The Unforgivable Films of 2017
I think you guys know what this is by now. The tens of you who read this look forward to this day, don’t you?
On December 31st every year, I post my Top Ten list. On December 30th, however, it’s something else entirely. If the Top Ten list is the Oscars of this site, the Unforgivables list is the Razzies. Or the Indie Spirit Awards. Rather than wearing tuxes and being all formal, we’re all getting shit-faced in a tent somewhere, ranting about how our childhoods were ruined and how Adam Sandler is a piece of shit now.
I always like to begin with two notes. First, this list began in 2010, when I saw the movie The Switch (Bateman, Aniston, jizz cup) and was so angry at what I was watching that I stopped the movie to write up an angry rant about it, which was so well-received that it became tradition. This is the 8th Annual Unforgivables List. Previous ‘winners’ (on top of The Switch, of course) include: Batman v. Superman (2016), Vacation (2015), Heaven Is For Real (2014), Identity Thief (2013), Big Miracle (2012) and Just Go With It (2011).
And second, for what you’re all sure are the stringent criteria for inclusion on this list — one thing. Just one thing. The movie has to make me angry while I watch it. That’s it. I could enjoy the movie. But if it pisses me off, it’s a contender. Last year, Suicide Squad made the list. I was fine with it. I even enjoyed small parts of it. But it made me angry on a bunch of different levels (not to mention it being post-Batman v. Superman, which made me so angry I began writing up its Unforgivable entry in April. Which you can check out here, because it may be some of my best work), so it made it on.
Oh, the other ‘rules’, I guess you can call them: 1) no sequels, and 2) no films we all knew would be shitty to begin with. So as much as you all wanna assume Monster Trucks was gonna make it on (and yes, that was this year. I know it was a while ago), that’s not what this is about.
I feel like the theme of this year is, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” That seems to be what the majority of the entries are about. The willful ignorance of what has made countless movies in the recent past fail in the shameless pursuit of money.
This year, rather than the irrational hatred for certain films, I’m generally more pissed about the failure of major IP, or the soulless attempt to create an audience by giving them the lowest common denominator’s worth of entertainment. So I’m mad, but I don’t know if I’m necessarily in the proper ranting mood. Maybe I am and I just don’t feel like I am. We’ll see. There’s just so much more to be angry about, given the year we had as a country — I’m not sure I truly give enough of a shit to really let the anger flow.
So yeah, I just started an article by saying, “Hey guys, this is probably gonna suck!” But you know what? I’m doing more than the studios did for their piece of shit franchises this year. Plus, it’s me, so we already assume it’s gonna suck. If you’re reading this, you’ve made peace with that a long time ago.
Temper your goddamn expectations. I’m not that important. I’m just trying to say goofy shit to make people laugh.
Now, onto the vitriol!
David Ayer starts this list two years running. So much for that promising career, huh?
This commentary isn’t going to be very different from the Suicide Squad one. Only there, where I was mad at D.C. fucking up a great idea by watering it down and trying to manipulate a universe out of it, here, I’m mad because… well, we’ll get to it.
First off, we should start with this, presented without comment:
That alone could have earned this movie a spot on this list.
But that’s just a single act of hubris, and is unrelated to my feelings on the film (though it certainly doesn’t help).
Netflix bought this movie for $90 million. They paid $3 million for the script, $45 million for the budget, and the rest I’m assuming mostly went to Will Smith. There’s no way he didn’t get a king’s ransom for this movie, especially considering he normally gets a cut of the grosses of his movies. This movie has no gross. They paid him for that shit up front.
What this meant at the time was that Netflix wanted to make a splash. They wanted a movie that was gonna bring people to them. They bought someone who was, at a time, the biggest and most bankable star in the world, whose films constantly made money despite being questionable, quality-wise. Someone who hadn’t really had a hit in a decade (You know what movies Will Smith has made since I Am Legend and Hancock? Seven Pounds, Men in Black 3, After Earth, Winter’s Tale, Focus, Concussion, Collateral Beauty and Suicide Squad. The last two didn’t get released until after this deal was made and the latter of which is the only hit in the entire lot). So really, they did what TV shows used to do — take someone vulnerable at the box office and tempt them to the small screen.
I’ve made my feelings on Will Smith and his choices pretty clear — he seems more about manufacturing a product rather than making good films or interesting choices. His next film is Aladdin. He plays the Genie. Yeah.
Then there’s Max Landis, who was sold as a wunderkind screenwriter who could sell two scripts in his sleep in a good week. Chronicle was his first produced feature script, and people like that movie. Since then, here’s the list of films produced by his writing: Me Him Her, American Ultra, Mr. Right, Victor Frankenstein and this. (He also wrote on Power Rangers, but ended up not being credited.) Of that list, Me Him Her no one saw (he directed it), and is not something I can even get into right now (but holy fuck). Mr. Right is a cute idea that’s a pretty generic film. American Ultra is generally regarded as a huge disappointment, and Victor Frankenstein is… yeah.
Now, the matter of $90 million. They’re basically swinging for the fences with this number. If they just made it and didn’t say anything, then things would be different. But they made a big deal about this because they’re basically saying, “This is going to be our Star Wars.” None of this endeared me to the film. Especially since — the movie sounded bad. It looked like what your fantasy draft would look like if you let the Auto Draft pick for you, based on last year’s numbers and who they think are the top players. And yet, there are some stories that take years to get to the screen because they aren’t marketable enough. If the movie is great, then this all could be fine, and they’ve overpaid for a sure thing. But when the movie looks bad, it just annoys the shit out of you.
All this is before we get to the actual film, which I will point out is about a human cop and his orc partner who find a magic wand, which a bad elf is going to use to raise a “Dark Lord” from the dead to wipe out all of existence. $3 million, this script sold for.
