The Courier: 30 days of film - day 9

For day 9 of The Courier: 30 days of film, our writers look at those films they hate but everyone else loved

multiple writers
23rd April 2020
Image Credit: IMDB
Everyone has those films that they hate but everyone around them loves. No matter how many times you justify why you hate it, you'll always have the film critics saying why you're wrong. Sometimes, the film you hate so much is so popular you're nervous to even tell anyone you hate it. For day 9 of The Courier: 30 days of film, our writers bravely tell us about the films they hate that everyone else loved.
Pulp Fiction (1994)

Quinten Tarantino is a brilliant director and gifted writer. Reservoir Dogs (1992) and Inglorious Basterds (2009) are among some of my favourite films of all time. As I moved my way through his impressive library, I made sure to leave a little film called Pulp Fiction (1994) until last. People say it’s an American masterpiece and the director's best work, so it’s no surprise that I was excited to watch it. But then I did. And I was more than just a bit disappointed. It is by no means a bad film but I feel it just doesn’t stand up to Tarantino’s other work and definitely shouldn’t be considered his best. A great thing about Tarantino’s writing is that he never sticks to conventions with branching timelines and storylines in order to help create his work. With Pulp Fiction though I think he goes a bit too far. You have to follow multiple different characters doing their own things, all at once and not even in the right order. While storylines we see are fun, it just gets way too complicated and great scenes get diminished by cutting to a completely different character. As I said, I don’t think it’s a bad film, but it was overhyped too much and it is (pulp) fiction to say that it’s one of the best films of all time. That honour belongs to Sonic the Hedgehog (2019).

George Bell

The Greatest Showman (2017)

I tried so hard to like this film. When it was announced, without really knowing any backstory, I was excited about a new musical film. I had HOPE for this film - the music was by Pasek and Paul who did the music and lyrics for Dear Evan Hansen and La La Land, two of my favourites. However, I despise everything about this film. Everyone else seemed to love it and I even saw it in the cinema twice to make sure I wasn't missing anything. No, it was just bad.

Image Credit: IMDB

I don't think I'd despise it quite as much if it wasn't based on P.T. Barnum. Why, out of anyone, would you choose to make a musical about P.T. Barnum, a literally horrendous man who kept slaves, abused animals and his workers. Oh, and he was a politician- yikes. Considering they ripped any of P.T. Barnum's actual history out of it so it was more family-friendly, I don't understand why they didn't just base this film on a made-up man who wanted to start a circus. It makes no sense at all.

The music. Oh God, the music. I love musicals, I hate this. I hate how robotic everyone sounds, literally everyone has so much autotune it hurts. I didn't think 'A Million Dreams' was the absolute worst at first with the kid singing, but then the trainwreck of a transition between a literal child's voice to Hugh Jackman is so disorientating. The only songs I like are 'The Other Side' and 'Rewrite the Stars' and maybe that has something to do with Zac Efron. Maybe. 'This is Me' is a garbage catchy radio-hit song that does literally nothing for the plot. So the 'freaks' (the film's wording, not mine) embrace themselves in this song, but then afterwards literally nothing changes in the plot because of this revelation. In musicals, songs actually move the plot along. I feel like most of the songs in The Greatest Showman are gap-fillers, rather than actual plot-points with any meaning what-so-ever. Oh and don't even get me started on 'Never Enough', for Christ's sake it's not even sung by the actress, and the fact they do a reprise of this song is physically and mentally draining. For the entire song, nothing happens on screen and it is tiresome to watch, and clearly some kind of Adele-esque reject piece.

I hate how this film treats the 'freaks' as we learn really nothing about them and in the credits a lot of them are credited as 'oddities' which frankly, I find quite problematic. In this film the world doesn't learn to be more accepting of disabled people, they just learn to enjoy them as performers in a 'freak show'. I despise it with a passion.

How it became so popular is actually beyond me because I find it to be a slap in the face to both its musical genre and the actual history behind the real 'Greatest Showman'.

