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The Wrath

most over/under-rated movies

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Over-rated

Pulp Fiction. I thought it was a horriable waste of my time and I was told that the point of the movie was that it had no point. :P Anything made by Quentin Tarantino is usually a load of shit on principle.

Under-rated

Vanilla Sky, The Fountain, Sunshine, Cloverfield...

Can't think of anymore off the top of my head.

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I ask again: what are they?

I don't see how you can watch this movie and still have to ask this question:

  • What is real?
  • How can I trust my senses?
  • How do I know I'm not a brain in a vat?
  • How do I know I'm not being manipulated by the Evil Genie?
  • Do I have free will, or am I destined for a certain path?
  • If someone tells me the future, does that actually determine the future's outcome?

These are just a few. You can disagree with the answers the movie provides, if you wish, but people of my generation sure as hell weren't thinking about these things before the movie came out.

I don't see that. There is no question as to what's real, once Laurence Fishbourne reveals the deception the lead character has been living under.

The fact that "the real" is revealed pretty early is irrelevant. It still raises the question of how we can be sure we aren't in a fake world.

No, but I do remember being a teenager. Some things can have a deep impact on one's life at that point. I did read Rand while in my teens, for example, and that impact was deep and lasting. But at that age fads are much more common. So, does your generation still discusses philosophy seriously?

I don't know if they do or not, but I don't doubt that there are some people my age who are deeper thinkers than they would have been otherwise. I took 2 philosophy classes in college, and both utilized extensive discussion of The Matrix...and the class got very involved in the discussions.

Now, if that kind of effect was a consequence of the movie, that's good. but it doesn't make "The Matrix" a good movie, much less a great one, any more than Star Trek can be deemed good because it's inspired people to pursue careers in aerospace and engineering.

I wouldn't call it a "great" movie, and I don't think many people would suggest that it is. But it is still a good movie that changed the way science fiction is made and revitalized the dystopian genre.

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I think that the idea behind the Matrix is very interesting and that it could in principle be the basis of a great film. Unfortunately they botched it and made it into a third rate action movie.

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... Sunshine ...

I saw that. It could have been really good. But they had to go and Event Horizon it up at the end. Blah.

~Q

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I don't see how you can say this. Movie-making has just changed as time has moved on. Modern audiences often think old movies to be boring because of how slow-paced they are, as you seem to do. I disagree though...I love movies that take a long time to tell a story. Some of my favorite movies are long movies that move very slow...Lawrence of Arabia comes to mind. I think it's a telling sign of our culture that most audiences are too impatient to sit through a movie that takes its time to tell a rich and involving story, and instead celebrates movies made by the likes of Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer, who rely on nothing but cheap thrills and action sequences.

I love rich and long books. I love rich and long movies. I don't love long and shallow movies. I don't love slow and shallow movies. Most older movies that I have seen fall into one of those two categories.

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These are just a few. You can disagree with the answers the movie provides, if you wish, but people of my generation sure as hell weren't thinking about these things before the movie came out.

I still don't see it. Largely because:

The fact that "the real" is revealed pretty early is irrelevant. It still raises the question of how we can be sure we aren't in a fake world.

The fact that "reality" is revealed at all is relevant. It establishes what's what beyond doubt. It settles any possible question about metaphysics, assuming such questions were even valid to begin with.

Now, you may recall the final scenes of the two "Men In Black" movies. One reveals the universe to be a marble held by a gigantic alien child. The second reveals Earth to be inside a locker ins some alien train station. Now, would you call those scenes deep philosophical questions about the nature of the Universe and Earth's place in it, or mere gags without consequence? Well, the fantasy world in "Matrix" is merely a plot twist.

Oh, BTW, if you want a much better treatment about what's real and what isn't, as far as SF goes, I suggest two Star Trek The Next Generation Episodes, "Frame of Mind," and "The Inner Light." Also an ep from Deep Space Nine called "Whispers."

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I saw that. It could have been really good. But they had to go and Event Horizon it up at the end. Blah.

~Q

Yeah, but the good guys won in Sunshine and it wasn't all horror for the sake of horror like Event Horizon was. In fact, I rate EH as one of the worst films ever because of the malevolent universe thing. I think Sunshine is the better approach. And the villian being religious was a good touch.

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There are, realistically, many neighborhoods in the US like that, where the police barely even come if 911 is called.

Out of curiosity, what evidence do you have to support that? Also, what do you mean by "barely even come"?

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Out of curiosity, what evidence do you have to support that? Also, what do you mean by "barely even come"?

