John’s Top Ten Disappointments of 2017

I don’t find it comfortable criticising a film. The two hours of entertainment you see on the screen is the product of months, if not years, of hard work from a lot of very talented people. Having spoken to film makers and getting a good understanding of how difficult it is to obtain funding and support it seems all the worse when the final product is nowhere as good as it really should be. I prefer not to use the term worst in describing these films. The list below represents a group of films that should have been a lot better given the talent involved with them.

10. Daddy’s Home 2

Daddy's Home 2Oh dear. Capping off a year that was notable for all out comedies not being as funny as movies with comedic elements we were presented with the very tired excuse that was DH2. It was the sequel that no one was crying out for. Set at Christmas the story follows the two Dads arranging for a happy festive season only for it to be disrupted by their own fathers arrival. Stale set pieces and cliched characters made it a bit of a chore.

9. Alien Covenant

Why Ridley, Why? The publicity for Covenant was, as always, intriguing. A series of mini features introducing the cast of characters promised much. The let down was all the worse for it. A muddled and frankly dull story line with the inevitable conclusion wasn’t even brightened up by the levity of the recoder scene. With it not performing well at the box office, the future for the franchise is unsure. Might be a good thing.

8. Fast and Furious 8

I have generally been a bit of a Fast & Furious apologist. I enjoyed the movies from the start and was more than pleased to see it go from strength to strength. However, the latest instalment just goes too far away from the core themes of the franchise. The eighth instalment feels more like a series of set pieces with some connective tissue. The switch from bad guy to a family member for Deckard Shaw felt like it was included to preclude a spin off movie. That wasn’t even the worst part. The set piece in New York where every car was remotely controlled except the actual car that was being pursued was a whole new level of stupid.

7. The Snowman

The SnowmanFor the first half of this film, I was with it. The story was starting to unfold. Michael Fassbender was solid in the role of the alcoholic detective Harry Hole and the support from Rebecca Ferguson and J.K Simmons was solid. Then it all went awry as it started to bring the various strands of the murder mystery together. According to director Tomas Alfredson about fifteen percent of the script was not filmed. It shows. What I mistook for mystery and intrigue was actually a muddled mess. Plot strands are never explained and character motivations are never developed. The whole of the Val Kilmer and Toby Jones sub plot was baffling in its inclusion.

6. Jigsaw

I quite literally heard the groans when the first trailer was screened at my local multiplex. The Saw franchise had come to an end a couple of years before and the relaunch was as unexpected and being unwelcome. The film could have taken the fresh start to try something new but we were treated to the same storyline. It has no tension with the jump scares being telegraphed to the audience well before they happen. Word is that this is only the beginning.

5. All Eyez On Me

There have been so many musical biography films over the years. Some better than others. The Tupac film falls into the latter category. It gives the audience nothing that it didn’t know before and seeks to reinforce the official story that Tupac was a misunderstood genius who fell into bad company. It is dull and predictable with only the songs brightening up a really lackluster movie.

4. Justice League

DC had it going on this year. With the enormous success of Wonder Woman they had a lot of good will in the run up to the release of Justice League. What they had to do was capitalise on this and bring together the elements they have been busy promoting for the last couple of years. The result was something of a hot mess. The forced comedic moments, mainly from The Flash, coupled with an awful plot and a CGI antagonist resulted in a film that lacked any enthusiasm. The fact that this film performed rather poorly at the box office doesn’t augur well for the future of the rest of the DC cinematic universe.

3. The Shack

The last couple of years have seen the rise of the faith based film with some of the more recent ones getting cinema releases. The Shack is one such beast. A man loses faith in God after his daughter is abducted and possibly murdered. He receives a mysterious invite to visit The shack, a place where he used to spend a lot of time. There he meets God, Jesus and the holy spirit. It is such a heavy handed film that leaves you infuriated. God is all powerful yet cannot answer any of the man’s questions. It’s all a bit woolly and basically says don’t worry it’ll be alright when you die.

2. Chips

Following the well worn path of other Hollywood movies we were presented with a big screen remake of the nineteen eighties TV cop show Chips. The original was an inoffensive crime of the week with the good guys on motorbikes type of deal. For the remake, the film makers have taken the 21 Jump Street playbook and added as much crude and offensive content that they can squeeze into two hours. The result is a movie that is neither funny or entertaining. The jokes misfire and the fact that some are repeated during the course of the film to just reinforce the mistakes. Having one of the main protagonists as a sexual predator really doesn’t work either.

1. Transformers: The Last Knight

The Transformers franchise has been steadily declining in quality since the initial film in 2007. Where there was a certain amount of enjoyment to be had with robots hitting robots it has long since become dreary as the same core story is told over and over. The Last Knight attempts to rewrite the entire back story of the franchise as it delves into Arthurian legend and how the transformers were always around to guide humanity. At a near three hour run time and a bizarre and really annoying decision to utilize multiple aspect ratios, often during the same scene, the film is a mess from start to finish. The fact that it was a box office success will ensure another sequel with even more robot battles.

John McArthur
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