Sophie Hicks

Frozen (2013)

On this film’s release Disney knew they were onto a winner. They did not know however quite the obsession it was going cause. So to explore what the hype was all about I watched it with a kid I babysit for. I was baffled. It’s not funny (sorry Olaf), the songs are sub-par (sorry Let it go) and the characters are not only dumb but also dull (I’m not sorry that’s true). But the enthusiasm radiating from the child next to me was palpable. I was sure I was missing something so a couple of weeks later I watched it again. Nope. Give me Tangled or Moana any day. I’ll let the craze swirl around me but my heart is cold for Frozen.

Eve Ducker

Joker (2019)

I hate Joker.

There, I said it. Now before anyone kicks off, I hate the concept of a Joker film – I thought Joaquin Phoenix was incredible and deserving of the Oscar. But… I still hate this film.  

Image Credit: IMDB

Joker is an unnecessary film. The movie bad guys have always had that mystery about them. Maybe my love for Tom Hiddleston makes me bias; but that’s why Loki is so great. He’s drawn towards the light and the dark – but we never know which way he’s going to go, being the god of mischief and all. Yes! He is getting his own Disney+ series but that is not backstory. Joker is. When did studios decide we needed to humanise our comic book villains? There were certainly points in Joker where I know the film was trying to push sympathy for the villain, but I could only grimace and feel uncomfortable in the cinema.

And then there’s the matter of a certain song. Oh yes, because apparently the studio didn’t catch the fact that Gary Glitter was a paedophile who might be making royalties off their use of his song in a certain dance sequence down a certain set of stairs. Kudos to them for changing it and re-releasing it in cinemas without the song, but why in Gotham’s name was it there in the first place? 

Honestly you’re much better of watching The Lego Batman Movie. “Who pays their taxes? Not Batman.” Now that’s a film I’d much rather watch – Batman getting caught for tax evasion with guest star Jimmy Carr. But please, please, please, not Joker.

Harriet Metcalfe

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Although it is considered one of the best films in the MCU, I just don’t get the hype surrounding Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). Yeah it has a fun soundtrack and made way for the comedic side of the Marvel films, but the quirkiness of Guardians of the Galaxy made me lose interest about halfway into the film. It’s just Chris Pratt strutting around different planets and acting like Chris Pratt (you know what I mean) does as they talk about characters with names like Yondu and we have to listen to whatever accent Bradley Cooper is using as Rocket the Raccoon. All I heard during the summer of 2014 (and beyond) were the endless variations of “I am Groot”. I get it. He’s a cute and innocent tree who can only say those three words, but after you’ve heard it over and over again it gets old pretty fast. Having seen this film a handful of times, trying to convince myself each time that it IS worth the hype, I think it’s safe to say that I won’t be rushing to see anymore Guardians of the Galaxy films in the future.

Kate Dunkerton

Rogue One (2016)

Don't get me wrong it's not the worst film I've ever seen, there are many more badly made movies out there, but Rogue One isn't one of my favourites. Before seeing the film in the cinema so many people raved about it. However, it didn't live up to my expectations.

Image Credit: IMDB

I'm a huge Star Wars fan (I'm currently binge-watching all the films while in quarantine!) but this one was a huge disappointment. It doesn't have half the same energy as the others and it felt like another extension to the franchise, just another film to release. Even though it's a classic tale of rebellion and fighting the bad guys with some likable heroes, it falls short of the excitement and awe that Star Wars normally leaves the audience in.

If I'm completely honest I got bored in the cinema, yet it still managed to have too much going on all the way through to the end. The film got given 85/100 by Rotten Tomatoes, but I don't agree. I found it unoriginal and more of a fill-in film.

Amy Harris

Coming hot off the heels of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Rogue One was building up to a big departure for the franchise, becoming the first live-action spin-off film that didn’t involve any of the original main cast. The hype was very real, with exciting trailers and a promise of a grittier story. And then it was released.

