WASHINGTON, January 5, 2017 – Beginning of the year movie lists are always a dicey predicament. It’s easy to list off a bunch of movies that will be coming out this year. But as awards season has taught us year after year, we shouldn’t expect the cream of the crop until we get to the end of the year. So what do we do until then?
We’ve put together a list of movies that will definitely be a great time at the theaters; either because they turn out to be wonderful films, or because they’re so bad that you can’t help but enjoy them.
So without further ado, we present, The Best or Worst Movies of 2017.
XXX: Return of Xander Cage (Paramount, January 20)
Possible Upside: In the sequel to the 2002 film that pulled down a whopping 48% on Rotten Tomatoes, Xander Cage will be racing against Xiang (Donnie Yen) to get his hands on a super weapon called Pandora. This has all the makings of something bad enough to be wonderful.
Possible Downside: The best this film can hope fore is a train wreck so bad we can’t take our eyes off it. Which means the downside risk is high. It’s a lot easier to make a movie that’s simply bad than it is to make one that revels in it’s shortcomings.
Split (Universal, January 20)
Possible Upside: Shymalan was once hailed as the next Spielberg for his ability to deliver incredible movies. This most recent installment prewired at Fantastic Fest and is currently sitting on a comfortable 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. While it may seem unthinkable, we could be in the midst of Shymalan’s comeback.
Possible Downside: We shouldn’t count our plot-twist chickens too soon. While a story of a man with 24 different personalities who kidnaps 3 women does sound right up Shymalan’s ally, we shouldn’t forget that this is the man who brought us The Happening, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and After Earth. He can disappoint with the best of them.
Logan (20th Century Fox, March 3)
Possible Upside: The film adaptation of the Old Man Logan comic book looks like it will be incredible. From the trailer laden with Johnny Cash vocals, to the black and white set photos on Instagram, to rumors that this will be Hugh Jackman’s last stint in the claws, Fox seems set to put up a real winner this spring with this year’s X-Men installment.
Possible Downside: Never forget all the other X-Men installments that were supposed to be real winners. X3 had all the momentum of the best X-Men movie ever as well as the most famous X-Men story of all time and still manages to be universally disliked. Age of Apocalypse quietly whimpered before dying at the box office. If anybody can botch this movie, the people over at Fox sure can.
Kong: Skull Island (Warner Bros., March 10)
Possible Upside: While many may not realize this film has anything to do with the 2014 hit Godzilla, it is rumored to be the bridge between that movie and the 2019 Godzilla: King of Monsters in which we may get to see the two giant beasts battle for supremacy. Expect a similar movie in terms of tone, excitement, and overall quality.
Possible Downside: Kong is one of many films this year in which relatively new directors will be given the reigns on mega-budget box office projects. Jordan Vogt-Roberts only has one other directorial credit: Kings of Summer which was a Sundance Darling despite only pulling in $1.3M at the box office. Who knows if that experience can translate to directing a $190M movie, but we certainly hope he can make something masterful.
Beauty and the Beast (Disney, March 17)
Possible Upside: Let’s face it, the House of Mouse can do no wrong. Their animated features have been firing on all cylinders lately. The live action original movies, to say nothing of their films branded with Star Wars or Marvel iconography, have been massively successful. And the live action remakes they’ve recently put out have been incredible. Beauty and the Best should be nothing less than another unqualified success.
Possible Downside: Disney has not yet tried their hand at a live-action musical. We’ve heard a bit of Emma Watson signing ‘Something There’ recently on Disney’s twitter, and it was amazing. But will we see all the classic songs in this film? And is that what we want? We certainly hope so, but it remains to be seen how the musical style will work in a live action film.
Power Rangers (Lionsgate, March 24)
Possible Upside: As disappointing as it will be for Nineties babies, this one probably has a small chance for any upside beyond the ‘so bad that it’s good’ category. Director Dean Israelite’s other feature film, Project Almanac, flopped despite a premise that is startlingly similar to the Power Rangers movie. Brian Cranston and Elizabeth Banks will be around to boost it a little bit, but the highest hopes this movie has is to be terrible as an homage to the original material.
