There has always been a bit of a dichotomy with the film industry: often the biggest-earning action blockbusters fail to impress the critics. Which is strange, given that, due to their ticket sales, these clearly are movies that people want to watch, yet critics are constantly recommending audiences to steer clear. Does a movie have to tick all the right boxes to be deemed ‘good’? Or can they purely be entertaining for entertainment sake? Either way, we’ve rounded up 5 movies that got panned by critics, but deserve a watch (or three), as they’re actually pretty darn good when you take off the snooty spectacles of critiquing.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles definitely deserves some criticism – it’s by no means a perfect film – but let’s be honest here, like the Transformers or GI Joe series, we’re working with source material that is catered for the over-the-top 80s-inspired “kidult”, which is something we should own and hold onto, as opposed to being told it’s “shallow” and “mindless”. TMNT captured the vibe and feel of the TV show excellently, and that to us, that is a success. Yes, while Megan Fox is once again demoted to eye-candy and cringe-worthy one-liners, she really is a side-show to the real action on the screen. The turtles are witty and lovable, cracking jokes and each having their own unique personalities that shine through, Splinter is mind-numbingly awesome, the visual effects are some of the best, and (most notably) Shredder fills you with dread each time he enters the scene, just like he did when we were kids, sitting cross-legged on the floor with a bowl of cereal on our laps, and that’s a feeling not many movies have the legacy and nostalgia to play on.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
Say what you want about the Transformers franchise, but one thing you can’t deny is that it delivers arguably the biggest spectacles when each film is released. Michael Bay’s big-screen adaptations may have hit a speedbump with the second film, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, but the series made a momentous comeback with the third film, Dark of the Moon. Due to the lacklustre second entry, critics seemed apprehensive going into the sequel, but truth be told, Dark of the Moon is the high-point of the franchise’s best qualities. You get an endearing arc for Shia LaBeouf’s Sam Witwicky, a compelling Moon-landing cover-up story of epic proportions, some spectacular visual effects, and an unexpected twist featuring Sentinel Prime — something that doesn’t tend to happen in the genre. Plus, you get to see fan-favourite Decepticons Shockwave and Driller rip through a skyscraper and cut it in half, so that’s worthy of a mention.
Batman vs. Superman (2016)
Despite all the divisiveness from fans, there’s no denying that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is one of, if not the, most visually stunning films ever made. And it comes as no surprise too, given that director Zack Snyder’s cinematographic imagination has been leaving jaws on the floor since he made his entry into Hollywood. Even with his stylistic pedigree, the task of bringing two of the most iconic superheroes onto the big-screen together for the very first time can’t be understated. Snyder not only achieved the vision, but it’s evident from the first moments of the film that Snyder knows exactly what the audience wants to see. Batman v Superman is a triumph for a film of its purpose and grandiose goals. It’s jam-packed with special effects and flashy camera-work, but at the heart of its action is a film about fearing the unknown, and that’s something both man and god can relate to.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)
2014’s Godzilla reboot was a monstrous return for Toho’s iconic kaiju, and thanks to the first film, the sequel arrived with all the foreshadowing and exposition out of the way, introducing us to a far bigger and detailed world of monsters and colossal beasts that flesh out one of the most entertaining monster movies in the giant lizard’s illustrious history. While the first Godzilla film took a slow-burn approach to the character’s inevitable reveal (only really appearing in the latter part of the movie), King of the Monsters ups the screen-time of the titanic character tremendously, but doesn’t lose touch of the human-element too, which has always been a staple of the franchise.
Bad Boys II (2003)
Yeah, can you believe Bad Boys II is considered a bad movie? Just give the reviews a Google. But, for anyone who has seen Michael Bay’s buddy-cop sequel will most likely agree that Bad Boys II is one of the most entertaining R-rated action movies of the 2000s. It’s hard not to laugh, nod, and wince at the antics of Miami’s most unlikely heroes, and Bay’s stylish action set-pieces are littered throughout the film. Yes, it may be a little long and there are some logic-jumps in the story, but Bad Boys II delivers exactly what’s expected of it, and has one of the best car chase sequences in modern action movies.
Do you agree with our list? Any critically-panned movies you think deserve a reconsider? Let us know by tweeting @MenStuffZA and commenting below.