The Ten Worst Sci-Fi Movies of 2014
Sometimes, sci-fi movies can be philosophical ruminations on what it means to be human, or politically charged dystopias that uncover parallel cracks in real-life societal structure. And sometimes, they're made by Michael Bay. Here are the ten worst sci-fi movies of 2014, from failed YA adaptation to cash-grubbing sequels to evangelical lectures:
[Credit: The Weinstein Company]
Taken on its own, The Giver was just barely bad enough to make it onto this list. But it deserves inclusion because the source material is a classic, subversive young adult novel that is miles ahead of most children's literature when it comes to thoughtfulness and nuance. The generic, normalizing treatment of the novel squandered all of the moral ambiguity that made the book so great, and then they didn't even add enough action for it to be a respectable Hunger Games wannabe. In short, this movie had nothing to offer anyone.
I'm a big fan of the cast of this movie, from mainstream heavy hitters like Gary Oldman and Michael Keaton to nerd picks like The Killing's Joel Kinnaman and Watchmen's Jackie Earle Haley. I really wanted this remake to be good (or, more realistically, halfway decent), but predictably, the cast was the only good thing about it. It lost all of the satirical edge of the original, and was hampered in its action by trying to retain a PG-13 rating, so wasn't even enough fun to justify its existence.
[Credit: Universal Pictures]
Luc Besson's 'Lucy' was touted by many as the triumphant return to the genre of science fiction for 'Fifth Element' director, Luc Besson. Instead, it ended up being 90 minutes of baseless drivel that wastes the talents of its cast on repeating the silliest lie in all of neuroscience over and over again. We could have looked past scientific inaccuracies on their own, but Besson somehow managed to make Scarlett Johansson shooting people seem mind-numbingly boring. Between the ludicrous premise and that god-awful ending, Lucy had essentially nothing to offer the audience.
[Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures]
We had high hopes for Transcendence, which was the directorial debut of Wally Pfister, the cinematographer on modern classics like The Dark Knight and Inception. Plus, it boasted acting talent like Johnny Depp and Rebecca Hall, and its AI storyline seemed intriguing, if not entirely original. But unfortunately, Pfister's distinctive visual style was the only thing the film really had to recommend it, as the script was an illogical mess that talked about a lot of ideas and ultimately said nothing about them.
[Credit: Abduction Films]
We've had a roller coaster relationship with Extraterrestrial. When we first heard of this movie, and saw the trailer that included some fun anal probing, we were not enthused. Then, we heard rumblings that it was supposed to be over the top, as it was a satire of cheesy abduction movies, so we were tentatively optimistic. But, as it turns out, it didn't have a satirical bone in its body, it was just so terribly cliched that people started to assume it was a satire. Good show, guys.
[Credit: Paramount Pictures]
I can just imagine the conversation when the studio decided to make this movie. "Sure, live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are creepy as hell, and we don't actually have a story to speak of, or anyone on board with any sense of comedic timing. Do you know who would really help the proceedings? Megan Fox."
A poor man's Underworld, which would make you really freaking poor.
Atlas Shrugged: Part III
[Credit: Atlas Distribution Company]
Love her or hate her, Ayn Rand is a genius (in her own special, insane way). Her philosophy is interesting, and could potentially spark fascinating discussion in popular culture. So it's a shame that the Atlas Shrugged trilogy is so badly written, acted, and filmed that absolutely no one cares about it. The first film got an 11% on Rotten Tomatoes, and they've somehow only gone downhill from there, with the third installment holding the relatively rare distinction of getting a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes.
[Credit: Freestyle Releasing]
You know you're in trouble when you're remaking a movie that starred Growing Pains actor-turned-scary-evangelical Kirk Cameron, and when your current cast includes "that guy from One Tree Hill," "that girl who won American Idol that time," and Nicolas Cage phoning it in even more than usual. That being said, can we talk about how awesome this poster is? The poster itself is terrible, God(!) knows what the marketing team was thinking with this random shot of a parking lot that says nothing about the movie, but that quote from Satan is hilarious. If the person who wrote that tagline intended it to be self-aware, then he or she is a genius, and if someone actually brought their atheist friend to this movie because of that tagline, then I can die happy.
Transformers: Age of Extinction
[Credit: Paramount Pictures]
Like all the Transformers movies, Age of Extinction was just terrible. Not only was it typical Michael Bay exploding-things-while-beautiful-woman-washes-a-car formula, but it couldn't even get the action right. The set pieces were filmed in a way that you couldn't even tell what was going on, and after all that hubbub about the dinobots, they only show up for five minutes. And then there's the product placement and the shameless catering to international audiences. As Honest Trailers put it, the movie should have been called Transformers: Welcome to China.
But the worst part about the film was that, in a franchise that never once paid lip service to logic before, the script goes to unheard-of lengths to find a gross "loophole" in the law that allows Michael Bay to portray an older man having sex with an underage girl. He probably did more research for that one scene that cited arcane sex laws than he did for all of the Transformers movies combined, just so he could objectify yet another young girl (and they just keep getting younger, don't they?). To be fair, I'm sure there was more to enjoy in this film than there was in Atlas Shrugged or Left Behind. But Transformers takes the top spot because it's not only a terrible movie, but it actively makes the world a more terrible place.
Cheesy, utterly safe, and adapted from a novel series that is really just an uninspired mixture of Hunger Games and Harry Potter, Divergent was laughably conventional considering its self-aggrandizing message about nonconformity. That being said, that is a very positive and resonant message to send to young teens, and the genuine chemistry between the leads ensures that it is at least a passable film for the target demographic.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and 300: Rise of an Empire
[Credit: Dimension Films]
These two films had a lot in common. They were both sequels to films that were groundbreaking in some way, they both failed to live up to their predecessors, and they were both somewhat saved by a standout performance from star Eva Green.