(Symetrically Speaking) Top Five Movies Everyone Loves That I Hate

If there’s one thing you should know about me, it is that I am a firm believer in cosmic balance. Yin and yang, for ever action there is an equal and opposite reaction, you know, all that stuff. Well it was recently brought to my attention that I have a Top 5 Movies I Love That Everyone Else Hates but not the opposite. This means there is an imbalance in the universe and if I can fix that well, I guess that sort of makes me a hero.

While we're at it, never been a Connery fan either.

While we’re at it, never been a Connery fan either.

Now, even though I am a hero, I do not take myself seriously. When I write about these movies, this is my point of view and if you disagree with it, please let me know, because any internet comments are good internet comments if it means more traffic.

The only other thing I have to mention is that I wanted to pick movies that were beloved by critics and fans alike. This means a pretty favorable rotten tomato score, implying that most the reviews on the internet would sway in the movie’s favor. However, I also wanted to pick movies that if I were to mention my disliking to most of my friends or casual acquaintances, I would get strange looks or even a minor verbal berating. I feel these movies are generally well loved by most or considered good films all around and for reasons I will get into, I just do not like these movies. While hate is a strong word, I use it rather lightly here, but I did pick movies that I stand by in terms of just not liking them at all. I’m a big fan of reading negative reviews of movies I love, because it makes me love them just a tiny bit more. So I’ll definitely play into that persona here a little and hopefully instead of trying to convince you to not like these movies, I’ll get your blood pumping a little and reinvigorate you to love them just a tiny bit more.

Without further delay. Five movies that everyone else loves for whatever dumb reason that I absolutely hate.

et5) E.T. The Extra Terrestrial

Okay, so I know I just made a big stink about the word ‘hate’ and how I’ll exaggerate ripping into these movies, but here’s the deal. Some of these movies I’ve only seen once, or at the very most, a few times. And more likely than not, at least several years ago (since I didn’t like them I wouldn’t rewatch them often or recently). But I don’t really ‘hate’ E.T. The thing is though, I really like Steven Spielberg. So this movie stands out in his filmography as being one movie that I just don’t get.

The movie plays like a weird dream, almost as if it was being remembered by an adult from when they were a kid. And I don’t know. Maybe that’s the point. But it feels incomplete. I don’t think it’s a bad movie, or incompetent, but Steven Spielberg is the man who made a shark movie, an adventuring archaeologist movie, and a dinosaur movie some of the best cinematic experiences bar none. Jaws, Indy, and Jurassic Park aren’t just entertaining popcorn flicks, which they are, they are also textbook examples of how to shoot scenes as well as being high art. So he gets to do an alien movie and it feels messy? I don’t know. Something aint right there.

The way the family in E.T. operates, the kids seemingly off on their own a lot, the lighting in the house, the whole telekinetic connection between E.T. and Elliot, the frog escape sequence, the men in suits kidnapping E.T. action-y climax… none of it seems like a real scene in a real movie. They all seem like strange deleted half ideas. E.T. isn’t even Spielberg’s worst or most corny and sentimental flick. But out of all his beloved classics, it’s one where I just dont understand the status.

4) Fight Club

fight-club-movie-poster-1999I’m coming to terms with the idea each time I watch this movie (easily the most seen movie on this list and one I actually own) that I do not really like it. At all. Yes there are some cool parts and it has a certain stylized appeal that is glossy with a layer of grime. I will always and forever be able to quote “I want you to hit me, as hard as you can” and remember Tyler’s crotch or ass debate when passing people and the cigarette burn lesson. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think a movie about Facebook and people talking to each other in rooms is more compelling than a movie about manliness, testosterone, and a bunch of guys beating the shit out of each other.

For starters, Fight Club is too long. It winds and drags and feels unfocused. Yes, so does the narrator’s own point of view and his mind, but here’s an example of trying to evoke a feeling and what that feeling is just really isn’t a good idea. This movie feels like having insomnia in the sense that it becomes blurry and bleeds together. The ideas and themes of the movie are supposed to blend in and act as a sort of ultimatum against the neutering of mankind as a whole, whether it be physically, emotionally, politically, or economically. And maybe I’m looking too much into it, but I really do think that the movie is a call to arms, albeit maybe not as explicitly violent as it’s shown on screen. And I think a lot of people who watch this movie want to follow its manifesto and get out there and change their life and take control. But they don’t. This movie is another example of its characters doing crazy things that just don’t seem practical in real life telling people to quit their jobs and pursue their interests. Tyler and the narrator threaten to kill people and make them accept their mortality while they live out of a broken house on no legit income. It is easy for a movie character to scold you for not pursuing the dream because they don’t have to face the actual consequences of failing and how that could utterly destroy a persons life. 

