January 13, 2018 / Updated
February 11, 2018
strange to say, but truly awful movies are arguably the ones that stay
with me forever, despite my best efforts to actively try to forget about
them the instant I leave the cinema after painful screenings.
that's what makes writing these Worst Films of the Year compilations every
twelve months so ultimately enjoyable, not to mention richly cathartic.
Someone once asked me how I know if a film is devoid of value and
worthy to be on a list such as this, which takes me to something that the
late, great Roger Ebert once wrote in his side-splittingly hilarious
review of 1996's MAD DOG TIME: "MAD DOG TIME is the first movie I
have seen that does not improve on the sight of a blank screen viewed for
the same length of time." That's
pretty close to how I felt about nearly every film listed below that I had the dubious
honor of watching - make that enduring - in the year that was.
There's a period of relative peace, calm, and relaxation that
befalls me before every screening I attend, which usually begins - however
brief - with a big, blank silver screen in front of me.
Every film that made the cut for my TEN WORST FILMS OF 2017 did
not, to take a page out of Mr. Ebert's playbook, improve upon the
nothingness that was on screen before it was projected.
having said all of that, nothing drives me more crazy in every single one
of the near 15 years that I've been reviewing movies than when someone
matter of factly tells me, "Well Craig, it's no wonder you didn't
like the movie. You're a
critic. You're out to hate
everything you see!" Oy
vey. Nothing could be further
than the truth. I love
movies. I want everything I
see to be great. Going
into a movie and wanting to hate it is both petty and unhealthy.
Going to the movies is also time consuming and, most crucially,
expensive for most. Nothing
is worse than having two hours of your life taken away from the outside
world that you'll never, ever get back.
And I'm reasonably sure that a majority of you out there that had
so suffer through the following ten films will mutually agree that they
felt cheated and robbed of time by seeing them.
is the case with every year, the single worst film of the year was
predictably the one that received the dreaded zero star rating from
me (usually assigned to movies that are either artistically bankrupt and/or
are morally indefensible to their core).
The nine other wall of shame efforts under it are all guilty as sin
let the proverbial mudslinging begin...
BOOK OF HENRY
movie made me angry while watching it, so angry that it nearly made me
want to throw something at the screen in disgust.
Many critics often say that truly bad films illicit such a
reaction, which is typically hyperbolic.
But I kid you not: THE BOOK OF HENRY was a film of such
irredeemable wretchedness that I really did want to hurl something at the
screen while suffering through it. It was as unsavory and off putting as any film that I saw in
how could this be?
The film had a decent director at the helm in Colin Trevorrow, whom
previously made the quirky time travel romcom SAFETY
THE BOOK OF HENRY also had a wonderfully talented cast, including
Naomi Watts, MIDNIGHT SPECIAL's
Jaedon Lieberher and ROOM's Jacob
The crew alone should have been enough to make me appreciate this
film, but THE BOOK OF HENRY almost seemed to actively push me away at an
arm's distance, mostly because its overall narrative trajectory - without
engaging in spoilers here - was so condescendingly shallow,
artificially, preposterous, and in frankly bad taste that it was enough to
make me want to shake my head in incredulous disbelief as I exited the
THE BOOK OF HENRY tried, with shocking levels of failure, to be
(let me get out my notes) a slice of life comedy, a coming of age drama, a
three-hanky downer about cancer, a tale of sexual predators, and finally a
DEATH WISH inspired revenge thriller.
There was no bigger WTF!? movie from 2017 than this, and when word
got out that Trevorrow got royally fired by Disney from directing STAR
WARS: EPISODE IX you kind of have to wonder if this film was the catalyst.
