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10 Great Movies Unfairly Rated Lower Than 70% on Rotten Tomatoes

13 December 2017 | Features, Film Lists | by Zach Wee

As far as online review aggregators for film goes, Rotten Tomatoes is perhaps the most revered, and has been for the last 20 years. The much dreaded Tomatometer, though not indicative of a film’s quality as is iMDB’s rating system per se, but rather, the percentage of critics, professional ones at that, who enjoyed that particular film. The innate problem with this system is the differing tastes of critics.

More often than not, a polarizing film considered by many to be a masterpiece, would have an unfavorable Tomatometer score due to the fact that more mainstream, blockbuster-geared critics seen it as compared to those more attuned to the arthouse. Additionally, a bad Tomatometer score would not only psychologically affect a critic’s rating, often causing an even greater drop in score than the film rightfully deserves, but due to the site’s popularity and reputation, might even deter audiences from watching the film to begin with.

These are 10 films with under 70% on Rotten Tomatoes that are completely undeserving of that degrading treatment.

 

10. May (RT Score: 69%)

May

May is a film that manages to be distinct in a ridiculously oversaturated genre of film, and not just because of some weak gimmick. The film is a character study on a woman with little to no social skills with a literal skewed perception of the world and how to function in it. Her peculiar nature eventually led to misinterpretations of multiple situations which play a part in shaping and defining her unique character arc.

Despite this film being a “horror” in the loosest sense of the genre, with no real jump scares or supernatural elements to it to whatsoever, the atmosphere of tension is established from the very first shot of the film, and it never relents from then. Every subsequent scene, no matter how tame, brings a sense of unease within the audience either through red herrings and subversions of horror tropes or the main actor’s amazing performance as a mentally disturbed individual with increasingly psychotic tendencies.

Overall, considering this film’s mixed reception, general obscurity and the fact that the director hasn’t done anything notable aside from other forgettable bargain bin horror films, the film does bring a surprisingly high level of quality to the table. The themes of love and image are surprisingly mature and well explored, with the final climax providing audience with a satisfying resolution to it all.

 

9. Spring Breakers (RT Score: 67%)

A pure and visceral sensory experience detailing, as the title suggests, Spring Breakers follow a group of teenagers on Spring Break. The film, very blatantly a satire exposing the superficialities of the millennial generation, is essentially what you would get if you were to cross the pseudo-philosophical style of Terrence Malick with Andrea Arnold’s powerful portrayal of hedonism, though the film is distinctly better than Malick’s later works, possessing a clear vision presented to audiences in an abstract manner.

Leaving aside discussion on the film’s nature as an allegorical satire, surprisingly enough, Spring Breakers still has a lot to offer on a surface level. Harmony Korine, a master in capturing hyperrealism, combines that same level of “trashiness” as in his earlier work, that hyperbolic sense of raw with stunning visuals with an amazing use of colours and light. This unique blend of stylization and disorientation combined with the abstract plot makes for a truly sensorial journey that embraces Spring Break in all its hedonistic glory – from the good to the bad, from the pretty to the ugly.

As with any other avant-garde films, especially with those with an inherently polarizing acclaim to begin with, it’s exceptionally difficult to pinpoint whether or not the film is garbage or art. However, eliminating the artistic value and appreciating it for what it is at face value, it’s a well-acted, well-shot, hilariously immersive experience.

 

8. The Neon Demon (RT Score: 58%)

Nicholas Winding Refn’s Neon Demon is by far his most divisive work, even more so than the rest of his already polarizing filmography. Though Only God Forgives, the film that immediately preceded Neon Demon was rightfully so, considering its ostentatious nature and the overall pretentious self-indulgence it exudes. The Neon Demon, though similar in a lot of ways to Only God Forgives, isn’t just merely a pretty video with no palpable story or substance to its name.

The Neon Demon takes a unique approach to the idea of the classic “Rags to Riches” tale. It’s one that literally bastardizes that idea in the most controversial yet brilliantly absurd way possible, which was probably the reason behind its polarizing acclaim. Cannibalism. Lesbianism. Exploitation. Necrophilia. All these concepts and so much more are explored in this insanely colorful thriller. The most insane part of it all? The main character, the central catalyst for these evocative themes, is meant to be a 16-year-old.

