5. Alien: Covenant
Ridley Scott’s latest crack at the Alien franchise isn’t exactly a disaster, but it’s the polar opposite of the movie fans wanted to see. Alien fans have been waiting patiently for a proper Alien sequel for years, but Scott decided to continue the Prometheus mythos with middling results. People anxiously anticipated a more straightforward sci-fi horror only to get bogged down by unnecessary worldbuilding and more irrelevant plot points. Some people were happy to see some of Prometheus’s lingering questions get answered, but most people just wanted to see Aliens scared the hell out of people.
Admittedly, Scott does include some Alien scares, but it feels tonally inconsistent next to the more philosophical questions presented by the director. On one hand, he wants to include the fan service that people desperately desire. On the other hand, he wants to continue the story he started five years prior. It all feels rather jumbled. In trying to appeal to two separate groups of people, he ends up alienating both groups. The Prometheus fans will get more out of this than the Alien fans, but even they will have beef with the fact that Scott can’t make up his mind.
Fassbender is fantastic, the visuals are strong, and the body horror is a treat, but the rest of the movie is undeniably divisive. Scott clearly had a vision, but his vision can’t match up with what fans wanted. To be fair, people had ridiculously high expectations for this movie, but it still feels as though Scott dropped the ball in a number of areas. There are going to be people who like this movie for what it is, but there are going to be just as many people who leave the movie wanting their two hours back.
4. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
When it comes to making fun action movies, Guy Ritchie is one of the best directors out there. His take on Sherlock Holmes may not have been as clever as the Cumberbatch series, but it sure was entertaining. The Man from U.N.C.L.E was no Bond, but it was charming and silly in all the right ways. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword tries for the trademark Guy Ritchie fun, but the flat dialog, monotonous story, and uninteresting characters sour the experience. It’s not like Ritchie is especially skilled when it comes to dialog, story, and characters, but this movie feels especially mediocre.
It’s not like we were expecting an Oscar contender, but did the movie have to be such an uninspired bore? The stylish action scenes only help so much. For every dazzling action section, there are enormous chunks of tedious exposition and eye-roll inducing dialog. Hunnam, who gave a fantastic performance in this year’s The Lost City of Z, is as interesting as a cardboard box this time around.
The supporting characters are somehow even more forgettable. It’s not just because they have less screen time. It’s because they have even less depth as a result of poor writing. Visual effects and fast paced action are great, but only when they’re accompanied by things like interesting characters and great storytelling.
Ritchie allegedly wanted to make more King Arthur movies, but considering the box office numbers, that doesn’t seem like it’ll happen. Hopefully he’ll go back to making fun action movies with actual charm. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is almost a fun action movie, but it’s not even a little bit charming. In fact, it’s so soulless that it feels like a “just for money” job for everyone involved. Better luck next time.
Downsizing is Alexander Payne’s worst reviewed movie to date. It’s his first movie to score below an 80 on Metacritic since his directorial debut all the way back in 1996. With a track record so consistently excellent, it’s no wonder people are baffled by the fact that his latest movie isn’t a critically acclaimed masterpiece.
After all, this is the guy who brought us Sideways, The Descendants, About Schmidt, and Nebraska. Payne is the type of director who gets Oscar hype for his movies before a poster is even released. Like Paul Thomas Anderson, Martin Scorsese, and Kathryn Bigelow, he’s the type of director associated with quality.
With that in mind, what on Earth went wrong with Downsizing? Aside from Hong Chau’s sublime performance, this is not the movie we have come to expect from the three-time Academy Award nominated director. Yes, there are countless interesting ideas, but none of them live up to the promise. Perhaps this is because these interesting ideas aren’t suited for a full-length movie. Downsizing is a whopping 135 minutes, but there isn’t enough plot to keep viewers interested for that long. It’s ironic that a movie about shrinking things should have been significantly shorter.
As a short film, Downsizing could have been excellent, but it doesn’t work as a feature-length narrative. Sure, it has some funny dialogue and a top-notch cast, but it all feels like a chore to sit through. What initially seemed like a possible Oscar contender now seems like an inevitable box office disaster thanks to mediocre reviews from critics and an even less positive response from moviegoers. Payne is unbelievably talented, so he’ll surely bounce back, but his filmography will forever have this unfortunate misfire.
I think it’s finally time to accept the fact that the Coen brothers need to direct any movie they write. Whenever their script gets handed off to someone else, the movie almost always collapses. Bridge of Spies is an exception to this rule, but otherwise the Coens need to direct their movies. That hasn’t been more obvious than with the release of Suburbicon.
Written by the Coen brothers and directed by George Clooney, Suburbicon is a disastrous attempt at satire that’s neither funny nor intelligent. Considering the talent involved, Suburbicon should be brilliant, but it’s the antithesis of brilliant. It’s honestly one of the worst movies of the year.
Clooney has a relatively strong track record when it comes to directing. Good Night and Good Luck, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, and The Ides of March were all excellent. Suburbicon, on the other hand, is anything but excellent. The incomprehensible narrative combined with half-assed attempts at humor result in one of the most painful cinematic experiences of 2017. The trailers may have looked promising, but it’s hard to find a single redeeming feature in the finished product. This shoddy attempt at filmmaking is embarrassing for everyone involved.
It’s not like the cast and crew won’t bounce back. If Clooney can make a comeback from Batman & Robin, his career is invulnerable. Still, it’s a shame that so much talent came together to create such a bad movie. Suburbicon goes beyond just being a disappointment. It’s far worse.
1. Justice League
Okay, maybe the response to Justice League isn’t as surprising as the response to some of these other movies, but it still manages to sting the most. Though DCEU has helped prepare viewers for these types of reviews, the success of Wonder Woman and the involvement of Joss Whedon made Justice League sound fairly promising.
There was always the possibility that it would fall flat on its face like Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad, but it was easy to hold onto hope and assume DC would learn from its past mistakes. After all, Wonder Woman was able to prove the haters wrong by delivering one of the most pleasant superhero experiences of the year.
First, let’s start off with the good news: Justice League is not as bad as Suicide Squad or Batman v Superman. The cast has chemistry, the plot makes sense, and the film doesn’t seem like it was butchered during the editing process. Unfortunately, that’s where the good news ends. Justice League is a formulaic mess with obvious tonal inconsistencies and one of the worst villains to ever show up in a comic book movie.
One of the film’s biggest issues is that it does nothing to separate itself from the competition. One could argue that all Marvel movies are the same, but at least they have strong writing to help them overcome that unfortunate weakness. The writing in Justice League isn’t good enough to distract viewers from the fact that this is the same superhero movie they’ve seen time and time again. This only difference is that this time around, it has the disadvantage of featuring one of the most underdeveloped villains in recent memory.
It doesn’t help that the movie can’t decide whether it wants to be brooding or lighthearted. The clashing tones seemed inevitable when it was announced Joss Whedon was jumping on board, but many people prayed the studio would find a way to make the movie seem like the product of one director. It doesn’t. Part of the movie is Snyder’s vision and part of it is Whedon’s. Neither of these parts come together to form a cohesive movie.
It’s a shame because Justice League occasionally shows some sort of promise. The chemistry between the cast is delightful, for example. It’s just a shame that the bad far outweighs the good. Ezra Miller may be funny, but he’s not funny enough to make up for the myriad of problems. DC has a lot of work to do to gain trust back after letting people down time after time. The future of the extended universe should be interesting.
Author Bio: Justin is a paraprofessional teaching assistant and full-time film enthusiast with a degree in English. When he’s not writing about films, he’s probably watching them in his spare time.