10. The Last Face
The cheap, knife-obsessed, skull-fucking fascism of last year’s consensus winner (or loser), London Has Fallen , meets its match in The Last Face, Sean Penn’s excruciating romance (?) about international aid workers, African civil wars, and “the brutality of an impossible love… shared by a man… and a woman.” (The ellipses are theirs, not ours.) Shot like a perfume commercial and written like impacted shit, the film stars Charlize Theron and Javier Bardem as a couple of doctors who fall in love against a backdrop of gruesomely eviscerated Liberian bodies; the white-savior-ism—pleading for the nameless, staring refugees who were sacrificed to create the movie’s overwrought mise-en-scène—is but one self-indulgent aspect of a film lavished in bad Terrence Malick-isms, close-ups of Theron’s feet, misogynistic subtexts, and the sound of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Otherside”. Some movies are so bad that they’re fun. This one should be avoided at all costs.
9. The Bye-Bye Man
Speaking of low expectations and not meeting them, The Bye Bye Man has such a terminally silly title that only a white-knuckle gauntlet of terror could really transcend it. Unfortunately, this supernatural potboiler about a phantom who comes at the call or just the thought of his (again very goofy) name can’t even clear the low bar set by your average January fright flick. It’s shockingly inept in almost every conceivable way, from the clumsily expositional dialogue to special effects that look like they belong in a cut-scene from a turn-of-the-millennium video game. And the acting is almost surreally terrible, to the point where the film’s marquee cameos, by Faye Dunaway and Carrie-Anne Moss, seem like they were lifted from a different, more functionally bad thriller. One could call The Bye Bye Man inoffensive and even occasionally hilarious in its awfulness, but the truth is that it wasn’t fit for theaters; even the most indiscriminate of horror buffs deserve a little competence with their schlock.
8. The Emoji Movie
“What if emoji were sentient?” has to be one of the lazier elevator pitches for a feature-length cartoon. Remarkably, The Emoji Movie lives down to it: This 86-minute cellphone commercial combines the kids-will-watch-anything cynicism of the worst studio animation with a cross-promotional gall that would embarrass famous Nike shill Bugs Bunny. Like what an algorithm might come up with if it were fed Inside Out, Wreck It Ralph, and a corporate portfolio analysis, the “plot” sends several nattering “characters”—poorly sketched in all senses of the word—scrambling across the interface of a Sony smartphone and into a series of glorified advertisements for its downloadable apps. The animation is cruddy, and describing the vocal performances as “phoned in” would count as a slightly better joke than anything the cast delivers. But hey, this isn’t so much a film as product placement bent indifferently into the shape of one. The underachievement is almost impressive: However lame you found the idea of an emoji movie, The Emoji Movie is lamer.
Writer-director-actor Dax Shepard seems like a smart, likable guy, and his adaptation of a corny old cop show boasts a cast filled with talented folks doing their best to give this material a raunchy twist. But did CHIPS need a raunchy twist? And did the movie going public need another half-baked big-screen action-comedy, populated by pretty much the same actors and comedians that every other 21st-century TV series or movie comedy uses? The film’s few funny lines are buried in broad slapstick and clumsy action sequences, cobbled into a muddled story that lacks contemporary relevance or fresh ideas. More than anything, CHIPS is a waste of time and money, taking up space on the cinematic calendar that could’ve been put to better use. What a crime.
Nobody in their right mind would attempt to resurrect a horror franchise conceived around such outmoded technology as fax machines or 8-track tapes—it would just look silly. Somehow, though, Paramount decided that the time was ripe for another entry in a defunct series about a lethal videocassette (already a dying format when The Ring was released in 2002) that initially instils terror by calling its future victims on the phone, in the expectation that they will answer. Strenuous efforts to update the premise for smartphones and YouTube only render it more incoherent, and the film winds up praying that fans are heavily invested in learning the full maudlin backstory of J-horror ghost girl Samara. The result will frighten only those old enough to be conscious of how much time has passed.
