Cinema Knife Fight proudly presents:
THE WORST MOVIES OF 2017
As Presented by LL Soares & Michael Arruda
(LS and MA step from behind a curtain to applause as, dressed in tuxedos, they approach a podium)
MA: And now it’s time for our choices for the worst movies of the year!
LS: 2017 was a good year for movies. It was difficult coming up with 10 movies I saw that I truly hated. Most of the bad ones fell more into the “mediocre” category — you know, movies that were just meh. Which is actually a good thing, I guess. I want to avoid spending hard-earned money on total crap as much as possible.
MA: I agree. Usually, the majority of movies I see usually fall into the mediocre category—the two to two and a half knife range—but this year? Nowhere near as many average movies. Instead, there were a heck of lot of movies that I really liked, and just not that many that I disliked. In fact, there were only a handful of films that I saw that I thought were flat out awful, most of which will appear right here in this column.
LS: The same here. But since I actually have more bile for a few movies I saw that were disappointing more than outright awful, I’ll save a special place for those at the end.
MA: Sure. Why don’t you start us off?
LS: My Number Five pick is a tie between RINGS and FLATLINERS, the former being a sequel to the RING franchise, and FLATLINERS being a remake, sort of, of the 1990 movie of the same name. Right off the bat, I didn’t think these were absolutely terrible, just kind of a letdown. RINGS brings the “videotape that kills you if you watch it” into the modern day, by turning the video into a MP3 file instead. I guess they thought this was a big improvement, but it wasn’t. It was a very mediocre addition to the series. Although it was cool to see Johnny Galecki as a professor who is using his students as guinea pigs for the streaming files. And Vincent D’Onofrio is in it too, as a kind of crazy guy living in the woods, if I remember correctly. We saw this all the way back in January of 2017, and there’s no way I’m watching it again to make sure. FLATLINERS had a decent cast, including Ellen page, Diego Luna, Kiersey Clemons, and the standout here was Nina Dobrev. Keifer Sutherland even shows up as a professor (he was one of the kids in the original version). It starts out really promising, and then by mid-way just turns to crap, throwing away any potential it had to be a decent horror movie. Because FLATLINERS had more potential, I think I disliked it a little more.
MA: My Number Five choice is PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES.
LS: I saw part of the first PIRATES movie on cable awhile back and just shut it off, and I haven’t seen any of the sequels. And I’m proud of it.
MA: While I still enjoy the Captain Jack Sparrow character played by Johnny Depp, the PIRATES films themselves have become shallow and redundant, with no sense of storytelling whatsoever. PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES is really the tale of two new characters: Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), the son of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), the dashing blacksmith who teamed up with Jack Sparrow in the first three PIRATES movies, and Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario). Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is still around, but he’s not really the main focus here.
The screenplay by Jeff Nathanson is pretty much geared to six-year-olds. The humor doesn’t work, either. The jokes are watered down and not edgy enough to earn many laughs. The film plays like a TRANSFORMERS movie underwater. Special effects galore, but no story to be found, which is a shame, because it wastes a character I like a lot, Captain Jack Sparrow. This fifth PIRATES film is flat-out awful. Better to walk the plank than to sit through two-plus hours of this sea tale.
LS: Well, thanks for seeing it for me. I’m sure there will be more sequels, and I’ll avoid those, too.
MA: Coming in at Number Four for me was GHOST IN THE SHELL, an awful science fiction flick starring Scarlett Johansson. It’s based on a comic and classic anime movie from 1995, which, in spite of the extravagant special effects and eye-popping visuals, is about as imaginative as yolk in the shell.
Johansson plays The Major, a cyborg with a human brain. She’s surprisingly dull in the role. The screenplay by Jamie Moss, William Wheeler, and Ehren Kruger, based on the Japanese comic “The Ghost in the Shell” by Masamune Shirow, is anemic and flat. The dialogue is uninspiring, and the story dull and mindless. Director Rupert Sanders does a nice job with the visuals and adds some nifty cinematic touches, although the dazzling futuristic cityscape is not entirely original, as it is clearly reminiscent of the look of Ridley Scott’s BLADE RUNNER (1982).
A major disappointment, GHOST IN THE SHELL is about as thought-provoking and compelling as those awful RESIDENT EVIL and UNDERWORLD movies. Without a doubt, it’s my least favorite Scarlett Johansson movie.
LS: I have to agree with that. It would have been Number 8 on my list. Not awful, but just very, very bland. Even the normally terrific Scarlett Johansson couldn’t save this one from being a complete snooze. It’s too bad this one is such a dud, because I love the original anime film from 1995. Maybe there was no reason to make a live-action version of this? That’s what I took away from it. This movie also got a lot of grief for “whitewashing” the storyline, since the original story (comic and animated film) took place in Japan, with Japanese characters. It would kind of redeem the movie if it was actually good—but it’s not.
