As I said in my Best of 2017, the ratio of good-to-bad movies was pretty decent this year, but the 2017 had its share of stinkers as well. Two quick notes: I (obviously) couldn’t include any movies I didn’t see (so you’re off the hook, The Emoji Movie); and as always, the presence of a movie on this list doesn’t inherently mean I disliked it. Enjoy!
Ridiculous even by disaster movie standards, this delicious hunk of cheese was the only bad movie of the year I genuinely enjoyed. See my review for more.
5. Underworld: Blood Wars
The Underworld series has never been ambitious, but it’s been a fairly enjoyable, undemanding series for four (or three, or two, or one, or zero, depending on who you ask) installments. This is no longer the case with Blood Wars, which finds the series at its dullest and most lifeless. A few stylish action sequences can’t hide the fact that this sequel is doing nothing more than spinning its wheels until the inevitable next installment. The only hope for the next entry is for the story to make some major changes. Did someone say, “Blade crossover”?
4. Kong: Skull Island
Though it’s hardly the out-and-out worst film on this list, Kong: Skull Island is the most bland, indistinguishable movie this side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The script is by-the-numbers pap, the characters are less than one-note, and the action sequences leave the viewer’s mind as soon as they’re over. Now I’m perfectly capable of enjoying a movie that embraces as many hokey clichés as possible, but not one that does so in such a joyless way. John C. Reilly’s game comic-relief turn and some solid effects provide the sole bright spots, but they’re nowhere near enough to save this turkey.
3. Alien: Covenant
One would hope that Ridely Scott would have no problem returning to the territory that made him a star, but Alien: Covenant proves that sometimes you can’t go home again. Read my review for more.
This awkward blend of arrested development dramedy and Japanese monster movie works about as well as you’d expect it to. Colossal benefits from Anne Hathaway’s committed performance, but the movie itself is a complete mess, complete with grating tonal shifts and an anemically motivated third-act betrayal. Unsurprisingly, it’s at its best when it eschews the whole monster subplot, which proves to be nothing more than a giant eyesore blocking the view of a much better movie.
1. The Bad Batch
This amorphous blob of pseudo-artistic garbage commits the worst possible sin in cinema: it’s boring. Now by “boring” I don’t mean slow-paced, I don’t mean challenging, and I don’t mean it requires patience. I just mean really fucking boring. The movie has something to do with a young woman in a semi-apocalyptic future, who, after being half-dismembered, ventures to a decadent settlement. Or something. The Bad Batch’s story, which could only by the most generous of definitions be called a “plot,” has about enough substance for a ten-minute short, yet it clocks in at an excruciating 115 minutes. The tragedy of this movie is how good it could have been with a revamped screenplay; the actors are solid, the director’s debut feature A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night was excellent, and the desert cinematography conveys its subject well. But Jesus, I wouldn’t wish the tedium of this movie on my worst enemy. When I saw it in the theater, my brother fell asleep a third of the way through. He was the lucky one.
Honorable Mention (i.e. Most Overrated)
Phantom Thread: This is far too well-made a movie to make it into my Worst Of, but I felt inclined to include it in this section because it easily wins the “most disappointing” category. Beautiful to look at, impeccably acted, and a chore to get through, Phantom Thread is a promising movie let down by an indulgent and undisciplined screenplay.
The Post: The word that best describes the post is “competent.” Words that do not best describe it are “stirring,” “memorable,” or “subtle.” Spielberg remains a master craftsman, but his latest is self-righteous, simple, and in its worst moments, downright cringe-worthy. Watch Spotlight instead.