Home > Lists, Reviews > 2017 IN REVIEW – The Worst Films of the Year

2017 IN REVIEW – The Worst Films of the Year

They can’t all be winners, and, as with any year, 2017 had some real stinkers. For the most part, I actually tried avoiding a lot of some of the apparent worst, but a few managed to either slip by me or, God help me, I sought them out just out of morbid curiosity.

The movies below are listed according to an admittedly somewhat arbitrary order based on gut instinct and memory, but while some of these may shift around a bit over time and even from day to day, you can bet these are all pretty terrible, with the top contenders being… well, some of the worst movies of 2017.

  1. Phoenix Forgotten                 4/21/17                44%

Inspired by the real March 13, 1997 appearance of mysterious lights flying over the city of Phoenix, Arizona, Phoenix Forgotten is part faux-documentary, part found-footage sci-fi/horror about three teenagers who head out into the Arizona desert in order to capture footage of real UFOs and never returning home. It’s actually a novel concept, both in execution and subject matter, but the decision to end the film by suddenly just focusing on the found footage rather than treat the documentary portion as a wraparound for its narrative is a detriment to an otherwise promising film. The result is instead two half-baked halves that feel unfinished and meandering in their own right, with the documentary portion, helmed by the now-grown younger sister of one of the disappeared teenagers who led the expedition, is left without much resolution. This is perhaps a bid to sell the supposed reality of the film’s narrative rather than tie it up in a tidy bow in the end like a real movie, but, of course, plenty of real documentaries do have conclusive, satisfying ends to the narrative they tell, and I don’t see why Phoenix Forgotten couldn’t have emulated this as a result. You can easily forgive this low budget movie’s expectedly mediocre effects, but there’s just no getting around the frustration of knowing footage is already in the film and could’ve easily been rearranged to get a much more satisfying film without breaking the bank.

  1. The Great Wall                 2/06/17                 36%

Zhang Yimou is probably one of the most well-known and well-respected Chinese filmmakers internationally, having brought the world classics like Raise the Red Lantern, Hero, and House of Flying Daggers, so it makes sense that he was chosen to also direct this Chinese-U.S.-made coproduction starring Matt Damon, Jing Tian, Andy Lau, Pedro Pascal, and Willem Dafoe. Taking place during the 11th century, The Great Wall has two European mercenaries, William and Pero (Damon, Pascal), traveling to China in search of gunpowder, only to find themselves caught up in a conflict between the nation of China and monsters that emerge from the earth to terrorize them every sixty years, the Great Wall standing as the primary defensive artifice against the hordes of creatures. The mercenaries are taken in by the army stationed at the Wall, having inadvertently proven themselves to be capable of taking the creatures on by themselves, and while aiding them in their fight, a relationship also begins between William and Commander Lin Mae (Jing), complicated by his original mission to steal the gunpowder.

It’s a reasonably decent setup for a flick, and, at times, The Great Wall recalls a lot of the majesty of Yimou’s other action films – there are some impressive concepts like soldiers bungie-ing off the wall and slicing up monsters and plenty of colorful, fanciful costume designs to fill up the screen – but it seems like a lot of the artistry and subtlety has been removed from the equation. The William and Pero feel like your prototypical cocky action buddies, and their combination with the more stoic Chinese characters feels more like a clash of cultures than a successful fusion. The greatest weakness, though, are the unimaginative and one-note lizard monsters, who all look and do the same thing and share the same common weakness you’ve seen countless other times when characters are facing a threat with a hive mind. I don’t like comparing movies to video games, usually, but watching The Great Wall was much like watching someone mindlessly mash buttons while playing Dynasty Warriors with a lot of cutscenes thrown in.

  1. The Book of Henry                 6/16/17                 20%

This movie has almost become notorious for how batshit insane its plot is, not to mention how it caused seemingly on the rise director Colin Trevorrow to suddenly fall from grace. A genius child, Henry, is basically running the household of his secretly rich waitress mother and discovers that his girl next door crush is being molested by her father, a fact that keeps being overlooked, ignored, or even covered up by the adults in his life. This pushes him over the edge, and he begins to hatch a plan, but not before further complications arise – SPOILER ALERT – such as when Henry dies from a brain tumor, thus pushing his irresponsible mother to contemplate carrying out her son’s plot to kill the girl’s abusive father, as laid out in the book and recordings Henry left behind.

Yeah, the plot is really that nuts, and I can certainly see why some have selected it as worst movie of the year. For me, it’s actually too well acted but also too unintentionally hilarious to rank that high on my list. That doesn’t stop the fact that this film is a disaster, however. Moments heart-warming, heart-wrenching, heart-stopping, and all other manners of unsubtle heart-manipulation are haphazardly thrown at the audience in an effort to make them care about these characters, which is really hard to do when the girl at the center of the story is basically an object, the little brother an annoying sidekick, the villain almost faceless if not for the fact that he’s played by Breaking Bad’s Dean Norris, and your choice of heroes – Henry and his mother, Susan – are either spending the movie being a mostly judgmental asshole (Henry) or lacking in any volition and responsibility in their own life (Susan). Sure, the latter is part of the character’s development, but the framework for Susan’s developing volition is so absurd, and the change comes so late and so suddenly, that one could hardly care about it in light of everything else. If anything, though, The Book of Henry is so ridiculous, you could easily make a fun bad movie night of it.