My Number 4 choice is FIFTY SHADES DARKER, the sequel to FIFTY SHADES OF GREY. A totally wimpy, unintentionally funny movie about a BDSM relationship that made me laugh out loud. On second thought, maybe it wasn’t so bad. I had a good time watching it because it was so hilarious. One of the best comedies I saw in 2017. But since that wasn’t the movie’s intention, I guess I’ll stick with it as my fourth worst movie. Because, despite being so entertaining, it’s just plain awful.
My Number 3 choice is THE DARK TOWER. Not only is it a bad movie, I might have to call it the number one screw-up of 2017. Stephen King wrote a whole series of Dark Tower books. This should have been an epic. And director Nikolaj Arcel even has Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey as his main adversaries. All this sounds like a winning combination, but it’s not. Instead of actually adapting King’s novels, Arcel says it’s a sequel or a prequel or a condensed version of two of the books. I lose track. All I know is instead of an epic, it’s a brief 90-minute hodge-podge that jumps around and makes the entire series seem like a bore. I’m sure the books are way better than this movie, but if we take the movie completely on its own, it’s a total letdown. Arcel had so much to work with, and this could have been the start of a new, exciting film franchise, and he completely blew it.
MA: My Number 3 is RINGS, which was so incredibly dull and boring I almost couldn’t sit through it. The biggest offender? The storytelling. The screenplay by three writers—David Loucka, Jacob Estes, and Akiva Goldsman—really struggles to tell a story. The movie gets off to such a disjointed start, it’s laughable.
Director F. Javier Gutierrez goes through the motions. No memorable images or scares to be found. Don’t bother with this one. It’s a complete waste of time.
LS: What about the updating it from a videotape to streaming files. Wasn’t that clever. (laughs)
My pick for the Second Worst movie of the year is THE MUMMY.
A disaster from start to finish, I can only hope this becomes a lost film. With THE MUMMY, Universal launched their “Dark Universe” series, an attempt to reimagine their monster movies of yesteryear as a sort of Marvel Superhero Universe wannabe. This is a huge mistake. Someone needs to shut this concept down yesterday. The idea of rebooting these classic Universal monster movies as superhero action flicks is an insult to the original films. If you are going to remake them, they need to be remade as horror movies, plain and simple.
The story is a complete mess and features Egyptian artifacts stolen by crusader knights, a secret spy organization run by Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe), a dashing treasure hunter named Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) and oh yes, there is a mummy, Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella). This movie is so bad that not even the prospect of a female mummy can save it.
Things get so bad Tom Cruise’s character is actually referred to as a “young man.” Cruise’s presence here doesn’t do the movie any favors. Not that it would have saved this movie, but a younger more dynamic actor would have made things a bit better. And poor Russell Crowe is forced to utter the worst lines in the movie as Dr. Jekyll. His voice-over narration at the end of the film is so bad it sounds like an off-the-cuff ad lib about good vs. evil. He gets to say such nonsense as “which side will win— we just don’t know. He might be a hero. He might be evil.” This might be a real script. And as the Mummy, Ahmanet, Sofia Boutella just isn’t given enough to do to have any relevant impact.
Here’s hoping THE MUMMY is lights out for the “so-called” Dark Universe.
LS: My Number 2 movie of the year is called THE BYE BYE MAN. Another movie where a monster comes forth when you say its name. Hell, the Bye Bye Man is so powerful, even thinking his name is bad. What a scary guy! Err, no. Candy Man and Bloody Mary should sue. This one has no scares and nothing much to recommend it. In fact, it’s pretty damn forgettable. And I don’t need to say anything else about it.
My Number One pick for the Worst Movie of 2017 was an easy one. It’s THE MUMMY, starring Tom Cruise.
I’m a huge fan of the Universal monster movies of the 1930s and 40s. I’m also a huge mummy fan, from Boris Karloff’s Imhotep from the original THE MUMMY (1932) to Lon Chaney Jr.’s Kharis in a series he did in the 40s. When the 1999 remake came out starring Brendan Fraser, I totally hated it, because instead of retelling the horror classic, it was just an Indiana Jones rip-off with a mummy in it!
So, when there was word that Universal was remaking The Mummy again, I hoped it would get it right this time. No Brendan Fraser. And this time it’s a female mummy, which could be great, as long as she’s evil and scary. Even though I was completely against the idea of rebooting the Universal monsters in a way that imitated the Marvel Superhero Universe, I went into this one still hoping it might be good. But it’s not.
It’s even worse than the Brendan Fraser version. Because now, instead of wanting to be Indiana Jones, it wants to be a bad Tom Cruise action movie. And it succeeds.
I liked Sofia Boutella as the mummy, Ahmanet, but she’s not in it enough, and she isn’t even the main bad guy here. I’m a huge Jekyll and Hyde fan, but the Dr. Jekyll here, played by Russell Crowe (who I normally like), is just another government cipher to keep the story moving. Universal’s “Dark Universe” version of Nick Fury. Even Crowe’s transformation into Hyde was a completely letdown.
And, front and center, dominating the whole thing like an insidious virus, is Tom Cruise.
