The Highest Rated Movies I Don’t Like – IMDb Edition!

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Greetings, Glancers! It’s me again, back with another rambling ramble about movies. In previous posts I visited famous film graveyard Rotten Tomatoes and harped on about the fact that too many modern (last 5 years) movies occupy their most highly rated spots, and how some of my favourite films ever were slapped with a rating less than 50%, 40%, or in some cases 1%. That’s fine – everyone knows scoring is a nonsense, as subjective as the movies themselves. Everyone knows that my scoring system (click the link, you know you wanna) is better and will become the gold standard once I’m dead and no-one can pay me for it.

There’s me rambling again. It’s a problem. And a charm. A Charmblem? There you go, a new word which describes an action or behaviour which is at once charming and problematic. I bet I don’t get credit for creating that either. On to the much more reputable Internet Movie Database, a site I have been using and abusing since 2000. Remember the forums? Those were great. One of the IMDb’s most popular pages has always been its Top 250. There used to be wonderfully pointless fights in the forums over keeping either The Godfather or The Shawshank Redemption on the number one spot. It’s hilarious that people would spend so much time on such trivial matters (he says while furiously typing yet another post on the subject) and it’s all so silly – it should be Terminator 2 at Number 1. People would argue over scoring campaigns, people giving deliberately bad scores to great movies just to see it drop down some arbitrary ranking. People get so defensive over these products which don’t care about them. It’s the same way with videogames – Nintendo versus Sega, Sony vs Microsoft, Spectrum vs Commodore. My response has always been the same – what brand of toaster/microwave do you have? Do you care if mine is better/faster/cleaner than your one? No, so why should you care about this? You’re a consumer, nothing more. The Product and the Business and the Owners don’t give a shit about you.

Having said that, I did always enjoy pissing off the Fight Club and The Usual Suspects fans. They were so easy to troll and they were so precious and defensive about their films that they would threaten with death anyone who dared to give a score less than 9. Kevin Spacey fans were the worst… well who’s laughing now? Certainly not Mr Spacey – he of See No Evil, Hear No Evil fame. It has been a while since I checked the IMDb Top 250. I can only imagine there are a lot more Christopher Nolan and Marvel movies there now, but I imagine there will still be more older, more foreign movies. I don’t think the frothing rabid geek army cares enough about the IMdb to ruin it – they only like their ‘new toys’, and ‘new’ the IMDb ain’t. So in this post I’m going to look at the movies in the IMDb Top 250 which I don’t like. Then I’ll do the same (opposite?) for their lowest scoring movies. Why? Why do you think – I’m drunk.

I had a moment there where I wondered if they even had a Top 250 anymore, but phew, they do. Maybe they don’t have a low rating list anymore? Lets worry about that later. What immediately strikes me at first glance is that there is a whole host of movies I haven’t seen and probably never will. There seems to have been an influx of Indian movies onto the list. Gangs Of Wassypur is at 250 and I’ve never heard of it. Bollywood or Indian movies in general I know almost nothing about, beyond the fact that the few I’ve seen I haven’t liked. 247 is another Indian entry I know nothing of, while another – Rang De Basanti is in at 218 – above the likes of The Terminator, The Wizard Of Oz, Jaws, and The Exorcist. Interesting.

Okay, at number 189, one place above Stand By Me, is the overrated and underrated Into The Wild – the true story of a privileged bin-lid who decided to decided to go ‘On The Road’ into the wilderness in search of… himself? Something? Either way, he gets eaten by a bear, so it’s all good.  Or maybe he ate a leaf and got poisoned? All the same. I say it’s overrated because this gets a lot of critical and cult acclaim, but it’s just not very good. Good performances and soundtrack, nice scenery, but man what a knob the central character is. It’s underrated in that I don’t think many people know it exists and it should be seen so more people can form an opinion of it, but it’s just not for me. It annoyed me too much and I see the central story as little different from those click-bait articles about people taking a selfie while hanging over the edge of The Grand Canyon before falling to their deaths.

At 181 is David Fincher’s comedy Gone Girl. Yes, I think it’s a comedy. That’s the only way I can take it seriously. For a director as brilliant as Fincher, it takes all of my favourite hallmarks of his and flushes them down the drain and replaces them with monotone visuals, insipid characters, and bland drama wrapped up in a mystery less engaging than me wondering where my other sock is (spoiler alert – it was in the drawer ALL ALONG). I get why people like it – it’s mainstream. But to the extent that it’s included among the best movies ever? Nope.

In an incredibly similar vein are my feelings towards Shutter Island. I was excited when I saw Scorsese was making a horror film and after watching Shutter Island I’m still waiting for him to make a horror film. This was nothing more than an extended Tales From The Darkside episode, with added blandness and an ending I’d already predicted before I’d pushed the play button. I could ‘go there’ with Gone With The Wind but I think that would be pointless – it’s undoubtedly a great achievement and a significant moment in history which I respect – it’s just not a favourite. I could go into No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood – both films I think are impressively overrated but I can probably wait until I get around to their Oscar posts in the future.

At 152 is Room, a film I believe I reviewed here, the basic summary of which being that it’s good, but a little meh, and I don’t believe in any way it needs to be considered as one of the best 200 movies ever. At 151 is V For Vendetta – a film which I consider to be more or less a complete mess. Beyond some select visuals, there’s nothing here of interest. At 142 is Lock, Stock, And Two Smoking Barrels, another film I can’t stand but then I’m biased against all that Cockney Gangster wank. A Beautiful Mind at 141 I didn’t care for, same goes for Some Like It Hot at 117. I really don’t like that one, in fact. Snatch is at 104 – more Cockney gangster wank. At 87 is Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind – a film by all accounts I should have enjoyed, but again think it is an overrated heap. American Beauty is at 69, a film I liked, but not nearly enough to consider it within even my top twenty movies of that year. The Dark Knight Rises is at 67 – seriously? It’s clearly the weakest of the trilogy and nowhere near on a par with Burton’s first film – did I enjoy it? Hell yeah, but no chance this is one of the best films ever – and it’s one spot higher than Aliens? Da phuk outta here.