  1. Rough Night                 6/16/17                 45%

You cannot, ironically, make a bad movie night out of Rough Night, arguably the worst of the women behaving badly movies that came out in 2017, neither of the others appearing on this list. This story about college friends reuniting for a bachelorette party and winding up dealing with a stripper they accidentally kill is surprisingly light on laughs, despite the star power of Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer, and Zoë Kravitz.

Like the superior Girls Trip, the film suffers from a cast of characters who at least in part have easily summarized and often ideal dream jobs – politician, real estate agent, quirky activist, teacher – making them feel artificial, and they coast off the richer characters’ money throughout the night without much worry. Unlike with Girls Trip, there’s very little else in the plot and to these characters to drive the story forward beyond partying leading to a situation and trying to solve it together. That a politician is involved is meant to raise the stakes, but it hardly feels consequential, and I doubt anything would have changed for the audience had Johansson’s character been a chef with a restaurant opening up soon rather than a senatorial candidate with a campaign to run.

Worst of all, however, is just that I didn’t find the movie all that funny, apart from maybe the reliable McKinnon’s oddball, outsider Australian friend, but even that schtick started to wear itself out. As does the joke about the horny couple next door to the house where this movie largely plays out. As does the other subplot about a misunderstanding when Johansson’s more sensitive fiancé misunderstands an abruptly ended phone call and sets out to win her back. And by the time the big plot twist is revealed, you’ll likely be ready for the movie to just bash your head into a fireplace to end it all, too.

  1. Fist Fight                 2/17/17                 26%

Oh, I actually really wanted to like this one, but it just doesn’t get to where it wants to be. Seemingly taking place in an alternate universe where it’s mostly acceptable for teachers to openly threaten students and each other and destroy school property in the process, Fist Fight is about a conflict that arises between the diminutive English teacher Andy Campbell mistakenly gets the hyper-strict and short-tempered History teacher Ron Strickland fired. Pissed, the intimidating Ron challenges Andy to a fight after school, something that evidently everyone is kinda looking forward to seeing, regardless of whether they’re on Andy’s side or not. The rest of the movie is basically dealing with the consequences and preparation for this upcoming fight, seemingly meant as a metaphor for the struggle of teachers in an era when education is undervalued by both students and government. The movie’s got a few good moments, but for the most part is about as funny as Charlie Day cowering in the presence of Ice Cube can be when stretched out to feature length. The actual fight is somewhat satisfying, but the same cannot be said for the movie as a whole.

  1. Baywatch                 5/25/17                 18%

I’ll give Baywatch this: it made me laugh a few times, which is more than I can say for the other R-rated adaptation of a kitschy TV series that came out this year. I’m not familiar enough with the actual show to get all the references beyond what made it into the public consciousness at the time – like the fact that Pam Anderson’s character is also named CJ and has big boobs, as frequently pointed out by classmates of mine in the early-to-mid-90s – and I think the movie understands that, at the very least, relying upon that lasting legacy to mine most of its jokes, such as the slow motion beach runs and asinine idea of glorified lifeguards solving major crimes. It actually could’ve worked. The movie is played somewhat earnestly, and the cast isn’t all that awful – Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron have worked well in similar comedies, after all – and if there was a show more deserving of spoofing than Baywatch after the success of 21 Jump Street, I can’t think of none more deserving. But, again, the movie just suffers from a lack of funny jokes, and the action setpieces can’t even save it thanks to some truly awful CGI that doesn’t actually seem to be part of the joke. I mean, seriously, the ash falling in this one scene is so obviously a repeated pattern layered over the image. It’s embarrassing!

  1. The House                 6/30/17                 18%

I generally really like both Amy Poehler and Will Ferrell, and so it’s always disappointing when one of their movies ends up on my worst of list. Unfortunately, this film about struggling middle class parents resorting to running an underground casino to put their daughter through college seems sort of desperate for laughs. Jason Mantzoukas costars as their depressed neighbor friend who was dumped by his wife and is largely more interesting, if not funnier, thanks to the gravitas of his situation, whereas his costars devolve into over-the-top, mugging cartoon characters. Breaking the boundary of reality can be funny, but it’s so clumsy here, and the jokes so easy and obvious here – and if they’re not, the actors will literally say out what’s so funny about the situation in the dialogue, as is often the case with these comedies. You kinda have to wonder if one day Mantzoukas will feature this on his (highly entertaining) bad movies podcast How Did This Get Made?

