Your Voices: On Overrated Movies

Your VoicesYour Voices is a simple concept created to encourage conversation and opinions between movie lovers. It works like this: I throw out a certain topic. After that I’ll make my case or share my opinions. Then it’s time for Your Voices. Head to the comments section and let fellow readers and moviegoers know your thoughts on the topic for that day!

AVATAR

It wasn’t long ago that I did a Phenomenal 5 centered around overrated movies. Now the term ‘overrated’ is complex. What I’m referring to are movies that are deemed incredible or even classic. They are films that the vast majority of moviedom absolutely love. I just happened to think they aren’t worth the applause and high praise that’s often given to them. We all have movies that fit in this category. So that’s what I want to hear from you today.

For me there are a host of movies that are universally loved but that I think fall well short of being called “classics”. Movies like “Fight Club”, “Apocalypse Now”, “Annie Hall”, and others have either huge cult followings or have been made Academy Award winners. But for me the biggest example of an overrated movie that received tons of love was James Cameron’s “Avatar”. To this day I see it as one of the most overhyped and overappreciated movies of all time. Technically its a marvel. But its story is stripped from a number of other movies and its heavy-handed preachiness is just eye-rolling. It also features a few of the worst performances I’ve seen. So what about you? Let me ask…

YOUR VOICES: What movie do you find terribly overrated?

Now it’s time for Your Voices. What is an overrated movie that instantly comes to mind? Why do you see it as an overrated film? Please share you thoughts on today’s question and I’d love to hear some examples of movies you find undeserving of their beloved status.

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63 thoughts on “Your Voices: On Overrated Movies

  1. Completely agreed on Avatar. Its screenplay is terrible, so terrible that the first Twilight movie might be equally well written.

    Other overrated features? I think Gladiator fits the bill. Its villain is an archetypal cliche, and its hero, while compelling, isn’t all that complex either. The action is exciting, and the film far from bad, but it certainly isn’t a modern classic.

    Also, Crash, as far as I’m concerned, is overrated. It has too many characters and so doesn’t develop any of them. Plus, it is riddled with coincidence, and is altogether too didactic for its own good.

    • Love the words about Avatar! I couldn’t agree more. But I have to say I love Gladiator. I see what you’re saying about Phoenix but I get caught up in the whole scope of the thing and I love Crowe’s performance.

      Thanks for the comments. Always appreciate it.

    • Thanks for the comment. I’m a pretty big fan of Argo. The ending does go big Hollywood but I thought the film was pretty thrilling as a whole. And the first 20 minutes is just incredible.

  2. So many choices, Crash, Fight Club, Anchorman, are all films I know others love but they leave me cold or actually irritate me. From the last couple of years I guess I would say Black Swan, which I thought was a mediocre Twilight Zone episode inflated to feature status. Natalie Portman has two expressions and she uses almost half of them in this fever dream of silly pretentiousness.

    • Wow, I agree with ever film you mentioned. I really don’t get the Anchorman or Fight Club live. And you’re right, Black Swan was a mediocre (and for me forgettable) movie.

  3. What made or makes the “Avatar” situation all the more prominent and disconcerting is that “District 9″ was released roughly the same time and didn’t receive nearly as much attention that year, despite being a far-superior science-fiction film.

    • The whole Avatar thing just amazed me. It was a paper-thin story without an ounce of originality. And talk about heavy-handed. Cameron doesn’t show an ounce of subtlety or skill in making a statement.

  4. Hmmmm, good question Keith. Gotta say I love Fight Club but I’ll go ahead and throw Casablanca in there. It’s a good film, no doubt, but I wasn’t as blown away by it as many others seem to have been. I also remember watching a load of films in my film studies class that were considered classics that I just didn’t get on with like Godard’s Weekend and Renoir’s Rules of the Game, but that could be a reflection of me more than anything else!

    • OUCH! My favorite film of all time! I adore Casablanca. For me it’s the perfect film. Love the story. Love the direction. Love the performances. Love the romance. Love Bogart. Oh and Bergman…my gosh she’s beautiful in it.

