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10 Recent Movies That Got the Double Standard Treatment

06 July 2017 | Features, Film Lists | by Vlad Stoiculescu

Underappreciated movies are nothing new here at Taste of Cinema. We’ve compiled countless lists pointing the flaws in the critics’ rating system or blaming the “go with the flow” mentality some have embraced.

However, while a few of these pieces have been redeemed by the public, many have not received justice. Why? Mainly because, during the same period, similar films with bigger marketing budgets and more prominent stars stole the spotlight, although they had nothing to set them apart.

The following is a list of similarly themed films, produced during the same time frame, that got sensibly different Rotten Tomatoes or critics’ scores. This list is not meant to be a top, nor does it cover masterpieces, and the ratings may vary at the time you read the article. The purpose of this brief collection is to underline the double standard used by those defending the very idea of standards.

The next pairs of films contain a film that has been been killed by the critics and another one that the “experts” found enthralling, although both have been highly similar in theme, visual treatment, or overall quality.

 

1. Transcendence (7%) vs 
Lucy (67%)

Transcendence

Consciousness, artificial intelligence, and the much-touted singularity are recurrent subjects in today’s cinematography. So when these two 2014 productions popped on-screen, nobody was surprised.

Powered by an impressive ensemble cast that included the likes of Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany, and Morgan Freeman, “Transcendence” tells the story of a scientist who turns into a God-like entity, after transferring his mind to a computer. Powered by an impressive cast that includes the likes of Scarlett Johansson, Choi Min-sik, and Morgan Freeman, “Lucy” tells the story of a young student who gets turned into a God-like entity, after being forced to transport a dangerous drug.

The difference? A better trailer and Luc Besson as a director brought “Lucy” an extra 60% in critics’ ratings, although the audience scores are almost identical. Was “Transcendence” a good movie? Although it had a Kurzweil-inspired narrative and retro visuals, “Transcendence” still played like an indie experiment from the 80s, which left us with more questions than conclusions. So no, “Transcendence” was not a good movie.

Was “Lucy” a refreshing action flick with a twist? No. In fact, its incoherent plot, primitive writing, and dimwitted ending make it one of the worst Morgan Freeman films out there (and there have been quite a few of those – have you seen “Edison”?). If it weren’t for Besson’s name, “Lucy” wouldn’t have gotten more than a wink from the critics. So yes, if you’re gonna trash “Transcendence”, do so… but don’t give “Lucy” credit for moving the genre forward.

 

2. The Discovery (43%) vs Personal Shopper (79%)

Ahhh, the afterlife – a theme that never gets old. Until it actually gets old and dies, just like the rest of us. Both of these 2017 movies were considered somewhat low key, mainly because they were not the products of huge Hollywood studios. “The Discovery” was a Netflix production, a part of their wider effort to bring us higher quality titles as a bonus to their already excellent series. “Personal Shopper” was an international production that shared the Best Director award at Cannes with Romanian production “Graduation”, after initially being booed by the audience.

The problem is, both movies suffer from the same problems, a thing many reviewers noticed. They both have muddled narratives, overextended frames, and rather boring conclusions, if any. The difference is – and the audience score shows it – “The Discovery” has a less pretentious and more more gripping goal.

A depressed scientist, played by Robert Redford, proves the existence of the afterlife and triggers a wave of international suicides. “The Discovery” follows the scientist’s attempts to journey to the other side and mend the relationship with his estranged son, played by a surprising Jason Segel.

On the other hand, “Personal Shopper” follows Kristen Stewart, who can be an above-average actress (when vampires are not around) on an incredibly slow journey through Paris. You see, Stewart’s character is a shopper for a wealthy celebrity, but she’s also a medium. Oh, and she also has a deceased brother and receives text messages from an unknown person or spirit. And that’s basically it. Seriously. That’s the entire story, spoilers included.

While the ‘artistic feel’ of “Personal Shopper” can’t be denied, neither can its multiple faults, a bored audience being among them. If not for a Cannes screening, “Personal Shopper” would have never gone above 50%. “The Discovery”, on the other hand, if blessed with a clearer narrative and a more interesting character for Rooney Mara, could have been a hit.

 

3. Trumbo (74%)
 vs Hail, Caesar! (86%)

Two films, the same theme: Hollywood life in the 50s, a time when the Second Red Scare (the McCarthy era) was slowly installing itself among film producers, directors, and actors alike. Their approach, however, is entirely different. While “Trumbo” is an Oscar-nominated biographical film about the life of screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, “Hail, Caesar!” is a blend of parody and pastiche, with more references and big names on the poster than one can remember.

