My 3 Least Favorite Films of 2017
After many trips to the movie theaters of San Francisco, countless bowls of popcorn and too many face palms to count, I have finally decided on my three least favorite films of 2017. And the rankings were pretty unanimous among Steven and me.
Before we get into the list, here is a little bit about Steven and my taste in film and what will probably inform why we feel the way we do about the following films:
Steven's favorite films are the ones that move and influence the film industry. He loves Spielberg classics such as Jaws and Jurassic Park and the way they form what it means to be a blockbuster hit, and adores the complexity of The Shining and the excitement of the first two Godfather films. He's also a huge Star Wars buff with an appreciation for fantasy and sci-fi.
My favorite films are the ones where you get to know the characters extremely well. I love films about relationships such as The Sound of Music, Titanic and Dirty Dancing, movies that give me hope like The Shawshank Redemption, and performances like Elizabeth Taylor in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Real people and real experiences interest me greatly. And I don't mind when a real life experience is embedded into fantasy and folklore. As long as it's fully fleshed out.
And don't worry, I may seem like a Negative Nancy once you're done reading this, but soon I'll be posting my Top 3 Films of 2017, and you'll get to see which films Steven and I found to be quality!
All films we saw in 2017
(In alphabetical order)
#3 - Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2
Before seeing this film, Steven and I had very different opinions about the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. He loved the first movie, and it's something he keeps on his computer to watch during long plane rides. I however didn't understand what the hype was all about, which the entire world poo-poo'd me for. But luckily for us, we were able to put our differences about the first film aside, and come together to conclude that his sequel was dreadful.
With a whopping 2 hour and 18 minute runtime, it told a story that I probably only required those 18 minutes. Everything you liked from the first film was present, just in a half-assed way. The story and villain were boring and cliche...I mean, finding out your father is not who you thought? Wow, this is only the 95th time we've seen that plot twist. Zoe Saldana's character continues to be the one-note boring and negative character she was from the last film, except this time she has a one-note sister who is also boring and negative, just with more aggression. Your beloved Chris Pratt and raccoon characters (can you tell I really care about this franchise?) are spouting lines that simply weren't good enough for the first film, and finally Groot spends the entire movie as a baby plant who shows up to attempt to manipulate us into thinking we're watching a decent movie. But alas, if you are like me and you don't find CG baby tree faces or someone repeating their name Pokemon-style in order to communicate cute, you will just be wishing you had a fast forward button every moment he's on screen.
This is the only movie this year that forced me to have to go to the restroom in the middle of seeing it, to give myself a pep talk that I could get through it. (The last time I had to do that was when I saw Silence in 2016.) Yet all in all, there were still two movies that somehow offended me more.
#2 - Beauty and the Beast
Pow, right in the childhood! I was able to look the other way when Disney put out live-action versions of Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, and Maleficent's backstory, but when I found out they were going to remake Beauty and the Beast and use Alan Menken's music, I immediately got upset, but knew I had to see it. The thing is, many of these Disney movies are based off of existing fairytales and fables, so if they wanted to do yet another rehashing of a classic story, they could be my guest - no pun intended. But when you decide to use the original music created for the 1996 animated film, include its original characters and use the their likeness (Belle's classic dresses, The Beast's suit, Gaston's red jacket,) you are telling me that you are attempting to recreate the movie we know and love. And all of a sudden, my standards for you shoot right up and a greater likelihood of disappointment is immediately created. It's no wonder this was such a highly anticipated and one of the highest grossing and most talked about movies of 2017, unlike the other Disney live-action remakes. You are messing with not only the story of La Belle et la Bête, but you are messing with the version the whole country already loves and agrees was done perfectly the first time.
I am actually not sure where to start on how bad this movie is. Every little detail and element was done so poorly to create the uniquely disappointing and embarrassing mess that was this film. So I'll quickly list the differences between the original and this film. With every element being a huge downgrade, it confirmed my opinion that this movie did not need to be made at all.
