2017 has brought us some really incredible films. From directorial debuts, like Jordan Peele's Get Out and Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird, to lavish productions like Denis Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049 and Edgar Wright's Baby Driver we have had a slew of really incredible examples of quality filmmaking all throughout the year.
However, not every film is great. 2017 also had some stinkers. These are my least favorite films released this year.
All critic scores were pulled from Metascore.com.
10. The Book of Henry
WRITTEN BY GREGG HURWITZ | DIRECTED BY COLIN TREVORROW
PG-13 | 105 MIN | 31/100
Starring Naomi Watts, Jaeden Lieberher, Jacob Tremblay, Sarah Silverman, and Dean Norris
"With instructions from her genius son's carefully crafted notebook, a single mother sets out to rescue a young girl from the hands of her abusive stepfather."
At its core, I can see what director Colin Trevorrow was trying to do. Even if he executed it more skilfully, I don't think it would have saved this film, though. In attempting to be a brooding drama, this film feels like a parody one would see as a Digital Short on Saturday Night Live -- it's silly, poorly written, and seemingly unaware of its own stupidity.
That is especially unfortunate given the film's all-star cast and decently respectable director (who, before this film was released, was slated to helm Star Wars 9).
It's not the worst film of the year for me (obviously), but it wasn't too far from hitting rock bottom. Just a soulless, messy, incomprehensible affair in every sense.
9. Transformers: The Last Knight
WRITTEN BY ART MARCUM, MATT HOLLOWAY, AND KEN NOLAN | DIRECTED BY MICHAEL BAY
PG-13 | 155 MIN | 28/100
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Duhamel, and Stanley Tucci
"Autobots and Decepticons are at war, with humans on the sidelines. Optimus Prime is gone. The key to saving our future lies buried in the secrets of the past, in the hidden history of Transformers on Earth."
Nobody -- myself included -- holds the Transformers films to the standard we would hold any of the best films released this year. In much the same way that it is difficult to compare a comedy and a horror (insofar as you need to use what amounts to a different rubric to judge them), it's hard to compare a film that has been made purely as epic sci-fi escapism to any sort of serious standard. I even liked the first Transformers film.
This does not detract from the fact that Michael Bay is one of the dullest, vapid, and shallow directors working today. His overreliance on poor dialogue, cliched and conventional writing, and splashy CGI hampers his films almost as much as his unforgiving two-and-a-half-hour runtimes are.
Michael Bay said he made this film for the fans, not the critics. If you don't mind the aforementioned issues then this film very well may be for you. For me, though, this film was boring. It slogged by, with CGI-fueled action setpieces blending together with Mark Wahlberg's frustratingly one-note performance.
In other words, this was one of the most frustrating theater experiences I have had in a long time.
WRITTEN BY DAVID LOUCKA, JACOB ESTES, AND AKIVA GOLDSMAN | DIRECTED BY F. JAVIER GUTIÉRREZ
PG-13 | 102 MIN | 25/100
Starring Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, Alex Roe, Johnny Galecki, and Vincent D'Onofrio
"A young woman finds herself on the receiving end of a terrifying curse that threatens to take her life in seven days."
I was surprised when I learned there was going to be another Ring film. While Ringu is a cult classic, and Gore Verbinski's 2002 American adaptation is a respectable (if a bit critically mixed) effort. However, Ring 2, released in 2005 (and directed by Hideo Nakata, who directed Ringu) was both socially and critically panned. So the fact that a new installment was made with the possibility of it being a franchise should Rings do well at the box office (it made back $27 million at the box office with a $25 million budget, not counting marketing costs) surprised the hell out of me.
Unsurprisingly, though, Rings is a mess. Attempting to both create a new mythos and update the basic plot of the film to modern times (you won't find any Cathode-Ray tube televisions in this film) bogged the plot of the film down, while the overreliance on jump scares and forced tension made it annoying to watch.
I would be surprised if we saw any sequels to this effort considering it barely making its budget back at the box office and it was widely panned by critics and fans alike. However, stranger things have happened in Hollywood.
7. Death Note
WRITTEN BY CHARLEY PARLAPANIDES, VLAS PARLAPANIDES, AND JEREMY SLATER | DIRECTED BY ADAM WINGARD
TV-MA | 101 MIN | 43/100
Starring Nat Wolff, Lakeith Stanfield, Margaret Qualley, Shea Whigham, and Willem Dafoe
"A high school student named Light Turner discovers a mysterious notebook that has the power to kill anyone whose name is written within its pages and launches a secret crusade to rid the world of criminals."
Oh, where to start with Death Note? There is so much wrong with this film that it's almost insulting to watch.
