It’s that time of year again! Time to reflect on the fact because I still haven’t seen every movie I wanted to before making my top ten best of the year list (guys, seriously just have a wide release for ‘Phantom Thread’ and ‘Shape of Water’ already!) so instead I decide to end the year with a selection of the very worst 2017 had to offer. While I think there were more outstanding films in 2017 than there were last year, there were also more awful movies as well. That being said, at least this year the awful movies were interestingly terrible rather than the plethora of “meh” that dominated last year. So at the very least I have something to say about these disasters.
As per usual I have plenty of honourable mentions outside of the main top ten. Starting things off I have to mention ‘The Mummy’, the first and last instalment of the Dark Universe franchise, so it’s good thing they didn’t put any branding for said franchise in the midst of it like maybe in the opening logo of the movie because that would be REALLY EMBARESSING. Evidently director Alex Kutzman looked at the way everyone hated the sequel pandering, unresolved plotlines and gratuitous unfulfilled promises in his script for ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ and thought “I should do all of that again”. Seriously, how can someone be so blind to their past mistakes?
‘Pirates of the Caribbean: What One Are We On Now?’ was also a predictably awful mess. I suppose unlike the previous Pirate sequels this one was more depressing than frustrating given that everyone other than the filmmakers seem to know that the franchise is long past its prime. ‘Snatched’ was an awful comedy but then again it did star Amy Schumer so I suppose I only have myself to blame for expecting anything else. ‘The Circle’ felt like someone was half paying attention to an episode of ‘Black Mirror’ (in related news Season 4 is amazing, at least I’ve recommended something good in this list) and swapped out any hint of intrigue or drama for the most generic and non-threatening message about technology you could imagine. Broadcasting yourself day in day out isn’t a great idea? Well no shit movie, thanks for telling me that.
There were also a big number of movies that were bad by virtue of how dumb they were. If someone had been in a coma for the past fifteen years and the first movie they saw upon awakening was ‘xXx: Return of Xander Cage’, they would be forgiven for thinking that cinema and society as a whole had made absolutely no progress whatsoever in that time frame. Mind you, that’s still more progress than ‘Geostorm’ and ‘Happy Death Day’ could even dream of making. Then there’s ‘Jigsaw’. Obscure fact; that was a movie released earlier this year.
I also feel like ‘Justice League’ deserves a mention. Maybe it’s an easy target at this point but it was honestly quite sad to see Warner Bros clearly so desperate to make ends meet on their superhero project that they essentially edited two entirely different films together, twice. ‘Bright’ was also something I wouldn’t want to inflict upon myself again, as was ‘Woodshock’. Finally we have ‘All Eyez on Me’, ‘Blind’, and ‘Unforgettable’, all of which were what I can only assume were Lifetime original movies that accidentally got a cinema release.
Biggest Disappointment – The Snowman
Though there were plenty of contenders for this spot including ‘The Bad Batch’, ‘Song to Song’, ‘Suburbicon’, and ‘Downsizing’. But nothing beats the colossal let down that was ‘The Snowman’. A cast and director this talented should not, even on their worst day, be capable of delivering a film as awful as this, and yet here it is to prove me wrong. It’s thriller than lacks any sense of tension, development or intrigue. The characters are as stale and underwritten as the central mystery, which is almost incoherent due to how the film has obviously been hacked to death in the editing room. There really isn’t any redeeming quality to it and I can’t for the life of me imagine why anyone would want to revisit it.
10: The Only Living Boy in New York
I had hoped that Mark Webb’s return to indie roots might yield some positive results after his disastrous turn at helming the ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ franchise, but somehow he managed to create something even worse than that. Whether it’s aiming to be a quirky take on romance of just a male fantasy, there’s nothing entertaining to be found in this movie. The characters are so shallow and unlikable that I defy anyone to genuinely care for the outcome of the events surrounding them. The plot doesn’t contain an ounce of anything that I would describe as intriguing or surprising. There’s no hint of visual flair to be found in the film. I saw just a few months ago but I’m struggling to remember anything about it.
That being said, when it comes to boring, nothing beats the remake of the 1990 science fiction film about a group of medical students try to stop their hearts for as long as possible before reviving themselves. As a horror movie it lacks any sense of fear, dread or anything even remotely interesting. It squanders a talented cast and interesting premise in favour of partaking in the most mind numbing horror clichés you can imagine. It falls flat on almost every conceivable level, mentioning a vague philosophical theme every now and then only to completely ignore it in favour of more stupidity.
8: Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
The only saving grace of this movie is that it’s title may actually be accurate, in which case we can be thankful that this is the final instalment of this franchise. I can’t get over how horrifically edited and directed this film is. There’s almost no cohesion to the way each shot leads into the next and some seem so quick that I swear they only used half a frame of footage to fill. The colour palette is a flat shade of nothingness and the CGI is an ugly mess that looks as if it was composited with a copy and paste programme. There’s one scene in particular, in which Mila Jovovich falls down an air vent and the way it’s filmed leads to belie that director Paul WS Anderson’s method of shooting was to throw the camera down the vent and just use the raw footage of that in the final product.