GEOSTORM was such
a galactically stupid and unrelenting terrible disaster porn thriller than
I developed migraines thinking about all the ways it was valueless while
screening it months ago.
troubled production - it went through a massive number of release delays
and a well publicized series of reshoots that cost the studio $15 million
after disastrous test screenings - marked the feature film directorial
debut of Dean Devlin, and if final product spoke to anything it might as
well be his last film behind the camera. Absolute
genre fatigue tainted GEOSTORM right from the get-go, especially in the
force fed and lazy manner that Devlin appropriated - euphemism for copying
- the playbook of past disaster flicks like INDEPENDENCE
DAY (which he co-wrote), THE
DAY AFTER TOMORROW, and ARMAGEDDON (that latter Michael Bay film - God
help me - looks like Shakespeare compared to this). Beyond its
Dollar Store valued scripting and phoned in performances by a squad of
decent industry vets, GEOSTORM tried so achingly hard to be a serious
parable about the dangers of global climate change, but it was a film of
such unintentional comic value that any attempts at sermonizing its themes
to the audience were all for naught. Plus,
I'm not even sure it's fun anymore to watch movies that feature storms -
or any other occurrence - destroying cities in their wake, especially
after all of the recent weather related tragedies that have struck the
is best left buried and forgotten.
BELKO EXPERIMENT was so depressingly cynical, stylistically repugnant, and
dramatically null and void that I felt like assuming the fetal position
while watching it.
contained a premise that, on paper, was fertile for exploration as a
cutting edge workplace satire - employees are locked up against their wills
at their office and are giving an ultimatum: kill a specific number of
your colleagues within a specific time...or be killed yourself at random. The
main issue that I had with this James Gunn written and produced effort was
that instead of slyly honing in on its satirical elements it instead
wallowed in nauseating and sadistic levels of gory bloodshed, which
ultimately seemed counter productive to its themes. Director
Greg McLean celebrated the wanton violent savagery in his film a bit too
much - something that it was paradoxically trying to critique as a whole -
which made THE BELKO EXPERIMENT one of 2017's most empty minded and
THE LAST KNIGHT
the fifth TRANSFORMER film from director Michael Bay.
me preface my brief discussion of why BAYWATCH absolutely deserves worthy
placement on this list with the following disclaimer:
like Dwayne Johnson.
I really do.
He's charming, self-depreciatingly amusing, can play drama and
comedy with relative ease, not to mention that he has the requisite
physical toolset to plausibly inhabit any action film.
He's a star that's awfully hard to hate.
also seems like a sensible man, so what on earth made a relatively level
headed chap like him - outside of a whopping pay check -
believe that the public and his legions of fans were desperately
clamoring for a big budget and annoyingly R-rated adaptation of TV's 1990s
T & A schlockfest BAYWATCH?
I don't have the foggiest idea, but perhaps The Rock was thinking
that the makers here could do for BAYWATCH what, say, Phil Lord and Chris
Miller did for 21 JUMP STREET.
The serious creative miscalculation in BATWATCH was that it never
cleverly lampooned the former David Hasselhoff/Pamela Anderson lifeguard
show and instead shoved a smorgasbord of gross out gags, graphic nudity,
f-bomb riddled dialogue exchanges, and a whole lot of other charmless and
humorless shenanigans down out throats to the point of inspiring gagging
And Johnson, when all is said and done, is far too good for such
nauseating material, and BATWATCH emerged as one of the worst adaptations
of a TV show ever committed to celluloid...perhaps only fairing a tad
better than another film down a bit on my list.
If it were not
for the existence of THE BOOK OF HENRY then FIFTY SHADES DARKER would have
easily been my selection for the single worst reason any of you could have
entered a darkened cinema with strangers last year.
follow-up to 2015's impossibly rotten FIFTY
SHADES OF GREY (which took top honor for worst film of that year),
FIFTY SHADES DARKER did make miniscule improvements over it, like having a
better director in James Foley, not to mention that it was mercifully
shorter than its antecedent by ten minutes.