Welcome back, Gerard Butler! He once again demonstrates his unerring talent for finding lousy material—in this case, a singularly un-thrilling disaster movie that sat on the shelf for two years after test audiences interpreted “disaster movie” another way. Evildoers intend to wreak worldwide meteorological havoc by hacking a satellite system meant to combat climate change, and only Butler, as the dude who designed said system, can save the day. Geostormis fundamentally about the efforts to prevent a geostorm, which means that director Dean Devlin (best known for writing Independence Day) has to serve up the expected CGI destruction in a series of quick bursts, filling time with tedious fraternal arguments (Jim Sturgess plays the hero’s estranged brother) and rote political intrigue. It’s a tsunami of blah… but, hey, at least it isn’t the very worst movie of 2017.
There you are, an ordinary Louisiana diner waitress out for an afternoon at the amusement park, when all of a sudden a couple of hillbilly child-traffickers snatch your adorable 6-year-old son, shove him into the back of a teal ’80s Mustang, and peel off. What do you do? Well, if you’re Halle Berry’s character in the trashy, butt-ugly, hilariously incompetent chase thriller Kidnap, the answer is drop your phone, hop in the minivan, and stomp on the gas. Doing a slurred, drunken impression of late-period Tony Scott, director Luis Prieto chops together random camera angles, blurry added-in-post zooms, awful effects, and gratuitous and incoherent automotive mayhem while his (largely seated) star gnashes her teeth in porno-orgasmic howls of over-reaction. (“Oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god, they took my son.”) A multi-car pileup of failed suspense, Kidnap raises all the wrong questions: Does no one notice all the wreckage? Did they just kill a cop? Didn’t that extra just get run over? Is kidnapping this random boy really worth it?
3. The Snowman
The hastily sketched snowman with a bellyache that adorns The Snowman’s much-mocked poster turns out to be the perfect metaphor for this sublime mess of a serial-killer thriller. Director Thomas Alfredson says he wasn’t able to shoot nearly 15 percent of the screenplay thanks to a tight production schedule, which helps account for the gaping plot holes, unresolved subplots, and stunning lack of attention to detail. What it doesn’t account for is the shockingly crummy performances from the A-list cast, including Michael Fassbender as master detective Harry Hole (pronounced like it looks, hilariously), whose crippling alcoholism is clearly eating away at his brain, given that he misses some startlingly obvious clues to the killer’s identity. All of which is to say that this film is so inept, it could probably get a job in the Trump administration.
It makes some sense to reimagine a classic movie like King Kong, for example, that everybody knows, but outside of folks who owned VCRs in the 1990s, did that many people remember Flatliners—let alone have a burning desire to see it again with a new cast? The remake nods to the original by casting Kiefer Sutherland in what confusingly may or may not be a continuation of his original role, but in nearly every other way, this is a dreary rehash of what the (honestly kind of terrible) first Flatliners already did. Another batch of fashionable-looking med students push themselves to the edge of death, coming back smarter, stronger, and inexplicably hounded by physical manifestations of their worst life-choices. This picture’s recommended only to those who dig note-for-note cover versions of songs that weren’t that well-liked in the first place.
1. Fifty Shades Darker
And there you go! The No.1 on the Flop List!! Yes, the Fifty Shades series is nothing but a collection of poorly written, indifferently acted romance-novel clichés masquerading as erotic thrillers. But that’s not what’s really wrong with Fifty Shades Darker. In fact, this kinky-ish sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey can be kind of funny—there’s the bit, for example, where Christian Grey crashes his helicopter into the side of a mountain, only to waltz back into his apartment like nothing happened a couple of scenes later. And don’t tell us that the art department PA who hung a Chronicles Of Riddick poster in Christian’s childhood bedroom wasn’t, on some level, in on the joke. No, the real problem here is less amusing. By framing Christian Grey, a man who isolates his lovers from friends and family and has them followed everywhere they go, as a misunderstood bad boy in need of saving, the films romanticize emotionally abusive relationships, telling their more impressionable audience members that control and coercion are synonymous with love. And that’s far more objectionable than some hacky dialogue.
Chips Fifty Shades Darker Flatliners Geostorm Hollywood movies kidnap Rings The Bye-Bye Man The Emoji Movie The Last Face The Snowman Top 10 Worst Hollywood Films Top 10 Worst Hollywood Films of 2017 Worst Hollywood Films