As most movie bloggers will readily agree, it’s not a lot of fun being in the minority. Whether it’s loving a movie that everyone else hated, or hating a movie that everyone else loved, nobody likes to be the odd man out. However, it’s a position we’ve all found ourselves in at one time or another, and I got my turn this past week when I went to bat for “The Lone Ranger.” Critics really, really hated this one, but I have to confess that I had a blast, and I’ll proudly continue to defend it. 😉
I thought it might be fun to take a look at some of the other movies that have been criticized by reviewers or fans throughout the years that I secretly really enjoyed. I’d also love to hear some of your favorite movies that were poorly reviewed (come on, you know you have some!)
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End (2006 and 2007)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 54 percent and 44 percent
The first “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie was a critical and commercial success, and almost everyone seemed to enjoy Gore Verbinski’s swashbuckling pirate adventure, featuring Johnny Depp in a now iconic turn as eccentric pirate captain Jack Sparrow. However, the next two sequels, “Dead Man’s Chest” and “At World’s End,” were met with progressively less critical success. While the Rob Marshall directed “Pirates 4: On Stranger Tides” is a whole different discussion, I’m a fan of all three of Verbinski’s “Pirates” films, for different reasons.
No one has ever accused Verbinski of trying to pack too few plotlines into a given film, and one could make the case his “Pirates” sequels were perhaps stuffed with too much content. But both “Dead Man’s Chest” and “At World’s End” feature fantastic action set pieces, a Kraken attack and a crazy maelstrom battle, respectively. He manages to up the ante with each film, which isn’t easy to do with big-budget blockbuster sequels. I also respect the fact these films really do try to do something unexpected. I didn’t see Elizabeth Swann’s betrayal of Jack Sparrow coming in “Dead Man’s Chest,” though we can debate whether or not the character deserved it. I also remember being shocked by Will Turner’s “death” in “At World’s End,” which broke my teenage heart and caused me to temporarily vow that I would never watch another Disney movie again (yes, I’ll admit that back in high school, I had a huge crush on Orlando Bloom). 😉 However, now I can appreciate how film makers were trying to take the movie in a less conventional direction. The first “Pirates” film is still the best, but I think taken together, the first three films are a satisfying trilogy for fans.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 39 percent
This is actually the only film I own that is directed by Michael Bay, a director often criticized for neglecting his characters in favor of special effects. I’m not going to advocate “Armageddon” is a great film from a technical standpoint. The caliber of the actors — Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Steve Buscemi, and others — is definitely higher than the caliber of the script. But this movie does offer plenty of cheesy, gung-ho fun, as well as some genuinely nail-biting moments. Out of all the Michael Bay movies I’ve seen, this one comes the closest to giving us characters we can empathize with and actually come to care about. Also interesting is the fact a young J.J. Abrams — who went on to direct the “Star Trek” reboot — is listed in the credits as one of the film’s writers.
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 34 percent
Like “Armageddon,” I’m not going to argue that this is a great film. It’s cheesy and campy, and the special effects and acting aren’t quite up to the level of other recent blockbusters. However, I was a big fan of the 1980s “G.I. Joe” cartoon as a kid, and at least for me, this movie captures some of the same spirit. It doesn’t try to be deep or profound, and that’s OK. The movie embraces its sense of goofy fun, and I was glad to go along for the ride. It also serves as one of the first big films for two current rising stars, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Channing Tatum.
Quantum of Solace (2008)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 64 percent
This Bond film just barely earned a “fresh” rating from both critics and audiences on Rotten Tomatoes. While 64 percent is a respectable enough score, it’s a significant drop from the almost perfect score of “Casino Royale,” 95 percent. “Casino Royale” has been praised as one of the best Bond films ever made, and it’s one of my all-time favorite movies, period. Daniel Craig surprised skeptics and made a compelling case for why he may be the best actor who’s taken on the role of James Bond.
I will be honest: “Quantum of Solace” does not rise to the heights of “Casino Royale” or the most recent Bond film, “Skyfall.” However, it does have some good action sequences, and it serves as the bridge film makers needed between “Casino Royale” and “Skyfall.” It wraps up the loose ends left at the end of “Casino Royale,” primarily the fallout from Bond girl Vesper Lynd’s death, and gives film makers a clean slate to work with in “Skyfall.” “Quantum of Solace” may be my least favorite of Craig’s Bond films, but it’s still an enjoyable movie.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 78 percent
I was surprised to find this one was certified fresh by critics, especially since it scored a “rotten” rating from audiences. The movie is, admittedly, the weak link in the “Indiana Jones” franchise, and the extraterrestrial elements of the story don’t quite work in the film, or fit in well with the tone of the other three movies. I also don’t think Shia LaBeouf was the right choice for the role of Indiana Jones’ son.
However, as a nostalgic trip, I did have fun with this one. I was too young to see any of the “Indiana Jones” movies in theaters, and so I was excited to see this one on the big screen. It’s nice to see Karen Allen return to the role of Marion Ravenwood, the best of Indy’s love interests in the original films. Similar to “Quantum of Solace,” it’s my least favorite of the “Indiana Jones” films. It doesn’t leave as strong an impression as “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” but this sequel certainly could have turned out much, much worse.
So, what are your favorite movies that have been criticized by reviewers or audiences? What films should be given a second chance by viewers?