Django Unchained didn’t do much for me – it’s at 61 for some reason. Then we get a pile of other Indian movies and recent movies I haven’t seen yet, but can only assume they are not ‘better’ than Alien, Vertigo, or Full Metal Jacket. Into the top thirty and there’s nothing I don’t like. There’s plenty I don’t agree with – Inception is not the 14th best movie ever, Fight Club is not the 10th best movie ever, City Of God should not be above A New Hope, but that’s not why we’re here. Hopefully a few of my outbursts have made you angry. Or surprised you. I don’t know. Like I said before, feel free to like what you like. Even share what you like and encourage others to check those films out. But don’t force your opinion upon others and expect them to feel the same way. There is no Best Movie Ever, only what made a lot of money, what was liked by a bunch of people, what is still talked about years after the fact, what had an influence on something or someone else.

Let us know in the comments what popular or critically acclaimed movies you don’t like. Next time, I check out the lowest rated movies. It’ll be fun.

2019 In Film – A Preview – October

Note -written in January 2019 and I wasn’t arsed updating it since.

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Gemini Man

Will Smith aims to return to the big time with what seems to be a big budget sci-fi actioner. From the plot synopsis there could be some cool age techniques and effects going on, and the cast also features Clive Owen, Benedict Wong, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead – all good. To top it off, Ang Lee directs so we know there will be a certain flair and class.

Joker

I wish they would just stick with one actor for all these films with The Joker. I know they’re going for their own style, but personally this would work best if it had been the same actor all the way through. I don’t know anything about this beyond Joaquin Phoenix is playing the loon this time.

The Woman In The Window

It’s based on a book which I don’t know anything about, but the film blurb makes it sound like Rear Window and The Girl On The Train. Joe Wright is on familiar ground then, adapting yet another successful novel. In truth, I haven’t cared for anything Wright has made, but it’s Amy Adams and Gary Oldman and the idea seems interesting enough, but with Wright’s track record it’ll go for class over sleaze. I like sleaze.

The Addams Family

They’re going animation this time around, fair enough. When is someone going to make The Munsters?

Zombieland Too

I held off on seeing Zombieland until long after people had stopped talking about it. Being a big zombie fan, I always knew I would see it so I’m not sure why I didn’t for so long. The sequel seems like a miracle, given how so much time has passed and how the star rating of most of the cast has risen, yet they’re getting the band together again. Should be fun.

The Goldfinch

I haven’t read the book yet, but it’s been on my list since release. The film seems like a straight re-telling, but the cast is great – young and old – Finn Wolfhard, Ansel Elgort, Sarah Paulson, Nicole Kidman, Willa Fitzgerald. John Crowley follows up Brooklyn with this.

Are You Afraid Of The Dark?

Yay! I’ve no idea how they’re going to do this and what level of scares they’ll have. Both this and Goosebumps were for kids but AYAOTD always had more of an edge. It’s not going to be scary, but honest horror aimed at a younger audience is always good. I’ve no idea if they’ll take the campfire approach. My kids loved Goosebumps so I’ll rope them into this.

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Seems like Oscar bait – and already now I can see this winning a bunch due to the backlash at the Mr Rogers documentary not making it to this year’s Awards (baring in mind I’m updating this post at time of writing 20th February 2019). Let it just be clear – I don’t give a shit about Mr Rogers. It seems like he was this amazing person and did a load for kids through TV? Growing up in Northern Ireland I had no idea who he was – whatever shows he did never made it over here whatsoever – so I have no connection to the material whatsoever. Beyond this being a Tom Hanks vehicle, I’m not getting the impetus to see this.

What are your picks?

The Lowest Rated Movies I Like – Rotten Tomatoes Edition

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Spicing Up My Post With A Completely Inappropriate Picture

Greetings, Glancers! If you missed it last time, I walked through the Top 100 Highest Rated movies on Rotten Tomatoes and found a few films I either disliked or disagreed with their inclusion. It wasn’t very exciting, and this is going to be the even less interesting follow up. I’m looking at the dregs now, the films that are so bad they’re baaad, but wondering if among these there are films I love, or at the very least, enjoy. I’m using Rotten Tomatoes again, and if their Top Rated films are anything to go by, I can only assume that their Low Rated list will be mostly populist fare, not films which are little known or so low-budget and Indie and bad that only twelve people will ever see them. I rambled on a bit too much last time, so lets just jump straight in now.

There is a list of films rated with 0% on Rotten Tomatoes. I assume that means that out of all the critic and audience reviews there isn’t a single positive one. I’m probably assuming incorrectly, but if you think I’m going to spend time and effort actually looking into this you are sorely mistaken. Oh. Oh dear. Going by year, the first entry I see comes in at 1987, and it’s a film I enjoy. In fact, it’s a film I love. In fact, it’s a film I include on my Top 150 favoutite films of all time. It’s Police Academy 4. This is strange, not because I think it’s an amazing film (I don’t, but I love it thiiiiiiissss muuuuuuucccch) but because it is far from the worst film in the series. Part 5 is a watchable rehash of ideas, Part 6 falls too far from the formula and loses more favourite characters, while Part 7 is genuinely awful – that’s coming from me as a huge fan of the series. But Part 4 has some great stuff – most of the original cast is there, we get some new and recurring fan favourites, and it has some of my favourite moments from the franchise. I can’t believe that not a single person gave a favourable review on this, but did on later entries.