Then you watch the movie and you go, “What the fuck is this?” The opening scene is Will Smith murdering a fairy. Sure, there’s a flashback that starts the movie, but after that, he wakes up, drinks coffee, and then murders an innocent creature. Are they trying to see how much they can do to ruin Will Smith’s likability? Or is this character not supposed to be likable? Because if so, casting Will Smith in your movie is not a good way to make that come through.
But we get the sense that all these fantasy creatures just sort of coexist. But we’re never really told the hierarchy of things, or what fairies are meant to be. Based on how they treat them, fairies are like mosquitos. Only they’re the size of birds and LOOK LIKE LITTLE PEOPLE WITH WINGS. So we watch this dude go outside — where apparently a bunch of gang members are already hanging out, even though it’s gotta be like, 8am — and murder this thing just because it’s causing a disturbance outside his home. And to make matters worse, he says, “Fairy lives don’t matter today.”
So to put this in perspective — we watch a cop murder an innocent creature by saying its life “don’t matter.” Aside from how horrendous that message is, that is also the equivalent of, if in the next Friedberg and Seltzer movie, Wonder Woman is running through No Man’s Land and drops her shield. And inside the pill box of the enemy’s trench, Pennywise the Clown showed up and tried to get her to reach in and take the shield back from him. And they expected you to laugh simply because they’re reminding you of those other movies. Only here, they’re trying to get you to laugh at the line, “Fairy lives don’t matter,” which is a slogan that came about because THEY’RE LITERALLY MURDERING AN ENTIRE RACE OF PEOPLE FOR NO REASON OTHER THAN THEIR RACE. In life! Not even in movies!
So again, something that should automatically make this film Unforgivable. And we haven’t even figured out what this goddamn movie is about, if we’re watching it cold.
I watched this movie twice (well… I just kinda gave up the second time, because what was I gonna get out of it), and I still don’t understand the point of any of it. We’re all aware that orcs are an allegory for black people, right? I know they tried to hide that by putting Will Smith in there, but in any other (bad) movie — the character who is ostracized from the rest of their coworkers, whose fellow people are all seen either hanging out on the corner (Will Smith literally talks to a random dude and scares him by telling him to go home or else he’ll call his parole officer — literally guessing that the dude has a parole officer, and being RIGHT) or as chauffeurs for rich people, whose fellow cop partner wants nothing to do with him and actively distrusts him because of his race… what race would that character be?
You guys realize that the movie Crash (which we all recognize as the most thoroughly nuanced portrayal of race relations ever put to screen) literally has a scene where the white cop goes to his superior and asks to be transferred to another car so he doesn’t have to ride with the black guy, right? This movie took its fucking cues from Crash. But sure, tell me all about how the orcs aren’t supposed to be black people.
Oh, and let’s also point out that Zootopia is basically the same movie as this, if anyone wants to keep making the argument that that movie has nuanced portrayals of race. Orcs here, just like the animals in Zootopia, are looked at as a recently ‘tamed’ race that used to be nothing but savages and predators for years and are discriminated against because of their race.
So this movie starts with these two already as partners. For how long? We don’t know. The flashback tells us they’ve already been through some shit! And we didn’t see it! Will Smith’s daughter already likes his partner! They’ve been together for at least a couple of months, if not a year. So we’re starting a movie where the human cop doesn’t want to be partners with the orc cop, and yet it’s not their first week working together. There’s a whole backstory that we just do not see.
Which, also — no one ever tells us how long we’ve been living in this society. Does it go back hundreds of years? The dialogue makes it sound that way. How come the orcs haven’t had a cop on the force yet? How come the elves are all just rich and do nothing? Are they meant to be Asians or Jews? Or both? How have their not been race wars? The movie never even tries to explain any of this.
There are moments in this movie that make me think there could have been something interesting. Will Smith tries to ask Margaret Cho (not even gonna ask) to put him in a car with somebody other than the orc, only for her to say, “No one wants to ride with you.” So they’re saying he’s so unlikable that they’d rather be with the orc than him. Why? Why is he such a scumbag? Maybe point that out before you hurdle us into a complicated ‘save-the-world’ plot.
I watched the first act of this movie, thinking about how even more laughable this movie would be if everyone were human, because everyone (ALL COPS) is just irrationally racist and mean to the orc cop, even though he is good at his job and nice to literally everyone. I could see if he was the kind of guy who was like Guy Pearce in L.A. Confidential, where his drive turned everyone off. But he’s a nice fucking guy. So they’re just super racist and terrible people. One of the fellow cops shows him an APB and goes, “Is this your cousin?” Imagine if that were a black guy, if they said that. Internal fucking Affairs literally enlists Will Smith to set up his goddamn partner, just because of his race.
The only interesting thing I got out of the first part of this movie was a background image of what looked like a centaur cop just chilling in the background of a shot for like, no reason. Never mentioned, never shown again, and more interesting than anything else that happened on screen for this entire film.
By the time this movie puts you into the plot, you don’t give a shit about anyone or know what the fuck is going on. You either needed to world build or let David Ayer make a cop movie. You couldn’t do both.
After a certain point, you’re just trying to keep up with all the bullshit? Magic wand? Elves? Magic? Dark Lord? Didn’t you think for a second that the term ‘Dark Lord’ was not the one you should be using? Then there’s a prophecy, and Will Smith is labeled as the ‘special’ guy. It’s standard fantasy bullshit. But no one cares because it’s all so stupid and incomprehensible.
Make no mistake, this movie was completely manufactured, and the worst part about it is that when everyone tuned in to watch this piece of shit, that only validated its existence, and they’ve ordered a sequel. Everything about this was wrong from the start, and the fact that it sucks only makes me angrier, because there was never any intention to make this good. They don’t care about quality, they just want your clicks. All you have to do is click on the movie and they’ve won.
