While there were a number of memorable films that were released in 2017, there were also a number of films that made us roll our eyes.
Like the state of today’s current events, we can only endure and go up from here, so what better way to start a series of lists reflecting on the year in movies that was 2017 than with the movies that scraped the bottom of the barrel? Since joining the writing staff for this website, I had the opportunity to see more movies than ever this year, and a good handful of them were far than perfect. From unnecessary sequels and remakes to soulless cashgrabs and misguided efforts, these are my choices for the ten worst movies of 2017:
Dishonorable Mentions: Ghost in the Shell, Downsizing, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, My Entire High School Sinking Into The Sea, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
10. Beauty and the Beast (dir. Bill Condon)
Until a certain other one of its properties overtook it, Disney’s live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast was the highest-grossing movie of 2017, and it was hard to comprehend how audiences could feel any form of positive nostalgia for something that was made so lazily; the sets look artificial, the actors go through the motions, and it feels like the director’s only there to be sure the actors watch the cartoon and replicate the feelings of each character. This version of Beauty and the Beast also doesn’t spend any time on the emotional beats of the story, and the wonder and stakes of the 1991 animated classic are absent. The only new additions this movie adds to the timeless story are a tacked-on backstory to the character of Belle and a clichéd backstory to the Beast, which is showcased in one of two new songs that add nothing but more minutes to the film’s already bloated runtime.
9. Suburbicon (dir. George Clooney)
The Coen Brothers teaming up with director George Clooney to write a dark comedy set in 1950s suburbia sounds like a match made in heaven, doesn’t it? It certainly looked like it when the trailer played before every movie in the summertime. Sadly, what was sold as a high-energy dark comedy about a bumbling fool getting mixed up with the Mafia turned out to be a dull, unfocused slog of a movie set in the fictional town of Suburbicon, where its predominantly white citizens are in an uproar over an African-American family moving into their community, but completely unaware of Matt Damon’s 1950s archetypal breadwinner character trying to get away with the staged murder of his wife to collect her life insurance policy. Devoid of characters to like or humor of any kind, Suburbicon is a movie that never knows what it wants to be, has a head-scratching final shot, and is a huge step backward for Clooney as a director.
8. The Snowman (dir. Tomas Alfredson)
This is a movie that put together everything necessary to make the next great detective thriller based on a best-selling source material: an accomplished director in Tomas Alfredson, a very attractive cast, and Martin Scorsese serving as an executive producer. . .but then Universal Studios got so desperate for another franchise, they rushed production to the point where there wasn’t enough time to shoot 15% of the final script. At this point in his career, Fassbender has become a master of performing well with the material he’s been given, but he doesn’t save a movie that is flat and lifeless throughout complete with an ugly, washed out color scheme, rapid, incoherent editing, characters with no personality or chemistry, and an un-engaging plot that somehow gets more incomprehensible as it goes along. It says a lot about the quality of a movie when the funniest thing about it is the name of its protagonist.
7. Daddy’s Home 2 (dir. Sean Anders)
Despite uneven direction and inconsistent slapstick, the first Daddy’s Home was elevated by good on-screen chemistry and banter from Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. Rather than building a movie around that, Daddy’s Home 2 decided to make itself too difficult and too annoying to follow by adding more subplots and more characters that have been restricted to one characteristic. The large ensemble cast phones in their performances while the quips between Ferrell and Wahlberg have no weight to them because everyone would rather throw every joke they have at the wall to see what sticks and put Will Ferrell through all kinds of unfunny, CGI-laden set pieces of physical comedy instead of telling a cohesive story. Ferrell and company’s shtick was funny ten years ago, but if it wasn’t stale after Semi-Pro, it’s insufferable now.
6. Wish Upon (dir. John R. Leonetti)
It’s certainly a tragedy when a production company shuts down, but Broad Green Pictures went out with a poor slate of films under their belt in 2017, the worst of them being Wish Upon: a movie so boring, tone-deaf and poorly directed, that more often than not borders on unintentional comedy rather than horror. A teenage girl named Clare (Joey King) comes into possession of a magic box that kills someone close to her after every wish she makes. It portrays high school teenagers as self-absorbed and obsessed with their phones in the most cartoonish of ways, the performances range from wooden to over-the-top, and the film’s sluggish pace only makes the absurdities of its plot stand out to the point of hilarity, from Clare’s hunky crush-turned-stalker to Ryan Phillippe as her father who dumpster dives for a living. That’s not an exaggeration.