      Shame on you! Shame, shame, shame! ;)

  5. Too many really. I guess reactions to film are so individual that everyone is bound to feel a lot are overrated. First one that springs to mind for me is Slumdog Millionaire. I hate that film.

  6. Heh, I personally feel a bit cynical about the Oscars and tend not to consider a film being Oscar-winning as any kind of recommendation, so yes I could say Crash (not the Cronenberg one, obv) or Argo or whatever, but hey they were all generally fun at least. I’m going to play devil’s advocate and nominate Citizen Kane, though. Not because it’s bad (in many ways I do love it and it was an originator of so much that’s since become cliche), but just, with all the praise it’s received over the years, how can it NOT be overrated? It would be impossible for any film to live up to that kind of press.

    • I see what you’re saying about Kane. I absolutely love the film. So many amazing elements to the film. The look of the film, the camerawork, the performances, the story. I think it’s a masterpiece. But many have heaped so much praise on it that is impossible to live up to.

      Funny tie-in – It actually didn’t win the Best Picture Oscar from the Academy.

  7. I will grant you Avatar. I love Slumdog, District 9, Casablanca, Fightclub is too weird not to be good. Overrated..hhmmm. I’ll hang myself now by saying I thought The Departed was overrated.

    • I thought The Departed was pretty good. It’s interesting, it’s one of those movies that you don’t hear people talk about much anymore. I don’t know if that says something about it staying power or what.

  8. Nice post Keith. I am in complete agreement with you over Avatar, I just cannot understand how anyone can praise that film to the high heavens. I’ll go for a more recent example: I saw The Wolf Of Wall Street last night and felt a little bit disappointed by it given the large amount of praise it has received. There were elements of it I really liked, but I actually preferred the Scorsese forgery that was American Hustle.

    • Love hearing that! Once again I thought I was the only one. I didn’t care for Wolf at all (at least what I made it through). I didn’t find it funny, I didn’t find it smart, and I didn’t find it entertaining. Debauchery overkill!

      • I’d heard so many people say how funny it was but I only laughed a few times and the famous quaalude scene that I’d heard so much about was a let-down within a let-down. But that said…I still found it entertaining overall, and I can understand why others loved it. Of the films I’ve seen nominated for Best Picture I’ll be disappointed if it wins ahead of American Hustle, 12 Years A Slave or Gravity (haven’t seen Her, Nebraska or Dallas Buyer’s Club yet).

      • Nebraska is fantastic. I was mixed on Her and DBC. I think the big prize is between Hustle and 12 Years with Gravity having an outside shot. I can see Gravity getting Best Director but not Best Picture. That said, Gravity is still my favorite film of the year.

  9. I think it depends how you react to the movie. For me, I hate Crash and American Beauty, two movies I know plenty of people love, and while I appreciate its craft, Birth of a Nation drives me away with its content. I can understand your thoughts on Fight Club (I used to be mixed about it myself), but I completely agree on Avatar.

    • Thanks for the great comments. I’m very “meh” when it comes to Crash and American Beauty. I can take or leave them. I really do like Birth of a Nation although I see where you are coming from. I think it all comes from how you approach it. In many regards I find it fascinating and at times illuminating. It shows some positive aspects of the south that are often times tossed aside these days. But it also exhibits an ugly side (often unintentionally) and that’s where it becomes troubling. I’ve been slowly working on a review of that movie for several weeks now. I keep going back to it to write little bits here and there.

  10. I agree with Avatar! Besides the technological advances that it was able to introduce in the world of film, there really wasn’t much to praise for it. Another that comes to mind in recent years are Moonrise Kingdom, Up and Magic Mike.

    • Ouch! I’m being pierced through the heart today! I love Moonrise Kingdom! ;)

      I think all of the varied answers prove why this is such a fascinating question to me. Movies effect people differently which is why we have such different reactions to them. I love it.

      Thanks so much for the comments.

  11. I’m going to be *that* person.

    It’s a Wonderful Life. I just don’t get it. Sure it’s a decent story, but the constant gushing over it? Maybe I just missed the boat on the best time in my life to see this film.