And that’s the problem. While “Trumbo” can be a bit boring and pretentious at times, the viewer can clearly get the director’s intentions, and that’s in part to the superb efforts of Bryan Cranston. The presence of Louis C.K., in fabulous shape here, also helps. On the other end of the spectrum, the Coen brothers’ production is filled with too many actors to actually put them to good use.

Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johansson, Ralph Fiennes, Christopher Lambert, and many more are forced to share less than two hours of screen time. Furthermore, the two cult writers and producers are so busy filling the movie with references and inside jokes that there isn’t any room left for the actual movie. The audiences noticed and marked that on their scoreboard, which is why “Hail, Caesar!” scores significantly lower than “Trumbo” with most audience meters.

Overall, “Trumbo” is not necessarily underrated, but it’s certainly a better movie about the ‘50s than “Hail, Caesar!”. That’s due to the fact that the latter is less a movie and more a salute from the Coen brothers to their fans.

 

4. A Cure for Wellness (42%) vs Crimson Peak (71%)

Gore Verbinski’s “Cure” came out more than an year after Guillermo del Toro’s “Peak”, yet they both shared common visual cues: an isolated estate where their protagonists willingly end up, gothic styled visuals, and a chilling pace. They are both tributes to a forgotten era in both writing and cinematography, and while neither will stand the test of time, one has received significantly higher grades.

Out of the two, “A Cure for Wellness” has both a more interesting premise and a more complex main character (played by the underrated Dane DeHaan). Its visuals are superb, as it was mainly filmed in Germany, in Brandenburg and Baden-Württemberg.

However, the story of a young corporate manager who goes to a remote European spa, searching for his recently disappeared boss, should have stopped after an hour and a half of running time. Instead of ending the movie with a metaphor, as one of the shots suggests, the director decides to go further and turn “A Cure for Wellness” into a bizarre action flick, with a little supernatural and a dash of incest, leaving the audience confused and rather disappointed.

On the other hand, “Crimson Peak” seems to be far more predictable in terms of narratives. It’s a classical gothic romance, in which the young daughter of an American entrepreneur falls for a mysterious European baronet, played by Tom Hiddleston, and moves away with him to his bizarre estate. Unnecessary action, ghosts and, again, incest, fall into the mix. While the acting and script are nothing spectacular, del Toro’s special brand of visual effects makes “Crimson Peak” an enjoyable experience.

In fact, come to think of it, our advice is to watch both of these movies. They could have been great, but they ended up “watchable”, neither of them being a game-changing experience.

 

5. Suicide Squad (20%) vs Captain America: Civil War (90%)

Marvel fanboys and fangirls will instantly be triggered by this one, but we have to do it. While it’s clear that the third entry in the Captain America franchise is the superior film (in terms of both production and coherence), the hatred “Suicide Squad” received at launch was more than exaggerated. The flashy but drab “Civil War” was better, but not 70% better.

What do the two have in common, besides the rivalry of their fan bases? They’re both superhero (or supervillain) films, they both feature ensemble casts, and they both try to tackle deeper social aspects. “Suicide Squad” asks the question: “Are villains just a product of their environment?”, while “Captain America” turns to issues such as surveillance and the balance between power and responsibility.

Visually, “Suicide Squad” goes for darker overtones, but the final product cannot be compared to “Civil War”. Furthermore, the convoluted and often elliptical narrative brought the disappointment of many viewers. Its main critiques, though? Undeveloped characters, a shallow plotline, and the unnecessary presence of the Joker. What about “Civil War”, then? Its plotline is a simple afterthought after the last ‘Avengers’; the only developed characters are those who already have other movies behind them, and there’s a whole line of unnecessary characters.

Yes, “Civil War” was a fun movie, but it was in no way the “superhero landmark movie” everyone was announcing. Yes, it was better than “Suicide Squad”, but so was its all-star cast (Will Smith and Margot Robbie are fun, but just read Captain America’s poster). Although critics and fans often discard DC films, the bizarre Oscar “Suicide Squad” received was a belated “sorry” for a film that’s not good, but it’s better than a 20% rating.

 

 

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  • Subha Sarkar

    This list is bullshit.

    • EG N

      yep

    • I know. Who are these hacks that write for this site?

    • ray gudel

      Yea that was dumb in too many ways to explain.

    • Fart Farterson

      Yeah I love this site and most of the lists but just about everything in this article is flawed.

