Friday, August 18, 2017

Against the Crowd Blogathon 2017

Yes, it is time once again for Dell on Movies and KG's Movie Rants's Annual Against the Crowd Blogathon! And I have to say, while I adore this blogathon, it gets harder and harder to do every year, because I generally don't see movies that get bad reviews - life is too short and funds are too scarce to waste on bad movies, y'all.

BUT! I persevere. I do it for you, dear reader. And, I mean, I also do it for me, because I like writing these, but...

This seems to have gotten away from me. ANYWAY. To the business at hand!

In case you somehow don't know what this blogathon is, go here, or read on. The basic idea is to rip apart a movie that "everyone" loves (75% or better on Rotten Tomatoes), and defend a movie that "everyone" hates (35% or worse on Rotten Tomatoes). So here I go, ready to tear to shreds...


For what it's worth, I didn't hate this completely. For the first three-quarters, it's a masterpiece of escalating tension. We watch a family of three in a post-apocalyptic world euthanize the grandfather of the family unit (surmising that he has succumbed to whatever disease infected most of the world), go about their daily lives trying to just make it to the next day alive, and then deal with a younger man foraging for food and shelter for his wife and young son. They decide to grant this new family shelter, and for a while they get along just fine. But then, the movie so epically shits the bed that I ended up wondering what the whole point was, other than "People Are Awful". It moves from a tension-filled dark fable to an exercise in miserablism in the stroke of a single plot point, and even reading interviews where Shults said he came up with the story after the death of a close family member didn't do anything to make me see the movie in a different light. Why choose to tell THIS story in this way? It doesn't make sense. And neither do the great reviews.

And also, if you call your film It Comes At Night, maybe, I don't know... SOMETHING SHOULD FUCKING COME AT FUCKING NIGHT.

But anyway, if that offended you, prepare yourself, because I'm about to defend...


For what it's worth, I don't think this is some unheralded masterpiece of cinema or anything. I just think it got a lot more flack than it deserved. A lot of people took issue with the fact that movie centers around Chris Pratt's decision to wake up Jennifer Lawrence against her will (because he somehow falls in love with her just by looking at her and reading about her), and then lies to her about it for a long while. But the thing is, he doesn't make that decision lightly, and the movie gives great weight to his decision - and never lets him off the hook for it, either.

Once you're able to put that aside (and I really don't think it takes very much to do so), Passengers is a slick slice of classic Hollywood sci-fi escapism. It's beautiful to look at and listen to, and requires almost no work from your brain. It may not be a GREAT movie, or even a really good one. But it's pretty far from what I would call terrible. The expensive-looking production design and visual effects and combined charisma of Lawrence and Pratt elevate it from merely passable to good. I enjoyed it a whole lot more than I ever thought I was going to based on the reviews, from critics and movie fans alike.

And there you have it! I'm not swimming too hard against the crowd here (I rate both of them 2.5-3 stars out of five), but what can I say? Recently, I've pretty much been with the consensus. These were the two most notable exceptions I could think of.


  1. I missed It Comes At Night in theaters but that's the same thing I see everywhere, that nothing came. lol. I've lowered my expectations.

    I haven't seen Passengers either but I kind of want to for the lolz.

    1. It Comes At Night was so disappointing because Shults's first feature Krisha was stunning, and this is REALLY good for the first half, but the denouement is just flat out TERRIBLE.

      Passengers really isn't bad. Just kinda generic.

  2. Oooohh, I'll be watching both soon. Can't wait to see if I agree. Thanks for joining us once more. If it helps make it easier, I'm considering lowering at least one of the thresholds for next year's version.

    1. I look forward to seeing what you think!

      YES PLEASE!! I REALLY wanted to a massive take-down of the live action Beauty & the Beast but it fell JUST beneath the RT threshold - and a few of the ones I wanted to on the other side of the equation are, like two points too high.

  3. Passengers isn't as bad as people make it out to be. I didn't love it and I have problems with it, but it's not awful.

  4. I actually really enjoyed Passengers. I thought Pratt was a great leading man and does something similar to what Tom Hanks did in Castaway. He manages to hold the screen without every becoming boring. I really enjoyed it. Didn't think this film was rated so poorly or I actually would have chosen it as my entry.

    I haven't watched It Comes at Night but I agree, something better come at night hahaha. Based on this post I think I'll give it a miss.

    Thanks for joining in the fun :)

    1. RIGHT?!? I mean, he's not Oscar-worthy or anything, but he's damn good, and his performance alone makes the film a lot less worthy of the scorn it received because of the plotline.

      I mean, I think It Comes At Night is definitely worth a watch. Had it ended ten or so minutes earlier, it would have been much better and still had a downer ending. But instead they had to go and ruin it.

      Thanks for co-hosting!!

  5. I have to be honest and say I never even remotely considered It Comes at Night despite liking Joel Edgerton because it just didn't read like my sort of film but it's nice to know I'm not missing a damn thing.

    I liked Passengers. It was visually beautiful and very impressive and in the theatre did provide several "Oh Wow" moments. I thought the major pivot of the plot that caused so much controversy had valid points on both sides but what bothered me most was that Jennifer Lawrence seemed checked out on the whole enterprise. I like her and she is capable of being compelling but in this it felt like she was letting Chris Pratt do all the heavy lifting. Still I didn't get all the scorn thrown its way.

    By the way Dell very kindly let me do a guest post over on his blog I'd love to know what you think of the two I chose. :-)

    1. Passengers is easily Lawrence's worst non-franchise performance - there's no real personality to her Aurora at all (the script doesn't help, but she certainly doesn't add anything). Which is a shame, because both she and Pratt glow with movie star charisma. I wonder what someone like Rebecca Hall or Andrea Riseborough, who are both great at bringing personality to under-written parts, would have done with the character.

      I still think It Comes At Night is worth a watch. It's really the ending that ruins it. End it at the climax and it's a much better film.

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