We’ve reached the age of clickbait cinema. And it’s not pretty, folks.
9. Power Rangers
Okay, so this one’s gonna be slightly selfish. They didn’t necessarily ruin my childhood, but they did take a giant shit on it.
I will preface this by saying — Power Rangers was never a particularly great show, and the first movie is awful. But I grew up with it, so it holds a special place in my heart. How did the Star Wars prequels feel? How did those Ninja Turtles movies feel? Everyone has something they grew up with that has been ruined by the studio reboot. The fact that we’re angry doesn’t mean we think the original product was all that great, it’s just that we don’t like being treated like we’re fucking assholes.
You don’t hear this kind of backlash when the movie is good. Don’t think a lot of people are screaming about how the Jumanji remake raped their childhoods. You know why? Because the movie is good! So the worst you’re gonna get is, “It’s fun, but it’s not my Jumanji.”
Nothing but respect for MY Power Rangers.
Now, of course you’re not just gonna make a reboot of a franchise for its original fans. You’re trying to get new fans. But you do at least wanna give the old fans something to grab onto. To look over at the new fans and go, “That’s right. This kinda shit was awesome when I was your age.” You wanna get new people to care about it and cater to the old people who can see this image and immediately hear the notes play in your head:
You want to appeal to the people who, at one time or another, had this as their text message tone.
This is the case with all IP. It’s not special to this franchise. But what makes this franchise interesting is that they didn’t have to do all that much to make people like me okay with it.
It’s not like they were gonna change one detail and everyone was gonna get up and riot.
It’s not like this property was really all that great to begin with. People who grew up with it love it, but it’s not like the early days were great.
Nostalgia is one thing, but even we’re like, “Some of that stuff doesn’t quite look so good now.”
The show wasn’t exactly the bastion of progressiveness.
The black guy was the Black Ranger, the Asian girl was the Yellow Ranger, and Alpha was basically a Mexican robot.
It’s not like there weren’t room for improvements. You’re remaking a franchise where they literally defeated a villain by feeding it a spicy sandwich so it would vomit up their weapons.
The bar was so low for making a watchable movie out of this franchise. How could you fuck that up? You guys know that bar is not for playing Limbo, right?
What did they really need? The character names, the zords, that badass theme song:
Honestly, just give us the theme song and we were probably good.
This franchise was about a bunch of rollerblading teenagers who had to fight monsters occasionally.
And these were the monsters:
There was so little here that you had to hit. If you gave us something that remotely resembled Power Rangers and then threw in like, two random callbacks, like Ernie from the juice bar, we’d be happy.
But the minute they decided to go “gritty, realistic” reboot, we were fucked.
The fact that your movie begins with a flashback to millions of years ago, showing a never-ending battle between Zordon (who is inexplicably a Power Ranger himself) and Rita, you were never gonna climb out of that hole. I don’t need to know where these people come from. Just assume the world is bigger than your characters and take the exposition at face value.
Not to mention, the first scene we get in the present day involves someone jerking off a cow. By this point, I’m saying “get me the fuck out of here.”
They waste time setting up the characters, only we don’t give a shit about any of them. Except the Blue Ranger. So I guess that’s one thing the movie does right — someone finally cares about the Blue Ranger!
They find power coins inside a mountain randomly and then there’s a car chase? What the fuck does any of this have to do with Power Rangers? Rita winds up on a fishing boat like Jason fucking Bourne? They all have magical fucking powers that allow them to jump like they’re in the fucking Matrix? Rita loves gold for like, no reason other than to give us Goldar?
This is a Power Rangers movie where they don’t become Power Rangers, even in the slightest sense of the word, until 45 minutes in. This is a Power Rangers movie where they don’t morph until about 20 minutes left. And when they do, it’s these horrible Iron Man-looking suits.
I saw this movie in a theater with a friend who also grew up with this franchise. And as this movie progressed, I found myself sitting there, getting mad like Arthur.
They don’t become Power Rangers until 45 minutes in, and then promptly go back to… just sort of being kids? And training a little bit? A fucking campfire scene? No one gives a shit about any of this. You made a movie that doesn’t bring new fans into the franchise and alienates old fans because the movie is shit. Everything that happens in this movie should be like, the first hour of a Power Rangers movie, maximum.
And this is all before that fucking third act. They don’t fight putties until 90 minutes into the film. Less than five minutes after that, there’s a giant CGI monster, which apparently all third acts must have.
Then there’s the most Unforgivable moment in this entire film, where they finally get in their zords, and they bust out the “Go, Go Power Rangers” theme. At which point, even someone like me, who was basically tuned out by that point, sat up and said, “Oh fuck yeah, I’m in for this!” I was ready to go in on that third act.
And then they abruptly cut the song off 15 seconds in! They gave us 15 seconds of what we came here for! What the actual fuck? It was at that moment I knew the movie was destined for this list.
Then they went and put on Kanye West instead, and when they finally make a Megazord, it looks like Optimus Prime (which comes less than ten minutes after they make a Transformers reference).
Oh yeah, let’s also not forget this moment, which is good enough to make this list by itself.
I can’t believe they let this happen. At what point did any of this seem like a good idea? You just alienated everyone who ever liked this franchise, turned off anyone who could have liked it, and are left with a $100 million movie that bombed, with no chance of ever really making another one. And they’re standing there, wondering, “Hey, wha happened?”
I wish they hadn’t bothered. Why make a Power Rangers movie if you’re gonna change everything about Power Rangers and not bother making it good? Might as well have just embraced the camp. You stole all your ideas from all the other franchises and gave us something that’s for nobody.
