There are films that come in with the least amount of expectations but end up surprising you. As a movie lover, those are moments we live for. We all want movies to surprise us. We want them to wrap us emotionally, failing to let go by. But then there are films that disappoint you. The reasons could be plenty; huge production, stature of the filmmaker, subject of the film and so on and so forth. So when you have sky high expectations from a film and when they fail on one or two aspects, people tend to bash them mercilessly. But in retrospect, the film seems to have many redeeming qualities and turn out to be a much better affair than it did on first viewing. These are films that received unfair amount of hate from critics or audiences. And this article takes a look at the list of those films which are generally hated by people but are actually good. Please note that the numbers do not indicate ranking of any kind.
15. Waterworld (1995)
‘Waterworld’ was a film that miserably failed to meet its expectations during its release and failed at the box office. Audiences weren’t very enthusiastic about it and has a startling Rotten Tomatoes score of 42%. But ‘Waterworld’ is a film of searing ambition and uses some very fascinating ideas to explore a futuristic world where the ice caps have melted and sea has flooded the land in its entirety. The film wasn’t very clinical in its execution and was caught up in itself at many places, trying just way too many things but ultimately comes off as an immensely satisfying experience mostly due to the set designs, intriguing concepts and some truly astonishing moments.
14. Dreamcatcher (2003)
Adapted from the Stephen King novel of the same name, ‘Dreamcatcher’ has been a contender in numerous and polls and lists as one of the worst films ever made. The film tells the story of friends who have the ability to communicate using telepathic powers. But on a trip they discover that their town is full of alien monsters and will have to fight them out. ‘Dreamcatcher’ is no masterpiece but as a sci-fi horror the film is beyond average on many aspects; from the storyline, pacing to the visuals and interesting characters.
13. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skull (2008)
As a child, growing up watching Steven Spielberg’s films was among the most magical experiences of my life. ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ was a a flat out masterpiece. The subsequent instalments couldn’t quite live up to the verve and energy of the original but the fourth instalment is certainly far from being a bad film. The film was very divisive among critics with many even deeming it as one of the worst sequels ever made. Most people were put off by the monotony and lack of freshness in the approach but the film is every bit entertaining as its previous instalments. Most of the plot-lines are predictable but it doesn’t hamper the viewing experience and features some memorably thrilling moments that Spielberg delivers, ensuring the film manages to stand up to the iconic stature of the franchise.
12. The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
‘Matrix Reloaded’ was another victim of hype that got crumbled under the weight of expectations. ‘The Matrix’ revolutionised the landscape of the sci-fi genre in a way very films have. Understandably the hype was beyond control and ‘Reloaded’ ended up getting an unfair reception from critics and staunch fans of the original. To match up to a phenomenon like ‘The Matrix’ is no easy task. ‘The Matrix Reloaded’ fails at that but as a standalone, the film still qualifies as a well made, intelligent, thought provoking sci-fi thriller with some mesmerising actions scenes that are as enthralling and captivating as cinema can ever get.
11. Saw III (2006)
The ‘Saw’ franchise is easily one of the most divisive film franchises of all time. Most of the films were thrashed by critics but over the years the series has managed to acquire a strong cult following among fans of the horror movie genre. ‘Saw’ remains, unquestionably, the best film of the entire series. The sequels came up as a result of the unexpected success it received back in 2004. The subsequent instalments received a lot of flak for being extremely gory and violent with some critics even deeming it as “torture porn”. But considering how the series was barely tolerable post the the fourth instalment, the third one seems to be a fairly decent horror flick and has some genuine thrills and some nerve-wracking moments of brutality that are nevertheless entertaining despite how blatantly convoluted and contrived most o the plot-points may seem.
10. Signs (2002)
‘Signs’ is one of M. Night Shyamalan’s better ventures and probably the nearest he would ever get to the brilliance of ‘The Sixth Sense’. One of Shyamalan’s qualities as a filmmaker is his ability to craft an intriguingly frightening atmosphere that pulls you right into the film. ‘Signs’ suffers from the same issues that have now become almost recognisable traits in his films. But despite having a very lame ending, the film does come off as a well made, creepy sci-fi horror with some amazing moments evoking Shyamalan’s now lost Hitchcockian brilliance.
9. Alien 3 (1992)
David Fincher’s take on the highly popular ‘Alien’ franchise wasn’t met with friendly reviews from critics and fans. Fincher himself was not pleased with the final output and blamed studio interference and time constraints as the major issues that wrecked the film. The film turned out to be a box office failure and was eventually forgotten. However, the Assembly Cut that was released more than a decade later received better reception and the film managed to garner some sort of a cult following among fans of the franchise. Much of the issues in the film’s original cut could be attributed to the bizarre storyline and plot convolutions but the Assembly Cut redeems the film and the extended, deleted scenes add a lot more coherence and logic to the narrative.
