Alibi V.24 No.1 • Jan 1-7, 2015 

Reel World

Saving Christmas

The Worst Films of 2014

Saving Christmas—Hampered by slim budgets and dogmatic stories, “faith-based” films often end up with a few less-than-professional offerings each year. The worst of 2014 was this shoddy Kirk Cameron ego trip. It’s hard to imagine even Christian fanatics embracing this awful paean to consumerism. The film features an animated opening sequence, a climactic dance number and a blooper reel, and it still only times out to 80 minutes—most of which is spent watching Cameron sit in the front seat of an SUV and lecture someone about how everything (Santa, Christmas trees, gift cards, Elf on the Shelf) is related to Jesus. It’s less about the “War on Christmas” and more about how Christians who aren’t Kirk Cameron suck at Christmas.

Left Behind—How bad does your career have to be to pick up scraps left over from Kirk Cameron? Just ask Nicolas Cage, who starred in this remake of Cameron’s 14-year-old Rapture thriller. Is it possible Cameron’s cheapjack 2000 version is actually more exciting than this dull-as-dirt reboot, in which stupid people stand around trying to figure out why all the good Christians have suddenly vanished. (Was it terrorists? It was probably terrorists.) The filmmakers stripped away most of the religious references, leaving behind a sermon aimed at no one.

I, Frankenstein—Plenty of movies these days look like video games. But this nonstop special effects sequence didn’t bother with anything resembling plot or character or visual coherence. It’s just one big blur of monsters flying around a sexy Frankenstein (Aaron Eckhart). Hopefully it’s the last time I have to use the words “sexy Frankenstein.”

Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return—This downright ugly 3D cartoon out of Mumbai vanished without a trace at the box office. Just as well. It’s a tedious, humorless sequel that felt more like a knockoff you’d find at the dollar store. You should have stayed in Kansas, Dorothy.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2—It took the original Batman franchise three films to become this much of a bloated self-parody. Points for efficiency.

OuijaBoardgame-turned-movie Battleship now seems like a wellspring of storytelling inspiration after Hasbro turned to a folded piece of cardboard you ask questions of for its latest adaptation. The usual, jittery, handheld camera wasn’t enough to cover up for the lack of budget and anemic jump scares.

Transformers: Age of Extinction—It’s hard to say a franchise that started out as mindless, cacophonous and overinflated as Transformers has gotten out of hand. But holy cow, this is 165 minutes’ worth of CGI-choked confusion.

Blended—The third time is not the charm for the Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore team-up. Sandler basically admitted this laughless, rom-com rip-off of “The Brady Bunch” was an excuse to score a free vacation to Africa. It looked like it.

Need for Speed—Video game movies don’t exactly have a solid track record (Super Mario Bros., Street Fighter, Double Dragon, Silent Hill, Doom). But this video game (about driving cars) turned into a movie (about driving cars) was completely preposterous. That’s OK. We still love you, Aaron Paul.

Winter’s Tale—Allegedly, Mark Helprin’s original novel is great. But if you didn’t read the book, you probably had no idea what was going on in this frustratingly vague, New York-set fantasy about undying burglars, sickly heiresses, flying horses and a satanic Will Smith.