The 5 Worst Sci-Fi Movies of 2017
If you thought this year couldn't get much worse, you were so very wrong.
From disappointing new entries in long-running franchises, to baffling film adaptations of beloved books, saying 2017 was a crapshoot for sci-fi movies is putting it lightly.
Here's our picks for the five worst sci-fi movies of 2017.
5) Alien: Covenant
The one thing Ridley Scott promised fans was that Alien: Covenant would not be a repeat of Prometheus, which struggled between being a philosophical meditation on the origin of man and the horror movie Alien fans had been waiting for. But guess what, Alien Covenant was all of that, The Sequel.
The movie has some legitimately horrifying moments (the introduction of the backburster is the highlight of the film), but the second half of the movie turns off all of the tension like a light switch and switches to Michael Fassbender's musings on (guess what?) philosophy and the origins of man! Like Prometheus, Alien: Covenant leaves major questions about its worldbuilding unanswered and fails to make its poorly executed Ripley stand-in badass, interesting, or even important to the plot.
Valerian was a heart-stoppingly beautiful, wildly imaginative mess. The main characters were alternately flat as cardboard and annoying as defective smoke alarms, but the world around them is intensely colorful and comically weird. It goes beyond jingling shiny keys in front of an audience, too—some of the vistas and sequences in Alpha have sparks of real wonder in them, even if they're no more substantial than a dream sequence.
Still, the general feeling of watching Valerian is a mix of bewilderment and incredulous laughter at how spectacularly bad it is at telling a story or building a character. It was the only non-comedic movie I've ever attended where raucous laughter dominated the theater, along with cries of "What the fuck?"
3) The Dark Tower
As far as fictional universes go, Stephen King's Dark Tower mythos is pretty haphazard: it turns out that there's an incredibly complex reel of cosmic lore lurking behind King's horror novels, and at the center of it all is a supernatural tower that holds together everything. From there, you have a cowboy, a villain called "the Man in Black," and a young boy who's caught in the middle.
The film adaptation was at once boring, confusing, and poorly plotted. The movie's behind-the-scenes production troubles are on full display between the missing scenes, weird pacing, and badly executed special effects. It's not a movie that's fun to hate on—it's just a mess.
2) Transformers: Last Knight
At this point, the Transformers franchise isn't so much a series of movies as a CGI department that has morphed into a hivemind bent on its own survival. To this end, it continues to put out Transformers movies with only a rough grasp on storytelling.
The most damning evidence of this theory may come from Anthony Hopkins, who said: "You're not going to ask me to explain the plot are you? Because it's so very complicated and there's the whole mythology of four previous films that come into play. I have to admit, I don't quite get all of it…All I know is I play a highly educated, eccentric English lord…I showed up, put my costume on, said my lines and stayed out of trouble."
When your actors are offhandedly admitting that they're just punching the clock on your garbled mess of a movie, you have just about hit rock bottom.
1) Ghost in the Shell
Before 2017's Ghost in the Shell, I had never walked out of a movie theater before. I went into it with cautious optimism for its cyberpunk aesthetic and walked out of it with a new respect for how badly you can write a protagonist. The sheer superficiality of the Major's character in the movie borders on a second-rate Mass Effect NPC—hell, even the robotic companions in Mass Effect had more interesting struggles and personalities than her.
I'm not going to pretend the original Ghost in the Shell movie was a coherent, well-constructed story, but its imaginative cyberpunk world and weird, avant-garde style made it interesting to watch.
The 2017 adaptation was both painfully by-the-numbers ("I have to figure out who I am!") and bewildering ("I'm going to follow this cyber-terrorist into a hole, then show up on a boat in the bay with no explanation or mention of what I learned from him!"). By the final act, I realized that there was no reason to keep watching to the end, so I left.
And that's about as bad as a movie can be.