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The 10 Most Overrated Sci-fi Movies of All Time

08 September 2018 | Features, Film Lists | by Justin Gunterman

Gravity-film-Sandra-Bullock

The term “overrated” is tough for writers because it’s hard to define what makes a movie overrated. If a movie is critically acclaimed but commercially under-the-radar, can it be considered overrated?

Similarly, if a movie is a smash hit with everyone besides critics, can we define it as overrated? Because of this loose definition, the following list may be inconsistent when it comes to defining a movie as overrated.

Some of these movies may be critical duds that nevertheless found a sizeable audience. Some of these movies may be critical smash hits that didn’t do as well with the more general filmgoing public. The point is, certain people are giving these movies more attention than they deserve.

Keep in mind that overrated doesn’t mean bad. In fact, most of these movies are actually perfectly watchable. They’ve just gotten overhyped beyond belief. Most of the following movies are decent movies mistaken for excellent ones. The goal isn’t to deter people but rather to warn them that these alleged masterpieces may have more flaws than some people believe.

 

10. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

Return of the Jedi

To be fair, critics did give this movie a fair amount of trouble upon release. They weren’t pleased with Lucas’s desire to turn everything into a marketing opportunity, but nobody else seemed to care. Sitting comfortably in IMDb’s top 250, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi is one of the highest rated entries in the series, but is it all that deserving? Let’s make one thing clear: Return of the Jedi is a solid entry in the series. It’s just not fair to put it in the same league as something like A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back.

Return of the Jedi was a fitting end to a legendary trilogy, but critics were rightfully concerned about the overreliance on cute, marketable creatures. The Ewoks didn’t ruin the movie entirely, but the entire scene could’ve been removed and the movie would have been just as good.

Additionally, some of the writing just didn’t show the creativity we had seen in the two films that came before it. Again, this is a movie that gets the job done in terms of concluding the trilogy. Its position on this list comes as a result of the fact that it’s nowhere near as successful as the movies that came before it.

 

9. Pacific Rim

pacific rim

People aren’t necessarily head-over-heels in love with Pacific Rim, but its positive reviews and cult status don’t exactly seem deserved. It’s cool to see a Western kaiju movie that can pay homage to the classics, but this is still a weak movie overall when you think about Del Toro’s past work and the huge amount of potential. Overall, Pacific Rim is a movie that should be fantastic when in reality it’s just passable.

The worldbuilding in Guillermo Del Toro’s kaiju movie is pretty fascinating. Clearly the dude put a lot of work into making the Pacific Rim universe interesting. It’s just a shame that he couldn’t put that kind of effort into making a movie with half a brain.

There’s just not a whole lot going on in the movie that differentiates it from the competition aside from snazzier visuals and Del Toro’s knack for creating awesome looking creatures. Aside from those two things, this is the same lazy action flick audiences have been watching for years. Too bad the sequel also failed to live up to any potential.

 

8. AI: Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence

It feels harsh to pick on a movie that comes from two very brilliant minds. AI: Artificial Intelligence is essentially a collaboration between Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg, two of the greatest filmmakers of all time. In a perfect world, this would result in a borderline perfect movie.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world which means we get a slightly above average movie with too many flaws to be considered a science fiction classic. Spielberg knows sci-fi. Kubrick knows sci-fi. This should have been better.

The sentimentality of this movie is perhaps what’s most often criticized, and appropriately so. The more intellectual elements are buried underneath layers upon layers of kid-friendly fluff. Listen, it’s fine that it’s trying to make audiences feel something, but does it have to be so blatant? A little subtlety never hurt anybody. AI: Artificial Intelligence is about as subtle as an airhorn when it comes manipulating the audience’s emotions, and that’s why it ultimately fails.

 

7. Signs

signs-2002

Don’t let anybody fool you by saying M Night Shyamalan was still a good director following the release of Signs. This movie was the first warning sign and we were all too stupid to pay attention. We should have known that this silly alien flick would lead to something like The Happening. Too bad everyone was still riding the Sixth Sense hype train. Signs was a worthwhile moviegoing experience in 2002, but it has aged about as well as an overripe banana.

While Signs is, for the most part, unique, it’s also flawed. The characters lack depth, the effects are ugly, and the twist ending is a giant slap in the face. By the time the movie was released, we had kind of figured out that Shyamalan was a fan of twists.

It’s just a bummer he couldn’t surprise audiences the same way we had previously seen. Signs has some interesting ideas, but the lazy writing and uninteresting cast makes it a snore to sit through, especially by today’s standards.

 

6. Jurassic World

Jurassic World

Let’s start on a high note: Jurassic World is the best Jurassic Park movie since the original. On a less positive note, there has yet to be a Jurassic Park sequel that could pass for “good.” Jurassic World is better than its predecessors, but it’s still not a good movie. It’s just a more serviceable offering that finally gives viewers a coherent plot mixed with some dinosaur fan service. It’ll do in a pinch, but it certainly doesn’t defy expectations.

Some people have taken note of that, but plenty of others seem to believe that this is a top notch movie that masterfully managed to revive a dead franchise. I guess it’s true that this brought the series to life from a financial standpoint, but the actual movie is a limp and lifeless cash grab that does everything it can to successfully mimic what made the original successful. It would be one thing if the movie actually succeeded, but it all feels a bit uninspired.

 

 

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