To read my watchlist and guilty pleasures of 2017, click here.
Let’s count down the worst films officially released in the Republic of Ireland in 2017!
Before we start, I want to announce yet another change to my format, like I do every year. Last year, I made the decision to cut out honourable or dishonourable mentions and just have every movie I loved or hated in the list. This year, both lists ballooned until my worst reached 40. This is a mistake, as it adds more work onto the writing of these, delegitimises both what I thought were the most remarkable and loathsome films of the year and my credibility as a critic to be honest and decide which films deserve to stand out above the crowd.
With all that said, here are the movies I paved off my worst list to make way for the real shite:
All Eyez on Me, Conor McGregor: Notorious, Circles in the Sun, Death Note, The Greatest Showman, Home Again, The House, The Journey, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, I’m Not Ashamed, The Mummy, Personal Shopper, Rings, Stratton, Suburbicon, Thelma
So, on with the list! Starting with:
24. Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You
I haven’t actually looked into the fan reaction to this 20th anniversary special of the monstrously (heh) popular games series, and subsequent mass media empire that was created from it. As someone who was into the hype as a kid, goddamn was this a letdown. Some impressive animation aside, it was a weird blend of stories lifted wholesale from the original anime, alongside some incredibly tacked on cameos. With this as well, it introduces new characters that take away from a pairing fans would love to have seen! It fails as a fandom film as well as just a decent story on its own as it’s too rambling and episodic to really add up to anything-characters motivations are left underdeveloped, the stuff with Ho-Oh is told through painful exposition, and it drags on way too much for a relatively short little special. It’s one of those things that reminds you that this series was created to sell toys, and that really is the worst thing to be reminded of.
23. Rules Don’t Apply
Howard Hughes is a figure of great fascination, and his period of paranoid reclusion is a note of fascination for people that it’s surprising more films haven’t been made of it. Warren Beatty’s passion project, which he directs as well as plays Hughes, fails to really give us the full meat of this material. It’s instead a poorly planned out, (unintentionally) confusing slog that can’t decide whether Hughes is as interesting as the boring breeding pair are. Beatty’s portrayal is certainly admirable, but really turns a tale of an overly-affluent control freak at the tail end of his life into a thundering dud.
22. Alien: Covenant
Already spoken about this turkey, and my opinions of it have not changed much. It’s an absolute blight on a series with too much blight to count, the crew are incredibly nondescript and bigger morons than those in Prometheus, Fassbender hams it up to the nth degree, and we’re treated to some rubbery CGI and an insanely unnecessary origin story for the Xenomorphs. Scott’s consistent aesthetic flair is here as always (though nowhere near as visually stunning as its predecessor), but nothing here can really justify that baffling decisions made in making these prequels. At least one good thing that came from the Disney/Fox merger is that this series is officially dead.
The sequel, or is it remake?, of the 1990 Joel Schmacher film is definitely something to behold. Well, nope, not really, it’s a desperately flimsy rehash of the original that adds absolutely nothing to the story except remove a lot of interesting elements and character development. It’s impressive to me that this managed to take the subtlety out of a Joel Schumacher flick! It’s baffling to me that they decided to remake this property in the first place, considering watching it makes it clear nobody involved had any passion for what they were doing, as it’s such an obscure film the ‘cash grab’ excuse doesn’t really roll. It’s a shameless and dull as shit sci-fi horror that takes an interesting idea and fills it with unlikeable characters and some painful drug metaphors that undercuts any real drama inherit to the concept itself. It’s a good day to die, indeed.
Heeeey, let’s tell a story about generations of a family growing up and dying with an overwrought narrator, and that’s it. That’s the movie. It’s impossible to get any connection out of anything that’s happening, it’s naval gazing at its finest because we don’t get much insight into anything going on because of the narration, it’s got some nice shots I guess, mostly at the beach scene, but we’re stuck mostly to houses, and even costume drama aficionados will likely not be able to stick around for the period aesthetic because it’s so hard to engage with any of this, even the theme of generational longevity. Eternity is an appropriate title-I still feel like I’m watching it.
Matthew McConaughey is a damn great actor, and his talents have been absolutely exemplified in many many roles since his overly-celebrated ‘McConaissance’. This one is not one of them. A trite and terribly derivative attempt of making the Wolf of Wall Street lightning strike twice, it’s unimaginative, bland, with some pretty phoned in performances sans the lead. It has a haughty weight with no sense of fun or wit that its contemporaries boast (Tom Cruise’s similar but much better vehicle American Made comes to mind), but alas the main story is just not interesting enough to hold any relevance in the slightest. Matt shouldn’t have believed in his soul on this one.
