Exclaim!'s 10 Most Disappointing Films of 2017 2017 in Lists
Published Jan 04, 2018There's no denying that 2017 sucked in myriad ways, both globally and locally. Since the sociopolitical climate (and, uh, actual climate) were cause for alarm on a daily basis, many of us retreated to movies for some sweet, sweet escapism. Unfortunately, the world of mass media was full of letdowns as well. We shovelled through the shit to bring you the 10 most disappointing movies of 2017.
(Directed by Ridley Scott)
I've read one review where a critic tries to argue that this is secretly a black comedy — Ridley Scott's reflection on the state of modern films and how inevitable humankind's destruction is in a post-Brexit, Trump-in-office, climate change-denying world. If so, he didn't do a very good job. Instead, he took a classic franchise — one he created, after all — and somehow made it even less relevant for modern times, filling in a backstory that doesn't need to be there and turning Michael Fassbender's David into a Dave Mustaine-looking dick of an android who runs around ruining entire societies. (We had enough of those in 2017, thanks.)
(Directed by David Leitch)
One of many action thrillers to mislead with an entirely badass trailer, David Leitch's Atomic Blonde fell apart onscreen. An adaptation of the graphic novel series The Coldest City, the bloated picture tried for too much at once. We were promised Charlize Theron's take on some John Wick action, but instead got a dull, tedious two hours about Cold War Berlin. It was all style before substance, and the style itself looked like tired David Ayer outtakes. Perhaps as an audience that will watch just about anything we don't deserve any better, but a veteran actor like Theron surely does. Atomic Blonde was atomically bland.
The Dark Tower
(Directed by Nikolaj Arcel)
With many Stephen King fans suggesting for years that his sprawling series The Dark Tower might just be impossible to adapt for the screen, why didn't Hollywood simply listen to them? Reduced to but a shell and some sullen stray fragments of its source material, Idris Elba's "Last Gunslinger" and Matthew McConaughey's "Man in Black" square off in some vague, portentous battle for the fate of humankind that involves a nefarious plan to hurl children into the titular tower. There may be a masterpiece that can be sculpted yet out of King's epic work but this is a slapdash attempt that barely even scratches the surface.
(Directed by Alexander Payne)
It turns out that Matt Damon wasn't just disappointing us in interviews about sexual misconduct in 2017 — he also delivered a handful of stinkers onscreen. Aside from Suburbicon, his other TIFF disaster was Downsizing. A collaboration with Alexander Payne — for which Damon turned down the lead role in Manchester by the Sea — the film is a meandering mess of a dramedy. Imagine if Honey I Shrunk the Kids was somehow broader and far too long, then cram in a mindless and unfocused message about the environment. There's a lot of talk about the need for fresh ideas in Hollywood these days, but Downsizing makes an alarmingly potent case for playing it safe instead. After all, whatever they were trying to do here completely sucked.
(Directed by Craig Gillespie)
Decades on from her headline-making controversy, the truth has emerged that Tonya Harding was as much a victim as Nancy Kerrigan in the famed '90s assault that left the latter with a debilitating injury. In fact, Harding's toxic family members were responsible for her miserable life, and to many she could be seen as a hero that broke out from her circumstances.
That she could've had an Oscar-worthy movie would've served as some redemption, but the execution of I, Tonya unfortunately proved to be another tainted achievement for the Harding legacy. Margot Robbie was undoubtedly strong in the titular role, but Craig Gillespie completely dropped the ball with his tonedeaf direction.
As the biopic unfolds, scenes of horrific violence appear to be played for laughs' there are CGI skating scenes that look like the Will Ferrell movie Blades of Glory; and Gillespie's mid-2000s indie style revels in awkward, dated quirks. The result is a film that unfortunately answers the question "What would Napoleon Dynamite be like if it was about domestic abuse?"
(Directed by Zack Snyder)
Perhaps it's unfair to have any sort of hope for a DCU film, but after years waiting for a high profile beat 'em up starring some of comics' biggest heroes, Zack Snyder defied the odds and directed an even bigger disaster than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The backstories were weak, there wasn't enough Wonder Woman, and, just when you thought Henry Cavill couldn't look any more dead behind the eyes, they actually filmed a scene where he's standing in a field full of CGI corn. Seriously, corn — that shit is grown everywhere. Enough with the green screen, dude.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
(Directed by Matthew Vaughn)
Much like comic book-loving bro across the pond, Zack Snyder, Matthew Vaughn has taken a once-promising career (2004 crime thriller Layer Cake still feels fresh more than a decade later) and basically decided to make the same, semi-stylish action movie again and again.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle is his worst yet, mixing in a slew of American actors who only seem there to get audiences into theatres (Channing Tatum's character is introduced, then remains frozen, Han Solo-style, for the length of the film) and a jungle-dwelling drug lord (in a shameless attempt to cash in on the popularity El Chapo and other cartel leaders thanks to shows like Narcos).
The best scene in this movie involves Elton John dropkicking a bad guy in the face, and even that couldn't make this mess of a movie worth the price of admission.
(Directed by James Ponsoldt)
On paper, The Circle had a lot going for it: the supposedly tense techno-thriller starred some big names (Tom Hanks and Emma Watson), was based on a Dave Eggers novel, and even had one of America's brightest talents helming the whole thing (The Spectacular Now/Smashed director James Ponsoldt). But upon its release this past spring, The Circle failed to connect with audiences and critics alike, due to its poorly planned tonal shifts, cliché dialogue and shitty attempts to say something about the state of surveillance in modern society. The fact this was Bill Paxton's final film is just fucking depressing.
(Directed by Lucia Aniello)
It's hard to say what's most disappointing about Rough Night. Is it how a plot involving the accidental killing of a male stripper at a bachelorette party quickly devolves into an escalating series of unfunny calamities while trying to cover up the crime? Or the way the film leans so heavily on the ample talents of funny women Ilana Glaser, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell and bona fide movie star Scarlett Johansson that their physical strain becomes noticeable? Or maybe it's the extraneous sub-plot involving a cross-country trip from Johansson's boyfriend that seems designed to either pad the it out to feature length and/or give co-writer Paul W. Downs a little more screen time? Upon further reflection, it's all of the above.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
(Directed by Luc Besson)
Luc Besson's spiritual successor to 1997's colourful and stylish The Fifth Element, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets delivered a mostly mixed bag. The film was chock full of visually extravagant and fantastical scenes, like an early one in which Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and his partner Laureline (Cara Delevigne) infiltrate a bustling VR marketplace. Too fast-paced and bonkers for a storyline to ever come together, Valerian would have worked better as a series of charming and colourful adventures. Two leads with zero romantic chemistry (although Rihanna, who appears in the film as a shapeshifting alien burlesque performer named Bubble, is surprisingly delightful, and another one of the film's highlights) make Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets an altogether disappointing venture, a mishmash of wonderful, inventive ideas with no solid basis on which to land.
Laura Di Girolamo