1988 sees the next entry, and it’s Mac And Me! I mentioned this last time as a film I enjoyed more than ET. It’s true. I know, okay, I know that ET is the vastly, vastly better film, but I like Mac And Me more. He’s such a little freak. 1991 takes me to another surprise – Highlander Part 2. I’m genuinely surprised this is rated as 0%. I know it’s not a patch on the first, but do people actually hate this and consider it one of the worst movies ever? I mean, I’m not such a huge fan of it to keep up with audience reviews of it, but a quick Google search tells me that apparently it is frequently called one of the worse films ever. I must go back and watch it now to see why. I remember it being messy, and trying to be too clever for its own good to the point that it became stupid, but I also remember liking it. There are other films here I saw and didn’t dislike – Redline, Derailed, One Missed Call, but I don’t remember them in as much detail so can’t comment further.

Lets see what else we have slightly further up the scale. With a score of under 60%, The Mummy by Stephen Sommers is seen in RT terms as an average movie. I assumed most critics were more positive and I would go so far as calling it the definitive version of the story. Sure, it’s just an Indiana Jones movie without Harrison Ford, but it’s good family fun, fast moving, and with a decent balance between thrills, laughs, action, and scares. Similarly, Die Hard With A Vengeance is a rip-roaring time, bypassing the droll sequel and getting it right with a blend of action and comedy which no recent action movies have emulated – it has a meagre 52% rating. Return To Oz is one of my favourite movies of all time, yet it sits with an inexplicable 53%. I can only assume this is due to a critical bias towards The Wizard Of Oz rather than seeing the film on its own merits – as a twisted, dark, fantasy which teaches kids that the world actually isn’t all that nice of a place. With great make-up, effects, and some fantastic performances, it deserves better than 53%.

Super, at 49%, is a film which was dismissed upon release and has since faded into oblivion. For me, it’s better than any MCU or DCU movie I’ve seen (yet), and more inventive, funny, and interesting than almost any recent comic book blockbuster you can name. Hot Rod has 39%… it’s not great, but I enjoyed it. High Tension has… wtf… only 40%, reminding us that most critics just don’t get horror and are idiots. Equally mysterious is Equilibrium’s 38% – sure most people see it as a Matrix knock-off, but it’s vastly superior in my eyes than whatever the hell The Matrix sequels were supposed to be. Drop Dead Fred has a painful 9% rating…. I get it’s not high art, and while I don’t know the countries of origin of the critics who gave such bad scores, I would take a stab at guessing most were American and therefore ‘didn’t get it’. Any time Rik Mayall appears in a film it is a blessing from the Gods, and this is probably his best movie role. Show this to any kid – they’ll love it.

Lets go through some of my favourite movies by year lists and see how some of those fare – I’m only picking those movies which I imagine critics didn’t love. The Watcher In The Woods is my 7th favourite movie of 1980, but RT gives it a 45%. The further into the 80s we go and the more Arnie movies we’ll see – traditionally Arnie movies got hammered by critics upon release only to be reevaluated as classics decades later. We already know that the Police Academy series never did well with critics – even the generally agreed upon best of the bunch (Part 1) gets only 54%. Brewster’s Millions is one of my favourites of 1985 but has a poor 36%, while The Hitcher from 1986 barely scrapes a Fresh Rating with 60%. Going further a field, my beloved Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead, which is long overdue for a critical reevaluation, has a miserly 33%.

Once again, feel free to draw your own conclusions from any of this and check how your favourite movies stack up against the almighty critical consensus. Chances are they won’t, but that’s okay. Just keep liking what you like, because if you don’t the people in power will just keep rolling out the same five films each year with ever more beautiful effects, performers, and movies will become pointless. What a time to be alive.

The Highest Rated Movies I Don’t Like – Rotten Tomatoes Edition

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Greetings, Glancers! If you follow any dedicated movie blog or fan page or podcast, forum, or website regularly, you’ve probably seen various posts and comments discussing the variance between what critics say is good (or bad) and what fans say is good (or bad). This is a time honoured disparity – critics and the general public have been disagreeing about what they should consume since time began – the general consensus being that critics are snobbish and elite and only like a film if it’s old/foreign/arty/low-budget, while the general public are a bunch of ignorant sheep who only enjoy whatever the largest corporations feed to them, generally new/Hollywood only/formulaic/high-budget films. It’s a load of balls of course, with a few pubes of truth pricking out. As I’ve pointed out before, each individual viewer can be broadly categorized, but we all have our own baggage of likes, dislikes, preferences which mean that – surprise surprise – movies, music, TV, books etc are subjective.

There are key differences between the critic and the general viewer, regardless of how voracious the general viewer is. Firstly, it is historically true that critics have had greater access to a wider array of films than anyone else. With the advent of the internet and streaming you would expect that distinction to disintegrate. I assumed it would have faded more by now, but it remains true that the general public is less adventurous than the critic and sticks to what they know, or what they like. Secondly, critics get paid to watch and critique movies – the general audience pays to watch and in most cases don’t get paid to talk about them. That relates to point 1 – the general public have to part with their hard earned cash to watch a movie, so why take the risk of forking over a handful of money if there’s a risky unknown quantity? We are more likely to spend our money on something there is a high likelihood we’ll enjoy.

Thirdly, film criticism is a discipline you are taught and learn. It isn’t the case that you can simply watch a bunch of movies and call yourself a critic – no, you’re a fan. A critic begins with watching movies, with the love of doing so, but takes it multiple steps further to learn about every aspect of film-making, but also film history, and criticism itself. You can’t be a critic without gaining the relevant knowledge and experience, whether that is through a University course or some other path of education. Even then, simply completing a BA in Film Studies may not be enough – you have to be good, you have to follow the rules, or be a master of the rules so that you know how and when to bend or break them. I admit I don’t know much about Rotten Tomatoes so I can’t say for sure how good, or how accurate the actual critics whose scores are used for the site are, but I can only assume they have the skills, knowledge, and experience which the general audience does not have.