Remember the artful and concise way that Disney told us the Beast's backstory using stained glass? Well now that's been unwantedly fleshed out into a 15 minute scene that I wish I had been late enough to miss completely. Remember the beautiful Broadway-quality vocal stylings of Paige O'Hara as Belle? Well now, we have auto-tuned Hermoine here to deafen you. Remember how we didn't know how Belle's mother passed away because it wasn't important to the plot? Well now we have 30 minutes of life-wasting discussion leading up to the conclusion that it was the plague! Remember how animated and fantastic the Gaston song was with the limitlessness of 2D animation? Now we have Olaf being held up by strings to prove Gaston's strength. Remember how Maurice was a crazy old man who built contraptions that could kill people, making it understandable that no one would believe him when he claims he saw a beast? Well now he's a highly intelligent craftsman who people still don't believe because...the storyline said so? And remember how fantastic the dance sequence was with Belle's unforgettable golden gown swishing around the brightly lit ballroom? Well now we have a poorly lit ballroom that Belle dances around in, while covered in yellow party napkins. With choreography that would make Ryan Gosling in La La Land look like Donald O'Connor. And remember how adorable Chip was? Well, now he's disturbingly flat like the rest of this film!
I could go on and on. The bottom line was this movie did not need to be made, it did not enhance the story of Beauty and the Beast at all, but instead gave us lame versions of the elements we loved in the original, and it did nothing progressive at the end of the day.
Wasn't that what people were looking forward to about this movie? A nod to the LGBT community and feminism? In my opinion, the film could have done a lot more, considering it boasted its progressiveness in media coverage. What did we get? A man cross-dressing with the intention of the audience laughing at it, two men dancing with each other for 2 seconds, and someone saying women shouldn't be allowed to read...which never gets confronted or resolved… Where is the progressiveness? The mix of black and white people in the film? Try again. Disney's Roger's and Hammerstein's Cinderella movie starring Brandy and Whitney Houston already did that, and gave the characters of color huge and influential roles, unlike this movie. The only impact I feel like a black character was allowed to have in this movie was Audra McDonald giving us the only Broadway-quality vocal performance...that is, when her character wasn't written into unconsciousness. I think if you're going make a movie that is forward-thinking or progressive, go all-in, or don't make promises. Which brings me to my least favorite movie of 2017!
If you want to hear Steven's in-depth opinion on Beauty and the Beast, see his Sci-Fi Guys review here. It's hilarious for anyone else who had their childhood stomped on by this film.
#1 - Wonder Woman
I feel like it's a death wish to one's social life to talk poorly about Wonder Woman. But I don't believe we have to agree on all of the same movies in order to all be forward-thinking people. You are entitled to your opinion if you believe Wonder Woman had a positive effect on feminism or on you; and that means I am entitled to my opinion that it did not. And this review is simply an explanation of why I felt the way I did, and is not necessarily intended to influence others. There is a huge reason behind why this movie was my least favorite this year.
But before we get to the root of what made this movie a huge failure in my opinion, let's get some of the technicalities out of the way. Gal Gadot, while stunning and good at giving dramatic stares, gave a wooden performance as Diana aka Wonder Woman. Although who could blame her with the awful script she was given? Also, considering that Diana has claimed to have read hundreds of books on humans, you would think she'd learn what ice cream was or what dancing looked like. And after learning every language, you'd think she'd be able to communicate with WWI Germans in their own language. Also good thing Diana's shield and wrist cuffs are magnets to bullets or she would have been dead by the time the alley fight scene happened. And with a $150 million budget, you'd think this movie would take the time to do write at least one fight scene that didn't involve a spinning kick, take two minutes to explain more about Diana's powers, and properly design the CGI faces on people during said fight scenes, so that they don't look like extras in a video game. But I digress.
Just like Beauty and the Beast, I don't think it was at all the progressive groundbreaking film for female empowerment that the media made it out to be. I feel that it took advantage of the political climate and tried to market itself as a film about female empowerment without actually giving the audience what it deserved. And even with the progressive elements aside, I don't think it was a strong film at all. While it didn't ruin my childhood like Beauty and the Beast, and didn't bore quite as much as Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2 (although it came close at times,) I have to consider it the worst movie of 2017 because despite the fact that its intentions were disingenuous and its storyline was weak, it still tried to act like it was the greatest superhero movie ever, with this huge impact on feminism. And that undeserved recognition the media tried to give it, made it even less bearable than the 2 hours and 21 minutes of torture I endured while watching it.