  12. I think it’s so hard to gauge what’s truly “overrated” since there are champions of basically any film out there. If you’re talking about the Oscars, that’s tricky because few people seem to agree with the award winners. With Avatar, I rarely hear anyone rave about it, though that may relate to my circles. I think it was quite a spectacle on the screen, but it doesn’t hold up beyond that experience.

    • When I ask about “overrated” I’m asking on a personal level. That’s why there have been such a wide variety of answers, many of which are films I love. I guess that’s why I find the question so fascinating. It’s all about preference and how a film effects you.

      • I see what you’re saying. I just feel like it’s tricky even on a personal level. One that I didn’t love was Gone with the Wind, which fell into melodrama (and a lot of racism) in its second half. Still, I can totally see why it’s so acclaimed.

      • Interesting take on Gone with the Wind. To kinda show different views, It’s my wife favorite film. I really like it too but not as much as she does.

  13. I hear ya about Avatar, but I think that film is a VISUAL masterpiece though the screenplay leaves much to be desired. I actually bought the 3D film of Avatar and was still wowed by the visuals. So in that respect, I don’t think visually or SFX-wise the film is overrated.

    One Oscar-winner that didn’t wow me was The Hurt Locker, I was more impressed by Zero Dark Thirty that’s also by Bigelow. A lot of movies that are deemed incredible or even classic sometimes don’t interest me at all. I know you love this film Keith, but I have no desire to see No Country of Old Men.

    • I feel as though I am tied to a target and all of my movie pals are shooting arrows through my heart! Not “No Country for Old Men”! I am nuts about that film. You haven’t cut me as deeply as Chris did by mentioning “Casablanca” but close! *sniff sniff ;)

      • I’m so sorry Keith!! I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, least of all you. But y’know how I am w/ violent flicks, and Bardem really scares me in that one even just looking at his photos. Gives me chills, ahah.

        Casablanca though, now THAT is a masterpiece. Not overrated at all, no sirree :D

  14. I agree with you on Avatar, for sure. I actually like it, but it’s merely decent. It’s visually amazing, yes, but fails on too many other levels to be great. I have three movies I love to bring out in these type of discussions. In chronological order of release, they are 2001: A Space Odyssey, Brokeback Mountain, and The Tree of Life. I know, I know, 2001 has so many iconic moments and inspired so many. Watched as an actual film, it bores me to tears and comes off as incredibly pretentious. Watching one shot after another of some object doing nothing for minutes at a time plays like a cure for insomnia. Ditto for The Tree of Life. Brokeback also bores the crap out of me. It felt like watching paint dry most of the time. The story coasted on the novelty of it being about two guys. Otherwise, it was very cliche. No, I’m not homophobic as I’m often accused of when spouting my hatred of this movie. I’m just annoyed that THIS is the gay movie everyone clung to when two far superior LGBT films, Mysterious Skin and TransAmerica, came out the same year!

    • Yes, yes, and ouch! I agree with you on 2001. It’s a movie that I never could embrace but I’ve swore I was going to revisit. You hit the nail on the head with Brokeback Mountain. So much of the film seems to based on the novelty of it. The movie itself is far from great in my eyes. I do have to say that I loved “Tree of Life”. That said I can absolutely see how it wouldn’t work for some folks.

  15. Good topic to discuss here Keith. The term “overrated” is always subjective to me, there many films I love that many thought it’s way overrated, one of them you already mentioned, Apocalypse Now, I love that movie. But I totally agree with you on Avatar, without the visual effects, the movie has nothing new to offer. In fact, I tried watching it on Bluray and without the 3D effects, it’s pretty lame and I couldn’t even finish the movie.

    Here are some films I thought are way overrated, I’ll probably take a lot of heat for it too. :)
    - The Shawshank Redemption – good flick but it’s nothing special to me and since i read the short story it’s based on, I was actually disappointed with the film version.
    - Leon: The Professional – again it’s an average movie but somehow the film garnered a huge cult following. The film came out when I was in high school and I was excited to see it after I saw a kick ass trailer. But the actual film was kind of a letdown and that “love” story between Leon and Mathilda still creeps me out. I saw an extended version of the film and there’s a scene where Mathilda said she wants Leon to take her virginity, gross!!
    - Forrest Gump – yeah this movie just didn’t do anything for me, great performances by the actors but the story didn’t jell with me.
    - Jaws – Yeah I know this one will get me a lot of hate but I just don’t think it’s even that scary, it’s a descent thriller but nothing special to me.

