The Worst Movies of 2017
You know what they say about bad movies: They suck. And amidst the many pleasurable films that came out in 2017 there were some that were not so pleasurable. (Okay, more than some.) With the year winding down, it is time to take stock of the worst of the worst. For it is only by understanding the bad in the world can we truly appreciate the good. Or maybe we just like cracking jokes about The Emoji Movie. Can it be both? I think it’s both.
Looking around our list, a surprising pattern emerges: The names of some of our favorite directors. Almost all of the worst movies of 2017 were made by talented filmmakers who chose flawed concepts, or wrote bad screenplays, or generally lost control of their material somewhere along the way. We’ll chalk it up to an aberration and hope these men and women all do better next time. In alphabetical order, here are ScreenCrush editors Britt Hayes and Matt Singer’s picks for the worst movies of 2017.
Directed by Seth Gordon
Some people stand in the darkness. Afraid to step into the light. Like, for example, the people who couldn’t decide whether the Baywatch movie should be an earnest big-screen adaptation of the schlock basic cable series or a winking spoof of the series in the style of 21 Jump Street. The result was a deeply confused and thoroughly unsatisfying mix of the two. The cast of hardbodied comedians was certainly attractive but the special effects and action sequences were downright ugly, and the movie even spoiled its own surprise cameos by putting the names of the returning cast members in the opening credits. Not even “Franchise Viagra” Dwayne Johnson could rescue this mess. — Matt Singer
Read our full review of Baywatch.
The Book of Henry
Directed by Colin Trevorrow
Nothing can prepare you for the delightful awfulness that is The Book of Henry, the heartwarming story of a boy genius (Jaeden Lieberher) who (SPOILER ALERT) dies and leaves behind a book (of Henry) instructing his scatterbrained mother (Naomi Watts) to become a sniper so she can murder their neighbor in order to protect his stepdaughter from his abuse. Sound nuts? It is, and that is the just tip of the insanity iceberg. Made with absolute sincerity, and a wildly misplaced sense of self-confidence by director Colin Trevorrow, The Book of Henry also features laughable Christian symbolism, impossible Rube Goldberg devices, and Naomi Watts delivering the line “We are not murdering the police commissioner, and that is final!” An astonishing miscalculation on every level, it must be seen to be believed. It is the Citizen Kane of so-bad-it’s-good movies. It is S—izen Kane. — MS
Read our full review of The Book of Henry.
Directed by James Ponsoldt
With a few good movies under his belt, maybe it was just time for James Ponsoldt to strike out. You can’t fully blame the guy for the atrocities within The Circle, most of which can be attributed to flat performances and a poor script (that Ponsoldt co-wrote with original author Dave Eggers). On a technical level, The Circle is competently made. On every other level, it’s exasperating. The film, which stars Emma Watson and Tom Hanks (as a bad guy! YEAH RIGHT!), centers on an innovative tech company that introduces a new product that allows users to live “transparent” lives. The thinking is that people will be good as long as they are being watched. If only the same could be said of this movie. But it does have a very special musical performance cameo from Beck, so that’s ... something. — Britt Hayes
Read our full review of The Circle.
The Dark Tower
Directed by Nikolaj Arcel
File this highly-anticipated Stephen King adaptation under Most Disappointing Movie of 2017. After spending years in development hell, The Dark Tower assembled a promising creative trio, with director Nikolaj Arcel (A Royal Affair), and stars Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba. Unfortunately, Arcel largely stuck to the previous script, written by Akiva Goldsman — a guy who knows a thing or two about making movies that end up on lists like this one. Arcel said all the right things to earn the trust (and optimism!) of die-hard King fans, but he failed to deliver on the promise of a movie that would essentially serve as both a sequel to and reboot of Stephen King’s fantasy epic. The Dark Tower appeals to neither newcomers or fans, or human beings with eyeballs and ear holes. It introduces us to a crazy fantasy universe, then never bothers to explain what any of these things mean. Those who have read the book know why beams and orbs are important, but none of that stuff matters in a movie that, like McConaughey’s zany villain, is more interested in destroying worlds than building them. — BH
Read our full review of The Dark Tower.