There are many movies about female empowerment that I grew up with and loved for many years such as Ever After, Legally Blonde and Mulan. In Ever After, Danielle the commoner Cinderella character is in the end recognized for her intelligence and character by the prince when given a chance with him, disguised as a countess. In Legally Blonde, Elle is at first convinced that she's only as good as the man in her life, and learns how great she can be all on her own. And in Mulan, she makes sacrifices for those she loves and "fights like a man" to protect her family. These movies gave me a warm feeling and a confidence boost as a woman and as an individual in general. But I did not at all get any feeling of the sort from Wonder Woman.
While the messages of those three movies are all different, they have one thing in common. Our female leads have to prove themselves either to the people around them or to themselves. They're all either faced with a world that doesn't respect them because of how they appear (as a commoner, a peppy blonde, a female soldier) but despite the challenges, they let their voices be heard and don't back down from conflict, causing things to turn around for them. An important lesson for women of all ages. But this message was completely lost in Wonder Woman, because Diana never has to deal with the struggle of proving herself in a society that doesn't want to hear from her within the movie. True, she was born in a society like that, always in the shadow of the female leaders around her and not respected by her peers. But instead of dealing with it sufficiently, she leaves to go find her own adventure. Which would be a great lesson that sometimes you have to go where people will appreciate you...if it weren't for the fact that she so easily charms and influences everyone around her when she gets to London and meets her team. She gains so much attention and admiration from the people around her because of how much she naturally stands out. She's ridiculously beautiful and has superpowers. They accept her and listen to her because she's not of their world and not necessarily because they respect her as a woman or individual. There's nothing progressive about that. Do you think anyone in that universe was respectful to the plus-sized secretary who helps dress her? No, because she's not exotic and model-esque, nor a literal god with the power to stop World War I. But the movie glosses over that. As long as Diana has respect they can move the plot along, right?
And the entire concept behind her boyfriend Steve was such a huge mistake in my opinion. I think it would have really showed how strong Diana was if she met a guy who was cocky or didn't initially believe in her, and changed his mind by challenging him in a compelling way. Instead, the character of Steve makes a field mouse seem mighty, making it not so impressive when Diana wins him over and ends up calling the shots. And now that he’s dead, there will be no one to challenge her on a personal level on the daily. But I guess that's ok because she's perfect anyway and there's no room for growth...
What does this story tell little girls: Make sure you're beautiful and extremely powerful before expecting respect. And if you can't gain the respect of people around you, it's better to a big fish in a little pond (an Amazonian fighter among common humans) than a little fish in a big pond (An Amazonian fighter among more experienced Amazonian fighters.) I don't want the success of this movie to tell movie makers of these mainstream blockbusters that what they've done is good enough. Because at the end of the day, while it's great that the director and star are female, this is a big budget movie and will still mostly be benefitting industry and investment giants...who are mostly old white men. And if they feel as though they can make a buck off of the female empowerment movement of 2016/2017, they will do whatever they believe will make people happy. So we should always be expecting more from them and not patting them on the back for "throwing us a bone."
This movie's tone sounds more like it's trying to spread a message that women can do anything to the big guys in charge (by showing a woman being able to defeat everything in her path, with the men hopelessly sitting back) rather than telling women themselves that they're capable of what they set their minds to (which they could have done by showing the female protagonist truly deal with adversity head on like characters like Elle Woods or Mulan do.) Because we shouldn't be making movies in order to make a point to the Harvey Weinstein's of the world or any sort of elitist. They've already decided how they're going to see the rest of us. The battles with those people are going to be better influenced by making changes in law and the politics of certain industries. But films are for the people. And superhero movies are for children and families. The message we create should not be trying to influence the big guy. They should be made to give the little guy confidence. Or in this case, the little girl. Wonder Woman should have been more focused on sending a message to little girls (or anyone for that matter who has or will deal with adversity) that they deserve to be heard and that what they are capable of should be honed and given a chance.
And that's why Wonder Woman was the worst movie we saw this past year. It made such huge claims that it was going to be a step in the right direction while in my opinion, going nowhere. It made me yearn for a better movie for women and young girls. And I hope we do get that movie someday. Maybe in 2018.
And those were my 3 least favorite films of 2017
What did they all have in common? They were all big blockbusters with huge budgets that took more than two hours to tell me a story while teaching me barely anything about the characters at hand. What were your least favorite movies this past year? Be sure to check out my Top 3 Favorite Films of 2017 and give me a like on Facebook to follow my posts.