14 March 2009

5 Most Underrated and 5 Most Overrated Movies

No movie can be perfect, no film can be everyone's favorite. No matter which movie you'll think about, you can always find people that either liked it or hated it. So how can a movie be evaluated in such chaotic world? That's right, the opinion of majority. But work of art is never a common opinion, it's never an objective perspective, and with art you can never accept everything that majority says.
So you end up in situation when certain movies that you really hated receive high praises and rated high by majority of people, and other movies, that you really like, become everyone's laughing-stock.

So now I'll try to fix such misjudgments by listing 5 most overrated and 5 most underrated films. Since I can't list them all, I chose movies from recent years only, and I chose popular movies, largely known everywhere, not some obscure films that no one ever saw.
This I will do from my personal subjective opinion, and based on my own perception. The order of the movies is kinda important, and #1 in each category will be the movie that I think was most misjudged.

Most Underrated

# 5. Mr. and Mrs. Smith

The movie was affected by the negative press coverage of personal relationship between Jolie and Pitt, and his divorce from Aniston, so no one really talked about the quality of the movie besides mentioning the chemistry between them. And the chemistry indeed amazing, but so is acting, story, entertainment value and, most of all , the symbolism inside the script.

Under simple action plot with assassinations, car chases and explosions, lies complex and intriguing symbolic relationship between husband and wife, with all their problems displayed in very direct and painful way, only masqueraded under silly action film. Their secret lives as assassins symbolize their infidelity, their mutual cheating, and their eventual collaboration as a team symbolizes their attempt to overcome marriage problems and "fight" the obstacles they encounter.

Very enjoyable and surprisingly smart movie that you can watch again and again, discovering even more details every time.

It has rating of 6.4 on IMDB, 58% freshness and average 6 on Rotten Tomatoes, but it deserves much more than that.

# 4. Constantine

Postmodern and cynical religious tale, with new interpretation of the ways of good and evil. Minor religious preaching of Christian morality is not what's going to ruin this really worthy film.

Reeves gives here great performance as the hero, which is more anti-hero, maybe because such type of the character is most suitable for his acting skills, when gloomy face and erratic body language is what makes him so eminent. Dark humor with cynical approach towards life, backed up with 'I don't give a fuck' attitude makes Reeves very efficient and memorable in this role.
Rachel Weizs is going to win an Oscar for her role in The Constant Gardener that same year, and she is on her top, displaying very vulnerable personality with emotional inner complexity. She is very pretty too.

The cinematic values are also superb. Starting from design and rough feeling of the cinematography, to convincing special effects and capable directing. The movie is great as fantasy/horror, with many surprising and creative moments full of imagination, and beautifully filmed. The script and the dialogs are perfect for this kind of a movie, and even Shia LaBeouf as sidekick has his moments, occasionally stealing the show. Great film and great ending. Reeves is giving Satan himself a finger - classic.

It has 6.7 on IMDB, 45% freshness and 5.5 average rating on RT. Very unfair.

# 3. Sahara

One of most laughable and ridiculed movies in recent years, that its name connected more to different lawsuits and money loss, than to actual film making. This is failure of truly epic proportions, failure that revealed the ugly side of Hollywood, with dirty laundry and bitter accusations between the production companies and the author of the book, which this movie was based on.

Somehow the combination of eccentric McConaughey with the face of Penélope Cruz and African landscapes didn't appeal to the moviegoers too much. And worse of it all were the deadly reviews.

Totally unjustified. I admit it's not very easy to follow the story. Too much complexity, too much side plots and no special magic touch to make this adventure to look exciting. What they needed is a little bit of Spielberg.

But is it really that bad? Definitely no. The movie is very entertaining, filled with humor and live energy. Classic American rock songs of Steppenwolf and Lynyrd Skynyrd are very suitable, the story is really smart and sophisticated, the complexity of the plot is really its strength, and the movie turns out to be very effective on all levels. Something always happens, always an action, always a joke - Steve Zahn in the role of sidekick Al is very funny. The movie is a great adventure, shadowed only by the weakness of emotional involvement of the viewer.

Sahara is one of this movies that can be viewed many times without loosing it's charm. First viewing can be confusing, it's on the second viewing that this movie really shines, showing its rich potential. Very underrated movie with bad publicity. Unfortunately, because the movie is really good.

The movie has 6.0 rating on IMDB, 39% freshness and 5.2 rating on RT.

# 2. Speed Racer

Surprising flop of 2008, that can only be explained by revenge of the nerds, angry at Wachowski brothers for ruining the Matrix experience for them. And although I was considering Matrix Reloaded to this list, eventually I think it kinda deserves it. But Speed Racer is certainly not.