    Well those are some films I can come up with at the moment, there are many more I thought are vastly overrated.

    • Hey Ted! Thanks for stopping by. Love the comments.

      While I probably like Shawshank and Leon a little more than you, I know exactly what you mean. I think they are good films but they aren’t movies that I consider favorites of mine nor are they movies I care to watch over and over.

      Now Jaws is a different story. I absolutely love that movie. I remember seeing it as a kid and being scared by it. It doesn’t scare me now but I recently watched it with my young son. He had that same reaction I did as a kid. I just love the characters, the dialogue, the setting, the whole thing. It’s one of those movies that have so many memorable moments.

      Thanks again for weighing in.

  16. Yep, Avatar def. (upvoted this on Reddit as well, my friend).

    I also think that No Country for Old Men is grossly over rated as is Pulp Fiction, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Titanic, Monster’s Ball and Harry Potter series.

    Just my 2 cents. I like this post and the idea of “Your Voices”, Keith. Thanks.

    • Big thanks for the upvote!

      I gotta say I LOVE “No Country”. For me it’s a near perfect film. But you aren’t the first to mention it as overrated! ;)

      Thanks for the complement. This about the fifth or sixth Your Voices I’ve done but the first in a while. Really appreciate you weighing in!

  17. Like most people here, I completely agree with Avatar. It is a spectacular visual treat, but it really doesn’t deserve to be the highest grossing film of all time.

    Personally, rated films that I never got along with include 2001: Space Odyssey (A half hour story in a two hour film), Black Swan (Too calculated and organised) and, recently, American Hustle (great performances in a very poor plot)

    • You’re the second person to mention 2001. I’m with you. I never disliked the movie but I never saw it as the groundbreaking classic that others did. But it is a movie that I’ve wanted to revisit. 100% agree on Black Swan as well.

      Thanks for the comments!

  18. Yeah, Avatar sucks. The plot is so silly and simple and the movie was actually kinda boring. Another overrated one for me is Inception. It’s such a straightforward movie and people treat it as if it was the most complex script.

    • Oh I adore Inception. One
      Of my favorite films I the last 10 years or so. I don’t think it was as complex as some think, but its tricky to pull off and Nolan does it to perfection.

  19. This is easy. I missed seeing a certain film in theaters, and all I kept hearing is people raving about it constantly. This was in high-school, so all you hear is blah, blah, blah when something is a popular topic. When I finally sat down to watch it, I fell asleep. Made it through my second try, but did not care one bit about it. The movie…..

    ….Is 300.

    • Ahhh…LOL! I remember the hype centering around “300″. I have to admit the fight scenes have a lyrical brutality that I think is awesome. But that only goes so far. The story is really simplistic and it doesn’t really offer much at all.

  20. Love this. I really and intensely disliked Avatar… everything about it. Gotta say, I really disliked The Avengers too… and Insidious (for these overhyped films). Some films are that hyped up but they are that good. There are too many overrated movies, in my opinion. Shoot me now, but I thought American Hustle was one of them. Not a bad movie, and not badly acted at all (that was fantastic), it was just… bland.

    • “Intensely disliked”. I like that! I certainly won’t jump on you for not liking “American Hustle”. I thought it was pretty good (mainly because of the performances) but I don’t think it has any staying power whatsoever. It’s definitely not a movie we will be talking about 10 years down the road. And it’s definitely not an Oscar front runner in my opinion.

      • :P Glad to hear that! Oh good, then I am not alone. The way people are raving, I expected a lot more. The performances are really worth looking into, but it is forgettable at the end of it all. All down to personal opinions though, as you said.

    • Ouch! You cut me deep with “Schindler’s List”. Not a big fan of that one, huh?

      And then there is Avatar 2. Somehow I don’t see myself seeing it on opening weekend!

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