Sci-Fi & Fantasy’s Most Overrated Movies?

The LA Times has posted the results of their poll to find 2012′s most overrated film. The winner (or loser) was The Avengers, which won by a landslide. Gasp! How did this happen?

But do you agree? Was Joss Whedon’s blockbuster overrated? And how many other films out there are lauded by critics and beloved by audiences, yet leave you cold?

Dave Golder (10-9) and Jayne Nelson (8-1) play Devil’s advocate* and round up more “classics” that could be considered overrated… Warning: unpopular opinions ahead!

Incidentally, feel free to add your own choices in the comments – but remember, they must be universally seen as classics by everybody except you…

(*By “Devil’s advocate” they mean “Don’t send us hate mail.”)

10 The Exorcist

What’s right with it: It’s an elegant horror film that’s played for realism rather than cheap thrills, with an impressive cast who act like they’re doing Gandhi or All’s Quiet On The Western Front rather than a supernatural chiller. Although there is some visceral gore and a few shock moments it relies more on psychological terror, and manages to make “Tubular Bells” sound like the scariest music ever through association (whereas if “Tubular Bells” hadn’t been used in the film it would probably be as scary as lift muzak… oh, hang on…). When it was released in the ’70s it was accompanied by torrid tales of audiences passing out and/or throwing up into their popcorn. It was one of the first horror movies to be taken seriously by mainstream critics and has had a lasting effect on the genre ever since.

Why it’s overrated: Right, let’s get this clear from the outset. We’re not saying The Exorcist is a bad movie, but it is an overrated one. Most viewers coming new to it today wonder what all the fuss was about – were those ’70s audiences all suffering from some mass psychosis? It’s not particularly scary, and the possession make-up on Linda Blair looks faintly silly. Even the famous head-twisting scene comes across like something out of a Punch & Jud show.

The counter argument is that you have to judge it in context: in the ’70s it was new and terrifying. But the mark of a great film is that it remains great even decades later. Stripped of its initial shock factor, The Exorcist remains a well-made horror movie, with some effective moments, but a fairly average one. No amount of po-faced acting can disguise the fact that it drags horrendously in places (all those scenes of scientists and their “logical explanation” pontificating, and priests having metaphysical angst), and feels like a lot of bloated build-up to a climax that can no longer pay off. Whereas films like the original The Haunting and Psycho still scare even today because they are pure psychological horror, The Exorcist was too reliant on effects and movie techniques that date it. For that reason, though it deserves its place in horror history for the phenomenon it became, it falls short of the classic status some would bestow upon it.

Overrated rating: 3/10