Whether it's geek's vengeance, barely understandable hyper fast action, or even bright and emphasized colors that hurt the eyes, this movie failed with most loud sonic boom. It was absolute disaster in the box office, crushing the studio and forcing Wachowski to go on creative hiatus until the fury is over. It will take them couple of years to recover from it, but I have to say - there was really no reason for that.

Bad publicity made this movie anemic, unclear of what this is all about and first evil reviews with negative buzz didn't help either. I think people just wanted it to fail.

Speed Racer is very entertaining eye candy, very simple movie on the edge of kitsch, and story-wise it's not very complicated at all. Visually it's amazing, creative and the level of imagination is remarkable. Too bad the public wasn't ready for such massive explosion for the eyes and ears, I hope history will judge this film more fairly.

The movie has 6.5 rating on IMDB, 36% freshness and 5 average rating on RT.

# 1. Into The Blue

Burning sun distorts the air, adhesive heat slowly cooking tan bodies intertwined on the white sand, blurred horizon mixing blue skies with incredibly blue ocean, the sense of time is long gone and so all the problems in the world. Freedom...
And look, it's sexy Jessica Alba in bikini swimming under the water, lazy twisting her exposed body with slow motion and down-tempo music on the background. She exists from the cool ocean, still dripping water, stretching her steaming body and posing for the sun.

No, it's not effects of magic mushrooms, it's from this movie. I remember that watching Into The Blue was out of the body experience, I was simply pulled inside of it, floating as invisible ghost above everyone's heads. When the final credits were rolling and I was slowly coming into senses, I wondered - what the hell happened? How was that possible, that such cliche and shallow film had such impact on me? I am not really sure why, but there is something in this film so liberating, so light and so attractive that I just gave up.

Besides Alba, there is also muscular Paul Walker, playing a diving expert with amazing ability to be long time underwater without breathing. His character is a little childish, with unexplainable idealism, dreaming about big success and about finding that hidden way that leads to fulfillment of so real, yet so evasive American dream. As an actor he manages to create true and convincing connection between his character and the ocean, like the ocean is his natural habitat, his safe environment and he truly controls it. Not easy at all, if you ask me, but he pulls it successfully.

The movie is very simple, it's very clear who are the good guys, bad guys or just lost sheep. The story is predictable, the motives and actions are clear, the characters have just enough depth and complexity to make them believable. Still, this film is very good. Maybe because the story is so obvious, everyone just decided to take it easy and create very light film, following used but entertaining formula. The story is very interesting, with correct level of action, suspense, adrenaline, adventure and emotions to get you involved, and involved deep.
The result is very enjoyable and pleasant experience, almost hypnotizing and blurring all senses. Not many movies can do that, although many try. And with this film it happens without big effort, just with open mind and a little attention.

Into The Blue
has rating of 5.7 on IMDB, and 22% freshness with average rating of 4/10 on RT. Trust me, this is completely underrated, this movie can only surprise you.

Most Overrated

# 5. No Country For Old Man

Love Coen brothers, seen all their movies, and not just once. So how is it possible that one of their weakest films received so many prises and appreciation?
More than that, it managed to win 4 Oscars, stealing best picture award from the real masterpiece There Will Be Blood.

And don't get me wrong, Coen team really deserves all the prises in the world, they are outstanding artists. But with No Country For Old Man?
Whatever they tried to say in this film, if anything at all, missed me completely.

This pointless and weak movie has 8.3 rating on IMDB ( #103 right now in top 250 of all times), 94% freshness and 8.5 average rating on RT.

# 4. Sin City

It would've been same movie if the graphic novel was filmed on the camera and narrated by the actors. Truly, this film is for people that too lazy to read.

What can be passable as still pictures not necessarily works on film, especially monologues and narrations. The violence can be effective only when it looks real, otherwise it's just red color on the black background.

This material can't work as solid and well structured movie, and showing cool visual effects is not enough with this kind of storytelling.

8.4 on IMDB (# 91 in top 250), less impressive on RT with 77% freshness and only 7.4 rating. And even that is too much.

# 3. The Dark Knight

Really? Is general opinion, based on absolutely nothing, is more important than actual movie and dictates the rating instead of normal critical analysis? Does usual and established film criticism, evaluating basic cinematic qualities, should be neglected and transformed, instead, into simple popularity contest? Seems like in the case of TDK it is.

Nolan can't direct action for shit, the story that he wrote, probably in one week, reeks of total disrespect for viewers intelligence. Big and impressive production can't hold infantile story with no logic, lousy editing, laughable dialogs and logically implausible events.

Two Ferries scene is the lowest point in this film, among many others. The biggest achievement of TDK is the successful publicity that managed to fool everyone, especially film critics that were forced to write positive reviews just to show they understand the movie and they are not too old for their readers. (At least with Watchman it didn't happen.)

