The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


The Ten Worst Films of 2017

I hope you've read – or will read – my list of the Ten Best Films of 2017 because you're going to need great movies to think about after what's coming up. This year is a little unusual. In two instances, I have ties, simply because I hated two similar movies for the exact same reason. So you're not just getting ten turkeys here, you're getting twelve. I apologize for any inconvenience or additional mental anguish this may cause.

As always, I confine this list to films that got a significant theatrical release. Obscure, barely-seen, or straight-to-VOD pictures like Ghost House, Temple, and Generational Sins are ineligible no matter how bad they may be, because why pick on them? Instead, I'm singling out movies that might have been good under different circumstances or which should have known better than to make the critical mistakes that led to their failure.

Here, then, are my picks for the Ten (actually, twelve) Worst Films of 2017:

10. Underworld: Blood Wars - The Underworld franchise was never much to begin with, but this bargain basement sequel is just barely a movie. The first five minutes are a recap of the series thus far. The last nine minutes are end credits. That leaves 77 minutes of actual (incoherent) story. I've never seen a movie that seemed to be in such a hurry to get itself over with. It presumably feels the audience's pain.

9. The Dark Tower - Stephen King's Gunslinger saga takes place over the course of eight books and a novella. So it's deeply weird that the movie adaptation runs a scant eighty-eight minutes, including end credits. Word has it that the production was troubled, marked by reshoots and reedits. You can feel every bit of those issues in this disjointed, nonsensical, thoroughly unsatisfying mess.

8. Transformers: The Last Knight - Nobody expects great art from one of Michael Bay's Transformers movies, but expecting fun certainly isn't unreasonable. The latest, and hopefully last, installment is weirdly lacking in continuity. So many disparate elements – including King Arthur, a dead planet, and Stonehenge – are thrown in, almost as if the writers were just pulling ideas out of a hat at random. The dialogue, meanwhile, sounds like what a computer program might spit out after analyzing the scripts of action pictures. This is studio “tentpole” filmmaking at its worst.

7. Baywatch and CHIPS (tie) - 2017 gave us two big screen adaptations of cheesy old TV shows. Both Baywatch (starring Dwayne Johnson) and CHIPS (starring Dax Shepard) felt that infusing these dated concepts with an abundance of incongruous raunchy, hard-R humor was the way to go. They were wrong. Combined, the films run 216 minutes. There isn't a single laugh in any of them.

6. The Mummy - The Mummy is the perfect movie if you love mindless big-budget special effects extravaganzas but absolutely hate having fun. Tom Cruise, now way too old for the cocky hotshot role he's given, stars in this kickoff for a planned “Dark Universe” series of Universal Monsters reboots. The film is so busy setting up the business of establishing a franchise that it forgets to be entertaining on its own. Fatal mistake, as this bomb may have killed the Dark Universe already.

5. Unforgettable - The first time I saw the trailer for Unforgettable – a thriller in which an Evil Bitch (Katherine Heigl) fights a Nice Woman (Rosario Dawson) for a man's affections – I thought, ”This feels like something that would have been released in 1992.” When I saw the final product, that feeling multiplied tenfold. Every single plot development is hackneyed, and has been for decades. And aside from the less-than-feminist plot, why not have the two leads switch roles, rather than casting them to type?

4. The Book of Henry - How bad is The Book of Henry? A popular theory posits that LucasFilm executives fired director Colin Trevorrow from Star Wars: Episode IX after the abysmal reviews caused them to develop cold feet. Here's a movie that wants to be all the movies, all at once. It starts off as a coming-of-age comedy, then turns into a sexual abuse story, then a disease drama, then an action thriller. Poor Naomi Watts is trapped playing a caring mother who improbably attempts to become an assassin at the behest of her savant son (Jaden Lieberher). This is the sort of movie that makes you think whoever conceived of it was possibly on drugs at the time.

3. Rings and The Bye Bye Man - January/February are notoriously months where studios drop cheap-o horror movies that couldn't survive in anything resembling a competitive time period. In 2017, we got two particularly insipid examples of that. The Bye Bye Man attempts to introduce a new cinematic boogeyman, yet waits well over an hour to explain who/what he is. Rings is another sequel to The Ring, but one that attempts to over-explain its supernatural antagonist. While the movies have opposite problems, they share a complete lack of chills.

2. Just Getting Started - Morgan Freeman, Tommy Lee Jones, and Rene Russo star in this laugh-free comedy about swinging singles and alpha males at a retirement community. Tired gags about older people having sex populate the first hour. Then, in the final thirty minutes, the film inexplicably turns into the weakest, most lethargic action picture you've ever seen. The talents of all three leads are utterly wasted. Just Getting Started is so bad that, in my original review, I joked that everyone involved should be charged with war crimes. A couple of readers (and one of the movie's lesser-known co-stars) mistook me for being serious. For the record, it was an attempt at humor, because when you've endured a movie this painfully wretched, joking it off is probably the best reaction.

And my choice for the Worst Film of 2017 is:


1. Kidnap - This Halle Berry dud, dumped into theaters after nearly two years on a distributor's shelf, should be used as a film school case study in how not to make a thriller. The actress plays Karla, a woman pursuing the seedy couple who snatched her little boy from the park. Big chunks of the movie are her frantically talking to herself in her car, repeatedly yelling, "Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, Goooooood!" as she races after the abductors. The endless car chases, meanwhile, lack geography, so you never know where one vehicle is in relation to another, effectively killing any tension that might be generated. If those things don't bother you, the massive plot holes and unintentionally funny gaps in logic will. Kidnap is so inept, it feel as though written, photographed, directed, and edited by people who have never seen a movie before, much less made one.

Runners up: Daddy's Home 2, Downsizing, Free Fire, Going in Style, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, The Stray, Wonder Wheel

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