I’m a big believer in Rotten Tomatoes and I’ve rarely been let down. I like not knowing the score before I see a movie, but most of the time, given I follow them on Instagram, that’s pretty difficult. My general rule is, the score is accurate plus or minus 10%. Given that it takes into account critics and audience, it generally knows what it’s on about, and the critical score is usually something I agree with. Given that the score is accurate (for me) with allowances for 10% either side, I will always go and watch a film if it is rated 60% or over. Doesn’t matter if it doesn’t appeal that much to me, if it’s 60% or over, I’ll watch it – it might be good. (Side-note, my girlfriend has cunningly used this rule against me and forced me into watching Clueless and Love Actually this Christmas holidays.) There are some occasions however, where Rotten Tomatoes, and critics in general, just get it horribly wrong. So, here are two films that I think are criminally underrated, and two films that are criminally overrated (both very recent).
Underrated – The Other Guys – Adam McKay
Yes, this film wasn’t actually hated by critics, it actually has some great reviews, and rightly so. I honestly believe this is one of the best comedies ever made, a bold claim I know, but I do believe it. I first watched this film with my dad around 2010/2011, and I liked it but didn’t love it. Strangely, as I got older and more into film, I actually liked it more and more to the point where it’s probably in my top 25 all time list. I think one of the best aspects a comedy film can have is being quotable, and this is as quotable as it comes. Will Ferrell is at the top of his game, and pairs excellently with Mark Wahlberg. But let’s not forget the sheer number of comedic superstars in this film. Michael Keaton, Steve Coogan, Eva Mendes, Samuel L Jackson, Dwayne Johnson, Rob Riggle, Damon Wayans and Zach Woods, the names are incredible, and they are all on form. Michael Keaton is my personal favourite, as the part-time captain/bathroom salesman, and director Adam McKay makes a hilarious cameo in this fantastic work of action-comedy.
Actual Rotten Tomatoes Score: 78%
Deserved Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91% (Superbad is 88%…)
Best Scene: Funeral fight
Best Character: Terry
Best Actor/Actress: Michael Keaton
Best Quote: “Yo Bilbo Baggins, where ya shoes?” – Fosse
Overrated – Once Upon a Time In Hollywood – Quentin Tarantino
I’m a brave man criticising a Tarantino film but here we go. Anyone who read my favourite films of the last year probably expected this to be in there. Before I went to see it, I expected it to be in there. I can’t say I have the undying love for Tarantino that many of my friends and fellow film students do, but I like a few of his films, and I love a few of his films. Django Unchained and Inglorious Basterds are definitely my two favourites, and Pulp Fiction (which definitely could have been on this list instead of OUATIH) and Resevoir Dogs are definitely good. The others are fine, but what puzzles me is why Tarantino is held up so greatly over everyone else. Don’t get me wrong, the man is an encyclopedia of film, and I would give anything to have a 10 minute conversation with him, and so this is just my opinion about his work. He’s made 9 films (including Kill Bill as one). Two are great, two are good, two are okay, and three are just bad. Death Proof, The Hateful Eight and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood just were not enjoyable at all to me. I would hypothesise, if they were not directed by Tarantino, and so came with his reputation, no one would like them. Let’s look at Once Upon a Time. I actually loved most aspects of this film, weirdly. It’s beautifully shot, the acting is super, it’s got humour, the music is wonderful and the film in general does a great job of transporting you back to the late 60s. But the film is nothing more than a collection of well-acted, well-shot scenes that do not go together, with no narrative and say nothing. I know maybe that’s the point, and I’m probably missing some genius filmmaking, but I would argue that any reasoning for this film being remotely enjoyable is just pretentious. Maybe I just don’t get it.
Actual Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%
Deserved Rotten Tomatoes Score: 61%
Best Scene: The last fight
Best Character: Bruce Lee
Best Actor/Actress: Brad Pitt
Best Quote: “But my hands are registered as lethal weapons. That means, we get into a fight, I accidentally kill you? I go to jail.” – Bruce Lee
Underrated – The Hitman’s Bodyguard– Patrick Hughes
When I was younger, I hated any film that didn’t have a bunch of explosions in. So I almost exclusively watched action movies and action-comedies. Unfortunately, since the mid-2000s, the quality in this genre is just dying. The endless spree of Fast and Furious movies is not exactly what I want. I went to see this mainly because of the cast, and the trailer looked good, and I actually loved it. Is it the pinnacle of filmmaking? No. But is it enjoyable, entertaining and what a film is meant to be? Yes it is. The acting is great, as you’d expect from Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L Jackson, Gary Oldman and Salma Hayek, the action is well choreographed (if gratuitously violent), and the story is entertaining enough to keep you engaged. And yes, Samuel L Jackson says motherfucker….a lot. It won’t change your life, but I’ve rewatched it three times since seeing it in the cinema, that says something. Films don’t need to be complex to be good, and there are genuinely interesting questions asked in this film. Can’t wait for the sequel…
Actual Rotten Tomatoes Score: 43%
Deserved Rotten Tomatoes Score: 74%
Best Scene: The opening scene
Best Character: Kincaid
Best Actor/Actress: Ryan Reynolds
Best Quote: “Question for a higher power. Who is more wicked, he who kills evil motherfuckers or he who protects them?” – Kincaid
Overrated – Bohemian Rhapsody– Graham King
Rami Malek is a good actor, don’t get me wrong, but in no world did he deserve the Oscar for Best Actor. This film was nominated for Best Picture too. I am honestly baffled. I grew up listening to Queen, and I still love them. But besides the actual songs (that the film gets no credit for), there was really nothing I liked about it. It was very poorly paced, rushing over major sections of story but lingering on boring parts, it painted the rest of the band as really holding Freddie back from his full potential, rather than portray them as the musical geniuses that they were in their own rights. The film also just felt off to me, it’s hard to describe. I found the warm 80s lighting to be distracting and unrealistic, and even in scenes like the “iconic” LiveAid scene, it just didn’t work for me. Why would I want to watch a shot for shot recreation of Queen performing, when I could just go to YouTube and you know…watch Queen. I also think it’s an absolute travesty that Malek won the Oscar and didn’t sing, I just don’t see how that works. How can you win the highest award for an actor for portraying a musical figure and not sing?? Joaquin Phoenix didn’t win for Walk The Line, but Malek wins for this?? Mad. The worst bit is, Taron Egerton probably won’t win for Rocketman because they won’t give it to two musical biopics in a row, and that is just criminal.
Actual Rotten Tomatoes Score: 61%
Deserved Rotten Tomatoes Score: 36%
Best Scene: I really don’t know
Best Character: Again, I don’t know
Best Actor/Actress: Gwilym Lee
Best Quote: “I pity your wife if you think six minutes is forever” – Freddie
If there’s a film you think is overrated or underrated, comment or send me a message!