This movie is boring, stupid, and has little creative inspirations, just posturing actors in cool costumes, playing with cool gadgets. And since everything so cool and shiny, people are so blinded that they think this movie is actually any good.
Hordes of fans, that only see movies that displayed on "New Releases" shelf in Blockbuster store, never watching any film dated before year 2000, suddenly dictate how film should be reviewed, brutally crushing any opposition. Anyone with eyes can see that TDK has more problems than prisoners in Arkham, but the power of denial makes them ignore anything like that. The wish of belonging to majority, the chase for common cause, the childish desire to worship pop culture trends, all these overcome logic and reason. This self convincing and selective memory is truly a mass psychology phenomena.

The Dark Knight has 9.0 rating on IMDB and 6th place in top 250, but I remember the time when it had 9.5 and it was holding the 1st place. 94% freshness and 8.5 rating on RT.

# 2. The Prestige

Another Nolan's film, indicating my contempt towards this director. And I would put Batman Begins here as well if it was a bigger list. I really liked Memento, but since that film all Nolan shows is bad writing.
How can this movie be considered as worth watching is beyond me. I don't even want to spend more time to explain my opinion on this hollow garbage.

8.4 on IMDB and # 83 in top 250 (damn fanboys), 75% freshness and 7.1 rating on RT, which is way, way higher than it should be.

# 1. Gladiator

5 Oscars, including Best actor and Best picture, and another 45 awards this terrible movie have won, is what makes it most overrated movie, probably of all times.

Russel Crowe has only two facial expression - one of disgust, the other one of pain. He is walking around, touching with pathos growing millet and making emotional and over the top serious speeches. Pompous music is playing very laud, hiding the complete lack of dramatic substance.
Ridley Scott spent all the money creating sets and decorations without even looking at the script he suppose to direct, the need for spectacular overcomes the need for interesting story, believable characters and rational motives for their actions, something more than just shallow "you killed my family, now prepare to die".

Watching this movie is annoying and embarrassing experience, it is filled with grandiose pathos and mythical heroism, and I can only wonder whether Scott has any sense of humor at all. And what about action, battles and general entertainment value of Gladiator? Despite some mild effort and attempts to make it at least entertaining, the movie fails even in this part. Shaky camera and bad editing create a sense that something big happens, but on the closer look you can't see a thing, just a shiny cover for shallow and unfocused content. Exactly like the entire movie.

8.3 on IMDB, making it #118 in top 250, and 77% freshness with 7 as average rating on RT.


That is all. I don't think I am alone with such opinions, and from the reactions of other people that I see on the mighty web, many think as I do. Feel free to leave me hate comments.


  1. I agree with Sahara and No Country for Old men but I rest I would have to disagree with, especially Gladiator.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Yeah I really like Gladiator i think your wrong

  4. Anyone who directs even the smallest amount of laud to Into the Blue or Sahara, while simultaneously trashing TDK and No Country for Old Men is proof that the democratization of access granted by the internet will ultimately destroy any credibility whatsoever film reviewers have. There is a reason you WILL NEVER EVER EVER EVER in a million years be a legitimate reviewer and you WILL NEVER write or review on a legitimate film site. Please stick to your day job (which I hope has nothing to do with film as you obviously are inept in the category).

  5. I pity you if you you couldn't find anything to loud to in Into the Blue and Sahara. I guess you are very close minded and blindly following popular cultural consensuses, easily conforming under the pressure of society. I know that you are from US, are you republican by any chance?

    Whether I am going to be legitimate reviewer or not - we'll see, I can always pretend to conform like you and only write reviews to suit what everyone else thinks. But at least I have an opinion, I do not rely on film reviews for credibility.

    But you, on the other hand, will never do anything creative, because you have no imagination whatsoever. By denying the progress and pluralization of opinions, you are the worst kind of conservative.

  6. And to the person above, that liked Gladiator:

    I do not pretend I have the absolute opinion, as I explained it in the beginning - what I write is only my subjective perception. If you think I am wrong - that's fine by me, you can never please everyone.

    But let me ask you, how many times have you seen Gladiator and when was the last time? If it's been a while, why don't you watch it again and tell me what you think then. See if you'll have the same impression from re-watching it now.

  7. Just read your blog for the first time.

    Dark Knight was too long, had some lovely violence in it tho and joker was fun to watch do his thing.

    Speed racer lagged during its action scenes which i found neither thrilling nor fun, but the action was well enough motivated, but ultimately too vapid (only watched part of this movie however)

    Though no country was great. There were some ham fisted overtones about human nature, death, and the bleak void that may be the end of life and if you dont want to hear these arguments then perhaps you would think that the movie was about nothing, but it wasn't. I loved watching anton terrorizing. My favorite scene was where anton chocked on the nut in the gas station while he was intimidating the attendant. I thought this was the only human side of anton that we see in the whole movie. Loved the exchange at the end between anton and the kid and how he insists on paying him for the shirt. I thought Tommy lees recollection of the dream about his father was the overall theme of the movie. I think intolerable cruelty is by far the cohens worst movie ever, but then again i haven't watched the ladykillers yet...im scared.
    Sin City sucked, Gladiator sucked.