My friends who grew up in such neighborhoods. And by "barely even come", I mean that they'll show up when they get around to it, long after the shooting's stopped or they could have possibly helped anyone. Basically after the point where they might possibly have to do anything because it's a "blighted neighborhood". Shoot, I know some neighborhoods like that where they aren't even that bad! My coworker lives in a little development in an otherwise tourist-trap town. Because some bad stuff (unrelated to her) happens in her project, she says when she calls for any kind of services, be they municipal, utilities, etc. good luck getting them to come on time, if at all. People in bad neighborhoods get crapped on and that's a fact.

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My friends who grew up in such neighborhoods.

I know this is off-topic so I won't belabor this issue here but I'll simply give a small "police side" to this perspective.

My experience on the police side is that we spend the majority of our time in the neighborhoods with the most problems. I've also heard many complaints about the police "never showing up" when I can factually go to the GPS system and see that an officer responded to a neighborhood. I think many times that is because a person didn't personally see the police (and they weren't even looking out their window the whole time) they just assume that the police didn't come.

As to showing up late, frequently this is because of the amount of calls for service they have to handle and the manner in which they are prioritized.

In short, I'm highly skeptical of claims that "the police never show up" or that they don't even patrol certain neighborhoods. Typically they come from people who have an unrealistic expectation that the police will be right there right when the crime is occurring (i.e. "Where were you when my brother was getting shot?") Granted, I'm not claiming that it NEVER happens, but based on my experience the opposite claims are frequently exaggerated, made out of ignorance, and the actual occurences are rare.

Edited by RationalBiker
grammar corrections

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But it is still a good movie that changed the way science fiction is made and revitalized the dystopian genre.

Actually, many early science fiction books, movies and TV shows largely consisted of moral/ethical/philosophical questions. If the Matrix changed anything, it changed it back to something closer to earlier science fiction work rather than taking it into a new arena.

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Over-Rated:

The Blair Witch Project: It gets points for utilizing an original style, but all in all the movie was depressingly uneventful and flat-out stupid.

Superbad: It could really be redeemed if instead of calling itself a comedy it admitted to being a disturbing look at the nihilistic, un-educated, and dreadfully unprepared-for-life youth of America, but it isn't. It's just a stupid teen comedy with way too many dick and ball jokes.

Donny Darko: This movie is often called very deep and philosophical, but after viewing it twice I'm convinced it's nothing but a loose Naturalist plot about a disturbed teenager peppered with ridiculous symbolism and stoner-logic. The director still hasn't redeemed himself as his follow-up film Southland Tales is nothing but a laughable exercise in being oblivious to politics. I hope he chokes on his bong water before he releases another god-awful pile of crap on the silver screen.

The Entire Saw Series: Okay, so the first movie was a gritty, disturbing horror flick which was somewhat believable if you convinced yourself that all the characters were complete idiots. The later films just got more and more ridiculous and impossible to believe once the director realized that the only reason people saw the first one is because of all the screaming, blood, and gore.

Under-Rated:

Manic: Powerful, resonant, and deeply impacting. Raw, unmistakable torrents of emotion are exchanged between the characters both silently and brutally. Maybe it just means more to me because I spent some time in a similar institution myself, but this will always be one of my favorite movies.

[Rec]: This is what everyone expected and wanted from Blair Witch. The viewer is really pulled into the terror, unlike other first-person movies where you feel more like an up-close but passive observer. This is the kind of quality I look for in a horror movie: engaging the whole way through without using cheap tricks, and deeply resonant at the end so you can't sleep so easily the night after watching :). They are making an English remake called Quarantine, I hope it's just as good as the original.

Bug: This is an odd one. I picked it up out of desperation, the selection at my local rental place can be pretty bad sometimes. I was truly impressed. It's not a story with a lot of characters, action, or even dialogue but it's still good. Really it's just a story of a paranoid schizophrenic man and the positive and ultimately quite negative effects he has on a few less-than-interesting people, but it works so well. I've never seen a film which portrayed the nightmarish effects of losing touch with reality than this.

Equilibrium: An old favorite of mine. Taking many cues from the Matrix, it's an action dystopia with philosophical roots. It's the story of an elite cop enforcing the rules in a fascist society where emotion is a crime punishable by death. After missing a dose of the mandatory emotion-killing drug forced on every civilian, he begins to understand the beauty of art, music, and eventually love, after which he has no choice but to bring down the robotic collectivist regime. It's basically an homage to The Matrix but without the wishy-washy philosophical subtext, awful sequels, or Keanu Reeves. Thereby making it far superior in my opinion.

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Over-Rated:

The Blair Witch Project: It gets points for utilizing an original style, but all in all the movie was depressingly uneventful and flat-out stupid.

I rather liked this one. However, not sure if we come from different perspectives but I can relate to possibility of getting really lost in the woods and how that might tax someone's ability to remain calm over time. Throwing the potential of the crazy wilderness cult didn't add much to the movie in my opinion. Also, I would say it was difficult to get real attached to any of the characters, particularly the girl. Still, I thought the build in suspense was well timed.