8. Pay it Forward (2000)
‘Pay it Forward’ cinematically embodies the essence of the word “preachy”. The film infuriated critics and many people due to its emotionally manipulative approach and excessively melodramatic storyline. But what the film benefits from is the honest performances by its leads who lift the preachy, sentimental script of the film and turn it into a very convincing and believable portrayal of human beings. This is where the film, despite its contrived ending, comes off as a watchable affair. Kevin Spacey is absolutely in his best elements and portrays the frailties of a man with a scarred past and is brilliantly complimented by the ever reliable Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment. ‘Pay it Forward’ is just the kind of film that benefits and benefits well from its actors. And considering the amount of monstrosities being churned out in Hollywood, this is not a film that deserves to be hated with such passion.
7. The Majestic (2001)
Frank Darabont’s ‘The Majestic’ uses the same optimistic, warm tone of his earlier films like ‘The Green Mile’ and ‘The Shawshank Redemption’. But perhaps the sentimental approach here did not go well with critics and audiences as it did with his other films. ‘The Majestic’ is a very simple tale of humanity and freedom that has an endearing fable like quality to it that makes it such a joyful watch, bringing in a much needed sense of hope and optimism in a modern society consumed by absolute cynicism and over-intellectuality.
6. The Intouchables (2011)
A rather bold choice for the list. But ‘The Intouchables’ was a film that polarised many due to its emotionally unrestrained and lighthearted approach towards dealing serious subjects including cultural diversity, racism and physical disabilities. But despite all its flaws, I found this to be a film made with heart and one that manages to pull your heartstrings in a very refreshingly simple and light-hearted manner. But sadly a majority of the viewers were irked by the film’s simplistic and comic take on complex issues and over the years has gone on to be hated by many movie buffs.
5. Life is Beautiful (1997)
I have very mixed feelings about Roberto Benigni’s ‘life is Beautiful’. The film deeply offended the sentiments of holocaust survivors and people whose families were affected by the tragedy. Apparently Benigni’s comic approach to the subject misfired and ended up garnering the hate of many critics and audiences. And while my recent re-watch of the film has made see things from a different perspective, there’s a part of me that still thinks ‘Life is Beautiful’ is a well made film with good intentions. Despite the one-dimensional characters, Benigni somewhere manages to strike a chord in you with an amount of simplicity and warmth that melts you in its honesty.
4. Remember Me (2010)
Yes, ‘Remember Me’ has that infamously contrived ending which felt completely out of place. But to be fair, ‘Remember Me’ certainly deserves a better treatment among viewers and is more than a decent watch with some genuinely powerful moments. Sadly though, the film was unfairly criticised for its ending as many deemed it to be extremely manipulative and exploitative. The characters are well etched with some fine performances by its leads and the drama has a rare human touch that feels definitely moving and works on many levels.
3. The Bucket List (2007)
A highly popular film among audiences now, ‘The Bucket List’ was unsparingly thrashed by most critics due to its emotionally manipulative approach. The film is very naive at places and is unabashedly melodramatic in its tone but it’s hard to ignore the endearing quality the films wraps you with. The script is lifted by some genuinely good performances by Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as they make their characters look thoroughly convincing and their plight believable. ‘The Bucket List’ is just the kind of film that does not deserve to be overly critiqued or analysed and must be seen with an open heart and the result would be a pleasant cinematic experience so full of warmth and charm.
2. Solaris (2002)
A commercial Hollywood remake of a Russian sci-fi art film directed by a mainstream filmmaker and starring George Clooney. In a nutshell, this was the image that got imprinted in the minds of people long before the film was even processed. Steven Soderbergh’s version of ‘Solaris’ does not touch its original and it doesn’t try to either. To be fair to the film, ‘Solaris’ is far better than most people make out to be. There are parts in the film that come off as extremely cheesy but it does justice to the deeply meditative, psychological depths of its original and is well ahead of most science fiction films churned out by Hollywood in terms of intelligence and thematic richness.
1. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
Most hard-boiled cinephiles were angered by the ending of Steven Spielberg’s ‘A.I. Artificial Intelligence’ because it was a project initially developed by Stanley Kubrick who would later hand it to Steven Spielberg as he felt creatively bounded by the lack of technological advancements to create the protagonist of the film. Parts of the film feel extremely contrived and suffers from a tonal confusion but there’s an endearing quality to the film that makes it so compelling and emotional. Most people, however, were infuriated by the melodramatic approach to the film’s ending and was expecting a Kubrickian style of ambiguity and philosophical depth to it which the film failed to provide.
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