2017 Movies: The Best and Worst So Far
It may be early, but 2017 has already gifted us with a host of new movies. Some number themselves among the best Hollywood has to offer, while others completely fell flat on their respective faces. It’s a fine line between true greatness and abject failure in the film industry, and it’s one that only some have been able to successfully toe. So who did it best (and worst) this year? Let’s jump in and rank some movies, starting with the absolute worst and working toward the year’s best.
15. Worst: xXx: Return of Xander Cage
Why anyone decided that the xXx franchise needed another sequel is beyond us, and yet here we are. This is what happens when a studio simply goes through the motions and hopes that a franchise’s name recognition will be enough to attract audiences.
A story that Glenn Kenny of RogerEbert.com says “could have been written on the back of a cocktail napkin” is the result of that approach.
14. Worst: Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
For some reason, Hollywood has struggled mightily to make even one halfway decent video game movie. That being so, the Resident Evil franchise is easily the most successful game adaptation, if for no other reason than the fact that it’s lasted all these years.
The loud, cluttered movie saga mercifully came to an end this year, with the loudest, clutter-iest installment yet, netting a meager 33% Rotten Tomatoes score in the process.
13. Worst: Ghost in the Shell
Oof. Where to start with the massively problematic Ghost in the Shell? How about with the fact that Hollywood’s whitewashing problem once again has them in hot water, casting Scarlett Johansson as a character who was originally Japanese? Or the shockingly stilted, flashy story that carries little substance?
Pick your poison; there are plenty of reasons to choose from, all of which are encapsulated perfectly in Mashable’s review. “Ghost in the Shell is a totally pointless movie,” they aptly state, and we have a hard time disagreeing.
12. Worst: Rings
Paramount has been trying to capitalize on the success of their original Ring remake for years now. With 2017’s Rings, they’ve finally hit rock bottom, in a tired, soulless sequel that barely manages to even scrape the limits of watchability. Its 6% rating on Rotten Tomatoes speaks volumes to that as well, with just six critics out of 95 giving it a positive appraisal.
For the most telling criticism, we once again turn to Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers, who describes it as a film that “doesn’t seem remotely interested in rousing anything in us besides all-consuming apathy.”
11. Worst: The Great Wall
What could possibly go wrong for an action movie starring Matt Damon and Willem Dafoe, and headed up by renowned Chinese director Yimou Zhang? Apparently the answer is “everything.” Damon sports an Irish brogue that rates up among some of the worst fake movie accents of all time, in a film that Film Freak Central aptly dubbed “gloriously, fantastically stupid from beginning to end.”
10. Worst: CHiPs
It would appear as though Hollywood learned all the wrong lessons from Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s surprisingly hilarious 21 Jump Street reboot. If CHiPs is any indication, the prevailing opinion was that all you need to do is reboot an ‘80s police procedural and rake in the money.
Unfortunately, the people in charge forgot to write an even halfway decent script, leaving us with the poorly thought out garbage-fire that is the CHiPs movie reboot.
9. Worst: Monster Trucks
Monster Trucks was a film that seemed doomed from the very second it was green-lit by Paramount. The film’s premise was literally written by the 4-year-old child of former studio exec Adam Goodman, and absorbed a massive $115 million write-down against anticipated losses in the months preceding its release in theaters.
Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers has perhaps the most damning criticism of the film though, calling Monster Trucks “a wreck, fueled by the crazy belief that noise and repetition can disguise the lack of credible writing, directing, acting and FX.”
8. Worst: Fifty Shades Darker
Working off an already-terrible Fifty Shades of Grey story, it’s no small surprise that Fifty Shades Darker has been 2017’s worst movie so far. Ranking out at a paltry 9% on Rotten Tomatoes, the site’s critical consensus pulls no punches: “Lacking enough chemistry, heat, or narrative friction to satisfy, the limp Fifty Shades Darker wants to be kinky but only serves as its own form of punishment.”
If that isn’t “worst movie of 2017” fodder, we don’t know what is.
So with all that aside, let’s run through the best movies 2017 has had to offer so far …
7. Best: The Lego Batman Movie
DC’s recent run of bad luck in theaters has been unsettling to say the least, kicked off by subpar efforts from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. It speaks to both the studio’s ineptitude with live-action superhero movies, and the success of The Lego Batman Movie, that we now have a new favorite DC film.
Directed by Robot Chicken alum Chris McKay, the follow-up to the wildly popular The Lego Movie was every bit as funny, gleeful, and compelling as Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s debut animated effort.
6. Best: Kong: Skull Island
To clarify, no, Kong: Skull Island isn’t a deep thinkpiece of a movie featuring a giant gorilla. Rather, it’s hands down the most fun you’ll have at a movie all year. John C. Reilly is an absolute show-stealer as the quasi-comedic relief, Samuel L. Jackson is everything you’d expect him to be, and the CGI monster fight sequences will have you standing out of your chair and applauding. Measure it up against Peter Jackson’s three hour slog of a remake back in 2005, and it’s night and day.
5. Best: John Wick: Chapter 2
Speaking of sequels that lived up to the promise of their first installments, John Wick: Chapter 2 arrived on the scene in 2017 as yet another breathtaking action movie.
Franchises like The Fast and the Furious and Transformers continue to prioritize special effects and quick-cuts, leaving a huge void for well-crafted action cinema. Thankfully, the John Wick saga more than filled that need in 2017, gifting fans with a sequel that’s a complete end-to-end thrill-ride.
4. Best: Logan
Last year, Deadpool proved firsthand that an R-rating doesn’t have to be the kiss of death for a superhero movie. Logan continued that trend in 2017, redefining the genre as a grim, understated, and character-driven family drama.
With Hugh Jackman taking his final bow as Wolverine, it was a fitting final chapter for a hero he’s played for 17 years, while eschewing with the flashy franchise feel of past X-Men movies.
3. Best: T2: Trainspotting
It’s not often that a sequel set over two decades after the original film manages to stand alone as a truly great story. That’s exactly what T2: Trainspotting did though, building on the rich characters of the first movie, and in turn, crafting a new, stylish allegory on aging, moving forward, and grappling with the demons of your past. Given the amount of potential stumbling blocks, it was exciting to see director Danny Boyle reassemble the entire original cast for a touching, emotional sequel effort.
2. Best: Colossal
It’s already been a big year for movies focusing on social commentary. Enter Colossal, a film that managed to make a profound statement on domestic abuse, and dress it up as a pseudo-monster movie, replete with a Kaiju rampaging through Seoul, South Korea.
We won’t spoil anything by diving into specifics, but what we will say is this: The way it capitalizes on its patently insane premise is nothing short of incredible.
1. Best: Get Out
There’s little doubt as to what film is the top early contender for 2017’s best movie. Jordan Peele’s directorial debut was a hit in every sense, from its long-standing 100% Rotten Tomatoes score (now at 99% thanks to a single contrarian), to a new box office record for original debut films.
Beyond all that, it’s a stunning post-racial commentary that completely embodies the insidious nature of modern racism, while doubling as a tense psychological thriller. Yeah. This one’s a no-brainer, sitting at the top of our list.
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