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10 ‘fresh’ films that should have received rotten tomatoes

We recently released our list of ‘rotten’ films the critics got wrong, which has prompted plenty of debate, so we figured we’d go in the other direction and slay some sacred cows. These films were all rated ‘fresh’ by review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, but in our humble opinion, each and every one is wildly overrated. Here’s our list of 10 ‘fresh’ films you should steer clear of, along with recommendations on what you should watch instead.

Editor’s note: These choices are, of course, subjective and even some within the DT ranks are divided on a few of these titles as you’ll see below — there’s just no accounting for taste.

Critical opinions pulled from Rotten Tomatoes’ Critics Consensus.

Jurassic World (2015)


Rotten Tomatoes: 72 percent

Reviewers say:Jurassic World can’t match the original for sheer inventiveness and impact, but it works in its own right as an entertaining — and visually dazzling — popcorn thriller.”

We say: Is Jurassic World one of the highest-grossing films in history? Sure. Did it launch Chris Pratt into superstardom? Yep. Are its effects impressive? Absolutely. Is it a good movie? No. No it’s not. Everything about this film that isn’t a carbon copy of the original feels so totally paint-by-numbers that the end product comes off hollow and soulless. Pratt’s down-home, simple-yet-wise raptor trainer feels generic as a hero, and after he spends the first two hours of the film chastising Bryce Dallas Howard for manipulating the natural order of things, he falls for her anyway. Never mind the deadly disaster that she was complicit in causing — or the fact that the two had zero romantic chemistry in the first place — this is movieland, dammit! Of course they have to end up together.

Watch instead: Duh! Jurassic Park (1993).

Editor’s note: Some of us actually found this to be a fun ride. You’ll find an alternate viewpoint here.

Watch them now on Amazon Video:

Jurassic World (2015) Jurassic Park (1993)

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)


Rotten Tomatoes: 92 percent

Reviewers say: Silver Linings Playbook walks a tricky thematic tightrope, but David O. Russell’s sensitive direction and some sharp work from a talented cast gives it true balance.”

We say: We get it. The form mirrors the content. It’s a story about all-over-the-place, mentally troubled people, and thus the narrative itself is helter-skelter. The problem is, as good as that sounds on paper, it doesn’t play well on-screen. Silver Linings Playbook gets top-notch performances from all of its principals, but its story is so disjointed that they get lost in the shuffle — especially during the wacky final act.

Watch instead: Looking for a dramedy about mental illness? Try One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975).

Watch them now on Amazon Video:

Silver Linings Playbook (2012) One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)


Rotten Tomatoes: 90 percent

Reviewers say: “With intelligence and emotional resonance to match its stunning special effects, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes expands on its predecessor with an exciting and ambitious burst of sci-fi achievement.”

We say: The problem with this one is not with the apes, but with the human beings. Whenever the titular simians are off-screen, the film becomes sinfully boring — and they’re off-screen quite a bit. Somewhere, somehow, someone got the idea that the second installment of every franchise/trilogy has to be “the dark one,” and director Matt Reeves seems to have taken that to heart. As the male and female leads, neither Jason Clarke nor Keri Russell display even an ounce of charisma and the film collapses under the weight of the gravitas it so badly wants to have.

Watch instead: Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011): The franchise’s first installment wasn’t quite as well received, but was nonetheless much better.

Editor’s note: For a dissenting opinion on this film, click here.

Watch them now on Amazon Video:

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)


Rotten Tomatoes: 87 percent

Reviewers say: “Visually spectacular and suitably action packed, Star Trek Into Darkness is a rock-solid installment in the venerable sci-fi franchise, even if it’s not as fresh as its predecessor.”

We say: Oh, how we wanted to love this film. Even with all its flaws, we came close, but it’s just much too convoluted and overburdened. Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan should have been a home run, but somehow he feels disconnected from this film, almost as if he were acting in a different movie. Maybe it’s because he has too much star power for his relatively limited role. Or maybe it’s because there are one too many villains — and ideas in general — at work in Star Trek Into Darkness.

Watch instead: Star Trek (2009): Once again, the sequel can’t match the predecessor.

Watch them now on Amazon Video:

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) Star Trek (2009)

Her (2013)


Rotten Tomatoes: 94 percent

Reviewers say: “Sweet, soulful, and smart, Spike Jonze’s Her uses its just-barely-sci-fi scenario to impart wryly funny wisdom about the state of modern human relationships.”

We say: Its premise — lonely man falls in love with sophisticated A.I. interface — is brilliant, but it’s handled in much too somber a fashion. Rather than acknowledging the absurdity of this scenario, Jonze buries it and treats his subject matter far too seriously; so much so, that the film’s attempts to be tender come off vaguely creepy and its attempts to be poignant come off downright silly.

