Monday 25 December 2017

The bad batch: My least favourite films of 2017

Thumb's up? Nope, it's a definite thumb's down for Assassin's Creed

I wasn't going to bother with a "worst of the year" list this time, as I'd somehow avoided seeing most of those films already widely acknowledged to be 2017's most rotten. I'd avoided The Book Of Henry, gave The Emoji Movie a swerve, and paid no attention whatsoever to the likes of Baywatch and Transformers: The Last Knight. Having given it a bit of thought, though, it turned out there were still a great many absolute stinkers worth naming and shaming. A surprising number of them were 'Netflix Originals' and, oddly, some starred actors of whom I am very fond (including Juliette Binoche, Marion Cotillard, and Javier Bardem). Only films released in the UK on any format between January 1 and December 31 2017 qualified for inclusion...

10. Assassin's Creed
Director: Justin Kurzel  UK release date: January 1
Despite starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, and boasting a budget of some $125million, the Macbeth director's video game adaptation is a howling mess. The storyline is confused and confusing, and there is so much exposition you could stick a flag in it and declare it an independent nation. It's all topped off with iffy CG and a grungy colour palette that goes all the way from turd-brown to corpse-grey. See my full review here.

9. To The Bone
Director: Marti Noxon  UK release date: July 14
Soppy and unconvincing drama about anorexia, written and directed by Buffy The Vampire Slayer alum Noxon. Lily Collins is Ellen, a young woman battling the disease, who seeks treatment under Keanu Reeves' unconventional doctor at a live-in rehab clinic. Alex Sharp's Luke – a weird and wacky Brit – is so annoying you wish the reassuringly wooden Reeves would turn into John Wick and put a bullet between his eyes. 

8. Naked
Director: Michael Tiddes  UK release date: August 11
Shameless rip-off of Groundhog Day that steals everything from Harold Ramis's 1993 comedy classic, apart from its great jokes and infinite charm. This 'Netflix Original', directed by Fifty Shades Of Black's Tiddes, sees Marlon Wayans cursed to relive the hour before his wedding over and over again, until he shapes up and gives his wife-to-be (Regina Hall) the ceremony and husband she deserves. Insufferably predictable and laughter free.

Bare-faced cheek: Naked rips off Groundhog Day... it doesn't go well

7. Death Note
Director: Adam Wingard  UK release date: August 25
Po-faced live-action Netflix adaptation of the Japanese manga that fails to make good use of its USP – namely, Ryuk, an eight-foot tall demonic death god, voiced here by Willem Dafoe. The CG creature turns up quite a bit at the start, then only appears intermittently for the rest of the film, actually doing very little. If you have a massive demon as your film's visual centrepiece, might it not have been an idea to keep him gainfully employed?

6. From The Land Of The Moon
Director: Nicole Garcia  UK release date: June 9
The year's worst plot twist goes to this dreary romantic melodrama. In 1950s France, Marion Cotillard's Gabrielle is stuck in a loveless marriage but falls in love with another man when, ill, she is sent away to a clinic in the Alps for treatment. It isn't predictable but only because the twist is so ludicrous (not to mention unoriginal) you spend the film's final moments trying to decide whether to laugh or throw things at the screen.

5. Slack Bay
Director: Bruno Dumont  UK release date: June 16
Obnoxious French black comedy from director Dumont. Set in 1910, it sees an affluent family arrive at their lavish holiday home for the summer, only to find themselves embroiled in a police investigation into a series of mysterious disappearances. People fall over a lot, the two lead cops look like Laurel and Hardy for some reason, and there's even a family of cannibals. A masterclass in overacting, especially from Juliette Binoche in a career low.

Kiss of death: Slack Bay does little for Anglo-French relations

4. The Circle
Director: James Ponsoldt  UK release date: June 30
Leaden Emma Watson lands her dream job at the titular Facebook-style company in Silicon Valley, but quickly finds her life subsumed into its corporate strictures and demands. Shockingly, it turns out these tech companies are robbing us all of our privacy and identity, something I'd certainly never considered before (sarcasm). In fact, Ponsoldt's film is so bad not even Tom Hanks, as a creepy Steve Jobs-esque CEO, can save it.

3. Little Evil
Director: Eli Craig  UK release date: September 1
Adam Scott marries Evangeline Lilly's single mum and becomes convinced her six-year-old son is the Antichrist in this supposed comedy/horror from Netflix. The idea to use the set-up of The Omen as a way into exploring the difficulties of being a step-parent is a solid one, but writer/director Craig fails to take it anywhere remotely interesting. The jokes aren't funny, the horror isn't scary, and the "power of love" ending made me want to sacrifice a virgin.

2. The Last Face
Director: Sean Penn  UK release date: May 12
This well-intentioned clunker sees Charlize Theron and Javier Bardem's crusading doctors conducting a fraught romance amidst the mayhem of Liberia's second civil war in 2003. It's horribly clumsy and cloyingly earnest, with none of its black African characters granted any agency whatsoever. They are little more than extras in what should, after all, be their story. Worst of all, though, is its dialogue – "she's leaking urine, but she's dancing" being perhaps the most ill-advised line in any film I've seen all year.

1. Tomboy
Director: Walter Hill  UK release date: March 13
In his heyday, veteran Hill directed the likes of The Driver, 48 Hours and The Warriors. This monstrosity, however, is such a fall from grace it seems likely he made it for a bet (i.e. "I bet you can't make one of the worst movies of all time"). Michelle Rodriguez is Frank Kitchen, a macho hitman transitioned into a woman against his will in an act of revenge by Sigourney Weaver's mad scientist. The premise is beyond stupid and the film lives down to it at every available opportunity. A turgid, misogynistic, transphobic shambles. Read my full review here.

Just shoot me! Tomboy is the worst film I've seen all year

Coming next: The third annual 'Resties'. Watch this space...

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