  1. Going in Style                 4/07/17                 49%

The cast – including Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Alan Arkin – is reliably solid, but Zach Braff’s remake of the 1979 film about three elderly men robbing a bank is trying way too hard. Here, the old men are getting revenge for being suddenly laid off without any of the pension promised to them, targeting the bank handling the company’s money, figuring they have nothing left to lose and would probably die soon, anyway. The problem here is that the movie tries to be way too altruistic about this. I haven’t seen the original, but I hear it makes few apologies or excuses for its leads’ behavior the way this one does. This film needs an edge, and Braff’s ham-fisted moralizing gets in the way of much of the comedy, as does his by now signature, cloying sentimentality. It’s also very frustrating, with many scenes seemingly filmed as if there was an intent for the foreshadowing to pay off until they pulled their punches and went with something they thought would be more crowd-pleasing. It has its brief moments, such as a cameoing Christopher Lloyd, but other than that, all I can say is that it’s better than Wish I Was Here.

  1. The Circle                4/28/17                 16%

Seeing Tom Hanks play a villain is about the most interesting thing about The Circle, an attempt at a precautionary film about the dangers of social media and allowing too much technology in  your life. Emma Watson plays Mae Holland, a customer service agent in the Apple/Google/Facebook-like tech giant The Circle. Over time, she becomes a lifestyle advocate for the company and puts her whole life on broadcast, a development that alienates her very private parents, who are already dealing with her father’s multiple sclerosis. Mae soon finds that total transparency isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and with the company’s cloud-sourced surveillance system about to go into effect, Mae finds herself wondering if all this is innovation or just an invasion. The Circle is very much a simplistic film, presenting few shades of grey – any minutely negative aspect of any technology is seemingly deemed more important than any good. That The Circle is so unambiguously cult-like from the beginning, at least to the audience, hinders any drama that might arise, leaving you with a bland story spent waiting for Mae’s inevitable turning point rather than enjoying how she gets there. Combine this with lethargic performances from both Watson and Hanks, and you’re left with a movie that left me kinda pissed that I spent so much time with it.

  1. Wish Upon                 7/14/17                16%

This movie’s definitely a top contender for most unintentionally funny movie of the year, with Joey King playing a teenage girl, Clare, who happens upon a box that grants her wishes, but at the cost of the life of someone she knows, a burden, by the way, that just so happened to drive her mother to commit suicide when she was a child. The biggest fault of the movie, apart from laughable setups, is making its protagonist so unlikable. When Clare finds out the consequences of her wishes, she doesn’t stop making wishes, sometimes superficially, like when she’s embarrassed of her dad’s depression and dumpster-diving. The film portrays her need to make wishes as if it were symptomatic of her desperation to fit in, and yet the character reads more like an addict who’s probably going to destroy you along with herself. This also doesn’t work, because despite being the target of a mean girl in school, Clare’s never really an underdog, either – the mean girl’s more like a rival than a bully, given Clare’s aptitude for giving it back as good as she gets. Still, the straightness with which Clare’s descent into wish-addicted madness is great fodder for riffing, and I’m fairly certain the way the movie ends is almost redemptive for the rest of the movie.

  1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul                 5/19/17                 20%

You know, people kept complaining about Spider-Man’s too-soon rebooting with Homecoming, but at least we got a good film out of that deal. By far the most unnecessary reboot this year was the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, which I guess was a big enough hit to spawn four movies, including this one – the first to feature a new cast. Here, Alicia Silverstone takes over as the mother, and Tom Everett Scott taking over for fellow That Thing You Do! cast member Steve Zahn as the father, with the family of series protagonist Greg Hefley going on a road trip to his great-grandmother’s 90th birthday party but trying to divert the family into going to a gaming convention instead. The film is basically a G-rated version of Vacation from the point of view of the kids, complete with a recurring, slovenly family terrorizing the main family. This was the first of the four films I’d seen and was also critically the worst received of the four films, so I kinda feel like I’ve had my fill. Granted, I know these movies are aiming at the kids who likely gobble it up, and so perhaps I sound pedantic and pathetic picking on a movie like this, but your kids seriously deserve better than to be forced to settle for this lazy, obnoxious, and cheap movie. Go watch A Goofy Movie instead.

  1. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword                5/12/17                 29%

Guy Ritchie tries his hand at making a public domain Lord of the Rings with this grandiose and occasionally grotesque retelling of the legend of King Arthur, here played by Charlie Hunnam, and yet even with all the creative freedom that affords him, Ritchie still couldn’t make something interesting out of it, though it is admittedly a lot more watchable – and shorter than – those Hobbit films. This movie seems to know it’s a bit trash, at least, piling on the ugly and barely-passable CGI mucking up the movie. It could kill some time if you’re in the mood for the absurd sorts of action scenes you’ll find here, such as Arthur’s time-and-space-breaking fights against small armies whilst wielding Excalibur, complete with neato impossible camera sweeps that’ll nauseate you enough to make you think you’re having a good time, much like a night preceding a raging hangover. Unfortunately, the plot is as basic as it gets, threatening to end the night prematurely if you even try to pay attention to the plot about whether our hero will overthrow his evil uncle and ascend to the… Zzzzz… … Huh? Oh yeah, there’s also a hot, gender-swap Merlin stand-in, if that’s your thing. At least Hunnam got to show us earlier in the year what he’s capable of in a good film. (Seriously, The Lost City of Z was amazing.)