18. The Space Between Us
I hope you remembered this turkey because I doubt anybody else did! A terribly forgettable and lacklustre screenplay put onto actors way too good for this material results in a young romance film that doesn’t feel youthful or romantic. Gary Oldman is one of the most confused characters I’ve seen all year, the film’s internal logic barely holds up to scrutiny, this kid is way too socially capable given his background, and they somehow hid a child who is stuck on the Moon. This really felt like a YA cash-in on quasi-realist space faring films like The Martian and Gravity, but fails on being either explorative or involving, leaving it to float off into nothing.
You know, the success of 21 Jump Street kind of opened the floodgates of terrible self-aware adaptations of popular television shows. While a lot of people fixated more on the bizarrely toned but still overall salvageable Baywatch, CHiPs really took the piss in just how nonsensical and unfunny it is. The tone is way too all over the place, given the villain has way too serious a story, and it’s actually incredible how little chemistry Michael Pena and Dax Shepard have. I can’t imagine people who remember the show would get much out of this shallow and desperate attempt at a cash-in for a property not a lot of people remember, and it’s just so painfully stupid and horribly cobbled together that it won’t do much for general audiences. Here’s hoping this is a trend that dies quickly.
Gerard Butler is a world-saving scientist should have been the death knell to this terrible concept right from the get-go. The directorial debut of regular Roland Emmerich screenwriter Dean Devlin, this film got delayed and delayed until it came out around the same time as high-profile hurricanes and manage to feel ill-timed instead of relevant. And yet even without all this this would have been terrible. It manages to have Emmerich’s casts of thousands and a ridiculously silly conspiracy plot with too many moving pieces to follow coherently, plot points that are baffling in their stupidity and set pieces that feel more nausea-inducing than awesome. But it lacks the weird sincere charm of good Roland’s hand. When you have me compliment the director of the ’98 Godzilla movie, something has gone horribly wrong.
15. The Last Word
Shirley McLaine’s vehicle for a celebrated performance just falls flat on its ass as they manage to write an entirely loathsome character who seems to get worse when they try to make her nice. This dismal attempt at heartstring pulling and introspection fails to connect on any relevant way and has story beats that just come right the fuck out of nowhere and are so tonally dissonant that you have to wonder how the fuck they thought any of this would work. The actors try their best to get something out of this low grade material, but its goofy writing and contrived attempts at pathos just cannot work when none of the cast are remotely likeable or interesting. A character study in how not to write character studies.
14. Everything Everything
Obvious joke out of the way here: what’s wrong with this movie? Everything, everything! This is another trying to buck a weird trend of romance stories aimed at teenagers being about terminal illness, and I’d almost pass off its terrible attempts of making its characters ‘deep’, how saccharine and incongruous with the material the tone is, how incredibly seriously boring the male love interest is or how the lead manages to fly to fucking Hawaii by stealing her mother’s credit card. All of this is stupid, but it’s something I could have overlooked had it not been for the fucking ending. It’s such an insulting reveal that betrays everything they were building up and is so badly thought out that I can’t believe anybody thought it would work in any capacity. Ugly and manipulative movie screened in a bubbly light.
13. The Black Prince
What a fascinating and relevant story from history utterly butchered by shockingly terrible acting, flat and unimaginative cinematography and a complete lack of straightforward narrative in terms of what it is trying to be. Boiling down the rather complex relationships that defined the history of these figures feels almost insulting, none of the characters remotely feel like they have any connection, the film just looks flat and banal with no sense of grandeur this could have exhibited, and it’s so goddamn slow and meandering it’s really difficult to connect with the material. Duleep Singh deserves a better movie than this, and hopefully he can be provided one and leave this a black spot on his historical record.
12. Ghost in the Shell
The controversy surrounding this live-action adaptation of the incredibly famous manga and anime movie is definitely something to be noted. It’s lucky for everyone involved, then, that it really doesn’t matter because this movie is terrible. Incredible pandering to its source material without any interesting ideas of its own, derivative art style that’s insanely non-engaging, scenes are repeated wholesale from the ’95 movie without a hint of their subtlety or weight, the story is boring and there’s an incredibly dumb twist involving Major that exacerbates said controversy. If you really want to relive the magic and intrigue of the original film…well, you know what to do. Don’t watch this shit.
11. Take the 10
Netflix’ daring model of ‘Taking whatever the fuck’ has served them well, as they’re a platform that never misses a great opportunity for content. This has worked wonders for their TV programming, a little more mixed on their movies. While they have produced gems like Beasts of No Nation and pretty much any of their documentaries, this comedy was an absolute painful reminder of what little quality control they can have. A buddy comedy with Tony Revolori and that lad from some Nickelodeon show, it’s almost hilarious how little the plot makes sense or has any thought or passion put into it. It’s a ‘slap it in and sees what sticks’-style fare where nothing sticks, most of the characters are incredibly obnoxious or superfluous, Josh Peck’s character is gratingly annoying and it’s such a hodgepodge mess of idiocy that it’s amazing that the director even thought he had something sell-able on his hands. Yet sell it did. Please send it back.