5. The Emoji Movie (dir. Tony Leondis)
There isn’t much to say about The Emoji Movie that hasn’t already been said. Granted, it’s not the sign of the apocalypse that the majority of critics consider it to be because empty, soulless cashgrabs like this come out every year. But The Emoji Movie is still just that: a hollow, insipid ripoff of a hodgepodge of other, better animated films that’s trying to break the bank on a contemporary fad, and it shows through and through with characters with one-note personalities, terrible dialogue (one character literally says ‘Hashtag Truth’ out loud), and a story practically driven by product placement, along with lazy attempts at self-referential humor and jokes centered around the apps the characters visit but the jokes have no depth to them other than, ‘The poop emoji just made a joke about himself! Get it???’ It would be an interesting experiment to put a copy of this in a time capsule, but by the time someone’s dug up, and watched this movie, it would be considered the future generation’s Ark of the Covenant.
4. Geostorm (dir. Dane Devlin)
Between him and Roland Emmerich, it’s no secret that Dean Devlin has been the less successful half of the writing team behind Independence Day, but that didn’t stop him from directing Geostorm in 2014. However, after the first cut was reportedly so terrible, Warner Bros. turned to producer Jerry Bruckheimer in hopes of salvaging it into something halfway decent, reshooting more than half the movie with Gerard Butler in the lead role. Sadly, Butler is hard to buy as a scientist tasked to save the world from a system of weather-controlling satellites gone rogue, as is Jim Sturgess as his brother, because the two of them are devoid of any chemistry. It’s also hard to get any entertainment in the ironic fashion out of it because the first two-thirds of the film spends more time on a political conspiracy subplot that’s so predictable, once it’s figured out, there’s enough time to attempt to untangle the convolutedness of how there could be a race against time in order to prevent the cataclysmic ‘geostorm’ from happening. . .when it already began sporadically at the end of the first act. And that’s without even mentioning the terrible CGI.
3. The Dark Tower (dir. Nikolaj Arcel)
You don’t have to have read one or all of the books in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series to know this film adaptation is an outright failure in every facet. For those hoping The Dark Tower would at least contain a shred of depth or a complex idea to serve as a gateway to the iconic books, it’s sadly devoid of wonder and imagination of any kind, and ends up being just another drab, by-the-numbers blockbuster with another skypocalypse for a climax. The Man in Black was advertised as a sorcerer worse than the devil, but what he does in the film is so generic just for a telekinetic villain, with Matthew McConaughey even sleepwalking through the role. On top of that, the acting from everyone across the board is flat and wooden, and it’s headache inducing to attempt to get invested in the one-dimensional characters of Jake Chambers and even the Gunslinger, whose creed sounds cool but there’s no substance behind it. It’s an absolute slog, and even the callbacks to the numerous stories in King’s work feel tacked on.
2. The Greatest Showman (dir. Michael Gracey)
The previous films on this list may have been poorly made but they weren’t offensively bad, and The Greatest Showman is the first film on this list to be just that, primarily through how it focuses on the banal, sentimental themes of following your dreams, the importance of family, and being yourself, and being so melodramatic and cloying with them to the nth degree, that absolutely nothing about it feels real or genuine. The Greatest Showman is all over the place with its pacing, both in terms of film editing and song structure, and while it does address how P.T. Barnum exploited the sideshow acts into joining the circus, it’s brushed off seconds later by a line based on a cliché. Usually, the dance choreography and elaborate set designs are the saving graces of a musical film, but here, the dance choreography is tainted by bad CGI effects that robs the musical numbers of any sort of beauty, while the sets aimed for a heightened sense of reality with colors that stand out, only to end up looking like something Lisa Frank designed while hungover. After the news of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus closing after 100 years of operation, this could have been a timely celebration of the circus and what it did as the original show business. Instead, The Greatest Showman elected to be a melodramatic, artificial biopic that exists.
1. Dark Night (dir. Tim Sutton)
Dark Night wasn’t released in many theaters for a number of reasons, but a reasonable one is the subject matter the film tries to tackle is too heavy for a mainstream audience. It follows six strangers in a Florida suburb up to where their lives intersect at a movie theater, where a massacre takes place inspired by the tragic theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado. Dark Night aims to be Elephant but in a movie theater, but it’s unfocused on what it wants to be. It starts out by telling its non-existent story in a mockumentary format and only goes back to it four or five times while encouraging the viewer to guess which of its non-characters is the shooter, but like the points it wants to make, it’s really clear who it is after the first ten minutes. So instead of introducing us to characters with personalities and struggles, Dark Night spends the rest of its 85-minute runtime on static shots of the non-actors involved portraying psychology-free stereotypes of department store employees…and skateboarders…and teenage girls taking selfies…who dye their hair orange…..and record videos of themselves working out.…and walk across front lawns with assault rifles in hand. It might have been a lot better as a short film, but as a feature, Dark Night grasps at straws with a message that ranges from inconsistent to heavy-handed, and is an insulting exercise in tasteless pretension.
Side note: This has the honor of a memorable theater experience for all the wrong reasons: when it started, there were five people in the audience, and by the halfway mark, I was the only one left.