filmmakers think they’ve made a powerful film.  It’s kind of a gimmick, I’m afraid.  Heck, even the main character is surprisingly flat.  It’s sad when a film about slavery manages to do a better job making a white slave owner into a genuine character than any of the slaves.  Do we really want the white guy to steal the show?  It’s embarrassing.  On a final note, the dialogue often felt awkward and clunky coming out of the actors’ mouths.  I almost wonder if my two-and-a-half star critique was being too generous.

And now for the film that I get the most flack for not loving: Guardians of the Galaxy.  Sorry, folks, but it was only so-so.  I didn’t laugh out loud a single time during the movie.  All of the funny parts were in the commercials (and weren’t that extremely funny to begin with).  I didn’t find the characters adequately fleshed out nor particularly likeable, and the storyline seemed less compelling than almost any other superhero movie that’s been made in the last decade or so.  A lot of time was devoted to action sequences, but they weren’t special or as visually stunning as most superhero action sequences are nowadays.  I just don’t get why this one has taken the world by storm.  But hey, it had a good soundtrack.

Now let’s talk underrated films.   Maleficent was panned by many critics.  The website Metacritic, which provides a quantified average of a movie’s critical reception, gives Maleficent a score of 56 out of 100.  Not terrible, but decidedly mediocre.  I, however, thought the film was quite good.  I’ve never before thought Angelina Jolie was a good actress, but she was a perfect fit for this one.  The movie was also very visually engaging, and there is a nice twist to the story that is so familiar to many of us.  I recommend it.

Noah wasn’t as universally panned as word-of-mouth led me to believe.  It seems all I heard of the film was that it was downright terrible.  I kind of liked it, though not wildly so.  At the very least, I found it an interesting (if not sometimes head-scratching) take on the familiar Bible story.  That being said, if you weren’t coming to the movie already incredibly aware of the Noah story, I highly doubt the film would do much for you.  I don’t think it can stand on its own merits.  You have to know the ways in which it differs from the traditional Bible story in order to find it interesting.

I managed to see The Interview a few days after it was released.  After all the hype, I had heard that it was a pretty lame film.  Thus, I was taken by surprise when I found the movie to be quite funny.  James Franco can be a bit grating to me, and I hate when actors come off as thinking they’re so cute and funny, and Franco does that.  But this was a much better film than last year’s Franco / Seth Rogan team-up, This is the End.  If you like outrageous, raunchy comedy, I think The Interview is one to see.

If I were to get slack for saying a film is underrated, it would probably be in regard to Winter’s TaleWinter’s Tale got a couple of zero star reviews and currently averages 31/100 on Metacritic.  Critics would have you believe it sucks.  Now, I’ll agree that the film is rather hokey.  But there is such an earnest and relentless romanticism to the film that it can win you over if you don’t get too cynical.  It is a love story heavy on magical and fairy tale elements, stretching across time.  Considering how easily this film could’ve gotten downright campy, I have to say that Colin Farrell and Russell Crowe both did a pretty good job.

Surprises and the Just Plain Overlooked

Woody Allen is a hit-and-miss filmmaker for me.  He gets a bit tedious, and sometimes he is downright unbearable.  For that reason, I was pleasantly surprised by 2013’s Blue Jasmine, which I’m tempted to say is one of the better Woody Allen films I’ve ever seen.  Much of the credit must be given to Cate Blanchett, who plays the lead role of Jasmine, a narcissistic socialite who falls on hard times and must rely on the generosity of her working class sister.  The subtleties of Jasmine’s psychological state—her vulnerabilities, frailties, denial, etc.—are deftly communicated by Blanchett.  By the end of the film, you’ll want to applaud her performance.

The independent film Chef doesn’t jump out on my radar as an exceptional film, but it’s one of those rare films that truly stands as little more than an ode to living passionately.  And in that regard it can be very refreshing.  Jon Favreau writes, directs, and stars as Carl, a chef who loses his job after publicly exploding at a popular online food critic.  Unsure of what to do next, Carl buys a food truck and spends the summer touring the country with his son, cooking up delicious food all along the way.  Like an overstuffed burrito, the film is bursting with joie de vivre.

I’m a big fan of the movie Once, which stars two bona fide musicians, as musicians, who play songs they really did write.  Despite its having the same writer and director, I greatly feared that the musical film Begin Again would be a huge disappointment.  A kind of cosmic sequel to Once, Begin Again is about a struggling music producer who latches onto an aspiring singer-songwriter after hearing her in a bar.  Here’s the problem: the music producer is played by Mark Ruffalo, whom I’m not too fond of; the aspiring musician is played by Keira Knightley, whom I dislike even more; and of course, Knightley isn’t really a songwriter or a musician.  All of that being said, I quite liked the film.  If you don’t compare it to Once—because that would be a big mistake and grossly unfair—Begin Again is an enjoyable film with good music.  Sure, you can tell Keira Knightley is faking it on the guitar, but this is fiction, folks.  Take it for what it’s worth.