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I need to second Equilibrium being a fantastic movie. I really enjoyed it. I especially liked the part where we find out his son and daughter don't take their medicine either but they have been doing such an amazing job of faking that they fooled the father into thinking they were basically spying on him.

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I consider almost all movies made before 1970 or so over-rated. I know some people love the "classics" but I find them terribly boring and slow paced. They seem simplisitic in every way. I just don't think movie making as an art was refined enough to be called good until the 1970s or later.

This isn't to say that all movies made since then are good, just that almost everything made before then is bad. Dr. Strangelove is the only exception to that date that I have seen, and it was 1964.

Okay, I'll name a few movies made prior to 1970 that I thought were good. These are just a few:

2001 A Space Odessy 1968

Planet of the Apes 1968

The Forbidden Planet 1956

The Day the Earth Stood Still 1951

The Good The Bad and the Ugly 1966

The Great Escape 1963

The Guns of Navarone 1961

Flight of the Phoenix 1965

The Court Jester 1955

Casablanca 1942

The Wizard of Oz 1939

Horsefeathers 1932

I honestly didn't like Dr. Strangelove all that much. The characters were too ridiculous for me.

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It wasn't until I got a chance to really sit down and watch some older (pre-1960) movies that I actually began to realize just how stock and undeveloped most movie characters are nowadays. The *acting* in many cases is almost nonexistant.

Asking whether a given movie is over or under rated kind of begs the question of "rated by whom, and for what?" though. Most of the movies I actually like are still probably overrated--by the hype machine.

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I actually really love The Patriot. It's one of my top favorite movies. Other underrated movies (ok maybe just my favorites) are Meet Joe Black, Crimson Tide, The Quick and the Dead, Victor/Victoria, and Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (particularly that last one).

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It wasn't until I got a chance to really sit down and watch some older (pre-1960) movies that I actually began to realize just how stock and undeveloped most movie characters are nowadays. The *acting* in many cases is almost nonexistant.

What about diction?

Asking whether a given movie is over or under rated kind of begs the question of "rated by whom, and for what?" though.

In the context of this discussion it would probably have been better to say "movies too popular and movies not popular enough." But that's unwidely and retains ambiguity. I define over-rated as a movie that's praised by people in general and/or critics more than it deserves. Under-rated would be the opposite, as well as movies that get ignored or overlooked.

Most of the movies I actually like are still probably overrated--by the hype machine.

I'd call that over-hyped. These days every movie, including B-movie quality hack-jobs, is praised as the best movie ever made. But an over-hyped bomb at the box office is not over-rated, though it might be under-rated.

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I consider almost all movies made before 1970 or so over-rated. I know some people love the "classics" but I find them terribly boring and slow paced. They seem simplisitic in every way. I just don't think movie making as an art was refined enough to be called good until the 1970s or later.

This isn't to say that all movies made since then are good, just that almost everything made before then is bad.

Are you basing this on Hollywood stuff, or are you including the films of Bresson, Tarkovsky, Bergman, etc? I think that most popular American films are fairly shallow when it comes to philosophical/conceptual issues regardless of which decade youre in, so I could definitely understand if you think that 'classics' like Citizen Kane/Metropolis/etc are overrated since they tend to rely on visual effects and technical stuff which isnt as impressive now as it was back then since its a lot easier to do these days as technology has developed. But I really dont see how you could make the same argument about (largely European) art films such as Persona, The Pickpocket, or Roshomon, which are highly conceptual and pretty much timeless.

Theres no way someone today watching Star Wars/Jaws could appreciate it in the way that someone watching it back in 1970 did, since a lot of these film's popularity lay in the blockbuster special effects which have been surpassed by modern CGI, but that only shows that films which rely on special effects become dated much faster than ones which rely on interesting treatment of concepts, cinematography, etc.

Edited by eriatarka

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I consider almost all movies made before 1970 or so over-rated. I know some people love the "classics" but I find them terribly boring and slow paced. They seem simplisitic in every way. I just don't think movie making as an art was refined enough to be called good until the 1970s or later.

This isn't to say that all movies made since then are good, just that almost everything made before then is bad. Dr. Strangelove is the only exception to that date that I have seen, and it was 1964.

Hmm. I think almost everything made _after_ 1970 was over-rated or worse (frequently approaching if not exceeding "anti-art").

Movie makers have dispensed with plot, replaced purposeful dialog with stream of consciousness babbling, replaced heroes with anti-heroes, replaced thoughtful, important themes with invitations to navel staring and saying "Oh wow, man" and replaced pretty much everything else with mindless action. There are exceptions, but overall the aesthetic level of movies since 1970 or even 1960 is very, very low compared to before then.