  • Gilles Ello

    Ugh. Wtf is this deeply flawed article even about?

  • Kosta Jovanovic

    Damn, this was poor…

  • Hector Nuno

    Wow this is easily one of the absolute worst lists that I have ever read on this website. I mean even if you ignore how BS most of his logic is, he constantly undermines himself by saying that one movie is better then the other. So he is guilty of the same thing that he is accusing the critics of. This list feels more like an opportunity for the guy to rant on some movies he probably feels are overrated.

  • shane scott-travis

    This list = shit sandwich

  • bd

    “‘Hail, Caesar!’ is less a movie and more a salute from the Coen brothers to their fans.”

    Time to find a new hobby buddy, cause writing about film is definitely not for you.

    • As if agreeing with random people would definitely be for him.

  • Jules F. Melo Borges

    Battle of the Five Armies is messy, but at least is not boring.

    Pandorum is no good. Covenant at least is decent.

    ‘Transcendence’ is Underrated, no masterpiece, but interesting. I have to agree with Lucy, though i don’t think is a mess, but just too absurd and ridiculous… But still entertaining. eh eh

  • Only thing I will add is that Pandorum doesn’t deserve to be THAT maligned (not that it’s all that good either, just not terrible)

    • S_am_S

      The king fu was pretty stupid and out of place.

  • Palash Mitra

    “Independence Day 2 was never a catastrophic failure.”

    Ahahahaha sums up the article actually. A catastrophic failure.

    ToC, please get better writers or people with some semblance of good taste in cinema. -_-

  • jason malinoski

    I’m starting to lose faith in this web site.

  • ArmitageX

    Yeah, well, I made it all the way to the end of “Civil War,” which is much more than I can say for “Suicide Squad.”

  • Gaétan

    No proof reads or what? I don’t need to get this shit down my throat thank you. What a pile of rubbish, omg!

  • David Pollison

    Only a dimwit would find the plot of Lucy incoherent. The only thing wrong with the numbers on A Cure For Wellness, Crimson Peak, Warcraft, Independence Day, Star Trek Beyond, Five Armies, Civil War and a couple of other titles on this list is they all sould have been much lower because they are all not very good movies.

    • Deadly_Moogly

      Lucy was incoherent and, towards the end, a festival of “du gros n’importe quoi!”

    • Iván Solorio (SanS)

      Lucy was incoherent and really dumb movie. Glad I didn’t payed to see it. However, there goes an hour of my life.

      • David Pollison

        If you saw a version of the movie that was cut down to an hour I could understand it might be a bit incoherent. If you understand English as well as you write it then your failure to understand the movie is, I’m afraid, on you.

        • Iván Solorio (SanS)

          and there it is . The typical pseudo-intellectual bullshit of an English speaker. I understand English perfectly, I’ve lived around the world and I know four different languages thanks to that. English is one of them, sorry my grammar isn’t to your liking but I’ll tell you this – I studied art, philosophy and film… so yeah, I understand when something is incoherent mess. Besson isn’t a deep thinker anyways, Lucy wasn’t such a difficult to grasp as it is a “in-your-face” movie about what it’s supposed to be. It is a mess as storytelling and characterization goes.

          • David Pollison

            Complex characters & air tight storytelling is only something a pseudo intellectual would expect from a Luc Besson movie.

  • sailor monsoon

    And this is the article that proves this website has become nothing but clickbait Bullshit.
    Anyone who could look at suicide squad and think there’s any comparison to civil war has a basic misunderstanding of how cinema works.
    Nothing about that film works on even the basic level.
    The editing is trash
    The script is terrible
    The acting is either lazy or incompetent
    The directing is non existent
    The soundtrack is ridiculous
    Comparing these two films is like comparing iron man and steel.
    They both involve characters wearing metal so obviously they’re the same movie

    • X Y

      *could you expand a little on:
      The editing is trash
      The directing is non existent

      • sailor monsoon

        You can tell there’s massive scenes missing from the film.
        Characters leave and then return with no explanation given
        Every scene with the joker seems to have been cut by a man addicted to speed
        The actors are given no direction, so most of the time they’re just standing around waiting to do something

  • S_am_S

    This article is terrible. On the other hand, this article is terrible.

    The comparisons are paper thin at best and the reasoning for their respective failures chooses to ignore the fact that most of them are just just plain bad.

  • Il Verme Conquistatore

    TOC really hates The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
    -_- .. I still do not understand why