Frequent readers of the site may have started to get the idea that I’m not a huge fan of hype and that I won’t readily fall in line behind a long list of critics in kissing ass. In fact, the more people love a movie, the more a part of me wants to hate it. Whether there is some deep psychological issue there or I’m just bringing balance to the movie world, I don’t know. But what I do know is this – everything is overrated. No, not literally. Some things are underrated. Some things are rated perfectly. But I’ve noticed lately that there is no real middle ground. Things are either blown out of the water completely or cemented on pedestals.
First up, obviously, The Dark Knight. Sure, it was good, but is it the 5th greatest movie of all time, as voted on IMDb? It was as high #1 a few months back. But that comic book adaptation wasn’t the only movie in 2008 to apparently be one of the all time best – five movies released in 2008 are in the top 71 films on IMDb. Nine have made the IMDb Top 250. That’s a pretty high number. More so than 2007 (6), 2006 (7), or 2005 (3), where I stopped looking. Though in four years, that accounts for 25 films. A full 10% of the greatest movies of all times came out in the last 4 years. Did you know we’re living in the platinum age of cinema? 50 films in the top 250 were released between 2000 and 2008. That’s 20%, so you can see the disparity in the last decade over previous decades, and the past few years over top of that. The quality of the movies erupting into the top can be questionable at times, too – sure we enjoy a spy thriller, but is The Bourne Ultimatum really that good of a flick? And yeah, I get that there might be an argument saying that they’re fresh in our minds or the expansion of the internet, or this and that, but look at how critics orgasm all over these films. The Dark Knight was called the most revolutionary film of all time, more or less. I mean, for fuck’s sake, who is that stupid?
Slumdog Millionaire is the latest film to snag the mantle of greatest movie ever overrated. Sure, it was an enjoyable film – but damn, it grabbed 4 golden globes (Director, Drama, Score, Screenplay) and was voted as the 40th best film of all time on IMDb. It was a pretty simple story that followed a predictable path and had a fairly obvious happy ending. But the critics loved the hell out of it for whatever reason and set a fire underneath it. If you didn’t like this movie, you weren’t taken seriously because the mob had spoken. There is no real consideration anymore. The winners are all decided the moment they’re released in theaters by the roar of the media mob, that can be bought, or at least very easily fooled. People want to sound like they know what they’re talking about, so when someone asks you who had the best performance of the year, you say Mickey Rourke. Seeing The Wrestler is completely optional in having that opinion.
Quickly, another annoying trend – film that anyone has seen is also a “cult hit” once it comes to DVD, especially in the horror genre. That’s what you put on the box art when no critic was willing to give it a quote like, “most horrifying film of all time.” To be a “cult hit,” the movie has to have a serious following. Crazy fans willing to follow the film anywhere. Blah.
The pendulum does swings both ways though, and the past few years have turned out, apparently, some of the worst movies of all time. I’m not going to crunch all the numbers, but it was something like 56 out of the bottom 100 have come out in the past few years. And again, no thought is required. Uwe Boll directed? WORST FILM EVAR OMG DUDE. Everything has to either be the best or the worst. What happened to the middle ground? What happened to average or just ok? I’d like to just be able to watch a film without having had someone else form my opinion for me already and then shout it with all their friends. If they want to think for me, at least think quietly. Or at least curb the hyperbole and use smaller words. The following words should be used sparingly: best, greatest, all time, worst, most, definitive, of a lifetime. Stow that shit for awhile, ok?
Maybe it’s just award season that has me a bit frustrated with the language surrounding every film these days. No one wants to watch average movies, but they exist. Advertising almost every movie that comes out as some sort of great cinematic achievement is just lying. It’s spreading hype and building up expectations. This is why I like horror movies – they’re simple and honest. They say “Hey, come see some lady bits and we’re going to kill the shit out of some teenagers.” All I really know is that this hyperbole surrounding every damn release has edged me past my boiling point.
What recent films do you feel are overrated? Do you think hyperbole has taken the media?