While not always the case, it is fair to say that the public and professional film critics do not always see eye-to-eye. Whether it be a different cinematic taste palette, a different degree of formal training in film theory, or a different approach to detail, some films spark a true disconnect among consumers. Negative reviews have a right to exist, but some lesser-praised movies deserve to be looked at again due to their fandom.
This is a list not to blindly ignore the flaws of the movies chosen, but to see their value and examine what created the divide between viewers and the art of formal film critique. Here is a list of the top 10 most entertaining movies with bad reviews.
1. Cruel Intentions (Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score: 55%)
Cruel Intentions may not be as witty as it thinks it is, but the film’s confidence convinces spectators otherwise. In the film, two Manhattan-elite stepsiblings, Sebastian (Ryan Phillippe) and Kathryn (Sarah Michelle Gellar), make a bet to deflower the new headmaster’s daughter, the abstinence advocate Annette (Reese Witherspoon), for simple kicks and proof anyone is corruptible. However, Sebastian starts to develop genuine feelings for Annette and begins to second guess if he can uphold the wager made with Kathryn.
One of the major factors that makes Cruel Intentions so entertaining is the movie’s tone and strong faith in its perceived cleverness. Whether deserved or not, there is a scandalous energy and style to the film that flocks people to it.
Along with its dangerous nature, it captures the dramatics of teen angst and cynicism at its finest. The whole cast work together well, but it is Gellar as Kathryn who steals every scene as the queen bee in charge. Kathryn is the brutal heart and soul of Cruel Intentions’ success among viewers rather than critics. She is the personification of teenage indulgence, viciousness, devotion, and obsession. Kathryn depicts a picture of morality so twisted that the only real “lesson” seems to be that most people are bad because they can be, and we are all going to die one day. Therefore, mankind might as well equip themselves with a few biting one-liners and look fabulous while journeying down the mean and shallow road of human existence.
Cruel Intentions may be criticized as a movie full of cheap teenage thrills, but this does not mean those surface-level delights are not enthralling.
2. Bride of Re-Animator (Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score: 37%)
This sequel to the legendary Re-Animator is a fun movie that combines solid humor, creativity, and horror homage. In Bride of Re-Animator, doctors Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) and Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott) have been forced to hide in a Latin American MASH Unit following the horrific events of the past film that claimed the life of Cain’s beloved fiancée. During their time in Latin America, West and Cain create a serum that resurrects body parts and thus leads to the creation of life.
Bride of Re-Animator is a bold film that boasts several interesting ideas and references. It applies elements of Lovecraft’s short story “The Horror from The Shadows”, William Castle’s House on Haunted Hill, and the most notable, James Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein. At times, these tributes and fan-based easter eggs may make the movie feel a bit jumbled, but this does not deter audiences from the film.
Even with missteps, Bride of Re-Animator retains the spirit of its celebrated predecessor. Combs as the returning egotistical Dr. West keeps his wicked, comedic demeanor that audiences know and love, and Abbot as Dan returns as well and remains the morally-fluid good guy whose sincere struggle audiences can invest in. The director, Brian Yuzna, also keeps the visceral scares, splatter humor, and quality effects that make Bride of Re-Animator both its own fresh film and a respectful follow up to Re-Animator.
Even with some of its unrefined elements, it cannot be said that Bride of Re-Animator is a lackluster sequel.
3. Ravenous (Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score: 49%)
While not receiving a glowing review from critics, Ravenous is an odd yet compelling mixture of fascinating concepts presented in one film. Ravenous follows Capt. John Boyd (Guy Pearce) as he receives reports of missing persons at Fort Spencer, an isolated Army outpost on the Western frontier. After arriving at his new post to investigate the missing persons, Boyd and his regiment aid a hurt frontiersman, F.W. Colghoun (Robert Carlyle), who tells them a terrifying story of a wagon train murdered by its supposed guide. Fearing the worst, the regiment voyages into the wilderness to confirm Colghoun’s gruesome tale.
The structure of Ravenous treads a unique cinematic path and deliberately avoids genre classification. The film plays with tone and shifts it constantly, which may be the main reason for its negative reviews. For example, the cast’s performances range from Pearce’s serious, humorless depiction of Boyd to the comedic idiosyncrasies of the outcasts of Fort Spencer. The music by Michael Nyman and Damon Albarn also swings between bleak thriller and good-humored silliness. There is a grim sense of fun to the score while the actors playfully commit to their oddball performances in several scenes. However, all of this is not to say there are not creepy or eerie atmospheric scares. Along with the humor, Ravenous maintains a level of dread below the surface and works on several levels, as great horror-comedies often do.
Because Ravenous does not label itself or commit to one genre, viewer appreciation is obtained through a variety of methods.
4. Deep Blue Sea (Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score: 59%)
Deep Blue Sea is a blend of real, animatronic, and CGI sharks that makes a splash with audiences. The plot revolves around an island research facility as Dr. Susan McAlester (Saffron Burrows) is running an experiment to harvest the brain tissue of sharks as a possible cure for Alzheimer’s disease. However, the scientifically altered sharks gain intelligence and begining to attack the employees. With sharks hunting their human captors, McAlester and her team must figure out how to stay alive and stop the sharks from escaping the facility.
Deep Blue Sea may not enrich anyone’s mind, but it is a tutorial in what makes monster movies so exciting to observe. It takes minimal time to introduce the characters and set up the situation, so the movie can proceed right to the action and carnage. And, once the chaos starts, tension builds and does not let up until the ending credits.
Now, just like any good creature feature, there is an element of humor that accompanies the terror. Luckily for viewers, the director Renny Harlin knows how to have a little fun with the story. There are some wildly campy moments that are too bizarre not to crack a smile. For example, it is not every day people see a super smart shark turn on an oven to lure out its prey. There is also some comic relief in the charismatic rapper-turned-actor LL Cool J, whose quotable lines stick with audiences long after the film is over. Stating the line, “You ate my bird” as he blows up a shark is just one of many that come to mind.
Deep Blue Sea promises on everything it aims to deliver: taut and gory thrills that leave movie-goers scared to put one toe in the ocean.
5. Broken Arrow (Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score: 52%)
Broken Arrow is a fast-paced, wild, and testosterone-filled ride viewers cannot help but enjoy. The film centers around Air Force pilots Vic Deakins (John Travolta) and Riley Hale (Christian Slater). They are sent on a top-secret mission with two nuclear weapons aboard their plane. Once the two men are in the air, Deakins tries to kill Hale and successfully steals the weapons. As it is revealed that Deakin intends to sell the stolen weapons to terrorists, Hale, who survives the murder attempt, teams up with park ranger Terry Carmichael (Samantha Mathis) to stop Deakins’ diabolical plan before it is too late.
The thrills presented in Broken Arrow are wonderfully intense, amazingly cartoonish, and perfectly absurd. Just in one movie, audiences get to witness a fight aboard a stealth bomber and the next minute they are taken to see a car chase across the flats of Utah. However, if that is not enough for viewers, they also get to see action set pieces in a deserted copper mine and a high-speed train. The pace of this film is relentless, which allows the excitement to never fade and for both leads to fully embrace the over-the-top action-packed nature of the film.
In the end, Broken Arrow will never be deemed a deep-thinking or subtle film, but it is an exhilarating experience that will have spectators exhausted in the best way.