2017’s Watchable Flops

I figured I’d write a fun countdown leading up to my best films. These are films that either underperformed at the box office or panned by critics, but films I still thoroughly enjoyed. Here are my top five watchable flops!

5) Justice League – I expected Justice League to flop given the DCEU’s track record. Thanks to Joss Whedon stepping in (though under unfortunate circumstances), Justice League was a fun adventure movie instead of more destruction porn. Also, kudos to Whedon for finally getting Superman right!

4) Colossal – This quirky indie film was sadly overlooked last April. Colossal is part dark comedy and part giant monster movie, focusing on two self-destructive characters (played wonderfully by Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis). That’s all I’ll say without spoiling Colossal.

3) Power Rangers – As a 90’s kid, I had some serious excitement for the new take on Power Rangers. I was pleasantly surprised with the movie’s craftsmanship, the ensemble performances, and the film taking on social issues without pulling too hard on my heart strings. Power Rangers is a lighthearted superhero movie that never takes itself too seriously.

2) Alien: Covenant – I get why some fans loved Alien: Covenant (it was arguably the best Alien film in 30 years) and I get why some fans hated it (what was the tone?). I enjoyed Alien: Covenant specifically because it explored the androids’ mythology, depicting them as gods to the xenomorphs. Perhaps people wouldn’t have been disappointed if the film were titled Android?

1) Logan Lucky – Steven Soderbergh’s directorial return is a blast. Think of Logan Lucky as a satirical version of Ocean’s 11, but in the South. It’s a shame Logan Lucky flopped since it’s one of the funniest heist films and features a great comedic performance from Daniel Craig.

What were your favorite underrated movies of 2017?

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“Alien: Covenant”

There is some optimism in the gory nightmarish prequel “Alien: Covenant.” Since this takes place before “Alien” and has dumber characters, at least I know humanity gets smarter in the future.

SPOILERS FROM HERE ON!

The Covenant is a ship searching for new life. Its crew includes the tough-minded Daniels (Katherine Waterson), wisecracking cowboy Tennesse (Danny McBride), an insecure man of faith Oram (Billy Crudup), and the android synthetic Walter (Michael Fassbender). Along their way to inhabit a new planet, they discover a distress beacon at a closer planet.

Upon arrival, the place appears to be a heaven, but the crew learns it’s more of a hell when they encounter xenomorphs and the “Prometheus” synthetic David (Michael Fassbender).

The great Ridley Scott maintains the philosophical tone of “Prometheus” while paying homage to the original “Alien.” It’s a dark, gory space odyssey with intelligent androids and dimwitted humans. Scott directs each blood splatter and surreal image with beauty.

“Covenant” spends the first two acts exploring darker themes and building each character. We get a platonic friendship between the widowed Daniels and Tennessee, Daniels and Oram clashing over the mission, and Walter learning from everyone.

Fassbender delivers a brilliant dual-performance as Walter and David. Scott directs each of their interactions with long takes and tight frames to depict the androids’ homoerotic bond. David is more villainous than ever and acts as a demonic egomaniac.

The writers brilliantly address a thought on the “Alien” franchise I’ve had: why don’t the xenomorphs and androids interact with each other? We get scenes with the two together and the xenomorphs are indifferent. In one fascinating scene, David communicates with a new alien like its his own child. “You have to show respect,” he says.

Sadly, the horror sequences and characters are underwhelming, save for one terrifying lab scene halfway through. The aliens decapitate, chest burst, spine burst, impale, and rip apart the crew, but since each character thinks splitting up is smart, these sequences are predictable and boring.

The climax could have used a little more work because it feels too easy and convenient; its obvious twist briefly saves the ending due to atmosphere and the casts’ performance. And what’s with James Franco’s obscure cameo? Can we have smarter characters and more James Franco next time?

Grade: B+