Maybe they could have stolen from another franchise and neuralyzed us all at the end to forget this whole thing ever happened.
I almost convinced myself to be okay with this, but much like the previous entry, they took a well-known 90s property and proceeded to fuck it up royally.
Nobody really remembers Baywatch. We all know it, but what do we know? Red bathing suits, women running in slow motion, and tits. That’s it. That’s all this property ever was. That and yet another amazing 90s theme song:
Sure, there was probably a way to do this and make it work, but whatever that way is — this was not it.
Doing Baywatch as a comedy was fine. You could have 21 Jump Street-ed it, which I imagine might have originally been the intention. But what exactly are we left with?
First off, I would like to point out that the guy who directed this also made Four Christmases, Horrible Bosses and Identity Thief. Already off to a terrible start.
Also, it’s two hours long. Why did we need a two-hour Baywatch movie?
The first two minutes of this movie is shots of the beach, followed by The Rock saving someone in slow motion set to techno music. It’s as if they deliberately didn’t learn anything about what made this franchise work. Either there was the misguided notion of, “Women in bathing suits is demeaning, so let’s switch it and make the guys the reason to see this.” First off, no, that’s not your brand, and second, then you really don’t need to make a movie called Baywatch, do you?
Even if you wanted to do Baywatch, you immediately go away from it within three minutes of the movie starting, by turning it into just another dumb comedy. Less than five minutes in, the Rock mentions his dick. Less than fifteen minutes in, a guy gets his dick and balls caught between the wooden planks of a deck chair. This scene takes up three whole minutes of screen time. (Dudes wrote this movie, not surprisingly.) There’s also a scene where characters hide out in a morgue, and out of nowhere, the bodies drip goop and shit onto them. Why? Because I guess that’s funny? This is also after they show an extended shot of a dude’s dick, because that’s what comedy is today.
The joke of this movie I guess is supposed to be that they’re just lifeguards and take their jobs way too seriously. But the problem there is that we then get an entire fucking subplot like this is a cop movie! This isn’t Starsky and fucking Hutch. Lifeguards, guys. We barely give a shit about the comedy. Don’t put a villain plot on top of this. There’s literally a moment where someone is reasonable and goes, “If something goes down, we should call the police, who can actually handle this,” and every other character in the movie is like, “Nah, that’s not how we do things.” Motherfucker, don’t show us reason. Because now that you mention it — yeah, call the fucking cops. Just be fucking lifeguards.
They spend so much time taking their job seriously and then just leave it for like, hours, to go investigate villain shit. This movie can’t even follow it’s own shitty logic. Which, by the way, we don’t even really ever find out what the hell is going on with the villain. Shit just happens. What was the goal here?
This is a movie about people who have no real reason to do anything, who force themselves into a situation nobody asked them to get into, and then fuck it up most of the time, to nobody’s entertainment. Do you see the comparisons? Because maybe the studio should have.
I will take this movie off the list on one condition and one condition only: if someone can tell me, honestly, with a real number, the amount of cocaine and steroids that were done during the shooting of this movie.
7. Justice League
Oh, you were surprised this went so early? Come on, man, you know I ain’t gonna repeat myself like that.
We’re four movies into this D.C. Universe now, and so far three of them have been out-and-out disasters. And, to no one’s surprise, two of them were directed by Zack Snyder. Also, to everyone’s surprise (but I’m not sure why), to only one that worked was directed by a woman.
After the out and out disaster that was Batman v. Superman, you’d think they’d have learned their lesson. But they hired Zack Snyder to direct both Justice League movies. Which became one Justice League movie, which became one Justice League movie that he didn’t even finish. Somehow they didn’t realize that the tone was gonna be too dark and serious to be entertaining? So what did they do to remedy it? Only change courses midstream and hire Joss Whedon, whose way of making a movie is by including nothing serious and making it all humor.
Gee, wonder why your movie is a tonal shit show.
Let’s also not forget the studio micromanaging over the top, because D.C. must figure, “If someone’s gonna fuck up our universe, might as well be us.” Either that or they think they’re trying to fix it by exerting so much influence.
How’s that working out for you so far, guys?
I could list the many, many things that are wrong with this movie, both small and large, some of which include:
- All the terrible Zack Snyder devices: slow motion, bad use of music (the Leonard Cohen cover over the credits. What the fuck was that?), everything related to tone.
- The forced romance between Wonder Woman and Batman
- The complete lack of coherence
- The one-dimensional CGI villain with his generic ‘bad guy’ plot, which involves three objects which must be brought together, complete with CGI subordinates and giant beam of light emanating from the sky. I didn’t think it was possible to actually be a worse villain than Thanos. Yet here we are.
- The fact that one of your characters (Cyborg) serves no purpose whatsoever other than to expedite the plot and isn’t even given any sort of empathy or character development. We don’t even get to meet him as a human and then feel for him as a machine. He’s just a machine and we’re supposed to give a shit.
- The entire scene with Batman and Aquaman in the fishing village. Wayne asks about Aquaman, in front of Aquaman, and somehow doesn’t know it’s him? There’s a painting of the dude ON THE WALL, which Bruce sees and somehow doesn’t register. Not once does he make it seem like he knows who this guy is, even though this is the only dude here who speaks perfect English without an accent and has weird eyes. And on top of that, when Aquaman goes into the water, he just throws his clothes aside. Why not give them to someone else? They don’t seem particularly rich here. Also, does he just throw away his clothes every time he gets back into the water? Where does he keep getting new ones? Or, as the useless exposition told us, he brings fish to the village every year. Is this is one annual trip to the village to bring fish? Did Bruce just happen to show up the one time of year this guy comes to the village? Seemingly not, since he comes back later to save that guy and have weird shit on his hands. So we’re back to the clothes thing. Also, isn’t he the protector of the oceans? Where is he getting all these fish to feed people? Is he just murdering fish to give to these people? How does that work?
