The popularity of movies can be driven by many things beside the entertainment value of the movie. Sometimes its the popularity of a star, sometimes it captures a trend at the time and sometimes it befuddles the audience with new technology or a smart marketing campaign. Whilst many movies deserve their acclaim, some movies just plain don’t.
10. The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Whilst no-one went into ‘Rocky Horror’ expecting it to become the crowning glory of the cinematic industry and become the new benchmark for any and all contributions to modern culture, the amount of praise it receives from its fanatical fanbase is completely out of proportion with the quality of the film. Sure it’s a fun little romp with catchy tunes and memorable characters but get a grip, people.
As much as I love Kate Winslet, I still can’t accept this. This romance focused disaster movie reigned supreme as the highest grossing movie of all time for eleven years and snagged a sackful of Oscars. To this day it achieves critical acclaim. The surprise box office success (the movie was anticipated to bomb) can be partly accredited to the media storm focusing on then sex symbol Leonardo DiCaprio. He was the centre of many a teen girls obsession following Romeo + Juliet and this helped drive Titanic ticket sales into unseen levels. Stripped of its reputation the movie is average at best. Overlong and poorly acted, it doesn’t really engage the viewer until the ship starts sinking which is the best part of two hours.
8. Shakespeare in Love
Oscar winning box office gold which is total sludge. Described as many as ‘romantic’, it’s in reality sappy trite that devalues the source material by association. Relying on thinly drawn stereotypes and trivial references to the works of Shakespeare for comedic effect makes for a tedious romcom set among a rose-tinted Victorian England. The biggest crime is the despicable Paltrow being given an Oscar.
Here’s the only defense you will ever hear in regards to this movie: it has giant robots fighting each other, what else do you need? Well since I’m not five and I’m watching a movie I need characters I can invest in and a story that sustains a two and half hour running time. The biggest crime of the movie is that it doesn’t even feature much robot scrapping – it takes almost a full hour for Optimus Prime to turn up and another hour for Megatron to make an appearance. For the remaining running time the cool robots stay in disguise while we’re stuck in the gormless moron Shia Lebeouf, who has been legally declared unlikeable.
6. Field of Dreams
Yeah, this movie is tacky, saccharine snot. Magical baseball pitch is one step up from magical movie ticket.
5. Forrest Gump
The touching story of a bumbling intellectually impaired man who lucks his way through recent history, meeting many famous people and influencing their lives for the better. Director Zemickis unashamedly tugs on the viewers heartstrings amid various racial stereotypes and highly unlikeable characters. Tom Hank’s performance, whilst good, would not have received the accolades it did if he hadn’t been playing a disabled man – compare it to Philidelphia to see that it’s a fairly weak performance for Hanks. That fact that this took Best Picture and Best Director over Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption is a particular gripe for movie fans.
4. Paranormal Activity
You cannot fault the producers of Paranormal Activity for their marketing campaign. The night vision camera footage from the cinemas showing people pretending to be scared, spreading a story about Steven Spielberg being scared by it (I never understood this – was he someone impervious to fear beforehand?)…overall it was a very smart way of drawing in the punters. They couldn’t have shown much of the film in the promotions though, otherwise no-one would’ve seen it. The ‘found footage’ schtick has been playing on repeat since The Blair Witch Project popularised it, and this film doesn’t even do it very well. Unbelievable characters (no job, family, friends, lives…), a cliched plot and an overblown finale should’ve seen this land in the bargin bin, not spawn a franchise.
3. The Sixth Sense
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – this movie hinges on the twist ending. Upon initial release, before word had gotten around that there was a twist, the ending comes right outta left field and knocks you for six. But a good twist is one that reshapes your entire memory of the movie, reveals character motivations not initially apparent and causes you to double guess yourself (see Memento, The Prestige, The Usual Suspects and Fight Club for examples). Like most movies by Shyamalan the ‘twist’ could be lopped off the end of the movie with little to no impact on the rest of the movie. At best you can look back and scenes and note how clever it is that no-one talks to Cole, but aside from that you can watch it without the twist ending and it’s just a bog-standard ghost story relying on startling the viewer with quick edits and a strained atmosphere.
2. Harry Potter (except for the third one)
(Prepares for hate mail.) Many of the Harry Potter movies seemed content to simply rely on the popularity of the book series to draw in the punters rather than elevating themselves above the source material. The books are pretty basic stories and the directors, Columbus in particular, seem content to produce a vanilla translation instead of getting creative with the design. The world created by Rowling is open to radical and imaginative visuals, instead most of the movies in disappointedly plain. Prisoner of Azkaban is the only movie in the series with a unique feel to it, and it stands out as the best of the bunch. When the final film was released, online fans started saying it deserves an Oscar that represents the achievement of the whole series, just like Return of the King. This was confounding to say the least – ‘Lord of the Rings’ was of a consistent high standard, unlike ‘Harry Potter’, and was filmed as one epic production, which had never been accomplished before.
Magical blue creatures, enchanted land, evil douche trying to profit from their destruction, half-baked greenie sentiment…has James Cameron been watching ‘Smurfs’? The way people responded to this movie you’d think they hadn’t seen one before. Whilst it was a visual spectacular, the characters and story were pedestrian. Early drafts of the script indicate that more interesting characters and concepts were initially included but later phased out for a more generic narrative. It’s a shame that the mind blowing technology couldn’t have been showcased in something more engaging.