Every year is filled with great movies that remind us of the wonder and joy that can only be found in the cinema. Some movies will be remembered for years to come because of their artistic merit, creative vision, and successful execution of that vision. This list is not about those films.
Instead, it’s time to focus on the failures, the duds, the godawful messes that should never have been cleared for release. Some of the films on this list were clearly doomed from the start, but others had solid premises or creative visions which were somehow lost in the Hollywood movie-making machine.
Either way, they all crashed and burned in one way or another. With that in mind, however, perhaps readers should do more than just stare and gawk at these abysmal misfires.
It takes a tremendous amount of effort to make a movie, even a bad one, and even he worst entries on this list surely have at least some redeeming qualities, be it conceptually, thematically, or one element of the execution which just works on a whole other level from the rest of the film.
Then again, it’s hard to recommend any of these movies to anyone but the most dedicated cinephiles; regardless of good intentions and untold hours of hard work, the films on this list… Well, they’re bad, and we’ve got the Rotten Tomatoes scores to prove it.
Here are The 20 Worst Movies of 2017 (According To Rotten Tomatoes).
20. Ghost in the Shell (46%)
Live-action adaptations of animated works are always a risky proposition, but it seemed like if there was one property that would make for a smooth transition, it would be Ghost in the Shell.
Originally a manga, the 1995 anime version is perhaps the single most influential Japanese movie outside of Godzilla, and its distinct style was hugely influential on the look and feel of The Matrix, which in turn helped shape the course of action cinema in the 21st century.
It’s a shame, then, that the live-action version of Ghost in the Shell managed to fail on so many levels. Sure, the production design is top notch, but the story is stripped of nearly all its thematic resonance and a whitewashed Scarlett Johnansson is terribly utilized in the lead role.
Not even the presence of the great “Beat” Takeshi Kitano can save Ghost in the Shell from the soulless guidance of director Rupert Sanders, who previously directed the similarly-underwhelming Snow White and the Huntsman.
19. Justice League (40%)
Perhaps the greatest “what could have been” story of 2017, the behind-the-scenes story of Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon’s Justice League has been major pop culture news for months. Ultimately, the finished film is a manic mess, pulled in too many directions by Snyder’s original vision, Whedon’s quirky touch, and the meddling executives at Warner Bros.
There are two-to-three movies worth of content jammed into Justice League‘s two-hour running time, and, despite moments of brilliance (such as the continued perfection of Henry Cavill as Superman, CGI moustache-removal notwithstanding), the end result is a schizophrenic disaster zone, racing from plot point to plot point like a stitched-together Frankenstein monster of dissonant tone, uneven pacing, and unaddressed plot holes.
Would it have been better if Warner Brothers had stuck squarely to Zack Snyder’s original vision? Maybe, maybe not. It’s impossible to know. Maybe the movie still would have sucked. But at least it would have been Snyder’s film, and not a shamelessly vapid corporate product.
18. Jigsaw (34%)
Every once in a while, Hollywood decides to revive a long-dormant horror franchise. Sometimes it works (Freddy Vs Jason), and sometimes it doesn’t (Scream 4). In the case of Jigsaw, which sought to bring back the Saw series after a seven-year absence, it most assuredly did not work out.
The Saw films have always had a uniquely complex soap opera mythology as the backbone of the series, but Jigsaw does little to resolve the dangling plot threads from the original series, opting instead for an unenthusiastic run-of-the-mill sequel which does little to justify its own existence.
Some of the twists are mildly interesting, but there is absolutely nothing here than hasn’t been done before, and been done better, in the earlier films.
17. Monster Trucks (31%)
Monster Trucks had all the makings of a high-concept family adventure movie: the charming Lucas Till stars as a high school student who finds a monster living inside his truck.
He bonds with the creature, and wacky adventures and high-adrenaline car chases ensue. Unfortunately, Monster Trucks fails to live up to its admittedly adorable premise, and falters on nearly every level.
Despite an impressive cast that includes Danny Glover, Holt McCallany, Jane Levy, and Rob Lowe, Monster Trucks never feels like anything greater than a middling television pilot.
The movie has a surprisingly large budget of $125 million, very little of which is actually evident in the film’s ho-hum action beats, and the whole thing just feels like a shallow distraction for very small children. Monster Trucks could have been the next Transformers. Instead, it’s the next Max Steel.
16. Wonder Wheel (30%)
Woody Allen has always been a hit-or-miss writer/director, but Wonder Wheel is easily one of his most phoned-in movies to date.
Despite making glorious use of its picturesque 1950s Coney Island setting, the script for Wonder Wheel is a paint-by-numbers affair with little in the way of imagination or substance. Not even the exceptional casting (Kate Winslet! Juno Temple! Jim Belushi! Justin Timberlake!) can save this film from itself.
It’s hard to say whether or not Woody Allen has lost his creative edge. For every Wonder Wheel and Hollywood Ending, there’s a Blue Jasmine and Midnight in Paris.