- The terrible, awful comedy in this movie. (“He said you were the thirstiest woman he ever met. …. *hungriest.”)
- The fact that there’s no point to any of it. Anything introduced is disregarded seconds later. It’s action for the sake of action, and the most generic plot you could possibly think of, without any real cohesion whatsoever.
- Ben Affleck almost literally sleeping through the entire movie. He looks about as invested in this movie as I did when I watched it.
- That entire underwater scene with Aquaman and Amber Heard. Holy shit, guys. The CGI fight scene was ridiculous in and of itself, because you’re basically watching a computer simulation, but the dialogue scene where they randomly decide to go into an air pocket just so the audience can see them talk not as CGI figures — my god. But fortunately they spoiled the fact that Nicole Kidman is going to die in the Aquaman movie that’s not out til next year, so at least we have that to not look forward to.
- Does no one care that Wonder Woman left her job for like, a week unannounced?
- You know what their “low point” of this movie is? Superman gets resurrected, is crazy, and then once that’s all resolved, there’s like an afterthought of, “Oh, man, Steppenwolf just came down and got the third box. We’re fucked.” You know why that didn’t feel like the natural low point in a standard plot progression? Because the whole movie is so goddamn dour there’s no such thing as an up note.
- You know your movie is bad when Superman shows up and you’re like, “Oh, thank god. Maybe now things will get more interesting.” Because at least there, they’re trying for real emotion and character development.
- And this:
There’s literally nothing of value here. Nothing you’re gonna take forward into future movies. What did we get out of Batman v. Superman that mattered here? Superman died. But they bring him back, so it’s meaningless. This movie, going forward — the boxes aren’t gonna matter, none of the character development brings us anything significant. Why did we even bother making a movie?
I thought about giving this movie a pass, but I can’t. I can’t sit here and watch them do the same thing again and expect a different result.
And you know what that is, right?
That’s the definition of Hollywood.
6. The Mummy
RIP Dark Universe (2017-2017)
I was against the Dark Universe from the start.
Why? Because I knew they’d fuck it up.
They didn’t even get two movies out of it. At least D.C. has fucked up three times already and are still limping along.
In a way, this Dark Universe began with Dracula Untold (itself an Unforgivable entry in 2014), but just like the Edward Norton Incredible Hulk movie, we just kind of pretend that never happened.
Universal has one major thing in their arsenal going back to their inception — the monsters. So of course you wanna reboot them. And what’s trendy now? Universe building.
But how are you gonna create a universe where the antagonists are the main draw? Dracula dies at the end of his movie. All the sequels have other characters. Lugosi only played him once (twice if you count Abbott and Costello). Karloff got two go-rounds of Frankenstein, but that was it. Bride of Frankenstein, once. Invisible Man? Once. Wolf Man (let’s not forget that they already tried to reboot that with Benicio Del Toro in 2010), once. All of these creatures die. Jekyll and Hyde? That’s right. Just once.
So you’re trying to start a shared universe where all these characters coexist. Cool. But they all die at the end of their movies. So now you have to somehow fashion them as heroes, keep them alive, and somehow make a story for all of that to work together. And probably have them work together. How’s that gonna go?
They were gonna make Monster SHIELD.
You also cast Javier Bardem as Frankenstein, Russell Crowe as Jekyll and Hyde, Tom Cruise as The Mummy, Johnny Depp as The Invisible Man, and allegedly Angelina Jolie as the Bride of Frankenstein. So… all people whose names have draw but don’t really actually draw people into the seats anymore. Great.
You started a universe by making decisions pretty much anyone could tell you were the wrong ones, and you rebooted a franchise where we actually liked the other movies. So now you have to not only overcome the fact that nobody really likes forced world building, force something onto them that they don’t really want or care about, and remake the Brendan Fraser movies that we all enjoy the shit out of!
I just wanted you to all know that the foundation on which this movie was based was bad from the start. But that’s not why this movie is Unforgivable. That’s just the prologue.
Speaking of prologue, I started writing up this entry as I put the movie on, and in all the time it took to type that up, we got some bullshit prologue that has nothing to do with the actual movie.
They found a bunch of tombs underwater. And then the first person we meet — Dr. Jekyll. In a movie about a mummy, you don’t meet the mummy, or Tom Cruise. You meet another character. WHO BEGINS NARRATING.
Remember how the Brendan Fraser movie started? Ancient Egypt, forbidden love, murder, a curse. Then boom, Brendan Fraser fighting in the desert, getting into adventure. We already don’t give a fuck about this one, even before he gets into the flashback. The other movie shows you why the mummy is gonna do what he does. Here, the mummy murders a baby!
Then, when we get to Tom Cruise, they bring us to present day Iraq — just what we all wanted — robbing treasure. And it turns into a fucking war movie. If not for the attempted comedic tone, this could be shitty Black Hawk Down.
Here’s the real problem — they waste screen time on plot rather than character and story. There’s like two whole minutes of them carrying the sarcophagus through the desert and loading it on the plane, where all the dialogue is standard military shit that’s basically background noise. If you spent that time endearing us to these people, maybe we’d give a shit. Your villain spends like twenty minutes captured just so you can world-build. I mean, what do you want your movie to be?
The real problem with this movie is that you went in without a real plan, got Tom Cruise, and then he came in and tried to actually make it good. But his version of good is not what this movie is supposed to be. So that just took mediocre and turned it into different mediocre. The plane stunt was clearly a Tom Cruise thing. Something that got cut out of Mission: Impossible. It’s fine, but it doesn’t help your movie or your universe.
This is just a disaster on almost every conceivable level. You know things are bad when, in 2017, we all collectively prefer Brendan Fraser to Tom Cruise and it’s not even weird.