  1. Bright                 12/22/17              27%

There’s a good movie buried in this David Ayer-directed, Max Landis-scripted Netflix movie that caught the world by storm for a brief moment, if only to wonder if all those subscription price hikes were just so that Netflix could blow it all on purchasing the rights to this gritty buddy cop/fantasy flick, their first ever attempt at a multimillion dollar blockbuster – a boast that Netflix might look back on years from now in embarrassment. “Why did I ever think that was cool?” they’ll say! And we’ll all have a good laugh as we all bludgeon ourselves with the latest Happy Madison collaboration. (Seriously, Netflix, I love you, but you need to step up your game to match Amazon in the original movies area… though I guess that’s also now about to end.) This story about cops – one human, the other an orc – taking on street crime in a fantasy version of Los Angeles and finding themselves on the brink of war for a rare magic wand is a mix of interesting concepts, missed opportunities, and hilariously tone-deaf allegory, with orcs standing in for our world’s African-Americans, elves the upper class, and… fairies are squirrels – though, sometimes our real world prejudices against, say, Mexicans also still come into play, as is the Black Lives Matter movement.

It’s basically a copy-and-paste job, with little of the fantasy references and lore replacing real world events. The influence of magic and the like on technology and the entire world of alternate universe Los Angeles is almost nonexistent. Is that dragon in the skyline in that one shot a threat to everyone below, or is it used for transportation, or… what? We don’t know, and the movie doesn’t care! Just be amazed at the silhouette of a dragon over the L.A. skyline! Apart from this fantasy atmosphere (because it’s hardly world building), the actual plot involving the magical McGuffin is mostly forgettable, which is bad because the characters are dull – Remember when Will Smith was reliably charming? – and while the title is derived from a term directly related to that McGuffin (and given a fantasy world dictionary definition at the beginning), I’m still not quite certain what exactly the revelation of who it relates to ultimately means, particularly since it makes better sense for another major character. And yet I hardly cared, and I’m not particularly excited for the already greenlit sequel to find out the repercussions. I’ll probably still watch it, though…

  1. xXx: The Return of Xander Cage                 1/20/17                 45%

Having seen neither of the previous films but having a rudimentary knowledge of what they were and why there was a changing of the guard between Vin Diesel and Ice Cube the second time around, I went into this third xXx movie (sadly not titled xXx iIi) with very few expectations and… had a decent enough time, I suppose. It wasn’t a good movie, like, at all. The action is bland, the effects poor, and the characters familiar, and… well, I ultimately really don’t remember the plot all that much. But, yeah, I suppose it kept my attention?

  1. A Dog’s Purpose                 1/27/17                 33%

Was this movie made to troll the types of people who consult doesthedogdie.com before seeing any movie? I mean, technically, yes, but also, technically, within this movie’s narrative… no-ish? Regardless, everyone here is being manipulated, because dog lovers are going to be bawling their eyes out at all the dog and puppy abuse and death, and… well, I guess dog haters will be sad to know that the dog’s spirit lives on and finds happiness? Anyway, this is barely a movie. It’s more like being around someone who cutely expresses their pets’ idiosyncratic inner monologues whenever they’re doing something they find precious for an excruciating 2 hours rather than watch the actual movie they invited you over for. And that person is also Josh Gad. (I actually don’t mind him, generally, but, let’s face it, he can be a bit grating, and he knows it, too!)

There is an overarching story about the dog and his boy and them reconnecting in another one of the dog’s lives, but even that provides quite a bit of misery – how about some alcoholism and child abuse on the side? Also, this is one of those movies that is so pro-dog that it’s anti-cat, acting like it’s so hilarious for the dog to terrorize a cat and then dig up its corpse. So it’s also like Josh Gad is that annoying person who also feels like they have to tell you how much cats suck and are evil compared to dogs whenever you mention you had or have a cat that you love and think that it’s just so funny to joke about swerving to hit cats crossing the street.

  1. American Assassin                 9/08/17                34%

One part Bourne movie, one part The Sum of All Fears, American Assassin is basically an early 2000s action thriller that was made a few years too late. “Generic” is perhaps too fascinating a concept to describe this Dylan O’Brien-starring flick about a vengeful young man being recruited onto a CIA black ops team based on his badass reputation. While Michael Keaton does his best to entertain as the almost insane instructor (an interrogation scene late in the movie – too late – is at least the one highlight), O’Brien seems to be sleepwalking through his performance. I get that the characters’ been through a lot and probably has a good reason for being this way, but I almost found myself wishing there’d been a clumsy narration from him to explain what it is he’s feeling that O’Brien isn’t showing. At least then we’d also have something to laugh at, too, besides some of the visual effects.