But, dear lord in heaven, FIFTY SHADES DARKER was nevertheless a
heatless sex thriller that once again reinforced how little - if any -
chemistry that stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan have as an on-screen
Not only did this film fail at being cheap and disposable soft-core
porn, it also committed the unforgivable offence of being mind-numbingly
boring to the point of inspiring sleepiness.
That, and I find it unendingly sad that millions upon millions for
female viewers make these films box office dynamos, which leads me to ask
a few simple questions:
is a seemingly innocent woman surrendering herself to a misogynist's
abusive power and control...sexy...at all?
Why do women ravenously eat this material up?
It's positively head scratching.
I remember as
vividly as it were yesterday how I felt right after I left my screening of
"action-comedy" (sarcastic air quotes intentional) was so
insufferably awful in so many incalculable ways that I get the shakes
thinking out it months afterwards. Very
few films ever inspire in me feelings of toxic hatred towards myself for
having watched them, but this big screen remake of the famous 1970s/1980s
cop TV series came as close as any.
BATWATCH, I have to inquire: Who out there wanted a silver screen update
of a show that fell out of popularity three decades ago?
I doubt that very few exist.
Hell, even die hard fans of Rick Rosner's created TV show about the
exploits of the California Highway Patrol (or CHiPs) probably weren't
asking for this Dax Shepard written/directed film, which maybe should have
followed the formula of what the STARSKY
AND HUTCH movie did a decade-plus ago and crafted an update for
the purposes of farcical comedy.
Instead, Shepard's approach to the underlining material was
monumentally tone deaf and substituted idiotic and infantile R-rated
crudeness in place of trying to have some self-aware appreciation of
the source material.
Shepard's inclination to raw everything up in this film maybe
looked good on paper to him, but the end result is something vulgar and criminally unfunny.
While watching this pathetic movie you have to start wondering
whether or not Shepard had even seen a single episode of the TV show that
preceded it, or whether he cared in the slightest as to the quality of his
There have been far too many UNDERWORLD films that have been made
over the years that have graced these annual lists, with most of them
failing miserably to maintain my interest in their vampires versus
werewolves mythology. UNDERWORLD:
BLOOD WARS, the fifth and (sigh) arguably not the last entry in this
series, was a sequel that literally sleep walks through its mercifully
brief 91 minute running and coasted by on redundant autopilot, never once
enriching the centuries spanning saga of legendary "death
dealer" vampire Selene (played by a Kate Beckinsale in a bland
performance that's a personality and charisma black hole). It's
ultimately telling that her character - at the beginning of the film in a hilariously solemn voiceover narration track - informs the audience that
she's lived well beyond her time.
has this franchise.
THE SNOWMAN - not
to be at all confused with the Frosty variety - was a serial killer murder
mystery of limitless creative ineptitude, one that was so unpardonably
messy, moronically scripted, horrendously edited, and dourly performed
that I kind of wanted to reach out to the screen, touch the actors, and
check for a pulse to see if they were actually alive while making it.
Very few films from the year that was were as creatively
wrongheaded as this one.
the talent on board here as well!
We have stars Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Chloe Sevigny,
J.K. Simmons, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Val Kilmer, not to mention that
the film was directed by Tomas Alfredsen, whom previously made brilliant
films like TINKER
TAILOR SOLDIER SPY and LET THE RIGHT ONE IN.
Mournfully, everyone here is wasted, seeing as THE SNOWMAN was an
endurance test of will to sit through because of its horrible
misappropriation of talent and resources.