Watch instead: Ex Machina (2015): An Examination of human beings’ relationship with and reliance on technology … minus Joaquin Pheonix’s creepy stache.

Editor’s note: This film also caused dissension in the ranks. Read another take here.

Watch them now on Amazon Video:

Her (2013) Ex Machina (2015)

Dope (2015)


Rotten Tomatoes: 88 percent

Reviewers say: “Featuring a starmaking performance from Shameik Moore and a refreshingly original point of view from writer-director Rick Famuyiwa, Dope is smart, insightful entertainment.”

We say: An off-beat comedy about a ‘90s-hip-hop-obsessed nerd trying to navigate life in the hood sounds … well … dope. Unfortunately, despite the constant nods to an era that many of us at DT never quite let go of, this film never measures up to its titular swag. It boasts a kinetic, infectious sort of energy but it squanders it by bouncing off the walls, rather than focusing on where it’s going. While some have lauded its rough-around-the-edges style as raw/real, it comes off to us as careless and unpolished. Jarring tonal shifts, contrived plotting, and transparently desperate attempts to be cool derail Dope before it can realize its true potential.

Watch instead: Menace II Society (1993), Friday (1995), Juice (1992), or any of the other films this one is trying to re-imagine.

Watch them now on Amazon Video:

Dope (2015) Menace II Society (1993) Friday (1995) Juice (1992)

Macbeth (2015)


Rotten Tomatoes: 80 percent

Reviewers say: “Faithful to the source material without sacrificing its own cinematic flair, Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth rises on the strength of a mesmerizing Michael Fassbender performance to join the upper echelon of big-screen Shakespeare adaptations.”

We say: When it comes to Shakespeare, the words supersede everything else. Unfortunately, director Justin Kurzel spends so much time reveling in the forlorn mistiness of the Scottish countryside, that large swathes of the source material are omitted entirely. On top of that, though Macbeth is undoubtedly Shakespeare’s darkest work, it’s not without its moments of humor/levity (e.g. – the “porter scene”). This adaptation, however, is completely devoid of both and feels too much like a slog through the moors in which it’s set.

Watch instead: The original version of Macbeth (1950): Orson Welles directs and stars as the titular tortured King.

Watch them now on Amazon Video:

Macbeth (2015) Macbeth (1950)

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)


Rotten Tomatoes: 75 percent

Reviewers say: “It’s just as uneven and loosely structured as the first Anchorman — and while Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues may not be quite as quotable, it’s nearly as funny as its predecessor.”

We say: Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy is an indisputable comedy classic, but this sequel is all kinds of awful. There are some yucks early on, but the film goes completely off the rails when Ron goes blind, isolates himself in a lighthouse, and rears and releases a baby shark. Eventually, his sight is restored and he returns to the news desk, but not before the film loses all of its momentum. It’s an idea that probably sounded funny on paper, but misses the mark on-screen. Like many a sequel before it, this one suffers from trying to do everything its predecessor did, only bigger, better, and (in this case) funnier. Unfortunately, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is a classic case of subtraction by addition.

Watch instead: Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004): They’ve done studies ya know? Sixty percent of the time, it works every time.

Watch them now on Amazon Video:

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)

Slow West (2015)


Rotten Tomatoes: 93 percent

Reviewers say:Slow West serves as an impressive calling card for first-time writer-director John M. Maclean — and offers an inventive treat for fans of the Western.”

We say: When a cliche is turned on its head often enough, the anti-cliche becomes the new normal. Slow West makes a grand show of bucking western conventions, but it seems to be suffering from a fundamental misunderstanding of what those actually are. The film’s strategy is to set up a sweet and tender fairytale, and then pull the curtain back to reveal the cold and unforgiving American West. Problem is, the audience knows it’s there all along, and thus the big reveal falls flat. Stylistic novelties notwithstanding, you’ve seen this movie before.

Watch instead: 3:10 to Yuma (2007): A tighter, punchier delivery of the same cynical message.

Watch them now on Amazon Video:

Slow West (2015) 3:10 to Yuma (2007)

Spy (2015)


Rotten Tomatoes: 94 percent

Reviewers say: “Simultaneously broad and progressive, Spy offers further proof that Melissa McCarthy and writer-director Paul Feig bring out the best in one another — and deliver scores of belly laughs along the way.”

We say: A transparent and nondescript star vehicle, we’ve all seen at least 100 movies that are just like Spy — including a few from McCarthy herself. The comedian’s charm seems to have rendered many critics unable to call a spade a spade, but this feels like a pretty lazy effort all around. From its one-word title, to its cliched plot, to its loosely-edited action, it plays like a film churned out as quickly as possible, in effort to capitalize on its lead’s popularity.

Watch instead: Bridesmaids (2011): A far more inspired Paul Feig/Melissa McCarthy collaboration.

Watch them now on Amazon Video:

Spy (2015) Bridesmaids (2011)

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