10 Worst Movies of 2017
2017 was another year of change for Kneel Before Blog. The biggest change was that we switched to a star rating system for film around halfway through the year. TV will continue to be rated out of 10 but films will be rated on a scale of 1-5 stars as is the accepted standard for films.
As with every other year I didn’t see every film and managed to avoid a lot of things I knew I wouldn’t like but I managed to be lured in by enough to make this list. It’s worth noting that my opinions do change over time so a lower score at the time doesn’t necessarily mean it’s higher on this list. The scores are only relative to my enjoyment at the time of writing so that often changes as time goes on. My original reviews can be found hyperlinked in the headings. Now that the qualifiers are out of the way let’s dig into my worst films of 2017.
The threat of some sort of Flatliners revival has been around for a long time. Reports of sequels, remakes and reboots would frequently appear with nothing coming of them. Eventually this film materialises suggesting that the concept should have been left alone.
There’s nothing particularly noteworthy about this remake -marketed as a pseudo sequel for some reason- that follows the beats of the original film without doing anything interesting with them. A talented cast are largely wasted playing one note characters defined by one specific trait and the story makes for really dull viewing. The setup isn’t bad and some of the revival scenes are fairly tense but on the whole this concept should have been allowed to rest in peace.
I’m usually wary of comedies but thought I would give this a go because the idea interested me. Following a group at a wedding who aren’t all that important to the couple yet still manage to snag an invite has a lot of potential. The trailer made it look like a film about a group of people who choose to make the best of a less than ideal situation. Unfortunately the film itself was a very different experience.
Once again this film boasts a talented cast playing uninspiring characters. Anna Kendrick is likeable as usual and June Squibb manages to wring some entertainment from very little but the potential of the concept is completely unrealised. I’m generally put off by comedies because of the comedy being dialled up to unrealistic levels but that barely happens here and the story plods along in really dull ways. There are a handful of endearing moments and a chuckle here and there but not enough to justify sitting through this.
It’s likely no surprise to anyone that a movie based on a video game turned out to be bad. On first look this film had the potential to buck that trend. The involvement of Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard and Justin Kurzel who proved to be a notable team when bringing the latest version of Macbeth to the big screen suggested that this might be interesting.
It’s unfair to say that this film is terrible hence why it’s not higher on the list but it routinely wastes the potential of the concept. It would have been interesting to see Fassbender’s Callum learn about his ancestor and have that knowledge change him but the film doesn’t explore that. The ancestral memory gimmick is mostly used to deliver action sequences that have little bearing on the present day story in a broad sense and Callum’s ancestor Aguilar isn’t really a character. The film does have an admittedly surprising and compelling ending but it doesn’t make this worth watching. Looks like Tomb Raider is the next hope to bring credibility to the video game to movie adaptation.
Another entry on this list that seems like it might be a reasonable idea but falls far short. Rosario Dawson is without a doubt far too good for this movie and delivers a much better performance than dreck like this deserves. It wouldn’t be so bad if the experience could be called “so bad it’s good” but it’s all so relentlessly dull that we can’t even say that about it. Long stretches of screen time go by with absolutely nothing happening which is unforgivable for a supposed thriller like this.
Katherine Heigl plays her villainous role with all the subtlety of a bad Saturday Morning cartoon villain leaving no doubt as to her true intentions at any point. Her performance is never convincing and her character is terribly written so there’s no real hope of salvaging anything from this role. The idea of being a step parent when not being ready for it and paranoia caused by an omnipresent ex was really good and at times almost works but there are too many missteps that this is best forgotten.
Another entry in the “it’s Toy Story with…” genre. Emoji’s enjoying an unseen life inside your phone is a reasonable idea with some potential which goes largely unexplored in this underwhelming outing. T.J. Miller does a decent job voicing the lead and Anna Farris is capable enough but there’s not a lot of depth to the characters they’re voicing so there’s very little to remark on. This is one of those kids movies that talks down to the audience and forces the viewer to endure an incoherent story that never quite comes together and fails to create any emotional connection.
A lot of this has to do with the characters outside the phone feeling like an afterthought meaning that the story lacks stakes. Compare this to something like Inside Out where the two worlds felt connected and you’ll see how badly this film fails in its approach. Much of it feels like shameless pandering to the extreme and an overlong advertising gimmick for outdated apps. The world inside the phone is built well enough and visualisations of things like firewalls and viruses make sense for the most part. There’s also some humour to hearing sir Patrick Stewart voice a poop emoji but none of those make this worth watching.
