We’re about to hit the halfway point of 2017 and, with that, it’s time to take a look at the state of play when it comes to the movie releases so far. The year began with a very strong awards season and we have since seen a formidable array of movies, from foreign breakouts to impressive blockbuster franchise entries. Elsewhere, though, we’ve seen a mess of dismal films that just haven’t worked – from comedies where no one laughs to unnecessary remakes and horror movies that are funnier than they are scary.
Just as with the best films list, which will arrive later this week, all three hosts of The Popcorn Muncher Podcast listed our five worst films of 2017 so far. We’ve awarded points for the rankings, crunched the numbers and here are, according to the three of us, the ten worst films that have been released in the UK during the first six months of 2017.
9=. Assassin’s Creed (2 pts)
Thought by many to stand a chance at changing video game movies, Assassin’s Creed came and went with a whimper at the beginning of the year. Despite a heavyweight cast led by Michael Fassbender, this one was doomed the moment it was given a lousy, over-complicated script with a needless amount of time-hopping.
Patrick said: “The split-time narrative barely works in a 40-hour game, so why they thought it would work in a two-hour movie is beyond me. There’s an impressive cast, but the whole production is an abject catastrophe. They really missed the hay bale on this one.”
9=. Ghost in the Shell (2 pts)
Prior to its release, anime remake Ghost in the Shell was dogged by white-washing controversy. That, however, made the film seem more significant than it was. Audiences didn’t care about Scarlett Johansson, but didn’t see the movie either.
Luke said: “Who is this film for? It’s a pale imitation of both Blade Runner and The Matrix that never manages to be remotely as impressive or entertaining as either. Its visuals are the only saving grace of a story that lacks heart, thrills and any sense of enjoyment.”
9=. The Shack (2 pts)
Less entertaining than the God’s Not Dead movies, this sickly tale of Sam Worthington spending a weekend with the Holy Trinity after the murder of his young daughter is one of the more offensive films released this year.
Tom said: “Whether you’re an atheist or a believer, The Shack will offend you. The performances are awful and the entire film has a lecturing tone, ultimately suggesting that grief is just something for godless people. In this grossly simplified world, prayer is the answer to everything.”
6=. Unforgettable (3 pts)
Marking the big screen return of Katherine Heigl, trashy thriller Unforgettable stunk out cinemas earlier this year with its bizarrely melodramatic plotting and dismal performances from a talented cast.
Patrick said: “I don’t think anyone other than Katherine Heigl wanted to see her make a return to the screen but here she is in one of the worst performances of the year. Seemingly the only person who doesn’t realise she’s in a piece of crap, Heigl is terrible. There’s some hilari-bad stuff, but not enough to salvage it.”
6=. Fifty Shades Darker (3 pts)
Years after anyone last thought about the books, erotic sequel Fifty Shades Darker arrived in cinemas with little sex appeal and even less in the way of cinematic quality thanks to the megalomaniacal control of author EL James. Naturally, there’s another film still to come.
Luke said: “This manages to suck out all of the fun the first film had. It’s a remarkably flat film capable of evoking all of the arousal of a cold shower while being observed by the Olympic gymnastics scoring panel.”
6=. The Belko Experiment (3 pts)
Years before he became a key Marvel player, James Gunn wrote the script for The Belko Experiment. Unfortunately, the film it ultimately became was a grotesquely violent horror show with no moral compass. It’s a deeply nihilistic office block thriller masquerading as a social experiment.
Tom said: “This is a nasty film in which basically nice people are forced to do genuinely horrific things for reasons that are entirely unsatisfying. It’s a moral cesspit of headshots and bludgeoning from which there is seemingly no escape.”
3=. The Bye Bye Man (4 pts)
The Bye Bye Man was sold on the basis of one of those typical horror premises. In this case, it follows a group of youngsters who learn about the eponymous bogeyman – a character who tracks down anyone who thinks or says his name and manipulates them into murder or suicide. It’s an incredibly low-budget tale with some laughable CGI effects and a story that runs out of steam way before the credits roll.