5. The Dark Tower
Our third entry this year that killed a franchise in its infancy.
This one I hate because of all the shit that went into it. The Mummy is a bit of both, Power Rangers is purely because of the execution. This one is more the studio failure. I can’t stand how studio influenced this film was.
They’ve been trying to make this for years. I feel like Ron Howard was attached to this movie since like, 2011. And eventually he dropped out, and the director they got previously did Foreign Language Film nominee A Royal Affair. If that didn’t set off the alarm bells for most people, I don’t know what will.
Previous acclaimed European foreign directors coming to the U.S. to make a studio movie include: Gavin Hood (who won for Tsotsi. His American films? X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and Ender’s Game), Oliver Hirschbiegel (He made Downfall. His American film? The Invasion), Matthiew Kassovitz (he made La Haine. American film? Babylon A.D.) and Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (he made The Lives of Others, and then… The Tourist). Now we can add Nikolaj Arcel to the list.
Here’s a franchise based on eight books. It’s Lord of the Rings if your main character was Clint Eastwood in a Sergio Leone film. The great conceit of the books, as I’m told (stop reading this paragraph if you don’t want to know) is that you spend like seven books with the character and then he finally reaches the titular tower, only to realize he’s done this a bunch of times before, and is basically been in a loop. And at the end of the last book, he gets transported back to the beginning again (the book ends with the same sentence the first book began), only with a slight hope that this time just may be different.
I loved the idea of that concept. And I could see how you could transport that into a movie. Just take the broad concept of the six books boil it down into one or two, and then go from there. You can easily get a trilogy out of that. Book 1, introduce the characters and the world, and end with a plan to get to the tower that you seemingly didn’t have before. Movie two, end with him getting to the tower and having your Darth Vader realization that he has at the end of the last book, and then end on the hopeful note of “maybe this time.” Then movie 3, if you want a satisfying trilogy, then you can go off-book and have him win in the end. It’s not that complicated.
But, here’s a studio who had so many failures and needed a franchise to hit. So basically what they did was sacrifice everything in order to make this work. And the minute you overdo something, it becomes a mess. You start slicing and overproducing and cutting so much that in the end, all you’re doing is trying to salvage what everyone knows is a mess. This movie was a disaster a year out. We all knew it. By the end, it wasn’t a matter of people going to see it, it was, “Can they get anyone to go to try to salvage this?” They cut the movie to 95 minutes. Do you know what that means, to give people a 95 minute movie based on an 8 book saga?
Not only that — THEY RESOLVE THE SERIES. How you gonna start a Dark Tower franchise where they LITERALLY DESTROY THE DARK TOWER IN THE FIRST MOVIE? That’s not a spoiler alert, don’t fucking watch it.
Every moment of this movie reeked of studio influence, to the point where not a single moment in this entire movie is interesting or worth watching.
I was 13 when 9/11 happened. About a week removed from my 13th birthday. I was sitting in second period math when we started to sense something was wrong. They came and pulled one person out of the class because their parents came to pick them up. The rest of us didn’t really know anything. I just figured, “Damn, they’re lucky.” But then twenty minutes later, another person got pulled out. Which was weird. Normally people didn’t get called out of class like they do in the movies. Not in my school.
Then third period, which I think was some sort of bullshit computer class where we sat there and played Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego or drew stuff on KidPix. We started to get word that something had happened at that point, but no one wanted to tell us anything. The kids with cell phones started hearing the news first. But even then, no one really knew. Then fourth period was English. Everyone at this point was wondering what the hell was going on. People kept getting pulled out with increasing frequency. By this point, at least one of the buildings had gone down. The other one went down at some point during the class.
One of the kids in the class made a comment about it (it was the first time I heard what was actually going on. Terrorists flew a plane into the Twin Towers). I remember when he did this the teacher got really upset. Not ‘teacher’ upset. Upset upset. She had to stop herself from going overboard on him and was clearly holding back tears. If memory serves, I think her husband was a firefighter. And she knew (rightly) that most people had family either in or around the area and were gonna worry about them. Still not sure I agree with keeping the information from us, but I at least understand the second part.
By fifth period, it was both a series of us trying to get as much information we could out of the teachers and the waiting game of, “When are my parents gonna come get us?” By that point, about twenty of the forty-something kids in the class were gone, and my focus wasn’t, “How bad is it?” it was, “When the hell are we gonna get out of here and get a day off like everyone else?” We were kids, what the hell did we know? It’s the same way when I get a day off work now. It’s the greatest thing in the world. Finally, my mother came and picked us up around 12:30 or so. That was probably late sixth period, early seventh. I remember driving home in a car with my mother, my sister and a bunch of neighbors. My mother went and picked them all up. I think we stopped to pick up one more person along the way.
All of us were listening to the radio the entire ride home, being recapped as to what was happening. I still hadn’t seen anything visual. Every five minutes, the same audio kept repeating. Because at that point, no one really knew anything. I remember getting home, running upstairs and turning on the TV. It was on every channel. The most you could get by changing it was a slightly different voice telling you basically the same thing. Some stations showed alternate footage, but mostly it was the same thing every few minutes: the plane flying into the building, the second plane flying into the second building, the shot on the street of people running away from it, and the buildings falling. Occasionally the graphics would update, because I think by then they knew it had been a terrorist attack.
By two o’clock, everyone was out on the street just speculating about what was happening. Usually we’d have hung out and played basketball or football. I don’t even know if we did that. A lot of us were waiting to make sure our family members were okay. Mostly we stood around talking about it. I remember all of us making the kind of racist comments that thirteen-year-olds make. Talking about how the country would go bomb those people. I think it was a way for us to relieve whatever the hell we were feeling. I remember us laughing about that, and I remember immediately, once I got home later that day and thought about it, I realized how awful life was going to be for all Middle Eastern people for the next few months, how they were gonna be unfairly blamed by everyone because of the people who did it.
