Movies Critics Hated That I Loved


We’ve all experienced it. You liked the movie. Your friends liked the movie. Your wife, girlfriend, husband, or boyfriend liked the movie. In fact, just about everyone liked the movie. Except of course, the critics. So why were all those exasperating film critics so plainly wrong? Well, you see, critics only care about “art in the cinema.” Films created to appeal to the masses clearly have no lofty pretensions. Below you will find ten examples of major films the critics famously trashed, and the reasons those critics were all so obviously full of it. For the moment, I have chosen to focus on science fiction films. My reason for doing so is very simple: I happen to like science fiction films!



I have often said that no movie is a work of art until it stands the test of time. To do so it must remain popular with the public at large. After 30 years, Gremlins certainly fits this description. A clever frightmare about nasty little beasties who invade a small New England town, with a glaring exception, the critics were actually fine with it. To tell you the truth, Gremlins is on this list because Leonard Maltin’s inexplicably negative review royally ticked me off! To say the least, he was wrong as rain (to be sure, he undoubtedly knew he was wrong when he agreed to spoof himself in a cameo appearance in Gremlins 2: The New Batch). Anyway, Gremlins combines fantasy, mild chills, comedy, and suspense, into one very entertaining little package. As for the reaction to Gremlins 2: The New Batch, most critics were again generally positive. Even Leonard Maltin went along with the crowd. This time however, EVERYONE was wrong! But that’s for a future article…


Mars Attacks

This film went over just about everyone’s head. I’m not calling it a classic work of art. “Insane” essentially defines it. It was based upon a notorious series of extremely colorful, very wild, and graphically violent trading cards that were designed to appeal to young boys. Initially published in the early 1960’s, the cards offered little green men from Mars, ray guns, and most of all, lots of excitement. What more could you want? Of course, if you don’t appreciate freewheeling fantasy with plenty of special effects, you would probably hate this film. This clearly explains the negative reaction to Mars Attacks.


Howard the Duck

A true cult classic, Howard the Duck has actually gained much appreciation in recent years, at least among fans of fantasy and science fiction. Let’s face it, as movies go, “Howard The Duck” is just plain silly. But so what? For God’s sake, it’s based on a decidedly silly comic book! So what’s wrong with silly? In any case, Howard the Duck simply isn’t as bad as its rep. It offers the ultimate culture shock story (a talking duck from outer space lands in Cleveland!), decent special effects, and an action packed climax. Why complain? Clearly, the average film critic doesn’t have a sense of fun.


Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

The reviews for this film weren’t necessarily negative as they were lukewarm, but once again the critics were entirely wrong. Its story, such as it is, has something to do with a megalomaniac who is determined to send a miniature Noah’s Ark into outer space… Or something like that… But, who cares? Nothing matters as much as the action and special effects. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow provides numerous sly references to much beloved science fiction films that we all know and love, one of which happens to be a Superman cartoon from the 1940s! I gotta tell ya, such elements always sets my geek heart racing!


The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen reportedly sent its star, Sean Connery, into voluntary retirement! However, much like the critics who trashed it, Connery was entirely wrong. A disparate group of famous heroes, villains, and monsters from classic novels, are thrown together to take part in one very wild adventure. It seems that ultimate bad guy, Professor Moriarty, is scheming to dominate the world. Along the way, Allan Quatermain (Connery), Captain Nemo, Mina Harker (Dracula’s main squeeze), The Invisible Man, Dorian Gray, Tom Sawyer (Tom Sawyer?!), and Jekyll and Hyde, try to help/hinder Moriarty’s efforts. I just have one question… Since we have Moriarty, where’s Sherlock Holmes?


The Time Machine (2002 version)

I’m not quite sure why the critics didn’t like this remake. In simple terms of drama, it’s actually a huge improvement over the 1960 original. Moreover, the motivation on the part of the hero to build a time machine makes more sense. I particularly enjoy the frenetic climax with a grotesque villain who symbolically represents the Devil in his subterranean lair. On top of this, the hordes of computer generated Morloks are much more convincing than the costumed actors in the original film. And finally, it offers a truly beautiful musical score. After all is said and done, the critics were plainly wrong when they trashed this version of The Time Machine.


Wild Wild West

Thanks to a giant mechanical spider on eight hydraulic legs, a boxing robot that looks like a man, and numerous other gadgets and gizmos, this film definitely qualifies as science fiction. So the critics didn’t like this movie version of the popular secret agent television series set in the 1870’s. Who cares? The story deals with the infamous Dr. Loveless, a Southern officer who suffered grotesque mutilation in the Civil War, and his efforts to establish his own kingdom within the United States! Along the way, one of our heroes invents the motorcycle and airplane! If you you don’t find Wild Wild West entertaining, you have a heart of stone.


The Thing (2011 version)

This prequel to the 1982 shocker was summarily dismissed by the critics as boring and uninspired. Really? It’s true that the 1982  film was off the wall scary, but none of its main characters were the least bit likable or sympathetic.  You almost wanted them to be absorbed by The Thing! It’s an entirely different story with this later film. You genuinely care about the people involved in all the grim chaos. They all seem to be experiencing a claustrophobic desperation. It’s as though they have no hope of escape.

On top of this, the special effects are beautifully done. As far as I’m concerned, this film compares very well to any and every previous version of The Thing.


War of the Worlds (2005 version)

Apparently, the frequent screams of the little girl in War of the Worlds distracted the critics. So what? She had every good reason to be scared. This Spielberg film followed in the footsteps of the radio show in one very important respect…it is truly frightening. Great special effects combine with scenes of urban chaos to provide a very disturbing view of the rapid collapse of society. The scene during which a Martian war machine plucks people out of a river after it capsizes a ferryboat is particularly effective. Of course, the best bit of pure science fiction in the film involves the crash of a jumbo jetliner into a suburban neighborhood. Somehow, smack dab in the middle of the crash, a mini-van remains unscathed…and starts right up…and drives away…


Godzilla, King of the Monsters

This decidedly adulterated version of a much better 1954 Japanese film has its own special charm. The critics who lambasted it just didn’t recognize or appreciate its reasonably subtle suspense. Moreover, for its day, it has genuinely impressive special effects. I know, I know… The original Japanese film is an allegory about nuclear war. I get it. But an American audience couldn’t care less about that. That’s why new scenes were added with Raymond (Perry Mason) Burr as an American news reporter in Tokyo. The added scenes boiled the story down to nothing more than the reporter’s reaction to Godzilla’s terrible reign of destruction. To say the least, this approach is much simpler and less meaningful, but I don’t care. I have loved this film since I was a kid. You will love it too.

Now… If you agree with the critics and think I’m all wet, have at it. It’ll be fun to discuss it with you. And as long as I’m on the subject of film critics, my next article will focus on major films the critics loved that actually aren’t worth the celluloid upon which they have been printed!

Blair Kramer is a widely published writer for various publications, including “Velocity: Chicago,” “A Guide to Art in Chicago,” “Comic Book Collector Magazine,” “American Metal Magazine,” and the “Jewish American Historical Society.” He also dabbles in screenplays and comic books. There are only two things in his life that he loves more than good movies. They are his wife and family.