His creative output is so unstoppable (he has directed at least one film a year since 1982) that he doesn’t stop to think if a script is worth filming until it’s already too late. Wonder Wheel tries to hide behind its pretty visuals, but to no avail: there’s just no meat on its bones.
15. A Bad Moms Christmas (28%)
The original Bad Moms, released in 2016, proved that cinematic offerings for women were so anemic that even a middling R-rated comedy could be a box office hit if it was literally the only movie appealing to its demographic.
After essentially winning by default, a sequel was quickly given the green light, and 2017 saw the release of A Bad Moms Christmas.
This comedy sequel sees the lead trio of the first film (Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn, and Kristen Bell) joined by their own mothers (Cheryl Hines, Susan Sarandon, and Christine Baranski) for another round of raunchy, R-rated comedy antics.
14. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (30%)
The legend of King Arthur has been told a million times, but Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword might be the worst one yet, and also the funniest, though the comedy is almost entirely unintentional.
Ritchie’s Cockney style just isn’t a fit for King Arthur’s medieval fantasy setting, and the film’s reported $175 million price tag sounds like a bad joke in hindsight.
To his credit, Charlie Hunnam is giving it his all, and there are some who will inevitably be drawn to and appreciate the bizarre amalgam of styles and genres present here.
Ritchie’s sugar-rush take on Arthurian legend is a sensory overload of visual excess and devil-may-care freedom– of all the films on this list, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is probably the one most likely to attain a cult following just by virtue of being so weird.
13. The Book of Henry (21%)
Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow had been attached to direct Star Wars: Episode IX, but ultimately parted ways from the project due to ambiguous “creative differences.” After watching The Book of Henry, it seems like Disney and Lucasfilm dodged a bullet by dropping Trevorrow from the project.
Trevorrow was clearly aiming high with The Book of Henry, about a child genius and his aspirations to save people and change his world. It’s a premise with potential, but it’s undercut at every turn by an irritating self-indulgence and overwhelming aura of unearned profundity.
12. Underworld: Blood Wars (20%)
Few people were excited for a fifth Underworld movie… Or a fourth, or a third, or even a second, but that hasn’t stopped Screen Gems from indulging in the continued soap opera antics of the confoundingly self-serious action saga.
The entire series can be summed up as “leather-clad Kate Beckinsale shoots guns in slow motion,” but there’s a needlessly grandiose and ham-handed backstory about the endless war between vampires and werewolves.
It seems even the most dedicated Underworld devotees were uninterested in the continued adventures of Seline, as Underworld: Blood Wars finished its box office run as the lowest-grossing entry in the series.
11. Daddy’s Home 2 (18%)
The original Daddy’s Home was not a good movie. Despite featuring the comedy duo of “Marky” Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell, who absolutely proved their comedic chemistry with 2010’s The Other Guys, that “dad-vs-stepdad” comedy failed to recapture that magic.
The movie was was overly reliant on cheap gags and juvenile antics in lieu of actual humor, but still managed to turn a tidy profit at the box office.
Of course, because there’s no justice in this world, Daddy’s Home got a sequel, and The Other Guys did not. Despite adding the considerable talents of John Lithgow, John Cena, and Mel Gibson, Daddy’s Home 2 is somehow even worse than the original, with fewer jokes, rehashed story beats, and a complete waste of its impressive cast.
10. All Eyez On Me (18%)
A Tupac Shakur biopic has been a long time coming, and those waiting for a revealing and intimate look at the life and times of one of the most important rappers of all time… will just have to keep waiting.
All Eyez On Me doesn’t do justice to the legendary artist, but instead has all the gravitas of a made-for-television movie, with inept dialogue and a complete waste of leading man Demetrius Shipp Jr., who is the spitting image of Shakur. Unfortunately, his lack of acting experience is clearly evident in his bland performance.
9. The House (17%)
A clever premise and a stellar cast couldn’t save The House from critical and commercial doom. Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler star as parents who decide to raise funds for their daughter’s college tuition by opening up an illegal casino in their home.
The House could have been something of a successor to 2015’s Sisters, which paired Poehler with fellow SNL alum Tina Fey as they threw a house party for the ages. Sisters is a jolly comedy with heartfelt moments and compelling characters. The House, simply put, is not.
The House failed to amount to anything worthwhile, but hopefully Poehler and Ferrell will collaborate in the future, since they are both incredibly funny and talented performers – it just didn’t work out this time.
8. The Dark Tower (16%)
Audiences have been waiting for an adaptation of Stephen King’s revered Dark Tower saga for years. Originally pitched as a multimedia epic to be told across film and television, the finished film ran an anemic 95 minutes and featured practically none of the thematic grandeur or scope of Stephen King’s original epic tome.
