Literally hundreds of movies receive mixed reviews, but every so often, a film comes along that people absolutely abhor or genuinely love, with very little room for any middle ground. It may drive you nuts that the same movie you think is incredible, someone else finds unbearable, and vice versa. Me? I don’t really care; if I love or hate a movie, that’s enough for me. I’m not going to get worked up because someone has different tastes than my own.
Over the past decade or so, I think there’s been several movies that stood out at being particularly polarizing. With these movies, you’ll rarely find someone who has a neutral opinion – almost everyone you speak to will feel quite strongly one way or the other. Keep reading to see what I think are the 10 most polarizing movies of the last decade. I went ahead and wrote my opinion on each, too, mainly in an attempt to humor myself by thinking you actually give a crap. If you do, you can have at it in the comments.
The Fountain (2006)
People who love it say: The Fountain is a beautiful, deep, moving love story that knows no bounds, in addition to being a visual masterpiece. If you don’t love it, you simply don’t understand it.
People who hate it say: The Fountain is a pretentious, art school film with no real substance other than a theme similar to that in The Lion King. It’s slow and the pacing is terrible.
My opinion: It’s a simply gorgeous movie, both visually and thematically. The use of only minimal CGI special effects help maintain a feel of timelessness, and this movie will have you pondering love and life long after you’ve seen it.
Vanilla Sky (2001)
People who love it say: It’s a mind-bending science fiction piece that transcends its own genre, accompanied by an incredible soundtrack.
People who hate it say: Tom Cruise annoys me, his character is generally unlikeable, and the payoff at the end of the film wasn’t worth the wait.
My opinion: I’m a pretty big fan.
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
People who love it say: Stanley Kubrick is a genius and Kidman’s performance is perhaps the best of her career. The themes of cheating psychologically – as opposed to physically – and the pain that a lover can cause simply by dreaming have a definite gravity that Kubrick recognized and expounded upon brilliantly.
People who hate it say: Tom Cruise annoys me and this film was simply an excuse for Kubrick to shoot a bizarre orgy. There’s little suspense, and in the end, nothing really happens.
My opinion: While not as strong as
God’s Kubrick’s other works, Eyes Wide Shut is cinematic storytelling at its finest, immersing the viewer into a world of sex, scandal, and paranoia.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
People who love it say: It’s a truly terrifying film, it feels “real,” and the fact that you never really see the Blair Witch only serves to make it scarier.
People who hate it say: It gave me a headache, I was nauseous, and there was nothing remotely scary about it. Some kid facing a corner? Big deal.
My opinion: I’m actually pretty adamant about this one: The Blair Witch Project scared me more than maybe any other movie I had seen in the theater. Granted, I saw it pre-hype and knew nothing about the subject matter, but the less-is-more approach has always worked for me in the horror genre. There is nothing you can show me on screen that is scarier than the images in my head, and the makers of this movie knew that.
Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)
People who love it say: Michael Moore is a genius and not afraid to speak out against injustice. This film shows what a doofus George W. Bush really is, and he should be tried as a war criminal.
People who hate it say: It’s all just a bunch of skewed, cherry-picked, liberal propaganda bullshit, and anyone with a camera and editing equipment can twist facts into anything they like.
My opinion: Michael Moore is a fine filmmaker, and his use of music is excellent – if not humorous – but Fahrenheit 9/11 was a dishonest, inaccurate piece of propaganda masquerading as a documentary. Just like the people he targets, Moore himself has quite an agenda.
Moulin Rouge! (2001)
People who love it say: It’s a colorful, fun, enchanting musical with great songs, an awesome score, and breathtaking visuals.
People who hate it say: It is an utterly unwatchable, nonsensical pile of filth that only women would enjoy. Musicals suck, anyway.
My opinion: Admittedly, I haven’t seen this one. I’m guessing I’d probably like it; I do like a lot of musicals. My friend Aaron loves this movie like a boss, and his movie picks are usually very solid. To be continued, I guess…
The Village (2004)
People who love it say: Shyamalan has succeeded in making a period piece, and his trademark twist ending works this time. The audience is guessing the outcome the entire film and when it finally arrives, they’re floored. Shyamalan’s use of color shows his attention to detail and development as a director.
People who hate it say: Shyamalan is a one-trick pony, knowing nothing but twist endings, and the ending to The Village is utterly unbelievable, unrealistic, and ridiculous. God forbid he’d make the monsters terrorizing the villagers real.
My opinion: I don’t get all the Shyamalan hate. His last two movies were horrendous, sure, but he made some great films earlier in his career. The Village is one of them.
People who love it say: It’s a rare type of film that puts life in perspective and shows us that we really should put aside our petty differences to make this world a more enjoyable place. The connection of all the film’s characters is brilliant, and it’s wonderful to see how everything comes together at the end.
People who hate it say: The movie inaccurately presents the concept racism, dressing it up as straightforward issue with zero wiggle room for discussion. It’s melodramatic as hell, and the characters are linked together simply because it seems like a clever thing to do.
My opinion: I hate this movie. Crash was an unrealistic, melodramatic depiction of racism in this country. Of course racism exists, but it’s not as
black and white cut and dry as Crash would have you believe. The film suffers from finding itself quite clever, linking together its characters (a technique that was executed properly and brilliantly in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia) in an unbelievable, far-fetched manner. Plus, presenting the scenes in slow motion coupled with an overly dramatic score doesn’t make the movie good. It makes it pretentious, and the social message about racism is delivered with the subtlety of a jackhammer.
People who love it say: It’s a modern sci-fi masterpiece, exploring the question that guys like Asimov and Dick have been asking for years: just what does it mean to be human?
People who hate it say: It’s long, boring, and the future world of robots and a flooded Manhattan are too bizarre to give the audience any feeling of connection with the characters.
My opinion: I wouldn’t go as far as to call it a masterpiece (had Kubrick gotten his wish and been able to direct it before his death, then maybe – wow, I am really doing a lot of Kubrick fellating today, huh?), but this re-telling of Pinocchio does indeed do a terrific job of evaluating our concepts of life and humanity. And dammit, the beings at the end are robots, not aliens.
People who love it say: It’s a crisp film that is incredibly pleasing not only to the eye, but to the mind as well. Zack Snyder’s direction brings the viewer into the Watchmen universe, and the representation of superheroes is a refreshing and different angle than what we’ve been spoon-fed for years.
People who hate it say: It was unfilmable to begin with and it doesn’t compare with the graphic novel.
My opinion: It’s not fair to compare the movie to the graphic novel – so I won’t – but in any event, this movie sucked. Zack Snyder is all style, no substance, and I just wanted the movie to end so I wouldn’t be stuck watching his cardboard characters gallivanting around in slow motion. A disaster of a film.
I’m pretty sure that nobody is going to agree with me on all 10 of these movies, so if you’re the type that gets worked up over that, go ahead and let me hear it in the comments section!