I don’t consider myself a critic, in any way shape or form. I have a degree in English Literature, and within that degree I covered multiple film modules, multiple criticism modules, read endless texts on both subjects, but that doesn’t mean I’m anything more than a fan. A knowledgeable one, sure. Most of the movie blogs I follow, some of which are claimed to be run by critics, are not run by critics – they are fans like me. Some much more knowledgeable about films and about criticism than I am, others much less so. In each case the common denominator is that we all like what we like. That’s the way it should be. Don’t think that just because a film has a super high critical or audience score that you’ll automatically like it, or that there’s something wrong with you if you don’t. Likewise, we should never feel guilty about enjoying something which is critically and/or commercially panned – like what you like. Some of the highest rated movies of all time are musicals – generally speaking I can’t stand musicals. The critical part of me can detach personal preference and speak from a technical perspective, from a perspective of cultural significance, but that’s abandoning the most important part of consuming art and entertainment – how does it make you feel? How much do you enjoy it. It’s part of the reason I don’t do scores – scores are basically meaningless – and it’s part of the reason I came up with the Nightman Scoring System (c), as an attempt to replace personal bias with a more generic critical eye while not necessary having critical skills.

All of that leads to the purpose of this post – I’m going to look at some of the most popular websites and publications of the modern age, look at their mostly highly and lowly rated films, and select a few of the ones I disagree with. Namely, those in the top 100 which I didn’t enjoy, and those at the bottom which I did. As people we like to both bitch and moan when we encounter something we disagree with, and we like to indulge in confirmation bias by seeking our and finding those lists and people who pick the same movies we would pick. That proves you’re right, right!? No, it just proves that someone somewhere likes something you do. The purpose of these posts is neither to bitch and moan nor a search for affinity in this endless void we call home. It’s scratching an itch, it’s because I’m curious to see what others think and if I’m aligned to the zeitgeist. It’s allowing me to see that zeitgeist, because usually I don’t care about what is popular or what is not and I rarely if ever look at sites like Rotten Tomatoes. They are the subject of today’s post, and I’ll be looking at their Top 100 Highest Rated Movies – all Genres – as of April 8th 2019.

At first glance the list does seem a little silly – definitely catered towards the general public rather than the critic. In over 100 years of Cinema, 47 of ‘the most highly rated films of all time’ were released in the last nine years (seven of the top ten released in the last four years). Yes, 47 of the best 100 movies of all time came out since 2010. It’s objectively false and it says more about the people who use the site than the films themselves. If you’re a regular here, you likely know my viewing habits aren’t usual – I typically only catch up to most new movies when they’re 3, 4, 5 years old. What that means is that a large chunk of those 47 movies I haven’t seen – maybe they are some of the best movies of all time, as unlikely as that seems.

Remember, if I have my critical hat on then I am dividing up a film’s score into roughly 20 categories, ranging from commercial power to cultural influence to technical skill so it is difficult to gauge how ‘good’ a film is until a certain amount of time has passed. We’re not doing that today though, so lets just take the numbers and films as they are. There are movies here I enjoyed, or even loved, but I wouldn’t consider them to be the best or most highly rated movies of all time but lets start working my way through the list to find films I didn’t like. If I genuinely find none, then it’ll be films I found average.

At number 87, we have Finding Nemo. Did I like Finding Nemo? Sure – but I didn’t enjoy it any more than any number of straight to DVD animated fare. It looks fine, I imagine when it was first released the visuals had more of an impact, but the story, the characters, the voices – none of these things captured me in the same way as my favourite Disney movies. I understand I’m not the target audience for this film and by the time all of these CG animated movies were being made I had all but stepped away from watching any animation. Once my kids were of an age where they could actually watch a movie, I was excited as I had more than 10 years worth of apparently great animated movies to catch up on, from Disney, Dreamworks, Illumination, Pixar etc. Yet many of the most highly rated ones haven’t done anything for me, beyond being a simple, happy diversion. Finding Nemo is one of those – it’s little more than just okay. For me.

12 Years A Slave is a movie I did like, but wasn’t in any way wowed by. I think most of that is down to how much I love Roots and this seemed like Roots-lite. Strong performances, great direction, but again it didn’t knock me over like a film considered the 45th highest rated film of all time should. I’m mainly picking it because I’m over the halfway mark and haven’t found any others I don’t like – plenty I haven’t seen and assume I won’t like, but I can’t count those. Argo jumps in at number 44, and this one I really didn’t get. It’s not an overly interesting story, it’s embellished for dramatic purposes within an inch of its life without ever becoming dramatic or tense, and it feels like ‘one of those Oscar movies’ designed for no purpose beyond winning the Oscar. It’s not bad – it’s just boring, predictable, and hits every ‘seen it all before’ box I can think of.

Singin’ In The Rain. The first musical. One of the most famous and successful musicals of all time, from the Golden Age of Cinema. But it’s balls. It’s so iconic that no-one actually remembers what the film is about – just Gene Kelly splashing about in the gutter with an umbrella. It’s actually about the film business itself, and we know Hollywood loves movies about itself. But it’s a romantic comedy, it’s a musical, and those two things almost never work for me unless there’s something unique or personal to me. I understand why so many people love it of course, I’m not that obtuse, but there’s nothing here for me beyond saying I’ve seen it.

Casablanca is heralded as one of the best movies of all time. I’m the one idiot who goes against the grain. I just don’t like it very much. I like most of the cast, but I like their other films more. I don’t like the music, I don’t think much of the story, and I can’t stand the dialogue. ‘Here’s looking at you, kid?’ What the balls does that even mean? Why does Rick say it roughly four hundred times during the film? Shots fired, eh?

Dunkirk… I really should like it, right? I do, but it’s not as good as I hoped it would be. In the end it feels more like an experiment than a movie. I’ve seen it once, and unlike most of Nolan’s other work, it’s not one I feel the need to ever watch again. The performances, in most cases, don’t get room to breathe and while I understand that it’s an ensemble about soldiers and ordinary people being forced into extraordinary acts, it strangely didn’t move me. I liked it, but more as a critic than a fan, and I value fan preference more highly.

