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)
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
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.