Draft: Overrated Movies, Round 2!

By: LD · September 29, 2008

No Further Ado: Let’s Do This!

10 Tedious hours of midgets walking. Great films or greatest films?


Right. Busy day. I was going to go with shawshank redemption, but i didn’t want E’s heart to explode along with his head.

Lord of the Rings: the Two Towers. Look, don’t get me wrong, I love the Lord of the Rings. I’ve read the series at least 10 times in my life. My dad gave me a map of middle earth that was his as a kid, complete with wooden ends so it’s like a giant scroll, and it has dotted paths tracking the progression of all the members of the fellowship. As a kid, I even used torn up pieces of sticky notes to track their exact locations as I read thru the books.

So know that I am a huge LotR nerd, and overall, the three movies stand as the best film adaptation ever made. Truly a standard that every other film adaptation will be measured against for the rest of film history.

But the Two Towers is way overhyped. For one thing, the Two Towers is the weakest of the three books. Hundreds of pages and many minutes are lost with them just running down the orcs carrying Pippen and Merry. The Riders of Rohan kinda suck, they didn’t really have the same mystique as in the book. My biggest gripe is how they fucked over the Ents. Instead of the Ents being incredibly wise and thoughtful, eventually getting pissed off enough to storm Isengaard on their own, they’re simply tricked by the two hobbits. Oops, we didn’t realize which way we were going! Oh, they’re burning trees? I guess we’ll destroy Isengard! WTF.

The character of Faramir is also brutalized. Instead of listening to Frodo and Sam and letting them go to complete their quest, showing both wisdom and humility, Faramir kidnaps them and takes them all the way back to Osgiliath before having a change of heart and letting them go.
Add in the forced love story tie-in with Aragorn almost dying and seeing a vision of Arwen, Legolas shield-boarding down the stairs, plus a dwarf tossing joke and you get a movie that simply does not live up to the standards of the two. None the less, they all get lumped together as amazing films, when clearly Two Towers is inferior.

E: In all honesty, I think Shawshank redemption is VERY overrated. Shoulda gone with your gut, grimbil.

LD: I should also point out that fantasy sucks, LotR in particular.

N8: Everything is fantasy — some movies just pretend not to be. Bill’s very much right about the Two Towers. Except for the dwarf-tossing joke. I love a good dwarf-tossing joke.

E: Oh I failed to mention that I, too, hate fantasy. And I hate LoTR, that’s both movies and books. SO WE’RE EVEN.

I looked Xenu right in the eyes and saw his soul.


Aight, this time I’m going to have to take Magnolia, nominated for best writing in 2000. Fuck you for this rambling piece of shit, Paul Thomas Anderson. Loved Punch Drunk Love and Boogie Nights, but fuck this. It rains frogs 8 hours into the movie? Blow me. The pace, the false atmosphere to try to make it seem like something is actually happening…just fuck you.

LD: Man, you just sound defeated by that movie. I haven’t seen it, but I do love PTA’s other stuff.

E: I like Magnolia, but only b/c it is a well acted, and well made movie. Not b/c the plot is at all enjoyable or makes any sense at all.

SN: So you might also like a snuff flick if it was well acted and shot well? You’re sick.

N8: Exactly. That’s why he loves Atonement so much. It’s a snuff film, except that it’s the watching it that snuff your will to live and the leather-clad man is called “the voiceover”…

Ironically, I don’t remember what makes this movie so great.


Memento: Ok, yeah, it’s got a fractured timeline and it uses the gimmick to fairly cool effect from time to time. But, the level of reverence the movie receives for successfully executing a gimmick script is completely out of whack. As a fun piece of noir with an incoherent narrative that works on a meta level to enhance the story, it’s very solid. However, its reputation goes beyond the recognition that it’s a successful film to a degree that the film can’t support. I’ve always viewed this as the culmination of the turn of the century popularity of “twist” films that began with The Usual Suspects and ended with one of Ashley Judd’s billion completely indistinct crime thrillers that contained a SHOCKING TWIST at the end. Being able to write a good twist ending can be a boon to a film, but it does not make a great film in and of itself.

Fighting over who gets to thrown Sheen.


The Departed (2006). Not really a movie with a hugely high horse in the cannon of film, but I’m not sure it deserves even a miniature pony. And the concern is that the fanatical buzz it has gotten upon release and sense will somehow allow this loose conglomeration of cops-and-robbers flicks to enter the cannon of great movies where it decidedly doesn’t belong. I think there is some solid acting in the movie but not from Nicholson, whose mob boss is a mix of his Joker and Joe Pesci’s erratic Goodfellas character. Mainly, there’s just nothing that interesting about this movie, so it’s hard to describe the source of it’s flatness, although that flatness is more apparent when you think about The Departed and compare movies whose world is round.

LD: There are plenty of things I really, really like about The Departed. Most notably the performances of the two leads, which manage to remain subtle most of the time while still clearly expressing their respective character’s dilemmas. In fact, I was actually pleased that it won the Best Picture Oscar, given the films it was running against.

But, as much as I like the film, I do think that it suffers from a generally muddied strain of symbolism and meaning that holds it back from being the great film it clearly wanted to be. I don’t know if I’d consider it overrated, but I would say that it missed its mark ever so slightly.

E: Again, DISAGREE. The Departed is a fantastic film that I think is honestly, better than Goodfellas objectively, though obviously Goodfellas deserves much more credit for what it meant at the time it was released. This is coming from a Scorsese disciple too. You people DISGUST ME!

