There were plenty of disappointments in 2017.
There is little question that 2017 has been a rough year. There is probably something for everyone to be disappointed in and some films just compound that feeling. Whether it be sequels that have left a little something to be desired, indie darlings that just don’t hit their mark, or remakes that don’t add anything to the original, 2017 has disappointments in spades.
It wasn’t just the films that disappointments this year though. There were plenty of other reasons to be upset as well. Perhaps one of the biggest stories of the year was how Hollywood has a systemic problem with the abuse of women. Obviously, the problem hasn’t only existed in 2017, but this is the year Hollywood started to do something about it. This list presents some of the biggest disappointments in film in 2017.
Ghost in the Shell
Ghost in the Shell looked terrible at the very beginning. The big controversy over Scarlett Johannson playing the lead character Motoko Kusanagi was a non-starter since no one showed up for this one anyways. The movie made a lot of sense for Paramount. Luc Bresson’s Lucy was able to succeed with Johannson in the lead and was an unusual science-fiction premise. This time Scarlett Johannson would appear in an adaptation of a world famous Manga/Anime, what could go wrong? Just about everything. The 2017 movie wants to be a live-action version of the groundbreaking Anime movie but misses the point of it entirely. In the Anime feature, Major Motoko Kusanagi is never angry that she is inhabiting an android body, but the film is more interested in gender identity and the creation of a new life form. So not only did they get the casting wrong, but they got so much more wrong about the adaption, that whitewashing doesn’t even begin to cover the problems. As a huge fan of the property, this was a major disappointment.
The Fate of the Furious
After a series of highly entertaining and stupidly fun installments, The Fast & Furious franchise takes a giant step backward. This, the eighth film, is only the second film in the series without series stalwart Paul Walker. Furious 7 was to be his last appearance following his untimely death. Fate of the Furious is seriously missing him. Sure this movie has a humongous cast including Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Luke Evans, and Scott Eastwood but none of these actors replace Walker and perhaps it’s for the best they didn’t even try. Worse is the idea of Vin Diesel going rogue. Yes, Diesel goes to the bad side after he discovers a family he didn’t know he had and now he has to destroy the family that has been beside him all along. A neat drinking game is taking a shot every time they say the word ‘family’. An argument could be made that Fast & Furious has never been concerned about the plot. What about the stunts? They are even more ridiculous than ever, but zombie cars just don’t make an exciting addition. Of course, there is hope they can turn things around because Diesel is probably going to return for at least two more.
Audiences Skipped Professor Marston and the Wonder Women
Perhaps it was the unwieldy name or the Marston family coming out saying the events on film were false. Whatever it was, audiences missed a damn fine film that might even be better than Wonder Woman. The film tells the origin story of the Wonder Woman comic. Professor William Marston (Luke Evans) and his wife (Rebecca Hall) and their love partner (Bella Heathcote) created the comic book to extend their sensibilities. This is a movie that shows the love that can blossom from a polyamorous relationship and how difficult it is to have others accept that lifestyle. It also shows how the three of them used their sexual interests of bondage and female empowerment to mold the most recognizable woman superhero of our day. All three actors put on an amazing performance, but the film just got lost with a terrible title and an unusual romance depicted on screen. It is well worth your time to seek this movie out.
Sideways has always been one of my favorites. Each new film after that including The Descendants and Nebraska had deeply personal performances and stories. No one can go on a winning streak forever apparently because Downsizing really doesn’t have any of that. The premise is extremely interesting as Matt Damon has decided that he will be shrunk to a fraction of his size. This will allow him to take up less of the world’s resources while simultaneously increasing his monetary value to astronomical levels. This works well, but it is only about 10% of the story when it comes to Downsizing. It has so much to say and doesn’t really say any of it particularly well. Given the cast of Damon, Christoph Waltz, Kristen Wiig, and Jason Sudeikis there is no reason this should be so bad. There is a reason to watch the film as Hong Chau puts on an amazingly emotive performance. Too bad it can be interpreted as an incredibly racist portrayal. Far too many issues make Downsizing Payne’s first misstep in thirteen years.
