Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Cory's Top 5 Most Overrated Films

Before I get into explaining my choices for most “overrated movies” (not in any particular and not necessarily the ones I see as being THE MOST overrated, but ones I think of most consistently as being overrated), I would like to explain what I mean by “overrated.” All of these movies are good, but in different ways. Just because they’re overrated doesn’t mean they’re “bad.” They just don’t deserve all of the awards, money, and/or attention that they generally get in the history of cinema or in recent memory. That being said, I’ll point out some of things I see each movie doing well, but overall why I think it still falls short of living up to being included in “best films of all time” lists.

5. Leon: The Professional (1994)

This is another film that gets a lot of attention for “firsts” or inspiring a genre or other movies. It brought Jean Reno attention, was Luc Besson’s big breakout film, and was Natalie Portman’s first starring role as a wee little girl of 13. It also holds a special place in the genre of assassin films and other action films involving protégés, especially. But if it came out today, you would think it was so stupid. Portman’s performance is incredibly annoying, the dialogue is atrocious (made me laugh out loud quite a few times), and Besson’s directing is over the top on about the same level or more as De Palma’s. Reno’s character is a general badass and I like him as an actor, but paring him with Portman makes it a fight between the two, and Portman’s annoying, whiny performance wins out in the end and becomes all you notice. The film’s one saving grace is the violent, crazed, maniac killer villain played ingeniously by Gary Oldman. Oldman can do just about anything, and he proves it here, but sadly, he’s not enough to save the entire film.

4. Scarface (1983)

I have to admit right up front that I am not a big fan of Brian de Palma. I think his style is annoying and overdramatic. The Untouchables was good, but on the brink of being not very good. Carlito’s Way is much better than Scarface, in my opinion, and features a helpful performance from Sean Penn to anchor the film in something besides Al Pacino, unlike Scarface. De Palma may have paved the way in film as far as violence and other extremes go, but that’s no excuse for the mayhem of acting, dialogue, and script that is Scarface. Pacino just screams all the time (like normal) and goes from one bloody situation to the next with pointless dialogue in between. And the soundtrack, DEAR GOD. De Palma’s soundtracks are the WORST. I don’t understand why Tony Montana is such a role model for people who consider themselves “gangsters” or tough guys of any kind. Sure, he kills a bunch of people in the, but he also DIES while doing it and making a bunch of terrible decisions along the way while being perpetually unhappy and hated by everyone. Sounds great to me! And if you thought The English Patient was long, this one is 170 minutes! Just terrible.

3. The English Patient (1996)

You want the definition of an overblown, boring Oscar winner? Here it is. Anthony Minghella’s sprawling epic based on the Michael Ondaajte’s novel of the same name stars Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas in a story set in Africa, told through a badly burned man in Italy during WWII to Juliette Binoche, about an affair that took place back in the 1930s. What enfolds is a melodramatic, overacted story about two people you don’t really care about. Clocking in at 162 minutes, I found myself readily looking forward to the ending even as (!SPOILER ALERT!) Ralph Fiennes stumbles out of a cave in the Sahara carrying the dead body of his love, sobbing uncontrollably. I’ve heard the novel is much better than the film, and I am incline to check it out, but the bad memory of this film keeps me from really wanting to do so. I don’t have many good things to say about this film except that it has some lovely scenery/cinematography. And that’s about it.

2. The Artist (2011)

Honestly, I think people figured out that it was “cool” and “cultured” to say that you saw a silent film in 2011 and “liked” it. Granted, there is a lot to be said about the transition from silent cinema to sound in terms of history, theory, culture, technology, etc., but The Artist barely skims the surface. What director/writer Michel Hazanavicius did was copy to a T all of the things that silent cinema is known for. The Artist is a straight up tribute to the genre and time period which means that it’s not very creative. At all. Hazanavicius simply had to mimic all of those things in a story that has been played out in many real life biographies such as Buster Keaton of the silent cinema star who lost all fame and fortune and became nothing (except The Artist cheats and adds a happy ending). Don’t get me wrong, it is still a charming and interesting film to watch, but too easy in terms of its creation and marketing.

1. Jurassic Park (1993)

Let me just start by saying I never understood the popularity of this film. Sure, dinosaurs, Jeff Goldblum, and “Clever girl!”, but what else is there besides that? The acting isn’t very good, the dialogue is cheesy, and the story is incredibly simple. “So they all go to an ISLAND (so they’re stuck), and the dinosaurs get out!” That’s it. In my mind, this is one of those movies that belongs in the lexicon of special effects breakthroughs. The CGI for the dinosaurs was a first for its time, and very impressive, at the time. Nowadays, it doesn’t look very good, and you start to notice all the other things that’s wrong with it. Jurassic Park makes for an entertaining ride with some well-directed, intense scenes, but beyond that, it’s about as forgettable as any Summer blockbuster that everyone goes to see for a month but doesn’t remember when the next round of blockbusters comes along.

Cory Volk is an English Literature Major at Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA, with a double minor in Film studies and Technical Writing. He loves a great glass of Scotch paired with an even better film, and his favorite director is Terrence Malick.


  1. I couldn't help but notice the glaring errors in your short bio, especially for a self-described "English Literature Major." "Literature" and "Major" should not be capitalized. Same with "Film" and "Technical Writing" unless you are referring to specific named programs. I'm also wondering why you chose to neglect the incorrect capitalization of "studies" when you incorrectly capitalized both "Film," and "Technical Writing." If you're going to do something wrong, at least be consistent about it. You make English students look bad by association. Also, you look like a complete douchenozzle in your photo. I can see now why you are attending the prestigious Western Washington University instead of a real school. But good call with Jurassic Park. That movie always had a weird made-for-TV quality to it.

    1. I suppose going to a "real school" results in searching the web for English errors and trolling blogs like an asshole. It doesn't seem like you care all that much about making English majors look bad.