The conversation among movie lovers and fellow critics (Sometimes those do overlap, ahem.) at this time of year turns towards “best lists” and “Who or what will be nominated for an Oscar?”
And from there, the talk descends to that one overarching question, “What kind of movie year was it?”
The box office was in free fall for much of 2017, and just judging from online chatter, debate and website traffic, there weren’t a lot of movies people were worked up over for more than a week or three — two weeks before release, then a week after.
It was the Year of the Over-Rated, with hyped hooey from “Alien Covenant” to “It” to “The Last Jedi” earning rapturous reviews, or at least high Tomatometer marks (if far more measured Metacritic scores). Shocking how many of those breathlessly endorsed “must see” and “event of the spring/summer/fall” pictures are simply forgotten now, out of the conversation for “year’s best.” Grade inflation at its worst, but more on that in another post.
But memory is fickle, and it’s only through browsing the hundreds of reviews I’ve filed this year that one gets a sense of the debacle unleashed on cinemas, Netflix, Youtube and Direct Cinema. What a shower of rhymes-with-fit.
So what follows is a compendium of the worst of 2017 at the movies. You have my pity if you wasted ticket money on more than a couple of those.
And full disclosure, here. I have not seen “Fathers Figures.” Yet.
Every studio wants a piece of that weekend parents-with-kids business. And while the cynical practice of converting every “toon” to 3D so as to gouge parents over ticket prices has faded, a lot of forgettable junk is still being shoved out in the name of “family entertainment.”
I attribute the sinking quality to a serious shortage of animation gag writers. Nobody knows how to do it anymore. Even “Coco,” the best kids’ cartoon of the year, is a little thin on the sight gags.
“The Emoji Movie” — A Roe vs. Wade cartoon, an absolute abortion, from conception to laugh-free execution.
“Cars 3” — When Disney/Pixar announced John Lasseter was being sent to the woodshed, I was sure it was over his obscene insistence on sequeling this bad idea for a movie, great pitch for selling toys. Oh. It was just for sexual harassment.
“The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature” — Not a cute idea or a laugh in it.
“Rock Dog” — How do you say, “There’s a sucker born every minute” in Chinese? Because a lot of bad movies were produced by hustlers suckering Chinese investors into “a sure thing.” This is just the worst of them.
“Smurfs: The Lost Village” — At least nobody showed up for it.
“The My Little Pony Movie” — Yeah, “Bronies,” I’m coming for you.
The Horror, the Horror
“Aaron’s Blood” — We’re still doing the vampire thing?
“Friend Request” — Social media will kill you. Again.
“The Belko Experiment” — The most unpleasant “Ten Little Indians” (stick a crowd in a confined space, kill them off) variation in years. Ugh.
“Rings” — Ah, let it go already. Once you’ve seen one hairy girl crawl across the ceiling…
Big Budget, and Bad
“The Dark Tower” — This is what happens when you let fanboys convince you that this collection of Stephen King titles simply MUST be made into a movie. Years and different studios, different directors and a different cast, and this is what they got out of it. Stephen King’s “Moment,” when this movie came out, the remake of “It” followed it (a smash) and “Mr. Mercedes” hit TV, seems spent.
“The Great Wall” — Chinese agitprop, unleashed by Universal. At least Matt Damon and U got paid for this mess, a ludicrous period piece packed with “The Chinese Way” propaganda. Again, nothing Hollywood likes better than gullible, new money coming to town. This time it’s Chinese cash.
“The Space Between Us” — Sappiest young love weeper of the year.
Make It Stop
“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” — They took a bloody-minded, tone-deaf spy spoof and made it worse. Golden “Circle” was it? Golden “something” going down the drain.
“Fifty Shades Darker” — Fortunately, the acting is so bad and the sex so dull and sterile that none of the little old ladies who flock to these fiascoes are attempting the bondage, S & M games, etc. depicted here. Or are they?
No Seriously, Stop
“Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” — Action Lady Needs One More Easy Paycheck, but let’s move these bombs to January and forget them.
“Underworld: Blood Wars” — Ditto.
“A Family Man” — If this hadn’t been terrible, it could have rescued Gerard Butler from a life of “Outhouse Down” and “Geostorm” sequels.
“Alina” — What was this one again? Oh, right. Russian immigrant drama, “trite” and “melodramatic” and “badly-acted” are putting it mildly.
“Song to Song” — You can blame recent years of crummy Terence Malick “art” mopes on critics, who endorsed that POS “Tree of Life” and let him think his POS didn’t stink. His head’s so far up his arse these days he might actually be smelling a clue.
“Birth of the Dragon” — If you don’t have the money for a vigorous re-write, a decent cast and a better director, leave Bruce Lee in his damned grave.
“Liza Liza, Skies are Grey” — Coming of age in the ’60s was never this dull.
“Battle Scars” — A lot of hucksters and con-artists play the “It’s for the VETERANS” card. Some get elected president. Others make bad movies about PTSD.
“Black Rose” — Absolutely awful “Red Heat” riff. Some of the worst acting of the year is in this one. You’d never know a Russian (Stanlisvsky) invented “The Method.”
“Diamond Cartel” — I’m relieved and forever grateful the Academy gave Peter O’Toole an honorary Oscar while he was still living. It’d be a shame if he was remembered for this, his last and worst film. If only they’d done it for, say, Peter Sellers, too.
“Pray For Rain” — A right wing oil tycoon financed this torpid drama, in which environmentalists are the cynical, nasty villains responsible for California’s drought and water shortage. And not big polluter oil tycoons. Skip the movie, boycott Lucas Oil.
“Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back” — Bad enough to give you acid flashbacks if you duck into it say a half hour after the opening credits. As I did. And I never did acid. Sitting through it again didn’t make it any more sensible.