Nothing interesting about this movie? This movie is one that I’ve seen, no joke, at least 25 times and still find subtle ways the actors play it that bring out certain emotional dynamics that a) were never present in the Asian original; and b) show Scorsese’s settling into a mix of the commercial film that appeals to a broad base (see: Gangs of New York, which was a straight up action movie that does not get enough credit for being grade a popcorn flick material), and his quieter, more quirky stuff that has a bit of the twisted sensibility and borderline absurd stylization (see Bringing out the Dead, King of Comedy, etc.). Scorsese is lumped in with so many other indie-ish directors in the zeitgeist, b/c for some reason, people think Goodfellas is a movie that while successful, was cool to like because it was NOT a Hollywood flick. Erroneous, Scorsese’s best attribute is how comfortable he is in the confines of a typical Hollywood movie, and adding a mix of grave seriousness with absurdity, that his movies come out like well made BIG films. He is the motherfucking Jay-Z of Hollywood, a commercial talent that has an independent (not “indie” as its been used colloquially) credibility in the way he approaches the genre he does.

It’s a film that’s as confident in itself, that it has a swagger that it backs up in the quieter moments, and a resolution that to me, is great (yes, EVEN the rat. Fuck you guys, I thought it was a great wink and “fuck you” to the audience).

Why do you guys hate scorsese?!!?!? I FEEL LIKE I’M TAKING CRAZY PILLS

LD: WHOA. Slow the train down, son. I really like The Departed. I’m just saying that it falls short of greatness. And, yes, it’s much better than Infernal Affairs. Subtitles don’t make everything better.

E: That was being written in response to N8, not your post. You just got caught in the crossfire.

I understand people not LOVING the departed, it’s fine. I think it was Scorsese’s take on the way a big movie is made in modern hollywood, and done in a really great way, but it’s definitely not like, Casablanca. But to say it’s UNINTERESTING, is beyond me.


N8: I would point out that

1) you seem to be defending Scorsese rather than The Departed, which is fine, since my own critique was global rather than tactical,

2) I can find subtlety in anything I watch more than once but that doesn’t mean I would watch this movie again, though I didn’t say it was horrifically bad, just flat, and

3) I think the self-confident swagger you mention is precisely why I picked The Departed as over-rated. It doesn’t deserve to swagger about for any reason I could put my finger on, and the swagger, which suggests to viewers that they ought to think it’s a great film, is why I think it deserves to be knocked down a peg or several.

E: But the swagger is the same swagger as goodfellas, or any “crime mob” flick. It’s there as a way to build up characters you’ll tear down. It’s why Scorsese doesn’t make dramas, so much as he makes crime movies, which there is a difference that people seem to tag him with in not liking his movies as much b/c of altered expectations.

The Departed, I don’t know how else to defend it without going toe to toe about all the points of the movie, which would take way too long. The only way I can really describe it in my head is using that Jay-Z metaphor, which won’t make sense unless you’re a hip hop head. The Departed is THe Blueprint 2, which people for some reason thinks sucks, but is actually my favorite jay z record period…in my head I want to jump to reasonable doubt as my favorite (goodfellas), but I’d rather listen (watch) blue print 2 any day, and visit Reasonable doubt out of nostalgia mostly.

Only LD will really understand what any of that just meant.

LD: There’s only one 22 Twos, my friend.

E: Yes, and just like Goodfellas’ single scenes, there is only one “what am I, a clown” scene. Better than anything in the departed, but overall, a lower more consistent burn, is better than a movie with an amazing buildup with some transcendent scenes that falls apart in the end (though reasonable doubt’s last song is my favorite, probably).

N8: We don’t have to go toe to toe on it (here), but I don’t remember saying that Goodfellas was better, only that Nicholson borrows from Pesci’s character in an attempt to be “erratic” in his role in Departed. I wouldn’t really revisit Goodfellas any more often than Departed, though at least Goodfellas has a moment or two worth remembering…

E: Actually, I’ll grant you that. I did assume you were saying that goodfellas was better.

My pick, bitches, and this one’s easy. It’s Old School

It’s a comedy that shows its age, as well as its laziness in writing. I would have no problem with this movie if it was billed for what it is, a juvenile lovefest of stupidity, a la how Family Guy is viewed now after all the dick suckers finished swallowing and realized that FG is just a very good show, not great. But for some reason, this movie is billed as the banner of the alt-indie comedy scene that started when Ferrell and Vaughan started making movies the way they did back when their shtick wasn’t old. As I’ve said on this blog before, I don’t mind Ferrell, I love him. I’m one of the few people who had good things to say about both Blades of Glory and Semi Pro, and believe that Anchorman is a modern day comedy classic, but Old School is a movie that relies way too much on the dated style of late 90’s comedies like America Pie, where other than the “zomg offensive” moments, existed a very mundane and rote comedy. Why do you laugh at this? It’s a movie full of forgettable laughs that adds up to an overall unsatisfying experience, because the comedy doesn’t come from the writing, or the performances, it comes from the setups that make it apparent that you’re supposed to laugh here.

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2 Responses to “Draft: Overrated Movies, Round 2!”
  1. dj says:

    First Field of Dreams, now The Departed?

    I’m going to come over and poop in N8’s toaster.

  2. Banks says:

    I agree with N8. Fuck The Departed. In the larger scheme I think I’m with LD in that it has lots of great moments and a few great characters, but it never congeals satisfyingly, and to me the end has always felt like a cop out.

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