7: The Book of Henry
Some movies just have creative decisions that are so baffling I almost want to recommend them, just to experience the insanity first hand. This year, that movie is ‘The Boom of Henry’, Colin Treverrow’s …something. In all seriousness I do have an inkling of what Treverrow was trying to accomplish. I think he wanted to both pay homage and deconstruct the children’s adventure films of the 1980s, movies that placed young characters in scenarios that would be ridiculously implausible in any realm of reality. The problem is that Treverrow is so tone deaf that his creative decisions feel more like sincere attempts at drama rather than knowing winks, and his flat visual style, simplistic characters and muddled screenplay don’t help either.
6: Death Note
I’ll give Adam Winguard’s ‘Death Note’ this, I heard enough people hating on it while expressing love for the anime it was based on that I decided to check out the source material. The end result is that I hate this film even more for the disservice it does. I understand that adaptations have to be different, but those creative differences have to make sense. Thinking you can improve the original ‘Death Note’ by adding a cheesy 80s soundtrack, contrived teenage drama and ‘Final Destination’ style deaths shows a colossal misunderstanding of why your source works to say the least. It doesn’t work as an adaptation nor does it work as a standalone project with its total lack of atmosphere, terrible editing and characters so idiotic that they would be dead by the end of the first episode of the anime.
I think a lot of people have forgotten about ‘Rings’ this year, and I can’t say I blame them as it’s a human tendency to block out major trauma. It swaps the genuine terror and dread of Gore Verbinski’s ‘The Ring’ for cheap jump scares and a convoluted origin story that no one ever asked for. The characters are utterly flat and lifeless, as is the visual style of the movie. But what might be worst of all is the sheer desperation the filmmakers have to convince the audience they’re watching something scare. From the awful quick edits to the laughably terrible sound effects, ‘Rings’ isn’t even worth the effort to complain about it.
4: Transformers: The Last Knight
A story that’s derivative of its predecessors, characters that are completely unengaging as well as idiotic in their actions, a narrative that is nonsensical filled with too many plot holes to count, editing that seems content to only ever show you a single angle of a fight sequence in close-up rather than change its visual style at any moment, action scenes that are bland and unimaginative, blatantly plagiarising an element that you would find in any successful blockbuster of the past few years from that visual cues of ‘Star Wars’ to car chases from ‘Fast and Furious’, failing at technical aspects that you would think are listed as one of the most fundamental basics of filmmaking. All this and more, and it’s not even the worst of the franchise.
3: Fifty Shades Darker
Though it’s a terrible film, I can at least understand the bare curiosity that drew audiences to see ’50 Shades of Grey’. But for the life of me I can’t comprehend what compelled anyone to see the sequel. An abomination of cheap tactics that throws so many subplots at the audience in the span of such a short runtime it verges on parody (there’s a whole helicopter crash in this movie that’s instigates, occurs and resolves itself in the space of ten minutes). I also defy anyone to find a romantic couple who share less chemistry than Blank Slate #1 and Blank Slate #2 (I’m inclined to think that they have names but I’m sure that’s just my memory serving me wrong), if anything they looked like they hated every minute of it. Well at least someone knows how I felt.
2: The Bye Bye Man
There’s no avoiding it. It’s terrible, terrible in ways you won’t even comprehend. The level of incompetence within ‘The Bye Bya Man’ almost defies belief. Even the most basic components of filmmaking, such as lighting, camera angles, staging and location all seem so horribly off. There seems to be no limit to its incompetence as it seeps into every solitary aspect of the film and all of this is simply on a technical level. When you take into account how pitifully uneventful the film is, with each boring section only punctuated by the occasional outburst of bloodless violence it becomes even worse. From a quality standpoint ‘The Bye Bye Man’ is the worst film of the year, but it’s not as loathsome as my choice for the top spot.
1: The Emoji Movie
I don’t think anything cinema has ever produced comes close to the cynicism, laziness and contempt for your own audience than ‘The Emoji Movie’. Maybe that’s an exaggeration but the fact is that this is not a film. It’s a commercial that likes to think of itself as a movie. When brand recognition is your main priority in a movie, to an extent that you actively boast about how little you care for plot, character, humour, tone, quality of animation or anything remotely connected to the artistry of cinema, you get this. It’s bad enough that it’s an advert trying to cash in on trends, but what makes it worse is that the film is populated with the trends a studio executive thought was popular three years ago (and if an executive thinks they’re popular then they’re already three additional years out of date anyway) so by now that they’re eye-roll inducing just by mention. It’s an anti-comedy, an anti-movie. Something so devoid of any attempt at artistic merit or worthwhile filmmaking that it would be more enjoyably if you view it as a tragedy.