For their part, at least Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey are entertaining as the Gunslinger and the Man in Black, respectively, but the action, while not without its fleeting moments of excitement, is generally incomprehensible and poorly-staged. The end result is a waste as both an adaptation of King’s work and as a stand-alone action film.
7. The Mummy (16%)
The iconic monsters of Universal Studios are long overdue for a big screen revival, and The Mummy was planned to be the first chapter in a a shared universe consisting of cinematic legends like Dracula, Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, and The Creature from the Black Lagoon.
Unfortunately, The Mummy, the planned first entry in the series, was a massive critical and commercial disappointment. Torn between being a horror film, an action epic, and a single chapter of a larger whole, The Mummy manages to fail at all of these tasks.
Even the presence of Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe can’t save The Mummy from being a lazy attempt at forcing a cinematic universe into existence, rather than building one with a sense of purpose beyond the endless Hollywood quest for more money.
6. Transformers: The Last Knight (15%)
Michael Bay’s Transformers movies, by most accounts, are terrible. They’re also notoriously critic-proof. 2014’s Age of Extinction, considered the nadir of the series up to that point, still managed to bring in over one billion dollars at the global box office.
However, it seems audiences are finally tired of Bay’s brainless action and grievous mishandling of Hasbro’s iconic robot heroes. Transformers: The Last Knight was a certified box office bomb, grossing just $130 million domestically.
It saved some face worldwide with a final haul of $605 million, but considering its massive budget of $217 million and inflated marketing costs, it’s likely that, at best, The Last Knight only just managed to barely break even.
5. The Emoji Movie (9%)
There is no rational explaination for The Emoji Movie, Sony Pictures’s attempt to turn those little smartphone smiley faces into animated motion picture heroes with personalities, hopes, dreams, and character arcs.
The Emoji Movie was doomed from the start, but the completed film was even worse than any critic could have possibly anticipated.
When the creative well runs dry, desperate studio executives will try to make a movie out of anything. It’s unclear whether this animated comedy is simply a bad movie, or a post-modern commentary on cynicism in Hollywood and a scathing indictment of an industry which is willing to pour $50 million into a humorless farce with no redeeming qualities beyond the merciless mocking of its very premise.
4. The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature (9%)
Between Transformers, Jigsaw, and Rings (but more on that in a bit), 2017 was definitely the year meaningless sequels, though one could easily infer that such is the case nearly every year. However, one sequel which absolutely nobody saw coming was The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature.
Does anybody even remember the first Nut Job? The animated heist comedy featuring anthropomorphic backyard animals was wholly unremarkable and completely devoid of imagination, but it was a middling box office performer, so a sequel was put into development.
Like the Sharknado movies, The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature‘s best joke is its title. From there, The Nut Job 2 is dragged down by lazy writing, juvenile humor, and second-rate animation… just like Sharknado.
3. Rings (7%)
Remember The Ring? As a Japanese horror remake directed by Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean), The Ring launched at the tail end of the VHS era, and the main villain of the horror series was a spirit trapped in a videotape. It was a different time.
Despite the potential in making the series relevant again in the age of YouTube, SnapChat, and Instagram, Rings only plays fleeting lip service to that possibility, opting instead to wallow in a pit of generic horror tropes, plot holes, and cheap thrills, to say nothing of a seriously underutilized Vincent D’Onofrio.
Rings is a cynical cash grab. It doesn’t attempt to make The Ring relevant again; it merely asks the audience to believe in the possibility that it could do so, and then purposefully fails to deliver at every turn.
2. Tyler Perry’s Boo! 2: A Madea Halloween (6%)
The films of Tyler Perry are harmless and good-natured, but his Madea shtick was played out around a decade ago, and Boo! 2 brings nothing new to the table, and even the most dedicated fans were let down by Madea’s second Halloween movie.
Tyler Perry has the potential to be taken seriously by critics, and several of his works, such as The Family that Preys and I Can Do Bad All By Myself, have flirted with mainstream success, but perhaps the filmmaker just can’t help himself.
It’s like there’s some unseen outside force which causes him to pad his films with unnecessary and unfunny comic tangents and cut too many corners in terms of production values.
1. Just Getting Started (5%)
According to Rotten Tomatoes, the worst movie of the year is Just Getting Started, a lazy attempt at counter-programming from writer/director Ron Shelton, which manages to squander an A-list cast and solid premise with a complete disinterest in the very medium of film.
Tommy Lee Jones, Morgan Freeman, and Rene Russo are all capable of way better than this, but Just Getting Started has all the finesse of an Adam Sandler movie– it’s clear that the cast is only there to be paid, and they’re all completely uninterested in the film at hand.
The only reason to watch this film is to observe Tommy Lee Jones’s active disinterest in being on camera. His spiteful contempt for Just Getting Started is clearly visible in every scene of the film, and it’s truly a sight to behold.
Do you agree with this list? What was your least favorite film of the year? Sound off in the comments!
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