Despite how poor Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad were no one really wanted Justice League to be bad. This was an opportunity to get a mashup of some of the greatest superheroes of all-time in a single movie. Yes, Marvel has their own thing, but Superman and Batman are more iconic than a great deal of Marvel heroes. So how did this come together so poorly? Perhaps the greatest issue is how sliced up it all seems. With bringing Joss Whedon into the mix to finish the film, there are segments that just seem all over the place. The strongest material in the film is the return of Superman, but even that got messed up with CGI mustache removal. The fact that it issues the all-time worst supervillain in a comic book film is icing on the cake. It actually did so poorly that Warner Bros. is even questioning how they might continue to make these films. So even though expectations were low, Justice League never jumps over the lowest of hurdles.
Colossal was one of those films that on paper seemed to be right up my alley. Anne Hathaway plays an alcoholic that happens to summon a giant kaiju to South Korea when she is drunk. Anne Hathaway never plays a character as unlikable as this in her career. She returns to her old town after a breakup with her ex-boyfriend (Dan Stevens) and meets an old classmate (Jason Sudeikis). There is little doubt that the story here is unique, but unique doesn’t always translate into a good movie. Not only is Hathaway unlikeable, just about everyone involved has something about them that is offputting. There is a terrific payoff to the events of the movie, but it is a complete slog to get there. Colossal would’ve worked far better as a short film than what it turned out to be.
The Disney / Fox Deal
What could be bad about Disney getting control of X-Men, Avatar, and The Simpsons? Besides one studio counting for 40% of the box office take of 2017 you mean? Disney has essentially squashed the competition and it seems like the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi on the same day they announce their dominance over the rest of Hollywood is a victory lap. Disney already was in the news for making demands on theater chains that were above and beyond what other studios were doing. Now with even more power, if you aren’t showing a Disney movie according to their demands, you might as well close up shop. We don’t know how Disney is going to handle a studio like Fox Searchlight that has consistently put out challenging adult content. Nevermind that even though Disney puts out a large slate of movies every year, the number of all-time classics could be counted on one hand. They put out movies that don’t take risks but make a lot of money. While that might be enough for some, it will be a big problem for artists/filmmakers wanting to take risks on inventive new movies.
EuropaCorp’s Entire 2017
This was just going to be all about Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, but EuropaCorp had a bad enough year as a company that it is worth mentioning here. Including Valerian, they also released The Circle and Their Finest. There are fans of Valerian and Their Finest, but apparently not enough. EuropaCorp is posting a loss of $83 million dollars and they are trying to raise capital or sell the company. That’s a massive loss. Valerian was a huge gamble that just never paid off. It was an iconic comic book in France, but few Americans had brand recognizability with the property. Add in the weird combination of Dane Dehaan and Cara Delevingne and Valerian was just not going to take off. Speaking about Dane Dehaan, he had a bad 2017, with Cure for Wellness, Valerian and Tulip Fever. Valerian was just never going to take off in America and was far too expensive to turn a profit.
Beauty and The Beast
Beauty and the Beast isn’t a disappointment because it is bad. It’s incredibly watchable and entertaining without doing anything to justify its existence besides money. There are some new songs including Evermore, but everything else added to the story is terrible. Beast is mean because his father was terrible? Belle’s mother died from a sickness? Why do I care about any of this? Nevermind the terrible Beast CGI that Disney decided to go with. Everyone has overlooked that now, but trust me, it looks as weird now as when we first saw it. Another topic of contention is that Dan Stevens and Emma Watson can’t sing to save their lives. The songs they sing are assisted with autotuning. Audiences don’t want to think that parts of their favorite musicals have been dubbed over like West Side Story or Singin’ in the Rain, but it makes for a better experience. Get some people in there that can actually sing. Beauty and the Beast is perfectly satisfactory, but there is little reason to watch it as opposed to just watching the Disney original again.
Rampant Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment in the film industry has been going on for years so it isn’t exactly new, but 2017 is when it all came crashing down. Victims were finally being listened too and entertainment icons from all forms were outed as creeps. The disappointing part of it all is that we learned actors we loved were really gross people. Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., Dustin Hoffman, the list grows daily. It was easily one of the biggest news stories of 2017 and how we view classic films like American Beauty, The Graduate, and others will be challenged for years to come. It’s not disappointing that these men are being punished for their crimes, it is disappointing that these men acted wrongfully and now we have to watch as celebrities are revealed for who they really are. If you are interested in whether or not a show/movie you love has a perpetrator involved you can use the new website Rotten Apples to identify the property in question.