The film’s performances are all brilliant. The visuals are by far the greatest in any Refn film, finding a difficult balance between style and substance, resulting in a surreal, grandiose look to the film, perfectly complementing the crazy, with crazy. It’s a film that certainly knows entirely what it is and what it’s capable of and basks in that strength, resulting in an overall experience that’s self-reflexive and utterly insane.

 

7. Babel (RT Score: 69%)

Babel (2006)

Before he took cinema by storm with his 2014 meta masterpiece, Birdman, Alejandro Innaritu’s earlier works, mainly his Trilogy of Death, featured the same level of ambition and intensity as do his later films, albeit at a much smaller scale. Babel, the final film in the thematic trilogy, concludes his run of interweaving narratives in the most brilliant way possible. A great shame considering that most critics thought otherwise.

Much like Amores Perros and 21 Grams, Babel details three separate and seemingly distinct stories before they eventually converge – The story of a travelling couple, a domestic helper and a mute Japanese girl. What sets this film apart from the other two is the fact that these three stories are literally set in different continents altogether, but despite that fact, Innaritu still manages to masterfully interweave the 3 complex stories.

The film explores the idea of communication, and the lack thereof. This central theme propels the entire story forward, uniquely bringing together a seemingly farfetched sequence of events, only vaguely similar to one another by theme and convoluted plot points.

Despite all that, the end result is still something extremely coherent, with a seamless flow between one story to another, even if they occur at completely different time periods or continents. And of course, it culminates in an experience that’s undeniably heartfelt and impactful, with each story leaving equally strong impressions, all populated with their own equally interesting characters.

 

6. mother! (RT Score: 68%)

Mother!

Even before its theatrical release, Aronofsky’s mother! received polarizing reviews, with critics struggling to agree whether it’s a needlessly controversial, incomprehensible mess of a film, or a film masking in a façade of symbolism in an attempt to amplify its own intelligence.

That quite frankly, just comes across as an unfair piece of criticism. Aronofsky set out to create less of a narrative and more of an allegorical piece. Sure, when it comes to the film’s story, it doesn’t strictly speaking make complete sense, but the build-up in terms of the development of events is stellar. Even without understanding the biblical references made by the film, on the surface, mother! provides a wild 2-hour ride filled with unrelenting and ever-increasing adrenaline and tension.

As for approaching the film on a more metaphorical level, though it is true that mother! isn’t really anything too nuanced or thought-provoking beyond a superficial level, the film’s faithfulness to its “source material” is remarkable, and making parallels to it as one watches the film is endlessly entertaining, especially so considering the depraved nature of the film’s narrative.

It’s undeniable that Aronofsky set out not to create something deeply philosophical, but to tell a traditional and classic story in the most jarring and theatrical of ways, a take that’s inarguably fresh and unique. And he more than succeeded in doing just that.

 

 

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  • Andrey Edward

    Oh, Shut Up!!!

  • David

    1.Shutter Island is unfairly rated at 68/100
    2.Babel is righly rated as a mediocre film at 69/100 (Birdman a meta-masterpiece???? GTFO!!!!!)

    • Kosta Jovanovic

      1. No, that was is fair too
      2. Absolutely right

  • Pingback: 10 Great Movies Unfairly Rated Lower Than 70% on Rotten Tomatoes | Roberto Cimatti()

  • Jeremías Buitrago

    Fuck, Synecdoche deserves at least, 100%

  • Muh Aldhyansah Dodhy

    69% for Synecdoche New York is a crime. RT don’t deserve that movie.

  • Watchmen a great movie? It’s a good film but a very flawed one.

  • CatKitten Amy

    One of manu reasons why

  • Ricardo Correia

    I agree with Synecdoche New York, last decade greatest film, but apart from that all films deserve the rating they were given if not a smaller rating

  • Mortimer

    Knight of Cups (2015)
    Song to Song (2017)

  • lamarkeith

    1. This list would’ve been far more interesting and entertaining if it wasn’t saturated with films that scored so closely to your 80% stop limit. I would’ve much rather read 10 arguments for why films in the 30-50% range were undervalued, instead of someone telling me how “unfairly scored” a bunch of films are when they still have a majority thumbs up, with most of them still owning the standard “fresh” symbol (not “rotten”).