I think that should be unsurprising, in fact expected. There is no way philosophic corruption of the sort that produced James Joyce's "Ulysses", "modern abstract art" and the hippie culture of the 1960's could leave movie making untouched - it just took longer than it did for other art forms.

Here are some examples of what I consider to be fine examples of pre-1970 movie making. Gee, as it turns out, they're all pre-1960:

"Queen Christina", 1934

"The Prisoner of Zenda", 1937

"Only Angels Have Wings", 1939

"The Four Feathers", 1939

"Ninotchka", 1939

"This Land is Mine", 1943

"The Winslow Boy", 1950

""High Noon", 1952

"Shane", 1952

"Twelve Angry Men", 1957

"The Big Country", 1958

"Rio Bravo", 1958

There are hundreds more like these that I have seen but don't have their titles handy. My personal favorite is "This Land is Mine" for the superlative speech the Charles Laughton character gives near the end.

Mark Peters

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It wasn't until I got a chance to really sit down and watch some older (pre-1960) movies that I actually began to realize just how stock and undeveloped most movie characters are nowadays. The *acting* in many cases is almost nonexistant.

Asking whether a given movie is over or under rated kind of begs the question of "rated by whom, and for what?" though. Most of the movies I actually like are still probably overrated--by the hype machine.

This isn't entirely fair.

Most older movies are just as bad as most contemporary movies.

The fact that you, right now, are watching an older movie means that it is one of the ones that is good enough that people actually remember it. All the rest are forgotten.

I think the top of contemporary movies are on par with the older movies that remembered (i.e. the top of older movies).

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Hmm. I think almost everything made _after_ 1970 was over-rated or worse (frequently approaching if not exceeding "anti-art").

Movie makers have dispensed with plot, replaced purposeful dialog with stream of consciousness babbling, replaced heroes with anti-heroes, replaced thoughtful, important themes with invitations to navel staring and saying "Oh wow, man" and replaced pretty much everything else with mindless action. There are exceptions, but overall the aesthetic level of movies since 1970 or even 1960 is very, very low compared to before then.

I think that should be unsurprising, in fact expected. There is no way philosophic corruption of the sort that produced James Joyce's "Ulysses", "modern abstract art" and the hippie culture of the 1960's could leave movie making untouched - it just took longer than it did for other art forms.

Here are some examples of what I consider to be fine examples of pre-1970 movie making. Gee, as it turns out, they're all pre-1960:

"Queen Christina", 1934

"The Prisoner of Zenda", 1937

"Only Angels Have Wings", 1939

"The Four Feathers", 1939

"Ninotchka", 1939

"This Land is Mine", 1943

"The Winslow Boy", 1950

""High Noon", 1952

"Shane", 1952

"Twelve Angry Men", 1957

"The Big Country", 1958

"Rio Bravo", 1958

There are hundreds more like these that I have seen but don't have their titles handy. My personal favorite is "This Land is Mine" for the superlative speech the Charles Laughton character gives near the end.

Mark Peters

You'll note that your cutoff is about when Hollywood started having to compete with television.

When television started being able to make and air good inexpensive shows, Hollywood couldn't really market a solid little movie anymore. So Hollywood started going for what TV couldn't do: expensive productions, lots of extras, in short spectacle.

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Alec Guiness hated the movie so much that it was actually his idea to have Obi Wan Kenobi killed, so that he would only have to make brief appearances in the other two.

What is your source for this claim? Nobody but Lucas' closest friends saw the movie a few months before the release, and at that time most of the special effects, and even the score and some sound effects were still missing. Are you saying that he read the script, thought it was terrible, decided to do the film anyway as long as he was whacked, and given small roles in the next two films? Are you saying he saw it after the release but forced it to be remade? Saw the movie in the middle of making it and had his part refilmed? How did he have an opinion of the movie before he saw it?

Are you saying that in the middle of filming he decided the film sucked (not very characteristic of Alec Guiness) and convinced George Lucas to change his script accordingly (absolutely, positively not something George Lucas would ever do).

Now in Alec Guiness' autobiography, written shortly before he passed away, he did state that he regretted making those films because he got sick of answering kids questions about his role and the movies in general. He felt that any spirituality the films may have had was lost in the minutia of trivia in its fantasy world. Guiness, it may be noted, was a devout Roman Catholic.

I know the making of that film in detail, and that claim flies in the face of everything I know about it, and its maker.

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When speaking of under-rated movies I always come to think of "Bicentenial Man". This is a movie about a robot who by accident starts to develop a mind of his own, and from there the story takes us through a journey of the robots desire to experience life and become human. As far as I know many people have seen the movie and liked it, but it never really got much attention - which it deserves. This is just such a fantastic story.

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