A little-known romantic comedy released in the USA in 2014 is What If, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan as good friends who fight the inevitable urge to become something more.  Admittedly, the general setup is rather familiar, but damn if that Daniel Radcliffe doesn’t manage to be more engaging and likeable than you want him to be.  His on-screen chemistry with Kazan is believable and sweet.  There’s a surprising degree of charm here.  While I only give it three stars, I think it’s a very satisfying film and I’d recommend it.

On the more dramatic side of romance, I’d also recommend About Time.  I enjoyed this one more than expected, and although I’d only give it three stars, I think it is a real crowd-pleaser type.  In fact, that seems to be writer-director Richard Curtis’ specialty, although despite their large appeal, I usually find his films to be rather crappy.  (Last year, I deemed Curtis’ Love Actually to be among the very worst films I watched in 2013.)  If you don’t know, About Time is about a man who discovers he can rewind the clock on his own life and uses the ability in an attempt to win over the love of his life.  It’s a sweeter and more satisfying film than you’d think.

The Worst of the Worst

When it comes to films actually released in 2014, I saw only a couple that I would qualify as outright bad or worse.  One of those films is Neighbors, starring Seth Rogan and Rose Byrne as parents of a newborn who find themselves rattled when a hard-partying fraternity (led by Zach Efron) moves into the house next door.  Truth be told, I don’t know if Neighbors is objectively as bad as my reaction to it was.  I know I laughed a few times, but overall I found the film depressing.  It struck me as vulgar, immature, and unintelligent.  Now, you may wonder why that bothered me with this film and not with something like The Interview, and I’m not quite sure what to say.  For me, it’s not about how graphic or explicit something is, it’s the manner of presentation and hence the attitude that seems to come across.  For whatever reason, Neighbors didn’t sit well with me.  I was bothered by it.

Without question, however, the worst 2014 film I saw is Need for Speed.  I didn’t think the film looked very promising, but I wanted to see it because I loved Aaron Paul so much in the TV series Breaking Bad.  Unfortunately, my faith in him as an actor is nearly undermined by this piece of garbage.  In the film, Paul plays Tobey, a competitive street racer who enters an exclusive race after being released from prison for a crime he didn’t commit.  The movie is basically a two-hour car chase, and a very outlandish one at that.  It’s banal, way too long (at 132 minutes), and absolutely predictable.  The characters are trite and demonstrate an utter lack of moral responsibility throughout the entire film.  It’s absolutely terrible.

Pre-2014 movies that were stinky or worse include the following: 2010’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, whose production value—including the choreography of the fight sequences, the special effects, the cinematography, and even the editing—made me feel like I was watching an old episode of Goosebumps; Church Ball and Suits on the Loose, two of the Mormon-themed movies I’ve watched since returning to Utah because my curiosity always gets the better of me—they have terrible acting and are an embarrassment to Mormons everywhere; 2010’s Grown Ups, Adam Sandler’s virtually plotless, misogynistic, and intellectually and morally bereft “comedy” that expects us to enjoy watching several not-very-funny guys hanging out doing nothing; 2013’s G.I. Joe: Retaliation, a film that nearly makes you choke on the amount of machismo and general absurdity it possesses, such as when the character of Snake Eyes uses a fully-automatic machine gun to shoot down the Chinese stars that are thrown at him but somehow manages not to shoot anything else in the process; and 2012’s Passion, a Brian de Palma thriller about the deadly rivalry that exists between two women in the workplace—a film that is stiff, meandering, vapid, and pretentious, with a musical score to match.

The next-to-worst movie I saw in all of 2014 goes to 2008’s Speed Racer.  If your kids didn’t need Ritalin before seeing this movie, they almost certainly will afterwards.  It’s a schizophrenic, seizure-inducing mess.  I’m sure it’s trying to capture something of the original animation style—at least I hope that’s what’s happening—but I can’t help feeling like I might get in trouble for child abuse for letting my kids watch it.  It’s lobotomizing.  And the problem is, it’s not even entirely appropriate for kids, whom I can only assume are the target demographic, given the film’s rampant ADHD visual style.  For one thing, it’s just too bloody long—it’s over two hours!  For another, there is some surprisingly crass language in the film, and the violence often seems a bit too sinister for kiddos.  If Hell is a drive-in movie theater, it will be playing this and Need for Speed back to back for eternity.

As for the very, very, very worst film seen in all of 2014, and the only one to which I’d give zero stars, I now introduce 2012’s Cosmopolis.  I could just as easily have put this film in the overrated camp, as it currently has a Metacritic score of 58/100.  That’s not fantastic, but it’s way higher than it should be.  The film deserves nothingNothing, I tell you.  It is shockingly bad.  The writing, the acting, the set design, and the special effects are all absolutely atrocious.  I’m talking pinch-me-am-I-awake level bad.  Granted, I think the film is supposed to have something of a surreal quality to it, but all I can say is that it’s surreally stupid.  I can’t believe it exists.

The end.

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