Possible Downside: As we’ve said before, being bad enough to be wonderful is a hard landing to stick. This dark, gritty reboot of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is looking to capitalize on nostalgia while also adapting to a new audience in a new world. Turn anyway in Hollywood right now and you’ll see that this is not a formula for success. Hitting the bullseye of “terribly awesome” would be great, but missing that bullseye in any direction will just result in another disappointing reboot.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Marvel, May 5)
Possible Upside: On the other hand, it’s going to be hard to imagine that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is going to be anything other than fantastic. With director James Gunn back at the helm with the entire fleet that made the first movie wonderful. Plus, Baby Groot! Throw in some ’70s classics and a plot that gets audiences excited Infinity War, and this one is a sure success.
Possible Downside: Every Marvel movie presents a risk of the other foot dropping. How long can Marvel make movies that are good, or at the very least not terrible, before one totally drops out from under it. The hype for Guardians 2 is gigantic, especially after a movie that seemed like it would be “too weird” for audiences was a mega-success. Now Guardians 2 has the even heavier lift of being a great sequel as well as not being “too weird”.
Alien: Covenant (20th Century Fox, May 19)
Possible Upside: An Alien sequel!
Possible Downside: An Alien sequel…
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (Disney, May 26)
Possible Upside: A Pirates sequel!
Possible Downside: A Pirates sequel…
Wonder Woman (Warner Bros., June 2)
Possible Upside: DC and Warner Brothers have not done a great job at keeping pace with Marvel when it’s come to the movie side of things. This year we will be getting Marvel movie numbers 15, 16, and 17, while DC will be giving us 4 and 5. But in it’s 4th installment, DC is already doing something Marvel hasn’t. A movie centered on a tough as nails female protagonist. Add onto that the fact that this will be the first DC movie that doesn’t look like it was shot inside a Hot Topic warehouse that didn’t pay the lighting bills, and this one might actually be something great.
Possible Downside: It is still, though, a DC movie. And in Hollywood, past performance is nothing if not indicative of future success. While Zach Snyder, the madman behind some of the biggest DC disappointments, isn’t directing Wonder Woman, he is still involved in the project. It seems like it would be hard for him to work his particular brand of machismo into Wonder Woman, but if he does he will destroy it completely.
The Mummy (Universal, June 9)
Possible Upside: Whether audiences know it or not, we are in the midst of Universal remaking their classic monster movies. 2014’s Dracula Untold wasn’t exactly a hit, but that hasn’t stopped the effort. The second installment in the project, The Mummy, stars Tom Cruise and looks like a it has the potential to be a classic action movie that is actually scary. The best case outcome for this one seems to be somewhere between Mission Impossible and The Conjuring.
Possible Downside: The 1999 remake of The Mummy still holds up as an excellent action/adventure film for the whole family. Which begs the question of why does it need to be remade? Money grabs aside, the classic Universal Monsters were all part of one universe, a trend that’s very popular in Hollywood today. If we expect to see The Mummy occupying the same space as Dracula Untold and an inevitable Warewolf movie, then maybe we need to be ready for something akin to the 23% Dracula pulled down on Rotten Tomatoes.
Transformers: The Last Knight (Paramount, June 23)
Possible Upside: The Transformers movies aren’t great. It’s just the nature of the beast. But with rumors buzzing that this will be the last Transformers movie (believe it when you see it, and not sooner) or at least Michael Bay’s last stint with the franchise, this could have all the celebration of a big finale. And big explosions, awesome set pieces, and exciting characters are what has made any Transformer movie good.
Possible Downside: Each installment in the Transformers has managed to confuse upping the stakes with jumping the shark. That’s how we’ve ended up with more than one movie in which we’re led to believe Megatron is dead, only to have him come back bigger and badder than ever. This time, the steaks will be raised by having Optimus Prime & Co. join the knights of King Arthur’s Court. In short, the franchise is carefully poised for it’s biggest failure yet.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (Marvel, July 7)
Possible Upside: Marvel has developed themselves into a powerhouse by delivering high-quality superhero movies. Unfortunately for fans, they sold most of the movie rights to their most well-known characters in the nineties. They certainly have not let that hold them down as Iron Man, Captain America, and the rest have created a sprawling universe of fun superhero antics.