The rest of the week was a whirlwind. School was closed the next two days, resuming on Friday, at which point I think we all went in late and everything started with a long assembly where we basically sat there for an hour. I don’t know if even they said anything. Things didn’t really get back to normal until the end of the following week. But by then, everything was different.
There are few events in the past century that are so big that everyone knows where they were during them. The JFK assassination is one. I’ve heard people older than me mention the Challenger explosion. 9/11 is my event. There aren’t really any other days that I can say, “I know exactly where I was and I remember exactly how it all went down.” At least not ones that will be the same days as a majority of the American population. (Though, depending on how the next few years go, 11/8/16 might turn out to be one of those days.)
I say all that to say this — if you’re going to make a movie that references the most important date in American history in the past 40 years, you should really know what you’re getting into. Because it’s not like you’re illuminating the event for people. And at worst, you run the risk of looking like you’re using a tragedy for personal gain. I don’t know why this movie exists. The film is about five people trapped in an elevator. The day just happens to be 9/11. The characters are: a billionaire and his soon-to-be ex-wife, a black bike messenger, a Russian woman and Luis Guzman. None of their personal dramas seem to matter, and all while this is playing out, we’re reminded that the single worst attack in American history is taking place just outside.
This movie has nothing to say about 9/11. This movie has nothing to say about the themes of hope, resilience or survival. This movie has nothing to say. This movie is the cinematic equivalent of a “thoughts and prayers” tweet. Or worse, a “thoughts and prayers” tweet that also includes a plug. And while I’ve never really felt any real emotional impact from 9/11 (I was a kid who did not lose any family members and was an hour away from it all. I was not remotely affected the way others were, and I consider myself lucky for that fact), what this movie did to, in whatever small way, trivialize the events of that day for a shitty movie, is Unforgivable to me.
Also, you made a 9/11 movie and put Charlie Sheen, Whoopi Goldberg and Luis Guzman in it. Don’t fucking do that.
Melissa McCarthy didn’t have a film this year, so the spot usually reserved for her shifted over to the next likeliest contender: Amy Schumer.
You could have guessed this would be Unforgivable last year. It’s a comedy about white women abducted while on vacation in South America. A COMEDY. There was no way this was gonna turn out great.
The writer of this also wrote The Heat (Unforgivable, 2013) and Ghostbusters (not Unforgivable, but… yeesh).
This movie opens the way a lot of Unforgivable comedies open — with the main character clueless beyond belief and so far removed from reality that it’s impossible to take them seriously, let alone find them funny. Amy Schumer is talking about her upcoming vacation and spilling her entire life to someone as she picks out clothes, only for the reveal to be that she works there and isn’t a customer. A real comedy would have gotten out at that reveal (and also not shot it the way this movie did). Here, the movie goes further, having her get fired, and further establishing her as a person who is clearly unfit to survive in the world. She not only mistakes a customer for an employee (how does she not know who else works there?) and also realizes she never asked for time off to go on vacation. So — she’s talking about this trip to anyone who’ll listen, yet somehow that issue never came up at work, where she seemingly has been for a little while. What kind of a person has a job but never thinks, “You know, I’m gonna be out of the country, I should tell the people I work with?” It’s a little thing, but it’s shit like this that modern comedy does that’s just incomprehensible to me. I can’t find your movie funny when your main character is incapable of surviving natural selection.
The actual next scene features her being broken up with by her boyfriend. He says they’re done, she keeps trying to twist the words to make that not the case. You remember that Mike and Dave movie? Where I fucking hated that scene where the two idiots with no sense of reality were trying to sell something and even though the guy knew what they were trying to do and even said they’ve tried the same shit before, they kept doing it? This is the same goddamn scene! So not only are modern comedies unfunny and lacking in any character with real empathy or realism, but they’re basically running the same shitty playbook!
Oh, and did I mention this movie tries to get comedy about KIDNAPPING IN SOUTH AMERICA.
Can we just get good comedy writers to make the movies, and directors who know about pacing and timing, and someone who’s not gonna make the same, shitty, gross-out, r-rated, juvenile movie that everyone else makes? Is that so much to ask?
The most Unforgivable thing this movie does is bring Goldie Hawn, a great comedic actress, out of retirement to NOT BE FUNNY. Why fucking bother?
You probably don’t know what this is. But look at the title. You pretty much know all you need to know.
Any movie title that has a hashtag in it is probably an automatic Unforgivable.
If there’s one major cinematic pet peeve of mine that comes through all the time, it’s how much I hate the inclusion of social media into movies. It’s never (EVER) done correctly. It looks to me the way watching any movie about hacking in the 90s looks. Instead of saying, “Do you even know how a computer works?” I’m saying, “Do you have any idea how the real world works and how people interact?”
The other thing I really hate in movies is millennials giving in to their own self-importance. If one of the themes of your movie is “YOLO,” then chances are I fucking hate it. Remember that movie from last year where all the idiots went to the music festival in the desert? Or the one where Zac Efron is a DJ who thinks a DJ beat could change the world? You know what all of these movies have in common? They all feature a 20-year-old saying, “This is our time, guys. The future is ours.” The other thing they have in common is that I wish all of their characters died in one of those beheading videos you can find in the dark corners of the internet.
