Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Top 3 Most Disappointing Films of 2014

Magic in the Moonlight

#1  –  Magic in the Moonlight

Surprisingly, my top choice for Most Disappointing Film of 2014 is from Woody Allen, one of my favorite modern-day directors, and it wrestles the award away from the other two finishers simply because it was the only one that had the power to put me to sleep. Yes, I actually dozed off during a late-morning show, and unfortunately this event occurred during the film’s final fifteen minutes, leaving me clueless as to how things wrapped up. Not that it mattered, since I didn’t care all that much about the first eighty-five minutes, either. The story was set in the French Riviera of the 1920s, where an illusionist (Colin Firth) tried to prove that a clairvoyant (Emma Stone) was a fake; though the acting was acceptable, the story, the pacing, and the odd summertime-yellow tint were definitely not. Allen’s films have been very hit-and-miss with me lately, and this one was definitely a miss.

#2  –  The Lego Movie

Talk about over-hyped! I heard nothing but gushing praise for this thing, from newspapers and television to friends at lunch, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what the big deal was. I remember chuckling only once, for a throwaway line of dialogue, but I can’t remember what that line was, or who spoke it; the rest of the movie was nowhere near as fun or funny as I expected, and though creating a feature-length film where the characters are made up of Lego bricks is nothing to scoff at, I must say the end result was a bit of a letdown. Thank heavens I used a free pass to see it; my other choice of film that day was 3 Days to Kill, which according to what I’d read may have also been a waste of a free pass…and could’ve replaced The Lego Movie in this #2 spot.

#3  –  Into the Storm

I had high hopes for this one based solely on the preview trailer I saw, which—trust me—had plenty more excitement and tension to it than this sloooooow excuse for a weather-gone-mad thriller. More human interest story than disaster epic, this had high school kids, storm chasers, and some backwater nitwits crossing paths as a handful of deadly twisters touched down in Silverton, Oklahoma. Nary a character in sight that you could give two hoots about, but I will admit the tornado effects were pretty cool. Tellingly, I remember nothing about the plot, save for two high schoolers getting trapped in an abandoned building and a family raking leaves (or maybe twigs) at the end. Another one where I was smart enough in advance to use a free pass for admission.

And Three Others I Expected Plenty More From

The Expendables 3

The Monuments Men

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

10 comments on “Top 3 Most Disappointing Films of 2014

  1. grandrapidsgirl

    Thx for the heads-up on Walter! Can’t quite believe you saw some of those in the first place. Your sense of adventure I guess. I liked The Monuments Men “okay”, but did expect more. We had only 1 in common for ’15. Let’s pull for some better flicks in ’16. Great reviews as usual!! 🙂

    • Todd Benefiel

      You’re welcome on Walter! But I can’t say it was a bad film…just one I expected to like more than I did. And yes, I’m definitely going to see more theatrical releases in 2016…I only saw NINE in 2015 (and remember, this particular Top 3 list was for 2014!). I still have a lot of Harkins passes burning a hole in my wallet, so hopefully this coming year I’ll top 2015’s embarrassingly-low ‘movies seen’ count. Thanks as always for checking in, Julie!

  2. Deb Coy Cirillo

    Hmmm. I must agree on Expendables 3, as I know I saw it in the theater, but cannot remember the plot. Oh, wait a minute. Yes, yes, I do remember now. Someone gets kidnapped. Umm, that’s all I remember. Okay, so agreed on that miserable waste of a ticket!

    I ended up seeing The Monuments Men TWICE! Once because I wanted to see it. The last time, this past November, was for my archaeology class. Seeing this movie from the perspective of an “archaeologist”, as the teacher instructed, was much more enjoyable. To realize that one of the early archaeologists was part of this team being acted out on film made it quite a bit more interesting for me. Although I DO agree it could have been so much more. I used this IMDb resource for my essay in that class:

    Frank Stokes: “You can wipe out an entire generation, you can burn their homes to the ground and somehow they’ll still find their way back. But if you destroy their history, you destroy their achievements and it’s as if they never existed. That’s what Hitler wants and that’s exactly what we are fighting for.”

    Watching this film after seeing what had recently occurred in Syria and Iraq with the destruction of Palmyra, and the other archaeological sites in those areas, it had a much different meaning and interest for me. I didn’t intend any “political” reference. Just siting why my perspective on the film changed. As always, I enjoy your reviews and hope to see more of them in 2016!

    • Todd Benefiel

      Wait, someone got kidnapped in Expendables 3? Hmmm, I don’t remember (sarcasm alert). What I do remember, and why the film made this list, was that someone had the lame-brain idea to add a group of young punks to the proceedings; I don’t see Expendables movies for their current crop of pretty teens, but for the ’80s action heroes these films are supposed to be about in the first place.

      That’s an interesting take on The Monuments Men, and I can see where looking at it from that angle would make a difference…for me, my disappointment stemmed from expecting the story to travel in a particular direction, which it never did. And yes, I PROMISE more reviews this year than last!

  3. Stu

    I’ve only seen one of these (Magic in the Moonlight) and I didn’t care much for it either. I may watch The Lego Movie at some point but it’s not a priority for me! Thanks for your email Todd, I will reply when I get a chance in the next day or so…have been a bit busy the past few days. Happy new year to you!

    • Todd Benefiel

      Happy New Year to you too, Stu! Sorry to have been MIA for a while…trying to juggle too many things (and blogs) at once, but hopefully I’ll get caught up and back in action soon. I’m curious to hear what you think of The Lego Movie…remember, I’m one of the eight people in North American who didn’t like, so maybe you’ll have a grand time with it. It’s no Buckaroo Banzai, I’m afraid, but then again, what is?

      • Stu

        No problem, it’s hard to keep up with my hourly posts!

      • Todd Benefiel

        No kidding! I remember the glory days of Popcorn Nights, when you’d post every four or five days, and I could actually keep up. Man, that was paradise. And since we’re on the topic, I’d like to go on record by saying that posting two reviews in one day is not only cheating, but goes against the rules set forth by the INTERPOL general assembly resolution in Stockholm on September 8, 1977.

  4. Kelly Betron

    My only surprise is your addition of The Monuments Men. Perhaps my love of art and the great list of cast members endeared this film to me. I was reminded of how much I enjoyed our time together in Chicago, spent wandering the museum and viewing the breathtaking paintings and other works of art. Or, perhaps, my dear brother, you are just dumb. XO XO XO – LMD

    • Todd Benefiel

      I think your last guess was the correct one! I too was eager to check out that MM cast (I was excited about the story as well), but after watching it, I realized there were two things that kept me from loving it: the fact that the cast was splintered off into sub-teams for most of the the film (I would rather have seen them all stay together), and the ending, which just plain baffled me. There we had our team, all finally together at the end, heading into the mine to retrieve the artwork, and the Russians were on the way to intercept them for a big climactic showdown, when…the movie ended. Say WHAT!

      Trust me, it was a disappointment. I would rather have seen a movie of our trip to Chicago, where we DID have a big showdown with the Russians. But it wasn’t in a mine, but at a hockey game instead. And wait, it wasn’t a bunch of Russians, it was that girl who dumped nacho cheese on my new jacket. Yes, that would’ve made for a MUCH better movie, I think.

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