  1. A Cure For Wellness                 2/17/17                42%

Intriguing title aside, A Cure For Wellness is so excruciatingly dull, you’d be forgiven for spending its duration thinking of the ways in which its title sets it up as the punchline to a number of easy jokes. “A Cure for Wellness? More like A Cure for INSOMNIA!” “I used to be well all the time, but then I watched A Cure for Wellness, and now I feel positively miserable. Thanks, Gore Verbinski!” And so on. The movie at the very least looks nice, which keeps it from feeling too much like a sluggish, less gory, and less thrilling adaptation of a videogame like Outlast, which shares this film’s mental clinic setting and the use of a nearly monochromatic, putrid green camera filter. At nearly 2.5 hours, however, this movie is apparently bent on sending audiences to a mental hospital themselves. It’s simply inexcusable for a movie in which so very little happens and where so very little of what does is worth contemplating to be this absurdly long.

  1. Home Again                 9/08/17                 32%

A recent near-divorcee moves out West to California and winds up having a midlife crisis, taking in a trio of young, hot aspiring filmmakers and taking advantage of their young hotness to fill the place of the one man who fell short of all her expectations in the various ways that they individually and collectively can – lover, father to her child, and… I guess breadwinner? In return, they get to praise her for all that she is and gain access to her Hollywood connections, thanks to her father being a celebrated film director. This movie feels like something people watch when they’re feeling bad about themselves and where they are in life, when really it’s that they should be feeling ashamed for watching this to make themselves feel better in the first place when they know it’s going to be so aggressively mediocre. Even though it’s basically a romcom, there’s very little comedy that works, and what romance there is feels meaningless. Reese Witherspoon is wasted here as the central, needy character of Alice, and the three younger guys – played by Pico Alexander, Nat Wolff, and Jon Rudnitsky – are just a wee bit too blandly bro-y to be endearing, though these actors very likely could’ve been. I could see this premise working, but it’s a shame Home Again doesn’t find use the tools it has correctly to get it going.

  1. Everything, Everything                 5/19/17                46%

Nothing like a life-threatening illness to set the backdrop of your sweeping teenage romance fantasy! Maddy is a teenage girl who has been kept inside her whole life due to an autoimmune disorder, taken care of solely by her mother and a trusted nurse, Carla, whose daughter, Rosa, is the only teenager Maddy is allowed to have physical contact with. When a cute boy moves in next door, however, Maddy begins to wonder whether a line needs to be drawn between staying alive and actually living. The plot, based on a young adult novel by Nicola Yoon, is incredibly predictable, including the expected acts of defiance, drama regarding allowing Maddy to make up her own mind, and subsequent revelations that I’m not going to spoil because you probably already know them from the very beginning. I like the two leads together, Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson, but the Anika Noni Rose is given the unenviable task of trying to make Maddy’s mother a complex and empathetic character when, in reality, the movie probably doesn’t go far enough in the other direction. Either way, though, the movie would’ve still been yet another overwrought, trite teen romance flick vying for their miniscule income to turn a profit.

  1. How to be a Latin Lover                 4/28/17                 38%

Eugenio Derbez plays Maximo, an aging former trophy husband who is dumped by his elderly, rich wife for an even younger man. Now homeless, he moves in with his stuffy sister Sara and her son Hugo, a nerdy child whom Maximo takes under his wing while going on a quest to conquer yet another sugar mama who’ll leave him all her money when she passes. Sara isn’t too pleased with her brother’s lifestyle, however, and so Maximo must learn about the important things in life. Lessons are learned, but not too well, and families are begrudgingly reunited, etc. Derbez seems to be a gifted comedian, but he’s taking the Adam Sandler route of doing and saying ridiculous things in sometimes ridiculous ways and letting that be the end of it. The plot goes all over the place, too, while getting to its inevitable conclusion, taking detours such as Maximo moving in with a crazy cat lady played by Kristen Bell and Maximo finding himself dodging Robs Huebel and Riggle as aggressive vehicular vinyl decal salesmen he owes money to – scenes that go on way too long and barely have anything to do with the plot proper except to get in a few familiar faces for non-Spanish speaking audiences. Hayek is wasted as Sara, and while the kid is cute, he’s just there to add the obligatory “aw” factor of a little kid acting out things he sees the silly adults doing but doesn’t fully understand himself. It’s bland and boring and mostly unfunny, no matter what language you primarily speak.