Patrick said: “This film is so incredibly inept I honestly can’t believe it was released in cinemas. The premise may seem basic, but there are so many random elements of lore and story that make zero sense and are given no explanation. The direction is awful – when the opening shot is overexposed you know you’re in trouble – and the acting is worse than something you’d see in a community theatre production. It’s bafflingly bad to the point that I spent 90 per cent of the movie in fits of laughter.”
3=. CHiPs (4 pts)
Lame imitations of the Jump Street films will come up again on this list, but CHiPs is certainly a complete mess of a TV to movie transfer. It follows Michael Peña and Dax Shepard as motorbike cops investigating corrupt officers within their unit. No one saw the film, which is just as well because it’s absolutely terrible.
Tom said: “This is a film that’s cheap financially and equally thrifty in the creative department. The central duo are lifeless and the entire movie is a mess of supposedly edgy material that goes through a selection of obvious off-colour topics. It’s a desperately unimaginative film from start to finish, without a single laugh across the whole thing.”
3=. Baywatch (4 pts)
Critics savaged the Baywatch remake when it came out, leading star Dwayne Johnson to rail against film critics. Everyone, though, could see that this reboot of the camp classic TV show tried too hard to be an action movie at the expense of the comedy it sold itself as and the self-referential Jump Street humour that could have stopped it from drifting away with the current.
Luke said: “I had such high hopes for this film and it has all of the structure to work as a good comedy remake. It just lacks any semblance of joke. The performances are fine and the story is okay, but this is so criminally unfunny it might do better if they re-release it as a tragic war movie rather than as a supposedly edgy beach comedy for the blockbuster crowd.”
2. Alien: Covenant (6 pts)
Five years after Prometheus divided audiences and critics, Ridley Scott returned to the universe of xenomorphs with Alien: Covenant. It followed a new group of colonists who found themselves on a planet with Michael Fassbender and some familiar chest-dwelling creatures. By the end of it, the film seemed to be suggesting a whole new genesis for the xenomorphs.
Patrick said: “Say what you will about The Bye Bye Man and Unforgettable, at least they made me laugh. Covenant is one of the most unengaging movies I’ve sat through in a long time. Rather than settling on being a sequel to Prometheus or an Alien-style horror movie, it tries to do both and fails miserably. It may be the worst movie Scott has ever made.”
Luke said: “This prequel is a rare success in its ability to be both bad on its own and detrimental to the films that inspired it. Scott returns to the well for an uneven movie that fails at being a horror film, an action movie and a mystery. He clearly has no taste for the original Alien and Aliens which became so loved – and it shows in this joyless mess of a creation.”
1. Transformers: The Last Knight (10 pts)
Michael Bay has delivered another round of robot smashing mayhem with Transformers: The Last Knight, which might well be the worst film of the outright hideous franchise. It sees the history of the central characters stretch back to Arthurian legend for some reason and features far too many scenes of Anthony Hopkins saying “bitch” seemingly at random. Of course, it sees the main female character being called a “stripper” and equally certain is the nonsensical finale in which metal hits metal in a cacophony of deafening noise and bluster, without so much as a sliver of plot.
Luke said: “The best way to sum up my feelings about this film would be to just randomly bash on keys for two and a half hours. This lacks everything. Fun? None of it. Sense? Nope, none for you. Characters? What are those? This movie is so abominably poorly made that it’s a marvel to think anyone involved had any experience with camera equipment, let alone anything else that is required to make a movie work. It’s dumb in a bad way, bad in the worst way, and overall just a horrific cinema experience.”
Tom said: “I could tell you what I thought about the new Transformers film or I could leave to bang my head against a pebbledash wall for an hour, followed by drinking a warm glass of cat piss. I know which scenario I’d prefer. Better get the piss ready.”
And here are our full lists. For our weekly reviews and chat, check out the podcast. If you want to yell at us for what we have chosen or indeed what we haven’t chosen, feel free to pop down to the comments section and scream your heart out.
Transformers: The Last Knight
The Belko Experiment
Transformers: The Last Knight
Fifty Shades Darker
Ghost in the Shell
The Bye Bye Man