Wooo. What the fuck, movies? Why you so worst? Here’s last year’s list.

As always, my list is half a “most disappointing” list and half a “these movies are truly awful shit” list. This was another year where I was light on movies that I could include on this list. Ghost in the Shell narrowly avoided being on it, but you could consider it a bonus 11th spot since I think dependent on mood I could easily swap it in for the current 10th spot. Also, Little Evil could probably take the place of any on the back half of this list because that movie was a piece of shit but I kind of forgot about it when writing this whole thing so call it the bonus 12th spot?

I’ve had more time this year for movies and hobbies and fun shit and 2017 was a very obliging year for distractions and escapism. Makes sense, I guess? Still, every year brings its movies that should have been good, but weren’t, and ones that were just pure trash and maybe even a little evil like gift-wrapped packages sent straight to us from some kind of belligerent cinema demi-god that wants us to suffer. And suffer we have! At least a little bit. Because even in a year as stacked as 2017, you’re still going to get a Transformers movie.

10. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

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Review.

Look, the first like five minutes of this movie are about as good as science fiction filmmaking has gotten in 2017 (which is really saying something) but the other hundred plus minutes of Valerian? Not so much. This movie is awash with amazing visuals, concepts, and bits of scifi catnip but it never hangs together as an actual movie with an actual story worth experiencing via characters worth knowing. Too much of the really fundamental aspects feel low effort, like this is 2017’s answer to Battle Beyond the Stars. That sort of thing has its charm, and I think I will always have a soft spot for this movie because of its anti-colonial message and the aforementioned opening sequence. This movie is the opposite of “more than the sum of its parts”. This one just never lives up to the sum of its parts, many of which deserve a better movie.

9. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

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No Review.

Not as bad as On Stranger Tides is about the nicest thing you can say about this one. You have to really be committed to this universe (what?) and Capt. Jack (why?) to derive much enjoyment from the anemic 5th installment of this franchise. I mean, the fact that this thing keeps going is only a little less baffling than that there’s a new Transformers movie every 2 or 3 years. I miss the days when Pirates of the Caribbean was written by cocaine monkeys (see: Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End)  and needed a little brochure explaining the loony tunes plot and world to audiences. This movie shrinks the world even further by using the flagging popularity of the series as an excuse to bring back “old favorites” like Orlando Bloom while introducing boring new legacy characters  played by boring new actors (who feel like they came in a fucking kit) to replace Will and Elizabeth Turner. Which works about as well as it sounds. Still, the annoying thing about these movies is that they are always more or less functional and handsome-looking, if overlong and stuffed with bullshit. Ultimately, though, they have become forgettable.

8. King Arthur: The Legend of the Sword

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Review

While a fun movie in its own way, King Arthur fails to do anything worthwhile with its punk rock sensibility to genre and fails to hang together as a story worth more than the parts from which it is composed. It’s too self-indulgent and smug to be saved even by its breakneck pace. Compare it to something like Thor: Ragnarok, another fast and punkish (puckish?) spin on expectations for a nerdy genre but which also happens to go way further with it as a means to deconstruct its cinematic and narrative context. King Arthur isn’t interested in doing anything like that. Its social commentary is about as deep as a wrestlemania event and largely without the self-awareness. It’s actually hard to talk about this movie without repeating the review, so I recommend reading that if you haven’t because I ended up having tons to say about about King Arthur even though I still can’t recommend it to anyone.

7. Alien: Covenant

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Review.

While not as bafflingly stupid or insulting as Prometheus, this newest Alien/Not-Alien movie is still pretty dumb. And boring. I think the worst thing about it is that it’s boring. I know how subjective and vague both those words are, but I really think they’re relevant and closely linked here. Covenant is a movie that thinks it’s really clever but its cleverness is razor thin and about as sharp as a pair of crocs. Things that are dumb while acting smart are usually pretty boring, especially when they are as self-serious and grim as Covenant tends to be. Back when I first wrote about it, I wasn’t sure it should be called boring but I definitely think so now. I’m not saying this should have been a “fun” movie, but it could have been a little self-aware. Very little of the things this movie tries to do and be ever feel earned or justified by anything that actually happens in it. Judging by Ridley Scott’s increasingly dumb comments about far better films, maybe he’s just finally slipping.

6. Justice League

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No Review.

Hey, it’s not as bad as last year’s shitty DC movies! That’s something, guys. It really is. Still, it’s pretty fucking bad and if not for this being another goddamn Transformers year, I think this would be lower down the ladder. I mean, how did this movie even get released with its CG mannequin version of Henry Caville? Most of the actors are doing their best to elevate the material (sorry Fisher, but Cyborg is a wet fart) and yet the movie around them seems to be this sticky goo they can never really emerge from. From the baffling choice to sex up the design of the Amazons to the early 2000s era video game feel of Steppenwolf’s lair (to say nothing of Steppenwolf himself), this movie just reeks of barely held together chaos. It’s like five different departments were responsible for the look of this thing and only communicated by smoke signals and Rorschach diagrams. There’s so little congruity in Justice League that it walks back the light of hope cast by Wonder Woman while simultaneously making that movie an exception that proves the rule: this cinematic universe is already imploding.