To preface, I haven't read the manga, nor have I seen the show this is based on. However, immediately, I can see an issue in trying to adapt a feature-length film from those sources. It's a lot of material to cram into a small runtime. Things that could naturally unfold over the course of a few episodes, or a few pages, get crushed together and spit out as lousy dialogue, plot conventions, and weird character motivations.
The film is poorly made in almost every respect. The writing is clunky and odd; the cinematography is dark and muddy; the narrative structure is jumbled and contrived. In other words, there isn't really a redeeming factor here.
WRITTEN BY KNATE LEE | DIRECTED BY LUIS PRIETO
R | 95 MIN | 44/100
Starring Halle Berry, Sage Correa, Chris McGinn, Lew Temple, and Jason George
"A mother stops at nothing to recover her kidnapped son."
I genuinely couldn't tell when the film was trying to be funny and when it was being unintentionally funny. While that can sometimes lead to a fun theater experience, Kidnap is just so dull I couldn't really enjoy it on any substantial level. Enough said.
WRITTEN BY KATIE DIPPOLD | DIRECTED BY JONATHAN LEVINE
R | 90 MIN | 45 MIN
Starring Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn, Joan Cusack, and Wanda Sykes
"When her boyfriend dumps her before their exotic vacation, a young woman persuades her ultra-cautious mother to travel with her to paradise, with unexpected results."
Comedies, above all else, are supposed to be entertaining. Yes, they should make you laugh; yes, they should be emotionally and/or cerebrally interesting (like The Big Sick, released this year); most importantly, though, they should provide some sort of escapism.
Snatched isn't particularly entertaining though. And, unlike Schumer's other film, Trainwreck, it isn't very engaging on the emotional/cerebral front. Like many other films on this list, it just ends up being dull due to poor writing.
4. The Case For Christ
WRITTEN BY BRIAN BIRD | DIRECTED BY JON GUNN
PG | 112 MIN | 50/100
Starring Mike Vogel, Faye Dunaway, Erika Christensen, and L. Scott Caldwell
"An investigative journalist and self-proclaimed atheist sets out to disprove the existence of God after his wife becomes a Christian."
Marketed as "the film to prove atheists wrong" (on the heels of two other films -- God's Not Dead and Left Behind -- which claimed to be able to do the same thing), The Case For Christ is just intellectually dishonest. While it provides a potentially meaty human store at its core (the idea of reconciling opposing viewpoints in a family), it is painted over with the same "Christians right, Atheists wrong" brush that every other faith-based film uses.
That would be okay if it did engage the debate in a way that was fresh, new, exciting, or even challenging -- instead, it uses the same platitudes and debate points to pre-suppose, and "prove", its own conclusion.
3. You Get Me
WRITTEN BY BEN EPSTEIN | DIRECTED BY BRENT BONACORSO
TV-MA | 99 MIN | NO SCORE
Starring Bella Thorne, Halston Sage, Taylor John Smith, Nash Grier, and Anna Akana
"Tyler's crazy in love with his perfect girlfriend Ali, but when a big fight makes him and Ali break up, he lands in the arms of sexy out-of-towner Holly who shows him a night he's gonna remember. The next morning he finds that not only is Ali taking him back, but Holly is a new student at their school and is dead set on her new man."
Oh, man. I knew I was going to hate this film five minutes in. Such a horribly written script. Horribly written characters. Dull, conventional cinematography. Frustrating narrative tropes and conventions. A ridiculous final act. A ridiculous first act. Did I mention how bad the writing was?
Maybe I'm being a little overly critically, but this truly was one of the most boring, stupid, and frustrating films of the year.
2. The Bye-Bye Man
WRITTEN BY JONATHAN PENNER | DIRECTED BY STACY TITLE
PG-13 | 97 MIN | 37/100
Starring Douglas Smith, Erica Tremblay, Lucien Laviscount, Jenna Kanell, and Doug Jones
"Three friends stumble upon the horrific origins of a mysterious figure they discover is the root cause of the evil behind unspeakable acts."
The Bye Bye Man is the epitome of what is wrong with modern horror. Jump scares, bad character writing, dull cinematography, and horrible story structure. There is nothing redeemable about this film.
1. The Emoji Movie
WRITTEN BY TONY LEONDIS, ERIC SIEGEL, MIKE WHITE | DIRECTED BY TONY LEONDIS
PG | 86 MIN | 12/100
Starring T.J. Miller, James Corden, Anna Faris, Maya Rudolph, Sofia Vergara, and Patrick Stewart
Gene, a multi-expressional emoji, sets out on a journey to become a normal emoji.
Do I need to even explain this one?