  1. Rock Dog                 2/24/17                47%

Well, it looks a lot better than Norm of the North and lacks Rob Schneider, so Rock Dog’s already got that going for it. And, because it’s a musical film about anthropomorphic animals, there’s a character named Fleetwood Yak. That’s kinda funny. As for the rest of the film? It’s… kinda weird. Hailing from China – where the film is just as generically titled (摇滚藏獒 , or “Rock and Roll Tibetan Mastiff” for those of us who don’t read Chinese) – Rock Dog is about Bodi, a Tibetan mastiff who abandons his expected role as a mystical sheepdog and instead pursues his dream of becoming a rock star with his gently plucked acoustic guitar tunes, but he’ll also learn that you don’t have to give up who you are to also achieve your dreams. Rock Dog’s biggest asset is its earnestness, upheld with the casting of Luke Wilon as the aw-shucks Bodi, so it’s hard to totally hate on it. That being said, it’s so devoid of personality, there’s next to nothing that makes it a worthwhile recommendation, even for children.

  1. Smurfs: The Lost Village                 4/07/17                37%

They’re girl Smurfs. The lost village is made up of all girl Smurfs who are awesome at everything that the boy Smurfs aren’t and more. Surprise. Sorry I spoiled it for you, people who can’t see where this “Smurfette finds herself” narrative is going. This was the first Smurfs movie I’ve ever seen, having avoided the previous live action hybrid films like the plague, and even then, I only rented this with a coupon, but I can still tell you that at least this movie’s got an advantage over them just by virtue of being completely animated – and fairly nicely, I might add. Too bad it’s wasted on a movie with a plot and characters this bland. You saw the trailers where Clumsy Smurf is told not to eat all his rations, and then he freaks out and immediately eats all his rations, and then the joke is that he screams, “I ate all my rations!” right? That’s the height of the comedy in this latest Smurfs movie. I have no affection for the franchise it’s based on whatsoever, and I continue to be baffled by these movies’ capability of making money, but even I kinda hoped it would rise above Smurf movie reputations and deliver something watchable. I’d rather rewatch Trolls. And I hated Trolls.

  1. The Mummy                 6/09/17                 16%

If I were ranking these movies based on biggest blunder of the year, this would have been at the top of the list. If you think DC’s Extended Universe series of movies is in bad shape after the lackluster performance of Justice League, take Universal’s generically-named Dark Universe as a sign of just how much worse it could be. They’ve been trying to kick this thing off in one form or another since at least the Hugh Jackman Van Helsing movie before moving on to 2010’s unrelated The Wolfman, and then Dracula Untold, which was at one point going to be the first Dark Universe movie tied to this Mummy reboot, but it, too, was so big a disaster it was actually expunged from continuity before the universe had received its proper name. Unfortunately, there’s no takesy-backsies with this one, as the film opens with the bold declaration that this big budget blunder is finally the official start of the shared Universal monster universe, complete with a hilariously dramatic logo reveal, preemptive character crossovers, and Easter egg references of things to come – and, in one blink and you’ll miss it moment, things long since past.

Unlike the Brendan Fraser series and the classical movies, however, this 2017 edition doesn’t seem to know whether it wants to be a dark supernatural thriller, a modern swashbuckling action adventure, or a schlocky horror flick. Tom Cruise is perhaps at his least engaging as the lead character, a thief who winds up getting paired off with an archeologist with a mysterious background after unleashing the wrath of an ancient mummy on the world. Apart from the big plane crash scene that you undoubtedly saw in the trailers, most of the action is cheap-looking and features choreography outclassed by network television shows. The archeologist love interest is completely useless and free from any sort of personality except to be a foil to Cruise’s mugging antihero, and Jake Johnson disappears for a long stretch of the movie before unceremoniously being brought back with little explanation as to how. (You’ll see what I mean… or maybe don’t…) After years of setbacks and false starts, it’s kind of amusing that this dreadful mess was what they settled on.

  1. Transformers: The Last Knight                 6/21/17                 16%

The fifth film in the Michael Bay Transformers series promised to bring back the awe with dragons and elements from Arthurian legend and alternate history and freaking Unicron, the planet-eating Transformer. The trailers, once again, got me a bit hopeful that the films might be good this time, or at least tolerable. But, no. Once again, we have a fan-pandering, overlong, and joyless film about machines fighting other machines and people running around doing boring stuff for long stretches in between. The film brings in a young girl to freshen things up who, for once, isn’t used as a sex object (she’s a minor, after all – not that that’s stopped Bay previously with characters who are minors, but this time the actress herself is an actual minor, too, so at least he has some standards), but it’s still condescending to its other female lead, Laura Haddock as Viviane Wembly, a professor of English literature who finds herself caught up in this mess. She’s basically still just there as window dressing until the big reveal about her family legacy that basically reveals she was there to effectively be a key. The Last Knight is a mild improvement over its predecessor, but only just barely.