This film pretty much exists as a vehicle for Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson to play off one another. Each of them play the type of characters you’d expect them to play and as entertaining as that is for a while the joke completely outstays its welcome. The film certainly isn’t as funny as it thinks it is and the banter between the two leads becomes frustratingly predictable after a while.
Story isn’t hugely important in films like this but some sense of stakes would be something at least. There’s a painfully underwritten villain character played by Gary Oldman who shows up now and again but has no real impact on the plot and some tension is supposed to exist between Ryan Reynolds and Elodie Yung’s characters but a lack of development makes this suffer too. It also doesn’t help that the film feels painfully long with two different points that feel like a natural ending before continuing on for what seems like an eternity. With a little more work this could have been a satisfying enough experience but the end result just isn’t worth your time.
There’s something of a theme on my worst of list this year in that a lot of it features films about Assassins in one form or another. 2017 was a bad year for Assassins apparently. This one is actually fairly promising in the beginning with a striking opening sequence involving happiness followed by tragedy but goes downhill swiftly after that. The story constantly shifts gears from revenge tale to a training narrative and ending with a cliché world ending plot. None of them are interesting or done that well and failure to explore the film’s core relationship massively counts against it.
Another misstep is that the central antagonist is introduced far too late for the film to do anything with him. The actors involved do a good job. Dylan O’Brien impresses throughout though the writing frequently does him no favours, Michael Keaton is entertaining enough in a role that definitely doesn’t tax him and Taylor Kitsch is pretty watchable in what little screen time he has. The frustrating thing is that there’s a better story to be told with these actors and maybe even these characters but this film gets nowhere near it.
I’ve never read any of The Dark Tower books so still can’t speak about this film as an adaptation of them but it certainly fails to be engaging on its own merits. The implication is that the background is rich and complex but there isn’t enough time to scratch the surface let alone explore it properly. As it sits the story is a dull escort mission with some fish out of water gags as Idris Elba’s Gunslinger tries to get to grips with a new universe. Even the action sequences are underwhelming so can’t salvage the onslaught of tedium.
The acting is fine. Idris Elba is always watchable and Matthew McConaughey brings some screen presence to the table despite playing a dull moustache twirling villain. Tom Taylor remains a highlight here delivering a performance suggesting that he’s one to watch in the future. I’m not sure what a good adaptation of The Dark Tower looks like but it definitely isn’t this
By my count this is Universals third attempt to start a Cinematic Universe starring their famous monsters and it’s also the third time they’ve failed to do so. This film could be used to teach aspiring film makers how not to built a Cinematic Universe. It misses the mark completely by devoting a large chunk of its running time to tedious world building by exposition. Russell Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll literally sits and explains that there’s a universe full of monsters out there just waiting to be battled in an onslaught of terrible sequels that now won’t be made.
Outside of that it fails as a stand alone experience with a boring plot, an underdeveloped villain, thin characters and dull action sequences with one exception. Tom Cruise is good because he’s always good but there’s nothing to his character, Sofia Boutella is reasonably menacing and unsettling in a script that does her no favours and there’s the afore mentioned one good action sequence. None of these things make this worth watching in any way so you’re better waiting for the next attempt to start a Cinematic Universe.
Put simply if the Alien franchise was a horse it is at the point where it needs to be taken out the back and shot. Its best days are behind it and no matter how many sequels are fired out those days can’t be recaptured. The first Alien film has a timeless reputation because it features characters who felt like real people dealing with a situation and having conversations that came across as natural. Putting those characters in a horror movie situation worked because the audience was invested and all of the elements built up to a terrifying experience. This film attempts to ape that with a similar scenario delivered in a really ham fisted way. None of the characters were engaging, their behaviour renders them worthy of a grizzly death and any nods to the past feel forced.
Alien: Covenant is an interesting failure in many ways as it had many of the ingredients of a good entry into this franchise. Ridley Scott made the first film good so in theory should be able to repeat the feat, a promise to largely ignore the near universally maligned Prometheus seemed to indicate that the fans were being listened to and the iconic Xenomorph was back. Unfortunately none of these add up to anything watchable or even competent. As with most Ridley Scott movies there is some really beautiful cinematography and Michael Fassbender’s performance is impressive enough though his presence mostly reminds the viewer of Prometheus which proves not to be a good thing. Hopefully this will be the end of the Alien franchise until someone can come along and do something interesting with it.
Here endeth my list of the worst films released in 2017. Feel free to comment with your favourites/least favourites. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter or just leave a comment in the comment section below. You’ll need an account for Disqus but it’s easy to set up.
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