    2. “The much dreaded Tomatometer, though not indicative of a film’s quality as is iMDB’s rating system per se […]”

    Please PayPal me $20 because this quote made me do a spittake and now I need to replace this shirt. Both scoring systems are horrible — any aggregate system for media arts based on participant input is inherently flawed and an all-around empty concept that only serves commerce — but trying to assert that IMBD’s scores are in anyway “indicative of a film’s quality” over RottenTomatoes’, let alone in general, is absurd.

    • UltraModerate

      With a few exceptions, I find Rotten Tomatoes pretty reliable in terms of reflecting my own opinions of a film. The really meaningless ratings system is the abysmal Cinemascore, which gave mother! an F while giving Jack and Jill a B and Suicide Squad a B+.

      • Ashish Kaushal

        Hey, I really appreciate your idea of movies and giving it back to people who think their idea of “Good movie” is superior than someones taste or overall liking..I generally follow Roger Ebert Ratings and Metacritic. . your view on it?

  • Josh Lee

    mother!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • FortesqueX

    “May” sucked.

  • Il Verme Conquistatore

    “the neon demon sucks”

  • UltraModerate

    Except everything! Saw mother! three times in the theaters, and did not lose anything on repeat viewings. The only film of 2017 that might have been better was Dunkirk.

    • Mortimer

      Lol…watch more movies

      • UltraModerate

        LOL, I run a film society in the greater DC area, so I watch many, many movies. Anything you’d care to recommend?

        • Mortimer

          Lol, seriously ?

          Tell me your personal top 10 of 2017 so I can comment on quality of your taste and maybe recommend something new to you.

          But be careful about your choices. The reputation of “greater DC area” film society is at stake.

          • UltraModerate

            I see. So basically, you just want to take a superior stance without actually suggesting anything and having a conversation about it. Your “quality of your taste” comment smacks of a fantastic level of arrogance, since obviously you are the type to assume that your tastes are better than everyone else (and not that taste is just a matter of, you know, taste). Typical for a website like this, I suppose.

          • Mortimer

            The same arrogance as you claiming “I run a film society in the greater DC area” ?
            Man, I just asked you about your top 10 of the year. My movie taste probably isn’t much different than yours (well, aside from Mother! and Dunkirk). And how to recommend something to you without knowing what you have seen already ? Tell me your top ten.

          • UltraModerate

            I haven’t seen all the movies I want to see that came out this year, like Killing of a Sacred Deer and The Shape of Water. On the other hand, I got free passes to see Annabelle: Creation, which was just god-awful and something I wouldn’t have bothered with if it hadn’t been free. So my “Best of 2017” is going to be far from complete until I catch up on everything new that I want to see. I just don’t have $30 to shell out every time I want to see something.

            Two movies I did see for the first time this year (which I also showed for the group) were The Holy Mountain and Happiness of the Katakuris. However, these did not come out in 2017, so they wouldn’t make this list. Same goes for a bunch of other films I watched through streaming services like Filmstruck (which is really excellent if you’re into Criterion Collection films).

            What I don’t get is why I have to provide you with a list of “my top ten,” considering that I asked you for suggestions first. I mean, you did tell me to “watch more movies,” right? So why am I supposed to go through the trouble of writing out a list? Furthermore, you haven’t given any sort of critique of why you thought mother! and Dunkirk were bad.

          • UltraModerate

            So nothing, huh? That’s sort of what I expected. I’ve dealt with your kind many times before, and it’s always less about actually discussing what you like or don’t like about film and more about shallow one-upsmanship. Pretty much no matter what I said I liked or didn’t like, you were going to poo-poo it without giving any coherent reasons why. I tried to give you the benefit of the doubt, but I had a gut feeling I was never going to get any sort of meaningful response from you. Turns out my gut was right. Glad I saw you coming.