  1. Jigsaw                 10/27/17              34%

I had only seen the original Saw movie before this one, begrudgingly watching it for my very first Halloween movie month in the name of keeping an open mind. That was an alright movie, and it put James Wan on the radar, too, but I had very little interest in pursuing its torture porn-heavy sequels beyond reading about them and the stuff that happens – Jigsaw eventually died, and so did lots of other people. The End! Or so we thought, with Jigsaw breaking the once annual release ceasefire with a story about a new round of people being forced into his little games – but how? That’s basically the main mystery driving the film between solving the grisly murders, and I must admit I wasn’t expecting how it all played out. But this movie is still very disappointing, particularly because it’s so light on the gore. I know that sounds contradictory, but I went with my friend expecting to be grossed out and warning her that I was only doing it because nobody else would go with her and to fully expect me to be distractingly squeamish throughout. Bad effects and the unimaginative, silly-looking death traps kinda ruined that whole aspect of the experience and so I was instead left with what felt like an overly long and particularly gory episode of a TV police procedural I’d only tangentially become familiar with. Once the film’s single surprise comes and goes after so many red herrings, you’re still left with a cheap sideshow attraction that you blew your hard-earned money and time on.

  1. Flatliners                 9/29/17                 5%

As we get up to the top of this list, you’re going to notice that there are the usual cadre of horror films filling it out, and, as usual, I had a hard time parsing out where exactly they should go. I could’ve rated Flatliners so much higher just based on the fact that this movie is excruciatingly dull and has a cast of characters so stupid and self-absorbed that you’re kind of disappointed to find out that most of them make it out of the movie relatively okay by the end. Ultimately, it’s not rated higher because, unlike most of the others that top it, I can actually remember what happened and what the point of it was. Perhaps that’s just a matter of it being the one I saw most recently, but it’s also the simplest to explain and at least sounds the most interesting when summarized: a remake of the 1990 film of the same name, Flatliners follows a group of medical students who discover that you can seemingly explore the plane between life and death by flatlining yourself and, upon being revived, are seemingly reenergized and enlightened by the experience. Unfortunately for them, apart from being so horribly, obviously dangerous, it also has the side effect of making one experience past traumas and kinda go mad in the process. It’s not a bad premise, and I was actually hoping that this movie would be good. That it was also a remake of an already poorly received film would have hopefully inspired the filmmakers to learn from their predecessor’s mistakes, but that just wasn’t meant to be. In fact, I’ve heard that it’s even worse, thanks to its lack of early ‘90s camp. Perhaps I should give the original a go? Or maybe not. I might get flashbacks to watching this one…

  1. Rings                 2/03/17                 7%

Delayed from a season-appropriate fall 2016 release into the dreaded dumping ground of the early year months, this belated sequel to the American remake of Ringu features none of the first two films’ original cast but does bring back the dreaded videotape that heralds the coming of Samara, both of which are now the subject of a top secret academic study. This fact goes largely by the wayside, however, by the end of the film, which is a shame because there’s just enough wacky shenanigans that can go on with a self-aware film with savvy college kids had Rings not decided to take itself quite so seriously. Instead, it switches gears by focusing on Samara’s parentage and the goal of cremating Samara’s remains rather than just burying them, as was the case in the previous films. There’s some effort to make Samara once again a mildly tragic monster, but the revelations are fairly hamfisted. Despite including one of his more recent horror films on this very list, you’ll find yourself wishing for Gore Verbinksi’s more subtle and deliberately paced directing style from the first film with this film, which mostly just wastes two decent enough premises for a movie in the name of rebooting interest in the franchise without the obligations of returning cast. It tried, but it’s largely just forgettable.

  1. The Bye Bye Man                 1/13/17                 23%

If Rings was one of the year’s worst of cynical attempts to cash in on once popular horror franchises (I haven’t and do not plan to see the Texas Chain-Saw Massacre prequel Leatherface), then The Bye Bye Man is one of the worst attempts at starting a new one. The laughably named Bye Bye Man is a shadowy, hooded figure who comes for anyone with his demonic dog who dares to think of or speak of his name. Anyone who does must be promptly killed, or else they will also become killers themselves, and the Bye Bye Man will … feed them to his dog, I believe? The mythology is incredibly silly, and the film acts as if there’s a huge risk of people mistakenly finding themselves afflicted with the Bye Bye Man curse. Unfortunately for our protagonists, a group of college kids who move into a house in the woods to get away from the campus life, some numbskull figured it would be best to warn them not to think about the Bye Bye Man by carving the Bye Bye Man’s name into a nightstand and telling them not to think about it. … Bravo. Soon enough, everyone’s going crazy and accusing each other of cheating or… having maggots in their hair, in one scene… and then they’re killing each other and themselves, and… it’s really hard to follow the logic of this movie and not question it. You’ll probably find more entertainment in thinking up reasons for why both Carrie-Ann Moss and Faye Dunaway found themselves appearing in a film that is, at best, destined to become a new unintentionally funny classic.