Directed by Alexander Payne
There were definitely worse movies in 2017, but there may not have been a more frustrating one than Downsizing, or one that did less with a great premise. The idea: In a last-ditch effort to save the planet from environmental devastation, a group of Norwegian scientists devise a way to shrink humans down, which also shrinks their carbon footprint. Matt Damon, a humble physical therapist, is one of the early adopters. So far so good ... and then so bad. Director Alexander Payne completely abandons every interesting idea in the film’s first third to follow Damon’s Paul down a rabbit hole of bizarre plot twists and patronizing morals. Life is too short to waste it, which come to think of it should have been the movie’s tagline. — MS
Read our full review of Downsizing.
The Emoji Movie
Directed by Tony Leondis
Even by the standards of children’s entertainment, Th Emoji Movie was a horrible (or, if you prefer, 👎🏻). The story follows a meh emoji named Gene (T.J. Miller, getting motherf—ing paid globally while sounding motherf—ing bored constantly) as he explores all the apps on your smartphone that paid to be included in this gigantic piece of product placement barely disguised as a movie. My older daughter is about to turn 2 and is beginning to become aware of movies. We’ve shown her a few, and she’s liked almost all of them. It occurs to me that some day she will learn of The Emoji Movie’s existence, and ask me to watch it. I will leave in fear of this day until it arrives. — MS
Read our full review of The Emoji Movie.
Directed by Dean Devlin
How did Dean Devlin, the guy who co-wrote disaster movie hallmarks like Independence Day, screw up Geostorm, a disaster movie about a big storm that wipes out the planet? The answer is simple: Dean Devlin the director makes Dean Devlin the screenwriter look like William Shakespeare the playwright. Geostorm is paced like a melting glacier, with the only enjoyably silly action sequences all crammed into the last 30 minutes. The rest of the movie is Gerard Butler, playing a brilliant scientist (okay sure), trying to solve a mystery on a super weather satellite in space (okay sure). Not even Ed Harris randomly brandishing a rocket launcher could save this catastrophe. William Shakespeare’s Geostorm, now that would be a fun movie. — MS
Read our full review of Geostorm.
Directed by Zack Snyder
Joss Whedon and Zack Snyder’s directing styles and aesthetics could not be any more different, and yet Warner Bros., in their infinite wisdom, saw fit to have the former step in to complete production on Justice League when Snyder was forced to bow out. Whedon’s extensive reshoots combined with Snyder’s existing footage made for one big Frankenstein monster of a movie. The visual and tonal contrast between Whedon and Snyder’s work is jarring, to say the least — though not nearly as horrific as Henry Cavill’s CGI upper lip. (That we were robbed of Mustache Superman is a terrible tragedy.) The villain looks like a video game monster modeled after Liam Neeson, and Batman’s suit padding is hilariously squishy. I said that Whedon and Snyder’s styles couldn’t be any more different, but there is one exception: Both directors approach Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman with a lecherous eye. Their camera does not revere her; it leers at her. On the up side, Justice League will inspire you to revisit Wonder Woman, so it’s not all bad. — BH
Read our full review of Justice League.
Directed by Tomas Alfredson
Mister Director, you could have made a good movie, they gave you all the clues. For my money (about 12 bucks, actually), The Snowman is the absolute worst film of 2017. It’s not the most entertaining bad movie, or the most offensively bad movie, but it is the most hilariously incomprehensible movie I saw this year. There are so many insanely talented people involved in the making of this thing that it is astonishing how awful it is: Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In) directed The Snowman, which is based on a crime novel by Jo Nesbo (Headhunters). The movie stars Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Hall, and Charlotte Gainsbourg. It was executive produced by Martin Scorsese, and cut by his brilliant editor, Thelma Schoonmaker. How did all of these people make such a horrible movie? And if this totally nonsensical movie is the best Thelma Schoonmaker could do with what she was given, I’d hate to see what they had before she came along. — BH
Read our full review of The Snowman.
Underworld: Blood Wars
Directed by Anna Foerster
Man, 2017 has been a long year; so long that it feels like the Blood Wars were fought a decade ago. The newest Underworld sequel was just one of many horror franchise revivals to hit theaters this year, but it might have been the worst. You expect Resident Evil to be needlessly convoluted CGI garbage; and not a single person honestly believes a new Saw or Ring movie is actually a good idea. Of that group, Underworld had the most potential to entertain. This is, after all, the series that gave us vampire Michael Sheen’s totally bonkers O-face. Blood Wars feels like an American remake of a non-existent Japanese film based on an American soap opera about the mob — that should be a fun, if not necessarily good, time at the movies. Believe me when I say that it is most certainly not. — BH
Gallery - The Best Movie Posters of 2017: