Recently I was thinking about some of the disappointments and failed blockbusters we’ve seen in 2014, and I couldn’t help but land on 300: Rise Of An Empire as the worst of the bunch. Granted, it always looked like it would be terrible, and attempting 300 without Gerard Butler (not to mention the novelty of the original) was probably just a bad idea. But I held out hope… and ended up bitterly disappointed.
Reflecting on this led me to some of the other action and adventure flops of the past decade or so, and I realized there’s quite a few to talk about. So in honor of 2014’s generally having been a down year in movies, and having delivered more than one horrific action epic, here’s a look back at the five worst action films of the past decade (not counting the 300 sequel, because I already covered that).
5. A Good Day To Die Hard
Here’s the most valuable lesson Hollywood could possibly learn: sometimes something that initially sounds like a good idea sounds like a bad idea after 12 seconds of reflection. Case in point: “Let’s make another Die Hard sequel!” Sounds awesome. Then you remember that the original Die Hard was the ultimate ’80s action flick, and that Bruce Willis has been mailing it in for years now. Well, apparently Hollywood didn’t have those 12 seconds. Either that or they were paying more attention to projections for foreign box office totals, which according to Box Office Mojo helped this travesty reach $304 million and change in total revenue. Sometimes I hate our world.
This movie had a generic plot (undercover agents in Russia! Guns!), a miserable and clumsy script, and an absolutely horrendous performance from alleged up-and-comer Jai Courtney, who plays John McClane’s estranged son. A year after seeing it, my main memory is Courtney sneering “John!” every time he addressed his father, relentlessly assaulting the audience with the idea that he hates his father so much he won’t even call him “Dad.” And yes… he eventually calls him “Dad.”
This was a 2007 adaptation of one of the most famous works of literature in existence, which also happens to read like a comic book action epic, featuring Ray Winstone and Anthony Hopkins (both indisputably awesome) as ancient viking-warlord-type-people. And I can’t remember a single scene from it. That’s a huge problem for a movie that should have broken some barriers and made a statement in the action epic genre. Less than a decade later, very little evidence remains that this film ever existed.
In fact, were it not for a couple of games, there would be no evidence. There is a Beowulf-themed game at Intercasino, which is an interesting place for it given that so much of Beowulf is about treasure troves (I think… as I said, I don’t really remember). You can’t rob a viking stronghold, but the slot game helps the characters and image of Beowulf to endure at least a little bit. There was also a Beowulf Playstation game that IGN gave 4/10 stars, which means it was pretty bad—but not quite as bad as the movie.
3. X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Why was this movie supposed to be awesome? We’ll brush aside the fact that it deals with the origin story (I got that much from the title) for one of Marvel’s most popular superheroes. Instead, just take a look at the cast. Hugh Jackman speaks for himself. Liev Schreiber is generally regarded as successfully badass without being ridiculous. Taylor Kitsch, at the time, was the most popular character on Friday Night Lights (you might know him as Tim Riggins). And Ryan Reynolds was, well… a guilty pleasure. I just can’t get past the charming ease with which he cracked everyone up in Van Wilder.
Really, I keep hoping for a breakthrough—and actually, I”m not the only one. Just this year, Moviefone suggested Reynolds as a candidate for a Matthew McConaughey-like career shift. But, I digress. The point is, it was a promising cast that delivered a really, really, really bad movie. The rustic, I-can-fight-in-the-woods-and-take-a-hit-ness of its central characters just went a few notches too far, and it was ultimately a completely unnecessary addition to the X-Men film saga.
2. Quantam Of Solace
I could argue that the entertainment community has never done anyone a bigger favor than they did for Daniel Craig in apparently deciding to pretend Quantam Of Solace never happened. Seriously, it’s like we skipped right from Casino Royale to Skyfall. And you know what? That’s a better world, and that’s how bad this movie was. Let’s just skip it. It totally never happened.
1. Spider-Man 3
This horrible tragedy occurred back in 2007, and I’m still tossing and turning. I’m not even a superhero nut or comic nerd, but the first two Spider-Man movies were at least pretty good. As odd as this may sound, back then there weren’t 10,000 superhero movies a year to choose from. Spider-Man 3 was a big deal. It also may have been the single worst movie to hit theaters this millennium.
I don’t really know where to begin, but the scene in which Peter Parker randomly went emo and then strolled down the street like a goober pretty much sealed the deal. And regarding this film, and Tobey Maguire’s portrayal of Parker, this whole story just got a little bit weirder. According to International Business Times, leaked files from the infamous Sony hack reveal that if Sony successfully acquires the new Spider-Man franchise—the one starring Andrew Garfield—it may kick Garfield out, and it may even bring Maguire back. I just don’t know anymore.