I have a hard time when movie’s really take the higher road and a bunch of successful people imply that all you need to do to join them is take a chance. Do that thing you’ve always wanted to do. I want to make movies. And I’m taking a reasonably safe approach at getting there in some fashion or another. I feel okay taking chances but can’t justify risking everything. Maybe I’m taking this too personally, but I don’t think Fight Club ever really manages to provide enough inspiration to be a metaphor for its ideas and philosophies to be taken on a lighter or more personal level. If you want to actually inspire me, then do it using your own talents to make me feel wonder and awe, don’t just complain about everything and then try to blow it up. (side bar: I love Taxi Driver, which more or less does this, but acts as a cautionary tale, not a call to arms.)

3) Black Hawk Down

black_hawk_down_ver1Okay. Here’s where the list goes from the minor league to the majors. No more beating around the bush. I really dont like these next three films.

Ridley Scott is responsible for two of the best sic-fi films ever made, two movies that I obsess over their perfection and how they got made. How can someone recreate those elements to make more perfect films? I don’t know. And I don’t know if Ridley Scott does either. Yes, he’s a talented filmmaker, but more and more I’m just falling out of love with him as a director and it’s his own movies that are doing that to me. Blade Runner. Alien. and Thelma and Louise. I would die for these movies I love them so much. They are beyond cinema and slices of heaven itself. Everything else he makes… are just movies. Some good and some bad.

Black Hawk Down is not a bad movie in the sense that it is an exciting and cool, styled war movie. But digging deeper into the movie I start to really question if that’s a good thing. Firstly, this is based off a true story. The message of the movie seems legit, to draw attention to this horrible series of events. I’m not sure how much of the movie is really true and how much is Hollywood rewriting, but I’ll take it a face value for now. In the movie, the US Army goes in to an extremely hostile area to do some shady shit, and something goes wrong. Once one man is injured, they send in wave after eve of people to rescue and retrieve them at the risk of getting killed themselves. Communications and planning breaks down as they find superior firepower means nothing against the masses. I’m not sure I agree with the decisions of the military to risk so many lives because some people were shot or killed. If this movie wanted to be about brotherhood and the sacrifices these men are willing to go through, that’s one thing, but for the most part I think the documentary approach in storytelling show these men as scared individuals who don’t believe in what they are fighting for. I don’t think Black Hawk Down is brave enough to showcase the American military as being part of a violent machine that is a bad thing. I think the script trades in the documentary courtroom stenography approach for hallmark moments when it feel appropriate, to play to the ‘hoorah’ crowd.

And while I think this movie is written with attention to detail for the realistic, dirty, grimy, moments of one particular battle (as mentioned, inconsistently so, when convenient), I think Ridley Scott’s eye for action and filmmaking make this a hyper stylized genre flick. There are so many cool moments in the movie that feel like a movie. IT’s great for cinephiles who love picking apart shots and drool over every little frame. It looks amazing when displayed on an HDTV in a store or as part of some movie montage or film reel. But is that really how we want to feel leaving this movie? I know there really aren’t any war movies that are pro War. Most war movies are going to have the sentiment that war is bad. There may be some masochistically strange cosmic beauty here and there, but for the most part, it is a bad thing. Black Hawk Down showed American soldiers making the ultimate sacrifice, but it also felt like with a few tweaks it could have been a badass Die Hard-esque action romp. I mean, ultimately what I’m trying to say maybe is that Ridley Scott is TOO GOOD of a filmmaker that it’s a bad thing. I don’t know. I appreciate this movie for being able to bring these points, both cinematically and philosophically to my attention and up for discussion, but until I actually can sit down and have one with someone who can counter these points and provide a flip side, I continue to just cringe every time I see Black Hawk Down in my collection (which I purchased as a blind buy for $4 on Black Friday, and is the only other movie I own that is on this list).

2) Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

The_two_towerI’m not a Lord of the Rings fan. My favorite of the original trilogy is the first one, because it sort of has the “right” to be boring and slow since we are being introduced to this world for the first time on this scale, cinematically so. My favorite of the Tolkien/Jackson flicks is The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug because Smaug is a legit badass and if they put in his lake town massacre in the second one, I might even maybe just might have considered buying that movie. The point is, Lord of the Rings isn’t my thing. And of the original three, the one I maybe hate the most is Return of the King, because it is the only one I saw in the theater at that time and the multiple endings made me furious since I was already bored out of my mind. Also it dominated the Oscars and that is dumb, but whatever thats silly stuff. 

