Sunday, February 13

Things Film Students Like ....

… Bashing Popular Movies

Let me be clear up front, this post is not indicative of all Film Students, nor does it mean that this post is applicable to all popular movies. I have specific examples that I have noticed and will reference.

There’s an interesting situation I’ve noticed with Film Student in the past couple of years. It has become popular to attack popular movies. By popular I generally mean they earn big bucks at the box office. Here’s some examples I’ve seen in the past two years. From the top grosser in 2009: Avatar, Transformers 2, Twilight: New Moon, and X-Men Wolverine. From 2010: Alice in Wonderland, Twilight: Eclipse, Shrek Forever After, and Clash of the Titans.

Now, I am in no way claiming that all of these movies are good. Some of them I didn’t like at all, and I have my reasons. When there are movies that do well in the box office, but I don’t like them, I find it easier to state why I didn’t like them. When a movie bombs, it’s significantly harder.

Some movies are easy to see why people attack them. Shrek Forever After is the supposed last in a series that quickly went downhill. Clash of the Titans was loathed by many, and Twilight has a very specific fan base and outside of that base is completely unappealing to most people. Even though they did well, people generally agree they are not the greatest movies made.

Then comes the slightly more difficult ones. How about Alice in Wonderland? Many liked it, but then many couldn’t stand it (I count myself among them). Those who liked it tend to love the bizarre visuals and Johnny Depp’s quirky character. Those who hate it often find the story rushed, the characters not different enough from other’s by the same actor, and felt the acting from certain supporting roles was lacking.

Then it gets difficult, especially with Avatar. And Avatar is the specific one I’d like to focus on.

Being a current film student, I cannot count how many times I have heard people bash Avatar. Generally every time I hear the same things. “The 3D thing was just a gimmick” and “It’s basically Pocahontas and Dances With Wolves with aliens.” Occasionally there will be reference to the film’s length or to its acting, but not often.

Honestly, this bugs me. There doesn’t seem to be an attempt to critically analyze this film. I see more critical analysis of Transformers, or even of Twilight (though often those bashers are rather vague as well and is a whole other topic I won't get into).

For starters, Avatar is probably the least gimmicky use of 3D that I have seen. Clash of the Titans and Alice in Wonderland seemed much more gimmicky.

Second, so what if it bears resemblance to Pocahontas? So what is it reminds you of Dances With Wolves (also have you seen Dances With Wolves? if not don’t use it as a comparison.)? When I think of movies that I enjoy there are often other movies that they are similar to. Inception, a movie film students love to rave about, had similarities to The Matrix. Sure the plot may follow slightly different twists and the characters may be different. If you look you’ll see how every movie somehow gets inspiration from ANOTHER STORY. It happens. Some movies are more noticeable than others, that’s all. Also, stories like Pocahontas are common inspirations. There are many movies which bear similarities to it. Sometimes I think that if Avatar wasn’t so popular, people wouldn’t care as much. Every movie has its critics, but perhaps that number would lessen.

Here’s what I figure on Avatar: It now holds the record for the top grossing movie of all time. This means a lot of people saw it. And then they saw it again. I heard of people seeing it multiple times who usually don’t. Second, it was critically liked. Rotten Tomatoes gave it an 83% which is really good. Yes, critics don’t always speak for the people, but they do mean something. A 6% critical rating would be a good indicator of a terrible movie. Plus, don’t forgot favorites like Toy Story 3 and The Kings Speech received over 90%. Critics are people too. Third, it was nominated for multiple Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. Say what you will about the Oscars, I think it’s an important thing to note. These elements individually don’t always mean something. But all three together tells me that Avatar was one heck of a film achievement, whether you like it or not.

What I would argue is not that Avatar is the greatest movie ever made, but that it certainly is not the worst movie ever made. And if you think it is, wait five years and another movie will come out to take that spot.

Opinions are based on your tastes, not pure facts, otherwise they would be called facts. Not liking a movie doesn’t make it the worst movie ever. Not liking a movie means it doesn’t fit your taste, and it probably means you won’t like any sequels either. Liking a movie doesn’t make it the greatest movie ever, nor does it mean that everyone has to like it.

So please, don’t mindlessly bash on a movie because it’s a popular movie or because it’s popular to do. Understand why you don’t like and be willing to explain it. But talk about it in a sensible matter and realize that not everyone agrees with you, nor do they have to.

Thank you.

What do you think? What movies do you love that others hate? What movies do you hate but others love?


  1. Some movies that I greatly enjoy that some may not are- Monty Python: Quest for the Holy Grail, Spaceballs, Naked Gun, and other ridiculous movies of this nature.
    Movies that I hate that others love...Black Dynamite is what comes to mind...

  2. I think you would actually be surprised how many people love those movies. Holy Grail is a 'cult favorite' for many people. I think people like ridiculous movies which act more satirical in nature. Naked Gun seems to have a decent fan base as well and Spaceballs in Mel Brooks who is a favorite for that genre of movie.