He had actually started to win me over recently with some good turns in the first JACK REACHER movie (2012), and the science fiction flick EDGE OF TOMORROW (2014). But this role went back to everything I can’t stand about Cruise in action-mode. And it was bad enough that it totally revolved around the black hole sun that is Cruise, but on top of that, it ended with Cruise’s character being possessed by the bad guy, and having ultimate power! I know that’s a spoiler, but I don’t care, because the chances of there being a sequel to this one are so slim, it’s almost non-existent. Instead of the actual Mummy being the main character, and moving on to the proposed “shared universe” of movies, Cruise’s lame-ass character was the one that was going to continue the journey. And I am so damn happy this movie tanked, so that I never have to see that happen.
And I really hope this kills Universal’s plans to bring back the old monsters in a shared universe. Because whoever planned all this didn’t know what the hell they were doing. Better to have the classic monsters be dormant than to revive them in this kind of garbage.
MA: You really hated that one.
LS: Kind of.
MA: And my pick for the Worst Movie of 2017?
THE BYE BYE MAN.
While 2017 was a great year for horror movies, it didn’t start out that way. Back in January we had to endure THE BYE BYE MAN. It’s hard to believe that any movie in 2017 could be worse than THE MUMMY, but unbelievably, there was one: THE BYE BYE MAN.
First of all, what an awful title! Sounds like a children’s book. THE BYE BYE MAN has all the things that make a dreadful horror movie: bad acting, uninspired direction, and a weak script. There are some awkward shots by director Stacy Title, almost amateurish, during some scenes of dialogue, where the camera jumps from one character’s face to the other and often lingers there. During key moments of the movie, the audience was laughing. Not a good sign. The script by Jonathen Penner was dull and redundant. The characters were also weak, and I wasn’t interested in any of them.
THE BYE BYE MAN is a forgettable horror movie, and it’s my pick for the worst movie of the year.
LS: THE BYE BYE MAN was bad, but it wasn’t as godawful as THE MUMMY. THE MUMMY was torture to sit through!
MA: Well, there you go folks. And now we’ll list both of our Top 10 Worst Movies of 2017.
MICHAEL ARRUDA’S LIST OF THE TOP 10 WORST MOVIES OF 2017
1 THE BYE BYE MAN
2 THE MUMMY
4 GHOST IN THE SHELL
5 PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES
6 47 METERS DOWN
8 BEATRIZ AT DINNER
9 AMERICAN ASSASSIN
10 THE DARK TOWER
LS: Good list, and I’m not surprised we agree on several of them. Here’s my list:
LL SOARES’ TOP 10 WORST MOVIES OF 2017
1 THE MUMMY
2 THE BYE BYE MAN
3. THE DARK TOWER
4. FIFTY SHADES DARKER
5 & 6. FLATLINERS & RINGS
7. 47 METERS DOWN (This shark movie was so forgettable, I completely forgot about until Michael just reminded me)
8. GHOST IN THE SHELL
9. JIGSAW (There was absolutely no reason to bring back the SAW series, dammit!)
10. I had a really hard time choosing 10 this year, but if pressed, I’d have to say it would be GOOD TIME. Not an awful movie really, just not as good as I was expecting going in, considering the talented people involved (and the buzz beforehand). I felt really disappointed afterwards.
And speaking of disappointments, as promised, here are my three biggest disappointments of the year. I couldn’t really list them as among the 10 Worst Movies, because they’re not horrible movies, but these had the biggest ratios between expectations and disappointment.
3. RAW – A French movie about sisters and cannibalism set in a veterinary college. I heard such great things about this movie, and really wanted to love it. But it wasn’t scary at all, didn’t say anything new or interesting about cannibalism, and the characters were mostly irritating as hell.
2. DOWNSIZING – Not an awful movie, but a huge disappointment from director Alexander Payne, whose movies I normally love. A big part of the problem is the fact that the lead role is played by Matt Damon with his “bland meter” turned all the way up. He’s a boring character who made a trip, that should have been exciting, a complete letdown. Also, Payne gets a bit too preachy as the movie progresses.
1. STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI – My biggest disappointment of 2017. I liked THE FORCE AWAKENS (2015) and thought this would keep the momentum going, but it was too long and much too boring. I didn’t care about any of the new characters (except for Daisy Ridley’s Rey), and the old ones were mostly wasted. Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker is like fingers on a chalkboard (just saying “No” over and over) until the end, when he suddenly becomes a total bad-ass. And not even Laura Dern, an actress I adore, could save it. And the bad guy, Kylo Ren is still a wimp who isn’t fit to polish Darth Vader’s boots. I thought this movie was a complete slog to sit through and I envied the guy next to me who slept through most of it. If this movie is a crowd-pleaser, then I am clearly not part of the crowd it was meant for.
MA: Well, that’s it, folks. On to a new year.
LS: Let’s hope 2018 is another great year at the movies.
(Crowd applauds as MA and LS leave the stage, and the curtain drops)
© Copyright 2018 by Michael Arruda and LL Soares