Critics and audience’s raved about Rogue One, with phrases such as ”best one since Empire” being thrown about as if Rogue One had actually achieved anything. it was easily my biggest disappointment of 2016. All of its potential was squandered with thinly written characters, sluggish pacing and motivations that changed on a coin-toss.

The appearance of a completely CGl Grand Moff Takin was shocking in all the wrong ways. Not only was it an uncomfortable experience watching the deceased Peter Cushing having his legendary performance be exploited through technology, but the uncanny effect of the not-quite-there model took me right out of the film. I'd also argue that his mere inclusion undercut the value of Krennic's own villainy.

Image Credit: IMDB

Worse though was Jynn Erso. I love Felicity Jones and I was ready to embrace another female lead in what continues to be a small selection in the Star Wars franchise (Leia, Padme, Ahsoka, Rey). Unfortunately, Erso has very little to do in the film. The character, for the most part is tied to her father and rarely breaks out with a personality beyond that.

When people talk about how much they enjoyed Rogue One, they usually go straight for the final act. Sure, the space battle is cool, but the lack of actual character development in the first two acts removes any sort of emotional stake I could possibly have had watching the rebels risk their own lives. All I can really say in the end though, is that if the droid has more personality than any other humanoid character, then it’s probably time to revise your script.

Peter Lennon

American Psycho (2000)

I am a proud owner of one of those bucket list scratch it posters - the movie edition. And as part of mine and my housemates adventures to watch as many as we could at the end of last year, we decided to give American Psycho a go. With it being on the poster, we expected it to be a really good a film - one of those you MUST watch before you die kind of films. Little did we know we were about to watch one of the worst films ever. Despite critically acclaimed reviews loving it, saying Christian Bale deserved an Oscar, that this film is so quotable and funny and amazing. I highly disagree.

First of all, I did not understand this movie one bit. It's one of those films where you're just meant to know all the hidden meanings and subtle wider significances. Yet, I sat there bored out of my mind, wondering what on earth is going on. At one point, I had to google "the wider meaning of American Psycho" because my mind could not comprehend why this film is so loved. I get it is a satirical take on businessmen but the film is lacking in something more. I am still trying to figure out what the ending means.

Image Credit: IMDB

I also hated how much this movie sexualises violence against women. It makes it uncomfortable to watch and it isn't a pretty motif to include, no matter the genre of film. Nothing really stood out to me in this film besides Christian Bale's performance (the only redeeming element). The story is sub-standard at best and very rushed in my opinion. Ultimately, what point does this movie serve and why do so many people love it because I truly could not see the point and I don't think I ever will no matter how many times I watch it.

Lucy Lillystone

Little Women (2019)

I’m gonna preface this by saying that I didn’t like the book either. The way the sisters are characterized always felt two-dimensional, reminiscent of Buzzfeed quizzes about Disney princesses. You like to play piano? Then you must be a Beth.

Though Saoirse Ronan and Florence Pugh can do no wrong, this movie felt superficial and poorly thought out. The problem is that this group of characters never feels like sisters. This is not only because none of the actresses look alike, but also because the focus is more on distinguishing them from each other, without bringing to light the similar characteristics such close-knit sisters might have.

This is worsened by Laura Dern’s failure to embody Marmee. She is a mother of four, whose husband is away at war. Why does she feel like your typical cool LA mom instead? It might be because of the clearly artificial highlights, which no one bothered to cover up, or maybe she just lacks any of the presence required of someone with that degree of responsibility. We never see her impart wisdom to the degree you would expect from someone like her, so she never fulfills the role of the moral center of the family. This encapsulates my main issue with this film: anything that could’ve allowed for some depth was substituted tooth-decaying sweetness and eye-rolling morality.