And its whodunit storyline - featuring a bewildering amount of
nonsensical plot detours, inconsistent editing, and some horrible
treatment of one of its actors (Kilmer, who looked frail and sickly in the
film, had his voice mysteriously and wretchedly dubbed by someone that
doesn't sound anything like him) - doesn't make a hill of beans worth of
sense, and probably never will upon multiple viewings. Granted,
I pity anyone that's foolishly crazy enough to want to revisit THE
SNOWMAN; you know you're in trouble when even the film's director speaks
out publicly against his final product, claiming it was unfinished and
nearly unwatchable because key scenes were never shot.
saw the coming of one of Stephen King's better cinematic adaptations from
his literary world in IT, but the
same year also showcased one of the worst to come along in quite some
DARK TOWER was a pathetic failure at basic world building,
which rushed itself out of the gate so hastily and so lazily that it never
truly felt like it had a cohesive game plan going forward from its
Based on King's revered science fiction/fantasy/western odyssey
that spanned eight books and took nearly three decades to craft by the
author, THE DARK TOWER movie is laughably only 95 minutes long and, as a
result, did a staggeringly incompetent job of distilling thousands upon
thousands of pages of literary mythology into one movie.
By cherry picking random elements of all of King's DARK TOWER book
series, this potentially rich and absorbing universe felt so feebly undeveloped
that even fanatic devotees of the iconic writer will probably have a tough
time extrapolating just what in the hell was going on here. Wasting
the immense talents of stars Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey,
displaying horrendous continuity gaffes (the product of multiple reshoots)
and a careless disregard to basic scripting, THE DARK TOWER was more of a
franchise killer than starter.
felt good. My TEN WORST
list is complete...but I'm not done yet! Here's a few more films that were not
terrible enough to make the TEN WORST, but were easily forgettable all the same.
NEGLIGIBLE FILMS OF 2017
of more intolerably dull erotic thrillers to emerge in quite some
time, and one that inspired frequent watch checking.
witless and mostly puerile comedy about two teachers having...an
end of school day fist fight.
HANGOVER wannabe unequivocally proved that any female
driven comedy can be just as tired, unfunny, and unoriginal as any
male driven one.
LAST OF THE ENFORCERS:
hockey themed sequel to the 2011 original engaged in a cringe
worthy level of hero worshiping over the legitimacy of the role of
enforcers in the sport.
are not many period dramas out there as amateurishly constructed
and criminally dull as this one.
AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS:
All of the visually opulent eye candy in the world couldn't save
this Luc Besson directed sci-fi flick from its hollow scripting.
extremely paint-by-numbers action comedy that squandered the
services of star Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson.
OF THE DRAGON:
could a film about the legendary Bruce Lee be so utterly bereft of
compelling things to say about his iconic stature in the industry?
Darren Aronofky's smug self-congratulatory audience mind screw job
of a film was simply too much to bare at times.
Clooney's subversive 1950s suburban satire suffered from a lack of
cohesion in its story threads and tones.
MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US:
and fairly unfunny sequel to the fairly mediocre Will Ferrell/Mark
Wahlberg starring original.
handsomely mounted outdoor wilderness survival thriller boasted
ample star power in Kate Winslett and Idris Elba...but not much
SPACE BETWEEN US:
initially intriguing young adult sci-fi romance was capsized by
the limitless weight of its own eye rolling schmaltz.
RETURN OF XANDER CAGE:
was the second best action film featuring Vin Diesel's Xander Cage
that I've ever seen (insert sarcastic comeback here).
critics hailed this as M. Night Shyamalan's triumphant return to
form; although miles ahead better than his worst films of the last
decade, SPLIT nevertheless reveled in storytelling contrivances
and annoying third act developments.
asking for a $100 million budgeted family film about gelatinous
monsters that inhabit trucks? Yeah, didn't think
energetic action thriller had a stellar cast, but was regrettably
not much more than a stale Tarantino clone.
completely disposable found footage thriller that brought
virtually nothing fresh and novel to the table.
tech industry thriller began with massive amounts of promise that unfortunately
never paid off in the end.
ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD:
Ritchie's quirky directorial excesses distracted any level of
intriguing scripting in this lackluster King Arthur Begins-esque
the tantalizing ideas brought forward by PROMETHEUS,
this follow-up entry in the ALIEN saga was a disappointing step
home casino themed comedy reflected how each new Will Ferrell
comedy is one of diminishing returns.
