Is this the worst film of the summer?

Some peo­ple judge a film year by its block­buster cover. So here are the worst of the summer sea­son

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - COVER STORY - DON­ALD CLARKE

Since the late 1970s, when Jaws and Star Wars changed every­thing, the Amer­i­can summer has been de­fined by a “block­buster”. The word orig­i­nally meant any film that makes a lot of money. Fifty years ago, The Grad­u­ate was de­scribed in those terms. Now, we mean a big, ex­pen­sive film aimed at those seek­ing brash sen­sa­tion. A movie can lose a for­tune and still be so de­fined. (We’re talk­ing about you, As­sas­sin’s Creed.)

For many, those films come to de­fine the cin­e­matic year. Twelve months ago, af­ter Bat­man Vs Su­per­man, In­de­pen­dence Day: Resur­gence and War­craft, we were as­sured that it was the worst year ever for cin­ema. Away from the mega-dross, it was, in fact, a fine 12 months.

If we do use the summer sea­son as a mea­sure, then 2017 looks to be a vast im­prove­ment. Spi­der-Man: Home­com­ing was a de­light. Won­der Woman was pretty good. Dunkirk just about jus­ti­fied its hype. War for the Planet of the Apes had style and in­tel­li­gence. Tak­ings were down on the pre­vi­ous summer, but cash is rarely any great mea­sure of qual­ity.

Let’s get to the meat. What made us re­ally want to poke out our own eyes lest we ever see any­thing so aw­ful again? We don’t re­ally in­clude The Emoji Movie in this. For some rea­son, an­i­mated movies don’t feel like full-on block­busters. The hope­less pur­suit com­edy Snatched, star­ring Goldie Hawn and Amy Schumer, doesn’t re­ally fit into the cat­e­gory ei­ther.

Alien: Covenant wasn’t so much aw­ful as re­lent­lessly ho-hum. It says some­thing about ex­pec­ta­tions when so many pun­ters – this one in­cluded – ex­pressed re­gret that the pic­ture wasn’t a shame­less re­tread of the first episode in the se­ries.

Too many crit­ics were baf­flingly tol­er­ant of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol­ume 2. There was some­thing of Bar­barella in Guardians 2, but we need look to Luc Bes­son’s Va­le­rian and the City of a Thou­sand Plan­ets for the most ex­haust­ing re­tread of that camp clas­sic. Bes­son’s film was far too con­vinced of its own ir­rev­er­ence to bother of­fer­ing any­thing like char­ac­ter or co­her­ent plot. We will see no se­quels.

Some would nom­i­nate Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Le­gend of the Sword for the ti­tle, but we were rel­a­tively for­giv­ing of its folly. If noth­ing else, it proved to be a bet­ter As­sas­sin’s Creed film than As­sas­sin’s Creed. Also it fea­tures the line: “I need you to go to Lon­dinium and get the lads.” Ab­solved!

It comes down to an ig­no­min­ious battle be­tween two im­pres­sively un­de­serv­ing com­bat­ants: The Mummy and Trans­form­ers: The Last Knight.

The Mummy is that rare ex­am­ple of a bad idea ex­e­cuted even more badly than ini­tially seemed pos­si­ble. The ex­ec­u­tive who thought we needed to re-imag­ine Uni­ver­sal’s clas­sic horror films as ac­tion ex­trav­a­gan­zas de­serves the cor­ner of hell to which he has been ex­iled.

Tom Cruise man­aged to turn the thing into a Tom Cruise film: plenty of run­ning and smirk­ing. Rus­sell Crowe was in­suf­fer­able as a yel­low-pack Dr Jekyll. The so-called Dark Uni­verse has now man­aged ter­mi­nal de­cline be­fore it has even be­gun. Uni­ver­sal’s Wolf­man, Drac­ula Un­told and The Mummy have re­ceived suc­ces­sively worse re­views.

For all that, we can­not deny Michael Bay and the Trans­form­ers their due. Of course, The Last Knight was no more ter­ri­ble than what­ever the pre­vi­ous two were called.

The hor­ri­ble sex­ist jokes di­rected at Laura Had­dock were no more hor­ri­ble than those di­rected at Ni­cola Peltz or Rosie Hunt­ing­ton-White­ley in years past. But The Last Knight is as bad as any­thing we have seen this year.

“No other film se­ries is so shame­lessly wretched on such a grand scale,” I wrote in June. “Few make quite so much money. If they were all washed down the uni­verse’s great­est drain, the stench would re­main for cen­turies.”

Mind you, nei­ther film made much money in their home coun­try. It was up to “over­seas” to de­liver the sums that might just keep those fran­chises go­ing. Keep that in mind the next time you slag off the US elec­torate for giv­ing us Trump.

Trans­form­ers: The Last Knight: can­not be de­nied its due at the bot­tom of the pile

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