5. Transformers: The Last Knight

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No Review.

I should really review every Transformers movie that comes out. FCH says “never hate a movie” and I honestly try to live up to that but sometimes hating a movie and delivering a much deserved smackdown on it is too damn delicious to resist. So I regret not writing one for this movie. Writing negative reviews is easy, and a lot of fun, but it’s always better to stand up for things. The trouble is, there’s nothing really redeeming about the Transformers movies to stand up for and I’m still not sure why I make it a priority to watch them when they come out (though never again in theaters). It’s obligatory to see them in the same way it’s obligatory to put them on this list. It’s like I can’t stop myself. I mean, this movie is terrible sure but it’s not even terrible in an interesting way. The days of Transformers being bad and interesting are long over. Now they’re bad but with Arthurian myths stapled on. The Transformers movies are this but you know… not in a fun way?

4. Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle

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No Review.

I really thought I was going to go against the grain on this one but the critics who trashed this half-baked sequel were right to do so. For a while I thought Golden Circle had something on its mind that was worth hearing, but instead it’s mostly just a retread of the first one with one of the biggest bait and switches in recent memory (Channing Tatum is in the movie for like five minutes) and the disappointments just don’t stop there. The first one was kind of a Brexit movie with some really deplorable politics in retrospect, but this one makes that even worse and goes several steps further in presenting a world where “the liberals” are to blame for all of society’s ills. Environmentalism? Evil. Drug decriminalization? So fucking evil. All of that would be fine still if, like the first one, we were able to have any fun but Golden Circle lacks the clever genre deconstruction of its predecessor and goes for a far more straightforward riff on the pre-Craig Bond movies. And this is bad, for the record. The result here is a sloppy movie that feels like it some set pieces and characters were ready to go while others weren’t, but still needed to be slapped together somehow.

3. Rough Night

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No Review.

I’m ashamed to admit I actually defended this movie before it came out. The trailers were turning a lot of people off with their comedic take on killing sex workers, which I thought might be redeemed in the movie itself. Well, it sort of is only if you accept the pat way that situation is resolved. I might have been willing to overlook that if the surrounding movie had been funny or good… like at all. Actually, let me walk that back a bit. The most ironic thing about a movie which is intended to be a version of Very Bad Things mixed with The Hang Over and gender-swapped is that the best and funniest parts of it come from its male cast, especially Paul W. Downs who generates many of this movie’s relatively few laughs. For such a stacked cast of genuinely funny and talented women, Rough Night bogs itself down with its unwillingness to ever be as mean as Very Bad Things (these girls face zero real consequences for their actions) or as bizarre as The Hang Over (not that it’s a good movie really) and actually winds up being a pretty grating and condescending “girl friendship” story that thinks it’s Bridesmaids over here. You’re just better off seeing Girls’ Trip than this bullshit.

2. iBoy

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No Review.

I hate this one. I’m sorry, FCH. I’m sorry! But I really do. iBoy is a nonsensical, scummy edgelord wish fulfillment fantasy with racist overtones. It’s so ridiculous that it’s barely worth getting your dander up over, but the fact that it is so self-serious and unironically grimdark just tickle my irritation button something fierce. The powers iBoy gets and how he gets them are maybe the first thing that’ll make you go “wait, what?” but the hits will just keep on coming. This movie habitually insults the intelligence of its audience while rewarding the impulses and prejudices of the worst kind of manchildren. It’s a movie that to say “oh it’s entertaining” without stopping and going “but…” at all of its many socio-political statements is sheer ignorance.

1. The Dark Tower

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Review.

Speaking of irritation buttons. The burning suns of scorn deep in my soul have not yet burnt out for this dumpster fire of a movie. Just a miscalculation on nearly every level except casting, which remains one of the movie’s strengths, though the performances don’t really live up to it. Though it’s absolutely a horrid version of it, it’s interesting to note that The Dark Tower‘s “young hero who gets old mentor to give a shit again” arc is shared with both Logan and The Last Jedi. Something must have been in the water this year. The Dark Tower just fails to be both a solid adaptation of its source material and an enjoyable if watered down YA reskin of one of the most bizarre and decidedly not-for-kids novels I can think of. Making The Dark Tower a Percy Jackson clone is like taking Leonard Cohen’s novel Beautiful Losers and turning it into a quirky romantic comedy targeted at the same demographic who reads Twilight. Wait… is that idea actually genius!? No. It fucking isn’t. It’s a crime against humanity. Just like this movie.


 

Another year another… dollar? Well no. But I may yet have a surprise for you gentle readers. Someone suggested I record myself reading my reviews and I have been thinking about that. I bet it’ll sound something like this:

But probably not.

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