Monday, January 12, 2015


There were plenty of really delightful, charming and moving cinematic moments released throughout 2014 but there were also quite a few stinkers put out there. My list of least-liked films from the previous year include some major successes that many people seemed to enjoy rather enthusiastically but they failed to generate much interest from me:


Who would think that a story about WWII soldiers trying to save valuable art stolen by the Nazis would have made a thrilling and engaging feature film? Apparently only George Clooney. The actor's heart is certainly in the right place for with his fifth directorial feature, "The Monuments Men", he wanted to remind the world that art is important and I definitely appreciate and support that idea. Sadly, Mr. Clooney couldn't find an adequate way to bring this based-on-true-events adventure to life. The film feels extremely labored with the characters flat and unimaginative. Clooney called in some big favors as his corralled a very impressive cast including Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin and Cate Blanchett but all their hard work has gone to waste in this dreary drama.


"Maleficent" may feature vivid cinematic thrills and Angelina Jolie is pure perfection as the title character but I pondered this question before seeing the film and feel even stronger afterwards; what was the point of "Maleficent"? This fantasy-drama offers a never-knew-we-needed back-story to the evil fairy from the fable, "Sleeping Beauty" and perhaps intended to shed some light on why she was so bad. We learn that Maleficent, as a young girl, was a gentle protector of the land before a cruel act of betrayal from the future king would lead her turning to the dark side. Now, I understand being upset but does that really warrant placing a pretty nasty curse that causes the death of an innocent child? Call me old-fashioned but that seems a bit extreme. I can't say I actually enjoyed this much and certainly didn't walk away with any sympathy for this character either. Anyway, "Maleficent" was one of the biggest hits of 2014, so what do I know?


Here again is another wildly popular box-office smash that many people loved yet "Interstellar" left me icy cold. To be fair, this Christopher Nolan production had me initially very intrigued with this story of a future Earth that is becoming uninhabitable. Matthew McConaughey plays a former NASA pilot drafted by a professor (Michael Caine) to go back out in to space in search of an alternative planet in order for mankind to survive. A small crew (which includes Anne Hathaway and Wes Bentley) heads out on this long, brave journey which they may never see their family and friends again. This is all fine, as I enjoyed the brilliant performances and dazzling state-of-the-art visual effects, until we come to the conclusion. This is where "Interstellar" lost me. Perhaps the convoluted ending simply went over my head (which is very possible) but regardless, it felt dubious and annoyed me greatly to have spent over two hours sitting through this.


"The Other Woman" seems like it wants to be positioned like this generation's version of a feminist comedy like the classics, "9 to 5" and "The First Wives Club". This very unfunny farce is no where near the same league. The plot wants us to go with the idea that an unsuspecting wife (Leslie Mann) would befriend the clueless mistress (Cameron Diaz) of her cheating spouse (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Then these sudden best buddies would discover a new mistress (Supermodel, Kate Upton), become good friends with her and all plot to destroy the very busy husband. The real question would be why would they all want to waste their valuable time bothering with this worthless man?  This is not positive female energy put to good use.


Michel Gondry made one of my all-time favorite films, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" over ten years ago. This French film maker's work after that amazing accomplishment has been uneven at best but his latest, "Mood Indigo" is absolutely unbearable. This surreal melodramatic drivel stars two very appealing leads, Romain Duris and Audrey Tautou, in this story about a rich playboy who falls in love with a beautiful woman. Shortly after they wed, she grows ill after a flower begins to grow in her lungs. The director litters the film with overdone visual effects that are apparently supposed to be whimsical and charming but simply grows more irritating and distracting as the film drags on. What really brings "Mood Indigo" down is a lack of actual moments involving true romance or emotions.


"Godzilla" (click on title to read review) fills the spot as last year's most unnecessary remake. The only positive thing I can say about this version is that it's an improvement over the last lame American attempt to revive the Japanese cult hero. But that's still not saying much. This new Godzilla (which turned sixty last year) has been given a nice face-lift and features some spectacular visuals however the script is really dreadful. This cast of distinguished international performers (that includes Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins and Juliette Binoche) are clearly here only for the paycheck and really look like they're struggling to make this flimsy dialogue sound even remotely persuasive.