ET strangely endures over time. It’s the sentimentality and the music and the creature design all combined with that timeless 80s quality made at a time when Spielberg was at his best. Yet, I enjoy the pretty terrible Mac And Me more. Mac And Me is not a good film, ET is, but that doesn’t change how I feel. I don’t have anything bad to say about ET – it’s just one I feel was overrated at the time and has continued to be unnecessarily successful over time.

Get Out is the sixth most highly rated movie of all time. I liked Get Out, a lot actually, but not to this extent. That’s saying it’s better than The Exorcist, The Shining, Halloween, Dawn Of The Dead, A Nightmare On Elm Street, and that’s just within the horror genre. It’s not better than any of those films, and it’s still too recent to truly gauge how good it is. Then, bizarrely at number 2, is Lady Bird. The second best movie of all time? For me it probably wasn’t even the second best movie released that month. It’s one of the few movies on the list I have reviewed on the blog and while I think it is a nice, sweet, modern coming of age story, I don’t think it comes close to films like Stand By Me or Lucas, or The Kings Of Summer. 

There we go, quite a few surprises I would assume, especially for regular visitors to my blog who may assume I love all the classics. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate any of these – life’s too short to hate movies, but neither is there any I strongly dislike. Singin In The Rain is probably the closest to a strong dislike, mainly because of my misgivings about musicals, but as I mentioned above I understand why it is so beloved, versus something like Lady Bird which I liked, but don’t understand why it has so much love. What does any of this mean? Not a lot really – it tells me that most users and reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes are overly invested in new movies, which I kind of knew anyway, while reinforcing my belief that you should stretch your viewing net as far and wide as possible – backwards in time and across the globe – to find movies to enjoy.

Next time up, I’ll take a look at some of the lowest rated movies and find out if I enjoy any of those. For now, let us know in the comments which highly rated movies (according to RT or otherwise) you disagree with or don’t like!

TTT – Top 10 Wes Craven Movies

Greetings, Glancers! It’s been a minute (do the kidz still say that?) since I’ve squeezed out one of these, but luckily I’ve had a lot of fibre recently and things are moving again, if you take my meaning. Wes Craven is one of my favourite directors of all time but I’ll be the first to admit he’s made a lot of rubbish over the years. He’s one of my favourites because when his films are good, they are second to none. There’s basically three tiers to Craven movies – Iconic, okay, and crap. Most people agree on what’s iconic, everyone disagrees on what’s crap/okay. No matter where you stand, there’s no doubting his place in horror, inventing or reinventing pieces of the genre at least three times, and providing us with some of the best scares, best villains, best heroes, and best movies in horror history.

10. The People Under The Stairs

It’s true to say that most people love this more than I do. I like it, but I don’t have the nostalgic connection to it which most fans have. My favourite thing about it is the Twin Peaks connection – Wendy Robie and Everett McGill star again as another unusual pairing. The story and the film, are fairly unique, but then again we’re talking late 80s, early 90s horror – a time when anything goes, so when we’re talking about a ghetto kid trying to save his family from being evicted by a pair of murderous landlords and their cannibal children, you know you’re on safe enough territory. It’s certainly funny, it’s borders on outright weird, you’d never see anything like it getting made today, and there’s plenty of gore.

9. Swamp Thing

This little seen action/comedy/horror hybrid is well worth a watch for anyone bored with today’s superhero stories and want something a little different. This is certainly a little different, Craven this time dealing with more established stars and a bigger budget than his earlier 70s work. While campy and not going for the jugular as he had been known for, this still has plenty of violence and sexy times and features genre favourites Adrienne Barbeau and Ray Wise.

8. Red Eye

A late in the game box office and critical success for Craven, this is a surprisingly straight, taut, and effective thriller which holds up well today. Featuring reliable performers Rachel McAdams, Cillian Murphy, and Brian Cox it is another entry in the ‘bad shit happens on a plane’ sub-genre. It has the twists of Scream without the meta stuff and plays out like a modern Hitchcock film, cranking up the tension until the climax. This gets straight to the point, plays its game with no chaff, and remains gripping throughout.

7. The Hills Have Eyes

Here’s an interesting one – I much prefer the remake of this. Craven’s ideas are solid and the story and characters all in place, but it lacks the budget and power to be executed fully. The remake has the money and conviction and it is wonderfully brutal in all the most delightful ways. Still, this is the original and therefore worth giving due attention and respect. Like his previous film, this works as a nightmare scenario of US family values, of how simply and quickly the perfect family can devolve into gruesome violence. The film follows the extended Carter family on a road trip who take a wrong turn and end up being picked off by another family – albeit deformed cannibals. The invention and wit and energy here tends to surpass most modern horror but is only defeated by the lack of money to fully pull off everything required to make it perfect.

6. Scream 3

Often seen as the weakest in the series, while that may be true it always holds a special place in my heart. It was the first in the series I saw in the Cinema and brought along my girlfriend at the time who was also a series fan. The ideas were wearing thin at this point, but there are enough trilogy smarts and in jokes to still make it a fun ride. With Neve, Courtney, David and co all returning, that affinity with the characters is still present and I enjoy the callbacks to the previous entries. The series remains one of the best written and fun in horror, and it’ll always be dear to me, even if it isn’t a patch on Part 1.

5. Music Of The Heart

I imagine I’ll get a lot of heat for this one, but for some reason I’ve always enjoyed the ‘tough kids get won over by teacher’ movies. I don’t know why, but they give me a kick. To see Wes Craven making one, to see Wes Craven directing a Meryl Streep movie, is still hilarious to me, and I think he pulls it off. Sure, there isn’t an original bone in its body, but it proves that Craven can work completely outside horror and make an effective light-hearted drama. Streep even got nominated for an Oscar, as did the title track, but it was a box office flop. It’s a little overlong and probably came out a few years too late, but it’s still one of my under the radar favourites.

4. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

Craven’s first experiment with meta or post modern horror or whatever the hell you want to call it, sees him returning to his most famous franchise and ostensibly releasing his most feared creation upon the real world. New Nightmare’s set up is that Heather Langenkamp – Nancy from the original movie – is married and has a son, and that the boy’s nightmares about Freddy are somehow bringing the clawed killer into the real world. This means we have various actors, writers, and directors playing themselves while being stalked by Kruger. It’s clever, and it’s violent, with Robert Englund playing himself, playing traditional Freddy, and playing the all new, more vicious Freddy.

3. The Last House On The Left

Englund’s first impact on the horror scene was this low budget exploitation movie about a family resorting to revenge and torture upon the rapists and killers who did the same to their daughters. It’s a film of two halves, each half complementing the other while advancing the plot and showing how violence begets violence. The first half follows a couple of teenage girls heading to a concert but who are attacked by a group of killers, the second finds the killers accidentally stopping off at the parent’s house and seeing the tables turned. It’s not an easy watch and Craven doesn’t hold back in his depictions of torture, rape, and murder. The remake ups the budget and gore and makes for an interesting companion piece, but for me it lacks the gut punch and shock of the original.

2. Scream

My top two picks aren’t going to surprise anyone. Scream is a perfect film in my eyes. I understand why others will disagree with me and I’m not so blind to agreeing with its criticism, but that doesn’t change how I feel about it. It’s my generation’s horror movie and even though I was 13 or 14 when it released it still felt like it was made for me. I understood most of the references, I loved the twists, I recognised most of the characters in myself and people I knew, the dialogue was sharp, and the cast was peppered with people I either already loved or would come to. It gave us two new horror icons in killer Ghostface and heroine Sydney, played by my other world wife Neve Campbell. It’s funny, stylish, and has some great scares and kills, and it’s a movie I’ll never tire of.

  1. A Nightmare on Elm Street

The only film which could beat Scream is my favourite horror movie of all time. This is the one which got me into horror, even before I’d watched it. I knew Kruger, I knew the plot, and I’d seen bits of it when I was a child, and the artwork in the video stores always intrigued me. It’s one of Craven’s most successful movies, it’s his best work, his most inventive, and it is even critically acclaimed to a certain degree – not always unusual for horror, but definitely rate for one so visceral. The film and its villain gained iconic status leading to a long series of spin-offs and sequels, none of which have matched the skill and precision of the original. Langenkamp and Englund are terrific, the effects are nightmarish, and the idea of someone stalking your dreams (for the sins of your parents no less) remains potent. Horror often bleeds into fantasy, but I don’t think it was ever worked so successfully than with this undoubted masterpiece.

Let us know in the comments which movies you would include in your Top Ten Wes Craven list!

2019 In Film – A Preview – September

It: Chapter 2

One of my favourite books, I enjoyed Chapter 1, and this sequel will focus on the adult version of the kids from Chapter 1, thirty years later. The first one was quite funny, though lighter on scares than most wanted, it’ll be interesting to see how that balance works out this time around.

Downton Abbey

I don’t watch the show, I don’t do period costume dramas, I can’t stand monarchy or titled stuff, and Maggie Smith pisses me off. I’ll never see this.

Spies In Disguise

Another Blue Sky Studios animation – they’ve been successful but I cant say I’ve ever been interested in any of them. This one has Will Smith as a Man In Black or Inspector Gadget or something.

The Kitchen

If it’s not Banana Yoshimoto, I’m not interested. It’s another Melissa McCarthy movie, but wait! It’s a serious one this time, also starring Elizabeth Moss and Tiffany Hadish. Seems similar to Widows – wives of criminals take over from where the husbands left off. I’d be more keen with a different cast and I’m not a big fan of Irish crime movies anyway.

Abominable

I’m always concerned when you give your movie or book or album a name like that. It’s just begging for lazy critics to use it in a damning review, right?

The Hunt

I’ve no idea, there seems to be a tonne of different movies and shows called The Hunt coming out this year.

The Art Of Racing In The Rain

I enjoyed the book when it was released and always wondered how it could be translated to film given that it’s through the eyes of a dog. Decent cast, not a director I’m interested in.

Judy

If it ain’t a Twin Peaks spin off, I ain’t interested. It’s not, but it is a Judy Garland, one of the first stories of a child star’s torrid transition to adulthood. Plus she’s one of the most famous movie stars of all time. I’m not a massive Garland fan and these types of films tend to hit the same notes, pander to the Awards too much, but do offer good performances. On the casting side, Renee Zellweger would have been one of my last picks for this, but the more I think about it there definitely is a visual similarity. Recent Biopics really go all in on making the actor look as close to the real life counterpart as possible, so Renee’s resemblance will help. I like Rufus Sewell, but overall it doesn’t look like the sort of cast to make a huge splash. The Director is used to exactly this sort of thing – it just so happens that it’s not my sort of thing.

Which films are you looking forward to? Let us know in the comments!

2019 In Film – A Preview – August

I’m back from a break from posting these – I wrote all 12 posts in December so by the time I post this I may have more information on the films below, but I haven’t updated anything from the original post.

Fast And Furious Presents: Hobbs And Shaw

Fast And Furious Presents? I’ve no idea what that means. I haven’t seen a single entry in the Fast And Furious series and I have absolutely no intention to, and I have no clue who Hobbs or Shaw are.

The New Mutants

An X-Men movie which focuses on mutants we don’t know and takes a horror-based approach? Sounds good. I’ve always felt that many of these comic book movies should be horror based – watching as your body changes in often horrific and unbelievable ways, leading to almost certain alienation from everyone and everything you’ve ever known. Sure you get some superpowers out of it, but not everyone is going to be able to fly or shoot fire from their ass. Surely most people are going to get more dubious powers like an extra four fingers, the ability to breath backwards, and the skill of seeing through (only) wood. Cast is good, director knows teen stuff.