I put The Two Towers as my pick though, because every time I mention I don’t like Lord of the Rings, people always jump to this one, looking at me wide eyed as if to say “Yeah, but this one you at least have to admit is pretty badass and cool, right?!” Wrong. I watched this movie at home, admittedly not the best way to watch a big movie like that, but I fell asleep. Twice. And there are no excuses. No “But I was tired” or “I was distracted.” This movie is that boring. Yes. Even the action scenes. Large scale epics don’t do it for me. Seeing a bunch of CGI people fight is as impressive as seeing a CGI building crumble in a natural disaster movie. Okay. Your computer makes things pretty realistic. But what else can you do with that? Transformers at least had robots fighting each other one on one. And even if there isn;t an abundance of CGI, seeing large crowds fight is the same to me as seeing a bunch of people stand near each other and just wave sticks around, without any sense of contact or intimacy. It’s just visual blur. It’s not action”. I’d rather see a cool chase scene or one-on-one fighting than a giant mass army battle. IT’s just plain boring. Now I know how all those non action fans felt when they told me they went to see The Matrix for the story and went to the bathroom during the fighting parts. 

I’d really like to see Peter Jackson at his most deliciously violently intimate again. Dead Alive is without a doubt one of the best examples of action escalating at a cartoonishly exponential rate. It is a self-aware comedy and doesn’t hold back in any aspect. Lord of the Rings may be visually impressive and more mature examples of filmmaking, but I’ll take the gleefully childishly amateur stuff over this polished “perfection” of fantasy filmmaking any day of the week.

1) The Godfather: Part II

The Godfather Part Poo, amirite?

The Godfather Part Poo, amirite?

Like with Lord of the Rings, I’m not exactly a fan of the series. I’ll give you the context a little bit, so at least can you have the “well his barometer is so way off at least I can discredit EVERYTHING he is saying satisfaction.

I don’t like The Godfather. I like the Michael Corleone story of him becoming involved in the family business and I love Robert Duvall as the consigliere. After I get past the bloated wedding scene, I really start to dig the movie (which I’ve only seen a few times), but once there’s this whole hour long diversion into Sicily and watching Michael’s equivalent of a home movie journey as he falls in love with some woman and they get married and then she just gets blown up and we go right back into the mob story, I really start to get frustrated. I love when Michael has to go to the restaurant to kill the men and he’s told to leave the gun. I love how he drops the gun, sort of giving it a flick of the writ as if he’s flipping them the bird. But overall, The Godfather feels like a really long crime movie with some good acting and flair for the dialogue. It doesn’t feel like one of the best films ever made. As far as Godfather Part III goes, well like most other people I didn’t quite enjoy the movie, but I don’t think Sofia Coppola is to blame. I thought she was fine in the movie. Just that, fine, no more, no less. I can’t tell if people honestly think she ruined the trilogy or if they are being sarcastic. Either way, Part III is a giant mess and one actress didn’t put a blemish on the series, the entire movie is one giant blemish on an already pretty crummy series to begin with.

The entire time I was watching The Godfather Part II, which wants to go back to Don Corleone’s uprising but also explore Michael’s descent, I could not help but think “THIS? This is the movie everyone is raving about?!” I really wish I could have rewatched the movie to provide more specifics or rip into a little more full heartedly, but I can’t must that up. The most I can do is half heartedly say this movie is boring because I don’t think I’ll ever really care to watch it again. The two parallel stories never quite bled into each other, fed of each other, or reached any sort of level of synergy. Instead, I felt like I was watching a movie that should have been spliced into the first movie to make an ultra long definitive The Godfather cut. Instead I never found my footing in either story and found myself confused as to why people pick on certain movies for having unlikable main characters but this is one of the most revered movies of all time. I like morally ambiguous characters, even flat out evil ones, but I’ve never really been into romanticizing over the mob bassos and gangsters. To me it just seems like a bunch of scumbags who talk one way but act another. Their code sounds nice when they are in a room full of familiar faces, but in order to get to the top and stay there, they basically seem willing to do whatever it takes, compromising any moral ethics they may have had in favor of money and power. I respect the honor-driven samurai. I respect the heist-driven thief. And I even respect the self-loathing madman. But the gangster in the Godfather? Good riddance, “good” fellas.

Even the T-800 in T2 is able to overcome his heartless-natured programming.  Sadly, I never will.

Even the T-800 in T2 is able to overcome his heartless-natured programming. Sadly, I never will.

So there you have it. As I mentioned, I really don’t care about any of these movies enough to try and change your mind. In fact, I stand by my statement that I hope you like them more now. Feel free to comment with EVERY SINGLE reason why I’m wrong or mention a few others that I probably love and you hate. Don’t worry, I’ll return the favor in letting you know how wring you are as well.

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