  1. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter                 1/27/17                 36%

And now we have the veteran of the awful horror films released throughout 2017, the supposedly last chapter of the Resident Evil film franchise. I managed to accidentally skip one of these movies (I don’t care to remind myself which) and found myself largely being unaffected by its absence in my memory as I watched Alice’s final confrontation with the Umbrella Corporation unfold in all its incomprehensible, jump-cut-every-millisecond glory. Alice finds herself reconnecting with Claire Redfield back in the location where this all began: the Hive, just outside the decimated Raccoon City. Villains previously killed off are revealed to be clones, with the originals still holding up and waiting for the remaining population of uninfected humans to die off before releasing an airborne antivirus into the air and killing off all creatures infected with the T-virus. It’s a shockingly simplistic story whose outcome doesn’t even provide much resolution, not for the movie, the characters, nor even the franchise, despite what the title may suggest. Yes, the movie is open-ended, and with the film being the highest grossing in the franchise, don’t expect Sony to just sit on that license when they don’t have many dependable franchises of their own.

  1. CHiPS                 3/24/17                 17%

Say what you will about the Baywatch movie, but at least it had characters that were borderline endearing. Director and costar Dax Shepard’s R-rated, comedic take on the somewhat classic police drama from the ‘70s and ‘80s is also an attempt to ride the coattails of 21 Jump Street’s success in lampshading its originator’s silly premise for laughs, but it seemingly forgot that those other films had characters we could actually like alongside the litany of dirty jokes and absurd plot developments. Shepard’s Jon Baker is a perpetually serious sad sack rookie whose ridiculing wife is openly cheating on him, while Michael Peña’s Ponch is just a horny, homophobic asshole, and both of them take the rest of the film down with them. I couldn’t have cared any less about their slowly developing friendship, which is ultimately the crux of the film’s story, which also has something to do with armored car robberies. The movie features a number of rambling dialogues between characters it tries to pass off as comedy that vary in topic from sexual activities to explanations for why the homophobia isn’t actually homophobia to gauging girls’ hotness to yoga pants, etc. It’s not even the lack of sensitivity that’s actually offensive, however, as much as it’s the lack of cleverness in which the film doles out these “jokes.” You can forgive a character their ignorance and prejudices, but you can’t forgive a comedy for its lack of comedy.

  1. The Emoji Movie                 7/28/17                 9%

Ooph. Where do I begin? Firstly, this inferior rip-off of Wreck-It Ralph and The Lego Movie is based on a freaking keyboard function on your phone. It expects you to look at the background and recognize familiar emojis and apps and be like, “Hey, it’s my old friend, the smiley cat head. I love smiley cat head! And look! There’s Spotify! I give them $10 a month to use them!” as if they were characters we were emotionally attached to. It also expects us to empathize with them on a personal level, with the main character, a young “Meh” emoji named Gene (T.J. Miller), struggling to fit in with the rest of the crowd by being exactly who he was always expected to be. Only thing is, he kinda likes feeling other emotions other than perpetual ambivalence, and the others look down on him for it. Heck, it’s practically an offense worthy of capital punishment in this world! So, when he malfunctions and causes the owner of the phone in which these emojis live to look like a weirdo thanks to the malformed face that’s sent to his adolescent crush, Gene goes on the lam with his friend, the Hi-5 emoji (James Corden, who really must stay away from promoting awful movies for a while… please?) and traverse the various wonders that lie outside the emoji app. They also wind up with a young hacker emoji named Jailbreak who shows Gene that the most important thing for him to be is himself, even if that means not living up to society’s expectations of carefully categorized harmony. Except, of course, when it comes time for her to live up to society’s expectations and the not at all interesting twist about her secretive past is revealed.

The plot hardly matters, of course, with a movie that seems to be constantly asking, “Hey, why are you watching this movie and learning lessons about acceptance when you could be using DropBox and Facebook and playing games like Candy Crush and Just Dance?” The Emoji Movie is basically what we all feared that The Lego Movie would wind up being, only much worse because at least Lego sets are built around themes and storylines, and emojis are just pictographical representations of things you’re trying to say – a fact that the film is oddly aware of and is also quite proud of, comparing emojis to hieroglyphs, though I’m quite certain that casting such aspersions on the beauty of that ancient art through this comparison is possibly the funniest thing about this movie. … Okay, well, there’s also that one gag where an old school, geriatric emoticon gripes about his colon. Other than that, I can’t think of a single thing that made me glad I was experiencing this movie at the time. The Emoji Movie is so cynical, pandering, obnoxious, and just outright awful that I’m surprised it didn’t also lead an aggressive ad campaign encouraging the use of phones during other movies just to encourage people to leave those auditoriums and go see The Emoji Movie instead, where at least the actual film experience is as interesting as being distracted by the glow of the phone being waved around by the obnoxiously talkative person three rows down from you.

To put it simply, it’s really no 😱 that this 🎞is a piece of 💩.

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