Midsommar

Ari Aster’s follow-up to Hereditary. All in on this one. I love Will Poulter – still waiting on the big role in a big film to cement him, and Florence Pugh is there too. Sounds like more familial/relationship tension and dread.

Boss Level

This sounds exactly like the sort of junk I love – ex soldier somehow caught in a time loop and has to avoid being killed. So, like Groundhog Day but with guns and Mel Gibson. Naomi Watts is in the cast too and the director has a history of action with thriller elements.

Good Boys

Coming of age kids story which would have worked in the 80s. These don’t always work now, but there’s always potential and they tend to have a nostalgic charm which covers any cracks for me. It’s about a group of kids trying to fix a broken toy before their parents find out, presumably getting into some scrapes along the way. Probably needs more pirates or zombies to get me fully invested, but we’ll see. Directors don’t fill me with confidence.

Dora The Explorer

The series is one of the most irritating shows ever created, but it’s for pre-schoolers. Is the same? Either way, I don’t care.

Artemis Fowl

Is this a Harry Potter character? Or some other book series? Directed by Branagh whose stuff is always worth seeing.

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark

I haven’t read much about this but I’m hoping it’s a genuine anthology movie because those almost never get a full widespread release. I assume they’ll go more the Goosebumps route. Lets actually try to scare the audience though.

The Angry Birds Movie 2

I’ve kind of seen the first one as my kids have watched it several times. Diminishing returns for cynical cash-ins is the norm.

Playmobil The Movie

A movie based around the toys for people who were too stupid for Lego? It’s a pretty dreadful cast outside of Anya Taylor-Joy and I can’t see this being anywhere near as good as The Lego Movie

Angel Has Fallen

Looks like another one of those Has Fallen movies – I haven’t seen any of the others, but imagine they’re passable dumb action movies featuring Gerard Butler shouting at things.

Overcomer

Another Christian Faith drama. Won’t be seeing.

Which of these will you be seeing? Let us know in the comments!

2019 In Film – A Preview – July

Annabelle 3

The first one wasn’t great and I haven’t seen the second one. These must still be making money – not a surprise when they’re cheap to make, but this will almost certainly be more loud jump-scares and little else.

Spider-Man: Far From Home

I’ve seen the Raimi trilogy, but haven’t seen any since. Was there another trilogy before this latest series? Or just a couple of films? I’m sure I’ll get to them one day.

17 Bridges

A cop thriller with a cat and mouse chase around Manhattan. They could go classy on this and make it like Sicario or more likely it could be like a TV movie or stretched TV episode. The cast is okay – only Keith David really stands out to me as someone to get me interested, and the director is mainly known for his TV work.

Stuber

Looks like a modern buddy movie – I don’t think many of these have worked recently and this will most likely go the same way. When these work they’re always entertaining, and it will be cool seeing Bautista and Iko Uwais going toe to toe. Director Michael Dowse has so far directed the sorts of comedies I actively avoid so I can’t see this being too hot.

The Lion King

Yet another Disney remake and yet another ‘why’. I’m not as precious about The Lion King as some people are, but beyond money there is no reason for this to exist. I’m sure it can’t possibly capture the magic of the original – like any of these remakes – but it’ll be pretty to look at.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

The big one. Tarantino’s movies have been more on the average side for me recently, not since Inglorious Basterds. Django was okay, and The Hateful Eight was probably his weakest. This is the film he has wanted to make for years and it’s the one fans like me have wanted to see. I’d rather he made this in his early days than now, and I’d rather it wasn’t related to the Manson stuff as that seems needlessly exploitative and I’m more interested in Tarantino’s vision of 60s/70s Hollywood.

Wish Dragon

I don’t know what this is, other than it is an animation with voice work by Jackie Chan.

Is that it? Where did all the movies go? Which ones are you looking forward to?

2019 In Film – A Preview – June

Dark Phoenix

The recent X-Men movies haven’t been as strong as the first two Bryan Singer ones – they’re still watchable, but they’re fairly forgettable and incoherent. I imagine this will be more of the same. It’ll tide them over before they decide to reboot it again or merge it all into one epic Marvel/DC/Beano nuke of crap.

The Secret Life Of Pets 2

I enjoyed the first one, my kids loved it… are animated sequels ever any good though?

Flarsky

Directed by Jonathan Levine who is very much hit and miss – often decent ideas as a writer, often generic or just plain bad in execution. This time around it sounds like a bad idea – loser chases successful woman he knew as a child. Romantic comedy stuff, with probably more ‘adult’ humour.

Men In Black International

I don’t think I ever saw the third one. Does International mean they’re looking at the different MIB agencies on each country? Does this mean Liam Neeson is going to be head of the Northern Ireland branch, headquarters in Ballymena? That would be possibly worth watching, if only to cringe at the accents.

Shaft

Seriously? Again? Why do we need this? Actually, this is sequel to the Sam Jackson one and sees all three generations of the Shaft family popping up, the story sounding like a standard murder mystery. Expect cool one-liners and the odd bit of action.

Toy Story 4

Like MIB, I don’t believe I ever saw Toy Story 3. I suppose I should. I like the other two, just not as in love with them as most people are.

Grudge

Speaking of reboots and remakes and sequels, is any franchise more confusing than The Grudge? It’s already been remade about twelve times. Shit, I still watch them, though I’m sure this is the final straw and will be rubbish.

Child’s Play

I’m not sure if we need a reboot of this especially as we have had plenty of sequels in the original series recently. I haven’t actually seen any past 3, but I always intended to. Same rules apply – kick him off a bridge and walk slowly away.

Untitled Danny Boyle/Richard Curtis Film

Oh fuck, it’s a musical, even if it is Danny Boyle. Keep it away from me. Far far away.

Ford Vs Ferrari

Remember what I said about food, horses, and dancing? The same applies for cars – don’t care.