Image Credit: IMDB

Worst of all, this movie feels messy. In addition to the costumes being completely inaccurate both for the time and the personalities, the accents were all over the place. Emma Watson especially falls short, which shouldn’t be a surprise after her previous atrocious attempts. The setting of the Civil War is not given the proper weight, making the film result even more shallow than it already is. What was the purpose of that throw away conversation between Marmee and a token Black character? To show Marmie’s progressiveness? I seriously hope no one patted themselves on the back for that scene.

Lastly, the setting of the film is disregarded. The girls are never shown to be constrained by the ideals of the time. And this is not because of their progressiveness: they just seem blissfully unaware of what time they are living in. Because of this, any attempt to make them feel revolutionary resulted in them feeling out of their time, making their behaviour feel completely devoid of social consequences. Their choices do not feel controversial in the context of the movie, because the rules of the time are not shown in any way.

Elisabetta Pulcini

The Entire MCU (2008-)

You may call me pretentious. You may call me a pseud. You may call this a ‘spicy take’. You may say that this is not even a single film and so goes against the spirit of the 30-day challenge. I’d level with you and say that those accusations are a fairly accurate analysis. I don’t like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I have several bones to pick with it. 

Firstly, the pretentious pseud-ery. The coldest take I have, and one that’s shared by many filmmakers and fans, is that the MCU films aren’t very good films at all. They don’t have substance or try to convey any emotional experiences or messages. Director Martin Scorsese famously called them “theme park movies” for this reason. More and more they’re becoming, like most mass-produced culture, written to a predictable formula in a sort of culture industry designed to make money and sell merchandise than to provide any artistic value. There’s a lot to be said for purely entertainment flicks, and I agree that the MCU could arguably be just this, but surely you can find better mindless content? 

See, the MCU is shady. Under the sheen of massive CGI battles and epic(!) quotable moments is 21st century propaganda straight from our favourites, the US Armed Forces. Any half-arsed reading of the films and tv shows of the MCU would show a clear veneration of the heroes, often American, often working for the US or U.N (in which the US has disproportionate power) led S.H.I.E.L.D, and very often the saviours of the world. It should be clear what this means in terms of representation of the US military as good, when very often it isn't. Beyond interpretations, the real-world partnership between MCU and the US armed forces is even wackier. 

Image Credit: IMDB

Many of Marvel’s films are in no small part funded and supported by the Pentagon; most recently and most prominently was Captain Marvel. Aside from the usual jet planes and airfields, the US air force ran an ad campaign in many cinemas before the screenings aimed towards encouraging young women to enlist. What precedent does it set when this supposedly inspirational and feminist movie equates women’s liberation with the school bullies of geopolitics that were complicit in such atrocities and war crimes as the 2015 Kunduz Hosptial airstrike in Afghanistan? 

I guess my problem with the MCU is how it so perfectly typifies this new type of 21st century neoliberal propaganda that packages such things in a way that can make you think you’re receiving media that’s liberating and representative. Realistically I couldn’t care less if the MCU is bad cinema, art being subjective and all, but I would rather it wasn’t so commonplace to consume propaganda that we don’t even know is propaganda. 

Tom Leach
Lost In Translation (2003)

I bought a DVD copy of this film (from Poundland…but anyway), so trusting was I of the ‘aesthetic’ poster and the glowing reviews from older, cooler, people. I even pretended to myself for a while that I liked it, mostly to gain approval from said people. Well now that I am older and no more cool, and I can say, bolstered up by reading half-star Letterboxd reviews, that Lost In Translation is NOT IT.

The self-pitying story of an old rich white man who, oh no, must spend time in another country by himself? BORING. The ‘relationship’ between the two main characters that is supposed to make this all worthwhile? PRETENTIOUS AND DULL. The very overt exoticisation and xenophobic stereotyping of Japanese culture, and the way we are literally encouraged to laugh at Japanese people’s pronunciation of English words as the butt of a joke???? NO NO NO.

Its only redeeming features are some nice shots of neon lights and the sense of loneliness that comes through for about one minute; if you want loneliness done much better go and watch Eighth Grade. Cool people come at me: uninteresting, racist trash!

Leonie Bellini

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