This movie is pretty much exactly the same as those. In this movie, every person is constantly on their phone, recording anything they think will get them likes and views. Every person in the high school is the same stereotype you’ve seen in all the other high school movies. They interrupt the cafeteria to make announcements, they all just talk in the middle of class, and blatantly use cell phones in front of teachers without any repercussions whatsoever. The cheerleading team basically does a strip show at a school assembly with more production design than most film school movies have. They all seem to validate their lives based on what they post on social media rather than interacting with each other as human beings and are blatantly awful to one another on a regular basis. All the kids’ parents follow social media and know about all the stuff happening in their kids’ lives through that. All the kids live in gigantic houses and their parents are pretty much never home, allowing them to throw giant parties. Nobody actually seems to understand how real life works, both the characters and the people who made it.
One of the students is an internet star. She literally walks around with people filming her and flaunts every school rule. The first time we see her, she’s told by the principal that she can’t bring a dog in school (somehow the first time this has ever happened in four years). She responds by filming him and saying it’s an emotional support dog and saying that if he has a problem, she’ll post about it. Somehow, this scares him into letting her keep it. This is the same character who befriends the main character just to take her down because she thinks she stole her boyfriend.
The major conflict is the main character (stereotypical smart, driven girl who doesn’t care about her appearance) getting in with the cool kids and becomes superficial. AKA the plot of at least 40% of high school movies. (Another 40% is kids trying to get laid, and the other 20% is “I’m a social outcast trying to get through this” or “I really need to get into a good college.”) She goes from the smart one to a social media whore. Why? No fucking idea. Never explained. This movie isn’t big on explaining things.
I might have tried to care about the main character getting a boyfriend if I didn’t also have to see all the status updates of how the entire fucking school feels about it too. I really wanna see a movie with what happened to these same people in twenty years. Because some of them are gonna be dead, some of them are gonna be homeless, and the rest are gonna be cashiers at the local warehouse chain.
The climax of the movie is a Facebook live message. I’m not fucking kidding. The moral of this story is, apparently, “If you are yourself and do things from the heart… you can get a lot of likes on social media and be famous enough for people to support your endeavors.”
Fuck everything this movie stands for.
1. The Emoji Movie
“An adventure beyond words.” That does about sum it up.
Words cannot truly express how soulless, and evil, and lazy, and representative of everything that’s wrong with our culture that this movie is.
How fucking dare they try to pull this one over on us. How fucking dare they fly completely in the face of any artistic or creative achievement and make something that is nothing more than a corporate shill of a movie, designed only to make money and provide absolutely nothing to anyone who sees it.
There is literally nothing of value in this movie. And I say literally because there is quite literally nothing of value here. I just spent an entire entry talking about how much I cannot stand movies that use social media in them. But that’s just using social media. This is marketing it to CHILDREN! You’re basically selling children apps under the guise of entertainment. Sure, the movie Cars is just selling them toys, but at least they tried to tell stories over that. It’s one thing to use a movie to sell us shit. But they’re not even trying to hide it behind a movie. They’re just selling us shit. There’s no movie here. It’s just a sales pitch. Congratulations, you just turned something that is killing the English language into an advertisement.
People don’t even use words anymore because of these fucking things. And you’re force-feeding it to people like it’s high-fructose corn syrup. It’s disgusting. Plus, what are people gonna get out of this? They’re gonna look at it and go, “Oh my god, it’s the salsa lady emoji, oh my god!!!”? If that’s the case, you just made the animated equivalent of a Friedberg and Seltzer movie.
The movie is just a series of traveling from app to app. YOU ARE SELLING APPS TO CHILDREN. They’re not even trying to have fucking self-respect for themselves, and they sure as shit don’t have respect for the viewer. It’s one thing to sell products to a viewer (Michael Bay has turned that into an art form), but this movie is bending you over and fucking you in the ass without even caring if you wanted it.
They literally sold a piece of shit to us by USING a piece of shit.
That’s two slogans that aptly describe this movie.
I’m so mad even thinking about this movie that I have nothing I can say about it. This movie makes me upset about where we are as a people. To me, this is Nero fiddling. This is one of the greatest acts of hubris I’ve ever seen come out of Hollywood, which is saying something. It is stunning to me that they had the balls to put this movie out, and the self-delusion to think people would see it as anything other than it is — an abomination.
This is how the world ends, not with a bang, but with the poop emoji.
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11. The Case for Christ — This was supposed to be #8. But I just couldn’t be bothered with it. Writing it up would have required me to watch it again and think about it. Which I really don’t want to do. Some pieces of shit just aren’t worth the press. These religious movies are basically Friedberg and Seltzer movies at this point. We all know they’re appealing to the lowest common denominator and offer up nothing of value cinematically. Fortunately no one seems to know this exists, and I’d rather keep it that way. This just isn’t worth my time. (Though fortunately, unlike the other invisible being, this one didn’t generate billions of dollars from people this year.) The entire movie is about a dude who wasted his time on shit that doesn’t matter. That’s my takeaway from it, and I will not be making the same mistake. But, for what it’s worth, this is definitely one of the most Unforgivable movies of the year.
12. Mad Families — This was the single worst movie I saw this year. It was like, a half a step above camcorder home movies from the 90s. But it was also a movie made by Crackle, so how the fuck did we think that was gonna go? The fact that we all knew this was gonna be a piece of shit, and the fact that I was laughing at it rather than getting angry is the only thing that kept this from the list. But trust me, even that was a tough call.
13. A Dog’s Purpose — What a piece of shit this was.
14. The Resurrection of Gavin Stone — A shitty religious two-fer. I could have guessed this was gonna be here this time last year.
15. Deep — I had to put at least one of these shitty, low grade animated movies here. This was the year of those, and they’re all terrible. They’re all shameless cash grabs, without even the slightest attempt to make them watchable. It’s kind of disgusting.
- A Bad Moms Christmas
- The Bye Bye Man
- How to Be a Latin Lover
- The Star
- Top Cat Begins
- We Don’t Belong Here
- You Get Me
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