Limited Partners

Two women from different backgrounds start a beauty company. All you need for this to be any less interesting to me would be a love for horses, food, or cars and have it be a musical. Director hasn’t made anything better than ‘just above average’ though I’ll watch Rose Byrne and Salma Hayek in any old shite. As you can guess, this is not for me.

47 Meters Down: Uncaged

The first wasn’t great, but if it has sharks and people being eaten by sharks then you don’t have to tell me twice.

All You Need Is Love

Ah ha! So this is actually the Unnamed Danny Boyle/Richard Curtis musical. At least the idea is interesting, and if it is actually about Beatles music then I may give it a shot. Just when you think it might be interesting, you see Ed Sheeran in the cast and want to rip your own skin off with a skull.

Which of the above films are you interested in? Let us know in the comments!

2019 In Film – A Preview – May

The Kid

Another Indie flick directed by Vincent D’Onforio, this time it’s a Western about Billy The Kid and Pat Garrett. We’ve seen that story on screen countless times now, but it looks like here it’s viewed through the eyes of some random child. For an Indie film there are a couple of big names starring – Ethan Hawke and Chris Pratt.

UglyDolls

This sounds like it could be terrible – an animation by Troublemaker Studios with voice ‘talent’ including Pitbull, Kelly Clarkson, a Jonas etc, based on a toy fad from 20 years ago. The music in the trailer is atrocious…. and that’s about it. One for the kids.

The Hustle

A remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Well, I didn’t like that film and it’s being directed by a semi-popular English stand-up comedian that I’m not too interested in. He’s starred in TV shows over here too, but none I’ve seen. Looks like they’re going the Ghostbusters remake and making it about the ladies. That worked well last time. Why not just create an original story? The only reason the original was interesting was because it was about old guys. This time it’s about the young and pretty. I have no reason in the world to see this beyond saying I’ve seen it.

Detective Pikachu

This caused a bit of a ruckus though? Not sure why. I’ve never played a proper Pokemon game so I have no attachment. It’ll probably be bad, but they might go The Lego Movie route and get lucky.

My Son

French film about a man searching for his son, directed by Christian Carion. He starred in Tell No One which I liked, and he directed Joyeux Noel which I liked. Plus, Melanie Laurent is in it, along with Guillaume Canet. This is actually a 2017 film, getting a US release now.

Wild Rose

Scottish singer dreams of being a star in Nashville. No thanks. I like Sophie Okonedo, but everyone else and everything thing else about this screams ‘avoid at all costs’ for me.

The Third Wife

So, the poster is supposed to be a bleeding vagina, right? Set in 19th Century Vietnam, which is something new to me and it’s about a young girl about to be married. Don’t know anything else about anyone involved.

John Wick 3

I haven’t seen the second, I liked the first, and I’m usually up for anything Keanu wants to do. More guns, more bad guys getting blasted to pieces, what more do you need?

The Sun Is Also A Star

The synopsis simply reads ‘a teenager finds love at a difficult time in her family’s life’. Directed, written, and starring mostly women I’m not familiar with so possibly a unique perspective or possibly more of the same.

Ad Astra

This one has been talked about for a while – a sci-fi thriller with Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland heading a large extended cast. It’s James Gray’s follow up to The Lost City Of Z which I thoroughly enjoyed so I’m hoping for more adventure and soft philosophical ruminations.

Aladdin

Another Disney remake and more howling of ‘why’ at the sky. I don’t see how they can improve upon the original, but that’s not really the point is it. This is nothing more than Disney showing off how rich they are, how fancy they can make a world look, and how much more money they can make off us. No doubt it will be perfectly serviceable, but why they would give a Muslim love story of magic and wonder to Cockney hack Guy Ritchie, who hasn’t had a hit in ever, is anyone’s guess.

Booksmart

Olivia Wilde’s feature directing debut. Unfortunately the plot sounds terrible – two smart girls realize they spent their time in school studying instead of ‘having fun’ and decide to pile in all the fun in one night. In other words – I don’t care.

Bright Burn

So, I’m writing all these Preview posts on the same day and in one of the later or earlier months there’s an X-Men spin off where I mention how superhero and horror movies seem like the perfect – no, that’s not the right word – seem like the correct crossover. It looks like we’re getting a few of these this year, with Brightburn looking like another. If studios are all playing this game then of course it means it’s going to get saturated pretty quickly, but this will be one of the first. Lets hope it’s not cheapened and they go full horror. I’m not a huge fan of Elizabeth Banks and don’t have a definite opinion on the rest of the cast, but I’m hoping for something good with this.

Minecraft: The Movie

I’ve never played the game, but you’d have to have been living under a block (heh) to know exactly what it is. I’m surprised it’s taken till now to cash in with a movie, but I’m also fairly certain there’s already been a TV series/movie on it. Surely the only question here is how bad it can actually be?

Godzilla: King Of The Monsters

I need to go back and watch Godzilla and Kong Island again – I liked them at the time but can remember very little about them. A director I like, a cast I like, and the trailer makes it look huge. lets hope the story is good and not just an excuse for big beasties to knock lumps out of each other.

Rocketman

I never liked the original… it was boring, too nicey nice. Only joking, this is Elton John we’re talking about, not the superhero. I’m not an Elton fan either so I’ll pass. Is this going to be the next thing – bios of 70s pop rock stars – after that Queen one? How long until they get to someone I’m actually interested in, like Alice Cooper or Led Zep? Never? I’m fine with that, cheers.

The Rosie Project

This has a long history, which has become gradually less inspiring – originally Jennifer Lawrence was attached, dropped out, Linklater was due to direct, turned it down, and now it’s all people you’ve never heard of. It’s a romance based on a hit Australian novel about a scientist who is useless with women who decides to make a questionnaire to assess how suitable each woman he meets is for him. In other words, this should be a horror movie, not a romance. Then again, we already have Audition, so good luck topping that. Won’t be seeing this.

Let us know which of the above movies you’ll excited about seeing!