  8. Once I saw experimental student film, in which all you could see was a colored screen, that slowly changed colors with some music on background. It started with white and then changed, some other colors as geometrical figures were added to it, and so on, until it became black and the film ended. Short film. Everybody at the screening got their own associations from it, by looking at the screen people interpreted it in their own way. Later I asked the guy, who directed it, what was that all about, and he confirmed my initial suspicion that it was suppose to represent the complexity and the stages of human life, from birth to death.
    Not really original subject, and not very imaginative idea, but it was done using conventional and clear concepts. I mean, the change of colors from white (birth) to black (death), with additional color shapes appearing during it - anyone with small experience in arts could at least suspect it. But it was experimental short with nice music and it worked. Take idea, build it with clear concepts, put it in proper frame - all compatible parts together can produce something really worthy and memorable, no matter how cliche it is.

    You think Coen brothers were talking about human nature, death and some frustration from how the world is turning out to be? Sure. Knowing their works - and again, I saw all of their films, most of them many, many times, they had this in mind.
    Did they actually made a point about that? Did they put their thoughts in proper frame and clearly expressed them? I say they didn't. Just mentioning idea doesn't justify total lack of its development, or confusing delivery. So they invented a story, took familiar concepts and just piled them together without making any sense out of it.

    The Man That Wasn't There dealt with such themes in much better way. Whatever they were mumbling and hinted in No Country was not enough for me, it was under my bar. This is why it's pointless, this is why I think you are over analyzing it. Trying to look for things that are not there, trying to interpret images and colored shapes with certain meanings. It is just your own imagination and you see what you want to see.

    Anton was mildly boring for me, and I saw him more as a simple jerk. How is that intimidation of the attendant or blowing up the car just to draw attention from himself got anything to do with anything? Ohh, it was to show how evil his character was, his disregard of human life, that he is outside of moral conventions of civilized society? Bullshit. His character was superficial, artificial and his actions were purely for the sake of sensationalism. This is crude and demagogue writing.
    And of course that same western society, that accepts reality in the way it is broadcasted on the news - with maximum emotions and with a little thinking, praised that film, which BTW was suppose to critique these exact flaws.
    So all of it ended on the stage with bunch of Oscars and many "thanks to the academy", what a hypocrisy...
    No wonder one of brothers, I don't remember who, was not able to say a word during the speech.


    Now, Ladykillers is actually quite good. Much better than Cruelty, but you have to watch it drunk. It is very light, silly and entertaining, but only if you don't take it seriously.

    "Sin City sucked, Gladiator sucked." - Nicely put.

    Speed Racer - the watching experience must be continuous. You cannot disconnect yourself from the film, it's like riding a roller coaster - you don't stop in the middle and then continue later, nor you judge the ride by doing part of it. Get it on blu ray, sit in front of big screen and watch it with good sound. This is a perfect example of audio/video entertainment, a blast to visual and hearing senses, it is the main point of the film. It is also emotional ride, you have to make it from start to finish in one take.

    Anyway, thanks for comment. Cheers.

  9. Hmmmmm your saying im over analyzing no country eh, sounds like you said way more than i did. But ok i will overanalyze now, and ill even do it without saying your opinion is bullshit.

    Anton was 2 dimensional because he wasnt supposed to be a full formed character but instead a personification of the nihilistic world that tommy lee is struggling with. The recounting of the dream near the end is expository and nothing to do with interpretation, and serves as an exclamation point to all the other expository scenes with tommy lee. The dream ends with tommy lee thinking he will end up in a comfortable warm place(by the fire) with a loved one(his dad) but all that is ahead is bleak cold emptiness through which he has to ride alone. Anton keeps on going as expected since he is just a part of the world in this movie. Senselessness and meaninglessness can still have form, and i thought all the forms used in the movie to express their ideas on this matter were consistent and complementary. The scene with the attendant wasn't great because of the intimidating it was great because that is the only time that Anton stops being this 2 dimensional thing and has a human reflex (choking). In the end the title says its all, what is no country for old men? A godless country since when your about to kick the bucket a nice warm heaven populated by mommy and daddy sounds pretty sweet.....hmmm what else......oh yeah.....I once saw a film too.

  10. Yawn... Old people crying and weeping how the world is not what it used to be, looking for consolation in nostalgia.

    I guess the only thing more interesting to do is to insult other people on Internet. Right?

  11. You're entitled to you're opinion, but after this, I'll ignore it.

  12. You mean, you'll ignore my opinion even without thinking about it a little?