Cruise has never been more uninspiring in any film as he
was in this reboot of the classic Universal Studios monster
most expensive film in Netflix history was a failed opportunity of
marrying the cop thriller with fantasy.
A would-be rousing and toe tapping musical biopic of P.T. Barnum
was almost unintentionally funny for how one-sidedly sugarcoated
its portrayal of the man was.
||And finally, here's a dishonorable
mention list of films that I felt were more disappointing than
OPPORTUNITIES of 2017
Trust me when I
say that the white washing controversy that dogged this
Chinese/American production was the least of its concerns, seeing
as the end result was lacking in execution.
IN THE SHELL:
of white washing...yeah...this one deserved its
remarkable visual effects and groovy 1970s setting of this latest
King Kong film didn't mask how overstuffed it was with characters
and lacking in innovation.
AND THE BEAST:
needless cash-grab Disney live action adaptation of one of their
own animated classics.
better than expected at fleshing out its young heroes, but this
POWER RANGERS reboot tried to combine sobering high school drama
with goofy super hero heroics with mixed results.
Zach Braff directed old geezers robbing a bank comedy had a
sensationally effective casting trio that was undone by prosaic
FATE OF THE FURIOUS:
been an apologist of this series for years, but even I had to
concede that this eighth entry seems to be running out of creative
OF THE GALAXY: VOL. 2:
main issue with this sequel to the splendid original was that it
seems to have forgotten what made the first film so bloody
Schumer and Goldie Hawn comedy felt more like an elongated SNL
sketch than a fully realized big screen comedy.
OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES: This
mostly inessential PIRATES sequel was lazily
coasting by on pure autopilot.
Pitt was superb in this Netflix produced military satire,
but its meandering nature made the film feel disorganized.
CURE FOR WELLNESS:
Gore Verbinski directed psychological horror thriller looked
remarkable, but it fundamentally lacked in tension and
grizzled Arnold Schwarzenegger gave a grounded and credible
performance in this otherwise problematic fact-based
wall crawler's long awaited entry point into the Marvel Cinematic
Universe was modestly entertaining, but seemed to lack a
consistent grove and plan of attack for the titular
twenty years in the making sequel to the 1990s original that
defined the pop culture of its era had scripting that never
provided for an enthralling follow-through for its
acted reality based drama about child endangerment that never
really had the nerve to seriously tackle the issue.
intrinsically novel and ape shit crazy genre mashup that emerged more
as a strange curiosity piece than a transcendingly offbeat dramedy
that stuck with me.
Pattinson gave easily the finest performance of his career in this
otherwise emotionally cold and distancing crime thriller.
LOST CITY OF Z:
Robert Pattinson film makes the cut, this one featured him
co-staring with Charlie Hunnam in this fact based drama about
explorer Percy Fawcett that felt too truncated for its own good.
LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE:
vibrantly animated and beautiful to behold, this latest LEGO
feature film couldn't hold a candle to the far superior THE
LEGO MOVIE and THE
LEGO BATMAN MOVIE.
WARS: THE LAST JEDI: This
beautifully shot and impeccably acted eighth episode in the STAR
WARS saga featured too much mythology busting for its own good,
not to mention that it failed to pay off on key story beats that THE
FORCE AWAKENS established.
third film in the THOR standalone film trilogy was too aggressively
aiming for jokes and pratfalls for my tastes.
Payne's newest effort was an ambitious change of pace for him, but
mournfully emerged as one of his messier and more undisciplined
THE MONEY IN THE WORLD:
story behind the making of this film - with Christopher Plummer
replacing a publicly disgraced Kevin Spacey and with Scott
reshooting all of his scenes several weeks before the film
released - was arguably more compelling than the film
SHAPE OF WATER:
del Toro's period fantasy was beguiling to look at, but
emotionally kept me at an arm's distance when it was trying to
lure me in.
[added February 11]
H O M E