Possible Downside: Spider-Man movies, on the other hand, have been more hit or miss. Each of the two former incarnations of the Spider-Man franchise have had their high points and their low points. And while it seems Marvwl has the chops to make a great Spider-Man through and through, they could be haunted by Sony’s past mistakes with the character.
War for the Planet of the Apes (20th Century Fox, July 14)
Possible Upside: As far as reboots of classic franchises go, the Planet of the Apes series has been about as consistently good as they get. Both Rise and Dawn were well received by audiences and critics. There’s no reason that War should be any different. If anything, the increased potential for action sequences and dramatic set pieces should make this one the best film in the new franchise.
Possible Downside: Unfortunately, the reboot of the Apes franchise is working towards and endpoint we already know. Eventually, all the characters will be living on the Planet of the Apes, and all this scuffling between humans and apes will be over. The more movies get packed in between the first movie, and the point when Charlton Heston shows up in a space ship from the past, the more it feels like 20th Century Fox is simply delaying the inevitable. If War does not give us a major story beat a la the Statue of Liberty falling into the sea, this will definitely feel like spinning wheels.
The Dark Tower (Sony, July 28)
Possible Upside: Book lovers are amped for the potential of a great cinematic adaptation of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. Staring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, the film has not given anyone reason to fear so far. A sci-fi/fantasy series by Stephen King, starring some of the biggest action stars in the business today. This movie could end up being one of the best movies we get to see all year.
Possible Downside: As any book lover will tell you, the movie is rarely as good. This movie has been hampered by delays ever since 2007. Rewrites, reshoots, directorial changes, and other halts in production certainly do not bode well. Hopefully this is a whole different project than the one that tried to take off 10 years ago. Otherwise, it could feel overproduced, tired, and droll.
Thor: Ragnarock (Marvel, November 3)
Possible Upside: Thor: Ragnarock has all the best parts of a Marvel movie in one place. Thor’s hammer swinging adventure, The Hulk smashing his way through outer space, and the newly minted Doctor Strange helping to solve a cosmic mystery. Pair that with director Taika Waititi, whose fun loving lead could be exactly what has sucked the fun out of previous Thor installments, and this super-heroic buddy cop space movie is just want the doctor ordered.
Possible Downside: On the other hand, no Thor movie has ever really been able to thrill audiences. Cate Blanchett and Jeff Goldblum will be standing in as possible villains- which sounds great until one recalls the Marvel method when it comes to celebrities as bad guys. Hopefully we’ll be able to recognize both the actors under their CGI or makeup or voice modulator. It all rests on the balance of the villain. If they are not interesting or unrecognizable, the movie will suffer for it.
Justice League (Warner Bros., November 17)
Possible Upside: DC fans have few reasons to be hopeful these days. Zach Snyder has done a pretty effective job of running the film franchise into the ground. Warner Brothers has identified this though and has been making moves to try and solve the problem. Geoff Johns and Ben Affleck have both been put into more influential roles in DC Films. And those two have been the biggest sources of positivity in DC recently, so this could be a whole new movie.
Possible Downside: Zach Snyder, however, is still directing Justice League. And good looking trailers aside, we’ve seen what his influence on a film usually leads to. If Justice League flops as much as his last installment, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, it could mean more than just a bad movie. It could mean that Warner Bros. has to seriously reconsider the future of the franchise.
Star Wars: Episode VIII (Disney, December 15)
Possible Upside: Each of the Star Wars movies we’ve had since Disney acquired Lucas Films have been fantastic. The Force Awakens was especially excellent, and the yet untitled Episode VIII will be following up on that film. Expect more Luke Skywalker, more Snoke, more of the Force, and everything else that made Episode VII as much fun as it was.
Possible Downside: Episode VIII also has the unenviable task of having to explain everything that was left unanswered in The Force Awakens. Rey’s family, Snoke’s back story, how Ben Solo became Kylo Ren, and every other story that was left unfinished in the last movie need to be answered in the next movie. And without the same director or writer in place, those questions may be hard to answer in a satisfying way.